Friday, January 30, 2009

High Art!

I miss the days when music videos were so much more than scantily-dressed dingbats lip-synching to songs that they didn't even write. Back in the 80s, the music video as a marketing medium was often high art - there were actual plots wrapped up in those three minutes of music. Yeah, they were often cheesy - but fun. Where did all of that imagination go?

I present two examples that I remember quite well from my teenagehood for that reason. They're both from the band Chicago - not the first group, I'm sure, that springs to mind for most people when you think of great 80s music videos. But check them both out. The only Chicago I like is when the band was fronted by cutie-patootie (and fellow Polish-American) Peter Cetera. The first video, for "Stay the Night", has Cetera as a car mechanic lusting after a slutty 80s beyotch on wheels. This video was actually well produced, and features the infamous L.A. ductway - how many films has this location made an appearance in? It sort of reminds me of a Steve McQueen movie - although there's no explanation why Cetera survives, let alone still looks good, after his truck blows to smithereens.

The second, for "Along Comes a Woman" (a good song I haven't heard in years) was definitely very Indiana Jones/Casablanca-inspired, with the band's cameo fitting in nicely with the brassy music of the 30s and 40s. Enjoy...and what are some of your favorite/most memorable music videos from the 80s?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Talking About My Pepsi Generation

Retro is big in advertising lately. There are two fun commercials currently running on TV right now that pay homage to their brand's past. First we have Pepsi, which was first marketed in 1898. The commercial shows the enjoyment of the iconic soft drink through the decades all in 60 seconds, to the tune of The Who's "My Generation."

Then we have the cheeky ad Virgin Atlantic is playing in the UK to celebrate the airline company's 25th anniversary. It reminds me very much of a scene from the Leonardo DiCaprio/Tom Hanks movie "Catch Me If You Can", except it's very 1980s, and if anyone doubts the recent study that men are attracted to the color red, this might change your mind. Both ads are well done and entertaining. Enjoy!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cat Scratch Fever

What's new, pussycat? Apparently, some very cool looking retro/modern scratchers, beds, and kitty condos for your cat!

I ordered a cat condo for my own cat through this site a couple of weeks ago, and noticed they had some neat accesories that would fit in with any modern or retro decor. First up is this bent plywood scratcher covered in carpet. It can be hung on the wall to give your pampered kitty a place off the ground to sleep. Unfortunately, the price of style and substance isn't cheap these days. This piece retails for $309.00, and shipping is an additional $40.

Maybe a cat bed/condo is more kitty's style? This one retails for $119.95 and ships for an additional $19.99. It features foam scratching pads, and also comes in a two floor model.

How about a micro-suede "wave" pet bed? This holds up to 50 pounds of pet, comes in a variety of groovy colors, and retails for about $90.

Finally, if you're among the fortunate living in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or Frank Gehry (or want to pretend that you do) the Lotus Cat Tree is the ultimate modern play tower for cats, made from solid pine wood. The cubby can be utilized to hide a little box.

You can find all this and more at the CatsPlay website. Although I didn't buy any of these specific models, I can attest that the shipping was fast and the condo I ordered only needed very minor and easy assembly, and it's study enough to support my big boy.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hey Marty, You Must Have a Dame!

The 1955 movie Marty is one of my favorite old films. Like many people it has won over, I think a major part of its appeal is the fact that two regular looking actors were cast in the lead roles, instead of the usual glossy Hollywood phonies. We have Ernest Borgnine starring as Marty, an Italian-American butcher bachelor who still lives at home with his mother, and Betsy Blair as Clara, the plain Jane schoolteacher who awakens Marty's heart just when he's resigned himself to a lifetime of living alone (or, rather, with Mom.)

The movie was based on a teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky, and won several Academy Awards including Best Actor for Borgnine. It's a touching and timeless story that anyone in the singles scene can relate to: two ordinary people finding love and not succombing to social and family pressure (Marty's loser friends don't approve of Clara's looks, and Marty's mother fears being left alone now that the prospect of her son marrying and moving out looms on the horizon.) Marty and Clara meet at a dance (back when there were actually ballrooms, ladies wore poofy skirts, and men actually wore jackets and ties when going out.) Clara's complete arsehole of a date has deserted her because he considers her a dog (he's not exactly Charlton Heston) which turns out to be lucky for her. I hate to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, but Borgnine's verbal smackdown to his so-called friends minutes before the credits roll is one of my favorite moments in cinematic history:

"What am I, crazy? I got something good here! You don't like her. My mother don't like her. She's a dog. And I'm a fat, ugly man. Well, all I know is I had a good time last night. I'm gonna have a good time tonight. If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna get down on my knees. I'm gonna beg that girl to marry me. If we make a party on New Year's, I got a date for that party. You don't like her? That's too bad."

Here's that same scene, from YouTube. You go, Marty!

Time Travel

With the global economy headed down a murky-looking road, it's unlikely that travel is on the top of a lot of people's lists this year when it comes to spending cash. But if you're among the fortunate who can swing a trip, The Independent published an article last year called the The Complete Guide to Retro Travel. It's a compilation of vacation ideas and places to see and do that remind you of another era. For example, you can embark on a vintage tour of Paris, rent a 1970s VW Bus for a drive around the Isle of Wight in the UK, or get your retro kicks on Route 66 in the States. For more inspiration, check out the article here.

Photo courtesy The Independent.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know I'm a week late. My New Year's Resolution for more often to this blog?

With all that's going on in the world I still feel that 2009 will be a good year. I wish everyone I know a happy, healthy, and prosperous one.

Here's a lovely little picture of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward stealing a kiss at a New Year's Eve party, circa 1961. Photo courtesy of the Life Magazine online archive.

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