A Paean To The Hotel Lounge

Once upon a time, most hotels offered a nice place to grab a smoke, have a few drinks and listen to a little dinner music.

Many large high end hotels today do offer some nighttime entertainment, and your seedier roach motels generally have a bar nearby. But, back then even your local inauspicious Holiday Inn offered the vocal stylings of lounge singers, comedy acts and organ maestros.

The back cover of the Ken Demko LP shown below reads "The Lamplighter Inn is ideally located six miles southwest of Cleveland-Hopkins airport. Tuesdays through Saturdays the organ entertains listeners with nostalgic selections performed by leading pipe organists. We invite you to rustic Olmstead Township to enjoy our fine food, good drinks, and an evening of entertaining pleasure." (source: Bizarre Records)

Old records do a wonderful job of bringing to light the forgotten stars of the lounge era. After hotels phased out the lounges, these performers faded further into obscurity... their picture on an album cover is a sort of fossil of a bygone era. Maybe they never became big names performing at The Sands, but in their own little corner of the Ramada or Holiday Inn, they were kings.

By the late seventies, they were being mocked by Bill Murray on SNL. Murray's character, Nick, wore leisure suits that matched the wallpaper and murdered the Star Wars theme. He had the smarmy mannerisms of the typical lounge act down pat. Andy Kaufman was known to poke fun at them as well.

By the eighties, the lounges were renovated to fitness or gaming rooms. The lights had been cut off and the curtains closed on nearly all the hotel lounges in the US. Perhaps, it was for the best... maybe I'm just glamorizing the hotel lounge. Most of the people I've talked to about it remember them as being smoke filled, dark and depressing. I guess it's a matter of taste.

So, what's the take home message from this post? Next time you're stuck in a hotel room with nothing to do, and the only perk is the continental breakfast, remember that once upon a time...

Note: This picture is taken from a brochure. Click here to view full size.


Vinyl Dynamite #9: Woody Woodbury

Look through flea market bins and yard sales long enough and you're bound to run across a few Woody Woodbury records. Few are familiar with him today, but in his prime, Woodbury sold records in the millions. He was a comedian popular during the 1950's and 1960's for his slightly adult brand of humor, and was one of the first comedians pressed to vinyl.

He very nearly became the host of The Tonight Show rather than Johnny Carson. Instead, Woody replaced the vacancy left by Carson and McMahon on the TV show Who Do You Trust? And interestingly, prior to all this, he was a distinguished Marine Corps Jet fighter pilot during the Korean War.

woody woodbury
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Listen to a couple of his jokes from his album Woody Woodbury Looks at Love and Life - typical off-color gags used in clubs back in the day; generally about booze and slight sexual innuendo. The album says "for frisky adults only", but definitely G rated by today's standards.

WFMU's Beware of Blog has an excellent article on the interesting career of Woodbury. I highly recommend you check it out.

Mini Skirt Monday #15: Moments in Time

This is a great wedding photo captured at that perfect moment in time. I absolutely love the bride's expression, and check out those girls going airborne for that bouquet!

38 Years ago Today
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Check out these school girls from the early seventies. Could it be that the mini skirt went out of style simply because it could not get any higher? By the early seventies, the mini skirt had been taken to its most vertical extreme. This was demonstrated to an embarrassing effect on an infamous episode of Match Game '73 (watch it here).

Pep Squad Girls, 1971-72
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Of course, no one embraced the mini skirt trend more than the airline industry. Around 1972, women started protesting the practice, and a good deal of negative publicity was being generated. It didn't take long before the stewardess as "cocktail waitress in the sky" mentality was phased out almost entirely.

Click here to view full size

All pictures posted with links directing back to Flickr page as per Flickr Community Guidelines


Trivia Newton-John #9: Cannonball Run

Today's question is: Who won the Cannonball Run?

1. The oil sheik (Jamie Farr)
2. The wealthy business exec (Burt Convy)

3. The mechanic and the race car driver (Dom DeLuise and Burt Reynolds)

4. The Japanese driver of the high tech Subaru (Jackie Chan)

5. The spandex clad drivers of the Lamborghini (Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman)

6. The so-called "priests" (Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin)

7. The rednecks driving the NASCAR vehicle (Terry Bradshaw and Mel Tillis)

8. A guy who believes he's Roger Moore (Roger Moore)

9. or.... (choke)(sob).... FARRAH!!!!

As always, leave your answer in the comments section. Since this is a multiple choice, you can only answer once. Be the first to choose correctly and win a nice Trivia Newton-John Award to place proudly in your blog's sidebar. When the correct answer is given, I will post the award for the winner. Good luck!


Congratulations to jb funky - the man who brings the Lawrence Welk funk to the masses day after day on his awesome blog. Claim your prize, sir!


Foxy Ladies #1: Cyb and Patricia Barnstable

"Foxy Ladies" posts will center around the superfine babes of the 1970's. Those stone cold foxes that were, as we used to put it, TCFS (Too Cool For School). I tend to scavenge around the less traveled corners of the retro landscape, and will therefore explore many of the forgotten women of yesteryear. As usual, everything's basically rated PG around here... probably more benign than a Tiger Beat - but, hopefully, still a lot of fun.

I'll start with Cyb and Patricia Barnstable - perhaps better known as Betty I and Betty II on the short lived TV series Quark.

Quark had everything going for it: (1) science fiction was the rage thanks to Star Wars, (2) the writer was none other than Buck Henry and (3) it featured the smoking hot Cyb and Patricia Barnstable. There was only one problem... the show just wasn't very funny. Not a good quality in a comedy. The show was cancelled after only 7 episodes. (For more on this interesting little show, read a previous post.)

A few facts:

They were Doublemint Twins and cheerleaders for the University of Kentucky.

Their father was a great basketball player at UK and won an Olympic gold medal.

In 1971 their mother entered them in a beauty contest, so they drew straws to see who would enter. The "loser," Patricia, entered the contest and was named Miss Kentucky, and went on to become runner-up in the Miss USA pageant.

Cyb married a model, Lowell McGlothin. Judging strictly by his picture below, he seems kind of shmarmy. They divorced in 1984.

Patricia married Dr. David E. Brown, who died from diabetes in 2003. His death was the inspiration for The Barnstable Brown Gala held every eve of the Kentucky Derby. This event has raised over $15 million dollars for diabetic research.

Not too shabby. Now here's a few more screen caps from Quark...


Farrah Fawcett R.I.P.


A sad day indeed.

Important Things to Know #4

Some random facts for your viewing pleasure...

1. The actress who played David Banner's wife, Laura, in the burning car in the opening montage of The Incredible Hulk pilot was Dark Shadows star, Lara Parker (shown above). Her husband played little Tommy Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

2. Grand Marshal of the Gay Pride Parade, Dick Sargent, and lesbian, Fannie Flagg appeared on the game show Tattletales as husband and wife.

3. As a teenager, Daryl Hall was almost killed by falling boxes of mouthwash.

4. The brother of Joannie on Happy Days (Erin Moran) played Michael Myers in the movie Halloween (1978).

5. In a 1971 episode of the TV series Night Gallery, called The Last Laurel, Jack Cassidy (David Cassidy’s dad) played a character who accidentally killed himself while sleeping. In 1976, Cassidy accidentally killed himself while sleeping.

(Related Post: Important Things to Know #1)


Food & Drink #4: Spam

Spam 'n' Pancakes
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"Why get up, may I inquire?"
"Spam 'n' Pancakes on the fire."
"(Gag!) I would rather eat barb wire."

I think with my eyes closed, nose plugged, and drunk on Jagermeister, I might be able to swallow the Spam 'n' Pancakes and Spamwiches. However, no amount of preparation or substance abuse would be sufficient for me to ingest the Spam 'n' Spaghetti.

meatless meat loaf
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Nothing wrong with a meatless meatloaf. Veggie-burgers are not half bad, so why not meatloaf? Well, my friends, this meatloaf is made of macaroni. I think if I were starving and this was offered to me, I would choose death.


Cinema #1: The Harsh Reality of Film Adaptations of TV Shows

The cinematic history of old television shows brought to the big screen is a sad one, to say the least. Time after time, great shows have been adapted to film with less than stellar results. Sure, there have been a few good ones, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

So, I’ll spare you the long critiques and give you my one word reviews of TV shows adapted to film:

1. Fat Albert (2004) – Crap
2. Bewitched (2005)– Lame
3. The Honeymooners (2005) – Horrible
4. Get Smart (2008) – Awful
5. The Flintstones (1994)– Garbage
6. Charlie’s Angels (2000) – Lousy
7. The Mod Squad (1999)– Excrement
8. Speed Racer (2008) – Worthless
9. McHale’s Navy (1997) – Dung
10. The Avengers (1998) – Godawful
11. The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) – Mess
12. Dragnet (1987) – Trash
13. George of the Jungle (1997) – Shit
14. My Favorite Martian (1999) – Hellish
15. Lost in Space (1998) – Foul
16. Sgt. Bilko (1996) – Sinful
17. Wild Wild West (1999) - Waste
18. Dukes of Hazzard (2005) - Blows
19. I Spy (2002) - Fail

Starsky & Hutch doesn’t count considering it was much more of a parody than a faithful recreation. The same can be said for The Brady Bunch films.

I can count on one hand the number of TV to film adaptations that I did like: The Addam’s Family, Star Trek movies, The Naked Gun, Twilight Zone, and Scooby-Doo weren’t too bad. I have yet to see Land of the Lost (2009). Judging by why what I’ve read, I’m not in any hurry to see it.

So, what is it? Why is it so damn hard to bring a TV show to the big screen? Perhaps, it’s because the shows were designed for 30-60 minute episodes, and translating it to a feature length film stretches them beyond their intrinsic limitations (i.e. Boss Hogg was funny in small doses, but not for an hour and a half for $8.00). Or maybe it has a lot to do with Hollywood’s laziness – just riding on the name and coasting. For example, relying on the “Mod Squad” title on the marquee to lure in audiences – actually trying to construct a quality script with quality acting does not seem to be of primary concern.

I’m inclined to think it has more to do with laziness. Case in point: both A Night at the Roxbury and The Blues Brothers were both movies based on popular skits from SNL. One became a classic, and the other…. well, the less said about it the better.


Ads #18: Men Can't Forgive Mephitis

men can't forgive mephitis
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Okay, this is just plain gross. I understand this sort of thing happens; nonetheless, I didn't expect to find this in a 1942 issue of Woman's Day. Besides, feminine mephitis isn't really a technical or scientific term - it was probably made up for this ad. "Mephitis" is either a genus of skunk or simply a term for a foul emination.

Also, Zonite is "Dakin's solution" (sodium hypochlorite) which is essentially weak bleach. The product is still sold to this day.

Mini Skirt Monday #14: Dig That Groovy J-Sound

Evidently, the Japanese embraced the mini skirt trend with gusto and flair during the 60's and 70's. Take a look at a few records produced by Japanese female musicians from this era to give you an idea...

Golden Half
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Golden Half
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Pinky Chicks
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Ayumi Ishida
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I give 100 percent of the credit for this post to Peppermint Kiss Kiss on Flickr who has an excellent collection of vintage Japanese albums. Below each image is a link to the Flickr page as per the Flickr Community Guidelines.


Cheers to the Dads!

I hope all the dad's out there had great Father's Day. I capitalized on the opportunity and had my wife actually agree to go see a horror movie with me. We saw Drag Me To Hell - I loved it, and I think she did too, in spite of herself.

I also got one of those things by Roku that allows you to watch Netfilx movies instantly on your TV. I am really digging it. I'll be watching Family Ties and Buck Rogers tonight. This dad is feeling swell this Father's Day... nothing too exciting, but very, very nice.

I Miss the Record Store

I really miss the record store. Whenever my parents went shopping at the mall, I always hung out there- I was even known to loiter around the record section at the library. It was a genuinely pleasurable experience - those too young to remember it and came on board around the cassette tape era or the CD age, may not be able to appreciate it. What made it so damn special, you ask? I'll tell you...

1. The Album Covers
I could stare all day at some of those covers. I remember lingering over the cool covers like the 1978 Frazetta Molly Hatchet cover or the titilating ones like Honey by the Ohio Players. It was a room full of eye candy and I could have looked all day long.

2. The Treasure Hunt
Now when you buy a CD or purchase an iTune, you're just another schmuck who got a particular song. I'm happy that you got a song you liked, but who really effing cares? On the other hand, when you bought an album, you had a trophy of sorts - something to brag to friends about, something to pore over. Something that couldn't just be copied. And as you searched through the records, there was always the possibility of finding a hidden gem.... ever heard Junior Parker's version of The Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows"? It's on this killer LP that I found buried in the "P" stack, just waiting for my 9 year old hands to get a hold of it.

3. The Place
Anyone who remembers going to the video arcade can attest to the fact that it was just as much about the hangout as it was the games. The cast of characters at these places was a melting pot of 70's youth.... the cool dude that rolled up in a muscle car to purchase the new Foghat album, the glassy eyed stoners there to buy a Blue Oyster Cult LP, or the high school girl with the Rod Stewart album.

Needless to say, sitting on my ass alone downloading an mp3 just isn't the same. (sigh)


Ads #17: Kids Love Skinless Wieners

skinless wieners
Click here to view full size. I scanned this from a 1942 Woman's Day magazine.

Am I reading this right? The grandmother reads that a fairy gave the children all sorts of good things to eat... and instead of shouting "lollipops!" or "ice cream!", the kid shouts "wieners with no skins!" Wow.


Bell Bottoms in Space

If there's one thing I learned from Buck Rogers, it's that disco will make a comeback in the 25th century. Big bushy sideburns, large wide open collars and bell bottoms will also be making a return in about five hundred years.

It's easy to laugh at the 70's influences on Buck Rogers, but the fact is there wasn't a single sci-fi movie or TV show that didn't allow that special 70's style to creep in somehow.

George Lucas was pretty good at making Star Wars fairly sheilded from the 1970's. But take a good long look at Luke's feathered hair and Leia's sparkling lip gloss and you'll see that even a galaxy far, far away couldn't escape the 70's.

Anyone who watched Space:1999 knows the show should've been called Space:1976. Evidently, earth toned velour track suits were in vogue on Moonbase Alpha.

Indeed, everything on Logan's Run (both the TV show and movie) and Battlestar Galactica had that distinctive 70's flair. But perhaps the most striking 70's infiltration was not on a show set in the future or in another world... but a show set in the 1950's. Happy Days started out pretty accurately depicting the 50's - sure, it was over simplified and stereotyped a la American Graffiti, but it bore a pretty honest resemblance to the decade they were trying to portray. Then something went wrong.... horribly wrong.

Somewhere along the way, the writers, directors, producers and cast of Happy Days all said "screw it". In the last six or seven seasons there was no way for a person of reasonable intelligence to figure out the show was supposed to be set in the past. There were bell bottoms, wide collars, 70's hair galore, Suzi Quatro, tight denim, lip gloss - all the hallmarks of 70's fashion were shamelessly on display. To make matters worse, when the 1980's hit, the show adopted 80's fashions with equal enthusiasm.... the 1950's pretense was not even an afterthought.

I ask you, does this look anything like the 1950's?

Granted, movies and television shows set in different times have always contained bits of the culture they were created in. However, the 1970's style was so tacky and obnoxious, that I find a special sort of pleasure in finding it where it does not belong.


Sears a Go-Go

I love to pore over and analyze vintage advertisements. This one caught my eye.

1. How is there a Playboy Bunny in a Sears ad? I find it a tad unexpected that Sears used The Playboy Club for their advertising... then again, this is from 1969, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

2. Could they have found a goofier male model? Or perhaps it's just his cheesy expresion and vast helmet of hair.

3. Is he a waiter? He's wearing the same suit as the fellow in the background, and he's carrying a plate. If so, then why would Sears use waiters as models for their menswear? Who wants to look like a waiter?

4. And finally, Luxurata is a dumb brand name... I'm just sayin'.


Vinyl Dynamite #8: The Chaplain of Bourbon Street

It's Fun Being Saved
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Call me easily amused, but I get a kick out of listening to these old preachers. Not to demean them in any way, but hearing these pastors back in the 1960s and 1970s talk about how awful the hippies were is just plain hilarious.

This sound clip is from Bob Harrington, the so-called Chaplain of Bourbon Street. If you can make it through the clip you'll hear Harrington allude to the fact that the hippie peace symbol is comparable to the sign of the Anti-Christ or the Mark of the Beast!

Of course, Harrington's overall premise is a good one: don't be self-righteouse and exclude the hippies with their long hair and "two fingers pointed in the air". Don't be overly judgemental and, as he puts it, choke yourself with your halo. Amen, my brother. Preach it.

Bob Harrington: Youth in America
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The clip is from Harrington's Youth in America LP. The picture below is a close up of Harrington and his legions of youth. "Getting saved is fun!"


Mini Skirt Monday #13: Her Sunday Best

This article from Jet magazine 4/13/1967:

Pastor's Wife in Mini-Skirt Boosts Attendance
Over in London, England, Rev. Denis Janney and his 28 yr. old model-wife, Marjorie, received anonymous critical letters. "It's not their business what sort of skirt my wife wears. It's this kind of intolerance which keeps many people from going to church," said Rev. Janney, adding that as far as he knew, no one in his congregation objected to his wife's skirt. "The fact is - our attendance is growing," he said.

Somthing tells me Marjorie would have no problems with her skirt at Eli's NOW Church. What do you think?

[The album cover is from (where else?) the LP Cover Lover]


Favorite Worlds of Imagination

Dr. Monkerstein in a recent post answered the Onion's AV Club question:

Which works of fiction create a world (or a version of reality) that you’d consider most enjoyable to live in?

I would be tempted to say The Lord of the Rings - who wouldn't want to live in the rustic world of the Shire, right? I think I'd like it, but I have a feeling the Hobbits would hate me. I picture the Gamgee clan running me out of town, and I'm stuck fending for myself. I'm no ranger and would probably starve to death or be killed by a Barrow Wight or something. I'd go stay with Tom Bombadil and his hot wife, but I'd at least have to have Dish Network, TiVo, and access to a Starbucks.

No, the 25th Century is a much better place for me. Groovy chicks, wisecracking robots, and interstellar discos are what this blogger wants. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century would be perfect - all the artificial amenities of The Jetsons with the a dash of late 70's flare - count me in!

Then there's Logan's Run. Sure, you're exterminated before you reach thirty, but what a time you'll have till then! All the cleanliness, conveniences and hedonism you'd expect from a Utopian future. It makes Club Med looks dreary and boring by comparison.

And last but not least, the television show UFO. No surprises here, I have already proclaimed my deep and abiding passion to work for SHADO.

I don't think it's hard to spot a trend here with my three choices - sort of PG-13 versions of The Jetsons. I wonder what your favorite imaginative worlds would be...