Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!


I've got to take the kids out begging for candy and have no time to be dashingly clever today, so please enjoy this short, poor-quality video. It's a live rendition of the Misfits classic, Halloween, from 1983 along with the bonus song, Bullet. Heading up the mic is a very young Glenn Danzig not singing about your mother. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Off the Rack

Electronic Games - Nov. '83 - Porn Not Included
Back when we were teens, my best friend and I used to sneak into my big brother's room when he wasn't around and rummage though his smutty magazines, mostly Playboy and Penthouse because those were considered classy (he even had the one with Vanessa Williams)! Of course being the crafty kids that we were, we knew we had to somehow disguise our fap-mags in case my mother happened to wake up from her out-of-sight-out-of-mindedness and stopped to ask us what nefarious schemes we were up to. The easiest trick, of course and known to all kids everywhere, was to slip another, more benign magazine's cover over the skin-rags thereby camouflaging them from prying judgemental eyes. There were quite a few varieties around to choose from as magazines were plentiful and still roamed the land in great herds - you see it was the 80s and there was nothing else to do but read by candlelight or play Trivial Pursuit. But just any old magazine wouldn't do since something like People or Newsweek was still likely to be picked up by an unsuspecting adult for his or her personal perusal, at which point, the proverbial jig would be up and we'd be sent to Catholic school as punishment. Luckily, I had one magazine on hand that always drove grown-ups away en masse and caused panic-sweats in the technologically shy. The magazine was called Electronic Games (not to be confused with the later publication, Electronic Gaming Monthly) and it was the perfect prop for our playmate purposes. It was an easy matter to pop the binding and slip that cover with some dork playing Space Invaders over the image of whatever scantily clad young lady that was being featured in that month's Playboy and thus grant us safety from any inquiring elders. We used this little trick for years and eventually, the name "Electronic Games" became synonymous to me and my friends with bare naked ladies sporting staples across their bellies. Ah, the salad days. Years later karma would get the best of me when I'd discovered that my mother had recklessly thrown away my entire collection of tech mags, which I was quite fond of. I'm still bummed about that.

Electronic Games magazine was created in 1981 by the publishers of Video Magazine, Bill Kunkel and Arnie Katz, just when the first video game boom was beginning the America. As the first monthly periodical to feature video and computer games as its central topic, Electronic Games quickly became the de facto standard for stats, reviews and exclusive announcements until the end of its run in 1994. Thankfully, the wonderful and increasingly-relevant Internet Archive now hosts nearly the entire collection of issues and has made it available to anyone who'd like to relive the early years of video game publications. Want to find out which home gaming platform had the best version of Pole Position, Joust or Mr.Do? Well then put your time-travel helmet on and click the link…


Friday, October 25, 2013

8-Bit Tattoo Roundup Numero Dos

Well it's that time again and I've got a whole new batch of 8-bit/gamer tattoos for you to enjoy. Check 'em out, maybe you'll get inspired! Have a good weekend and I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

An Even Longer Time Ago...

Back in 1974, a young George Lucas, who was still feeling the high from his Best Director nomination for 1973's American Graffiti, had just completed his first draft of a film about space knights and starships called The Star Wars. You know how the story goes, Kane Starkiller and his sons Deak and Annikin all live on the fourth moon of Utapau but after a Sith Knight attack, they escape their self-imposed exile and return to their home world of Aquilae where the wise King Kayos and Queen Breha rule the galaxy. OK so that's not the Star Wars most people know, but it is the story featured in Lucas' first draft of what would eventually become Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, which we all know is really just called Star Wars. In fact, if you refer to the original trilogy by their correct titles, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, thereby excising the Roman numerals, you can then neatly ignore the F**KING AWFUL prequel series and you're back to just episodes one, two and three. No Jar J.J...just the classics. Wow, sorry for the rant. So anyway, Dark Horse Comics, known for having produced the Alien Vs. Predator series, which also lead to two F**KING AWFUL movies, just released the first comic books, sorry graphic novels, from their adaptation of the 1974 Star Wars rough draft. I've read the first book already and the differences are notable. It's an interesting story with a lot more talky talky than the original trilogy. In fact, it sort of resembles the prequels and…crap. Oh well, I'm enjoying it so far. Check out the video I lifted from an NBC affiliate, it explains everything nicely from the point of view of people who don't know jack about what they're reporting on.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rubik-esque Art

Can you solve a Rubik's Cube? Me neither and I've been playing with the damned thing since 1980 and I'm ready to call it a day. But instead of throwing it against a brick wall and watching the colors fly, why not repurpose the frustrating geometry device into a tool for artistic expression? That's what Toronto, Canada's CubeWorks group has done and with great success. Utilizing the pieces of disassembled Rubik's Cubes, as well as delving into other mediums such as Lego bricks, dice and crayons, CubeWorks has created numerous works which can be seen in museums and galleries around the world. Earlier this year (2013) they even made it into the Guinness Book of World's Records with a portrait of the Macau skyline which took 85,794 seperate Rubik's Cubes to create! Check out some of their works and stop by their site if you get a chance, it's definitely worth a look.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blazing Bart

21 years ago today, actor Cleavon Little passed away at age 53 after having lost the battle with colon cancer. While he was featured in many films, plays and musicals during his lifetime, it's still amazing to think that this Julliard-trained thespian's best-known role was that of Sheriff Bart in Mel Brooks' classic comedy, Blazing Saddles (a role which was originally meant to go to Richard Pryor). The world is a strange place. Check out the video.

Monday, October 21, 2013

ColecoVision Reborn

Is shag carpet back in yet? Someone go find a hipster and let me know.
A new Kickstarter project concerning something very dear to my heart has just surfaced. The same group that released the excellent Vectrex Regeneration last year has taken on the task of bringing the retrospectacular ColecoVision console to the mobile gaming community and they need your help. For those of you who need a refresher, the ColecoVision was introduced in August of 1982 as the ultimate Atari and Intellivision-killer -- and it almost succeeded until the Great Video Game Crash of 1983 made short work of the entire industry. At the time of its release, the system was way ahead of its competitors offering near-arcade quality graphics, arcade-style super-controllers and, via a seperate expansion unit, cross-platform compatibility with its greatest nemesis, the Atari 2600. The party was short-lived, however, and the system was discontinued in 1985, just three years before Coleco would file for bankruptcy and right around the same time that a little Japanese company, called Nintendo, decided to reinvent the home gaming market for a new generation with something they called the NES. But thanks to the folks at RantMedia Games, who happen to be huge ColecoVision fans, it looks like you'll soon be able to relive those totally tubular memories right in the palm of your hand. For more info check out the video and the link. (Special thanks to Cheryl for tipping me off on this awesome project!)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mad Ducketts: Stadium Events for NES

Worth more than you.
Here it is, the extremely rare NTSC version of Bandai's Stadium Events NES cartridge complete in box and worth a fortune sitting right there on eBay for a whopping $75,000 (or "best offer" lol, yeah how about a trade for my old Xbox? A whole game system for one measly cart, that's totally fair!). For those of you not in the know, Bandai's Stadium Events was a game released in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System and one of only two officially licensed North American games to support the use of the Family Fun Fitness accessory, later purchased by Nintendo and reintroduced as the PowerPad. The rarity of this game stems from the fact that very few units were produced to begin with (something like 2,000) and those that made it out to the public (around 200 or so) were only sold during the 1987 holiday season and only at a few select retailers. Thus, Bandai's Stadium Events has earned the distinction of being the rarest licensed Nintendo cartridge available for purchase in North America with only about 20 complete copies verified to exist, two of which are actually still sealed. Don't have $75,000 to drop on the game right now? No worries, the NES Rarity Guide sets the max value of the game at $38,000 so you might try and lowball the seller. Good luck!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Something, Something, Something in Cincinnati

Unemployed people.
Way back in the year nineteen-hundred-and-seventy-eight, an awesome little TV show about a rock and roll radio station in Cincinnati hit the airwaves and subsequently made me want to be a DJ when I grew up. Until I found out what they got paid. WKRP in Cincinnati ran for only four seasons but it garnered a lot of respect and attention due to its excellent ensemble cast and hilarious writing, and also because of it use of real rock music within the narrative of the show which, at the time, was unprecedented. It's even been said that the exposure Blondie's music received by being played on the show helped propel the song, Heart of Glass, to the top of the charts. In fact, a gold record given to the producers of the show by Blondie as a thank you can be seen hanging on the wall of one of the sets. Even the catchy title track, co-written by series creator, Hugh Wilson, became a major hit on the radio in 1981.

But what about that song they played over the closing credits? Have you ever really listened to the lyrics? Well try as you might it's nigh impossible to make out what's being said, even with all of our modern technology, and that's because the lyrics are mostly nonsense. Apparently the original demo of the song contained improvised gibberish by the song's performer, Jim Ellis, which was to eventually be replaced with a saxophone line, as his singing on the recording was actually just the product of his joking around in the studio. However when Wilson heard the track, he immediately loved it and decided to keep the garbled words for the final cut, partly because it satirized the often unintelligible lyrics of rock and roll songs, but also because he knew few people would even be able to make the words out due to the common practice of having a station announcer speak over the end credits. Thus much like Louie, Louie before it, the lyrics of WKRP's closing theme became the subject of much speculation and misinterpretation over the years, although most viewers never realized that there was no definitive lyric sheet for the hard-driving rocker. Check out the videos for a few of the of the funnier attempts at deciphering Jim Ellis' mumbo-jumbo.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is That A Sega In Your Pocket Or...?

Severed hand not included.

Time to get your Sega on with these awesome little pocket consoles from oddball Japanese retro-games-maker, AtGames. Just plug the Nano Arcade into your TV like any other game system and choose from 10 different classic Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive games to play. Officially, there are seven unique versions, each with its own set of games, however in the U.S., there are only 3 currently available. Our friends over at ThinkGeek have the Virtua Fighter edition (Virtua Fighter 2, Shinobi III, Golden Axe, Golden Axe III, Alien Storm, Snake, Spider, Bottle Tops Race, Bomber, Hexagons) and the Columns edition (Columns, Columns III, Flicky, Arrow Flash, Dr. Robotnik’s, Cross the Road, Plumbing Contest, Maze 2010, Jewel Magic, Fish Tank Live) for a measly $12.99 while Amazon adds a third option to their lineup with the Sonic the Hedgehog edition (Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, Air Hockey, Cannon, Checker, Fight or Lose, Naval Power) starting at a whopping $49.99. Yikes! These things are getting hard to find so if you want one, you'd better get on it. Check out this crazy Russian video for more info. Why's it in Russian? Because it was the only review on YouTube that wasn't 40 frickin' minutes long, that's why! And for the love of God, people, turn down your microphones when you record!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

404 Treasure Not Found

Mages and bards and elves, oh my!

Usually when I click on a link that leads me to a 404 "page not found," I feel a little tiny hint of frustration well up in the depths of my psyche as I read whatever funny little message the sysop decided to adorn the 404 with. Well the other day I hit one again trying to find something on GameStop's site but this time, I actually felt a smile come on as the page offered up the consolation prize of a little rogue-like maze crawling game for me to play. It's nothing extraordinary but it was a nice change from the usual static pages I usually end up on. Props to the internet for actually surprising this jaded old blogger! Kudos!

Monday, October 14, 2013

When Toasters Fly

A flying toaster.
Back in 1996 I was hanging around a little mom and pop computer shop in Indianapolis with my buddy Pete, who worked there at the time. Pete was a great guy and knew a ton about computers of all kinds, but he was sort of a dick too, and he had little time for people who didn't want to listen to him muse about technology. Well, this particular day, as we were shooting the breeze about who knows what --- it was 1996 so we were probably bitching about how much AOL sucked --- a young couple walked into the otherwise empty store and started looking around the place. They were both blond, well-tanned and well-primped; probably college students out shopping on a pleasant summer day. That's what I saw. Pete, on the other hand, saw a couple of non-geeks (muggles) who, at worst, were going to waste his precious slacking-off time and at best, provide him with some fodder with which he could amuse himself (he ended up going with the latter). Eventually, after wandering aimlessly around for a bit, the couple made their way towards the counter where Pete and I were both standing. They briefly looked my way before directing their attention to Pete and asked him where they could find some screen-savers. I remember Pete stoically blinking at them for a couple of seconds as the snarkyness was no doubt building up inside of him.
As I said, it was 1996 and a lot of folks were just starting to purchase their first internet-ready, multimedia computer, although most really didn't know what to do with these veritable powerhouses of machinery sitting on their desks besides use them to check their Prodigy mail. So, they went to computer stores and bought screen-savers. Now this particular computer store that Pete worked in only handled hardware and, in fact, had no software of any kind to sell, and this of course, made Buffy and Blake, who were staring blankly from across the counter, look even more ridiculous to him. So Pete informed them that yes, the store did have screen-savers and not only that, but that they had the BEST screen-saver of all! He motioned to the computer next to the cash register and asked them if they'd like to see it. The couple's eyes lit up as they looked at each other in glee, "Sure!' they both answered and they quickly scooted up behind Pete's counter to see this amazing screen-saver in action. Pete gestured towards the computer as they stared wide-eyed at the beige, 14-inch CRT monitor and switched it off. The screen went blank as the sound of static electricity fizzled away. It took the couple a second or two of staring at the powered-off display to realize that they'd been duped and once they did, I could clearly see the look of "well, screw you" on their faces as they silently left the store to find a salesperson who wasn't such a prick. Ah, Pete, you big jerk.
Anyway, in celebration of screen-savers, here's a video showing off nearly every module made for the original titan of the genre, After Dark, including the flying toasters. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Doctor Who Found in Africa

Patrick Troughton as The Second Doctor.

The BBC just announced that nine missing episodes of the classic British Sci-Fi series, Doctor Who starring Patrick Troughton, have been discovered in Africa and have been made available to the public for the first time since their original airing in 1967 and 1968. The episodes have been made available via iTunes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nintendo Still Hates Atari

Good clean fun, or a vicious theft of someone's intellectual property?
OK, so that post title is a bit misleading, but it's based on fact. Well, based on speculation, anyway. What happened is this: Likely inspired by the huge number of incredible Atari 2600 homebrew games hitting the retro-gamer's market, a developer, oh let's call him Bingo, decides to put his coding skills and creativity to the test and designs an excellent version of Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. for the long-defunct Atari 2600 gaming console sneakily titled, Princess Rescue. Obviously a lot of time and care had gone into this project as Bingo managed to faithfully recreate many of the now-iconic elements of the classic platformer on a 1970s machine that had about a tenth of the power of the NES --- the familiar music, the red overalls, even the spritely little tune that we all know so well (and gets stuck in my head all the time) are all there in some form or another. Bingo even produced a classically-styled cartridge, manual and box to go along with this amazing little collection of bits and bytes.
Sales of the game were handled through and seemed to be going splendidly until one day, a few months later *POOF* Princess Rescue was suddenly nowhere to be found in the AtariAge store. The retro-gaming forums were soon running wild with speculation and theories as to why this game was no longer available. Although it was never verified, the consensus seems to be that Nintendo's lawyers sent a cease and desist to AtariAge and Bingo, immediately and unintentionally boosting the game to Super-Duper-Rare status. So Super-Duper-Rare, in fact, that there's a copy on eBay that, as of this writing, is going for $250 US. It seems pretty ridiculous that a gaming company as huge as Nintendo is even aware of the existence of Princess Rescue let alone feels threatened enough by it to take legal action. Perhaps if Nintendo spent as much time actually releasing games for their new Wii-U system instead of picking on a niche community of retro-gaming enthusiasts, they might actually have a chance of becoming a relevant player in the console world again. For those of you who've never seen the game in action, check out the video and get ready to be impressed...and then sad because you will NEVER, EVER GET TO PLAY IT!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Legal Retro-Gaming with Retrode 2

Retro-gaming: Now with less felony!

Playing retro games on your PC, Mac or Linux box just got a little easier and a whole lot more legal. The Retrode 2 lets you avoid the gray areas involved with obtaining potentially-ilicit videogame ROMS for your software emulator by letting you use your own, legally-owned SNES or Sega Genesis carts instead. Check out the specs:

  • Cartridge slots for Sega Genesis/MD and Nintendo SNES/SFC games. Access ROM (program/data) and SRAM (savegames)! Custom-made connectors of video game quality.
  • 2×2 ports for Sega and SNES controllers.
  • USB 2.0 Full-Speed composite device for driverless operation under any OS, using any emulator.
  • Easy to use, configure and update.
  • Expandable using plug-in adapters (Sega Master System, GameBoy and N64).
  • Made in Germany.
  • Dimensions and weight: 162mm x 80mm x 42mm, 200g (6.4″ x 3.2″ x 1.7″, 0.4lbs)
  • Includes USB cable and instruction sheet. Suggested retail price: EUR 65 / USD 85.

The Retrode 2 even includes built-in controller ports so you can play all of your old favorites the way they were meant to be instead of using some flimsy stick from Gravis or CH Products (honk if you remember either of those guys!). The unit sells for about $85 and you can find out more about ordering one by visiting their website:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mazes and Monsters

Splash. No, wait. Bachelor Party. Yes, I'd say Bachelor Party has always been my favorite film starring the great American actor, Tom Hanks. Replete with exotic dancers, pill-popping donkeys and of course Tawny Kitaen, Bachelor Party has easily got to be the finest showcase ever created for the Gump-talking, Oscar-winning, A-list superstar. That is, until I remembered this little gem of a turd called Mazes and Monsters.

You see, a long, long time ago, studying at MSU, there was a 16 year-old, drug-addicted, clinically depressed, child prodigy named James Dallas Egbert III who, in 1979, decided to take his own life in the steam tunnels under his school. When the suicide didn't take, the kid flipped out and fled the campus, ultimately making his way to Louisiana, after which he attempted to kill himself a second time before succeeding on the third. I'm not going to retell the entire story as you can just read that here: James Dallas Egbert III on Wikipedia, however suffice it to say that the kid's apparent disappearance was never adequately explained to the public and instead, a theory put forth by an investigator was erroneously recirculated by the press which eventually became the de facto answer to the mystery. The theory held that since James had played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) back in high school, he must have entered the school's steam tunnels during a live-action version of the game and somehow gotten lost. In fact, the investigator later discovered James living in New Orleans but as a favor to him, promised he would never reveal his true fate, and thus everyone would go on to believe that the boy was just an unfortunate casualty of an evil, evil game.
Now, never let it be said that Americans can't find great opportunity in a terrible tragedy because a couple of years after the incident in the MSU steam tunnels, novelist Rona Jaffe decided to set pen to paper and create a story based upon the theories and myths that had sprung up around James' disappearance, not knowing, of course, the boy's true fate. Her book was called Mazes and Monsters, in reference to the game that was supposedly to blame, and it garnered her a bit of attention in the wake of the moral panic over role-playing games that was beginning to take hold in the U.S. in the early 1980s.
One year after Jaffe's book was published, the inevitable cheese-ball TV adaptation (starring a budding young actor named Tom "Houston, we have a problem" Hanks) was produced by CBS, and served as a further warning to nervous parents everywhere about the unknown dangers of these twisted and demonic fantasy games. Ironically, CBS would go on to produce the successful Dungeons & Dragons children's cartoon series one year later.
Since I hadn't seen the original flick since its first airing in '82, I decided to rewatch as much of it as I could stomach, and folks, I'm delighted to say that it is gloriously bad. Like Refer Madness bad. Keep on scrolling to watch a clip of Tom Hanks have a psychological freak-out in the face of an imaginary Gorn-like creature deep in the bowels of a paper maché cave, or you can watch the entire movie if you like. Pick your poison!