New Vintage Reviews Carnival, Second Edition

new-vintage-reviews-carnival_bigWelcome to the second edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” that is likely new to someone… In the hopes that it inspires you to dust off the things in the closet, basement, attic etc. and put them to use. (Maybe even head to the thrift store rather than the mall?)

Reuse, recycle — rejoice!

Books & Reading:

The Dean presents Old Time Modern Priscilla posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Sarah Sammis presents Don Quixote: Sancho’s Big Score posted at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day, saying, “Don Quixote was my first series of reviews that use pop culture to review the book. I posted the final one in the series which has links to the previous posts.”

Azrael Brown presents Book vs Film: Immortality Inc / Freejack posted at The Double-Breasted Dust Jacket.

Films:

Jaynie presents The Knack (And How To Get It) In Romance & Fashion posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

I present Does Sparkle Shine? here at Kitsch-Slapped.

Games:

Collin presents Vintage Board Gaming : Mr. Know-It-All posted at Collectors’ Quest.

I present Bingo, Anyone? (a word of caution — and hope! — about old Bingo games) posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Audio:

Collin presents Tag Sale Finds : Sounds of Terror LP posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Collin presents Tag Sale Finds : Armand Schaubroeck Steals posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Things To Do & See:

Sheila Scarborough presents Classic kid movies in classic theaters – yay! posted at Family Travel Guide, saying, “Why the Austin, Texas Paramount Theater rocks my household with its annual summer Film Series of classic movies.”

NAOMI presents Laurel and Hardy Statue Unveiled in Ulverston posted at Diary From England.

Honorable Mentions:

Kyle Boyd-Robertson presents “The Rialto” or “If That Old Theater Could Talk” posted at his TEN blog — it’s a nostalgic post about old movie theaters (with plenty of comments & photos!) Maybe it will inspire you to visit &/or support your old downtown theatres this summer?

Sam presents Famous Baseball Players and Their Teams posted at Surfer Sam and Friends — it’s certainly interesting to note this time of year. (Maybe it will inspire kids to collect & learn as well as play!)

I present What A Collection Can Do: A Love Of Vintage Inspires Designer Of Hot Trendy Fashions posted at Collector’s Quest — to inspire you to take a look at “old clothes” as “a pile of fabric possibilities!”

This concludes this second edition. Please submit your blog articles to the next edition of new vintage reviews using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts (maybe you’ll be one?!) can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Does Sparkle Shine?

I’d never heard of the movie Sparkle. Maybe because in 1976 I was a white tween, getting my fill of film angst from The Bad News Bears (gawd I knew just what Jackie Earle Haley’s Kelly Leak wanted — and what Tatum O’Neal’s Amanda Whurlizer couldn’t give him!); I don’t know. But the list of names which accompanied the title on the cable’s info screen was intriguing…

sparkle-1976-movie-posterPhilip M. Thomas (later Philip Michael Thomas, the pretty one of Miami Vice fame), Irene Cara (Fame), Lonette McKee (a beauty whose career credits include The Cotton Club, The Women of Brewster Place & Jungle Fever), Mary Alice (an actress I don’t think has ever been given proper attention or credit — save for, perhaps, at Stinky Lulu’s), Dorian Harewood (a man who has been in so much it’s ridiculous!), & Beatrice Winde (a great character actress you’ll recognize on the spot).

So, even if Sparkle was a retro train wreck of a film — especially if it was a retro train wreck of a film — I had to watch!

Sparkle (1976) is approximately a twenty year old film which takes place approximately twenty years earlier, in 1958. Got it? Good.

The movie tracks the lives of three young sisters — biological sisters — from Harlem: Sister (Lonette McKee), Delores (Dwan Smith), and Sparkle (Irene Cara).

The eldest, is Sister, “the prettiest girl in Harlem.” And she knows it. She’s gonna be trouble for single mom, Effie (Mary Alice) — something Effie’s friend & Harlem busy body, Mrs. Waters (Beatrice Winde) is only too happy to warn the matriarch about. When we meet Sister, she’s being courted by the handsome but fast & criminal-element-attached Levi (Dorian Harewood).

Sparkle, the quintessential good girl, adores her older sister. Sparkle is 15 and never been kissed — until Stix (Philip Michael Thomas) steals a few while she’s getting the laundry off the roof.

The middle daughter is Delores, a good looking young woman whose beauty & strength are over-shadowed by the chips on her shoulder. Yes, that’s “chips” plural. Because Delores isn’t just the morality preaching (annoying) middle child who feels duty bound to correct both her older sister (commenting about Sister’s straightening her hair to look like Marilyn Monroe) and her younger sister (threatening to be a tattle tale about Sparkle’s kiss on the roof). No, Delores also has a sassy mouth she uses to lip off to mom with regarding mom’s work as a maid.

Delores: We’re old enough to iron for ourselves. You ain’t our maid.

Effie: I always iron clothes for the ones that I love.

Delores: I suppose you love them crackers that you work for?

Effie: You watch your mouth. Now, go get your homework before I give you a sign in a place you won’t forget.

So, you’ve got three very different siblings.

Yet they come together, at Stix’s urging, to form a singing group — first with Stix and Levi , as The Farts Hearts. (Hey, the MC made that corny slip; I’m just quoting it! The MC also had other stale jkes, such as, “You all heard about the Cookie sisters? Lorna Doone and Nuthin’ Doone!”)

The Hearts are a hit, especially with Sister’s sexual enticing of the audience, but then, because sex sells, Stix promotes the sisters as an all female group, Sister & The Sisters.

sister-and-the-sisters-perform-in-sparkleUnfortunately, as the singing trio begins to become popular, Sister catches the eye of Levi’s gangster boss, Satin (Tony King). No good can come of this…

Just as momma warns, Satin drags Sister into the gutter with him. Not just sexually (which wouldn’t exactly be a shock for Sister, or a film which has 15 year old Sparkle messing around with Stix), but she’s beaten by him — and hooked on drugs too. Classic lines (no drug pun intended) include Delores’ concerned & accusatory, “What else has he been pushing into you besides his fist?” and Sister’s pleading, “Can’t you see? Sister can’t fly on only one wing…”

The montages of Sister’s fall are told rather beautifully; even if the story seems clichéd, the telling of her downward spiral while the trio performs Something He can Feel is rather artsy.

In fact, at this point, I’m wondering why the film isn’t called Sister; where the hell is the Sparkle story?

Even poor old Delores has a better plot, a more fully developed character. For, upset with Sister’s weak victim status, Delores gives up her virginity to another of Satin’s cohorts in order to find out about Satin’s plans — which she promptly calls in to the police. But it all goes horribly wrong when the police shoot, then imprison, Levi — who Satin has sent in his place.

Distraught, Delores packs to leave home, where she is caught and engaged in a confrontational conversation with Effie:

Effie: Well, whatever troubles you got here are going right with you and that suitcase.

Delores: You don’t understand, Mama. Like, there’s education like there never was before. Mama, we don’t have to slaves to the white establishment anymore.

We don’t have to live off what the white man throws our way. Thanking him for his chicken-shit pay and chicken-shit jobs. We don’t have to run around shining his shoes and driving his cars and cleaning his floors and being his ma – …

Effie: Go on, now, say it. Being their maid. Hmm?

Delores: Yeah, Mama. Being their maid.

Mama, I seen you, ever since I was a little kid, getting up in the middle of the night to take the subway to ride for two hours to go to their house, to do their cooking and to do their ironing and do their cleaning and wash the shit out of their toilet. And for what, Mama? For WHAT?

Delores may leave with the final word, but you just know, wherever Delores lands, that her failure to save Sister plus get Levi in trouble, will be in that suitcase just as Effie said… And she’ll have the added baggage of knowing that her self-righteous and lame justification were tissue-thin too.

I’m not entirely sure the film should have ended right there… There is, after all, Sparkle’s story to consider. Delores’ leaving & Sister’s poor condition combine to leave Stix’s group unable to perform, so he too bails. He offers Sparkle the chance to leave with him, but she’s “the only one left who cares for Sister,” so she stays.

Montages of Sparkle enabling Sister, culminating in Sparkle’s singing at Sister’s funeral.

After the service, Stix, who of course is back in town, visits Sparkle — and this is probably the finest acting I’ve seen from Irene Cara. I’d quote from this scene, but it would read horribly — for it’s not the words or writing, it’s all Cara’s acting, her voice and body.

Perhaps this is where the film should have ended. Like some bleak film noir. But instead, Sparkle opts to plunge full-steam-ahead down the predictable path of fame & romance.

irene-cara-and-philip-michael-thomas-in-sparkle-1976

Now the film isn’t just a chick flick cliché, but 80’s kitsch too.

The guy wins the girl, with his help (via borrowing money over matzah ball soup with the man Effie works for) the girl cuts a record resulting in fame and a performance at Carnegie Hall (wearing 80’s fashions & singing an 80’s song), and the boy miraculously impresses a mob boss (the soup contains more than matzah balls!) by refusing to participate in a shakedown — managing to show up during the very 80’s Carnegie Hall performance, with none the wiser (including a mystified audience who wonders just how that all happened).

cara-as-sparkle-at-carnegie-hall

It’s this shoddy rush ending which leaves the kitsch taste in your mouth. One that prompts Jae-Ha Kim, at Amazon.com, to say that Sparkle has “somewhat of a cult following among fans that enjoy a good cry along with their kitsch.”

So, does Sparkle shine?

Like rhinestones. It may not be as satisfying as the real thing, but it has great charm — as long as you don’t inspect it too closely.

PS Another thing to note about Sparkle is the film’s music. While all the actors were considered good enough to sing the film’s scores by legendary Curtis Mayfield, the film never had a proper film soundtrack album — instead, Mayfield produced Aretha Franklin singing over the existing music tracks.

Vintage Roadshow

Now, be careful; there’s a monster at the end of this post…

Couture Allure shows how to stretch your wardrobe with a vintage sheath dress.

Debutante Clothing introduces Vintage Style Muse Helsinki Pinup, Freelancer’s Fashionblog.

Glamoursplash has a customer win a prize in a vintage beach bathing beauty contest.

Here’s Looking Like You, Kid talks about the history of rompers & playsuits.

The Bobbypin Blog shows us how to get a fingerwave look like Keira Knightley.

Things Your Grandmother Knew has tips on darning stockings.

Now, here’s the monster at the end of the post!

retro-stuffed-grover

Practical Use For Pottery Smurf

I have a penchant for odd handmade things found at thrift stores. (In my rationalizing collectors’ mind, I call these things “outsider art” — but I do know better.) So, when I spotted this heavy clay sculpture of a Smurf’s head (clearly made by a child in art class), I gleefully spent the $2.99.

Hubby, who affectionately mocks my weaknesses, wondered what I’d do with it. (You’re supposed to do something with everything you collect?!) I defensively pronounced it would go with my “Easter Island Head.” But once I got it home, I decided my new retro Smurf head would serve a practical purpose holding my glasses.

retro-handmade-smurf-holding-my-glasses

handmade-smurf-glassholder

For equally zany obsessives, I will tell you the Smurf head is approximately 6 inches tall & bears no carved name of the maker or even a date. :(

Simon Cowell Says My Blog Is Self-Indulgent

Is it it wrong if I find myself crying while Danny Gokee sings with Lionel Richie?

If so, I don’t care.

If you live long enough, the cool becomes kitsch — and then it becomes cool again.

That’s worth getting emotional over.

See? Just look at my girl Paula Abdul dancing & singing along. She knows what I’m talking about. Hell, just look at Paula’s career, for that matter.

Plus, there was Rubin Studdard — my first American Idol love. The Velvet Teddy Bear. Too bad he didn’t record what he sang on the show.

So add tears of regret to those of nostalgia.

And then you add in my 6 year old niece who’s a huge Danny Gokee fan. She even got to see him recently at the Milwaukee bash. Well, as Maddie will be (un)happy to inform you, she didn’t see him, she saw his bus. But still…

It’s one thing when my own kids rock out to AI and music, but when even littler kids do it too? Especially your sister’s kids, because then I can remember my sister and the where & when of our shared musical loves, from sing-alongs to dance clubs, from sneaking her under-age-ass in at the bars in my college days to karaoke a month ago… Oh, it’s all so Lion-King-circle-of-life.

How cool to feel all the full circle moments.

And now I just realized I didn’t record the damn show. Poop. On a stick, no less.

So just let me cry, OK?

The Smartest Woman On The Bailout

My dad sent me this:

smartest-woman-on-the-bailout“BAIL EM OUT!!!!????

Hell, back in 1990, the Government seized the Mustang Ranch brothel in Nevada for tax evasion and, as required by law, tried to run it. They failed and it closed. Now we are trusting the economy of our country and our banking system to the same nit-wits who couldn’t make money running a whore house and selling whiskey!”

I knew it was going to be pretty funny when it was an email forward thingy from my dad.

To my knowledge, my dad’s only forwarded 3 other email jokes in the entire history of his internet use (those were also funny — and dripping with “I hate George W. Bush” juice), so he doesn’t exactly stuff my email with unwanted junk.

Are You Having A Party?

From the November 19, 1953 issue of The Tatler & Bystander (the weekly from Illustrated Newspapers, LTD., London; not the “News & Gossip About Books” Tatler put out by The Putnam Book Store, New York), a three-page illustrated sketch by Alex Graham with humorous party tips for your Christmas party.

tatler-and-bystander-party-1953-alex-graham-illustrator

cops-and-robbers-tatler-party-games-1953

Cop And Robbers

The host suddenly dials 999 and announces that “some joker has snitched his watch.” Anyone who refuses to be searched is called the “thief,” and is “arrested on suspicion” by the police when they arrive. A prize is given for the best solution as to how the “robbery” was effected.

This is a very good game with which to end a successful party…

This is “Pass The Pencil”…

pass-the-pencil-vintage-party-games-humor

Hunt The Hooch

This is one the boys can play while the ladies are taking off their coats. The host announces he has “lost” a bottle of whisky and the guests are a ‘search party.” The whisky is found in some not-too-difficult place (on the sideboard, for instance) and each member of the “search party” is given a small prize.

hunt-the-hooch-vintage-party-games-humor-tatler-1953

Just when you think you understand British humor, then there’s this game, which is a serious game here in the US — it’s even standard at showers, isn’t it?

Can It Be Ethel’s Garter?

Collect a number of small assorted objects (e.g. tap-washer, sprocket-wheel retaining pin, cast-off dentures, rabbit’s skull, bicycle lamp-holder, etc.) and place each in a paper bag. The bags are then passed round, and players have to identify the objects by touch alone.

Small prizes (e.g. tap-washer, sprocket-wheel retaining pin, cast-off dentures, etc.) for fullest correct lists.

ethels-garter-tatler-party-1953

“Who’s Got The Towel?”

cutard-tatler-party-games-1953

And my personal favorite…

Where’s Young Simonds And Our Effie?

Two of the youngest guests — a boy and a girl — leave the room, and after half an hour or so, the remainder of the party go to search for them.

leave-room-tatler-party-1953

The Answer To One Of Life’s Hardest Questions

From the March 1951 issue of Profitable Hobbies Magazine, the news that we’ve all been waiting to hear:

“Mrs. J. E. Woodard of Reform, Alabama, has figured out the answer to one of life’s hardest questions — what to do with old straw hats.”

one-of-lifes-hardest-questions

If you, like I, were surprised to learn that this matter of what to do with straw hats was a question of such deep importance to society that it joined the ranks of “What’s the meaning of life?” “Is there a God?” and “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”, thus meriting the One of Life’s Hardest Questions title, then you’ll likely find the answer, turning straw hats into baskets & purses, anti-climactic.

Frankly, I thought straw hats & purses were made from straw baskets. Thus this brief vintage article shatters my paradigm — or at least perverts my perception of the natural order of things…

Which came first, the straw basket or the straw hat? Where do straw purses fit into the scheme of things?

Oh, how can I live my life without knowing…

If this is news is so tantamount to human existence, then why didn’t the publication’s cover boast of such enlightenment? Why bury the true lead on page 17? And what’s a scoop without photographic evidence?

In any case, you likely won’t be surprised to learn that Profitable Hobbies Magazine only turned a profit for about a decade before becoming defunct.

Retro Radio Shack Flashback

Hubby brought home a few old copies of retro Radio Shack catalogs from the 1980’s. I’ve naturally managed to ignore them quite well for the past few weeks because I’ve never been much of an electronics or gadget girl — but I do have a few fond (embarrassing) Radio Shack memories…

So I finally had to pick up the old catalogs and flip through them.

Here are 13 things you can remember &/or learn about me from retro Radio Shack catalogs.

1 I have virtually no understanding of most of the stuff listed (nor it’s tech descriptions) in the catalogs. Then, as now, I only manage to memorize what I need to for a purchase and then dismiss it.

1980-radio-shack-catalog

2 I think I’m supposed to recognize the album cover shown on the catalog cover — so I keep turning back to look at it. But I’m continually distracted by the hip guy in the jogging suit and the sunshine babe in yellow. Twenty Kitsch-Slap Points to anyone who can identify the LP cover.

3 I miss big boomin’ speakers. Everything is so small today, but back then they were massive building blocks in your stereo system. And it didn’t necessarily mean men were over-compensating if they had them. That would take a few more years.

1980s-speakers

4 I think the chick being protected by her speaker-fort looks like Megan Mullally.  I wonder what she was doing in the 80’s…

5 Ah, scientific calculators… I remember in high school we were specifically told to get Texas Instruments (TI) calculators and any kids who showed up with the Radio Shack equivalents were looked funny — mainly because they were so geeky in their defense of their calculators which were supposedly better and were therefore the choice of brainiacs everywhere.

1980-radio-shack-scientific-calculators

6 Which reminds me, what’s the first thing we all learned to do with our expensive scientific calculators — TI or Radio Shack brands? Spell “hell” and “Shell Oil”. Proof that brand really didn’t matter.

7 I don’t recall ever having seen one of these red Radio Shack AM radios — but I’m guessing this hot little number adored the desk in many a brainiac’s bedroom.

retro-red-radio-shack-am-radio

8 Hey, it’s 1986 and electronic books hit the market. As a parent & a reader, I rue the day.

touch-senstive-electronic-book

But the best thing about these catalogs — the 1980 issue especially — was that I discovered the name of a retro computer game I used to play… Consider this 9-13 because it’s full of TMI.

Back in the summer of 1980 I was 16 and my BFF was Mary. We used to walk up to the K-Mart and buy lip gloss Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers (watermelon, please!), wide hair combs to stick in our back pockets, & Tiger Beat magazines — and if we didn’t have money, we’d just flip through issues.

Then we’d head to the strip mall which shared the K-Mart parking lot and cruise albums in a little vinyl shop — until we were chased out for having no money & loitering. Then, still having nothing better to do, we’d giggle over the “real man” who worked at the Radio Shack.

He was a real man, with a thick head of 80’s hair and a full mustache, not the few stray hairs boys at school had above their lips. He was hot.

One day, when they moved the new-fangled computer to the front by the door, the man called us in to test it out. Convinced he was flirting, we giggled our red-faced way into the store and let him teach us about these boxes that I’d one day spend hours of my life on.

1980-radio-shack-trs-80-model-ii

The game they had set up for consumer demos was this game where you thought of a question you wanted answered & the “girl” would ask you questions until she guessed your question. I couldn’t recall the name of the game, but there, in blue & white I discovered the name of it: “Eliza” Artificial Intelligence.

1980-radio-shack-computer-games

Eliza was no oracle; she wouldn’t give you the answer to your question, she’d just figure out your question. Are you as smart as Eliza was purported to be — can you guess my question?

My 16 year old boy man crazy self wanted to know if the man, Mark, liked me and would ask me out.

If it sounds stupid, it was. But in my immature infatuated brain, I thought it would be so romantic to have Eliza “say” to me via the TRS-80 screen, “Is your question, ‘Does Mark like you?'” — with Mark right there to give me the dreamy, “Yes, he does.”

I’m sure he would have uncomfortably said, “No.” (His fiancé called him at the store everyday while I blushed and talked to Eliza.)  And had he liked me “that way,” I’m sure my mom & dad would have been thrilled to have their 16 year daughter bring home a 23 year old man in polyester Sans-a-Belt pants, a short-sleeved white dress shirt & a tie who worked at Radio Shack & flirted with underage girls.

Anyway, I don’t really remember when or why I stopped going to flush & blush my way through conversations with Mark & Eliza… My guess is that summer ended & both of them were put out of their misery by my return to school. But in any case, I can now seriously consider getting an old TRS-80 and an Eliza game. That’s safer than figuring out what happened to Mark.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here

My First Vintage Roadshow

Debutante Clothing shares interiors based on Cecil Beaton’s 1950s fashion sketches.

Glamoursplash provides a roundup of vintage swimwear resources.

Here’s Looking Like You, Kid shows us pages from a vintage lingerie catalog.

Holly Gab brings an aura of intrigue and mystery to this vintage ’70s country club dress.

The Bobbypin Blog tells us how makeup effected minorities in early cinema.

The Vintage Traveler introduces her article on vintage golf clothing.

Things Your Grandmother Knew shares vintage tips on how to care for your books.

Cinderella Nurse: Masochistic Nurse Story Disguised As “Modern Romance” Circa 1960s

While nurses, like secretaries, may have been grudgingly accepted as appropriate occupations for women, the stereotypes about them were dangerously fed to men & women alike. And books like Cinderella Nurse by Jane Converse only helped the sexist notions.

cinderella-nurse-paperbackThis retro paperback novel, published in 1967, was part of not only A Signet Nurse Book series, but part of a very long line of nurse novels, mostly designed to make girls (and women) moon-eyed over the career — not for its noble work in healing, not for its healthy paycheck, but for its lucrative lure of marrying a rich male doctor. As such, Cinderella Nurse has a cast of comic (yet infuriating) characters — which were supposed to be serious lessons regarding society’s moral compass.

Before we get to our heroine, Rita Ambler, there’s her “eccentric” mom who finds “her answers in the cards” and other things “occult” — on Rita’s salary. And Rita’s “beautiful” sister, Nadine, who “can’t say no” (to anything but responsibility and nursing school) and yet the spoiled brat has devious plans…

At work, Rita’s supportive female cast includes Head Nurse Eloise Carrington, nicknamed “Giggles” because, of course, she is anything-but. “Giggles” is the old maid who has foolishly spent her life dedicated to healing — and the love-from-afar of a doctor she can never have (one who mocks “Giggles” & pursues our nurse Rita as well).

Rita doesn’t have a BFF, but the only friendly associate at work (or anywhere else) and therefore can loosely be called a “gal pal,” is nurse Connie Howell. Nurse Connie is a slutty but harmless-because-she’s-a-comical-hoot-of-a-cougar — as well as a good dedicated professional. But when Connie has a career high in which she assists in an operation — “not as a scrub nurse, as an operator” — she proves she’s at the hospital to go from RN to MRS and marry herself a doctor. Despite this professional thrill, nurse Connie doesn’t even consider pursuit of advancing her career but instead concentrates on young residents… And, of course, falls for the unrequited love Rita once had.

But it’s our heroine, nurse Rita, who is probably the worst of all pandering role models in this book.

Long suffering, self-abusive, her first chance at love with Glenn Seabrook was ruined by her inability to stop being a “dishrag” or doormat for her widowed mother and younger spoiled sister. That’s what we are sold on. But really, Rita’s failed at love because she’s failed to make herself a dishrag for hubby-to-be. Glenn can’t stand Rita’s kowtowing — and she must prove she’s no dishrag by kowtowing to his wishes and dropping the caretaker’s role in her family. When Glen won’t marry Rita because he’s too proud to live off of her nursing salary while he continues his very important doctor education, the couple splits up.

This has all happened before our book begins and we meet over-worked and under-appreciated Rita after she has soiled herself with a failed marriage.

To make her likable — pitiable, even — she’s redeemed by widowhood (via the tragic death of her frivolous alcoholic husband) and plays the dutiful mother to her son, Timmy (who has the only smiles she lives for, the only arms who wait for her) while she supports her family (lazy-kooky mom, lazy-yet-plotting sister, and tiny lovable tot).

In just 128 pages, we also encounter not-quite-funny comedy of errors (misunderstandings which keep lovers apart, end friendships, force our lovely nurse into another bad relationship with another drunk — excuse me, “alcoholic”), a near-death by criminally drug-induced abortion, and almost remarkably, some sort of (twisted for the dishrag character — but typical for the genre) pride which keeps Rita from advancing upon her romantic goals and having a lifetime of bliss.

Along the way, the best friend, Nurse Cougar Connie, has to be lost because Nurse Cougar Connie can’t handle losing the man she loves to her friend, Rita — no matter how amicably she feels towards the couple, even sacrificing herself to reunite the lovers.

In the end, it’s the love her child which is said to force Rita to make the tough choices & win herself the man she loves — but only upon hearing that Glenn loves her.

It is supposedly convenient, in terms of book length, for mom & sister to send themselves packing at this time. They run off with money obtained from the wealthy doctor in town who wishes to cover-up the fact that not only did his son knock Nadine up but is the person responsible for giving Nadine the near-fatal Ergot. (I could applaud that the author didn’t give us the standard evil girl fakes pregnancy plot, but we are given the equally typical morality of Evil Immoral Nadine using an abortion juxtaposed against Good Girl Nurse Rita becoming a mother.) In any case, when the lazy money-hungry duo leave town, they leave a huge legal issue for our nurse Rita who is suspected of at least dispensing the Ergot — but the author has decided just-never-you-mind-that because our heroine’s got her baby a daddy & herself a man!

The final words of the book leave us with the happy couple discussing nuptials and the love nurse Rita & her son have for their soon-to-be new names. We are, thankfully, spared the “Mrs. Dr.” part; but one doesn’t need any real imagination to see the writing on the wall…

Liberated non-dishrag Rita will sacrifice her career for her man’s, her needs for his needs — and if she doesn’t sacrifice herself further for her son’s needs, the son’s needs will be sacrificed for hubby’s.

Eventually, Rita will be the alcoholic.

Or maybe I’m just reading to damn much into this.

No, I don’t think so.

Astonishingly, aficionados of nurse novels claim that books by Cinderella Nurse author Jane Converse are “more sophisticated” than most — of course, you’ll have to decide for yourself if that comment, posted by Jenny here, is accurate or not:

Speaking from experience: the story lines of most nurse books make the plot of any episode of Scooby-Doo look like Plato’s “Republic”—in the original Greek.

I say most nurse books, because the story lines of the more sophisticated nurse books (“Cherry Ames,” “Sue Barton,” any Jane Converse) only make Scooby-Doo look like, say, “Hedda Gabler”–or maybe “The Mill on the Floss”–in comparison.

I can’t say that Cinderella Nurse is a good book; but I can’t say it wasn’t worth the read either… For 50 cents, I was able to sigh, groan and rant — which has some value. So perhaps, given it’s short length & low price one could say that this retro nurse romance novel (for others are not quite as bad) is a fine beach read — provided you & the girls are at the beach with margaritas. You’ll have plenty of snark to rim your glasses with.

Things I Want In My Hubbard Cupboard

The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest was published by Elbert Hubbard, and so is yet another thing Roycrofter-tian. One of my husband’s obsessions, I am granted free access to and use of all of our duplicate copies, so you should expect to see them here from time to time.

Today I present advertisements for White Hyacinths and Woman’s Work — prominently featured in The Philistine because the books were written by none other than Elbert Hubbard & his wife, Alice Hubbard, respectively.

white-hyacinths-womans-work(Ads, and “inspirational work advice,” from The Philistine, Vol. 26, March, No. 4, 1908)

The first book, as you can see by the old ads, is “a book for lovers — married or unmarried” — but don’t think it’s recommending scandalous romantic relationships prior to marriage; White Hyacinths is a book about one’s love affair with life & the earth, as seen in the book’s most complete title “So here cometh WHITE HYACINTHS Being a book of the heart by Elbert Hubbard wherein is an attempt to body forth ideas and ideals for the betterment of men, eke women, who are preparing for life by living.”

Intriguing, yes; but my personal vintage book lust is currently in hot pursuit of the second book, Alice’s Woman’s Work.

Tell me, ladies, that this ad copy doesn’t make you clap your hands with joy:

Woman has always been demoneized by male men. Mrs. Hubbard thinks this is an error for both parties and gurgles her disapprobation in Caslon. Woman’s services have been paid for in clearing house promises payable in Heaven.

…Scripture charges her with disarranging the plans of Deity; the Puritans invented and operated the ducking stool for her benefit; all of the twenty witches hanged at Salem were women; she was voted out of the General Conference of Methodists — although the mother of John and Charles Wesley, and seventeen other Wesleys, was a woman, and a preacher; a woman was recently sentenced to prison in England because she insisted on having her political preferences recorded; Blackstone calls her an undeveloped man; women are not allowed to speak in Episcopal nor Catholic churches; good priests refrain from loving women as a matter of conscience, and spiritual expediency, so it seemed necessary for Mrs. Hubbard to write this book as an apology for being on earth and an explanation regarding the weaker sect, and also the unfair sex.

Or this, from the second ad for the same book:

Here is heresy, proud and patent, telling why woman is a plaything for men when she is pink and twenty, and a drudge and scullion when winter touches her hair with the frost of years — sometimes. The worst about the Marital Steam Roller is that the race suffers.

Let no presumptuous person arise and dispute this fact: women are the mothers of men. And in spite of all we can do, the qualities of the mother are the heritage of her sons. To have a truthful, direct and gentle race of men who are strong enough to look each day in the eye, who are afraid of no man, and of whom no man is afraid, we must evolve a race of mothers who are not burdened by idleness, overwork, skimped allowances or the masculine idea of Run-and-Fetch-my-Slippers.

Mrs. Hubbard is a working woman. She is Vice-President and General Manager of The Roycrofters, a corporation that employs five hundred people. She has thoughts and expresses them.

(See full scans of ads, above and below, by clicking on them.)

white-hyacinths-warning-womans-work(Antique book ads from The Philistine, Vol. 27 October No. 5, 1909)

What’s not to love?

Sadly, copies of Women’s Work are difficult to come by. Isn’t that usually my luck? Or is that simply human nature to desire the harder to find object?

I suspect that even among the Roycrofters and fans of Roycrofters, that White Hyacinths’ beauty was far more appealing than the self & societal work presented in Alice’s book. I’m only guessing; I haven’t gotten my hands on either yet. (My Hubbard Cupboard is bare.)

The opening line in the 1909 ad for Woman’s Work read, “Men afraid of an Idea, or women incapable of the same, will do well to eschew the book by Alice Hubbard entitled Woman’s Work.”

From the looks of what few copies remain, most people preferred to eschew.

Or, maybe, just maybe, those who have the book love it so that they keep it close to their bosom.

The Anti-Educational Antiques & Collectibles Education Article

On Sunday, I posted a review of sorts about an article titled People turn to education when times are tough, by Eric C. Rodenberg, which was published in Antique Week (February 2, 2009 edition). But that’s not all I have to say on the subject.

Also featured in that article was an interview with Joe Cohen, director of antiques classes for Florida’s Broward County Public Schools Adult Education Program.

antique-week-joe-cohen

(Discovering that Broward County website was not easy; Rodenberg’s article credit’s Cohen’s own site, www.antiqueclasses.com — which is stupidly constructed in images & flash, so that while Cohen will likely not enjoy what I’m about to say, he should console himself that there’s some text pointing to his website which is in desperate need of being found due to it’s own lack of text.)

Anyway, Rodenberg believes that Cohen “may best be described as a ‘scholar’ of antiques.” Something which puzzles & frustrates me. As you’ll soon see.

You might want to get a beverage and settle in for this rant. Go ahead; I’ll be here when you get back.

antique-week-feb-2-2009After the blah-blah-blah of Cohen’s background and current instruction in the field, we get to this part, which concludes the article:

In large part, Cohen maintains he is responding to a very basic need — accurate information — which, he believes, is lacking withing the antique industry.

“Invariably, when anyone buys something from me they ask, ‘what is the story behind this,'” he says. “It’s just human nature — people want to know the story behind a relic they may buy. And, in the past, that’s just what the dealer and the auctioneer has given them, a story.”

Given the proper tools, Cohen believes the dealers and auctioneers can do better. And, sometimes he believes the “instant gratification” of receiving information from the Internet is detrimental to the trade.

“On my first class, I put a dot on the blackboard,” he says, “and I tell the class to consider that the three acres around them on the campus contain all the information in the world. Within that three acres is all that is known within the world. And the tiny dot represents all the information, in the world, that can be found on the Internet. From there, I put a pinpoint in the middle of the dot. That, I say, represents all the correct information that can be found on the Internet.”

Opening the mysteries of the antique world is not an event, he seems to say, but a process. It may be a process that repays those who are knowledgeable in many ways.

“I find the beauty of antiques in the art, history and the physical properties of any one piece,” he says. “And I believe you cannot make a good decision without that background … an educated consumer is the best consumer.”

And the most satisfied.

And here’s where I defend my beloved Internet.

Not just because I love & live on the Internet (if you cut me, do I not bleed in pixels?), but because there’s so much that’s just plain wrong in what Cohen believes.

So much wrong that I don’t know where to begin…

And let’s not ignore the irony of a man who believes in “accurate information” vs. “a story” yet offers no facts, data or information in support of his own theories — in fact, let’s begin there.

I can draw an over-simplified illustration as a visual framework for a hypothesis on a chalkboard. Really I can. But no matter how artistic &/or convincing the drawing is and no matter how much I fervently believe what I am describing, neither the chalk drawing nor my passion for my own point of view makes it true. I’d really like to see the statistical data or any information gleaned from actual research on the reliability of information on the Internet versus any other medium.

If Cohen — or anyone else — is going to say that the self-publishing aspects of information presented on the Internet equates somehow to a general inferiority when compared to other forms of media, I’m going to, again, ask for proof — and then point to errors made in print. (Anyone else thinking of the fiasco that was A Million Little Pieces?)

Human error (and manipulation of the facts) runs as far back in history as humans themselves do.

In fact, as a researcher, I’ve run into this problem so often than I am loath to trust just one source — even when it’s a publication both from the time period being researched and one you should trust, like the manufacturer’s own catalog. They had printing errors (wrong stock numbers, missing models, good old typos, etc.) back then too, you know. And then, as now, if I’m reading a magazine or newspaper from 1950, who knows if they printed a retraction or correction in the next issue? (If I have the next issue, or access to a copy of it, you’d better believe I scour it for corrections and retractions — buried as they may be.) When reading second (or third, etc.) hand accounts, who knows how trustworthy anything is? Too many people have trouble understanding satire now; that’s probably always been a big issue…

Anyway, good researchers & journalists (professional or hobbyists) present and report their findings to the best of their ability, siting sources where they can, regardless of where the information is to be shared. The bottom line here: No method &/or means of the message’s delivery is inherently more (or less) likely to be rife with misinformation than another.

I’d think any scholar would know such a thing; conversely, I’d expect a person labeling another a “scholar,” to consider just what incongruous & unfounded things the person was saying prior to giving him or her that label. Yes, I’m speaking to you, Mr. Rodenberg, self-described “old newspaper man.”

I’m starting to wonder if anyone in this piece is interested in providing accurate information.

If Cohen’s reference to vast amounts of inaccurate information on the Internet was in regards to antique & collectibles sellers on the Internet, I again, ask for any data to that claim.  I haven’t even heard of any studies regarding fraud or inaccurate antique and collectible sales on the Internet vs. “brick ‘n’ mortar” shops.  “Bricks” don’t imply a more educated dealer than one found by “clicks.” (And, should you be at all alarmed about “bad sellers” on the Internet, please note that in the US, you’ve got fraud protection from the FBI — please see my article here — which is likely more coverage than you have with your local antique shop.)

On to the next point.

When it comes to the amount of information on antiques and collectibles available worldwide (the quantities of which, neither “real world” nor Internet, have been established) I would be very surprised if, at least in some areas, there wasn’t more of it available on the Internet. I don’t have any statistical data to back up such beliefs — but I am at least willing to provide a reasoning for them.

When it comes to media, books have been considered the least expensive when compared to film & television. Certainly, one can argue that other print publications are comparatively inexpensive as well. But in the age of the Internet, the Information Age, clearly digital pixels are even cheaper.

So while a more traditional (i.e. print) publisher may balk at publishing a work with such a small audience as say “magazines from the 1920s” — insisting that the work focus on a broader subject, such as magazines across several centuries — the author (dedicated researcher/obsessive collector) is literally free to publish on the Internet, where she will reach her audience, no matter what its percentage of total Internet readers.

In other words, works that wouldn’t be printed (or perhaps, with self-publishing books as a greater possibility than ever before, it’s more accurate to say such books wouldn’t be printed, marketed, and distributed), may be published on the Internet. Blogs immediately leap to mind, naturally, but there are many options. And with scanning and image uploading, these digital resources have no limits (save for the dedication of the person doing the work) on the quantity and quality of the illustrations, photos and digital image displays; something many publishers curtail for various (monetary, copyright permissions, etc.) reasons.

As a result, you can find blogs, pages, websites and entire communities dedicated to topics so tiny & obscure that you can’t find the information, let alone the visual representation, anywhere else.

Additionally, there’s the issue of access. Not all of us can get our hands on fragile old tomes & publications — not even the more modern copies on microfilm &/or microfiche. But here on the Internet we can see, share and communicate directly with one another — even correcting one another, as needed.

It’s not always about cheap “instant gratification,” buddy; it’s about access and collaboration. At least for those of us dedicated to our antiques and collectibles.

If Rodenberg was accurate in summarizing Cohen as saying that “opening the mysteries of the antique world is not an event, but a process,” then it was silly for either gentleman to ignore or diminish the value of both the hobbyist & the Internet in that process. The hobbyist, the amateur historian, the blogger, the passionate collector (however you identify yourself) and the Internet propel this process of opening the mysteries of the antique world.

If nothing else, we’re the ones who buy (subscribe) & read the very paper this damn article was published in.

Want more irony points? All this Internet-bashing was said in the guise of education — “an educated consumer is the best consumer” — yet they themselves are providing those consumers they reach with misleading information, if not complete mythinformation.

Consumer, beware indeed.

And now for the ultimate irony.

Years from now, when surviving (digital or print) copies of this issue of Antique Week article are discovered by future collectors, they will suffer from the false illusion that way back when, in 2009, the Internet was loaded with inaccurate information — that only a “pinpoint of chalk” of it was true.

They won’t (unless this post survives — and isn’t discounted by the researcher of the future!) know that neither Cohen nor Rodenberg had any basis in fact for saying such things. They won’t know that they were just two men stuck in their old thinking, promoting what they thought saved their own livelihoods: Cohen his classes and Rodenberg his “better than the Internet” paper reporting gig. So the researcher of the future may just go ahead and publish inaccurate information — in the most reliable & legitimate of publications of his time, yet.

(Huge sigh.)

If anyone here is just “telling stories” about antiques & collectibles, it’s these too men, Cohen and Rodenberg.

Republicans Suffer From Dementia & Can’t Understand Satire

In celebration of what is looking more & more like (knock wood) Al Franken’s seat filling the Senate seat and the recent publication of Ohio State University’s study on satire (The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report, April edition of the International Journal of Press/Politics), I’m reposting something I wrote 11 months ago… Because, as you’ll see, it’s more ironic to reread this than to rewrite it.

First republicans were actually using comedian Steven Colbert’s satirical works to push their agendas, and now ABC reports that the Minnesota Republican Party’s released a letter, signed by a whopping six GOP women, attacking comedian Al Franken who was then running for United States Senate in Minnesota:

Eight years ago, Franken penned a column for Playboy called “Porn-O-Rama!” in which the former Saturday Night Live comedian wrote about visiting a made-up sex institute where he takes part in sexual acts with humans and machines.

“While you may attempt to defend your writing as satire, we hardly find anything defensible about your finding humor in your desire to have sex with women or robots that look like women simply to give yourself a good time,” the Minnesota GOP women wrote in the letter. “This column is at its worst, an extreme example of the kind of disrespect for the role of women in society that all of us have fought our entire lives. At best, it is the disrespectful writings of a nearly 50-year-old man who seems to think that women’s bodies are the domain of a man who just wants to have a good time.”

“Denounce this article and apologize immediately,” read the letter.

Sheesh. And they say feminists have no sense of humor…

Perhaps too many republicans suffer from frontotemporal dementia and therefore cannot process sarcasm. (It’s funny because it’s true.)

Meanwhile, for those suffering from a poor sense of humor, an dementia-induced inability to recognize sarcasm, or a fundamental ignorance of humor ~ including satire ~ and its historical use as social protest, the Franken camp’s response (via ABC) should help clarify things a bit:

The Franken campaign said the Playboy column was written as a satire.

“Al had a long career as a satirist,” said Jess McIntosh of the Franken campaign. “But he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator. And as a senator, Norm Coleman has disrespected the people of Minnesota by putting the Exxons and Halliburtons ahead of working families. And there’s nothing funny about that.”

You don’t have to be an Al Franken fan (though I am) to love the “he understands the difference between what you say as a satirist and what you do as a senator”.

sarcasmbrainMaybe a little remedial reading, via the links here, would help those six GOP ladies… Or lobotomies. Hey, Dr. Katherine P. Rankin, do they do parahippocampal gyrus lobotomies for the sarcasm impaired?

Related: In the New York Times article on sarcasm, Dr. Rankin is quoted as saying, “I bet Jon Stewart has a huge right frontal lobe; that’s where the sense of humor is detected on M.R.I.”

And now you know how to spot all the smart funny people (who are happy to see you). Bet there are few bulging lobes in today’s republican party.

Then again, they are rarely happy to see me.

Smoking Hot Fashion: Recycled From Cigarette Butts

Chilean designer Alexandra Guerrero’s Mantis line of fashions were inspired by the burning question of what to do with the vast amounts of cigarette butts strewn about in the City of Santiago Chile.

These are not toxic textiles; according to an interview with the designer at GreenMuse, the garments are made of 90% sheep wool and 10% purified cigarette butts:

The purification process begins with the cigarette butts going through autoclaves (a pressurized sanitation process). They are then washed in a solvent; they go through the autoclave again, are rinsed and dried, and, finally, are shredded to create a wool-like material. The resulting liquid byproduct is also being donated to be tested as a biological insecticide for plant pest control.

The percentage of recycled cig butts is hoped to be increased once it become more financially feasible.

cigarette-butt-haute-couture-by-alexandra-guerrero

Guerrero has cleaned and recycled about 5000 cigarette butts and designed a dress, a vest, a poncho, and a hat even some soap. Currently, the only way to purchase the items, viewable at her blog, is to contact her via email at mantis.yea @ gmail.com.

The Postman Always Rings Twice — Unless He’s Delivering Swine Flu

Philip Alcabes was on The Daily Show recently promoting his book, Dread: How Fear and Fantasy have Fueled Epidemics from the Black Death to the Avian Flu, and talking about how our fears play a huge part in epidemics — like the recent return of the swine flu. So, with this on my mind, I find Frank DeFreitas’ post on historical hysteria over postal pieces as “carriers” of disease timely and fascinating:

Many letters in the past were opened for fumigation, then closed using sealing wax. The list of diseases that were singled out include plague, yellow fever, typhus fever, cholera and leprosy.

disinfected-ephemera

DeFreitas’ post contains many links to suit the most die-hard history detectives (obsessive nerds); I wonder if Alcabes’ book does — and if it even contains the story of disinfected mail?

History Is Ephemeral Carnival, 1st Edition

history-is-ephemeral_big Welcome to the first edition of the History Is Ephemeral Carnival.

I present The New Pathway to Slenderness, 1938 posted at Pink Populace Paparazzi Parade Exposé.

I present In Which I Try To Meet The Missus And End Up With Tommy Bartlett | Collectors’ Quest posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Cliff Aliperti presents On Ephemera, Collectibles, Value and Specifically World War II Era Movie Star Bus Passes | VintageMeld.com posted at VintageMeld.com.

Frank DeFreitas presents Through the Looking Glass posted at Antiquarian Holographica.

I present Hot On The Historical Ephemera Trail… In The National Enquirer? | Collectors’ Quest posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Alessia presents 1965: Legal Marital Rape posted at Relationship Underarm Stick.

I present Don’t Always Judge Sheet Music By Its Cover (Or Cover Price) | Collectors’ Quest posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Jen sent in this link to Yes, Studies in Crap Would Like A Side of Hobo Pie: The Branson Country Music Cookbook as a follow up to my The Baldknobbers (It Ain?t No April Fool’s Joke!) post.

I present Kitsch Slapped » Blog Archive » You Can’t Judge A Racist Nun By Her Habit, Part Three (Or, The Little Chink In Sister’s Armor) posted at Kitsch Slapped.

Honorable Mention: Edward Smith’s submission, About the Titanic | RMS Titanic Ship | Sinking of the Titanic (posted at Splash of Live), doesn’t meet all the requirements — but his efforts at transcription of the antique book deserve mention. This particular chapter is on the the dimensions & capacity of the Titanic, provisions for the comfort and entertainment of passengers of the Titanic, and the army of attendants required.

titanicgreat-sea-disasters_cover-logan-marshall-1912

Please, submit your blog article — or one you like — to the next edition of
history is ephemeral using the carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

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Deadmark Marks The Spot

Deadmark, a little smashed plastic man between your pages, is a creep-tacular way to mark where you left off in the magnificent tome you’ve been reading.

deadmark

My hubby thinks it’s more emotionally fulfilling than bookishly practical, but for those of us who hate to be interrupted while reading, slap-squishing “Mark” is a tolerable way to vent frustration at having to put our book down.

25 Ghosts At 35 Cents A Minute

I spotted 25 ghosts at the thrift store this weekend — the puzzle game was designated a “vintage collectible & therefore placed behind the glass, protected from kids and collectors alike.

vintage 25 ghosts puzzle game

I had no idea of the price until I made the clerk bring it out. So when I found out it was just $3.50, I felt I had to make it worth the clerk’s attention on a busy Saturday and buy it. That, and I’d never seen such a puzzle game before… The lack of any real directions intrigued me too, so I thought I’d better take it home and have a better look-see.

Lakeside’s 25 Ghosts Puzzle Game is a plastic figural jigsaw puzzle of “25 different ghostly shapes that fit together in a mysterious maze!” inside a black plastic frame. That’s what one gleans from the box and opening it. There are no instructions printed on the box, and if any such instruction sheet had been included, it was long gone. Or maybe the manufacturer figured the word “puzzle” was self-explanatory.

Anyway, it was dump the pieces out & put them together again inside the frame.

vintage 25 ghosts puzzle pieces

That took just under 10 minutes. If that sounds lame, A) I bet you’ve never done it, and B) old pieces with fading black painted eyes easily fool these old tired eyes so I had several pieces upside-down. (Next time I’ll know to look carefully that the ghost is facing the right way before I try to fit it in.)

I don’t know if they just didn’t put age suggestions/limits on puzzles back then, or if it was just “understood” that only kids would should be interested in killing some time doing puzzles, but as an adult who spent just under 10 minutes putting the puzzle together, I’d say it’s one of those “all ages” brain teasers — I know I’d like another go at it to see if I can get any faster. It certainly could be one of those timed family competitions too, where the person to assemble it the fastest wins.

At $3.50, that’s like 35 cents a minute; but if you divide the price by the number of pieces, I’m even further ahead. In any case, it’s OK as a puzzle game — but even cooler as a collectible because of the way it looks and the box’s graphics. Another thrift store super score!

25 Ghosts Puzzle Game, Copyright 1969, Lakeside Toys, Division of Lakeside Industries Inc., Minneapolis, Minn. Series No. 8309, Made in Hong Kong. Pieces marked “copyright 1967 LII Made In Hong Kong.”

New Vintage Reviews Carnival, First Edition

new-vintage-reviews-carnival_bigWelcome to the premier edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival.

Games:

jason presents 4 Reasons Why I Will Never Forget Alex the Kid posted at frieeend!. “Talking about the 1986 SEGA Master System game Alex Kidd in Miracle World.”

Collin presents Vintage Board Gaming : The Game of Life posted at Collectors’ Quest.

At Collectors’ Quest I review (with the help of my daughter) What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, © 1976.

Also at CQ, my son and I review NFL All-Pro Football, an official National Football League game, made by Ideal, 1967.

And my family reviews the 1976 board game, Happy Days, “Fonzie’s Real Cool Game By Parker Brothers.”

Films:

Jaynie Van Roe presents Safe In Hell posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Raquelle presents Harper (1966) posted at Out of the Past ~ A Classic Film Blog.

Books:

Jennifer Wohletz reviews Vazkor, Son of Vazkor by Tanith Lee.

Also, my review of The Homicidal Virgin, a Mike Shayne Mystery, by Brett Halliday.

Collin presents Judging More Sci-Fi Books By Their Covers at Collectors’ Quest.

Classic Books:

switch2life presents Book Review: “Comedy of Errors” posted at Book Reviews.

Classic Travels:

AdmirableIndia.com presents Trip to Tawang: Part 2: Cherrapunji posted at AdmirableIndia.com.

Honorable Mentions:

This isn’t really a review — but it’s so clever, I had to include it! Wendy Piersall presents Recycled Crafts: Microwave Dinner Tray to Flower Pillbox Hat posted at Craft Jr.

And hubby’s review of Herbert’s Freaks, by Gregory Gibson, while not technically a review of a vintage book, is about Diane Arbus photos and ephemera from Hubert’s, a ‘freak show’ museum in New York during the ’50s and ’60s.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of new vintage reviews using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts (maybe you’ll be one?!) can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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Mixed Reactions To A Literal Three-Ring Circus

Trying to move past my fear knowledge of clowns and their assassination attempts on my life, we went to the circus on Saturday — El Zagal’s 58th Annual Shrine Circus, at the Fargodome. You’ll never guess who the opening act was…

Sanjaya Malakar.

sanjaya-malakar-fargo-shrine-circus-2009

Yup, that kid with the weird hair from American Idol season 6. The one who makes young girls cry (and that, I guess, is due to puppy love — not the whine of his voice or the sight of his knotted-up hair).

sanjaya-malakar-fargo-shrine-circus-2009_2

My daughter, Destiny (age 12), upon hearing the news that we were going to the circus, warned alerted me to the Sanjaya performance with a, “Everyone from school is going to see Sanjaya!” I guess he still makes pre-teens swoon. I don’t get it. It’s not like he’s Andy Gibb or Parker Stevenson… But hey, I guess I’m just old.

But how far down the talent totem pole do you have to sit to perform at a circus? A circus in Fargo, North Dakota, yet.

Pretty far down.

Even if folks are talking about his being here for some flood relief benefit. (Bryan Shinn, public relations spokesman for the El Zagal Shrine Circus, supposedly said that “Malakar’s appearance is a byproduct of the region’s flooding, which postponed the first scheduled dates of the circus earlier this month and threatened cancellation when replacement acts were hard to find… Malakar will congratulate us on what a great job we did fighting the flood.” I didn’t hear the kid say that…

Oh, but see, he was in town for a local bar’s American-Idol style singing competition called Fargo Star. And while that’s not a hell of a lot better than performing at the circus, I guess the boy’s got a book, a five-song EP — and, yes, a reality television show to promote.

sanjaya-malakar-fargo-shrine-circus-2009_3

Anyway, my hysterical laughter at Sanjaya’s performance wasn’t a thing to be contained. I cackled like an old lady from my nose-bleed seats. Especially when he shook is tiny butt.

But several acts later, I found myself crying.

It was over a bear act — Rosaire’s Bears. Call me crazy, call me a chick; but bears are not supposed to walk on their hind legs (for such lengths of time), suck from bottles and fake-smooch men.

bear-show-shrine-circus-2009

I don’t care if young men and women in gilttering Lycra outifts swing from trapeze or are juggled by their parent’s feet; they (sort of) have a choice. In fact, that stuff pretty darn thrilling. At least for me. Not many of the kids seemed as impressed as the adults. But maybe that’s because today’s kids are overweight and only “do” stairs when the escalators are broken — or when they have to walk steps to get into the house to sit and play a video game.

Yeah, I’m saying that too many kids are so out of shape & mesmerized by digital action & special effects that they don’t even realize what a feat it is to do the stuff that was right in front of their cotton-candy-eating faces.

But I loved the human circus performances. Then my entertainment isn’t spoiled by wild carnage (other than my motherly sense of worry) or neglect/abuse.

Maybe I should just be expecting my period.

But the other acts cheered me up a bit — until the elephants came out. They were also a ticketed ride attraction too. Riding an elephant… Mmmm, OK… But why did one of the women have an elephant lay down on it’s side & do the splits on top of it? Demeaning. And probably a sticky mess too, based on the skimpiness of her costume.

All I could think of was what has happened to trained performing elephants, and I was ready for another cry over them and the bears…

Bears aren’t supposed to pose for photographs with kids either. For the sake of the bears & the kids. (I don’t care that they had pretty painted canvas dividers — I know what bears can do. And these are tamed wild animals, not domesticated animals. Even domesticated dogs bite, maim, kill…)

Sanjaya was posing for photographs at the circus intermission (autographing stuff too, I guess); but he has a choice. And if thinks the promotion helps his career, his choice to be a dancing bear, fine. But spare the bears. Please!

And then it hit me; the best photo-op of the day would have been to get a photo of Sanjaya with the bear. Because that one photo would have summed up so many things that are wrong in this world.

What Better Way Than Humor, Indeed

NOW, the National Organization for Women, is celebrating Equal Pay Day, Tuesday April 28, with a cartoon caption contest:

We need to increase recognition that the wage gap is a problem for women and families, and what better way than humor? Enter NOW’s Equal Pay Cartoon Contest and help us spread the word about pay equity.

It sounds like a good idea to raise awareness about the wage gap for women — and to put to rest the horrid myth that feminists have no sense of humor. Two birds with one stone, right?

But then the cartoon we’re supposed to caption is this one:

now-equal-pay-cartoon-caption-contest

What on earth is funny about that? It’s not even especially charming or quirky.

Thanks, NOW, for helping to perpetuate the myth that we feminists have no sense of humor, even when we run humor caption contests.

Solving My Own Nerdy Needs

I have two problems when I turn to Google or any internet search engine: one is what’s missing, and the other is that I don’t know about something in order to find it.

The first issue is a problem with my obsession with researching my collectibles. So many times I hold something in my hand, but according to Google (and all the search engines & online archives I try) it doesn’t exist. You’d think with the number of times it happens, I’d no longer be surprised; but I continually am. And I also get frustrated. But eventually my compulsive need to know makes me get off my butt and head to libraries and make calls to institutions with specific archives and collections — and then I write about it online.

Yeah, I’m doing my best to stuff the internet with knowledge I wish already existed on it.

I do hope the other obsessive compulsives appreciate that.

The second issue is that when I don’t know that things exist (and that happens — because no matter how much hubby and I cram into our house & heads, we neither have everything nor know everything), how can I search for them?

I’m always on the look out for out of print books and vintage magazines & other publications to read. I love watching old movies, playing old boardgames, taking road trips to kitschy roadside attractions, and the like. But if I don’t know these things exist, how can I find out about them? And with folksonomy being a combination of “the personal” and “randomness”, who knows what keywords, tags &/or labels others would use to classify them?

I try, don’t get me wrong; but I end up with more unwanted stuff than a litter box.

To help myself — and those nerds like me — I’ve started two blog carnivals:  The History Is Ephemeral Carnival and The New Vintage Reviews Carnival.

Please support the carnivals by submitting your posts/articles &/or those posts/articles by others, by informing you favorite bloggers who are equally nerdy, and by coming back to see the carnival goodies!

In Other Craft-Store Scandals…

Who knew craft stores would be home to so many scandals? But beneath their glitter, pipe cleaners, & plush for teddy bears, I guess the heart of American culture beats… Take the names of craft store acrylic paints.

According to Ceramcoat paints, by Delta, Santa must can only be a Caucasian — in fact, “flesh” tones only come in Caucasian.

flesh-tone-creamcoat-paint

I remember when Crayola renamed the “flesh” crayon “peach” sometime in the 60’s (Mental Floss says it was 1962, but I was born in ’64 and I remember the change — maybe it took forever for the new crayons to roll-out on store shelves?). And I believe there were several attempts by Band-Aid to promote varying shades of “flesh” tone bandages over the years… But that was apparently only after they tried more fanciful designer colors — ‘cuz decorating Dorothy Kilgallen in bright rainbow color Band-Aids is more important than providing options in the race-rainbow of skin tones.

*sigh*

I would have happily photographed any other, darker, warmer, etc. shades of “flesh” or skin tones, but there weren’t any.  They do, however, have a color for hippopotamus flesh. Make of that what you will.

hippo-grey-cream-coat-paint

Anyway, while I had my camera out in the paint isle, I also found myself compelled to take a photo of another paint. Plaid’s Apple Barrel acrylic paint in Territorial Beige.

That’s an odd name for a paint — just how is a color “territorial” other than by bleeding & taking over all the pottery, paper etc.? (Not something I look for in a paint.) That shade name was also used by Delta too, making it even weirder. Most amusing of all was seeing that at least one bottle takes it’s name to heart; see how one of the bottles is begging to take over the empty row next to it? Perhaps it even intimidated the other color to vacate the premises.

territorial-beige

As for why I was searching for paint shades, that’s a project I’m not ready to dish about yet; stay tunned.

I Am *Not* My Demographic (Not That You’d Know What To Do With It)

I was watching last Sunday’s Celebrity Apprentice and aside from the actual show happenings — which very much depend upon what I have to say today, though — little foam-flecks appeared at the side of my mouth. And I got that gleam in my eye that made hubby brace himself for the rant to follow. Why? Because the stupid executives from all® laundry detergent/Sun Products Corporation were idiots. Or maybe they were edited to sound like idiots. I can’t say for sure…

But when asked what their demographic was, they said “women over the age of 25.”

That’s not a demographic, people. That’s not even an answer to a math question on averages — mean, median or mode. That’s a swath so wide any marketing instructor worth her salt will smack you with your rolled-up assignment. And I think executives must be at least that high(ly educated) to get on any corporate ride.

When further pressed by the group of celebrities (who I swear had popping eyeballs to match my own frustrated amazement), the executives would only elaborate that the “viral” video used to “promote & brand the product” should appeal to their consumer, said “women 25 years old and older,” who “had children” but were “not (necessarily, I guess?) mothers” or married. So, if I’m to be kind, they maybe were saying that these women had children but don’t identify as “mothers” or don’t wish to be typecast as “mothers only”? Hell, I don’t know.

Still, what a weak bag of crap to hand teams assigned to a promotional project.

No wonder both teams failed in the executive’s eyes.

I seriously thought Melissa’s team, Athena, did a great spot — up until the midgets little people were swearing and the one walked off, anyway.

Anyway, the all® executives instructed teams to create a viral video for (an ill-defined segment of) women.

“Viral videos for women” is a stupid point all by itself.

Speaking not only with my vagina (my over 25 year old vagina, which has delivered children that I raise and so I do identify, in part, as a mom), but as a marketer, I can tell you the activity of “viral videos” is a male hobby. Women may enjoy a really good video, but we don’t have the time — and we don’t care enough to make the time to search for, watch, and relentlessly pass along at even the adorable talking cat video.

(Just one of the dozens my husband has shown me this week; which is like 10% of what he and his bother send back & forth, and maybe 1% of the volume of what either of them watches in any given week.)

How many videos do you watch and send in a week — and how does that compare to the number of videos your menfolk watch & pass? If I ask you to watch the all® laundry detergent videos “officially” made by Joan & Melissa Rivers to promote all® small & mighty® — will you? Are you going to pass any on? (If there weren’t any charity donations involved, would you?)

For the most part, we women “talk” & “shop” on the internet, and videos (along with the creation of LOLcats and other Photoshop “events”) are pull-my-finger, channel surfing time wasters that we don’t participate in.

What a surprise; women & men doing what they do in the real world, on the internet. Huh. Who knew?

I did.

And as if all of this weren’t insane enough… Then the all® execs who say that the promotional pieces are supposed to appeal to women (25 and over, with children) — and Trump who agrees with them, ushering in the dual firing action — add yet another tier on this wedding cake of idiocy. They have a man (a childless gay man) rate & assign a viral weight to the videos. Yeah, Perez Hilton knows his viruses virals, but he said he had no idea if the videos would appeal to women &/or the supposed demographic. *

WTF?

But before I get lost into any more details of Celebrity Apprentice, let me say that in general I don’t think anyone marketing understands what the hell they are doing.

Take TV — especially the dreaded Friday night slots of death. Now we hear that The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Dollhouse may both have or are about to get the ax. We all know Friday night television viewing has a lower viewing audience; only the uncool, exhausted, broke, and likely parenting and so we have no social lives of our own among us (myself included) are home to watch. (And we admit it.) We all know this — there’s a frickin’ Wiki page about it for Christ’s sake. So stop expecting “must see TV” numbers on a Friday night, will ya, stooopid tv execs?

Now if you can’t understand what a grade schooler knows, please, audition for Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader and leave the biz.

At least leave the biz.

But you don’t. And because you can’t understand this simple fact of American life and how it affects your livelihood, it’s no wonder you’ve managed to kill off the longest-running scripted program in broadcasting history.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that you don’t understand me.

I’m 44 year old woman, but I am a HUGE fan of Chelsea Lately and I get my news from The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. Did you know that? No, of course not. You think I’m a 24 to possibly 34 year old woman, probably a hipster; but you’re wrong. And it will only get worse as I’m (too) quickly entering the über-ignored yet fastest-growing segment of the American market.

Now what.

I don’t have — never have had — a Nielsen box (excluding that one time two times in college with one Ms S. Nielson — but we did watch some TV together…), so maybe you need to readjust your box assignments. If you did you’d see that my info wouldn’t be some anomaly but that your demographic numbers skew much higher/older than you thought, more accurately reflecting the reality of American’s viewing habits.

But you’d still ignore us. I don’t know why you do; but you do.

* By the way, I find it really odd that he made no effort to even pretend to know what women like — shouldn’t he know his own readership? There’s lots of women at his site. And I assume they, as well as Perez, wash their clothes.

Don’t Expect To Find Help Making That Penis Quilt At Jo-Ann Fabrics

Apparently, the March/April issue of Quilter’s Home magazine was “too hot” for Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts — at least that’s what they told the distributor for the magazine when they refused to carry the “controversial” issue in their chain of stores. This after editor/owner Mark Lipinski had paid $2,500 to wrap some 45,000 copies in plastic like a porno mag.

Why so much fuss about a quilting magazine? Because the publication dared to include Shocking Quilts, an article by Jake Finc.

The shocking quilts include Gwendolyn Magree’s Southern Heritage/Southern Shame, a quilted response to Mississippi’s refusal to remove the confederate flag from the state flag (which shows lynching), and Mary Beth Bellah’s Helping Hands, which is apparently a cheeky representation of erectile dysfunction — complete with a hand and little blue “pills” made of fabric, a couple of which have actual penises printed on them.

These quilts are the very definition of art — not just something made by hand, but unique works exploring issues of our society. You remember art, don’t you? It’s one of the ways people communicate & exchange ideas, start dialogs. Well, Jo-Ann will have none of that.

Please confine your creativity to the kits provided.

Oh, bother. I thought that with Bush banished from the White House, censorship would move back into the hands of individual consumers. You remember them, right? People who choose to buy — or not to buy — based on their own particular set of values.

But Jo-Ann feels the need to protect us from ideas & creativity.

…Hmmmm… Doesn’t that seem to be against the mission of an arts & crafts retailer?

Let’s see. This is what the company has to say for itself:

Today, Jo-Ann Stores, Inc. is a leading national specialty retailer of crafting, decorating, and sewing products-a “Create-It-Yourself” Superstore. We sell fashion and decorator fabrics, related notions, patterns, crafts, seasonal products and other merchandise. We sell the components to which our customers add their own talent and time to make fun and exciting projects. We are the only fabric and craft retailer that offers creative people everything they need-the products, the assistance, and the inspiration-to fulfill their creative dreams.

So what if my dreams include penis-print fabrics? What if my exciting project explores racial history, or otherwise doesn’t share your CEO’s political philosophies or religious leanings?

I guess then I’d need to shop elsewhere.

I could just let that irony be the last nail in their coffin, let the marketplace speak & pronounce the chain dead for such a stupid thing — because I and millions like me won’t shop there anymore. I personally have a Hobby Lobby and a Michael’s — both well-stocked. As well as an internet full of other options. I urge all readers to use any of them rather than Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores.

But I don’t think that’s enough. I think we all need to support Lipinski and Quilter’s Home, let them know that we appreciate the coverage & support of creative artists & atypical projects — and the best way to do that is to subscribe. Yes, even if you don’t personally quilt; give it as a gift.

Or better yet, keep the mag & dare to be inspired to make your own radical quilts.