May I Trouble You for Another Cup of Kindness, Mr Burns?

NSAP293_EXTR

I cannot for the life of me determine how exactly I lost my grip during this past year. When did Jon begin to manage my own health care? How did I ever lose touch with certain relatives and close friends? When did my bald spot quadruple in area? Of course it is still not as severe as that endured by the anti-Christ?

I closed my eyes for a few minutes and months have passed. It seemed like I had just rid the fridge of Thanksgiving leftovers when I had to make room for the remains of Christmas. I will not even question the Universe if, after I post this humble post, I discover that it’s February once again.

New Year’s Eve was always the benchmark date on which we all scrutinize our habits, regrets, and relationships. “Have I wandered far from the career path that I had worked so hard to find?” A better question would be: How far have I strayed? “And do I have the time, energy, and gumption to pick-up my dreams where my excuses left off?”

I’ll encourage myself by denying both health and time, continuing to look ahead to many years with Jon and the pusses and the security of living in the Hinterlands.  I know that the brunt of any recovery and “return to wellness” is still ahead. My mind is often in denial about the pangs and curses of aging. My heart is on crutches. Yet, my 58-year old body believes (no, assumes) that my chassis only needs fine-tuning and lubrication. I play Russian Roulette with a cat’s nine lives. Nonetheless, I am too much of a starry-eyed type, a dreamer. The Golden Egg will hatch in the coming year.

All this talk of eggs and innuendo of Easter, reminds me to start planning a hunt for this spring. I am certain that adventures as well as obstacles are ahead of us. However, tonight’s midnight toast will be quite different. Sure, I’ll still bitch a bit about Mariah Carey’s breasts that, I swear, are still growing. “They’re still showing.” “They’re still going strong!”

Tonight, while our psyches flirt with mortality, Jon and I will indulge. We will seize a future that, in fact, may never be.

However, I best use my time wisely and plan the upcoming egg roll and hunt. I bet when I get in the Jeep on Monday morning (for a procedure at UNC), it will already be April and we’ll be joking about “Peeps”!

Best of Wishes for a healthy and happy 2015, my friends.

The photograph above shows the mammoth crowd at Times Square on New Year’s Eve, 1937. My various phobias ares excusing themselves from the room.

Advertisements

Iris! Violet! Mind Your Language!

123

While I may be fluent in Dahlia, Orchid, and Lobelia, I never studied Marigold or Petunia. One might say that I am polyfloral.

I can read Zinnia, but still falter in conversation.

My mother always wanted me to speak Advanced Nasturtium, but I heard that the instructor was as old as dirt.

A close friend loves, loves, loves Tulips and Columbine but shrieks and cowers when I say that she is bi-floral. Her shrill is like that of a Mandrake in July.

A past employee used to use Jonquil and Daffodil interchangeably, without exception. Yes, the two are indeed occasionally one and the very same slightly stooped yellow flower. However, more oft than naught, the two are of different photosynthetic lineage.

Jon and I strive to be non-judgmental, but I admittedly don’t care for those orange Lilies one sees by the interstate, especially in the Middle-Atlantic region. I grew up hearing them referred to as “Ditch Lilies”, but never so at home, school, or in the presence of genteel and polite company.

I believe their voice is spun in slang. In the Edwardian and floral milieu of “The Language of Flowers”, there is both a rank and a priority in membership.

“Yo, Bud! Wanna go for a stiff one at the Miracle-Gro Bar & Grill?”

Is a “Preface” Akin to Foreplay ?

b7ead774356177c3dd70e75cd5cfd5c2

I was reminded this afternoon of one of those new words. You know, they seem to introduce and blend two words to create a spanking brand new word. Or they evolve from an existing word. Or they isolate one function or feature of the nameless “thing” and change its part of speech, as in a verb to an adverb. Or they may just be be new words altogether.

I think you know what I mean. Obvious examples would be: web to webcast, network given the same “ing”, text, email, gold digger, grill, ginormous, ratchet, and rad, emo. Most of the words either begin their lives in slang and slowly grow in usage until one special day. That would be when the word is nonchalantly used within our proper subtext and admitted to the Merriam-Webster or the ever-reliable Oxford English Dictionary. The word then officially exists.

There are those words that defy proper grammar altogether and result in a new word with derivative definition. Those might be the ones that irritate Etymologists and English teachers alike: such as orientate, documentate, and that most irritating “message”. Message me when you finish reading this. That drives me crazy. Crazy, I tell you.

Obviously, the ones that breeze through orientation and rigorous trial periods are the least controversial, unless they are unusually long or challenging to pronounce. However, they have no baggage, no past, no embarrassing newsprint misprint. They are essentially lexical virgins. They are malleable and may become everyday or crucial words, thereby gaining esteem and status within the dictionary community.

You’re probably wondering what is the word that spiked my dander. Sapiosexual. It labels someone who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature. It’s true, it’s the word of the month and well on its path to global acceptance. “Oh, baby, baby. Let’s go to my place and make a paragraph!” How lovely it is when used as an adjective: a sapiosexual individual might squeeze the words “bandy” and “banal” into conversation on a first date.

I guess I might be a sapiosexual. Regretfully, it is likely indicative that my libido relocated to Antigua and I simply love to study words and R-E-A-D. I doubt it will ever be as popular in usage as “metrosexual”. The common Joe is thinking what in the Hell does “sapio” refer to? The same individual would, however, have an inkling as to what “metro” brings to the conversation. Ultimately, it became a proper, proud, productive prefix with privileges of membership. Sapiosexual.

As usual, I have dawdled, digressed, and dilly-dallied enough on this Friday evening. It’s time for a bit of coffee ice cream while I put today’s worries, fears, shakes, anger, and any negativity into a corrugated box. After securing it tightly, I like to put them somewhere that allows me to forget them completely. Between you and me: I can forget on demand or in the spontaneity of the moment. It’s second nature to my habit of tale-spinning.

Perhaps, I best get down to the day’s newsy priority and use that new word enough so that I can soon inject it into conversation or prose. I’d like to at least enjoy my sapiosexuality while the inclination still suits me. “Use it or lose it!” That’s what they say, right? Perhaps there’s a little green pill that will extend my memory up to four hours.

And please. If you and I should meet for coffee someday, avoid blurting out words like orientate or message me. Oh, there’s that chalkboard.

Oh, yeah. Proofreading is touted now as the writer’s version of safe sex.

Where, oh where is that clever Mr Bierce when we need him?

The Best of Tidings

This will indeed be the Christmas that I shall always remember. It has brought me what I have always yearned for but somehow allowed to fall from my anxious grasp. Requited hope has filled the shelves’ dusty nooks, the cracks in the long-settling walls, and a century of dents in the proud walnut floors. Marklewood is ablaze today with warm hearts, fiery imaginations, and the glisten of life’s luster throughout the house.

The pusses smile for they know that the past few years have been mere rehearsals that the Universe has allowed me, in my humble and decidedly half-assed efforts to “get it right”! My intent has certainly always been noble, well-meaning, and well-studied.

I harked to the words of the Daughters of Supposed Mercy as they proselytized in my grade school. My tears swelled at all the appropriately sentimental scenes of holiday movies. And I always paid close attention to those around me: their melancholies, fears, and anguish.

But only this very season, did the lesson hit home, capture my tormented heart, and make me at once a wide-eyed innocent. This time, I must’ve been paying closer attention, without even noticing the unfold of the Yule play.

True, I wanted that stereo when I was in the ninth grade … the one that technology soon made obsolete. Or that supple leather bomber jacket when I was in my twenties … that, seasons later, was beyond both fit and fashion. Or that vacation to Ireland that the anti-Christ gave me in 1991, just months before we ultimately split up and he went abroad with my once friend Roger.

Each Christmas has had its memories. There have always been poignant and reflective moments and, in most cases, engaging and satisfying feasts. Each year the cast changes a little, as have my expectations and demeanor. And we have always rejoiced, raised a glass in thanksgiving, and honored those who have moved on.

This year, however, Jon and I have felt first-hand the zealous twirls of Universal jubilation. He is healthy (yet with maladies) and again filled with promises for the future. I may very well be a fool, but I am neither a skeptic nor a disbeliever.

I know that Jon’s “return” is a gift of Providence, with assistance from the outdoor angel puss. The wrapping of frequent well-wishing, sometimes prayer, and “always love” made it the grandest present under this year’s humble tree. The cats purr today as if they knew all along.

This Christmas it was if my soul took firm grip of my body and, while shaking sense into my tired frame, at last opened my eyes. This is the best yuletide ever and, although it is already a memory, it will never be forgotten. I almost tremble with humility … as these truly are “tidings of comfort and joy!”

Lyrical and Listless

thelittleprince_BinLee

Ever since I was in middle school, I have entertained myself on the coldest of December evenings by tabulating my year-end list of favorite music tracks of that year. Tidily kept in a rarely-opened drawer, the tallies have, for the most part, required a degree of culling. For an obsessive music aficionado as myself, narrowing the number to even a hundred has been challenging.

In recent years, however, I have been hard-pressed to advance beyond any brainstorm. Rarely have there been more than a few dozen songs that “trip this trigger” of mine, albeit tarnished, yet not impaired. And this year, I dare say: I’d be hard-pressed to submit a paltry “top ten” … with either generosity of criteria or a bartender’s pour. For us music mavens of Marklewood, 2010 has been an exceedingly dismal year.

Some folks might offer that one’s interest in popular music and such silly private cataloguing might diminish with maturity. I assure you, however, that my passions have never subsided. I still follow new releases fervently, read “Billboard” regularly, and follow music trends throughout the world. Yet, as I sit and jot, only a few chart entries come to mind with little coaxing.

True, there have been some stellar offerings by Martina and the Diamonds, Chris Garneau, Antony & the Johnsons, among others. But overall, this year of music has left me uninspired and therefore “listless”. I have dutifully and enthusiastically maintained my tradition since 1968. This year, however, I may just as well leave that drawer undisturbed, with hopes for a better new year.

I have, however, found myself drifting away into the past worlds of AM radio, eight tracks, cassettes, and vinyl. Visuals from my life’s sound-tracking have kept me jotting, racing, smiling, and fumbling with my ipod, Leopold II. (Many of you may remember that I tend to name appliances, electronica, cars, and plants.)

After a few hours of sifting through memories, playlists, and the statistical data that is a by-product of obsessive cataloguing, I have come up with my boldest list yet: my ten favorite songs of the past half-century. I offer them now, in no particular order, if for any reason to prove a point. When Jon and I listen to music, he often hears me exclaim: “oh, that’s one of my favorites!” and replies with: “oh, you have thousands of favorite songs!”

“Sebastian” (Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel), “How it Ends” (DeVotchKa), “The Road to Hell” (Chris Rea), “Excerpt from a Teenage Opera” (Keith West). “Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John) … those are the easy choices. They are complex pastiches of layered melodies, vocals, and lyrics. They, my friends, arouse the aforementioned “trigger”.

There would certainly be a few dance tracks: “Nobody’s Supposed to be Here” (Deborah Cox), “Con te Partiro” (Donna Summer), and “Another Night” (Real McCoy). There have been myriad titles that, in a previous phase of life, might have made the cut but they have been sadly played to death either on my trusty walkman or on some classic FM station, back when radio stations were a more viable option. I need never hear “Bad Girls” or “I Will Survive” again. That phenomenon might explain my fondness for cover songs or at least my willingness to give them a listen.

The final two are Al Stewart’s “On the Border” and Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line”, usually not the hits that one mentions first when discussing those two artists. Their arrangements, however, are pop perfection and stray a bit from the norm at their time of recording.

True, there are no Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Timi Yuro, Electric Light Orchestra, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, or Fine Young Cannibals entries on this most miniscule of lists. I assure you that they each had at least one hit that hovers near the top, “bubbling under” as it were. In fact, I dare say there are several hundred that could be my “number eleven”. Unfortunately for my list, although fortunately for you, this has been an exercise on narrowing my wide expanse of “likes” to a few choice tunes … just to prove a point to myself and, perhaps, Jon.

I will though offer my fairly honorable and humble mention of those Fab Four musical moments, although I have been “Beatled” since puberty and have thus acquired a reluctant immunity. Paul’s “Another Day” and “Band on the Run”, John’s “#9 Dream”, Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy”, and George’s “What is Life?” … all of these 45’s rocked my adolescence and were retired from play, after months of maniacal overplay. Mary Hopkin, that virtuous and nubile Apple maiden, caught my fancy for the clever beat with her version of “Goodbye”, which I have yet to retire, some four decades since acquisition.

I appreciate your indulgence on this chilly wintry night. I know the perfect CD to soundtrack my moment and would be more than willing to serve as your late night deejay. Chances are you’d be surprised at the selections. Jon, though, would remind you that such an invitation should be extended with a warning. Perhaps that is why he, without fail, makes certain that I have the most up-to-date headsets. Some obsessions are best enjoyed alone.

(Image: “The Little Prince” by Bin Lee)

A Humble Umbel of Yearlong Magic & Unsent Scents

image
“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”
(A musing of Sir James M. Barrie, 1860-1937.)

Naturally, we often have to search quite a bit, as if we’re on a Scavenger Hunt of Decembers Past and a calendar all akimbo.
But the roses are indeed there. I have been assured by those who know. Even the towering antique white January blossoms are the new early bloomers.

And in the most recent of years, I have learned to both believe and cling to hope.

The Mid-Atlantic garden fairies have deemed the regal, royal, and fiercely headstrong Roses “year-round jewels”. They best dazzle the un-flinching gardener.

Marigold, Henry, and my beloved will greatly miss Rose Hip tea. They will, however, enjoy the magical horizon as they obsessively birdwatch: purple finches, waylaid cardinals, and an assortment of hovering hummingbirds.

It’s all about wonderment.

Yet I obsess une autre fois. “I beg your pardon …”

We refuse to be melancholy. Promises, promises.

Holiday Bow Jobs: Supplies Not Included

adannn

I worked with a young designer once who, although she was incredibly gifted in matters of both design and detail, was rather innocent, naïve, and occasionally dim. I say that lovingly, matter-of-factly, and without the slightest iota of measurable judgment, I assure you.

Normally I would disguise her name as to protect her anonymity and honor, as well as shield myself from her scorn and revenge, but her very name is so apt in this situation that I shall no longer take the risk. I shall simply and most-fictionally refer to her as Beauxette. You, dear reader, may wonder most privately as to what proper given name could be so appropriate and quick to incite a blush.

One day at the office, Beauxette was preparing a holiday flier announcing her availability for home decoration and fluffing, as well her fee schedule to which she would gleefully add her hourly rate:

$75 to create a custom wreath (excluding materials); 
$250 to decorate a Christmas tree, or similar plantlife (again, excluding materials); 
$50 to create holiday flourishes intertwined in a chandelier; 
and $100 to create a seasonal mantle vignette (yep, excluding materials). 
I think you get the picture, my friends. She offered a full-service holiday treatment for the home!

Needless to say, Beauxette knew her way around French ribbon and could tie an effulgent, gorgeous bow like no one I had ever or since met! Further, she adored Christmas and would certainly treat each assignment as if it were special and her only one … offering the job both uniqueness and full attention.

After completing her flier, she summoned me to proofread her rough draft, as I was the official grammarian at our firm. While she took a break, I corrected the few spelling errors, reformatted it a bit (perfectionisto that I am!), and started toying with various ideas for a better heading.

I had the naughtiest of epiphanies, if indeed there is such a mixed moment or sentiment. I typed in my fake title, with every intention of eventually returning to the project and creating a more suitable and tasteful banner! I printed several copies and placed them on my coworkers’ desks, squelched any laughter, and awaited Beauxette’s return. She indeed joined me a few minutes later, read the “final” product, and was delighted: 
”Beauxette’s Bow Jobs”

She looked at me blankly as I finally let loose in an uproar that only could emanate from one as naughty as I! Oh my God: I was going to have to explain it to her! Reluctantly, I did. She was embarrassed, not because of any vulgarity but instead because it went right over her blonde, well-coiffed head! She had no realization that she had fallen victim to (let’s say) the “aural” version of a trompe l’oeil moment.

Beauxette corrected the phrasing and we printed one hundred pristine tasteful copies of “Seasonal Stylings by Beauxette”.

She then hurriedly mailed them out, anticipating a flurry of responses, yet her efforts only yielded one such Christmas project. At least, it was for a full house of decorations, involving myriad rolls of festive ribbon and what must’ve been a mile of juniper garland. Beauxette did, however, share with me her reluctant irony in this matter. When she was finished, and her client was writing her a substantial check, she noticed her flier on the counter. As she approached it, she soon realized it was one of the original “gag” ones I had prepared. Neither she nor the client ever mentioned anything to each other about this most glaring of “errors”. She simply got in her car and came back to the office.

I, of course, was mortified: filled with mental images of humiliation, embarrassment, and tawdry discourse! Fortunately all was averted.

It seems as though Beauxette’s client was also innocent, naïve, and dim. In this case, I remark thus not-so-lovingly and perhaps indeed with a modicum of seasonal judgment!

“Beauxette’s Bow Jobs”. We all still smile about it, except for Beauxette of course. Then again, she was never fond of innuendo!

I think of my coworker often. That is especially true whenever I finish preparing a gift, with a particularly spectacular bow, with all its perfect and dramatic flourishes.

Don’t even go there, my friends! Don’t even look for the key to that filing cabinet!

(Image: “Red Ribbon” by David Stoupakis, 2006.)

Found Under the Bedroom Sofa

gorowski_mieczyslaw_gombrowicz_b

Henry laughs cautiously. He is well aware that the sofa upstairs resembles this one: with its splitting upholstery, novel arms, and both its ease and emotional comforting. We cherish the quirky arms and the cloaking coverlet. The weathered now-imperfections, at best, just peek.

Maybe it’s the excessive textile and subtle flourishes that surround us. I’m on a Fortuny kick, especially in violet or cornhusker blue. There is surely no yard sale grand enough.

Henry and I best ponder chandelier medallions, placement of fur throws … just far enough out of reach from Hermione and Claudja. Yet, close enough to warm two liberated souls.

And yes. We now know how awkward it is to search under the tensed underbelly of a moist and well-lit bed. And how mysteriously intriguing and transcendent it is! Perhaps under the glisten and twinkle of a singed and wax-enrobed Dresden candelier, my train of thought beckons, albeit with a lone candle.

My refurbishing fancies this week are:

Ooops, a hand-tie keeps unraveling and springing a pop in my late and sordid Tuesday tea-time imagination.

Comfort calls.

(Image: For the Poster for the Exhibition “Gombrowicz at the Theater” by Mieczysław Gorowski, Sandomierz, Poland, 1986.)

Sock it to Me!

IMG_5089

When I was a young boy, my Great Aunt Ruth always gave us extremely well-planned Christmas gifts. She was thoughtful, extravagant, and knew how to combine whimsy with practicality. Except with my father.

She gave him a box of socks from Garfinkel’s every year, until the resounding pangs of marital dissolution echoed throughout our house. His holiday was no longer her concern.

I was just thinking, as I gazed out the sunroom window and into the darkness: the gift of hosiery actually sounds very nice.

Hear that, Henry?

De-Winging the Modern Fairy Stereotype

Over the past few days, the topic of fairies has worked its way into otherwise mundane conversation several times. The first instance was when comparing tales of kindergarten angst with a childhood friend. The second time was in an impassioned discussion of conceptional fairies in 19th century Academic Art, or some such falderal. That got me thinkin’!

The mind indeed can be a terrible road on which to navigate. I tend to dawdle, explore, and altogether lose sight of my destination. If my thoughts really do race, they do so along a strip of antique shops. That should be: antique shops, flagged with bright “Going Out of Business” signs.

As it happens, I started exploring the on-line portfolios of several artists that are known for their depictions of fairies and their counter-ilk. I spent literally hours exploring: Warwick Goble, Edmund Dulac, Dorothy Lathrop, Ernest Kreidolf, Frances Sterritt, Hans C. Andersen; and

Arthur Rackham, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, Sir J.M. Barrie, Margaret Tarrant, J.R.R. Tolkien, Rene Cloke, and those Doyle men. Charles Altamont Doyle, his brother Richard, his father John, and his son Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were all known for their painterly studies of such winged and enchanted spirits.

I do not claim to be an expert in any manner on the topic of Victorian Fairies and their aficionados. I still cannot help but think fairy-dom was a bit manlier in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s than they are today. Enchantment and fantasy were still strong positive words, neither the lexiconic pariah nor invitation to chuckle.

I put the entire blame on entirely on Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973), the wildly successful illustrator from Croydon, Surrey, UK. At age 23, she submitted a book of fairy drawings that became the basis for a large scale postcard launch. Its rapid success led to books and more books and even more books, in which Barker was touted as the Fairy Maven.

Barker’s fairies were, if anything, formulaic and unfaltering. They were slightly pudgy (or if you prefer, cherubic) prepubescent girls with hats of inverted flower blossoms. While a few might’ve been boys, they were probably intended to be androgynous.

The internet is now teeming with Miss Barker’s fairies, if bookstores were not enough of a saturation point. She has single-handedly spoiled fairies for the rest of us from now until the totally unforeseeable future.

I contend that not all fairies are cute, pert girls with opalescent wings and a phallic wand. There are probably some that are grumpy, slovenly, and soul-less spirits with addictive personalities. Unfortunately, the fairy closet appears to be rather crowded.

Well, I believe in fairies. Of all types. Except for cutesy Edwardian stereotypical ones. Seriously.

Tonight, I salute the Doyle family and their descendants.

Thursday’s Over-Thought, Out of Body, and In-Check Moments

tenggrenpinocchio5
I have watched one too many episodes of either “The Walking Dead” or “American Horror Story”, or perhaps both. This afternoon I found myself in yet another desensitized posture when I stumbled upon this image. The realization was horrific.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the shadows of the supporting cast of marionettes and I at once thought: “Oh my God. Those poor, poor under-appreciated spawns of puppetry have taken their own lives!” Yes, I admit that my imagination immediately crossed over to its dark side. Could it be a not-so-jolly band of Disney characters committing suicide within the framework of animation’s emotional squalor?

Of course, I felt no remorse or embarrassment, even though Henry did give me a stare-down afterwards. The gross overexposure of those Disney-driven Menken-Ashman-Rice musicals have even left me with neither compassion nor empathy for those silly, yet tragic protagonists, Mrs Jumbo and Bambi.

I’ll give Dumbo’s mother credit. She came to her son’s defense when he was the victim of bullying. Unfortunately, she was shortly thereafter committed to a psychiatric ward. I believe she was Bi-Polar or maybe just teetering on the edge of a psychotic break. In any case, she was sadly misdiagnosed.

Oh my. There is an eerie foreshadowing here of a Disney comedy in the making. If only that Irish Absurdist Post-Modernist and French-draughting writer Samuel Beckett were alive today!

(Image: Pinocchio” by Gustav Tenggren, for Disney Studios, 1940.)

Blaming Linus and Cindy Lou Who

pica_a_raga_275x235
I refuse to believe that Christmas is only two weeks away.

It seems that it was only yesterday that my sister and I were watching holiday TV specials such as “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” and “The Grinch”. And then POOF. The 60’s just up and disappeared without so much as an AM radio Public Service Announcement.

Admittedly, those shows frightened me quite a bit. There might even have been some emotional scarring and peripheral psychological trauma. That statement was a dozen years of therapy in the making.

A few years later, Polly and I rarely shared television interests. And then my life changed. I discovered the rascally and iconic California Raisins and realized that they were indeed the spawn of Satan. They even had that crazed look in their eyes.

And then there was Anita Bryant. Cindy Lou was just the Who “without a clue”!

The Merit of Flouncy Capri Pants and Blouson Wraps

3815663813_6a728817ce_z

On a December night when the air is cool, it is easy to scoff at such a costume. Its sheer, negligee-like qualities should make it in the exclusive domain of International Male.

The mail order retailer was always known for provocative and erotic catalogue “shots”, as well as skimpy over-designed underwear. Puffy shirt sleeves, lace up pants, cupped crotch pieces, and the men’s version of a MuuMuu have always been the staple of their inventory.

Mind you, the word “men’s” is in no way automatically indicative of manliness. Nor would such fashion be the choice of lumberjacks, construction workers, and other Village People wannabes. International Male caters to the slim, the smooth, and the fey.

Wearing size 34 trousers for almost my entire adult life, I was always too tall, too “robust”, and too inhibited to place an order. Over the years, however, I have encountered “barely passable” men’s clothing that screams any suggestion of a figure skater or some other stereotype of the very model of a modern homosexual. A sotto voce does very little to off-set or compensate for such a transgression against the masculine norm. What is the norm anyway?

Admittedly, I chuckled a bit when I first eyed the costume sketches rendered by Mr Cadmus. I’d probably be too self conscious to even sport the look when behind closed and locked doors … and alone in the privacy of my home.

Yet, at age 58, I have traveled quite a bit. I spent eleven Summers in Washington, DC with its oppressive Potomac steam. Two Summers in New York; one in Florida; and one in St Louis, another urban sauna. Yes, I remember enduring the unrelenting swelter and the “near pacts with the Devil” many of us use to barter with the Universe for air conditioning or mid-July snowfall.

In such a situation, these diaphanous and flouncy outfits might actually provide adequate and breathable airflow. Of course, I’d need to wear undergarments and not my customary boxer-briefs. The skimpy thongs with cut-outs on the front would surely be available through International Male.  I might order a festive tropical patterned muumuu as a cover-up.

Then again, that would defeat the purpose and address my insanity. Forgive me, the Seventies are calling.

(Image: Costume Design, “Filling Station” Ballet, rendered by Paul Cadmus, 1937.)

Féderyc & Gaiallard’s Medieval Bestiary & Gothic Petting Zoo

Those zany showmen have once again assembled their “best of show” of miscellaneous and assorted Medieval images of creatures … wild, domestic, imaginary, real, monstrous, and mythological.

As their ruffled buddy Yorick would readily offer: such an album at once renders obsolete the arduous and expensive efforts of the former traveling zoologica.

Féderyc, Gaiallard, and Yorick, accompanied by Tartuffe on lyre and Leopold on mandolin, have now taken their minstrel show on the road. Maiden mollies Eve and Hermione poise themselves as the requisite groupies. Michael Bolton and the grossly under-exposed Taylor Swift will join the spring and summer tours.

Opening for the duo will be a traveling “Medieval Idol” hosted by Betty White.

Look for them soon in a village near you.

Now I’ve got, as Jon would say, a hankering’ for some seasonal grog or nog.