October 30, 2013
One Up! + C&B = 100 x Fun.
Stopped by our local Crate & Barrel store to check out their "Gifts We Love" table. We love them too!
October 23, 2013
I like words.
I was on the Letters of Note website this morning, and found this gem, taken from the book Dear Wit:
When copywriter Robert Pirosh landed in Hollywood in 1934, eager to become a screenwriter, he wrote and sent the following letter to all the directors, producers, and studio executives he could think of. The approach worked, and after securing three interviews he took a job as a junior writer with MGM.
Pirosh went on to write for the Marx Brothers, and in 1949 won an Academy Award for his Battleground script.
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave "V" words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land's-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
October 1, 2013
Woo Poo U.
Change of uniform at West Point today...
If you want to read a "Good to Great" article about leadership from someone not new to the field, check out The Re-Education of Jim Collins.
May 23, 2013
Old's Cool II.
Judy Cox sent in this photo of her and her best friend Sally.
March 25, 2013
Back of the hand.
Old's Cool Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is the real deal — went the other day and stopped in at one of my favorite places, Teitel Brothers. My wife's family has been buying stuff there for almost 100 years. Same people, different generation. They still add up your purchases on the back of a paper bag, by hand. Not a computer, calculator, cell phone to be seen in the place. Ecco fatto.
Photo by Steph Goralnick
January 22, 2013
Imagine you are a 19 year old new army recruit in the middle of basic training (if you are not one already) — tired, cold, homesick — sitting down to breakfast in the dark and dimly perceiving an amorphous, chunky, white-ish, hot glop of something on your plate. A small smile of recognition crosses your face. Shit on a Shingle!
If you've never been in the military, please disregard the enthusiasm in the first paragraph. Shit on a.. er, Creamed Chip Beef on Toast is as easy to make as it is delicious and filling. I served it to my in-laws on Christmas morning, in mess kits for full effect, to initial puzzled looks but eventually general acclaim. Even my wife's great uncle Dick, who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, chimed in with "Ah, foreskins on toast!"
Here's the simple recipe:
1 (2 ounce) package chipped beef
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
ground pepper to taste
If you can't find chipped beef, you can use regular beef, ham, or even hamburger.
Cut beef into ribbons or small chunks.
Melt butter in pan on medium heat.
Whisk in flour.
Slowly add milk, stirring constantly.
Bring to simmer and add beef. Pepper to taste.
Simmer for five more minutes.
Serve over toast.
November 29, 2012
Pull up to the Bumper, Baby Contest
Wuddup brain unit — do you think you have the best ever clever way with words? Well, here's your chance to prove it. Our Pull up to the Bumper, Baby Contest going on this week should be a piece of cake for your talent level, and the simple rules are simple: create an original and it goes without saying, clever bumper sticker, like: "BA + 2NA = BANANA", or "AESTHETICS > ETHICS" and send it to us by Friday 12/7. It can be political, or politically-incorrect, but let's make sure we keep the party polite, people. Winner will see his or her (hopefully) witty apercu become an actual bumper sticker; second best gets any genius Oneupmanship product of their own choosing.
Hurry up and email your magnificent stab to us asap! One entry per person. Please include all of your contact information. Good luck.
November 24, 2012
Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio
By James Wright
In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.
All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.
Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.
November 14, 2012
We're poetical, not political over here at Oneupmanship, but I just wanted to share a quote from Alexis de Tocqueville's classic Democracy in America, written in 1835:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years."
"Great nations rise and fall. The people go from bondage to spiritual truth, to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back again to bondage."
UPDATE: I'm being told that the above quotes are not by Alexis de Tocqueville, but are frequently misattributed to him. The first quote, referred to as "Why Democracy Fails", is usually credited to a Scotsman named Alexander Tytler, or, at other times, to Benjamin Disraeli. The second quote, often titled "The Fatal Sequence, has been traced back to Henning Webb Prentis, Jr., President of the Armstrong Cork Company, in a speech he gave on March 18, 1943 to the National Conference Board.
November 5, 2012
"Dare to be wise; Begin! he who defies the hour of living well is like the clown waiting till the river shall have flowed out: But the river still flows, and will run on, with constant course, to ages without end."
Which is a roundabout way of saying we're back in the saddle, ladies and gentlemen.
November 3, 2012
... the aurora is rising behind us/The pier lights our carnival life forever. Great song, but I'm digressing again. What else is new? Anyway, we've been powerless for the past 6 days, and just got re-hooked up yesterday. We promise to be back to our usual recalcitrant selves by Monday. Thanks for your impatience — makes us feel like you really miss us!
August 24, 2012
One Up! got a great write-up in Redbook magazine's special Kidbook supplement — which hit the newsstands today. Thanks a bunch, Ashley, and your fab staff too.
October 17, 2012
I was standing alone in giant ignorance I mean talking to this guy at a football game recently and he asked me what I did for a living. I said I made stuff. He asked what kind of stuff, and I said "attic salt." He said he had never heard of it, what did it taste like? Sweet! I replied. Hmm was all he said. Hmm indeed.
September 28, 2012
A piano player in a whorehouse.
Or so Robert Hughes once likened the critic. This isn't meant to be a political statement, but what has happened to the razor-sharp and erudite skirmishers, titanic maulers who never winced or pulled punches? Replaced by shrill idiots and hypocritical and hyperventilating buffoons and tin-penny megalomaniacs. This quote from Kenneth Tynan, still craving the thrust and parry of a world we are losing, or have lost, could just as well be our creed: "Rouse tempers, goad and lacerate, raise whirlwinds."
Which, I don't know why, reminds me of John Keats:
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Excuse me a few more random thoughts — it's my blog.
September 5, 2012
Don't take history for Granted.
I've been reading U.S. Grant's autobiography, and would have to say that along with Benjamin Franklin's, Montaigne's, and Marcus Aurelius's you've got just about all the knowledge and inspiration you'd need to live an excellent life x 10 right there. As an aside, someone once told me that a man's education would be judged adequate if, being the last human left on earth and all of the books and libraries destroyed, he could recreate human knowledge, from memory, to the extent it existed at his time in history. Maybe it was Goethe? In other words, could you give a fair and accurate approximation of the level of intelligence and understanding of the world as it exists today? History, culture, technology, music, art, science, the universe, countries, language, and everything else? Good question.
But I digress. I really just wanted to throw out this quote from Grant, since most people think he's dry as a bone, which he is, describing the conduct of a subordinate: "His impudence was so sublime I was amused rather than indignant." That's the kind of terrific and original insult we'd love to have hurled at us!
I then went from Grant to brushing up on the Civil War, specifically the Battle of Shiloh, and then somehow to the Emancipation Proclamation, which if I remember correctly was a punitive Executive Order freeing slaves in some of the rebel states that had seceded from the Union (I can't remember which), and only in those states. My friend Wertin then reminded of a quote we saw on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington when were visiting D.C. together a few years back. It's literally carved in stone:
"If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. . . . I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."
Random brain offal for thought.
September 5, 2012
"We should tackle reality in a slightly jokey way, otherwise we miss its point."
— Lawrence Durrell, novelist, poet, and playwright (1912-1990)
August 20, 2012
Everything under the son.
Our old friend Bill Thayer (with his son Grant), who was the coolest dude in high school, sent us a picture this morning that proves he's still got it going on.
August 19, 2012
There is hope for this country after all.
Got an email yesterday from a job seeker, and offer it without comment, except to say that we could not be more impressed, and charmed:
Hey people! Have you ever hired someone who ends up being lame and sucks at working? Well I am 100% certain that I have the cure for that! You can hire me, a super awesome, spunky high school student, who can fill any job position, anywhere! Deciding on who to hire for your totally awesome business can be a struggle, so I have been put on this earth to end your suffering! Shall we look at some of my skills hmmm?
1. Super crazy fast typer. I can type and type and type for days! I am not like those other lame people who use two fingers to type, I use all 10 of my fingers to get the job done quickly!
2. I can answer any phone, day or night, rain or shine! I love being polite to even the meanest people! Mean people don't stand a chance against my niceness.
3. I have major multitasking skills. I am a woman. We are scary good at multitasking.
4. I am a woman.
5. I don't do drugs. That is always a plus.
6. I am young. Old people don't have the stamina that I do. And college kids are lame and obnoxious. I actually want a job, I am not just getting one because its necessary. So that's basically a sure promise that I will work harder than anyone on this planet.
7. I am punctual. I have never been late for anything. Ever. If you don't believe me, invite me in for an interview. I will be 5 minutes early.
8. Unlike most people my age, I am incredibly professional. I know how to work with people. I am a peoples-person.
9. I have no previous job experience. This means I won't be jaded about having a job. I don't know what having a job feels like so I won't act like I know everything! I am not some snobby teenager that will complain about everything.
10. I am a fast learner and I don't complain. I could be a model or be a dishwasher. Totally doesn't matter! I will always strive to be outstanding in my field.
Now that you have read my skills you should have a pretty clear idea of what I am capable of doing. Which would be pretty much everything. Now I would type more and tell you my story and all of the places I have volunteered at or the name of my cat, but I am not a time-waster. You should have decided by now that I am pretty much the most capable person for your job and are on your way to hiring the best person for your team. I have no formal training, so you could put my in any type of job and I would be awesome in it! Who needs formal training when you have LIFE training. Call me up for an interview because I really need to save up for a '67 mustang in black or my gap year to Europe. Did I mention I can speak German? I won't disappoint you!
Thank you for your time, future employer!
June 18, 2012
Fun Up! your summer.
All the summer fun lists are out and they seem to be the same slightly soggy mush as last year. Throw them away. I'm going to give you 6 crazy/cool things to do with your kids and their friends that they'll actually get a kick out of, and motorbiking isn't one of them... I'll tell you why another time.
1.) Woof, woof. Take them to a dog race. I'm not kidding — it's fun as hell. Apache Greyhound Park in Bridgeport if you live around here; Raynham Park or Wonderland if you live in Massachusetts.
2.) Animal Night. Invite a bunch of friends over for an outdoor dinner (preferably something messy like lasagna) and forget about knives and forks. Eat with your hands. For dessert, we always have a cake-eating contest. Buy 2 cakes, cut one up into even slices, put on plates and then at the word GO! everyone eats without utensils AND without hands. First one finished wins the second cake.
3.) Clamming. Go down to your local seaside town hall (in our case Westport), and get a clamming license ($20 or so). Buy a clamming rake and basket (around $40). Check the tide charts. When low, go out on the flats and dig for clams. After your basket's full, sit on the beach (with a beer) and shuck everything right there. Spritz with fresh lemon. Wonder what the poor people are doing.
4.) Trapped. Pahquioque is a mouthful, but it's actually a very kid friendly and totally professional and safe environment for blasting clay pigeons out of the sky. They're located on Wooster Mountain in Danbury and are open to the public on Tuesdays. Show your kids how tame and lame video games really are.
5.) Trotters. The last time I went to Yonkers Raceway not so many years ago to see the harness racing, there was also a state fair parked right next door with everything I hate to love: bumper cars, tractor pull, greased pig contest, and fried dough. And that night Cheap Trick played a concert — talk about a trifecta! Yes, Yonkers is a total fun hoot for everyone. Go on a Friday or Saturday evening in the summer and you'll leave with a good bad taste in your mouth.
6.) Angling. I was at the Ridgefield Dunkin' Donuts on Route 7 last Wednesday at 2 in the afternoon picking up cupcakes for my daughter's class party and it was so packed I had to park around back. As I was getting back into the car with a million dollars worth of confection, I saw a guy standing in the woods holding a can of corn. I went over to see what he was up to and he was waist-deep in a small stream that ran behind the building (which I never knew even existed) putting the kernels on a fish hook. I thought it takes all kinds. But as I got closer I saw he had a bucketful of beautiful trout. I went right down and got a license, 4 cheap all-included rods/reels at Fisherman's World in Norwalk and stepped the kids inside another time.
We've added 4 more >
June 15, 2012
I had written a very infrequent blog a few years ago called "Fatherhood in Fifty" which was basically 50-word (or fewer) snippets from my life as a doormat husband, that were so priceless and classic you know I couldn't have made them up. I initially got the idea from the emails I sent to my dad while the kids were all in diapers, and then continued because they were so cathartic and comical, on the re-reading of course.
I always started out the email with "Dad, it's bad..." and then went on to relate the latest funny/unfunny happening, usually with a punchline that was mostly unintentionally very clever, and kind of existential at the same time. To give you an example, here's one of my favorites:
Cate (4-years old) and I are riding in the car, on the way to school, or Dunkin' Donuts.
Cate: Dad, do you want to play the body-parts rhyming game?
Cate: Ok, you start.
Me: Good one Cate! Your turn.
Cate (deadpan): Tasshole.
I'm not making this stuff up. I wish I could — then I'd go to Hollywood and rake it in. Seriously, I've had several people ask me to reprise the series, so since I'm half a century old I'll rename it "Fatherhood at Fifty". When I told a friend about it he said I should call it "Dadtard". Haven't decided yet, but here's the first one:
The kids are home from school having a snack when Neuman (my 7-year old son) asks me, out of the blue:
Neuman: Dad, what's your favorite animal?
Me: What's yours Neuman?
Neuman: I love tigers. They are strong and friendly. What's yours dad?
Me: Your mother.
Neuman: She's not an animal!
Me: Oh yes she is, Neuman, yes she is.
And then there's this gem, which just happened last week:
I'm in the kitchen washing the dishes while my wife and daughter Jane are watching a movie on the computer.
Jane: Mom, why aren't you watching the movie?
Wife: I'm looking at your father.
Jane, looking at me, and then back at her mom: Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth.
Read more Dadtardation >
June 1, 2012
You can stop holding your breath now.
We've finally upped our standards... up yours! Seriously, we've added some new monographs to The Official Uppity Handbook, and are progressing as recklessly as possible with the ONEUPMANSHIP prototype (see The Peter Principle). Have a look around and let us know what you think.
Share on facebook | Nice, nice baby
April 26, 2012
Saw an article about the America's Cup yesterday, and it reminded me of a story my friend Randy Franken told me many years ago. He was working on Ted Turner's 1977 America's Cup campaign, and they were bringing Courageous on a huge tractor-trailer rig to the New York Boat Show to exhibit her and help raise funds.
They got off the George Washington Bridge and had to drive through the streets of New York City because they weren't allowed on the West Side Highway. Randy was out in the street directing the driver of the truck around a particularly tricky turn in Harlem, and the enormous gorgeous yacht was slowly, slowly inching around the corner. There were two elderly gentlemen sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk watching as it came into view, when one turned to the other and said, straight-faced: "I told you I wanted my boat delivered YESTERDAY."
True story. My man Randy's gone, but I still smile every time I think of him.
Share on facebook | Armchair sailors please chime in
April 16, 2012
I was watching Mulholland Drive the other night and thought I would rerun this post from May 10, 2010:
Took the kids to a real film set yesterday — an old friend of mine was producing a movie starring Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts—so we skipped school and went Hollywood. John Penotti is President of GreeneStreet Films
and has helmed some pretty heavy-duty stuff: Prairie Home Companion, In the Bedroom, Uptown Girls and Swimfan to name a few. In the end, we had a lot of fun in the sun, met some really cool people, and learned a lot—isn't that what life's all about?
Speaking of endings, we were talking about our favorite final film scenes of all time with one of the gaffers and came up with this short list:
1. Planet of the Apes
2. The Verdict
4. Iron Man
5. Easy Rider
Why don't you send in your pick for Best Ending Ever and we'll choose one at random to receive a game of One Up!
Share on Facebook | For your consideration...
April 10, 2012
We pride ourselves on being 100% Made in the USA, and have tried our best to have all of our products do justice to our great nation. From the very beginning, we have used American Apparel for all of our Uppityshirts, and have been happy with the mutually-beneficial relationship. Several things have happened at American Apparel recently, however, which have made us rethink our position, and we've decided to start using the top-of-the-line Fruit of the Loom t-shirts instead.
April 3, 2012
I was talking with an editor friend the other day and he mentioned something about Fairfield County Ladies, in passing, and it reminded me of one of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings:
the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls
are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds
(also, with the church's protestant blessings
daughters, unscented shapeless spirited)
they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead,
are invariably interested in so many things—
at the present writing one still finds
delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles?
perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy
scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D
... the Cambridge ladies do not care, above
Cambridge if sometimes in its box of
sky lavender and cornerless, the
moon rattles like a fragment of angry candy
Share on Facebook | here's my e.e. fave
March 25, 2012
And the winner is... Ben Dover.
Seriously, we got a huge response and a lot of funny stuff, but Mike C. from Franklin, Massachusetts wins hands-down with this instant, slightly ribald classic:
Mianus, CT: Proctologists
Congrats, Mike, and thanks to everyone who sent in their fun but futile attempts! Stay tuned for more brain wave surfing, coming soon.
UPDATE: We've gotten so many cool entries, past the post so-to-speak, but wanted to include them anyway.
Betty Cummings from Alligator Point, FL sent in this beaut—
Washington, DC: Snollygosters
Graham Houghton, an archeologist and writer from Australia sent in these—
Darwin, Northern Territory: Throwbacks
Taunton, Somerset, UK: Teasers
Goole, UK: Nightmares
Share on Facebook | I'd still like to enter anyway...
1st Day of Spring, 2012
Thought we'd have another contest, this time to come up with clever and original sports names, for real (or fictional) teams. I always liked the Purdue Boilermakers, and the Batavia Muckdogs. I also liked the Pekin, Illinois "Chinks" but we want to keep the party polite, people. Here are some ideas off the top of my head to get the synapses firing:
Lyme, Connecticut: The Disease
Greenwich, Connecticut: Bluebloods
Weston, Connecticut: The Front
Odin, Illinois: Rainmakers
Weston, Massachusetts: Wasps
Best entry gets 2 genius Uppityshirts of their own choosing.
Share on Facebook | Here's my awesome attempt...
March 2, 2012
The Winter of our Discount Tent.
Sent in by Joe E. Boy, Spencer, NC
"Cooper and I have been grabbing a quick nap every once in a while in the woods out back on February afternoons 'made glorious summer by this sun...' Eleven bucks for the rain fly and hammock at a yard sale." Doesn't get any better.
February 16, 2012
Byzantium New York City.
I'm not usually caught with my pants down, not intentionally anyway, but there I was with them around my ankles in the middle of the night on a deserted island when I heard it. Imagine an infuriated bull gnu snorting into a megaphone. I wheeled around incredulous, but then I heard it again. It was so loud I had to laugh. Gored to death on a desolate beach without any pants on — the comic possibilities were endless!
Read the rest of the article >
December 27, 2011
"Look, Chadwick, a manual for us."
We'd like to start this product launch off with a big-name quote, which we're probably going to mangle a little bit, but Shopenhauer said something like "We often mistake the limits of our vision for the limits of the world." The Official Uppity Handbook is not a book per se, but will be an on-going attempt to broaden our horizons, and maybe even teach a practical thing or two, while having fun and showing our usual cheek in a how-to sort of way.
Recalcitrance doesn't come with instructions, and is more nuance and attitude than step-by-step, but we're going to give you our impish spin on it.
Seriously, some of the stuff we're planning on showing you is pretty technical and assumes a certain level of basic education and general intelligence, so before you read on you should have at least a layman's understanding of at minimum four of the following:
Xeno's Paradox; the root cause of the War of 1812; the difference between dative and ablative (in Latin); spankers, gennys and spinnakers; how to calculate the speed of light using only a microwave oven and a kitchen timer; and, finally, 3 reasons why someone like Friedrich Schwinge preferred painting with gouache rather than water color when doing landscapes, for example—otherwise, you might feel slightly... inadequate. And you should.
Without further ado:
Brain surgery is not... rocket science.
(To start off parenthetically with an aside, brain surgery is not rocket science. That doesn't mean it's a piece of cake, but it's not like you're trying to send someone to the dark side of the moon and back or anything.)
First thing you're going to need is a patient. Preferably one with a brain tumor. If you can't find one with an actual tumor, find someone you don't like, or who's dumb anyway in case something goes wrong. As an aikido teacher I read about once very succinctly put it: sometimes you have to waste a guy to restore harmony to the situation.