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Charlie's Soap

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Sunday, October 29
In which I am forced to use the term "whore bag" in front of my 12 year old daughter

Now, lest you think I am the type to buy all my bathing suits here, let me assure you that I am not. I suppose I'm just a middle of the road person on such matters.

But, holy hell! Is it just me or is this Halloween costume thing getting out of hand, or what? I know there's not a shortage of sites lamenting the skinification of Halloween costumes, but, it's become something I have to deal with.

Busy Girl still hadn't chosen a Halloween costume and said she'd like to go to a party place thing and get a Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) costume that her friend said she saw there.

We got there and saw Dorothy costumes, but, they were in children's sizes and Busy Girl didn't want that. So, we made our way to the adult sizes and realized there weren't any left.

Then is dawned on me that the aisle we were in were the slutty children's characters fantasy costumes. Apparently, Busy Girl had plans to be Skin Exposed Dorothy or something.

While (loudly) lamenting the fact that I wouldn't let her purchase anything from this aisle, she revealed that her friends had already purchased costumes from this selection. What's apparently happening is that people are buying their kids these slutty outfits because they don't fit properly and, therefore, are less inappropriate in terms of exposure.

To quote the great philospoher Whitney Houston: "Oh, hell to the no."

It's the connotation of these costumes that she simply was not understanding. After her attempting to purchase: French Maid, Pimp Girl, Sexy Devil, Bunny Girl, Sexy Fairy, Tube Top Baseball Girl, Pimpette (see a theme? I ended up having to define "pimp" today, too) and Naughty Witch we were both getting a little exasperated.

Me: "No, that's not OK, it is inappropriate."
Busy Girl: "But, MOMMMMMMM!"
Me: "No."
Busy Girl: "But, MOMMMMM!"

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Me: "I said, 'no', those are all inappropriate, they will NOT be happening for you today, or, ever as far as I'm concerned."
Busy Girl: "But, MOMMMMM, WHY????
Me: "Because they are all very slutty, OK?"
Busy Girl: "MOMMM! I know what that means and these costumes are fine!"
Me: "No."
Busy Girl: "But, MOMMMMMMMM, why?!"
Me: "I have said this every way I know how. You will not be dressing like a whore bag for Halloween. Period."
Busy Girl: "Oh, well. OK. Then, I'm going to get the child-sized Dorothy costume and shorten the skirt and I'm going to wear a tank top instead of that silly blouse."

Me: 'What is wrong with you?"
(Note: I guarantee that she knows better and why I am upset. This isn't really like her.)
Busy Girl: "Well, I just want something cute, and, we think these things are 'cute'."
Me: "Let me assure you, there is nothing 'cute' about the costumes we have discussed and I think you know better."

Anyway, this went on forever, but, we did finally agree on the "Hula Honey" dress.

Argh!!


3:07 PM | Comments (70) |


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Comments

If mom can't wear it, daughter can't wear it.

Have you been eavesdropping at my house?!? The only difference is my 13-y-o wants to be a ninja. "But not the gross baggy kind of ninja, the cute kind that wears tight black and fingerless gloves. Argh!

Geez - my daughter is only 14 months old... How bad will it be when she's 12??

My mom used to say, "How do you expect anyone to respect you if you don't dress like you respect yourself?"

Yes, even on Halloween. Although the "Crazy lady down the street who has 32 cats," costume was my way of a peaceful protest. I figured I'd end up a Crazy Cat Lady if I didn't dress slutty like all the other girls. Guess what? I ended up married to a rocket scientist (literally) who loves me like crazy, in spite of my faults. He is kind, gentle, generous, gorgeous and owns his own business (motivated, successful, etc.). We own a home and 2 cars at 30. We just got back from a 10 day vacation in Europe. We go on vacation at least twice a year, in fact. We have one child, and one on the way. Our children have and will continue to have everything they need (note that I didn't say everything they want). We're saving for college and retirement. We are the poster children for "young, successful, happy, madly in love couple." We have a fabulous home, fabulous friends, fabulous family... I could go on and on.

On the other hand, the girl who was the epitome of popular at my high school married a guy 10 years older than herself straight out of high school, and at 19 had 3 step kids. Talk about growing up too fast! And I heard at the reunion that she was divorced. What a surprise.

In other words, sometimes those of us who dress like we respect ourselves end up having a life worthy of respect in the end, too.

PS - tell your daughter to date the nice guys that all the other girls say are "too nice" - they are where it's at!!!

Posted by: Amy | October 29, 2006 5:05 PM

Wow-- I'll just keep my mouth shut about the violent, bloody choices for boys. Your problem is much worse. Ack!

One of my kids once asked my what oral sex was. They already had a pretty good idea about sex generally, so I told them that it pretty much involved parents TALKING about sex...

I'm 31 and have no children and am single - AND I AM HORRIFIED at the slutty women's costume choices.

That's why I end up making my costume every year.

Posted by: Elizabeth | October 29, 2006 5:57 PM

it's sickening what they're doing to sexualise kids these days.

Hadn't been thinking about this yet as my daughter is still mostly in her "princess" stage, but I have fears of this coming soon enough.

I read an article (I forgot where), that was lamenting the female adult costumes, and how it seems that more and more Halloween has turned into an "opportunity" for women (of all ages) to dress... as you say... (and for the fact that this is a family blog)... inappropriately.

It used to be costumes like those used to be relegated to a back corner of the store, now the "normal" costumes are relegated to that corner.

My 13 year old is torn between wanting a costume like all her friends, (ie: slutty, in my opinion) and wanting to be herself, which is sort of modest and tomboy-ish. It is a really tough thing to have to explain to your child. We are still costume-less, btw. We are headed to Sears tomorrw, because I heard they still have a wide selection. Keep your fingers crossed...

Posted by: Carolyn | October 29, 2006 7:45 PM

Good.For.You.

I have a two-year-old, and I don't think she's old enough for Barbies. She will never have one of those hos, the Bratz, in my house. And I'm no prude - I lost my virginity when I was 14. I just know how easy it is to go from midriff-baring to whatever.

Kids don't need to grow up any faster than they do.

Hold your ground.

First, where do you find some of these website (wholesome.com) - although, there are days when I'd like to threaten music girl with a bathing suit like that !!

The costume story - I so feel for you! Just be glad they are in private school so the 'you never let me wear what I want' doesn't hit EVERY day! :)

ohmygosh how did you find that website??!!! hilariuos!! Thank god I have boys!!!

Try to get her one of those sumo wrestler costumes next time. Tons of coverage with the "essence" of nekkidness painted on the fake skin area.

Ok.. mine is 11 but it is just the same, and by that, I mean thtat she attended a party on Friday where they played SPIN THE BOTTLE. We need to pray to the baby Jesus and his baby cow for deliverance from this crap!

Boy, do I hear you. I took my 13 year old daughter to the costume shop and got pointed to the teen costumes. I could (and did) put the word "slutty" in front of every costume description. Slutty Nurse, Slutty cheerleader, slutty vampiress, etc. etc.

Fortunately, I am a dad of very few words and "no, that's inappropriate" has been coming out of my mouth since my daughter and I started shopping together.

I wonder if our parents were saying the same thing when we wanted to dress like Elvis and the Beatles?

Thanking my lucky stars (and making a large paper chain to cover the next 10 years) that my 2 year old daughter has no choice in the matter.

Or even knows what the 'matter' is she's choosing for.

best quote yet: Me: 'What is wrong with you?"

This must be said about three trillion times a day in a pre-teen home, yes?

I hear you, sistah. My 14 year old daughter is going as a devil, along with two of her friends. They're going to be the devil triplets or something. We hit the costume store and I was all "Oh no you won't" when I saw the adult sized devil costumes. Eventually we went to the thrift store down the street from the costume shop and she ended up with a (short) lacy black skirt, red fishnet tights, a red long sleeved t-shirt, the sequined devil horns and tail, and the most wonderful red sequined platform heels that are truely a find. I got her a trident, and some of that halloween makeup, and voila...no slutty costume, nothing with her boobs exposed, and she'll be wearing shorts under the skirt, just in case.

It can be done as long as you glean ideas from the costume store, get the accessories there, and then buy pieces at the el-cheapo thrift store. I am SOOO hoping this is the last year for her to go out. My son hasn't gone out since 3rd grade! But she loves it, and honestly, I love the candy.

I love slutty Halloween costumes and have been wearing them for years. For me it's definitely - "come as you are not" and lifting the veil between what is and what might be - since I never dress that way normally.

But I didn't start til college - and I made my own.

Cheers for Busy Mom!!!

My kids are going as Lilo and Stitch this year. The Munchkin loves the movies, the TV shows, the music... My MIL did costumes for a community college production of "South Pacific" this summer and made over a grass skirt for her. She will wear it over jeans, and the top from her swimsuit (haven't decided if she will wear a shirt underneath it, but definitely a sweater on top of it), and a lei. Tad gets to be Stitch - we already had the costume from the Munchkin's first Halloween.

Next year, the Munchkin says she wants to be Luke Skywalker. :)

'remind me NOT to complain when trick-or-treaters show up at my house, fully covered in respectable threads...and with painted faces.

Thankfully at the moment I don't have to be overly concerned with the slutty costumes out there for little girls since Girlie Girlie is only 17 months old. She went as a penguin and was completely unexposed. And Little Man is 9 and there aren't too costumes I deem inappropriate for his age. He was a Ninja.
I agree with you though I think that the costumes out there leave alot to be desired for girls.

Now hold on, does a whore bag hold more candy? Cuz that's worth points, right there.

Oh I'm so happy Princess is being a zombie - sooooooo happy. Although now I'm dying to use the term "whore bag" in a sentence. I love to learn new words ;)

The most frightening part of this post was the swimsuits.

Yikes.

I had a problem just shopping for school clothes for my 8 yr old and 5 yr old. Where in the hell did they hide all the cute dresses, knee socks Mary Jane’s this year. I ended up ordering online!

Lucky for me my girls were happy with a simple cowgirl costume this Halloween...I know the agony is coming and I'm not ready!!

When I saw my four year old in her Princess Jasmine costume this weekend, I asked my ex, "Why didn't you just get her some pasties and a thong?"

I see the Bratz crap and the rest and wonder "When did they start spelling "empowerment" as "whore"?" I mean, if you want your daughters to be ads for Better Blowjobs, that's all well and good, but then don't be blamin' de teevee.

I already told my son, that if, when he starts dating, he brings someone home that sets off my bimbo detector, I'm handing them both a toothbrush and some grout cleaner, and pointing them at my bathroom.

I am so very thankful that sister (13) is to modest to even think about sexy costumes. However, I was on her computer last night and typed a "B" into the search bar and "big p3nis" popped up as recently searched. Of course I totally embarrassed her in an appropriate kind of way.

I *KNOW*!!!

I have two girls, 13 and 16. The 13 yo and I have been at odds about the costume issue since the beginning of October. She is nowhere near being able to fit in kid's sizes and the ones that do fit are totally slutty. We finally (sorta) agreed on a leprachaun costume, but are still at odds over the hat-- it has a sign that says "420 / 69" and she's not allowed to leave the house with it still attached.

And she thinks I'm kidding...

Good for you, BusyMom. Cuz hey, if it's OK on Halloween, then why not any day? You're smart to stand your ground.

And imagine how freaking heavy those bathing suits are when they get wet!! GAH!

Those bathing suits! oh my ~
This was the first year I noticed such a large selection of trashy costume wear - thinking it's because my daughter is 6 soon to be 7 - so far she is miss modest...

Posted by: rhonda | October 30, 2006 3:50 PM

Speaking of Halloween. I was in the candy aisle today trying to decide just which candy fit our needs. I wanted something we didn't like, so we wouldn't eat the whole bowlful before tomorrow night and yet something we would eat if we get stuck with leftovers. Also, trying to 'do the math' in my head as to how many little ones will cross our doorstep. Just then a nice looking daddy walked into the aisle, carrying his daughter on his shoulders. She was about 7 years old, a sweet looking face who was talking already. I want this kind and that kind of candy type convo between them and then the little girl says, "I want to be a witch this year'. and nice looking daddy replies, "Your mother is a real witch, its not just me, everybody says that". Oh my. Sue

Posted by: Sue | October 30, 2006 4:40 PM

My daughter is only three adn we went through this yesterday. Even the little ones have the slutty selections prominantly displayed next to the cute kid outfits.

I was not a happy mommy. But we found a cute (and body covering) Tinkerbell costume that made mommy and kid happy.

I think I just peed myself.

None of those costumes are meant for, or should be sold to, anyone under 18. But, man, I was out a club this past Saturday for a Halloween and saw a slutty Dorothy--hoo yah!

Posted by: chairman me | October 31, 2006 12:51 PM

I am a psychologist and have become blunt as a result of 8 hours a day talking to people about things you don't talk to people about.

My daughter was wearing a padded bra, she was one of the first in her age group to "start" and had complained about boys looking at her chest. "I see you are wearing a padded bra." "Yes" she answered. "Well, that will help the boys not stare at your chest. NOT."

She went home and asked to go shopping for a bra with less there there.

Won't work forever, but thank God it does right now.

What ever happened to the good ol' unisex hobo costume?

My 13-year-old daughter has a 13-year-old friend (girl) planning to wear a French maid costume trick-or-treating. I told her that any mother who would buy that for her daughter should be taken out and shot.

So I inadvertently ordered a sexy costume for my 7yo but I have fixed it by explaining that it will be cold enough that she will have to wear a shirt under it and she is excited because it is my shirt. [She doesn't have any the right color.]

And, in an unrelated conversation yesterday, she says to me -- here, on the verge of winter -- Mom, I need a bikini that comes up to here and goes down to here -- demonstrating with her hands that she means a REAL bikini and not the very modest tankinis that I have been buying her in the past.

I said, that is a grown-up swimsuit you are talking about and you don't need ANY swimsuit until next summer.

Why on EARTH does she ask for any swimsuit in late October? And why is it a real bikini when she does???

What's all this talk of 13-year olds picking out costumes to go trick-or-treating? I thought the generally-accepted age cut off for that sort of thing was 12.

Posted by: Puzzled | October 31, 2006 1:23 PM

Woohoo, slutty is in this year. On the kids: whorifying. On the adults: woohoo! Seriously, I agree w/ you parents (30, married, no kids yet) with the costume choice this year for girls. WTF?

I dunno. I'm still reeling from the blowback that one year i decided to go to the law school party dressed as the prophet Isaiah. Guy at the door said I had to wear clothes, or something.

Posted by: Uncle Pavian | October 31, 2006 1:31 PM

3 words - Make your own. (another reason to thank God for my wife).

Posted by: phwest | October 31, 2006 1:33 PM

There's a cartoon about this very thing, here:

http://www.rockwoodcomic.com/moleday.html

(look at Wednesday's strip).

"it's sickening what they're doing to sexualise kids these days."

'They' can't do anything to sexualize kids unless parental responsibilities are abdicated. No one has to buy these, no one has to allow unrestricted TV and Internet usage, no one has to let it get out of control. It's got to be hard, but it's the only job that really matters, and the results of the effort are worth it. Good luck to everyone.

The more I read stuff like this, the more I love my son.

Two years ago? Bear. Last year? Train Engineer. This year? Paleontologist.

Yep, you read that right. He's got a vest, brush, hat, scarf, magnifying glass, and a few rubber dinos. He loves it. And he looks like a little Sam Neil from the beginning of Jurassic Park.

Posted by: Derek | October 31, 2006 2:23 PM

Well, one advantage of Holloween in Canada - too darn cold for the 'slutty' look.

Posted by: Boudica | October 31, 2006 2:23 PM

This is the funniest post and the comments are also hilarious!

I trick or treated until well into late high school and ALWAYS dressed up. I don't remember a single instance where I had too much skin showing. My favorite costume was a Geisha girl...full coverage and then some! It was a real kimono and I even had the authentic shoes (not so comfy for getting candy!)

I've always been very modest and showing a lot of skin is just not something I ever enjoy. I do not understand the need to make little girls "sexy"...WHY?!? I used to play dress up and always wanted to be pretty and wear lots of makeup...but the clothes I dressed up in were old fashioned, fully covering, with gloves. I never wanted to dress like a stripper! Jeez.

As much as I want children, this kind of thing scares the heck out of me! At least my hubby is a cop so the shotgun is always out and within view. Hee Hee...I plan to let him scare all dates if we have a girl! lol

I think we must have gone shopping together!

You know it is bad when:
* 10 yr old daughter tells you that the costumes seems "kinda slutty" don't they?
* You have to tell said daughter that absolutely under no circumstances can she even consider looking at the costumes from "Leg Avenue".

This has been a very difficult year for shopping for costumes (My post on this: http://rightmom.net/?p=276)

Do you think its fair to publish private conversations with your children on the internet? Don't kids have a right to privacy? Don't they need to feel like they can trust their parents when they have problems? How can your daughter come to you with personal problems if you are going to run to the computer after talking to her and tell her secrets to the world?

Posted by: jeg2kjguytr8 | October 31, 2006 2:53 PM

Along the same lines... as soon as we realized Kid #2 was a girl, my husband and I made a solemn vow that she would NEVER, as long as she lived under our roof, wear words across her butt. If it's part of a sports "uniform," too bad - I'll go to the mat to get some plain-bottomed pants for her, or find her another team. Why on God's green earth do high schools (and middle schools! and elementary schools!) allow, much less encourage, girls to wear clothes DESIGNED to make people of all ages and both genders look at their rear ends??

Posted by: Jamie | October 31, 2006 3:21 PM

Oh, holy mother of all things non-slutty, where did you FIND THAT WEBSITE? I'm laughing so hard I can hardly type.

About the slutty pickin's for small children, however, I'm not laughing quite so hard. I'm guessing that a mom who would allow a little child to wear slutgarb is probably a woman who wears it herself on a daily basis and thinks she's classy.

Word: um, no.

"Oh, holy mother of all things non-slutty"

Redundant. But funny.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the girl thinking the slutty clothes were "cute." Teenage girls these days don't seem to know the difference and I'm not sure if they understand the effect on men and boys. Trust me, I'm male: if you wear slutty clothes, men and boys will look at you as a sex object. This applies to everyday clothes, too, not just Halloween.

Vol Abroad:

Thank God women like you exist. I love it when really wholesome women dress slutilly for Halloween. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Posted by: Kowboy | October 31, 2006 5:42 PM

It isn't just costumes. It seems I see little girls dressed in far to adult adult clothing frequently.... and that isn't even dicussing the new bras available for little girls.

Posted by: M___ | October 31, 2006 5:47 PM

What's halloween have to do with it? Let's go year round...

While in a gift store this summer in up-state NY. I became stunned as never before looking at the tag lines on the t-shirts.

I gathered all the kids/teens and bolted when I saw a child-sized t-shirt that said, "Future MILF". Don't ask, if you don't know.

Our culture and society are doomed...at least in upstate NY.

Posted by: dog | October 31, 2006 5:52 PM

In defense of the modest swimwear site -- try finding swimsuits that really are modest (like, modest enough that you could conceivably go to the beach without wondering whether you're going to fall out of your top.) The folks at that site did, and finally gave up and made their own. It's a bit extreme, but better than a bikini.

What's funny to me is watching the difference between a group of college-age girls going to a party where they want to "be seen" or "meet people" and the same demographic going to a (relatively) family-friendly party mostly with people they know. The best-voted costumes, every year, at the parties my friends go to (I usually have to work, and always have to study) were things like a book, Edward Scissorhands, a Rubik's cube... no one wore slutty costumes because a) no one actually wants to see that and b) most of them are really uncomfortable. The youngest daughter of one my friends wore her mom's wedding dress, and went as the Corpse Bride and looked amazing. I hear that the person who went to a different party as Big Fish (the actual fish itself) also looked awesome, though I haven't seen pictures for myself yet. Meanwhile, my friends who attended typical college/frat Halloween parties dressed slutty, got drunk, and didn't remember much of the party the next day. I'm grateful no one's felt the need to share those pictures with me.

I'm pretty sure it has more to do with who your kids hang out with and what the group likes to do. And, oddly, the more they're exposed to adults with fully-formed value systems, who have no desire to either be or make out with barely coherent near-prostitutes, the less likely they'll be to want to wear "come hither" barmaid style outfits themselves.

(anyone else notice the "Costumes - Pimp Devil Mens" and "Buy Sexy Halloween Shoes" ads at the bottom of this post? Curse you, contextual GoogleAds!)

Posted by: Sarah | October 31, 2006 7:07 PM

My family always made our own costumes. In kindergarten I went as Mrs. Pac Man, and I had siblings who went as 1) an arcade game, complete with slot to insert candy; 2) The Banana Jr. Series 6000 (props to those who recognize the reference); and 3) a barrel of toxic waste. I sympathize with those who can't make or sew due to a lack of talent, but really, homemade costumes are usually better— except for the toddler ones. Those are *kyooooot*.

I discovered the value of a comfortable costume, and I too went trick-or-treating through high school. Since some of the parents started complaining when I was 11 (I grew tall very young) I almost did it as a protest. However, I am of the opinion that if you fulfill the basic Halloween contract— you come to my door dressed in costume— I will gladly fulfill my end, which is to give you candy regardless of age.

I'd still trick-or-treat if I could get away with it. Not really for the candy but for the whole getting out and showing off bit.

Anyway, now I'm missing theater parties. If you want cool costumes, theater parties are great, and most of them, even in college, are non-revealing. (There were drag parties too, and they weren't particularly revealing either, though I do have blackmail material for one lawyer friend if he ever wants to be a judge... :) )

Heh - my son went as a storm trooper again, my daughter went as a vampire. I actually LIKED the costume - velvet dress (somewhat tight, but FULL coverage, a LONG skirt, and LONG lace sleaves. Then again, I have a daughter who takes after her mom - modest

And for bathing suits, she also takes after her Mom - a 1 piece suit, with a white tee shirt over it, and a LARGE floppy hat - something about them seeing Grandpa's skin cancer being removed, and the fact that we all BURN

Posted by: KG2V | October 31, 2006 8:58 PM

This is exactly why I taught myself how to sew.

Though for next year's Halloween I may order one of those bathing suits for my daughter because they weere pretty scary.

Posted by: spring | October 31, 2006 9:01 PM

It was 30 something degrees out tonight! Thankfully I live in the north were dressing scantily on Halloween is much more cold than *hot*!

I'm 34, a guy, and unmarried, so my point of view is...I don't know, but I'd say both more objective and less emotionally invested, but anyway, looking at the symptom that is this kind of thing, and the disease it bespeaks, there are times when I wonder how any kid has a chance in the present day. I mean a chance to grow up with a real set of values and judge base human impulses against them, as opposed to growing up having those base human impulses reinforced and then having to acquire real values later on, to the extent that that's even possible. My compliments to you Busymom, for maintaining a steadfast stance against the sexification, for want of a better term, of the nation's children, especially in the face of this kind of thing. Good grief.

Posted by: Thom | November 1, 2006 3:12 AM

I'm 34, a guy, and unmarried, so my point of view is...I don't know, but I'd say both more objective and less emotionally invested, but anyway, looking at the symptom that is this kind of thing, and the disease it bespeaks, there are times when I wonder how any kid has a chance in the present day. I mean a chance to grow up with a real set of values and judge base human impulses against them, as opposed to growing up having those base human impulses reinforced and then having to acquire real values later on, to the extent that that's even possible. My compliments to you Busymom, for maintaining a steadfast stance against the sexification, for want of a better term, of the nation's children, especially in the face of this kind of thing. Good grief.

Posted by: Thom | November 1, 2006 3:12 AM

My apologies for double post, trouble w/ I-net atm.

Posted by: Thom | November 1, 2006 3:13 AM

I live in Utah and it is very cold on Halloween (one year it snowed!) so it will be really easy for me to get my almost 9 year old daughter to wear a decent costume. I'll just have to remind her that she'll freeze her butt off in that little thing. If the thought of fire in someone else's loins won't faze them, the thought of cold in their own might!

aloha-ay!

it's happening. i'm sorry. I did fore warn you though. and it'll get worse before it gets better, sorry!

My dad sepnt much of my teen years taunting me with, "What's wrong with you?" Eventually as I matured I realized he was just a brute who was trying to coerce someone weaker than himself into agreeing with his irrational fears. I never forgave him for that. Much later I became aware he was just plain paranoid. I'm not saying the same is true for you, but if your blog truly reflects how you talk to your daughter, I'm shocked that you would actually reveal that for the world to see. It's not my place to give you advice, but I can't help but wonder if you aren't doing more harm than good, and if your daughter feels as I did when you talk to her that way(?) Well, I guess a place to start would be to ask her(?)

Posted by: jerseyguy | November 12, 2006 1:48 PM

Doctor Who takes three prizes at the National Television Awards in a repeat of its success last year...

Record company EMI sign a deal with the estate of crooner Dean Martin to use the singer's likeness...

William Styron, whose Holocaust novel Sophie's Choice became a film and an opera, has died, aged 81...