Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Coronavirus Update - Working From Home - Autographed Brett Weiss Books for Sale

I'm lucky to be able to write from home. I know many others are much less fortunate. However, since many of the conventions I planned on doing this year have been cancelled, I do have extra books for sale that I can sign and ship to U.S. residents. Click HERE to order direct.

My forthcoming book, The NES Omnibus Vol. 1, remains on schedule for the fall since Schiffer Publishing is still in operation (employees are currently working remotely). Click HERE to pre-order the book.

For extra content, and to show support for my work, you can check out my Patreon page and become a member for as little as $1 per month. Click HERE.

Thanks! Like everyone else, I'm just trying to figure things out in this new/temporary economy. I hope you guys stay safe, healthy, and productive during this difficult time. If you've got extra time on your hands, check out my YouTube videos HERE.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Exclusive Interview With GameStop Employee About Staying Open



After I published my YouTube video explaining my opinion on GameStop staying open during this difficult time in our country, a GameStop employee reached out to me for an interview on the condition that he remain anonymous, and with the following disclaimer: “These are my opinions, and I'm not speaking as a representative of a GameStop store or the GameStop corporation.

Without further ado, here’s that interview.

BRETTWEISS: What were you told by management regarding keeping GameStop open?

GAMESTOP EMPLOYEE: We were told that, starting tomorrow, we will condense our hours to being open from 12-8 each day.

WEISS: What are some of the things they’ve told you to do to keep safe?

EMPLOYEE: We’re basically following CDC guidelines. We are only letting 10 people in the store at a time, including the staff. They've given us extra hours to use so we can have someone work as basically a bouncer to control the flow of people coming into the store. We also stopped taking in trade. This probably won’t have much effect on not spreading the virus from just not having the items come in, but it does limit the traffic into the store and keeps people there for much shorter amounts of time. 

WEISS: Have they supplied you with things you need to keep you and your customers safe? If so, what?

EMPLOYEE: As far as sanitation supplies, this is probably the one negative thing I've seen on social media that is true. They allotted each store money to buy disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer, but have left us to figure out how to get it ourselves. We now have a timer that goes off every 30 minutes to remind us to wash our hands and sanitize the credit card machines, counters, and door handles.

WEISS: How is business? What have customers said about you guys staying open?

EMPLOYEE: Business is crazy. My store was projected to do $4000 in business for the day due to Animal Crossing and DOOM launches, and we had done $7000 by the time I left with eight hours still to go until closing. We have sold out of almost every game console we have. Customers in general have been extremely positive. I've had a couple ask me what will happen to their $5 pro membership rewards they get each month if we close for an extended period of time, but I haven't been given anything from higher to tell them other than we don't currently expect to close down. No one has openly criticized us in the store for being open, but I suppose that would make them look pretty hypocritical for being there shopping

WEISS: Anything else you care to share about GameStop staying open during this time?

EMPLOYEE: I'd just like to add that I don't know corporate’s true intentions for us staying open.  I'm sure it's based partially off of fear that s prolonged closing could be the death blow to the company. With that being said, I personally feel like I'm providing an essential service. I know this might sound crazy, but mental health is almost as important as physical health during times like this, and as you know video games do a lot in that regard for a whole lot of people. I served 10 years in the army, and I get a similar feeling from being able to do this as I did from protecting people while serving overseas. I also don't get the impression that anyone would get fired if they said they didn't feel comfortable coming to work. That's just my opinion about my particular store, though. Could be completely different elsewhere

WEISS: Great stuff, I really appreciate it. Any closing remarks you’d like to make?

EMPLOYEE: I think that memo that leaked could have been worded much better. Personally, I would have put that out over a conference call. I think it's a bit too important and damaging to just send as an email. We do sell webcams, mice, and keyboards, so there is some truth to the part about helping with those that are telecommuting to work. Though I think that would be a tough sell from a legal standpoint, given the fact that those items don't even make up 1% of our total revenue.

Monday, March 16, 2020

FREE BOOK! - Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films



Since so many people have downtime right now, I've posted a FREE digital copy of my Retro Pop Culture book for ANYONE who wants it. Since Patreon is the easiest way to distribute a PDF, I've posted it on my page, but you don't have to be a member since it's a public post. Enjoy and be safe! Click here:
https://www.patreon.com/posts/free-book-for-to-34936833

Retro Pop Culture A to Z: From Atari 2600 to Zombie Films is a window to the past—a time of 8-bit video games, Silver Age super-heroes, Saturday morning cartoons, rock ’n’ roll music, and scary movies at the drive-in. The book includes 60 fun-filled, feature-length chapters on such icons of popular culture as Alien, the Batman TV show, the Beatles, Dynamite Magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, The Flash, Forbidden Planet, Golden Age arcade games, He-Man, the Intellivision, Jaws, MAD magazine, the Nintendo NES, Ray Bradbury, The Wizard of Oz, the X-Men, and many others. If you’ve ever stayed up all night trying to beat Super Mario Bros., dressed up as a member of KISS on Halloween, watched Thundarr the Barbarian while eating a bowl of sugary cereal, set a VCR to record your favorite show, wiled away an entire day reading a stack of old comics, or listened to Elvis or the Rolling Stones on a turntable or 8-track tape player, Retro Pop Culture A to Z is for you. If you haven’t done any of these things, no problem—feel free to dive right in and discover why your parents (or grandparents) are always talking about “the good old days.” Includes: *60 essays/articles on nostalgic pop culture favorites *More than 200 photos *More than 115,000 words *Quotes from the experts *Production histories *Collectibles pricing *Author anecdotes *And much more!

Sunday, March 1, 2020

PRE-ORDER NOW - The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-L)




NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER IN THE U.S.!

The NES Omnibus: The Nintendo Entertainment System and Its Games, Vol. 1 (A-L), covers the first half of the NES library in exhaustive and engaging detail. More than 350 games are featured, including such iconic titles as CastlevaniaDonkey KongDouble DragonDuck HuntFinal Fantasy, and The Legend of Zelda. Each game, whether obscure or mainstream, is given the spotlight. In addition to thorough gameplay descriptions, the book includes reviews, memories, historical data, quotes from vintage magazines, and, best of all, nostalgic stories about many of the games from programmers, authors, YouTube celebs, and other industry insiders. The book also features more than 1,500 full-color images, including box art, screenshots, and vintage ads. Foreword by The Goldbergs creator Adam F. Goldberg!



Pre-Order Options




Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sonic the Hedgehog - Movie Review

I thoroughly enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog. I wasn’t expected Casablanca or The Maltese Falcon, but I was worried it would be lame, even with the character redesign. But it was a lot of fun, from the swipes at Super Mario Bros. to the speedy humor to the fantastic credits scene with the 16-bit graphics. Directed by Jeff Fowler, the film starred James Marsden, Tika Sumpter, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough, Adam Pally, and Jim Carrey, and they all did a great job. Ben Schwartz was energetic and funny voicing Sonic himself, and Carrey was his maniacal, 1990s self as we knew him in The Mask and Ace Ventura Pet Detective. You can watch my full review by clicking HERE.

Conversely, Simon Abrams, writing for www.rogerebert.com, hated the movie. He wrote, “Sonic the Hedgehog is the worst kind of bad movie: it's too inoffensive to be hated and too wretched to be enjoyable. You might think that this movie’s sad limbo state has something to do with the extensive and well-publicized last-minute animation redesign that made titular woodland creature Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) look more like Sega’s famous video game character. You’d be wrong: Sonic the Hedgehog is rotten because it, like too many other modern blockbusters, was seemingly made by an imaginatively bankrupt creative committee with more ideas for jokes than actual jokes to tell, and more cookie-cutter, place-holder dialogue about the power of friendship than something (anything) to say about that boilerplate quality.”

Movies like Sonic the Hedgehog aren’t intended for critics. They’re fun popcorn movies aimed at kids, families, pop culture buffs, comedy adventure fans, and fans of the franchise. I thought it was a blast.

I reviewed another good movie recently called Not for Resale. It’s about the death of physical media and stars several of my friends, including Kelsey Lewin and Joe Santulli. You can watch my video review HERE and read my written review HERE.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Movie Review - Not for Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary


Movie Review: Not for Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary

I love video game documentaries. I even wrote the foreword to the DVD and Blu-ray release of one called The Bits of Yesterday. So, when I heard about Not for Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary, I was pumped. When I heard that some of my friends were going to be in the film, I was even more excited. After watching the movie yesterday, I can tell you I was not disappointed. Not even a little bit.

As everyone knows, physical media is dying. At least it’s on life support. It will probably never go away entirely, thanks to niche projects and the need to put something on the shelves at Walmart, but more and more people, especially younger folks, are consuming music, movies, and video games through downloads and streaming services.

Not for Resale examines this phenomenon in fine fashion. By interviewing retro game store owners like Joe Santulli (Digital Press) and James Ainesworth (Thrillhouse Games), viewers get the inside scoop on what the lack of physical media may mean to the future of their retail outlets, which largely deal in used games. There will likely be relatively few physical releases for the next big consoles—the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X—resulting in a dearth of used product to sell for these systems a few years down the road.

As Santulli says in the film, “Most kids are getting games from their couch.”

As such, many retro gaming stores could suffer the same fate as Blockbuster Video. The problem is concerning, but there are potential solutions. For example, Pink Gorilla co-owner Kelsey Lewin says in the film that it’s important for her stores to diversify the stock to include peripheral merchandise, such as Mario, Sonic, and Pokemon plushies.

 
Not for Resale does an excellent job explaining the positives as well as the negatives of physical media dying off. Downloaded games have little to no resale value (hence the title of the movie), and slow internet speeds in certain rural areas make downloading games difficult. However, as Frank Cifaldi, the director of the Video Game History Foundation, explains in the film, it’s much easier and cheaper to produce downloadable games, giving independent programmers the ability to “make games for Nintendo consoles out of their homes.” Console Wars author Blake Harris adds that there’s no need to worry about chip shortages, like what happened with the NES in 1988.  

Some documentaries have a bit of a cheap look and feel, even while providing useful information, but Not for Resale has very nice production values. The visuals are crystal clear, and director Kevin J. James makes sure to relieve the potential tedium of such subject matter with a variety of camera angles and a variety of indoor and outdoor shots, including a major Sega Saturn transaction between a customer and Santulli. He also infuses the film with personal stories (I love the scene where the interviewee talks about having used rolls of pennies to purchase Donkey Kong for the Atari 2600, then crying because the game was so difficult), which are always welcome for these kinds of films.

Not for Resale: A Video Game Store Documentary is not only a look at what the death of physical media means for the industry moving forward. It’s also a history of the encroachment of digital games into our lives and what video games in general mean to the culture at large. Fittingly enough, you can rent or purchase the movie streaming via Amazon Prime.

Support author Brett Weiss via Patreon by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Ages of The Flash - Book Review!

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s certainly the case with The Ages of The Flash, a newish book by McFarland Publishers. Edited by Joseph J. Darowski, the slim (186 pages) volume features a generic image on the front that evokes the Silver Age version of the Fastest Man Alive, but does not portray his true uniform. I guess the lawyers at DC Comics are waiting to pounce on any unauthorized images of their mainline heroes. Or, perhaps McFarland is just being extra cautious, as they were with my Encyclopedia of KISS, which has a silhouette of Gene Simmons on the cover instead of an actual photo of him.

Regardless, this is an interesting book that covers a wide variety of aspects of the Scarlet Speedster, from “The Birth of the Silver Age Flash” to “The Rise and Fall of Wally West” to “The Persistence of Vision and The New 52,” which was a 2011 revamping and relaunching of the DC Universe superhero line.

I found two chapters in particular especially fascinating. “Politically Incorrect Humor: Examining the Three Dimwits Through a Disability Studies Lens,” which told me more than I thought was possible to know about quirky characters Winky, Noddy, and Blinky from the adventures of Golden Age Flash, and "Barry Allen’s Social Awakening in the 1970s," where Flash stories starting featuring socially relevant storylines. As much as I love whizbang Flash fun, it was cool when the book took on social issues, such as the counterculture movement. Barry Allen grew his hair out a bit and even had a favorite band, Washington Starship, which was a fictionalized Jefferson Starship (complete with Paul and Gracie, which were nods to Paul Kantner and Grace Slick).
 
It’s a shame there are no photos in the book (more fear of DC, I would imagine), so you might want to keep your laptop nearby while you are reading so you can look up certain characters mentioned who you are unfamiliar with. A different author took on each chapter, but you won’t see any comic book writers on the list. Rather, they are English professors, lecturers, philosophers, and the like, so the book has a definite scholarly tone and approach. It’s certainly very well written.

As a massive Flash fan with a near-complete collection of his Silver Age adventures, as well as shelves of memorabilia, I’m happy to have The Ages of the Flash in my collection. It would be nice if there were images to accompany the information (comics are a visual medium, after all), but I definitely learned some new things about my favorite character (several versions of him, in fact), as well as saw him in a new light regarding his place in society. Recommended.

*Thanks to McFarland for sending me a review copy of the book at my request. You can order the book from the publisher HERE