A Gift Well Fit for Festivus

I think she said, and I quote, “That is the hippiest, eternally un-cool, whitest, most annoying thing I could ever possibly imagine.” She said it matter of fact, with tangible disgust.

We were having a pre-holiday discussion where spouses communicate expectations in hopes that neither would be disappointed. I have been told that the secret to happiness is lowered expectations, which is extra true at Christmas, but I have also learned that the best way to get what you want, is to ask.

So I said “bongos”.

At first she just sort of shot me a look like, “Stop playing around we are trying to get stuff done here,” to which I responded by restating my seriousness. That is when she said that original quote, followed by this threat, “If you buy yourself bongos I am not sure I can respect, (which may be inevitable) or find you attractive, ever again.”

There lives a bro deep down inside me that finds threats funny, but less deep inside me is a middle aged father, and when a Dad thinks things are funny he posts them on Facebook. So I posted my Christmas wish online with the caption that my wife had threatened me.

I chuckled to myself, she did not, but this happens daily so we both went on with our lives.

Yesterday morning as we were wading through the stacks of poorly labeled boxes the Missus started in on a giant Amazon box till she found a note that said “Because you have been such a good boy- Santa.” This indicated the gift was for me, not her, but the mystery of Santa’s identity inspired her to continue the unboxing. As soon as I saw the brand name on the black padded bag I knew what it was and started snickering. She was less familiar but looking at me chuckle made her nervous and suspicious.

Then disgusted.

I am not sure I have really disgusted her before, no, that’s not true, but this time wasn’t scent related, rather it was a deep repulsion from me as a person. As I watched my wife mentally planning her future as a single mother, I saw a much smaller box with no listed sender and quickly instructed a child to hand it to her mother.

The smaller gift was indeed addressed to her and contained…

 a multi-pack of earplugs.

I will not lie and say she smiled, but there was a smirk.

It was the look of someone stung by defeat yet beaten in such style that they had no choice but give a nod of respect to the victor. ‘Twas a mysterious victor- truly not me. I did not collude, I simply put it out there online.

I am proud to have lived my life in such a way that I know the sort of people who, despite thousands of miles of distance, and nearly a decade gap in real communication, will re-emerge with panache’ when an opportunity to troll my wife is revealed. How could anyone be mad at that?

It has been less than 24 hours and both gifts are already well used.

Holiday Purchasing Guide for 2020

This worldwide pandemic has meant some unforeseen adjustments in my life. One such has been a dramatic increase in online purchases. Some of these have been socially responsible efforts, such as the can of green spray paint I ordered rather than picking up in person, because who knows who is infected with what at Home Depot. Other orders might have been a bit more frivolous, such as the rejected raw cut baseball bat I bought, which then required green spray paint for decoration.

I needed this decorated bat to hang on my wall so that my wife could answer the question, “Why is there a bat on the wall behind you?” while she is on important Zoom calls.

Because I am a team player.

Another example of me contributing to the better life of others is this list of things I have found while slumming through the consumer side streets of the internet. I am doing so now, giving you just enough time to order the same things immediately, and have them arrive just AFTER Christmas.

Modest Vintage Player boxing gloves. These are the most beautiful and classy tools with which to do something potentially ugly and base- punch stuff. I only got the gloves but really want the matching heavy bag and mitts.

A while back I included a steel banded watch on my most wanted list. Now that I mostly sit indoors looking at a screen that always has the time of day up there in the corner, I bought a watch. It was way less than $100, the brand name will impress no one, and I am so, so, satisfied with it. It is exactly what I wanted and that is rarely what I get.

Lest I think myself modest, I balanced out my humble watch by buying two hyper pretentious Penn patches. I am toying with the idea of adding one to the pocket of a blue blazer but know full well such would make me too self-conscious to ever wear it. But I will want to.

Early on in the pandemic I came across an online ad, on Instagram, from a company with a name I had never heard before, in China. I will admit I had my doubts but what I saw was an accordion folding lattice covered in fake leaves that would perfectly screen the peeling paint on my back fence from view. The price was impossible to pass up, so I gave it a shot. After four months of waiting what I finally got was an 8”x11” frame that when expanded covered approximately one of my legs. I was a bit upset by the false advertising, but I did have to admit the price I paid was appropriate for the product.

After 5 years (more likely 15) of looking them up, but never buying anything, I ordered a tomahawk. I recently got a notice that my selected item is on back order and I would be updated when its status changes.

I wallowed a bit in a pool of guilt thinking I should have forgone such indulgences in favor of saving my pennies for more worthy things like sending my kids to college or maybe even a one day affording a mortgage. I felt enough of this guilt that I steeled my will, did the math, and discovered that with the amount I was spending all I would need to do is redirect these funds to high return stocks and in a mere 15 years, with discipline and austerity, I would finally have enough for a down payment on a used 1998 hatch back. Which of course dropped me into a deep disgust for our world but I felt much better about myself.

Tis’ the Season for Festive Foolishness

I advocate for leading a life of sophistication and collected calm. Anything rowdy or without deeper meaning is to be avoided. As the kids might say, I keep it classy.sammytree

For example, I support the attendance of dinner parties where one can commune with thought leaders and sophisticates. Mingling with those who elevate thought and decorum is the best use of one’s evenings.img_2419

There may be occasions where physical exertion is appropriate, but dignity should predominate. If an outing is to happen, one need not lower one’s self. img_2985

Music is an important part of creating an atmosphere of celebratory sophistication. Many of the great symphonies and orchestras perform the classics during this holiday season as a service toward the elevation of humanity.img_3341

When dining one should not overindulge. Moderation takes a back seat only to presentation. Please remember that seating arrangements and plating are what truly makes a dining experience “fine”.tghl2098

There is at this time of year a tradition of gift giving. I reservedly participate but remind us all that the appropriate response should always be quiet reserve and calm.kujg1621

I like to think of myself as an example of intellectualism and decorum. The world needs more of this. There is far too much noise and irreverence. I am above such things and would that this were true for us all.img_3490

Yes. A paragon of elevation am I. And as such, I bid you all a happy new year.xqcy1470

For Christmas I Want More Christ-like Behavior: from everyone

I like stuff, especially nice stuff. Sometimes I focus on “stuff” or things, because inanimate objects can be subjected to scrutiny without rebuffing the scrutinizer. People, or society, do no such thing and not only despise scrutiny, but too often dish it out in inhumane ways. I may be guilty of this myself, but for today’s Christmas wish I’m ignoring my own faults and look at others.IMG_1647

For Christmas I wish people with money would stop complaining about those with less.

Even those of us, especially those of us, who work hard yet still struggle to almost hold on to middle class, should stop complaining or worse yet blaming poor people for the problems of the world.passed out subway

I wish we, all of us, would stop that. It isn’t Christ like. This is Christmas.

Those in poverty are not without their faults, nor are the middle or the rich. What the poor are without is comfort and power. Why would those of us with something, no matter how little, resent those with less? The idea that the poor are the source of modern American troubles is not only false, but in my mind, a morally indefensible idea. WE, the collective we, including the rich and the middle are all guilty of moral corruption and I am tired of the demonization of those who inhabit the bottom rung of society.couchontheblock

I can think of nothing crueler, nothing as polar opposite of charity and kindness, than to abuse (in any way) those who suffer in poverty. For Christmas I wish we as a nation would be more Christ-like.

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A Blanket, Sorta.

Stick with me for a minute on this one. Textiles influence our surroundings much more than most folks realize. Picnics, bedspreads, beach towels, tablecloths, throw blankets, rugs, drapery, etc. They can come to dominate an aesthetic without even trying, or despite whatever else is going on. For instance, you could have a sleek lined modern bedroom, but if you add an Incredible Hulk bedspread,  all you have is an Incredible Hulk bedroom. See what I mean?

For Christmas I would like some blankets… but I have opinions.tumblr_m8ndrp4uJB1qd7xd8o1_500

I like Persian rugs just fine but would prefer to personally collect them from Persia. I have never been there. I have however been to Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and California. Not that they are similar places or produce similar products, but replace the image of an office floor draped in Persian rugs with Navajo textiles and that is what I want. Earth tones, hand made, meaningful designs in a western theme in line with my upbringing.

They may not be manufactured but crafted.

il_340x270.702297867_bemwManufacture away with some navy and white striped lightweight sheet-tablecloth-cloth-whatever. I could use large, lightweight (linen would be perfect), navy and white striped bolts of cloth. A day at the beach is great, but a day at the beach where the hodge-podge beach towels are replaced with classic nautical colors just moved up a few notches. It would work the same on summer canopies or sandy picnics. Just remember, thick, navy and white stripes.Texture of a red and white checkered picnic blanket. Red linen c

Add to the list the basic red and white checked linen tablecloth or picnic blanket. This one is for grassy fields as opposed to sandy dunes but pretty much the same as above. Classic, clean, adds to the occasion rather than detracts.Hudson Bay Blanket TXT0233

It does in fact get cold in California. Even if it doesn’t, I do intend to go to cold places occasionally. There is no better answer to cold than the classy and historic Hudson Bay blanket. In my mind this blanket recall French fur trappers and Iroquois. Neither of those are very West Coast but I refuse to completely assimilate. I like the clean lines and simple colors.

Picture your clean line modernist bedroom with the Hulk bedspread, then replace those sheets with the Hudson Bay blanket. Ta-Da! Your modern sleekness is still there but now you have added some warmth and history, which is no simple task with modernism. Hence the power of the Hudson Bay blanket.

A Tie is Not Just a Tie: it has to be a somewhat specific tie

My wardrobe is completely missing one of the basics. A very basic basic, which for me, a basic guy, is both sad and a little surprising. I wear ties semi-regularly, probably three times per week. I am not opposed to ties in general, though I am very opposed to many ties specifically. Not any old tie will do, though many old ties are perfect, as age is not the specifier.

There are rules for these sorts of things. At least there are for me, which is why this specific sartorial gap is a personal shame. I should fix this , but since this is “the season” maybe some advice. When giving neck-ware as a gift, one should know the rules or forever be doomed to the back of the closet in sit-com fodder fashion.lanvin-white-pin-dot-tie-product-1-4273713-026052035

I do not own a single pin-dot tie. Sad.

Polka dots are not for me, they are not the same thing. not at all.

I have striped ties. I mostly prefer stripes of two alternating colors, three at the most, but mostly two. And they should be thick/rep stripes, not pin stripes.photo(6)

Club ties are great, as long as they represent a club or organization you are actually connected to.

Solid colors always work.

No paisley.images

No characters, caricatures, or complex designs/patterns. Just no.

Plaid is good, preferably in a tartan that has some meaning.

These are not THE rules, they are just my rules.

As to the pin dots, they are to all be the same color. As in the tie is one color, and all of the dots are a different color, but not the same color as the tie.

I was once given a very generous and thoughtful gift of a tie. This person knew I wore ties but knew nothing of ties on their own. I was flattered by the thought but only once could I bring myself to put that thing around my neck and only then because it was under a sweater. Because really, why would I want to wear a picture of Winnie the Pooh around my neck?IMG_9513

Pin dots. Period.

What I Want: books. Ya know, to read and stuff.

I am not overly literary but I like books. I like to read them, but I also like the books themselves. Pages, covers, stacks on shelves, it is a Chipp Kidd sort of graphic designer bibliophile appreciation.kavabowl (2)

I like the ideas contained in books, so I do really read them, but I also stare at them. I stare at them a lot, especially if they have pictures. I got a first generation Kindle back when those things were new and downloaded about two tons of books by dead people. I’m still working my way through Bancroft’s History of the United States. I used to amuse myself on long flights thinking about how I had just brought all 10 volumes on board without going over my luggage weight limit. But this amusement aside, I still wish I had all 10 of those volumes on my shelf so I could stare at them.booksandbooks

So in the spirit of the holiday, here is a list of books I do not have, but would love to stare at:

Try for the Gold by Mark Ryan

The Ivy League by Daniel Cappello

Rowing Blazers by Jack Carlson and F.E. Castleberry

The Blanket: an Illustrated History of the Hudson Bay Point Blanket by Harold Tichenor

As to books I have, and have read, I suggest you pick up Religion of a Different Color by W. Paul Reeve.IMG_4860

 

A Wish List: tis the season and all that

I am impossible to shop for. Not because I have everything, quite the opposite really, but moreso because I generally know exactly what I want. In the following posts I will be highlighting things I think are worth wanting. Some big, some small.

Some of the things I already have, some I will never have, and others I may eventually obtain but whichever or whatever, the list is to follow.

Examples:

Membership to the Salumi Society with Boccalone.com

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Size 35, 301 Navy boardshorts from Birdwell Beach Britches.

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Cotopaxi tent, black canteen, Tikal shell in gray, Nepal pack, and a Cusco bag in “Alpaca”.

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A Navy 2 button suit with side vents from Commonwealth Proper. Hook me up Craig.

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An authentic, should probably be in a museum sort of thing, samurai helmet.

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DIY wood surfboard kit.

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The list goes on and on. I wish (for numerous reasons) I didn’t have such a list… but I do.

Stay tuned

Deck the Halls and Whatnot

I’m not exactly sure about the word whatnot, or how you really deck halls. I know what is meant if something or someone is all “decked out”, but I’m unsure as to how it came to mean that. I don’t care enough to investigate the words, but tis the season for decking of all kinds.

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There were in fact multiple trees in Riverside’s grand hotel, and one at the Grove as well. These trees may be sturdy but know nothing of snow.

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I am doing my best to look a lot like Christmas as well. I wear green and red and garnish my mouth with candy canes. I sing Feliz Navidad, Mele Kalikimaka, and happy Hanukkah loud for all to hear. I do not think my singing is spreading cheer but I am happy.
IMG_1016An associate of mine complained the other day about those who say happy holidays. She was embittered by those who did not say Merry Christmas. I asked her if she had any Jewish friends and she did not think that a relevant question. I smiled and replied that her’s was not a relevant complaint. She had no problem with me humming jingle bells, which I did, merrily.IMG_0783

So whatever your flavor, whatever you say, tis the season to say it happily. Yes there is plenty going on right now that is dark and horrid, and there has been for quite some time. Bah Humbug, happy Festivus, and God bless us, every one.

 

When Traditions Rightfully Die

Traditions are the wisdom and rites of days and sages passed, carried on to the present. These traditions feed the roots of young saplings striving to be trees.

When one is blown about by the winds of fortune, or driven by the desolation of misfortune, it can be hard to find native soil; where roots can dig deep for nourishment.
Steinbeck had something to say about that, but then again so did JD Clampett. Same people going to the same place while remaining worlds apart.struttin

We are not, nor have we felt, Californian. Who you are or were means more come the holidays. We were not originally, but we became, Philadelphian. When you are not, or are not where, you want, you feel a little empty.

So then what?

groveneon

I have read and discussed at some length the ins and outs of assimilation, the tragedy of cultural genocide, and most recently quite a bit about our modern murdering of all that was once good in popular culture. We are now horrible and depraved when once we were honorable and chaste.
Traditionalist versus progressive. Culture wars. War on Christmas. War on rights. All the while I’m just getting used to saying “the” 10 versus “I-95”.groveband
I read a Wall St Journal article decrying the decline of American WASP rule. The author said things were better when the United States had an Anglo Saxon ruling class. Those with this birthright quelled scandal and instilled morals on the masses. Now that class has lost its throne and the world is horrible.
He was right that much of what is normal now is horrible.

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But too often the traditionalist forgets what was also horrible back in the good old days.
In the case of Mr. Wall St. Journal what he really meant is not things were better back then but that things were better for HIM back then. Were he a black woman perhaps his article would read a little different.
Then again, any one of us is only what we are. We can’t be what we are not.

So again… When what we were is no more, when we are no longer where we once were and can’t go back, then what?

groveflyingreighndeer

We kill the WASP!
We throw the tea in the harbor, we march from Selma, we flee the potato famine, we strap Granny in her rocking chair, toss it up on top of the jalopy and head to Californy! You take what can come with you (that is worth taking) and you strike out. You adapt. You be you, but in a new place.

atthehottub
Merry Christmas.
Happy Hanukkah.
Off to a New Year and a Brave New World!