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Search tags: hollywood-silver-screen-and-tv
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review 2020-04-30 20:31
Barbie in Television, Barbie #8 by Marianne Duest
Barbie in Television - Marianne Duest,Robert Patterson

Willows High is abuzz with the news: Juniors and Seniors can take a month of school to get a job! Of course, there are stipulations. One must have at least a B average and agree to write a report about their experience.

 

Barbie's well-connected parents know a couple in Florida who would only be too happy to host Barbie for the month and can pull strings at a television station down there. Barbie is also excited, because there's an exotic animal preserve where Midge could get work as well!

 

'Barbie in Television' follows the typical format for these books: Barbie gets spectacular opportunity, travels to an exciting location, crushes the opportunity like a boss and dates cute boy. I was hoping that the tease at the start of the book meant that Midge got to have some fun as well, but no dice. It turns out Midge was so focused on cheer-leading in the fall she let her grades slip and doesn't quite make it to the B+ her parents require, so she is denied permission to go on the trip.

 

Duest at least has Midge call Barbie out on her privilege: pointing out Barbie's internship in New York and being a cover girl for a teen magazine for God's sakes, but, Midge is forced to grin and bear it and be left behind in Willows with Ken and the rest. She also has to admit that its her own fault for trying to have everything the way Barbie does.

 

Carefree, Barbie is free to make new friends. Her companions are a Brazilian exchange student, Blanquita, who helps Barbie with her elocution and a hotshot baseball rookie, Danny Folger, who's on the cusp of going pro with the "Green Socks"

 

Barbie stands up to some serious toxic masculine behavior here, ignoring bad pickup lines and unapologeticly doing her job. She, of course, fixes him later, but we'll take the small victories the writers inserted into these books. Another highlight is working woman Pat Larkin, the station's program director who works full time and counts on her husband to take the roast out of the freezer.

 

Other than Midge's disappointment, the real reason this book gets a heavy star reduction is a "romantic" legend of a Native American warrior falling so in love with the daughter of a Spanish conquistador that after her death she is taken out into the bay and the warrior, plus 50-100 other braves sink their canoes and kill themselves so they can guard her resting place in the afterlife. This legend is the basis of an exciting festival and parade in the Florida town that Barbie visits and is the focus of her teen journalism. Is this based on reality? Because, wow, that's horrible. It certainly sounds like something midcentury America would celebrate.

 

Other key plot points involve a haunted ruin of a hotel and a mysterious hobo whose house Barbie and Blanquita break into.

 

 

Two versions of 'Casuals' #782 from 1961-1964. The striped shirt is a later version. They're missing small gold car keys and I left off their red hats to show off their glorious, reflocked hair. Jon filled in the bald spots and followed the original pattern so they look mint!

 

Barbie Random House Novels:

 

Next: 'Barbie, Midge and Ken'

 

Previous: 'Barbie's Secret'

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review 2020-04-19 20:09
An engaging and easy read for those who love a bit of scandal.
Hollywood's Dark History. Silver Screen Scandals - Matt MacNabb

I thank Rosie Croft from Pen & Sword for providing me a paperback ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review. This is the second book I’ve read by MacNabb (I read and reviewed A Secret History of Brands: The Dark and Twisted Beginnings of the Brand Names We Know and Love a while back and enjoyed it, and I looked forward to this book, as it’s on a topic I’ve always been interested in.

I found this book well suited to the circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment (I’m writing this review in the middle of our confinement due to COVID-19, in case somebody comes across it at some point in the future and wonders what I was talking about). It’s written in an straightforward and easy-to-reads style; it deals with a topic that a lot of people find interesting (not only the lives of film stars and directors in general but their scandals, in particular); it contains an introduction and thirteen distinct chapters, each one dedicated to a different star, so it does not require sustained attention, and it can be dipped into according to the interest or the mood of the reader. The book also includes beautiful black and white pictures (some that I’d never seen before) and a bibliography (with books, websites, articles, and even documentaries). Although many of the stars won’t be familiar to the younger generation (there is a heavy focus on actors, actresses, and directors from early Hollywood), I don’t think that will make the book less attractive. The author manages to bring to life an era in the history of cinema that many people know more through the movies and documentaries than through the actual films of the period, but I am sure many readers will be inspired to do more research and try to find more information about the protagonists and the time.

Personally, I had heard about quite a few of the people mentioned, and in some cases I had read or watched documentaries that contained more detailed information than that available in this volume, but others were new to me. As for others, I knew the people involved (Errol Flynn was one of my father’s favourite actors, and I’ve watched and enjoyed many of his movies in glorious technicolour), but I didn’t know much about the scandals they became entangled in. I don’t think this is a book I’d recommend to experts in Hollywood (especially old Hollywood) personalities, as they are bound to know everything contained in it and more, but it’s a good entry book for people interested in the topic but not very knowledgeable, or for somebody looking for a good read and happy to find out more about a historical period and a period in the history of cinema that helped create the cult of stars, and also about the role of the press in building them up or destroying them that we’re so familiar with to this day.

The chapters, that don’t follow a strict chronological order, are dedicated to: Evelyn Nesbitt, Thelma Todd, Jean Harlow, Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, Errol Flynn, Lana Turner, William Desmond Taylor, Joan Crawford, Barbara LaMarr, Mabel Normand, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, and Clara Bow. Some are more familiar than others, but overall, they provide an interesting array and sample of some of the events and scandals that have plagued Hollywood from the beginning. It’s impossible not to notice that many of the subjects of the book (not all, but a significant proportion) had suffered pretty traumatic childhoods, being brought up in pretty desperate circumstances, and sometimes subject to terrible abuse. It’s sad to think that after all their efforts to make a better living for themselves, some ended up either the perpetrators (alleged in most cases) or victims of violence, abuse, or crime in later life, and very few managed to lead a happy life. Although the book does not delve into the gore or the extremely salacious details, it does include enough information to make it not suitable for young children.

This is a book I’d recommend to people who enjoy reading about Old Hollywood, scandals, and stars, but haven’t read extensively on it, and also to people looking for a source of information about the era that is easy to read and entertaining, but offers an interesting insight into what life was like for the big stars of the era (and what falling from grace was like). An engaging and easy read and a good entry level for people looking for an introduction to the beginning of film star culture.

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review 2020-03-25 21:20
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 7: 1963-1964
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 7: 1963-1964 - Charles M. Schulz,Bill Melendez

Another enjoyable couple years for the Peanuts gang. Charlie Brown gets "Eraserphagia" and "Little Leaguers Elbow", Lucy discovers Rachel Carson, Linus gets stage fright at the Christmas pageant, and Snoopy has bird problems. Many plot points for the soon-to-be-produced "Charlie Brown Christmas" special were pulled from these years as well.

 

The only really odd, unique thing about this volume was the introduction of '5' and his sisters '3' and '4'. They were renamed by their father because of the country's new mania for zip codes. 5's full name is 555 95472. It makes sense that the gang are Californians.

 

The rest of the strips are engaging and funny, of course, Schultz didn't need to reinvent the wheel to get laughs. My favorite strips were when Lucy and Frieda are commenting on the baseball game and how they might even win, and they ask each other if they even like baseball, and then Charlie Brown's finally one-upping Violet by pointing out that his father doesn't have to be the best bowler, because his dad loves him and that's enough. D'awww.

 

These are still a great investment, beautifully packaged and the end-papers keep getting better.

 

And, because Linus is on the cover - here's my Hungerford Vinyl Linus doll from ~1961, he's missing his blanket, but he's great and I'll keep my eyes out for the rest of the set: there's a Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, baby Schroeder (with detached piano) and Sally and Pigpen.

 

 

The Complete Peanuts

 

Next: 'Volume Eight: 1965-1966'

 

Previous: 'Volume Six: 1961-1962'

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review 2020-03-24 20:06
I Am Not Okay With This by Charles Forsman
I Am Not Okay With This - Charles Forsman

A short and brutal graphic novel about a teenage girl going through a world of turmoil. This has serious echoes of 'Carrie', but with a queer slant and a more conscious ending.

 

There's apparently a Netflix show based on it, but as much as this was an excellent digest of teen angst and consequences I don't need to see this trauma played out on screen.

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review 2020-01-24 20:43
Bad Twin by Gary Troup (Laurence Shames)
Bad Twin - Gary Troup

This book started off as a promising homage to the noir genre with perhaps some pleasing Easter eggs for the 'Lost' TV show, but it quickly went downhill and got a little pathetic.

 

I gave up. We re-watched the show some time ago (I've come around to that ending, still not great - but at least its an ending) and I thought I'd pick up the tie-in novels. 'Bad Twin' is a book-within-the-show as opposed to the usual book-about-the-show or novelized version of a never-produced script. I would have preferred either of those to this...blatant money-grab. I feel sorry for the people who bought this in hardcover under the expectation of revelations about the show.

 

This sat on my bedside table for months and then for weeks more while I thought about going for a few more chapters. Did not finish, but I may check out the three actual tie-in novels, which are at least honest about their content.

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