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Oct 24, 2016

5 Retro things I've always wanted

Congas and bongos

As a kid, I loved watching I Love Lucy reruns.  My favorite segments of the show were of Desi Arnaz performing in his nightclub The Tropicana. I was always enthralled with the skill and passion that Desi Arnaz oozed while singing and playing his percussion instruments.

I've never been an aspiring musician, but have always had the inkling to take up a musical instrument.  I've messed around with a few musical instruments in my time, but those from the percussion family have always been my favorites.  I did recently buy a modest pair of bongos, and really dig playing around with them.  Playing them feels so natural, and whenever I lay into them, beats come to mind out of nowhere.  Arranging them into rhythmic time with my hands, feels almost as easy as breathing.  I'm not entirely sure why I didn't get into trying my hand at them years ago, but better late than never.

A Ukelele

I'd love to own a ukulele, and learn how to play it.  To me, the ukuleles has always been an endearing instrument synonymous with Polynesian and tiki culture.  How cool would it be to pluck away at one of these at a tiki party, pool party, BBQ, camp fire, while relaxing on the beach, or lounging around in the backyard?  They're so small and compact, you could literally take them anywhere.  My daughter actually wanted one, so we got one for her as a gift.  She's taught herself how to play it, and can compose little ditty's very quickly.

A smoking jacket

Do I smoke?  No.  Am I an aspiring playboy?  Heck no.

I've just always thought smoking jackets were ultra swank!  As a young boy,  I used to see celebrities like Jackie Gleason, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Desi Arnaz, Sherman Hemsley aka George Jefferson, and Cary Grant donning flashy smoking jackets whilst relaxing and unwinding.

The purpose of the smoking jacket was quite simple.  A quality smoking jacket was/is an extremely comfortable garment, made for the express purpose of protecting underclothing from ashes and the smell of cigarette, cigar, or pipe smoke.  However, they also became widely accepted as a men's garment worn for domestic leisure.  Ah yes, I can imagine sitting back in my easy chair on a cold winter night in a soft silk smoking jacket, matching slippers, heck.. maybe even a fez.  No stogies or cigarette's.. just a good book and maybe a nice glass of cognac.  Now that's the good life!

Schwinn Phantom Bicycle
I've always loved the classic lines and styling of the 1950's Schwinn Phantom.  These bikes are extremely collectible now, and while I can't afford to buy a vintage model, I've found a happy medium that's quickly filling the void.  That would be in the form of my Schwinn Legacy Beach Cruiser. 

My bike features the same frame and similar styling to a classic Phantom, minus several bells and whistles.  I've spent the last couple of summers modifying and customizing the bike to my liking, and it brings me great joy to ride it.

A Pinky Ring
Go ahead and laugh.  Most people including my bride usually chuckle or roll their eyes when I tell them I'm in the market for one.  However.. that just makes me want to get one even worse!  Sinatra, Tony Soprano, heck... even Dr. Evil wore pinky rings.  How can they not be cool?  Actually, ever since I was a kid and saw my old man wearing a pinky ring he bought back in the 60's, I've wanted one.  His ring had a lion head with red ruby's for the eyes.  The fact that my mother didn't care for it, further added to the excitement of getting one.  As a kid I got several cheap steel rings from bubble gum machines that I donned as pinky rings.  I remember one featuring a gorilla face, the other the wolf-man, and of course being a child of the 70's, had a gaggle of mood rings.  It seemed like I was always cleaning a perpetual green stain from my finger that those cheap things would leave behind, but I loved them and wore every one until the broke or wore out.

That's it for now.  Trust me.. I've got a huge retro want list.  These were just the first five things that came to mind, so I may have to continue this topic at a later date.  Are there any retro items that you've always wanted, but just haven't got around to buying yet?

Oct 17, 2016

Crap that's stuck in my head. The retro pop culture phrase.. "How do you Dooooooo?"

As a young boy, my friends and I would greet each other on occasion with an exuberant "How do you doooooooo?"  What's more, we always did so in our best fake foreign accents.  We had all heard our older siblings, uncles, fathers, actors, comedians, and cartoon characters utter this very phrase.  However, none of us knew where said phrase came from.  Heck..  I've wondered where the phrase originated from for most of my life.  Now.. thirty some odd years later, I finally put two and two together and figured out the mystery.

One of my favorite XM Satellite radio stations is Radio Classics, which plays old time radio shows non stop.   While listening to one of my favorite shows called Duffy's Tavern.. a character whom bar patrons referred to as The Mad Russian, uttered "How do you Dooooooooo?" as he entered the bar, bring an instantaneous roar of laughter from the audience.  It was during the shows closing credits, that I learned the part of The Mad Russian was played by actor Bert Gordon.

Gordon broke onto the Vaudeville scene in 1914, and got into performing in radio during the 1930's.  He appeared throughout the early 40's in both films and radio as his character "The Mad Russian." The actor's character was known for his "steel wool" haircut, ears that wiggled, and of course his famous catch phrases, "How do you do" and "Do you mean it?".  Gordon's tag lines and likeness even appeared in several Warner Bros. cartoons of the period such as the Bugs Bunny cartoon Hare Ribbin'.  Gordon's career was all but over by 1950, and his last filmed appearance was in a 1964 episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which he played himself.

So there you have it my friends.. a brief insight into the phrase "How Do you Dooooo?"  Next time you hear this obscure phrase (and believe me.. someday you will) you can share some insight on the matter with anyone that happens to be within earshot!

Oct 10, 2016

Things I wanted buy to when I got "all growed up"

AQUA VELVA, Lectric Shave, and Old Spice

I took this picture recently in Target, and had no clue that Aqua Velva and Lectric Shave was still on the market.  When I was a kid, I couldn't wait to grow up and start using all three of these.  After all.. the men in the commercials that used this stuff were highly popular with the ladies, so it would have to work for me too! For a time, I even dreamed about mixing these three aftershaves together to form a hybrid that no young lady would be able to resist!

Like many kids, I used to love watching my old man shave in the mornings. It was a daily event that kept my undivided attention, and I vividly remember it as far back as three years old. My old man was a barber of 40 plus years, and had a ritualistic and methodical way of shaving. He would get his pores opened up by holding a damp piping hot washcloth over his face for a minute or so. He'd then liberally apply frothy shaving cream from his shaving cup over his whiskers. He would then open up his straight edge razor, run it under some hot tap water for a few seconds, and proceed to slowly shave. One short swipe, and he would turn the hot tap water on again, just long enough to wash the whiskers off of the blade. I remember peering down into the sink and thinking that the whiskers looked like the pepper Dad used to sprinkle on his eggs. He would always take extra care as he shaved around his mustache. He treated that area of his face like a painting or drawing that needed precise attention.

Of course, it all ended with him pulling the little gray stopper from his Old Spice bottle, splashing some into his hands, and slapping it all over his face. He'd occasionally let out a resounding "ahh" or.. "Whew!" something I didn't understanding, but always thought of as funny. The smell lightly hung in the air, leaving a faint vapor trail that marked a path of everywhere he had been in the house. I resolved to buy Old Spice for myself when I grew up, and just knew that it would make me a more mature and intriguing person, just like the sea faring men that were in those Old Spice commercials!  The scent is burned into my memory banks, and probably will be until the day I die.

There was no rushing Dad while he shaved. He always took his time, and seemed super relaxed and free of stress while doing so. Thinking back on it now, it seems as if shaving was a very zen like thing for him to do. That was his time at the beginning of the day, before the stresses of life would inevitably rear their ugly head. It was his way to start the day off fresh and get in a good place mentally.  For me, most mornings are a bit stressful. I'm usually hurried, minding every minute, and running out the door. I can't help but wonder if my attitude would benefit from starting every day like my old man used to.

If you're wondering, I did fulfill the promise to myself as young lad, and bought Old Spice for myself as an adult. It was after I became a Dad myself in 1990. When I opened the box and held the bottle in my hand, the nostalgia and memories immediately came rushing back. The bottle itself was worthy of a spot on the shelf next to my vintage shaving artifacts which Dad had passed down to me as a teenager. When I splashed the rustic aftershave upon my face, I remember actually feeling older! And.. for the rest of the day at work, I couldn't shake the sense that I smelled older as well. Older.. in the sense of smelling more like a grandpa, than a 20 year old. I never used Old Spice after that, and actually ended up pouring the aftershave down the toilet a few years later. I do like the smell of classic Old Spice, but it has more to do with nostalgia.  Perhaps I'll wear it again someday (maybe a couple decades in the future when I'm a Granddad, own my own boat, and am sporting a captains hat).

My Granddad always used Lectric Shave and I liberated a few splashes for myself a couple of times, but soon learned I didn't care for the scent. It was okay for Granddad, but not for an enlightened 20th century pre teen.  Now, as for AQUA VELVA, the original motivation for this post.  I never have  purchased any of that for myself.  My experiences with Lectric Shave and Old Spice, not to mention jabs that Aqua Velva have suffered from comedians in the movies and Television, dissuaded me from ever buying it.

Maybe I need to break down and buy a bottle of the good old blue stuff, if for no other reason than to say that I've bought it before. Whaddya think? Is it safe for me to do so, or will it turn me into a veritable chick magnet?

Oct 3, 2016

6 retro phrases that I miss hearing..

I'm old school. I know know it, I'm fine with it, and I own it. This old school attitude also carries over into my linguistics, and I occasionally catch young punks people off guard with older sayings I utter. It didn't dawn on me until recently, that many of the phrases I use are quite old. I guess it should come as no surprise, because my parents and grand parents are where I learned most of them.

In no particular order, here are some old sayings I truly miss hearing but still use on a regular basis.

Fair to Middlin'
My grandfather used to love this one.  When I'm asked how I'm doing by an older person, or a Good Ol' Boy from down south or back east, I respond with "Fair to Middlin'". They get a kick out of it, and they totally recognize the old saying. Apparently the word Middling had to do with the best grade of cotton in the old days. Therefore, Fair to middlin' means you're somewhere between fair and very good. 

That really gets my goat!
For some reason, horses can act calmer and be less stressed with goats in their company. Race horses are no exception, and were often boarded with goats for this reason. A horse can get irritated or upset if their goat companion is taken away from them, which is supposedly how this saying came to life.

Blow your cap
Not sure of the origin on this one, but my friends and I always used to say it when we were referring to getting angry, or losing ones cool.

Judas Priest!!
Used in place of taking Jesus Christ's name in vain when angry. A lot of my childhood friends fathers and grandfathers used this one quite regularly.

They're 100 pounds soaking wet with 10 pound boots on.
Used in reference to scrawny, skinny, or petite folks.

Son of a biscuit!
Used in place of the uncouth alternative. Mind you.. this is a widely used saying in my workplace. One of my workmates who is a bit older, uses this very phrase along with "Shucks" as alternatives to foul language. Others at our company found it so amusing, that everyone who knows him has started repeating the phrases in lieu of using profanity!

I've got tons more, but I'm really dying to learn what old sayings and phrases you personally love, miss, and still use to this day. Let's hear them!

Sep 26, 2016

Another edition of.. Holy crap I AM turning into my parents!

No need for deep philosophical discussion on this topic, but here's a few things I've noticed about myself lately..

New music sounds like crap to me
I kid you not, even the so called good music doesn't sound good to me at all.  I hear maybe half a dozen songs a year from new artists that I like.  I find myself ever more listening to older music from the 50's through the 80's and sorely missing the good old days. 

I have more coupons in my wallet than money
I may not be loaded with scrilla, but by god.. I can get a heck of a good deal on two pizzas with garlic bread, or a four wheel tire rotation and alignment!

I get irritated with cheaply made products
My regular readers know what I'm talking about.  I sometimes get on rants for days about cheap plastic crap that Wal-Mart sells.  Whether it's a cheap sprinkler, a spatula, or hair dryer, I'm steadily buying more and more vintage items for everyday use, and laughing all the way to the bank.

Fast food doesn't taste as good as it used to
Two years ago I was the king of fast food, and even had a web-site dedicated to artery pounding monstrosities that I had conquered.  Due to a health scare, I've greatly changed my eating habits since that time.  When I do dine on fast food..  it really doesn't do anything for me.  Well.. except for maybe giving me an upset stomach, and feelings of guilt for treating my body like a tent rather than a temple. 

I'm more at peace with the way I look
Everyone has things about their appearance that they don't like.  Suddenly this year, none of my old personal hang ups seem to matter as much as they used to.  Life is too short to sweat superficial things, and it will just take away from a whole lot of living I need to do.

I guess these things aren't necessarily bad, just a wake up call that I've really changed, and will probably continue to do so as I get older.  The thought of becoming more like my parents used to horrify me, but now I don't view it as a bad thing.  If I ever start mowing the lawn in slippers and black socks however, someone will need to slap me.

Sep 19, 2016

The retro phrase.. "Light a match"

Light a Match
[ lyght - a - mach ]

retro phrase
  1. The act of striking a match and letting it burn after one is finished expelling bodily waste. A means of bathroom etiquette used to eradicate unpleasant lingering odors produced by ones own excrement.

I'll let you in on a little secret.  I sometimes challenge myself to use various retro phrases in my daily context five times during a day.  Surprisingly, I found that the phrase "Light a match" wasn't too hard to work into conversation.  Living in a house with a family of five, and given some of the guys I work with..  the task was indeed all too easy.

I remember this phrase being used quite a bit when I was a young boy.  I also recall lots of people practicing this nearly extinct form of bathroom etiquette.  As memories go, family gatherings and parties stand out the most, in regards to this.  When my family used to get together, the house would literally be bursting at the seams.  We'd have spreads of food big enough to feed a small army, and everyone always ate their fill.  Shortly after dessert was when foot traffic to the bathroom steadily began increasing.  In fact, it's probably safe to say that the commode was pretty much occupied for the rest of the evening.

I remember some of my aunts telling their husbands discreetly to "light a match" after they were finished.  My uncles on the other hand, would not so discreetly say things to the kids like..  "Geezaloo! Get back in this bathroom and light a match!".  That type of bathroom humor always got everyone in earshot laughing their heads off.

Mind you, the smell of sulfur dioxide burning from the tip of a match isn't the most pleasant odor.  However, it sure beats what lingers in the air after a person is done making a deposit, or.. taking a load off of their mind.  The sulfur overpowers and even knocks out the toughest of stench.  Although.. I've known a few folks who could stand to light an extra match after they're done vacating the premises.

I can only relate the decline in this practice to a matchbook shortage.  Back in the day, virtually every business gave away free matchbooks.  My old man always had matchbook's in his cars, the garage, the junk drawer, the medicine cabinet, and he didn't even smoke.

I've got to say, this is one of my old man's habits that has indeed rubbed off on me, and yes.. I keep a matchbook in my bathroom at all times.  On occasion, the kids walk into the bathroom, hold their nose, and complain about the smell of a struck match.  I just laugh and kindly remind them that they should be thanking me for doing this.

Sep 12, 2016

Older is better! Example #126.. Lawn sprinklers

I've lived in my home for about a decade and a half now, and this afternoon I realized something. I have a pile of sprinklers and none of them work efficiently. That is.. if they still work at all. What's worse, is that I can't even begin to count the ones that I've thrown away over the years!

Over the last nine years I've bought oscillating sprinklers, stationary sprinklers, pulsating sprinklers, adjustable sprinklers, misting sprinklers, rain wave sprinklers, traveling tractor sprinklers, spinning sprinklers, rotary sprinklers, impulse sprinklers, and fun sprinklers for the kids to play in.

Heck, it feels like I could have gotten a sprinkler system installed for all of the money I've wasted on the garbage I've bought at Home Depot, Lowes, and Wal Mart over the last fifteen summers! I'm embarrassed to say I spent $60.00 on a sprinkler I bought last year which is now broken this season.

Do you know how many sprinklers my parents owned while I was growing up? One. That's right.. ONE metal sprinkler. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times.. things are simply not built to last anymore. I've had sprinklers break simply from one summer of sitting in the sun, or even by just pulling them from the ground. I'm SO sick of buying inferior, cheaply made products made half way around the world!

I almost went to Home Depot to buy yet another disposable sprinkler, but when I realized what I was doing, I slapped myself upside the head. Instead, I'm going to follow suit once again with something I've been doing more as of late, and that is buying vintage. I'm going to visit a few thrift stores to try and find an old school sprinkler. You know.. the ones from the 50's, 60's, or 70's that you might still see in your parents or grandparents garage. They're made out of aluminum or steel, have no cheap plastic parts, and were constructed in the good old U.S.A. If I can't find them in the second hand stores, then I will buy one off of eBay where they're more than abundant.

Depending on the item, buying retro is definitely the way to go if you want true staying power. Our society used to have a much different view of consumerism several decades ago. Things used to be made to last, so you could spend your hard earned money on more important things. Even when things did break, you could easily obtain replacement parts to fix them. If it were a bit out of your grasp to do a repair on something like an appliance, you could then take the item to a fix-it shop, or somewhere else to get it repaired. Throwing things away was a last resort when I was a kid. It always makes me feel a bit better about myself when I can reduce unnecessary waste going into landfills. Who'd of thought going retro could be a form of sustainability in itself!?!

How about you? Are there vintage items you personally prefer to use over new ones?  Are you fed up with the state of consumerism in regards to cheap and inferior products?  If so, feel free to chime in.