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GodfatherLast week, I stood out in the rain.

On purpose.

Last week was a stay-cation, and I spent many hours out in the elements, reclaiming the gardens after a couple of years’ worth of accumulated neglect. It being February — and one of the wettest on record, to boot — more of those “elements” were liquid than usual, and most of those hours were spent in the rain.

Luckily, I had a new hat.

I was born at the sunset of the Hat Era, a time when everyone — men and women alike — wore hats in public. Hats were already passé when I was born, and by the time I was a lad, the only men who wore hats were fishermen, cowboys, and men in uniform. Alas.

I’ve always liked hats. Real hats, that is. Hats with brims that go all the way around. A hat has a purpose — to keep the sun out of your eyes, to keep your head warm, and to keep rain off your head and neck. Caps generally only do one of those things, and not well, either, not when compared to a real hat.

The hats I preferred were those of my movie icons — Bogie, Stewart, Fonda — hats with character, hats with style. No baseball caps for those guys. No urban-cowboy Stetsons. No no no.

The Fedora ruled with those men. Sometimes they wore a Homburg or a wide-brimmed Tyrolean. Or, if they were in a Western, a slouch.

The slouch hat has always been a favorite of mine. A felt hat with a flat, wide brim that slouches down over nape and brow, preferably with a creased crown for ease of tipping to passersby. Aussies tie up one side of theirs. So did the Rough Riders. The slouch has tons of character and is a top-notch performer in all things a hat is supposed to do.

But, as I’ve never considered myself as a guy who looks good in hats, I was a bit self-conscious, standing out in my suburban garden, rain pelting down, fat droplets pattering off the wide brim of my new slouch hat. I mean, it’s a big hat, by modern stylistic standards. It’s felted mix of wool and buffalo hair, black as night, with a slight curl on the back and sides of the 4 ½” brim, and a silver-buckled strip of leather around the crown. My wife assured me though that, contrary to my instincts, the hat suits me, and since she generally doesn’t like me to look the fool any more than I do myself, I trusted her assessment, and wore it most of the week.

A quality felt hat is almost a living thing. New, it never fits well, despite proper measurement. It must be worn to fit properly, and if possible, worn in the rain. You wear it, let it get wet, and then continue to wear it as it dries. The moisture loosens up the felted fibers and when they dry, they shrink up to fit your skull. If you don’t like the brim or the crown, you can steam it over a kettle and reshape it to your liking, which I did to remove the curl on the front.  After four days spending several hours out in the rain, getting the hat wet and letting it dry, it now is a perfect fit to the bony, pearish ovoid that houses my brain.

I still don’t feel like it’s my “style,” but I like it, so I’m going to fake it until it feels right.

k

Typewriter

PS. I was thoroughly puzzled by the relationship between hat sizes and head measurements. A 22-inch skull is a U.S. hat size 7, which is a difference of 15; but a 23 ½ inch skull (like mine) is a U.S. hat size 7 ½, a difference of 16. What gives?

Turns out, the relationship between your head size and your U.S. hat size is, believe it or not, π.

Yup. Just as circumference/π = diameter, so Your Head Measurement (in inches)/π =  U.S. Hat Size.

I just love that.

k

Bogie and Bacall

Le crayon rougeOops. Sorry.

By “writing to the market” I didn’t mean “gearing your work-in-progress to match current market trends” (which, I feel compelled to add, unless you are a spectacularly fast writer with a very good agent, is a fool’s game).

I mean “writing to the market’ as in writing copy for marketing. Which is what I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks.

You see, my wife opened a business. Continue Reading »

Lupine Hi-Rise“Why don’t you do something with your life?”

Such an awful question.
So packed with disdain and condescension.
So dismissive.
You can hear the curled lip in the words.
You can taste the bile.

“You had such potential.

Sharp words.
Words designed to hurt, flay, maim.
Words heated in a smith’s forge, hammered into blades, honed to an edge, and thrown with piercing accuracy.

Useless words. Utterly useless. Continue Reading »

I, Immigrant

Dragons AheadIn 1889, my great-grandfather and his brothers left their home in Lucca, Italy and traveled to the port of Le Havre, France, where they boarded a ship bound for New York. They left their homeland to escape the economic misery and political chaos that typified the Kingdom of Italy in the late 1800s. They came to build a new life in a new land.

For them, the immigration process was not long. They were asked a few questions, were inspected for disease, and were allowed to enter.

Upon entry, they were met by a populace that despised and denigrated them for their peasant background, their Catholic religion, and their cultural differences.

Yay, America.

Today, the immigration process is a good bit longer. Without American relatives or sponsors, an immigrant can wait up to six years for a visa, only then to begin the months-long process of background checks and vetting. Refugees fleeing the chaos and upheaval of war-torn regions such as the Levant may actually have a shorter wait-time, but their vetting process will take up to two years and includes interviews, background checks, screenings, security checks, cultural orientation, and registration with an American resettlement agency. Even getting a tourist visa — a requirement for most people outside of Europe and the Far East — is a relatively long process.

And when these immigrants finally enter the U.S. — if they are allowed to enter — they’ll now be met by a government that despises and denigrates them for their background, their religion, and their culture.

Yay, America.

Typewriter

I see a silver-lit night, full moon struggling to pierce slate-colored clouds. I see a ghostly crag, pale rocks rising above a dark, heathered moor. I see a woman in blue standing at its summit, bare feet on bare stone, hair loose, arms wide, waiting.

The clouds marshal their forces, focus their power. Winds rise, rumbling forward, and rain comes down in icy sheets. The storm builds, advancing on the crag.

She stands tall and closes her eyes, her nostrils scenting the moss and granite beneath her feet, and the wind-swept tang of a miles-off sea.

Glassy whips lash the sky. The storm clenches its fist. Heather bows beneath its blasted screams.

The woman turns, facing the storm as it thunders toward her on lightning limbs. She tilts back her head, bares her throat.

The wind belches a roaring laugh, sprinting toward its prey.

With a smile and fulsome intent she grabs the wind, bends its trajectory, twisting its path, coiling it around her summit. She reels it in, pulling it to her. She breathes it in, breathes in its power. Her eyes flash open and she sees the swirling clouds above, the vortex of her control. The wind is within her now, part of her. The wind’s laugh is now her laugh.

This is not a victory, the wind not a vanquished enemy. This is a joining, a strengthening, a fusion.

She and the storm are one.

Now, she is power. Now, she is strength.

Now, she is the storm.

La Push

 

Today, we went dark. Sort of.

Today, our cable and land-line were cut off. We still have internet and our mobile phones, but the dedicated connections for television and phone are as dead as Monty Python’s parrot.

During our fortnight-long sans cable experiment, everything about our television viewing habits came under scrutiny: what we watch, when we watch, and how we watch. We learned a great deal about our habits and thoroughly re-evaluated what we considered “worthwhile” viewing. After two weeks, we no longer think of things in terms of networks, but see them in terms of providers, apps, and individual shows.

Not everything was rosy, though, and before we dropped the hammer, we had to make some compromises. Continue Reading »

Le crayon rougeI’ll update you on my cable-cutting process soon, but for this week, here’s a look into the things that keep me up at night. Literally. This is the type of shite that makes my brain whirl like a dervish when it wakes me up at 4AM.

There’s a language construct that has bothered me for a long time. It’s the “negative question.” It’s like the question in the title of this post or, as found in the large portion of my viewing and reading intake that includes British and “period” drama, it’s often tacked on to the end of a sentence, as in, “She is a handsome woman, wouldn’t you say?”

In general, I don’t have a problem with negative inquiries.

Unless, of course, I have to answer them. Continue Reading »

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