Thursday, October 23, 2008

Two more beers and other news

On Thanksgiving Nick and I brewed a Belgian Golden Strong, a style you may have seen in the store as "Fin Du Monde" or "Delerium Tremens" or "Duvel"  And clocks in at 8% + alcohol.  The other one we made was an Imperial India Pale Ale, a style developed in the US which has an awful lot of hops in it.  It was our way of celebrating the hop harvest and having five pounds in the freezer at once, a pound of which all went into one batch of beer.  Fabulous.  It smells great.

The other news is that the principal of the school where Jenn had so many problems last year is no longer the principal of that or any school, a change that occurred in the middle of October, no less, which seems to me to be an indication that there were some serious problems with her, probably from many sides.  Jenn just figures that her victory is complete.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Scoring one for the good guys:

Ok... remember back a few years, and the latest greatest thing to come from LucasArts was "X-Wing" which put you in the seat of the fighter spacecraft of the Rebel Alliance?  That was fun and all, but a couple of years later, a much more fun game came out... similar in most ways, similar but improved controls and graphics... but instead, for the first time in franchise history, you were on the side of the Evil Empire.  It felt good.  Oh, the evil.  Bringing order to chaos, imposing your will on radical elements and pacifying cultures through force, just like the Republican Party.

Well, lets just say it can be fun to be the bad guy.  

Which is why I feel odd having just plonked down hard earned cash for that most counter-cultural of desktop computers.  Yes, folks, I am now a Mac User.  For the above-noted evil-empire-type reasons, I have been a PC user for many years, but now that I am married, I no longer get my way, and I am instead forced to embrace the attitudes and OS preferences of my beloved.  And here it is.  I have bought into the Rebel Alliance of computers.

How is it?

Not bad.

Although the selection of game titles is thin.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Yesterday I picked up my new (to me) suit and sport coat from the tiny Vietnamese tailor with foot thick glasses.  The suit isn't anything special, Arnold Brandt, a made in Canada number, not outsourced, grey, with pick-stitching on the lapels, which the tailor was good enough to do the cuffs on... a suit that at Harry Rosen would have listed about $800 or up.

He wouldn't stop raving about my sport-coat, though.  "You no a tailor, so you don't know about these things, but I see inside!  That very good.  You buy good like that and you wear 10 Year!"

Oh, who made the sport coat?  Samuelshon.  Rack price, $999.00.  Picked it up for around $130.00.  

I am so going back to that store.

The other thing is that they have a selection of formalwear that they blow out really really cheap.  Good tuxes for $100-$150, which means that it would be cheaper to buy one than to rent, which means that I am on her "look for this for me" list.

I went over all this with the owner just after my purchases and after mentioning that I only wear vintage cufflinks.  She walks me back to the formalwear section, and takes a look in my size and says, "There's nothing here that you would want.  You want a shawl collar with satin facings, right?"  

Okay, first, yes.  Second, am I really that easy, was it the vintage cufflink thing?  Third, is it odd that a man barely in his thirties who is currently sitting around in a t-shirt that says "Drunken Lazy Bastard" in block letters across the back has an opinion about this?

Yeah, I'm going back there, but I promise, only for ties right now.  (ties you can't even buy in Canada, $12.00)

Oh dear... My spending money budget is going to go out the window.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The new black

Bonus time has come and gone, new appliances s have been purchased, and the subject of a soon-to-come post has been expensively embraced by the family. It has come time for Owen to consider the fact that since beginning his law practice five years ago, he has not been able to afford a new suit.

"But Owen", you say, "surely a successful Barrister such as yourself can afford to buy any number of quality work-related garments! And anyway, you took two years off to "find yourself" and "get married" and "get a Masters" and "Goof Off"".

Fair enough. There have been some new shirts ($1.00 each at a charity sale), shoes (Florshiem Half-Brogues in Black, and a re-soling of my Florshiem Oxfords - leaving me with enough dress shoes to last me for years), barrister's waistcoat (Firm paid), an overcoat (Navy, good wool, no cashmere, on sale at the Bay on Boxing Day) some ties (gifts) and gold vintage Tiffany and Heirloom Cloisonne cuff links (also gifts, and ones I cherish).

My suits, however, have seen better days.

The cuffs on the pants, for example, are starting to go. Also, when I bought my suits, I was about 35 pounds heavier, and it shows in the cut. Even with the pants taken in once, they don't fit well, and I look like I am wearing my big brother's clothes. Even my best dress shits, and my only french cuffs, are wearing out.

I could, you know, go out and buy a suit at any time for cheap. Hell, Moores sells them for $139.00 four times a year. The problem with a cheap suit, and I have owned cheap suits, is that they make you Feel cheap. Further, the website describes the availability of "High Performance" suit fabrics. I am loath to buy a suit at a store that will be willing to sell me a suit in ripstop nylon or red and yellow sharkskin corduroy. The problem I have is one of being spoiled for life. It happened like this:

For years, I remember my dad coming home from work in his uniform. Unlike some of the dads in the neighborhood (I lived near an army base) his uniform was one of a starkly conservative dark business suit with a solid coloured shirt, barrel cuffs, point collars, well-shined shoes (I remember watching him sit with his shoe shine box, polishing his shoes, it stuck with me...) latterly the suits were Samuelsohn, whose off-brand - Cambridge - I wear now. (If I wanted to buy Samuelsohn today, I would be looking at $1800.00, which I can't really afford at this point) The only nod to his up-from-the-ranks background at the company was the only briefcase I have ever known him to carry, a brown plastic Samsonite, engraved as a presentation piece, and of such obvious and crippling sentimental value that carrying it in the latter stages of his career could only have been described as eccentric.

We all turn into our fathers, I suppose. I remember as a young teenager my dad explaining why he would spend that kind of money for a suit, "You only have to buy it once." Little did I know that this was true in more ways than one. Not only are good suits durable in the extreme, but they are as addictive as cigarettes (the other part of my dad's uniform, being a pack of Craven "A" King Sized). Once you wear a good suit, the idea that it is uncomfortable or awkward to wear a suit and tie is forever abolished, and you will generally refuse to wear a suit that does not conform to your newly raised standards.

He still wears Sameulsohn, my dad, creature of habit that he is. A sport coat on sale at Ed Williams in Calgary that feels wonderful, and will last another 20 years. I think back to my dad's unused suits and regret that we no longer wear the same size as one another, as we did for a brief period in 1993.

When I graduated from law school in 2003, I scammed a line of credit from my bank, "I'm starting my first job out of law school in two weeks and I need walking around money". Little did they realize what an articling student is paid. Flush with good credit, I lashed out for a car (black) Johnson & Murphey shoes to complement my Florshiems, and two Cambridge brand suits. One Charcoal worsted, and one summer-weight pale grey. I have never spent so much money on clothes in one day before or since. Not even in most years. I was hooked from that day forward.

And now, here I am, married, homeowner, piled with responsibility, with little hope of satisfying the desire I have (some would say conformist snobbery, but I reserve that label for those wearing Prada and D&G, conservative business attire is hardly conformist these days) for fine woolen goods. There is a ray of hope, though. I have just discovered on the internet a store, four blocks from my office, that sells, "gently used" men's designer suits. Armani, Zenga, (Yawn) Hugo Boss... and down at the bottom of the page, "Samuelsohn".

It could be worse, a pack a day of cigarettes is still a two-Samuelsohn-a-year equivalent.