Archive for the 'Dolls' Category

February 9th 2010
Tuesday Round-up: Fallen American Idols edition

Posted under American history & art & book reviews & Dolls & European history & Gender & jobs & local news & unhappy endings & weirdness & women's history

Can I choose "none of the above?"

Howdy!  Hellsapoppin’ here.  While some of you in the East may be shoveling yet more snow today, we in the West have got more than a few stalls to muck out today, and a lot of fences to mend.  Here are some items for your delectation and consideration:

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January 27th 2010
Mid-week treat: visual madelines for the original Sesame Street generation

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & fluff

This is the Sesame Street short film from back in the day that was immediately called to my mind by Flavia’s recent post on book covers, more specifically, by the book cover she nominates as the freakiest of all time:  “the original cover art for Stanley Fish’s Self-Consuming Artifacts: The Experience of Seventeenth-Century Literature (1972),” which she calls “hideous and compelling at the same time.”  (Go over to her place to see it, and the full-size blowup when you click on it.  It is impressively weird.)  Incidentally, “Rolling Ball 1, 2, 3 (rare ending)” is the only one I remember–I never saw the version with the cherry sundae ending until last night.

When I was over at YouTube researching this short film, the film below came up as a related video.  Continue Reading »

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January 16th 2010
Saturday Valley of the Dolls blogging

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & Gender & the body & women's history

"Deborah," Alex Prager, 2009

Over at The Daily Beast, Rachel Wolff informs us of two exhibitions of photographs by L.A.-based artist Alex Prager opening in both New York and L.A. this winter.  Check it out–and be sure to click through the gallery of Prager’s “living dolls.”  There are samples from two series by Prager–”Weekend” and “The Big Valley.”  (I thought the photos in “The Big Valley” were more interesting.)  Wolff writes:

In many ways, Prager’s women—draped in faux fur, coolly smoking cigarettes—are metaphors for Los Angeles itself, which the artist has called “a strange picture of perfection… with a sense of unease under the surface of all this beauty and promise.” It’s an easy metaphor (and one we’ve seen before) but there is a certain allure to Prager’s images. They recall the roleplay and self-imposed artifice of Cindy Sherman’s film stills; they offer a user-friendly antidote to the sort of palpable grit embraced by other female artists living and working on the West Coast (Katy Grannan and the duo Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn among them); they’re pretty, private, and self-referential—the sort of thing you’d want to hang in a bedroom instead of over the couch—but nonetheless macabre, especially given the recent demise of pretty young things Brittany Murphy and Casey Johnson.

Wolff calls the images “living dolls,” not because they’re perfect–far from it, in most cases.  Continue Reading »

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December 26th 2009
Christmas wrap-up and orange alert, 2009

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Dolls & fluff & wankers

Well, it’s been quite a holiday here in the ancestral homeland–everyone got here safely for the holiday celebrations, but it looks like our ride home next week will be a little more complicated, thanks to the latest wannbe-Jihadi’s attempt on an American airliner.  Thanks a lot, a$$hole!  We still have to take our frakkin’ shoes off every time we go through airport security eight years after “shoe bomber” a$$hole Richard Reid tried to set his chucks alight.  I wonder what new meaningless ritual inconvenience awaits us now?  Let me guess:  no more pixie sticks and juice boxes allowed in our carry-on bags, because this a$$hole tried to mix a powder with a liquid.  (Does Homeland Security know about the explosive properties of Pop Rocks?  Because I don’t want to fly if anyone is carrying Pop Rocks.) 

On a happier note:  here are a few images from our Christmas here in the Northwest Territory: Continue Reading »

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December 18th 2009
Friday doll blogging: Wes Anderson and nostalgia as a limitlessly renewable resource

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & Gender

fantasticmrfox

I’ve been slacking off on my doll blogging over the past several months–so it occurred to me that a certain stop-action animated movie I saw recently might qualify as a doll post!

I saw The Fantastic Mr. Fox last weekend.  Wes Anderson has become a successful director because he shares and manipulates baby boomers’ and Gen Xers’ nostalgia for our childhood:  the mid-century office technologies, the clothing that always looks like it’s right out of a Goodwill grab bag ca. 1963-1979, the self-conscious references to things that appealed to children in the 1960s and 1970s (Jacques Cousteau and Davy Crockett, for example.  Pass the Space Food Sticks and Tang!)  If you’re in your mid-30s to your mid-50s, Anderson is like a very clever kid brother who missed out on all of the fun you had during your late midcentury childhood, and who’s getting rich selling it back to you in idealized dreamscape slices.

As to the movie itself:  Continue Reading »

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September 4th 2009
Scandal in BarbieWorld! New Barbie book plagiarizes title from 1995

Posted under American history & Dolls & publication & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

barbie-knitwear
Plagiarism? Quel horreur!

Go read Tenured Radical.  She tells us all about Robin Gerber, the author of Barbie and Ruth: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Doll and the Woman Who Created Her.  The galley proofs for this new book were sent out to a reviewer, M. G. Lord, whose book Forever Barbie Gerber quotes in Barbie and Ruth, directly, repeatedly, and without attribution!  Tenured Radical writes,

[H]istorians. . . know about plagiarism. We talk about it a lot, and we have seen enough high-profile cases in the last decade to make it of grave concern, whether it appears in a work intended primarily for scholars or in something intended for the educated reader and/or enthusiast. This is why, other than the possibility of an old friend being ripped off, I think questions about plagiarism raised by Lord about Ms. Gerber’s book need to be aired in a scholarly setting. Lord’s assertion is that Gerber has taken quotes from primary sources published in Forever Barbie and failed to note that Lord did that research and, in the case of interviews, actually generated the source in the first place.

In this piece, published in the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, Lord explains that when asked to review Gerber’s book:

I found quotations from my research, verbatim and without specific attribution.

I showed the passages to my assigning editor. He had sent me a galley proof, not the finished book, and we both thought it likely that endnotes would appear in the final volume. But then the finished book came in, and though “Forever Barbie” was mentioned in the bibliography, there were no endnotes. I felt violated.

Histories do not grow on trees. The first person to cobble out a definitive narrative has to do a ton of work. You interview hundreds of people and hunt down documents, which can be especially elusive if influential people would prefer that they stay hidden. You separate truth from hearsay. Then — with endnotes — you meticulously source all your quotations and odd facts so future scholars will know whence they came.

Reached for comment by The Times, Gerber wrote in an e-mail: Continue Reading »

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August 1st 2009
Seriously–I need this doll for my research.

Posted under American history & captivity & Dolls & O Canada

I’m so glad I’m not the only historian with a dolly fetish!  Clio Bluestocking, the intrepid CC instructor and scholar of Frederick Douglass and the women in his family sent in her report about what she did this summer at an NEH institute in Baltimore.  On a field trip to a  Civil War museum in Virginia, she found a Frederick Douglass action figure!  Go check it out.  She writes, “He even has a small copy of The Narrative, as well as a pissed off expression.  Notice, too, that he was on sale.  This picture was not taken in the gift shop, but in my hotel room because, yes, I bought it. (And I just realized how creepy it sounds to say that I bought a Frederick Douglass.)”  This of course connects back to my post on Thursday about Marla Miller opening her book with a discussion of Colonial Barbie, and our discussion in the comments.  Why do some dolls based on historical periods or individuals get produced, and others don’t?  Many of you noted the elite and healthy bias of the historical dolls, compared to the miserable reality of the lives of most people in the past.

captivitybookshelf2

Can you see your book on my shelf?

A few years ago, Dr. Mister Historiann found some Seven Years’ War era lead figurines–made by a company that mostly makes lead soldiers, I’m sure, but to their credit they also made some civilian victims of war, too–and he gave them to me for my birthday.  So here are my English captives with their co-captors, who appear to be both Iroquois and Algonquian.  (Unlikely, unless they were Catholic mission Indians, but wev.)  You’ve never seen a 30-something year old woman so excited about a birthday gift as I was that year!  Continue Reading »

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July 30th 2009
Colonial Barbie

Posted under American history & Dolls & Gender & women's history

colonialbarbie

$24.99 on EBay!

For my women’s history class this fall, I’m assigning Marla Miller’s The Needle’s Eye:  Women and Work in the Age of Revolution (2006) for the first time.  I was looking over my review copy from the press the other day, and to my amazement, her introduction starts with a discussion of “Colonial Barbie,” a Barbie produced in 1995 I had never seen or heard of before.  She writes,

[A]s a women’s historian studying early America I was drawn to her in both amazement and amusement.  Dressed in red, white, and blue, her costume the familiar mantua, petticoat, and mob cap, she would more accurately have been named Revolutionary Barbie, I remember thinking.  Most interesting to me, she held in her hand a piece of needlework.  Barbie was working on a quilt square, it seemed, depicting an American eagle.  Also enclosed in the box was a booklet recounting Barbie’s participation in the American Revolution and explaining the small object she held in her hand.  The title of the volume was “The Messenger Quilt.”  At first, I assumed that the usually adventuresome Barbie was involved in some sort of spy operation, cleverly inscribing and conveying military intelligence through a seemingly innocent quilt.  I was disappointed to learn that the quilt simply, if enthusiastically, celebrated the signing of the Declaration of Independence with a large red, white, and blue design reading “Happy Birthday, America.”

Poor Barbie–like so many other women in American history, reduced to commemorating the actions of Great Men instead of being a Great Actor herself!  Continue Reading »

41 Comments »

June 30th 2009
Nun dolls, the sequel

Posted under American history & art & Dolls & fluff & happy endings & local news & women's history

dollnunsThe Michigan Historical  Museum in Lansing has a special exhibition called “Michigan Roadside Attractions,” which features a few samples from the Nun Doll Museum at The Cross in the Woods Shrine in Indian River (near Sault St. Marie, unfortunately–not really a day trip from Southern Michigan.)  How totally awesome is that?  Maybe we have a few clues as to why a vision of Mother Kewpie of the Sisters of the M-50 appeared in an antiques mall in Brooklyn to me yesterday…

Now there’s some early American history, and modern American history, that has yet to be told.  To the barricades archives, mes amies!

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June 29th 2009
Vintage (and creepy) dolls, Brooklyn, Michigan, June 2009

Posted under American history & art & childhood & Dolls & weirdness

dollmenagerieI’m back in vintage doll heaven in Michigan–and by “heaven,” I mean “my parents’ garage and the local antique malls.”  (And by “antique malls,” I mean “somewhat better than garage sale stuff!”)  So here’s a selection of the fun, freaky, and just plain “why?” that I came across today in just one booth in one antique mall.  I apologize that some of the photos are a little blurry–I had to photograph some of these things through a glass case.  Abundant pleasures await you!  For example, next to the Eskimo doll is a Pepper doll with a crocheted dress in gold yarn with green trim.  Lots more, and more of the weird, on the flip!

  Continue Reading »

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