Thursday, July 14, 2005

Misc. Stuff, Including More Barbies I Can Get Behind

I had some minor computer troubles lately that made using Blogger a pain, but here's some fun stuff I would have otherwise posted this past week.

I've seen altered dolls before, but I didn't realize the extent of this little subculture/hobby/craft. I was browsing the pattern catalogues in Wal-Mart last week, looking for a particular style of dress, and came across Simplicity number 4696, a Barbie--sorry, 11 1/2 inch fashion doll--"Extreme Doll Makeover". Actually it's patterns for a couple of outfits with instructions for modifications that may or may not be extreme. That very night, while looking for something else, I happened to come across the delightfully-named website of the woman who made the two dolls pictured on Simplicity #4696. Her Doll Gallery is fantastic; the Valkyrie section is my favorite, although there are great-looking dolls in every section and I particularly like the Chicks in Chain Mail doll. (Chicks in Chain Mail is a series of light-hearted fantasy stories, edited by Esther Freisner and featuring, as you might guess, chicks in chain mail. I've not read all the books, but I enjoyed what I read.) The dolls' weapons are made by the dollmaker's husband, a knifemaker; I like all the weapons, but the Barbie-sized battle ax made me ooh and aww more than anything. For people who want to alter their own dolls, Valkyrie has a lot of tips.

To see more people's altered dolls, search Dogpile or EBay for the terms FDMAA or OOAK. In addition to altered 11 1/2 inch fashion dolls, you'll also find "reborn" baby dolls and others.

I enjoy Maclin Horton's posts on the Caelum et Terra blog, but the most interesting post of his this past week was his link to what he calls "the definitive judgement on Harry Potter." I could find some things to quibble with in the post he links to, but it is pretty close to what he says it is.

I believe the Regina Doman who wrote that judgement on HP is the same Regina Doman or Schmiedicke who wrote an article on liturgical dressing in Domestic-Church. I'm not interested in dressing according to the liturgical colors for the simple reason that I don't look good in any of those colors except green (and not the shade of green usually seen in priest's vestments either), but I'm fascinated by her account of the Mary Dress and the Mary Jumper because I prefer simplicity of dress and am interested in pattern-free clothes. I just wish she'd posted photos of her wearing samples of each.

The current Foamy has Germaine making her own clothes because all the clothing in the local stores is "slutwear for teens". A recent episode had her complaining that she couldn't find a pair of pants without something written across the butt. Now if it were Jerry Falwell complaining that would be one thing. And if it were a non-prudish but decidedly grumpy person such as myself complaining--and I assure you I have been doing so the past couple of years--that would be another thing. But when a Gothy, bitch-hermit wannabe, tank-top-wearer like Germaine is fed up with how revealing fashions are, things have officially gone too far.

I think the tide is turning, albeit slowly. I'm seeing more knee-length skirts, and hear talk of the "sexy librarian" look (a big step up from the cheap whore look), gypsy skirts, and prairie dresses. Also I think the minor fad-let of girls wearing revealing slip-dresses over jeans comes from a (possibly unconscious) desire for more modesty; it reminds me of Wendy Shalit talking about women wearing split skirts who, when a breeze comes by, instinctively try to close the slit.

(I don't remember where I read that bit from Shalit, but she has several things available online. Click here for the first chapter of her book and here for a speech she gave.)

I've seen many hummingbirds, but I have never seen a hummingbird nest. Here's a story-in-photos of a hummingbird nest and its occupants. Even if you're grossed out by baby birds and glossy, full-color, photographic depictions of bird shit, keep going till the end--the size comparison is amazing. (Link via The Anchoress.)

Here's a pattern I want to try: Dolly Hugs. It's a small cloth doll that is made so that its arms will drape around a child's neck as if it were hugging the child. Yeah, yeah, it sounds nauseating, but the doll looks cute and the pattern is incredibly simple. The pattern is free, provided it's used for non-commercial, preferably charitable purposes. That's the other part I like--the pattern was created with troubled children in mind.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"Sometimes Even Good Men Go Away"

Mudville Gazette has songs written by American soldiers. Chesterton talked about modern people not singing but listening to one man sing, for the inadequate reason that he does it better, when we should all sing and write our own songs, etc. That is true folk art--art by ordinary folks. I think Chesterton would approve of these men's efforts, just as I think he would approve of filk.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Team America (/England/Catholic) Song, Bound to Offend Someone

Stuttaford in the Corner linked to the following 7/7/05 tribute to England: For Our British Friends. Do not click on it if you are offended by a certain versatile four-letter word that is often thought to be Anglo-Saxon, but is actually a Dutch borrowing; in fact, you should skip this post. The tribute is the Team America song, with "England" replacing "America". So, sing with me:

Benny Hill--**** Yeah!
Maggie Thatcher--**** Yeah!
James Bond--**** Yeah!
Dead parrots pining for the fjords--**** Yeah!
Longbows--**** Yeah!
Cheerfully adopting words from other languages, so English bears the postmark of every place we've ever visited--**** Yeah!
Fish and chips---**** Yeah!
Churchill--**** Yeah!

Well, you get the idea. Though longbows--at least those really great ones at Agincourt--were Welch, and the best James Bond was played by a Scotsman. I figure the whole UK counts.

I told Uncle Pookie about this, and happened to mention "weird hats".

Uncle Pookie: We need to make one for the Vatican.
Me: [pause] SWISS GUARDS!
U.P.: **** Yeah! Bulletproof Pope-mobile! **** Yeah! Moral authority over billions of people! **** Yeah! Tall hats! **** Yeah!...Apostolic succession! **** Yeah!

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Pray for Us

Thanks to our move last year, I live pretty close to the Gulf Coast. We seem pretty safe here--from this one, anyway--but whenever a hurricane might hit anywhere near New Orleans, I think of Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Protection from hurricanes may not be what she is famous for, but I suspect she's been prayed to many times when hurricanes were imminent. Possibly even by some of the same people who have hurricane parties in boarded-up bars in the French Quarter while waiting for the hurricane. :-)

Saturday, July 09, 2005

I'm Starting to Suspect I Have No Life

In the tradition of James Lilek's Gallery of Regrettable Food, it's Threadbared.Com. Great old sewing pattern envelopes (also knitting, crochet, and macrame pics) and plenty of snarkiness. Viewing is especially recommended for when you're feeling snarky. Very funny. Although I could have lived just fine without their informing me of the existence of butt bras.

Friday, July 08, 2005

We Band of Brothers (and Sisters)

I am pleased to see that England is handling yesterday's terrorist attacks on London civilians so well. I often fear that the Anglosphere is losing its collective backbone, but it looks as if England, at least, is still made of stronger stuff than Spain.

As for the terrorists, I am, as a Catholic, compelled to pray for the souls of my enemies, and I do frequently pray for a conversion of heart for all terrorists. But I hope that meanwhile they are all brought to swift justice. It does me no credit to say so, but I'll confess I don't particularly care if the justice they meet is tempered with mercy or not; we women can be bloodthirsty when it comes to the protection and defence of our own.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Art Attacks

No, not When Art Attacks, but Art Attacks, a British arts & crafts program for children. I've never seen it, but its website has a lot of fun projects available. They're meant for children, but many of them would be just as much fun for adults. Check it out:

Ma'am/Sir and Mr./Mrs./Miss/Miz

In The Corner today Rod Dreher linked to a Dallas News article on the decline of ma'am and sir and there was some talk about that and Mr./Mrs./Miss. I've commented on honorifics before, but here's a few more comments.

Like Dreher, I grew up being taught to say ma-am and sir. I'm not extremely attached to the terms (a polite yes or no has never bothered me), but I do favor their general use by children and their being used by nearly everyone when talking to the very elderly (other elderly people excepted.) The terms may be in decline even here in the South, but they haven't died out all together. And I'll admit that I always think more favorably of people who use those terms; when I hear those terms coming easily to the lips of someone my age, I know that person was "raised right".

Also like Dreher--probably because he was brought up in Louisiana and I in Mississippi--I was brought up calling most adults by their first name plus Mr. or Miss. (Incidentally, we pronounced Miss in those circumstances more like Ms., possibly because of its being used for both married and unmarried women.) Some adults--for example, schoolteachers--we called by their last name plus honorific. We never called adults by their first name. Back then I would have been shocked to hear a fellow child call an adult by his first name, and I do not like to hear it even now.

The first name plus honorific custom is still alive, by the way. Possibly more so than the ma'am/sir thing. I hope it doesn't decline further, because I think preserving distinction between adults and children is a good idea. Even if adults are all pretending to be chums by insisting on first names, children aren't adults and having children use honorifics for adults helps foster respect of authority.

It may be silly, but it recently occurred to me I would really like for someone--anyone--to call me Mrs. F----. Just once. I've been married ten and a half years and I don't think anyone has ever called me Mrs. Married Name. I've received a few letters addressed to Mrs. Suzanne --- and the diocesan newspaper is addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Uncle Pookie, but no one has ever called me Mrs. Pookie. Being called Miss Suzanne by politely brought up children, while nice, isn't quite the same, as I've been called that since at least the age of seventeen. Being called by my first name only is definitely not the same. It's a small thing, but it would be nice to hear. I'm an old married woman myself, but I suspect there may be a few brides out there who, deprived of ever hearing it in our first-name-only society, might like to be called Mrs. New Last Name.

The funny thing about my wanting to be called Mrs. ---- is that I actually had to think for a while before I decided to take my husband's last name. I always knew I would never want to marry, then I did decide to marry but had to think about whether to take his name or not, now I just wish someone would actually call me Mrs. Life's a funny old thing.

Japan v. Contemporary America

Azrael, of "I am a Japanese School Teacher", has a newish post that compares how the death of one of his students was handled by the Japanese school to how the death of one of his classmates in his own US (Californian, I think) school was handled. Guess which approach works better, A.) disrupting normal routine, encouraging students to emote about their trauma, and bringing in grief counselors, or B.) having a brief talk about it, then expecting everyone to soldier on.

Speaking of Japan, Rich Lowry's recent cover article--I think it was "Unleash Japan!"--in National Review is really interesting and worth reading.