Did You Know Chicago Performed on Solid Gold?

Chicago on Solid Gold? Seriously, Chicago the band on a show known for dancers in gold lame shorts…in the same sentence?!

I’ll let that sink in.

Guess What Allison Found!

Fresh off their post-Cetera lineup change in 1985-1986, Chicago proved they can play the heck out of any venue…even if that venue was known for female dancers in gold lame shorts dancing to the day’s biggest songs. You probably didn’t know Chicago performed on Solid Gold, and neither did I…until now!

But It’s True!

In 1987, Chicago performed not one, but TWO songs from Chicago 18 – Adult Contemporary radio staple (31 years and counting!) “Will You Still Love Me?”

…and the lesser-known Bill Champlin/David Foster-penned “It’s Alight.” For the record, there were no gold lame shorts-clad dancers slinking around the stage to “It’s Alright.”

Because it would just be weird if they did it to “Will You Still Love Me,” right?

Here’s my point – there were no dancers.  Just lots of neon shirts, mustachioed Bill Champlin, and Jason Scheff’s permullet.

I swear, you get a 23-year-old lead singer, and suddenly, you start appealing to the youth!

You’d love to hear/see these songs, wouldn’t you?

Will You Still Love Me For Sharing This Performance?

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I swear, this song has the effect of forcing you to forgive Jason Scheff for something – anything – that he probably has ever done. Every transgression, disagreement, and argument – forgiven when he sings this.

If he threw in a hair flip, this article would be a series of keystrokes I didn’t even realize I made. Because my head probably hit the keyboard upon blacking out.

But wait, there’s more! And Robert Lamm is happy to tell you all about it!

It’s Alright…Oh, Right! That’s the Name of the Song!

Robert Lamm, proud emcee and spokesperson, is happy to introduce their next song, and its singer!

And he used the song’s title to describe it – he’s so funny!

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So, here’s my question: how did this song not see a release? It’s a great song, combining everything we love about Chicago with the sweet 1980s sound that made up the second wave of their legacy. And Bill Champlin, despite how I feel about his attitude toward his time with Chicago, has an amazing voice. His contributions were always a welcome delight.

Plus there’s no denying he truly had the coolest mullet of them all….

…until his gorgeous mane of awesomeness took over.

Do You Remember “Sports” Cartoons?

A hippo and a cat (and sometimes a pig and/or a dog) engage in a competition of sports…and that’s not the beginning of a bad joke. In the world of 1980s animation, it actually exists as Sports Cartoons!

And in the spirit of the Olympics, there was no way I could let this one get past me!

But Seriously, What Are Sports Cartoons?

Sports Cartoons are a series of short cartoon produced by Lamb-Perlman Productions in 1985, and resemble the National Film Board of Canada’s animation style. The shorts feature anthropomorphic animals as the participants of various sports.

The participants are:

The Hippo….

The Cat…

The Big Cats…

The Pigs…

And the Dog.

The concept is simple – the animals (usually the Hippo and the Cat) engage in various sporting events. By his own disastrous design, the antagonistic Cat never wins.

However, through pure dumb luck, the sweet Hippo (or the Pig) always succeeds.

Actually, there was that one time The Big Cats won…

Cha-cha-cha!

That’s it, really. No dialogue, no voices (except for the screeching cat). The shorts range in running time – 40 seconds to two minutes in length.

Sports Cartoons As Filler Material

In the United States, Sports Cartoons filled commercial space between programs on Nickelodeon in the late 1980s and until the mid-1990s. I have vivid memories of watching the animals duke it out frequently, and loved watching the Hippo come out on top. When one watched, one never rooted for the Cat. You rooted for the Hippo (or Pigs).

Besides, the Hippo was adorable.

Those ears!

All told, the entire series ran forty-five minutes (for forty-five episodes), and saw a home video release by Family Home Entertainment.

Yes, mom and dad…you’ll love it too!

What Types of Sports Were Featured in Sports Cartoons?

Well…everything! And probably some you haven’t thought of! Common sports, such as Basketball, Baseball, Football, Soccer, Hockey, and Boxing had their moment, as did anything construed as a sport.

That’s right – nestled with the “typical” sports, Hippo, Cat, and Friends also competed in Darts, Chess, Skydiving, Karate, Swimming, Pommel Horse, Gymnastics, Skeet Shooting, Hot Air Balloon, Javelin, Shot Put (this one was a two-parter), Fencing, and Table Tennis.

And that’s not even scratching the surface!

Would You Like To See Some Sports Cartoons?

Of course you would!

And thanks to You Tube…you can!

Upload via Twin Peakser

Now do you remember?

Do YOU Understand The FuncoLand GAMES Process?

Believe it or not, there was a time when a certain craze/addiction/collectors item called “Funko” didn’t exit, but another Funco did. They called it FuncoLand, and, well…other stores of its type killed it.

The Story of FuncoLand

Minneapolis, Minnesota-based Funco, Inc. opened in 1989. Like GameStop after it (and Game Crazy during its time), FuncoLand sold consoles, games, and peripherals, but emphasized their used games. In 1999, the company was purchased by EB GameStop (EB Games is part of GameStop as well – remember them?), and by 2005, started selling lifestyle, accessories, and toys, marketing their products toward boys ages six to fourteen years old. By 2015, FuncoLand stopped selling video games altogether, and by 2017, the chain was sold to Dave-Spin Retail Group. Most stores are closed now, but some are now 77 Kids (the children’s brand of American Eagle).

For the uninformed, Dave-Spin Retail Group owned Blockbuster and Chi-Chi’s. I compel you to find one of those places these days.

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In 1998, FuncoLand released one of those “oh-so-entertaining-for-the-easily-amused” training videos that outlines the company’s sales process, featuring an employee who is having trouble (of his own design) learning the FuncoLand Sales Process, G.AM.E.S.

Adam, FuncoLand, and the G.A.M.E.S. Process

Our journey through learning the ins and outs of the G.A.M.E.S. process begins with Adam.

He’s a FuncoLand new hire, who’d rather play his Game Boy Pocket (because 1998!) than learn the policies and procedures. His manager (actually FuncoLand Director of Sales and Service, Chuck Simmons) gives him an hour to learn the G.A.M.E.S. process, and wouldn’t you know it, Adam falls asleep.

Because that’s what happens in training sessions, right?

Adam journeys into the terrible special effects-laden land of…The Game Master! Here, Adam must learn FuncoLand’s sales manual and apply it to his job, mastering the skills in one hour. Sounds easy, except Adam looks like a deer in the headlights.

If he doesn’t learn the G.A.M.E.S. Process, he’ll be doomed there forever. Or fired. We’re all rooting for Adam to lose his job. It isn’t our faults he fell asleep during his training. What happens in his “sucked into the instruction manual dream” is his disaster in the making.

We’re also loving Chuck Simmons as The Game Master, and his freakin’ huge hourglass!

And of course, he not only has to collect each letter, he has to apply them to his real world experience…

This guy.

And his son, complete with mid-1990s Mariners baseball hat.

In 1998.

I kid you not. I have not seen a hat like that in years!

Dad here has this perpetually confused look, but then again, Adam just randomly shows up next to him while he shops. I’d make faces like this too, if I were him.

Speaking of which, what is this G.A.M.E.S. Process Adam must learn?

Why…

G.A.M.E.S. Process

Greet

Advise

More Information

Encourage Add-On Sales

Saying Goodbye, and Thanks for Coming in!

Will Adam successfully learn the process?

You’ll find out when you watch…

That Crazy FuncoLand Training Video!

So go on, click play, The Game Master is waiting for YOU!

Both videos: Upload via Rad Universe

And there you have it, another walk though employee training in its finest moments. They don’t make employee training videos like they used to. I’d say this was the end life of those “so great they’re terrible” training videos, but Game Crazy was a few years away from jumping into the waters FuncoLand was already swimming in.  Barely. Because GameStop was ready to catch them in their net.

I hate when a business I write about is effectively not longer in existence. But I love the cheesiness of training videos!

Anyone else think Mr. Simmons enjoyed his role a little too much?

Do You Have the Mad Skills To Work At Game Crazy?

Let me ask you a different question: Are you…game crazy enough to work in video game retail?

Ha, see what I did there?!

You clicked “Read More,” so obviously you’re either intrigued or a masochist. It’s ok, I’m a little bit of both myself.

After all, I do watch training videos like they’re awesome enough for Retroist articles.

(Related Reading: That time I sat through Montgomery Ward’s Loss Prevention Training Video)

Game Crazy: That Other Video Game Store

When I was a kid/teenager/college student, the top video game stores in my area were Game Stop and Electronics Botique. Oh, and there was Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart (ick), and Circuit City. Lots of options for game buying. Heck, my mall had two Electronics Botique locations – the upper level, and the lower level. No, the store was not two floors, they actually had two separate locations. I’m serious.

Seriously. I am. Serious.

Anyway…

There were plenty of retail outlets to purchase games, but to rent them, my local video store sufficed. From 2003 until 2005, I worked as a cashier at a local mom and pop (you know the type of place, they always had an adult section), and I rented Game Cube, Playstation 2, and XBox games to bratty kids. At the beginning of my time there, we still had Nintendo 64 and Playstation games, though we phased those out to the Point of Sale racks.

In my time there, and the years both before and after, I’d never heard of a store called Game Crazy. In fact, I managed to get to 2016 without hearing of such a store…until I spotted an episode of The Spoony Experiment, where Noah Antwiler riffed (though “ripped” is a better descriptor) his way through a training video for a store called Game Crazy.

Unfortunately, I can only associate the store with what I saw in the training video, and um…yeah, there’s a reason the store didn’t last.

Ok, aside from competition.

The 411 On Game Crazy

Game Crazy existed within the Hollywood Video universe (located within or adjacent to their stores), based in Wilsonville, Oregon, and a subsidiary of Movie Gallery. The concept of Game Crazy was to sell new and used games, consoles, and peripherals, as well as host gaming tournaments. You know, it works like your standard Game Stop, except well, they dared to be different by having a “Try Before You Buy” policy. Isn’t that what renting games was for?

Game Crazy’s downfall came from over-saturation of the market (read: they had competition!), with Movie Gallery filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in November 2007. In September 2009, the announcement came that 200 of the 680 operating Game Crazy stores would close. By April 2010, with its doom in sight, Movie Gallery, Hollywood Video and Game Crazy filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, and began winding down business by May.

As for Game Crazy, the brand was relaunched as a gaming blog, but ceased to update since October 2014.

Check out the site, it looks nice!

Let’s Go Game Crazy

Dearly beloved, we gathered here today, to get through this thing called…Allison trying to be creative with song lyrics.

(Organ response)

Actually, the only thing you’re going to get through is this thing called …The Game Crazy Training Video. That’s not the official title, but it works.

Contained within this journey to effective salesmanship (or, “The Keys To the Game”) are your two “Not Ready for ESPN Players”…

And the most offensive training video co-host EVER!

And by “offensive,” she offends Ebonics/Hip Hop Speak.

I wish I was kidding!

Seriously, I’d kid about this, but I can’t. Because I’ve sat through this twice, and sadly, I’m convinced it gets more and more offensive each time.

So, whenever you’re ready, click play and go Game Crazy over the keys to the effective selling of video games, consoles, and peripherals!

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Hopefully, you didn’t go Game Crazy over the craziness of it all!

Bomb-diggity and BOO-YAH!

I think I’m going a bit…Game Crazy!

Oh, and if you want to see the riff that introduced me to this whole Game Crazy madness, I highly recommend checking out Noah Antwiler (aka “Spoony” from The Spoony Experiment) riff the heck out of it!  (Warning: The video does contain strong language of the infrequent sort).

Have You Heard Tris Imboden’s Chicago Story?

“As many of you have already heard, our long-time drummer Tris Imboden has resigned. For nearly thirty years Tris has shared his tremendous talent, and indeed his life, with Chicago. We are fortunate to have known him and grateful to have shared the stage with him these many years. He has been a great friend and band mate and we’ll miss his enthusiasm and contagious smile. We wish Tris and Mary a lifetime of happiness together.” – Statement from Chicago’s website

The Chicago Shakeup

I logged onto YouTube yesterday to find a response to a comment I made on a Chicago performance video that vocalist and bassist Jeff Coffey left the group. His leaving comes after only joining the group full time in October 2016 (he initially filled in for Scheff during his leave of absence in mid-2016), but also two days after another shakeup in the group.

As the statement says, after twenty-eight years of drumming and flashing a smile that says “I love my job” (and not in the fake way people who actually hate their job smile), Tris Imboden resigned from the group. His recent marriage and the rigorous travel and touring schedule were cited as his reasons. While this makes me sad, the decision was obviously for great reason, thus proving that we haven’t seen the last of Tris Imboden’s talent.

What we have seen the last of, however, is this.

Upload via William Gigliotti

Amazing.

1990: The Summer Without A Tour

Tris Imboden’s Chicago story begins long before his arrival in 1990 – he saw the group perform as an opening act in 1968 (remember, they were new at the time!), and he loved their music immediately. Imboden’s talents took him to the Kenny Loggins Band (yes, that  Kenny Loggins), as well as Al Jureau, among other talents. The summer of 1990 saw Tris without either band he toured with going on tour that summer. The opportunity he was given was hard to pass up, and the rest, as they say, is history. For Tris Imboden, it was a twenty-eight-year journey that even his battle with Stage 3A Lung Cancer couldn’t put to an end.

Would You Like To Hear Tris’s Chicago Story?

I think the better question is: Would you like to hear Tris tell you about his career both before AND with Chicago?

I uploaded his excerpts from the mini-documentary The New Guys, filmed in 2014 and included as a bonus feature on the Blu-Ray of Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.

Go on, check it out (click his name below the picture), and also witness Tris’s mad harmonica skills!

The New Guys – Tris Imboden (Upload to WordPress via Allison’s Written Words)

Excerpts: 1968, Being A Musician in the 1970s, Joining Chicago, and 1990

Thanks, Tris!

I said it on Twitter already (Chicago and Imboden both “liked” my tweet), but I’ll say it again: This author wishes Tris Imboden all the best in his future successes. His time with Chicago was amazing, and his talent will be missed!

(And this was before Chicago liked the tweet!)