Friday, January 4, 2013

Jen's Gems 1/4/13

This is my new favorite song; John and I have been jamming to it for over two weeks now:

In fact, all of Walk Off The Earth's stuff is fantastic. (You might remember them from their Gotye cover that went viral.)  I bought their four-song album R.E.V.O. on iTunes - which includes Gang of Rythm - and it's been on continuous play ever since. (John's favorite was Summer Vibe, until he discovered their new Taylor Swift cover yesterday. Now he's playing that non-stop. Eesh. We're turning into total fanboys over here!)

Hold the phone - Summer Vibe has a video?! How did I miss that?? Ok, one more:

This is perfect for those of you surrounded by snow right now. Ahhh - just imagine the warm ocean breezes. Can ya feel it? Well, CAN YOU?


I'm sure a lot of you have already seen this, but in case you missed it, check out this 1981 magazine ad for LEGO:
found via Make

In addition to being an adorable blast from the past, I thought this was relevant considering how many of you mentioned before that it didn't seem like gender-specific toys were such a big deal back when we were growing up - that the issue of gendered play is one that seems to be drawing harsher lines now than it did back then. I'm sure that varies drastically by experience, but at least this ad seems to bear out that girls weren't expected to just wear pink tutus and play princess back in the 80s. (Like a lot of you, I played with my brother's Star Wars toys and Laser Tag as much as I did My Little Ponies and Rose Petal Place dolls. [Remember those?])

Which is the perfect segue into...

A Day in the Life of a Professional Party Princess:

found via Mental Floss

Mary Alice Legrow is a graphic novelist in her thirties whose publisher went out of business, forcing her to find a new source of income. So she became a professional party princess.

I first learned about Legrow through a lengthy forum thread where she answered questions about her unusual new job, and I was struck by both her clever writing and her refreshingly level-headed perspective. She speaks frankly about the "cult" of princess, shares funny and sometimes tragic stories about both the kids *and* the parents, and basically tells you everything you never thought to ask about the world of children's party entertainment. Plus the illustrations she draws to go with her stories are fantastic.

And lest you think Legrow is perpetuating harmful stereotypes, allow me to submit the following entries from her "Day of Sparkling" schedule post:

1:10 PM

Paint a little boy like a skull.  Put pink glitter on him as per his request.  Listen to his mother insist that his sister get something "pretty" instead of a similar skull.  Little girl is unmoved, wants skull with white glitter.  Watch mother become totally exasperated and desperately wave the princess and flower queen sample page of face-painting pictures in front of her daughter's face.  Daughter insists on skull and refuses to even compromise by getting a pink and black skull face. 

Paint girl with scary skull face.  Secretly high-five her when mother isn't looking.

6:20 PM

Glitter crown headbands are distributed and donned by the females.  The boys refuse to wear them.  Cinderella sits on the crowns, saying she doesn't want any boys to be king of the superheroes.  The boys push Cinderella over in an attempt to claim the crowns.  

 6:52 PM

Cake and ice cream.  All girl attendees are incensed that there are too many Spiderman plates and not enough princess plates.  Cinderella declares she wants a Spiderman plate because he's cool.  All girl attendees are incensed that they were not given Spiderman plates first.

There's more, but you get the idea.

Upon looking for the original forum link I discovered Legrow has conveniently compiled all of her answers on her new site, The Princess For Hire, where they're broken into fourteen chapter posts. The next time you're looking for good reading material, I HIGHLY recommend them all. (I think she's making them into a book, which is a fantastic idea. I'd buy that sucker in a heartbeart.)

Oh, and as a result of that original forum thread NPR actually did a story on Legrow, so when you're done with her blog head over to their article to watch a short video of her in action. But seriously, don't watch the video first. That's like watching the movie before reading the book!

Ok, I think that's enough goofing off for your Friday afternoon. Back to work, you! 


  1. When I was working the face painting booth at the elementary school fair, quite a few girls came in & requested moustaches & beards. :) Of course, I asked "Fu Manchu, goatee or hipster?" & "What color?" LOL

  2. Thanks, Jen. I was having an issue with too much work to be done. Now, I don't have to do any of it! Off to listen to some music and read a(nother) blog!


  3. Love the new tunes. Now they are stuck in my head.:-)
    My brother didn't have Legos back in the 70's, but I played with his Micronauts. Cool toys, but now I can't find much of them even on ebay.

  4. yeah - I played with regular Lego and trucks, as well as My Little Pony and Barbies (though I always cut all their hair off. . .). The gender-divide in toys seems extreme/excessive now. I remember a few years ago seeing an add for a toy that basically amounted to a means of indoctrinating young (like 6 and under) girls into being housewives and mothers (a (very pink) kitchen, with attached bassinet. AND CLEANING TOOLS), that literally made me scream with vexation (I was very dramatic then - gender studies courses will do that to a person).

    It honestly feels so false, and limiting. Is it so wrong to let kids decide what they like, instead of forcing them into gender-specific roles? Maybe I'm still feeling righteously indignant from all that gender studies. . .

  5. Jen, check out the "Red Hands" video WOTE did. It was filmed in one take, and was sung backwards in parts. NPR has a little blurb on how it was filmed:

  6. Hooray for Walk Off The Earth!!! I'm so madly in love with them, and no one ever knows who I'm talking about when I bring them up. They are so brilliant, and definitely deserve all the attention they can get!

  7. Thanks for posting this Jen! I can't wait to go read all the princess posts. I can't officially say it yet but I believe some photos of her will be included in our newest publication, coming out in May.

    1,000 Incredible Costume and Cosplay Ideas

  8. omg i still have a storybook with rose petal place at my dad's

  9. I just finished reading "Pink & Blue: Telling the Boys from the Girls in America". It's a really facinating look at how pink and blue became "traditional" colours for girls and boys (it's focused on clothing, but does touch on other things). I highly recommend it!

    1. I found an article like that once - found it amusing that the colours were reversed - pink was considered a 'strong' colour and thus suited to boys - blue was considered more 'delicate' and was for girls. But this was back in the 1920s. Blue is my favorite colour - that cornflower shade that can be blue and purple and gray all at once...

  10. You know.. thinking about it, I LOVED Legos, matchbox cars, Ninja Turtles, AND My Little Ponies, and ROSE PETAL PLACE!! I think those were my favorite little dolls!

    I loved toy cars so much, one of my fave thing was to make streets and tunnels for them in my sandbox.

  11. I grew up with three sisters, and we had Legos, star wars, barbies, my little ponies, Lincoln logs, tinker toys. You get the idea. And, do you remember Kid Sister? She had a male counterpart, My Buddy. I even knew a boy that was in third or fourth grade, and was one of the "cool" kids, and he owned My Buddy.

  12. Wild, your mention of rose petal place. I *still* have one of those dolls (sadly, not mint in box or even in original outfit). It helped foster my creative side & she currently sports (has since I was 14ish) a dress made of fabric scraps and hairsprayed into place. Honest, I don't know what I was thinking! (Yeah, that could be worth *money* these days lol)
    My favorite toys of all time have got to be legos though. I loved that you could build anything out of them. I remember going to what is now the big Hudson's Bay in Toronto (then it was Simpson's) and they had a huge display of Lego sculptures (including new schwanstein). Small wonder I'm now training to be a civil engineer ;)

  13. Love WOTE!! I seem to be in the minority, but I think their version of "Somebody That I Used to Know" is vastly superior to Gotye's. And I think they'll still be enthralling us with their great tunes long after Goyte is forgotten. Their new "Trouble" is terrific!

    I enjoy playing with Legos almost as much as my 6 yr old!

    On the gender thing, I frequently challenge gender norms that my son brings home - pink being only a "girl" color, for example. I also insist that there are no "girl" jobs - my son helps me with laundry, cooking, and vacuuming - and has never been lead to believe that any of those things as either gender-specific or for that matter, a chore.

    But at the same time, I have a hard time choking back my bile over parents who bathe their daughters in everything pink, frilly, and superficial. Little girls need as much - maybe more - encouragement to break out of the societal gender traps. Instead of grooming arm candy, Disney princesses, why not raise your girls to be strong, smart, independent, people? The "pretty" part will take care of itself.

  14. 'Secretly high-five her when her mother isn't looking.'


  15. Heck yes I remember Rose Petal Place! I love when people remember the more obscure things from my childhood like that. Things like Popples and the Snorks. Good times, the 80s.

  16. <3 The Princess For Hire blog! (Thanks for the introduction)

    I'm TOTALLY using *SPARKLE SPARKLE* in awkward situations from now on!

  17. When I was a kid my favourite toys were my brother's Adventure People. Anyone else remember those? And my mother tells me that the first toy that I played with a lot was a dump truck that she bought me. Now I am the mother of a 16 year old boy who LOVES My Little Pony. It's the circle of geek...

  18. Seriously, you two find the coolest stuff & it's spooky how you know what I'll like before I do.
    Thanks for the new band.

  19. I have spent all night on that "Princess for Hire" site. It's great. Though I hope that the author gets to go back into full time graphic novel work (because that's what I'd like to do).

    Though I'm mostly commenting to give you secret Goon fist bumps because I immediately knew what "forum" you were talking about, haha. I spend whole evenings on it too.

  20. ACK! I've just spent forever watching WOTE videos and have bought 4 or 5 songs. I've seen the Gotye cover before but forgot about them until you posted this. I MUST HAVE THEIR TAYLOR SWIFT COVER of I Knew You Were Trouble. I never even heard that song by Taylor, but have you seen the video by WOTE? KRNFX is Fab.U.Lous! Fabulous!

  21. I spent the last several months on an ebay binge buying toys from the 80s that I had...and some that I didn't! I did buy a Rose Petal Place doll, as well as Herself the Elf. They just make me happy! I also bought the My Little Pony castle and my boys love playing with it.

  22. I NEED Princess Marty at my 40th birthday party in February :)

  23. I just spent a bit too much time ranting "There were Rose Petal Place DOLLS? Why did I not know this? I memorized the video for goodness sake!"
    Also, Assassin Princess rocks. Thanks for bringing your very substantial blog-power to her!

  24. I love WOTE, thanks for the introduction!

    I tried to follow the link to the Princess for Hire blog, but it didn't work :(. I couldn't find her when I googled it either - I jusy kept finding the blog for and author of kids' books.

  25. Love the Taylor Swift cover. Love your blogs, you always post the most interesting things! Thanks :-)

  26. OMG I am OBSESSED with WOTE'S cover of Taylor Swift's Trouble. OBSESSED. I seriously play it at least once an hour.

  27. 1. I love that Lego ad. I also remember when Legos were all right angles and you had to use your actual imagination to turn it into a house or a car or what-have-you. Today's Legos are boring.

    2. I just killed all afternoon reading the professional princess diaries. Fascinating!

  28. As a child, I had one baby doll. I never knew what to do with it, so it usually got used in place of a ball for games of catch... And then I went to play with my toy dinosaurs :)

    Ooh, I love M. Alice, but I didn't know about this site, thanks for sharing! The doodles she posts on her deviantart are also hysterical.

  29. I totally had a RosePetal doll. I'd completely forgotten. I even had a kitten I'd named after it. I couldn't have been more than four.

    Legos were one of my favorite toys too, even though they were technically my brother's.

  30. Love WOTE - thanks for the tip. Need to buy music and support them! I'll have to reinstall iTunes. Oh well.

  31. Now I am singing Summertime as I try to stay warm in the below freezing Wisconsin weather. Gee golly, I love your blog. :) Thanks for the mental escape. (and please tell me you pronounced that es-kaw-pay like Dori from Finding Nemo) :D

  32. Ah! It's the author of Bizenghast! :D
    I'd read that series but never followed up on the author. Thanks for helping me find her again!

  33. I love Walk Off The Earth! Gang of Rhythm is a great wake-up song for the morning :)

  34. Wow, reading this post reminds me of the time I was four or five and went to the local school fete. I was wearing a pink dress, probably had sparkly shoes and had a massively hard time trying to choose what I wanted painted on my face. I finally narrowed it down to a choice between spiderman and batman.
    I went with Spiderman. We still have the photos :)

  35. I know it is almost impossible to send you things you haven't seen (Heck, maybe you've even posted it and I missed it) but JUST IN CASE, the video for Imagine Dragons "Radioactive" is so, so great.


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