Five Things – 08.31.15 – Faster Than You Can Say Modern Art

1. Pioneer Laserdisc Demo – In 1980 Pioneer enlisted the help of Patrick O’Neal and Mr. Wizard to host a demo video for their Laserdisc player.  It’s quite a bit stuffier than Leonard Nimoy’s effort for the Magnavision, but it still has a certain charm to it.

Laserdisc PageThe first half of the demo is O’Neal explaining the history of, well, media.  Not entirely sure what purpose this is supposed to serve – I’m pretty sure that Laserdisc owners, the target and only market for this video, are already on board with the notion that their product is of better quality than radio broadcasts.  O’Neal then takes us through the unit itself, a top-loading machine that does not seem to have a remote.

O'Neal LaserdiscHe goes into a little bit of detail about the mechanics of it, showing an animated video that pre-summarizes Mr. Wizard’s portion of the demo to come later.

Laser DiagramHe shows off some of the more specific features of the Laserdisc player, including the ability to fast forward, slow down, and freeze-frame scenes. They always use football footage for these sorts of things – did anyone actually buy a Laserdisc of a football game from the past? Who would want that? Regardless of that, O’Neal shows us just how to cue up a specific scene. While standing at the Laserdisc player. Without a remote.

ConsoleThis really sums up a lot about 1980s technology without having to say anything. A gorgeous, complicated mess.

Don Herbert takes over the second portion of the demo, on the other side of the disc. He basically Mr. Wizards the Laserdisc technology, showing the ins and outs of how it works.

Mr. WizardLaserChalkboardIn an awkwardly bold move he then produces a cone of chocolate ice cream out of nowhere, takes a lick, and smears it on a disc to show how rugged it is compared to vinyl.  Again, was anyone questioning this?

Ice CreamIt’s a little more clinical than it probably needs to be, and one questions the value of these things at all – they’re a pack-in to the Laserdisc purchase, so they exist solely to further sell you on the thing you’ve already bought.  That said, they’re about 10% actual instruction and 90% fluff of the technology.  Still, there’s a charm there in a way and I can imagine a super-excited, rich, techno-nerd guy coming home with his new Laserdisc player, hooking it up, and really digging into this.

Here’s the video.


2. Archie Pilot – Here’s an unaired 1964 pilot for an Archie sitcom.  Why didn’t this take off?! It’s pretty good!


3.  Space Dust – Before there was Pop Rocks, there was Space Dust – a terrifyingly creepy, “sizzling” candy.

Here’s the horrifying package. Would you buy something that looked like this if you saw it in the store?

Space Dust


4. Explore the Universe – On the other hand, this old NASA poster is over-the-top cute. I mean, come on!



5.  Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens – This song is a staple in my house right now; my two-year old son can’t go more than an hour without it, it seems.  I’m not complaining! Here’s a live 1974 version of Louis Jordan performing “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens”.

Great solos!