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Eastland Suede Bucks

Faithful readers of this blog (Luke), and I guess anyone who knows me, will know that I have a weakness for preppy clothes. Which is why I recently decided to buy a pair of suede bucks like the kind I used to wear in high school. It was a prep school, yes, and we had to wear uniforms: blazers and khaki or grey slacks, with a shirt and tie every day.  As for footwear, what I wore most of the time were Bass Bucks, a suede "Oxford" type shoe -- it came in tan and green (I always went with tan) -- with an orange sole that had the consistency of a pencil eraser and wore down at about the same rate. They no longer make this shoe anymore in the same way. G.H Bass & Co. still in fact makes Bucks, but they are now called Pasadena Bucks and the soles are made of some kind of much more durable material; this was probably a smart decision, business-wise, but the fact is it's a different shoe now. Apparently you can only buy original style Bass Bucks used on Ebay. I will buy a lot
Recent posts

Coffee Review: Folgers Gourmet Supreme

"The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup."    Coffee culture has evolved a lot since I've been on the earth. I came of coffee-drinking age in the early 90s, right during the Starbucks Era. Perhaps more influential than actual Starbucks coffee, which I didn't even drink because we didn't have one in our town, was coffee shop culture itself, which blossomed in the 90s -- I have to think -- directly because of Starbucks. There have surely been books written about this... Fast-forward to this bizarre and still-as-yet-hopeful Year of Our Lord 2021 in which Starbucks is now passe and coffee shop culture is over, not just because of COVID but because of laptops, smartphones, and the fact that people don't talk to strangers in public places anymore. Coffee shop culture is also dead because, even at your average grocery store chain (to say nothing of Whole Foods, or Fresh Market) you can find a selection of coffees and teas of such depth and variety as to par

Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I am almost ashamed to admit that it's taken me this long to read Love in the Time of Cholera , by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I'm really not sure why, either, since Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold is one of my favorite books. Part of it might have been the dreaded "literary intimidation" of steering clear of a book with a haughty title or a great reputation because you fear some grad school type slog which, in the end, will only leave you feeling like a lunkheaded ingrate three months later when you finally finish the book and have no idea what you read or why it's so well-respected. Nothing could be further from the case with Love in the Time of Cholera . Turns out it's a highly accessible, funny, romantic and yet oddly realistic story about a love affair that spans more than half a century. It is not one of those well-written books in which nothing happens, nor is it some kind of high-minded, intellec

New Yorker Fiction Review #266: "Our Lady of the Quarry" by Mariana Enriquez

Review of the short story from the Dec. 21, 2020 issue of The New Yorker... For about a month over the holidays I wasn't getting my New Yorkers in the mail. Hence, why I'm a little behind here. But, on the other hand, given that I've been months or even years behind before -- and missed dozens of issues here an there over the years -- what does it actually matter? The point is... "Our Lady of the Quarry," a darkly nostalgic story about a group of Argentine girls who become obsessed with their leader and idol, Silvia, who is older, wiser, more worldly and hence cooler -- if not necessarily better looking -- until Silvia draws the attention of the guy all that the group of girls is all unanimously crushing on: Diego.  There was nothing ground-breakingly new or devastatingly brilliant about this story. It was, however, a sort of voyeuristic departure back into a world that I -- and most of us -- have long since abandoned and forgotten: the frustrating world of teenag

Bullet Chess

Like just about everyone else in the world, I have turned (actually re-turned) to the game of chess this winter, partly in the wake of the popularity of The Queen's Gambit , but also just because it's winter, it's COVID, and it was bound to happen eventually. I go through a chess phase about every two years. I play on the Chess.com app, which allows you to play millions of players from around the world, and to play games in which you get anywhere from seven days to one minute to make moves. I used to favor the games in which you get 24-hours to make your move. But bullet chess is my latest obsession. Basically, bullet chess games are lighting fast matches in which you get one (1) minute to make your moves. No, not one minute to make each move, but one minute to make all your moves. As in, you start with the clock at 1:00, and then, if it takes you 10 seconds to make your first move, you have only 0:50 seconds to work with after that. It is the game of chess compressed and

New Yorker Fiction Review #265: "Dietrologia" by Paul Theroux

Review of the short story from the Dec. 7, 2020 issue of The New Yorker... Paul Theroux -- American travel writer and novelist, author of The Mosquito Coast , among many other works -- used to write about traveling, adventuring, and romancing in far-flung locations. Now he's writing about kindly old men sitting on their porches, telling stories to the neighborhood children. Time catches up with us all.  In "Dietrologia," an old Italian man living in Hawaii, Sal Frezzolini, sits and talks to a group of local kids who live in his neighborhood, discussing with them various episodes from his life that he struggles to understand. The kids don't really, fully understand either, but for a different reason: they're kids. They mostly marvel at how old Sal is and await the chance to get cookies from his cookie jar. Meanwhile, Sal is at conflict with his wife about the fact they must soon relocate into a smaller home, more suitable to people in their waning years.  Not exact

New Yorker Fiction Review #264: "The Winged Thing" by Patricia Lockwood

Review of the short story from the Nov. 30, 2020 issue of The New Yorker... I feel like like I ought to be familiar with Patricia Lockwood, but I'm not. After about 30 seconds of Wikipedia research (literally performed between writing that last sentence and this one) I see that she's under 40, from Indiana (my second home, so extra points there), and has at least five books under her belt.  From the 30 minutes I spent reading her short story "The Winged Thing," I get a bit of a Lorrie Moore feel: funny, snarky, jaded, but in the end tender-hearted and ultimately hopeful. I'm sure that revisionist description of Lorrie Moore's oeuvre would manage to make a true Lorrie Moore fan want to puke. But, I'm doing my best. My point is, "The Winged Thing" is the story of a real human crisis shot-through with dark humor and some not-inconsiderable snark, but behind (almost) every jaded snarkster is, in my opinion, someone who has been hurt or had their own