Five Things – 4.24.17 – Coming Soon, You Angel!

1982 ABC Pac-Preview Party

It’s 1982. Pac Man’s a pretty big deal. So big that they didn’t just make a Pac-Man cartoon, NBC centered its 1982 Saturday Morning Preview Special around it.

Sort of.

Pac-Man is the carrot that Dick Clark dangles for forty five minutes through this awful special, held on the set of American Bandstand. Like the free movie tickets that come at the end of a Timeshare presentation, you have to through clip after clip of unoriginal, derivative cartoons based on existing properties.  When you’re not doing that, you’re watching Dick Clark have a hamfisted time around some children. Seriously – he doesn’t know what to do with these kids. Not 90 seconds into the special, Clark is admonishing a child for talking when he’s talking. On mic. To the camera.

The special tries to be interesting – ventriloquist Willie Taylor does a solid three minute set.

Scooby and Scrappy-Doo costumed characters show up for a clunky appearance.

Henry Winkler and Frank Welker do a table read of a scene from the Laverne and Shirley cartoon. Kids love seeing voice actors!

After a ten-minute long “clip” of The Lil’ Rascals cartoon we finally get about a forty-five minute preview of Pac-Man! Then we’re sent out of the special with a rockin’ dance party.

Seriously, there’s so little effort here. Give me a sloppy narrative or a musical act or some actual star power! At the very least, I guess it’s heartening to see a studio full of disappointed kids make the best of things. Here’s the special.


Ward’s 1971 Microwave Oven

Love that dinosaur puppet! The flaming arrow into the conestoga, not so much…




Watch a cowboy with dementia peddle a cereal based on stale waffles to a couple of overacting kids!


The Long Walk Artwork

“The Long Walk” is one of my favorite short stories by Stephen King.  This promotional artwork really catches the story, from the illustration to the red background to the font choice. Beautiful.


Heinz Ad

Guys, I don’t think this conversation actually happened, but I love the layout of this ad.



Five Things – 06.22.15 – You Mean Am I Young Enough?

1. Disney’s Captain EO Grand Opening Special – Disney had a habit of producing huge, celebrity-laden prime time television specials around events happening at their theme parks.  Any park’s opening got a special, and big name rides like Splash Mountain got them, too.  They’re all amazing, every last one.  They’re the perfect balance of cringe and glitz, trying to appeal to everybody in the living room and in doing so failing to really be anything.  There’s no better example of this than their 1986 special around the mega-blockbuster 3D movie created just to play at Disney parks, Captain EO.

Captain EO TitleProduced by George Lucas, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Michael Jackson, and featuring a movie theater tailor-made for that movie specifically, the event was definitely special-worthy.  The thing is, they didn’t really have anything to say about it that I didn’t just say just now. But they had an hour to fill, and fill it they did.  The special is hosted by Justine Bateman and Patrick Duffy, and I don’t know if two hosts have ever had less chemistry.

Justine and PatrickJustine and Patrick 2When they’re not dogging each other’s ages, they’re blandly introducing the celebrities as they arrive to the red carpet in old timey cars.  Disney spared no expense in securing the A-list for their big premiere.  They also invited John Stamos. Hey-oh!

StamosO.J. Simpsons also came.  There’s a joke here about O.J., Michael Jackson, and gloves, but I’m not making it.

OJ“In Russia we also have three D’s, it’s Depression, Detention, and my favorite, Defection.” Seriously, Yakov? I can’t believe Disney let him do that.

YakovThe special also featured (read: soaked up most of the runtime) performances by Belinda Carlisle, the Moody Blues, Robert Palmer, and Starship.


While a cultural trainwreck, the special is still a great showcase of what Disney did so well in the ’80s and still does today – they blend their Hollywood power with their real-world theme-parks in a way that makes you feel like you’re really missing out if you weren’t there.  I can bag on this in 2015 but the 1986 me would have eaten this up and asked for more.  Watch it for yourself!

Unrelated, but relevant: This poster. Amazing.

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Five Things – 5.26.14

1. Disneyland Prospectus – Over at BoingBoing they’ve got a gem: a prospectus for the original Disneyland park in California.  For a Disney history nerd like me it’s great to be able to read through the details of the pitch that Roy and Walt Disney made to raise money to build the park.

Prospectus Map

Something that’s always stuck out to me about Walt’s vision for Disneyland (and the Magic Kingdom) was the focus on Americana; Main Street, USA was the entryway for both parks.  Sure, a future vision in the form of Tomorrowland was always a component of the park but that was tough to nail down and less permanent – it had to be updated every so often (to my chagrin, as I miss the Tomorrowland of the ’80s).  Main Street, USA, though – that was a fixed moment in time that had passed us by even in 1955.

The second thing that stuck out to me, as the BoingBoing article points out, is the focus on shopping.  We can see now on this side of things the success Disney’s had in manufacturing takeaway sentiments of their experience that, to their customers, holds almost as genuine a value as the experience of being at the park itself – something most theme parks would kill for.  What’s seen in these documents reflects a really charming approach to that given the sales channels of the time – mail order catalogs.  In 1955, shopping had emerged as an American hobby and Disney was going to be on the front of that wave.

Anyway, inspiring stuff. Here’s a color version of the map but hit the links to see more!

Prospectus Color Map


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Five Things – 2.25.13

1.  Bear in Space – Dreams of Space shares an amazingly bizarre book from 1970 about a bear who fakes going to space and tricks all of his animal pals.  There’s really nothing about this book that’s not incredible . Here are some of my favorite pages:

The Cover:


bear in space cover


Party in space? Don’t mind if I do!




And an awesome diagram:




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Five Things – 1.21.13

1.  Pac Man Phone – Created at the height of Pac-Man Fever, this phone looks pretty awesome but I’d imagine the effect is lessened when he’s held up to the side of your head on an actual call.  It feels like he’d have to unhinge his jaw too much to realistically look like he’s eating your head as the pellet.


Pac Man Phone


Pac Man Phone 2


Little-known fact about this little-known phone, it was the first phone created by Bell to have pulse dialing.  I know!

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