Bolos

I have always enjoyed bolo ties, and have frequently defended them as an accoutrement worthy of a Gentleman Adventurer. But a recent Google search made me realize just how out of the mainstream that may put me. As you can see from the screenshot below, Google apparently considers Bolo Ties to be slightly less popular than Bolo Yeung, whom you may recognize as the Buff Chinese Guy from… well, any movie in the 70s or 80s that featured a buff Chinese guy.

Google prefers Yeung to ties.

Now I have always appreciated Mr. Yeung’s work in Enter the Dragon, Bloodsport, and his other motion pictures, and I mean him no disrespect, but are my Western-style string ties really that far removed from being relevant or popular? I see snap-front Western shirts, cowboy boots, and hats everywhere these days, so why not my beloved bolo?

Gents, I say it’s high time we bring bolos back. Wear yours with pride. And while you’re add it, go watch Bloodsport again. That movie kicks ass.

The author at a film premiere, sporting a bolo tie from his personal collection.

The Strangest Day of My Life (My Birthday, Friday the 13th)

The strangest day of my life occurred exactly eleven years ago today, on my birthday, Friday the 13th of July, 2001. The day began in Malanville, Benin, a small, dusty West African border town, and ended when my traveling companion and I declined an offer from door-to-door hookers at the Hotel Moustache in Niamey, the capital city of Niger on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and went to sleep.

I think of this now, because this morning my dear friend, fellow Gent, and aforementioned traveling companion, Col. Andrew S. Trimlett wrote to wish me a happy birthday, and reminded me that it is once again Friday the 13th, and my birthday, and that the day could get weird. I’ve told the story of that day often, but this is the first time I’ve put it down in print.

Andy and I spent the month of July in 2001 traveling around West Africa by bus and bush taxi. The trip was Andy’s idea and something of a lark. He had developed an interest in the region in a class he took at San Diego State. I loved the music. Benin is the birthplace of Vodou. Fun, right? That was pretty much our decision making process. We booked roundtrip tickets to Cotonou, Benin, and developed a vague plan of making a circuit through Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, and then back to Benin. Then, after a week of travel, we decided to add Niamey, Niger onto our itinerary, because… well, I’m not sure why. Because nobody we knew had been there, and it was on the Niger River on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and here we were, so why the hell not?

Which is why we found ourselves in Malanville, the border post between Benin and Niger on the morning of my twenty-third birthday. I knew it was Friday the 13th, and I’ve always been a magnet for strangeness, so I warned Andy: “This day might get weird.”

(more…)

We’re going to be in Pictures


48 Hour Filmmaker: San Diego 2012

That’s right – the LGA is fielding a team for the San Diego 48 Hour Film Project.  I’ll be directing, and my esteemed colleagues, Col. Andrew S. Trimlett and Mr. Justin D. Lieberknecht will be producing. In just a few hours, we’ll receive our film genre, a line of dialogue, a prop, and the name of a character, and have just two days to make a 4 to 7 minute film. Just the sort of wild slapdashery this League prepares its Gents to face!

The Best Damn Martini I Have Ever Had

Gin. Dry Vermouth. Shaken (or stirred) with ice, then strained into a stylish though somewhat impractical glass, with either an olive or a twist of lemon peel dropped in at the end.

With such a brief recipe, could the quality of the Martini Cocktail actually vary that much from establishment to establishment? The answer is, of course, “GOD yes!” And the martini served at Los Angeles’s venerable Musso and Frank is the finest I have ever had.

We were celebrating my recent graduation from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, whose founding faculty included Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith.  While I was studying there, I also received a bit of financial help from the Mary Pickford Foundation.  Pickford, Griffith, and Fairbanks, along with Charlie Chaplin, founded United Artists 1919, and they were all regulars at Musso and Frank, which opened that same year.  Chaplin’s favorite dish was the grilled lamb kidneys, and an “oft-repeated, but unverified story1  has Douglas Fairbanks racing Rudolph Valentino down Hollywood Boulevard on horseback to get to the famous bar and grill.

(more…)

  1. LGA By-Law 3, Q.V.

The Wildlife of Los Angeles

One of the great things about living in Southern California is the proximity of open space to just about all developed areas. I live in Los Angeles, and am rarely more than a 30 minute drive from a solid hike in the backcountry. Today, the hiking destination was Las Virgenes Canyon, a hilly area on the west side of the San Fernando Valley.

For much of the year, the SoCal backcountry is yellow, dry, and crunchy, but for a couple of months in the spring, after the winter rains but before the summer heat, there’s a little water and the hills are green flecked with yellow mustard grass.

On today’s hike, I encountered all sorts of creatures – frogs and swarms of tadpoles in small seasonal ponds,hawks, small mammals, and even a very large rattlesnake poking his head out of the bushes on the side of the trail. There’s nothing like almost stepping on a rattlesnake to liven up the senses. From then on, every stick lying on the trail becomes a potential snake…