Arcades In The ’80s – We Went OUT To Play Video Games!

 Chuck E. Cheese’s in New Jersey – 1984 (Photo from Sulaco99)
I found Sulaco99‘s photo in the Flickr Pool: Growing Up In Arcades 1979-1989

It’s impossible not to sound super old when talking about arcades. Kids nowadays get a big laugh out of the fact that we used to actually go out to an arcade to play video games. Even though most of us eventually had an Atari home system growing up, we still blew our pocket full of quarters in the ominous looking Star Wars Arcade game at the local Space Port in the mall – at least I know I did! The ultra high tech, home based and portable video games of today are no longer the multi-faceted sensory ritual they used to be in the ’80s.

Even though video games have evolved so much from a technical aspect, they are no longer the full blown experience they once were. Sure, new games can immerse us into the creepily realistic world of a first person shooter on X-Box or PS3, with 3-D graphics that will make us question whether we’re in our living room or some chemical plant fighting bad guys, but it’s not the same. Nothing can compare to the feeling I used to get before hopping into the Space Harrier arcade game at RazMaTazz in Sayreville, NJ!

In the arcade, so much care was put into designing the game cabinets that housed the screen, joystick, and buttons. If the artwork on the side panels wasn’t elaborate and eye catching enough, we might’ve passed right by it. You don’t have to slip quarters into your home console or your tiny portable, you don’t even have to go to a store to purchase a game anymore! At this point in time we can beam a game directly to our home console in literally under a minute.

The communal aspect of physically being in the same dark room and hearing the same fusion of sound effects from various games around the room with button tapping and click clacking as the back beat, and even gaining an occasional crowd to root you on has evolved into a primarily home based adventure. This transition is much like the way Netflix and Redbox have made some of us opt to stay home rather than go to the movies.

There’s plenty of gamers much older than me who have moved with the ever changing technology. Personally, I’ve never played a game against someone online and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t want to wear a headset while playing, nor do I care to hear people talking video game trash in my ear. If they were physically beside me in a black lit room, eyes transfixed on the action on the glowing screen, playing a finger numbingly competitive game of WWF WRESTLEFEST, I would welcome the trash talkin’. I think my days of video gaming are tucked away with my memories of my beloved Sega Master System.

Back Off Man, I’m From New Jersey!

Aside from having tons of rain here in the toxic waste capital of the world, it turned out to be a momentous week since we saw the release of Ghostbusters: The Video Game and the original film on Blu-Ray.

I had a feeling that GB on Blu-Ray wasn’t too much different from the previous DVD releases, but it didn’t stop me from ripping open the cellophane on both of these suckers. Straight into the PS3 the game disc went. The video game took what felt like 70 minutes to process its initial 4 GB load, so I entertained myself by actually reading the booklet that was inside the game case. Once I thumbed through the first few pages, I noticed New Jersey reference #1 right here:


As Ray Stantz began to teach me the art of “ghost wrangling,” I hit the ground running. I’d say I’m not bad at throwing a proton stream, but I still need more practice. It would be a stretch to say that I was as quick a learner as Winston Zeddemore, but I am NO Louis Tully and let’s leave it at that. The rest of the Ghostbusters crew talked to me after I captured a few ghosts in the sub-basement of the firehouse, and that’s when it happened! New Jersey reference #2! It seemed to good to be true, so I captured it on video so you would all have no choice but to believe me:

What’s with the connection between Ghostbusters and New Jersey? Here are some links to my previous posts regarding The Ghostbusters and New Jersey phenomenon:

Christmas Gifts: Better Late Than Never

Back in November, I made a Christmas list just like I’ve made every year since I was a little kid. I did NOT make a “Bucket List.” I wanted to make that clear from jump street. I do regret not having the chance to share with you some of the cool stuff I got for Christmas, so let’s hop in the DeLorean, (which I’ve adorned with a festive wreath) blast the modified Huey Lewis song “Three Weeks Back in Time,” and kick it up to 88 mph.
Many of the bloggers I read have offered detailed posts about their haul of gifts they received for Christmas. For me, this year was pretty light as far as quantity goes, but heavy on the quality. The PS3 was the most prestigious gift and one I know I’ll be getting many hours of enjoyment from. I can’t wait for the games DCU OnlineLegends of Wrestlemania, and Ghostbusters to be released for the system. I was also pumped that I got The Dark Knight and Step Brothers on Blu Ray. A few requisite pieces of clothing and several other perennial Christmas gift favorites came my way, and I was happy with everything. I’m not the type of person to not appreciate a gift. I’m happy to be receiving A gift let alone several of them. 
First, let me tell about a couple of books that I unwrapped:
I’m a huge fan of Disneyana so The Walt Disney World Trivia Book by Louis A. Mongello was right up my alley. The first page I opened to gave me a little piece of rock and roll info: Did you know that Steve Tyler and Joe Perry rode the Aerosmith Rockin’ Roller Coaster 12 times when they came to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (MGM) for a preview? These are the kind of tidbits I like to dish out when other people are in a serious conversation about global warming. Seriously, you know the next time you go on that ride you’re going to tell whoever you’re with, or whoever’s in range of hearing your voice. There’s plenty of other obscure facts in the book that’ll definitely make you sound like a Disney expert!

The next book was a monster called 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: A Listener’s Life List by Tom Moon.  I love books like this because they often refer me to new songs or artists that I can add to my repertoire. It’s kind of like the feeling a girl gets when she goes into a shoe store, or a place that sells pocket books like the “Pocket Book Emporium.” Take it easy ladies, I just made that up.
I’m not supporting the term that’s presently being shoved down our throats by these brilliant journalists, (even before the movie came out) “bucket lists.” How many more books and magazine article titles can we read that say “…blah blah…BEFORE YOU DIE.” The most beautiful places in the world you MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE.”  I feel like I’m in some sort of warped death countdown. Please, we are all already aware that we are going to die someday, but I for one am trying to pretend that that day is still very far away. 
I don’t appreciate that I’m being pressured into thinking that I have to cram in traveling the world, donning my cap in the old Yankee Stadium, and having a 69 with Marisa Tomei while skydiving all before I die. None of those things are going to happen, nor do I even care about experiencing the first two, or even the third for that matter. You see, the 69 would have to take place on the plane before we put on all our gear because it would be too much of a bitch to unzip and tear it all off taking terminal velocity into consideration. When we land, I’m hoping I don’t die before I can parachute right into the parking lot of the local T.G.I Fridays, detach our chutes, and walk in and declaring “hey, we aren’t weird or anything.” After being greeted by the hostess and getting a few strange looks after asking to be seated (as long as we are making our last will and testament, I’ll opt to make the “I just flew in and boy my arms are tired” joke. Marisa bowls over in laughter commenting on how cute and funny I am. She then says something to the effect “Oh my God Jay, the feeling of winning an Oscar is nothing compared to how you make me feel when I’m with you.” Then a group of ’80s looking peeps come over to our booth (I requested the booth cause I’m near death and I feel I deserve special treatment because having a booth is on my bucket list.) Well lookie who we have here! It’s Katrina and the Waves singing Walking on Sunshine, which is a song that miraculously just plays whenever we are enjoying ourselves in any context. Sometimes it just plays when we are in a park, or as a matter of fact, anywhere where there are no speakers or stereo equipment. It’s hard to not continue laughing and purposely do more stuff that’s goofy when the song is playing. We bring all the shenanigans to a gradual close with a poignant kiss, and then we order the fish tacos and share a giant strawberry lemonade.
I’m now hereby referring to it as a “FUCK IT LIST.” You see, it rhymes with bucket! This is the list of times where you say “Ah FUCK IT, I’m going to die anyway right?” If I had a Prune Face Power of the Force collectible coin for every time I’ve heard someone say that I’d have amassed the galaxy’s largest collection of Prune Face Power of the Force collectible coins. Now that’s sure to get this country’s economy right back on track. Just knowing that all of the Prune Face coins are all concentrated in one spot will allow the federal reserve to rest easy rather than to worry that the coins are scattered all over the globe in old basements, toy chests, buried in backyards, or laying at the bottom of a sewer drain.
What was my point with that whole tangent? That bucket lists are moronic, nay…the idea of making a list for personal motivation is fine but why do we constantly have to buy into people’s lame trendy, phrases? What’s on my bucket list? To find the EXACT PERSON WHO CAME UP WITH THIS STUPID FUCKING MADE UP NAME AND KICK THEIR ASS UNTIL THEY OFFICIALLY RELINQUISH THE NAME AND WRITE A NOTARIZED LETTER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA WARNING JOURNALISTS AND COLUMNISTS NEVER, EEEEVVVVER, TO USE THIS TERM AGAAAAAIIINNN!
“…Where’s the Tylenol?” 
Welcome back folks! 


Perhaps the gift most worthy of mentioning here on The Armpit, just for its sheer appropriateness, was one I gave rather than received. My father and uncle were both recipients of The Sopranos Chianti. If you’re Italian and from Jersey, you are almost certainly a Sopranos fan. Actually, if you are a living, breathing, human with a modicum of

appreciation for good television, then at the very least you should respect the show. You don’t want to see what happens when you disrespect it! 
Even though The Sopranos is gone, it’s spirit can live on in your wine glass during Sunday’s macaroni dinner. It’s pretty much just your basic Chianti, but it’s got an awesome Sopranos sticker on it which makes it fully connected to the show. If the makers of the Sopranos Chianti really wanted to make it something special they would’ve taken a cue from KISS in 1977 when they poured vials of their own blood into the red ink for their first Marvel comic book. All of the actors should’ve donated blood and then we could truly “drink in” the show. I’m messing with you, I obviously don’t have any interest in drinking blood! Well, I guess only if I was allowed to perform a bass solo, spit the blood out all over the place and wag my tongue. That’s 2 KISS mentions in one paragraph! Gene you now owe me $0.03 cents fucker!
My dad went all out this year and found a classic Christmas gift for me. He got me this really sharp Armitron Batman watch:


This watch is a perfect gift for me since I’m a huge bat-fan. Some other Batman watches I’ve seen don’t possess the same quality or look as badass as this one. The watch is reasonably priced on Amazon.
As always, I had a highly enjoyable Christmas and I was treated tremendously. I know I’m getting old when I start saying stuff like “Christmas isn’t about the gifts,” and “I’m just happy to be together with the family.” No, in all seriousness, Fah who-for-aze and all that kind of stuff! I can’t wait ’til next year!

Would YOU Let Santa Claus Drive Your Corvette?

I’m surprised and excited to see how many houses have been decorated for Christmas this year. On my way home from work every day, I pass through so many towns and as Paul Stanley says “They’re lit up like a damn Christmas Tree!” It seems like there’s more Christmas spirit in New Jersey this year than ever before. Whatever the reason is, it’s an excellent feeling! People’s displays have grown more elaborate and creative. In fact, while riding through Fair Haven, NJ last weekend we saw this Corvette parked on someone’s lawn:

Take a closer look and you’ll see Santa behind the wheel about to take the ‘vette out for a spin:
That’s a pretty awesome lawn decoration if you ask me. I don’t think you’ll be able to pick that one up at Wal-Mart! 
For all the good that Santa’s done throughout time, I still don’t think that’s enough to make me let him borrow my Corvette to deliver presents. We have no idea what kind of driving record he has. They could drive like assholes up in the North Pole. If the elves get licenses then I’ll give a definitive “NO” on that one. Besides, isn’t St. Nick all tanked up on spiked Egg Nogg he drinks at houses all over the world? Isn’t that what makes him so jolly in the first place? We wouldn’t want him getting a DWI, so let’s have him stick to flying around in his sleigh. 

JAY: You’re not getting my keys, Santa! 
SANTA CLAUS: Ho, Ho, Ho, we’ll see about that! How bad do you want that PS3 for Christmas?!?! Ho, Ho, Ho!
JAY: I’ll forget about the PS3 for now, just as long as you don’t crash my beautiful Corvette and turn it into a red and white yuletide mess. Oh, and toll prices just went up so it’ll be cheaper if you hop in you’re sleigh.
SANTA CLAUS: Ho, Ho, Ho! Jay, I’m going through a mid-life crisis times 3. Can’t I just take the ‘vette for a few minutes? Mrs. Claus never lets me have ANY fun. She took away my copy of Transformers on DVD because she said I was staring a hole in Megan Fox. I’m not even allowed to go to Hooters up in the North Pole. And if you haven’t noticed, all of Santa’s helpers are all gay males. I lead a sad, boring life. C’mon, help a brutha out.
JAY: OK, OK, but you’re going to owe me BIG time if you crash it!
SANTA CLAUS: Yeah right, after I got you everything you asked for every Christmas? Batman, He-Man, WWF, Star Wars, Thundercats, I gave it all to you! You weren’t that good this year anyway! So I owe you nothing bub! 
JAY: You know what Santa, you can f—ing walk!
Friends don’t let Santa Claus drive drunk.
A Public Service Announcement from the Ad Council and Mrs. Claus.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol. 3: Extreme Ghostbusters “The Jersey Devil Made Me Do It”

Living without any form of Ghostbusters for the last 11 years has been difficult. Even though Extreme Ghosbusters didn’t feature the original team, it was good enough for me just to know that some variety of Ghostbusters was still being created. I used to miss the episodes though because they aired at a period of time when I was taking advantage of sleeping past 9 or 10 AM on the weekends.
The Sexy Armpit hails The Extreme Ghostbusters episode “The Jersey Devil Made Me Do It.” It’s a mystery to me why their hasn’t been a big budget horror film based off the Jersey Devil, our local legend. There’s been a few movies (Last Broadcast, 13th Child, and Satan’s Playground) based off the Jersey Devil and loads of books and documentaries but not much else. Growing up in New Jersey, and knowing this creature haunted the Pine Barrens in South Jersey for hundreds of years, pretty much scared the crap out of us all when were were kids.
In this Extreme G.B episode, the gang is on a trip to a paranormal conference in Atlantic City. The crew mentions they are in the “middle of nowhere,” which is pretty much accurate since that’s how it feels when you’re riding through the Pine Barrens on your way to A.C. They paint South Jersey to pretty much be a hicksville and that’s basically what it is. If you’re visiting parts of South Jersey that aren’t located near the shore, it feels like the in-bred mutants from the movie Wrong Turn are going to come out of nowhere and try to eat you. The town they reference in the episode, “Hanover,” is actually in North Jersey. Even though the Ghostbusters were traveling from New York, they wouldn’t head all the way to Hanover to go all the way down to A.C. They probably just used the name for the episode.
And YES, there’s more to the Jersey Devil than just “the hockey team.” According to the episode the Jersey Devil is “…Jersey’s most famous native after that Springsteen kid…” Regardless of his fame they should’ve kept his appearance under wraps for a little while longer. We get to see what he looks like right from the start of the episode. How about a shot of his tail, then later a glimpse of his wing? The Devil’s appearance was freaky but it was too large and overly demonic looking. Also, most of the legends would describe him as unable to fly well, even though many accounts said that he did have wings. It wasn’t as if he was always in flight, he did more of a jump with some occasional wing flapping. Not that I know from experience or anything! The Jersey Devil in this episode looked more like a mix of a dragon and a pig or rhinoceros.
I haven’t watched this series since it first aired in ’97 and it just made me more anxious for a Ghostbusters series. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the PS3 game! Be sure to listen for a callback to Venkman in the first Ghostbusters movie: “Nice Shooting Tex.” Oh and in case you were wondering, Janine Melnitz wasn’t as hot in the Extreme Ghostbusters series.

Questionable Best Buy Ad

I’ve been meaning to get to this one but I’ve been so behind since the holidays rolled around. This picture was on the back cover of a Best Buy catalog a month or two before Christmas. When I first thumbed through the catalog and looked at the back, I had to squint and take a closer look. At first glance, it’s a picture of a family playing the new Playstation 3 on their flat screen TV. The father is all frustrated because of his apparent humiliating loss to his pre-historic son who just happens to be good at video games. It looked to me as if the people in the picture are actually wax statues ripped out of a museum display. What’s with the kid? It looks like he was created by Sid and Marty Krofft! Where the hell is Cha-Ka? What kid has hair like that? Who was his stylist Captain Caveman? Considering he’s from the Stone Age, how the heck did he get so damn good at video games? AND why is he wearing the boys winter wardrobe from K-Mart circa 1976? I haven’t seen a haircut like this since the Paleolithic era. The mother looks like she should be weaving a basket or gathering corn. The father looks like he just got knocked upside the head by a dinosaur fossil.
Some strange things are happening in this picture. Take a look at the kid’s right hand, he clearly cannot make a full fist. This is the direct opposite of his mother who seems to be hailing a taxi that’s passing across the living room. It’s gotta be chilly in the room as well because she’s got a scarf on. You have to wonder what’s on the kid’s mind now that the father has been rendered unconscious from the nasty blow to his head from that huge brontosaurus fossil. You can’t tell if he wants to chomp down on his mother or totally try to bang her. Maybe the kid is bowing to her and she’s the almighty ruler of the Gelflings.
I urge you to ask yourselves, is this the type of picture that makes you want to run right out and buy a Playstation 3? Personally I feel my thoughts are distracted far away from the what was supposed to be the PS3 phenom. I find myself being more concerned with knowing if the kid is related to Teen Wolf in any way. Is this ad the reason why PS3 failed to hit as big as it was supposed to? To quote SNL “Who are the Ad Wizards that came up with this one?” I think the true burning question that arises from viewing this picture is: IS THIS THE MODERN STONE AGE FAMILY?

A Very Vital Billy Idol Christmas

How the Pam Anderson/Kid Rock split is at the top of all the news updates is beyond me. At this point I’m curious to know who still cares about that storyline unless you are a hardcore Kid Rock or Pam Anderson fan. (who are you people???)

Now onto what should be at the forefront of the news, my recent purchases.

First, I was in the grocery store to get a cold beverage because I was parched. There I found the always satisfying Vitamin Water. Keep in mind that I have tasted every flavor that has existed except the one that I found on Friday. Vital-T is supposed to taste like Lemon Iced Tea, but it unfortunately tastes like Pledge, or Pine Sol. It’s really awful in comparison with the other flavors. The great part of Vitamin Water is that unlike other beverages it’s low in sugar, has vitamins, and a light feel to it. This Vital-T had a syrupy aftertaste and it just wasn’t all that refreshing. You can try it for yourself and let me know what you think.

My second purchase was the pièce de resistance. And no, it wasn’t a portable DVD player for $13 dollars. Why are they still such a hot commodity? While some people were clamoring for the sales on the big ticket items and the sought after stuff like PS3 and Wii, I’m always keeping an eye out for that little known gem of an item. One that will make my eyes glow and make me belt out Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas, Come this way! Ok well, I didn’t quite sing in the middle of Best Buy but I pretty much geeked out when my eyes locked on this cd like Maverick can lock a mig 28. The cover of the CD had a picture of a very familiar bleach blonde rocker. And no, I didn’t geek out for “Poison your Egg Nogg: A VERY Bret Michaelsy Christmas.” It was one of the most badass rockers from my childhood…BILLY IDOL! It was none other than the “Billy Idol, Happy Holidays” CD! I couldn’t believe what I saw because I usually never let stuff like that slip by my radar but for some reason I hadn’t heard about this one. I’m sure it will become a perennial favorite like his “Yellin’ at the Christmas Tree” track from Devil’s Playground. On New Year’s Eve if you listen closely you may be able to hear the faint tones of “Auld Lang Syne” coming from my Ipod sung by the one and only BILLY IDOL!

Pilgrimage to the store on the Black Friday before Survivor Series

It’s pretty crazy that Thanksgiving is just about a week away. I know it’s been said a million times before but Thanksgiving is really just an afterthought. I feel bad for the Holiday. When I was a kid there was so much more meaning to Thanksgiving. It stood on its own more than it does now. It had more personality. Nowadays it seems that the capitalism and the Christmas holiday have stole some of Thanksgiving’s thunder. What a shame! I’ve been seeing Christmas commercials for weeks now. The day after Thanksgiving we are officially in the Christmas season, they won’t let you wait til you digest your freakin 20 lb. turkey! I remember the days of making pilgrim hats out of cardboard in school, and learning about crops that Native Americans cultivated, and of course WATCHING SURVIVOR SERIES!!!

Yes, the WWE (then WWF) and Thanksgiving used to go hand in hand. They had a steady relationship for many years when I was growing up. The Survivor Series was known as the “Thanksgiving Tradition.” It was pretty cool because none of the Pay Per View events were associated with a Holiday on a consistent basis. This gave us fans double the reason to look forward to November. To build up the excitement, each week they ran the Survivor Series Report which kept us updated on the card and what new matches would take place. The anticipation was ridiculous especially when you are young kid. It was so much fun to have the WWE event and the big family gathering to look forward to each year. They just don’t do it like they used to. This year Thanksgiving is on Thursday and Survivor Series isn’t until Sunday. I can’t stand that the PPV’s are on Sundays, I’d much rather Friday or Saturday. I guess they figure people are more apt to watch TV then go out on a Sunday night. Regardless, the Thanksgiving Holiday needs to MAN UP! I’m looking forward to the event either way.

Remember people – you have 24 hours on November 23rd to give thanks. Once it hits the 24th your window of opportunity to offer your thanks is done so make it count. If you really want to thank Beyonce for being your inspirational leader then by all means do so but don’t forget that if you keep wasting time thanking people you might not be able to make it to the stores on Black Friday at 3 AM for the crazy insane sales. Don’t be shutout.

I mean these savings are out of this world. Forget 3 AM, be there at midnight. You’ll get $3 DVD players and it’ll come with a free couch. You’ll wait on line for 7 hours and 2 people will get their hands on the coveted PS3 even though everyone on line had a ticket. Somewhere when you lost feeling in your face because of the frigid cold you missed the store associate yelling out that they only had 2 PS3 units to sell. Then of course you need to buy that new ironing board because they’re throwing in a free meat and cheese set and Aunty Helen really loves that shit. At one of the stores you can get an entertainment center with a free surround sound system AND they’ll pay off the rest of your mortgage. I hear even Quick Check and Hess Express are blowing out boxes of cigarettes for half off so you can stuff people’s stockings. This year the bigger stores are even setting up a ring in the middle of the stores so the customers can solve all of their fighting and bickering about who got the last dinosapien. Fran from Old Bridge said she had her pinky on the box before Lee-Ann from Staten Island ripped it from her clutches so little Giacomo can have a swell Christmas this year.
FRAN: “My son loves the robo dinasours, he’s crazy about them.”
Lee-Ann: “Fuck him, yaw a fuckin’ whooore… the DINOSAPIEN IS MINE BITCH, let’s solve this in the ring, matta a fact it’s now the fuckin’ Surviva Series.”
Fuck all these stores and the freaks that go out on Black Friday. Stay home and sleep you idiots!!!