Monday, March 16, 2009

But Before There Was Barbie...

There was Suzette. And I would be remiss if I didn't give her equal credit.

A full year before Barbie changed my life, there was another fashion doll who took center stage in my imaginary world. Suzette and boyfriend Bob were made by the Uneeda company. If I'm not mistaken, they were exclusive to the W. T. Grant department store, of which there was one in my local shopping center. Here they are:

These are not my original two. These are two that I bought at America's Yard Sale, eBay. But these are exactly like the ones I had when I was six or seven. Suzette is an inch shorter than Barbie. And she has a bigger head and bigger feet. But she can wear the clothes. That's one of Barbie's dresses she's wearing in the picture. Shoes are harder to come by these days. But I'm lucky enough to have found two pairs. Bob, on the other hand, has to make do with Ken's hand-me-downs. The pants are too long and the shirts too big. But he doesn't seem to mind, does he?

There were a couple of others in the Fifties. Little Miss Revlon. Tammy. Miss Toni.

Barbie may not have been the first, but she's definitely the reigning queen. It's always about Marketing, isn't it?

Enjoy your day, whoever your playmate might be.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

I'm a Barbie Girl

The girl looks pretty good for 50, doesn't she?

I've never been one to put my age out there, but there are no secrets left when I say that I had an original Barbie when I was eight years old. Barbie was my best friend, my playmate, my cool much older sister who already knew all the answers to questions I hadn't even formed yet.

So of course I'm excited to see her reach this milestone. And still be so cool. I don't know where my Barbie is. I remember giving some things to my best friend's little sister when I was in high school. Julie Hartley, if you have my Barbie....I want her back!!

I do still have my original Midge, though. And here she is:

In the early days, when you would purchase a Barbie fashion, you would receive with it a little catalogue showing you all the other wonderful outfits that were available for the girls. I found one of my old booklets in which I'd marked each page with a check or an X so that Santa would know which ones to bring me. This one was always one of my favorites:

It's called "Solo in the Spotlight." Yes, each outfit had a name. Of course it did. Why not? That's a reproduction in the picture, although I do still have my slinky black evening gown from the fifties. It's not quite as fresh as that one, but it still fits.

Certainly there are detractors who say that Barbie is bad for little girls. She represents an idealistic body shape that no woman can ever achieve. She objectifies women. She stereotypes little girls.

That's simply not true.

I adored Barbie - still do - but I also played with trucks and trains and guns - yes, guns! I played baseball, basketball and football with all the boys in the neighborhood. I don't have a body like Barbie's. I don't expect to. I'm very comfortable with the one I have.

Playing with Barbie and Midge was the beginning of my life as a writer. Oh, the stories we would star in! We could travel the world - properly accessorized, of course - without ever leaving the corner of my bedroom. We were spies. We were cowboys. We were doctors and zookeepers. Each day we spun a new tale.

And we never needed Ken. I was not interested. Completely bored with the possibility. What fun would it be to dress him? All he had were trousers and shirts. How mundane.

Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, I can type a few keys and find all the Vintage Barbie fashions for sale. Some at a perfectly reasonable price. I'm slowly amassing the wardrobe I didn't have for my Barbie when I was eight. It's fun.

You've got to give the old girl credit. She looks pretty good for fifty, doesn't she? I wish I would be around to see how she looks at one hundred. Maybe my great-great-granddaughter will have one.

Take good care of your toys. And they will take care of you.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Possibly my favorite of all my ebooks is TOUGHER THAN DIAMONDS. That's the one that's set in Tampa. It's sort of my homage to all those great Bogie and Bacall movies that typify Film Noir. The book was released exactly two years ago. So you can imagine my surprise when this review turned up on my Google Alert yesterday:

"This story was exceptionally easy to read, with excellent characters! Rebecca was both sophisticated and easy to like. The author did a fantastic job showing the reader all the layers of Rebecca’s psyche. She was feisty, intelligent, and lovable.

Jake was also intriguing, with a macho exterior and a marshmallow interior. A true man’s man with sensitivity and the ability to love someone without too much angst. I truly enjoyed reading their story."

This review came from Rista Tompkins at The Romance Readers Connection. Thanks very much to Rista for finding this book and for liking it.

This kind of attention is extremely good for a writer. Like I've said many times before, writing is a solitary experience. It's also a long, long time between writing the words and receiving any pay off. All these reviews that show up on the Internet are very valuable to a writer.

Now I suppose I should get busy and finish the current project. Yes, that's a good idea.

Have a great day!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Sing Us a Song....

You're the Piano Men.
And sing us a song, they did.

I've been playing the piano since I was seven years old. My mother told the story that after visiting a friend who had a piano, she saw me sitting on the bed, fingering an imaginary keyboard. Very shortly thereafter, a piano showed up at my house.

Mrs. Johnson once told someone that I was the best student she ever had. She never said that to me, of course. To me she said, "Cut your nails!" and "Slow down!"

But I still have to thank Mrs. Johnson for keeping me in love with the piano, even after The Beatles took over the rest of my musical life.

My favorite all time piece of music written for the piano? That would be Rachmaninoff's Variations on a Theme by Paganini. I loved it even before it was used in the movie "Somewhere in Time." (Which, by the way, is the reason my son's name is Christopher, but that's another story).

But my favorite live performance by a pianist? That would be last night at the Ice Palace in Tampa, Florida. Sir Elton John and Billy Joel. I've seen these two in concert together two other times, about fifteen years ago. I think I love them best when they're doing each other's songs.

The show opened with "Your Song" and closed with "Piano Man." And the energy never flagged in between. From the roots-rocking "Italian Restaurant" to the audience participation "Tiny Dancer," both artists held us captive in their hands for three hours.

And their hands! I've seen a lot of concert pianists play Gershwin, Mozart, Beethoven. They all have large hands with long, slender fingers. These two guys - cowboys, the local paper called them today, and I can't disagree with that - have little chubby hands with short pudgy fingers. How do they reach those octaves? On Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man," his hands moved so fast there was nothing but a blur on the jumbo screen.

It was the ultimate "Jellyrolls" last night. Dueling pianos manned by the two greatest pianists of our generation.

We were all in the mood for a melody. And they had us feeling all right.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What I've Been Reading

"There is an undeniable pleasure in stepping into an open-top sports car driven by a beautiful woman."
- Dr. Gregory House

Oh, wait a minute. It wasn't House who said that. It was Thomas Lang, protagonist of the novel THE GUNSELLER, written by Hugh Laurie.

So maybe House did say it, after all.

If you've heard rumors that I've been involved in a mammoth House-a-thon, then you know where my head's been of late. Inside the mind of the evil - or is that heartwarming - Dr. House.

One of the various book stores to which I have the rewards/loyalty/preferred customer card had a deal on box sets of DVDs. I'd been confused ever since this season started with that whole Wilson's Dead Girlfriend thing, so I decided the really best way to get it all sorted out was to start from the beginning.

So I did. And in very short order, I watched the first four seasons of House in their entirety, including special features, bloopers and producer's commentary. Of course, then I had withdrawal. And that's when I remembered the book:

This is a really fun read whether you're a House fan or not. I had a tendency to picture the curmudgeonly doctor as I was reading, but you don't have to do that to enjoy it. It's very witty and quite an adventure. The hero - and I use that term loosely, as House would prefer - is one of those reluctant to be in the role but who does the right thing in the end.

Hugh Laurie is an entertaining writer. And quite witty to boot, which I always enjoy. If I have any complaint, it's getting some of the characters confused so that I occasionally had to go backward to remind myself who was which.

But a good read nonetheless. Have you read it? Tell me what you think.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Turns out, you CAN go home again!

I've just returned from a quick trip to the place of my birth, Thomaston, GA. The main purpose of this trip was to teach my cousin Jane how to do eBay. Oh, my! She's sitting on a gold mine filled with Depression Glass, vintage toys, antique school furnishings, and much more.

In fact, I told her husband that they have enough inventory to open their own Antique store. His reply was, "That sounds like something you'd have to go to every day."

Yeah, I get that. Trying my very best not to have to go SOMEWHERE every day. So far, I'm good until about 2012.

So I truly did enjoy my visit with Jane and family. Also my cousin Kay from the other side of my heritage. It was great to see the old places and get caught up on everyone's children. All of that was part of the reason for going. Here's the part that I didn't expect:

I'm afraid those may be too small to see on the Blog, so here's what they say:

Sallie Profitt 1839-1901 James O. Hoyal 1833-1881

Those would be my grandmother's grandparents. Wow.

Jane and I stood there in that damp cemetery with cold wind whipping around us contemplating those two headstones. We don't know what they looked like. We don't know what their personalities were. Did she like to sing? Was he tall? What attracted them to each other? We will never know. But we do know this profound thing. If not for those two meeting, falling in love, marrying....Jane and I would not exist. (Along with a bunch of other people, but they weren't with us that day.)

I knew about Sallie and James O. Their names are in my great-grandfather's Bible. She's the reason I had Sallie on my baby name list when I was pregnant. Until I found out the baby was a Boy.

Now I have been bitten by the Genealogy bug. I want to know the generation before and the generation before that. Luckily for me, there is a wealth of information out on the Super Cyber Highway. It's just a matter of sorting out the true from the mistakes. But I look forward to the adventure.

Who knows? I could find out I'm related to YOU.

Have a great day,