Thursday, August 29, 2013

Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Some of my younger friends may not be familiar with this time in history.  It was a different time  ...

When the end of a TV show came, you read the credits on a full-size screen while in the background played music specifically arranged for you to listen to during the showing of these end credits.  Although most of the time a local or network announcer would do a voiceover on top of the music.

There were big places full of flashing lights called video arcades, where the big, freestanding machines were about the size of a fridge, and it took one quarter to play them.  I saw guys whose hands had blisters from the knob at the end of the  Pac-Man joystick.

There was an amalgamation of countries collectively called "the Russkies" or "the Reds" and they wanted to bomb us off the planet.  Or, as in the 1984 film Red Dawn,  they wanted to invade & take us over.

And perhaps most amazingly, there was cable TV -- more channels than you could ever imagine -- perhaps thirty channels!  One of them was called "MTV," and -- get this -- they played music videos!

As my friend Thomas said, "These fragments I have shored against my ruins."

These songs remind me of the GOOD PARTS of those bygone days:

01.   MTV Theme “Man on the Moon” - Jonathan Elias; John Petersen (0:55)
02.   I Think I'm in Love - Eddie Money (3:10)
03.   We Belong - Pat Benatar (3:43)
04.   Addicted to Love - Robert Palmer (4:06)
05.   Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel (4:51)
06.   Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads (4:10)
07.   The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun - Julie Brown (4:42)
08.   Message of Love - The Pretenders (3:27)
09.   Turning Japanese - The Vapors (3:48)
10.   Theme from “The Greatest American Hero” - Joey Scarbury (3:16)
11.   Roll Over Beethoven (album version) - Electric Light Orchestra (8:11)
12.   Hold Me - Fleetwood Mac (3:47)
13.   Shakin’ - Eddie Money (3:11)
14.   The Warrior - Patty Smyth and Scandal (3:59)
15.   Words - Missing Persons (4:31)
16.   Shadows of the Night - Pat Benatar (3:40)
17.   Mickey - Toni Basil (3:39)
18.   Mexican Radio - Wall of Voodoo (4:12)
19.   Walk Like an Egyptian - The Bangles (3:25)
20.   Shock the Monkey - Peter Gabriel (3:57)

And you may now dive into the time capsule.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Welcome to the Fortress of Markitude! #4

NOTE:  all of these pictures were taken a few years ago when the place was less cluttered.  All text is in the present tense anyway.

             Here we will travel along one wall of the Fortress, beginning with the back of the entrance door. 

            This Superman figure was picked up at a thrift store before I started living in them.  He’s stitched together pretty cheaply with a screen-printed face.  He’s got no tags or identifying labels.  This was probably part of a lot of hundreds of “toys” that were illicitly manufactured in bulk somewhere and destined to be prizes at carnivals or some such.

             The name placard dangling around ole Supes’s neck has an interesting history.  It hails from April 1987, when NOSFA (the Norman Oklahoma Science Fiction Association) held its first convention, a one-day affair on April 18, called PseudoCon.  I quote from The STAR OKC Chronicles:  On April 18, NOSFA holds its first PseudoCon, aided by STARs Claire Stephens, Mike Hodge, Syd Henderson, Larry Nemecek, “Mike” [actually Mark] Alfred, and later STAR Karen Dorrell. One of the day’s highlights is a panel, “The Ersatz Vulcan vs. the Reel McCoy,” in which Mark A. as Spock and Larry N. as McCoy indulge in an hour’s worth of verbal wrangling and blustering.

            This placard hung around my neck, and Larry Nemecek’s said of course “Larry Nemecek ‘McCoy’,” or something in that vein.  I can still remember how long it took for the spirit gum (holding my latex ear tips on) to dry.  Good ol’ Larry stood behind me in the Student Union bathroom waving a hair dryer at my ears for a while.

            Above the door (on which you can see stuffed Superman hanging) are a series of plastic lunchboxes.  The blue one on the left is from Star Trek: TNG and the rest are Super-related.

            Blocking the bottom half of the Superman doll thing is one of those bouncing saucer things.  It’s a plastic ring, in the middle of which is an inflatable ball just like a smaller version of those red textured-rubber dodge balls we had in grade school.  The ring is sitting on top of a couple of metal file-card drawers, sitting on a metal file cabinet that contained mss. of various songs, poems, novels-in-progress (only one completed but with rejection letter), and other writings.

            On the wall above all this is a plate shelf with various Star Trek and Super plates.  That lime-green thing is an inflatable carnival-type prize, bearing clip art from Superman: The Animated Series.

            The books in the shelves in the middle ground are from when I had my books dis-integrated -- that is, grouped separately as “Mysteries,” “Media,” and general stuff.  You can tell the category by a couple of the spines (recognizably DC Archives) that you can spot with your eagle eyes.

            Now, at the center of the tallest shelf you can see the yellow front of a stuffed dog in a super costume.


            This is a photo of one of these little guys for sale.  Now, mine has no tag, but is otherwise the same.  It’s a promo for the Mighty Dog brand dog food, from the 1980s.  One of my drivers at the thrift store came across this in a donation.  Randy knew that I was a Superman fan, and he tossed it to me.  He said the “MD” on the chest stood for “Mark’s Dog,” which was a pretty good spur-of-the-moment confabulation!

            At the closest to the camera are the shelves holding audio cassettes.  All these are gone now, dubbed and donated.  The actual wood-grained shelves bearing the cassettes-in-plastic-drawers are originally from the convenience-store trade.  They were merchandisers for cartons of cigarettes, and originally had clear plastic barriers across them.  They wanted people to see (and want them) but not be able to snatch-n-steal them.

            Now sitting atop these shelves you can see the edge of a metal kids’ TV tray with a picture of Mr Spock at his science console from ST:TMP.

            The most important “thing” in the photo is the farthest away from the camera -- that’s Joyce far away on the right of the shot, “upstairs” in the kitchen.


            Now here is a close-up of the plate shelf glimpsed in the middle left of the previous panorama.    At the far left edge of this photo is that lime-green Superman inflatable I mentioned, below which are an alarm clock with a Superman background, and the edge of a plastic Mighty Mouse lunchbox.

            The leftmost plate features the same art of Superman as was used on the cover of the Filmation VHS releases in the 1980s.  The two smaller items on either side of the center Star Trek plate are part of a 1980s-era kids’ eating set.  The art for both look like Jon Bogdanove art, or at least in his rawboned, big-jawed style.

             The central, biggest item is one of the Franklin Mint Star Trek sets. It has an interesting history in that about 1986, when my oldest Matthew was two or three, he was goofing around and banged into the wall where this plate was originally hanging.  It fell down to the floor with a crash, and several small pieces cracked off the edge.  Matthew started to cringe and cry.  He knew his Grandma (my mom) had given me the plate and that it was a special gift.  He was afraid that I was going to spank him until he couldn’t walk straight.

            But I explained to Matthew that I wasn’t going to spank him.  I told him he should have been more careful, but that I knew it was an accident.  He should be more careful.  I told him, “People are more important than things.”  I sure hope he remembers that forever!

            On the far right of this shelf is a Bakelite-style plate copyrighted 1967, with a Wayne Boring Superman swooping across it.

            In the foreground you can see that Superman bouncy-ball thing.


            Leaning against the plate rack, behind the bouncer, is an adaptation of Monopoly I made based on STAR OKC. Someday I’ll do a STAR OKC blog post about this…I made something specialized to STAR OKC’s history for every property and every Community Chest and Chance card.
            This is a four-sheet Star Trek color-your-own poster set.  According to this website, this came out in 1976 but it seems to me that it must have been sooner than that.  I had these posters on my walls before I graduated high school in 1974, it seems to me.
            Of course, some day in the future I will have to unpack this set, scan them, and post them.  In the frame are all four posters and the (flattened) box.  As you can see from my photo, I've colored all four of the posters.
            Well, that’s stop four in our tour of the Fortress of Markitude.  Hope you found something interesting.  Feel free to comment and share some of your own memories or reflections!

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© by Mark Alfred