Sunday, March 26, 2006

Retro pic of the week - Cabbage Patch Dolls

From the Deccan Herald:
They are tubby, they are chubby, they are funny and rather adorable! They are the amazing Cabbage Patch dolls that made people around the world mad about them! And went on to create the doll success story of the century! Creating record breaking sales for its company - Caleco, Inc.

In 1983 the magical Cabbage Patch Mania overtook America! Everyone was obsessed with possessing at least one Cabbage Patch Kid doll. A riot started when a crowd got fed up of waiting for eight hours to buy this doll and one poor woman’s leg broke! The store manager had to use a baseball bat to save himself from the vicious crowd! In another store a crowd running madly to grab the chubby dolls, knocked down a pregnant woman. A postman in Kansas who could not get a Cabbage Patch for his daughter flew to London to buy one for her! This mad craze for a doll lasted for several years and it was hard for other companies to sell their dolls. What was so special about these chubby little newcomers? Who looked so cool and naughty and yet so innocently huggable? And where did they come from?

These unusual dolls brought in 600 million dollars in wholesale revenues for Coleco in 1985 and 540 million dollars the year before. The father of the Cabbage Patch Kids is a man named Xavier Roberts. He was the youngest of six children and his family was poor. His father died in a car accident and his mother Eula worked in a factory all day and sewed quilts at night to make more money.

Photo courtesty of

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Buck Owens dies at 76

From the NY Times:
LOS ANGELES, March 25 (AP) — Buck Owens, the rhinestone cowboy who shaped the sound of country music with hits like "Act Naturally" and later brought it to television on the long-running show "Hee Haw," died Saturday. He was 76.

Mr. Owens died at his home, said a family spokesman, Jim Shaw. The cause of death was not immediately known. Mr. Owens had surgery for throat cancer in 1993 and was hospitalized with pneumonia in 1997.

His career was one of the most phenomenal in country music, with a string of more than 20 No. 1 records, most released from the mid-1960's to the mid-1970's.

They were recorded with a honky-tonk twang that came to be known throughout California as the Bakersfield sound, named for the town 100 miles north of Los Angeles where Mr. Owens first found success.

"I think the reason he was so well known and respected by a younger generation of country musicians was because he was an innovator and rebel," said Mr. Shaw, who played keyboards in Mr. Owens's band, the Buckaroos. "He did it out of the Nashville establishment. He had a raw edge."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Retro gaming poll

Why do you play retro games? Vote in this poll.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Retro pic of the week - Catherine Bach

From Wikipedia:
Catherine became a TV icon when, unhappy with the wardrobe provided for her Daisy Duke character, she fashioned short shorts from a pair of jeans, donned her famous pantyhose, and walked into history. Thanks to the actress and her character, the term "Daisy Dukes" is now synonymous with cut off denim jean shorts in popular vernacular. Catherine sold over 5 million copies of her now famous "Daisy Duke" poster.

After several years of private life, interest in Catherine surged in 2005 with the premiere of "The Dukes of Hazzard" on Country Music Television (CMT) to a record 23 million viewers in the first weekend. She is currently in talks to pen her memoirs.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Retro pic of the week - Bettie Page

Courtesy of the LA Times:
Between 1949 and 1957 she was immortalized in thousands of saucy photos. Those images have spawned biographies, comic books, fan clubs and numerous websites, as well as commercial products — Bettie Page playing cards, Bettie Page lunch boxes, Bettie Page beach towels, Bettie Page action figures.

According to her agents at CMG, who control the images of Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana, Page's official website, , has received 588 million hits over the last five years. That's cult status.

For the last 13 years, she's been living in seclusion in various Southern California communities. Nearly five decades after the last photos of her appeared in magazines like Chicks and Chuckles, Page is finally earning a respectable income for her work.

"I'm more famous now than I was in the 1950s," she said.

Page needed about a minute to get through the 10 letters of her name. As she pushed her pen, she reflected on her life and faith and work.

"Being in the nude isn't a disgrace unless you're being promiscuous about it," she said. She added with a laugh, "After all, when God created Adam and Eve, they were stark naked. And in the Garden of Eden, God was probably naked as a jaybird too!"

"You're right about that, Bettie," said Maricel Hildalgo of the Tamara Bane Gallery on North La Brea Avenue in L.A. The gallery had hustled $100,000 worth of paintings and posters to CMG the moment Page agreed to make herself available for autographs.

"My land! Is that supposed to be me?" asked Page, surveying a painting of her reclining in a negligee with an ecstatic smile on her face.

Putting pen to canvas and concentrating mightily, she muttered, "I was never that pretty."

But to generations of men, she was.

I had another pic i was going to use for this week's retro pic but i came across that article today at the LA Times website and it was a no brainer to use a pic of Bettie Page. You can read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The hottest band in TV commercials

NEW YORK (Billboard) -- Sixteen years after they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and 23 years after their last top 10 hit ("Come Dancing"), the Kinks are in the spotlight again -- thanks to a number of TV spots that feature their distinctive pop music.

A couple of weeks ago, the British band's top 10 hit from 1964, "All Day and All of the Night," helped launch a new Tide campaign. In the coming weeks, the group's "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" and "Everybody's Gonna Be Happy" will be heard in spots for IBM and Abbott Labs, respectively.

Additional licensing opportunities for the Kinks' music are in the works, says Kenny Ochoa, VP of film/TV licensing at Sanctuary Records Group, which represents the group.

Even though many of the songs used were not big U.S. hits, Ochoa credits this "Kinks renaissance" to the timelessness of the band's music, which has influenced many of today's rock bands.

He says an additional credit must go to Hewlett-Packard, which licensed the Kinks' "Picture Book" for an award-winning 2004 campaign.

"When spots work, they really work," Ochoa says. "The music and visuals drove that spot -- it was a perfect marriage."

Many agree. "The song captured the overall spirit of the spot," says Eric Korte, VP/music director of Saatchi & Saatchi in New York.

The same is true of the new Tide spot, which Korte worked on. While the lyrics of "All Day and All of the Night" cleverly fit in with the detergent's clean-clothes-at-all-times mantra, the song's classic guitar lick is just as powerful.

"You hear that guitar part and your brain starts singing the song's hook," Korte says. "This is helpful in advertising." Which helps to explain why many classic '60s and '70s rock songs, with simple hooks and recognizable riffs, are being championed in campaigns today.

Indeed, those paying close attention will recall that "All Day and All of the Night" has been used during the past couple of years in spots for Kohl's, Saab and GM.

Unfortunately, many of these classic songs, including "All Day and All of the Night" and "Picture Book," are not available at the iTunes Music Store.

What is available at iTunes is the new solo album from Kinks' frontman Ray Davies. Issued February 21 in the United States via V2, "Other People's Lives" arrives at a time when there appears to be a renewed interest in the band Davies helped form. But V2 says it has no plans to connect the dots between the voice heard in all these TV ads and Davies' new album.

While it's nice that these old songs are getting attention once again it does seem like bands such as the Kinks are selling out. I guess they can justify it in their own minds by saying that the songs are reaching a whole new generation. To me it cheapens the true meaning of those songs. I've seen Lynyrd Skynyrd songs being used in beer commercials. That is a sign things have gone too far. I know the temptation of money is hard to resist but are all these bands struggling to put food on the table? I think not.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Retro pic of the week - The Sleestak

The Sleestak from the 1970s Saturday morning adventure show Land of the Lost were pretty scary when you're a kid. Who could forget that hissing sound they'd make. For a Saturday morning kids show, the Land of the Lost was pretty intense. Of course by today's standards the show is really dated and kids of today would just laugh at how ridiculously slow the Sleestak were. Nevertheless, the Sleestak were pretty scary back in the day. An interesting bit of trivia is that college basketball players such as Bill Laimbeer(who later played for the Detroit Pistons) were in the Sleestak costumes. Rumor has it that a Land of the Lost movie is in the works. It'll be interesting to see what they do with the Sleestak using the technology of today.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Trying to ban `imposter bands'

From the Charlotte Observer:
HARTFORD, Conn. - Doo-wop and rock 'n' roll legends are asking lawmakers across the country to stop performances by some not-so-great pretenders.

There are hundreds of bands touring the country these days claiming to be The Platters, The Drifters, The Coasters or some other group from the '50s and '60s, according to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pa.

Most of them have no ties to the original artists.

"They undercut the legacy of those artists by pretending to be them," said Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, former member of the oldies band Sha Na Na and head of the hall's Truth in Music Committee.

"Almost worst of all is the way in which they steal the applause from the great veterans and pioneers that crafted rock 'n' roll music back in the 50s and early 60s," he said.

The Hall of Fame is working with numerous states to pass "Truth in Music" legislation. It would allow state attorneys general to stop an impostor band performance with an injunction and seek civil penalties of up to $15,000 against impostor bands and those who promote them.

Last week, Pennsylvania's governor signed a bill into law. South Carolina and North Dakota now have comparable laws on the books. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, California, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Nevada and Missouri are debating the issue or are expected to take it up soon.

To be considered bona fide under the legislation, a band must include at least one member of the original recording group. Tribute bands would not be affected.

Carl Gardner, 77, the last surviving member of The Coasters, said he hopes all 50 states pass such laws and he can get his livelihood back.

"If they can get every state in the union to sign these papers, they'll never be able to work again and I'll be able to get all my jobs back," said Gardner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "They've cut into my business awfully bad and everybody who is affiliated, it hurts everybody."

Gardner, who is semiretired, said he typically charges $10,000 a gig. He said the phony Coasters charge only $1,000 and often perform badly -- which he said tarnishes his reputation.

Maxine Porter, longtime manager for Bill Pinkney, the last surviving original member of The Drifters, estimates Pinkney has spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to fight the impostors. But, she said, every time one is shut down, another one pops onto the scene.

She also said the knockoffs have hurt Pinkney's earning potential. The 80-year-old member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame still performs.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pop culture leaves mark on dodgeball tourney

Looks like the movie 'Dodgeball' has left it's mark on pop culture. Here's an excerpt from an article talking about a dodgeball tourney that seems to have been inspired by the 'Dodgeball' movie.
It looks like Halloween.

On the courts are two men in karate uniforms. A team called the Marksmen sports shirts with various makes of firearms subbing for names on the backs of their jerseys. Another squad robed in royal blue tees features less-threatening pseudonyms such as K-Bizzle and Raw Dawg, while wearing knee-high socks with painted-on stirrups. Outside the entrance to last weekend’s dodgeball madhouse, also known as Skyline Sport and Health, a foursome in face paint toke away on cigarettes. And you thought Steve the Pirate, Patches O’Hoolihan and the rest of the “Dodgeball” gang were odd.

A pile of prize money did bring about calculated strategies and some feats of high athleticism on the tennis-courts-turned-battlefields for Skyline’s $11,000 Dodgeball Weekend. However, just as significant as the tournament was the pop culture extravaganza on display all weekend long.

Team names from among the 66 entrants reference “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “The Karate Kid,” “Wedding Crashers” and of course the mother movie “Dodgeball.” One of the face painter’s designs mimics that of WWF legend The Ultimate Warrior. Another contestant wears the red karate uniform characteristic of Street Fighter II’s Ken. Whenever he hurls a ball, onlookers supply a chorus of “Hadouken!!!” sound effects. When a team calling themselves the Cobra Kai takes the court, calls of “Put him in a body bag, Johnny!” are only seconds behind them.

But as with most things in life, ostentatious displays often exist in order to mask inadequacy, and this tournament proves no different. Team Nasty (the face painters) lose after a play-in game. A team named Camp Counselors plays the part of Daniel LaRusso against the Cobra Kai, eliminating them in the first round and proving that their wannabe kung fu is weak. Ever-so fittingly, a team named Fat Kids with Glasses is also sent home early. They probably lost their lunch money too. Good thing the event is catered.

Some more experienced teams have developed strategies for this tournament. One blonde, floppy-haired member of The Wildcats spends the duration of a match on his knees near the back line of the floor. The plan is effective against his opponents’ throws, but it leaves him vulnerable to predictable emasculating jabs from the peanut gallery. Even when he catches a ball, he’s rewarded with a barb: “Nice catch, Hanson.”

Pink-clad Bring the Pain, champs of the last Skyline tournament in August, have a less complex strategy.

“We just got a bunch of random guys together and throw the ball real hard,” Pain member Stephen Cook says. It’s zen-like in its simplicity, but its practicality proves lacking when they’re ousted in the Round of 16 by the Wicked, Wicked Monkeys.

A few humorous vignettes, mostly incited by team nicknames, help to keep the day light as the $10,000 battle heats up.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Retro arcade games popular again

From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Retro arcade games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders are back - and booming, writes Jason Hill.

BEFORE PlayStation and Xbox, gamers got their regular fix at the local amusement arcade with a pocketful of loose change.

Earning the right to put their initials on the high-score table of coin-operated games such as Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Galaga, Defender and Street Fighter II was a badge of honour that earnt the respect of their peers.

When the first home computer game consoles began appearing in the early '80s their rudimentary graphics could not compete with the offerings and dedicated controls of arcade machines.

Gaming at home also lacked the camaraderie and atmosphere of those noisy, dimly lit, smoky, electronic wonderlands.

But when the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation consoles appeared in the mid-1990s the gaming landscape changed forever.

The ever-increasing power, popularity and affordability of home consoles decimated the coin-operated market.

But the games themselves are refusing to die. Those "wayward" teens who once fed the insatiable coin-operated cabinets are now well into their 20s and 30s, and their nostalgia is fuelling a retro gaming boom.

Read the rest of the article, it's very interesting. I love to play some of the retro arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. They're easy to play and don't require you to learn all the dozen or so controller functions like video games of today. That was what was great about the Atari, both young and old and everyone in between could play them without any fuss.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Retro Steel pedal cars

I came across this press release for a site promoting their steel pedal retro cars.
Blaine, WA (PRWEB via PR Web Direct) February 28, 2006 -- Replica steel pedal cars are back and available at Parents and grandparents can remember the good old days as the new retail trend brings preschoolers out into the fresh air for some old-fashioned exercise. The toy cars are getting attention from children for their cool appeal, from parents for their ability to pull kids away from the TV, and from retailers for their sales pull.

The fifties were a simpler time when kids roamed freely, climbed trees and the lucky ones jumped in their shiny pedal cars and proudly raced through their neighborhoods. With no televisions or video games to interrupt, afternoons belonged to the instinctive exercise of children’s play. Let help bring those times back.

Pedal cars, or juvenile automobiles as they were first introduced in the early 1900s, were originally the toys of the affluent. But after the Depression, industrial designers like Viktor Schreckengost and Brooke Stevens allowed manufacturers to bring pedal cars to the masses. They soon gained widespread appeal and pedal cars were gracing retail catalogues and family driveways all across America. But in the mid 1970s the lower price of plastic cars drove the steel pedal cars out of the toy market.

The resurgence of pedal cars has sparked a new toy craze and they are appearing in stores and neighborhoods alike. Unlike the plastic power cars, these old-fashioned toys are building kids’ muscles while they proudly strut their stuff in their very own classic car.

Perhaps the most obvious proof of this new trend is the number of online stores like that are dedicated to pedal car sales. Because pedal cars are still difficult to find in traditional toy stores, the Internet is the perfect place to choose the ideal pedal car for a child. With a large selection and affordable pricing, finding a child the toy of a lifetime is just a few clicks away. has experienced staff available to help customers choose the pedal car or pedal plane that is perfect for the child in their life.

About Pedal Cars and Retro Collectables (
Pedal Cars and Retro Collectables is an online specialty shop offering quality steel pedal cars and pedal planes. As well as ride on toys for children, the site includes a complete line of Crosley record players, 1930s style Coca Cola machines and other retro collectables.

Susan Carraretto, Director of Public Relations
Pedal Cars and Retro Collectables
477 Peace Portal Dr. Ste 107-222
Blaine, WA 98230

Monday, February 27, 2006

'Gunsmoke,' 'McCloud' Actor Weaver Dies

From Yahoo News:
Dennis Weaver, an actor with a Midwestern twang who played stiff-legged Chester the deputy on "Gunsmoke" and the cowboy cop hero in "McCloud," has died. He was 81.

Weaver died Friday from complications of cancer at his home in Ridgway, in southwestern Colorado, his publicist, Julian Myers, announced Monday.

"He was a wonderful man and a fine actor, and we will all miss him," said Burt Reynolds, who appeared with Weaver in "Gunsmoke" in the early 1960s.

Weaver and actor James Arness were close friends since their 1955 screen test for "Gunsmoke."

"It is a very sad time and a big loss for me personally," Arness said. "He provided comic relief but was also a real person doing things that were very important to the show."

Weaver's 50-year career included stage plays and movies. But his real success was on television, where in addition to his cowboy roles he shared the screen with a 600-pound black bear on "Gentle Ben" and faced down a murderous big-rig in the early Steven Spielberg movie "Duel."

Weaver starred last year in ABC Family's "Wildfire" as the eccentric owner of a thoroughbred racing ranch.

"His performance never ceased to dazzle us," the cable channel said in a prepared statement. "He was an American legend not only for his contribution to the acting community but for his extensive and inspirational environmental work."

They say death comes in threes. This past weekend we lost Don Knotts, Darren McGavin, and Dennis Weaver.

Darren McGavin dead at 83

From the Washington Post:
Darren McGavin, 83, who played gruff, grumpy but often goodhearted characters in a profusion of fondly recalled television series and shows, died Feb. 25 in Los Angeles.

He died of multiple organ failure at Olympia Hospital, his son York McGavin said.

In the "Night Stalker" series, Mr. McGavin wore a porkpie hat to play reporter Carl Kolchak, who revealed the occult forces behind the reality of the Chicago streets. Mr. McGavin is widely remembered as the father in 1983's "A Christmas Story," a classic that reappears every year during the holiday season.

He was also Mike Hammer, the embodiment of the hard-nosed private eye, in the series based on the Mickey Spillane novels.

In dozens of roles in made-for-TV movies, in series, or in episodes of series, Mr. McGavin appeared cynical or curmudgeonly. But even if he was a grouch, he was frequently a grouch with a glint in his eye.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Retro pic of the week - Captain Lou Albano

For the nearly forty years that Capt. Lou Albano was involved in professional wrestling, be it as a wrestler or manager, he created controversy, excitement, and in many cases, genuine hatred from the audiences he performed for. For a man who, by his own admission, was not a tremendous wrestler Albano certainly made a huge impact in the "sport" and was, for many years, one of the most well-known cross over celebrities that wrestling had to offer. His vaudevillian style approach to cutting interviews, combined with his over-the-top personality and ring persona made Albano one of the most hated managers of all time. Later in his career, Albano transformed that intense hatred into babyface popularity, and became one of the most beloved figures in wrestling. In either case, the rowdy Captain made the fans care about him, which, in the wrestling business, is all that really matters.

Who could forget Captain Lou's famous feud with Cyndi Lauper when Captain Lou was claiming to be her manager. He really played a large part in helping wrestling gain mainstream popularity. I don't think any other wrestling personality could have pulled that whole thing off as well as Captain Lou did.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Don Knotts - dead at 81

From the Chicago Tribune:
Don Knotts, the saucer-eyed, scarecrow-thin comic actor best known for his roles as the high-strung small-town deputy Barney Fife on the 1960s CBS series "The Andy Griffith Show" and the leisure-suit-clad landlord Ralph Furley on ABC's '70s sitcom "Three's Company," has died. He was 81.

Knotts, who lived in West Los Angeles, died Friday night of lung cancer at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to Sherwin Bash, his longtime manager.

Family members said that his longtime friend Griffth was one of his last visitors at Cedars on Friday night.

Despite health problems, Knotts had kept working in recent months. He lent his distinctive, high-pitched voice as Turkey Mayor in Walt Disney's animated family film "Chicken Little," which was released in November 2005. He also did guest spots in 2005 on NBC's "Las Vegas" and Fox's "That '70s Show." He occasionally co-headlined in live comedy shows with Tim Conway, his sometime co-star in Disney films such as "The Apple Dumpling Gang." Knotts also appeared as the TV repairman in director Gary Ross's whimsical 1998 comedy "Pleasantville," and voiced the part of T.W. Turtle in the 1997 animated feature "Cats Don't Dance."