Friday, August 30, 2013

Photo Friday: Style Evolution Edition

Good morning!

Well, have I got a treat for you all this Photo Friday! Oddly enough, I was trying to find photos of vintage dads for a change when I found this photostream, and was so struck by the photos of the user's mother, decade after decade, that I decided to use her instead! Folks, take a look:

The first photo is from senior prom 1957, and what a winner of a picture she took for the occasion! Mom is decked out here in a satin-bodiced dress with built-in capelet that seems to terminate at the lap in a cascade of tulle. Oh! I wonder what it looked like full length! And what color, too. I particularly like the filled-in eyebrows and the choker of this ensemble. I bet she was the belle of the ball that night at her high school Hedgesville, West Virginia!

The next photo is on her wedding day to a man identified as her first husband. Doesn't he have a Ken doll like smoothness to his face? I guess this comes from being an eighteen year old groom in 1957. Notice that the mom still has her hair in that co-ed cutie curled bob of the prom photo (which was only a few months earlier, I guess!). I tried on quite a few of these style wedding dresses at Goodwill over the years (back when they actually had them), but always had trouble inching my 1985-model body into a 1958-model dress. Not to mention the brittle, fragile nature of a lot of the lace! I might need to have my skeleton removed to fit into something like this, but gosh, couldn't I just die of envy looking at old photos of brides in them!

Here are the newlyweds a little while later, with Mr. Ken looking no less plastic, if a little hirsute in the eyebrow department. See his midcentury tie! Mom has added more bangs to her haircut, but is still pretty much rockin the 1957 look, clean faced but for the defined eyebrows.

In 1958, she has turned over a new leaf! The curls have been combed out to more of a poodle cut, but still very cute! I am noticing and loving the printed band that makes a line of demarcation between her trim, collared blouse and her shorts? Pants? Culottes? We have no way of telling.

Jarringly, the next picture on the timeline comes from Olan Mills in the mid sixties'. I love her hair (LOVE her hair), but Mom has gone a little more aggressive with the eyebrow pencil. I bet in color, this looked less stark than it does in sepia tone, however. Women of the sixties', how do I get my hair to do this? Can it be done with longer lengths? Where is my Warren Beatty in Shampoo like hairstylist when I need him?

Now this, maybe a year or two later but in exactly the same style portrait, is even better! I really like her hair (REALLY REALLY like her hair), those button-y earrings, and her heavily eyelinered/possibly false eyelashed eyes. Even the dark brows look good when combined with the dark eyemakeup.

The final transformation! I might be wrong for this, but I LOVE everything in this picture. The pale lipstick, the sky high hair, the black ruffled voile dress...I would wear everything but the corsage just as is, to accept my award at the 1970 CMA awards ceremony (in all my high hair fantasies, I am a country music singer in the style of my beloved Tammy Wynette). I'm of the opinion that some of that is her hair, and some of that is added volume from a hair rat or some other coiffure-based jerry rigging. What do you think?

So! Have you seen your stylish relatives run the fashion gamut, decade by decade, in your family albums? None of my relatives were really ever very edgy! Which makes for much less interesting "over the years" photos. Can you teach me how to make my hair do any of these tricks? Let's talk!

That's all for today, I'm off to try and nail down a few more of these wedding details. Keep a good thought for me, and I'll see you on Monday! Til then.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wedding Shoes and the Vintage Girl: Do I Dare?

Good morning!

Sorry for the publishing hiccough looks like there have been some tweaks to the security policy on the network at work, and would you believe it-- all of blogger was verboten! Forbidden as heck! Kept bouncing me back like I was trying to see the Burt Reynolds Cosmopolitan centerfold! At any rate, things seem to be back to normal now, accept my apologies. I had planned to talk about wedding shoes yesterday, and here I am with the same thing on the brain today. Hope you can bear with me for some fireside wedding chatting, because it's on my mind, son!

My dress is full length and kind-of-hoopskirted, but this does not mean I am not OB.sessed at the moment with what kind of footwear should follow under this full-width skirt. 

Things I need my wedding shoes to do:
  1. Be flats (I am a hairsbreadth under six feet tall, there is no earthly reason I should be in heels on this, of all days, and we need danceability to be a factor!).
  2. Be available in a size 10.5 or 11 (you have no IDEA how many shoes this knocks out of the running).
  3. Be between $20-$100ish (ain't nobody got time for a $300 pair of even the most perfect kicks).
Let's talk about some of the contenders.

The Safest Choice (Metallics):
Steve Madden (top) and Michael Kors (bottom)
While my dress is super traditional and an ivory color, I don't think I want plain ivory or white shoes to go with it. Too plain, as you might have noticed from my ENTIRE taste in anything, is not gonna work for me! They may be the safest of all the shoes I've thought about, but they also would highlight the vintage rhinestone jewelry I plan on bedecking myself in. I've been digging around in my jewelry box, and there is an embarrassment of fifties' and sixties' paste diamond costume jewelry. It's like old cameras-- if I see one out, and it's less than $10, I usually buy it, which means I have just fistsfuls in my dresser. Now, if I can only figure out how to artfully combine the pieces so I don't look like Trashcan Annie wearing her finest in ye olde junkheap. I don't plan on rouging my face QUITE as much as the seventies'-does-thirties' model in the above advertisement for Yardley's cosmetics, but I do want to have a similar classic, painted on mouth, almost porcelain doll type look to the makeup, and I think put together with these shoes and glittering accessories, this could be a really cute combination.

The Pump Up the Volume Selections (Revlon Red/New Wave):
Jessica Simpson (top) and Matisse (bottom)
I'll tell you, it has been no hardship whatsoever looking at shoes like it was a paying job-- the only occasional trouble I run into is sizing that ends at a 10. Women of the world with normal sized feet and heights under 5'7'', I know you don't know where I'm coming from-- it is hard out here for the larger-than-normal sized gal! And the worst of it is some women who guard a secret, gloating feeling over the daintiness of their feet (in spite of it being entirely related to genetics, like the size of one's head). Watch this video of Kathie Lee "innocently" pointing out that her size 7.5 shoes are just as cute as co-host Hoda Kotb (purportedly, they look bigger to me) 9.5 sized shoe. Kathie Lee, you are on my bad list! Hoda, you just stepped up a couple rungs with your big-footed self. But anyway, both of these shoes are miraculously in a size 11, and too cool for school. I like how the red bow'd ones have a little bit of princess to them, highlighting my red, red lipstick on the wedding day; and polka dots more of an attidutinal "Yes, I wore polka dot flats to my wedding" gist to them. Both are great, and I would wear either with any non-wedding, civilian outfit if given the chance.

The Heartbreak Kid:
Judge (top) and Justice (bottom)
These truly amazing pair of shoes came up as I was browsing Top Shop's online catalog. Yes, they are $130 apiece, which is approximately six and half times more than I usually spend on shoes, but a) they have them in a size 10.5 and b) HAVE YOU SEEN THEM. SERIOUSLY. They are also about 1,000,000 times better than any I've ever seen in real life. Now, the obvious comparison could be drawn to Pee Wee Herman's shoe of choice in the famous Tequila dance off but?! AND?! Those are the kind of shoes that change lives. Add to the fact that is my secret wish to have a Soul Train dance line at the reception, and there you have it, a match made in heaven.

My overriding concern in all of this? What the shoes will look like with the dress! I feel like online shopping is as non-fail-safe as in person, because neither in the physical store nor in the world of the internet will I have my wedding dress with me...we'll just have to see how they look when they get here! I'm thinking seriously about ordering two of these, seeing which one is more suitable, and saving the others for a rainy day (or a perfect weather day...these kicks are too good to go out in the rain).

So! What do you think? Which shoe do you think would look the best mostly-concealed-under-a-large-skirt but OCCASIONALLY visible in such a way as to make a statement? Which would you wear even in a non wedding setting and with what? Let's talk! I need some advice like whoa.

Hope you're having a good week so far! I will see you kids back here tomorrow for Photo Friday (barring any unforeseen internet issues). Til then.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm sorry!

Well, goldurnit!

I was trying to keep up with my record of posting continuously every week day for the last year or so, but the fates have conspired against me today. Why don't you watch this video of Little Miss Dynamite and accept my apologies? I'll be back with a dozen roses and YOUR NAME on it, tomorrow! Take care, see you then!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Robot Invasion: Imminent! (Vintage Robot Features, 1930's-1950's)

Good morning!

I was flipping through Popular Mechanics on Google books the other day, when I came across this well-heeled little gentleman, and his Erich von Stroheim lookin' creator. Folks, meet Willie. Willie, meet my blog readers. I hate to bust in on you like this with your chest all exposed, but how else are we supposed to see the mechanical marvels that make up your guts?

The gentleman-scientist with the Teutonic haircut is watchmaker Andy Bober, who has taught his man robot to do all of the following tasks:
  • introduce himself
  • smoke a cigarette
  • answer questions
  • dance
  • play a harmonica
  • shoot a pistol
Sounds a lot like one of my college boyfriends! I jest, I jest (kind of). But isn't that fantastic? Fifteen years in the making, Willie isn't exactly Data from ST:NG... however. You have to admit for a time that predates answering machines, much less cell phones, much less the internet, creating an automaton type creature that does any of those actions is pretty cool. Bober was inspired by ventriloquist dummies of the time, and had the idea to mechanize what-was-already-creepy into what-will-probably-kill-me-in-my-sleep.

Can you imagine, in a world where cars and airplanes were less than a handful of decades old, how short the jump from "no robots" to "robot WOOOORLD" must have been in the minds of New Deal era magazine readers? I've talked with people before about how disheartening it must have been for people born in the early 20th century when technology outstripped imagination in terms of what was possible. Ray Bradbury's cities on Mars were 100% believable when Martian Chronicles was published in 1950. Who knew if there were webbed fingered humanoids waving back at us when we looked up into the night sky? Nineteen years later, by the time Neil Armstrong set first human foot on the moon, wasn't it a major downer to realize there's nothing there? What could have been first contact with other peoples, other possibilities, was primarily just a major "awww...come on". (Unless, of course, à la O.J. and Gould in Capricorn One, there WAS no moon landing....) But I digress.

Curious to see what Willie's competition might be, I used the search term "robot", with the parameters of 1930-1960, and found several other robotic compatriots.

In 1939, Westinghouse, the appliance giant, built "Elektro". He's the seven foot giant you see merrily singing along with his human counterparts. Elektro can walk, talk, tell colors, take a bow, and smoke a cigarette (robots! Quit smoking!). What is with giving the robots human faces? If you haven't noticed, your computer monitor in year of our Lord 2013 doesn't look like the yawning maw of a human, or have hands attached to it in an attempt to make it more "human-like", so why should these robots have faces like you or me! Notice how tiny the women's feet are in the singing photo (I always do) and how Elektro's eyes open and close. He looks vaguely perturbed in that one picture.

This robot has the same name as my Pappy! Unlike my dad, however, this Clarence's time is not his own-- he's rented out by his creator, Austin Huhn! Shame on you, Huhn-dog, for yoking your robot son to a life of servitude at the hands of human masters!

I like how "Sabor", the robot below, has a very neat, almost Metropolis kind of Art Deco face plate, but this clunky ENORMOUS lower half, and feet like two by fours. Notice Sabor can light a cigar and answer questions (phew! At least he's not smoking himself).

Last but not least, the Charley Weaver of robots, who has no name but plenty of personality. Isn't this possibly the creepiest of them all for his human-like attributes? "The creator of the mechanical man, a young sculptor, proposes the use of figures of this type in animated movie cartoons." Yeah, if you wanted to send your kid to bed with nightmares for the rest of his life! Imagine one of these things woodenly perambulating around a Stephen King short story. I can't! It's too scary!

So! What do you think? Which of these robots is the weirdest? What's the coolest robot you've ever seen in real life? Are you a fan of retro-futurism, where you look back on the past's vision of what the future held in store? Are you a vintage science nerd? Let's talk!

See more about Willie (and other pre 1960's robots!) on this comprehensive website, and this great article about other retro robots from Buzzfeed here. That's all for today, but I'll catch you kids back here tomorrow! Til then.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Huey Lewis and the News at the Schermerhorn (2013)

Good morning!

Monday's here again! I spent the weekend a) wrasslin' with car troubles (another story for another day...but phew, what a story!), b) having my socks blown off by a vegan bachelorette party in my honor at my friend's Alyx house (there was a VERY explicit cake involved), and c) getting to go see HUEY LEWIS AND THE NEWS LIVE. Live, people! He was like six feet from me! Here is one of the last know photos of me before having seen Huey in concert:

Here's me with my tiny benefactor...he was as excited as I was to see the show!!
I told you guys I was going to get to see the former Hugh Anthony Cregg III back in May, but somehow between then and now, the date creeped up on me! Matthew got home from his bachelor weekend around 4, we ate dinner and watched this video of Richard Belzer being put out by Hulk Hogan (Dangerous Minds never disappoints), and then I put on my party clothes to go get a gander at my beloved News! We paid way too much to park directly next to the venue, and started filing in with the rest of the audience.

Tiny dress, bolero jacket with shoulder pads, Bananarama hat I am more and more
loathe to leave the house without...what else COULD I have worn to the HL&N show!

Do you remember the hubbub a couple months ago about the Schermerhorn's dire financial straits? I agreed with a lot of the bad press and grouchy Nashvillians who wrote into the newspaper about the limited number of concert offerings for non-classical performances. In the seven years since it's been open, I've only been to the venue twice, once when I won tickets off public radio to see the Symphony, and once as a guest of Matthew's dad for a Musician's Hall of Fame concert. I heard about Gilberto Gil, who I REALLY wanted to see, about a week after he made a super rare North American performance at the concert hall. While there's certainly a place for high-brow arts here along with the more accessible (and sometimes more enjoyable) whine whine twang twang of Nashville's musical heritage, I was glad to see an act like Huey Lewis and the News playing a venue WITHOUT old-enough-to-drive gum stuck to old-enough-to-qualify-for-Social-Security seating, not to mention fantastic acoustics. 

PS I was so close to the stage! How close WERE you, you ask?

As is the way of digital camera, Huey actually looks farther away than he did in real life! I'm almost positive he looked directly at Matthew and I while we were ebulliently belting out "Heart and Soul" along with the band (and everyone else in the audience). Unlike my experience at the Adam Ant concert, I knew every word to every song they played, which consisted of the Sports album in its entirety and a couple other songs thrown in for fun. I kind of wish he'd replaced his (perfectly respectable) soul covers of "It's All Right" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" with "Hip to Be Square" and "Doin' It All For My Baby", but you can't have everything. You can see the setlist from the concert here (isn't the 21st century amazing?).

This is how close it felt like he was. Look at him sassin' the audience! Sass on, Huey! Sass on!

One cool thing-- a former bandmate from Huey's days in Clover (when he, almost unimaginably, looked like this and had shoulder length, tousled locks), John McFee, joined the Huey and the News on stage for a few numbers. What's so amazing about Clover, a little known band Huey Lewis only played harmonica in? Oh, maybe that the entire band, minus Huey and the lead singer Alex McCall, makes up the backing band on Elvis Costello's first album, My Aim is True. I.e., one of the greatest rock albums of all time. If they'd needed a harmonica player, Huey himself would have been on it! Guitarist McFee actually plays that haunting lead guitar in "Alison", no joke, and played a mean steel guitar (as he also did on the Sports album) on the band's cover of Hank Williams Sr.'s "Honky Tonk Blues". I love thinking about these unusual musical connections, and how many other ones out there might exist of which I have no inkling.

Look! I even tried to take a video. PS I am terrible at taking videos. Tell 'em how it is, Huey! Only moments later, Matthew and I made the aforementioned eye contact with the man himself. Aaaah! I die.


All in all, it was a great concert! We were singing our little guts out along with the band, and stood, clapping wildly with our also standing fellow audience members, throughout the whole 2 hour set. Most of the crowd was about my parents' age (what else is new in the musical circles I run in), and I actually overheard a woman's conversation in the merch line (yes, I got a T-shirt; yes, I am wearing it right now) about how the Sports album, now in its thirtieth year, had come out her freshman year of college. Ugh! It just makes me pea green with envy thinking about a time in which you could have just bought a $15 ticket to see Van Halen, Prince, Huey, whoever their youthful prime! Still, there were almost no signs of wear and tear on was a GREAT concert. Here's one last look at me, post-concert, with the signage outside. SOLD OUT, BAYBEE! And outta SIGHT!

So! How was your weekend? Have you seen any great nostalgia or non nostalgia concerts lately? If you could see any act from 1982 IN 1982, who would you want to score front row tickets for? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but more vintage stuff tomorrow! I'll see you then. :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo Friday: Prom Dress Edition

Good afternoon!

Wow, folks! Thanks for all the encouragement on my DIY candles! It is great to get encouragement on these things, I'll tell you what! :) I'm sorry I repaid all your kindness with no Photo Friday morning post...Matthew's going out of town for a "bachelor weekend" in Tunica with his friend Brian, so as a surprise, he took me to the flea market a day early! I already got a couple crazy things, but am sure I will drag home even more tomorrow when I go with my dad. And we ate lunch, and he just now hit the road. It is BEYOND goofy how hard it is to say goodbye to that little tiny of mine-- Matthew says it's a good indicator that we should get married, if being apart for a weekend, after five years of dating, is still kind of a heartstring tugging proposition! Le sigh. L'amour.

Without further ado, however-- PHOTO FRIDAY:

The only thing I love more than a pastel, chiffon cupcake of a prom dress on a tiny midcentury high schooler? A pastel, chiffon  cupcake of a prom dress on a tiny midcentury high schooler wearing glasses. Is this little gal not the bee's knees? I love the background of the house, complete with baby photos on the wall and amazing barkcloth curtains, not to mention the junior or senior prom goer's "Aw ma!" expression. I wish someone had told me to smile more in high school photos! I feel like 90% of them catch this giraffe of a teenager, draped in seventies' polyester, making somewhere between a smirk and a "get out of here!" grimaced expression when would it have killed me to just smile? This girl looks very cute in her pink dress and her earring/necklace/bracelet set, however.

All of these photos are from a set on this user's flickr labeled "Grandma's old slides". Thank you, grandma, for taking the time to take these slides, and thank you, flickr user, for uploading them so we could sneak a peek into PROM 1958 (what's your guess on the year? I bet that's close  I read the caption as was dead on!). Here's the girl of the hour in a different prom dress, same living room, with a white evening coat, white gloves, and white clutch to round out her ensemble. I LOVE dresses that hourglass out like this one into an actual bell. I have a couple crinolines and dresses with built in crinolines, but I always have this fear of looking like a Civil War reenactor as I sweep into a friend's party or a restaurant like Scarlett herself. As my wedding dress has this kind of a skirt, except floor length, I'm going to have to practice sitting down in it so I don't put on the wrong kind of show for my guests!  People of the fifties'....would you just sit down and bunch your skirts around you? Was it normal to take up a whole side of a booth because every other girl was SIMILARLY dressed in a hot-air balloon of a gown? I want to know so I can be graceful, too!

Here's the same night before the wrap went on. I love that you can get a better look at the curtains as well as the bodice of her dress from this angle. Isn't she so "reet petite", as the song goes? I was surprised that her shoes weren't white, but like that it breaks up the matchiness of the accessories we saw in the photo above. The same as in time capsule estate sales I attend, I am paying close attention to the way the room is arranged and the way the pictures are hung on the wall. And see those horizontal blinds? I wouldn't have even thought of them. Think they were aluminum?

You can see more photos from this set here, including a shot of this lady as a young woman, still bespectacled, with her family in the early sixties' (in front of a mini bus, in one case!). How sweet!

Anyway, sorry this is so late-- gotta get back to the self-imposed sweatshop that IS my DIY living room wedding prep table. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, and I will see you on Monday! Til then.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wedding DIY: Fast Luck 7 Day Candle

Good morning!

Well, I wish I could promise you wouldn't be hearing more about my wedding for the next month-- but I cannot! We are THIRTY DAYS out from the celebration, and I have been a busy little bee trying to finish things for the big day. One of my first DIYs for the reception decorations turned out swimmingly, and I wanted to show you guys, duh!

Have you ever seen those seven day candles at your local grocery or a supermercado, with images of saints pasted to the outside? I had the one sitting on my desk in my high school bedroom, but instead of a religious figure, the label was inundated with promises of wealth, love, and success. "YOUR WISH COME TRUE!" one slogan shouted in bold white type face. "PROSPERITY!" another crowed. I truly love the gimmicky, midway-at-carnival sense of the over the topness from this candle. All I have to do is light this ONE candle and I may win the lottery tomorrow! There's no telling!

Since one of my colors is a sage green, I thought the one at left in the above illustration would be perfect as a kitschy little thing to have sitting around in the centerpieces. But did you know, fast luck is MONDO expensive! I couldn't find a fast luck candle online for less than $6, when I know at that price, the scant change and moths coming out of my little change purse in high school would have precluded me buying it at my local Kroger's. Couldn't have been more than $3, I don't think! Add to that a $6 shipping charge, and what would have been a cute little goofy thing to have as reception decoration could be a three figure price tag!

When my resourcefulness meets my penury, I sometimes strike gold, and this case was no exception. Using clip art from the back of old magazines (mostly Popular Mechanics, surprisingly enough) and some vintage embroidery patterns in Paint, I came up with the following personalized label for our candles! 

What do you think! I'm pleased as punch with the outcome. I wanted them to look pretty much exactly like the original Fast Luck candle I had, but in the same funky cut-and-paste lettering I use on the blog (and my invitations). I think the word "cash" with a period after it may be my favorite part. Or maybe the wheat penny. Heck, I love it all.

  1. Buy 25 8'' candles from the Dollar Tree.
  2. Measure circumference of the candle.
  3. Print out 25 copies of the label design, scaled to the measurements of the candle (saves time on cutting out individual parts of the label).
  4. With postal tape, completely cover the label, affixing it to the candle (I used the tension of rolling the candle with one hand while pulling the tape with the other to get a smooth application).
  5. Gloat over your success (and possibly light a candle to bring future luck).
Now I'm thinking-- do I get another 25 to make enough for all the guests? Or is it a "while supplies last" wedding favor? There are other little wedding tchotchkes, as you knew there would be at my own nuptials, haha, but these are pretty darn cute if I do say so myself.

So! What do you think about my candles? Did you "DIY" anything spectacular at your own wedding? Have any plans to make something crazy awesome for yours some day? What's the neatest wedding favor you've received as a guest at someone's ceremony? Let's talk!

That's all for today, I have to go back to slaving in the book mines. Have a great Thursday, and I'll see you tomorrow for Photo Friday! Til then.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Weekend Finds 2: Do YOU have ESP? Edition

Good morning!

I shortchanged you guys on Monday-- not ONLY did I find those ties at the sales this weekend, but more! Much more! Here are some random keepers from Saturday and Sundays haul:

First, the magazines. On Saturday, I was at a sale out in Crieve Hall where the bottom had just fallen out, rain-wise, moments before we got to the sale. I usually carry two umbrellas, but had one of those "How foolish of me! Two umbrellas! At least one should be inside the house!" moments the week before and we were mono-umbrella'd for an occasion that called for dos. My dad was recovering from a nasty cold, so I told him to forget chivalry and just take the blamed thing so he didn't get sicker. Inside, my sacrifice was not met with much a reward...many items had already moved either earlier that day or the day before, and what was left was just ok. When I came in, heaps of magazines on a ledge in the den were marked down from $1 apiece to 50 cents apiece, and by the time I was ready to leave, a magic marker had amended the  price from four bits to FREE. I skipped the seventies' Good Housekeeping issues and snagged up all the TV Radio Mirror magazines from the late sixties'. Just look at the covers! Jackie Kennedy's stepping out on the town, Lucille Ball is warning wild child Patty Duke to stay away from Desi Jr., and Johnny and June just had a baby! I love it.

 At Great Escape, killing time after our ladies' brunch on Sunday before work, I found THIS:

Oh my goodness! Remember I told you about how much I love that Hulu has reruns of Kreskin on their streaming site? Well, I can now allow my Kreskin fandom to run unchecked and wild with this at-home version of his televised ESP shenanigans. I was so excited at the checkout counter that I think I weirded out the cashier. "This is so cool! I love his tv show, now I'm gonna get to try some of these tricks at home!" Dude [noncomittally] "Who is this guy?" Me: "The Amazing Kreskin! The mentalist! He had a tv show back in the seventies'. He would have guests on his show and guess stuff about their dreams. Barbara Mandrell, Nipsey Russell...Lynn Redgrave...It's goofy but it's a great show." Dude: "Oh, okay. [beat] Do you want a bag?" 

It's scintillating exchanges like this upon which I have built my reputation as a celebrated wit. 

But look at Kreskin up close! Did you know he has formally changed his name from George Joseph Kresge to "The Amazing Kreskin"? No joke! His first name is LEGALLY "The Amazing". Top that, killer.

Matthew and I sat down at the coffee table on Monday and gave our skills at extrasensory perception a go-- the main set up of the game is a lot like the paranormal tests Bill Murray is conducting at the beginning of Ghostbusters-- you have a set of cards, and you try and "transmit" the answer to your partner. The previous owners, obviously some middle school age kids in the seventies', were not much more mystically perceptive than us! I got four out of I think thirty cards right, and Matthew got two. I was allowed to gloat about how I was twice as psychic as him for the rest of the night. There are some other games with a pendulum and a Ouija type set up, which you can see in much better detail on other sites here and here. I know it's probably a bunch of hooey, but much like the one time I bought a lottery ticket and was positive I was going to win, the hopeful beating of my little heart while I was playing this game speaks to how exciting it would have been to find out I'm 100% psychic! Darn that dream.

I found this cardinal themed Couroc tray at Music City Thrift for the princely sum of $2.59. It was a gift to employees of some chi-chi department store at Christmas of 1980 (so reads a faded label on the back above the stamped Couroc of Monterey logo):

He will go nicely with my other Couroc dudes! I hope I have enough to make a wall display some day.

Have you ever seen a vintage blender cover? This was sitting atop a vintage blender at the same estate sale with the ties...could I love it more? I could not. I will put this over my modern blender with pride.

 Last but not least, an Italian velvet wallhanging of some polar bears (as referenced on Monday). I love how clear and lush the colors are on this, and that someone has framed the item so I don't have to figure out how to display it, just where. You can also see a little bit of my dress from last week's finds! Looooove it.

You will be pleased to know that I took a bunch of stuff to Music City Thrift on the same trip as I bought the Couroc tray, so no, we will not have to pitch a tent in the yard and live in it due to my magpie-like tendencies. Anytime I find a couple things, I do try to remove a couple things from the house on the same day-- it's my way of tipping the scales closer to collecting and further away from hoarding.

So! What do you think about these finds? Why am I not psychic (if wishing could only make it so)? Have you watched Kreskin yet (you should!)? How excited are you about the flea market this weekend (DO NOT RAIN, CLOUDS, I AM SERIOUS)? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I will see you kids back here tomorrow. Take care! Til then.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans (2013)

Good morning!

It's a banner day at She Was a Bird, blog followers-- I actually read, cover to cover, a high demand book in our library system within its due date! I feel so sad for all the little forlorn titles that languish the entire three week checkout period on the shelf next to my desk at work...all those missed opportunities. But maybe I'm turning over a new leaf: I checked out Ava Gardner: The Secret Conversations last week and read the whole thing in a day and a intimate! So revealing! So other-adjectives-you-usually-use-to-describe-undergarments! 

Writer Peter Evans received the first of many late night phone calls from Ava Gardner in 1988, thereafter being contracted to ghost write her autobiography. The former journalist and biographer of Aristotle Onassis, Evans took copious hand written notes of both formal and informal interviews with the star publicists called at the height of her fame, "the world's most beautiful animal"... and does this kitten have claws, folks! While I was busy looking up literary references and cross-indexing sources-to-check-out-later from Orson Welles's dishy but at times esoteric conversations with Henry Jaglom, this book had me gulping up pages to hear more about the starlet's racy reminisces of husbands Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra, and her poignant younger days in the South, her family toeing the line between subsistence and almost-poverty. Born in Grabtown, North Carolina (a seasoned publicity man couldn't make a better name up for the girl's hometown, but it's real!), Ava was discovered when her sister Bappie's first husband displayed a large portrait of the seventeen year old in the front window of his photography business in New York. In spite of a thick Tarheel accent, she was signed to a seven-year starlet's contract (with the cancel-at-any-time option every six months-- the studio system did not mess around with dead weight!) in 1940 and took two cross-continental trains to seek her fortune at the gates of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

What I loved about the book was the sense of self you got from the midnight hour transcript of Evans and Gardner's conversations. Peppered with serious profanity, punctuated with sorghum-sweet "honey" or "baby", interrupted by a call for more wine or whiskey, her conversations and the voice Peter Evans manages to convey has all the magic of table-tapping or a Ouija board-- this is as close as you're going to get to the "real thing" of Ava Gardner off set. Curled up in a grey track suit, her once perfect face paralyzed on one side by a recent stroke, the inner Ava is still intact, still feisty-- what amazes me is that beyond her perfect figure and that luminous beauty, there was a real firecracker of a girl, besides! Cussin' this, decrying that...she must have been a lot of fun when she was flying high.

Gardner got the jitters about being "laid bare" as Peter Evans had her in his initial chapter drafts for the memoir. Frank, funny, and sharp as a tack, she wanted him to "clean up some of the g-ddamn profanity", essential to her speech patterns, and take out some of the indiscreet pillow talk that made Evans's 2013 book so compelling. She ended up firing him and engaging a more pliable writer to produce what would be Ava: My Story, sadly published posthumously, and even more sadly, a bland account of a fascinating life. It was such a sticking point, throughout the Evans conversations, that she was writing the book to help keep her from the poor house. “I either write the book or sell the jewels, and I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels,” he quotes her as saying in the first chapter, and isn't that a line good enough for a movie!

There's been some controversy as to how much of the book is actually Gardner's voice, but the truth of it is, I'm only disappointed that one, there wasn't a companion cd of some of the actual microcassettes Evans's used during their sessions, à la Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy and two, Evans himself passed away, from a heart attack, before finishing the final chapter of the Conversations book. While the first half of the text is as strong and cinematic as the best Hollywood memoirs I've read, the second half seems to trail off a bit, into increasing paranoia and indecision on Gardner's part and more hemming and hawwing . At that point, a lot of the fun of sitting and gossiping with one of the screen's greatest "love goddesses" dissolves into the cat and mouse of "whether or not she'll let me publish the book" ( uh, spoiler alert: she doesn't, that's why we have this book). But all and all, I have to say I had a great time reading and feeling closer to the icon. When this book is good, it is very, very good.

So! Have you read any Hollywood memoirs that knocked your little socks off lately? Are you a fan of Gardner's? I've read the Ava memoir, and seen The Killers, Mogambo, The Barefoot Contessa (NOT the tv show, btw), Night of the Iguana, Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, One Touch of Venus, and The Sun Also Rises...but that was way back in the days of Nashville Public Library's VHS collection being just bursting with classic Hollywood titles. Now, if we have a copy on DVD, it seems like it's been checked out since 2005 and never returned! Booo. I'm going to have to see what I can see again between my own DVD collection and what's left of ours. Who's one of your "go-to" Hollywood screen queens? Let's talk!

I gotta get back to work!! Have a great Tuesday, and I'll see you back here tomorrow! Til then.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Weekend Finds: 1940's Handpainted Ties

Good morning!

Well, all my hard work of mapping out this week's estate sales, getting out of a very comfortable bed at 7 AM, etc, etc paid off this last weekend-- I hit a bonanza! As I channel Diane Keaton in the photo below before going to Sunday brunch with Alyx and Frankie, do you notice anything striking in my ensemble?

Oh, maybe it's just this HANDPAINTED TOREADOR TIE FROM THE 1940'S! Yes, I'm pulling the big guns to meet with my lady friends, but also to celebrate a heckuva find. This is my favorite of five ties I found this weekend in Donelson:

Aaaah! I saw these in a preview photo for an estate sale this weekend at a house off Lebanon Pike. Noting it was of my favorite estate sale companies, I thought, "Well, sucks I can't go until Saturday morning, but they'll probably have a few treasures left." And did they! These ties were still sitting in a room off the main hall, bunched in with a lot of other, more contemporary ties. There were five handpainted ones in total, each masking-tape priced at $8. A little steep for my taste, but still reasonable for the knock-your-socks-off impact of the little graphics! Somebody was a loud dresser in year of our Lord 1948.

Being as it was half off day, I figured on getting these for $20 total. I made a pile, said hey to the cashier that I like, and headed down to the basement. In the basement, there were a bunch of middle aged dudes noisly rummaging through what seemed like a dozen or so metal toolboxes (who has this many toolboxes?!). In one corner of the semi-finished cellar, an actually pretty artistically gifted teen in the 70's had painted a numeral one in red, white, and blue, with the words "HARLEY DAVIDSON" printed inside the base of the number. Another wall had an entire American flag squarely painted. On a third wall, the kid has started on a Ford Mustang Cobra logo, but lost interest after the initial outlining. Maybe he bought another car! Who knows. After making a Silence of the Lambs joke to my dad about a single porthole-style window on one side of the barely lit basement, I headed back up to see what the damage was. For a wall hanging that was supposed to be $5 (half off the first day price, $10), and a cover-for-a-household-implement-I-will-show-you-tomorrow that was $1, and all the ties, the saleslady quoted me $8.50! SCORE! She also mentioned she had a lot of forties' dresses she hadn't put out yet at her brick-and-mortar store, and I told her I would visit ASAP. Amazing!!

I am unable to take unblurry photos of my own finds, but imagine this is what the tie would look like to you if you'd already had two or three drinks at the Mocambo circa 1947. "Harry, Iwannatellyousomethin', isssh a wunnerful tie you got there..." you would have managed, seeing the wearer through daiquiri-impaired little peepers. I love the ship ALMOST as much as I love the marlin bursting forth from its briny sea home.

Not sure what the abstracts on the tie on the left are, except they look vaguely Mayan to me. I almost didn't get this duck-themed mauve tie on the right, but then I was like, just get every forties' tie there and then you won't have any regrets about "leaving such and such" behind!

In my 10 years of serious estate-saling, I have to say, I've only seen handpainted ties like this one other time. I have a pair of horserace/jockey themed ties in yellow, maroon, and periwinkle (no joke! What a color combination), one of which features a whole-scene of the jockey on the horse, on the race track, with a grandstand in the back ground, being given a trophy, I think, and the other of which is a comparatively sedate trio of horse-heads set in horse-shoe festooned medallions. Each was a dollar at an estate sale in a huge old house in the Belmont where I bought my first (but sadly, not my last...I have compulsions!) fine fur stole. "Oh! You got the stole! And daddy's ties, too. Aren't they a hoot?" a sweet woman at the checkout said to me. Now, somebody who has a CRAZY awesome collection of ties, would be SoCal's own Mr. Tiny over at Wacky Tacky. I think I mentioned these horse ties in a blog a long time ago and he linked me to a post he'd done on his tie collection. Drool....drool....DROOL. One should be so lucky.

If you've got a hankering for some vintage neckwear, check out these fine and fabulous ties I found on ebay and Etsy. Some are even in a good price range! (Some are not, but wow, what eyecandy...)

Vtg Rare Esthite 40s 50s Handpainted Men's Neck Tie 

Vtg Crosley 40s 1950s Rembrandt Handpainted
 Horse Head Shoe Neck Tie

vintage mens ties 1940's hand painted arco 
Vintage Hand Painted Necktie Oil Derricks
Look what happens when I try to use the reverse camera thing on Matthew's iPhone:

Haha! I'm all misty from dirt in the lens! A pointillist version of your humble narrator. Can't say I don't like it, though! :)

How were your finds this weekend? Do you have any bold-as-brass ties in your collection? How do you feel about vintage neckwear in general? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but more finds (Lord willing) tomorrow! Talk to you then, kiddos.


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