Brown-Baggin’ It With An Anthology Based On Found Ephemera

requiem-for-a-paper-bag-found-anthologyRequiem for a Paper Bag: Celebrities and Civilians Tell Stories of the Best Lost, Tossed, and Found Items from Around the World is a Found Anthology put together by Davy Rothbart, creator of Found Magazine. In this collection, Rothbart gave his famous hipster (I say hipster, because when a book begins with multiple references to both ramen noodles and found porn, what else can you say?) friends an assignment: Share a personal story about something fascinating that you yourself have found, or write a piece of fiction sparked by a particular find.

The resulting works are a feast for anyone who has found something and pondered the meaning or occasion of it — and yes, I mean anyone. Because you don’t have to be an ephemera collector to have found a found scrap of paper, a photograph stuck in a book, some trinket and have either wondered or even made up a story about it yourself. (And if you say you haven’t done it, I’m calling you a dirty rotten liar!)

Like any well-done anthology, each of the of 67 pieces submitted by the celebri-hipsters is, ramen noodles and porn aside, a unique little gem.

Seth Rogen’s Wet & Wild may not have been shocking to me (I’ve got my own experiences with found porn; and who would be surprised Rogen would have a connection to porn?) but, like Steve Almond’s No Panties Allowed, the narrative adds to our collective illumination into the discomforts on the way to personal discoveries about sexuality.

Byron Case’s Trash Night reads so much like a memory of my own that even though I’ve never been lucky enough to make trash picking more than an annual event, I found myself nodding and laughing conspiratorially.

requiem-for-a-paper-bag-pageSarah Vowell’s What Else I Know About U.S. History (a written response to a scrap of note paper found by Rona Miller of South Bend, Indiana) is so very Vowell in voice, that I can hear the emo as if she’s speaking the piece — and yes, that’s a fabulous thing.

And while Bich Minh Nguyen’s quote probably remains the most poetic, it’s Heidi Julavits’ Woodstove Girl which is the most haunting for me… It lingers… I wish I knew if it was real or a fiction piece.

Overall Requiem is a tasty dish, suitable for deouring in one leisurely buffet-style meal or for savoring in snatched snack-sized portions ala carte.

New Vintage Reviews Carnival, 6th Edition

Welcome to the sixth edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” — from the classics to the forgotten — that is likely new to someone…

This month’s edition is chock-full of films — so I hope you have your popcorn and Jujubes ready!

Films:

Rupert Alistair presents Black Narcissus: Technicolor Masterpiece posted at Classic Movies Digest.

Jaynie presents Lessons In Vertigo (Hitchcock’s Vertigo, That Is!) posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Raquelle presents Wild River (1960) @ the Harvard Film Archive and the Walking Ethnic Stereotype posted at Out Of The Past.

Surbhi Bhatia presents FILM REVIEW: RED PSALM (Még kér a nép, 1972) posted at The Viewspaper.

Rupert Alistair presents Fury (1936): Fritz Lang Comes to America posted at Classic Movies Digest.

Surbhi Bhatia presents Onibaba: 1964 directed by Kaneto Shindo posted at The Viewspaper.

Jaynie presents Ready To Get Manhandled? posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Travel:

Jeet presents Trip to Shivaganga posted at Discover Karnataka, saying, “Shivaganga is a nice adventurous destination near Bangalore city of the Indian state of Karnaraka. It has very old temples for history buffs and can be a training site for new trekkers.”

Games & Toys:

Yours Truly presents Cheap Thrills Thursday: Can He-Man Still Thrill The Uninitiated? here at Kitsch Slapped.

Yours Truly presents Are You Game To Try Tiltin’ Milton? posted at Collectors’ Quest.

Music:

Clark Bjorke presents Billie Holiday: My Man posted at Clark’s Picks.

Books:

Azrael Brown presents Lover Boy posted at Double-Breasted Dust-Jacket.

Jason Ward presents Ringworld by Larry Niven posted at The Word of Ward.

Yours Truly presents My Summer of ‘79 (A Review of Summer of ’42) posted here at Kitsch Slapped.

Surbhi Bhatia presents Simone de Beauvoir’s ‘The Second Sex’ posted at The Viewspaper.

Jason Ward presents Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev posted at The Word of Ward.

Rebecca presents 35th Bookworms Carnival: Really Old Classics posted at Rebecca Reads.

Honorable Mention:

The Dean presents The Big & Little of Collecting Western Publishing Co. posted at Collectors’ Quest.

If you’d like your review to be in the next edition, please submit it (or one you’ve read) to the next edition of the blog carnival using the carnival submission form.

My Summer of ’79

At 15, I was straddling the simple romantic fantasies of girlhood by day — and the hormonal induced sweaty-pink-bit-manipulations by night.

By day, I still played with Barbie & her friends. Still playing with Barbies was not something I advertised; I didn’t invite my girlfriends over to play with me. Like my nocturnal activities, this was the solo-play of self-discovery.

Playing with Barbie was like warm comfort food; I understood the rules and romance in playland, even if I didn’t understand the ways of the boys around me who had suddenly started reacting to my well-beyond-just-budding breasts.

But at night, I got hot and sweaty for Andy Gibb — via his posters on my walls.

angy-gibb-posterEspecially that poster of Andy with his dark blue satin baseball jacket worn open to expose what I could only then (and now) best describe as a tree of hair — with a trunk that went down past the navel to what I could only then bear to imagine as another system of hair at the root… Leading to that something that beefed-up his tight satin pants. And that magnificent mane of hair on his head, ahhh... it still works.

But before I begin to get lost in teenage masturbation fantasies, let’s just say that solo-play was far more productive in terms of my nighttime studies; learning the ins-and-outs of myself, physically & emotionally, was easier than figuring out interpersonal play by myself. But I did learn much about me.

At 15, I knew the score — or at least what scoring was — even if I wasn’t ready for it. At least not with a boy. If I was going to give in — and I wasn’t sure I was — it would be with a man who knew what he was doing.

Since I was an avid reader, Barbie wasn’t my only form of entertainment. (Nor was masturbation — quit trying to get me off the subject!) As an avid reader with a voracious appetite for books, my parents let me read freely from anything on the bookshelves at home and at the library. I hadn’t needed my parents’ permission for any reading material since what, I was 6, 7? I read what I wanted, and asked questions when I needed to.

For example, when I was about 10 I read a mystery book which presented a mystery it hadn’t intended. I forget the title and author, but the passage went like this: “and then he threw the flaming faggot into the fire.” Since the only definition for ‘faggot’ I knew was the same for ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ (hey folks, it was 1974, and folks were ‘out’ in theory even if I didn’t know anyone personally); I was at a loss. How could a man who was alone throw another man into a fire? And if there was someone around, why hadn’t he been mentioned earlier? Shouldn’t there have been some sort of exchange or motive? Was it just bad writing?

Book in hand, I approached my mother, showed her the passage and asked for help. How she kept a straight face (no pun intended) while explaining that ‘faggot’ was an English word for cigarette, I’ll never know… But I do know that not only had she helped me with my vocabulary but I helped her by letting her know what I knew. That’s what parenting is all about, yes?

So, flash forward five years to me at 15 again. I dragged myself away from Andy Gibb’s gaze, left Babs alone (that’s not a euphemism; I refer again to the classic fashion doll), and look for a book on my parents’ book shelf.

summer-of-42-coverA title caught my eye, The Summer of ’42 — something about it was familiar. I remembered vaguely the book making news… Something about sex & banning the book… Hmm, I thought, I hope it’s not as dumb as Catcher in the Rye. (That book did nothing for me, sorry.) But curiosity won, and I took Summer of ’42 to my room and read it.

The book was well-written, but it was from the point of view of a boy, which I found faintly disinteresting. A group of boys who want to get laid, gee, that was news to a 15 year old girl with big boobs. But I hung with it (to date, I’ve only quit reading 3 books — I’m a girl who believes in commitment), and I learned a few things.

Like Hermie’s date with Aggie. Hermie thinks he’s getting lucky by touching her breast — a deformed breast lacking any nipple — only to discover later that he’d been fondling and groping her shoulder. (Hey, Andy Gibb would never, ever, have made that mistake!) This only confirmed my belief that boys were stupid. They were in such a rush, they missed pretty basic stuff. Idiots.

But at the end of the book, the cumulative lessons learned left me once again surprised: I’d read another banned book that left me wondering why it would need to be banned. Frankly, I still am.

Sure, Hermie (an under-age boy) has sex with an older (adult) woman; but it’s depressing. It’s not erotic. Nor is it abusive or crude. In fact, it scared me about my fantasies about Mr. Gibb. I mean Hermie was in love, head over heels in love — ga-ga — and after what he thinks is such a beautiful moment, this woman cries and leaves him. Sure, she was vulnerable with her husband’s death and all, but clearly, she didn’t want some kid. Ouch. And hey, Hermie’s got feelings! Who knew boys had feelings?

This was not some sex-filled-romp of adolescence. This was not some titillating erotic entertainment piece. This was heartbreaking. Even at 15, a never-been-kissed-by-a-boy girl, I recognized the agony of misplaced virginity. I knew that a first time, a first love, a first f***, was sacred. This wasn’t some fodder for a solo-f***-fest, some sensationalized erotic entertainment — far from it. It was a warning. Not only were young boys not practiced enough to find a boob, but they were immature enough to not know they should protect their hearts. While I felt that I would fare better in the groping department, I knew I was likely as lame in matters of the heart.

Not long after, Barbie was put away and didn’t see sunlight until we had a garage sale. I had mastered what I needed to know: romance was a fickle bitch, boys could indeed be hurt too, and romance could be as plastic — as one-sided — as a fashion doll.

I still masturbated to images of Andy, but I no longer romanticized meeting him after a concert and that he’d fall in love with me. It was just sex — just sex in my mind. And it was safer for me at that time to leave it at that. Too bad Hermie hadn’t been that self aware, hadn’t protected himself… And no wonder the older woman who should have known better, but was so affected by her own broken heart she couldn’t think straight, left town asap.

I grew up quite a bit reading Summer of ’42, and I likely saved myself some pain. I’m not saying I mad no mistakes; my life is a character-building exercise. But I made less mistakes, less painful ones. I have Herman Raucher to thank for that. And my parents — for they let me read.

Just last week I asked my mom if she knew that I had read Summer of ’42; yes, she had. I asked her if she was, well, creeped out by it. Her reply? “No. You always came to us if you had questions. …It was a sad story, wasn’t it?”

Yeah mom, it was sad. Sadder still to know that some kids weren’t allowed to read it. Thank you, mom and dad, for being good parents.

banned books Epilogue: Some kids and adults are still not allowed to read or view Summer of ’42 because it has been banned from their libraries. Or they’ve been told to avoid such ‘horrible’ works. I can’t speak for the film, but if you get a chance, read Summer of ’42. It might be too late to save yourself from past mistakes, but it’s never too late to learn something.

Read it this week, Banned Books Week, buy Banned Books Week merch, blog about it and read what others have to say — and celebrate your freedom to read.

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.

original-80s-castle-of-greyskull

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.

he-man-castle-of-greyskull-and-80s-action-figures

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.

playing-with-retro-80s-toys

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.

hunter-and-castle-of-greyskull-and-he-man-toys

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.

grr-attack-hunter-and-80s-boys-toys

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.

looking-through-retro-he-man-castle

hunter-peeping-through-he-man-castle-door

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.

greyskull-castle

Weekly Geeks: The Experience Of Reading & Reviewing Books

weekly-geeks-book-pileThis week’s Weekly Geeks challenge is a response to author Shannon Hale’s post about evaluating and reviewing books; we were to respond to the questions Hale asked in one of three ways — but I’m just going to go ala cart.

Since Hale’s post was as much for readers as reviewers, I feel I should start with a bit of my basic book philosophy, that reading is an experience. As such, the book is as much a prisoner of the reader’s context — your context — as it is the author’s, and the time and place in which the work was written, edited, published, etc.

Even if a book is not, as Zaid says, a conversation — or if you only view a book as a one-sided conversation — the reading of it is the process by which the book becomes alive, useful, “on.” (An unread book is just an object, art in a closet, a sweater you were given at Christmas that you don’t like enough to wear, or have no place to wear — at least not yet. Perhaps you intend to read it, but until you do, there’s no real experience with it — other than the experience you had obtaining it.)

camper-girls-1910sReading, like any other experience, does not exist in a vacuum; you take stuff with you going in. Some of it is practical, but much of it is subjective & personal. Like a hiker heading out on the trail, you take along your knowledge, educated opinions, dreams, expectations, likes & dislikes — and your previous experiences. Are you familiar with the territory? If so, is it too familiar — boring and formulaic? If it’s new territory, is it full of exciting discoveries? Or is it overwhelming, not for the novice? Perhaps you were poorly lead by the guide? Or maybe you were the problem, ill-prepared, lazy, or otherwise not up to the challenge. If the failings were yours, should you try again — would you?

In any case, whatever you discovered during your experience, including knowledge about yourself, those are the things you discuss with others upon your return.

Are you reacting to any fears or insecurities?
What was it about the story that resonated?
Would you have loved this book as much five or ten years ago?
Will you continue loving it in the future?
Where are you in your life that this is the story you wanted and needed?

Answering these questions is a somewhat natural process; you are automatically sorting & sifting through these things when you read a book and think to yourself how your sister simply must read this book, or how your girlfriend would hate the heroine, or how your father would pick the science apart. You might not articulate these things as well as a reviewer does (or ought to do), but you are making the connections.

vintage-campersDepending upon who you are talking with, your tale may vary. When talking with those who have never been, you might describe the trail (plot) in greater detail. With those who have been, you can share those insider jokes & stories (spoilers and “you had to be there” moments). With those who are either planning on going or those who you sincerely believe must go, you tailor your tale to arouse their interest without ruining their own discoveries (you can share those “had to be there” moments after they’ve been there). Conversely, if you hated the trip, or had places where you struggled, you share those accordingly as warning. And for those with no interest whatsoever in the subject, you will simply comment what a great (or poor) trip you had — and should they politely ask questions, you will steer your comments towards things your companion can relate to.

Reviewing isn’t that much different — but it does add another layer, another experience.

A book selected (or assigned) for review will have those additional contextual constructs affecting the experience. You know you will be having conversation, regardless of your impressions of the book — and let’s face it, not every book you read is necessarily one you care enough to talk about. Why? Because maybe it failed to show you any magnificent views. Maybe it didn’t ignite a memory, provoke an idea, force a feeling, or jog an interest. Maybe it didn’t even offend you enough to warrant warning others. It was, overall, a rather unremarkable experience — but one you must record nevertheless.

(In the past decade of reviewing online, I’ve had my share of those! Quickly, I learned not to accept books or items I would otherwise have no interest in; if I wouldn’t buy it or at least want to buy it, I won’t take it for free — the price paid for having to write a review full of “I don’t usually read” and disclaimers regarding my own lack of knowledge, experience or interest is even less fun than reading a book for which I have little knowledge, experience, or interest.)

As I myself never use rating systems for anything in life, I do not use them with continuing the book’s conversation. (When forced to use them at sites like Amazon, I’m continually chafing at the lack of options — Why no zero rating, no 3.5 stars? There’s never been a rating system that really works for me.) This is part of my personality, as subjective as anything else in the experience of reading and discussing books.

For me, the primary mandate of reviews is honesty: I’m very aware of my obligation as a reviewer. I may not know all of my audience (blog readers) as well as I do my circle of family & friends, so I face a different circumstance in conversing. Using the hiker analogy again, I must write either a review of the hiking spot for a general audience of hiking enthusiasts (taking into account the varying levels of experience, but focused on the trail), or I must write, as I do here at Kitsch Slapped, for an audience that is more interested in what I opine — keeping in mind that what I have to say about my discoveries and experiences is at least equal to what I am writing about.

In either case, I must be fair to disclose not only what I liked &/or didn’t like, but why — and what things are purely subjective to me & my experience including my personal tastes, my failings — my penchants and peccadillos.

camp-merry-meeting-1920sAnd I, like the authors themselves, must accept that even though we are all part of the same group of bookish explorers taking in the same views, we will have different experiences, different tastes, and different reviews.

Images via FuzzyLizzie’s vintage hiking & camping gallery.

New Vintage Reviews #5

new-vintage-reviews-carnival_bigReuse, recycle — rejoice!

Welcome to the fifth edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” that is likely new to someone… And (most of the time) it still has great entertainment value!

Please submit your blog articles to the next edition of the blog carnival using the carnival submission form.

Games:

At Collectors’ Quest, Collin David posted Batman Vs. Video Games: Part Two.

I review Q*Bert, the board game, here at Kitsch Slapped.

Film:

Cliff Aliperti reviews Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps over at NY Classic Movies Examiner.

Aero Vintage reviews the documentary Black Jack’s Last Mission.

Here at Kitsch Slapped, I wrote about Bathing Beauty (and the joys of TCM).

Jaynie, of Here’s Looking Like You, Kid, says if you love shoes, you’ll love in The Lady Eve.

Travel:

At Kota Medan Guide, there’s information about & photos of Tjong A Fie Mansion.

Books:

Sarah Sammis reviews Over Sea, Under Stone from The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper over at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

Aero Vintage reviews Fly A Big Tin Bird.

Honorable Mention:

If you love vintage games, check out Slashdot’s review of Vintage Games: An Inside Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time.

I give some tips on being thrifty and looking for antique, vintage & used irons at your local thrift shop.

Just Who Destroys Books & Libraries?

a-universal-history-of-the-destruction-of-books-from-ancient-sumer-to-modern-day-iraqAfter reading So Many Books: Reading & Publishing in an Age of Abundance, I was delighted to serendipitously discover a copy of A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern-day Iraq, by Fernando Baez (translated by Alfred MacAdam), staring me in the face from the “new arrivals” display at the public library.

I’ve always wondered just who would destroy books and libraries — and why. Here was my chance.

The book’s Introduction sums it up best:

It’s common error to attribute the destruction of books to ignorant men unaware of their hatred. After twelve years of study, I’ve concluded that the more cultured a nation or a person is, the more willing each is to eliminate books under the pressure of apocalyptic myths. In general, biblioclasts are well-educated people, cultured, sensitive, perfectionists, painstaking, with unusual intellectual gifts, depressive tendencies, incapable of tolerating criticism, egoists, mythomaniacs, members of the middle or upper classes, with minor traumas in their childhood or youth, with a tendency to belong to institutions that represent constituted power, charismatic, with religious and social hypersensitivity. To all that we would add a tendency to fantasy. In sum, we have to forget the stereotype of the savage book destroyer. Ignorant people are the most innocent.

You could take that at face value — but I preferred to continue reading how Baez came to that conclusion.

In the Note for the English Translation, Baez suggests the following:

I suggest not reading it beginning-to-end because, in its way, this book is an anthology of possible books. The reader, with no remorse, can start reading anywhere. So, dear reader, you are invited to embark on a circular, but, I hope, intellectually stimulating adventure.

Intrigued, I tried to randomly jump around — which is as unlikely as it sounds. Not only an oxymoron & unorthodox, but honestly, after six out-of-order chapters, I found myself desiring the book’s beginning to end layout which (mainly) mirrors a linear progression of time. Not only was this contextually refreshing, but, as a student of US public schools, I enjoy reinforcing what little knowledge of a time line of history I currently possess — & expanding new nuggets of information into such a stately progression was helpful too.

Along with the usual suspects in the destruction of books (natural enemies, such as fire, water, bugs, sunlight, etc.), there’s plenty of discussion, exploration, & historical documentation of those who applied the destruction on purpose. Book burning and book eating may result in the same thing as books on a sunken ship, but these actions usually had very different intents, so Baez covers the many ways to destroy books — accidental & by design. Censorship, on individual & public scales, may seem simple, but Baez exposes the stories behind the persons, passions, politics, prosecutions, and procedures.

Unexpected delights (in terms of chapters or topics — because the whole book is full of both the unexpected, the delightful, and the delightfully unexpected — even the losses are bittersweet for at least I’d heard of them now) included the chapter, Books Destroyed in Fiction.

This book not only affirmed my love of books & libraries, but reminded me how little I know… Including ignorance to relatively current events.

Like while I was very aware of the looting of museums in Iraq (especially after attending MPMA conferences), I never knew about the destruction, looting & losses libraries in Iraq suffered.

And how did I not know there was a fire at the Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 — in my lifetime? Not just any fire, but a deliberately set fire; a fire that must have been fueled with irony for it was both “the single worst library fire to take place in a nation where the most modern mechanisms for the protection of libraries exist,” and a fire started on April 28, 1986, just six days after the international Day of the Book.

Now that A Universal History of the Destruction of Books: From Ancient Sumer to Modern-day Iraq has made me aware of just how ignorant I am, I’ve set Google Alerts for library news.

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.

So Many Books, So Little Time

so-many-books-cover“So many books, so little time,” is the common lament of book readers and compulsive book buyers like myself who snap up paperbacks like this discarded library copy for 50 cents. That saying could have been the title of Gabriel Zaid’s book — but then, Zaid’s book covers more than just book readers, so he made the recognizable allusion & added a bit more to the title.

So Many Books: Reading and Publishing in an Age of Abundance by Gabriel Zaid (translated by Natasha Wimmer), covers the entire family of bookish folk: readers, buyers, collectors, writers, publishers, marketers, & retailers. The distinction of each may not seem like much to you; but having tried my hat at all of the above, I, and Zaid, can tell you there are some large differences (and when the book marketer & retailers, especially, are ignorant, they are very unsuccessful).

Zaid manages to pile on an enormous amount of facts (book publishing has been enriched by the very innovations that seem to threaten it), observations (many authors don’t write for their readers, but to pad their resumes) and philosophies (book are conversations; readers participate in the conversations and, in some cases, arrange the conversations) into a slim, 144 page, book.

But what’s truly amazing is that Wimmer’s translation manages to retain (or perhaps create? I’ve no way of assessing the original Spanish) a concise elegance that is fascinating & impressive.

Especially evident (as well as powerfully provocative) in chapter six, when the author lays out, step by step, how “learning to read is the integration of units of ever-more-complex meaning.” Ab-so-feakin’-lute-ly mind blowing to consider — while you are literally doing it!

Just how my copy of this book was deemed an unnecessary conversation by a library (the Lake Agassiz Regional Library, Moorhead, MN — not my Fargo Public Library!) seems more than ironic, but sad. Because I haven’t hugged a book to my chest like this in a long long time.

A true feast for bibliophiles craving both the intellectual & the literary, I could quote nearly endlessly from So Many Books — or at least 144 mass market pages worth. *wink* But out of respect for the author & translator, I’ll limit myself. These are my favorite passages — the juiciest ones that really make me think about myself — which come from the second chapter, titled An Embarrassment of Books:

Those who aspire to the status of cultured individuals visit bookstores with trepidation, overwhelmed by the immensity of all they have not read. They buy something that they’ve been told is good, make an unsuccessful attempt to read it, and when they have accumulated half a dozen unread books, feel so bad that they are afraid to buy more.

In contrast, the truly cultured are capable of owning thousands of unread books without losing their composure of their desire for more.

“Every private library is a reading plan,” Spanish philosopher Jose Gaos once wrote. So accurate is this observation that in order for it also to be ironic the reader must acknowledge a kind of general unspoken assumption: a book not read is a project uncompleted. Having unread books on display is like writing checks when you have no money in the bank — a way of deceiving your guests.

If that doesn’t make you smile — or at least grudgingly nod to yourself — then you book collectors will hate this next one:

A terrible solution is to keep books until you’ve accumulated a library of thousands of volumes, all the while telling yourself that you know you don’t have the time to read them but that you’ll be able to leave them to your children. This is an excuse that grows weaker and weaker as science makes even greater strides. Almost all books are obsolete from the moment they’re written, if not before. And marketing strategies engineer the planned obsolescence even of classic authors (with new and better critical editions) to eliminate the ruinous transmission of tastes from one generation to the next, which once upon a time.

The creation of an obsolete library for one’s children may only be justified in the way that the preservation of ruins is justified: in the name of archaeology.

Perhaps it at this point (page 16) that those who checked out So Many Books angrily stopped reading, returned the book to the library, and continued Zaid’s conversation in the most unflattering of ways, bad-mouthing the book into that useless space-taking-with-no-check-outs status that forced the librarian to discard it.

But me? I saw myself in those passages — and I loved it. Sure, it’s like those extra pounds I’ve got; not so pretty too look at for some, but baby, that’s all me! Before I can decide what — if anything — I should do about it, I have to first be aware of it. So Zaid held up a mirror and now I get to think about it… Why do I do that? (I buy it cheap, so that it’s at my fingertips — and there’s that osmosis thing.) Is he right? (I most vehemently do not agree all books become obsolete — some conversations ought never die & the past should be included in those conversations.) And then I get to converse with others about it. Awesome!

In case those passages really hurt your feeling (or before you rush off and buy yourself a copy of So Many Books), I’ll leave you with the following passage from the end of chapter one, To the Unrepentant Reader, which may put you & I & Zaid & all readers each in a better light:

The uniqueness of each reader, reflected in the particular nature of his personal library (his intellectual genome), flourishes in diversity. And the conversation continues, between the excesses of graphomania and the excesses of commerce, between the sprawl of chaos and the concentration of the market.

The Fear Filled Prophecy For The Monday Move Meme

This week’s Monday Movie Meme topic is “fear.” I don’t particularly enjoy being scared; life is scary & fragile enough, thanks. Nor do I find any entertainment value in repeated bodily harm & numerous deaths — no many how many forms the gore takes. So I obviously do not watch many horror or slasher films. But I have managed to see some though — like I was there (with my mom) to see the original Halloween (1978) and I think I saw at least one more part in the classic horror series… Mom needn’t worry that I’d be up late with nightmares because, gross as the films were, they were rather forgettable to me.

But then I saw Prophecy (1979). Nothing, I mean nothing, had scared me as profoundly as that film.

prophecy-the-monster-movieProphecy is about a burned-out inner city doctor (Rob, played by Robert Foxworth) who is given the chance to escape to the country (Maine wilderness) for some meaningful (70’s hot issue) environmental science by investigating a dispute between a paper mill and the local Main Indians. He takes along his classically trained musician wife (Maggie, played by Talia Shire) — because there’s an important personal (and another political 70’s) sub-plot involving the couple: the embittered doc doesn’t want to bring another life into this horrible world, and she’s not only knocked-up, but isn’t so keen on (what I recall to be) another abortion.

When they arrive in Maine, it’s pulped into your head that a crisis is at hand at the paper mill. It’s the environment vs. progress, land vs. capitalism, with the lumberjacks on one side and the Indians on the other. In fabulous retro kitsch film style, Armand Assante plays the young Native American activist, angrily defending the old world traditions with modern gangsta style; gotta love the irony of a film trying to make points about the wisdom of native cultures using an Irish-Italian actor to play a Native American.

The idealogical & political war has been going on for quite some time now, but things are coming to a head. People are missing and the lumberjacks are certain it’s the Indians who, upset that the paper mill is damaging the land, have taken or harmed the people in the name of politics. But something else is going on… Something just below the surface… And we are shown that literally when a duck, floating atop the water, is gulped as dinner by a fish below…

Long creepy story short, the menace is a native alright; but it’s not exactly human.

The Indian legend has it that the creature is Kataden, there to save them, their land, their way of life — but really, it’s a bear that, due to the paper mill’s dirty pool (poisoning the water pools) has mutated into some sort of hideous & huge bear-pig.

prophecy-movie-horror-monster-kataden

As I too vividly recall, the Native American lore says that the legendary Kataden is a being which embodies “every other living creature” — something scientifically paralleled in a Darwinian theory of fetal development when Kataden’s drowned cubs are found by the doctor who supposes these babies are the results of the paper mill’s mercury poisoning. This made everything all the more “plausible” & frightening to my then 15 year old mind.

Like most horror films, the cast of characters is slow to catch on to the real problem, giving way to lots of violence — violence which serves to bloodily & bodily illustrate all the issues at hand.

Along with the paper mill vs. Indian clash, you have the clash of ways and beliefs between the younger Indians & the older Indians, the corrupt and ignorant/innocent paper mill persons, and the “exploration” of modern life via the personal issues of a modern couple. She’s emotional & artsy (feminine) and he’s all hard(ened) science (masculine), which echoes the other film’s value laden battle themes (nature vs.money, faith vs. pragmatics, traditions vs. modernization, the gift of life vs. quality of life).

The dangers of each are literally & graphically presented in such scenes as one of Kataden’s babies trying to suckle from Maggie’s nipple, the attack on innocence represented as a child in a sleeping bag, and the elderly Indian leader meeting his maker as he smilingly goes to meet his savior, Kataden.

And then there’s the matter of her pregnancy… Will the doc bring a child into this world? Does he have a choice? How much does he resent her — enough to not save her as his masculine protective duties dictate? Has she eaten too much of the mercury poisoned fish? Will the monster bites she’s suffered be a problem? Dogs & cats Bear-pigs & men living together; mass hysteria.

At the end of the film, life is affirmed: nature & femininity wins, overcoming corporate masculine greed with a show of traditional human survival instincts rooted in love. But at the end another creepy creature is seen, suggesting a sequel…

Did we learn the right things? Will the thing grow up, then rise up to teach us something new? Only it’s 1979; the 80’s are on the horizon, our backs are turned on the lessons learned, and no sequel has yet to come.

But I’m unable to forget it all — or the images in my head.

Yes, Prophecy is blunt heavy film — heavy on the cliches, ham-handed in using horror to punching them like a fist to your face to make the point — but it was also effective in scaring the crap out of me & placing issues heavily in my heart.

I’m not sure if “adult me” would be so moved. I did catch parts of it on late night television one night, but I wasn’t prepared to sit & give it it’s proper attention (it was on while I worked to meet a deadline) and it was so edited for content that I felt ripped-off. But I’d really like to see it again and see if it holds any of that old (black & terrifying) magic. It must hold something if I retain it so vividly 30 years later.

Click the pic & watch a clip!

For info, images, quotes, opinions, etc. on this film see BadMovies.org & Kindertrauma.

Fabric Swatch Friday: Sleep With A Pinup (Not So Much A ‘Swatch’ As A Review Of Sin In Linen Bedding)

Just the name alone, Sin in Linen (I’ve been doing that for years!) draws me in. Clever name, Sandy, a very clever name… but what about the sheets themselves?

sin-in-linen-pinup-sheetsJoie de Viv is the name of a luscious & playful bedding set made by Sin In Linen. Blonde, busty and beguiling, who wouldn’t want her waiting in their bed?

But like many an attractive woman, you wonder if she is able to live up to your fantasies… Sure, she looks good from a distance (or on your monitor), but once you get close, will there be too many flaws? When you lay with her, will she be supple & willing, or will she be rigid & unforgiving? Will she stay true, or disappear? Will she be one of those high-maintenance types?

The only way to know for sure is to take her home & bed her.

Viv herself has ample curves, and this is voluptuous bedding. The queen size sheets provide generous coverage for the queen size mattress, allowing for ease in making the bed (I do believe one should save the huffing & puffing in bed for more pleasent activities than the wrestling of linens). And Viv isn’t stingy either — the set is complete, including two standard pillow cases as well as both fitted & flat sheets.

joie-de-viv-pin-up-beddingWith a 230 thread count, 100% cotton sateen, these sheets are a dream. For those who never think of such things like thread count, let me tell you: good-quality sheets start at 180-thread count, while a count of 200 and above is considered percale — and percale equals quality linens. Cotton sateen sheets are softer than those with a classic linen weave. Along with this silkier touch there’s an appealing luster that calls to you…

Once you answer the call, and climb into bed, your skin making contact with the sheets, you’ll sigh and feel as contented as you should in your lovers arms.

With luxury like this, you almost don’t need the pinup. Almost. *wink*

The printed pinup herself is not some cheap iron-on — she’s here to stay! Because the pinup pattern is printed into the cotton, there’s no strange texture, no peeling, & she won’t wash off. And she looks hot, wash after wash.

Viv is one glamour girl who can take a tumble in bed as well as in the dryer, and still come out a knock out.

Sex kittens, and those who are fans of them, will fall hard for this set of sheets. (But don’t worry, it’s a soft landing!) Finally, new home decor for your vintage boudoir!

Other Info On The Bedding:

The Joie du Viv pin-up was originally painted by Peter Driben in the 40’s. She’s a licensed image from the artist’s estate. There’s not a lot of info on
the girl in the painting, and neither the model or art piece are credited with a name. Peter Driben was very prolific and knocked out tons of work for men’s magazines of the day, and Viv (short of Vivian) is one of these classic pinups.

Joie de Viv bedding is proudly Made in the USA by Sin in Linen, a company making unique bedding with tattoo motifs, pinup patterns, flame designs and other funky forms sure to please. Sandy Glaze is the owner, please visit her website.

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!”

Something I’d Like To Share With The Class (Blog-Ola, FTC, etc.)

high-school-student-passing-note-to-classmate-sitting-behind-her-vintage Last Monday (July 27, 2009), during our road trip, I was listening to NPR’s All Things Considered, in which they covered the issue of “Mom Bloggers” and “Blog-Ola.” I’ll skip my general dislike of the term “mom bloggers” applied to any woman with children (“mom bloggers” should only be applied to moms who blog about parenting & mommy issues; it’s a rather inappropriate & dismissive term when applied to those of us discussing non-parenting issues) & get on with the real hub-bub, bub.

“Blog-ola” is payola, pure and simple. It doesn’t matter if you’re paid in cash or product.

The dealio-mc-bob isn’t really new, but apparently had the 1,500 attendees of the 5th Annual BlogHer Conference in Chicago in heated debate. Companies give stuff to bloggers with hopes that they’ll get positive press & reviews — that’s nothing new, either; it’s the basic principal behind review product, review copies, etc. And there’s nothing inherently bad about that either. But apparently the internet is rife with the following unethical folks:

* Those bloggers & reviewers who feel either obligated or so free-stuff-happy that they are writing positive reviews &/or giving gobs of press attention to products &/or companies, regardless of the quality of the stuff they receive. If you don’t believe me, check out the show’s transcript.

and

* Those companies & persons (publicists, PR folks, etc.) who feel that bloggers & reviewers work for them when they send them “free” review items. Don’t believe me?

Here’s the most recent & most flagrant offense.

Recently, when I gave a just-deserved negative book review (for a book that calls those with Autism “cursed!”), I sent the link to the publicist/promoter (along with my synopsis, as appropriate) & was sent the following in reply:

I haven’t read your review yet, however, honestly I wish you wouldn’t post a negative review about this or any other author.

To which I replied:

I can understand your disappointment, but I won’t remove or change the review.

I clearly stated from the onset that I was skeptical of cures and while you & the author may feel her story is not intended to be read as a guarantee for others, I can accept that. However, I find the references to autism as “deathly ill,” demonically possessed” and “cursed” more than inaccurate or mere opinion, but unacceptable. I’m aghast that anyone would write such a thing. What’s more that you would, especially after my email about being skeptical, insist upon only favorable reviews; that’s unethical.

I have a responsibility to honestly review books/products, and that is what I have done.

If you’d prefer not to send me any more emails/invitations etc. because you dislike my honest opinions/reviews, that is your decision.

To which she replied:

The purpose of a blog tour is to promote the book and encourage people to buy it.

I fundamentally disagree with blog hosts posting a negative review. I would never ask a blog host to post something they don’t agree with on their blog. If you don’t anything constructive to say…stay silent.

My post was constructive; it warned my readers of the dangers of such a horrible book.

Her email continued:

I know too many authors who also review books professionally. Their stance is to not post bad reviews. It will come back around. It’s kind of an unwritten rule of the industry to not slam a fellow author. Guess blog hosts don’t live by that rule.

So…for this blog tour book…we’ll agree to disagree. It happens.

I would love for you to be a part of future tours…under the condition that you post the interview, and if you can’t that you let me know and post nothing. Deal?

No, Karen, we most decidedly do not have a deal. (And, yes, Karen, I do have the right to publish our email exchange; you courted me as a member of the press and so I have the right to quote you until/unless you state things are off the record.)

First, I did not “slam an author” — I corrected her inaccuracies (found on page 72), her inappropriate implied “cure” (page 110), and her labeling those with Autism as “cursed” (page 111). In fact, I was so incensed by what the author wrote, I could have been far more scathing in my review; but I remained as fair as I could.

Secondly, where you get all all mixed up, Karen, is your confusion over our relationship. It maybe her purpose to promote & encourage people to buy the book; but it’s not mine. Mine is to honestly review the book sent — a book that, in this case, I specifically discussed my reservations about prior to agreeing to receive the book. It doesn’t matter where the book (or product) came from, those rules don’t change.

And that’s what the FTC is concerned about, the ethics of all this.

Oh, and one more thing… Sometimes companies think they can get your free publicity with just the promise of product. If I read one more call for bloggers to post a review and then the first few (or those with the most comments or whatever) will “win” a review copy or review product, I swear, I will scream.  Loudly. You cannot, should not, review something you’ve never used/viewed/read; if you do, you are advertising (and lying about use) and that’s where the FTC comes in. Or should come in.

Let me help you, dear blogger who wanted to be treated like a member of the press, to act like a member of the press. Do not to fall prey to Blog-Ola or payola and/or the bullying of persons & companies who would have you do so. Here’s a simple reminder: You do not work for publishers, publicists, companies or individuals that send you review product; you write/review for your readers, and they deserve honesty.

Keep that in mind, and you’ll have nothing to fear from any FTC investigation or legislation.

Think back to those notes passed in school. You cared about what was written on them because you trusted the person who sent it to you. You would have been upset if the note was sent to you because Susie was paid, in cash or product, to do so. Even if the teacher (FTC) never found out, Susie lost a trusted friend (your blog reader). So stop participating in these forms of payola.

Image Credits: High School Student Passing Note to Classmate Sitting Behind Her via AllPosters.com.

Because Of This Book, I Want Carrie Fisher As A Friend

carriefisher_surrenderthepink Surrender The Pink (1991), by Carrie Fisher, was blasted by most reviewers; but I found it to be a delightful & charming quick read. Like Fisher’s Postcards from the Edge (the film anyway; I’ve not yet read the book) you wonder just how much is fiction and how much is Carrie Fisher — or how much the story’s relationship between Dinah and Rudy is really about Fisher and her ex-husband Paul Simon — but what keeps you reading is the wonderful fragmented thoughts and personality of the main character. Whoever she is.

Dinah may have a wild and witty interior dialogue, but it doesn’t stop there. Even if Dinah wishes she were more stoic, she doesn’t exactly keep her cards close to her chest and may even be considered to be a few cards shy of a full deck. (If Carrie is Dinah, or vice-versa, I encourage Carrie to contact me and be my friend!)

This all reminds me of the sorts of stories friends tell; good or bad, they are always entertaining. For example, Dinah shares the three times she lost her virginity. Each time is rather sad and lamentable, familiar in their probability, yet Dinah’s storytelling is the sort of context setting that engages a reader. It made me devour the book in one afternoon.

True, the ending of the book is a little rushed, and somethings are even more ambiguous than when they started, but hey babe, that’s life. Or at least my life.

PS. If you want to really know more about me, pay close attention to pages 143-150.

The “What Happened To You?!” Musical Family Road Trip

family-road-trip-warning-signOn Monday we drove from Fargo (ND) to Menomonie (WI) to meet my folks and get the eldest who had spent a week at their house. We do road trips like this quite often, what with visitation & all, so what I’m about to say happens in many variations…

Somewhere around Hudson (WI), hubby and I put in a CD. Not just any CD, Pete Seeger’s For Kids & Just Plain Folks (a recent garage sale find). He & I begin to sing along and either our collective loud singing or my “chair dancing” garners interest from the children. We are notified by this when Hunter complain-asks, (with intensely wrinkled face), “What is this?!” I tell him it’s folk music; that I like bluegrass and folk music. His response?

A judgmental, “What happened to you?!”

But eventually, the children not only listen (which required two of three to remove earplugs & turn off their iPods) but begin singing along — even to songs they’ve never heard before, like the fanciful & silly Here’s To Cheshire — Here’s To Cheese (Froggy).

As Pete Seeger himself said in his narration, there once was a time when very few people had music to listen to. Only the very rich could hire performers, so most people had to make their own music. (In his narration, Seeger relays the comments of a man who claimed to have learned the fiddle because he noticed that fiddle players got to stand next to the fires; which prompted me to add, “And fiddle players get the chicks.” To which hubby commented, “Fiddlechicks!” now a frequent expletive we use lol)

Anyway, my point is that most of us are spoiled by the availability of music — and we lessen the musical experience too. Not only do we make less music ourselves, but we don’t share it either. We sit enclosed in our own musical bubbles, earphones in and isolated from the experience of sharing music. For hours. Days, even.

It’s a shame, for there’s great fun in sharing a silly sing-along with Seeger. Or, as occurred later, singing along with Three Dog Night – Joy to the World: Their Greatest Hits.

I must say that those 80’s air band contests (yes, I “competed” in those) & Karaoke (even though they are much more solo-performance oriented) are better alternatives to the isolation of listening/singing alone to your earplug-fed music, with or without singing into your hairbrush. (But Rock Band et all can go to hell; it’s not teaching a love of music or even a shared musical experience, just making music more competitive acts and solo pursuits.) I’m much more in favor of group & family sing-alongs — be they with Mitch (grandma put those albums on at Christmas) Seeger, Three Dog Night, GNR, or whoever.

So take a road trip with your family, your girlfriends, etc. Have everyone unplug from their individual listening devices, & create a sing-along.

You could try this at home; but just like those questions kids ask you when you are driving, you have a captive audience in the car. Use it.

Credits & Other Info:

Mini review of Pete Seeger’s For Kids & Just Plain Folks: A lovely collection, but poorly equalized. I suggest other Pete Seeger recordings where the volume doesn’t waver, resulting in continual volume adjustments & ear-blasts. (However, as usual, not all the songs may be available on other CDs/recordings; I’m not into researching that.)

Mini review of Three Dog Night – Joy to the World: Their Greatest Hits: Absolutely fabulous! Has 14 songs which sound like they’re on vinyl, and has a track (I’d Be So Happy) that’s not on the other (later released) 20 Greatest Hits album.

Image made via CustomRoadSign.

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.

New Vintage Reviews Carnival, 4th Edition

New Vintage Reviews Carnival
New Vintage Reviews Carnival
Reuse, recycle — rejoice!

Welcome to the fourth edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” that is likely new to someone… And (most of the time) it still has great entertainment value!

Games:

Chris presents Game of Round the World with Nellie Bly posted at Book Hunter’s Holiday.

Derek presents Game Night: Password posted at Collectors’ Quest.

I present Mall Madness (Retro Electronic Version), at Collectors’ Quest.

Cliff Aliperti presents 1939 Wizard of Oz Card Game posted at things-and-other-stuff.com.

Records:

Jaynie presents Listen To Busby Berkeley? posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Books & Magazines:

Sarah Sammis presents Destination Moon posted at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

I review I Like It Here, by Kingsley Amis here at Kitsch Slapped.

Sarah Sammis presents The Postman Always Rings Twice (yes, the novel, not the film!) at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

Sarah Sammis presents The Motorman’s Coat at Puss Reboots: A Book Review a Day.

Film & Television:

Cliff Aliperti presents Louise Brooks stars in William Wellman’s Beggars of Life (1928) posted at NY Classic Movies Examiner.

Jaynie presents A Real Peach Of A Film posted at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Jaynie presents Don Knotts As Hugh Hefner? at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Collin David presents The State, Finally on DVD at Collectors’ Quest.

Cliff Aliperti presents Diamond Jim (1935) starring Edward Arnold as Diamond Jim Brady posted at NY Classic Movies Examiner.

Jaynie presents The Fantasy Of Star-Crossed Cursed Lovers at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

Classic Kitschy Travel Destinations:

jen from windy ridge presents Main Street Station posted at The Chronicles Of Windy Ridge, saying, “A review of our local Vintage & Retro “junk” shop. Acquire things that you absolutely love and incorporate them into your home.”

Emma Taylor presents 100 Best Curator and Museum Blogs posted at Online Universities.com.

Honorable Mention:

Central Kentucky Antiques & Collectibles presents Antique Jewelry – Investment and Fashion posted at Central Kentucky Antiques and Collectibles.

That’s it for this month. We hope we’ve inspired you to go into that attic, basement, or closet (maybe even the thrift store or yard sale) dust off that old stuff and let it entertain you!

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. (For more info, read this.)

Is Dating In The Dark Treating Us Like Mushrooms?

You know the old joke, “I must be a mushroom because people keep me in the dark and feed me BS,” right? So when I heard about ABC’s Dating In The Dark, I was suspicious. My verdict? The bad news is that the new reality dating show is unremarkable. But then again, the good news is also that it’s unremarkable.

As far as dating reality shows go — or any reality TV shows, actually — it’s rather refreshing to not watch a show and find yourself becoming pissed off at the exploitation of flesh (Dating In The Dark had the option to take peeps and bare or topless bods, and it didn’t take the usual sleazy route), irate at the mythinformation presented by “experts,” or screaming in anguish at the cruelty of manipulating people’s feelings.

OK, so some of the latter occurs, but that’s just part of dating; people put themselves out there and get rejected.

I don’t want to pick on people (even if those people have put themselves out there for such attention), but I have to say that Christina had attention-seeking bitch written all over her from the get go & so her decision not to continue to see Seth (who is a charming & attractive guy) because he wasn’t GQ cover material wasn’t at all surprising. In fact, by the time we got to her moaning in pain & hurt at the self-discovery that she was the kind or person who would dismiss a caring man who would be there for her — one she had a connection with — just because he wasn’t what the Greeks chiseled in stone, I was peeved. “Why,” I wondered, “would a person put herself on a show about proving appearances don’t matter when she so obviously (and callously) did?” Then the answer came to me: Because she’s not just a conceited bitch who thinks she’s prettier than she is — she’s an attention-seeking bitch who wants to pretend she’s nice and so puts herself on a reality television show.

But honestly, that’s about as typical (and icky) as the show gets for the genre.

There are no freaky-mean twists (like after telling the 6 participants that how they’d paired them off based on pre-show screening compatibility was a joke & tricking them into making then breaking the bonds they were making), no overly suggestive hype — in fact, most of this just proves what most confident & sane people will tell you about dating:

* Chemistry is important; but that’s not all about looks

* People have weird ways (both the down-right odd and the charming versions) of evaluating people, some of which are not suitable for happiness

* “Good looks” are in the eye of the beholder — and while we all see the same thing/people, we sure don’t “behold” the same way.

* Most people need to be directed towards potential mates because they would  otherwise continue to make the same dating mistakes, write-off potential relationships for silly reasons (armpit sweat on a shirt, think a guy is too handsome (intimidating), etc.) — so trust your family & friends to set you up!

* Some people are self-centered & mean; but if you close yourself off to protect yourself from the jerks, you’ll also prevent yourself from learning more about yourself and from discovering other nice people.

All basic stuff, yes; but not unhealthy. And lately, I feel like the world, especially reality TV shows and stupid dating experts, spends too much time ignoring the basic good stuff. But still, it was confusing.

And at the rate the hour long show clipped along, I became even more confused…

With 6 contestants/participants (3 female, 3 male) and ready to see each other about 1/2 way through, I wondered how this could be a series. Were we going to keep them in this living arrangement, force them to continue dating, mate & raise children, get divorces, find new loves, all via furtive visits to the dark room?

But no, Dating In The Dark offers 6 new participants each week.

I’m not sure if I will watch more shows or not; but I won’t suggest a boycott, nor will I make faces at people who say they do watch the show.

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.

Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife – Exposed!

secret-recipes-for-the-modern-wifeIn contrast to the many products inspired by or incorporating vintage & retro images of female domesticity that only really offer humor, Secret Recipes for the Modern Wife: All the Dishes You’ll Need to Make from the Day You Say “I Do” Until Death (or Divorce) Do You Part, by Nava Atlas, offers some wisdom with the chuckles.

It’s easy to take one look at this cookbook, flip through the pages and realize that most of the ingredients, like “1 economy-size can of everything you and your husband ever had in common, drained,” are not of the edible variety and so dismiss it as just another product cashing in on the retro style craze — but don’t! While it’s true, as the publisher claims, that Atlas “grills societal norms with gleeful relish,” it’s also true that this book offers recipes. But not just any recipes, but the secret kind…

Success recipes for love, marriage, parenting, divorce, reconciliation — survival.

Instead of offering only the too-true advice that heaping servings of humor are needed to survive marriage and children, there are excellent (sarcastic & snarky) reminders that good health includes a sound mind, free of self-delusion, self-denial, self-betrayal & self-sacrifice.

secret-recipes-page-77

Atlas states in the book’s acknowledgments & credits that Secret Recipes For The Modern Wife began as a personal project, “a small, limited edition artist’s book” using dark humor as a cathartic release for friends who were divorcing or otherwise suffering from marital malaise; but Trish Todd, Atlas’ editor, saw beyond the divorce theme and helped the author & artist shape the book into something more well-balanced. It even ends on a hopeful note with “Happily-Ever-After Ambrosia.”

Secret Recipes For The Modern Wife, with its recipes like “Beans ‘n’ Weenies of Sexual Tension” (below – click to read larger version), “Soufflé of Fallen Expectations,” and “Old Boyfriend Buffet” may not be suitable fare for the entire family — but keeping a copy of this book tucked away for a private & spontaneous flip-through will be good for the whole family. After all, what wife &/or mother doesn’t need a little stress relief? And hidden reading episodes are certainly preferable to a furtive nips of liquor in a closet.

secret-recipes-beans-n-weenies-of-sexual-tension

Some Lessons In The Soiling Of Old Glory

the-soiling-of-old-glory-the-story-of-a-photograph-that-shocked-america-by-louis-p-masurAt Collectors’ Quest I just reviewed Louis P. Masur’s The Soiling of Old Glory: The Story of a Photograph That Shocked Americaa book I can’t recommend highly enough.

While the book is based on a very famous photograph, the Pulitzer Prize–winning photograph by Stanley Forman, taken on April 5, 1976 at a Boston rally against forced school busing, I’d never heard of or seen the photo before.

I don’t know why.

I was 12 years old at that time and I remember vividly Watergate, Viet Nam, etc.; so I obviously absorbed news. And I’ve always been interested in, sensitive to, and emotional regarding matters of race — something I’ve since put down not only to a combination of being human, being female (and so recognizing oppression), and “white guilt,” but as spiritual residue from being born on June 21, 1964, the date of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered (something I never knew until I was about 25 and rented Mississippi Burning). Plus, I’ve been a very avid student of history. So just how the incident & photograph escaped my knowledge is a mystery to me…

But once I found Masur’s book, my ignorance left.

And not just my ignorance regarding this (and other) incidents of relatively recent racism in this country (and in “the liberal north” yet!), but about photography, art, symbolism… And this country’s flag.

I had no idea that someone from my home-state of Wisconsin was so influential in the creation of National Flag Day, or that the Milwaukee Daughters of the American Revolution played a role in early anti flag desecration legislation. In fact, I had no idea that there was such concern over flag desecration as early as the late 1800’s. But what really rocked my cynical world was the reasoning behind it. Masur wrote (pages 98-99):

Even as the flag came to be venerated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it became subject to another kind of treatment: desecration. Of course, it makes perfect sense that the two might emerge side by side, an object worshipped and reviled, an icon and a target. Reports and pamphlets in support of legislation against federal flag desecration began to appear, primarily in response not to overt acts of destruction but to the commercial use of the image of the flag. Arguing that “old glory is too sacred a symbol to be misused by any party, creed, or faction,” one writer included a list of objects on which “old glory… is treated with grave disrespect or used for mercenary purposes.” The items ranged from pocket handkerchiefs and doormats to lemon wrappers and whiskey bottles. In 1890, the House Judiciary Committee recommended passage of a law that made it a misdemeanor to “use the national flag, either by printing, painting, or affixing said flag, or otherwise attaching to the same any advertisement for public display, or private gain.”

What strikes me so odd — not that it should, I suppose — is that folks were so upset by the commercialization of the U.S. flag.

What on earth would they think of today’s patriotism? Of our current state of ridicule of anyone not wearing or displaying, on person or product, an American flag?

That sound you hear is the thud of fainting conservatives from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Or maybe it is the screams of horror from the same.

Once I wrapped my mind around such societal flip-flop, I then was left to revisit my own memories of the flag. A flag I’d seen on so many things… And that was before 9/11.

Heck, walk down any major isle at oh-holy-Wal*Mart this week, and try not to find something with the U.S. flag printed on it — tank tops with the flag & little white puppies, disposable plates with flags on them, socks with flags & fireworks, seat cushions… Endless. And all made to be profited from.

Was the Bicentennial responsible for this?

Back then (and I don’t mean just 1976, but the years surrounding it too) we had our school pictures taken with flag backgrounds, ate off flag forks, plastered cafeterias with flag-printed crepe paper & balloons, even applied flag printed toilet paper to clean our dirty butts. It was as bad as Masur notes, and, as he quotes, by then at least one member of the Sons of the American Revolution was OK with such kitsch: “I see no harm in these Bicentennial products. There is no harm in making a buck.”

But while the Bicentennial was the height of flag kitsch, I had some memories of flag use and “abuse” before then…

Again from Masur (page 107):

The meaning of America and the meaning of the flag went together. As the counterculture of the late 1950s and the 1960s came into prominence, attempts to redefine America often meant desacralizing the flag by wearing it. The cultural rebellion of the 1960s necessarily implicated the flag. [Allen] Ginsberg came to sport a top hat with the American flag motif. In discussing Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, and the drug culture of the 1960s, Ginsberg argued that “they didn’t reject the American flag but instead washed it and took it back from the neoconservatives and right wingers and war hawks who were wrapping themselves in the flag, so Kesey painted the flag on his sneakers and had a little flag in his teeth filling.”

This was as I recalled from my television set. The protest film footage, the body paint on Goldie Hawn & Judy Carne on Laugh-In (and if the girls hadn’t actually worn flags painted on their bodies, well, I said it was as I recalled it…) It may not all have been as commercial as the Bicentennial kitsch was; but it was there, making it’s own statement, whether you dug it or not.

In the end, I agree with Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson who, ruling on West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette in 1943, said:

To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds. We can have intellectual individualism and the rich cultural diversities that we owe to exceptional minds only at the price of occasional eccentricity and abnormal attitudes. When they are so harmless to others or to the state as those we deal with here, the price is not too great. But freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.”

I don’t for a moment consider the use of the flag as a weapon to be anything other than criminal; that’s not my intent in any way. While the photo and exploration of the cult of flag connect in Masur’s book (they have to; the flag as symbol must be discussed), that’s not his point either. But what you have to see is a time, not long ago, when many felt the flag, like the country, didn’t represent them any more.

Here Masur repeats a quote Kenneth Clark published in Dark Ghetto:

The flag here in America is for the white man. The blue is for justice; the fifty white stars you see in the blue are for the fifty white states; and the white you see in it is the White House. It represents white folks. The red in it is the white man’s blood — he doesn’t even respect your blood, that’s why he will lynch you, hang you, barbecue you, and fry you.

There are many times I feel that way. Not just in theory. Not just as continuing amateur historian. But as a woman living her life here as a second class citizen. Without equal pay. Without the same recourse & credibility when she stands to seek justice. Without recognized rights to her own body. And with far greater (& societal accepted) risk of violence & sexual assault.

Why isn’t my gender’s blood part of the red on the flag?

I feel a reclamation-of-the-flag art project coming on.

Happy Fourth of July.

New Vintage Reviews Carnival, Third Edition

new-vintage-reviews-carnival_bigReuse, recycle — rejoice! Welcome to the third edition of the New Vintage Reviews Carnival, where we review “old stuff” that is likely new to someone… We hopes that it inspires you to dust off the things in your closet, mom’s basement, grandma’s attic etc. and put them to use again.

Games:

In The $1.99 Career Change?, I review Parker Brother’s Careers game, here at Kitsch Slapped.

In Vintage Game Nerd Alert: Bottoms-Up, I review the vintage Bottoms-Up game by E. S. Lowe at Collectors’ Quest.

In Let’s Play Shutbox, I review the classic Shut The Box game, here at Kitsch Slapped.

At Cal’s Board Game Musings, Calvin Daniels reviews Harry’s Grand Slam Baseball.

Books:

Kerrie presents Agatha Christie’s The Mysterious Mr. Quin at Mysteries in Paradise.

At Sharing Experiences, Andy Hayes presents Life Imitates Art: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Films:

In Monday Movie Meme: Trauma In Your Drama?, Jaynie Van Roe reviews Easy Rider at Here’s Looking Like You, Kid.

In The Ugly Dachshund Is A Beautiful Great Dane, I review The Ugly Dachshund at Collectors’ Quest.

Classic Kitschy Travel Destinations:

In the Retro Museum of Awesome, Dave reviews the Retro Arcade Museum (at NYCResistor).

At Retro Road Map, ModBetty reviews the Trailer Park Lounge.

Honorable Mention:

Jim Murdoch presents The Truth About Lies: The Sonnets posted at The Truth About Lies. — a new (2008) novel on a very old subject.

That’s it for this month!

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. For more info, read this!

Let’s Play Shutbox

When I was a little girl, my parents would often get together with my mom’s parents & siblings to play cards — usually Cribbage, but sometimes Sheepshead. When I was too young to play, and even when I was older & had learned to play those games but then forgot again because I preferred my nose in a book, I played games by myself. Along with the classic Solitaire, one of the games I played was Shutbox.

Shutbox was what we called it; but I guess that’s the abbreviated name for Shut The Box.

shutbox

The game is simple, but because your success at the game is up to the whim of the dice, it isn’t as boring as it sounds. (Of course, like Solitaire, when you win at Shutbox, you believe it’s entirely a game of skill.)

How it’s played:

You start with all the numbers visible, or in the case my retro black & white plastic game, all the numbers “up” (or “down,” if that’s your preference).

You roll both dice, and then shut, flip or slide, the numbered tiles that add up to the total sum of the numbers rolled. For example, I rolled a 12, so I slid the 9 & 3.

retro-shutbox-game

You roll again, and do the same — but once a number is slid or flipped, it cannot be used again.

how-to-play-shutbox

Over & over again you continue until either:

* the remaining tiles total less than 6, and only 1 die is rolled (this rule varies by household/location)

* you reach the point where no tiles can be slid/flipped for the rolled numbers

* you’ve flipped/slid all the numbers and “shut the box”

When you shut the box, you win; but when you have numbers left over (numbers that cannot be slid/flipped), you add them up and that’s your total to beat next time.

Shutbox can be played alone, or you can play with an unlimited number of people, each trying to best the other at “shutting the box.” When you play against others, the person with the lowest score wins — and if more than one person shuts the box, then those people compete again (sort of championship round).

how-to-play-shut-the-box

There are also other versions too. For example, players may agree to go many rounds, keeping a running score, and the winner is the one with the lowest cumulative score. Another example, is to play in teams, combining teams scores to see which team has the lowest cumulative score.

And, I guess, in some schools (and Mensa gatherings), the game is played based on multiplication, etc.

play-shut-the-box

My game is a cheap old plastic one, but when I spotted a nice newer wooden one a week ago at a rummage sale (for a whopping 50 cents!), I got it for my 20 year old daughter. Not only do I love the mod style digits on my plastic Shutbox game, but this one, with it’s electrical taped sides, was from my grandparents. They gave it to me when I moved out and I can’t tell you the number of memories it has for me…

Not only do I fondly remember my grandparents teaching me to play, family members playing with me, and my afternoons & evenings playing Shutbox at grandma’s house while the adults laughed and played cards, but that game was my sole companion as a single parent to a baby who sometimes had to cry herself to sleep.

And then there were the times Shutbox was the center of Girls’ Night Out and turned into a drinking game or a gambling game (hey, IRS, we played for, uh, pretzels – yeah, pretzels). We didn’t pervert the family friendly game; Shut The Box has a long history as a bar or pub game — and before that as a game sailors played to pass the time on long voyages. There are even Shut The Box bar leagues in some places.

So, the next time you’re at a garage sale, flea market or thrift shop & you spot a Shutbox (with or without dice), grab it and give it a go. It’s a very versatile game.

i-lost-shutbox

Ah, The Sights & Sounds Of 80’s Flicks

The Monday Movie Meme is I love The 80’s; here are some of my quick thoughts on my favorite 80’s films…

Desperately Seeking Susan — I was dressing like slutty Madonna; but like Rosanna Arquette’s Roberta Glass, I wanted more of Madonna’s life (as Susan, anyway). I recently watched the movie again, and felt the same stirrings now. Still a cheap, fun thrill!

The Lost Boys — Still an excellent film. A great blend of adventure comedy with enough chills & thrills to make you grip your boyfriend’s arm. Of course, Jami Gertz & Jason Patric gave you chills & thrills of a different sort (and maybe that lead to different sort of grips between you & your boyfriend… I’m not judging you if it did.)

I wore out my cassette version of the soundtrack; had to get it on CD.

Pretty In Pink — Molly totally chose the wrong guy. How can anyone turn down The Duckman?! His performance of Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness, & the rich kid was forgotten. Yes, I know that song was lip-synced; but I melted. (Jon Cryer, as Duckie, did sing Love in the film though.)

James Spader was in the film too — as the rich jerk you loved to hate. Too pretty for me to like him then, it was too easy to lump Spader into the group of vain guys who thought they were better than me.

james_spader_molly_ringwald_pretty_in_pink

But…

Along came Secretary & then Boston Legal, and I completely, utterly fell in love with Spader. He’s on my list of “people I’m allowed to ‘do’ if I ever have the opportunity.”

I may have to write more about my love affair with James Spader later.

The Breakfast Club — This time Molly Ringwald got the guy right; but somehow, I knew that once she drove off with her (movie) dad, she’d forget all about Judd Nelson…

I wouldn’t.

Judd was never hotter. (I know because I kept waiting for him to appear so hot again. :sigh: I still wait.)

But to me, the ultimate 80’s flick is Valley Girl. If I couldn’t be brave enough to live life as Madonna’s Susan, well, I’d get me Nicolas Cage, the dangerous yet misunderstood “bad boy” who’d love me, even if I would have uttered “gag me with a spoon” — which, trust me, we only said to mock those we felt were lame enough to say that… I don’t think anyone ever said that outside of a movie or a cliché.

Actually most of the movie is cliché. But it’s the height of cliché! It’s full of romantic cheese done with an incomparable stylistic edge set to Modern English’s I Melt With You, yet (and loads of other greats on a kick-ass soundtrack).

The $1.99 Career Change?

As usual, I spotted a retro game at the thrift store and had to spend a whopping $1.99 — and make someone play it. This time the game was Parker Brothers’ Careers and the victim was the husband, Derek. Fortunately, the only pieces missing were two dice — and, after lengthy searching, I was able to remedy that so we could play. (No one escaped playing games with me that easily!)

retro-parker-brothers-careers-game-box

Unlike the What Shall I Be? games by Selchow & Righter Co., this game isn’t so much about the rah-rah-sis-boom-bah “you can be anything you want to be” as it is about the “success formula.”

Instead of exploring career options and considering the education and work involved in landing that dream job, Parker Brothers Career Game reminds game players that success not only is about the games we play, but that one can actually define their success. I’m not just waxing poetic; it’s right there on the game’s box: “Fame… Fortune… Happiness… The Choice is yours in Parker Brothers game of Careers.” (Parker Brothers even registered it’s board game and equipment trademark under the “Fame, Fortune and Happiness.”)

Game play seems a bit complicated (there’s not only a set of instructions, but what we’d now call an FAQ printed inside the game box) and might be a bit intimidating at the start (hubby & I were awfully glad we hadn’t opened any wine coolers to drink while playing), but once you set up the board & roll the dice, it’s much easier than all the type implies.

careers-instructions

Like Monopoly, you begin at start and get paid every time you pass it; unlike Monopoly, this game doesn’t need to be all about money, for before you roll the dice, each player sets their own goals.

Each player must define their own idea of success by designating their individual Success Formula — and actual equation by which they will win. While each player must get 60 points, they may divide their points up, in any way, between the three categories of Fame (stars), Fortune (money – each $1,000 being 1 point) & Happiness (hearts). Since we were a bit bewildered at first, we just guessed numbers to fill in the blanks. Hubby went for the mathematical “divided by three” and gave himself a goal of of 20 each. I went for $30,000 (30 points), and 15 each for Fame & Happiness.

careers-score-cards

The you move around the board, based on the number of spaces the dice rolls tell you & the information based on the cards you get, and the directions on the spaces themselves. Along the way you have options to pay for publicity (earning Fame Stars), gamble in the stock market & at Las Vegas (earning money), and spend time in Paris and Hawaii (earning Happiness Hearts) — again, if you have the money to spend on such things. Of course, just as with real life, you may also fall prey to hospital stays, unemployment, taxes & rent.

You earn college degrees & work experience by following the individual career paths (using only one die for those areas). Some of the career paths offer more money to earn, raises in salary (what you earn each time you pass “start”), Fame & Happiness points, as well as “Opportunity Knocks” and “Experience” cards.

careers-game-board-1979

In this game, your specific career paths are limited to Big Business, Politics, Show Biz, Sports and Space; which sort of parallels the pop culture ideas of careers in the late 70’s. (More on that here.) Navigating the side trip career paths which offer the best possibilities for your self-created Success Formula is how you attempt to control your destiny. Want more money in your pocket? Try Sports (it apparently brings lots of Happiness too). Want pay raises? Try Big Business. Politics and Space bring the most Fame; Show Biz is one of the shortest career paths, but you can find some Money and Happiness there too. But it won’t be easy…

Not only must you rely on the roll of the dice to bring you to your hopeful career path, the luck of Opportunity Knocks cards, and avoid the treachery of not only spaces but other player’s actions “bumping” you into Unemployment, but you will need to pay your way into each career, have the proper college degree &/or work experience to get into each career. Since Derek had some poor luck of the dice early on, he was unable enter any careers for quite awhile, forcing him to stay on the outside tack and pay taxes etc., prompting hit to comment that this game was a lesson in “no matter how hard you try, if you don’t start with enough money, you’re doomed.”

Real life? Meh. I’m more of an optimist.

But then, I did win.

We think.

Seems Derek, the one reading the instructions, misunderstood the difference between “Money” and “Pay” on the score pads, resulting in the mistaken notion that your Pay needed to reach the same amount of Money in your equation (it doesn’t; Money equals cash you have in hand). So at that time, since I had gobs of money, I was declared the winner.

The irony of two Bohemian “creative types” screwing up the money component of the equation was not lost on us.

Overall, I think it’s a very cool game. But then, maybe my standards are low; I just love board games & when they are “old” I’m twice as happy to play them.

The game has many variations (you know I looked ’em all up!), some of which are very cool; others nauseating. The worst of which came in 1990 when Parker Brothers thought a hot pink pandering Careers for Girls board game would profit big time.

careers-for-girls-1990

The career paths girls could travel in this game were schoolteacher, rock star, fashion designer, college graduate, supermom, and animal doctor. And the game’s strategy was greatly simplified — because females can’t be bothered by adhering to strategy; we’re restricted to the whims of our biology, emotional whims, and itty-bitty brains. (Heck, we don’t even know what a veterinarian is; we use “animal doctor.”) So, to keep us entertained and flushed as pink as the game’s box, players were asked to perform dopey things like “Describe your dream husband” & “Show us how you dance with your main squeeze.”

When Susan Engeleiter, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, caught wind of this game, she knew it was more than hot air — it came from Parker Brother’s derrière. This is how she responded:

Engeleiter said she was amazed the game didn’t include such careers as business executives, government leaders, astronauts, scientists or moms without the prefix “super.” “Parker Brothers is sending the wrong message to young girls,” she said. “Even Barbie dolls come with business suits these days.” Then she added, “I am raising my daughter to believe there are no limits on career choices for women. If the Parker ‘Brothers’ were the Parker ‘Sisters’ this game would never have passed ‘Go.'”

In response, Parker Brothers’ spokeswoman (note: that’s not company “super spokeswoman”) Patricia McGovern stressed the game is purely for entertainment and “is certainly not to communicate that only certain careers are limited to women,” adding that the game was designed by a woman, art was managed by a woman and the product manager was a
woman. (No word on how many of those women threw-up Pepto-Bismol, hence the game’s profuse pinkosity.)

But you know what? I want them all the versions of this game — including the nauseating “girls version,” because it’s part of our history. Let’s hope I can find the other versions of this game at my local thrift stores.

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.

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.

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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