Simon Cowell Says My Blog Is Self-Indulgent

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

If so, I don’t care.

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

That’s worth getting emotional over.

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

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

So add tears of regret to those of nostalgia.

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

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

How cool to feel all the full circle moments.

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

So just let me cry, OK?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eventually, Rita will be the alcoholic.

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

No, I don’t think so.

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

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

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

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

Things I Want In My Hubbard Cupboard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s not to love?

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

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

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

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

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

What Better Way Than Humor, Indeed

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

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

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

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

now-equal-pay-cartoon-caption-contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did.

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

WTF?

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

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

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

At least leave the biz.

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

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

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

Now what.

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

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

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

I’m A Little Late To The National Cleavage Day Party

I didn’t know that there was/is such a thing as National Cleavage Day. If it weren’t for Denise‘s post about it at BlogHer, I still wouldn’t know about it. And if I had somehow stumbled into the Wiki page about NCD, I would have thought it was something Steven Colbert had directed his Colbert Nation minions into creating. (Seeing “corporate sponsor” Wonderbra’s page on NCD wouldn’t have helped either; the power of Colbert is boundless.)

But I’m not only late to the party — I’m a National Cleavage Day party pooper too.

Now it may surprise you that I’m not really a fan of National Cleavage Day. You’re likely thinking that as a collector of smut, not to mention the owner of a rack that would require the jaws of life not to make cleavage, I’d be in favor of a day which celebrates cleavage. But I’m not.

Call me jaded by the decades of leers & drool, accuse me of being exhausted and annoyed from the countless times of having to hold strong chiseled male jaws in my hand and tilt them, like that of a small child, so that their owners may speak to my face and not my breasts; I am. But really, do we need to encourage men to stare at women’s breasts?

Oh, sure, if you’re at a bar or club or other place where you are participating in and exploiting nature’s call to preserve the species, by all means, show it off. And I’ll admit that while those days of hunting-til-he-catches-me are over for me, I’m not above bringing out The Girls to remind me, myself, and hubby that I’m a sexy desirable woman — all the leers, drool and jaw tilting keep any need for Cialis at bay. But I don’t display ’em at WalMart. Or because a corporate sponsor told me to.

But a day for cleavage watching? Like a Take Your Boobs To Work Day? A Shake Your Boobs At Work Day? Or Super Casual (& Smutty) Friday? Puh-leeez.

I’ll guarantee you that the girls (lower case here because we’re now talking about a group of young females, not my breasts) who participate in this “holiday” are “third wave feminists” who think that proffering crevice, tit or ass (via whale-tails etc.), is akin to rolling down one’s stockings: an advance for female equality. Only, see, we don’t allow men to show pecs and gluts in public either — and that means we don’t see their cracks between such flesh in the workplace either, hun. That’s equality.

If I sound like a crotchety old anti-porn feminist, know I’m not. (If you want proof, I’ll send it.) But I just get so frustrated with the lack of class. Leave a little mystery, damnit. And save the intimate visuals of intimate spaces for intimate times & intimate places.

And as for you, Wonderbra, shame, shame, shame on you.

If Wikipedia is to be believed, the “corporate sponsorship” is intended to be as uplifting as the Wonderbras:

According to Samantha Paterson, the brand manager for Wonderbra, the National Cleavage Day is started according to a design to solemnize women’s independence and power in all facets of life, from their careers to their relationships to their own destiny.[1] Anita Meiring, public relations consultant for Wonderbra, explained the event, “It is a day for women to realise that their cleavage is something unique and that they should be proud of it”.[4] Paterson explained “It gives women a chance to be beautiful and glow in the furtive, yet appreciative, glances their cleavage evokes from men”.[1] She also explained “It gives men a legitimate reason to stare at boobs”.

Just how does one “solemnize women’s independence and power in all facets of life” by proffering exposed breast? And hey, Meiring, I completely realize that my cleavage is “unique” and I am “proud of it” — but I know (at least) two things that apparently you don’t.

One, this ain’t Utopia, sister; women who expose themselves in public are seen as “asking for it” and that puts us in danger twice (first for being assaulted, and then at the mercy of a court who holds us and our mode of dress responsible for male actions).

Two, my pride isn’t dependent upon flashing it to prove it to you, to leering men, or to anyone/everyone else. Confidence just is.

Quietly just is.

And that’s the way I like it, especially in public.

I’m not asking for the burka, baby; just some rational acceptance of public decency as reflective of both no need to push my privates into public spaces and people’s faces and my desire to not see every body part others are proud of. That’s what manners are all about, making people feel comfortable. Can ya dig?

In reality Wonderbra is pimping: they’ve created a faux holiday through which they can use sexism to profit off of the display of female bodies — selling women and sexist misogynistic fantasies under the guise of pride.

The final nail in National Cleavage Day’s coffin is the fact that Cosmo supports it. Again, from the suspicious Wiki page:

Vanessa Raphaely, editor of the Cosmopolitan, argued the NCD is not intended to objectify women, but to celebrate in a fun manner.[4]

Cosmo hasn’t been accurate about women’s rights & male responsibilities since the 60’s — if then. So pooh on that.

It is sexy to feel like you are in control of your beautiful bodies, ladies, but the realities are that even here in the US of A we women are not in control of our own bodies — but we are somehow responsible for male reactions to our bodies and, in cases of rape (for rape is all about rage & power, not lust & sex), we are somehow responsible for that too. And when women are harassed and abused for busting with pride and showing off their cleavage, you know what will happen.

Oh, it’s a mess out there, Virginia. And while I’d like to let you boldly go forth, displaying your confidence laden cleavage, I know better.

Naughty Secretaries Vs. Bosses Gone Bad

The myth of the naughty secretary was created & used to perpetuate fears among Victorian housewives, who, as the arbitrators and guardians of morality, were thought to be able to dictate who took dictation via two paths.

One path was the ability to hen peck their husbands’ hiring practices, and therefore not have female applicants get picked for the jobs. (Often women would suggest male candidates, as they needed to support families — or have enough income to get married.)

The other path was to pressure their ‘sisters’ into conforming to womanly virtue. Like their Chinese counterparts, women would bind their sisters’ economic feet — only through lecture, condemnation, and societal pursuit. But women would be hobbled just the same — and, as males preferred, the women would direct their anger and blame at the feet of their sisters. (Like foot binding, this female-on-female action would only further divide the sisterhood of women, fracturing bonds of trust and creating suspicion among women — which only added to resistance of the messages & mantras of moralistic matrons as well as causing the matrons to believe that women who wanted or needed to work were of poor virtue, ready & willing to debase men and even steal husbands.)

Case-by-case analysis of individual hen pecked husbands & women worried into conformity aside, the plan not only failed (as evidenced by more women continuing to enter the work force for years to come), but backfired into male & female belief that women who did seek employment outside of hearth & home were of poor virtue and suitable not only for dictation but dick-takin’.

Of course, the sexually harassed and abused women found little-to-no comfort or assistance regarding their complains in the arms of their sisters; for in their eyes the secretaries were seen as having it coming (if not the perpetrators of sin themselves, seducing men into indiscriminate behaviors).

Insert jokes about naughty secretaries (and naughty maids), such as these vintage French mechanical cards below, which carried the same weight and purpose in the 1950s atomic age as they did in Victorian times. After all, the concerns were the same.

The Goodness Of A Mike Shayne Twinkie

A relatively recent 50 cent thrift store grab, a paperback copy of The Homicidal Virgin; cover illustration by Robert McGinnis.

The Homicidal Virgin is, like all the Mike Shayne works, one of those classic gumshoe detective stories. Now, as far as “classic gumshoe fiction” goes, it’s a fairly predictable genre. That’s not to say the story endings are always seen a mile away (or before you finish reading the wraps), but, like most all pulp fiction works, it’s a rather formulaic genre — and it’s a slam-dunk that the detective will get his man along with his woman. (And should the perp be a woman, well, the lucky detective gets two women.)

As an avid reader, I avoided most works in this genre, along with the related “romance novels” for many years. But after collecting vintage pulp novels & retro paperbacks for their covers, I began to become interested in what lay beneath the art. After reading a few, I found that these vintage and retro works can be like Twinkies: something sweet & quick to enjoy between real sustenance. And that too many (or one bad one) can hurt your teeth (from excessive grinding) &/or give you a giddy giggly high. Anyway, every now and then, I grab a pulp off the shelf and read it.

The Homicidal Virgin beckons with sex. From the back cover:

LOST INNOCENCE

Mike Shayne had been in hotel bedrooms with beautiful girls before, but this time it was different. This girl was different. She didn’t smoke, didn’t drink and she blushed.

Unfortunately, she was too good to be true. But Mike didn’t realize this until later, after she lowered her eyelids and softly confessed her one little vice — murder.

As if that tease wouldn’t lure in the usual male readership, the front teaser page promises even more…

SHAYNE WATCHED THE TWO WOMEN AT THE BAR

One was seated on the last stool against the wall. She wore a low-necked ruby-red dress and tinted Harlequin glasses that effectively concealed her eyes, but Shayne could still feel her piercing gaze.

The other had just arrived. She seemed too young to be dropping into a cocktail lounge alone. Not yet twenty, Shayne thought, with a virginal and appealing look of timidity about her.

They both wanted to talk to detective Shayne. Ruby-Red Dress had a difficult-to-believe story of a missing husband; Miss Virgin, and even more harrowing tale of sexual depravity. And the strange thing was, both stories were connected — with utter improbabilities.

Right at the moment, Shayne didn’t know which woman he had more faith in. It was almost impossible to believe that both of them had been speaking the whole truth and nothing but the truth all the way through.

As a sophisticated woman of 2009, I find the sexual stereotypes laughable. But then again, this fictional world of laughable gender roles is far preferable to the confusing oppression of the real world — of the 60’s or today. I daresay that it’s done purposefully to be somewhat comical in the man’s-man tone. (It is certainly benign — no action, and less heaving bosoms than a Harlequin novel.) So why not float in it, go with the current? Especially when you know that the book isn’t going to live up to all that pseudo sexual tension. Hell, it downright misleads with the situational placement of the women (they do not both appear in the bar to tell their stories near simultaneously). But I guess as a teaser, it works for the typical audience.

As for the rest of the plot, once you get past the simplistic sexual stereotypes, it’s believable enough. And the ending is definitely not predictable. (But the end is far too quick-wrap-up, with Shayne giving a “and that’s that” dust-off of his hands.) So as far as a detective mystery goes, it’s a-OK.

Other than the gender stereotypes, references to sedans and coupes (car terms you know but are hardly used today), there is only one other way the novel is dated. And that’s on page 18, where an “attractive colored girl” is seen down the hotel hallway, refreshingly juxtaposed with the “chubby cheeked” bag boy with a “long sharp nose” whose color is not mentioned (and so presumed colorless — or “white”), and so we’ve skipped at least a “Yessum!” stereotype of the black bag boy.

Given how sexist the rest of the book is, I was, after resettling my hackles from the “colored girl” reference, rather pleasantly surprised.

If one can forgive the brief appearance of antiquated race terms (and subtle racism created by the omission of other black characters) and laugh at the portrayal of Mike & his “babes”, it’s a sound little Twinkie of a read.

***

The Homicidal Virgin, a Mike Shayne Mystery, is credited as written by Brett Halliday, originally a pen name of Davis Dresser. I have the 1967 “New Edition” published by Dell — the original is copyrighted 1960 — but the novel was not written by Dresser because Dresser gave up writing the Shayne novels in 1958. (Bookish types can find out more about ghost writers, film & television etc. at ThrillingDectective.com.)

You can find more Mike Shayne covers by McGinnis here.

Dancing With The Stars, My Age Is Showing

Watching Dancing tonight, the results show, I saw Hall & Oates perform one of the songs from my glory days, Maneater.

Now the interesting thing, the thing is not just that I feel old because I watch the show with my kids, but because I’ve seen Hall & Oats perform live, in concerts. And I thought I’d already seen the duo’s life cycle.

But I was wrong.

The first time I’d seen the band I was 19 or 20. It was at the great party on the lake, Summerfest — back in the day when the old stage had true general seating. Not some general seating (like today on ‘the hill’, with partially obstructed views, vs. the ticket seats closer to the stage), but all the seats were general seats.

The only price you paid was your general admission to the fest (and the food and drink bill — which was no small thing, but still cheaper than it is today). The true fans, those dedicated to the principal of the fest and music, would arrive in a group at the festival park before the gates opened, and at 10 A.M., when the gates opened, rush the main stage.

There you’d scrounge for and stake-out the best seats you could get. You had to be a group because in order to keep you seats, at least a pair of you would need to sit, lounge and/or lay upon the old wooden plank seating from 10 in the morning until 7 P.M. or so when the opening act would begin their performance.

You’d guard in shifts, with other members checking back in either to take their shift at seat saving or to bring you wine coolers, beers & real brats (not the grey hotdogs many try to pass-off as bratwurst). I personally loved my seat saving duties. Despite the great number of other seat savers (and the scavengers who tried to poach seats) and music occasionally billowing by from one of the other stages, it was one of the more quiet places on the lake to actually have a conversation. Conversation, sunlight, wine coolers, music, lake breezes… What’s not to like? Oh yeah, and the inevitable run-in with old friends who spotted you on your concert seating stake-out. (Remaining in place, letting others come to you, has always been one of the best ways to be found.)

Anyway, the first time I saw Hall & Oats was at Milwaukee’s Summerfest — they were just approaching their biggest days and as a college student on the cutting edge of music at the time, it was freakin’ fantastic. Being slightly drunk on beverages, the feeling of cool night lake air caressing hot sunburned skin, the intoxicating mix of old and new friends (and lovers), and youth was topped-off by awesome music & dancing on the wooden plank benches as we scream-sung the lyrics. Hall & Oats was on fire and so was I.

But just a few short years later, or so it seemed to me, Hall & Oats was once again back at Summerfest — but this time, at one of the smaller music stages. I still went to see them & had a fantastic time. But it was a stage demotion, symbolic of their loss of cool status — and my own. No longer were any of us on fire… Smoldering, maybe; but not on fire.

I noted it, this temporary ‘hot’ status in pop culture, and how it mirrored my own fleeting popularity in our youth obsessed culture. I didn’t like it; but I accepted that this was how others would see us. They were wrong; but let them move along with their fads & fancies.

Flash forward to now. A few weeks ago, Hall & Oates appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (yes, I am old; but I’m also cool enough to have intelligence and good taste, thankyouverymuch). Their appearance may have seemed a slice of retro kitschy goodness to many — a big “Howdy” to gods from the 80’s, a decade now so “vintage” that it’s back “in” again — but to me, it was a fond remembrance. Not just of my glory days, but of my “they’re wrong, they don’t know what they’re doing” thoughts. Seeing them with Stewart wasn’t a nod from a current pop culture collegiate deity to gods that once were; it was, at least, mutual recognition of one another’s cool factor — with neither’s being over with.

Seeing the duo’s performance on Dancing tonight, with that hot Karina Smirnoff in a flaming red jumpsuit and black leg warmers, I realized that I may no longer look as hot as she did — but I once wore those leg warmers, those heels, and mesmerized audiences grooving to Maneater. My audience was smaller, my moves less professional; but by boobs were bigger and I was entertaining and cool to those who watched. Like Hall & Oates, I may not be the looker I once was, but I’m not dead. Or irrelevant.

I hope to keep seeing more of them; because, boys, every time you go away you take a piece of me with you.

How Can Any Man Love A Listless Cranky Woman?

By drugging her, I guess. At least that’s the impression I get from this vintage ad for Jayne’s Tonic Pills found inside the 1941 Jayne’s Almanac,published by Dr. D. Jayne & Son, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. (Yup, the image gets big enough to read if you click it. So click it and follow along with the class.)

Well, I guess it is just pushing iron and B-1… But still, check this out:

If your husband isn’t as attentive as he use to be; or, if you are single and the telephone never rings any more for dates, the chances are it is your own fault.

Wow. It couldn’t possibly be that hubby’s a jerk, having an affair, or secretly hiding the fact that he’s gay (maybe all three?) It couldn’t be that the guy in 2A who waits for you at the mailbox every day has cut your phone line. Nope. It’s you, babe.

Whatever men do — or don’t do — it’s your freakin’ fault. So even when you’re continually complaining about being so tired, don’t check all the facts or see a doctor — take the tonic. And like it.

Oooh, tiny, pleasant pellets, in a small handy package… Wait! Isn’t that how I got into this marriage in the first place…?

And when the iron binds your intestines tighter than a Chinese foot in a lotus-shaping shoe, just as effectively forcing you to hobble about, I’m sure Jayne will have another tonic for that.

But only take it if your hubby is unhappy with your hobbing about &/or constipation. Because if it ain’t bothering him, it just doesn’t matter.

The Great (Fashion) Taste Of Lymon

To dress with the Great Taste Of Lymon, begin with the (sub)lime

And then the lemon goes under – underpants!

I guess the lemon’s to cut the fishy taste?

Ah, it’s a joke; don’t go spraying lemon-scented Pledge in your underpants.

Then again, I don’t want to get into your polishing habits.

It’s fab when you can begin a post with a soda pop culture reference and end it with totally tasteless, err, inappropriate jokes.

The Naughty Little Clock

The amazingly cute and gay lyrics to The Naughty Little Clock:

There once was a frivolous and giddy little clock,
A little French clock very gay;
Very trim and very neat but a creature of deceit,
When you wished to know the time of day.
It’s goings on would shock
The old hall clock, Till it held up its hand aghast;
I’m sure to tell the truth, It went wrong in early youth,
Had a natural inclination to be fast.

Chorus:
Tic-toc, tic-toc, said the silly little clock,
“Oh, life in the house is slow,
So cold and grim, very dull and prim,
I’m getting run-down I know”
So she sighed all day for a life more gay,
She longed for a shady past.
This naughty little, haughty little clock, tic-toc,
That had an inclination to be fast.

“I’m quite wound up,” declared the giddy little clock,
“I’m weary of the mantel shelf;
For years I’ve had to chime to give other folks the time,
Now I’d like to have a time myself.
I’d even run away
With a gay roué,
If he’s show me the town’s great sights;
So she took up with a lamp,
And incorrigible scamp,
Who smoked and always went out nights.

Tic-toc, tic-toc, said the foolish little clock,
“Oh, won’t you elope with me?
I’m yours from today if you’ll take me away
Where something of life I’ll see.
Well, they ne’er came back and the bric-a-brac
Had scandal enough to last
In gossiping about the little clock, tic-toc,
That had an inclination to be fast.

Copyright 1899; music by Reginald De Koven, lyrics by Harry B. Smith. (My copy of the sheet music states that the copyright was assigned 1930 to Theodore Presser Co.)

The Zulu Lulu Barware Infection

Don’t hate me for wanting to get one of these Zulu Lulu swizzle stick sets — it’s just too horrific not to own if you’re into non-PC things, which I totally am. As a woman & a collector they leave such a bad taste in my mouth, I just had to own them.

I often shy away from the Black Americana (lest folks take my interest the wrong way), but sometimes, like the vintage postcards, they are literally attached to other things. These vintage swizzle sticks are not physically attached to something else, but are attached in ideology to things that make a feminist’s heart ache (or sing, if you’re into documenting such things). Along with racism, there’s sexism & ageism in these swizzle sticks.

Inside each woman’s abdomen (or uterus) is a number representing her age. As the number increases, her breasts droop, her ass grows, and her tummy bulges. She may be Nifty at 15, Spiffy at 20, Sizzling at 25, and even (despite the nipple pointing downwards) Perky at 30 — but she’s Declining at 35, Droopy at 40, and I guess women look so bad after 40 that there’s no sense in making a swizzle stick. (There are rumors that there’s another set of swizzle sticks with Zulu Lulus at 50 and 60 years of age; but I’ve never seen them.)

While the messages of these vintage barware pieces are more transparent than the brown plastic they are made from, the promotional holder is more pointed than those plastic swords used to skewer cherries, reminding everyone every woman just what men think of them:

Don’t pity Lulu – you’re not getting younger yourself…laugh with your guests when they find these hilarious swizzle sticks in their drinks. ZULU-LULU will be the most popular girl at your party!

There’s so much sexism, racism & ageism in these swizzle sticks that it had to ooze out into the drinks being served and from there, infect all those at the party. I guess that’s why your guests would “‘bust’ out laughing”.

Today, we’d bust out in tears; or just spontaneously combust.

Cross-Eyed Ape Joke Still Works After All These Years

I paid 50 cents for this fragile old piece of paper mocking a woman for the way she dresses. (At first glance, I was certain it was mocking the man; but the ape proffers a red dress with white hearts.) I’m not sure why I had to have it; but I did.

when you walk by
people GAPE
who picks your clothes
a CROSS-EYED APE?

It’s funny, in that simple childlike rhyming playground mockery sort of a way.  And I just love the illustration.  Certainly someone saved it all these years — charmed by it for all the reasons I am.  But I have no idea what this fragile piece of old paper is supposed to be…

Was it a page in a book?  While there’s no printing on the reverse, it’s possible; sometimes illustrations (especially those with color) had single pages to themselves (these are called “plates”).

If it comes from a book, what was the book about?  Just a silly joke book?  Or was it a silly page illustrating one point in the text?

Were there more pages like this?

Did the original owner find the page loose and save it?  Or did they tear it out themselves?

Or maybe it’s not from a book at all.  Only the right edge of the paper seems to be without nibbles, cuts and other imperfections — suggesting this is not the original size.  Maybe it was an advertising or promotional piece… Some sort of flyer, an advertising circular, whose product &/or company name have been cut away by an original owner who liked the joke &/or illustration.

Then again, there’s all those hearts… Was this some sort of Valentine’s Day themed thing?

Since there is nothing else on the paper to identify it, no artist credit, date or other copyright or publishing credit, I may never know what this paper was originally intended to do or where it comes from.  But, like the heavy crease lines from folding which have begun to tear, it doesn’t decrease the value to me.  Not just the 50 cents I paid or even the thrill of research to figure it all out (I am geeky like that), but the fun of looking at it.  The joke still works, after all these years.

Bridal Madness: Vintage Bridal & Baby Shower Party Plans

(Thursday Thirteen header by Jenn.)

Are a lot of your friends announcing engagements, getting married and having the stork visit — so many, that you’re running out of party ideas and ways to celebrate? Here are 13 vintage ideas, loaded with kitsch and just begging you to use them, maybe even update them a bit…

Remember — all the images get much much larger when you click them — so read away!

1. How To Tell The Secret, aka bridal announcement ideas, from The Bride’s Party Book, published by Dennison. Some of these may be tweaked to fit other announcements — or even used to invite guests to the next event.

2. The next few bits come from Bridal Shower Party Games, “For As Many As 20 Guests” (presumably because it originally had 20 copies of each of the game sheets), Leister Game Company, Toledo, Ohio, (N-1400). The company is still around (but the site isn’t working — or they did just perish — so some links are to Goggle cache).

Inside the front cover, ads for baby & bridal party games and products. The company has gotten racier since then; now they have “Naughty Bingo” and “Condom Blow Jobs”. So you may prefer the quaint & corny vintage Leister games.

Anyway…

One of the party games is Card Pass — “a relay race that’s a little daisy!”

Totally believe you should open a brand new pack of playing cards for this; you don’t know where the hands of previous card holders have been and you’ll be sticking them in your mouth. :shudder:

3. A game called Lucky Pairs:

4. Want-Ad Marriage (which, by the way, is also a fun game to play on girls’ night — having you write each other’s ads):

5. Variation Mystery Feelers

(Don’t know about you, but I don’t want any of the objects back — they’ll be covered in toe-jam!)

6. A Game Of Pairs


(I could be crazy, but didn’t we just do that?)

7. This next one is a fill-in-the-blank game — but don’t get excited thinking it’s a Mad-Lib; it’s a geography quiz. You fill in the blanks of the Honeymoon Trip.

Sadly, the answers were on the back cover which has been cut; so you’ll have to figure out some of these by yourself. (Treat it like a test — like you have to be this smart to get married.)

8. This next one, Wedding Spell, is some twisted spelling bingo thing. Too complicated for me these instructions are. May Yoda help me.

9. Back to the Dennison’s book again…

This time, it’s the bride who gives a party (and isn’t it about time!)

I love the sweet-kitschy-goodness of making these little dolls with faces cut from magazines — I totally want to do this for other parties (but that could be another list of 13…)

And the legal team wants me to tell you not to stuff the cuff party favor with cigs; totally not healthy or PC, you know.

I’m totally skipping the wedding day stuff; I’m certain your bride is not going to let you make crepe paper couple centerpieces. Or crepe paper anything. That doesn’t make her Bridezilla either; she just doesn’t want the kitsch enshrined forever in photos on the in-laws mantle.

(If, for some reason, you need these crepe paper frights delights, let me know.)

10. “There Went The Bride” is “A Mock Wedding for Your Anniversary Celebration” — complete with kitsch skit.

Highlights include:

The bride “as seen by her future mother-in-law — carries rolling pin decorated with flowers”.

The clergyman begins the ceremony with, “Dear Friends, we are gathered here before this congregation of fellow sufferers to join this headstrong couple with the shackles of matrimony. If anyone present can show just cause why this painful ceremony should never take place — for heaven’s sake — speak up — tomorrow may be too late!”

The groom, repeating after the clergyman, vows: “I ____ take thee ____ for my duly wedded wife, to hold, if I have to, from this day forward, in spite of your ceaseless conversation, your unappetizing cooking, your nagging and complaining, your silly girl friends and willful spending — until death do us liberate.”

The bride, repeating after the clergyman, vows: “I ____ take thee ____ for my duly wedded husband, to hold if I have to, to tolerate your black cigars, to laugh at your corny jokes, to clean up after your poker parties, to balance on your budget, until death do us liberate!”

It’s not just me who sees the bitter irony in these two sets of vows… Is it?

Well, at least the ceremony ends with handcuffs… :wink:

11-13 First comes love, then comes marriage — and if you make it through the mock wedding anniversary celebration — next comes your friend with a baby carriage. Some announcements for the new arrival:

Upon My Sole! Announcements with a shoe theme
Non-Stop Flight Announcement has a flying stork theme
The Family Tree is an announcement stretching things — using a hat rack?
Ship’s Log has a nautical theme.

All the patterns for these baby announcements are found on page 24 and the scan is here:

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here

It’s 1936: How Badly Do You Want To Be In Moving Pictures?

So you want to be a glamorous Hollywood star, hmm? Well, it’s time to get beautiful, baby!

Have a few extra pounds, but exercise is leaving you without your pep? Did dieting only take the weight off of your face and neck, leaving you feeling irritable and looking like a scarecrow? Did diet pills take too much weight off, leaving you without your feminine curves? What’s a woman to do?!

Well, if it was 1936, you’d have The Roving Reporter to help you. But then, she’d be stuffing you into a girdle. Like a sausage maybe even.

Apparently it takes a long time to get you into this girdle; you have 10 days to lose 3 inches — or is that 3 pounds in 10 days? The ad states both… Maybe that’s the way around the money-back offer; confusion.

The good news is that the Perfolastic Girdle also massages you. I can’t imagine how… Damn, now I can’t stop imagining it. Ack!

Meanwhile, as your nether-regions sweat it out, your hair is breezing through life.

In that same 1936 issue of True Confessions, an ad for the “Air-Conditioned” Hollywood Rapid Dry Curler:

Hollywood stars like Jane Hamilton fawn over these curlers — likely that’s what they used to set their hair (while sitting in girdles), preparing for a chance to get in the movies. Which is exactly what the next ad from this vintage magazine is about.

Hey, little girl, step into my truck and I’ll make you a star!

Super Bonus Points for the talent truck to be sponsored by The Hump Hairpin Mfg. Co. (makers of Hold-Bob bobbypins).

My mom would totally kick my ass if I went near that truck.