Friday, May 30, 2008

RIP Harvey Korman

Harvey Korman, star of The Carol Burnett Show and Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles, passed away today. He was 81. We'll miss you, Harv, and I know I speak for others when I say I'm so glad we had this time together.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Double Takes

All pictures courtesy the MediaPost site and copyright Armstrong flooring and BBDO New York.



Armstrong flooring has launched a new print advertising campaign that features retro celebrity lookalikes to promote its laminate flooring (a hardwood substitute) with the caption "It only looks like the real thing." Lending their physical features are models that resemble Lucille Ball, Marlon Brando, James Dean, and Dean Martin.



Of the four, I think James Dean looks remarkably like the real deal. Lucille Ball is a close second, Brando is just off enough to tell it's an impersonator, and Dean Martin reminds me more of Gregory Peck. But kudos to the BBDO New York advertising agency for resurrecting the famous faces.

You can view all of the ads at full size here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mr. Roboto

Let's go back to the future, shall we? It's 1989. A company called SynPet introduces Newton, a robot who was supposed to revolutionize the way our home lives were run. Looking like a cylinder-shaped panda bear with the voice of Stephen Hawkins, Newton was a security system, babysitter, and professor all rolled into one. He retailed for the bargain basement price of $7,000.

But as with any new product, good marketing is essential. The acting (and hairstyles) in this video promo is really something, making those after school specials of the 70s and 80s look like Masterpiece Theater productions. But wait! A beacon of hope...is that Mary Steenbergen towards the end exclaiming "You're alright, Newton!"??? Nah, more likely a SynPet employee...or one of their helpless relatives who jumped at the chance to be featured in a promotional corporate video.

No wonder it never took off. That, and the fact that owners of Newton kissed their $7,000 goodbye once they remembered that their house had stairs.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Swingtown Swings onto Network TV

Photo copyright CBS 2008.

Oooo, CBS is getting raunchy and controversial. A new series about the 70s swinging lifestyle called Swingtown premieres on June 8. According to TV.com, "This new period drama takes viewers back to the 1970s for a look at suburban households testing the murky waters of sexual revolution following swingers throughout open marriages, key parties, and other swingers extravaganzas."

And here's the plot description: Susan and Bruce have moved their family to Chicago to try to find a different, unique sense of community that they haven't felt yet. Little do they know, they've stepped into the world of swingers and the American sexual revolution.

Ooooo, are we rubbing our sweaty palms together in anticipation yet? Snore. I think this drama will last a total of four episodes. I can already predict the plotlines...Bruce is gonna fall in love with another swinger, which makes Susan jealous. Someone's teenage child is going to get teased at school for their parents' hobby. Someone's going to catch a STD.

I think I'll pass. You want good 70s sexual debauchery? Rent I, Claudius sometime.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Dumbest and Most Dangerous Toy - Romper Stompers

I was reading the other day - I don't remember where - about the most hazardous toys of childhood. Among the suspects were the deceivingly innocent Legos (all fun until stepped upon, barefoot, in the middle of a dark night) and Mr. Stretch, who oozed sticky corn syrup if punctured. And of course, there was the Easy Bake oven, which just got into trouble again last year for inflicting burns on kids valiant enough to insert their hands into the oven.

But nowhere did I see a mention of what I considered to be one of the most dangerous toys ever invented and touted during the 1970s, Romper Stompers. Remember these things? They were first featured on the children's show Romper Room and meant to give kids an idea of what it was like to be 8 inches taller, or Frankenstein. Basically they were constructed of two upside down beach buckets attached to plastic straps. Granted, they weren't tricky for well coordinated kids like myself, but could you imagine a clumsy child trying to go down a flight of stairs on them? I'm sure many a pair introduced a kid to his or her first hospital visit. Perhaps they should've been named Accident Waiting to Happen. Just try going down a set of stairs on them after a vigorous play session on your Sit N' Spin!

Oh, such simpler times. By the way, Romper Stompers are still around today. They're known as platform shoes!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Warm Up Your Knitting Needles

A new retro knitting book has just been published. Retro Knits: Cool Vintage Patterns for Men, Women, and Children from the 1900s through the 1970s edited by Kari Cornell and Jean Lampe features...well, cool vintage patterns for men, women, and children from the 1900s through the 1970s. There's over 50 patterns collected here, along with vintage photographs of the designs. The book is selling for $16.47 on Amazon. Judging from the cover, I'm guessing the styles in here lean towards classic and timeless rather than knitting while eating grandma's green brownies.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Be a Retro Slut Puppy

With this 40s style "soda pop playsuit" from StopStaring. It's $117 (ouch) on the site. That's a little too much to pay for some retro daddy's attention, but check out the rest of the site. StopStaring is a great resource for 40s and 50s style clothing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Isaac Mizrahi for Target Scoopneck Mod Dress

Target is still selling Isaac Mizrahi's mod navy blue and kelly green dress for only $29.99. If you can't find it at your local Target store, you can still order it through their site. Click here first for coupons. It's made of everyone's favorite easy-care fabric, polyester. You can't get more retro than that.

Retro Video of the Day: Jerry Lewis Needs Help!

Where do I begin with this? I was wondering why I've never heard much about the musical variety teeny bopper show Hullabaloo. This video clip from YouTube answered that question and more for me, including why it isn't cool to wear a white sweatshirt with white socks and white sneakers. Whoa, dude, that....NBC peacock...is...spec...ta...cu...lar.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Instant Retro with Wall Pops!















Remember Colorforms, those vinyl cutouts that came in the shape of your favorite cartoon characters? Each set came with a background that you could decorate with the vinyl pieces to your heart's content, and then disassemble. Well I just discovered this product called Wall Pops that remind me very much of Colorforms, except for your home. They're vinyl shapes that adhere easily to your walls and peel off just as easily, without leaving behind any trace that they were there. Available in several colors and retro patterns, they arrive in square, circle, and rectangular shapes that can be mix and matched to your satisfaction. Visit their site to find a retailer near you. Unfortunately, they failed to include a retail price so I have no idea how much they go for.

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