"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
Have you ever been punched in the face? Plucked a duck? Wooed a woman in another language? Joined the army? Sailed across the ocean? Stood on principle? Written a poem? Risen to the occasion? Quoted the inimitable Mark Twain?
THE OFFICIAL OLD'S COOL EDUCATION (Handbook, Black Book and Read Book) is our attempt at know-it-all guides to the really important things in life, and each is filled with practical, old-school basics, some hero worship, and the art of living well. We believe you can't buy character — you need to go out into the world and live an upright life worthy of your own admiration. These how-tos'll help you do just that, with class and verve and nerve.
Buy all three – they're the perfect gift for the many manly gentlemen and gentle mentors you've loved and learned from your whole life. Now you have something to give.
How to sink we mean buy the Bismark.
Have you ever bought a used car? And I’m not talking a certified pre-owned Porsche from the sales guy at the local dealership who used to sit behind you in Algebra II in high school now that you’ve made it big – I’m talking about a dodgy Dodge in a dim and dank barn from a shady dood named Shecky? Or blind, from a complete stranger, in a weird part of the country, off of ebay or Craigslist, or Autotrader, with cash?
This is the exact kind of interesting and sometimes futile adventure that I think should be on everyone’s bucket list, especially politicians, lawyers and loud know-it-alls. And social scientists and policy makers and full-time professional wonks too. I even think if you started a company offering foreigners an opportunity to purchase a big-ticket item off the internet and take it with them (or ship it home) as a kind of treasure-hunt adventure into the unsubtle heart of the country, you’d get a lot of takers and I’ll tell you why. It’s the perfect way to see what America is really like – missing teeth, smirks of suspicion, cackalack accents, smiles and all.
Read the rest of this hilarious journey here.
It's almost as easy as E = MC2
Einstein supposedly came up with this riddle (also known as the Zebra Puzzle) and said that 98% of the population wouldn't be able to solve it. To our readers, of course, it's a trivial challenge of inferential logic. Since anyone can easily get the answer on the internet, we aren't going to make this a contest per se — but we would like to hear how long it took you to figure out, without cheating?
1. In a street there are five houses, painted five different colors.
2. In each house lives a person of different nationality.
3. These five homeowners each drink a different kind of beverage, smoke a different brand of cigarette, and keep a different pet.
The question: who owns the fish?
1. The Brit lives in a red house. 2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets. 3. The Dane drinks tea. 4. The green house is next to, and on the left of the white house. 5. The owner of the green house drinks coffee. 6. The person who smokes Pall Malls rears birds. 7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhills. 8. The man living in the center house drinks milk. 9. The Norwegian lives in the first house. 10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats. 11. The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhills. 12. The man who smokes Blue Masters drinks beer. 13. The German smokes Prince. 14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house. 15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.
It's going to take some paper and pencil work, so get to it, brainiacs.
Locked down? Make your own fun and games.
Why not restore, or just drive a vintage automobile? Or experience the thrill of grinding the gears of a classic Land Rover, beautiful with patina and impracticality?
Brain surgery isn't rocket science.
First thing you're going to need is a patient. Preferably one with a brain tumor. If you can't find one with an actual tumor, find someone you don't like, or who's dumb anyway in case something goes wrong. As an aikido teacher I read about once put it very succinctly: sometimes you have to waste a guy to restore harmony to the situation.
Find out how to skillfully open someone's skull up here.
Joining the Army is no joke.
I learned a few very unpolished pearls of wisdom during my (brief) stint in uniform – a hard, dumb, painful lesson in humility – which I’ll be happy to share here:
• Always eat first.
Even James Bond agrees with this – watch Dr. No and you'll see he gives Honey Ryder the same advice. At breakfast.
• Never volunteer for anything. Ever.
• No plan ever survives first contact with the enemy, i.e. everything’s perfect on paper. Same as Tyson’s Punch.
I'll call this last* gem Fizzer's Dictum:
• Why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can stand? Why stand when you can sit? Why sit when you can lie down? Why lie down awake when you can lie down asleep?
*That should've been second to the last gem. Here's the real last one:
• And once you do wake up, preferably early and at the same time every morning, make your bed. First thing.
Somewhere over the rainbow...
Or teach yourself to play an instrument, however well or badly, like you've always wanted. You can buy a good-enough ukulele on Amazon for less than fifty bucks. What are you waiting for? Our main man Ray shows how it's done, while his son Max samurai-swords his way throughout.
Old-school homemade soap – lard, lye, love. That's it. Well, almost. Seriously, when was the last time you made anything from bits and bobs lying around the house with your own bare hands? And don't laugh off the question by quoting Carl Sagan's wonderful: "To make something from scratch you have to first invent the universe."
Relax, this isn't about ABBA. Imagine you are a 19 year old new army recruit in the middle of basic training (or were one once) – tired, cold, homesick – sitting down to breakfast in the dark when you dimly perceive an amorphous, chunky, alive-ish, hot glop of some slurp on your plate. A small smile of recognition crosses your face, since hunger is the best chef: SOS – and I don’t mean ‘help’.
If you've never been in the military, please disregard the enthusiasm in the first paragraph. Shi... on a... er, Creamed Chip Beef is as easy to make as it is delicious and filling. I served it last Christmas, in mess kits for the full, in-the-field flavor, when Uncle Dick, who served in the U.S. Navy during WW II, observed:
"Oh, my, we used to call this foreskins on toast."
Here's the simple recipe:
12 oz package of chipped beef, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups milk, ground pepper to taste. If you can't find chipped beef, you can use regular beef, ham, or even hamburger. Spam in a pinch.
Directions: Cut beef into ribbons or small chunks. Melt butter in pan on medium heat. Whisk in flour. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Bring to simmer and add beef. Pepper to taste. Simmer for five more minutes.
Serve piping hot over toast and then laugh at the yum goodness all the civilians pukes are missing out on!
Writing a screenplay is sweatless, and just takes a tiny bit of work and know-how. Follow the instructions below, crank out 4 brilliant pages a day (120 max), and you're done in time to summer on the Vineyard.
There are three parts to any script – beginning, middle, and end. The introduction takes approximately 25-30 minutes and does just that: introduces us to the characters,/time/place/tone. There is a Plot Point 1 around half an hour in that takes the movie off in a new direction – e.g. there’s a death, or a secret is revealed.
The middle of the movie (50-70 minutes) shows how the characters change/react to Plot Point 1. This could mean a road trip, or a courtship, or the hatching of a murder plan. And it should also start a subtle shift in perceptions or attitude known as character arc.
Plot Point 2 happens around the 75-90 minute mark and swings the action in a different direction or to a new depth. The last 30 minutes or so are about resolving this twist: the girl finally falls for the guy; the bank robbers get caught; a big fight, a race/contest.
JUMP CUT TO JUNE: We can hear a phone ringing in the background and it’s Hollywood calling.
We jumped the shark.
Upped our shaving game, all the way back to 1966 - started using an old's cool Gillette Slim Adjustable K-2, and lathering up with a badger-hair brush and Dr. Bronner's shaving soap.
Reminds us of our old friend Tom Leishman, who taught us the stylish excellence and joys of safety razor shaving way back in Alexandria, Egypt. Because of his sensitive skin, he used one blade a day, showing us the right angles while we listened to Karen Carpenter coo about white lace and promises, and then give us a kiss for luck and we were on our way.
Shower first, or rinse your face with hot water. Use a pre-shave like Proraso, which we like because it's mentholated. Wet your badger brush and put a dime-sized glob of shaving soap on it. We like to face-lather rather than using a lathering bowl, but it's your choice. Get it thick and even.
After you're finished, run an alum block (which you can get at any pharmacy or on Amazon for around $10) over your whole face to take care of any nicks or scrapes. Rinse with cold water. Dry. You can use an aftershave, and there are many on the market as you can imagine. Pick one you like.
We don't use an aftershave, but rejuvenate our face with our own home-made skin moisturizer. See below for the recipe.
Ahh, don't you feel handsomer already?
A man’s best friend.
The sun ain’t your buddy, even though you might think it is, and tanning isn’t recommended either. But a good moisturizer – now there's a friend for life!
Here’s how to make a 100% natural lotion, that can also be made into a sunblock, that you’ll love for the rest of forever.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup almond oil, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup beeswax, 2 tbsp shea butter.
Combine all ingredients in a double boiler; stir occasionally until melted and incorporated. Pour into a jar or tin. To make the sunblock, just add 2 tbsp of zinc oxide at the end of the above recipe. Store in a cool, dry place – you, too, should stay in a cool, dry place, or in the shade. Or wear a hat if you have to go out into the heat of the day.
Or a helmet if you're going to be riding a motorcycle...
How do you spell "freedom?"
Time held me green and dying/Though I sang in my chains like the sea. – Dylan Thomas
There is almost no pleasure in the world for a young man greater than riding a motorcycle for the first time. Easy there, wiseacre, I said almost.
Here’s what you do: go to Craigslist or ebay and buy an all-original 1973 Honda CB175 in Hawaiian Orange for your son (or daughter) for that matter. We’ve already shown you how. Have him name his vehicle: this one is “The Thing.” Teach him how to ride. Get a permit.
Buy a full-face helmet. Nothing fancy. Needs to be full-face – if you’ve ever had a sudden and unwelcome encounter with the asphalt, you know what I mean. And gloves, and ankle boots, and a leather jacket at an absolute minimum. Show her a line (in his mind) between chaos/order and point at it on a summer day.
Libraries are the new university.
Simply read these 10 books, and understand them, and you'll be smarter and better educated – and that's the key isn't it? – than almost anyone in America, including the uppity crust.
In the beginning was the word.
1. Our praise is usually not unconditional, or stated with absolute certainty, but we will say this: If you don't love this book it means only one thing – you are dead.The Odyssey is the most important stone in the foundation of western literature because it is the first. This timeless classic has endured and entertained for 3,000 years for good reason. Read it.
Goethe once wrote something to the effect that the measure of a man's education is that if all the knowledge of the universe was destroyed, how much of the culture could he recreate from memory. We put together what we're calling "Old's Cool U." – what we think are the 10 books you would need to know to be considered civilized, or to at least not embarrass yourself trying to recreate the learned universe. Hit it out of the park with this Homer.
Are you alive? Continue the odyssey here >