Dinner Guest Extraordinaire

Whenever I get to play the game of “Name the people you’d like to have over for dinner,” I always enjoy other people’s choices, even though many of them would make me leave the house screaming rather than sit at a table with them. Over the years, of course, my own list has changed as my tastes have changed, or as I’ve encountered or read about people who, in my opinion, would make excellent guests at a dinner table. The people I’d want to have over for dinner, it seems, are always temporary members of my list.

Except for one.

My permanent guest is none other than the late David Niven, the classy actor (Academy Award-winner), legendary seducer of women, (anonymous) war hero and peerless raconteur. 

I’d always enjoyed his acting, even though Niven’s golden years were long before I was born. But what turned me into a fan were his memoirs, The Moon’s A Balloon and his stories of old Hollywood, Bring On The Empty Horses. Both are wonderfully written, both are fine insights to Hollywood’s Golden Age, both are in turn side-splittingly funny and dreadfully poignant, and I have both in hardback. They are among the very few books that I never lend out.

I’m not going to do a potted biography of the man here — there’s a workable bio at Wikipedia, and of course his biography Niv (which I haven’t read because I don’t need to).

Then there are his movies — countless dozens of them — which bear witness to his (self-deprecating) talent. If you want a recommendation, try Separate Tables (for his Oscar-winning performance), or Stairway To Heaven (my favorite of his work, a.k.a. A Matter Of Life And Death). None of his movies are on Netflix, which alone is enough to make me cancel my subscription.

Niven is not a household name anymore, certainly not in America, and that’s a shame, because he embodies just about every quality which goes to make a Real Man (despite being an actor): he was intelligent, witty, charming, well-read, resourceful and brave. (The last comes from knowing that during WWII, he served in the Commandos and the “Phantom” unit — which, typically, Niven never spoke about, and would just change the subject when pressed for details.)

Oh, and here are but two of his many conquests, the exquisite Loretta Young:

…and the kittenish Paulette Goddard:

…neither of which he ever boasted about, of course.

So if you have a rainy afternoon with nothing to do, grab a whisky and copy of The Moon’s A Balloon, and settle in for a wonderful time. There’s no need to thank me; it’s all part of the service.

I just wish I’d known him in person.

Birthday Greetings

The Son&Heir turns 28 today. It is customary for a proud father to brag about his son, but in my case, I am truly blessed. (And those of you who have met him, please feel free to weigh in with your opinions.)

Eagle Scout, champion shooter, college graduate; he’s popular with everyone who meets him, works with him or has anything to do with him. He’s witty, polite, well-mannered, intelligent, astonishingly well-read, and the best dinner companion anyone could wish for.

He never reads my blog — not one of my kids has ever read anything I’ve written, blog, novels, whatever — so he might not read this, but I don’t care. I bless the day he came into my life, and every day since. He is my son, I love him dearly, and he is a fine, fine man.

Happy birthday, boy.

— Dad

My Real Hero

From last week’s post about well-dressed men (or rather, men who dress like slobs), I don’t want anyone to think that Don Draper is any kind of hero to me, other than as it pertains to his clothes.

My real hero in the Mad Men series would have to be Roger Sterling, he of the peerless quips and observations, and serial seducer and womaniser, a sublime mixture of sophistication and dissolution. How could you not be in awe of a man who says things like: “I like redheads; their mouths are like a drop of strawberry jam in a glass of milk” and  “Have another [drink]. It’s 9:30, for God’s sake.”

I never wish that I could be another man; but if I did, it would be Roger: utterly charming, cynical and right, every time. And even when he knows he’s about to make a catastrophic mistake (e.g. marry a much-younger woman), he just shrugs and does it anyway, fully aware of the consequences.

“Have a drink. It’ll make me look younger.”

Every single woman I’ve ever spoken to about Roger Sterling thinks he’s an utter bastard. And every single one of them admitted they’d probably let him have his way with them anyway. We mere mortals can only aspire to such greatness.

And for those Readers who wanted to see Joan Holloway, here ya go:

And Roger’s comment: “Has anyone even seen this baby, with you walking next to him?”

 

Dept. of Righteous Shootings

As I’ve said earlier, I have little interest in firing up old themes in this, the latest incarnation of my rants and scribblings.

However.

When I see joyous news snippets like this one, I have no alternative but to announce the return of the Department of Righteous Shootings, wherein I catalog the efforts of private, law-abiding citizens to drain the gene pool of miserable criminal scumbags. Here’s the latest:

Authorities in Oklahoma are investigating after a man armed with an AR-15 opened fire on three intruders who forced their way into his mother’s Broken Arrow home Monday afternoon.

According to the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office, the three suspects were pronounced dead at the scene and a fourth suspect, who acted as the getaway driver, is now in police custody.

Three shots fired, three goblins dead. Somebody buy Our Hero a marksmanship badge.

But that’s not the best report out of this little comedy. Try this one:

The grandfather of one of the three armed home invaders who were shot and killed breaking into a home in Broken Arrow (OK) earlier this week laments that the resident’s AR-15 carbine wasn’t fair against the knife and brass knuckles carried by the mask-wearing criminals.

You can all stop that unseemly laughing now. No… on second thoughts, carry on.

Dead Goblin Count: 3