Reading to Reels: Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

838488For Gene Wilder (RIP). Thank you so much Mr. Wilder for being a wonderful memory and an icon of my pop culture loving childhood. You will be missed.

Can you believe the much beloved movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is now over 40 years old? It seems just yesterday my sister and I were sitting in front of the television, transported to a world of candy, Oompa Loompas, bratty kids who get their just desserts and of course, the mysterious Willy Wonka. My sister and I loved this movie and we watched every broadcast.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is based on the classic Roald Dahl book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Played by Gene Wilder in the film, Willy Wonka is the reclusive proprietor of a world-famous chocolate factory. In the beginning, Willy Wonka makes a huge announcement. He is granting five lucky people a chance to tour his factory, learn some of his tricks of the candy trade and win a lifetime of free chocolate. The catch? You must first purchase a chocolate Wonka bar, and if one of those bars has a golden ticket, you are a winner. The world loses its collective shit and the media goes wild for the story (and this is the pre-Internet days). Who will win the golden ticket?

One person who would love to win a golden ticket is Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum). Charlie is good hearted but his family is broke. Even buying a simple candy bar could put a dent in the Bucket family budget. But somehow Charlie gets the money, and he purchases a Wonka bar. Charlie rips open the chocolate bar with anticipation, and low and behold, there lies a shining golden ticket!

One person who would love to win a golden ticket is Charlie Bucket (Peter Ostrum). Charlie is good hearted but his family is broke. Even buying a simple candy bar could put a dent in the Bucket family budget. But somehow Charlie gets the money, and he purchases a Wonka bar. Charlie rips open the chocolate bar with anticipation, and low and behold, there lies a shining golden ticket!

However, before Charlie arrives at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, he is offered a proposal by the devious Arthur Slugworth, the owner of a rival chocolate factory. Slugworth wants Charlie to steal Wonka’s secret recipes, most ideally, Wonka’s recipe for his latest creation the everlasting gobstopper. Will Charlie succumb to Slugworth’s shady plea, or will he stand by his convictions and not steal the recipe?

Being a minor, Charlie has to bring along a chaperone to tour Wonka’s chocolate factory. Charlie brings along his beloved Grandpa Joe played by the irascible Jack Albertson (yep, the “man” from Chico and the Man). Along for the tour are four other rather vile children, and their equally vile parents. First there is the gluttonous Augustus Gloop who doesn’t say much but sure loves to stuff his face. Violet Beauregard talks a mile a minute and is always chomping on a piece of gum. Mike TeeVee is obsessed with television and pop culture (wait, this is a bad thing?). But most odious of all is Veruca Salt, a spoiled, entitled brat. Hmm, if Veruca existed today she’d probably have her own reality show on Bravo.

Willy Wonka meets the winners and their adult chaperones at his factory’s elaborate gates. After freaking everyone out by pretending to be feeble, falling, and then finishing his “fall” with the perfect somersault, Wonka invites Charlie and the gang into the factory. Before anyone can go further they must read and sign a very elaborate contract, which pretty much looks like the contract you had to sign when you got your credit card. Now it’s on to the tour of the magical Wonka factory.

The first room the winners visit is a totally edible garden with flowers, mushrooms and a chocolate river. The winners also meet the Oompa Loompas, Wonka’s vertically-challenged, green-haired, orange-skinned helpers. Veruca Salt tells her daddy, “I want an Oompa Loompa right now” because she’s a snotty bitch, and you pretty much realize she is going to work your last nerve. However, it is Augustus Gloop who is the first to be eliminated from the tour when he falls into the chocolate river and gets sucked up in a large tube.

Still, the tour goes on. The winners and their chaperones visit magical room after magical room. They even go on a crazy boat road right out of a bad acid trip (it was the 1970s). Throughout the tour, the kids misbehave and are punished. Even Charlie gets up to some mischief. He and Grandpa Joe sneak into a room to try some Fizzy Lifting drinks, and start floating up towards a menacing whirling fan on the ceiling. Will they be beheaded? Fortunately, Charlie and Grandpa Joe find out belching will help them get their feet back on the ground, and they join the others on the tour.

At the end of the tour, only Charlie is left. However, Wonka finds out about the Fizzy Lifting drink fiasco, and he is pissed! He denies Charlie the ultimate prize because he defied the contract’s rules. Charlie turns to leave dejected, but not before he hands Wonka the Ultimate Gopstopper he swiped to give to Slugworth.

But all is not lost! Wonka turns to Charlie and tells him, “You won!” It turns out Slugworth is not rival and a spy; he’s actually one of Wonka’s employees and his name is Wilkinson. The Everlasting Gobstopper predicament was actually a test, and Charlie passed!

As the movie ends, Wonka leads Charlie and Grandpa Joe to the “Wonka-vator.” The Wonka-vator is an elevator that goes up, down and in all other directions. The Wonka-vator blasts through the factory’s ceiling and flies over the city below. It is at this time Wonka tells Charlie that the factory is his once Wonka retires.

I loved Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory as a kid, but I saw it again as an adult and I loved it even more. There is something so subversive about it, but at the end the good kid wins out. Sure, Charlie isn’t perfect but his heart is in the right place. And the bad kids are punished which totally fills me with schadenfreude. Jeff Gordinier even covers this in his book X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep from Everything Sucking.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was later remade in 2005 and starred Johnny Depp; but to me, Gene Wilder owns the role of Willy Wonka.

 

 

And while doing research for this piece I found out some interesting trivia. Julie Dawn Cole (Veruca Salt) and Denise Nickerson (Violet Beauregard) totally crushed on Peter Ostrum. I can’t say I blame them. He was adorable. And speaking of Peter Ostrum, Charlie Bucket was his first and last film role. He’s now a veterinarian.

What else? The flower-shaped cup Willy Wonka drinks from in an early scene was made from wax (ew). However, many of the props found on the set like the giant mushrooms were edible. Jean Stapleton was slated to play Mike TeeVee’s mom but had to back out due to another acting role. You probably know her best as Edith Bunker from the 1970s classic TV show All in the Family. And Julie Dawn Cole admits to hating chocolate!

I don’t have kids, but I do have a niece and nephew. And I’d love to share Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with them. And I bet there are a lot of Gen X parents and aunties and uncles who have done just that.

Taking One for the Team: Crippled America- How to Make America Great Again by Donald Trump

Crippled_America_-_How_to_Make_America_Great_AgainNow do you really think I could take one for the team without reviewing a book by the GOP’s presidential nominee Donald Trump? Of course not. Initially, I thought of reviewing Trump’s classic The Art of the Deal. But decided to check out Crippled America: How to Make Great Again because this idea of making America great again is Trump’s campaign slogan, and according to the bloviating Cheeto, only he is capable of making the good old US of A great again.

And boy, in Crippled America Trump never fails to remind you of this…

Now I’m not exactly naïve. I know damn well Donald did not write this book; he can barely handle writing a decent Tweet. Most likely he hired a ghost writer to write Crippled America basing this tome on Trump’s speeches, interviews, and yes, his Tweets.  Well, I can say one thing good thing about Trump; he’s keeping ghost writers in business. They can use the paycheck.

Okay, onto the book…

After a preface called “You Gotta Believe”, Crippled America is divided into 17 short chapters focusing on several key issues: 1) Winning Again 2) Our “Unbiased” Political Media (the quotes are in the text of the book) 3) Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors 4) Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace 5) Education: A Failing Grade 6) The Energy Debate: A Lot of Hot Air 7) Healthcare is Making Us All Sick 8) It’s Still the Economy, Stupid 9) Nice Guys Can Finish First 10) Lucky to Be an American 11) The Right to Bear Arms 12) Our Infrastructure is Crumbling 13) Values 14) A New Game in Town 15) Teaching the Media Dollars and Sense 16) A Tax Code That Works 17) Making America Great Again

Now I have to give The Donald some credit. He is quite right on certain things that need attending to here is the good old USA, including our schools, our healthcare system, our infrastructure, our economy and our treatment of our returning veterans. However, these are mere talking points and he never gives us solid, key evidence of how he can solve this other than using the Trump Brand.

You might ask yourself, “Okay, Donald. Just what is crippling America?” And unless you’ve been taking a very long nap, what’s crippling America are the very things Donald has been spewing about ever since he threw his hat into the political ring last year. And pretty much what he says are the same things political pundits spew about on everything from FOX News to AM radio to various Sarah Palin’s word salads vented via her social media. They include:

President Obama Hillary Clinton Most Democrats and other assorted liberals Congress Muslims Immigrants Unions The Media Public Schools Science and scientists concerned with climate change Big government (well, any form of government actually)

Not surprising President Obama isn’t Trump’s favorite person. After all, Trump was a total birther who doubted the validity of the President’s birth here in the United States even after Obama presented his long-form birth certificate. He pretty much hates Obama, blaming him for everything from our relations to foreign countries to our healthcare woes to our piss poor public schools. I expect right now Trump is blaming President Obama for the Thomas Gibson being fired from the TV show Criminal Minds.

Other conservative talking points Trump pukes up within the confines of Crippled America is the threat of China’s booming economy and American companies outsourcing jobs to China (like Apple) without taking responsibility for outsourcing many Trump-related products to China. He just says they are good practices for him because they help him save money.

His take on energy is pretty much the same as Sarah Palin’s, “drill baby, drill,” while dismissing various green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. He is also a denier of climate change and doesn’t seem to give a rip about anything environmentally-sound.

His only solution when it comes to our troubled healthcare system is to completely repeal and dismantle the Affordable Care Act while not offering any valid concepts and ideas on how we can offer good healthcare options that serve their best interests.

At blame for our educational systems is mostly teachers and teacher unions. He blames government interference for our troubled economy, and doesn’t even brooch the issues of Wall Street greed, big business malfeasance and stagnant wages hindering the average American’s spending power. He talks about religious freedom but only how it affects good Christians like himself. As for Muslims? Well, you don’t have to read Crippled America to know how feels about Muslims. And his take on immigration is pretty much “Mexicans suck. Close the borders.” He is a huge fan of the second amendment and brags about having guns and doesn’t even want to discuss the most benign arguments for gun control.

Now how would Trump solve these problems that cripple our Nation? Well, he doesn’t exactly offer any salient policy, thoughtful ideas and solid evidence other than the various buildings and golf courses he has built around the world as if that is the same thing as running the United States. Though he does offer some ideas on making our tax code simpler, you’ve probably heard or read of these ideas elsewhere. Trump hardly breaks new ground.

Trump’s ego is all over Crippled America. He brags about his business acumen, never bringing up the failures of Trump University, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka and other Trump-related beverages, Trump magazine, Trump’s line at Macy’s, various casinos and not to mention, his bankruptcies. He also brags of his family values, which is rather rich coming from a man on his third marriage and a known adulterer.

Crippled America is pretty much one big brag fest for Trump. As I mentioned offers no policies, ideas, evidence and careful research on how he would truly act if he was President. Furthermore, Crippled America is devoid of any endnotes or footnotes pointing out solid proof of what plagues America and why these issues plague America. If I handed in an essay in college written is such a flimsy manner I would have received a much deserved grade F.

You know, if Trump wasn’t running for the most important job in the world, I would just laugh over this book. But Trump is running for president and this chills me to my tailbone. The President of United States is not the same as being at the helm of a cheesy reality show. It is a job that requires wisdom, an open-mind to differences in race, gender, sexual identity, ethnicity, religious affiliation and differing ideas and opinions, diplomacy and empathy, the ability to see several sides to an issue, the aptitude to handle a crisis, excellent communication skills (especially listening), and other skills Donald just doesn’t seem to have or is willing to develop. Oh, being the President also requires a full understanding of the Constitution and its amendments, the Bill of Rights and how the three branches of government work. Wait, does Trump even know we have three branches of government?

When you think about, running for President is a job interview, the most imperative job interview I can imagine. Do you think you’d get a job if you spent your entire interview saying horrible things about women, Muslims, immigrants, your competition, or made fun of a disabled person?

I didn’t think so.

Trump sums up Crippled America, not with his tax returns, but with his so-called personal financials, and offers an “about the author” page that goes on for 17 pages. Yes, 17 pages. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount wasn’t 17 pages long.

In the end I can sum up Crippled America in 17 words: I survived reading Donald Trump’s Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. No liquor was involved.

Book Marks

name tagDid you know Donald Trump once had his own magazine? Me neither. But according to writer Carey Purcell it was a nightmare place to work for (bounced paychecks) but somehow she lived to tell the tale.

Here is a rad reading list of rad women doing rad things.

Lady GaGa and her father, Joe Germanotta, to release Italian cookbook.

Think erotica begins and ends with Fifty Shades of Grey? Well, then you need to learn a bit about erotic artist Thomas Poulton. Warning NWFW.

Just what we need, more chapters to Kim Kardashian’s Selfie book.

Here are some tips for writing about the opposite gender

The Olympics are boosting book sales.

Video series promotes the need for libraries.

You might want to check out the PBS series Well Read.

Zoe Zolbrod’s husband found her memoir too painful to read.

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Redhead by Adrienne and Stephanie Vendetti

How to be a redheadWritten by the founders of the redhead related website, How to Be a Redhead, focuses on fashion, beauty, hair and skin advice aimed at those of us with fiery-toned locks (both natural and by choice), How to Be Redhead is a primer on how redheads from strawberry blondes to those with dark auburn hair can make themselves look their best.

Naturally a brunette, I decided to become a redhead back in the 1990s, and I haven’t looked back since. I may not have been born a redhead but I really do think I was born to be a redhead. It suits my fair coloring and people tell me my redhead makes my baby blues just “pop.” When I found How to Be a Redhead at my local library I just knew I had to read it.

How to Be a Redhead is divided into several redhead-related topics. First the sisters tell their personal stories on being natural redheads, the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly. Often teased for their fiery tresses, he Vendetti sisters are having the last laugh with their successful website filled with ginger-related gems like hair accessories, fashionable graphic t-shirts and tank tops, and beauty boxes filled with redhead-friendly goodies like sunscreen, hand cream, and cosmetics, and of course, their book How to Be a Redhead.

The next chapter focuses on how redheads can gain confidence in a world where redheads are quite rare and most beauty-related companies, websites and books focus mostly on blondes and brunettes. And let’s not forget some of the bullying redheads face even today when the public face of many redheads include beauties like Julianne Moore, Jessica Chastain, Eddie Redmayne and Prince Harry.

Chapter three focuses on the beauty of red hair and why it should be celebrated, especially by those of us who have red hair. Preach! In this chapter the Vendetti sisters include five steps for finding redhead friendly products.

The following chapters focus on various beauty and fashion issues most redheads face, including hair, skin, nails, make-up, famous redheads, and finally, fashion.

Hair tells us the different red hair colors. Cool tones include strawberry blonde and copper. Warm tones include classic red, deep red, auburn, deep auburn and red violet, complete with photos of various celebrities like Emma Watson and Isla Fischer. My hair is a hybrid of deep red and auburn, which features two of my favorite redheads, the aforementioned Julianne Moore and Debra Messing.

Included in the hair chapter tells us how to figure out if our hair is fine, coarse, or frizzy or normal. This chapter also tells of the best shampoos, conditioners, sprays, gels, styling tools and home treatments for redheads. I like the home remedies because they can be made with simple products found at any grocery store like olive oil, eggs and bananas, are wallet-friendly and easy to make.

There is one part of the hair chapter I do have a quibble with, the hair styles. The Vendetti sisters have gorgeous Rapunzel-like locks and the hairstyles shown in this book reveal this. My hair is long but just past my shoulders. Sure, I can rock a chignon or a bun, but I do wish we could see some hairstyles featuring redheads with shorter hair whether a swinging bob or a cute pixie cut.

Redheads often have sensitive skin, and even though I’m a redhead by choice, I also have sensitive skin, so especially appreciated How to Be a Redhead’s chapter on how to best take care of my skin. This chapter tells us how to recognize our skin types, redhead friendly products and treatments, seasonal skin care and the beauty of freckles.

I’ve recently gotten more interested in giving myself manicures and I liked the chapter on nails including hand and nail treatments,

The chapter on make-up informs the reader of the best utensils every redhead should have in her make-up kit, brushes, eyelash curlers, sponges, tweezers, mirrors and pencil sharpeners. My favorite part of the make-up is the focus on cosmetics from foundations to lipsticks to eye shadows. This chapter includes make-up tutorials. While reading this chapter I also found out that rarest hair color/eye color combination is red hair and blue eyes…

Damn straight!

I usually cringe when a book or magazine tells us “how to get the celebrity look,” so I was ready to dismiss How to Be Redhead’s chapter named just that. But this chapter includes make tips from make-up artists who work with Reba McEntire, Julianne Moore and the hairstylist from Mad Men who gave one of my favorite one of my televised redhead, Joan Holloway-Harris, her notable bouffant.

How to Be a Redhead closes with fashion tips including the most redhead friendly colors, including emerald green, plum purple, ruby red (yes, redheads can rock the red) and various shades of blue, including sapphire, peacock and navy blue. As a hybrid of deep red and auburn hair colors like cranberry red, turquoise, and pink mist are great colors for me. Actually, this chapter tells redheads there is a rainbow of redhead-friendly colors including fuchsia, mustard yellow, black and pumpkin orange. Redheads should also ignore silly myths like don’t wear green (too Christmassy), white, or neutrals. Hey, if you’re a redhead and love a certain color, wear it and rock it!!!!

How to Be a Redhead is a fun read, while also being informative and charming. I just know I’m going to make some of the home treatments found in this book and take a gander at the Vendetti’s website more often.

 

 

Vintage by Susan Gloss

vintageDealing with a rough year, and a challenging summer of both professional and personal trials (not to mention allergies that are at def con levels), I thought I would escape into a fun bit of fluff via a chick lit novel. I picked up Vintage by Susan Gloss, charmed by the cover of a pretty dress in a shop window.

As a concept Vintage has a lot of potential. This is a book that tells the tale of three very dissimilar women. Violet is the owner of a Madison, Wisconsin-based vintage clothing shop called Hourglass (love the name). She escaped a bad first marriage to her high school boyfriend, Jed, and a stifling life in the small town of Bent Creek (fictional-looked it up). Always a lover of vintage clothing and accessories, Violet realizes her dream to sell vintage finds at Hourglass to the Madison locals.

April is 18-years-old and pregnant. She’s also been abandoned by her boyfriend who is off to medical school. A smart girl, and a math whiz, April has to put her college education on hold due to her pregnancy and her impending single motherhood. She is also dealing with the death of her mentally ill mother, who died in a car accident, which may have been a suicide.

And then there is Amithi, who immigrated to the United States from India after marrying her husband in an arranged marriage Naveen when she was still a teenager. She recently found out Naveen has been cheating on her for decades with a colleague. Amithi is also struggling with the idea of her daughter Jayana being married to a non-Indian man.

Violet first makes April’s acquaintance when April tries to a return wedding dress to Hourglass. Violet has a strict policy when it comes to returning items to her shop. But despite that she takes some pity on April, being pregnant, abandoned by her boyfriend, rejected by her boyfriend’s parents, college plans that are put on hold and now without a mother. Through a wee bit of maneuvering, Violet agrees to hire April on as an intern to help her gain some college credits. April is a whiz when it comes to numbers, and she helps organize Hourglass’s financial and accounting matters. Even though Violet is not yet forty, she seems a bit out of sorts when it comes to any organizing that requires a computer and an Excel spreadsheet.

Amithi becomes Violet’s friend when she comes into Hourglass to sell a sari she wore when she married Naveen in 1968. Her marriage now in tatters due to Naveen’s betrayal and infidelity, Amithi has no need for a silk orange colored sari to remind her of her wedding day. She’s also sick of her daughter sticking her nose in her and Naveen’s business, and just wants to move on, not knowing who she is beyond being a devoted wife and mother. However, Amithi does have a skill that helps her bond with Violet. She is a talented seamstress and soon she is helping Violet with some of her vintage items that need some TLC. Doing something she loves and excels at, helps Amithi feel useful and helps her cope with the of her marriage.

And with these three characters, Vintage started out a promising read…but it soon fell flat and became just standard-issue chick lit that failed to inspire and entice me as a reader. These included banalities like Violet obsession with her biological clock and dating life. There is April’s ex-boyfriend swooping back into her life at just the right time to rescue her from becoming a single mom. And then there is Violet’s ex-husband oozing back into her life, just as she sparks up a relationship with a new man. And then there are Violet’s friends, Karen and Lane, giving up their careers in law and show biz respectively for soccer mom suburbia. There is an evil landlord who threatens the fate of Hourglass, but thank goodness for a rich benefactor whose death pretty much saves the fate of Hourglass. And I’d be remiss not to mention a clichéd story-line of a fashion show featuring drag queens and a single declaration of love.

Only Amithi didn’t come across as a total cliché. And I think a novel focused on Amithi and the choices she makes in the wake of her busted marriage would be so much more interesting.

However, Vintage isn’t a complete mess. Gloss is a talented writer, with a gift for writing sincere dialogue that made the three women real to me even though I found them a bit too clichéd. Gloss also has a wonderful way of describing people, places and things that made them truly come to life. She captures Madison perfectly. And I also could actually see the Hourglass’s layout in my mind’s eye. I also loved how each chapter began with a brief description of various vintage finds including not only April’s wedding dress and Amithi’s sari, but 1980s power suit, complete with shoulder pads, Frye boots from the 1970s, an apron from the 1950s and a sweet little baby bonnet from the 1940s.

For the most part, Vintage was just a fun, inoffensive book, fully adequate for lazy dog days of summer. I just wish it wrapped up in way that was more classic Chanel suit and not a pilled acrylic sweater.

 

Book Marks

audreyhepburnreading400Need a reason why to read an essay? Here are 10 of them.

Eight gold-medal books celebrating the Olympics.

August 9th is book lovers’ day. Wait. I thought ever day was book lovers’ day.

Self-publishing isn’t a new concept.

All around cool chick, Carrie Brownstein, shares her reading list.

Ever lied about reading a certain book? You’re not the only one.

Writing agent’s five tips for writers.

The 200 happiest words in literature.

Library Anxiety is a thing, and this is what college librarians are doing for those who suffer from it.

The American Constitution is now a best-seller!

Book Review: Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle by Tsia Carson

craftivityTsia Carson should be a gal after my own heart. She was a founder of the crafting website, SuperNaturale.com and taught at both Yale and the Rhode Island school of design. So I was super psyched over finding her book Craftivity: 40 Projects for the DIY Lifestyle at a local rummage sale. I thought it would give me lots of cool crafting ideas and inspire my creativity.

And for the most part, it offer some inspiration, but some of Craftivity just inspired a whole lot of “No, just no.”

Craftivity is divided into six sections focused on different types of crafting. Part One focuses on yarn and string. Part Two focuses on Fabric and Thread. Paper and plastic is the focus of Part Three and glass and ceramics is the focus of Part Four. Part Five focuses on the world of wood and metal. And finally Crafitivity winds up focusing on all things recycled and thrift in Part Six-Lost and Found.

Craftivity started out strong with its recipe for dying wool yarn using unsweetened Kool-Aid. I’m not a knitter but I know plenty of people who are, and I bet they would have lots of fun doing this project. In fact, I’m thinking of photocopying the pages to this project and giving them to my knitty friends. I also liked the idea of crocheted flower brooch and making a blankie because who couldn’t use a blankie these days? There is also a segment on the old-school art of spinning one’s wool. I’ve seen this in practice and it’s pretty cool.

Other crafty and clever ideas in this book I liked were making tables using old suitcases and wheels on casters. The end result is both practical and visually quite clever. Remember Shrinky Dinks from your childhood? You can use them to make a Mary Quant-inspired mod necklace. I also liked the projects on how to etch glass to make a lovely decorative pitcher, vase or wine glasses, reviving a moth eaten sweater through embroidering and silk screening poetry onto silk fabric, making beautiful scarves (I was thinking I would do this to make pillows). And a bedazzled table cloth might look fetching on one’s dining room table. There is also a segment on felting.

The segment on paper and plastic had a great idea for a button cuffed bracelet. I know a lady who makes a lot of pretty bling with buttons, and this would be right up her crafty alley. And simple paper bags can make lovely gift bags, but considering I’ve been making my own gift wrap for over a decade this did not surprise me in the least.

But a lot of the projects in Crafitivity seem like a waste of time at best and completely ridiculous at worst, like a crocheted skull? I guess this might appeal to some too-cool-for hipster type, but I thought it was a complete waste of time and materials. I guess a like my crafts a little more useful. The charms of a Tyvek basket were lost on me. You can probably find really cute baskets at Goodwill or at the dollar store. And the project shown on the cover of Craftivity, a crystal encrusted “chandelier” hurt my feelings. I also questioned turning an old T-shirt into a pair of panties, especially ones that don’t look like they’d hold up even on the curviest of hips and butts.

Still, I think some people will find value in this book. I’m sure I’m not the only one with a bunch of plastic bags taking up room in my pantry and with these plastic bags one can make a cute tote bag. For the more ambitious crafters among us, Craftivity shows how one can make a hammock or a wooden bed frame.

In the end, I think Carson’s crafty heart is in the right place. I appreciate her focusing on crafts that can be made with items found around the house, recyclable materials and items found at any thrift store. And though these crafting ideas aren’t the best (in my humble opinion) I do appreciate how they respect a limited budget.

 

 

 

Book Review: We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler

we were feminists onceI’ve always considered myself a feminist, ever since I was a little girl. I’ve seen feminism evolve over time, having most of my feminism honed by the third wave of feminism when my fellow Generation X-ers began to make their mark in the early 1990s. This was a time of Riot Grrrl, ‘zines, girls picking up instruments and kicking out the jams in bands like Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy and Bikini Kill. Young women read books like Backlash and The Beauty Myth, and realized when it came to feminism, we still had a lot of work to do. A new teen magazine called Sassy celebrated feminism and soon two other magazines, both which can be found at any major bookstore in 2016, emerged. One magazine named Bust and the other named Bitch: A Feminist Response to Pop Culture.

And that brings us to Andi Zeisler’s latest book We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. Zeisler is a founding member of Bitch. And boy (um, grrrrl) does she have a lot to say about the current state of feminism, and how it has evolved and devolved in the last twenty-odd years.

Yes, women today definitely have more rights than they had as little as a hundred years ago. We can vote, run for office, get an education, run a company, compete in a sport, get credit in our own names, make reproductive choices and so many other things our foremothers couldn’t even comprehend. But for all the rights feminism has gained, these hard won rights are being contested and chipped away on a daily basis, one being our access to proper reproductive health services. And still others scoff over our concerns regarding rape, sexual harassment, equal pay for equal work, and domestic violence. To make sure we don’t lose these rights we have a lot of nitty-gritty work to do, which includes everything from contacting our political representatives to raising funds for our favorite female-friendly causes.

And believe me, none of this is easy, fun or pretty. It’s a lot of hard work and can be very frustrating. So why worry about doing any of hard work of feminism when we can justify our feminist street cred by using market place feminism to become empowered women? And we become empowered not by voting or writing an op-ed in favor of feminism, but by purchasing the right yogurt, underpants or following celebrities via social media, many who seem to use feminism as a way to further publicize their “brand.”

We Were Feminists Once is divided into two wonderfully written and well-researched parts. Part One, The New Embrace, focuses on how feminism is seen through the lens of Hollywood, celebrity worship, the products we buy, and various forms of pop culture. Part Two, The Same Old Normal, revisits the waves of feminism and how all this market place empowerment is harming women in the long run even though it’s supposed to make feminism look fun and cool because apparently wearing a pair of panties with the word Feminist on them is more empowering than maintaining my access to birth control.

Still, Zeisler is quick to point out, marketplace feminism isn’t exactly something new. It’s been around since the advent of Madison Avenue and furthered sharpened by unfettered capitalism and neo-liberal thinking. Several decades ago market place feminism was expressed by Virginia Slim cigarettes telling us “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” and perfume ads for Charlie and Enjoli. Today we have Dove soap’s “Real Beauty” ad campaigns, Sheryl Sandberg’s admonishments to “Lean-In” and Beyoncé, Emma Watson and Lena Dunham’s embracing feminism as the thing all the cool girls are doing,. Yea, it’s great so many celebrities identify as feminists, but feminism goes much deeper than the fame, wealth and privilege these ladies all share. Feminism also encompasses the intricacies of race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation none of which market place feminism examines.

Zeisler writes in a way that is audience-friendly, but not dumbed down. She writes in a way that is never preachy but explains in depth the harm of market place feminism and how it impedes the actual hard work of feminism. Zeisler doesn’t offer any clear cut solutions but recognizing there is a problem is a first step, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who read this book and said, “I thought I was the only one bothered by market place feminism!”

In the end We Were Feminists Once fully exposes how marketplace feminism is nothing but “you go, girl” advertisements, a collection of hashtags and sound bites, celebrity worship, pop culture slim pickings and more power at the cash register than at the voting booth. Feminism, women and society as a whole deserve so much more.

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