Thursday, September 22, 2016

If you grew up in the '70s like me, you probably remember the margarine craze of that era: we were told that butter was bad for us and would clog our arteries, and somehow substituting the natural dairy food with an imitation spread made of refined vegetable oil, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors was a healthier option. As a result, we also got inundated with terrible commercials featuring an obnoxious talking tub of Parkay or the horny Country Crock couple that couldn't keep their hands to themselves, even at the dinner table.

Then you probably recall the "war on fat" that was so prevalent in the '80s and '90s which saw the introduction of low fat and fat-free (gag!) food items on store shelves including those horrible Snackwell cookies which promised lower calories and saturated fat, but which were way too sweet.

Well, I'm hear to tell you after a brief five month stint working in the food industry and from what I've seen reported online in recent months that it's perfectly OK to eat fat including red meat and real dairy products including cream, butter, eggs, and cheese. Welcome to retro eating habits, folks! Yes, it's time for you to embrace your inner Ron Swanson and have turf and turf, if that's what your heart so desires. In case you didn't know, the food industry has been duping us all of these years.

Just last week, NPR and other sources reported that fifty years ago, the sugar industry paid off Harvard researchers to hush up the role that sugar plays in heart disease and instead, put the blame on foods that contain fat. Disgusting.

You may remember the blog post I did several years ago showing ads from the 1960s promoting the benefits of eating sugar. At the time I thought they may have been done in response to the growing popularity of artificial sweeteners. Maybe that was one motivation, but I also believe now it was to deflect the possibility that sugar was bad for us. These ads even highly recommend giving sugar to children, because it keeps their energy going all day!

Now, there's still a lot of articles and scientific research that claims foods like bacon and butter can still contribute to cardiovascular disease. However, I am of the camp that believes in everything in moderation. I don't think it's a great idea to eat fried foods every day. But I also don't think foods that contain fat, especially those from animals, are going to kill you if you go easy on them. I look back and think of my grandparents, who lived during several decades when processed food hadn't been invented yet. They all lived into their early 90s, and enjoyed eating everything.

The truth is, our body needs some fat in our diets in order to function properly. In fact, there's a relatively new eating plan out there called the "wild diet" which advocates cutting out as much sugar and processed food from meals and snacks and focusing on lean meats and fish and enjoying a little bit of butter and dark chocolate. Given the choice between a sugar-laden muffin or bacon and eggs, none of us should be choosing the muffin. Bacon and eggs provide protein, which is going to fill you up and keep you satisfied longer. That's also going to keep your blood sugar in control and your energy sustained. Did you know that diets higher in fat are more effective at helping people losing weight?

If you need further proof, I invite you to check out this cool site I discovered earlier this year, called Eat the Butter. Eat the Butter advocates "Vintage Eating for Vibrant Health" and I agree with their messaging and findings 100%. They're also on a mission to get kids to eat healthier by eating real food and reducing sugar in their diet.

One final thought: it kills me when I hear of people that only eat egg whites for breakfast or worse, that horrible crap that passes for eggs called Egg Beaters. I know they're "made with real eggs" but they're comprised of the white part. All of the flavor and nutrients are in the yolk. I'm not buying into the fear that the cholesterol in eggs will kill you. Again, everything in moderation.

So go ahead, order that steak, pat a little butter on your bread, and pour a bit of light cream in your coffee. Hopefully by reclaiming some retro eating habits, Americans will also reclaim their waistlines.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Arno is a Brazilian home appliance manufacturer; I believe they're still in business today. I found the following catalog scans on Flickr (credited to a user named Gugue) and thought it would be fun to simply share them here. Actually, I think the last four images are from another catalog of a series of the company's ads. I just loved the colors and the designs of these household gadgets whereas everything in our modern home is usually black, white, or stainless steel unless you own a Kitchenaid mixer.

There's really not much else to say, so enjoy!

OK, I love the fans. The colored blades make them look like flowers.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Welcome to middle age!" declares an advertising campaign for Philosophy starring Ellen Pompeo that I keep seeing online. "From here on it's a steady decline into old age and cultural insignificance!"

The ad got my attention because I'll be turning 45 early next year. I guess it's time to face the stone cold truth: I'm middle aged. (According to a survey the Huffington Post reported on, some people believe you can be middle aged as young as 35 years old. Zoinks.)

This is certainly not a day that I was thinking about when I was playing with Fisher-Price toys and watching New Zoo Revue. I'm sure there's never been a time when any of us '70s kids were pondering what life would be like by middle age. I always felt that middle age was something that only affected men, and was a sickness that made them want to ditch their first wife for a younger woman and a Corvette convertible. Didn't we all think we'd be young forever?

But the good news is, it's not all Geritol and 4 PM dinners once you hit your mid-40s today. Not even close. A few years back, when I was turning 40, I wrote about the differences between women in their 40s in past decades and how they were perceived vs. today. Now that I'm 44 I honestly see no difference, but I will admit this seemed to be the year that I noticed ever-so-slight changes in my body and my way of approaching things in life. So here's a list of my personal observations on what middle age is REALLY like. Maybe my fellow Generation Xers will think this sounds familiar?

This Mid-Life Crisis Thing Is a Real Thing

At least, I think it is...and not just for men. I've had a few fleeting moments of panic recently like omigod, am I EVER going to create the life that I want?

To quote a moment from a presidential debate several years ago, who am I? Why am I here?

Trust me, once you've been laid off five times over the course of your 9 to 5 career you start to wonder if the universe is trying to deliver the same message yet again. Maybe the corporate life is not for me, or maybe I just haven't found the right fit and the right company yet. And once you hit a certain age you realize you don't want to waste any more time feeling unhappy and unfulfilled at the way you earn your pay. That is why I feel in my heart I should pursue some kind of writing career. I purchased an online freelance magazine writing course through MediaBistro recently, and I'm seeing all kinds of opportunities after watching the first few lessons. Keep buggering on, as Winston Churchill said. He also said, "When you're going through hell, keep going." I believe this marks a turning point in my life and that the best is yet to come.

Grey Hairs...Just Not Necessarily On My Head

Too much information? But this is the ugly truth that I NEVER hear anyone of a certain age talk about. I apologize if it sounds nasty, but this has bothered me in recent years more than anything else about getting older -- to the point that I even lamented to my hair stylist about it, and she bust out laughing because she could relate to it and she's a good ten years younger than me. My regular ladyscaping keeps any color changes fairly unnoticeable, but I know the day will come when I'm faced with one or two options: go completely bare down there with a Brazilian bikini wax (I'd rather have a pelvic and a dental the same time) or invest in a box of Betty hair color, "for the hair down there." Then the carpet will finally match my synthetically blonde-colored drapes.

Speaking of hair, I've occasionally had to pluck stray ones that have Brillo-pad consistency out of my chin for the past ten years. Let's hope those don't proliferate.

Do These Reading Glasses Make Me Look Sexy?

A couple of months ago, I started wondering why ordinary print in books and magazines started to look a little fuzzy to me, even while wearing my contact lenses. Uh, oh. My mother gave me a pair of her reading glasses and it cleared up instantly. Say it isn't so. I'm overdue for my regular eye exam and I'm afraid I'm going to need bi-focal contacts or something (I can read just fine using my regular prescription glasses.)

I Think Younger People and Their Music Are Messed Up

I guess that's been fairly obvious from some of the shots I've taken at Millennials lately; namely, their Pokemon obsession and the banality of today's pop music. It's been said that once you can't stomach modern music you've officially become the old man yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

(And by the way, I don't think all Millennials can be generalized and put into the same negative categories. Maybe about 69.9% of them...ha ha.)

And be prepared...I started writing an upcoming blog post about how f*&^ed up college students are today. You're all gonna love it!

Changing Hormones

Not to gross everyone out again but my period is late, and trust me, it's not because I'm pregnant. It seems the ovarian engine is starting to sputter a bit. I'm not happy about that. And yet I'm lucky and grateful; I've heard of women much younger than I am going into perimenopause. Farewell, child-bearing years, even though I always knew I never wanted to use you for that purpose. It was a good, long run while it lasted. Next stop: Hot Flash City.

OK, so enough with the downers about mid-life. There are some pros to getting older, too...

I No Longer Give a ^%$# What Anyone Thinks Of Me

I hate the low self-esteem that plaques so many of us, particularly women, in our 20s and 30s. Does my hair look OK? Am I wearing the right outfit? Will everyone I meet at the party like me? Do I look sexy enough? Omigod, she said WHAT about me? What if she's right?

I used to worry about what other family members had to say about me and if they were judging the fact that I live with our mother and if they wonder why I'm not married.

Today, I just don't give a rip. As you get older, this way of thinking becomes more plentiful and there's such a freedom in not caring what others think. It's their problem, anyway -- not yours. Besides, they all know that I financially support mom; she gets money from me, not the other way around. And speaking of which...

I Believe In Honesty and Authenticity

A friend of mine was horrified the other day when I said that if I decide to do online dating again, I'm going to be honest about my living and job situation. She said I shouldn't reveal that information right away; that a man should slowly find that out.

I disagree. By putting it out there right away, I'm weeding out anyone that has a problem with it. And besides, I like being honest. Online dating profiles usually contain anything BUT honesty. So why not buck the trend? And if they don't like it? See my previous point, above.

Years ago, during another lay-off period, I did list exactly all that in my profile. And if it turned anyone off, no one told me. In fact I got more compliments from men on that profile that any other I previously posted..."This is the most honest profile I think I've read on here," said one. It was the highest compliment I could have received.

Besides, if you want to attract an honest partner, you have to be vibrating and putting that out there to the universe.

I More Easily Leave The Past Behind

Well, not the pop culture past, fortunately. My personal past. As you get older you realize (hopefully) that all you have is the present moment, so you might as well make the most of it. You can't change anything that happened in the past, so you gotta let it go and move on.

I Don't Feel 44

The above photo was taken last weekend in Newport, RI. (By the way, that is the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport. We didn't have time on this day trip to visit, but it's definitely a must for next time! And hell, yeah: Route 66 Corvette, baby!) I may be 44, but I think I'm doing a good job taking care of myself so not only do I not feel 44 most of the time, I don't think I look the age, either. I've always been thin and enjoy working out...let's hope the hormones don't wreck havoc with that, but I plan to remain active and enjoy regular workouts for as long as possible.

Here's a beauty secret for you: I recently started taking Collagen + vitamin C supplements on a daily basis. Too soon to tell if they've had an effect, but they're supposed to plump up any wrinkles and counteract sagging as well as promote hair and nail growth. I also use sunscreen and sun protection, drink a ton of water daily, and get plenty of sleep in addition to eating healthy most of the time.

(I said most. I do indulge...dark chocolate, dessert, cheese, etc. I just don't binge or go overboard.)

By the way, I definitely cannot drink more than one mixed cocktail anymore; that's another message my body has been sending me. Two will easily hang me over the next day. I've never been much of a drinker, anyway, so it's no loss.

So for my fellow 40-somethings and those of you that are older, there's still hope. We're officially like wine: we get better with age.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

A few months back I blogged about why I still feel men should pay for the meal on a first date, and how women shouldn't chew out men that hold doors open for them. Today I feel compelled to talk about why I don't really dig texting, particularly as it pertains to dating (although truth be told I'm not a fan of using it as a form of communication in general.)

First of all, there's no doubt that the mobile phone is one of the most important inventions so far known to mankind; I've had one ever since the early '90s when they were still on the clunky side so I'd be a hypocrite if I said I didn't appreciate the device. However, in the 20+ years that I've owned a mobile phone, I've used them mostly when absolutely necessary; calling AAA or so that a friend could reach me on route to meeting up, or vice versa.

And in my opinion, when a mobile phone was just a mobile phone, we were all a lot more better off. It was when the Internet and texting capabilities were added to them that things really went south. Now you've got a bunch of walking zombies that are transfixed by something on their screens, so much so that some people have fallen off subway platforms and tripped into public fountains because they were so distracted. Or they walk into oncoming traffic because they're hunting a Pokemon.

People sit in restaurants and instead of talking to the company they're with, their eyes are glued to their phone. Maybe they're checking work email -- or maybe they're surfing for porn across the table from their spouse; who knows. Either way there's no doubt what a number this little piece of technology is doing to our ability to communicate and form human connections.

Which brings me to texting. A common complaint that seems to be floating out there in the dating world is that people will text each back and forth but never actually set up a date. Or that people use it to break up with someone. Or they use it to summon a booty call.

I hate texting. I don't have a Blackberry or a phone that uses a slide-out keyboard. I have a Samsung (and you can all breathe easy; mine is old -- I don't have the new Galaxy that is spontaneously combusting on people. Sadly, my interest in it was piqued because Christoph Waltz was schilling it in commercials.) The screen size is literally two and a half inches wide by one and a half inches high. I don't have one of those little toothpick things; I have to use my index finger or thumb. Whenever I text I feel like an elephant trying to play the piano. About 50% of the time I hit the wrong key. Being the anal speller that I am, I always feel compelled to delete and correct the mistake. What a painfully long and tiring experience it is to tap out a message on that stupid thing; I might as well use Morse code.

I've even seen online profiles so poorly written by men and riddled with errors that I could just tell they composed them using their phone. I even got a message one time that sounded like a mentally challenged person wrote it. When I told the guy I couldn't understand at least half of what he had written, he responded that he had typed it on his phone. (Face palm.)

Why anyone would want to try to text a stranger to get to know them while dating is beyond me. Just pop open your laptop, and bang out a proper email. Better yet, man (or woman) up and pick up that phone dammit, and call them!

And when I'm dating, if I met them online, I want to hear their voice. I made the mistake one time of not asking to speak on the phone first with a date from years ago. He turned out to have a stutter that got worse as the date went on (he also checked out literally every female that crossed his path, so please don't go PC on me and say I'm cruel or picky because I failed to find a guy with a bad stutter attractive! Besides, he also should been truthful and revealed it in his profile.)

Speaking on the phone is intimate. Trying to bang out messages like, "Hy bae, do u wanna met up?" is not.

Now don't get me wrong: texting can be fun once you're in relationship mode. That's when it serves as a more appropriate mode of communication; when you use it to send cutesy messages (or sexting) to one another. But not when you're trying to get to know somebody. It's cumbersome and seems like the lazy ass's easy way out of forming a stronger human connection by speaking on the phone.

If I ever venture into online dating again, I'll be upfront about no texting until we get to know each other better first. It's the best way to weed out the guys that may be too addicted to their mobile devices, anyways. Go retro...and bring back the more traditional methods of communication.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Seals and Crofts. Hall and Oates. Captain and Tennille. The seventies gave us lots of musical duos that scored many chart toppers during the decade. One lesser known act -- mostly due to the fact that they were from the Netherlands -- was Mouth & MacNeal, best known here in the States for their international early '70s hit "How Do You Do".

Now, my last blog post was about my least favorite seventies songs, and I know at least one Go Retro reader that absolutely loathes "How Do You Do". I understand why -- it's pretty repetitive and seems to go on way longer then it should. But something a little surprising that I recently discovered about Mouth & MacNeal is that they actually made a lot of good music. We just didn't know about it in the U.S. because these songs were only hits in Europe. So if "How Do You Do" has the irritation-level equivalent of Kelly Ripa's voice in your ears, you may want to check out some of their other songs I'm including in this post.

(By the way, I absolutely love "How Do You Do". Not only is it catchy to me, but I love that it's such an upbeat, positive song -- about a couple that is reconciling after some time of being broken up, "starting anew", forgetting the past and that they made each other cry. It's a nice aural antithesis to the multitude of sappy, depressing songs that the decade is known for.)

At first glance, the burly man and cute blonde woman known as Mouth & MacNeal looked like Jerry Garcia teamed up with Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA. Their real names were Willem Duyn, who went by the stage name Big Mouth, and Sjoukje van't Spijker, who adopted the moniker Maggie MacNeal. Big Mouth had some musical experience under his belt; he had sung for many bands in the '60s including one called Speedway. Spijker aka MacNeal had released just one solo single prior to meeting Mouth, a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

In 1971, Dutch record producer Hans van Hemert brought together Mouth and Spijker to form the pop duo Mouth & MacNeal. I couldn't find any background info as to what inspired Hemert to introduce them, but he must have had a hunch that they would harmonize and work well together.

"Hey You Love" was the act's first single. It did fairly well on the Dutch music charts, reaching number five. As you can see from the music video, Mouth loves to eat.

Along with a Dutch composer named Harry von Hoof, Hemert wrote the single "How Do You Do" and had Mouth & MacNeal record it. It was a huge worldwide hit, reaching the number one spot in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, and New Zealand, as well as the top ten in Germany, the UK and the U.S. A disc jockey named Jim Connors was responsible for giving the song airplay to American stations and helping it chart here. They sold over a million copies of the record in the U.S. alone.

Here's the duo performing their huge hit on what I believe is a European music TV show...they and the audience sure look like they having a great time, don't they? Stoned? Perhaps...or maybe they were just really enjoying themselves!

One thing I wondered about while watching Mouth & MacNeal's performances is if they were a couple off-stage. They're very affectionate and playful in just about every video I've seen. But the conclusion I've come to is that it was just an act; MacNeal had a husband at some point during Mouth & MacNeal's career, and Mouth got married after the couple broke up. More than likely they just became really good friends and worked well as a musical team.

As far as I know, there was no drama, ego, or fights that affected the couple -- something virtually unheard of in the entertainment industry.

"Hello-A" was another hit for them and rather ABBA-esque.

I also found this track called "Sing Along":

In 1974 Mouth & MacNeal entered the Eurovision Song Contest with the entry "I See A Star". Previous Dutch entries in the famed European contest had always been sung in Dutch; this was the first time the country's entry was sung entirely in English. If you know your European pop music history then you probably know that Mouth & MacNeal had tough competition that year: ABBA took the top prize with "Waterloo." "I See A Star" came in at a respectable third place.

After the success of "I See A Star", Mouth & MacNeal went separate ways. Mouth was pursuing a solo career and eventually recorded duets with his wife as Mouth and Little Eve. The songs are listenable -- and again, very reminiscent of ABBA -- but they didn't gain the same notoriety as Mouth & MacNeal. Mouth passed away of a heart attack at age 67 in 2004. MacNeal is still going strong, and has remained in the music industry as well as acting. She even participated in the 1980 Eurovision contest with the song "Amsterdam."

MacNeal tried to revive Mouth & MacNeal in 2008 with another male singer replacing Mouth but of course, it didn't work. Only the seventies decade could have created a duo like Mouth & MacNeal. But fortunately, we don't have to be living in the '70s to appreciate their complimentary vocals and music.
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