When I was growing up, my family home was covered in wood paneling. This process started well before I was around. Not just in the home I was raised, but in all the homes and apartments my family ever lived. They were just obsessed with wood paneling.
Sadly I don’t have a lot of photos from where I lived, especially not of the rooms. But I was lucky enough to save boxes of receipts that my Mother was throwing out in the eighties. In them, I have found lots of interesting information on the price of things from decades past. As well as stores long gone.
In 1969, my father went to J Taffaro Lumber Company in West New York and bought three 4×8 Brazilian Walnut Wood Panels and a box of nails. He paid a whopping $25.24. In today’s dollars that would be $164.76. That seems pretty pricey to me. Although admittedly, I don’t know much about the cost of paneling.
What I do see is that my family was serious about wood paneling. It also explains why well into the eighties, when people were starting to move away from wood paneling, we were still putting it up.
Looking online, it appear the J Taffaro Lumber Company is no longer in business. I have a vague recollection of driving by it as a kid on the way to some other store and my Mom pointing it out. It stuck in my head because I liked the way “Taffaro” sounds.
I did find this New York Times article that mentions Taffaro. It is about two politicians and corruption. I know what your thinking. New Jersey? Corruption? Politics? Yeah, I guess the Garden State has always had some constants.
Here is a full scan of the receipt.
1969 Receipt for Wood Paneling
Long before Grand Theft Auto was freaking everyone out, we had the Death Race Video Game Controversy. Death Race is till a controversial arcade game. It was released by Exidy in the United States in 1976 and they only made about 500 of these cabinets. This makes this infamous game a difficult one to find. I was lucky enough to be able to play it at the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco.
Death Race was controversial because it appeared to promote vehicular violence. Even though Exidy took great pains to describe the human stick figures you are running over a “gremlins”, people were not buying it. The media lashed out. It did not help that the game’s working title was Pedestrian and appeared to be inspired by the 1975 cult film Death Race 2000.
Here is an example of the media reaction at the time in the form of a newspaper article. It hangs right next to the machine at the Musée Mécanique.
Controversial, maybe. But did it contribute to an increase in violence? No. It also did not do so well for Exidy. This was probably partly due to the backlash.
As you might guess from the year of its release, the game does not have anything resembling modern video game violence. By today’s standards, it is quite tame. Here is some game-play footage. I hope it does not turn your stomach or worse, turn you into a homicidal maniac.
Death Race Game-play Video
I played a couple of games of Death Race. It handled pretty well and was kind of fun. You won’t find many of these games out in the wild, but if you are at one of their know locations, make sure you drop a few quarters into one. According to online sources you can find Death Race machines at Musée Mécanique in San Francisco, the Galloping Ghost Arcade in Illinois, and Fun Spot in New Hampshire.
If you do play, I would love to hear about your experience. At least share how well you did. According to the game, I am an Expert Drive. So try and beat that.
Recently the trailer for the upcoming film, Ready Player One hit the internet. Based on the nostalgia drenched book by Ernest Cline and directed by Steven Spielberg, the film has been enthusiastically anticipated by a lot of people who frequent this site. For those who have not seen it, here is the trailer.
As you might guess from the title of this site, I think this is pretty cool. But it turns out a lot of people don’t. This has caused a very minor controversy on the internet. Are we seeing a backlash against nostalgia? Have we had enough eighties pop culture? The answer to both is maybe and it doesn’t matter. At least it doesn’t matter to me.
I am going to see Ready Player One because I am into it. But I am into a lot of things that people are not into. It is folly to think that everyone will be. We have been lucky enough to live in bit of a geek culture explosion. I would like to think that it will last forever, but if I have learned anything about pop culture over the years, it will not.
Whatever you are into, be it this film, Star Trek Discovery or drone racing, just enjoy it. Know that people might not agree with your choice in entertainment, they might be downright hostile to it. Valid or not, they have their reasons. Greeting them with equal hostility is not going to change that. Most likely, nothing will change that.
My feeling is why bother. Instead take advantage of this brief period where what you love is in the spotlight. You only have a finite amount of time when these things will get made. So stop caring how other people think or react.
Geeky things have been around for a very long time. Long before they were a hot commodity. Eventually they will be pushed back in the cultural hierarchy again. It will be a sad day, but it will come sooner than we think. So don’t spend this precious era worrying about backlashes or who cares about what. Just enjoy it.
Yogis Space Race was a short-lived 90-minute Saturday morning cartoon. It ran on NBC from September 9, 1978 to March 3, 1979. That short run resulted in just 13 episodes.
While it might have been epic to have a 90-minute cartoon, the show was divided into segments to make it easier to hold young kid’s attention. Eventually these segments would get divided up into shorter shows and any of you might have seen them on the USA Cartoon Express.
The 4 segments from the show were:
- Yogis Space Race – A outer space remake of Wacky Races. This segment had old and new characters participating in intergalactic racing competitions.
- Galaxy Goof-Ups – Yogi and his gang are intergalactic police officers.
- The Buford Files – A sleepy bloodhound solves mysteries with the help of two kids.
- The Galloping Ghost – The oddest of the lot. Galloping Ghost features the ghost of an old west prospector.
Almost immediately the show was broken up into segments that received their own branding. Yogis Space Race would get its own show, as would Galaxy Goof-Ups. The Buford Files and The Galloping Ghost would get combined into the aptly named Buford and the Galloping Ghost.
I have fond memories of watching Yogis Space Race on the Cartoon Express. Reading about the show, I was surprised that only 13 episodes were made. I am probably mixing the show up with Wacky Races. If you have not seen an episode, you might need to look around. While these shows used to be on YouTube often, recent reports have made them dry up quickly. Although if you want to get a taste of the show, people do seem to be allowed to post opening and closing credits.
Yogis Space Race Opening Credits
Over the intervening years, I have also come to enjoy Galaxy Goof-Ups. While not as an easy to find as Space Race and not as star-studded, it is worth tracking down for its originality.
Galaxy Goof-Ups Opening Credits
William Shatner will always be Captain Kirk. It is the role that defined him to the world. But Shatner has worked as an actor consistently throughout his career. Just review his IMDB and you will see that post-Trek he worked a lot on TV. For fans, this means a veritable treasure trove of small gems. Today I would like to share one of those gems. William Shatner on Celebrity Bowling in 1974.
Celebrity Bowling was a popular syndicated bowling sports series. It was hosted by Jed Allan and ran from January 1971 to September 1978. The premise was simple. Two sets of celebrities are pitted against each other in a bowling match. They compete not just for glory, but also for prizes for a lucky home viewer.
A lot of people will make fun of shows like Celebrity Bowling and the people who make appearances on it. Often equating it to the bottom of a person’s career. This might be true in some cases. After all, it iss easier to book lower level celebrities for shows like this, people on their way down, looking for the spotlight again. This phenomenon continues today and it often works to jump-start a career.
While Shatner was not landing lead roles at the moment, he was hardly unemployed. So for him Celebrity Bowling was a great opportunity for him to reach audiences who might not be seeing him in the smaller roles he had been landing. It was also a good “get” for Celebrity Bowling, who could count on a few Star Trek fans to tune in and see how the Captain had been doing in the intervening years.
Watching this episodes is a blast. Shatner is a terrible bowler, but that makes it more fun. Also, as usual, he brings something to everything he appears in. So while this is not Shakespeare, it is an entertaining and humanizing experience for an actor who has become an icon. So please check it out.
Watch William Shatner on Celebrity Bowling in 1974