Thursday, August 03, 2017

We All Live In a Research Submarine: the USS Albacore


I'll admit it...I may have a thing for submarines.

After I watched Das Boot a few months ago, I had a thought: it would be fun to actually visit a submarine on display. I didn't even bother to look up if there were any near me, but it turns out I didn't have to. A couple of weeks later, on the day before Father's Day, my friend Patti and I were driving to Portsmouth, NH when she makes one wrong turn, then another. Then as she's turning around I tell her about the dream I had about my late father a few nights earlier: my dad was alive, and in the dream I kept telling myself I had to tell him I watched Das Boot again. Only I never did, and woke up a little bummed out.

No less than a minute after telling her this story, she points to her left and says, "Oh. My. God. Look!"

And there on our left is a huge honking submarine, the USS Albacore. And you can visit it! (Thanks, daddy!)

Last weekend we finally went back and toured the sub. The USS Albacore didn't see any warfare (although it was named for an earlier American WWII sub that sadly, sunk off the coast of Japan during the war) but that doesn't make it any less cool. This vessel was a Navy research sub, mainly used to test emerging submarine technology. (One of these was as improved ballast tank blow system, used during emergencies to help subs resurface.) Her official motto was"Praenuntius Futuri" or "Forerunner of the Future." She was commissioned in 1953 and known for her speed (27 knots for short distances) and agility. Decommissioned in 1972 (the year I was born), she sat at the Inactive Ship Facility at Philadelphia until 1984, when she was towed to Portsmouth. A year later, Albacore Park started to take shape and eventually opened to the public in 1989.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Beauty Salon Dropout: Why I Cut and Color My Own Hair In the Year 2017

A (very purple!) 1980s hair salon. Image via Scanagogo
A few months ago I made the difficult decision of emailing my hairdresser to let her know I was breaking up with her. It wasn't because I was unhappy with her work -- quite the opposite -- but she had moved twice within the past year, eventually opening up her own salon in a town that simply felt too far away for me to drive to for a haircut. I wished her good luck with the new business venture and thanked her for all of the awesome styles she gave me through the years not to mention all of the times she patiently listened while I cried in her chair over a dope that broke my heart.

What I didn't mention in the message is that I had recently trimmed my own hair and was pleased enough with the results that I had no intentions of seeing her, or any other stylist, again any time soon. I had perused a ton of DIY haircut tutorials on YouTube and finally one afternoon took the plunge myself (I actually did more then trim; I cut off about an inch and a half, which is what I wanted.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Time Ronald McDonald Hung His Head In Shame: Mac & Me


The 1980s decade was not the best time for McDonald's, branding-wise. Late in the '70s they were sued by Sid and Marty Krofft over their McDonaldland characters, which the brothers claimed were a copyright infringement of H.R. Pufnstuf and related characters. The Krofft brothers won, and McDonald's was ordered to stop using several of the McDonaldland characters in advertising and commercials. In 1987, they introduced a new character -- Mac Tonight -- who had a giant crescent moon for a head and wore a tux and shades. He sang a reworked version of Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife" and landed McDonald's in hot water again when they were sued by Darin's estate for infringing upon his trademark song without permission.

Then there was the time McDonald's got involved with the movie business. The result was Mac & Me, released in 1988 and widely considered one of the worst movies ever made. I can now say that I'm one of the few that has watched Mac & Me (it's been uploaded to YouTube) and it was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life (but alas, a retro blogger's got to do what a retro blogger has to do.) I don't think there's a word or phrase in the dictionary that can adequately convey how bad this movie is, but sh*t show comes close.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Jürgen Prochnow Should Have Been a Huge Star In the States


Hey Germany, let's make a deal. I'll trade you George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, James Franco, Matt Damon, Ryan Gosling, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, and Justin Timberlake for your Jürgen Prochnow.

In fact, I'll trade anyone that's ever been featured in the pages of People magazine's annual Sexiest Men issue and anyone else that the Hollywood media deems that us warm blooded American females should be drooling over...because they say so...for your Jürgen Prochnow.

All of these pathetic American "actors", you can have them all. Just give me Jürgen. Please?

OK, if the answer is nein, I don't blame you. I wouldn't trade him, either.

But he should have been a huge star here. I'm talking bigly. (I just noticed that Blogger didn't autocorrect bigly. So it's a word after all.)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Why I Simply Cannot Stomach The English Patient


In my last blog post I raved to you about a movie that totally won my heart, Das Boot. In today's blog post, I'm going to gripe, vent, grovel about and generally rip apart a film that lost it: The English Patient.

No one would be more surprised to hear this than my high school friends, who went with me to see the movie when it opened in theaters in 1996. Back then I thought it was romantic, sexy, and tragic. I suppose the crush I had on Ralph Fiennes at the time had something to do with it...this was way before he started losing his hair and turned into Lord Voldemort.

But time and life has a way of educating one's self. While watching clips of the movie online the other night, a profound realization swept over me: this is a pretty stupid movie.

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