Thursday, July 21, 2016

We're half way through the summer now, and I swear I can count on only one hand the number of times this season I've seen a neighbor enjoying their yard. The guy in back of us is building a chicken coop but that doesn't count -- I'm talking about someone throwing a barbecue, kids playing, or simply lounging. Sadly, it just doesn't seem to happen anymore and according to a Boston Globe article that was published a few weeks ago, my fear has been confirmed: the great American backyard is disappearing.

Indeed, a good friend of my mother that I've also become friends with was told by a real estate agent that even in our tony town where property is prized (and on the pricey side) that "no one cares about having a yard and the land anymore." In recent years it's become the norm for a developer to purchase and knock down a home that was built in the '50s or '60s, and replace it with a big, ugly, soulless McMansion that takes up way more floor space than the previous house. The less lawn to mow and maintain, the better.

Speaking of mowing, I almost never see anyone trimming their own lawn or doing gardening nowadays. They hire landscapers to do the dirty work -- leaving them with an immaculate yard that they never venture onto to enjoy (maybe they're also too afraid to walk barefoot on grass which has been dowsed with poison by TruGreen.)

For the baby boomers and people of my generation that grew up in the suburbs in the '70s and '80s, it was a different story. Backyards were a haven used for barbecues, parties, games (I still miss the badminton net my parents set up one summer), Nerf toys, Slip 'N Slide, you name it. When I was about five years old my father bought me a swing set from Sears (I remember him partially assembling it in the living room before moving it outdoors.) It was made of metal, so the slide would burn your legs in the summer unless you cooled it by running the hose over it first. The swings hung on chains that could easily pinch little fingers. It also had a monkey bar. All hazardous dangers by today's standards, but I loved that thing! I spent many hours playing on it by myself. And visiting friends' houses as a kid was a treat because it gave us a different landscape to explore. I remember sunning myself at a friend's house as a teen, sipping on lemonade while a radio we brought outside played Tears For Fears on the local pop station. And how many of us had an old man that mowed the lawn shirtless, and rewarded his efforts on a sweaty summer day with an ice cold beer?

So why are so few people taking advantage of their yards? Well, I certainly think technology has a lot to do with it. Kids would rather play inside with their mobile phones; it's sad that one of the only ways we can get some young people to go outside and move their bodies is because of a stupid mobile app called Pokemon Go. People would rather catch up on Facebook and check email -- something they can do outdoors with their mobile devices. The Globe article cited the fact that most households are comprised of couples where both people work full-time and just don't have the time to enjoy or maintain a yard, so the simplest solution is to build up their property so they no longer have to worry about it.

Here's what I'd like to propose to anyone who's lucky enough to have a yard: take at least an hour each weekend to enjoy it. Make yourself a glass of iced tea, bring a book outside, and inhale the warm summer air for 60 minutes. Spread a blanket on the grass and have a picnic, even if you're the only one attending. Buy some horseshoes, a croquet set, or another game that's meant to play outdoors (how about a ping pong table?) Throw a party or barbecue.

We can't make these warm summer days stick around forever, but we can least make a case for preserving lawn space -- before it's too late.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I hemmed and hawed a bit about whether I should write this post; it's personal, and I usually don't vent about personal things on Go Retro. People come here to be entertained by nostalgia, whether it's humorous vintage ads, songs lists, or hearing me gloat about Martin Milner (he HAS been a main topic here as of late.) But you know what? Screw it. I think it's going to feel good to get this off my chest. And I actually have been thinking of making the blog a bit more personal (as long as it still relates to something retro.) This post isn't quite so retro, though. And we may end up filing it under "too much information." But here goes.

One thing I have learned from having a blog, which is a public website and putting yourself "out there" so to speak, is you have to be careful. Knock on wood, I haven't had any real horror stories to speak stalkers, etc. And I hope it stays that way.

Last year at this very time, though, something happened to me, via this blog. A reader (who also followed the Go Retro Facebook page) reached out to me, and I found him attractive. I knew the name - he had been liking just about everything I'd been posting to the Facebook page for the past year, and commenting nearly as much. He had actually originally sent me an email three and half years earlier, when he first discovered this blog, and had ended his message by saying that if I was ever out his way he wanted to buy me a drink. I wrote him a friendly message back, but took the invite with a grain of salt since I didn't know what the guy looked like or anything about him at the time (and this was also before I launched the Facebook page.) Fast forward to summer of last year, and he reaches out to me again to talk more about the Paul McCartney concert he had attended that we were commenting about on the GR Facebook page.

Well...he turned out to be married. He didn't tell me he was married; he decided to keep that teeny, insignificant detail a secret, all the while giving impressions that he could be living a divorced or bachelor lifestyle. He flirted here and there in the messages. It was only after Googling him that I learned the truth. An article featuring a photo of him, his wife, and two kids came up. I continued to write, to see if he would fess up. He didn't, and after a week I told him that I knew and how I had found out.

Before figuring this out, I had sent him a Facebook friend request, which he had ignored -- that was the red flag. (Believe it or not, I am connected on Facebook to a few readers -- that I've vetted to make sure they're good people. They are.) His Facebook profile and cover photo at that time gave no hint that he was partnered and a father.

I'm not letting myself off the hook here -- I told him seeing as how we had everything in common we could write as friends. Well, you know the line from When Harry Met Sally: "Men and women can never be friends because the sex always gets in the way."

(We never had sex, by the way. We never met in person -- I made it clear I could not meet him if he were married. Plus he lived out of state -- not so far it wasn't driveable, but far enough away I suppose.)

But it was obvious the mutual attraction was there and the connection was one I haven't felt with a man in an awfully long time. I was eventually told the usual story married people give -- my spouse no longer has sex with nor spends time with me, the spark died after the kids were born, etc. He NEVER talked about his kids, by the way, even when I asked about them, which to me was another big red flag. His only mentioned his son's autism, which I already knew about, and how that had put a strain on the relationship. But after six weeks of correspondence that included some phone calls, he called me from work one night. He had to end it. His wife got access to his laptop and saw all of our emails. At first she was furious but later called him up again sobbing, admitting that she was at fault, and that she was willing to work on the marriage. She also had access to his Facebook account, so she (as him) unliked the Go Retro page and deleted any comment he had ever left on it...stretching back three years.

He did apologize to me, by the way, late in the year, for the pain he had caused me.

Just as I was getting over it, this same reader reached out to me again in January to wish me a happy birthday. And he expected that I was "OK" with "corresponding via these messages."

I told him no.

I told him there was nothing I wanted more the past few months, but that it would be dangerous. That he should be focusing on his marriage and I had to focus on finding someone available that can give me what I want and need. And I didn't really get how -- after knowing how hurt I was and I'm sure his wife as well -- he thought this was a good idea. I refused to be used. And I certainly wasn't about to put myself in a position where I'd be the cause of a nasty divorce, end up hurting someone's children, and have people despising me for the rest of my life.

I thought maybe it meant his marriage still wasn't doing so great. Then I did some Internet sleuthing and saw that a few months prior to that, he and his family had had a photography session done and the Facebook page for the photography studio had shared them online -- some of him and his wife kissing.

Yeah. I was kind of upset. Hence, many of you saw the blog post I did a few months ago where I listed songs about infidelity and how it hurts all involved.

I'm going to quote what one of my readers (and a friend to me) said of this story: "I can't stand it when married people try to pull stunts like this." LOL. So true.

Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. And looking back, I think he was a little obsessed with me. The constant comments on Facebook and the flirting. It seemed he was looking for attention. I also looked up his visits on Google Analytics going back to 2014 and 2015...and there were a LOT. An awful lot, and even during some times when this blog went dry for a month or two. Don't get me wrong -- I don't mind the page views -- but I think I became a fantasy. I think he got carried away. The problem is he couldn't give me what I want and deserve. I don't do one-night stands and relationships that revolve around just sex. This is a woman that wants a serious, committed relationship with the right man. I want to buy a home with somebody and decorate it with vintage finds. I want to go on road trips with him. I want to meet his family and be part of it, and want to introduce someone to mine.

Some of you know I follow the law of attraction and that's the one thing I still struggle with. They say if you're attracting unavailable potential partners that it's because you're making yourself unavailable or vibrating some blockage or negative belief to the Universe. I have an inkling what some of those may be, and I've been working on them and myself for nearly the past year.

But I cannot figure out why I attracted someone that was dishonest with me. (In my opinion, hiding important info to give yourself an advantage is lying.) In the nine years that I've written this blog, I've always been 100% honest and authentic with all of you guys. If I have an opinion about something, it's my genuine opinion...if I like or dislike something, I'm not pulling your leg; I'm for real! That's what has made this experience so confusing for me at times. I like to think that I only attract genuine people into my life.

And by the way, I'm not looking for sympathy (as I accepted and forgave my role in this) nor am I am trying to vilify "Mr. S" (as he shall be known) here. I learned a huge lesson and I should have nipped it in the bud the minute I learned the truth..."I can't correspond with you as you're married, but I'll see you on the blog and the Facebook page." Then again, who's to say that would have stopped what happened from happening? To this day I might be continuing to get the playful comments on Facebook and there wouldn't have been any improvement in his marriage.

Also, I admit I do feel a little sorry for Mr. S. Back then, and now. I think maybe he needed some kind of reassurance that he was attractive to women other than his wife. That's no excuse for giving a single woman the impression that you're not married, but still...I do understand because everyone is human. I think his son is a handful, and not easy at times to care for. I also believe he's on the autism spectrum himself -- something he admitted to me -- and it seemed a little obvious when he got tongue tied and nervous speaking on the phone with me. He works in law enforcement...and we all know how much more stressful that profession has become in the past couple of weeks, as if it wasn't stressful enough to begin with. I also wonder if he had some self esteem issues. Realizing all this was important to help me forgive, and move on.

I did learn some things about myself in addition to the harsh lessons. That is the positive part. I learned that I would be willing to date someone that lived in another state that was still within driving distance, and I'd be willing to date someone with a disabled child, if the chemistry and connection was there.

I doubt he plans on reading this blog anymore. I've stopped looking at Google Analytics to see if he's been by, and the last time he logged on he skimmed several pages in a minute and a half and clearly wasn't reading anything that I've written. I'm guessing there's certain things I'm writing about that are painful reminders to him of what he cannot have. I guess it doesn't matter. Besides, I have so many fabulous and faithful readers to be grateful for.

I know posting about this probably makes me sound like it still bothers me, and it doesn't. I've moved on...although I will admit it was tempting to take this experience and sink into negativity with beliefs in general about men. But I didn't. I still believe that there ARE a lot of great guys out there -- both married ones and available ones -- and I still believe that there's one that's perfect for me.

I just ask -- of all of my readers -- to please be honest with other people...and if you're married or partnered up, please don't go looking for validation outside of your relationship. Not cool. I appreciate the men that are fans of this blog that have reached out through the years to comment on something I wrote -- and are upfront about mentioning their spouse or significant other in email conversation.

Also, I can't answer everyone's email, comments, tweets, etc. I try my best but life gets in the way. I'm 44, I'm working full-time, and slowly making a social life for myself again after being out of work for so long. I think a lot of people assume that Go Retro is my way of living and my be-all, end-all. It's not. It doesn't pay many of the bills, believe me. It's just a hobby and my passion.

And at the end of the day, I'm just a real person behind it with feelings.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Happy Fourth of July weekend, Go Retro readers (and hey, the t-shirts on the couple above are a perfect red, white, and blue!) A few weeks ago I began noticing when logging into Blogger that I had surpassed 1,000 written posts. I'm still in mind-boggled disbelief -- it's daunting enough to think about the amount of time it takes to write 100 posts, or 250, or 500, but...1,000?

Well, I guess it's proof that work isn't work when it's something you enjoy doing. Go Retro is also turning nine years old this month -- and my desire to blog about my retro-related passions still hasn't slowed down.

As much as I'm patting myself on the back, a blog wouldn't be a blog without readers. I'd like to thank those of you that have stuck around through the years and continue to read and find enjoyment, amusement, and nostalgic memories from my humble site. I really hope to be able to offer another giveaway to you soon, too. Here's to the next 1,000 posts!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I know, I know, I just posted about Route 66 a few weeks ago. And I told the world that I was watching all of the episodes in their proper order from the very beginning.

But over on the Route 66 group that I joined on Facebook, several fans kept mentioning one episode in called "The Thin White Line." This is the episode where Martin Milner's character, Tod Stiles, accidentally ingests a psychedelic drug that sets him off on a wild, mind bending ride in the streets of Philadelphia. I caved. I mean, just look at the accompanying terrifying screenshot that's being used on the IMDB for this particular episode. The rest of season one could wait...

My poor guy! Anyways, more than a few weeks after I initially watched this episode, it still haunts me, so I simply had to blog about it. I can totally understand why it's considered a fan favorite. I mentioned in my first post about Route 66 that it was a groundbreaking show ahead of its time. Well, "The Thin White Line" may have been the first time that drug use -- at least, of psychedelic drugs -- was portrayed on television. The drug is actually referred to in the program as an experimental "chemotherapy compound", not LSD. However, LSD's roots go back to the 1940s and a lot of experimental research was taking place with it during the 1950s. In an interview that co-star George Maharis gave in 2007, he mentioned that the show's main scriptwriter, Stirling Silliphant, had probably heard enough about the drug to work it into a storyline. Keep in mind, "The Thin White Line" aired on television in 1961 -- a good five years before LSD became a more recognized substance.

The hour starts off innocently enough. Tod and Buz are dancing with a couple of cute girls at a hotel suite party (at a Philadelphia Marriott) and are having a swell time. But one of the party's guests is an uninvited crasher -- a goony lunkhead that stole the host's girlfriend for a dance and then ordered the "boy" to bring him a beer. The seething party host is in the kitchen with a college friend who has brought along something to teach the crasher a lesson -- a sample of a drug that will make him go ape and start babbling nonsense for a few hours. At first the host is hesitant to actually follow through with the spiked beer, but his ego wins over. His weaselly little friend then pours an EXTRA amount of the drug into the glass, for good measure.

Out in the hotel suite, the host repeatedly offers the beer to the party crasher, who growls his decline and tells him to come back later. Before he has a chance to bring it back to the kitchen, Tod snatches the glass and gulps it down in a few swallows. It isn't long before he's become incredibly drowsy and unsteady on his feet, struggling to stay awake to dance with his date. When the two guys that spiked the beer call Tod's date to the kitchen to speak with her, Tod decides to take a nap on the couch, unnoticed by Buz and the other party guests.

Noooo! Don't do it, Tod!
In the kitchen, the drug guys are asking Tod's date if he's "stable." She responds that Tod and Buz have been working a construction job and that he's a nice guy, "a dreamboat." (Well, I'm certainly not about to argue with her about that.) She presses the pair as to what is going on, but they refuse to tell her, and let her go.

Meanwhile, Tod has abruptly awoken and it takes him a moment to realize where he is. When he sees the lunkhead party crasher (who insulted him when he tripped and fell into him) he attacks and punches him, disrupting the guests. He even gets physical with Buz before running out of the party and across the hotel's ice skating rink and through a garden area with water. Before long, he's gone from the hotel's property and has disappeared into the night with no way for Buz to catch up to him.

The police are called to the hotel, as well as the college researcher who's been studying the drug that Tod ingested. Buz and Tod's date learn that the drug's users experience several stages over the course of hours. The first is sleepiness, followed by paranoia, then euphoria. But in a chilling moment, the scientist warns the police that "what comes up must come down." He then informs everyone that even the happiest, most well adjusted people that have tried the drug often experience deep despair followed by a strong desire to kill themselves.

This is your brain on drugs...not exactly "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds", folks!
I really don't want to give too much away, but let me say this: for all of his work, it's probably Martin Milner's finest hour on television, and for the life of me I cannot fathom why he wasn't at least nominated for an Emmy (yes, the Emmys did exist in the early '60s.) The best sequence is when Tod, during the drug's joie de vive phase, finds a barroom attended by the suspicious Al Lewis, aka Grandpa Munster. During this segment Tod is an unpredictable loose canyon, rattling off toasts in about a dozen foreign languages and consuming enough alcohol to knock out a bull elephant. He also gets picked up by the bar's chain smoking, piano playing cougar (you go, girl.) (This has dire results once the happy-go-lucky period of the drug starts to wear off.)

I will admit that when I first learned about this episode, and the plot, I laughed. And it does sound funny at first -- the idea of someone under the influence of a psychedelic drug. The producers could have easily made "A Thin White Line" pro-drug, and portrayed it as a trippy romp through sugar town. But Milner takes us on a spectrum of human emotions and my heart was breaking for him by the end, during the program's climatic scene on the Ben Franklin Bridge (don't worry; it has a happy ending.) What makes it so unsettling to watch is that it's happening to one of the nicest TV characters ever conceived; a squeaky clean, innocent, boy-next-door type who is usually portrayed helping people.

There's also some creative camera work I appreciated during one segment to give the illusion of the drug's effects. Well, I said in my first post about the series that it was ahead of its time, and it was. I don't think you need to actually be a fan of the show to appreciate "The Thin White Line." Here's Part 1 if your curiosity has been piqued -- and you can watch all parts on YouTube.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Avocado. Harvest Gold. Almond. If you were living in an American household at any time from the '60s through the '80s, you're probably familiar with these colors as they applied to kitchen appliances. And if you lived in an American house during the 1950s, perhaps you were even lucky enough to experience a pink kitchen -- just like the one discovered in this Chicago house that was making the Internet rounds last year.

Where did all of that color go? Today -- unless you order from a specialty company that makes vintage style kitchen appliances -- it's virtually impossible to purchase a brand new, groovy fridge or dishwasher in avocado green. Nearly every manufacturer only offers them in a modern but cold-feeling stainless steel, or white. Not long ago I even read that the next trend will be BLACK in the kitchen. Perish the thought! I like my kitchens sunny a la The Brady Bunch, not The Addams Family.

So where did all of the color in kitchen appliances go? According to an Elle Decor article published last year, once American homes started getting bigger, entertaining guests got moved from a separate dining area to spaces that are part of the overall kitchen area, and brightly colored kitchens started to fall by the wayside. I tend to think, however, that it was a decision simply made by appliance companies to move away from offering color coordinated units that would have leftover inventory to simply selling one-shade-fits-all.

I have nothing against the stainless steel finish, but I still have memories of the green fridge and dishwasher from my parents' own home. Today, my mother's kitchen has all white appliances, including the microwave.

So for nostalgia's sake, here's a smattering of ads and photos from kitchens of the past, mostly spotted on Pinterest. Maybe someday they'll make a comeback.

Because who doesn't want their stove matching their dress?

Imagine...people really did this. Covering their fridge's front doors with printed fabric!

And of course, you need smaller kitchen appliances that match the color of the larger ones.
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