29 February 2012

Change Partners

Speaking of public service announcements, the "one month until the Mad Men season premiere" mark slipped past me unnoticed over the weekend. To atone for this oversight, here's a fun little chart put together by Wired that details all the show's sexual goings-on, including some imaginary hookups they'd like to see. At this point, we kind of needed this to keep track anyway. (The Hairpin)

28 February 2012

Privacy, Please

Public-service announcement time: those of you with Google accounts may want to read this information provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation about clearing your Google search history, because as of Thursday it will be linked to other data Google collects on you through its other products, unless you remove it by following the instructions.

27 February 2012

Perks of Blogging

This blog does not have a vast readership, so I don't get invited to fashion shows or vodka parties. But sometimes there are benefits to operating on a smaller scale.

Documenting my interest in watches led to me being contacted by a representative of Orient Watch USA. He offered to send me a watch to review, and keep. Naturally I accepted. I was given a range of models from which to choose, and my selection arrived Friday. I started wearing it Saturday, after removing some links from the bracelet so it would fit properly. I plan to wear it for at least a week, so I'll be posting a full report some time next week.

25 February 2012

This Week in Awesome (2/25/12)

I skipped TWiA last weekend because I didn't have anything good to share. But things are better now:

Check out this collection of large-scale photos using groups of people. (Colossal via The Hairpin)

Have you ever seen the Patrick Swayze movie Road House? It's hilariously awful. Here's a sample. (The Daily What via Videogum)

Build your kids bunk beds like this and score some major cool-parent points. (Instructables via Autoblog)

Here's another craft project that has nothing to do with kids. (The Awl via BoingBoing)

And finally this week, an enterprising college student started a service offering other students rides home after their one-night stands. That's amusing enough, but then she went and made an ad for it. We have definitely not heard the last from her, of this I am sure. (Jalopnik)

24 February 2012

Retro Video Unit (2/24/12)

Sometimes I get inspiration for these posts by looking through the artists and songs in my iTunes library. Today that led me to the title track from Kraftwerk's 1977 album Trans Europe Express.

This black-and-white clip predates the official music video era, but it's no surprise that the German electronic-music pioneers were creating visual accompaniments to their songs before most everyone else, as they were ahead of their time in pretty much every other way as well.

Remastered versions of the band's albums were reissued in 2009; I have this album and Autobahn, and they are well worth acquiring. Careful listening reveals how their influence has echoed through the ensuing decades in many different corners of music. In the most obvious example, the song's signature melody was used, albeit with its pitch and tempo altered, in the 1982 funk/hip-hop milestone "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force. See for yourself:

23 February 2012

Spring Options

Spring isn't that far away (if you've spent any time outside in Boston yesterday or today, you'd be excused for thinking it had already arrived), so it's time to start thinking about some new pieces for your wardrobe.

Chambray workshirts have been back "in" for a few years now and will probably be sticking around, which is fine with me. But sometimes you want a slightly more refined look, and chambray fabrics are conveniently migrating to nicer casual shirts.

Lands' End has adapted the style to a sport shirt with a button-down collar and a single chest pocket in both solids and stripes, but to me it doesn't look right. At the opposite end of the casual-dressy continuum, you can find tailored dress shirts with cutaway collars in chambray fabrics, but these aren't as useful for everyday dressing and are probably best left to someone with a very specific, highly evolved personal style.

My favorite of what I've seen so far this spring is from L.L. Bean Signature. It has the button-down collar and single chest pocket like the LE shirt I mentioned above, but the fit is going to be a bit trimmer than those. Also, the pocket has a buttoned flap, a nice little detail which gives it a bit more panache. LLBS has been using this detail on its shirts (of which I have three) since the line started up a couple of years ago, so it feels like it belongs here. It also references trad mainstay J. Press, which has been offering oxford shirts with a flapped pocket for decades. Add a wool or knit tie and a corduroy or tweed jacket and you've got the urban professor look nailed.

21 February 2012

Subterranean Bus Stop Blues

I now know that it takes 25 minutes to get from Harvard Square to Sullivan Square on the 86 bus during the evening rush hour. That's a bit over two miles, so that means the bus was averaging about 13 miles an hour. Yay.

Also, I didn't know that the stop for the 86 had been moved from in front of the Johnson gate at Harvard Yard (where the 1 bus picks up) to the underground busway attached to the Harvard T station, so I spent about 15 minutes waiting for a bus that the MBTAInfo site said was due in one minute. Eventually I noticed that none of the bus route signs at the stop had 86 on them, and managed to figure out where I was supposed to be from the T's website. Can you tell I haven't spent much time in the Square lately?

20 February 2012


I hadn't intended to take today off from posting. I know it was technically a holiday, but I wasn't planning on using that as an excuse. However, the Mrs. has been diligently working on various assignments for the bulk of the weekend, which means she needs to be on the computer for long stretches of time.

I don't really care for creating posts on my iPhone, because typing on the onscreen keyboard for more than a few lines is tiring. She did purchase a small laptop back in December, but its hard drive failed after about a month, and it had to be sent to New Jersey to be repaired. It does have a decent keyboard, but I haven't used it for more than a few minutes.

As it happened, the repaired computer arrived today (why is UPS delivering on a holiday?) but we had to go out for a while, and sometimes the rest of the day just gets away from me. Even now, as I'm writing this, I should be sleeping.

This week is much less cluttered than last week, with the exception of tomorrow, so hopefully I can get back to whatever is passing for normal these days.

18 February 2012

Breaking It Down

A Proper Bostonian left this comment on my post from last night:
Um, can you please explain this one? Loafers and jeans... and a winter coat. What's the problem?
Glad you asked.  First, the shoes. This is more or less what the loafers he was wearing looked like (image borrowed from the Allen Edmonds website):

This is not a shoe I would wear, but that's fine; I know people who wear shoes like this. My first issue with these is that they are very dressy loafers. They're kind of European, and tend to go with much more dressed-up casual outfits. They aren't really meant to be worn with a suit, but sometimes people do, and if you have enough personal style to begin with, you can occasionally get away with crossing that sort of line, depending on the situation. These shoes in tan, with a summer suit and no tie, on the right person, in the right setting, would work.

The guy I saw in the T station wasn't wearing anything else dressy, which was my first problem. Wool dress pants or trim-fit pressed khakis in a darker color would be all right. Jeans are iffy. The guy's jeans were a darker blue, but they weren't the sort of really dark denim that can sometimes be dressed up. They were just jeans, and they were boot-cut, which was my next problem. The wider leg of a boot-cut jean is just too casual to wear with shoes like these, regardless of the jean's color.

On top of everything was the jacket. I tend to pick on North Face jackets because I hate clothing with logos, but also because every other person I see on the streets and subways in the winter is wearing one. It's the lowest-common-denominator winter outerwear for people who don't care about clothes and just want to be warm, or people who want to project an image of being outdoorsy. And no one has any business wearing dressy shoes with such a jacket.

People who care about style always say details matter, and it's absolutely true. What people sometimes tend to forget or overlook is that the details matter both on their own, and in the context of the entirety of what you are wearing. You have to think about how everything is going to look when combined into an outfit. That's why this guy caught my eye, and that's what really bothered me about his outfit.

There are several outerwear choices that would have looked fine with these shoes, and might have allowed me to overlook the jeans: a peacoat; a traditional wool overcoat, in knee or 3/4 length; a trench coat; a hip-length leather coat; even a Barbour, which is borderline but I think could have worked if it was navy or black. Most of those lean toward the dressier side of the outerwear spectrum, and that's the key. You can't combine something dressy (in this case, the shoes) with something as overtly casual, technical, or sporting as a fleece or soft shell, regardless of what brand it is.

You want to wear your North Face? Fine, wear your hiking shoes with it. You want to wear those fancy bit loafers? Fine, get a nicer coat. You want to wear boot-cut jeans? Fine, get some boots. Details matter.

17 February 2012

Remember Me?

It was pretty much the kind of week I expected it to be, but now here we are at the long weekend.

On my way home this evening, I noticed a guy in the subway station wearing a gray North Face jacket, boot-cut jeans, and a pair of black bit loafers—you know, the kind that have little metal decorative things on them. I'm not sure what sort of look he was aiming for, but whatever it was, he missed.

15 February 2012

Geek Tragic

For the iPad user who can't sit still, there is now a wearable iPad desk/carrier thing. Can't wait until I see someone wearing/using one of these on the T.

13 February 2012

This Week

This is a tough week for me: due to the upcoming long weekend my monthly deadline falls earlier (I need to have things squared away by Friday), plus I have several other items that will take up chunks of my time. As such I don't have a high degree of confidence about my availability.

As I've done in similar past situations, I'm going to offer some suggested reading. Today there's an interesting article in the New York Times about the current state of television in Russia.

12 February 2012

This Week in Awesome (2/11/12)

Snow? What snow? It's supposed to approach 50 again on Wednesday. The Winter That Wasn't...

Well-known dance moves from movies and TV in poster form. (I Watch Stuff via Videogum)

A dog-sized exercise wheel. (The Daily What)

I read about this video Chipotle had made to promote their sustainable farming efforts. The message is delivered in a distinctive style, and the Willie Nelson version of Coldplay's "The Scientist" is pretty cool too. (New York Times)

Video footage of a 1979 Clash concert in New York synced up to independently recorded audio of the same show. Unfortunately this isn't a whole song but rather only excerpts of a few songs, but it's still amazing to experience the band in its prime. (Dangerous Minds via Kempt)

And finally this week, Canada's Virgin Radio is sponsoring a Fake Film Festival in which entrants recreate a favorite movie in 60 seconds. One notable entry is this unconventional take on the dark drug-addiction story Requiem For A Dream. (The Daily What via Filmdrunk)

10 February 2012

Retro Video Unit (2/10/12)

Sometimes the video I have in mind for a given week isn't the video I end up posting. This time around I was hoping to find "Discovering Japan" by Graham Parker. I didn't find an official video for that song, but I did find "Local Girls" from the same album, and that led to this Rockpile cover of Elvis Costello's "Girls Talk."

Pass the Cheese

There are always bits of pop culture flotsam that slip by in their moments. It's impossible to keep track of everything, even today with the info overload available via the internet. Back in the 1980s it was even more difficult.

During that decade I was a college student and then a young college grad, trying to get by while figuring out what I might want to do with my life. My energy and free time were largely focused on music, and I spent very little time watching television. In college we mainly watched late-night stuff like David Letterman and Twilight Zone reruns, so I was largely unaware of what was going on in prime time.

From our vantage point here in 2012, we know that the 1980s will not be remembered as one of the great eras of prim-time television anyway. But being otherwise occupied meant that I was missing out on some of the egregiously, hilariously bad stuff too, stuff that's worth knowing about precisely because of its awfulness.

One night a couple of weeks ago, I was flipping through the channels (something I rarely do) when I came across an episode of the craptastic 1980s cop show T.J. Hooker. As is often the case with things of this nature, I could not look away (or, in this case, change the channel). Within five minutes I was howling with laughter at the dialogue, which involved a female detective who was secretly using cocaine while trying to solve a series of murders (and what a very 1980s plot that is).

I've watched a few more episodes since, though I don't want to make a habit of it because I'm slightly afraid my brain will cease functioning altogether. It's difficult to watch even a couple of minutes of a T.J. Hooker episode and accept the notion that actual adults were paid to write them. I'm imagining a much more plausible scenario, in which a bunch of eighth-grade boys were rounded up, sent to live in a house stocked with Hostess snack cakes and a swimming pool filled with Mountain Dew, and told to write a cop show. Or it could have been the proverbial bunch of monkeys with typewriters. Regardless, it has to be a contender for worst TV series of all time.

It is also not very surprising to learn that the man who created T.J. Hooker went on to grace the world with Walker, Texas Ranger.

09 February 2012

Treat Yourself

Last week I mentioned a reference to the show Parks and Recreation. What I was really trying to find was a post I remembered seeing on a men's style blog that referenced the same episode, where Tom and Donna spend the day treating themselves (hence the expression "treat. yo. self."). But it had been a few months since it was on, and I never did locate the post, or even remember conclusively on which site I'd seen it, so I gave up.

Instead I'm going to toss up the original clip from the episode introducing the concept and the phrase (check out the cupcakes):

And by the way, the whole "treat yourself" thing reminds me of a scene from Twin Peaks: "Harry, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret..."

(And if you stop to think about it, it's pretty amazing that I was thinking of a brief scene from a TV show that aired over 20 years ago, and I was able to find that EXACT scene via the web in less than a minute. We're so spoiled...)

08 February 2012

Wait Your Turn

Oh, mankind, will you ever cease to surprise me with your behavior? Probably not...

This morning I was in the cafeteria getting coffee. You fill your cup, pay at a register, then go over to a sort of circular island where the cream and sugar live. It has a two-tier surface, with the aluminum containers of milk and cream on top, and a lower level where you can place your cup while you add your preferred fixings to your coffee.

Like most people, I add some cream to the coffee and then taste it to see how close I've gotten to getting it right, and then I usually have to add a little more, because adding too much milk or cream ruins it. (I have done this once or twice, and have had to go back into the serving area to add more coffee to my cup; the staff don't seem to mind, but it's a pain.) There's a period of a few seconds where I'm tasting the coffee, and I put the cream container next to me on the lower shelf of the island. After I'm done, I put it back on the upper shelf where others can reach it more easily.

So this morning as I'm doing this, an arm reaches across all the way from the opposite side of the island for the cream. The Unspoken But Agreed-Upon Etiquette of Self-Serve Coffee is that you wait for a person to be finished with whatever they are using before taking it to use it yourself (or, you know, ask if the other person is finished), but apparently this person was visiting from another planet where such behavior is not the case. I put my hand on the container and looked up at the guy and said, "I'm not finished with this yet."

When I was finished, I made a point of putting it back in the middle of the upper shelf instead of handing it to him, so he could understand how things are done in places where people have learned how to be patient and wait their turn.

06 February 2012

Overheard: We've All Been There Edition

[The Mrs. beat me to this by posting it on her facebook page (justifiably, as you'll see), but since our online existences don't overlap that much, I think it belongs here too:

Saturday night, in the beer aisle of one of the only Stop & Shops in MA that sells liquor (this is an antiquated notion to those of you who live in normal places where all supermarkets sell alcohol): "Remember that time I drank a case of [brand of beer, indistinct] and lit my hand on fire? Ha ha ha..."

05 February 2012

This Week in Awesome (2/4/12)

Are you ready for some football? (It's rhetorical, you aren't required to answer.)

Take a look at what goes on behind the scenes in preparation for a Super Bowl broadcast. (Deadspin)

Did you hear that story about how new Apple employees are sometimes assigned to fake projects while their trustworthiness is evaluated? Here's another look. (Joy of Tech)

Comedy nerds, take note: here's a nice breakdown in infographic form of TV actors who cross-pollinate each other's shows. (Grantland via IMDB)

And finally this week, Breaking Bad reimagined as a primitive video game. (CollegeHumor via Uproxx)

03 February 2012

Hoodie Dilemma

Of course I'm very excited about the Super Bowl, but I do have one problem: I'm conflicted about what Patriots gear I should wear. I have a few T-shirts (I prefer the throwback Pat Patriot logo to the newer "Flying Elvis") and any of them would be appropriate, but that isn't the issue.

See, I went to my first (and so far only) game at Gilette back in 2006, and while I was there I bought a red hooded sweatshirt. (The Pats' home jerseys used to be red, another throwback touch I like.) For the next year or more, I always wore it on game days. You'll recall that during the 2007 season the Patriots won all their regular-season games, so I figured the hoodie was lucky and kept wearing it.

Then came Super Bowl XLII, and Bill Belichick wore a red hooded sweatshirt instead of his usual gray or navy, and we all know what happened. (I'm pretty sure I was wearing mine that night, but I'm not 100% certain.) After that I still wore my hoodie, but not on game days. A couple of weeks ago I was going through a bin of cold-weather clothing and found the hoodie where I'd packed it last spring. I decided to wear it to watch the Ravens game, and the Patriots won.

A couple of days later, I saw a bit on TV about Belichick's red hoodie. It said that his girlfriend made sure that it got burned. That's some serious stuff, right there. And it leaves me very confused about what to do. I know my sweatshirt isn't Belichick's, but I'm afraid if I wear mine there will still be bad vibes.

You know, I'm pretty sure I still have my championship T-shirt from the Pats' first Super Bowl win ten years ago. That's probably what I should wear.

01 February 2012


It was such a nice day I decided to take a walk and get some ice cream after lunch.

TREAT. YO. SELF. (Parks And Recreation reference; I'll try to find it later...)