Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Land of the Lost TV Series #4: Pryor's Place

It's kind of fascinating to think that Richard Pryor headed his own Saturday morning children's television show. By the time Pryor's Place aired in 1984, the comedian/actor was known for his obscenity-laced routines, album titles that contained the "n" word and the infamous incident where he set himself on fire after freebasing cocaine. But controversial or not, Pryor obviously liked children and cared enough about their well-being to bring some of his tamer comedic talents to Pryor's Place. While the show only aired for 13 episodes, it tackled some of the heavy issues of the day such as divorce, shoplifting, cheating and child molestation. The show was also produced by Sid and Marty Krofft and featured puppets of their creation, as well as guest stars such as Willie Nelson, John Ritter, Henry Winkler, Robin Williams and Lily Tomlin. One of its cast members was Marla Gibbs, who would go on to star in The Jeffersons and 227.

Pryor also appeared on the show as an assortment of characters. The show itself was supposed to be about the young Richard Pryor growing up with his friends in the inner city and learning some hard lessons along the way (which did not include pouring high-proof rum all over your body and setting yourself on fire.) This venture into television was not Pryor's first; The Richard Pryor Show only lasted for four episodes in 1977 after audiences failed to appreciate Pryor's edgy humor.

Ray Parker Jr. of Ghostbusters fame wrote and performed the theme song to Pryor's Place. Unfortunately, there are not any real clips from the show on YouTube to share other than the opening theme below, but all 13 episodes are available on DVD through Amazon.com.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Night Oscar Hung His Head in Shame

Oscar night is full of weird and bad moments, but what you're about to watch is probably the worst opening number of any Academy Awards ceremony ever. We have the late composer Marvin Hamlisch and Allan Carr (the producer of Grease) to blame for this mess which kicked off the 1989 Academy Awards. How bad was it? So bad that several stars including Paul Newman, Gregory Peck and Julie Andrews signed an open letter the next day calling the awards show “an embarrassment to both the Academy and the entire motion picture industry.” It also pissed off Disney for the unauthorized use of Snow White's image.

And boy, did this act do her image no favors. Snow warbles with a high-pitched, irritating voice, and seems to be bothering Tom Hanks, Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver and others in the audience as she makes her way to the stage. There are dancing "stars" (literally), a recreation of the Coconut Grove (with Merv Griffin singing "Ive Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"--get it?) and Hollywood icons such as Vincent Price and Roy Rogers thrown into the middle of this clusterfuck. Then Rob Lowe joins Snow on-stage as her blind date to butcher "Proud Mary" set to alternate lyrics (it's the Lowe and Snow Show - ha!) You can see why this angered a lot of people. And it goes on for 10 minutes, culminating into A Chorus Line line-up. It doesn't get more over the top than that. Thank goodness some retro trends are best left in the past.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And the Winner of the Greeting Card Giveaway Is...

Joanna of ChristmasTVHistory! Joanna received two entries since she also tweeted about the giveaway. Congrats, Joanna, and my apologies that it took longer than expected to choose a winner. I will be in touch with you to get your mailing address for the cards.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Whatever Happened To...Communication Skills?

I get some messages on OKCupid that are real doozies, but this latest one really took the cake:

Guys are that observant. We just know your fair looks nice. We not concearned with how women get the way they look. We are just happy they look nice. 
It s funny someone noticed a Victoria secret catalog in a photo I sent of cookies I made. 
But very nice profile I hope your search goes well 

What the...what? I have NO idea what this man was trying to say. There isn't anything in my profile that talks about men being concerned about looks. Victoria's Secret catalog...cookies...what? Not to mention the spelling mistakes. I assume he meant "hair" and not "fair." The message sounds like Cookie Monster wrote it. One initial thought was that English wasn't his second language. Anyways, it was so bizarre and non-sensical I simply had to respond:

Excuse me--is this an actual response to my profile? This message makes zero sense and is full of spelling and grammatical errors. NEXT.

He responded with this:

It was intended ado kind note. Sorry about that. My sense of humor does not translate well sometimes. My apologies. 
I was typing on my phone 

Yep, I could have guessed as much. The friggin' smartphone. Texting mistakes. More importantly, the inability to see how much of a doofus you come across as when you send someone on an online dating site a sloppy message that you texted up that's filled with spelling and grammar errors but oddly enough, no relevancy to anything whatsoever. (Sense of humor? His message was supposed to be funny?) By the way, I looked at this guy's profile after the fact and was baffled to see that he apparently was born in the U.S. and that he actually wrote a normal sounding profile. 

Not long ago I took a virtual dating trip around the world and viewed the profiles of guys in other countries. Amazingly, their profiles were written in far more impeccable English than a lot of American men's profiles. They seem to care more about first impressions and a few stated that they hoped their English was good enough to read. (They also dress and present themselves better than a lot of American guys online, but that's another post for another time.)

So what the hell has happened to communication skills? I guess technology has killed them--but that's still no excuse to me. 

I'm seeing moronic messages from strangers more and more and I don't like it one bit. I got a message a few weeks ago from a girl who wanted to sell Mary Kay to my social group members. Her message was exhausting to read as it was essentially one long run-on sentence with no punctuation or capitalization. 

I really want to ask these people that if they applied for a job this way, do they think they would get an interview? If you take a test on your way to becoming a doctor or lawyer by writing like you're in the 4th grade, do you think you would pass the exam? Why would you think anyone should take you seriously when you communicate like a caveman? If the texting keypad on your phone causes you to make several mistakes, then why not type a proper email using a friggin' computer?

And I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. This report that American students lack writing skills was no surprise to me. Maybe school administrators need to wrench their phones and tablets from their hands while they're in the classroom. 

Maybe I'm being harsh, but first impressions are everything and from now on, if one can't bother to spell or write a coherent sentence, they're not worth my time. The sad part is a lack of basic writing skills has now become expected; accepted, even, because of texting. Well, I simply cannot accept it. I didn't graduate from high school, go through college, hold jobs and start a blog with shitty language skills. 

Call it having standards. 

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Retro Greeting Cards Giveaway!

I was hoping when 2013 rolled around that I'd get the opportunity to do another giveaway on Go Retro. That opportunity presented itself when NobleWorksCards.com reached out to me to offer a retro greeting card assortment to one of my readers. I've posted about the decline of greeting cards a while back, so here's your chance to keep a retro trend going!

Entering is easy--just take a look at NobleWorks' retro card collection starting here and leave a comment letting us know which design you like the best. I'll put all of the names in a random pick generator online and will announce the winner on Monday, February 11. You must have an actual commenter name with a link to an active email address...so if you're posting as an anonymous commenter, please provide that info and your name with your comment to qualify. 

Want an extra entry? Take to Twitter and mention my blog & handle in a tweet -- @GoRetroPam. Good luck, everyone!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Video Game Console Smackdown: Atari 2600 vs. Intellivision

Were you on Team Atari or Team Intellivision in the 80s? There were other home gaming consoles on the market at this time, but it seems these two companies were the main contenders battling it out in ads and commercials.

Like so many other kids, I had an Atari 2600. My best friend from the time had Intellivision. I only remember playing it a couple of times at her house and to be honest, I recall not being terribly impressed. Sure, it had the "better" graphics compared to Atari (which sounds hilarious now considering how far gaming technology has come) but the selection of available games fell short compared to the list Atari eventually accumulated and licensed. The flat controller with its keypad was cumbersome for someone used to Atari's joystick.

The Atari 2600 was released in 1977, and quickly became a popular gaming system. Intellivision was developed by Mattel in 1979 and was marketed as "intelligent television." They got writer George Plimpton--an odd choice for a spokesman, since most kids didn't know who he was--to star in a series of snooty ads and TV commercials explaining why Intellivision trumped the Atari 2600. 


Atari tried to say that the Intellivision console didn't have any space games, then Intellivision counteracted with this spot that featured a kid dressed like George Plimpton:


This one starring Henry Thomas from E.T. is weird--Henry is starstruck by "Mr. Intellivision" and it is ironic considering the E.T. video game was developed for Atari. 

Mattel got into hot water when they started to build up hype by hinting at a new accessory for Intellivision which it called a "Keyboard Component." This was a piece of technology with extra RAM that your Intellivision would be inserted into, turning the whole system into a personal home computer. The Keyboard Component became a marketing disaster, getting delayed several times so that engineers could resolve its reliability problems and make it cheaper to produce. When Jay Leno performed at Mattel's Christmas party in 1981, one of his jokes was, "You know what the three big lies are, don't you? 'The check is in the mail,' 'I'll respect you in the morning,' and 'The Keyboard will be out in spring.'" Things got so bad that the FTC accused Mattel of fraud and false advertising, and ordered the company to pay a fine of $10,000 daily until the system upgrade was widely available in retail stores. By the fall of 1982, Intellivision officially canceled the Keyboard Component. 

Meanwhile, Atari was racking up the accessories and games:

Intellivision would release new versions and variations of its system but in my opinion, it never cemented itself into pop culture notoriety like the Atari 2600 did. Which one did you own--or like the best?

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