Allison’s Written Words/Retroist Christmas Commercial Kickoff!

That’s right, Allison’s Written Words wants to team up with Retroist by – brace thyself – kicking off the holiday season with a big commercial block!

That Tease!

Late Saturday night/early Sunday AM, and I show you a glimpse of a recording session.

No life, I tells ya!

Allison’s Written Words and Retroist – The Joint Presentation!

It’s no secret that I love combining my world on here with the one I’ve carved out on Allison’s Written Words.  I share teasers for my articles here over on my blog, create videos with mention of both sites, and affiliate myself with both anywhere and everywhere I possibly can.

I love the work I do with both sites, and I’m proud of the opportunity to continue letting my geek flag fly simultaneously.

That said…

Allison’s Written Words/Retroist Christmas Commercial Kickoff!

Last week, I worked on my first commercial block commentary, after several efforts of dipping my toes in video games  and, well, “video games.” I’ve loved the opportunity to hone my “comedic” skills and show you some great nostalgia at the same time.

The commercial block I selected is from the November 28, 1998 airing of Saturday Night Live Goes Commercial, Volume 2. The tape originates from WNBC 4 New York, my former home market NBC station. The special aired as one of the prime time specials the late-night sketch show was famous for during the 1998-1999 season. It was the second one that year, and the highest-rated one. Not bad for primetime AND a holiday weekend Saturday night!

There’s a healthy mix of Christmas-themed commercials, promos, product ads, short-lived television shows, and even The More You Know. Throw in a local newscast teaser and you’ve got nostalgia AND awesomeness.

That’s right, nostalgia AND awesomeness! Because those two should always go hand-in-hand!

So go on and click play, and join me in watching some commercials!

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

Atari wishes you a Happy Holiday

The moment Thanksgiving dinner is over, I am in the Christmas zone. I am watching holiday movies, specials, music videos related to Christmas and searching YouTube for old holiday commercials. I don’t know what it is, but when I see an old Christmas commercial about video games, I find that to really satisfy my holiday cravings. So here’s one from the early 1980s and it’s showing the Atari 2600 in several different households.

[Via] My Saturday Mornings


Transformers were poised to make coleslaw out of the Cabbage Patch Kids for Christmas 1984

In Christmas of 1984 the toy world was shifting. Video games were hitting a rough spot and action figure toys were already years old. Even the heavy hitter of the year before, the Cabbage Patch Kid was not looking to repeat what it did the year before. No, according to just about everyone, the hot toys for Christmas of 1984 were going to be robots. Which robots in particular? The Transformers, of course.

In this report from the CBC from that year, they discuss not just the Transformers, but other great robot toys including site favorite Tomy VERBOT. As well as non-robot toys like Rainbow Brite and He-Man.

Read Verbot the Voice Activated Robot

The toy footage is pretty amazing. They even include a short loop of the original Transformers in front of this techy background at 3:15. However that is just a small piece of this nearly eight minute video. They also discuss people against war toys. Some great interviews with precocious kids including one who wants a pair of glasses that will not get foggy for Christmas.

Watching this now, I chuckle, but I think these type of news shows sent waves of fear through my Mother. What was going to be the hot toy? Was I even aware of it? Could she get her hands on it? These were all the things that stuff like this report would raise. She usually ignored things like the section about War Toys, but that sort of talk was dangerous. It almost got my DnD books taken away because of the negative press around that game.

I think I was still very much into GI Joe in 1984 as were my friends. It would be at least a few months before a Transformer would appear in my circle of playmates. So I am glad my Mom was not on top of this trend. Although, I got to admit, I really would have loved a Verbot.

Watch this report from Christmas of 1984 about the Transformers

Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You're A Lovely Guy)

Max Headroom sings Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re A Lovely Guy)

Some songs get released and are quickly forgotten. That is a shame when that song SHOULD become a holiday classic. In 1986, the song by Max Headroom, Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re A Lovely Guy) was released and unfortunately did not take the world by storm. Why you ask?

Let’s assume it isn’t because of the quality. I admit, that is a bit questionable. So if it is not that, maybe it was too late? Max made his splash in 1984 and really peaked in popularity from 1985 to early 1986. So while I am sure this song was recorded earlier in 1986, by the Winter momentum had petered out. It was released as a single on Chrysalis records with the B side, Gimme Shades. Which was more of a country-esque song. While both songs can be found on the single, only Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re A Lovely Guy) has been posted online in a decent video and recorded form.

Gimme Shades and other songs have been posted online, but only as rips from the Max Headroom Christmas Show.

Now the song might not be a holiday classic, but it is a great sometimes forgotten piece of the 1980s. And this video? Well this video, just like most things starring ol’ Max is just plain magical. There is something extra compelling about seeing Max try to fit into a holiday template. It is almost a little jarring and grating, but it makes for an excellent take-off on holiday specials and their music. Not everyone was meant to sing a holiday classic and Max brings that home as he plays with all the holiday special tropes. Enjoy.

Watch Max Headroom sing Merry Christmas Santa Claus (You’re A Lovely Guy)

Christmas Funk: Earth, Wind, Fire, Holiday

Holiday as one of the elements? Yes please!

I’m all for starting new traditions, especially when they tap my nostalgia bone. Which is near the funny bone. And when those traditions center around Christmas, well, even better. So this year, I’m bringing in the funk!

Last year, in my post-concert excitement (that apparently is supposed to last way past the actual concert date), I rushed to snatch up anything I could find that featured Chicago. And in that flurry, I found alot more songs than I already knew, I bought two concert movies, and even discovered Chicago’s Christmas album. Also in that flurry? I overlooked finding something Earth, Wind, and Fire.

Another one of those “the author took this picture” bragging moments.

Last week, amid the bustle getting ready to start my workday, I just randomly decided to look up Earth, Wind, and Fire and Christmas in the same search. No lie, I entered “Earth Wind Fire Christmas,” and I wasn’t disappointed. Not by a long shot.

Have you ever wanted a Christmas album that sounded remarkably like the 1970s, despite being released in 2014? Then Holiday is your album. Oh my goodness, is it ever!

Source: Wikipedia (By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

Holiday is the twenty-first album (only Chicago had more albums under their belt before they released their Christmas album) for Earth, Wind, and Fire, and was released on October 21, 2014 (seriously!). It is also notable as it is the final album to feature co-founder Maurice White before his death in February 2016.

The album consists of eleven traditional songs of Christmas, and two re-worked Earth Wind and Fire songs from the 1970s – “Happy Seasons” (originally “Happy Feelin'” from 1975’s That’s The Way of the World) and “December” (you better know which song this was inspired by!). If you’ve ever wanted to hear Christmas with funk, you’re not going to be disappointed (I wasn’t at the initial discovery, and I wasn’t once I listened).

Uploaded by That Mimosa Grove

And for some reason, the final song on the album was cut off completely. And I’d be remiss if I forgot it!

Uploaded by Donald Becker

And if you’re really itching to hear more blaring trumpets for Christmas, I covered Chicago’s Christmas album not all that long ago.

A funky Christmas? Some traditions are meant to be funk-ified!

Allison stopped grooving long enough to write this part of the article. If you like what you’ve read here, she has Christmas-ified her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You can follow her blog year ’round on Facebook, and her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

Back to grooving!