Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Hall and Oates

Photo copyright
I long for the day when the man of my dreams puts his arm around me and says, "Pamela, me without you is like Hall without Oates." I think that would be the ultimate declaration of love, because there weren't many musical acts that I adored more during the 80s than Hall and Oates. I loved them so much I endured my older sisters' teasing me and constant cracks about them being an ambiguously gay duo. I didn't care. I still don't care. I still love these guys and their music. Daryl Hall and John Oates have known each other since high school when they hid out together in an elevator while a fight erupted at their school. Let us give thanks now to whoever started that fight! Thanks to them we may have never have known the songs Private Eyes, Maneater, Kiss On My List, You Make My Dreams Come True, Sara Smile, She's Gone, Out of Touch, One on One, Say It Isn't So, Adult Education, etc.

I could go on and on, but I've always kind of liked the hits found on the album Big Bam Boom, which was their last successful LP before they split for a few years. One of my favorite tracks from it is Possession Obsession, which should have climbed higher on the charts than it did. It was one of the rare hits where Oates was given the spotlight and sang lead and Hall was regulated to background vocals. Beautiful sound and the message is more important than ever today: 

Another forgotten favorite was Method of Modern Love, which I believe Hall cowrote with his long-time girlfriend Sara Allen (the same Sara that Sara Smile was written for...oh, how jealous I was at the time!) Needless to say the music video probably didn't help quell the gay rumors but it was the 80s after all. Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And the Winner of Boston's Most Valuable Blogger Contest Is...

...not me. Sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but I did want to take a few minutes once again to thank you for your votes and support. The winners were announced last week, and if you want to see them just click here.

To be honest, and I'm seriously not being a poor loser or trying to diss other blogs, but I was really surprised by some of the winners compared to all of the blogs to choose from. During the voted period I visited so many unique sites that clearly had sharp writers behind them. What happened?

Anyways, the prize was just a measly $50 gift certificate. It's not like they were giving away a dream date with Mike Wolfe of American Pickers, or a private concert with John Sebastian. If they had, now that would have been a major drag and tears would be streaming down my face right now. However, I was thrilled to just be nominated---in not one but two categories! I also gained a few more fans and followers in the process so it's a win-win situation.

So again, thanks to everyone who voted for Go Retro. I wish I had an awesome giveaway prize for each and every one of you!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fragrance Nation

The world can be a pretty stinky place--literally. I am so over the current trend of consumer goods manufacturers pumping artificial fragrances into everything from laundry detergent to moisturizer. I don't have the strongest nose, but the fragrances in these products are often so overwhelming that if one of my neighbors is washing their laundry with one, I'll detect it. Want your sheets and tighty whities to smell like a tropical island, a lavender field or "Freshness Powder," whatever that is? Well I don't. What's wrong with clothes smelling like good old fashioned outdoor air, the way your grandma cleaned them? 

Then there's the onslaught of the Yankee Candle craze, the plug-in-freshener craze, and don't get me started on the Febreeze craze. Seriously, why the need for these products?

To the best of my knowledge, consumers never asked for a perfume factory in the detergent aisle. It's not like we have crummy hygiene or a lack of plumbing that makes us all smell like we're living in 18th century France. Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I only remember Tide as available in one scent--Tide. Today, Tide comes in Original Scent, Tide Plus Febreeze Freshness, Tide with a Touch of Downy (which is available in the scents "April Breeze", "Clean Breeze" or lavender) and Tide Totalcare, which is available in the scents "Renewing Rain" or "Cool Cotton." You mean they actually found a way to artificially reproduce the smell of "cool cotton"? I am forced to use Tide Free and Gentle, which is free of fragrance and dyes. The others are simply too stinky, and it's not like the smell fades once the clothes are rinsed and dried. It lingers until you wash the item again using a fragrance-free soap.

I'm one of those women who has never really been into perfume. In fact, I only own one bottle of it that I rarely use--Clinique's Happy--and I choose fragrance-free products for anything and everything whenever possible, because I can't stomach them otherwise. Artificial fragrance is in everything now. Would you believe that Proctor and Gamble even managed to ruin Ivory soap? Those simple white bars, touted as "pure", were always completely scent free up until a few years ago. Now I get a distinct smell of something floral when I wash my hands with it. But the thing that I don't really get are the odd products that get the scented makeover treatment. My brother and I waxed my car over the summer with a product he uses that smelled like perfume--car wax! WTF? While attending an outdoor public event earlier this summer, free ladies razors were given out. I like the razor a lot, but the plastic handle is raspberry scented. It reminds of me of the scented watches that Swatch made briefly during the 80s, with smelly bands that eventually disintegrated. What value does this possibly add to the product, especially when many women are using it in conjunction with a scented soap or shaving cream?

No offense to those who purchase and like these products, but I do want to make users aware that most of them are being made with artificial, not natural, scents. In recent years there's been mounting studies done suggesting that the chemicals that are used to make these fake-o smells may be toxic. Yeah, I know that not everything will kill you like the media would sometimes like to make you believe, but hear me out. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics looks at all ingredients used in beauty products and considers artificial fragrances to be both a phthalate (a class of chemical linked to hormone disruption) and a neurotoxin (a chemical that is toxic to the brain.) Considering that so many products also contain other ingredients that may have an unsafe cumulative effect over time, I go out of my way to buy fragrance-free products whenever possible. I order shower gel and body lotion from a great little U.S.-based company called Loving Naturals. None of their products contain any fragrance manufactured in a lab, only oils derived from real vanilla, peppermint, grapefruit and more. They also make unscented versions of many of their items.

I'm sure your mothers and grandmothers would agree that artificial fragrance is unnecessary, and a marketing ploy to get people to buy these products. A few years ago I bought a vintage 80s romper on eBay, and the smell of whatever it was washed in was so strong and sweet that I had to launder it three time to remove it. I would have preferred that in addition to looking like an 80s clothing item, that it smelled like one, too--which means that it should have smelled like nothing at all other than clean fabric. Enough is enough--if it was made in a lab, I don't want it going up my nose.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

American Pickers in High School

I don't know what's sadder, the fact that this photo is from a 1979 high school yearbook being sold on eBay, or that I'm home on a Saturday night, found it, and absolutely had to share it. Anyways, for my fellow American Pickers fans, this is indeed Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz from their high school days--would you look at that hair on Frank? Who knew? He actually could qualify for Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month! Mike is awfully cute with that Beatles/bowl cut. The guys were in their freshmen year here. Looking good, fellas!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bad Cover Art of the Day: Christopher Cross

There are many things in life that should never been seen. Christopher Cross's crotch (say that fast three times) is definitely one of them. Think of Laura? More like think of the children! The pose and the pink pants make it pretty hard to think about anything else. Who thought this was a good idea?

With all fairness, I believe the photo below is the alternative cover shot...but that still doesn't make it any better for our eyes. 

Two Forgotten Friday Favorites: Berlin

The group Berlin is best known for the overplayed hit "Take My Breath Away" from the 1986 movie Top Gun (Paul McCartney even performed a parody of it earlier this year on Saturday Night Live.) However, it's two of their earlier hits that I'm choosing for today's Forgotten Friday Favorites. This L.A. based New Wave band, made up of John Crawford (bass guitar), Terri Nunn (vocals), David Diamond (keyboards), Ric Olsen (guitar), Matt Reid (keyboards) and Rod Learned (drums, later replaced by Rob Brill) started their career in the late 70s. The very pretty lead singer Nunn pursued an acting career in between music and even auditioned for the role of Princess Leah. The band is still active today (Nunn is the only original member), and is currently working on a new album

Today's songs are "No More Words" and "Sex (I'm A...)" I love the "No More Words" video because it was Bonnie and Clyde inspired and therefore the clothes and cars used in it are fantastic (I actually think Faye Dunaway's style in the iconic 1967 movie is still sexy and timeless today.) And "Sex (I'm A...)" was one I never heard on the radio for obvious reasons--it was banned by several radio stations due to its controversial lyrics. Ah, they don't write songs like they used to. Thank goodness for the magic of the Interwebs. Hope y'all are enjoying your Friday.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Three Ads Too Good Not to Share #10: The TV Commercial Edition

It's been far too long since I've done one of these posts, because so often the process of finding three interesting ads is time consuming. So I thought I'd shake things up and make my life easier by posting commercials instead. My goal was too find three whacky TV spots from the 60s. Thanks to the magic of YouTube and the free flowing pharmaceuticals during that era, this didn't take long at all!

1. IHOP: You Want Some Acid With Your Pancakes?
I may have posted this bizarre commercial before, but it must be seen (and heard) to be believed. The balloons, the slow motion, and the trippy Chipmunks singing voice makes me wonder what the ad men who dreamed this up were smoking that day. But the truly horrifying part to me is the food itself--have you ever seen a salad that looked like this before? "Just for the fun of it"? I'll just have the pancakes, thanks. 

2. Cheer: Beam Me Up, Mommy
The Star Trek reference in this Cheer commercial is so obvious that I'm surprised no one was sued for ripping off Dr. Spock's look. I'm sure that most normal people would be positively freaked out if a spaceman from the future materialized in our home to discuss laundry detergent, but not our unfazed heroine mom here. She even manages to makes a joke: tem-pera-CHEER! Ha ha! 

3. Sunsweet Prunes: Fiber is Your Future Friend
Well Ray Bradbury, I'm awfully disappointed with you. According to this commercial, you predicted that by the year 2001 people would be traveling in nomadic tubes and watching wall sized television. Now it's the year 2011 and what do we have? PRUNES*. Thanks for nothing.

*I actually love prunes. And watch the ad; it's a riot.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The 80s Fitness Craze

Photo copyright Living Pages
When one looks back on the 80s, it's pretty remarkable to think how much the fitness craze of the decade permeated every nook and cranny of pop culture. From Olivia Newton-John's music video for "Physical" to Nike's infamous "Just Do It" advertising tagline, Americans sweated and jazzercised themselves through the era. Jane Fonda was everywhere, although she wasn't the only celeb putting her workouts on VHS: my mother still has a copy of Debbie Reynolds' fitness video released in 1983, called "Do It Debbie's Way." Sweats, spandex, leg warmers and high top sneakers even became part of everyday streetwear...I should know, since I wore them all--at once! In late 1981, Time ran this cover. Ask yourself when you last saw this headline--anywhere--in the news: 

That's a pretty sharp contrast compared to today, where it seems the media makes an announcement about the growing obesity epidemic at least once a week. So what the hell happened to us?

I've seen many other blogs and sites attempt to answer this question. Some blame the revised USDA food pyramid, others the supersizing of McDonald's menu choices, and still others on the fact that Americans are stressed and overworked. I think there's no one clear answer, but a cumulative effect of all of these factors. One thing's for certain: as a nation, we're not as healthy and active as we used to be. In some ways I think the 80s took the fitness fad to the extreme, but that's certainly better than the stagnant lifestyle many people lead today. 

Anyways, let's look back on this craze via some photos, shall we? Some of these were apparently scanned from muscle magazines and exercise equipment catalogs, so they're extra fun!
Copyright Living Pages
Copyright retro-space
They are wearing inappropriate shoes for aerobics which tells me this is some sort of dance/performing troupe, not a gym class. Nonetheless I would love to know what the instructor is saying to the other ladies...he's definitely checking out his example's gams. 
Copyright glen.h
Copyright Living Pages
I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation why he's working three hula hoops around his crotch area at once...damned if I know what it is, however.
Copyright Living Pages
Damn, whoever took these shots is one pervy photographer. Is she working her glutes, or waiting for her pelvic exam?

"Have fun"...maybe. "Look great" while doing it? Not so much. I never understood workout records vs workout's hard to do the moves without actually seeing them. 

Wow. She looks like she's having too much fun on that machine, huh?

Definitely would have been a good one for my Things That Look Gay But Aren't post. "Teal is definitely your color, Rico!"
Three words: not tan enough. 

On second thought, maybe it was all of the ridiculous workout clothing that led people to the couch. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Amanda H, come on down! You're the winner of the Welcome Back Giveaway!

I used a virtual slot machine to pick a name. I know you can't see everyone's names on the screenshot, but rest assured I entered the user names of everyone who left me a comment on the post.  

I will be sending Amanda an email with the promo code good for $25 off any purchase at Daddy-Os. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who participated! Now back to regularly scheduled retro goodness...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

The Coolest Commercial Ever

A couple dances through 100 years of fashion in this awesomely executed ad for East London clothing. Somehow they even manage to make the 80s and 90s look good. This commercial has gone viral in recent days, but just in case you haven't seen it yet, enjoy!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Announcing the Welcome Back Giveaway!

Yes, welcome school, work, or the unofficial start to the fall season now that the Labor Day weekend is behind us. I know that most of us are not exactly jazzed up about the idea of saying goodbye to summer (as Vinnie Barbarino himself would say, "Up your nose with a rubber hose!") Before you know it, most of us will be cranking on the heat and eventually shoveling snow. In order to ease your pain, I've decided to do another giveaway!

I must confess, the giveaway prize has absolutely nothing to do with Welcome Back Kotter try as I did to create some sort of connection, but nonetheless it's a cool one indeed. In fact, I'll admit that I wanted to keep this one for myself! It's a $25 online gift certificate to Daddy-O's, "your one stop shop for rockabilly and swing clothes, bowling shirts, lounge wear, club wear and clothing inspired by the 1950's!" Daddy-O's has a great selection of vintage style shirts (the kind that Charlie Sheen wore on Two and a Half Men) and jackets for the cool cats, and sexy and stunning dresses by the clothing manufacturer Stop Staring for the foxes. They also carry shoes, hats, accessories and boys shirts. Check them out!

To win the $25 promo code, just leave me a comment about any ol' thing...and I'll draw a name Friday morning and announce the winner then. You must have an actual profile name with a way that I can contact you if you're the winner (so comments left anonymously cannot qualify.) 

Good luck, everyone!  To help sing you off, here's John Sebastian performing his signature solo hit "Welcome Back" on the 70s variety show Sha Na Na!

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