Dusting Off: The Classic Halloween Costume
- Geoff Rynex
Hopefully you got the clever ones out of your system...
Hopefully you got the clever ones out of your system...
As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown–style. This time around, we’re dusting off bars having just the right amount of people in them.
All of a sudden, late-night television is exciting again. Jimmy Fallon has brought a renewed vigor to The Tonight Show. Stephen Colbert will be taking over for David Letterman later this year. Conan is... still Conan. And while the changing of the guard has been mostly a great thing, there’s still a certain je ne sais quoi these new guys are missing: the look. So, with today’s hosts playing it straight in a monotony of charcoals and navy blues, we’re here to say: it’s time to dust off the Late-Night Sport Coat.
Allow us to elaborate... Herrrre’s Johnny.
“Mr. Churchill, You are drunk.” —Lady Astor
“Yes, Madam. And you are ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober.” —Winston Churchill
A good insult—a really good one—can outlive the person who spoke it. It can outlive us all. And while we at Kempt strive to be lovers and gentlemen/gentlewomen, we recognize that there are times in life when an insult is called for, just as there’s a time for taking someone down a peg with a condescending nickname. It’s an honor thing. And a comedy thing.
Given the state of the modern insult, though (looking at you, guy who says “douchebag” 20 times a day), we think it’s time to brush the cobwebs off some of the affronts of yore.
So what you’ve got here: a guide to the elegant, classic insult.
News flash: Halloween is this Friday.
And you’re probably on the hook for at least one party this weekend—meaning you’re going to have to wear a costume that could very well sacrifice your dignity, or worse: your stylish reputation.
But this wasn’t always so—in fact, there was a day and age when dressing up only required a tuxedo and a mask, demonstrated by one Mr. Frank Sinatra, above.
Now this is the sort of costume party we would attend gladly...»
Sure, you’ve probably walked into your local revivalist cocktail den to find a mustachioed gent chipping away at a large block of ice for someone’s julep or Old Fashioned recently—but there was a time when every home in America had a block of ice in its cold box this time of year.
And that’s something worthy of dusting off.
While there are plenty of times when just a few cloudy cubes from a tray will suffice, we say this: you can do better. Especially because the virtue of many a summer cocktail depends on its ice. Luckily, ice blocks aren’t that tough to make at home, or break down to cubes, spheres, cones and more as long as you know what you’re doing.
Allow us to show you the way...»
At some point in the past, before there were terms like “polar vortex,” a man would rise on an exceedingly frigid day, survey the cold and forbidding landscape before him and then reach for the thickest wool pelt in his coat closet as he headed outdoors.
Wearing a fur coat was not only the best way to stay warm, it was the most elegant.
But somewhere along the line, possibly circa 1980, a man wearing a fur coat became an egregious affectation—no longer a simple matter of staying warm. And even more recently, it would seem that the tradition has fallen off almost entirely, even with older ladies and the less savory crowd it’s usually associated with. Perhaps that’s a good thing, because we’re making the case for a revival of gentlemen in fur coats. Especially with all of the puffy synthetic outerwear thick on the ground this time of year, we wouldn’t mind seeing a return to a more graceful way of staying warm.
And if the Princeton man above isn’t inspiration enough, we’ve got a few style icons wearing fur who’ll show you how it’s done...»
“You have reached the voice mailbox of five... one... four... six... Leave a message at the... To leave a callback number, press five.”
Lately, we’ve realized we spend about as much time on the line with female voice font number 154 as we did with Sir Moviefone in the late ’90s. And you know what? It sucks.
Gone are the days where an eighth unanswered ring was followed by a bite-size sound treat tuned to the melody of “We Will Rock You” or “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen was huge among influential answering machine circles).
It’s high time we made those 15 to 30 seconds before the beep personal again.
Herewith: the dos and don’ts for achieving message box glory.»
The following is taken from the current interior monologue of a Kempt contributor:
“Jesus Christ, it’s humid out there. I’ve sweat through my shirt. I look like one of those basketball coaches on the sidelines when he takes off his jacket. Jesus Christ. Why don’t I keep a spare shirt at the office? Smart guys did that back in the day. Don Draper. William Hurt in Broadcast News. Why don’t I do that? Jesus H. Fucking Christ.”
After the jump, an artist’s rendering of our contributor’s current state:»
Countless devices have become obsolete since the advent of the digital age, but one of the most overlooked casualties has to be the pneumatic tube.
It went the way of the telegram decades ago (you’ll still find a few intact tube systems here or there—in a Midwestern packing plant or an old airport terminal—but even those are rarely used nowadays). This was the instant messenger that predated AOL by a century, thanks to some Industrial Age ingenuity and a giant air compressor. And we think it needs to make a comeback.
A case for dusting off the pneumatic tube.»
On this day 125 years ago, a poem by the name of “Casey at the Bat” appeared in The San Francisco Examiner.
Which reminds us of the lost art of the newspaper poem: just a few timely words, tied to the pop culture of the day and not as flowery or abstract as we typically regard poetry these days.
And here’s why we think it’s something worth dusting off.»
Travolta and Newton-John in Grease. Swayze and Grey in Dirty Dancing. Peck and Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Hell, basically any pair of characters in Wet Hot American Summer.
With the sheer volume of steamy summer romance we find in pop culture, you’d think we’d all be bumping uglies the second the temperature peaks above 70.
It would seem that falling madly in love with a stranger was totally acceptable—as long as it began and ended within the confines of June and August, on break from school, of course. Then we’re to believe that once your mandated summer breaks are a thing of the past, so are your chances for a casually balmy two months of abbreviated love.
But we don’t think that has to be, and here’s why...»
Humans have always been fascinated with our astonishingly close evolutionary link to monkeys—the smartest of which have been known to fashion rudimentary tools and learn sign language.
And, most impressive of all: act in major Hollywood films.
So, in our effort to dust off the chimp movie, we ponder the demise of the great movie genre and present some of the more impressive simian performances on film.»
At some point in the past, when a man wanted to manicure his small patch of land, he wouldn’t reach for a gas-powered contraption. He’d reach for something that could do the trick just as well, thanks to a little elbow grease and ingenuity: a push reel mower.
Technically, push reel mowers never left—you can find a surprisingly modernized one here—but they haven’t been popular since the days your granddad was mowing lawns for summer cash. And nowadays the only time you might even come across one is in the assortment of well-placed rusty props leaning in the corner of your favorite faux-mercantile café.
But they’re a viable option for today’s modern lawn-mowing man. Allow us to explain why they deserve a good dusting-off.»