Friday, November 27, 2015

Selected Pages From the 1972 Spiegel Christmas Catalog

When I was a kid, there was nothing I loved getting in the mail more than the big, fat Sears Wish Book Christmas catalog every autumn. As I entered my teen years and left toys behind, however, it was the annual Spiegel holiday catalog that quickly became my favorite. I was a big Spiegel fan for many years, particularly throughout the '80s and '90s. Their clothing was classy and definitely a notch above Sears' fashion. Sadly, like most other retailers they discontinued their print catalogs some years ago and after visiting their site recently it seems both the quality and quantity of their clothing has deteriorated. 

Luckily, we have the site WishBookWeb to thank for keeping vintage department store catalogs alive and well online. When I was over there the other day I nearly orgasmed from "flipping" through the 1972 Spiegel holiday catalog -- it was published the year I was born and gives a fascinating glimpse into the fashions and interests of Americans at that time. I'd repost all 436 pages if I could, but that would probably break the here's (in my opinion) the best of the best...what the groovy good girls and boys (and men and women) of 1972 were asking Santa for that year. Can you dig it? 

(Brace yourself...this is probably going to be an epic post after the jump, so prepare for lots of scrolling and some placed commentary here and there.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Much to Be Thankful For

What a vegan Thanksgiving looks like: turkey hugging, corn grilling, and a kid playing the accordion!
I want to take a moment like I usually try to do this time of year and thank all of my readers for continuing to visit Go Retro. This was kind of a crazy year for me and it continues to be a bit of a roller coaster ride for some members of my family but one of the things that keeps me consistently motivated and in an upbeat mood is getting inspiration for posts and having a platform to post them on. And if I didn't have people reading the site, then there wouldn't be much point in posting. I hope all you groovy people have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

I'm also really thankful for both my emotional and physical health, my family (including my cats; they're family, too), my friends, the roof over my head, the money in my savings account, my car, laughing at my own silly jokes, my freelance jobs that are helping me gain experience towards a more full-time career, and of course, Christoph Waltz. Oh, he's not retro enough? Well, I'm grateful for all of the pop culture icons, movies, music, design, trends, experiences, etc. that inspire my posts and keep this blog going. And I still miss Mad Men. Just thought I'd mention that.  

This also seems like an appropriate time to mention a new blogging venture I started about a month ago, just for fun: Positively Pam. I wasn't even going to initially mention it here on Go Retro for a while because a. its topics are not retro-related at all and b. I didn't want to announce is unless I found myself actually posting to it and as it turns out, I have. I started it to write about the law of attraction and the success I've had with it and to also have a suitable place for the more personal posts. I actually had a similar second blog a few years ago that I deleted and I found myself missing it, so "PP" is its resurrection (I don't know if I'll keep the name...after I purchased the domain, of course, I thought of another one I like better.)

But please be assured of one thing: Go Retro ISN'T GOING AWAY nor do I plan on slowing down with the posts here. Not at all! I can tell you right now that 95% of you readers will have no interest in it. But there are many people out there who are into the law of attraction, and I can tell you that it has improved my life in so many ways. 

So get down with the turkey and pumpkin pie and don't fight with your siblings or in-laws! 

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Chipmunks As You've Never Heard Them Before

I don't know anyone who has ever purchased a Chipmunks album and I don't know who would want to -- who would purposely pay money to subject themselves to that kind of torture? Nonetheless, the Chipmunks' Christmas song, "Christmas Don't Be Late", remains a holiday novelty favorite of mine precisely because it is a novelty that you only listen to a couple of times once a year. And OK, it is cute, too.  

A few weeks ago, however, a guy named Brian Borcherdt started to make some online headlines. Borcherdt is a musician who wondered what would happen if he took the Chipmunks' covers of previously released music and....sloooooowed.....themmmmm....downnnnn. To 16RPM, to be exact. The result is some pretty mesmerizing music that been's called goth, guttural, and metal. I actually couldn't stop listening to one song after another on the Soundcloud page Borcherdt set up, chipmunkson16speed. I've also embedded my personal selections below. It's pretty heavy stuff; have a listen by clicking on "read more" below.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Whatever Happened To...The Family TV Drama?

Have you noticed something missing from this year's fall network TV line-up? We have a surplus of crime/murder/detective shows along with hospital dramas (Grey's Anatomy is STILL on the air?), sci-fi/fantasy and the usual reality TV and sitcom pap. But the one thing missing from all of the major networks right now is an hour-long family drama. Just to be certain, I looked at the list of shows on the sites for NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX. There's none to be found. 

And I'm not talking about comedies such as Modern Family (which really isn't all that funny anymore) or the Dallas-like Blood and Oil (which is being canceled because it's a stinker.) I'm talking about shows I used to love like Judging Amy (which co-starred Tyne Daly), Sally Field's Brothers and Sisters, and Once and Again, which was a mature drama about a widowed man and a divorced woman finding love again in their middle age and the effects their partnering had on their children. Then there was the very short-lived teen drama My So-Called Life that developed a cult following despite airing for only one season. It seems that the TV execs have forgotten about the fan bases these shows attracted and that many of us crave seeing thoughtful shows backed by decent writing and character development that reflect some of the very life situations we often find ourselves in. (Not too many of us, after all, can relate to being a superhero...I'm looking at you, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans.)

We don't need any more crime, action, and fantasy shows on TV right now. I just want to watch a nice drama that revolves around the life of a somewhat relatable family. The last successful family drama that aired was Parenthood -- which ended its fifth and last season earlier this year. Without it, the current TV landscape seems a bit bare. (Sadly, there are some misinformed folks out there that believe that Keeping Up With the Kardashians belongs in the same category.) 

As usual, I must give kudos to the Brits in this area, because they've always been heads and shoulders above us when it comes to producing quality TV dramas. I believe there's a reason why Downton Abbey became such a big sensation here in the States -- the heart of this show, underneath the extravagant costumes and settings, is about a family. Two families, really, counting the lives of the downstairs staff. No fantastical computerized effects or outlandish plots here; just brilliant writing and acting. I think there's going to be a lot of melancholy viewers -- including myself -- after the final season airs after the holidays.

Speaking of the British, there's a new BBC One series currently being filmed that piqued my interest because it co-stars Lee Ingleby, who I mentioned a few months ago when I wrote about Inspector George Gently. It's called The A Word. The "A" in this case doesn't stand for one of our favorite swear words, but autism. The six-part show is about a family whose "youngest son is diagnosed with autism and they don't feel like every other family anymore." 

You would think that the American networks would have thought of producing a show like this already, especially given the increase of autism diagnoses during the past decade, but as usual the British are way ahead of us. I'm going to make a prediction, though; one of them will copy this show with American actors and writing and it won't be half as good as the UK's production. They did that with an awesome British crime drama called Broadchurch; the American version was called Gracepoint which was cancelled after one season and lousy ratings despite co-starring David Tennant, who also stars in Broadchurch. Weird? Confusing? Yep...but that's American television for you. Here's hoping The A Word comes to PBS or is released on DVD for American audiences. 

The last family TV drama that I watched and enjoyed was NBC's The Slap. This was another copycat production, too; the original series was Australian. But it was well done, well acted, and revolved around a family and how an unruly kid getting his face slapped at a family gathering caused repercussions for everyone (and yes, I and virtually everyone else I know who saw the show felt the bratty kid deserved the slap.) But it does bring up a point: networks don't have to invest a ton of money into a series they hope will last a few seasons. They could do what the Brits do and dole out a quality six-part family series once in a while. 

Anyways, I've probably rambled on enough about this topic. Television is cyclical; I was looking at the line-up of what was airing on NBC in the 1967 and it wasn't all that different than today's schedule. Get Smart, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Dragnet, Star Trek, and Tarzan were all on the menu. The family drama as we know it -- excluding the soaps -- really didn't take form until the late 1980s and 1990s when shows like Thirtysomething started to depict the lives of average people on the small screen. 

Here's hoping that after the holidays, something resembling a family drama is back in the works for 2016 or the 2016 fall season on American TV. Until then, I guess I have PBS, YouTube, and Hulu to get me through. 

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