3

Soothing Summer: That’s So ’80s

Despite writing and editing for a few hours today, I went from 60 pages to…61 pages. Phooey.

Anyhoo, as I was walking home from the office in the rain, the song “Dancing on the Ceiling” started playing on my iPhone, and I couldn’t help but smile and recall one of my favorite YouTube videos of all time, the incredibly derpy opening to the 1988 Miss Universe Pageant.

Watch it here:

For some reason, it tickles me to watch these delightful vintage videos of women with awful hairdos dancing to corny music in useless costumes, and this one takes the cake. Skip to 2:00 for the fun to start, with a ribbon dance.

Here are my highlights:

2:20 – The producers decided to have some ladies sing a line in their native languages. Why they picked Miss France, I have no idea. She looks so bored.

2:45 – They used to have professional dancers for a reason. Most of these ladies look incredibly awkward, except Miss Scotland, who is totally on point. I’m surprised she didn’t place in the competition.

3:13 – Parade of Nations, beginning with Miss Argentina.

4:04 – And the Miss Air Pollution award goes to Erika Paoli, Miss Costa Rica. Just look at that hair height. Jeez.

4:45 – Poor Miss Honduras. She’s a little on the roly-poly side.

4:52 – Complete with a dissonant chord in the music, we get Nauseated Miss Iceland, who looks like she’s either possessed or about to puke, or both. Ironically, her roommate Miss Norway made it to the interview rounds and said that Miss Iceland was a fun roommate. Maybe they got drunk together.

5:58 – Miss Portugal is clearly on some kind of helium.

6:05 – The host delegate, Miss Republic of China, gets a few extra seconds for applause, which she uses to give the camera the “better give me the crown or I’ll kill you” eyes.

And finally, 8:43, where we get to experience Out-Of-Sync Miss Sri Lanka. Seriously, she can’t even wave her hands in the air correctly. You had one job, Miss Sri Lanka.

Also, if you look in the background at the flags, one of them is the flag of Gambia, a country which didn’t participate this year.

I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh. If you liked this post, check out my post from 3 years ago on Awkward Miss Estonia et. al.

Good night everybody.

14

In Praise of Paperback Paradise

So, I had a super profound post planned for today, but since a) I didn’t get around to it and b) I just ate ice cream and felt so guilty that I needed to laugh at something, I thought I’d share one of my favorite websites here.

A while ago, I posted about McCall’s Pattern Behavior, which is still updating and still hilarious, but Paperback Paradise updates daily and is just as funny, with classic book covers (or really bad ones) from the 1990s series we all loved like The Baby-Sitters Club, Hardy BoysNancy Drew, and others, with a special emphasis on the often ridiculous Sweet Valley books. I always found those to be the most contrived plotwise, even back then.

The covers are usually captioned with something completely inappropriate for the age group/situation (Oops I Just Farted), or are a literal interpretation of what you are seeing (as in: We’re Fucked). My favorite part, though, is that the font colors and styles completely match with the originals, so it’s almost like a historiographical reimagining of what could have been, or maybe what the authors/illustrators were really thinking. The owner even started writing snippets for some of the books, and if he/she ever pens a full length book for these, I would definitely buy a copy if only to scar my future children.

The images are under copyright by the website’s owner so it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to post them, but here’s one of my favorites, just to link you to it:

11

Forgotten Treasures and Secret Ephemera from Memorial Library

Today, I was looking for some books in the library. While I was going through the stacks and the lists of call numbers, I looked at all the codes “PN”, “DS”, “U”, etc., and knew that they meant something, but I wasn’t sure what. So, I looked it up and it turns out that those funny little letters are a code from the Library of Congress.

Most LOC categories make sense; they’re a way of putting like things together, like books on environmental science with books on ecology, or Russian drama with Russian folktales. Some of the categories, however, seemed odd, either in their specificity or their bland subject matter. So, I decided to find my favorite ones and see what the library here at the University of Wisconsin had to offer me. I skipped the ones under N (art) and K (law) because those books are all in a different building, but I went through the rest of the list. For some of the call numbers, I went to the section and either found nothing, or looked at the books and was like “…oh, this actually could be valuable information for someone.” But there were plenty of odd books to be found all over.

Join me on this fun adventure.

First stop:

BJ2195. Telephone etiquette.

There were no books on the shelf under this call number, disappointingly, but the closest book of etiquette was Manners in Business by Elizabeth Gregg MacGibbon. Published in 1937, its table of contents include Getting Along with the Boss, Meeting the Public, Etiquette in Correspondence, Sex in Business, The Party Side of Business, After Office Hours, and Getting Ahead in Business. I really wonder what kind of businessman/businesswoman this was written for.

CC200-260. Bells, campanology, cowbells.

Yup. Bells. Just bells. There were actually a number of books on this shelf, including one aptly titled The Little Book of Bells. What caught my attention was Legends of the Bells by Ernest Morris. Literally, a bunch of folk tales about bells.

CT9999. Blank books for personal records, diaries, etc.

Why would you need a blank book in a library? Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? There was only one item, a British Empire day planner from 1939. It was actually quite a lovely artifact, with a British Empire event for every day of the year. It was not written in, so there was not much to see there.

GV401-433. Physical education facilities. Sports facilities including gymnasiums, athletic fields, playgrounds, etc.

Here, I found American Playgrounds: Their Construction, Equipment, Maintenance, and Utility by Everett B. Mero (second edition! I wonder why they needed one…) Chapters included Playgrounds in Waste Places, Making Children Generally Useful, Simple Marching and Running, Interesting the Big Brothers, Fathers and Uncles, Sand Gardens for Little Children, and School Gardens. Shockingly enough, there were indeed several other books on the construction of playgrounds and play areas. Possible dissertation topic? I think so.

GV435-437. Physical measurements. Physical tests, etc.

With a lovely blue cover depicting ladies playing tennis and golf was Maryhelen Vannier‘s magnum opus, the immense book of Physical Activities for College Women. It was chock full of great info on how to do various things like sports, folk dances, and even surfing, but Chapter Two is probably one of the greatest chapters in the history of literature: Body Mechanics and Movement Fundamentals, with subsections on Body Standing, Walking, Stair Climbing, Standing Stationary, Running, Sitting, Lifting, Carrying, Pushing and Pulling, and my personal favorite, Getting Into and Out of A Car. I would now like to read to you from Page 26:

GETTING INTO AND OUT OF A CAR

This is easier to do in some makes of cars than others. It can be done gracefully when getting into most automobiles by remembering to:

  1. First sit on the seat, face to the outside.
  2. Swing one foot in and forward, then the next.
  3. Swing the body around, facing forward with the second leg movement, sit erect, keep shoulders balanced, and your rear far back in the seat.
  4. In getting out of the car, reverse order of actions.

I am totally not making this up. I even have photographic evidence that this was written. In a book. And published. In 1969.

HQ800. Single people.

Yes, an entire call number devoted to the art of being single. There were a lot of self-help titles here, but what really jumped out at me was Why Are You Single? Well, that’s a brash question to ask, and very personal of you too, book. Why Are You Single? was written in 1949. It has twelve authors, and was compiled by Hilda Holland, who probably had a very sad life. Every chapter and sub-chapter title is a complete winner, but a handful of my favorite sub-sections are: Advice for the Working Girl, The Honeymoon, How to Overcome Momism, Marriage as Defense, Fitness for Wedlock, It’s Never Too Late, Ways Out of a Trap, and Why Get Married? Obviously, these people have a lot of opinions.

PM9999. Secret languages.

When I came to this section, I actually jumped into the stacks Mission: Impossible style, for fear someone would see me and get suspicious. Sadly, there were only two books on the shelf. One was in Italian, and one was The Complete Enochian Dictionary: A Dictionary of the Angelic Language by Donald C. Laycock. Yep, a book about the language of angels. Huh. I guess the rest of the books will remain a secret.

SH388-391. Algae cultures.

I was disappointed not to find anything under SH393 – I really wanted to see the latest literature on sea grasses – but Jose Rodolfo Lim gifted us with Farming the Ocean. 101 ways to use seaweed in your everyday life. Riveting.

TS2301. Toys.

Mostly a how-to section. There was a thick book on the history of the top, but How To Make Foreign Dolls and Their Costumes by Julienne Hallen is a healthy dose of 1950s handicrafts. Especially exciting is the section on how to make dolls for your dolls. Dolls for your dolls. Dollception.

TT980-999. Laundry work.

There’s a history of everything, including how to do one’s laundry. Household Textiles and Laundry Work by Durga Deulkar (also a second edition!) dishes you the dirt on detergents, laundry equipment, and vessels.

And that’s how I spent two hours sending myself on a library scavenger hunt.

In other news, I’ve gotten 100+ views for three days straight, so welcome all readers new and old. Which gives me an idea -of which one of these books would you like me to legitimately check out, read, and write a review? Leave your title of choice in the comments, and I’ll read and review it so you don’t have to! Here’s what’s on the table.

  •  Manners in Business by Elizabeth Gregg MacGibbon
  • Legends of the Bells by Ernest Morris
  • American Playgrounds: Their Construction, Equipment, Maintenance, and Utility by Everett B. Mero
  • Physical Activities for College Women by Maryhelen Vannier
  • Why Are You Single? by Hilda Holland
  • Farming the Ocean by Jose Rodolfo Lim
  • How To Make Foreign Dolls and Their Costumes by Julienne Hallen
  • Household Textiles and Laundry Work by Durga Deulkar 

Choose wisely, friends!

5

That’s So Random: Manny Pacquiao, Noodles and Company, and Me

I sit here, alone, in the dark…because I don’t have a roommate, and for the third day in a row I forgot to buy a light bulb for the table lamp in my living room because I am an idiot.

Anyway, first topic of the day. I was at the gym earlier, and a familiar face came on the television screen: Manny Pacquiao. And honestly? I don’t get the appeal. Apologies to all the  Filipinos reading this, but if he wasn’t Filipino, would you still like him? Would he still be famous? I mean, I can’t name any American boxers, which shows not only how much I know about boxing but how little America promotes its boxers. Wait, I just thought of a boxer…Oscar de la Hoya! But wait, he’s not American, and it took me five minutes of staring into space to rack through my brain to figure that out. My brain: John Leguizamo…Chi Chi Rodriguez…Patrick Swayze…Julie Newmar…Julie Andrews…the Oscars…ding! 

Whenever I see Pacquiao on TV, he always seems to be bored, and when he speaks, he mumbles. He even looks boring in pictures; half the time he just looks confused. Everything about him just seems so ordinary and arbitrary. Even if I don’t like an athlete personally, or know absolutely nothing about their sport, I can usually see their appeal, whether it be through their looks, their skill, or their attitude towards the sport.  For example, I could see how Tiger Woods (pre-scandal) could be appealing; he has a nice smile, he was charismatic (maybe too charismatic), and he took golf to a whole new level. Same with Lindsey Vonn for the Winter Olympics, and Michael Phelps for swimming. Tonya Harding, for what it’s worth, really put her entire being into her ice skating, and though she is probably a terrible person in real life, I admire her strength and her pluckiness; it’s not hard to see why someone out there would like her. Mark McGwire, Michelle Kwan, Usain Bolt, Johnny Manziel, Serena Williams…they’ve all got it, in one way or the other. But Pacquiao? Just don’t see it.

In other news, I went to Noodles and Company for lunch, and I guess I was just feeling silly or something, because after I put in my order I just kind of launched into a random story to the cashier. I have no recollection as to what it was about, but there was something about wanting to have a pet chicken named Irving, and what if I put my name on the order as Bueller, and then left? He asked for my name, and I guess I was on a roll, because I said “just put it under Captain Ravenwolf…okay fine, you can use my real name, which is Jacob, spelled ZQRWX1324-theta-yellow-Foxtrot.” At this point, the cashier was laughing so hard he was crying a little, which prompted me to say, “Are you crying? There’s no crying at Noodles and Company!”

After he caught his breath, I handed over my credit card, and he said, “No, this one’s on me. I needed that. Thanks.”

And that’s how I got a free meal at Noodles and Company today.

15

McCall’s Me Maybe

I found this website today that just got my giggles on, and I have no idea why. It’s a tumblr called “McCall’s Pattern Behavior” run by someone named Natalie, who puts captions on pictures of McCall’s dress patterns.

And it’s funny as heck. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of Anne Taintor.

My favorites:

image

:”Patty I think

I think that’s a urine sample”

“Were you shopping

No

Were you sweeping

No”

“Seriously Ruth-Ann

Do you have a blazer for every holiday

Jesus you’re annoying”

 

Okay, off to finish my second book of the week! Hiiii-ya!

6

Today I Learned Something New About Cars

Basically, the title of the post says it all, but here is the story anyways.

So, today, I felt like altering my plans of sitting and doing not much else other than watching Twin Peaks and making several cups of coffee with my new Keurig by heading to the Columbus Antique Mall. I love antique stores, and I usually have the self-control not to buy much, but I just kept seeing things that I liked today and ended up with $60 worth of stuff, including a knick-knack shelf, a limited edition Princess Diana beanie baby (the grand prize of the 1990s) and an awesome red quilted jacket/shirt thing that is a tiny bit small but it’s one fine piece of clothing and comfortable, too. Once, I saw a beautiful brown quilted jacket at that very same antique mall, tried it on, loved it, and then put it back because it was a bit too small. I’ve been kicking myself ever since, so today when I saw the red one on the form, I was like “mine.” The sleeves are way short, but I can roll them up, and I can only get the bottom two frogs closed unless I want to wear it open, which is fine by me.

Anyway, the car story.

So, riding high on my antique mall buys, I head home with about a half a tank of gas left. I could probably go until Madison, but there’s a $2.34/unleaded Kwik Trip right at the edge of Columbus, so I go there instead. I exit my car, put in my credit card, then try to open the gas door. And guess what?

It’s locked.

It’s been known to be finicky in the past, but it just wouldn’t budge. Fortunately, there was an attendant on duty (which so few gas stations have these days; get on that, gas stations) and he tried and tried but couldn’t get it. So, after a phone call with Dad, I call Triple-A, and get a chipper woman named Bethany who sounds slightly high but is curious as to why my gas door is acting the way it is. I tell her that I probably have enough gas to get home, so I can take it to a mechanic in the morning, but then she stops me and asks for my make/model/year, and then goes to the Internet because it’s in front of her, to help find a solution. I guess this is what Triple-A people do in their spare time, just like every other working person on the planet. After I fail to find any sort of lever inside the car to open my gas door, she suggests:

“Why don’t you try unlocking all the doors of your car.”

Beep-beep. Beep-beep. And…BAM. It worked. Thank you, Bethany at Triple-A! I had not even thought about that. I knew I had the back doors locked, because I was scared that the door would open and the shelf would fly out, but I didn’t think that would mean anything.

Apparently, in some cars (or at least mine), doors locked = all doors locked, including gas door.

Seriously, I did not know this.

I called Dad on the way home and told him, to which he was like, “oh, that’s news to me” and then proceeded to tell me a completely unrelated story about one time when he was getting gas near the courthouse and locked his keys in the car. Great contribution, Dad.

And that’s how I learned that in order to get the gas door open in the car, I need to have all the doors unlocked.

Lesson learned.

Oh, and BTW, I was watching my interactive map yesterday and in mid-afternoon I had exactly two visitors: one from Northampton, Massachusetts, USA, and the other from Northampton, England, UK. What are the odds?

2

Masterpiece YouTube: Lauren Ireland, “If American Girl Dolls Were Real Dolls,” 2014

I usually don’t do this for recent videos, but this one is a particular masterpiece.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 16: Lauren Ireland, “If American Girl Dolls Were Real Dolls,” 2014

I was on BuzzFeed, because who isn’t, and I came across this video. Being a child of the 90s, (yes, even a boy who had a sister in the 90s and had enough female friends to know who the American Girl dolls were), I was curious about this. Personally, I hadn’t thought of American Girl dolls in quite some time. Well, actually, that’s a lie, because I recently learned that American Girl’s headquarters are in Middleton, Wisconsin, which is about ten minutes down the road from where I currently live; actually, just about on my street. So I’ve been kind of curious about that. But then, I found this video, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.

To tell you the truth, I have not kept up with American Girl over the years. I remember when there were just five – heck, I remember when there was just four, Addy was introduced when I was in elementary school – and other than the Hispanic one, who entered the scene just as I stopped caring about liking everything my sister liked, and Kit, the Great Depression doll, because of the movie that they made about her. Apparently, according to the article above, American Girl has now been taken over by Mattel, who also own Barbie, and the dolls have been “Barbie-fied,” that is, more emphasis on accessories than history, which is kind of what separated the American Girl dolls from Barbie in the first place, the fact that they actually stood for something historical, as opposed to Barbie, who couldn’t even stand upright if she were a real person.

But, the video. It’s a comedy bit about the American Girl dolls out to lunch, or tea, or something, and the great thing about it is that it goes exactly how I thought the American Girls would actually be like. Of course, Samantha’s gotta have the first word, and at 00:15, I spotted the first error: Samantha refers to Grandmama, when from the books, I distinctly remember that she called her Grandmary. And I’m right, so one point for me. The girls are all over the place with their hilariously mistimed orders, and Molly kills it with her “canned tomato soup” comment. The waiter’s not impressed, and asks them if they’re American Girl dolls, to which Samantha (of course) goes, “Well, we are American Girls.” At 01:06, though, there’s another error, when Kirsten doesn’t know what a doll is, which I found kind of curious since I assumed that Kirsten would have probably had a doll herself, and I’m right again (two strikes, Miss Ireland). Then there’s the Addy bit, which is funny because it is true, she was kind of boring. And then Kit comes over as the manager, and Samantha throws some shade her way Regina George-style. I can’t say that I’m surprised. And of course, Samantha gets the last word, “I’m an orphan!”

In spite of two factual errors (Well, let’s face it; there were plenty of errors in historical fact in the dolls themselves. Just ask Addy.) this is pretty funny, and shows just how awkward 90s girls were and that I was not alone in thinking that the American Girl dolls were probably weird in their own time as well. I’m not too sold on the Kirsten impression, but then again, Kirsten was kind of a loose cannon all along her story arc. This video is a masterpiece because it shows that comedy is indeed collectible. I hope that she makes more shorts like these – I wonder what would happen if, say, Felicity tried Uber, or Kirsten faced an ATM, or Samantha got called out for having resting bitch face or something.

This video actually made me try to imagine what the American Girls would do today. So, imagine a Friends-type scenario, if you will:

Samantha is definitely the high-powered business type. She has a 9 to 5, and plays tennis and golf on the weekends. She is constantly on her cell phone. Her pastimes including going on moderately successful dates and then coming home and complaining to the rest of the girls about how there are no good men out there, and how she’ll be perpetually single. She has a very obvious crush on one or more of her male co-workers, despite her “independent woman” front. Her wardrobe includes power suits and pumps, and on her days off, she’s in power suits and pumps (she does, however, alternate between slacks and skirts of a tasteful length). She’s definitely a Sarah Palin supporter, but when questioned, deflects to any other topic. Her drink of choice is a dry martini.

Felicity has a B.A. in English and is pursuing her Master’s in Creative Writing, perpetually in school, with a quill pen on her person at all times. She works at Planned Parenthood to pay the bills, but her heart is in mentoring the troubled teenage girls she meets there. She is generally calm, except for when you ask her about her career plans, and when you gently suggest she quit writing and go for a degree in public health or counseling or something, she scorns you to no end. Generally the happy-go-lucky peacemaker of the group, she enjoys yoga and is training to be a Zumba instructor in her spare time. She would have cats if only her roommate, Samantha, wasn’t “allergic.” Samantha and Felicity work well as roommates because they balance each others’ personalities out, and when it comes to personal politics, well, they agree to disagree. Her drink of choice is kombucha.

Molly lives across the hall from Samantha and Felicity (Never Felicity and Samantha, always Samantha and Felicity). She’s the rational one of the group, and is constantly untangling the other girls from their messes. She works at an independent bookstore/coffee shop, and although she loudly decries Starbucks every chance she gets, she secretly adores their caramel macchiatos and peppermint mochas, and disguises them in her refillable coffee cups. She’s into theatre and sometimes runs stage crew or stage manages for community theatre productions. She loves watching sports on TV but would rather not play because of, you know, her glasses. The other girls talk her into contacts, and she gives in for a brief period of time, but only wears them when begged to. Her drink of choice is cappuccino.

Addy lives with Molly, who she found through a Craigslist ad. She teaches middle school, and is completely overworked, doing things like coaching the girls’ volleyball team, heading up the pep squad, representing on the PTA, and basically whatever her principal throws her way. She is a pessimist and hates her job, but has a soft spot for the kids. She looks great in pretty dresses, but prefers sweats. She’s constantly trying out new names, and will one day get around to changing hers; she’s narrowed it down to Ghebremariam, Tyleisha, or Crystal. Her drink of choice is apple juice with a little something extra.

Kirsten is one of those people who you look at like, “what the hell is up with her,” but little do you know, she’s got her whole life figured out but is not telling anyone. She’s always hanging out at one of the two apartments, sleeping on Samantha/Felicity’s couch until she drools or drops some olive tapenade on it one day and is banished to Addy/Molly’s, who take care of her for awhile, but then somehow manage to move her back across the hall. No one is quite sure what she does all day, or where she actually lives. She does do her fair share of the cooking and cleaning, though, wherever she is, and she’s pleasant to be around, so nobody really minds her that much. She has been seen dumpster diving, and she makes a lot of jewelry that no one really wants or needs. She seems to make friends everywhere she goes, and she may or may not have a boyfriend. Every so often, one of the girls will walk in on her either in the bathroom or hidden in a corner, talking in angry, rapid-fire Swedish, and when she notices, she turns red with embarrassment, hangs up, and asks how the weather is outside today. Her drink of choice is water from the kitchen sink, or just straight vodka.