Random Randomness, 2/26/2015

He’s Dead, Jim: Well, not so much. Yes, it’s been over a month since my last installment, but I’ve been busy with other random things. On a related note, internet luminary Andrew Sullivan shuttered his influential blog, The Dish, a couple of weeks ago. In the wake of that announcement, some people are grumbling that blogging has been rendered altogether irrelevant by pithier social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Beyond 150 words characters and/or a cute puppy, readers lose interest. Sullivan, however, is moving in a different direction:  “I want to have an idea and let it slowly take shape,” he said, “rather than be instantly blogged.”

So suit. Such bespoke.

Bespoke: Made to fit a particular person or producing clothes that are made to fit a particular person. This seems to be the Word of the Month, due in part to the premiere of Kingsman: The Secret Service, a slam-bang actioner about well-manicured British spies, in which bespoke suits play a prominent role. I can’t count the number of times in the last few weeks I’ve encountered a reference to bespoke something. Turning to cable TV, I randomly tuned in an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s foodie travel show, “The Layover,” and there was Tony, in London, getting fitted for a $1500 pair of bespoke shoes.


I’m convinced the U.S. media just now learned this is a word and are reveling in the way it spins trippingly from the tongue as it grants the speaker an aura of cultured sophistication unknown on this continent since “OshKosh B’Gosh.” Bespoke, bespoke, bespoke…

I actually have some personal experience with bespoke suits, having ordered a couple from a local tailor while I was stationed in Korea during the ’90s. They take all your measurements, you choose the fabrics, they put it together, and you finish up with a round of alterations to ensure a perfect fit. Best suits I ever owned, and a bargain in Korea, if you should happen to travel there.

"Feed me."
“Feed me.”

I Sense Your Interest is Flagging: Time for a cute puppy photo. His eyes shall penetrate the darkest abyss of your soul and illuminate it with all that is furry and good.

Traveling to Indiana, So You Don’t Have To: I was away at lovely Camp Atterbury, Indiana, last month for a heaping helping of military exercise support. Things went well, and the harshest weather passed us by, so I can’t complain. The austere farm country south of Indianapolis has a certain charm, I suppose, but it mostly facilitated focusing on work. Has Anthony Bourdain ever layovered in Indiana? Hmm. I don’t think so.

The Latest Spiritual Crisis: Yoga pants. Great googly-moogly, people, have we nothing more important to worry about?

Prêt-à-Porter: Ready-to-wear, off-the-rack, off-the-peg. Yoga pants, for example. Not bespoke.

classicaliceThe Year of Living Classically: There are corners of the odorous sausage factory that is You Tube in which some very clever and creative things are happening. Classic Alice is a fun little comedy series about the misadventures of college student Alice Rackham, diligent English major and aspiring author. When one of her essays is returned with a B-minus (!) and a note that her writing is flat and lacks human feeling, Alice and her film-school pal Andrew cook up a plan to help Alice get some life experience to amp up her writing and help Andrew finish his senior documentary project. Alice will select works of classic literature that she hasn’t yet read (beginning with Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment) and live according to their plot while Andrew captures the whole experience on video. Of course, nothing goes according to plan, and Alice learns more life lessons than she ever expected. It all happens in 5-minute bites, plus or minus. Here’s a link to all the episodes thus far.

Ceres, with mysterious bright spots.

Space Trifecta: ESA Rosetta, NASA Dawn, and NASA New Horizons are sending back some great photos of Comet 67P, asteroid Ceres, and planet (yes, planet—so sue me) Pluto. They’re just getting started, but the pictures have already provided many surprises, and I think it’s a good thing indeed for our talented scientific community to have their theoretical expectations muddied by a shot of ground truth every so often. Science begins with asking questions, and when you think you’ve got all the answers in a nice, tidy little box, all the questions stop, and so does the science.

Hmm. That also applies to faith, now that I think about it.

Dynasty: A clothier in Itaewon, Seoul, Republic of Korea, specializing in bespoke men’s and women’s wear. I always wondered where Charlie Rangel got those fabulous suits.

Makes a Hard Man Humble: I’m playing chess again, an activity that, like golf, I enjoy greatly until I have a no-good, very-bad day and give it up for a few years, wondering what ever possessed me to think I could be anything but an embarassment to myself. I’m trying to keep my expectations in, er, check this time and plan to play simply for the joy of the game, no matter if my rating descends to a level where the only opponents I can get are senior citizens in Azerbaijan looking for a good laugh. If you want a friendly game, I hang out on Chess.com as ksflw.

3 thoughts on “Random Randomness, 2/26/2015

  1. I don’t enjoy chess any more. I used to love it as a kid, but you get to a certain point and you realize something like 75% of it is memorization and foresight. So if you want to improve to be beyond 1100-1200 ELO, it’s less about playing and more about changing yourself, I think. Like playing basketball for fun, and realizing the amount of effort needed to even be good in a decent-sized league. It’s a game for computers, not people now.

    The yoga pants thing, I don’t bother. It’s just no-win. So many things these days are just no-win to even raise as us guys. I don’t know how you married guys do it.

    1. I’m approaching the chess as more of a mental exercise, and I’m finding it useful for things like pattern recognition, spatial visualization and planning, plus the memorization and foresight you mentioned. I also do crosswords and pencil/paper puzzles. Having reached a certain age, I want to keep the mental clockwork moving as much as possible.

      I try to leave the topic of womenswear to the women, who seem perfectly content and inclined to police the whole thing themselves with relentless peer pressure and don’t appreciate men offering any opinion pro or con. Our local uniform seems to be hoodies, jeans, and flip-flops.

      Being married, I can compliment my wife’s yoga pants, or whatever she happens to be looking beautiful in, and in that context it’s easier since I’m taking pleasure in the one I’m meant to enjoy and boosting her self-esteem in the process. My boundaries are pretty clear. For singles, I think it’s harder to find a safe definition of admiration with respect, particularly in an environment when even a passing glance can be misinterpreted.

  2. I’ve always appreciated chess; I was even in a club in high school. But I’m absolutely terrible at it. I always start matches by saying: “It’s your lucky day, you’re about to win!” The problem is my mother and I have no sense of spatial reasoning whatsoever, so while I know the forms and can play a good opening, I eventually lose sight of some important piece I need, and it goes down hill from there.

    That’s why I’ve always appreciated Poe’s takedown of chess as a sign of intelligence in his landmark “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” story. In his mind, cards are the true sign of a genius: “Whist has long been noted for its influence upon what is termed the calculating power; and men of the highest order of intellect have been known to take an apparently unaccountable delight in it, while eschewing chess as frivolous. Beyond doubt there is nothing of a similar nature so greatly tasking the faculty of analysis. The best chess-player in Christendom may be little more than the best player of chess; but proficiency in whist implies capacity for success in all those more important undertakings where mind struggles with mind.”

    Now if only I knew how to play whist, I’d really show people. 🙂

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