Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lucky Lindy Hop

I start Lindy Hop dance lessons next month. Why Lindy Hop, as opposed to regular swing? Because to me, Lindy Hop is the real McCoy, the real hardcore version of swing popularized during the 1940s with its lifts and flips. Lindy Hop has an energy and personality all its known. It's the dancing you think of the most when you hear swing music. I can't wait. I'm excited and a bit scared. I'm 5'9", after all - it probably won't be easy for a guy to lift and fling me about - so say a prayer for him, whoever he may be. I'm sure most of the lifts won't come unless I make it to the advanced class, anyway.

In the meantime I've been looking up Lindy Hop clips on YouTube, and they sure look like fun. Here's a cute one I found from a 1944 movie I've never heard of called "Swing Fever." Here we hear the sad tale of one girl and two boys...wait, how can that be considered sad??? These dancers (that come on at 2:45) make it look so easy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not OK Computer

My blog posts are going to be sporadic at best this week. The mother of all thunderstorms hit my neighborhood this past Saturday (I swear, it was so bad that if frogs and locusts rained down I wouldn't have been surprised) and a lightening bolt that struck freakishly close to my house fried a couple of the USB ports in the rear of my iMac. As a result, it's at the Apple Hospital this week getting a new kiester. A good lesson learned: never, ever leave ANYTHING plugged into your computer that is also plugged into an electrical outlet during a storm.

And it's bad, because it means I can't really post anything until I get it back later in the week. I'm trying to be discreet posting this from work.

The experience reminds me of a story I recently read online, The Machine Stops, a work by E.M. Forster that was written nearly 100 years ago. In this grim look at the future (the Brits just love this stuff, it seems), people are isolated in private rooms underground without windows that are entirely controlled by "the machine." All communication is conducted through the machine. People rarely see each face-to-face and human touch is considered repulsive and rude. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought it was scary, too, because our society seems to be slowly headed in that direction. But then when my computer went on the fritz I must admit life as we know just wouldn't be the same without them. I tried in vain to write with a notepad - not the same without editing tools at my fingertips - and I longed to tell my friends what happened to my computer, and couldn't!

Oh, machine! I hope to be back and running with more posts soon.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month...A Half Month Late!

Land sakes! How did I possibly go a half month into the new month and forget to post this month's Retro Hottie of the Month? Uh, OK, who to choose...

It's Gregory Peck. I recently watched two old Gregory Peck films: Spellbound and The Big Country, and I can confirm that he was a certifiable hottie. Even playing the one-legged, crazy a$$, crusty Captain Ahab didn't take much away from his hotness, but I think everyone had a crush on him when Roman Holiday and To Kill A Mockingbird came out. I especially like him when he's wearing glasses. Atta boy, Atticus!

Go Yearbook Yourself!

We knew this was coming...first you could Simpsonize yourself, then you could insert yourself into the JibJab cartoons. Now you can see what your past life's yearbook picture looked like with this cool but scary new site that I found, YearbookYourself.com.



(Be patient - the Flash homepage takes a moment to load.) Simply select your gender, upload a headshot photo, and voila - instant cringeworthy, ready-for-burning yearbook poses from various decades. My selection even had me in an afro, but they were all so fugly (not to mention out of proportion, even when I lined up my eyes and mouth perfectly according to the image viewer) that I'm too chicken to show any of them here. One of these days, though, I will have to post my Simpsonized self because it's just too cute, and several coworkers told me that it actually did look like me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

GoRetro's First Blog Award!

Cue the drumroll and picture me in an evening gown (preferably a vintage one)...because Go Retro has won its first blog award, the Brillante Weblog Award. I'm flattered beyond belief that my blog has managed to attract a few fans who thought it was worthy enough to be recognized. I'd like to thank Lidian from Kitchen Retro and Amy from I Luv Retro Things for bestowing me with this award. You gals are just swell!

Be sure to check out their blogs sometime for more retro fun and goodies. I like to visit both every day.

Now technically, I'm supposed to pass this award onto 7 other worthy blogs...but here's the thing: I don't frequent too many, and the ones I do gave it to me. So, I promise, as I build up more relationships in the blogosphere I'll be sure to pass the award along.

Thanks again!

When It's Not Easy Being Green

I've been meaning to post about this fabulous site I discovered a while back, Eurobad. As you might've guessed from the name, Eurobad highlights the best in garish European home design from the 1970s. Some are so eurobad, they're eurogood.

Mid-century modern furniture design from the 50s and 60s was so wonderful - lots of Danish teak and tasteful colors - so what went wrong when we reached the 70s? Did the effects of psychedelic drugs finally take their tole on interior decorating? A common mistake I've seen with a lot of 70s interior design seems to be that the more something matches, the better. It's the easy way out for people with no sense of home decor. Thus we've all seen a lot of bedrooms where the psychedelic design on the comforter is matched by the drapes, rug, and worse, the wallpaper. Therefore, I present a room to you that would make even Kermit the Frog dry heave. This particular gem of a kitchen was apparently created by someone who loved the color green so much so that it absolutely had to match the sportscar, or maybe it was the other way around? And as if they couldn't get enough green, they put two matching trees in there as well. (Click on picture for a larger view.)



There's more where this came from on the Eurobad site. Check them out, if you dare.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hasbro Goes Retro with Monopoly Sneakers and Easy-Bake Oven

Hasbro has recently partnered up with Reebok to launch a line of Monopoly-inspired sneakers featuring parts of the gameboard and game pieces. They coincide with the release of Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition board game, and come in styles for toddlers, kids and adults in both mid- and low-cut versions. There's no mention of them yet on the Reebok site, but they're supposed to range in price from $40 to $85.



They're cute and colorful, but a little too 80s for me - as in overly kitschy 80s fads that went out of style rather quickly. Too bad Swatch didn't make a corresponding Monopoly watch design to go with them.

In other Hasbro news, the company is celebrating the 35th anniversary of its popular Easy-Bake oven by reissuing the toy in the retro aqua blue color that was the 1963 model. Well, it still looks like a microwave oven to me. I think it would've been more fun if they reissued the actual original design.



I loved my Easy-Bake oven, though. I would still use it today. Don't you think they should market it to adults as a diet savior? I mean, it would encourage people to bake one-serving small cakes instead of a traditional size cake, reducing the temptation to overeat. I think I'm onto something here...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Elvis' Jumpsuit Has Left the Building

Photo courtesy Associated Press and MSNBC.



One of Elvis' famous white jumpsuits - this one adorned with embroidered peacocks - sold last night on an online auction site for approximately $300,000. While I normally think of the King's post-1969 wardrobe as downright tacky, I couldn't help but admire the beautiful detail on this one. Elvis paid $10,000 to L.A. fashion designer Bill Belew in 1974 to make the jumpsuit. He loved peacocks and considered them a symbol of good luck. They certainly seem to have brought good luck to the previous owner and the auction house Gotta Have It that made the sale.

RetroFest!

I've been stuck in the 40s era for so long that the other decades of the 20th century are crying foul, so it's time to shake things up and post about pop culture of other time periods for a bit. I've been meaning to report on a huge and really rad 80s music festival that takes place in Lanarkshire, Scotland each year: Retrofest. This year it takes place August 30 and 31 at Strathclyde County Park and camping out is permitted, a la Woodstock. The line-up this year includes Boy George (sans the rest of the Culture Club), Howard Jones, Paul "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" Young (now there's a forgotten 80s classic), 10CC, the Bangles, and Kajagoogoo. Heck, who wouldn't pass up the chance to hear "Too Shy" live! I really wish I could go...the 80s was the last era that gave us listenable, danceable, still relatively innocent music...but Scotland is a bit out of my traveling range. Why doesn't this take place in the States? However, for those who are lucky enough to go, all of the information can be found on the Retrofest site. Don't forget your leggings and ankle boots!

Here's a picture of The Bangles. Gosh, I thought their hair looked so perfectly normal back then.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Is Retro Marriage Making a Comeback?

It seems the days of June Cleaver and the 1950s housewife aren't as dead as people thought. CNN recently reported that a number of married women - and a good portion of them childless - are perfectly happy to stay at home while their husband brings home the bacon.



Dr. Scott Haltzman, who wrote "The Secrets of Happily Married Women", researched 650 stay-at-home wives and discovered that at least 10% of them were not parents.

The women who are fans of this lifestyle aren't exactly uneducated - many have college degrees - they just find it less stressful to be tasked with keeping a home clean, cooking edible meals, and having more personal time to themselves in a one-income household. They volunteer, enjoy their favorite hobbies, and believe that their marriages are happier as a result.

I have to admit, even as a modern age woman I don't find the idea as all that cringeworthy. After being single for so long and being employed since I was legally old enough to work (15 and a half) taking a break and taking care of a hubby - as long as he's a tolerable one - doesn't sound all that bad. I'd buy a couple of retro aprons, cook and bake cakes, and post a lot more often on this blog. I'd have a lot more time to try to break into freelance writing. But you'd have to have a secure marriage to do this - not to mention a career choice that won't suffer when one takes a hiatus from it, and enough money saved up "just in case." But where would you get that emergency fund if you're not working? Your weekly "allowance" from your husband's paycheck? And truth be told, I'd be bored and/or feel like I was wasting my talents to not be devoting some of it to the world.

Yeah, I'm not so sure I could go for this arrangement after all. Life today for women...soooo complicated. What do you gals out there think? Would you like to be a stay-at-home wife, or are you already one?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

No Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys, But Everything Else

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, NH which focuses on the WWII era. Well, I got the chance to visit this past weekend with a good friend and we sure had a swell (there's a 1940s term for you) time! David Wright founded the museum in 1994 as a tribute to all Americans who fought in the second world war. But while the building houses a lot of military memorabilia, there's an equal amount devoted to what life was like on the homefront between 1939 and 1945. Big band music was piped through the air as we explored 40s artifacts and a time tunnel which is a series of rooms highlighting a different year during the war.

This is just a sampling of pictures that I took during the visit. Ready for a virtual tour? OK, anchors away...

This car is in the lobby and it was love at first sight for me. Honey, I just wonder what you do in the back of your black Cadillac. And let me tell you, the backseat was certainly big enough for *that*, because we looked!



Here's a sampling of typical greeting cards that were made created especially to send to loved ones serving overseas. The amusing part is that there were instructions on what to include in your correspondance (talk about family, friends, pets, etc.) as if you didn't have a clue.



I told my friend I wanted this bike and she firmly informed me that it was a *boys* bike. The bike I have now is a boys' bike because my legs were too long for the women's model, so I still think it would suit me just fine! I found out that bikes back then required license plates and many came equipped with headlights.





This pencil pusher was showcased with old typewriters and other communication devices.



Sisters are doing it for themselves...and for the war effort.



How kids used to entertain themselves before the Internet, video games, and computers.



A typical kitchen scene - Dad's gone off to work or war while Mom stays behind with the baby. I made note of brand names we don't see anymore, such as Rinso soap.



The couple who donated their wedding outfits on the left wrote to each other for TWO YEARS, after ONE DATE IN PERSON before they got married. My how times have changed! Today, you can't email a stranger you found on an online dating site for longer than 2 days without them wanting to get together.



The little girl mannequin looked like she was either constipated or couldn't stomach her mother's singing. The sheet music on the piano was for "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." Good choice!



The military section of the museum: lots of tanks, motorcycles, uniforms, and an airplane.



When I first saw the soda fountain shop, I thought the lady in the background worked for the museum and would've gladly made me a soda pop rickey had I asked. I was hoping Mr. Plastic Soda Jerk was there just for show. But alas, although they had tables and chairs set up, it turns out everything was just for show.



Jukebox Saturday Night! Too bad it wasn't up and working.



I may have to show more photos in a later post - there was too much to include here! If you're ever in the lakes region of New Hampshire, the visit is well worth it. The musuem's site is http://www.wrightmuseum.org. Much thanks to my friend Jude for taking the snaps of me and accompanying me on this fun visit through history! I think someone needs to build 1950s and 1960s musuems now...

A Picture is Worth A Thousand People

Last week my friend forwarded me a picture taken in 1918 of 18,000 men (who were training in Iowa to go off to the first world war) positioned logistically to form a gigantic Statue of Liberty. Knowing how easily digital photos can be manipulated in today's digital age, I wasn't about to post it unless it was legit. (Click on the photograph to see a large version of it.)



According to Snopes.com, not only did it turn out to be authentic, but it turns out there's plenty more where these "people pictures" came from. I followed a link to the Carl Hammer Gallery. These are just absolutely amazing! Two photographers named Arthur Mole and John Thomas came up with the concept - perhaps the first time in history the idea of making a large portrait out of people was orchestrated. Here are some selected pictures; there's more on the Carl Hammer site by following the link above. Click on each of them to see a large version.

The Living Uncle Sam



The Human American Eagle



Living Portrait of Woodrow Wilson



All photographs courtesy of the Carl Hammer Gallery. By the way, the Statue of Liberty portrait was done on a day when the temperature reached 105 degrees - many men passed out from the heat.

Monday, August 04, 2008

No Boogie Woogie Bugle Boys, But Everything Else

A few weeks ago I wrote about the Wright Museum in Wolfeboro, NH which focuses on the WWII era. Well, I got the chance to visit this past weekend with a good friend and we sure had a swell (there's a 1940s term for you) time! David Wright founded the museum in 1994 as a tribute to all Americans who fought in the second world war. But while the building houses a lot of military memorabilia, there's an equal amount devoted to what life was like on the homefront between 1939 and 1945. Big band music was piped through the air as we explored 40s artifacts.

Ready for a virtual tour? OK, anchors away...

This car is in the lobby and it was love at first site for me. Honey, I just wonder what you do in the back of your black Cadillac. And let me tell you, the backseat was certainly big enough for *that*, because we looked!



Here's a collection of typical greeting cards that were made especially to send to our troops. The amusing part is that there were instructions on what to include in your correspondance (talk about family, friends, pets, etc.) as if you didn't have a clue.



I told my friend I wanted this bike and she firmly informed me that it was a *boys* bike. The bike I have now is a boys' bike because my legs were too long for the women's model, so I still think it would suit me just fine! I found out that bikes back then required license plates and many came equipped with headlights.





Sisters are doing it for themselves...and for the war effort.

Remember using these?

An old record player...the record was completely covered with an image, which I thought was interesting. I don't know who the singer was, but the song was "Blue Skies."

A typical kitchen scene - Dad's gone off to work or war while Mom stays behind with the baby. I made note of brand names we don't see anymore, such as Rinso soap.

The little girl mannequin looked like she was either constipated or couldn't stomach her mother's singing. The sheet music on the piano was for "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree." Good choice!

An original Hoover vacuum cleaner.

When I first saw the soda fountain shop, I thought the lady in the background worked for the museum and would've gladly made me a soda pop rickey had I asked. I was hoping Mr. Plastic Soda Jerk was there just for show. But alas, although they had tables and chairs set up, it turns out everything was just for show.

Jukebox Saturday Night! Too bad it wasn't up and working.

Wiping the Smile Off Ford's Face

One of the previews I saw while waiting for "Mamma Mia" to begin was for a movie coming out in October that looked pretty interesting...well, as interesting as you can get for a film that's about windshield wipers. It's called "Flash of Genius" and stars Greg Kinnear as family man Robert Kearns, a college professor and part-time inventor who created the intermittent windshield wiper in the late 60s and pitched it to carmakers, only to see Ford steal the idea from under his nose. You can guess what happens next: a classic David vs. Goliath story as Kearns decides to sue one of the biggest American car manufacturers. I'm purposely not looking this one on Wikipedia so I won't know how it ends in advance. The supporting cast includes Alan Alda, Lauren Graham, Dermot Mulroney, and some beautiful 60s automotives and I'm putting it on my list for fall movie viewing.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Take a Chance On Mamma Mia

There are times when I realize that living the year 2008 isn't so bad after all. Today I experienced one of those moments. I've just spent the two most enjoyable hours that I've ever experienced in a movie theater.



The male population out there can keep their Dark Knight,, Hellboy, and Mummy. I just saw THE best movie of the summer...and possibly the year...Mamma Mia! Although, to be fair, there were lots of men in the theater who appeared to be enjoying this chick flick (an unfair, stereotyped term) every bit as much as their wives and girlfriends. This movie is to Baby Boomers what Grease was to my generation, although you don't have to be past the age of 45 to enjoy ABBA's infectious melodies. It really confirmed for me how beautiful and timeless the Swedish pop quartet's songs truly are. It was a fun (and funny) movie that I didn't want to see end. Meryl Streep was fabulous (and isn't she like pushing 60 by now?), Amanda Seyfried who played the daughter Sophie was sweet, and the stunning Greek landscape, with water so blue it rivals the Carribean makes me want to book a trip there. Oh, the guys were great, too. Pierce Brosnan's voice is a little growly and rough, but Colin Firth's gentle vocal chops (hunkalicious, Mr. Darcy!) reminded me of Donovan. Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are so hilarious and steal the show.

Note to Hollywood: make more musicals! People love them and they make us feel good!

Keep your eye out at the end for a cameo by one of the members of ABBA. If you're on the fence about going because of some party pooper critic's review, GO. You'll leave the theater like a Super Trooper...feeling like a number one.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Own A Piece of Movie History

Profiles in History auction house is auctioning off hundreds of authentic movie items on eBay, including props, set pieces, and costumes that were actually used in the movies. Some of the unique items up for grabs include the "stone" Ten Commandments tablets that Charlton Heston carried in the movie by the same name, a bed of nails from the Addam's Family set, and the ax wielded by Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Errr, even if I had the money to spend on stuff like this I'd stick to one of the vintage movie posters or maybe an elegant dress worn in an old film. Still, it's a fascinating list, and you can check everything out on the Profiles in History shop on eBay.

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