From roughly 1993 until 2006, I pretty much avoided all Pop Culture. I was instead into (in no particular order) South Jersey youth culture, Philadelphia street culture, 18th century Victorian novels, 19th century romantic literature, 20th century modernist poetry, and a little post-modernist painting thrown in for good measure. Any album by the Swirlies, any song by the Lilys, a lot of bad hardcore, and any orchestral performance conducted by George Szell or Fritz Reiner. Among way many other things, for over a decade.
Meanwhile, I grew up pretty much inhaling everything Pop Culture had to offer — although as I grew older I became a little more selective (i.e. I would choose Motley Crue over, say, Paula Abdul, though to be fair I could hum you the tune to pretty much any of her Top Forty hits). And then, for ten years, I avoided it, and focused — often quite intently — on other, much more specific things. In retrospect, what I was doing was giving myself an Education. As any scholar will tell you, a true student never graduates, which is why if you dug in my bookbag today you’d find Nabokov’s Lecture’s in Literature. But check tomorrow and you may find the lectures replaced with a Marvel Essentials edition of Howard the Duck. Who’s to say? These days, there are no more rules.
All of us here at the Daily Miltonian — and we are legion — love Contemporary Pop Culture. Sure, we think a lot of it is Terrible and Inane and Awful, but that’s kind of the point of being a Fan. You just Take It All In. We especially like Pop Junk from our own particular Pop Histories conveniently repackaged, sold to us at a reasonable (i.e. under ten bucks) price, and portable to the point of fitting in our pocket. Here’s some current, deep interest items that we’ve been digging, lately.
Dragon’s Lair on the iPhone/iPod Touch
I mean hell yeah, really? They made this? And yet wait, well will ya look at that, they did. If you spent any time in 1980’s arcades — and we spent most of our time in them — you know what it was like to stand in a line, waiting to play this game, and then your turn came, and you plunked in your quarter, and you died, like, immediately. But this was a death that you loved. Well, now you can do it, fail awesomely, anywhere you go.
I will never forget seeing this thing in action for the first time at the Showbiz Pizza in Wilmington where my mom used to take me for the glorious combination of pizza and arcade games. Remember, this is 1983, when the top games were Zaxxon, Burgertime, Mappy, and Q*Bert. You walk into a room of those things and suddenly there’s this one screen where it looks like the kid in front of it is controlling an full-on fucking cartoon. Like, really? How?! As it turns out, you only sort of control it, but no matter. There was nothing stopping me from trying to beat this thing over and over again, and, as arcade machines were programmed to do in those days, constantly getting my ass kicked. Never mind that the animation was by Don Bluth, whose completely perfect Secret of NIMH blew me away on the silver screen just the year prior. Never mind that inside the machine was an actual LASERDISC, yeah that’s right those proto-DVDs that had come out after Compact Discs but had somehow traveled back in time to 1983 to power this God-Ruling game. All that mattered was Dragon’s Lair was, and remains now on my iPod to be one hundred percent absolutely and totally bona fide AWESOMESAUCE.
Duuuuuude Did We Mention You Can Now Also Get Space Ace?
Because you can. Also animated by Don Bluth, this Laserdisc classic came out in 1984 and is equally, exactly equally as awesomesauce as Dragon’s Lair. Today is pretty much a complete ruler thanks to our newfound knowledge of these two Truly Essential re-releases. If you have no access to an iPod or an iPhone, the Daily Miltonian suggests warping time and space reality to clip the below coupons from off of your screen and visiting a circa 1983 Showbiz Pizza (replete with a come-to-think-of-it-kinda-no-make-that-TOTALLY-creepy-mechanical-singing-bear…and friends). It should go without saying that we’ll see you there.