Friday, October 20, 2017

Flashback Friday: My High School Bedroom, circa 2002

Good morning!!

How's tricks? I'm back super fast to show you some little mementos from the life of yours truly, thanks to a recent scouring of the attic for things to list on Craigslist (note: it looks like a freakin' bric-a-brac store up there, but I'm working on it!). Stuck in a retro-unto-itself Kodak development folder in a shoebox in the attic, I found these snaps from my high school bedroom circa 2002. Having enjoyed recently stumbling across this tumblr account called Me at 13-ish for the pure, unadulterated nostalgia of what the world was like twenty five ish years ago, I thought it might be fun to bask in the warm glow of what my one-room-sanctuary looked like shortly after the millenium.

Check it out:

1) Over/next to my bed:


We moved from the house I lived in as a child (and currently live in now) to a house about six miles away in 1998, and somehow, I ended up with this corner bedroom. Maybe my folks had figured I had the most stuff out of the four of us (probably still true). As you can see, I took to decorating it with a precocious vigor for wall-coverage that remains with me to this day.

Things of note in picture one:

Do you remember how INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT your high school stereo was? This was a Sony I received for Christmas one year. I remember being psyched about the digital display, remote control, cd player, and dual cassette deck, but bummed it only played a single cd at a time-- the bigger wheels in my high school social circles had three (or, imagine, FIVE) disc changers.

My dad built the payphone-display for this apricot colored rotary dial phone-- why was the particularly important in my high school bedroom? This was the ACTUAL PHONE I used for daily calls. My folks didn't switch from pulse to touch tone because it was something like a dollar more a phone bill, and we had pulse (the old clickclickclickclick, click, clickclickclick sounding tones) until they literally no longer offered pulse. So, following the same rationale, why would we need punch button phones? Occasionally we had phones with buttons (including the memorable birthday I received THIS bad boy), but mostly I had a series of rotary dial phones in my room growing up, including an office model like this one that had heavy buttons for me to switch to lines the unit wasn't connected to, haha. One of my favorite numbers to dial in high school was my friend Xingxia's, one, because she's hilarious and we were always making plans to do something fun when I called her, and two, because her number, if I recall, was 400-0009....the zero is the furthest number on the dial, and the nine the next furthest, so you would dial four, and it would wind, and then the five zeros and the nine would wiiiiiind and wiiiind and wiiiiind.

The records were four of my favorites at the time-- Next Years Model by Elvis Costello, Walls and Bridges by John Lennon, Heroes by Bowie, and Hard Rain by Bob Dylan. My folks got the record frames at Restoration Hardware out in Green Hills back when the store and the concept was new-- I think they cost something ridiculous like $20 apiece or I would have lobbied for an entire wall of them. They had little metal fasteners to keep the backing in place that would *ping!* violently out of place if you put them in the wrong corners-- I was continually accidentally placing them in the wrong corners.

The pictures along the top are X-acto knifed pages from a book I found at a library book sale called The Album Cover Art of Soundtracks -- I need to buy another copy of it.

The two posters were from Tennessee Antique Mall on Wedgewood-- I'd won a drawing for a $50 gift certificate and bought like a TRUNK full of things, including these reprints from two very good classic movies. "More CHEESE, Mr Christian?" and "I'm ALIVE! Maggie the cat is ALIVE!" I wonder if these are still somewhere in my attic today.

2) Near the door/across from the bed:


Things of note in picture two:

My granddad on my dad's side made this barrister bookshelf I think for my dad, with a glass door insert, from a schematic drawn up by my great uncle, based on a sketch he made of a piece he saw in a book. Talented folks! I had these books arranged by subject matter-- the left is all literature, and the right is all movie/music biographies. Pretty much still the only two categories of books I have in the house, still-- I'd like to point out that the right category informed the left category, as a lot of these were purchased because I liked the movie version of the book or because I read that David Bowie or Jim Morrison was inspired by/had read these books. Rock n roll and movies, in my case, were gateway drugs to great literature. Almost all of these came from Book Attic in Rivergate and Great Escape in Madison (long before McKays became part of my life!). A list of the books I remember/can make out by the covers:
Literature: John Rechy City of Night, Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Anthony Burgess Clockwork Orange, Kazuo Ishiguro The Remains of the Day, William S Burroughs Last Words and Interzone, Dashiell Hammett The Maltese Falcon, Shirley Jackson Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Robert Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land, Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Henry Fielding Tom Jones, Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird, W Somerset Maugham The Moon and Sixpence, The Razor's Edge, William Goldman The Princess Bride, Beau Sia A Night in Shining Armor II: The Revenge, Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse Five, Richard Matheson Somewhere in Time, Bertolt Brecht Three Plays, Isak Dinesen Seven Gothic Tales, J.M. Barrie Peter Pan, Walter Tevis The Man Who Fell to Earth, Ray Bradbury I Sing The Body Electric, October Country, Martian Chronicles, Thomas Mann Death in Venice, The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton, Thomas Hardy The Return of the Native, Jude the Obscure, Far From the Madding Crowd, Daphne du Maurier Rebecca, Isaac Asimov I, Robot Cholderos de Laclos Les Liasions Dangereuses, Tom Wolfe Bonfire of the Vanities, Diary of Anne Frank, Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina, Thomas Harris Silence of the Lambs
 Biography: Albert Goldman The Lives of John Lennon, Philip Norman Sympathy for the Devil, Jerry Hopkins No One Here Gets Out Alive, Joan Baez poems, Anne Edwards Vivien Leigh, Lauren Bacall By Myself, Lana Turner Lana, John Lennon Remembers, The Playboy Interviews: John and Yoko, Pamela Kennealy Morrison Strange Days, Peter Brown The Love You Make:An Insider's Story of the Beatles, Frank Zappa The Real Frank Zappa Book, Jerry Hopkins Stardust: The David Bowie Story, Angela Bowie Backstage Passes: My Life With David Bowie, Gloria Swanson Swanson on Swanson, Pamela Bosworth Montgomery Clift, Philip Norman Shout! The Beatles in Their Time, John Green Dakota Days, John Kobler Damned in Paradise: The Life of John Barrymore, John Barrymore Confessions of an Actor, John Lennon Skywriting by Word of Mouth, Lou Reed Between Thought and Expression: Selected Lyrics, Victor Bokris Warhol, Bette Davis The Lonely Life and This and That, Henry Fonda Fonda: My Life, Gene Tierney Self Portrait, Mary Pickford Sunshine and Shadow,  Gable, Valentino, Lillian Hellman An Unfinished Woman,
Note the Maxell 90 min mix tapes in front of the books-- I had SO MANY MIX CASSETTES in this late period of tapes.

Above that, a set of 1930s cannisters I bought at an antique store on the square in Lebanon in like probably 8th grade (I still don't know why I wanted them so much, but I remember they were $35 and it seemed like a FORTUNE to me at the time). The picture of Bette Davis in a standing frame has a mirror on the opposite side and came from the Goodletsville Antique Mall circa 2000. My sister made the ceramic face and the Aquarian Tarot were a gift from my parents from the Tennessee Antique Mall...I remember they were $20 and I was STUNNED that my folks had remembered i wanted them during a previous visit and gone back to get them-- they were great with presents but not so great with encouraging my interests in "old stuff". Note the square of records below (they skewed mostly Bowie/Beatles/Lou Reed at the time, but most were $4-$6 at the Madison Great Escape or Phonoluxe out on Nolensville Pk). Note the VHS of Backbeat (which I'd love to see again, but that cassette is long gone) and the large collage that took up an entire wall back behind the furniture. I spy with my little eye Tom Petty (RIP, I was ridiculously all the way into him after seeing him in concer in 2001 with Kelsey at Starwood [also RIP]), the Fleetwood Mac Rumours foldout from the album sleeve, Tom Waits, and Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

3) Across from my bed and the door, one corner of the room:



My dresser, completely crammed with tshirts, seventies' polyester dress shirts in the best garish patterns you could imagine, and Mudd flare jeans. On the dresser (my mom's, I think it's probably from the fifties' but she bought it when she and my dad set up housekeeping back in the 80s): a box with coasters in it that is currently on my coffeetable today, year of our Lord 2017...a figure of a Chinese boy holding a water jug that I think was a planter...a toy German Luger that was my dad's as a kid...a volume of the Time Life Old West book set, a bust of Beethoven, an early plastic baby doll from the 30's that was my grandma's and then my dad's, a wooden bird in a wooden bird cage, a container of blowing bubbles I think my first HS bf James Smith have me, a party decoration of a penguin with an Indian headdress added for flair, a terracotta frog from Old Time Pottery, an enamel milk jug with a pretty French seeming design on it, and a lamp shaped like a movie camera from back when there was a FANTASTIC thrift store across the street from Phonoluxe in the 00's (il n'existe plus). Note: I once dropped one of those dresser drawers on a copy of Scary Monsters on vinyl that I had opened, somehow not destroying the portable classroom record player my dad had scored for me from the school surplus warehouse, but creating a dent in it that rendered it unplayable on one side. :( I am the reason we can't have nice things. See the Man Who Fell to Earth promotional poster that came with a copy of the album I have-- I used to find so many amazing inserts and flyers and postcards and stickers in my albums. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly poster was NINETY NINE CENTS on clearance at Media Play, and I passed up a similar reprint of a Planet of the Apes poster to my eternal chagrin... I had seen every movie Clint Eastwood made up until this point due to an Eastwood kick and the oddly complete collection of his movies at Nashville Public Library on VHS. The "Someone Talked!" poster is a WWII poster I got on vacation to the Smithsonian in 1998. I still love the accusatory tone and the stark image. The John Lennon Imagine poster came with the record-- I wish I knew what I'd done with it. If you didn't notice the preponderance of Beatles/Lennon books on the bookshelf list, know that I had AN ABIDING PASSION for John Lennon circa 1996-1998-- to this day, I still could probably write a serviceable paper on his life and work from the dozens of books I read about my favorite Beatle at that time.

4) Closet, to the left of the dresser


Things of note in picture four:
Paul McCartney and Wings promotional poster from a record, David Bowie Space Oddity  poster from a record (I had like six copies of this album because they came with posters and back in the early 00's no one was collecting records and I think they were maybe four dollars apiece in great condition), Picasso Don Quixote sketch, and a Lemonheads poster. Confession: I never had the Lemonheads record, I just was obsessed with this photo of two gun toting kids walking down the road and eating a sandwich. This looks like an enormous closet but it was actually only normal sized-- the entire left hand side was taken up by part of the air conditioning unit. My dad built shelves around it and while there were another one billion paperbacks in this hidden storage, the only books I specifically remember being here were my collection of Stephen King paperbacks-- I'd read everything he'd written except The Dark Tower and Eyes of the Dragon by 8th grade (I still don't do fantasy). I ended up giving an entire paper grocery bag of these books to a girl named Emily Douglas in high school because she mentioned she was getting into Stephen King and I was trying to make room in my room for more books-- weirdly, I kind of miss having that complete a collection of books even though I hardly ever re-read things. I remember I kept all the short story collections (really my favorites of his, especially Skeleton Crew), Salem's Lot, and The Shining. Just in case. The clock above the closet is a replica of a Russian submarine clock my dad gave me for my birthday from Restoration Hardware. I feel like the 90s and 00s were better for realistic reproductions of vintage things people like us would like to collect. There's definitely a dearth of that out there now.

So ends this brief glimpse into my room! Here are two pictures of the girl who lived in it from around the same time period:



Two things I thought about looking at these photos-- one, isn't it weird that places you've lived in your life don't exist anymore? I mean, my parents still live in that house and the room itself exists, but that particular environment, which was SO important to me twenty years ago, just doesn't exist in its past form. I feel like I could easily draw an exact schematic of where I kept what and how everything was even WITHOUT the photos, so it seems strange that somewhere in the world that place has ceased to be a real place, and is only a memory. I think that must be how older people feel about the 1950's farm they grew up on or how downtown looked when you went shopping in 1970 or what their office job looked like in 1985. Not that it's a new feeling, it's just weird to get to an age where you're aware of that BEING A THING at all. Two, I wonder how different memories like that will be for Remy, as they'll probably have three dimensional graphic renderings of photographs or something similarly futuristic by the time he's old enough to be a teenager who wants to document the sacred sanctuary of his bedroom. He probably won't need a memory of his past because he'll be able to mindfeed back to the memory in artificial reality or something. It's interesting to think about!

Well, I have to get going, but let's talk! Do you have photos or vivid memories of your teenage bedroom? Have photos taken you back to a specific period in your life anytime lately? I'd love to hear from you.

Have a great weekend, be back soon! Til then.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Four Vincent Price Halloween Records (1967-1978)

Good morning!

Betcha thought you wouldn't see me again what with an extremely active eight month old asserting his dominance over my previously placid personal life, but no! I carved out a moment or two here to say that I'm still living and loving being the little guy's ma, and that I am still conspicuously consuming and thinking critically about my little weirdo stuff I like. I was poking around on YouTube the other day for vintage Halloween records and just had to drop you all a line about some Vincent Price records previously-unknown-to-me.

That ascot, though (have you seen this incredibly adorable episode of the Muppet Show with VP as guest star?)
You might remember from way, WAY back in 2011, when my household celebrated the Vincentennial, that Vincent Price pretty-much-anything goes over in a big way in my book...memorabilia of whatever stripe is always welcome to make a home in my home. An old board game of Hangman with his face on the cover? Lemme ha' that. A memoir written by his daughter Victoria about growing up Princess Price? I'll take two. A few years ago, my mother in law had a box of records sitting in her front room under the piano and I noticed ol' VP's long face peeking out of one milk crate. "Is that a record by Vincent Price?" said I. "Oh, sure. I think that was something we got for free from one of the record companies. You may have it if you want it,"  said she. Oh, I did. And that was the first of four albums I've found of Vincent Price reading weird, weirder, and weirdest scary stories for eager creepy-loving listeners such as yours truly. Since I never can keep a good thing to myself, and considering 'tis the season for scariness, I thought I would share the self same with you all!

If you please:

1) Witchcraft - Magic - An Adventure In Demonology (1969) LISTEN HERE


This was the record I mentioned that my MIL gave me. And it's a trip! This double album (an hour and forty five minute run time!) journey into the occult starts with the three weird sisters speech from Macbeth before VP himself welcomes us "to the world of witchcraft"! Me: Oh good, yes please. The ghoul girls return to punctuate each anecdote, narrated by Price, of magic and mayhem. The content here is more nonfiction, In Search of... style factoids than what I was expecting ( e.g. I was expecting readings of scary short stories, which solely comprises the content of the other three albums). But that's not at all a bad thing! Hitler and Churchill's respective involvements with astrology and parapsychological pursuits within the context of WWII? Why not, man. Instructions on how to cast spells with hexagrams? You have my attention. I had to skip through some of "Witch Tortures" because I am very delicate and sensitive postpartum (who would have thought a girl who used to set Matthew's lockscreen to Victorian postmortem snaps as a gag would finally grow uncallous to overly detailed gore?), and some of this is a little snoozy, but I had a nice thought thinking about some kids  listening to this album at some 1969 sleepover by candlelight and getting spooked out of their socks. Plus now I have to try all these witchcraft instructions and see if I can't get a horror movie named after me for my trouble (here's hoping!).

2) Tales Of Witches, Ghosts And Goblins (1972) LISTEN HERE


The problem with this album is that it starts out so strong and then kind of lists along and then hits it one more time before the end of the B side. I'd give it an A+ just based on two tracks, though: "The Smoker" and "A Pair of Gloves". The first is adapted from a Iroquois legend, but I'm almost spoiling it for you by telling you that-- I really liked that I saw Vincent Price's name and this fantastic psychedelic cover, clicked "play", and was plunged headlong into a strange, strange little story about a guy who essentially befriends a skeleton, with NO MENTION of the Native American background of the tale. If you think of it as just an unaffiliated-to-a-certain-culture story, it has a healthy dose of main-line magical realism, and if that isn't just right up my alley. I won't spoil it for you, but again, it's the best story on the record excepting "A Pair of Gloves". THAT story involves a woman who as a child saw a vision of a man in a pair of antique gloves appear in her bedroom at night-- the last line of it made me a) almost gasp with delight and b) start the track over again because I needed to think about the whole story again. Simply fabulous. Alan Garner and Carl Carmer, respectively, are listed as the authors of these stories, and I'm going to have to poke around a little to find out if there are other bizarre stories like this in their curriculum vitae-- there are some young adult books written by the latter from the 1960s on Open Library, but I need to do more digging to see if it's 100 proof.


3) A Hornbook for Witches (1976) LISTEN HERE



Yet another record that would be perfect for your 1970's middle school sleepover, this album combines readings of gothic literature with folklore approaches to summoning demons, etc. Much the same material as the previous album, but I very much like Vincent Price's handling of the verse in classic poems like Carroll's "The Jabberwocky" and the Leah Bodine Drake poem featured in the title track. I love the entire set up of the cover, from reminding you that these stories and poems would be best suited towards your seasonal use at Halloween, and describing the reader as "Warlock: Vincent Price". Side note: It's always been cute to me how many DIFFERENT commercial enterprises and endorsements Price took in his mid to late career, these records only being one arm of a far reaching second source of livelihood as a spokesperson. From the aforementioned board game to the Vincent Price International Cooking Course to "shrunken head apple sculpture kit" (I'm quite serious) to ads for monster vitamins, raisins, and the American Dairy Associations, he was a ubiquitous public spokesperson back in the seventies' and eighties', but never I think to his full detriment. Lots of other celebrities in ads come off as desperate, but I like how much ye olde Price just seems "game" and slightly impish in his irreverently popping up wherever they'd have him, somehow elegant and goofy at the same time. But I digress. One more record!

4) A Graveyard of Ghost Tales (1974) LISTEN HERE


Another INCREDIBLE album cover (skeletons rowing a Katharine Ross figure in a boat as she plays a harp, an image that reappears in the third track of the A-side)-- this record is mostly "true" folk tales, including the first track, "Lavender", which retells the story of a gal ghoul called "Resurrection Mary" in many of its versions. I remember the name because of the memorable Unsolved Mysteries segment of the same name-- a female hitchhiker is picked up in an evening dress on the side of the road by a bunch of carousing collegiates, attends a dance with the boys, and is dropped off at home while still in possession of one of of the sheik's overcoats. Chivalry only going so far, the boys go to retrieve the coat at the girl's house the next day and... well, if you haven't heard it, I won't spoil it, but something about the simple eerieness of the story really appeals to me.

And if you like these, be sure to check out Vincent Price's 1970'S BBC radio drama, Price of Fear, which could have its own entire blog post if time permitted... you can listen to a playlist of them here.

The many faces of VP.


So! What are your ghoulish plans for this month (other than watching my suggested VP videos, natch)? Do you have your costume planned out yet? Spill that tea!

Hope you've been having a wonderful fall so far, and I'll be back before you know it with more vintage eyecandy. Be good! See ya soon! :)

Friday, April 14, 2017

My Pretty Baby Cried She Was a...Mom? (Birth Story, Vintage Baby Boy Greeting Cards)

Good morning!!

Don't worry, I haven't fled the internet yet-- I've just been busy the past several months as Matthew and I welcomed a brand new baby boy into the world...!! Our son, Remy, was born in late January, and I've been trying to get my wig back on straight ever since. 

Vintage Baby Greeting Card Boy Blue Background
While I promise She Was a Bird is in no danger of becoming a mommy blog (no shade on mommy blogs, I'd just much rather write about vintage typewriters and 1940's decorating than how little sleep I'm getting or what laundry detergent we use on Small Fry's duds [answer: not any and Dreft, respectively]), I hope those readers of you still out there will indulge me in a little rambling on the life altering event itself for posterity. I've been meaning to get to my many woefully blank journals I'd stockpiled for "all that spare time I would have on maternity leave" (ah HAHAHAHA, mister, you're funny), and then remembered there was a perfectly good blog sitting around idle where I could spitball to my heart's content and maybe even be able to reference back to it at some later date. Unlike my long-lost-in-the-attic college jottings or that cache of circa 2007 photos that are in SOME envelope SOMEwhere in this house, I've always been able to find and share words and images I've squirreled away on this blog-- which is my second favorite thing about it (after, of course, hearing from you all from time to time with tantalizing stories of vintage days gone by). So! Get ready for a personal post, or, stick around but wait until next week when I return to our regularly scheduled retro ranting. ;)

Vintage Birth Announcement Card 
Where to even start?

Matthew and I had been together a total of seven years, married two, when we decided to start trying to get pregnant after we got back from our second trip to Paris. There was no way I was missing out on every kind of French food and wine in the world during aforementioned trip, so I kind of marked late July as the "that's when we'll get 'for real' about this family planning stuff'. You'd think from those pamphlets they pass out in high school wellness that it takes BUT ONE TIME, slightly off your guard, even THINKING about the act of conception (or not thinking! Either one!) that you would instantaneously get pregnant, but maybe at thirty, or maybe when you're as massively stressed a person as I feel like I must be at all times, it doesn't necessarily work that way. We got serious about those ovulation tester things after about six months with no child in sight, and around the second month of trying and failing with those "blinky smiley face...ok, no today it's a solid smiley face!!" digital pee sticks, I started legit hating to check my Facebook feed and see another tiny, bald-headed miracle arrive in some else's life. Wasn't this supposed to just happen?? 

Nine whole months into the ordeal, I was out with my mom at an estate sale in Madison, sorting through some sheet music in the basement, when I spied a vintage, early 1980's PacMan cocktail table out of the corner of my eye. This is not a drill, folks, this was the real deal, and for some reason, it was sitting all on its lonesome in the corner of this cinderblocked basement next to a mansized pile of silk outdoor flowers. The model was the kind you'd see at Pizza Hut back in the self same decade (in fact, this one came out of the one on Dickerson Road we used to go to when I was a kid)-- it was on, it was working perfectly, and it was marked $100. Having spent the princely sum of fifty cents all day on some Ann Landers advice guides, I thought I was getting out easy that weekend, but no dice. The owner's son was a middle aged, stringy guy who looked a lot like Tom Skerritt (bristle mustache and all) and after I'd paid him, I took off my 1990s Hopi Indian symbols blazer and, in my uniform of  black dress loafers, black tights, and black dress, and tried in tandem with him to manhandle this monster out the back door and into my mom's Honda Accord...to no avail. We tried it backwards, upside down, sideways...and finally discussed coming back in my dad's truck later in the day before they closed to pick it up. 

When my mom dropped me back at the house, I promptly burst into an uncharacteristic gale of tears... what if turning it upside down had dislodged something in the Pac Man machine and it didn't work anymore? What if we'd scratched up the surface trying to get it into the car? What if the model was some lame version I didn't know about and was a waste of money? What if Matthew gets home and he thinks he has this great cocktail table, and my dad broke it when he loaded it into his truck? Then my hundred dollars was gone, was it dumb to spend $100 on it? Should I have dickered more? What if it wasn't even worth a hundred dollars? And then we're stuck with it! And then it's broken! I called Matthew in Clarksville (his office at his last job was moving to another building, and everyone was pulling overtime that Saturday) and, through my weeping, managed to get the flurry of ideas menacing me across to him. He was a little taken aback, said to calm down and wait until he got home, and he would see what was going on with everything. I proceeded to stomp around the house a little, tears still streaming down my face-- and then thought, hey, you know what, I'm going to take that second pregnancy test from the box. You know, the one I had disconsolately shoved back into the box after its mate read yet another single, not-pregnant line on the Wednesday of the same week? 

And weeeeeelll....bust. My. BUTTONS. After the cursory waiting period, there was a a solid blue cross on the stick.

I texted Matthew a picture of the stick with the words, "Sooooo....?"

Vintage New Baby Greeting Card
For the next nine months, we anxiously followed the updates on the Ovia Pregnancy app I'd downloaded on my phone ("The baby's as big as a pineapple this week! Look at what his little hand would look like if he could touch the screen!!") and googled "pregnant can eat ok" coupled with every kind of food, drink, and medicine you can think of...I had no morning sickness whatsoever, got icked out by the smell of cooking meat, and craved pancakes and turkey sausage at all hours of the day. When we found out we were having a boy, I was a little thrown. But.....! But....! I had twenty girl names picked out, all ready to go, and no boy names! Who am I going to bequeath this closet full of sequined dresses and fur coats to some day? I got over it seconds after the initial gender panic set in, seeing that tiny hand on the ultrasound, looking like it was waving "hello" at us. As long as he was healthy and happy, I decided everything would be ok. I tested high on the initial glucose test that checks to see if you have gestational diabetes, so I had to go back to my doctor's office after a week of eating a strict, mandated diet of almost disgustingly rich foods (we're talking lumberjack breakfast, people-before-they-understood-what-calories-were lunch, and seriously-I-can't-eat-this-many-starches dinner)...and get my blood drawn four times in four hours. Lord have mercy. Turns out I didn't have gestational diabetes, so good deal! My mother-in-law bought me a fancy black and gold maternity dress at the Green Hills Mall Pea In the Pod location as a present that I took as "the official sponsored outfit of Lisa's pregnancy"-- if you saw me once in it, you pretty much saw me 100 x in it. Matthew surprised me by secretly finagling a visit from our friends Rob and Oznur-- I woke up the morning of my baby shower to the two of them sitting at my breakfast table, having flown all the way from the UK to attend the festivities! My mom threw the shower and all my girlfriends and friends of the family turned up to fete me in style. I had a brief scare when the brand of the hummus I'd insisted on having as a healthy alternative to whatever homemade dip my mom was going to make got recalled for listeria...oh, just one of the worst things you can catch if you're pregnant and in your third trimester. Did I mention this year was also the summer of Zika, THE worst thing you can catch if you're pregnant? I spent a lot of 2016 literally jogging from my car to inside buildings and wearing long sleeves and leggings through the heat. But! Again, I made it through in one piece and only complained as much as I had to. 

 Vintage Greeting Card Baby Congrats King Boy
As the new year rolled in, my doctor told me that there was probably no way I was going to go all the way to my due date. I was measuring huge for my height due to extra fluid around the baby, which I continually had to talk myself down from a panic attack about... she also assured me that, after three ultrasounds to determine the height and weight of the baby-to-be, he was a large though healthy as could be baby and the only things I had to worry about were a) how big his head was in terms of delivery [both Matthew and I have enormous heads, soooo] and b) hoping I wasn't in a public place when my (considerable) water broke. The day after his due date was my weekly third trimester appointment, and we scheduled a possible induction for the Monday after, giving the little guy the weekend to show up. I dragged Matthew around three different Goodwills and an indoor flea market that Saturday-- all I wanted to do was lay in the bed and watch old episodes of Project Runway All Stars, but I knew walking was supposed to help the baby arrive. And also hot food-- I put myself through some TRIALS [Nashville hot chicken is not kidding when it calls itself hot chicken] before the Saturday night, two days after my due date, when I sent Matthew to go get Thai food from the Smiling Elephant on the other side of town.

I was watching a vintage episode of the newly posted Unsolved Mysteries on Amazon Prime, and looking through an East Nashville Buy and Sell Group on Facebook for treasures, when I felt something weird. I called Matthew and said, "I'm going to be super embarrassed if this turned out I've just peed myself or done some other kind of thing that happens to pregnant ladies I don't know about, but I'm pretty sure my water just broke?" Homeboy was in line at the Thai place like, "WHAT! REALLY? OMG!" I texted my mom, called my doctor's after hour line, and then took the latter's advice to go to the hospital, where, sure enough, we were checked in around 7 o'clock (sadly sans Thai food...I thought we'd have more time, Thai food!).

Vintage baby boy congratulations card 
An hour after I was admitted, the nurse put me on pitocin to induce contractions, and Jesus Christ Our Lord, did they ever do just that. I really hadn't been through very much pain other than just feeling uncomfortable from how huge I was towards the end in this pregnancy-- that all changed. There was a monitor behind me to measure how strong the contractions were, and I thought I was doing ok around 15...when one cranked up to an 80 something on the monitor, I asked for an epidural WITH THE QUICKNESS. The only time I was really upset through the whole delivery was the epidural-- after how hard the pitocin-induced labor contractions had been for the hour or so I'd been able to stand them without medicine, I just didn't have any strength left and cried and cried and cried as this poor woman tried to stick a needle in my freakin' spine. Low tide for yours truly. Immediately after, however, I felt four hundred percent better, just exhausted and starving (and unable to eat until after the delivery...woe was me). My water finally BROKE broke a little after the epidural, and it was like a scene in Grey's Anatomy where the nurses aren't trying to alarm you, but something medically crazy just happened. Not to be gross, but it sounded like someone had overturned an aquarium right there on the tile floor, just all of a sudden, and with one loud splash. The nurse, who was wonderful and I think had a South African accent, kept giddily saying "I'm sorry, I've just nehvah... NEH-VAH ... seen anything like that before." Once the epidural went in, the only thing that really hurt was the IV that for some reason they put in through a vein the back of my left hand-- it was at a near constant throbbing, but after the seismic contraction pains, I was like, "You know, this could be much, much worse".

Thirteen hours into labor, I still hadn't progressed like I was supposed to-- the baby wouldn't move down into my pelvis, probably still a little shell shocked from the swimming pool he'd called home for nine months being tout à coup emptied in one go. He kept wiggling around in my stomach, ducking in and out of the fetal heart rate monitor on the belly band, and causing an alarm to go off on one of the machines I was hooked to. Finally, after talking my poor mom's head off all through the night and none of us, she, me, or Matthew, having gotten more than twenty or so minutes of sleep, during yet another episode of Unsolved Mysteries on my phone, my doctor came in Sunday morning and said it might be a better option for me to go ahead and have the C section. I'd heard recovery times were better with natural births, so I'd been trying to avoid those two words ever since they'd been offered to me as a possibility instead of induction when we set up my just-in-case appointment. At this point though, I felt like the writing was on the wall and that was the way it was going to go-- I told Matthew, after some discussion, that I was ok with going with the C section delivery. He said he was going out to get a Coke-- really, he chased down my doctor in the hallway before she left for church services to say I was ready to go ahead and have this child be born now instead of waiting another three or four hours to see if he would come down on his own.

So we went into surgery! I was a little scared but the team was so sitcom-level-jovial and I was so out of it from food and sleep deprivation that it seemed to me everything was going to be all right. After no pain whatsoever during the delivery, the little guy made his debut-- shrieking a shriek I am now all too familiar with, lol, as the doctors and nurses sang "Happy Birthday" to him and he was weighed and checked out by the NICU nurses to make sure everything was jake from the waterpark ride he'd been on earlier. It was! And he was! Matthew handed him to me above the surgical field's drape and I started talking to him, the same as I had on all those commutes to Lavergne for work when I was a million years pregnant or those days in the house watching tv before he was born. He looked at me, squalling, and then slowly calmed down and laid his cheek on my chest. I have a video of it or I wouldn't believe it...but I think he recognized me!

And so little Remy, all eight pounds fifteen ounces of him, became a part of our lives.

Vintage baby boy congratulations card digital download
That was two and a half months ago, though it feels like at least ten years have passed since then.
It's extraordinary watching our little micronaut grow... just as you get used to one stage of his development, it feels like another one begins immediately. This apparently continues throughout their lives, lol. Considering we didn't even have a goldfish before (but remain extremely responsible people, ne'ertheless!), it's been quite the learning curve, but we've both eagerly anticipated and celebrated even the smallest little changes as he gets bigger and bigger. "He laughed! Did you see, did you see?!" "I think he's starting to try to crawl!!" As much work as it's been, having a kid has also been the most joyous period of my life-- it sounds hackneyed and overprecious, but they really do change everything. And JOY is the best word for it...I've never worked so hard at anything, but I've also never been so happy with anything. Having a partner who really feels the same way has been no surprise to me, knowing Matthew as I have over lo, these many years-- but I am thankful every day to have someone who has my back and truly cares about my feelings through this crazy process. It also doesn't hurt how cute he and Remy look together when they're making each other laugh. But I digress!

So, there you have it-- my birth story. Can you believe the old girl's a mama now? She can't! :)

its a he thanks to me vintage birth announcement mad men abstract adorable



How about you? What in the heck have you been up to in the almost year since I've dusted off the old blog? Any exciting life changes? Any couldn't-believe-it estate sale finds? I'd love to hear from you if you're still out there!

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With the dumpling in mid-February...he's much larger but just as cute now. :)

That's all for now, but I'll be back! There are so many crazy things I've been wanting to write about, and ain't this just the place for it. Stay tuned!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Stop the Presses for these Adrian Dresses (1940s Novelty Glamour at the Met)

Hi-ya, folks!!

When's the last time you saw a dress that made your heart skip a beat? I was minding my own business. prowling through the Met Museum's fashion textile collection (like you do), when I came across this knock-your-eye-out novelty print and about lost it. 

Behold:
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Where did you come from, you little piece of heaven right here on Earth? Where are you going so I can follow you there? This dress was a gift to the museum from Patricia Pastor, a former designer for Perry Ellis (!!), and Barry Friedman, an art dealer. When I traipsed over to the search bar and typed in their names, the Met yielded up fifty other charitable donations, including around 20 other Adrian designs! Somebody had an eye for the designer. What did I start doing but googling all the Adrian dresses I could get my hands on.

The artist at work

Adrian (real name Adrian Greenburg, b. 1903) wasn't unknown to me before I espied the dress of my dreams on the Met website-- he was the preferred costume designer for none other than The Bird's patron saint, Joan Crawford, in the 30's and 40's, at the height of her trendsetting starlet days. It was Adrian who dreamed up accentuating JC's wide, wide shoulders with yet wider shoulderpads, and created the eyepopping designs for 1932's Letty Lynton, including the famous dress from that film, for which a glamour-starved Depression era moviegoing audience lost its ever-loving mind. Department stores were flooded with knockoff "ruffle dresses" for quite a while after, as prom-goers and debutantes across the country struggled to fit the voluminous gown into their beaux's Studebakers. Oh, and the ruby slippers, a little piece of iconic costuming in a minor movie called The Wizard of Oz ? ALSO Adrian (he did all the wonderful and memorable clothes in that movie). He married winsome, petite Janet Gaynor (the wronged wife in Murnau's Sunrise) in 1939 and, two years later, quit MGM to run his own boutique. It was on the sales floor of this boutique that he suffered a heart attack in 1959, cutting short at 56 the life of one America's most inventive apparel designers.

What SHOULDER RUFFLES you have, my dear. The Letty Lynton dress.
I'd give my eyeteeth for a movie-quality pair of these in a 11...thanks...



I thought of Adrian through the lens of those Crawford designs and similarly sleek dresses he conjured up for other preternaturally beautiful screen stars, including Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. This "Adrian type" dress involves a lot of bias cut, slinky, femme fatale type designs that ran more refined than rococo-- what the shopgirl in your 1930's movie would wear after she was plucked from obscurity to be a rich man's mistress and society hostess. However! I was so surprised to see a number of whimsical and downright outré gowns in the Met's holdings, and more so to read that they were the backbone of his apparel collections. While a number of somber and sedate black frocks, always elegantly cut, always sharply executed, are present among the pieces (showcased in an exhibition in 2002 called "Adrian: American Glamour"), the real show stoppers are these crazy, GORGEOUS novelty print items.

Let's take a look, shall we?

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If you're an art nerd like me, you might have immediately been struck, in the closeup of this black, white, and pink print, by the similarity between this print and the work of Salvador Dali. I love the frisson of indignation I felt for a moment thinking the good surrealist had been ripped off by some 1940's admirer of far-out art. Turns out, there's a good reason for you thinking this print designer owes a debt to Dali-- as the design was created by DALI HIMSELF. Could you die? Note the linebacker shoulder pads, accentuating the tiny, tiny waist of this dress, and the drama of the single patch of darkness on the left shoulder across an otherwise white-background textile. What "oomph!" this dress had!

Looking at this and the rest of the dresses in the collection, only makes me wonder why so many women's 80's and early 90's shirts/dresses/jackets go for the wrong kind of silhouette with this padding. There's nothing particularly butch or even oversized about this dress, save that lovely, clothes-hanger shoulder line. Most times when I try on clothes from the shoulderpad revival era, they're so billowy and just "bulked up" in the shoulders that it feels like I'm wearing a padded bra cup on either shoulder-- and it has that oddly humped look, too! Le sigh. 



This next dress is called the "Roan Stallion" dress-- can you figure out why?

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I loooooove the starkness of the all-black background against the large scale of the horse. The columnar-shape of the dress and again that draped, feminine bodice with shoulderpads in a straight line... this is such a "dress as art" garment. Imagine walking into a crowded New York social event circa 1945 with just a chic chignon and a big gold cuff as accessories...my dream life is so active, you guys.

Continuing the equine theme:

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How gallant is the French chevalier on his mount? This is another of the Pastor/Fielding Met gifts. I wondering idly while pawing through these listings if they were the result of years of collecting or one lucky swipe-- I've definitely been in estate sale situations before where someone really liked a thing that it turns out YOU really like, and voilà. an instant collection is born. Imagine a closet in North Hollywood of some rich studio exec's wife who was just the bee's KNEES in 1945 and needed a wardrobe to match...all these dresses packed in tissue in boxes marked in a distinctive "A"...carefully put away the last time they were worn for the next time that became years and years later, and then finally not at all! I can't decide, as an incorrigible hoarder, whether it's better or worse for items like this to be in a museum-- while I appreciate them being protected for generations to come, isn't it a little sad they won't make a splash at any more ladies' luncheons or draw an audible gasp at a pre-theater cocktail party?


The pink and black motif here reminds me of Schiaparelli (shocking!) :
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I can't quite tell what this would look like off a mannequin and on a real human form-- it looks like there's a scalloped sort of edge in the back, and that the skirt's draping gathers into a kind of mushroom shape? Which is interesting with the little swag over the right shoulder... and, goody! This one came with an Adrian label for us to ooh and aw over. Go ahead, I don't mind:



This item looks a little worse for wear for fading or dinginess in the bodice, but it's still a humdinger-- a field of daisies overrun by lambs! Nice work if you can get it, lambs.

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I AM SO DISAPPOINTED ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF THIS DRESS. Look at what it obviously is-- a five foot swag printed with a Prussian uniformed officer...and yet we can't SEE the officer because of the way the item is hanging! I wonder if it was originally pressed in a way that you could get a better look at the main attraction of the dress, or if it looks better in person. Love the idea, hate that I can't see it better. How about that beautiful collar though? The draping and that red highlight is sick-en-ing.
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Lastly, if you have around thirteen grand lying around that you're not doing anything with you can snatch up an Adrian of your very own! Check out this "The Egg and I" print from 1st dibs. I don't usually go for barnyard, golf, or hunting themes (three of the very rare exceptions from my buy-everything-and-conquer approach to vintage collecting, haha), but this is a very definite exception I would make. The colors!! 

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Hope I'll be seeing you in some forgotten trunk at an estate sale or flea market some day, Adrian dresses! You are deeply loved by me!

What do you think? Which dress is your favorite? Are you a novelty print wearer or do you keep your clothes sedate? Seen any designer dresses that have knocked your eye out lately? Let's talk!!

I gotta get going, but have a WONDERFUL weekend and we'll talk again soon! Til then. :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Where Does Love Go (1965) : Charles Boyer Sings!

Good morning!!

Long time no see! How've ya been? I'm peeping back in from the BLAZING, SCORCHED EARTH of Nashville, Tennessee to update you with a celebrity oddity I ran across the other day. Yep, the kind of thing only you and I would enjoy.





Confession: I cancelled my Spotify premium subscription the other day in a bid to cut down on some of the superfluous digital services we seem to mindlessly become entwined with (it's so easy to do!). As much as I love commercial-free listening, I figured with all the things out there, there had to be somewhere else I could get my music (legally, semi-legally, whatever) for free. And, in my spendthrift haze, I had completely forgotten that Freegal, a service provided by my local library, totally allows unlimited music streaming from something like 10,000 music labels, including Universal Music Group (which has subsumed SO. MANY. OLD SCHOOL. LABELS). While the user interface is barest of bare bones, hey, it's free! And no commercials. And so....many....weird things.

Such as? A contender for the prize of "Weirdest Midcentury Spoken Wordish Singing Record by a Celebrity" (the mantle formerly held by Dirk Bogarde alone)... this compilation of Gallic import Charles Boyer speak-singing, in French has flipped my wig to where it is completely on backwards.

Let's talk!


It's funny, but as with a lot of classic Hollywood stars, you don't get the full picture of Charles Boyer's movie impact in a still photograph. His receding hair and average stature, coupled with even but unprepossessing features, are nothing to write home about at first glance-- and yet put him in a movie and you're sure to be swept away by his suave, continental bearing, his smoldering glances, and above all, his dreamily pronounced French accent. Also, ascots. Boy, all the ascots. A heady combination for old school romantic movie-lovers such as ourselves.

Born in the Pyrénées in 1899, Charles Boyer became famous in America for a line from the trailer of the Pépé le Moko remake, Algiers, that never even made it into the finished film. "Come with me to the Casbah", pronounced trippingly on Boyer's tongue, became the "Come wizz meee to de Cazzbaaah" of a million celebrity impressionists, as famous in its day as "I vant to be a-lone". The sonorous, deep quality of his voice, combined with the rakish French accent, is pretty much irresistible. The year before his catchphrase was born, he played in a romantic weepy that won my heart, opposite Irene Dunne in Love Affair. That film would later be remade as the four-handkerchief classic An Affair to Remember... and if you'd have told me, pre-screening, that the person in the photograph on the left would give Cary Grant of all people a run for his money in a romantic who-played-it-best, I would have been skeptical to say the least. However! Boyer carries with him an urgency verging on pathos in most of his good scenes-- while he may start a movie haughty and remote, arch and distant, it seems as if there's always some turning point along the course of the filmplay where the music swells and you realize he's been torturing himself trying to suppress his love for you  his onscreen lady love for the better part of the movie. AND THAT, my friends, is what makes a truly indelible heartthrob in the Mr. Darcy mold. I've seen plenty of movies that were just "eh" (see: The Garden of Allah, in spite of its jawdropping Technicolor gorgeousness) in hopes of capturing one of those true heart-string tugging moments that the best of his movies include (see: All This and Heaven, Too). 

Which brings us to why I would be psyched to see his name next to a record in the Freegal holdings!

Initially, I was like "Whoa, TWO records of...wait, these are the exact same songs." Waaah. 

Is this record perfect? No, it is not. Is it totally fun? Yes it is. Is it weirdly more listenable than the Dirk Bogarde record (which, itself, has kind of grown on me)? Indeed! INDEED IT IS. My favorite part, bless my little beating francophone coeur, is that Boyer slips into French in half the songs-- "Autumn Leaves" and "La Vie Rose" both feature passages of the original French lyrics, a real treat for French speakers. I love the series of ideas that sprung to mind as I listened and sighed a swoony sigh:

  1. Do old-time French actors have a specific accent that is dated by its age/time period, in the way that 1940's actors (Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, etc) have a very specific way of talking even outside of their individual idiosyncracies? People in 1940's movies, stylized or not, have a very identifiable way of speaking specific to that era, which made me wonder: if a native French speaker listened to Boyer speaking in French, would they get a sense of old-fashionedness from his in-French accent that misses us for not being born francophones?
  2. Imagine going back to some dude's apartment in 1965, and he puts THIS on the hi-fi as a "mood setter"/possible makeout music? I think that's technically the intended audience for this and the Bogarde record, as a swoony-romance-y dim-the-lights music, but I would have fallen into a fit of giggles at the preposterous nature of the whole endeavor I'm pretty sure from Minute One. "Bolero" is obvious enough, but a record of a French actor speaking his way through love songs would just advertise subtlety as NOT being one of your strong suits, sixties' Mad Men era would be lothario.
  3. Also, think of Charles Boyer himself giving a "I'm game" go-ahead for this album, though professing to possessing no great vocal ability. Record company: "Charles, we're going to bring you in here to do a record." Charles Boyer: "And whhhy nawt?" with an insouciant toss of his diminutive shoulders. Go on, get your life, Charles Boyer.
Give it a listen yourself, and see what you think-- you can catch a lot of these songs on Youtube or Spotify or even Freegal, if your library subscribes.

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And if you won't take my word it being good, did you know that no less a shining star than Our Elvis Presley who art in Heaven expressed a deep love of this record around the time of his Las Vegas performances? Read for yourself:


Whaaaat. You heard it here first! Or possibly second, if you've read those two Elvis books I just grabbed pull quotes from (the latter of which, Peter Guralnick's epic two-volume bio, is essential reading). My favorite part of that passage is that no one else liked the record because of its melancholy nature-- I guess there is a kind of sad undertone to the music, but that's about the only way I like it-- dramatic, romantic, BIG!



Anyway, it's good to get a chance to check in! I've definitely missed writing and interacting over here, and as always, hope to make good my promise to return to a more regular blogging schedule as time permits. In the in-between-time, I hope you're finding lots of great stuff out at the sales and enjoying the summer months as best you can for all this oppressive heat! Stay cool, and see you again soon! Til then. :)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Monkey Fur Success (Coat of My Dreams)

Salutations, friends! How's tricks? Not much new here in this life of Riley except for one startling development of a few weeks ago. Would you believe....COULD YOU believe...that I finally have a monkey fur coat of my very own??

Let's just cut straight to the goods here, there's no time to spare!



Just as I'd put my oversized foot down about buying more fur coats (and actually passed up a mink or two under $50...who even AM I any more?), an amazing vintage-buying opportunity popped up out of the blue to pick up this 1940's monkey fur coat. Was the coat in question extraordinarily beautiful? Yes, ma'am. Were the terms of the sale extraordinarily, pinch-me-I'm-dreaming reasonable? Oh hayyyull yes they were. And the seller was super nice/prompt, to boot. You'd better believe I jumped on it quicker than you could say Jack Robinson, and now, I have the Marlene Dietrich jacket of my dreams I first mentioned here almost exactly two years ago (how the time does fly!). My only problem at present is trying to finagle an invitation to somewhere swank enough to show this sucker off (though...at this point, I'm pretty sure I would take any opportunity to give these guy a whirl...as I become the most glamorous girl the Gallatin Road Sonic has ever seen).

Check it out:


I love the white-on-black, Cruella de Ville ness of the color, and the pelt is so much like human hair it's almost creepy. How it hangs! Look at those boxy shoulders! Chic, chic.


If you don't remember from the previous post, monkey fur coats had a few separate rise and falls in popularity, ranging from the Victorian era, to the 1920's, to the 1940's...just about every twenty years there seemed to be a resurgence in interest in the weird, wild texture until colobus monkeys became endangered towards the end of the forties' and a halt was put to their use in fine furs. Today, glad to hear, the little guys are doing fine, but the scarcity of the coats make them super rare. Not to say that they're not still a buzzing about! I saw an all black variety on Cookie Lyons in an episode of Empire the other day and decided my life's work was done...to




Some monkey fur coat news articles collected from Google News Archives for your perusal:




1960
1940 (l), 1933

1922
1915
1927
1922

And just for good measure, these gorgeous gals... I want that HAT, Lord, I want that hat.



Sorry for the brief update, but I'm telling you, my time is not my own these days!

What do you think? Have you scored any bucket list items off your must-have vintage dream collection? What's the best offer you've ever gotten as a result of a random blog post/friend of a friend/happenstance? Let's chat!!

I've got to run, but have a fantastic Tuesday, and we'll be talking again before long! :)

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