8/31/09

Retro Film Report #7: Viva Knievel! part 1

When I was kid, Evel Knievel was about as cool as it got. In retrospect, I'm not quite sure why this daredevil became such a phenomenon, but that's the way it was - they just didn't make 'em any cooler than Knievel. The 1977 film Viva Knievel! perfectly captures the awesomeness of Knievel in all his glory. In Viva Knievel the line between stunt man and superhero is blurred. All within this one film, Knievel helps an orphanage, unites an estranged father (Gene Kelly) with his son, defeats a drug lord (Leslie Nielson), bags a beautiful babe (Lauren Hutton), and of course performs a ton of kick ass stunts. However, Knievel's shining moment in the film is his anti-drug speech. It has to be seen to be believed.

Mini Skirt Monday #20: More Computers 'n Miniskirts

Before computers became commonplace, they were the domain of nerds. But, before that, they were high-tech space-age sexy!

This ad and the next one are from Obsolete Technology, which has a truly amazing collection of vintage computer ads. I laughed out loud seeing Sarah Purcell from Real People and the cast of M*A*S*H* promoting computers.

Okay, I know this next one's a typwriter, not a computer. Close enough.
(also see Computers 'n Miniskirts Part One); top image from flickr

8/28/09

Vintage Scares #7: Movies That Make You Want to Take a Shower

Ever watched a movie so raunchy and foul that you felt like you needed to take a shower afterward? I mean the kind of movie that requires an entire bar of Neutrogena and some steel wool to wash off the sin from exposure to such a horrible piece of filth. I mean the kind of movie that requires that you watch something on TV innocent and pure like Highway to Heaven or Scooby Doo immediately afterward because you can't just go to sleep with this vile horror show floating around your subconscious.

I'm not talking about porn. Who cares about porn - that's just skank having sexual relations. I'm talking about taboo breaking, grubby, grindhouse trash from the 1970's. These movies knew no boundaries of good taste, and their only purpose was to shock and repulse. Here's some examples of my personal encounters with grindhouse at its worst (or best, depending on your perspective).

1. I Spit On Your Grave (1978)

On the one hand, it's a great revenge movie: Camille Keaton gets even with her attackers in a big way. On the other hand, the first half of the movie basically feels like a snuff film as we are forced to watch her get repeatedly sexually assaulted. I think if you are not slightly disturbed by this film, it may be time for some self-reflection.

2. Henry: A Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)

There's movies like Se7en which put audiences on the trail of a serial killer, and then there's movies like this one that put audiences in smack dab in the living room of a serial killer. Suffice it to say, it's kind of a sick feeling to sit in Henry Lee Lucas' Barcalounger for an hour and a half.

3. Satan's Blood, AKA Escalofrío (1978)
I can handle Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, but straight up satanism gives me the creeps. Satanic rituals, creepy dolls, demonic orgies, rape, murder, possession,... might want to have some holy water on hand. Even Alister Crowley would've been offended by this one. (image via Killer Kittens)

4. The Devil's Rejects (2005)
I've recently rewatched this and found it to be not too bad. No doubt, it's pretty rough at times, but IMHO it's not as horrific as your average 1970's grindhouse film. That being said, I have to include this one because of the circumstances in which I saw it: an office party. To celebrate an accomplishment, the people at work decided we could watch a film - and some idiot chose this one. I cannot emphasize this enough: THIS WAS THE MOST UNCOMFORTABLE TWO HOURS OF MY ENTIRE LIFE.

I could name some others, but I'll stop there. I still have not gathered up enough stupidity to watch the notorious Cannibal Holocaust, and probably never will. I'm curious what movies left some of you with a particularly sick aftertaste. Leave a comment.

8/27/09

Retrospace Zeta #2

I needed another reason to be on the computer like I needed a hole in the head. My job is basically computers all day and I've been obsessed with this blog for the past year and a half (and see no end in sight). Now I have Retrospace Zeta on Tumblr to add even more time for my ass to be firmly planted in chair. One of my favorite quotes is by Betrand Russell:

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."

Whenever I hear someone feeling guilty about spending too much time on their cell phone, their Facebook, their favorite soap, etc. I simply ask them if they enjoyed it. If so, this is not wasted time - in fact, we'll all be more efficient, productive, and happy the next day if we allow ourselves some guilt-free time to enjoy ourselves each day.

Well, I'm taking the long way around to say that Tumblr is fun and addictive as hell and I'd like to start incorporating it here. So, from here on out, I'll be including images I've posted on Retrospace Zeta. The quality and number of posts here won't be affected - it'll just be an extra type of post offered here on Retrospace that I hope you'll enjoy.

So, without further ado, here's the first one...

this chick looks downright demonic(via charm and poise)
I can't determine if the girl looks demonic or mentally handicapped. Either way, it's mildly disturbing. "What do you look for in a boy?" - evidently, this warped little girl looks for guys that look like they're a member of Kraftwerk.

(image via charm and poise)

Retro Badass #1: Richard Dawson


Who’s the coolest dude in the Retrospace universe? I don't even need a second to think about it. It’s an easy one – two words: RICHARD DAWSON. Take note:

1. As a young lad, he ran away from home and joined the British Merchant Marines and became a boxer. That’s cool.

2. In the 1960’s he was married to the smoking hot Diana Dors (real name Diana FLUCK). Dawson was the man!

3. On The Match Game he always had the smartest and wittiest answers. Plus he was cool as ice, smoking a cigarette and obviously tipsy.

4. Dawson was the leading instigator (along with Debralee Scott) in the incredible Match Game 1977 School Riot. Read about it here on Retrospace.

5. He recorded psychedelic music! Notably: "Apples and Oranges" and "His Children's Parade"

6. Dawson was as smooth as 007 on the Family Feud, kissing mothers and daughters full on the lips every time. He even planted them on grandma.

7. Dawson didn’t go out on some shitty reality show or start guest starring in crap like Matlock and JAG. He retired with dignity in Beverly Hills.

As a postscript, I’ll mention that Diana Dors died with millions of pounds still in the bank. She left a cryptic code to her second husband, Alan Lake, to find the hidden loot, but he shot himself shortly after her death and so never collected. The mysterious code was then left to the Dawson family, who sent it to computer forensic experts who found it to be a Vigenère cipher. The code was cracked, but the message was found to be missing a page. The whereabouts of the fortune remains a mystery to this day. Intriguing!


8/26/09

Viva VHS #2: Uncomfortable Movie Moments with the Folks

In the early days of HBO and VCRs (around 1982-3), I would have sworn on a Bible that my mother timed her entrance into the living room to perfectly coincide with nude scenes. I’d be watching Trading Places all by my lonesome, and then as soon as Jamie Lee Curtis takes her sweater off – here comes mom. “What exactly are you watching, son?” As if this was some sort of porno rather than a 5 second topless scene.

I’ve heard the same sort of stories from other people – it seems everyone’s got an embarrassing and awkward movie viewing moment from their childhood. A co-worker once told me that for Christmas they got a brand new Betamax, and the whole family, including grandpa and grandma, gathered round to view the very first movie rental…. Fast Times at Ridgemont High! Little did they know, the whole family was about to be treated to teen sex, masturbation, abortion, drug use and nudity on that memorable Christmas morn.

Personally, my worst moment was going with my mother to see what I thought would be something similar to Pretty in Pink or St. Elmo’s Fire. That movie was Less than Zero, and the scene with a butt naked Robert Downey, Jr. with semen running down his chin was pretty uncomfortable to watch with mom. Sure, I was old enough to vote, but that didn't make it any less awkward.

Then there's the time mom, my little brother and I went to see Eddie Murphy's stand-up comedy movie, Raw. Given the title, I'm not sure how none one of us suspected it might be a little.... well, raw.

Anyone else have any uncomfortable movie moments with the folks?

8/25/09

Hey, Isn't That....? #3: Lousy Opening Shots

We all gotta start somewhere, I guess, but it's still fun to catch big name celebs of today in trash from yesteryear. I just watched the film Cutting Class (1989), a movie that achieves levels of awfullness I never thought possible - yet, it starred Brad Pitt, so I watched. I haven't seen Kevin Costner's early film (after being the corpse in The Big Chill) Sizzle Beach U.S.A., but I'm pretty sure it will be just as lousy as Pitt's debut.

As my mind wandered while watching the brain numbing Cutting Class, I began to wonder what actor has the absolute worst debut. Is there an actor with an early film so awful, it makes Cutting Class look like Citizen Kane? I hereby submit that this honor shall go to Vincent D'Onofrio.

The First Turn-On (1983) is so soul crushingly awful, it had me questioning the very existence of God... for no just and good Creator would allow such a thing to exist. Here's my ontological argument:

1. God is something of which nothing greater can be thought.
2. Man clearly and distinctly perceives that necessary existence is contained in the idea of God
3. The First Turn-On was made
4. Therefore, God does not exist

I think D'Onofrio's character is supposed to be retarded, but the rest of the cast is so incredibly stupid, I'm not quite certain. Anyway, D'Onofrio redeamed himself in 1987 as "Thor" in Adventures in Babysitting and Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket that same year. (BTW- D'Onofrio was supposed to play alongside Anthony Michael Hall in Full Metal Jacket, but Hall acted like such a putz on the set that Kubrick replaced him with Matthew Modine.)

Anyway, if you think you can come up with a better example of a lousy debut (or even just an early film) than D'Onofrio, put it in a comment, I'd be interested to hear!

8/24/09

Obscure Grooves #1: "In The First Place" by The Remo Four

In 1967, director Joe Massot went looking for a band to compose the soundtrack to his new film Wonderwall, starring Jane Birkin. The Bee Gees and Graham Nash wanted the opportunity, but fate put Massot at the grand opening of the Beatles' Apple Boutique where he found just the man for the job - George Harrison.

George was the only Beatle at this point who hadn't worked independently on a film. Paul had scored Haley Mills' The Family Way, John had acted in How I Won the War, and Ringo was appearing in both Candy and The Magic Christian. Naturally, George was very receptive to Massot's request.

George commissioned a band called The Remo Four to be his studio musicians. Sadly enough, the band was on the verge of breaking up and had been dropped by two labels. However, they were known as good studio musicians, were managed by Brian Epstein, and one member, Colin Manley, was a former schoolmate of Paul McCartney at the Liverpool Institute for Boys. The group fit the bill perfectly. Eric Clapton was also called in to augment the group, although his work on the album is uncredited.

The movie premiered on November 1, 1968. It was an incredibly stylized, surreal psychedelic work and never gained much mass appeal - it was never released in the States either. George's soundtrack was purely instrumental and contained heavy Indian influences. It was the first release on the newly formed Apple label, and the first official solo album by a Beatle; but, wasn't much of a commercial success. It wasn't long before both the movie and its soundtrack were completely forgotten.

Thirty years later, Massot took a look at the old Wonderwall tapes and discovered that there was a beautiful piece of psychedelic pop called "In the First Place" that had not been included in the film score, since it contained vocals! Massot quickly contacted George Harrison to get the OK to include it on the re-release of Wonderwall. George agreed, but only on the condition that The Remo Four be given credit.



What a great find this is. "In the First Place" sounds like it would fit in perfectly with the rest of the tracks on the Magical Mystery Tour LP. If you like "Blue Jay Way", "Only a Northern Song", "It's All Too Much" and "Within and Without You", this may be right up your alley. I, for one, am thankful Massot rescued this near perfected psychedelic gem.

Source: The Story of "In the First Place" by Martin Lewis

8/21/09

Music Lists #8: Top 20 Groups of 1975 and Today




Results from the CREEM Reader's Poll of the Top 20 Groups in 1975:

1. Rolling Stones

2. Led Zeppelin

3. The Who

4. Aerosmith

5. Kiss

6. Bad Company

7. Roxy Music

8. Queen

9. Elton John

10. Pink Floyd

11. Bruce Springsteen

12. Black Sabbath

13. Rod Stewart & the Faces

14. David Bowie

15. The Eagles

16. Sparks

17. Jefferson Starship

18. The Tubes

19. Alice Cooper

20. Yes


Results from the Poll of Myself of the Top 20 Groups in 2009:


1. Isn't there a group called Fall Out Boy, or something?

2. Wait, I know - Queens of the Stone Age.... no they've probably broken up by now...

3. Ummmm.... how about Wolf Bait?

4. Actually, I made that last name up.

5. Coldplay

6. No, I hate Coldplay. Strike that last one.

7. Ummmm.... pass

8. Fall Out Boy.... no, I said them already. Shit!

9. Are the Pixies still together? How about Ween? If they are, then I name them.

10. Pass

11. Pass

12. There's some good songs on car commercials by some indie bands I can't think of.... but if you're selling your songs to Hyundai, you're an effing sell-out, so nevermind.

13. Pass

14. If Jack White would team up with Beck and Waylon Jennings' son - I'd name that band. That would be really good.... I guess. Nevermind, it would probably be awful.

15. Pass

16. I tell you what - let's quit this charade. I can't name a single contemporary band. Sue me. They all suck. How about we forget this whole thing ever happened?

17.
18.
19.
20.

8/20/09

Trivia Newton-John #11

Continuing with the theme of the last two posts, this Trivia Newton-John will also deal with Hick Flicks and Redneck Cinema.

As always, the winner will receive a nice Trivia Newton-John Award to place proudly in your blog's sidebar. Plus, this time Retrospace is offering a free download of Redneck Zombies from iTunes! This is a $9.99 value - you can view the movie here on iTunes. To qualify for the free download you only need an email address linked to an iTunes account (you can set one up for free if you do not already have one). Sorry, only U.S. residents are eligible to win.

The first person to leave correct answers to all 5 questions in a comment will be declared the winner. Don't worry if comments before you have already answered a few correctly, they don't count - all I'm lookin' for is FIVE RIGHT ANSWERS WITHIN ONE COMMENT. Good luck!


1. The image above is from a 1973 hick flick starring Burt Reynolds. The original director for the film quit after working two and a half months on the project. Who was the original director?

2. What 1974 horror hick flick featured the voice of an actor who would later become a star on the TV show Night Court?

3. What 1978 trucker movie featured a main character with the CB handle "Rubber Duck"?

4. What hick flick am I referring to with the following clues? (A) "East Bound and Down", (B) Little Enos, and (C) 1977 T-Top Trans-Am

5. What 1978 hick flick featured the songs "Coca Cola Cowboy" by Mel Tillis, "I Can't Say No To A Truck Drivin' Man" by Carol Chase and a theme song by Eddie Rabbitt?





Once again, good luck - and don't forget to answer all five in your comment. I'll declare the winner tomorrow evening (if there is one yet). I'd also like to thank the generosity of the sponsor for this fun giveaway.

***Update***
We have a winner! Dartman, collect your award! I have already emailed you about getting the free download. Congratulations!

8/18/09

Cinema #5: The Retrospace List of Redneck Cinema and Hick Flicks


Imagine my surprise when I discovered there's no respectable list of Hick Flicks anywhere to be found on the Internets. Call it whatever you want, Redneck Cinema, Hicksploitation, Hixsploitation, or Whitesploitation - there's no list anywhere. Wikipedia has a rather pathetic paragraph which references a woefully incomplete list at The Deuce, and beyond that, there's nothing. So, here's my attempt at creating a list. I'm sure I'm leaving some out, so I encourage you to point out any omissions so that this list can be as complete as possible.

Cinema #4: Hick Flicks, Hicksploitation, and Redneck Cinema


One of my favorite genres of film is Redneck Cinema. It's got everything a man could ever want in a movie: car chases, senseless violence, Honky Tonk Heroes, girls in cutoff shorts, and maybe even a hairy swamp creature of some kind. They come in many flavors: low-budget Hicksploitation (AKA Hixsploitation and Whitesploitation), Hillbilly Horror, and all those trucker movies. I am particularly fond of the term "Hick Flick", coined by Scott Von Doviak, author of Hick Flicks: The Rise and Fall of Redneck Cinema, to encompass all these subgenres - "Redneck Cinema" doesn't quite capture them all.

What exactly is a Hick Flick, you ask? Well, that requires a rather lengthy explanation. To understand it fully, you need to really acquaint yourself with the mindset of the 70's, a time when lowbrow was cool - it was an extension of the hippie mentality of living free and not taking orders from "the man" (see my post Lust for Lowbrow for more on this subject). Case in point: there was a lot of overlap between hippie/stoner films and redneck cinema - Cheech and Chong smuggling hash across the border while being pursued by Stacey Keach wasn't all that different than Burt Reynolds smuggling booze while being pursued by Jackie Gleason.

8/17/09

Torn Between Two Lovers: Tumblr and Blogger

Well, I’ve fiddled with Tumblr enough now to hopefully give a pretty good comparison between Blogger and Tumblr. Let me say right off the bat that this is not going to be a slam against either one– they both have their pros and cons, and it simply depends on your preferences. In fact, it is a lot like comparing apples and oranges – Tumblr and Blogger are two totally different things. Here’s the lowdown (for those who aren’t already familiar with both):

1. Tumblr posts are like dust in the wind

In other words, a Tumblr post may get heavy traffic for a couple days (if you're lucky), but then it’s unlikely very many people will ever see it again. It’s a lot like Twitter, except with photos or audio. In contrast, Blogger posts are often visited months and even years later. I love checking out my Feedjit (located in the sidebar) and seeing people visit posts published over a year ago – it does my heart good to know that a post that I labored over will not essentially vanish in a couple days.

In a sense, Tumblr is more like blogging used to be at the very beginning- no frills stream-of-consciousness type stuff with lots of links (blog = web log).

2. Tumblr is like the Wild West

Photos are swiped with abandon on Tumblr. Most of the time your picture is sourced if it was posted on Tumblr (since Tumblr makes it so easy to “reblog” someone else’s Tumblr post with a source cited); however, everything else is fair game. I’m constantly seeing my stuff from Retrospace on Tumblr with not a single reference to the source. This sucks. But 99% of Tumblr posts are NOT original material, but rather swiped from somewhere else. No one scans a photo themselves, or takes a picture themselves (unless it’s a boring family/friends photo for personal use). Tumblr encourages reblogging other Tumblr posts, but wholesale swiping with no references is epidemic on Tumblr.

It’s also like the Wild West in that there seems to be no censorship whatsoever. Extremely graphic images are everywhere on Tumblr. In contrast, your Blogger blog can be flagged, and your blog can be designated as having adult content. Plus, Blogger may sometimes just straight up delete your ass. Everything and anything is fair game on Tumblr.

3. Tumblr is effortless and pretty

Try posting an audio file on Blogger – it’s awful. Where will you store your audio file? Blogger gives you only limited space, and adding it to places like Rapidshare can often be more trouble than it’s worth. It also helps if you know a little HTML, but it’s still a big pain. Adding an imeem song is also cumbersome, and it’s got big giant ads. In stark contrast, Tumblr lets you add one audio track per day, and it takes about three seconds and works beautifully.

Try changing your Blogger template/theme. Chances are, it will irreparably screw up your blog borders, fonts, photos…. everything will look like crap unless you spend hours fixing it. However, in Tumblr you can choose from hundreds of themes, and the switch never messes up the look. Plus, it takes less than a minute.

Just as Typepad and Wordpress have features that Blogger doesn’t have (for a price), Blogger has a lot that Tumblr doesn’t. Examples: (1) detailed analytics of who’s visiting your site, (2) compatibility with a lot of widgets, (3) and sidebar gadgets – Tumblr doesn’t even have the ability to display followers, only those blogs you are following.

4. Tumblr is addictive and community oriented

Tumblr gives you a numeric “Tumblarity” based on your activity (how many posts have been “liked”, reblogged, etc.). For those of you that get a good feeling watching your followers and Google Page Rank increase, this will be extremely addictive. There’s instant gratification when you click on a post and see all the people that have reblogged and liked it.

On the other hand, Tumblarity can be more of an annoyance than an inspiration for many. Just as your Tumblarity can rise, it will also fall. A few days of inactivity, and your Tumblarity may drop significantly. It also seems to favor posts that are quick and mildly amusing, rather than truly interesting original content. If it would look cool on a t-shirt, it's probably a good Tumblr picture. The more sarcastic, ironic and smug, the better.

However, I have to say the community nature of Tumblr is much more robust than Blogger. I’ve been on it a week and already have over 100 followers – something that took me many months to achieve in Blogger. Everybody is sharing and commenting like mad; whereas on Blogger, I may have a post viewed 3,000 times and it gets a measly 2 comments.

So, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. Blogger is certainly in no immediate danger of being replaced by Tumblr, but it had better make a few changes such as making audio posts easier, accentuate the “social networking” aspect, and ease up on the censorship if it wants to keep Tumblr in its rear view mirror. Let’s not forget, Yahoo was once top dog and had their own blogging platform (dare I speak its name?)….. Geocities!

Mini Skirt Monday #19: At the Office


It's become kind of the proverbial image of the pre-liberated workplace - the lecherous boss and his sexy secretary. The movie 9 to 5 mocked the stereotype, and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy did an excellent job at poking fun at 70's workplace sexism. Of course, we're being a bit naive if we think this sort of thing still doesn't go on, but I don't think it's anything close to what it was.

I've shown the next ad before on Retrospace. The "LSD" acronym on the picket sign rocks my world - a reference to acid in a copy machine ad? That's pretty amazing.

Vintage Ad #145 - We Want Our Apeco Roll-O-Matic Now!
Click here to view full size

Reservations and billing all done on a typewriter... I can barely remember the days before computers were everywhere. Remember that nasty carbon paper, the annoying typewriter ribbon, when a single typo could mean you'd have to retype the whole damn page, and having to look how to spell stuff in the dictionary? Seems so archaic now - as if I'm describing life in the Depression era.

Click here to view full size

One of my favorite pictures, I've used this next one a couple times here at Retrospace. I don't know what it is about it I like - it just oozes "retroness" from every pixel.

At Some Firms, Mod Styles Are An Accepted Way of Life

.... and last but not least, a couple screen shots of Linda Thorson in The Avengers (1968). In this episode she's posing as a secretary who gets frozen in place by trance-inducing criminals disguised as Classy Glass Cleaning Co. Ltd. workers in order to swipe Cypher HQ secrets from the Ministry Of Top-Secret Codes.... nevermind, it's complicated.

8/13/09

Cinema #3: Just One of the Guys: A Lesson in 1980's Teen Movie Clichés



It would be pretty hard to pick a type of film more predictable than the 1980’s teen movie, especially the romantic comedy variety. These movies rarely strayed far from the template and generally managed to include all of the following commandments:

1. There will be a school dance and/or party
2. There will be alcohol and/or drug abuse
3. There will be a love story with obstacles to be overcome
4. There will be gratuitous nudity
5. There will be the act or discussion of losing ones virginity
6. At least 5 of the following 7 stock characters will be present: a popular jock, a school diva, a rebel, a geek, a misfit, a new kid, and an average girl/boy

8/12/09

Whatever Happened To? #9: Down and Out Celebs


It’s always a bit sad to hear about a celebrity down on his or her luck. Usually, it’s something they’ve done to themselves (i.e. drug abuse, financial problems), but that doesn’t necessarily make it any less depressing. I was thinking about this after reading about the upcoming Saved by the Bell reunion. The entire cast is in attendance except Screech, who is now a bankrupt porn star. I never watched the show (okay, maybe a few times), but that’s freaking horrible.

Screech is following in the footsteps of the boy from the Richard Pryor/Jackie Gleason film, The Toy, who also became a porn actor. And speaking of actors entering the porn biz…

Possibly the worst case ever of an actor flushing his life down the toilet is Max Wright, the dad on the TV show ALF. The National Enquirer posted an expose on Wright after acquiring homemade sex tapes showing Wright smoking crack and having gay sex with a random homeless man he had literally just met. (source)

Another celeb who took a bad turn recently is the girl who played Stephanie on Full House. Evidently, the poor girl got addicted to meth. And then there's Carmine "The Big Ragu" from Laverne & Shirley, who was recently inolved in a drunken car crash in Vegas.

Joyce DeWitt was recently served with a DUI as well - with an equally disturbing mug shot (but then, who looks good in a mug shot?). I could go on all day about celebrities getting into trouble, but that's for trash like TMZ to cover, not me. That's one of the biggest downfalls of fame - they love you when you're at the top, but not half as much as when you're on the way down.

So, I don't typically take time to point fingers at actors and actresses down on their luck. Who knows why Dana Plato robbed a video store? Perhaps, it was for the same reason Margot Kidder turned up at a stranger's house, naked on a woodpile - a severe mental illness. I think people like to look and point at celebrity trainwrecks because it somehow makes them feel better about their own miserable lives.

So, I won't take up any more time with this sort of thing (unless it's as audacious as the Max Wright gay sex tape). However, there is one last celebrity I'd like to mention simply because it is still a mystery. The case of what ever happened to Amanda Peterson (Can't Buy Me Love) remains unsolved. Rumors abound with pretty good credibility, but nothing definitive. Here's two completely contradictory rumors:

Rumour #1: Amanda is currently happily married and residing in the beautiful Napa Valley with her husband, David Hartley and their son Jonathon and daughter Katie.

Rumour #2: She has an 18 month old daughter who was removed from her custody briefly a year ago due to Amanda breastfeeding her while she was doing drugs. Her ex-boyfriend, the baby's dad, was arrested for domestic violence against her. She also has been diagnosed with a mental illness. (source)

....Let's hope it's #1.

8/11/09

Opinions and Rants #14: A Dukes of Hazzard Lunchbox Will Soon Be Worth More Than the Hope Diamond

There was a time when flea markets and yard sales were stacked with tons of retro goodness on the cheap. It wouldn’t be that unusual to find a Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox marked with a sticker that read “25 cents”. Now, that same lunchbox is on Ebay going for 50 bucks (if not more). With the advent of widespread online buying and selling, the Dukes of Hazzard lunchbox went from nearly valueless trash to family heirloom in a matter of a few years.

This is obviously a boon for sellers and a bust for buyers. You might think the plus side to this is that a buyer has more collectibles available to buy than ever before. In other words, I might never run across a much desired Gabe Kaplan Halloween costume at the local flea markets, thrift stores and yard sales, but it’s up on Ebay for $65.99. This is true. I now have an opportunity I didn’t have before. However, now that it’s 100% about money rather than legwork and serendipitous luck, the thrill is gone. I can scavenge yard sales year after year looking for that needle in a haystack, or I can sit my butt in front of a computer for a few minutes and just buy one.

And one final note: finding treasures at flea markets and yard sales didn’t used to be so damn hard. By now, pretty much everybody knows their box in the attic full of Dynamite magazines and K-Tel records will turn a much bigger profit online than in a yard sale. So, you just don’t see these items near as much as you used to – there’s just as many haystacks, but there’s a lot less needles.

8/9/09

Vinyl Dynamite #14: Claudine Longet

Claudine
Click here to view full size

Track- "Think of Rain" on The Look of Love LP (1967)



Check out this beautiful young lady on the cover of this album - doesn't she look just sweet as a kitten? Look at her adorable little smile - cute as a button, I tell you. Well, looks can be deceiving. You geezers reading this (and you astute retrophiles) know exactly what I'm talking about. This perky young lass killed her husband in cold blood.... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The story really begins with her as a dancer in the Vegas act, Folies Bergère in 1960. Barbara Walters' father was the director of the show, and Claudine can be seen in the photo below holding the first "P" in "HAPPY". (Another picture from her Folies days can be found here.)


Then one day, her car broke down and she was stuck on the side of the road. As luck would have it, the singer Andy Williams was driving by and offered her help. Williams was smitted by this French girl whom he said was "a beautiful, athletic, slender, petite sleek brunette with large doe eyes." Not long after, they were married - she was 18 and he was 32.

Longet's career in music, TV and movies began shortly thereafter. Her first onscreen appearance was in a couple episodes of McHale's Navy. She went on to act in everything from Dr. Kildare to Hogan's Heroes.

My first exposure to Longet was her appearance in the Blake Edwards movie, The Party portraying the shy and vulnerable love interest of Peter Sellers. In the film, she has the opportunity to showcase her singing talents, and audiences lapped her up and were begging for more.

Several more movies followed, along with numerous successful albums and singles. It would seem. Claudine Longet had everything a woman could ever want: a rich and famous husband, three wonderful kids, and a respectable career in music and show business. Who could ask for more?

The couple were even good friends with Bobby Kennedy. In fact, they were supposed to go to a disco with him the night he was killed. Senator Kennedy told Andy and Claudine that he would make a "little hand gesture" at the end of his televised primary victory speech to let them know he could make it to the disco. The couple watched Kennedy's speech from their Bel Air home, and when the gesture was made the two hopped out of bed to get ready to head to the disco.... then they heard the shots ring out.... Three days later, Andy was singing at his friend's funeral. The couple would name their 3rd child Bobby.

That was 1968.... by 1970 they were legally separated. Claudine and the three kids moved in with the famous Olympic skier, "Spider" Sabich. He was handsome, talented, and had become quite a popular figure. Robert Redford even played him in a movie (Downhill Racer). But this is where the fairy tale ends. The relationship became tumultuous and in 1975, Spider was fatally shot in the abdomen by Claudine.

Claudine claimed the gun discharged accidentally, and was charged with only negligent homicide. The fact that she was high on cocaine never made it into the trial, nor was the fact that their relationship had become hostile. Subsequently, Claudine spent only 30 days in jail.

Claudine Longet all but disappeared from the pulic eye after her release from prison. She married her defense attorney and has been rarely seen or heard of since.

One final note: For those of you who believe in the whole Hope Diamond curse thing, add this story as further evidence. Claudine's last acting role was a TV movie about the Hope Diamond. (insert dramatic music here)

A couple of great sources of photos and information on Claudine Longet:
Cuddle Up with Claudine
Love Claudine
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