Sunday, October 31, 2010

Announcing a New Blog

I might be crazy for wanting to juggle two blogs at the same time, but today I launched a new one called Sunny Site Up. For anyone who's into positive thinking or the law of attraction, I thought it might be interesting to chronicle my personal journey and the occasional struggle with my new way of life, and it be a place where others can share their tips and experiences as well. I also hope to turn it into a blog where others can get a little lift in their day. Rest assured that Go Retro is not going away - I've just been thinking of starting this one for a while and writing about a new topic will probably help keep my thoughts fresh. Needless to say it's drastically different than retro pop culture but for those who are interested, I thought I'd let everyone know. 

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Three Ads Too Good Not to Share #8: The Halloween Edition

I found the following ads on Flickr, credit to What Makes The Pie Shops Tick? He/she has a nice collection of vintage advertising and images. Nothing really to say here except I think the gals in the two ads below have been doing the online dating thing for a little too long. I think they may be lowering their standards a little too low...just saying. What can I say, the idea of a hot chick doing the dirty deed with Frankenstein's monster or the Wolfman kind of grosses me out.

Where there's cheese and beer, I'm there. The disembodied hand floating off to the side pouring the beer is a nice touch.

In case I don't get another post out before then, I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween!

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Bobby "Boris" Pickett

It's definitely that time of year when the oldies stations start playing the 1962 novelty hit song Monster Mash. I've often seen it attributed to the horror movie actor Boris Karloff. Karloff did perform the song in 1965 on the show Shindig!, but its original singer was Bobby Pickett. Pickett once did an imitation of Karloff while performing The Diamonds' Little Darlin' with a band in front of an audience. The positive reaction inspired him and a fellow band member, Lenny Capizzi, to write and record Monster Mash, with Pickett doing imitations of Karloff and Bela Lugosi throughout the song.

Monster Mash still enjoys some rotation around Halloween almost 50 years after it was first released. The song was a number-one hit on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1962, but didn't enjoy the same status across the pond - the BBC had banned it for being "too morbid." It was re-released in 1970 and 1973 and finally reached #3 on the UK charts in 1973.

Pickett released some other holiday novelties such as Werewolf Watusi, The Monster Swim, and a Star Trek-inspired tune called Star Drek. There was also a 1980s sequel to Monster Mash called The Monster Rap in the 80s. However, I kind of like the King Kong song set to clips from the movie:

Pickett passed away of leukemenia in 2007, but the Monster Mash lives on. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Charlie Chaplin Cell Phone Mystery

Take a look at this photo. Doesn't it look like this lady is holding a cell phone up to her ear? You would think so, except she's at a movie premiere for the Charlie Chaplin film The Circus. The Circus came out in 1928 - no mobile devices back then. She was recently spotted in film footage showing bystanders walking past Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where the movie premiered. Filmmaker George Clarke, a Charlie Chaplin fan, was the first to discover the mysterious woman while watching a Chaplin DVD boxed set and posted it online searching for answers. The most common explanation being thrown around is that she is a time traveler! I'm thinking most likely she was using a hearing aid, which were pretty big and bulky way back in the day, or perhaps an early radio. Or maybe she somehow was testing an early invention. Still, it makes for some pretty cool debate so close to Halloween. 

Here's Clarke's video clip showing the person over and over again - I have to admit it is kind of creepy and fascinating to watch, especially as the person with the mobile or non-mobile device sort of fades away as the camera footage changes, and you can see her mouth moving in close-up shots. What do you think it is?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Since I've pretty much failed to acknowledge Halloween on my blog this year, today's Two Forgotten Friday Favorites is of the truly creepy variety: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Brown was a flamboyant British singer who had a 1968 number-one hit in the UK and Canada called Fire. And his performances were a scary thing to behold. As part of his stage persona, he usually painted his face black and white and wore a metal crown which was lit ablaze. His style provided the inspiration for Alice Cooper, KISS, Marilyn Manson, and many other shock rock performers.

Brown's background is fascinating. He actually attended two universities in England studying law and philosophy before gravitating towards music. In the mid-60s he was briefly part of the soul group The Foundations (best known for the hit Baby, Now That I've Found You) before forming his own band, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

Brown's love of setting his costumes and props on fire resulted in several mishaps during his early career. During one show in Windsor, England, his head caught on fire when the methanol fuel used on his helmet crown poured over by accident; two audience members put out the flames with beer before he could be seriously injured. His antics made concert organizers nervous and often got him kicked off of tours (including Jimi Hendrix's) because he lacked the proper fire insurance in case of damage or injury. He was also arrested in Italy for stripping completely naked during one of his shows. 

For a parent in the 60s with a teenage girl, he must have been every mother and father's nightmare...could you imagine if your daughter had a crush on Arthur Brown?

Brown still performs today, but if you dare to see this scary dude in his prime, here's him in 1968 doing what he did best with Fire (which I actually think is a great song.) The way he dances is just c-r-a-z-eeeeee!

I believe Brown was the inspiration for a character Sonny Bono played once on The Love Boat, Deacon Dark:

Brown's other hit was a little less successful; a cover of I Put A Spell On You:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why It's Time to Give Yoko Ono A Break

It's remarkable to me that 70 years after John Lennon's birth, nearly 30 years after his death, and 40 years after the Beatles broke up, Yoko Ono still remains the most hated and vilified woman in the Beatles' legacy (even more so, I believe, than Heather Mills.) Case in point: I watched the video message she filmed for YouTube in honor of her late husband's birthday and was taken aback by the lowdown, nasty, vitriol-filled comments spewed at her. The c-word was in full swing mode, as were many racial epitaphs. Have these so-called fans not learned *anything* from listening to Beatles/Lennon music after all these years?

Maybe because I am not a baby boomer who lived through it all - the Ed Sullivan Show appearance, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the meditation trip to India - I have a different perspective on Yoko Ono. I cannot claim to be a Yoko fan (listening to a human caterwauling is not a hobby in my spare time), but I do respect her. Yes, she may be a terrible singer, a homewrecker, and may have whored out Lennon's name a little too often for the love of the almighty dollar, but for those who still have a beef with the lady, I have three words for you: GET OVER IT. 

The fact is, John Lennon chose her, and they had a child together. I can only say that we often cannot choose who we fall in love with. I mean no disrespect to Cynthia Lennon, but Lennon's union with her was done out of necessity during a time when young men had to marry the women they impregnated. Unfortunately, Lennon's first son, Julian, paid a heavy price as an unplanned son of one of the most famous men in the world. I've seen very few photos of Cynthia smiling during the time she was married to John; at a time when others were enjoying everything the swinging 60s had to offer, she was clearly bearing the weight of the world on her shoulders.

Yoko was definitely a kindred spirit to John, despite their differences in background. She was also eight years older than him (a cougar before the term was coined) which many say nurtured the loss John suffered as a teen when his mother, Julia, was hit and killed by a drunk off-duty policeman. 

From the booklet that accompanies the Lennon Anthology CD box set, Ono has this to say of their relationship in the introduction:

They say that Venus is jealous of lovers. Forget Venus. In our case it was the whole world. But as far as we were concerned, we felt so lucky that we found each other. Aside of the fact that we were both rebellious and emotional, we were true opposites. John was tallish. I was smallish. John made music for the people. I made music for the avant-garde, though I did not think of my music in those terms at the time (I thought I was big-time.) John was humble, in a way only a very successful person could be. I was proud, like most people living in an Ivory Tower, who never had to test the big water. Coming from a semi-working class background, John was street-wise. I was totally inexperienced when it came to the games of the real world. And we felt so, so lucky that we fell in love with each other. It was a blessing neither of us expected at that time in our lives. We couldn't take our eyes off one another. We couldn't get enough of each other. But the outside pressure was very strong. It was so strong, that sometimes we had to separate to from each other in order to protect our love. We thought we were clever, that we did everything right, and nothing and nobody could tear us apart. Never, never, never. But it happened: our separation. So sudden, too. He was taken away from me for good. 

Even now, I think there are people who still cannot reconcile themselves to the idea that I had been in John's life. To those people I'd like to say, I'm sorry that we had hurt you. But that's what happened. That's how it was.

And as far as the ancient argument that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles? Total bunk to me. Once their manager, Brian Epstein, passed away of a drug overdose in 1967, the glue that held the band together had been dissolved forever. Paul McCartney and Lennon then argued over who should manage the band, with McCartney vying to hand over the job over to his father-in-law, Lee Eastman, at one point, which Lennon was against. Let's face it - once 1968 rolled around, the band was on shaky legs. Bringing girlfriends into the recording studio had nothing to do with it.

I'm not saying that Yoko is an angel - she treated Julian Lennon poorly, even as an adult - wrangling with him over her late husband's estate. She also has a legendary grip on Lennon's image that's tighter than a nun's asshole; when the designers behind the Beatles Rock Band video game initially showed the animated version of Lennon to her, she argued that it didn't capture John's essence. 

Still, she has her moments - her guest appearance as herself on the 90s TV series Mad About You showed a funny side of Ono. She was shown dancing to Beatles music and asked the lead character, Paul Buchman, to make a film about the wind. And when my late friend Joe Pope, a Beatles expert who published his own magazine called Strawberry Fields Forever, interviewed Ono on a Boston radio station, she was nothing but gracious (she also addressed him as "Hi, Pope!" on the air, having met him several years earlier, and went on to say that she was glad he named his magazine after one of John's compositions, vs. a McCartney song.)

Most importantly, however, she has managed to continue Lennon's legacy the best she can: by allowing unreleased material of his to see the light of day and making philanthropic contributions to peace and arts programs. If anything, I so admire her mostly for the strong, loving union she shared with one of the world's most talented musicians. 

Forty years ago Lennon asked the public to "give peace a chance." I think we need to extend the same to Yoko.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Three Ads Too Good Not To Share #7: The Couples Edition

Some more great finds from the Fashion of the 70s book I'm borrowing:

1. Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific
Presenting a great pickup line, shampoo name, and advertising headline all rolled into one. Gee, is it any wonder why we can no longer find Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific on drugstore shelves?

2. Landlubber: Insulting women everywhere since 1970
Visually it's not your typical colorful 70s advertisement (although the black and white photography and handwritten-like copy make it very much ahead of its time.) However, I wanted to bring everyone's attention to the copy floating above the Easy Rider lookalike and his bored looking girlfriend: "In real life, the guy's hair would be matted down from the helmet. The chick would be your woman instead of a New York model." Note that "your" was underlined for emphasis. 

Thanks a lot, Landlubber. For your information, the model you've chosen is hardly Carol Alt - more like Linda McCartney after toking a little too long with Paul. But at least they provide their mailing address in the ad - female consumers knew where to send the hate mail. 

3. Fugly clothes are a thing with Karen and Carl.
Looking at this one, I initially thought it was a motorcycle advertisement. Instead, it provides too much random information about Karen and Carl: she's into yoga and therefore, trying out new sexual positions; he's into making jewelry and quiches (such a progressive male exploring his feminine side in the 70s.) She makes their clothes - and apparently is into pairing awful colors such as orange with bright yellow and green (and she's even got matching Ronald McDonald shoes - yuck!) Karen, maybe you oughta let Carl take over the sewing machine for a while...seeing as how he's got that creative side to him.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Afros 101

Hey all, I need to apologize for the lack of blogging activity lately. Chalk it up to an inspirational lag combined with simply too much to get done during the week. Thank goodness for my coworker who lent me a cute little book called Fashion of the 70s. It's a collection of quirky beauty and fashion ads from the decade, showing off the good, the bad, and the downright hilarious. I plan on scanning as much as possible and saving them for future post inspiration (including enough to do a third installment post of Beefcake: Sexy Advertising Studs of the 70s.) 

For now, this Duke style chart from 1972 caught my eye. Even though the afro hairstyle lives on in various forms today, I just don't think it looks as cool as it did during its heyday - when else could you ask for the "Atom" style and leave knowing the back of your 'do looks exactly like an atomic bomb cloud?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: John Lennon

A graphic artist "imagines" Lennon at 70 years old
You'd have to be living under a rock to not know that tomorrow would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday; PR and social networking outlets have been building up to it for months now. Yoko Ono recorded a birthday message on YouTube and is inviting other viewers to submit their own; there's a new boxed set of solo Lennon material about to be released, and tons of musical celebrations planned all over the world. 

As a Beatles fan, it's hard for me to put into words what John Lennon means to me (especially when George is my favorite Beatle) and give him the proper justice I'll try: Lennon, to me, was not just about peace but about positive thinking, which has been my mantra for nearly three years now. Lennon really believed in the ability to change the world through the power of your mind. John and Yoko believed that the more people who thought positively, the more likely change could be created (that's the message of the songs Imagine and Mind Games, after all.) In fact, I think all of the Beatles thought this way at one time or another - songs like Rain drive home the message ("When it rains and shines, it's just a state of mind") and All You Need Is Love ("There's nothing you can do that can't be done") reinforce positive thinking in my opinion. I also think it's no accident that a new site about positive thinking that I'm dying to see (Mr. Never Give Up) is about to be launched tomorrow, on Lennon's birthday.

Enough babbling...on to the music! Asking me to pick just two Lennon songs is like asking me to just eat two potato chips, but I'll try. I HAVE to include the Imagine video (even though it's hardly a forgotten favorite)...the opening sequence of John and Yoko walking together through the mist is bittersweet for me. No embedding here's the link

And here's my favorite solo Lennon song, Just Like Starting Over:

I wish you all peace, love, and many positive thoughts. Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Favorite TV Fashion Icons

Recently I've been thinking about memorable television characters whose sense of fashion style has always stood out for me. Kudos to the costume designers of these five shows, because the actors and actresses they dressed still have made an impact on my memory after so many years:

Denise Huxtable, The Cosby Show
Even though most of my preteen 80s wardrobe (especially the matching Esprit sweaters and miniskirts) was similar to Vanessa Huxtable's, I secretly longed to look as cool as her older sister Denise did on The Cosby Show. From men's hats and boyfriend blazers to parachute pants, Denise made all of the 80s' quirky fashion pieces look good. In fact, many fashion sites and blogs have cited her style as an influence seen on the streets and runways in recent years.

Did you wear a long string of fake pearls knotted at the bottom like I did? I learned not long ago that Denise wore them that way in an early episode, so I can only imagine I must have subconsciously copied her style!

Blossom Russo, Blossom
I bet a lot of people have long forgotten how cute the lead character on this show dressed. Blossom's fashion style took over my imagination once Denise Huxtable went onto A Different World. In the early 90s, when this show aired, I wore a lot of oversized tees, baggy sweaters, and dressy vests like Blossom did. I would have loved to have had some of her funky hats as well, if I hadn't been so self-conscious of what the other kids in my high school would have said.

Maude Findlay, Maude
It may sound strange that I've always admired Maude's style, especially as the character was older than everyone else I watched on TV growing up in the 70s and 80s. Yet Maude's fashion sense - at least, for a middle-aged woman of the 70s - always appeared as hip and no-nonsense as her tarty one-liners. She also rarely appeared in a dress or skirt, proving that she did indeed wear the pants (and vests) in her household. And she owned a smashing collection of scarves!

Ralph Furley, Three's Company
Yes, Mr. Furley has made lists of the Worst Dressed TV Characters of all time, but his flashy wardrobe was a vast improvement over the drab Mr. Roper (whose wife, oddly enough, loved colorful prints.) His style was the epitome of the tacky 70s Western bachelor, a curious mix of Bronco Billy meets Ron Burgandy. Polyester leisure suits, white platform shoes, and wide collared garish printed shirts made up the bulk of his wardrobe, and all the better to conform with his ladies' man image. 

Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs, Miami Vice
Even though it's delusional to think that real vice cops can afford to wear Versace suits and drive Ferraris, Crockett and Tubbs' casual style was groundbreaking and made them fashion icons of the 80s. In fact, the whole show, with its sleek Art Deco style and palette, made for eye candy. I never actually saw a guy dressed during this time with a tshirt under a suit jacket and going sockless, but I did witness it on my friends during the Miami Vice theme party I requested for my fourteenth birthday (luckily, no photos exist of this embarrassing event.) Yep, If I couldn't have Don Johnson at the time, at least I could emulate his style, even if I was a girl.

Which TV characters do you remember that had a sense of style that you admired or made you barf? I'd love for you to add to my list.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month: Tony Curtis!

Thanks, everyone, for the well wishes! Vermont was nice - perfect fall weather (sadly, the leaves were not so vibrant this year), good cheese, cider, wine, and even Mexican food. Just like when I was a kid, I enjoyed watching the scenery change and the hills get higher while riding up there. There's something about seeing mountains appear in the horizon that still excites me. 

Anyways, I'm back to my blog...and this month's Retro Hottie choice was actually tough considering it's the month John Lennon would have turned 70 years old. However, when someone like Tony Curtis dies, it's the end of an era. He had a remarkable life in that he overcame a lot of childhood difficulties to become a legendary actor, starring in famous films such as The Defiant Ones, The Sweet Smell of Success, Some Like It Hot, Spartacus (the only Roman with a New York accent to be captured on camera), and The Boston Strangler, not to mention numerous TV roles including the voice of "Stony Curtis" on The Flintstones.

Born Bernard Schwartz, he only spoke Hungarian for the first 5 years of his life, which postponed his education. His mother suffered from schizophrenia and beat him, and when he was eight, he and his brother Julius were placed in an orphanage for a month because their parents could not afford to take care of them. Four years later, Julius was hit by a truck and killed.

He was married six times - as I'm sure everyone knows, his first wife was Janet Leigh, and the union produced the actress Jamie Lee Curtis. 

I love Some Like It Hot, and definitely list it as one of my favorite comedies of all time. I have such fond memories of watching it with my dad.
Here's a mini collection of Curtis pics. He definitely was dreamy back in the day...even as a woman.

Curtis could also claim to be one of the famous figures included on the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. So for fun, I'm throwing in a photo of the Beatles - rocking their Tony Curtis hairstyles.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Off to the Land of "Newhart"

I hate to blow off today's Two Forgotten Friday Favorites, but I'm afraid there's not going to be any Go Retro posts until sometime next week. Tomorrow I'm going up to Vermont, setting of the 80s TV sitcom Newhart (please don't take offense if you're from the Green State...I know Vermont is NOT Larry, Daryl and Daryl...believe it or not, I think I met those three guys at a scary singles event back in the day.) I'm going with a couple of friends to check out some yarn, cheese (and hopefully wine), shops, and do some leaf peeping. I haven't been there since I was a teenager so I'm excited. 

Anyways long story short I have tons to get done today and still need to pack tonight and have a movie to watch before it needs to be returned to the library, so I won't be able to post anything until next week (don't worry, ladies - I didn't forget about this month's Retro Hottie of the Month!)

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend...and to sign myself off, here's the opening theme to Newhart...and the epic final moments of the finale. I guess you could say these are today's Forgotten Friday Favorites.

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