Monday, June 30, 2014

Music Monday - "Be Near Me" by ABC (1985)

"Be Near Me" by ABC always reminds me of my college years.  It is basically a song about yearning, and it is really lovely.  This was the second release from British band ABC's 1985 album How to be a ... Zillionaire!  Listen to this video from the show Solid Gold and travel back to the 1980's with me ...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Faves - The New York World's Fair and Frozen Fruit Bars

My first Friday Fave this week is an amazing iPad app, available at iTunes:  NYPL Biblion:  World's Fair.  This free app is all about the 1939 New York World's Fair.  The app was constructed by the New York Public Library and it is beautifully done.  History, art, architecture, popular culture -- it is all here.  I have just started playing with this app and enjoy it so much.  I hope you do, too!  (Pictured above:  the Futurama exhibit from the 1939 New York World's Fair.)
My second fave (and new discovery here):   Edy's Outshine Fruit Bars.  They are all natural frozen fruit juice bars and absolutely delicious.  Perfect for a summer snack!   It's been so hot and humid here this summer.  I am craving a grape juice Fruit Bar right now.  :-)

Wishing you a fun weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance: Top 20 Announced

This week's So You Think You Can Dance was action packed.  The judging panel included Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Adam Shankman (one of my favorite judges), Twitch (one of my favorite SYTYCD alumni), ice skater Tara Lipinski and American Ballet Theatre prima ballerina Irina Dvorovenko.

The dancers all had a short solo dance (without judges' comments), followed by choreography in different styles:   Hip Hop (choreographed by Christopher Scott), Jazz (Sonya Tayeh), Ballroom (Dimitri and Anya), Contemporary (Travis Wall), and Group Round (choreographed by the competing dancers as a collective effort).  This was followed by another solo dance.

The pace was fast and fan favorites left early.  I was sorry to see Marie Poppins (European popper) and Caleb Brauner (quirky contemporary dancer) cut early during the choreography process.  

The show was so fast paced that I found it hard to keep up!  I wish the callbacks had been the full two hours with another two hour show announcing the top 20 and providing a showcase for their dancing so we could have gotten to know them better.

The top 20 was announced:

Bridget Whitman, Contemporary
Brooklyn Fullmer, Latin Ballroom
Carly Blaney, Contemporary
Casey Askew, Contemporary
Emilio Dosal, Popping
Emily James, Contemporary
Jacque Lewarne, Ballet
Jessica Richens, Jazz
Jourdan Epstein, Ballet
Malene Ostergaard, Ballroom
Marcquet Hill, Latin Ballroom
Nick Garcia, Latin Ballroom
Ricky Ubeda, Contemporary
Rudy Abreu, Contemporary
Serge Onik, Latin Ballroom
Stanley Glover, Contemporary
Tanisha Belnap, Ballroom
Teddy Coffey, Hip Hop
Valerie Rockey, Tap
Zack Everhart, Tap 

I was sorry to see Ja Ja (popper) and Johnny Wacks (wack style street dancer) cut.  That said, I think this is a very strong Top 20.  The standout for me is Ricky Ubeda, who has talent and personality to spare;  he is just a star on the stage.  I also really like Malene Ostergaard (ballroom), Marcquet Hill (ballroom), Stanley Glover (contemporary), and Valerie Rockey (tap).

Next week will be the first live competition show.  I'm really looking forward to it.  What did you think of last night's show and the Top 20 announcement?  Do you have any favorites going into the competition?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Music Monday - "You and Me" by Penny and the Quarters

I just discovered "You and Me" by Penny and the Quarters, and I cannot stop playing it.  Here's how it happened:  I was out yard saling with my friend Dave.  We were taking a break and he mentioned this song, which he had just discovered on AM 1690.  (1690 "The Voice of the Arts" is a great radio station - the most diverse playlist ever.  They stream online and are available on TuneIn radio. Check them out!)  Dave had the song on his phone, so we passed it back and forth, like an old fashioned transistor radio, listening to this song.  

"You and Me" was recorded as a demo record between 1970 - 1975 at Harmonic Sounds Studio.   It has a sort of dimestore recording booth sound.  The vocals, by teenage singers, are amazing.  The song is sung by Jay Robinson (lead male) and Nannie Sharp (lead female, pictured above).  This song was not released until 2006, when the contents of the recording studio were sold.   "You and Me" was released by an archival recording company that releases lost soul music songs.  Actor Ryan Gosling heard it and liked it so much that he suggested this song for the soundtrack of Blue Valentine.   

I really love this song and think it is a treasure.  I hope you do, too!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Fave - Bonanza: The Site, Not the Show!

I was a little girl during the time of Bonanza, a long-running western starring Lorne Greene, Pernell Roberts, Dan Blocker, and Michael Landon.  The show was fun, although we were not huge fans of westerns in my family.  The Bonanza I'm recommending today is not the retro tv show, but the site.

Bonanza is a great site and one that fans of vintage, handmade, and online selling/buying will enjoy.  It is a beautifully designed site.  You'll see a rotating hand-picked list on the front page.  If you click on Community (top of the screen), you'll find a friendly and vibrant community of vintage sellers and buyers.

I have sold at Bonanza for a while.  It is super easy to import eBay items (takes about 10 minutes a week).  Listing there is free (!), and end fees are reasonable.  The customer service at this site is friendly, responsive via email, and helpful.  I've also purchased at Bonanza, with positive experiences.  Sellers at this site tend to love it and have a great enthusiasm for the venue.

You can find my Bonanza booth (store) here:  Birdhouse Books on Bonanza.  I love the store layout, and the little "chat" box on each store page.   

Of course, you'll also find the cute little vintage cowgirl Valentine on Bonanza as well!

Hope you enjoy exploring Bonanza!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance: Atlanta Auditions

So You Think You Can Dance showed Atlanta auditions this week!   This is always fun to watch;  I enjoy looking for local landmarks.  Last night we saw the Fox Theatre, the Swan House, Piedmont Park, the Olympic Rings fountain, a MARTA train, and lots of good dancing!

The judges were Lil Buck and Jenna Dewan Tatum (pictured above).  They joined regulars Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe.

Highlights from last night's show included:

Mariah - a jazz dancer with a bubbly personality and dance that included a sense of fun.

Kelly Mac Coy - another jazz dancer from a performing family.  There was a silly, cheesy video about her background, including her mother's appearance years ago on The Love Boat.  

Ricky Ubeda - my favorite dancer of the night!  Ricky is a contemporary dancer from Miami. He is CUTE (girls will love him) and has a charming personality.  His leaps and elevation were amazing.

Marissa Milele - the "Princess Warrior" - a powerful dancer, although her performance resembled a great gymnastics floor routine.

Angelina Granitz - a contemporary dancer who was inspired by her older brother.  She has an odd, deadpan personality but is a very talented dancer.

Christina Moye-Palacios - a contemporary dancer inspired by her younger brother, who has many serious health challenges.  Her dance was contemporary with a bit of ballet (nice extensions and lines).

On the down side, there was a belligerent dancer who couldn't take criticism (Brandon "Sideshow" from Dragon House), lots of long auditions, several dancers wearing striped hammer pants (shades of the 1980's, yikes!), and (yawn) another Justin Bieber segment.   (Please, show, finish up this dance crew business and remove Justin Bieber from my tv screen!)

Next week is in California and features callbacks.  By the end of the show we will meet the Top 20.  I can't wait!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Music Monday - "You're Gonna Miss Me" - 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

I love retro garage rock.  "You're Gonna Miss Me" by 13th Floor Elevators is one of my favorite 1960's garage rock songs.  It was recorded in 1966, and the fun video below was featured on Dick Clark's California series Where the Action Is.  This is one of those songs that I hear and can't get out of my head for a day or two after!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Fave - How to Date Stamped Postcards and Envelopes

Hi vintage friends!

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I love vintage ephemera, including Roadside Americana postcards.  I always look through boxes of postcards at estate sales, flea markets, antique shows -- and enjoy selling them in my store's postcard department.

Often the postcards have a clear postmark, like the 1942 above.  That is great!   We now know an exact date of the card.

However, I frequently find postcards and envelopes with a smudged or illegible postmark.  How to date that card?   It's easy with The History of Postage Rates, a great website resource for ephemera fans.   You can look at the postage stamp and get an idea of the card's date using the chart at the site.  For instance, if you had a postcard with a 4 cent stamp, you could check the chart and see that this card was sent between 1963 - 1968.  

Pretty neat, huh?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance: Los Angeles and Philadelphia Auditions

So You Think You Can Dance aired auditions from Los Angeles and Philadelphia this week.

The guest judges were Christina Applegate (in Los Angeles), and in Philadelphia, Misty Copeland (American Ballet Theatre prima ballerina - pictured above with Mary Murphy and Nigel Lythgoe) and Billy Porter (star of Kinky Boots on Broadway).

This audition show felt long to me for some reason.  Maybe a little too much contemporary dance emoting for my taste.   There were some great dancers, though!   They included:

Johnny "Waacks" Gibson - a returning dancer who auditioned in Season 9.  He does a form of street dance called waacking.  He was sent on to choreography, where he received a ticket to Hollywood.

Malene and Armen - ballroom dancers.   Malene is a beautiful dancer, but she has struggled with depression.  Armen appeared on the show last year but dropped his partner and was dismissed during Hollywood week.   They were amazing - great chemistry!  He reminded me a bit of Maksim Chmerkovskiy from Dancing with the Stars.

Amir Sanders - the "funky ballerina," as she called herself.  Amir was classically trained at the Dance Theatre of Harlem.  She brought some funk to her ballet audition -- and was easily my favorite dancer of the night.   The judges sent her to choreo, which really surprised me, since she has such strong training.  However, she got a ticket to Hollywood after choreography, so all is good!

Landon Anderson - a ballroom dancer who auditioned with Jenna Johnson, who danced in last year's competition.  He looks like an "aw shucks!" young Ron Howard, but danced with lots of power.  He went through, and Jenna also got an invite to be an  All-Star on the show this year.  

Stanley Glover - a contemporary dancer with a sad back story.  His mother died when he was 4 years old, and he was shuffled around until he found a loving home with a family friend.  Stanley danced a fun and creative contemporary number where he portrayed a mysterious creature.   He was offbeat and fun, and his choreography was terrific!  His dancing reminded me a bit of former contestant Mark Kanemura.

Next week the show will be in my hometown of Atlanta.  I can't wait! 

Did you watch last night?  Do you have favorites, or any thoughts about the show you'd like to share?  I hope you'll leave a comment below.

These Are The DSRs Of Our Lives: Birdhouse Books Loves Vintage Books and Pretty Paper

Hi all!   

I was a guest blogger at These Are the DSRs of Our Lives today, and wrote a little blog article about my shop - with lots of links and fun vintage photos!   I thought you might enjoy it too.

These Are The DSRs Of Our Lives: Birdhouse Books Loves Vintage Books and Pretty Paper

Pictured above:  Old Bones the Wonder Horse, a vintage Scholastic book by Mildred Mastin Pace.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Music Monday - "Break Away" by The Beach Boys (1969)

My Music Monday song is "Break Away" by the Beach Boys because this song has been stuck in my head the past couple of days.  I love the Beach Boys' music.  Their songs always remind me of summer.  "Break Away" was written by Brian Wilson and his father, Murry;   Brian said it was inspired by the Monkees.  It was recorded in 1969, so it is a later period Beach Boys song.  I remember this song from the Spirit of America record album (1975).  I played that album, and Endless Summer, over and over and over as a teen.

What Beach Boys songs are your favorites?  I would love to hear from you in the comments section, below.   

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Almost-Great Gatsby: A Mini Movie Review

The Great Gatsby is my favorite classic novel.  It is also the first classic novel I ever read, in 8th grade.  The Robert Redford movie had been released a while before, and I was obsessed with the movie adaptation too.

I resisted the 2013 Baz Luhrmann adaptation for a while, but finally rented it and watched this weekend.  I was very wary of the movie because of the modern music and CGI involved.  To my surprise, this Gatsby was not what I expected.

I had two issues with this adaptation.  The first was the "Nick in a sanitorium" framework, so different from the novel.  I think this framework was unnecessary and detracted from the film.  The story is compelling on its own and did not need this artifical device.

Second, the fling that Nick and Jordan had was important to the narrative, and this was left completely out of the 2013 film.  Nick and Jordan could have met and exchanged pleasantries at a DMV office for all the passion and chemistry they shared.  

There were some things I really liked about this adaptation, though.  I loved the period detail, especially the costuming and the sets.  Gatsby's house was spectacular, beginning with the ride in through arched trees.

I really liked Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby.  Robert Redford did a fine job in the 1970's version, but he was a bit too perfect.  Even as a young teenager it baffled me that Daisy would choose Bruce Dern over Robert Redford.  DiCaprio was more human, more energetic;  I believed that he "owned drugstores" and was involved in some mysterious, nefarious activity.  His look was right for the part too.  I believed that he grew up in a poor family and was a self-made man.

I also liked Carey Mulligan as Daisy.  Again, I liked Mia Farrow in the original, but she was a very languorous Daisy.  Carey Mulligan was younger and more of a flapper.  She seemed impulsive as opposed to Farrow's softer and more dream-like Daisy.

Other standout performances in this film were Joel Edgerton, who brought Tom Buchanan to life as a vital and brutish man, and Isla Fisher as Myrtle, his mistress.

I also liked the Jazz Age energy of this production.  I do think the CGI was overdone, and frankly nothing can compete with Nelson Riddle's original 1970's score.  (I did not care for the modern music, although it was less jarring than expected.)  However, the pace was brisk and suited the 1920's storyline.
All said, I would recommend this movie for fans of the novel -- and I would love to hear what you thought of it in the comments section below.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Faves: Jazz Apps for Phone or Tablet

I love jazz.  I grew up with it.  My father was a big jazz fan, and my parents had jazz records and played them on the hi-fi when I was little.  This music is still comfort food to me, and I listen to it often, especially on Real Jazz (XM Radio), NPR - especially Riverwalk Jazz, and WCLK (local Atlanta jazz station).

I was delighted to find two great jazz apps for phone or tablet.

The first is JazzBird, and it is an app developed by Jazz Boston.  It is available as an app on iTunes and Google Play.   You will find a wide range of jazz stations to play via radio on your phone or tablet.  I have JazzBird Lite (free) installed on my iPad.  It is great except you can't play music in the background as your surf the web, read email, etc.  I am assuming this functionality exists in the paid version, but I haven't tried that yet.

The other app is JazzRadio.  It is free and available in iTunes, Google Play, and Blackberry World.  My beloved phone is a Blackberry, so I was especially excited to find this app!   JazzRadio has a huge range of channels, each focusing on a different type of jazz.  A few of my favorites include:  Classic Jazz, Cool Jazz, and Vocal Legends.  This app does play in the background while you do other things on your tablet.  I just found it and have listened so much this past week!

I hope you enjoy these apps as much as I do!

Pictured above:  the incomparable Louis Armstrong.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

So You Think You Can Dance: Chicago and Los Angeles Audtions

So You Think You Can Dance offered a wealth of talent in the Chicago and Los Angeles auditions this week.

We started the night in Chicago.  The guest judge was Fabrice Calmels from the Joffrey Ballet.  My, he's handsome (and a charming, articulate judge as well).

Highlights from the Chicago auditions included:

The Puppet, Paul Brushaber.  The Puppet is an animator, and his dancing was really unique.  He really did look like a puppet on stage. 

Franchesa Bass.  Franchesa is a contemporary dancer who has Alopecia.  Her dance had an otherworldly, alien quality, and was very unique.

Janna Scaccia.  Janna is a ballet dancer and she is a trainee at the Joffrey.  She idolizes Fabrice.   I love ballet and am always delighted to see ballet dancers on the show.

The show then moved to Los Angeles.  The guest judge was Christina Applegate.  She and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are my favorite celebrity judges.  Christina is always bright and funny, and seems to have a lot of heart.

Los Angeles offered some strong moments including:

Jessica Richens dancing to a jazzy "This is a Man's World."  I liked her dance better when I first watched it.  After some thought, I think she had a bit too much hairography and attitude to supplement the actual dancing.

Valerie Rockey tapping to "I'm Movin' On."  I love tap!  She seemed to really take joy in dancing.  She went to choreography, but got a ticket to Hollywood there.

Kyle Taylor, a 28 year old mechanic from Wichita, Kansas, is a popper.  He danced and had a dance off with visiting SYTYCD alumni Fik-Shun, Cyrus, and Legacy.   Kyle is untrained, but loves to dance.  The dance off was a great moment.  He moved on to choreography, but bowed out after trying to partner there.

Deise and Mauricio are ballet dancers in love.  They danced a lovely number together.  Deise is particularly strong, and was the focal point of the dance.

Hailee Payne is a jazz/funk dancer.  She looks a lot like Miley Cyrus, with short punk blonde hair.   She is a good dancer but I think her very big personality may wear thin over the course of the show, if she continues on.

Sebastian Serra is a returning auditioner.  He is a ballet dancer with big, bold moves.  I loved seeing him travel the stage as he danced.

Dani Platz is a contemporary dancer.  She has struggled with an eating disorder, and danced a number full of emotion that moved Mary and Christina.  Mary Murphy commented that dance is "like oxygen for the soul."  Dani moved on to choreography and got a ticket to Hollywood.

The final dancer for the night was Marie Poppins (pictured above).  She is a popper from France.  She did an elegant and rather lyrical dance to one of my favorite songs, "Smooth Operator" by Sade.  As she danced out toward the judges, Fik-Shun got up and joined her and they did an impromptu dance together on stage.   This was definitely the highlight of the show to me -- great fun!

Did you watch SYTYCD last night?  Do you have any favorites from the night?  I would love to read your comments, below.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Vintage Postcard Giveaway at Birdhouse Books (ends Tues. 6/10)

I love, love, love vintage postcards!   I have a small collection of vintage dachshund postcards, and also a few postcards from favorite family vacation destinations from my childhood.

Vintage postcards are fun to collect, to frame, to save in a decorative box, or to give for a unique, thoughtful gift (framed or tucked into a special greeting card).

This love of vintage postcards led me to open a postcard department in my store, Birdhouse Books.  I have cards featuring dogs, cats, Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, and lots of Roadside Americana (motels, restaurants, stores, amusement parks).   The postcard above features a swimming pool at the Carriage House Resort motel in Deerfield Beach, Florida.   This looks exactly like motels I remember staying at during my childhood!

I'm hosting a vintage postcard giveaway on my blog.   It's easy to enter with the Rafflecopter form below.  The contest will end on Tuesday, June 10, at 11:59 PM.  On Wednesday, June 11 I will use Rafflecopter to randomly draw a winner.   The winner will receive a vintage postcard valued under $10 from my shop.  (Winner selects their favorite postcard in this range.)   You'll see all the great cards in this price range here:  vintage postcards at Birdhouse Books.    

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 2, 2014

Music Monday - "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac (1975)

It's Music Monday!  My song this week is "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac (1975).  Stevie Nicks wrote this song when she was trying to decide whether to stay with the group or go back to school.  I love the music and the lyrics, and it has been stuck in my head for the last day or two.  Good songs have a way of doing that!   By the way, I love the later covers of this song by the Dixie Chicks and the version performed on Glee (Naya Rivera) -- but nothing compares to the original for me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Happy 17th Birthday to Dachshund Barney Fife!

My beloved dachshund, Barney Fife, is 17 years old today!   I adopted him from a dachshund rescue group when he was 1.  He has been a delight from the very start - sweet, loving, and "practically perfect in every way" (to borrow a turn of phrase from Mary Poppins).  He is having a fun day with lots of extra attention!