Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Three Ads Too Good Not to Share #2

It's time for another excuse to finally post some obscure ads I grabbed a while ago that have been floating around on my computer. No real reason for these - just that they're amusing!

I'm always amazed at what advertising has gotten away with through the years. Has the old man been hitting the caffeine again? Or hitting poor little Johnny? A slightly disturbing ad from Sanka:

Now I know a fag is a slang term for a cigarette in the UK...however, when you put two men together like this what would someone who isn't familiar with the term think? A good one for my "Things That Look Gay But Aren't" post from a while back.

An early home pregnancy test from the 80s. That thing looks more complicated to figure out than a chemistry experiment! I'm all for saving a rabbit's life, but this should make women grateful for the easy peasy ones we have today. Why was there a double kit available - for the promiscuous woman?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Retro Product Fail #1: Sun-In

Of all of the beauty products I saw advertised in the pages of Seventeen magazine as a teen and that I actually bought, I wanted Sun-In hair lightener to work the most for me. For someone who had once been naturally platinum blonde as a child, but who couldn't dye her hair with traditional permanent coloring because the copper pipes in our plumbing turned my hair green (true story - and just another reason why I can't spread the love for my high school years), Sun-In sounded like a simple and effective solution. Just spray it into damp hair, sit a few hours in the sun (while slathered with your Coppertone oil...in the 80s we still hadn't caught on to the dangers of sun exposure) and voila, instant blonde! Right?

Wrong! Sun-In was horrible - it never succeeded in turning my hair anything unless you consider reddish highlights in mousy dark blonde hair as "lightening." Not even close to the beautiful buttery shades portrayed in their advertising. I know of at least a few poor souls at school who overdid it and ended up with orange hair. Plus it smelled. Simply squeezing lemon juice on your head would probably be more effective. Remarkably, Sun-In is still being manufactured today, and still claims to lighten hair. Anyone ever have any luck with it? I would love to know...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Separated by a Past Life Retro Couple: Me and Mary Travers

Throughout the years I've been told I resemble a number of blonde female celebs, including Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Although these are all very flattering to hear, my mother and I actually think that I most resemble, and appropriately so, a famous gal from the past: Mary Travers of the group Peter, Paul and Mary. In fact, yesterday we watched a great documentary about the trio on PBS and we were both struck by how Mary looked like me when she was younger. When I look at myself in the mirror sometimes and the lighting is just right and I'm making a certain expression, I see Mary, too.

I went through some old photos and the ones that were taken at a friend's wedding a few years ago seemed to look like her the most. I Photoshopped a few together for comparison - close, no?

I even have Mary's side profile, especially her nose, although I couldn't find any good side profiles of me to compare. I love my bob, but maybe I should grow my hair out a bit longer. Now if only I could SING like Mary! Better yet, how cool would it be to meet a guy who looked like someone famous from the 60s...hmmm....I'll take a John Sebastian lookalike these days. We could be the cutest retro couple ever!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: The Mills Brothers

Never heard of The Mills Brothers? Well, neither did I until I looked up the song "Glow Worm" on YouTube, as it's one of my favorite really, really, *old* songs. Here they perform it on Nat King Cole's TV show from 1957. The Mills Brothers were a quartet that go waaaaay back...their career was launched in the late 20s. I also discovered that they recorded a song that I heard my dad sing many times when I was growing up: "Yellow Bird" (up high in banana tree...) My father had forgotten most of the lyrics, I think, but always sang it whenever we saw a bright yellow and black gold finch in our yard. I found these songs just before Father's Day, and I wish I had posted it last week, but better late than never. So Daddy, these are for you...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jaws!

It was the summer of 1975, I was three and a half years old, and my brother took me to the movies. It was not to see a Disney cartoon or any other typical kiddie fare released that time. Nope, we went to see Jaws. Yep, you read that right. It was my earliest movie going memory, and I loved every minute of it! My parents MUST have been apprehensive about this, but I wasn't scared at all. I still remember watching the dark opening scenes with that poor girl being dragged underwater, and John Williams' haunting music score, and I remember being a bit impatient (it's nearly an hour's running time before "Bruce", as Steven Spielberg and his crew nicknamed the robotic shark, finally appears on screen.)

Was it worth the wait? Hell, yeah - and while I'm the first to admit I'm not a fan or horror or gory flicks, Jaws still remains one of my favorite scary movies. I'm not sure why - but I think it's a combination of the chemistry between Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider, and Robert Shaw, the long build-up until we finally see the shark, and the fact that even for the mid-70s, the special effects don't come across as cheesy. Jaws, in my opinion, was the first time the movie monster actually appeared real on camera (at least to a three-year old.) Then there's the fact that this was not an easy movie to film, with mechanical sharks breaking down and boats on the horizon ruining a scene.

Not surprisingly, the movie was a mass marketing dream. Did anyone else own or remember The Game of Jaws below? I loved it. You'd wrap rubber bands around the jaws and place the assorted plastic objects in his mouth to hold it open. Players took turns fishing out the trinkets from Jaws' mouth. The first player to successfully remove four junk pieces would win. If his jaws suddenly snapped shut, you were out of the game!

The movie also inspired a pretty cheesy parody song called Mr. Jaws by Dickie Goodman. It features snippets of disco songs and other hits and believe it or not, reached #4 on the Billboard charts! I'd also say the album's cover is definitely a contender for my regular Bad Cover Art feature.

It's a shame that the success of the film led to sequels that were epic failures - such as usually the case with most blockbusters. For most of us there can only be one Jaws - still chewing up the scenery and scaring beachgoers 35 years later.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Roy Orbison

There really needs to be a movie made about Roy Orbison's life. In recent years we've seen Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, and Johnny Cash's lives depicted on the big screen but the personal tragedies of those three singers combined might find some competition with Orbison's biography. He grew up during the Great Depression, survived a bout with jaundice (which lent to his pale complexion) and suffered from poor eyesight. His first wife began cheating on him while he was away on tour, then was killed in a car accident. Shortly afterwards his two sons died in a fire which destroyed his house. His career hit the skids when psychedelic rock took over in the late 60s, but was revived in the 80s, most notably with The Traveling Wilburys. Just as Orbison was starting to top the charts again, he died of a heart attack at the young age of 52. Throughout it all he provided the world with a powerful voice and distinctive songs that swung from the joy of love to heartache. I read an online article about sad songs and will never forget a guy who left a comment claiming Crying was the one song that could reduce his testosterone self to tears.

But I digress...Orbison wrote and sang so many wonderful compositions, yet it seems the only one that gets any play these days is Oh Pretty Woman. One of my forgotten favorites, however, is 1962's Dream Baby - it was not written by him, but I love how it starts out gently and then layer upon layer of new instruments and background singing is added to it:

My second pick is an Orbison song that the average person would not be familiar with, unless you are a Mad Men fan. Ever since hearing it close out the finale of the third season, it's become my personal positive theme song. Grooveshark was having trouble playing the entire track for me, so I've had to resort to YouTube to post it. Enjoy Shahdaroba....it means "the future is much better than the past."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Truly Terrifying PSAs

Truth be told, I don't remember a lot of PSAs that were being shown when I was a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s. The only one that still sticks in my mind after all these years was a funny skit with Bowser from Sha Na Na. There was Bowser, ironing his shirt, when some of the other guys from SNN started ragging on him about doing women's work. "Hey!" Bowser exclaimed and then started singing, "If a guy can do it, a girl can, too! You can do anything you want to do!"

So needless to say it was a bit of a shocker to peruse preserved PSAs on YouTube that were aimed at children back in the day. The themes revolve around poisoning, drowning, and overdosing - talk about heavy handed themes for the elementary school set. For example...

I'm sure many of us remember the "Mr. Yuk" campaign. Mr. Yuk was on a sticker that was meant to be placed on household cleaning items and anything else that would be dangerous if ingested. Little did I know that he also had his own disturbing PSA. It's kind of funny that at the beginning, we're reminded of *everything* that could be considered dangerous to children in a home - knives, matches, scissors, etc. And if that doesn't make you curl up in a fetal position while crying for you mommy, did they really need to holler "Sick!" six times during this commercial while showing a little boy or girl doubled over in abdominal pain?

This next one plays just like a horror movie...the murky water, the Grim Reaper with his menacing voiceover that could give Vincent Price the shivers, the child hanging on for dear life from a branch...I get that this was a warning for children to be safe around water, but what parents would let their kids go play around these dumps chosen for the PSA? Does this mean that prettier bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, and rivers are OK?

It's serious....taking these pills could make you delirious...delirious with laughter! My dear readers, if you're ever at a point where your medication starts talking to you, I think this PSA is a moot point by then.

Lastly, we have a warning to stay away from Pee Wee's Crackhouse. This PSA may have been taken more seriously had Paul Reubens not been arrested for indecent exposure and in more recent years, possession of child porn. Remember kids, smoking crack can stop your heart but kiddie porn is A-OK!

Have a wonderful weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bad Cover Art: The Let's Get Physical Edition

Trying to work out to a 45 record seems to defeat the purpose: you can't *see* how to actually perform the exercises, you just have to use your best educated guess based on the instruction you're hearing. Yet in the pre-VHS and health club eras, workout albums were the only things most fitness conscious folks had to go on, when they weren't watching Jack LaLanne. Whether they were actually effective or not, they make for some great cover art to poke fun at. Most of these I found over at BizarreRecords.com. Move over, Jane Fonda - you've got nothing on this bunch!

Remember, ladies, trying to better your health and physical well being is not about YOU. It's all about HIM. Never mind that he doesn't have to do any work - just lie there and fantasize about you in various stretching poses:

Check this out; who wouldn't want to do aerobics with Ron Brad...whatever? Featuring "Fame" and "E.T."! Wait, what song is "E.T."?

Jesus saves those that are flexible.

"I'll beat your back." Yes, Arnold actually put out a workout album in 1984, featuring cuts from The Weather Girls and Deniece Williams.

Another celebrity workout album...by Miss Sour Pickle herself.

Who's Doris? Who knows, but for some reason she reminds me of Ellen DeGeneres.

You can't handle the truth, and you can't handle a pushup!!!

For those who take their skiing very seriously.

Bonnie Prudden was apparently a well known fitness instructor, because I came across a lot of her albums. However, is it just me, or is that girl doing no work whatsoever on the cover? She appears to be distracted by daydreaming.

Another popular one by Bonnie...I've often thought of trying these baby and me exercises with my cat, but somehow I think I might have to stock up on bandaids and Neosporin as a precaution.

Carpet Square, you say? Or just plain square?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites

I'm starting a new recurring feature on Go Retro: Two Forgotten Friday Favorites. Every Friday, I'll choose two songs that never seem to get played on the radio anymore. They may be lesser known hits from a well-known artist, or two songs from a performer who is long forgotten.

The reason for these posts is because I've noticed oldies radio stations becoming more and more insular. It seems they just concentrate on post-Beatles music and only then the very top hits of a musician. There are so many great songs I used to hear played on the radio and I'm amazed at how narrow the playlists are becoming. Recently I requested to hear Neil Diamond's Yesterday Songs for a favorite oldies station's request hour, and was told that the station manager didn't have that song in the station playlist. What gives? Maybe it wasn't a major hit, but I'm pretty sure it at least charted. Yeah, I realize I could probably hear a lot more stuff by subscribing to Sirius or XM radio but I don't want to pay for it. Radio should be free.

So without further delay, today's Forgotten Friday Favorites are by Elton John. I always hear his slower tempo, piano based ballads - Your Song, Tiny Dancer, Candle in the Wind, etc. on the radio. Nothing wrong with that, but it's his livelier hits, particularly from the 80s that I love so much. Here are two I haven't heard in eons, Who Wears These Shoes and I'm Still Standing (the ultimate screw you song!) The videos are also 80s awesomeness at their best. If you're a fan of Dancing With the Stars, keep your eyes peeled for judge Bruno Tonioli in the I'm Still Standing video.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Childhood Comfort (Junk) Food

To look back on my top five favorite childhood junk foods, you might think that I was an unhealthy child. Nothing could be further than the truth. My mother was - and still is - a stellar cook, and unlike some kids I actually loved (and still love) several fruits and vegetables. But for pure preserved snack food comfort, these are the ones that stand out for me, and I wholeheartedly admit that I occasionally still eat them today.

1. SpaghettiOs
It still baffles my mother as to why I loved SpaghettiOs so much. Even though we had pasta on a regular basis, there was something about the taste of the sauce and those cute little meatballs that made my mouth water. I guess part of the appeal to kids is the various sized pasta "hoops" that ranged from teeny tiny ones to big rings that you could wear on your pinky. Occasionally, I've been known to buy a can and still eat them today.

2. Fruit Roll-Ups
I'm pretty sure that these leathery fruit snacks are responsible for a couple of the fillings in my teeth. I seem to remember them making their debut in supermarkets in the 80s, but the initial ones I was introduced to from schoolmates were no name brands. They came in just about any imaginable flavor (my favorite was apricot; a piquant mix of tanginess and sweetness) and were actually made from real dried fruit (which, as we know, doesn't always qualify something for "health" food.) They were so good I could peel the entire piece off the cellophane, fold it up, and stuff it in my mouth.

3. Handi-Snacks Cheese and Crackers
Today, there's nothing I love more than a good cheese, whole grain crackers, and a nice Riesling. However, such gourmet food items are not always available to you when you're ten years old. I don't even want to think about how much sodium and preservatives I consumed during my early years on these things. Honorable mention: I also loved ANY kind of cheese flavored cracker, such as goldfish and Cheese-Its.

4. Dixie/Hoodsie Cups
You know why I loved these little ice creams portions so much? Because they came with a wooden mini tongue depressor, and they were just enough to satisfy a small stomach (and for adults, they're a perfect serving of sweet tooth satisfaction that won't break your scale.) I still love them today for the retro factor - they were created by Hood in the 1920s. From the 1930s through the 1950s the little lids that you peel off the top were adorned with pictures of sports stars and celebrities. If you own a mint condition Dixie cup lid with Lucille Ball on it from 1952, it's worth hundreds of dollars!

5. Pringles
How could resist dehydrated, pressed potato chips? I still eat these today. In the 70s I seem to recall them being available only in the original flavor. It wasn't until the 80s that sour cream and onion, BBQ, and other flavors were introduced. After all these years, I finally discovered what the name of the mustached Pringles mascot: Julius Pringles. I love the 70s style font and graphics of the original packaging, pictured here.

Mmmmm...this was a yummy trip down memory lane for me. What were some of your favorite junk foods from your childhood?

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