Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More things I didn't buy: baby books and old undies

Even on half price day, I'm not buying your old slips and bras! I've got limits.

I didn't buy this totally rad midcentury hanging lamp because it was SOLD. Curses.

I didn't buy this vintage baby book because I already have plenty of vintage baby books and no babies to speak of. But it bums me out every time I see discarded memorabilia of this caliber. Seriously—no one in the family wanted this baby book with all the great ephemera (receipts for flowers sent to hospital, etc)? Tsk. Heartless savages.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Paperback of the week: Sniglets by Rich Hall

You know, there was a time when HBO was known as Home Box and it didn't feature lavishly expensive, highly addictive Sunday night soap operas for wine drinkers of a certain age, like me. Once upon a time, Home Box was an endearingly scrappy cable channel, primarily airing endless repeats of bad Goldie Hawn movies and Death Race 2000, with some quasi-original programming in between. I'm thinking Video Jukebox and Not Necessarily the News. The former was the 30-minute-long precursor to MTV; the latter was a TV-news parody comedy series loosely based on Britain's Not the 9 o'clock News, but funnier because it was about our news, and because it featured Rich Hall's "sniglets." Which my autocorrect keeps trying to spell as "singlets." If Rich Hall were still crafting sniglets, he'd probably come up with a good one for that.

I grabbed this book when I saw it at a recent estate sale though I must confess I've only flipped through it briefly (so hard to find just the right time to sit down and seriously peruse Sniglets!). But when I found this clip from Not Necessarily the News on YouTube, I'm not gonna lie—I was laffing out loud. It might be fair to say my humor has not evolved at all since the ’80s.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Is typing a lost art?

I took typing in high school. My teacher was a mincing version of Walter White crossed with Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. Maybe it was the glasses and the mustache. And this might be wishful thinking on my part, but I'm reasonably certain he wore plaid pants, and a yellow button-down with a green pullover sweater vest every single day. That's probably not true, but that's how I remember him. I also remember the way he would march up and down the classroom shouting out the home keys—"F! F! F! G! G! G!"—we were to strike without looking down at our hands. The sound of 20 typewriters typing at once; it was kind of awesome, like thunder. The faint tap-tap of touch-typing on a computer could never be so operatic.

I peaked at 70 words per minute, which is pretty damn good but when you consider that I was in a typing class every day, five days a week, for my entire junior year, maybe I should've been even better. Still, it was good enough to get me all kinds of offers at the major book-publishing houses after I graduated college. My fancy and very expensive college degree was what got my foot in the door at Human Resources, but it was my typing, a skill acquired at my small NJ public high school, that they were really interested in. I don't know what the interview process is like now, but back then, entry-level editorial assistant positions started at $14K and they made you take a typing test and sometimes a spelling test and that's all they needed to know about you because the truth was the job was secretarial though I guess you could move up after doing your time in the glorified typing pool. I imagine it being very much like the great Rona Jaffe novel The Best of Everything, and the even greater movie version starring Joan Crawford (see trailer below, though sadly the focus is on sex, not typing). Except when I was taking typing tests at Random House and HarperCollins, it was the 1990s, not the 1950s. So maybe it wasn't like that at all.

I never found out because I was lucky enough to answer a classified ad for a job that paid $17K and required no typing whatsoever, as an actual editorial assistant at a nursing magazine. I got my own office and shared a secretary with my bosses and she typed all the business letters on a typewriter while I clackety-clacked on an early word processor that wouldn't have looked out of place on the bridge of the Enterprise.

Anyway, I was reminded of the glamorous secretaries/junior editors in The Best of Everything when I found this supercute Smith-Corona Ten-Day Touch-Typing Course, which comes with a book and a set of 45s. I love the blissed-out expression on the model's face. She loves to learn about typing! As much as I venerate typewriters, I try to resist buying them—they are bulky dust-catchers and when it comes down to it, our hands have become soft and lazy over years of typing on neat little wireless keyboards so they're just not that fun to use. And yes, there's a great market for reselling typewriters to the hipster luddites of faraway Brooklyn, but the shipping is prohibitive. So I've limited myself to my precious Super G (which I wrote about here) and maybe there are one or two vintage typewriters languishing in the garage, waiting to be tidied up for resale.

The question is, do I save the typing course for my kids, or sell it? Do they still teach typing in public schools? I mean, it is still a pretty handy skill to have. They can't go through life two-finger texting everything. Can they?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More things I didn't buy, including a nude lady

In an effort to continue to please blog visitors looking for nude ladies, here is an oil painting of a lovely odalisque, which I did not buy because it was $800, it covered a whole wall and I didn't want it.

At this sale, the entire deck and backyard was awash with these clay pots, which I believe are called amphorae. It's what I imagine whole stretches of the bottom of the Aegean Sea must look like but that didn't make me want to buy them.

I did want this chair, though I've mentioned that my house has come to resemble the showroom for a weird chair factory, right? Still, it was only $50. $50! But this was one of the creepiest estate sales I've been to in a while...For starters, it was one of those "living" estate sales, an oxymoron for sure—if the owner is on site and haggling with customers, then it's not an estate sale. It's a garage/yard/house sale. Anyway.  This was a dirty, hoardy household and the owner was a weedy, skeevy fellow straight out of pedophile central casting—and unfortunately, my kids were with me, so the whole time, I was hissing, Don't touch that! Get away from there! Thinking they would be taking home pet bed bugs and maybe some of the moldy inspirational/religious posters the guy was pushing on them because they featured photos of fuzzy animals. Gah. By the time I noticed this rad chair, we were already halfway out the door. Too late.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The people have spoken: more retro nudie pinups

The Model, by Fritz Willis, published by Walter T. Foster. (Annoyingly undated, like all of them.)

In honor of my just realizing that May 4 marked the second anniversary of this blog, all this month, or hell, maybe just this week, I'm going to attempt to please you, my random readers, by revisiting some all-time favorite posts and/or by simply giving you more of what you seem—based on Blogger statistics—to want more than anything: pictures of nekkid ladies.

See, back in the dawn of time  (i.e., 2004), when I started my first blog, Blogger (neĆ© Blogspot) didn't helpfully crunch the numbers the way they do now. I was blissfully unaware of which of my posts attracted the most traffic, whence the traffic came, and by what combination of search terms said post was discovered and enjoyed.

Well, let's just say that this new feature has been quite enlightening. I did not realize how many people were googling "nude girls draw" or "drawing naked girls" or, my special favorite, "naked girl with guitar" and ending up at my humble blog. So pleased I could provide you all with an appropriate destination! (The naked guitar player can be found here if you missed her the first time around.) I also really enjoy the search key words that bring weary travelers to Thingummery, like "nude finnish men sauna," "70s wigs for women and dolls" and "Carol Burnett naked." Only one Thingummery post actually meets that search criteria—can you guess which?

One of the things I've learned over the two years I've been blogging about my stuff is just how popular Walter T. Foster art books—particularly those about nude girls and clowns—really are. They seriously deserve their own blog, or better still, tumblr, and if I can figure out how to pull off one devoted to Sad Nude Girl Clowns, I will.

Actually, that probably already exists. I'm not going to google it, though. Are you?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More things I didn't buy: Sassy Lady edition

I didn't buy this Sassy Lady All-Purpose Ultra-Suede Fringe because I am not crafty or sew-y or even fringy, but that's no excuse considering it was only a dollar. Shame on me.

I didn't buy this bizarre, accordion-style, collapsible bed even though it wouldn't look out of place in Game of Thrones and I heart Game of Thrones. It was billed as "one of a kind" (skeptical of that but certainly not something you'd see at The Mattress Firm or Ikea) and preposterously priced at $5,000 (or best offer). Think I can find cheaper ways of slicing off my digits.

Didn't buy this attractive set of Iroquois Casual China by Russel Wright because, as you know, I do not collect china. Disregard this post.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

If I could go to a library sale every week, I'd be a happy girl.

The Fireside Book of Children's Songs, 1966

Golden Book Illustrated Dictionary, set of six, 1961

Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert, New Directions, dust jacket by Alvin Lustig, 1944

Peyton Place, Dell Paperback, 1965

Skateboarding by Peter Arnold, 1978


Monday, May 6, 2013

Object lesson: Why do we buy what we buy?

Sorry, I made a reference to a pretty decent score over a month ago and I never followed up with what it was. This is what it was, a set of breakfast china, made in West Germany by Thomas for Rosenthal.

I mentioned I didn't want to start any new collections, right?

Well, I saw this set at a really fab sale in my hood and I thought it was so fetching. It has egg plates. Anything with egg plates or egg cups is aces in my book. I turned the pieces over to look at the mark and it said West Germany, which is always a good sign (predates the wall coming down, so it's at least a little bit vintage—though hell, that was 24 years ago, which doesn't seem that long ago. Sometimes I do forget that I am vintage; my memories tend to be hazy and glowy as if seen through Instagram filters).

Trouble was, I was already laden down with stuff to buy and it was the first day of the sale so—quelle horreur!—I was paying full price. I almost never pay full price. Thus I carefully put the egg plates back on the table and backed away slowly, despite the estate sale saleslady watching me and saying, "You're not going to buy those? But they're so precious!"

I know they're precious, woman! The colors! The stripes! The espresso cups! But I don't need another set of china. I have several yet we insist on eating off the boring casual-white Villeroy & Boch set we'd registered for when we got married 13 years ago, when we weren't so goddamned choosy and always overthinking our aesthetic choices the way we do now because....because... I've got too much time on my hands? And I think it's fun?

So I paid for everything else and hightailed it out of there, thinking I would return on the following discount days and try to buy the china I totally didn't need and wouldn't want to sell cuz there's no room in my booth/stall for that sort of thing and I can't be bothered with all the bubble wrap and peanuts that must be involved with selling such an item online.

But while I was killing the last hour I had before picking up my kids from school and getting sucked into the post-3 o'clock vortex that is chauffeuring them from activity to activity, I started googling the Thomas for Rosenthal china, in an unhealthy, obsessive way. I learned that Rosenthal is a venerable porcelain company in Bavaria, which has been around since the late 19th century, and that Thomas merged with them in the 1960s. I only found a couple pieces from this line for sale—and they weren't crazy expensive though it was obvious they were priced well below market value at the estate sale... Which made me want to get them. ASAP. But why? If I wasn't going to use them or sell them or even necessarily make room in the Danish modern china hutch to display them properly. WHY?

Then the coup de grace: Following some link from some European etsy seller to some Wikipedia entry (neither of which I can now find), I discovered that this particular set of china was purportedly designed by a Swedish woman of some renown in midcentury-Scandinavian-loving circles and even though I had never heard of her and was not familiar with her work and even now can't remember her name, I had to go back and buy the china. For full price. Which is what I did, managing to only be a few minutes late for school pickup.

The estate sale ladies didn't seem surprised to see me back, even though I seemed to think it was necessary to explain why it was so easy for me to drop by again ("Oh, you know, I live in the neighborhood and the house is on the way to my kids' school—no big deal!"). I'm not crazy.

This is when estate sales are bad news: When they make you want what you never knew you wanted and if you hadn't gone you never would have known you wanted it. Ignorance is bliss, and then it isn't.

That much I've learned after two years of blogging about my stuff (hey, happy anniversary, blog!): If an object has a story behind it—the story of how it was made or how it came to be possessed—then it becomes that much more irresistible.

Where is the irresistible china now? I managed to make room for it in the kitchen cabinet, two shelves above the Villeroy & Boch, just out of comfortable reach. I plan to boil an egg very soon.
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