Our most enduring image of a World War II woman is of Rosie the Riveter, the plucky gal on the assembly line with the bandanna, rolled-up sleeves and look of stolid determination. But women played a far greater role -- often unheralded -- in actual military service. Thousands joined female-only branches including the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps and the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. Texas author Cindy Weigand tells the story of 27 of these women through historical and more current oral histories in Texas Women in World War II.The book shows how women provided crucial support behind the battlefield lines. "It's about women flying airplanes to places where they can be shipped overseas, training men for gunnery practice by towing targets, performing mechanical maintenance, sorting through mountains of paperwork and holding the hands of wounded soldiers rather than seeking shelter herself," Weigand says.
If there's one woman at the heart of the book, it's the remarkable Oveta Culp Hobby. The wife of former Texas governor Bill Hobby was the first director and driving force behind the WAACs. Full of "poise, charm, looks and brains," Hobby said that the WAACs would be "neither Amazons rushing to battle nor butterflies fluttering about."
"She was confident in self and completely comfortable in a man's world," Weigand says. Smear tactics and rumors of drunkenness, pregnancies and immoral behavior among the WAACs only strengthened her drive and resolve. "I hope readers gain a greater appreciation for the contributions of women," says Weigand. "It took everyone to win that war." Texas Women in World War II is available at Barnes & Noble and Borders. For information or to find a local retailer, call 1-800-462-6420 or visit www.nbnbooks.com. $18.95.--Bob Ruggiero
Don't Forget the Cock
If you want to feel safe, you need more guns. You might think that one in the car, one in the closet and one under the pillow is sufficient to ensure your security, but what if an intruder attacks while you're answering nature's call? You'd better get one for the bathroom. It's a scary world out there, and a personal arms race is definitely the best way to keep yourself safe. At the High Caliber Gun and Knife Show, you'll find new and old guns, ammo, knives and camouflage. We suggest also picking up a couple of blades for those suburban gang fights. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, December 20. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 21. Pasadena Convention Center, 7902 Fairmont Parkway. For information, call 281-487-4331 or visit www.highcalibergunshow.com. $6. -- Keith Plocek
Take the Bully by the Horns
Bullying doesn't necessarily end with high school. In fact, most Americans claim the bullying they face at work is more insidious and damaging than what they suffered as kids. So, McFly, are you going to let that jerk who glued the pages of your chemistry book together run you out of your corner office or steal your enchiladas from the break room fridge? Hello, McFly? Listen, there are other options. You can stand up for yourself by attending a self-help group organized through Meetup.com, a Web site that facilitates face-to-face gatherings. Meetup.com has become something of a social phenomenon and the preferred means of planning "meetups" for groups as varied as witches, poker enthusiasts and fans of Bill O'Reilly. The "bullied at work" group meets the third Saturday of every month. 1 p.m. Saturday, December 20. La Madeleine French Bakery, 6205 Kirby. For information, visit www.meetup.com. Free. -- John Yandersits
Through the Veil
Iranian artists flourish despite repression
Contemporary Iranian artists are still working. Although their government forbids exploring sensitive topics such as religion and politics, the paintings in the exhibit "Echoes in Blue" at Williams Tower Gallery are nevertheless evocative of the struggles faced by citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran.Six of the exhibitors are women. Through stark juxtapositions of light and dark, Shideh Tami's powerful paintings express the frustration of women who live under governmental repression of dress, act and thought. Viewers' reactions aren't always positive. "Sometimes I get a slap on the mouth, but I always feel that I am free," says Tami. But the artist is encouraged by strong responses to her work. "They don't just pass by it. Some say they get scared, and I like that. I think art is supposed to move people." 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through December 31. 2800 Post Oak Boulevard. For information, call 713-526-6461 or visit www.paradionline.com. Free. -- Eric A.T. Dieckman
Traders Village, the largest open-air market on the Gulf Coast, has become a Houston landmark. Just ask George Foreman, who included it in his upcoming Travel Channel show George Foreman's Houston, or the WB's Elimidate, which shot a segment there. With 800 dealers, marketing director Mike Baxter is not engaging in hyperbole when he says, "If you can't find it here, you didn't need it in the first place." This weekend the Village is hosting afternoon concerts by Austinite and Latin pop singer Carolina and the swinging Original River Road Boys that'll keep your toes tapping all the way to the holiday shopping finish line. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with performances noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 20, and Sunday, December 21. 7979 North Eldridge. For information, call 281-890-5500 or visit www.tradersvillage.com. Free; $2 parking. -- Lisa Simon