Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Halloween Parade

Saturday, October 27, was the day that everything happened.  Every Halloween party on the face of the earth was that day and unfortunately, we weren't able to attend them all because we had a parade to go to!  

Every year for the past 88 years, a major thoroughfare in Anaheim, CA has been closed to traffic so spooks and ghouls can haunt the residents of that community.  Fortunately, our pals Bob and Amber live on the very street where the parade is held so we get front row seats.  Unfortunately, as you are well aware, I am terrible with photography, so my photos of said parade are pretty awful (I choose to believe some evil spirit overtook my camera).

Bobby, Amber, Emily, and Jesse
Front row seats are the best for heckling!!!

Usually, Amber and Bob's parade festivities include elaborate costumes and hordes of revelers.  They, however, were making preparations for their Australian musical debut, so the action was relatively low key.  Food is never left out of the equation.

Amber's bacon-wrapped mummy dogs and
my nothing-to-do-with-Halloween-whatsoever pesto canapes.

The parade is the perfect example of small-town American spirit still thriving.  Even though Anaheim is a bustling center of industry and tourism, its residents haven't neglected their heritage and the parade teems with old-timey charm and all the usual suspects.

The Boy Scouts

The Mounted Police

Low-Riders and marching bands

Classic automobiles

And The Shriners!
When was the last time that you went to a parade where they still
had Shriners in mini-cars?  Even though the photo is blurry, this is by far
my favorite part of the parade. 

They also have an organ-mobile!!!
A Shriner is on board playing a pipe organ/calliope - INCREDIBLE!!!

This year we had a vested interest in the parade.  Mary took part in The Anaheim Historical Society's parade entry; based on a photograph from the parade in 1953, they recreated "The Flying Sasser!"

The original Flying Sasser - a sassy saucer piloted by juvenile space cadets.

Mary prepping for show time in Bob & Amber's spacey, atomic living room.

Kevin & Mary and the 2012 Flying Sasser

Mary's costume is based on another parade photo circa '53.
Female residents of Anaheim as auxiliary members of the Flying Sasser team.

Mary & Amber
I guess it's true - Mars needs Women!!!

I apologize for the crummy photos.  Maybe one day, I'll figure out the settings on my camera (but probably not).  Until then, I hope you have a very safe and very HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!  Stay tuned for our next Halloween post - the costumes!!!

And as I can't let you get away without some mandatory Halloween viewing here is "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" as performed by Bing Crosby.


Mr. Tiny

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Star-Studded, Desert Wedding

For someone who hates to be hot, it makes very little sense that I am absolutely wild about the desert.  

Until one sees the stunning vistas, then it makes all the sense in the world.

Also, people aren't kidding when they talk about "dry heat" versus humid/sticky heat; there is a noticeable difference - like clinical-strength antiperspirant not being a necessity, for example.  More importantly, there is an atmosphere in the desert that is so uniquely serene and magical that I always jump at the chance to go out and explore its many wonders.  When we received an invitation to a wedding in the desert, we were excited.  When we saw that it was to be the wedding of our friends, Jodi and Swimmy, we were thrilled.

Our journey necessitated us passing through Cabazon.
It will be a cold day in hell Death Valley when Mr. Tiny doesn't
stop to commune with the Cabazon Dinosaurs.

If you've never been to see The Cabazon Dinosaurs, you need to change your schedule and go; it is a wacky tacky must!  The area around them has been built up since the filming of Pee Wee's Big Adventure, but fortunately the Wheel Inn, the truck stop diner that is also featured in the film is still serving great food and homemade salad dressings.

The staff at the Wheel Inn is very nice.
Is it strange that every time we come in, they know why we are there?
"He sat in that stool," they say as we make our way to the bar to plant
ourselves where Pee Wee sat.

I always want to take a souvenir home with me but they're not selling
the spaghetti globe lamps that hang over the counter.

There is no end to great photo-ops out that way.
Mary wore a two-piece squaw dress that looked cool
 against the desert brown stripes and it picked up the
colors of the totem pole. 

We met up with Nick and Cynthia at the Wheel Inn so we could caravan out to the wedding site.  We tried to test out the old TESTO machine but... wouldn't take Nick's nickel.
Our next stop was the site of the wedding, The Shangri-La Cabin, in Joshua Tree.  Have you ever been on the Indian Jones ride at Disneyland?  That is nothing compared to the rutted, uneven, unpaved, dirt road we had to take out to the wedding.  I had never realized the level to which I had taken paved roads for granted until that night.  Driving past spooky hillbillies along the way, the wacky wagon nearly shook itself apart.  In the blackness of the desert past sundown, we were convinced that we were unintentionally cast in a horror movie.  When we finally found the Shangri-La Cabin, I knew the blessed relief the Israelites must've felt after those forty years.

The wedding site was awesome and the ceremony didn't disappoint.  Really, it was everything a wedding should be - romantic, funny, intimate, personal, and fun.  

The gorgeous bride in her custom-made gown.

Jodi and Swimmy were hoisted on chairs as the guests danced the Hora.

The ceremony and reception were held outside under a firmament filled with the brightest stars.  Living in an area suffering from the worst in light pollution, I had forgotten all about stars (seriously, we can see one or two on a good night).  The night sky was beautiful, the music was awesome ( I spent the entire night dancing), and there was a swing set!!!

The desert sky was so big and so close, it felt like we
were "Swingin' on a Star."

We even got to meet our blogging buddy,
Crystal Lee, of Nakedcowgirl Vintage.

I was having so much fun that I failed to get a picture of the delicious wedding cake - a giant corndog!

Cynthia, Mr. Tiny, Jodi, and Nick
Of course I waited to get a picture until the end of the night
when we were untucked, tired from dancing, and stuffed with cake,
 but that doesn't matter because...

Congratulations to Jodi and Swimmy!  You guys are a perfect couple (notice I didn't say a couple of what).  Thank you for including us in your special night and your awesome party!  We expect to be on the guest list for the 50th Anniversary party!


Mr. Tiny

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oh, You Beautiful Doll!

In a post about dolls, it just seemed a little too obvious to use the only tolerable version of "Hello, Dolly!" known to man.  Leave it to Mr. Armstrong to make "tolerable" downright blissful!!!

"Hello, Dolly!" - Louis Armstrong

It used to be so that one had to become an action star in a summer blockbuster before one could be immortalized in the form of a doll.  Now all it takes it having a thoughtful friend of the most creative type, who uses her skills to create incredible works of art.

Do you remember this outfit?
Although, it is the one of the very few things Mary wore
at VLV that I did NOT make; I did style it, and apparently,
it created a lasting impression.

So much so, that one of Mary's friends, Al Kray, created this
handmade doll!!  Pretty unbelievable, right?!?!

Al Kray, is an artist living and creating in Canada.  She works in media ranging from fabric to acrylics to papier-mache.  If you follow her blog, you know that mini-Mary is just one fine example of her work.

Here, the artist presents the sculpture she created of
Wanda Jackson to the real, live, Fujiyama Mama, herself.
(photo courtesy of Al Kray)

I actually saw the doll before Mary because on the first leg of its international journey, the doll was couriered to me by none other than that one-man ball of fire, Bloodshot Bill.

Bloodshot Bill, the one-man band, became a duo when his likeness joined him on stage.
(photo courtesy of Al Kray)

When he was last in town I had the pleasure of attending his show, and as he is the significant other of Al, he was responsible for smuggling the doll over the border.  Although, in the shadows of the alley behind the bar it felt a bit like a drug deal, I was truly amazed when I opened the mysterious bundle and saw a miniature version of Mary!!!

Not willing to let the honor go unacknowledged, Mary suited up in her VLV gear
and had some beautiful photographs taken by another of her extremely-gifted friends,
 photographer, Genevieve Davis.  From pin-ups to portraiture, do yourself a favor and
 check out her amazing work on tumblr.

I'm telling you, the secret to success is surrounding yourself with awesome,
talented people and just hoping that some of it rubs off on you!

Every time I see the doll, I just get more impressed - Al really couldn't have chosen a more complicated outfit to recreate.  A dress would have been so much easier, but the doll maker instead chose a printed jumpsuit, an armful of bangles and a coolie hat.  The ability to source the material for the doll is crazy enough, but then she had the amazing talent to sew it into a recognizable form!  The first song that popped into my mind was "Oh, You Beautiful Doll."

"Oh, You Beautiful Doll"

A cartoon with Harpo, Bob Hope, living toys, and a sing-
a-long? This could be my favorite thing I've ever seen.

How incredibly flattering to have a "graven image" of yourself!  However, if Mary's not careful we may turn it into a voodoo doll - she's just lucky that I could never bring myself to stick a pin in anything that cool!  I must say after seeing the doll, I was kind of hoping for a tiny Mr. Tiny but I know I have to wait as the entire textile industrial complex of India works around the clock to mill enough material for that particular project...wah-wah....

For more information on Al's art or to order your very own custom doll, be sure to visit her blog, like her on Facebook, and email inquiries to alkrayart{at}


Mr. Tiny

Friday, October 19, 2012

wacky tacky icons: Jo Ann Castle

Last week we did something musically that we have been wanting to do for a long time; we went to a little jam session called "Ja, Just Accordions."  Our good friends Kevin and Jody mentioned the event very casually in a conversation one evening, but after I heard the words "Ja, just accordions," my mind wandered to what is most likely the wackiest, tackiest, and most beautiful instrument in the world and I never heard another word they said (sorry guys).

The whole gang getting hot

Held at The Phoenix Club, a German social club in Anaheim, CA, "Ja, Just Accordions" is a monthly meeting of accordionists, dancers, and enthusiasts.  Accordion music is in my blood.  Being from the Midwest, my paternal grandparents were avid polka dancers - I'm pretty sure it's mandatory.  My father took accordion lessons when he was young; I think it was part of my grandma's devious plan to raise the next Frankie Yankovic (her favorite of all the polka kings). Shoot, Mary asked for an accordion for her twelfth birthday - and GOT ONE!!!  So you see, despite our California zip code, our hearts are living in accordion country.

Shirley & Mary
Shirley was GREAT!  She played a lot of songs that we could dance to
 including a medley of "In the Mood" and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Pat just makes me happy.

Were we by far the youngest people in the room by at least thirty years?  Ja.  Did that make us superstars in the eyes of all our new found German friends?  Ja.  Were we given constant adulation every time we pretended to dance the polka and invited back to every upcoming event?  Ja, you betcha.

Ed giving Mary a little polka instruction
Youll be safe saying "Hi Ed" to any guy in the place;
Every man who introduced himself to us that night,
introduced himself as Ed - no joke.

Surrounded by all that dreamy accordion music, I couldn't help but think of one of my favorite television stars of all time, Miss Jo Ann Castle.

Jo Ann Castle
(3 September 1939 - )

Taking her stage name from the Castle Accordions that she favored, Jo Ann Castle is best known as a regular performer on The Lawrence Welk Show from 1959 to 1969. On screen she always appeared absolutely carefree and totally filled with the joy of the music she performed - usually standards or ragtime arranged for honky tonk piano and polkas for the accordion.

See what I mean?
An early duet of "Tea for Two" with Myron Floren

I guess it goes to show you that you never know what is going on behind the scenes.  Upon doing a little research, it became evident that Castle's life was not all "champagne music."  Although I can't vouch for the veracity of the written account - it seems as if it was penned by a scorned lover/estranged family member- to read more, go here.  Instead of disturbing you with upsetting details, I thought I would simply indulge you with several of her best clips from TLWS.

"Hejre Katy"
Jo Ann gets a surprise cake and a new job on her 20th birthday.

"The World is Waiting for the Sunrise"

"Get Happy"

"Dark Eyes"

"Song of the Islands"

"A-Tisket, A-Tasket"
Welk was a cruel task master.

"Piano Roll Blues"
The hair is everything.

"The Happy Norwegian Polka"

"Chopsticks Boogie"
My most favorite of all - hilarious and disturbing!

Although it is a polarizing program, I don't know if there was another show in the history of television that embodied the spirit of wacky tacky, however unintentionally, like The Lawrence Welk Show.  Jo Ann Castle stood out from the crowd because instead of being just a lip-synching bobble-head, she was a sturdy, Bakersfield girl (I'll bet you thought Buck Owens was the only star to hail from that fair city), full of energy and talent! Unfortunately, like all of the greats before her, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, et al., there was a lot of pain hidden behind the smiles and accordion trills, but I guess that is the life of a rock star.  Has VH1 ever thought of doing a "Behind the Music" on Lawrence Welk stars? Or at least a "Behind the Hair?"  

"Queen of the Honky Tonk Piano," "Ragtime Piano Gal,"
"Queen of the Ragtime Piano," or just plain Queen of my heart!

Be honest, do you love or hate The Lawrence Welk Show?  Do you have a favorite personality/performer from the show?  If you are a fan, there are so many great clips on YouTube, that you could keep yourself busy all day!

Remember, if you're in the area, feel free to join us at The Phoenix Club on the second Thursday of every month for "Ja, Just Accordions!"

The Phoenix Club
1340 S Sanderson Ave
Anaheim, CA


Mr. Tiny

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Collecting: "Dig" This Crazy Apron

It's not often that I buy anything from proper antique stores, but the way prices are skyrocketing at thrift stores, sometimes the deals are better and the sifting/digging element is minimized.  A while back we were at a local antique hotspot and we found a crazy apron.  No really, a "Crazy Apron."  Because I am also crazy, it took me two seconds flat to justify shelling out the dough for this entirely unnecessary piece of goods.  It was cheap (that's coming from someone who usually refuses to pay more than $3.99 for anything).  It was NOS.  It was a specimen of wacky tacky the likes of which there was nothing similar in our archives, and it was asking for a good home.  Since it was clear that nobody with a good home wanted it, it had to settle for my house.

"'Dig' This Crazy Apron"

As she will no doubt demand recognition, it was Mary who spotted the apron first.  Although, to be fair, it was on an eye-level shelf in a booth populated by items of muted and tones and entirely dissimilar provenance.  In short, it stuck out like a sore thumb so I can't give her too much credit.  Because this apron was new in its original packaging, we were fortunate to get the paper label that showed the other styles in the same line of novelty aprons created by the Parvin Manufacturing Company of Los Angeles.

Boy Howdy, would I have liked to have found the
"Chuckwagon Charlie" cowboy apron.  I love anything
western themed!

But I still count myself lucky to have ended up with "The Playboy" model.
"Illustration of apron in this package"
The Playboy, No. 461, is described on the package as
"Real animated fun in the most laugh-provoking apron ever designed!
Fascinating surprise pockets, crying towel, roving plastic eye, zipper,
cork, genuine fur trim [editor's note: there is no trace of fur trim
anywhere on the apron, genuine or otherwise], plastic bouttonniere, etc.
A host of amusing mottos and jokes!"

The Playboy

Was the fur trim supposed to be on his hat?
Also, to what is this in reference?  I couldn't make sense
 of it as an "amusing motto" or a "joke."

I'm the Chuck Norris of home cooks
 - I make the onions cry.

Tell me about it!!!

A cork "For the hole in your head"
I needed this apron like I needed another hole in my head
so the cork came in quite handy.

This is how I was raised.  Strangely enough, it
 never occurred to me to leave food behind...

Cause I'm the champ!!!

Everything I want is illegal, immoral AND fattening!

to evil from evil

They call me Mr. Tiny but you can call me Mr. Tiny; I like to keep it professional.

Kilroy even makes an appearance.

A playboy is just a boy unless he is PLAYing a little grab a**!
Should an unruly partygoer disregard the warning, giving the fanny a pinch,
he would receive an unpleasant surprise... 

A squirt in the face courtesy of the plastic bouttonniere.
Unfortunately, sometime during the last half-century, the rubber
bulb and tube that propelled the water dried out and disintegrated.
 It would be easy enough to replace but knowing myself as well as I do,
 that will never happen.

At the Early Bird Cafeteria, you'll get your food, but there is only one item on the menu.

Now that is cheeky!
Just below the waist, there is an Emergency Exit.

I made vintage-style aprons for a long time and sold them relying on the fact that people's enthusiasm for vintage would actually carry over into their cooking and entertaining endeavors.  But I still wonder, does anyone actually wear an apron?  I cook all the time and NEVER wear one.  Indeed, chances are great that I'll never wear this apron.. least not for its intended purpose.
I so wanted to make it look like I was wearing nothing but the
 apron but that is truly an image that would haunt your dreams!

What about you?  Do you wear an apron when you get cookin'?  What's your favorite apron in your collection?

"Hey, Good Lookin'" - Hank Williams


Mr. Tiny