March 30, 2015

Man Talk

Ladies, rest easy as GSL also thinks the above scene from Goldfinger is wrong on so many levels. First, I don't like the name 'Denk' and would have immediately assigned her a nickname far more clever. Secondly, he needn't have dismissed her so abruptly, suggesting a little errand such as picking up some nibbles or drinks for the older gentleman, heading to the salon to get gussied up for dinner or anything to allow her to feel appreciated while Commander Bond and Felix discuss urgent classified matters.  Also, I thought 007's follow through was a little lazy as GSL keeps his elbow tucked in tighter generating greater torque and velocity while cupping his hand to deliver a most pleasing percussive snap...oh, and let's not forget an exaggerated follow through just so she knows you care.
 Ladies from the Jersey Shore to Red Square anxiously await GSL's modern rendition.

GSL's pup and pony show is well underway with his travels keeping him on the go.

Speaking of Jersey, GSL is right this very minute coming to you from the bucolic Woodrow Wilson Service Plaza on the New Jersey Turnpike. My pup and pony show is well under away making the necessary arrangements for my children's books series debuting around October 1st...and hopefully sooner. We will keep you posted on breaking news.

GSL is loving the Maxi
from the have some decorum blog

No doubt you have been hearing the same rumors that has 7th Avenue and the entire world of fashion on edge. Well, it's mostly true as GSL is basically done with all the way too tight, too revealing, too, too much of nearly everything I see nowadays.  I really don't need to see the outline of every crevice of a woman I prefer not knowing and even if she is intelligent and charming, I prefer not knowing everything right away. Context needs time.  When I begin a new novel by an author I already admire, I don't want to know what happens on page 97 until I've spent the appropriate amount of time on pages 1 thru 96.  I'll go into this in far more detail in an upcoming post but my new aesthetic in ladies fashion is now towards the look and philosophy of the maxi, and even the caftan, and basically moving on from mini-skirts and even my old fav: the pencil skirt.

McCalls Patterns 1970
Busy as a beaver these days so will check in when I can.

March 23, 2015

The Tone of Diplomacy

A new museum devoted to American Diplomacy is under development by the US Department of State.
No indication yet of what role GSL will have.

When I was serving overseas in Iraq, one day I was called in and informed that a reassignment I had long sought was finally approved and to pack up and be ready to move out in 2 hours. Naturally, I was curious as to why this had happened so suddenly and with a tone so urgent.  I then found out that the unit I was being reassigned to had a reputation for 'problems' with lots of rumors swirling about as to the particular kind of indiscretions causing great unease up the chain of command. Since I'd be more than twice as old as nearly everybody else in the group I was joining, they wanted me to provide Adult Supervision which was very well understood by those in my new unit. I never found out exactly what the problems had been, nor was I eager to investigate, but they went away to the great relief of the higher ups and almost everyone in the group I joined.

This may surprise many of you but the occasionally irascible GSL is actually well known for his diplomatic skills often smoothing over disagreements, repairing burned bridges, and building others. And as some of you ladies already know, GSL is an absolute master at handling the female psyche.

Japanese businessmen in town crooning the newest local hit while affecting Chicago swagger.

The Den has become aware of a new trend among Japanese businessmen visiting town that after knocking back a couple of whiskys, charge to the karaoke mic and affect Chicago swagger while crooning to the melody of that Kenny Rogers ditty only with lyrics modified for local appeal with a portion of the chorus below:

                                                      GSL knows when to hold 'em, 
                                                      knows when to scold 'em, 
                                                      knows when to sweet talk bouquet, 
                                                      knows when to pun...
We are told these raucous singalongs have become quite a spectacle all over town.

The Indomitable Miss Havisham of GSL's life is actually warm and generous but sadly
enduring some health issues and now in residence at my Estella's.
 Fur will fly.

In other developments, Den staff have been preparing for a possible diplomatic mission to bring peace to the Middle East or more specifically Middle Eastern North Carolina where my Estella has a new permanent house guest in the form of her much adored (by GSL) mother aka Miss Havisham whose health and strength may be weakening but her spirit and zest for life remains undeterred with my Estella now finding herself in the position of being Miss Havisham's personal assistant, events director, and legal guardian...except on Tuesdays or Thursdays when a quick little intercontinental trip seems a wonderful idea for a woman who can't walk or remember any of the important instructions doctors gave and she agreed to only hours before.  We all likely will have or have faced these situations with loved ones and try to do our best and GSL has often served as a peace broker, go-between, and feather unruffler between these two and his services may soon be needed again.

My Estella has a new house guest. Estella is not a natural hostess. Trouble will follow.

I have told Estella no matter how frustrating or looney tunes crazy her mother may sometimes seem, please, please, please, don't use The Tone. Only ISIS is worthy of The Tone.  Every woman has that Tone they use whenever they are expressing displeasure, or more often I find, settling a score all while saying something that seems perfectly reasonable if one were looking at a transcript which they then repeat back to you and whether it be moments, hours, or days later is done in that lovely tone she only uses in an exculpatory context.

Estella can deliver The Tone like no other with a lilt of derision so debilitating another Geneva Convention may ban its use against civilians.

In fact, Estella's tessitura is The Tone she often deploys for dismissing  over-eager shopgirls delivered with withering efficiency without the slightest pretense towards eye contact. Overcharging contractors and repairmen get the eye contact in a stare so cold it can only be measured on the Kelvin scale.  Estella came by this skill honestly as I did witness her mother summon a funeral home director minutes after receiving a bill they are so often used to sneaking by grieving widows and saw his phony Southern Baptist condescending demeanor vaporized before my very eyes before reducing his ridiculous fee by 40% and scurrying out the door with his ass in a sling.

Ladies, when do you use The Tone?

March 15, 2015

Oaths of Allegiance

The Good Doc and I took 98 year old WWII War Hero Peter Poulos out for breakfast Saturday morning.
Pete had the Spartan omelet...and barely touched it as you might guess.

Once upon a time an American man over the course of his life took two solemn oaths. The first one ended with "So Help Me God" as the young man raised his right hand and repeated the words from a United States Military officer to take up arms and defend his country.  The other oath ends with "I do" preceded by a clergyman saying "til death do you part".

Pete spearheaded the campaign to establish this memorial for Greek-American soldiers.

I once again had the high honor of breaking bread with the Den's favorite soldier, Peter Poulos, age 98 who fought in the Pacific Theatre during World War II encountering some of the fiercest fighting of the war getting wounded 3 times, once by bayonet in hand to hand combat, all while having a bad case of malaria.  The next time I have a bad day, I'll keep it in the context of how it compares to a Pete Poulos bad day.
The quote reads: "Until now we used to say that the Greeks fight like heroes. Now we shall say:'The Heroes fight like Greeks'".   Winston Churchill
As you may recall, Pete made a cameo appearance at my belated birthday hosted by The Docs with my best friend, The Good Doctor, presiding. When I lived in a riverfront high-rise during the '90s, our building was about 30% young doctors doing their residency or fellowship at one of the many nearby hospitals. I became friends with many of them and we hosted a popular Christmas party famous for the midnight fruit toss when we'd heave oranges off my 37th Floor balcony hoping to land one on the South bank. GSL had an arm more known for accuracy than strength yet always made a crowd pleasing splash just shy of the halfway point with his earnest declaration that "that damn sudden burst of headwind got it".

The Poulos boys answered The Call of the Bugle.

Of those many physicians I knew, only one chose a career in the far less prestigious career track of Veterans Administration (VA) hospital care.  It is commonly known that this is where the least talented doctors wind up which pissed off my friend who thought those who served our country deserve the very best care our country can provide forgoing far more prestigious and lucrative opportunities elsewhere. He does come from a wealthy family but knowing him as I do that wouldn't have altered his choice one bit. He has been fighting an uphill battle the last 20 years bringing much needed reforms to the VA system and the very best medical care to the many Veterans he treats. About 15 years ago, he became Pete's primary care physician and Pete is deeply touched at having such a talented and devoted doctor looking after him. He refers to The Good Doctor as "my hero".  I agree with Pete's assessment of The Good Doctor as after filling in for a colleague whose wife just had a baby, he pulled a 24 hour call shift in the emergency room then drove 5 hours to Fort Knox to stand next to my mother, 'Estella', and her father at my boot camp graduation back in 2006.

This pic is from 2003 when The Good Doctor had Pete greet President Bush when he landed in Chicago's Grant Park aboard Marine 1.. Pete is very proud of this pic and had a copy made along with the very nice letter President Bush sent him and presented them to me at breakfast.

The Good Doctor came across Pete at the Hines VA hospital where Pete has volunteered 3 days a week for the past 32 years.  Here is that same charming TV interview from my last Pistol Pete post .  Pete was born in Tripoli, Greece and his family emigrated to Chicago after his mother died in the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 when Pete was just a boy of 3.  They settled in the Elmwood Park neighborhood of Chicago with it's many Greeks and Italians.

This is Pete's oldest brother Nick's fresh grave awaiting warm weather and sod. Nick was Pete's
favorite brother and made it to 103.

Pete stayed in school until 8th grade as his remarried father wanted him to quit and go to work to help support the family. Pete worked hard laying cable for the electric company til WWII rolled around and he enlisted and saw heavy action in the South Pacific until his wounds and malaria required him going on light duty as part of General MacArthur's personal security detail. For his wartime heroism and the high and mighty that sang his praises, Pete was given the plum assignment of being appointed the Gold Coast's mailman where Frank Sinatra always insisted someone fetch "The Greek" to join him for coffee at The Pump Room and Hugh Hefner always told Pete to make himself at home in the original Playboy Mansion.

This is where Pete's wife Julie is buried. Pete has been here every day since the day she died.

Soon after Pete got back from the war, one hot summer day he walked into a soda fountain when the owner recognized him as the soldier who gave him his coat on a long march.  The owner treated his no longer anonymous Good Samaritan to an ice cold soda and then Pete saw the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen who happened to be the owner's sister and this fearless war hero froze up and didn't think a beautiful girl like that would ever want to have anything to do with a man like him with only an 8th grade education.  He got up his courage and this beautiful girl, Julie, became his bride a year later.  They were married for over 50 years until she died in 2000.

March 08, 2015

By the Book

Kazuo Ishiguro Illustration by Jillian Tamaki for The New York Times

The New York Times has an ongoing feature in their Books section that I often find interesting. It's called By The Book and today's feature was the best one yet. Here is the link as it's only a 5 minute read and to summarize they ask various people about their reading or writing habits and today featured Kazuo Ishiguro best known as  author of the Booker Prize winning The Remains of the Day also made into an interesting movie with longtime faves Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. I've never read that book or anything else by Mr. Ishiguro but now I'm sure I will. He's quite an interesting fellow having written jazz songs and screenplays such as for the last James Ivory movie The White Countess with the always fascinating Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson that I also recommend.

The Den would like to ask our whipsmart readers three questions from this series with my answers below.

Who is your favorite author?

Leo Tolstoy and reading 'War and Peace' and 'Anna Karenina' (Constance Garnett translations) are easily the 2 best reading experiences of my life and read them back to back usually only 10-15 pages a night as I didn't want the stories to end and loved thinking them through.

What are you reading now?

The Autobiography of Mark Twain. I'm about 3/4 through Volumes I and II which total nearly 1500 pages and loving it although it has some dead spots.

What do you plan on reading next?

Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh

March 05, 2015

Texas Hold 'Em Part 1

The Lone Star State

The Den has been a whirlwind of activity of late and this week had me deep in the Heart of Texas handling some 'bidnis'.  I absolutely love Texas. Always have.  I've long said I was born a century too late as I'd have made the best Texas Oil Wildcatter the world had ever seen. I've even practiced my Boss Hog strut in 10 gallon lid poked high on my noggin with a gooseneck bottled pilsner. Those reveries of 'Texas Tea' are long gone but I have been distressed at what has become of the state capital. I sat in traffic on I-35 for five hours due to an overturned truck and my view over those long aggravating hours was of one of those vanity billboards:

Nothing rankles GSL's nerves more than a white boy in dreadlocks unless it's an ambulance chaser in white boy dreads.
I called his office and left word we are holding a barber chair open in Chicago to give him a 'high and tight'.

Vanity billboards are more often a small town feature; usually with the local real estate chippie striking some cheesecake pose in a Dolly Parton* get-up while standing sideways to display the new rack she just had installed and financed courtesy of the McMansion monstrosity she just sold over on New Money Lane.

This clown in the white boy dreads perfectly symbolizes what Austin has become. Most all real Texans I know disown it entirely.  It has become something of a Silicon Prairie tech hub with Dell Computer and numerous start-ups and is home base to countless fitness hipsters such as the now disgraced Lance Armstrong. They do put on a South by Southwest music festival that gets high marks in many quarters. In those 5 hours, I was listening to the local hipster radio station as they do play good music and heard countless promotions on the upcoming South by Southwest in a couple of weeks featuring a group called The Ting Tings. During commercial breaks a DJ would read off an ad about a local wifi company in a 30 second spot that included two full throated apologies of "I know this is a 1st World Problem..." that suddenly has become a most fashionable recusal those of exquisite sensitivity always feel the compelled to make.

The Ting Tings headlining Austin's upcoming South by Southwest music festival in mid March.
From what I've recently seen, Austin is the High Court where one seeks such pardons.

My all-time favorite lawyer is a Texan but he doesn't wear dreads.
Richard 'Racehorse' Haynes: ex-Marine who fought at Iwo Jima and Texas lawyer and legend.

Racehorse Haynes, in addition to possessing the greatest nickname in the history of America, is a Texas legend who is rumored to have once hired a high school marching band that upon receiving the handkerchief signal from an open-windowed rural Texas courtroom struck up the William Tell Overture to give his closing argument a dramatic flourish. I've been telling Estella for decades that I'm itching to go to Texas and get myself in a heap of trouble just so I can retain the services of Racehorse Haynes.

Trudye, please share a Racehorse Haynes anecdote or two as I'm sure he has cut a wide swath through H-Town!

Racehorse Haynes is The Den's Chief Legal Counsel.

*Now don't jump all over me for disrespecting Dolly Parton as I adore her but only Dolly Parton can pull off that look.