Cheap Thrills Thursday: Skeeter Davis Was A Lover (Not A Fighter)

Skeeter Davis fan club pinback, circa 1970s, printed with her photo and one of her song titles, I’m A Lover (Not A Fighter).

Here are the song lyrics:

I only married you for love dear I didn’t go for all of your dough
Now and then you say you love me but honey baby it didn’t show
I never seemed to please you lately cause all you ever do is complain
I’m sick of this fussin’ and fightin’ so baby let your loving woman explain.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

— Instrumental —

A woman is soft and tender and willing to love her man
So why don’t you take advantage of the woman that you know I am
I don’t want to fuss and fight dear for the rest of my natural life
Stop treatin’ me like your enemy start treatin’ me like a wife.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay.

I’m a lover not a fighter
I kinda like it that way
If you want a fightin’ partner
Go live with Cassius Clay…

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Of Man’s Instrument & The Horror Of Eating Unsalted Cashews

In the June 26, 1950 issue of Newsweek, a report on Smithsonian ethnologist Dr. Kalervo Oberg’s trip to Matto Grosso. Among the horrible delights, calling members of the native Nhambicuara “the most miserable and impolite even to rudeness.”

They eat snakes, bugs, rats, and cashew nuts (unsalted). Their animosity toward the white man is understandable, since the Nhambicuara are about to die out from such civilized sickness as tuberculosis and syphilis.

In order to get y’all to read the article, Newsweek captioned the following photo: The jakui: A man’s instrument.


Does that still compel you to read the article? (Click to see a larger scan, if needed.)


Cheap Thrills Thursday: Discarded Stockings Go To War & End Up At The Hingham Shipyard

stockings-go-to-warAwhile ago, folks working on The Launch at the historic Hingham Shipyard, contacted me about one of my pieces of ephemera, a page from Modern Woman Magazine (Volume 12, Number 2, 1943) with the article “How Your Discarded Stockings Go To War.”

They wondered about using the image in the series of panels which would be placed along pedestrian walkways, creating a walking tour educating people about and commemorating the history of the shipyard’s role in World War II. In case you don’t know, the Hingham Shipyard was one of the largest shipbuilding centers in the entire country, where over 2500 women worked, putting out over six ships each month.

Long story short, I’ve finally got photos of my contribution to the Hingham Shipyard Historical Exhibit, included on the ‘Home Front Sacrifices’ panel (the one with the children & Victory Garden veggies).




Cheap Thrills Thursday: 1907 Englishwoman’s Snark On Fashionistas

The piece, a little beauty titled “Woman’s Dress and Women’s Homes,” in which an Englishwoman ever-so-politely snarks about the mode of American dress, was written by Anna A. Rogers (originally in the Atlantic and then published in the November 4, 1907 edition of The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican). In the article, Ms. Rogers quotes an unidentified Englishwoman who had apparently spoken to an unidentified “writer in one of our western cities especially given over to the national passion for dress.”

The authenticity, sincerity, and/or seriousness of this piece is up to you to decide; as is Ms. Roger’s intent. But comments like “a slovenly ‘slavey’ attends the door,” sure are telling enough on their own.


This little bit of joy was discovered via the many hours I spend nerdily reading antique newspapers on microfilm at the Fargo public library (because, as they say, “Library, library, more than a book!”), and so my cost was free — unless you count my taxes, which I am most happy to see go to the preservation and presentation of such things.

Cheap Thrills Thursday, Retro Halloween Edition: Barnabas Collins Game

A character in the Gothic soap opera television series, Dark Shadows (1966 – 1971), Barnabas Collins was a long-suffering vampire — tormented both by his status as a blood drinker and his doomed romance with the beautiful Josette. But none of this really matters when it comes to playing the Milton Bradley Barnabas Collin’s game; it’s just a “scary” game for the kiddies.


I only paid $1.50 for the game (# 4003, copyright 1969, Dan Curtis Productions, Inc.) at a thrift store; the original store price tag was $3.99. (Ha! Take that, inflation!)

Our game is complete, save for the toy fangs which, while originally included in the game box, were “not part of the game” and ” to be used by the owner of the game when playing the role of Barnabas” (printed inside the box’s lid — twice). Of course, kids being kids, there’s also the proviso that “they should be washed before a player uses them.”

The game is rather like hangman — at least visually. Only instead of trying to spell words, you spin the spinner and try to build your glow-in-the-dark skeleton by “hanging” him, piece by piece, on the cardboard scaffolding.


Each of the 2-4 players takes a turn spinning, hoping for the chance to collect bones/parts from the coffin. In order to begin building your skeleton, you’ll need either the skull or the body piece; so the first few spins can be anti-climactic. When the spinner lands on the ring, it’s like a wild card; the player chooses any bone, skull or body piece from the coffin.

winning-move-dark-shadows-gameBut beware, you could land on the wooden spike space! When you do, you’ll need to take a wooden spike from the coffin; collect three of them and you’ll need to remove a bone from your skeleton (and then you may return the three spikes as well). There is an “advanced game” option, in which the player with the three spikes may challenge a player of his/her choosing to a “Vampire Duel.” (They take turns spinning to see who will spin the ring space first. If it’s the challenger, the s/he doesn’t lose a bone; the challenged player does. If the challenged player wins, the challenger must remove two bones from their skeleton.)

As game play is based upon the spinner, there’s very little strategy involved (other than having luckily guessed to use your wild ring spin to get an upper arm when your next turn gives you the lower arm, etc., it’s all chance), making it rather simplistic (even for the ages 6 to 14 stated on the box). But it’s certainly a cheap thrill — on any day of the week.

And it’s cool for Halloween — though it’s not anywhere as scary as indicated in the original television commercial (I doubt it was seen as scary then either).  But before you watch it, here’s an FYI: if you’re a Dark Shadows, Gothic fan, or just a Johnny Deep nut (perhaps all three?), Depp’s apparently signed to play Barnabas Collins in Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Dark Shadows.

Now for the word from our retro sponsor:

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Vintage Wooden Napkin Holder

This vintage hand painted wooden napkin holder was a $1 find at the thrift store (I think; the sticker tags can be deceptive). I was drawn to her sweet simple face and those blonde curls beneath her red cap.


Not needing another napkin holder, I’ve turned her into a memo holder. Stuffing my writing and blogging ideas into her head, I hope, keeps my own head more organized.


Cheap Thrills Thursday: Of Storks In My Collection & Contraception

shoo-vintage-stork-postcardA few months ago, a gentleman contacted me about one of the items in my “vintage stork” collection. The antique postcard, postmarked 1908, depicts a couple shoo-ing away a baby-delivering stork; the gentleman was James M. Edmonson, Ph.D., Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum at the Case Western Reserve University; and he was asking if I could get him a larger high resolution scan of the postcard for inclusion in a new gallery the museum was working on.

Could I? Would I? Um, this is exactly the sort of stuff that floats my boat! Not only is my object connecting me with others, with history, but the gallery is for Virtue, Vice, and Contraband: A History of Contraception in America — a new exhibit at the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum that examines 200 years of the history of contraception in the United States.

So, naturally I did whatever I could to get the chief curator the graphic. And here it is, on the left-hand side of the display designed by guest curator Jimmy Wilkinson Meyer from The College of Wooster:


The exhibit (launched September 17, with Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, author of Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in the 19th Century America, at the Zverina Lecture), depicts the social and cultural climate that influenced birth control decisions in this country, says James Edmonson, chief curator at the Dittrick:

The exhibit reveals a longstanding ignorance of essential facts of human conception. For example, that a woman’s ovulation time was not discovered until the 1930s by two doctors, Kyusaku Ogino in Japan and Hermann Knaus in Austria. Before and after this finding, desperate women went to great length to prevent pregnancies. The exhibit explores less well known (and dangerous) methods such as douching with Lysol or eating poisonous herbs like pennyroyal, as well as conventional means such as the IUD or the Pill.

“A remarkable body of literature was available to assist newly married couples and others,” says Edmonson. “These books were not displayed publicly, on the coffee table, but hidden in a private place.”

He cites examples such as Charles Knowlton’s Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People (1832) and the popular 18th century book on anatomy, reproduction, and childbirth, Aristotle’s Masterpiece.

In addition to literature, the exhibit draws upon and incorporates the vast collection of contraception devices donated to the university in 2005 by Percy Skuy. The Canadian collector had amassed the world’s largest collections of such devices over the course of four decades.

The exhibit starts in the early 1800s, before Anthony Comstock, lobbied Congress to pass the Comstock Act of 1873, responding to what he viewed as a moral decline after the Civil War.

“It was a watershed year. The Comstock Act made it illegal to sell contraceptives or literature about contraception through the mail,” says Edmonson.

While Congress legally barred contraception, a black market for such products and literature flourished. Comstock went undercover to search out and turn in violators of his law in his crusade to stamp out what he defined as smut and obscenity.

In the early 20th century, women’s advocate Margaret Sanger opened a birth control clinic and research institute, flaunting the Comstock Law. Eventually her efforts evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The exhibition highlights some ancient methods of birth control and presents information about the influence of religion on contraception.

“We wanted to have a multi-faceted look at the topic of contraception,” Edmonson says.

Future plans are to expand this exhibit with a companion book, a kiosk where additional information can be accessed on the birth control collection, and an extensive online site available worldwide.

I love that my old postcard is hanging out with Margaret Sanger — well, it does that here at home, but now it’s part of the larger public story. And that’s cool.

Now I must get myself to Cleveland, Ohio to see it!

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Can He-Man Still Thrill The Uninitiated?

For the past several years, hubby has tried to sell his Castle of Greyskull at our rummage sales — and every time I have whined.


It’s not that I’m so very protective of his childhood memories that I would second-guess what he ought to part with (and, frankly, he’s sold plenty of his original He-Man collectibles); but I wanted that castle.

It’s not that I have any childhood memories connected to He-Man or that castle either. In the 80’s I was out wearing skanky Madonna fashions — and, yes, that was far more appropriate for a young woman in her 20’s than playing with Mattel’s He-Man toys &/or watching He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; I won’t apologize for it.

But something about that plastic castle intrigued me…

Maybe it’s because I was a huge Thundarr The Barbarian fan — and we never got no stinkin’ toys. Or maybe it’s because He-Man’s castle was so much cooler than any playsets Babs had. (Other than that 1970’s Barbie Country Camper — which my BFF Heidi and I used with her cat’s kittens, filling the sink with kitten food, and driving tiny sleeping kittens up and down the block — Barbie’s toys sucked.)

Anyway, every year that hubby dragged the 1980’s Castle of Greyskull up from the basement I whined that I wanted it; but hubby wanted the money more.

I think it was his way of punishing me for my perpetual yanking his chain by calling action figures “dolls.” And once, when he asked me what I’d do with the castle, I responded that I’d put tea light candles in it and set it in the window for Halloween; that idea received a sneer.

So every year that the castle went up for sale & didn’t sell (even at $10?!), hubby returned it to the basement for the next sale. That is until this year, when my 9 year old son saw it — really saw it.


The boy had walked right past it sitting there on the lawn, and even shrugged it off when I pointed it out at previous sales. But this year, when Hunter spotted the castle, his eyes grew into the proverbial saucers, and he whispered that boy-ish “whoa” of being deeply impressed. His little boy wonder plucked my husband’s heartstrings in a way my wonder had not, and the boy ended up with the toy. Even more than that, hubby went prowling through other boxes (those set out at the rummage and others in the basement) for more of the He-Man (and other 80’s toy) stuff.


I don’t know who was more excited — Hunter or me. (And hubby certainly enjoyed giving Hunter, who’d never seen the He-Man cartoons, the scoop on just who was who in He-Man’s world.)

The next day, when hubby went to work, Hunter and I played with the Castle of Greyskull and the He-Man toys.

At first, my son was thrilled with the idea that I would play “boy stuff” with him. (Let’s be honest, moms, there’s a limit to how long we can push cars around — let alone make car noises that satisfy our sons; so boys too-quickly learn to play without us; and we are a bit relieved.) But…

I sat with Hunter, surrounded by He-Man folk and assorted paraphernalia. I asked which guys I could play with — and was given two of the bad guys. There was a three second pause… An awkward pause. I suddenly realized I was going to have to do battle — I, the non-violent-preaching-mom, was going to have to make my bad dudes fight his good guys. Could I do it? I don’t know for certain, but I’m pretty sure my son was thinking the same thing… And I knew I had better start playing before both of us freaked-out from the pressure.

So I started with what I thought was a logical place: I had my two guys talk to each other.

Hunter just stared at me, his He-Man action figures limp in his hands.

Nervous, I just kept going on — thinking, like I always do, that I can talk my way out of anything. Realizing I needed to put some action into my action figures, I began to make my bad guys argue about who’s idea for getting into He-Man’s lair was better — and then fight. I looked up and saw Hunter just staring at my hands making my guys wrestle and call each other stupid.

Like a television narrator I said, “Now, while they’re busy fighting, it might be a good time to capture them.” Hunter jumped in with his guy to snag one of my guys (while my second guy got away). Hunter’s capture of my guy was my personal rescue; it was no longer some lame girlie theatre performance of one. I don’t know what it really became, this playing He-Man with mom thing — at least not in Hunter’s eyes… He hasn’t invited me to play again.


But I have hope.

Maybe we’ll even bond over Masters of the Universe DVDs and a new He-Man movie, perhaps?

Anyway, the Castle of Greyskull is indeed way cooler than any Barbie house. Instead of blow-up and other plastic furniture, sticker home decor (which has to go in the place the instruction sheet says, or else it won’t be perfect!), and vinyl window scenes, He-Man’s castle has real windows, look-outs, and functional pieces, which, while admittedly for violent purposes, make the castle fun to play with.


In fact, just the sticker-carpet-covered trapdoor would have improved any of Bab’s residences; triple the fun factor if Barbie’s Dream House had had a dungeon. (I’m not saying what I would have done to Ken there… I’m just saying it would have been more fun.)

And I guess that’s the point about these old He-Man toys — they just looked inherently cool. I had no knowledge of He-Man, nether had my son; we didn’t even have the original toy packaging to sell us on it or the mythology. But we both just knew He-Man’s world was cool and fun to play with. Even if we need more practice at figuring out how to play it together.



For the first time in my life I wished I’d have been a kid in the 80’s… Well, at least they could have given us Thundarr action figures and playsets. Then I might have been better prepared to play with my son.

Then again, I think Thundarr would kick He-Man’s ass.


Cheap Thrills Thursday: Shabby Gnome Chic

OK, so we didn’t make a lot of money at our rummage sale this year — but we did empty our house of a lot of clutter. However, I did keep a few things that my mother had sent over for the sale. (Since she said we could keep the profits & dump whatever didn’t sell, I figured she wouldn’t mind.) One of the items I opted to keep is this odd, badly chipped, vintage painted wooden man.


I had dubbed him “the little German gnomish guy.” I can’t say why… due to his red-dotted mushroom cap hat, basket full of mushrooms and handful of pine cones he could be Swiss or Austrian or some other European dude.

Anyway, we had set him out for sale for a whopping 50 cents — and still couldn’t sell him. Maybe because we didn’t know what he was. Other than “odd,” I mean.

People picked him up. A lot.

In case you aren’t familiar with having yard sales, or selling at flea markets, etc., there’s always a “little German gnomish guy” at every sale. One object that, for whatever reason, is continually picked up, asked about, but doesn’t sell. At least not for a very long time. It’s not because it’s too highly priced (this guy was only 50 cents), but because he’s unusual enough to beckon and yet too unusual for a person to justify “needing” it, especially if no one knows exactly what it is. This item is dubbed the “it” or conversation piece of the sale. (Former public sale mystery “it” items have included an antique metal buckled leather loop for some sort of horse-pulling harness-esque thing and a vintage hand-held lemon press.)

When it became obvious the little German gnomish guy was the “it” piece for this sale, we let him lure people over with his paint-chipped vintage charm and start the conversation ourselves with a, “We don’t know what he is, besides ‘vintage’ and ‘shabby gnome chic’… Do you know what he is?”


Eventually, as usual with these “it” items, a person came along who knew what the shabby chic wooden guy was: an incense burner. You set his open bottom over a burning cone of incense and the smoke wafts up & out through his little ‘O’ of a mouth, like he’s smoking.

Once this discovery was made, we slapped our heads like we could have had V-8s. Then I shuttled him the house to show the kids. “Oooooh, can we keep him?” Of course we were keeping him; we’d have to try him at least once, right?

Even if the stem of his pipe is stuck in his throat like some twisted moral interpretation of “smoking kills.”


Cheap Thrills Thursday: Throwing Out Body Issues

They say you can tell a lot about a culture by their garbage — “they” being anthropologists, social scientists, & historians (their amateur varieties too), folks who monitor consumerism, as well environmentalists & “green” eco types. And dumpster-diving garbage pickers like me & my family.

Yes, I dumpster dive and “rescue” things found curb-side — and I’m not embarrassed to admit that we teach our children how to appropriately do the same. Especially during our city’s annual cleanup week; that time of year when folks are assisted in their spring cleaning (and post-flood clean-up) efforts by being allowed to rid their homes & garages of things that normally cannot be left curb-side for the municipal garbage pick-up.

This year, during our city’s annual cleanup week, among the major appliances & numerous vintage toilets (presumably so plentiful this year due to flooded basements resulting in insurance checks to refurbish basement bathrooms), we scored big time (including, not shown there, boxes of books and antique farm items). But there were also number of things I just took photographs of because they were too telling about our society…

One was this old personal home sauna — one of those kitschy retro icons of weight-loss & female self-es-steam, er, self-esteem — modeled here by my daughter Destiny.


(Probably the grossest thing she touched that day; imagine the sweaty, possibly nude behinds, that sat in that seat! Hand sanitizer to the rescue!)


Another day & neighborhood away, we found this orange nightstand covered in food, fashion & weight-loss clippings.


Both girls both, 13 and 20, loved this & were planning a battle for which one would get it. *sigh*

Unwilling to allow either girl to absorb the sorrow of such a “motivational” piece of furniture, I forbade either of them to get it.

But, willing to concede the cool factor of reinventing a shabby piece of furniture, I told them to keep their eyes open (curbside or at thrift shops, rummage sales &/or flea markets) for a small piece of functional yet ugly furniture and I’d show them how to transform it with paint, magazine clippings & decoupage glue. They’ll just have to select some other theme.

Because there’s no way I’m adding more female body issues to the world; not with my kids, and not in memorabilia for future trash collectors & anthropologists.

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Lessons In Literacy With Strawberry Shortcake

Let’s see… When this Kid Stuff Records book (copyright 1980) & record (copyright 1981) set of Strawberry Shortcake’s Day in the Country came out, I would have been 16 or so, which naturally explains why I never owned any Strawberry Shortcake stuff back in her heyday. Why the stuff seems to gravitate towards me in some sort of kitschy retro-grade, is a complete other issue — like Smurfs, for which I have no sense of nostalgia either, I do not yet know why.


Anywho, I grabbed this SEE the pictures HEAR the story READ the book set for about a buck, as I recall, making it another cheap thrill.

But, like most things I touch, it provokes a few questions…

Why were the pages merely black & white pictures? Were you also supposed to COLOR the illustrations?


More profoundly, I wonder what’s become of the progression of these kids’ books… When my eldest was little, the book & record sets had morphed to book & tape cassette sets, then to those (incredibly annoying) books with the computer chips that made noises (whenever you saw the icons in the text, you pressed the corresponding button for an audio clip). And now, the closest things I’ve seen are the video games which mainly use “pens” to read the words or stories (or, sometimes, have buttons much like those electronic books).

If the concept was based on the philosophy that being read to encourages children to become readers (and these book & audio sets were to assist parents who, for whatever reason, had no time to read to their children), then I think that’s been lost along the way. Lost with the interactivity — broken down into amusing “fun” and sold as “learning” yet.

As Gabriel Zaid (and translater Natasha Wimmer) so eloquently & concisely described in So Many Books, reading is a very complicated learned process involving the interpretation & integration of units of complex meaning into a cohesive whole. This is why listening to stories is so powerful — it is more natural, more easily intellectually and even emotionally digested. But once hooked on stories, a person wants to have the independence to select & enjoy on their own; they develop the love of reading.

So why add further fragmentation to the process? Why break reading down into even more chunks, such as distracting gimmicks of auditory bells & whistles? Why add other activities to it, such as pushing buttons, touching screens, using wands — removing one’s focus not only from the story as a whole but the page itself?


Cheap Thrills Thursday: The Joys Of TCM, Bathing Beauty Edition

I’m not about to go all mathy on yer arse, but in a world of streaming video, on-demand downloadable rentals, home delivery rentals (even without fees!) TCM, part of basic cable, which is bundled with my cable internet connection, is one of the greatest cheap thrills I can get.

Films shown uninterrupted and commercial free, save for a few sponsored reminders to things you probably want anyway (like the TCM Now Playing Guide) — it’s the way TV ought to be. (And here is where I will insert my continual plea that TV return to its original format of corporate sponsored programs, with mentions at the top & bottom of the hour, as opposed to junky ads & product placements — which, in the case of the former, only distract & cause me to leave the room and, in the latter, go unnoticed by me anyway.)

Anyway, TCM is an incredible value.

robert-osborne-bobbleheadAlong with Robert Osborne and, now, Ben Mankiewicz‘s informative tidbits, you get to watch films you adore and see films you’ve never seen — including those that aren’t available anywhere else & those that you’ve avoided before because of crappy trailers & promotions that made you think they were crap. Now, thanks to TCM, you can watch them and either fall in love or be glad you didn’t waste money on a rental, download, or whathaveyou.

All of this brings me to the case in point: Last night’s viewing of Bathing Beauty.

As a kid, I’d never seen the Esther Williams films — but I saw the various parodies & heard the not-so-flattering commentary about the kitsch of synchronized swimming and pageantry of the old dated swimming movies. Ditto my kids, who aren’t interested in humoring me enough to let me rent one for movie night. But thanks to TCM, I got to watch Bathing Beauty last night.

The film is as sweet & simple as you’d expect a film from the 1940’s to be; romance and humor, with Red Skelton a complete joy as the young man willing to do anything — even be the only (tortured for demerits, forced to crossdress) male at an all girl’s school — to get his beloved back.

Unexpected were the lengthy scenes of musical performances from Harry James and his orchestra, Xavier Cugat, & others in traditional, glamorous nightclub settings; vicarious home front war living for those who couldn’t afford evenings out.

Now I loves me some Cugat, but the pee-my-pants-with-delight moment was a scene early on in the film, when the campus girls force (by flattery & girlie whining) one of the music instructors to play some forbidden music…

Here Ethel Smith plays the organ — note the lavish visual of her dainty feet, in pretty pumps, skimming along the peddles (Foot fetishists, beware! I’m not responsible for what this does to you!)

After that warm up, Smith consents to show the kiddies — ooops! I mean the girls — more of her chops on the electric organ, playing her theme song Tico Tico.

Ahh, a fantastic orgasmic ode to the organ — and fashion (love her ensemble!). But if that’s not incentive enough to watch Bathing Beauty &/or TCM, how about Skelton as a ballerina?

Seriously, all of this is so fantastic, I was nearly exhausted by the time we go to the results of all the cumulative efforts — the big swimming pageant. Which was as over-the-top as the parody legends proclaimed. Oh well, I have to leave you with something to look forward to.

(Really) Cheap Thrills Thursday

As I’ve said, I’ve long admired Laura’s Living Dolls series, but it wasn’t until this little vignette that I felt inspired to try a photo myself. (And it was perfect timing too, because the Cheap Thrills Thursday post I had in mind ended up being more of a collector’s post than I thought!)

Upon seeing Laura’s recent photo, my first impulse was to interrupt the kids (13 year old daughter and 9 year old son) in the middle of their chores (not that they minded) and excitedly yelp at them: “Stop what you are doing — and bring me a Bratz doll and a toy shark!”

To which they responded (only slightly puzzled, because they are used to my bouts of insanity), “I don’t have a toy shark…”

How can we not have a toy shark?!

But I re-group well. “OK, how about an alligator?”

Blank stares.

“Anything that lives in water… Has a big mouth?”

Some searching.

But all we’ve got is a Bratz doll — and a boy one at that. (He’s the only one that hasn’t made it into the rummage sale box; note to self: pillage that box before next weekend’s sale to see about sharks, other dolls, etc.)

But I am nothing if not flexible. So I scrap the idea of posing the girl Bratz doll, seated on the edge of a plastic dishpan, above a pool of razor-teeth-critter-infested water & reformulate a new one.

“Whatcha got with teeth, and a big open mouth…”


OK, so that still works with my fantasy — to play out my Bratz doll fears. No, not the slutty ones; the ones that involve the feet that pop off with the shoes. :shudder:

Anywho… Here we go; my first attempt at a Living Doll creation:


Cheap Thrills Thursday: Cheap Chick Lit

Books for sale, 25 cents a piece — 5 for a dollar?! Let me fill my arms, my husband’s arms, the kids’ arms… That is how I got The Dominant Blonde, by Alisa Kwitney, “The search for the perfect boyfriend and the perfect hair color.”

I don’t read a lot of fiction, and even less chick lit, so finding not only the time but the “place in mind” to do so was a bit challenging. But a summer sitting at a skateboard park trying not to flinch at everything your kids do, well, that helps you whittle down the reading stack. (That’s also a warning of the number & pace of forthcoming book reviews.) And sometimes your enabling husband needs to see you reading the cheap paperbacks you gobbled up. So I finally got to The Dominant Blonde.

dominant-blonde-coverLydia, our heroine in search of perfect companionship & hair color, has overcome more than a handful of bad boyfriends & finally seems to have a good, loyal guy: Abe. He “was the first man who had ever suggested that she go on a vacation with him and not broken up with her two days before the date on the nonrefundable tickets.”

Unfortunately, this is the one time Lydia ought to have wished for the breakup… Abe is the biggest loser yet.

A classic modern romance, with some typical plot lines, but it’s not completely predictable. Even the bad-guy-Abe has more than the usual one-dimensional character. Some of these characters should have books of their own. And Kwitney has written some good smutty sections too.

A decent “beach book” or a good way to pass the time sitting at skateboard park because the story moves along quickly, yet enjoyment is not thwarted by those frequent shouts of, “Hey, mom, look at me!”

Cheap Thrills Thursday: It’s Q*bert, Baby!

When I spotted this authentic retro Q*Bert “a board game based on the exciting arcade game” (Parker Brothers #0142, © 1983, Gottlieb & Co.) at a rummage sale, I was excited. The box felt so light, I had no idea if there even was a game & pieces inside — but I didn’t dare to even open the box there; I just wanted to buy it and get out of there before the $5 price went up.

No, I’d never played Parker Brothers Q*bert; I was a freshman in college when this hit the market in 1983, and boardgames, especially for ages 7-14, were so not cool. In fact, boardgames weren’t especially cool then. Arcade video games were where it was at and any college bar worth visiting had them.

My college roommate, Sue, and one of our dorm-mates, Nora, were especially obsessed with Q*bert. I myself never mastered it; artist Jeff Lee’s pyramid of cubes inspired by M. C. Escher made me dizzy and I too often jumped myself (or Q*bert) off the pyramid. But when I spotted the retro board game box, I was so flooded with memories…

I told myself that if I did indeed now possess a complete game, I would probably be better at it than the old video game. And if I didn’t, it was a cool retro nostalgic piece. How could I lose?

Surprise, surprise! When I opened the box, I found every last piece was there (save for a standard 6-sided die, of which my drawers are plentiful). So I made hubby come over and play.

The game is a two-player game, with each player playing two rounds: one as Q*bert and one as the “nasty” characters, Coily, Red Ball, Ugg, Wrong Way, Green Ball, and Slick. (Don’t worry, you’ll only play one at a time, determined by the roll of the dice.)

The player being Q*bert goes first. He or she drops the 8-sided die into the “Q*bert secret die-rolling tube” and then moves, like video Q*bert, up &/or down the pyramid on the yellow spaces, taking white pegs from every space Q*bert travels. The Q*bert player does not have to move the entire number rolled (more on that in a minute).

Then player two, as the “nasty” characters, goes. He or she rolls the character die and the 6-sided die together, revealing just which “nasty” character will move how many spaces — the chart on the back of the gam’s instruction booklet tells you A) where each character starts, B) the direction of their movement, and C) how or if Q*bert can be captured by said “nasty” character.

If a “nasty” character captures Q*bert, Q*bert may be saved if the player moving/being Q*bert did not move the total number on the dropped 8-sided die — those unused moves on the pyramid may be “escape moves.” If Q*bert cannot be saved by an escape move (just moving away or by using a Flying Disc), then that round is over and the total number of pegs collected are that player’s score for the game.

The players reset the board & switch roles (and drops and rolls of the dice) and play again. Whoever collects the most pegs as Q*bert wins.

Considering the game is for ages 7 through 14, the instructions are rather complicated… (This makes me wonder what lays beneath the round blue “for Only 2 Players, Ages 7-14” stickers — do they cover up other recommended ages?)

Yeah, if you remember Q*bert at all, each character’s movement sounds familiar… But it was a hell of a lot easier when the 1’s and 0’s of the program did it. Even if the pyramid on the screen made you dizzy & end your turn/game early while your friends played for hours.

Overall, the game is fun for the sake of nostalgia; but not so much fun to play. And, as a board game lover (even of kiddie games), it pains me to say it.

Cheap Thrills Thursday: The Bear Facts

I got this vintage mechanical wind-up bear toy at a rummage sale at an old folks home senior living center; I paid a whopping 10 cents for it.


When I grabbed it with glee, hubby thought it was A) in bad shape & B) a modern reproduction. (Like for a dime it matters?) But he was wrong on both counts; A) the fur on his right side is not torn, just the glue which held it in place has gone kaput, and B) the old plastic muzzle & paper dealio beneath the wind-up turn thingy marked “Made In Japan” signify it’s a vintage toy.



And yes, it works! Wind him up and he walks!  What a find for a dime!


PS The doll you can see in the background of this last photo is posted here.

PPS My neighbors are beginning to look at me oddly for taking objects from inside my home outside to photograph them on the porch. But you understand that the sunlight makes for better photos, right?

Cheap Thrills Thursday, Maybe.

kingsley-amis-i-like-it-hereI Like It Here, by Kingsley Amis, is the story of Garnet Bowen, a man forced to travel with his wife who wants a family holiday — with the additional incentive of two paid writing gigs. This might sound like a dream, but not for Bowen. He’s a miserable & reluctant man who can’t seem to find fun or hope in anything. Not in his married life; not in his career. Not even in the wry writer kind of way either.

He’s not a good guy. He’s not an insecure & inept guy you can root for. He’s a poor father, an idiot husband, and there’s not a lot of info to support any claims that he’s a good writer (that’s Bowen, not Amis, the author of the book — unless this is autobiographical?) He’s not a bad guy you can love to hate. He’s not even just a guy — an every man. He’s a whiny boy whose voice I hear in my ear like a petulant teenager, “But maaaaa!”

And I don’t think that some sort of British thing I couldn’t understand.

Nor is he the typical midlife crisis guy (like John Gosselin – another inept unlikeable man), because Bowen also doesn’t want to change. Boo-hoo! So what’s that leave? A whiny “Poor me, I’m a put-out male” story which has me hoping his wife will divorce him, take the kids, and get on with her own life.

She doesn’t.

So why did I grab this retro paperback bore?

I Like It Here (Kingsley Amis © 1958, Ballantine Books, First Printing, August, 1971) promised, “A rollicking trip with a not-so-innocent abroad” and features an intimate embrace on both the front & back covers — but if I was looking for smut (and I’m admitting nothing) I would be disappointed.

What little sexy stuff there is, is just a few paragraphs more than the salacious tease of an international kiss not bound by the same language barriers as speech. — but it is as awkward as trying to communicate in a language you don’t know.

This is not the sort of sexual tension most of us look for in our reading — or anywhere.

OK, so it’s not the smut-fest the publishers made it out to be. That’s not unusual — for books marketed then or today. “Sex sells.” But I kinda wish I had my dollar back. And I’m not exactly looking forward to the stack of other Kingsley Amis books I also snapped up that day.

Cheap Thrills Thursday: Now That’s What You Can Do With Old Dawn Doll Heads!

In which I show you things I got so cheap, it’s embarrassing — for someone other than me. I love my bargains.


This vintage boudoir doll is made from huge (baby diaper sized) safety pins, beads, some wire, and a small vinyl doll head (which reminds me of Dawn Dolls).


No, I won’t take her apart to show you how she’s made — I lurve her. Plus, she was a quarter — and supplies will cost more than that. But if you want the all-expense-paid fun of making one, here are what appear to be the instructions. (Really crafty folk probably guessed all of this anyway.)