Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ultimate Impromptu Weekender - with Options

Summer, sadly, is winding down. As the last long weekend of the sultry season looms, The Good Guy offers this outline of one last perfectly impetuous getaway.

Start with a destination, easily attainable. Remember that friend with the lake house (Option - beach house or weekend country home) who is always telling you to “Just drop by anytime, we’re there every weekend?” Time to take them up on it. No need to even call in advance, as long as the invitation was proffered in earnest. Trust me on this one – the lost art of the drop in, long forgotten in this day of instant, constant cellular communication, is an art nonetheless. However, be prepared to turn your overnight plans into a day trip if all accommodations are already spoken for by family and other friends seeking similar refuge. Thus, a destination within an easy and enjoyable 1 to 2 hour drive is highly recommended.

Once your destination is determined, grab your essentials and go - the essentials in this case consisting primarily of a change of clothes. Opt for simplicity and flexibility. Pair Levi’s recently reintroduced 201 jeans in selvage denim (Option – Billy Reid trousers in cotton twill or linen) with a Hamilton 1883 linen pullover (Option – Tupelo Grease Co. vintage soft tee). Finish this perfectly casual collection with a splash of color by sporting Ralph Lauren’s Tameron driver (Option – Converse All-Stars in original white). Assuming your destination affords the opportunity to beat the heat by immersing one’s self, toss in a pair of Original Penguin trunks (Option – Vilebrequin) whose classic cut and shorter inseam will perfectly accentuate the toned and tan physic you’ve undoubtedly spent the last several weeks perfecting. (Option – you’ll make some headway in reducing the golfer’s tan you’ve probably spent all summer reinforcing.) Reduce the glare off of the water, and disguise any unavoidable sideways glances at your host’s co-ed niece, visiting with sorority sisters for the weekend, behind a pair of Oliver Peoples Patton aviators (Option – Rayban Outdoorsman). Toss this collection, along with your dopp kit, into your Marc Jacobs leather duffle (Option – Jon Hart Design) and hit the road for more relaxing climes.

Speaking off hitting the road, enjoy the trip immensely while cutting a dashing and unique figure on the interstate by tossing that duffle into the shotgun seat of Porsche’s 2011 Boxter Spyder, an upgraded-on-all-points version of the venerable automaker’s most affordable option, now much more stylishly re-imagined with an obvious nod to it’s vintage brothers. (Option – early 1970’s Ford Bronco, with the hard top permanently removed.) Turn off your cell phone, turn up The Black Keys Brothers (Option – all of the Reckless Kelly on your ITunes) and let the wind in your hair and the sun on your face work away the stress like a $200 an hour, strong-handed Swedish masseuse.

Remember, no self-respecting Good Guy shows up empty-handed. For your hostess, a bottle of Patz&Hall chardonnay, perfect for pairing with fresh fish and crisp veggies from the grill (Option – Rombauer.) For your host, a handful of H. Upmann torpedos, to be shared over neat glasses of Highland Park 12 year old scotch and several games of Gin at a nickel a point, quarter a box. (Option – the aforementioned Highland Park.)

Inevitably, the evening must come to a close, probably before you are ready to call it a night. After the others have retired to their respective quarters, finish that last glass and close out an excellent evening with a few chapter of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom (Option – Steig Larrson.)

To insure that your impromptu drop-in is appreciated by your hosts, rise early (ish) and get a head start on preparing breakfast – a simple spread of mimosas and fresh fruit will suffice, while eggs scrambled with fresh herbs and cheese, accompanied by crisp bacon, sliced tomatoes and avocados will leave a more lasing impression but require more clean-up.

Afterwards, simply make your goodbyes and hit the road early enough to ensure you haven’t overstayed your welcome. If you’ve done everything correctly, you’ll probably be back within a few weeks anyway.

As always, The Good Guy, pleased at the proposition of a few more weeks of summer but looking forward to cooler weather as well, welcomes your feedback.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Made in The Shades

Summer may be just about half way over, but that really means there’s at least another month and a half of beach trips, pool parties and patios in store for us all. And let’s face it, that hot god of a sun isn’t going to stop blasting us with it’s rays just because the calendar says the fall equinox is upon us. A solidly stylish pair of shades is a year 'round must, and this week The Good Guy weighs in with our pick of the best shades of summer 2010 – so far.

Anyone familiar with The Good Guy, and what it means to be one, is surely aware that trends may come and go, but true and lasting style is a precious and all-too-rare commodity. It’s true in every facet of fashion, and sunglasses are no exception. Our selection of the best Men’s Sunglasses of Summer 2010 is a testament to the durability of good taste, and in the lexicon of sunshade style, the classic aviator design stands tall to this day.

Revered for their adherence to “form follows function,” their traditional, time-honored simplicity receives a few subtle updates this season, from Tom Ford's Peter design, to the variety a materials and shapes in the latest Oliver Peoples collection. For our money (and literally, for the money) we still return to Ray Ban. With possibly the widest selection of aviator styles available, we laud the venerable Outdoorsman, whose shock-absorbing cross-bar and fully curved ear pieces make them equally suitable for big-game fishing off the coast, a day on the links or a simple, mojito supplemented sunset.

To update your look while sticking to a time-tested look with a little more flair, try Dior Homme’s tortoiseshell take on the aviator. With a nod to 70’s style, their gradient lenses fade to blunt the brightest rays while affording you a below radar peek at passing bikini bottoms. Departing from the aviator look altogether but still retaining more than a dash of retro cool are Burberry’s acrylic two-tone frames, adding interest and intrigue to afternoon and evening looks.

Taking retro style one super step forward (and back) is upstart brand Retro Super Future. Their hipper-than-thou W series, with more than a hint of ultra-mod, are the perfect for pairing with European cut clothing, or the now seemingly ubiquitous fedora. The colorful accents of their slimmer than typical take on the original wayfarer look will draw attention in a positive way those orange-tinted, reflective-framed, wraparound Oakley’s never will. We are looking directly at you NASCAR nation (but not you Richard Petty, you are still and truly the King).

As always, The Good Guy, secure behind the darkness of our polarized lenses, welcomes your feedback.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dog Days Drinks

With Historical References, I might add...

The dog days of summer are definitely upon us, when scorching hot days and simmering, sultry nights call for crisp linens, afternoons spent at the coast or poolside and evenings on a patio with a breeze, and of course, a cool refreshing cocktail in hand.

The Good Guy has dragged himself from a chaise lounge to give you the low down on a handful of classic summertime cocktails, sure to ease the oppression of the summer sun’s rays. And I’ve thrown in a little anecdotal history with which you can regale your friends as you mix, pour and consume them.

The Margarita

Probably the most famous and most copiously consumed of the summertime cocktails is the margarita. Although stories of its inception vary in many ways, they invariably reference a bartender in the early 1940’s, typically in Mexico City or Tijuana, who created the libation as a tribute to a woman named Margarita – possibly Rita Hayworth, whose real name was Margarita Cansino. It gained national acclaim and popularity when Esquire magazine named The Margarita Cocktail its "Drink of the Month" in December 1953.

The Good Guy eschews today’s frozen, mass-manufactured recipes for this classic combination.
• Two parts Patron Silver tequila
• Half part Cointreau or Grand Marnier, or substitute with a couple of dashes of orange bitters for an even less sweet version
• One part fresh lime juice.
Combine and shake, pour over cracked ice into glass with salted rim.

And here’s another simple, unique favorite I often employ, especially poolside.
1 Part Tequila (almost any brand will do in this situation)
1 Part Frozen Limeade
1 Part Lemon Lime Soda
1 Part Beer (yep, Beer. I use Negra Modelo, but any Mexican brand, dark or light, will suffice)
Stir it all together in a pitcher and pour over cracked ice into a glass with a slated rim. Trust me on this one – incredibly simple and surprisingly refreshing.

Gin and Tonic
The Gin and Tonic, often referred to as a G&T, was introduced by the British East India Company in India in the 18th century. Tonic water contains quinine, which was used to prevent malaria. Because the tonic water of the period was extremely strong, making it taste very bitter, gin was added to make it more palatable. The bitter flavor of quinine complements the green Juniper notes of gin, much as dry vermouth complements the gin in a classic martini. Although tonic water today has less medical use, this classic concoction has remained a popular drink, particularly in the warmer climes.

A simple drink, and often an acquired taste, don’t over-think it.
1 part Tanqueray Gin
2 parts Tonic Water
Over cracked ice with a lime wedge

The Daiquiri
Technically, the Daiquiri can refer to any of a family of cocktails whose main ingredients are rum, lime juice, and sugar or other sweetener. While any reference to the drink today probably calls to mind the frozen, fruity, paper umbrella-embellished monstrosities that no self-respecting Good Guy would be caught sipping, the original Daiquiri boasts one of the most manly pedigrees of any cocktail. Invented in the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba near the turn of the 20th century, it was introduced a decade later to the Army and Navy Club in Washington D.C. by an Admiral who had enjoyed the drink in Cuba. It’s popularity grew steadily over the next several decades, reaching it’s peak in the 1940’s when it was a favorite of both John F. Kennedy and Ernest Hemmingway. You can’t get much more Good Guy than that.

1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 2 limes
3 ounces of 10 Cane Rum
Stir vigorously with cracked ice and strain into a chilled, stemmed glass.

The Vodka Press or The Presbyterian
The story behind this drink is that non-drinking Presbyterians , tired of being derided for their tee-totaling ways, would mix equal parts of Club Soda and Ginger Ale in a highball glass, to mimic the look of the days most popular drink, 7&7. Over time, the refreshing nature of the drink, though not its non-alcoholic attribute, caught on and Rye whiskey was added, creating the original Rye Presbyterian, or Rye Press. Today the Vodka Press is a more popular, though often overlooked evolution of the same drink, and a refreshing alternative to the standard Vodka and Tonic or Vodka and Soda.

1.5 ounces vodka of choice
(The Good Guy humbly suggest the under-priced and underrated Monopolowa)
1 part club soda
1 lemon lime soda
Lime Wedge

An Ice Cold Beer
Seriously, what is better on a hot summer day than an ice-cold beer? Whether at the beach, the pool, the golf course or as reward from an afternoon of yard work, or any other excuse you create in order to enjoy a tall frosty one, there’s simply nothing more versatile, portable, affordable and refreshing than a cold brew – or 6.

In the summer months, stick to the lighter brands, and look south of the border for something to combine with a juicy lime wedge – Corona, Dos Equis, Sol, Pacifico and Tecate are all popular choices. The Good Guy prefers Carta Blanca, or the darker Negra Modelo when indoors. Or, pour a cool Blue Moon into a chilled pint glass and add a healthy sized slice of orange for a citrusy, wheaty diversion. (I’d be remiss here if I didn’t mention my personal favorite, St. Arnold’s amber. Not the lightest of beers, but with the perfect combination or bright and bitter – and packing a bit of a punch.)

So that’s The Good Guy‘s shortlist of summer cocktail classics. As always, The Good Guy welcomes your feedback, so feel free to send your favorite takes on these or other warm-weather favorites, or just put your two sips in.

And one more Cliff Claven-esque anecdote…
In the summer months, Sirius, the “dog star,” rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that the heat of this brightest star, added to the heat of the sun, created a period of increasingly hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, “dog days” after the dog star, not Dogstar, the 1990’s grunge band which included bassist Keanu Reeves and also contributed to the unpleasantness of many a summer evening.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Primer for The Good Guy – Second Installment

More Random Notes on Living Life as A Good Guy

Buy a Suit – I know, but you’d be surprised…
Start with black, with a subtle chalk stripe – good for all occasions. Then, add a summer suit in some shade of khaki. Next grey, then navy, with varying patterns – like a grey glen plaid (redundant, we know) and a subtle windowpane in navy. Pay attention to details like lining and stitching. Stick to classic cuts, professionally fit and tailored, always in 100% wool (Super 120’s or better) – with no more than 3 buttons! With reasonable wear and care, they will last a very long time and you won’t ever have to worry about whether
it’s in style.

Then – buy a Tuxedo. Seriously.

Grow a full beard – once. Then, shave it off.

Learn to Play Poker
I don’t just mean learn the rules, but at least get a working knowledge of the basic strategy. And learn to play more than just the currently uber-popular Texas Hold ‘Em – add Omaha and Seven Card Stud for a reasonably well-rounded repertoire. Stay away from online play – the best part of the game is the interaction between players at the table, in and out of hands. Then, once you’ve gotten good enough that you’re winning regularly, and feel you’re ready to take on the pros – discard that notion immediately!

Start your own business – at least once. Good luck.

Drink Scotch
If you’re not already a scotch drinker, stay tuned and I’ll share a tried and true path to appreciation soon. Suffice it to say for now, a man should be able to enjoy a nice glass of scotch now and then, without grimacing. Cut it with anything from 2 cubes of ice, a splash of water or club soda with a lemon twist to maintain respectability on your part and integrity on the drink’s part. Try several varieties of single malts to settle on the flavor that suits you best. Bt – don’t be snob about it. There’s nothing wrong with a decent blended scotch at weddings, parties – anywhere the bar is open.

Fall in love – as many times as it takes.

Don’t be cheap when it comes to your shoes, and your sheets.

Don’t overspend on neckties or haircuts.

Respect Your Elders – simple enough.

Play an Instrument

The rudimentary ability to play just about any instrument will do wonders for your love life, and even earn you a modicum of respect among your peers, if displayed appropriately. I recommend the acoustic guitar. It’s affordable at the entry level, portable, and much like poker, simple to get a basic feel for, though you will probably never become a truly accomplished player. Start with G, C and D major chords, add E and A, then the E and A minors, and you know have the ability to play literally thousands of songs. Do not then become the guy who breaks it out at every gathering… “I gave my love a cherry…”

Have Convictions.

Be firm in them. And, know when it’s time to adjust them.

As always, The Good Guy – firm in his convictions, still welcomes your feedback.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Passing Time with America’s Pastime

The Major League Baseball season is more than half way through it’s first month, and The Good Guy is here to say that, regardless of your team’s standing, if you haven’t been to a game yet, you are running late.

Baseball, more than any other sport, is a truly American pastime – in fact, it’s nicknamed America’s Pastime, and named right up there on the list of all things American with hot dogs, apple pie and the hulking shell of a once proud symbol of American industrial might. But I digest…

Regardless of your thoughts on the game and it’s players and politics, you owe it to yourself to catch at least a few ball games this season. And if you’re among the uneducated many who claim that baseball is boring, and right alongside golf and grass-growing as one of the least exciting ways to spend and spring or summer evening, let me enlighten you with a few tips guaranteed to make the game go a little faster and draw a little nearer to your heart.

Celebrate The Details
It’s the nuances of the game that make it great, and the more aware of them you are, the more you’ll enjoy the game. Paying attention to things like first pitch strikes, overall pitch count, the history of certain pitcher/batter match-ups, who’s likely to steal and when – those are the tiny tidbits that can and will make the game riveting (OK, at times) to anyone with previously even a passing interest. Don’t have the time or desire to devour enough Sports Center or Baseball America to cram enough of these inane facts into your noggin – not to worry – they pay people to do it for you. And while a casual glance at the jumbotron should give you at least something to gab to your buddies about each at bat, the real pros have so much more to offer. Slip in an ear bud and tune your transistor to your local AM sports coverage for all you’d ever hope to know, and get (typically) top notch stats and color commentary throughout the game. Then, impress those around you with your startling knowledge of the second year utility infielder’s surprisingly high average against left-handed pitchers with men in scoring position after the 7th inning. (Or laugh to yourself hysterically at Milo’s inexplicable verbal listing of a dozen or so fruits he enjoys.)

Really want to delve into the details and get a true old-school understanding and appreciation of the game – keep a scorecard. Don’t know how – check out for instructions and downloadable, printable scorecards.

Change Your Seat to Change Your Perspective

Explore your stadium for new vantage points – and companionship – which may make the game more interesting and enjoyable. If you’re always in the good (read pricey) seats, check out the bleachers one sunny afternoon. A few innings of raucous beer swilling and hot dog scarfing with face-painted and shirtless masses may be just what the doctor ordered. Already a part of the afore mentioned tribe? Splurge for a top-dollar seat right behind the dugout or home plate, close enough to smell the grass and argue balls and strikes so that the ump can actually hear you. Just be aware that certain sections may have time-honored traditions that won’t be changed, and attempts to do so may not be appreciated – go with the flow.

Good Company Makes for a Great Game
While purists may enjoy whiling away an hour or three just enjoying the sights and sounds of the game, The Good Guy knows a little companionship and conversation almost always makes for a more enjoyable experience. The ballpark makes for a great date – though probably not a great first date. If nothing else, it’s a great way to find out who you’re dealing with - a gamer who’s up for anything once, or a diva who demands to be the object of attention at all times. Not into mixing girls into your guy stuff – we hear you. Spending time at the ballpark with your kid, your Dad, or Grandad is one of the greatest traditions of the game, and will give you unparalleled opportunities to gain and share life knowledge. Still not your idea of a great time? Grab 3 buddies and go. When all is said and done, going to a game is just like going to a sports bar, except the action is live.

Baseball on a Budget

Truth be told, attending a baseball is not cheap. With 24-year-old college degree-less kids earning upwards of $10 million a year, (for 6 months work no less) how could it be? However, compared to the same amount of entertainment in another venue, it can still be quite a value. For 2010, the average single ticket price is just under $27. The average cost to take a family of four (parking, 4 tickets, 4 sodas, 4 hot dogs, 2 beers and miscellaneous souvenirs) is estimated to be $195. And while that’s not necessarily chump change, it’s less than the cost of taking that same prototypical family to dinner and a movie, and unequivocally more valuable. Switch the occasion to a date, assume the alcohol consumptions goes up drastically, and it’s still a welcome change of pace from the typical dinner and a movie the current norm – at least for the single set - dinner and drinks, and you still have, if not a bargain, at least not a bad deal. With a group of 4 friends, splurge for the first round, which will probably set you back around $38 with tip, and as long as protocol is followed, you shouldn’t have to buy another round until at least the fifth inning. For the penny pinchers out there, but the third round, and it probably won’t make it back to you until after you leave the park and arrive at your next destination, at which price the average price of beer is typically cut in half. On top of all that, in today’s economy, teams are constantly announcing specials and promotions – subscribe to your teams website to be notified regularly. (Oh yeah, and be glad you’re not a part of The Red Sox nation, whose constituency typically pays closer to $335 for that family 4-pack.)

Games Within the Game

One of my favorite quotes, typically attributed to Ben Hogan, is something along the lines of “There is no activity that could not be made more interesting with the addition of a friendly wager.” My favorite way to spice up a group outing the ballpark is what my friends and family refer to as “The Doubles Game.” At the top of each inning, each participant puts a dollar into a hat or cup, and the pot is passed on every at bat. Whoever is holding the pot when a double is hit, wins it. This can put the holder in the unenviable position of cheering on the opposing team. It can also find you screaming for your guy to hold at second when it’s clear an elusive triple is in the offing. Change it up to drop in a new dollar at every half-inning, or award the pot only if the player recently arrived at second is wearing your home uniform – even punish the pot-holder if the opposing team hits a double while on his watch by having him match the pot! Other groups I’ve joined at times wagered on weather the ball, when thrown back to the mound at the end of an inning, will stay on the mound or roll back to the grass. There are doubtless many more ballpark bets. If you’ve got one, let’s hear it.

Regardless of who you go to the game with, where you sit or what you spend, make a point to do it once a year. If not for yourself, for America.

I’ll leave you with a few random ballpark Do’s and Don’ts.

• Wear a ball cap or a t-shirt with your home team’s logo - especially to an out of town game
• Wear comfortable shoes
• Get a bag of peanuts – from a vendor in the stands, not the concession stand, and have him throw it to you from at least a few rows away.
• Strike up a (friendly) conversation with another fan (of your team or the opponent)
• Stand up for the wave
• Cheer (Charge!)
• Let the ump know when he’s wrong (Boo!)
• Kiss your girl when the “KissCam” is on you

• Wear a ball cap backwards, or any way but forwards (unless of the rally variety)
• Wear a jersey with your name on it - who are you trying to fool?
• Wear a jersey with an actual player’s name on it - who are you trying to fool?
• Wear flip flops
• Be an obnoxious out of town fan
• Bring your glove to the game
• Boo your own team (unless they REALLY deserve it, and maybe not even then)
• Propose to your girlfriend on the jumbotron

For the record, The Good Guy is a die-hard, life-long Astros fan, and makes an effort to go to as many games as possible, but is happy as long as he makes Opening Day and the last home game of the season. As always, the opinions and information above are open to debate and interpretation, so if you disagree within anything said, let’s play ball!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Flirting 101

This isn't the typical post from The Good Guy, but for those of you who asked, here you go...

Recently, CW 39 in Houston asked The Good Guy, accompanied by Houston’s own Dating Diva, Lori Geshay, to share some tips on Flirting, as part of their on-going series Dating 101. If you missed it live, you can still view the segment here.

Of course 3 minutes isn’t a lot of time, so here’s the info we originally provided the producers, based on their questions. Hope you enjoy.

Flirting Tips for Men

Be Yourself
Don’t try to put on a front and be someone you are not. Use your best attributes, such as humor, intelligence, etc., with out showing off. If you aren’t a good match, it’s best to find out now.

Be Confident
Put your best foot forward and be secure in who you are. Know you look your best. Smile and make frequent eye contact. But, know the difference between confidence and arrogance.

Be Respectful
Be polite, never pushy. Persistence is attractive, to a point. A subtle touch can lead to sparks, but don’t be all hands. Don’t flirt with women who are already on dates, and NEVER flirt with other women while you are with one.

Be Sincere
Tell her what you really think – as long as it’s appropriate. However, don’t just agree with everything she says if you don’t mean it. It’s OK to tell a woman you find her attractive, in the right way. However, “You are so hot!” is not the right way to start a conversation.

Be Observant
Notice the little things – eyes, shoes, jewelry, perfume, etc. Listen more than you talk, and above all else – remember her name.

Be Positive
Have only good things to say.

Be Original
She’s heard it ALL before, so stay away from pick-up lines. Don’t compliment her on the obvious – again, be observant and notice the little things.

How to Know When A Woman is Flirting With You

Is she doing any of the things listed above? Ie, eye contact, smiling, compliments, touching or other positive body language.

Quite frankly, if a woman says just about anything positive to you, from “What a beautiful day!” to “I like your shirt.” and displays any of the above behavior, consider that an opportunity to extend the conversation.

FYI - “You’re blocking the TV.” or “I’m just here with my girlfriends.” Is not an open invitation to begin a conversation.

As always, The Good Guy does not claim to be an expert - and moreover, acknowledges that everyone has their own style - so if you have something to add, please do.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Apparently The Good Guy was right on target when we posted our Primer for The Good Guy a little while back.

In Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle’s new book Undateable, reviewed by Greg Morago in The Houston Chronicle this week, they run down a list of traits that will let a woman know right up front just about all she needs to know about a prospective date or mate.

Just a few examples they cited (which The Good Guy already told you were definite Don’ts) include Cell Phones on Your Belt, Crocs, Shaving Your Chest and Sideways Baseball Caps. Items we haven't even had time to get to yet include Soul Patch, Highlights and Taking Your Glove to a Ballgame.

Read Greg’s article for an expanded list of warning signs, or get the complete low-down when you buy the book.

Great job ladies!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Tee Commandments

Spring is here. Your calendar declares it, even as your local weather denies it. Regardless, as warmer weather approaches, bringing with it changes in attitude, style and lifestyle, The Good Guy sees a need to address impending issues, and will begin to do so now, first tackling that most ubiquitous of warm-weather wearables, the t-shirt.

First and foremost, an understanding of its nature and necessity. The short-sleeved t-shirt, or tee, is the most casual item of clothing a man can (or should ever) wear in public, at least on his torso. Tank-tops and shirts with out sleeves should remain the exclusive domain of the 80’s and Nick Lachey. The white, ribbed cotton, sleeveless tank, or “wife-beater,” is called that for a reason, as it’s use as a garment on it’s own has been for decades set aside for the strictly whiskey-tango set, ie. K-Fed, Jersey Shore, et al. But as you are obviously a gentleman of style and distinction, or at least a man with the wherewithal to aspire to be, we shall assume that the basic rules of t-shirtdom are clear to you, and a simple review of the more specific guidelines and perhaps some subtle prodding in the appropriate direction are all that is in order.

How to Wear
To begin with then, let us discuss the appropriate fit. As with any shirt, the sleeve should begin at the outermost edge of the top of the shoulder, not riding closer to the neck nor hanging down over the arm. The short sleeves of a short-sleeved tee should fall somewhere between the middle of the bicep and the bottom of the tricep. Any higher and you risk venturing into capped sleeve land, a strictly feminine (or at least non-masculine) province. Lower, and you lose the opportunity to showcase those upper arms you’ve spent the last several weeks toning in anticipation of boat weather to come. The bottom hem should settle close to two but no more than to three inches below your belt loops. This length insures that, while the midriff is never exposed, except under the most extreme conditions, such as fetching another bottle from the top shelf or a fully-extended frisby grab, you likewise don’t completely cover the upper portion of your lower body – gangster you are not. When in doubt, err on the slightly longer side, plumber’s crack is strictly for plumbers. The general fit should be comfortable, never too baggy, never too tight. A hint for the larger man, who finds that a tee roomy enough to comfortably cover his bulk comes with more than desirable length in the torso and sleeves – your neighborhood tailor will gladly correct that fit for a nominal fee, well worth the investment. And to be fair, a hint to the gym rat who feels that it would be unjust to deprive the opposite sex by not wearing a tee that exposes every detail of his carefully constructed, protein shake-supplemented upper body – it isn’t.

Where to Wear
As discussed, t-shirts are the most casual of casual wear, as evidenced by the fact that occasional overnight guests also consider them sleepwear. Keep that in mind when wondering whether your favorite tee is appropriate attire for a dinner date or night on the town. To make things easy, just assume it probably isn’t. Heed The Good Guy’s words, the days of ultra-casual style, where distressed jeans and over-adorned tees are acceptable social attire are over, whether the stylistically uneducated and unaware acknowledge it or not. Day time outings to the park or patio, sporting events and concerts remain the acceptable atmosphere of the t-shirt sporting, clothes-conscious man. Pair a well-fitting tee with jeans and boots for rock shows, barely-pressed khakis and slip-on loafers for casual afternoon get-togethers, shorts and sandals for patio parties, crawfish boils and the like. Chuck Taylor canvas sneakers are almost always appropriate accompanying footwear, as they are in all of the situations above.

What to Wear
The last several years have produced a proliferation of graphic tees such as the world has never known. And while the opportunity for your attire to announce to the world your position on topics varying from politics to pot, music, movies, sex and other culturally relevant subjects, one must tread carefully. Choose your messages with thought. Vulgarity is never appropriate – wearing a tee with the word FUCK on it is as equally inappropriate as walking around yelling it at every person you see. (And just so you know, FUKC and F!CK also mean fuck, but also mean you are stupid enough to wear a shirt that says fuck, but too chicken shit to back it up.) Also inappropriate are tees adorned with pot leaves or other drug paraphernalia – keep it to your self. However, simple, stylish tees with unique, thought-provoking or truly witty messages are great conversation starters, as are ambiguous yet eye-catching designs, when not over-done. Concert tees have come along way from the 70’s, when there was seemingly an overabundance of jet black cotton in the world. Promote your favorite under-appreciated band, or simply let your friends know that you have better taste in music than they do. In these cases, choose the less obvious designs and colors. Vintage tees are often a great choice, making typically nonsensical choices somehow uber-cool – summer camps you didn’t attend, high-school bands you never played in and concerts performed before you were even born. Avoid however obvious knock-offs and overly “vintage-style” selections that litter the internet and aisles of Target and Urban Outfitters. For a safe, stylish, appropriate and infinitely adaptable choice, acquire a selection of well made, well-fitting tees in solid colors, starting of course with black and white. Vary from crew to v-neck and henley, and look for simple, subtle details such as contrast colored stitching to catch the discerning eye. Pair with patterned shorts or trousers to add texture, and layer under a casual jacket or blazer to dress it up when the situation or temperature requires.

Get Them Here
As discussed, the casual trends of the last several years have led to an over abundance of choices, and t-shirt shoppers should have no trouble finding that just right tee with minimal effort. Here though are a few bits of advice from The Good Guy. While the above mentioned Target, Urban Outfitters, as well as Express, Gap, Banana Republic etc. offer a huge selection of typically well made and often interesting tees, they are also shopped daily by millions, meaning that super-sweet, funny as hell, vintage-looking tee you picked up for $12 to $24 will probably also adorn the chest of 200 to 2,000 too-lazy-to-look further guys just like you. And if you think running into one of them tonight and sharing a laugh and high-five because you are both wearing the exact same tee is cool, stop reading now. As discussed, thrift stores and resale shops are a safe bet for those in search of one-of-kind finds. With a little online browsing, one can easily find a distinct purchase that is reasonably certain to be the only one of its kind within a 30 mile radius at least. Check out Threadless for super selection and frequent updates, visit Etsy to find rarer designs while supporting independent artists, or search out an as of yet under-the-radar, up-and coming favorite like the vintage rock-inspired and thought-provoking Tupelo Grease Co. Or, stay in your own back yard, patronizing local boutiques like Houston’s Hello Lucky for unique and stylish looks created by your neighbors. For unembellished styles, get the good stuff at a premium price through high-end big-box retailers like Neiman’s, Saks, Nordstrom’s and Barney’s, or go basic with online retailers such as Alternative or American Apparel. (The Good Guy prefers Alternative, for both the quality of their products and their lack of boorish advertising and CEO’s.)

And I Shouldn’t Have to Say This, But…

No man, ever, (ever) under any circumstances, (ever) should own a shirt whose design incorporates rhinestones, swarovski crystals or has been otherwise bedazzled. To play it safe, also avoid overly aggressive designs with an abundance of skulls or skeletons and in-your-face tattoo themes. Yes, I’m looking at you Ed Hardy and Christian Audigier, Monarchy, Smet, etc.

As always, The Good Guy welcomes your additional input, comments and contradictions (though in this case, we know we are right - and you probably do too.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bet Your Boots

While it’s universally accepted that you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, it’s almost as rote that you can judge a man by the shoes on his feet. The Good Guy will take this notion a step further and introduce the opinion that, unless a man has walked a mile in a pair of honest-to-God cowboy boots, he still has a way to go.

For the better part of two centuries, the American cowboy has epitomized the concept of a real man, and around the world today his footwear of choice is recognized as that of the same. Presidents, politicians, CEO’s, attorneys, rock stars, actors and all-around icons (think T. Boone Pickens to Racehorse Haynes to James Dean) have all adopted this near-timeless tradition, and with good reason – when it comes to putting your stamp on the world, there’s no better way to do it than with a great pair of boots on your feet. However, the kind of boot you make that mark in has a lot to do with the kind of mark you want to make, and the choices of both are seemingly endless.

Pick Your Hide
We’ll begin with the actual materials. The vast majority of cowboy - or western - boots are made of cow hide, chosen for it’s tough but supple quality, versatility and of course abundance. For durability and comfort, you simply can’t go wrong with a really well made pair cow hide boots. Make your pair more unique by selecting something a little more exotic, from ostrich or lizard for texture to elephant or stingray for unparalleled endurance with style. Snakeskin, whether boa, python or rattlesnake, makes a bold statement and requires the appropriate amount of attitude to back it up, which is easily (and all too often) overdone. For the overall ultimate in luxury, the choice de rigeur remains alligator (or crocodile, caiman, etc.) Get yours in black, and go for a texture that’s smoother and more subtle, avoiding the over-the-top texture of the back and tail sections - impeccable from the boardroom to the barroom.

Make Your Point
The next telling point of a man’s boot is the shape of the toe, and there are as many as 12 recognized standard shapes, ranging from extremely pointed (X) to squared (C) or very rounded (W). Original working cowboys boots were given a slight point to more easily slip into a stirrup, and that shape was exaggerated greatly in the 40’s and 50’s, though for purely aesthetic reasons. Most aficionados tend towards the middle of the scale – pointed but not extreme (F or L) for everyday wear, though extreme points and square toes have both gained in popularity with the recent emergence of retro western trends.

Well Heeled
Another distinguishing factor of a man’s boot, and one of the characteristics that make the boot such a great choice in general, is the heel. There’s nothing better than legitimately adding an inch or more to your usual stature – whether you need it or not. And because boots are so often associated with horses, and horses have for centuries been equated with wealth and nobility, the height of a man’s boot heels still retains some connotation of a quality upbringing – hence the term “well-heeled.” As with the toe shape, there are a lot of options to choose from – heels can range from 1” to 2 1/4” and can be blocked (straight) or underslung. Again, the most popular choices tend to range short of the extreme, with a 1 5/8 to 2” heel, slightly underslung, (9) getting the most chances on the dance floor. However, as with toe shapes, the taller and more underslung styles have gained popularity, as they did in the 50’s and 60’s closer to the U.S./Mexican border. Quality heels are made of stacked, compressed leather, usually with a thin strip of rubber on the bottom. The soles of any quality boot are 100% leather. A great, wizened old boot maker also once told me that only a rough stock rider leaves his edges raw or unblacked.

Getting the Shaft

The shaft, or upper portion, of the boot is where you get the opportunity to really make a statement. While this portion of the boot is (and should almost always be) concealed beneath your trousers or jeans leg, the right boot shaft can garner just the right amount of attention when the wearer is seated, dancing, has one foot propped on the bar rail or both crossed on his expansive mahogany desktop during negotiations, worn leather soles facing your opponent with disdain. Start simply with an elaborate colored stitch pattern, take it farther with an altogether different colored shaft, or go all out with one-of-a-kind inlaid or cut-out shafts. Add your initials, brand, or other icons to signify the life you’ve chosen to lead. The top of the shaft, or scallop, also comes in a variety of options.

Regardless of your choice of “manly footwear,” whether it’s a roper style with 1” blocked heel, shorter shaft and rounded toe in chocolate brown ostrich or a buckaroo with massive heels, spur ridges, wide running board soles and featuring your initials above a full house (aces over kings) inlaid on shafts reaching almost to the knee, the over-riding concern should always be quality. For a can’t miss choice, check out Lucchese – made by hand in Texas since 1883. Prowl second hand shops in Houston, Austin and San Antonio in search of the distinctive finish of their calfskin creations, or head to El Paso to select your new pair. Better yet, find a great boot maker in your neck of the woods – someone like Maida’s Blackjack Boots in Houston - and work directly with them to layout your masterpiece from heel to toe, scallop to sole.

And in case you’re wondering – The Good Guy alternates most often between black Justins in kangaroo, with a squared toe, 1 5/8” heel and dark green calf skin shafts with orange stitching, and for special occasions breaks out a pair of Chris Romero black and white cut-outs with pointed toe, 2 1/4” underslung heel and amazing thunderbird shafts, handmade in 1968 and bought second hand in Houston for $120. A pair of bronze Nocona pythons from the 70’s also get a fair amount of screen time.

As always, The Good Guy does not profess to be an expert, but is simply putting it out there. If you’ve got something to add, let me hear from you.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Surviving the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre – or – How to come out smelling like a rose, without spending seventy-five bucks on a dozen.

Saint Valentine’s Day – that most Hallmark of holidays – is almost upon us, and while admitting that it’s a dubious, concocted, paper occasion, we must still acknowledge the date and it’s potential for both ardor and peril. And to ensure that the advice offered herein is valid, The Good Guy has once again turned to our focus group of the fairer sex to get the legitimate low-down.

For starters, we should understand that the objects of our affections also realize the invented and inherently retail nature of the day, but none-the-less have certain expectations and desires. Many of our responders indicated that, unless the relationship had some history and weight behind it, they’d rather you didn’t acknowledge it at all. To that The Good Guy says, with all do respect, bullshit. Granted, if you’ve only seen each other a few times, and the dynamic is still strictly casual, a candle-lit Italian dinner or the delivery of a dozen red roses (in the standard cheap cut glass vase, accompanied by the ubiquitous baby’s breath) will seem exactly what it is, a clichéd reminder of a clichéd, cookie-cutter holiday. That’s not to say however that a little understanding and some creativity and effort on our behalf can’t turn this potential pitfall into opportunity. If you find yourself at that stage of the game when the fourteenth of February appears on your calendar, and sense that the relationship in question could bear more fruit, why not carpe the diem? A simple but sweet gesture would then be an appropriate indication that your interests are sincere. A handwritten card, understated, sophisticated and sincere, or an ultra-old-school valentine, a la Charlie Brown, can both meet those needs nicely. Just don’t let yourself get caught with anything in between, where syrupy pre-printed messages usurp originality and honesty. If you prefer to keep it more contemporary and much (much) lighter, several of our responders said they’d appreciate a simple text message on the day (though in this case The Good Guy can not condone, only passes the message.)

If your relationship has already evolved to the next level – anywhere from “dating” or “seeing each other” (whatever those mean anymore) to “boyfriend and girlfriend” or “a couple” not to mention the current ultimate public acknowledgment of mutual affection, Facebook’s “in a relationship” – both expectations and stakes are higher. In this scenario, the date absolutely demands its due respect. Here, flowers are almost de rigueur, though if you don’t bestow them on any other day of the year, don’t make this the one day. If you do decide to follow the floral path, insight is the key. Her favorite flower, whatever that may be, is the obvious offering. (Since we’ve already determined that the relationship has moved along, and we assume you are an astute and discreet gentleman, you have of course already determined her favorite flower. If you don’t know by now, do not under any circumstances ask within 30 days of Valentine’s Day.) Roses are acceptable, if flowers are a regular part of your romantic resume and provided you understand the weight they carry and that they should be presented simply. Forgo the aforementioned vase, baby’s breath and any other optional accompaniments. One dozen, long stemmed, wrapped in a simple ribbon, is the smart, sophisticated choice. Tulips, peonies and orchids are also all appropriately romantic, and daisies make a less serious, playful but still thoughtful stand in.

Chocolates are the other standard symbol of affection on this day, and again are acceptable when undertaken with some amount of sophistication. Visit a chocolatier, not CVS. A half dozen ripe strawberries dipped in dark chocolate also make a gift both sumptuous and sensual when shared. Take the token to another level by complementing the sweets with a bottle of wine or champagne. A rich, robust red evokes luxurious satin sheets, and of course loosens libidos. For bubbly, we prefer to skip the trendy or status brands and opt for the always appreciated yet reasonably priced Veuve Cliquot.

Lingerie has also become a popular gift dujour, but popularity does not always denote sensibility. Make sure she feels it is a gift for her, or at least the both of you, and not just an opportunity for you to ogle and almost immediately undress her. Keep it sophisticated and elegant, avoiding feathers and other exotic elements to be found in the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog, and in fact avoiding Frederick’s and their only slightly more esteemable counterpart Victoria’s Secret altogether. We love La Perla, extremely pricey, but always delicately delicious to the eyes. Round out your gift with a more practical addition, such as a luxuriously thick and soft robe, to lighten the overtly sexual overtones.

If you believe an actual Valentine’s date is appropriate, The Good Guy, as always, suggest creativity. First, feel free to celebrate the day on other than the date. Instead have “official” your Valentine’s Day date on the Friday, Saturday or any other day closest to the 14th. This will not only allow you access to a wider range of reservations, but also help you avoid the all too popular cattle call, set seating, 4 course prix fix debacles. Select a favorite spot or out of the way candle-lit bistro where ambiance precedes pretentiousness. Other acceptable and more original dining options include picnics in the park or under the stars or homemade pizzas cooked on your home court, where the advantages are numerous.

Should you prefer to present a more lasting token of your affection, keep it simple and thoughtful – think romantically practical. A few ounces of her favorite scent (if you don’t know, don’t guess, and don’t ask now), a cashmere shawl or ultra-soft kid leather gloves are timeless and lasting gestures. A hardbound edition of her favorite book, or some other item she may have mentioned and that only you will have remembered will continue to score big points long after the gift has been given. A charm with mutually understood meaning, which can be added to an existing necklace or bracelet, is simple and sweet. If your relationship has expanded beyond the previously stated borders, “I Love You’s” have been exchanged, or at least intimated, etc., and you feel a grander gesture is in order, we suggest you observe this simple rule when making your selection – If it has been advertised on television within the last 30 days (or probably ever), ignore it. Elegantly extravagant trinkets – pearl or diamond solitaire earrings - are unassailable testimonials to affection AND taste. If she has a favorite designer or shop, feel free to venture in that direction. Again, previous research on the subject pays dividends today. Quick aside – under no circumstances does The Good Guy believe you should propose marriage on Valentine’s Day. We’ll discuss in much greater detail later. Along those line however, be extremely cautious about presenting any gift (such as the above mentioned earrings) which might also come in a roughly 2” by 2” box.

In the end, how you choose to celebrate (or not) is about striving to understand (notice we didn’t presume to say understanding) the desires and sensibilities of the object of your affection. No two women are the same (and by our reckoning most aren’t even the same individually from day-to-day or even hour-to-hour) but most are pretty similar. So review the clues you’ve hopefully picked up along the way, and best of luck to you.

As an added bonus, and in no particular order, here are a few more items which received multiple mentions from our forthright (and lovely) survey respondents.

A Mix CD of her favorite songs or artists
Concert or theatre tickets
A spa day
Weekend getaway to the country or the coast
Original artwork
Cocktails and dessert (as a more casual alternative to dinner)
Sexy stilettos
A poem or song
2010 Dodge Challenger RST8 in Plum Crazy Purple

As always, The Good Guy welcomes your comments and cat-calls, so feel free to add your two cents.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What’s In The Fridge?

As good guys, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are prepared for just about any occasion, from the everyday to the extraordinary and everything in between. And while that doesn’t necessarily demand that you keep a plastic tarp, 50lb bag of lye, a roll of duct tape and a shovel in your trunk, it at least requires that you maintain a short-ish list of simple necessities in the icebox – for appearances if nothing else.

Note – If your wife does the household shopping, although that should not exclusively be the case, be sure you work these items onto list as required.

Cold Beer and Other Adult Beverages.
First and foremost, a man had better have a few cold beers on hand at all times, in expectation of announced visits, impromptu pre- or post- night out gatherings, spontaneous offerings to deserving repairmen and the like. Take it a step further by keeping a modest variety in stock – two options at least. Consider contrasting lighter or domestic brands and a similar amount of something a bit heavier or more exotic – ie. Miller and Bass, Heineken and Fat Tire, etc. Surprise and educate your guests with an under-the-radar, locally brewed favorite or an obscure discovery from a recent foray beyond our borders. Bottles only. Cans are for the golf course and the boat. If you find yourself lacking available space, or facing the ire of your significant other, immediately acquire additional cold storage, (college dorm varieties are adequate and typically available for under $100) ensconce it in the garage and keep it well stocked.

As far as other adult beverages are concerned, keep a bottle of chilled white wine and a decent bottle of champagne always at the ready, and under no circumstances allow the tiny light in your freezer to illuminate the absence of one bottle of (preferably Russian) vodka and one of (100% blue agave) tequila.

Basics and Perishables

A few items that should always be in at least minimal supply, from the basic building blocks of life to the makings of a perfect late-night, last minute romantic nosh include:
- At least 1/2 pound of butter – real butter, sweet cream, unsalted, in ¼ lb sticks encased in waxed paper, not a plastic tub. You may choose to supplement with olive oil on many occasions, but never be without this absolute necessity. Ask your grandmother.
- As far as other dairy products go (with cheese occupying it’s own distinct category), a quart of milk (whole to 2%, no less) and a pint of half & half or heavy whipping cream should suffice for most needs, large families excepted.
- Fresh fruits, particularly citrus - from oranges and grapefruits for juices, snacks or starters, to the ubiquitous lemons and limes without which no cocktail, seafood or guacamole would be legitimate – should always occupy a goodly percentage of the space in a lower compartment. Avocados in varying stages of ripeness make the perfect supplement to salads and sandwiches and as a simple side snack, particularly when paired with sliced Roma or firm, sweet cherub tomatoes . Fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sophisticated after-hours alternatives to ice cream and other sweets, and a perfect companion to anything from the champagne to the pancakes you are already prepared to provide as the situation dictates.
- Nothing begins a day, particularly a lazy, late-starting Saturday or Sunday, like breakfast made by your own hand – and it should be pointed out that it is the obligation of any gentleman who finds himself awakened in the company of an unanticipated but nevertheless attractive houseguest of the opposite sex. To that end, several large eggs and a pound or so of bacon are an utmost necessity. Add fresh cracked black peppercorns (always) and basil, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and cheeses to your eggs (as you see fit), and make sure the bacon is crisp. And, since you already have plenty of citrus and a bottle of champagne on hand, how about a fresh-squeezed mimosa? A well prepared breakfast of this caliber often leads you and your guest directly back to the room from whence you most recently emerged - You’re welcome.

Cheese, please.
From crumbled bleu and feta and fresh or marinated mozzarella, to blocks and slices of sharp, hearty Wisconsin cheddar and subtly smoked gruyere or gouda, cheese in variety is a can’t miss, go-to standard no self-respecting refrigerator should lack. Add it to salads, serve as snacks, and melt it into risotto or over potatoes and other staples to add a kick or unexpected twist.

Condiments and Other Extras

There is a reason refrigerators have such copious shelf space, and one should consider one’s self obligated to fill that space appropriately. Mayonnaise and mustard are bedrocks which must be occupy their God-given rightful stations, whether you enjoy them or not. One jar each of real mayonnaise and mustard of both the bright yellow and Gulden’s spicy variety should suffice. Ketchup or catsup as preferred, in quantity based upon consumption, is also an un-ignorable requirement. No man shall be without less than two varieties of barbeque sauce, as it has been written throughout the ages. Combine and supplement store bought brands with Worcestershire (the ever present, paper-wrapped Lea & Perrins ) or soy sauce and an improvised mixture of herbs and spices to make them your own. Two varieties of salad dressing, one creamy, such as bleu cheese or ranch, and a vinaigrette of some sort should meet most needs. (Try bleu cheese or ranch dressing as alternatives to mayo on your next “dagwood” sandwich.) Fill out your remaining shelf space with a variety (at least 2) of Mexican-style hot sauces or salsas, one small jar each of minced horseradish and minced garlic (used only when circumstances do not permit hand-mincing fresh cloves), and finish with bottle of Sriracha (the rooster) asian-style hot sauce and ground chili sauce or oil, for an exotic eastern spark. Creatively fill remaining nooks and crannys as available.

While most of the above items would not combine to make a suitable meal for one or more, they should form the basis or foundation of every good guy’s icebox, from stainless Subzero to rust pocked, circa-1970’s avocado-colored, allowing him to face a wide variety of situations and scenarios with anything from an easy confidence to near awe-inspiring style and sophistication.

As always, The Good Guy welcomes your comments, suggestions and additions to our oversights and omissions. Let us hear from you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Your Car is Talking About You - Do You Know What It’s Saying?

We all know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but we also all know that everyone does - at least to some degree. As Good Guys, we’d like to think that we are chosen as friends or lovers based on the facts that we dress appropriate to the occasion and know to stand when a lady returns to the table, which fork to use and at least a few good jokes for any situation - from bachelor party to boardroom. That may be true (probably isn’t), but like it or not, before we ever get a chance to show off that sparkling personality, the reality is that we’ve already created a number of impressions that may impede (or improve) our chances to shine. And, while we know we shouldn’t put too much stock in what others think about us (especially those that haven’t taken the time to get to know us), we probably still do.

So, as a sort of social experiment, and as an aide to those of us who will probably forever ponder the inner working of a woman’s mind (because let’s not kid ourselves, it’s her perception we’re most concerned with) The Good Guy has selected a group of 30 women deemed desirable by pretty much any man’s standards - that is to say, attractive, intelligent, charming and currently unspoken for. From time to time we’ll poll this panel of experts as to their opinions on a variety of topics in an effort gain insight we hope to be helpful, may instead be disheartening, but in any case might be amusing.

Here is their first topic of discussion and condensed responses:

Q: Imagine you are going on a (basically blind) date - you know little or nothing about your would-be suitor. He rings your doorbell, and you open it to see him standing on your step, while behind him idling at the curb sits his __________. What is your first impression?

1. The Typical Car - ie. Accord, Jetta, Camry, etc.

The basic impression was no impression at all. Words like “typical,” “standard” and “average” were used with alarming regularity. If that’s the impression you’re trying to make, perhaps in an effort to leave her perception a blank canvas upon which your colorful personality might layout the first broad strokes of the evening’s romantic masterpiece - you chose correctly. In that case, play it really safe and go for "champagne" - or as most would refer to it - beige.

2. The Luxury Sedan

This is a tricky one, because today every luxury brand offers a variety of models in a broad price range with sometimes almost imperceptible differences. However, this remains a fairly solid selection, with the higher end models of each line scoring high marks almost across the board. The only concern was whether you can actually afford the car you’re driving, or you’re just another $50k-a -year millionaire. The Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series blend performance, luxury and comfort particularly well while turning heads in the right way, creating an impression of sophisticated affluence and style – just don’t add ground effects or 24” chrome rims.

3. The Pick-Up Truck

The opposite sex’s perception of the pick-up driver seems to vary depending mainly upon age and geography. Southern states and rural areas seem to view the pick-up as just another car – and adding burled wood trim, heated leather seats, GPS and other luxury embellishments don’t really do much to raise the bar. Of course you’ll always be facing the fairly large percentage who will view this choice as anything from “Good Ole Boy” to downright “Redneck,” and adding oversize tires, chrome pipe bumpers and superfluous lighting certainly wont help your case there. A potentially telling response came from a charming and seemingly intelligent young woman who proclaimed “I like boys who drive trucks!” Go get her, boys.

4. SUV’s
For the guy who legitimately needs the space, power and ground clearance of the pick-up, but wishes to avoid the “Redneck” connotations, God has created the SUV. Tahoes, Yukons (no one knows the difference) and Escalades (no one cares about the difference) are solid choices for urban and rural Good Guys alike. Get yours in black, with all the extras, for a ride equally suited for the ranch or the strip. Beware back seat DVD players and 3rd row seats, as they bear the unmistakable marks of the suburban Dad (aka Soccer Mom.)

5. Exotic Sports Cars

While the entire English-speaking world knows the statement this particular ride is going to make, they persist in ever-growing numbers. Quickly glossing over the obvious reflections on package-size, height, hairline, age and self-confidence, let’s assume you actually are a connoisseur of performance driving who appreciates the finer things in life and to whom the $150k+ price tag is a reasonable expenditure for an unrivalled 2-seat experience – that still doesn’t explain the flaming red, safety orange or lime green paint job. (Yes, you.) Still insist on your right to driving a growling, low-slung, imported stripper magnet? Show some stylish sensibility and restraint, bypassing the obvious choices and rolling a Maserati or Aston Martin in charcoal gray.

6. Domestic Sports Cars
While fun to drive and affordable, when it comes to the domestic line-up of sports machines, you aren’t making much of a statement with this choice, and what you are saying isn’t all that good. Mustangs have become so prevalent that they barely rank above the Accord in terms of “Guy-ness,” while the over-styled Corvette continues to exude a certain Jersey Shore “this is my Ferrari” attitude, and even the the newly retro Camaro seems caught some-where between “middle-America” and “wanna-be car guy.” One notable exception is Dodge’s recent replication of the 1970 Challenger, with enough horsepower to make some legitimate noise, authentic retro styling coupled with contemporary comforts and a range of rarely seen colors that scream “I don’t give a damn what you think, this is my car!” Hemi Orange is our favorite, but our muscle-maniac respondent says go Plum Crazy.

7. Vintage Sports Car
Almost across the board, this is an seemingly can’t-miss choice, when done right. In fact, apply the term “vintage” to any of the above options to instantly turn your swing-and-miss or boring base-hit to a stand-up triple or more. Don’t believe us? Try telling the next woman you meet you drive a Ferrari, and watch for the barely concealed look of concern-bordering-on horror creeping into her eyes. Now tell her yours is the sleek and stylish midnight blue 1967 330 GTC parked on the front row of valet. Now ask her if she’s ready for another glass of champagne… The same experiment works with luxury sedans and even pick-up trucks to a degree, but don’t try it with a 1972 Honda Civic.

8. The Hybrid
Seriously? We all want the world to be a better place and last a little longer, and 40+ mpg at $3.95 a gallon sounds great, but not when you look at what it really costs you. At this point, you might as well add a Greenpeace bumper sticker, a Jesus-fish badge and an Apple decal to the back windshield. Make that a rainbow Apple decal.

Truth be told, it should and probably will come down to your true personality (or your looks.) And if it doesn’t, they probably weren’t the right one in the first place.

As always, The Good Guy tells it like he sees it, and stands by it. And as always, a little discourse is welcome, so feel free to chime in.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Primer for The Good Guy - First Installment

It isn't difficult to be a good guy, but as with most things, the devil is in the details. From time to time I'll post a few things (some important, some not so much) that every man should know, but sometimes forgets. Here then (in no particular order) are a few guidelines for doing it the right way.

Baseball Caps
They are made to keep the sun out of your eyes - not off of your neck or ears. They are to be worn brim forward - ALWAYS. How you treat the brim is totally up to you - a subtle curve is the norm, but you may choose to curl it extremely (The Fratboy), leave it totally flat (The Wanna-Be Rapper), or even curl the front edge up slightly (The Welder). TAKE THE STICKERS OFF.

Put The Seat Back Down

The Cell Phone - Part 1
Answer it, as often as you are able. If you're not going to answer it (in a meeting, on a date, etc.), leave it in the car or turn it off.

The Cell Phone - Part 2
Unless you are a member of a law enforcement agency, or Batman, you should not have anything attached to your belt.

Body Hair
Have some. Unless you are a professional swimmer (you aren't) or bodybuilder (you shouldn't be), it's appropriate for a man to have hair on his body. Want to keep it maintained, that's up to you.

It is perfectly acceptable to wear an athletic jersey, if you are actually a member of that particular team, and are playing or practicing, right now. If not, don't.

Sing Along
At a concert, on the dance floor, in the car or shower, every one feels it from time to time and is irresistibly compelled to sing along. Fine. However, if the song you are singing along with is by a woman, I will point you out.

Shine Your Shoes

Try Not to Cuss (So Much)
You should try to watch your language, especially around women and kids. However, there are times when a well chosen, perfectly timed expletive is not only acceptable but absolutely necessary. In these cases, try to be situationally appropriate and creative - mix it up a bit.

That's enough for now, but trust me, there's plenty more to come. And remember, The Good Guy is always up for a spirited debate, so if you disagree with or feel the need to embellish upon any of the above, let me hear from you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Good Guy as Guest

I'm attending the birthday party of a friend tonight (Happy Birthday Chyra!), so I thought I'd run over a few quick party guest guidelines.

1. RSVP.
Your host has a reason for asking you to RSVP, so do so in the time frame requested. If you missed the RSVP deadline, simply contact your host to be sure they can (and will) still accommodate you. If you RSVP for two (or more) be sure you bring that person or find a replacement. If you RSVP as a single, and decide you'd like to bring a guest, be sure and clear it with your host in advance.

2. Theme or Attire.
Your host has a vision of what their event will be, and if that doesn’t work for you, simply decline the invitation. In other words, a costume party means wear a costume, cocktail attire means wear a suit, and black tie means black tie. (FYI - “black tie optional” also means “black tie” - more on that later.)

3. Arrive On Time
Fashionably late is fine, but that means 30 minutes to an hour after the designated start time, depending on how long the event will last. For a party slated to last from 8pm until midnight, I’d arrive no later than 9pm. Again, your host has a reason for setting the time frame. And, if you've ever hosted a party, you hated the feeling early in the evening when you wondered if anyone was going to show.

4. Arrive Bearing Gifts
My grandmother told me to never show up at someone's home empty handed, and I believe the same applies to any event to which you’ve been invited. Obviously a birthday party invitation calls for a gift (“no gifts please” means simple gift or card) and flowers, wine or liquor, a simple token or card are always appropriate.

5. Participate and Enjoy
Mingle, meet new people, introduce your guests, dance, buy a round... no one likes a wallflower.

6. Don’t Enjoy Too Much
I’m pretty sure you know what that means. You are not intended to be the center of attention at this event, so make sure you aren’t. Remember, you want to leave an impression, but always a positive impression.

6. Don’t Overstay Your Welcome
Just as you don’t want to be the first to arrive, you never want to be among the last to leave (unless you’ve been specifically invited by your host to linger). Be sure to seek out and thank your host before making your timely exit.

Certainly there are many finer points to being the perfect guest, but these few reminders should ensure that you always leave your host and their other guests with the impression that “He’s a good guy.”

Disclaimer - Anyone who knows me knows that I have been guilty of breaking any and all of the above rules from time to time. This blog is intended to serve as a reminder and positive influence on me as much (or more so) than anyone else out there.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Lost Art of Saying “Thanks”

In today’s world of e-mails, texts and tweets, when even having an actual telephone conversation seems to be an obsolete practice, the handwritten, sincere sentiment has become a truly lost art. However, this month is the perfect time to resurrect this bygone tradition, and so it becomes the topic of The Good Guy’s first official post.

Christmas is two weeks behind us. Thank You’s are due to those who helped make your holiday season better or brighter, and the only appropriate way to truly thank someone is with a handwritten note. Trust me, the recipient will be pleasantly surprised by your gesture, and it will definitely leave an impression.

The message can be simple, but should be specific - “Thank you for _______, it meant a lot to me because ________.”

To leave a truly lasting impression, send your thoughts with style. Select a card with personality and character, something which reflects your own sensibilities, whatever they may be. Attention to quality details such as fine, heavier papers and embossed or engraved qraphics - from a simple monogram or illustration to elaborate patterns - can turn your simple gesture into a cherished memento.

Most quality stationers offer a wide variety of options, in packages or single cards, allowing you to further customize your note to the recipient. I suggest taking the practice to a higher level by creating your own unique cards, suitable for any occasion. Use them throughout the year for anything from Thank You's for gifts, follow ups for job interviews or simple thoughts such as “I saw this and thought of you.” (I received a message to that effect as I was writing this post - thanks Lauren.)

For more great ideas, unique greeting cards and custom stationary packages, check out PH Design Shop. My friends Chris and Amanda make it easy to select or create the perfect package for your unique sentiment and sensibility, and those who receive them are sure to appreciate your effort far more than the 5 minutes or $5 it actually cost you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Good Guy

Have you ever heard someone say about a man "He's a good guy." Of course you have, and in my book, that's some of the highest praise a man can receive. They're not saying he's a great looking guy, or a really cool guy, or incredibly funny - he's just an all around good guy.

People like to be around a good guy - men and women both. Men enjoy his company - he's great to fill out a foursome at the club or take the last seat at a card game. Women know he can be counted as great company - for anything from a company Christmas party to a last minute fill-in at a wedding or black tie affair.

Ever wonder how some get to be considered good guys?

Stay tuned...