31 Oct 2011

Spooky Stuff

Image Source:
Bluwmongoose on Flickr
We had decided that tonight we would turn off all the lights, ignore the people outside and quietly hide in the basement, miserably eating mini Kit-Kats and Coffee Crisps - but then we remembered it was Halloween! So out with our regular routine and in with the spirit of the day!

I figured that I'd go to my 1950s housewife vault and dig you up something Halloween-related (rather "Hallowe'en" - that's how they most frequently spelled it then) from my magazines - and you know what? There wasn't anything in them! My cookbooks had a few recipes for Halloween-themed cakes and other baked goods, but that was pretty much it. Mind you, I don't have a ton of September and October issues from that decade - but of the few I do, there's not a lick of info or advertising pertaining to Halloween. It makes me wonder if that's an indication that people didn't shit themselves over this holiday nearly to the extent we do now.

It should come as no surprise that I'll be answering the door in a tried and true costume, one that I've been doing since 2005. Well, that or answer the door topless.


But you know what costume I won't be? The one someone searched online for and somehow ended up on my website:


I hope that person, whose IP was from a rather prominent university, was simply researching for a paper they're writing titled, What Horrible People Dress Up As For Halloween: A Seasonal Study of Douchebaggery.

But probably not. Do we really need to point out that dressing up as someone who's the victim of a real violent assault isn't funny or clever? Sigh.

But enough finger wagging ... instead, I shall leave you with a find from my favourite 1950s cookbook, the Good Housekeeping 10 PM Cook Book. There, I spotted a picture of people in costumes that I found interesting, especially considering everyone (including me) acts like "sexy costumes" are something new.

I give you the 1958 Sexy Devil:

Yep, Grandma embraced Halloween as an opportunity to tramp it up, too.

Trick or Treat!


28 Oct 2011

He's Lucky He's Cute

Maybe I just like to play with fire. I'm about to post something that falls under the headline of Cruel Wife Publicly Picks On Her Husband, despite the fact that Patrick is in possession of a very embarrassing, very cringe-worthy video clip starring moi. It isn't kinky. It isn't politically incorrect.

It's a video of me attempting to climb over a fence.

Like the sex tape we will never make, Patrick swears he will never show it to anyone but wants to keep it for his own private and personal amusement. I'm probably testing that promise with this blog entry, but I think this is funny and I'll risk almost anything to entertain you faceless strangers. And, wow, that is fucked up.

So here's the scoop: For some reason, Patrick either wasn't exposed to a wide variety of foods growing up or simply never paid attention to them until he met me. I've documented his picky eating habits quite a bit, but I haven't shared with you my other strange observation: he doesn't know what a lot of food even is.

I'm not talking trendy foodie snob stuff or ingredients from those "ethnic" aisles - I'm talking about what I presumed was everyday, regular food.

Can I give you some examples of things that I've put on grocery lists vs. the things he came home with? And no, none of these were things he accidentally picked up or misunderstood. These are things he really, really had never been exposed to, so he made his best guess. It gets progressively alarming as you scroll down.

I asked for:

I received:

I asked for:

I received:

I asked for:

I received:

I asked for:

I received:

And then this week, the pièce de résistance ...

I asked for:

I received:

Sometimes I wish we had hidden video in our home so you could see the progression of facial reactions I had when I pulled Milkbones out of the bag, but we don't, so you'll get the next best thing: one of my MS Paint re-enactments:

Edited to Add: I sort of knew he wouldn't know what lamb chops were, so when I put them on the list, I made a point of mentioning to him that they were the types that "looked like they were mostly bone." So - my bad? He later told me he thought I wanted "lamb chops" in case our friend Barry stopped by with his dog. But still. THAT'S what he thought lamb chops were.

I ...? I ...? I ... am now drinking.


27 Oct 2011

"And She's Living With A Waiter!"

I honestly have a hard time convincing myself that the people on Fox & Friends actually believe the shit that comes out of their mouths. I mean, no one can really be this heinous and hypocritical, right? This is an Onionparody, right?:


25 Oct 2011

Now Vs. Then: Toilet Paper Edition

Here's something you probably already know: When advertisers have nothing clever to say about their product, there's a tendency to make up a problem that doesn't really exist and then claim their product corners the market in solving this fake issue.

Like what?

Oh, like having the CONSTANT PROBLEM of toilet paper pieces sticking to your anus. Uh-oh, that's not going to "pass inspection" (by whom, I'd rather not ponder too long on).

What do you mean that doesn't happen to you?

Oh, that's right, because that happens to NO ONE.

The thing is, I bet people now think this really is an issue because we're all somehow too embarrassed to admit out loud that this commercial is based on pure fiction and that our rectums aren't, in fact, made of Velcro (my bum, however, DOES get all Twilight-y when I clean it. Doesn't yours?).

And what's with the rubbing of the toiler paper against the face? Have any of you been so impressed with your toilet paper's softness that you took a bit with you for a post-wipe cuddle?

Have advertisers always been this silly?

Scott Soft-Weve ad from 1958

Yes, yes they have.

This ad isn't just goofy because no one ever stopped in awe over the luxuriousness of "facial quality" toilet paper, but because of what she's wearing in the ad. If you read the copy, you find out that that isn't an evening gown - she's in what advertisers suggest are essentially pyjamas:

Is it pathetic that, despite finding it all rather ridiculous, I sort of love how overly glamorous that ad is? In any case, it sure beats a sales pitch anchored around the idea of toilet paper "bum crumbs".

Edited to Say: Ok, a few of you have emailed and a few of you have commented to say that Charmin actually does address a real issue with its "toilet paper bits left behind" shtick. WHA? I don't ... understand. Is there a way you guys can explain this to me without me throwing up? How does hair (and how much hair could people possibly have around there?!?) cause bits to shred off and cling?


18 Oct 2011

Why I Won't Be Using FedEx Again

Companies can make clever ads, they can get "engaged" in social media, and they show how much they CARE ABOUT THE CHILDREN [insert Sally Struthers emoticon], but none of that builds real trust. "Trust" isn't a silly marketing buzzword - it's a business's greatest bond with its customer, and it's developed, strengthened and broken during real interactions. And it's trust that caused FedEx Canada to lose precious little me as a customer.

But let me back up, because this story actually starts with something pure and good. It started with this:

I love that damn show, as does my dear husband. This husband that I love almost as much as Community had a birthday in July and because I am a clever, thoughtful and pop culture-obsessed wife, I ordered two of these mugs from the NBC store as a birthday gift:

$12 a pop for mugs is a bit much, but whatev. Birthday, right? Troy and Abed, right?

The package was received by our concierge and the mugs were in perfect and wonderful working order. Total state-of-the-art liquid containment. Husband was happy, the birthday was splendid, and I retained my position as Patrick's Favourite Wife.

On August 12th, I received an invoice from FedEx, looking for their "Advancement Fee" - which is supposedly the charge that's meant to cover duty and "managing customs" on account of this being a cross-border shopping experience. YOU'RE WELCOME, AMERICA:

I think it's rather strange that I'd get charged HST (a tax on goods and services provided in Ontario) on a product from the US, that it's all kinds of fun that FedEx's total charge for something worth $24 was $14.29 (60% of the product cost. Splendid!), and that you have no idea what the charge will be until long after you make your transaction - but that's not even what this blog post is about.

This blog post is about the fact that I paid it. That day. I called the little 1-800 number and paid that ridiculous charge without complaint. Aren't I a good little drone? YOU'RE WELCOME, CAPITALISM.
A screen shot from my bank account. It's really small.
But you can click it!
I'm pretty anal about paying bills on time and keeping records, so when they give you that reference number that most of us either a) pretend to write down but really don't or b) write down on a scrap of paper which we later wrap our gum in, I actually write them down. On the bill. And date it. And then file it. In file folders. Actual file folders! It's like every day is 1993 in my home.
I should get a pre-inked stamp, right? I love stamps.
I especially love having a legitimate excuse to get a stamp.

This is where the story should end, with FedEx Canada humping its pile of money and Patrick and I pouring vodka coffee into our Troy and Abed in the Morning mugs over breakfast.

But it doesn't end there.

On October 6th, my mailbox greets me with this letter from FedEx:


You know, I might be the kind of person who gets a sick thrill from embarrassing my husband while he's on business calls, I might have no idea how to open a coconut, and I might be that lady who strips her clothes off on the sidewalk - but I am NOT the sort of girl who gets Past Due notices.

So I was kind of stunned. What was this about? The letter gives no information about the services rendered, only an invoice number. I order things now and again from across the border, so I'm not sure exactly what it's for. And so, to the '90s I went, and I dug up the info from my file folder.

I was quickly able to match up the invoice amounts, see that I had called to pay, saw the reference number, went online and confirmed that amount was indeed charged. Some people would see this and feel mad. But you know how I felt? Relieved. As I was digging up my info, the entire time I genuinely felt awful that I might have skipped out on paying something that I owed.  Because, like I said, I'm not just a drone, I'm a good drone.

So I call FedEx Canada.


There's zero need to get all uppity and crazy with the poor schmuck who happens to answer the phone - it's not his fault. And mistakes happen, right? I was just glad that I had the information I needed to correct the situation.

Oh, speaking of which - you know those reference numbers I mentioned earlier - the ones a company gives you that most of us don't bother saving or writing down? FedEx does the exact same thing with them. They're just like us! The number I quoted meant nothing to guy I was on the phone with. Neato.

But since FedEx clearly charged my credit card in the amount of gee-what-a-coincidence-that's-how-much-is-on-the-invoice, they've got to have a record of that somewhere, right? So I give the guy the last few digits of my VISA and he says he'll take a look at the transactions, have it straightened out and agrees with me that there must have been a miscommunication between departments.

"Thanks for calling and thank you for choosing FedEx."

Technically, NBC chose FedEx, but whatever ....

So, then I make my trusty note on the letter and file (!) it.

Today I'm up to whatever shitty thing I do between meals when:


The letter is dated five bloody days AFTER I called FedEx.


I felt a Troy Barnes-style Nosebleed of Rage coming on (no quicky linky on that reference, you'll just have to go watch Community to get it. YOU'RE WELCOME, YOUR BRAIN CELLS).

The letter threatens to transfer the balance to a collection agency where "all related costs will be your responsibility and your credit rating may be affected."

Here's a zany fact, kids: credit ratings are somewhat important to adults. It impacts our ability to do things like get mortgages and rent apartments, get a business loan or establish a line of credit. They're not the sort of thing you should be screwing with.

But FedEx will! Over $14.29. That you already paid in August. And already called them about. Oh, tra la la.

I again took out my file folder, which is now marked "SERIOUSLY?!", and called FedEx for a third time.

I'm told it's now "resolved".

But do I trust that FedEx has made things right?  Do I trust their data management? Their customer service? Their ability to send a message from one department to another? Am I confident that they won't "accidentally" keep escalating this to a level of harassment that is completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and potentially financially damaging?

Nope. I don't trust them at all.

And I don't do business with companies that I can't trust.


17 Oct 2011

Things I Shouldn't Like, But I Do

Case in point: The Duggars

Even though they support causes and have political / "moral" views that make me want to vom ... they are just so GOSH DARN nice that I can't bring myself to dislike them.

But it's ultimately Michelle Duggar who does it for me. She's got great skin, seems incapable of yelling, and OMIGOD - THIS:

She's wakeboarding. In a dress. With her exposed knees digitally blurred out. And you know what? She looks pretty badass doing it.


14 Oct 2011

Sales Friends

I've recently discovered a fun podcast called The History Chicks. The two hosts, Beckett and Susan, research and then gab about interesting women in history (plus the occasional fictional female). Last week, they covered "The 50s Housewife" and did me the honour of mentioning that they liked my blog and the 50s Housewife Experiment in particular - so, thank you, HCs!

Still on a 1950s kick, they recently did a mini podcast on Betty Crocker (and if you comment on their website, you get entered for a chance to win a swell apron! Do it!), whom you hopefully know is the Tony the Tiger of baking - a corporate character rather than a real person. These trusted friend / big sister corporate icons were very popular in the 1940s through 1960s, and women actually wrote to them for advice (I would love the see the craziest letters Betty Crocker ever received. I wonder if the Freedom of Information Act covers that?). Just a flip through one of my 1956 Woman's Day magazines captured a few of these Sales Friends. Funny how incredibly similar they all are to each other:

Mary Blake of Carnation:

Mary Hale Martin of Libby's:
And rounding out the Mary Trifecta ....

That last one, Mary Lawton Wright, may have been real, although it's hard to accept that there really was a "National Red Cherry Institute" and that it was so busy that it actually had to employ people. Maybe that's the solution to the unemployment problem - just create random, weirdo institutes that give away free booklets. That's the ticket!

One Floating Lady Head, Mrs. Dan Gerber, even addressed that she was a real person. Her evidence? The amount of breeding her family members have been up to (which ... I guess means that my existence is up for dispute):

Since I have no children or grandchildren to prove that I have a corporeal form, I might as well get on the corporate character train too! The name I'd go by is easy to figure out, but what products would my likeness have represented at the time?

My best guesses:

I know it will be hard for you to believe, but those were all created with my go-to design program, MS Paint. Seamless, no?


11 Oct 2011

Bangs And Thick Hair Are Great ...

... but sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I look *just like* Mandy Patinkin from The Princess Bride.

At least it starts each day with a laugh. For Patrick.


7 Oct 2011


Remember when we took possession of our new home on our anniversary in July and I joked about how long it would take until we killed the roses?

It took one day.

It turns out the previous owners had moved at least a month or two before we got the keys to the place. And it just so happens that they didn't leave anyone in charge of watering the roses or the lawn. And it also just so happens that we had one of the hottest summers on record. So when we rolled up to make it a home sweet home, our rose bush and front yard looked like kindling. Seriously, Smokey the Bear was *this close* to mauling us.

I tried to bring it back to life. I fed it water and dead headed the rose flowers. I trimmed off the vicious black spot fungus that had overtaken the leaves. And trimmed it again when it came back. And again. And again. I used a special organic fertilizer to spur on healthy growth. The fertilizer seemed to work, not in producing roses but in allowing the branches to grow super long like thorny octopus legs. So I trimmed those dang branches down and continued the cycle of watering and trimming.

And finally, a few days into October:


There are now two roses on the bush that once had dozens. Whatever! It's progress - and, naturally, just in time for the frost season.


5 Oct 2011


This is the mushy note I had engraved on Patrick's first (and clearly dinged up, scratched up, well-loved) iPod. It's a lyric from a song we both liked called Such Great Heights - and it feels rather fitting right now.

Thank you, Steve Jobs.

Oh - also -  FUCK. CANCER.


4 Oct 2011

Yes, Some Of It Was Pure Fantasy

I sometimes get asked if I actually believe there were women who behaved like stereotypical '50s housewives or if it was a manufactured image. I think the answer is yes to both; there were women who aspired to (and were also pressured into) that particular way of life (and those who loved it, hated it, and existed somewhere in between) and there was indeed a marketing and media machine that perpetuated it. But there were also women who purposefully led completely different lives from what was so prominently idealized, and those whose days featured bits and pieces of what was in the media at that time, and women who carried on, seemingly oblivious to social pressures, as housewives / career women / artists / mothers / labourers / philanthropists / community leaders as they felt that was what they needed to do for themselves and their families. We all know this, right? No? Maybe?

As it happens, I'm in the process of interviewing women who were wives in the 1950s who are willing to share their own life stories (and if you or a member of your family is such a woman, feel free to email me for deets!). Because while it's fun to flip through magazines from that era, to take the 1950s advice to heart for a few weeks, and to theorize about what life was like for women then and what they must have been thinking at the time, isn't it just so much better to talk to them about it? No two women are alike, but it's so far been fun to see what they had in common and how those things differ from the "modern women" I normally interact with.

But here's something that is a universal truth and it's compliments of today's random retro find! I found this ad for a toilet sanitizer called "VANISH" in the September 1958 issue of Ladies' Home Journal:

Let's set the record straight: Nobody in the history of the world has ever twirled and danced from the joy of cleaning a toilet (or because of a tampon, for that matter). Nobody. Never. Ever. Just mark that one down as The Craziest Nonsense You've Seen Today.

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I have no shame

Need words? I'm a Toronto-based freelance writer who injects great ones into blogs, websites, magazines, ads and more. So many services, one lovely Jen (with one 'n').

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