Ralph Reese is a brilliant illustrator whose art I first discovered in Choose Your Own Adventure books; he was my personal favorite. His work leapt off the page more than the others, owing to his apprenticeship under the great Wally Wood. In my teens, I found reprints of Ralph’s collaboration with Byron Preiss for National Lampoon, “One Year Affair”. I dreamed of being able to draw like Ralph Reese.
When Ralph did a feature in CRAZY magazine, it was a cause for celebration. Because Ralph wasn’t just a master illustrator.
Ralph was also a master of making you crap your pants.
In the early 1980s, video games were simple in concept, much like the “game apps” on phones nowadays. At heart, they were demonstrations of your skills with a joystick, paddle, or “track-ball” controller, performing one or more challenges. Eating all the dots, or climbing a scaffold to defeat a giant ape, to cite a couple of well-known examples. Navigating a maze while being pursued by killer robots. Killing a centipede, segment by segment. Swinging on vines over bottomless pits.
Yea, I say unto you, I was in the right place at the right time for two major moments in American history. You must believe that what I’m about to tell you is the truth; it will seem like so much legend and myth.
The first: I was gifted a copy of E.T. (the game) for the Atari 2600, on Christmas, but that is a tale for another article.
I HAD TO PRETEND I ENJOYED THIS.
The second, and more significant: I talked my father into buying me Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, one of the most notoriously disappointing games of all time. Second only to E.T.,of course.
How come so few folks know about The Freeze? Punk rock band, formed in Cape Cod, 1978? Come on, the lead singer called himself Cliff Hanger! (“Rob Decradle” played guitar!)
It’s a shame they’re so obscure, but on the other hand, it works to their advantage in these times of prefabricated rebellion. They made fantastic, inspired punk rock, and they came from Cape Cod! Of all places!
Everyone loves a gingerbread house. Even South Park’s hate campaign against the “ginger” couldn’t dull the sugary luster of the beloved cookie-built domicile. You probably remember the first time you saw one, right? Or the first time you smelled one?
How to make me put a ring on it*, chapter one. (*the robot.)
Sometime in the late 1970s, at my local church, I spied and smelled a real, elaborate gingerbread house for the first time. It was during an Advent festival, with apple-cheeked residents of my snowy hometown selling pinecone ornaments and weaving fragrant holiday wreaths budded with hollyberry. Someone had knocked themselves out on the centerpiece, a resplendent dwelling of gingerbread with all the confectionery trimmings, the kind that lured the likes of Hansel and Gretel to their near-doom.
In the 1982 science-fiction fantasy TRON, there comes a moment inside the computer world where the protagonists are imperiled by “gridbugs”.
Clearly a threat.
The danger is underlined by dialogue spoken by Cindy Morgan, as the shapely input/output program Yori:
“This isn’t going to be easy. If those gridbugs get us, we’ve had it.”
The gridbugs in question get a ten-second interlude, complete with a unique and rather corny soundtrack cue, and then go on to never affect anything or even be mentioned in passing again. Continue reading →
When crafting a fictional universe, where does one begin? The introductory story, the characters, or the world itself?
From the back cover
Today, the general process involves cribbing from whatever made the most money previously, and changing just enough to keep from getting called a plagiarist. Actually, that’s not completely true; your average latter-day Hollywood mogul couldn’t care less about charges of appropriation. Cash comes first, imagination and progress later.
I have been a DEVO fan- a “DEVOtee”, if you will- for a very long time. 35 years ago, I was witnessing the video for “Whip It” for the first time, on the brand-new cable channel MTV. I knew a lot of spoiled kids.
When a good time turns around.
It’s not one of my favorite DEVO singles, but I appreciate its historical importance. Even today, it sounds truly weird. However, it came to be so closely linked with DEVO and their visual style, eventually it was the only song anyone brought up. Continue reading →