misterboomer.com

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

Mister Boomers’ Picks from 2014 Posts

It’s the holiday season, and it has become tradition here at misterboomer.com to take some time off. So, in lieu of a fresh post, check out these encore presentations of Mister Boomer’s Top 11 favorite posts of the past year. They appear here in the order that they appeared during the year:

Boomer Girl Songs: What’s In A Name?
There have probably been songs named for women — or teenage girls — as far back as there has been written music. Yet it was the Boomer era of the 1950s and 1960s that seemed to have brought the practice front and center in the music world.

Boomers Saw Manly Men with Chest Hair
In a little over a decade, boomers observed the notion of male chest hair go from the ultimate symbol of virility to a complete turn-off.

Boomers Helped TV Sales to Skyrocket
After more than a decade, Mister Boomer recently bought a new television. The shock and awe of what is available today versus even a decade ago — when the TV depth was wider than the screen itself — got Mister B thinking about TVs in our boomer days.

Boomers’ Parents Thought Differently Than Today’s Parents
What has changed to make today’s parents spend appreciably more time with their children than the parents of Baby Boomers?

Boomers Said, “Let’s All Go to the Movies!”
Going to the movies was a real event for Baby Boomers. There were basically three opportunities to see a movie — evenings, weekends and Saturday matinees. For most of us, however, the weekend was the obvious choice because going to the movies was a real time commitment.

Boomer Music: Here, There and Everywhere
Boomer music appears everywhere these days — in commercials, movies and on the stage. What are we to make of this latest display, when supposedly generations beyond the boomers would not be able to relate to or even like the nostalgic sounds of the 1960s and ’70s?

Where Have All the Jingles Gone?
As the 1950s became known as the Golden Age of Television, it also sparked a Golden Age of Commercial Jingles. By the late 1970s, jingles were on the way out as licensed music written for other reasons became the norm. Yet in that time, jingles became unforgettable, and many boomers can still sing along today.

Earworms Burrowed into Boomers’ Brains
Submitted for your approval: songs of yesteryear that stuck into our skulls like a construction worker Krazy-glued to a steel beam, traversing space and time from then and there to the here and now. Mister Boomer recalls these melodies of his past that can occasionally haunt his waking moments to this very day. He has crossed into … the Earworm Zone.

RIP Saturday Morning Cartoons
There certainly are many things that help shape and define the early boomer years, and near the top has to be Saturday morning cartoons. Now, in a case of “Say it ain’t so,” word has come that the last network, CW, has abandoned the practice and a full schedule of cartoons broadcast on Saturday mornings are a thing of the past.

Boomers Watched the Evolution of the Selfie
It seems that everyone between the ages of 12 and 35 is obsessed with “selfies” these days — those ubiquitous, quick snapshots of one’s own bad self. Miriam-Webster added the word to its dictionary this year, giving academic credence to the term that is really nothing more than a shortened, slangified version of “self-portrait.”

Boomers Grew With Jazzy TV Show Themes
Once TV really started getting its footing with regular programming in the 1950s, crime dramas became popular subjects. Three music genres were vying for attention from the public at the time: country, jazz and rock. Since many of the TV show theme composers turned to film noir for inspiration — and several had scored these types of films — aspects of jazz became the calling card for TV show opening songs. From Big Band to blues, bebop to Latin jazz, a new generation was planting its musical flag in the new medium of television.

posted by Mister B in Film & Movies,Music,Pop Culture History,Technology,TV and have Comments Off on Mister Boomers’ Picks from 2014 Posts

RIP Saturday Morning Cartoons

There certainly are many things that help shape and define the early boomer years, and near the top has to be Saturday morning cartoons. The tradition began in the 1950s and continued through the 1990s, when things began to change. That means the ritual was part of not only the Baby Boomer experience, but also Gen-Xers and Millennials. Now, in a case of “Say it ain’t so,” word has come that the last network, CW, has abandoned the practice and a full schedule of cartoons broadcast on Saturday mornings are a thing of the past. The culprits that did in this decades-long tradition are said to be cable broadcasting, technology and continued fallout from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) ruling in the 1990s that networks had to broadcast at least three hours of educational TV each week, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Yet what a glorious past it was. Parents of boomers didn’t mind their children watching a few hours of cartoons on Saturday mornings at all. In many instances, the TV would serve as the interim babysitter while the parents got a couple of extra hours of sleep. What stands out even more, though, are the quality and memorability of the cartoons themselves.

Ever since the dawn of television, there were people worried about the new medium corrupting America’s moral fiber, and especially our youth. Once regular TV broadcasts came into being after the War, and when the freeze that the FCC imposed on new television licenses was lifted in 1948, this sentiment surfaced even more. There were hearings about violence on TV and the possible effect TV was having on children throughout the early 1950s and ’60s. Nonetheless, after multiple hearings, parental advocacy groups and scientific studies purporting one way or another, Congress only enacted two of the twenty-seven TV content-related bills it put forth during the boomer years. Though violence in cartoons was an issue that was raised over and over, the main discussion on Saturday morning programming centered around advertising to children.

In the early days of Saturday morning cartoons, networks purchased cartoons that were originally made as movie shorts to be shown at theaters between the features. Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Popeye, Woody Woodpecker and Felix the Cat were among them. It wasn’t until 1953 when a new version of Felix the Cat was created specifically for Saturday morning TV broadcast. For the next four decades, children would be entertained by cartoon content that was created specifically for them, to be broadcast on Saturday mornings.

Mister Boomer’s personal anecdotal survey has suggested that among boomers, watching Saturday morning cartoons was universal. Virtually every boomer he spoke with shared the experience. Most did what Mister Boomer and his siblings did: woke up the same time as they would during the school week, fixed a bowl of cereal and sat to watch cartoons. Most had parents who slept in while they watched cartoons.


Mighty Mouse selling Colgate Toothpaste in the 1950s.

The list of favorite cartoons goes on and on, and speaks to whether you are an early, middle or later-years boomer. Cartoons that have been mentioned to Mister Boomer include: Felix the Cat, Heckle and Jeckle, Mighty Mouse, Superman, Daffy Duck, Top Cat, Underdog, Scooby Doo and a host of others. Mister B remembers watching them all, from the early days of Felix the Cat, Mighty Mouse, Looney Tunes and Popeye through Huckleberry Hound, George of the Jungle, Magilla Gorilla, Top Cat and Schoolhouse Rock.

Mister B loved them all, but his favorite can almost not be counted as a Saturday morning cartoon. Rocky & Bullwinkle aired from 1959 to 1964 in various incarnations (Rocky & His Friends, The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, The Bullwinkle Show), but only in its last season was it broadcast on Saturday mornings. He couldn’t wait to see Peabody and Sherman and Fractured Fairy Tales. Rocky & Bullwinkle was shown as after-school content after American Bandstand at first, then as evening family fare like The Jetsons and The Flintstones. As an adult, Mister B still enjoys the cartoon, and especially appreciates the minimal yet stylized backgrounds along with the witty dialogue.

NBC was the first network to stop broadcasting cartoons on Saturday mornings. ABC and CBS soon followed. Fox joined the group in 2008. In place of cartoons, shows intended to relay a teachable lesson to kids were created. They were cheap to produce and helped fulfill the networks’ requirement of supplying educational content.

Mister Boomer wonders what goes on in households these days on Saturday mornings. Do parents sleep in while their kids watch a DVD or are they up at the crack of dawn to take them to scheduled classes of dance, karate, soccer and others? It’s probably a little of each, but Mister B can’t help but think today’s kids are missing out on a great pop culture experience. Saturday morning cartoons helped define us, the first TV Generation, and taught us cultural references and social mores, humor, slang and ways to have fun, even it did involve slapping each other and hitting your brother over the head with a frying pan.

What memories do you have of Saturday morning cartoons, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Pop Culture History,TV and have Comments Off on RIP Saturday Morning Cartoons

Boomer Cartoon Quiz

Mister Boomer thought he’d kick off his second year with a good old-fashioned quiz about classic cartoons. Of the many things we boomers share, one of the most ubiquitous is that every Saturday morning, we’d get up — often before our parents — fix ourselves a bowl of cereal, and turn on the cartoons.

Take the quiz and see what you can remember!

Boomer Cartoon Quiz

Progress:

1. What was Mighty Mouse's catch phrase?

2. What was the name of Elroy Jetson's dog?

3. What was the name of the company where George Jetson worked?

4. What did Mr. Peabody always tell Sherman to follow him into?

5. What was Yogi Bear always on the lookout for in Jellystone Park?

6. We loved our anthropomorphic animal characters. What type of animal was Rocky (Rocky & Bullwinkle Show)?

7. What type of animal was Cecil (Beany & Cecil)?

8. How many fingers did Mickey Mouse have on each hand?

9. Who was The Professor's nephew on Felix the Cat?

10. What tattoo appeared on both of Popeye's forearms?

11. What was Quick Draw McGraw's occupation?

12. What law of Physics was often temporarily delayed in Road Runner?

Are you a boomer cartoon expert?

posted by Mister B in Fun,TV,Uncategorized and have Comments Off on Boomer Cartoon Quiz

It’s Our First Anniversary!

Mister Boomer is celebrating one full year of postings! During that time, Mister B has been gratified to know that tens of thousands of visitors from all over the U.S. and Canada have stopped by to reminisce and recall our place in history.

It’s been Mister B’s mission to bring you entertaining and informative musings on the boomer age, our youth and the changing times we’ve witnessed by connecting personal recollections with historical events. In the course of our weekly postings, some writings have generated great enthusiasm, which reinforces Mister B’s notion that though we boomers differ in our economic and social backgrounds, we all share a great deal that is unique to our generation.

With a celebratory wink and a nod, here are Mister Boomer’s personal Top Ten favorite postings of his first year. If you missed them the first time around, have a look and jump-start memories of your own. If you recall reading them, visit again and see if you agree with Mister B that these are the cream of the crop!

10. There’s a Kind of Crush, All Over the Boomer World
Posted March 6, 2011
Coming of age in the 1960s wouldn’t be complete for a young boomer without recognizing the beautiful, strong, modern women that graced the TV screen. In this posting, Mister B relates his choices for top celebrity crushes.

9. Boomers Strike Solid Gold
Posted July 3, 2010
Music formed the soundtrack to our lives, and perhaps we owe it all to the advent of the transistor radio. Take a trip down the musical memory lane as Mister B recalls early 1960s music emanating from his personal battery-powered radio.

8. Musical Youth
Posted August 14, 2010
Music appreciation in our schools did not equate to our appreciation of the top 40 songs we were listening to on the radio and playing on our record players. What would happen if a teacher dared to cross the lines to use modern music in her class as a teaching tool? Mister B relates the disastrous results.

7. Home Delivery
Posted August 9, 2010
Of the many things that made our youth different than other generations, home delivery — especially of milk products — was one to which every boomer can ascribe a story. Here are Mister B’s stories of home delivery services in his neighborhood.

6. Boomers Heart Robots
Posted October 10, 2010
Robots were fun playthings at home, but also scary nightmares in movies. Mister B relates that dichotomy in our pop culture that made robots a metaphor for our times.

5. 8-Track Mind
Posted August 23, 2010
High on the list of boomer-time products that are now gone are 8-track tapes. For many of us, it was the first introduction to “music on demand” in our cars. Hated by some for its clunkiness, now the tapes can be rediscovered through the romantic prism of an age gone by.

4. The Final Frontier
Posted September 26, 2010
Perhaps nothing captured our young imaginations more in the fifties and early sixties than visions of space. Travel with Mister B on his journey, following the earliest space missions.

3. Which Cat Was the Coolest?
Posted July 18, 2010
On the surface, the boomer battle of Felix the Cat vs. Top Cat tends to fall along the lines of which decade you happen to be born in; those born in the fifties gravitate toward Felix, while early sixties boomer babies lean to the Top Cat camp. Nostalgia aside, explore the inner feline workings of these classic and smart cartoons and decide as an adult which side you are on.

2. Laughing Through the Cold War
Posted June 20, 2010
While many of us were too young to fully appreciate the meaning of total annihilation, we were able to do our share of laughing at the satire and comedy that it spawned. From Duck and Cover to Get Smart, Mister B enjoyed laughing through the Cold War.

1. See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet, Again?
Posted September 13, 2010.
Where would our country be, or where would we boomers be, without President Eisenhower’s vision for the building of the National Interstate Highway System? Mister B’s personal recollection of the building of the National Interstate Highway System in his neighborhood firmly links this boomer to the historic event that arguably was among the biggest changes in our lives. This is the essence to which misterboomer.com strives.

Thank you for visiting Mister Boomer and making this site a success. If you’ve had a chuckle, conjured a memory or learned a tidbit, tell your friends. As always, your comments are welcome. Here’s to looking forward to another exciting year of looking back!

posted by Mister B in Fun,Music,Pop Culture History,Space,Technology,TV and have Comments Off on It’s Our First Anniversary!

Yabba Dabba Do! Fred and Wilma Flintstone Celebrate 50 Years

This past week, another milestone in the annals of boomer TV history was reached as we marked the fiftieth year since the first airing of The Flintstones on September 30, 1960. Its six-season run made television history, and enshrined itself into the hearts and minds of boomers everywhere.

The Hanna-Barbera Productions show was a prime time animated series that was aimed more at adults than children. It followed the day-to-day life of a working man, Fred Flintstone, and his wife, Wilma, in the town of Bedrock. Their neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble, were featured in each episode, too. In other words, it was very much like a cartoon version of The Honeymooners. In fact, it has been said that Fred’s voice, as portrayed by voice actor Alan Reed in early episodes, was an imitation of Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Cramden character. (In the original pilot episode, Daws Butler provided Fred’s voice).

Fred and Barney worked at the local quarry, where, in keeping with the rock pun motif of Flintstones names, their boss was Mr. Slate. Meanwhile, Wilma and Betty remained in the home, as was the custom for women in the early 1960s.

During the third season, Wilma became pregnant and, following the pattern of TV sitcoms like I Love Lucy before it, had baby Pebbles in a story line that spanned several episodes. At that point, the show’s writing became more family-oriented. This was reflected in the choice of ad sponsorship; the first three years had been sponsored by Winston cigarettes, while the fourth season started a new relationship with sponsor Welch’s juice and jellies.

In this clip, horror of horrors! Can you believe the main characters are smoking and selling cigarettes in prime time? We can’t imagine that today. Also of special note is the theme song at the end of the show. It’s basically the “This Is It!” song from the “Bugs Bunny Show.” Later, it was changed to the “Meet the Flintstones” song of which most of us can recall the lyrics: “Flintstones, meet the Flintstones/ They’re a modern stoneage family…”

While Fred and Wilma became adjusted to parenthood, their neighbors voiced frustration at not being able to have a baby of their own. Thus, The Flintstones became the first animated series to address the issue of infertility. As a result, in the fourth season, Betty and Barney adopted a child of their own, a son, and called him Bamm-Bamm for the only words he would say as a baby. Again reflecting a working-class suburban family’s actions, pets would follow. Early on, the Flintstones had a sabertooth-tiger “cat.” Later, a barking pet dinosaur named Dino was introduced. The Rubbles’ pet was named Hoppy, a cross between a dinosaur and a kangaroo.

Mister Boomer vividly recalls watching The Flintstones every week on the family’s black & white Sylvania TV. As did most boomer households, the Mister Boomer family had only one TV. This meant that family viewing indeed meant the entire family, in the same room, watching the same programs. That’s a thought that could terrify many a teenager today.

Mister B particularly liked the puns, mostly centered on rock-named phrases. Even more than the puns, though, he enjoyed the wonderfully clever versions of mechanical apparatuses that the characters employed. Everything inanimate was made of carved stone, including the refrigerator. But the writers had inhabited a world where people and dinosaurs lived together, and the animals would assist the people by willingly becoming the power behind their machines. They often spoke directly to the audience about their role with tongue-in-cheek phrases like, “It’s a living!” Everyone remembers the Flintstone car, which was famously powered by the feet of its occupants. Mister Boomer liked the dinosaur lawn mower. The animal was tied to a wood-handled cart, chopping grass with its teeth as quickly as Wilma pushed the gizmo. There was the prehistoric record player, where Fred would tilt a bird on a perch until its beak met the record to act as a phonograph needle; more birds that squawked for Fred’s car horn when he squeezed them; a mammoth’s trunk to disperse water for a shower; Brontosaurus-like cranes for Fred’s work in the Quarry, and others.

Along with Beany and Cecil and Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mister Boomer grew up enjoying The Flintstones. Thanks to DVDs and the Internet, we can still tune in to the sharp, though often slapstick, wit and wisdom of these prime time cartoon heroes of our youth.

What’s your favorite Flintstones memory, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Pop Culture History,TV and have Comment (1)

Which Cat Was the Coolest?

It’s been Mister Boomer’s experience that early to mid-boomers fall into two groups: The Felix the Cat and Top Cat camps. As far as Mister Boomer is concerned, he was never a huge fan of either, but his particular group was on the cusp between the two — old enough to see Felix episodes but young enough to catch Top Cat as well.

Let’s start at the beginning. First, there is the anthropomorphic cat. We see that in Felix, Top Cat, Tom and Jerry and a host of other shows from our youth. There’s just something about giving human characteristics to animals that seems to fascinate us, especially as children. What we didn’t realize as children, though, were the adult themes and outright violence perpetrated in the name of comedy and entertainment. It was just a cartoon to us.

Felix the Cat

Felix predated Top Cat by decades. In fact, the first Felix the Cat cartoon appeared in 1919, and continued intermittently through the 1940s; however, he didn’t make his TV debut until 1958. Early Felix cartoons, shown in movie houses, did not feature his Bag of Tricks. That was an invention reserved for his television show. What was fascinating to this boomer as he watched the attached episode from 1959, for the first time in over fifty years, is how surreal the whole thing was. Sparse landscapes and stereotyped characters inhabit a world where dream-like things truly seem to be black and white, good or evil. In this episode, there also seems to be a healthy dose of skepticism toward science in favor of a more “natural magic.” Ten years before man landed on the moon, it appears science wasn’t held in the highest regard with cartoonists.

Felix’s Bag of Tricks was really something! First of all, the pattern never changed position when the bag changed perspective. How very Cubist! Is it just Mister B, or does that pattern remind you of a Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Coach bag? (Go ahead and Google some images, I’ll wait…) Hmmm, think there might be some influence there? Then there is the whole bit about the Bag doing Felix’s bidding. Want an apple from a tree? The bag turns into an escalator. Yet when he needs to cross a lake, the Bag becomes a canoe. Not exactly technology coming to the cat’s aid there, now is it?

When the Professor finally gets his evil hands on Felix through the use of a wondrous piece of technology — a cat magnet! — he immediately shrinks Felix (more evil technology) and grabs the Bag. Now in his evil clutches, what does the Professor do? Instead of trying it out, he takes a nap! Felix escapes by calling his Bag for help, and makes his way to the Professor’s master control panel. In an exhibit of science gone amok, he accidently releases a robot. Historically speaking, this was the era of the great sci-fi B movies about aliens — and robots — terrorizing the planet. At this time, then, robots were bad (a sentiment Felix later confirms when he bests the bucket of bolts).

This is where it gets really weird. Felix can evidently remove his tail at will (more “natural magic”?). In this episode, he first outsmarts the robot by “disguising” himself by using his disembodied tail as a moustache to mimic the Professor’s. Later he uses it as a lasso to grab the foot of the napping Professor.

Watching some of the old TV episodes, this boomer is left with a character that never loses his cool — even though evildoers are constantly after him — and he always wins in the end. Was that the message they wanted us to receive when we were children, or was it just mindless entertainment?

Top Cat

This Hanna-Barbera cartoon appeared on TV in 1961. The character was the top cat in an alley inhabited by a group of feline followers, and one policeman, Officer Charles Dribble. Top Cat always pulls one over on the cop. He tends to keep his top cat position by shady means, at best. He’s constantly getting his group to scam either the rich (upper class) or authority (police and politicians).

Here’s a case of a “cat of the people” ruling his alley kingdom like a folk hero (Robin Hood?) for “putting one over on the Man.” We saw similar behavior in Groucho Marx and Three Stooges skits in earlier years, and also in the stereotyped Sergeant in war movies. He always seemed to procure the supplies the troop needed — but when the question arose of how these items came to be obtained, it was a case of, “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Top Cat had an overly healthy ego, too. He often verbalized his own greatness with aplomb. This carried over to his own image as a “ladies’ man.” In the attached episode, he has Benny fetch him flowers and a box of chocolates for his date. Procured items in hand, T.C. exclaims, “Flowers, chocolates and me. What more could she want.”

A children’s cartoon character exhibiting male bravado and the roguish criminal attitude that his followers adored and females couldn’t resist; such was the stuff many boomers recall with great nostalgia.

So, in the great Felix the Cat vs. Top Cat debate, which is the coolest cat? Mister Boomer declares it a mistrial. What’s your call, boomers?

posted by Mister B in Pop Culture History,TV and have Comments (3)