Zach, the Lego Maniac!

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I LOVED Legos as a kid.  Who didn’t?  They were colorful, expansive, and you could create anything!  I always wondered if Simpsons creator Matt Groening got the idea for yellow faced people from all those lego characters…Anyway, remember Zach the Lego Maniac???  This kid was out of control!  He knew how to make his legos, and he even had his own catchy theme song…that is, until he got fired.  I wonder why Jack the Lego Maniac came on the scene…did Zach’s ego get out of control?  Did he demand too much money in his contract renewal?  Did he choke to death on a lego?  We’ll never know…unless someone wikipedias it…Enjoy these classic Zach (and Jack) the Legomaniac commercials, and never keep stacking those little Danish bricks kids.

VIDEO # 1- In which we are introduced to Zach and his amazing sunglasses, his lego collection, and his neon light sign that spells out his name…Certainly in the top 5 of 80s kids rooms.

VIDEO # 2- Zach’s back with greater ambitions.  He’s building microchips and cosmic ships set to conquer outer space.  But clearly Zach was growing crazy, check out his insano eyes at the 15 second mark…Apparently Zach would just become another victem of space madness.  RIP Zach.

VIDEO #3- OK, so Zach went nuts, and possibly died…no problem, lots of kids names rhyme with maniac…uhhh…Mack, Tack, Rack, Black….no…oh yea…JACK!  Jack’s taken over Zach’s gig, but not his cool room.  Jack apparently lives in an orphanage, doing his best to bring his orphaned buddies good times with his amazing LEGO pirate set.  Sadly, Jack was never adopted.

Top Ten Super Mario Power-Ups

mario powerups

Mario is a short pudgy weakling.  He runs around the Mushroom Kingdom completely vulnerable to all the enemies rushing to kill him.  The only advantage he has is his shoes.  Apparently his shoes are spiked with needles laced with cyanide, and can murder any foe who doesn’t have a spike sticking out of their head.  Now, in a world as dangerous as the Mushroom Kingdom, it would be awfully pointless for Mario to try and survive if he didn’t have a little help.  Lucky for him, there are many magical power-ups to be found to protect Mario’s fragile mortality.  So without further ado, here are the top ten Power-Ups to be found in the world of Mario.

mario_mushroom#10- The Magic Mushroom- Its the first power-up Mario ever encounters, (not counting the hammer in Donkey Kong).  The mushroom makes Mario twice his normal size, and also able to withstand a violent attack without dying.  When I was a kid, I always thought the Mushroom made Mario his normal adult self, as if his small pudgy starting point was the effect of some kind of Koopa Kurse or something.  But the reality is, the small Mario is the real Mario.  Assuming Mario has normal human height of about 5 foot 8 inches, the mushroom makes him over ten feet tall!  That in turn makes you realize that these goombas and koopa troopers are the size of regular people…scary!  The reason this mushroom is ranked low on the list is because despite its usefulness, its the most plentiful power-up, and therefore the most boring to encounter. (more…)

The Golden Age of CD Technology!

Filed under: Blog,Willie Simpson — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Willie Simpson @ 4:00 pm September 5, 2010

When I was growing up, one of my earliest memories was my parents bringing home a huge new stereo from Sony in 1989 that had a magical boxy CD player.  Today, CDs are cheap, hold low amounts of data, and are generally outdated since the advent of DVDs, Blu-Rays, and iPods.  But back then, CDs and their players were expensive, futuristic, and had that incredible rainbow glow.  Its hard to explain the awe we all felt in the golden age of CD technology, but luckily youtube has captured said awe via old technology commercials that glamorized these futuristic discs and devices…ENJOY…

VIDEO 1, Pioneer’s Incredible 6 disc CD changer.  This video is incredible.  Not only will Pioneer’s 6 disc system play your musical fantasies forever, you’ll be able to dance on neon lit pools of water with futuristic space witches!

VIDEO #2, The king of CD technology was obviously Sony, and their ads displayed the joy, spirit of community, and love that the power of CDs could bring.  Here is an especially cheesy ad that reminds us that, “Nothing captures the power of music, like a CD, and nothing unleashes it, like a Sony.”

VIDEO #3, Did you know that Hitachi’s laser bay system challenged you from distinguishing live music from recorded music in your own living room?  I can’t tell you how many times I’d wake up to the sound of music in my house and think that Pearl Jam was downstairs visiting my home, only to discover my older sister was just playing one of their CDs.   Also, the idea of having a laser bay somewhere in your home was awesome.

VIDEO #4, Of course you can’t talk about CDs, without talking about their super cousins, the CD-ROM.  CD-ROM’s finally let computers play awesome music, games, and videos.  Check out Gateway’s incredibly strange video where the world’s greatest dad bestows upon his daughter a standard rig at a budget price.  The best part comes when the girl asks the dad, “But what are you gonna use daddy?”  Of course dad then proceeds to wordlessly strut through his magical neon pink lit room filled with the most awesome gear available.

Wendy’s Training Videos

Filed under: Blog,Willie Simpson — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Willie Simpson @ 8:08 am August 27, 2010

Wendy’s rules.  When it comes to fast food, I always opt for Wendy’s if I can.  The square hamburgers, the fresh buns, the crispy nuggets, the hot chili on a cold winter day…nothing beats Wendy’s.  The real question is, how?   How is Wendy’s so good and fresh tasting when all other fast food places taste artificial and bland?  I always thought it was Wendy herself, tirelessly experimenting with flavors and secret grilling methods…it turns out the REAL answer is Wendy’s excellent training videos that transforms regular employees into rock stars!  Little known fact, Wendy’s co founder Dave Thomas wrote and produced all of these songs, and that’s no lie Jack!

VIDEO # 1, Hot Drinks, where we learn the serious difference between brewing regular and de-caf coffee…

VIDEO #2- Cold Drinks, a groundbreaking rap song exploring the difficulties of controlling foam in the auto soft drink machines.

VIDEO # 3- Got to Serve the Drinks, ok, people, you’re just not getting it!  I thought the first two videos taught you everything about serving drinks, but I was wrong, and for the LOVE OF GOD, DON’T FORGET THE CHILI BOWLS!

VIDEO # 4, Chili can be served with cheese, frostys come in four sizes, don’t serve expired milk, and cookies should never be broken!

Laser Background School Photos

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ken @ 2:04 pm August 18, 2010

If you ever need a reminder of what makes 90s kids the coolest kids of all time, remember this: laser background school photos.

With that blue and pink web of light in the background, these were more than just school photos- these were cool photos. And in 1991, you needed them.

Laser Background School Photo

Laser Background School Photo

Laser Background School PhotoLaser Background School Photo

laser6Laser Background School Photo

laser5Laser Background School PhotoFor more laser background excellence, check out We Have Lasers!!!!!!!!!, a daily blog where you can submit your laser background school photos!

Mr. Rogers Plays Donkey Kong

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , — Ken @ 3:15 pm August 3, 2010

In this odd clip from an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Mr. Rogers visits a little boy in an arcade and gets the low-down on Donkey Kong.

90s Alternative Rock

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There was no decade quite like the 90s. Politically, economically, whatever. But nowhere was this more evident than in the music that was made during those years. In all genres, new styles rapidly emerged and evolved. Of it all, there was one genre that meant more to me than any of the others. I’m talking, of course, about rock music.

Growing up in New Jersey as a white, middle-class male, I easily identified with the ethos of rock. The rebellion, the angst, the idealism- born out of the 50s, these sentiments were still alive in the 90s, finding its form in newer and noisier ways. The stylings of 90s rock were wide ranged- grunge, britpop, pop punk, indie, rap rock- some were good, some were bad, some were forgotten to adulthood. Yet even though our tastes evolve after adolescence, the appeal of nostalgia can just be too hard to igore.

I’m calling this series “Rock By The 90s”. Each week, I plan to post a new article on a different subgenre of 90s rock, and the specific bands and songs that characterized each movement. By the end, I hope to have extensively recounted all things 90s rock.

But first, to tell the FULL story of 90s rock, we need to go back a little bit further in time. I’m talking ALL the way back…to…

The late 80s.

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GLAM METAL

As the 80s came to a close, MTV had already begun to suck. No, not as badly as today- for one thing, they still played videos- but videos primarily of hair bands. Yup, in the late 80s, hair metal was the king of rock. And with it, an all-pervading, image conscious commercialism had become the status quo. Bands such as Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Poison murdered our ears with sonic monstrosities, and burned our eyeballs with their high maintenance hair and flamboyant outfits.

But as the decade of the 90s began, glam metal started to be seen as excessive, both in its power ballads and its volumized hair, and the genre began to fall in to decline. Maybe the biggest indictment of this music was a scene from the documentary, ”The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years”, involving the guitarist from the band W.A.S.P., as he excessively abuses alcohol. (more…)

8-Bit City Maps

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ken @ 2:17 pm July 8, 2010

8 bit nycBrett Camper, a Brooklyn-based designer, has made THE greatest advancement in cartography since the dawn of mankind.

Camper has created fully functional, zoomable, 8-bit city maps in the style of the original “Legend of Zelda” video game.

The maps are entirely integrated with real world data, and you can conduct an address search just as you would on Google Maps.

On the surface, these maps may simply seem charming, but exploring the zoomable feature reveals the intricate work that was put into each and every city block. Searching through my Brooklyn neighborhood, I felt transported back to the Dutch settlements of 1600s Breukelen, where whimsical paths and brick roads replace concrete highways, and rows of crops supplant rows of houses- er…pixelated paths and crops that is.

Be sure to explore the maps! What do you think- should we stop using regular Google Maps altogether?

iPod Ad From 1977?

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ken @ 1:36 pm June 25, 2010

What would you do if you could go back in time? Would you scare everyone with dark premonitions of the future, like an all-powerful space shaman? Or would you do something financially profitable, like selling iPods and cellphones to a culture where they didn’t exist yet, effectively making trillions of euro-dollars?

Well, you’re free to try out option A, but option B would be the cooler of the two. Especially since a Bay-area designer recently made 70s advertisements that retrofit modern technology with the past.

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Classic Nickelodeon Commercials

Filed under: Blog — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ken @ 7:05 pm May 13, 2010

3139114848_75120cd426_oIt’s easy to forgot how amazing Nickelodeon actually was until you rediscover the details that colored it in. Do you remember these 15 second bumpers? I probably saw these- oh, I don’t know- at least once during EVERY commercial break throughout the history of me watching Nickelodeon.

As I watched these again, I thought, it’s amazing how strongly these things were encoded into my kid-memory bank. I wonder how many times my little Ken brain actually absorbed these things. 150 times each? Easily. 300 might also be a good guesstimate. 500 perhaps?  Who knows. But even though 15+ years have passed, I can still remember each of these with the clairvoyance of a psychic. Watch, and see how well you can remember them.

1. THE LOCKERS

This one has a cool, simple direction. As the camera pans across a school hallway filled with kids, we slowly see the Nick logo painted on a wall of lockers. But wait- here comes one last, little pip-squeak to slam his locker shut, and the logo lights up brilliant Nick orange. Sweet. Nickelodeon did an exceptional job of branding in those days.

 

2. THE GYMNIST

The intensity. The grace. The drama. When you saw this bumper, you wondered what the hell you were watching. But then she sticks the landing and leaves a magical orange footprint on the mat. Now it makes sense- Nickelodeon rules.

3. STREET THEATER

Get ready to get funky fresh with this one. I know I did the 400 times I saw it growing up. I almost signed up for a dance class one time, but my Dad stopped me. Check the comments section on the YouTube page- the composer of the song actually left a message!

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