Saturday, December 31, 2016


Happy New Year from Jason at Atari Days! I hope you got to hang out with all your favorite monsters today. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Friday, December 30, 2016


I had such a fun meeting today with a friend who shares a lot of interests in music, film, and culture. We chatted quite a bit about Prog Rock and I was reminded of this song, "Elephant Talk", by King Crimson. It was the first track on the album, Discipline (1981), which featured a new group lineup with Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and Bill Bruford. My college sweetheart and her brother introduced me to many great bands, including Crimson and the solo work of Fripp and Eno. When I heard Discipline, I was completely taken with Belew's vocals and Levin's stick patterns. And similar to the lyrics of Talking Heads songs at that time, I was really interested in "Elephant Talk" for its sociological examination of language and ideas. I never got to see King Crimson, but here's a really cool video of them performing "Elephant Talk" on the show, Fridays, December 4th, 1981. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 29, 2016


George S. Irving passed away on Dec 26th at the age of 94. Irving was an Tony award-winning stage actor with a prolific career on early television and in major stage shows like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Can-Can, Bells Are Ringing, Me And My Girl, and opposite Linda Rondtsadt in Pirates of Penzance. He also performed alongside Debbie Reynolds and her daughter, Carrie Fisher, in Irene (1973). So sad now to think that all three would pass away within three consecutive days. For folks my age, Irving is probably best remembered as the narrator to the 1960s Underdog cartoon series and as the voice of Heat Miser in The Year Without A Santa Clause (1974) and A Miser Brothers’ Christmas (2008). See below for his iconic Heat Miser song.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


In the wake of the news of Carrie Fisher's passing, we also lost Richard Adams today. Adams is best known for his classic children's book, Watership Down, published in 1972 (his first novel!). Readers might also remember the 1978 animated film version starring John Hurt. Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher, David Bowie, Prince, Ken Adam, Gene Wilder... It's like 2016 is trying to take the magic out of the world. Be strong, friends. We can't give in to the Dark Side. 


Carrie Fisher 1956-2016. No words, except a defiant fist toward the year 2016, which took David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Prince, and so many others. Their Force will be with us. Always. Will will miss Carrie's great wit and spirit. Check out her latest book, The Princess Diarist. She taught young girls they can lead rebellions, be generals, be grounded in the light, and that don't need to be perfect. The world needs her kind of role model more than ever right now. 

Monday, December 26, 2016


It's been a typical holiday in many ways. As a teacher I inevitably spend the vacations fighting a cold and ruing those days I chose not to wear a hazmat suit to classes filled with sneezing (but wonderful) kids. Last year I had pneumonia for the first time and it seems I've been extra vulnerable to whatever is going around ever since. Despite this, I did enjoy the Christmas weekend. I sadly missed some get-togethers with pals, but I enjoyed some solo time playing my guitar and watching the new Netflix cartoon, Trollhunters (starring recently deceased Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin). But what about, you know, actual Holiday traditions? I've been thinking about this a lot lately. My first wife and I really had fun hosting the holidays for my family and getting everyone to share their talents. We'd decorate and have people bring food, instruments, and songs to sing. It was a time in my life when I was pretty good at celebrating. After that marriage ended, I realize I got out of the habit of celebrating holidays all together. And now being so far away from my family on the east coast (and losing our matriarch some years back) the traditions have slipped even further away. But that brings me to A Christmas Story. My ex and used to love watching this movie. I even named one of my blues bands back then Triple Dog Dare after a famous line. The film was right up there with the original Star Wars films and played a big part in our annual rituals. The movie was a like a Rocky Horror experience, complete with interactive dialog. I can still hear my ex's hilarious commentary when I think of various scenes. But when I let the holidays drift away with the other memories, I also forgot all about A Christmas Story. I guess I assumed it would be too hard to watch without her. But I saw the steelbook edition last week at Best Buy and decided to bring the movie back into my life. After all these years, I figured it's far too sweet and funny to let it stayed buried with the past. And yet, I still hadn't plucked up the nerve to crack the seal on the blu-ray. I was also keeping up with Wil Wheaton's blog over the weekend. Wil is probably best known for his roles in Star Trek: Next Gen and Stand By Me, and for Big Bang Theory. But he's gone on to publish a number of fantastic memoirs, and he keeps us all updated on what's happening on his radar through his site and Twitter. I love Wil's writing because he's honest and he tends to talk about both geeky topics I care about and about universally human experiences  I really recommend the audio edition of Just a Geek, by the way! It turns out that Wil auditioned for the lead in A Christmas Story. And although it's slightly bitter-sweet in terms of missed opportunities, he also has an undying love for how the movie turned out with actor Peter Billingsly. Wil also shared some astute observations about how it's often the little movies nobody wanted to support that become the timeless classics. Hey, maybe I'll get my Nicholl Fellowship-placed Bonsai film made someday! Anyway, reading about Wil's love for A Christmas Story has given me the additional courage needed to open my copy and bring the film back into my life. It was like getting a "triple dog dare" from the universe. Maybe I'll even get good at celebrating again. I do hope so! Read more over at Wil Wheaton. Enjoy! 

Friday, December 23, 2016


The band Yello has announced live dates in Europe for winter 2017. These guys don't perform much at all, so try to see them if you are in the area. Although I remembered their song Oh Yeah from Ferris Beuller's Day Off, it wasn't until my pal Alan played their many CDs last summer that I got to understand what these guys are about- catchy rhythms, quirky playfulness, and beautifully produced recordings. Tour info here. More about the band at the Yello website. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Kraftwerk has announced some 2017 concert dates on their website. Heads up to fans in the UK! Shows kick off in Ireland on June 2nd and finish up at London's Royal Albert Hall on June 23rd. I hope to catch one of the London gigs. They may be sold out already? More info at Kraftwerk

Sunday, December 18, 2016


Happy Holidays from Jason at Atari Days! I enjoyed celebrating Christmas as a kid. Although I had an unconventional home life, everyone always made an effort to support my curiosity and current passions. When I got older, my aunt and I enjoyed setting up a tree and having my young cousins stay over to decorate and to watch cartoons. And then my first wife and I really had fun hosting the holidays for my family and getting everyone to share their talents. After that relationship ended, I realize that I got out of the habit of celebrating holidays in general. Christmas starts to look a bit strange when you're away from the holiday rush, so I created these cards back in 2014 to celebrate the season with a healthy balance of vintage charm and de-evolotion commentary. We're all DEVO! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 15, 2016


Adapted from Go Nagai's super-robot manga, Mazinger Z blasted onto television screens in 1972 to battle the evil forces of Dr. Hell. The original series lasted two years, but Mazinger continues to spawn sequels today! Even though I was a fan of first-wave anime like Astro Boy and Gigantor, it wasn't until I read Ernie Cline's Ready Player One that the floodgates opened and put other giant robot heroes (and many other treasures from 70s/80s pop culture) on my radar. Below: Anime opening and various cool images from Mazinger manga. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


I have a message from the great folks at Book People in Austin: "Looking for a SIGNED copy of ARMADA or READY PLAYER ONE for the perfect geeky holiday gift? Austin's own BookPeople has got you covered!!" I love this image of Ernie in front of that huge collection of his books. I've ordered from Book People and they are wonderful- quick and secure shipping and they offer quite a few signed editions. Buy extras for your friends! More info at Book People and the Ernest Cline website.


New release: Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound. My history with gaming is probably a bit unusual. I was twelve when the Atari 2600 came out and I'll never forget when I first spotted that woodgrain console on display in a local department store. My dad and I had just moved away from our roots on the east coast- in the middle of the school year (again)- and I found myself suddenly isolated on the rainy streets of Washington's Olympic peninsula. The Atari fascinated me. I loved the look of the graphics, which were totally cutting edge at the time. My imagination was ignited by Berzerker killer robots and WWI biplane dogfights. And I loved the sound! Those beeps and burbles were the soundtrack to a new era. We never got the game system, by the way. We were so poor, we relied on my dad to gather food as a scuba diver. Yes, we ate amazing fresh seafood and salads everyday, but no Atari. I then went off to boarding school, college, and eventually moved to Japan. My interest in music deepened over the years as both a musician and a collector. My tastes were diverse, but there was an attraction to avant-garde experimentation and electronics, especially in the days of Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra. I eventually did win a remix competition for Yoko Ono. I think those early Atari sounds had something to do with the development of my internal cultural landscape. Now we can all revisit that era of innovation and learn about video game design development through this cool new film: Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound. Continues below.

From Amazon: "No longer just the 'ugly stepchild' of the games industry, Beep traces the history of game sound from the Victorian penny arcades through pinball and to today's massive industry of soundtracks and live music. With clips from over 80 interviews with game composers, sound designers, voice actors and audio directors from around the world, Beep is the definitive documentary on game sound. This Blu-Ray features a full, extended director's cut of Beep -- 1 hour and 52 minutes! -- plus it contains three specials, totalling nearly 1.5 hours, including 'Beep: Big in Japan,' 'How to get into game audio' and 'Ryu Umemoto Tribute.' Blu-ray and DVD editions available on Amazon here. There is also a Kindle book, Beep: Documenting the History of Game Sound. From Amazon: The Beep Book is transcripts of interviews with over 100 game audio professionals from a range of areas of game sound's history. The majority of the interviews were conducted as part of the Beep documentary film project by director and author Karen Collins. These are supplemented by interviews done for Video Game Music Online by Chris Greening. The book is 410,000 words in length- a huge volume of material spanning decades of video game and pinball audio history. Interviews include artists such as Marty O'Donnell (Halo), George "The Fat Man" Sanger (7th Guest), Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy), Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts), and many, many more. The interviews aim to explore the changing nature of game audio over time. Interviews are with people from all over the world, including Japan, USA, Canada & Europe, and took place from October 2014 to July 2016. They cover a range of expertise and experience levels, and include composers, sound designers, voice actors and directors, record labels, conductor, orchestrators, chip musicians, hardware and software creators, and more. If you're at all interested in game sound, or its history, we think you'll find something of interest here. Many of the interviews have been or will be released as video content on our website, so feel free to preview some of them. Having them in a single book form means you've got them all in one place in a searchable, quotable format. If you've seen our Kickstarter campaign, you've seen the print books as two separate volumes. The e-book combines those two books into one easily searchable document." Learn more about this neat project: Beep movie website, interview with director Karen Collins. Enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2016


Michael Palin of Monty Python has just released a new collection of limericks! This hardcover edition collects both old and new pieces, along with whimsical illustrations by Tony Ross. Michael  responded to a request for audio books by posting his own video-reading of some of the poems. You can order the new book at a great price (and have it signed!) over at the Michael Palin website. And if you are in London in February, check out the live roundhouse event with Michael Palin and Terry Gilliam. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 10, 2016


Star Trek was in heavy syndication when I was a kid and I loved catching those crazy outer space missions on channel 11 out of NYC. Like many others, I was captivated by the dynamic (and diverse) cast, the special effects and music. And as an adult, I love the incredible sense of style and design that rooted the series in the era, yet also seemed to define our best vision of the future. Fans like me are eagerly awaiting the release of the Roddenberry Vault on Dec 13th. Check out this preview below. It's cool to see we'll finally get an official release of behind-the-scenes stuff, outtakes, bloopers, interviews, etc from the original series. More info at Amazon. Enjoy!

Friday, December 9, 2016


As a kid moving into my teens in the late 1970s, one of the last action figures I ever had was a Micronaut "Time Traveler". Micronauts were produced by Mego between 1976-1980 and were inspired by a 1974 Japanese toy range. I remember being completely fascinated by the transparent, sleek designs, but had no idea my blue figure was part of a larger, customizable universe. As this vintage ad illustrates, inventive kids faced with the whole range could create their own characters and vehicles, which were magnetic and interchangeable! The line inspired a popular Marvel comic series (1979-1986), as well as later projects with other comic publishers (including IDW). A film adaptation seems to be in the works that will bring together a number of toy-to-comic franchises including Micronauts, G.I Joe, and Rom Space Knight! And Hasbro apparently released a limited-edition set of classic Micronaut toys this year. But the real charm was in the original toy line, which challenged young minds to create their own futuristic societies and populations. Move over Habitrail! I like to imagine young fans of Logan's Run and Tron designing intricate, Micronaut worlds. More info at the Mego Museum, Innerspace Online, and That Figures. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2016


The glorious new Blu-ray edition of Transformers: The Movie -the animated classic featuring Orson Welles, Eric Idle, Peter Cullen, and some great 1980s rock- is currently on sale! You can pick up the steelbook Blu-ray right now on Amazon for only $19.99. The hi-def transfer is really gorgeous. I'm seeing details in the artwork I've never noticed before. Thank you, Shout Factory! From the press release: "In Stunning High Definition, From A Brand-New 4K Transfer! The year is 2005… For millennia, the heroic Autobots, led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), have been at war with the evil Megatron (Frank Welker) and his Decepticons over control of their home planet of Cybertron. However, an even greater threat: Unicron (Orson Welles, Citizen Kane), a colossal converting planet that devours everything in its path and is heading right for Cybertron. The only hope is the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Will the Autobots be able to save themselves and their home world in time? An all-star cast, including Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club), Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), Eric Idle (the Monty Python films) and Robert Stack (The Untouchables), brings this inimitable, explosively entertaining Autobot adventure to life. Includes Both Widescreen (1.85:1) And Full Frame (1.33:1) Versions!" More details at Amazon. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 4, 2016


Weekend mornings were made for cartoons! Go behind the scenes in one of the most successful shows ever produced- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. It's fun to hear the creators talk about influences from popular sci-fi films and television shows, and how they put the MOTU universe together. The design sense and painted backgrounds in the series were so beautiful. Although Filmation was famous for limited animation, don't sell the series short. Some of talent behind the series included Bruce Timm and Paul Dini (Batman The Animated Series). He-Man has also inspired decades of cool fan art- check out this epic image by Deimos below. Learn more at the He-man website. You can also check out recent books: Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, He-Man and She-Ra: Complete Guide. Enjoy!

Friday, December 2, 2016


If the Netflix original series Stranger Things jump-started your curiosity about 1980s pop culture, you might enjoy Explorers (1985). Produced as a fun kid's sci-fi adventure with effect by ILM, it was directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins) and starred River Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, and Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager). Like its cinematic cousins Stranger Things and The Goonies, Explorers follows a band of young misfit boys who trade their routine of escaping bullies and biking around town to see their greatest fantasies come true. We even get to see some early computer graphics and technology! Trailer below. Enjoy!