J. Press

anonymous asked:

another vote for a bible story, which one are you thinking of?

I am thinking of - and have indeed prepared - the story of Samson and Delilah! 

There is a small disclaimer regarding the treatment of religious texts in modern society under the Read More, as well as some very brief discussions of comparative literature. One disclaimer here, though - comments about the religious authenticity or lack thereof of this text are not welcome. This story has been retold as a work of narrative fiction, as have all other retellings I’ve done. All stories are on the same level playing field in that respect, and I would appreciate it if people could refrain from insinuating otherwise. I don’t encourage Bible bashing in any sense. No belief system is above or below any other.

If you don’t want to read the poorly retold tale of a man with a perpetual bad hair day and an aversion to marriage counselling, press J on your keyboard to skip!

God Hates Hairdressers

So, this story starts with a dude named Manoah and his barren wife. His wife doesn’t have a name, because the Bible isn’t really interested in her role in the narrative beyond her empty womb, but I’m not down with that, so let’s call her Jill. Anyway, one day, Jill is just sort of chilling by herself while Manoah is doing important manly shit that doesn’t involve wombs, when suddenly this angel just appears right next to her and the angel is like “yo Jill, you know how you’re barren?” and Jill is like “yeah, that’s a thing that I am” and the angel is like “and you know how you totally can’t ever have kids?” and Jill sighs and says “is there a point to this or are you just making a statement about women’s role within the society of Zorah” and the angel chuckles and says “dude, next time you’re bemoaning women’s rights in this shitty little valley, make sure you use the past tense, because BAM, you’re totally going to get all sprogged up soon with the raddest baby ever and everything is going to be absolutely fucking awesome” and Jill is like “wow, how rad on a scale of one to ten?” and the angel is all “well, you know how the Philistines are arseholes?” and Jill says “yes but why are we having this conversation entirely through the medium of rhetorical questions?” and the angel is like “getting real for a sec, your kid is going to be really instrumental in the freeing of the Israelites from the Philistines, and God thinks that your womb is the only womb for the job.”

Jill, being something of an amateur historian, is like “but didn’t God basically deliver the Israelites into the hands of the Philistines to teach them a lesson about worshipping him properly?” and the angel waves his hand airily and says “let bygones be bygones, Jill, and listen closely to my advice, because this pregnancy isn’t something you can navigate by the weighty tomes of My Baby Body and Me” and Jill is like “you mean I can’t just eat ice cream for nine months and make my husband give me foot massages?” and the angel is like “no, you can totally do that, but you also have to abstain completely from drinking any wine” and Jill is like “pretty sure that advice is in every baby textbook ever” and the angel says “also your son must never drink wine or cut his hair, because them’s the Nazirite rules” and Jill is like “OK, I totally hear you, but also I think I should probably tell my husband” and the angel is like “good luck explaining why your son’s hairstyle is going to be dictated by God forever” and fucks off.

When Jill tells Manoah about the day’s events, his first reaction is basically “holy shit, have you been partaking of the fruits of the vine because seriously, you sound like my uncle at a wedding” and Jill is like “fucking Hell, fine, I’ll get the angel to come back and tell you himself” and Manoah nods sagely and says “it’s for the best, Jill, I need to hear this news from the lips of a man or it means nothing to me as a Biblical male figure” and Jill gives him the middle finger and stomps off to mope in a field.

Eventually, the angel returns and Jill is like “for fuck’s sake, I specifically asked that you went to speak to my husband. Men” and she goes to find Manoah, and when Manoah gets there, he asks the angel what the frickety frack paddlewhack is going on. The angel just sort of looks at Manoah and says “dude, didn’t your wife tell you?” and Manoah looks really sheepish and he’s like “she said some shit about having a baby and not drinking wine and also that maybe he would ultimately save the Israelites from being enslaved by the Philistines, but you know. Women” and the angel just nods sagely and says “women” and then he high fives Manoah and Jill just sort of wonders why she’s even here at all, apart from her womb. Then Manoah burns some meat and the angel disappears and everything is absolutely stellar.

So, Jill gives birth to her radical baby and she names him Samson, and like a good Biblical mother, she does all the shit that she’s supposed to do. She doesn’t let him drink wine, even when he’s like “but mum, all my friends are drinking in the park and I don’t want to be that teetotal loser at a party who can’t get any girls”, and she doesn’t cut his hair even when he’s like “but mum, all my friends have got really cool hairstyles with, like, shaved bits, and I look like Tarzan on a gap year” and everything is fine. Samson drinks his milk and grows up to be big and strong.

Except he’s not just big and strong; he’s essentially like Dwayne Johnson if Dwayne Johnson were allowed to grow wild and untamed, unrestrained by the casting conventions of Hollywood. Dude can lift mountains. No, literally. He is physically capable of lifting mountains. He really is that strong. He makes the cast of The Expendables look like Jesse Eisenberg. I cannot exaggerate this dude’s strength.

Many years pass, and honestly, I don’t even have time to go into all the cool shit that Samson does in these years. Those are rad stories for another time. But basically, all you need to know is that after a few years spent absolutely bloody sticking it to the proverbial Philistine Man through a series of incredibly macho events that would make the RSPCA quiver with rage, such as tearing a lion apart with his bare hands and eating honey from its corpse, killing 1,000 men with the jawbone of a donkey, and setting 300 foxes on fire and destroying all the crops in sight, Samson ends up right at the top of the Philistines’ carefully composed list of ‘People We Don’t Like Very Much and Would Subsequently Quite Like to Dispatch in a Series of Creative Ways, Possibly Involving Maiming and / or Mutilation’. It’s a long list.

As well as being at the top of this list, Samson also finds himself in the valley of Sorek, which just so happens to be the hometown of an absolutely smokin’ lil piece named Delilah. Delilah, who happens to be the only woman gifted with a name in this entire story, is basically the Biblical Marilyn Monroe. She’s all curvaceous of bod and lustrous of hair, and her dimples do this really alluring thing when she smiles at that joke you just told, the one about your job that you always worried wasn’t actually that funny but Delilah seems to find hilarious – and now she’s playing footsie with you under the table and looking up at you from under her lashes and telling you that you should be a comedian, and the next thing you know, you’re two condoms short of a packet and your wallet’s missing, but you don’t even mind because you learnt things about your body that you never knew.

Anyway, Samson meets Delilah at Sorek, and immediately he’s just like “right, well, I know I have a history of making terrible choices with women, and my last wife betrayed me to the Philistines and then married my best friend and tried to convince me to marry her sister instead, but I have a feeling that this woman is The One. I think it’s the heaving bosom that’s done that, honestly” and Delilah just sort of flutters her eyelashes and says “you’re so big and so strong, Samson, let us be wed immediately, and I promise you that I definitely won’t ever make good on that really obvious foreshadowing, 100% honest intentions up in here” and Samson just looks at the plush curve of her cupid’s bow and says “I absolutely accept, let’s marry the fuck out of each other” and they do.

After a few weeks of wedded bliss, Delilah is out doing her weekly shoe shop when she’s approached by a gang of Philistines. She’s all “well, I definitely did not see this coming, this is a complete surprise, I had no idea that Samson was even affiliated with the Philistines in any way, shape or form” and the leader of the Philistines just stares into the molten brown of her eyes and says “we need you to do us a favour” and he does a stellar job of not making any innuendos out of it whatsoever. Delilah puts down her bag of Louboutins and she’s all “boys, I am not that kind of lady, and if you think I’m going to do anything against my husband, then you will be sorely disappointed” but she totally winks theatrically as she says it and the leader of the Philistines is like “well, hypothetically, we definitely wouldn’t be willing to give you a vast amount of money to find out the secret of your husband’s strength” and Delilah is like “how vast a quantity of money would you hypothetically be unwilling to give?” and he’s like “I don’t know, maybe eleven hundred pieces of silver?” and Delilah is like “holy shit, that’s like four pairs of Louboutins, consider me well and truly not at all in but also totally in on your entirely hypothetical plan” and she walks off and one of the Philistines just says “what a woman” and another one hushes him.

When Delilah gets home, she goes up to Samson and she starts playing with one of the seven locks of hair on his head, and she’s like “honey bear, you know how you love me more than anything?” and Samson is like “I do know that actually, what do you want?” and she’s all “well, if you really loved me, you’d tell me what makes you so big and strong and handsome and broad in the shoulder” and Samson is like “oh, well, I can’t really say, but let me just tell you that it would sure be a party pooper if someone were to tie me up with seven green willow branches that have never been dried. Boy, that would really rain on my parade” and Delilah grins seductively and says “I hope no-one ever does that to you, sugar muffin” and then they go to bed.

When Samson wakes up, he finds that he’s been tied to the bed with seven green willow branches, and he’s like “what the fuck, Delilah” and Delilah is like “the Philistines are totally gonna cream your ass now” and Samson just flexes his impressive chest and the branches snap off, like some kind of weird botanic strip tease, and he’s all “they’re going to have to do better than that if they want any dairy related action to occur on these gluteal muscles” and he goes to work.

Later that evening, Delilah sidles up to him and she’s wearing her fanciest lingerie, the set with little bows on the thigh high stockings, and she’s like “baby, if you loved me at all, you’d tell me the truth about your strength” and Samson sighs and he’s all “are we still on this?” and Delilah winks and says “you could be on me if you just told me how to make you weak and puny, purely for trust reasons” and Samson rolls his eyes and says “OK, I lied to you before. The truth is that if someone were to tie me up with new ropes that have never been used, I’d instantly become pastier than Michael Cera” and Delilah cocks her head and says “baby, we should try something new in the bedroom tonight” and then she gets these brand new ropes and ties him up. She’s all “I tricked you good and proper there, the Philistines are gonna have your nuts for breakfast”, but Samson just unties the ropes and he’s like “I don’t think I like bondage much, and you should tell the Philistines that a breakfast with too much protein will unsettle their stomachs” and he goes to sleep.

The next morning, Delilah is like “can you seriously just fucking tell me, because I’m your wife and I need to know your weakness so that I can keep you safe” and Samson is like “but you’ve literally tried everything that you thought would make me lose my strength” and she’s all “yeah, to see if I could trust you, and clearly I can’t because your pecs are still rippling like the goddamn ocean” and Samson is like “well, if I can trust you, then can you promise not to tie my seven locks of hair together while I sleep?” and Delilah is like “why, would that make you puny?” and Samson says “it certainly wouldn’t help with my rigorous fitness regime” and Delilah is all “cross my heart, I won’t tie your locks together”, and then she waits for him to fall asleep and she weaves his hair together, because neither of them have learnt that their marriage is built on nothing but raw sexual magnetism and they should probably see a couples’ counsellor.

When Samson wakes up, he’s just like “goddamn it, Delilah” and he lets his hair down and flexes his guns, and Delilah starts crying and says “I can’t believe you lied to me again, how can we move past this marital issue if you don’t trust me?” and Samson just throws his hands in the air and says “how can I trust you when you keep doing shit like this?” and Delilah is like “I bet you trusted your last wife” and Samson is all “yeah, and she betrayed me to the Philistines” and Delilah blinks a few times and makes a tear fall artfully down her cheekbone, and she says “I would never betray you to the Philistines, baby, you have to remember that I’m not your ex-wife” and Samson takes her sobbing frame in his powerful arms and murmurs “I know, baby” into the crook of her neck, and as she cries, he just whispers “I trust you not to cut my hair, and no jokes this time, this is me taking a leap of faith to save our marriage” and Delilah hiccoughs tearfully and says “for real this time?” and Samson nods and says “for really real” and Delilah manages to make herself smile sadly and says “thank you for trusting me, honey, I promise I won’t cut your hair off while you sleep tonight” and Samson is like “Awesome, I am so glad that we have turned a new chapter in our marriage and I’m not going to wake up bald.”

The next morning, Samson wakes up bald, and his room is full of Philistines and Delilah is standing at the end of the bed with her arms folded across her chest, grinning sardonically, and before he can shout something about the marital bonds of trust having been broken, he’s been captured by the Philistines, having broken his Nazirite oath and lost God’s help, and he’s just like “I think we should try a trial separation, honey” and then this Philistine comes up to him and he’s like “how would you like to try a trial separation from your eyes?” and Samson is like “I’ve considered it thoroughly and no, that is not something that I would be interested in trying” and the Philistine looks back at his boss for instructions on what to do next and his boss just sighs and he’s like “obviously he’s not going to agree, just give him the ocular divorce anyway” and that is a thing that happens, unfortunately. Old Testament is bloody as fuck.

A few years pass, during which Samson is forced to labour for the Philistines, and basically he really regrets his haircut, even though he’s always thought that his jaw would look more chiselled with short hair, which is a hypothesis he is now unable to test due to being blind. One day, a Philistine comes to collect him. He leads him to the temple, which is absolutely jammed full of people, and Samson is like “where are we, because I have an important millstone that needs turning regularly” and the Philistine is like “we’re at the temple where we’re going to offer you to our god, Dagon, because he’s a rad dude and he lets us cut our hair without sapping our strength like a bad marriage” and Samson is like “by ‘offer’, do you mean you’re going to wrap me up with a neat little bow or that you’re going to slaughter me horribly” and the Philistine is like “probably a combination of both, if I’m honest” and Samson is like “brilliant, that all sounds really great and I’d love to participate to the best of my ability, but in order to do that, I think I’ll need a little rest. Would you mind terribly if I just had a little lean against the nearest pillar?” and the Philistine sighs and he’s like “just a small lean, mind” and Samson agrees and he’s like “the tiniest of leans” and the Philistine leads him over to the nearest structural pillar.

While he’s leaning against the pillar, Samson mutters “OK, God, it’s been years and my hair is totally doing its Jason Momoa thing again, so maybe you could cut me some slack on my accidentally breaking the Nazirite oath and give me my strength back?” and God doesn’t say anything, because God is the strong and silent type, but Samson immediately feels his strength flow back into his body, and he turns his face up to the Heavens, towards the sky he could have seen had he not been robbed of sight, and he cries out “let me die with the Philistines!” and he pushes against the pillars with all his might, and with a mighty crash the entire temple falls down and kills everyone inside, including Samson, and Jill’s one-trick womb comes good in the end.

My other retellings can be found here; my dedicated mythology blog is here; and my Mythology Mondays Facebook page is here. The latter two links also allow you to follow my progress in writing a whole actual book. Thrilling.

Disclaimer: there is no proof that God looks any less kindly upon hairdressers whatsoever. Unless you’re a hairdresser who breaks the Nazirite oath, in which case, avoid Philistines.

Keep reading

Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?

Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?

Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day – it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 

For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs – which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here

The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 

So, finding that sweet spot – where a rise is high, but not too high – is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit – which I thought was great – but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 

Outside of them, there's Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O'Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring JacketJack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire

3

Q & Answer: How to Wear Seersucker

David asks: I really want to wear a seersucker suit this spring, but I’m not sure how to pull it off. Any suggestions for how to make it look good?

Seersucker suits are an American classic, but you rarely see them around anymore. That’s partly because fewer and fewer men wear tailored clothes outside of work, so navy and dark grey suits remain, while casual suits are less common. It’s also because seersucker was originally established in the pre-air-conditioning era, when having something lightweight, cool-wearing, and easy-to-wash was as much about practicality as it was about style. 

These days, men are more likely to wear shorts and t-shirts when it’s hot, but you can still turn to seersucker for a sharper, more tailored look. Here are some suggestions, in descending order of preppy-ness: 

  • Go Unabashedly Prep: Believe it or not, seersucker suits were originally considered a poor-man’s alternative to linen. Sometime after the First World War, college men started to wear them, which is how they eventually became part of the preppy canon. If you go to things like garden parties, consider following Trent Lott’s style advice: pair a seersucker suit with pastel ties, white bucks, and cucumber sandwiches.
  • Go Bashfully Prep: A seersucker suit will always look preppy, but you can take some of the edge off by swapping pastel ties out for something darker, and trading white bucks for something less bright. Try a navy tie with dirty bucks or tan calf bluchers. Or tone the suit down further with a long-sleeved polo and casual loafers. 
  • Try Navy: If you can find one, a navy seersucker suit can be a nice alternative to the traditional blue and white. Here’s an exceptional double-breasted example on Savile Row tailor Michael Browne.
  • Break It Up: For an even more casual look, break the suit up into separates. You can wear a seersucker jacket with linen, cotton, or gabardine trousers in cream or tan (I like The Armoury’s Ring Jacket model for these purposes, since the jacket has patch pockets). Seersucker trousers can also be worn with a navy sport coat, as Voxsartoria has done here
  • Ease Into It: If you’re not yet ready for a seersucker jacket, consider a seersucker shirt. They can add some nice texture to a solid-colored sport coat. This season, you can find seersucker shirts from Brooks Brothers, Gitman Vintage, Aspesi, and Freeman’s Sporting Club. No Man Walks Alone also has some handsome short-sleeve options from Monitaly and Portuguese Flannel (although, those should be worn sans sport coat). For something custom, consider our sponsor Proper Cloth
  • For the Truly Timid: If all the above still scares you, try a seersucker tie. O’Connell’s has some traditional four-in-hands, J. Press has some bow ties, and A Suitable Wardrobe has seersucker striped ties without the crinkles. The last should be wearable even for the shyest of men.  

(photos via The Armoury, VoxsartoriaNeoRetro Style)

6

Six Great Types of Shirts for Fall

For nearly a century now, the most basic dress shirt for men is a solid white or light-blue button-up, made from 100% cotton, and usually coming in a plain or twill weave. It’s the default choice for dress shirts – something you can rely on year-round to look decent and acceptable, and is very rarely the wrong choice, assuming you’re dressing classically. 

There are times, however, when choosing something a bit different can yield a more harmonious look. Take, for example, the advantage of combining an airy, light-blue linen shirt with a tan cotton sport coat. The two textures are equally casual, and together, they lend a better presentation for summer. Similarly, a fine cotton dress shirt can look puny when set against a hardy Shetland tweed or mid-waled corduroy jacket. Better to pick something with more texture and “weight,” such as these following options, which I think make for excellent fall and winter shirts.

Flannels 

At the top of the list are flannels, which can come in a variety of forms. They can be solid or patterned (if patterned, usually checked), and made from either a softly brushed pure cotton or some kind of wool/ cotton blend. Viyella is particularly famous for their flannel shirtings (the word “shirtings” means “fabrics intended for shirts;” it is not a synonym for the word “shirts”). You can find them at a number of places, such as Dann Online, J. Press, and O’Connell’s. I unfortunately can’t say how any of those fit, but my guess is “traditional.” If you have a custom shirtmaker, they may also carry Viyella fabrics, which you can ask for by name.

Bold cotton plaids

Bold cotton plaids are different from flannels in that they don’t have that soft, brushed quality. They’re smooth like a fine cotton dress shirt, but remain a bit more autumnal through their patterns. Our advertiser Ledbury carries some through their short-run collection (they’ve got more coming down the pipeline, as they’re releasing a new short-run shirt every day this month). Brooks Brothers also has some designs, though mostly in non-iron fabrics, and Gant Rugger might be a good option for younger men. For something more affordable, there’s J. Crew. Just wait for one of their many sales. 

Tattersalls

Tattersalls are symmetrical, thin-lined checks, usually made up of two colors for the lines and a plain-colored background. I find they’re a nice compromise between the dressiness of a standard dress shirt and the casualness of a bold cotton plaid. For something dressier still, you can go for a graph check shirt, which is exactly what it sounds like – a shirt with a pattern that looks like graph paper. Either would do well underneath a tweed or corduroy jacket, and you can find them at places such as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and TM Lewin.

Oxford Cloth Button-Downs (aka OCBDs)

OCBDs are versatile enough for year-round wear, but also have the weight and texture necessary to look great underneath fall jackets. What’s not to like? You can read my long-winded series about them here, or just skip to my recommendations.

Chambray

Another good year-round shirt that really comes into its own during the fall and winter seasons. You can find nice high-end options at Self Edge, Rising Sun, and Blue in Green. Mr. Porter also has some designer offerings, and J. Crew is again good for something more affordable (just wait for a sale). My favorite, however, is by Mister Freedom. I appreciate the emphasis they put into beautiful fabrics, and have found mine to age exceptionally well. When choosing one, keep in mind the kind of outerwear you might want to wear. Very casual chambray shirts with extra detailing should be kept with very casual outerwear, rather than traditional sport coats. 

Corduroys

Corduroy shirts are less versatile than any of the above options, but they’re nice to have if you’d like some more variety. Our advertiser Ledbury has one in brown coming out this month (it’s pictured above) and I like that it has a traditional looking collar and lowered second button (good for when you’re wearing the shirt casually and don’t want it buttoned all the way up). For something available now, there’s Michael Bastian, Beams Plus, and LL Bean.