Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Stands on Her Own… Literally!

Friday, August 24th, 2012

I’m not sure how effectively she would balance the budget if she’s buying sunglasses for her dog, but I’d feel better about the future of my reproductive rights.

Ye Olde Car Ad

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The Most “Real” Doll

Monday, March 21st, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact on UsThe Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“She’s just too unreal. How do you bond with something that looks like a taffy pull with a face?” writes LA Times journalist and feminist Patt Morrison.

Imagination. Must we sacrifice that in order to stand up for our rights to equality?

Like many girls, I played with barbies as a child, and as the creator (Ruth Handler, a dark-haired Jew) intended, it was all about the clothes. The hourglass figures mimicked the mannequins in store windows because this shrewd businesswoman wasn’t going to make money selling dolls. She was going to make money selling the millions of possibilities you could provide for the dolls (through the right fashions, accessories, and big-ticket dream houses, horses, and hears–well, I’m getting ahead of myself).

You could make Barbie do anything, and the discussion touches on Barbie’s many careers and nationalities. A few studies are mentioned pertaining to how closely young girls align their sense of self with the dolls they chose to play with and how they played with them. There are happy memories of sewing with Grandma, and there are ruthless memories of cutting off their hair and setting them on fire.

The book also notes that some girls dress and play with their dolls as an indication of what they will become. Some girls played school, some played doctor. My dolls cruised Barbietown (i.e., the kids’ half of the basement) in hot cars and met up with their friends. Sometimes they went on vacations to exotic destinations such as Hawaii and Tulsa. Their clothes were all over the map: some expensive, some functional, some vintage (thanks, Mom), and some homemade.

A quick mental recount of my last dozen years as an adult reveals there may be some truth to this. Yes, it would appear I was made to aimlessly roam the earth and wear clothes. It’s not such a bad existence, and it is self-funded. But was I to rely on a doll to teach me that, or might I have received some outside influence on matters dealing with my finances and career? I don’t know… I played with barbies a lot.

As the author discusses Barbie’s history and her impact on society, she raises the typical questions of female equality and self-image that accompany any discussion of this 50-year-old blond, busty icon. The book also (sort of) goes into the question of whether Barbie is real (i.e., whether children see her as real). Is her glamorous image attainable? Should it be?

Although the book doesn’t go in-depth, the author supplies nearly equal coverage of Barbie fans and Barbie critics. The previous quote appeared both in the book and in an article published several years ago entitled Kill Barbie. As an aside, I agree with most of what Morrison writes and enjoy her style, but she seems a little too mad to be cited in anything more serious than this fun little book and my quick-turn review of it.

Rather than launch a tirade of insults at what she dismisses as a lump of cold plastic, why not find a creative way to expose Barbie and the pitfalls of being plastic? After all, we girls can do anything.

Margaux Lange made a line of fantastic jewelry from dismembered Barbie parts. Andy Warhol and other artists paid pictoral homage to the Barbie mystique. Someone even made a life-size, Barbie-themed funeral coach ready to haul Barbie away whenever she finally dies. How awesome is that? (Of course, I may be a little biased.)

The book started to drag with Chapter 7’s collection of girls (and a few boys) recounting the awful ways they would abuse their dolls and place them in compromising sexual positions. We all did this stuff, or had friends who did, but devoting a whole chapter to it was excessive. It briefly shed some light on yet another talking point in the argument of whether Barbie is “real”.

There was one story of a little girl who scared her parents when they found she was regularly popping the heads off of her dolls. Did it mean she had a taste for violence? Was she silently protesting this difficult to attain model of perfection? Not even a little bit. She found it was much easier to change their clothes with their heads detached.

Whether you adore Barbie or hate everything about her bleach-blond hair down to her painfully arched feet, I think the worst you can do for yourself is take her too seriously. While she enjoyed a rise to fame in her earlier years, the information age has busted the toy market wide open and kids these days aren’t playing the same way they did 20, or 50, years ago. As mentioned in the book (and this can’t be stressed enough), there are many factors that influence a young girl’s self image. Whether her parents buy her a doll is one tiny fraction of their overall treatment of her which will define her attitudes about herself and others.

People were up in arms about Black Barbie, Asian Barbie, Hispanic Barbie, etc., claiming she’s not a true representation of that race. That’s about as silly as me complaining that regular Barbie doesn’t look like me. (Although I will deliver a swift kick in the face to anyone who says I should look like her.) Barbie and Mattel didn’t sign up to be public servants. They made a toy to be played with, not a culture to be emulated.

No matter what you do, someone isn’t going to like it. Or they’re going to think they don’t like it because they misunderstand it. So maybe in a way, Barbie is a lot like most young girls: misunderstood… but with cooler stuff.

Read all my reviews

New Babe on the Blogroll

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

Before this hits my inbox yet again, I thought I’d share the dark, sexy, sometimes humorous photography of Mariel Clayton. She also has some great stuff for sale here. I left her online store with this card, which I’ll promptly send out to a good friend in Austin whose ken wasn’t all he was cracked up to be:

I sent the photographer some fan mail and she quickly replied in kind. What a doll! Let’s hope she gets to keep her head longer than most of her subjects.

I Want to Believe

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

In response to a Midwestern reverend’s Episcopal Minister Barbie, a clever left-leaning blogger created Atheist Barbie for our amusement. These days, the notion of being godless isn’t shocking enough; we need a children’s toy in its panties to really drive the point home.

Atheist Barbie

In my opinion (which I’m sure you’re all dying to know), both dolls are excessive displays of religious agenda. However, religions and their opposing skeptics wouldn’t exist if they weren’t backed by creative passion, so as long as it’s in good fun and no one’s forcing a tithe, I’m cool with them. This living doll on wheels DOES believe in a higher power, but it’s going to take more than a lump of molded plastic and a slew of tiny accessories to communicate it.

While I get right on that (not really), apropos of nothing, here’s a cute poem that came up in a search for a doll that (thankfully) no one has attempted to create yet.

Buddhist Barbie
by Denise Duhamel

In the 5th century B.C.
an Indian philosopher
Gautama teaches “All is emptiness”
and “There is no self.”
In the 20th century A.D.
Barbie agrees, but wonders how a man
with such a belly could pose,
smiling, and without a shirt.

What, No Girlie Limo Driver Barbie?

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Then they could have sold a doll AND a scaled-down replica of the Barbie Dream Hearse!

Meet Barbie the Computer Engineer

I like that she’s finally entering an industry that exploded a couple decades ago, but does this mean we’ll have to wait as long for her to burn out on tech jobs and start her own business?

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I spent the night in Sacramento in a way-too-expensive hotel at the last minute. I don’t know what I thought would happen. It gets harder and harder to plan things these days, it seems. My main concern was finding a place with a decent-sized parking garage so my car would be safe. I’ve had the car for less than a day, and it would be just my luck for something ridiculous to happen.

I’m happy to report that so far, it’s all good. I was able to meet up with my friend Janet and drive her around town before heading northbound. Is it ironic that the first passenger in my funeral-coach-come-conversion-limo is a gray-haired retiree? Not if she’s alive, I guess. But the world is lucky she is! Driving Miss Janet was the breath of fresh air I needed before the steep, challenging roads in rainy Northern California.

February 3rd! YES!

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Never have I been so excited about a new day. I woke up to a pleasantly Sonny-and-Cherless morning with the assurance I’d be driving north sometime today. It ended up being late; a wiring issue had cut power to some of the lights in the front cabin, so I watched a few good men rush to fix it by electric torch light at dusk. The whirlwind of activity seemed like just another extension of one really long day.

When I finally got on the road, my first order of business was filling my tires with air. I guess all the in and out traffic would put some unusual strain on the tires. Doug, the guy who sold me my car way back in April, said he put new tires on the car before he sold it. Another member of the giant revolving door of people I saw during my three days at Frank’s place, he and I chatted about car maintenance for awhile and he suggested I inflate the tires. They were at 22 psi and needed to be around 36 to 38 psi.

So when I got outside of town (Valencia, specifically), I went through the general rigmarole of “helpless girl at the gas station who’s never had to do anything for herself before” and found a guy to help me fill my tires. I tried to prompt him to tell me more about Valencia, since he said he lives there, but my interest was quelled when he said, “There’s nothing here but Six Flags.” Lame, indeed. Did they not hear about Disneyland being in Anaheim?

With air in my tires and gas in my tank, I settled in for a long drive to Northern California. I wish I had been able to allot more time for coast-driving and general sight-seeing and playing around, but I have a job interview on Whidbey Island (more than an hour north of Seattle) on Friday afternoon, and I pride myself on being places when I say I will. Good luck, me!

Back in LA

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I arrived at the Burbank Airport a little before noon. I woke up at 5am to take the earliest flight out, rode Seattle’s new Link light rail, and just barely made it to the airport in time to go through security, get a latte, and be the second-to-last person to board the plane. FYI everyone: Link’s got some kinks.

When Pablo came to pick me up, the first words out of his mouth were, “Ayeee! Flaquita!” I hadn’t thought much of it, but when I returned to Seattle, everyone was asking about my weight loss. It makes sense that Pablo would be surprised too, not having seen me in a few months. During our ride back to Glendale, I regaled him with the saga of my life in the best Spanish I could muster. Intermittently, I found myself without the proper words and ended up taking the long way through the conversation, apologizing for it after getting my point across. Whenever I do this, Pablo reminds me, “Tu hablas español,” matter-of-factly. I am going to miss that.

At Frank’s shop, my car was in a million pieces. I smiled and said, “Told you I was coming!” We talked for a bit and I went to get coffee, mentally preparing to spend the night somewhere nearby. I kind of knew it wouldn’t be ready when I got there, but I was sick of changing my plans. I spent a large chunk of last year partway between LA and Seattle, accessible to both but effective in neither, so it was time to do some leaning. I spent most of the day chugging coffee and overseeing the work on my car.

By the end of the day, I was feeling pretty useless. I could see everyone working double-duty, but I couldn’t do anything. I helped Frank clean up and close the shop for the night, and he asked me if I was sick. I said I was just tired, and then he attempted to delicately broach the subject of weight loss. It felt odd explaining to him that this is how much I’m supposed to weigh while still digesting a huge chicken lunch/dinner from Dinah’s.

The Cadillac WTF

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I thought my car truly captured what a Cadillac WTF might look like, but it seems GM had ideas of its own. I humbly submit to their superior creation.