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Photon

Because the archives featured no articles about either Lazer Tag or The Power Glove, aside from some mentions in classifieds, here is a photo from the April 16, 1984, Journal Gazette of a kid decked out in his 'Photon' gear, what was essentially a knock-off brand of Lazer Tag. It's not quite what I looked like on Halloween, but it's close.

Well folks, Halloween and October are both behind us but before we close up shop on my favorite month, there’s a few Halloween-related items left to discuss, all stuff I couldn’t write about before because Halloween hadn’t happened yet.

First up, and I promise to make this as quick as possible given that it’s a topic you’ve already heard me go on about for a month now, but yes, I did manage to finish this year’s “31 Horror Movies in 31 Days” challenge. And just in time, as I watched Number 31 holding my tablet about six inches in front of my face in bed around 10:30 p.m. Halloween Night. Close one.

Somewhere with this column you’ll see the movies I watched along with a rating using my one-to-four star system that my friends think makes no sense. I’ll let all that information stand on its own, although I will point out that, and I don’t care who may tell you otherwise, “The Bye Bye Man” was actually a well-directed little horror movie. And to think I was ready to write “I couldn’t wait to say ‘Bye Bye Man’ to this movie fast enough” in my notes. Shows what I know.

In other, more pressing, Halloween news, I did something this year for the holiday that I hadn’t done in years; yes, I wore a costume, all for the glory of our little Halloween Celebration here at the paper. Now when I first got the email about this one fine morning my initial reaction was a quick “O.k...good to know” before carrying on with my day, relaxed in the knowledge that I was probably just going to bring out my yearly “robot” costume, which consists of me taping a single piece of paper featuring a crudely drawn “control panel” to my chest. It gets the job done, although I always have to point out a little kid drew it because I clearly know that the “button” on the top is misspelled as “Self-Dostroct”. Also…why would I make my own “blow up” button so accessible?

Then, fate intervened; while veering off into the electronics section before getting groceries one evening I found they were selling something called a “1Up Arcade Cabinet,” a product intended to give paunchy dudes like myself desperately attempting to recapture their youth a chance to finally play “Rampage” from a standing position in their living room on a reasonably affordable mini arcade cabinet. As I wheeled my cart away before my hand accidentally reached for my wallet, I started to think…what could be more “on-brand” for me this Halloween than letting the “inside-Clint,” where it’s clearly still 1988, show on the outside by dressing up as “Clint in the ‘80s”? Especially when all I’d need to accomplish this would be stuff from around my place?

Needless to say, I didn’t get off to the best start. For the one item that first came to mind during that video-game inspired moment of clarity before groceries was the one I thing couldn’t find: the Mattel “Power Glove,” which if you don’t remember was a gaming peripheral for the Nintendo Entertainment system that promised the ability to play your video games by simply holding up a gloved hand with buttons all over it, but actually delivered a lot of disappointed children waving their hands around in front of the television trying in vain to get Mario to jump correctly just once.

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I got my Power Glove discounted from Wal-Mart only a few years after the jig was up, because hey, why not, and truth be told, it actually wasn’t the worst thing ever. It worked alright with some games, and worked great with the one game that was actually built to go with it, “Super Glove Ball,” where you bounced a ball around a three-dimensional room “Breakout” style. But yeah, eventually even I lost interest and into a crate it went and there it stayed for years just waiting until I needed it again. Which means retrieving it to be the centerpiece of my Halloween costume should have been easy, right? Wrong! Because if you had asked me anytime during the last what, 20 years, where that Power Glove was, I could tell you. But no, a recent move resulted in not only that Power Glove but another item for my costume, my prized punk-rock/new wavy studded fingerless gloves I purchased from the back room at Champaign Army-Surplus around 1996, were somehow both missing.

After spending an entire evening tearing my place apart trying to find that stuff and a quick trip to my parents' place to fruitlessly search even more boxes and shelves, I ended up discovering, in a box under the stairs (natch), the next best thing: my old “Lazer Tag” gear, including a vest that fit alright after all those years but featured a belt that, let’s just say, needed a bit of leverage to get buckled.

So Halloween morning I got up early, clipped both my Sony Walkman and Nintendo GameBoy to my belt, put on my big headphones, grabbed my Rubik’s Cube, put on my only pair of sunglasses, cinched myself into that blasted vest, and put a 9-volt battery into the “StarSensor” on the chest so it would light up. Seeing my reflection in the windows as I walked up to the office’s front door revealed that I looked less like a 1980s arcade champion than I did a space cop who had really let himself go, with a laser gun that was holstered somewhere around his armpit.

It also didn’t help that I never bothered to test if I could actually sit down properly in what was essentially a battle corset, resulting in a loud snap when I flopped down in my chair at my desk; a sound which I thought was my Walkman coming loose from my belt, but was actually, in retrospect, probably one of my ribs.

So sure I had to eat pizza in the conference room while standing, mostly out of the knowledge that we didn’t have a 100-pound block and tackle on standby necessary to get me out of a chair again, but hey, in the end it was worth it; just as I was dreading the notion that I was going to have to sit back at my desk again, I discovered I won second place in the office costume contest! Not bad for a bunch of old junk, right? And hey I found my trusty Casio watch again, so there’s that.

So Power Glove...wherever you are now, I’m still searching for you. And if any readers are thinking, “Wait…how was he going to wear studded gloves and the Power Glove at the same time?” let’s just say I hadn’t thought that far ahead. Maybe next Halloween.

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"The Throwback Machine" is a weekly feature taking a look back at items of interest found in the JG-TC online archives. For questions, suggestions, or his "Song of the Day" recommendation, contact him at cwalker@jg-tc.com.

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