31 October 2009

This Week in Awesome (10/31/09)

Happy Halloween, everybody. I'm going to eschew the obvious and not do a Halloween-themed post, because we've all had about enough of it by now, right? I mean, Halloween is fun, but everything is so overdone these days that it's hard not to get sick of it. Just go buy some 50% off candy.

I was originally heading toward a completely different theme this week, but I decided it wasn't really viable in this context. So, onward... (BTW, all this week's links are video clips.)

This motorist had a slight parking problem that was captured by what seems to be a security camera. Funny, unless it happens to you. (YouTube via BoingBoing)

A mashup of sorts, comedically combining crime-fighting and tasteless fashion. I like this, and hope they do more with it. (Funny or Die)

Finally, see what happens when funny lady Amy Sedaris visits funny lady Chelsea Handler's show. It gets a bit, un, clinical, though not in a raunchy way, and Chelsea seems a bit taken aback at first, but really, what would you expect from these two? (YouTube)

30 October 2009

Smoke Signals

Another day, another incident with an ignorant smoker. I had intended to write about something much lighter and fun today, and maybe I'll still do that later, but I'm still so angry about this I need to vent.

The bus stop near my house is generally smoke-free, but occasionally someone lights up while waiting. Generally they have the decency to stand where their smoke isn't going to bother anyone. But there's one woman who clearly doesn't care, and she arrived just after me this morning, and her noxious cloud arrived a couple of seconds later.

I stepped over to her and asked her if she would move to where the smoke would not waft toward the rest of us. She just stood there and acted like she hadn't heard me. Bad sign, right there. I raised my voice and said, "What are you going to do, just stand there and ignore me?" She retorted with, "This is a public sidewalk, right?" (That comment suggests to me that she's had this type of encounter before.) "I'm standing away from everyone else."

I tried again. "You're not standing far enough away, and the wind is carrying the smoke right past the rest of us. If you would just go and stand on the other side of the group..."

She turned to the others. There were maybe three or four other people, though none of the people who are usually waiting at the same time were there today. "Is this bothering any of you?" They all just stood there, and no one else said anything. She gave me a look that said fuck you, I win.

(By the way, big thanks to my fellow commuters there. Way to step up and do the right thing.)

Not seeing any other viable option, I moved back from the curb, and the bus arrived a minute or so later. But I'm absolutely livid about this woman's selfishness and disrespect for other people. In my experience, people who smoke are by nature somewhat less concerned with others, otherwise why would they inflict their exhaust on the rest of us? But this was jerkage on a higher level. This was willful disregard for my discomfort.

When I find myself in such situations, I always approach the person calmly, with initial respect, and try to make an appeal to their sense of common decency. If it's an open, outdoor area with no specific prohibition posted, I will only ask a person to move rather than put out the cigarette. But I think this is the first time I've encountered someone who obviously carries sociopathic tendencies and simply refuses to capitulate.

So I'm asking all of you, in complete seriousness, what would you do? Continuing to berate the woman wasn't going to do any good. I considered taking out my newspaper and using it as a fan to send the smoke back toward her, but at that point my behavior would have turned aggressive, making my behavior no better than hers, and might even run the risk of a harassment complaint. (If she won't move when asked to, who knows what she's capable of?)

If a nearby factory was disgorging polluted smoke into the air in my neighborhood, I'm sure people would not tolerate it. Inconsiderate smoking is still a public health issue, just on a smaller scale. If we just walk away and stand somewhere else, every selfish smoker wins, and this allows a minority (currently less than 20% of the US population, I believe) to inflict its toxins, which are known and proven to be harmful, on the majority. I can't just stand there and say nothing.

I'm not asking people to pick fights and put themselves in danger. I'm saying that we, as the majority of nonsmokers, need to stand up for ourselves and make it clear that smokers' behavior is offensive.

I know there are far more important issues we all need to deal with in our lives. I know some of you are going to think I'm just nuts. But I would like to know what you think about this.

29 October 2009

Watch Wednesday Thursday (10/29/09)

AAUGH! I forgot again... (Since it's Halloween week, the Charlie Brown exclamation seems appropriate.) Seriously, why doesn't anyone email me and say "Hey, why no watch post?" I guess you'd rather sit back and enjoy watching me screw up. All right, fine...

This time we're back to vintage, and while by no means have I exhausted all my Accutron-Bulova-Caravelle holdings, I thought it was time to venture elsewhere. This is a Zodiac Aerospace Jet from, I believe, the mid-1960s. They didn't date-code them the way Bulova did, but a couple of minutes of searching on the web seems to confirm my assumption.

You probably noticed that the watch has a 24-hour dial, because it has a 24-hour movement, meaning the hour hand goes around the dial only once per day. In the picture above, the watch is showing 8:10 PM. As you might imagine, telling time with this watch takes a little getting used to. I made a reference to this in the Accutron post last month, but other companies made such movements too. They were popular with pilots and military personnel. I tend to gravitate to watches that do things that have nothing to do with my boring life, but that's because those are the watches that tend to be the most interesting looking.

The watch doesn't do anything other than tell time--no date, no chronograph functions, no alarm. I guess Zodiac figured telling the time on it was tricky enough. As far as I can tell, it's completely original too: it has the correct case back with Zodiac markings, and the crown is marked with that little cross-in-circle symbol that's on the dial. I added the strap, my standard black leather with white stitching. This is one time when I'm not unhappy with the strap; in fact, I bought three of these from The Watch Prince.

Zodiac has always been a below-the-radar brand, and they still are. It's very European, and I don't even know who carries them--maybe Tourneau? Consequently a watch like this is not especially valuable compared to other Swiss brands, but it's rare and cool, and that makes it valuable to me.

28 October 2009

Tweed Encounter

This morning my bus came pretty late, and sometimes when that happens I'll switch to the Green Line at North Station. Even though I dislike riding it, sometimes it makes more sense to take it, because while there are numerous buses that run through Ruggles that can get me to work, they run less frequently after 9 AM. On Wednesdays we have our weekly breakfast at work, so I don't eat breakfast at home, and I didn't want to get stuck waiting for a bus and end up late and hungry.

So this morning I was on the Green Line, sitting in one of those perpendicular seats near the middle of the car, reading the paper and minding my own business. I noticed a really strong cigarette smoke odor, so I glanced around. There was a guy standing directly in front of me, and clearly he was the source of the smell. He took the opportunity of me looking up to get my attention and start talking to me.

"Is that cap a Donegal tweed?"

I was in fact wearing a Donegal tweed cap, so I knew he had to be talking to me. He told me he was from county Donegal in Ireland, and he certainly sounded the part. I hadn't completely disengaged my brain from the paper, I wasn't entirely awake yet, and I was still a little distracted by the smoke stench, so at first I wasn't sure how to respond and I managed only, "I haven't been there, I got it here."

We proceeded to have a conversation about the Irish imports shop in Cambridge where I'd gotten the hat some years ago (in fact, it was so long ago that the store was actually in Quincy Market at the time) and how to get there. Not knowing whether he was familiar with the area, I told him it was on Mass. Ave. between Harvard and Porter, on the northbound side of the street. He allowed that he would just go to Porter and ask someone there where to find it, which seemed fairly sensible to me.

I considered mentioning the Scottish import shop that's also in Porter Square, upstairs above the bagel place, but decided it was too early in the morning to provoke that sort of angst. By that point we were pulling into Park Street, and he abruptly left the train, without saying goodbye or thanks or anything. Maybe he was just a figment of my imagination. Wait, did I meet a nicotine-addicted leprechaun on the T?

27 October 2009


As you all know by now, I love clothes and shopping. I also love getting a good deal, because value is an important part of the shopping experience. Almost anything in a mainstream store will go on sale if you wait long enough, so long ago I learned to wait. There is some risk that if you wait too long, the size you want will be gone, but in this age of national chains and online stores that complement brick-and-mortar locations, it's fairly small.

But what happens when the item you want doesn't go on sale? What if it's not something available from a large retailer, but rather is an esoteric item, or one that was made in limited numbers? What happens if your size is indeed sold out? There is almost always an alternative, if you're willing to look hard enough, though sometimes the alternative finds you.

J. Crew started selling this shirt online back in the spring. I wanted one immediately, without ever having seen it in person at a store or even in a catalog photo. But $100 is a lot for a casual shirt, especially one that's a little too casual to wear to the office. (For that matter it's a lot to pay for a dress shirt, but if you need to wear dress shirts to work every day, I think that expense can be justified if you buy for quality and durability.)

So I waited. And waited, all spring and summer, but no markdown. J. Crew has gotten stingier with the markdowns over the past few years, mainly because it helps their bottom line. The stuff that ends up going on sale is usually not the stuff I want. There are exceptions, of course, like last year's flannel-lined khakis, but often I end up passing up things I want because I won't pay their asking price, and it looked like that was going to be the case with this shirt. (I've also noticed that some of the stores have cut back on their sale sections, but this seems to vary by location.)

About a month ago I went into a Gap to see what new fall things they were offering. I tend to do this about once a month just to keep up, and also to see what's been marked down. I came across a shirt I'd never seen that was pretty much an exact copy of the J. Crew shirt. (I can't link to it because it's not on the Gap site, but this shirt seems to be the same style only in a different color.) All the key details--the white contrast stitching, the two patch pockets with buttons (the left one really ought to have a pencil slot, huh?), even that little extended tab thing at the neck--were the same.

Stores' collections often mirror one another in a given season to an extent, but I don't think I've ever seen such a blatant copy of one store's item in another store while both stores were concurrently still selling the items. The best part was that the Gap shirt was only $45, and I had a $10 reward card (earned from purchases on a Banana Republic card that I mostly use at Gap and Old Navy these days) to spend.

When I bought the shirt, I happened to be in a shopping area that also had a J. Crew, so I wandered over to do a little comparison. The fabrics are about the same weight and the cut is about the same, but the Gap shirt was a slightly lighter shade of gray, which I found I liked better when I saw them side-by-side. The J. Crew shirt has one quirky detail that isn't apparent from the pictures on the web, nor is it mentioned in the description: hidden buttons under the collar, like some early-90's department-store shirt. It's an odd and incongruous detail that adds nothing to the shirt, and I'm glad Gap didn't copy it.

26 October 2009

The Gypsy and the Hobo

(Caution: Mad Men spoilers...)

Guess I was wrong: Don seemed completely unprepared when Betty confronted him about the contents of the box. Some people seem surprised that this took place so soon, but after Betty got into the desk in last week's episode, I could not see her biding her time sitting on those unanswered questions for long.

I think last night's scenes between Don and Betty regarding the contents of the box were the finest moments the series has given us yet. I'm always prepared for something to come along and cause me to change that opinion: after season 1 it was the Kodak presentation followed by Don's return to the empty house; during season 2 it was replaced by Don's visit to Peggy in the hospital, and later in the season that scene was replaced by the one where Peggy told Pete she'd had his baby. There's no question that Mad Men is one of the all-time masterworks of American television, and it's thrilling to be able to witness it on a weekly basis.

When she surprised Don at home, Betty was clearly ready to let her anger loose, but for once she was able to keep it in check and act like an adult. Don was the one who was childish at first (his wounded, plaintive "it's private!"), but he realized that in order to have any chance to set things right with Betty he had to give her the (almost) complete truth, which he did (except for the part about the dog tags). This is not the Don Draper we're used to; this was a Don we've never seen before, one that Betty had never seen either. Amazing acting by both January Jones and Jon Hamm in these scenes. Hopefully this will earn Jones her belated Emmy nomination, and will bring wins for both of them next year.

And of course, looming over the whole evening was Miss Farrell sitting outside in the car. I need to go back and watch the whole episode again, mostly because I was distracted by that little detail, and kept expecting her knock on the door, which pulled me away from the story. And would Don have been so distracted by the illicit getaway that he'd fail to notice Betty's car, indicating that she had returned unexpectedly? I tripped over that too.

24 October 2009

This Week in Awesome (10/24/09)

This week, some sites that can help make your life a little easier, and some other stuff...

Is your office the kind of place where everyone can see what everyone else is doing? If so, this site offers ways you can look busy while not actually doing any real work. (UrbanDaddy)

In a similar vein, the site ThinkGeek offers accessories that can be of assistance, like this convex mirror so you can see bosses and coworkers approaching behind you, and this USB foot switch can make switching between not-work and work super-easy.

There are a number of web sites that do one thing but do it well, such as tell you what color the lights on the Empire State Building are going to be on a given day and why, or whether or not Abe Vigoda is alive. The New York Times City Room blog was kind enough to provide a link to a list of some of them.

Have you ever wanted to have an action figure made in the likeness of yourself, or someone you love? Now you can. There's also a site out there that will make you into a bobblehead, but I couldn't find it again... (Thrillist via Racked)

And finally, another reminder that foreign countries produce much better commercials than we do. This one's a bit NSFW, so put those headphones on... (YouTube via Jalopnik)

23 October 2009

Youth of Today

I just got back from doing an errand. It's about 45 degrees out today, somewhat cooler than was forecast, and I was barely warm enough in my coat and cap. On the T there was a young woman, probably a Northeastern student (it's where she got off the train) wearing a snorkel parka and flip-flops. I can only imagine how uncomfortable she must be when walking outside.

I also happened to overhear another student talking to one of his friends (the train was fairly crowded, and like me, they were standing): "Dude, I would love to be in a wheelchair. Getting to sit down all the time would be awesome."

22 October 2009

In the Air

The Mrs. has been suffering with a cold this week, and I think I may finally be getting it. Every day I go to work on subway trains with, typically, dozens of coughing and sneezing commuters, and I don't catch anything, but my immune system can't fend off her feeble germs?

The wise and thrifty Giuseppe over at An Affordable Wardrobe, a bit under the weather himself, posted a hot toddy recipe yesterday. If things get worse I'm going to sample it. In the interim, it's time for bed.

20 October 2009

Homophonally Yours

Dear Gap,

As someone who works with words for a living and who expends a fair amount of effort in achieving correctness in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, I feel compelled to bring this error to your attention.

This item on your web site is described as a "buffalo yolk puffer jacket." By "buffalo" I assume you are referring to the buffalo plaid that's crawled back from the dead along with all the other 80's fashion cues and is everywhere this season. I can also handle "puffer," although I think it's a stupid term to describe a jacket.

It's "yolk" that has me confused. Even if buffalo could lay eggs, I don't see how they could have anything to do with this piece of outerwear. I mean, they'd spoil, right? Perhaps you meant "yoke," referring to that area across the shoulders where the buffalo plaid has been placed? Oops, how embarrassing.

Or maybe not: if this sort of mistake made it past your production staff and onto your web site, then maybe the majority of your customers are just as poorly educated and won't ever notice. Kids these days just don't know how to spell anymore, but who cares? They can still aspire to get jobs writing product copy or doing web production for the Gap.

Your intrepid blogger,
Some Assembly Required

P.S. If you decide you want to hire someone who can do this sort of thing correctly, get in touch. But I don't work cheap.

The Color Blue

(Caution: Mad Men spoilers...)

So, Betty finally got into the desk drawer. I think we all expected her to eventually; it was just a question of when. Obviously she's upset, and being such an emotional child, she's going to stay that way.

As usual, more questions than answers. For me, Betty's discovery raised more questions about Don than about her: why would Don keep all that sensitive, potentially incriminating stuff in the drawer to begin with, and then leave the keys in his robe pocket? It would be easy, and make much more sense, for him to get a safe deposit box near the office. And he's much too careful about everything.

I can understand him wanting to keep his family photos nearby, but in that case he should have had copies made so there would be no revelatory writing on the back. But the deed, and the divorce papers? (By the way, shouldn't Anna have that deed?) The more I think about it, the more I think Don wanted Betty to find these things. I think part of him enjoys putting her through the mind games. But I could be totally wrong. This show usually doesn't end up going where you think it will, which is one of the reasons I love it so much.

I am going to make one prediction, though: Miss Farrell was in fact the one who called the Drapers' house, even though she denied it, and she is going to wig the fuck out at some point before the season ends. I mean, showing up on Don's commuter train? That's getting dangerously close to Fatal Attraction territory.

19 October 2009

Lazy Sunday

Yesterday I woke up (at 9:30) to find it raining hard. I knew we didn't need to go anywhere, so I decided it was going to be one of those days where I just threw on some old comfy clothes and didn't leave the house. I spent the remainder of the morning enjoying organic Mexican coffee and "two-bite cinnamon rolls" from Whole Foods.

The Mrs. had put on the TV (not something I would typically do on a Sunday morning, but she is who she is) and The Remains of the Day happened to be starting. She had never seen it, and I hadn't seen it since it first came out; its sadness was quite appropriate to the gloom of the day. After that we watched a documentary about the heavy metal band Anvil that I'd recorded from VH1 a couple of weeks ago. Slightly opposite, yes.

I took the dog out later in the afternoon, and by then it was raining harder, so she didn't even want to be outside for more than a couple of minutes. I came back inside, assembled a little tray of cheese and crackers, and tuned the TV to the Patriots game, to find it was SNOWING 30 miles away in Foxboro. What month is this? (For some reason I'd thought yesterday's game was being played in Tennessee; guess I'd read the schedule wrong.) That was one of those strange games that happens every once in a while, and even though I did feel a little bad for the Titans, it is kind of fun to watch a blowout, as long as you're on the winning side.

I didn't do anything more productive than a load of laundry, though I did have to trudge back outside around 8 PM to put out the trash. It was still raining hard, so apparently it wasn't cold enough where we are to become snow, which is really just as well. This week we're supposed to have a few days of temperatures around 60, which is what it's supposed to be for this time of year.

17 October 2009

This Week in Awesome (10/17/09)

This was deadline week at work, so I wasn't able to goof off online quite as much as usual, but I have a few items. In order, from coolest to strangest...

England is releasing some sweet postage stamps of classic album covers. Why can't we get something like this in the USA? (The Awl)

Now something can come between you and your Calvins, but only if you're the sort of guy who feels like you need some enhancement downstairs. Ick. (NY Observer via Racked)

And finally, a cute little animated video illustrating the challenges faced by the people who do all that driving for Google Street View. (Funny or Die)

15 October 2009

Watch Wednesday Thursday (10/15/09)

Hmm, what did I forget to do? Again? I may have to start marking up a calendar or something...

Anyway, it's time for another contemporary watch. This is another Casio analog watch. This one is a large and rugged diving model that I got on eBay (of course) back in the spring, for less than $50. The second button above the main crown is for a light. There are actually two LEDs set into the rim that runs around the outer edge of the dial, one at the 12 position and the other at the 6. It's got to be the brightest illumination I've ever seen on a watch, and makes Timex's Indiglo light look sad and weak. Seriously, I think you could use this watch as a flashlight in an emergency. Unfortunately, it doesn't stay on long enough to get a decent picture, so you'll have to take my word for it.

The strap that looks like a tire did not come on the watch; as usual, I had to change the standard diver's strap because it was ugly, uncomfortable, and made of a cheap resin that I figured would crack and break after just a short amount of wear. These tire-tread straps are made of rubber, which is more comfortable on the wrist, more flexible, and last much longer. I got quite a bit of wear out of this watch over the summer, because rubber straps tend to be easier for me to wear in warm, humid weather.

Thursday Afternoon Distraction

Kinda busy this week, so I thought I'd find something tasty for you to read until I can resurface...

I have not attempted to make (or wear) any sort of Halloween costume since, oh, probably around 1993. You may be one of those people who enjoys doing so, but you don't have to be to enjoy this piece over at The Awl.

And I'm not sure if I've said this before in this space, but just about everything at The Awl is pretty frickin' awesome, so you may want to browse around for a while. I mean, how can you not like a site whose tag line is "be less stupid"?

14 October 2009

A Chill in the Air

The cold sneaked up on us kind of quick, huh? It's been about ten degrees below normal during the day, and this morning it was 39 degrees. Whoa. The dog was whining at 5 AM because she had thrashed around and knocked off her blanket, and was cold.

We're in the somewhat awkward position of still having the air conditioners in the windows. Okay, maybe not "awkward" per se, maybe it's more like "lazy." I completely forgot about it over the long weekend until Monday, when the Mrs. was working and I couldn't deal with them by myself.

And as much as I don't want to be turning on the heat this early, I would be inclined to, but there's no point in doing that, yet. See, I'm the sort of person who is compulsive enough to have cut blocks of foam to fit around each of the AC units to create a tight seal. That works great when we want to keep the cold in and the heat out, but not so great when it's the other way around. I'm not going to turn on the heat before October 15th just to have it wasted with cold seeping in around the AC units.

No, we just have to deal with them, so we'll remove and store the units tonight. Regardless of whether or not we turn on the heat, it's too cold to wait until the weekend.

12 October 2009

Condiment Deficiency

We took a little day trip up to Portland yesterday. Nice day, cute shops, lots of pretty foliage on the drive up, etc.

At a brewpub where we went for lunch, the menu had a pastrami sandwich that was described as being served with dijon mustard. I asked the waitress if it was possible to get the sandwich with Gulden's mustard instead. She replied, "I don't know what that is, so the answer's probably no." She also volunteered that they had yellow mustard and honey mustard.

Needless to say, I ordered something else. I was willing to overlook the fact that the sandwich had provolone instead of swiss, but the mustard is non-negotiable. Those poor Portlanders have it tough.

10 October 2009

This Week in Awesome (10/10/09)

Lots o' good stuff this week:

First, a callback of sorts: if you remember the Traffic Barrel Monster I mentioned a few months back, you may be pleased to know that he has found himself a friend. (WRAL-TV via Jalopnik)

Halloween is just around the corner, and these treats seem especially appropriate. (AdFreak via Kempt)

Here's a quick little video clip for anyone who was a fan of the cheesfest that was Baywatch  I don't count myself in that group, because a person has to have some standards. (Funny or Die via TV Squad)

Here's a site that spotlights the darker side of making and selling your own craft items. I'm honestly not sure if this is a spoof or real, but that's part of its appeal. (Gizmodo via Racked)

And finally, those of you with small children may want to think twice before giving them one of these cookie cutters to use with the clay. (Consumerist)

Happy long weekend to those of you who don't have to work Monday...

08 October 2009

Bad Clothes Day

Last week I thought it was fall for sure--I needed a jacket in the mornings, it was cold enough at night to need an extra blanket--but the weather can't make up its mind. Yesterday it was raining but also kind of warm (definitely much too warm for my Barbour coat), and I decided I didn't feel like wearing my blue L.L. Bean rain jacket because I tend to get overheated in it (Gore-Tex can claim whatever it wants, but I've yet to find a waterproof rain garment that does not cause this feeling).

A while back I'd picked up one of these on eBay, and it seemed like the right sort of day to wear it. As it turned out, I got just as overheated wearing it, even though it's very light. The other thing about that, though, is that because it's so light and is only lined down to about the mid-chest, it doesn't really have any body or drape. It's kind of floppy, and yesterday was very windy. I didn't get especially wet, but if you'd seen me walking around the Longwood area you might have thought I was trying to swat away an errant bee or something. I'm contemplating whether it's worth keeping, and wondering if I can convince the Mrs. to sew some fishing weights into the botton hem.

I think this is the sort of problem that women experience with their clothing more often than men. I hate wearing clothing that I have to keep fussing with once I've put it on. To compound the situation, I'd chosen to wear a pair of corduroy jeans (yeah, the ones I bought at Gap last weekend). Those fit fine, but the color, which indoors looks like brown, gray, and olive all at once (Gap calls it "gray pearl") looked green outside in natural light. Like, Mr. Green Jeans green. I wasn't too pleased. It was the sartorial equivalent of a bad hair day.

Oh, and the forecast says it's going to rain again tomorrow. Swell.

07 October 2009

Promotional Consideration

A while back I wrote about some mints I like. After that post I got a nice email from a person who does PR for the company. She had found me through a Google alert for "Newman's Own Organics" and wanted to thank me for writing about the company and the product. She offered to send me a sampling of some of the company's other products, which I gratefully accepted.

Since then we've been enjoying items like cookies, chocolate bars, pretzels, dried fruit, and more mints. (There were also some soy crisps, but those are not our thing at all, so I brought them to work and put them in the kitchen.) She even included some dog food (which I had requested for our spoiled girl). I thought it would be a small sample of dry kibble, but it was several full-size cans of "wet" food. Our dog was beside herself with food joy, but we only gave her a small quantity of it on a few random occasions, and mixed it in with her regular dry food, because we didn't want her to get too used to this luxurious delicacy (and thus expect it every day).

I liked everything and would recommend it, though I think the pretzels and the chocolate are particularly good. The chocolate bars come in six flavors: milk, mocha milk, dark, orange dark, espresso dark, and super dark. I didn't find the super dark as exciting as I thought it would be, but it may just be my palate and personal preferences. I liked the plain dark the best; I thought it had an excellent balance between bitterness and sweetness. And if you are the sort who prefers milk chocolate, this one is better than most.

[I had been planning to write about these treats at some point, but in light of the recent news that the government may require bloggers to disclose items they may receive (for review or as gifts, if I understand correctly) I thought I might as well go ahead and do it now. Thank you, Newman's Own Organics, for the extremely generous box o' goodies you sent me.]

06 October 2009

Hard to Forget

About a month ago in one of my TWiA posts, I alluded to a story involving my father-in-law Bill and Al Gore. Today seems as good a time as any to spin out the tale...

For a number of years my father-in-law worked as a journalist. He was old school before it was even called old school, and was thoroughly versed in churning out concise, accurate copy on deadline, which also meant using proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation at all times. (And believe me when I tell you that even if he wasn't writing for a living, he was the sort of person who would have followed those rules anyway.)

He spent about eight years at the Nashville Tennessean as a science and environment reporter. During that time he mentored some of the younger reporters, including Al Gore, who worked there for about a year around 1970. He felt it was his responsibility to emphatically impress his beliefs regarding the fundamentals of good writing upon all the young reporters, including Gore.

Many years later Bill ended up working as a consultant to local political candidates in the southern California town where he lived, so he was acquainted with many members of the city government. At some point after Clinton and Gore left office, Gore was scheduled to give a speech in one of the nearby towns, so Bill went with one of the city council members.

Outside the venue, they stood behind a barricade along the path Gore would take to enter the facility. He arrived and climbed out of his limo along with his Secret Service detail. Gore made his way down the walkway, waving at various people. He spotted Bill, shouted out Bill's name, and veered off his path toward him, confusing the Secret Service agents.

He shook Bill's hand and Bill said, "I wasn't sure you would remember me." Gore replied, "Remember you? I used to have nightmares about you."

04 October 2009

Jean Therapy Revisited

About a month or so ago, the Gap brought out its new line of jeans for men and women. I had read about them several months before they reached stores, and I was somewhat curious, as I have been having a minor moment of enlightenment about my jeans. I finally realized that I've been buying jeans that are cut much too full for me and don't look good. While I avoid slim-fit pants, there is certainly a lot of space (no pun intended) between these two extremes.

So Friday night we needed to go to the mall to take care of a couple of errands, and I decided it was time to check out the Gap jeans. For me "check out" means "try on." I generally hate trying on clothes in a store, and tend to buy things and bring them home to try on, which means I sometimes have to go back to the store to exchange or return items. I guess I just don't like fitting rooms, but in this case I figured it was easier to do the trying on at the store.

There are seven fits for men, ranging from skinny to loose. To me this seems like too many, but I understand that Gap is trying to appeal to the broadest possible range of customers. I was able to eliminate anything that was too slim, low-waisted, or boot-cut. Knowing that I was also trying to avoid anything too loose meant being able to eliminate styles from the other end of the range as well. Eventually I was able to settle on the appropriately named Standard, which is in the comfortable middle of the range. Not tight, but not a lot of excess fabric either.

I was very impressed with the fit and construction of the jeans. The fabric is nicely soft and broken in, unlike a lot of other jeans. They sit nicely just below the waist. The leg openings are neither too wide nor too narrow. I was ready to buy a pair, but then I ran into the fail: every single style of Standard jeans has some kind of wash or treatment or finish that is distressed, discolored, or whiskered. This is absolutely a deal-breaker for me. If I'm going to spend $55 on a pair of jeans (not an unreasonable amount of money, but not throwaway either), I expect to be able to wear them to work, which means the color needs to be consistent. They aren't of much use to me if I can only wear them on weekends.

I did find corduroy jeans in a slightly different fit that were not faded or distressed in any way, so I bought a pair of those. (J. Crew has taken to sanding the thighs of theirs so they appear worn, and theirs cost $20 more than Gap's.) Cord jeans have been a staple of my wardrobe since I was in high school; I went to a parochial school with a dress code, and denim jeans were not permitted, but cords were, so I had them in many different colors. Now I stick to tan, brown, gray, and olive-ish green, but they still are just as comfortable and versatile.

I'm hoping Gap gets a clue and brings out additional denim styles that are not distressed. In the meantime, I'm going to have to look elsewhere.

03 October 2009

This Week in Awesome (10/3/09)

For this week we have a small but tasty selection...

You knew this one was coming: Sesame Street spoofs Mad Men. (YouTube via Basket of Kisses)

Just discovered this site yesterday, courtesy of Consumerist: Your Logo Makes Me Barf.

This site is one I have been visiting regularly for a while, and I thought it was time to share with the group. I guess you'd call it an image blog, but it really ends up being much more than that. The name alone makes it worth checking out. (Note: there are a few images that may be a little NSFW.)

01 October 2009

The Peggy Olson Freakout

(We've been catching up on some of the TV we missed while away, hence the delayed sentiment of this...)

Oh, Peggy. Peggy, Peggy, Peggy. What were you thinking? I mean, how could you? Ewwwww. Just. Eww.