Sunday, October 19, 2008

That's It, For Real

No more, this is a tired joke. Thanks for reading.

Much tamer version, with editorial oversight:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pure Evil

A reporter's life is one of drudgery relieved by occasional bursts of excitement and action. There is an enormous amount of waiting around. Everybody - especially politicians - is late. The light is bad for photographs. The batteries in the camera die. The pen explodes in the breast pocket. The weather rarely cooperates.

And, if caution is not exercised, the reporter fortifies himself with endless cups of coffee and sugary junk, usually while sitting in the car, waiting.

Some evil soul put this candy corn kernel on my convenience store coffee cup yesterday, and I immediately went out and bought nutritious, portable things. I managed to lose almost 20 pounds since July, and I am NOT going to turn into El Gordo again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Age and Envy

I received the alumni quarterly today. It's still addressed to me in Phoenicia, N.Y., a holdover from my three years (1988-91) spent allegedly attending graduate school, and mostly drinking beer and Scotch while taking target practice with a .22 rifle.

The class notes have always been a source of angst. Reading about the incredible success of people I know for a fact were brain-dead, spoiled, hedonistic low-life pond scum - with huge trust funds - while I was student teaching in a war zone high school in Kingston, N.Y., driving an American Motors-era Jeep pickup with the exciting "exploding engine" feature and trying to write like Jack Kerouac on a manual typewriter - and instead writing like a sozzled chump with nothing better to do than drink beer and Scotch and shoot trees between masturbation sessions - no, this did nothing for my ego.

I had quite a collection of skin mags in those days. There was a convenience store up Route 28 toward Fleischmanns that sold three-fers: a trio of outdated, gnarly publications, one of which was in black and white and printed on mimeograph paper left over from the Korean War.

They had names like "Spank City," "Gypsy Dildoes" and "Lesbo Hotseats." I think they were from Bulgaria.

And somehow I didn't think that the guys with first-name last names -
Kendall Jeffers ("Gator") Robinson '85 - who had just wrapped up their latest merger, or bought an island in the South Pacific, or inked a five-novel deal with Doubleday - I didn't believe they were spending their late February afternoons staring glumly at the darkening sky, the wind-blasted landscape, and the perpetual sleet of a Catskill winter through the glaucoma-like haze induced by single-malt whiskey, cheap cigars and four mil plastic over the windows to keep the heat in, with only a three-year old copy of "Toes! Toes! Toes!" for company.

But for some reason this latest issue of the alumni magazine is not inspiring the same kind of crazed envy. For instance, how can I get worked up over this item?

Roger Prawn '82 is co-owner of The Flower Fields, Carlsbad, Calif. In 1998, Roger outbid actor Paul Rubens (PeeWee Herman) to purchase three Santa's Village structures and 11 mushrooms from an amusement park near Lake Arrowhead. He's hoping Baby Boomers like himself who grew up visiting the amusements will want to come to show their children and grandchildren...

If this is who I think it is, he must have continued his undergraduate habits and be through at least four of the mushrooms by now. It sounds fantastic in the literal sense, and would make a hell of a good story, but as the inspiration of good old-fashioned envy it's not cutting it.

Compare it to my entry, if I ever rate one:

Patrick L. Sullivan '84 is working as a reporter for a little weekly paper in Connecticut. He fly-fishes every chance he gets, wears a coat and tie to work and occasionally hangs around with a rather nice girl. He has no wife, no family, no dog and almost no regrets that can be mentioned in an alumni publication.

I think ol' Rog will be envying me, if he ever snaps out of his psilocybin delirium. Although I must confess to a certain sneaking admiration for a guy who outbid a convicted weenie-wagging Z-list celeb for a field full of worthless junk and believes that his fellow late-blooming Boomers will make his insane project a vacation destination.

Anyway, life ain't so bad. It's more or less as I describe it above; since I stopped drinking I haven't been arrested or gotten my head stuck in the cole slaw at the Fourth of July picnic; I have friends and do things, and I have a whole mess of new little cousins to corrupt - talking books and fishing and whatnot. I get all the fun of being a parent and none of the responsibility, which suits my slacker ass just fine.

I don't make any money, but there's a bright side to that, too. As someone put it today (in a church basement, if you get my drift), "I don't worry about the stock market - all my money is tied up in long-term debt."

I must be getting old if the class notes in the alumni magazine don't send me leaping into the void. Or mature.

Or something.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Red and the Blue

No, not Stendahl's celebrated novel about hemorrhoids.

After I culled a whole mess of ties this past weekend for the Episcopal tag sale, I realized just how many ties I have in this most basic of color combinations.

And so I am going to wear one every day this week, for the sheer unadulterated hell of it.

See this thread on The Curriculum for more than you'll ever want to know about this inane idea.

Day Two - Serious Monochrome

Day Three



Day Four

Doing my "North By Northwest" thang


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Making the Nature Scene; or The Conquest of Casual

Nobody loves you when you've got a burning missile shoved in your face

I am hereby making public my intention of quitting my current five Muniemakers per day cigar habit, in favor of one or two really good smokes per week.

Like my frequent declarations of absence, we'll just have to see how this goes.

But it's a really foul habit - I smell funny, my teeth are grotty, and when I come in view small children jeer. The bolder ones throw rocks.

On a happier note, these LL Bean jeans fit pretty well. I could even go down one waist size, and have ordered appropriately.

Jeans allegedly make me less intimidating. Why anybody would be cowed by me is a mystery, but it's been said by people whose opinions I respect, so...

The skinny: LL Bean khaki denims; LL Bean bd; Lands End sweater vest; Dressabout bucks; SmartWool socks; Seiko automatic with strap from Central Watch; Ray-Ban Clubmasters

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Cinema - Side Vents and Silencers

An Internet Gentleman always dresses for the occasion - even a go-kart track.

"Yeah, we're the admissions guys from Brown."
"Uh, Cornell, right?"

Angie takes one from the Gipper.

Don Siegel's
The Killers (1964) doesn't owe much to Ernest Hemingway's story but it does have the two of the most stylish bad guys in screen history - Lee Marvin as Charlie and Clu Galagher as Lee, the hit men who can't figure out why their target (race car driver Johnny North, played by John Cassavetes) "just stood there and took it."

And we get Ronald Reagan slapping Angie Dickinson.

This is a nice, tight film noir, minus the lighting. Everybody in the film is either a creep or an idiot, but they all know how to dress.

Charlie's suit is particularly nice, with side vents that can't be more than six inches, if that. And Lee's nicely rolled buttondown collar is evident in the Florida steakhouse scene.

A certified CACA classic, worthy of the Iron Coil.

The Big Score

Thrifters are like any other sort of collectors - book scouts, vinyl LP freaks, fez fanatics. (I once met one of the latter; it took an hour to get away without being rude.)

We haunt our thrift shops and watch for one-offs: church events, estate sales, and obits of men who were bankers or prep school headmasters.

And those with the collecting disease wind up with piles of stuff we never use, because while searching for The Big Score we find lots of minor scores that somebody might want or might just come in handy some day...

It's autumn in New England, and our towns indulge in Fall Festivals.

These festivities usually include: book sales; bake sales; booths of arts 'n' crafts ranging in scope from the mildly interesting to outright gimcrackery; clever scarecrows; historical exhibits manned by determined ladies of indeterminate age and fierce bearing; and second-hand clothing.

I am usually a donor to the efforts of our Episcopal outfitters, but this year I scored these shell cordovan Aldens (in my size), plus the two bows, for $19 - considerably under the retail price. *

Episcopalians are always the best denomination for this sort of thing. Congregationalists are historically wary of anything that might be considered ornate, and the Catholic bins are full of man clogs and t-shirts that read "World's Greatest Grandpa" and "I Went All the Way to Lourdes and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt!"

* Thanks to Georgia at The Curriculum for the link.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bob's Boss Hawg

My friend Bob caught this stupendous largemouth bass in a small fishing tournament last week. It is an impressive mamma-tamma.

I am a fly rod guy, but I admire the art of spincasting, especially since I cannot get a spinning lure to travel in a straight line to save my life.

If you were expecting some sort of "What the Well-Dressed Angler Is Wearing" essay, forget it. Bob has many things, but style is not one of them.

He does, however, have a cool boat, and his fish is bigger than my fish.

Details from the angler:

Sure you can put a picture on your blog. I caught this one on Sunday(10/05/08) at Laurel Lake in Lee, Mass. It weighs 8lb 14oz and was released unharmed after a boat ride to the weigh-in. I'm guessing this fish is 16 to 18 years old. This fish was a nice way to close our club tournament season.

The particulars:
water temp 58
water clarity 6'
air temp 39
bait bottom contact plastic
depth caught 21'

Updated American

In another attempt at tweaking the Trad, here is a two-button darted Brooks jacket, a Brooks point-collared shirt and the classic Brooks tie; forward-pleated flannels from Ralph of Long Island and Allen Edmonds Sanfords. (Plus the usual fripperies.)

All these elements save the shoes would not pass muster as strict Ivy elements, yet I think it would be hard to call it "fashion-forward" or - gasp - "Italian."

I'm not too sure about the grey/olive combination, however.

Friday, October 3, 2008

...And The Horse You Rode In On WTH Style

Some days just suck, and I knew this one would when I slept through my alarm.

Last night sucked as well, and it's just carried straight on through.

The death of my friend and mentor BKD has rattled me a little more than I care to admit, and the rest of life then dutifully tumbled into lockstep with a series of bush-league disasters and calamities that seem worse than they probably are.

And the hitch is that I cannot do a single solitary blessed thing about any of it...

Except get dressed and go to work.

This is where the Trad or Ivy Style really comes in handy - as armor. Anybody I encounter today will know intuitively that I mean business. (Even if I don't.)

In Dockers and a golf shirt, I'd just be Morty the Mook.

Feeling blue but going greenish, and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke.

The skinny: BB camelhair sack blazer (eBay); LL Bean oxford buttondown; LL Bean wool slacks (eBay); Bert Pulitzer tie (Ask Andy thrift exchange); Kent Wang pocket square; AE Hancocks in brown suede (eBay); J. Crew socks (outlet); RayBan Clubmasters (eBay); snarl is free - and priceless.

Funeral Style, Again

Chilly yesterday so I dug out a medium-weight Brooks suit and went for it. The full-bore Ivy look would probably require a buttondown collar; however, the inherently casual nature of the collar just seems wrong for solemn occasions.

The funeral was for this man.

The skinny: Brooks Brothers 1818 sack suit (thrift shop); Lands End pinpoint non-iron straight collar (overstocks); vintage Brooks tie (thrift shop); Drake's pocket square from Sierra Trading Post; the ubiquitous Allen-Edmonds Park Avenue on the feet (eBay); socks from Lands End

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Yeah, well, I'm employed again.

And what a relief it is to be wearing a tie.

I need to visit Mario for a de-fluffing, but otherwise I think the slightly edgy Ivy look works. I am going to visit the owner of a new bed and breakfast, and you know how slippery those characters are...

The skinny: Huntington sack jacket (eBay); Paul Stuart knit tie (thrift shop); Macluer shirt; Lands End Year-Rounders (overstocks); Florsheim gunboats (Ask Andy thrift exchange thread); pocket square and socks left by the Haberdashery Fairy

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Worst Hair Day Ever

The CACA summit was a bust. My attorney was reluctant to make the trip in the face of the latest wild guess from the National Weather Service, which predicted lots of rain and was mostly correct.

I read a stack of Nero Wolfe novels from the Phoenicia library, fished a bit, and didn't watch a single film.

I also didn't stack that pile of wood.

Full report later on the Great Tattersall Experiment

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Heated Age

I am packing up summer clothing for winter storage in the family's palatial mountain retreat, located at the end of a dirt road next to a colony of atavistic dirt Buddhists somewhere in the Catskill Mountains.

The Buddhists keep an eye on things, and perform weird and unspeakable rites to ensure trespassers stay away. The occasional poacher gets through; there is a feast, and much rejoicing. (You figure it out.)

On one of the clothing boards there is currently a discussion of the favorite blazer, and it occurred to me as I shoved my oar in that the main reason I like my thrift shop Brooks Brothers model is that it has a 3/8 lining, or almost none at all, and is made of hopsack, a coarse weave that breathes well.

I can wear this jacket anywhere, any time, and not overheat. And the same cannot be said of many of my favorite jackets, especially the cold-weather stuff.

And this is because Americans think they have a constitutional right to be gently poached in the workplace.

I'm sorry, but 74 degrees inside is too damn warm. 70 is okay, 68 even better. Mr. Obama took a lot of heat for mouthing off on this topic a while back, but it was the only area where I agree with the radical socialist pinko Commie jug-eared freak.

I wonder if skyrocketing fuel prices will get Americans to turn the heat down.

And, inadvertently, contribute to the renaissance - men keeping their jackets on during the day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Thanks everybody - yesterday Coiled Pleasures broke the 500 readers mark. A good day used to be about 80 individual hits, most of which skedaddled immediately.

OK, Google, where's that big check?

Burn After Reading This Post; Time Out For CACA '08

In a rare departure from the norm I went to an actual movie theater to see
Burn After Reading (from the Bros. Coen) the other day.

The Bros. are in good form with this lightweight but decidedly weird little spy caper - which is one big MacGuffinfest.

No spoilers, just rest assured that nobody in the picture knows what the hell is going on.

It's very funny, and the mega-annoying Brad Pitt (playing what must be someone pretty close to his ownself) gets his.

No nekkidity, but excellent hatchet attack. Decent wardrobe department, too. John Malkovich is especially loopy, and George Clooney proves why he is the logical successor to Cary Grant in his ability to play nitwits.

This gets an Iron Coil, as I believe it has lasting value.

In other news, this blog will cease for a few days as I head to Phoenicia, N.Y. for a CACA event. Which means my attorney, Thos., is coming up for a few days of fishing, crock pot stews and bad movies. We might do the Deathstalker series again, or at least nos. I-III.


(If you are wondering what the hell CACA is, click here)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another blogger joins the fray

Giuseppe from Mass. has a new blog called An Affordable Wardrobe.

On his debut post he takes a swipe at the Trad bloggers, but that didn't prevent him from asking me to put up a link.

Which I did.

(It's not as if anybody reads these things.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Boardroom WTH Style

Lest you think that "What the Hell?" style is confined to Trad and/or casual clothing, here is "AQG" from the Film Noir Buff - Talk Ivy forum doing something splendidly obnoxious in what he calls a "Standard Vulture Capitalist" vein.

Tedious Errands WTH Style

Guys have been talking about the perfect sweatshirt; LL Bean's is about as close to the ones I remember being issued in high school gym class.

Paired with loafers makes it a "What the Hell?" moment.

I tire of ribbon strap watch bands, for today, anyway.

Again With the Jeans

These jeans fit. They are the "Faded Glory" brand sold at one of the gazillion Wal-Marts near you.

The non-blue Faded Glory models haven't been in evidence the last few times I've been in. I am leaning toward jeans in any color but blue.

Snapped hastily by perching the camera on top of the car on the way out last night. (Ralphus is visiting his mother in Perth Amboy, N.J.)

The skinny: Wal-mart "Faded Glory" off-white jeans; Clark's desert boots, waxed leather; thrifted tweed jacket frm Eljo's in Charlottesville, Va. - a two-button sack; BB sport shirt; RL pocket square.

And another one...

Yeesh, another Ivy site to check out - Ivy Style.

This one's from the guy at and the notorious Russell Street, Super Troll.

The latter inveigled me into writing something about ties for this venture, so I have an interest in promoting it.

Return of a Trad Blogger

Heavy Tweed Jacket is back, and not a moment too soon, as The Long-Suffering Trad has folded his LL Bean tent.

These blogs are fun to read and allow for a more individual slant on the Ivy Look than can really be accomplished on the message boards.

So please keep clicking - we all really want that $3.69 check from Google.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Many of you (well, two) have asked, "Where is the incisive NFL commentary plus the mediocre against-the-spread picks?"

I am not going to even think about pro football until after the World Series.

I find, increasingly, that all televised sports irritate me. The hype and crapola quotient is alarmingly high, and I am tired of it.

Plus, living here in the Northwest Corner, I have to listen to sour grapes from Yankee fans, and lousy sportsmanship from Red Sox fans, who are now just Yankee fans with different accents and hats.

So we'll pick it up around Week Five or Six, if anybody still cares.


I don't have a happy history with blue jeans. They don't fit me.

And I have tried.

Until recently I usually had a good-sized gut, and continue to be spectacularly shortchanged in the fanny department. So wearing trousers of any kind that sit on the hips was just not going to be aesthetically pleasing.

But now that I am holding at 160 pounds, and improving slowly but steadily via running, sit-ups and a pretty good diet, I thought I would give the jeans wheeze another whirl.

Dressy casual is tricky to me. I am wary of looking like the clothing equivalent of a mullet haircut - business and party combined.

The skinny: Levis regular fit (with a zipper, I am not going to fiddle around with buttons, thanks); Ralph of Long Island oxford cloth buttondown in the coveted peach color (via eBay); J. Press tweed jacket from a guy at Ask Andy; pocket square from Sam Hober; watch strap from Central Watch; Dressabout chocolate nubuck shoes and Gold Toe argyles from the fine folks at J.C. Penney.