The (Manly) History of Bay Rum

There’s a saying: “everything old is new again”. Which, when it comes to fashion is totally true. Take cologne: when I was in high school in the 80s, Old Spice was the tackiest thing imaginable. No guy – no matter if he was a jock, redneck, goth, skater or nerd – woulda been caught dead wearing the stuff. Yet somehow it’s “retro” and “hip” again. Go figure.

This is great, because bay rum – the classic American cologne and aftershave – is one of my favorite scents. But I bet you didn’t know where it comes from… which is actually pretty cool.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that sailors in the 1500s didn’t smell great. Contrary to what you might have heard, Europeans did bathe more frequently than you probably think they did. Except sailors. Even then they knew that bathing in salt water wasn’t fun, and there usually wasn’t enough fresh water on a ship to allow people to bathe. So while there were occasional sponge baths on a ship, sailors didn’t truly “bathe” until they ended up on land somewhere.

But at some point, early in the 1500s, sailors in the Caribbean discovered the West Indian bay leaf – pimenta racemosa (this is a different plant than the “bay leaf” you put in soups and stews; that’s the bay laurel leaf, laurus nobilis). Sailors noticed that the West Indian leaf contained a pleasant smelling oil that, when rubbed on the body, had a patchouli-like effect. Say what you will about patchouli, but I’d rather smell a sailor who hasn’t bathed in 6 months drenched in patchouli than one not drenched in patchouli.

Sugar plantations soon took over the Caribbean, and by the early 1600s some plantation owners discovered that their slaves had been secretly making a weak liquor out of molasses, one of the byproducts of sugar production. Intrigued, the owners took the drink and distilled it, thus making it far stronger and removing impurities present in the original drink. Although legend says that this liquor was first made on the island of Barbados, proof exists that it was being made a bit earlier in Brazil. Either way, the drink then called rumbullion took off, first in Colonial America, then Britain, then around the world via the Royal Navy.

We don’t know who it was – some evidence suggests a sailor, other suggests it was a merchant somewhere in the Caribbean – but either way someone, somewhere got the idea of steeping West Indian bay leaves in rum. That way it could be splashed on like a cologne, and the sailor wouldn’t have to rub leaves on his skin like a weirdo.

From there, the stuff can be traced to St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. A merchant – most likely a Dane named A. H. Riise – got the idea of adding citrus peel, cinnamon and cloves to the bay leaf-rum mix, then straining it and selling it as a ready-to-use cologne. Other Caribbean merchants invented their own particular blends. From there it spread to New York City, then to the rest of the United States, before heading over to Europe.

And the rest, as they say, is history. For decades, American barber shops reeked of the stuff, along with the heavenly smell of Clubman talc. Bay Rum kinda fell out of favor in the 1960s, but is an awesome, manly scent that surely deserves a Renaissance!


Georgia Tech 2017 Football Schedule

2016 was a good year for the Jackets, with big wins over Virginia Tech, georgia and Kentucky in the Gator Bowl (I refuse to call it the “Taxslayer Bowl”). Even though Justin Thomas is gone, I’m sure Tech will have a great 2017 season!

As always, I help you keep up with downloadable versions of Georgia Tech’s 2017 football schedule for Microsoft Outlook and Google\Apple devices.

Because college football start times usually aren’t known until a couple weeks in advance, the games are listed as starting at 8AM the day of. The schedule also lists the location of the game instead of the network. So “Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA”, instead of “ESPN”. This is so Google Calendar can add a groovy background image to the event on your Android device. A reminder is also scheduled for 13:00 (1:00PM ET) the day before each game.

The schedule is available in two formats: CSV (for Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo! Calendar) and iCal (for Google Calendar and Apple devices). The CSV version is compatible with Microsoft Outlook 98 or later, but has only been tested with Outlook 2016. I “tested” the iCal version by importing it into my Google Calendar (extensive QA, to be sure). Both versions are included in the zip file; please be sure to import the right one after downloading!

Georgia Tech 2017 Football Schedule

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Here are instructions for importing the file into Outlook. Make sure to read the all the instructions before you begin, as there are some options you may wish to change before importing the calendar.

Continue reading “Georgia Tech 2017 Football Schedule”

Bad Movie Reviews: “The Concorde… Airport ’79”

Well, I “enjoyed” a blast from the past watching The Concorde… Airport ’79 last night. None of the Airport movies were that great, but IMHO this one was the worst by far. Ridiculously low budget. Horrible special effects. But the worst thing of all? A story that’s literally telegraphed within the first minute of the movie!

It begins in Paris, where a Concorde takes off for Dulles and its new owner, Federation World Airlines. As an aside, I’d almost forgotten that Concorde was built to be a “regular” plane, in the sense that airlines like Delta and Pan Am were supposed to buy them and add them to their fleets. Of course, the oil crisis and anti-SST protests nixed all that, so Concorde was dumped on to Air France and British Airways.

Anyway, as the plane approaches Dulles for landing we see a drone test being conducted on the Virginia coast by defense contractor Harrison Industries. The drone has been built to take down jet fighters, and looks like K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider in missile form. WHY DOES A MISSILE NEED BLINKY LIGHTS ON THE OUTSIDE? AND COULD THESE TWO EVENTS POSSIBLY BE RELATED SOMEHOW?

The plan is, the Federation Concorde will fly back to Paris the next morning, then on to Moscow for a “goodwill visit” ahead of the 1980 Moscow Olympics (the film was shot was pre-boycott, I guess). But wait: local hotshot reporter Maggie Whelan is taking that flight… because the NBC affiliate in DC just has money to burn, I guess.

The night before the flight, an accountant from Harrison Industries shows up at Maggie’s house alleging that company CEO, Dr. Kevin Harrison, has illegally sold weapons to Cuba, Angola, Uganda, record company executives, the New England Patriots, and every other scummy organization you can think of. The accountant tells Whelan that someone will give her documents to prove this the next morning… but then a hitman just kinda walks through the front door (without knocking? how RUDE!) and shoots him. He takes a few half-hearted shots at Maggie and leaves. And oh… did I mention that Maggie is DATING KEVIN HARRISON? What a coincidence, amirite?

So… the plot magically falls into place: Maggie is handed the documents as she’s boarding Concorde. Harrison sees this and knows the evidence is going to send him to Federal Pound-Me-In-The-Ass prison, so has the next drone test moved up to that morning. One of his guys rigs the drone’s software to “have a fault” (wink-wink!) and blow up the Concorde. Of course, our heroes, the pilots, save the plane. So Harrison has fighter jets sent out to take down Concorde (and hey, what private citizen DOESN’T have his own personal air force?). The pilots once again save the day and make an emergency landing at Orly.

Harrison has one last chance: instead of, ya know, immediately rushing to the NBC office in Paris and breaking the story of her boyfriend illegally selling weapons to America’s greatest enemies, Maggie decides to go sightseeing or something. Maybe get a croissant at a SUPER-CUTE café in Montmartre? I dunno. We don’t know, because the movie chooses to take this time to show the two pilots in a bar, specifically to show George Kennedy’s soft, sensitive side. HE’S TOUGH AS NAILS, BUT HIS WIFE DIED AND HE MISSES HER, YOU GUYS!

Anyway, this allows one of Harrison’s henchmen to disguise himself as a mechanic and rig the cargo door to open after the plane takes off the next morning. Yes, the next morning: although the Concorde was beat to hell evading drones and missiles – doing barrel rolls and loop-the-loops like it was a giant goddamn F-16 – and half the rubber wore off the tires making that dramatic “stops 5 feet before the end of the runway” emergency landing… it’ll be ready to fly again in less than 12 hours! If Trump really wants to build that wall, he should hire these guys! Also, Harrison must have Scrooge McDuck money to pull all this off. If I gave you an hour to get to Orly airport, find a mechanic’s outfit (complete with ID) and build a device that can press the keypad buttons on the cargo door when the plane reaches a certain altitude… could you do it? It’s not like you can go to Lowe’s and ask for a “Concorde cargo door sabotager”.

So the plane takes off for Moscow the next day and, sure enough, the cargo door opens as planned. Holes start ripping through the fuselage, causing people to almost fall out of the plane. Interestingly, the holes only appear under actors we know, not the nameless extras seated throughout the plane. Odd coincidence, that. Of course the pilots – who are goddamn national heroes by this point – manage to land the plane in a snowbank in the Alps. There are a few bumps and bruises, but everyone is OK. The movie ends with the last people getting off the plane, which fades to a shot of the Concorde flying (peacefully!) through the air. It’s like they ran out of money at the very end and the writers withheld the ending or something.

Poor Martha
You deserved better, Martha.

So… where do I even begin with this?

As mentioned, the Concorde is treated like a giant jet fighter, able to do almost anything an F-16 can… even down to evading two Exocet missiles at once! But the best part is when, in an attempt to evade one of the missiles, the pilot opens a window, sticks his arm out, and fires a flare (to throw off the heat-seeking missile, you see). Because sticking your arm out the window at MACH 2 won’t instantly break it into a hundred pieces – it’s just like tossing an empty soda bottle out the window of a moving car! And all that, as if some dinky flare is somehow gonna confuse the heat-seeking missile compared to four giant Rolls-Royce engines that have pumping out 10,000 pounds of thrust (each!) for an hour. Spoiler: it works.

And the effects… woo, boy. This is some of the worst mattework you’ll ever see: at one point, you can even see a smudged fingerprint or streak in the sky as the “plane” flies by. But that’s only scratching the surface: shadows and light rarely make any sense: why is the Concorde lit from the OPPOSITE SIDE of the sun? Why does this jet fighter retain the same lighting as it flies through the sky? Some of the planes are clearly models they didn’t even bother putting little pilots into. Explosions sometimes don’t line up with where they’re supposed to be, and most of the time they’re transparent enough so you can see through them to the undamaged plane.

Oh, and speaking of the plane… ohmygosh it’s so hideous inside. The interior walls are a sickly shade of beige that reminds me of the smoker’s lounge at Salt Lake City International Airport. There’s brown plaid on the seats and on the bulkheads. Remember the Regal Beagle from Three’s Company? Yeah, like that, only it’s a plane. Either that, or it’s like the Steak and Ale at Northlake Mall in Atlanta circa 1978, only in the sky.

But the best worst part of the film is the cast. Robert Wagner plays Evil White Guy™ Dr. Kevin Harrison. George Kennedy plays hero pilot Capt. Joe Patroni, while Alain Delon plays French pilot Capt. Paul Metrand. Aside: I liked that Kennedy used the word “boffed” early in the film; I hadn’t heard that word in years! Eddie Albert plays Eli Sands, the airline’s president; oddly, he looks like he needs to take a shit really badly throughout most of the film. Which makes it weird that Martha Raye plays a passenger with a bladder problem that actually needs to go to the bathroom several times in the film. But she often can’t, because sax player Jimmie “J.J.” Walker – and yes, he literally walks around the cabin playing the sax – is smoking joints in the bathroom. It’s kinda funny: they show him smoking out the bathroom, yet when he finally opens the door, no smoke comes out, and no one notices the smell (also, Concorde apparently only had one bathroom). Cicely Tyson plays a mom who’s taking a heart (like, an actual human heart) to her son who is awaiting emergency surgery in France; during turbulence, the cooler almost files open, but it’s saved by sports reporter Robert Palmer (John “That’s Incredible!” Davidson) who is only on the flight because he’s boffing (ha!) Russian gymnast Alicia Rogov (Andrea Marcovicci) who is going home to Moscow. Oh, and how could I forget: Charo makes an appearance as a snooty passenger with a snooty little dog. There was some kinda law back in the 70s that any ensemble TV show or movie required Charo.

So yeah… as far as the cast goes, it was almost like an episode of The Love Boat, but on a plane. But Mercedes McCambridge (the evil voice of The Exorcist) is also in it, as is David Warner (who has been in a hundred things, like Ripper Street, Wallander, Inspector Lewis, Penny Dreadful, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Mad Dogs – and, less glamorously, What’s New, Scooby-Doo?). Ed Begley Jr. shines as “Rescuer #1” (yes, really). Also, José Ferrer has a role in the TV version (which was cut from the version I saw), Harry Shearer has a voice role, and Arrested Development and Archer star Jessica Walter plays Kennedy’s dead wife in flashback, which I don’t remember at all.

So yeah… it’s a shit film. But is it is good shit film? Meh – I give it a 4 on the Shitty Film Scale, where 1 is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and 10 is Road House. It’s worth watching – once! – for the lols, but not much else.

My Top Albums Of 2016

Sorry this post is so late – I typically try to get it out sometime in late December… but between shopping, other holiday stuff, and being sick as a dog for a couple weeks, I just didn’t have it in me to write this until now.

So… I called 2014 a “down year for music”, then called 2015 “even worse”. Well, it seems like 2016 was a bit of a “recovery year”. While it wasn’t one for the ages, I actually did have trouble picking out just ten albums for this list. And, as always, there are stats after the list.

 My Top Albums of 2016

10) Xiu Xui – Xui Xui Plays the Music of Twin Peaks – When I was a teen, I went though a “noise music” phase. Current 93, Einstürzende Neubauten, Nurse With Wound… that sort of thing. Xui Xui is just as “challenging” as those bands. They’re certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, and I certainly wouldn’t blame you for any “WTF?” comments. But while Xui Xui is “just okay” in my book, I really liked this album. The constraints of having to cover Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack not only kept them from going totally off the rails, it actually adds something to the music to hear Xui Xui cover it. This is almost like a David Lynch fever dream. Again, I won’t fault you for not liking it, but this is certainly one of the most “innovative” albums of the year.

9) David Bowie – Blackstar – Honesty time: I love Bowie’s 70s music. He was indeed an innovator and challenger of the status quo, not just in music, but also, in his own way, of culture itself. Yet, I just couldn’t get in to any of Bowie’s work after Let’s Dance. He’s just “not my thing”. I only include this album on the list: a) to pacify any of my friends who might read this list and go nuts at its omission; and b) as an overall tribute to all the great musicians who died in 2016.

8) Memoryhouse – Soft Hate – Memoryhouse is one of those bands I really should like. After all, they kinda sound like Beach House, and I like Beach House, right? Yet, despite several honest attempts to listen to their music, it just never “clicked” with me… that is, until this year’s Soft Hate. I can’t quite put my finger on why that is, though. This album is self-released, so maybe someone at SubPop tried pushing them in a direction they didn’t want to go. I dunno. All I know is, I like this.

7) Julianna Barwick – Will – Man, Julianna Barwick hits it out of the park.. again! I can’t be arsed to check, but I’m pretty certain that all three of her albums – The Magic Place, Nepenthe and now Will – have made it to my “best of” lists in their respective release years. I could try to come up with a million adjectives to describe her music – “dreamy”, “atmospheric”, “ethereal”, “unearthly”, “angelic”, “elegiac”… but if you’ve never heard her before all you need to know is this: ya know those beautiful (but tiny) snippets of music that you used to hear between This Mortal Coil songs? She has albums full of the stuff, and it’s fantastic.

6) Warpaint – Heads Up – The ladies from L.A. are back, and with a bang, too. Heads Up is a terrific album, but most of the hype on this disc comes from the lead-off single, “New Song” which is just… ON FIRE! The rest of the album holds its own, but nothing else even approaches the awesomeness of “New Song”. Not that it could. Still, it’s a solid effort all around, rather than one of those “one great song and 10 filler songs” albums. Good job, ladies! Can’t wait to hear what’s next!

5) Ladyhawke – Wild Things – New Zealand’s Pip Brown is back! And although she’s back to her synth-heavy sound after a brief detour with the somewhat guitar-heavy Anxiety, she still has the same problem: the singles off Wild Things are fantastic songs you can listen to over and over again… but the rest of the album is pretty weak. “A Love Song” and “Sweet Fascination” are easily two of my favorite songs of the year… yet “Let It Roll”, “Hillside Avenue”, “Wild Things” and the rest of the album is just… fine, I guess. Like a good dinner at Applebee’s.

4) Still Corners – Dead Blue – Man, where did these guys come from? I know, I know: the UK. But their music is almost… addictive. This is one of those albums you can listen to and think “yeah, this is OK”. But 20 minutes later, you’ve got this song or that song in your head. So you listen again. And the next thing you know, you’ve listened to the album 14 times in a row! While a song like “Down with Heaven and Hell” showcases what this band can do, there really isn’t a bad song on this disc. I’ve been a fan since 2013’s Strange Pleasures – and I’m STILL kicking myself for not paying $8 to see them at Snug Harbor because it was on a Tuesday and I’m lame. I won’t make that mistake again. This album is totally its own thing, yet I can hear echoes of the best of Cocteau Twins and other 4AD bands. It makes me happy and nostalgic at the same time.

3) Postiljonen – Reverie – I loved Postiljonen’s debut album, Skyer, so much so that it was #6 on my “best of 2013” list. But Skyer was a mix of upbeat synthpop tunes and slow, dreamy songs. I much preferred the former over the latter. Yet this Swedish band seemed to do the opposite on this disc. “Go!” is an almost-dancable tune, but the rest of the album – while eminently listenable and beautiful – is just a bit too sedate for my tastes. That’s not a knock, exactly. It just means that this disc is something you have to be in a chill-out mood for, instead of something you can do chores to.

2) Mint Julep – Broken Devotion – I’ve “been into” music for 30 years, and yet I’m still surprised how a band can appear out of nowhere and just wedge their way into the #2 spot on your “best of” list. I’d never even heard of this band, until that fateful night when Spotify recommended it to me. Wow! Thanks, Spotify! This disc is just… intricately-layered electronic nirvana with some lovely vocals thrown in to boot! It’s even one of those albums where a song starts and you think “oh, I’m not going to like this at all”… yet you do. The album has 9 lovely original songs, but I think their cover of When in Rome’s “The Promise” is the best introduction to the band one could possibly have:

1) Marsheaux – Ath.Lon – Surprise, surprise: my favorite band of the 2010s got their second #1 album of the year! Guys, I wish I could explain my love for this band to you, but the best analogy I’ve yet come up with is a teenage crush. Remember that? When your heart was so full you thought it was going to burst, and all you could think about in any given moment was her (or him)? I have that same exact feeling when I listen to this band. Hell, I even feel that way when talking about them: “yeah I never woulda thought The One would be a synthpop band from Greece, but… here we are”! And this album… well, it just might be their best one yet. I’m not 100% sold on the opening track – “Burning” – but I can listen to the rest of the album over and over and over again (and, according to, I did just that this year). This band just has… that sound, man, that certain “it”. There are a ton of electronic bands out there that sound exactly like something from the 80s. Hell, many of them even go so far as to have 80s style cover art, complete with album names written in “laser beams” above computer-generated checkerboards. But somehow, Marsheaux manages to sound so much like those early 80s electronic bands, yet fully modern at the same time. How they manage to do it I’ll never know… I just hope they never stop doing it! This is a band I’m helplessly, hopelessly deeply in love with.

“Safe Tonight”, the first single off the album:

“Like a Movie”, a split-screen video with one band member in Athens, the other in London (hence the album’s name, Ath.Lon):

My favorite song on the album, the totally dreamy “Mediterranean”:

Honorable Mentions

Chromatics – Just Like You EP
The Colorist & Emiliana Torrini – The Colorist & Emiliana Torrini
Montmartre – Hope
Nice as Fuck – Nice as Fuck
Nite Jewel – Liquid Cool
Pylon – Live
Shura – Nothing’s Real

Continue reading “My Top Albums Of 2016”

Outlook 2016’s “Unsafe Rules”

Microsoft Outlook has a robust system of rules that you can use to move, copy, delete (or alert you) when you receive an email based on a number of conditions.

One option I use quite a bit is “when I receive an email with x in the subject line, run a script”. Here’s why: I have an app that downloads files to a specific folder that cannot be changed. When the downloads are complete, I want to move those file(s) to a shared network folder. So I have Outlook set up to where if I send an email to myself with a certain string of letters and numbers, a script runs that moves the file(s) from one folder to the other (I often want to do this while away from the computer, hence the need for the Outlook rule and script).

However, it would appear that December’s updates for Office 365 removed the “run a script” option from the rules, along with a couple other “unsafe rules”. Thankfully, it appears that Microsoft didn’t remove the options, it just hid them. If, like me, you use the “run a script” option, here’s how you can re-enable it:

  1. Close Outlook, if running.
  2. Open Regedit.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\16.0\Outlook\Security 
  4. Right-click on an empty space in the right pane and choose New > DWORD Value. Name the new value EnableUnsafeClientMailRules and set its value to 1.
  5. Close Regedit; open Outlook.

At this point, go to the “Rules & Alerts” applet. You should see that the “(error)” message next to any existing “run a script” rules is gone, although you might have to check the box to actually enable the rule again.