Archive for October, 2007

A taste of things to come.

In case you don’t know, I’m an anime fan. Recently I saw the Mobile Suit Gundam movies. Not Gundam SEED, not Gundam Wing, but Gundam. The one that started the whole thing. Since Gundam is pretty retro– the TV series dates back to 1979 –I’m going to be reviewing all three movies sometime in the future. There’s a lot of info to soak up, so I’m going to watch them a few more times first.

Anyway, after I do that, I’ve got something else up my sleeve that is perhaps a bit more interesting. I’m going to take Gundam and Star Wars and see how they match up. Might seem like an unlikely comparison, but the parallels between them are not easily overlooked.

Stay tuned! I’ve got plenty of other nerdy stuff planned in the meantime.

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Peanuts taste good.

I feel like rambling about random stuff instead of doing a full-fledged article-style post. I dunno if this experiment will be a success, but what the hell. I’m bored, okay? Cut me some slack.

Well, the first thing I’ll mention is that I couldn’t find the re-release of Poltergeist. Granted, I only looked at this crappy small-town Wal-Mart and not at my beloved Hastings like usual, but still. However, while browsing the DVD aisles hoping maybe a copy of it would magically appear, I came across something just as good: the Peanuts holiday specials box set. For 20 bucks. Which is the best price I’ve ever seen for it. (God bless you and your low, low prices, Wal-Mart.) Since I’ve been wanting to buy it for years, but could never justify shelling out the ridiculous amounts of cash most places were asking for it, I decided to put off Poltergeist for a couple of weeks and buy this gem instead.

So, having nothing to do today, I watched all three of the DVDs in the set. I’m actually pretty impressed with the releases, barebones as they are. You can hardly tell that the Christmas and Halloween specials are 40 years old. The picture and sound are quite nice.

Watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was almost like a whole new experience. Apparently, all these years they’ve been editing stuff out of it, and I never even knew about it. There was at least five minutes’ worth of stuff in there that I’d never seen before. I had it recorded back in the 80s, but I think parts of it were cut off due to editing out the commercials and stuff. So getting a big dose of nostalgia while at the same time seeing something new was a lot of fun.

Anyway, even though it cost me 20 of my precious dollars, I’m really glad I bought this, because I haven’t seen these specials in years and I never manage to catch them on television. They come when you’re not expecting them and are gone before you know what happened. Kinda like ninjas. Ninjas that drag around a blue security blanket.

Also, it just feels…wrong watching them on ABC as opposed to CBS. That’s nerdy, I know, but I think we’ve established the fact that I’m one of the nerdiest people on the planet when it comes to retro crap. Admittedly, it felt a little weird watching them on DVD too, and the absence of the famous “CBS Special Presentation” logo is most certainly felt. Also missing is the logo for the local CBS affiliate and the little map of Oklahoma in the corner that showed weather warnings. If I could somehow score copies of these specials on VHS that included all that stuff plus commercial breaks, I think I could die happy.

Here’s where I change topics by making a confession: I am a huge nerd. No really, I am. I collect old station IDs, bumpers, promos, commercials, eyecatches, and the like. I also collect some production logos– those logos you see at the end of shows, like “DiC” and stuff. My videos folder has 142 files in it; 99% of them are this kind of stuff. I have station IDs from places I’ve never been to, some from before I was even born.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term “station ID”, I’ll explain briefly. The FCC requires television stations to identify themselves at least once per hour, providing their call letters (KOCO, KFOR, etc) and city. In the 70s and 80s, there were a lot of independent TV stations that had their own identities: slogans, logos, jingles, and animations, which were incorporated into their station IDs.

I don’t really know why I became so fascinated by them. Maybe because they’re a lost art. Some older ones use a technique called slit-scan animation that fell out of use with the rise of CGI. It has major retro-cool factor. Some of them are great examples of early CGI, and when I look at them I think, “Wow, they could do this stuff back then?”

Or maybe it’s because some of my earliest memories are of that kind of thing.

Now, I’ve always liked 80s stuff a whole lot, and I started getting nostalgic for my early childhood when I was still in high school. But then I kinda forgot about it for a while, until one day about two years ago, when I was puttering around on the internet and got linked to retrojunk.com. I was poking around in the videos section and came across something that had been stuck in the back of my mind since I was two years old: CBS’s Saturday morning bumpers for the 1984-1985 season.

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Watch them here. I command it!

When I saw those again, I got all emotional and watched the video about a zillion times while wondering how in the hell I managed to remember something so seemingly insignificant for so many years.

And that’s what started this whole obsession with retro stuff. So now you know.

I actually have been planning to write about some of these IDs and logos that I hold so dear, and now that I’ve got my secret out in the open, it should be a lot easier to do so. Be on the lookout for it pretty soon.

I’m heeeeere.

Well, it’s been over a month since I last wrote anything, so I think it’s about time to crack down and stop wasting my time. Because everybody knows that writing on the internet about pop culture of the past is serious business.

Anyway, I think it appropriate that I finally write about one of my favorite horror movies of the 80s and of all time. (Actually, it’s one of the only horror movies I like and can take seriously, but that’s beside the point.) Now’s a great time to do so because not only is it Halloween season, but very recently, it saw a much-needed re-release on DVD to commemorate its 25th anniversary.

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If you couldn’t guess it from the above image, you’ve been living under a rock. I’m talking about Poltergeist, the movie that scared the living shit out of a whole generation of kids, including myself. I saw this movie when I was young and I’m telling you, it fucked me up. I had nightmares for nigh a month.

So how did I come to love a movie that I was terrified of? Because I forced myself to watch it in order to finally conquer that fear, and in doing so discovered that it’s a brilliant piece of cinema, and chock full of retro stuff to boot. It did leave an impression on me, though: I’m terrified of snow or dead air on a television to this day.
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