This Is The Way – Bonus Episode

Friends, we have a very special episode for all three of the podcasts, a bonus episode as it were, that is meant to act as not only my official announcement but explanation for why I am retiring. I hope you will understand that for the past 12 years that I have been fortunate enough to be considered a blogger, writer, and podcaster…I have realized recently that I am very tired. I need more however than just a break or vacation from writing daily articles and producing podcasts – I truly need to step away from the laptop and microphone – it is the appropriate time to look back at what I, as well as my fellow Pop Culture Retrorama colleagues have accomplished.

As I state on the podcast itself, I am very proud of what Allison Venezio-Preston, Ashley Thomas, Rockford Jay, Earl Green, Brett Weiss, IseeRobots, Javier Ojst, Rob O’Hara, and Gary Burton have accomplished with this site. And while I will soon shutter the Pop Culture Retrorama site and step away from writing in general, I am extremely happy to announce that Earl Green has generously offered to host not only the content on this site – but any future articles that the Pop Culture Retrorama colleagues might decide to write – on theLogBook.com. So, while I am slipping into the shadows, Pop Culture Retrorama will most assuredly live on.

I do hope that those of you who have been so kind as to visit this page, or even remember my work on the Retroist, understand that I did not come to the decision to retire lightly. Having said that, it feels like this is right path to take, thanks in no small part to my new career.

Many thanks to all of you. You have made something that I originally tackled as a hobby feel far more important, giving me a desire to write over 6000 articles and produce over 300 podcasts in the past 11 -12 years. I am grateful for your time and support, but more importantly your friendship.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

Feel free to keep in touch with me on Facebook or even Twitter. Or perhaps check out the Saturday Frights Facebook Page, and Diary of an Arcade Employee!

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Phosphor Dot Fossils: Warp Warp (1981)

Friends, Warp Warp is an arcade title that I literally didn’t know existed until it was rolled into the arcade about six years ago. And while it was released to arcades in North America by Rock-Ola, it was in actually developed by the legendary Namco. In fact I singled out Warp Warp as one of the early episodes of the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast, a show that at the moment holds the record for being the shortest I’ve ever produced for that series. As at the time of recording the episode I was unable to find out really any information on those responsible for creating the arcade game.

When I first started playing Warp Warp I was quite amazed by its seemingly simple gameplay, although like many of the golden age arcade titles there is a beguiling amount of strategy needed to play it well. What I was not aware of when I was first introduced to the game was that my fellow PCR author, the esteemed Earl Green was also quite the fan of Warp Warp. Back in those early days of the Arkadia Retrocade, Earl managed to pop in for a visit with his two charming children, so that the two of us could participate in a Warp Warp challenge. It should come as no surprise at all though that when the dust had cleared, Earl had severely trounced me on the game.

Warp Warp besides being the subject of one of the Diary podcasts was also tackled by Earl Green on his Phosphor Dot Fossils series of videos on YouTube, all the way back in 2019 as a matter of fact. In the nearly 13 minute presentation, Earl gives a rundown on the basics of the game, as always allowing you to check out the game in action while he is playing. Best of all though is that he includes his personal memories of where and when he first encountered Warp Warp in his youth.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY theLogBook.

Check Out 1982’s Video Games: A Public Perspective From Atari!

Friends, I hope you are more than ready to take a trip back to 1982 with Video Games: A Public Perspective, which was a public service video for communities worried about video games and arcades. During the Golden Age of the arcades it is certainly easy to see why Atari would spend the effort to produce and fund the nearly 20 minute long PSA, the older people who are interviewed at the beginning of the video itself sum up a lot of the fears that were running rampant back in the day.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Patrick Scott Patterson.

As was demonstrated in that video by Patrick Scott Patterson, it’s not like video game worries have ever truly ceased to be a concern for panic among certain groups. Before I dive into why you should set aside your time to watch Video Games: A Public Perspective though, I need to point out that until yesterday I didn’t even know it existed. It was all thanks to the historians over at Atarimania who have shared the 1982 Atari community awareness pamphlet, which besides offering a VHS copy of the public service announcement, also added the option for an industry spokesperson to appear in front of a concerned community group to discuss any lingering fears.

Now I feel that bit of Atari history is worthy of a post all on it’s own, to demonstrate how the legendary game company was trying to get out ahead of the very same fears that managed to cause pinball to be banned for so many years in most cities. Having said all of that however, Video Games: A Public Perspective also happens to provide an amazing look back at the Golden Age of arcades and video games. In addition it also features interviews with the likes of Dona Bailey, who of course designed the Atari classic Centipede back in 1981. Bailey just so happens to live in my neck of the woods, although as far as I am aware, she has yet to pay a visit to the arcade I work at.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Motherboard.

Perhaps what is most surprising in the video though is how many level-headed concerns as well as solutions are brought up in Video Games: A Public Perspective. Granted most of them fall on the side of pro-video games, but my favorite comes from Vinnie Settembre – who looks like he could whip up a mean pizza!

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Bill Lange.

Wake Up With The 2021 Mortal Kombat Movie Theme!

Friends, a surprising number of articles on this site have focused on my love of the Mortal Kombat video game series. And in almost every single one of those posts that I have written I do make a point that while I absolutely adore the lore of that series of games, comic books, animated series, and films… you would probably be hard pressed to find a worse player at fighting games than myself. Having said that I am extremely excited to check out the live action film set to debut on HBO Max as well as in select theaters starting on April 23rd, having been moved back a week from it’s original release date of April 16th (Most folks think that was to give Godzilla vs. Kong a little more breathing room at the box office). To help make that additional week wait a little more bearable, the main theme for the upcoming Mortal Kombat film has been released to help you make your morning just a little more enjoyable. The theme song which is composed by Benjamin Wallfisch (The Invisible Man, Blade Runner 2049) and entitled “Techno Syndrome 2021” as a nod to the 1994 track from Mortal Kombat: The Album by The Immortals.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY WaterTower Music.

Working at the retro arcade in my neck of the woods, I am willing to bet you will understand why we are pretty excited about seeing the new movie for ourselves. Although I am saving sharing my experience with 1995 film for a future Pop Culture Retrorama or possibly Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast, I can tell you that I was sitting in the auditorium on opening night… and I might have been the oldest person there. That probably had a little something to do with the fact that the Paul W. S. Anderson adaptation of the game had secured a PG-13 rating. With the upcoming movie by Simon McQuoid it has received an R rating for “strong bloody violence and language throughout, and some crude references.”

IGN As a matter of fact released a short behind the scenes video just a few days, giving us fans of Mortal Kombat a few more glimpses at what we can expect next week when the film is released. Although as I understand it, the complete soundtrack for Mortal Kombat by Benjamin Wallfisch is going to be released on April 16th.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY IGN… also… HOLY COW – That’s Kabal!

Pizza Hut Is Offering A Pac-Man AR Game On Their Boxes

Friends, having the benefit of being an employee at that Arkadia Retrocade in my neck of the woods, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that we keep our eyes and ears open for anything retro related. Shea Mathis, the owner and manager of the arcade has spent nearly nine years doing his best to make a visit feel like stepping into a living time capsule. Vintage posters ranging from The A-Team to Tiffany can be found on display as well as plenty of cherished toys from the ’70s and ’80s. That doesn’t mean that some exciting news doesn’t manage to slip under the radar, case in point the fact that Pizza Hut has begun to offer limited edition Pac-Man boxes as part of their ten dollar Tastemaker pizza deal. One that allows fans to play a special Pizza Hut themed Pac-Man game on their phone, right on the top of the pizza box by way of a QR code.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ua4JWfUEk
VIDEO PROVIDED BY Pizza Hut.

I certainly don’t mean to question Craig Robinson, as the actor, musician, and singer is far more accomplished and knowledgeable than I am on a great many things… but in that commercial it sounds like he first experienced Pac-Man two years after it was originally released to arcades. Perhaps he was saying that it was in 1982 when he became a master Pac-Man player? Or there is a very strong probability that I am just thinking about a humorous Pizza Hut commercial way, way too much.

At the Arkadia Retrocade we too are fans of the iconic character co-created by Toru Iwatani, in fact as I have mentioned on numerous Diary of An Arcade Employee podcasts, the Pac-Man family of arcade titles are prominently featured in the showcase row of games upon entering the arcade.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that when closing the arcade down for the night this past Thursday, we made sure to order some Pizza Hut carry-out. Before digging into the pizzas though we took a few minutes to enjoy a couple of rounds of the “Pizza Hut Arcade” Pac-Man game.

Pac-Man - Pizza Hut - AR Game - 2021

I wouldn’t be too surprised if the top of this limited edition box doesn’t somehow manage to be displayed somewhere at the arcade.

Check Out The 1977 Super 8 Version Of Star Wars!

Friends, until the release of Star Wars in 1982 to the home market on the likes of VHS, LaserDisc, Betamax, CED VideoDisc, and even the European based Video 2000 videocassette, the only way to enjoy the first entry in the original trilogy was to catch it in theaters in limited re-release engagements. As I understand it there were four times that the original Star Wars returned to theaters, with the first being in ’78 and then the following year, as well as in ’81 and then for the last time on August 13th of 1982.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Star Wars.

But to the point of this article, the Star Wars fans who were lucky enough to have access to a Super 8 film projector in 1977 could enjoy selected scenes released by Ken Films to the home market. There were three versions of Super 8 reels offered to the public by Ken Films, black and white as well as silent, a color edition with no sound, or color with the addition of sound. The scenes offered on the Super 8 reels were of Luke Skywalker being told about his Father and the ways of the Force by Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. Then followed by Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Luke, plus R2-D2 and C-3PO making their escape from the Death Star. Concluding with the thrilling TIE Fighter attack on the Millennium Falcon as they make good their escape to the rebel base on Yavin 4.

Star Wars - Super 8 - TIE Fighter - Ken Films

With the popularity of Star Wars it will probably not surprise you to learn that the Super 8 reels sold very, very well indeed. So much so that Ken Films produced two more reels of selected scenes afterwards that were twice the length of their initial offering, resulting in about half an hour of 1977’s Star Wars when all was said and done.

The reason for this article is that the other day before I went to work at the arcade, I received a message from Gary Burton, not only a fellow author on this site but the chief technician at the Arkadia Retrocade. Gary asked if I might be able to come in just a little earlier than normal because he had picked up something at an antique store that he felt I would get a kick out of. That turned out to be something of an understatement as he powered up his 1973 Kodak Moviedeck 435 film projector and showed me the 1977 black and white Star Wars reel he had picked up earlier in the week. While possessing no sound, the scenes did provide subtitles so that the viewers could make sense of the highly abridged story of the classic 1977 film.

  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Kenobi - Ken Films - 1977
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Han Solo - Death Star - 1977 - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Princess Leia - Death Star - 1977 - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - 1977 - Droids - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Death Star - Luke - 1977 - Ken Films
  • Star Wars - Super 8 - Kodak Moviedeck 435

In closing out this article, there was one other way to enjoy Star Wars at home back in ’77, and that was thanks to the excellent film cartridges and viewer released by Kenner. However if you would like to see the black and white Ken Films version of Star Wars for yourself, I found this copy that was uploaded on YouTube.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY rockyracoon86.

1981 At The Omni International Complex

Friends, a couple of weeks back, one of the friends of the Diary of An Arcade Employee Facebook page was kind enough to send me a link to this snapshot of life back in 1981 at the Omni International Complex in Atlanta, Georgia. The video which is a little over nine minutes of B-roll footage for a local news station gives a welcome look back at the complex, in addition to families enjoying an indoor skating rink as well as an arcade that appears to have been called Electronic America. Considering that I work at the Arkadia Retroarcade during the week and with the aforementioned podcast, it is the video games and pinball table footage that I enjoy the most. You can see everything from Cinematronic’s Star Castle, Midway Games’ Space Zap and Galaxian, to a few choice Atari games like Basketball, Asteroids, and even their enormous Hercules pinball table.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpjEoQGUuv4
VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY btm0815ma.

As I understand it, the Omni International Complex opened back in 1976, featuring the ice skating rink in addition to a smattering of restaurants and some shops as well as a high-end hotel for visitors to enjoy. Although perhaps the most impressive element when the Omni opened it’s doors to the public has to be that it was the home of an indoor theme park – The World of Sid and Marty Krofft!

VIDEO PROVIDED BY The House of Dracula – Monster Model Museum.

The World of Sid and Marty Krofft was a short-lived dream from the two iconic television show creators, from reading about it online it seems that it remained in operation for less than a year. However it sounds like it was a magical park nonetheless with characters and settings inspired by H.R. Pufnstuff, Lidsville, and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. And as you will hear from this interview with the Krofft brothers, it sort of sounds like the odds were stacked against them from the beginning, with technical issues as well as the location of the theme park.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY FoundationINTERVIEWS.

Getting a chance to see the Omni International Complex in 1981 is definitely a treat, especially with the amount of classic titles in the footage focusing on the arcade. But the sad truth is the reason for the B-roll footage appears to be in conjunction with the horrifying Atlanta child murders at that time. Which I assume is why you see so many Police officers strolling the Omni International Complex, not to mention the folks in the arcade being questioned about having a valid ID.

Sega R360 Arcade Cabinet Located In A Field!

Friends, while my time at the arcade has been scaled back to one day a week due to the economic impact of the pandemic, I can tell you that even being back that single shift has done much to pick up my spirits. In the nearly nine years that the Arkadia Retrocade has been open for business, my input into the success of the arcade has been tiny, for all intents and purpose it has been to act as doorman or a janitor when the call arises – the joy of working at an arcade in this day and age though is still pretty amazing. Obviously that is one of the reasons I created the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast, in addition to giving me an opportunity to discuss my memories of the arcade and video games of my youth. Which is why my co-worker at the arcade, Gary Burton, the chief technician for Arkadia was quick to send me a recent article by Matt Gardner of Forbes. It was revealed that a rather rare Sega arcade cabinet was discovered out in a field north of Belfast, Ireland by Lee Peters, who as it turns out is a member of a Facebook group who specialize in this particular arcade cabinet. The R360 as is hinted at by the name, allowed a Player to sit inside a circular cockpit, buckled up for safety purposes and spin 360 degrees in any direction. In total it is believed that only up to 200 of these cabinets were ever manufactured by Sega starting in 1990 – in fact it apparently was originally listed as a ride instead of an arcade title.

As I understand it, the R360 was initially released in Japan in ’90 before being given an international push the following year. The game that was most commonly associated with the 2,200 pound cabinet was G-LOC: Air Battle, which allowed a Player to experience it as either a game or as something akin to a thrill ride in demo mode. It should not come as any surprise that it was always intended to be run with an attendant on hand who could manually shut the game down if an issue occurred. In fact thanks to this YouTube video that was uploaded back in 2013 you can see the game in action for yourself – although BE WARNED there is just a bit of salty language as the Player starts up the game itself.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Daniel Robar.

While I am sad to say that it sounds like the remains of the R360 arcade cabinet that was located in that field can’t be salvaged by Peters, it does appear he is still going to attempt to rescue it. You might be interested to know that Sega released a two-player cabinet known as the R360Z in 2015 featuring a game entitled Transformers: Human Alliance, obviously a tie-in with the Michael Bay Transformers films.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Negatron.

In closing out this article I will have to say that as amazing as the R360 and R360Z seem to be, my motion sickness guarantees that I will never be able to play one if I happen across them at an arcade in the future.

These Small Soldiers Are Definitely Not A Toy

Friends, just last month I shared with you the behind the scenes video from the Stan Winston Studios of their work on 1998’s Small Soldiers. In that article I explained why the family-friendly film from Joe Dante was one of the handful of movies released that year that I just had to see on opening day. A large part of that had to do with of course being enamored with the films of Dante like Piranha, Gremlins, and of course The Howling. The third movie being one of those films I caught at that cherished drive-in theater of my youth, which is why it has been selected as a future Saturday Frights Podcast episode. The other reason I was so excited about the release of Small Soldiers has more to do with just loving toys and action figures in general. Furthermore as the trailers for Small Soldiers hinted at, it most certainly had a bit of a Gremlins vibe, as an experimental military chip brings the Commando Elite to life to wreck havoc on an unsuspecting neighborhood.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Rafael M.

It is very interesting that none of the Gorgonites, the opposing toy line in the film is featured in that trailer, right? I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I was disappointed to see the box office take for Small Soldiers after it’s opening weekend. While not a box office bomb by any stretch of the imagination, I had hoped that it would do well enough at least that we would get not just a sequel but more toys for both the Commando Elite and Gorgonites.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY retro VHS trailers.

Thankfully over the years Small Soldiers has developed a strong cult following. So much so that it was revealed that a remake was in the works, one of the 200 film and television projects that found itself cancelled when 21st Century Fox was bought by Disney back in 2019. With that cult following though characters from the film have found themselves being made into stunningly faithful high-end collectibles – to say nothing of being screen accurate – taken from the Stan Winston Studio molds in some cases. Case in point Nick Nitro (voiced in the film by Clint Walker) from Yu Liang Lee, who produced the head, forearms, and the lower waist for the foot tall collectible from the actual prop molds from the 1998 film.

Although I should point out that official cold cast porcelain figures were produced for Major Chip Hazard (Tommy Lee Jones), Archer (Frank Langella), Insaniac (Michael McKean), and Freakenstein (McKean) by Softgarage Inc. but only sold in Japan. Of course that is no obstacle for a true Small Soldiers fan, right?

In closing out this article, I am fortunate enough that one of my friends from the arcade is also a huge Small Soldiers fan. He is the one who was kind enough to bring in these wonderful collectibles for Nick Nitro and Major Chip Hazard so that I could share them with you.

The Top 5 Things We Liked In 2020

Friends, we are on the cusp of 2020 ending and 2021 beginning and I am sure that for many of you this year could not end quick enough. From the obvious pandemic, natural disasters, to an overwhelming and somewhat historic divisions in the ideology of people in regards to matters of importance as fundamental human rights, politics, or even if The Mandalorian is setting the proper example with how it treats imaginary animals. Of course, I have to add that as this site is focused on all things pop culture as well as retro related, 2020 has given me an absolute bellyful of writing remembrances of the many talented entertainers and people of note that we have lost throughout the year. However, with that rather heavy intro out of the way, it is too easy to focus on the negative – there were some nuggets of awesomeness in 2020 to be sure. Which is why a few of my fellow Pop Culture Retrorama Colleagues were kind enough to get together and share with you the Top 5 things we liked in 2020.

First up we have Ashley Thomas aka The Nerdy Blogger:

  1. Star Trek – I have been a Star Trek fan since I was introduced to the franchise in 2009 via the J. J. Abrams reboot. An unusual introduction, I know, but I did go back and watch every Star Trek film and every single episode of every series over the course of the next 6 years. I’ve also made a habit of watching the H&I channel’s #AllStarTrek block nearly every evening while I prepare for the next day and try to relax a bit before bed.

To say that I love Star Trek might be an understatement.

2020 reignited my love for the franchise. We had new Star Trek happening every week for about 3/4 of the year this year. Picard, Lower Decks, and Discovery are all very different, but each is a fantastic series in its own right. Star Trek has a common thread of hope throughout every series, and that’s been something I think we all have desperately needed this year.

  1. Vinyl! – Early this year, my husband and I made the investment in a good quality record player, replacing the one we purchased at the beginning of our marriage that had bit the dust a few years ago. This purchase has sparked the purchase of much vinyl this year, both new and old. My most fun retro find of 2020 is my copy of The Black Hole score. I didn’t think anything of it at the time of purchase, but apparently, my copy was once owned by PM Magazine.
USED WITH PERMISSION BY ASHLEY THOMAS
  1. Comic Books! – I’ve been a comics fan for nearly my entire life. I’ve probably bought more comics this year than ever before, again, both new and old. I’ve been covering the 1995 Marvel Gargoyles series here at the PCR and between cross-state searches by me and my best friend in my hometown in Tennessee, we completed my collection of the series. The thrill of the hunt for these books has been a lot of fun, and it’s been a great reminder of why I love comics so much. I feel like a kid again reading these stories, but they also remind me of what sparked my deep and abiding love of myth, legend, fantasy, and science fiction in the first place–Gargoyles.
  2. The Mandalorian – I think it’s safe to say that we all love Star Wars here at the PCR and The Mandalorian is perhaps the most universally loved Star Wars property since the original trilogy. What I especially loved about The Mandalorian this year was seeing all the powerful women on my screen. I wrote more extensively about this in my review of the season finale on Fangirlish (don’t read ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled), but that episode had 4 different kinds of women who are powerful in their own right show up and steamroll a pack of Stormtroopers like it’s nothing. As an adult, I appreciate what Leia did to change how women were represented in Science Fiction, but as a kid, I didn’t want to be a commander like her. I wanted to be in the middle of the fray, shoulder to shoulder with Luke and Han, taking out Stormtroopers. I got my dream fulfilled in the finale of The Mandalorian and I will always be grateful for that.
  3. The Pop Culture Retrorama – I hope it’s not too cheesy to say that I have deeply enjoyed being part of The Pop Culture Retrorama team this year. I am so grateful that I’ve gotten to contribute to the site, both via the blog and podcast. It’s brought me a lot of joy to have gotten to know my fellow contributors here at the PCR better this year and to be among such excellent cohorts at one of the most positive sites on the internet. We could all use a bit more positivity, even during the best of times, but no more now than in 2020. Special thanks go to Vic for being our fearless leader and for his tireless efforts to make this site the great place that it is.

Next is none other than Rockford Jay, my esteemed co-editor of the Saturday Frights Facebook page:

(5) BIG BIG BLU-RAY SALES
Deep discount summer and fall sales by the good folks at Kino Lorber, Scream Factory, Criterion, Warner Archive, and others gave me plenty viewing to pass the empty lockdown hours.

(4) NOVELTY T-SHIRTS GALORE
From Kolchak’s Independent News Service to Jim Rockford’s Yellow Pages ad, to the Power Records logo and Heroes World catalogue art, deep dive nerd shirts made lounging around the house a colorful affair.

(3) CUSTOM NERD VENTURES
A desktop designed paper Mego-sized Enterprise bridge playset from Cardboard Agitprop? Three-Dee printed Super Powers action figures from Emilio Zee? Toy-Ventures Magazine from the good people at PlaidStallions? Great bespoke geek projects helped fill my empty hours!

(2) REDISCOVERING LOCAL EATERIES
I made a point to eat local and spend local to do my part to help our struggling small businesses and restaurants, and I was all the fatter for it! Chili cheese fries from Joe’s Chicken Shack! Roast beef splits from Pine Mountain Grill! Slaw dogs from Patriot’s Dairy Bar! Daily specials from France’s Diner, the Circle T, and the Isom Double Kwik! I ate so much, I got the shakes! And I got the fries too!

(1) BABY YODA EASES THE PAIN!
Need I say more?

Allison Venezio-Preston is up next:

1) I fell in love with watching 1980s and 1990s corporate training videos, learning the policies and procedures of companies that may or may not be still in business as we close out 2020. The idea of watching an employee have to act like the worst employee ever, and how companies handle that type of employee behavior tends to yield some hilariously awkward results.

2) Netflix did a ten-episode series based on The Baby-Sitters Club. I know it was done 30 years ago for HBO, but this series took the first eight books (the original worked because it was thirteen original stories), and I believe one of the Super Specials as a two-parter, and turned them into half-hour episodes, modernizing some of the elements of each episode, while sticking with the main plot of each story. I watched the series over the course of a week while walking on the treadmill in the morning, and I felt it to be a faithful adaptation, and as well acted as you can expect a television series based on a series of books aimed at preteen girls could possibly be.

VIDEO PROVIDED BY Netflix Futures.

3) Since conventions were a no-go this year (we would have attended at least one, under normal circumstances), convention companies taking to a virtual format has allowed me to see celebrities I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise. I looked up Galaxy Con’s virtual panel offerings and put the ones that interested me on my calendar so I could watch them. My favorite, by far, was Jodi Benson from The Little Mermaid, especially when she sang “Part of Your World” at the conclusion of her panel. I had goosebumps and tears like you wouldn’t believe listening to her beautiful voice, the song of a precocious teenager, longing for a life beyond the one she already knows. Thirty years ago, Ariel was my first Disney Princess, and listening to her sing reminded me of many happy hours listening to the soundtrack in my cassette player.

4) Piggybacking on the virtual convention panels, in June, I made a $15 donation to the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California, and was able to watch a one-hour isolation concert featuring Kenny Loggins. I’ve talked about my love of his music plenty of times in the past, and my husband, my mom, and myself have been to two of his concerts. The concert was short, sweet, and to the point, but it felt personal. My husband and I felt like we had front row seats – we sang along, made popcorn, and took “concert selfies.”

5) Getting recognition from my peers for my writing is something I always appreciate, and I consider my writer’s circle to be a tight-knit one. Having the opportunity to work on the Pop Culture Retrorama Podcast, which allows me to talk about nostalgia, while working with an amazing group of fellow writers, has been one of the best parts of this crazy year. I also had the opportunity to talk nostalgia and my craft with Mark from VHS Rewind! earlier this year, which was exciting.

I’m not going to lie, this hasn’t been the easiest year, with furloughs, quarantines, and tragic losses, but being able to escape and “look back,” even for a little while, helps make the present a little easier to deal with. Here’s to 2021, and perhaps a little more…calmness?

In all honesty, my fellow Pop Culture Retrorama Colleagues touched upon every single thing that I liked in 2020 – from The Mandalorian and Star Trek to getting takeout food at local restaurants. Although I will have to add that I am so very grateful that the Arkadia Retrocade has been able to keep it’s doors open through the pandemic – I might not be part of the arcade at the present – but just knowing that it continues to thrill the Players that visit has done much to lift my spirits. The same is true for Pinpoint, the pinball bar in my neck of the woods – as I have mentioned on the Diary of An Arcade Employee podcast – owned and operated by Bo Counts who was one of the original technicians at the arcade. I do not venture out very much but it felt good to experience a little normalcy in 2020, stopping by for just a few minutes and enjoying one of my favorite energy drinks and pinball tables.

That also is true with a local business that is just two doors down from Pinpoint – the hallowed Block Street Records. Not to sound like a broken record – ahem – but I look forward to popping in once a month and just browsing all of the awesome vinyl that is available – although it might not shock you to learn that I frequently pick up a soundtrack or children’s record during my visits.

Another local business that made 2020 more bearable is Rock Bottom Books – the local comic shop that I have been visiting for the past 34 years. There is something pretty magical when the owner knows you well enough to successfully predict 99.99% of the time what books you are going to want in your pull list, right?

Last but not least though and at the top of the list of my Top 5 Things I liked in 2020 – is you. We simply could not do this without your continued support of the site and the various podcasts – so from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. Have a very safe and Happy New Year!

In closing out this article I obviously want to thank my fellow PCR writers, this site would not be half as much fun without their contributions. Some like Earl Green, Ashley Thomas, Allison Venezio-Preston, and Rockford Jay join me on the Pop Culture Retrorama podcast. However there is also Brett Weiss, Gary Burton, Rob O’Hara, I See Robots, Javier Ojst, and Daniel XIII that are very much part of the Pop Culture Retrorama family and help make this site special.