Thursday, April 28, 2011

Retro Video of the Day - Royal Wedding Edition

In less than twelve hours, Prince William takes his bride Catherine Middleton and walk her down the aisle of history. I wish Will & Kate many things - first of all happiness and healthy children. Secondly, exactly the opposite of what William's parents had - a loveless marriage, and finally I wish them peace and serenity. That will be a tough one. 


When William's mother Lady Diana Spencer was introduced to the world, it spawned a new industry featuring unscrupulous photographers who did whatever they could to get a money shot of Diana during every facet of her life. Although the paparazzi existed before Diana was around, it was her emergence that took the scummy profession to a whole new low.

She wasn't able to lead any sort of normal life and raising her children was impossible without the ever probing lenses of the air breathing pinheads that were ultimately responsible for her untimely death. Make no mistake, the paparazzi and our insatiable thirst for celebrity gawking was the cause of her death in a tunnel in Paris one fateful night. The paparazzi who were chasing her on motorcycles took some pictures of the crashed vehicle and then called for help.   

Her death stunned the world and made her more popular than ever before. The whole world mourned for the lonely Princess and over time we learned more and more about the nightmare that was her life in the royal spotlight. Details of her loveless marriage and Charles' ongoing relationship with his long time mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles served to only make Diana more loved by the people and make it virtually impossible for Charles and Camilla to continue their relationship after Diana's death. 


It took the two young Prince's intervention and acceptance of Camilla in their father's life to finally take the pressure off the old man that would be King. On a side note, Diana's worst picture ever taken would be about a thousand times better than Camilla's best picture. Just sayin'.........        

Didn't mean this post to be such a downer but I'm serious when I say that I hope the young couple are able to have a good life with many private moments. As a tribute to both Will and Kate and the groom's mother who sadly won't see her son marry, here are some videos with some royal inspiration.




 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Way They Was - Star Wars Edition

Star Wars pretty much changed everything when it came out back in 1977. It changed how we made movies, how we marketed movies, how we watched movies, and what we expected from movies. It pushed the envelope of movie making magic and brought many new technologies that are still used today including blue screen filming techniques and the THX recording standard. Worldwide, all the Star Wars movies have generated over $4.4 billion dollars in revenue.

The movie spawned many rumors and unbelievable stories that would be hard to imagine today. For example, Kenner Toys signed on during production of the film to handle toy merchandising but thought the movie would flop so produced pretty much nothing and was unprepared for the huge demand after the success of the movie. For the Christmas rush, they sold boxes with coupons or basically toy I.O.Us and couldn't fulfill orders until March. George Lucas was smart enough to retain 40% of the merchandising profits.
Originally Han Solo was supposed to be a green monster type creature but George Lucas changed it at the last minute to a human character. Some of the actors considered or refused the role include Al Pacino, Kurt Russell, Nick Nolte, Christopher Walken, Bill Murray, Steve Martin and Chevy Chase. Wait, what !?!  The lead singer of "Berlin", Terri Nunn and Cindy Williams (Laverne & Shirley) was considered for the role of Princess Leia and actually read for the part. 
The movie was shot with an $8 million budget. About $5 million of that was spent on special effects with some of the most expensive effects rejected by Lucas. The studio had to eventually cough up another $3 million. Considering the movie grossed $798 million worldwide, it was probably a pretty good investment.
 


Monday, April 25, 2011

Retro Video of the Day - Step On

So the long weekend was great but as usual Monday came way too fast and was way to tough to bare. Hence the video of the day for a dreary, rainy Monday is a classic by Happy Mondays, "Step On". It was either that or "I Don't Like Mondays" but that would have been waaaay to obvious a selection.


Happy Mondays formed in Salford, greater Manchester in 1980 and were a struggling band until being discovered at a battle of the bands at the legendary Hacienda nightclub. They evolved and worked with various producers and in time became a staple on the rave scene.

"Step On" was released in 1990 off their Pills n' Thrills and Bellyaches album and reached number 5 on the UK charts and number 9 on the U.S. modern rock charts. It cheered me up - hope it does the same for you


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Evolution of the Coke Bottle

There is no logo in the world that is more recognizable than the Coca Cola company's flagship product. Coke and its classic bottle design are a symbol known all over the world. It's gotten to the point you don't even need to have the word Coke in an advertisement as long as the distinctive bottle shape is there somewhere in the image.

The classic shape has evolved over the last hundred years and has gone from a rather boring square shaped bottle to the curvy silhouette it now maintains. Below is a timeline picture showing the changes over the years.


The shape is also responsible for designers of other products to be inspired by the sexy elements of the bottle, most notably  car designers. there are many examples but one of the best is the 1968 Corvette.


The evolution of the bottle continues with many commemorative issues produced for various promotions but one of the latest trends was the availability of metal bottles as well. 
There is no doubt the bottle will continue to evolve and change slightly as time goes on but it's not likely to change to something completely different. Makes no sense to change something that is so loved and part of the culture and identifiable as a classic Coke bottle design. That would be dumb - if you're going to do that you may as well change the formula and come out with a New Coke.......... oh wait, never mind.     
  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Retro Music Videos with Bunnies - Easter Bonus Edition

There's actually not as many music videos featuring fuzzy bunnies as you may think. Fear not though, here's a few that will either bring back memories, or fill you with incredible indifference. There's also a classic clip from Monty Python featuring a fuzzy bunny of the lethal kind. 


For all my followers of the Catholic persuasion - Happy Easter !







Thursday, April 21, 2011

TV Cops Before They Were Sexy

It seems most TV dramas these days are either legal or medical dramas. Regardless of whether it's a gritty, hard hitting drama or a cerebral enigma that unravels itself over an hour, one thing is consistent. Sexy people.

Now I'm not saying that there weren't beautiful people on TV back in the day - after all it was called the boob tube for a reason however it seems that casting directors didn't have to worry about eye appeal when choosing actors for their TV dramas. Here's a few examples: 

Barnaby Jones (1973) - First of all, who the heck names their kid Barnaby? Your just begging for a school yard beating with a label like that. Uncle Jed Clampett, a.k.a Buddy Epsen (who the heck names their kid buddy either !?!?) was the title character in this show about a retired detective and his daughter-in-law solving crimes while searching for his son's murderer. Just look at those bedroom eyes. Damn son...... turn it down a notch, it's gettin' hot in here. 

Columbo (1971) - Peter Falk played the bumbling Lieutenant Frank Columbo, a homicide detective with the LAPD. The role had Frank stumbling around seemingly out of his element and getting under the skin of his peers who always dismissed him yet he was the only guy solving the crimes. You'd think after the fourth or fifth solved crime they'd cut him some slack and let him do his thing. Just once I'd like to hear one of the arrogant cop co-workers of his say, "Hey ! Let's get Columbo here. He'll solve this by the time we come back with donuts!" (Sorry - shameful and unnecessary cop stereotype inserted there)

Baretta (1975) - Do I really need to say anything? With characters that included Rooster, Little Mo and Fats, you kind of already know what the series was like. It's like what you see is what you get. An unorthodox cop solving crime his way. Breaking the rules to get er' done and making no apologies. Oh, he also owns a parrot named Fred. It's not his partner or anything - just a pet. Though that would be cool.

Starsky & Hutch (1975) - Okay I admit these guys were kind of cool and I was a fan growing up but the odd thing about these two was how they'd swing from cool and sexy to dopey and buggy looking from episode to episode. There was no consistency but they did have an informant named Huggy Bear and used a cool ass red Torino with a white stripe as a cop car. Very realistic. 

McCloud (1970) - Dennis Weaver played the "cowboy in the city" that also happened to be a cop in this series. The popularity of spaghetti westerns helped give this series some legs and it lasted seven series. Back then, episodes were two hours long and billed as the "Mystery Movie of the Week" but eventually was scaled back to ninety minutes and then to an hour. After all, how much urban cowboy on a horse can you take?

Having said all this, it wasn't all that bad. We did have Policewoman (1974)
Angie Dickinson playing the role of Sgt. "Pepper" Anderson as an undercover cop working what the good Lord gave her to keep the streets safe and rid of all the scums of the earth. Bless her heart.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Vintage Ads From A Simpler or Possibly More Gullible Time

In a previous post we covered ads from a simpler time that were some of the most sexist we've seen. (Click here to see that post) Let's take a look at a few more ads that were not so much sexist but just kinda dumb.  


This ad was pretty hopeful. Some day ALL beer cans will open as easy as the new Schlitz soft aluminum cans. The old cans needed a can opener to get to the amber nectar within but the new cans can be easily opened simply with...... a can opener. Progress baby......progress. 

No different than now, back in the 40s people would look to medical professionals for advice on how be the best they could be. Since more doctors preferred Camels, naturally the smart thing for a smoker to do was to switch to Camels as well. You'd have to be a complete idiot to smoke a brand not endorsed by a dapper doctor who smokes in his office. Been a long time since we've seen an ashtray in an examination room. 


While we're on the subject of smoking, this ad also offered advice but this time it's tips on how to be irresistible to women. Apparently if you blow in her face, shell follow you anywhere. Oh she'll follow you alright. That ranks right up there with making her pay for her own dinner when on a date or hitting on her girlfriend right in front of her. Seriously......try it, girls love that. 

I'm fairly sure the follow-up ad was "They're dead because they ate lard." I'm not sure what's more sad, the fact you owe your happiness in life to rendered pig fat or that people actually worked for an organization called the Lard Information Council. I'm guessing their office has re-enforced chairs....... just sayin'. 




So it appears the secret to staying thin was discovered way back in the 30s but has been suppressed all these decades by the evil pharmaceuticals making billions on all those diet pills and potions when all you really need to stay trim and sexy are tape worms. Now with no ill effects and easy to swallow ! At least they had the decency to sanitize them before selling them to the public.  

  

Monday, April 18, 2011

Candies You Grew Up With That May Gross You Out Now (Part 2)


In part 1 of this series, we looked at some examples of candies that you may have grew up with in the 70s and 80s that hold a sweet memory in your mind of carefree and happier times when getting a sugar high after school was paramount on your things to do list. The reality is some of these treats were actually kind of disgusting but it took years of maturing before coming to that conclusion. Not all of it was that bad though. Here's a look at some more of our favorite sugar fix delivery systems. 

Candy Necklaces - Candy that allowed for sharing was always fun. These candy bracelets and necklaces allowed you to share with your nearest and dearest friends and make you the most popular kid in the schoolyard. Your friends would line up for a chance to chew off a sweet morsel off the string hanging around your neck. The wouldn't even mind or care that the string of candy has been hanging around your neck all day on a hot and humid summer day while you played soccer. Yummy.
 
Pop Rocks - More than likely you remember the first time you experienced pop rocks. Your were probably unsuspecting of what your buddy just handed you as you poured a little in your mouth only to have your eyes bug a bit as you experienced the weird tingling / burning sensation on your tongue. Shortly after your first experience came your first dare to see how many packs you could handle in your mouth at once. Hours later, your sense of taste would return. 



Garbage Candy - You have to wonder about the marketing meeting that took place while they were coming up with this candy.  Trash shaped candy pieces in a garbage pail is either a flash of genius or the result of being awake way too long with a cocktail of controlled substances in the system.  Having said that, these were pretty popular back in the day. You couldn't get kids to take out the garbage without grumbling but they'd have no problem scarfing down trash shaped candy by the can full. 



Freshen-Up - This gum was pretty innovative at the time. A cube shaped gum with a liquid flavor center. This gum suffered the fate of many gimmicky or novelty gums in that they' turn to cardboard in no time but it was a cool concept. One problem was it didn't store well in your jeans. 
  
Candy Buttons - Another classic candy made for sharing. These little flavor dots were cool and came in lots of flavors but the cool thing was how easy they were to store. Just fold them up and slip them in your pocket. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Disturbing Easter Egg Commercial of the Day

Regardless of your religious background, if you're a kid, Easter always means chocolate and lots of it. Growing up you didn't care what the brand was, whether it was pure milk chocolate or chock pull of palm oil, imitation mockolate. Whether is was in the shape of an egg, a bunny, a train or your favorite cartoon character, all you cared about was that it was chocolate. 

Then along came Kinder Surprise eggs. A perfect marriage of dark and white chocolate and a very cool surprise in each egg. They were certainly a treat and caught on pretty quick despite their disturbing ad that was most certainly conceived while under the influence of really bad chocolate or after questionable chocolate brownies. 



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Band Names Before They Were Famous

"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage....... Cans Of Piss !!! Oh - I mean R.E.M."  Or, "Put your hands together for Van Halen formerly Rat Salad !!! Seriously. I'm not making that up. 

Its clear that musicians could be genius at crafting a melody and creating a lasting epic track that stands the test of time yet still really blow at naming their bands. Here's a few more examples :

Feedback
The Detours
Johnny & the Moondogs
The Rattlesnakes
To see more famous groups and their original names before they snapped out of it and focused to come up with a good name, click here.


 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Remixes Make The World Go Round - Part 2

In an earlier post I introduced you to Kirby Ferguson, a New York based filmmaker who was working on a four part video series known as the Everything Is A Remix Project. Click here to see the original post. The premise behind the project is that nothing in media is really new but rather a remake or blatant ripoff of existing music or film. 


In the first part, Kirby examined the history and art of remixing as it related to music. In the second installment, Kirby turns his attention to movies and shows how many modern blockbusters owe a huge debt to the originators and true innovators of the art. Check it out below.


The Everything Is a Remix Project is working on it's third installment that should be ready for release sometime in June. Take some time to check out his site by clicking here. If you like what you see, consider dropping him a donation so he can continue his work. Don't forget to tell him how you found out about him and his amazing work.  

Easter Kiss - It's Not What You Think

Any kid growing up in the 70s and 80s either loved or hated KISS. Most of the "haters" assumed their weird friends were just going through a phase and eventually would grow out of their strange fascination with the four painted people with the foot high heels and freaky costumes.


Obviously the haters were completely wrong. KISS is bigger than ever and, by utilizing some very smart business sense, were able to remain relevant after all these years and continue to tour. Their influence on our culture continues. 

Their latest plan is to take over Easter.


They've made so much money, that they now plan to issue their on currency. Below is a prototype for the American KISS twenty dollar bill. 


 An alternate design - still tweaking the details obviously.

 

Once the U.S. is conquered they will set their sights on the U.S.'s closes neighbor - Canada.  

Old Is New Sample Of The Day - Ducksauce


Sampling in music has been going on for decades and even before the digital age, mashups existed though they were called edits or Mega-Mixes. One of the most famous series was the Bits & Pieces mixes where the master tapes were created by literally cutting and splicing tape recorded pieces of music samples together until a new mix was created. It was tedious work and took forever. 

Enter the digital age. In this iPod world, all you need is smartphone to get basic tools to create a decent mix of a popular song. Invest in better and proper equipment you can create something even more special. If the guys tweaking the knobs happen to be legendary DJ Armand Van Helden and Kanye West's DJ A-Trak, then you've got something kinda special.

Armand and A-Track hooked up and created Ducksauce and have put up some pretty choice club cuts in recent years. One of my favorites is Barbera Streisand that features Boney M's classic "Gotta Go Home". 

Check it out and see if you can listen to it only once.  





Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Retroguy Is Back Baby - Bigger, Better, Groovier



Hey there Retrofans ! Sorry for the temporary hiatus but fear not, we're back with more of the posts you love so please ease up on the love/hate mail. I hear you, I miss you too, it's not you - it's me. I'm glad we settled that. 

Feel free to drop me  line if you have any suggestions or questions at realretroguy@gmail.com

Peace, Love, Retro !