Five Things – 5.19.14

1.  Journeys From Beyond Earth – Before Ancient Aliens and the occasional lucky week on Unsolved Mysteries, there wasn’t really much regular attention given to UFOs and Extraterrestrial investigation on television.  The channel spectrum was so slim and the market for stuff like that had  yet to really reveal itself.  There were more popular, remembered ones like Chariot of the Gods, but here’s a lesser-known program, Journeys From Beyond Earth, that filled that niche in a late-night/early morning/other “not-valuable” slot and actually has a lot of unique charm to it.

The dramatically voiced-over intro almost makes this seem like a sci-fi movie instead of a documentary, but the whole thing’s pretty rich with accounts and theories. It’s got a look and feel that hits right in my sweet spot, and you can tell it’s a labor of love.

And suggesting that Bigfoot was brought here by aliens? Bold move.


2.  Atari Cosmos – Atari was the king of the ring in 1981, and nothing illustrates their vision for the future of entertainment better than the Cosmos.

Cosmos Ad

The Cosmos was meant to be a handheld/tabletop system that allowed for holographic gaming.  As you can see from the ad they had the style part nailed, but what about the gameplay? It seemed like the games would be 2-D projections over a 3-D hologram which, though not technically 3-D gaming, was a big step forward from what existed at the time.  The intent was for the games to be programmed into the units themselves, so that the cartridges would only carry the holographic images each title needed. Eight titles were planned, including some heavy hitters like Asteroids and Space Invaders.  Here’s a look at one of the holograms for Space Invaders:

Criticism of the system was high after its unveiling at the 1981 New York Toy Fair, and although the production and marketing machine continued full steam ahead, the project eventually died on the vine at the end of 1981.  There are a few units still floating out there in the world, rare relics of a bygone vision that would deteriorate even further in the video game crash two years later.

On a brighter note, here’s another gorgeous ad for the system that never was:

Cosmos Ad 2

3.  Winsor McCay’s Temperence – Over at Printmag there’s a great look at a 1929 book on prohibition illustrated by Winsor McCay.

Temperance Cover

It’s pretty great to see McCay’s depth and style on these one-panel political cartoons.  Hit the link for more, but here are my favorites:

Temperance 2

Temperance 3

Temperance 1


4.  Walt Disney World Opening Day – Disney had a long standing habit of celebrating park openings with big television events featuring tons of stars, musical numbers, and costumed characters trying to act like they’re the mute animated versions of themselves. They basically served as huge commercials for the park and for the most part, they worked.  They’re hokey for sure, and even hokier in retrospect, but there’s really not much out there that’s like them.

Here’s the 1971 special for the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom opening in Orlando, FL.  The big one!  Hosted by Julie Andrews and featuring just a ton, just a ton of other people.


5.  2 Game Module – Dipping my ladle into the Atari well for a second time this week, only because the design of this ad stuck out to me so strongly . The 2 Game Module was a cabinet with two sides designed by Roger Hector – one of the designers of the abovementioned Cosmos.  The cabinet’s dual screens saved on space in an arcade or convenience store, but the real focus here is the ad.  It’s just great!

2 Game Module