Friday, November 30, 2007

Style Report 11-29-07

The deal was this: I had a headache the size of Oklahoma after spending the better part of two shifts in Space Camp's medications room - an airless, hot closet filled with slowly-baking medications.

Vitamins, in particular, have a pungency to them. And bottle after bottle, in said airless hot closet, produces an Instant Retch Reflex (or IRR) in the poor shnook who must go in there to supervise the self-administered medications.

So I felt lousy and was in no mood to try any creativity. This is where the Formula comes in handy.

It doesn't get much more basic than a navy blazer and grey trousers. Add a banker's (or candy) stripe shirt with a buttondown collar, an Argyle & Sutherland regimental tie (also known as "The Guy Tie" because everybody's got one - except me, with seven), and a pair of old Haig and Lloyd brown wingtips, and it's out the door, ready to go.

The pocket square is more than most men will go for, but they are integral part of anything I do so I barely notice them. (It's a Drake's square, by the way, bought on the cheap from the folks at Sierra Trading Post.)

Blazer, shirt and tie are all Brooks Brothers and all eBayed or thrifted. The trousers are medium grey worsted wool, lined to the knee, flat fronted and cuffed, and are made by Jos. A. Bank (via eBay, again).

The socks came from the Overstocks section of the Lands End website.

You can't really see the trout fly design on the tie clip. I used it to keep the tie out of the way when med-slinging.

Putting the look together took about three minutes. It's Trad by the Numbers, and I am unapologetic about it. Formal enough to look professional, or go out to eat; informal enough to shuck the jacket, roll up the sleeves and get busy with the vitamins.

Total cost? Maybe $150 - call it 10 percent of retail. Factor in hours spent rummaging around church sales and foraging on eBay, and it's still a pretty good deal.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

NFL '07 - When Greedheads Collide

Tonight the 10-1 Dallas Cowboys host the 10-1 Green Bay Packers in what might well turn out to be the most entertaining game of the regular season - and most fans won't see it.

The game is on the NFL Network, which reaches 37 households.

Okay, maybe a few more than that, but the league and the cable companies - most notably Time Warner and Comcast - can't agree on a deal.

You'd think they'd split the difference, since everybody's already making more money than God in this racket, but no.

The NFL Network will ultimately make it to your cable system, and you will pay for it, one way or another.

The Cowboys are favored by a touchdown; I am inclined to take it and the Packers. I keep remembering those errant long snaps from the Dallas center - one hit QB Romo in the head when he wasn't looking, and two others sailed right over his head.

And this feels like Round One of the eventual NFC title match anyway. So Green Bay plus seven tonight, heard locally on WFAN (660 AM).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

NFL '07 - Week 12


New England's Bill Belichek modeling the official NFL "Homeless Shelter" line of sportswear. The Patriots are giving 23 points to Philadelphia today.

Three for three on Thursday, and here's the rest of the story:

Den +2 at Chi

Ten -2 at Cin

Buf + 7.5 at Jax

KC - 5.5 vs. Oak

Cle -3 vs. Hou

Sea -3 at StL

Min +7 at NYG

NO -3 at Car

TB -3 vs. Was

AZ - 10.5 vs. SF

SD - 9.5 vs. Bal

NE -23 vs. Philly (McNabb out for Eagles)

Mia +16 at Pit

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thrift Shop Specials, or How To Look Like a Moneyed WASP For Pennies On the Dollar

Thanksgiving evening. The mission: Dress appropriately for work, a task that involves looking professional, yet a bit frivolous, in keeping with the holiday. The shift at Space Camp will involve a lot of walking around, going in and outside... and enduring whatever fresh hells that can be conjured up by a crew of 50-odd unhappy souls spending the holiday in rehab.

The solution - The Standard Navy Blazer and Grey Pants.

But with a few twists. First of all, the Brooks Bros. blazer is an old model, and a 3/2 sack cut. That means the jacket has no darts - those ugly-ass seams in the jacket front - and the top button is rolled under the lapel and has no real function.

I found the jacket at the Goodwill in Torrington, Conn. - $3.50, and required no alteration.

The tie is from the Lands End overstocks section - great source of good quality neckwear at a very reasonable price.

The suede Allen Edmonds Hancocks add a touch of informality to the whole thing, as do the pocket square and argyle socks. The AEs came from eBay seller Grapevinehill for about $100; the square from Sierra Trading Post and the socks from the Brooks outlet in Lee, Mass.

The trousers are from LL Bean and a bit of an experiment - at full retail they wouldn't cut it, but for $60 or so it was worth a shot. I didn't order them cuffed as LLB tends toward the miserly inch and half.

The Orvis watch - the "Snows of Kiliminjaro" model - has a strap from Central Watch, and the J. Press oxford cloth buttondown, with the flap pocket, was obtained from an Ask Andy About member whose office went biz casual, to his dismay and my great benefit.

Total cost of everything: $200 or so. At retail, easily $1000.

The Cinema - "I Eat Your Skin" : Misleading Title, Excellent Fashion

(It's okay - he's with the calypso band)
Two exciting facts about 'I Eat Your Skin":
  • There is no skin-eating in the film.
  • Auteur Del Tenney was from Connecticut and once made a good film, 1964's The Curse of the Living Corpse, which had real writing, a real script, a real editor, and real actors, including Roy Scheider in his screen debut.
"I Eat Your Skin," also made in 1964, wasn't released until 1971 as the second half of a drive-in double bill with "I Drink Your Blood," a hippie-biker rabies epic.
It had been sitting on the shelf under the title Voodoo Blood Bath, but the distributor liked the "Last Supper" imagery on the twin bill poster. ("I Eat Your Flesh" would have been better, but it was taken.)
Novelist Tom Harris writes smutty best-sellers and spends his time poolside at the Fountainbleau in Miami, reading aloud from his works to a crowd of bikini-clad housewives. His agent, a clenched-jawed WASP named Fairchild, hatches a scheme to go to this island where a scientist is working on a cure for everything and, oh yeah, there are supposed be eighteen kinds of poisonous snakes and zombies on this island.
So they go because a pudgy bald guy in a Dacron suit is chasing Tom (with malice aforethought) for horsing around with his wife. So what the hey?
During this opening sequence it is apparent that director Tenney has achieved something remarkable: this is the first American film made for domestic release where the words don't match the lips. At all.
It's as if it was dubbed into Korean and dubbed back from the Italian translation of the Korean by a crew from Portugal.
This results in happy accidents such as the pudgy bald man shaking his fist and yelling "I getting you am son of beech!"
(No touch football?!)
OK - there's a whole lot of plot which I won't bore you with. It's sufficient to relate that the zombies are real, the voodoo priest wishes to sacrifice the blonde, the scientist is fairly evil, the other guy is completely evil, the good guys escape, and the island blows up.
The zombie transformation scenes are entertaining in a primitive fashion; their eyes bug out through the caked-on makeup, making them look like trout that have been lightly coated in corn meal and fried. (If you don't believe me try it.)
The voodoo dancing is pretty good but ultimately tedious, as is the sight of Tom with no shirt.
The clenched-jawed WASP looks like what you'd get if you stirred the genes of Robert F. Kennedy and William F. Buckley together and told the result you were outlawing touch football and madras pants.
As a period piece, I Eat Your Skin is mildly amusing. One decapitation. One extended blast of voodoo dancing. Girls in bikinis. Man in Dacron suit shoved in pool. Bad prose read aloud to girls in bikinis prior to man in Dacron suit getting shoved in pool. Exploding zombie. WASP climbing a cliff in loafers. Mad scientist. Snakes. Code Yellow ethnocentrism - enough to be noticeable, but not egregious enough to be funny. Short.
Two coils.

The Cinema - "King of the Zombies" : Interesting Historical Document ...and Major Piece of Caca


King of the Zombies (1941) is a low-budget thriller with a threadbare plot about an evil German scientist on a Caribbean island with a whole mess of zombies at his disposal and a habit of kidnapping admirals.

Intelligence officer Bill, pilot Mac, and Bill's manservant Jeff fly off to investigate the admiral's disappearance, and get fooled into a crash landing 0n the doc's island.

The only reason to watch this is for the performance of Mantan Moreland, a vaudeville actor probably most widely known as Charlie Chan's chauffeur.

Here he transcends the condescending "scaredy Negro" stereotype and injects humor and dignity into the unflattering role. (I suspect he ad-libbed some of it, and the director was savvy enough to let it ride.)

So when he spots the old cook/voodoo priestess he asks the pretty young maid, "Who's that? Methuselah?"

And hypnotized by the evil doctor into thinking he is a zombie, he marches stiffly over to the others. "Move over, boys - I'm one of the gang now."


("Hup-two-three-four...Zombies, halt!")

The Jeff character, despite all the bug-eyed buffoonery expected of the role, is the only good guy who has any clue as to what's happening on the island at all. (Bill is too busy trying to make time with the inevitable young lady and Mac keeps sustaining head injuries.)

So King of the Zombies is an interesting historical piece.

It is also a piece of doo-doo, with nonsensical plot; some decent zombie action of the medium-fast, mostly- coordinated voodoo zombie type; a ludicrous voodoo ceremony; and lots of one-liners from Moreland.

And as such it deserves a solid two and a half coil rating.

two-coils.jpg half-coil.jpg

Thursday, November 22, 2007

NFL '07 - Thanksgiving Day (Week 12)

Another so-so week last time out at 7-6-2. Today the play is on all three favorites: Green Bay -3.5 at Detroit (Packers are 8-1-1 against the spread this season); Dallas - 14.5 vs. the New York Jets (yes, the Jets upset the Steelers last week, but the Cowboys are several notches above Pittsburgh); Indianapolis - 12.5 at Atlanta.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Cinema - The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy Is Better Than Citizen Kane

The Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Mummy (1964) is quite possibly the best film ever made. It answers two questions that have always bothered large segments of humanity:

1) Can bad guys really run around on ancient Aztec pyramids in those pointy little shoes without tripping?

2) Can women in tight sweaters and Capri pants really save the world from an Ancient Evil?


In this fine film by the immortal Rene Cardona and recut and dubbed by the equally deathless K. Gordon Murray (director of Cell Block Girls and producer of Shanty Tramp and Santa's Magic Kingdom) , the Wrestling Women get on the trail of some thugs in the pay of the evil Black Dragon who have swiped the sacred Aztec breastplate. The chase goes hither and yon, with many fine wrestling sequences, some of them between the actors' lips and the dubbed dialogue.

After an enormous amount of plot and the introduction of the "Purloined Letter" theory of hidden camera placement (i.e. if you're going to spy on someone with a hidden camera just shove it in the bookcase), the breathtaking chase takes us to the Aztec pyramid, which has steps, unlike the Egyptian kind. (See, you get some archaeology with this picture too.)

And soon enough we get the answers to those questions.

The Aztec Mummy is worth the price of admission alone. He makes a heartbreaking "waaargh" sound that really makes you wonder what it's like to be locked for centuries in an airless room guarding a princess' remains when all of a sudden bad guys in ill-fitting suits and pointy shoes, and female wrestlers in tight sweaters and missile-silo brassieres come barging in, stirring up the dust and generally making nuisances of themselves.

To sum up: Bad dialogue, worse dubbing. Female wrestlers. Asian female wrestlers. Comic book villains. Unconvincing, wailing mummy. Short neckties and peak lapels. Gratuitous driving back and forth to the ancient pyramid. Capri pants. Girls in tights. The parts that aren't bizarre are idiotic. Short.

Better than Citizen Kane and a damn sight cheaper to buy, too. Plus the version I have is a two-fer, with Doctor of Doom, which is, if anything, worse.

A heartfelt four coil rating.

(Click here to read a highly academic article that requires 1000 words to reach the same conclusion)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NFL '07 - It's a Dog-Eat-Dog World, and I'm Wearing Milk Bone Underwear

I need a big week or five. Bad. Last year was my first in 16 years of doing this with a losing record. It's coming down to pride and the ability to look convincing in an Italian suit.

Such as:

What the bush you lookin' at?

Gaining a game or two per week isn't cutting it; last week's dicey 7-6-1 showing pushed the deficit back a little bit, to 63-74-8, but at this rate I won't hit the .500 mark by season's end.

So let us hope that this is a gargantuan breakout Sunday of epic colossal mega-ness.

Det +3 vs. NYG: I'm sorry, but I don't know what the oddsmakers are thinking about here. The NY pass rush might give Detroit QB Jon Kitna some problems, but come on - there's nothing that makes the 6-3 Giants better than the 6-3 Lions, especially in Detroit. And after watching the bad basics from last week - the play clock comes to mind - I'm even less bullish on the Giants.

NE - 16.5 at Buf: I get burned every time by these collegiate spreads. The Bills are a decent team. They are not going to beat the Patriots. They are not going to be close to the Patriots, who might trail 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. But by the end of events Sunday night the Pats will move one step closer to the undefeated mark and post another double-digit win (with the first digit being a two).

Pit - 10 at NYJ: Kellen Clemens looks fairly good, which is very nice for the future but won't help against relentless Steeler defense.

The rest:

NO + 1.5 at Hou

GB -10 vs. Car

Jax -3 vs. SD

KC +15 at Indy

Oak +5 at Min

Cle -3 at Bal

Atl +3 vs. TB

AZ +3.5 at Cin

Mia +10 at Phi

StL -3 at SF

Sea -6 vs. Chi

Was + 11.5 at Dal

Ten +2 at Den

Awkward Insertion of Commercial Dept.

You might be wondering "Gee. I wonder who makes that fine, sophisticated-looking Eyetalian suit Sully's wearing in that crappy photo?"

And the answer is: Corneliani, an Italian house that makes some pretty good RTW suits and jackets if you like that sort of thing - three-button front, high gorge (none of your three-roll-two sack stuff here); aggressive shoulders and darting, narrow waist, ventless. Slightly out of character are the pleated trousers - those guys like the straight legs usually.

This one I found thrifting and it has less shoulder padding than others I've seen. It happens to be a good fit for my Brooks Brothers frame.

Corneliani makes garments for Ralph of Long Island, among others, and can be found in your higher-end, snooty-type department stores.

By the way, that's a Sam Hober tie I had made up in the colors of the World's Most Annoying Baseball Team, the New York Mets.

The Cinema - That Old "Black Magic" Is Horrible and Features Rice Sex


In Black Magic (1975), Xu Nuo, a cool, hip construction worker, is the not-so-obscure object of the evil, sneaky and skanky widow Luo Yin's desire.

Matter of fact, Luo Yin, who looks like a barracuda with a squint, is so darn horny she has to go hire the evil sorcerer who lives in the nasty forest, second hut on the right, past the snake pit and the rotting corpses, to cook up a love potion.

And as we find out, his love potions aren't all that different from his death potions.

This wizard guy has some terrific moves, and induces not just Luo Yin but some other lovelorn lady to part with some breast milk, in two separate scenes.

So if that's your bag, this is your flick.

The sorcerer also uses ordinary cooked rice as a sort of sex toy. Really.

So Xu Nuo is completely under the spell, but the greedy wizard keeps coming back for more money. Plus there's this other doofus who has a major thing for the widow, and while she's trying to dose Xu Nuo, the doofus, who's also been to see the wizard, doses her. They make the Sign of the Little Cardboard Container With the Metal Handle all night long, but when she wakes up the spell has worn off and it's Sayonara City for the doofus.

There's a whole lot of plot that gets nowhere until finally Xu Nuo's fiancee, Quming (played by the redundantly-named Li-Li Li) hires the Good Wizard, who looks like Wilfred Brimley with a squint.

This wizard rustles up a protective beam from heaven and presto! No more evil warlock.

This piece of chop socky is sadly lacking in kung fu, but hooters abound, and the bit with the rice was worth the $2 rental fee. The soundtrack sounds like it was recorded on a cassette player in a bathroom, and the entire mess is filmed in what the producers, the notorious Shaw Brothers, grandly call "Shaw Scope" - a narrow band of mise-en-scene that translates into roughly one-third the usable screen of a standard television.

Summary: Lactation (twice). Creative use of grains. Snakes. Gratuitous swinging cats in leisure suits. Gratuitous swinging chicks in bell bottoms and scarves. Subtitles don't match dubbed dialog. One dissolving wizard. One Beam of Protection. One Chinese Wilfred Brimley. Appalling. Utterly worthless. Three coils.

The Cinema - Instant Caca


Every so often a film comes along that is so transcendently cheese-ridden it vaults over lesser rivals and achieves instant all-time CACA Award status. Die You Zombie Bastards (2005) is such a film.

The hero, Red Toole, is a cannibal who, along with his wife Violet, eats hippies. When she is kidnapped by Baron Nefarious, who has a lab on Hell Island from which he plans to use his Zombotron to turn all humanity into his personal zombie army, Red must act.

He embarks on a quest which takes him to Pittsburgh, Sweden, and other exotic locales.

Along the way he encounters a fat old rockabilly singer, Super Inga the Nippleless Swedish Barmaid, the horrifying legend of Bermudan monster Coconut Head Face Man, Ninjas, Angry Dog Men, lovely topless Swedish farmgirls, and other perils typical of life as a super hero in the post-9/11 world.

And zombies - green, completely unconvincing zombies.

The movie careens along, bouncing from non-sequitur to absurdity like me trying to find the bathroom at 3 a.m. on any night between 1989 and New Year's Eve, 2000.

Unlike most films of this ilk (i.e. cheap), it is mostly shot on film, so it doesn't have the videotaped look.

DYZB is so stupid, in fact, that all I can do is mention the approximately 36 breasts; the nekkid fish scientists; the repeated and highly unsubtle penis imagery; the Jamaican guy in the bathtub; Pittsburgh; and Hasil Adkins, the rockabilly singer.

If you're a moron, this is your flick. Four honest-to-God coils.


The Cinema - Shiny Boots of Cheez Whiz: "Venus In Furs" is True Torture

Jess Franco's Venus in Furs (1969) is quite possibly the Worst Film Ever Made.

Regular readers of this blog know that my standards are quite high for bad cinema. I have seen hundreds of rotten flicks, and this piece of Pure-D doo-doo shoots straight to the top of the short list.

Based on an incomprehensible novelette by famous Kraut weirdo Leopold von Sacher Masoch (also the inspiration for a great song by The Velvet Underground), this film is told almost entirely in voice-over, flashback narration. This might be artistic, evoking memories of classic noir cinema like Double Indemnity, or it could be because that the actors don't have to learn any dialogue and the editor doesn't have to synch it up.

(I'm inclined to go with the latter.)

The narrator, a bad trumpet player named Jimmy, finds the nude corpse of the lovely and mysterious Wanda on the beach in Istanbul, where he has buried his horn in the sand.

You with me?

Wanda hangs out with the jet set, meaning Klaus Kinski and a couple of other fruit loops, who get ol' Wanda into some kind of sado-masochistic whip/lesbo dungeon orgy deal that ends when Klaus stabs her and gets blood all over his face.

This scene was apparently shot in the dark with old, partially exposed film, and has the punch of a 40 year old filmstrip on the presidency of William McKinley.

Then it's off to Rio, where Jimmy gets his act together a bit and hangs with Rita, a singer who performs on her back. Really.

But Wanda keeps popping up. Is she dead? Is she a figment of Jimmy's tortured imagination? Is that Manfred Mann playing piano?

The answers: Yes.

(These people are evil, but we're not sure why. They could also be dead.)

Here's a sample of the deathless narration:

She was beautiful, even though she was dead. It's like there was a connection between us.


Time is like the ocean - you can't hang on to it.


Franco chews up immense amounts of screen time with scenes of the jazz group playing a godawful brand of cocktail lounge music and stock footage of happy people in ethnic costumes dancing in the streets of Rio. Or is it Istanbul?

Ye gods, this movie stinks.

Summary: Eight breasts, two of them allegedly dead. Dungeon. Whipping. Statue groping. Sex with feathers from a pillow. Bad dinner jacket with notch lapels. Gratuitous slow motion. Lens smeared with Vaseline for sex scenes. Toe sucking. Low-grade pseudo-vampirism. Klaus Kinski making his eyes bug out.

Half a coil for this turkey.


The Cinema - Big Christopher Lee Loses Fangs, Dons Kilt in The Wicker Man


Lord Summerisle doing his darnedest to make sure next year's harvest is bountiful

Robin Hardy's 1973 weirdfest The Wicker Man has pretty much everything you'd want in a movie, what with pagan cults, public fornication, creepy gravediggers, Christopher Lee in a kilt, and Britt Eklund's behind.

An English police sergeant is sent to the obscure private island of Summerisle to investigate a report of a missing child. He gets zippo cooperation from the natives, except for the landlord's daughter Willow, who tempts him with a nekkid pagan dance. Alas, he is too darn Christian to hop out of his pajamas and take advantage of the situation, preferring to clench his jaw instead.

Gradually he figures out that the islanders have abandoned Christianity for a form of animism - a setup conceived of and perpetuated by the Lords Summerisle, including the current one, played by Christopher Lee in one of his fine non-fanged roles.

Another Hammer Films alum, Ingrid Pitt, plays the evil librarian, but keeps her clothes on.

Sgt. Howie eventually finds the girl he's looking for, before the islanders sacrifice her in a muddleheaded attempt to increase the harvest, but the joke ends up being on him.

The movie is full of musical interludes, and normally I'd be utilizing the fast-forward feature of the DVD player.

But technology failed; the clicker went phut, and I had to experience the full film.

And it's a good thing, too, because all these singing children dancing around the Maypole and half-clad nymphs doing the Hokey Pokey over an open fire in the island's mini-Stonehenge truly make this a horror film.

This is not working out quite the way Sgt. Howie planned

Eight breasts. One landlord's daughter dancing nekkid. The fine - no, unparalleled - architecture of Britt Eklund's rear end. Christopher Lee with his hair flying all over the place. Beach orgy. Toad sucking, for medicinal purposes. Gratutious Olde Englysshe folk songs given sinister pagan import. Constipated British policeman. Actual plot, competent writing, better than competent acting, and general air of professionalism.

An exploitation movie you could show in an art house. Or in your house.

A hearty four coils.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Style Report 11-15-07

Just because I feel like govno is no reason not to maintain some semblance of style while waiting for the next explosion.

Here, then, is my first post in what I expect to be a series of incredibly irritating, narcissistic ramblings:

(In the manner of Mad magazine, ca. 1970)

See the man.
The man is not feeling well.
Everything he eats comes back out in a hurry.
Every trip to the little room on the man's right is an adventure.
The man feels like he is on a TV game show.
Will it be Door Number One, or Door Number Two?
It is just like a TV game show, except there is no prize.
The man, though unwell, still finds time to make this post.
The man is sick - in more ways than he realizes.

New heavy-duty Irish wool cardigan from eBay, and eBayed Allen Edmonds "Lawrence" loafers ( a discontinued model) that have zoomed to the top of my personal charts for fit. Also an old Orvis tattersall shirt and knockaround cords from Sierra Trading Post.

Note how this is really just a way of getting all these brand names and links into a post in the undoubtedly futile hope that one day this dopey blog thing will actually generate some cash.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Read This Blog (part one)

In an effort to join the blogging community - which is a little like showing up for Dorks Anonymous - I will plug various sites I come across, such as this one by my friend Kurt in Portland, Ore.

Kurt is a man of many talents, such as turning himself into a credible Yoda with the aid of a little strategically arranged shampoo.

He also knows more about bad movies than almost anybody alive.

So read his Ziggurat thing already.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Notes On the Bachelor Life: Cleaning In a Big Hurry

(A continuing narrative)

At times things happen that goad even the most complacent gent into action, and one of them is the Family Visit.

The Family Visit means that all the ordinary assumptions of the Bachelor Life are off.

It means, for instance, that the odd crusty stuff in the corner cannot wait until one remembers to buy floor soap. It means the excellent project of not washing any shirts until one has worn at least half the collection cannot continue. It means the pile of stuff destined for either eBay or the thrift shop is going to the latter, and right away.

It means the stranger exploitation films in the DVD collection have to be squirreled away in the "special box;" the pile of old newspapers that might have something worth saving must go; and there's a lengthy, smelly date with the can redemption machines at the Super-Duper Stop & Shop in the very near future.

But let us begin with dust. (See also: dirt, grit, flying particulate matter, cigar butts, choda.) It is absolutely astonishing how much dust there is in the average apartment, and when the inhabitant is a fresh air fiend, stuff just blows in the windows, gets caught up in the fan, and lands everywhere.

I am also slowly becoming aware of this fine true fact: regular applications of a dust mop or similar device mean less onerous (and much less dramatic) dust adventures.

In other words, I really should try and give the place a swipe more often than say, oh, once a year.

At the Super-Duper Stop & Shop, a cavernous place filled with confusing signs and kept at a sub-Arctic temperature, so one is in constant danger of being run down by the cart of a chilly nomad looking in vain for frozen peas, I meant to buy one of these Swiffer mop things, which look so easy and convenient on television. "Just Swiff in a Jiff and Light a Spliff!"

But they flip the meter on a Swiffer at 30 bucks, and I must call bush on a $30 disposable mop. So I went with the traditional
,Libman model, at $12, with the washable replaceable head. "Kinda like my own," I thought as I shoved it in the cart, narrowly missing a stout lady with two screaming infants in tow heading for the Starch 'n' Ritalin aisle.


Here are some exciting photos of Phase I - The Living Room:

The author discovers that large amounts of dust tend to clump, and these clumps are difficult to dislodge from the mop without the clumps returning to their original state of inchoate dustitude. It is best to go outside and shake the entire apparatus. Vigorously.

A background in pool halls is an aid to successful dusting with the Libman swivel dust mop.

Those unaccustomed to dusting find themselves in awkward positions.

The Enemy. This came out of one bookcase.

Coming soon...

I have been derelict in my posting lately, mostly because I have been under siege at Space Camp, where medical history is being made in the form of a highly communicable mental disorder, Infectious Stupidity.

Every day is an adventure when IS is roaring through the workplace. Those of us who are seemingly immune can only pick up the pieces, mop up the messes and pray for a happier, better time. Selah.

But I have a big essay in the works on The Avengers, and I wrote some notes on a few genuinely weird films noir I dug up from the vaults. Please stay tuned.

And for crying out loud start clicking on the little ad on the right hand side, even if you have zero interest in the pitch. If enough of you keep clicking, and get your pals to start clicking, then eventually Google will send me a check and I can be on my way to an independent life, free of the bondage of wage slavery and the peril of Infectious Stupidity.

(Click, damn you! Click!)

NFL '07 - Week Ten and the Road to Respectability

Last week saw the picks come in on the winning side yet again (8-6) and if the Indianapolis Colts hadn't collapsed like a cardboard valise...

But these things happen, which is why they call it gambling. Selah.

The season record stands at 56-68-7 vs. the spread, and here we go with the tenth week of the interminable NFL season:

Dal -1 at NYG: Low line more indicative of respect for the Parcells Theory of Existence ("You are what your record says you are") than for reality on the ground, which is that Cowboys are a notch up from the Giants.

KC -3 vs. Den: Broncos 1-7 against the spread and have no defense. This should be enough even for Chiefs coach Herman "What Time Did You Say It Was?!" Edwards, who is especially adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Car -4 vs. Atl: One school of thought says that since the Falcons have already won more games than expected, why not another? A second says that if any of the hype was true then the Panthers should start making their move, and what better place to start than by mopping up a bottom-rung club? I'm going with the latter.

Cle +9 1/2 at Pit: Not for a minute to I expect the browns to win this game, but I do think they will keep it well within this line.

Buf -3 at Mia: It was with considerable amusement that I read of the Dolphins tandem of QB Lemon to TE Peelle.

NO - 11 1/2 vs. StL: Is this a trap game, or The Rams to the Slaughter? If the Saints are going to make a run after their lousy start, the time is now, and who better than the hopeless Lambs to be the victims.

Some other wild guesses:

Ten -4 vs. Jax

GB -6 vs. Min

Cin +4 at Bal

Det +1 at AZ

Phi +3 at Was

SD + 3 1/2 vs. Ind

Oak + 3 1/2 vs. Chi

Sea -10 vs. SF


Regular American men who find themselves in Charlottesville, Va. should drop by Eljo's, the great Trad haberdashery that has outfitted both Wahoo and yahoo for umpty-ump years.

I recently ordered a Gitman shirt - white point collar with French cuffs, for those rare occasions I need such a garment. (The last time I dug out the incumbent I noticed the collar was coming off and as it was a thrift shop special, I felt replacing it with a new shirt was not an extravagance.)

Mr. Trent Thurston emailed me to confirm and added he had a couple of pairs of Bill's Khakis in my size that were slightly irregular or something, and offered me both, cuffed and shipped, for $50 each - 50 percent off retail. And of course I said sure.

I mention this because it's this level of service and the personal touch - not to mention the good memory - that has allowed Eljo's to prosper while men's shops fold by the dozen.

And even if you can't get to C-ville and get yourself measured for a Southwick sports coat, you can certainly stock up by long distance on staples like oxford cloth buttondowns.

Eljo's - check it out, y'hear?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

NFL '07: The Week Nine Conundrum (By Robert Ludlum)

Very quietly I will state that with last week’s 7-6 the season record crept a little closer to the .500 mark at 47-62-7. This has been accomplished without a lot of smarty-pants remarks about the Bengals having their own police blotter in the paper, or players who get suspended because they didn’t realize cocaine isn’t a steroid, etc.

So shhh, here are the picks:

Was - 3.5 at NYJ

KC -2.5 vs. GB

TB -3.5 vs. AZ

Ten -4 vs. Car

Atl -3 vs. SF

NO -3.5 vs. Jax

Det -3 vs. Den

Buf +1 vs. Cin

SD -7 at Min

Cle -1 vs. Sea

Ind +6 vs. NE

Oak -3 vs. Hou

Phi +3 vs. Dal

Bal +9 at Pit (Monday night)

Shameless Commercial Dept.

Why fool around with the department store dreck this holiday season when you can get yourself or your loved one outfitted in classic style at Brooks Brothers?

For slightly less than the cost of a decent used car ol' Fred or Barney can look like a million bucks in a suit from the Bros. Well, maybe that's pushing it, but the BB silhouette, whether in an updated, darted version or the classic sack cut, is good for the bulky American type who does not spend his every spare waking hour in the gym.

I'll put in a plug for the Brooks Brothers non-iron shirt, too. Most of their RTW shirtings are in this Teflon-coated fabric, a development purists regard with scorn and contempt.

And I wouldn't buy one in the buttondown collar configuration. BDs are supposed to look frumpy.

But in other, dressier collar styles the Brooks non-iron solids are hard to beat. I have half a dozen in white and blue; they can be shoved in a suitcase and shaken out; they stay reasonably fresh-looking all day, and if you follow the laundering directions and don't leave them in the dryer for a long time on maximum heat they come out of same ready to go.

So don't waste your time and heard-earned shekels pawing through over-priced crap at the department stores. (You might as well scour Marshall's or TJ Maxx for an actual bargain.) Go to your local Brooks Brothers store and do it right - and if you buy a suit or jacket for someone else, make sure the recipient takes it in to be altered, and make sure the jacket sleeves are tweaked to show half an inch or so of shirt cuff. This modest maneuver will instantly mark the wearer as a cut above 98 percent of American men.

Also don't buy their socks. They stink.