September 2007 Archives

From a Times of London article on the most expensive homes in London:

Several owners are apparently competing to build a 4-metre-deep pool - double the maximum depth so far in the capital. One home in north London even has a bespoke chute covered in a special slippery paint, which enables the owner, who loves swimming first thing in the morning, but hates the fuss of dressing, to step out of bed and slide straight into the water a couple of storeys below.

For my American readers, I should note that "bespoke" means "custom-made." The word is needed to emphasize that this is not one  of the ordinary, garden-variety chutes-covered-in-slippery-paint that you can find in every flat in London. No, this is a bespoke one.

When you work for somebody for six years--especially somebody with a strongly defined public persona--it's natural that they should linger in your memory. So maybe I'm just imagining it, but...

Does anybody else think that Robert Downey, Jr's performance in the upcoming Iron Man movie bears an uncanny resemblance to Dennis Miller? Watch the trailer and tell me if you think I'm nuts.

My God, What A Beard

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I've recently been reading Heroes, by Lucy Hughes-Hallet. If you asked Ms. Hughes-Hallet what she most wants readers to take away from the book, I imagine she'd say "An understanding of the power and danger of hero worship."

What I've taken away from the book, though, is an understanding of the power of beards. Or, actually, of one beard in particular: the beard of El Cid. Here's what Hughes-Hallett has to say about it:

The historians of the eleventh century were frustratingly uninterested in physical description, so we know little of what [El Cid] looked like, but from the poets we learn one thing: that he had a marvelous beard. According to the Poema de Mio Cid the king, on meeting with him after a long separation, could not take his eyes off the torrent of hair flowing down his chest. This wonderful growth is indicative of the Cid's manly vigor, his mature sagacity, his sexual potency, and his status as one on whom fortune always smiled. When he parleys with his enemies his awe-inspiring beard is cunningly plaited and knotted and sheathed in a sort of snood to save him from the intolerable insult of a tweaking. But when he rides out to war, then his beard is displayed in all its astonishing splendor, advertising that, being as lionhearted as he is lion-chinned, he is and will remain invincible. "Oh God!" exclaims the poet. "See what a beard he had!"

After reading this, I told Lauren that my goal was to grow a beard like El Cid. I, too, wanted a growth of facial hair that would move poets to invoke the name of God. Normally when I express this sort of ambition, Lauren just nods poiltely and says, "Whatever you want, dear." This time, she looked too nervous to call my bluff. I think she knew I was serious.

Lauren, you may now relax. The other day in the Tube, I saw this man (or perhaps one of his fellow World Beard and Moustache Championship competitors), and I realized what I was up against.


In the days of El Cid, competing in the international beard arena required nothing more than sheer manliness, which of course I possess in spades. But modern advances in beard-shaping technology leave no room for the manly amateur. I therefore cede the field of facial hair combat, and henceforth, shall focus on more attainable goals, such as conquering Spain on horseback.

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