Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Invite The Gang Over For An Old-Fashioned Automobile Party

From invitations and decorations, to party games and activities such as the recharging batteries game (in which women spoon-feed men an entire glass of water), a "Ford" stunt and Mason jar "Blow Out" game, The Social Hour section of the The Royal Neighbor (October, 1932) has you covered.

There's even menu ideas such as "Hot Gas" (hot chocolate) and "Extra Tires" (donuts) -- which surely will lead to the more popular spare tires about the midsection.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Make Shadow Puppets With Deaf-Mute People

The back cover of this vintage "manual" from the National Deaf-Mute Sales Co. reminds you to "Be the life of the party. Show it to your friends, etc." by learning how to make these shadow pictures.

While this may be fun, the inside section contains "facts about deaf-mutes" -- which warns you not to "let noise shorten your life." (I guess the National Deaf-Mute Sales Co. wouldn't exactly be sorry to learn of your hearing loss... but death would impact their sales.)

Here are startling new facts. The din in your life. Here is a list of the seven worst noise makers:
But if you were hoping for a list of vintage New Years noisemakers, the list is far less kitsch-nostalgic:
1. Traffic.
2. Trains, planes.
3. Radios, television sets.
(Thank heavens we can now avoid such dangerous modern entertainment and make shadow pictures!)
4. Whistles, bells.
5. Constructions.
6. Loud voices.
7. Barking dogs.
So don't let barking dogs shorten your life!

Below, the front cover of this vintage booklet:

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Real Collector's Swap Event

Our family interviewed to be cast for ABC Family's Wife Swap.

But after a few long talks, we decided that we weren't a good fit for the show. Not only do we have a crazy family dynamic but the requirement to forgo being on any other television show for 18 months would then limit our pursuit of more educational projects, such as my work with domestic violence, special needs, and history/culture issues.

(Plus, while we don't mind laughing at or being laughed at especially regarding our collecting habits, we* aren't exactly loud exhibitionists.)

However, if you belong to a family of collectors and welcome the chance to participate in this social experiment called reality television (for financial honorarium too!), check out the casting call and then contact Matthew McLaughlin at matthew.mclaughlin@castingrdf.com ASAP. Don't forget to tell him that Deanna from Collectors' Quest sent you!

* When I say "we aren't exactly loud exhibitionists", I mean some of us are :cough-Me: and some of us aren't :cough-Him:

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Such A Hoot To Be A Socialite In Nineteen-Ought-Two

The New York Times, August 31, 1902, reports society affairs -- including society women dressing up as flowers and Mr. Goodrich portraying a Chinaman on a package of tea.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

This Is How The World's Greatest Entertainer Gets Into His Car

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Kitschy Kitschy Coo-Coo!

Find out more about my 1920's game of stunts -- and see more images too.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe

I'm re-running* this review of The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe because I need to; I'll explain at the end. Really. (Those of you who care to read that far shall be rewarded.)

Marilyn Monroe is a true icon, a legend with a myth that continues to grow long after her death. So much as been written about her that's she's become not only a sex symbol but a symbol for nearly anything else. We dehumanize her so that we may (ironically) personalize our cultural views regarding sexuality, feminism, relationships, media and more. She is used to illustrate, prove and feed our theories.

She's become not a person but an image, an icon -- a cliche.

The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe More books have been written about Monroe than any other entertainer, some guessing over 600 books ~ with new releases each year. Yet with all these books promising to reveal the "real Marilyn" avid readers like myself find ourselves doing nothing but covering the same old ground and learning nothing new. These new works do nothing to provide new information.

Enter Sarah Churchwell's The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe.

This is the ultimate cohesive look at most (if not all) that has been written about Marilyn, right down to reviewer comments at Amazon for these books, and what is shown is not only the legend of Marilyn and how she's been used, but our response and ability to perpetuate the myths as well.

In all these biographies there is a claim to uncover, to bare, to finally provide the ultimate answers; but they really only succeed in rehashing, guessing, and projecting. (In some cases, it's outright fiction.) Churchwell doesn't pretend to know or intend to show us the real Marilyn. Instead she gives us the reasons why we'll likely never know more than we do -- and it's not necessarily due to some government cover-up either.

As Churchwell explains, part of the reason the myth continues to grow is due to the dichotomies of Marilyn Monroe. Is she real or fake? Objectified or manipulative? Marilyn Monroe or Norma Jeane? Sweet or mean, beautiful or ugly, weak or strong, known and unknown... The list is long and growing. And these splits are what fascinate so many. Each book (and it's place in the collective literature contradicting other works) only adds more 'proof' of these splits, further establishing the mystery. And so the myth grows.

In part, Churchwell shows us, this is due to the biographers themselves. Each brings their own motivations, point of view and convictions to their biographies. Churchwell shows us not only how Marilyn's been used to prove or lay foundations for theories (from feminism to conspiracy theories) but how she's been both the fantasy and the truth denied. She's the object of personal projections and cultural convictions. All these dichotomies and questions can be synthesized through the body and person of Marilyn Monore; taking her humanity out of the legend, placing our own within.

Along with the many lives of Marilyn we are given the many needs of authors and an introspective on the writing of biographies (and autobiographies are not exempt!) But we are culpable as well. Not only as the buyers of the books, but we the adoring public have our own projections and beliefs. Our minds are made up and we are only too happy to kill the messenger who brings a different argument about 'our Marilyn'. (This is shown in Churchwell's book via the responses and reviews to previously published works about Monroe and the examples of biographer bickering & litigation.)

What may have begun as a love of a woman has clearly become a fixation on what she symbolizes to us. Like a religion (and Churchwell does use the word apocrypha to describe the volumes written), Marilyn is our goddess (good or evil) and woe to those who dare screw with our ideology -- even if with facts.

What's most impressive about this work is the transformation which occurs. As you read, you move Monroe from some 'thing' for our cultural and personal needs, to if not fully human at least considering the possibility that she was a complicated living human being which cannot not easily be understood from the fragments of her life which remain. Once we begin to see that she's not so easily characterized for our 'needs', to be made to symbolize our cultural or personal issues, we then need to look at why we -- readers and society at large -- do this.

We are not completely dehumanized (as we've done to Marilyn) but we certainly have to take a look at ourselves as a swarming mass of millions -- and as individuals. What is this compulsion to make Marilyn something? Why do we not see how dehumanizing our process is? Why is our quest &/or belief system more important than the person we profess to love?

We must now see ourselves moving from lover to stalker; our jealous perceptions of what others may know or say wounds us as if she had cheated on us in real life. She is our goddess, and we own her.

If the biographers have motives so do we the readers and fans who purchase nearly anything with her image on it. There's no denying that we have dehumanized Marilyn Monroe (yes, even little Norma Jeane too) even as we've placed her among our pop culture deities and cultural icons.

At the end of Churchwell's book die-hard fans may not know much more about Marilyn Monroe the woman and why she died -- and many of you may not like to see the faulty reasoning and weak proof that your favorite biographers have produced. But you should come closer to glimpsing the real human who was Marilyn Monroe.

And you sure as hell will learn a lot more about the culture we live in and the woman (person) you are.

A must have for every Marilyn Monroe fan, student of culture, and biography readers/writers.

Originally when I finished this book I put myself on Monroe Prohibition. At least as far as books go. I had to. While I might not have felt quite as concerned about the ghost of Marilyn (NWS - no kids), I was worried about being "part of the giant machine which feeds off of her -- dead or alive." I figured I should show a soul, if not a collecting spine; but then I discovered Eve Arnold & her book, and I'm weakening...

* This review was previously run on a smutty site (NWS), here (NWS - no kids).

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Retro Manners Refresher

(The First) Thirteen Comments On Social Awareness Tips
"From Refresh Your Table Manners", by Luella Cuming, 1964 Family Circle.

1-5 Rules for informal meals:
At an informal seated meal the hostess may pass dishes from a serving cart at her immediate left; she then serves herself last.
Jeeze, I'd hate to see the formal rules. What direction does the hostess pass? Does it suck to be left-handed then, and if so, does it suck more than serving yourself last when you know there's not going to be enough because the husband brought home 3 extra buddies?
The cart holds a water pitcher, extra silver, glasses, napkins, and any other items that may be needed during the meal. If an item is dropped by a guest, the hostess replaces it from the cart without comment.
Without comment you say... That would kill quite a bit of dinner conversation, wouldn't it? And in my family, we'd drop 'em on purpose, just to force a comment.
If you drop your fork and the hostess doesn't notice, you may use any other fork that is there -- or, without explanation, say to your hostess, "May I please have a fork?"
I agree; if the hostess doesn't notice you (how rude!), by all means, grab the meat serving fork and start shoveling.

Ever notice how the lowly spoon and knife are left out of the discussion? I'd say 67% of all utensils dropped at the table are knives.

Or maybe it's some sort of passive-aggressive thing in my family and the knives aren't really 'dropped' at all...

Movin' on...

6 Passing Food
When you help yourself to food or pass it, hold the dish from underneath so that you do not leave fingerprints on the rim.
(Will keep this PG-13. Will keep this PG-13...)

7 Hey, look, the etiquette lady apparently doesn't believe in grammar; there is no period or other punctuation at the end of most of these tips.

8-10 Yeah, Luella is only on tip number 3, but then I told you that this was 13 comments on the tips; so I'm way ahead of her.

In buffet dining, the hostess stands beside the table and encourages shy guests or offers to serve them.
You have guests too shy to eat? Isn't this one of those survival of the fittest things where we should just let nature take its course?

And what side does the hostess stand on?
Do not overload your plate; it looks unattractive and is hard to manage.
Was this 1964 B.C. -- Before Chinet?

This, though, would explain the shy people who wonder how much food on a plate is unattractive.

11-13 And now for your holy crap moment...
In table manners there are many accepted forms, all equally correct. For example, the continental fashion of eating
The continental fashion of eating? That's how people eat breakfast at hotels, right?
and the zigzag style are equally proper.
Um... Time for a little help here.

OK, I do not zigzag; I am officially a continental styled gal.
If you have your own tradition, try to develop its fine points. The suggestions here are in a widely accepted American tradition
What? No mention of how piggy eats?! Well, I guess that American tradition -- or at least its finer points -- really didn't come into full acceptance until Ralphie's brother Randy showed us in a Christmas Story in 1983.

To be continued...

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Friday, February 29, 2008

High-Five Fridays #7

1) A high-five to Mute Mondays, because I'd forgotten how fun they can be.

2) Humor-Blogs has funnier people and posts than we do. Or so I am told. (What do I care about 'funny' when I can be 'snarky' and 'interesting, even, occasionally, 'clever' and 'witty'.)

3) Brocante gets a general high-five for general goodness.

The next two each get a general high-five for, um, general badness -- but in the most delicious of ways!

4) Stinky Lulu, for the mocking of and marveling at movie madness, including a special focus on supporting actresses. Via Silent Porn Star * (The *, I remind you, is for 'possible nudity' -- which with 'porn' in the name, you should already know; but there, I've warned you.)

5) No Smoking in the Skull Cave has appeared at KKC before, but it's chock full of vintage pop culture vitamins -- which surprisingly, get more potent with age -- and worthy of another celebratory slap.

Want to give high-fives too? Participation is a lot like Thursday Thirteen, only your post is links to who and what you like. (Plus, it's only 5 instead of 13!)

Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lady, Lady, Lady: It's All For You

Hearkening back to a time when a show was a show and a broad was a broad, LADY, LADY, LADY: "It's All For You" is a high-octane homage to the female-fronted music-variety television specials of the 1960s. Three unique lady vocalists, Yana Chupenko, Angela DiCarlo and Lizzy Yoder, are the Valkyries at the center of the storm, and will present a combination of original songs and old favorites, with comic transitions, glamorous costume changes and electrifying man dancers. Directed by Adam Dugas, LADY, LADY, LADY is an evening of explosive visual and vocal entertainment that will leave audiences shivering with delight.

November 18, 2007, at The Zipper Factory.

For more info on the the performers and the performance, see Broadwayworld.com.

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