Thursday, April 30, 2009

But is it ART?

Jim Bob and his lovely wife Linda Bob had asked Mrs T and I to join them on a progressive dinner. We were there in a flash. On the way towards destination #2 Jim Bob says, "turn here".

Why I didn't know, but a good evening was about to become better.

We turn into your basic early 70's suburban neighborhood. Pretty houses, well kept lawns, mature flora, kids in good schools.

Left at the next intersection. I follow his instructions.

Then it hits.

So ask yourself. Is it art? The neighbors are not amused. Especially the guy with the deck overlooking the mess

My guess is that he is REALLY PISSED at somebody.

House sales have slowed in the 'hood, as there is no other home with an art installation.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

3 Lunch Apple

For over 40 years Robert W. "Johnnie" "3 Lunch" Apple Jr. was a fixture on the staff of the New York Times. The nickname 3 lunch came from his propensity to schedule multiple lunch dates when he was hot on a story. Political reporter, foreign affairs analyst, culture, travel and food writer. Johnnie has a true gift with a pen. Admittedly I had temporarily forgotten Johnnie, until a 3 part coincidence landed in my lap.

First and most importantly I located my copy Apple's America, his 2005 memoir and distinguished travel guide to the 40 best cities in North America. Should you hit the road with any frequency this guide is indispensable, although it is becoming a little long in the tooth, it will tell yoiu where to go, what to do, and where to stay.

Second, I was clearing out old magazines and came across Calvin Trillin's New Yorker profile of Mr. Apple. If you are a fan of Trillin, you may enjoy this send up. The profile also led me to Harvie and Hudson and the gingham shirt fiasco.

Finally, I looked up his Times obit which directed me to the last story printed under Mr. Apples by line, The Global Gourmet an exposition of Johnnie's list of the top ten restaurants in the world.

Skinny food writers always scare me. 3 lunch was, anything but, he was one of the best. He died in 2006.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Banned in Boston

Newcomers, this is my bonus daughter Mindy. She is a college junior matriculating in Boston. Today is her 21st birthday. Her mother is hoping that upon reaching her majority, Mindy may be at least half way through the I know everything, you know squat phase. Another 10-15 years ought to put that argument to rest.

On the other hand, not for a minute will I suggest she is new to spirits, but just in case you happen to be in Beantown today, and thinking about taking your life in your hands on public highways and byways use extra caution, especially after sundown. Classes are over for this term, and she starts late.

Just sayin'.


Nupts- a regular series - Maybe

Guys, you have no idea how many television channels are devoted to weddings. The deck is stacked against you and you have no clue. Considering the state of marriage in the world that is either incredibly hopeful, or deeply cynical. I prefer to look positively.

To honor a boys look at marriage I propose to run an infrequent series called NUPTS. Nupts are quick review of many of the wedding notices in the Sunday, New York Times. My view may be snarky, biased, disbelieving or just plain wrong, but hopefully always respectful. If they can be optimistic and so can I.

Let us begin with April 26's paper.

Elaine and Nirav: She's a travel editor for Modern Bride magazine. No mention of where the honeymoon was, but she elected to be married at home in Charleston. For a travel editor I thought this was tres cool. Charleston is pretty this time of year.

Anne and Gerald: She is 80, he's 84. They met at Harvard in 1947, and had wait for their spouses to die.

Catherine and Kevin: She's a nurse practitioner. He is a free lance financial analyst and works on spreadsheets. Unemployed?

Laurie and Joel: Married Saturday by Joyce ordained by the Church at Your House Society. Joel's father, a Methodist Minister, also took part. I'm feeling a little tension between Laurie and her in-laws.

Carlin and Andras: Cute couple. His mother is an art psychotherapist at Yale-New Haven Hospital. She's seeing like, Whistler's mother?

Pauline and Miguel: She operates a home based dessert catering business in Manhattan. Seems kinda limiting to me, but maybe I misjudge the need for dessert in NYC.

There are 8 million stories in the naked city. These are only some of them.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Is this a great country or what??

While I was busy slamming Oprah for ruining a perfectly good movie, she had two young inventors on her program. Their creation? Baconnaise.

What you inquire is Baconnaise? Why it's bacon flavored mayonnaise, of course. There are some health benefits as compared to regular mayonnaise, but that is not why anyone does anything.
You eat it becasue it tastes good, silly.
A jar is resting comfortably in our fridge, and I give it high marks.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Did Ralph change Lauren?

OK, I didn't do my homework. I relied on my fragile memory, and trusted my retailer. I think I screwed up big time.

First, let me state unequivocally that Lauren is my favorite women's fragrance. It buckles my knees, every time. Mrs. T doesn't wear it, and I felt the need to rectify that situation.

So a suitable event occurs, and I take in a supply. Wrapped nicely I present my prize, anxiously awaiting Mrs. T's oohs and ahhs. She opens, does the reluctant spray bit on the wrist, and I gag. That's not Lauren.

Oh it's fine says she.

To humour me, occasionally she'll wear it, or spray it around. It's ghastly, and I'll never be able to replace it with a good batch. They didn't reformulate it did they?


PS: I find all of Ralph men's fragrances awful.

Part 2

Stop me if you have heard this before.

We have been awarded a Your Blog is Fabulous Award by the News Reading Wife. Thank you, ma'am. It's a gift that keeps on giving, in that it comes with rules.

Recipients are asked to:
Post the award on your blog. Nominate 10 other blogs and link to them. Send some love back to the person who bestowed the award on you by: a/telling them who you gave it to and posting a link to their site. Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

I take all challenges seriously, sorta. That said, many of my favorite bloggers are black and blue from being tagged more often than a girl cousin at a family reunion. So forgive me if I pass by some of my favorite blogs, and let you in on a few secrets I really enjoy. If you are truly miffed that I did not specifically include you, please include yourself, or complain to me, and I'll publicly apologize and send an award of my own devising to you. No harm done.

In no particular order I nominate the following great blogs for regifting the "Your blog is Fabulous Award".

My first place goes to Gladys of Gladys Tells All. should you ever find yourself feeling a little blue, or in need of a bust upside the head or a belly laugh go see Gladys. G has seen and done more things than anyone else alive. Should you doubt me, ask her.

Rechelle, the Country Doctors Wife of My Sister's Farmhouse deserves this award, if only for posting pix of ribeye steaks being cut off the bone. That day was a carnivores delight. Rechelle is a mom, gardener, friend and and her blog reflects that.

Maxminimus runs a pretty tight ship. This award is self serving since I will soon need to refer to him as "my Liege". Pretty cool guy, with a blog full of cool guy stuff.

Giuseppe of An Affordable Wardrobe: G's blog centers on how he built an incredible wardrobe via thrifting. Pretty tough do as a budding architech, husband, father of two. Always looks sharp and has an opinion he is not afraid to share.

Meg of Pigtown Design. I know you all read her blog. A woman of taste and refinement with a fabulous eye for detail. She is also a good sharer.

Laurel Street Blog: this is a new one on my radar, but since I was so well advised on my recent trip to NOLA, I couldn't pass them up. Part design, part food and spirits, always a good read.

Daryl of Southern Gent is another displaced soul from NO., and one of 3 DC'ers who made the list. Good old boy with a good heart. I believe you will enjoy his writing.

Allie of Summer is a Verb writes a beautiful blog but I fear for her. Too often she turns up in some very unsavory places. Just Friday, she was seen hanging around Maxminimus. Never a good sign, for a stylish attached young woman.

Denise of Eat Play Love. I met Denise at Katy's wedding almost 3 years ago. She probably doesn't know I lurk around her blog with unseemly frequency, and comment most unfrequently. But its true, I do. Denise is a Denverite young mother with a world traveling adventuresome husband. Eat Play Love mostly focuses on a part of my life long over, but she brings back great memories.

Tucker, Longwing, Chris, Admiral Cod you're all in my heart and deserve your own awards. Until then pour a short one on me.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

We get to share several awards- Part 1

OK, I'm late, but this is harder than it looks.

When I began writing, I had no other goal than to fill my children in on a bit of what happened before their time. Then I drifted. Today marks my 300 post and sometime today the 10,000 visitor will show up. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate each and every one of you more than you will ever understand.


As promised earlier, today we have two awards to bestow upon several lucky winners.

The Lemonade Stand Award is presented to people with a good attitude or sense of gratitude.
However, it comes with a few rules:

Receipients are asked to:

Post the award on your blog
Nominate 10 other blogs and link to them.
Send some love back to the person who bestowed the award on you by: a/telling them who you gave it to and posting a link to their site.
Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

The first award is a slam dunk. We were originally awarded our Lemonade Stand award by Rebecca Woodhead of From Brain to Bookshelf. Rebecca is a novelist, searching for an agent, as well as Channelling Bunny contributor. Our first award goes to Jean of Renovation Therapy. Jean besides making me laugh continuously and being a crafty and caring person is also a literary agent in search of authors. Make Lemonade you two.

The next lemonade stand award goes to our good buddy Sarte of Advice to my Sons. Sadly, its something of a valedictory award, since he has put his blog on hiatus. Over the past few months he has labored, searching new career opportunities. Having done that myself, I know what a toll it takes. Sarte has risen above his troubles and came out stronger on the other side. His Red Sox passion troubles me though.

Kathy of No Rhyme or Reason has been the most frequent commenter at this site. Like the dunce I am, the few times I searched, I couldn't find her blog. How hard is it you ask? Not very I reply. Through my own fault I have missed a great deal, and now spent too much time catching up. Kathy is also the most inspirational of the contributors to Channeling Bunny.

For best performance in a home building project I award the Lemonade Stand to Kathleen, of House Things I Like. It seems like Kathleen and her family have built then rebuilt their home. They have certainly put me off wanting to build. Kathleen is continually making lemonade, mostly out of contractors.

The award for best food, drink and comfort blog is awarded to Martha of Lines from Linderhof. As Martha knows all too well, I'd rather eat asphalt than my veggies, and I will eat asphalt before laying a tooth into cheese, yet I am addicted to Martha's recipes especially for things I wouldn't touch with a fork. I know Martha will make lemonade, and add just a touch of something I would have never thought of, and it will be memorable. Thank you Martha.

My daughter and I are regular readers of David of Midwestern Malaise. David is the guy rooting through your dust bin, and turning your cast offs to very expensive heirloom pieces, for someone else. His blog is quirky, catty, fun and a great read. My hat is off to David, who BTW is a contributor of Channeling Bunny.

My final Lemonade stand award, for Lemonade, with a splash of sour mash and mint goes to that charming woman who encouraged me when I needed it. New's Reading Wife of Breaking News. She does annoy hell out of me when she so subtly adds, oh I was thinking of you as my credit card came out at.... perhaps I am Indian giving, but too bad.

There are approximately 15 other of my favorite blogging friends I would wish to award, but I know they are bombed with awards and cringe at the thought of any more. Mrs. Blanding, Ms Mindless, MOTR, Hovey sisters, Chris the Easy and Elegant.

Additional, part 2 is coming up. My regifting of the Your Blog is Fabulous Award. Not to worry, your time is coming.



Raffles Hotel in Singapore is once again for sale.

I've never been there. I've fantasized going there, lots of times, although I am not certain it really exists. It may only be a state of mind.

My memories though are locked in the teens, 20's and '30's. Somerset Maugham in the Palm Room idling his morning away. Noel Coward or Rudyard Kipling and Joseph Conrad in the billiard room. Beautiful actresses tossing back Singapore Slings. Bette Davis in the 1940 classic, The Letter, white linen and khaki. Explorers, adventurers, soldiers of fortune, planters and missionaries all spent their time here.

The hotel has a glorious history. The last tiger in Singapore was shot under the billiard room. 300 Japanese soldiers committed suicide in the lobby when when Singapore fell to the Americans near the end of WWII.

A modest $450 million will transfer ownership to your name. You get to keep the memories, but the future will never match the past. Sadly, it will never be the same.

Should you happen to buy it, let me know. I'll come.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Is O now run by men?

Is O run by men now?

I admit to being sappy at times. Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. I find the Keira Knightley P&P movie hauntingly beautiful. I'm misty eyed throughout the last 20 minutes. Every time.

I want to be Donald Sutherland, I want to be Mr. Darcy.

Mercifully, the movie is on television almost constantly. You can choose either the 2 hours too long TNT version or the Oprah version.

Last night I got sucked into the O version. I hadn't caught this travesty before.

10 minutes or so to go. I'm tearing up. Darcy meets Elizabeth to ask for her hand one more time, the music swells "if your feelings have changed..."


After commercial: In dad's study.....

WT? The best part of the movie is gone. Where did it go? Is my memory that bad. Have I (O)forgotten the rest of Darcy's speech? Lizzy's reply?

Thank you Oppie. Who knew you needed the money so badly?


Thursday, April 23, 2009

There is a new circle of hell

It's called refinancing.

This is the second time we have refinanced the mortgage for The Park in 3 years. I know, that's too often, but there is a most silly story behind the last one, so once again I hit the bricks searching for a loan.

Mrs. T's siblings are ultra competitive amongst each other. They just can't stand it if one of the sibs found a better deal on something that they want. Her brother has been shopping the world looking for an acceptable loan. He's a finance guy by trade, so he is taking his role very seriously. Ego is on the line, big time.

Me, I'm a bit more laid back. Friday, I called our existing lender and said, what have you got? How 'bout half point lower than your brother in law could find. Send it right out I said.

So you'd think Mr. Banker would say, we qualified these folks 2 years ago, do you think they qualify to pay less per month? Not so fast.

First came the endless demands. Send us the past 3 years tax returns, brokerage statements, bank account statements, copies of the homeowners insurance, etc. etc. etc. Now, I'm not so oblivious that I do not understand the problems caused by NINJA loans, but most of this stuff is already hiding in various departments of the their bank. Would they want to look it up. No way.

So I am faxing 172 pages of soon to be trash. Tomorrow will be another load. The things I'll do to top my brother in law and save $200 per month.


Odds and Ends

1. I was reading yesterday that Esquire and Architectural Digest probably won't live to see Christmas. I examined my conscience on this and concluded so what.

2. I badly want to blame our good friend Maximinimus for tragic accident, but honesty and good sense won't allow it. He's younger, faster and stronger than I.

In his post on George Mallory over the weekend, I commented that George and I wear the same watch. In this case, an early 1920's Ingersoll Wrist. Mine was my grandfathers.

I've worn mine off and on for almost 40 years, until today. I dropped it on the bathroom floor while dressing and shattered the crystal. The crystal will soon be replaced, but I hate to see it beginning the slide towards the proverbial my grandfather's ax story. Photo shameless stolen from ADG.

3. Ladies and Gent, Boys and Girls we have been awarded a prize. Dear friend, and budding novelist Rebecca have passed on the enviable Lemonade Stand Award.

The rules are the usual, but I am gratified none the less.

Post the award on your blog - Done
Nominate 10 other blogs and link to them.
Send some love back to the person who bestowed the award on you by: a/telling them who you gave it to (just about to do that) and b/posting a link to their site.
Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

Also, and I am ashamed to publicly admit at this late stage that once upon a time,we were awarded the Your Blog is Fabulous Award.

Frequent commenter News Readin' Wife awarded the prize to our humble missives. I am still flattered and grateful. At the time the award was given I was barely able to type 2 letters without misspelling, and too shy to pass on my good fortune.

What I never said was, that the award encouraged me at time I was about to stop. I'm thankful to her every day. You on the other hand have her to blame.

The rules as I remember are about the same, so I will treat them the same anyway. Fortunately there are enough prizes as followers to go around. I will specificly announce the winners tomorrow and my reasons why. No it is not just because you follow. This isn't the Oprah show.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Covert Coats on sale

My rant with Harvie and Hudson would easily for gotten if I were in the market for one of their Covert Coats. Mercifully, I am not. They are a thin mans lightweight coat. I do not qualify.

However, I have long wanted one. There is something about the equestrian vibe thrown off by a well made coat. Not many other opportunities for a man to wear velvet collars either.

This coat is on sale for under GBP 300 plus the 'ofjgofgjtoogjtg5gj 20 pound shipping.


A night out in KC

Date book empty for April 28th?

Should you find yourself in or near Kansas City I might suggest the Riedel Wine Glass Seminar at the American Restaurant.

Chef Debbie Gold allegedly is preparing a perfect match of hors d'oeuvres for the Mantanzas Creek, Byron Nelson and Arrowhead wines, each served in their unique Riedel Crystal Sommelier series glass.

Proceeds to benefit the James Beard Foundation, and guests will be given 3 crystal stems as a gift.

Sadly, Mrs. T and I will be unable to attend. I find that wine spoils my taste for gin, and we are not expected in KC until May 1.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Little Chickadee

Boys and girls, youngin's and not so much, set your TIVO, program your VCR, stay home, make pop corn, eat chocolate for tonight on TCM is My Little Chickadee. 10:30 Eastern

If you have not seen it, you must. WC Fields and Mae West at their best. 70 years young and still going strong. It's followed by the original Topper. Cary Grant and Constance Bennett.


The Brooks Bros OCBD

Regular readers may recall I first mentioned this Brook Brothers Oxford Cloth shirt several months ago. While neither fish nor fowl it has intrigued me ever since, and after a successful visit to Uncle Harry's on Friday I finally popped for it.

The shirt is unusually odd. Contrasting white button down collar on a blue candy stripe oxford cloth body. French cuffs in the striped body color. No pocket, with sleeve placket buttons.

Several things make this unusual. Men's contrasting collars, an homage to the days of detachable collars and cuffs, rarely button down, and are almost never oxford cloth. Button down shirts are very rarely equipped with french cuffs. Finally, purists mark the beginning of BB's downfall to the day in 1963 when BB added a pocket to their oxford cloth shirts. I contend, that a gentleman's shirts do not require pockets.

I was quite prepared to pay retail, but at checkout I entered my card number and corporate code, and BB took $51 off. I almost purchased another. I'll show it off when it arrives in early May.


Shirts part 2

I've been searching for a navy/white gingham shirt for several weeks, with no luck.

So finally, I check out 3 Lunch Apple's tailor, Harvie and Hudson of St James and Knightsbridge, London. Not only do they have it, its on sale, 3 for 2. My favorite POW check as well. My size too. 3 shirts GBP 100.

So I'm doing my best calculating. Less VAT, plus shipping equals what? Finally it hit me. Shipping is GBP20!!!!!!!!!!!!

Where do they get off. It's cheaper to go there. Know any alternatives?


Monday, April 20, 2009

Dogwood season

It's dogwood season at The Park.

Since we are in the middle of an old oak and hickory forest we look for color everywhere we can. In early spring, color is primarily from budding red bud and dogwood trees.

Since the deforestation begun by the electric company I have been removing all the trash trees surrounding the house, allowing anything that flowers pride of place. The grounds have been wild for at least the past decade, all the nearby trees are spindly, top heavy things. In their search for sun they have grown up, not out.

It's my hope that by clearing space for our flowering saplings, eventually they will fill out and become truly specimen trees.

Mixed amongst the trees are a collection of azaleas and rhododendrons, which will begin to flower within the next several weeks. Each year I plant about 50 of each, which in a year or so should begin to fill in nicely. In my minds eye, I have the beginnings of a southern garden.

I next need to work on scent. My guide is a strong scent memory of the honeysuckle scented drive from Savannah to Atlanta.

Sadly, forest bottoms for miles around here are covered with an aggressive, invasive, non scented honeysuckle species. Virtually everything green in the pictures above are this plague. Adding more, although a less invasive honeysuckle may not be my answer. Any ideas?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Movie of your life

Over cocktails Friday evening the question arose, who should play you, in the movie of your life? I stalled for time by asking several qualifying questions. Should they be me as I am, or as I hope to be? The me, as I am now, or when I wasn't so much now?

Your pick, they'll tailor the movie to fit, I was told.

I have two candidates. They are playing some version of me, as I see myself now. Sadly, at least one is dead, but I'm not certain that matters.

I can see the irrepressible Toad portrayed by either Peter Ustinov, or Albert Finney, especially in Uncle Henry mode from A Good Year. Perhaps a later Orson Welles could do me justice.

Who would you like to be you? If only for a movie.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Strickly a NY thing?

I finally got around to tackling last weekend's NYT yesterday. My routine is to begin with the Style section, head to Business, the Book Review and Magazine then let whatever catches my fancy take over.

My real favorite part is the Vows, at the back of Style.

Last weekend's featured couple were in their mid 40's. He was a nerd who had never married and had never had a lasting relationship. She had just left a 23 year relationship when she met the groom to be.

So they dated a year, he asked, she accepted, they tied the knot.

He likes his man cave of an apartment, she likes her pepto bismol pink apartment with her cats and parrots. What's a newly married couple to do in such circumstances?


Can you imagine? Is there anywhere on the planet other than NY City where a guy could successfully pull this off? How would the conversation begin? Is this a marriage?


Grey Gardens

HBO has remade Grey Gardens, and will be airing it near continuously for the next week or so. Would ANYONE give a hoot about these women if they were not Jackie O's relatives? We each know women like Big Edie and Little Edie, and cross the street to avoid them, lest they be catchy.

Since there is no compelling reason to remake the classic original, this vanity project wouldn't have anything to do with the property value of the Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn's new house would it?


Friday, April 17, 2009


Like almost all I have come into contact with this week, I've been sick.

Professional quality head cold. OK, so maybe I'm dramatising, but mega doses of anti-histamines and cough syrup have been required to get me out of bed, robed, into my chair, and ready to attack the stack of books at my side. Twenty minutes later I'm asleep, not remembering a thing I've read.

So I wake up from a restless sleep and I have a snippet of a song rolling around my head. I know I like the song, but I can't place it. I can come up with a lyric or two, but nothing rings a bell. This goes on all day Wednesday and Thursday. Finally, something comes to me. No, that's not it. Maybe it's Cole Porter, nope. Gershwin? Nada. I'm losing it.

There used to be a record shop on South Street in Philly, where I could go, or phone and hum something to the clerk, and immediately he would point me to it. The guy was so good, he became the inspiration for a Married With Children episode.

Finally, it comes to me. Its Hoagy Carmichael, also on the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack.

Allow me to share the object of my musing. Here's Natalie's dad for your enjoyment. Minimize the screen, turn up the volume, get ready to enjoy your weekend.

Thank you yes, I'm on the mend.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

atlanta film festival

Should you catch yourself out and about this weekend, you may care to stop in at the Atlanta Film Festival.

I wanna see a bunch of artsy fartsy movies why you ask? Like most things if it has to be explained to ya, you'll never get it, so let me give you one good reason to go.

The festival is celebrating the 7oth. anniversary of the theatrical release of Gone With The Wind. GWTW's premier on December 15, 1939 was also in Atlanta. Jimmy Carter once said, the opening festival was the biggest thing to happen in the South in his lifetime. Still may be.

In an exceptional movie year, GWTW won 10 Oscars, including Best Film, Director, Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. Adjusted for inflation, it's the highest grossing movie of all time. While its rank on the all time best movie list hovers somewhere around 5, it's a really good flick.

Now, understandably, the movie is not to every one's taste. A lot, thankfully, has transpired in 70 years. We are a better people and a better country now than in 1939. However, we don't make better movies.

Is it good history? No, is any movie?

Is it a good story? Undoubtedly

If your up for the trip, get your tickets early. You need not save the aisle seat for me though. I saw it on TMC Tuesday, and I've a grandson's little league softball game to attend.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Census Lady

By nature I am not much of a conspiracy theorist. I don't have the energy. My default position is that if some, Church, Corporation or Government official is going to take the time from their busy day to spin me, they're lying. Might be cynical, but I do know the price of important things, and experience has proven me right more often than not. Go with your gut.

So this morning, there's a knock at the door. We don't get many drop in visitors, especially at that hour of the day. Our friends and family know that we do not want to be seen or talked to much before 10 am. So anyway I need to deal with the door.

Turns out to be a middle age woman representing the Census Bureau.
Is this your front door? she asks.

No I reply, its our back door.

Can you show me the front door?

Why? It's just like this, same color, other side of the house.

I need to see it, please.

OK, walk 180 degrees to the right or left. Stop when you come to the red door. That will be it. Off she goes.

What I did not mention is that there is no real access to the front door. It's a facade. To get there you need to stomp through mud, and up or down a hill,and through the bushes, depending on which direction you go. Don't mind the dog, I cautioned, he may want to jump.

Soon there is knock at the front door. She's kinda unhappy with me.

Just what are you doing I enquire.

I need the exact GPS coordinates of every front door on my list.


Its for the census next year.

I can think of a hundred and six reasons to want that data, but none good. Do you have any ideas?

Happy tax day btw.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Commander's Palace

The couple at the next table were worth the price of admission.

He was some indeterminate age, but had me by 8 to 10 years. Maybe more. She was his mother, and was the spitting image of Brooke Astor at 90. Elegant. Trim Chanel suit, silk scarf just so. Sensible pumps.


Tables were close, Mrs T. has never met a stranger, so before long they were best friends. He was offering tips on what to order, who has the best...... I asked the Metarie restaurant question which has been plaguing me, and he allowed that Metarie is not somewhere he would ever willingly choose to go, so couldn't help.

He's entertaining mom with tidbits from Vanity Fair. She's grilling him on commodity prices, crop yields. Just eat your apps and dessert momma, the entree can go home to be warmed up tomorrow. It was priceless.

Then I noticed his suit. I'd never encountered anything like it. It was an expensive navy poplin number. Ladies, in a just world, poplin suits, like seersucker, would be near free. Same color and weight as Brooks, but bespoke., broken in, shiny. Maybe his father's for all I know. Open patch pockets, Mardi Gras purple, green, gold lining to the jacket. You know the expression comfortable in his own skin? He had it in spades in this suit.

So mom gets boring and he's telling Mrs. T. about the plantation he and his brother own. They have the best gumbo there you ever wished for. Mrs. T inquires further, but deep down I know she's lying. She eats girl food. Only. If it contains cajun or creole spice, she'll probably pass. Turns out the old guys plantation is near one owned by her cousin. Certainly, they know each other. Best friends for 30 years. Their wives are better friends.

Small world.

Sadly CP was the only disappointment in our travels. Food was good, service was awful.


Stranger in a Strange Land

Ever play tourist at home?
After a Bloody Mary or two at Easter brunch, I offered to organize a tour of the 5 oldest churches near Mayberry, which my in-laws, the Grouches have never visited. It's going to be tough, since they have been to all the obvious ones. To make it harder, I haven't been to any of them. Their presumption is that I am going to select only Catholic Churches. I've organized similar and very well received tours in Barcelona, Madrid and London for them, but this is the first one at home.

One of Mayberry's larger suburbs was originally a French settled river town. Later immigrations brought German's, Poles, Bohemians and Irish. Catholics are thick on the ground there, but most of their churches were built in the late 1800's. The oldest I can find is 1820. There are several from the 1840's, then it jumps 50 years.

So I have changed the rules to include Protestant churches. Within a 5 minute drive from home are 1840's era Anglican, Presbyterian, and Baptist sanctuaries. An 1860's AME shrine is less than a mile away. Since Catholics have absolutely no conception of anything remotely Protestant this may come as a shock.

You may not accept this on faith, I swear to its truth. Papists can pass a Protestant church everyday for 50 years and never know its name, or its history, or what religion it represents. They simply don't see it. However, all catholic's will know the name of every tiny papist chapel within 30 miles.

There is a wealth of history, hidden in plain site, in our backyard. After this is a planned tour of homestead cemeteries. Mayberry is thick with pioneer burial grounds, which are now located in suburban backyards. Have you ever done any amateur sleuthing near home? I'm finding this fascinating.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

M Magazine

Clay Felker's sale of Esquire Magazine in 1979 marked the beginning of an on going end to one of the storied magazines in history. The fact that it's still published demonstrates the power of a brand. Much like GM for instance. Both should have died many years ago, but inertia keeps it printing.

Realizing that Esquire's day in the sun had passed onto New York Magazine, in 1983 Fairchild Publications made a valiant effort to capture the hearts, minds and wallets, of America's affluent, and stylish males with M, the Civilized Man Magazine. While the title may have been an oxymoron, each month M would publish what could best be described as a catalog, of the dying WASP culture. Anglophilia never had it so good. Ambassador so and so at the Hunt Ball kind of nonsense. It was all done very seriously, and the many of the better class of criminals were shown as being almost respectable people.

For several years, late 83 until perhaps mid 88 or so I subscribed. There was no magazine like it. It was a great tutorial for we slumming wanna be's. The cover shot above is from the first issue, I still have it. Surprisingly much of the advertisers wares held up pretty well over the years. A lot of Ralph, Tommy, Alexander Julian. Nothing too progressive, need I say.

By the late 80's the Establishment was dead, and most interest in it. M wobbled around until '91 or 2 a mere shadow of its former glory.

There is a bit of a cult following for old copies of the Mag. A younger set, who have only heard of the mysteries to be found, search old book stores, or EBAY for mouldering copies. Currently, there are a dozen or so 1986 thru '88 copies on EBAY. I shan't be bidding. I still have the originals.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Roscoe the flying squirrel

Roscoe the flying squirrel is the one on the left. I believe.

Number one son and his family spent a week or so with us last month, and I just discovered this picture, although I remember talking about it at the time.  Mrs. T and I were heading out for the evening and somehow Roscoe ended up with a kiss on the forehead, from just sticked lips.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Ricky Jay

A frequently seen on late night 70's television was fellow fat man, and living American legend Ricky Jay and his 52 assistants. For those too young to remember, Ricky is a conjurer, a magician, a card throwing wizard, an incredible story teller, and an extremely entertaining author. His 52 assistants were a deck of playing cards.

On The Tonight Show he would warm up the audience by slowly demonstrating the how to of the 3 card monte, or the hid the ball trick, eventually he would work up to his grand finale, which was typically a display of card tossing. For instance he would ask someone in the back of the audience to hold up a banana. From the stage, Jay would throw a playing card in an effort to slice the fruit. Usually, he succeeded.

Since then he has not faded away. He has toured the world with his one man shows, appeared in many of David Mamet's movies and television shows, including Deadwood.

It has rained all day today and I have been rereading Mr. Jay's best seller "Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women". A touch of the off beat for a gloomy day. If the rain continues, tomorrow promises "Jay's Journal of Anomalies".


Thursday, April 9, 2009

I stake my claim on Perlis

Ladies and Gentlemen, I stake my claim to being the first adult to arrive at Perlis Clothiers, 6070 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, on foot, after having taken public transportation, since the introduction of the air conditioned automobile. You may contact Guinness for confirmation.

I, on the other hand confirm my order for a Guinness.

I mentioned to Mrs. T. at brunch that I was going out for the afternoon. She was welcome to come, but I hoped she had other plans.

So under the threat of severe storms and heavy hail, I hopped the St. Charles streetcar from the edge of the French Quarter to my intended stop at Webster and hoofed the 6 or 8 blocks to Magazine. Have I mentioned it was warm? Humid is understood, it is NO after all. Mercifully, the storms and hail held off.

Perlis is the place where the local Preppies live. I had a ball. Usual brands, with a most knowledgeable and helpful staff. I went for the white suit experience. One of the few places in the US where a man could pull this stunt off with a straight face. They probably had 100 running feet of racks of white linen suits.

It wasn't till later that I remembered what this reminded me of.

Ever take your sons, or perhaps recall your own experience, to that place where little boys get their First Communion suits? Just like that only for big boys. Sizes well into the 60's, just in case Sidney Greenstreet happened by.

What amazed me most of all was that the store was packed. Tuesday afternoon, heavy storms predicted. All I could figure was that must be the pre-Easter crowd, or it's just that good.

New suit arrived yesterday. Fits perfectly, and its just white enough to attract every mote of dirt, dog paw or wayward drip within 25 feet. Next week, I'm ordering the elusive gray/white seersucker suit.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just a wonderment

Ok, so maybe I am not religious. However to my self described credit, I am respectful of the religious choices of others and am tolerant, perhaps too much. Sounds like I have the makings of a good Anglican.

I am also a respecter of tradition, perhaps one of the few left. Allow me to demonstrate.

For Christians and Jews this is a sacred week. Passover, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, all packed into a short period of time. For Believers this is the most important week of the year.

So why (OK I know why, let me rephrase this). How is it that this week also hosts The Masters, The New York Auto Show, countless baseball and sporting events all without outrage?

Anyone else remember when Sandy Koufax wouldn't pitch his turn in the World Series since it fell on Yom Kippur? Can you imagine a pro athlete with such convictions today?

Have we gone so soft? Have the greens keeper taken over the television world? My television will be off, and I'll be with family this weekend. I usually am anyway.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Disappointment

I bet this has never happened to you.

It's rare I make morning appointments. I tend to sleep in, and let the world wake up before me. I believe that since I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time I can leave the merchants and doctor's early appointments for those who do not have the freedom of schedule I have. Makes me feel virtuous.

This morning I had an early appointment. Couldn't be helped. As I lie in the netherworld between dreaming and wakefulness, I mentally assembled my wardrobe for the day. I was gonna look pretty good.

Finally I awoke, had my coffee, attended my ablutions, headed to the closet to assemble my planned outfit, searched too long for the tie and realized I did not OWN a solitary piece of my day's pre assembled raiment. What a downer.


Monday, April 6, 2009

ballad of little dixie

The ballad of Little Dixie:

It's the heart of Missouri, blooded of three,

Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

It's a tall spare man on a bluegrass hoss.

It's sugar-cured ham without raisin sauce.

It's coon dog, coon, persimmon tree.

It's son or brother named Robert E. Lee.

It's tiger stalking a jay-hawk bird.

It's the best hog-calling that ever you heard.

It's fiddler fiddlin' you out of your seat,

Fiddler fiddlin' you off your feet.

It's bluebird singing in a hawthorn thicket.

It's vote to a man the Democratic ticket.

It's crisp brown cracklin's and hot corn pone.

It's catfish fried clean off the bone.

It's hominy grits and none of your scrapple.

It's mellow pawpaws and the Jonathan apple.

It's sorghum sweetenin' and belly-warming corn.

It's old Jeff Davis a-blowin' on his horn.

Unreconstructed it rares and bites

At touch of a rein that would curb its rights.

It's come in, stranger, draw up a chair;

There ain't no hurry and we'll all get there


If you are fortunate enough to garden in a community with 4 seasons, eventually you will come to appreciate ALDF, the average last day of frost. It's a guide for the unwary.

Each March, as the days begin to warm, Lowe's Depot and their ilk begin to display their annual and perennial flower selections. Be careful, it's a trap.

With the warming days, you begin thinking about doing some planting for Easter. Family is coming over, it would be nice to add some color to the garden. Sucks 'em in every time.

As a counterpoint take a look at the full time garden shops. Nary a flower. Why? They know the ALDF. It's coming, but its not here yet.

In Mayberry, the average last day of frost is April 15th. I've been caught out on the 12th and 14th before, a sadder but wiser man go I.

For the past several weeks we have been in a rut. A day of 50, then 60 something , then 70 then back to 50. Those in a rush to plant before Easter once again have mother nature to contend with.

Saturday was 60 something, Sunday 50 is expected. Snow and a high of 35 forecast for Monday, frost Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Every year they suck in the new, the unwary. It oughtta be a crime.


Sunday, April 5, 2009


Same photographer, one month earlier, March 2009 New Orleans Magazine. He's got the chops.


Flicker bulbs?

I promise not to go on forever about New Orleans, but I do have one last observation.

Gas lamps. One of the few remaining cities in the US where you will find a preponderance of old fashioned gas lamps. NO must have stood proud when then they told Jimmy Carter to suck wind. They were not turning their precious gas off.

Gas lantern have come a long way in the last 30 years, but as long as the man in the big truck delivers heat to our house, I'm not yet converting our coach lights to gas. I did discover a suitable substitute though. Flicker bulbs.

Used in moderation they give the appearance of gas light to any chandelier or porch light.

Once again, I realize I'm late to this party, but since they are unavailable in Mayberry (I've checked) I thought I'd pass it on.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Am I being too sensitive?

This ad appears in the April 2009 New Orleans Magazine, and frankly really offends my delicate sensibilities.

Take a close look, you'll see it.

I am willing to take the photo at face value. Pretty girl, beautiful dress, lovely setting. Yet, something is wrong with this portrait. Am I being too harsh?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Nahlins Part Deux

After Mondays dinner the thought of getting up and doing it again was initially a challenge. Why not Brennans' for brunch we decided.

I hadn't worn a tie in daylight in ages, but suitably attired, Mrs. T and I walked the few blocks to one of my favorite restaurants.

The forecast was hot , muggy with strong winds, heavy rains and large hail anticipated. We ate inside.

One of my favorite endeavours is watching rich people enjoying their leisure. That's why I always enjoy lunch out. I like watching the ladies who lunch, or the rich old geezers out much younger women who are not their wives. Long leisurely lunches are gifts from the heavens.
Brennan's did not disappoint. 

Finest Bloody Mary in America. Greatest brunch place in town.  Ate like kings and queens. The last word in service.

A friend of ours is a chef there. Sadly, he was off that day, but just the mention chopped the bill in half.


Imagine the madness

To catch up a bit.

Mrs. T won a trip for two several months ago. We were able to pick from a range of destinations, and selected Nahlins. We hadn't been there since her son's graduation from Tulane the spring before Katrina. Its warmer there than here and we've heard the food is pretty good.


So we left Monday afternoon, were met at the airport by a very nice man in a large shiny car. Arrived at the hotel, checked in, went to our suite and 5 minutes later was a knock at the door.

The concierge very politely welcomed us, wanted us to know the city was at our feet, reminded us of some of the better places, the off the tourist track places and dives. In closing he asked if we had dinner plans and how could he help. We asked he make reservations at Broussards. He said you'll want this then and handed over $500 cash. Enjoy your stay he said.

Imagine giving a fat man $500 to eat with in the Big Easy.

Before I tell you about Brussards let me share a little philosophy. Generally, Mrs T. and I enjoy good restaurants for the food. While out in Mayberry, we are perfectly content to eat dinner early, while the kitchen is gearing up for the mad evening rush, or even a late lunch, as long as we can linger. Dinner as competition, or to so see what neat guy is there is lost on us. Dinner at 6:30 it was.
Brussards is heaven.

The French Quarter was without power for most of the weekend. We were happy to see the world back in its orbit. The advantage of dining early is the staff still has time to be attentive. To linger, to tell you a story, to be people instead of robots. You get first dibs on the better cuts, fresh ingredients, love instead of rote.

The dinning room wasn't crowded, in fact nothing was crowded. We ate outside. The owner's young children played in the courtyard with us. I had the crab cake and smoked salmon appetizer, the chicken gumbo, roast duck with cherries, and chocolate pecan pie, coffee, gin, wine and brandy.

I had to carry the swooning Mrs. T home.

It was an extraordinary meal. The staff attentive, the setting ideal. I'd eat there every other day if I had the opportunity. Tomorrow, Tuesday at Brennan's.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thank you Katy

New Orleans was fantastic. In fact it was my best trip to the Big Easy ever. I'll have a lot to say over the next day or so, in the mean time I need to decompress a bit, and let the memories sink in and attempt to separate fact from fun.

Additionally, I would like to take this opportunity those readers who have becoem followers. I appreciate your interest.

Thanks Katy for a great job.


It's all about who you know

I have a friend, S, who has spent the better part of the last year looking for a new job. She is currently employed but is looking to advance in her career and make more money than she currently is bringing home. While the job market is definitely tough – especially for those in marketing – there are jobs to be found. You just have to be a little flexible. This is the area where S lacks. For her, the job needs to be within a short radius of her house, have a sizeable paycheck and come with pretty standard hours. A few months back, S was interviewing for a job with a locally-based company and I casually mentioned to her that I have a friend, K who works at said company and was likely the final person she would interview with. I said I would put in a good word. Unfortunately for S, right around the time when the company was going to set up the final interview, they announced a hiring freeze and the position was put on hold indefinitely.

Spring forward three months later to present day when a local job website lists this same job as being available again. Needless to say, S contacted me immediately and asked that I put her in contact with K so that she could lobby for the desired position. I talked to K to make sure she would be OK with me passing out her contact information and introduced both women via email. I had sincerely hoped this would be the point at which I could excuse myself from the equation. I thought wrong. I have now been invited to happy hour with both women so that they can meet and network in person. I’m not sure why I need to be there but both feel pretty strongly that they would prefer my presence. At the end of the day, I want S to succeed and find a position that works for her but I don’t really want to be roped in to process. I certainly don’t want friend K to feel like I am pressuring her to make a hiring decision that she would not have done on her own and I don’t want S to feel like she is a shoe in just because I know the person doing the hiring. Hopefully after a glass or two of wine Tuesday night I can convey this to both friends and leave them to network amongst themselves. I realize that in business, who you know plays a very important role but I guess it begs the question of how far should you go to help a friend. Is it best to keep friendship and business separate or do you do what you can to help a friend succeed?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

I was going to have some fun with you and plan an April fool’s day prank for all of Toad’s loyal readers but it occurred to me that you don’t really know me all that well and probably wouldn’t know if I was joking or serious so I had to rethink that plan. I decided to channel Toad and though that something a little more historical was probably in order. So with that, I bring you the unconfirmed origins of April Fool’s Day.

According to several websites, April Fool’s Day began in the 1500s when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian calendar. With the Julian calendar, New Years was celebrated on April 1st. Given that the internet and cell phones had yet to be invented at the time of the switch, many were slow to learn about the calendar change. Those who continued to celebrate New Years on April 1st were teased as being “April Fools”. In my quick research on the topic I found that many cultures revel in this day, each having their own traditions. In England, April Fool’s Day is only celebrated in the morning as it’s considered bad luck to play a practical joke on someone after noon. In Scotland, April Fools Day is all about pranks involving the buttocks and apparently the “Kick Me” signs which are still seen on many a sitcom or highschool hallway can be traced back to Scotland. Who’d of thought? In the United States it is said that if a girl successfully pranks a young man, they will someday marry. Quite honestly, I had never heard this before today but it is a sweet thought so I’ll buy it. The world could use a little more sweetness in my opinion.
Be on your guard today. If you are as gullible as I am, someone is bound to get you! Hopefully it’s all in good fun.