29 Nov 2011

Old-ish Songs That Should Enter More Earholes

You know how you sometimes have to play a tune a couple times before it will snag onto you? I feel like each of these are love at first listen. How is it these songs weren't hugely popular? They're so hit-worthy it hurts!

So let's correct that, shall we?

I'm a bit biased on this one as I pretty much love everything Buddy Holly ever did. For some weirdo reason, "Heartbeat" only reached #82 in the charts in 1958:

I've been crapping my pants about this song since I heard it four years ago, telling pretty much everyone I meet that they should listen to it. It was recorded in 1968 and never made it on the charts. A little while ago I heard it in that weird Seth Rogen mall cop movie and felt like I should have gotten credit for it somehow. The song, not the movie. Totally not the movie:

This song did alright - reaching #5 in 1968 - but seems to have been rather forgotten unless you're already a Donovan fan. My poor old roommate Will would barf if he found out I still listen to this one as I used to put this song on every.single.day when we lived together. And speaking of crazy, is it just me or does young Donovan kind of remind you of Kristen Stewart?:

I love Terry Callier's voice. It's kind of Hendrix-y, no? This track didn't make a blip on the charts when it was released in 1973. Pity.

I think this is one of the best We're-Probably-Going-To-Break-Up songs ever. It reached #9 in 1985, which is great, but it was dwarfed by The Boss's other better-known hits:

Share your favourite underappreciated songs!


28 Nov 2011

Fill in the Blank

The kisses featured on TLC's Virgin Diaries look like ________________________________.

A) A mother bird feeding a baby bird.
B) An incompetent zombie trying to gum someone, face first.
C) You. Summer camp. 1992.
D) None of the above. Write your own answer in the comments!


25 Nov 2011

Peppermint Patty Is Not Amused

Yesterday I told Patrick that I was going to make something very special and rather traditional on account of American Thanksgiving. I assured him the meal would be not be from one of the vintage Thanksgiving recipes, so he was fairly pumped. Correction: VERY pumped.

He knew something weird was up when he arrived home and I was playing jazz music.

(This is only the tip of the iceberg of how funny and clever I think I am. It's sickening, really.)

Patrick enjoyed it, sort of.

Until ...

"Okay, Okay ... so what are we really having for dinner?" he said after indulging in my silliness for about a minute.

"This is it. I didn't make anything else," I said.

"Are you kidding me? This isn't a real meal."

"Patrick - be grateful. It's American Thanksgiving and I clearly slaved all day to make this," said Mrs. Laugh Riot.

I was too busy enjoying my shit-eating grin to take a picture of his reaction. He refused to "recreate" his expression, but this is pretty much exactly what he looked like:

And then, through the magic of MS Paint, I can show you what Peppermint Patrick did immediately after that:


24 Nov 2011

Wait, That Was Real?

Do any of you remember this clip from Sesame Street about a flea circus?

Did you know that flea circuses were real? Sadly, they didn't raise flags or light canons, but they did push miniature carts around and got everyone feeling itchy. In the second one, the fleas also bring to life a merry-go-round and roll a ball:



23 Nov 2011

Flash Mob Jr.

Today I was in the backyard when I noticed a kid - maybe six-years old (or maybe 15, I have no frickin' idea) watching me from the side walk out front. What do you do in those instance? Smile? Wave? Offer them ribbon candy?

I chose to not be creepy and just ignore.

Eventually, the kid pulls out an iPhone (seriously?) and is typing away on it, but still standing there. And then, suddenly, there are TWO kids standing at the side walk peering in. And then THREE. Three kids perched at the end of my property, staring in like vultures. Is it pathetic that I felt scared? By kids wearing Cars backpacks?

Based on their gestures to each other, I figured out what had caught their interest. It wasn't me so much (er, rather, at all), but what I was making in the backyard:

With three trees and no raking until this point in the season, I had just created the motherload of leaf piles. 

And those little shits wanted to jump in it.

So, naturally, even though I wasn't done raking, I started stuffing the leaves into craft bags and then locked them in my shed like some kind of miser.

That makes me the weird old lady on the street, doesn't it? Do I get an award or something? Can it be pepper spray?


22 Nov 2011

American Thanksgiving: 1940s, 1950s & 1960s Editions

We've already had Thanksgiving here in Canada, on account of us having thought of it first our earlier harvest, but since most of this blog's readers are American, I figured I'd share some Thanksgiving menu ideas from my vintage magazines. Maybe it will give you ideas of what you'd like to serve this holiday should you be in the mood to mix things up. While it's true that Thanksgiving dinners haven't really changed all that much in the years, it's still fun to find those little nuances in meal planning and the treatment of Thanksgiving from decades past.

For example, in my November 1942 Ladies' Home Journal, writer Ann Batchelder says:

This year is slipping out of its green binding and getting a new edition ready in brown covers with silver tooling. It's a great comfort to know that no matter how things are in this hectic and confused world, we still have a Day. Let other days come and go and do as they will. We have this Day - with a capital D - a Day set aside from a long time ago for being thankful. Thankful for what? Why, for more than the harvest home, more than the corn in the cribs and the hay in the lofts, for the pumpkin pies and turkeys, for the crocks of pickles and bins of apples and barrels of cider. We have a heritage to give thanks for. We have America. Let's be thankful!

Compare this to what I imagine is the modern ode to Thanksgiving:
 Yep. The classy generation, we are not.

So, on with the show!

The first is from the magazine I mentioned above, circa November 1942. Isn't the cover just positively dreamy?

And here's the spread:

And the menu:

And a recipe page:

So ... you know how I just said that Thanksgiving dinner hasn't changed that much over the years? Maybe I was wrong. What the hell is this stuff? Grapefruit-Apricot Salad (all from a can)? Hard-Sauce Balls? Deviled Crackers? But the menu does get a big ooh-la-la for the Oyster Cocktail. I'm also quite charmed by the Victory Cranberry Sauce - it's a nice attempt to lift the moral of a condiment when sugar wasn't as available due to wartime rationing. Victory is a tad tart, it seems.

Let's jump ahead to the 1950s. I found two Thanksgiving spreads. The first is from the November 1952 issue of Today's Woman (you can actually see the cover in my pic from the 50s Housewife Experiment - it's the red magazine):

And there's two menus, based on your kitchen size (how thoughtful!):

I'm feeling lazy and haven't taken pics of the recipes (eight pages of them ... so much clicking) - so unless someone out there is really, really dying to know how to make Molded Mincemeat Salad (and if you are such a disturbed individual, let me know in the comments), you'll just have to use your imagination with these.

Next, the November 1956 issue of Woman's Day, which has this unfortunate cover:


Anyway ... here's dinner! Doesn't this couple look dapper? And I love the colour of their hutch in the background!

Here's a close-up of the meal. Much of it seems normal to me ... except for the pineapple (surely harvested from America's heartland) and the heaping plate of carrot and celery sticks ...

Here's the menu and recipes for this 1950s Thanksgiving meal:

On the whole, nothing too crazy, no?

So - onto 1961. Here's Woman's Day November 1961 cover:


And the Thanksgiving spread:

Whatever they have around the turkey looks pretty repulsive. What is that? From this close-up and from the process of elimination of the menu, it appears to be Onion-stuffed Onions. Jean-Claude Van Damme that is awful:
And the recipes, should you lose your mind and want to make these:

So what can we say about Thanksgiving in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s compared to now?
  • There was more mincemeat on the menu then.
  • There was no aversion to using the word "giblet" (my spellcheck doesn't even identify it).
  • I'm pretty sure none of those grapes got eaten.
  • Food stylists really do make a difference.
  • ETA thanks to BloggerBride's comment!: Check out the size of the 1942 turkey to the 1961 turkey! Roids or Factory Farming Gone Wild?
  • How cool is the name "Preble Bailey" (from the 1956 spread)? Do you think it's pronounced PREB-lee or PREH-bull? Or something else? I think Bambi Jesus and Nutella HotDog Byck officially have a challenger!

What are you making (or made) for Thanksgiving? Any passed-down family recipes?


21 Nov 2011

Does This Mean We're Safe? Maybe Not.

Because I'm a boring self-obsessed hag, I like to now and again peruse my web stats and traffic. By "now and again", I of course mean obsessively and several times a day.

Well, remember when I posted how someone from the Department of Homeland Security was reading my blog for a few hours? It turns out that their counterparts on the other side of the border like to do the same:

They even goof on my site for the same amount of time! This particular person from the Department of National Defence came here looking to learn how to create a 1950s Christmas, which I gotta say is pretty adorable of them (and I cannot wait to get my aluminium tree up again this year!).

But you know what's not so adorable? That the Department of National Defence uses Internet Explorer. And not even the new version. Oh my ever-loving Pappa Smurf, WTF. We're doomed. DOOMED!


18 Nov 2011


I've had a bunch of music stuck in my head this week and it's only fair that I infect you with these too (sure beats the other things I could have infected you with, right?). As you'll see, my subconscious brain is a touch spastic in its musical interests.

??? My enjoyment of this song comes from the same strange place in my brain that inexplicably adores The Duggars:

(This is my friend Ken's band)

I'll leave it at that, as the last one is appropriate for a Friday. Happy weekend.


16 Nov 2011

Head Games

Are you someone who occasionally watches television that hasn't been Tivo'd and want to find an alternative to mindless eating when the commercials are on?

My new favourite game is to mentally replace the word "hair" with the word "penis" whenever a shampoo or dye ad is on the TV. I find it especially entertaining when the commercials talk about all of us girls being "tired of weak, limp hair" in which we need a shampoo that "coats the hair shaft from root to tip."

Just look at how much fun these new and old commercials become when you use the power of your dirty, childish brain:

You're welcome.


14 Nov 2011

Vintage Nail Ads Again Prove That Nothing We Do Is Original

Remember that gross pointy nail trend that had women everywhere silently wondering how Fergie was able to masturbate safely? It turns out The Dutchess didn't invent the tapered talon look - your Grandma did.

I was flipping through some 1943 Ladies' Home Journals when I came across this ad from Cutex:

Yep, should the vivacious Mrs. Stringer take a break from washing dishes, I suspect those claws could totally do some damage to her lady bits.

I found an even more extreme example of the tapered nail on another page. Admittedly, this is an artist's rendering of nails - exotic "Oriental" nails at that - so I have serious doubts that anyone outside of The King and I theatre productions were sporting these in the 1940s. But what's even more surprising? Look at the colours available! Green Dragon? Blue Lagoon? Ming Yellow? Black Luster? Who knew Chen Yu had essie beat by a good 40 years?

Edit: I have no idea why the ad is appearing sideways?! Blogger is being a weirdo. Here's a right-side-up close-up of the nails and colours I mentioned:

Neat, huh?


11 Nov 2011

The Generation Gap

It's Remembrance Day and hopefully you've used this as an opportunity to reflect on the wars of our past, the sacrifices of veterans, and what we have to be thankful for. November 11th (and every day, really!) also presents us the opportunity to think about the struggles going on today and what we can do to make the world a more peaceful place.

In reflection of World War II and the rebuilding process of Europe, Eleanor Roosevelt said in 1950:

I, personally, am not for rearming Germany, but I am for giving her every opportunity to get back on her feet in an economic way and to trade with the rest of the world so she will not have to depend on trade with the eastern part of Europe.

It is true that, given a free hand, Germany by its ability and industry may again dominate the economic situation in Europe. That, without military power, is not a catastrophe.

I think it is essential that we help her to regain economic stability and a sense of pride in her citizenship, for no one can live happily under constant humiliation. If we want Germany to understand democracy we must realize that it has to be demonstrated over a long period of years. She has never had democracy except for a short time and her people have never understood the processes of democracy or the individual responsibility entailed.

And I think we can all agree that this attitude (and economic and political actions) led to a beneficial and healthy relationship between the world and The-Once-Biggest-Bad-Ever, Germany, yes?

While our conflicts today are different (and in some ways not), compare the attitude above with the words of another woman in the political arena right now:

Sweet Cheesus.

Yeah, that's the ticket to creating peaceful relations and pro-America, pro-democracy sentiments: send a bill to a traumatized, vulnerable, volatile country that you went into under false pretences. Sounds like a winner of an idea to me. Hey, while she's at it, maybe Michelle Bachmann can track down the people who were liberated from concentration camps in WWII and see if they can pick up some of that military tab, too.

Le sigh.

It's important to think about these things, reflect on what history has shown, and to compare approaches. Because if we truly want to de-escalate violence and foster democracy, it's really not about withdrawing troops - it's about what you do after they've come home.


9 Nov 2011

An Entirely Inappropriate Homage

So long, Bil Keane. Thanks for the supremely wholesome laughs. That, and naming the dog "Barfy".

Image Source: The Other Family (a warning - it is bad. Like baaaaaaad).


8 Nov 2011

This Is Why You And Your Husband Don't Have Sex Anymore

Edited to Add: If you can't see the embedded video, you can watch it here.


7 Nov 2011

I Can't Imagine Walter Cronkite Doing That (And I Won't Try To Either)

Watch the whole thing. Pay special attention to his right hand. Those are your orders.

As seen on The Soup.


4 Nov 2011

Further Proof I Might Not Be Cut Out For Parenthood

So you know how I was all I Am Childfree, Hear Me Roar (and Then Smugly Sleep In Late In A Bed Stuffed With Disposable Income) in my last post? Well, despite all that, I still like to indulge in the very fun pastime of coming up with kid names now and then. Yep, I'm the worst. THE. WORST.

Even though we don't know if we want to have children, can you all please respect that I've called dibs on a name? The inspiration came to us from an email found in my spam folder - and, I think you'll agree, it's simply the best name ever:

Bambi Jesus Byck. Or "BJ" Byck for short.

It is perfection and it's overtaken my previous choice - a name comprised of our favourite things: Nutella HotDog Byck (or "Nut Weiner Dick" as he / she would surely be called on the playground).


2 Nov 2011

I Get That I Don't Get It, So Get Off It

Recently there was an article posted on Jezebel titled, "Oops, I Must Have Been Too Busy Bitching About Not Getting Any Sleep to Mention How Great My Kid Is." by Tracy Moore. The piece (which is conversational, light-hearted and an easy read, so go munch on it for a minute) is largely a response to a conversation she had with a childless co-worker, who, upon listening to the writer complain about some truly heinous child-related sleep deprivation, commented, "Whoa man, you make it sound like your baby ruined your life."

The article goes on to explain that she wishes all of us childless people could simply grasp the awesomeness of parenthood and how, while it's not always a ray of sunshine - in fact, far from it on some days -, that there's something just so marshmagically delicious about babies and being the proud maker of one, that we just can't possibly "get it" if we've never had a child of our own.


You know, I get it. I get it that I don't get it.

I can quite plainly observe friends and family members who find their social lives radically altered, are elbow-deep in the grossest of bodily fluids (some of which aren't even their own!), who come over for a little break and end up sitting on my couch uncontrollably crying (and that's the dads!), who are on the verge of losing their minds over a kid who refuses to sleep more than an hour at a time, who see money spraying out of their bank accounts - like the projectile vomit they have become so accustomed to - on new furniture, clothes and daycare, and who have confided in me that they have moments where they just want to lock their toddler in the room, leave the house, and get wasted in the middle of the afternoon.

But you know what I also observe? That many these same people go and have another baby! Or light up when they see a picture of their kid. Or sit there with a truly enamoured smile long after they've finished telling you a story about their child.

So even though I am an ignorant, childless heifer (though I prefer "childfree" heifer), I understand that there's something - something huge and verging on magical - that counters all the shitty, horrible things about having a kid. It is the "it". "It" is the thing that is more powerful than logic or memory. "It" is individual with each child, "it" is hard to describe, and for most parents, "it" is the best thing that has ever happened to them.

I get it, even if I've never personally experienced "it". You don't have to sell me on "it".

From Jezebel:

For us, it's not about whether a baby is "special" enough to take on all the shit that comes with parenting, it's about whether we are willing to deal with all that specialness, especially since we really like how our lives are now. Why the author thinks people who "get fucked up a lot" would make ideal parents is beyond me, but whatever. Do those people want kids? Because we're personally unsure. Call us "Team Undecided But Sorta Leaning Toward No". Neither of us has felt a big yearning for kids that wasn't fleeting, so to just go ahead and have a child in the hopes that we'd experience "it" and "it" would be worth the risk, is a big leap of faith for us. And since I'm an agnostic and he's an atheist, "faith" isn't exactly our forte.

What's irritating, is that articles like the one on Jezebel presume that everyone who has a child experiences "it", guaranteed, that "it" is what's missing in their lives, that "it" outweighs all other perks of a childfree lifestyle, and that once you experience "it", all those worries about whether you want a kid / would make a good parent / can stick with it until you're dead, will melt away.

And that's something I just don't buy.

I know, without a doubt, that there are people who regret having children. It's hard for them to say this out loud because it goes against, oh, everything, and people somehow derive great pleasure in pointing that out. Many of these people get called every name in the book for admitting what a "real parent" is never supposed to feel. But whether you like it or not, they're proof that "it" isn't universally appreciated. They're selfish monsters adults who discover that they'd be happier without kids - and I don't mean hypothetical children, but their actual kids - healthy, well-behaved little people with faces and names that they have feelings for. Children they believe are more burdens than blessings when it comes to achieving happiness in life.

And there's another nagging regret to the issue; the fear of "but what if I figure out I want kids and it's too late!" It's something articles poke at, although subtly. If we're too ignorant to "get" the obvious amazingness that is being a parent, surely we're also incapable of knowing how we'll feel about this in the future. How could we possibly know we'll be ok with a decision to not have kids in five, ten, or twenty years from now if we're too [stupid, self-absorbed, immature, goofy] to realize how crazyballs fantastic it is to make a small human being who loves you unconditionally?

Articles on this topic weren't always as cutely presented as the one on Jezebel. From an article by a woman simply referred to as "The Country Contributor" in the April 1911 Ladies' Home Journal (100 years ago!), this awesome opinion was splayed out:

In case you can't read that, the snippet says (to be read aloud in a ridiculously regal voice that I like to call "Lady Boddemboddem"):
No Woman Should Ever Marry Unless She is Willing to have a child or children. If you are not willing to institute a family you should remain single. It not immoral to refrain from having a larger family than you can support, or from subjecting a wife to child-bearing until her strength is exhausted; but on general principles it is immoral to marry with the positive intention of having no children, and it is very vulgar, too, as you will certainly understand some day when you awake to the plain realities of life.

Epic, no?

But beyond the part about being vulgar, isn't the message that "you will certainly understand [it] some day when you awake to the plain realities of life" all that different from "sigh. It's hard to explain till it happens to you directly."?

I think Tracy Moore's article is fine and cheerfully-natured, but I wonder if she realizes that it comes across a touch belittling. What's funny about all this, is that no real person in my life has ever tried to press me on the fact that I don't have a deep understanding of what it means to be a parent, nor the idea that having a child might not be for me. So maybe that's why I find it funny that articles like these keep getting churned out.

Do people really talk like that to one another, or did I win the friend lottery?


1 Nov 2011

Double Duty

Think I could leave these up as Christmas decorations? I bet I could find something in the Bible to justify it.

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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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