Saturday, May 31, 2008

Schrödinger's Cat

Last night, every woman between the ages of 25 and 35 that I know was at the Sex and the City premiere, narrowing my night-life options a bit. I was in jeans and a tee-shirt and looking for something chill to do, so I called Frankie and told him to meet me at Tres Generaciones, or “3-G’s”, which is one of those faux Mexican beach bars with a nice, big patio.

I got to 3-G’s first, ordered a Dos Equis lager, and sat to wait for Frank. It was about 8:30 and the crowd was sparse. As expected, there was a bit of chorizo there. Frankie showed up, got a Corona, and we caught up a bit. Directly across the bar from us at the bar was what appeared to be a happy-hour crowd that had gone long. I pointed a girl in the group out to Frankie, as she was a real good-looker, with more than a passing resemblance to Jennifer Connelly, including the dark hair, nice rack, and radiant smile.

Have I mentioned why Frankie and I work well together when we’re out? It’s because we compliment each other’s weaknesses in “game.” To wit, I can open and close, but I really have no middle. Frank is all middle.

The way the 3-G bar is set up, Jennifer Connelly was within earshot of us. I scoped for an opening. I saw she was smoking Parliament Lights, and she was with two guys, one in a Denver Broncos jersey and a ball-cap (douchebag indicators, both), and a fat dude in a polo-shirt and cargo shorts. It was clear she wasn’t there “with” either of them. So I made eye-contact with her, smiled, and started the silly small talk. I asked what she was drinking – Bacardi and diet-Pepsi – and ordered her another. Within a half-hour, Frankie and I had secured a four-top table and she was drinking with us. Now, as I said, I have no middle. I sometimes think I have ADD; I was really flitting in and out of the conversation that Frankie was having with the chick. She’s a marketing director for a local restaurant chain. She visited London once. Her family was Sicilian (that one threw me, since I’d pegged her for a Jew when I saw the Parliament Lights). In contrast, Frankie’s middle-game was on fire. I admit, I was a little mesmerized by the girl’s mannerisms, to the point that I didn’t say much.

At about 10:30 I got a text message from Missy asking where we were. She showed up about 15 minutes later. I was happy to have her there, because Jennifer Connelly wasn’t giving me much flavor, and Frankie needed a reason to engage in one-on-one conversation. I’ll hand it to Missy, she was a great wing-man for him. She had two beers, and then left, but not before she invited Jennifer Connelly out to a birthday party we’re going to tonight. Plus, Missy was looking pretty good, which never hurts. As for myself, my wing-man skill set entailed ensuring that there was never an empty Bacardi and diet-Pepsi in front of Jennifer Connelly, and smiling and nodding when she said something that I figured she thought was clever. At 1:00, I decided to call it a night. Fact: Frankie needs to learn a closing move and I need to learn some middle. That’s all there is to it, so I took my leave and left him with Jennifer Connelly. Sink or swim, motherfucker. I’ll see him this evening, but for now, I like to think that he didn’t drop that ball.

Friday, May 23, 2008

History Lesson

Because we strive to be educational here at the Mad Shoeshiner, apropos of the last post, and courtesy of the repository of all human knowledge:

Damn the torpedoes is a well-known quotation that has passed into popular culture. The original quotation was by U.S. Navy Admiral David Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay, during the American Civil War. Mobile, Alabama, at the time was the Confederacy's last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico. The bay was heavily mined (tethered naval mines were known as torpedoes at the time). Farragut ordered his fleet to charge the bay. When one ship struck a mine the others began to pull back, but Farragut shouted the order, "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" The bulk of the fleet succeeded in entering the bay and the heroic quotation became famous.

Featured Album

Laz called me late last night, and we were reminiscing on old times, and he reminded me of a time back in 1999, when I was a summer intern in Chicago, and a waitress from a deli in Evanston picked me up one Sunday morning after church. And by “picked me up” I mean I was eating alone, she gave me her number, and we met for dinner and drinks that evening. At the time, I was 23 and she was 34 and much too fast for me, but I rolled with the situation. The only reason I was even in Evanston was that I was house-sitting for my boss over the 4th of July weekend, so I took the waitress back to his house, which I promptly passed off as my own. The whole experience had a very “Risky Business” air to it.

In that same time frame, my buddy Meno was living in New York City, and I looked to him for musical suggestions. He had suggested that I pick up Massive Attack’s Mezzanine album, which I remember buying at a music store on Rush street. As it turned out, not only was it a great album, but it turned out to be, in my opinion, the single sexiest album that I’ve ever owned. Serendipitously, I happened to have the album with me as the deli waitress seduced me at my boss’ house, and since that day, I have to say that Mezzanine has been the soundtrack to about 75% of first-time sexual encounters to which I have been able to control the music.

I admit that my musical taste has stagnated since around 2002, but the only real album that has vied for “closer” status in my CD player is Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry. The beauty of Mezzanine is that it comes on slow, sets the stage, and guides you through the obstacles and inevitabilities of a romantic interlude much as a road map in a foreign city. You’re sitting, having a cocktail while “Angel” rhythmically lulls you into the mood. The seamless flow into “Risingson” begins a crescendo, which captures and placates any anxiety one may have about moving forward. At the same time, Mezzanine doesn’t have the goofy, forced feeling of, say, a Marvin Gaye album. By the time that “Teardrop” comes on, if you’re not hooking up, it’s just not going to happen. If you’ve made it to first base, though, then damn the torpedoes. . . the rest of the album will get you through to the end.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New Ride

Hat-tip to Frankie, who surprised the shit out of all of us yesterday by buying a new 2008 BMW 528i, and leading me to suspect that he's secretly been dealing drugs on the side or something. Upgrading from his 1996 Toyota 4Runner, this should be a welcome change, given that the new wheels comes with such things as power windows and doors, and a CD player (hell, it even has an iPod connection).
. . .

BMW: Sleek and smart. For men who like handjobs from beautiful women they hardly know.

. . . like a cigarette should.

Smokers are loyal to their brands. I mean this is the very reason that the cigarette companies marketed to children for so long, right? In fact:
I’m not going to attempt to rationalize my bad habit in this particular post, so spare me the lectures, but I do want to explore my choice of brands. I started smoking when I was in high school. I grew up in a small town that revered military service, and I really looked up to the old WWII-era GIs, who were ubiquitous in my childhood. Most of those GIs were smokers, and most of them smoked Lucky Strikes. When I (illegally) purchased my first pack of cigarettes, I bought a pack of non-filtered Luckies, of course. Joe fucking Camel didn’t have anything on my grandfather, who stormed Anzio beachhead, or my dad’s high school principal, who was a Bataan Death March survivor. Lucky Strikes came in a little square soft-pack, and I thought the packaging was pretty cool. I didn’t know better, so I thought all cigarettes tasted and smoked like a Lucky Strike. Fourteen years later, I still love a lot of the Lucky Strike “mystique” – the packaging, the history, the name – but it wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that there’s a reason Lucky Strikes (and Chesterfields, and Pall Malls) no longer command the market share the once did: they’re just not good.

In one of my first weeks at college I found myself at a fraternity party during pledge week. I was out of smokes, so I bummed one. That cigarette happened to be a Marlboro red. Compared to a non-filtered Lucky Strike, the Marlboro was exceptionally smooth, mild, and pleasurable. It was love at first drag. I bought a pack of reds the next day – and it came in a box! A box that I could put in my front pocket and not crush. The Marlboros had filters! No more tobacco falling onto my tongue. All in all, they were a superior product.

Now, folks will tell you that Marlboro reds are pretty high-up on the “harsh” scale, and I guess they’re right, but coming from where I came from, I had the opposite impression of them. Most smokers I know these days smoke some sort of light cigarette, but I’ve never been able to smoke lights. It sort of feels like I’m sucking on a straw when I do so. My lungs actually crave a little harshness (for that matter, I drink my coffee black and don’t have much of a like for sweet cocktails). An unintended consequence is that when folks see you smoking a red, they assume that you’re serious about your vice. I’m not one for the “Marlboro Man” appeal, but I’ll take it if you want to give it to me.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bring on the Dancing Horses

To quote the Mad Shoeshiner: "You buy an electric toothbrush and then you have to buy a house that has electricity" . . . I was out shopping on Saturday, and I found a smoking deal on a Ralph Lauren tuxedo shirt. It was so good that I couldn't afford not to buy it, so I did. Interesting thing is that I've never owned a tuxedo. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and I'm tired of wearing somebody else's clothes (i.e. renting) when it comes to hitting the black-tie events. Hell, I've passed on more than my fair share of black-tie events because I didn't want to go through the hassle of renting a stupid tux. So today, I called up the tailor and placed an order for a tuxedo of my own. I went as classic as I could . . . shawl collar, one button (pictured above). You really don't see the shawl collar anymore . . . and the notched collar kind of annoys me on a tux, since I think a tux should have a little more flair than my typical suit. Of course, now I'm going to have to buy a cummerbund, and a tie, and the right shoes, and a set of studs . . . etc. But in the long run, I think of the tux as an investment. In two or three wearings, I'll have made up the capital outlay, due to not having to rent.

Friday, May 16, 2008


There's really got to be an easier way of courtship than this stupid thing Americans call dating. My buddy Jason married his high-school sweetheart/first girlfriend. I missed that boat.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

the things I carry

Seems like a couple of folks caught this when I first posted it on Sunday. I initially pulled it because I figured I'd break it down into eight separate entries. I think I'll still do that, but if the comments from the last post confused you, check the photo below, and stay tuned for the separate installments for a monologue on each.
* * *
Sunday, May 11
So I got my hair cut today. I can't stand the feeling immediately following a haircut, and always try to take a shower as soon as possible after visiting the barber. When I got home, I figured it would be a good day to wash my jeans as well. I emptied my pockets onto my bed, and realized that as a still-life, it sort of said a lot about me, so I took the following picture:

A quick summary of the things I carry on any given Sunday, starting clockwise from the wallet:

  1. Wallet, with enough ducat to make it happen
  2. Handkerchief, and an Ace hard rubber comb
  3. Victorinox classic pocket knife
  4. Marlboro reds and Zippo lighter
  5. Cell phone
  6. Smith & Wesson 442 revolver
  7. Wristwatch (today, a Longines Dolce Vita)
  8. Car keys and house keys

Monday, May 12, 2008

Typical guy thing

Text message conversation starting at 8:11 p.m. last night, below. Identifying the female right now would be too much backstory for the message of the post. Stay tuned, though.

Drink. What do you think? Where are you?
My house and watch brothers and sisters? Or do u hate that show?
Never even heard of it. U have booze?
I have beer and a bit of tequila. Bring ur own if u want.

There is not a single heterosexual man out there that's ever watched this show of his own volition. Those who said they did were just hoping to score. I've been here before. I watched two whole seasons of the Gilmore Girls with the ex and pretended to care about Rory's trials and tribulations. So I showed up at the girl's house with a bottle of Smirnoff blueberry vodka and a bottle of soda. She had opened a bottle of white wine, so the vodka was all me, although I donated it to her hopelessly empty liquor cabinet. If I'd have been selfish I'd have brought a bottle of whiskey; don't ever accuse me of being inconsiderate.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Bender lite

It turns out that I got drunk every night this week. I've been a good citizen and made it to work with minimal hangover, but it doesn't change the fact that I've woken up on my couch fully clothed at around 4:00 a.m. for four mornings straight and had to shuffle into my bedroom. The only real downside I've noted is that I keep forgetting to eat dinner. Bar appetizers hardly qualify as sustenance, and I think the celery that comes with buffalo wings actually has negative calories, so malnourishment is my main concern. As far as benders go, this really doesn't qualify as one, I know, but I sure am hungry this morning.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

random kicks in the nuts

I was at a sweet patio bar with Frankie and Sam last night, enjoying what must have been my fourth Maker's Mark and soda. We were having a good time when around 10:00 I looked up and caught sight of Keri. She was at the bar with a new guy (the doctor went kaput after Paris) who looked like he failed the casting call for a live version of a Tim Burton claymation feature. It kind of sucked. Truth be told, it really sucked. Even though we've been broken up for a long ass time now, I'd never actually seen her with one of the guys that followed me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Some of the people all of the time

The Kaiser called me last Saturday. He’d been out with his lady on Friday night, and they’d gone to some new trendy bar. The reason he was calling, he told me, was that he’d been drinking absinthe there . He swore it was absinthe. Lucid, he told me, was the brand. I had a hard time believing him, as I happen to know that the absinthe importation ban is still in effect. I went to their website, and it looked like the real deal. For a moment, I got a little excited. But just as things too good to be true tend to be, this was. It turns out that in October of 2007, the Department of the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau revised its policy regarding the use of the term “absinthe” on labels of distilled spirits products and in related advertising material:

We approve the use of the term “absinthe” on the label of a distilled spirits product and in related advertisements only if the product is “thujone-free” pursuant to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulation at 21 CFR 172.510. Based upon the level of detection of FDA's prescribed method for testing for the presence of thujone, TTB considers a product to be “thujone-free” if it contains less than 10 parts per million of thujone.

In other words, Lucid can be legally sold in the States since it contains less than 10 ppm of the stuff that makes absinthe a good time. It’s as if the government clarified the definition of “marijuana” to allow the sale of THC-free products, and I marketed non-filtered Lucky Strikes under the name “420,” and claimed they were cannabis because each cigarette contained a hemp seed. What a gyp. Pernod has been around forever, and tastes exactly as a good absinthe should. To hell with Lucid.

Incidentally, Samantha went on a vacation to Prague with her brother and his wife last month. She was able to smuggle me back a bottle of Czech absinthe. I’ve mentioned before that Czech absinthe tastes horrible. I can only liken it to drinking Windex, but it definitely has the thujone kick. I’ve always preferred Spanish absinthe, but when you’re looking to get drunk, Old Milwaukee is better than water, right? I’d run out of absinthe during my first Ubermom rendezvous, so now my supply is restocked.

Crap that makes me wonder. . .

Number four on the "Top 25 Most Played" songs on my iPod is When Will I Be Loved, by Linda Ronstadt. Which is peculiar for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it's not on any of my playlists. Hell, I can't recall ever consciously playing that song, hearing it come on, or even downloading it for that matter. That adds to my paranoia a little . . . is my iPod sentient? Is somebody playing songs on it when I'm not around? Do I have split personalities? If so, both of them have been remiss on the blog lately, that's for sure. It's Thursday and I can't wait for Friday.