Dennis Miller Introduces THE FUTURE of Movie and Gaming Rentals!

THE FUTURE also comes complete with early 1990s Dennis Miller smarm and smirk!

For the record, I’ve always liked that smarm and smirk.

Anyways…THE FUTURE!

Now, I Don’t Wanna Go Off In A Rant Here…

When I was almost in my teens (and carrying right into today), Dennis Miller was my hero. He never failed to amuse me (even when I didn’t get the reference), he was aware his acting skills were terrible (Bordello of Blood, anyone?), and he had books in publication. I like funny men, I like bad acting, and I love books. Say what you will about him now, but I (still) love the guy. He still cracks me up…and I still don’t get every reference.

I’ve been lucky enough to see the man perform live twice (once in 2005, another time in 2006). The first time I saw him (at Borgata’s Music Box Theater), the show was initially “sold out,” but a random Ticketmaster email with the promise of available tickets 24 hours before the show meant seeing him perform. The second time (at Circus Maximus Theater, Caesars Atlantic City), it was a surprise that I knew about three weeks before.

Most “critics” say he’s lost his edge. I don’t believe that for a second when you don’t miss a beat in your material. He’s still as esoteric as he ever was, but damn, I laughed hysterically each time.

Back to the 1990s…

In the early 1990s (post-Saturday Night Live), the man was marketable, and he turned up everywhere. ESPY hosting duties, Primetime Emmy hosting duties, Talk Show #1, Talk Show #2, a movie here, a movie there, commercial, commercial, commercial, another movie, commercial.

He was the spokesperson for everything, folks.

And as I just found out…he hosted corporate marketing videos!

Allow me to turn over a New Leaf…

New Leaf Enertainment

In 1992, Blockbuster Video, coupled with IBM, turned over a “new leaf” in THE FUTURE of home video and gaming rentals. The concept allowed retailers access to a vast digital library of films and video games, copied into a cartridge or disc.

The company name, you ask? New Leaf Entertainment!

And they asked Dennis Miller to tell us about it, while dispensing of esoteric references and technological talk, while displaying his bad acting skills and his hilarious depiction of a French accent.

That’s probably his best acting, folks.

Although, if you saw Disclosure, he’s not that terrible of an actor. But Michael Crichton wrote his part with him in mind, so…

Seriously, he was REALLY good in this movie. Especially when he turned his back on Michael Douglas. You’d think an actual actor with actual acting chops publicly questioned Douglas’s character’s “transgression.”

Anyway, I could tell you all about this amazing technology Miller can’t wait to tell us about, but why don’t I let him do that instead?

Click play, cha-cha!

Upload via retailgeek

Sounds great in theory, right?

It Sounded Like a Great Idea…

But it wasn’t. Because it never happened.

Well, not in 1992.

The whole concept wound up being just that…a concept. A concept with terrible acting and presentation material that may as well have been Miller’s stand-up routine.

I wonder if Dennis Miller remembers that he did this.

The idea sounds amazing in theory, but technology as it was in 1992, as well as a weak distribution model, lead this the whole idea.

For more information on this (and the eventual testing phase in 1994), the Gaming Historian covered the gaming end of it on his show.

(That’s how I found the Dennis Miller marketing video!)

Upload via Gaming Historian

What do you think? Was this a great idea in theory, or just an idea of what was to come once the right technological advancements were made?

This Happened With Our Very Nostalgic Technology!

Just because our beloved technology is dated, doesn’t mean you can’t find out something new about it!

Backstory

This interesting idea for an article came to me while writing about what happens when you insert a LaserDisc “dead side” up.

Call me crazy, but inspiration hit to look back at some other interesting things we tried to do or figure out with our “primitive” 1980s technology. Truly it was a fun time that can’t be explained to today’s modern kids, who “know” and “discover” everything!

I’m sure some (or all) of this is not new to our very nostalgic minds, but humor me, this was a fun little bit of research! Plus, nostalgic technology! :-)

Our Very Nostalgic Technology

Did you have one like this?

We loved our gadgets in the 1980s just as much as we love our gadgets now. Sure our tech has advanced – Walkmans are replaced with mp3 players and phones, our portable phones are truly portable, cassettes and records have evolved into CDs and digital media, and BETA and VHS became DVDs, Blu-Rays, and like our music, digital media. We love our technology, and as it advances, it makes our lives better. But there was this awesome time when we tried to figure out what our “primitive” tech was doing, or what we could make our “primitive” tech do to work for us!

Because we loved experimenting with our tech then just as much as we do now!

Consider us the early innovators…or just a bunch of creative kids.

The Videocassette Dial-Up

Uploaded by BlueOctopede

I KNEW IT!

I wasn’t the only little kid that heard the dial-up tone at the beginning of my videocassettes. And like the wonderful BlueOctopede (whose videos I highly recommend!), I heard this on my Disney videocassettes. Which reminds me, I really should pull out my Beauty and the Beast VHS for the nostalgia factor…but mostly to catch that dial tone.

The tone at the beginning of our videos is the Dual Tone Multiple Frequences, or DTMF, tone. This “dialing” sound, as described by Reddit user NerdyGerdy:

“DTMF signaling tones can also be heard at the start or end of some VHS (Video Home System) cassette tapes. Information on the master version of the video tape is encoded in the DTMF tone. The encoded tone provides information to automatic duplication machines, such as format, duration and volume levels, in order to replicate the original video as closely as possible.”

But why was this more commonplace on Disney videos?

…And the Videocassette “White Screen of Death”

That is actually more gray than anything.

Uploaded by Princess Daisy Fanatic Backup

And sometimes red…

Because a blood red screen and a long beeping squeal were perfectly acceptable at the end of a videocassette, when white/gray wasn’t scary enough. This color just screams “I murdered your favorite Disney video!”

Actually, it is a from a United Kingdom print of O Brother Where Are Thou?, and was uploaded (bravely) by You Tube user Daniel Mullins.

…Or This Strange Noise

Guess whose headphones were (accidentally) turned up for this one?!

Uploaded by tititag89

Because the White Screen of Death (and its snappy British cousin, the Red Screen of Death) wasn’t terrifying enough, here’s some loud music, followed by a faux siren!

Teddy Ruxpin Sings!

Uploaded by scbird

Everyone tried this at least once. I tried it with Cricket and my New Kids on the Block tape!

The whole thing with getting our talking dolls to rock out to our other cassette tapes is that, unfortunately, it doesn’t work well. Unless you’re uploader scbird.

This video’s uploader explained in the comments section that they recorded the song on the right channel, and the tones on the left channel to control the eyes and mouth, resulting in what everyone with a talking doll wanted to accomplish in the 1980s.

And this was the best video of the “experimental” bunch. Unfortunately, all the other videos trying the same thing were done by kids who probably found out about this…and felt the need to talk on the video. Nope, couldn’t handle them. This, on the other hand? I could seriously rock out to this!

…And Talking Doll Tapes Do This In Standard Tape Decks!

This was something I tried with my Walkman when I was nine years old. I still had all the tapes from my Cricket doll that I gotten about five years earlier, and while I wasn’t incredibly fond of the doll anymore, I still liked her stories and figured taking one “one the road” would be fine.

This is exactly what happens when you play a talking doll cassette in a standard tape deck (and no, it is not my video):

Uploaded by BB182000

You can hear the recording just fine, but your enjoyment had to contend with the beep boop bop sounds. These “beep boop bop” sounds are the signals that control the eye and mouth movements of our classic talking dolls. As explained with the Teddy Ruxpin video, there is one channel for the recording (right channel), and another for the eye/mouth motion controls (left channel).

Give ‘Em Credit!

Our tech was much more sophisticated than most will ever give it credit for, because someone had to figure out how to make our toys talk and get our videos to work correctly in our VCRs! Sure we were weirded out by the sounds things made, and equally fascinated by how those weird noises made things work. But in the end, it was our technology, and we always made do with what we had…while figuring out all the cool ways to make something work for our adorably nefarious purposes.

Those kids trying this stuff probably think they’re the innovators. If they only knew how many 30-somethings were so far ahead of them…

What Happens When You Insert the “Dead Side” of a LaserDisc?

If you think the LaserDisc just protests and pops out of the player when inserted on the wrong side, you’re so very wrong.

Though the idea of the player slurring “Noooo!  GET OUT!” while ejecting the disc is cracking me up. You have no idea how much.

Or maybe you do.

Anyway…

Weird Fascination

I will preface everything I’m about to say with the fact that this is a weird fascination of mine, and only because it came up in a random You Tube search about four years ago.

I think it started while I was looking up videos about LaserDisc players. The geek in me really wanted to watch a video on how to operate a LaserDisc player, but the nostalgic geek in me wanted to see what movie quality on a laserdisc looked like.

What I got was something kinda cool and random – a group of videos that shows what happens when you put in the wrong side of a LaserDisc.

I also learned how to operate a LaserDisc player, which I’ve never owned, and never plan to own at this point in my life.

The LaserDisc “Dead Side”

In a You Tube full of randomness, there are a surprising number of “LaserDisc dead side” videos (which is still not many, when probably compared to most other niche topics), all of which demonstrate a small snippet of what happens when you insert (whether intentional or otherwise) a LaserDisc into the player incorrectly. It is referred to the “dead side,” but it is quite the opposite. Things happen. There is life.

Turtles and Logos

You’d automatically assume that a “dead side” is what it sounds like: a dead side. Black screen. No noise. Nothingness.

Not true at all. Depending on the disc manufacturer, several things are possible.

For example, there’s this lovely friend:

As You Tube uploader VWestlife explains, this is what happens when you try to play the blank side of a LaserDisc. He emphasized that the analong sound is the actual noise, the result of CX. The turtle sticks around for 9000 frames (approximately 5 minutes) before fading to black.

LaserDisc Turtle is from Pioneer LaserDisc, and is considered to be the most well-known of the dead side offerings. And he’s adorable. Just look at his smile!

“Mr. Turtle, how many instances of inserting the LaserDisc correctly does it take to get you back on your feet?”

LaserDisc Turtle halso has a Japanese variant:

Again cute and friendly, but imploring you to turn the him (and by him, the disc) over. You like this, it feels inviting!

But not everything is overturned turtles and happiness.

There’s this blunt message from Techinidisc:

Uploader eyeh8cbs explains that Techinidisc’s dead side runs for 25 minutes (in CAV with analog sound only), but cuts to a black screen at 24 minutes.

And can you imagine the life struggle of all the information…about no information at all?

Uploader eyeh8nbc (who is probably the same person behind “eyeh8cbs”) also shared this deadside, from a 3M/Imation disc. Imation was the final company to produce laserdiscs (production stopped in 2002), and this was a Sears in-store LaserDisc that showed movie trailers, ironically for movies that were never released on LaserDisc. This particular dead side runs for five minutes..

There’s also the Sony version.

Again, as uploaded by eye8nbc, this dead side is side four of a three-side LaserDisc movie as manufactured by Sony. While excerpted here, it actually runs five minutes.

There’s Warner/Elektra/Artista (WEA)-manufactured dead sides…

Again, eyeh8nbc contributed this one, which is practically screaming to be turned over.

Paving the Way…

Sure, the dead side of a LaserDisc isn’t the most exciting, but the very idea of a LaserDisc as a viable media format, at least at one time, was exciting. It was the precursor to the DVD and Blu-Ray, and it served as a reminder that with time and development, technology would improve, and more viable, cost-efficient formats would find their way. The format was not without its flaws, but those flaws are good for teaching developers about what will work best. Does the LaserDisc feel ahead of its time? Yes it does! Who would have believed that a shiny disc that looks like a record could produce video?

More importantly, would have believed that a turtle could be the cutest way to tell you to kindly flip the disc over?

He is so stinkin’ cute!

Betamax

Check Out This 1978 Tour Of A Betamax Collection!

Ah, Betamax. There have been many times when technological formats that are sort of similiar must go head to head. Like in the case of HD DVD versus the Blu-Ray format. Of course if you go back a little further there was the competition between Video High Density video discs vs LaserDisc and VHS. And if you are of a certain age you might recall when it was the VHS format versus Betamax fighting for your hard earned money.
Betamax

I wasn’t aware that Betamax actually ceased being made way back in…2016?! That is the truth though – which means it lasted for 40 years. Not to shabby a legacy for the “loser” of the videotape format war.

I was only in contact with a Betamax unit once in my youth. You have to remember this was back when both it and the VHS units were quite beautiful. In addition to being incredibly large with myriad buttons and dials as well as featuring top-loading mechanisms.

As I was saying though – I only once had any sort of experience with a Betamax. This was in 1982 and my Father rented Star Wars. I want to point out this was during the time when renting a Betamax or VCR unit was a bit of an ordeal.

First of all you needed to have the membership to the video store which required the usual identification. However you also needed to literally leave a deposit on top of the rental fee – generally a $100 dollar bill or at least a check if you were trusted by the store.

Now having said all of that, thanks to the Retroist who pointed this video out to me. We can travel back in time to 1978 to visit Ray Glasser. In the almost ten minute video he gives those of us from the future a personal tour of his Betamax collection.

The television and movies in his collection are rather staggering. Everything from Star Trek, to King Kong and the Burns and Allen show, to name a few. So without further ado let us join Ray Glasser back in 1978 and enjoy his Betamax collection tour!

[Via] Videoholic Returns

Now then. You’ve seen the tour of Glasser’s Betamax tapes. But why not watch Bill Hammack aka Engineer Guy briefly explain why the VHS format won out?

Can “Clean Slate” Run With the Big Dogs?

I’m not sure if Clean Slate could run with anything, to be perfectly honest.

Busy Weekend

My weekend involved grocery shopping and running to Toys R Us to buy something not for me…

The gift is worthy, photos got likes, and well…I can’t fit my butt and hips into this chair.

No, I didn’t try to sit on it.

Revisiting

One of the other things I did over the weekend was tape transfers. I am always pleasantly surprised when I revisit my video collection and actually watch the trailers.  I remember the days of fast forwarding through the beginning of all my videos, being impatient and just wanting the movie to start. These days, I’m a tad more patient with commercials and movie trailers.

Being nostalgic, and a nostalgia writer, has given me the patience and wanting to slow it down and actually watch the things I fast forwarded through in my uninformed youth. In doing so, I’m finding out about movies I didn’t even know existed, spotting commercials I had forgotten about for years, and I even spotted this “special feature” that showed up long before there were DVDs and actual special features.

Strange enough, I only knew Space Ghost as a talk show host before I knew he was actually a 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

I don’t ramble on and on because there is no point, but all of these fun discoveries (and, in this case, re-discovery) lead me to one of my finds worthy of Retroist.

Running With the Big Dogs…

Chances are, you have seen at least some aspect of the sportswear company called Big Dogs. It was the Dad Wear of choice in the 1990s, long before there was such as term as “dad wear” and “Dad Bod.”  They sell everything from t-shirts to sweatshirts, loungewear to boxer shorts, and even accessories for people and, well…their dogs.

The shirts often had “humorous” sayings that were the kind of things dads wore around their 1990s kids because the felt like they were being cool. I’ve equated Big Dogs to being the “No Fear” of the 1990s psuedo cool adult set. Remember those shirts? I had two of them. But I also remember Big Dogs.

Surprisingly, I don’t remember any kind of advertising for the company, just that I saw men wearing the shirts, as they seemed to advertise themselves.

The other night (in the midst of the tape transfers and “adulting”), I was working on a tape transfer of my 1994 VHS print of Clean Slate. You may remember it as that other romantic comedy Dana Carvey starred in, after Opportunity Knocks proved Carvey wasn’t the first name that came to mind when you heard “romantic comedy.” I loved Opportunity Knocks, and I know I loved Clean Slate back when, but I’m not really sure how I would feel about it now.

Anyway, when I was watching the previews before the movie, there was this one commercial that used the feature film as a tie-in, if only to give people who ordered from the catalog a discount. To me, it is notable as the only advertising I’ve ever seen for Big Dogs, and I obviously had forgotten about it.

Sandy…From Santa Barbara

The commercial features a group of sad-sack type office people, who are groaning about needing an “outside consultant.” These people are complaining to Mr. Magilicuddy. This “outside consultant” is named Sandy…which is only appropriate because she comes from Santa Barbara.

Why is that relevant?!

Sandy beaches.

Oh dear.

Santa Barbara, Sandy explains, is also home to Big Dog. She launches into the catchphrase of Big Dog, to which the office people give the same exact look I’m making while watching this commercial.

And then she uses Big Dogs catchphrases as insults towards the group (especially “Clark”) before we see clips of cool, successful people wearing Big Dogs clothes.

They’re all not “Clark.” We then find out that there are Big Dog stores throughout the United States, as well as a catalog.

But wait, there’s more!

First-time catalog shoppers can get a 10% discount just by mentioning the movie Clean Slate. And while I’m sure the customer service representative who takes your order knows about the promo, chances are they probably didn’t see the movie. Because no one really did.

Except for me, and the people who are reading this. Because Retroist readers and contributors always seem to be ahead of the curve, even with box office bombs.

We’re the smart bunch, and way cooler than this office crowd.

We’re given a toll free number…

And Sandy throws more insults disguised as Big Dog-isms, before we’re reminded of the discount offer and phone number again.

But don’t take my well-written words for it – click play and get sucked in by corporate madness and big dogs!

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

And my takeaway from all this? Be cool. Wear Big Dogs. Be like Sandy.10% discount on your first order. Clean Slate. Don’t forget to mention Clean Slate. Don’t be like “Clark.”

Lead follow, or get out of the freakin’ way…”Clark.”

Be Like Allison…

Can you run with Allison? Don’t stay on the porch…unless the porch is Allison’s Written Words. You can also follow her blog on Facebook, and she’s on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

Be like her.