Meet “Murphy” the Mirthmobile…And the AMC Pacer!

Before Murphy…and the Mirthmobile…

Picture it, 1976…a small-wide car called…THE PACER!

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The First “Wide Small” Car!

The American Motors Corporation (aka “AMC”) Pacer was touted as the first “wide small” car (and nicknamed “The Flying Fishbowl”). The Pacer was produced from 1975 until 1979. Despite its short life, The Pacer became a pop culture icon in 1992, upon the release of the Saturday Night Live-inspired feature film Wayne’s World.

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Iconic!

The beauty part about fans and geekism is that someone is always ready to re-create an icon, right down to the painstaking little details.

I proudly present…

Murphy The Mirthmobile!

Hello Murphy! This is the exact model of Pacer used in the film – the 1976 model! Murphy has New York license plates (mild disappointment!), but the other details are spot on perfect! As a Wayne’s World fan/geek/meticulous observer, details are mas importante!

And for $20 per person (or $10 per person wearing VIP lanyards), visiting Murphy gets you ample photos, choice seating…

You can also play Wayne and Garth…

Guess whose “blonde” hair worked out for Garth?

And sample the Red Rope Licorice!

Did I Mention The Most Excellent Mirth-morabilia?

I have the soundtrack for both movies…on cassette!

Also, I covered the VCR board game in a previous Retroist article!

Most Excellent Mirthmobile (and Murphy!) Related Content

Wizard World Description – Murphy The Mirthmobile

AMC Pacer Information – Wikipedia Article

This Pawn Stars segment…

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That Darn Stairway Dilemma…

If you must know, James did ask. :-)

(Another) Most Excellent Related Wizard World Chicago 2017 Experience Article

Deeds And Dirtbikes: The Vehicles of “Megaforce”! : Convention photos of screen-used vehicles from the 1982 film Megaforce…and my butt sitting pretty on the dirtbike!

On a silly side note, I saw Murphy driving down River Road in Rosemont, Illinois from my hotel room window. Can’t miss that detail!

Perhaps it was headed for…Aurora?

Deeds And Dirtbikes: The Vehicles of “Megaforce”!

Megaforce? You mean that laughable movie about a secret army, starring Barry Bostwick and Persis Khambatta? Megaforce, that movie where the dirtbike flips upside down?

Oh yes, Megaforce!

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Highlights of ComiCon

Think of your ComiCon experiences. What do you like the most? Celebrity encounters (love them), and the vendors that create opportunities to spend way too much money (love that too)? Both sound great!

There’s another thing I love about ComiCon…

Vehicles!

And awesome people posing with me!

It’s true – I love a good pose with a movie-used (or even replicated – I’m not picky!) vehicle!

I especially love it when the vehicles are movie-used AND obscure!

You Mean You’ve Never Heard of Megaforce?

Megaforce is a 1982 “action” film starring Barry Bostwick as Commander Ace Hunter. He’s the leader of a secret army composed of international soldiers. And his services are called upon when the peaceful republic of Sardun is attacked by its aggressive neighbor, Gamibia. The film also stars Persis Khambatta, and was directed by Hal Needham.

Ah yes, Hal Needham. That explains some of the absurd stuff in the movie.

Let this Mentos parody explain that absurdity:

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Yep.

If this doesn’t clue you into the absurdity of the film, nothing will.

Ok, three Golden Raspberry nominations explain everything.

The Vehicles of Megaforce

Behold, the reason you’re reading this!

The dirtbike and dune buggy pictures above are – brace thyself – actual movie-used vehicles. Normally with shows like this, one expects replicas built from scratch. But no, these are the real deal.

For $10, I too could be Barry Bostwick on a tricked out dirtbike, capable of flying through the chroma key skies…

I’m missing spandex, a mullet, and a baby blue headband. But I feel awesome!

The proud displayer of these amazing vehicles was happy to show me everything, including the inside of the dune buggy. He also told me an awesome story from that weekend, when he met Barry Bostwick and asked him to come take a look. Apparently, Mr. Bostwick was so excited to see the vehicles, he stayed there for – again, brace thyself – 45 minutes!

I guess he didn’t care that the movie is watchable only with a Rifftrax commentary.

All Coolness Aside…

The vehicles of Megaforce (unfortunately) have the distinction of making the cut of  The Drive’s August 6, 2017 “listicle,” Top 5 Worst Movie Vehicles of the 1980s. In fact…they’re the #1 worst vehicles.

True story.

Tack on the commercial and critical failure that followed its theatrical release, and you have the ultimate cheese that’s prime for RiffTrax viewing.

Take in this sampling (I actually own this movie in its riffed form):

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Unfortunately, searching the RiffTrax site yielded no results, so I can’t say “hey, go out and buy this!”.

So um…now I’m bummed.

But this is still awesome!

 Silver Lining?

Beautifully Haunting: Dead Mall Culture As Seen By Dan Bell

I’ll get this confession out of the way  – there is something eerie and hauntingly beautiful about dead malls.

Fascination With Dead/Dying Malls

In 2009, I read a Wikipedia article about Dixie Square Mall. We in the “nostalgia business” know this as the infamous site of the car chase scene in The Blues Brothers. The mall itself has a fairly infamous history due to the aftermath of its closure and the years it was left to decay.

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Pictures of the mall’s recent history shocked me initially, turning to fascination and interest. I found myself researching the culture of photographing and filming dying/dead malls in various states of decline.

I won’t be taking up this hobby any time soon, but it is fascinating to live vicariously!

Images of Dixie Square Mall in the most recent years of its long decay (source).

It is incredible how something so decayed and reclaimed by nature is so calm. It is simutaneously haunting and beautiful to see these images. Or, beautifully haunting.

That’s a thing.

Dan Bell And His Journeys

Columbia, Maryland-based filmmaker Dan Bell explores the fascinating culture of dead and dying malls as part of his You Tube series. His travels have taken him into the dying malls of the United States, including perpetually dying The Gallery at Market East, which I’ve been to. I’m convinced that mall has been dying since the 1980s.

Dan doesn’t just focus exclusively on dying malls, but also dirty hotel rooms you’d never want to rest your head in, and even a K-Mart store in its final gasps of life.

He combines his narratives with his filmed footage and creates opening credits from bizarre old videos. The soundtracks contain stereotypical mall Muzak. The malls he visits are not dead or closed yet, but slowly dying. They’re overrun by mall walkers and Bath and Body Works stores, but not much else.

These are the people who don’t shop in your neighborhood…

Dead mall staples, folks.

Dan Bell’s Dead Mall Series

So, the reason I brought you hear…videos!

Compiled for your consideration by Dan Bell, this playlist of his fascinating (for the niche crowd that loves this stuff) series on the culture of dead and dying malls.

Enjoy!

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Featured Image: Screenshot from “The $100 Mall: The Disaster of Pittsburgh Mills” (June 10, 2017)

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Watch The Peanuts Gang Rocking Out To Chicago!

The Peanuts Gang rocking out to Chicago.

Yep, I’m officially seeking out reasons to write about Chicago.

(Insert Chicago Explanation Here)

I’ll state the obivous: I love Chicago, I’ve seen them in concert, and I write about them ALOT.

I love this song, that song, and such and such album. The concert from 1993 is a Hair Party. I have lukewarm feelings toward Bill Champlin and Peter Cetera (love their singing though!), and OMG have you heard that disco song?!

Anyway…

Who Knew The Peanuts Gang Sang…Like This?!

Now, we’ve always known the Peanuts gang (Good Old Chuck and the Group!) to sing Christmas songs. There was also that time in the 1980s where child actors with actual singing talent played the characters. Every special in the 1980s had musical numbers. The characters came a long way from their over-enunciating days in the 1960s.

But they never quite sang like Chicago.

Until now.

A few years ago, my dad shared this video on my Facebook timeline:

I was just getting into Chicago’s music (thanks I Heart Radio!), but I’d been into Peanuts for years.

This video, my friends, is the work of Garren Lazar. It is just one of several Chicago music videos he made, featuring the Peanuts gang.

Oh yes, there’s more!

“The Peanuts Gang…in the Park…”

Garren has done quite the job of matching mouth movments and the music. What results is nothing short of amazing!

Take, for instance, this song I’ve never heard before…

This one EVERYBODY has heard!

Do you know what time it is?

…time to smile?

The flute solo that got stuck in my head for two days…

Seriously.

This lovely day in a certain open air place…I think it was some warm weather holiday…

This one, complete with all the feels…

I remember seeing this special as a teenager, and being sad. This song does not help!

That other song that signals a start…

I just wanna be…

And ANOTHER song I haven’t heard before!

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You laughed, you cried…you probably sang along. Don’t hide it!

But Wait, There’s More!

Turns out Garren Lazar has a huge playlist of singing Peanuts Gang videos, not exclusive to Chicago music!

Seriously, check this out!

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Thank you so much, Garren Lazar, for sharing you talent for making You Tube music videos a true art form! :-)

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!

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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!)

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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?