“Topknot Troubles”

If you collect vintage magazines and ephemera like I do, you know there’s nothing new under the sun. The celebrity names & faces change, there’s “modern” graphics and trends too. But the push on beauty and grooming products remains true. This little bit comes from Beauty On A Budget, a promotional piece for hair & beauty products (copyright 1957 The Gillette Co.). The illustrations may be period, and the kitschy-cute names too, but the tips on treating your hair problems are rather straight out of any beauty column today. Meet Harriet Haystack, Olivia Oilwell, Selma Snowfall, Cora Cornsilk, Barb Wire, and Delia Droop — “six sisters with vexing hair problems.”

beauty on a budget hair problems

Despite their hair problems, most if not all of the sisters must have gotten married as they all have different last names! Perhaps that’s because they were lucky smart enough to watch Gillette’s helpful film, a Toni Company’s color movie entitled Heads Up For Beauty. It included pointers from “famous beauty consultant” Carol Douglas — and those pointers helped Ann Watson “change from an unattractive girl into a radiant bride by improving her personal grooming.” One prays to the YouTube gods for someone to find and put this movie up online.

1957 beauty

Are You Desperately Seeking These Boots, Susan?

Five years ago I wrote about the fashions in 1985’s Desperately Seeking Susan — and ever since, the popularity of that post seems to have grown. Nearly as fast as the cult classic itself, I daresay. Halloween costume time especially drives interest, I suppose. However, my main interest in posting this today is because — hold onto your hats! — I’ve a pair of the very rare black sequined Desperately Seeking Susan boots up for sale in our Etsy shop! (It includes some ephemera too!)

black sequin covered desperately seeking susan boots 1985

80s desperately seeking susan movie boots booties

“The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crisis”

Doing some research for doll articles, I ran into this bit from the December 18, 1950 issue of Broadcasting Telecasting about a one hour, Chevrolet sponsored, CBS radio & TV program in which radio reporters from “all over the world” would discuss and present the issues.


The program was The Challenge Of The 50s — Years Of Crises, headed by Edward R. Murrow. The other 10 reporters were Howard K. Smith, Bill Costello, David Schoenrun, Richard C. Hottelet, Winston Burdette, Ned Calmer, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, and Larry Lesueur. (With names like that, one questions the accuracy of “reporters from all over the world.” Rather than imply international reporters, it should have been stated that the show was with “reporters stationed all over the world.”) These reporters would become known as Murrow’s Boys and the show would go on to be an annual program, best know as Years of Crisis.

For those of you who prefer to think of the 1950s as an idyllic time, one to romance over, there were issues and crises. In fact, one of them was regarding journalism itself, as the film Good Night, and Good Luck covered. This topic is illustrated clearly, if meekly, in the very same issue of Broadcasting Telecasting with mentions of Drew Pearson‘s being attacked by McCarthy and discussions of media censorship. You can click to read larger versions of the articles as needed.



The Televangelist Infidelity Matrix Scandal

Last week, Rachel Maddow mentioned that there was a mug featuring one on the show’s fabulous charts, The Televangelist Infidelity Matrix, was available at CafePress.



I went searching for it, but apparently the mug was pulled. Here’s the Google cache. While Rachel didn’t seem upset, likely MSNBC was and had it pulled.

Currently, there’s a hoodie available. Get it while it lasts? (I still prefer the mug. *sigh*) See Also: In The Name Of God.


“If I Had A Voice I Would Sing” (Along With The Theme To Vikings on History)

If you are a fan of Vikings on the History Channel, then you’ve probably fallen in love with the tv show’s theme song.

The song’s official title is If I Had A Heart and it is by Fever Ray.

You know how sometimes theme songs are changed, edited, or cut so short that the TV version is nearly unrecognizable? Well, that’s not the case this time. While If I Had A Heart is much longer, it is only more enchanting, even more moving than the few seconds we get with the television show’s credits, — especially when you can make out the lyrics.

This will never end
‘Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

This will never end
‘Cause I want more
More, give me more
Give me more

If I had a heart I could love you
If I had a voice I would sing
After the night when I wake up
I’ll see what tomorrow brings

If I had a voice, I would sing

Dangling feet from window frame
Will I ever ever reach the floor?
More, give me more, give me more

Crushed and filled with all I found
Underneath and inside
Just to come around
More, give me more, give me more

If I had a voice, I would sing

I don’t want to further blow your mind, but you should also watch the official If I Had A Heart video. It’s not really about Vikings either — but it is stunning.

Once I watched the videos (a number of times), I purchased the If I Had A Heart MP3. Then I watched the video for Seven, and I quickly realized it was more economically prudent to buy the Fever Ray (Deluxe Version) LP than to fiddle away buying single MP3s by Fever Ray. I”m loving it! Let’s see if Seven sells you on Fever Ray to:


The Classics: Music & Humor

When Alyssa Milano was on The Late Late Show last December, she told Craig Ferguson (and all of us watching), that her grandfather said there were two types of people: those who think farts are funny, and those who don’t. Clearly Milano does, because she spent quite a bit of time farting around with Ferguson.

Whether or not Milano’s grandfather was right about there being just those two groups of people in the world, it’s clear that Mozart was a man into fart humor. Yes, that Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The proof of poof-amusement comes from (at least) one of 12 letters Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his female cousin, Maria Anna Thekla Mozart. These letters, written between 1777 and 1781, are included in Robert Spaethling’s book. And they contain passages which Lapham’s Quarterly calls “alliterative and obscene”. It is in this letter that we find Wolfgang going well-past a love of all things musical into TMI territory. In fact, this might be the first reference to a shart — it’s certainly the earliest I’ve ever read.

You write further, indeed you let it all out, you expose yourself, you let yourself be heard, you give me notice, you declare yourself, you indicate to me, you bring me the news, you announce onto me, you state in broad daylight, you demand, you desire, you wish, you want, you like, you command that I, too, should could send you my portrait. Eh bien, I shall mail fail it for sure. Oui, by the love of my skin, I shit on your nose, so it runs down your chin.I now wish you a good night, shit in your bed with all your might, sleep with peace on your mind, and try to kiss your own behind; I now go off to never-never land and sleep as much as I can stand. Tomorrow we’ll speak freak sensubly with each other. Things I must you tell a lot of, believe it you hardly can, but hear tomorrow it already will you, be well in the meantime. Oh my ass burns like fire! What on earth is the meaning of this!—maybe muck wants to come out? Yes, yes, muck, I know you, see you, taste you—and—what’s this—is it possible? Ye Gods!—Oh ear of mine, are you deceiving me?

Now I must relate to you a sad story that happened just this minute. As I’m in the middle of my best writing, I hear a noise in the street. I stop writing—get up, go to the window— and—the noise is gone—I sit down again, start writing once more—I have barely written ten words when I hear the noise again—I rise—but as I rise, I can still hear something but very faint—it smells like something burning—wherever I go it stinks, when I look out the window, the smell goes away, when I turn my head back to the room, the smell comes back—finally my mama says to me: I bet you let one go?—I don’t think so, Mama. Yes, yes, I’m quite certain. I put it to the test, stick my finger in my ass, then put it to my nose, and—ecce provatum est! Mama was right!

Clearly not all classical musicians are as, errm, stuffy as you might think.

Image via Wikipedia.

Can You Smell That Smell? A Mystery Is In The Air

A vintage text ad from the Ritz for Michael Todd Jr’s 1960 film, Scent Of Mystery (1960), in “glorious” smell-o-vision! A film which “positively cannot be shown in any other southern California theatre.”

Along with being the first (and only) film in smell-o-vision, the first picture in Belock 8-channel sound (sound which used a control signal to “steer” the single surround channel to three surround tracks: right wall, left wall and rear wall), Scent Of Mystery used the “best 70mm process and “new” Eastman color. The film also had two songs sung by Eddie Fisher — and, because that’s how Liz rolled with her lovers, Elizabeth Taylor appeared in the uncredited role of the American heiress targeted murder victim in the film.

The film stunk-up the theatre. In a bad way. The technology was all-but abandoned, and the film was re-edited, converted, and re-released without the odors as Holiday in Spain in 1961.

Of course, smell-o-vision, as a concept, was not entirely abandoned. In the stink-o-rific world of 1980s scratch ‘n’ sniff cards, , , and scented toys, John Waters released Polyester (1982) in Odorama, which used . A decade later, MTV would re-air Scents Of Mystery using the same scratch and sniff technology. Since then, a number of other films and have used aromas as a gimmick.

It’s a shame the idea of aromas accompanying a film are now such a kitschy gimmick. I’m sure Todd and Waters were trying to tap into something more than that. For smell is a powerful and unique sense, strongly and uniquely linked to memory. Properly used and executed, smell-o-vision and all the rest could do more than entertain; it would evoke and create memories. It could boost the cinema and revive community theaters.

When Movie Theatres Die

I watched both of these on TCM a few weeks ago and was thrilled to find them available online. This Theatre and You was put out in 1948 by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to educate about the importance of movie theatres in a community — your community. And 1953’s The Case Against the 20% Federal Admissions Tax on Motion Picture Theatres provides a look at an industry which may seem like a dinosaur now, as we sit solo and absorb our individual digital media. But moving away from the shared experiences of film certainly explains a lot about the failings of old downtown centers and communities alike.

It’s well worth the little over 30 minutes of your life to watch both of these.

Image of the Fargo Theatre, 1941.

The Political Shades Of A Colorpillar

When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…

But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.

First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.

Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.

In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.

I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.

In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:

The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.

What’s That Belt Buckle Rachel Maddow Is Wearing?

I obsess on things; sometimes odd little things. (See my body of work.)  Tonight’s obsession was Rachel Maddow‘s belt buckle. In case anyone else has wondered, Maddow wears a belt buckle which reads “Texas Nuclear”. Why? How long has she had it, worn it? That’s all still something I obsess over.

Thanks to this post, I was able to 1), confirm that I’m not the only one interested in Maddow’s fashion accessories, and 2) find the photo. Along the way, however, I also discovered the sadly-not-updated-enough Rachel Maddow “Hey Girl” photo-blog and Commie Pinko Liberal, a Tumblr with some great Rachel Maddow GIFs. You never know when you need a little help from Rachel to communicate for you… You know, for all those times words fail.  For example, this is how I imagine Rachel Maddow would feel about my belt buckle need-to-know:

The Power Of The Female Voice In Silent Film

Over at (one of his) sites, Dakota Death Trip, hubby posted this fabulous old ad. While you might think it’s an advertisement for a woman, Clara Kimball Young, it really is promoting a film, 1920’s The Forbidden Woman (not to be confused with 1948’s Forbidden Women, which allegedly stars women recruited from a Los Angeles whorehouse).

Why is Clara Kimball Young such a focal point? Because back in the day, women ruled the box office!

As I wrote in my review of Mick LaSalle’s Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood (my review is fine, but NWS ads in sidebar):

In the 20’s and early 30‘s women dominated at the box office. Women were the biggest stars, featured month after month on the covers of fan magazines (it was a rare month indeed when a male face turned up on the cover!), and society was fascinated with women in general.

If you’re curious about the historical role of women in and out of film, how they once held all the power and how it was taken from them, read LaSalle’s book.  And then read Movie-Struck Girls: Women & Motion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon, by Shelley Stamp. (Here’s my review.)

Also related, my post on female celebrity pitch women at the turn of the (last) century: Julia Marlowe, Selling Stuff From Head To Toe.

Reflections On A Pretty Baby

I often wonder about Brooke Shields, especially when I see Pretty Baby. It’s been a few years now since I’ve watched it last, but when I saw this image, I started thinking about the movie and the actress again.

Most people wonder about young Brooke for her notorious advertising gigs, and for the film Blue Lagoon (NWS), but it’s Pretty Baby which makes my head spin. That’s why I’ve watched the movie several times. The are multiple layers of uneasiness and creep that I know I must work out for myself, so I continue to watch it. (This posting likely ensures a viewing sooner rather than later.)

In the film, a 12-year-old Brooke Shields plays Violet, the 12-year-old daughter of a prostitute working in Storyville, the red-light district of New Orleans, in 1917.  It would be an interesting and uncomfortable story by itself, but unlike a book, film requires more than your mind — characters are brought to life by actors. As noted in the post about Blue Lagoon (above), a lot of watching a film is about what we bring to it. I didn’t see the film when it came out in 1978 (yet I often wonder what my 14-year-old self would have thought about it);  I was both an adult and a mom. And as a mom — who knows that Brooke is a mom — I can’t help but wonder about the actress herself. What was it like to be a child and pretend such a role? When a kid plays in a horror movie, I have those thoughts too; but then kids know scary monsters under the bed. I’m no prude, and I don’t think sex is worse than violence, but Pretty Baby is/was different. Its sophistication is what makes it a great film. But is such sophistication suitable for children — viewers or actors? …Was young Brooke aware that her position as a child actress was a lot like the role she played? How does Brooke the mother feel — would she allow, encourage, or discourage one of her children from playing such a role?

Brooke’s written books, but her autobiography was written before she was a parent, and I doubt the postpartum depression book mentions any of this… I’d love to get my hands on a copy of her 1987 senior thesis, The Initiation: From Innocence to Experience: The Pre-Adolescent/Adolescent Journey in the Films of Louis Malle, Pretty Baby and Lacombe Lucien; but that too was ages ago. Has age and motherhood changed how she views these experiences?

Thoughts On Gypsy Rose Lee

I recently, again, watched Natalie Wood’s Gypsy (1962). While the film is stunning — as rich & saturated in period color as it is fashion and sex appeal, I’m always moved by the story.

Yes, there’s the somewhat dated camp we now expect of a vintage musical movie, but along with the comedic moments of dancing cows and the suspended belief required for any drama to contain people breaking out into song (often with dance), there’s a story. What made me go back and watch the film again was what Peter Burton wrote in his review of Noralee Frankel’s Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee:

Like the musical, Stripping Gypsy is dominated by Rose Hovick, Gypsy Rose Lee’s overbearing mother. But whereas the Rose of the Broadway show is a larger-than-life and bullying archetype of the stage mother determined that first one daughter and then the other would become a star, the reality was grimly different.

“Rose’s mental illness, emotional brutality and overt bisexuality were not the stuff of a Fifties musical,” explains Frankel in the preface to the book, surprisingly the first ever biography of the star. Nor had Rose’s more glaring character defects been a part of Gypsy Rose Lee’s autobiography, from which the show had been loosely drawn. Frankly she was a monster, entirely without redeeming qualities.

A native of Seattle Gypsy came from a family of strong women who had little use for men. Her grandmother married young, believing that marriage would give her freedom. She spent much of her life as a travelling saleswoman, marketing hats and lingerie to women in far-flung logging and mining camps.

Rose also married young – she was 15 and used marriage to escape her convent school. Once intent on a stage career of her own she soon diverted her ambitions on to her daughters and created a musical act built around June, Gypsy’s younger sister.

When June defected also by way of an early marriage Rose turned her attention to her eldest daughter who soon became Gypsy Rose Lee. A legend (fostered and burnished by the star in press interviews and self-penned articles) was born.

Perhaps it’s not fair to compare the Broadway musical with the movie version. But then Burton isn’t the first to make such comparisons; his was merely the most recent I’d stumbled into. And what always strikes me most about these sorts of comments, that the telling of the story for entertainment purposes isn’t properly expressing the grim realities — of Gypsy Rose Lee (born Rose Louise Hovick in 1911), or anyone else’s — life.

Obviously, entertainment, be it film or live theatre has it’s own unique bumps and grinds translating the real story with what people will pay to see. (See this week’s episode of Smash, when the audience fails to enjoy the show because — shocker! — Marilyn dies at the end.) But for me, the real issue has to do with our current level of expectations with the storytelling in movies, television programs and other shows.

We (the collective cultural “we” that does not include me) can no longer handle subtle. We need to be hit over the head, we need to be spoon fed every little thing, and we need it to be as graphic as an explosion.

Maybe you have to have some personal experiences with mental illness, abuse, alcoholism and the like in order to feel the sharp “grim realities.” …But that can’t be true, for if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that no one can really be free of these sorts of situations. We have them. We feel them. But when it comes to films and storytelling as entertainment, so many of us can’t trust them on the screen unless they are worse than what we’ve felt or can imagine.

Not me.

I find many of the scenes in Gypsy difficult to watch. I feel the pain, the losses. I feel the embitterment, the waste, even in the triumph of success.

Gypsy Rose Lee may be, arguably, the most famous striptease artist; but for me the story is tainted. Not by the shame or dirt of sex; but by the shame and dirt of a mother’s cruelty — which is sad it it’s own way too.

In my opinion, no biography or even autobiography is ever capable of exposing the whole truth.

But for me, Gypsy, even as a musical, exposes enough of The Truth to be powerful. As a result, I cannot even look at these vintage black and white photos of Gypsy Rose Lee (take by George Skadding for Life) and not have them tinged with the color of the exhaustion of triumph over sadness. But sadness remains just the same.

My gawd, how does anyone ever form relationships, mother, after the sort of mothering Gypsy Rose Lee had? So much hard work. …But there are hints of this in Gypsy, if you care to look for the subtle signs.

What’s Wrong With OWN, Why Rosie O’Donnell’s Cancelled, & Why That’s Bad

I once was an Oprah fan. I even went to a taping of her show once with a group of friends, one of whom had a cousin on the staff, so we saw a bit more than perhaps the regular guests do/did. I was then impressed with her not-on-camera persona, chit-chat with coworkers (when I’m certain she didn’t know we could hear her) and her professional and kind decision not to air that actual episode because one of the young girls broke down and became too upset to remain on stage. But my affections for Oprah, as well as some respect, left when I experienced domestic violence and, like other survivors such as Alessia, who has written about this herself, discovered how willfully ignorant Oprah wishes to remain on the real issues of domestic violence.

*heavy sigh*

But I should try not to get off task.

A few days ago, Oprah announced that her television network, OWN, would not be renewing Rosie O’Donnell‘s show. This made me feel sad. I don’t know Rosie, personally, but I’ve always enjoyed her shows. Even if I didn’t watch more than three episodes of this latest TV show of hers (put a pin in this; more on it in a bit), it felt nice knowing Rosie was on the air. But my sadness turned to anger when I heard the comments about Rosie and OWN struggling too. Not just the ones made by the namesake of Trump’s Syndrome; that trash talk is expected. No, I was more offended by statements like, “Oprah fires Rosie: Seems another liberal network is failing. Gotta be racism or bigotry against fat women,or fat lesbo’s or something.” (A screenshot here, just in case said thread disappears; and to document the “supportive” comments in agreement.)

Now, you ask, how can I complain about such attacks when I took a shot at Donald Trump myself? I sure can dish it out, but I can’t take it, right?


The Donald’s hair is something which could be managed, should be managed, but the man apparently loves it as much as the attention it gets him. And while I have poked fun at his appearance (and that of his ill-fated children), I didn’t use that dislike of his physicality to deride the man’s character, his ability to be successful, or devalue him as a person. (I really don’t have to do that; in my opinion, Trump does most of that himself every time he opens his mouth in front of the media — and he pushes his way to microphones a lot.) The man is not his bad hair; his bad hair does not equal his worth in terms of money or his value to society. This is normally how it goes for men. Excluding gay men, of course; they, whether they like it or not, are treated like women because they aren’t considered to be “real men”.

In addition to our labels of female &/or gay (quite often said with sneers if not using out-right slurs), we women, gays, lesbians, trans and bi folk are all judged on appearances. It’s more than just some male-gaze objectification reducing us to sex parts. We are our weight, our hair, our appearance and our non-male status — and those things are the reason why we are failures, things of little worth or value.

Now back to those things we put a pin in, beginning with my “Trump’s Syndrome” comment.

Yes, that statement at GetGlue is proof that I watch Celebrity Apprentice — even as I’ve admitted to not having watched much of Rosie’s. How might I reconcile that, at least to myself? Well this is where we pinned that first point.

While I do tell myself that Celebrity Apprentice is an exercise in studying human nature with the benefits to charity, it’s really a guilty pleasure — one that benefits from being a major network show; I am reminded often to see it while watching other shows on that channel. It’s not just that I’m some mindless sheep “the media” controls, but the fact is there are benefits to being part of a major network’s programming. For example, there are times when I “watch” a show because I’m busy researching or writing and not concerned enough to change the station, times when I just continue watching a channel because I like what comes on next and I don’t want to miss it, etc. These realities are the fundamental problems Rosie had with her show and why the whole OWN network is struggling.

There’s just not enough good programming on OWN. And I’m not the only one saying so. Here’s a screenshot of OWN’s main page with comments such as these:

Posted: Thu 3/22/2012 10:14 PM
Like many others, I am so sorry to see the Rosie Show go. It was almost the only show I watched on OWN. I can’t believe the shows that Oprah has chosen to be on her network. This was supposed to be a channel that would lift us up, but it has shows like unfaithful. It was supposed to be fresh but it has endless reruns of Dr. Phil.
I have loved Oprah tor so long and I wanted her channel to succeed, but I’m so disappointed!
O, where are you?

Posted: Thu 3/22/2012 9:44 PM
I’m a big fan of Oprah, and certainly want OWN to succeed, but there is almost nothing I want to watch on OWN at this time. It seems odd that Oprah, who is all about living your best life, has so many shows on her network about people in prison, people cheating on their spouses, murder, etc. None of that appeals to me. And to be quite honest, the Master Class series puts me to sleep, and Oprah’s new show where she goes and interviews people like Steven Tyler are a yawn as well. I think she needs a break from interviewing. Last year my favorite show was the “Behind the Scenes of the 25th season of the Oprah Show”, and I loved the Shania Twain series and Addicted to Food. Also the special Julia Roberts did where she interviewed interesting women. I attended the O Magazine conference in Atlanta in October and that was fantastic – inspirational and motivating. I know these are two completely different formats, but I don’t feel OWN is delivering the types of programs that appeal to your former viewers and magazine subscribers. Give us some Ali Wentworth, or Maria Shriver doing profiles on interesting women, like her interview in the magazine with the female poet. And mix in some new talent as well – not just your tried and true circle. You can do it, Oprah!

[I had no idea about some of those shows — sorry I missed a few of those. But then, since I’m not watching OWN, how would I know or remember?]

When I first heard Oprah Winfrey was going to start her own network, I may not have been the most excited person on the planet… But I was hopeful that it would have good shows. It’s own good shows. Negative comments on what it does air aside, the network lacks dynamic shows. I don’t mean the faux action and tension of “reality shows,” but good solid shows women want to watch about issues that matter. And Oprah needs to move past who she was in terms of her old show and those coaching shows like Lifeclass and Master Class — it feels more condescending than inspiring. Especially when sprinkled between such other “ick” pandering programming.Frankly, Oprah, your network’s shows run dangerously close to treating your stated target market like their physical and psychological attributes and “female” status — when you’re not feeding us crime shows or reruns of stuff we feel we could see anywhere, anytime. And that’s uber disappointing from a woman. Even if I’m not your number one fan, I want you to succeed, Oprah!

Listen, Oprah, a lot of your audience is older — we’ve been-there-done-that with you already. And younger women? Hell, thanks to you, Ms. Winfrey, they’re past what used to be too. It’s not (just) the Internet and new media that challenges you here for audience attention; it’s the old thinking.

If there’s one thing that the Internet should be teaching everyone in media today, it’s that, like the origins of newspapers, the productions of original thought — even if opinionated and “slanted” but with the integrity to disclose itself as such — gain followers. Why not focus on the one thing a woman’s network should never shy away from: Feminism. I don’t think I have to tell you that I’m not talking about Rush Limbaugh’s idea of feminism; but what’s wrong with taking a stand for the equality of women and giving us intelligent programing rather than approaching us like we all need the tv equivalent of chocolate for our periods? (Lifetime annoyingly already covers that.)

Go get Joy Behar; her show was aces but suffered between mindless HLM fear-mongering-hype drones. (Oh, the agony I endured just to make sure I wouldn’t miss my Behar!)

Give Roseanne Barr another talk show; her’s was one of the best ever but ill-suited to daytime when so many of us worked then. (I still wish I had that Mary Daly interview on VHS — why did I tape over that??!).

And then reinstate Rosie O’Donnell, let her have the show we need from her, and you’ll have a trifecta!

(Dare I dream you get Rachel Maddow and I might give up MSNBC completely in favor of OWN!)

As for what you do with the other hours of the day, well, I’ve got long lists. Have your people contact me. I don’t have people. …Well, I have family, but please don’t leave messages with them. Just email me direct at Deanna.pop.tart@gmail.com and I promise I’ll reply asap.

Jessica Savitch (Part One?)

I watched Almost Golden: The Jessica Savitch Story, starring Sela Ward, tonight. During commercial breaks, I Googled Jessica Savitch. To my surprise — and major disappointment — there’s not really any website devoted to this groundbreaking woman who earned four Emmys, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, and election to the board of trustees at Ithaca College.

If you start at Wikipedia (and I never trust Wiki completely, so please only let it be a starting place), the entry on the anchorwoman pretty much follows the made for TV movie. The Accuracy Project has basic bio info, but leaves a lot to be desired as it really only presents corrections, and a handful of them at that. And there’s this bio by Abigail Griffith (Spring 2008).

Reading all of those, there are odd discrepancies which mainly center on Donald Rollie Payne, a gynecologist in Washington, DC, who was Savitch’s last husband who committed suicide on August 1, 1981 by hanging himself in the basement of their home. Abigail Griffith says that Payne “committed suicide after becoming aware of a diagnosis of incurable cancer,” while Wiki says he was a “closet homosexual.” I don’t suppose that matters much to most of us, but I’m certain these things mattered to Savitch and possibly say a lot about her (continued) relationship choices.

For something that fills in more gaps, you can try this archived article from People magazine on Savitch’s death.

And in 1988, five years after her death, a Current Affair episode in which Savitch’s family calls Gwenda Blair’s book lies:

(Worth watching for so many reasons — we can discuss in the comments!)

But for my money, the most insightful piece about Jessica I found online was this article written by Maury Z. Levy when Savitch was still a broadcaster in Philadelphia.

Since her death, Jessica Savitch’s been inducted into The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s Hall of Fame, and the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College hosts a Journalism Lecture Series in her honor as well as named an on-campus television studio in her honor. There should be some sort of official website in her honor.

I bet Jessica would have loved the Internet, even if it/we would have had a field day of speculation and fun at her expense with the gaffes (largely exaggerated in the movie and historical footnotes) made on her last broadcast — just 20 days before her death. So someone, give her her due.

How Much To Put On An Authentic Beverly Hillbillies Play?

The Beverly Hillbillies, A Comedy In Three Acts, Based Upon The Television Program “The Beverly Hillbillies” Created By Paul Henning, Adapted by D. D. Brooke, 1968.

This was published by The Dramatic Publishing Company, Chicago — and that’s just who you’d have had to pay if you wanted to put on a performance of the play: $35 for the first amateur performance, $25 for the second, and $20 for each subsequent performance, providing arrangements were made in advance.

As a writer, I love the simple copyright information:

This law provides authors with a fair return for their creative efforts. Authors earn their living from the royalties they receive on the book sale and on the performace of their works. To copy parts or give performances of a royalty play without paying royalties robs the authors of their livelihood.

I’m giving this vintage play away on Listia as a collectible; it does not come with any permission to perform the play. (If you don’t yet know what Listia is, check out my review.)

Spotting Memories In Retro Radio Ads

Still nostalgic thinking about the old days in Milwaukee radio, I’ve been hanging out consuming The Halcyon Daze (I prefer using the “classic” interface for navigation, in case you visit here, Scott Beddome — aka rock’s Scott “The Kid”). I’m particularly smitten with this post of 1984 TV commercials for radio — especially this classic WKTI spot:

Not only does it feature Reitman & Mueller, and the Booze Brothers — but that’s Warren Wiegratz on the keyboards!

Having stalked Oceans for years, I’d know. My Oceans following began in 1984 or so, when my biological sister’s foreign exchange “French sister,” Christine (Oh, so tempted to talk trash about Christine and her visit; but I will behave.), came to stay with us and she wanted to hear a jazz band. So my parents took her to Sardino’s. After an early crush on Duane Stuermer (somewhere around here I have signed ticket stubs from Duane, and, possibly, his brother Daryl), I eventually forged a friendship with drummer Ernie Adams — who’s dad, it turned out, worked with my mom. Small world. It became even cozier when Ernie and and dated; but I don’t like to kiss and tell. *wink*

In Which Gardasil & I *Almost* Make The News (Or, Ethics In Medicine & Media)

Last week I watched The Republican Debate at the Reagan Library. I found myself astounded by the fact that these people with limited intellectual reasoning, if not limited intellectual functioning, were in positions to actually be running for President of the United States of America. I’ve more to say on that subject (expect another post soon), but for now, I’m just going to focus on the one subject in which I found myself even more shocked: the one time when I found myself agreeing with some of the things the potential candidates said.

Faux Vintage Gardasil Ad

The subject was mandatory use of the Gardasil HPV vaccine; something I’ve long considered dangerous — especially as it’s equated with crony capitalism. Now, to be clear, I’m not one of those who thinks that preventing a disease which is linked to sexual behavior is akin to giving young women (or anyone) a Go Out & Screw card; you should know by now I’m not that kind of silly. But I’ve been concerned for a long time about the dangers of Gardasil, a drug pushed through quickly and forced upon young women and their families who are kept ignorant of the dangers — including deaths — of the vaccine. However, as I was soon to be traveling, I decided I didn’t have time to write about this subject again. Until…

Not long after I arrived home last night, my father in law called me. A reporter, Kristin Helgeson from Valley News Live, had left a message for him, asking if he was related to a Deanna Dahlsad. Yes, he is; yes, I called the phone number Helgeson left, and left her a message. But it wasn’t until this morning that the reporter and I connected.

Seems Michelle Bachmann stepped in it again, this time taking one individual and unverified comment and making the claim that “Gardasil led to mental retardation,” and Helgeson, having found my coverage of Gardasil at my other blog, wanted a comment from me. However, now that it was the next day, the story is “over.” While Helgeson was interested in pursuing the information I had, her boss, News Director Griff Potter, felt new and more accurate information wasn’t warranted — at least not enough to continue the story on air. Instead, Potter feels that I should just add a comment to the news story on their website.

It’s here that my story turns, for the moment, from one of the dangers the Gardasil vaccine, to that of the problems of The Media.”

In Valley News Live‘s coverage of the story, they reported:

On their website, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a review page for this vaccine. None of the serious side effects have been linked to the vaccine and there have been no reports of mental disability. In fact, the most serious side effect they found was fainting. They now ask patients to sit down for 15 minutes after they get vaccinated.

This may be true — but it’s clearly not the whole story! As I’ve uncovered, there are deaths linked to Gardasil — in the US and India.  While Valley News Live may not find their omission “retraction worthy,” surely they should present the other information that the public ought to be informed about.  And they should do so in the same format as their original coverage.  One hopes that the folks at Valley News Live know that their television viewers are not necessarily those who will turn to the Internet and look for updates on earlier stories (or trust the comments left by some “kook” like me); if there was something important to add to the story, they’d show it on the news right?  Wrong.

I want to be clear here and state that Helgeson wanted/wants to proceed with the story.  And I did call Mr. Potter to voice my concerns too; as of this writing, he has not returned my call.  I hope he is out to lunch in the literal sense, not metaphorically, and that I will hear from him — or from Helgeson, saying Potter has reconsidered.  But until then, this whole thing just makes me so angry.

How long will the arbitrators of news continue to dismiss the issues in this story?  How long will they continue to discount women — not just as part of their audience, but in general?  For cutting or ignoring the facts from stories like this only perpetuates the problems of poor ethics in everything from medicine and politics.

For more, see my other related posts, at varying sites:

Is Medicine At Odds With Women’s Health?

Controlling Parts Is Controlling The Sum Of Its Parts

The Dark Side Of Medicine

What If Everything You Knew About The Corset Was Wrong?

And do see my Gardasil coverage.

Back to the Future II Nike Mag Shoes To Benefit Parkinson’s Research

Love and the shoes Marty McFlyin wore in Back to the Future II? Spread the love by getting yourself a pair of rare and collectible NIKE MAG shoes while raising money for Parkinson’s research.

Auction giant eBay will auction off 150 pairs of 2011 Nike Mag sneakers each day, ending September 18, 2011. All net proceeds from the auction sales of the 2011 NIKE MAG go directly to The Michael J. Fox Foundation — the largest private funder of Parkinson’s research.

The shoe auctions began on September 8th, and the first 150 pairs sold for approximately $6,100 per pair — reportedly raised an amazing $921,290 for The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Since then, prices have dropped to roughly $4,500 per pair. Prices may still very well continue to drop. While still not affordable for me, those of you looking for something rare for yourself –or to give that special someone, this is the gift that “kicks.”

The Sexual Segregation Of She-Ra; Or, Why I Love Thundarr

I’m too old to claim to have logged hours of watching She-Ra or He-Man — or any childhood memories from that MOTU period. But that won’t stop me from having an opinion.

In The Problem With She-Ra as a Feminist Text, Renee Martin considers the retro ass-kicking cartoon vixen in terms of various female identities:

As adult, I can look at She-ra and still appreciate the positive role that she filled for some young girls. I say some, because as a WOC, She-ra is not a show that I would particular encourage my children to watch, and even more so if I had a daughter. You, see when feminists start talking about women’s advancement, my first question is which women are we talking about? If we’re honest, no matter how many times the great unified sisterhood is pitched by feminism, there are always going to be some women, who somehow don’t fit the mold, because they are poor, of colour, trans, lesbian, older, disabled etc.

…I love her even though she is flawed and continues the erasure I feel as a marginalized woman in many spheres, but I will not dismiss her, because I don’t have the right to take away heroes from little White girls, who need their heroes too. Even though their challenges will be much different than mine, I will not deny that these challenges exist, and by so doing erase the threat that they pose to me. There are very few positive role models for young girls of colour to look up to but erasing the few White images will not change that.

When I read Martin’s post, I found myself nodding my head in understanding and agreement; however…

I’m still struck by something Hillary DePiano, author of The She-Ra Collector’s Inventory: An Unofficial Illustrated Guide to All Princess of Power Toys and Accessories, said in my interview with her:

Interestingly enough, I started somewhat backwards. He-Man predated She-Ra by quite a few years and as a kid I just LOVED He-Man. I had quite a few of the toys. But when the spin-off show, She-Ra came out, my parents decided that since there was now a “girl version” that I had to give all my He-Man figures to my brother and that he would play with them and I would get the She-Ra. God, was I bitter about that. I think there is some feminism lesson in there.

I can’t help but wonder, then, if She-Ra was a means of sexual or gender segregation.

She-Ra was part of the Master Of The Universe world but she was relegated to her own corners of it, kept out of the “Males Only” areas just because they had lady parts. (The usual over-emphasized comic book figure lady parts, of course. He-Man had his own exaggerated maleness too; it’s the earmarks of such works.)  I can’t say that watching the complete She-Ra series and all the He-Man episodes, we could count how many bubblers water fountains She-Ra and crew couldn’t drink from, how many buses these sheroes rode in the back of; it’s far worse than that.

The simplicity of making an “all female version” of the popular Saturday morning cartoon series completely removes coexistence. Women on one side; men on the other — the original side.  Almost like parallel universes, really. What does that say about gender equality?  Not much. Especially if parents, the kids’ overlords, were interpreting these two shows and their accompanying toy sets as “one for boys, one for girls.”

(If there were any super-cross-over MOTU episodes, those might be more interesting; but I doubt I’d be surprised.)

That’s maybe (partly) why I liked Thundarr The Barbarian. There may not have been complete equality, but at least Princess Ariel and Ookla the Mok existed along side leading man Thundarr.

Sadly, there were no Thundarr The Barbarian toys. *heavy sigh* Which means I cannot discuss the parental interaction. Nor can I collect the toys.

PS For the record, I was — and forever remain — an Ookla fan. Ookla was a formerly enslaved a leonine humanoid with fangs and yellow eyes. Whatever a Mok may be in this cultural equation, I guess that’s how I’m identifying.

While Ookla’s guttural, growling language may seem unintelligible, and therefore not appear well suited for blogging writing, “he” is also, according to those who know, “the most likely of the heroes to charge right into an enemy attack or to be enraged by unusual nuisances or threats.” And that, my friends, is how I see myself. (Plus, I will also go quite out of the way to avoid water on my face as well.)

Image credits: Photo from Hillary DePiano’s book and used with permission.

Once Upon A Time… There Was The Storyteller

I don’t spend my time listening to TV show announcements, and I admit I know even less about comics — but I do read a lot of blogs. So that’s how I found out that ABC has just announced that they have picked up a new series entitled Once Upon a Time, which is similar to Marvel’s Fables comic book series in that the fairytale characters will be set in “today’s world.” (Poor things.)

For some reason, this reminds me of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, even if ABC’s show will have actors and (apparently) no puppets. And isn’t set in the past.

I’m looking forward to the new ABC television show… But I would welcome the return of Muppets, or any puppets, really.

“There’s nothing gays hate more than when people treat us like women.”

Cameron:There’s nothing gays hate more than when people treat us like women. We’re not. We don’t want to go to your baby shower. We don’t have a time of the month. We don’t love pink.
Mitchell: You love pink.
Cameron: No, pink loves me.

I had mixed emotions about this past week’s episode of Modern Family… I don’t think gay men are women or should be treated like them, but the attitude about women was practically sneering, as if, again, there’s nothing lower than being a woman.

BBC Resumed Clowning Around

We Americans (at least those who watched NBC) had Marjorie Hellen, color TV “identification girl”; across the pond, BBC watchers had “Carole and the clown” test pattern.

The test pattern, featuring eight-year-old Carole Hersee, was broadcast between 1967 and 1998, amounting to 70,000 hours of screen time — and in January of 2009 that test pattern returned. The BBC has rescanned the original transparency in high definition to help consumers set up the latest TV sets.

Below is a photo of Carole Hersee in 2009, when she was 49.

Marjorie Hellen: “Identification Girl” The Ultimate Objectification Or Not?

Featured on the cover of People Today, September 22, 1954, was “Marjorie Hellen… TV’s Golden Girl.”

Her story begins on page 55, filed under “People In TV,” Hellen’s story is titled She’s ‘Compatible’ Marjorie Hellen Is Strawberry Blond Trade-Mark on Color TV.

If that’s not intriguing enough, check out the caption under the photo: “Marjorie And Her Rival Black-And-White Test Pattern (rear)”.

From the article:

Millions of NBC-TV viewers are getting slightly frustrated whenever the smiling image of lovely Marjorie Hellen flashes on their black-and-white screens with her quiet announcement: “The following program…will be broadcast in color …” The reason: Around 10,000 TV sets in the U.S., costing between $495 and $1,100, are showing the same girl as she appears on PEOPLE TODAY’S cover–gray-eyed, strawberry blond.

Marjorie, who doubles as a live test pattern for sensitive color cameras, is the “identification girl” for NBC Color TV, which has scheduled 39 90-minute “spectaculars” for its compatible system (the shows can also be received in black-and-white) during 1954-1955.

The article credits “an attack of anemia” for Hellen getting the gig — not specifically for her coloring (though only her doctor knows for sure), but for her availability:

It kept her from going to school, made her available when Claude Traverse, manager of NBC’s color unit, selected her from photos as having the “ideal flesh tone” for lining up color cameras.

Hellen may be more familiar to you as Leslie Parrish; she changed her name in 1959.