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!

Image may contain: 2 people, baby
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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