2/28/09

Even More Ways to Kill Time

Cool-mo-dee recently turned me on to the Obamicon site where you can easily take any picture and turn it into the iconic Obama poster. I have to confess that I got carried away and started trying it with pictures of everything from Tusken Raiders to Isaac on The Love Boat.





Of course, there's really no limit to the amount of time you can waste playing with pictures on the internet. For instance, there's the Warholizer, turning any lame picture into an Andy Warhol artwork.

Ahhh, the internet. It really does make you stupid!

2/27/09

Dungeons & Dragons #2

Man, when I was in junior high, I was big time into Dungeons & Dragons. I had dozens of modules, miniatures, dice galore, and basically every book from The Dungeon Masters Guide to The Monster Manual. Although I don't recall any girls playing it, I don't remember it being a "geeks only" business either. Whatever the case, I lived and breathed D&D for a couple years.

In high school and most of college, I was way too interested in... let's just say less creative endeavors. Gary Gygax and Bugbears were a distant memory.

By the end of college, I guess I settled down a bit and rediscovered D&D and got to playing it again pretty regularly. I noticed it had changed a lot - now there was Forgotten Realms, Ravenloft, Spelljammer, Al-Quadim, a bunch of stuff written by a guy named Ed Greenwood, etc. It was still the same game, except now it was a bit more advanced.

Well, once again I got off the D&D boat after a few years due to the demands from work and family... and haven't been back since. My wife and I just unearthed our box of character sheets, Monstrous Compendium, and the like from the attic. I'd forgotten how much damn fun it was and it really got me wondering about the status of D&D today. Is it still the same game I played 15 years ago?

Retrospace Sells Out

You may have noticed a few ads here and there on Retrospace. Trust me, I'm not dumb enough to think blogging is going to somehow yield vast riches. No, the ads are there more as an exercise in self deception- if I can even earn a nickle, maybe then I can rationalize the time I spend on the site.

I remember (although I am embarrassed to admit) sticking a bunch of ads on posts within the first few months of starting up Retrospace. I barely had any visitors, and it was a greedy pathetic waste of time. Now that I often get greater than 1000 visitors each day, I figured I'd give it another whirl.

I will say that I friggin' HATE pop-ups when I go to a site. If I get a pop-up, I will never go back to a site no matter how good it is. I am that easily annoyed. Hopefully, the ads on Retrospace will not annoy you too bad, and hopefully, you'll hardly notice they're there. Cheers!

Twisted Impressions

I'm sure many of you have seen these unintentionally hilarious comic book panels. To our modern, cynical, sardonic, sarcastic and jaded minds these are a riot!

I'm not going to attempt to explain that last one. You either get it or you don't. (swiped from RetroLife)

Now, let's see how your modern psychobabble steeped mind interprets one of the most famous Brady Bunch subplots (from the episode: "Today, I Am a Freshman").

Here's the breakdown:
Marcia is getting older and is now entering high school.
She invites many of her pretty and popular friends over to the house.
Peter erects a volcano which spews a foamy discharge all over the girls.

Freud would have a field day with this.

2/26/09

Goodbye Miss Brahms

20 July 1943 - 26 February 2009

Not being British, I guess I'm not as familiar with Wendy Richard's work as many of those across the pond. However, I will say that I've been watching Are You Being Served? since I was too young to know Mr. Humphries was gay.

Thanks to PBS, I can't name many other shows that I've been able to continue to watch over the decades unabated. In fact AYBS? has been with me so long and is so steeped in nostalgia, that (not unlike The Brady Bunch) I really can't tell you if the show is any good or not - it just is what it is, and I like it.


Wendy has a great deal of films and television shows on her résumé which I don't know enough to comment on, so I'll leave that to other bloggers. Instead, I'll just leave you with a pic of Wendy on the set of Help! with some dude.

2/25/09

A Heart-Breaking Ad

Heart's debut album Dreamboat Annie was an undeniable success, and rumors that the Wilson sisters were witches didn't exactly hurt record sales either. "Magic Man" was thought to be a love song to Satan himself.

But that wasn't good enough for the greedy record company.

As if Heart needed more controversy on top of being called devil worshipers, the record company concocted a full page ad in Rolling Stone depicting Ann and Nancy as incestuous lesbians.

"It was only our first time!" reads the caption. I guess the record company bastards thought they were really ingenious by making it look like a tabloid article.

One good thing came out of this mess - it pissed the sisters off so bad that they wrote a song about it called "Barracuda".





2/24/09

Album Covers #5: Album Oddities

I find it interesting that Mexican movies and music became immensely popular in Yugoslavia in the 1950s. What a strange phenomenon that two distant and seemingly dissimilar countries would find common ground in film and song! The music is called Yu-Mex and you can learn more from this great site.

At first glance, there seems to be nothing particularly strange about this album cover. A bunch of ladies (and one guy) gathering around while Joe tickles the ivories. No big deal... except for the strange orange creature on his lap! What the hell is that thing? Perhaps it's Kuato from Total Recall, growing out of Joe's abdomen.

2/23/09

Another Fun Meme

My fake band/album cover

Darius Whiteplume over at Adventures in Nerdliness found another way to waste time:

Go to "wikipedia." Hit “random” or click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Random The first random wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

Go to "Random quotations" or click http://www.quotationspage.com/random.php3The last four or five words of the very last quote of the page is the title of your first album.

Go to flickr and click on “explore the last seven days” or click http://www.flickr.com/explore/interesting/7days Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Use photoshop or similar to put it all together.
With a crap band name like Tropical Storm Fay, you can tell I didn't cheat! The title of the LP is probably better than one I could have ever come up with on my own.

2/22/09

Miniskirt Monday #3

The Travelers were a fairly successful Canadian folk group best known for their rendition of "This Land Is Your Land". Their orignal name was The Beavers (!)

I'm not sure why, but I suddenly have an insatiable desire for some greasy fried chicken.

Anyway, here's XTC's reference to the girl of steel.


Other songs I like that reference superheroes:
1. Sunshine Superman - Donovan (references Green Lantern as well)
2. I Am the Law - Anthrax (a reference to Judge Dredd)
3. Magneto and Titanium Man - Wings
4. Iron Man - Black Sabbath
5. Jimmy Olsen’s Blues- Spin Doctors
.... the list could go on and on - don't make me break out The Kinks Captain America reference!

The most hilarious superhero song has got to be, hands down, "Wonderboy" by Tenacious D.


Man, have I gotten off topic! Let's bring it back home...

Ahh, that's more like it. I nabbed this one off of the Vinyl Junkie pool on Flickr. These ladies seem more than ready for Klaus to get the hell off their plane. This was obviously from back when flight attendants were called "stewardesses".

2/21/09

Upstaged!

Sitcom Diablo, a spin-off of the legendary Plaid Stallions, recently posted pictures of several Good Times trading cards. I found myself laughing so hard I snorted hot coffee through my nose. Ouch! The thought that anyone would think that kids would want the likeness of an angry James Evans is unbelievable. What's more unbelievable is that we did want them, and bought them en masse.

Anyway, it got me thinking on a tangent of all the stars who got a sitcom expecting it to spotlight them, only to become overshadowed by an up-and-comer. John Amos had a burgeoning career that he thought would be furthered by a central role on Good Times. He was wrong. Amos didn't count on J.J. who came complete with the ultimate catch phrase - Dynomite!


Here's a list of some other actors and actresses who got upstaged unexpectedly. I'm sure there's lots more, but these are off the top of my head.

1. Mayim Bialik thought she'd continue her success after Beaches on the sitcom Blossom. She didn't count on Joey Lawrence completely trumping her. Oh, well. She's probably better for it - Bialik could've ended up just another stupid actress. Instead, she's got a PhD in neuroscience.

2. On Happy Days, Arthur Fonzarelli was initially supposed to be just a shady mechanic, rarely seen. Fast forward a couple seasons, and you may as well have just called it The Fonzie Show. Ralph, Richie, and Potsy could have been naked and painted orange, and no one would have even noticed - all eyes were on the man in the leather jacket.

3. The ultimate example has to be Webster. Susan Clark and Alex Karras actually thought the show would center around them, and was originally titled Then Came You. Ultimately, the studio execs were smart enough to realize that no one gave a giant hovering fart about the parents - they wanted the cute little black boy! Eventually, you could have replaced cardboard cut-outs for Clark and Karras, and no one would have noticed.

4. Family Ties was supposed to be about the ex-hippie parents; however, it wasn't long before it was about one thing and one thing only - Alex P. Keaton.

5. By the fifth season, Three's Company had become way too Chrissy-centered. All merchandising, promotions and plot lines started pushing Somers forward, and Ritter and DeWitt into the abyss. It went to her head and... well, you know the rest of the story. This issue of People illustrates the point perfectly - her name is big, bold and yellow. Theirs is damn near microscopic. Read the Chrissy-centric article here.

6. Family Matters was supposed to be about the Winslow family. Urkel wasn't even in the original cast. It wasn't long before, if your last name was Winslow, you didn't even need to show up - it was The Steve Urkel Show now, and he was making ABC's TGIF his bitch!


I'm sure I'm missing a painfully obvious one, but my short attention span prevents me from thinking on the subject any longer. Let me know if you've got a good one.

[For another example of a sitcom malady see a previous post: Casualties and Survivors of the Darrin Syndrome]

2/20/09

Vintage Scares #2: Creepiest Magazine Cover Ever

This December 1977 Jet magazine cover spooks the hell out of me. Never mind the fact that OJ decapitated a woman of similar appearance to Elizabeth Montgomery. And never mind the fact that this is a publicity shot for a TV movie called A Time for Killing. No, what gets me is Montgomery's wicked-ass stare.

Move your head from side to side, walk around - her eyes seem to follow you wherever you go. I'm not kidding - it's unnerving.

2/19/09

Viva VHS #1: A Homage to Bad VHS Tapes


Remember when VHS and Beta first came out? The video stores that arrived on the scene were often tiny little rat holes that smelled like pot and body odor. I lived in Dayton at the time, and my video store was literally in some dude's house.
















Gradually, they started popping up in strip malls and convenience stores. To someone who liked a good horror flick or sleazy trucker movie, this was manna from heaven. HBO mostly played crap like Somewhere in Time, and never the good stuff - now these movies were at our fingertips. And the best thing of all were the gloriously awful VHS covers.

They were usually torn and ratty as hell from the thousands of sweaty fondling hands. Some were still damp from spilt bongwater. But it didn't matter - like a well loved paperback book, they didn't stay in mint condition for long.

Also, the covers were like those manic over-the-top movie posters from the grindhouse and drive-in days of yore. The racy covers literally beckoned a young man to grab them. If you could bear to face the video clerk with your embarrassingly grotesque and tawdry selection, you were home free! Sure the picture and sound quality were the pits, it was all about the experience, and getting to see something that you never could before.

Of course, if the movies were ever as good as the cover art, I might have gone insane with euphoria. But alas, it seemed that they were inversely proportional - the higher the expectation from the VHS box, the crappier the movie is bound to be.

I could literally spend all day at this gallery of cover art pouring over the hundreds of long forgotten VHS covers. Click on the company name (ex. Magnum Entertainment) and be treated to a vast collection of obscure covers from the past. I implore you to check it out.



What's the worst, most offensive, ridiculously awful VHS cover you ask? The video nasties were so plentiful, that it's almost impossible to choose. If I had to make a choice, I think I'd have to go with this one to top my list for sheer audacity.

There's lists of bad album covers aplenty, yet VHS covers haven't yet reached the LP record in terms of kitsch yet. I'm sure their day will come.

Rollermania!

The first patented roller skate was introduced in the year 1760. A mere 219 years later, and ONJ is wearing them on the cover of People whilst the fad was sweeping the country.

Roller movies like Roller Boogie and Xanadu were raking in big time dough. If memory serves me, the intro to Can't Stop the Music featured a scene similar to the famous Travolta street walk at the beginning of Saturday Night Fever... with two big differences: it was Steve Guttenberg (egad!) instead of Travolta, and he was on rollerskates.

Here's a review of Skatetown U.S.A.:
An all-star cast jam packs this unjustly ignored Disco extravaganza. Scott Baio, Maureen McCormick, and Patrick Swayze compete against one another to the bumpin' sounds of The Jacksons, Earth, Wind & Fire, and even a live performance by Dave Mason! High thighs, ample cleavage and glittery beards date this obscure classic with genuine expertise.
Don't you just want like hell to see this? Well, too friggin' bad, it's not on DVD!

As a certifiable nerd in seventh grade, the mere sound of the words "couple skate" still makes me break out in a cold sweat. Kool & the Gang's "Joanna" was the call for roller boys and girls to join hands on the rink, while the losers stood like lepers quarantined to the carpet.

Skateboards were a big thing too. Sure, the boards were skinny and dorky looking, but you've got to remember we also wore rainbow suspenders and socks up to our knees - a skinny-ass skateboard was the least of our worries.


By the way, you in-line skaters on your fancy shmancy roller blades who are laughing at the 70s - you too will be laughed at in the future. Just thought I'd let you know.


In one of the most hilarious and bizarre TV moments, Wonder Woman dons a helmet and chases the criminals on her skateboard! See it here. This photo from the amazingly comprehensive Wonder Woman site Wonderland.

If Spidey and Farrah are doin' it, it must be cool!


2/17/09

A Little Pizzazz

I'm having a bit of trouble finding time to put forth a post, and I don't foresee things getting much lighter at work this week either... if only I could win or inherit millions of dollars, invent something, start a franchise, or just come across a celebrity sex tape.

Oh well. Until I can catch a break, let me leave you with possibly the finest magazine cover of all time. Yeah, buddy!

2/16/09

Miniskirt Monday #2

I'm not quite sure what the purpose of a Mini Skirt Marker is. The pronouncements on the box sure make it intriguing: "Up! Up! and Away!", "High-Low, Any Way They Go!"


Every few years you hear someone bring up the theory about rising and falling hemlines predicting the ups and downs of the economy. If the hemlines are up on the runways, we're in for a bull market. Hemlines start to fall with the onset of a bad economy.

If this theory is true, skirts will start brushing the floor any day now.

Perhaps no one besides Twiggy, Nancy Sinatra and Mary Quant are more closely associated with the miniskirt than Jeanie C. Riley, whose skirt was as much her trademark as Elton's glasses and MJ's sequined glove.

What's really a shame is that most of her discography is kaput. I looked high and low for images of her old album covers, and could only find a pathetic few. She had some incredible ones, and you can only get a tease of them over at her official site -thumbnails only. I'm sure they're out there somewhere.
Here's a few lines from her hit "Harper Valley P.T.A.":

Well, it happened that the P.T.A. was gonna meet that very afternoon.
They were sure surprised when Mrs. Johnson wore her mini-skirt into the room.
And as she walked up to the blackboard, I still recall the words she had to say.
She said, "I'd like to address this meeting of the Harper Valley P.T.A."

Recognize this next lady? It's a pre-Xanadu Olivia Newton-John. Add the 1970 film Toomorrow, starring ONJ, to the growing list of movies that are still M.I.A. on DVD at Moon in the Gutter

And, finally, nothing sells crackers like a miniskirt.

2/15/09

Sex Sells #2: Horse Manure Ad

Beautiful models have been used to sell everything from muscle cars to polka records, but this one takes the cake!

2/13/09

The Boob Tube #9: The Brady Bunch Variety Hour

Remember The Brady Bunch Variety Hour? I just watched it for the millionth time and can't get enough of its campy goodness. It's somehow wonderfully delightful and horrifyingly strange at the same time. Nothing on TV has ever exhibited this level of badness and still been good, if you get my meaning.

I'll spare you the history (that's what Wikipedia is for), and cut right to the weirdness...

I've always heard that Robert Reed was constantly battling with Sherwood Schwartz in order to bring realism and intelligence to The Brady Bunch. Obviously, Reed lost most of those battles, but with the Variety Show he apparently just said "screw it, let's boogie".

In the picture above, Mr. and Mrs. Brady are actually singing "Love to Love You Baby"! This is one of the most sexual songs to ever hit the radio (recall that Donna Summer moans and groans orgasmically in the song)... the show is just getting started and already I'm in The Twilight Zone.

Mike Brady tells a joke that falls flat, so Jan says,"Why can't I be dead?" out of embarrassment. To which Marcia smiles maniacally and says, "Yeah! Why can't Jan be dead!?!" To which I said "WTF?!" Marcia was always Miss Popularity, but wishing diabolically for Jan's death seems over-the-top even for the Variety Hour.

(Ahem. Greg, I think you missed a button.) Apparently, flannel was the rage in 1977 and Bobby seems to have grown up to be a Monchichi.

Can you count the 70s pop culture images and icons in this next scene? Let's see: (1) Donnie & Marie Osmond ride into a (2) roller rink on an (3) Evil Knievel motorcycle and meet up with (4) the Brady Bunch; Donnie's jacket says (5) "Fonzie" on the back, and... well, you get the point.

Holy shit! That's actually the Bradys dressed up like clowns for no reason and swimming and splashing around like idiots. I remember when I first saw this on a friend's bootleg VHS back in '92 - it was kind of grainy, the sound was warped a little, and this scene seemed horrifically surreal. There was something kind of haunting about it. Now that I watch it on DVD, the grainy snuff film quality is gone, but it's still pretty friggin' strange.

Good Lord! As if Aquatic Brady Clowns wasn't weird enough, we get Tony Randall as a psychotic leprechaun! This may be the strangest moment in TV history - it simply has to be seen to be believed. I triple dare you to make this image your desktop wallpaper.

Then for the finale we have Greg kickin' it Tom Jones style, and then the whole family (including Alice) dance to "The Hustle" and "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty"!

I don't mean to sound like I'm criticizing the show; I relish every lovin' second of it. You can just tell that everyone on the show was having a good time, and the carefree vibe is contagious - you'll find yourself enjoying it in spite of your modern day cynical attitude.

The show's deep and abiding strangeness obviously stems from it being produced by Sid & Marty Kroft. But perhaps the oddest thing about The Brady Bunch Variety Hour isn't the Aquatic Brady Clowns or the Tony Randall Leprechaun or even Ann B. Davis doing The Hustle. No, it is something far more subtle... Egad! What's happened to Jan!?!