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Dorothy's Dress Set for Auction - Or Maybe Not


LuckyDan
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The subject garment is one of two blue and white dresses that has the blouse with it, and one of four (or five, says Bonhams) blue and white dresses that are known to exist. Mercedes McCambridge, who served as artist-in-residence at Catholic University of America in 1972, somehow had possession of it until she gave it to the school's drama department head in 1973. There it was mislaid until rediscovery during renovation. (You find the most interesting stuff that way, don't you?) Bonhams says the dress has been matched to a specific scene in the movie, where Dorothy faces the Witch. (Which I guess is this.)

 

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It is set for auction next month at Bonhams in Los Angeles where they hope to collect at least $800,000, with the money going to Catholic University. 

Story here.  (Style warning: The word iconic is used three times, and gifted appears twice as a verb.)

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More detail from Bonhams:

"The gingham fabric of the dress being offered here has distinctive characteristics which can be matched to the dress worn by Judy Garland as Dorothy during the scene where the Wicked Witch of the West has captured Dorothy and turns over the hourglass to count down the time towards her death.

"Indeed, the organdy fabric on the blouse is very delicate, and this example has some damage to the shoulders where the straps of the dress would have rubbed. The blouse offered at Bonhams in 2015 had reinforced shoulders to mitigate this damage."

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I've seen one of Dorothy's dresses in person (and seen 2 pairs of ruby shoes) and the gingham is not blue & white. The fabric was dyed with just a tinge of pink to photograph "whiter" because of the tiniest addition of magenta to the colors.

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30 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

I've seen one of Dorothy's dresses in person (and seen 2 pairs of ruby shoes) and the gingham is not blue & white. The fabric was dyed with just a tinge of pink to photograph "whiter" because of the tiniest addition of magenta to the colors.

The Bonhams link above says there were several gingham dresses, including some made for the sepia segments, and others during different parts of the production.

From Bonhams:

"Kent Warner claimed to have found 'at least ten' Dorothy dresses from the film when he was putting together the M.G.M. auction in 1970, but these would have included the differing style of test dresses that were made during the Thorpe and Cukor eras, as well as a muted brown-and-white gingham dress that was used in the opening sepia shots of the movie."

Here is the dress sold in 2015, which is said to have had reinforced shoulders, and the newly rediscovered one, with the more fragile organdy shoulders, side by side. The 2015 does look a little more solid of the two. 

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27 minutes ago, slaytonf said:

The decline of western civilization continues.

If not Western civ, then American English. I said it as a joke of course but God that crap makes me wince, to the point that I do frequently stop reading pieces when I come across certain buzz terms, like those.. I read many articles about various types of collectibles and it seems everything is described as iconic. 

Gifted as a verb is here to stay. I blame Seinfeld.

 

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1 hour ago, LuckyDan said:

seems everything is described as iconic.

I remember way back in the dark ages in school was taught never to use the word "nice" (esp in writing) because it conveys little meaning. It became a slang term just for that reason!

tenor.gif?itemid=18473557

Exactly my feeling about "cult classic" "future classic" and "camp".  

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5 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

I don't know how they can match it to the scene, unless Mercedes just knew. (Damn but Judy is good in this!)

 

 

Interesting about the dress.  I'm certain that like with many things and in many movies there were several made.  So more than one person can be made happy in the acquiring of one.

But personally, I wouldn't mind having one of those HOURGLASSES used in the movie(I'm assuming of course there was more than one made for filming use).  ;) 

Sepiatone

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5 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

Gifted as a verb is here to stay. I blame Seinfeld.

My 40-year-old copy of The American Heritage Dictionary includes this usage note: "Gift (verb) has a long history of use in the sense 'to present as a gift, to endow': He gifted her with a necklace.  In current use, however, gift in this sense is sometimes regarded as affected and is unacceptable to a large majority of the Usage Panel."

So ironically, their issue with gift as a verb was not that this was too casual or trendy, but almost the opposite: that such usage had long since grown obsolete, and thus to revive it today was seen as stuffy and pretentious.

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4 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

I remember way back in the dark ages in school was taught never to use the word "nice" (esp in writing) because it conveys little meaning. It became a slang term just for that reason!

tenor.gif?itemid=18473557

Exactly my feeling about "cult classic" "future classic" and "camp".  

"Nice" and "cool." Cool resurged in the early 90s, spoken in a twangy two syllable variant as "KEW-uhl." It's still with us in speech, thankfully without the annoying nasal embellishment, but is way overused in guitar and musician's magazines and websites. "Cool new gear from Summer NAMM" and ""Cool new updates on Fender's iconic design!" are common examples. Are there no editors anymore?

And in writing lessons, didn't they also teach us not to use cliches? I know the Elements of Style advises against it. I would think any decent English teacher would, too . Much contemporary journalism is laden with it, with "doubled down on" being the most irritating example. "Rather than explaining his remarks, the Senator doubled down on his call for an investigation." Isn't that term borrowed from Blackjack?

"Reached out to" is said in place of "contacted." That was AT&T's slogan for their long-distance calling ads before divestiture. 

Then there's "the narrative." Oh my God now they loooove the narrative. 

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1 hour ago, Fausterlitz said:

My 40-year-old copy of The American Heritage Dictionary includes this usage note: "Gift (verb) has a long history of use in the sense 'to present as a gift, to endow': He gifted her with a necklace.  In current use, however, gift in this sense is sometimes regarded as affected and is unacceptable to a large majority of the Usage Panel."

So ironically, their issue with gift as a verb was not that this was too casual or trendy, but almost the opposite: that such usage had long since grown obsolete, and thus to revive it today was seen as stuffy and pretentious.

As is my issue with it. (And thank you for saying issue instead of problem with.) Trends are fine. I just hate reading lazy writing from people who should know better, like college-educated journalists or anyone who is paid to communicate in writing. (Which gets me off the hook, if you will.)

Edit: And there were members of the usage panel at AHD who were cool with gifted? I would love to talk to them now, to show them the wordweed that gifting has become.

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  • LuckyDan changed the title to Dorothy's Dress Set for Auction - Don't Call it Iconic

The English language is changing all  the  time and  I don't mind new usages even if  I don't  use  them myself. Iconic  may be overused, but

it's  a perfectly  fine word as is nice, though while the  meaning  of nice is clear, it's pretty unimaginative.  I still have the 1969 edition of

TAHD, which I believe is the first year it was published. Back  then it was known  for having photographs instead of illustrations and

also  for having more dirty words than were usually found in dictionaries. The Usage  Panel also found gift  as verb to be unacceptable

to  the tune of 94%.  Unfortunately most of that Usage Panel has been gifted with death.  😞

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1 hour ago, LuckyDan said:

"Reached out to" is said in place of "contacted."

Well, I'm old enough to remember when using "contact" as a verb was itself considered borderline cringe-y.  About which the same dictionary opined: "Contact (verb), meaning 'to get in touch with,' is widely used but is still considered inappropriate to formal use by a majority of the Usage Panel."

But let's face it, that's probably the way most academics feel when almost any noun starts getting used as a verb.  It's mostly annoying when such a thing emerges from the world of corporate-speak or marketing, because then it tends to feel phony rather than organic.  "Contact" as a verb is an undeniably useful, all-purpose word, because it covers such a wide variety of possible means of communicating (email, phone, letter, text, etc.)

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38 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

The Usage  Panel also found gift  as verb to be unacceptable to  the tune of 94%.

I wish subsequent editions had continue to show the vote percentages -- they don't appear in my 1982 edition.  Would be interesting to see exactly how they shift over time (although the composition of the panel itself would undoubtedly shift over time as well, thus rendering any conclusions somewhat uncertain).

Tony Randall was the only actor listed in my edition's Usage Panel, although there were several film critics (Stanley Kaufmann, Dwight Macdonald, and John Simon).

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48 minutes ago, Fausterlitz said:

Well, I'm old enough to remember when using "contact" as a verb was itself considered borderline cringe-y.  About which the same dictionary opined: "Contact (verb), meaning 'to get in touch with,' is widely used but is still considered inappropriate to formal use by a majority of the Usage Panel."

But let's face it, that's probably the way most academics feel when almost any noun starts getting used as a verb.  It's mostly annoying when such a thing emerges from the world of corporate-speak or marketing, because then it tends to feel phony rather than organic.  "Contact" as a verb is an undeniably useful, all-purpose word, because it covers such a wide variety of possible means of communicating (email, phone, letter, text, etc.)

Excellent point about contacted. You are right to blue pencil it. 

When these sudden new usages pop up, no matter the source, I always ask myself, what were we saying before? It's often hard to remember. What were we saying before "reach out to?" And what were we calling "the narrative" before the narrative, or were we even acknowledging there was a narrative? 

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My bruised old copy of the Oxford English Dictionary has "gift" as a verb going back to at least the early 16th century.  

But I'm quite convinced that the War of the Roses all started over someone from the House of York heckling the Lancastrians for saying they "gifted" some buddies a swell little place in Kent.

Honestly, don't we have enough perfectly nice words already to make our meanings clear enough?   I remember a few chefs I worked for years ago who would constantly speak in the new jargon of the day for the culinary profession.  All of a sudden, good old regular words no longer sounded as though "learned" people were to embrace them.  In order to affect an aura of exceptionally  distinct knowledge no layman could have, the ready use of  professional jargon quickly identified two people as members of an  elite group.  

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6 hours ago, brianNH said:

My bruised old copy of the Oxford English Dictionary has "gift" as a verb going back to at least the early 16th century.  

But I'm quite convinced that the War of the Roses all started over someone from the House of York heckling the Lancastrians for saying they "gifted" some buddies a swell little place in Kent.

Honestly, don't we have enough perfectly nice words already to make our meanings clear enough?   I remember a few chefs I worked for years ago who would constantly speak in the new jargon of the day for the culinary profession.  All of a sudden, good old regular words no longer sounded as though "learned" people were to embrace them.  In order to affect an aura of exceptionally  distinct knowledge no layman could have, the ready use of  professional jargon quickly identified two people as members of an  elite group.  

Would we even understand English spoken in the early 1500s?

I have not said gifted as a verb is new. You are the second to point out that it isn't, but I have not read any disagreement that it has become common. We now say gifted probably more than we say gave.

And the issue isn't clarity. I can understand what someone is saying when they say there were gifted a new wallet for their birthday. I just think it sounds clunky and I understand they said it because they probably just heard it. That's how language works.

Nor is the goal to sound learned or to exclude, which is dangerous business anyway. People don't like being corrected. It makes them feel like they are being patronized, and they come to instantly dislike their corrector, or even anyone who uses too many words with which they are not familiar. 

Proper use and observance of linguistic rules assists in communication, it doesn't hamper it. "You know what I mean" communication is fine for transactional discourse and expressing general approval or disapproval, like asking, "Where's the bathroom at?" or saying "That was awesome bacon and eggs." But anyone who wants to speak effectively, to persuade, or describe, or explain, or ask something complicated, or to be witty, or concise, needs familiarity with the rules and an understanding of meanings, a facility with language. 

If you have to sit and listen to someone speak, or read something they've written, doesn't it seem to go faster when they speak well, can engage your attention, and get you the information you need clearly and quickly? I don't want us all to sound like English professors. I just like reading and listening to expressive people, and I've noticed those who are tend to be very good at using language. 

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6 hours ago, TopBilled said:

I thought this thread was going to be about Dorothy Arzner's dress or Dorothy McGuire's dress.

What a disappointment to see it's about Dorothy Gale. Talk about click bait! LOL :) 

If it's a dress some Dorothy was wearing, my first choice would be whatever Dorothy Malone was wearing in the bookshop scene from "The Big Sleep." Heck, we already know that dress was easy for her to get in and out of it. 

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15 hours ago, LuckyDan said:

Trends are fine. I just hate reading lazy writing from people who should know better, like college-educated journalists or anyone who is paid to communicate in writing.

I'm appalled every time I hear NPR's Ayesha Rascoe say "lie-berry" or "axe".  C'mon, you're on the RADIO, learn how to pronounce words correctly .

As for "double down", isn't it an oxymoron? Couldn't you just say "Doubled their efforts, doubled ammunition", etc? 

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16 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

I'm appalled every time I hear NPR's Ayesha Rascoe say "lie-berry" or "axe".  C'mon, you're on the RADIO, learn how to pronounce words correctly .

As for "double down", isn't it an oxymoron? Couldn't you just say "Doubled their efforts, doubled ammunition", etc? 

I only knew double-down as a Blackjack term. When you have a two cards that equal 11, it is common to double your ante in exchange for one more card. Political reporters, probably on television first, started using it, I don't know. 15 or so years ago, when a politician might repeat something provocative instead of clarifying it. Google "Biden doubles down" and my point will be made. It's usually in a critical context, like, ""Can you believe he went there?" 

Alternatively, one could say stood firm, or restated, or reasserted. 

 

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8 hours ago, brianNH said:

I remember a few chefs I worked for years ago who would constantly speak in the new jargon of the day for the culinary profession.  All of a sudden, good old regular words no longer sounded as though "learned" people were to embrace them.  In order to affect an aura of exceptionally  distinct knowledge no layman could have, the ready use of  professional jargon quickly identified two people as members of an  elite group.  

Re-reading that it occurs to me you may be able to answer a question I have about cooking jargon. The word caramelize. I started noticing it about 12 or so years ago and I objected because I felt that unless we are converting something that is not caramel into actual caramel, then we cannot say  we are caramelizing something. 

Was caramelize always out there and I just didn't notice it? Or is it part of the new jargon of the culinary profession you referred to? 

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  • LuckyDan changed the title to Dorothy's Dress Set for Auction - Or Maybe Not
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