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Preserving the people, places, and things from the pop culture past...because some of us still believe in yesterday.

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    A lot of retro blogs--and Go Retro is no exception to this--occasionally like to poke fun at the more kitschy fashions and home items of decades past. But very often, I come across something that's so downright elegant that it deserves to be shared as well, for the right reasons. These are selected pages from the 1941 Lord & Taylor Christmas catalog that I found on WishbookWeb.com and it just oozes with class from a time gone by. It made me think of Cary Grant and Clark Gable. Although I prefer models to illustrations when it comes to catalogs, I'd have had no problem buying any of the items in this catalog without seeing an actual photograph first, as they're so nicely done. Compared to other retail chains like Sears and JCPenney, it seems that Lord & Taylor was already establishing itself as a more luxurious, niche brand back then.












    By 1941, the U.S. was at war overseas. I like that the catalog recognized gifts for the soldier in someone's life. 





    Thinking of today's teens, it's hard to imagine a 14 year-old boy dressing this way, isn't it?







    I love that L&T was selling accessories for cats and dogs way before anyone heard of such pet luxuries!






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    I wanted to take a break from the pop culture reminiscing to share a retro Christmas craft with you all. 

    These are called Polish porcupines. We've been making them in my family before I was born. The Polish call them "jezyk" which technically, translates to hedgehog. Sometimes they're also called Polish stars or Polish star urchins. Whatever you want to call them, these are super fun and easy to make--and you can use practically any kind of easily bendable paper to get a few different looks. Even aluminum foil can be used. 


    Here's what you need to make them:

    Paper--any kind as mentioned, even leftover wrapping paper. I like to use shiny foil origami paper that you can buy in squares in craft stores. When you put a bunch of these brightly colored beauties on a white or silver tree, you've got yourself a very retro/mid-century modern look. 

    A jar or glass to trace onto the paper to cut it into circles--It's best to use  something that will give you a circle around 4" across or slightly larger. You can also use a CD as a tracer to give you larger ornaments. 

    A sharpened pencil--this is important because a nicely sharpened pencil is needed to get those pointy "spikes" in the ornament (and it will also help you trace your circle.)

    Craft glue, and toothpicks to help you spread just the right amount as you create the spikes (as you can see from the photo above, I went retro with the Mod Podge.)

    A sewing needle, and thread.

    Step 1: Trace your chosen paper and cut out the circle shape. When I use the foil origami paper, I find that I need 8-10 circles to make one Polish porcupine, so repeat several more times until you have enough circles. You can mix colors if you like (for the purposes of showing the steps below, I used leftover matte origami paper that I had on hand.)

    Step 2: Fold a circle in half, then half again, then half one more time. Open it up. You'll now have 8 creases and you want to cut along these creases, but don't cut all the way to the center. Leave some space in the middle because you'll be threading the circles together when they're ready. 

    Step 3: Now this is the tricky (and time consuming!) part. Using the sharpened pencil point, you're going to roll each section of the cut circle around it as shown. I usually put a bit of glue on the left side of each section with a toothpick, place the pencil in the center at a slight angle, and wrap the right side of the cut section around the pencil first, making sure it's tucked underneath, then wrap the left glued side around the pencil the other way. It might take some practice to get it rolled tightly and to know where to affix the glue. Repeat and each circle will have 8 spikes when done. Then repeat with the other cut circles. 

    Step 4: When you think you have enough spiked circles, stack them all on top of each other. I usually rotate each layer slightly so that the spikes overlap into place. 
    Step 5: Using thread and a sewing needle, thread the circles together by bringing the needle through the center of the stacked circles all the way up through the bottom (be sure to knot the end of your thread) and then all the way back down through a second hole. Then I create a loop for hanging the ornament before cutting the thread. 

    I'll also adjust the spikes on the top and bottom of the ornament by bending them slightly to help it take on a more rounded, even shape. And that's it! However, making one takes time so don't expect to have a whole treeful in one afternoon, but it's definitely fun to set aside an afternoon and put on the Christmas music while making these. 

    Here's one of my smaller trees decorated sort of 60s style a few years ago featuring some Polish porcupines (yep, those are the Beatles underneath the tree!)

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    Body odor. It's a scourge that has plagued humankind since the dawn of time, wrecking havoc on one's social life. And that's just the angle that advertisers used to shame people into practicing better hygiene. These ads say, "Hey, you. Yes, YOU. In case you haven't noticed by your lack of a dating life and friendship, you stink. Use our product." Well, some of them wouldn't be too far off the mark. After all, no one wants to kiss or hang out with someone who smells like the monkey exhibit at the zoo. 





    Two ads that warned how B.O. can cause Old Maid syndrome, too. 


    Wait--did I just read that overweight people stink more than average weight people? Did I just see the words "stout" and "plump"? Yes, we did. This is not so much an ad, but an advertorial from a 1962 Woman's Day. However, what I find most disturbing about it is the accompanying photo of the girl who appears to be anything but "plump." I hope not too many girls who saw this ad said to themselves, "Wait, I look just like the girl in the photo. I guess I'm fat." 



    For some reason, the 70s ushered in an obsession with feminine odor and advertising settings in fields. It's perplexing because everyday feminine odor is usually not detectable, especially through clothing, unless your face is pressed up against someone's crotch. I mean, we were showering and bathing regularly in the 70s, right? Apparently, not using Pristeen will get you banished to a secluded field.



    Hasn't she heard of Odo-Ro-No, the ad asks? Who HAS heard of this brand? I haven't a clue, but those two chicks in the background should talk by the odd way they're practicing ballet moves on each other. Maybe the second girl is confused by who is causing the smell. With the first girl's legs open like that, perhaps someone could use a little Pristeen spray.



    Rule #58 from the Mad Men Handbook of Office Rules: When you answer the phone, bring coffee, pour a scotch or otherwise wipe the ass of Mr. Boss Man, you want to make sure your smell does not offend him while doing so. 

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    Image via MainStreetMallOnline
    Long before the world had heard of Justin Bieber and One Direction, there were Andy and David Williams--nephews of the late Andy Williams (by the way, it's hard to believe this holiday season is the first one without Andy still with us.) These twin brothers are probably best knows for their appearance in 1974 on The Partridge Family where they had the hots for Laurie Partridge, played by Susan Dey:


    They released a few albums in the 70s--mostly capitalizing on The Partridge Family connection. I actually don't think their songs were bad at all--catchy, upbeat music to make young girls swoon, like this doo-wopish, moderate hit they had called "What's Your Name?"


    After the album releases, they seem to have made an awful lot of appearances in the teen mags from the day--but oddly enough, I've never heard any woman who grew up during the era say that they had a crush on these kids or even remember much about them. It seems any popularity at the time was due to their connection to their famous uncle and of course, they appeared on his Christmas television specials. Here's a clip of them performing "Hello Mary Lou" on the 1973 Andy Williams Christmas program:


    For young teens, they have surprisingly mature voices compared to some of today's singers in the same age range.

    After the limelight died down, the Williams boys did some growing up and studied music. In the 90s, they re-emereged on the music scene and had a 1991 hit called "Can't Cry Hard Enough."

    Something interesting to note about the duo is that for the second act of their musical career, they shed the bubblegum pop personas for more serious music--opening shows for Suzanne Vega and Roy Orbison. Critics had good things to say about their work, comparing their harmonies to The Everly Brothers, R.E.M. and Bruce Hornsby--which makes it all the more perplexing why we haven't heard more about them since their teeny bopper years. 

    David Williams announced in 1994 that he was gay. As of late, there hasn't been much information about Andy and David Williams. Anyone know what they might be up to these days?

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    If I told you that a Disney-produced film was responsible for the first on-screen mention of the word vagina, would you believe me? Well believe it, folks--and file that tidbit away in your noggin in case you're ever a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

    The film in question is called The Story of Menstruation and I came across it the other night on--what else--YouTube. This was a 1946 educational animated short shown in American high schools to teach young ladies about their menstrual cycle. I actually think it's well-done for its time; as expected, it does not mention sexual intercourse or exactly how women get pregnant, but it does dispel some old wives' tales about getting a period. My only complaint is that it downplays menstrual cramp pain ("some girls may feel an occasional twinge"...yeah, right. More like pass the ibuprofen before I pass out, please!) It also seems to be saying that if you powder your face and toughen up your attitude, you'll be over your PMS in no time at all. And stand up straight, girls! "Let those organs function the way they were intended." 

    YouTube says the video was banned, but I couldn't find any information elsewhere that confirms this. Wikipedia claims it was shown in high schools for some time, and came with a companion booklet for each student called Very Personally Yours, which featured advertising by Kotex. 

    Walt Disney Corporation never renewed the copyright for the film, so it's now in the public domain and can be freely shared. 

    Here's the video. It would be too weird to say "enjoy", right?


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  • 12/15/12--06:44: Tragedy

  • I'm taking a break from the retro posts today to say a few words about the horrific news yesterday, which I'm sure has been weighing heavily on everyone's mind. The incident made me think back to when I was in kindergarten myself. I was five years old. I knew what death was, having experienced the death of my grandfather and a beloved cat by that age, but I'm not sure I knew the concept of murder yet. Had something like that happened when I was in kindergarten, I doubt that any of us could have comprehended what was going on. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out not only to the victims, but everyone who was affected by this inconceivable tragedy. It boggles my mind to think that 27 families are not going to have much of a Christmas or holiday celebration. 

    For whatever reason, today's world is not the same one as the one I grew up in. I remember the turning point was when Adam Walsh was abducted and found dead in the early 80s--suddenly, as a kid, I didn't feel quite so safe being outside on my own anymore, knowing that there were monsters who wanted to harm children. But now things have gotten so far off the deep edge and out of control, I don't know what the threshold is anymore. That isn't to say, of course, that people weren't hurting and killing each other back in my parents' and grandparents' times. No, the world wasn't perfect. We had wars, discrimination, and corrupt politicians. But mass shootings? Unheard of. 

    It's this nostalgia for different and often, better times that keeps this blog going. As I was telling a coworker at my company's holiday party last night, it makes me feel good when people tell me my posts bring back nice memories.  

    I'm grateful for all of my readers who visit and enjoy this site--and I wish you all the best for the holiday season, with loved ones who are safe and close at hand. May you all have plenty to be grateful for and may we figure out some ways to make the world a safer place starting in 2013. 

    Someone posted this song on Facebook yesterday; it seemed highly appropriate.


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  • 12/16/12--14:09: The Forgotten Allure of Fur

  • Genuine fur clothing has become so taboo during the past 15 years or so that I don't remember the last time I saw an ad for a fur coat. Very few people today, it seems, dare to wear real fur. Each time I walk into my local Macy's I use the entrance right near the fur salon, and I have yet to see anyone in there other than the saleswomen. If a designer releases a fur item or a celebrity is spotted wearing fur, he/she receives a lot of bad publicity. 

    That wasn't always the case. Before animal welfare groups such as PETA were formed and shed a light on the fur industry, people were blissfully unaware of how cruelly fur was farmed. For many decades, fur was seen as glamorous and coveted; the ultimate present a woman could receive from her suitor, back in the day, was often a fur coat. 


    Luckily, faux fur has really taken off in the U.S. during the past 20 years (and as the owner of a couple of fake fur coats, I can attest that they're really toasty.) And the best part is they're cruelty free.

    For better or for worse, here's a bunch of fur ads through the decades, from the site VintageAdBrowser (unless where otherwise noted.) I noticed they petered out after 1990. I present them not because I condone the fur trade, but simply because it's a vintage fashion trend, the likes of which I don't think we'll see coming around again anytime soon. 


    The next two images are pages from the 1933 Spiegel catalog; even during The Great Depression, it seems, fur was being sold and as a matter of fact, virtually all of the coats I saw being advertised in the catalog contained fur. 





    It's hard to believe people wore seal at one point. 






    Fur manufacturers at one point had no problem getting celebrities to endorse their coats. 








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    Is it "Dominick the Christmas Donkey"? The Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late"?

    No. For me, the song that's become the yuletide equivalent of a dentist's drill is "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" sung by Gayla Peevey. Even her name sounds annoying (I'm sorry, Gayla, if you happen to read this.) This spoiled brat wants Santa to bring her not a dollhouse or a pony--but a hippo, apparently unaware that hippos can charge after humans and snap their body in two (someone get Gayla a hippo pronto!) 

    Gayla was ten years old when this novelty became a hit in 1953, and she even performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show. Her voice is a little easier to take when she's singing on a variety show set. And guess what? Gayla got her wish. An Oklahoma radio station launched a campaign to raise money to give her a hippopotamus for Christmas. She was presented with a hippo, named Matilda, which she donated to the local zoo. 



    When Gayla was a little older, she performed under the name Jamie Horton and had a minor hit with "My Little Marine" in 1960. 

    What holiday song bugs you the most?

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    Image from SavvySugar
    Nothing beats the old Christmas movies, songs and TV specials of the 20th century--it's as simple as that. When you really think about it, nothing that has been released in the past 15 years that is related to Christmas has the potential to become a classic someday. Most of the newer Christmas movies are painfully lame, such as Fred Claus, which starred Vince Vaughn as the inept brother of Santa (played by Paul Giamatti, who incinerated his talent with this film.) Two exceptions may be The Polar Express and Elf; my boss predicts that by the time his oldest child is grown up, these will be considered classic Christmas movies. But will they stir as much nostalgia as It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or A Christmas Story? I doubt it. 

    I also don't remember the last time I tried watching a new animated or musical Christmas special. Last year's A Michael Buble Christmas would have been more watchable if it weren't for a. the horribly unfunny sketch Buble did sporting a mustache and Christmas sweater, b. Michael Buble wasn't such a douchebag in real life, and c. Justin Bieber hadn't been invited to this lame holiday party. Thank goodness for YouTube, where I can find solace in Christmas specials by Andy Williams, Sonny & Cher, and Carol Burnett. And how about those sitcoms?     The Sanford and Son episode entitled "Ebenezer Sanford", where Fred gets even grumpier and stingy than usual during Christmas, is funnier than any holiday themed comedy today. "You don't upset me, Fred Sanford" says Aunt Esther. "I have the feeling of Christmas." "And the face of Halloween!" zings back Fred.

    And the animated specials? I don't think I'll ever get tired of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Frosty the Snowman. Sure, the newer animations are slick and computer generated, but they'll never have the charm or the slightly herky-jerky awkwardness of the Rankin-Bass stop motion TV specials. 

    On my last post, a few people commented about a fairly newer song called "The Christmas Shoes." Having never heard it before, I looked it up and tried to give it a whirl--dreadful! I think holiday music should be happy and fun, not something that should be played at a funeral. Even the socially conscious "Do They Know It's Christmas?" wasn't this depressing! Right up through the 80s, we had classic Christmas staples being created such as Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" and The Waitresses' "Christmas Wrapping." (One exception: I love Bob Dylan's "It Must Be Santa" from his 2009 Christmas album.) Nowadays it seems like only the country folks are writing newer Christmas music, and the older crooners like Rod Stewart are covering the same old songs. 

    I guess it goes hand-in-hand with the complaints about Hollywood that we've been hearing for a while now: lack of imagination.

    And it isn't that I'm being an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy on purpose...I really have given the newer Christmas movies, music and specials a try...they just aren't for me, and I don't think any of them are on schedule to go down in history as pop culture classics. If anyone thinks that there are exceptions worth checking out, I'm open to hearing about them. 

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    Image via Cozy Home Chronicles
    Well, another Christmas and end of year is upon us once again. Just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who reads this blog, who follows the Facebook page, my Twitter handle, and who has taken the time to leave a comment or drop me a message about something they read that sparked their interest. Go Retro had its best year yet--with increased traffic and new fans. Now that I'm on vacation, you may be seeing the tired banner get some swap outs with updates as I experiment to see what looks and works best for a new look. 

    To wish you all happy holidays, I have a special treat. The video below came from my friend Greg over at UMRK Radio (and BTW, Greg hosts a super-duper swell retro radio show occasionally--check out the link if you love those old school radio shows that you remember from the 60s, 70s, and 80s!) It's the Twelve Days of Christmas featuring products that were advertised in the 50s and 60s--be prepared for a LOT of Ford custom built station wagons and Libby's fruits and vegetables!



    Have a happy and safe holiday season! Here's hoping 2013 brings us all everything we ever wished and hoped for!

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    It's the holiday season and naturally, that makes me think of teenage pregnancy. You know, Baby New Year? Well anyway, I came across the trailer for this movie the other day on YouTube and it sounded so hilarious and unbelievably craptastic that I was almost tempted to "rent" the online version from Amazon.com for $1.99. Almost. The only thing stopping me is that it contains footage of a very graphic, very horrific actual birth verrrrry close-up to boot. The description of this scene from online reviewers who forced themselves to watch it sounds 100 times more vulgar than anything a horror filmmaker could dream up. 

    That's too bad, because Teenage Mother sounds initially like a hoot--a misguided attempt from filmmakers in 1967 to warn young women about pregnancy and teach them about sex education. There's so much contradictory information right up front in the trailer--we're told that the film broke box office records across the country, yet it's being shown as a "special roadside attraction to select audiences only." Then we're told at the end that every parent should take their child to see the movie--dear God, are you kidding me? To see a baby's head being pulled out of a movie screen-sized vagina with a clamp? The man doing the voiceover sounds like he's from Brooklyn, which makes it all the more comical. I can almost picture him chomping on a cigar every time he says, "Teenage Mutha...means nine months of trouble!"

    From the trailer, I assumed that the slutty girl in the lead part (who appears to be performing fellatio on a drumstick) was the one who gets knocked up (she did her homework in parked cars, after all, according to the poster) after her actions lead to her being gang raped one evening. In reality, the preview for this film is extremely misleading. It's really about a Swedish teacher who wants to teach sex education to her high school students, which causes controversy. The girl that we see in the poster wearing a watermelon underneath her sweater is only lying about her pregnancy. And she wasn't gang raped--it appears that way in the trailer but according to reviews, she is rescued. No one even has sex! Confused yet? I have no idea what the birth scene has to do with the movie, then, unless it was the secret sauce to scare young women into using protection. Fred Willard, at this point just beginning his film career, has a bit part as a coach: 



    The film was directed by exploitation/grindhouse film impresario Jerry Gross (other film titles associated with his name include Female Animal, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and Girl on a Chain Gang.)

    I'll pass on watching and reviewing Teenage Mother, but I highly recommend the immensely entertaining trailer:


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  • 01/01/13--07:00: Misunderstood Milky
  • Image vis PlaidStallions.com
    A nostalgia-themed Facebook page that I follow posted a picture of Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow by Kenner the other day, accompanied by this observation: "I think I had this..or maybe my cousins did. Regardless, it was kinda weird..and so was the white-ish watery probably toxic substance that Milky 'produced'."

    Then someone who follows the page chimed in with this comment: "That's crazy and kinda creepy....Glad my kids never wanted one :-P."

    And on YouTube, someone who posted the commercial for this toy declared it the Worst Toy Ever Made.

    To all of these misguided folks, I have something to say to you: what the hell have you been smoking?

    Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow ROCKED. I'm almost personally offended that anyone could call this adorable toy creepy and weird.

    And as far as the pretend milk tasting bad--well, duh! It wasn't real milk and you weren't supposed to drink it. At the age of six, when I first got Milky, even I knew that. 

    To give you the lowdown on Milky, this was how the toy worked: you unscrewed the udder and placed a chalky "milk" tablet in it. Then you filled Milky's trough with water. You'd press her head down so that her mouth was in the water, and then you'd pump the tail, which caused Milky to "drink" the water. When she'd had enough--about after a minute or so--her head would pop up and she would let out of a moo! Then you could milk her by squeezing one of her udders that had a tiny hole it in, and fill the accompanying milk pail.

    And yeah, that was it. But creepy? I'm not sure why people would find this toy creepy and gross--I thought it was cool. In fact, I still have Milky! Kids are still drawn to it--when my nieces and nephews were little, they played with Milky and one of my nieces has a four-year son who always wants to see the cow when he visits the house. Sadly, Milky's head no longer stays down and thus she no longer moos, but I will hold onto her for old time's sake. When I find my own place, Milky will probably take up a small kitschy spot of her own in the kitchen.

    You know what's interesting...I found this alternate package art of Milky in which she appears to be more anatomically correct...she is missing her horns (and has a veiny looking udder...OK, that's a little icky compared to the version I have:)


    Image via ImageShack
    Kenner made the coolest toys--in addition to Milky, I also owned an Alvin the Aardvark--he was an aardvack with a long velcro tongue that would "eat" the giant ants that came with the toy.

    Besides, this toy was nowhere near as disturbing as the Play-Doh Doctor Drill N Fill.

    Anyone else own or remember Milky?


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  • 01/03/13--10:38: Wasted Makeovers
  • I could be wrong, but I believe that beauty makeovers started to appear in women's magazines in the 70s. It's a sad conundrum, however, that due to the styles of the times, the woman didn't necessarily look any better after her makeover.

    Case in point: the two ladies below, who were featured in Good Housekeeping Magazine. These appear over at the awesome retro site ClickAmericana--I only wish I had my own scans to show; maybe in the future I'll acquire some magazines to make this a full-fledged wasted makeover post.


    The magazine is saying that Bridget was worried that a shorter do would require constant care. Here's the thing with these Farrah Fawcett-inspired flips by someone who tried unsuccessfully to have one as a teenager: they create MORE work, especially when you have fine hair. You can spend hours trying to whip those side layers into submission with rollers, a curling iron, and enough Aqua-Net to burn a hole in the ozone layer. And I'm sorry to say this, but that cut is really drawing attention to her nose.

    Nancy's new look screams Tootsie to me--all she needs is a pair of large framed glasses. She looks older. You gotta feel sorry for her; she's an actress, but how many roles can she get with this buttoned up look--a schoolmarm? The only thing I like is the hair color.

    Ah, well...better luck next time, ladies.

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    Photo via Wikimedia and Salon.com
    Patti Page, who passed away this week, was responsible for what I consider one of the most depressing songs ever recorded, "Tennessee Waltz." It's sung by a woman whose friend seduces her boyfriend while dancing with him, and the two of them run off together. Today, such a song would include the narrator seeking revenge by blowing the both of them away in bed--but this was 1950, and Patti takes it gracefully on the chin. An interesting and random fact about the song is that it was the biggest selling single in Japan by 1974.

    I've been hearing all week long that Page's singing was special; that you could hear her bring emotion to a song with her voice. Dubbed "the singing rage", she was one of the few "pop" singers at her time to cross over very successfully into the country music genre, and remained with that category throughout her later years. She had her own show on ABC and made a few movie appearances. After her singing career, she and her third husband ran a maple syrup business in New Hampshire. She was 85.

    Today's Two Forgotten Friday Favorites is dedicated to Patti Page. Here is "The Tennessee Waltz", as well as a novelty favorite we all remember as kids, "Doggie in the Window."




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    I had wanted to review The Shout back around Halloween time, but just couldn't manage to squeeze in it. However, despite the fact that it's technically classified as an arthouse horror flick, I really didn't find anything horrific about it--more of a creepy thriller with a focus on the supernatural. 

    It's also thought provoking. Even after viewing it twice, I'm left with so many unresolved questions, and I've come to the conclusion that the filmmakers wanted it that way. Some people are into that sort of thing so if you don't mind the mystery, you'll probably enjoy The Shout. If, like me, you like your movie endings tied up with a pretty little bow, you might find yourself a bit confused. 

    One problem with the plot is the sequencing/sense of time. Things happen and we don't know if we're seeing a flashback or flash forward (or even flash sideways.)

    So here's the gist of The Shout, the best way I can recap it. My one and only motivation for watching this film is John Hurt, my favorite British actor. Looking rather boyish here with a shaggy 70s haircut, he plays Anthony, a sound engineer with a home studio where he experiments with recording various sounds--for use in what, we never know. He is married to Rachel, played by the pretty Susannah York, a nurse at a psychiatric hospital. 

    At the beginning of the film, a man named Graves (played by a young Tim Curry) arrives at a psychiatric hospital to help keep score for a cricket match. In the score booth with him is a man named Crossley, played by Alan Bates. He sees Anthony playing cricket, points him out and announces that he is a man who once had a wife, but lost her, and proceeds to tell the story of how it happened.

    Anthony and Rachel are napping on the beach when they are both awakened by the same unsettling dream of an aboriginal man wearing a long dark coat and carrying what appears to be a carved bone across the dunes.

    Anthony first encounters Crossley outside of the church he attends. Crossley has apparently picked Anthony as a target--he let the air out of his bicycle, and talks his way into being invited for lunch at his home, explaining that he's been traveling in the desert for some time and hasn't had anything to eat in three days.


    As Crossley, Bates cuts an odd, intimidating and brooding figure who has no problem crushing wasps with his thumb. He takes very little food for his plate, despite claiming to be starving, and tells Anthony and Rachel how he lived in the outback for several years and became integrated with aboriginal society. Most unsettling is that he admits to killing the children he fathered in the desert, claiming that it's perfectly legal where he was and that he didn't see the point of them living since he was leaving and they would grow up without a father.

    Crossley is well versed in aboriginal magic, and tells Anthony that he is capable of releasing what he calls "The Shout"--a yell so powerful it will kill anyone and anything within hearing distance. At first, Anthony is bemused and doesn't believe Crossley, but the next morning they walk to the dunes. This was definitely the most suspenseful part of the movie. Anthony plugs up his ears just in time, but his skinny body is knocked over by the force of The Shout and he tumbles down a dune. Nearby sheep and their herder kiel over as well. 



    After Anthony comes to and they return to his home, he discovers that he has a bigger problem on his hands. Crossley is seducing Rachel...and is quite intent on never leaving their home. 

    All of this would make us sympathetic towards Anthony if it weren't for one thing: he's apparently having an affair of his own with the village cobbler's wife, who makes googly eyes at him. They sneak off together after mass one day. We don't actually see them do anything salacious--but it's assumed that Anthony is straying outside of the marriage. This makes for an interesting dynamic since Crossley is out to displace Anthony. The question now is if Anthony can break Crossley's curse. 

    The photography and shooting locations in this film are spectacular. It was filmed in North Devon in southwestern England--think quintessential Great Britain with rolling hills, lush greenery and coastline. The beach has been a favorite shooting location in other movies--including Pink Floyd--The Wall.

    The film was directed by Jerzy Skolimowski, and features an ominous soundtrack by Tony Banks and Michael Rutherford of Genesis. 

    Perhaps the unconventional shooting style is best explained by producer Jeremy Thomas:

    "Skolimowski had a sense of shooting style then, this was the second director who I had worked closely with, and it was fascinating watching Skolimowski work. He came from a Polish tradition, the Wajda Film School, he had a different background to other directors I had been working with in the cutting rooms or elsewhere. And it made the film much more creative to me. I saw it more as an artistic endeavour by him. The film went to Cannes and won the Grand Prix de Jury. We were incredibly lucky and the film was appreciated by the jury. It was a very small festival then, nothing like the Cannes Film Festival of today, it was a small event in a cinema of 800 people or so."

    The below trailer to The Shout promised me a "soul shattering experience"...I think it missed the mark a bit, but was interesting and entertaining just the same. You can view the movie in two parts on YouTube. 


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    Admittedly, there's nothing very original about this post--foreign album cover art has been featured and poked fun at on several retro themed blogs. And the selection I gleamed comes from a new Facebook page called Swedish Dansbands, which has collected several more hideous spectacles; more than I care to put on display in one post. But this is the Internet, where you share and share alike. These covers are proof that you don't have to be good looking to cut a record, but I guess we already knew that. If there's one good thing I have to say about these bands, it's that there's color everywhere! Can't say 70s and 80s Swedish musicians' threads were drab and dull. As for the music? I have no idea--I would guess that at least some of them were/are listenable, but can anyone make it past the cover art?


    Sometimes the days before Photoshop and airbrushing were not always a good thing. Could they not afford at least a makeup artist?


    A zipper and chest hair makes for a hazardous combination. Why do I have a burning desire to step into that photo and give him a good zzzzzzip? 


    You go, girl--show off that leg!


    These guys looked like they watched a lot of Mork and Mindy back in the day.



    These dudes, on the other hand, were clearly into Miami Vice



    This is what happens when you can't decide on coordinating outfits for your cover photo shoot.


    And on his farm he had a Swede, e-i-e-i-oh!



    I actually have heard of the Schytts (or, I guess they're just called Schytts.) It's a shame that the only band here that features a reasonably attractive lead singer has the same name as what you get when you eat something bad.

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  • 01/12/13--12:45: The Anti-McMansion

  • I've never been a fan of "McMansion" houses. They have spread across this country like a plague and have taken away from the unique architectural style of certain regional areas. For example, where I live in New England, we've always been known for capes, ranches, split levels and the colonial style of older homes. McMansions have no business being here. And yet, every time I see a parcel of land become available around here and a new home going up, it's always a McMansion. Always. No offense to anyone who lives in one, but I fail to comprehend their appeal--they're unnecessarily huge, expensive, lack any uniqueness and stick out like sore thumbs. And yet this behemoth has been nothing but successful since it first sprouted up in the 80s. 

    Now that my rant is done, I'd like to turn your attention to the humble mid-century modern home. Ahhhh...aren't these great to look at? National Homes was at one time one of the country's largest providers of pre-fab homes. It was founded in 1940 and by 1963, had built 250,000 homes across the U.S. I think these houses are beeeeeooootiful. What I wouldn't give to find a little ranch with a carport and white fence for the right price in my area like the one in the ad above. And the designs were customizable and affordable. If only they'd make a comeback...



    Not a National Homes ad, but just had to throw these in here, too. 




    All advertisements came from MidCentArc on Flickr

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    All images via MewDeep on Flickr
    I think most folks know that Tonight Show host Johnny Carson had a successful clothing line at one point, but did you know he had a restaurant chain as well, called Here's Johnny's? What about a Laugh-In restaurant based on the popular NBC comedy show? Well, you bet your sweet bippy these existed--albeit for only a couple of years. 

    By the late 60s, Johnny Carson was one of the biggest names on television, and The Tonight Show was being seen by 8 million Americans every weeknight. So I guess that somewhat makes sense that Carson teamed up with the Swanson family of the frozen food line to launch a restaurant franchise called Here's Johnny's! Carson served as Chairman of the Board for the company overseeing the chain, Johnny's American Inn, Inc. The restaurant offered 12 varieties of burgers, including one called "The Great Carnac" ("How big is it?" asked the menu) and a honey-fried chicken dinner called "Bird of Paradise." It was supposed to be an innovative chain that would deliver orders in half the time of the average fast food restaurant. 

    According to the above advertisement that appeared in Esquire, more than 300 restaurant franchises were purchased...but I'm guessing that far less than that actually opened. The best information I could find was that by 1970 there were 8 restaurants operating, mostly in the Omaha, Nebraska area. 

    A clue to why the chain closed may be in a court record I found online from 1974. An advertising agency sued Johnny's American Inn, Inc. for failure to pay over $78,000 in advertising fees. Who knows if they ever recovered the money. 
    Too bad no commercials or ads for the restaurants themselves currently exist online. 

    The Laugh-In restaurant chain sounds like it may have enjoyed slightly more success--someone even purchased a napkin and bag from eBay! I think it's interesting that the cash requirement for a Laugh-In franchise was more expensive than Carson's--one of these babies would set you back $45,000, while the Carson chain required around $28,000. The big question here is if these had a whacky theme (I'm imagining a customer saying, "Sock it to me!" when placing an order.) In keeping with the show's catchphrases, there was a "Bippy Burger" on the menu, "Fickle Finger of Fate" fries as well as an ice cream sundae called "Here Comes the Fudge." A commenter on another blog says they made the best onion rings of any fast food chain, and locations were primarily in Michigan and Florida. Like Here's Johnny's, they pretty much closed by the early 70s (right around the time the show itself went off the air) and barely made a blip on the pop culture history books. 

    The Laugh-In restaurants were owned by Chivers, the same company that launched Lum's, which was a more successful fast food chain. 

    Any of my readers ever eat at or remember Here's Johnny's or the Laugh-In restaurants?

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  • 01/27/13--11:49: Getting Wiggy With It

  • I never believed my mother and sisters telling me that wearing wigs just because you could was a common trend during the 60s and 70s until I saw the vintage ads to prove it. I still have a hard time fathoming why wigs were in vogue during those decades--ironically, many of them seem to be for shorter styles at a time when long hair was in fashion. I would imagine they'd get itchy, uncomfortable, and hot during the summer months. If you didn't have a medical condition, why would you want one? It seems more deceitful than wearing a push-up bra or makeup. 

    Yet, there were wigs...even on catalog and fashion models...and some ads used sexual appeal to sell them, too. Yes, I know today hairpieces are still popular...but I don't remember the last time I saw a wig advertisement in a woman's magazine. Anyways, here's a splattering of wig ads from back in the day:



    A playground for men's hands...now that's some copywriting genius. But what happens if playtime gets a little rough, and that playground comes right off? How embarrassing. 



    This wig seems to be for international women of mystery...the copy is difficult to read, but I can make out where it says, "Lets you create your mood...instantly! Anything from a shy young miss to that enchanting woman of the world!" Or in this case, wonton sex kitten. 



    I don't even know what we're supposed to be looking at here...but it's far from "practically perfect." This has got to be the worst looking mullet I've ever seen.



    Yeeeeeeeeek!!!! You mean some women actually PAID MONEY to obtain this look?



    I've never heard of Sego, but it was a diet drink, and, well, diet drinks make us think of wigs. Or something. Again, this is playing off the taking on a new persona angle. Number five must be the Stern Librarian disguise. She looks like she's going to shove that pencil where the sun doesn't shine if you don't stop talking in the library. 



    From a Sears catalog. Mustn't forget your wig before a workout. 



    I love how the last model is giving the rest of them with their blonde afros the side-eye like they're all shades of crazy. 

    All ads came from Flickr. Boo to the people who had some great ads but disabled downloading of them--what's the point of uploading them in the first place if you won't share? That's another post for another time...

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    Photo via Oblige me tumblr
    Last weekend I saw Django Unchained in the movie theater; a few weeks ago I watched Inglorious Basterds on cable. Now I'm in love and it's all Christoph Waltz's fault. For too long the Germans were keeping this sexy, talented, Austrian man all to themselves (and who can blame them?) until Quentin Tarantino pulled him out of obscurity and introduced him to American audiences. He won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Inglorious Basterds and may very well take home another for Django. With the Academy Awards taking place later this month, and the recent announcement that he'll be hosting Saturday Night Live on February 16, I can't think of a better time to declare Christoph as Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month. 

    By now you're probably wondering, "Wait a minute…is Christoph retro?" Oh yes, very much so. Christoph is, amazingly, 56 years old…which means there's oodles of "before he was famous" clips of him out there on the Internet. (Although I think he's way more handsome today.) 


    Also, this may help explain Christoph's retro-ness. This is howthe founder of the site ChristophWaltzFans describes his appeal:

    "The man has "Old School" charm. He is suave, sophisticated, and a gentleman. He is VERY appreciative of his "new found' fame. He epitomizes the Classic Hollywood Gentleman that is missing in a lot of today's actors (he has been known to give women his jacket when it is cold outside)."

    That sounds about right to me. Are you ready to dip into some Teutonic hotness from decades past?

    One of Christoph's earlier roles was that of the German singer Roy Black in a TV biopic called Die Roy Black Story. Roy Black was a very popular German singer in the 70s and 80s who started out trying to be a rock star, but gained notoriety when he switched over to love songs.

    The black wig doesn't do anything for Christoph, but he really did sing in the movie, and I uncovered some priceless moments. For example, here's Christoph--as Roy--doing his best John Travolta impersonation and showing off some serious dance moves while driving the frauleins wild:




    I have no idea what show this clip is from, but apparently it's from some German children's show, and Christoph appears to be a teen in it, and--oh, my! That knitted unitard! It leaves nothing (and everything--ha ha!) to the imagination. 



    Now this clip was so hot and sensuous my laptop started to bend. It's from a 1982 German movie or miniseries called Fire and Sword. Christoph appears in all his naked glory. I have no idea who the peeping Jane is who comes into the love nest--but the couple is oblivious...and honestly, I think I would be, too, if I had Christoph making love to me. 



    Christoph also appeared on a German series called Kommissar Rex. The episode was called Der Puppenmorder ("the doll murderer") and features Christoph as a creepy doll shop owner who entices female customers to dress up as life size dolls so he can photograph them. If they don't oblige, he strangles them. Hmmm...sounds like training for his Hans Landa character years later...and yet, the idea of dressing like a doll for Christoph and taking orders from him seems pretty enticing to me. Here's part 1 of the episode--I highly recommend watching the opening credits; they're delightfully cheesy and that dog clearly steals the show!



    Also, remember that video clip of the Russian singer who became known as the "Trololololo" guy after a strange performance of him singing on 1970s Russian television circulated around the web a couple of years ago? Christoph put his own hilarious spin on it called Der Humpink. I think he's going to be a natural at hosting SNL. Is there nothing this man can't do?






    Pretty smoking back in the day...but even hotter today in my honest opinion. Better with age!
    Photo via waterforelephantsfilm.com
    Something tells me we'll be seeing a lot more of Christoph on American movie screens. 

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