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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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    I'm just going to say it -- the inspiration for this post is that for my entire life up until now, for some reason, I've attracted unavailable men. The last one was married (I did not meet up with him in person, but still, it was a doozy of an experience for me.) But, after doing much soul searching since the whole thing happened, I discovered what was wrong with my mindset that attracted it in the first place, and have since changed it. No more...and if by some chance it does happen again I know better now to nip it in the bud immediately.

    But...people are human, and that includes songwriters and musicians. Sometimes people just can't help themselves; the attraction of another person outside of a marriage or relationship is so strong, as is the unavailable party. Sometimes it's single men that get involved with a taken woman. If you're looking for a serious relationship, I would personally advise against letting it happen because it almost always ends in a broken heart, especially for the person that was unattached and entered into it. Don't put yourself into a position of being used, because you deserve way better than that. But if you do and it implodes (as it will), you need to learn to forgive yourself and the other person. (Oh, and it goes without saying...if you're married or have a significant other, PLEASE don't try to drag another person into YOUR mess because you're unhappy with your relationship. Work on your marriage or get a divorce!)

    Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I guess this is a long, roundabout way of introducing several retro songs that have been written about infidelity and cheating. I suppose some of these make such scenarios seem glamorous, but when Billy Paul was singing about "Me and Mrs. Jones" I bet he wasn't taking into account what may have become of him had Mr. Jones found out about the affair; now that would have made for an enticing "answer" song! Anyways, here's ten songs about cheaters.

    "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams (1953)



    Inspired by Williams' rocky marriage at the time to Audrey Sheppard and subsequent divorce, it became a country standard, especially as Williams died shortly after recording it.

    Most shameful lyric: "Your cheatin' heart // Will pine some day // And crave the love // You threw away."

    "Lipstick On Your Collar" by Connie Francis (1959)



    One of the more upbeat songs in this list about cheating, despite the double blow delivered to the singer; not only was she cheated on, but her boyfriend cheated on her with her best friend. (Kick that "friend" to the curb, Connie.) George Barnes performed the guitar solo on this track, which impressed a young Eric Clapton at the time.

    Most shameful lyric: "Who walked in but Mary Jane // Lipstick all a mess // Were you kissing my best friend? // Guess the answer's yes."

    "Backstreet Girl" by the Rolling Stones (1967)



    This underrated gem by the Stones (featuring vibraphone by Brian Jones) used to make me a bit peeved -- until I realized that it could serve as a warning not to get mixed up with a married man. The harsh reality is that when you lover is married, you can't have a real relationship with them; you can't be seen in public and you don't really get much of his time. And that's exactly what Jagger is singing about in this song; "Don't want you part of my world. Just you be my backstreet girl." Uh...no thanks.

    By the way, Bobby Darin recorded a version of this song (he was a Stones fan) which was actually the first time I heard it.

    Most shameful lyric: "Please don't be part of my life // Please keep yourself to yourself // Please don't you bother my wife // That way you won't get no hell."

    "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" by Luther Ingram (1972)



    My, Luther Ingram's got a lot on his plate...a mistress that he needs in addition to a wife and two kids at home. What's interesting is how many times this song has been covered by other artists, including women, with lyrics changed to reflect the point of view of the other woman in the song. And although I haven't listened to it yet, Millie Jackson recorded an 11-minute long version of the song that includes a middle monologue portion where she defends her position as the mistress.

    Most shameful lyric: "Am I wrong to fall so deeply in love with you // Knowing I got a wife and two little children depending on me, too?"

    "Me and Mrs. Jones" by Billy Paul (1972)



    What can I say? This song made cheating sound sexy. This was the only hit for Billy Paul, but it ended up becoming a classic and covered numerous times.

    Most shameful lyrics: "And now she'll go her way, I'll go mine // But tomorrow we'll meet at the same place, the same time."

    "Dirty Work" by Steely Dan (1972)



    Man, was there something about 1972 (the year I was born, by the way) that inspired so many songs about cheating?

    Most shameful lyric: "Like the castle in its corner in a medieval game // I foresee terrible trouble, and I stay here just the same."

    "No Tell Lover" by Chicago (1978)



    I've been on a Chicago kick lately and it always amuses me when many fans complain that the band became too ballad-laden in the 80s when Peter Cetera was mostly the frontman. The truth is, while Chicago's sound has changed drastically through the decades, the group had released a lot of ballads that charted during the 1970s, when Terry Kath was still alive (PHENOMENAL forgotten guitar player, by the way...watch for a post coming soon here about Kath and the documentary of his life his daughter is putting together.) "No Tell Lover" is an underrated one sung by...who else...Cetera from the excellent Hot Streets album (which, OK, was the band's first album after Kath's death but it's still a good one.)

    Most shameful lyric: "Walk away if you see me coming // even though it's you I'm loving."

    "I Know There's Something Going On" by Frida (1982)



    While watching the music video, all I could think of was anyone who would cheat on the lovely Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA must have rocks in their head. Phil Collins produced and played the drums on this hit single as well as the entire solo album it came from, Something's Going On.

    "Careless Whisper" by Wham! (1984)



    Although sad, "Careless Whisper" is one of the '80s' most beautiful and haunting ballads, especially with that piercing saxophone rift which is reminiscent of someone crying. It's funny now to think back on how many couples at my junior high danced to this one on Friday night dances, apparently thinking it was a romantic love song.

    Most shameful lyric: "To the heart and mind // Ignorance is kind // There's no comfort in the truth // Pain is all you'll find."

    "My Heart Can't Tell You No" by Rod Stewart (1988)



    OK, this isn't really about cheating, but it is about a love triangle, and not long ago I could so relate to the lyrics.

    Most shameful lyric: "There's only one solution I know // You gotta stay away from me."

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    Today's average music fan probably wouldn't recognize the name Terry Kath. Nor would some classic rock fans, unless you are a diehard fan of the group Chicago and know that he was one of the group's founding members. I admit that until recently, I didn't know much about Kath myself and I consider myself a Chicago fan. Growing up in the '80s, it was Peter Cetera that I always thought -- for the longest time, and if somewhat erroneously -- to be the face and voice of the band, particularly due to the music video era. I was disappointed when he left his bandmates in the mid-80s to pursue a solo career and was replaced by Jason Scheff. Since that shake up, the band has never sounded the same again (although recently I listened to Chicago's latest album -- released in 2014 -- called Chicago XXXVI: Now, and thought it sounded better than the monotonous pap played on modern "pop" radio stations today.)

    Next month Chicago will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cetera won't be there; he changed his mind about reuniting with the band for the ceremony when some of the guys told him to "take a chill pill, dude!" after he made some song suggestions (or maybe he's just a control freak, but either way there's still some bad blood between him and his bandmates.) But even more tragically, guitarist Terry Kath won't be there, either, because he died in 1978 from an accidental gunshot wound.


    For the first decade of Chicago's existence, Kath was not only the heart and soul of Chicago (formerly The Chicago Transit Authority when it debuted on the music scene in 1969, until the real Chicago Transit Authority threatened to sue over the name's copyright) but the band's voice and face. His deep, soulful vocals, especially on hits such as "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World" were what earned him the moniker "the white Ray Charles." But Kath's talent ran deeper than that; his guitar playing skills put Eric Clapton to shame, and Jimi Hendrix even admired them. A famous story is that after Hendrix watched Chicago perform at the Whiskey A Go Go, he told the group's saxophonist, Walter Parazaider, "I think your guitarist is better than me." At the end of this post, just watch Kath's blistering guitar solo on "25 or 6 to 4" from a 1970s Tanglewood show. It would be easy to dismiss his lightning speed finger work and say that it's all improvised, but I don't think it is -- there's clearly a method to his madness, or it wouldn't sound so good. Music writer Corbin Reiff once referred to Kath as "one of the most criminally underrated guitarists to have ever set finger to fretboard."

    He was also musically experimental. Mostly self-taught, Kath once got frustrated with a guitar instructor because he just wanted to begin pounding out rock and roll chords. He mastered using a wah-wah pedal and enjoyed experimenting with amplifiers and distortion devices. Robert Lamm, Chicago's keyboardist, recalls Kath trying to invent an auto-picking device that would play a guitar. Kath, along with Chicago's manager, helped finance the Pignose amplifier company, with Kath becoming the company's main endorser. His trademark guitar eventually became the Fender Telecaster, decorated with several Pignose stickers and the Chicago Blackhawks logo.


    Kath never shows up on any lists of the greatest guitar players of all time. Sadly, much of that may be due to the fact that he died so young, and so tragically. Kath had developed a strange fascination with guns during the 1970s and had taken to carrying them around and even playing with them, a habit that started to frighten the other band members. He even got into a fight with Beach Boy Carl Wilson during a party after Wilson knocked a gun from Kath's hand while he was playing Russian Roulette (whether the gun was actually empty or not I wasn't able to confirm.) On January 23, 1978, Kath was partying at the house of a roadie friend, Don Johnson (not the actor) and after the guests had left, pulled out a semiautomatic 9 mm pistol and began playing with it, telling Johnson that it was empty. However, there was still a round in the magazine chamber. He put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger, dying instantly. Supposedly his last words were, "What do you think I'm going to do? Blow my brains out?" He was just a week away from his 32rd birthday.

    The real cause of his death, however, was most likely drugs. "Drugs and guns are a bad combination", the band's drummer, Danny Seraphine, later said. It's hard to believe given Chicago's romantic, ballad-clad image of the 1980s, but during the '70s decade they were the epitome of the phrase, "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" -- and no one was putting away more cocaine than Kath. He was also becoming increasingly unhappy and depressed, despite being married with a young daughter by the time of his death. The other band members were becoming increasingly concerned about Kath's drinking and drug use. It seems Kath had two sides to him; his bandmates have described him as a big, burly, lovable and kind teddy bear of a man who would do anything for them, but who was also clearly dealing with some demons. Kath may have also been disappointed with the direction the band was headed towards with Cetera's soft ballads. He wrote at least one song and performed at least one lead vocal on every Chicago album released while he was alive.

    Because Kath's legacy in the music world seems to be fading with every passing year, his daughter, Michelle Kath Sinclair, has been directing and producing a documentary about the father she was barely old enough to remember. The Terry Kath Experience: A Daughter's Journey is set to be released some time this year, after the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. For the documentary, Sinclair interviewed all of the original members of Chicago (except for Cetera; whether he turned her down or she chose to exclude him is a mystery.)

    Says Michelle on the official website for the documentary, "The idea to make a film about my father came to me many years ago when, in looking through old photos of him, I realized that I didn't know his full story. I've since learned that his is the quintessential story of an all-American boy raised in the midwest, who, at a young age, picks up a guitar, falls in love with it, and goes on to become a famous 70's rock star. With all the highs and lows that come along with success, my father's life ended suddenly before my 3rd birthday.

    My journey of discovery began with the first interview. I could only have dreamed that making this film would bring me this much closer to my father and would help me better understand the man he was and the decisions he made. Meeting these people and hearing their stories are memories that will stay with me forever. I am forever grateful to all that have helped me to take this journey and to discover this man."

    I'm looking forward to seeing this documentary and learning even more about Kath, but in the meantime here's some live performances showcasing his amazing guitar skills, as well as a clip about the upcoming documentary.








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    Has feminism gone too far? I've seen some weird things online lately the past few weeks. First there was an article out of the UK that said men in the workplace were scared of assisting a female coworker for fear that they could be accused of sexual harassment. Another strange article spoke of "birth rape", or when a woman having a baby feels that she's been violated somehow because the doctors and nurses touched her "down there" with their hands or tools during delivery.

    But the most out-there statement was one I saw today, while reading an article about a guy that was fed up with women choosing "scum" guys over the nice ones. He taped up copies of a typed note to women in general all over his town, lamenting that no one wanted him to carry groceries for them.

    While I admit that his note was probably a little creepy and perhaps not the right way for him to channel his energy, it was one woman's comment on the article itself that I really took offense with. She commented with, "Things that rapists do: hold doors open for women."

    SCREECH! (That was a record player's needle falling off the vinyl, in case you couldn't figure it out.) Let's wait just a cotton picking moment here...

    It's a pretty sad state that society is in when women complain that guys are holding doors open for them. They find it sexist and want to be taken as an independent female. Yet, these are the same women that will complain that there are no good men yet, and that chivalry is dead.

    All of which is BS, of course.

    If enough women complain about something so stupid, what do you think is going to happen? Men will start saying f--- it, and NO ONE will be holding doors open for us. Way to go, feminism!

    Honestly, too many women today need to chill out. One of the best pieces of dating advice that I read years ago was about how women today are too strong and independent when it comes to looking for love and while they're in the actual relationship. The guy who wrote it said it's perfectly OK to be a woman in charge at work, and commandeering the conference room. But at the end of the day, a woman still needs to be a woman while a man still needs to be a man. Too many women forget this, and refuse to let their hair down. ("Let him open the pickle jar for you," the article advised.)

    I agree. Why is it so important? Because no matter how advanced the human species gets, at the end of the day our DNA is basically the same as our ancestors that walked the earth thousands of years ago. A man still likes to protect his homestead and lady, and he doesn't mind being the strong one and helping a woman out by killing a spider or disposing of a mousetrap. It's going to affirm his manhood.

    This doesn't mean that women shouldn't check their tires and oil in the car, or do handy work around the house. I'm also not saying that you should be a stay-at-home housewife and wear a dress while you cook dinner for your husband. Not at all. But men and women still have roles to play because that's what makes us celebrate our differences.

    I've lived at home my entire life and after my father passed away, my mother and I took to learning how to repair things here and there around the house. A few summers ago we replaced the screen mesh in the porch, which was no quick task. We had to free each section of framing by unscrewing the wooden panels around each one, remove the old screen mesh, and measure, cut, and insert the new one by then pushing it into place with a little tool that looked like a mini pizza cutter.

    It was actually pretty exhausting work during the summer...and as proud as I am to say I know how to do certain things around the house, it would have been much easier to deal with if I had a boyfriend at the time that could have helped with this project.

    Not once have I ever taken offense at anyone that held a door open for me, and most importantly, I always thank the person, another practice that seems to have fallen by the wayside today. I don't care if the guy is 8 years old or 80; I always appreciate it.

    So don't assume that just because a guy wants to hold a door open for you that he intends to rape you! Chances are he's such being polite. He's just being chivalrous. You should be grateful that his parents or someone close to him obviously raised him right.

    We already live in a pretty messed up, overly politically correct, narcissistic society. Let's not make this any more complicated than it should be.

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    Before I get into this blog post, I just want to apologize to anyone that is experiencing the pop-up ads on this site that push the content out of the way until you close it. I've asked the ad network I work with if they wouldn't mind removing them, because they're a little more intrusive then I expected them to be.

    Now that that's out of the way...I'd like to thank Go Retro reader Mark for making me aware of these swell Chesterfield ads some time ago. The original article they were featured in talked a lot about James Bond. In the Ian Fleming novels (as well as the earlier films) Chesterfields were Bond's smoke of choice when he couldn't get to a shop in London called Morland that made custom cigarettes for him. I actually don't think any of these ads have much to do with James Bond except for the fact they feature ladies that could easily be Bond women, but I find them amusing.

    For starters, they all pretty much read like dating profiles. One even states that if you mail in 2,120 empty Chesterfield King cigarette packs, you may just score a date with the model (just in case you're wondering, the cigarette company wasn't serious about it.) But what's great is that each woman's measurements are listed. And everyone here has a waist that is either 21" or 22" around. So laughable. I'm a size 6 and my waist is 29".

    Anyways, all of these ads were created sometime in the early '1960s, when the Bond film series was just heating up. By today's standards they'd be called sexist. And as you can see by the end of this post, Sean Connery himself was a Chesterfield model in 1964. Smoking and cycling -- always a great match!

    And oh hey, did I mention that three of these ads feature a sultry woman named Pamela?


    How can this Pamela get some of what that Pamela is getting? I guess I have to take up smoking...






    I think it's pretty obvious that she doesn't have a 38" bust...and a waist that tiny is dubious, too. Shame on you with the false advertising, Chesterfield.




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    I really didn't want to write a "get off my lawn" title for this blog post. I really wanted to call it, "Why I'll Always Be Old School When It Comes to Music" or something equally as gentle. However, for SEO purposes, most people are going to be asking Google, "Why does today's music suck so much?"

    (By the way, the two clowns in the photo on the right above call themselves Twenty One Pilots. I'm not even going to get into why they suck so much, but if you can stand the auditory torture, look up the video to a song of theirs called "Car Radio" and you'll hear--and see why.)

    Let's face it: a lot of music being heard on the radio waves today does suck, particularly pop music. I know because I was forced to listen to it in work a few weeks ago. My work station is currently the front reception desk until our expanded office space is ready to use (we don't actually have a receptionist, but it was one of the few available places for me.) In the front reception area is a speaker. I have no idea who turned it on one afternoon, but all of a sudden it started playing one pop song after another. Since most people work in their own areas and offices I was really the only one that was going to get any benefit from it. "OK," I said to myself. "I can deal with this. I haven't listened to any of those pop stations in an awfully long time. I'll be open minded. Let's see what the young 'uns are digging these days."

    Within an hour I wanted to shove bananas in my ears. After two hours I wanted to scream.

    Then I realized the speaker had a volume control. So I went over to it and turned the volume down. The following day, I brought in my earbuds and I stopped being lazy about downloading Spotify to my office MacBook.

    I tried, guys. I really did, but to no avail.

    Why did the music grate on my nerves so much? Because every single song. Sounded. The. Same. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat.

    Everyone sounded auto tuned. Every song had practically the same inane lyrics. Every song sounded like it had all been produced electronically. I couldn't make out a single guitar or horned instrument with the exception of "Uptown Funk" (admittedly, a modern song I DO like, because of its horns and retro sound.)

    Today's music is truly soulless. There's no more individuality, no more creativity. It all sounds like it was produced by the same record company (there is some truth to this, which I'll get to in a minute.)

    One of the reasons I do love the music of the '60s, '70s, and '80s so much is because every singer and band had their own unique sound. You hear a song, and you can immediately identify who was playing it.

    Not so in the year 2016. I invite you to watch at least part of the following video by Infowars journalist Paul Joseph Watson. Watson is a controversial figure; Infowars is known for being a conspiracy theory website, but this commentary is not about politics or world affairs. It's about the downfall of music as we know it and as spot-on as it is, I must warn that it may depress you. My favorite part? When Watson states that, "Now any stupid f***ing bimbo or braindead twat can be dragged off a reality show, dropped into a recording studio, and have their shrill, warbling voice auto tuned for mass consumption." And that's just the least of it. Watson believes we're being brainwashed. He may be onto something.



    And by the way, I totally agree with him about Coldplay, too. I hate their music and think they're vastly overrated.

    I don't understand how any self-respecting DJ can play any of this pap.

    And Watson is right about the "verbal diarrhea" trend. Have you heard the song "Work" by Rihanna and Drake? (I can't believe right now I'm mentioning people named Rihanna and Drake on Go Retro.) I won't torture you with the music video of the song, but here's some of the lyrics so you can see how asinine the "writing" behind this gem was:

    Work, work, work, work, work, work
    
He said me haffi

    Work, work, work, work, work, work!

    He see me do mi

    Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt!
    
So me put in

    Work, work, work, work, work, work

    When you ah guh

    Learn, learn, learn, learn, learn
    
Meh nuh cyar if him
    
Hurt, hurt, hurt, hurt, hurting

    Yeah. Apparently "haffi" is a Jamaican term, but I'm not going to bother trying to decipher the "meh nuh cyar" gibberish. And those repetitive lyrics! You can trust me when I say the song is just as bad as the words.

    Sadly, it's all about the almighty dollar and how much crap the record companies can shove in our ears. In 2002, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers released an awesome album called The Last DJ which takes aim at the money-grubbing music industry. A lot of critics at the time thought that Petty was being a cranky crybaby with this release, but there's a lot of truth in tracks such as "Money Becomes King" and "Joe" ("Bring me a girl // They're always the best // You put them on stage // And you make her undress // Some angel whore that can learn a guitar lick // Hey! Now that's what I call music")

    I want to clarify that there IS still intelligent music being written and produced that features artists playing their own instruments, but you have to hunt around for it. In my area, there's an independent radio station that features new artists but will also play some of the old classics, too (the Spectrum station on Sirius is pretty similar.) In the past few years thanks to my local independent station I've been introduced to Muse, Fitz and The Tantrums, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, David Gray, and J.D. McPherson. But I can't consider myself a true fan of any of them; it's more like I'm familiar with a few of their songs and I like them enough to not change the channel, but none of them have meaning to me like Chicago, Steely Dan, and Electric Light Orchestra.

    In the past few weeks I've been asked by a couple of coworkers if I miss hearing the music and want it turned back on. I think you can guess that I've politely declined, explaining that I can't take today's pop music and prefer to listen to my old school playlists on Spotify. It kind of surprises me, though, how many people have said that they don't mind listening to it.

    Well, I could go on and on here. But frankly, I think my energy would be better invested by this point by listening to real music by people with real talent, that can play instruments.

    Do you agree? And if there's any recommendations you can make for good modern music, let me know in the comments!

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    I'm trying something a little different before we get back to the retro-related posts, and I hope my readers will hear me out and read this. When it comes to charitable causes and helping organizations out, I don't often do as much as I could. It's been a few years since I've volunteered my time anywhere, and during the time I was out of work I didn't donate any money to a cause. But now that I am working again, I was inspired by an idea last night and thought I might have a little fun with it. What if I donated a month of my advertising revenue to a charity I care about, and better yet, what if I let my readers choose the charity?

    Here's how this will work -- below is a poll of five Boston area charities that are near and dear to my heart. I will leave the poll up for the rest of April, and will announce the winner at the start of May. Then, any advertising revenue I make during the month of May will be donated to the charity with the most votes. There's a few things readers can do to help drive up that advertising revenue, but I'll mention them in May! (And no, I'm not going to ask you to click on ads, which goes against the advertising network rules anyway.)

    Here are the five charities to choose from...granted, none of them have a retro-related theme (although the first one shares theirs with a Simon & Garfunkel song) but they all do really awesome work.

    Bridge Over Troubled Water -- one of the few shelters in the Boston area for homeless teens and young adults. They provide food, water, clothing, shelter, showers, and medical and dental care for homeless teens and youth between the ages of 14 and 24, and provide services to help them develop their lives and get off the streets. A good portion of America's 1.4 million homeless are teens and young adults and when you think about it, sharing a shelter with adults can be a scary concept. Bridge Over Troubled Water has a wish list on Amazon.com, so depending on how much money my advertising raises, I can purchase items such as a backpack, sneakers, and clothing directly on the site.

    Dress For Success -- they help disadvantaged women look and feel their best in job interviews by giving them suits and work attire as well as classes to help them develop work skills and get a job.

    Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter -- a no kill, no cage cat shelter that not only takes in homeless cats, but provides them veterinary care, food, comfort, and human companionship until they can be placed in their forever homes. It was started by a woman in the early 1900s that rescued all kinds of animals. A few years ago I attended their annual fundraiser/auction and they do wonderful work, and will keep a cat for as long as it takes until they are adoptable and find the right loving home.

    The Greater Boston Food Bank -- I've done the Walk for Hunger, a 20 mile walk through the city to raise awareness of hunger and funds, three times and all of the money raised goes to The Greater Boston Food Bank, which provides food for families all across Massachusetts that need it. I can't make the date this year, but if this charity is chosen you'll be helping to prevent hunger in the state of Massachusetts.

    Colleen Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund -- even if you're not from Massachusetts, you may have heard of Colleen Ritzer; she was the Danvers, Mass. high school teacher that was brutally raped and murdered by one of her own students. She also lived literally a few houses down from mine. The Colleen Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund is awarded annually to one high school student planning on pursuing a teaching career.

    Which one should I give to? Which one would you give to, if you could, and lived in the Boston area? Please cast your vote below before May 1st! (You can only cast your vote once.) Thanks so much -- I can't wait to see who I'll be donating to!


    Please vote for a charity!

    Bridge Over Troubled Water - Shelter For Homeless Teens
    Dress For Success
    Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter
    The Greater Boston Food Bank
    Colleen Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund
    Poll Maker

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    "How do you stay so skinny?"

    It's a question I hear often. The last person to ask it was an older gentleman that's a business associate of my boss. He was in the office this week to drop something off, and I was in the middle of eating leftover Bertucci's pizza for lunch. So, actually, his full question was, "How do you stay so skinny eating that pizza?"

    Had our conversation been taking place 30-40 years ago, I'm sure his question never would have crossed his mind. That's because -- as if it weren't obvious to everyone by now -- slender people were the norm, and you didn't see many overweight people. Today, sadly, the opposite is rapidly becoming true. A study that was published last week says that for the first time, overweight people now outnumber underweight people worldwide. And it predicts that by the year 2025, nearly 18% of men and 21% of women on earth will be obese.

    It seems every day is one day closer to that depressing future world predicted in WALL-E, where humans are immobile blobs of fat that suck subsistence from giant cups of sugary garbage all day long while being transported around in their personal mobile units, glued to a screen in front of their faces.

    Where did we go wrong?

    The answers would fill several blog posts. I could go on and on shunning our terrible eating habits that have developed through the decades, particularly here in the U.S. where more than two-thirds (!) of adults are overweight or obese. I was shocked to recently learn that Massachusetts, where I live, is a state that has supposedly the fourth lowest obesity rate in the nation. The kicker? Massachusetts' obesity rate is now 23.3% (almost a quarter of the population) which is up from 15.3% in 2000.

    Those contradicting facts make me sad, indeed.

    I don't want to turn this post into a fat-shaming one, but let me say this: I'm proud of my body and what it looks like. I couldn't imagine trying to navigate through my day carrying an extra 20, 50, 100 pounds or more. Some may consider me lucky, and I am to an extent. I'm not on any medication that could cause me to gain weight, and I don't have any medical conditions. I also pretty much inherited my father's genes, as he was tall and thin. However, those facts still don't give me a free pass to mow down on those Ritz cracker sandwiches stuffed with artificial cheese (my downfall, which happen to be stocked and free for the taking in our office kitchen) and Chinese food on a daily basis. So I'm going to try to answer this man's question as to how I do stay skinny.

    The simplest answer is I enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. Really, that's about it. I make it a priority, too. But now I'll go into a bit more detail into my lifestyle choices...and I admit, I don't know how "retro" this post really is. Some of these tips may be ones people from past generations followed, and some may not be. If I wanted to be funny, I could say the true retro guide to staying thin is to drink TAB and smoke cigarettes...two things that are not healthy for us, but did work for a lot of people in the 1970s. However, I'm more inclined to think  that my lifestyle would get two thumbs up by Jean Nidetch, the founder of Weight Watchers, as it's really just based around common sense.

    So here goes...a list of things that I do that keep me slim, that may or may not be retro.



    1. I Limit Sugar In My Diet
    There was a time when sugar was thought to be good for you -- as you can see from the ads above, that advocated eating sugar to actually assist you with losing weight. And as a kid growing up in the '70s and '80s, I was no stranger to sugary cereals, soda, and candy -- which I'm sure are responsible for some of the fillings in my mouth. But even at a young age, I realized that I didn't like the way my body felt after eating something sugary, especially for breakfast, and soon I was asking my mother to buy Cheerios and Kix for me instead of Count Chocula and Apple Jacks. Today, I only occasionally have pancakes or French toast for breakfast and when I do, I use very little maple syrup -- maybe a teaspoon at the most. I also limit the sugar in my coffee to one teaspoon or less.

    I also very rarely drink soda (that includes the diet stuff, which in my opinion is even worse for you) and rarely eat candy, except for gummy bears on occasion. If I do need to indulge, I'll have a square of two of really good quality dark chocolate (ALDI sells a few German brands that are delicious.)

    I do, however, agree with one thing regarding the ads above: I don't completely deprive myself of a bit of sugar. I have dessert on most days after dinner. A brownie, a slice of pie, some ice cream, or a couple of cookies, and always with milk. I just don't pig out on them or take humongous portions unless I'm really treating myself and know that I'll negate it with a really great workout.

    More and more, I've been reading articles about how sugar calories are a different kind of calorie. Sugar contributes greatly to fat collecting around your belly and can cause all kinds of health problems from diabetes to high blood pressure. It's also hidden in a lot of foods like ketchup, sweetened yogurts and granola bars (I prefer to mostly buy plain yogurt and add my own mix-ins to it) so read your food labels. I just try to limit it in my diet the best I can.

    And by the way, there's a new diet I've recently learned about called The Wild Diet. The creator of it eats everything -- butter, cream, cheese, red meat, dark chocolate, etc. The two things the diet does limit are refined sugar and processed foods. He lost a ton of weight with his new lifestyle and looks fit and fantastic.
    2. I Eat A Healthy Breakfast
    Speaking of breakfast, I always eat one and I try to make it a filling one, with enough protein and a serving of fruit. I love eggs and eat one pretty much every day. The whole egg, too, not just egg whites. All of the nutrition and flavor is in the yolk, and eggs are not the bad guys of breakfast like many people make them out to be. I eat bacon, too -- but only half of one long slice if it's the regular kind; a whole slice if it's turkey bacon. Organic cereal or a slice of When Pigs Fly bread with cream cheese or butter (yep, I eat that, too), fruit, water, and my morning cup of coffee round it out.

    If I didn't have a protein and fiber-filled breakfast in the morning, I'd be ready to go back to bed by 10 AM. Not only that, but it keeps you full until lunchtime.


    3. I Like to Cook and Prepare My Own Meals
    I think this one is important, because when you make your own meals you're more conscientious of what's going into them. My favorite thing to make is soup, because you can pair it with a sandwich instead of chips or you can make a meal out of a bowl of it if you make the right one that has enough protein. My favorite soup recipes are a carrot and ginger soup made with coconut milk, and an Italian wedding soup made with pork/beef meatballs and kale that's a meal in itself when you have it with crusty bread and fruit.

    (By the way, I don't dress like Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA is in the above photo when cooking, but she does look cute there.)


    4. I Like to Exercise and Stay Active
    Olivia Newton-John said it best: let's get physical. I don't think there's any way around the E word...although your diet determines an awful lot what your body looks like, you still need to exercise, too. But here's the thing: I never kill myself when I work out. I'm not into Crossfit, boot camps, or any of that hardcore stuff; I just want to look toned. So I do a mix of aerobics, lifting light weights, and floor/ab exercises three times a week. In the meantime, I also walk during lunchtime during the week with a coworker of mine -- if the weather outside is cold and/or lousy, we walk the staircase and various floors of our building. I walk the three floors up the staircase to my company instead of taking the elevator. I ride a bike during the warmer months of the year, and I also got into running a few years ago. I like going for easy hikes and swimming at the beach, and during the winter I try to go cross country skiing a few times (although our winter was so warm and devoid of snow this past season that it didn't happen.)

    I feel like society in the '50s and '60s did a lot more walking and bike riding. Kids were also playing outside a lot more before video games came into vogue.

    I think if more people did more physical and recreational activities that they enjoy doing, they might be better off. Also, I wouldn't discount housework and yard work -- I know from experience that raking, gardening, and cleaning up the yard burns calories. And yes, dancing burns calories, so why not put on that disco album and shake your booty? There's a reason why those Soul Train dancers always looked so good...


    5. I Eat A Lot of Quality Protein
    Beef: it's what for dinner. Back in the day, steak was a favorite meal, and openly enjoyed. Today it seems it's all about a vegan or vegetarian diet, namely because of the horrific way animals are treated at most U.S. farms, and the antibiotics and other crap that get fed to them.

    Now that I'm working for an organic meat company, I get to take home the company's beef products for cost, and I actually find myself craving it. It's all grass-fed, so it's coming from cattle that are not just treated extremely well under strict animal welfare guidelines, but it's also naturally lower in fat and calories and has an amazing taste. But of course, I just don't eat red meat -- I eat chicken, turkey, seafood, legumes, and nuts. All are what I consider low-fat, quality protein. And protein helps fill you up and keeps you that way for hours.

    Roasted chickpeas are one of my favorite snacks to make and great to curb that 3 PM snack attack; I toss rinsed and dried chickpeas with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried rosemary and bake at 400 degrees until they've started to brown just a bit.

    Of course, I also eat fruit and veggies.

    6. I Eat When I'm Hungry, And I Stop When I'm Full
    It sounds so simple, right? Yet, I think a lot of people don't listen to that internal signal in their stomach when it starts to get full -- they keep eating. When I've had enough, I stop. (Gotta save some space for dessert, right?) I'm also not ashamed to ask for leftovers to be wrapped up when I eat out (remember when they used to be called doggie bags?)

    George Burns was once asked how he stayed so thin when he ate out all of the time. He said he only half of what was on his plate, and took the rest home. Considering how much larger restaurant portions are today compared to decades ago, it isn't a bad plan to emulate.

    I'm also not an emotional eater, a problem that seems to plague a lot of people today. I only eat when I'm hungry.


    7. I Get Enough Sleep
    You wouldn't think sleeping has anything to do with staying slim, right? But you'd be wrong -- studies have indicated that when we're sleep deprived, we eat extra calories because it's our body trying to compensate for not getting enough ZZZZZZZs. I've experienced this myself, so I try to get at least seven and a half hours of sleep each night. The bonus from sleeping enough is that you also have enough energy the next day to get some exercise.

    8. I Limit Processed Foods
    Michael Pollan, the author of several notable books about the food industry, has famously said that if your grandparents wouldn't recognize the food you're eating, then you shouldn't eat it. Maybe that's a little too strict, but it is true that things like processed cookies and other snacks aren't that great for us. I love crackers, especially with cheese, and I do eat potato chips on occasion. But I stay away from most of what Nabisco makes (except for those damn Ritz crackers with cheese, but I really limit treating myself with those.) The more "natural" your overall diet, the better you are in my honest opinion.

    I know some people ban foods made with white flour, such as pasta and bread, from their diet. I don't. I usually choose a whole-grain or other bread that would be considered more nutritional than regular white bread, but I really don't make any food completely off limits. I just watch what I eat.

    9. I Drink Very Little
    Here is where I differ drastically from the alcohol swiggers of the Mad Men era; I save mixed drinks for the occasional event (such as going out to dinner with my Meetup group) and have a glass of wine at home maybe once or twice a month. Same goes for beer. A lot of those mixed cocktails are sugary calorie bombs, and I don't really get the social media craze of sharing what you're drinking on Facebook. Truth be told, it kind of makes you look like an alcoholic.

    Was there supposed to be one more tip to make this an even ten? Well, I think nine pretty much sums it up. I drink a lot of water, move my body, and overall choose quality food. The other thing I think is important to know is that being a healthy weight requires not dieting, but a lifestyle choice. There are no quick fixes, folks. A diet is temporary; a lifestyle is a way of living. You can't change bad habits into good ones for a month, lose some weight, and then return to them thinking you won't gain it all back.

    It remains to be seen if something is going to happen to society to stop the worldwide gluttony. But I say it's high time a lot of us returned to a more retro, natural lifestyle with our eating and activity habits.

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    Yesterday was payday, and since it's also the middle of the month that meant today was "pay the bills" day. When I looked at the balance online for this month for my credit card, though, I truly had a "yikes!" moment. I guess you could say it was sticker shock after the fact.

    My bill was a few hundred dollars more than I intended it to be -- not because of anyone stealing my card, but because of my own haphazard charging on it during the past month. Normally the minimum balance it carries is only $25, with recurring charges for my monthly Sirius and Adobe Photoshop subscriptions. This time, though, using the card so freely plus previous purchases pushed it way past that amount. A dinner with my Meetup group, a lunch from my office building's cafe, lunch out with a friend, a purchase at the supermarket, an item of clothing, etc. Not to mention a lot of meat from my company that I've been buying. Seems there were a few times I was simply too lazy to go to the ATM, so I just used my credit card for the convenience. And therein lies the danger that so many Americans have been undertaking for decades now...

    Just last Sunday, I had watched a two-minute long commentary on CBS Sunday Morning by Mellody Hobson on Americans' cash-less trend and obsession with charging purchases to credit cards (or using a debit card or a mobile phone to pay.) Very little of us carry cash around in our wallets today, or write out paper checks, for that matter. (You know, money...those green slips of paper your parents and grandparents used to pay for stuff.) As a result, our credit card debt has skyrocketed -- and Hobson says the average household carries $15,000 in card debt. Holy smokes! You can watch the video clip here before I continue (it wouldn't work when I tried to embed the link.)

    Well, even before seeing my latest credit card bill, I had already intended to take Hobson's advice to heart: pay for everything -- or at least as much as I can -- in cash. Most of the time, I do. I've always been a saver rather than a spender. When I was ten my mother got me a savings account at our town bank. I loved saving the allowance I earned from doing chores into the account and watching it grow, along with interest, via the little book the banks used to give everyone (today, my account's records online and I don't really like it; I still miss the little books because to me it made the money feel more "real" and I could instantly see how much was in it versus calling the bank's 1-800 number and punching in my account number to get the balance.) And if there was a special toy I wanted to buy, I'd delight in saving my money until I had earned enough to pay for it.

    I was in college when I got my first credit card, and then a few cards to my favorite stores. I never had a problem with overspending or overusing them, but it did amuse me how I would get rewarded with increased credit at a young age. If I weren't so dependable, I could have purchased a car with the credit amount that was given to me.

    We don't live at or below our means so much anymore. We've become a nation of shopaholics. That old saying that was prevalent during the Great Depression, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without" fell by the wayside decades ago when Diner's Club and Mastercard (then Mastercharge) were introduced to the public.


    I'm not villainizing credit cards, by the way. They are a wonderful thing when you need them, especially for emergency purchases if you simply don't have the money yet, or for online purchases or traveling where cash simply isn't an option. They are necessary today for building one's credit. But they can become too much of a good thing if they're used casually for too many smaller purchases that add up.

    When you carry cash, as the video points out, you're more aware of how much money you're actually spending. And you're also curbing an addiction for instant gratification -- if there's something you really want and don't have enough cash for it...well, you can always wait for the next paycheck (although most people won't -- they're going to pull out their card.)

    The Germans, by the way, love paying for as much as they can with cash -- even more so than other European nations. Part of their motivation is because they simply prefer not to accumulate debt. The German word schulden, which means debt, comes from the word for guilt, which is schuld. According to this article, only about a third of Germans have a credit card.

    I was surprised to learn that some stores such as T.J. Maxx and Kmart still have the layaway programs that they brought back almost a decade ago, because I don't know of anyone who actually uses them. Maybe if stores gave incentives (such as points you accumulate that earn you a discount or coupon) for those that use layaway, it might entice more people to pay for something when they can afford it.

    Personally, I feel more powerful and in control having some dough on me at all times. So here's what I'm doing from here on out. I'm paying off the credit card bill, obviously, and taking out only so much cash each pay period to cover gas and needed toiletry items, plus a bit more to cover any upcoming social outing, special occasions that require a purchase, and unexpected purchases. And sticking to it. I look forward to seeing only those two recurring charges for most months on my credit card again.

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    My biggest Prince memory is of a college friend that was madly in love with him. So much so, that she invited me and other friends to her dorm one evening to watch a Prince concert event on cable. It was the early '90s, and Prince's tour at that time had a Roman theme for the set, inspired by Caligula if I remember correctly. When he looked into the camera, made a "V" shape with two of his fingers and put his tongue in between them, my friend went nuts. I wanted to throw up.

    Needless to say, Prince the man didn't do a darned thing for me sexually. To be honest, I thought he was a little freaky and full of himself. When he changed his name to that of a symbol in the '90s, it solidified my personal opinion that he was a huge weirdo.

    But...that doesn't mean I couldn't -- and can't -- appreciate him as a musical artist.

    Not long ago here on Go Retro I lamented about how homogenized pop music has become...every song and performer sounds the same to me. Not so in the '80s, which was the decade that I received a personal stereo with earphones and truly discovered the world of music for the first time. And Prince's catalog definitely was a huge part of the quirkiness that often defined the '80s sound. I would guess that "1999" was the first song I remember hearing by him, followed by "Delirious" (one of my favorites), "Let's Go Crazy", "When Doves Cry", "Raspberry Beret", "I Would Die 4 U" (I guess Prince was texting in his song titles before texting was even invented) and of course, "Little Red Corvette." It wasn't until recently that I learned that Prince's debut album, For You, pretty much consisted of only one musician: himself. And he was just barely 20 years old at the time of its release. Somewhat of a child prodigy, Prince mastered several instruments and was writing music at a very young age.

    Here's a list of the instruments that are credited to Prince on that first album: all vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, Orr bass, bass synth, singing bass, Fuzz bass, Fender Rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano, Mini-Moog, Poly-Moog, Arp String Ensemble, Arp Pro Soloist, Oberheim 4-voice, clavinet, drums, syndrums, water drums, slapsticks, bongos, congas, finger cymbals, wind chimes, orchestral bells, woodblocks, brush trap, tree bell, hand claps, and finger snaps.

    Ah, yes. Can't forget the finger snaps.

    Anyways, on the eve of his death the media has been reporting that he had a treasure trove of unreleased material tucked into his stark white mansion that has never reached the ears of the masses...hopefully in time that will be compiled and released. But something else we should remember about the prolific Prince is the enormous amount of material that he wrote that was recorded by other artists. So in honor of Prince Rogers Nelson, here's nine songs that he wrote for other performers....some of which became huge hits, as popular as if they had been recorded by Prince himself.

    "Nasty Girl" by Vanity 6 (1982)

    Prince seemed to take pleasure in creating musical groups long before Simon Cowell, and one of his pet projects was Vanity 6, a female trio that was originally going to be called (and probably rather appropriately) The Hookers. Sleezy, yes. Vapid, absolutely -- but I'd be lying if I said this song didn't have a spot somewhere on my list of favorite guilty pleasure tunes of the '80s. By the way, Vanity herself died earlier this year at the same age as Prince, 57. She had become a born-again Christian after Vanity 6 disbanded and quit drugs as well as the Hollywood lifestyle.



    "When You Were Mine" by Cyndi Lauper (1983)

    One of the tracks on Lauper's She's So Unusual album, it got overshadowed by her big hits from that record. Originally written and released in 1980, Prince was inspired by John Lennon when composing it, and it became part of his set list on many concert tours.



    "Jungle Love" by Morris Day and The Time (1984)

    Prince wrote several songs for Morris Day and The Time, which isn't surprising considering Day starred with him in Purple Rain and Graffiti Bridge (Prince also directed and starred in the now-forgotten Under the Cherry Moon, in which he played a gigolo hoping to swindle money from women.) The catchy song peaked at #20 on the Billboard chart, and Day would break up with The Time that same year to pursue a solo career.



    "Sugar Walls" by Sheena Easton (1985)

    Prince didn't shy away from writing controversial, sexually charged lyrics; he has the honor of having two songs that he wrote listed on Tipper Gore's infamous "Filthy Fifteen" list of songs she deemed too violent or sexual for children to listen to: "Darling Nikki" (a song about masturbation) and "Sugar Walls", which was recorded by Sheila Easton. I think everyone knows by now what part of the female anatomy is being referred to in this delightful, dirty ditty -- which I will admit is one of my most favorite sexy songs of all time.



    "The Belle of St. Mark" by Shelia E. (1985)

    Even before I knew who wrote it, I knew this song had Prince's mark all over it. He also wrote her big hit, "Glamorous Life" -- but there's something about the androgynous subject of the song that makes me wonder if Prince was secretly writing about himself.



    "Manic Monday" by The Bangles (1986)

    This is one song that still holds up today, especially when the Sunday night blues start coming on. Prince wrote it under the pseudonym "Christopher", and had originally intended it for another girl group he had pulled together, Apollonia 6.



    "Love Song" by Madonna (1989)

    Prince is among Madonna's rumored suitors from the '80s, so it's possible this song was inspired directly by their relationship.



    "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor (1990)

    This song has its origins in 1985, when Prince was working with a side project band called The Family -- but it was Sinead O'Connor that scored a hit with it in 1990. A good one to stay away from after a break-up.
     


    "Love... Thy Will Be Done" by Martika (1991)

    In the early '90s, singer Martika (mostly known by that point for her hit "Toy Soldiers") approached Prince with help recording some new material. One story says that Prince felt Martika as a singer should have been given stronger songs to work with. "Love... Thy Will Be Done" was actually written by Martika as a prayer, and then set to music by Prince. It was a top ten hit for Martika in the U.S., the UK, France, and Australia, and Prince would perform it on tours during the late '90s.


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    It was a week ago that an article called "It's 2016. Why are men still paying for women on dates?" appeared in the Boston Globe, and it really put my knickers in a twist. The completely clueless author (Afie Kohn) had been married for a few decades, got a divorce, and re-entered the world of dating expecting to get a free ride (and meal.) Namely, he was shocked to discover that women still expect him to pay for dates, given that we're holding positions in professions that would have been unheard of at the time he got married.

    "Men paying for meals may have made more sense when fewer women worked outside the home -- and those who did faced a much bigger gender wage gap," he argues. "But today, unmarried women earn, on average, almost as much as single men. Yet traditional roles have persisted. Besides, what matters are the two specific people having dinner. If both make a good living, then the man’s paying for her makes precisely as much sense as the woman’s paying for him."

    The thing that surprised me most about this editorial is that the author is not in his 20s or 30s, but appears (from his public website) to be older than me. He should know better.

    This dude probably wrote this piece coming from the perspective that he's all about women's rights, feminism, and that women should be HAPPY to pay for the food on a first date. But, my personal perspective on it goes hand-in-hand with something I said in the post I wrote a few weeks ago about men holding doors open for women. It doesn't matter what title a woman holds or how powerful she is in her job. At the end of the day, most of us still want to let our hair down and be treated like a lady. And a man can help her feel like a lady by paying for her meal.

    I have had some lousy dates in my life, but I can honestly say there is one thing I have never encountered, and that is having to pay for even part of a meal bill. Even guys I went out with that made less money than me always paid for everything. And frankly, if I were out on a first date and the man didn't pay, it would be game over for me.


    I may get some disagreement from some of my readers, but here's my opinion on the whole paying-for-meals-thing: I have no problem with couples taking turns with paying or splitting the bill once they're in an established relationship. But when a couple is just starting to get to know each other, and they're dating, that to me is courtship. And frankly, paying for the meal is part of that courting period.

    That's right, it's called courtship -- something that I hear is falling by the wayside, especially as people find dates via Tinder and other ridiculous dating apps that are really meant for emotionally disconnected people that just want to have one-night stands.

    However, if you're genuinely interested in a woman and want to show her you care and are interested in getting to know her, you court her by paying for meals.

    I also don't understand how a man could let a woman pay for a meal on the first date, and somehow still feel like a man. Wouldn't you feel emasculated in some way?

    Lastly, wouldn't it make you feel like a total cheapskate? Is that how you really want to be perceived by potential relationship partners?


    What if you don't make a lot of money, or don't want to invest a lot of money when it comes to dating? No problem. If you're meeting a woman for the first time that you know little about (say you contacted her on a dating site) then meet for coffee, or for a walk around the local park followed by ice cream. Then, if you think she has potential, you can suggest dinner for the next date.

    At any rate, as soon as the read the Globe editorial, I knew who to bring its attention to: James Michael Sama. He's a relationship and dating coach in the Boston area that I follow, and he advocates holding onto traditional dating values in our mobile-addicted, instant gratification, short attention span world. And while his blog declares that "the gentleman is the new bad boy", his site contains oodles of juicy advice for women as well. In fact, James realizes that women need to do their share of work to make a relationship successful. One of the best quotes I saw on his site was aimed at women as well as men (I'm ad-libbing here): "A relationship is like a fire. You can't start it and then walk away; you need to stroke it and keep feeding it."

    James has written many times about the whole who-should-pay-for-dates debate. Not only has he mentioned some of the points I brought up above, but he also argues that women will make the extra effort to look good for a guy; we'll do our makeup, buy a nice dress, and sometimes get a manicure. He maintains that the amount of money a woman invents in a first date is often more than the cost of a meal -- so men should take this into consideration and pay.

    James thanked me on Twitter for sharing the article with him, and immediately said he was going to write a response to Kohn's article. As I rub my hands together with glee I admit that I can't wait to read it...I'll be waiting with my popcorn.

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    A month or so ago I was watching Flight of the Phoenix (the original; not the remake) when I found myself quite taken with James Stewart's co-star in the film, a handsome German actor with blonde hair, blue eyes, and full lips named Hardy Kruger. In the 1965 adventure classic, Kruger's character -- Heinrich Dorfmann -- informs the crew after their plane crashes in the Sahara desert that he knows how to build airplanes and can create a new working one by salvaging parts from the damaged one. Little do they know that Dorfmann's airplane engineering experience is limited to model airplanes -- the punchline moment of the film.

    It's a great movie, and I don't know if I can ever bring myself to watch the 2004 remake (which starred Dennis Quaid in Stewart's role and the squirrely Giovanni Ribisi as the German.) I'm a sucker for German guys, and after watching Flight of the Phoenix I had to Google up Kruger to see what else he had been in. Turns out one of the things he has been in is the Adolf Hitler School at the Ordensburg Sonthofen in Bavaria! He was also in the German army during WWII, specifically the SS.

    Now, it wasn't his fault -- according to Wikipedia and a website dedicated to his career, it was pretty typical for German boys in the 1930s to be drafted into Nazi youth organizations. In Kruger's case, he was recruited to join the Deutsches Jungvolk at the age of 10 in 1938. In the Jungvolk, students participated in physical activities such as sports, hiking, and camping -- and they were also required to attend Nazi rallies and parades, and given military training. They were encouraged to inform the authorities if their parents were against Nazi teachings. Luckily this wasn't a problem for Kruger; his parents were great admirers of Hitler. Years later Kruger told a Swiss newspaper, "The memory of Hitler's bust on my mother's piano stands for a wasted childhood, a stolen youth, and a painful passage into the state of being human."

    In 1941, Kruger was apparently making a great impression on his teachers, because they selected him to attend the Adolf Hitler School. Two years later, Kruger earned his first acting role for a German film called Junge Adler (Young Eagles.) He was 15 at the time, and the film's director secured the paperwork to have him leave the school to work in the movie. At the studio, he was taken under the wings of a veteran actor named Hans Söhnker, one of Germany's leading actors at the time. Söhnker knew what was going on with the Holocaust, and the concentration camps, and informed Kruger.

    When filming ended, Kruger was heartbroken to learn he had been ordered to return to the school. In 1945, towards the end of the war, he was recruited yet again to join the SS Division Nibelungen, a last-ditch effort by Hitler to fight the allies that was made up of mostly 16 year-old boys. Kruger and his group were ordered to eliminate a group of American soldiers, but he could not do it. He was supposed to be executed by firing squad for cowardice, but another SS officer stopped the order. He then was made a messenger, but deserted his squadron and hid out in the mountains and abandoned farms until the war was over.

    He got a job as an extra in a movie, honed his acting skills, and then traveled to France in search of more work where he was met with distaste: "Look at you! Blonde hair! Blue eyes! We had people that looked like you all over France -- for years. Their arrogance is not forgotten. Nor are their crimes. Show us a grey uniform and we're scared."

    Kruger felt ashamed, and guilty. But he eventually settled in London (where he was reminded again by an actress that everyone she knew had lost someone in the war.) He learned how to speak English and improve his accent, and six months later a British movie director named Roy Baker offered him the lead role of a German pilot in the movie The One That Got Away. The 1957 motion picture was a big hit, and more studios started to take notice of Kruger.



    After several British and German films, Hollywood came calling when Kruger was cast alongside John Wayne in the 1962 African safari film Hatari!. During filming Kruger fell in love with Africa, and purchased the farm near Mount Kilimanjaro which served as the setting for the movie.


    I find it interesting that Kruger was embraced by Hollywood given his controversial younger years -- but he has adamantly denounced his involvement with the Third Reich several times in interviews and he was forced to join it pretty much against his will, after all.

    Other notable projects that Kruger has been in include The Wild Geese, A Bridge Too Far, and the TV miniseries War and Remembrance. He's also a pilot, having learned to fly at a young age, and the author of over a dozen books including his own autobiography. For over 30 years he's been married to a beautiful American woman, and his son -- Hardy Kruger, Jr. -- is also an actor. He's currently 88 years old, so here's a toast to those Teutonic genes!

    I have a bit of catching up to do with the other films in Kruger's resume. He's a fine actor -- and darn fine to look at!


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    Well, I had a feeling a lot of fellow kitty lovers read Go Retro, because the votes from the charity poll are in and the winner is the Ellen Gifford Cat Shelter! There's going to be a lot of happy aristocrats!

    I'll be donating the ad revenue I make during this month from the Blogger Network and Google AdSense to the cat shelter. So for the next few weeks, I'll be tweeting and posting content to Facebook as much as I can, including some older posts. How can you help? You can simply share (or, as I like to say, Cher and Cher alike) my blog posts...share them on your own social networks...help drive extra traffic and readership. Every little bit helps!

    Next month I'll post how much was made and will donate it to the shelter. This was fun, and I look forward to doing this again around the holiday season, perhaps with some more national charities. Thanks to everyone that voted! 

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    Two huge television stars. Two TV appearances. Two hilarious, craptacular "singing" performances in the '70s.

    These are the kind of retro gold gems that I live for when they get unearthed. I'd seen both of them before, but not the Telly Savalas one in its entirety -- in which he performs Bread's hit love song "If" on a German show called Disco. It's rather creepy with the close-up shot of the blonde looking awkwardly on. Who loves you, baby? Remarkably, I've listened to some of Savalas' other musical recordings online and didn't think he was that bad of a singer.



    Then we have William Shatner performing Elton John's "Rocket Man" at The Science Fiction Film Awards, which he also hosted. Virtually everything that Shatner has ever laid down on vinyl was delivered in a spoken and perhaps unintentionally comical style. I have to say, however, that the 1970s special effects in this one were nicely executed. Props also to the Shat Man for holding his cigarette like it's a joint.



    Which one do you feel "sang" their song better (or worse?) Leave a comment!

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    I only remember three parts of Under the Cherry Moon: the very beginning, the ending musical performance as the credits rolled (I think it was to "Kiss") and a very lame joke about pronouncing "record store."

    That would probably explain why the 1986 film totally tanked, earning only $10M at the box office (of which a friend and I contributed $5 each to that amount or whatever the going price was for movie tickets in the mid-80s.) By comparison, Prince's first movie, Purple Rain, grossed over $68M and had cost just over $7M to make.

    Under the Cherry Moon was a cherry bomb. It even won several Razzie awards, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Worst Director (both Prince), and Worst Original Song ("Love or Money").

    That's right; Prince directed this movie in addition to starring it in. He'd fair a little better the following year with Sign 'O The Times and later with the semi-sequel to Purple Rain -- Graffiti Bridge -- but it's safe to say that music and not film directing was his stronger talent.

    I think part of the problem with this effort, that I was reminded of when watching clips of the movie online 30 years after I first saw it, is that Prince's character in this film is obnoxious. He plays a gigolo named Christopher who, along with his brother Tricky (Jerome Benton), enjoys seducing and swindling rich women of their fortunes. When Christopher meets a British heiress named Mary (played by Kristin Scott Thomas in her big screen debut) he initially plans on robbing her of her inheritance, too -- until he inconveniently falls in love with her. This development causes a complication between the two partners in crime.


    Style-wise, the movie is a pretty sophisticated looking film. It was filmed in black and white, takes place in the Mediterranean, and has an Art Deco look about it. Unfortunately, all of that outward appearance lacks serious substance. The acting is often hammy and the storyline is a yawn-inducing one that's been copied many times over. The only highlights are the musical performances, and even those can be appreciated mostly by Prince fans.

    One weird detail about this film is that although the costumes, sets, and some of the cars suggest the plot is taking place during the 1930s, Sam Cooke's name comes up in conversation (his career spanned the late '50s and early '60s), and Christopher and Tricky break out a giant 1980s boom box during the scene below and start jamming. Maybe the brothers were secretly time travelers? The sequence can be viewed below--and it's also the one where the two conmen make fun of Mary's accent.



    Roger Ebert called this film "disastrous" and included it on his list of the worst of cinema released during 1986. The only participant that made out the best was Kristin Scott Thomas -- it put her on the map and in a few years she would star in The English Patient.

    Here's an interview of her promoting the movie in which the interviewer tries to trick her into admitting that Prince was difficult to work with. As an aside, I would have loved to have had her cool and colorful '80s dress here -- and those EARRINGS -- as a teen during the era!



    The movie also gave us "Kiss" on the soundtrack and a few other decent songs, but even then it's not in the same league as Purple Rain.

    Here's the trailer to Under the Cherry Moon -- which wisely left out any actual dialogue. Maybe that's why my 14 year-old mind at the time was so duped into thinking this would be a production of quality? However, there are some diehard Prince fans that consider the film to be a cult classic, so to each his or her own.


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    Warning: if you're easily "triggered" (the buzz word of 2016) by songs about fat shaming, racism, school shootings, sexual assault, and more then best to click away NOW. Because I've just compiled, off the top of my head, ten songs from the 20th century that would be considered very politically incorrect and offensive by today's standards. In my honest opinion, most of these songs were just the artists having fun...no harm intended...but in today's overly PC society quite a few of them would cause an uproar.

    "Too Fat Polka (She's Too Fat For Me)" by Arthur Godfrey (1947)



    Growing up in a Polish-American family, I'm well acquainted with "Too Fat Polka" as it was a regular staple of the polka radio special my parents would listen to on the A.M. dial every Sunday. Back then the version that got regular play was by "America's Polka King" Frankie Yankovic and it was also played at the polka dances my parents used to go to when I was a kid. So it's safe to say it really didn't offend much people back in the day -- back when obesity was still so rare it wasn't attracting media attention. Yet, when I recently posted a link to Arthur Godfrey's version on a Facebook thread, my friend count dropped by one later that night. (Shrug.) 

    "Too Fat Polka", although intended as a novelty record, reached #15 on the charts in 1947. Its success led to The Andrews Sisters cutting their own version while altering the lyrics to be from a woman's point of view. And while "the old redhead" -- as Godfrey was known -- was one of America's most popular radio and TV personalities during the 1940s and '50s, his tyrannical management skills and crude behavior became the stuff of Hollywood legend. Recording a song about fat shaming was the least of his sins. 

    "Civilization (Bongo Bongo Bongo)" by The Andrew Sisters and Danny Kaye (1948)



    This song wouldn't have even made this list if it weren't for the fact that shortly after it was released, Alan Clark -- a British member of Parliament -- supposedly referred to Africa as "Bongo Bongo Land." Clark denied that he meant anything derogatory by the term, saying that he was referring to the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo. As recently as 2013, the term was used yet again on camera by another member of Parliament, and this time thanks to the Internet, he got into hot water. Note to the British government: please simply refer to Africa as Africa and take the "bongo" out of it. 

    "Fatty Fatty" by Bobby Rydell (1958)



    So maybe Arthur Godfrey didn't dig fat chicks, but teen idol Bobby Rydell did, because his strange song "Fatty Fatty" tells of his love for a girl that weighs 365 ("one pound for every day of the year") and resembles a Sherman tank and elephant. Whatever floats your boat, buddy. The slowed down tuba to indicate rotundness is a nice touch. 

    "Clementine" by Bobby Darin (1960)



    Could it be my beloved Bobby D. was a fat shamer as well? Believe it -- "Clementine" is a take on "Oh My Darling, Clementine" with the subject being a North Carolina miner's daughter who weighed 299 pounds and drowns after her weight causes a bridge to "tremble and disassemble." The lyrics also compare her to a whale. The thing is, Bobby doesn't sound the least bit sorry about failing to rescue Clementine, which causes her untimely demise -- as evident by his bubble sound effects and gleeful "BYE!" at the end of the song.

    "Wives and Lovers" by Jack Jones (1963)



    I actually think the advice dished out in this Burt Bacharach/Hal David composition is quite sage: wives, be sure not to let yourselves go and stay attractive and flirty with your husband, lest he has an affair with one of the girls at the office. But, I know a lot of women -- especially feminists -- would work their panties into a wad over it today. I don't know how or why this was NEVER heard once in Mad Men; perhaps whoever was in charge of the soundtrack thought it would be too obvious? But c'mon, it would have been perfect for the series!

    "If You Wanna Be Happy" by Jimmy Soul (1963) 



    Jimmy Soul is more concerned about his wife cheating on him, so he picked himself an ugly one that will never stray. If her eyes don't match, take it from Jimmy Soul, she's a better catch. Plus, she sure can cook.

    "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones (1966)



    I think most of my readers know by now that I love the Stones. I also love this song, even if it does make the hair on my arms bristle just a little bit. Again, the feminists would be burning this record in public (or whatever the modern-day equivalent is of destroying vinyl records is) had it been released today.

    "Rape" by Peter Wyngarde (1970)



    Without a doubt, this IS the most bizarrely offensive song I've ever heard in my life, so prepare your ears. Peter Wyngarde is an English-French actor best known for the British TV series Department S and Jason King. In 1970, he released an album of strange songs done in a spoken word style a la William Shatner. But where Shatner was having fun with innocent songs such as "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" and "Mr. Tamborine Man," Wyngarde's collection included such curious tracks as "It's When I Touch You" and "Hippie and the Skinhead." "Rape" was actually issued as a single under the title, "Peter Wyngarde Commits Rape." Not only does he "sing" about the violent sexual crime (and sounds like a dog barking while doing it) but Wyngarde manages to insult just about every ethnic group that exists by vocalizing in gibberish and fake accents. This one really is offensive and inappropriate on so many levels and I have no more words for it. 

    "Illegal Alien" by Genesis (1983)



    How many Mexican stereotypes could Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, and Tony Banks of Genesis shoehorn into one song and music video? How about sombreros, ponchos, mustaches, drunkiness, laziness, sneakiness, and even prostitution? ("I've got a sister who'd be willing to oblige // She will do anything now to help me get to the outside" was omitted from the radio version of the song, as well as the music video.) The song is also sung by Collins in a fake Mexican accent. Ay, caramba! I'm sure the guys didn't mean anything derogatory (and it IS an addictive ear worm of a tune) but it would certainly never pass muster if released today.

    "Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun" by Julie Brown (1984)



    Remember when school shootings were just a bad joke and the subject of equally bad '80s songs? Yeah, how times have changed. 

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    It's bungle in the jungle for "Marty" Milner and Mamie Van Doren in The Private Lives of Adam and Eve
    I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit that my main motivation for watching The Private Lives of Adam and Eve was when I came across this publicity photo of the hunky Martin Milner from the film. Care to point out anything unusual?


    "One Adam-12, one Adam-12, man with a gun..."

    OK, I can't take credit for that creative naughty quip -- one of my followers on Facebook came up with it. And as it turned out, Frederick's of Hollywood -- who was responsible for the movie's costume design -- apparently went overboard with the plentitude of fig leaves and fabric used for the swimming trunks, because Milner's private parts were in reality a lot more modest, as evident by this yummy photo I found of him wearing tight shorts:


    Anyhooo...this post is, sadly, not about crotch bulge (hee hee), but about The Private Lives of Adam and Eve, a forgotten project on Milner's extensive resume. When he passed away last year at the age of 83, much was mentioned about one of the television roles that made him a household name, that of Officer Pete Malloy in the popular NBC police drama Adam-12 (of which I am planning a much overdue blog post.) Prior to Adam-12, he had also starred in the series Route 66 and acted in a slew of movie and TV projects dating back to when he was a kid.

    The Private Lives of Adam and Eve came out the same year Route 66 premiered on CBS, 1960. The first clue that this movie wasn't exactly Oscar-worthy material is that it was co-directed by Mickey Rooney, who also stars in it, playing the duel role of a casino owner and the devil. (Albert Zugsmith is the other director, and he was the man behind such exploitation titles as High School Confidential and The Girl in the Kremlin.) The second is that it opens with Paul Anka singing the theme song while riding on a self-driving jalopy that looks it came second-hand from the Clampetts themselves. (Lest we forget, Anka is the same guy that gave us "(You're) Having My Baby" years later. Sorry, Anka fans, but you're never going to live that one down.)

    The Private Lives of Adam and Eve is classified as a B-movie, and thus it's campy, corny, schlocky, and everything else you'd expect a low budget production to be. And yet I found it strangely entertaining and funny in spite of its awkwardness. I can think of worse ways to spend an hour and a half than watching a flick where Martin Milner is shirtless for a good portion of it -- so there's that.

    And for you guys, there's plenty of eye candy abound in this movie for you, too. How does Mamie Van Doren, Tuesday Weld, Fay Spain, and Playboy Playmate June Wilkinson sound? Pretty good, right? So on with the review...

    As one would expect from a movie of this caliber, the plot is pretty simplistic. A group of people end up on a Nevada bus bound for Reno. There's Ad Simms (Milner), a car mechanic/garage owner married to Evie (Van Doren), who wants to divorce him after she caught him kissing their neighbor Lil Lewis (Spain.) Lil is seeking a divorce of her own, from Nick (Rooney.) Also on the bus is a traveling salesman, Hal, played by Mel Torme, and a runaway blonde named Vangie (Tuesday Weld.) Or, as the bus driver Doc (Cecil Kellaway) tells us at the beginning of the tale, Vangie's nickname used to be Bobby Sox, but now everyone calls her Baby Sex. Rounding out the crew is Pinkie Parker (Anka), a beatnik that wants to be a big singer "like that Crosby fella."

    Ad actually doesn't board the bus in Paradise like the other passengers, but ends up chasing after it in Pinkie's souped up car. The car meets its untimely demise over a Nevada cliff when Nick, who has forced his way into taking over the bus, forces it off the road, nearly killing Ad who leaps from it just before it goes over the edge and bursts into flames.

    Ad had been trying to warn the bus driver that a passing storm has made the road ahead impassable. Once night falls and they head into the pounding rain, they realize they're in danger and barricade themselves up in a church to wait out the weather. Ad and Evie end up falling asleep and having parallel dreams that they're Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. This is where the movie changes from black and white to color...and when it really takes a turn for sillyville...


    It's hard to tell who had the more embarrassing role in The Private Lives of Adam and Eve: Milner or Rooney. As Adam, Milner reacts to his "new" body like a baby discovering his or her toes for the first time. "Hi! I'm Aaaadddammm!!!" he yells out to no one in particular after gleefully discovering himself. But Rooney plays Satan in both his devilish and snake forms. Eve/Evie is presented to Adam and all is well and dreamy and lovely until she is tempted into eating the forbidden apple. God isn't pleased, but instead of killing Adam and Eve, the couple find themselves bickering in paradise and friction in their relationship. Eve gets increasingly whiny, complaining about everything from the placement of the "furniture" in their cave to the fact that Adam doesn't have a job. Adam is soon faced with a new temptation -- that of the sultry brunette Lil. Lil gets Adam drunk, introduces him to a bed, and feeds him grapes. "There's only one man in this world -- and you know it!" says Eve when she confronts Lil. Adam is caught hiding under the bed, and Eve begins pelting the two adulterous lovers with coconuts.

    After Eve runs away in anger and hurt, a storm descends as Lil pleads with Adam to forget Eve, and go with her. "But she's a part of me!" he exclaims, referring to the rib that was taken from his side to create Eve. Eve trips in the rain and the mud and begs for God's forgiveness for eating the apple. As the sky clears, Adam finds her and the two discover that she's pregnant. Cue the melodramatic, swelling music...

    Had the "Razzies" existed in 1960, surely this movie would have been nominated for several of them. Mamie Van Doren's acting is atrocious, and she was notorious for making a string of bad movies after Universal Studios declined to renew her contract in 1959. Milner makes the most of the role, playing Adam as a gullible, "aw shucks" type of guy. Rooney looks like he was having the most fun in this production. I'd say the movie's biggest flaw, however, isn't the acting but the lack of inclusion of the other actors in the Garden of Eden sequence. Only Rooney, Milner, Van Doren, and Fay are present during this portion of the movie. Where are Torme, Anka, Weld, and Kellaway? Ah, who gives a rip when we have this hunk of a man?


    A bit of trivia about the film, revealed on Wikipedia...Universal planned to premiere it in every town in the U.S. with the name Paradise at the same time. Then producers discovered that there's only nine such American towns, and only two had movie theaters. Eight of them at the time also had populations of less than 500 residents. An organization affiliated with the Catholic church also declared the movie blasphemous, which is pretty ridiculous even for early '60s' standards.

    And by the way, this was not the only time Milner made this type of film, and worked with Van Doren, Weld, and Zugsmith. He not only had a role in Sex Kittens Go to College (also released in 1960) but he was one of the associate producers as well. (Guess which title is next on my bucket list of cheesy movies to watch?)

    So The Private Lives of Adam and Eve is not a "good" movie...but I also didn't find it boring and it isn't without its humorous moments. And if you want to appreciate what Milner went through earlier in his career before stepping into the more demanding role of Officer Malloy, then check it out. It's been uploaded in its entirety to YouTube.

    The trailer isn't available without commentary, but here's some scenes from the movie.


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    Just in case you're wondering, that new fan happens to be me.

    I've been getting my kicks watching Route 66 for the past week or so. At first I watched a couple of random episodes on YouTube, and liked it so much I decided to watch them in order on Hulu, starting with the first season. And now, just four episodes in, I'm addicted. It's become my nightly ritual after washing up. I put my sleep attire on, fire up the laptop, and settle into the glorious early '60s, black and white world of Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdoch (George Maharis) to savor whatever adventures -- and mishaps -- these two gorgeous guys get into next, when they're not gliding down another American road in that fabulous Corvette convertible.

    But Route 66 wasn't just about two hotties picking up odd jobs and girls across the country. There was real substance behind this show. Although I've barely watched a few episodes as of this blog posting, I can honestly say it has to be one of the most underrated series of the sixties decade. Perhaps, even, a somewhat forgotten one. I only found one active fan group on Facebook (that I promptly joined) and a few sites and blogs that focus on the show, but no real "official" page dedicated to it. I only decided to explore the show because of my new love for co-star Martin Milner, and after getting a little bored with Adam-12 I veered into Route 66 territory. No offense to the Adam-12 fans, but I can honestly say I like Milner's first TV series better.

    The word "groundbreaking" when describing television and films is starting to sound like a cliched and overused term. But there's no doubt that aptly applies to Route 66. For starters, the series was filmed on location -- with many of the settings nowhere near the famed American highway it was named after. If the script set Tod and Buz in Butte, Montana, the cast and production crew went directly to Butte, Montana. Many of the story lines would be right at home in the year 2016. One of the random episodes I watched on YouTube -- "To Walk With the Serpent" -- is about a wealthy guy with aspirations of power who wants to keep immigrants out of America. Sound like anyone in the news lately? Then there's the Nazi war criminal that Tod and Buz help expose, a feisty feminist running a shrimp boat who doesn't want to get married, and an epidemic of "parrot fever" which is not unlike the bird flu scare from a few years ago. It's almost as if the writers were time travelers that derived their plot ideas from the social norms and headlines of the 21st century.


    This was also a show that came on the air at a time when Westerns ruled -- it's been reported that in 1960, one-third of all television programming was devoted to the cowboy genre. Route 66 gave American TV viewers something fresh, new, and adventurous to watch.

    It should come as no surprise that the inspiration for Route 66 was Jack Kerouac's novel, On the Road. (I've read that Kerouac planned to sue producers as he felt his story had been plagiarized.) The American interstate highway system was getting some final touches, Motor City was cranking out automobiles ("See the U.S.A....in your Chevrolet" was a popular jingle in the early '50s) and a lot of Americans were getting wanderlust. But many more were still timid about venturing outside of their towns and Route 66 provided viewers with a glimpse into various parts of their country along with the good, bad, and ugly of humanity.

    I know I'm still a new fan, but here's just some more observations about the show, in no particular order, which illustrate why I'm hooked -- and why it's probably going to go down as one of my favorite series, ever.


    Tod and Buz Are Total Hotties
    Yeah, as a horny female who digs retro guys, I'll just state the obvious and get it out of the way first. Martin Milner and George Maharis were super hot foxes. Milner's my guy, but I can still appreciate Maharis, who almost looks like Jack Kerouac and also resembles Eric McCormack from Will & Grace fame. It's refreshing to watch a series and be reminded of how clean cut guys in general used to be: short hair, clean shaven, and devoid of tattoos, piercings, man buns, and all of that dreck. And these two red blooded American, boy-next-door types were natty dressers, too...collared shirts, nice sweaters, jackets, etc. and not a single baseball cap to be found. Tod even wears a bathrobe...needless to say, I'm drooling.

    How did Tod and Buz know each other, anyway? Buz worked for Tod's dad and the two become friends. After Tod's wealthy father passed away he discovered that he was nearly bankrupt, except for the flashy Corvette which he left to his only son. Tod went to Yale, but has no post-college plans, and he and Buz decide to enjoy the freedom of the open road and see where it takes them.

    Milner passed away last year at the age of 83. Maharis is alive and well, but fans may know he was not with the show until its end. Sadly, he contracted hepatitis during season three from a vitamin B12 shot (which were commonly administered in those days by family doctors) and had to leave the series. His departure sparked unfair rumors that he wanted more money, that he wasn't getting along with his costar Milner, and that he wanted to abandon TV to pursue a movie career -- all of which was untrue.

    “The doctor said, ‘If you don’t get out now, you’re either going to be dead, or you’re going to have permanent liver damage,'” Maharis said in a 2007 interview. “I wasn’t interested in leaving the show. I enjoyed it; I was having a good time. It probably could have gone two or three more years, and I think they even had plans of taking the show to Europe. That’s what they talked about, anyway, and I would have looked forward to that. I was trying to recuperate, and there was all the crap going on about how I wanted more money. It was all garbage. Some people even tried to make it like I never had hepatitis at all. But it’s all in the doctor’s reports. I was just ill. It took me 2 1/2, three years to recuperate before I started working again. What should have happened, I guess, was that I should have worked only a couple of hours a day.”

    Maharis left the series near the end of season three, and his character was replaced by Lincoln "Linc" Case, played by Glenn Corbett, but the bromance between him and Milner wasn't the same as when Maharis portrayed his traveling companion. The show suffered, and ended after season four.

    Needless to say, although I plan on watching all four seasons, I'm not looking forward to this part of the show. To me, Route 66 will always be about Tod and Buz.

    Fisticuffs Fly In Nearly Every Episode
    It's starting to get comical, but fistfights seems to be a given in nearly every episode -- it was the early '60s, after all, and that was how men settled their differences. Buz is an ex-gang member and hails from Hell's Kitchen, so throwing punches in nothing new to him. Of course he and Tod manage to always win and get away without scars and other real physical damage. Oh, and there's smoking, too. Not that frequent but enough that it's noticeable. And uh, oh: I also noticed the guys tossing their cigarette butts onto the road, because you definitely don't want the lingering nicotine stink in that Corvette.

    Each Episode Is An Unfolding Mini Mystery
    The writers really knew what they were doing with this program; with each new destination that Tod and Buz arrive in, they seem to stumble into a mysterious and often potentially dangerous situation or someone's dysfunctional drama. Some of the moods are even a bit reminiscent of The Twilight Zone. The show really keeps you intrigued to therefore, keeps you watching....that's one of the reasons why I've been coming back for more every night.

    Also, I hear there's one episode where poor Tod takes an LSD-like substance and goes tripping on it. Needless to say, I'm looking forward to seeing THAT.

    The dialogue at times is quite colorful -- Shakespearean, in fact. Makes me wonder how some of the actors remembered their lines. This was a time when television was still a fairly new frontier, and scriptwriters could feel comfortable staging plays within an hour of TV drama.

    The Opening Nelson Riddle Theme Is A Killer Tune
    A few years ago I wrote about how very few TV shows have theme songs nowadays, whether it's due to a lack of attention spans or production money. Route 66's opening theme (which has nothing to do with the Bobby Troup composition that Nat King Cole popularized) is, without a doubt, one of the coolest TV themes ever. So much so that I listened to it on Spotify several times this week.



    The Show Was Only Nominated For Two Emmys. WTF?
    I was flabberghasted to learn that during its four season run, Route 66only earned two Emmy nominations: one for George Maharis and the other for Ethel Waters. Neither won. What, no nominations for the scriptwriters (Stirling Silliphant wrote most of the episodes; kudos to him), the directors, the producers, Milner, or anyone else? Shameful.

    Lots of Well-Known Actors Had Roles On the Show
    Although I haven't gotten into enough episodes yet to see them show up, everyone from William Shatner to Boris Karloff was on Route 66. Apparently it was a hot series to work on, and who can argue with that?

    There May Be a Remake Of the Show -- Although An Earlier One Flopped
    Yes, I was disheartened to learn that in December 2014, it was announced that a media company was developing a reboot of Route 66 -- complete "with a faster car." Well, I have zero interest in watching a 21st century, hipster Tod and Buz in some ugly, overdone sports car or SUV using a GPS to get around the U.S. instead of a paper map. You can bet your bottom dollar they'll be sleeping their way across the USA with every slut that comes their way, too!

    As the only news I found on this subject came out a year and a half ago, I'm hoping that means this project was abandoned. NBC already tried to revive it in 1993, with Buz's son inheriting the Corvette and picking up a hitchhiker to ride with him. Lame.

    There can only be one Route 66, and only two men that can fill the roles of Tod and Buz.


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    Avocado. Harvest Gold. Almond. If you were living in an American household at any time from the '60s through the '80s, you're probably familiar with these colors as they applied to kitchen appliances. And if you lived in an American house during the 1950s, perhaps you were even lucky enough to experience a pink kitchen -- just like the one discovered in this Chicago house that was making the Internet rounds last year.

    Where did all of that color go? Today -- unless you order from a specialty company that makes vintage style kitchen appliances -- it's virtually impossible to purchase a brand new, groovy fridge or dishwasher in avocado green. Nearly every manufacturer only offers them in a modern but cold-feeling stainless steel, or white. Not long ago I even read that the next trend will be BLACK in the kitchen. Perish the thought! I like my kitchens sunny a la The Brady Bunch, not The Addams Family.

    So where did all of the color in kitchen appliances go? According to an Elle Decor article published last year, once American homes started getting bigger, entertaining guests got moved from a separate dining area to spaces that are part of the overall kitchen area, and brightly colored kitchens started to fall by the wayside. I tend to think, however, that it was a decision simply made by appliance companies to move away from offering color coordinated units that would have leftover inventory to simply selling one-shade-fits-all.

    I have nothing against the stainless steel finish, but I still have memories of the green fridge and dishwasher from my parents' own home. Today, my mother's kitchen has all white appliances, including the microwave.

    So for nostalgia's sake, here's a smattering of ads and photos from kitchens of the past, mostly spotted on Pinterest. Maybe someday they'll make a comeback.













    Because who doesn't want their stove matching their dress?


    Imagine...people really did this. Covering their fridge's front doors with printed fabric!


    And of course, you need smaller kitchen appliances that match the color of the larger ones.

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    I know, I know, I just posted about Route 66 a few weeks ago. And I told the world that I was watching all of the episodes in their proper order from the very beginning.

    But over on the Route 66 group that I joined on Facebook, several fans kept mentioning one episode in particular...one called "The Thin White Line." This is the episode where Martin Milner's character, Tod Stiles, accidentally ingests a psychedelic drug that sets him off on a wild, mind bending ride in the streets of Philadelphia. I caved. I mean, just look at the accompanying terrifying screenshot that's being used on the IMDB for this particular episode. The rest of season one could wait...


    My poor guy! Anyways, more than a few weeks after I initially watched this episode, it still haunts me, so I simply had to blog about it. I can totally understand why it's considered a fan favorite. I mentioned in my first post about Route 66 that it was a groundbreaking show ahead of its time. Well, "The Thin White Line" may have been the first time that drug use -- at least, of psychedelic drugs -- was portrayed on television. The drug is actually referred to in the program as an experimental "chemotherapy compound", not LSD. However, LSD's roots go back to the 1940s and a lot of experimental research was taking place with it during the 1950s. In an interview that co-star George Maharis gave in 2007, he mentioned that the show's main scriptwriter, Stirling Silliphant, had probably heard enough about the drug to work it into a storyline. Keep in mind, "The Thin White Line" aired on television in 1961 -- a good five years before LSD became a more recognized substance.

    The hour starts off innocently enough. Tod and Buz are dancing with a couple of cute girls at a hotel suite party (at a Philadelphia Marriott) and are having a swell time. But one of the party's guests is an uninvited crasher -- a goony lunkhead that stole the host's girlfriend for a dance and then ordered the "boy" to bring him a beer. The seething party host is in the kitchen with a college friend who has brought along something to teach the crasher a lesson -- a sample of a drug that will make him go ape and start babbling nonsense for a few hours. At first the host is hesitant to actually follow through with the spiked beer, but his ego wins over. His weaselly little friend then pours an EXTRA amount of the drug into the glass, for good measure.

    Out in the hotel suite, the host repeatedly offers the beer to the party crasher, who growls his decline and tells him to come back later. Before he has a chance to bring it back to the kitchen, Tod snatches the glass and gulps it down in a few swallows. It isn't long before he's become incredibly drowsy and unsteady on his feet, struggling to stay awake to dance with his date. When the two guys that spiked the beer call Tod's date to the kitchen to speak with her, Tod decides to take a nap on the couch, unnoticed by Buz and the other party guests.

    Noooo! Don't do it, Tod!
    In the kitchen, the drug guys are asking Tod's date if he's "stable." She responds that Tod and Buz have been working a construction job and that he's a nice guy, "a dreamboat." (Well, I'm certainly not about to argue with her about that.) She presses the pair as to what is going on, but they refuse to tell her, and let her go.

    Meanwhile, Tod has abruptly awoken and it takes him a moment to realize where he is. When he sees the lunkhead party crasher (who insulted him when he tripped and fell into him) he attacks and punches him, disrupting the guests. He even gets physical with Buz before running out of the party and across the hotel's ice skating rink and through a garden area with water. Before long, he's gone from the hotel's property and has disappeared into the night with no way for Buz to catch up to him.

    The police are called to the hotel, as well as the college researcher who's been studying the drug that Tod ingested. Buz and Tod's date learn that the drug's users experience several stages over the course of hours. The first is sleepiness, followed by paranoia, then euphoria. But in a chilling moment, the scientist warns the police that "what comes up must come down." He then informs everyone that even the happiest, most well adjusted people that have tried the drug often experience deep despair followed by a strong desire to kill themselves.

    This is your brain on drugs...not exactly "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds", folks!
    I really don't want to give too much away, but let me say this: for all of his work, it's probably Martin Milner's finest hour on television, and for the life of me I cannot fathom why he wasn't at least nominated for an Emmy (yes, the Emmys did exist in the early '60s.) The best sequence is when Tod, during the drug's joie de vive phase, finds a barroom attended by the suspicious Al Lewis, aka Grandpa Munster. During this segment Tod is an unpredictable loose canyon, rattling off toasts in about a dozen foreign languages and consuming enough alcohol to knock out a bull elephant. He also gets picked up by the bar's chain smoking, piano playing cougar (you go, girl.) (This has dire results once the happy-go-lucky period of the drug starts to wear off.)

    "Deeeeeeee-licious!"
    I will admit that when I first learned about this episode, and the plot, I laughed. And it does sound funny at first -- the idea of someone under the influence of a psychedelic drug. The producers could have easily made "A Thin White Line" pro-drug, and portrayed it as a trippy romp through sugar town. But Milner takes us on a spectrum of human emotions and my heart was breaking for him by the end, during the program's climatic scene on the Ben Franklin Bridge (don't worry; it has a happy ending.) What makes it so unsettling to watch is that it's happening to one of the nicest TV characters ever conceived; a squeaky clean, innocent, boy-next-door type who is usually portrayed helping people.

    There's also some creative camera work I appreciated during one segment to give the illusion of the drug's effects. Well, I said in my first post about the series that it was ahead of its time, and it was. I don't think you need to actually be a fan of the show to appreciate "The Thin White Line." Here's Part 1 if your curiosity has been piqued -- and you can watch all parts on YouTube.


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    Happy Fourth of July weekend, Go Retro readers (and hey, the t-shirts on the couple above are a perfect red, white, and blue!) A few weeks ago I began noticing when logging into Blogger that I had surpassed 1,000 written posts. I'm still in mind-boggled disbelief -- it's daunting enough to think about the amount of time it takes to write 100 posts, or 250, or 500, but...1,000?

    Well, I guess it's proof that work isn't work when it's something you enjoy doing. Go Retro is also turning nine years old this month -- and my desire to blog about my retro-related passions still hasn't slowed down.

    As much as I'm patting myself on the back, a blog wouldn't be a blog without readers. I'd like to thank those of you that have stuck around through the years and continue to read and find enjoyment, amusement, and nostalgic memories from my humble site. I really hope to be able to offer another giveaway to you soon, too. Here's to the next 1,000 posts!

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