Monday, April 30, 2012

Confederate Memorial Day

I like soldiers. I like ours, I like theirs.

Throughout history, soldiers have mostly been obedient kids, doing a job their elders told them to do without thought, or concern for the reasons why. They have performed their jobs honorably, to the best of their ability, asking nothing in return. I firmly believe that if the Geneva Convention required the pool of conscripts to begin with politicians then 40 to 50 year olds, the world would be a much safer place.

In Mississippi, today is Confederate Memorial Day, one of four days set aside in the southern US to commemorate those who died defending their homeland. I find the tribute fitting.

Americans died during the Civil War, far from home, in venues barely imagined. The Confederate memorial above is in Higginsville, Missouri, near Kansas City, a battlefield far from your notion of where a traditional Civil War battlefield should be. The men memorialized there fought and died, some for a cause they believed in, some because fighting was expected of them.

History is not only about the winners. Today, we honor American sacrifice. Wherever, why ever, how ever, it is important that we do so.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Harper lee

To Kill a Mockingbird in grade school, I naturally assumed at the time that since the book was set in the '30's Nelle Harper Lee must be long dead. I was wrong. She is very much alive and kicking and today is her birthday.

Those who care know the story and backstory of her only published novel, so I shan't repeat them here. I will leave you with one piece of Lee family trivia. Harper's big sister Alice, is the oldest practicing attorney in Alabama. Aged 101, Alice knows and remembers all the secrets.

Happy Birthday Ms. Lee and thank you.


Friday, April 27, 2012


Guernica by Pablo Picasso

On this date in 1937, German and Italian bombers at the behest of Generalissimo Francisco Franco (who is STILL dead btw) destroyed the Basque town of Guenrica in an effort to open the hearts and minds of the Spanish Basques towards Franco during the Spanish Civil War.

Prior to the bombing the National Spanish Government (the pre-Franco government) had asked Pablo Picasso to come up with a little something to exhibit at the World's Fair in Paris later in the year. He created his masterpiece, Guernica, for the exhibit, an anti-war protest mural 11 feet high x 25.6 feet wide (3.5 meters x 7.8 meters). It accomplished its goal by focusing world attention for a while on the Spanish Civil War atrocities, but didn't change the fact that Franco still won.

Today, the painting lives at the Museo Reina Sophia in Madrid, across the street from the Prado. Close up it's unsettling, even after a long day of museums and Picasso this and Picasso that. See it if you can, the Reina Sophia is a great museum. Guernica may be it's most famous resident but not the coolest.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cure for Happiness

Is this beautiful spring making you unusually happy? Too full of life's good cheer? The smell of honeysuckle and lilac in the morning making you giddy with joy? If your life is a beer commercial and you're happy as a clam about it, come back tomorrow, but if all this sweetness and light is just a bit too much for you, and you are in the US, there's hope.

Turner Classic Movies has the medicine to drop kick you into a four day funk. Tune in tomorrow, April 26, from 6am EDT while TCM airs back to back to back... adaptations of several Tennessee Williams' classics, some he even had a hand in adapting for the screen, although it's unlikely he remembered.

Scheduled are:

Night of the Iguana
Period of Adjustment
Sweet Bird of Youth
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Baby Doll

Not a laugh, nor hardly a smile all day. Set your TIVO to record and you can self medicate anytime.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sartorial advice from the St. Louis Post Dispatch

from Tumblr

This from Debra D. Bass, fashion editor of Sunday's St. Louis Post Dispatch. See if you can tell where I quit reading.

"Simple spruce-ups for guys can put a spring in your step"

"Fitted unlined one or two button sport jacket: The key word here is fitted. In case you are wondering how fitted, if you can button it without taking a breath it's too big. Am I exaggerating? Not really. For one thing, this might not be a jacket that you ever need to button. But it shouldn't look like you're wearing a kids jacket. Most guys err on the too-loose side and it look sloppy. Make sure it fits your shoulders. If you can do a cartwheel without splitting your jacket, it's too big. But a great jacket is the right look to class up a fitted T-shirt and colored cotton pants or jeans, and it's a great switch from a boring sport coat."

Or in other words, dress from the back of your closet.


Monday, April 23, 2012


I'm unlikely to hurt your feelings by saying "We are all voyeurs." It's part of the human condition. We snoop, we eavesdrop on the next table, we make up stories based upon snippets gleaned at great distance. So what?

I found the list above stuck in a book I picked up at the library, and have spent far too much time attempting to create its context. Judging by the handwriting it was probably written by a young woman in preparation for ....Peppermint ramen? Ninja jewelry? A hot weekend in Japan?

The list's reality is probably so much better than I can make up.

Happy Birthday Mr. Shakespeare.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

What would the Queen wear?

From our friends at

I envy the stamina and dedication to duty the Queen of England has. Every day, same stuff different day, it's got to grate at some point, yet she puts on her smile and faces the crowds day after day.

Having dolts for children may be her worst failing, one of the few occasions she let down the side. Britain has survived worse than Charlie, hopefully they will survive him as well.

Vogue chased the Queen down to finally put paid to the question of what colours does HM favor for her public outings. The answer?

4% Yellow
11% Green
29% Blue
10% Purple
11% Cream
10% Pink
4% Red
4% Orange
13% Floral
2% Black
1% Checked
1% Beige

Now you know too.


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Maybe-Maybe Not

with thanks to Up Magazine, the humor magazine of the Upper Peninsula.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Please make a change

Fellow bloggers,

Occasionally, in their infinite wisdom Google changes the magic which makes Blogger work. Ofttimes the magic has unintended consequences that Big Brother won't admit to, so we users are left to our own devices to create a work around. Well, I've been Googled, and perhaps you have too.

I am unable to post comments on your blog unless, if and only if, comments appear in a pop up window. I know G didn't single me out for this special attention because smart people who also were victimized told me how to solve this problem, so I'm not taking personally, but I do miss adding my 2 cents here and there.

There is a fix, but you have to do it. It's not hard, won't change the appearance of your blog, and might reawaken commentators thought lost who are secretly crying in the wilderness. Here is what you need to do.

At the top of your New Post Page, or Edit Post page there are several tabs.

Click on Settings

Within Settings: Click on Comments

3 lines down at Comment Form Placement, click pop up window

At the bottom of the page click Save

All done, and it took longer to read than to do.

Your readers thank you.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Doolittle's Raid

General Doolittle thanking the workers at the B-25 plant

Pre-Viet Nam, long before children had rights, young boys with toy guns in hand would liberate their fathers Army helmets and ammo belts or visit the Army-Navy surplus store to gather their kit for playing war games with the neighbor boys. Along with plastic army men it was an essential part of growing up.

When it was too dark to play, we read the pulp WWII story books of the wars heroes and villains written for children. It gave us ammo for the next days war. As we became too old to play with our war toys, our taste in war books improved. I still have my favorite, a first printing of the 1943 Random House Wartime book "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo", by Captain Ted Lawson.

It opens: "I helped bomb Tokyo on the Doolittle raid of April 18, 1942. I crashed in the China Sea. I learned the full, deep meaning of the term "United Nations" from men and women whose language I couldn't speak. I watched a buddy of mine saw off my left leg. And, finally I got home to my wife after being flown, shipped and carried around the world." Who wouldn't be hooked?

Reminded of the Doolittle raid, it took place 70 years ago today, by a friend over the weekend, I reread Lawson's tome Monday.

Several weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, barnstormer Lt. Col Doolittle convinced his superiors that with luck and a lot of preparation it might be possible to bomb mainland Japan, providing the first U.S. offensive blow against the Japanese empire and boosting morale at home. The morale part was key to having the mission approved.

The plan was to have a squadron of 16 B-25 bombers on board the aircraft carrier USS Hornet take off on April 19th 400 miles from Japan. Flying low, at night, they would hit Tokyo, Kobe and Nagoya, unseen by Japanese war planes and land 100 miles inland in China.

The Hornet was spotted early on the 18th, by a Japanese cruiser, which was quickly sunk, but without knowing if the cruiser had radioed an alert. Believing it had, the bombing raid began immediately, in daylight, 800 miles from their intended target. Burning a gallon of fuel a minute the big bombers hit Tokyo on the fumes, all but one ran out of fuel before reaching their intended landing base, their mission a huge success.

As good a read as it is, it made a better movie, best seen on the Late Show. Filmed, using video from the raid, the movie is incredibly realistic. Spencer Tracy as Doolittle and Van Johnson as Lawson.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Marconi Message

18 April 1912
From Carpathia

To: William Mansfield
Washington Street
Morristown, N.J.

Safe on Carpathia. Telephone friends Newark, New York


A day early, I know.


Monday, April 16, 2012

paul revere's ride

Today is Patriot's Day in New England. A day long set aside in New England for remembering the battles of Lexington and Concord, the first of the American revolution.

Ask most Americans what they know of the battles and except for a blank stare you may, if lucky, be held captive by a recitation of the famed Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem "The Midnight ride of Paul Revere". "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere..." you may read the rest here. The uninitiated might be forgiven for believing that Paul won the war, however like most history Paul's story is mostly hooey, with a bit of irony tossed in for good measure.

On the night of April 18, 1775 Revere found 2 men who agreed to row him across the Charles River, so that he might better see a warning signal. The signal, one or two lighted lanterns in the North Church steeple, "One if by land, two if by sea..." was his sign to gather his horse and ride to Lexington and Concord warning the citizen's along the way that "the British are coming." Revere was joined by 2 other riders, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott, only one succeeded.

The three men were soon stopped by a British patrol. Revere never saw the signal. Dawes and Prescott escaped, along with their horses. Dawes soon became lost and never completed his ride. Prescott did make it to Concord, and successfully warned the townsfolk, who were armed and waiting when the British arrived.

Revere was eventually freed, but not his horse. He walked back to Lexington arriving in time to watch the battle taking place on Lexington Green. Paul did fight on the colonist side during the revolution, but was tried for cowardice, and acquited by American General Pelig Wadsworth, grandfather of the poet who later made Revere famous.

So why the rewriting of history? Midnight Ride was published in 1861, by Longfellow, a staunch abolitionist. The "Ride" was a contemporary call to arms. This time to the U. S. Civil War.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tax Tales

Traditionally, US personal income tax returns are due April 15th. American's spend billions of dollars on tax preparers in the hopeful, but mostly ineffective, effort to transfer the burden of record keeping and effort onto someone else. To add a bit of levity to those rushing to complete their own returns (you either laugh or cry why preparing your tax return) I have researched what learned men and women have had to say on government and taxes.

"Just because you don't take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." Pericles 430 B.C.

"In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other." Voltaire 1764

"No man's life or property is safe while the legislature is in session." Mark Twain 1866

"The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin." Mark Twain

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." Thomas Jefferson

"Government's view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases: if it moves tax it. If it keeps moving regulate it. And if it stops moving subsidize it." Ronald Reagan

" A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul." G.B. Shaw

I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." Winston Churchill

"Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenage boys." P. J. O'Rourke

"Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." Douglas Casey

and finally

"What this country needs are more unemployed politicians." Edward Langley

Since April 15 is a Sunday this year, and Patriot's Day is Monday, returns are due not later than the 17th, so you better get cracking.


PS: an early edition of yesterday's post made mention of our skipping off to Charleston yesterday. Due to severe weather we had to postpone. I'm heartbroken.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

On this day-1865

U.S.President Abraham Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C.. His death the next morning, forever changed,and not for the better, the history of the former Confederacy.

engraving by Currier and Ives


Friday, April 13, 2012

Have you a bucket list?

Selling books about bucket lists is big business so perhaps they have persuaded you to create one. This is a story about someone's list.

Mrs. T's mother has a life long girlfriend; they met in kindergarten and have been closer than sisters ever since. The girlfriend, who is as much a part of our extended family as hers, is one of God's gifts to mankind. The world is a better place in many countless, anonymous ways because of she and her loving family. I'm blessed to have gotten to know them.

Girlfriend, who might pass for 15 years younger, had a mega-milestone birthday last week. At her birthday bash, after the cake, the toasts and her husband's heartfelt speech attesting to what a joy their marriage has been, he presented his lovely bride with a gift from her bucket list, in front of 75 or so of her nearest and dearest.

2012 triple black Porsche

I made my own list as soon as we arrived home.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wm. King Clothiers-Bristol, Tennessee

Remember when mother would take you to the department store? It was a big deal. Shopping then wasn't far removed from Miracle on 34th Street. In whichever department we shopped, whatever we may have purchased, Mother told the clerk "send it". No lady sullied her white gloved hands schlepping packages home. Sometime later that day, or certainly no later than the next morning our packages would be delivered by a man in uniform, beautifully wrapped in mountains of tissue.

Sharing that story with my children might have me committed. Verily, there was such once a day, although to paraphrase Dylan Thomas, it is "now and out of all sound."

Such a place still exists however. I was telephone shopping with my friend Wm. King of
Wm. King Clothiers in Bristol, Tennessee not long ago. He invited me down for the NASCAR doings held nearby, but I passed, giddily happy to be amongst people who love sharing their passion for fine clothing.

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing I eventually made my mind up, and placed an order that was more trouble to Mr. King than it was worth. Ever the gentleman he kept a straight face and pretended he had all day. I love shopping there.

Amongst the mound of exquisite wrapping was this belt from Southern Proper, which in a just world I'd be considered too old or not old enough to be sporting. Now that I appear horizontally thinner I do not care.

The green ribbon which tied the package is their signature croakie. How cool is that?
If you're unable to stop in give William a call, just never on Wednesday. Thank you Mr. King. I do so love our time together.


Disclosure: This post like all others is my gift to you and Mr. King, and not a paid endorsement. No compensation was offered or accepted in exchange for this post, save for my paying for the goods I purchased. I've got the receipt.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two bits of reassurance

We are each our own worst critics, and my horizontal seersucker suit had been quietly festering, until yesterday. You must thoroughly understand that I love the suit. I know that for I have named it, which is always a good sign. I'm not beyond telling Mrs. T that I'm taking Bubba out for the evening, when asked what I plan to wear. Bubba and I await a lifetime of fabulous memories.

Whatever apprehension I had evaporated when I saw the photo below, swiped from tumblr. This dude trumps and looks fantastic. I love the pocket.

On the plus side, while trying to find the name of the Brit tailors who purposefully tailor horizontal corduroy suiting (Cordarounds) I can across this tidbit from The Guardian and from Cosmos. According to learned, scientific study (of a sort) it's horizontal stripes that make the wearer appear thinner, not vertical. So there.

I promise this is the last word on Bubba for quite some time, for I have tamed the beast.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

raising the roof

When the student is ready the teacher will come, or in my case the builder. Six years ago, in honor of my bride's love of horses, we purchased the weather vane shown above, believing that having the necessary cupola built and installed would prove a piece of cake. That was a lie, as many tonics on the veranda were required to fully understand the intricacies required. It ain't as simple as nailing a doghouse on a roof.

Our pool house was built in 2 phases. The second phase was 22 years ago, when the building was expanded, and the roof replaced, and not a moment's thought has been given to that roof since. Time had taken a toll so it was time to pry it off and start again. This time with a cupola.

After the Fashionista saw the plans she ask if I was excited. "Not yet" I replied, "it's just talk until the job is completed."

The roofer is the brother of a neighbor who also happens to be a house builder. "Build us a cupola" I said, much like a Knight of Ni demanding a shubbery. "I can give you a $X up to a $XXXX cupola whichever you prefer", was his reply. We settled on a number and he set to work. In a few days the roof went on.

I woke the morning after the roofer left to find what looks like a cistern or perhaps a bathtub on my roof, and a MacArthurian note saying "I shall return." That was Friday.

On Monday I awoke to find the finished product.

I am now excited.


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Eternal Springing of Hope

Along with being a forgetful gardener I am also overly patient. While in some parts of the country wisteria is a deer resistant nuisance weed, it is rarely seen here. Naturally, that causes me to want to grow it. I'd want to grow deer resistant palms in the Arctic, if I was there, but that's another story.

Six years ago, we moved to The Park, moving many plants from our previous home along with us, including 3 wisteria purchased in Hope, Arkansas the year before. I transplanted them along a farm fence and promptly forget about them.

The first winter here was brutally cold, with lots of ice which killed most every plant in the ground. The following spring, the wisteria stalks were black, and I believing them dead, pulled 2 out in the fall, one I seemingly lost or missed one.

Two years later I planted 2 locally hardy wisteria which thanks to benign neglect are becoming well established. Last week, while I clearing honeysuckle along the fence row I found this,

my lost wisteria. 5 years later it has returned from the dead. Seems fitting for Easter season.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter funnies

Happy Easter friends, and thank you.

Rejoice, we may now wear white.

With Meg Fairfax Fielding of Pigtown Design
Summer 2011
Earlier that day with ADG

Happy Easter from our home to yours.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Shiloh, Tennessee

This weekend marks the 150th anniversary of the US Civil War Battle of Shiloh, the first major battle of the war, and perhaps the most important Union victory. The Union army headed by Generals Grant and Sherman along with 40,000 troops were surprised by 30,000 rebels under the command of General Johnston. Barely a year after Fort Sumter fell, few soldiers on either side, except those in Grant's army had ever been in battle, and most were young, brave, men unprepared for the carnage of 23,000 casualties over 2 days.

While it is easy to play what if, some what ifs include the likelihood that the Union victory kept Kentucky and Missouri officially, if not always in spirit, in the Union. Until near the end of the war, the Confederacy maintained a policy of not invading the north, hoping to appeal to British sensibilities.

Had Grant been defeated at Shiloh, no other Union Army stood in the way of the Confederacy attacking St. Louis, and cities north. Grant probably would never have been heard of again. As it was, Grant wrote in his memoirs that he realized at Shiloh that the Civil War would be a war of attrition, it might take a while but superior numbers would prevail over the south.

Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump and a number of histories has recently published
Shiloh 1862, a history of the Battle of Shiloh. If you have an interest, he's making the rounds of television and radio appearances. I recommend you give a listen, he's a wonderful speaker. The book is on my nightstand, but I haven't yet begun.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Happy Passover



How many books have been written about Winston Churchill? Enough that Barry Singer opened Chartwell Booksellers in Manhattan, the only book shop in the world devoted to Mr. Churchill. Singer is also a gifted writer who discovered a new way to approach his well covered subject and has done it brilliantly.

Churchill Style tells the story behind the man, by focusing on the personal details that made such a unique life. Each chapter, which covers approximately a decade, retells the well known story of his life then adds Churchill's personal touches, his sense of fashion, where he shopped and what for, his choice of automobiles, cigars, homes, and entertainment. It also explains how a man who was often close to the edge financially lived so large.

It's a great read. ADG will provide the details.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

sistine chapel

As we enter the most sacred week of the Christian calendar, It might be fun to explore some of the treasures of the Vatican library. The Vatican, it what may be a first in its history, has embraced new technology, in this case the Internet, to make its contents, and the world's religious sites more widely available to the general public.

Not all will ever have the opportunity to visit Rome or to have a private tour of the Sistine Chapel. The Chapel, famous for its ceiling frescoes by Michelangelo,

The Vatican link to the Chapel and its magnificent ceiling may be found here. For best results, give it time to load, expand to full screen and use your arrow keys to navigate around the building.

Next, travel to Milan and take the virtual tour of the Church of Santa Maria della Grazie's dining hall which is home to two of Leonardo Da Vinci's more famous paintings, The Last Supper, which Christians commemorate this Thursday, and the Crucifixion of Christ which is celebrated on Friday. See Leonardo's Last Supper by following the link. The Crucifixion appears opposite the Last Supper and can be viewed by panning around the room, or may be seen here.

Enjoy your tour.


Revised when sentient.

Monday, April 2, 2012

RMS Titanic leaves Belfast

On May 31,1911 the RMS Titanic slid into the waters of Belfast's Victoria Channel for the first time. Aided by 23 tons of soap, oil and tallow, along with the aid of gravity it took 62 seconds to hit the water. It took nearly a year to kit her out, and make ready for life at sea.

On this date in 1912, Titanic began her maiden voyage to Southampton, and into infamy. The Belfast "News Letter" wrote that day, "The mammoth vessel presented an impressive and picturesque spectacle, looking perfect from keel to truck...and the latest triumph of the shipbuilders' art then left for Southampton, carrying with her the best wishes of the citizens of Belfast"


Sunday, April 1, 2012