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Monday, August 28, 2006

Quittin' time!

I think this outfit might qualify as a "blaze of glory" for my last day at the University of Maryland. By no chance at all, it happens to be the same outfit I wore for my last day at Johns Hopkins University two years ago, so it is now my official "last day suit." (Not that I anticipate ever wearing it again!) Today's tie was handmade by Olive W. Hanson (of linen, I think), and is one of several ties she made that I bought in a large lot, probably an estate lot. I have already waxed nostalgic about the bygone days of homemade ties, so instead of rewaxing I'll direct you to that post.

I won't be wearing ties for the next couple weeks; contrary to popular legend, I don't wear them around the house. We will be packing up in Greenbelt, Maryland, and moving out to Ithaca, New York, for what promises to be a better quality of life. Thus the tie blog will now go on hiatus; thank you for reading, and check back in mid-September!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Last Friday

I would call this striped shirt with Gene Meyer tie "going out in a blaze of glory," but I still have one more day at work, so this is just another run-of-the-mill Freaky Friday entry. You may be thinking you've seen this tie here before, that I've run out of ties and started repeating them, hoping that no one will notice. But such is not the case. While the tie I wore on October 5, 2005, has the same pattern as this one, it is a different tie, done in different colors. No repeats, ever!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Last Thursday: Looking Ahead

To dispel any confusion, this entry is entitled "Last Thursday" because today was my last Thursday at work. Today's tie is a Cornell University tie, a welcoming gift from my new colleagues at Cornell--and I'm not even there yet! The red on the tie is not just any red, it is carnelian, for university founder Ezra Cornell; the white is also significant, representing Cornell's first president, Andrew Dickson White. Here's a closeup of the university insignia that is repeated on the tie:

The small shield in the upper left of the large shield represents the United States; the small shield on the right represents New York State, being a portion of the New York coat of arms; and the open book in the bottom portion of the shield contains Ezra Cornell's vision statement: "I would found an institution where any person can find instruction in any study." (Here's an older version of the insignia, in color.) For a complete history of Cornell's various logos (and the reason this is not called a seal), I recommend this .pdf document at the Cornell website.

The tie was made by Wm. Chelsea Ltd. Custom Designed Neckwear of Madison, Connecticut of a lustrous, heavy silk twill. Thank you to my new compatriots, I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Last Wednesday: Double Your Pleasure

I started out the day with a horizontally-striped tie from Gene Meyer, who breathes new life into the striped tie milieu:

Then, after a nice lunch out with my boss, I had an afternoon meeting. I was late, but it was okay, because the meeting turned out to be a surprise farewell party from my co-workers! And everyone there, of both genders, was wearing a tie! They presented me with a fabulous University of Maryland tie, so I doffed the Gene Meyer tie and put it on:

On the ground floor of our building there is a display case full of University of Maryland merchandise, including three different neckties. This is the one I wanted! I love the turtle-shell pattern, and the Leonard-of-Paris style diagonal band (with M's in the red part), and of course Testudo, the Maryland Terrapin himself. I wish a heartfelt thanks to the third floor crew; I'll miss you guys!

Three more work days to go... Coming up tomorrow is another special tie!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Last Tuesday

Today was my last Tuesday at my current job. Just four more days! I wore a Jhane Barnes tie from my permanent collection: it has the kind of overlapping tiles pattern that I just can't resist. And the shapes remind me of three-dimensional wooden puzzles like this one, like my dad had when I was little and I could never figure out. Well, not "never," as I did eventually figure them out, but it took a long time.

Jhane Barnes's new fall collection is out. The "Pushed" shirt is especially fascinating owing to a novel weaving technique, which Jhane herself describes in a Quicktime video here.


Gene Meyer puts forth this tie with a woven pattern that invites much speculation. The pattern is a simple positive/negative space alternation in two shapes: the borders of one shape define the other shape, in the manner of M.C. Escher's graphical fantasies. Is there any significance to the shapes? Are they stylized ones and zeroes, an oblique reference to the computer age? Are they I's and O's, for Input/Output? They are a mutually exclusive binary system, and as such either of those theories could work. Or they could be lathe-turned wooden candlesticks. Or I'm just reading too much into a simple design. Is it significant that the dark bands are thinner than the light bands? Does anybody really know what time it is? (Positive/Negative is also a song on the second album by Positive Noise, one of the great lost bands of the 80s.)

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I've got a fever...

And the only prescription is more cowbell! Today's tie by Keith Daniels looks like a Liberty floral as seen in a fever dream, replete with what could be floating eyeballs shooting out death rays. Could this tie be from the same Keith Daniels responsible for this collection of mostly awful novelty ties? (I say "mostly" because the Autumn Scene ties are quite nice.) I don't know; if so, I think he should focus his efforts on finding more fabric like this.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Countess Mara

It took a long time for me to get past the embroidered "CM crown" logo on Countess Mara ties, which always struck me as tacky. But with a fab design like this that embodies the whole swinging modernism aesthetic, claiming credit for it right on the work itself makes perfect sense. The self-styled Countess founded her tie business in 1938; it continues today as a brand of necktie giant Randa/Wemco. The Countess issued perhaps the most famous necktie quote of all time: "Tell a man you like his necktie, and you will see his personality unfold like a flower." Mike Segers also has some sweet Countess Mara ties on display over at Knot a Blog.

(If you're keeping track, yes, I skipped Wednesday, I was home in bed with a nasty bug. A perfect tie-wearing day wasted! Drat!)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The whimsical buildings on today's tie are not just any old buildings, they are buildings from Stockholm, adorning the official souvenir tie (designed by Lasse Aberg and Lakritz) of the Stockholm Water Festival. The Festival is held every August to celebrate the cleanliness of the water in and around Stockholm (though according to this report, it has been discontinued). The church-like building is actually the Stadshuset (City Hall, top of this page), the townhouse facade is from the Gamla Stan (old town, second photo on the same page), and the round white building is... I don't know what it is, but I think it's the round white building in the center of this photo of the Gamla Stan waterfront. The remaining building is actually a tugboat, the shark fins are sailboats, the sun is the sun, and the ship could be anyone's. I think that covers everything.

Stockholm is also the basis of the city in Hayao Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service, a delightful animated film about a young witch that I have now seen about a zillion times because we have a VHS tape of it and our two-year-old loves it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Pizza pizza pizza!

Though the exuberant floral pattern could be mistaken for a Lilly Pulitzer design (as Mrs. Veneer did this morning), today's tie is a Liberty of London Archival Design.

On Saturday I took the kids to a professional eating competition. Our favorite* local pizza joint, Three Brothers (which has spawned a chain of 15 restaurants), on the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary, hosted the International Federation of Competitive Eating's Pizza Eating Championship. Eighteen "gurgitators" sat at a long table in the center court of Beltway Plaza to see who could eat the most pizza (16" Neapolitan cheese pizzas, eight slices per pie) in ten minutes. The winner of the $2,500 first prize (presented as a giant check by the Three Brothers themselves, Mario, Peter, and Michael Repole) was 150-pound, mohawk-coiffed Pat "Deep Dish" Bertoletti of Chicago, who ate nineteen slices. Like most of the contestants, he ate standing up, but unlike most of them he did an amusing wiggle dance throughout the contest, presumably to help settle the pizza in his stomach and make room for more. While it was fun to watch, there is something vaguely disturbing about the growing popularity of these spectacles of gluttony and waste. Maybe there's a metaphor there for American society in general (says the man who wears a different tie every day, though in his defense, nearly all of the ties are acquired secondhand and recycled after wearing).

In other news, the countdown has begun: just ten more work days at my current job!

* The original Ledo Pizza restaurant, founded in 1955 just a few miles away, is also the progenitor of a large regional pizza chain and is generally considered just as favorite as Three Brothers (or moreso, in the case of Mrs. Veneer). Our favorite fictional pizza joint is Marilyn Mozzarella Pizzarella Pie Parlours.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Jhane Barnes

Today's tie comes from Maryland native Jhane (nee Jane) Barnes, with a finely-woven spectrum of shiny green and blue silk (with a hint of bronze). People at work are calling me "short-timer" now.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Yes, it is the first anniversary of Burl Veneer's Tie Blog! The first post was on August 11, 2005, but it included a tie that I wore on August 10, so today is the big day: one full year of a different necktie every work day, and some bonus ties on weekends and holidays to boot! For the occasion I have brought out another favorite from my permanent collection, a tie based on Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie-Woogie. (See my two previous Mondrian-inspired ties here.) Mondrian is awesome; neckties are awesome; Mondrian neckties are doubly awesome! So, who's up for another year of neckties?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Paul Klee?

I wore another Paul Klee tie today, I think. The label just says "Rooster," but the design resembles Paul Klee's Oriental Garden, or maybe Figure in a Garden; or it may be based on another painting that I can't find online. As I mentioned before, Paul Klee is probably my favorite twentieth-century artist. Washington's Phillips Collection has a Paul Klee exhibit going on right now through September 10; I hope I can get to that before we leave town.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Monday was a rare tieless weekday, as I worked from home and worked on my home (so we can sell it). But I'm back to my tie routine today with another unmistakable Gene Meyer tie. I doubt he had the national flag of Brazil in mind when he designed it, but there is certainly a resemblance.

My condolences to Michael Segers of Knot a Blog, who lost his father last week. It was a rough week for us tie bloggers.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Pampered Systems Analyst

For a brief, shining period in 2003, Chicago formalwear company Pamper Him offered their own line of ties on ebay. They all had striking retro designs printed on fine silk satin, and were lined and cut perfectly: it takes no effort at all to tie them into a perfect little triangular knot. I accumulated several Pamper Him ties before they disappeared, all of which remain in my permanent collection. I brought one out today to pair with my infamous pink pants. Quite by accident, I discovered the source of Pamper Him's exotic silks: Exotic Silks! Some of the Pamper Him tie fabrics, including this one, are still available in the Modern print gallery.

This will be the last blog entry of the week. My grandfather passed away this week at the age of 91; we will spend Friday driving to North Carolina for Saturday's funeral. While I will wear a tie to the funeral, it will not be flashy, and I will not post it here. It will be one of the very few occasions for which sartorial flair is not only meaningless, but downright inappropriate. Please pardon this moment of gravity in a largely gravity-free oeuvre.

102 Degrees

The temperature reached 102 degrees today, ouch! Did wearing dark colors more suitable to fall or winter keep me cooler through a placebo effect? It was either that or the air conditioning. (Tie by Gene Meyer.)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Today's tie is a hand-marbled Cosette Original from Austin, Texas.

Virtual Florida

Another Florida tie today (this one from Key West Ties rather than Key West Fashions), in honor of our sixth (seventh? eighth?) day in a row of steamy, 90-degree weather. Tuesday's forecast is "Incredibly hot, feeling like 105-110," and Wednesday's forecast is for five degrees hotter. Unfortunately my move 350 miles northward to Ithaca won't happen for another month, so we're stuck in this ungodly heat wave, but it'll the the last one, doggone it! This tie is apparently made of cotton, as it has instructions for washing and drying it on the label, in case you get it soaked with sweat, or spill a pina colada on it or something.