Monday, August 31, 2009

Word Up...Tell Me What's the (Key)word

Granny Bessie up above is shocked - shocked at some keyword searches that led visitors to my blog. I was pleasantly surprised to see some amusing ones of late and thought I'd share them with everyone.

First of all, my blog post about Julia Child's love life has attracted the most curious traffic lately, thanks to the hit movie "Julie & Julia." Many of the keyword searches include:

julia child's sex life
julia child sex
julia child was a virgin
julia child sexuality
julia child + sex
julia child and sex with her husband
julia child make love with her husband
saucy sex

Other actual amusing keyword searches include:

daryl hall young dressed like girls
jeans for fat people retro tv ads
+hottie+machine+bed+finger (I bet whoever searched for this was disappointed when it led to my post about the Magic Finger vibrating bed)
bad things in sesame street
chocolate ecstasy news
does tony orlando wear a wig
everybody knows everybody knows......can you hear the song
father has a lust for his daughter retro classics
father sex retro
retro nude hula dance
retro sex
two retro chicks picked up their male friend at the airport to have some real quality time with him
was willy wonka and the chocolate factory an acid trip
what are the steps to slowly go retro
who sung the song one moment on air bud golden retriever

Clearly, there is a theme here - sex does indeed sell. I never tire of what people come up with.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Diamond Is A Girl’s Best Friend

I’m not talking about the kind of diamond you wear on your ring. If I may be so blunt, I’m talking about one that many adoring ladies (myself included) would like to wear between their legs. Doh!

I’m talking about the one and only sexy sequened daddy that is Neil Diamond. That’s right...I am, I said (you just knew I had to throw that in here somewhere) a Neil Diamond fan. And yes, despite the fact that his career spans nearly 45 years now, I’ve only just recently become a convert and discovered his inherent sexiness. You may be thinking by now how pathetically late I am coming to the party (or just plain pathetic.) I admit that it’s the longest foreplay to musical fandom that I’ve ever experienced. Let me explain why…

Even though Diamond has been around since the mid-60s, my first real exposure to him was when I was in high school in the late 80s. In music class, our teacher made us sing “Hello Again” – over and over and over again. While I can appreciate the song now, it was not exactly a hit with teens who were into Bon Jovi and Duran Duran. We all thought it was the lamest song ever. (We also had to sing the Beatles’ “Here, There, and Everywhere” which we liked much better.)

But the main reason it was considered so uncool to like Neil Diamond at my high school is because of one socially awkward fellow who was our official class nerd. He idolized both Diamond and Barry Manilow, and sang their songs out loud in front of us every chance he got. I’ll never forget the day in drama class where he sang in a wavering, puberty saturated voice, something of Diamond’s – I don’t remember what – maybe “Heartlight” (which I consider his worst song because it’s a sappy tribute to E.T. and his friend Elliot) or maybe “Play Me” (which I do love.) I just know that everyone, including our teacher, was so tired of this kid’s shenanigans that no one even laughed; I think they all just felt sorry for him. The silent reaction was even louder than his singing.

But I’m not in high school anymore, and now, I really think the nerd was onto something. I’ve slowly gotten to appreciate Diamond starting with the hits that everyone knows such as “Cherry Cherry”, “Sweet Caroline”, and Cracklin’ Rosie” and uncovered more and more songs in my research that haven’t received strong radio play in years. What can I say? Our Diamond boy is a genius, and a triple threat who writes music, plays the guitar, and has a very distinctive singing voice. A dying breed, as we say, although I certainly hope not soon: Diamond is a living legend who – at age 68 - has outlived many others of his generation. His recent string of NYC performances (one of which was recently broadcast on CBS) were all sold out.

Besides, all that, he’s sexy. If you still don’t believe me then I dare you to watch the following YouTube clip and tell me that you don’t even get the slightest twinge in your nether regions. Here, Diamond sings “Play Me” with the incredible Shirley Bassey on her BBC program in 1974. These two singers together in each other's faces – plus an orange sequened jumpsuit – such a thing of beauty.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Kool & The Gang Made Me Cry

Don't ask me how I ended up watching them on YouTube yesterday, but for about a half hour I was in Kool & The Gang bliss, listening to songs I haven't heard in years: "Get Down On It", "Misled", "Too Hot", "Fresh", etc. I passed on "Celebration" since unlike the others, that one does still get good play on the oldies radio stations. There were, however, two videos that I wholeheartedly admit made me tear up a bit: "Joanna" and "Cherish." There is such beauty in both of these videos which I could not appreciate the first time I viewed them as a pre-teen, and I swear I'm not being sarcastic.

First of all, "Joanna." If you heard this song for the first time, you might think it's a simple love song to a girl named Joanna. And it is - except in the video, Joanna is a former Cotton Club singer who's now running a vintage diner. The band comes in and starts serenading her, and Joanna flashes back to when she was younger, in a fantasy that shows her on a date with then lead singer James "J.T." Taylor. I don't know why it tugged at my heartstrings so much, but it's just a very sweet video:

And secondly, "Cherish." There's a lot of stereotypical romantic elements in this video - lots of white clothing, seagulls, a little boy building a sand castle, someone riding a white horse, a girl who's really a mermaid - it all sounds very cheesy, doesn't it? And yet it isn't to me. It's one of the most romantic songs of the 80s, and I have to say I was moved to see images of family and friends sharing a meal, love, and laughter together.

These clips are just pure class, and an example of the creativity that went into the 80s medium known as the music video. They just don't write music or make videos like they used to.

RIP Ted Kennedy, Dominick Dunne, and Ellie Greenwich

While I'm sad about Senator Ted Kennedy's death, I did want to draw attention to two other notable people who passed away this week.

First, author Dominick Dunne. Dunne never stopped advocating for victims' rights, a cause that he became passionate about after his daughter Dominique (an actress, most famous for her role in "Poltergeist") was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, who only served 4 years out of a 6-year sentence. Dunne had ringside seats for the most notable murder trials of the rich and famous during the 20th century, the most notorious one being O.J. Simpson's case. He also wrote numerous novels based on real people and events - "The Two Mrs. Grenvilles", "A Season in Purgatory", and "People Like Us" - that were often turned into television movies and miniseries. He was 83.

Secondly, songwriter Ellie Greenwich passed away at the relatively young age of 68. Part of the Brill Building legacy, Greenwich cowrote (along with her husband Jeff Barry) several doowop girl group hits including "The Leader of the Pack", "Do Wah Ditty", "Be My Baby", "Going to the Chapel", "And Then He Kissed Me", and numerous others. Greenwich helped Neil Diamond early in his career and worked alongside Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, and Bobby Darin, just to name a few.

Lastly, you can say what you want about Chappaquidick (and believe me, lots of people are on the Internet) but I'll never forget the fact that Ted Kennedy sent me a personal email once. OK, maybe it was just sent from someone in his office, but the fact that he took the time to recognize me for an email I had sent to my local senators to help pass a bill to stop child trafficking/prostitution has never left me. I also just learned this morning that Kennedy, shortly after his brother John died, helped overturn a poll tax imposed on African Americans in the South (they had to pay $2 just to cast a vote.) That is just a drop in the bucket of his many accomplishments for people's rights.

RIP all three.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brylcreem Knows Sexy

They're telling us in this great retro ad that I found online. As hair began to get longer - and actually move on its own - in the 60s, both barbers and Brylcreem took a hit. Brylcreem fought back with some new products and by trying to tell the strapping but clueless young men of the late 60s that long hair wasn't sexy. This advertisement highlights some before and after makeovers and I have to say that in a few of these, Brylcreem got it wrong. I love how they pointed out to us which look was "sexy" and "not sexy."

I guess I would agree that fellow #1 isn't sporting the most flattering look, especially those chunky sideburns. I do love burns, but his are a bit too much. But it doesn't make sense to me that they let his hair grow an additional one and a half inches before cutting it off. Well anyways, score one for Brylcreem on this one.

Fellow #2's after photo makes him look like a one-hit wonder 70s singer, like one of those guys you've forgotten about who pops up on a Time/Life music infomercial promoting Bedtime Hits of the 70s. I actually think he looks better before.

Fellow #3: "Too much hair, too little face." Well, no offense to his looks but I disagree with that one. If I were him, however, I'd be more concerned with the size of my eyeglass frames than the length of my hair.

Fellow #4 - I do think this guy looks much better with a haircut.

Overall, that means Brylcreem got it right 50% of the time here. How much you want to bet after a few months, they all ditched the styling and went back to their growing ways? I'm guessing Brylcreem wasn't a sponsor of the Broadway musical "Hair" when it made its debut.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bad Cover Art of the Day: The Rolling Stones

I was going through my CD collection when I remembered this gem. For some reason, 1978's "Some Girls" is a Rolling Stones album that never seems to get much attention, despite containing some great songs including the hits "Miss You", "Beast of Burden", and "Shattered", not to mention a commendable remake of The Temptations' "(Just My) Imagination." Could the album's cover art have something to do with it?

It's definitely retro - we do like that. It's set up like an old store advertisement for women's wigs with the track titles masquerading as the names of the wigs' styles. The problem I have with it is the fact that Mick, Keith, and the rest of the boys were cheekily inserted as women beneath some of the wigs, and painted over with garish "makeup." Needless to say if you thought these guys were ugly before, they look like triple baggers in drag. While I can appreciate that this was designed before Photoshop, some of the faces are freakishly out of proportion - but I guess that adds to the cheesiness factor. I will say this - Jagger looks the best, almost as good as Hall & Oates in a previous bad cover art post.

The original cover art got the boys into hot water, but I can imagine it's a valuable collector's item today. It included the likenesses of Lucille Ball, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Farrah Fawcett, and Rachel Welch alongside the band. A lawsuit was threatened by those celebs still living, and the estates of Garland and Monroe, and the artwork was changed. That's why some of the ladies on the cover have their faces colored out.

You can't blame the Stones for going for an attention grabbing look, and the album is a good one. Some girls, however, are better off as guys.

Don't Feel Bad If You Missed Woodstock: These Guys Did, Too

Last weekend the media was ALL about Woodstock - former hippies, now in their late 50s/early 60s, reminiscing about the event, correspondents reporting live from Max Yasgur's picturesque farm, and surprisingly non-hazy recollections from some of the performers still alive who were there. What I kept thinking about, however, were the big name bands and performers of the time who were NOT there. That isn't to say that the lineup still wasn't sensational. Woodstock had lots of marquee acts to be sure - The Who, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Arlo Guthrie - I could go on and on. But where were The Doors, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, and so many countless others? Here's a list of the acts that were invited or considered, but for one reason or another never made it to Bethel, NY:

The Doors were a last-minute cancellation; the reason why is believed to be because Jim Morrison disliked playing for very large outdoor crowds.

Led Zeppelin turned down an invitation to play, believing they'd be reduced to being "just another band on the bill."

Bob Dylan was supposed to play, but canceled when his son became sick. He lived near the originally planned site and his residence was starting to attract a crowd.

Joni Mitchell canceled at the advice of her manager because she was already booked for "The Dick Cavett Show."

Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson didn't want to "spend the weekend in a field full of unwashed hippies."

Tommy James and the Shondells passed on the invitation since it hardly sounded like the music event of the century at the time. James later said that their secretary called them and said, "Yeah listen, there's this pig farmer in upstate New York that wants you to play in his field." The band later kicked themselves, not realizing the mark the event was to make on history.

The Byrds were burned out on the outdoor music festival scene and declined, later regretting it.

The Moody Blues were already booked to play in Paris.

The Beatles, the holy grail of 60s bands, were actually invited - in fact, John Lennon was all for it, but 1969 being the beginning of the end of the Beatles, he couldn't get the others to agree to it. Lennon offered to play with the Plastic Ono Band instead but the promoters declined (apparently, Yoko's wailing wasn't up to snuff for the event.)

The Rolling Stones were never asked to play.

Simon and Garfunkel were invited, but were "too busy" to accept.

To be fair, Woodstock promoters had a difficult time attracting big names to the event. It wasn't until Creedence Clearwater Revival agreed to play for the fee of $10,000 did other recognizable acts jump on board. No one could also ever predict what a phenomenon the three days turned out to be. And, would any of these groups have possibly added to the already spectacular event? It's unlikely...Woodstock was more about the coming together of so many people in one space and actually getting along. The music was just an added bonus. Still, one does wonder...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Emphasis on the Man in Mad Men

Ad men, ad men, we'll all mad for Mad Men.

I read an interesting blog post on Pop Vox (part of Newsweek) today, by Sarah Ball, called Why the Ladies Love Mad Men's Jon Hamm. As it turned out, the post really wasn't about the actor Jon Hamm but the character that he plays, that creative but enigmatic ad man and part-time scoundrel, Don Draper. With "Mad Men" having just started its third season the other night (I just started renting season 1 and got hooked immediately, so no one out there better spoil any secrets please) and the fact that the show's popularity has taken off...well, like the sales of a product after a really good advertising campaign (one that Sterling Cooper dreamed up), it doesn't surprise me that female fans of the show lust after dapper Don.

Personally, I'm not one of them - I consider Hamm to be what we call OK. I certainly don't think he's ugly by any means; I just don't find myself daydreaming about him - at least not yet (I still prefer this month's Retro Hottie of the Month, my Jacky Boy, further down on this page). But I know why so many women - like Sarah Ball and the women mentioned in her post - are, well, mad for Draper. It's because

Ball says that one of her friends call Draper "a man's man." One reader put it best in her comments: "Why do women love Don Draper - Are you kidding?! Gorgeous and the essence of masculine authority. In total contrast to the brow beaten wimps stumbling through commercials and sitcoms, terrified of the superior women around them. I AM of your mother's generation, and I adore him. Feminism has given us many things, but, oh, to have real men around again!"

I should point out that the women quoted in the post and those who left comments don't approve of Draper's constant bed bouncing. It's the quiet confidence he oozes that women find sexy. If we remove the philandering (and for me, all that 60s chain smoking and drinking) from the equation, Draper to me is an example of how I believe most women would like to see a man conduct themselves around them in the modern world, whether in the workplace or the singles scene: mature, confident, but definitely not a show-off. Draper would never tell a lady something creepy that would turn her off or scare her away on a first date; if online dating were available (and he weren't married) he wouldn't be posting pictures of himself showing off his biceps in bodybuilding poses (not that working out that way was in fashion in the 60s) and he's certainly not playing yet-uninvented video games in his spare time. Even though he's won advertising awards, he never brags about them. Not to mention the clean shaven face, a bit of Brylcreem, and tailored suits covering a body unmarred by tattoos and piercings certainly don't hurt.

If the show is hot, then the Don Draper persona is even hotter, and "Mad Men" is making women lust for the way guys - or at least, the way they imagined guys from the early 60s - used to be. Now if we can only get them to stop all that smoking...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP Les Paul

Guitar pioneer Les Paul has died at the age of 94. Those of you who play the guitar surely know who the man was...but for those who didn't, Paul pretty much invented the electric guitar and the process of multitrack recording and overdubbing, which revolutionized the way music was recorded in the 1950s. Multitrack recording allows musicians to record different instruments at different times and sing harmony with themselves.

Here's a perfect example of this, in footage of Paul with his then wife Mary Ford, whom he had many hits with in the 1950s. Here they are performing "How High the Moon." Yes, that is a young Alistair Cooke before his "Masterpiece Theater" days.

Paul was a legend to anyone in the music industry who could play the guitar and up until recently played a set weekly at a jazz club in NYC. Somewhere there's music, how high the moon...

Rock and Bowl

I saw these bowls and snack trays made out of recycled vinyl records at a local museum this past weekend, and thought they were really cool. Green/reusable goods is all the rage these days. Needless to say, because they are made out of vinyl records there are a few restrictions on their usability: they are suitable for dry goods only, and will melt if you put them in the dishwasher. You also can't choose a particular artist, which is understandable, but you do have your choice of genre of music. Buy them for $25.00 at

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Confused - Question for the Expert Bloggers Out There

Can any good person out there in the blogosphere tell me how to reorganize my old posts by decade? I'd like to have a list on the side that includes 1940s, 50s, 60s, etc. and when you click on the decade it would take you to all of my previous posts relevant to that decade. I know there's a way to do it, but I haven't been able to locate it. Much appreciated if anyone can point me in the right direction!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Quiet Library?

I know just how Uncle Sam feels...he probably visited his local library.

If you were born in the 70s or earlier, I'm certain that you learned at an early age to be quiet and respectful in a library. I sure know that it was for me--each year in elementary school, our school librarian would pay us a visit and remind us of the rules: low voices and whispering or no talking at all; no horseplay and running through the aisles; and books were to be treated with respect (you didn't own them, after all.) Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, and The Electric Company all made the word QUIET synonymous with the building that contained the books we borrowed. The reason why is simple: people go to a library to study, concentrate, or otherwise read books in peace.

When I was in high school, there was a crotchety old librarian at the local town library that my friends and I nicknamed the Nazi Librarian, because she did not tolerate even whispering of any sort, particularly from giggly teenage girls. She also wore queer plastic sleeves to cover her arms--the reason why my friends and I never learned.

With all that in mind, I'm wondering if anyone out there--particularly a parent--could explain to me what happened to all that. Some of them treat a library like it's a daycare center. You see, I've experienced and have heard many complaints from other people about how children behave in libraries today, and it isn't pretty. I've seen it first hand with kids--not in the children's library, mind you - but the regular adult sections--screeching, screaming, throwing temper tantrums, and running rampant around bookcases and tables where people are trying to read. There's no corrections or reminders whatsoever, and some parents actually think their child's behavior is highly amusing or cute when they do this. We have a family friend who's a librarian in the children's section who has been equally appalled by what passes for acceptable behavior in a library today. And I really don't get why a library's staff can't remind people that a library is a place of respectful quiet. Is someone afraid of a lawsuit?

I don't know if this is tolerated in other countries, but it's definitely become a problem in the U.S. It's downright rude and disrespectful. If your kids can't behave properly in a quiet public place then for the love of God and respect to fellow library patrons, don't bring them. Let's put the quiet back in library.

In case anyone forgot, our friend Grover here demonstrates how to talk in a library:

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month: Jack Vincennes

I have been WAY behind posting the monthly Retro Hottie of the Month. I'm now eleven days late with this one, and thought perhaps this time I'd do something different: I'm choosing not an actual actor, but a movie character.

One of my favorite Kevin Spacey movies is 1997's "L.A. Confidential"; my favorite Kevin Spacey role is the one he played in it, Detective Jack Vincennes. By the way, if you've never seen this movie and you love movies set in other decades (which you must be if you're reading this blog), it's just a classic. It's set in 1950s Hollywood and follows a trail of corruption in the L.A. police department. It also stars a young Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce (two Australians who dropped their accents for the movie), Kim Basinger, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito, and one of my favorite character actors, David Strathairn. The cars, the sets, and the clothing are all gorgeous.

And so is Spacey - he never looked better, in my humble opinion, then he did while in this movie. In casting him, director Curtis Hanson told him to imagine his character as being very Dean Martin-like, with the suits, ties, and cufflinks to match. They gave him a hairpiece, too. His character comes across as a bit of a jerk at the beginning of the film, but then he slowly regains his moral values and turns into one of the good guys. He just oozes coolness throughout the movie, which makes him very hot indeed.

I'm not going to give it away to those who haven't seen it yet, but this movie also contains one of the most well acted death scenes I've seen on the screen.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Saucy Sex Life of Julia Child

Bon appetite, indeed:

Image from Vanity Fair
There's a famous saying attributed to Jerry Hall that says in order to keep a man, a woman must be three things: a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen, and a whore in the bedroom.

I'm not sure on the first one, but after watching the new movie Julie & Julia it seems that Julia Child had the last two down pat. In the new film, the kitchen was not the only place in the Childs' French residence where things got hot and steamy. Speaking about the movie on The View last week, writer and director Nora Ephron compared Julia and her husband, Paul, to a "couple of rabbits." She said love letters written between the two reveal a very active sex life.

Image from Vanity Fair
None of this is surprising, and it actually makes Julia's larger than life but still approachable persona all that more real to me. Julia could be the new personal icon to legions of never-married ladies in their 30s and 40s. She was in her 30s (and, according to Ephron, a virgin. She had pretty much resigned her life to being a spinster) when she met her husband Paul, who was ten years older, during WW2. That means they had the good fortune of behaving like newlyweds later in life.

Julia: "We were based at a lovely old tea plantation, and I could look out my office window into Paul's office. I was still unformed. He was ten years older than me and worldly; he courted various other women there, but we slowly warmed up to each other."
Source: Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme. My Life in France. 2006. pg. 118.

Image from Vanity Fair
I've heard snippets here and there that the devoted couple were very much in love, and Paul is certainly portrayed as a supportive, adoring husband. For Valentine's Day, they would make their own postcards of themselves - one bizarre shot, which I've tracked down up above, showed the couple sitting together in a bubble bath, which were then mailed out to friends.

There is a very somber scene in the movie where Julia learns that her newly married (and even taller sister) is pregnant, and she breaks down into tears in Paul's arms, revealing that she wanted children of her own. It's very sad, but at the risk of offending mothers everywhere I have to say I don't think she would've had the career she had if she had children, and I also think being childless gave her a less stressful marriage.

Julia and Paul Child enjoyed a marriage that lasted nearly 50 years until Paul's death in 1994.

By the way, the movie is nothing short of fantastic - funny, hearty, and a fun ride. I thoroughly recommend it - and not just for the women.

Friday, August 07, 2009

To All the (Celebrity) Men I've Loved Before

Celebrity crushes: we’ve all had them. But can whose image graced your bedroom walls or locker as a child/teen reveal anything about what you are attracted to as an adult? I was curious, so I decided it might be fun to take a look back at my own maverick list. There’s no Backstreet Boys, no members of Duran Duran, or Kirk Cameron anywhere on this list, by the way. Just the honest-to-goodness guys who floated my boat, cranked my tank, and rocked my world during my formative years. At the risk of embarrassment, here were my faves:

Shaun Cassidy
My age at the time: 5

Yes, I started young. But how could I help it? Every day after kindergarten (and then, eventually, first grade) I’d watch The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries series. Even though Wikipedia tell me this was a prime time show, I’m pretty sure I watched them shortly after getting home from school. And there was Shaun – the much cuter Cassidy brother (sorry, David fans) with his luminescent hair, eyes, and smile, solving mysteries with Parker Stevenson – whom you may recall, later became Kirstie Alley’s first husband. One of my sisters tried to deflate my first puppy love by telling me that Shaun had pimples, and that Stevenson was the better looking Hardy boy. But she made up for it by buying me a plastic toy guitar with Shaun’s picture emblazoned across it for my 6th birthday.

What Ended the Crush:
Don’t know. I remember when Shaun performed a TV concert and serenaded a very lucky young lady in the audience with “They Do Run Run Run.” Maybe I got jealous. And so, after having enough of young guys for a while, I soon became infatuated with…

John Davidson

My age at the time: 9 or 10

Here is where I will admit things took a turn for the creepy. Looking at this scary cover of People magazine now, I don’t know what I saw in the plastic face of Davidson, who was a co-host of an interesting program called “That’s Incredible.” This show was sort of like the first original television sideshow, featuring scientific and medical oddities and people who had unusual talents. One of the other co-hosts, by the way, was Peter Billingsley, star of “A Christmas Story.” Davidson was very TV anchorman-like in looks (with hair that would make John Edwards jealous.) He also hosted his own talk show and starred in cheesy movies with equally cheesy titles like “Coffee, Tea, or Me.”

What Ended the Crush: I honestly don’t remember. Maybe it was when “That’s Incredible” was canceled, or maybe I came to my senses and realized things would never work out between us given the enormous age difference. Or maybe it was this guy…

Stephen Collins

My age at the time: 10

Years before he became known as the father on “Seventh Heaven” Stephen Collins starred in an early 80s ABC series called “Tales of the Gold Monkey.” The adventurous series was heavily influenced by the recent success of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and centered around a leather jacket-wearing hero named Jack – played by Collins, who, along with his one-eyed Jack Russell terrier, Jake, and his sidekick, Corky, fought the bad guys in a pre-World War 2 South Pacific. As Jack, Collins was the cute, romantic, and charming all-American boy next door, and I was smitten.

What Ended the Crush: The show was cancelled, the many of first favorites of mine through the years on ABC. Fortunately, NBC had a program about to debut about a talking futuristic Trans Am and his driver, a former cop, who solves crimes who was played by…

David Hasselhoff

My age at the time: 11-12

I said it before and I’ll say it again: way before he was mopping hamburgers off the floor in a drunken stupor, Hasselhoff was a gorgeous knight – as in Michael Knight – in shining armor. Tall and strapping with chest hair and tight pants, Knight was the perfect companion to his equally sexy partner in crime solving, KITT, the indestructible Firebird who could do anything. I remember getting hooked on “Knight Rider” from the very first episode and watching it faithfully every Friday night.

What Ended the Crush: After watching “Knight Rider” for a few weeks on a local retro network, I think I was reminded of why I eventually lost interest in the show: you can only take so much camp for an extended time. The show is most effective in small doses as a guilty pleasure. Besides, it was time for some humor, which is why I was slowly developing an interest in…

Bill Murray
My age at the time: 13

I know what you're thinking, but a girl’s gotta have someone who can make her laugh. I think it was “Ghostbusters” that did it for me (and, well, there was a romantic storyline in that movie between him and Sigourney Weaver), because after that I’d stay up late to catch Murray on old episodes of “Saturday Night Live.”

What Ended the Crush: My best friend at the time told me that Murray was on drugs, and that I should “go back to Hasselhoff.” But that ship had sailed. Fortunately, there was a tall, blonde troubadour waiting in the wings to sweep me off my feet, and his name was…

Daryl Hall

My age at the time: 13-14

I wish I could remember the first Hall and Oates video that “did it in a minute” for me, but they were all over the music video channels in those days. I do remember I loved how Daryl looked in the “Out of Touch” video, wearing a leopard print jacket and shimmying about the set. My family had vastly different opinions, and, perhaps worried about this rock and roll influence, (if you can call Hall and Oates’ music hard core rock and roll) tried to undermine the crush by being…well, plain old meanies. My sisters gave me hell and said that Hall and Oates were gay. My mother pointed to one of the Neanderthal characters in a clip from the movie “Clan of the Cave Bear” and said he looked like Hall. None of which mattered to me. I thought “Method of Modern Love” had possibly been written – not for Sara Allen, Hall’s long-time girlfriend – but for me.

Hall and Oates also became a source of comfort when I came down with an illness in the seventh grade. An obscure virus settled in my neck, paralyzing it with great pain for three weeks, and I was essentially bedridden and on antibiotics for that time, missing school. Listening to their music via cassette tape and Sony Walkman helped pass the time while I recuperated.

What Ended the Crush: I lost that loving felling all because of hair – a VERY important physical feature of the opposite sex when you’re 14. Hall grew his straight, cleanly cut blonde locks into a badly permed, very long mullet. He debuted this new look during a live concert on cable that my friends and I watched during a sleepover party. This bad hair day (which eventually stretched into years for Hall – not a good look for him) bothered me so much that I ran straight into the waiting arms of…

Don Johnson
My age at the time: 14-15

Miami may be a hot city, but Johnson was even hotter as Sonny Crockett on NBC’s “Miami Vice.” The thought of the greasy, foul mouthed Colin Farrell reprising the Sonny Crockett role in the recent movie gives me food poisoning, because Johnson forever owns that role. It didn’t matter that most of the plots were over my head; that wasn’t the reason I watched the show. I loved the series so much that for my 15th birthday, I had a “Miami Vice” themed party, and requested that my friends come sockless (even though my birthday is in January and I live in New England.) Most of them happily obliged, and we watched the pilot movie – on VHS.

Also, and I say this with all seriousness, but of all of the male TV actors who recorded albums during the 80s, I think Johnson had the best voice. Remember his hit “Heartbeat”?

What Ended the Crush: The show went off the air in 1988 or so, and I was looking for a replacement. Happily, that would have been…

Peter Strauss
My age at the time: 16

If I had my choice of any of these men today, the handsome Strauss is the one I’d pick, and yet very few people recognize his name. He gained notoriety in the 1976 miniseries “Rich Man Poor Man” costarring alongside Nick Nolte, and was referred to as the “King of the Miniseries” for a while during the 80s. But the role that did it for me was when he played a Polish hotel baron in the television miniseries “Kane and Abel.” As a Polish American, there were so few roles that portrayed my ethnic background, let alone those that portrayed someone of importance, and I couldn’t resist the Eastern European accent that Strauss tried on for the role. He also played Peter Gunn in an updated TV movie of the original series, and appeared nearly naked in one of the scenes, holding nothing but a towel over his private parts, surprisingly risqué for 1980s prime time television. Yes, THAT is a scene that I’ve never gotten out of my head…as if I would want to.

What Ended the Crush: Actually, I don’t think my fondness for Strauss ever ended.

So, looking back, is there anything that I learned from this trip down memory crush lane? I’ve learned that unlike most of my peers, I didn’t (and still don’t) crush (most of the time) on the typical eye candy that everyone else seems to be drooling over, and in general I go for men, not boys. Overall, I think I have good taste.

Swine Flu Deja Vu

You may think that swine flu is a term unheard of before 2009, but in 1976 a swine flu outbreak in the U.S. caused then President Gerald Ford to push for a new vaccination program. Instead, the strain only killed one person, an Army recruit who was the first patient to come down with the virus (and 25 more died from complications from the vaccine.) Health officials went into a panic, comparing it to a flu of deadly proportions not unlike the pandemic of 1918 which killed millions of people worldwide. After much ado about nothing, the incident became known as the swine flu fiasco.

It also created these funny propaganda commercials meant to scare people into getting a shot. The second one is even funnier if you close your eyes and pretend that you don't know what they're talking about is the flu. It makes it sound like our friend Betty really gets around!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Don't You Forget About John Hughes

This has just been an unbelievable year for celebrity deaths, but I'm particularly surprised and saddened about the sudden death of movie director John Hughes. He died of a heart attack today while going for a walk and was only 59 years old. For anyone who grew up in the 80s, I am sure you feel the same way I do about Hughes movies - "The Breakfast Club", "Sixteen Candles", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", and "Some Kind of Wonderful." Classics. In fact, the last time I watched "The Breakfast Club" I was on a business trip and was disappointed that I had to turn the TV off in the middle of the movie to catch my ride back to the airport. They were smart, funny, thought provoking, and anyone attending high school at the time could relate to them. Today, movies about and aimed at the same adolescent demographic are mostly full of moronic, bathroom humor. When Hughes stopped making teen comedies/dramas, the movies that followed were never the same.

59 from a heart attack. Unreal.

I've been having the most stressful week ever, but hope to get back to regular posting soon. I've so much to write about and so little time.

What is your favorite John Hughes movie?

Monday, August 03, 2009

To Be-atles or Not to Be-atles

If you're a Beatles fan and you've never seen this skit before, then you are in for a treat.

When I was in college, my English teacher showed this spoof to us shortly after we had read Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I have to say it trumps the movie version, which was also made in the 60s, but nowhere near as enjoyable. And if you're a fan of the British series "The Vicar of Dibley" you might recognize the announcer at the beginning of the video as Trevor Peacock, who played Jim "No No No No No" Trott. It's kind of scary to me that I picked him out right away.

Side note: For those of you in the Beatles fan community who happen along this blog, you might recognize the "P" vest that Paul is wearing, especially if you knew the late, wonderful Joe Pope and subscribed to his fanzine Strawberry Fields Forever, or called his hotline the Beatlephone. He wore the vest (well, the P could be for Pope, after all) and auctioned it off at one of his "Magical Mystery Tour" Boston conventions in the mid 70s.

Such great memories...enjoy:

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