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October 2011

Halloween Post Review

Here are a few things I’ve posted for Halloween over the past couple years; figured they were worth collecting in one spot. Likely I have some more around here if only I’d get to looking. 

Halloween used to be different.

LIFE magazine, Oct. 20, 1961

The candy was more interesting, for sure. Although, the 70s were the pinnacle of candy choices. Don’t even try to argue with me on that point. 

LIFE magazine, Oct. 20, 1961

This was even more before my time, but I’m old enough to remember popcorn balls and apples in my treat bag. I remember the ladies who handed out popcorn balls, and still think of them fondly. 

And now every year people trot out the same old stories about how all candy is dangerous and homemade treats are wicked because of that guy who tried to murder his son with poisoned Pixy Stix 35 years ago. You can hand out Christmas cookies but not Halloween ones. Muse on that. Also, why that boy is dressed in a pink bunny costume. They hadn’t invented irony back then or anything.

Gorgeous design...


Stile Industria No. 18 – Max Huber, August 1958

Stile Industria was Italy’s first and only magazine exclusively dedicated to Industrial Design (disegno industriale), Graphic Art (grafica) and Packaging Design (imballagio).

Launched in June 1954, under the directorship of architect and designer Alberto Rosselli (1921–1976), when the controversial idea of “Industrial Design” was very new and unconvincing to Italian readers, this quarterly magazine published a total of 41 issues (including one double issue – May 1960, No. 26/27) until it ceased publication nearly 10 years later in 1963.

Stile Industria promoted design as one of the most important cultural forces in modern Italy and provided a platform for discussions about the aesthetic and meaning of modern design in an international context. The covers were designed by a who’s who of post-war Italian and international graphic designers and artists who gave them their unmistakable Italian appearance.

Collection: Stile Industria

Wherein I wax on a bit about Bill Holden's bare chest

One of the best things about watching a William Holden movie from the mid-50s to early 70s is there's a high degree of likelihood he'll be in some state of partial undress, rather a lot of the time. In fact, if you look at candid photographs of him out having his real life adventures, you'll see that he's often shirtless in those as well, or unbuttoned, wearing shorts, barefoot, etc. The man clearly enjoyed being a natural part of nature, though they say (they who say these things) that he was obsessed with showering, too. Well, maybe there's the answer; you take a shower four times a day, you tire of putting on a new set of clothes each time. 


But, and this is true of other Hollywood stars of his era and earlier, he is often seen onscreen with a hairless chest. They (same they or possibly another set altogether) say this was done for Picnic (1955) because he was (definitely but who cares?) a bit too old for the character he played, and the bare chest made him look younger. I dunno. That doesn't really add up for me, but whatever. His chest is also hairless in Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955) and The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957,) but not Sunset Blvd (1950,) The Bridges of Toko-Ri (1954) or Paris When it Sizzles (1964.) I don't remember at the moment what his chest hair condition was in The World of Suzie Wong (1960) but I think the reason we saw less of him in that film is in case it led us to figure out just what a man does with a call girl, and that would be bad.  Wong

So maybe in his case there was some kind of mid-late-50s ban on very hairy chests, which had him continually shaved up between Bridges and Paris, but other actors previously had this treatment as well. Funny Hollywood. They took the hair off men's chests, but added it to so many of their heads. 

I mean, Bill Holden had one seriously hairy chest. And even though I grew up in the hairy man 1970s, this is not something I normally find specifically appealing. However, there are sometimes special circumstances. I do like hunting for treasure.

Here's the man, hairless and hairy. 




"They let me grow it on my face."





Soon I'm going to do another gratuitous post about Bill, with images of him holding various (and mostly pointy) objects.


More William Holden pictures here, 3 pages so far. Yes, well. 

what's on your mind?


Gallo wines, 1962

This is so perfect. Look how he’s placed above her, elbow resting on a pillow with room to spare, and while the artist did a nice job of drawing our eye to the glass in her hand, we still shift back toward their faces, which clearly state,

“She’s got that look in her eye. I’ll loosen my tie in a minute and see if she smiles.”

“Can he tell what I’m thinking? How slowly should I sip this?”

“These glasses are rather small, perhaps I’ll refill them before I remove my jacket.”

“He seems quiet; I wonder if he’s expecting me to say something about this wine?”

“Hope she’s not wearing one of those goddamned girdles with all the hooks to undo…”

“What kind of plant is this? It’s awfully big.”

October 8, 1965: For the Economy-Minded Reader of Taste

I’ve shared a number of ads from the October 8 issue of LIFE. It’s a pretty interesting issue otherwise, as well, because it teaches you how to make beans and cassoulet, and about Hawaii, and something or other about China that I forget, and there’s this very touching article about a guy searching for his brother in Vietnam.

I gotta get some new issues; I keep reading the same ones over and over again!

Anyway. Was belt-tightening on the minds of the people? 

This is a nice approach, though I question the model choice. They’re like, “We’ve got this, okay?” And they don’t really apologize for not playing to the single malt crowd.

These people were playing to their own choir; just keeping their hand in, to mix up some metaphors into one awkward cocktail. They want you to think of yourself as the guy holding the glass. He’s got class, but also sense. I, in fact, don’t want you to think of yourself as that guy, because he looks like he’d seduce you with gentle words, then tie you up with a plastic clothesline so he can spank you while complaining about his mother. 

Apparently you can mix up stuff from Minnesota, put the name of a different country on the label, and proudly proclaim you’ve nailed Kentucky tradition. Because of the water there. Dude, they got limestone in New York, too. (And that is actually partly why their drinking water is freaking delicious.) But anyway, it’s just ridiculous over-the-top ad copy, and if Orson Welles had read it, he’d have slapped these people down but good. Just say it’s as cheap as your tonic water and be done with it. Serving up a TV dinner on the good china fools nobody. Speaking of which…

Gosh, honey, how did you make each one look so perfectly identical?

To digress for a moment, have you ever looked into the history of why mass-produced American beer tastes like such utter crap?

Here’s why.

Wait. Did they actually say "on the rocks???"

They tried desperately for years to get American women to drink more beer, so they watered it down, sometime after World War II, I forget the details. I think Budweiser was the first. They were all, man, people think we’re still German even though that was our great-grandparents who are all dead now. How do we sell more beer? And so. In the 50s & 60s, they tried to appeal to women. (If you’re old enough, you know who they turned their attention to in the 70s…)

It didn’t work fantastically at first, so they sort of repackaged the product to make it seem “special,” so women would want to drink it as something unique. All that really happened was alcoholics like my dad drank even more of it than before, because it took half a case to get the buzz going. Well done, Schlitz and company!

Back on the flipside of the economy coin, Remington laughed and said, “Plebeians.”

“Keep drinking your single malt and shave with this, Mr. Telephony Engineer. Chicks will want to touch you.”

Everyone else was a bit confused by the ad copy and started using disposables.


I was looking at the Frank Sinatra tag a short time ago and saw this photo. It struck me hard, how Italian it was. At least, Italian-American. Completely. But when I went back to look for it to reblog, I couldn’t find it. So I Googled “Frank Sinatra eating a sandwich” and found it at Life.com. My favorite website, really. Anyway. Molto Italiano. Hard to explain, maybe. But kind of awesome, to the aging 3rd generation.

In Which I Take a Photo of a Dogwood Tree, & Other Morning Tales

Each morning I prepare myself to go downstairs just before 8 o'clock. Downstairs is my office, after all, don't want to be late. I spend 30 minutes looking at news, weather, messages and school plans before waking the boys. During that time I also tidy anything left out the night before, and usually make myself a mug of coffee. 

This morning after rising, I looked out a window to note the dogwood tree leaves are now fully red, so I thought I'd pop outside and take a photo to share. After dressing and reflecting on the importance of appearing neat and pleasant for my boys, as an example and also because they should look back someday and remember their mother as pleasantly as possible, I grabbed my phone and the first book of a new series I'm reading, thinking I'd spend a few minutes looking it over before the day officially began, and headed down the stairs to the front door. I put the book on the hall table so I could go out to take the photo, but suddenly there were two cats at my feet, yowling for food. 

This was unusual, as the cats are kept on separate floors during the night. They do not get along. But there was Young Cat, along with Angry Cat, pretending to be affectionate in order to be fed. Cats think you might starve them if they don't pretend to be nice to you. I always fill their bowls at 8 o'clock, then open the door to let the Young one on the main floor so he can eat and hang out. Well, the food container was missing. I noticed yesterday we had only one day's worth left, but why would the whole thing be gone? I found it downstairs on the bar counter, and brought it up with cats clamoring all around me, and after putting it away, realized that my instructions for finishing the kitchen last night had gone completely unheeded. 

I personally keep the kitchen clean all day but do not do dishes except sometimes on weekends. That is what kids are for. Also, you gotta train em to do all this stuff for when they're grown up. But left to their own devices, it will always have been someone else's turn, and not get done at all. I went to bed too early! So I gathered it all onto one counter, cleaned the other counters, sink, and stove, and then went out to take my photo. 

It's beautiful outside today! And although I am wearing a sleeveless blouse, the sunshine kept me from caring about the morning chill. I emailed myself the photo and came in to look at the computer. Two of the kids were still logged in. There's something going on with the iMac lately, so that it works super slowly if more than one person is logged in. But I don't know their latest passwords. No, I'm not worried about them looking at porn or whatever. Because of plenty of reasons. Still, I logged in as well, and launched all three browsers, and Mail.  

Here is why I use three browsers. First, I have to use an old copy of Firefox for K12 Ohio Virtual Academy. The site doesn't work with Firefox 4. But I don't really like Firefox anyway. So I have 3.6 on here, just to manage the kids' school things. Next, since I began using Chrome as my regular browser, that launches iGoogle, and I check out the weather, my friends forum, Tumblr and Brizzly, the bank, etc. However, I also have to check in at Facebook each day. This is not because I consider it a verb. It is because that is where my brother communicates with the outside world, and where I see updates from the local parent group from OHVA. Since I don't want anywhere I visit on the web to think it knows me through Facebook, to try to make me "like" it or log in with my Facebook id in order to comment, which is still ridiculous and maddening after a year of this nonsense, I log into Facebook in Safari. And then now use Safari for nothing else except downloading music from a couple places which don't consider themselves adjuncts of Facebook. I prefer Safari to Chrome in a couple of key ways, but one or two bill-paying sites work better in Chrome, so it won the non-Facebook lottery. 

Anyway, it was all loading agonizingly slowly, and I couldn't log out of the boys' accounts without dragging them in here, so I just restarted the whole thing and went to fix my coffee. 

Then I was able to log back in, and resize my picture to share in this post I no longer had time to make until just now, completely out of proportion to the event. And then it was 8:30, time to wake the boys. On the way back to the stairs, I noticed the book I'd left on the hall table. Guess I'll just start reading it tonight. I got the first three of the series from the library, after buying five of them on Border's Last Day last month. 

So, here's my dogwood tree: Dogwood

Isn't it pretty?

In some of the corners of my mind these days

You can pretty much judge how depressed I am by how often I update this blog, because I can tweet or reblog at Tumblr no matter how things are going, but here, I want to have interesting stories to tell or thoughts to relate and I cannot do that when I'm feeling low. I also listen to less music, but you wouldn't be able to judge that. Take my word for it. It's unbalanced. And despite my abiding 4+ year love for Twitter and Tumblr, this is the place that's really all mine. 

So in the meantime, here's some vaguely personal stuff with details, but not really details. You know. I'm personal in only the most shallow ways possible.

I want to do NaNoWriMo this year but don't have my own computer. Partly that's okay; only one boy and I are sharing the iMac just now, as the other two were sent cheesy but useful PCs by K12. The thing is, all three of them sit on the dining room table and no matter how I adjust this chair, I end up with pain in my neck and sometimes nausea after sitting here for awhile. 2011-10-05 12.30.57
So that's not super inspiring. I'm so used to a laptop, mostly all I've used for, well, quite a few years. 

The problem is that I need the chair all the way up in order to face the tall screen correctly. But when I do that, I am typing several inches below where that would be correct. So when I do NaNo, I suppose I'll set the keyboard on something to elevate it, but it needs to not slide around…

None of that has anything to do with feeling low. I just do. Too much is not at peace, though our house here is a pleasant sanctuary in most ways. 

I miss my desk upstairs. I created a cozy little studio for writing, painting, and listening to music. But the desk is empty. 2011-10-05 13.04.05
It wants a new Macbook Pro, of course. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I stare at a canvas, listen to a little Frank Sinatra, then wander away to some other part of the house.

I need more poetry, classical music, and cushy furniture in my life. That wouldn't solve any problems, but it would be good. Of course, I can solve the first two needs easily, if I just think to. But the days are just packed, and so is my head. Novel reading has been my meditation lately.

Good things are that I live on the edge of two library systems; Cincinnati and Clermont County. There's a Cincinnati branch 3 miles west of here, and a Clermont branch 2 miles east. All media not at my fingertips is a short drive away, and completely free. 

And we found a great deal that allows us to bowl on Sunday mornings, and we found some parks; none you can get to by walking, as that doesn't seem to be a great priority in this area of the, er, area, but still fairly nearby. Just as in New Jersey, we live moments from a pike (historically; there aren't tolls these days,) which is a good path from way over there to way over there, but this one has almost no sidewalk, no shoulder, and has hills as well as curves, so we cannot use it for walking or cycling.

You see how flat and dull all this blather is? I'm not at peace, because others are not at peace, and I cannot make things better for them. Platitudes are useless. As well, little niggling "red tape" issues still invade my days. I'm no good at them, and they won't ever leave me alone. Avoiding them makes it all worse, of course.

Another good thing is that for the first time in I don't even ever, I have all the clothes I need, *and* I like them all. I've never been the sort of person who wants a huge wardrobe, and I don't much like winter clothing, so I tend not to prioritize that. But I now have two thin cardigans, two longer sweaters, several new tops, three pairs of jeans, two pairs of dress-up slacks, a half-dozen dresses, two jackets and a coat, and new underwear and bras. I even bought socks. I no longer have leather boots, which would be a welcome finishing touch, but I can manage without, if necessary. People do. And I still have good gloves and lots of scarves. I cannot abide bulky clothing, but layering can and will be done when it is too cold to pretend otherwise. 

So this is something moving to Ohio from New Jersey did for me. But we still have very many other needs here to be met. I'm out of focus there, but working on it. 

What I'd like to also do for myself is buy a Kindle Fire and let that be my go-between until I can somehow raise money for a new laptop. I had planned on a Tab or iPad, but they cost three times as much, and I can do with my phone any tablet function I wouldn't have with the new Kindle. It's a pretty great phone, though the next model along is what dreams are really made of, I guess.

Living in Ohio, I have found some people who are like those I met at the Jersey shore. I mean, of course, the real New Jersey shore. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.54.07 AM
People who live closer to nature, who still touch what they make, and who take in nature with the breath they can spare. But they seem to don't live on my street! 2011-10-05 13.45.41
I wish they did. Because otherwise, it is very artificial here, and there's something I'm having trouble grabbing hold of. I can't go back to the sea, to the people who communed with it. Lake Michigan is 300 miles away; it was like that there, too. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.48.42 AM
The seashore, even an inland seashore, breeds the spirit to which I most relate these days. And there's no sea here. Screen shot 2011-10-05 at 10.57.09 AM

There is a bit of color, though. So that's a very nice thing on a sunny warm day in October. Why ask for more? 2011-10-05 13.48.12