Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Apron

There's an email circulating that waxes nostalgia about aprons: how they were for more to protect clothing during cooking, but to wipe away fingerprints from glasses, carry eggs from the chicken coop, and dry the tears of a crying child. The email also ponders if today's children even know what an apron is. Indeed, the apron used to be required wear of all housewives from the 1930s through the 60s, and were quite stylish, often taking on the shape of a sundress accompanied by a colorful pattern. They were often embellished with ruffles and pockets. For today's working woman, not so much. And most aprons post 1970s usually meant a tacky saying such as "kiss the cook" on a rather straight-edge, no-frills design.

Although aprons definitely seemed to have their heyday in the 50s, I say it's time to put some fun back into the kitchen with vintage-inspired aprons (and actual aprons from the 30s-60s.) Fortunately there's no shortage of online sources that sell some truly adorable aprons. Here's just a smattering:

Jessie Steel
Vintage Aprons
The Apron Shoppe
Sharon's Antiques
Ballyhoo Vintage

Here's a few from these sites that I thought were particularly cute/interesting:

Of course, you can also make your own aprons. They make a really great beginning sewer's project, and I found a ton of old patterns for sale at So Vintage Patterns.

So go ahead, introduce your children to the beauty of the apron.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Crock and Roll Hall of Shame

I ask, do these people belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

You may have heard the news that ABBA was one of this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And if you’re like me, your gut reaction to that had to be WTF? I love ABBA as much as any girl who grew up during the 70s and 80s, but you don’t have to be a genius to know that their body of work in no way, shape, or form can be defined as rock and roll. This head scratching choice is nothing new for the Crock and Roll Hall of Shame, as I affectionately love to call it. Other unusual nominees throughout the years have included Madonna, Michael Jackson, Herb Alpert (!), Miles Davis, Etta James, Louie Armstrong, The Bee Gees (Barry and Robin Gibb are responsible for nominating ABBA, by the way) Jann Wenner (who is best know for composing the “Miami Vice” theme), and Hank Williams, just to name a few oddball choices.

While these people certainly made important contributions to music, it’s pretty obvious that the HOF’s definition of rock and roll is looser than Tiger Woods. At the rate they’re going, they might as well induct Liberace next year. I can see the crossover in country, but why pop, jazz and disco? One wonders how some of these old time classic rockers such as The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith feel about sharing the honor with the bell bottom wearing quartet that gave us “Dancing Queen”, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, and “I Have a Dream.”

I’m in no way criticizing or degrading ABBA’s music – I think they’re marvelous musicians in their own genre, and “S.O.S.” was admired by John Lennon and Pete Townsend, who both felt it was one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written in the 70s. You may ask what the harm is in letting groups like ABBA into the HOF – and there’s no harm, really – until you consider that they’re taking valuable space away from true rock legends who deserve it more. People and bands like…

*Steve Miller
*Eddie Money
*Pat Benetar
*The Cars
*Alice Cooper
*Jan and Dean
*Jethro Tull
…and so many countless others

Why is Madonna in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but Steve Miller is not? Heck, even Neil Diamond is more deserving of the honor because of early hits such as “Cherry Cherry.” I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Perhaps the HOF needs to split off into different halls for different genres. Or maybe they need to rename themselves in more general terms as simply the Hit Music Hall of Fame.

If you want to see all this madness for yourself, you can find the entire list of inductees here. And don’t be too surprised, come 2011, you see Neil Sedaka and The Captain and Tenille added to their site.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Memories of Lunch Lady Land

I've been watching Jamie Oliver's show Food Revolution on ABC. In case you haven't heard of it, the British chef is on a mission to stop our raging obesity epidemic and change the way Americans eat - starting with elementary school age children. He successfully paved the way for healthier school food in England and is hoping to do the same here.

Watching the show brings back memories of my own food experiences in the school cafeteria in the 70s and 80s. While we were certainly far from being mini health nuts, I do think we had better food available to us than today's kids. We also didn't look like a bunch of mini Michelin mans walking around the classroom. Maybe some reminiscing offers some insight into how today's school's are contributing to children's weight problems.

*For starters, in the opening episode Jamie saw the kids chowing down on pizza - at 9 AM in the morning or thereabouts. I never ate pizza at my school - for breakfast, that is - because our school never served breakfast to begin with. That was always left to my mom and fortunately, I had the luxury of having a stay-at-home mom who had the time and energy to make me a healthy breakfast.

*Like today's kids, we had chocolate milk available to buy. However, they came in cute little cartons that I would guess held no more than 6 ounces. The kids on Jamie's show buy milk that comes in huge honking containers the size of an energy drink can.

*And speaking of soda, I don't recall seeing a single soda or snack vending machine until I was in high school. They were like the Tooth Fairy in my elementary and even junior high schools - they simply didn't exist.

*Our snack cups consisted of carrot, celery, and cheese sticks. I can't say for certain that we always ate the carrots and celery.

*We weren't given french fries; we were served tater tots. Those may not be more nutrient dense then fries, but at least they could be baked, not fried in oil.

*Dessert consisted of something low fat, like jello cubes or fruit cups. I think cookies and small pieces of cake were luxuries that were offered only once or twice a week.

*We were given juice or punch in small plastic cups, probably holding no more than 4 ounces.

*No one had peanut allergies or an intolerance to dairy. Small peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were available every day.

*Even though we weren't huge fans of vegetables, we could at least identify them. I'm talking about one disturbing segment where Jamie holds up vegetables in front of a class of kids and no one - and I mean no one - can identify common veggies including tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli and eggplant. I guess if the parents at home aren't eating it, the kids would have no clue what it is. This is a huge contrast to my school, which gave regular lessons about nutrition, the four food groups, and the recommended servings to eat. I remember learning about it just about every year, supplemented by animated entertainment and visits by that super nerdy (but healthy) Slim Goodbody. Chalk it up to educational cuts, but I think today we need this kind of lifestyle education in the schools more than ever.

All in all, there wasn't a lot of processed food being served or prepared back in those days. I also didn't even see a truly overweight kid until the 8th grade. We had a couple that would be considered chubby, but certainly not obese.

While I know what kids eat at school is certainly not the only cause of obesity, I do think schools and parents could learn some important lessons from the past. Right now this area is getting a failing grade.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

GoRetro's Mad Men Predictions

I just finished watching season 3 of Mad Men on DVD, and as Don Draper strode towards a new future to the tune of Roy Orbison's "Shahdaroba", (which, the lyrics tell us, means the "future is much better than the past") I thought what a fitting ending. It seems prophetic that the writers chose to end the most recent season just after President Kennedy was assassinated - a pivotal moment for the country as well as a pivotal moment for the main characters of the show, who decided to form their own ad agency. Here's where the swinging 60s decade really begins, and I couldn't resist making a list of predictions of what may happen - or what I wish would happen - in the coming years:

Mad Men, Meet Fab Men

As any Beatles fan knows - or at least, the way we imagine it - America was pitched into perpetual darkness after losing our President. That is, at least, until four young men from Liverpool appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 and transformed the nation into happiness again. I'm sure the writers will weave the Fab Four somehow into the plot of one of the first episodes of season 4...if not by way of some advertising tie-in, then perhaps by tying up traffic in New York. Maybe some of the girls (that Trudy Campbell, Pete's wife, looks like a Ringo fan to me) will go Beatlemania crazy and drive the boys crazy in the process.

Give Me Hair - Long, Beautiful Hair
With the Beatles came long hair on that actually moved and didn't look slick and greasy. Don and Pete, it's time to give the old Brylcreem the boot. Both Jon Hamm and Vincent Kartheiser, who play Don and Pete, have proven that they like to get a bit hairy in between season shooting. I could see some of the guys getting hippyish with each progressing year.

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
I don't trust this Henry dude who has latched onto the soon-to-be-divorced Betty, do you? He barely knows our Betty, and yet he's talking already about marrying and taking care of her. I smell possessive control freak on the horizon, and a rebelling Betty as women's rights come to the forefront. Also, Henry hasn't met the wrath of little Sally Draper yet, who will no doubt balk at the idea of having a stepdad (we already saw how manipulative she can be when baby Gene came home from the hospital.)

Women's treatment in the workplace will find its way into the show - the mandatory skirt chasing and talking down to female staff may soon be in jeopardy.

Dr. Harris, Don't Be A Hero
Joan's lackadaisical fiance announced to her that he was joining the army - and excitingly said, "Maybe they'll send me to Vietnam!" Considering the way he forced himself upon Joanie in one disturbing scene from season 2, I'm betting many of us won't shed much tears when Greg gives his life fighting for his country.

Operation Acid Drop
Drug use has slowly been working its way into the show - Peggy smoked her first joint, and Don has proven that he's no slouch when it comes to popping unknown pills. It won't be long until someone gets introduced to LSD to expand the creative portion of their mind. It may even become a way to kill off a character. As morbid as it sounds, I can't think of a more memorable way for someone to exit their contract than to have the writers make them jump out of a building window stark naked on a bad acid trip.

And if you don't think ad guys in the 60s ever did drugs, just check out this creepy 1969 television commercial for IHOP. Just think, a group of ad guys presented storyboards of this to IHOP execs and everyone thought it was a good idea!

I can't wait for season four. What are your predictions for the show?

Saturday, April 03, 2010

I Miss Seeing Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Christmas is the one holiday that hogs all of the animated and stop motion specials. With Easter, we're lucky to get the Peanuts special. Sure, network television gives us "It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!" every year, but how many times can we watch ol' Chuck get screwed once again? I really wish TV would bring back the 1971 Rankin-Bass stop motion classic, "Here Comes Peter Cottontail." This was made by the same guys that brought us "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", "A Year Without a Santa Claus" and many other Christmas specials. But Peter Cottontail only aired a couple of times, it seems, in the 70s before disappearing. Thank goodness for DVDs!

The special is narrated by Danny Kaye and basically tells the story of how the Easter Bunny became THE Easter Bunny in its trademark charming herky jerky fashion. Peter, however, has competition in the form of an evil bunny named Irontail (who was voiced by Vincent Price) who does everything he can to sabotage Peter's chances of winning a contest that will make him the Chief Easter Bunny.

My favorite character in this one was Antoine, a French caterpillar also voiced by Kaye. I couldn't locate any images of Antoine in Google, but what I remember most is his transformation by the end of the special into a colorful butterfly...and that he had a 'stache. Antoine is the operator of a time machine called the Yestmorrowmobile (I know at least a few of us would love a ride in one of those!) Like all RB productions, this one also included a few cute and catchy songs.

They don't make animation like they used to. I know today it's all about computers, but there's really a certain charm in Rankin-Bass' creations. You have to appreciate the amount of time and patience it took to make the characters and sets and then actually film them, all for the main purpose of entertaining us kids during the 60s and 70s!

Does anyone else remember Peter Cottontail, or knows if it's being shown on cable in the States? If so, I'd love to know.'s wishing my readers a Happy and Healthy Easter!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Forgotten Disco Diva: Andrea True

My favorite disco song of all time is More More More by the Andrea True Connection. I can't say that True has natural singing ability - she doesn't, and the song is best served while driving in your car - but there's something about her airy vocals and hooky beat that makes the tune irresistibly dance worthy. Unfortunately, it is not one you hear often on the radio, despite reaching number four on the Billboard chart in 1976, and being sampled by Len for their 1999 hit Steal My Sunshine. Perhaps it's because True lived a double life as a porn star.

Yes, up until her 15 minutes of fame as a disco diva, True - who also went by the names Inger Kissin, Andrea Travis, Catherine Warren and Singh Low - starred in 70s porn flicks with savory titles such as Deep Throat 2, The Wetter the Better, The Chamber Maids, The Seduction of Lynn Carter, Double Header, and Doctor Feelgood. True started out as an aspiring actress who earned a small role in The Way We Were, but turned to porn to make a living when mainstream acting work dried up.

More, More, More was a fluke that turned out to be a surprise hit. True was in Jamaica to film some commercials when a political crisis gripped the island, and no one was allowed to leave with any money. Not wanting to part with her commercial money, True asked a friend, record producer Gregg Diamond, to travel to the island and produce a track for her, which she would finance locally. Diamond arrived with a composition in hand, to which True added lyrics. The result of their collaboration was More, More, More.

More, More, More became a favorite in nightclubs and discos. In 1978 she enjoyed a second hit in Great Britain with What's Your Name, What's Your Number taken from her second UK album of the same name. The single reached No. 34 on the British charts. In 1980, she released her third and final album, War Machine, with a punk sound, which was a commercial flop.

True tried to return to the porn industry only to discover that roles were limited in the genre for actresses in their 30s. Sadly, More's singing career also ended as well when she developed a goiter on her vocal chords that required surgery. She now lives a private life in Florida as an astrologer and drug and alcohol counselor. We never got to hear more, more, more of True after that, but the song lives on.

Enjoy the audio or video...and for the guys out there, Andrea's hot pants:

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