Reading Rarities: Make Do and Mend

During the Second World War, rationing was a thing in most parts of the world, and Britain had some of the most stringent rules of any free nation. Then, as now, they relied heavily on imported goods and raw materials, and when shipping became a problem, conservation was the order of the day. Not only … Continue reading Reading Rarities: Make Do and Mend

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Reading Rarities: The Art of Overeating

Plenty of Americans have contentious relationships with food in that we have to be moderate about something we have more than an abundance of. We want to overindulge, but we know we shouldn't, so life can be made up of mental games and conditioning in order to maintain a proper relationship with what we put … Continue reading Reading Rarities: The Art of Overeating

Reading Rarities: Retro Housewife

There used to be kitchen store in Old Sacramento called the Solar Syndicate, and besides the vintage-looking stoves, novelty timers shaped like cheese wedges, and copper fish wall hangings, they sold a few books, some of which were the Collector's Press "Retro" series. I only had a chance to buy two of them: Retro Breakfast, which I'll … Continue reading Reading Rarities: Retro Housewife

Reading Rarities: Pocket Guide To the Apocalypse

We've had an unusual amount of death-related stuff this month, and now we'll be talking about the end of the world. It's quite an April we're having here. Don't worry, though--this Reading Rarity will be fun. Here's hoping, anyway... The end of the world is a touchy subject. It's also the title of that one … Continue reading Reading Rarities: Pocket Guide To the Apocalypse

Reading Rarities: Teenage Confidential

There have always been teenagers, at least in the chronological sense. Teenage culture as we know it today, however, is a relatively new phenomenon, and it's a funny thing. Its public face is arbitrated and controlled by the adults with varying degrees of involvement from actual members of its demographic, and may not necessarily reflect … Continue reading Reading Rarities: Teenage Confidential

Reading Rarities: As Seen On TV

Ah, yes. Infomercials. Everyone's seen them. In my neck of the woods, we have a channel that plays them all day and all night, seven days a week. It's either hilarious or mind-numbing, depending on what time of day it is, and that time is highly nebulous. Anything involving Cathy Mitchell is usually fun, Others … Continue reading Reading Rarities: As Seen On TV

Reading Rarities: Read My Lips

During the break, I took a look at my bookshelves and was struck by how many novelty books I have. You know, the kind of volumes you find in college bookstores or souvenir shops. They're the books you didn't know you wanted, and they serve no discernable purpose besides pulling readers out of the everyday. … Continue reading Reading Rarities: Read My Lips

Why I Never Say, “They Drank the Kool-Aid.”

Today's post is not going to be exactly cheery, and if anyone wants to stop reading due to sensitivities or thinks this topic is too macabre, I completely understand. History's not always a pretty sight. However, I wanted to at least touch on Jonestown because it shook a lot of people in America, and Northern … Continue reading Why I Never Say, “They Drank the Kool-Aid.”

Origins: Little Women

Louisa May Alcott's semi-autobiographical novel, Little Women, has been a well-loved classic from the beginning. First published in 1868, with a sequel, Good Wives following in 1869, the saga came at a time when America was reeling in the aftermath of the Civil War. The book was both timely and timeless. It was also unusual … Continue reading Origins: Little Women

We’re Going To Mars

The Atomic Age didn't always mean doom and gloom and total annihilation. People also saw a whole new world of possibilities opening up to them. Like living on Mars, for instance, which Ray Bradbury explored in his 1950 novel, The Martian Chronicles.  Well, it's not exactly a novel. The book is culled from some of Bradbury's … Continue reading We’re Going To Mars

What’s Tubealloy?

The single most controversial part of the Second World War is the use of the atomic bomb. We know that Germany and Japan both had such weapons in the works, and that their efforts were narrowly thwarted by circumstances. As for the United States' development program, called the Manhattan Project, most think of the testing site … Continue reading What’s Tubealloy?

Page To Screen: Nella Last’s War

In 1937, a rather gargantuan project of compiling England's social history commenced: Mass Observation. Its aim was and is to chronicle day-to-day living in the United Kingdom, and that can mean anything from sending in diaries to filling out questionnaires to writing poems or taking photos. One of their most enthusiastic participants was Nella Last … Continue reading Page To Screen: Nella Last’s War