Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Five Things That Were Way Better Way Back in the Day, #2

Before I launch into this post I have to clear two things up: first, there was a MAJOR, embarrassing typo in the title of my Glenn Miller post that I absolutely had to fix hours after it got posted. Second, if you saw multiple posts of it in your dashboard, I apologize for that annoyance. Blogger has some sort of bug lately that is blocking portions of copy from my post from time to time when I publish it. I had to copy and paste everything into the editor again to make sure it displayed correctly.

OK, glad I could get that off my chest...now onto the post!

Several months ago, I did a "Five Things That Were Way Better Way Back In the Day" piece but of course, five is not enough (eight, however, is enough for Dick Van Patten.) So, at the risk of sounding like my parents (or my - yeesh- grandparents), here are five more that I've been pondering about recently. Some things just do not improve with age, such as:

1. Music
I know that whole books could be written on this topic on any retro themed blog, so I'll just try to keep this as short and sweet as possible without bashing current famous singers. I like old music better. I love the melodies, the clean lyrics (and the fact that I can hear and understand the lyrics when they are sung), and the diversity of styles and sounds particularly during the 60s, where instrumentals shared space on the top of the music charts along with psychedelic rock and roll bands and traditional crooners. Today's music scene has a lot to do with marketing and manufacturing, and thanks to advances in technology, there's not a lot of actual instruments being played...at least, in commercial pop music. Plus the inability of most stations to play anything recorded pre-1964 is making the idea of checking out a subscription to Sirius or XM radio all the more appealing to me. The independent scene has a little bit more to offer and is at least interesting. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers launched a musical rant about the current state of the industry in their 2002 album The Last DJ. Listen to the track "Joe" sometime and let me know if it doesn't remind you of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Wonder what Petty thinks about Lady GaGa...

2. Video Games
Never in a million innocent years did I ever think while playing Pac-Man or Donkey Kong that twisted sickos would one day be dreaming up virtual reality type garbage that involves committing grotesque violence and crimes to rack up points. I don't dare Google to see if there are sexual video games being made today, but I'm sure there are. As a kid it never occurred to me that games would eventually require ratings and parental advisory, like films. The problem is a lot of parents just don't care and buy this crap for their kids anyway, or allow them to buy it. I'll stick with Frogger and Qbert, thank you very much.

3. Movie Theaters
I have nothing against movie theaters per say - there's no doubt they've actually improved in some ways, such as giving patrons more spacious stadium seating and better audio. What I have a problem with is all of the advertising before the previews even start to play. It used to be you had a blank screen before the coming attractions, then world news reels in the days before television, then local businesses were allowed to advertise on the screen before the show. Today, however, we are bombarded with loud, obnoxious and usually unfunny commercials before the previews. Nothing, it seems, is considered advertising-free anymore. 

Also, like a lot of other establishments, most movie theaters are now operated by a big chain conglomerate. Up until the 60s and 70s, many of them were still independently owned, giving them their own unique charm. You can still find some gems throughout the U.S. but for the most part it's all National Amusements and AMCs. 

4. Dating
Oh, boy. While I cannot say I've had a ton of personal experience in this area for the past few years, I am hearing lots of horror stories from people out in the battlefield. It used to be so simple - my mother said that my aunts met their husbands at local dance halls (she said it was sooooo easy to meet quality men at these places.) Guys would ask for a girl's number, then actually follow through with a phone call and ask them out. If they didn't hit if off, it was no big deal - there are ways of letting a person down easily without hurting their feelings. Even if they weren't the ones for each other, they still knew how to have a decent time without making the other person feel like dirt.

The truth is dating today sucks - a lot. It seems that people have lost all common sense when it comes to conducting themselves in front of a stranger - saying odd things, asking inappropriate questions, and touching the other person in a way you should not be touching a complete stranger who hasn't given you any signs yet that it's OK to do so. I read about women who complain about the man never picking up the tab - unheard of in generations past. And why is it that people are so rude once they determine at some point during the date that they won't be seeing the other person again? Even if you're not hitting it off, it's not OK in my opinion to check out other potential hotties in the same room - you're just going to make your date feel insecure and really bad. Just end the date by saying you had a nice time (even if you didn't), wishing them a good night and leaving it at that. My local newspaper actually sets couples up on blind dates and reports on them. A few weeks ago, one idiot actually told the girl at the end of the evening point-blank that he wouldn't be seeing her again. WTF - really? I am wondering at what point in society people thought it was OK to say things like that on a date? Needless to say it made the girl feel really awkward and weird.

And just so that everyone knows I'm not slamming men in this post, I know a lot of guys don't have it easy in the dating scene, either - not every woman is a catch, and I've met some pretty strange ones at social events. I do think there are a ton of reasons why dating has become so damn difficult in this day and age, but it's best saved for a future post of its own.


5. Celebrities
I'm afraid that the Hollywood glamour of yesteryear, where stars dressed like stars even off the screen, are long gone. Today's Hollywood crowd is just young and stupid to me. These brats are not grateful for anything, and many of them don't even know how to act. There's no mature grown-ups anymore, it seems, just unattractive kids behaving badly. I see photos of these jerks dressed like homeless people and I just wonder whatever happened to the glamorous movie stars of past decades. 


Did I leave anything off the list? Something good for a third installment? What things do you think were way better way back in the day?

12 comments:

Desiree said...

I'm definitely going to agree with you on movie theatres and celebrities. I've only been to a drive-in once, but it was so much fun!

I think there were plenty of unhappy relationships in those days. My mom's parents met in the 50s and were divorced in the late 60s, so it wasn't all that great. Interestingly, I've read articles that argue the displacement of gender roles makes dating more complicated because no one knows what to do.

As for celebrities, there were plenty of juicy gossip and scandal to be had. Also, have you read Day of the Locust? It's a great look at 30s Hollywood but from an unglamorous, almost dystopian perspective.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Hmmm...well, I have my reasons that I'll save for a future post. I'm reading a very interesting book right now called "Girls Gone Mild" that is all about how younger girls are exposed to sexuality at a (too) early age, and how there's an emphasis on casual sex among teens, college students, and even people my age and not so much dating taking place. Basically, men know that they can get it from someone and there's not enough women setting standards for themselves. The best way I like to describe it is that the "bad" girls have ruined it for the "good" girls like me who would like to be in a committed relationship.

During my mother's era, most women waited until they were married before having sex and the guys returning home from the war wanted nothing more than to settle down and start families and leave the war behind.

The sexual revolution was great, but I do believe it has gone too far in some ways and ruined it for a lot of people.

Also I think today people are too hasty to get a divorce...it's become too convenient instead of trying to work things out.

I've heard of Day of the Locust but have never read it - I'll definitely check it out. Thanks for letting me know about it.

Natasha said...

Overall good post, but I wholeheartedly disagree with you that video games used to be better back in the day. Don't get me wrong. I've been an avid gamer since the NES was brand new, so I definitely have a place in my heart for old games, but there are some truly amazing things being done in the gaming industry today (and no, I'm not talking about motion-controlled video games or 3D. Perhaps it's the old school gamer in me talking, but I happen to think both of those things are horribly gimmicky and a controller and a good game are all you need for a memorable experience.) Not all video games are mindless first person shooters or Grand Theft Auto knock-offs. I mean, look at games like Flower, Braid, Heavy Rain, Katamari Damacy, Bioshock and Afrika. All of those are games do something amazing and innovative with the medium and borderline on being art, in my not so humble opinion. Don't let a few violent video games turn you off the medium for life.

Also, maybe I'm just more liberal than most women, but I have no problem with a man not picking up the tab. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to be with a man who expects me to foot the bill for everything all the time, either, but I personally take a very egalitarian approach to paying for things. Especially if you've been dating someone for a long time. My boyfriend and I, for example, have been together for three years (friends for six) and we take turns picking up the bill each time we go out to eat. We even split costs on our very first date! (He picked up the movie, I picked up coffee, to be specific.) I can't stand the idea of the man paying for everything, if for no other reason than I never want a man to lord money over me. In my opinion, if you both pitch in the costs of things, neither one of you has a sense of "ownership" over the other and it minimalizes the potential for fights concerning money. Besides, if you're young and dating, courting somebody can be expensive. It's unfair to expect a young man just getting started in his life to constantly pick up the tab. Even something as simple as dinner and a movie can cost nearly $100 these days (assuming you ate a place that was semi-decent, grabbed tickets to something like a 3D movie and put $20 worth of gas in your car.) Just my opinion...

Natasha said...

Overall good post, but I wholeheartedly disagree with you that video games used to be better back in the day. Don't get me wrong. I've been an avid gamer since the NES was brand new, so I definitely have a place in my heart for old games, but there are some truly amazing things being done in the gaming industry today (and no, I'm not talking about motion-controlled video games or 3D. Perhaps it's the old school gamer in me talking, but I happen to think both of those things are horribly gimmicky and a controller and a good game are all you need for a memorable experience.) Not all video games are mindless first person shooters or Grand Theft Auto knock-offs. I mean, look at games like Flower, Braid, Heavy Rain, Katamari Damacy, Bioshock and Afrika. All of those are games do something amazing and innovative with the medium and borderline on being art, in my not so humble opinion. Don't let a few violent video games turn you off the medium for life.

Also, maybe I'm just more liberal than most women, but I have no problem with a man not picking up the tab. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't want to be with a man who expects me to foot the bill for everything all the time, either, but I personally take a very egalitarian approach to paying for things. Especially if you've been dating someone for a long time. My boyfriend and I, for example, have been together for three years (friends for six) and we take turns picking up the bill each time we go out to eat. We even split costs on our very first date! (He picked up the movie, I picked up coffee, to be specific.) I can't stand the idea of the man paying for everything, if for no other reason than I never want a man to lord money over me. In my opinion, if you both pitch in the costs of things, neither one of you has a sense of "ownership" over the other and it minimalizes the potential for fights concerning money.

Pam@GoRetro said...

Hi Natasha - thanks for your comments. I don't think there's anything unreasonable with the woman picking up the tab once in a while when you're in a relationship, as you indicated. However, I was talking about first dates - whoever asked the other person out to dinner should pay, and I've heard stories from many women who were asked out by guys and got stuck with the bill. That's not gentlemanly behavior, IMHO.

As far as the video gaming industry goes, I don't play any today and I'm way out of the loop on what's available, so thank you for filling me in. I just think it's a bit unsettling that because gaming is so realistic now, games have to be rated. It's a free country and all, but the idea of playing a game where the goal is to maim and kill other people just turns my stomach. Sounds like there are some educational/positively stimulating games still being made, so that's a good thing.

Midcenturymadam said...

We have a charming little movie theater in a neighboring town. We will drive the extra miles to go there rather than go to the mega theater in our town. What was better back in the day? Records. I love vinyl. We have run the gamut on that and now have returned to buying record albums. Fun post. Thanks

Amanda By Night said...

I agree with most of this, I think... I would probably add dresses to the list. I wish women wore more dresses. I miss those simple dresses of the 70s that cinched in the middle. I just saw one on a re-run of Card Sharks. So sexy and pretty! Loved it. I had a good one like that, but lost it along the way.

Also, I think formality is good too. I don't like people being so casual with each other when they don't know someone. I mean, it's fine on the streets or a party but in situations such as meeting a higher up at work or an older person, I think Mr. and Mrs. should apply. I still do it. I think it's just respectful, although I see plenty of people put off by it.

Also I do think there's some problems in the dating world. A friend of mine was at a bar with her friend and guy came up to them and said, "Can I buy you a drink?" and the girl replied, "Does that mean I have to talk to you?" I couldn't believe she said that to someone. People now are far more bold in that respect, because there's this idea that being bitchy is cool, and in the end, it's just lame.

LaraAnn said...

I hardly ever go to movies theaters except when it's sci-fi or fantasy type films like Spiderman. It did seem much better at these places when I was a kid. Having an aunt and uncle that worked there was cool because we got to see alot of free movies.

I kind of wish that I still had my Atari and could play my old games now after reading this post. Frogger was fun.

I hate even listening to most of today's music- it gives me a headache.

The old fashioned way of dating seems nice. I've kind of given up on ever finding another boyfriend.

Celebrities these days seem sort of annoying. I don't even like reading about them anymore. My brother and I used to like watching Entertainment Tonight in the 80s. I can't stand those type of shows today.

Pam@GoRetro said...

@Midcenturymadam - I like vinyl records, too. In fact vinyl has made a comeback in recent years due to a lot of music fans....I should post about it. Amazon even has a section devoted to vinyl records now.

@LaraAnn - awww, I hope you won't give up. Believe me if I haven't given up yet then no one else should, either!

@Amanda - totally agree with your points. Wow, I cannot believe how rude that girl was to the guy at the bar. Even if he wasn't her type, she should have been more polite about it...even saying no thank you (or thanking him, accepting the drink, and making polite conversation.) Now that guy will be jaded, and if enough women do that to him over and over again, he'll start being disrespectful to women since he'll feel we don't give a sh*t. It's a vicious cycle...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Pam! Wow. where to start... Right on the money with Music - there is simply no respect for the very definition of "Classic"; singers, music, movies or otherwise. Caruso, Instrumental, Ambient, Rammstein, Pachelbel, Chopin, I love them all. My boy plays Classical Gas; daughter Gershwin. But there are very few to lead them to the classics; their friends simply regurgitate the last MTV VMAs, TV and radio is lost (Net radio!), and teachers less versed every year. I think Petty (very intelligent, articulate) would like GaGa. I think she is smart like a fox and actually talented (watch her early pre-gaga videos). She is very aware of her marketplace and the KISS/Madonna/Marilyn Manson shock path to fame. I like her music - ttttt-elephone - but not much on her lyrics... Disco Stick!? On second thought, maybe he would not like her brand after all.

Video Games - Bioshock, Half-Life. The violence should go away, yes, but they provide convincing retro/future *immersion*. Where else can you literally enter a gorgeous Art Deco world, or, a hard-core science dystopia caused by unintended consequences of a high-energy physics experiment? So real sometimes it'll scare the daylights out of you!

Movie Theaters - I am *just* old enough to remember the old movie palaces and Drive-Ins before they were systematically torn down (Jungle Book, Fantasia, Computer wore Tennis Shoes anyone!) Caustically - you have been unceremoniously demoted to "consumers" from being their "customers".

Dating - Lets just say that the old ideals are still just grand. There is no excuse, ever, for treating another this way, especially one who thought enough of you to spend some time and has done nothing to deserve it. It's just another form of societal decay, not transition, becoming the free-for-all which we are seeing. But it does need to be more egalitarian - women should ask guys out; they should experience the great exultation, excitement, *surprise*, and the often indignity, equally with men. This would lead to more sensitivity and seriousness of the overtures from both sides, I think.

Celebs - you said it all.

Cheers,
stay-at-home-dad

Pam@GoRetro said...

I have a confession, stay-at-home-dad - I actually listened to Lady GaGa a few weeks ago, with an open mind, and I will admit to liking some of her hits. But I'm not sure if they're going to go down in music history as classics a century from now. They're hooky for sure, but whether they'll stand the test of time remains to be seen. I think she's more likely to be remembered for her outrageous costumes.

It's good that your kids are exposed to all kinds of music, including the classical and the old stuff.

Dating - I've asked a few guys out back in the day and got rejected, and I tend to believe that if they're not asking you out first then they're not into you.

Smeghead2068 said...

If you are wanting diversity in music, especially anything before 1990, don't bother with Sirius/Xm. I have a bigger mp3 collection than they do,I think . XM has dropped 3 of the channels I liked since I got it. And their "decade" channels are a joke. There was more to the 40s than big band, more to the 50s than doo wop and more to the 60s than 1967 rock.


Although it's a pain to use in the car, Pandora is my source for music in the house. No matter what you want to hear, they pretty much cover it.

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