New Year’s Eve: Party Like It’s 1959!

Let’s face it…with high unemployment, tensions abroad, expanding Federal debt, and lingering recession, 2009 wasn’t the greatest of years. All the more reason to usher it out on New Year’s Eve with style, retro style that is. What better way to bring in the new than to celebrate the old. Dress up your party buffet table with these classic, and yes kitschy, holiday favorites.

Cheese Fondue

  • 3/4 lb. natural Swiss cheese (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tbs. enriched flour
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 1/4 cups sauterne
  • dash of freshly ground pepper
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 3 Tbs. cooking sherry
  • French bread, cut into bite sized pieces

Toss cheese with the flour to coat. Rub the inside of the fondue cooker with the garlic. Pour in sauterne, warm just until bubbles start to rise (don’t cover or boil). Stirring constantly, melt the cheese a handful at a time. After cheese is melted, add seasonings and cooking sherry. Add a small amount of warmed sauterne if the fondue becomes too thick during. Makes 5-6 servings.

Hot Black Eyed Pea Dip

  • 1/2 bell pepper, 2 stalks celery, and 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 – 15 oz. cans black eyed peas (one must have jalapeno)
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup bacon drippings
  • 3 Tbsp. flour

Lightly saute the bell pepper, celery, and onion. Add black pepper, Tabasco, catsup, salt, bouillon cubes, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Over low heat cook and stir until it reaches a boil and the cubes have dissolved. Add peas, tomatoes, garlic, and sugar. Simmer for 30 minutes. Combine bacon drippings with flour and stir into peas. Cook 10 minutes more until thickened. Stir well and serve in a warm crock pot along with tortilla chips.

Cheese Sputnik

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • American cheese, cubed
  • Swiss cheese, cubed
  • ham, cubed
  • smokey links
  • spam, cubed
  • pineapple, cubed
  • fresh grapes

Trim the bottom of the grapefruit flat and set it on a serving dish. Using toothpicks, spear the cheeses, meats, and fruit then stick the toothpicks into the grapefruit. Arrange evenly to create a “satellite” look. The combination of ingredients served is up to you…be creative. You can even wrap the grapefruit in aluminum foil for an authentic sputnik look!

Chili con Weenie

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. cooking oil
  • 1 – 1 lb. can (2 cups) chili with beans
  • 8 frankfurters, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup
  • 1/2 cup chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Brown meat and onion in oil. Add chili, frankfurters, chili sauce, soup, and salt. Heat thoroughly then add green pepper. Garnish with some of the frankfurter slices and black olives. Serve over hamburger buns. Makes 8 servings.

December 27, 2009 at 9:13 am 1 comment

Wishing You A Modern Christmas!

It’s Christmas time at the Patio! What better way to celebrate Christmas present than to bring out Christmas past.

Need new ideas for your holiday party? Then visit the Patio Party Planners Page. The space-age technology of the Lounge-o-Lizer can find that retro cocktail recipe you’ve been looking for and classic holiday buffet recipes abound on Patio Culture’s own Buff-o-Matic.

TV schedules for all of you favorite holiday classics are here too, from Rudolf to Charlie Brown!

Need classic holiday music? Let Bing, Dino, Frank, and the gang spice up your home or office with the Holiday Music Player.

Track Santa this Christmas Eve with NORAD by following our links to the 2009 NORAD Tracks Santa official site. The Ruskies won’t dare interfere with the Big Man!

Don’t forget to view our virtual Christmas card before you leave. It’s our way of wishing Happy Holidays to you all!

December 16, 2009 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

“Nightmare” for Halloween!

Just in time for Halloween! The late night live action/horror movie thriller Nightmare was KTVT Channel 11’s (Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX) contribution towards frightening kids and adults alike. Bill Camfield, of Slam Bang Theatre fame, starred as Gorgon, the master of an evil black & white celluloid domain. As the show began, the camera would zoom down a forbidding corridor while Gorgon would introduce the premise of the film with a related live action sub-plot. Whether it was pretty girls being threatened by a swinging pendulum, killing vampires, or just general mayhem, Gorgon set the mood!

October 17, 2009 at 10:09 am Leave a comment

They Were Heroes Once, and Young

It’s hard to believe its now been 40 years since the Apollo 11 mission delivered human beings to another world. As a kid growing up in the suburban Patio Culture, the exploits of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were considered to be the stuff of legend. Looking back, it continues to be so.

The historical impact of the lunar missions of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s seem to be sinking in at last reminding the nation that its past glories can once again be harnessed for the common good.

As a teacher, I’m perplexed by the seemingly casual attitude teenagers take towards this momentous event in history. Oh sure, when you’re 17 the minutiae of everyday life overtakes your very consciousness, but I keep getting the nagging feeling that over the years we’ve lost something as a nation. OK, let’s just say it…young people today just don’t have the heroes that we had growing up in the sixties.  There, it’s out and in true curmudgeon form. What happened? Did the collective funk the nation suffered after Vietnam kill true larger than life personalities, or was it the result of a mercilessly competitive electronic media scouring the landscape for public figures to splay open for all to ridicule.  Who knows, but you just don’t see public figures with the stature that the early astronauts enjoyed. Sure, there are many people out there today who do great things, and are deserving of our utmost respect, but the backdrop of true national urgency is sadly missing.

Perhaps non-Boomers might understand the misty gazes the Apollo tribute videos invoke in their older brethren if they accepted the fact that many of us are hard-wired to admire the space program. We grew up on it, and gauged our collective national worth by its successes and failures. To demonstrate the case in point, let us examine the life of a typical suburban kid of the 1960’s…

Chances are you played “space” if you were a boy. Not cowboys and Indians of the 1950’s, but rip roaring astronaut play complete with Star Trek tracer guns (disc launchers) and helmets if you were lucky. Often kids rooms and tree houses would be outfitted with various “controls” that would guide their imaginary craft to the stars. Of course in reality, I’m sure the stacks of old radios and retired portable TV sets used for this purpose perplexed the adults to no end. I once even customized an old barrel by suspending it on a swing set frame, mounting a clock and a compass, and using it as a “Mercury training capsule”. The object, of course, was to get inside, wind up the strap, and let the thing spin until you could walk like a drunk or puke (or both).


Toys were very attuned to the space program as well. One of the coolest toys I every owned was the GI Joe Mercury space capsule with a sliding clear plastic hatch. Emulating the dramatic “splash downs” we witnessed on television, we would repeatedly throw our intrepid Joe into the swimming pool until our arms tired from the effort. Model kits, like my Gemini capsule/Agena docking module and NASA rocket booster collection, were built (and sometimes destroyed) by countless kids.

2001Topping off this endless cosmic enculturation were TV shows like Star Trek, Lost in Space, Space 1999, cartoons such as Space Ghost and the Jetsons, plus numerous B-movies. The first movie that I was totally enthralled by was Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey which I still maintain was so far ahead of its time that it’s scary! Obviously, Clarke’s vision of lunar exploration has yet to materialize, but it was fodder for the young imaginations of the Patio Culture.

Today’s challenges are admittedly hard to put a heroic face on. Global warming is by its very nature nebulous, and politicians by their very nature rarely inspire beyond their partisan base. Even the groundbreaking nature of the current U.S. administration can’t compare with the civil rights luminaries of the 1960’s. Still,  I hope the future challenges of taking homo sapiens beyond his ancestrial planetary home will not go unmet. Despite my misgivings on the state of heroics today, I still hope the newest generation can find persons of  stature and good character that transcend the divisive issues of today and unite the world (albeit briefly) like the Apollo astronauts once did.

July 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm 1 comment

Just in time for grilling season!

Back by popular demand and just in time for Memorial Day cookouts…Oscar and Angus!

May 18, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

Be a Jackson Pollock


The abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), left an indelible mark on the mid-century art world, and many would assert his work was the antithesis of the Patio Culture. But before you go off with a condescending critical grin, just consider those poor suburban dads who toiled away for hours, painting their 2 bedroom ranch style homes. While the house would inevitable sport a fresh coat of lime green or beige, it was the drop cloth that often displayed the compiled remnants of home improvement painting projects of all kinds. For dads, their “drip period” was from sun up on Saturday morning until Miller Time.

Now you too can be a Jackson Pollock. This nifty little Flash app at will turn your mouse into paint can and hours of modernist fun are yours to have! Don’t forget to clean up when you’re done.

January 28, 2009 at 10:47 am 3 comments

In Remembrance of Bettie Page 1923-2008


Los Angeles, December 11, 2008  –  Bettie Page,  sweet-smiling legendary 1950s pin-up queen with the killer curves and coal-black bangs, died today of pneumonia at a Los Angeles area hospital. She was 85 years old. She suffered a heart attack one week ago and never regained consciousness. Her popularity as an underground, guilty pleasures phenomenon has continued to soar despite the fact that the reclusive Page disappeared almost a half century ago.

“With deep personal sadness I must announce that my dear friend and client Bettie Page passed away at 6:41pm PST this evening in a Los Angles hospital. She died peacefully but had never regained consciousness after suffering a heart attack nine days ago. She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality. She is the embodiment of beauty.”

Statement by Mark Roesler, business agent for Bettie Page

December 13, 2008 at 7:42 am 3 comments

A Blast from the Past: NORAD Tracks Santa

noradsantaFor 50 years NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) has been protecting North American airspace from enemy attack, and for most of those years they have been tracking the Christmas Eve movements of none other than Santa Claus. Growing up in the 1960’s meant the Cold War was pretty much a hypothetical concept since “duck and cover” drills and bomb shelters were products of the 1950’s. Even a thing as scary as the Cold War didn’t put a dent into the typical Patio kid’s Christmas expectations (a true Christmas spirt will evolve later). We all had a faint idea that the F-102 interceptors at the local air base were there to keep the bay guys away, but other than that, we fully expected Santa Claus to made his journey through the world’s airspaces unimpeded. After all, fighter escorts from the North American Air Defense Command guaranteed his passage to the United States! I remember checking up on Santa’s Christmas Eve progress by watching the NORAD Tracks Santa black and white film clips on TV. Usually a very serious airman with black rimmed glasses would be shown carefully monitoring a radar screen while reporting Santa’s position to his commander who would then scramble jets to escort him into North America. Hopefully, the Soviets wouldn’t shoot down our hero in red…after all, I had a new banana seat bike riding on his safe arrival!

Black and white film clips have since given way to the computer animated, internet driven wonder we see today, and the excitement is even greater. Now you can track the Big Man yourself on Christmas Eve at

November 30, 2008 at 9:19 am Leave a comment

Eerie Numbers Stations for Halloween

“Numbers Stations”, byproducts of the Cold War, were cryptic coded numerical messages that would appear on various short wave frequencies then abruptly end. It is believed that these mysterious messages were intended for field agents of various world intelligence services during the Cold War era. Although super power tensions have eased somewhat in the 21st century, numbers stations still operate out of Latin America and Cuba. Whatever their purpose, numbers stations make for an eerie, yet realistic, opportunity for Halloween fun! Listen…

October 29, 2008 at 7:31 pm Leave a comment

Green Slime!

B-movie action at its best! I actually saw this movie in the theater thinking to my nine year old self “Cool special effects! Don’t touch those monsters! Wow, that lady’s space dress is tight!”. Actually, I can’t really remember seeing any slime; the title must refer to some type of alien racial slur. After all of these years it’s the theme song that sticks in my mind….Green Sliiimmme….

August 18, 2008 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

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