Childhood Memories · Colorful Retellings of History · Objects · Personal Anectdotes

Mourning the Death of Microsoft Paint

AOL2I grew up at a strange time right before technology exploded when boom boxes with shiny new CD players were where it was at. It was also an age before home computers were common. Few people had them and my father was one of them. He probably had to have one for his work, you see he was working with this strange new thing called The World Wide Web. I was five and that sounded so deliciously mysterious to me. He tried to explain it to me, saying that he worked with computers – computers that talked to each other. Of course having no concept of the Internet I thought the computers were some sort of sentient beings that gossiped to other computers about their owners. I wondered if they’d be critiquing the scrawling doodles I was making in Microsoft Paint or share the story I was plagiarizing typing in the word program. Now I think about it this is pretty telling of my later social anxieties that instead of making the computers out to  be benevolent creatures they were fiercely critical spies… Huh!

dot-matrix_printer_paperBut anyways… since I didn’t live with my father I didn’t get to learn the computer much. My mother wouldn’t get a computer until I was ten, or maybe even twelve, – a pass down, as was much of our belongings. We were lucky to have it then, most of my other poor peers did not. The only thing it could really do was type and print what you had typed on long sheets of perforated paper. Ripping the “dots” off the sides of the paper was one of the most satisfying activities ever but it had to be saved for after something was printed, otherwise the paper would be useless. It was a cruel trick.

trojanIn these early days of the PC these were fragile machines. Being a kid I crashed them almost every time I had a chance to use them and even completely wiped the hard drive twice. Children have always been the worst virus ever to hit technology but I digress.

Over the years I learned how to use Microsoft Paint. Of course I drew houses like everyone else. It was so easy! Just make a box and a triangle and there you are! A house! A few more boxes and you had a chimney, windows, and a door. The perfect lazy drawing. Only in my teens did I take myself somewhat more seriously but not really… I started drawing comics of Glen the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar. He was the great grandson of the Hookah Smoking Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland… and one of the biggest reasons my bestie at the time would constantly be yelling, “WHHHHY do you have to make everyone think you’re on drugs?!” Glen was fat, rubbery, and made adorable babbling and squealing noises in my head. Recently I considered resurrecting him from the dead only to find Microsoft Paint is no longer being installed on new computers. The horror. The only user-friendly drawing program is dead! RIP Microsoft Paint. I will miss you.

HALhobbitfeminineprotection

 

 

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Objects

What is Barbie Hiding in her Little Pink Closet?

Barbie gets a lot of grief these days and this is a sentiment coming from someone who never really liked her in the first place. Life was great when she had all her designer clothes, the perfect body, an adoring audibarbie_as_bild_lilli_ooak_by_lulemee-d3gkwvsence, a dashing young sugar daddy at her side. I mean that’s the epitome of success for a hooker… which is what she was originally based on. This is one of those dark little secrets people don’t tend to know. Barbie was based on another European doll who was a German prostitute… Now I don’t know if that doll was even a kid’s toy but I sort of don’t doubt it. Germans have some odd ideas about what’s appropriate for children – just look at their fairy tales and you’ll find cannibalism, torture, incest, murder, dark magic, talking sausages. Seriously, what’s up with the talking sausages?! But before I distract myself too badly I’ll get back to telling you the scoop on that lovable plastic floozy.

At some point Barbie lost just about everything. While she maintained her vapid good kendolllooks she also started to get bogged down with responsibility. It wasn’t good enough to be beautiful, she also had to have a job, and get married… but that wasn’t to last long. It was probably on her honeymoon that she discovered just how underwhelming Ken was, a dirty little secret every morbidly curious little girl knows. Ken was ill-equipped. In my mental world of play she ran off with GI Joe and then ended up divorcing Ken when… he also ran off with GI Joe. GI Joe is a popular man doll. It happens. (This also probably explains why years later when I dug my Barbies out of the attic I found all the Ken dolls in dresses, cuddled up next to a gutted glow worm. HMMMM.)

FLAT_Career

All kidding aside Barbie’s history is funny without adding much to the story but when I was growing up she lived in a house of tortures. I was not kind to dolls. I remember that there were Barbies out at the time who had bendable knees. Oh what lovely popping noises they’d make when you snapped their legs in half! It’s OK, I wasn’t a serial killer in the making. I gave her a wheelchair of sorts…. Before taking her bungee jumping…. Because even people whose legs have been snapped off at the knee can sometimes enjoy extreme sports. The bungee ropes weren’t part of the Mattel merchandise. That was just a spool of elastic I stole from my mother’s sweat shop. When tied around the waist my Barbies made for fantastic sling shots. My poor mother must have groaned every time she walked into the house to find Barbies hanging from the rafters, again. My teachers really groaned when I decided to make a mummy of one of my Barbies, encasing it in paper Mache… and tying an elastic to its waist because if you’re going to be a mummy you might as well be a bungee jumping mummy. For three days I launched her off the gym at the playground and watched her shoot past unsuspecting children, flopping unceremoniously in puddles of brown slush on her way through. Eventually I was caught by the teachers and forced to bring her home, still wet, to use as a chia pet and mold garden. Come to think of it this might be why my teacher was so concerned when I showed up with a set of Breyer horses with bandaids on their backs. “Are their backs broken??” She wanted to know. Jesus Christ no! I’m not that sadistic! They’re saddles.

So ends my random thoughts of Barbie for today. Until next time…

Objects · Uncategorized

Shoes – Violently Named, Globally Adored

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was three in the morning, or maybe four, or five. Point is I hadn’t slept and I was here, at a friend’s house, having a tremendous session with her and her cousin when I was asked, “What’s up with the shoes?” I looked down at my bright red Converse All Stars and for the life of me couldn’t answer. I had been wearing them since I was in third grade. They’d become almost a second skin. How was I supposed to know why I wore them now?? After much contemplation I decided it was because I have flat feet and am poor. I joke, but really, I love these iconic shoes and am rarely in something different.

 

The only other shoes which compete for my heart are my pair of muck boots – sturdy rubber monstrosities that look like hell but allow me to waddle through the most leech infested of swamps (should I choose to!) They’re not the ugliest shoes I have ever seen – that would have to go to a pair of neon green leopard spotted brothel creepers I think would have lightened up any Salvation Army. Those started a whole different conversation. Why are they called brothel creepers? Do brothels need to be creeped into? And by wcreeper-2hom? Apparently British sailors after World War II. Because if anything goes with bellbottoms and a superfluous amount of buttons it’s really weird thick rubber shoes… Brings a whole new meaning to, “You should wear your rubbers!” but I digress, no need for historical VD jokes this early in my blog.

 

Since this diversion into hshitkickersistory I have been thoroughly amused by all sorts of names for shoes, more so than the shoes themselves. Shit-kickers. Depending what you think a shit-kicker is probably says a lot about your class. If you think a shit-kicker is a high-healed ankle boot made for certain sexually voracious women you’re probably middle or upper class. If you think shit-kickers are steal toed boots… well you might be part of the mob, or lower class, or just someone who likes kicking the shit out of people. It’s a lot like a wife-beater. If you’re poor men wear wife beaters. If you’re middle class men and women can wear tank tops. If you’re upper class only women wear them and they’re called camisoles. But back to shoes…

shitkicker

 

Brothel creepers and shit kickers are wonderfully colorful names but they pale in comparison to knee-high fuck-me boots. Once, when I found myself searching for a pair, in another fucked up story I am sure I will illuminate you with later, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out whhhhy I was calling them this. Were they really called this or was I being unseemly again? Oh thank God, it’s not me. Now watch me toddle off with a pair, laughing too hard to stand. kneehigh

And since we’re talking about fuck-me boots I must also make a small detour for stilettos. It seems English speaking people have lost the meaning of stiletto, to them it’s just a high healed shoe, but actually the word stiletto refers to a very specific pick-ax like knife that was once used by medieval Italians to assassinate each other in the street without anyone noticing. Apparently one good stab under the ribs from behind would kill and provide an escape into a crowd before anyone realizes someone’s been stabbed! So now you know – shoes based on deadly weapons are sexy. Or something…

The only other pair of shoes I distinctly remember wearing were a pair of moccasins I got as pass downs all winter long. It should be noted right now that although I grew up poor I was neither of Native American ancestry or poor enough to have to wear something I plucked out of a donation box. I have no answer as to why I insisted on this for so long, slogging through the snow as they got dripping wet, their little frayed leather tassels drooping under the moisture, as I pitter pattered into the school making themoccassin soft slapping sound of a duck’s feet on tile. My teacher made note of this, though by this time I was already that kid and none of my peers said anything. Yup. So ends tonight’s musing on shoes.