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“My Date With A Duke”

As I have said in other blog entries, returning to the United States in 1979 after spending three years in Germany was like stepping out of a time machine and leaving 1916 to appear in 2016.

In the United States, video games were new, fast-food restaurants were everywhere and there was more than ONE channel on the television.

My first full day back in the states was a Friday. How in the world could I remember that fact more than 36 years later? Simple…My cousins sat me down that evening to watch The Dukes of Hazzard on CBS.

I was very reluctant at first to take a seat in front of the television with them that night. I knew that being a “duke” involved the British monarchy, and that was the last thing I wanted to do after spending the last three years confined to Central Europe.

And then, with the twang of an electric guitar lick, it began. I spent the next 60 minutes asking my cousins all sorts of questions about the show – and getting few answers during the commercial breaks.

[Via] BygHoss
I tried to catch the previous episodes during the re-run season, and remained a faithful follower of the show through the remainder of the Dukes’ seven seasons on television – even during the infamous “Coy and Vance” period. It was a show like no other before it, and although many have tried to recapture the “lightning in a bottle” the show produced, nothing has come close since then.

Now, let’s fast-forward to the mid-1990s.

I was selling Internet service at Rivergate Mall in a northern suburb of Nashville, Tenn., in 1996. My job involved selling dial-up and ISDN Internet connections to people wandering through the mall on their way to purchase an Orange Julius smoothie.

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The Internet of 1996 had only recently been expanded thanks to the World Wide Web, and more people were anxious to try it out. So, to help feed their need, we sold a floppy disk with setup programs to install our dial-up service onto the beige boxes in Grandma’s kitchen across the country.

Internet In A Mall will probably be the topic of a future Retroist Blog offering, but I included it here because it was the catalyst to this entire story.

Two of my first Internet customers were a woman named Jett Williams and her husband, Keith Adkinson. After purchasing our service, they offered to pay for my time if I could drive out to their home and install their software. With nothing on my calendar, and the prospect of newly-acquired pizza money in my pocket, I agreed.

When I arrived at their country home, I quickly realized things were not as they appeared. It turns out that Jett is the daughter of country music legend Hank Williams, and half-sister to Bocephus himself, Hank Williams Jr. She has an amazing story, and I’d recommend checking out the Wikipedia listing about her to learn more.

After hooking up their Internet, they were pleased with the job, I was asked to create a website for her and some other tech stuff. I accepted, and they invited me to listen to Jett perform the next night at the famous Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in Nashville – located at the back door of the original home of the Grand Ol’ Opry, the Ryman Auditorium.

My boss, Dennis Thibodeaux, and I both went to the show together. We found a table in the back and proceeded to enjoy a couple adult beverages when a blonde female approached us and asked if she could sit in the empty seat at our table.

We graciously asked her to join us and introduced ourselves.

“Hello, my name is Stella. Stella Parton.”

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My lower jaw fell open and I’m sure it was far from indiscreet.

“You mean like the Stella Parton from the Dukes of Hazzard television show?” I asked, while stumbling over every word.

“Darling, I want to hug your neck,” Stella said. “”It seems like everyone’s first sentence to me is to ask about my sister Dolly when I first meet them, but you’re one of the first to mention my own career..!”

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Yes, friends…I was sipping an adult beverage in a Nashville honky-tonk with the beautiful sister of Dolly Parton, an actress who appeared on one of my favorite TV shows, and a well-known country entertainer.

It turns out that Stella and Jett were friends and she was at Tootsie’s to hear Ms. Williams perform. I didn’t waste the opportunity, and she happily answered questions from me between performances.

Stella appeared in Season 1, Episode 10 “Deputy Dukes” which aired April 13, 1979. She played Mary Beth Malone – a ruthless criminal who sees the error of her ways by the end of the episode.
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I asked about Denver (Uncle Jessie) Pyle, and she said he was funny, smart and a delight to work with. She said the same about her scenes with James (Rosco) Best, Tom (Luke) Wopat and John (Bo) Schneider.

Our evening together ended with Jett’s rendition of her father’s hit song, “Your Cheating Heart” and Stella Parton gave me another big hug before we parted ways. She autographed the label from her beer and gave it to me before leaving.

Stella has made other television appearances through the years, and has received several awards during her singing career.

[Via] Brandstrans

But, I will always remember her for the hugs and kind words – just because I remembered her as my favorite Duke…
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Eleven Minutes in Random Television Watching!

Several years back (actually, it was eight years ago), I was dating a guy who “gifted” me portions of his recorded videocassette collection. I had to give them back, but the purpose was for me to dub the material on the tapes to DVD-R discs. It sounds pointless that anyone would want to do this, but as a nostalgia hobbyist (even back then), the most mundane finds on a videocassette are fun.

I’d like to think I would have gotten more from his collection, had I not gone back to work after a winter layoff from my last job, and if we hadn’t broken up a few months after that. That second factor is the bigger reason I don’t have more than the massive collection I already have. The relationship may not have lasted, but the nostalgic gold goes on and on!

One of the tapes consisted of several May 1995 recordings of Home Improvement, a show I never particularly cared for, but what I found within the tape suited my nostalgic curiosity quite nicely. (Please don’t submit hate mail or declarations for that admission. I’ve just never been a big Tim Allen fan.)

My ex-boyfriend’s mother must have had VCR duty on one particular night, because she did something many parents did in the day (and something I’m equally guilty of having done once). In all honesty, she probably forgot she had the VCR recording, and there was a commercial on, because, this happened.

It all started off innocently enough. You’re taping a show, and a commercial comes on, but you forget you’re taping the show and decide to see what’s on another channel. Except you don’t stay on the channel, you decide “hey, what the heck? I’ll just keep clicking!”

So you do!

And then you wind up on the cable access channel…the one that shows real estate listings and plays a rockin’ 90s soundtrack. You feel like 1995 found you and embraced you like a friend.

Dionne Ferris. 1995 one-hit wonder for the win!

I’m not from the area where these houses are listed (but I’ve been through there), and I can tell you with 100% certainty that Washington Township is a nice place to live.

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Then there are the real estate agents. It’s like they went to the JC Penney portrait studio and had their pictures taken on the same day.

I particularly love Tom Duffy. Jacket on, jacket slung over shoulder. No way this guy isn’t a total stud.

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Jack exudes confidence as he hits on your through the television screen.

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And yes, you are seeing double!

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Ex-boyfriend’s mom, proving not to be idle, begins clicking around again. She eventually made her way back to Home Improvement, but she’s not done yet. Oh no, not yet.

QVC, some lady in love with mashed potatoes…

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…NJN (a New Jersey local network connected to PBS), UPN, the WB, UPN again, some nature documentary (????), these people…

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Whose eyes may actually look like this…

High School baseball, a Philadelphia Phillies game (shudder), random clicking, shoes on the Home Shopping Club 2 (yes, a second Home Shopping Club Channel, remember that?)…

Fifth position in heels, baby!

Fifth position in heels, baby!

…that really good Michael Douglas movie Falling Down (she turned it on during the climactic scene towards the end!), then an extended stop on The Preview Guide.

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Remember those days? I swear, I used to LOVE this channel, which is like TV Guide for people who hate to read TV Guide and watch movie trailers and TV promos all day long. I myself loved TV Guide (I read it for the articles). National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1 (remember that?!), some guy ringing a bell, Court TV, basketball, hockey, and finally, Shirley MacLaine on Larry King Live round out this collection of channel surfing.

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They wore their best for this interview. He in his suspenders, she in her…finest man’s evening wear. I don’t write this stuff, I just find it.

To be honest, Shirley MacLaine clip was longer than I let it run, but I am only looking to save your sanity. After all, you’re sitting through almost twelve minutes of an old ex-boyfriend’s mom changing channels.

But enough of me telling you about all of this, why not watch for yourself, and revel in the glory of 1990s television yourself?

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

Allison’s tape collection doesn’t jewels jewels as this, but still contains some interesting finds (as evidenced by previous articles). She displays many of these unusual jewels over at her blog, Allison’s Written Words. However, she loves saving the truly unusual for Retroist readers (you’re welcome). If you want, you can follow her blog on Facebook, and drop her a tweet @AllisonGeeksOut.

Thank you, Allison’s ex-boyfriend’s mom.

Also…if her boyfriend hadn’t stolen her heart already, he’d have some stiff competition from Tom and Jack.

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Mouth and MacNeal…And Their Trippy Music Video

European Howdy Doody puppets. Two people dressed like 1970s Muppets. A guy who looks like the human version of Sweetums from the Muppets. Children. Dancing. Two Muppet references in one paragraph.

I don’t smoke anything, but I’m convinced I had my one millionth contact high from what I just watched.

I was at my boyfriend’s the other night. We were on our laptops while watching TV, just chilling after a nice dinner out.

And then he wanted me to see this You Tube video.

Give him some credit, I’m usually the one digging these esoteric finds up.

What he showed me was the 1972 song/video “How Do You Do,” by Willem “Big Mouth” Duyn and Maggie McNeal (born Sjoukje van’t Spijker). I don’t need any further reason to believe the 1970’s weren’t the ultimate drug fest they prove to be in retrospect. I’ve seen the catalyst.

There is so much happening in this video, I don’t want to believe it is real.

Crowds…

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All ages allowed. No discrimination here!

European Howdy Doody…whom Mouth promptly dumps alcohol into the mouth of…

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Mouth and MacNeal feeding some woman lying on stools, as spectators…spectate and sing along.

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These people…

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And more crowds!!  These lovely people get up and start doing the dance of the Satanic Ritual…I mean, they’re jumping up and down, while cheerfully singing “Na-na-na-na-na-na! This is what I’m living for!”

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Didn’t anyone ever tell these kind people that groupthink is a dangerous, dangerous mentality?

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But who cares? This is what they’re living for!

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And the puppet has stolen her soul.

But this is what she’s living for!

If this is what passed as Europe’s highest form of entertainment in the 1970s, I’m beginning to understand the “Trololo” phenomenon/fascination/fetish/horror.

And if you really think I’m going to let you get away without seeing Exhibit Number 1…my boyfriend didn’t let me get away, and you’re not getting off easy.

Torture. This is what I’m living for!

Uploaded by fritz51177…because Fritz can!

This is what he’s living for!

Ok, I’ll stop!

Allison was swept up in the whole “Trololo” fascination of the early 2010s (thanks to Family Guy), and she has listened to it countless times. She even used to listen to it on Tuesday and refer to the day as “Trololo Tuesdays.” She didn’t even know this song (or group) existed until this past weekend. This is what she’s living for…you reading her other stuff over on Allison’s Written Words, following her blog on Facebook, and finding her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

So sing “na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na-na-na!” and revel in the glory of 1970s European Awesomeness. Which is like 1970s Awesomeness, but European!

 

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Living. Catch the enthusiasm!

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Gregory Hines Tap Dancing To…”Tap Dance”

I couldn’t think of a more clever title! Give me a break!!!!

I danced for 21 and a half years (the 22nd year ended in injury halfway through the year, and signaled my “retirement” from dance). So if you ever want to know why I write as much as I do, it’s because I was initially filling a void left behind by dance. Now it is a hobby I embrace with the love and dedication that anyone should give to their talent. I pride in referring to myself as a writer and content contributor the way I referred to myself as a “Non-Professional Hip Hop Dancer.” Now I throw “Retired” in front of that and call it a day.

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Me in 1988 (age 5) in my first recital.

I studied Jazz for eleven years, Ballet for four years, and Hip Hop for six and a half years (the half year was the injury year).

I loved to perform – there was nothing quite like a costume, enough makeup to impress a clown, and a huge stage. I loved it so much, that returning as an adult at the age of 25 was like a homecoming of sorts. Sure the studio and teachers were different, but there is nothing quite like feeling in your element, no matter where you are. A dance floor is a dance floor, a ballet barre is a ballet barre, and a stage…is a stage.

 

The one type of dance I never got into was Tap. I did take little kid classes until I was seven years old that involved Tap, but it wasn’t something I wanted to continue. Of course, all my friends did Tap in the adult classes, and I wanted to try it, but never did. Now I’m convinced I would have been forced into retirement sooner if I did.

Just because I never tried Tap, doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it – the kicklines, the sound of the shoes (which I LOVED as a little kid), the rhythm, the sound of the shoes, the costumes, the sound of the shoes…yeah, you get my point. I loved spectating when it came to Tap. Not having a mind for it (I’m a classic over-thinker, which can be a bad thing in dance in general, but worse for Tap), and having friends who were amazing at it was what interested me more.

The other thing that interested me more? Watching professionals do it. Like Gregory Hines.

I’ll confess, I’ve never seen White Nights. I know Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov were in it, I know Lionel Richie has a song on the soundtrack (“Say You, Say Me”), and I know Hines was a Tap dancer in real life the way Baryshnikov was a Ballet dancer in real life. Oh, and they play dancers in the movie.

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Magical!

Would you like to see the magic happen? Hit play, and be AMAZED!

Uploaded by jbbe2

And this is where I reference David Foster.

Again.

The song playing in the background is the David Foster-composed “Tap Dance,” and it is on Foster’s 1986 album…David Foster. I’m sorry guys, I’m striking out with all kinds of non surprises.

I love the “It’s-So-1980s” appeal of this song. It’s like aerobics and tap dance got together, had a child, and raised up that child up right. Did I mention David Foster is a genius? Because he is the one that made this song happen.

Sadly, I can’t find a music video to back this song up (because let’s face it, David Foster must have felt the music with the song!), but why have a music video when you can have Gregory Hines tapping? That’s even better!

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I especially love the dancing in this scene. Hines moves about the floor gracefully, all the while stomping with the glorious sound of taps. His was a talent lost with his passing, but thankfully is very well-preserved, based on what I found on You Tube. Every dancer should strive for so much! It seems that the dance world tends to get lost in the current trend of Hip Hop, but sometimes, the classics work well. And those who strive to preserve this art are keeping it alive and well!

The version heard in the movie has more tap sounds in it than the actual song does, so if you REALLY want to hear this song in all the glory it intends to have, here it is.

Uploaded by David Foster – Topic

Incredible.

Allison isn’t a world-class dancer, but she knows her stuff. She loves writing about David Foster (easily her favorite composer). If you like what you’ve seen here, she’d love for you to visit her on her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You can follow her blog on Facebook, and her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut. Ironically, her Twitter handle used to be @DancerChick1982.

She’s like Kevin Bacon in Footloose – she’s gotta dance!

Related:

Kenny Loggins and David Foster Brag, Then Perform Forever

And the Only Way to Start Your Set at a David Foster Concert? Heart to Heart!

Winter Games…In April?

Earth Wind and Fire Prove that Love for a Great Song is Written in the Stone

Will You Still Love the Changing Face of Chicago?

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Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto…Toys

One of my favorite hobbies (aside from writing, of course) is making music videos featuring clips from movies or television shows, set to songs we all know and love. I’ve been doing this for about nine years, starting with a Phil Hartman tribute I made in 2007 (it’s not uploaded anywhere). Between 2013 and 2015, I made three separate music videos for the show Stargate SG-1 and submitted them for Creation Entertainment’s music video contest. I won the first two times, and just when I thought three times was the charm, I didn’t win last year. A year later, I’m still surprised.

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

It was hilarious, at least in my opinion.

Last night, I was working on my Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday videos, when one of my great ideas struck me. I hadn’t made a music video in a while, and I had Mr. Roboto by Styx primed as the theme song for the week’s videos, so why not expand upon that and feature clips from all the Robot Toy commercials from 1001 Classic Commercials?

So, um, this happened.

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

The commercials featured in this video are for The Ding-A-Lings, Robot Commander, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, and The Zeroids. I think you’ll agree the song timing and some of the visuals really worked well together. If you’ve ever had a moment where everything clicked and reacted with very loud (and very geeky) jubilation…oh, that’s just me.

If you’d like to see some of my editing skills at work, check out my You Tube Channel!

And if you’d like to see ALL of my Stargate SG-1 videos, click play below! There was a moment of excited geeking out in all of these videos. You’ll see why!

Allison loves to experiment with music and video to make creative and quirky music videos. She especially loves making Stargate SG-1 videos, but has also worked with other clips, and even made a 49-second music video as an “experiment.” If you like her work, you can find her at Allison’s Written Words. You can also follow her blog on Facebook, and find her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

Colonel Jack O’Neill is her favorite music video subject.

Kenny Loggins

Kenny Loggins (And Michael McDonald)…on PBS!

So…did I ever talk about how much I love Kenny Loggins’ music?

Kenny Loggins and David Foster Brag, Then Perform Forever

And the Only Way to Start Your Set at a David Foster Concert? Heart to Heart!

Oh.

Well then.

Ok, so I love Kenny Loggins music – I know, I know, tell you something you don’t already know – but this was shared on my Facebook timeline the other day (thanks to Claire M. for making sure I saw this).

Kenny Loggins

And it was accompanied by this explanation, as written by Michael McDonald…

“Yacht rock smooth” takes “Other Worldly Funk” prisoner back stage at PBS taping of Kenny Loggins Soundstage performance!… Lol! Kenny, Steve ( aka Thunderkat!), and me. This young guy is ridiculously talented! A real inspiration! Had a blast doing the taping in Chicago! The performance chronicles the amazing career of my old friend, recording artist, performer, and composer extraordinaire, Kenny Loggins.

After I picked my jaw up the floor and stopped screaming (within, since I was at work) like the untamed fangirl I tend to be in these situations, I tried to find some information about when this will air. I’m not a fan of PBS (I only watch the David Foster concerts that originally aired there), but you best bet my TV will be tuned in that night!

I haven’t found any information yet, but I promise as soon as I do find out, I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops!

And another thing you best bet?

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#WhitePeopleGrooving

Allison loves her music. She especially loves anything that has to do with Kenny Loggins. For some reason, he is her current music addiction (besides Chicago, of course). She’s never seen Loggins in concert, but she has seen Chicago perform. She brags about that AND has plenty to offer on her blog, Allison’s Written Words. You can also follow her blog on Facebook, and she’s on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

Allison is capable of #WhitePeopleGrooving.