For years, I wondered — was it a dream? Had I imagined it? Was it a rose-colored delusion, the result of some high fever or overdose of cold medication in my early adolescence, some result of late seventies/early eighties bad nutrition?
For years I searched. Surely there must be some record of it. There's a record of everything. I just haven't drafted my search properly. Or . . . didn't I? Am I wrong?
Did Mr. Pow really exist?
Finally, today, joy from a properly constructed Google search: someone else who acknowledges that Mr. Pow existed.
TV Pow was a contest that would be hosted live during commercial breaks. I remember prizes from board games to trips to Cedar Point (an amusement park) on the deluxe Cedar Point Express bus! Woo!.
You might ask, how do you win these fabulous prizes? Just send in a postcard with your name, age, address and phone number. Heck, for a trip on the Cedar Point Express, they could've asked for my Social Security number, a pap smear and a blood sample.
Wait — I forgot the most important part. You send in the postcard, they call you on the phone, and you use the phone –your voice, man — to blow up alien spacecraft. A highly advanced shooting game, similar to Space Invaders is displayed live on TV, and you would shout into the phone, "POW" to activate your laser (the thin white block) and kill the aliens (the thick white blocks). If you kill enough aliens, you win.
Of course, that's not really how it played out. Kids would be taken aback by their sudden fame of being on TV live during little house, and would whisper "pow" too softly to activate the voice technology. Or, things would swing the other way, and you'd have thirty seconds of a kid shouting "POWPOWPOWPOW" at the top of his little lungs. This was frickin' genius in the post-pong/pre-atari world.
In the Los Angeles market, this was branded as "Mr. Pow" and hosted by a guy who, in retrospect, looked like the biggest stoner on the planet. I would sit, rapt, as blocky dots would lumber across the screen, more or less in time with some voice-cracking kid shrieking "POW!" That kid, at that moment, was FAMOUS.
I remember many moments very vividly: holding my son the first time, learning my mother had died, my first closing argument to a jury.
But there is very little I remember as vividly as the time in roughly 1980 when Mr. Pow broke down. The poor kid on the line shouted, with increasing desperation and speed, POWPOWPOWPOWPOW, but no dots emerged, and his thirty seconds ended fruitlessly. I can remember with cinematic perfection the broken and hopeless tone with with the kid wailed "IT DIDN'T GO POOOOOOOOWWWWWW!"
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