Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Woman who made "The Godfather"

Longwing started it.

For much of the past month he has been rummaging through his mother's family photos, publishing his mother and aunts photos of their late 60's, early 70's selves.

Beautiful preppy girls at the apogee of preppydom. Eye candy for men of a certain age. Ten, maybe 15 years before Longwing's birth.

For all his great shots, he has missed the most important icon of the era. Tomorrow's birthday girl. Alice Macgraw.

Ali had the misfortune of attending the Farrah Fawcett school of acting. She did other things, but is known for only one movie. It made her and broke her.

I read that book Christmas Day, 1970. I was in Air Force basic training, and a paperback was one of the few things from home we were allowed to keep. It was ages before I saw the movie. Thank goodness Jenny didn't survive to see the sequel.

Love Story producer Robert Evans fell for her instantly, and she quickly became his 3rd. wife. He pushed her to make a movie with Steve McQueen, which she didn't want to do. She and Steve were instantly inseparable. Ali became the love of Steve McQueen's life. They were oil and water.

Obviously, I don't know Ali, but do know several women who do. It's widely held that she is one of the most generous, kind hearted women you are ever likely to meet. She was and is gorgeous.

So how did she make "The Godfather"? Paramount Studios was weeks away from closing their doors forever when Ali's big movie was released for Christmas 1970. It made so much money, so quickly, Paramount stayed open. Production of the Godfather began in the spring of 1971, all because love means never having to say your sorry.

If you must know, however ungallant, look up her year of birth. I was stunned.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Happy Birthday

There was a time, forgotten by many now, when self esteem was earned by your own ACCOMPLISHMENTS. It wasn't a god given right to have self esteem. Not everyone received trophies, didn't get adda boys, didn't win the girl, unless your succeeded at something. Preferably something worthwhile.

So imagine, it's the mid '60's. London. A young man emerges from the primordial goo, wanting to be a great musician. He knows he can play guitar pretty well, but that damned Jeff Beck plays far better, and for now is better known. There's a black kid in San Fransisco nipping at his heels too.

Self Esteem is pretty well shot, especially as he looks around and knows people are staying up late at night, printing money in the basement, for his friends The Beatles, and Rolling Stones. He's not hurting for cash, but...

To top it off, his best friend's wife is beginning to look pretty hot to him. Never a particularly good place for your head to be.

Then some SOB spray paints the graffiti in the photo. Devastated him. He crawled, then ran headlong to follow his demons. It took decades to hit low enough that he finally wanted to live, and live he did. Thanks to the love a good woman and the Fender Guitar Corporation. Eventually he earned his self esteem, rose to the top of his profession, and were all the happier for it.

Happy Birthday Mr. Clapton


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Obama's go to Brooks

Have you seen the summer Brooks Brothers catalog?

Its a satirist dream come true. What's sad though, is watching a venerable tradition slide into senility. This catalog may be the greatest example of do not do as I do advertising ever put out by BB's.

Men's sartorial rules are few and far between. The simplest is this. Only one distracting item at a time. It's the same as the women's rule.

So take a gander at this Mad Man. Fourth of July at the club. Nanny reds -perfect. Nanny reds and a bow? No, and I haven't worn a long tie in a decade.

Once upon a time, BB sold a much better version of this shirt. Wasn't seersucker, had long sleeves. They called it the Blandings. It was a perfect summer shirt. This is ugly.

Unless you are British AND in Bermuda you may not wear shorts with a jacket and tie. If you are British and in Bermuda, you must wear socks. Preferably knee socks.

Ladies are permitted to refuse admittance to a man, old enough to buy his own drinks, who shows up at their door attired like the idiot on the right.

As long as we are taking shots, did you notice the coat length on the man on the left? Looks like the coat came from Jos Banks.

I recommend few sartorial rules. One I espouse is "If you wear a tie, you must wear socks." Simple to remember, simple to execute, and I rarely wear socks. He's old enough to know better.

He did it again.

Tom Cruise walks into a bar.....


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Perfect Porches

Along with the sound of a fresh draft beer hitting my glass, one of my many madelines is the word Spring. The hope of Spring makes living in the midwest in late February and March possible. It keeps many of us from jumping from the basement windows.

The word Spring rushes me back some 50 years, to the sound of air conditioners.

Back in the olden days, residential air conditioning was a hoped for promise. A world's fair trick. Life in the future, along with flying cars. The introduction of window a/c units made all things possible. Even life in the South.

In my neighborhood, the window AC lived in the parents bedroom. Kids could nap in there, but it would have had to feel like NOLA in August to let the kids and dogs inside those hallowed precincts at night. Some of the better families had two. One to watch television by. The neighborhood kids hung out there.

It was the AC that killed the porch, altered domestic architecture, and made the suburbs culturally sterile. I miss springtime on the porch most of all.

The current issue of Garden and Gun had a blurb announcing the release of a new book by Paula S. Wallace, President of the Savannah College of Art and Design. "Perfect Porches, designing welcoming spaces for outdoor living". Another Clarkson Potter picture book. I jumped immediately.

Many Potter books highlight the homes of the masters of the universe. Structures and locales few earthly beings know exist. This is somewhat more democratic in its reach. Country porches, southern porches, lakeside cabins, urban neighborhood porches.

I don't necessarily recommend it, Bunny Williams' "An Affair with a House" covers the same ground more eloquently, and Mary Randolph Carter's "Family Style" covers the country porch very well. It was however a good reminder of great days to come.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Toole's

I understand from learned friends that winning a Pulitzer prize requires more than talent. It takes a champion, and a great deal of luck. Winning posthumously magnifies the difficulty. Winning 12 years after your death is unheard of.

Forty one years ago this weekend, a young unpublished writer, overcome by migraines, depression and a liquid diet decided that Biloxi, Mississippi was as good a place as any to end it all. I was in Biloxi at the time, fighting the battle of Keesler AFB, and can't say I would disagree.

His mother Thelma, ten years later, found a smeared carbon copy of her son's unpublished novel in a drawer. Only her determination, and badgering Walker Percy to read her son's novel, Mr. Percy's unexpected understanding of the inherent worth of the work, and push to have it published, led to john Kennedy Toole's "A Confederacy of Dunces", eventual status as an American classic.

For this we thank a mother's love and what a piece of work she was. At best narcissistic, at worst wildly eccentric, she had a brief career appearing on afternoon and late night television shows, regaling anyone who would listen, with stories of her now famous son. It is said she never told the same story twice.

After appearing on Tom Snyder's Tomorrow Show, she returned to her hotel room to watch the program. She told interviewers " that she would love to meet the woman on the show. She seemed so nice."

Snyder invited her back on the show, suggesting he would provide drinks and snacks. " Only Champagne Tom, she replied, "I'm not just someone you can drag in off the streets."

Eventually, the real Ken Toole became unknowable. His mother's hagiography obliterated most of the real man behind the words.

If somehow you haven't read it, please do. Pour a drink, pretend you are in New Orleans, and let the story take over.

Ken where ever you are, thank you.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Not trying to pick a fight

I kinda like the post office. My aversion to fisticuffs makes me unwilling and mentally unable to take on any branch, agency or tributary of the Federal Government in any fight. I do not want my name showing up any one's list, save maybe Nixon's, but I was too young.

That said, if I ran the Post Office, some things may be different. Allow me elucidate.

February 17, a package was sent from the world renowned bow tie maker, Ellie Stager to moi. Ellie kindly sent the link enabling me to follow its route. I enclose yesterday's edition below.

Label/Receipt Number:
Class: First-Class Mail®
Service(s): Delivery Confirmation™
Status: Processed through Sort Facility

Your item was processed through and left our CHARLOTTE, NC 28228 facility on February 18, 2010. The item is currently in transit to the destination. No further information is available for this item.

Enter Label/Receipt Number.

Enter Label / Receipt Number.

Detailed Results:

Processed through Sort Facility, February 18, 2010, 10:45 pm, CHARLOTTE, NC 28228
Electronic Shipping Info Received, February 17, 2010

So I printed a copy and went to the post office. The clerk, took my print out, hummed and hawed a couple of times, went in back, poured a cup of coffee, got a cig, went outside to finish her smoke, eventually returned with the best advice I have ever heard.

The postal clerk said "Friend, consider it lost, that way if it ever shows up it will be a surprise". Can't argue with genius.

Trying to keep from feeling despondent, I went home and checked on the status of another package I am having shipped. This one from California. I include it here.

Tracking number

Processed through Sort Facility, Mar-22-10, 19:53 PM, JERSEY CITY, NJ, 07097
Processed through Sort Facility, SPRINGFIELD, MA, 01152
Processed through Sort Facility, BELL, CA, 90201
Electronic Shipping Info Received, GARDEN GROVE, CA, 92841

California,to Massachusetts, to New Jersey.....

Keep in mind I live in Missouri.

Is it any wonder?


Thursday, March 25, 2010


For all you Dominique Browning fans, and I know there are thousands, her blog and web site just went live.

You may catch it here.



Around 150 AD Catholic church leaders reinvented the Roman orgy, Saturnalia, the winter solstice, as the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Allowing for a bit of wiggle room, December 25th was the agreed upon date. With me so far?

Every good marketeer knows you won't enroll new members by gypping them out of something they always looked forward to. The Church was looking for new blood, so instead of saying, as they later would, "you cannot go to that stupid Roman party" they said, "Come to our new Christmas party". It worked.

Around the same time, a new feast day, Lady's Day was cut from whole cloth. Lady's Day marked the beginning of the liturgical year, and for all intents became the new New Years Day. Not uncoincidentally, Lady's Day, now known as Annunciation Day, was placed exactly nine months before Christmas, March 25. Today, if you will.

Have you ever wondered why the 8th month (oct ober) was really the 10th, or the 10th month (Dec ember) was 12th? Thank Lady's Day.

Around 1582, the Gregorian calendar was instituted throughout Catholic Europe. Its big improvement was to reinstate New Years on January 1, and moved the major liturgical celebrations to a more fixed time period, but didn't move the months.

And there boys and girls is your history lesson for the day. Why do I know this? It's my birthday.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

chuck lorre revisited

You remember seeing it somewhere, but you can't quite put your finger on where.It was here and most likely you haven't haven't kept up with your reading.

Do you know from Chuck Lorre?

Chuck is the creator, producer, writer,god, of such television staples as The Big Bang Theory, Two and a half men,
Dharma and Greg, Cybil, etc. etc. etc.

At the end of each program, after the
credits he publishes a vanity card. You never see it because your TIVO stops too early, or you think its all the legal stuff and don't pay attention. You are missing a lot.

Chuck is twisted. Painfully. His vanity cards are a brief look into every guys mind. I recommend you pay more attention in the future. Or find your favorites
here. We left off in the 240's.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A spring urge

I suspect that women suffer this anxiety every so often, but for completely different reason. It doesn't seem that odd, until you actually want to ask someone about it. Then the words are difficult to form on the lips. Asking the question, out loud, just isn't done. So I'll do it in print.

Do you ever want to see your toes? Just a straight bend your head down and see your feet? I do.

steve burke photo

It's not that I worry about them. I suspect that they are still there, and working as best they can under the enormous loads and unfair working conditions I put them under. I just need a little reassurance.

I can lay down, and hold my feet up and see them. Sometime I get a fleeting glance putting on my socks.

When I rid myself of the spare tire, life will be so much better. I'll see my toes every day. Until then I must resort to these.

Welcome spring!

Monday, March 22, 2010

BoA Blinked

Paige and her father were the receipients of a cashiers check from BOA this afternoon.
When ask to open a new account, without fees, Paige demured.
Let us give thanks, and check our statements, our kid's statements, and our grand kid's too.

Odds and Ends

You must understand that Mrs. T rarely reads these pages. This could be proof positive of her inherent good sense, or her belief that what you don't know can't hurt you. Either way the coast is usually clear.

In this case someone, probably my daughter, tipped her off, and I was fed hot tongue and cold shoulder for what seemed an eternity.

My sole defense, thanks to Foobella, was that I was going, with a smile.

Of course I'm speaking of the Marvin Hamlish ordeal, on St. Patrick's Day.

The ducats were for Mrs. T and a guest only. No trades, no substitutes. She had to go, present a picture ID, and a guest if she could dig one up. It had to be her.

So who spent the day, and the week, curled up with her nebulizer?

She couldn't go, and I was gypped.

We later talked to friends who went. They expected to get out of there long by 7 pm, having time left to partake of at least some of the days festivities, as there would be no leaving the taping early. They left a little after midnight. Whatever enjoyment they had, was lost somewhere along the way.

BOA may have blinked, although nothing has been settled yet. I'll let you know.

Kansas Basketball
Each year I wager #1 son $1,000,000, double or nothing, per game for each of KU's basketball games. By the end of the Big 12 Tourney I'm out half a billion dollars or so. By the second week of the NCAA tourney I'm even. Happens every year.
Whatever hit my bride
Has laid the dogs and I low as well. We are almost on the mend, so tomorrow may have some substance. As well, everyone is finally safely home from Australia. Thank you Ozzies for taking such good care of them.

Be well, enjoy the first week of spring.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Separated at Birth?


Tal Wilkenfeld

For the uninitiated Tal is about the hottest thing to hit the bass guitar since Paul McCartney. She barely 20 and can hold her own playing bass for Jeff Beck and/or Eric Clapton. Whale of a jazz bassist too.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tailors, and a book review

In sheer desperation I consulted reference librarian, ADG of Maxminimus for a recommendation on a book I wanted to order. He choked at my choice, and instantly wrote that "my eyes should fall out reading such trash, read this instead." Where upon he sent me a link to Richard Anderson's book, Bespoke: Savile Row Ripped and Smoothed.

The book wasn't bad, but I don't believe it had the effect the author intended. Mr. Anderson was a long time tailor at the reknown Savile Row tailor Huntsman.

Over time Huntsman, lost their way, falling from the the top rung, to become just another shop, albeit the priciest on the Row, and that's saying something.

Anderson got out in time, and hung his own shingle, next door to his old firm, and is doing very well thank you. The point I took from the book, was most of the stuff on the Row is so-so, the big names fall, and you're most likely to leave Savile Row, down the price of a new car, for a suit that you're likely to be unhappy with.

Another voice in the wilderness is Steven Hitchcock of The Savile Row Tailor. He took over Alexander McQueen's seat when McQueen left Anderson and Sheppard. His blog often focus's on conducting a post mortem (ripping apart other tailors clothes) to see how well they are constructed. Often he is not amused.

Which is long way to get to my point.

A length of 10 ounce navy linen cloth showed up on my doorstep yesterday. Enough for a jacket, but probably not a DB. I've spent the day scrounging pieces to take to the tailor, so that he can work his alchemy.

The lining will be an old silk escape map.

The buttons from a Benson and Clegg set.

Now for the details, stealing heavily again from ADG.

One button front. This was an old Huntsman conceit. Their jackets are cut like body armour. My body is not, but I like the look.

Two button sleeves. It's all I have buttons for.

Side vents. As a right hand in my pants pocket man, I just like the way side vented coats move.

Besome pockets with ticket pocket. I keep Mrs. T's smoking supplies in there.

I haven't decided on the collar yet. If there is enough for a DB, then shawl. Otherwise, I just don't know, and am open to suggestions.

Finally, I'm torn. The material feels like it wants to soak in a tub for a couple of days before being handed off. Any ideas?

With luck, if I drop it off soon, I may get it back before the Easter bunny hits town.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Art? Part 3 The stall is working

We have visited the ART Man's gallery in the past. You can revisit our excursions here, and here.

Mrs. T and I drove by Sunday to see how things were progressing. Much has changed since our visit over the holidays. The man's megalomania may never end. In the mean time, 3 of his closest neighbors have placed their homes for sale. Similar homes two blocks away in the same subdivision sell for $100k more. Go figure.






Happy St. Paddy's Day to y'all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Upgrade the neighborhood

Buddy David, of Midwestern Malaise has off and on publicly fretted about his need/want of new garage doors, but at the same time lamented the expense replacing the doors would be. His neighbors may be willing to chip in, if only he'd ask, but I suggest a third way, mayhaps a better way to solve his dilema.

Why live with nasty old garage doors when you can have this?

or perhaps

or my favorite

Or David's?

A creative type could probably fashion their own. Fairly easy to make and install, inexpensive, impressive and fitting for all neighborhoods.

Whatta think David?


Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday

Have you seen Dr. Henry Louis Gates' current PBS series on tracing family history and how the use of genetics makes discovering your family's roots almost an exact science? I find it riveting.

In the course of the series Dr. Gates' researchers have traced the family tree of six or seven people you have all heard of. Meryl Streep, Yo Yo Ma, Eva Longoria, Steven Colbert, et al.

The stuff he found! If you haven't seen it look for it. I promise you will enjoy it.

One of my hobbies is an interest in the other than Anglo history of North America. Taught history relies almost exclusively on who, how and what the British did. Others were here first, and yet we are taught almost nothing of it.

Dr. Gates includes the history of today's birthday girl's family back to, and including, a petition, her many times great grandfather made to the King of Spain asking to be allowed to join his uncle in the new world. The request was granted. Ancient relative arrived 10 years before the Mayflower.

This young Latina chica's family has been here longer than ANY New England founding family, and today is her birthday.

By the time the Mayflower landed ancient relative had been granted land in what is now Texas. The family has been there since. A more recent great grandfather, without moving off the family property, lived under 5 flags in his lifetime. Spain, Mexico, Texas, the Confederacy and the US.

Recognize her now?

Happy Birthday, Eva Longoria.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

How'd BOA miss this?

This is the little girl who was robbed by Bank (thanks for the Tarp) of America.

In the March 6, 2010 Economist appeared this article. Click on the story to enlarge it.

Reread the last line very carefully, and imagine how much stealing BOA could do in the interest of public service. It's a wonder they didn't think of it first.


Friday, March 12, 2010

A Sartorial Observation

Men's business clothing is boring as hell. Blue, gray, stripe, no stripe. White shirt, blue shirt. It's not only boring to look at, its boring to wear. It's a uniform, and short of embroidering names on jacket fronts it needs to be treated as a uniform.

Don't even get me started on formal wear. By definition, formal wear rules for straight men require a man to be a neutral backdrop for the dish on his arm. Black suit, white shirt. What's more bland. The lack of respect for this simple rule is part of the reason men at the Oscars look so damn stupid.

There is no such thing as flashy formal wear. If you want proof, look at the characters in a symphony orchestra. Musicians and wavers dress to mute their personal virtuosity. To not get in the way of the tunes. It works.

Gym rat that I have become, depending upon what time of day I show up, I can get doused with Ellen or Dr. Phil on one set of monitors and ESPN on the others. Mercifully, without my glasses I can barely see the floor, but I have seen enough ESPN lately to make one observation. It may be a rule.

Except for the old white men, big conference and pro basketball coaches, both men and women are collectively the best dressed people in America.

I base this on a small sample size, but the rationale is sound.

Most of the men, were players. Being big, much of their clothing is custom. Many are young enough to still read GQ, and are influenced by what influences their players. They are paid well, and I would suspect NIKE, et al slips a bit of a clothing allowance into their Christmas stocking,along with a personal shopper.

Save for the size issue, women coaches are have the same incentive to look well.

Over the next couple of weeks, look around. I may be right.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Scotsmen and their sports

I've written before about my sports allergies, they're real. Caused me to miss the Olympics. Every last second of them.

What stuck with me though while I wasn't watching was how many normally clear thinking people blogged, wrote and talked about how they saw that their future involved Curling. At the time that struck me as odd, even for Americans.

Over a short whisky one evening, the reason this madness had taken over, became as close as the glass in my hand. It was the winter Scotch madness. Allow me to explain.

Much like Catholics, if you weren't born Scottish you're unlikely to become one. They're different from you and me, and we'd never catch up.

To an uncluttered mind the Scots are known for 3 things. Whisky, golf, and funny clothes.

Let's begin with the whisky. A natural product known for bringing courage to even the dourest of Scots. Some even develop a smattering of a sense of humor, in a dry, droll sort of way.

At home Mrs. T and I call it the "boy's and beer" excuse. Most things bad, can generally be blamed on a mixture of young males and too much beer. It's not much of a stretch to go from boys and whisky to swell games like caber (telephone pole) tossing.

You can pretty well imagine how this got its start.

A few telephone pole throws can play hell on your back, so even a blind man can see the appeal of looking for a similar game only with a smaller stick. Hence golf.

The aesthetics of Caber tossing required the old family kilt, but being male, golf participants needed an entirely new set of threads and toys, something to show off not only family pride, but also great bravery and daring do.

Somehow this madness caught on, and whole fields of the similarly attired can be found throughout the world on any given day. Some people even travel great distances, just for the opportunity to wear such duds.

Well, like sands through an hourglass, every year the seasons turn and eventually it becomes unpleasantly cold chasing a harmless golf ball around a field, so participants retire to a smoky room to reminisce and plan the next years clothing.

One year, after a bit of too much courage, a golf boy told his friends about how Italians play a game called boccie. A few persuaders later they rose as one from their den into the cold to give it a try. Wooden balls on snow didn't work. A few more persuaders and someone said, let's try it on the loch, and so they did, and it was good.

Being that they were male they needed new attire for this toe curlingly cold, ice boccie. A quick look into their sporting lockers gave all the inspiration needed.