MC Hammer Concert Doll

MC Hammer Concert Doll

Last weekend I was at a flea market and spotted an MC Hammer Concert Doll in pretty poor shape. This is not the first MC Hammer Concert Doll that I have seen over the years, so I imagine he is not that rare.

Now Hammer was a pretty big deal in the music scene, but as someone who never played with a doll of this type, I am curious about how successful this doll was.

Who bought this for their kids? Perhaps my fandom for musicians was never at normal levels, but I have a hard time seeing how I could get much joy out of a Hammer doll. Not because I wouldn’t play with him, but because the play options seems rather limited. The MC Hammer Concert Doll has only two options and both were full doll purchases. One dressed in purple and the other gold. Gold came with his gold boombox. While Purple Hammer came with a cassette. So the best you could do was pit Hammer vs. Hammer in a dance off.

You couldn’t collect all his back-up dancers. Nor could you buy a stage playset or a the Hammer-mobile. How quickly did the fun dry up unless you mixed Hammer in with your other dolls.

Read Call the MC Hammer Hotline

Now that I think about it, Hammer seems like he would be the right size to play with Barbie. So maybe those accessories worked. The Barbie Ferrari could easily be the Hammer Ferrari and the Barbie Townhouse could easily become the Hammer Townhouse. Just make sure you get a tiny chain for the door when they repossess it after lil’ Hammer’s money management issues.

I take back what I said about my Hammer doll confusion, Hammer is a great toy! This is probably why whenever I see one, I am always tempted to buy it. Especially when I see one in the gold outfit. Say what you want about the toy concept, Hammer certainly had charisma, knew how to make a statement with an outfit, and boy could he dance.

Watch the MC Hammer Concert Doll commercial

Video Professor

Learn to use the Internet with Video Professor

Many people have heard of Video Professor. They ran commercial on cable TV channels and on late night programming throughout the nineties. I recall seeing the commercials and laughing at some of the concepts. In the mid-nineties, I was already “online” most days. So a lot of the concepts in videos like Learn to use the Internet seemed comically simple.

Now I wish I had watched them back then, because it would ad a nice layer of nostalgia to my appreciation of them. And I do appreciate them. Why? Because they capture a wonderful moment in time. An era before the internet became ubiquitous and before slick video production would become commonplace.

Watching this now, I am struck by how information packed this 46 minute video is. It walks you through concepts and ideas that were new to people at the time. While at the same time gives you practical advice on using the internet through Prodigy.

We learn not only the hows and whys of getting online, but what to do once you do. From email to emojis and from auto-updates to Yahoo! It is all covered in this simple video.

Read Quantum Link for the Commodore 64

If you happened to be around during this time in the internet’s history, you will find this a fun trip back in time. When blue links lead to mysterious and unpredictable places and images were few and far between. This was the internet where I saw a possible career for myself, so watching this walk-through takes me back to a time when each click of the mouse shined a light on all the potential for this burgeoning technology.

I read that Video Professor had some legal issues in their later years. Some of them well into the new millennium. Which is shocking to me, I don’t recall seeing their ads after the nineties ended, but I guess they did. Seems like the business took a dark turn at some point before disappearing.

Now I feel guilty about my negative feelings towards Video Professor in the nineties. I don’t know much about their later products, but this video is a wonderful set of instructions for early users of the web. Without videos like these, how many people would have never gotten online in the early days? So a big thanks to Video Professor for being a cheerleader and educator of this technology I love so much.

Watch Learn to use the Internet with Video Professor

Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial

Art Direction in the Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial

I feel like we have revisited this famous Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial so often on the site that I could do a podcast on it. Why can’t I stop talking about it? It is one of the more memorable commercials from my youth for a few reasons. I loved pizza. The people in the ad kind of talked like people I knew. And it featured this amazing product that was sweeping the nation, string cheese.

Last night I was rewatching it yet again (maybe for a podcast) and I started noticing a few things that I wanted to share about the commercial’s art direction.

First the look of this pizza parlor. Pretty generic at first glance save for the neon sign, but some very interesting signage can be seen in almost every shot. Here you see a sign for “No Screaming.” This would have been a good sign to hang in our local pizzeria. We could get pretty obnoxious, especially if they had video games. We were constantly getting chastised by the people running the place. Also notice that guy in the corner. He appears in multiple shots and is completely unnecessary.

You can also see a little bit of pizza in this shot. To me, it does not look like very good pizza. At least not the type I grew up with. These kids are better off just ordering some cheese.

More details and more signage! Fred and Jimmy, the guys behind the counter, both have aprons with their names on them. Did they make those especially for this commercial? Did they name the characters after the aprons they had laying around? As for the signs, these are real gems. They are both sassy and believable for a pizza parlor. The one on the left says, “Be patient, meatball!” The one on the right offers “Week-Old Pizza Half Price.” Both are just throwaway gags in the background and are easy to miss. But as I continue to watch this commercial over the years, they have become my favorite part.

The final thing I want to comment on is this shot with the box of string cheese and Jimmy. I like they way they lay it out all lined up, but look to the right at Jimmy. It is a weird face right? Well, what makes it better is that he holds that pose for the entire shot. For that whole last shot that is how he looks for some reason. It is weird and short, but once you notice it, you will not be able to not see it.

I hope this short post gives you a greater appreciation for the Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial. Much like the cheese it advertises, you can continue to pull it apart and get more joy out of it. Now let’s watch it together in its entirety.

Watch the Famous Nuttin Polly-O String Cheese Commercial

Retroist Breakout Podcast

Retroist Breakout Podcast

Welcome to the Retroist Breakout Podcast. On today’s show I talk all about the video game masterpiece, Breakout. I start the show talking about how I bonded with my eldest sister over Breakout and how I do not resent that she is better at Breakout than me. Not at all. Then I move onto the game itself. I discuss the people and company that made the game, the history of PONG, the Wizard of Woz, Puppy PONG and much more. Breakout is an arcade and home video game classic, I hope I can persuade you to check it out or revisit it. You will not be disappointed.

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Chris Cornell

When I met Chris Cornell

When I was in college, I had various jobs. One of my better jobs was working security at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. I was not one of the people who patrolled the parking lot or asked you to stop smoking or drink up in the seats. For most of the time I was there, I worked backstage or at the rear entrance or backstage. It was an easy job, filled with interesting experiences and people. It was on one of my days working the rear gate that I encountered Chris Cornell.

I did not get to spend much time with him. Chris Cornell and Kim Thayil had come to a concert and were not on our list. Unfortunately for them, no one at the gate who was in charge recognized them. I was a noob, so I didn’t try to talk too much, the older guys did not like young people who gave too much lip. But I recognized Cornell and Thayil from their appearances on MTV and I mentioned that to my supervisor. That was enough to get my supervisor on his radio asking about these two long-haired fellas. When they were confirmed as on some list, we let them through.

Now here is what I most remember. Cornell thanked and shook hands with each person there. Even though we were mostly indifferent to him and perhaps even slightly dismissive. It was a classy move and it always left me with the impression that he was a nice guy.

I was sad to hear this morning that Chris Cornell had passed away. He was a very talented person and I am glad I have my memory of my brief encounter and a heck of a lot of music to remember him by.

Plus this amazing scene from the Cameron Crowe film Singles. Look at all the beautiful hair.

Watch Chris Cornell wordlessly steal this scene in Singles