31 May 2011

A Suggestion for the MBTA

The "train is approaching/arriving" messages we hear on the PA system in the stations are genuinely helpful. However, they are preceded by a tone meant, presumably, to get your attention: "Hey, commuters! Here comes an announcement you're going to want to listen to."

The only problem is that the T uses the same tone before its public-service announcements, thereby getting all of us psyched that the train's arrival is imminent, only to be disappointed by the 3,000th airing of the "see something, say something" advisory.

My idea is for a different sort of tone, perhaps something like a two-note doorbell sound, so we commuters know that the forthcoming announcement does not involve train-arrival information. Just a thought..

30 May 2011

Oversize Load

Our long weekend has been split between having fun and getting things done around the house. In the fun department, we saw Bridesmaids last night, and I recommend it highly. Not only is it really funny, but it's also a very honest and realistic story. On Saturday we went to see England's Propeller Theatre Company performance of Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors at the Huntington (thanks again, Lisa!), which was all-around excellent.

In the housekeeping department, I'm almost caught up on my laundry, plus I've finished rotating my seasonal clothing into and out of storage. But in the process I did something stupid, and learned a lesson. I have a rolling garment rack in the basement that I use for storing items of clothing that I don't use often. I throw a sheet over it, so it's almost like a pop-up closet. Actually, I already have two of those in the basement; originally I bought this rack to hang drying things, but it morphed into additional storage.

Last year I hung some flannel shirts on the rack, then took them back upstairs when it got cold. Yesterday I took the flannel shirts downstairs and put them on the rack again, and it broke and everything fell onto the concrete basement floor. The rack has a height adjustment at either end, and I suspect it had gotten loose, and then the shirts were too much weight for it. (In between last year and this year I'd added a couple of fairly heavy coats to the rack.)

Amazingly, I was able to balance the cross rod on the remaining portions of the upright poles; the plastic broke in such a way that the pieces left behind are concave, and so they hold the rod in place. This will have to do temporarily until I can replace the rack, but at least the shirts and coats aren't on the dirty floor.

I knew there was a weight limit for this rack, but I never bothered to learn what it was. I'm going to invest in a larger, heavier-duty, all-metal rack with a higher weight limit, so I don't have to worry about this sort of thing again.

29 May 2011

This Week in Awesome (5/28/11)

I hope you're enjoying the weekend. The air conditioners went in on Friday, which we think is the earliest we've ever had to install them. Since (hopefully) most of you have an extra day off, this week there's an extra-large batch:

Justin Timberlake hosted the season finale of Saturday Night Live, and in the tradition of "Dick in a Box" and "Motherlover," the Digital Short, featuring the show's musical guest Lady Gaga, was "3-Way (The Golden Rule)."

boston.com has featured their "best doughnut shops in greater Boston" list several times over the past couple of months (including this morning). It's either a ploy to get every local blogger to link to it, or part of a secret plot to fatten all of us up for the impending alien invasion.

Related, sort of: a tumblr collection of out-of-shape celebs. (Thrillist)

What does $1 million in cash look like? (Cockeyed via Consumerist)

Many, many people were hoping this vintage ad was real, but it seems it's a rather elaborate fake. (BoingBoing via Put This On)

And finally this week, Amy Poehler gave a great speech at Harvard's pre-commencement Class Day ceremonies, reminding us again why she is the essence of awesome. (Harvard magazine via Jezebel)

27 May 2011

Welcome Back, Stan

Six or seven years ago, I was something of a sneaker fanatic. My overall style was somewhat different back then, and I was always on the lookout for retro styles in special colorways. These ended up being mostly adidas, and I bought most of them on eBay, with a few from other online stores like Classic Sport Shoes.

After a while my sneakerism waned, and I sold several pairs, but I held onto a few. One shoe I've liked and worn for a long time is the adidas Stan Smith. Named after a tennis player, it's one of the most popular and longest-running athletic shoe styles. It's about as plain and simple as a sneaker can get, which is a big reason it appeals to me.

The last time I had a pair of Stans was about three years ago, when I bought a limited-edition version that was made to look just like the shoe when it first went on sale over 40 years ago. I liked that the heel tab was suede instead of leather, and that there was nothing on it—no logo, no branding of any kind. I wore them to work during the summer, but unfortunately the leather had a sort of semi-gloss finish, and the tongues slid off to the sides when I wore them. I ended up selling them on eBay a year or so later.

The original version of the shoe was white with a bright green ("fairway") heel tab, and the Stan is always available in this color, as is one with a navy blue heel tab. If you really want to fly below the radar, logo-wise, you can usually find all-black without looking too hard, and there's an all-white version too. I always thought the shoes would look great with red heel tabs, but I could never recall adidas making one. Then it appeared last fall, along with royal blue (another very logical trim color).

I didn't buy them right away. I'm not sure why. I think I was trying to convince myself that I didn't need them, but I knew that I would get them eventually so it seems silly now. A couple of months ago I noticed that the red variant was 20% off at Zappos, so I put them into my cart and saved them for later. But when I went back for them recently, they were gone—all sizes of that color had sold out.

Of course, these days it's almost always possible to find something you want, so it didn't take long before I found a few sizes of the red-trim Stans left at shoes.com. They sometimes have odd pricing on shoes—you'll see something marked at 5% off its original price like it's a big deal. But then they have sales with another 25% off "all sale shoes," which was the case with these, so they worked out to around 30% off the original price.
These will be going into the summer rotation with my boat shoes, with some leather Pumas I've had for a few years, and with a couple of pairs of canvas sneakers. One odd thing: there are no lace stays on the tongues, something that older versions definitely had. I hope these don't give me problems like the others, or I may end up DIYing it and cutting slits in the tongues.

26 May 2011

Shop (Sorta) Locally

The style/responsible consumerism site Well Spent has an interesting interview with the proprietor of WHARF Clothing & Wares, a Rhode Island store (with online shopping) that's about to move to a new location in "downcity" Providence. Good luck to him, and I look forward to visiting the store soon. I really want to check out the house-brand shirts, which are made right down in Fall River.

25 May 2011

Watch Wednesday (5/25/11)

It's been three months since I bought a watch, which I consider reasonably restrained behavior. If this one looks familiar to you, it's because I mentioned it about six months ago as something I was hoping to find for less than its full retail price.

The timing of finding this watch was good, since my 20-year-old, beat-up, $20 Carriage (Timex) military-style J. Crew lookalike stopped working recently. Well, it's still ticking, but the hands only move once in a while, so it's no longer usable. I'm not willing to pay $150 for a Timex just because J. Crew sells it, and they are on the small side for my wrist anyway. I'd seen this watch in Nordstrom last year and and could tell it was bigger, but I also felt $100 was a bit high for it.

Timex offers this Originals watch with either a green canvas strap or a Speidel-style metal expansion band. I didn't love either one, but I could live with the canvas one. When I was searching for the watch on eBay, I was only looking for the strap version. I'd forgotten that the two different strap styles meant two different model numbers, but somehow I got reminded of that a couple of weeks ago, and sure enough, there was one for sale with the expansion bracelet, new with the original box, for a starting bid of $50, which turned out to be the (my) winning bid.

At 38 mm the size on this is just right, and it's just a nice, simple, really good-looking piece. I prefer the look of this watch to the J. Crew version: while the lugs are similarly shaped, this one's dial is less crowded-looking (because it's bigger), it has a date window, and the red blocks at the hour positions go nicely with the red second hand and add a little extra punch to the dial. One odd thing: even though the dial has Indiglo lighting, the numerals still glow, which is fine, except there's no luminous on the hands, so you kind of need the light anyway.

The tan leather strap was on the other Timex, but until this watch arrived I didn't know if the strap would fit. The color is just right, I think. I also have one of the one-piece straps that J. Crew sells for its watches, olive with a red stripe down the middle, and I suspect that will find its way onto this watch for the warmer months.

AC on the Bus...

(to the tune of The Replacements' "Kiss Me on the Bus")

Summer's here, I guess.

24 May 2011

Fall TV 2011: Make Me Watch

It's been a week or so since the networks started their annual spring ritual of introducing the new shows that they hope people will be watching and talking about come fall. I've had time to watch clips from all some of them, so I can now offer you my admittedly biased, but still fairly TV-knowledgeable, thoughts.

I'm no longer surprised by cancellations; most shows fail, it's just the nature of the business. But I was disappointed that Fox decided not to renew The Chicago Code, because I felt it had finally found its footing and was poised to stretch out and fulfill the expectations that surrounded its arrival. (Update: Show creator Shawn Ryan is talking to other networks and cable channels, so there's an ultra-slim chance the show might find a second life elsewhere.)

Most of last season's freshman class didn't survive, and nothing that did could be considered a breakout hit, so the networks have gone back and reloaded with a new, if not exactly fresh, batch that they really, really hope will catch on.

One thing is clear: the singing, dancing, and weight-losing isn't going anywhere, at least for the foreseeable. The positive side of this is that if, like me, you have no interest in any of it, then that's eight or nine hours of network programming each week that you don't have to be concerned with.

Similarly, there are several new shows that involve or invoke fairy tales, fantasy stuff, or supernatural elements, also highly skippable. One huge gamble appears to be Fox's Terra Nova, about a group of people who manage to travel back in time to a prehistoric era. It's going to be loaded with special effects like computer-generated dinosaurs, and therefore is going to be a very complicated, very expensive show to produce. Fox has a lot riding on this, but my gut is telling me it's going to be a huge flop. We'll see.

Lots of new comedies: eleven are starting in the fall, and several more are planned for next winter and spring. NBC has a solid lineup on Thursdays (even if it doesn't draw the kind of ratings numbers NBC used to), and ABC has established a similarly successful block on Wednesdays, so now both of those networks are looking, logically, to expand their comedy footprints to other weeknights, with two from ABC on Tuesdays and two from NBC on Wednesdays. Some of these look okay, given that any new sitcom is rehashing one of a few by-now familiar scenarios; typically a sitcom will succeed or fail based on the quality of the writing and the appeal of the cast.

In network nods to Mad Men, both NBC and ABC are serving up 1960s-set shows, but that's about as far as the similarities go. NBC's entry is set in the Chicago Playboy Club and has organized-crime elements, while ABC is going with Pan Am stewardesses and pilots, which looks to be the soapier of the two. If you enjoy watching shows like this mainly for the sets and costumes, you'll probably be satisfied, but if you're looking for drama with the weight of Mad Men, I suspect you'll be disappointed.

There are a couple of dramas that have my interest. NBC has finally realized that people miss having a serious show to tune into on Thursdays after the comedy block (see also: two decades plus of success with Hill Street Blues, LA Law, ER), and they are attempting to resolve the situation with an American take on Prime Suspect. It seems like a foolish, even terrible idea, but the production team includes the guy behind Friday Night Lights, as well as one of the writer/producers of the original British series, and they've cast Maria Bello in the lead role, who seems spot-on as the right choice.

For something in the vein of a crime procedural but a bit less traditional, CBS has yet another offering with J.J. Abrams's involvement (he's also producing a show on Fox that will be arriving at some point midseason) called Person of Interest. It's about a billionaire (played by Lost's Michael Emerson) who has (presumably illegal) access to information about people who are about to commit crimes, and he employs a former Special Forces operative (Jim Caviezel) to stop them. A bit over the top, perhaps, but also sort of a nostalgic nod to The Equalizer. On board as a producer is Jonathan Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplays for The Prestige and The Dark Knight.

The CW? Still nothing to see here, at least for grown-ups. I did watch the first few episodes of Nikita last fall, and while I think it's an entertaining "popcorn" show, the story demanded regular weekly viewing, and I just felt like I was already involved in too many other shows, but I'm glad it got renewed. Likewise, it's nice to see Sarah Michelle Gellar coming back to TV, but the plot of her new series Ringer seems too contrived and convoluted to draw me in as a regular viewer.

23 May 2011

Overheard: Misplaced Priorities Edition

Saturday afternoon around 4 pm, "Filene's Basement" on Boylston Street, fiftyish couple apparently heading to that night's Red Sox game:

Wife: "Did you bring the iPad?"
Husband: "Why would I bring that to a baseball game?"
Wife: "I have stuff to do."

21 May 2011

This Week in Awesome (5/21/11)

Less than an hour left before midnight, but I suppose it's still possible the world could end, which is why I had to make sure I got these posted...

A couple of these are even style-related: first, a guide to tying necktie knots. There are a lot more of them than I realized. (The GQ Eye)

Next, take a trip back through the pages of a (pre-Gap) Banana Republic catalog, when the safari aesthetic was still dominant. (Maximinimus via Put This On)

The Office season finale largely didn't work for me, but this cast photo in the likeness of a famous painting is pretty cool. (NBC via OfficeTally)

If you send this company a favorite photo (and give them some money) they will send it back to you in the form of an enlarged, paint-by-number project. Might make a nice gift for the right person. (New York Times)

And finally this week, the always-reliable Everything Is Terrible entertains us with some classic(ally bad) commercials: part 1; part 2.

20 May 2011

Weekend Reading Assignment: About TV

New York Magazine does its annual television issue to coincide with the annual network dog-and-pony show known as upfront week. I'll have more to say about the networks' upcoming contenders in a bit (due to time constraints, I can't do it right this minute), but in the meantime if you are a fan of 30 Rock, Community, Breaking Bad, Grey's Anatomy, Parks and Recreation, The Good Wife, How I Met Your Mother, Justified, Cougar Town, or Sons of Anarchy, I recommend you have a look at these unabridged conversations with the shows' respective showrunners. A peek behind the scenes is always enlightening, and these conversations are far more in-depth than just a peek.

Also, the article about how AMC, the channel that gave us Mad Men and Breaking Bad, is handling its success, is really interesting.

19 May 2011

Top Shelf III

I'd be remiss if I didn't remind you about the third semi-annual Top Shelf Flea Market happening this Sunday, May 22. Usual place, usual time, usual coordination and planning by the charming and personable Giuseppe of An Affordable Wardrobe.

And it's not just guy stuff; hit that link for info on all the vendors scheduled to be there, plus the address and other relevant into. And if you aren't from the area, or you are otherwise unable to attend, Giuseppe started up a web store a while back, which he stocks with fresh vintage merchandise pretty much weekly.

18 May 2011

Data Blocker

So, yeah, deadline week again, but this time with a twist: first, when I got to work this morning, I got a pop-up reminder for an all-staff meeting that I'd completely forgotten about. We only have these a couple of times a year, so it's not like I can avoid going. It ate up over an hour of time I should have been spending on other stuff, but I managed to recover.

Then at 5:15, after spending the balance of the day in overdrive, I went to the browser interface we use for our database to start uploading newsletter articles. I'd used it for something else about half an hour previously, so the tab was still open. I clicked the "add new content" link and got "Service temporarily unavailable" in my browser window. I hadn't seen that before, ever.

I considered the situation: the databases talk to each other overnight, so the articles had to be in place by the end of today in order for them to be available on our web site tomorrow. The coworker who deals with issues like this, on the rare occasions when they arise, left on vacation yesterday. The support people for that particular piece of kit are in Malaysia, and I might have had their email address, from being CC'd on something two years ago, buried in my filed messages somewhere.

I decided to go home. I knew I could access the database from home, and fortunately whatever was going on had resolved itself by the time I looked at it. I'd copied my files onto a USB drive so I could just upload them from here. So everything's fine now. Let's hope it's still fine when I get to work tomorrow.

17 May 2011

My New Favorite Shoes

Since winter loosened its grip and I was able to stop wearing boots every day, I've spent the past couple of months wearing and reevaluating many of my shoes. I have some that I kind of like, or that are at least useful when dressing a certain way, but they aren't very comfortable. I have shoes that are pretty comfortable that I don't otherwise like all that much. Many of these will be culled and either sold or donated.

In the meantime I've been trying to restock the shoe larder, so to speak, with shoes that are practical, good-looking, comfortable, and well-made. This is not easy, particularly with my problematic feet. But I did get a new pair of shoes a couple of weeks ago that are filling all these criteria.

One style of shoe I've been looking for is a tan lace-up that I could wear in warmer weather with light-colored pants. I considered light tan suede bucks, but I already have a pair of bucks in a darker khaki and I decided that I wanted something in leather, not suede. I didn't set out specifically to buy another pair of shoes that's made in the USA, but it's pretty much always in my mind at this point.

I ran across a shoe I liked from a company I'd never heard of, Neil M. In fact, it was a couple of months ago, when I bought those Chelsea boots from Brooks Brothers that I ended up returning, that I first became aware of the company. I was briefly considering getting another pair of similarly styled boots from a different maker, saw the Neil M version of a Chelsea boot while browsing Endless, and noticed that it was made in USA.

Besides Alden and Allen Edmonds, who else is still making shoes in the USA? You have the heritage boot brands: Red Wing, Wolverine, Chippewa, and let's toss Frye in with that group (as I suggested recently). Dexter's still around (along with other brands like Walk-Over that belong to the same parent company), and New Balance is still making some sneakers up in Maine (you can get one style from J. Crew, or custom-order some direct from NB in your preferred color combination and receive them in just a week or two). There are companies like Bates that make uniform shoes. Not much else, though.

Neil M is based in Arkansas and seems to have a connection to the women's brand Munro. Not all of their shoes are made in the USA, and not all their styles are ones I'd consider attractive. but that could be said of almost any shoe brand. I went back to Endless one day to look at some of their other styles, and found the "Wynne" lace-up that's available in four colors: black, oxblood, cognac, and "honey." The honey was just what I'd been looking for. I put them into my "save for later" basket, thinking I'd wait for a discount offer from Endless.

Then, just a day or so later, I happened to be browsing the "Tent Sale" section on the Orvis site. I saw a shoe that looked exactly like the Wynne, in the honey color. Tent Sale stuff gets marked down more every few days, and if you're lucky, when an item hits its deepest discount they'll still have your size. The day the shoes got their final discount, the size 11 had already sold out, but they still had 10.5, so I decided to order them. I was also concerned about width, but this style is pretty roomy, plus the toe box is fairly high, which goes a long way toward making shoes more hospitable for my feet. I ended up with a pair of $200 American-made shoes for $102 including shipping.

Neil M uses bison leather for this style, which I've heard is less costly than calfskin. It has a somewhat more pronounced grain than cow leather, but it's also very soft and supple. The shoes come with removable insoles that have leather top surfaces, and they have full welt construction so they can be resoled if necessary. They also came with cloth storage bags.

I've worn these shoes to work twice since I got them, plus on Mother's Day. I've done an average day's standing and walking, maybe a bit more than average one of those days, and I can honestly say these are probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. I'm seriously considering getting them in another color. And even if I'd paid $200 for them, I'd be satisfied.

14 May 2011

This Week in Awesome (5/14/11)

First order of business: the CD release show for our friends The Rationales is TONIGHT at the Lizard Lounge! Tix still available at the door (sez Dave Rationale), and here's a nice review of their album from the Boston Globe.

Here are the nominees for the best airborne police chase videos of last year. Who knew? And who does the nominating? A manufacturer of surveillance cameras, duh. (Jalopnik)

A DIY yard fountain made from kiddie pools. We like. (EPICponyz via The Hairpin)

Did you hear that In & Out Burger opened its first Texas location this week? The line for the drive-through stretched for half a mile at times. If you've had it yourself, you probably understand. (Consumerist) By the way, I happen to know a reader of this blog who lives only a few miles from this I&O, so I'll be expecting a report after it's been open a while and things calm down.

And finally, your weekend reading assignment: a very honest and thoughtful discussion between two writers on the difficulty of keeping up with new music as we get older. (The A.V. Club)

13 May 2011

Back Catalog: Sounds from the SAR Hi-Fi

Welcome to what I hope will become a semi-regular, recurring feature here in my corner of blogville. Music has always played an important role in my life, from my earliest exposure to Motown artists on mom and dad's stereo.

I've been buying my own music—first 45s, then LPs, then CDs—for almost 40 years. I still have a couple hundred LPs in the basement that I didn't immediately replace with CDs when that format took over in the 1980s. Sometimes I come across reissues of albums that were never on CD at all when they were first released, or were but I didn't buy them because I already had the LP.

Recently I was listening to one of these reissues and started hunting around for CD versions of the other albums released by the same band, which gave me the idea for this feature, as well as which band to discuss first. (Note that I'm not attempting to do in-depth histories of bands here, but hopefully this feature will serve to provide introductions to music you may not be familiar with.)

R.E.M. is certainly the best-known and most successful band to emerge from the Athens, GA scene in the 1980s. The B-52's did pretty well too. But what about Guadalcanal Diary? It's the name of a 1943 movie about a World War II battle, and the band took its name from the movie—actually they were from Marietta, but they got lumped in with the others from the Athens scene.

Their jangle-pop certainly resembled what R.E.M. was doing at the time (which may have ended up hurting Guadalcanal Diary more than it might have helped), but with a more prominent Southern Gothic flavor, steeped in literature and history. The very first track on their first album references the Civil War; other songs mention preachers and heaven, and the album concludes with a version of the traditional spiritual "Kumbayah." But alongside their more serious material, GD display a rather offbeat sense of humor on songs like "Watusi Rodeo" and "Cattle Prod."

Guadalcanal Diary released four albums between 1984 and 1989: Walking in the Shadow of the Big Man, Jamboree, 2 x 4, and Flip-Flop. The first three have been reissued in very limited numbers (2500 copies each) by Rhino Handmade, but the first album is the only one currently still available from Rhino on CD, and the one I bought about two years ago; the other two albums can be purchased as MP3s from Rhino.

Used CD copies of the original 1980s releases are floating around; I just picked up 2 x 4 for around $6 on eBay. Given their limited quantities, used copies of the Rhino releases are scarce and expensive; the lowest price at the moment for a copy of WITSOTBM on half.com is $15; the other two discs are currently not available anywhere that I'm aware of. Jamboree seems to be the most difficult to find; I've decided to buy the digital version and keep looking for a copy on CD. (There's also a version out with the first two albums on one CD.)

From looking at the Wikipedia entry for the band I found their web site, and learned that they will be playing a couple of anniversary shows this summer in Athens and Atlanta. Right now the site isn't much more than a placeholder, but hopefully there will be more there in the future.

(with apologies to Thievery Corporation for my blatant appropriation of their album title Sounds from the Thievery Hi-Fi)

12 May 2011

The Over/Under

This is too good to save for the weekend TWiA. It probably won't come as a surprise to you that I'm an Over.

(Infographic courtesy of EngineeringDegree, via CNET's Crave blog, via The Hairpin.)

Note: graphic and link removed at request of EngineeringDegree.

11 May 2011

Musical Interlude

Arcade Fire headlined the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival last weekend, and Cyndi Lauper joined them for an encore of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." Those of us who were around when the song first hit the charts may appreciate this a bit more than the youngsters.

(FYI: This is a fan video, so the audio is thin and the video is a bit shaky.)

10 May 2011


Just received word (via UrbanDaddy Boston) that you can now special-order a three-foot burrito stuffed with every variety of meat offered at Anna's Taqueria. I'd say this is both awesome and horrifying, and if you go and read the full description you'll see what I mean.

09 May 2011

Bargain Alert: Frye Boots

I think Frye tends to occupy a space below the style radar for many people, and that's unfortunate because they have been around for nearly 150 years and are known for producing some truly iconic styles of American footwear, like harness boots, engineer boots, and what's come to be known as the campus boot. (Depending on your age, you can ask your parents or grandparents what sort of shoes/boots they wore when they were young; chances are, someone wore one of those.)

I have to wonder why Frye hasn't exploited its heritage to inject itself into the minds of fashion editors, especially given the popularity of other boot brands with similar history such as Red Wing, Wolverine, and Chippewa. Also curiously, Frye makes more high-fashion versions of some of its classic styles that unfortunately do not necessarily improve upon the originals.

Anyway, I wasn't intending to critique the brand, but rather to alert you to a very good deal on a particular Frye style that I'm interested in myself. It might be a bit out of season, but that's often when the best deals are to be found. The boot is called the Arkansas, and it normally retails for $200. For an American-made boot, that's an excellent price, but how'd you like to save 40% off that?

Endless is currently offering the Arkansas for $119.99 in three colorways. (Unfortunately they no longer have the black that I'm after.) I did try these on in a size 11; they were too big for me, but very comfortable. They only come in D width, but it's a pretty generous fit, as tends to be the case with boots. Size availability on these varies by color.

Caveat emptor, though: it looks to me like the boots have some of that "burnishing" on the toes that's been popular lately, so I suggest taking a good close look at the photos, and maybe calling customer service if you need to. Of course, maybe you're fine with how they look; if not, it wouldn't be as obvious on the dark brown boots. Endless offers free two-day shipping and, if they don't work out, free returns.

Piperlime has the boots for the same price, though only in what they call "tan" but which looks to be the dark brown. Again, free shipping and free returns, and fewer sizes available, though ordering from Piperlime might be a good bet for you if you were already planning to order something from Gap or Banana, since including shoes in an order gets you free shipping for the entire order.

If you can't find the size or color you're looking for at the bargain price, you can still order them direct from Frye at full price. I have no idea how they ship or what it costs. I thought I might try locating these in a local store, but oddly, Frye doesn't offer this information on their site.

(If anyone comes across the Arkansas boots in black size 10.5 in the $120 range, I'd greatly appreciate a heads-up. And if you have these boots and want to sell them, please get in touch.)

07 May 2011

This Week in Awesome (5/7/11)

Happy Mother's Day! I got all of you some internet. You can thank me later...

This truck driver may need some remedial driving lessons. (YouTube via Autoblog)

I hope to some day have enough free time to come up with a diversion as esoteric as a Tumblr chronicle of the watches worn by Fox Mulder on The X-Files. (Kempt)

Corporate logos, reimagined to more honestly depict their companies. (Behance via Consumerist)

GQ did some investigating and found some questions regarding the birth certificate of a certain real-estate developer with tragic hair and presidential aspirations.

And finally this week, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler stopped by Late Night to give Jimmy Fallon a hand with a Jersey Shore spoof. (Hulu via Popeater)

06 May 2011

Last-Minute Substitution

Well, I had something else planned for today that didn't quite work out (I'll get to it soon), so I'm just going to do what I should have done this morning, and point to this article from the Boston Globe about a group of New England lawmakers trying to get the military to agree to supply personnel with American-made athletic shoes.

05 May 2011

Dinner Plans

Things are going to be a bit minimalist for Mother's Day. My brother has to work and my sister is going to be away on a vacation she planned before realizing Mother's Day fell on the 8th and not the 15th, so it's just going to be the Mrs. and me taking her out.

My mother typically puts a fair amount of thought into where wants to go, and we've had some very nice dinners in years past. This year she ultimately decided she wants to go to the Outback Steakhouse. I haven't been to one of those in probably 15 years or so, coincidentally while visiting my parents when they used to go to Fort Lauderdale for the winter.

I'm not going to complain or give her a hard time about it—it is her day, after all—but I'm not much of a steak eater. I seem to recall that they also had a decent selection of seafood, and was going to look over the menu, but their site doesn't want to show it to me. Why is the online menu thing so complicated? Either make it a PDF, or pay a college kid to figure out how to render it in HTML.

04 May 2011

Friends and Family Discounts

If the selection on the flash-sale sites isn't doing it for you (I bought a shirt from Gilt a couple of weeks ago, the first item I've bought from them and kept) or your tastes just tend toward the more traditional, there are a couple of sales happening that may be of interest to you.

Brooks Brothers is having its semi-annual (I believe) friends and family sale now through Monday, offering 25% off everything except cordovan shoes. The online code is 06FRIENDS (there may be more than one code), though I actually received an invitation of sorts in the mail from the manager of the Newbury Street store. I'm not sure exactly why, as I'm not a big BB customer, but I did recently buy those boots from their site (which I returned) and created an account in the process, so they do have my personal info, and I have been getting several emails a week from them. Not sure if I'm going to buy anything, but I'll definitely stop by for a look around.

There's also a Ralph Lauren sale happening during the same dates. There has been a "pre-sale" going on this week with some serious discounts, but RL stuff is seriously expensive to start, so the savings are relative. Still, if you're looking for certain things, you could do a lot worse than picking up some Ralph on sale. In contrast to BB, I have been receiving emails from RL for years, yet I didn't know about this sale until I saw it mentioned over at Put This On, with info about contacting customer service to get a code for an additional 15% off. This may or may not be worth your time, but again, if you're looking for something specific, you could be looking at significant savings.

Update, 5/5: The email from Ralph with the code for the extra discount arrived around 7:30 this morning.

03 May 2011

Eat Your Vegetables

We try to do our part to support local businesses in our area, and one place we've been going more frequently is a little produce store called Roberto's on Mystic Avenue, just north of the intersection with Mystic Valley Parkway. The goods are packed in pretty tightly, but the quality is consistently good and the prices are the same as or lower than the nearby supermarkets.

02 May 2011

High School Fashion Flashback

I went to high school from 1977 to 1981 at a single-sex parochial school with a dress code. Until that point I'd gone to public schools, so I'd never had to wear school uniforms as such, but unlike many of the other students, I didn't see wearing a jacket and tie as a burden or a punishment.

Button-front shirts were required. Collars were supposed to be buttoned and ties knotted and pulled up into place, but the faculty didn't bother enforcing that one unless a guy left his knot too loose, so we all went about our days with our collars casually unbuttoned and our ties slightly loosened.

Jeans were not allowed, but corduroy pants were, so I recall my school wardrobe was filled with Levi's five-pocket corduroys, which were technically not jeans because they were not denim. To this day I still favor this style of pants, and have about half a dozen pairs at the moment. (No Levi's, though; I don't think they make any in a cut I could wear now.)

We also could not wear sneakers. But we did not have to wear dress shoes, and in fact we were instructed not to wear leather-soled shoes, which I believe had something to do with how often the floors would have had to be polished if several hundred teenage boys were walking around every day in dress shoes, leaving scuff marks on the linoleum. (It probably influenced my general lack of favor toward leather-soled shoes, though that has been changing of late.) So most guys wore crepe-soled shoes like desert boots, or those other Clarks shoes called "wallabees." I honestly can't remember what sort of shoes I wore back then, though I'm pretty sure it wasn't either of the above. Boat shoes, certainly, though those didn't become popular until I'd been in high school for a couple of years.

My classmates filled the spectrum from one kid who proudly carried his books and other belongings in a big brown leather satchel (that, if I remember correctly, had belonged to his grandfather) to guys who had one sport jacket (typically, either tan corduroy or a navy blazer) and one tie (typically, a navy blue or black knit "sock tie" or a hideous striped thing swiped from dad's closet) which they would keep in their lockers and don each day, regardless of whatever else they were wearing, in order to meet the letter of the dress code, if not the spirit. It ended up that a lot of kids were walking around in plaid Western-style shirts with snaps (very popular at the time), with the added ties and jackets looking quite incongruous.

From after April vacation until the end of the school year, the dress code rules were relaxed somewhat. The jackets and ties went into storage until September, and now any shirt with a collar was acceptable, which meant polo shirts on warmer days. The first big moment of popularity for Lacoste and Polo polos was during this period, so there were plenty of those, along with the tigers, knights, and whatever other knockoffs were around at the time. I had a few "alligator shirts" because there was a store that sold them at a steep discount, and I could still fit into a boys' size 20, which made them even cheaper to buy.

We all looked forward to senior year, when, due to space constraints, seniors attended classes at a separate campus a mile or so away from the main school, on a gorgeous piece of waterfront property that belonged to the diocese and housed its seminary. (Later the school expanded the buildings at its main campus and seniors were brought back with the underclassmen, so I consider myself lucky that I got to enjoy that perk.) Also, for some reason that was never clear to any of us, we were allowed to wear sneakers.

Royal blue nylon and suede running shoes with white trim were quite popular at the time, as were Nikes, either the white canvas or leather basketball-style sneakers, or the Cortez, which was more of a lifestyle shoe even back then (and looks remarkably unchanged after all this time). A few of the preppier kids wore Tretorns, but no one had heard of Reebok or New Balance, and I can't remember a single kid wearing adidas or Puma—I wouldn't become aware those existed until I got to college. (Actually, thinking back on it, there may have been one guy who wore Stan Smiths in the traditional white with green trim.)

I had discovered that some of my father's clothes now fit me, and took to wearing a charcoal gray worsted wool jacket that had come from his 1960 honeymoon suit (the pants never fit, as his legs were shorter than mine) and some skinny ties I'd found in the basement. Blondie's Parallel Lines had come out a year or so before, and I'd been influenced not only by the music but by the style of the band's male members on the cover.

I didn't start wearing a black suit, but I had the dark jacket, a skinny black tie with white dots, a white or pink button-down collar shirt, the cord jeans, and white sneakers. There were a few other guys in my class who were into similar music, stuff that definitely wasn't anywhere near mainstream at this time, and they were sporting similar looks around campus that year. Later on, in college, I'd develop this style further and refine it into my mid-80s everyday look.

01 May 2011

This Week in Awesome (4/30/11)

Hope you're enjoying the weekend, and that these might make it a bit more enjoyable:

The ongoing quest for vintage city pictures yielded this batch from the archives of the Boston traffic and parking department. (Flickr via Universal Hub)

A Star Wars twofer: first, imaginary vintage-retro-future desktop screenshots (Cult of Mac), then a very clever melding of Star Wars footage and French existentialist writings. (The Awl)

Have you ever seen an ad for an obviously awful movie and wondered who might have written it? Wonder no more. (Onion News Network)

And finally this week, those of you old enough to remember the genius of Spy magazine will rejoice at the information that a significant portion of its output has been digitized into Google Books. For those of you who are unfamiliar: school is in session. The timing of this is fortuitous, since Spy was always merciless to a certain "short-fingered vulgarian" with questionable hair. (Splitsider)