Monday, March 16, 2009

A Comic Male Quartette

Get the lyrics to Ham & Eggs, by John Martin (arranged by Fred K. Huffer), 1917; I hear tell it's a great encore!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year? Not-So-Much

Can't you just hear him saying something like, "Gee, honey, I'd love to help; but you know how clumsy I am in the kitchen... You'd probably be happier if you just took care of this by yourself."

1960 New Years illustration via Flickr.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Modern Woman Monday: A Margaret Sanger Rhyme

Found in the February 22, 1941 issue of Liberty, a bemusing note sent in from a reader regarding Margaret Sanger:

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Mrs. Alexander's Advice To Negro Youth

In 1948, this was a nicer way to say, "Don't be uppity!"

Sadie T. M. Alexander comic page via University of Pennsylvania Archives.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

13 Funky Images & Kitschy Phrases From A Vintage Dry Cleaning Booklet

13 Funky Images & Kitschy Phrases From A Vintage Dry Cleaning Booklet
(And It's Cooler Than You Think!)

All images & quotes are from the November 1953 issue of Silhouette, a promotional paper pushing (surprise!) dry cleaning.


2) Two For Dreaming was a feature on holiday gowns.

3) It features a poetry-jam which romanticizes fashion as it eroticizes & enslaves women:
It starts with Thanksgiving... the party nights that are strung like glittering jewels on a chain... ending only when the echoes of the New Year have faded to silvery whispers. You will spin across polished floors--the answer to someone's most intimate dreams--in the timeless femininity of a beautiful ball dress. You will choose white for its kinship to new-fallen snow... or pale blue for tis affinity to a wintry scene. And you will see that your lovely gown does things for you... like moulding your bodice with a tempter's touch... whirling your skirt for the grace of the dance... making you the most distinguished memory a man can know.
Damn, that's hot. So hot that I don't really register all the "you will" commands as I am brainwashed into wanting a beautiful ball gown... and to polish those floors. Just to be the answer to someone's most intimate dreams!

I will choose white.

Or pale blue. I haven't quite decided yet.

But then there are other choices.

4) Like what to do about fur... It's a VIP (very important pelt), and even if I go faux, there are many things to consider. Like which ones are kindest to my dry cleaner. Thank goodness I can read Fashion Moves Furward for some help. (And more puns!)


6) In Hair Today... Glamour Tomorrow, by Eleanor Page Hamilton, I get more than the usual tips for setting curls and figuring out how to part my hair for my face shape -- I get this gem:
Arthur "Bugs" Baer -- and I quote -- says, "Nothing drabbles a doll more than soggy bangs." He claims he knows a gal who has such a neurosis about this that she wears a rubber bathing cap whenever she makes cocktails. Okay, so maybe she is a character!
I can't possibly add anything to that. Really. Just feel free to work all of that into conversation at your Fourth of July celebrations.


8) From The Top Drawer includes this bit of knowledge:
Department Of Nothing New: Feminine witchery in the form of knee-hugging breeches is just another steal from the masculine world. In case you care, men of distinction wore tight-laced knee pants, call culottes, in 1735.
Son of a breech! Did this publication aimed at women just accuse the very same of witchery & pantsing men?

Please return to the tempter's touch...


10) On Your Feet continues the puns and enlightens us regarding shoes. The top shoe there, the 'golden sandals' (as if we can see that in black & white), were designed for "the glamorous Queen Elizabeth". You don't hear that phrase much anymore.

11) In Permanent Reminders we learn to employ pipe cleaners to catch the "short wisps at the nape of your neck" when giving yourself a home permanent.

Huh. Dames and dolls were to use the professional services of a dry cleaner, but eschew those of the professional salon.


13) King Cord. It's no joke.
No wonder the touch of corduroy is like a gentle kiss on the fingertips -- it once was the rainment of royalty. It originated in the court of France and became known as cord du roi -- cord of kings.
The idea of an entire royal court swoosh-swoosh-swooshing from corduroy is hysterical. Especially the French.

Did they also invent the pearlized snap for shirts? That goes great with cords.

The End.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Poor 1930s Wife


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

I'm guessing I did this well due to the number of economical questions and the number of children. It certainly had nothing to do with any of the cooking or domestic skills; and in "keeping mouth shut" & "risque jokes" I likely did even worse.

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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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Monday, March 31, 2008

The Anti-Modern Woman Monday Post

In 1931 "M.C." sent a letter to the editor of The New York Times, 'respectfully' suggesting that "the militant suffrage movement, now on the rampage in England, be referred to as 'The Reign of Error'."

Via Silent Porn Star (NWS).

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just Like A Man -- And A Woman

Just Like A Man was a Family Circle column by Byron Fish; the following appeared in the November 1964 issue of the magazine.

A boy can't learn too soon that in math, as in most subjects, there is a male and a female way to work things out. After a lesson in feminine-gender arithmetic my son figures that when it comes to higher powers of reasoning, men are squares.
First up, gender punctuation:

"You are inquiring into a mystery unsolved by man. From the time a female learns to write, she is convinced that exclamation points were invented to be used. She even feels they will go to waste unless they are put into sentences."
That's so not true!!

Regarding ellipsis...

The boy asks, "How about those dots in there?"

The father responds:
Dots sometimes are used for a specific purpose in the neuter, or masculine, gender. If you find a long row of them apparently just thrown in, they are feminine gender."
My husband would have a field day with this... He abhors my continual use of ellipsis...

I, in return, must counter by pointing out that this article is proof that everything is considered masculine unless noted as feminine (and that feminine is lower in status). I'm just sayin'...

"Men teachers probably are told during their training to allow for the more complicated punctuation by girl pupils." :sigh: I suppose I should just be happy there was no mention of retarded or intolerant women teachers.

Then again... no mention of female teachers is rather sexist -- I mean, "It's rather sexist!"

Now we move onto gender in 'rithmetic.

The boy gets the correct answer, but dad makes an ambiguous statement...

So dad needs to explain female math.

"Particularly if he is married." Yuck it up, Byron.

Oh, and it all ends with a cute little story of the little woman besting "daddy". How quaint.


If you'd prefer to read the column in its entirety as it appeared:

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

"You're not beautiful, you're not bright, but you're as much wife as a man could want."

From the back cover of Claudia, by Rose Franken; cover painting by Bob Abbett. Via Flickr.

Interesting note: No matter what this book suggests, Pyramid Books did not get their name from piles of poo (as in 'the puppy left a pyramid in the corner').

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Modern Woman Monday: No, You Can't Be An FBI Agent

Today's Modern Woman Monday comes from that November 1957 issue Good Housekeeping, which begins:
Although no woman can be an actual "FBI Special Agent," there are some 5,000 of them doing the bulk of the technical and clerical work that helps catch criminals: searching indexes, preparing laboratory reports, and reviewing files.
How -- sucky.

Click the pic to read a larger scan of Jobs for Women in the FBI.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Date Line, 1957

Thirteen Points Along "The Date Line"

The Date Line: Facts & Fancies for the Girl in School, by Jan Landon, as it appeared in the November 1957 issue of Good Housekeeping.

#1 Boys in bottles.

Boys in bottles are a flash fad in Kansas... to get a pickled effect like this, girls back the picture with cardboard, brace them with clothes-hanger wire, and float them in colored water... others just paste glossy prints inside the bottle with rubber cement -- either way is pretty eerie while it lasts.
Ya think?Amazingly, the photo of a bottled-boy is credited to Dare Wright. (I have a huge crush on Dare Wright and her works-- so does Slippity-Do-Da.)

#2 All the, er, cool girls are doin' it...

That outgrown game, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, is roaring back in a new Southern version" "Pin-the-sideburn-on-Elvis." !.....
I wonder if it continued with fat-Elvis too? Girls in the south, who were learning to deep-fat-fry any and all foods, must have continued to love Fat Elvis, right?

#3 I don't think I've ever been so embarrassed to be from Wisconsin...

In Wisconsin they say the girl's "got him drafted" when the boy's hooked...
How cheesy.

#4 I'm beginning to suspect this groovy knowledge isn't for "the girl in school", but for her parents... Like some sort of "how to understand your teenager" and "learn the lingo" advice column.

"It's been a hunk of heaven, but I think I'll jump for earth," means the party, evening, or romance is over.
#5 Of course, every school girl wants to know how the ultra glam college girls are wearing their sweaters...

#6 For the cool girl in school, tips on making an autograph belt. Ingredients are as simple as the sideburn-pinning-girls are: a plain, wide leather belt and press-on gold-leaf.

Next they giveth, then taketh... A crafty idea and then an equally crafty insult.

#7 First a DIY tip for using clothesline rope, painted in bright enamel paint to make "un-run-of-the-mill" necklaces for "medallions". Take that crafty tip and choke on it.

#8 Don't like that insult? How about this insult then: "Your mother must have bought you with green stamps!" It is the latest insult. (It may seem weird for a ladies' magazine to give insult tips -- but what sort of person actually takes such advice?)

#9 This next one makes me feel better about being a cheesy Wisconsin girl; at least I'm not from Texas.
Every rooter pops a blown-up paper bag at the kick-off of special games at Amarillo High, Texas

#10 But still, Texas girls are less icky than these girls...
Right after the Chicopee High, Mass., teams wins a big game, girls beg boys for, of all things, the chin straps of their football helmets... straps are prized collectors' items, hung like trophies on bedroom walls.
Hey, don't say, "Of all things," because heaven knows a sweaty chin strap worn by a pimply lad is leagues better than other straps -- begged for or not.

#11 This next bit features "grab-bag evenings", heh heh. Oh wait -- it's not quite the snarky fun it sounds like... The 'grab-bags' aren't ugly girls after all.

"Grab-bag evenings" eliminate squables on group dates in St. Louis... instead of arguing about restaurants and movies, they put ads of all possible choices in two boxes, one for movies, one for restaurants -- everybody goes to the spots drawn by a blindfolded girl.
And that's how Muffy ended up blindfolded in the back of Dale's dad's Buick. Honest.

#12 Little black books weren't enough...

"Fix-up files" are made by Midwest girls to simplify arranging blind dates... they're wallet albums of their girl friends' pictures with statistics and interests listed on the back for the benefit of inquiring boys...
Those 1957 Midwest girls were slutty, pimping their friends; I feel even prouder now.

#13 More fashion advice you need to take -- like a slap in the face:

#14 Yup, a bonus.

An endearing twist in envelope inscriptions is being revived in the Midwest... on letters to girls, boys add a phrase above the address so that it reads like this:

Oh, how I
Miss Sandra Smith
64 Middlefield Rd.
etc., etc.,
Gawd, no wonder those boys needed help soliciting dates.

Then again, maybe that "Oh, how I" was code for something.

#15 Don't complain -- you need more tips on how to understand what your peers are saying to you:

"Face in the crowd" is new for someone who'll pass with a shove...
I need that translated, actually.
If you have "the rare disease," you haven't had a date for ages.
No comment. Hubby makes me keep this PG-13 and I think that line is rife with enough innuendo as it is.

Well, as the cook kids say, it's been a hunk of heaven but I think I'll jump for earth now.

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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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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cute As A Bug

If you're not, your parents will force you to be by making you participate in the beauty rituals of the times.

Cuz let's face it; this little Beautybyg hairdryer, with all its appliques, isn't for the kid to enjoy -- it's to make it more fun for the parents who will have to put the effort into shaping and molding their little girl into the perfect beauty they -- and society -- will love.

And even if she remains ugly, well, at least the parents can prove they did everything they could.

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