Category Archives: doll collecting

Being Excessively Creative

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It is an unusual position to be in as a kid in the school room to be the creative kid.  First and foremost because you will forever be known as the weirdo, the spaceman, the egghead.

How do I know that?  Because I was that kid.  And I grew up to teach that kid.  And now that I am retired as a teacher, I am still that kid.

If there was a problem to be solved, a picture to be drawn, a group assignment that required somebody to actually think, I was the kid that everybody wanted to be in their group or be their partner.  (That time that Reggie and I blew up the test tube of copper sulfate in Mr. Wilson’s chemistry lab doesn’t count because, although I am the one who dropped it, he’s the one who heated up my fingers with the blowtorch.  Honest, Mr. Wilson, it is true.) But if it was picking teams on the playground, I was the last loser to be called, even though I was pretty good at softball, pretty good at dodgeball, great at volleyball, and usually the leading scorer in soccer (of course we are talking an Iowa schoolyard in the 60’s where soccer was a sport from Mars.)  And as an adult, I enjoyed teaching the creative kids more than the rest because I actually understood them when they explained what they were doing and why, and I was even able to laugh at their knit-witty jokes (yes, I am including those jokes made of yarn with that pun).   Creative kids speak a language from another world.  If you are creative too, you already know that.  And if you aren’t creative… well, how foo-foo-metric for you.

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And another unfortunate side effect of the creative life is that you make stuff.  You don’t have to be seriously infected by bites from the cartoon bug or the art bug to be like that.  My daughter is making a suit of armor for herself from a flat sheet of aluminum that she is pounding out by hand, painting with spray paint and painter’s tape, and edging with felt.  After she’s done with it this Halloween, it will go on one of the piles of collections and models and dolls and stuffed toys and… Of course, sooner or later one of those piles is going to come to life and eat the house.  There is no place left to display stuff and store stuff and keep stuff that is far enough away from potential radioactive spider bites.  I have scars on my fingers from exactor knife accidents, oil paint, and acrylic paint and enamel permanently under my fingernails.  Shelves full of dolls rescued and restored from Goodwill toy bins, dolls collected from sale bins at Walmart, Toys-R-Us, and Kaybee, and action figures saved even from childhood in the 60’s are taking over the house and in an uproar, demanding to be played with rather than ignored.  (Didn’t know dolls can actually talk?  Haven’t you learned anything from John Lasseter?)

Anyway, it is tough to go through life being excessively creative.  I have art projects growing out of my ears.  And book publishers are calling me because my award-winning book is not generating sales in spite of two awards, 5-star reviews, and generally good quality, but the only solutions they have cost ME money I don’t have.  Oh, well, at least it isn’t boring to be me.

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Filed under angry rant, artwork, doll collecting, education, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, inspiration, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

My Mother’s Dolls

Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer

Tom Sawyer without the straw hat, as created by Lois Beyer

You may already know about my doll-collecting mania.  You may have already called the mental health people to come take care of the problem, and they just haven’t arrived at my door yet with the white coat that has the extra long sleeves.  But you may not know that my mother is a doll-maker and has something to do with my doll-collecting hoarding disorder.

In the early 1990’s my mother and I put our money together and bought a kiln while we were visiting my sister’s family out in California.  It wasn’t the most expensive model, but it wasn’t the cheapest, either.  We both had enough experience with ceramics that we didn’t want to buy a burning box that was merely going to blow our porcelain projects to kingdom come.  Mother had doll-making friends in Texas who taught her about firing greenware and glazing and porcelain paint and all the other arcane stuff you have to know to make expensive hand-made dolls.  Now, honestly, at the start we could’ve made some money at it selling to seriously ill doll collectors and other kooks, but we were not willing to part with our early art, and by the time we were ready to do more than just have an expensive hobby, everyone who would’ve paid money for the product was making their own.  So dreams of commercial success were supplanted by the hobbyist’s mania that made more and more charming little things to occasionally display at the county fair.

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The two dolls I have left to share on my blog from that era were both crafted by my mother.  She lovingly fired the porcelain body parts, painted the faces by hand, and created the wardrobe on her Singer sewing machine.  I made some dolls too, but never with the wondrous craft and care that made my mother’s dolls beyond compare.

Tom Sawyer was originally a boy doll who was supposed to be able to hold a model train in his hands.  My mother had the pattern for the little engineer’s uniform and hat that she would use on another doll instead.  He is named after the Tom Sawyer clothing pattern that my mother bought and sewed together to dress him in.  He has a cloth and stuffing body underneath his clothes together with porcelain head, hands, and bare feet.

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The other doll I have left to brag unctuously about is a doll named Nicole after the niece my wife and I have whom this doll bares a striking resemblance to.  She displays a beautiful little girl’s sun dress with quilted accent colors that my mother sewed from scratch with the help of a pattern she was truly fond of and used more than once.

These dolls were gifts to my wife and I, presented shortly after my mother bought out my share of the kiln when she retired and moved back to the frosty land of the Iowegians.  I haven’t kept them as thoroughly dusted and cobweb-free as they deserve because I have been a somewhat lazy and slovenly son… but I do love them almost as much as (and sometimes more depending on recent behavior) my own children.  (After all, porcelain kids rarely make a mess, overspend allowances, or hog the television too much.)

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Filed under doll collecting, humor, photo paffoonies

Dolly Pics

I like taking pictures of my doll collection. Those pictures are then qualified for Art Day posting. So, here are random pictures of dolls, most of which are from the doll shelf in my bedroom.

Not all of my dolls are on the doll shelf.

Chilly Willy here is a carnival prize that was probably won in a basketball-toss game at Six Flags and purchased by me for five dollars in a garage sale. He is technically not a doll. He is a stuffed animal.

So, let’s get back to dolls.

More stuffed animals, as well as ponies and paper dolls to add to this immense doll collection.
Creepy Captain Action lurks behind mint=in-box Emma Watson as Belle while he looks for his lost hat. But Bo Peep and Wonder Woman are keeping an eye on him.
I had to stop here as the caveman Minion had to go and start a fight with Peter Rabbit. Leave it to a mindless Minion… “Oobah Dee?” “Sorry, boss.”

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Filed under artwork, autobiography, Disney, doll collecting, humor, Paffooney, photo paffoonies

Toys From My Second Childhood

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(This is a post from 2017, before the swimming pool had to be removed, before  it caused my heart trouble,  and before  I  had to declare Chapter  13 Bankruptcy.)

Being retired for health reasons and unable to work, I would be dead already without my writing and art endeavors to fill my time and keep me sane.  I can do some work, as proven by my attempts to patch and repair the swimming pool this summer.  But my limitations drive me crazy, as proven by the fact that I did about half of the work on the pool wearing only sunscreen and a hat.  My kids are not married yet, and two of them are still in high school, but they are not much interested in toys any more.  And I don’t yet have grandkids to spoil.  So when I go the Resale Store or Goodwill to shop for old toys, I am basically buying them for myself.

The Princess of the Korean Court Barbie was lying on the bargain shelf for $3.49.  I bought the ceramic wishing well behind her for $5.00.  So the bargain-hunting gene I inherited from Scotch ancestors was duly satisfied.  But I had to do more with things like these than merely own them.  Toys are for playing. And what does a 60-year-old man do with dolls when he is playing?  Besides being a bit creepy, I mean?  Well, this photo is the answer.  I use my toys to create pictures and artwork.

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Here’s a creation using the ceramic wishing well again.  It is apparently, on closer inspection, actually a candle holder.  But it serves to make my Walmart Clearance Sale Disney toys happy.  Here you see the pony-brushing party held by Minnie Mouse with Daisy Duck and the gay snowman from Frozen.

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Here you see the metal miniatures I got in a pack from Walmart as they visit the cardboard castle.  Two of the lead figures on the ground are hand painted by me in days long ago.  The entire cardboard castle was printed and glued on cardboard, cut out and put together entirely by me.  Mickey, Minnie, Alice, Stitch, and Kermit are the metal miniatures not painted by me.

So, my days have not been overwhelmed by boredom and frustration and problems with city pool inspectors (he doesn’t even know about doing the repair work in the nude, so he can’t give me a ticket for that.)  I have been filling my time with toys and creative play.  I have been mostly a good boy… err… old man.

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Filed under action figures, Barbie and Ken, doll collecting, foolishness, goofy thoughts, making cardboard castles, Mickey, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Playing to an Audience

After five years of bankruptcy, I have finally started collecting dolls again. These are purchases since my debt was put to rest.

As a writer, I am often asked what kind of audience I think I am writing for. “Who, Mickey, is going to read your silly fantasy stories?”

To be perfectly clear… I started out as a writer intending to be a YA novelist, writing for more mature middle school and high school readers, probably more female than male. But any good YA writer writes stories that appeal to the adult, even if it is only the adult part of teenagers. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, The Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game are well known because of the adult readers who read, love, and praise those stories. I’m not saying you can’t intentionally write for a young adult audience. But I am saying you can’t write down to those readers, or you will certainly offend and lose them before the end of your story. You have to understand that they are becoming adults.

Uh, oh! I forgot that there is also a doll of Wanda, the Scarlet Witch. Now she wants to murder everyone with magic. Is Batman immune since he comes from DC rather than Marvel? Does Marvel Magic work on DC heroes?

But you can’t please all readers. Two readers who left devastating reviews on two of my books basically over-reacted to what I wrote, and let me have it with both barrels of their “Save-the-world-from-icky-Mickey” crusades. One thought Sing Sad Songs was reprehensible and evil because two of the characters, young Valerie, and Francois, the boy from France, experience sexual attraction to each other, and then both have to deal with the emotions it causes by talking about it with friends and families. The reviewer insisted that children should not talk or think about sex in a story. That was a moral violation according to her, even though no actual sex scene occurs in the story beyond a French kiss. The other lady reviewer objected to depictions of the nudist Cobble sisters in The Baby Werewolf. She claimed that the depiction of the girls, particularly Sherry, was entirely too “creepy” even though the book is a horror comedy and built on creepiness in the central conflict. Authors apparently have to have a thick skin, as every kook and prude is entitled to their own opinion.

On the positive side, though, I have gained a lot of readers who are nudists because of the Cobble Sisters and their status as at-home-on-the-farm nudists. Particularly in the companion book of The Baby Werewolf, Recipes for Gingerbread Children. The idea of nudist characters and naked people in a story makes many potential readers turn up their noses, assuming it is something perverted or pruriently sexual. I think, though, that I have successfully depicted nudists as they actually are, having been a part of the Texas nudist community, at least on the fringes. They are definitely not perverts and sex fiends, as the girls are routinely explaining to their non-nudist friends.

But I can basically describe my personal philosophy of writing for a target audience this way;

I write with an imaginary member of my target audience reading over my shoulder. Sometimes they sock me in the back of my head for things I have written. But I am not writing for him or her. I am writing for me, the things I want to write, like to write, have to write, and need to write to live.

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Filed under doll collecting, feeling sorry for myself, humor, philosophy, photo paffoonies, writing, writing humor, writing teacher

Barbie’s Little Sister is Inspired by Webb

Barbie’s little sister, Stacy, is an incredible nerd (for a plastic doll from Mickey’s doll collection.) She is constantly using one of the laptops to keep up with the latest news in Science. Lately, she has been thrilled to see pictures start rolling in from the James Webb Space Telescope, the superior imaging system to its predecessor, the Hubble Space Telescope.

You may have noticed that Stacy surfs the internet in the nude. She is not a porn-obsessed pervert or anything. She simply found research online that indicated that nudists are happier in many ways than people who are addicted to always wearing clothes. She joined the AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation,) found a local landed nudist club to join and discovered how lovely it is to play in the sunshiny air totally bare.

If you knew Stacy the way I know Stacy, you would realize she now has a real dilemma. She is very intelligent… but her head is made of plastic, and so it stubbornly resists compromises once an idea has found its way inside.

This is called internal conflict. But never fear. Stacy is highly intelligent, smarter than Skipper, and even smarter than her oldest sister Barbie. This is why she is the only sister so dedicated to nudism.

So, Barbie pointed out to Stacy that, being made of plastic, exposure to outer space will simply freeze her solid. And as long as she avoids getting dropped by a doofus while she’s frozen and brittle, and she gets thawed out slowly enough at the end of the journey, she should be fine. Now, all she has to do is convince Mickey to sell her to an astronaut who is not a doofus but is just goofy enough to take a doll into outer space. So, now Stacy is researching non-doofus goofy astronauts online, further preventing Mickey from writing something dumb.

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Filed under Barbie and Ken, doll collecting, humor, imagination, photo paffoonies, satire, science fiction

Fritterday

If you are old, forgetful, and retired like Mickey, you may have the same problem Mickey does with remembering what day it is. But he has a solution. At the end of the week, he simply has two Fritterdays. They take the “Fri” from Friday, and the “turday” out of Saturday…. But wait just a gol’ danged minute. We have to get the “turd’ out of there because nobody likes those. And we do that by changing the “u” to an “e” which means we also add a “t” to it to change the long “I” sound to a short “I” sound because “fritter” can mean wasting something, especially time, because that’s what you do when you don’t even know what-the-heck day it is. Fritterday! Fun times for the hopelessly forgetful.

And it is fun to be retired and not have anything to do… but put eye drops in each eye three times a day from three different colored-coded bottles so you don’t go blind from glaucoma… and pick up the package for the Princess at the Post Office because the doorbell is broken and nobody hears the package-delivery guy when he knocks… and go to CVS for more bottles of eye drops because they finally filled the prescription three days after the doctor phoned it in… and the Medicare paperwork needs to be filled in at the pharmacy… and you get 4 free Covid 19 test kits just because you are old… and… phooey! It is hard to make a run-on sentence like that fun. And the grammar-check program hates it in a mixture of blue and red squiggly underlines.

But you found things you didn’t even know you had lost, like paper doll clothes that had fallen off the paper dolls because the little white foldable tabs don’t stay folded and need to be given a little dab of glue. And the rubber bands you use for your ponytail because haircuts give you psoriasis sores and you don’t cut your hair anymore because of them, but they are all back in the same sack again because you found them scattered on the floor while you were cleaning in order to find the lost package-claim slip that you mislaid… apparently under the bed… the one you needed to claim the Princess’s package which contained… a white stuffed tiger toy all the way from a game company in Japan… because it matched the stuffed tigers she had as a child and she won it by playing an online game. Boy, howdy! Another sentence or two the grammar checker hates!

Annette Funicello from the cutout paper doll on the back of a 1960’s Cheerios box looks good in the cowboy getup… err… cowgirl getup you found under the corner of the bookcase. You have liked her since you were a boy. You once had a yearning to see a picture of her naked, but that never panned out. She was a Disney star and not allowed to even think bad thoughts, let alone pose for any nude photos. She was in the Mickey Mouse Club, not the Playboy Magazine Bunny Club. Darn it!

But the mind still works, and you’re still not blind, and you enjoy enraging the grammar-check program, and you cleaned your room without meaning to. You even wrote most of this messy blog post in second-person point-of-view without realizing you were doing it.

Hang-dang! A Fritterday! And there’s probably another one coming tomorrow.

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Filed under autobiography, cleaning genii, commentary, doll collecting, humor, Mickey, photo paffoonies, playing with toys, satire, self pity, self portrait

The Doll Collector’s Nightmare of Doll Revenge

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Filed under cartoons, doll collecting, dreams, humor

Collecting Disney Princesses

 

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Collecting dolls and action figures can overwhelm someone like me with hoarding disorder (and a Grandmother and Great Aunt who hardly had room to walk around their homes because of piles of collected stuff that they simply could not part with).  There have to be rules and limits to save me from myself.  I try hard to keep Disney Princesses from flooding my home and drowning me in a sea of plastic.  The toymakers are constantly updating and modifying their designs to entice fools like me to keep buying.

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A round of new designs with glittered-up clothes and new faces. Can I resist buying them all? Well, not the first four times.

I have to stop and take stock of where I’m at.  I rounded up all the Disney dolls I have that are not mint in boxes for collecting purposes and potential resale in the collectibles market.  Here they are;

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There are several ways that I can go about trying to limit and prune this massive obsession.  First and foremost, I can break this gigantic feeding frenzy up into smaller bites and pick and choose how long I chew.  This part of my collection, is based on the Tinkerbell movies and is limited to only one edition of these dolls.  It took over a year to buy all four;

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There are just four dolls in this set.  I chose only the size consistent with the 12-inch figures I always choose.  No little ones.  No second editions.  No doll costing more than $20.

Some of the dolls are rescue dolls, either bought naked at Goodwill or another thrift store, taken home to be cleaned, repaired, restored, and dressed (like the Ariel doll I posted first in this post).  These are probably my most valuable acquisitions, because they are previously loved and played with.  (The Jasmine doll in the middle belonged to my daughter, who had a tendency to mangle and experiment on dolls as well as strip them permanently naked.  This doll’s survival is a minor miracle.)

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The rescued dolls include two Snow Whites, a Jasmine that belonged to my daughter, and Mulan… mostly dressed in Barbie clothes.

The remainder of these collected dolls are recent edition Disney Princesses that I waited for some time to acquire so that they would come down in price.  A couple of these, like Tiana and Repunzel, and all the Frozen Dolls are not also represented in my collection by mint in box dolls.  I do have Belle and Aurora and even Tarzan’s Jane, but boxed only, so they are not pictured here.

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So you can see what a trippy-type trial it has become to keep a collection like this from taking over the house.  I have to impose limits on myself so I don’t become a weird old man living in cardboard box under a bridge with hundreds of dolls and action figures.

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Filed under collecting, doll collecting, humor, photo paffoonies

Thinking Differently

Buckminster Fuller is an intellectual hero of mine.  As he said in the video, if you bothered to watch it, “I was told I had to get a job and make money, but would you rather be making money, or making sense?”  Bucky was always a little bit to the left of center, and basically in the farthest corner of the outfield.  That’s why we depend so much on him in times like these when the ball is being hit to the warning track.  (I know the world doesn’t really work on baseball metaphors any more, but my life has always been about metaphors from 1964 with the St. Louis Cardinals playing and beating the New York Yankees.  Mantle was on their side, but Maris was playing for us.)  You have to live in the world that fits into your own mental map of reality.  And if you’ve been whacked on the side of the head one too many times… it changes the way you think.  You begin to think differently.  

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If you don’t know who Bucky is, as you probably don’t because he revolutionized the world in the 60’s and died in the 1980’s,  Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor.  He is credited with the invention of the Geodesic Dome.  But he was so much more than that.  He wanted to build things that made better sense, in a practical sort of way, than the way we actually do them.  He built geodesic homes because he felt a home should maximize space and use of materials and minimize costs and amounts of materials as well as environmental impacts.  He is the one who popularized the notion of “Spaceship Earth”.  He wrote and published more than thirty books, and gave us a variety of truly wise insights.  He promoted the concept of synergy.  He said, “Don’t fight forces, use them.”  He also pointed out, “Ninety per cent of who you are is invisible and untouchable.”  He was a man full of quotes useful for internet memes.

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So, lets consider an example from the mixed up mind of Mickey;

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Here are three dolls from the Planet of the Apes part of my doll collection. (Two different movies are represented here, the 1968 original, and the Tim Burton 2001 remake.)

The world we now live in is increasingly like the movie, The Planet of the Apes.  In that film the world the astronauts set down upon is ruled by talking apes.  The human beings in that film are relegated to the fields and forests where they are no more than speechless animals.  Much like the Republican Party and the wealthy ruling elite of this day and age, the apes control everything and, led by Dr. Zaius (seen on the far right) reject science and evidence as a way to explain things.  They rely on the rules set down by the Lawgiver in much the same way that modern day Republicans swear by the U.S. Constitution to determine the truth of all things.

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Here we see the apes capturing and enslaving Marky Mark… er… Mark Wahlberg rather than Chuck Heston from the original movie.

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In the original set of movies, Charleton Heston, playing the astronaut Taylor, discovers that through hatred and warring, the human beings of Earth have bombed themselves back into the stone age and enabled the evolved apes to take over.  How does Mr. Heston deal with that problem?  He discovers an old doomsday device and blows up the world.  Chuck Heston has always approved Second Amendment solutions to modern problems, so it is no wonder that he lays waste to everything, the good and the bad.  I think we can see that old orangutan-man, Donald Trump doing exactly the same things now as he runs for President, or Great Ape, or whatever…

In both the previous series, and the current remake, salvation from the rule of the monkey people comes in the form of a leader among the apes.  Caesar, whether he be played by Roddy MacDowell or by Andy Serkis, is able to solve the problems of apes and men by reaching out to those of the other species, assigning them value, and ultimately doing what helps everyone to survive and live together.  Diversity is power and provides a workable solution through cooperation.  The forces of hatred and fear are the things that must be overcome and threaten the existence of everyone.  Donald Trump needs to learn from the lesson of The Planet of the Apes, and be less like General Ursus.   We need Bernie Sanders to embrace the role of Caesar and show us how we can get along with our Muslim brothers… after all, they are more like us than the apes are, and Caesar builds bridges between apes and men.

So, there you have it, my attempt to build a new model based on an old movie… or on the remake… whichever you prefer.  And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s always…

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