31 October 2011

Variable Conditions

My reaction to this weekend's freak snowstorm, on getting up Sunday morning and going out to get the paper, was, "That's it?" But this was highly variable depending on where you happened to be. When I saw on the news that an area around the Massachusetts/Vermont border got 30" of snow, and a wider area around that got 20", I realized how much it must suck to live out in the boonies. Even Worcester got a pretty serious hit, and an informal survey of people in my office who live between 128 and 495 found that four to six inches was the average.

But in closer to Boston, it was much more of a whimper than a bang. We heard on Saturday night that the peak of the storm would pass over our area between 2 and 6 am, and as a bonus I got a firsthand look at what was going on at 4 am, courtesy of the dog. When she wakes one of us in the middle of the night, it can mean only one thing.

[This is not the first time she's done this during a storm. There seems to be some correlation between severe weather and nocturnal stirring. It may be a moon influence, or possibly an atmospheric vibe she feels, or something else entirely, but it is real.]

Since I didn't yet have any winter outerwear handy (still in storage in the basement), I layered up under a raincoat and added a scarf and a waterproof hat. But when we got outside, it was more rain than snow that was falling, and the sidewalks, driveways, and streets were covered in maybe an inch of slush. That's what I found several hours later, plus the sun was out, and it stayed out all day, so the slush melted away within a few hours. That's definitely one good thing about off-season storms: the weather tends to move back to more or less normal quickly.

Maybe it wasn't so bad earlier in the month, when it was warmer than normal.

29 October 2011

This Week in Awesome (10/29/11)

Let me make one thing clear: I said I wanted fall, not winter. This is not at all what I had in mind...

Regardless of the weather, Monday is still Halloween. But if you live in certain parts of Brooklyn, you might be more used to seeing people playing dress-up year-round. (The Awl)

Time compiled a list of their choices for the top 100 pop songs since they began publishing in 1923. (Gilt MANual)

Stop-motion video is right up there with time-lapse video. This one's a collaboration between Spike Jonze and a French textile artist. FYI: meant for mature audiences. (Atlantic Wire via Kempt)

Check out a preview of this cool new book full of lots of interesting facts presented in artful graphics. (Boing Boing via The Hairpin)

And finally this week, back in February Jalopnik posted a trailer for a miniature (1/32 scale, to be precise) recreation of the centerpiece chase from the movie Bullitt. Now there's a new trailer, and a release date of February '12.

28 October 2011

Retro Video Unit (10/28/11)

I'm jumping ahead of the usual time frame for these selections, to 1991. As Nirvana roared to prominence and Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and others followed, there were people like me who weren't all that interested in that particular sound. And there were bands like Chicago's Material Issue who understood, and offered a power-pop antidote to grunge.

This video, for the song "Diane," is not anything special (arriving a decade into the MTV era, you could argue that all the good ideas for music videos had already been used, plus it was obviously made on the cheap), but it serves the song well, and the song is what's key here. Bright, bouncy, and infectious, with just a hint of darker emotion lurking around the edges, "Diane" encapsulates everything that was great about these guys.

27 October 2011

Shopping Locally

On Sunday I visited the fourth installment of the semiannual Top Shelf Flea Market. At around 1 pm the VFW was absolutely teeming with people, which hopefully translated into big sales for the vendors. I've been to all of them, and this was the busiest I've seen it. There was even a greyhound tied up outside the entrance, waiting patiently for its people to finish shopping. I got a vintage made-in-England tweed jacket from Giuseppe, but his booth was so busy I didn't have a chance to chat with him.

Later on I headed down the street to Porter Square Books, because I needed to pick up a 2012 Moleskine calendar notebook. I've been carrying one of these for several years now. The version I like is arranged with a week down the left-hand pages, and blank, lined right-hand pages. There are other layouts, but this one works best for me. Since I pay all my bills online, I use the notebook to (among other things) make notes for when I make the payments and how much, in case I need to refer back.

The bookstore was also quite busy, which was great. It's a well-run store, and I always like to see local, independent businesses thriving, especially a bookstore at a time when all bookstores are threatened by online giants, warehouse clubs, and the growth of ebook readers. PSB filled a void in the area, and has become established enough to attract a busy slate of author appearances and support two book clubs (one for adults, one for kids). It also has a very good coffee bar.

Navigating the parking lot and environs of the Porter Square Shopping Center can be tricky, especially on weekends, but that's to be expected when a suburban-style strip mall is located in the midst of a densely-packed urban area. Don't let that deter you—just pay attention when you're walking in the lot.

25 October 2011

Today's Outfit

I've never gone in for any of the "what I'm wearing today" stuff, because it just isn't my thing, but today things came together nicely, so why not? Don't expect it to become a regular thing, though; for one thing, I'd have to manage better pictures...
Jacket: olive green herringbone with red and mustard windowpanes. I got this from Lord & Taylor maybe five or six years ago; it's from their old house brand Grant Thomas, which they discontinued several years back in favor of the generally unappealing and poorly made Black Brown stuff (if you've seen any of it in person, you know what I'm talking about). This was originally a 3-button jacket, but I re-pressed the lapels to roll to the middle button. Lots of nice little details: traditional leather buttons, side vents, ticket pocket, suede elbow patches. A good find.

Shirt: Martin + Osa, in a red, olive, and cream plaid. This is about the only shirt I have that goes well with pants in the olive-to-brown range. If you want to get wonky about it, the colors in the shirt also tie in nicely with the colors in the jacket.

Pants: not sure what you'd call this color—medium brown? Five-pocket corduroys from JCPenney's house brand St. John's Bay. Cheap, obviously. I bought four pairs of these last year and get lots of wear out of them.

Shoes: these are those boots from Lands' End Canvas. They're plain-toe lace-ups in a very nice dark brown with a bit of burgundy to it. Still breaking them in, but they are more comfortable than I expected. Also available in black, and currently on sale for 1/3 off the original price. If you're interested, I recommend going up a half size from your usual dress shoe size.*

I'm also wearing a cheapo (like, less than $10) Michael Kors belt that I found several years ago at Building #19. It happens to match fairly well with these boots, and with some other shoes I have.

If I do this again, I'll definitely take a better picture...

*Ooh, you can get an extra 20% off the sale price of these boots with the code WOW20OFF and PIN 3737, but this offer expires tonight.

24 October 2011

Banana Memories

Consider this an addendum to the weekend's TWiA if you like: back in the 1980s, before it was acquired by Gap, Banana Republic was a small, quirky company that sold "travel and safari clothing" from a catalog that featured illustrations rather than photos. Most of it was pretty interesting, and some of it was quite cool.

There's a fairly robust secondary market for vintage BR stuff, and sites like Abandoned Republic that share their interest with the rest of us. I had one of these bags, which I bought at the first BR store that opened in this area, on the ground floor of the then-new Charles Hotel in Harvard Square, and carried for several years.

But before that, I had made purchases from the catalog. I remember as a senior in college doing a group order with several of the people with whom I shared a brownstone dorm on Bay State Road. I bought a khaki-colored poplin shirt with flap pockets and epaulets that I wore for a long time.

Source: Put This On via Archival Clothing

23 October 2011

This Week in Awesome (10/22/11)

This week ended up having a nostalgia theme, quite coincidentally:

There are many places to spot older cars on the street, and you can get a good daily dose of them at Curbside Classic. But New York City is not a place you'd expect to see old iron in use, so this blog is documenting such instances. (Hemmings Auto Blog)

The first ten minutes of the first ever broadcast of Monday Night Football from 1970. Fascinating to see, old ads included. (YouTube via Esquire)

A nice piece, with accompanying video, looking back on the days when the stretch of Comm. Ave. between Kenmore Square and Packard's Corner was known as "Automobile Row." (BU Today via Universal Hub)

Who knew our currency used to look this cool? (Boing Boing via Kempt)

And finally this week, an amazing set of photos documenting the life and times of a Saks Fifth Avenue mannequin in the 1930s who had her own newspaper column and radio show. I am 100% not making this up. (How To Be a Retronaut via The Hairpin)

22 October 2011

A Shoe Solution

Not sure where yesterday got to... it's not like I was exactly maxed out at work. Anyway, I just wanted to briefly mention that the universe stepped in and helped me solve the black-loafer problem.

The same day I sent back those Bass loafers that weren't wide enough, I found an eBay auction for a pair of black Allen Edmonds Walden penny loafers in 10.5 wide. I've been checking the AE listings on eBay for months, and the only black loafers I'd seen in wide were in a condition that I didn't think was worth bidding on.

The AE shoes are made in USA, which is always preferable; I've also searched for older Bass loafers from back when they still made their shoes in USA, and one pair did come up a couple of months back, but I lost that auction. This time I had the Buy It Now option, and I took it. These shoes have been worn (it's evident from the soles and heels) but the uppers still look nearly new, so clearly they have been cared for, which benefits both the seller and me.

The best part is that I ended up spending significantly less than even the $90 sale price of the Bass shoes, and got arguably better-made shoes in the process.

It may also be worth mentioning here that about a year ago, a salesman at the AE store downtown on Devonshire Street tried to tell me that with a pair of their Walden loafers I would not need to wear wide, because the shoes would stretch. I didn't try them on at the time, but I knew in my gut that he was wrong. As I mentioned the other day, there is no guarantee that a pair of shoes will stretch simply from wearing them, and if you do that, then you probably can't return them.

Sometimes shoes can be stretched by shoe repair professionals, but your mileage will certainly vary. You know your own feet better than anyone else, so don't be talked into something just because you think you want it or it looks good.

20 October 2011

Casing the iPhone

Now that I have an iPhone, I think I need a case for it. But I can't stand those neoprene "bumper" things, which do nothing to protect the glass anyway. I'm having a tough time figuring out what to do, because I have not seen much out there that isn't crap.

The iPhone is thinner than my Palm Pre, but it's also about half an inch taller. The Pre also had rounded edges on every side, making carrying it in my pants pocket easier, even in its case. I guess what I want is a protective case for when the phone is in my bag or pocket, but one that it's also easy to remove the phone from for when I want to use it.

I have seen a couple of things that fit these general parameters. Twelve South makes cool cases that look like antique books, for iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. Their iPhone case also serves as a wallet, a feature I would be unlikely to use but could be handy. Overall I like the idea of this, and Twelve South's cases are made in the USA, but it might be a little too precious.

I found something similar in the guise of a Moleskine notebook, which would work nicely, but the product page says it's for the iPhone 3 and 3GS, which suggests that either they are a bit behind in development, or they decided not to proceed with making a version to fit the iPhone 4, in which case I would be out of luck.

Orvis has a rather rugged-looking leather case that's sort of like a pocket notepad with a slot large enough to slide an iPhone into. At $70 it's more expensive than either of the others, but it's distinctive (a quality I always consider when making a decision such as this one) and it's also made in the USA.

If anyone has suggestions, please send them along.

19 October 2011

Paying a Premium

Today's my monthly deadline, thus my absence yesterday. In order to meet the deadline, I have to ensure certain things are complete the day before and are uploaded into one particular database, which then syncs with another database overnight, so I can do some other stuff and then make a bunch of content live on our web site on the 19th of each month. So I guess you could say my deadline has a deadline. (And I think I've just demonstrated why there's really no reason for me to talk about my work here...)

Anyway, now that those things have been accomplished, I had a bit of time to poke around the internets. I've been looking for a certain style of tweed sportcoat (not that the temps are cool enough to wear one yet, argh), which I believe I'm most likely to find through eBay or Style Forum, but just to be thorough I decided to take a quick glance at Park & Bond, which is the full-price cousin of flash-sale site Gilt Man.

[Edit: I'd forgotten about the Top Shelf Flea this weekend; maybe Giuseppe can hook me up.]

First strange thing: Park & Bond is selling J. Crew. stuff. I find that very odd; why would someone purchase from P&B instead of from J. Crew directly? And they are offering just a very small selection of J. Crew items. Maybe it has something to do with which countries the sites do or don't ship to?

Second strange thing: the same sportcoat is available through both sites at very different prices. Here it is on P&B, for $450, and here it is on J. Crew, in an additional color, for $278. Plus, it's out of stock on P&B anyway, so even if you were stubbornly insistent about paying 60% more for the same item, you couldn't. But why would you? Not to mention that things do go on sale at J. Crew from time to time, they offer occasional discounts to their credit card holders, etc.

I hope this is nothing more than some sort of data-entry error, but does the fact that it's out of stock mean that P&B has actually sold some of these (presumably to some extremely gullible shoppers)?

Pricing discrepancy aside, I'd think that Park & Bond would want to cultivate its niche on the web as a place to get items that aren't so easy to come by in other places, but their offerings aren't impressing me.

17 October 2011

The Return of Shoe Misery

Until I went looking for those penny loafers last week, I hadn't thought about shoes that much, because I had been more focused on sneakers for the summer months, and also because I had been trying to stay away from buying "regular" shoes since they tend to cost more than sneakers. In the interim, I had kind of forgotten about the problems I often have when trying to buy shoes.

Those Bass loafers arrived on Friday, and while the leather had a nice matte finish and the unfinished leather edges did not look as bad as I had thought (I still would have wanted to have them darkened), the shoes themselves did not fit. This is because this particular style is only available in medium width, and I usually need wide. I didn't think it would be enough of a difference to matter, but after struggling to stuff my feet into the shoes, I knew I wouldn't be able to wear them.

Sometimes this style of loafers will stretch with wearing, but there's no guarantee of that, and I was afraid I would spend two months suffering each time I wore them without getting any resulta. So back they've gone.

16 October 2011

This Week in Awesome (10/15/11)

So yes, my iPhone did arrive on Friday, before noon in fact (standard UPS deliveries typically arrive at my office around 1:30 pm, so I think the iPhone was sent via overnight). I figured out how to copy the photos off my outgoing phone into my computer, but (somewhat mind-blowingly for 2011) I still had to re-enter my contacts into the new phone manually, because Verizon's "backup assistant" thing doesn't work with pretty much any of the smartphones they sell. Anyway...

Those of you who remember MTV's animation show Liquid Television may be pleased to know that the show's various cartoons have been archived online. (Videogum)

Any type geeks in the house? Anyone see Helvetica? You'll want to check out this online type kerning game. (The Awl)

Here you'll find quite a comprehensive collection of photos representing the diversity of restroom signage, and some discussion thereof. (The Society Pages via The Awl)

Have you ever heard the expression "spite house"? This will explain everything. Interestingly, two of the houses featured are in greater Boston. (Twisted Sifter via The Hairpin)

And finally this week, you knew it was coming: Shit That Siri Says. (The Daily What)

14 October 2011

Retro Video Unit (10/14/11)

As I mentioned in an earlier edition of this feature, Saturday Night Live was the gateway to my exposure to alternative music in the 1970s, but Talking Heads were not the first instance. Shortly before I saw their performances, my true musical awakening occurred in the person of Elvis Costello, when he appeared on the show and performed "Radio Radio" from his second album, This Year's Model.

And it seems there is an official music video for this song, which surprised me a bit given when it was released. But it exists regardless, so enjoy...

13 October 2011

Grand Opening

If you've read my accounts of our trips to New York, you know how I feel about Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo and its Soho store. Uniqlo's presence in Manhattan is about to get much more significant: tomorrow they open a colossal new store (89,000 square feet) on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street. (It's approximately 2.5 times the space of the Soho store.) A week from tomorrow they're opening a third store, also rather large, on 34th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, just down the street from Herald Square.

Earlier this week various media and bloggers were invited to tour the Fifth Avenue store. Here's coverage from GQ, Racked NY, and The Shophound. The photos will give you some idea of just how large this store is. I can't wait to see it in person. For those of you who live in the New York area, or who may be planning on visiting the city in the next couple of weeks, Uniqlo is offering special grand-opening deals on various products, like men's cashmere sweaters for $60 (check their site for details).

I may need to plan another day trip. PB, you in?

In Transit

I want to believe Verizon (naturally) when they tell me my iPhone has shipped and I will definitely receive it tomorrow, but the tracking number gives me only an error message, so it's making me a tiny bit nervous.

But I choose to remain optimistic. Then again, the address got mutated again. More and more lately, shippers are taking it upon themselves to alter the address I provide for shipments to my workplace. The address they're changing to is only slightly different, but it's enough to cause delivery problems. Looks like I will need to be extra-vigilant tomorrow.

12 October 2011

Not Suitable

I had another look at the cotton suit last night, and it isn't going to work, because I'd forgotten that the sleeves are too long and need to be altered. I wasn't 100% certain when I bought it whether I was going to keep it or not, so I never took it to the tailor. And anyway, I imagine it's going to cool down as soon as the sun sets Friday, and it's supposed to be raining, which just adds to the fun. Time to have a look at my other suits and see what fits.

11 October 2011


I've realized that those of you who stop by to see what I have to say about clothes and stuff have quite possibly been a little bored lately, what with all my going on about my impending iPhone, griping about nice weather, etc. Fair enough...

I have days when I just can't decide which shoes to wear. This happens at least once a week, and it usually coincides with being in a hurry to finish getting dressed. Since the shoes one chooses to wear on a given day tend to determine the belt one wears, and to some extent what outerwear (this may just be my own neurosis, but I can't leave the house wearing sneakers if I'm also wearing a hip-length coat), the choice of shoes is fairly important.

On such indecisive days, I tend to fall back on penny loafers, of which I have several pairs. This is partly due to the fact that they slip on quickly and easily, with no bending and tying. Also, they go well with most of the stuff I wear, which makes the other decisions easier.

The term "penny loafer" tends to apply to a few different styles of shoe. It typically has a strap with a cutout; back in the late 1950s, when my parents were in high school, people actually put pennies in the slots, but that's best left to the kids. The strap may be attached to the sides of the shoe, it may extend all the way to the bottom of the upper on both sides (sometimes called a "full-strap"), or there may be stitched rolls of leather at either end (called a "beefroll"). A loafer with no strap is called a Venetian.

I find Venetians too plain-looking, like they're unfinished. I don't like beefrolls either. A full-strap loafer can be all right, but I prefer the classic flat-strap penny. (I'm not going to discuss tassel loafers, because I happen to believe that tassels do not belong on a man's shoes. If you like them, fine; I can't abide them.)

Bass Weejuns are the iconic penny loafers. "Weejuns" is a contraction of "Norwegians" because G.H. Bass had seen Norwegian farmers wearing similar shoes and borrowed the design from them. I own one pair of Weejuns at the moment, the "Logan" in tan leather with cream contrast stitching. My other penny loafers are other brands, because the leather on the Logan in black or burgundy is too glossy.

But Bass has other styles of Weejuns now, in different leathers. The "Longwood" is a standard flat-strap penny very much like the Logan, but made in a matte calf leather. (It's also available in black, but I guess Zappos isn't carrying it.) This is good, because I've been looking to replace my black penny loafers, which are Sebagos and never quite worked on my feet, though I've been pretending otherwise for two years. One issue with the Longwood is that the edges of the leather are unfinished, and to me the natural leather clashes with the black of the rest of the shoe. I suspect this may be rectified with either the application of some shoe polish, or a visit to a cobbler.

One other Weejun of note is the 75th anniversary "Linwood" model. The leather on these has a nice luster without the fake-looking gloss of the Logan. These are described as exclusive to Opening Ceremony, a hipster store in New York, but I found them at ShoeBuy and Piperlime. They're already marked down at Piperlime, and ShoeBuy offers discount codes all the time. One unusual thing about the Linwood is that it's available in navy as well as burgundy. I also can't abide navy shoes, but if that's your thing, this might be a good shoe for you.

By the way, I opted not to go with American-made shoes like the Walden from Allen Edmonds mainly because of cost. A pair of Waldens is $235, versus $100 to $120 for Weejuns, depending on style, plus if you put in a small amount of effort you can almost certainly get the Weejuns of your choice at a decent discount. I ended up ordering the Longwoods from Piperlime for $90, which is 25% off their regular price. And Weejuns are manufactured in El Salvador, which is at least in this hemisphere.

10 October 2011

Indian Summer

I want to feel happy about this weather. I really do. I understand why people dread winter; as I get older, it gets more challenging to deal with. But sitting in the living room this evening, we had to turn on the AC to be comfortable watching TV. It's mainly the TV's fault; it's plasma, and they throw a lot of heat. I didn't know this when I was shopping for a TV four years ago; I never saw it mentioned in any of the reviews I read. Had I known, I might have reconsidered getting an LCD.

I just want some fall. Is that too much to ask? Everybody likes fall, right?

We're going to a dress-up event this Friday evening, and for a couple of weeks now I've been assembling potential outfits in my head. Now the forecast says it's supposed to be 70 on Friday, and I'm thinking I might need to wear the beige cotton suit I bought this summer. I'm not certain if that's a fashion "don't" or not, but it might be a necessity for comfort.

08 October 2011

This Week in Awesome (10/8/11)

Got busy at work again yesterday afternoon (what's up with these busy Fridays; that's when I'm supposed to be able to slip out early), guess I didn't have anything useful to say anyway. I did preorder my iPhone yesterday morning (through Verizon, so I could get my upgrade discount) and if everything goes according to plan I will receive it next Friday, the same day they go on sale.

Here's a tumblr site that chronicles the colorful and unusual outfits and people seen on subways. (Thrillist via Racked NY)

Ever think your barista is a snob? Watch this. (Funny or Die via Eater)

Imaginary Playboy covers featuring the ladies of Mad Men. What, no Peggy? Sure, she's not as sexy as Joan (who could be?), but come on. (BuzzFeed via Videogum)

A time-lapse video that's not of a city. Disclaimer: I did not think this was as awesome as the Gizmodo poster did, but maybe that's just me.

And finally this week, many, many tributes to Steve Jobs appeared online, and you probably saw many of them. I decided to feature just a couple of them: Stephen Colbert (video) and Stephen Fry (text). (Hat tip to DC)

06 October 2011

Thanks, Steve

Well, I guess I really have to get an iPhone now...

I always thought Steve would be around, fostering innovation at Apple for decades to come. Even when he resigned in August, I didn't want to believe he could really be so gravely ill.

Personally, Apple's products have meant a lot to me. Macs are the only computers I've owned. I bought my first, a Mac Plus, in 1992 from someone I worked with, who had bought it from someone else we worked with (who was the original owner). I still have it down in the basement, though I doubt it would work at this point. In fact, I still have four of the five Macs I've owned, including the one I'm using to write this. (Seeing that written down makes me realize that perhaps I might have some issues around holding onto stuff longer than necessary.)

Back in the '90s, it wasn't easy to be a Mac partisan. Software was less available, and typically more expensive. I knew that making a conscious choice to be a Mac user at least in part because it was a sort of identification: I am different because I choose to do this. Even before I bought my first Mac, I always felt like that was the group I belonged with.

I'm also lucky enough to use a Mac at work, and at other jobs I've had as well. When my mother asks me questions about how to do something in Windows, I usually don't know the answer. (The Mrs. has helped out with some of those.) I've had a couple of iPods, so it seems only right that I should be moving on to an iPhone.

My boss showed up today wearing jeans and a black mock turtleneck, to honor Steve. (He's a guy not generally given to that sort of expression.) But it made me realize that there's a bit of Steve in all of us Mac users, and in our computers, music players, phones, and tablets.

Thank you, Steve. You gave us so much. I hope you felt like you got something from us in return.

05 October 2011

It's Time

Like many other people, I spent my lunch yesterday refreshing my browser page on a tech blog as the information about the latest iPhone unspooled across the web. We knew what to expect, and yet we didn't, because so much (sometimes conflicting) information had been swirling around in recent weeks.

As I've mentioned before, I like my Palm Pre, but the lack of app development has made it a somewhat disappointing smartphone experience. My other area of reluctance was the iPhone's virtual keyboard, but to be honest, the keyboard on the Pre is kinda terrible, so I don't see how tapping virtual keys on glass could be worse.

As someone who's been an Apple adherent for 20 years, I knew I should have an iPhone, but in January 2010 when I got this current phone, there was still no iPhone for Verizon. When that appeared this past winter, it was too soon for me to make the switch without it costing more than I could justify. I decided to wait until my upgrade discount came up.

As of last week I am eligible for a discounted phone upgrade. (It seems early, but when I sign into my Verizon account, that's what it tells me.) And here we are with the iPhone 4S about to go on sale. Do I need to replace my phone right this minute? Not really, but I would have gone ahead and upgraded to a new phone some time in the next couple of months anyway, and I've gone without iPhone goodness for four years now, so why should I wait any longer? It's time.

Preorders start this Friday, which seems like a smarter way to go than standing in line a week from Friday, when the new iPhone goes on sale. This should be interesting, and it will probably give me something to write about.

04 October 2011

Fall TV Check-In

So it's a couple of weeks into the new TV season, and I have sampled a few new shows. Even with the aid of a DVR, there's only so much time a person can spend watching TV, and I already have a roster of shows I watch regularly, so I tend to be picky about adding new shows.

There are a bunch of new comedies this fall, and comedy seems to be having something of a resurgence in general. It's easier to add a comedy or two to my regular viewing because of they're shorter. The Mrs. and I both like The New Girl on Fox, and we were already watching Raising Hope, which comes on right after New Girl on the same channel, so this one was an easy choice.

We're also watching Up All Night on NBC, about a couple coping with being new parents. It's a bit ironic that we like this one, since we are not parents, but the cast appealed to us (Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph) and so far it's been pretty funny.

A show that looked promising but has not lived up to the anticipation is 2 Broke Girls on CBS. The premise: spoiled rich girl finds herself penniless when her disgraced Madoffesque father's assets are frozen, must resort to taking waitress job in Brooklyn diner with acerbic coworker and moving in with same. The show comes from Sex and the City creator Michael Patrick King and stand-up comedian Whitney Cummings, and it's... just not very good. It's disappointing, and somewhat bewildering, to see a talented group of writers and performers produce something so mediocre, but the worst part of it is the hints and glimmers of a better show that are peeking in around the edges. It might end up there, but I don't think I'm going to keep watching and waiting for something that may not happen.

On the drama side, I've added a couple of shows to the rotation. Person of Interest is not quite sci-fi, though it comes from J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe, Alias) and Jonathan Nolan (writer of the screenplays for The Dark Knight and The Prestige). A very rich man was asked by the government to build a machine that can predict crimes. He built himself a way to access the machine, but the information he receives does not reveal whether the person is to be a victim or a perpetrator. He enlists an ex-CIA operative to help him investigate and prevent these crimes from occurring. So far it's a nice bit of diversion with some action thrown in. This is the kind of thing I watch when I don't want to think.

NBC is airing an American version of the British classic Prime Suspect. While not nearly as meaty or thought-provoking as the original, it is character-driven, and while Maria Bello isn't going to make anyone forget Helen Mirren's Jane Tennison, she is a good choice to play the American Jane (Timoney). I haven't made up my mind on this one yet, but I'm leaning toward sticking with it.

Tomorrow night brings the premiere of the soapy gothic drama American Horror Story on FX, from Nip/Tuck and Glee creator Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. If you watched Nip/Tuck, you know how insanely baroque it got, and that makes me hesitant. If it were solely my decision I would be inclined to skip this one, but the Mrs. says she's interested in it, so we're going to sample it and see how it goes.

Several critics have called Showtime's Homeland the best new show of the fall. An American soldier is released after years in captivity in Iraq, and a CIA analyst thinks he may have been turned by his captors, but she may not be of particularly sound mind herself. Unfortunately I don't get Showtime, so I'll have to follow my Dexter pattern of waiting until the season comes out on DVD next summer.

03 October 2011

Weather or Not

My favorite month has finally arrived, though it sure seems like it took its time getting here. October in New England is just beautiful, and if you have not had the opportunity to experience it, I hope you get to at some point.

The weather doesn't quite seem to know yet what month it's supposed to be. Just before I took the dog out this morning it started raining, and by the time we were halfway around the block it was really pouring, which made the dog reluctant to do her thing. Eventually she gave in, but it took her much longer than it usually does. The poor thing doesn't seem to realize that she's making it more difficult for herself than it needs to be. An hour or so later, as I was walking into work, the sun was out at full strength.

It was still a bit too warm today for me to wear a jacket, but over the weekend I decided that, regardless of what the weather brings, I am going to dress for the calendar, so I'm done wearing shorts for this year, at least to work. I'm going back to my regular shirts, pants, and shoes. But my shoes occupy the space under the bed, and I have more shoes than I have space, so I have to rotate the sneakers out and down into the basement, and get at least some of the loafers and lace-ups back in place; the boots can probably wait another couple of weeks.

I have a suspicion it's going to get warm one more time, so I need to be mentally prepared for that.

02 October 2011

Retro Video Unit (10/2/11)

Okay, here's a video to make up for me forgetting on Friday. It's just a lip-synch performance clip on a soundstage (thus cheaper to make), so it's not as interesting as the "Brass In Pocket" video, but this has always been one of my favorite Pretenders songs. I don't remember ever seeing this video, so I have to assume it did not get shown much.

Pretenders, "Talk of the Town"

This Week in Awesome (10/1/11)

Sorry for the unexpected lapse in posting... there was supposed to be a retro music video on Friday afternoon, and for once I was so absorbed in my work that I lost track of time. At home, I now have to share the computer more with the Mrs., who has a fair amount of school work these days.

Watch these people build a full-size model of a car out of LEGO blocks. (Jalopnik)

Borders employees get a few things off their chests about the customers in their store's final days. (HappyPlace via Consumerist) Sonewhat related: clever juxtapositions of books in store displays.

This site makes impressive poster art of graphical representations of historical stuff. One specific example: this chart showing the history of the airline industry. (Kempt)

And finally this week, one of these dogs is in trouble. See if you can figure out which one. (The Daily What)