three generations of greatness


Here we have the Malayan tapir and his super-snoot! They were hiding the last few times I visited, as is their right, so I was very excited to see them! This is the largest species of tapir and the only one native to Asia. I noticed that these animals sport disruptive coloration similar to that of the Commerson’s dolphin. The irregular pattern is a form of camouflage that breaks up the shape of the animal within its environment, helping it to hide from predators. They have ANOTHER thing in common with those dolphins. Listening to visitors guess what they are is decent entertainment. According to guests getting their first look, the tapir is in fact an anteater, a pig, a baby elephant, or a hippo. (The tapir’s closest relatives are actually rhinos and horses.) We generally let this go on for a while before we start with the enthusiastic, “Oh, what’s this?! Ah, the sign RIGHT HERE says its a Malayan tapir!!” Cue dusty neurons firing and education in progress!! On a more serious note, please be aware that disruptive coloration can hide tapirs from predators, but not from habitat destruction. Their population has declined over 50% in the last three generations primarily due to habitat loss, placing them at great risk of extinction. Their forest homes are flattened to make way for lucrative palm oil plantations. You can help tapirs and other animals, like orangutans, who are threatened by unsustainable palm oil production by being very careful about the products you buy. I swear it seems like palm oil is in EVERYTHING. Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has a great app available for your phone that can help you make good purchasing decisions.

Photo of Frank James Simmons in U.S. Army uniform, 1943. Photo courtesy of Simmons family.

I come from three generations of military men. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served in the military. For them, like many African American men and women, military service served as a vehicle of upward mobility. Here is a photo of my grandfather Frank James Simmons in U.S. Army uniform during World War II. He was among the 2.5 million African-American men who registered for the draft. He enlisted in the Army in New Orleans on February 17, 1943 at the tender age of 19 and served in the Philippines. He was honorably discharged from the army as a sergeant from Company F of the segregated 369th Infantry on January 22, 1946. Soon after returning to his hometown Baton Rouge, La., he started a family and with my grandmother raised six daughters, including my mother. Military service, like for many World War II veterans, was a formative experience for him and he would spend the rest of his life regaling us with stories from his years in the war.

Story from Jonathan Michael Square, @fashioningtheself

callette  asked:

IM SCREAMING!!! GAWAIN YOU PRESCIOUS BIRD CHILD!!! DORIAN HAS RELATIVES AND THEYRE AS ADORABLE AS HE IS!!! Fangirling aside, was Dorian's name passed down each generation? (Mattie's breaking my heart btw)

(Publishing because I want to talk about this so bad)

First of all, thank you so much!

SECOND OF ALL. Dorian’s name.

So, his sister Lillian wanted to name one of her kids after him, but she ended up having three daughters. Whoops. Her daughters knew all about Tragic Uncle Dorian, of course.

Of those three daughters, two married and had children. Lillian’s youngest daughter (Dorian’s niece, featured in the episode), had two girls. One of those girls had a baby boy, the first to be born since Dorian, and so the name was bestowed upon him, finally, after three generations!

Dorian shares a name with his great-great nephew ;-;

Dressing Successfully

or an introduction to the man’s classic wardrobe.

Our appearances tell the world not who we are but who we would like to be. From our hair, or lack of it, adornment in jewellery, watches, the cars we drive, the cigarettes we smoke and the ping of the lighter that lights them - all tell the story of who we would like to be identified as. From how polished our nails are, or the presence of tattoos and piercings, near everything we do is a reflection of our own self image, and a projection of who we would like to be.

There are few aspects of our daily life as adaptable or as fluid as our wardrobes.

They are costumes of our idealised selves, literally a suit of armour to help us battle our way through the trials and tribulations of the professional world. Every profession has its standards, and every professional has their way of adapting that standard to themselves, be it conscious or no.

The beauty of classic menswear, and a big part of why I love it, is the fact that it is rarely revolutionary, but rather evolutionary. The changes can be tracked by decade rather than season, and it is slight adjustments that complement the individual, both physically and in less tangible ways, that takes well dressed to best in class.

Below are a few rules that should see any man aiming to build a wardrobe do so successfully and without fault.

1. Know the Rules, Understand the Context

For generation upon generation, from frock coats through to the establishment of the lounge suit as the standard of business formal, men learned the rules of dressing first from their father, then from their tailor. A boy could expect to learn the basics of dress from his father - when a suit is appropriate and when a blazer will suffice, how to tie his four in hand and bow, how to keep his shoes polished. To visit his father’s tailor was a rite of passage that many well-dressed men still remember fondly, and many great tailors will make it through three generations of a family before hanging up his shears. From his tailor men would learn how to dress for their builds, their complexions, and their everyday activity.

But something changed in the 60’s about the time JFK opted to go naked to his inauguration - hatless, at least, which was tantamount to being bare-assed in those times. Fashion started to infiltrate menswear. It was now fathers asking their sons how to dress, as the fashions of the times went from street to store, not vice-versa. A generation broke the verbal history of classic menswear, and we went from decade to decade of revolution rather than evolution.

That menswear has rules is what scares many men away - there is a lot of esoterica and obscure vocabulary that can be daunting to those uninitiated. But unlike womenswear, which sets its watch by the season and flips its priorities by the designers whim, men need only learn a few things. What is the standard, and what works for him. So a few fundamentals that are easily learned and quickly mastered;

The Lounge Suit - Easily summed up as a business appropriate suit of matching jacket and trouser. The classic palette of Grey and Navy is the most universally accepted, while Black is most often considered an evening suit in the classic tailoring world.

The sporting suit - Not often referred to in the modern wardrobe, a sporting suit is one worn for sports - primarily hunting. Patterned suit in tweeds or thorn proofs, in palettes of greens, brown and tans, things that would now be considered very English. What we have brought with us into the modern lexicon, however, is the sports coat - the odd jacket worn in non-traditional suiting colours, patterns and textures.

Formal Wear - Described below, a great rule to follow with formal clothing is that the more formal it is, the less open to interpretation. Formal clothing is something of a costume, made for specific occasions to ensure a consistent level of formality. Should you feel comfortable enough in your relationship with the host, bucking that courtesy is a risk you can take. Many a confidant dresser has adapted formal clothing to his personality successfully, but it is definitely a move for an experienced hand.

The Morning Suit - Also called a cutaway, the morning suit is the day time equivalent of the dinner suit, most recognisable as what would be worn to Royal Ascot or a formal day wedding. It is most traditionally worn with a black of charcoal coat, cutaway and finishing behind the knee. Odd trousers in a small tonal stripe, called Cashmere stripe trousers, despite usually being made of wool are worn below, although some rogues such as Prince Charles will wear matching light grey trouser/jacket combos. A double breasted waistcoat in Dove (light grey) or Buff (cream), a formal white shirt and a tonal ascot at the throat make up the majority of the habit. A top hat literally tops it all off.

The Dinner Suit - Often referred to as black tie, or a tuxedo after the famous Tuxedo club of New York where it made it’s American debut. A dinner suit is in black, or occasionally midnight navy, and worn with a bow tie, a white bibbed shirt, be it pleated (plisse) or dimpled (marcella). The dinner suit is an investment, and for those who love their wardrobes often ties the overcoat as the most significant single investment in a wardrobe. As they are worn less, and generally will last much longer, elegant men often put a little more thought, time and money in to the execution of each. A few rules for the dinner suit -

Black Tie is always worn with a bow tie. A four in hand tie with a dinner suit is fundamentally incorrect. Also - a bow tie is something that is knotted with each wear, one that is pre-tied is only appropriate if it spins or shoots water.
Matching elements on your dinner suit - your lapels, your bow, and your cummerbund should you choose to wear one. They are usually found in some form of silk - Grosgrain is often the bespoke choice, Barathea for something a little less archaic, Satin the most recognisable.

White tie - The most formal of traditional formal wear that is still commonly worn, and following that trend, the least open to interpretation. A white wing collar shirt, a white marcella bow tie and matching waistcoat is non- negotiable. A tailcoat cut short to just cover the bottoms of the waistcoat in front, double breasted but generally non fastening, with matching trousers finished, as with all formal clothing, cuffless. The most appropriate shoe is a well-polished opera pump, but a pair of plain black oxfords will do just as well in a pinch.

To quote the great G.Bruce Boyer on formal clothes:

In the early years of the twentieth century, a gentleman’s wardrobe was prescribed by the hour: morning coats till noon (or a short “stroller” jacket at a private gathering), lounge (business) suits until 6 p.m. (although swallowtails, striped trousers and top hats were still de rigueur in many professions), then evening clothes of one sort or another, depending on the occasion.

Of course, the high degree of prescription in dress was merely an objective correlative for the greater sense of rigidity and ritual about occasions. Every sport, for instance, not only dictated its own specific outfit for participants, but for observers as well. The most famous story about a breech in this etiquette took place one day in the early 1900s during the London season. King Edward VII happened to glance out a window and saw his master of the household, Sir Derek Keppel, entering the palace wearing a bowler hat. “You scoundrel!” the king yelled at the man. “What do you mean by coming in here in that rat-catcher fashion? You never see me dress like that in London!” Tough man with the proprieties, was Edward.

The king was a stickler for detail in an age of details. He once told a friend, who had proposed to accompany him in a tailcoat to a picture exhibition before lunch: “I thought everyone must know that a short jacket is always worn with a silk hat at a private view in the morning.”

Edward would be rotating in his hand-carved coffin if he could see what some people’s approach to coordinating outfits is these days. While we’re mercifully relieved of all that stifling rigidity, the downside to it is that, when the rules are thrown out, unbridled freedom often leads to chaos, confusion, frustration and terrible insecurity. Not to mention that some folks should be given warnings about assaulting the environment–you know, like obscene billboards and such.

Fortunately, there’s still one garment, the time-honored tuxedo, that prevents such fashion fiascoes. The one decidedly good thing about wearing a tux is that a man doesn’t need to make any decisions or worry whether he’s making a mistake: the prescribed outfit, top to toe, works perfectly fine. That is, works well if one knows the occasion calls for “Black Tie.” There again the Edwardians provided the rules governing the occasion by stipulating on the invitation what type of dress was expected. These days “White Tie,” “Full Dress,” “Decorations and Medals” and other such instructions are quaintly arcane at most functions. And the best place to see a tailcoat is in an old Fred Astaire film. Generally, the only men who own their own tails are diplomats and symphony orchestra conductors. If you are escorting a debutante to a fancy ball, rent.

2. Care for Your Stuff

Nothing looks better than a well loved pair of shoes, creased and polished, worn and resoled and polished a-glow again. Good clothing is an investment, and like an investment it needs some care to make sure it has a full life.

Dry cleaners are a last resort, not a regular occurrence. The method of dry cleaning is aggressive and damaging to cloth, and a well made garment is as much about the press as it is about the stitch, so regular dry cleaning is to be avoided. A good rule of thumb with tailored garments -

Rotate them regularly - When worn, cloth becomes warm and damp, the sad nature of our perspiring human bodies. Warm damp cloth is most likely to pill, to wear, and to stretch. Aim to have enough tailored garments in the wardrobe that none will be worn more than once in a working week.

Hang them warm - The miraculous nature of wool means that the fiber likes to return to its woven form. Wrinkled cloth and stretched seams will try to return to true if they are hung while warm from the body. So rather than drop your coat on the bed or on the back of a chair when you return home, put them on a shaped hanger. Your clothes will thank you for it.

Brush your garments - Dust and dirt abound, and when regular sponge and press is not an option, a good brushing will go a long way. Brushing the cloth helps return the fiber to its true direction, removes dust or dirt that may be sitting in the cloth, and will stave off the need for cleaning. The best brushes are natural bristle - horse for a softer brush, better for fine and delicate clothes such as cashmere or superfine wool, boar bristle for when you need something stiffer, such as tweeds, overcoatings, thornproofs or cottons.

Nurture your shoes - Your footwear is the most easily identified when shoddy, but also the most rewarding to care for. Like your clothing, shoes benefit from the following - Rotate them regularly. Never wear them two days in a row, and if wetted, should be offered an extra day or two to get fully dry. A solid brushing after each wear will see the need for a polishing greatly reduced, although polishing your shoes is something you should do yourself. If you haven’t learnt the method of glacage from your father, learn it  and make sure you show it to your son.

Shoe trees are to shoes as a good shaped hanger is to a suit, if not more so. Shoe trees are best when lasted, but still far better than nothing even when they aren’t modelled from the last. Put them in when the shoe is warm, before you apply the brush. Dustbags are great to stop dust from settling, but a brush is equally effective in removing it once it has.

3. Fit, Fit, Fit

Fit is to clothing as location is to property - arguably everything. A poorly fitted suit, no matter how beautifully made, will look appalling. Likewise a below average suit can be greatly improved by good tailoring. Look for these keys -

The collar - a jacket hangs first from the collar, second from the shoulder. Look at these two places when judging fit. A well fitted collar will be firm to the neck through a normal range of motion - that doesn’t include star jumps and burps, but driving, speaking on a phone, shaking someone’s hand - none of these should cause your jacket to need adjustment.

The shoulder - Extension of the shoulder is largely dependent on the shoulder pad, but ideally it should extend just far enough past the edge of the deltoid to fall straight and not divot when worn.

The chest - Despite the trend for slim and fitted clothing, there are parameters to what is slim and what is tight. A proper fitted chest on a jacket should fall to the button without creasing or ‘breaking’ as we call it in tailoring. Being practical garb, your suits should fit as you would most often wear them - if you carry a wallet in your breast pocket, your should fit it with that self same wallet.

Length - The most often mistaken are of fit on any garment is the length - particularly for those that feel they need to compensate in one way or another. Think of images of NBA players in jackets of zoot suit proportions. It does little to mask their height and instead makes them appear even taller. Likewise, many shorter customers over compensate by slicing their jackets so short as to look like a waiter in a French Bistro.

An easy rule to remember, is that most parts of a garment are made to cover certain parts of the body - a jacket should cover the torso, so ideally finishing at the base of the derriere. Sleeves cover the arms, not the hands. Gloves are for hands, not jacket sleeves! Likewise with trousers - properly fitted they should cover the legs, from just below the natural waist, falling to rest lightly on top of the shoe.

4. Keep it Simple

The most common mistake of those who are trying to build a wardrobe, and all of us who are passionate about dressing well are guilty of this, is indulging in the novel, the interesting, the different, for love of the garment and not the harmony of the whole. As Beau Brummell, that grand forebear of the male wardrobe put it -

“If John Bull turns to look after you, you are not well-dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable.”

The absence of colour and pattern in an outfit denotes it’s formality - the most formal, like the dinner suit, is simply black and white and without pattern. Often the very buttons are covered adding to the austerity. Likewise can be said for business - if you aim to look formal and serious, a palette of subdued colours and plain or very small patterns will serve you best. And in the great logic way that menswear tends to follow, the formality of a pattern follows directly it’s descending scale - a very fine pattern the most formal, great big patterns the least. The same can be said for textures, fine wale cord for an elegant option, while wide wale is best kept to the weekends.

5. Be Comfortable and Enjoy

You will never feel comfortable in any occasion if you don’t feel so, and nothing is more of an impediment to productivity than being pre-occupied with ill fitted or poorly styled clothing. Your wardrobe should be a cinch to dive in to of a morning, should see you through the day with aplomb, have you shoulder to shoulder with both clients and colleagues, and whisper your quirks and idiosyncrasies only to those that are listening closely.

Okay so let’s talk about Ben Solo as a child

Imagine, in the scale of the Star Wars universe, in a galaxy of literally trillions, being directly related to at least five of the most historically significant people of the past fifty years. Imagine the kind of pressure that was on him to measure up to the legacy of his family. Even if his being Anakin and Padme’s grandson isn’t common knowledge, he still knows, and everyone who knows him still knows that he’s the son of Leia Organa, general-slash-diplomat-slash-senator-slash-princess, and Han Solo, war hero and infamous smuggler. His uncle is Luke goddamn Skywalker. This kid was born into the shadow of giants. Imagine him growing up with everyone expecting him to be just as great as his parents and uncle (and grandparents). Imagine the terror he must have had of never doing anything noteworthy, of never becoming great, of being the first Skywalker in three generations not to make a name for himself.

Now imagine he goes to train under Luke, where he undoubtedly faced alienation because he was precocious and talented, the best at everything. Either he was a favorite and everyone said it was because he was Master Luke’s nephew, or Luke went the other way and treated him more harshly in order to avoid being accused of nepotism. And if he tried to underperform in order to avoid being the teacher’s pet? Luke knows he can do better, and he’d be disappointing everyone else because he’s obviously supposed to be the best, being a Skywalker and all.

Now imagine a young, probably teenaged Ben Solo, away from home, probably not a favorite among his peers, struggling with the fear of inadequacy that we know he has (”You’re afraid you’ll never be as strong as Darth Vader”), is approached by an agent of the Sith. Imagine how easy it would be to prey on his obvious fears and insecurities, how simple it would be to promise him greatness and glory if he just turns to the dark side. And imagine how fucking tempting it would be to have something that could be his in a way being a Jedi never would be- people would always measure him against Luke, and what if they found him lacking? But if he joined the dark side, the First Order, became Kylo Ren, no one would know who his family was, no one would know anything about him but what he did himself. Darth Vader is his role model, yes, but no one knows he’s his grandson. 

So tempting Ben Solo to the dark side is easy, he’s obviously ruled by his fear of unimportance, and the Sith have no qualms about lying to a kid in order to get him to join them. But then he’s not good at it. It’s hard for him to find the dark side, he struggles with the basic requirements of being a Sith. He’s doing exactly what he always feared- following in his ancestor’s footsteps and failing. More than that, he can’t exactly quit. I highly doubt Snoke would just let him walk out. And even if he did, even if he successfully defected from the Sith and the First Order and went back to the light side, what then? He’d still be of no account- Ben Solo disappeared around the time the Jedi were killed, who’d remember him? And if he told people he was Kylo Ren, they’d be disgusted, he’d be a disgrace. Probably the only people in the galaxy who don’t detest Darth Vader are his kids (and grandson). So he has to just… figure out a way to be a good Sith, because that’s the only option he has now. Do you honestly think that Kylo Ren would let himself believe for a minute that his family would just welcome him back after all he’s done? So he kills Han, because he thinks it’ll make him stronger, and, as we saw in the screenplay, it didn’t. Where can he go from here?

Basically, Ben Solo was young and terrified, he was probably manipulated into joining the dark side (the same way Anakin was, by playing on his greatest fears) and now he’s probably trapped in a life he may not even want anymore, because he made such a huge mistake, and now he’s all out of options.

"Slavery was so long ago"

No…false….my great great great grandmother was a slave. There are pictures of her as a slave, my great great grandmother was first generation free. That’s two greats… not four or five. Three generations. That’s my grandmother to my niece.