Saturday, August 29, 2015

Movie Review: I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! (1968)


I was not prepared to find I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! as funny as I did. For starters, despite it starring Peter Sellers, I had never heard of it until coming across a clip on YouTube several months ago while searching for something else. Second, it has a rating of only 17% on the Rotten Tomatoes site. Obviously the haters weren't indulging in the same cannabis-laced brownie recipe that plays a pivotal role in the film when they left their reviews, because I think the movie is an underrated delight. Maybe not hysterical, but it definitely had its moments that made me laugh out loud. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

10 Underrated Billy Joel Songs


I worked with a guy who hated Billy Joel, all because of the song "Piano Man." While I can't say I blame him for loathing one of the most overplayed songs heard on mainstream oldies radio stations and in dive bars, I think it would be unfair to dislike every song in an artist's musical catalog because of one unwanted tune. I'm not exactly the biggest Billy Joel fan either, but there's no denying that the guy is a prolific songwriter. With Joel's U.S. tour still going strong through the end of the year, I felt like listing ten of his more underrated (in my opinion) songs. I have no idea how many of these are among his stage playlist, but they definitely don't seem to get played enough on radio stations. Have no fear: there's no "Uptown Girl" or "Just the Way You Are" listed here. Go Retro knows better than that!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jack LaLanne's Words of Wisdom on Being Happy


I posted this video clip of Jack LaLanne a few years ago when the fitness pioneer passed away at the age of 96, but I have never forgotten it. His untimely message bears repeating today. Have a listen...



His clip was surprising to me the first time I watched it because I actually thought that people in general WERE happier and smiled more during the '50s and '60s vs. today...who knew?

LaLanne hosted his own daytime exercise show for 34 years, The Jack LaLanne Show, of which my mother was a fan. I've lamented on this blog before about the loss of fitness shows on network television and how bringing them back could potentially help with the nation's obesity epidemic, but that's a topic for another time. What I wanted to talk about here is the observation LaLanne made on his show one day about how unhappy in general people seem to be. (LaLanne's program wasn't solely focused on fitness; he would also take breaks to talk to his audience about eating and nutrition tips, and the importance of mental health.)

In the clip, LaLanne talks about Americans losing the ability to smile, and that there's no point in having it all if someone can't enjoy life and is miserable all of the time. He then relates a story about traveling to South American and riding a bus that was full of poor people, but how all of the travelers starting singing when one woman burst into a song, and how everyone seemed to be more content then their American counterparts who have way more. 

I realize, of course -- and would hope that LaLanne did, too -- that it's not easy for a lot of people to be happy, especially today. Many people are dealing with personal problems and chronically stressful situations that make it difficult to feel up on a daily basis. But I have also learned, from reading and following many law of attraction and positive thinking books and video clips, that happiness is an inside job. Only you can truly make yourself happy, because it's one of the few things that you have control over. A job can be eliminated, a relationship or friendship can end, and a loved one can pass away on you. But, if you can ultimately take responsibility for your personal happiness, then you can overcome a lot of life's difficulties.

At the risk of going all New Age-y here on Go Retro, I have also confirmed -- oddly enough -- that when you make the effort to be happy first, get into a good feeling place, and then affirm to the universe that you want something, that things seem to flow more effortlessly to you. You find a good parking space, unexpected money shows up, and you receive an invite from a friend to get together. 

LaLanne also talks in the clip about people getting too far away from their natural way of living -- I immediately thought of people who walk around glued to their mobile devices. I plan on writing soon about my hiatus from my personal feed on Facebook recently, and how it's helped me feel more positive on a daily basis (hint: ignorance is bliss!)

The clip made me think about some of the things I do on a daily basis that make me happy:

*I make a mental list of everything that I have in my life that going's right, vs. anything missing or what seems to be going wrong. Being grateful for what you already have definitely  helps flip a switch from dwelling on the negative to dwelling on what's possible.

*Interacting with my cats. I have four of them...probably one too many, but two were feral kittens and my mother and I couldn't bring them to a shelter where they would have faced certain death. The female of the two kittens (now three years old) follows me without fail into the bathroom every morning, making it impossible to be in a bad mood. The bond and commitment of being a pet owner and lover definitely makes me happy.

*Exercising, and going for a bike ride or walk/run. Being outside on a nice day makes working out even more pleasurable.

*Of course, watching anything retro that is funny...clips from Laugh-In, The Andy Griffith Show, variety shows, etc. as well as funny scenes from movies. 

*Listening to favorite retro music and watching music clips.

*Writing always puts me in a fulfilling mood, whether it's posting to this blog, writing articles for my freelance gig, or writing the blog for the company I manage social media for.

*Going out and laughing with a good friend or my Meetup group. 

*Taking a nap or mediating. 

*I stay away from too much bad news on the TV stations. Today had yet another sad and tragic national shooting story in the headlines. Sometimes it's best not to turn the news on at all and just take a break from it for a day, when it's nothing but violent and depressing stories. 

LaLanne's advice is pretty poignant today. I'm using it as motivation to keep the endorphins going as well as a reminder to smile more. 

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