Posts by FCEtier

Santa Claus — Today’s Guest Blogger

I DON’T KNOW IF THERE IS A GOD, BUT IF THERE IS, LOOK FOR FOUR PAWS AND A WET NOSE

We pet lovers all have our own ways in which we grieve over that inevitable time when we have to say good bye.

In my case, knowing that our dog for the past ten years would die of terminal cancer near his brain, I had plenty of time to plan. Plenty of time because instead of needing to be euthanized quickly given the outlook, with great hospice and vet care he would ultimately live 5 months post diagnosis.

That was fortunate for me. I am Santa Claus and upon learning the news in early December last year, I dreaded the Christmas season for obvious reasons. Hard to be jolly, knowing he was home waiting for me after an assignment. That progressively wasting muscle loss near his beautiful eyes…heart wrenching. And don’t even ask how I handled the kid who wanted a puppy. Santa n Chenji

But he made it through December and all the way till early May when the vet, my wife and I all knew it was time. The ashes were given to me shortly after Chenji’s passing. (We actually had chosen to have his euthanasia at home. Some readers may be unaware of that personal and comforting option. Worth discussing with your vet). My plan afterward was pretty simple. Scattering those ashes according to a memorable timetable.

At the one month mark it was to be in our backyard near the azalea bush he posed in front of just before his death. My wife and I both scattered a small handful there. 

Chenji n AzaleaAt the two month mark I arranged to meet the friend who gave Chenji to us. She had found him, abandoned, under a tree in a local park in September 2008. That seemed like a perfect location to leave some more of his ashes. At the very spot where he came into our lives.

The three month milestone was this past week. It would be at another park where we took him just a few weeks after adding him to our home. Though always good about coming back to us when off leash – that day – Christmas morning – he did not return. My theory is that he took off after some deer. His predator instinct was too overpowering for him to think about returning. Luckily and astonishingly, by the time we got back home, a man was waiting for us with Chenji in his car. He found him on a street heading for our house three miles – and several busy streets – away. So that was Christmas miracle #1 and added to #2 (surviving for all of last December) he and Santa had clearly forged a special bond. 

First CMas

First Christmas together.

So there I was last week. I am only yards away from where Chenji was likely found ten years ago. I am gently holding that Santa tin which contains his ashes. I deposit some of them there and near a dog park across the street where he was “banished” for being too aggressive playing with other dogs the first few weeks we had him. (A problem which occasionally did surface with our otherwise perfect pooch). So, all the while I am promising him that he is now in a “dog park” where he cannot be banished, and offering up some Rainbow Bridge stuff, I start walking back to my truck. Talking to him some more through my tears. It’s then that I spot the three deer. Two smaller ones and a large one. I am nowhere near enough to be a threat and they saunter off.

Suddenly, the large one freezes and stares directly at us. Our eyes lock. And the communing with nature begins. A remote possibility this is the deer Chenji was chasing 10 years earlier? Perhaps its offspring? No way to tell. But in that moment, I felt some real spiritual force at work. After almost a full poignant minute, the deer goes to join the others but not before one last gaze at Chenji and me.

As if to say “here’s looking at you kid”.

A sentiment that all three of us could have said of the other two.

Never Knew I was Short and Fat

First shirt

My first shirt from S & F

My arms are too long.

They’re too long for the rest of my body.

Disproportional.

Always been a fan of asymmetry.

Maybe that’s why.

And, I’m not short.

I’m six feet tall in my bare feet.

Six one with socks and typical shoes.

I’m not fat.

One eighty-five. Maintained that weight for over thirty years.

Last time my body fat was measured, within normal limits 18-24%.

Purchased my first custom made shirt in 1983.

It was the only way to get sleeves long enough and have the rest of the shirt fit correctly.

Custom made shirts back then were less than $100 each.

Now they’re over $200 each.

A few months ago, I met a guy online with whom we share some friends in real life.

He and his partner have a “made-to-measure” shirt company by the name of “Short and Fat.”  It’s a “dot com.”7-15-18-7

Their shirts are $97.00 each.

I was able to pick every feature with their “build-it-yourself” software.

Material, collar, cuffs, fit, pockets or not, pleats in the back, monogram, color of thread for buttonholes. Every design element of the shirt was my choice.

Even the length of the shirt tail. (I can imagine short and fat guys having a problem with “off-the-rack” shirts causing plumber’s crack or a Bellywink TM. Ugh!)

I couldn’t locate my choice of fabric on their website and one of the partners (Blake Adams) helped me via Facebook Messenger to find just what I wanted.

My first shirt arrived and every aspect of it has exceeded my expectations. Color matches the background of my newest suit.IMG_20180715_145756

I picked thread color for the buttonholes to match the lining of the suit.

It has the same features I look for in a top shelf custom made shirt.

Side/body seams and sleeve seams are double stitched.

All fabrics offered are 100% wrinkle resistant Egyptian, Italian & Swiss Cotton.

French cuffs and collar reinforced for durability and a smooth, precise, wrinkle-free finish.

All S&F shirts are made with “non-iron” material. I prefer to iron my shirts and that’s fine, too.

Every shirt comes with free monogramming and an unconditional, “No Bullshirt” 7-15-18-5guarantee.

There are special times and places where I’ll always wear one of the custom made shirts in my wardrobe.

There are many more situations in which I’ll wear my personally designed S&F shirts–even though I’m tall and almost slim.

Thanks to ShortandFat.com, I’ve added “men’s clothes designer” to my resume.

If you’re a dapper dresser, it’s time you did as well.

What is true?

I never said he stole money.

Well, the truth of the matter is, “I NEVER said he stole money.”

No, wait, I meant, “I never SAID he stole money.”

But really, I said, “I never said HE stole money.”

And so on.

Changing the word that gets the emphasis, the meaning of the sentence changes. It can change six times.

What did the person hearing it perceive? Perception is reality.

Suppose the hearer was a reporter with a bias against whomever said it. How would it be reported?Fake News

Before publishing their story, would the reporter have taken the time to investigate what happened to cause the subject to use the above six words?

If you’re old enough to remember Watergate, you remember Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post would not publish anything Woodward and Bernstein wrote without two corroborating sources.

Now, suppose you heard someone of importance use the above six words with NO emphasis on any particular one.

And suppose you had a personal bias against the “he” who may have stolen. We all hear what we want or expect to hear. Those six words would delight our senses and confirm our suspicions.

What is the truth?Truth

Can reality be relative to the perceptions of the hearer?

What about the speaker?

Whom do you trust to tell you the truth?

Recently I shared an item on Facebook from a friend. It was a link to a website and featured a headline expressing surprise that in light of what appears to be a popular tax cut, the opposing party announced plans to tout a tax increase in their efforts to gain influence in  congress in the 2018 midterms. It quickly provoked a comment from a real life friend of mine questioning the source. I asked why that would be important if the information turned out to be true?

To be fair, it has been my contention for over sixty years that all news outlets and media are biased. As polarized as the country is now, it’s hard to find a middle of the road source of information (notice I avoided the word, “news?”)

If you listen to or read readily available (notice I didn’t say “main stream?) information, you can rely on two things:

  1. It will be biased.
  2. Regardless of the bias, it will conform to the age old motto of news media, “Never let the truth interfere with a good story.”

Good stories sell.

Choose your poison.

Are we any closer to the truth?

In court, it’s long been commonly accepted that eyewitness accounts are unreliable.  When there are more than two, they seldom agree. Now, with the advances in video technology, is video tape trustworthy? I recently heard even the Zapruder film had been altered.

Can we trust online fact checkers?

My friends on the left like Snopes while my friends on the right prefer FactCheck. They both cite major funding sources as their reason not to trust.

What about a situation in which someone you trust throws you a curve? An old friend sent out and email to his list of friends.  I quickly identified it as a joke. It was masquerading as a newspaper article. Some recipients thought it was factual and replied with concerns for a professional who had supposedly been caught in a dalliance with a patient. He reports to his own amazement about half of the recipients thought it factual–despite the inherent absurdity.

Is the truth relative?

I’ve always appreciated the axiom that “perception is reality.” If how we perceive information is in fact what we interpret as truth, then whether or not something is in fact true, is like beauty.

It’s in the eye of the beholder–no matter the source.

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[NOTE: Special thanks to my good friend Art Hoffman for suggesting this topic.]

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Book Review: Gentlemen of the Golden Age By Sven Raphael Schneider

How do you feel when you’re wearing your favorite clothes?

How does it make you feel when you attend an event and receive compliments on your attire?

Now put the two together.Cover

Isn’t it great when you receive compliments and you’re dressed in your favorite outfit?

For some of us, that outfit consists of jeans, an oxford button down boasting your favorite college football team, and dark brown penny loafers.

For others, it’s a custom made,double breasted blue suit, French cuffs, subtle cufflinks, and black Allen Edmonds toe cap lace ups. Don’t forget the tie and pocket square.

Clothes make the man?

How about accessories? A nice assortment of pocket squares, neck, and bowties, increases the number of outfits exponentially.

Carly Simon said, “These are the good old days.”

With an awareness of historical fashion and the genealogy of today’s trends in menswear, you can make the present your own “golden age” of gentlemanly attire.

In his book, Gentlemen of the Golden Age, Sven Raphael Schneider offers readers valuable insight and interesting historical facts to enlighten, entertain, and inspire.

What was the “golden age” for men’s fashion? (It wasn’t the roaring twenties.)

Did you know that today’s business suit wasn’t always the preferred attire for executives? (There was no such thing as casual Fridays.)

What’s the difference in a “lounge suit,” a “leisure suit,” and a “travel suit?”Travel Suit

Which is more formal, a single or double breasted jacket?

Who were the pace setters in the States whose influence earned a moniker of its own?

Can you wear white in the winter?

Which men’s magazine started in 1933 and soon became the most influential publication in the menswear industry?

The author provides the answers to these and many more questions in an easy to read conversational style.

While some historical trends are outdated (think corduroy tennis attire!) Schneider says, “…knowing what is historically correct will often make you look more refined.”

Cruise AttireGentlemen of the Golden Age is divided into four sections, each illustrated with classic images from the era by Laurence Fellows. After the introduction, readers are treated to details on suits, combinations, overcoats, and sports/leisure. In the chapter on combinations, we learn how to break the rules and still look smart. Learn which overcoat to buy if you plan to own only one. (It’s important for those who want to look dapper.) In the chapter on sports and leisure I asked myself, “What do you wear when you’re watching L.S.U. football games?” (Seersucker and white bucks of course!)

Do you own a “TV jacket?”

In the end, Mr. Schneider encourages those concerned about “over dressing,” with this reminder, “The point of dressing well is to enjoy it while expressing yourself and your personality.”

Gentlemen of the Golden Age is currently available only as an e-book and is available online, in some cases at no charge.
Interested in learning more of the rules, so you’ll know which ones you want to break, and when it’s alright to do so? Check out Schneider’s site, Gentleman’s Gazette for hundreds of videos and articles. If you’re ready to beef up your wardrobe with attention-getting accessories, check out the offerings of Fort Belvedere HERE.  Posters of Fellows art can be purchased HERE.

If you have more than one necktie in your closet, this book should be on your Kindle, I recommend it enthusiastically.

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(Images used with the written permission of Sven Raphael Schneider.)

All I Want for Christmas is….JAZZ!

Have you heard it yet?David Ian

I haven’t.

But then, I have been neither to the mall nor any big box retail stores.

It won’t be long.

 

When you do, it probably won’t sound like David Ian’s new CD, “Vintage Christmas Trio.”

Ian fans will recognize this as the long-awaited follow up to his debut, “Vintage Christmas,” and appreciate his minimalist approach.

We long for the opportunity to take a seat in a small village restaurant/speakeasy and find the entertainment is a jazz trio: piano, drums, and bass.

Slip this CD into your player and be transported to just such a location.

Ian’s performance and arrangements take the listener to another era, the same one from which our favorite Christmas songs were born.

Ian selects a group of familiar tunes–you’ve heard them all.

The ten track instrumental-only collection opens with a swinging version of “Deck the Halls,” and ends with “O Come, All Ye Faithful.”

In the middle, he covers the Kings (We Three and Wenceslas) and the bells (on Christmas Day and Silver) along with a nice blend of religious and secular pieces.

The trio is completed by bass man, Jon Estes and drummer Josh Hunt.

Jazz aficionados will delight in Ian’s arrangements (with a bit of Bach and blues) while the casual listener will appreciate the ease with which they discern the melodies.

Don’t wait to hear it in the mall.

Treat yourself to some happy sounds today, HERE.

Two Short Reviews of Two Long Books

In the age of instant gratification and e-books, it seems as though today’s readers feel the two most important words in any book are, “The End.”  

Long books never bothered me.

I’ve been a fan of James Michener since the mid-seventies, and books with 500 plus pages don’t scare me off, although I’ve read neither War and Peace nor Gone With the Wind.

Some readers like excruciating detail.

Many readers require facts ad nauseam to be convinced.

And some of us, who may already be leaning in the direction of the author, need bare bones evidence to resolve the doubt.

Here then is my take on two best sellers.

Borders

¡Adios, America! by Ann Coulter

51b5v2tjzyl-_ac_us218_This book reputedly helped shape President Trump’s policies on immigration. Readers whose views are contrary to Coulter’s right-wing conservative point of view will discount the source and mostly choir members will hear her sermon. [My thoughts on consideration of sources will be the topic of a future blog.]

Hers is a simple message:

  1. Secure the border
  2. Decide what to do with illegals already here.

She advocates logical, clear cut solutions to these issues (including why she opposes amnesty.) Her fellow travelers will need little convincing. For everyone else, there’s almost four hundred thoroughly documented pages.

Dereliction of Duty by H.R. McMaster

51sri6l5rrl-_ac_us218_The current United States National Security Advisor wrote this scathing indictment of a previous president in 1997. He presents undisputed evidence (much of which only became available in the mid-nineties) to show how President Johnson, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff got us into the Southeast Asian quagmire commonly referred to as, “Viet Nam.”lbj-jfk-death-stare

McMaster’s opus (hailed with numerous accolades from his peers and historians) reiterates two points clearly:

  1. A sitting president will do anything, ANYTHING, to get re-elected.
  2. The first casualty of any war: the truth.

If you’re in the aforementioned category who likes details, you’ll be delighted to find McMaster gives lengthy examinations of the personal relationships and interactions of the characters involved.

I recommend both books.

Smokin’ at the Penthouse

Wes Montgomery / Wynton Kelly Trio

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Montgomery died in 1968.WesM

Wynton Kelly died in 1971.

The Penthouse (in Seattle’s Pioneer Square) was demolished in 1968.

A parking lot took its place.

Talk about paving paradise.

John Coltrane’s performance in September of ‘65 was a watershed for the club which is also remembered for shows by the likes of Bill Evans, Miles Davis, and Stan Getz.

Which brings us to John Leslie “Wes” Montgomery, an icon in jazz guitar who followed in the footsteps of Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian.

Montgomery with his unique technique of using the side of his thumb to pluck the strings became an influence on many succeeding guitarists. In fact, his influence could be said to have spawned the genres of fusion and smooth jazz.

PenthouseMontgomery had two noteworthy performances at the Penthouse in April of 1966 along with the Wynton Kelly Trio.

Fortunately for jazz aficionados, and music lovers everywhere, these performances were recorded on tape.

Smokin’ at the Penthouse was released in May of 2017 and is available on both CD and in digital format.

Modern day jazz guitar icon Pat Metheny writes, “The news that another example of that band in action had surfaced was headline news for those of us in the hard-core Wes community. The incredible revelations contained in Resonance’s previous releases of Wes’s early work have been thrilling. This release adds yet another dimension to the almost impossibly brief ten years that Wes was the jazz world’s most renowned guitarist, particularly to completists like me who want to hang on to and cherish every note Wes played.”

This 10-track album is indeed a “smokin’” musical exchange between Wynton and Wes,SmokinAtthePenthouse swinging with fire-cracker energy. The Wynton Kelly trio opened each set of the 9-night engagement with a couple of tunes before Wes joined them on stage. The album opens with “There Is No Greater Love,” an upbeat rendition of Isham Jones’s well known jazz standard. Wynton glides through seven choruses filled with his trademark lyrical legato lines, with bluesy twists and turns along the way. His joyous playing is apparent from the start. In an interview with Kenny Baron included in the liner notes, he says, “Wynton was kind of in a class by himself. His touch, his feeling, his sense of time, sense of rhythm… For me it was just very, very unique.” Often underappreciated as a player, despite his years with Miles Davis, Wynton remains an iconic figure, for jazz fans and next generation of jazz players.

Get your copy today.

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