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Eleven Minutes in Random Television Watching!

Several years back (actually, it was eight years ago), I was dating a guy who “gifted” me portions of his recorded videocassette collection. I had to give them back, but the purpose was for me to dub the material on the tapes to DVD-R discs. It sounds pointless that anyone would want to do this, but as a nostalgia hobbyist (even back then), the most mundane finds on a videocassette are fun.

I’d like to think I would have gotten more from his collection, had I not gone back to work after a winter layoff from my last job, and if we hadn’t broken up a few months after that. That second factor is the bigger reason I don’t have more than the massive collection I already have. The relationship may not have lasted, but the nostalgic gold goes on and on!

One of the tapes consisted of several May 1995 recordings of Home Improvement, a show I never particularly cared for, but what I found within the tape suited my nostalgic curiosity quite nicely. (Please don’t submit hate mail or declarations for that admission. I’ve just never been a big Tim Allen fan.)

My ex-boyfriend’s mother must have had VCR duty on one particular night, because she did something many parents did in the day (and something I’m equally guilty of having done once). In all honesty, she probably forgot she had the VCR recording, and there was a commercial on, because, this happened.

It all started off innocently enough. You’re taping a show, and a commercial comes on, but you forget you’re taping the show and decide to see what’s on another channel. Except you don’t stay on the channel, you decide “hey, what the heck? I’ll just keep clicking!”

So you do!

And then you wind up on the cable access channel…the one that shows real estate listings and plays a rockin’ 90s soundtrack. You feel like 1995 found you and embraced you like a friend.

Dionne Ferris. 1995 one-hit wonder for the win!

I’m not from the area where these houses are listed (but I’ve been through there), and I can tell you with 100% certainty that Washington Township is a nice place to live.

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Then there are the real estate agents. It’s like they went to the JC Penney portrait studio and had their pictures taken on the same day.

I particularly love Tom Duffy. Jacket on, jacket slung over shoulder. No way this guy isn’t a total stud.

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Jack exudes confidence as he hits on your through the television screen.

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And yes, you are seeing double!

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Ex-boyfriend’s mom, proving not to be idle, begins clicking around again. She eventually made her way back to Home Improvement, but she’s not done yet. Oh no, not yet.

QVC, some lady in love with mashed potatoes…

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…NJN (a New Jersey local network connected to PBS), UPN, the WB, UPN again, some nature documentary (????), these people…

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Whose eyes may actually look like this…

High School baseball, a Philadelphia Phillies game (shudder), random clicking, shoes on the Home Shopping Club 2 (yes, a second Home Shopping Club Channel, remember that?)…

Fifth position in heels, baby!

Fifth position in heels, baby!

…that really good Michael Douglas movie Falling Down (she turned it on during the climactic scene towards the end!), then an extended stop on The Preview Guide.

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Remember those days? I swear, I used to LOVE this channel, which is like TV Guide for people who hate to read TV Guide and watch movie trailers and TV promos all day long. I myself loved TV Guide (I read it for the articles). National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (remember that?!), some guy ringing a bell, Court TV, basketball, hockey, and finally, Shirley MacLaine on Larry King Live round out this collection of channel surfing.

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They wore their best for this interview. He in his suspenders, she in her…finest man’s evening wear. I don’t write this stuff, I just find it.

To be honest, Shirley MacLaine clip was longer than I let it run, but I am only looking to save your sanity. After all, you’re sitting through almost twelve minutes of an old ex-boyfriend’s mom changing channels.

But enough of me telling you about all of this, why not watch for yourself, and revel in the glory of 1990s television yourself?

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

Allison’s tape collection doesn’t jewels jewels as this, but still contains some interesting finds (as evidenced by previous articles). She displays many of these unusual jewels over at her blog, Allison’s Written Words. However, she loves saving the truly unusual for Retroist readers (you’re welcome). If you want, you can follow her blog on Facebook, and drop her a tweet @AllisonGeeksOut.

Thank you, Allison’s ex-boyfriend’s mom.

Also…if her boyfriend hadn’t stolen her heart already, he’d have some stiff competition from Tom and Jack.

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worm-war-i-atari-2600

I See Some TRON In This 1982 Worm War I Ad

Worm War I is a 1982 game that was developed by Sirius Software for the Atari 2600 and released by 20th Century Fox Games. I was able to find out that the programmer for Worm War I was David Lubar who also programmed the Atari 2600 titles Fantastic Voyage, Nexar, Bumper Bash, Space Master X-7, Flash Gordon, and Activision’s River Raid II to name a few of his accomplishments in the video game industry.
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Didn’t you mention TRON?


I certainly did and I think for some very evident reasons. Let’s take just a moment and compare an image from the Worm War I commercial featuring the player’s tank in action.
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All right. I now ask you to compare that image above with this quick snippet from 1982’s TRON.

I think you can see the obvious similarities between the two. Not just with the tank but even the electronic battlefield of the two seem a little similar wouldn’t you say? Considering that TRON was released the same year I believe it is more than understandable that it would have influenced Worm War I commercial design.

TV Days
I have not had the pleasure of playing Worm War I for myself but thanks to AtariAge and the High Retro Game Lord‘s YouTube channel we can see how it played – kind of a cross between Space Invaders and River Raid

Image courtesy of Atari Age.

Image courtesy of Atari Age.

Whatever became of David Lubar?
I mentioned some of the Atari 2600 titles besides Worm War I that David worked on at the beginning of the post – he also had a hand in games for the Nintendo Gameboy, Super Nintendo, and the Apple II as well as the Atari 800.

I learned that beginning in 1994 while he was still employed as a video game developer he focused on his true love. Writing. By the end of 1995 had sold six books – today he has published over 24 books.

Why don’t you take just a few moments out of your busy schedule and listen to David talk about why he became a writer yourself? I bet you will find it just as interesting as I did!

[Via] Adlit

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Come On Along, I’ll Take You To, Two Places 1980s New York City-Area Kids Wanted to Go!

Why I hadn’t already written about this topic is beyond me.

Until ten years ago, I lived in an area served by both the New York City and Philadelphia television markets. But having grown up with parents who were raised on New York stations and watched them by habit, I was raised doing the same. I love going back to my pre-September 2006 (that’s when I moved away from the area served by this television market) VHS tapes and recorded DVDs and finding stuff that I remember about watching television from the New York market. I love New York, and last October, I took a day trip there for the first time since 2007.

I may have only been there for the day, and didn’t need a hotel, but there was always this one commercial that made me (and many other kids from the area) want to stay at this one particular hotel in the heart of Broadway.

That was well-known 1980s commercial was the long-running Milford Plaza commercial, memorable if only for the catchy jingle and talented “staff.”

With the catchy jingle (to the tune of Lullaby of Broadway), as sung by the friendly staff of the Milford Plaza (who are obviously actors and not actual hotel staff), the perks of staying here are glorious.

Uploaded by Tigercat919

That price!

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The promise of service in the heart of everything!

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That phone greeting is nice, but I’m really just calling to book my hotel room.

That singing and dancing! This was place was the dream destination of all kids in the 1980s!

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And it no longer exists.

No, seriously. When I was planning my day trip to New York last year, I looked this place up, and all I got were this commercial and links for “Row NYC,” which is the hotel’s new name under new management and renovations. In a way, it makes me sad that if I ever do stay in New York City overnight, I’ll never get to stay at the Milford Plaza. But I’ll always have fond memories of the hotel I never go to experience, thanks to the jingle I’ve never gotten out of my head.

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I’m convinced I would have been horribly disappointed when I arrived there, and they didn’t do this for me.

And speaking of jingles I’ll never get out of my head, and places I’ll never get to experience…

Uploaded by Ted Dennison

Oh my goodness, this song! The promise of that quaint and perfect couples getaway, that guest who does the back flip off the diving board, a pool in your hotel room! Golf! Tennis! Live shows! DANCING! That jingle! Call 1-800-441-4410, we’re freakin’ going to Mount Airy Lodge.

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Or not…

Screenshot (292) Sorry guys, this is another one of those splashy places all kids in the New York City market (and probably in the Philadelphia market too) knew that no longer stands as the place it was known to be in these commercials. Its original heyday of the 1960s and 1970s was highlighted by 1000 acres of everything, and was the premiere honeymoon hideaway. Floor-to-ceiling mirrors, velvet canopy beds, and heart-shaped bathtubs were the norm. Did you see kids in the commercial? I didn’t. Was the jingle really the very reason we wanted to stay here so badly?

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Hey, if a mysterious arm is handing me drinks, then yes, I want to go there!

This commercial came at a time of decline for Mount Airy Lodge, and the version you see here went into foreclosure in 1999, before closing for good in October 2001. So, the end of my childhood (I turned 19 in October 2001, and was a freshman in college) came at the end of a Poconos legacy.

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We’ll be optimistic that their love outlasted Mount Airy Lodge’s life.

The Mount Airy name did make its return, in the form of a casino that opened in 2007. I still see commercials for it, but it’s not Mount Airy Lodge, and you don’t have to bring your love for everything. Because you probably love gambling and that’s why you’re there. And to think, that was where we were all going to go on our honeymoons.

There are pictures on the interwebs (especially Pinterest) of Mount Airy Lodge’s decline after it went into foreclosure and was reclaimed by nature.

I used to work with a woman who told me she cringed over that commercial, and one of our funniest conversations involved the heart-shaped hot tubs. I told her about a photo I saw online of a heart-shaped hot tub along the side of the road up in the Poconos, and she was all “ewwwww!” about it.

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She says “ewwwww!”, I say it’s time to renovate my house and make way for this beauty.

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Sexy.

And yes, use of this necessitates the use of the Mount Airy Lodge jingle.

They do have places like this in the Poconos (heck, they have a scary, low-rent version in the next town over from me), but nothing will ever be as famous in my eyes (or earworms) as Mount Airy Lodge!

After watching both of these ads, I feel nostalgic and sad that two places I believed I was going to visit when I grew up no longer exist in the way these commercials depict them, but then reality hits and I say, “did I ever really want to stay at Mount Airy Lodge?!”

But that Milford Plaza would probably have disappointed me and my extremely high expectations.

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Just for the cameras, folks.

Allison is hardly the seasoned tourist (though she loves to travel!), but commercials are a big thing in her life, and as an impressionable kid, they really sparked her imagination and desire to be in the thick of everything. Today, these commercials are campy nostalgia, but they’re great memories of a time gone by. Allison loves nostalgia, and waxes much nostalgic on her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You can follow her blog on Facebook, and she’s also on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

She had to mute the commercials while taking screenshots, the earworm factor of these ads are too fierce!

 

Morning Funnies Cereal

Do you remember Morning Funnies Cereal?

In the late 1980s, Ralston came up with a brilliant idea. People love to read the funnies while eating their morning breakfast, so why not combine the two? To that end, they created the short-lived cereal, Morning Funnies Cereal. Now you could skip dragging in your morning newspaper and instead read your cereal box, which they covered in comic strips.

Why it was great


Morning Funnies Cereal, with its brightly colored box and familiar comic characters was instantly recognizable. You could spot this box from 20 feet away and you had to have it. At the time it was one of the more novel ideas in the cereal aisle and I couldn’t help but grab a box. You will hear a lot of people, when talking about Morning Funnies Cereal, complaining about the sweetness. Complaining that something is too sweet is something adults do. I refuse to evaluate this cereal as an adult. So I am putting that attribute squarely in the “plus” column.

Maybe the greatest things about the cereal? It was comic themed and included some of the most enduring characters from that milieu. Including, Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, Hägar the Horrible, Hi and Lois, The Family Circus, Tiger, Luann, Marvin, Funky Winkerbean, and What a Guy! It was an amazing selection and many of them appearance in this television commercial.

So what went wrong


Morning Funnies Cereal was great, but the reviews for it were poor. As I stated above, adults did not appreciate the high levels of sugar. Although reading reviews from the time, I am surprised at how surprised people were back then. Did you really think a Fruit-flavored cereal with cartoon-shaped marshmallows was not going to be sugary? Perhaps this presented an issue for parents, which contributed to the poor sales of the cereal, but to me the problem was not the cereal itself, but the packaging.

They just couldn’t produce enough boxes to keep people entertained on a daily basis while they ate their morning cereal. Just how many times can you read the same Beetle Bailey? Unfortunately about once. Sure it was convenient to have them right on the box, but at the same table the was a copy of the daily paper with a brand new comic strip just itchin’ to be read. So in the end, the real undoing of Morning Funnies Cereal was the one element that made it truly unique. Ralston, and their mad cereal scientists, were just too ambitious and in the end, ’twas the packaging that killed the product.

Justin M. Salvato's Vintage Computers And Retro Video Games
Rice Krispies

Remember That Rolling Stones Rice Krispies Ad From 1963? Wait, What?!

Just the other day – although it’s been on the internet for quite some time it was pointed out that the Rolling Stones recorded the jingle for a 1963 television commercial for Rice Krispies. It’s been reported that Brian Jones was the band member responsible for writing the rather jaunty tune.

[Via] The Video BeatdotCom
I also found mention that the commercial itself which was done by the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency and was a spoof on the popular music show Juke Box Jury.
Juke Box Jury
The host of the program, David Jacobs, would ask the four celebrities of the week to judge newly released records. This was apparently inspired by a show from the US entitled Jukebox Jury. In this episode from the BBC series you can hear Roy Orbinson’s Blue Angel, Lloyd Price’s Just Call Me (And I’ll Understand), The Ted Taylor Four’s M1, Nat King Cole’s Just As Much As Ever, Connie Francis’ My Heart Has A Mind Of Its’ Own, and Paul Anka’s Summer’s Gone.

[Via] Phil Glew
It’s a pretty enjoyable show and I can see why it ran from 1959 until 1967 – earning 12 million viewers every Saturday Night by the time 1962 rolled around. There was an attempt at a revival in 1979 but that only lasted for one season.

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Let It Whip!

If you’ve read enough of my material on here and on my blog, you’ve probably seen a few write-ups about my love of music and the impact it has on me.

Which begs this question:

Have you ever had the experience of one song reminding you of something personal, and not in a good way?

Feminine hygiene and product commercials, for me, have always been the most uncomfortable experience. It’s not something to be shy about or to shy away from, but for me, I’ve always been in the same room as men when one of these commercials is on. When I was a kid, it was usually my dad and my brother watching television in the same room. Now, it’s usually my dad in the same room. But even when I’m in a room by myself, and one of these commercials comes on, I’m still cringing. It’s the image of being the embarrassed 12-year-old that still haunts me at 33 years old.

I know the products are supposed to depict life lived without the worries of the dilemma known as the menstrual cycle (as this entry I used for Flashback Friday several months ago on my blog will tell you)…

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

…but it still makes me think about how I don’t want to know that the girl waiting in line in front of me on the waterslide is wearing a tampon, or the person riding their bicycle is on their cycle…and yeah, I’m just really getting graphic about this, aren’t I?

If other companies and their advertising started me on this problem, Tampax heightened the experience by 1000. It actually has forced my brain to associate a song used in one of their commercials as being the theme song for tampons.

And it’s actually a good song.

In the mid 1990s (I think sometime between 1995 and 1997) Grambling State University’s marching band (and dancers) were featured in an advertisement. It started off innocently enough…

The ladies are dancing.

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The band is marching/dancing…darching? Mancing?

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You’re pumped to the rhythms of The Dazz Band’s 1982 hit “Let it Whip,” when all of a sudden, it answers the question “What is this commercial for?”

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Boom.

And the song forever reminds me of tampons.

It’s been something like 15-plus years since I last saw this on television, but that doesn’t matter, the image of it is burned in my mind and forever scarring my fragile, fragile psyche FOREVER.

Ok, so Tampax was there. And I’ll only think of your school’s marching band as “The Band Tampax Was There For.”

That’s one hell of an association to have, isn’t it?

But despite all this, it really is a cool song.

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And a kick-ass marching band routine.

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Let it whip indeed.

Allison is a former non-professional dancer of 22 years, with multiple years of Jazz, Ballet, and Hip Hop dance under her belt. However, she has never danced among a marching band. Allison is deprived, apparently. If you like her snide sense of humor, she’d love for you to visit her blog, Allison’s Written Words, and follow the randomness on Facebook. She can also be found for 140 characters or less on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

She has never danced to “Let it Whip.”