21 September 2011

Father's Little Helper?

So in the class for which I was so unprepared last post, we had the ever-fascinating library lecture...only it was ACTUALLY FASCINATING, because the History of Medicine librarian at McGill is my favorite human being, pretty much. After going through the how-to-database instructions and standard stuff (though that was great too! Because I learned how to use two new search functions...SUCH A HISTORY NERD), he reminded us of the existence of the Internet Archive, and of the Prelinger Archives collection therein.

There's all sorts of stuff there, amateur films, industrial short films, all those crazy health & hygiene and social behavior films. Because the class for which I was looking is in History of Psych, I made a beeline for the Medicine: Psychiatry tag--there's not much, but I did find this:

(Link here if you don't want to watch the tiny screen, though really it mostly just gets blurrier.)

It's a 1957 film advertising a tranquilizer called Atarax. According to the voice-over, "Ataraxia means peace of mind, and that, even more than money, is what most of us want to find."

Yes, most of the voice-over is in weird rhyming couplets. The whole thing is odd really. Some of the visual moments are great: the stressed husband reading the relaxation manual, his eyes lighting on his serene wife, who is paging through a novel called Wife Killer; the double newspapers--first headline bad news, peel back, second headline GREAT!--that indicate the husband's new positivity about life; the husband's crazy, contorting facial expressions and wife's COMPLETE IMPLACABILITY; and the money that is lowered down on a fishing hook to indicate that good things come to those who wait...and are relaxed in the meantime by taking tranquilizers? I guess? Overall, though, odd.

(The other thing I don't get is: in the end, the wife reads the husband to sleep. He only seems to be tranked in the office. Does he not need them after all? Is he taking them on the sly and then inflicting his bad mood on his wife in the evening regardless? What is going on here?)

There are serious issues here, about both the treatment of mental health issues in midcentury America and about the social behavior expected of men and women in that period. I was somewhat surprised when the video turned out the way it did; your typical tranquilizer story from suburbia focuses on the women rather than the men, y'know, "Mother's Little Helper" and whatnot, and so a Pfizer promotion called "The Relaxed Wife" seemed to me like it would be about, well, a wife needing to relax. It's something I want to look more into...I was going to go on a rant and then realized I didn't know enough to rant with authority.

We're going to be talking about this stuff in psych class, actually, in a couple weeks, after we read The Age of Anxiety (my prof's book! I am excited!) and I'm looking forward to it. But in the meantime...Atarax! After all, "of all the states throughout this nation, the happiest by far is the state of relaxation--there'll be fewer breakdowns and insomniacs, when more of us have learned to be relaxed..."

20 September 2011

Seriously What Am I Doing Online

Class in two hours! Thirty pages to have profound thoughts about! Not dressed yet! Clearly the BEST time to blog! So many exclamation points!

Room still a mess. Sewing machine set up on desk (alongside computer...will have to solve that conflict at some point). Took out winter clothes this weekend and remembered my rad brown tweed day dress, though unfortunately it's not cold enough. Ready for end of summer.

History of Psychiatry at one though, and then Sociology of Mental Disorder, and then home to cook dinner and NOT think about mental illness for a while. Last night made the pear-and-citrus pie posted over at Chronically Vintage a couple weeks ago, with Chicken Paprika and E made yummy buttered cauliflower...we didn't eat 'til like 11 but it was freaking delicious.

AND IN CONCLUSION, because this is funny/charming, and I have to go a) read about fifties mental institutions and b) pick clothing that looks less like a colorblind person's than what I wore yesterday:

Elvis played the title role in the 1962 film Kid Galahad, which I watched the other day and is hysterical. He is a boxer in upstate New York! But also a gentleman, and really just wants to make enough money to quit boxing and become a partner in the garage in town, and marry his gambling-debt-encumbered boxing coach's cute little sister (who, by the by, wears a great yellow dress in one scene):

I couldn't find a better picture of the dress that wasn't black and white. It's pretty simple but just looks really nice, and that's not the most intuitive clothing color, so I was pleased.

ALSO just found this gem on Google Image Search:

14 September 2011

Who Knew Leonard Bernstein Was a Fox?

I didn't, but check this out:

And this:

Maybe I should start falling in love with men who aren't famous and dead. And gay.

Had a really long conversation with M and E yesterday about Boy/Girl Stuff--consciousness of gender performance, cross-gender interactions, whatnot, and it bled over into a fashion discussion in some sort of interesting ways. E and I both remember dressing aggressively badly as teenagers to make ideological points--my ripped tights and ratty grandma cardigans in a way not only displayed but were my angry feminism. Now that we've both adopted a more...one might say "conventional," but in truth just more aesthetically and less politically motivated style of dress, what does that mean?

What, generally, does my gender behavior mean? God knows, and I certainly know that I roll my eyes usually when these conversations come around--I'm so conflicted about a lot of it that I can't really have the debate without twisting into crazy pretzels of self-contradiction--but it's a set of questions worth not just tossing aside.

(Hi, big public Internet, how's it going)

Bought strange fabric on sale yesterday with champagne bottles and confetti printed on it. Have the best New Years' dress ever on the slate.

WHICH REMINDS ME that I only have a month and a half now to figure out Halloween and I am goddamned slow and indecisive about that costume business. Options so far include:

-Salome dancing, Seven Veils etc (papier mache John the Baptist head required, of course). I know I read this on the Internet somewhere but it's such a freaking good idea that I am totally okay with jacking it
-a Mondrian painting! 2d place idea from last year. Yves-St-Laurent-esque Mondrian dress, but then paint my body around it to complete the canvas
-Birds-esque Tippi Hedren with fake birds swooping in on the attack (wired to me I guess?)
-on the list I made in WordPad I've written "nancy/courtney" with no other commentary. I think that means Nancy Spungen and Courtney Love but I don't understand what my costume idea was.

Need to decide by Thanksgiving, I'd say--which'll give me three weeks exactly to sort out costume crafting. Good timeline? Good timeline. Good.

13 September 2011

Cover Story, redux

HAAAH another month plus absence! And returning with nothing to show but more YouTube links! Maybe I should just admit I'm not cut out for bloglife.


This song is not actually by the Beatles!

And this version by the Flying Lizards featured in Empire Records, an excellent movie everyone should see:


Maybe someday I'll be substantive.