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Whatever Happened to...Hitchhiking?


When's the last time you saw a hitchhiker? Better yet, when's the last time you picked up one? Crazy question, right?
 It's been many years since I've seen anyone sticking their thumb out on the side of the road to bum a ride, but I can remember seeing the occasional hitchhiker up through the 1990s (one was a guy so scary looking he appeared to be wearing a Halloween mask, not far from my house as I was driving home late at night from the hotel job I held during my college years.)

And that's pretty much the obvious answer as to why hitchhiking fell out of favor--who would be insane/careless/cavalier enough today to offer a ride to a stranger, or ask for one? Yet for everything that could go wrong with hitchhiking, apparently documented cases of U.S. murders that resulted from the practice in the 20th century are not as common as we would think. Still, I wouldn't take a chance...and that's why we have mobile phones and AAA today, to save us from thumbing a ride to the closest pay phone if our car breaks down. 

Hitchhiking was popular during the 1960s and 70s, although its origins actually go back further than that. Remember those old timey movies where the lady character exposes a leg to get her and her male companion a ride? There was also a time when anyone in uniform could get picked up within minutes--Dr. Wayne Dyer tells a story in his latest PBS special about how he hitchhiked home for the holidays wearing his Navy uniform and ran into his brother at a restaurant.  

But it was the baby boomers who popularized hitchhiking to get rides to antiwar protests, concerts and other destinations. Jack Kerouac's On the Road was published in 1957, and represented freedom to the book's fans. I had a friend who hitchhiked from Boston to San Francisco during the late 60s--and said he rode with a racist truck driver who spewed obscenities about every ethnic background under the sun. 

And let's not forget that Vanity Fare had a hit song in 1969/1970 with the catchy "Hitchin' a Ride" ("A thumb goes up, a car goes by...")

Law enforcement started to get nervous with this popular form of transportation, and began to educate the public on hitchhiking's dangers; the FBI produced pamphlets on why hitchhiking was dangerous, and some American cities started to debate passing laws that would make it illegal. A 1973 issue of Reader's Digest warned women not to put out a thumb, leg, or anything else: “the odds against her reaching her destination unmolested are today literally no better than if she played Russian roulette.” Scary movies that revolved around deadly hitchhiking scenarios started to get made in the 70s and 80s. 

At one time the Let's Go Publications of travel guides advocated hitchhiking; today, of course, the guides do not recommend it, no matter what part of the globe you're visiting. 

Occasionally, though, you do hear about successful modern hitchhiking success stories. Director John Waters' new book, Carsick, chronicles his hitchhiking adventure from Baltimore to San Francisco. Author Paul Samuel Dolman was picked up by Larry David on Martha's Vineyard a few years ago ("You're not a serial killer or something are you?" was David's first words to him.) Needless to say both survived the ordeal and Dolman wrote about it in the best seller Hitchhiking with Larry David. (And who wouldn't want to share a car ride with Larry David?)

I also remember a 20/20 special in the 90s where an ABC reporter hitchhiked from Massachusetts to California to see what kind of people he would encounter. The verdict: most people are good and perfectly normal (of course he also had a cameraman with him, so he wasn't alone.) 

Hitchhiking would be an interesting way to see some parts of the country and meet new people, if only one's safety could be guaranteed. As a common way to getting around, however, I think it's gone for good. 

Do any of my readers have some interesting hitchhiking stories to share?

Absolutely Atrocious Craft Books From the 1970s


I know that most of you are fans of the 70s, right? The music, the movies, and the fashion. However, I have to draw the line at some of the hideous crafts that were popular during the era. I'm not talking about crocheted ponchos--those are high fashion compared to some of the book covers I found on Pinterest. It would be way too easy to fill this post with nothing but macrame books (I did include one because of its awful title.) Unfortunately, 70s crafts go beyond macrame in their terribleness. So brace yourself, and let's have a look at these doozies...

I'm getting a very uneasy feeling looking at these two. I'm afraid if we loiter any longer they're going to start putting on a show for us, so...best to keep scrolling.

Learn how to make penis shaped candles.

Yeah, don't throw it away. Make it even uglier to give away as gifts to unsuspecting relatives.

Note to parents: if your kid really needs a book to show them how to make a paper mustache you better be prepared for them to repeat a grade or two.

Pet rocks...probably the most pointless fad of the 1970s. I have no problem with people making these things, just as long as they don't start having LSD-induced conversations with them. I wonder how many high people jumped out of buildings because the pet rocks were telling them to do so?

Holy smokes, did the Duggars build this hot tub? There are waaaaay too many people crammed into such a small homemade jacuzzi. I hope this family didn't have franks and beans for lunch. More disturbingly...are all of them butt nekkid?

More rascals to keep you company during drug induced stupors. I'm actually a fan of owl related retro items, but these things are just creepy.

If this book is a "symphony" then pass the earplugs. 

I wrote a few years ago about pantyhose and pondered their decline in popularity...this book may have been one of the reasons. Now we know where old pantyhose goes to die. 

Michele Weal needlepointed a naked Adam in the Garden of Eden...I wonder how much texture she used?

Now half price when you also purchase the companion booklet, Jockstraps.

T*ts and Tiparillos


The Tiparillo advertising campaign of the late 1960s reminds me of a series of sleazy ads done for Microsheen shoe polish a decade before, a campaign that begs the question "what do showing boobies have to do with shoe polish?" Absolutely nothing, son, but now that we have your attention, don't forget our brand name or product. 

These Tiparillo ads very well may have been conceived by the same advertising team, filed under the classic "sex sells, so who cares about product relevance?" category. At least Tiparillo tried to offset the sexist tinge by placing the models in their ads as accomplished women, in professions that went beyond the usual 1960s secretary role: marine biologist, librarian, lab technician and violinst. The problem is all of them are dressed very inappropriately for their jobs and some are not dressed at all, at least from the waist up! It's also highly doubtful that any men actually made it to the copy at the bottom of each ad. Take a look...

Double your pleasure, double your fun!

It looks like this biologist has her own built-in flotation devices to keep her afloat. "You don't want a cigarette? OK, well how about I motorboat you instead?"

She blinded me with science, and failed me in lung cancer.

If dental hygienists really forgot to wear bras, many men would go to the dentist a LOT more regularly. And most hygienists would be offended by the cigarette gesture, because smoking and dental health go together like...well, eating a candy bar after you brush your teeth.  

So much for the shy librarian type hiding behind her glasses with the hair pulled high atop her head. This one lets it all hang out, so to speak. 

Save a horse, ride a man who offers you a Tiparillo. And while she's covered up, it's pretty obvious she is not wearing a bra. I don't even want to think about the bounce factor involved while riding a horse like Lady Godiva did...

Insert joke here about getting your instrument played.

A commercial that aired earlier in the era was much more tame (and is very classy 1960s):

No surprise, all of these featured print ads ran in Playboy. But Mad magazine had the last laugh with Tiparillo's campaign...

Paper...or Paper? A Look Back at Vintage Grocery Store Excursions

I posted the above photo on Go Retro's Facebook page a couple of days ago, and it resulted in 47 shares, 56 likes, 39 new page likes, and was seen by approximately 4,000 people. Whoa. Clearly one of my page's most popular posts, and proof that people still hold a certain nostalgic fondness for interior aesthetics gone by. 

Maybe it's because everything about the scene is so different compared to today's typical grocery store. There isn't a single environmentally unfriendly plastic bag to be found. The customer is writing a check. There are hanging plants (ferns?) above each check-out station, and the cashier is wearing what appears to be platform shoes or sandals. Not to mention that styling interior decorating combo that was so prevalent in the 1960s and 70s: bright orange and fake wood paneling. Who knew that running out for milk and bread could be so groovy?

I decided to dig up more photos of what supermarkets looked like during my childhood, and before I was born...

My first job ever, when I was 15 and a half (the legal age to be able to work in Massachusetts in the late 1980s) was as a grocery store cashier/bagger. Our store was a little behind the times compared to our competitors, because we didn't have that latest technology--scanners--yet. Every price had to be punched in by hand. That's what the above photo reminds me of, and probably the reason why so many people in it look kind of disgusted at having to wait. I noticed that all of the kids in the photo seem calm and well behaved (even the boy oogling the candy display.) Today, I can't walk into any kind of store without having to listen to screaming kids...but that's another post for another time. 
I like the alternating pastel checkout stations in this store; clearly a product of the mid-century. 
Remember riding shotgun and sans safety restraints in the back of your mom's station wagon? Those were the days. 
Imagine if you saw a grocery store display today dedicated to cigarettes? I'm not sure why there is a chef helping to promote the Marlboros, but I get a kick out of what I assume is the store manager, puffing away.
This photo was taken in the late 1940s. I don't know what I am more amazed by--the fact that a woman is wearing shorts in public at a time when it really wasn't that popular yet to do so...or the prominence of her lady lumps. 
I don't recall a supermarket that had a special pick up area. I hope they're not picking up goodies for a Superbowl party, because I can't imagine that VW Beetle can hold much food, with an engine in the rear trunk and the spare tire under the hood. 
This is quite possibly one of the most impressive store displays I've ever seen; clearly, this clerk holds a degree in structural engineering. 
Cookie Monster just had an orgasm. 
I wonder how many people today would jump the chance to win a beach ball. 
"Can I interest you in our processed meat specials?"
Kind of nice to see the husband/father shopping with his entire family here.
59 cents a pound for pot roast! It's also interesting to see a woman back then working the deli department--you think management might have been concerned we could slice one of our fingers off. 
Old timey Halloween display. I can't tell if these women are dressed for the holiday or if this was their regular wardrobe. 
Remember when soda was sold in glass bottles?
Wow. Her shopping list had just about every consumer food brand of the 70s covered. There's not a single fruit or vegetable to be found. And she's writing out a check!

REBEAT Magazine is Here!


I have some exciting news to share with my dear readers. Earlier this summer, a friend and fellow blogger/writer reached out to me and several other writer friends about a new digital blog/magazine that she was launching. The destination would cover the music spectrum from the 1950s through the 1970s (give or take a decade on either end of the spectrum) but also pop culture, movies, and lifestyle--you name it--from the mid 20th century. Best of all, my friend Allison wanted us writers to each have our own voice and viewpoints that would help make her online magazine unique. That new magazine, friends, is called REBEAT!

In case you're wondering if REBEAT is going to overtake Go Retro, no need to panic. Rest assured, Go Retro isn't going anywhere. There are always going to be pieces that will seem more appropriate for this blog and the wonderful wide world of retro pop culture has given me plenty of fodder to write about. I will, of course, be sure to let you know here when a new REBEAT article has been posted, and my bio on REBEAT mentions this blog, so it's a win-win situation. 

Eventually we hope that REBEAT will have its own little "rec room" of sorts (complete with shag carpeting to sink your toes into) that will be like a spinoff of Go Retro. Right now, our goal is to attract an audience and build readership. I'm excited because it's additional writing experience that I can add to my resume. 

Please have a look at my very first piece for the magazine, Paul is Alive...Kiss Him, Kiss Him...in which I dispel the Paul McCartney death hoax that sadly, is still believed today. Let me know either here or there what you think! REBEAT also has a Facebook page so give us a like while you're at it. 

More retro fun and insights coming soon, both here and at REBEAT!

Sleazy Car Dealership Commercials From Yesteryear


I just bought a new car, a bright red 2014 Jetta with some nice bells and whistles that was marked down by $4,000 to make room on the lot for the 2015s. And yet I can't help but feel that I still got hosed--just a bit. 

The car I'm trading tomorrow in is in decent shape; a 2003 Honda Accord with 126,000 miles and a V6 engine, sunroof, and leather seats. I always had it serviced according to the maintenance schedule. Everything still runs and operates it except for the digital radio display which was replaced twice under the extended warranty but burned out a third time when the warranty expired. According to Kelly Blue Book, I should have received about $4,000 for it, even with its scrapes and small rust spots. The dealer even asked me how much I was hoping to get for it. But the value they offered was almost half that KBB value. They reasoned it by saying that had the Jetta been selling for its original price, I would have received the full value for it. But because it is on sale, that's the best they could do. 

It sounded like a bunch of malarky to me, but I had already been to another dealer I wasn't crazy about, and had a hard time finding this specific trim with a sunroof, cream interior, and an outside color I liked. I wasn't about to visit every VW dealer within 50 miles to find the best deal, or someone else might have snatched up the car.  

Of course, it doesn't end there when you buy a vehicle. There's sales tax--which in my case, living in Massachusetts equated to over an additional $1,000--documentation fees, and then the fun additional coverage stuff the finance department tries to push onto you in the back room, not to mention insurance and my state's annual excise tax. (I opted for an extended bumper to bumper warranty, but passed on key replacement and paint protection.)

Long story short, I am wondering if car buying back in the day (as in the 1950s and 60s) was as stressful and hard on the wallet. My father would keep his cars for three or four years during this time, then trade them in for a newer and different model. I don't recall hearing him complain about being nickled and dimed. 

But that doesn't mean that sleazy car dealers didn't exist. The proof is in this roundup of vintage dealership commercials found online...

Holy &*$%! You won't believe the &^#$@!^ language in this old car commercial!

It turns out this was a blooper take of the commercial, done just for laughs. We can all breath a sign of relief that the kiddies were not subjected to his colorful language for real.

"Did we fool you, Daddy?" "Yep, honey...just like I fool the suckers who think they're getting a great deal!"

I wonder how much she got for the trade-in value on her horse. Side note...that fellow in the freeze frame above reminds me of Dennis Farina. 

Ernie Boch was a local celebrity in his own here in the Boston area and became known for his catchphrase, "Come on down!" His son, who now runs the franchise, is even more annoying, and his dealerships have the crappiest Yelp reviews.

Yep, I always assess the rearview mirror when researching cars. They have to be large enough for me to properly apply my makeup. 

Whatever Happened To...the American Vacation?


July is almost over...have you taken a summer vacation yet this year? If not, do you plan to? 

I bring it up because in recent months there's been some news in the media about how Americans typically only use half of the annual vacation time that they're entitled to. Everyone knows by now that we're the most overworked nation compared to the rest of the world (and one of the unhappiest.) We receive less vacation time, on average, compared to our European and Asian counterparts. And for some reason, we're afraid to take advantage of what piddly amount of paid days off we're lucky to get. I have known people who never took a vacation. When I asked one of them why one day, they said something about how difficult it would be on their boss because he wouldn't have anyone to depend on or do their work while they was away (did he ever hear of temp agencies?) In other words, this person seemed scared to ask or to simply tell him in advance that they were taking one. They never booked a trip, despite telling me they always wanted to visit Europe. It's a little sad. Every full-time worker is entitled to vacation time. But judging by recent articles I've seen, this behavior doesn't seem to be all that unusual.

I think part of the problem is our constantly-connected society. Our parents and grandparents, during their career heydays, didn't have the Internet or smartphones. They weren't expected to check in during their time away to make sure everything in the office was running smoothly and that they weren't needed. They assumed that it was, or that the manager was astute enough to make sure he/she had the coverage. Today, even if a manager insists that someone shouldn't log into email during a week or two off, there's always that unsteady, unspoken feeling that you should still make the effort--even if you're in Bora Bora on your honeymoon. 

Growing up, my father always took two weeks off in June or July, and he always looked forward to that time--not because he disliked his job or wasn't loyal to his company--but because he truly enjoyed spending time with his family. I have many fond memories of daytrips we'd take to the White Mountains, Canobie Lake Park, and other local New England attractions. I can't say that those memories would be quite so sweet had he been on the phone or a computer with his employer every day to make sure some emergency didn't need to be dealt with. 

At the last company I worked at, vacation was encouraged. Vacation time didn't roll over the first few years I worked at the company, so you had to use it or lose it. After a few years you could roll over part of it. A few years later, and the number of hours you could roll over increased. Could it be they no longer cared about people using vacation time and decided if they wanted to work through the year and delay it, that was the employee's prerogative?

The same survey I linked to in the first paragraph found that not only are Americans passing up their vacation time, but 61% actually work while on vacation. One-in-four was contacted by a colleague for a work-related matter during their time off, and one-in-five was contacted by their boss. Wow. No wonder taking vacations in 2010s America has become sort of unpopular. 

Everyone needs time to recharge, otherwise they risk burning out and that does not benefit the employee or the employer. I hope that a day will come when American corporations catch up with other nations in dolling out more generous annual vacation time, encourage their workers to take it, and not expect them to keep tabs on office projects and developments while they are away. Anything else just seems like a recipe for a nervous breakdown. 

New REBEAT Magazine Article Posted: Disco Demolition Night

It's a Method of...Old School Love: Go Retro's Retro Guide to Dating


I can't tell you how many times I started this blog post only to scrap it. Dating is such a touchy and confusing subject to me, so let me just start by saying the first thing that comes to mind when I think about dating: it sucks. It more than sucks, actually. It blows. Especially dating in the 21st century.

 Perhaps if I became an adult in another era, I'd feel differently about dating. In some ways, our parents and grandparents had it easier. There was no technology or dating sites/apps to be found. Instead, people met other people in person. They went to big band dance halls, bars, bowling alleys, roller skating rinks and baseball games. They made eye contact. They smiled. They flirted. Sometimes a friend or coworker would introduce them to someone interesting...because back in the day, it seems lots of people knew single people who were interesting. Maybe the marriage was even pre-arranged. The only bad thing was, women often felt the pressure to get married by a certain age lest end up an old maid. And if things went sour once they were married, divorce was frowned upon. So many unhappy people stuck it out in unhappy marriages, for the sake of their kids and their reputation. But for the most part, at least meeting someone kind and attractive enough to date seemed like a cinch. 

Today? Good grief. I read a couple of sites written by dating coaches and I can never say I feel any better about dating after reading the comments left by many of my fellow single comrades. Guys don't seem to have it any easier; earlier tonight I read a comment left by a young man who was very disheartened that the beautiful, intelligent woman he met on Tinder and made out with vanished on him without a trace. Here's what he had to say:

I'm turning 32 next month. Apparently from what some of my 22yr old friends say, kissing someone means nothing these days. Im old school..I dont lock lips unless I see fit and she's worth my effort to pursue her…but I guess times have changed? Apparently now its "sleeping together’" for it to mean anything significant..and even THEN it could still mean nothing, just a fling.

Dating in your 30s isnt what its cracked up to be. Where are all the women who want a good man with a stable career who knows what he wants out of life? Seems like in Long Island they dont exist. :( 

It seems the sexual revolution of the 1960s, while a great thing initially, now seems to have gone so far off the deep end as so many people think nothing of hooking up with a new person they barely know. 

My biggest complaint with so-called modern dating are the numerous sites and apps that are marketed to supposedly help people find a long-term, meaningful relationship. Tinder, that the young man above used, pulls in Facebook profiles and shows the app user other supposedly single people within a specified radius. The problem is Tinder quickly gained a reputation as a hook-up app, which is how it was used by athletes during the winter Olympics, who apparently weren't fazed by the possibility of contracting the clap from a cute Swedish bobsledder. 

I've tried a few different online dating sites through the years with lackluster results. To be honest, I really don't like online dating...but will go back on a site because I can't see any other possibility of how to meet men. That's always been a mistake. The last time I was on one, which was OKPutrid OKCupid earlier this year, I received messages from guys young enough to be my son (if I had a son) who flat-out asked for sexual flings, a message from a woman belonging to a polyamorous couple who wanted me to experiment with them (I guess I was supposed to be flattered?) and a message from a blind man who asked me very specific questions about my hair. What color was it, how long was it, and could I describe the texture?

Yeeeeaaah. OK, I don't dislike online dating. I loathe it. To be fair, I do know of two women who had success with it--one of whom is now getting married to the man she met online. But the majority of people of people I know who have tried it had experiences similar to mine--or worse; they met people who looked drastically different in person vs. online because they used ancient photos and/or lied about how they presented themselves, both appearance an character-wise. Even worse...those who dated someone for a period of time only to find out that they were married. 

The other reason I hate it is because it has made people lazy , socially inept, and dissatisfied even when they find themselves with a quality person. Maybe a better person is around the corner? they ask themselves. And they go back online and keep searching. 

Ugh. What's a single person to do, other than adopt numerous cats and spend their free time watching Downton Abbey? (Or, for us Go Retro fans, Three's Company.) Well my friends, that's why it's high time I present what I call Go Retro's Retro Guide to Dating. This blog post is long overdue. It's time for many people to take a back-to-basics approach to dating, because this technology-addicted society is not doing us any favors. Granted, this advice is already well known among those of us who have our s*it together in the dating arena. However, if I can get even just one misguided soul who is making other people extremely uncomfortable in their presence see their misguided ways and inject a little old school common sense into their dating life...well, then my job is done here. I'll kick back on my shag rug with a martini and call it a successful day. 

Here we go. 

Learn the art of conversation. 
Who would have thought that in the year 2014 we need instructions on how to talk to other people? Yet I fear that texting and conducting any kind of social interaction online is causing us to lose major amounts of cells in the area of the brain that deals with conversation...as in speaking out loud to another person in person. As a result, when they're out and about in the real world they don't know how to converse with other people. I've met guys in Meetup groups and at speed dating events who simply sat and stared at me without saying a word. It was up to me to introduce myself, ask them their name, and begin the conversation. Do you know how creepy and unsettling it is to have someone stare at you and literally be at a loss for words? I believe that anyone can learn the art of conversation, and it really is not rocket science. Ask a person friendly--but not too nosy--questions about themselves, and respond with something about yourself. Don't interrupt them when they're speaking; wait until they finish. Keep politics and religion taboo subjects until you get to know a person better. Nod and smile once in a while when they're talking, and give them personal space--don't stand right next to them and move closer again when they take a step back. 

Don't even think about dating if you're not actually single and/or your life is screwed up. 
These are the people who have no business dating. I don't get why so many people do this. A man will be "recently separated" from his wife and the first thing he does is put a profile up on Match.com. Why? Why should another woman get dragged into your drama? Wait until the divorce papers are signed and dry. If life is currently complicated by matters that can be fixed and you know you must fix them, then DON'T DATE until they're over and behind you. 

Remember that you must love yourself first before anyone else can love you. 
It sounds so cliched, but it's so true. No one else can truly make you happy--you are responsible for your own happiness. That means learning how to be happy even if you're single and aching for someone special in your life. Start with the special someone you see in the mirror everyday. Treat yourself kindly, and treat yourself to something nice once in a while if your budget allows it: a cup of cappuccino, a new pair of shoes, a facial, etc. Think kind thoughts about yourself and focus on your positive qualities. Make a mental inventory list everyday of what you do have in your life to be grateful for and don't give any attention to what you feel is missing. 

It worked for Molly Ringwald because she already knew the guy!
Online dating is not the be-all and do-all. 
Seriously, it's not. Don't let any dating "expert" tell you otherwise. They're just perpetuating everyone's social aloofness. Use online dating as one way to meet someone, but don't think of it as the only way. Join social and specific interest groups, such as those listed with Meetup. Take a class in something you've always wanted to learn, travel with a group, or try a new hobby/sport/exercise that puts you into contact with other people. And remember that it's possible to meet someone anywhere that other people happen to be--the grocery store, the gas station, your office parking lot. Yes, it could happen.

If you're going to have an active online dating profile, don't be a Pinocchio!
For crying out loud, don't lie on your online dating profile, especially about the basics: age, height, weight, etc. If you lie drastically about these things online, there's no way you're hiding it in person, and that just makes you look deceitful. Don't be listing your height as 5'8" if you're 5'6". Not only that, but why would you think anyone will give you a chance at a second date if you can't be truthful about the physical details? 

Put down that *%$ing piece of technology and make eye contact with other people already!
It's bad enough seeing people walking down the street with their head down, staring at their phone, but if I hear another story about people sitting down at a bar only to whip out their mobile phone to play with, I'll lose it. Yet, this is what is happening all over the country. It's like Linus' security blanket or something. I can understand if you need to check something quick on your phone, especially if you're waiting for another person to arrive. However, what's the point of going out if you're single only to ignore your surroundings for the whole evening? Again, we are losing our ability to communicate--and that includes eye contact and other body language--because of our dependence on technology. 

Learn how to flirt. 
Again, eye contact and smiling. Most men won't approach a woman unless they see some kind of signal that it's OK to do so. A genuine smile, a friendly expression, and lingering eye contact usually does the trick. Even more so when accompanied by "hello" (if you're within speaking distance.) Guys: this is your clue to approach, if it wasn't obvious (another common complaint in the dating scene seems to be that men won't approach women anymore.)

Learn how to dress appropriately. 
You can always refer to a recent blog post I did on this very topic, but try to show up for a date looking pulled together and wearing flattering clothing. Leave the shorts, baggy chino pants, and t-shirts with logos, graphics, or sayings on them at home. And ladies...be mindful of anything your clothing might be revealing (cleavage, too much leg way above the knees, etc.) Wear something flattering and sexy that shows off your figure to be sure, but leave a little something up to his imagination. 

Gentlemen: show some chivalry on a date. Hold the door open for her.
We love it. Yes, there are some strange women who would call it sexist. Personally, I do not. I call it being a gentleman. By the way, there's something to be said for courting...women still do like to be wooed. That means planning dates, getting to know the other person, remembering their likes and dislikes and bringing flowers on occasion. 

Ladies: act like one to get treated like one.
Getting drunk in clubs and posting the photos on Facebook is so...well, 2014. You may attract men that way but you won't necessarily attract gentlemen. 

Did you ask her out? Then pay for the d*mned date!
Remarkably, this behavior from men is something I'm hearing about more and more these days. A woman gets asked out for a meal by a man...and then they're stuck with half of the bill or worse, the man flat-out refuses to reach for the check. I have no problem with a woman splitting or paying for a date after it's been established by both parties that they're actually in a relationship, but when it comes to courting, call me archaic, but I believe the man should still pay. 

Don't do the horizontal tango on the first date.
It's an odd conundrum: for all the cheap, quickie sex people seemed to be having in the 1970s, they still got married. Today it seems a lot of people just want to have a good time with a different person every weekend for the rest of their fertile years. 

I say be old fashioned. Everyone seems to be hopping into the sack right away these days; why not go against the crowd? I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me. They're screaming "how dare she judge me!" right now. Honestly, if you want to have sex with someone on the first date that's your business. However, your chances of seeing them again if you're after a relationship with them are kind of slim. I'm not a prude, but if you want someone to respect you and get to know you as a person first, then the both of you need to wait. If you're afraid saying "no" is going to cause a person to never contact you again, then so be it. You just weeded out someone who is not the right one for you. And if you do have sex--whether it's on the first or the tenth date--be sure you're using protection that will protect you from STDs and pregnancy (unless getting pregnant is what you both want. (Notice that I didn't say, "unless getting an STD is what you both want.") 

There are some things you should never, ever do via text. Breaking up is one of them.
Talk about taking the coward's way out. I'm also not a fan of being asked out via text, either. Email is marginally better but a telephone is best. I want to hear a man's voice! 

Some final words of advice...remember that anything good usually happens when you are not expecting it. You need to determine the type of partner and relationship with them that you want, write it down, and let it go. Live your life and enjoy it. The right person will surface when it is right. Love is a battlefield, so soldier on, my fellow singles! 

Movie Review: Little Sweetheart (1989)


Once in a while you come across an older movie so mesmerizing in its own independent little way that it trumps anything currently playing in the theater, particularly those so-called blockbusters weighed down with special effects. Such was the thought that came to mind as I watched Little Sweetheart, which was released in 1989, and starring my favorite British actor, John Hurt. Hurt's big film that same year was Scandal, a biopic about England's Profumo affair. It received a lot of buzz in the States because of is controversial orgy scene. Little Sweetheart contains scenes that might be considered more controversial yet has clearly been overlooked because I didn't become aware of it until a few years ago, and I'm awfully glad that someone uploaded it to YouTube. It really is a gem. 

The lead character in Little Sweetheart is Thelma, as played by Cassie Barasch. Thelma is just about to turn 9 years old as the movie begins. She lives with her mother; her father has passed away (a detail reveled within the first few minutes that made me unsure if we were supposed to feel sympathetic towards Thelma for what she is about to do.) To say that Thelma is a brat would be an understatement. She's also a psychopath which becomes more blatantly clear as the movie goes on. When she snoops on her older brother and discovers him having sex with a girl, she blackmails him into giving her money to keep quiet. She is incredibly manipulative, nosy, a liar, makes her own rules and has an attitude problem to boot. You know that old saying about how little girls are "made of sugar and spice and everything nice?" This movie is going to make you forget all that. And you're going to hate her as much as I did. 

Thelma and her mother are living--or perhaps vacationing--in a beach house in Florida. She is soon introduced to another girl her age named Elizabeth (played by Ellie Raab) who has moved in next door for the summer with her father (who introduces himself as Harry Harrison...snickers.) Thelma doesn't exactly warm up to Elizabeth right away but they end up hanging out at a local restaurant that day and become friends. 

It's in the restaurant that Thelma and Elizabeth cross paths with Robert and Dorothea, as played by Hurt and Karen Young. They're a Bonnie and Clyde couple on the lamb after embezzling money in a bank scam and are hoping to lie low in a vacation home until the interest in their crime dies down. Of course, Thelma and Elizabeth aren't aware of this at first--they think Robert and Dorothea are just a vacationing married couple, and they help them locate their rented beach home called the Sandcastle (by willingly hopping into the backseat of their car when Robert offers them a ride--wow.) Dorothea is less than thrilled about the two girls chatting them up and the tension at times between her and Thelma in this movie is a like a rubber band, ready to snap. 

Thelma soon figures out that Robert and Dorothea are not married, as she points out to Elizabeth that Robert wasn't wearing a wedding band. Later that night, the two girls sneak around the Sandcastle property and are spotted by Robert, but run away. The next day, at Thelma's birthday party, Robert shows up with a gift for her--a camera, as she had told him the day before it was what she wanted. She lets on to Robert that she caught him in a lie, and he takes the two girls aside and feeds them a story about him and Dorothea being reporters who are working on a big, top secret story and that they must not tell anybody. 

This feeds Thelma's curiosity, and she and Elizabeth take to constantly sneaking around Sandcastle and spying on the couple. Then the two little creeps follow the couple down onto the beach, where they spot them making love. Thelma takes out her camera and begins to snap pictures. 

Before I go any further, it should be noted that to me, Thelma seemed to have a crush on Robert and is very jealous of Dorothea. She starts bad mouthing Dorothea, saying that even the fishermen probably saw her. After her older brother develops the film for her (much to his disgust) Thelma shows them to Elizabeth and cooks up a blackmail plot. The girls send Robert one of the photos along with a ransom note created from words in a newspaper demanding that he leave $100 in dollar bills in his car, to be picked up near a pharmacy in town. 

Dorothea freaks out when Robert shows her the letter and the photo, and insists that Thelma is behind the plot. Robert thinks that she is being ridiculous (Thelma is only 9 years old, after all, and harmless.) On his way into town to the pharmacy, he encounters the two schemers walking along the road. Thelma and Elizabeth tell him they're going shopping and he gives them a ride into town. 

Robert settles into a restaurant across the street from his car to see who the blackmailer is when Elizabeth shows up. She constantly distracts him by blocking his view out the window, playing with the curtain, and spilling a glass of Coke onto the floor. Suddenly Thelma comes running in, says she saw an African American man going into Robert's car, and Robert takes off in pursuit of the suspect she points out. She later lifts her skirt to reveal the envelope containing $100 to Elizabeth, tucked behind her panties. 

By now you may be wondering where the hell are these girls' parents? Who lets a 9 year old girl leave the house and do what she pleases all day? And yep, you are correct. Thelma's mother and Elizabeth's parents are boneheads. But you also have to remember that the movie was made during the 80s, when kids often earned their freedom at a fairly young age. But, still...boneheads!

And it gets worse. The girls enter Robert and Dorothea's rented house through an unlocked window, and are snooping around when they discover a newspaper article about their crime, and Robert's handgun and ammunition. Thelma takes to the gun like a fish in water, grabbing the bullets and even pointing the gun at Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth still has a conscious, however, and talks Thelma into returning the money to Robert along with an apology. At first, Thelma agrees, but then decides she doesn't want to go along with her idea. Considering she's in possession of the gun (which she now carries around in her purse) this leads to very dire consequences...first for Elizabeth, and then for other characters in the film. 

As kids we were always taught not to talk to adult strangers. Little Sweetheart turns that notion upside down on its head--it's the kids who are the bad guys you cannot trust in this tale. As morally polluted Robert and Dorothea may be, their crimes are nothing compared to what the seriously twisted Thelma is capable of. She reminds me of the girls who started the witch hysteria of the 17th century, and I found myself wanting to stick my hands into my laptop's screen and strangle her. What's maddening is that Thelma never suffers any consequences for her actions (although there is a plot development at the end that could lead to vindication.) She's viewed throughout the movie by everyone (except for Dorothea) as an innocent kid who could never harm a fly, simply because she's 9 years old. 

One of the reasons I love Hurt so much is because he's equally adept at playing villains as he is playing victims. In Little Sweetheart, we know that he is supposed to be a bad guy but ends up a victim. He comes across as the nicest and most naive character, and ultimately the one most worthy of our sympathy. 

And as much as I disliked her character, I must admit I was bowed over by Cassie Barasch's performance as the diabolical Thelma. Remarkably, it doesn't appear that she acted again after making Little Sweetheart according to IMDB.com. There is a Cassie Barasch Ford coming up on Google but I have no idea if it's her. Ellie Raab would go on to secure parts in The Fabulous Baker Boys and The Ref.

This BBC produced film was based on a 1970s novel called "The Naughty Girls" which took place in France; the movie obviously takes place in the U.S. and was filmed on St. George's Island in Florida. 

I don't believe that Little Sweetheart is available on DVD, so I suggest watching it on YouTube before it's taken down. Here's part 1 of 9 below. 

New REBEAT Magazine Article Posted: 10 Criminally Underrated Beatles Songs


It's Beatles week on REBEAT Magazine as some members of the staff are gearing up for the Chicago Beatlefest this weekend, so in keeping with the week's theme of all things Fab Four, here's a little list I pulled together of 10 underrated Beatles songs. Yeah, yeah, yeah...it's a very subjective list (and really, could have been stretched easily to 20 tunes), but click on the image above to read it, and let me know which ones you would have included. Have a great Friday, everyone!

Whatever Happened To...Rick Moranis?

If you were watching movies in the '80s then surely you remember Rick Moranis, the lovable nerdy guy who enjoyed a terrific film career throughout the decade, appearing in Ghostbusters, Little Shop of Horrors, Parenthood, Spaceballs, Strange Brew, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. It was while watching Parenthood on cable a few weeks ago that I realized that Moranis hasn't seemingly appeared on the big screen for nearly 20 years...so it was time to do a little investigating. 

Moranis' movie legacy is bittersweet. Of course, most of us know that he hails from Canada and got his start on Second City Television alongside friend and fellow actor/writer Dave Thomas. The two pals would soon become known for their Great White North sketches featuring the characters of Bob and Doug McKenzie. Prior to that, Moranis worked as a radio DJ and was persuaded by Thomas to join SCTV as a comedy writer and performer. After the success of Strange Brew in 1983, which featured the McKenzie brothers on the big screen, Hollywood offered several more plummy comedy roles to Moranis throughout the decade. 

Then in 1991, Moranis' wife died from cancer, leaving him to raise their two young children alone. That's when Moranis slowly started to extradite himself from acting so he could focus on being a full-time, stay at home dad. He did star as Barney Rubble (with a blonde wig and without his trademark specs) in 1994's The Flintstones, and alongside Tom Arnold in 1997's Big Bully, which was a certifiable flop. Since the mid-90s, Moranis has done voiceover work mostly for children's television programs, and starred in a 1993 music video for a song by Donald Fagen of Steely Dan called Tomorrow's Girls, in which he is married to a female alien. 

Moranis emerged from his private life last year to give an interview to NPR's Jesse Thorn and revealed that he had, indeed, pretty much retired from acting. He explained why it was easy for him to walk away from Hollywood: 

“Stuff happens to people everyday, and they make adjustments to their lives for all kinds of reasons. There was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did, I think the reason that people were intrigued by the decisions I was making and sometimes seem to have almost admiration for it had less to do with the fact that I was doing what I was doing and more to do with what they thought I was walking away from, as if what I was walking away from had far greater value than anything else that one might have. The decision in my case to become a stay-at-home-Dad, which people do all the time, I guess wouldn’t have meant as much to people if I had had a very simple kind of make-a-living existence and decided I needed to spend more time at home. Nobody would pay attention to it, but because I came from celebrity and fame and what was the peak of a career, that was intriguing to people. To me, it wasn’t that. I didn’t have anything to do with that. It was work, and it was just time to make an adjustment.”

Moranis doesn't regret his decision at all, and of course he's to be applauded. He went on to say in the interview that his own childhood was a happy one, and he wanted his kids to have that experience, too:

“When my kids came home, there was music, and there were lights on, and there were great smells coming out of the kitchen. And it was just a joyful place to be, and that’s what I wanted.”

Last year Moranis also released a comedy album, My Mother's Brisket & Other Love Songs, about growing up Jewish. He has also weighed in about the possibility of a third Ghostbusters movie, and if his character Louis Tully might make an appearance in it:

"I haven’t talked to Dan Aykroyd about it. Somebody he’s associated with called me and I said, ‘I wouldn’t not do it, but it’s got to be good.’ You know, I’m not interested in doing anything I’ve already done, and I thought the second one was a disappointment. But I guess I’m interested in where that guy is now. I sort of see him as being Bernie Madoff’s cellmate in jail. Both of them being so orderly that they race to get up and make their beds.”

It's good to know that he's doing well. 
Rick Moranis in 2013

Suddenly, Everyone Today is An Artist


Over the weekend I watched a lovely indie film released in 2009 called Local Color. It was based on the true story in the early '70s of an aspiring teenage artist who develops a friendship with a reluctant and rather coarse Russian artist, Nikolai Serov, as played by Armin Mueller-Stahl. Let me say right now that anyone who is a painter--and by painter, I mean those who can actually create something meaningful with paint on canvas WITHOUT the assistant of a paint bar (more on those in a minute)--should make this film required viewing. Seriously, make a point of renting this one from your local library because you will probably relate to a lot of what Mueller-Stahl's character says in the movie about creating art. It's also a wonderful coming-of-age story. 

From the film Local Color. Now that's more like it.
Besides that, the movie is pretty funny at times and there were two scenes that I thought were absolutely hilarious. The first is when  Serov is invited to judge a local art exhibition by his flamboyant art gallery owner friend, as portrayed by Ron Perlman (Beauty and the Beast) like you've never seen him before. As Serov meanders through the never-ending examples of head-scratching pieces of garbage passing for modern works for art, he grows increasingly frustrated and (before letting out a slew of expletives) finally declares the fan the only thing in the room that makes sense, slapping the blue ribbon onto it before leaving. 

The second scene is when Serov is showing the same friend a series of paintings that were done by mentally challenged children that he mentors--and is more and more amused as his friend praises the blobs of blue and red paint for their "anger" and "pain" like they were recently discovered masterpieces.

Which brings me to this "paint bar" craze that has popped up all over the U.S. in the past 5 years or so. To be perfectly blunt, if the real-life Serov (whose real name was George Cherepov) have lived long enough to witness this fad, he would have labeled it the nasty word that means ca-ca. In case you don't know what a paint bar is, it's an art studio where you reserve a date and time (which usually costs about $40) and the instructor gives you a limited amount of paint colors, and step-by-step instructions over the course of an hour or so on how to recreate the painting. Oh, they usually tell you to bring your own bottle of wine, so you can get sloshed during the session--I assume to distract yourself from how terrible your painting is, or delude yourself into thinking that you are an artiste (said in a French accent.)

How is this any different than the paint-by-numbers kits that were popular in the '70s...depicting Elvis...on velvet?

I know, I sound like a snob. But I have every right to be. My mother is a very talented painter--having worked with oil paints her whole life, and other members of my family were artists. I took painting classes in high school and college, so I can tell you that one does not become a talented painter in an hour. It takes years of dedicated practice. 

To be fair, some paintings offered by these gimmicky paint bars are much better than others. You can scroll through a website and choose which image you wish to duplicate, and I have seen some that approach professionalism. More often than not, however, these are cartoonish paintings that look like a child created them. I wish I could show one but many are copyrighted and I don't want to link to any paint bar. But for example, I saw one featuring two jumbled faces in a variety of awful colors you could choose to make that was called Paint Like Picasso. You get my drift. 

I do think paint bars are a wonderful way for people with little aptitude for creativity to dip their toes into art. However, after a certain point, if one really loves it so much why not try the real thing? I've known people who got addicted to paint bars and kept going back...kept paying $40 a pop for yet another awful looking creation. Why would you want anyone to think your 6 year-old nephew did the wall art for your living space? If you're willing to spend that much money, why not use it to buy some paints, brushes, and canvases at the local Michael's store, and then invest in a good instructional book on painting to elevate your skills? Or just head on over to YouTube, where the instruction is plentiful and FREE?

I mainly see these places as another sign of our instant gratification-dependent society (and one that rejoices in giving a medal to every child, because everyone is talented.) I really can't see how you can gather any sense of accomplishment after a visit from a paint bar, because they're not challenging enough. Wouldn't you rather stretch your mind and problem solving abilities by trying to duplicate a painting without the basic instruction? That's how one learns. 

It's like comparing a fast food meal to a gourmet, home-cooked one. When you're hungry, you can quench your appetite pretty quickly with McDonald's, but you may not feel so good afterwards about the sub-par ingredients you put into your body. Or you can crack open a cookbook and learn to make a healthy meal using your own hands. Which is ultimately more satisfying? 

The only real benefit I see to paint bars are the social aspect, and I get that. But paint bars seem like an insult to real artists who invested in years of work and dedication to reach the level they are at. When you watch those instructional artists on PBS, they're demonstrating different techniques with their brushes--the kid of tips you'll never pick up from a paint bar. I bet Bob Ross and Bill Alexander are turning over in their graves from this darned craze. 

Well, I guess I've bashed paint bars enough. All of this talk has kind of inspired me to dig out my oils and an empty canvas...but I'll leave the bottle of Riesling in the fridge. 

Mother's Little Helper: Vintage Drug Ads Aimed at Women


Something I've discovered recently is how many prescription anti-anxiety drugs were marketed towards women or their husbands back in the day, to ensure that housekeeping duties would not fall by the wayside. I guess it makes sense...as women became desperate housewives they had to deal with the stresses of keeping the house clean, getting the kids off to school and shuttled to extracurricular activities, and making sure a hot meal was waiting for their husband when he got home. Then as woman entered the workforce, they had to deal with a job on top of all of that. No problem, just take the little lady to the doc's to get a prescription for Butisol, Thorazine, or that old standby, Valium, and your kitchen floor will be shining again in no time. We've come a long way, baby...I think? Let's have a look...

Set her free? Are you holding her hostage in your own home?

Those demanding brats have got her battered, alright. I have a better solution instead of Miltown: it's called a playpen. 

What's with the giant hand? Just kinda creepy. 

Boo hoo, grandma can't bake us ungrateful brats pies anymore; let's put her on Ritalin. 

Another unclean house, another bottle of Ritalin prescribed. 

This was the worst model choice for this product and ad. That lady doesn't look the least bit like she's suffering from anxiety and depression--look at the telling smirk on her face. She looks like everyone's oversexed aunt who just returned from a cruise to Aruba where she flirted with the 20-something cabin boys! Furthermore, I bet she smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day which helps her cope with any anxiety just fine.

Now she can make sure you're nourished again before leaving for the office, especially as you're too lazy and clueless to cook bacon and eggs yourself. 

Because heaven forbid those popovers would come out of the oven uneven, jumpy nerves and all. 

Beer? Now that's my kind of medicine. 

I can't tell if the copy says the guys or the gays judge you. If she's making a fashion faux pas, then it's the gays...definitely the gays. 

And...jumping jiminy cricket! This is one of the scariest ads I've ever seen and frankly, racially offensive. It looks like James Brown morphing into Satan. Or maybe it's Aunt Esther from Sanford and Son. "Watch it, sucka!"

Checking in With the Labor Search This Labor Day Weekend


It isn't that often that I deviate from the retro-related observations to post personal stuff on Go Retro but it's been my experience that the few times I have that my readers kind of dig it. I know that I like to get the person behind some of my favorite sites.

So what's today's personal topic about? Well, some of you may know that I was laid off earlier this year from my full-time job...in February, to be exact. For those of you know don't know, I was laid off earlier this year from my full-time job...in February, to be exact (giggles.)

The good news is I've been staying really positive through this particular tussle with unemployment. This isn't my first rodeo...it's my fourth. Do you think maybe the universe is trying to send me a message about seeking employment in corporate America?

Anyways, being that it's Labor Day weekend, I thought I'd do a little self check and update everyone on what I've been up to for the past seven months.

In all this time, I've only had one in-person interview, with a staffing agency. The interview itself went very well but it was disappointing because I thought I was interviewing for a marketing manager position for a small but growing manufacturing company. The advertised job opening said the person filling the role would be managing their social media channels, helping to name new products and promote them, and write copy for their collateral. It turned out to be nothing more than a copywriter position, for a less-than-exciting company. And the position has been posted on their site pretty much since I've been laid off, and I doubt anyone's been hired for it yet.

But that's not to say that I haven't been staying productive during this time off:

*I continue to manage the social media channels for a small consumer wares company and try to make it fun for their followers (product giveaways, contests, etc.) I also write posts for the company blog and attract PR and good juju for them through Twitter. I don't want to name them because the last time I did, the managers saw it in a Google alert and while I said only good things, it was still a little embarrassing. If you want to know who they are, just send me a private email.

*I got a (non-paying) writing gig with REBEAT Magazine, which is a lot of fun.

*I managed to get a paying writing gig through Craiglist, for a company that populates content sites with those slideshows accompanied by descriptive captions. I compile the photos and write the captions. It pays a few dollars per gallery depending upon the length, and you can pick and choose the ones that interest you. Hey, I'll take it...I have already made a few extra bucks and plan on cranking them out once my unemployment runs out. 

*I was a background extra, playing a nurse in a German TV miniseries that's been filming in my state over the summer. Last year I was a background extra in the upcoming Denzel Washington film The Equalizer and that was a little more exciting and lucrative, but the German miniseries gig was closer to my home and fun, easy money for one day of work. Apparently the Germans are really big on corny romance novels by a British writer named Katie Fford whose books get turned into miniseries for the country. Who knew? 

*While I've exercised regularly since my 20s, I vowed when I got laid off that I'd lose the muffin top I had attracted during the past 7 years at my last job, finally tone my abs and would get into really good shape. I ran my first 5K in May in 32 minutes, 23 seconds (a nice symmetrical number) and have lost seven pounds since losing my job...I'm sure that not having nearly daily temptations in the office such as a vending machine, doughnuts, leftover meeting snacks and homemade cookies helped contribute to that loss!

Which brings me to my next point...

When I was younger, I thought from time to time about becoming a model. People told me on occasion that since I was tall and thin and had nice features, I should try. I actually did, signing on with a now-defunct agency in the Boston suburbs. The only job I was ever offered from them was for a hair show, which I actually couldn't participate in since it was short notice and I worked at a hotel at that time, and it would have been impossible to get the day off. I also did local fashion shows for a small bridal shop...for free. So, when too many shows went by without any compensation from the owner, I quit and forgot about the dream.

As I got older, I noticed that older models were starting to become a commodity. More magazine used to run an annual modeling contest for women over 40. I told myself that when I was 40, I would enter it. That never happened because they discontinued it. But after reading articles about women who were able to launch modeling careers after the age of 40, I got really interested in it again. Not every client is seeking 21 year-old women who are six feet tall, weight 120 pounds, and wear a D cup sized bra. There is commercial modeling work...and companies who are promoting products to 40-something and older women want age appropriate people in their ads and materials. 

Now please know that I'm being realistic about the goal. As much as I'd like to make a commercial where I'm driving my Jag through a car wash to shampoo my hair and meet and marry a British rock star, I know that I can't be the next Pattie Boyd. And I'm still job hunting and prepared to take on a part-time position to supplement whatever modeling gigs I can get...or a full-time one again if it doesn't pan out.  

I have no idea if there's any demand for someone like me in an already extremely competitive industry. But I've met women who are shorter than I am and not much younger who gave gotten lucrative modeling work, and some of the women on the site of an agency I really want to work for are a dress size higher than me, older than me, and shorter than me. So I feel like I have nothing to lose, other than the money I shelled out earlier this week for a professional photographer to take photos of me to submit to sites. I think it would be a good experience for me...a chance to meet some new people, a way to work on my confidence, and who knows, maybe some jobs will get me involved in charity events or involved in other ways to help others. 

You only get one time around on the planet (or so I believe, anyway) so I gotta at least try. Who knows, a year or two from now I may be thinking of venturing into something else. And rest assured, Go Retro isn't going anywhere! 

That's the scoop. I hope everyone, whether working or not, is enjoying the Labor Day weekend!

Movie Review: The Girl Most Likely to... (1973)


They treated her like a dog. Now, she's a fox. And she's going to make them pay.

When Joan Rivers passed away last week, lots of people were familiar with her zingy one-liners and her fashion police commentary. Less commonly known may be the fact that she wrote a kind of crazy, but entertaining television movie called The Girl Most Likely to... starring Stockard Channing, which aired on ABC in 1973.

The Girl Most Likely to... is a dark comedy, obviously far-fetched, but once you realize how dark and amusing it is, it's easy to see how it's quintessential Rivers humor--humor that was sometimes self-deprecating, sometimes acerbic towards others. This is a movie that revolves around appearances and looks, and Rivers was obviously very consumed with her own personal appearance, admitting to undergoing plastic surgery as early as right after her daughter Melissa was born ("I had two black eyes and told people the baby punched me in the eyes." she told David Muir on ABC News a few years ago.) 

In The Girl Most Likely to..., Channing plays Mirium Knight, a lonely, dowdy, overweight girl who is struggling to make friends in yet another new college (she has changed schools each time her social life didn't work out.) Channing looks like a homely older sister version of herself, with a large nose, protruding ears, haphazard frizzy hair, and a bulky wardrobe. But the one thing that Mirium is not is shy or socially awkward. She has no problem approaching people and trying to be witty or helpful, and it's painful to watch her get blown off and then increasingly blatantly disrespected throughout the first half of the movie. 

Where to begin? Well, she meets a guy to play pool with when he asks her out unseen (he was calling to originally ask out her blonde bimbo roommate Heidi) and when he sees what she looks like he tries to fake a story that his name is Ed and not Fred. Mirium is persistent, however, so he and his buddies blow her off when he sends her to get cream sodas.

Then she gets stuck tutoring a dimwitted football player, Moose, in Shakespeare. They end up going to a drive-in theater to watch Romeo and Juliet where Mirium gets deserted, again. 

But the worst incident for Mirium occurs when she develops a cold and goes to the campus infirmary where she meets the nerdy Dr. Ted Gates as played by Fred Grady (Gopher of The Love Boat fame.) Dr. Gates spends some time getting to know Mirium and asks her out. He seems like a nice guy--and a good match, considering the other doctors on staff are constantly busting his chops for being young, so Mirium relates to him. But after he tries to go too far on the first date (which takes place in a hospital's operating theater) and Mirium has to force him off of her, she flips on the light switch only to discover in horror that Ted has invited all of his cohorts to watch him put the moves on Mirium. (If this scene were being played out today, the scumbags would have recorded it on their smartphones and uploaded the videos to YouTube.)

And if all of that weren't humiliating enough, Mirium has to endure yet more cruelty when her roommate sabotages her role in a play by taking advantage of Mirium's allergy to roses. 

That's when Mirium drives away distraught in her car and is involved in an accident. The next scene cracked me up, as Mirium's head and upper body is seen swathed in bandages and casts. Her injuries have required plastic surgery and when the bandages are removed, Mirium has been miraculously transformed into the beautiful version of Stockard Channing we're all familiar with. Oh, she also has perfect makeup (gee, that hospital staff sure is multitalented) smooth hair, shaped eyebrows, and has lost of a lot weight...well, I guess we can assume the massive weight loss was from her sipping diet meals for several weeks. Like I said, this is a far-fetched movie but it's also a 1970s made-for-TV movie so I'm sure we can deal with it. 

Life is now also drastically different for Mirium...now that she's a stone cold fox, men practically bump into walls when she passes by. Mirium is still hurt from what all of those a-holes all did to her, and she realizes that she's now at an advantage. That's when she decides to do them all in, one at a time...while Ed Asner, playing a detective, is hot on her trail. 

Now I'm not going to lie to you. As someone who was teased and bullied by classmates growing up, this movie hit a bit of a nerve with me. And I can't say I was sorry for anyone in the film who gets bumped off by Mirium--they all had it coming. I honestly think--apart from wanting to murder anyone--that a lot of people can relate to this movie. It made me wonder if Rivers struggled with bullying growing up and if that's what inspired her to pursue plastic surgery so early on. 

This is a movie that would probably never pass muster for the Hallmark or Lifetime channels today, where all of their fairy tales have happy endings. The Girl Most Likely to... does have a happy ending, though, with a twist. This is definitely a well-done TV movie and the type of story that's great to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon when it's too cold to go outside...because as we all know, revenge is a dish best served cold. 

Here's part 1 of The Girl Most Likely to.... The entire movie can be watched on YouTube. 

For the Love of Train Travel: Thank Goodness Some Things Remain the Same


I've read lots of articles and blog posts in recent years lamenting how awful it is to travel on a commercial airliner these days compared to the golden age of the '60s and '70s. That's because it is, indeed, pretty terrible to fly on an airplane today, and passengers are so fed up they're taking matters into their own hands. Did you hear about the airplane passenger who recently used plastic clamps on the seat in front of him so that the woman sitting in it wouldn't be able to recline back and infringe on his personal space? Yeah, it caused a huge ruckus but can you blame that guy? Forget flying the friendly skies--they just simply do not exist anymore. 

But for all of the comparisons I see writers making about airline travel then and now, it's surprising that no one has mentioned how comfortable and relatively unchanged train travel is compared to flying. I absolutely love riding a train. Granted, taking a train for a long distance isn't that convenient for most people...it can take days to reach a destination compared to hours by flying. But, if you can do it, I think the pros greatly outweigh that one glaring downside. Dare I say it, train travel is nearly just as romantic as it used to be back in its heyday, especially compared to today's typical airport experience.

I was going to rehash my experience during my last trip, but why bother? You all already know what they're like...the long lines to check luggage with unfriendly clerks...another long line for security...the fact that you can't bring food or beverages of your own onto the plane...extra fees for everything from headphones to additional checked bags. Plus a claustrophobic plane ride where five inches of precious space separates your kneecaps from the seat in front of you. 

Instead, I'll recount what my train trips from Boston to New York were like. I park directly at the train station (which has plenty of spaces.) I go into the station which is a quick walk and out to the platform with my bag, with no security line to get through. I can take whatever kind of food, beverages and liquid toiletries I like with me. Inside the train, I can sit wherever I want. The seats are pretty comfortable and I have plenty of overhead space for my bag, as well as room for my legs. I can get up and walk about during any part of the ride. There's a dining car that serves pretty decent food and snacks for reasonable prices. Both passengers and train employees seem fairly relaxed. If the car I'm riding in gets noisy for whatever reason, chances are the train has a "quiet" car where mobile phone usage and crying kids are not allowed. Plus you really can't beat the scenery, depending on where your train is going. The Boston to NYC route takes you through Rhode Island and Connecticut, and it's pretty nice. 

If you need to sleep, it's actually doable on a train; much better than being on a red-eye flight with a screaming baby a couple of rows back (which was my experience once coming back to Boston from San Francisco.)

I don't know why, but riding on a train always make me think of the WWII and post-war eras...maybe it's the Glenn Miller songs "Chattanooga Choo-Choo" and "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo." 

During my last train ride, which was returning to Boston from NYC, a man in the dining car struck up a conversation with me and we ended up chatting for hours. Although nothing came of it (he was married) it does seem like train passengers are easier to talk to and more willing to get into conversations. It must be because they're less stressed.    

Ad via Amtrak: History of America's Railroad
And yet the passenger train system in the U.S. could be in danger. Passenger train travel is unpopular compared to other methods of travel. It just isn't fast and convenient enough for many people. It's not surprising that the Europeans love train travel to visit nearby countries, or other areas of their own country, considering they work less hours than Americans and from what I hear, aren't glued to their mobile devices quite as much. Even on those high speed trains, riding the rails is a savory, patient experience. It sure would be a shame if we lost it here. 

Coming Soon to A Theater Near You: GoRetroPam in The Equalizer


Next week, on September 26, Denzel Washington's new movie The Equalizer opens in theaters. Why should you care and what does this have to do with anything retro? Because there's a chance you might see yours truly as one of the background extras. Oh, and the film does have a sorta retro slant; it's based on the 1980s TV series of the same name.

I've loved movies for as long as I can remember (Jaws was the first film I saw in a theater) and as I got older, developed a deeper appreciation for how they are made. I thought it would be a gas to be an extra in a movie, so I registered with a local casting company last year that works on a lot of feature films. Last summer, they sent out an email looking for people with Eastern European features to play patrons and servers in a Russian restaurant scene in The Equalizer, which was filming in several Massachusetts locations. I emailed a couple of photos and my physical stats to the casting contact and forgot about it. A month later, I received an email notifying me that I was booked to work on the project...the following day! Luckily, I had an understanding boss and boss' boss who knew I was dabbling in show business--earlier in the year I had attended an open casting call for extras for American Hustle and even showed up in '70s attire as requested; one of my Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses and white go-go boots. I didn't get chosen (scoff; doesn't David O. Russell know this blog and who I am? Kidding.) 

No biggie. But I must admit, it was pretty exciting to work on The Equalizer, even if a lot of the day was spent waiting...and waiting...and waiting. Call time was at 6:30 AM in the Downtown Crossing area of the city (yikes...and I am NOT a morning person.) I was nervous as hell, but managed on little sleep. There were a couple of wardrobe people picking two outfits out for each of the "patrons" and then I waited in line to get my hair and makeup taken care of. 

And I'm not sure why, unless the makeup lady clairvoyantly picked up on my hobby, but she put outrageous '70s eye makeup on me; blue and green eyeshadow, heavy eyeliner and fake eyelashes. Oy, these are not great pictures (especially that big selfie of my kisser) but you get the idea.

Washington takes on the Russian mafia in this film, and since I was supposed to be a Russian customer (or maybe I was some mob guy's moll?) I decided to give my "character" a name. Natasha?

Anyways, I was lucky enough to get chosen to go to the set twice (some people picked as extras never actually get to see the set, even though everyone is paid for being booked.) I remember the anticipation of standing outside of the area where they were filming and dying to get a peek inside. It was absolutely amazing to see two large rooms in an obscure building in the city transformed into a dark, heavy, romantic restaurant: there was a huge bar with a "marble" countertop that wrapped all the way around the larger room, tables set with silverware and lamps, and fake food everywhere. In one scene, another female extra and I stood in the back of the restaurant near a dessert display. Each time the camera rolled, we were to turn around and walk out of the restaurants as one of the actors entered the restaurant and came storming past us. During my second time on the set, the same young woman and I approached a makeshift coat room and gave our tickets to the coat room attendee (another extra, of course.) For this scene there was a large mirror facing the coat room and one of the cameramen filmed our reflection. 

Now before you ask, "Did you get to meet Denzel Washington?!?" hold your horses, because he wasn't on the set that day--or if he was, it wasn't in the scenes I was chosen to be in. I was really hoping that we'd be part of a big action sequence...with Denzel's character busting down the doors and shouting, "Everybody get down!" as we screamed and ducked under the tables. bullets flying. A little disappointing--I would have loved to see him in person--but not surprising given he isn't going to be in every scene. Perhaps he had the day off. 

Also not surprising is that movie making really isn't a glamorous career, which I was already aware of. A lot of the work is done by everyone working behind the scenes...not just the director but the entire crew who sets up and dismantles the cameras and recording equipment, set pieces, cables, electrical, etc. It's very much a get-your-hands-dirty profession for those involved in it. I also watched as one extra sitting at a bar was moved by a few inches each time so that body parts, etc. weren't blocking anything that needed to make it on camera. Since a set is practically drenched in hardware, it's fascinating that the crew knows how to film it perfectly so that none of it makes it into a shot. And a scene will be filmed and reviewed many times until it's absolutely perfect. 

I also had a "this just got real moment" when the gay male hair stylist told me after one shot, "Your hair looked gorgeous on monitor two." Then it finally dawned on me that this was Hollywood! 

A day on the set for a typical film or series is usually pretty long; I was there for 14 hours (and lucked out by being paid the union rate, which is a higher pay scale and includes stipulations for meals, wardrobe, smoke machine usage, etc.) 

Also, as extras we're not allowed to speak to anyone actually working on the movie unless they speak to us first. As a background actor, you're basically a living prop, but I did meet and chat with lots of interesting people throughout the day; many had worked as extras for years. 

So next weekend is when I find out if  I've made my big screen movie debut, or if I've ended up on the cutting room floor, so to speak. Either way, I'm grateful for the experience...and yes, I hope to have another opportunity to do it again soon!

Back to The Equalizer, you may remember that the series starred Edward Woodward as a retired intelligence officer helping out people who, for whatever reason, didn't want to notify the police for help ("Odds against you? Need help? Call the Equalizer.") I'll be honest--I don't really recall watching the show, but a lot of now-famous people made early acting appearances on it, including Stanley Tucci, William H. Macy, Chris Cooper, Ving Rhames, Kevin Spacey, Olympia Dukakis and several others. 

Here's the trailer for the Denzel Washington version of The Equalizer. See you at the theaters next weekend, friends!

Vintage Ads That Make You Go Blech!

We all know that sex sells, but what about content that can only be described as stomach churning? I apologize in advance for the eye and brain bleach you're about to need after viewing these charming vintage ads scoured from Pinterest...

"Hey, Bill, can I bum one of those fries?"
"Sure thing, pal."
Bill: "Ah, you know what. Here, help yourself to all of them. Here, take my coffee and dessert, too."

Good grief, does this look like a scene out of The Exorcist, or what? And why is the guy whose meal is getting pelted with saliva smiling? "Never give a germ a break." Only ONE germ? I beg to differ!

Plop, putt, whiz, whiz, oh, what a relief it is! I can't think of a more humiliating modeling job than sitting on the john with your pants actually down around your ankles.

Can't think of anything worse than toothpaste made of bleach. Chlorox toothpaste...your tastebuds will hate you.

Between the two world wars, a crusade was launched against the humble house fly--this is just one of many ads educating residents about the dangers of having a "deadly"fly in your home. I would like to know just who Cole Pharmacy sold dead flies to...and by the pint, no less. Yuck!

I actually do like prunes. I just can't imagine having a "prune party." I hope their party was sponsored by Charmin.

Yes, misguided people really did devour tapeworms at one time to lose weight. I think she'd be better off with the prunes...

They could have at least found a more attractive male model to promote a product for body rash, especially when they're discussing his "groin irritation." Would be easier ad to look at if he had diaper rash instead.

Thirsty? Here, have some liquid meat sodium in a can. What was Campbell's ad men smoking? This makes the hot Dr. Pepper recipe (which was promoted in the 1960s) look like a glass of Dom Perignon.

Buttplugs! Get your buttplugs here!

Ayyyyyyyyyyy! Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't find The Fonz attractive...it's the double entendre copy in this ad--"put him on your back"--that kinda produced icky imagery. We'll leave these shirts for the Hooper triplets...

Oh no, Imodium didn't "go" there. Oh no, it did.

I've saved the best for last. I can't show the whole ad because it contains very mild nudity, but you can see it in its entirety here. When I read the tagline at the top I honestly thought, "I don't get it. What does douching have to do with apricots?" Then I saw the copy on the bottom. Oh, snap. Seriously the most twisted vintage ad I've ever seen...even more unsettling is the fact that the guy reminds me of Javier Bardem. I don't even want to think about what the other 15 flavors of this douche were that they made...but I sure hope one of them wasn't tuna.

New Article on REBEAT Magazine: 5 Artists That Deserve Their Own Biopics By Now


Hey all you groovy guys and gals, REBEAT Magazine has published another opinion piece of mine, 5 Artists That Deserve Their Own Biopics By Now. There are a lot of musicians who deserve to have their story played out properly on the big screen, but these are the top five I've been pondering about for a while. I'm sure you have your own favorites that you would list, so let me know who they are! Also, I can't resist sharing some love for REBEAT these days...we're gaining a steady audience and are really stoked about the content we have planned for Halloween and throughout the rest of the year. More to come.