Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Armistice Day, Far in the Mist

At 11:11 a.m. on this day in 1918 the worst blood letting the world had ever seen came to an end.  There were a lot of people killed that morning although nobody really knew why.  All over the world the mothers and fathers, wives, children, sisters and brothers wept in thanksgiving or in bitter loss. There was one good thing though.  Laws were passed outlawing war forever.  The laws only lasted twenty years. 

On this day, now devoted in the U.S. to all of the military veterans who fortify our liberty with their lives, please thank someone.  Pray for someone.  Shake someone's hand.  Remember someone who died over 100 years ago to save the world.  The memorials are still there all over the globe.  We mostly pass them by nowadays without a thought.  Stop by one today and look...and remember...

To all Veterans.  Thank you so very much.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Happy Birthday A.J.!!!

Today is the birthday of one of my literary and gastronomic heroes...A.J. Liebling!!!  He lived in Paris between the wars and wrote the marvelous book "Between Meals, An Appetite for Paris" about that time.  He wrote superbly about boxing, politics, and any other topic that came his way at the old New Yorker magazine.

He was a fountain of great quotes such as:

The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite. Without this, it is impossible to accumulate, within the allotted span, enough experience of eating to have anything worth setting down.

Liebling, not Hemingway, is the writer who ignited my enduring love affair with Paris.  And even if he had been a lousy writer, I would owe him a huge debt of gratitude as a result.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Epic Dining: Bates House of Turkey, Greenville, Alabama

The Epic diner is always on the alert for fine food.  So it was that, years ago, my "spider sense" for restaurants went off strongly while I was driving up Interstate 65 from Mobile to Birmingham, Alabama.  I saw one sign for Bates House of Turkey and immediately took the next exit.  That single decision placed me into an incredible eating experience that I am proud to say has not changed one little bit in the twenty years since.

Bates is one of those small town classics that has managed to stay in business for generations.  That sort of longevity is always founded upon great food, reasonable prices and fine service.  Bates House of Turkey provides all of that at the highest level.  The customers are all friendly too.  They are all just happy eaters and they are happy you are eating too.

When you walk in the door one of the very friendly and well trained counter helpers gives you a big smile and asks for your order.  Don't look for roast beef.  Don't look for ham.  Don't look for salami.  This place is all about Dr. Franklin's "respectable bird".  The turkey and only the turkey.  Sandwiches, chili, lasagna, open faced sandwiches, dinner plates.  You name it.  As long as it features turkey.

I love everything about this place and I stop in every time I pass by.  They open at 8:00 am.  No scrambled eggs here.  Turkey.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This week I had the delightful experience of having lunch at BHoT on the way north to Birmingham on Monday and then again today on the way back south to Florida.  I always get the carved turkey plate which includes FINE cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy and two side dishes. On a plastic plate with plastic forks and knives you get out of one of those devices with handles that dispenses them to you.   Monday's lunch was... 

Sliced tender, perfectly cooked turkey, perfect dressing, perfect gravy, green beans, and the most wonderful sweet potato casserole you ever tasted.  And the dishes are all easy on the salt content as well. Oh did I mention the little cornbread muffin you get?  And the little home baked roll? Both perfect.  With tea and a slice of [wonderful] coconut cream pie.  For just under $15.  This place is like every southern grandma ever put all their cooking karma in one cute little building.

Day two lunch [south-bound] was...

Same plate but with fresh English peas and the best hash brown potato casserole you ever tasted.  Oh, and a slice of chocolate cream pie this time.  Just to mix it up. 

This food is so good that when you finish you want to walk right up and order it all again.  If anyone who calls themselves an Epic drives down I-65 and fails to stop at Bates House of Turkey [absent some very legitimate medical reason....and I want to see a note from the doctor] I'm going to read your name out in public.  Because Bates House of Turkey is just about the best place you can be.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Seven Months Out

Hello to all of you Epics.  I haven't been writing but I am still hanging around.  This is my chapbook page on some experiences from the first seven months after losing the Irish Redhead.

I was a total mess for about three months, not much able to do anything but stare out the window. They say that is pretty much par for the course; only the amount of time varies. Now I only get that way on certain days. The problem is I can never tell what day is a certain day until it happens.

Early on, I saw myself in mortal emotional peril.  The peril of going into some sort of mental fetal position and not waking up emotionally until I was very old.  Then I was blessed with meeting three very different but singular women who have literally saved my emotional life.  All younger than I am, their vivacity and joie de vivre has been a tonic to me and they have all helped, at different times and places, to restore the sense that I am an independent fellow of my own making even without the half of my cell structure that was connected to the IR's and which remains with her still.  

This first round of special days has been brutal.  After the funeral, Easter, Mothers' Day, my birthday, our son's birthday, Fathers' Day.  Next month her birthday and our 30th anniversary.  The same week.

You don't want to go to the cemetery all the time like you would think you would want to do.  Then again, some days you don't want to go any place else.  Going to to her grave and leaving flowers isn't disarming.  It's leaving there after you put the flowers down that kills you.

I find that I am just as bad with money as I was 35 years ago when I last had unfettered access to it.  I find that sort of charming in a way.  She was superb with money.  Careful and generous at the same time.  She didn't trust me with it one little bit.  I find that charming now too.

I cry at the oddest times and for the oddest reasons.  At first the big things get to you.  Then they don't.  Then it is the little things.  I am very thankful that I have only awakened from a dream crying three times.

We didn't really have a "special song".  Now I am very glad about that.  But if one of her favorite shows comes on television I can't bear to watch.

The most brutal thing of all is cleaning out her closet.  One of my lady friends told me of a charity that helps women in homeless and other shelters dress well for job interviews.  They do their hair and makeup and everything.  And the charity always needs nice clothes.  So I am donating almost all of the IR's very fine clothes, shoes, purses and non-heirloom jewelry to this outfit.  She would really have liked that.  But I still have to go in there and immerse myself in her best things.  Some of which still smell like her cologne.

People say you feel like the person you lost is always right with you.  I would like that but I don't feel that way.  I feel like shes a million miles away.  Like I am the one that got shipwrecked on some remote island.

I was doing what I considered to be o.k. until her dad had to go in the hospital a couple of times the past six weeks.  He has lived with me for over 20 years.  He is in the same hospital where she died. Going there is almost beyond my capacity.  But I go anyhow.  I admit it has set me back a good bit emotionally.

There are times when you just have to vanish and go out of town and pretend to be someone else.  Or more accurately try to figure out who you are now.  I am so thankful I have the ability to do that.  It is a lot of fun to be able to go somewhere on the spur of the moment, I admit.

I don't feel guilty at all about trying to re-establish myself as a socially active single man.  What other choice do I have?  I have to remind myself that it is what I am.  I imagine some eyebrows have been raised in this regard.  Frankly, I don't give a damn.

I have discovered to my surprise that if I ask a woman out on a date a lot of the time she will say yes. I didn't have much nerve in that department 35 years ago.

I still wear my wedding ring.  Some days I want to take it off.  Some days I don't.

I played the part of the young husband in a High School rendition of Thornton  Wilder's "Our Town".
The final scene made me cry way back then.  Now I wish I had never heard of the play at all.

Some people feel that I must or will certainly re-marry.  I don't see that happening at all.  My current feeling about this [albeit very, very premature] is not in any way a negative comment on my marriage.  Rather it is the highest endorsement of it.  I was married once and very well and I don't think that I have the spiritual energy to commit that way again.

I know a young fellow who lost his wife three years ago.  They had only been married a short time.  I see him and I can't think of a single thing to say.  I don't know what to say to myself.

Frank Sinatra said that at one point he "crawled into a bottle" and lived there for a year or so.  I find life in a bottle isn't too bad as long as you can crawl out.  It's cozy inside a bottle.

I do not deal well now with stressful situations.  They make me sort of glass over.  Not great in my line of work.

There are certain songs that make me cry.  A lot.  But I keep listening to them anyway. Not all the time thank God.  Just sometimes.  Usually very late at night.  Or sometimes when I just need an excuse to cry.  The musical version of stubbing your toe on purpose.

It is amazing to me when people ask "are you good now".  No.  I'm not. I lost half my cell structure in a moment.  But I'm going to make it anyhow.  And I am going to have a good time as best I can.

Frank would say I'm being "Charlie Raincloud" so I will close.  Thanks for coming around. Don't worry about me.  I do laugh and I don't feel horrid all the time. I have had some marvelous times with pretty friends. I'll eventually get to where there is blue sky most days.  As I wrote a while ago, blue sky is always up there somewhere.  For now, do me a favor.  Go to the person you love and give them a big hug and a kiss and remind them how you feel. It is an Epic gesture, after all.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Paris, My Love

Sophia Loren.  Paris.  1956.  Nothing more need be said.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

From The Epic Music Vault: BBVD "Louis, Louis, Louis"

Like a lot of people, I became a huge fan of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy when they played in the Epic favorite movie Swingers.  Every album they put out is to my liking.

This new one however, takes them in a completely new direction thematically.  This album consists of covers of great tunes by Louis Armstrong, Louis Prima and Louis Jordan all done in the inimitable BBVD style.  Superb!!!!

Any Epic would love this album for summer swilling and chilling.  GO DADDY-O!!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fathers' Day

That's me in the middle.  This first Fathers' Day of the New Era was pretty lousy to be honest.  So here is a link to my FD post last year.

Thanks to all of you for dropping by.