The First Annual Southern Fried Gameroom Expo 2014

Oh my gosh. Where to begin? This past weekend I attended the First Annual Southern Fried Gameroom Expo at the Marriott Century Center.

It. Was. Amazing.

Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever attended anything so awesome in recent memory. They had completely taken over the Marriott, and when I say, “completely taken over”, I mean “COMPLETELY TAKEN OVER”. I’ve been to that Marriott at least half a dozen times in the last couple of years for the quarterly single-day Atlanta Comic Book Convention (which is a great convention, by the way!) and it’s not even remotely been this packed. They had every ballroom in the place and every conference room open to convention-goers and packed with Pinball, Coin-op Arcade Video Games, Home Video consoles, retro/oldschool game systems, as well as various vendors stationed throughout the expo. It was great. Even if you walked up to the door, day of the show, it was only $20 admission for unlimited gaming, all the expo events, movie screenings, panels, and tournaments. Advance tickets were actually half that much! Note to self, when that thing comes around next year, make sure and buy advanced three day tickets.

I got there a little early on Saturday to participate in the Swap Meet. I’ve been dying to find an arcade cabinet for a while for a MAME project, and I got some business cards and talked to some people who can definitely help me when the time’s right. I am SO going to build a MAME cabinet with an oldschool controller setup. I saw some great examples of them there, and I think the cabinet might very well wind up being the most expensive part of the project. I also spent some time in the vintage home video system room playing Atari, Virtualboy, Intellivision, and my favorite vintage home video system of all time: Coleco Vision. What a great system.

Enjoy the photo gallery. I tried to upload some of the best pics I snapped while I was there. It was a fun time. If you heard about it this year and for some reason didn’t get to make it, by all means, don’t make that mistake next year. Here’s looking forward to the second annual one in 2015!

Click the images to enlarge, click the image again to close/exit:

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My Brush With Fame, Or, That Time I Met The American Dream Dusty Rhodes

The American Dream, baby... Dusty Rhodes
The American Dream, baby… Dusty Rhodes

I was in the Navy in the mid to late 1980s. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia and had family in North and South Carolina. So during the 70s and early 80s, I was a huge Jim Crockett Mid-Atlantic/NWA fan who attended shows in NC,SC, and VA religiously. I grew up on Rufus Jones, Ric Flair, Blackjack Mulligan, Greg Valentine, Dusty Rhodes, etc. During the time I was in the Navy, I was stationed out west in Seattle. I didn’t get to fly home all that much, but this was one time I was heading home for vacation. I don’t recall if it was a direct flight from Seattle to Charlotte or not, but I know that I had a layover in Charlotte, and was flying from Charlotte to Richmond for leave.

So the flight from NC to VA was a brief little hop, and it was a late night flight. Like, around midnight. Not really a redeye, but a late flight nonetheless. Back in those days, fllghts would fly with barely anyone on them. It happened. This was one of those flights. If memory serves, there were less than a dozen people on the flight and my seat was towards the rear of the plane (the smoking section at the time). When I boarded I walked past the first few rows and seated up front, taking up nearly two seats, was Dusty Rhodes… THE Dusty Rhodes. Given that this was around 1986, there’s the very real possibility that he’s the current NWA World Heavyweight Champion, at the very least, he’s a contender and running Jim Crockett at the time. So this was a big deal.

I recognized him immediately and made my way back to my seat. There was nobody sitting around Dusty at all, and across the aisle, in the same row, it was completely open.

When the plane took off, the moment the seat belt light went off, I made my way up front and moved to that row. There I was, same row as the American Dream. I looked over and he had a spreadsheet out, was wearing little wireframe glasses that rested on the bridge of his nose, and was working on something… I’m guessing it was travel expenses or something of that nature. I just remember that he was engrossed in whatever it was. Now I was 18-19 at the time and starstruck, I certainly didn’t think anything about trying to strike up a conversation and potentially spending the next hour or so talking with Dusty (in my head we were already on a first name basis) about all things wrestling.

So I waited a moment, cleared my throat and said, “excuse me, are you the American Dream Dusty Rhodes?”.

He stopped what he was doing, looked over the rim of his glasses at me for a moment and said, “Thon, is that your athigned theat?”

Without a word, I got up and made my way back to my seat.

EDIT: Now with more bonus Dusty. This is from right around the same era. Dusty’s cutting a promo in October 1985, just before Starcade ’85. So a little context… He’s booking Crockett’s “Mid-Atlantic Wrestling” at this time. He’s A-list right now. Imagine someone in 1985 with Orton/Batista/HHH levels of heat and power. He’s not Flair… but he’s chasing him!

What do you call them? I know you know what I’m talking about…

You’re flipping. Then you see it, and you stop dead in your tracks. You can’t flip anymore, and you have to watch the rest of it… every time you come across it.

For me, it’s always “Goodfellas”, “Casino”, “Open Range”, or to a lesser extent, 80’s movies like, “Pretty in Pink”, “Sixteen Candles”, or “Saint Elmo’s Fire”.

Don’t judge me.

Is there a name for these movies? “Flip Stoppers” seems a bit contrived… but oddly appropriate.

What are yours? And what do you call them?

 

You know, the first step is admitting you have a problem…

I just had the oddest experience. I was walking down the hall at work when I caught myself thinking about something.

No, that part’s not the “odd part”. The odd part was what I was thinking about.

I was thinking about peanut butter. Specifically, I was thinking about “Smucker’s All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter with Honey”.

I have an almost uncontrollable addiction to nut butters. I love them. I eat them on Triscuits. I spread them on whole wheat bread. I eat them on bananas. I have absolutely no ability to moderate my intake of any particular nut butter. It gets worse when it’s almond butter. I daresay I could polish off an entire jar of almond butter in one sitting and not blink twice.

So there I was, walking down the hall at work thinking, “boy, I can’t wait to get home tonight and eat some peanut butter on some Triscuits”.

What the hell is wrong with me?

I don’t know, but I guarantee, whatever it is, it can be fixed by spreading a little peanut butter on it.

Is there a name for this? “Embarrassment Coupon” perhaps?

I recently got on a Cafe Verona kick. Dark, “chocolatey”, it’s really a delicious coffee, and so lately I’ve been snapping up Starbucks Cafe Verona anyplace I can find them. I’ve got a little single-cup coffee maker at work. Black and Decker. It makes one little cup of coffee, and usually during the course of the day I’ll make a couple cups. It wasn’t until I was on my second or third bag, that I discovered that Starbucks will give you a free cup of coffee if you take the bag back into any Starbucks Coffee. “Hmmm” I thought, “that’s pretty cool. It’d be nice to be able to stop by Starbucks one day when I’m out and about and know that I’ve got a free cup of coffee coming my way”.

So a couple days ago, I finished a bag and before I could throw it away, remembered to save it. I took it out to my car and put the empty bag in the middle console between the two front seats.

And there it sat. Mocking me.

Was I so pathetic, that in order to get a free cup of coffee, I was willing to walk all the way into the Mall clutching an empty bag of trash? I don’t carry a purse, so it’s not like I had any clever place to “hide” it on my way in. No, I was going to have to walk into Starbucks and hand over my empty trash and say, “here’s my empty bag, can I have my little free cup of Pike Place Blend, please?”

That was when I realized the genius of Starbucks. They know you’re not going to redeem that shit. They know if you’re going to plunk down $7 for a bag of ground coffee, that you’re not the type of person who looks for ways to get a 90-cent cup of coffee for free. Oh sure, you might try to tell yourself, “well, they’re going to recycle them”, but you know that won’t happen. The little Emo Barrista behind the counter is going to look you over, judgmentally sneer, fill a little cup up with some coffee he was about to throw out, toss your little bag in the trash, then talk shit about you to all his friends when you leave. “Dude, today this guy brought in an empty bag of coffee in so he could get his free cup of coffee… I know, right?” Not to mention the looks you’ll get from every customer in the place. I mean, if I was in line and you approached the counter and offered up and empty bag of trash in exchange for a cup of coffee, I’d be like, “man… here… lemme buy you a Venti, bro…”.

So I mean, there has to be a name for that, right? You offer someone something you KNOW they’re never going to redeem, but you look good offering it. It gives people a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling, but in the end, nobody’s pathetic enough to redeem it without submitting to some kind of “walk of shame” and taking a few self-esteem hits.

I think I’ll call it, “An Embarrassment Coupon”.

Oh, and if you spotted me in Starbucks today during lunch, don’t tell any of my friends, okay?

“I hate that place”

I hear that so often these days. From friends, from co-workers, from Twitter followers. Seems like everyone hates Facebook.

So why are so many people still using it?

I don’t post pictures there. I don’t upload video there. My only participation is to use it as a broadcast medium to point to the place where I control the universe. Here. I might share a link or two, but they’re also shared here as well. I don’t want Facebook to actually have any of my content. It’s mine. Not theirs. They don’t have any right to my family photos, my videos, my thoughts, my ideas. They make money off my stuff. If all of a sudden everyone stopped giving Facebook all their shit, Facebook would be completely value-less. Facebook’s whole value is wrapped up in your eyeballs. Increasingly, they’re becoming a walled garden. I saw a post the other day comparing them to AOL, and I thought, “that’s perfect”. AOL used to be a lot of people’s “internet experience”. You’d sign on to their world, play around in their playground, interact with their users, then log off. Once you started sniffing around outside their walls, they were essentially done. People went, “waitaminute, you mean there’s all THIS out there? Why didn’t you tell me?”. Then it was all over for AOL.

Seems like the same thing’s happening with Facebook.

It’s the end of the year. Time for people to start writing those “retrospective” posts looking back on “the year that was” and a lot of them seem to be themed around the idea of “moving on from Facebook”. People seem to be coming around to the idea that there’s life beyond 500 million users. That juggernauts can be stopped cold in their tracks. That there will be a “next big thing” and they’re already starting. That can’t bode well for Facebook, but it could be good for users.

See, I think, as an idea, Facebook’s great. Share shit with your friends and family. As a platform, it’s been great as what I would call, “the first iteration” of that idea. Sort of a “here’s how you do it and make it easy for people”. What I think it’s failed at miserably though, is the obvious obsession with monetizing the idea. In an effort to somehow get money out of an idea that’s inherently NOT a money making idea, they’ve had to open the “social graph” to people who weren’t part of your conversation in the first place.

I was talking with my friends and family. Who invited Coca-Cola and Toyota?

Then there’s the whole notion of Facebook making money off of my life. Seriously? You take my photos, my videos, my thoughts, my ideas… and you monetize them so YOU make money? And you don’t offer me a cut? How does that work?

Turns out it doesn’t. At least not very well. In order for Facebook to make that money, they’ve got to run completely counter to their idea. They have to open what was originally a very closed idea. I liked it when the idea was closed. I liked it when I had friends, I could share, they could share, and that was our world. Now, this whole, open platform environment runs counter to my comfort level and the comfort level of most users. You think I want all my friends to see my activity on Huffington Post? Do I want everyone I’m friends with on Facebook, business Friends, personal friends, family, to see what I like on Buzzfeed? You think that’s appropriate? I don’t. It’s also not the deal we signed up for.

So what happens now? Well, it’s anybody’s guess, but judging from some of the conversations out there, we won’t have to wait long to find out. There are a lot of really smart people out there who see this coming and are already working on solutions to “the Facebook problem”. I’m confident they’re smarter than Zuckerberg, too. Here’s the best part, you don’t have to “train” a new audience what the idea of Facebook is now. All you have to do is be the one who comes up with the next, “It’s Facebook, but better”.

Here’s how I imagine that conversation went down…

OPENING SCENE: SOME CANDY COMPANY BOARDROOM, MID-80s:

“Okay people, here’s the deal. Parents are having a shit-fit. We can’t sell sticks made out of sugar, with a little painted red-tip, packed into boxes designed to look like cigarettes, and call them ‘Candy Cigarettes’ anymore. It’s just not working. So we’ve got a machine downstairs that makes sticks out of sugar, and another machine that makes cigarette boxes. Any ideas? ”

“What about if we just call them ‘Sticks Made Out of Sugar’ instead?”

“You’re fired. Next?”

“I know! We’ll call them ‘Candy Sticks’. That way, it still has ‘candy’ in the name, and kids love sticks!”

“Okay, I like where you’re going with this. Now. What about the box machine? How do we work that into the mix?”

“We’ll print superheroes on the boxes. Kids love superheroes.”

“I like it, it’s a real win-win. Let’s go with that one…”

Candy... sticks?

Kids LOVE candy. Kids LOVE superheroes. Kids LOVE sticks. It's a no brainer, right?

“The Best Laid Plans…” and what my gut told me.

I had actually planned to write a lot this weekend. I felt like I had a lot of pent up blogging inside me. Like I had things to say and there was some underlying emotion bubbling through me that would somehow be cathartically released if I wrote about it. I mean, I can’t explain it. Ever have one of those feelings like, things are just over the horizon, and you can’t quite see them yet? They’re just not in focus, or not completely visible? That’s how I’ve felt for about the last couple of weeks. I think a lot of it has to do with Adobe Max this year. I’m struggling with the “all over the map” feeling that this year’s Max Conference has left me with. Oh, not in a bad way. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I feel as if there are dozens of opportunities out there for me to apply a little talent, a little skill, a little elbow grease, and wind up on the other side of a hugely rewarding experience. So I thought maybe meditating on it, spending a little time writing about it, and talking to some friends this weekend would help me sort things out in my brain-container.

Then Fallout: New Vegas arrived. Then I got a new iPhone.

I mean, seriously, could I have had two bigger distractions fall into my lap? First off, don’t even get me started on Fallout. I wrote about it a while back on my other blog. The previous version was my number one game of 2010 and the damn thing was released in 2009. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you how many hours I spent playing Fallout 3, but I will cop to it being in the hundreds. And don’t think I’m the only one. My wife not only loved Fallout 3, but she’s got a book she checked out from the library that’s a 14-day checkout (that’s already overdue), and on about three separate occasions this weekend she stopped what she was doing and sat next to me watching me fight dehydration (of course I’m playing it on hardcore mode, silly), fend of radscorpions, and work with “Fantastic” to squeeze more efficiency out of a solar panel array in the nuclear wasteland formerly known as “The Nevada Desert”. Quite simply, the game is magnificent. Oh sure, it’s basically an add-on pack to Fallout 3… but I don’t care. It’s more wasteland, more post-apocalyptic carnage & mayhem, and more piled on top of more. So here I sit, Monday morning, with barely any sleep on a weekend where I actually got an extra hour built into the weekend, having accomplished nothing more than learning how to tan golden gecko hides in the desert with some roots and turpentine. Oh, and I shot some ghouls into space. That was pretty cool.

The iPhone? I dunno. Jury’s still out on that one. I played with it a little. Wasn’t “blown away” but wasn’t disappointed either. Apple is Apple, and everything they touch they think through to such extreme that it’s almost annoying how perfectly everything works together. UI isn’t so alarming after owning an iPad for six months, but I have to tell you, if I didn’t own the iPad, jumping from 2 years on an Android phone to the iPhone would’ve been a lot more jarring experience. Having a Droid 2 and an iPhone simultaneously should be an interesting experience that I hope to spend a little more time exploring. Initial thoughts however, are a resounding, “meh”. It was, however, nice to have a new iPod. I will admit to spending an inordinate amount of time this weekend loading the shit out of it with Video/Movies/TV shows and music. Somehow Band of Horses just sounds better on a new iPod/iPhone. I can’t explain that… something about how shiny it is, I think.

But you know what? I don’t regret a minute of it. I think my gut was telling me to relax. I spent a week in Los Angeles on sensory overload and it actually felt nice to curl up on the sofa all weekend, enjoy time with the family and decompress a little. I cooked dinner for my mom, went grocery shopping, and helped my daughter go on a “wildlife safari”. Taking occasional time outs to shoot the arms off of legionnaires who don’t like me because of my tremendously good karma (the idolize me in Novac!) was just the icing on the cake as far as I’m concerned.

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from…”

I don’t think anyone could disagree that one of the greatest supporting characters from The Simpsons is the legendary B-movie actor Troy McClure. Voiced by Phil Hartman, he first appeared in the season 2 episode, “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment”. He was a recurring supporting character, finally getting an entire episode to himself in the seventh season titled, “A Fish Called Selma” where he marries Selma Bouvier, we learn a little more about his life, and discover his strange sexual proclivity (hint, fish). He was based on real life actors Troy Donahue and Doug McClure, who, according to writer Mike Reiss (who at one point met McClure’s daughter) found the homage funny. Apparently his kids would often call him, “Troy McLure” behind his back.

Recently, while riding my bike in the garage, I switched up my DVD selections and got out my Simpsons season two DVD box set. When going through the list of episodes I jumped all over the chance to watch Troy’s first appearance, and since then he’s been all I can think about lately. Phil Hartman was such a gifted actor and had such amazing talent that I found myself actively searching for every appearance of his I could find, including Lionel Hutz, Attorney at Law. But it will always be Troy McClure that so perfectly captures the heart of why the Simpsons is/was a great show. That a small, recurring supporting character could create such a following is really a testament to the show’s appeal.

So without further ado, here’s the complete list of movies, television shows, musical, specials, and of course, celebrity funerals that Troy McClure “starred in”. I would love to tell you that I have a favorite in this list, but I don’t. I love them all. I find myself laughing out loud at practically all of them. Of course I shamelessly stole this list from a couple of places, so credit where credit is due.

Enjoy. I know I do. I’m glad I have this on my blog so I can occasionally look it up, read it, and chuckle. I hope you do the same.

Regular Movies

  • Alice’s Adventure through the Windshield Glass (ref. Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There)
  • The Boatjacking of Supership ’79 (ref. The Concorde: Airport ’79)
  • Calling All Quakers (with Dolores Montenegro)
  • Christmas Ape
  • Christmas Ape Goes To Summer Camp
  • The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel
  • Cry Yuma (ref. Cry Havoc, Cry Freedom)
  • David versus Super Goliath
  • Dial M for Murderousness (ref. Dial M for Murder)
  • The Electric Gigolo (ref. The Electric Horseman and American Gigolo)
  • The Erotic Adventures of Hercules (ref. The Erotic Adventures of Zorro/The Erotic Adventures of Robinson Crusoe)
  • Give My Remains to Broadway (ref. Give My Regards to Broadway)
  • Gladys the Groovy Mule (ref. Francis the Talking Mule)
  • Good-Time Slim, Uncle Doobie, and the Great ‘Frisco Freak-Out’
  • The Greatest Story Ever Hulaed (ref. The Greatest Story Ever Told)
  • Here Comes the Coast Guard (ref. Here Comes the Navy)
  • Hitler Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (ref. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore)
  • Hydro, the Man With the Hydraulic Arms (ref. X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes)
  • Leper in the Backfield (ref. Angels in the Outfield)
  • Make-Out King of Montana (ref. Cattle Queen of Montana)
  • Meet Joe Blow (ref. Meet Joe Black, Meet John Doe)
  • The Muppets Go Medieval (ref. Muppet movie series)
  • “P” is for Psycho (ref. Psycho and novels by Sue Grafton)
  • Preacher With a Shovel (with Dolores Montenegro) KNOBBB
  • The President’s Neck is Missing (ref. The President’s Plane is Missing)
  • The Revenge of Abe Lincoln
  • The Seven-Year Old Bitch (ref. The Seven Year Itch)
  • Sorry, Wrong Closet (ref. Sorry, Wrong Number)
  • Suddenly Last Supper (ref. Suddenly Last Summer)
  • They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall
  • Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die (ref. US title of Dario Argento’s Western Oggi a me… domani a te!)
  • The Verdict Was Mail Fraud
  • The Wackiest Covered Wagon in the West (ref. The Wackiest Ship in the Army, The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West)
  • Jagged Attraction (ref. Jagged Edge , Fatal Attraction)
  • Look Who’s Still Oinking (ref. Look Who’s Talking series)Educational films and self help videos

Educational films and self help videos

  • 60 Minutes of Car Crash Victims
  • Adjusting Your Self-O-Stat (with Brad Goodman)
  • Alice’s Adventure through the Windshield Glass (ref. Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There)
  • Alice Doesn’t Live Any More (ref. Alice Doesn’t Live Here Any More)
  • Birds: Our Fine Feathered Colleagues
  • The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot
  • Designated Drivers: The Lifesaving Nerds
  • Dig Your Own Grave and Save
  • Earwigs, Ew!
  • Firecrackers: The Silent Killer
  • Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You-Know-What (sex education film for children, shown in Springfield Elementary, the film shown was loosely based on Fritz the Cat)
  • Get Confident, Stupid!
  • The Half-Assed Approach to Foundation Repair
  • Here Comes the Metric System
  • Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly
  • Locker Room Towel Fights: The Blinding of Larry Driscoll
  • Man Versus Nature: The Road To Victory
  • Meat and You – Partners in Freedom (a Meat Council film, part of the “Resistance is Useless” series)
  • Mommy, What’s Wrong With That Man’s Face? (ref. The Man Without a Face)
  • Mothballing Your Battleship
  • Phony Tornado Alerts Reduce Readiness
  • Shoplifters BEWARE
  • Smoke Yourself Thin
  • Someone’s in the Kitchen with DNA! (ref. children’s song “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Dinah”)
  • Toxic Paint- Tasty But Deadly!
  • Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun
  • Young Jebediah Springfield (A Watch-and-Learn Production)
  • Welcome to Springfield Airport (an information kiosk film)
  • Where’s Nordstrom? (an information kiosk film)

TV specials

  • Alien Nose Job (ref. Alien autopsy)
  • Carnival of the Stars (ref. Circus of the Stars)
  • Five Fabulous Weeks of The Chevy Chase Show
  • Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House
  • Out With Gout ’88
  • The Miss American Girl Pageant
  • The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular
  • The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

TV series

  • AfterMannix (ref. AfterMASH and Mannix)
  • America’s Funniest Tornadoes (ref. America’s Funniest Home Videos)
  • Buck Henderson, Union Buster
  • Handel with Kare (ref. The Odd Couple and Switch).
  • I Can’t Believe They Invented It! (an infomercial)
  • Shortland Street (unlikely to be any relation to the real-life New Zealand hospital Soap Opera Shortland Street, however)
  • Son of Sanford and Son (ref. Sanford and Son)
  • Troy and Company’s Summertime Smile Factory (ref. all those short-lived, B-celebrity hosted comedy/variety programs of the 1960s and 1970s, especially The Late Summer-Early Fall Bert Convy Show).

Cartoons

  • Christmas Ape (ref. Grape Ape and Ernest)
  • Christmas Ape Goes to Summer Camp (ref. Ernest Goes to Camp, Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July)

Celebrity funerals

  • Herschel Shmoikel Krustofsky, aka Krusty the Clown
  • André the Giant, We Hardly Knew Ye (ref. Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye)
  • Shemp Howard: Today We Mourn A Stooge

Musicals

  • Stop the Planet of the Apes I Want to Get Off (references Stop the World – I Want to Get Off, a broadway musical from the 60s and Planet of the Apes)