Wednesday, August 31, 2011


If President Harry S. Truman were alive today, you might find him going for high score on Donkey Kong at the new Electric Theatre Vintage Arcade. Yep, the historic square in Independence, Missouri, the town that Harry made famous, is getting its first retro arcade.

This is a dream come true for my pal Mike Freeland who’s been an arcade enthusiast and coin-op collector for over 15 years. I’ve known Mike for at least that many years and he’s always talked about opening an arcade to house his collection of coin-ops. Mike already knows a bit about riding the entrepreneurial merry-go-round as he owns Freeland Photography, a successful photography business in Kansas City. So he’s familiar with the ups and downs of starting a business. Attempting to open a vintage arcade has been just that - full of ups and downs. Really, Mike’s journey has been similar to some of the 8-Bit characters that live in the video games of his collection. Filled with zaps, crashes and new lives! Last year, Ken and Cindy McClain, Independence Square preservationists and business owners, inserted a token into the arcade dream. They own Square Pizza and decided this would be a great temporary location for the arcade. If everything goes as planned, eventually the arcade will move into the old Plaza Theatre building, hence the name Electric Theatre Vintage Arcade. (The name is actually a double homage. First to the old Electric Theatre that used to be located on the square and second to Mike's childhood arcade on the square, the Electric Company Arcade.) I’ve seen some of the plans and designs for this building and when it happens, it should be one of the premier retro arcades in the country.

Apparently, every step of creating the Electric Theatre Arcade is being recorded for a possible documentary. Check out this video.

Electric Theatre Arcade Documentary Pilot from BradJohnson on Vimeo.

Ok, enough of the talk ‘cause the only thing we care about is playing some classic vids!

Visit the Electric Theatre Vintage Arcade at Square Pizza September 2nd-5th during the Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival to play 40 classic arcade games! No quarters or tokens needed as the games will be set on free play. A five dollar admission at the door will be your golden ticket for unlimited play. That’s a bargain ‘cause you know you’d blow five bucks in five minutes just playing Defender. Also, you can pay $10 to come and go all day or $20 for the weekend. Hours for Friday will be Noon to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m -11 p.m. and Monday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. The hours could change, so be sure to visit or email for more information.

Spread the word because if there’s enough interest in the Electric Theatre Vintage Arcade then it will become a permanent place on the Independence Square. We all know that more old school arcades that exist is one step closer to world peace. You want world peace dontcha?

Unfortunately the Electric Theatre Arcade was forced to close by the city of Independence. Hopefully things can be worked out and eventually the arcade will be back.

The Electric Theatre Arcade will be open for four days during Labor Day weekend 2012!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I’ve been going through a bunch of my old VHS tapes and finding shows taped off of Nick at Nite back in the 90’s. The channel was a lot of fun when they featured classic TV shows from the 1950‘s to the 70’s. One of my favorite things about the channel were all the clever bumpers and TV spots during the commercial breaks. Go to YouTube and type Nick at Nite in the search. You’ll find tons of ‘em to watch. For fun, I screen grabbed a handful of title cards used in some of these spots. I love the artwork on these!

The titles in the next group were used for specific shows. My favorite might be the cone of silence one from Get Smart!

I uploaded two Nick at Nite marathon events to YouTube the other day. Click Puf-A-Palooza and The Lost Brady to view.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Here’s the story,
Of a groovy guy,
Who was bringing up some very funky tunes.
All of them were hits of gold,
Like their singer,
Who sometimes softly croons.

Here’s the story,
Of a man named Yakov,
Who was busy with a theater of his own.
In Branson, MO,
A Russian comedian, but was all alone-.

Till the one day when the guy met this Smirnoff,
and they knew their show was much more than a lunch.
That these two,
Must somehow form a morning show.
That’s the way it all became the Brady Brunch,
The Brady Brunch- the Brady Brunch
That’s the way- it became the Brady Brunch.

Honestly I tried to resist posting my feeble parody attempt of the Brady Bunch lyrics, but I just couldn’t help myself. Hey, when you’re in a good mood sometimes you do goofy silly things. How’d I get in this good mood? Well...the "first lady" of Neato Coolville and myself took in a live show this past Saturday. We visited the theater of 80's icon Yakov Smirnoff in Branson, Missouri to see the 70's icon Barry Williams perform his new show, Brady Brunch.

For the past two weeks, Barry has been performing at Yakov’s Branson theater with a show that he’s been working on for a few years. It’s a simple and fun show that celebrates Barry’s career from his days as playing Greg Brady in the Brady Bunch to his many adventures in the entertainment business. He gets the crowd in the groove from the beginning when he comes out as his alter ego, no not Greg, but Johnny Bravo.

After greeting the audience he shares some Brady clips followed by some fun behind the scenes stories. Barry keeps on truckin’ with some 70's tunes and sings some of the biggest hits of the decade. Halfway thru the show, brunch is served. It was a big breakfast type of meal that made us skip lunch. I guess that’s why they call it a brunch! Yakov made us laugh as he helped pass the brunches down the rows. As the audience munched on the brunches, Barry took questions.

This was probably our favorite moment of the show as Barry is at his best when interacting with the audience. I feel sorry for the lady in front of me who I spit pieces of egg on when I laughed too hard. (Just joking! I think I missed her.)

The show took on a more quiet tone after brunch.

Veterans were honored (a Branson show tradition) and Barry shared some meaningful moments about his family along with a nice tribute to his dad. He was a WWII veteran.

He ended the fun with the famous Brady Kids bubblegum hit, It’s a Sunshine Day!

Later, Barry took time to meet and greet anyone who wanted a photo taken with him and an autograph. The "first lady" had her vintage trading card ready for him to sign. (Yep, she’s a Brady collector!)

We were thrilled to hear the announcement that Barry will be back in the fall of 2012 for a more longer and maybe permanent show in Branson. Click here for the scoop.

Heck, he even hinted about a possible Christmas show. Hopefully this will happen and if it really will be a sunshine day! 'bout a photo of a giant Yakov head? Here you go, as found in front of the Yakov Theater.

It's official! Barry is back with shows later this year, including a Christmas show and a full schedule for 2012! 

Saturday, August 06, 2011


In honor of Lucille Ball’s 100th birthday, I’ve scanned this 1953 ad where Lucy and Desi give out some flooring tips.

Thursday, August 04, 2011


Check out this amazing teaser that will bring to life one of the best theme park attractions that never was. My pal David, the curator of Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc., has taken it upon himself to create a short series of animations based after the unproduced Disney World attraction, The Western River Expedition.

Now that you’ve watched the teaser, be sure to haunt Quasi-Interesting Paraphernalia Inc. all this month to catch the WRE animations.

If you’re not familiar with David’s work, here’s a couple of my favorites. Also, you can click here to view more video goodies!

Monday, August 01, 2011


Last week I was on an archaeological dig down in the basement of my parent’s house - the house my brother and I grew up in. In the storage room, I was looking for a lost sketchbook from my Junior High days. The plan was to share some of my kid drawings from the sketchbook, but the bad news is that it still remains hidden or lost. The good news is that I found some random childhood artifacts. Let’s take a look.

The best item is this felt flag my grandma made during the bicentennial.

I was six in ’76 and have so many red, white and blue memories from that year, so this is a special find!

I removed an old tackle box off a bookshelf and lo and behold I found these two stickers stuck on our old shelf. Back in the 70's, this shelf would have been chocked full of comics and various kid books.

The two stickers are part of the 1975 Topps Hysterical History sticker and card set. We loved collecting these stickers and it sure is neat to see 'em still in the same spot after 35+ years.

In a box of old marbles and craft supplies, I found this green rubber Chewbacca that probably came from a gumball machine. He looks like he’s hailing a cab.

I was a gumball machine junkie, but I don’t have any memories of this Chewie. I like how it was molded from the original action figure.

Next up is this wood dog plaque. There should be another one of these somewhere as my brother and I both had one.

In the photo below - I’m not sure who the armless man is nor do I know the origin of the little toy rifle. That red speaker box came from my C.B. McHaul trucker toy by Mego. 10-4 Rubber Duck! I played like I had my very own C.B. back during my truck driver phase. Back then, I either wanted to be a truck driver or an astronaut when I grew up. Neither career choice panned out and sadly, this red box is the only thing left of C.B. McHaul set.

E is for Boba! My brother was also down visiting and cleaned out his old trunk full of books in the storage room. (I’ll be presenting a few of these during the Halloween countdown in October.)

Inside the trunk he discovered this Boba Fett sticker had been guarding his books for the past 30 years. Job well done, Mr. Fett!

A book we found in the trunk was this 1964 Science Puzzlers by Scholastic. Here’s a few illustrations from inside.

Let's end this random “look what I found” post with this fun illustration. I scanned it from a package of Dennison stencils that was buried beneath a pile of books.

In the near future I plan to do some more digging in our storage room and maybe I'll have some more random things to show. Hopefully one of those things will be my sketchbook!