Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Unsolved Mysteries

Good morning!!

Howaya, howaya, howaya. It's Tuesday, saints bless us, and I thought I would take a minute to tell you about your show of shows, Unsolved Mysteries, and its triumphant return to syndication. I mentioned a while back in my birth story post that we'd been watching episodes of UM on my phone while waiting for Remy to make his grand debut, and isn't it surreal that I'm sitting here, nine months later, with a not-so-newborn in my lap and Robert Stack telling me about a suspicious car fire...happier than a pig in mud.

I watched a lot of the show when it was first aired on NBC, because in those long ago days of the late 80's and early 90's, there was no cable and just a single television set... meaning if your folks were watching Cheers, and you wanted to watch something on tv, you, too, would be watching Cheers. Hard to believe in this age of having multiple screens, technology on demand, etc, etc, but I can see myself on the brown shag carpet of the living room, probably chewing on the wood stick of a grape popsicle and wondering if the "someone may have the answers, that someone may be...you" tagline was true...though , to be fair, my sphere of influence was pretty small at nine years old and the killer/missing sister/UFO witness would have to be in my second grade classroom or my mom/dad/grandparents for there to be much of a chance of me being the missing link in this investigation. "God, I wish I knew more masked motorcyclists and key witnesses to disappearances," was a good summation of my feelings of ruefulness at not being more involved in inexplicable events.

Hi-ya, handsome!
Sidenote: I had no idea in first watching the series that Robert Stack was any more famous than Wink Martindale, Mark Summers, or the other various early nineties' television hosts I could name off the top of my fourth grade head. Much later, I would get to know Stack for his performance in one of my favorite fifties' auteur-work-posing-as-soap-opera-melodrama, the lurid and lovely to look at Written on the Wind. In his youth, Robert Stack had the same distinguished speaking voice but a clean-cut , tanned, youthful handsomeness and smoldering blue eyed gaze that was really something special. He plays in that movie a paranoiac alcoholic playboy, heir to an oil fortune, who spends most of the movie being egged on to further debauchery by his nymphomaniac sister (Dorothy Malone) and mistreating Lauren Bacall, the latter of which is a problem for my-boyfriend-Rock-Hudson as his childhood best friend who's in love with Bacall. Sounds very Redbook, but in the hands of director Douglas Sirk, take my word for it, it's like a painting come to life. But anyway. Isn't it interesting to think he did that, and then The Untouchables, and then kind of kicked around Hollywood for twenty years or so until a career-reviving stint on everybody's favorite true crime/occult/reunion show in prime time?

"What the..." (I'd tell you what my favorite re-enactment was but they're all my favorite)
Speaking of, I always prefer the missing people stories and ghost stories to the UFO and miracle stories, though the latter categories can be a hoot and a half. One category that had completely slipped my mind in the twenty plus years since I was originally watching the show was the "Lost Loves". It's easy to forget in the age of Facebook stalking and Spokeo that at one time, if you lost contact with someone for enough years, they could be very difficult to reconnect with in the present day. Some examples I remember off the top of my head: a guy who served in Vietnam with another guy and lost touch with him after they both returned home, an English girl in a German boarding school in the sixties who wanted to reconnect with a girl who was kind to her in her grade, a girl who wanted to find the two children who her father had fostered for a year in the 1930's before their father was able to take them back and moved away, and ALL THE TEENAGE MOTHERS who were somehow swindled/coerced into giving up their babies for adoption. I spend like a good 80% of these segments just openly weeping-- I can't help it if seeing a tough old guy tearing up over wanting to contact the daughter his estranged girlfriend ran away with in the forties' is like emotional quicksand for me. The updates where they find the people across decades and across the country KILL me... the one about the thirties' semi-orphans had the daughter of the foster father and the girl they fostered meeting as now-sixty-year-olds, and the one lady exclaims, "You still look like yourself!" Cue me just bawling. The idea of getting to see someone who meant so much to you that you took on a national search for them is so touching, and then the idea of someone before that reunion sitting at home, just minding their business, and then watching the episode and going "That's me! I'm the one they're looking for!"-- it's really something. "It meant so much that somebody out there was looking for me after all these years," is an oft repeated refrain from the reunited and the reunitees... it's so quaint to think that now, in five minutes in the Facebook searchbox, you can do what it took volunteer private detectives and a viewing audience of however million to accomplish thirty years ago.

"And so I told 'em...wait, the check didn't clear? There must be some kind of mistake!" --> flim flam man's oldest line in the book.
One neat aspect of the series coming back into syndication is that the producers have inserted updates where available-- so when the story ends and you go, "MAN, did they ever find the missing girl/murder suspect/lost friend/etc?", a lot of the time there's resolution in the form of a paragraph that includes information on developments in the ensuing decades since the show aired. This becomes kind of a problem for the inveterate bingewatcher like myself, though, in that I became dependent on the updates-- when you get to the end of a particularly gruesome murder or disappearance and there ISN'T an update, you feel like "What?! What do you mean they never found out who did it?!" I got so worked up I had to google the case of Angela Marie Hammond, who they still haven't found. I was sitting there with my socks up on the coffeetable like "THE BOYFRIEND DID IT, RIGHT? WAS IT THE BOYFRIEND?" And was very surprised when there were no answers to the many questions raised by the circumstances of her disappearance. One gets the impression from shows like Dateline and 20/20 that, ethical and moral beliefs aside and from a purely rational point of view, you should NEVER try and murder someone because 100% of the time you get caught. Except...those shows only use cases where people WERE caught, thus creating a beginning, middle, and end of the dramatic arc. The whole point of the crime portions of Unsolved Mysteries are that, uh, they were unsolved at the time...leaving some loose ends that continue on into the present day. The worst one I've seen so far was where a woman was looking for her husband, who had a concussion and disappeared a year earlier-- a stranger was interviewed who had seen the guy seeming disoriented on a bus and the trail went cold, but the wife never stopped posting flyers and looking for him. The update said they FOUND the guy two years later-- he had become an amnesiac after I think being mugged and hit over the head again in his concussed state...but when they reunited the couple, the guy didn't remember anything about their relationship and just went back to his normal life afterwards...can you imagine?! He was like, "Nah, you know, that was nice of you to look for me and all...but I'm kind of just happy like I am." This was all conveyed through two screens of text...if it were me, I would have done an entire new episode about this. But again! An embarrassment of riches here in terms of human interest stories.

Some of the updates are more straightforward than others.

Last but not least, I'm obsessed with the fashion/hair on a lot of the eyewitness interviewees-- as the late eighties and early nineties are the LAST VINTAGE TIME PERIODS I wasn't old enough to wear with any sort of agency as it happened, I'm weirdly savoring the 1990's-does-1940s Adrian shoulder pad, the art teacher style vest/collared shirt combos, and ALL THE EARRINGS. Think about how each of these people would have gone"Oooh, I'm gonna be on tv...what is my BEST outfit? How do I want my hair done? What will my makeup look like?" It's a great example of everyday Sunday-best fashion of the time on people that weren't celebrities.

This was a particularly good one for re-enactments and the story was NUTS. I wish I could figure out how to look it up. That guy was a con artist/psycho ex who had his former girlfriend shot when she was about to testify against him.

Sage advice AND my favorite review on the front page of Amason's customer reviews on the show
So! Talk to me, people-- what have you been watching lately? Do you have any non-guilty TV pleasures from a bygone age of channel surfing that have come back in recent years thanks to streaming services?

And don't forget to check out ALLLLLL the Unsolved Mysteries if you have Amazon Prime.

If you need me, I'll be watching the skies for unidentifiable light sources and unmarked helicopters. Have a great rest of your week! Talk again soon.

PS: Shout out to blog reader Jodi who I met at an estate sale this weekend-- thanks for saying hi! :)

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!

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!


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