A Toast to the End of Time

I am pleased to announce the publication of my first story of the year. It would be a good title for the last story I ever get published, but I have no intention of that being the case of course.

This is the first story that I started writing this year, the first story that I’ve ever written (to completion) on a cellphone, and the first story to introduce the character of Xarlox. This is also a “Realms Beyond Midnight World” story, if your interested in categories.

Xarlox is inspired by Qwfwq from Italo Calvino’s “Cosmicomics.” and will be featured in other stories, but non of those other stories have yet been written. Other inspirations for this story are “A Toast to Harlem” one of the few stories (not poems) by Langston Hughes, “A Lesson in Theoretical Physics” by Nick Gregorio, the music piece “Quartet for the End of Time” by Olivier Messiaen and the various Wikipedia articles on the far future of the universe.

This story is presented by my friends at the Ginger Collect, and is my 8th story to be published by them. I hope you all enjoy.

A Toast to the End of Time” | The Ginger Collect | Issue Nine

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Moonglow

If you enjoyed my lengthy blog post on the 1988 Christmas Tape, then you might enjoy this one as well. It is kind of a train of thought piece though, just impressions of each songs with sidebar information for your enjoyment, if you enjoy that sort of thing, if you don’t, well no one’s forcing you to read this blog post are they.

This is kind of a first for me. Avantasia is a band I’m very familiar with. Of course I am, Edguy is my favorite band of all time, hands down, Avantasia originally started out as an Edguy side project, that has over the years eclipsed it’s parent band. Edguy will be mentioned requently throughout this review so bear that in mind. This is the first time that I’ve picked up a new vinyl record, by a band I know and enjoy, and listened to it on wax for the first time, and during this first listening I am writing this review.

Side I

Ghost in the Moon – great title, and great song. Good, I was a little worried, I didn’t love the last Avantasia album all that much. Actually looking back, im not even sure if I heard the last Avantasia album “Ghostlights” the previous album “The Mystery of Time” was a bit of a let down, that was during the Edguy/Avantasia era in which they were leaving there Power Metal Routes and turning more into a hard rock band. Nothing against hard rock of course, but as a die hard power metal fan, that’s unacceptable. Space Police (the Edguy album) brought back the metal sound, and so it seems that has bled over into Avantasia. But this one starts out on a very strong note, fully orchestrated symphonic operatic power metal, with an opening by a swift piano. 9:51 Seconds. Their second Album “The Metal Opera Part II” starts out the same way with the song “Seven Angels”… and so dose their third album “Scarecrow” and that album was when they really turned into a band themselves and not just a side project. The only thing that is slightly disappointing right now is that this album is the limited edition black vinyl and not the glow in the dark vinyl I was hoping for, but that’s okay, it’s the music that’s important.

Book of Shallows – Another great title and yes another great song. Much faster, then the first, much more power metal. It’s hard to tell on a record where the song breaks are, especially with this band where oft times the songs flow into each other, and the longer songs have pauses.

Moonglow – The title song, starts out slow, picks up a bit, and has both Tobias (lead singer and project organizer) signing a duet with the first female vocalist of the album Candice Night (that name is familiar, I looked it up but I’ve never heard of her specifically, she is the wife of Deep Purple founding member Richie Blackmoore, and also featured on the album “Days of Rising Doom” a Sasha Paeth orginizes (and Tobias involved) side projected called Aina. Yes I’ve heard and love that album, but didn’t know the name Candice Night from it specifically). The song is fairly heavy, and almost poppy, as though it could almost be a hit track. Not sure if I love it too much after the first hearing, it is catchy, but damn, it’s very hard to beat that first song. the song sounds fairly similar to “Amaranth” by Nightwish, at least the chorus does.  If you looked at the link, this song actually has a music video for it, and is one of the two official singles from the album.

Side II

The Raven Child – This song starts out very slow, not metal at all, but rather has a classical almost medieval sound. I won’t say that is a mark against the song, but I’m glad it starts out side 2 and not side 1. This album so far is reminding me a lot more of their first two albums, and that’s a good thing. Now the song picks up, I didn’t see the time note, this one is 11:13. Okay, this song might be the best on the album… I don’t know though, that first one was nearly perfect. This is a very good song, the only thing that I don’t like so much about this one is it is set in a minor key, unlike the first song, but damn this one is powerful. This song is the other single from the album.

Starlight – another good song, very good, reminds me a lot of earlier Avantasia, quick paced power metal, just a shade on the poppy side. In another world this might be a hit song. It’s a short song 3:36, the second shortest on the album. In better times, whenever a new Edguy or Avantasia album released, my very good friend Sam and I would do a drive specifically to listen to the new album, and discuss it live. We got to do that with: Scarecrow, Angle of Babylon, and Wicked Symphony (all by Avantasia, the later two in the same night since they released both of those albums congruently); and Tinnitus Sanctus (by Edguy).

Side III

Invincible – I’ll be honest here, I was kind of hoping that this would be a cover of the Pat Benatar Song. That is not out of the question btw. Edguy has covered Ultravox, Mangum, Europe, and Falco (on Space Police, they were originally going to do “Der Kommisar” by After the Fire, but instead opted for “Rock Me Amadeus” which was the first Edguy song don’t in their native german since their early demos, and the first time Tobias rapped in a song. Also an interesting factoid for you, “Rock Me Amadeus” was the second song I ever downloaded off iTunes, the first was of course the indomitable “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins); and Avantasia has covered Abba, Ultravox, and Freddy Mercury. This is the shortest song on the album, and meh. But that’s okay, I didn’t expect every one of the songs to be slammers.

Alchemy – Back to the heavy metal again, and not only back to the heavy metal, but back to the symphonic stuff as well. This is a longer one too 7:30. This is the first and (currently) only Avantasia Album I have on Vinyl. I have “Space Police/Defenders of the Crown” (an Edguy album) on Vinyl and probably my second favorite of theirs. The other power metal album in my collection is Princess’ Day by Skylark, which is a picture disk and a damn good album as well (and if you look at the link, a damn good album cover for a picture disk).

Piper at the Gates of Dawn – Another longer song at 7:18, and it starts out with a very interesting major key synthesizers which are then matched by heavy metal riffs. A very good song, and also back to the operatic ideas with multiple voices singing and telling a story. Edguy has a song called “The Piper Never Dies” off their album “Hellfire Club” which is also a really good song. I don’t know if this song specifically references that one (and I don’t think it does) but this song is a very good song on the album.

Lavender – well I don’t like the song title all that much, but I like the song a lot, it has a great chorus with a group of singers belting it out almost like a church hymn from a heavier church that I may be tempted to join.

Side IV

Requiem for a Dream – I don’t like the title, I might otherwise, but it’s been used before, the song though, there’s nothing wrong with it, good symphonic power metal, with a major key and a fast paced, how can you go wrong? I should note here, that for the most part, these songs are not standard or formulaic with a couple verses and choruses and guitar solos, they are much more operatic and non-standard. So if your looking for a typical album, this isn’t it, but if that’s what you were looking for, you probably wouldn’t have found this album anyway.

Manic – Well… if you remember my comment a few tracks ago, “Manic” is in fact a cover of the Michelle Sembello song from Flashdance. You’ve probably never heard it this way before though, it is still very much a metal song. Best song on the album? No, not even close. And as much as I love Tobias, Edguy, and Avantasia, this metal cover of the song is still not better then the Erock version… okay, it’s almost as good.

Heart – one of the downsides of Vinyl is they rarely have bonus tracks, well this album has one for you, and this song is it. Better yet, the Edguy/Avantasia bonus songs tend to often be even better then the songs on the album proper. They started this practice from Mandrake until there latest. This song… nah, not better then the album proper, but its still decent.

Overview – hell yeah, This is a great album, it might be Avantasia’s best since Scarecrow, or maybe, just maybe, even better then Scarecrow, I will have to listen to it a few more times before I make that final judgment call, but regardless, they brought it back. They put a lot of work into this album, it shows, and it pays off ten fold.

The Five Borough Cocktail Tour

Some of you may already be aware that New York City is divided into 5 boroughs. The primary, most iconic of which is Manhattan. In recent years Brooklyn has become the new “hip” place. The other iconic image of New York, the Statue of Liberty and it’s territory of Liberty Island, is under unusual geopolitical regulations that would be far to complex to get into here. The other three boroughs are: The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.

In May of last year (2018) I, along with my father, my uncle, a very close friend, and close to 50,000 other people, participated in the Five Borough Bike Ride, and it was difficult. Not so much because of the hills (yes there were hills, bridges are a lot steeper when you’re not driving up them), but because of the people. There were times you simply couldn’t move because of the crowds. It was a good experience regardless, but not one I would probably do again. I did get a medal for it though. People debate over the participation trophy idea, but it felt really good to have that medal draped over my neck, like I really was a champion. For those of you who disagree, just remember that life is a race with only yourself, and every accomplishment a victory.

Medal

A few months ago I developed a taste for the martini. I make my own style which I call a toxic martini, and if your interested, here’s the recipe: 3 oz of gin (my favorite is “Death’s Door” but they don’t make that anymore, so now I usually go with Beefeater), 1 oz of dry vermouth, 3 blue cheese stuffed olives, 1 pickled onion, 1 pickled jalapeno, and a table spoon of brine each (from the olives, onions and jalapenos). Throw all of it into a shaker, shake well and strain into a martini glass, pick the garnishes out of the strainer and garnish in the glass as well. If you don’t like gin, don’t worry you won’t taste it. I don’t endorse kids drinking anyway, but if I did, I still wouldn’t show them this drink, it is an adult beverage for sure, that is probably going to be too strong for most adults to handle as it is. I was drinking these one the rocks for a while until a good friend of mine got me a real martini glass and it could be enjoyed properly.

Toxic Martini

I am not an expert mixologist by any means, so don’t think that I had the knowledge I am soon to impart inherently. I had a Manhattan on night, and when I made it I decided to do a little research on it. In doing so I stumbled across the whole point of this post, the five boroughs each have a cocktail named after them. I read the ingredients and they seemed simple enough. So I picked up some stuff, and got to work. If you want to become as much an expert as me, here is the Wikipedia article.

Bronx

I went in alphabetical order. The first up is the Bronx. I always like the name. I like most words with an X in them, and the name sounds tough, almost barbaric, “Bronx the Warrior.” the cocktail is… okay, not my favorite one.

It’s basically a “perfect Martini” with Orange Juice. What is a perfect martini? A regular martini is gin and dry vermouth (with a 6:1 ratio), a Perfect Martini has both Sweet and Dry Vermouth. A Bronx is gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice (ratio of 6-2-3-3), and no garnish.

I didn’t invest in any high quality orange juice for this beverage, and the ratios were eyeballed. It wasn’t bad though, it’s more a breakfast cocktail, similar to a screwdriver. If you don’t like the taste of alcohol it would be a good way to get it down. Of course, if you don’t like the taste of alcohol in general, why bother?

I had not turned the TV on when I took the picture of the cocktail. It was a very cold night that night, into the single digits, which I love. And when ever the temperatures dips that low, I always put on my favorite W.C. Fields short “The Fatal Glass of Beer”. In it, Fields is a reindeer herder in the Yukon, it features the reoccurring joke of him opening the door and saying “It ain’t a fit night out for man or beast” which is followed by someone obviously throwing fake snow in his face. This joke was reused briefly in his feature length movie “The Old Fashioned Way.” which itself is not one of his best, accept for that reference. Whenever the temperature dips that low, I always take a picture of the temperature on my phone and text it to my good friend Bob (who I did the 5 borough tour with, and who hates the cold to a level I can’t even begin to describe) with the line “it ain’t a fit night out for man or beast.”

Brooklyn

This drink is very similar to a Manhattan, with a very slight variation, but will get to that later on. The drink consists of rye whiskey, dry vermouth, maraschino liquor and Bitters, at an 8-4-1-1 ratio (the numbers are so high because you only use a few dashes of bitters. There are different kinds of bitters, the proper recipe calls specifically for picon bitters, but I used Angostura Bitters instead. Bitters make things kind of taste like ginger, and its very good for digestion and upset stomachs. For the rye I used “Canadian Hunter” which is a very cheap but also very good Canadian whiskey, it’s not strictly a rye, but it’s close. It’s a good drink. But not quite as good as a Manhattan, which we will get to in a minute, I promise.

On the TV I had Saint Elmo’s Fire. I watched this move for the first time last year during my Totally Awesome 80’s August [link], and I subsequently picked up the movie, and watched it again in November when I was trying to write my novel. I kept taking breaks from my novel to watch it because I kept remembering various scenes to be good. Then I realized that just about all the scenes in the movie were good, and it became, for me, a really great movie. I’ve decided to watch it in conjunction with Groundhog Day (which is more or less my favorite movie) which I watch every year on Groundhog Day. St. Elmo’s works in conjunction for a few reason, St. Elmo’s takes place largely in the winter, both films feature Andy McDowell, and well I needed to find the right time to watch St. Elmo’s annually, so here it is.

Manhatton

What can be said of the Manhattan? It’s the best of the five borough, easily, and the best of the five cocktails. The only of the 5 that is considered “unforgettable” according to the IBA… however don’t let that designation full you, there are 50 cocktails on that list, I’ve only heard of maybe 8 of them before, and I’ve tried I think 3, the list should probably be updated (and yes, sampling them all is a future project).

The Manhattan consists of rye, sweet vermouth, bitters, and garnished with a maraschino cherry. As you can see it is quite similar to the Brooklyn. It was named after the Manhattan club, a social club which evidently invented it.

It’s the best of the 5 and another very adult beverage. The sweet vermouth and chill makes it go down real easily. If you’re not a fan of whiskey in the first place, you’re probably not going to enjoy this one. I used the same Canadian Hunter to make this cocktail, but remember this is a fairly high end, elegant drink, so if you want to make it the right way, you should probably opt for a higher shelf rye, such as Crown Royal.

Very appropriately, on the TV I have Seinfeld, a show which itself takes place in Manhattan. The episode, which you probably couldn’t tell from the still, is called “The Suicide” Jerry starts dating a girl who’s boyfriend is in a coma after a botched suicide attempt. This is not from my official Seinfeld DVD’s (I of course have the entire series), this is actually a VHS Transfer, my most recent transfer, which will be getting the same treatment as my Christmas tape did last year, so if you enjoyed that one, there are more to look forward too.

Queens

The Queens Cocktail is similar to that of the Bronx, where we started, but with the substitution of Pineapple juice in place of the OJ. This is better then the former. Pineapple juice is more sour and a better flavor in my opinion, and also more special. I won’t go into the ratios because it’s just like the Bronx.

On the TV is an episode of Fraiser called “Beware of Greeks.” Years before the Fraiser had accidentally convinced his cousin to not be a doctor and to rather pursue his juggling corer, which lead his aunt (a fiery Greek woman) holding a lengthy grudge against him. Fraiser patches things up with the aunt, promising never to medal in her son’s life again, which ultimately leads to the situation you can imagine. Very funny episode, great show. Not the best episode though, that goes to the Ski Lodge, which was two episodes earlier.

Staton Island

This one is a little out of place… actually it’s a lot out of place. Staten Island does not actually have a cocktail named after it, but the Staten Island Fairy does, which this drink holds in it’s place.

The Staten Island, or Staten Island Fairy is Malibu coconut rum and pineapple juice, basically a pina colada. It’s the worst of the five borough cocktails, but still not bad. I want to point out that none of them are particularly bad, and I could easily enjoy another. This cocktail is basically a joke (not in a bad way), Staten island is yes very much an island, but it is far from a tropical island.

When we go to New York we usually take the Staten Island fairy over, because the drive and the parking is much easier that way. When we did the five boroughs bike tour, we actually stayed in a hotel on Staten Island. There are some beautiful homes on Staten Island, especially ones that overlook the bay and into Manhattan.

On the TV is an episode of Johnny Test, form my 100 TV Toons to Go box. it is actually the last DVD i watched in my current run through the box. and a good TV cartoon to boot. i didn’t think i would like it because of how modern it is, but i was pleasantly surprised. the writers on it are quite good.   

Five Boroughs

Well I had to do it. I couldn’t help myself. This drink is all five of the boroughs mixed together, in generally even proportions. An ounce each of gin, rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, Malibu rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, a splash of cherry juice and a dash of bitters. Shake together and strain into a martini glass (like all the others) garnished with five maraschino cherries.

How is it… well, it’s a lot stronger then I thought it would be, a Brooklyn or Manhattan is a stronger drink of course, based on the ingredients, however, with the juice in the 5 boroughs it makes it go down easier. The five cherries eat up a lot of the space though, so maybe the next time I won’t go that far. Also I forgot to put the bitters in it this time, that would have probably made it better.

In summery, here’s how I would list the cocktails form best to worst.

  1. The Manhattan

  2. The Brooklyn (almost tied… almost)

  3. The Queens

  4. The Five Boroughs

  5. The Bronx

  6. The Staten Island

I hop you have enjoyed this little review, and the various things you may have learned.

Skoal. (Skoal is the Norwegian equivalent of “Cheers” and based on my penchant for all things far north it’s the term I always use).

Mega DVD Marathon – Episode 5 “The D’s”

The Daily Show: Indecision 2004 – So this is probably a first. I picked this DVD up right before I was going to start the D’s, and I watched it (in its entirety) on that same day. I was interested to see how a topical news comedy would hold up 14 years after the fact. As it turns up it held up quite well. It’s not the entire coverage of the 2004 election, it’s just the two conventions, one debate episode, and the election night episode, still it was plenty of material. I should point out that I’ve never seen an election night Daily Show episode, since 2004 I’ve worked very long hours every election, first as an elected official (which I won’t go into) and then because of my job (which I also won’t go into). Will I pick up the other daily show DVDs? Well I’ll tell you, this one was 6$. So if I come across another one at that price, sure, but i probably won’t go out of my way to get more, I don’t know how many more times I might watch this one, maybe every presidential election season along with Bullworth.

Darkwing Duck Vol. 1 – what can be said about this cartoon, not quite as well remembered as some other cartoons of the era, but entertaining nonetheless. This DVD set clearly spans into the second season, not sure why they went that route, but not for me to decide, it’s better then the second option of making the volume shorter then the season. The show has Launchpad McQuack as an important sidekick, he was originally a character is Ducktales, but takes place in St. Conard and not Duckburg, but it is still in the Ducktales universe. There is a wide variety of bad guys: the liquidator (a dog made out of water), megavolt (an electricity charged rat), negaduck (the polar opposite of Darkwing), Bushroot (a plant creature), and so on. The show can best be described as “Disney’s Schlameel Batman” but a must see/must own for any Disney Afternoon fan. Btw because of the way I file my DVD’s the Disney TV shows are going to be scattered through out instead of listed as “Disney’s Darkwing Duck, Disney’s Adventures of the Gummie Bears, etc. There are plenty more to come so keep you Mickey Mouse ears on.

David the Gnome – I think this is probably my 4th favorite TV show of all time, it’s so warm and innocent and just simply beautiful. It’s a Spanish language cartoon that is heavily based on a Dutch book series about Gnomes, and dubbed into English with Tom Bosley as the titular David and Christopher Plumber as the limited narrator. I watch this series usually two or three times a year, always noticing new things. That being said I have still never watched the last episode. The first episode states that Gnomes live for 400 years, David is 399 years old and on the last episode turns 400, you can figure out what that means, I can’t even watch the preview for that episode. Perhaps when I know my own end is soon I will watch that last episode, but let’s hope that’s not for quite a while. I would say more about this DVD (and certainly can) but I already did a post on it (and one of the books) and you can check that out for yourself if interested here [link]. The DVD is filed under D for David the Gnome, but it could have been much earlier as it is officially called “The Adventures of David the Gnome” or it could have been much later because it is also known as “the world of David the Gnome” but I like where it is here.

Dick Tracy – I actually wrote a semi-fictional story last year about my various experiences with Dick Tracy as a kid. The story hasn’t been published yet, but it may (if I can find the right venue for it) so I won’t go into all the details. Dick Tracy (I’m fairly sure) was the first movie I ever saw in the theaters, and the Dick Tracy action figure (released with the movie) was the first toy i ever baught with my own money and I still have him, though he’s missing a leg, and I should have watched the movie with him, but damn, forgot again (I also have a “Steve the Tramp” action figure still in the box on my wall of toys). This is the second time I’ve watched this movie this year, my good friend over at Oblivions Realm [link] got it for me for Christmas. He got me a bunch of other DVDs which at this point I’ve watched half of the haul. The movie is really well done, a great neo-noir dieselpunk film with fine acting from Warren Beaty, Glenn Hadley (RIP), Charlie Kosmo (who was also the disturbed kid in “What About Bob”), Al Pacino as the main bad guy, and Madonna as the quintessential Fem Fatale. Color, make up and acting is so over the top that it almost seems like a cartoon in its own right. Check it out if you haven’t, check it out again if it’s been a while, trust me it’s worth it.

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb – I watched this movie maybe a dozen times when I first really got into movies close to 20 years ago but haven’t seen it since. It’s close between Kubrick and Zemeckis which one I like more and which director is actually my favorite. That all being said, I should watch this movie more often, it is just simply incredible, funny, arty and intense all at once, and unfortunately a little too apropos at the moment (with North Korea and everything). There was an interesting article I read online years ago about a guy who watched the movie 500 times in one year and was able to recreate stills from the movie using household items (link). One thing unnoticed this time around which I don’t think I noticed before (and certainly didn’t remember if I did) but James Earl Jones is in this movie. He’s in 2 other great films in my collection (I know which one your thinking… and your wrong) Conan the Barbarian and Naked Gun 33 1/3. Not sure if he’s in any others in my collection, I don’t have (or want) any Star Wars, but man, what a great voice. Of course this movie has other great actors, Slim Picken’s (from Blazing Saddles and One Eyed Jacks – 2 must see westerns) George C. Scot (from Patton) and the multi-faceted versatile Pink Panther himself Peter Sellers playing several rolls without any confusion by the viewer (now that takes real talent). If your interested in Kubrick, this is a good starting point to be introduced to him, it’s not as difficult or hard to watch as some of his other films (A Clockwork Orange and 2001 are excellent films but less approachable). If you haven’t seen it, get out there and see it, its one of the best, 5 stars all the way.

Dragon Ball Mystic Adventure – I picked this up in I think 2002 when I was getting into anime (I never got that far into anime as is probably obvious by now). The DVD is a 45 minute short movie that i believe takes place in the middle of the second season of dragon ball. I was never a fan of the Dragon Ball Z series (especially after the Spirit Bomb bullshit) but I did like the Dragon Ball spinoff with Goku as a kid and Master Yoshi. It’s much lighter, less serious, better characters, and just all round better then the up-it’s-own-ass more adult Dragon Ball Z series tend to be. This DVD however is a bit of a rip off, remember it was only 45 minutes long, full price (when I got it) and at the time the only Dragon Ball available on DVD. I havn’t watched it in years. But I may again, it’s not bad.

Drawn Together Season 1 – I picked this DVD up at a flee market at a very low cost, I would have probably been disappointed if I paid full price, there’s only 7 episodes. That being said it’s very funny, I watched the show mildly when it was still new. If your not familiar with the show it was a short lived Comedy Central animated reality show, which is to say it is a spoof on reality shows. Each character (for the most part) is a parody of another famous cartoon: Xander is Link, Captain Hero is Superman, Ling-ling is Pikachu, Waldor is Spungbob, Foxy Love is Josie from the pussycats, Toot is Betty Boop, Clara is a generic Disney princess. This leaves Spanky Ham who is more or less an exaggeration of his own voice actor Adam Carola. The other voice actors aren’t as recognizable accept for maybe Foxy who is voice by Cree Summer who also did the voice of Number 5 from Codename: Kids Next Door. The humor in the show is way over the top, very off color, vary racist, and won’t appeal to everyone, probably why the show only lasted 36 episodes (it’s kind of surprising it lasted that long considering). If your someone who is easily offended or mildly offended you’re not going to like the show, if your me, you’ll love it. My favorite episode “Nipple Ring-Ring Goes to Foster Care” which is not in this season. My favorite on the DVD is probably “Gay Bash” which is when Xander comes out and a parody of Robin Williams’ genie makes a guest appearance. But this episode is only slightly better then the rest of them. Like I said though, there are only 7 episodes on the DVD. I’ll get the rest if I find them at a good price.

Dream Theater: Metropolis 2000 – the first of only a few concert DVDs. I have a love/hate relationship with Dream Theater for reasons I’m not going to get into. Imagines and Words is my third favorite album of all time which features the song Metropolis pt. 1 (link), this concert and the concept album it features is essentially part 2. Telling the story of a man who kills his lover and then himself and is haunted by memories of this in his next lift. I may not have that right, but concept albums are not my specialty. The concert (the main portion of the DVD) is the album, which makes sense because you can’t really play one song alone, it’s hard to even notice exactly where the songs change either, there’s pretty much no pause. It’s been years since I’ve watched this DVD, and i actually enjoyed it more this time around, it’s something I should go back to more often. The original concert, (on a 3 disk CD) was pulled from the shelves because it was released a week before 9-11 and had the picture of an apple and the silhouette of the twin towers on fire (link). The DVD uses that image on the menu screen. I have no personal problem with the image, but it’s not one of Dream Theater’s best, go ahead and check out their album covers for yourself, they are all quite good: Images and Words, and my favorite (of the covers) Once in a Livetime. There is some bonus features with the DVD with some of the other songs from the concert, but unfortunately no Metropolis pt 1, a big mistake in my humble opinion (and not the only one they’ve made over the years).

Drunken Master – this is the second time I’ve seen this movie, the first was a long ago. It’s good, there’s a lot of slapstick comedy (which is pretty typical of a Jackie Chan movie), and a mediocre story line there mostly to string the different fighting scenes together, not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. I know Drunken Fist is a an actual style of king fu (and one that seems more interesting then a lot of the others) but from there I don’t know anything else about it. Regardless it’s an enjoyable movie.

The Legend of Drunken Master – in my opinion this is not the better of the two movies (there may be more in the series, I haven’t looked into it). There is much more of a story in this movie, a pretty serious story about corruption, working conditions, international affairs and more, but it ways down somewhat on what should be just a nice little fun Kung fu comedy. And the humor feels more forced. Maybe I’ve just come to expect better from Jackie Chan. Not a bad movie though, still worth watching.

DuckTales vol. 1 – among other things DuckTales is known for having perhaps the greatest theme song of all time (link) almost scientifically proven (link to explanation video). Theme song aside it’s also a great show plane and simple, the first of the Disney Afternoon Cartoons (others include: Gummie Bears, Talespine, and Chip & Dale), all of which I have the first volumes of). I actually like Talespin and Gummie Bears slightly more. Scrooge McDuck is an interesting blend between greed and kindness that is almost impossible outside of a cartoon and would make for a very interesting character study. Launchpad is in most of the episodes (he’s also in Darkwing), but Gizmoduck is not in this volume, which is the only disappointment here. As far as episodes go, it has my favorite and (personally) best remembered episode “The Curse of Castle McDuck” which is about Scotland and Druids (as a kid I was very interested in Scotland, because of this show, I have no Scottish blood as far as I know. I’m less interested in the culture these days, no offense of course just less then I used to be.), another episode “Sphinx for the Memories” I had completely forgotten about until I saw it again, and I hadn’t seen it in close to 30 years. The show is actually 31 years old, the DVD I have is the 25th anniversary edition. Anyway that episode features Donald who is abducted (no pun intended) by an Egyptian cult. Several episodes are all heavily influential in the 2013 remake of the NES game. One thing I didn’t notice though was any icon scene of Scrooge diving into his money bin, maybe it was there and I just missed it. The show takes place all over the world, which I really like and has strong elements of fantasy, science fiction, humor, mystery and adventure, good dialogue, strong characters, etc. it really has just about everything you could want in a cartoon and then some. I could go on for much longer, but I won’t, I still have 22 more letters to get through. Luckily some of them are really short, like the next one, the E’s at only 3 DVD’s all of them movies.

The Numbers (2018)

So in closing off 2018, here is the raw data of what I’ve accomplished this year:

Hours Spent Writing: 535

Hours Spent Reading: 401

Hours Spent Watching Movies: 80

Hours Spent Playing Video Games: 392

Hours Spent Video Editing: 35

Hours Spent Writing Music: 8

Pieces Published: 10

New Pieces Written: 20

Blog Posts Posted: ?

New Music Written: 1

Books Read: 30

Books Read (for the 1st time): 19

Books Read (on paper): 11

Stories Read: 409

Movies Watched: 67

New Movies Watched: 36

Video’s made: 9

Video Games Collected: 20

Vinyl Records Collected: 36

DVD’s Collected: 36

The year overall started out quite good, but then went sharply downhill over the summer. Good bad or indifferent, this year has been very busy, with work. And everything has suffered because of it. Here’s a quick comparison. Writing: -70 hours. Reading: -160 hours, and 7 books, +236 stories thought (so that’s something). Movies: -12 hours, -2 movies, -8 first time movies. Video Games: -55 hours (not exactly a bad thing, but since all the other hours are down, not good either, things are staying in the general proportions), -3 Games Collected (pretty good considering my primary retro store closed half way through the year without warning). Video Editing: -28 hours (nearly half as much time), we will be bringing that up next year). Music: +4 (doubled the amount of time I spent last year, next year we will see a significant increase in this as well. Vinyl Records Collected: +7 (I expect this story stay about on par next year, 3 records a month is a good pace)

If I can write more than 500 hours in a year I am happy, and this year I was able to break that, which is good. we are about 70 hours less than last year, but really everything suffered this year, as I was extremely busy with work all year, and then very burnt out by the end of the year (which I’m still feeling as I write this btw.)

I did a little more reading then I actually thought I would have. I spent the hour before I go to sleep most nights writing this year, because I didn’t get enough writing done in the day, and again too tired from work to really read or be in the mood to listen to an audio book on my way home from work. I didn’t mow the lawn all too many times this summer because it was raining nearly every weekend. But I did read some pretty good books, and some pretty sizable ones, five of them were well over 500 pages. And I read quite a few stories along the way (short and longer), a lot of which I had read before and a lot of which I had not, in fact I’ve averaged 1.12 a day. One story a day is a nice average that I should try to keep up. But having written that, and knowing the way things seem to go, I’ll probably read a dozen stories next year.

Next year my goals are to write 2 new stories, edit 1 unedited story, make 1 new song, and make one new video every month (with the acceptation of November). I don’t know if this is actually feasible, I don’t know how busy I will be a work and how burned out I will be when I get home this coming year. But I guess we are going to find out soon.

Wake Up Songs 2018

If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know what this list is. if not, let me explain. many mornings i wake up with a random song stuck in my head… and i have a very eclectic taste in music. since 2015, I’ve been keeping track of what they are, bellow is the list for this year. as an added bonus I’ve astrixed (*) every song that i have on vinyl at this point. there are links to most of the songs. there was a lot of synthwave and punk this year, just be forewarned. I hope you enjoy.

1/4 Intergalactic by Beast Boys 

1/6 Domino by Genesis*

1/7 Humanity by Aquaria 

1/8 Nothing to Repent by Noble Beast 

1/11 Wrong Way by Sublime 

1/12 Pressure by Lost Years 

1/13 Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind 

1/14 The Way It Is by 2pac 

1/15 Tipsy Tower (I have this commercial on VHS if that counts)

1/16 Play Hard by David Guetta 

1/19 The Gummie Bears theme song

1/20 Time Bandit  by Turbo Knight 

1/21 Get Lucky by Daft Punk 

1/22 Revolution 909 by Daft Punk

1/24 the Bourree from the 3rd Bach Cello Suite 

1/25 Larger Then Life by Backstreet Boys 

1/26 Same [this means it’s the same song as the day before]

1/31 Soul Siphon by Danial Deluxe 

2/1 Heatwave by Lifelike 

2/4 Midnight Chase by Tokyo Rose 

2/6 Same

2/8 Dance With Somebody by Whitney Huston 

2/10 Suden Joiku by Korpiklaani 

2/11 In Da Club by 50 cent 

2/12 An Honest Mistake by the Bravery 

2/16 Antarctica by Men Without Hats*

2/19 Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers 

2/23 State Protection by Rorschach Garden 

2/26 David the Gnome theme song

2/27 I Like it Like That by Chris Kenner 

2/28 So Electric by Lifelike

3/7 Swanheart by Nightwish 

3/8 Same 

3/11 Tutenkamen by Nightwish 

3/12 Goof Troop theme song

3/15 Jerry Was a Race Car Driver by Primus

3/19 Illegal Alien by Genesis* 

3/20 Tonight’s the Night by Rod Stewart (Love Rod Stewart, but not this song) 

3/22 I’ve Got a Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka 

3/25 Simple and Clean (Kingdom Hearts Remix) by Htada Hikaru 

3/26 Space Flight by Efence 

4/1 Ode to Joy by Beethoven 

4/4 Two Princes by Spine Doctors 

4/8 Standing in the Doorway by Flock of Seagulls* 

4/9 In Da Tub (from a dream I had where 50 cent appeared on an episode of Sesame Street and sang this song with Burt while in a tub-????) 

4/11 Moonlight Shadow by Skylark 

4/15 – What’s Up (heavy metal version) 

4/17 Heat of the Night by Aqua 

4/18 God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols 

4/20 Because I Got High by Afroman

4/22 Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel 

4/25 Patty’s Day by the Clan

4/27 Infamous Carnage by Bastards 

4/30 Coming to America by Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies 

5/8 It’s Gonna Get Better by Genesis*  

5/9 Better Off Alone by Alice Deejay

5/11 The Carpenter by Nightwish

5/15 Firegun by OMD* 

5/19 Set the World on Fire by Symphony X

5/21 St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr

5/23 Evening Star by DragonForce 

5/24 What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes 

5/25 I Fought the Law by Dead Kennedys 

5/26 Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying by Megadeth 

5/27 Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) by Meatloaf*

5/28 Patty’s Day by the Clan 

6/3 Infamous Carnage by Bastards 

6/4 Out of Season by REO Speedwagon*

6/5 Cowboy by kid rock 

6/6 Long Long Way to Go by Phil Collins 

6/7 Hefelumps and Woozles from Winnie the Pooh (Also Have This on VHS)

6/8 Yule Tide from the Tick

6/9 For What it’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield 

6/13 Basket Case by Green Day 

6/15 Infamous Carnage by Bastards 

6/18 Shut Up and Dance With Me by Walk the Moon

6/19 Dragon Reborn by Noble beast 

6/20 Run Runaway by Slade 

6/24 St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr

6/26 There’s a Light from the Rocky Horror Picture Show

6/27 Holiday in Cambodia by the Dead Kennedys

6/29 Macho Man by Village People*

6/30 I Want My Shit by ICP

7/8 Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks (man that is a sad song)

7/9 Battle Song by Tuatha de Danon 

7/10 Victory Song by Ensiferum 

7/13 Keep on Galloping by Korpiklaani 

7/17 Head to Toe by Lisa Lisa & cult jam 

7/18 Gypsy by Fleetwood Mac 

7/23 Heaven is One Step Away by Eric Clapton*

7/24 The War Song by Culture Club*

7/25 Don’t Let the Bells End by the Darkness

7/26 Havana by Pentatonix (almost didn’t link this one)   

7/31 Daydream Believer by the Monkeys 

8/5 Hide and Seek by Howard Jonas meshed with Long Long Way to Go by Phil Collins** 

8/9 St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) by John Parr 

8/10 The War Song by Culture Club* 

8/11 Don’t Ask Me Why by Billy Joel 

8/14 The Wheel of Fortune Theme Song from 1988 (have on VHS)

8/20 Heart and Soul by Hewy Lewis and the News* 

8/23 Paperlate by Genesis 

8/27 Heavy Metal (Is the Law) by Helloween 

8/29 God Blessed Video by Alcatraz 

8/30 It’s the End of the World As We Know It by REM

8/31  Crush On You by the Jets

9/1 Voor de Dood by Aroma di Amore 

9/13 Under Pressure by Queen/David Bowie 

9/14 Kunnia by Korpiklaani 

9/17 Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad by meatloaf*

9/19 Three Shiny Nails by Marc Spitz Freestyle 

9/20 Just a Fool (That’s Down) by the Sultans 

9/26 Just Driving Around in Jon Voights Car from Seinfeld

 9/29 The Humpty Dance by digital underground

9/30 She’s Such a Groovy Lady from Fraser

10/4 Siobhan by the Tossers 

10/5 Chariots of Fire by Vangelis 

10/6 Dishy by Candypants

10/7 The Irish Way by the O’riellys and the Paddyhats 

10/8 Just a Fool (That’s Down) by the Sultans  

10/9 Take It One the Run by REO Speedwagon*

10/10 Theme from The Blob

10/12 Hunt the Self by Howard Jonas*

10/15 Late Night Double Feature from the Rocky Horror Picture Show 

10/18 Paperlate by Genesis 

10/22 The War Song by Culture Club* 

10/24 Radioactive by Imagine Dragons 

10/25 Crazy For You by Madonna*

10/26 Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell

10/28 Happy Voices by DFLV

10/30 Liftoff by Zane Alexander

11/5 Opus 17 by the Four Seasons

11/7 Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by the Animals 

11/9 Barrels of Whiskey by the O’Reilleys and the Paddy Hats

11/10 Happy Voices by DFLV

11/13 The Spirit of Massachusetts 

 11/17 At the Hop Danny and the Juniors

11/23 Rock the Casbah by the Clash 

11/26 Dishy by Candypants 

11/27 The Great Ones Remember by Men Without Hats*

11/28 Faded by Allan Walker (Martin Haber Remix)

11/29 Believe by Cher 

11/30 Little St. Nick by The Beach Boys

12/1 Siobhan by the Tossers

12/6 Flying home for Christmas by Street Clearner (I came across this from this video which i highly recommend, you can see my comments under the video)

12/9 Ever Fallin in Love With Someone by The Buzzcocks

12/10 Bang the Drum All Day by Todd Rundgern 

12/12 Dragon Reborn by Noble Beast

12/13 Descendants, Defiance, Domination (Heathen Throne Pt. 3) by Ensiferum*

12/16 Dreaming by blondie*

12/19 What’s Your Name by lynyrd skynyrd 

12/20 Flying home for Christmas by Street Clearner

12/23 Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac

12/24 Happy Voices by DFLV

12/25 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (Under the Mirrored Mistletoe Remix) by Holy Ghost & Clasixx

Playing and Collecting (2018)

Video Games Beaten:

  • Aladdin (Gen)
  • Barker Bills Trick Shooting
  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (first time)
  • Link’s Crossbow Training
  • Kirby’s Dream Course (first time on original cart)
  • DuckTales HD

Video Games Played Heavily (Not Beaten):

  • Back to the Future (NES)
  • Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (WII U)

for collecting: * = New Product

Video Games Collected

  • Pink Goes to Hollywood (w/Box – Genesis)
  • Vegas Dream (NES)
  • Wordtris (SNES)
  • Barker Bill’s Trick Shooting (NES)
  • Wrath of the Black Mantra (NES)
  • Tazmania (Genesis)
  • A Boy and His Blob (NES)
  • Solstice (NES)
  • Marble Madness (NES)
  • Anticipation (NES)
  • Time Lord (NES)
  • Beauty and the Beast: Roar of the Beast (w/Box – Genesis)
  • Kirby’s Dream Course (SNES)
  • Uniracers (SNES)
  • Aladdin (SNES)
  • Bug’s Bunny’s Birthday Blowout (NES)
  • Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (NES)
  • Win, Lose or Draw (NES)
  • Loony Tunes (Gameboy)
  • Starfox Zero (WII U)

Full Video Game Collection

  • NES (43+3) SNES (15+2) N64 (0+4) GC (20) WII (24) WIIU (14+1)
  • GB (15+6) GBA (6+2) DS (18+1) 3DS (13+2)
  • GEN (31+3) DC (10)
  • PS1 (1) PS2 (13)

DVD’s Collected

  • Blade Runner*
  • Brick*
  • Brokeback Mountain
  • City of Angles
  • The Daily Show: Indecision 2004*
  • Don Jon
  • The End of the Tour*
  • Gangs of New York
  • Ghosts Goblins & Ghouls
  • Gold Rush & Meet the Baron*
  • The Greatest Sports Films of All Time*
  • Gremlins
  • The Adventures of Ichabod & Mr. Toad*
  • Identity
  • Inception*
  • Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
  • Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
  • The Littles – The Completely Series*
  • Midnight in Paris*
  • MST3K Vol. XXXI*
  • MST3K Vol. XXXIX*
  • MST3K: The Movie*
  • Nighcourt Season 1
  • Once Upon a Time in America
  • Passion
  • The Pink Panther: Frolics in the Pink*
  • Postcards From Buster – Season One*
  • Prince of Pursia: Sands of Time*
  • The Road Warrior
  • Scooby-Doo Meets Batman
  • The Snowman (1982)
  • South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
  • Spaceballs
  • St. Elmo’s Fire*
  • The Terminal
  • Wayne’s World & Wayne’s World 2*

Vinyl Collected

  • 2001 A Space Odyssey Soundtrack
  • Adventure Time Presents: Marceline the Vampire Queen “Rock the Nightosphere”
  • Aladdin Soundtrack Picture Disk*
  • Albinoni’s Concerti A Cinque Op. 9 #’s 2m 5, 8 & 11
  • Back to the Future Soundtrack Picture Disk*
  • Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf
  • Beethoven’s 7th Symphony
  • Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas Nos. 21, 25, and 23
  • Black Earth by Bohren & Der Club of Gore*
  • Carry On Wayward Son Picture Shape Disk by Anthrax*
  • Christmas with the Chipmonks
  • Chronicles by Steve Winwood
  • Contact by the Pointer Sisters
  • Dvorak’s 5th Symphony “From the New World”
  • Eat to the Beat by Blondie
  • The Best of Fraggle Rock*
  • Go West by The Village People
  • The Great Violin Concertos Vol. 1 Baroque Era, Vivaldi & Bach
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1 Soundtrack*
  • Keep the Fire by Kenny Loggins
  • Macho Man by the Village People
  • Mozart’s Symphonies #35, 39, 40 & 41
  • One Man Army by Ensefirum*
  • People Are Still Having Sex by LaTour
  • Rampal Plays Scott Joplin
  • Selections from the Musical Notebook for Anne Magdolena by J.S. Bach
  • Sowing the Seeds of Love by Tears for Fears
  • Sports by Huey Lewis and the News
  • The Complete Steven Universe Soundtrack Vol. 1 (4x 10” set)
  • Switched-On Bach by Wendy Carlos
  • Tiffany (self titled)
  • Ultimix 28
  • The War Song by Culture Club
  • Water Music & Music for the Royal Fireworks by Handle
  • Working My Way Back to You by Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons
  • Youthquake by Dead or Alive

Toys Collected

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Delta Don*
  • Nightmare Before Christmas – Zero and Elf*
  • Funko Pop – Gizmo (from Gremlins)*

Movies (2018)

New Movies Watched

(Best to Worst)

  1. Heathers
  2. Sunset Boulivard
  3. Saint Elmo’s Fire
  4. Blade Runner
  5. Dick Tracy
  6. In Bruges
  7. Inception
  8. The Third Man
  9. The Nice Guys
  10. Mr. Right
  11. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)
  12. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  13. Downsizing
  14. The Naked Street
  15. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  16. The Breakfast Club
  17. The Treasures of Long Gone John
  18. Deadwood ‘76
  19. Girls Town – MST3K
  20. Chicago Syndicate
  21. The Great Muppet Caper
  22. Jungle Goddess – MST3K
  23. Robocop
  24. Liberty and the Littles
  25. Fun and Fancy Free
  26. Loving Vincent
  27. The Blob
  28. The Day the Earth Froze – MST3K
  29. Spinal Tap
  30. Here Come the Littles
  31. Cinema Paradiso
  32. Home for the Holidays
  33. Sixteen Candles
  34. Farce of the Penguines
  35. Porky’s
  36. Lady Bird

All Movies Watched (in order):

  • In Bruges
  • Christmas Vacation
  • The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy
  • Blade Runner
  • Dick Tracy
  • The Naked Street
  • Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
  • Cruel Intentions
  • The End of the Tour
  • Groundhog Day
  • Mr. Right
  • The Nice Guys
  • Who Framed Rodger Rabbit
  • Dick Tracy
  • Dr. Strangelove
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)
  • Spinal Tap
  • Chicago Syndicate
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • The Third Man
  • Blade Runner
  • The Great Muppet Caper
  • Lady Bird
  • Jungle Goddess – MST3K
  • Drunken Master
  • Heathers
  • The End of the Tour
  • Enter the Dragon
  • Downsizing
  • European Vacation
  • 1776
  • Loving Vincent
  • Inception
  • Deadwood ‘76
  • The Day the Earth Froze – MST3K
  • Saint Elmo’s Fire
  • Heathers
  • Christmas Vacation
  • The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie
  • Bugs Bunny’s 3rd Movie: 1001 Rabbit Tales
  • Porky’s
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • The Great Muppet Caper
  • RoboCop
  • Labrynth
  • Back to the Future
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Here Come the Littles
  • Liberty and the Littles
  • Farce of the Penguins
  • Fun and Fancy Free
  • The Treasures of Long Gone John
  • Sunset Boulevard
  • Sixteen Candles
  • The Blob
  • Ghostbusters II
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)
  • Cinema Paradiso
  • Saint Elmo’s Fire
  • Girls Town – MST3K
  • Star Wars Holiday Special Rifftrax
  • What’s Up Tiger Lily
  • Home for the Holidays
  • Conan the Barbarian
  • Conan the Destroyer
  • Christmas Vacation

Readings (2018)

New Books:

(Best to Worst, * indicates a Non Audiobook)

  • The Tunnel by William H. Gass

  • What I Think About When I Think About Running by Haruki Murakami

  • The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

  • Sharpe’s Eagle by Bernard Cornwell

  • Mistborn by Branden Sanderson

  • Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess*

  • The Ultimate NES Guidebook by Pat Contri (and others)*

  • The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

  • The Hour of the Dragon by Robert E. Howard

  • The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino*

  • Five People You Meet in Wawa by Nick Kupsey*

  • A Boy and His Dog by Harlin Ellison*

  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Sounders

  • Bride of the Serpent by John Peter Drummond*

  • The Blob that Ate Everyone by R.L. Stine*

  • World Memory and Other Cosmicomic Stories by Italo Calvino*

  • Best American Short Stories 2016*

  • Rocannon’s World by Ursala K. Le Gunine

  • New Spring by Robert Jordan

Books Unfinished:

  • Wittgenstine’s Mistress by David Markson

  • Best American Short Stories 2017

  • Dinosaurs On Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin

New Stories Read (Not from Collections)

(Not from Collection, relatively in order)

1988 Christmas Tape

First DVD

I hope you enjoy this fairly unusual and fairly long blog post, the first part of what I’m calling the “Old Tapes” series. It’s kind of obscure, almost a train of thought piece, of memories while watching the old VHS tapes from my collection.

The 1988 Xmas Tape, is the most important of the entire collection. That year I was 4 years old, living overseas, and we didn’t have direct access to American TV, so my aunt would record stuff and send it to us. I’ve watched this tape, I am certain, more than anything else in my entire life. A conservative estimate would be close to 500 times, and that is not an exaggeration. The tape is definitely deteriorated, but luckily I’ve had it transferred to digital form… twice, and also transferred to another VHS, which I’m not sure if that tape is still around, if it is I might get that transferred too because it’s probably slightly higher quality since it isn’t as old and hasn’t been watched as much.

The very first thing on the tape is half a music video of “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown. Did you know that Bobby Brown did the theme song for Ghostbusters II, and he had a cameo in Ghostbusters II as well, if not you can check out the links for yourself. Also, did you know that Britney Spears covered the song? No? Well, that’s okay because it’s unwatchable.

This video was evidently part of a longer show that was sponsored by the now defunct “Valley Forge Music Fair” which was a theater in the round and there is now a Barns & Nobel standing in its place. I actually saw a variety show at the VFMF about Will Rodgers (I think). The larger show closes with a cover of Kenny Logins’ “This is It”. The cover is a far better version than the original song, which sadly I cannot find. I actually have Kenny Logins “Keep the Fire” on vinyl with that song… but it’s not one of my favorite albums.

Then we go into the most important part of the video, the commercials. Don’t get me wrong, the shows on here are all great, if they weren’t I wouldn’t have watched this tape so many times, but the commercials included are almost like a time capsule or even a time machine.

When this tape was recorded: Ronald Reagan was president, Michael Jackson was known only as an entertainer, phones were not portable, synth-laden music came on your choice cassette record or CD, Bill Cosby was America’s Dad, Donald Trump was a casino owner, Back to the Future had a sequence in the future, there was no internet (at least not what you’d recognize as the internet), and Russia was called the Soviet Union. I’m not saying these times were better or worse, or if any of these things are good or bad, I am just saying they were, that was the time, and this tape is my tunnel too it. Somebody watched this exact sequence of programming and sponsors thirty years ago, and now, through the magic of magnetic tape, I am as well.

The very first one is for McDonald’s, telling people to enjoy a 49₵ burger break. I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve seen the cent symbol in a commercial, and finding the symbol for cent to insert here took some time. Then there’s a Reynolds plastic wrap commercial starring the juggler Michael Davis. Evidently, he was big in the ’80s and did a white house correspondence dinner which had Ronald Reagan laughing his tits off.

The first “feature” in the tape, is a Disney Special, which features two vignettes from “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” my favorite movie from Disney’s Dark Age. I have a copy of the movie on VHS as well, an official padded white clam shell Disney tape, not something recorded off the TV. The first vignette is about Rabbit trying to get Tigger lost in the woods so that he stops bouncing, but evidently “Tigger’s never get lost.”

There’s a commercial for Teddy Grams, I finally tried Teddy Grams for the first time while visiting my grandmother in Arizona, and it was probably several years later. I remember, talking to my friend Alex late at night in probably 2010, and while on the phone he tried Teddy Grams for the first time as was shocked at how good they were. They are not simply just graham crackers shaped like bears, there is more to them, but I can’t quite explain what it is.

There’s a commercial for Velveeta that has Claymation jalapeno’s wearing sombreros dancing to the tune of “Tequila” by the Ventures, augmented to change the only word in the song to Velveeta. On the theme with anthropomorphic foodstuffs, the next commercial stars the California Raisins, playing along with Ray Charles to the song “Heard it Through the Grape Vine.” Comparing these commercials to modern commercials, they seem much more on the nose. But at least you know what the hell they’re advertising and why. The Raisins (and perhaps the jalapeno’s in the previous commercial) was created by Will Vinton who passed away at the age of 70 this year, and whose name will come up in a big way later on in this post.

Then there’s a commercial for Monday night football: Seahawks vs. Raiders.

In the second vignette, Tigger bounces too high into a tree, which is ultimately resolved by a fourth wall break in which the narrator tips the book to the side and Tigger slides down the words to safety, kind of postmodern for a Disney movie now that I think about it.

There are a number of commercials for Sears. I only know of one left around here anymore, and it just so happened that my wife worked at that store for years, she was a manager there and it was her first “serious” job.

There’s a nice little snickers commercial, with a college student saying she could eat them without interrupting her studies. I don’t watch much modern TV (I spend too much time watching this tape and others like it), but I get the feeling that they don’t advertise candy as much as they used to, and certainly not in the way that this commercial says in the subtext “eat this and not real food.” I’m sure the nutritionazi’s wouldn’t like seeing that. I don’t know if I’d say Snickers are my favorite candy bar, but they’re up there. I especially like them frozen (the actual candy bar, not the ice cream bar), though I wouldn’t try that unless you have really strong teeth, because they freeze very hard.

There’s a station bump for the Wonder Years, which is kind of surprising that the show is that old. The show portrayed the 60’s in the ’80s, which means that the show itself is older now then the decade that it portrayed by half.

There is a commercial for the Casio Tone Bank Keyboard, with a guy in an empty ballet studio playing a nice classical song. It would have been nice (and made sense) if the keyboard player was Tony Banks, the Keyboard Player from Genesis… I mean it would have fit so well. Unfortunately, I don’t know what song he’s playing, if it is, in fact, something classical. This is followed by a commercial for Pearle Vision, advertising a coupon to get a second pair of glasses for free, and listing the myriad reasons why someone might want an extra pair of glasses. The company is still in existence, and I just googled them, apparently, there are about 3-4 in a 10-mile radius, I don’t wear glasses so I wouldn’t know, glass won’t fix what’s wrong with my eyes.

There is a brief news bump for an upcoming expose, which is slated to answer the question, and I quote “Why qualified blacks avoid the teaching profession.” I can’t imagine a statement like that ever flying on the news in today’s world. They probably wouldn’t even broach the subject. It may have been from a different news bump but, but I think this question was posed by Vernon Odem, who just a few days ago announced his retirement.

The rest of the special is padded out with three Disney shorts, the first is a Donald Duck cartoon called “Bee on Guard”. I’ve lent this tape out to other people from time to time, my aunt (who recorded it in the first place) for one. This was before I broke off the record prevention tab, and it accidentally recorded over most of this cartoon with a segment from entertainment tonight. This news segment is kind of interesting as well, it talks about Jim Lear after having suffered a heart attack, he talks about living the rest of his life “however long that is, at full throttle, doing what I want to do” thirty years later, at the age of 85, he is still alive, he actually hosted one of the Bush/Gore debates. It also mentions the breakup of Yugoslavia, there was some interesting drama about that last year when one of the generals Slobodan Praljak killed himself with poison on the floor of the Hague during his trial. The aftermath of that war is very strange, and the suicide is only a part of it.

There are a few commercials for Toy’s R Us, which, go figure, this year, has shuttered all its stores. It was a sad day, to say the least. Toy’s R Us has always been a staple for me even in my adult life, especially when the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got big again, and they were rereleasing some of the originals, I have a Bebop, Rocksteady and Delta Donatello from that line, and a Donnie the Wizard (from a more modern line), all mint on card, and all purchased from Toy’s R Us.

There’s a commercial for Who’s the Boss, a show that featured Tony Danza who since has become a teacher in Philadelphia (I couldn’t imagine being in his class… though I doubt his students would be old enough to appreciate it.) My mom and dad also saw Tony Danza perform (in a musical capacity) at Feinstein’s a year or two ago.

There’s another Disney short featuring Pluto called “Pluto and the Gopher” a gopher gets stuck inside Mini Mouse’s house, and the dog chases it. Nothing of particular note with this short… but it’s a good one.

There’s a Wendy’s commercial in which they teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (The WWF), and you could get a plush toy with a kids meal. Wendy’s is my favorite fast food place BTW.

There’s a station promo for Murphy’s Law, a short-lived (13 episode) neo-noir romantic dramedy, which looks promising, I found a copy of the pilot episode “Where Are My Socks.” but I haven’t watched it yet. It features George Segal (Pop’s from the Goldbergs) and Maggie Han (Who played Cheryl Han, George’s brief girlfriend in the Seinfeld episode “The Visa.”

The final short in the Disney special is “In the Bag” which of everything on this tape, broken down into their individual components (commercials notwithstanding) this is my favorite. It’s one of only two Humphrey Bear shorts ever made (though he appears in a few other pieces, like an episode of Rescue Rangers). It features a very catchy big band jazz tune of the same name (which even has scatting), don’t get me wrong this doesn’t mean I like that form of music, just this song. I would go into more detail about this cartoon, but you really should see it for yourself.

There’s a short PSA for RIF (Reading is Fundamental), a nationwide program trying to get kids to read. I hated the term “Fundamental” when I was a kid because I felt that it intentionally confused the idea of “fun” with the concept of absolute importance, obligation, and work. It took me a long time to learn how to read. You may find this surprising but I didn’t really start seriously reading until I was 18 (about the same time I started seriously writing).

There’s a great ABC station bump that shows a montage of clips from their prime time shows set to the tune of Yanni’s “Swept Away.” Now I didn’t know that was the name of the song (since it was an instrumental) until 2015. At that point my Dad gave me his iPhone 4, with which I downloaded Shazam, and while watching the tape (one of several viewings that year), found out the title and artist, after 27 years of watching it.

There’s a commercial for Wall to Wall Sound and Video, a chain which no longer exists. In the commercial, it actually had CD’s along with vinyl, tape, and VHS as part of the thousands of music and movies that they sold at the store. A former co-worker of mine’s father used to work at that store (which was later known as “The Wall”) as his first job out of college.

The very end of an episode of Wheel of Fortune is caught on the tape. They played their second version of the theme song (my favorite, which I actually woke up with stuck in my head on August 14th, remember I watched this tape as part of my Totally Awesome August 80’s Marathon this summer). Wheel of Fortune is still on, in their 35th season, and (I don’t even know how this is possible) but somehow Vanna White is even hotter now, Sayjak has noticeably aged, but he never looked all that young, to begin with.

If “In the Bag” is the best piece on the Tape, “A Muppets Family Christmas” is a close second. If you haven’t seen this special, you really need to. The quality of this tape varies from spot to spot, but this particular special seems to have the absolute best quality, sharp picture, etc. The premise is that Doc (Gerard Parkes, from Fraggle Rock, who would die at the ripe old age of 90 in 2014) and his dog Sprocket (a puppet), rent Grisly Farms (Fonzy’s mother’s house) for a nice quiet Christmas, while she is out surfing in California. That is until Fonzy and the rest of the Muppets show up for a massive family Christmas. Then the Sesame Street gang shows up, then Kermit and his nephew Robbin find a Fraggle Hole in the basement and make their way to Fraggle Rock (I actually watched the second season of Fraggle Rock back in September as part of my Mega DVD Marathon. How can you go wrong?

There’s a commercial for shredded wheat which features three flight attendants, stuck snowed in at the airport. One of theme microwaves the shredded wheat and says with a southern accent that how they eat it in Nome. Another says she didn’t know that she didn’t know she was from Alaska, to which the first replays “Not Nome Alaska, Nome Texas.” Yes, there is a Nome Texas, it’s near Beaumont.

Electric Mayhem, the Muppet’s band featuring Animal on the Drums, does a very lively rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock” and for my money, it’s the best version of the song. Interestingly, right around this time the second wave Norwegian black metal band “Mayhem” had recently released their more or less debut EP “Deathcrush” (The bands’ history is bizarre to say the very least, and their discography reflects this). Why not… I just put it on while editing this. The music is not for everyone, but I like it, and (thanks to my friend over at Oblivion’s Realm) I have it on a vinyl picture disk. It’s kind of a rough image for the cover of that album, but not even the roughest cover they have (there are actually 3 more disturbing album covers… but I’m not going to give links to them… okay, okay, if you really want to see what I’m talking about then search yourself for the album covers for: War and Sodomy, Ha Elm Zalag, and Dawn of the Black Hearts, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In stark contrast to the music, there’s a very cute commercial for a “toy” called Suddly Shower, which is a plastic elephant’s head to theoretically make showering fun for kids. The kid is lip-syncing the extremely difficult baritone aria “Largo al Factotum” from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville. You may not know the song by the name, but you know it, check out the link.

Going back in time in our magnetic tape time machine, in 1988 Lego had released a series of commercials under the “Zack the Lego Maniac” campaign. And there is one of these commercials on this tape. Surprisingly I didn’t get called “Zack the Lego Maniac” too much in my youth, my cousins used to refer to me more often as Zachariah Obadiah, thanks to a children series that was in vogue in the ’90s. then after 911 some of my friends used to call me another infamous Zach, but you can probably piece that name out for yourself… I had a sick group of friends. I usually get some small lego set for Christmas, this year I got a Lego advent calendar, which is the first time I’ve done an advent calendar in close to 20 years. And is awesome.

My wife and I have a stuffed Penguin that we treat as a strange cross between a friend, child, and pet. We get him Christmas presents every year (nothing too big, just cute things for him to play with, or more accurately pose for pictures with). My wife has wanted to get him a toy kitchen set, but the price (and concept) is just too high (and strange) for our intentions. I mention this only because there is a commercial for the Play sound Stove and Play Sound sink on the tape.

There is a short station bump for the TV Show “Moonlighting” starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd. This year Bruce Willis was the guest of honor at a Comedy Central Roast. There’s another short bump for “Thirty Something” a show that looked very unusual, but I know almost nothing about.

There is a commercial for another toy store, this one, Lionel Kiddy City. There was a Kiddy City at King of Prussia when I was a kid. I bought a bill and Ted action figure there, which I still have. The storefront has been changed to a tobacco store (of all things) which is still there.

There is a short bump for the (then new) TV show Roseanne. Interesting that I should pick this year to write this post. Rosanne came back on the air, briefly, this year, with all the old players and filmed before a live studio audience (you notice them cheer when certain big name actors come on). Then it was canceled because of an infamous tweet that Rosanne Bar made on Twitter. I fully admit that I watched the show when it returned, not because it was one of my favorite shows, but because it was very nostalgic to see it come back, and yes I’ve been watching the spinoff “The Conners” which they’ve used to continue it. It’s pretty good, Rosanne was my least favorite character on the show as it was, so her removal is not particularly disheartening.

There is a commercial for “Air Swatch” (watches made by Victorinox, who also makes Swiss army knives, both the knives and the watches are of the high quality associated with the Swiss). The commercial parodies a flight with announcements made by the head flight attendant, however, the on-screen action is that of a paraglider.

The best part of this episode is the carol scene near the end of the special. There are some great songs included, a lot of old English Christmas carols that you don’t ever year on the radio. Here’s the playlist: Happy holidays, Angles We Have Heard on High, Three Ships, Good King Wenceslas, Holly and Ivy, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Happy Holidays (again), Here We Are as in Olden Days, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Christmas Bells are Ringing, I Heard the Bells on Christmas day, It’s In Every One of Us, and ending with Together at Christmas.

If you recognize the playlist, that’s because we used it in MoonCandle’s seminal Drone Metal Christmas EP “A Very Heavy Holiday”. I really like the version of “It’s In Every one of Us” they do, much better than the actual version, which starts out peaceful and minimalist, but then goes into some bull shit R&B stylings that ruin the song. Good King Wenceslas and Three Ships are some of my favorite Christmas carols as well, and I’d like to write a pagan version of “Holly and Ivy”

There’s a cute commercial for Milkbone Dog biscuits, with a dog picking up a wrapped package and shaking it to see what it might be. We feed our dog Milkbones, along with many other higher-end designer treats… he’s very spoiled.

At the very end of the special, Santa clause shows up to distribute presents, and best of all, Jim Henson himself makes a small cameo and gets sprocket to help him wash the dishes.

Second DVD

There is a brief clip from a football game, I believe it is the Raiders vs. Seahawks Monday Night Football match on November 28th, 1988. In which the Seahawks won 35 to 27, but I don’t care about sports enough to give you any sort of play by play review. The score there is far more than I typically care about football.

The main feature is Mickey’s Christmas Carol, but it’s padded out (like the opening Disney special) with 2 other cartoons, and introduced by then Disney president Michael Eisner.

The first cartoon is Donald Duck’s “Donald’s Snowball Fight.” in which he takes on his three nephews in an all-out snowball war. Not really “Christmas” themed so much as it is a snow themed toon, but that’s just as good.

There’s a GE commercial with a very short but catchy jingle “GE is light, we’ll be there, we bring good things to life.” It’s nice not seeing the pain in the ass twisted compact fluorescent light bulbs.

There’s a commercial for Northwest Airlines advertising that they are the first airline to have all flights non-smoking. As one of the rare non-smoking pro-smokers, I don’t approve. However, I find the historical context of this interesting. It’s rare to find a public area you can actually smoke in (especially indoors) in this area anymore. This is followed by a bump for “The Hogan Family” about a kid who starts smoking and his brother who harasses him about it.

Close to the beginning of the second cartoon in this special, there is another short over recording. There’s a lot of static, however after years of looking at it I was finally able to make out what was attempted to be recorded, a short segment of Bob Ross’ “Joy of Painting” no clue as to what the painting is, you can barely make out his jewfro (no disrespect, that’s just what it is). The cartoon returns with Pluto chasing around Chip and Dale who were brought into Mickey’s house via the Christmas tree he just brought home.

There’s a commercial for FTD brass and blooms bouquet. FTD is still in business, but I can’t imagine seeing commercials for them.

There aren’t a whole lot of movie commercials on the tape, as you might have noticed at this point, I haven’t been omitting the trailers for them, as it is there’s very little I’ve omitted from this review. One of the movies though comes up now and it’s for the original Land Before Time (which has gone on to make 13 direct to video sequels, the last one being released as recently as 2016, and even had a semi-ubiquitous TV show). This commercial was spliced with a commercial for Pizza Hut which had rubber Land Before Time hand puppets to give away as part of a promotion.

There’s a bump for the TV show “Highway to Heaven” and there 100th episode, which in the commercial features a young, pre-Friends (by almost ten years), Matthew Perry.

Then we get to the main feature of the special. Let me tell you right off the bat, Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is my absolute favorite novella and Christmas Story ever, end of story, period. I read it every year on Christmas eve. I have a nice audiobook of it read by Jim Dale (the Harry Potter Narrator and one of the best voice actors of all time). I’ve seen probably a dozen different film versions of this classic tale: the Muppets, the more obscure Looney Tunes version, the Real Ghostbusters version (very interesting), and even the very strange Kelsey Grammer version that has a sequence of Scrooge going to a cold hell, which was not much unlike his life to begin with, but I digress.

The special starts out with a carol that I believe was written and recorded specifically for the special, but I could be wrong, I’ve never heard it anywhere else. Scrooge is of course played by Scrooge McDuck of Ducktales fame (voiced by Alan Young, who also voiced Scrooge in the Ducktales HD Remake (which was spot on) even though he was quite old at the time, and eventually died in 2016). I know I keep mentioning Actor’s deaths in this review… well it’s kind of important, because they live on in these VHS time machine and that is one of the reasons why I have an almost spiritual connection to these tapes (yes there are more tapes that will be receiving the same sort of treatment).

A stable of recognizable Disney characters portrays other characters from the classic novella. Scrooge is obvious of course, Mickey plays Bob Crotchet, Donald Duck plays Scrooges Nephew Fred, Goofy is Jacob Marley, Jiminy Cricket is the Ghost of Christmas Past, Daisy Duck is Scrooges fiance Isabelle. The portrayal of the relationship between Isebell and Scrooge is considerably different and much less nuanced in Mickey’s Christmas Carol (one of the few downfalls of this variation on “A Christmas Carol” although none of the other versions seem to get it right either). The Ghost of Christmas Present is played by Willy the Giant (from “Fun and Fancy Free”) his portrayal is also considerably different than the source material. Tiny Tim is not another mouse. And the Ghost of Christmas Future is played by the Disney’s stock antagonist Big Pete.

The end of the special is a bit of a tear (of joy) jerkier, even after watching it hundreds of times, in fact, probably more so after watching it so much. It ends slightly different than the novella, but with the same spirit. Scrooge goes to Crotchet’s house, with a bundle of toys and spends Christmas morning with his family. I could do a lengthy comparison between this special and the source material (maybe I’ll combine it with the Looney Tunes and Real Ghostbusters variations as well, maybe that will be something for next Christmas… maybe). The story does end with the same words “God bless us, everyone.”

there is a Sprite commercial with a kid and dog finding a snowman, and then giving him a can of Sprite which makes his charcoal mouth smile. There is an Oliver and Company tie-in promotion with McDonald’s, where you can get a plush Oliver or Dodger Christmas tree ornament. There’s a TV show bump for a special episode of Famly Ties (Michael J. Fox’s break out roll) where the father has a Heart Attack.

There’s a commercial for Levies that takes place in the desert with a man and his dog enjoying the scenery. This is one of the only postmodern commercials on the tape (an artistic direction in which most commercials seem to run these days). It’s a nice commercial, very minimalist, but I can’t find a copy of it on youtube… I did try though.

There’s a news bump for “Today” hosted by Brian Gumble talking about Secretary Gorbachev’s US Visit. Remember this was two years before the fall of communism, and the leader of the USSR visiting the USA was a major milestone in signaling the end of communism. There are still a few communist countries around (China, Vietnam, North Korea, Laos, and Cuba) but in 1988 there were 22.

One of the other movie commercials is done in a short infomercial about Oliver and Company, which is the last of the Disney Dark Age movies. I would consider it the first of the Disney Renaissance, but it’s really not well remembered, even though it should be. It’s a retelling of Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” and it has an all-star cast, with Cheech Marron, Ruth Pointer, Bet Midler, and the main character (Dodger) played by Billy Joel (at the height of his corer I might add), great music form both Joel and Hewy Lewis. Now I’ve never seen this movie, and I don’t think I could actually watch it to tell you the truth because it’s about animals, homeless animals, there’s no way I could get through it. But it seems awfully promising. Interestingly they do mention that they plan after Oliver and Company, to make a movie every year and mention that it’s equivalent to the output of the studio from the ’30s, which you can see in the Disney Renaissance (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Lion King, Et.al.).

There a commercial with Buzz the Bee (the Honey Nut Cheerios Mascot) trying to convince Scrooge that he might enjoy the cereal. There’s a station bump for the next Disney special which was slated to be the Disneyland All Stare Comedy Circus.

At the recording session switch, there are the credits for the Garfield Christmas Special (which I don’t think I’ve ever seen). And there’s a bump voiced by Lorenzo Music (the voice of Garfield) about library congress’ recommended books about Christmas. At this point, the overall quality of the video starts to deteriorate again. Some parts are better than others.

There’s a commercial for the Pat Sayjak show which was about to debut. It was a late night talk show that competed with David Letterman. That show, unlike Wheel of Fortune, only lasted for one season, but that one season was 298 episodes.

There’s a Hess Commercial with a catchy jingle. There are no more Hess gas stations left, however, Hess still sells and advertises their toy trucks. I don’t have any Hess Trucks but I do have a Sunoco truck.

There is an RC Cola commercial, in which you could get a free VHS of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” I already have the movie, but I’ve been looking for RC Cola for the last year or so. I had a conversation with a friend of mine where I explained to him that RC stood for Royal Canadian… apparently, it stands for Royal Crown, and he asked me why it would be “Royal Canadian” since Canada doesn’t have a king. I explained to him that the Queen of England is their head of state because they are part of the Commonwealth of Nations. He had never heard of that before and he didn’t believe me, so he looked it up on his phone and started shaking his head and said did he understand why I would know that.

The next (and kind of last) special on the tape is Will Vinton’s A Claymation Christmas Calibration. This won an Emmy when it was first shown in 1987. It features claymated music videos for a variety of Christmas carols. Between the songs are clips of the dinosaur hosts, and people who keep showing up with various mondegreen of the carol “Here We Come a Wassailing.” Will Vinton, as mentioned earlier, is the creator of the California Raisins and passed away earlier this year, another strange coincidence for having waited to do this post this year.

The first music video is we three kings which features the titular kings singing in the carol in the traditional fashion with their camels chiming in with more jazzy/R&B/soul sounds. I don’t like Jazz/R&B/Soul music in general, except where it works. This tape has several such pieces on it, both within and outside of this special, and they make up the bulk of the acceptations.

The following music video has Beethoven/Qazi Moto hybrid conducting the Carol of the Bells, with anthropomorphic bells hitting themselves to ring for the performance. One of the bells, “The Dumb Bell” (the low D) can’t get it right. I give bonus points to the special for mentioning that the carol of the bells was originally a pagan carol meant to ward off evil in the dark of winter, which if you listen closely it is a considerably dark sounding song and made for a damn good Trans-Siberian Orchestra Song, which wouldn’t be recorded for another 8 years after this tape was made.

There is a commercial for Ivory soap, showing people working out, working and getting dirty then taking refreshing showers, to another catchy jingle. “I want my clean as real as ivory.” I’m wondering to myself, why did they get rid of jingles? Jingles get stuck in your head, and as an advertiser, you want a product name and what not to get stuck in your head.

There’s a commercial for Domino’s, with the song “Jingle All the Way” being played on a touch-tone keypad. In the days between rotary dials and cell phones, the keypad on a phone made a certain tone when it was pressed, and you could actually play music using a phone back then. Actually, I just checked, cell phones, at least iPhone make the tone as well… that gives me an idea.

There’s a commercial for Isotoner Slippers, a Christmas staple for many years, and I just checked, apparently, they are still selling them. a few years ago I asked my wife for a cute pair of slippers for Christmas (not the easiest gift in the world since I am a size 14), she got me a pair of sleeping panda slippers, we had to hide them when we got our dog, but I still put them on for Christmas Eve.

Next up on the celebration is “Oh Christmas Tree,” but first the mondegreen is “Here we come a waddling” sung by geese. The music video has kids hanging ornaments on a tree. The camera zooms into one of the ornaments, a gingerbread house, to reveal gingerbread men dancing around their own Christmas tree, then it zooms in again to another ornament, this Santa’s workshop (complete with subtle industrial noises), then zooms again to Santa and Mrs. Claus sitting around there own tree, which then zooms into the star atop, and then out again to reveal the same star on the kid’s (from the opening) tree. It’s very well done, and as far as animation goes, probably my favorite segment of the special, as far as the visuals are concerned.

Then there’s an instrumental for “Angle’s We Have Heard on High,” with interpretive ice ballet performed by two fat walruses and a host of penguins, need I say more?

There’s a couple of bumps for a stop-motion special about the life of Santa Claus. It might be interesting but I’ve never seen. I may actually read the book it’s based on “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” by L. Frank Baum (who, of course, wrote “The Wizard of Oz”).

The next song on the celebration is “Joy to the World” and the mondegreen is “Waffleing” with a group of pigs trying to sell waffles. The variation of Joy to the World here is horrendous, it’s in a world/jazz/funk style that simultaneously takes itself too seriously while too liberally augmenting the source material. It’s also not really claymated but uses surreal imagery designed to imitate stained glass, which would be more interesting if not for the nearly intolerable rendition of Joy to the World. I’ve recently come across a punk song called “Oi to the World” which is far better, the original version is by the Vandals, and there was a cover soon thereafter by No Doubt, both of which I’d highly recommend. I’ve been sending a friend of mine Christmas themed punk songs for the 12 days of Christmas, and these two versions of “Oi to the World” were numbers 2 and 11 respectively.

The last official song in the special is “Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer” interpreted by (as it really had to be) the California Raisins, which is Will Vinton’s best-known creation, though apparently not well remembered. I mentioned the raisins to an 18-year-old the other day, and he had no idea what I was talking about.

Finally after the last song and glamour of elves (I had to look up the collective noun) shows up singing the song correctly, and all the other characters from the various songs join it as the special is wrapped up.

Following the Claymation Christmas Celebration there is the final recording session which is “The Ice Capades with Kurt Cameron” and since he is involved it is therefore unwatchable. When I transferred this tape over to DVD I added something else to the mix, to fill the DVD out.

The Raccoons and the Lost Star

This was a special that I had on tape from when I was overseas as well but on a different tape. The special is about a dog who accidentally crawls into a spaceship that looks like a WWI Biplane. And ends up on another planet that is trying to take over the earth. It’s very 80’s and very well done.

The best part of the whole episode is the scene in which Shaffer (the dog) crawls into the plain and the song “Calling You” starts playing, with probably the best music to animation ever made ever. The Raccoons were featured in a few other specials, they were at one time supposed to be the next big thing, but it didn’t quite work out for them.

This special has nothing to do with Christmas, but I felt it should be put on here. Also, there are no commercials with this one, so that’s about it.

Okay, so here’s the deal. I had the Tape transferred a second time, it had deteriorated a lot from the last time it was transferred (2010 I think). But I got it transferred because I wanted to have a digital copy of the Ice Capades with Kirt Cameron, even though I almost never watched it, and I still don’t, but I’m going to watch it, just for you. Okay, here we go…

Disk 3

The special starts out, slightly underway, with the California Raisins, or in this case, people dressed up in raisin costumes. I left that part in the first digital transfer, the next segment is what goes blank. And it’s also not that bad. It features an older couple “The Beedees” (not sure the spelling) ice dancing, but with various pratfalls along the way, first a light drops to the ice and the guy falls over it, then he has to fix his collar, then his suspenders fall off, and so on. After the segment Cameron interviews them and the woman says how the guy never practiced.

The next segment is the Carruthers, pairs ice skating silver medalists from the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. It’s interesting that the Olympic host country would dissolve less than a decade later, and also on the same tape, there is an over-recording of a news bump that covers that dissolution (mentioned earlier on in this review). I tried to Shazam the song they were dancing to but it didn’t work, which is too bad, because the song is quite good, very intense, very synthwave, although since this was the 80’s the genre didn’t exist then.

The first commercial in this segment is for Pringles, which shows hot scenes: beaches, surfers, top-down convertibles, women in bikini’s, et.al.; all set to the catchy “fever for the flavor of Pringles” jingle. Odd choice for the winter, but it works.

Then there’s a commercial for Chloraseptic (a little more appropriate) with a little girl complaining of a sore throat. Then there the Ivory soap commercial, the first repeat. There are a few repeat commercials on this disk, but not as many as you might think. This is followed by a Head & Shoulders commercial, with the catchphrase: “Head and Shoulder’s But you won’t have dandruff… exactly.”

There’s a station bump for a TV show that I don’t remember called “Incredible Sunday” which was apparently about very talented kids, I don’t know if that was the episode itself or the overall series. This is followed by another station bump for “Mission Impossible” the clip of the main actor lighting a match had been seen earlier in the tape.

Next on the special is Elizabeth Manly, don’t know who she is, and don’t really care. Just some more ice skating. I’m more interested in the commercials for this section anyway.

There’s a Commercial for Vicks 44, I don’t know if that’s still available, but it looked like a really strong cough syrup, but I can’t imagine it being any better then NyQuil and it’s dream inducing magic.

And then we have our first, and only, feminine hygiene product advertised, Always Plus. With a bunch of women talking about how it’s the “best thin maxi ever.” I’m not sure if the term “Maxi” is really used anymore, but those commercials are still one. Here’s a funny story for you. When I was in high school there was some anti-smoking spokesperson at an assembly who asked the kids to raise their hands if they had ever seen a smoking advertisement, which we all did of course. And this was her proof that they were advertising to kids. Afterword I asked a bunch of guy’s rhetorically if they had ever seen a tampon commercial, which we, of course, all had, and it destroyed her argument. QED.

There’s a station bump for Growing Pains, I remember the show, and enjoyed it quite a bit, it was before Cameron became intolerable, apparently, the family gets arrested for some reason, I don’t remember the episode, I don’t remember any specific episode except for the last one.

There are further station bumps for “Superman III” and “A View to a Kill.” Then there’s a Chrysler Plymouth year’s end clearance sale add. And then yet another medicine commercial, for Squibb Care products, some generic medicine. Interestingly, ten years later, the word Squibb would come to be known as a wizard born person who can not use magic, thanks to the Harry Potter series.

In the run-up to the next segment there is a comment about Hollywood stars that have been on ice, the first being Lillyan Gish in the movie “Way Down East.” this is true, Way Down East was an early silent movie, directed by the god of Hollywood himself, D.W. Griffith, and has the first waterfall rescue scene in a movie. It’s a little heavier and longer then the typical fare for the time, but it might be worth checking out, if your a fan of the silent era and have 2.5 hours to kill.

A red carpet is rolled out onto the ice with various “actors” walking down it. A Rolls Royce is brought out onto the ice, somehow, and some actress gets out to sing a sultry rendition of the Hollywood theme song. I don’t know who she is so don’t ask, Madonna would have been a far better choice. She introduces Sonja Henie, (a re-enactor) I had to look up the name. I like the spelling because I like all things Scandinavian, but the ice dancing is… just more of the same.

Then comes the reason I do not watch this special, and I had to fast forward through it, this time. There is a reenactment of Charlie Chaplin’s “The Little Tramp” in which he has a dog living with him on a park bench a dog he loves, a dog that is stolen from him. I didn’t like that when I was a kid, I didn’t like seeing homeless people then and I do not now, there is nothing funny about poverty. And separating a beloved owner and pet is even more unacceptable. The dog comes back in the end, but still. It’s the whole reason why I don’t watch this special, Kurt Cameron and his religious nonsense aside.

There’s an ice dancing segment of “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” and then a segment for Fred Estair and Ginger Rodgers… but again it’s ice dancing, not the kind of dancing that those two did. I have almost no interest in dancing as it is, but Fred and Ginger, that’s some impressive stuff, I don’t care who you are… the ice dancing less so. The Hollywood segment finally wraps up, after something I can’t quite make out.

There’s a diaper commercial that’s based on Adam and Eve. Cameron probably plugged that. Okay okay, if you don’t know why I don’t like Kurt Cameron, it’s because of this, I don’t like ultra-religious people, especially the overly judgmental ones. And the fact that he has had virtually no corer since he embraced the religious far right, I think it proves that there is no god, or if not proves it then at the very least is a healthy indicator that if there is a god, it’s not the one that Cameron warships.

There’s a commercial for Folgers Crystals, switching instant coffee with fresh brew stuff. Apparently, the people in the commercial can’t tell the difference. I like instant coffee, but the difference is easy enough to tell, the commercial is damned.

There is a station bump for New Years Rocking Eve 89 staring Dick Clark. Interestingly enough, Clark died in 2012, after having hosted New Year’s Eve for decades, and that was the year we were not supposed to have a new year at all, because of the Mayan prediction, turns out they were wrong, though I actually have mixed feeling about this, but that for possibly another post.

There’s a Katy Thomas segment. Don’t know who she is either. This is followed by a segment of “the Scarecrows” who were (maybe are) a troupe of comedic stunt ice skaters. They use a lot of water in their performance, which I can only imagine was very cold, so props to them for that at least.

There’s a commercial for Cascade that is set in the kitchen of a catering company when they notice that their glasses are not clean, and think its the end of their business. This is followed by another medicine commercial involving a guy who is waiting for cold medicine, and this medicine turns out to be… NyQuil (a good choice).

There is a more specific commercial for Thirty Something in which one of the character’s biological clock goes off, and she wants to have a baby. Luckily I’ve never had to deal with this myself, I don’t like kids and I want to stay child-free for life. This is followed by another bump for a pilot for a show called Heart Beat, which looks like a hospital drama that perhaps focuses on a maternity ward, they may have been talking about abortion in the bump too, I’m sure Cameron has some strong opinions on that as well.

The next segment of the Ice Capades is the Smurfs which is introduced by Allyce Beasely who is advertised from Moonlighting, however, I know her better as Coach’s daughter from Cheers (though she was only in one episode as far as I know). This is followed by a Smirf sequence. I was never all that into the Smurfs, so I didn’t care about it all that much. Allyce is apparently a fairly talented ice skater because she is part of the skit.

There’s a Pepto-bismal commercial with a guy running up and down the stairs. This is followed by a bump for “One Life to Live,” which has a Charley Chaplin reenactor. This is followed by a bump for 20/20 (a show that is still on) and they talk about the newly discovered concept of Winter Blues. I actually suffer from this a fair amount, strangely though I love the winter and the cold, it’s my favorite season, but sometimes I start to get… weird. More recently I found out I had a vitamin D deficiency, so I’ve been taking supplements and that’s seemed to improve things quite a bit.

There’s a commercial for Hellman’s. I love mayonnaise, but my favorite is spicy Chinese mayo, which comes in a squeeze bottle, and I use whenever I need mayo on something, which is probably more often then it should be. Also, the commercial is for Hellman’s Light, I wouldn’t eat that stuff anyway.

There’s a bump for action news, which cuts out halfway through, and that’s the end of the tape, the very end, and the end of my direct connection to the 1980s and my time machine. Looking back, have I changed my mind after having watched the Ice Capades all the way through (or as all the way through as I can) for the first time in at least 20 years? … No, no I have not changed my mind. I really don’t care a whole lot about ice skating.

But I do care an awful lot about this tape, about this little time capsule of 1988. and I hope my love for this tape has come through in my writing, I certainly tried to show it. There are a few other tapes in my collection, that I will be giving the same treatment too if people seem to have found this one interesting. I know this is long, and I’m glad you’ve read it to the very end, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip into the 80s, as much as I enjoy going back to it, year after year.

Merry Christmas Everyone.