Monday, December 08, 2008

I don't know why A Charlie Brown Christmas is still my favorite holiday TV special. Is it the hanging-on-for-dear-life tree, drooping southward with its one lone ornament? Is it the Peanuts characters getting their quirky moves on while Schroeder bangs on his piano keys? Is it the Gospel of Luke passage that Linus recites? Is it Vince Guaraldi's familiar jazz soundtrack? Who knows...I do know one thing: it always puts me in the holiday spirit, and it's one of the few Peanuts specials that didn't beat up on poor Chuck too much. It's airing tonight on ABC at 8 PM E.S.T.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The CBS Early Morning Show's producers must be big retrophiles, because this isn't the first time they've profiled previous decades on their program, but this week they're really going all out. Today's show featured the 50s along with interviews of former child television stars and a performance by Little Richard.



Harry Smith, cutie patootie weatherman Dave Price, and the rest of the Early Show family donned 50s clothing and wigs and snacked on TV dinners in a very mid-century modern living room. You can read all about it and watch video clips here.

Tune in the rest of the week when the crew highlights the 60s (tomorrow), the 70s (Wednesday) and the 80s (Thursday.) TV time travel here we come!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

When Michelle Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno a week or two ago wearing these classy duds, I was tempted to call JCrew up and ask them what items she was wearing. I had poked around on their site but couldn't find her graphic top. Happily, JCrew already did the work for me and they're now promoting her retro ensemble on their site. The yellow cardigan is $89.99, the dotted pencil skirt is $148, and the gold and brown deco tank is $99.99. The pin must be Michelle's own. Get 'em while you can!

What happens when you combine Fatboy Slim with clips from vintage Peanuts specials?

You get this, a perfectly coordinated and very cool video. I think it even trumps the 1980s Flashbeagle special.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TV and movie star Robert Wagner is out plugging his new autobiography, Pieces of My Heart. I caught a radio interview with him yesterday on a local station and one of the questions that the DJ asked was how old he was when he lost his virginity. "I was 12," he answered without hesitation. "And it was wonderful."

If Wagner were a gentleman he would've eluded to the fact that he doesn't kiss and tell. But at a time when school administrations everywhere are scrambling to prevent teenage pregnancy, and when parents on going on Oprah and Dr. Phil because their middle schoolers are admitting to having oral sex, I thought his response was rather disgusting. My mother had a more poignant opinion: "He's full of sh*t!"

Anyways, if you're still interested, Wagner's book chronicles his rise to fame and his many love affairs, including his infamous marriage to Natalie Wood. Heart to heart indeed!

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Where's the beef?"

"Mama mia, that's a spicey meatball!"

"He likes it! Hey, Mikey!"

I bet you recognize these lines from memorable commercials. So does New York Magazine, which featured them last month in a list of the top 20 television commercials from the past 40 years. Other ads that made the list include the fast-talking UPS guy, the American Tourister gorilla, and the iconic Volkswagen ads. You can see the whole list and view them online here. But one of my all-time favorites has to be the 1970s "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" ad for Coca-Cola. Because nothing says soda pop goodness like a bunch of hippies on a hilltop.

How many commercials running today do you think people will remember 40 years from now? Yeah, I thought so, too.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ron Howard took a break from directing to visit his former television costars for some retro fun and to help promote Obama in the process. Is it just me, or does the backdrop for the Andy Griffith Show look like a fake set? Alas, the segment isn't as funny without Don Knotts around, but Fonzie has the best line when he confuses "moose" with "loose." See for yourself:

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sadly, there are a few recent deaths in the news that I feel compelled to talk about.



First, Richard Blackwell aka Mr. Blackwell, best known for skewering poorly dressed celebrities with his annual Worst Dressed List, has passed away at the age of 86 from an intestinal infection over the weekend. He first started criticizing the famous fashionably clueless in 1960. Some of his zingers through the years include these priceless gems:

Madonna: "The Bare-Bottomed Bore of Babylon."

Barbra Streisand: "She looks like a masculine Bride of Frankenstein."

Christina Aguilera: "A dazzling singer who puts good taste through the wardrobe wringer."

Meryl Streep: "She looks like a gypsy abandoned by a caravan."

Sharon Stone: "An over-the-hill Cruella DeVille."

Lindsay Lohan: "From adorable to deplorable."

Patti Davis: "Packs all the glamour of an old, worn-out sneaker."

Ann-Margret: "A Hells Angel escapee who invaded the Ziegfeld Follies on a rainy night."

Camilla Parker-Bowles: "The Duchess of Dowdy."

Bjork: "She dances in the dark — and dresses there, too."

Spears: "Her bra-topped collection of Madonna rejects are pure fashion overkill."

I'm gonna miss you, Mr. Blackwell!



And secondly on Friday one of my favorite 60s Motown groups, The Four Tops, lost its lead singer, Levi Stubbs (second from left in above photo), at the age of 72. Stubbs sang the lead on all of the Tops' greatest hits including Baby I Need Your Loving, Same Old Song, Sugar Pie (Honey Bunch), Bernadette, and Reach Out I'll Be There. Stubbs' authoritative, powerful voice ensured that the Four Tops' music wasn't the same ol' song. What I find as remarkable as his career is that Stubbs was married to the same woman for over 40 years.

Both will be missed. Who will take over for Mr. Blackwell? If only there was a place I could send my resume to...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

OK, so it's not the real Hall and Oates but this recent SNL clip made me laugh so hard I had tears coming out my eyes. This catchy tune also pretty much summed up their working relationship.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Birthday.

What's this CD all about, Alfie? Apparently renowed British actor Sir Michael Caine is involved in the music business now, too. Earlier this year while promoting The Dark Knight on The View, he mentioned that he had a new CD out called Cained. I finally got around to looking it up and this is what Amazon.com had to say:

"In 2006, Cinematic Legend and Icon of '60s Cool Sir Michael Caine Surprised his Friend Elton John with his Expansive Knowledge of Music, in Particular, Chill-out Tracks. He Further Revealed a Penchant for Making his Own Compilations and Distributing them Among Friends. Word Spread and the Man Best Known for his Roles in Films Like "The Italian Job", "Alfie", "Get Carter", "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "The Ipress File" Presents his First Commercially Available Compilation of Favorite Tracks. "Much to My Surprise, and Probably Everybody Else’s, I Am Now in the Music Business." The Result is this Eclectic, Often Surprising Mix of Chill-out Classics of the Old Cafe Del Mar Style, Along with Selections of Jazz, World Music and Soul."

Who knew that Caine knew his way around two turntables and a microphone (and that he's really a ginger, judging by the album's cover.) Some of the songs include remixes and covers of Lay Lady Lay and Fields of Gold. Sounds interesting - too bad I can't listen to it, as it's available only in the UK and the site won't let you preview the tracks. Amazon.com will import it to American customers, but it's gonna cost you $46.98 (I think I'll pass in this current economic meltdown.)

Too bad - I would like to Get Cained!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Extra, extra, read all about it! The stock market is seesawing, our government is in shambles, and people are struggling to pay for gas, heat, and groceries.



1929? Nope, it's still 2008, but you wouldn't know it by the daily headlines and what you can find to wear in your local mall. Depression Era chic is in, so says a story that ran on Inside Edition a couple of weeks ago, plus the usual chain retailers like the Gap, Banana Republic, and Macy's. Call it a sign of our current downer time. That means lots of newsboy caps (weren't these in style already, like 5 years ago?), menswear inspired vests and baggy pants and lots of drab shades such as gray, black, and brown. Here's a cute herringbone vest I found on the Gap's site for $58.00.



And the colors aren't all bleak. Cloche or flapper hats, like the ones that Angelina Jolie wears in her new movie The Changling are very much in style as well. I found this bright red one in The Limited for $24.50.



Cute, huh? As cute as Christian Bale in Newsies.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Red hot redhead alert! When Daniel Craig took over the James Bond role a couple of years ago, there were many comparisons to Steve McQueen. But someone who I always thought more closely resembled the King of Cool is a British actor named Damian Lewis, who’s currently starring in the NBC drama “Life” and who had the lead role in the critically acclaimed HBO series “Band of Brothers” and the BBC’s “Forsyte Saga.” Lewis has said in interviews that he’s a Steve McQueen fan and if they ever made a biopic about the sexy 60s star that he would love to be considered for the part. I concur – they’d just need to tone down the carrot top a bit. See for yourself.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Martha Stewart opened her show sometime last week with this 15-foot long hotdog. The first thing out of her mouth was, "They say that length doesn't matter, but I disagree, especially when it comes to wieners." Martha, my dear! I nearly fell off of my chair! That Martha sure can be naughty sometimes. What's that old saying about being a gourmet chef in the kitchen, a housekeeper in the living room, and a tiger in the bedroom? Something like that.



Anyways, this post does pertain to something retro, if you'll bear with me. Since the whole show was devoted to hotdogs, she brought out vintage collector Charles Phoenix sporting his "hotdog suit" and cool looking "Astro Weenie Pineapple" party display, made of marischino cherries, pineapple, and cocktail weiners. Martha marvelled at how retro it was, and you have the option of inserting birthday candles in the weiners and firing them up. I could make a joke here about flaming weenies, but I'm keeping it clean.



Charles then showed several vintage hotdog related photos from the 50s and 60s. He actually has a pretty cool site full of retro pictures down memory lane, so check it out sometime.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm sorry for the lack of posts lately, but things have been so crazy between work and submitting articles that shamefully I haven't had much time to attend to my blog lately. I hope to rectify that soon later this week, when I have some time off.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

From the 1960s and the wonders of YouTube comes a bizarre propaganda video that was meant to scare people into not taking LSD. Note the ominous music when she orders a hot dog. I believe that the only thing it did succeed in doing was making people laugh so hard they split their guts (well, if they weren't already stuffed with hot dogs.) Boys and girls, what can we learn from watching this video?

1. Hot dogs can talk.
2. Hot dogs look like troll dolls.
3. Hot dogs have a wife and seven children at home.
4. Hot dogs scream like a woman when you bite into them.

Mmmmmm...anyone hungry?

I love this wedding photo of the Obamas:



And then I remembered why I love it so much:

Friday, September 05, 2008

What has Julian Lennon been up to lately? I had to do some research because it’s been ten years since he released his last album (Photograph Smile) and because I’ve been listening to songs from his first one, Valotte, which was so darn good (my favorite track is Say You’re Wrong.) Julian was a babyfaced cutie when we got a taste of his talent in the mid-80s. Remember the music video for Too Late For Goodbyes, which featured a leaping hippie figure suggested by many to represent his late and famous father John Lennon? I watched it on YouTube recently and had forgotten how young Julian was. His voice, looks, and songwriting ability, so uncannily like his dad’s, are still as disarming as the first time we were introduced to him just a few short years after his father was killed.



His story is one for the “where are they now?” specials. The media instantly latched onto Julian’s strong resemblance and famous last name but I seem to remember that throughout the interviews he gave to teen magazines at the time, he handled it all with class and tried to distance himself from his musical predecessor. Who could blame him, given the fact that of both Lennon sons, Julian was unfairly given the short end of the sibling stick. Julian was an unplanned baby and John was all but forced into marrying his mother Cynthia. He recalls that John once told him he “came out of a whiskey bottle on a Saturday night” and that Paul McCartney was the Beatle who spent the most time playing with him. When Beatlemania swept the world by storm, the public didn’t know that Julian and Cynthia even existed, as it was believed the knowledge that one of the Beatles had a wife and child would be detrimental to their image. He was treated badly by Yoko Ono – even after John’s death - and was pretty much left standing in the shadows after Sean was born. Photograph Smile was dedicated to Julian’s late stepfather, the man that Julian says was more of a father towards him then his real dad.

Valotte was a huge hit for Julian, and three hits songs came from the album. His follow-up album flopped however, and Julian soon sought solace in alcohol. He had a tiny role playing, ironically, a bartender in the movie Leaving Las Vegas.

The good news is Julian has a new album coming out this year, and his website will be relaunched to coincide with the release. He got married a few years ago (ironically, to a woman named Lucy) and seems to have turned his life around, away from the spotlight.

And if you ask me, of the two Lennon sons, he runs rings around the whiny, weird, effeminate-voiced Sean – a kid who once proclaimed that he didn’t even like Beatles fans. I’m totally psyched for a Julian Lennon comeback.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My local newspaper featured these kits recently and I dare say, I don't think all of them are just for little girls. A British company called Wu & Wu makes these brightly colored, Chinese-inspired toys and accessories. The pigtail kit, featuring real wool pom-poms, is adorable, as well as the baking and sewing kits, and they hover around a $14.95 retail price.





You can order them directly from the Wu&Wu site or find a list of retailers in the U.S. that carry them. I found a U.S. company called FridgeDoor that allows for online ordering and carries even more trinkets including a coin purse and pencil box.

Why not introduce the child (as well as your inner child) in your life to some retro-inspired trinkets that don't require batteries?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Picture courtesy AARP Magazine.

It's more than just the azure peepers and the salad dressing; it's the fact that Paul Newman may just about be one of the few "nice guys" left in Hollywood who has remained married to the same woman for half a century - almost as long as his movie career. Take that, Jude Law! And Charlie Sheen...and just about 85% of anyone male in Hollywood today.

Hello, I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! My Mac is *almost* back. I'm just waiting for my new modem to arrive in the mail either today or tomorrow, and hopefully I can get it working to begin posting more often again. I missed having Internet access over a three-day weekend!

Now onto today's post: Steve Greenlee of the Boston Globe sounds like an old-fashioned guy after my own heart. He wrote this very funny, sarcastic editorial aimed at everyone who thinks their cell phone is the coolest thing they ever toted around in the pocket. I'm copying and pasting the whole piece here - read it when you have a moment; trust me, it's worth it.



myPhone
Think you're so cool with that tiny phone that takes pictures and gets the web? Mine's better.

I got this cool new phone. I can call anywhere in the country with it. Let's say I'm in Massachusetts and you're in Ohio. I can call you and talk, and you'll hear me just fine. Or let's say you're farther away, like in Oregon. Same deal. You can hear everything I say. Unless I'm mumbling or something or I'm eating when I'm talking. Or I hang up on you, because you're being an idiot. Then you probably won't hear me.

Or let's say you're in another country or somewhere exotic. I can call you there, too. Maybe you're in Canada, or Alaska. You'd think maybe we couldn't talk until you got back to Oregon. But it's just like you're in Ohio. I can hear you, and you can hear me. What are you doing in Alaska, anyway? How's global warming up there? Seen any polar bears? I didn't think so.

My phone has big buttons for all the numbers. Not like on your phone, where you mean to press 5 but you accidentally press 4 because the pads are small and your fingers are fat. It's not your fault you've got fat fingers; your mother probably had fat fingers, too. But I press 5 and it dials 5. Not so much a dial, really, but a beep. I mean, who has a dial phone anymore? Dial M for Murder came out more than 10 years ago. They don't even make dial phones anymore. Well, they make phones that look like dial phones but actually have push-buttons where you would stick your finger through. Why do they call it Dial M anyway? Nobody uses the letters on the buttons. Why didn't they call it Dial 6 for Murder? That would make more sense.

I don't have to carry my phone around in my pocket. Not like yours. My phone hangs on my wall, like it's a piece of art. Which it is, compared with your phone. Your phone bulges in your pocket. I'd hate the feel of a phone in my pocket. Especially if my pants were a little loose. My phone would weigh them down, and I'd have to keep hitching them up. No such hassle with my phone. I don't go carrying my phone around with me. Also, I don't want my pants to ring every time someone calls me.

I've heard your ring tones. You think they're pretty cool, don't you? Guess what: No one wants to hear the chorus of "Macho Man." Certainly not every time your mother calls you. My phone rings just like the phone in It's a Wonderful Life. And I didn't have to pay a gazillion dollars to download the sound. You know the scene, where George is in Mary's house, and her phone rings, and it's what's-his-face, and George and Mary are listening together on the phone, and Mary's mother is listening in on the other line. Can your phone sound like that phone? Don't say it can when it can't. You can be so obnoxious sometimes.

So your phone can go on the Internet. So what? If the Internet catches on, then that might come in handy. But I'm not holding my breath. Also, if I want to see things on the Internet, I'll use my computer. And I don't. Because I tried buying Tuesdays With Morrie from Amazon once, and I called them and then "logged on" to their site, or whatever you call it, and guess what? I couldn't get in. Apparently you can't be on the phone and on the Internet at the same time. So what use is that on your phone? You sure got suckered.

I saw you trying to read The New York Times on your phone. You can be so stupid sometimes. How much of the paper do you think you can see on that tiny screen? I bought a much cheaper version of the newspaper for a dollar, and look how many pages it has. There's no comparison. Besides, if I didn't have a copy of the paper with me and I wanted to know what was in it, I would just use my phone to call someone to read me whatever I needed from his paper. Or I would call The New York Times and tell them my carrier threw my paper in a puddle and it's soaked, so could they send out another copy. Now I see you're watching the Red Sox on your phone. You clown. The players all look like ants. Come to my house and watch the games on my fancy color TV. On second thought, don't.

Your phone takes pictures? Big deal. I have a camera for that kind of thing. I've had it for years, and it works just fine. I don't have to plug it into a computer to get the pictures out either. I just take the picture, and - poof - the photo comes right out of the bottom of the camera. Try that on your new phone.

Steve Greenlee is the Globe's Living editor. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I start Lindy Hop dance lessons next month. Why Lindy Hop, as opposed to regular swing? Because to me, Lindy Hop is the real McCoy, the real hardcore version of swing popularized during the 1940s with its lifts and flips. Lindy Hop has an energy and personality all its known. It's the dancing you think of the most when you hear swing music. I can't wait. I'm excited and a bit scared. I'm 5'9", after all - it probably won't be easy for a guy to lift and fling me about - so say a prayer for him, whoever he may be. I'm sure most of the lifts won't come unless I make it to the advanced class, anyway.

In the meantime I've been looking up Lindy Hop clips on YouTube, and they sure look like fun. Here's a cute one I found from a 1944 movie I've never heard of called "Swing Fever." Here we hear the sad tale of one girl and two boys...wait, how can that be considered sad??? These dancers (that come on at 2:45) make it look so easy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My blog posts are going to be sporadic at best this week. The mother of all thunderstorms hit my neighborhood this past Saturday (I swear, it was so bad that if frogs and locusts rained down I wouldn't have been surprised) and a lightening bolt that struck freakishly close to my house fried a couple of the USB ports in the rear of my iMac. As a result, it's at the Apple Hospital this week getting a new kiester. A good lesson learned: never, ever leave ANYTHING plugged into your computer that is also plugged into an electrical outlet during a storm.

And it's bad, because it means I can't really post anything until I get it back later in the week. I'm trying to be discreet posting this from work.

The experience reminds me of a story I recently read online, The Machine Stops, a work by E.M. Forster that was written nearly 100 years ago. In this grim look at the future (the Brits just love this stuff, it seems), people are isolated in private rooms underground without windows that are entirely controlled by "the machine." All communication is conducted through the machine. People rarely see each face-to-face and human touch is considered repulsive and rude. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought it was scary, too, because our society seems to be slowly headed in that direction. But then when my computer went on the fritz I must admit life as we know just wouldn't be the same without them. I tried in vain to write with a notepad - not the same without editing tools at my fingertips - and I longed to tell my friends what happened to my computer, and couldn't!

Oh, machine! I hope to be back and running with more posts soon.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Land sakes! How did I possibly go a half month into the new month and forget to post this month's Retro Hottie of the Month? Uh, OK, who to choose...

It's Gregory Peck. I recently watched two old Gregory Peck films: Spellbound and The Big Country, and I can confirm that he was a certifiable hottie. Even playing the one-legged, crazy a$$, crusty Captain Ahab didn't take much away from his hotness, but I think everyone had a crush on him when Roman Holiday and To Kill A Mockingbird came out. I especially like him when he's wearing glasses. Atta boy, Atticus!

We knew this was coming...first you could Simpsonize yourself, then you could insert yourself into the JibJab cartoons. Now you can see what your past life's yearbook picture looked like with this cool but scary new site that I found, YearbookYourself.com.



(Be patient - the Flash homepage takes a moment to load.) Simply select your gender, upload a headshot photo, and voila - instant cringeworthy, ready-for-burning yearbook poses from various decades. My selection even had me in an afro, but they were all so fugly (not to mention out of proportion, even when I lined up my eyes and mouth perfectly according to the image viewer) that I'm too chicken to show any of them here. One of these days, though, I will have to post my Simpsonized self because it's just too cute, and several coworkers told me that it actually did look like me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Cue the drumroll and picture me in an evening gown (preferably a vintage one)...because Go Retro has won its first blog award, the Brillante Weblog Award. I'm flattered beyond belief that my blog has managed to attract a few fans who thought it was worthy enough to be recognized. I'd like to thank Lidian from Kitchen Retro and Amy from I Luv Retro Things for bestowing me with this award. You gals are just swell!

Be sure to check out their blogs sometime for more retro fun and goodies. I like to visit both every day.

Now technically, I'm supposed to pass this award onto 7 other worthy blogs...but here's the thing: I don't frequent too many, and the ones I do gave it to me. So, I promise, as I build up more relationships in the blogosphere I'll be sure to pass the award along.

Thanks again!
I've been meaning to post about this fabulous site I discovered a while back, Eurobad. As you might've guessed from the name, Eurobad highlights the best in garish European home design from the 1970s. Some are so eurobad, they're eurogood.

Mid-century modern furniture design from the 50s and 60s was so wonderful - lots of Danish teak and tasteful colors - so what went wrong when we reached the 70s? Did the effects of psychedelic drugs finally take their tole on interior decorating? A common mistake I've seen with a lot of 70s interior design seems to be that the more something matches, the better. It's the easy way out for people with no sense of home decor. Thus we've all seen a lot of bedrooms where the psychedelic design on the comforter is matched by the drapes, rug, and worse, the wallpaper. Therefore, I present a room to you that would make even Kermit the Frog dry heave. This particular gem of a kitchen was apparently created by someone who loved the color green so much so that it absolutely had to match the sportscar, or maybe it was the other way around? And as if they couldn't get enough green, they put two matching trees in there as well. (Click on picture for a larger view.)



There's more where this came from on the Eurobad site. Check them out, if you dare.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hasbro has recently partnered up with Reebok to launch a line of Monopoly-inspired sneakers featuring parts of the gameboard and game pieces. They coincide with the release of Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition board game, and come in styles for toddlers, kids and adults in both mid- and low-cut versions. There's no mention of them yet on the Reebok site, but they're supposed to range in price from $40 to $85.



They're cute and colorful, but a little too 80s for me - as in overly kitschy 80s fads that went out of style rather quickly. Too bad Swatch didn't make a corresponding Monopoly watch design to go with them.

In other Hasbro news, the company is celebrating the 35th anniversary of its popular Easy-Bake oven by reissuing the toy in the retro aqua blue color that was the 1963 model. Well, it still looks like a microwave oven to me. I think it would've been more fun if they reissued the actual original design.



I loved my Easy-Bake oven, though. I would still use it today. Don't you think they should market it to adults as a diet savior? I mean, it would encourage people to bake one-serving small cakes instead of a traditional size cake, reducing the temptation to overeat. I think I'm onto something here...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Photo courtesy Associated Press and MSNBC.



One of Elvis' famous white jumpsuits - this one adorned with embroidered peacocks - sold last night on an online auction site for approximately $300,000. While I normally think of the King's post-1969 wardrobe as downright tacky, I couldn't help but admire the beautiful detail on this one. Elvis paid $10,000 to L.A. fashion designer Bill Belew in 1974 to make the jumpsuit. He loved peacocks and considered them a symbol of good luck. They certainly seem to have brought good luck to the previous owner and the auction house Gotta Have It that made the sale.
I've been stuck in the 40s era for so long that the other decades of the 20th century are crying foul, so it's time to shake things up and post about pop culture of other time periods for a bit. I've been meaning to report on a huge and really rad 80s music festival that takes place in Lanarkshire, Scotland each year: Retrofest. This year it takes place August 30 and 31 at Strathclyde County Park and camping out is permitted, a la Woodstock. The line-up this year includes Boy George (sans the rest of the Culture Club), Howard Jones, Paul "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" Young (now there's a forgotten 80s classic), 10CC, the Bangles, and Kajagoogoo. Heck, who wouldn't pass up the chance to hear "Too Shy" live! I really wish I could go...the 80s was the last era that gave us listenable, danceable, still relatively innocent music...but Scotland is a bit out of my traveling range. Why doesn't this take place in the States? However, for those who are lucky enough to go, all of the information can be found on the Retrofest site. Don't forget your leggings and ankle boots!

Here's a picture of The Bangles. Gosh, I thought their hair looked so perfectly normal back then.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

It seems the days of June Cleaver and the 1950s housewife aren't as dead as people thought. CNN recently reported that a number of married women - and a good portion of them childless - are perfectly happy to stay at home while their husband brings home the bacon.



Dr. Scott Haltzman, who wrote "The Secrets of Happily Married Women", researched 650 stay-at-home wives and discovered that at least 10% of them were not parents.

The women who are fans of this lifestyle aren't exactly uneducated - many have college degrees - they just find it less stressful to be tasked with keeping a home clean, cooking edible meals, and having more personal time to themselves in a one-income household. They volunteer, enjoy their favorite hobbies, and believe that their marriages are happier as a result.

I have to admit, even as a modern age woman I don't find the idea as all that cringeworthy. After being single for so long and being employed since I was legally old enough to work (15 and a half) taking a break and taking care of a hubby - as long as he's a tolerable one - doesn't sound all that bad. I'd buy a couple of retro aprons, cook and bake cakes, and post a lot more often on this blog. I'd have a lot more time to try to break into freelance writing. But you'd have to have a secure marriage to do this - not to mention a career choice that won't suffer when one takes a hiatus from it, and enough money saved up "just in case." But where would you get that emergency fund if you're not working? Your weekly "allowance" from your husband's paycheck? And truth be told, I'd be bored and/or feel like I was wasting my talents to not be devoting some of it to the world.

Yeah, I'm not so sure I could go for this arrangement after all. Life today for women...soooo complicated. What do you gals out there think? Would you like to be a stay-at-home wife, or are you already one?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, NH which focuses on the WWII era. Well, I got the chance to visit this past weekend with a good friend and we sure had a swell (there's a 1940s term for you) time! David Wright founded the museum in 1994 as a tribute to all Americans who fought in the second world war. But while the building houses a lot of military memorabilia, there's an equal amount devoted to what life was like on the homefront between 1939 and 1945. Big band music was piped through the air as we explored 40s artifacts and a time tunnel which is a series of rooms highlighting a different year during the war.

This is just a sampling of pictures that I took during the visit. Ready for a virtual tour? OK, anchors away...

This car is in the lobby and it was love at first sight for me. Honey, I just wonder what you do in the back of your black Cadillac. And let me tell you, the backseat was certainly big enough for *that*, because we looked!



Here's a sampling of typical greeting cards that were made created especially to send to loved ones serving overseas. The amusing part is that there were instructions on what to include in your correspondance (talk about family, friends, pets, etc.) as if you didn't have a clue.



I told my friend I wanted this bike and she firmly informed me that it was a *boys* bike. The bike I have now is a boys' bike because my legs were too long for the women's model, so I still think it would suit me just fine! I found out that bikes back then required license plates and many came equipped with headlights.





This pencil pusher was showcased with old typewriters and other communication devices.



Sisters are doing it for themselves...and for the war effort.



How kids used to entertain themselves before the Internet, video games, and computers.



A typical kitchen scene - Dad's gone off to work or war while Mom stays behind with the baby. I made note of brand names we don't see anymore, such as Rinso soap.



The couple who donated their wedding outfits on the left wrote to each other for TWO YEARS, after ONE DATE IN PERSON before they got married. My how times have changed! Today, you can't email a stranger you found on an online dating site for longer than 2 days without them wanting to get together.



The little girl mannequin looked like she was either constipated or couldn't stomach her mother's singing. The sheet music on the piano was for "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." Good choice!



The military section of the museum: lots of tanks, motorcycles, uniforms, and an airplane.



When I first saw the soda fountain shop, I thought the lady in the background worked for the museum and would've gladly made me a soda pop rickey had I asked. I was hoping Mr. Plastic Soda Jerk was there just for show. But alas, although they had tables and chairs set up, it turns out everything was just for show.



Jukebox Saturday Night! Too bad it wasn't up and working.



I may have to show more photos in a later post - there was too much to include here! If you're ever in the lakes region of New Hampshire, the visit is well worth it. The musuem's site is http://www.wrightmuseum.org. Much thanks to my friend Jude for taking the snaps of me and accompanying me on this fun visit through history! I think someone needs to build 1950s and 1960s musuems now...
Last week my friend forwarded me a picture taken in 1918 of 18,000 men (who were training in Iowa to go off to the first world war) positioned logistically to form a gigantic Statue of Liberty. Knowing how easily digital photos can be manipulated in today's digital age, I wasn't about to post it unless it was legit. (Click on the photograph to see a large version of it.)



According to Snopes.com, not only did it turn out to be authentic, but it turns out there's plenty more where these "people pictures" came from. I followed a link to the Carl Hammer Gallery. These are just absolutely amazing! Two photographers named Arthur Mole and John Thomas came up with the concept - perhaps the first time in history the idea of making a large portrait out of people was orchestrated. Here are some selected pictures; there's more on the Carl Hammer site by following the link above. Click on each of them to see a large version.

The Living Uncle Sam



The Human American Eagle



Living Portrait of Woodrow Wilson



All photographs courtesy of the Carl Hammer Gallery. By the way, the Statue of Liberty portrait was done on a day when the temperature reached 105 degrees - many men passed out from the heat.
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