“A Never-Ending Wheel”: The Heroic Quest in Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’

By Michael Grasso

Ronnie James Dio broke out in a big way in the spring of 1983 with the release of his solo debut LP, Holy Diver. Formerly the lead singer for heavy rock/metal pioneers Elf, Rainbow (Ritchie Blackmore’s followup project to Deep Purple), and Black Sabbath (joining the band after it parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne), Dio brought to his new eponymous project over a decade of experience as a foundational heavy metal vocalist and lyricist…

Recollections: Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’

Thirty-seven years ago this month, the 13-part television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted by Cornell University planetary scientist Carl Sagan, began airing weekly on PBS. While I was likely a little too young to have watched that premiere broadcast, I definitely remember watching the entire uncut series during one of its many rebroadcasts in the early 1980s…

“People Can Stop It”: Three Ecology PSAs, 1971 – 1977

With the first Earth Day in 1970, ecology and environmental protection entered the public consciousness in a way not seen since the 1962 release of biologist Rachel Carson’s investigation into the effects of DDT, Silent Spring. Earth Day tapped the nascent environmental movement among scientists and conservationists and gave it a public face…

The Sears Tele-Games Video Arcade (1977) and the Coleco Gemini (1982)

In the early years of home video gaming, Pong reigned supreme. Released in its arcade cabinet incarnation in 1972, Pong became a sensation and inspired a revolution in computer gaming, headed by Sunnyvale, California’s Atari. As Atari’s programmers created more games for the lucrative arcade market, the race was on to create versions that could be played at home on a television set…

Whitley Strieber’s ‘Communion: A True Story’, 1987

Whitley’s Strieber’s Communion is another formative object for me. Well, maybe “formative” is a bad choice of words. After all, I was 12 when the shelves of every bookstore I frequented groaned with the weight of the uncanny Grey staring out at me from the book’s cover. But Communion distilled and reflected a deep-seated childhood fear of UFOs and aliens that I’d had since a very early age…

“These Our Poor Afflicted Neighbours”: A Woman’s Powerful Place in Two Alien Abduction Narratives

By Michael Grasso

Two of the most famed alien abduction narratives of the Cold War period were explored through first-person accounts in popular books: John C. Fuller’s The Interrupted Journey: Two Lost Hours Aboard a Flying Saucer (1965), about the abduction experience of Betty and Barney Hill, and Raymond E. Fowler’s The Andreasson Affair (1979), about the experiences of Betty Andreasson…

Nancy Reagan Appears on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, 1983

As part of her anti-drug Just Say No campaign, First Lady Nancy Reagan made a guest appearance on the NBC sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986) on March 19, 1983. In the episode, titled “The Reporter,” Arnold Drummond (Gary Coleman), a reporter for his school newspaper, breaks a story on drug pushers at his school and submits it to a major city newspaper…

Cannon Films Print Advertisements in ‘Variety’, 1979 – 1986

In 1979, Israeli film industry giants (and cousins) Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus purchased tiny independent American film production house Cannon Group, Inc. Cannon had spent the ’70s producing B-movies with occasional surprise hits (like the 1970 “hardhat revenge” tale Joe starring Peter Boyle). Golan and Globus saw in Cannon a way to gain a foothold in an American market that they’d long eyed entering…

New England Whalers Victory March (‘Brass Bonanza’), 1976

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was established to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL, much like Major League Baseball in the early ’70s, was dealing with its labor market’s rebellion against the unjust reserve clause. The WHA offered players better salaries and an opportunity to sign contracts as free agents…