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.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dad's Birthday

The original piece that I could not publish after I wrote it on July 9:

This is my favorite photo of my Dad. Circa 1955. In front of the Tivoli Hotel, Panama. Four years before we met. To this day, my vision of a man in full.

My Dad was never much of a fan of the Chairman of the Board, but when my son (then 6) saw this picture during a family visit I asked him if he knew who it was. Without hesitation he replied "Sure. That's Frank Sinatra". My Dad, overhearing, just grinned and walked away.

It has been six years now. He would have been 84 today. The martinis I drank in his memory did not help a whole lot. On July 9, they never do.

Why I am publishing it now:

I have two good friends that lost their fathers recently. It happens to almost everyone. But somehow, that knowledge is of little use. How does one cope with losing a parent? Or any loved one? I was staring at my bookcase thinking about this topic when my eye fell on a little volume titled "Some Fruits of Solitude". Written by a fellow named William Penn. While he was imprisoned. For the crime of having a faith different from that of the people who owned the jails.

A gift I found six years ago were Penn's lines...

They that love beyond the world cannot be seperated by it.
Death cannot kill, what never dies.
Nor can Spirits ever be divided that love and live in the same Divine Principle; the Root and Record of their Friendship.
If absence be not Death, neither is theirs.
Death is but Crossing the World, as Friends do the Seas;
They live in one another still.

For they must needs be present that love and live in that which is Omnipresent.

In this Divine Glass, they see Face to Face;
and their Converse is Free, as well as Pure.

That is the Comfort of Friends,
that though they may be said to Die, yet their Friendship and Society are,
in the best Sense, ever present,
because Immortal.

I know. A bit more thick than my usual stuff. But the words helped me then. And help me still. My hope is that you will find comfort in them too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Airliner Interlude

A red-eye airplane ride. WAY too early in the morning. I was in an aisle seat, nodding, trying to remain awake. A very poorly planned segment in a schedule that has spiraled out of control. Your Epic was NOT a happy camper.

Until this. Four places ahead of my seat was a three person row. With two persons in it. At the window a young rodeo cowboy. Clean cut, championship buckle, very short hair. Young. On his aisle seat, an older gent, dressed nicely for business. Asleep. With an mp3 player in his ears.

At some point I popped back awake because of some loud music. As I refocused my vision ahead of me toward the source of the music, I noticed that one of the older gent's earphones has fallen out of his ear, transforming itself as it tumbled free into a general broadcast speaker. Blaring old school, spinning mirror ball, break out the colored fog at midnight disco music. Circa 1979. I personally did not think that I would ever hear Donna Summer singing "Bad Girls" that loudly ever again. That fellow must have really had the volume turned up on his mp3.

I broke out laughing (I wasn't the only one) because of the contrast between this older businessman and his choice of early morning travel music. I was even more amused as I realized the horrid dilemma in which the young rodeo star found himself. About forty minutes left in the flight, at the epicenter of a very loud disco mix, half the people probably thinking it was HIS music. The expression on the lad's face was as if someone had shoved his head into a bucket of lye. He was simply goggling at the sleeping disco aficionado. Come to think of it, the cowboy was young enough that he probably had no prior exposure to disco music. At least that is how he looked. As he pondered his choice. To awaken a snoozing king of disco. Or not to awaken. That was the question. At four in the morning.

I waited in anticipation. Finally, the young man screwed his face into a look of dogged determination. The type that no doubt earned him the trophy buckle he was wearing. He slid down in his seat, stared ahead, and just suffered through it. Until a while later when the older gent awakened in the normal course, snatched up his earpiece, and (somewhat red faced) shut off the mp3. The episode saved my attitude that morning and made the rest of my longish day bearable. Actually carried me through to cocktail hour.

Civility under trying circumstances. Well played young cowboy. Well played.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

American Romance

The most famous couple ever. DiMaggio and Monroe. On their wedding day, 1954. Headed off to a honeymoon in the Orient. During which an American general asked if she would visit the troops in Korea. Joe said it was her honeymoon, she could do what she wanted.

Upon her return after ten stops and 100,000 troops in the audience...

MM: It was so wonderful Joe! You never heard such cheering!
JD: Yes, I have.

That pretty much set the tone, I suppose. Still, when she died, he left word for flowers to be put on her grave "forever". Celebrity love. At its most sad.

It is my twenty-second wedding anniversary. I'm so glad that we found each other. And that we know, respect and love each other so well. Cheers to us. To all of you. And to all of your loves.

Quote from "The Silent Season of a Hero" by Gay Talese, Esquire, July 1966".
My earlier post about my 21st Anniversary is here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Honest Scrap

When I began this adventure just over a year ago, I had no readers. Just like everyone else launching a blog. A tip sheet I read stated "Just post something the first time, it doesn't matter what you write. Nobody is going to read it anyway."

Well, how time does fly. I am so pleased that there are Epics lurking out there who will take a bit of their very valuable time to drop by and read my musings. And, who will think enough of this blog that they will mention it in their work. Two blogs I enjoy are The Machinist's Wife and The Daily Connoisseur. Imagine my surprise and delight when both these ladies chose to bestow upon The Epic the "Honest Scrap" award! I like everything about it. As my acceptance speech, I am to list ten things about myself. I posted seven things a good while ago, so here is an updated list...

1. I am a religious man. But in the words of Gregg Allman, "I'm no angel...".

2. I am a complete Parisophile [is that a real word?], have read many books about it, but have yet to visit the City of Light. I will be very well prepared when I do arrive there, I assure you.

3. When I got my first apartment I was addicted to the Playboy Channel. Now I am addicted to the Food Network. Of course, there was no Food Network back then...

4. I love to work crossword puzzles [early in the week], and the New York Times puzzle in particular..

5. I once participated in my state's High School ski racing championship and chess championship the same month. I won neither.

6. I think that "One for My Baby" by Sinatra is the greatest song ever recorded.

7. Autumn is my favorite season. Even when you live someplace where the trees do not change colors, I can still remember...

8. I have been an Ian Fleming nut since the age of ten.

9. I write poetry but I have yet to let anyone see my poems.

10. I am just clinging to the professional career thing until my lounge singing career catches fire. A great pal of mine and I do a mean set of piano/vocal holiday standards. My favorites in this set are White Christmas, What Are You Doing New Year's Eve and Christmas for Cowboys.

AND a bonus factoid or two...I am outlining two novels. The first is a tale of lost faith and hope, the second a Raymond Chandler sort of thing...I was inspired to start a blog by reading a profile of blogger Melissa C. Morris in the New York Times.

But enough about me. Thanks again to these two fine ladies for my award. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Unanticipated Restaurant

Verisimilitude. The appearance of authenticity that induces a willing suspension of disbelief. The quality that allows us to enjoy magic tricks, movies, pro wrestling. The psychological notion that, in Western culture, authorizes adults to retain child-like fascination. One of my favorite notions, truth be told.

Another day in the Atlanta airport. Or, night, to be precise. The worst sort. A weekend night. The flight schedule did not allow for a regular meal (read "with cocktails") before my departure. Consequently, I faced the horrors of airport "dining". Luckily, and on a tip from a great pal, I ventured out to the international concourse to One Flew South, a new restaurant located there.

My susceptibility to verisimilitude was taxed to the limits when I walked into the concourse and saw the very appealing entry of the restaurant, pictured above. How could a place, a restaurant, this interesting exist in a large airport? I thought there was a law against it. Apparently not. The entire theme of One Flew South is to integrate the wonderful geographic area in which the traveler happens to be standing while enveloped by the E Concourse with the dining experience. Not a unique idea in the restaurant world. In my experience, a singular effort in the world of airport dining. And, as it turns out, a very worthy one.

The first part of this geographic reference at One Flew South is material. The columns and table tops inside the restaurant are made from a rare form of pale pink marble derived from the town of Jasper, Georgia. The floors and ceiling are surfaced with Georgia heart pine planking. A huge photo mural of a forest from elsewhere in the state forms the visual backdrop for most of the restaurant. The interior space is long and rather narrow, but seems very spacious even when busy due to the designer's clever idea of constructing the exterior wall from slats of wood which allow the diner to see glimpses of the culinarily unenlightened travelers passing by outside. And which also allow music from the grand piano nearby the restaurant in the concourse to filter in.
This is the dining room as you walk in, sushi bar to the left...
A closer view of the sushi bar, showing the lovely Cherokee marble...

And the good old non-sushi liquor bar...did I mention they have a very good bar at One Flew South? This is the portion of the room where the bar is located, the bar itself is to the left of this view...

The bar itself is gorgeous and inviting, but I did not take a photo of it during my visit because I could never find it unoccupied. You see, I have a STRONG principle involving the privacy of bar patrons. Just not the thing to snap a shot of my fellow tipplers in mid-tipple.

Visits to One Flew South on three occasions in the past three months have been uniformly wonderful. To start, they have twenty-nine wines by the glass. A very thoughtful wine list. GREAT barkeeps. Perfect, icy, martinis. Two kinds of Old Fashioned cocktails. The potentially devastating French 75 cocktail. The Gin-Gin Mule. The completely devastating "Jets to Brazil" cocktail made from cachaca. If you have not experienced cachaca, go out and buy a ticket to Atlanta and see what it is all about. You will break out speaking Portuguese even if you don't know Portuguese. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The staff I have encountered at One Flew South in my three visits have been professional, friendly and quick. Essential for the traveler between flights. The menu is wonderful and features, in addition to sushi, various takes on local produce. Puree of carmelized Vidalia onion soup. Augusta, Georgia pumpkin salad. A very nice steak. Thyme roasted pork belly. I have had the onion soup twice, perfection laced with truffle oil surrounding a potato/onion fritter and little potato "dice". The Salmon "hot pot style" features marvelously fresh fish with miso fume and local farmer's market vegetables. A "Kamikaze Roll" of hamachi, tuna and more fabulous salmon features bourbon eel sauce. Yes. BOURBON eel sauce. A culinary masterstroke. Why doesn't every sushi place have bourbon eel sauce? I do not care if bourbon is not indigenous to Japan. They should all have come up with this long, long ago. Finally, the artisanal cheese plate featuring the products of Georgia's own Sweet Grass Dairy is reported to be marvelous according to my intrusional interview with a fellow diner at the next table. They have all of the usual cheese plate accompaniments on this dish, but the cubes of quince jelly [reportedly] go perfectly with the three cheeses provided, as do the house-made crisps and the pistachios chopped into local honey. I recommended a snifter of Pyrat Rum to accompany the cheese plate and it was [reportedly] the perfect companion.

My dining experiences at One Flew South have been nothing short of marvelous. Far superior to my last meal at the "latest hot place" in Atlanta proper. The fact that a restaurant of this caliber has to be sought out in the farthest corner of a huge American airport only adds a delightful surprise.

The very last thing one expects to find in the modern airport is a dining experience which qualifies as fine. And restorative. But in Atlanta, at One Flew South, that is exactly what you will find. Verisimilitude is not needed. Not one little bit.

Photo Credit: All photos from Greenolivemedia.blogspot.com.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Autumn Gifting

Sitting by the huge stone fireplace, the crackling logs in the grate lulled her toward sleep. The crisp of autumn was unusually early this year. Because he was arriving tonight she had dressed carefully. The old blue and white Norwegian sweater. The tan corduroys he always said looked so good walking away. And the boots. They looked rather like the apres-ski boots she bought in Vail that night after he won the downhill race, but they had a thick merino fleece lining that made her feet ever so much warmer. She loved to fold down the tops of her favorite gold metallic pair to make a fleece collar. A package from him arrived the week before with pairs in seven different colors. Along with a copy of his itinerary. And a note..."I couldn't decide which color you would like best, so...". She stared at the fire, sipped liquid dark chocolate laced with Grand Marnier and eagerly awaited the sound of his step on the lodge's front deck...

Historical Note: This is an advertisement for the Whooga Boots Co. from the U.K. I (among numerous others no doubt) was asked by them to do a small piece featuring their products. I hope you enjoy it, and the boots!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Notes From Double Monday

My great friend The Colonel has a saying. Goat-rope. Secret military parlance no doubt. I am not sure what the precise definition is. I suspect it is a connotative sort of word, applicable to a particular state of emotional affairs, rather than a denotative one with a strict dictionary definition.

In any event, I got a good dose of it yesterday when my out of state appointments vaporized just as I was about to board a connecting flight in the Atlanta airport. On the first business travel day after a holiday. A dreaded "double Monday". Leaving me at the airport all day to catch my flight back home. I decided to make notes on a (now useless) boarding pass. They include...

As I walk onto the first airplane, the lady flight attendant says "I love your tie and shirt combination". Must wear this combo more often.

Forgetting your laptop power cord is the first sign of the impending darkness.

My mom drank that diet soda years ago. It was the worst thing I ever put in my mouth up to the age of eight. I'll try one. Not improved.

A petite lady with a large suitcase is struggling to put it into the overhead compartment of the airplane. As I fumble with my lap belt to get up and help her, a boy of about fifteen (fully decked out with ipod and baggy tee shirt) leaps from his seat and comes to her aid. Somebody has a good mom and dad out there. There is hope for us yet.

The heavy set older (even than me) fellow in traditional clothes sitting next to me has an itouch screen saver which is a very pretty woman's lips in hot pink lipstick. It really catches your eye.

During dinner at the airport, the Senior Man at the table of four next to me looks over (after a few martinis....my kind of table) and offers me a job based on my outfit. I tell him he can't afford me. I MUST wear this outfit more often.

I cannot believe that I just had a very good meal in an airport restaurant. I must write a piece for The Epic about this place...

On the evening flight home, I fall asleep as soon as I get into my lap belt. I awaken some time later and the woman sitting next to the window on my right asks somewhat plaintively if she can get out to the aisle. Where she heads in the direction of the restroom. I have no idea how long she has been waiting for me to wake up. I think to myself, "that is SOME lady".

Surprising your family by being home two days early. Priceless.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Look Behind The Curtain

I find it amusing that we never think our parents had any life at all before US. There must be a cosmic reason for this. Probably something to do with the need for a curtain. To preclude view of miscellaneous conduct and events that occurred while we were growing up. Which we have presumably done prior to becoming parents.

A few weeks back, during the apogee of my son's summer holidays we visited a battleship park together. A long, sweltering day spent climbing all over a gigantic war machine. Fascinating and perfect. You should have seen my photo of the room in which the officers took their meals. And my photo of the silver service. You WOULD have seen these photos had I not been the one attempting to take them.

In any event, we finally melted and straggled back to the park snack shop. Where I watched the Future Rock Star consume multiple hamburgers as I merely attempted to rehydrate. We were having a marvelous discussion of the caliber of the guns on board, the compliment of men, the battles she had fought. I do not know why, but I chose that moment to brush the curtain aside just the smallest bit.

ML: I'm going to tell you something that nobody knows.
FRS: [Slowing, but not abating, his burger consumption, eyeing me in a sort of fishy way] Ok...
ML: For a time, when I was your age, I was absolutely convinced that I would command a warship like that one day. That was what I wanted to do more than anything in the world...
FRS: [Freezing in mid-nosh] No kidding? REALLY?
ML: Yes. Absolutely.
FRS: What happened?
ML: Oh, I don't know. I just decided I wanted to do other things.
FRS: [Staring at me as if seeing me for the first time, then refocusing on hamburger 3] That's cool, Dad.

But I do know what happened. My parents announced an unprecidented event. The only vacation we ever took during the summer months. During which we found ourselves in Annapolis, Maryland at the United States Naval Academy. Where I learned that there were no more battleships in active service. And where I was able to observe the new freshman class ("plebes" in Academy parlance) partaking of their summer "orientation" activities. Which seemed to involve a lot of scrubbing huge items with tooth brushes. I learned something very important. That I knew myself just well enough to understand that my inordinate love of Navy officer's uniforms, particularly the Dinner Dress Whites, was not enough to carry me successfully through four years at Annapolis.

So it was, then, that my tour of duty on board a United States Navy battleship consisted of six hours, if you include the time at the snack shop. But the look of amazement on my twelve year old's face when he learned of his father's boyhood seafaring dreams was worth more than all the exotic ports I had imagined I would visit. And, now, the FRS realizes that there are things back there in my past that he does not know. That he may never know. As it should be.

Yet, every so often, I see the Dinner Dress Whites. And I feel that salt air on my face...

Photo: Marlowwhite.com

Friday, September 4, 2009

Next Summer

These are going to have to find their way into my wardrobe. It is too late for this summer. Which is a lucky thing. I have nine months to think about how dapper I will look wearing them. And nine months to save the money to buy them.

Here's to a fantastic Labor Day holiday weekend in the U.S.A., the last relaxation before we start the headlong run to New Year's Eve!!!

Procurement note: Photos and products from Tucker Blair.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Epic Ads: Betty Grable Revisited

Love the black and white. And the pink. Love the logo of the hotel. In and out of the photo. Love the realness and natural beauty of the model. Just like the prototype...

There was only one Betty Grable. But this is a fine tribute. And a perfect ad. From a hotel worthy of the effort...

Expensive. Marvelous. Old school swank. Just my sort of place. Betty and I will see you there...