Thursday, December 13, 2007

valley of the historically accurate dolls (yet another experiment in excessive footnoting***)

Happy St. Lucia's Day!

When I was around 9 or 10 I was heavily into American Girl books* and I used to wish I was Swedish so we could celebrate St. Lucia's Day just like Kirsten's family. The celebration seemed to combine the joys of hair-centric ethno-religious pageantry, pyromania (candles on your head!), and every child's innate desire to eat cookies for breakfast.

*Say what you want about the American Girl franchise, but before it morphed into a creepy fetishization of upper-middle-class faux-erudite girlhood, a sure sign that your parents are going to get slammed by the Alternative Minimum Tax in April, in the beginning there were books. And the books were short. And the books were unapologetically formulaic. And while they didn't tell the most compelling or original stories ("Gee, being a girl was really hard back then, unless you were SPUNKY, in which case it ROCKED!") they were jam packed with neat little historical details, which, while stagnant from a narrative standpoint, completely fascinated me in and of themselves (Felicity had to scrape her sugar from a loaf! Butter was a rationed commodity during WWII!). If seven seasons of Star Trek: TNG have taught me anything, it is that I can enjoy even the most prosaic story if set in a well-drawn world with weird costumes and unfamiliar foodways**. Excuse me while I go get some mincemeat and apple butter from the replicator....

**My new favorite hippy-dippy-earthy-granola social science word, having recently surpassed "menstrual narratives."

***And excessive parentheticals! Behold the dizzying post-modernism of my grammar, and TREMBLE!

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