1/31/11

Mind Bending Movies Through the Decades


I was watching Moon (2009) the other day and it struck me that there's been a lot of really good mind-bending movies out in recent years..... and there were hardly any during the 1970s and 80s.  We are truly living in the Golden Age of Cinematic Mind Blowers.  I'm not talking simply "science fiction"; I'm talking "this movie literally hurt my brain!"

The 1960's had precious few mind blowers - the penultimate being 2001: A Space Odyssey. Another film, Seconds, starring Rock Hudson, was so brain busting, it kept Brian Wilson away from movie theaters for 15 years!  Other than that, films tended to be either straight or artsy-fartsy avant garde.  Roger Corman drug culture movies made stabs at being transcendental, but weren't particularly deep, they were mainly just trying to look hip. The television provided most of the mind blowing via The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and Doctor Who.

The 1970's was perhaps the worst decade for trippy films.  After Easy Rider, things tended to be gritty and realistic.... there wasn't much room for science fiction mind games. Sure, there was A Clockwork Orange and Solaris, but that was just about it.  When Star Wars came around in the latter part of the decade, there was no hope whatsoever for mind blowers - science fiction had to be swashbuckling adventure.  Giant black obelisks on the moon were out; lightsaber duels were in.

1000 Posts!


On certain milestones like this I can't help but take a little time to celebrate, pat myself on the back and thank you readers.  What started as something to kill time during a lunch break in the Summer of 2008 has somehow managed to continue steadily to this day.  I've averaged over 30 posts a month with very few short throwaway ones, and I wouldn't even want to put a number on the amount of time that's been invested into Retrospace.

But I don't regret a single minute.  It's been a great hobby - it's cheap, an excellent creative outlet, and doesn't take too much of my time.  I don't really make that much money off it - just enough to cover my Rapidshare, Flickr, Usenet, etc. accounts to keep this blog rolling along.  I could make a great deal more, but I think advertising can really get in the way of the enjoyment; so, I've stuck with just the two ads in the sidebar (which you should click on every day if you like this blog at all).  When money is offered, I like to send it out via contests.

Some might consider blogging a monumental waste of time, but they'd be wrong.  If it's something you enjoy and it's not hurting anybody, then it's never a waste of time.  I feel fortunate that the things I write are read by hundreds of thousands of people across the world - it's an amazing thing.

I also find it rewarding to resurrect things from around the 1970s which might otherwise be forgotten. Someday there'll be a name for it (like pop culture archaeology) and it'll be a highly esteemed and respectable science.  Until then, however, I'll keep grinding away at Retrospace as long as you're there to read it.  Thanks for dropping by, and I you're still around for post number 2000!

1/29/11

Retrospace Mix Tape # 11: Dyn-O-Mite!!


If there was one word I could use to describe the 1970s, it would have to be "dynamite".... or, more appropriately, "dyn-o-mite".  It was not only a popular expression for "awesome", it was a catch phrase for J.J. Evans on "Good Times", a popular kids' magazine, and incorporated into many a movie title (i.e. Dixie Dynamite and Willie Dynamite).

I would be derelict in my duties as custodian of Retrospace to not provide you with some Dynamite tracks for your listening pleasure.  Not all are from the seventies, but all are, well, 100 percent dy-no-mite.

1/27/11

Fact or Fiction? #16: A World with No Geeks



We are so familiar with geeks these days; we almost take them for granted. One wonders what it was like before there were geeks….

Before geeks? Yes, there simply had to be a time when there were none simply because everything that defines them today did not exist prior to the 1970s. Think about it: What did geeks do before Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and computers? Don’t say “comic books” because comics were not the domain of geeks back then – there were no comic book stores operated by pompous uber geeks back in the day.

Geeks also did not have “Star Trek”. Sure it was on TV in the 1960’s; but it didn’t become an object of geek obsession until much later.

You might argue that they’ve always had some technology to tinker with (i.e. Popular Mechanics and big-ass computers), but this is where the difference between a nerd and a geek comes in, and things get tricky...

1/26/11

Vintage Reads #18: Pulp Stories



There's nothing new under the sun.  Today's tabloids may choose to concentrate on celebs more than they used to, but it's basically just as cheap, tawdry and senseless as it ever was.  The pulps and tabloids of the 50s - 70s typically preyed on people's fears of the new and unknown: beatniks, bikers, homosexuals, loose women, foreigners, etc.  The article title page was often decorated with a photograph or illustration to further escalate the rabid frenzy.... and the audacious titles closed the deal.

What's not to love about these old pulp headlines? Not only are they a great insight into the collective consciousness of the times, but they're also good for a laugh.  Let's take a look at a few...

1/25/11

Retrospace Trading Cards #3: Major League Whore Cards



I'm really hoping no one takes offense at this, but I just couldn't help myself.  The idea of Whore trading cards just just struck me as extremely humorous (yes, I know, I'm easily amused).  I tried my best to make them look like those old cards from the seventies, as legit as possible.  Anyway, I hope you get a kick out this set. Enjoy.

1/24/11

Vintage Style #17: The Colors of the Seventies



It's hard to pin down the collective tastes of a planet for an entire decade.  It's easy to say the seventies were all about browns and earth tones, but that's not completely accurate.  Sure, the entire country seemed awash in shades of brown for a few years in the 70s; however, the decade also had its share of super loud color expressions.

The "browning of the seventies" was really a reaction to the psychedelic color palette of the late sixties.  We'd had enough of The Magical Mystery Tour; now it was time for some marijuana infused color schemes of brown, light brown, dark brown, red-brown, or orange-brown.... and maybe just a little bit more brown.  Accent it with some Harvest Yellow, Avocado Green or more brown, and you're in business!

But, to complicate things, there was still a tendency to go really wild with colors.  Often combing colors that should've never been combined - namely red and yellow..... or orange and (you guessed it) brown.

Mini Skirt Monday #64: Minis on Seats

no boys allowed

Yes, dear readers, it has come to this.  It seems my Miniskirt Monday themes are running dry.  However, the current topic - miniskirts in seats, does bring up a semi-interesting point: the tragic flaw of the mini (from the women's perspective) was that the mini skirt made it awkward to sit.  You had to be extremely conscious of your lower body, otherwise certain men may get an eyeful.  Indeed, yearbooks and family photos from the late 60s- early 70s are littered with images of girls contorting and covering themselves so not to have their undergarments appear on film.

Perhaps, when all is said and done, the real reason for the phase-out of the mini was simply the fact that the ladies were effing tired of worrying about it.... just a thought. Anyway, enjoy the seated minis - this time, all in black and white.

1/23/11

Trivia Newton-John #20: $75 Prize - 1980s New Wave in the UK



Once again, the ever great and awesome CSN has agreed to sponsor another edition of Trivia Newton-John.  Honestly, if there was any place I'd want a gift certificate for, it would be this place simply because they have a ton of good stuff.  There's over 250 CSN stores offering everything from dog beds, to food processors, to modern bar stools, to home gym equipment, to lava lamps! Trust me when I say you should have no problem spending your winnings there.

Anyway, this time around we have an audio track that is approximately 10 minutes long which has short clips from 25 different musicians.  You will have to correctly name in order all 25 songs and the corresponding 25 musicians.  Here's a few hints:

Every song/artist could be considered "new wave" or "alternative"
All songs are by artists from the U.K. (however, there may be Australian artist(s) in there as well)
All songs were popular in and around the 1980's

Here's the contest rules and information:
  1. Be the first to name ALL 25 songs and the artists who sing them
  2. Your list must be in order and numbered from 1 to 25
  3. All comments/answers will be posted in real time.  So, if you get only 24 of 25 right, someone can come around and fill in your missing/incorrect answer and win (i.e. only actually guessing one right).  The winner still MUST LIST ALL 25 IN HIS OR HER COMMENT.
  4. You cannot be anonymous - I have to have a way to contact you in order for you to get the promotional code to collect you loot.
  5. The $75 can be used at any of the >250 CSN stores; however, it does not include shipping.
Good Luck!

Listen to the track or download it


Note: This challenge has also been uploaded as a podcast. So, for those Retrospace Podcast subscribers, this will be Podcast #10.

1/20/11

Who's that Girl? The Case of the Mystery Model



I go through a lot of old catalogs, magazines, and the like.... probably more than most anyone.  And as I go through old paper media I often come across famous figures before they were famous, which is always interesting.  I will also find recognizable faces - some unidentified model who happens to be in a lot of ads and catalogs.  And I can say, without hesitation, that the chick pictured above is in more shit than anyone, and I mean any other model out there. 

I haven't seen her in the more upscale publications like Vogue or Cosmo; however, she's damn sure in about everything else I come across.  It's starting to drive me crazy, because nowhere is her name credited... at least nowhere that I can find.

You start seeing her around 1968, and she's everywhere till about 1976; then, you don't see her anymore.  But in that eight year time period, this chick was busy!  She's in everything from JC Penny catalogs to Needlework leaflets to Christian publications (see below).

1/19/11

Cinema #15: Killer Lobby Cards (Part 2)

lobby card (91)

Okay, time for another round of lobby cards.  They're great reminders of movies that aren't so well remembered.  How many of you have seen and remember Play It As It Lays or They Only Kill Their Masters? Precious few, I'm sure.

There's already a wealth of sites out there specializing in movie posters; however, not too many that resurrect old lobby cards.  So, to fill the void, here's some more killer lobby cards, complete with snarky comments from yours truly. Enjoy!

1/18/11

Retrospace Podcast #9


Are you ready for a roundhouse kick across the fabric of time? This audio dynamite is so densely packed into  twenty minutes, this podcast is literally in danger of folding space, and subsequently destroying the universe.  It's an unstoppable force: only Chuck Norris or the ghost of Elvis stand a chance against it.   Take a listen, but you've been warned.



Track List
  • Vintage Elevator Music
  • I Spit on Your Grave (1978) Trailer
  • "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  • Clip from the Three Mile Island Disaster
  • Password game show theme
  • "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"
  • vintage bumper music
  • "Balls to the Wall" quote by The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jana
  • “Swamp Fever” from the 1972 porno film Fantasy 
  • Clip from Sixteen Candles
  • “The Equalizer” TV series theme
  • “Kid Dynomite” clip from “Good Times” TV show
  • 70s bumper music
  • Bob Hope zombie movie quote
  • “If” as sung by Telly Savalas
  • Six Million Dollar Man toy commercial
  • "Ski Ride" from the Barbarella soundtrack
  • Anaconda Malt Liquor
  • Theme song to Dirty Harry
  • "Joe Cool" by Vince Guaraldi from a Charlie Brown TV special

1/17/11

The Boob Tube #23: The Greatest Sci-Fi TV Themes and Intros

Star Trek

Like any "greatest ever" list, it's just someone's opinion. Take it or leave it.  I've had over forty years of science fiction intros entering my skull. Before I could even walk, I was watching Doctor Who with my dad.  Naturally, my choices are affected by nostalgia and sentimentality, and not a purely objective look at the pieces themselves.  It's unavoidable.

Before I ramble on even further, here's my choices for the greatest science fiction television show intros and theme songs.  The best part is, I've included audio clips so you can listen to each one!

Mini Skirt Monday #63: Miniskirt '70

1970

The mini skirts and mini dresses featured in this edition of Miniskirt Monday are all from catalog pages from around 1970.  It was time when things were extremely colorful and bright.  The palette and styles strike me as extremely optimistic.  In the 1980s, these same sort of happy fun fashions would return after a long earth toned hiatus in the seventies.

At first glance, they appear to be late sixties fashions; however, the hemlines should give it away.  Unless you were in Swinging London parading down Carnaby Street, hemlines were rarely much higher than the knee.  It wasn't until '69 that these high hemlines became commonplace.

Enough history.  Sit back and enjoy another batch of miniskirts from the beginning of my favorite decade!

1/16/11

Needlework A-Go Go #13: More Workbasket

Workbasket Magazine_0006

Like I said in the last Workbasket post - I've acquired a pile of these old needlework leaflets and had to share some scans.... too many to toss in a single post.  So here's some more knitted creations to burn onto your retina.  Enjoy.

1/14/11

Retrospace Mix Tape #10: Disco Explosion!


  1. NBC Disco Promo
  2. Sounds Of The Inner City - Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
  3. Trammps, The - Disco Inferno
  4. Fantastic Four - Disco Pool Blues
  5. Michele - Disco Dance
  6. Claudja Barry - Sweet Dynamite
  7. Lovers, The - Discomania
  8. Wilton Place Street Band - Disco Lucy (I Love Lucy Theme)
  9. Ritchie Family - The Disco Blues
  10. King Errisson - Disco Congo
  11. Kaylan - Disco Reggae
  12. Vamps, The - Disco Blood
  13. Jerry Rix - Disco Train
  14. Carol Douglas - Dancing Queen
  15. Webster Lewis - Saturday Night Steppin' Out
  16. Camouflage - A Disco Symphony
  17. NBC Disco Promo (60 sec)
download

1/13/11

Retro Face Off: Porky's vs. American Graffiti



Both Porky's and American Graffiti depict a day in the life of a group of teenagers growing up in semi-small town America during the 1950s.  Both have essentially no plot other than following around these teens and observing their antics and interpersonal conflicts.

American Graffiti is heralded as a classic, and boosted the careers of Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Suzanne Somers, Richard Dreyfus, McKenzie Phillips and Ron Howard - not to mention director George Lucas.  It currently has a 7.6 IMDb rating.  In stark contrast, Porky's is considered juvenile crap and didn't spawn a single career other than Kim Cattrall.  It gets a paltry 5.8 on IMDb.

So the Face Off has already been won on IMDb with American Graffiti emerging as the victor by a wide margin. But, here's my two cents: I think Porky's is the better movie.  Yeah, that's right.  Porky's is better.  Here's why.

1/12/11

Found Photos #1: Studio Portraits

1971 Mejuffrouw Ronners

You may have wondered why Retrospace hasn't done a post on old portraits - you know, the Olan Mills variety, the kind still hanging in your parent's house, much to your eternal shame.  I've covered vintage fashion and decor extensively, but haven't felt like putting up so-called "found photos".  The reason is the same reason I detest the People of Wal-Mart website.  It's condescending.

That being said, I'm over it now.  I shouldn't underestimate my readers - it's okay to laugh at ourselves.  After all, we all looked like this in the seventies.  It's good natured fun, really.  And it just wouldn't be right to keep some of these godawful treasures to myself.  These pictures belong on Retrospace - this is their natural resting place.  So, bring it on - here come some old studio photographs for your viewing pleasure!

1/11/11

The Boob Tube #22: 1980s TV Theme Songs

K-Power Issue 04 1984

Take a minute to enjoy some cool television intros theme songs from the 80s. It should come as no surprise that my favorite decade for theme songs is the seventies. However, the eighties weren't too shabby.... my favorite being Simon & Simon, my worst being Mr. Belvedere.

Here's a few eighties TVtheme songs for your listening pleasure. Enjoy.

Cinema #14: Killer Lobby Cards (part 1)

lobby card (209)

Since the early days of cinema, studios produced cards to be displayed or handed out in theaters.  They are basically small movie posters - typically featuring a scene from the movie with the title, and some sort of illustration and text in the sidebar.  By 1985, studios stopped producing them in the U.S. since the traditional theater was extinct and replaced by multiplexes.  However, they continued to be issued abroad.

The lobby card above typifies my favorite characteristics of a card:
(1) It's a lesser known movie (I have no time for a Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark cards - not interesting)
(2) It has a nice illustration in the sidebar
(3) It has a full color still from the movie, complete with cheesecake
(4) It has the tag line - these are always fun to read
(5) I'm a sucker for retro fonts - so, I love it when the movie title is rendered artistically

Here's another on that more than meets the requirements...

lobby card (227)


1/10/11

Mini Skirt Monday #62: Miniskirt '74

1974

1974 was a monumental year in the history of the miniskirt.  Since its popularization in 1967-8, the hemline had never been higher; however, more importantly is the fact that this was officially the last year of the miniskirt (until the mid-eighties, that is).

Indeed, catalogs the following year would contain plenty of pants (preferably high waisted with large flares) and long dresses.... but the mini had gone bye-bye.  Some say the mini's hemline had simply gone as high as it could go, other say the economy plunged, and still others say that it was just "its time".  In other words, fashion by its very definition is cyclical - and the miniskirt was no exception.  By 1975, they were a distant memory.

Well, my job on Mondays here at Retrospace is to keep the mini's memories alive.  Here are some catalog pages of the mini's final days.  Enjoy.

1/9/11

Ads #40: Old School Beauty



Whadya think? Is this a good look for you? To me, this sort of crosses the line between eye shadow and clown paint.  But considering there once was a time when men wore powdered wigs and thick makeup, I guess it's not too shocking to believe this was once fashionable.

1961

This is a hairstyle that has absolutely no need for this product.  Of all the possible hairstyles - beehives were around in 1961 - they chose this one. Very odd.

1/8/11

The Retrospace Dictionary #6

BOOZE BLANKET

booze blanket:  the warmth generated by a sufficient amount of alcohol consumption.

1/7/11

Retrospace Podcast #8


Are you ready for another 20 minute roller coaster ride through the dark recesses of vintage audio? Can your eardrums accommodate the sudden shift from disco to Todd Rundgren singing about vikings? Can your brain withstand the jump from Hong Kong Phooey to Leonard Nimoy searching for Bigfoot? If you feel up to it, download the podcast or simply stay awhile and listen.




Complete track list:
Generic vintage radio intro
Massacre at Central High radio spot 1976
Generic elevator music from the seventies/ Charles Manson convicted news clip
"Sexy Cream" by Slick
"Match Game" clip
Short bumper
"Simon and Simon" TV theme song
Trouble Man trailer (1974) quote: "Chalky's dead. Now I'm comin' 'ta get your honky ass."
"The Viking Song" by Todd Rundgren
"Hong Kong Phooey" TV theme song
Clip from The Jerk
"Sky High" by Jigsaw
Clip from "In Search Of... Bigfoot" narrated by Leonard Nimoy
"Spaceman" by Harry Nilsson
Drive In Movie announcement
Fred Flintstone bowling sound effect

Download

Of course, the easiest and best way to listen to the podcast is by subscribing to the feed.

1/6/11

Mod as Hell



Scanned from an old Gentlemen's Quarterly from the late sixties, these mod fashions really caught my eye.  Say what you want about the mod style, it certainly had a frenetic energy that is hard to ignore, even forty years later.

Mod was a victim of its own popularity.  Once it became over-popularized, as evidenced by this spread in GQ, the young Brits gravitated to other forbidden fruits of youth, namely psychedelia.   Both GQ and Esquire had long been the domain of sweater vest wearing, martini drinking bachelors..... the fact that a mod fashion spread had made its way to GQ was a red flag that the young would soon be through with it.

It wouldn't be long before the mod style morphed into that spectacular (albeit mostly mythical) point in time known as Swingin' London.  So, enjoy these images from when mod was mainstream.  Some are godawful, but that's the price you pay when you take risks and let your creativity run wild.... history (those, like us, far removed) will not understand, and therefore laugh.  But at this point in time, this was the coolest of the cool.

1/5/11

Retrospace Mix Tape #9: Theme from (fill in the blank)


Here's a collection of songs for your listening pleasure: each song has "theme from..." in its title.  In other words, this isn't just a collection of theme songs, this is a collections of theme songs that say they're theme songs!

Needlework A-Go Go #12: Workbasket Magazine

The Workbasket Magazine_0016

The 'Workbasket' magazine started publication in October 1935 with a 16-page issue, printed on newsprint. It was titled: "Aunt Martha's Workbasket, Home and Needlecraft, For Pleasure and Profit".... little would Aunt Martha know, Workbasket would become Ground Zero for some of the best and worst fashions of the sixties and seventies.

Throughout the decades, Workbasket printed handmade fashions in full color. The models were amateur and the  photographers even more inexperienced.... it all led to a charm that can't be found in old copies of Vogue and Cosmo. The magazine (or more correctly, "leaflets") could be found by a couch or comfy chair in living rooms across the country.... until it abruptly ended in 1996.  By then, a single issue cost more than an entire year's worth of the initial run of the magazine.  But after 671 issues and a high circulation, it has no danger of being lost to the sands of time.  Plenty of copies are to be found on ebay and flea markets across the country.

In fact, I recently acquired a big cardboard box full of Workbasket magazines.  I simply had to scan some of them to share with you on Retrospace.  Here's a sampling.... I had to split it into two posts to not overload you with too many images at once. Enjoy!

1/3/11

Obscure Grooves #15: Harry Nilsson


Truth be told, Harry Nilsson isn't obscure.... but he's much more obscure than he should be.  Sure, longtime fans of music know him instantly, but your average bloke has never heard of him.  A lot of that has to do with his own self-destructive nature. Undoubtedly, a youth spent in poverty, literally robbing stores and eating dog food, and without a father figure, had repercussions later in life... and ultimately on his legacy

In the beginning, he worked at a bank until he got one of his songs picked up by The Monkees ("Cuddly Toy"). He quit his job and produced one of the best albums of the decade, prompting none other than The Beatles to publicly name him their favorite recording artist.  Fame was instant.

The problem was, Harry had a big time death wish, and began drinking and doing drugs round the clock.  And he would follow up each of his successes with questionable choices.  For instance, after "Everybody's Talkin'" (the theme from Midnight Cowboy), he followed it up with an entire album of Randy Newman covers. WTH?

Then, he goes and makes his next project a 90 minute TV cartoon special, called The Point.  Granted, it was a cool idea, and had great music.... but career-wise, perhaps not the best choice. "My Arrow" from this special is one of my favorites...



Nilsson Schmilsson was a highly successful album in 1971, and won him further critical acclaim.  This was his shining moment, the warm up act to a bright future and rock & roll legend status.... but it was not meant to be.  Nilsson followed it up with a horribly put together album he recorded whilst coked up and drunk, then an entire album of standards!  Are you kidding?

Sinatra and Cole Porter are great, but is this something you'd do while riding the crest of success? IMHO Harry Nilsson has perhaps the greatest singing voice in pop music history, so I'm glad he did it - A Touch of Schmilsson in the Night is incredible.  But it didn't exactly do wonders for his career.

It gets worse.  In 1974, he teams up with John Lennon and the two enable each other into a drug fueled haze.  The result: an album full of incomprehensible screaming, and Nilsson's great gift, his voice, was ruined.

Next, he takes things even further and makes a low budget horror movie with Ringo Starr called Son of Dracula.  It was another legacy killing mistake, but you can still see the talent underneath.  "Daybreak" is one of my favorite songs ever.



The rest of the story reads like your typical VH1 Behind the Music. He damages his body so badly, he dies an early death. But not before his accountant robs him blind and his record company literally pays him to not record with them.  Fortunately, his last few years were with his loving wife and he was able to regain some of his fortune via soundtracks for Popeye and The Fisher King.

So, with so many mistakes and missed opportunities, why does he deserve a favorable legacy? Because, at times, Nilsson's work is pure genius.... his status with The Beatles was well earned.  His voice was incredible, and he was one of the most melodic songwriters I've ever heard - only Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson stand above him.

"But beyond the melody and voice was remarkable depth.  He could be silly (i.e. "Coconut") but also an incredible word-smith.  The Three Dog Night hit song "One" was penned by Nilsson, and "1941" is possibly the best autobiographical song ever recorded.  But you often have to look past the surface to get to the meat of the song.  I'll leave you with "Good Old Desk", which seems silly and trite, until you realize the Good Old Desk is really G-O-D, and the song takes on new meaning.



A genius songwriter and an incredible singer, but also one self destructive son-of-a-gun.  In the end, it caught up with him.  But I think time will be kind to Nilsson, and his brief but shining time in the spotlight will still be listened to and talked about for many years to come.

Opinions and Rants #29: Everything That Ever Was - Available Forever (ETEWAF)


Patton Oswalt has an article in Wired that is a must read for those interested in pop culture - past and present.  In the essay, Oswalt expresses his theory that society is approaching a state of ETEWAF.  Where once you had to piecemeal your niche interests together one comic book or VHS cassette at a time, today you can become an expert in any narrow interest in a single weekend! I would tend to agree: things are progressing so fast in that direction, I don't think many of us pop culture addicts have stopped to think about the implications.

When I was a kid, a movie came to the movie theater for a few weeks, then it was gone (you assumed) FOREVER. Think about that for a moment.  I had no idea that there would be HBO, VHS, DVDs, Netflix, and (gasp!) torrents! For all I knew, when The Billion Dollar Hobo came to town, that was your one and only chance to catch this movie, ever.  For all I knew, that episode of Starsky & Hutch would never air again.... certainly never on demand.

In contrast, now I can be a Starsky & Hutch expert in a weekend.  I can watch every single episode whenever I want via Hulu or Netflix, I can watch the Ben Stiller remake, I can read all the information surrounding the show on the Internet (i.e. IMDb, Wikipedia, etc.), and I can probably find a few forums of  rabid S&H fans.  I can buy David Soul's album on Amazon, watch the special features on the DVD, listen to the commentary, and read past magazine articles about S&H via Google News or back issues of old magazines available online.... while listening to the soundtrack!  You get the point.  Even the most obscure nooks of the pop culture landscape are available for plunder.

This development is of special interest to me, given that Retrospace is all about plundering less traveled paths in our pop culture past.  Patton Oswalt contends that this may not be healthy for our creative output.  In other words, we're spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror, and not enough on the road ahead.  We are becoming a culture of regurgitated bits from the past; a culture of remakes and lame pop culture references (i.e. Family Guy and VH1 I love the 80's, etc.).

Oswalt believes that when we hit ETEWAF, pop culture will reach its critical mass and implode.  When every book ever made is on every Kindle, and every movie ever made is on every TV, and every song ever made is on every mp3 player.... it will all be over.  No more frothing at the mouth waiting for the newest Italian giallo to be released on Blu-Ray - it already has.  It's ALL available... so what do we do now?

When the Coen Brothers remake of Cannonball Run II in IMAX 3-D spoken entirely in Esperanto hits the theaters, no one will care.  It will all be over. We will all start looking forward again.  We will stop this mad dash to explore the entire surface of our pop culture past, and be content with what lies ahead.

Or so Patton Oswalt would predict....

I have a slightly different opinion.  We are certainly on the road to ETEWAF, no arguments there.  But I don't think having an unlimited resource at our fingertips is a bad thing, nor do I think it leads to some sort of pop culture supernova.

Surely, the constant obscure pop references we see on Family Guy will get old (.... or has already become severely old).  But having this incredible mine as an inspiration is a good thing - after all, every great burst of creativity has relied on something before it.  The Beatles didn't form in a vacuum - they had blues and rockabilly to spark the fire.  Indeed, the Renaissance came about because of a rediscovery of Classical Greek and Roman culture. Get my drift?

Furthermore, I don't think we are in any danger of not having an obscure niche to call our own. We may have to plunder a little deeper, but if we dig deep enough there will always be hidden treasures.  The topsoil is gone, as Oswalt says, but there will always be plenty of bedrock to keep us happy and inspired to create "the next new thing".

1/2/11

Vintage Reads #17: Tabloid '75



Today we're giving props to those insane tabloids of the 1970s - specifically The National News Extra.  There were tons like it, but TNNE is the cream of the crop IMHO.  I don't know really anything about the paper except that they specialized in manic headlines and way over-the-top articles.  Yes, the world according to TNNE was a violent and disgusting place.... but fun to read!

Let's have a look at the November 23, 1975 issue of TNNE.  The headlines promise some pretty juicy stuff - let's see if it delivers.

First we have a piece of hard hitting journalism regarding Henry Kissinger's propensity to mine for gold in that tremendous schnoz of his.

"He acts like someone dumped itching powder in his snuff box," one observer said in disgust. "He can't keep his fingers out of his nose. It's pathetic."....Another observer reported that the secretary's hands often were stained with a dark substance "that just smelled awful"...


1/1/11

The Boob Tube #21: TV Shows That Time Forgot (C)


Time for another round of forgotten pieces of crap television shows from the seventies and eighties.  No hidden gems in this batch, folks.  These shows are forgotten for a reason.... I apologize in advance for unearthing any repressed memories of these bad, bad shows.



"Co-Ed Fever" (1979)

What's remarkable about this Animal House rip-off was that, despite the presence of Heather Thomas, this show lasted only one episode.  Did you catch what I just said? ONE EPISODE!  There's only been a handful of shows that were so bad they didn't make it to a second episode - and I don't think any situation comedy from the sixties through the eighties bears this dubious distinction.