Tuesday, July 16, 2013


The gay classic Hollywood columnist blogosphere told me it's Stanwyck's birthday today.

She is my favorite female actor of all time.  She is always interesting, always impressive, always good.  In her early movies, she stands out like a beacon amid a bunch of cardboardy jokers.  I had to buy the second TCM collection of pre-code movies because Baby Face was on it.  Baby Face was one of her earlier films about a young girl who learns to use her charm and sexuality to get what she wants in 1930s corporate America.  The decision to do so arose from coachings by a grouchy old man who reads lines to her from Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil.  Amusing.

With John Wayne in Baby Face.  In 1930, he was just another nobody dude in eyeshadow.

She's unique for this era with her strange little lisp and the believable street savvy that bleeds into every role.  Usually for this time, girls from the other side of the tracks get some attention, but they never win.  And even when Stanwyck doesn't win, she's still somehow the authority.  When she makes some sarcastic crack, you know she has somehow lived that moment before.  And she probably did.  Orphaned at a young age, Barbara, or Ruby as she was called then, was a Brooklyn street urchin who worked her way from shitty menial jobs into a graveyard shift as a chorus girl.  At this point, she believed she had arrived.  All she wanted, she said, was to be able to eat and wear a nice coat.

Shortly thereafter, she caught the eye of some casting agents in the late 1920s, and acted in a bunch of slightly crappy/slightly awesome pre-code movies like Baby Face before killing it in Stella Dallas.  She acted for decades afterward, well into her middle age, which few of her contemporaries managed or were willing to do.  Tabloid notes: she hooked up with Robert Wagner when he was 22 and she was 45.  bang!  She was also a particular fan of Ayn Rand, which I assume is partly resultant of her hardscrabble early life and successful end.  People who have that experience so often come to think that life is a one way rodent maze, and they figured it out.  Formulaic, as though it's foolproof to simply "work hard," and those who have not made it have simply not tried.  Foolish, but we let it slide.  For her.  No one else.

I like that her self-confidence is palpable and natural.  It's there in every character.  She always seems to be in her own environment.  This is somewhat uncommon, but the common characteristic of this quality is that it draws attention like a magnet.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oh tile.

I love vintage tile.  I feel like I'm in the wrong trade these days.  Social service nonprofits are nice and all, but wouldn't I be happier doing historic home renovations?  Probably like 70%.

Anyway.  This site warms my frigid heart, and I am so amused and pleased that it exists:  http://savethepinkbathrooms.com

Summarized, this is a site that says (in a nice-person way), hey fuckers, totally stop demoing your historic bathrooms, and consider growing some taste!  Then it surmises that Mamie Eisenhower started the trend that resulted in a zillion post-war bathrooms being tiled in pink.  All tile colors are delightful (almost), but pink seems to be more likely to be torn out than others.

The grail, of course, is finding a bathroom with matching tub, sink, toilet and tile.  These are usually American Standard fixtures, and they are so beautiful.  How could anyone dislike that?  How could you possibly remove that to replace it with a plastic Home Depot vanity in "sand," and some other ugly shit?

My bathroom counter features some well-worn 1950 pink & black tile, but the shower tiles have been replaced with modern white tiles.  blerg.

Isn't it perfect?  Isn't it hilarious that I'm going to paint the vanity base pink?  Trust me, it's gonna work.

Green with pink.  Perfect.  PERFECT.  I don't think that pink is an original color (or size) but whatever, THE SINK!


Green on green, nice.

Hex tiles on the counter.

And hex on the floor, my favorite.

So anyway.  All good houses still have their own tile.  Failing that, you can buy new old tile and put it back in if it didn't survive the decades.  People who tear this tile out are my enemies.  I don't care if it's cracked, pitted, and faded, you deal with it.  Or you replace individual tiles.  Last year, my grandmother let a tenant tear out the original 1954 tiles in the kitchen of her rental, and I almost slapped an old woman.  He replaced it with some 12" ceramic floor tiles.  I don't even have the words.

Corner sink!

Edited to add: Seriously, I never see these sinks with the spindly metal legs, like ever.  They must have been disasters in practice.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Photos by Flickr user Howzey!

This can't be real.  It's too perfect. STAGED I SAY.  I just love that exposed wood lath when plaster falls away.

I can't live anymore.



It's all so Grey Gardens, 10 Years Later.

This reminded me of a hideous old house I visited when I was still apparently confused enough to consider purchasing a house in Phoenix.  (I'm moving in 10 mos or a year or something. Bye-)  I visited it twice just because I loved seeing it, even though it was much too destroyed to consider.  It wasn't worth it like all the structures above.  It was just a little early 50s ranch that had been time capsuled and then abandoned.  I decided to look in my other old blog to see what I had written about it.  Also, I guess sometimes capitalizing takes too much time?

"though the absurdly high price paired with the extreme state of dereliction instantly ruled it out as a prospect, i forwarded the link to my realtor anyway.  it is in a very picturesque state of decay and i wanted to see the inside. 

it is entirely salmon, everything is the same color.  the brick, the porch, the doors, the windows, the carport.  when we entered, i saw that the drapes were curiously still intact.  heavy, fancy silk sitting room drapes, full of forty years of sun, looking like they'd crumble if touched.  the drapes, walls, floors and ceiling were all coated in thick cobwebs.  i've never seen them so...hangy, so thick.  i walked around to the kitchen and was almost afraid to walk in.  the cobwebs were much worse in there.  what used to be a vent above the stove in the ceiling was now just a roughened, black hole.  the wallpaper was 1950s, floral, teals and greens, distended and puffy.  the requisite precious blue and yellow tiled counters.  intimidated by the narrow hallway from the kitchen, i went back through the living room to the bedrooms.  i felt like anything could jump out at or fall on me.

the first one indicated some severe settling of the house, or genuine movement of the earth underneath.  you could see daylight through the cracks torn in the bricks.  the old paint was peeling and falling down in long, wide  sheaths. the next bedroom featured a 6" hole in the pink ceiling, the edges corroded and softened by rushing water.  i'm sure plenty of friday's rain freshened that room.  the bathroom was cramped, with gaudy 1950s sconces placed on each side of the large, dusty mirror.  more of the tile countertops i miss.  pretty, narrow old doors with dented, dusky bronze knobs. 

the realtor, of course, was having fits, bitching and complaining the whole time about having to go inside.  ah, i hate him."

I'm sure it's still empty.  A wreck in bad neighborhood like that can't possibly seem worth renovation to anyone here.  Can't quite remember where it was.  I wish I had taken photos!

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Absolutely Fabulous was a staple of my tween years and I do partially blame it for the person I have become.  In a good way, of course.  It's something I can watch over and over, and I am always annoyed when people don't get references to it.  What's the best response to a friend having a pregnancy scare?   "Bring me...A KNITTING NEEDLE!"  Or not, maybe not the best response, but certainly the funniest.  Look, I'm not a life coach.  But I definitely should be.

Comedy Central was so much better, then.  I need to watch some Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gentle people music

I guess I uploaded all these songs at the same time into 8tracks and forgot about them.  So now they're a mix, because a theme was observed.  Get out your notebooks and Sylvia Plath bookmarks!  It's time to write some moody journal entries!

But then I intentionally made another mix, or tried to until I was foiled by the ridiculous legal jive of record companies that won't allow me to upload more than 2 Glenn Miller songs into one playlist.  Really, dicks?  Laying the hammer down on all those people who want to pirate obscure swing jams that only dead people remember.  Got it.

So that mix is minus 5 other songs that I wanted because Glenn Miller had such an array of accompanying artists that no song is remotely the same, and they are all required.  FINE.  I'LL SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY I GUESS.

It's still all right.  Muffled trombones and moody jazz music are comforting to me.  Highlights: Peggy Lee, young Sinatra.  I never was a Sinatra fan until I heard his very early recordings. Those are why he's great, not the loungey stuff he recorded in the 50s and 60s.  The later stuff isn't bad, but the early early stuff, when he's still that narrow-faced kid, is kind of amazing when you haven't heard it before.

I'm getting these out of the way so I can make the mix I really want: 12 different covers of the lullaby from Rosemary's Baby.  Oh, trust.  That is real.