Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Dress So Nice I May Wear It Twice (Vintage Bob Mackie sequin dress)

Good morning!

I told you the other day that I found some great stuff at the flea market weekend before Christmas, and here's my new favorite piece of clothing, oh, IN THE WORLD:

Ta-dah! Folks, feast your eyes on a sumptuous piece of sequined heaven in the form of this almost-didn't-fit Bob Mackie dress! My dad and I were walking through the antiques building when I was blindsided by this dress hanging on the end of a rack marked 50% off. As I ran my fingers over the beadwork and ooh'd a little bit at the label--you mean Cher's Bob Mackie!-- the my-age vintage reseller running the booth offered helpfully that I could try on the dress in the ladies' room if I so desired. Did I! After a harrowing experience in the sports arena restroom, which was....well, what you would expect from a fifty year old cinderblock restroom, plus the mirror had a weird distortion effect where you momentarily expect to be in some Silent Hill/ Jacob's Ladder horror world, I emerged with the glad news that it fit, it fit! The dress was marked $55, half of which would have been $27.50, but she gave it to me for $20. Score!

The dress features row upon row of tiny seed beads, out and out sequins, gold braid-- almost every inch of the bodice part of the garment is embellished. Anything you see that isn't gold is black satin. While the skirt is shorter (and weirder! It has a minor "poof"/ almost bustle effect to the back that baffles the wearer) that I would necessarily like it to be, it looked yet weirder with an additional skirt under it. I was just careful to bend at the knee, not at the waist, for the duration of the wear. Another strange thing about the construction, it's cut Joan-Collins-neckline-low in the front. Accordingly, I added this little neckerchief to give it a little oomph while also distracting from the lack of cleavage I have to offer the world. Who would be looking at your neckline when this whole dress is like a neon light, anyway? Sequined garments like this tend to remind me more of thirties' musicals/Busby Berkley type productions than late eighties'/early nineties' septuagenarian evening wear, which has gotten me into trouble in the past for the sheer number of dresses/separates in eyeblinding combinations that I have in my closet. This dress, though, I think looks surprisingly young. I wore it to the McClarnon's Christmas party with this hat, the tie, and knee high boots, going for a kind of Russian--Faberge-egg-meets-the-Rockettes look as "Christmas/New Years" attire was requested. It was a hit! (And I obviously love the pre-party pictures I took, as I'm bombarding you with them in this post) And we had a whale of a time at the party. Success!

Detail of the dress (what did I tell you about all the sequins and beads?!):

The turban hat is from the Robinson Flea Market in Madison...there's one guy in the back there, who I think may be sadly clearing out as his booth was low-stocked the other day, that always has at least one thing I need to buy, be it an Enid Collins knock off or a George Jones record. I had to go ask the guy at the front for the key to try on this hat, which I ne-e-e-e-ver do at your average antique store-- it puts such an onus on you to examine the item "under the gun", as the dealer stands there and waits for you to make your decision. "I'm gonna be embarrassed when I try this on and it doesn't fit my huge head," I said to him, and, as I did, while maybe it doesn't fit exactly as it would fit a smaller-skulled individual, it was really not half bad. "You know, that actually looks pretty cute on you. It's different, but you could pull it off!" said the manager, as I checked my angles to make sure I didn't look like a Conehead in a nearby mirror. Wanna know a secret about the hat? It has a famous label to boot!

"It's Diooooor, dahling," I want to crow when I wear this as if I were Eddie from AbFab. Ok, technically it's from Christian Dior's department store label from the fifties' and sixties' (thus making it different from the label "Christian Dior Chapeaux Paris", which would make the hat from the actual atelier). I added a large brooch I've had in my jewelry box forever to tie the look together. The shape of the hat is interesting, it kind of reminds me of the bearskin hats on the guards at Buckingham Palace. Do you you see the three little swoops/folds on the left there? I just pinned the brooch to the spot where the three folds connected.

Last but not least, as I outsourced the taking of the detail-photos to Matthew this morning (he has the day off work, I'm stuck in the office), I checked my email while writing this post to find 1) the closeup photo of the dress on the couch, 2) the closeup photo of the Miss Dior label, 3) the photo of the hat on the table as you see above and 4) this picture:

You bettah work, Bab! I can't lie, I cracked up; it kind of made my morning. Thanks for the free labor! "You look mahvelous!", as Billy Crystal would say.

So! Have any crazy go nuts plans for tonight? We're going out to dinner with friends and then drinking from the ad hoc mimosa bar I'm setting up in our living room (Mad Donna's different-flavored-mimosas have changed my life, so we have pomegranate, grapefruit, and orange juice on hand for cocktails). Are you staying in/ going out/ throwing in the towel at 9/ staying up to see the ball drop? Let's talk! It can be your last comment on She Was a Bird of 2013! :)

Have fun tonight, stay safe, and I will see you guys tomorrow IN THE NEW YEAR. Yay! Til then.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Shopping Dorothea's Closet (Dorothea's Closet Vintage, Online)

Good morning!

Another Monday, Monday...((cue chorus of Mamas and the Papas hit)). How was your weekend? I had a ball seeing friends on Thursday and Saturday and am now looking forward to a segmented week, with a half hour early quittin' time tomorrow and no work at all Wednesday! I have some neat vintage clothes finds to show you all later this week, but  I was very bad with my time off and forgot to take any pictures!

In the absence of a photo from this weekend's activities, here's one my friend Frankie took of our ladies' brunch on the 15th at Mad Donna's (pictured, Lana and Alex). Frankie really has a great eye for pictures!
(ps that's a hat, my head is not growing leaves)
Instead, today I'd like to show you some vintage duds I wish I'd acquired in my lifetime. Friday, having the day off, I spent a lot of time wearing a hostess gown towards its intended purpose-- decorative lounging-- and learning how to use different features on my surface. I watched about a season's worth of Key and Peele (which is getting to be my very favorite show) and used the tablet like a magazine-version of the internet, idly flipping through page after page of vintage online shops for dresspiration. Oooh, child, when I found Dorothea's Closet's online presence! I was there entirely too long, jaw dropped over items that I just had to have. EVERYTHING was something I just had to have! To display just how amazing this shop is, I put together some vintage outfits as I would wear them out on the town. Profitez, mes amis:

purse, hat, dress
There was a lot of interior monologue going on as I scrolled through purses, hats, and dresses. "OH. MY. GOD. STOP. THE. PRESSES." was a common sentiment to all three of the items from those categories in the ensemble I put together above. The hat reminds me of the kind of saucy surrealist stuff the divine Schiaparelli used to come up with for ladies of a certain daring in 1930's France...I love the idea of wearing a piece of art on your head as if it were completely commonplace. I have three or four outré hats in my collection that never fail to draw attention and comments when I wear them out, but none of them are this far left bank, and more's the pity for me! The dress is a spaghetti strapped piece with a two-tiered ruffle, and a MATCHING BOLERO CAPE I CAN'T STAND IT, it's too wonderful. This is the kind of romantic-yet-soberly-structured kind of silhouette that sends me for my smelling salts (or my charge card...deliver me from temptation, Lord). And the purse! How about those wine-stain purples bleeding into pinks on the velvet bunches of grapes, topped with a green bow? Just so lovely in a way that's unexpected. Want.

jacket, turban, purse
I don't think I've seen a color combination like the one in the jacket in this trio. Once again, the fitted lines of of it  make this piece more appealing to me than that sixties'-sack-coat-skirt-suit that Jackie Kennedy made so popular (and which looks pretty well nigh horrible on me, which gives me an obvious bias against them). I would like to put a black wool pencil belt from a forties' dress I have with this jacket and wear it with a fitted, knee length skirt and black riding boots to the knee (creature of habit, I'm wearing the second two thirds of that costume creation as I type). The velvet turban would match the velvet panels in the jacket, and the felted bag with its flower detail would make a nice item to dump out on my desk when I get to work/the restaurant/home and am fruitlessly searching for the lipstick I left on my dresser. Hey, if you're gonna be a scatterbrain like me, why not be a scatterbrain like me in style. The felted bag reminds me a lot of the neat handicrafts you'll see in those seventies' do-it-yourself-art books, but this one dates back to the forties'! Someone had to teach those seventies' kids how to felt!
dress, purse, hat

Oh, this dress. It's pretty enough with the ruched-bodice and the little sash at the wearer's left hip, but the huge, glittering buttons really put it right over the top. I like to think of a forties' woman going to a particularly chic department store in this kind of outfit-- do you ever do that yourself, dress up to go shopping? I feel like if I don't wear an outfit I really like while I'm trying on possible new clothes, I end up unable to correctly gauge whether or not I should buy the item. Because, heck, it looks better than what I'm wearing when I'm just wearing blah clothes! I have a purse and hat similar to the purse and hat in this grouping, and now I know what I want to wear them with. Where do you stand on floral hats? As you can see in the photo from the top of this post, I'm always trying to wear them and not sure what doesn't make me look like Carmen Miranda. Practice makes perfect, though! (as I randomly add a turban to my ensemble).

Speaking of turbans:

dress, turban, hat
I want. this. outfit. Just as I have demonstrated it. Bottle green iridescent hand painted Mexican dress (say that three times fast)? Turban made of jet black and emerald green feathers? Black Persian lamb mantle (I tried to call it a cape, the listing [correctly] corrected me)? A THOUSAND TIMES YES. I'm very interested right now in a kind of thirties' or forties' fashion editor look-- lots of chic but strange items tied together more by feel than by exact matchingness. I feel like I have so many items in my closet that I'm "waiting" to wear, for the right perfect ensemble to come together, when maybe loosing the strictures on "what goes with what" would allow me to wear prints-with-prints or fifties'-beaded-cardigan-with-twenties'-sack-dress, etc, etc. This would be a dream of an ensemble to wear out of a Friday! Now, if someone could just make dinner reservations and write me a check for about five hundred smackers....(watch me go home and try and DIY this out of my own wardrobe...unsurprisingly, I have the mantle for this! Remember?)

Last but not least, outfits that need no accessories, just a sharp dressed beau in a bow-tie to complete "the look":
left, center, right
The first reminds me so much of something Billie Burke's character would have worn in Dinner at Eight, the second is exactly what I would wear every day of my wonderful life if I were built like Joan from Mad Men, the third is just too unusual and eyecatching to pass up-- I don't know if I've seen an illusion dress exactly like this! Looks so forties' girl singer, with a camellia in the lady's victory-rolled hair and an old fashioned microphone and stand in front of a big band. These clothes look like a story in which I would like to play the lead!

Well, it's noon, I gotta go round up some lunch-- what about you? Which dress would you wear? Have you shopped Dorothea's Closet before (believe me, I might be about to in some of these cases)? What do you find yourself drawn to, wardrobe wise, lately? Know anywhere good to eat in downtown Nashville? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll see you tomorrow with (hopefully!) some new pictures! Can't make any promises in this wackadoodle schedule I've been running, but I can try. Have a great Monday! See you then.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Photo Friday: And a Happy New Year (1963-1964)

Hello again!

Have any exciting New Years plans? I think we're going to just try and take it easy in our old age, but if we weren't, I would hope we would have a New Years like some of these people. Examine, please, at your leisure, these photos from NYE 1963 and 1964, and tell me people didn't have more fun back then.





Sorry to have such a short post, but I'm feeling a little under the weather! I plan to recuperate with Mandy Patinkin on my Surface and lots of diet-sprite-and-ice. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday with bells on! Til then.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Loot

Good morning!

We lived! Christmas is over! Long live Christmas! Matthew and I spent most of yesterday after I posted about Ru watching the fourth season of Eastbound and Down, drinking palomas, and eating entirely too many servings of vegan mac 'n cheez. I have to admit that I'm a little bit worse for wear after our day long bacchanal, but dragged myself into work this morning in the bitter cold for the one more day I have to work this week. My weekend-off foruitously lined up with the holiday, so I'm out Fri-Sat-Sun after today! YES. I'm going to spend all day tomorrow sleeping in and playing with my new Christmas spoils. First off, we don't have a holiday photo from this year (because I'm lazy), but here's one from last year, taken by Chad McClarnon at his now annual holiday party:

Don't we look festive! I have a doozy of dress to wear to the McClarnon seasonal soirée this year, but it's not until this weekend (two words: Bob. Mackie). I am looking forward to Saturday!

So-- what did Santa leave you on Christmas morn? I'm not to the point in my adult life where I scorn the pleasure of being completely spoiled on December 25th with commercial goods. Here are some of the things Matthew got me for Christmas this year:

1) Bee Gees Lunchbox:

Not that I've been wanting one of these since seventh grade, but I have been totally wanting one of these since seventh grade. There was an article in a local "indie" publication called SMACK, circa 1997, about all the amazing things you could find at thrift stores, and in one of the photo insets, was this lunchbox. Just sitting on a shelf at the Salvation Army. For all I know, the photographer brought his late seventies' lunchbox into the store and planted it as a "ringer" retro good, but nevertheless, I have ever since spent at least a fraction of every Metro Nashville thrift store visit secretly hoping I'd find one. Matthew scooped this one up for me from Ebay! I reiterate: I am so spoiled. After seeing honest-to-God Barry Gibb appearing on The Barry Gibb Talk Show sketch on that Fallon-hosted episode of Saturday Night Live (!!), we have been playing "Nights on Broadway" nonstop in the house for like a week. "I had to folllllow you....though you did not waaaant me to....but that won't stop my loooooovin' you..." has been blasting on Spotify an almost embarrassing majority of the time I've been off work this week. Viva los Bee Gees! I am exicted to start taking my lunch to work in this, most impractical of vintage lunch containers. Don't be jealous!

2) Czech dangle mummy earrings

I may or may not have left a link to an ebay auction in a Facebook message to Matthew. I'm only sorry that I'm not sorry-- how freakin' cool are these?! Combining the curse of the pharaoh with the Theda-Bara-silent-movie-ishness of dangle earrings, I have not been so excited about earrings since he got me a pair of encased-in-lucite-crab-earrings (see here) one Valentine's day. They're not here yet as the auction didn't end in time for holiday shipping, but you'd better believe they will be featuring large in my accessory wardrobe from the moment the postman delivers them until well into the new year. Expect a lot of dramatic head-tosses to draw attention to my ear adornment. Yay!

3) A Surface RT!!

I kind of feel like someone's grandma who was gifted an unbelievably au courant gift for Christmas. Matthew and his dad and April threw in on this laptop-meets-tablet device and I am still trying to figure out how to use it. Shouts of "Bibi, where is my email? What if I want to read a book? How do I close this tab?! How come I can't install Silverlight!" have been ringing through our home since dawn yesterday, but I have managed to watch Chicago Hope while cooking (score! Usually I would just have to blast the speakers on the computer in the den to have audio-accompaniment to my culinary endeavors!), read a 1929 issue of Photoplay, download some scary ebooks from the library, record myself singing along to a karaoke version of Cher's "Just Like Jesse James", and set the screen to a photo of Joan Crawford. Not bad, not bad. Matthew installed a PacMan app on it last night, but I haven't tried that yet. Hopefully, I will learn how to use this device before this time next year, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Alternately, I have to say, the things I was most excited about giving as gifts this year:

1) Transporter from Star Trek: Next Generation:

Yes, I dang did get this for my sister and her husband for Christmas. It was sitting on a shelf in the toy section of the Great Escape on Charlotte, with the price written on a yellow sticky note. Under the price? The capital letters, simple description: "IT WORKS!!". I didn't know exactly what "it works" meant in this context-- Matthew and I joked with the guy behind the counter that it should be way more expensive if it actually works, maybe we should call the Smithsonian, etc, etc-- but once Sus popped in the C batteries (isn't that a flashback? IT RUNS ON C BATTERIES), we were surprised and delighted to watch a stand-in pink Power Ranger figure disappear before our very eyes! Sus has a Picard figurine but I couldn't figure out how to get her to bring it without ruining the surprise, so a bendy doll of Kimberly stood in for an Enterprise crew member. Check out this video on Youtube to see the thing in action...I thought they would use some clunky "switch the chambers" thing to create the disappearance effect, but it's something to do with lights and mirrors, and it looks REALLY neat!

2) It's a Man's Man's watch...from Timex:

I got Matthew a pretty neat vintage early 80's gaming console for Christmas (which deserves its own post, another day) as his big present, but I was also excited to give him this retro-looking watch from Timex as another in our parade of holiday gifts. Doesn't it look like something Michael Douglas would wear in Wall Street? Because his store doesn't have a large, visible clock near his workspace, and he's not able to use his phone, my poor little guy often loses track of time at work, and I thought, "What could be more practical, old school, and manly, than a Timex digital watch?" It beeps on the hour, features an indiglo face, and draws stares from his coworkers. "Is it some kind of Pebble?" No, it's just a time piece! But a neat one, and next-to-the-console, probably the most well received gift I've ever given my now-husband.

There were more gifts given and received, but these are just some of the highlights. What a Christmas it was! I'm ready for tomorrow so I can get more time to tinker with my toys!

So! Did you make off like a bandit this Christmas? Give or receive any amazing gifts? Have any holiday traditions that bear recounting? 

That's all for today, but I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday! Happy day after Christmas! Talk to you then.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Specials Week: Day Three: Rupaul's Christmas Ball (1993)

Good morning!

Well, it's the big day! This post was delayed by presents-opening over at my folks' house with my sister and her husband, and me and MY husband...it's so weird all parties at Christmas morning being married! My coworker asked me before we left for the two-day holiday if I was excited about our first husband-and-wife holiday experience, and it's funny-- while I am happy to be a missus, it's not much different than our usual Christmas. Lots of hugs, lots of sweet, thoughtful gifts-- this is year five with us together, and I am excited about another fifty five on down the road! :)

Today's extra special Christmas content involves the third of our holiday specials on She Was a Bird, and possibly my favorite: 1993's Rupaul's Christmas Ball, produced for UK Channel 4. Watch along on Youtube via this link!

While I remember RuPaul's VH-1 television chat show from my youth, I have to admit that it wasn't until fairly recently, through the magic of Logo's RuPaul's Drag Race, that I came to understand the greatness that is RuPaul Charles. Introduced in the title cards of her Christmas special as "Supermodel of the World", in the past thirty years, Rupaul has built a branding empire as the fiercest 6'4'' drag performer standing. In a time when gay rights were still a back burner issue for a heteronormative America, Rupaul was bringing gay culture served straight up into our living rooms. While a lot of this looks completely normal to a 2013 audience, imagine how "other" seeing full fledged drag queens doing an act you wouldn't see outside of a gay bar on national television must have seemed in 1993 to a large majority of viewers. As a kid in the late nineties', I remember not quite understanding what was going on, seeing a glamorous, gorgeous, be-wigged Ru chatting with Olivia Newton John and Cher on her talk show...what's the big deal? Seeing it through the distance of twenty years, this kooky Christmas special seems not only entertaining, but brave! Chainsmoking, glue sniffing, drag queen elves on television? Why not!

This Christmas special is set up in a variety show type format with Laugh-In type sketches in between musical performances. Guests from the show include Boy George, La Toya Jackson, Elton John, Fred Schneider, Belinda Carlisle, Little Richard, En Vogue, and, if you'd believe it, Nirvana! It was so long ago that Kurt Cobain was still with us-- let that sink in for a second.

Ru shows up, all practically seven feet of her in heels and wig, in this thigh-high slit silver sequin gown and pink feather boa, hair done up like Neptune's triton, ready to get some Christmas on. Her opening monologue is sprinkled with RuPaul catchphrases like "You bettah WORK" and "Love yourself, because if you can't love yourself, howinthehellyougonnalovesomebodyelse, can I get an AMEN?" The Rosie Perez-like accent Ru takes on in between that lilting trademark laugh of hers is the only thing that dates the show to the early nineties'-- a lot of this persona is still intact (and still AWESOMELY statuesque and immaculately made up) as presented on Drag Race!

Here's Ru in full Suzanne Somers mode hawking her workout and weight loss programs, which, again, Drag Race fans will recognize as the "tic tac diet". "One tic tac for breakfast, one tic tac for lunch, and for dinner, a glass of water. No tic tac." I know anorexia isn't funny, but this sketch is, and spot on, too! I remember reading a celebrity fitness book by Victoria Principal in the midst of my Dallas mania which essentially suggested that you live off iceberg lettuce and grapefruit for four weeks if you wanted to reduce your waistline. Serious! Pammy, that is no way to take off the pounds.

Latoya Jackson makes an appearance as "RuPauline", RuPaul's "sister" from whom the successful drag queen apparently stole her entire act...this prompted me to look up a before and after photo of Latoya pre-cosmetic surgery...look at this before. Isn't that insane? Her face was perfectly fine before! Below, Ru gets to quote the famous "Why do you deliberately defy me?" line from Mommy Dearest amongst this nineties'-to-the-max trompe l'oeil stage set. Do you love it or do you LOVE it. Look how tiny Latoya looks compared to the Amazonian figure Ru cuts!

Ru as "Tiffany Alexander", cohost of a Home Shopping Network sketch where "Queen" Elizabeth is selling her crown jewels. One thing that I thought about while watching these little comedy pieces is that she would have been the ultimate contestant on Drag Race even from the beginning. Glamour, acting chops, poise, comedic timing, knowledge of the gay cultural canon...this girl has got it all! Total package. I love the idea of her on the show being like "Look, I'm not asking you to succeed at anything I myself wouldn't do. I just happen to be fiercely multi-talented."

Boy George drops by to do a reggae-fusion version of the Bread FM classic "Everything I Own"...why were these kinds of UB40-ish covers so popular in the early nineties'? I couldn't tell you. 

Nirvana's video message to RuPaul, complete with RuPaul cutout:

Drag Race watchers, remember the perfume challenge from last season? Here's Ru's entry, Whore. Something about how bald face that is makes me laugh every time I see it. I would usually be like "Oh, Ru, you're wrong for that," but something about this is so hilariously right:

Singing a club dance remix sounding nineties' song with VERY nineties', Nehru-jacket/John Lennon glasses Elton John:

The most glamorous American Gothic of them all:

And on, and on. The whole special is really a hoot-- I wanted to tell you more about it but I have GOT to get off the computer and back to the merrymaking! Watch it for yourself here!

Are you having a good Christmas? I'll have to tell you about all the presents and festivities this year next week, it deserves a post of its own! Are you a RuPaul fan? What did you think about the awesome nineties-ness of this special? Seen any blast-from-the-past Christmas  shows lately? Let's discuss!

A very happy holiday to you and yours! I'll talk to you tomorrow! Til then.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Holiday Specials: Day Two: Judy Garland Christmas Special (1963)

All right, peeps! Christmas is drawing nigh! Bundle up with your loved ones and serve yourself up a slice of the fruitcake that IS The Judy Garland Christmas Special, from year of our Lord 1963. I have to say, I equal parts enjoy and am confused by my beloved Judy's Christmas gift to the network. Watch along on Youtube via this link! I'll walk you through the fun parts:

First off, the show opens with Judy singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas", as we tv viewers peer through the front window of her "house". She gathers her young children close, lets loose that golden voice, and honestly, sounds as good singing as she ever did. Some of the phrasing is a little weird, but the irrepressible, ringing, soaring tone of it is lovely. The song ends, she comes "outside" and introduces us to her children, Joe and Lorna Luft (husband Sid Luft, architect of Judy's "Carnegie comeback" two years earlier, is inexplicably absent from the family affair...they would divorce in 1965). Liza is "off ice skating with her beau", Judy mentions, before remembering her manners and asking us all "inside" her "home". 

Keep in mind I haven't seen a lot of whole-episodes of The Judy Garland Show, but I have seen plenty of musical clips (yes, in my idle moments, I have been known to sit around the house like an aging gay man of a certain era-- wearing a kimono, creating playlist of old showtunes on Youtube, drinking chardonnay out of the bottle, etc, etc), so I'll have to judge this show solely on its stand-alone merit. And speaking of, man, is it weird, the insistence of breaking down the dramatic fourth wall in this episode! Judy, quit talking to me like I'm there! We both know I would be with you at this past-holiday season if I could! The interior decoration of her tv home, while definitely "a stage set", reminds me of a lot of the upscale ranch houses I would see on estate sale runs in Crieve Hall; all Louis XVI looking wall sconces and Hollywood Regency end tables. Gor. GEOUS.

Take, for example, this practically lifesize statue of a guardsman holding a torch aloft...please tell me the torch is wired for electricity, because that, as a lighting piece, would about blow my mind. As my dad pointed out in an estate sale house we visited in Hendersonville (which was, sadly, slated to be torn down for a new construction), "It's a shame about that living room. Man, I remember when I was a kid, a sunken living room was like THE HEIGHT of sophistication. You were really cookin' if you had one of those in your house." Here, Judy's tv home has the requisite two-step down of elegance.

And this house is REALLY multi-level-- check out the stairs and railing up next to the two-tone baby grand! FYI, they're singing Oliver's "Consider Yourself" en famille in this scene, doing a kind of train. I am so into Judy's dress it's a little embarrassing. Talk about dressing the part of the grande dame!

Check out that skylight! Yes, ma'am!

A seventeen year old Liza appears partway through this song and joins in the fun before blithely asking "What's going on, Mama?". Judy: "Why, we're on television, darling!" Liza: "OH!". They share that same ingénue like vulnerability, which is adorable. Now, what always strikes me as funny about Liza is how much she looks not like Judy, but like her director father Vincente Minnelli. Have you ever noticed? She has Judy's gorgeous voice, for certain, but as Judy and former husband Minnelli looked close enough alike to be siblings, I think when people go "oh! She looks like Judy!" they should really say she looks like Vincente. See this side by side picture of the two for living proof. While Liza had appeared as a baby in several stage/on screen pairings with her mother, The Judy Garland Show marked Liza's real "professional" début. Think about, by comparison, how many pictures, including her career-making turn as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Judy had under her belt by the age of seventeen. Crazy!

It's hard to get a good shot of the lady of the hour because she's so manic throughout the line-reading sections. Singing, she's fine; acting, it's like trying to focus on a single hummingbird wing. I have always ADORED her speaking voice, but it's hard for her to get out some of the throwaway lines in these scenes without uncharacteristically mumbling. After Liza's good and settled in, Joey, unfortunately enough, is prevailed upon in the following scene to sing a solo version of another song from Oliver, "Where is Love?". While he gets an "A" for effort, and shares those same dark eyelashes with his mother and half-sister Liza, he did nooooot inherit Judy, Liza, and Lorna's singing abilities. Poor little bub. Look at as his black velvet collar on his suit! Focus on positive!

Moments later, this "mystery beau" of Liza's shows up; it's young Broadway star Tracy Everitt (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying)! Isn't he properly Ken doll looking. The couple that sweater vests together, stays together. According to the pair of Liza bios we have at the library (both ROTTEN by the way... somebody needs to write a decent one!), Tracy's sister Tanya and Liza roomed together and Liza and Tracy met at a theatrical part the year before...I couldn't find much else on Mr. Everitt except this business website for his dance studio in New Jersey.

Liza and Tracy go into motion here on a modern jazz dance number to the beat of "Steam Heat", an onomatopoeia heavy song about the various methods by which a home can be heated (steam, coal, love, etc). I was watching this with (the ever-patient) Matthew a week ago going, "THIS. IS THE WORST SONG." He corrected me, as "Confidence", a "High Hopes" rip-off from the Elvis movie Clambake, is THE worst song...but this one is close. It's actually from The Pajama Game, one of the few Broadway musicals of its era that I don't have memorized...and I guess maybe it suffers by being divorced from its source material, but whew boy...not good. You feel like the musical director for this special (who would have been Mel Torme! But more about that momentarily) was like "Ok, I have an 'in' with the Oliver people, so we can have whatever Oliver songs we want....and then you all are on your own for the rest of this. Find something in the rights catalog that is ch-e-e-e-eap....we spent all the money on the set!"

Liza's a good dancer, though, and she really can sing. Judy slurs through some congratulatory words to her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend before continuing on to her own solo spot.

Here, La Judy performs "Little Drops of Rain" . The song originated in an animated musical about French cats called Gay Purr-ee (I am not making this up); Judy voice acted a Turkish Angora named Musette in the production. I am a huge sucker for any song with that vulnerable, torchy pathos Judy is famous for, and this is no exception to the rule in terms of her song catalog. Please note, in this photo, the raised, see-through fireplace of the television-set-slash-home of the Lufts.

Jack Jones shows up as the first non-related-to-the-family celebrity guest, and doesn't he look dapper! The only song I know of his is (the blatantly misogynistic, but totally entertaining) "Wives and Lovers", which features such unforgettable lines as "Day, after day, there are girls in the office/And men will always be men/Don't send him off with your hair still in curlers/You may not see him again..." Look, married ladies, he's just looking out for you-- if you let yourself go, your man is going to leave you for his secretary. Cold, hard, Mad Men era facts, bro. He is a fresh-faced twenty-five years old here, and fresh off the heels of 1962's hit record, "Lollipops and Roses", which he herein performs to little Lorna ("Wives and Lovers" would be next year's smash hit).

Jack cedes the floor to Liza, who sings "Sweet Little Alice Blue Gown" as Tracy absently assists as the intended audience. The "alice blue" of the song title refers to the pale periwinkle color proto-celebutante Alice Roosevelt (daughter of Teddy) favored in dresses, which in turn sparked a nationwide craze for that particular shade. I hope Liza has taken this into consideration and her adorable belted circle skirt is of a similar hue. Do you see the gallery hangings against the far wall there? I WANT TO LIVE IN THIS TV HOUSE.

Next, Jack, Judy, and Liza all bundle under a blanket for a traditional round of "Sleigh Ride" (did you know that was the name of that song? I did not). As they wrap up the ditty, for no reason at all, things get weird. Here's a whole band of aggressively Charleston-ing Santa Clauses in weird hoop-skirt type Santa coats. Yeah, no, I don't get it either. Once again, you get the feeling that this special may have been sponsored by Kontact and Pall Mall, but is actually brought to you by years of amphetamine abuse. 

Yeeeah, it just keeps going from there. A whole bunch of people turn up on the doorstep, including musical supervisor Mel Tome and a gaggle of choral extras. Torme is a baby faced thirty eight at the time of this broadcast; he comes and sings a duet with Judy on the piano of the Tome penned "The Christmas Song", Lorna belts out a tune with an admirably accomplished voice for a little gal (why does Judy let her kids walk all over the furniture? I couldn't tell you), and the whole affair winds down with Judy singing her signature song to her children before they go to sleep, you guessed it, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Kid KILLS it, too. You don't get to be the greatest by just blowin' hot air... she really is one of a kind, and something about the perfect "last song" makes the whole special a little less "wth just happened".

So! If you watched, what did you think? I have to dig out the paperback copy of Torme's book on his stewardship of the show and see what kind of dirt the crooner dishes, I bet it's a whale of a read, I bought it a long time ago and meant to check it out then. What did you think? Am I being too critical about poor Judy? You know I love her the most! Was Liza ever so young? Which song did you like the best? Let's talk!

That's all for today! MERRY CHRISTMAS, PEOPLE! I hope you have a great one... I'm headed to my folks tomorrow with Matthew in tow for Christmas Day. If I get up the gumption today, I might, MIGHT, even make a modified fruitcake (YOU'RE a modified fruitcake, heckles the audience) to enjoy with my loved ones.

Hope Santa brings you everything you wanted! We'll talk tomorrow. See you then!

Every Judy Garland film in 14 minutes


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