First Atari - Missile Command

Celebrate Atari Day With…well…My First Atari!

It is once more the 26th of the month. Which of course means that it is time to celebrate Atari Day! Furthermore I felt that perhaps a more personal recollection would be in order. Case in point the memories of how I got my first Atari.
First Atari - Vic Sage

As you can certainly see I was rather excited to unwrap this particular Christmas gift. In addition I should say that it certainly wasn’t a bad holiday up to that point. If you look closely behind me you will spy the likes of Imperial Troop Transport as well as the remote controlled R2-D2.

[Via] Sarlaac Pit Podcast

Of course if you keep checking out that late 70’s photograph. You will likewise see a few more equally important toys in my youth. I will direct your attention to the then desired Mortimer Snerd ventriloquist dummy sitting…patiently…in the decorative chair behind me. Bear in mind this was before I was instilled with an overwhelming fear of dummies. This was naturally before Steven Spielberg delivered 1982’s Poltergeist!
First Atari - Poltergeist

Besides a collection of wind-up toys, something I will admit I was totally captivated by in my youth. We have some of those faithful blue friends, The Smurfs. Going off my memory I want to say that it the three present were Doctor Smurf, Lion Tamer Smurf, and possibly Hang Glider Smurf.
First Atari - Lion Tamer Smurf

Which I am sure you will be more than glad to hear leads us to my first Atari. Finally. So as I have already stated this was a good Christmas. It was all done or so I thought. My Grandmother asked what was that in the Christmas tree. I will admit to not being able to remotely find what had captured her attention. At this point my Father had joined in – trying to direct me to behind the tree where one wrapped gift remained hidden, nestled in the branches. It was small and box shaped, I literally had no idea what it was. Moreover when I ripped off that wrapping paper I discovered I was an owner of Atari’s Missile Command!
Missile Command

I think you can imagine how excited I was, right? The dawning realization that this obviously meant I got my first Atari! In the nearly seven years I have written for The Retroist have I ever let on I was remotely that sharp? I can vividly recall looking at the box and just shrugging my shoulders. I mean this gift was wasted as I of course didn’t own an Atari VCS.

That is when my Grandmother opened a closet door and pulled out a much larger wrapped gift. Heady with the joy of not just the Holiday but the thrill of civilized destruction I tore into the wrapping paper. You can see the absolute joy on my face in that photo, which was snapped by my Grandfather by the way. As much as I loved all of my Star Wars gifts and other presents…my first Atari was the best thing in my eyes.

In addition to Missile Command there was another Atari cart hidden in the tree. That was Adventure, a game I still love to this very day. Very quickly I was sitting in the middle of the living room floor with my Grandmother. After my Father had set up the Atari 2600 to that large television of course. But as you can see from this photograph of my Father and myself…even though he disliked video games in general. The fun of my first Atari was enough to coerce him to join me in game or two of Missile Command!
First Atari - Missile Command

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.


To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O/s site by following the link here!

Now that you have learned about my first Atari featuring Missile Command. Perhaps you would like to know another fan of that classic Atari game?


That would of course be none other than Steven Spielberg. Yep. The man responsible for many of our most cherished films as well as instilling a lifelong case of Automatonophobia was also a fan of the 1980 arcade game!

A Christmas Carol

Toon In: Enjoy 1971’s A Christmas Carol!

I mentioned in the last of the Retro Radio Memories Podcasts – I love A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens 1843 novella really gets to me. I’ve as a matter of fact have pretty much loved all adaptations of the classic tale. Just a few of my favorites include 1951’s Scrooge, 1983’s Mickey’s Christmas Carol, 1984’s overlooked made for TV version featuring George C. Scott and of course 1970’s version of Scrooge!

[Via] Plains Video

It most certainly has a bit to do with the supernatural elements…I mean I AM a monster kid. But more than that is the message that a person can be saved from a destructive path, they can better themselves. The act of redemption of course is what keeps me coming back to A Christmas Carol again and again.

Now having said all of that. There appears to be a version of the story that I’ve not seen before. An 1971 animated special that aired on ABC on December 21. But proved so popular that it was later given a theatrical release. Then secured an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1972!

Which by the way the Academy changed the rules right after that win – so a made for TV short film cannot be eligible. A bit of humbug with that, right?

While the stunning animation style was based on the illustrations provided by John Leech and Milo Winter. Who in fact provided the artwork for the 1930’s version of Dickens’ novella. The short film also had legendary Chuck Jones as a producer with direction by Richard Williams.

Another key point to remember about this adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the sometimes frightening images. Whether it be the likes of Jacob Marley – shocking Ebenezer to keep him silent.
A Christmas Carol

Or the Ghost of Christmas Present’s charges Ignorance and Want. Memorable and visually striking to say the least.

Another feature in the short film’s cap is the vocal talent they secured. For example you have Michael Redgrave as the narrator, Michael Hordren as Jacob Marley, Joan Sims as Mrs. Cratchit, and Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge. Yes, it is true that Sim reprises the role he played in 1951’s film adaption!

So sit back and Toon In for 1971’s A Christmas Carol – and from all of us at The Retroist have a Happy Holiday!

Just Jeff 53

All-4-One…and All 4 Christmas!

It’s the most obvious time of the year to be into Christmas music. And as I said in my previous article about Chicago’s Christmas albums, I like my staples, but I also like some unconventional Christmas music. Hence, the Chicago Christmas album…and All-4-One’s 1994 effort.

All-4-One. You remember them, right? They came after Boyz II Men, were based in the Los Angeles area (unlike Boyz II Men, who were based in Philadelphia, PA), and had a smooth R&B sound. Ranging in age from 20 to 24 at the beginning of their fame, they were beautiful, soulful, and they even had that one guy with the really deep voice. Now, I’ll confess, playing any music by this group will make me scream like it is the mid-1990s, I’m fourteen years old, and I’m popping their CDs into my Sony Discman.

And I may or may not have screamed the same way over watching All-4-One perform on one of the David Foster concerts.

Uploaded by All-4-One (Official Channel)

Ok, I definitely screamed like someone who would throw their panties (but that didn’t happen!). Why would anyone…

I’m sure it has happened, folks. No, I’ve never done that!

All-4-One, consisting of members Jamie Jones, Delious Kennedy, Alfred Nevarez, and Tony Borowiak – all of whom are still a quartet today – released their first album in 1994, a self-titled effort. So naturally, when you have a hit album, a Christmas album is probably circling nearby.

Case in point:

OMG, yes. This. This album. This album spent the whole month of December in my Discman. I didn’t own any “traditional” Christmas albums in 1996…I owned this. I played the heck out of this CD for at least three years. It also has the distinction of being one of my first CDs in addition to being the first Christmas album I ever owned.

All-4-One puts the soulful spin on the traditional Christmas songs, giving them a 1990s R&B sound. If you think all R&B music sounds the same, you’re not fooling anyone. 1990s R&B had a sound all of its own, and while these guys were probably pegged as riding Boyz II Men’s coattails, they knew how to stand out the right way.

I’d love for you to bask in the warm glow of 90s R&B, with an album that was truly All 4 Christmas.

You see what I did there?!

Oh fine, just click play.

Admit it, your Discman/Walkman-toting ’90s childhood came screaming back just a little, didn’t it?

So, I ask you fine readers: What was your first Christmas album back in the day? I’d love to hear from you!

You can contact me on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut to tell me what your first Christmas album was!

Allison was a Walkman/Discman-toting ’90s child, and she’s proud to admit it. She didn’t buy her next Christmas album until the year she graduated high school, but this was her first, and she’ll always treasure it…even if she can’t find her copy and had to listen to it on You Tube (thank goodness for You Tube!). If you like what you’ve seen/heard here, she’s got a whole blog of Christmas craziness (until December 25th, of course, then it just becomes craziness as usual!), over at Allison’s Written Words. You can follow her blog on Facebook, and her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

She really would love to know what your first Christmas album was!

Sammy Davis Jr Says, “Deck The Halls With Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz!”

 

Since the holiday season is here, many of us may overdo the merry-making and should heed the words of the Candy Man himself, Sammy Davis Jr, from this 1979 Alka-Seltzer holidays campaign, “Don’t let an upset stomach and headache turn you into a Scrooge! Take Alka-Seltzer! The sound of fast relief!

Sammy Davis Jr. was the Alka-Seltzer celebrity spokesperson for many years in the late ’70s. His charismatic, “Mister Entertainment”, stage persona was used to its fullest in the commercials, and were usually set within a nightclub or production studio. In 1978, Sammy Davis Jr. appeared in this Christmas-themed Alka-Seltzer advertising.

SammyDavisjr_AlkaSeltzerAd02_600

What made the 1979 campaign something special was that it focused on the holiday season almost completely and had changed Sammy Davis Jr’s persona of a flamboyant stage performer into a magical, Santa-like character who carried in his flying sled not a bag full of toys and gifts but a sack full of “fast relief.”

SammyDavisJr_XmasAlka_Sleigh04_600

It is his rendition of the Alka-Seltzer jingle that has made it indelible in our collective Pop Culture psyche. Sammy Davis Jr.’s popularity, combined with the catchiness of the “Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh What A Relief It Is!” jingle, gave fruit to a product giveaway, the “Alka-Seltzer presents THE SOUND OF SAMMY” record album which had, amongst several of Sammy Davis Jr.’s signature hit tunes, a version of the Alka-Seltzer jingle that ran over two minutes.

What you just heard gives full testament to the entertaining power of Sammy Davis Jr. in that you just listened to what is nothing short of a two minute commercial for Alka-Seltzer and you probably loved it.

Sammy Davis Jr.’s fantastic singing gives fast relief to the ears.

Want to see more of Sammy Davis Jr. and his Alka-Seltzer commercials? Click on the image below for another Retroist post about him.

sammy-davis-jr

Boys and Girls, Make this a Super Christmas!

So which Superman themed Christmas gifts would you like boys and girls? A Bop Bag? Super-Swim wear? A Superman Magic Kit, or Muscle Building Set? I’m hopeful that the lunchbox and watch will find space under my tree this year, plus the Paint by Numbers looks like a lot of fun too.

I’ll be sure to visit my local department store to see the greatest display of Superman merchandise ever!