The Standard #43

The wise gentleman comprehends the strength and value of living a life of integrity. During critical affairs arising from a moral or ethical dilemma, a learned gentleman is wisely deliberate and unequivocal regarding his ideological position. He understands that his words are absent merit or worth if he has to be badgered or shamed into speaking for what is righteous and just. Decency need not be stubbornly coaxed or passionately implored for proper address, nor should truth be shrouded by purposeful ambiguity that benefits self interests. Words and action are delivered with thoughtful reflection and measured balance. Because, during defining moments of uncertainty and unprincipled behavior, the upstanding gentleman is a moral constant, leading a life representative of virtue and rectitude in a world rife with turmoil.

The Standard #42

A gentleman understands that position and power should not be prostituted for profit and pleasure. Rather, an honorable gentleman understands his platform is erected upon pillars of purpose and principle. Embracing a mission of justice and service, he understands that power and prosperity can be perverted if treated as a self-serving priority. Therefore, his conduct is grounded in truth, integrity, and righteous action. A gentleman that declares himself a leader will work at the behest and best interests of the people. Superlative servitude within a community is at its best within the sphere of sacrifice. Power should be wielded for the community and never against it.

Review – Dolce & Gabbana – Velvet Cypress

Offering full transparency, my current role of supervisor in supply chain management continues to be physically and emotionally taxing. The complex universe of people management is a strenuous exercise in patience, empathy, and conflict resolution. In addition to standard family responsibilities, it feels that every facet of my life revolves around addressing a demand or providing resolution to a problem. Simply: I just need a day when I am not needed. That being stated, today I am directing my focus on a cologne that was slated for review during last Father’s Day, but product was not in stock for a gentleman’s assessment.

If you recall a few posts I wrote around that time, the theme centered around a gentleman pampering himself. Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress is a perfect illustration of that point. Starting at a modest (well, perhaps not) $230.00, this is the most expensive cologne I have ever trialed for review. The latest from Dolce & Gabbana’s exclusive Velvet Collection (collection launched in 2011), Velvet Cypress promises a scent that pays homage to the late summer Italian countryside. Well, given my current challenges at work and home, I sincerely hope this is the case. Now, lets dive into the details.

Observations

Top Notes: Bergamot, Sicilian Lemon

Middle Notes: Galbanum, Clary Sage

Base Notes: Virginian Cedar Wood, Cypress Wood, Balsam Fir

  • Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress arrives in a dense, rectangular flask with its top embossed with a smooth, circular velvet strip. A bronze nameplate adorns the front of the flask. The presentation exudes a simple, solid sophistication befitting of a gentleman that appreciates class and subtlety.
  • With a vibrant rush of bergamot and lemon, expect a welcoming committee of bitter and sweet citrus notes during the introductory phase of Velvet Cypress. It is a light, refreshing affair as the top scent isn’t overwhelmed by its citrus components.
  • The transition toward the middle notes is delicate, as the heart becomes ever so green with the presence of clary sage and galbanum. The experience is slightly earthy and warm. And consistent with its top note counterpart, the middle notes are neither obnoxious or unbearably strong.
  • The ending has a mellow dry-down with subtle hints of fresh spice. The woody aroma is fairly light. Truthfully, I thought the scent would be much heavier than I expected. My only complaint is I wish the fragrance was stronger. A gentleman will require approximately 8-10 sprays to enjoy the full benefits of Velvet Cypress. I would estimate a gentleman could extract 4-6 hours of performance before the scent begins fade.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress is properly suited for daytime and early evening occasions. An easy-going, sophisticated scent with a moderate lifespan, business and business-casual settings are appropriate for a gentleman’s usage. Given the price-tag – as previously noted – save Velvet Cypress for those moments when you want to indulge in looking and feeling your best.
  • Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Cypress 1.7 fl. oz. $230.00, 5.0 fl. oz. $430.00,  – Available at Dolce & Gabbana, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and other fine men’s department stores

Standard Recommendations – Jack Black – Turbo Body Bar Scrubbing Soap w/ Blue Lotus & Lava Rock

Alright, allow me to address a significant detail that could prove to be problematic for some gentlemen: The Jack Black Turbo Body Bar is going to cost you $15.00 per bar. Yes, there is not a need to reload the page and read the previous sentence again – you read it correctly the first time. Now, I won’t gloss over the price-tag and pretend that this would not pose an issue for the average gentlemen. Because, in all likelihood of a gentleman’s standard shopping practice, he can procure an 8-10 count of regular soap for far less and utilize it for far longer. Without any doubt, the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar is a specialty soap. So, what makes this soap so special that a gentleman is willing to drop $15.00 on a single bar? Well, I am happy that you posed that question, let’s discuss the why in more detail.

As I have become more comfortable, relaxed, and confidant with my grooming regimen; I have settled upon the reality that it perfectly fine for a gentleman to pamper himself. Disabuse yourself of thoughts that include fanciful affectations accompanied by a long, drawn-out preoccupation with a mirror. Seriously, it is not that serious. Caring about one’s appearance need not be complicated; it only requires thoughtful, detailed attention to hygiene and health. Now, regarding the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar, this is one of the best body bar soap that I have ever used. First and foremost, the lather that it generates is absolutely incredible. It is wildly rich and ridiculously foamy. With only 3-4 circular rotations in your washcloth, a gentleman will certainly enjoy a lather that builds and builds during his entire time in the shower. The bar itself is gigantic – it didn’t fit into my meager plastic soap dish. It is double the size of average bar soap by far.

And with its brawny body, the soap’s fragrance is powerful and robust without being too heavy. Its pungent aroma will surely dominate your bathroom, but in a good way. The exfoliating qualities arrive with a modest granular texture that isn’t overly abrasive, however, a gentleman can expect soft and smooth after exiting the shower. It is gentle on the skin, but it gets the job done. Now, the label does tout the ability of this soap being a pain exfoliant, but I cannot attest to that fact. At the time of usage, my back was really sore, but I did not enjoy any noticeable difference in pain levels after using this soap. Nevertheless, the Jack Black Turbo Body Bar will leave no doubt that it is working hard, generating a superb lather, and dutifully scrubbing away dirt without leaving any nasty residue. And actually, I did notice the absence of soap scum that sometimes builds up from regular soap.

Now, let’s revisit that price-tag. One can argue that $15.00 for a bar of soap is steep. In the interest of full disclosure, I was able to use a single bar for approximately 1 month before I had to open another bar. Sure, your standard soap from Target will perhaps last longer. However, as I stated before, this is a specialty soap and there is nothing wrong with a gentleman that pampers himself. The Jack Black Turbo Bar would make a great Father’s Day gift or really a gift for any occasion. This is a product that I definitely recommend for a gentleman that wants to experience an invigorating washing experience – you won’t regret it.

Product Specifications

Natural Lava Rock: gently polishes skin, leaving skin supple, smooth and clean

Blue Lotus and Ginkgo Biloba: help combat fatigue and stimulate the senses

Murumuru and Shea Butters: nourish and hydrate skin

Sodium Palm Kernelate, Sodium Palmate, Water, Potassium Palm Kernelate, Fragrance, Palm Kernel Acid, Pumice (Lava Rock), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Glycerin, Potassium Palmate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Sodium Gluconate, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Protein, Sodium Chloride, Palm Acid, Nymphaea Coerulea (Blue Lotus) Flower Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Bran, Avena Sativa (Oat) Bran, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Echinacea Angustifolia Extract*, Cymbopogon Schoenathus (Lemongrass) Extract*, Juniperus Communis Fruit Extract*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Alvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract*, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract*, Rumex Cripus (Yellow Dock) Root Extract*, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Petroselinum Crispum, Astrocaryum Murumuru Seed Butter, Tetrasodium EDTA, Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492) *Certified Organic

For more product details, please visit Jack Black HERE for information.

Review – Kenneth Cole – Kenneth Cole Black Bold

kc-blackWell, to fully admit the absolute truth, I am woefully behind on reviews. With Father’s Day steadily approaching, no time seems better than the present to dive into some grooming products for some deserving dads around the globe. Therefore, let us begin with a familiar brand that most gentlemen tend to favor – Kenneth Cole. The spotlight today shines upon a Kenneth Cole offering titled Black Bold. Now, Black Bold is the evolution of the brand’s signature house fragrance for men – Kenneth Cole Black. Bold Black was launched in 2016 with perfumer Harry Fremont at the helm. I’ve actually had this latest incarnation in my collection for an extended time now. Allow me to offer a few thoughts and you can decide if this scent best suits you or that special father in your life.

Observations

Top Notes: zesty mandarin, frozen ginger, chilled watermint, and tonic 

Middle Notes: ancient cedarleaf, ground nutmeg, lotus flower, and incense smoke  

Base Notes: black & blonde woods, suede, violet leaves, soft musks, and ambergris 

  • Despite the labeling, Kenneth Cole Black Bold scent is actually quite modest and simple in its delivery. The top notes begin with a slight jolt; retaining a mild, zesty flavor from the beginning before settling quietly during the middle notes. The hints of citrus is crisp, cool, and distinct –  but again – not too powerful that the senses are overwhelmed.
  • The middle and base notes proceed hand in hand with spice and wood being the notable aromatic highlights. The dry-down is full in nature, but not necessarily heavy or weighty.
  • Arriving in a short, jet black flask with a leather composite encompassing the wider body of the body, a gentleman can calculate between 4-5 spritzes to enjoy the fullness of Bold Black.
  • Kenneth Cole Black Bold does not exhibit an extended stay after its initial application. However, I would not advise reapplying this scent as the layers may result in an unpleasant smell. Some scents can be applied twice during the course of the day, but I fear the overlap of notes presented here would not yield positive results. If you want this scent to stick with you during the latter part of the day, I would humbly advise applying it closer to evening.
  • A gentleman can dutifully deploy this fragrance in both casual and business casual settings. Due to its spicy and woody dry-down, Kenneth Cole Black Bold would probably work best if applied during the evening.
  • Kenneth Cole Black Bold 1.7 fl oz. $60.00, 3.4 fl oz. $76.00 – available at Kenneth Cole, Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and other fine men’s department stores
Gentlemen’s Standard Approved
Disclosure: TGS was not financially compensated for this post. Item was purchased for personal use. The opinions expressed are completely my own based on my experience.

Daddy Diary – Fatherhood Is…

Fatherhood is having a frank discussion with the nursing staff to switch your daughter’s room because the adjacent occupant is disruptive and your child needs her sleep.

Certainly, this will not be a surprise for many individuals, but fatherhood does not arrive with a meticulously crafted how-to manual that addresses every parenting contingency. It is simply impossible to document every circumstance that may or will arise. Now, I was inspired to write this post after a fellowship meeting with other men from my congregation. It has almost been two years since I have been in the presence of like-minded men; exchanging and offering wisdom to ferment personal growth.

Fatherhood and manhood were the main topics of discussion. Now, if a man is so blessed to become a father, he should understand that the responsibility is not merely a novelty – it is a serious undertaking. And so, here, I offer a brief testimony with hopes of offering wisdom and clarity to a newly minted father or one that is already in the game. If the tone seems a bit serious, don’t fret, I plan to pen a more upbeat post soon.

1. Fatherhood is singing and cradling your baby girl to sleep in a noisy emergency room until a hospital bed becomes available in the pediatric unit. Fatherhood is then entertaining baby girl for a full day as she must remain enclosed in a hospital crib for care.

2. Fatherhood is rising in the early a.m. to get your daughter on the potty, showered & groomed, dressed, fed breakfast, and then dropped off at daycare. Fatherhood is situating your own shower, groom, and dress routine between the aforementioned child tasks before speeding off to work.

3. Fatherhood is facing down criticism from individuals that negatively question and undermine your parenting. Fatherhood is understanding that one should not seek the approval from those individuals that diminish your character. Rather, fatherhood is knowing your reward lies with a higher, greater power.

4. Fatherhood is creativity – as in carrying a high chair into the bathroom while you shower so you can seat your child nearby for comfort. With fatherhood, you have to think outside of the box.

5. Fatherhood is setting the alarm on one’s phone to periodically wake up throughout the night to administer required breathing treatments for your child. Said mission must be performed quietly and discreetly, therefore, a pillow must be employed to muffle the loud hum of the nebulizer while twisting one’s body to ensure successful delivery of medicine.

6. Fatherhood is knowing that discipline requires the presence of love. Fatherhood is understanding that discipline is followed with a hug, kiss, and explanation of why discipline was required in the first place.

7. Fatherhood is feeling anger, pain, and fear when you discover a child does not want to interact with your child because her hair does not look like his mother or sister. Fatherhood is having wisdom to instill strong self-esteem and confidence in your children.

8. Fatherhood is cleaning up a diarrhea related accident from your son’s car seat at 2 a.m. – only to discover that your washing machine is down because your daughter’s sock has obstructed the washer pump. Fatherhood is repairing said washing machine for the second time – the first repair was not child related.

9. Fatherhood is maintaining a well-groomed lawn, washing dishes, packing your daughter’s lunch, ironing your children’s clothes, shoveling snow, killing renegade insects, etc. Fatherhood is maintaining all of your mental faculties as you head into work to deal with an array of madness.

10. Fatherhood is doubt. Fatherhood is making mistakes. Fatherhood is learning. Fatherhood is fear. Fatherhood is love, patience, dedication, and sacrifice.

Hustle

hustleDo not be deceived by the theatrical bluster – albeit woefully dangerous and misguided – that is currently emanating from the oval office; it is but an obfuscation of leadership wrought with ineptitude, ignorance, and arrogance. Unabashed and shameless for all to bear witness, policy and nominations have been clumsily introduced, and not with the much-needed objective of improving the nation’s stature, rather the current direction is to monetarily expand and solidify a family legacy – country first be damned. And what remains is a wholesale rejection of basic decency, critical intelligence, and any semblance of reality.

Thus far, the political sleight of hand is seamless, executed with guile and purposeful duplicity. The goal is to pacify and placate a constituency – comfortable with ambivalence, content with apathy, or desperate for a return of days past  – with promises barren of commitment, truth, and logic. And so, a varying class of individuals, indoctrinated with privilege and inalienable rights, have been seduced by showmanship devoid of substance. However, time will eventually become the bearer of truth, and when thundering rhetoric does not equal tangible results, the puppet strings will be laid bare for all to see. And when the realization of how badly the nation has been played is apparent, the biggest and longest con game will have been successfully executed by history’s foremost confidence man – Donald J. Trump.

Black Thought

frederick_douglass“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

-Frederick Douglass

As a parent, it is absolutely paramount that you ensure your child’s maturation is nurtured and cultivated for maximal, positive growth. To be certain, there are a myriad of unfortunate realities that work tirelessly to undermine and hinder your child’s development. Harsh realities such as poverty, crime, low self-esteem, bullying, and poor academic performance can lead to self-destructive behavior that regretfully transitions into adulthood. Moreover, if that adult decides to have children, there is a high risk that self-destructive behavior will be consciously or subconsciously transferred to the subsequent generation.

Truth: Some of the biggest bullies, critics, and abusers live right in the household. And that is a reality that we cannot tacitly accept. We have to do better. We must become increasingly more active by protecting and educating our youth, ensuring that they are intelligently prepared for the life that awaits them. We have to encourage. We have to impart meaningful wisdom. We have to enlighten them. We must unconditionally love them. We must fortify the integrity of their spirit and reinforce the foundation of their character. They deserve our parenting best – let’s get to work.

The Road

supervisorTo be absolutely certain, the year 2016 presented quite the series of challenges that taxed me both mentally and emotionally. If a gentleman is so fortunate to live long enough, he will undoubtedly realize that life is lived through adversity and attrition. And so, I discovered myself during such a season, fighting against a torrent of unfortunate and distressing circumstances. Sure, I attained personal triumphs that varied in significance and impact, however, I registered a monumental disappointment that reduced me to tears of defeat as I sat on my couch – September 2, 2016. I remember that date very well because it was a day prior to my birthday. And it was also the day I received a rejection notice regarding a position I applied for at work.

Now, I am not a stranger to receiving bad news in my employment history. I have had certain benefits suspended. I have lived under the specter of unemployment and I have been terminated. I have received the unfortunate news that I was not selected for employment. Nevertheless, this moment of rejection resonated in a fashion that was tinged with hopelessness and defeat. The strain of fatherhood and being a husband was tremendous, and I was in the midst of collapsing under the weight. The position I sought was intended to help alleviate the burden and start correcting the course with a strong finish for the year.

Preparing for the position, I took all the necessary steps – or at least I thought – to be successful in my bid to secure the promotion. I identified the position a year before a vacancy would present itself. I periodically followed up with a team member to learn more about the position. I continued to work diligently in my role at the time; I even earned a promotion within my own department. So when an opening unexpectedly became available, I sought out to take advantage of the opportunity. I met with the director (the position was in another department), increased my research regarding the new role, and earnestly prepped myself for the impending interview for nearly a month. My performance during the interview was executed to perfection. Nonetheless, it was deemed that I was not the best candidate for the position. I was devastated.

As I opened my e-mail and read through the generic reasoning for not being selected, I sat in disbelief as if suspended in time. In my mind, this was my last gasp gambit at turning around a less than stellar year and beginning anew. I was lost. I was shrouded in uncertainty and I was terrified. And so, I sat in solemnity and solitude in tears. Later on that week, detailing my intense job preparation, my pastor told me the Lord was simply arranging something better for me and my family. Honestly, the conversation did not leave me hopeful; I was dealing with the immediate reality of confusion and doubt. Wallowing in misery is certainly not productive, so I was back on my work grind within the same week. Soon I was seeking other opportunities and networking throughout the organization. And then something amazing happened – a supervisor in my department surprisingly decided to leave the company.

And then something else amazing happened – my own supervisor encouraged me to apply for the position. Even though I have been referred to as a leader and many individuals have solicited my advice both on professional and personal levels; I never fancied myself a supervisor. When I hired into the company on an entry-level, I firmly dismissed the notion of pursuing upper management despite others urging me to do otherwise. Yet here was an opportunity that suddenly materialized in the wake of my previous disappointment. Fortuitously, I was already in grind mode from the previous job prep, so transitioning my mindset toward a new job goal was seamless. Subsequently, I earned a promotion to supervisor. I was being prepared for something greater after all. A gentleman’s failures are but a crucible, a laborious journey designed to forge character and strength. Because, even when times appear to be their most dire, failure can be success that has yet witnessed fruition.

Style & Substance – Drake’s – Donegal Lambswool Beanie

drakes-beanie-greyYes, dear gentlemen, the time has finally arrived, cooler temperatures are upon us and no head is safe from the nippy elements outdoors. And especially true for gentlemen dealing with the circumstance of barren scalp follicles, it is paramount that some form of protection be employed to negate the cold as much as possible. Options are plentiful, however, a gentleman must display caution and intelligence when choosing a hat. Trust my word, athletic caps fail to deliver the level of sophistication required for a gentleman of your stature. A felt fedora may regretfully boast a grandfatherly feel to it. And a beanie embellished with a playful pom-pom on top – maybe best worn during one’s middle school years. Now, an investment in a fine knit beanie will lend a touch of elegance without hindering your presentation with a dull, boring feeling. This particular beanie, delicately woven with lambswool, showcases an array of fanciful, colored wool flecks that infuse visual character and uniqueness. Whether married to a formal, navy double-breasted overcoat or ruggedly handsome shearling bomber jacket; the selection of a luxurious woolen beanie is but a natural choice to a measure of warmth and style to your cold season wardrobe.

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