Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My New Year's Eco-Resolutions

I think New Year's resolutions are stupid. No one ever keeps them, and they just make you feel guilty.

Having said that, here are my environmentally-focused resolutions:

Eat less meat. While I feel little to no ethical concern regarding eating meat (at least not on a 'All life is sacred' sort of level), I do believe that the way farm animals are raised in our country is both unnecessarily cruel to the animals and harmful to our environment. Although I'm not quite ready to go vegetarian, I think I can cut back further than I already have. That means you all have to provide me with good, easy vegetarian recipes. Hop to it!

Take shorter showers. These are things I often do in the shower: dance, sing, stand, think, and stretch. None of them are really essential activities at that time. I'm going to try and keep focused on the task of cleaning myself so as to not waste water and the energy necessary to heat the water.

Buy carbon offsets for my air travel (once I can afford them.) I don't fly that often, but when I do, I want to start accounting for it through offsets from a reliable source. I don't have the economic means yet, but when I do, I'll start working on it.

Ingest less high-fructose corn syrup. I already try to limit my intake of HFCS, but I could go further. I still drink way too much pop, and I sometimes settle for bread with HFCS. I'm going to do what I reasonably can to cut HFCS out of my diet completely.

There. Maybe now that I've written this down on the Internet, I'll feel more compelled to keep with it. Let's hope. Have a great new year!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Best of '08 - Singles Edition (Pt. 2)

Kicking off the second half of the list, we have:

American Boy by Estelle ft. Kanye West (from Shine)

This song should have been a lot bigger than it was. It made it to just #9 on the U.S. singles chart, despite kicking all kinds of ass. Example: the beat is AMAZING. I love the way it builds during the verses before the full-on whoomp-whoomp-whoomp action in the chorus. Estelle's delivery is light, fun, and sexy, and Kanye delivers what may be his last great pre-Autotune verse. Instant classic.

Hearts on Fire by Cut Copy (from In Ghost Colours)

Cut Copy are my Band of the Year. I always say that if New Order stayed good instead of making crappy songs with members of the Scissor Sisters, they would sound like Cut Copy. I had a hard time choosing between Lights and Music and this song for the list, but I chose Hearts on Fire for a few minor reasons. First of all, the verses feel more urgent, and the lead-up to the chorus with the "Woo!" and "Oh-oh-oh!" is fantastic. Also, saxophone in a dance song? Awesome. Also, while "With heart on fire, I reach out to you tonight" should sound really lame, it somehow comes off entirely sincere.

Where Do You Run To by Vivian Girls (from Vivian Girls)

I have a hard time explaining why I like Vivian Girls so much. "See, you can't really understand the vocals that well, and the whole thing sounds kind of muddy, and they harmonize and it sounds nice." In a more slickly produced form, this song could have appeared on Liz Phair's Exile on Guyville. (And that's totally a compliment.) I think the main appeal for me is that it feels so classic - get in, ask where your love went to, get out in 3 minutes or so.

The Rip by Portishead (from Third)

Although most of the year-end lists are opting for Machine Gun, I found The Rip to be a much greater song. We start with just the vulnerability of Beth Gibbons' beautiful, dramatic vocals before the electronics wash over the song, taking it to a new level. And where Machine Gun was alienating and startling, The Rip is almost comforting and hopeful, with the refrain of "White horses/they will take me away." I love the harsher Portishead stuff, but I appreciate the occasional glimpse into their more emotional side, which is why this song made the list. (Note: Sadly, The Rip is not available on Imeem, so I've substituted We Carry On, my favorite non-single from Third.)

Blind by Hercules & Love Affair (from Hercules & Love Affair)

I never quite hopped aboard the Hercules & Love Affair train - Antony has never really done it for me (Yes, he sounds like Nina Simone - I'll still take Nina Simone), and I found some of the album quite boring. But Blind is anything but boring with its insistent disco beat and introspective vocals from Antony, who totally sells the song. In fact, it succeeds for the same reason that Nina Simone remixes so often do. The voice is so unexpected for the style of music that it ends up adding another layer to the song; you can dance your ass off, but you'll enjoy it just as much on headphones. I can only hope that if Hercules & Love Affair make another album, it sounds more like this and less like some of the mid-tempo clunkers from their full-length.

And there you have it! My Top Ten of 2008. You can stream them on the player below, which will also become my new In Heavy Rotation sidebar. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 22, 2008

The Best of '08 - Singles Edition

So maybe I'm just inspired by a recent re-reading of High Fidelity, but I felt compelled this year to write up my favorite singles of the year. (Besides, I have a blog and it's the end of the year - isn't it sort of an obligation?) I'll give you my first five today and five more tomorrow. They're in no particular order, because I mean, really, it was hard enough to come up with just ten to begin with. So, without further ado, let's begin with...

Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno (from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

When I saw David Byrne in October, he opened with this song about songwriting, setting the tone quite nicely. Although much of the other material from ETHWHT is more sedate, the syncopated rhythms and transcendent chorus of this song give it the feel of a calmer, more mature Talking Heads track. There are both good and bad things about that, but it's good to see the pair still progressing when they could easily be treading water without catching too much flak.

Disturbia by Rihanna (from Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded)

As Rihanna sings "I'm going crazy" in the intro to this song, one imagines that she's going to be going crazy for her man, or perhaps going crazy because he left. No, in fact, she's actually having a bit of a mental breakdown. For a pop song, the description of Rihanna's impending insanity is actually somewhat harrowing. (I mean, it's no Velvet Underground track, but it's not trying to be.) And despite all this, it's still a fantastic dance song. Where someone like Beyonce would run this shit into the ground, Rihanna sounds just frightened enough without ever losing the hook.

On the Train by Theatre of Disco (from Theatre of Disco EP)

This is the one "what?" entry I'm allowing myself on this list, but I swear I'm not being deliberately obscure. I just love this song. The lyrics are mostly unintelligible until the chorus, at which point the singer informs us of a key fact: "Everybody on the train got herpes/they've got STDs on the (unclear. In my head, I sing Burpee's, but that's a seed company)" Oh dear. If you don't giggle upon hearing that for the first time, then you probably won't come around to this one, but if juvenile lyrics and a killer beat appeal to you, give this a try.

Crimewave by Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH (from Crystal Castles)

I'll admit that I've never heard the original version of this song, but I don't think I need to. I've described it before as The Knife meets Ladytron (I forgot to add "meets Atari"), but I don't think that quite captures it. The altered vocals, the video game noises, the repetition, the minimal-but-awesome beat; they all show that when Crystal Castles are on their game, there isn't much one can compare them to. (Too bad they aren't on their game more often.) OR I might just have a thing for indecipherable vocals.

Ready for the Floor by Hot Chip (from Made in the Dark)

This song created the following exchange when I was out dancing with a friend, months after this song came out:

Hot Chip: Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it now...
Friend: Oh, fine.

I am so into this song. STILL. According to my account, this has been my most-played song in the past 12 months. This is surprising, given my initial ambivalence about the song. I mean, coming off of a song like "Over and Over," I had pretty high expectations for Hot Chip, and I felt almost betrayed. Where were the guitars, the kickass beats? Fortunately, I continued to give the song a chance, and I'm glad I did, because it shows something that Hot Chip lacked on their first album: sweetness. Hot Chip just wants to dance with you, and hey, you're even their number one guy. I know it's dorky, but if a guy were to put this on a mixtape for me, I'd consider that much more romantic than a lot of the more standard options. (It doesn't count if he reads this, though.)

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Animal Dance, Animal Dance

File this under amazing:

When one of the monkeys refused to ride on a child's bicycle in a street performance in Sizhou, in eastern China, their owner beat it with a stick.

Although they were tied to the man with ropes attached to their collars, the monkeys appear to have decided to fight back.

The two animals came to the defence of the third monkey, grabbing the stick from the man, pulling on his ear and biting his head.

When he dropped his cane, on monkey snatched it up and began beating the trainer on the head until he broke the stick, witnesses said.

Fight the power, monkeys!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Take Your Money

So, apparently, "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. became a big hit and I never noticed it until recently. (The same thing happened with Twilight - where the hell did that come from?) This confuses me. It's not that I don't like the song; it's quite good. But I never really pictured it as M.I.A.'s breakthrough hit. I mean, it went to #4 on the US charts, and now it's up for Record of the Year at the Grammys. I don't get how this happened.

My consternation has many sources. First off, this song is old. It was released as a single pretty early this year, all the "hip" folks went nuts, and then it sort of went away. Apparently, it entered the mainstream upon being featured in the trailer for Pineapple Express, gradually climbing the charts. It's not the first song to experience delayed success, so this isn't really the main cause of my confusion.

Bigger cause of confusion: Musically, this song is weird. Not super-weird, but for mainstream radio? Weird. It's way repetitive, M.I.A. seems stuck somewhere between singing and rapping, and the chorus? It is made of gunshots. Lyrically, the song's popularity is even more confounding. M.I.A. goes all Randy Newman on us and attacks Americans for our assumptions about foreigners by acting like we're right. This is where I get truly concerned, as I assume that most people ignore the lyrics in favor of the nifty beat and the novelty of the gunshots. I can't decide if this means M.I.A. wins (she gets our money and our love while totally subverting us) or loses (her message gets totally lost on the deaf American ears she's mocking.) But mostly, I'm just confused how I managed to be entirely unaware of this until now. I need to get back onto the pop culture bandwagon once I'm done with this blasted graduate degree.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Grease is the Turd

Yesterday, I acquired a ticket to see a live performance of the current touring production of Grease when the previous holder of said ticket fell ill. Although I was reluctant to go, I was in fact quite a fan of the movie in my middle school years, so I figured it couldn't be all bad. I was wrong. It was. Here are all the things that suck about seeing Grease on stage.

1.) The plot. There is no plot to Grease. Here is what happens:

Act I - They hang out and sing.
Act II - There is a dance. They hang out and sing. Rizzo is pregnant. Wait, five minutes later, it turns out she's not. Sandy changes everything she is to satisfy Danny and all is resolved.

That's right, little teenage girls who are the target audience: Do what you have to so you can get with the school asshole. AT ALL COSTS.

2.) The characters. Here's where Grease benefits from having such a popular movie version, where the characters are at least moderately well-drawn. In the stage version, they can be identified by one or more of the following characteristics: dumb; fat; slutty; mean; horrific. When people see Danny and Sandy on stage, they see John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. They have to, or else they'd have nothing to go on.

3.) The music. I have fond memories of several songs from Grease. These songs have been incorporated from the movie version into the musical to make it more like the movie. The songs that were already there? They (mostly) suck. They're sung by minor characters who have little bearing on the tiny amount of plot actually present, and they have nothing to do with the show. They don't progress the story in any way, and frankly, they're just not very good. Sure, songs like "Summer Nights" and "Greased Lightning" are fun, but they're practically rote at this point.

And here's something that made this performance of Grease uniquely horrible:

Taylor Hicks. Taylor Hicks, winner of the fifth season of American Idol, played the role of Teen Angel (the guy who sings "Beauty School Dropout") and boy, was it a hot damn mess. Yes, he sings well. HOWEVER, they extended his scene as long as possible, resulting in extreme awkwardness; Frenchie even said, "I voted for you!" at one point. Sorry, but I reject the anachronism. He also did a harmonica solo during the song, which was bizarre.

But just when you think you're done with Taylor, the curtain call happens, and he launches into a few bars of "Grease" before the cast does a medley of all of the most memorable songs from the show. Yeah, the ones they just sang in their complete forms. You get to hear them again. While they do this, Taylor more or less wanders around the stage, looking mostly lost, unable even to hand jive. At that moment, I felt just as lost as him.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Who's on first? Yogurt is!

So, keeping in the trend of me informing you about things I like when I discover them, which usually 3-4 months after their heyday, I'm going to tell you about the awesomeness that is Sarah Haskins, host of the "Target Women" segment on Current TV.

Birth Control

Each of her 3-4 minute segments discusses the absurd, generally patronizing way media reaches out to women. BUT, instead of coming off all Camille Paglia, she's funny! I totally want to be her friend.


I don't have too much to say about these beyond, "Watch these! They're hilar." So yeah. Here you go. Watch these, and more!

Chick Flicks

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Fashion Isn't Always Pretty

Have you gone into withdrawal since the conclusion of Project Runway? Are you craving more? Well, here's some fantastic news: Project Runway Canada is coming back in January! For those of you who didn't see the first season, HOLY CRAP DID YOU MISS OUT. First of all, PRC is hosted by Iman (David Bowie's wife!!), and while I love Heidi, Iman's crazy ass makes for much better TV. She yells at contestants, seems very above it all, and most importantly, looks fabulous the entire time. Also, the producers seem to have an eye for casting; the first season had some of the most interesting contestants to grace any Project Runway. Who can forget Biddell's awfulness? Or Lucien's bizarre cryfest with one of the judges during the finale? Plus, Stephen? He may have kind of sucked, but he was awesome.

The entire series used to be available on YouTube, but it sadly seems to have been taken down. You could probably still torrent it or something. Let's hope that us Americans have some sort of way to view it come January.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I'll Stop the World

Photo: Red Cross of Argentina

Here's an interesting global warming awareness campaign from the Red Cross of Argentina: melting people! These people hand out fliers and such that urge climate-friendly activities and choices. I think this is awesome - it's an attention-getting conversation piece and plus, that guy is waaaaaaay cute. I def don't want him to melt.

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Monday, December 1, 2008


Here's another addition to the "Brian-Manages-To-Date-Some-Really-Weird-People" file:

Someone I dated for a few months last year messaged me on MySpace as though he doesn't know me, even referring to himself as a stranger.

I mean, really? I think it's time to get rid of my MySpace profile.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

30 Rocks

Have you been watching 30 Rock like I keep telling you to? You should be. The third season has been great so far. Even Sesame Street is getting in on the act:

The character spoofs are soooo spot-on.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

R. E. Why?

This weekend, for the first time in my life, I went to an REI (which apparently stands for Recreational Systems, Inc.) It was awful. Here's why.

1.) It was so big. I got lost TWICE while I was there.

2.) The employee uniforms are beyond ugly. Seriously, what's with the Home Improvement vests?

3.) Greenwashing. Big box stores do not get to claim environmental responsibility. Sure, some effort is better than none, but I know an easy way to reduce your emissions, REI - build smaller stores.

4.) Too outdoorsy! I care about nature and all, but I'm a city person through and through, so being surrounded by tents and snowboards was alarming.

5.) Too expensive! If I'm spending $100 on a vest, that vest better be made out of elephant or some shit.

6.) So suburbanite. To quote Liz Lemon, "I haven't seen this many white people in tuxedos since the Titanic." (Substitute "North Face" for "tuxedos.")

In conclusion, I hated it. I also managed to swallow my convictions for long enough to spend $15 on a travel mug, so yeah, I'm pretty lame to bitch about all of this. Damn my lack of willpower!

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Biden!

This is too damn cute.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vindictive Much?

I have to share a point of personal triumph I experienced today. I was flipping through our substandard student newspaper and came across this article, which tells of a lecturer here at U of M, Lawrence Greene, quitting for the rest of the term after some severe ethics allegations came out against him:

The Monday WXYZ news segment reported that Greene cashed his deceased parents' pension checks and featured interviews with nine former clients of Greene's who alleged that he collected thousands of dollars from them and failed to do the work for which he was paid.

Here's some backstory for I'm rejoicing in this. I took a class about the American court system with Lawrence Greene during my undergrad years, and it was by far the worst course I ever took. He was an awful lecturer who stood at the front of the class reciting dates that we should know without giving us any sort of insight into the cases he was telling us about. Halfway through the term, I stopped going. (Not my best option, I realize, but mean, I was 19.) During this time, he changed the date of the final without sending an e-mail or anything to the rest of the class. I showed up on the original date of the final and was all "uhhhhh..." before learning the final was already due. I was able to turn it in late, but I still got a B-, which is the worst grade I've ever received.

In conclusion, HA HA HA, Larry Greene. I always knew you were an awful person, and now my formerly irrational feelings of intense dislike feel justified. Can I petition to get my grade changed now?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Nevertheless, She Was a Mess

Dear blog readers,

I know there are only maybe 2.5 of you, but I just wanted to apologize for the infrequency of my blogging as of late. Between a pickup in schoolwork and a sudden influx of friends visiting town, I've been unable to devote as much time writing about nothing as I would like to. I'll try to get back on the horse soon.


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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pork the Pain Away

So yesterday, when I should have been doing schoolwork, I instead began watching Muppet-related YouTube videos with a friend of mine. (This is a more common occurrence for us than one would think.) We stumbled across this gem, in which someone set clips of Miss Piggy to "Fuck the Pain Away" by Peaches. Even for non-Muppet fans, this should be enjoyable. (Although that's coming from quite the Muppet fan, so I'm not really the most unbiased source.)

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Abundance of Greenery

I have a strange sort of problem.

I have too much bok choy.

A friend and I were cooking together on Saturday and purchased a mind-bogglingly enormous head of bok choy at the local farmer's market for a mere $2. It made a delicious addition to our stir fry, but even after using a lot of it for that purpose, I still have plenty left. Any suggestions for what to do with it all?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Some Morning-After Thoughts

I don't need to tell anyone how big of a deal it is that we elected Barack Obama our president last night. Instead, if you'll bear with me, I'm going to engage in some sentimentalism about my own feelings about this election. It may even cross over into maudlin territory at times. Consider yourself warned.

I wasn't on the Barack Obama love train at first. I'm still not ashamed to say that I supported Hillary in the primaries, mainly because I felt that at the time, Obama hadn't really solidified what he meant when he said "change." I think the long primary season actually forced him to hammer down that message, and as we entered the general election, he was a much stronger candidate because of it. Feeling more comfortable that I had a sense of what an Obama presidency would look like, I finally allowed myself to get swept up in the amazing speeches and the excitement of what could really get done if we made this man our president. Shit, I even gave him $25. (That's hard for a grad student!)

So, like so many people did last night, once Barack finished speaking, I cried. (But only a little.) I cried because for the first time in my adult life, I would have a president I could feel confident in. I cried to release all the stress I had put myself through while worrying about the prospect of a McCain presidency. I cried out of joy. But I think I cried mostly because I had convinced myself it couldn't happen. I had told myself that America was too racist to elect any non-white person president, and I thought they wouldn't be able to go through with it, despite all the favorable polling. Hell, if you had told me 4 years ago that in 4 years, we would have a black president, I would have told you that we'd be lucky to have one in 40 years. My mother, born in 1949, thought until recently she would never see a black president. So as it sunk in for me that he had actually won, and by such a large margin, I cried out of extreme satisfaction to know that I was wrong.

Now, that's not to say we've eliminated the racial problems we have in this country, and it's not to say that I'm always going to agree with the decisions Obama makes as president. I'd like to think that I'm going to be able to maintain objectivity as his administration moves forward and truly assess whether he's making the right decisions. But for now, I'm content to revel in this amazing moment.

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Barack Obama FTW

Holy shit.

It actually happened.

I can't stop grinning.

More tomorrow.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's About Damn Time


It's finally Election Day.

Why I need this day to be over:

Stress-eating - I have been a cow this past week. The more fried or chocolatey something is, the better. Once I know the outcome today, I can go back to drinking my stress away.

Nightmares - I actually had a nightmare last night that Minnesota went red. Of all places! I need to not be subconsciously fretting about this election.

Productivity - Who can do homework when there are so many stupid blogs and news stories to read?

ARGH. I'll be back tomorrow to gloat (if this day ever ends, anyway.)

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Saturday, November 1, 2008


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Friday, October 31, 2008

Spooky, Scary!

In honor of Halloween, here's the full version of "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah," Tracy Jordan's famous novelty hit. Ignore if you're lame and don't get 30 Rock references.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Patience of Ordinary Things

Since we could all stand to relax a little bit during all the election wackiness, here's a lovely little poem I heard on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.

The Patience of Ordinary Things
by Pat Schneider

It is a kind of love, is it not?
How the cup holds the tea,
How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
How the floor receives the bottoms of shoes
Or toes. How soles of feet know
Where they're supposed to be.
I've been thinking about the patience
Of ordinary things, how clothes
Wait respectfully in closets
And soap dries quietly in the dish,
And towels drink the wet
From the skin of the back.
And the lovely repetition of stairs.
And what is more generous than a window?

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pollsters on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

Here's an interesting New York Times article about the polling websites that so many of us have been checking constantly. You may remember my obsession with - well, some of the other pollsters go after the site's founder here, and I don't know enough about these sorts of things to accurately assess their claims. I just like seeing people get mad at each other.

Anyway, this all needs to end. Like, now. I can't take the stress anymore.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Byrne Baby Byrne

On Friday, I was fortunate enough to see David Byrne perform at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. I'm far from unbiased on the awesomeness that is David Byrne; whenever forced to choose a favorite band, I go for Talking Heads, and I consider some of his solo work (The Catherine Wheel, Music from the Knee Plays) to be just as strong as the best TH stuff. Additionally, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, his recent collaboration with Brian Eno, has been in heavy rotation for me since its release. Needless to say, I was pumped.

David did not disappoint me. At this point in his career, Byrne could easily become complacent and just roll out the hits each time he performs, but instead, he continues to reimagine and reinterpret songs from throughout his extensive catalog. A personal highlight for me was the unexpected "My Big Hands (Fall Through the Cracks)" from The Catherine Wheel, which has been my favorite DB solo song for some time. His interpretation of "Help Me Somebody" from My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was fascinating and downright avant-garde. The original recording features the sampled vocals of a raving preacher, but Byrne decided to recreate the vocals himself; his channeling was fascinating and almost unnerving. Additionally, underappreciated TH gems like "Air" and "I Zimbra" were awesome to see live.

Of course, the show wasn't all obscurity. Classics such as "Burning Down the House" and "Once in a Lifetime" were amazing, especially when one considers how many times he must have performed each of these in his life. ("Once in a Lifetime" earned him a loooong standing ovation, and the balcony literally started to shake during "Burning Down the House" due to the vehement dancing taking place.) The new material felt relatively subdued by comparison, but there were still some very strong moments, such as the campfire feel of "My Big Nurse" and the deliberate, playful "Life is Long."

I've focused on the music so far, but it's important to note that David Byrne seems to place a lot of value in putting on a show. The most obvious example is the use of three modern dancers during select songs, who provided a fascinating visual counterpoint to the music. Their strongest moment came in "Life is Long," when they, along with Byrne, spun around and moved about the stage in swivel chairs, emphasizing the song's anti-torpor message. (Although one of them jumped over Byrne's head during "Once in a Lifetime," and that was pretty amazing too.) One of my fellow concertgoers found the dancers distracting, but Byrne himself danced about the stage in his awkward, wonderful way, showing that he still gets into his music after all these years.

Anyway, I could gush on and on, I'm sure, but you get the point by now. David Byrne is awesome. He puts on an awesome show. Spend any amount of money you must in order to see him.

P.S. For another blogger's perspective on the show, including a full setlist, check out The Lone Microphone.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Letting the Days Go By

I'm seeing David Byrne in concert tonight. FUCK YES. To commemorate this, here's a fantastic video of Kermit the Frog singing "Once in a Lifetime." Full concert report on Monday.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Long, and Thanks For All the Herpes

Apparently, if you live in a major metropolitan area, you can now send your hook-ups an e-card to inform them that you may have given them an STD. Yes, thanks to, you can anonymously send far-too-witty notices to your casual sex partners that you have the herp and that they should probably look into that.

I'm of two minds on this. On the plus side, the anonymous nature of this may lead some people who would not otherwise notify their partners to take action. Also, recipients of the cards receive instructions on how to get tested. However, it's all a bit too flip for me. Example: "I got screwed while screwing, you might have too." Not only should that comma be a semicolon, but it's a really strange way to break that sort of news. "Hey, guess what? You might have an STD! LOLOLOL! No, but really, go get tested."


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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Petals FTW

Here's how the next few weeks are going to work here at A&OF. Today, I'm just going to give some quick thoughts about the Project Runway finale, but each Thursday after this, I'm going to give a look-by-look assessment of each collection. Why am I doing this? Because I know no one reads my blog except when it's about Project Runway, so I'm going to stretch this shit out and milk it for all I can. Anyway.

Yay Leanne! Overall, I loved her collection, although I wish there had been a bit more variety of color to it (which is where Korto excelled). The "petals" moved beautifully on the runway, and although Korto's collection was probably more marketable, Leanne's was definitely more high-fashion. Once Kenley was out, I was happy either way, but I was ever-so-slightly pulling for Leanne, so congratulations to her.

Again, you'll get more of my thoughts in the coming weeks, but I want to share with you an absolutely terrifying comment left by someone on Bravo's official site:

Tim Gunn has impecable manners and shows great restraint. Kenley has been soooooo rude!!! her defensive attitude is tiresome and Tim gracefully listens to her tirades!!!

she should be glad Hannibal Lector is a fictional character - he knew what to do with rudeness and lack of manners!!!!

Shit, I hate Kenley too, but I never wished for her to get eaten.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Tina Fey is Saving America

We all love Tina Fey's note-perfect impersonation of Sarah Palin. Enough words have been written about how wonderful and spot-on the impression is, so I can't add much but agreement on that front. Instead, I'd like to point something else out to you: Tina Fey is saving us all.

Take a look at this graph of presidential polling. (Click for bigger, natch.) The first Sarah Palin SNL sketch happened on Sept. 13. At this point, McCain was still up by a couple points. In the polling days following the sketch, Obama went from a 47-45 deficit to a 49-44 lead. His lead began to shrink again, but following the Sept. 27 Katie Couric interview sketch, Obama's numbers began to rise again (and McCain's began to fall more drastically.) And then, in the days after the Oct. 4 VP debate sketch, Obama broke 50% for the first time. Clearly, Tina Fey has (nearly) rescued the American people from the horribleness of a McCain/Palin administration.

Now, a critic of mine might say, "But Brian, correlation doesn't equal causation. Plus, a lot of other stuff has been going on. The economic crisis is obviously going to benefit the party not in power, and McCain's been doing just about everything he can to tank his campaign. Besides, the audience for SNL is primarily younger, who are already more in favor of Obama. Isn't SNL just preaching to the choir?"

To that person, I would say, "Shut your face. Tina Fey is an American hero and I want to marry her. We should all watch 30 Rock when it premieres on Oct. 30 at 9:30 on NBC to show her how thankful we are. That's Oct. 30, 9:30, NBC. You can also watch it on and Anyway, she's amazing."

God bless Tina Fey.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Penultimate Edition

Much like Bravo has given up on this show, I'm having trouble getting sufficiently worked up to write. But here we go.

Challenge: Go home and design a collection of 10 looks. One of them must be a wedding dress. Upon returning to New York, the designers were surprised with an additional challenge - create a bridesmaid dress to go with your dress.

I'd like to start by saying that I know the Internet's in a big tizzy about how "unfair" these challenges were, but I'm not too perturbed by it all. Maybe it's just the huge amount of reality TV I've consumed in my lifetime, but this is nowhere near the most unfair twist I've ever witnessed. Besides that, even if the challenge had been similar to last season, when Chris and Rami each showed three of their looks, Jerell would still be out. (Find the collections online if you don't believe me.) ANYWAY.

(Note: You may see that the pictures are especially awful this week. This is Bravo's fault, as this is all they're providing for each dress. So I apologize in advance that you can hardly see the dresses in most of these.)


You'll have to take my word for it, but these were gorgeous. I loved the way Leanne interpreted waves in these looks (especially the bustline on the bridesmaid dress. Fantastic.) I love the color for each, and the flowing sensation when they moved was really neat. Out of all the looks, these are the only dresses I can actually imagine being worn at a real wedding. They're youthful, chic, and interesting. I'm excited for her to win next week.


I hate to admit it, but Kenley totally earned her spot in the finals on this one. The wedding dress was fanciful and fun, and while it was a bit too much, it was very Kenley and extremely well-made. (Although it is remarkably similar to the McQueen dress Michael Kors made reference to.) The bridesmaid dress is also very cute, although it doesn't seem too bridesmaidish to me. It's a little bit too "night on the town," in my opinion, but still well done and quite flattering. It pains me to say it, but Kenley absolutely deserved to go on instead of Jerell.


So these? Are not so good. I don't know what it is with Korto in these last few challenges, but her cute, modern, voluminous style has been turned into a drab mess. The wedding gown wasn't quite as horrible as the first pic makes it look, but it was still pretty bad. It was extremely overworked with way too much going on. The bridesmaid dress was better but still not very impressive. Korto does well with simplicity, which I hope shines through in her collection. She can still win this, but she needs to not show these dresses in the tent.


As not-so-great as Korto's output may have been, Jerell's creations (especially the wedding dress) were absolute monstrosities. It looks like he used tissue paper to create each, with all those wrinkles and crinkles. The gray tulle does look dirty, and that ripped-open, bejeweled bust area on the wedding dress is just atrocious. It looks like her boobs are wielding spears. The bridesmaid dress is slightly better, but still a total mess. And as always, Jerell has no idea how to style his models and put a damn bouquet on the "bride's" head. (I'm trying to find a Brideshead Revisited joke here, but no luck.) Sorry to Jerell, but he's just not at the same talent level as the other three ladies.

Next Week: Finale! Leanne wins! Hooray!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I know we're in the middle of an election and all, but there's a new, way more important tyranny threatening Americans, and that's VH1 Love Shows. Now, dear blog reader, you're probably saying, "Why Brian, these have been around for years." It's true. And you know, I'll be the first to admit that Flavor of Love was one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I can even stomach the idea of Rock of Love, even though I kind of hate it.

No, the problem here is a surfeit of spin-offs. First we had I Love New York, in which the crazy lady from Flavor of Love got to have her own dating show. (She now has New York Goes to Hollywood.) I Love Money, a challenge show starring cast members from each of the series, just wrapped up. And now, perhaps most egregiously, comes Real Chance of Love.

Sorry if that image made you spontaneously vom. Real and Chance are two brothers who originally appeared on I Love New York and hung around for I Love Money. Now they get their own nonsensically-titled show? THIS MADNESS MUST END. I mean, for God's sake, this will be the spin-off of a spin-off. Sure, that worked for Good Times, but at least they were likable (and fictional). These guys? Awful. And look at Real's lady weave. Ugh.

But what I think I'm most irked by is that the show shouldn't be Real Chance of Love - it should be Real Chansey of Love. Bring on the Pokemon dating shows!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And I Ask Myself: Well, How Did They Get Here?

I use Google Analytics to keep track of how many people are coming to my blog, find out where they're from, and learn other similar interesting bits of minutiae that feed my addiction to useless facts. Perhaps my favorite thing to do is find out what Google search terms people are using to get here. Here are some of the most awesome and wonderfully bizarre:

"Suede" + "hideous" - Clearly, this person has good fashion sense.
"arsenic for the face" - This is going to be the title of my line of feel-good books, a la Chicken Soup for the Soul.
"arsenic in oldface" - Is oldface like blackface? Why would arsenic be "in" it?
"mahna mahna lipsticks" - They should totally sell Mahna Mahna lipstick.
"touch me tina" - Uhh...

And my favorite:

"v. kenley tweedledum" - I have no idea why anyone was searching for this particular string of words, but I love it so much. If for some reason I am ever responsible for naming a child, I want to name it V. Kenley Tweedledum, and then I want it to get a law degree and be V. Kenley Tweedledum, Esq. That would be awesome.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

Update: In Heavy Rotation

Hey everyone - new edition of my playlist In Heavy Rotation today. Here's what's in rotation this time around:

"Sharkey's Day" by Laurie Anderson - My favorite wake-up song. "Sun's coming up - like a big bald head!"
"Ready for the Floor" by Hot Chip - If you read my blog, you're my number one guy. (Or girl, I suppose.)
"Teenage Riot" by Sonic Youth - Classic. (And cliched at this point, I realize.)
"Nobody Lost Nobody Found" by Cut Copy - If New Order's newest stuff didn't suck, it would sound like this.
"Sinnerman" by Nina Simone - If you sin, you're going to hell.
"Satan Said Dance" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - But thankfully, in hell, all you do is dance.
"Running Up That Hill" by Kate Bush - Ask me about my theory that this is about strap-on sex.
"Naked Eye" by Luscious Jackson - Fun!
"I Always Say Yes" by Glass Candy - I want a tight t-shirt that says "I Always Say Yes." Someone make it happen.
"Atmosphere" by Joy Division - Now we all cry.


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Seriously, I Can't Handle This Anymore

Dear Michigan,

Please, pick a season and stay there. I can't deal with this roller coaster ride.


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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Everybody Wins (or: We All Lose)

Only a couple weeks left of this.

Challenge: Design a dress with nature as your inspiration.

Since Season 3, no one has gone home at the Final 4 challenge. In Season 3, we had all 4 make it to Bryant Park, and in Season 4, Rami and Chris had to come back and compete for the third spot. Now, they're all competing to making it to Fashion Week based on their collections. So, I ask, why bother with this challenge? Why not skip it and make the collections the new Final 4 challenge?

Answer: Ad time.



Congrats to Jerell on "winning" but not really winning, since he's still eligible to be eliminated next. I like the silhouette of this dress a lot, but the red and green fabrics in the front just look cheap. Also, it hangs a bit too low on her, and there's a little bit too much sparkle around the boobies. It all looks wrinkly, too. Still, Jerell should have earned his way to the finals with this. Also, his runway bitchery was good fun.


I would have picked this for the win. I like the way she combined her usual architectural style with a softer look and feel. It's very elegant while still retaining a slight edge. I think what kept her from the win was that big bunch of blue fabric in the back (mercifully not visible in this picture) - without that, she should have been fine.


Oh Lord, what a sharp drop-off in quality from the top two to the bottom. First of all, that color is all wrong for her skin tone. She looks really washed out. Those lace circle things are also pretty bad. The top looks unfinished. I love Korto, but I just can't defend this. It's a mess. I think it's slightly less of a mess than Kenley's, but still... blech.


I am amazed that the word "costume" was not used to describe this look, because she looks like she walked straight out of Little Shop of Horrors to eat your face. That fabric choice is hideous and absurd. Those petals or whatever the fuck they are around the feet are awful. The hairstyle is old-looking. Perhaps the only defensible thing is that she constructed it quite well, but honestly, when your taste is so far off, maybe it's time to just be a tailor or something.

Also, unacceptable attitude, defensive, bratty, blah blah etc. You know by now.

Next week: Part 1 of the finale? No reunion??

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What's In A Ringtone?

I've always taken my cell phone's ringtone a little bit more seriously than I should. Not that I think it has to be deep and meaningful, but I tend to try a little bit too hard at finding one that I think "fits" me. These are the ringtones I've had over time:

"Bizarre Love Triangle" by New Order - This one lasted a looong time. Since this is arguably in my top ten songs ever, I had a strong attachment to this, but I found that hearing it play every time my phone rang actually lessened my actual enjoyment of the song. Also, the quality of my clip in particular kind of sucked. Hence, I have jettisoned it, although I still use it for one person.

"Hey Mami" by Fannypack - This one was fun, but it got annoying fairly quickly. Again, one very special person gets this ringtone, but that's it.

"Breakin' Dishes" by Rihanna - I kept this one almost as long as I kept BLT, and I'm not particularly sure why. It came around during my resurgence of love for pop music, so I guess that's why I felt it worked, but mostly, I just got used to it.

"No no no! Not God bless America - GOD DAMN AMERICA!" by Rev. Jeremiah Wright - Okay, so I never actually used this one. I got it from Slate's political ringtones. It's fun to play for people every once in a while. It is my ringtone for one person who specifically requested it, so every call from her is actually rather startling.

"Sinnerman" by Nina Simone - My newest selection, and it just may be my best choice yet. It's urgent, it builds in intensity as I continue to not answer the phone, it's obscure without being overly so... I'm pretty pleased. Of course, give me a few months and I'm sure my whims will change again.

Feedback Time: What about you? What's your ringtone? WHY?

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Brian Love Al Gore, Part 3964

Al Gore continued to be the most awesome person ever Monday when he made the following remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative:

“If you’re a young person looking at the future of this planet and looking at what is being done right now, and not done, I believe we have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration,” he said at the third annual meeting of former President Bill Clinton’s initiative, which arranges partnerships between the very rich and the very needy.

Mr. Gore said the civil disobedience should focus on “stopping the construction of new coal plants,” which he said would add tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere — despite “half a billion dollars’ worth of advertising by the coal and gas industry” claiming otherwise. He added, “Clean coal does not exist.”

God he's so amazing. I realllllly wish he had run for pres this year. Sigh.

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I Got You an Offshore Drilling Platform

It's my birthday! The government of the US decided to gift me with the expiration of the ban on offshore drilling. BEST PRESENT EVER.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

More Like Five Thirty Great!

I just wanted to give a quick heads-up to all of you about an amazing website that deals with two things I desperately love: statistics and politics. uses a sophisticated model based on polls and past trends to determine who will win the presidential election. Although they admit to a liberal bias, the modeling seems to be based entirely on actual data.

But here's the cool part: before each update, they run the model 10,000 times. Based on each run, they establish percentages for all sorts of neat things. These range from pretty standard (currently, Obama is projected to win 80.5% of the time, but only with 50.8% of the popular vote) to pretty awesome and minute (14% chance that Obama will win Ohio, but lose Pennsylvania.) There's also a state-by-state rundown of odds. (Most surprising/elating for me: Virginia goes to Obama 84% of the time.) Now, I don't know enough about modeling to assess the validity of their model, but even if it's all wrong, it's still fun to look at.

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Musical Stares

I hope you all enjoyed another week of bullshit judging. Let's get this over with.

Challenge: Create a look for one of your fellow designers based on a musical genre.

Before we begin, I just want to say how annoying the basis of this challenge is. It's almost impossible not to create something cliche and stereotypical. Hence, we got four cliched stereotypes and whatever the fuck it was that Kenley made. Anyway, on with the designs.

Model: Suede
Genre: Punk

Eh. I mean, everything was kinda eh, so I don't dispute that this was the winner, but eh. It looks punky, I guess. The pants are pretty good, and the bleaching effect worked really well, but I think of really tight pants when I think punk. You could probably get the shirt at Hot Topic. The styling was really over the top. But she did well, considering the challenge constraints. Suede's runway histrionics made me want to vom all over the place.

NOTE TO NINA: I love you, but Marilyn Manson is not punk, and he did not look like Marilyn Manson.

Model: Kenley
Genre: Pop

This was also a good effort - Kenley actually looks much prettier this way. (That means ditch the florals, missy.) I like the sheer cutouts, and the sparkly bra underneath is a nice touch. The vest is the biggest mistake here - it's too Aladdin and too small. The hair and makeup are nice, but the boots just do not go with the rest of the look. I think Jerell didn't quite get there for two reasons:
1)it was pretty unimaginative,
and 2)they also didn't want Jerell (of all the talented people in the history of PR) to be the first three-peat designer.

Model: Korto
Genre: Country

This is where I start to get cranky. I didn't love this look (although the skirt is quite nice), but I don't know what more they want her to do with it. They say she didn't go far enough with it, but if she had gone farther, Michael Kors would've said something like, "She looks like Dolly Parton in blackface!" Instead, he settled for the somewhat less repellent, but still inappropriate, "She just looks like she's going to go eat some ribs." WHOA. I'm going to cut Michael some slack on that, but... not okay. Whatever.

Model: Leanne
Genre: Hip-Hop

Warning: The rest of this post is going to be VERY ANGRY. VERY.

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS. All of a sudden, hip-hop means mom jeans, the same fucking type of print that Kenley has used for every challenge, a leather jacket, and gaudy jewelry. Those pants are absolutely disgusting. I wouldn't use them as toilet paper. The top does not look like "graffiti," as Kenley so idiotically said, but like the cover of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The jacket is the only thing that remotely works in this outfit. It is appalling that Kenley isn't out after this. The judges seemed to give her some leeway, saying that it's not what she's used to, but GUESS WHAT. I bet Korto doesn't really have much experience with punkish clothing but SHE DID JUST FINE. FUCK YOU, JUDGES.

What makes this all the worse is Kenley's attitude during the whole thing. Her complete disdain for hip-hop culture was rude and bordered on racially insensitive. It's very telling that when Tim quizzed her about making baggy clothes (which, by the way, did not go out in the 80s, Kenley), she got offended and said she wasn't going to make Leanne look like an idiot. I really wish we could have seen the unedited interaction between her and LL Cool J when she said something similar on the runway - he seemed to get really frustrated by that. Her attitude toward Tim and the judges is also disgusting - she'll soak up the praise, but if anyone says an ill word, she's instantly defensive and everyone else is wrong. And now she's staying around because she's the villain. FUCK YOU, KENLEY.


Model: Jerell
Genre: Rock

I've made it no secret that I've wanted Suede gone for a long time. I was eagerly anticipating his auf. I felt it coming this week. Then, the producers managed to find a way to take all the joy out of it. Instead of Suede going home for one of his past monstrosities, he gets a bullshit auf when he didn't really do all that badly. FUCK YOU PRODUCERS FOR NOT LETTING ME REVEL IN THIS.

The vest is cool. The pants are cool. The shirt is the biggest mistake, because it does look like something Jerell would wear anyway, and it's really not all that rock-ish.

Whatever, Suede still sucks.

Next week: Kenley acts like an awful, spoiled, whiny, crazy two-year old. Also, they'll make dresses or something.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Vote for Mange?

No, silly - Vote for Change! At this site (sponsored by the Obama campaign), you can register to vote if not yet registered, and then either find out how to request an absentee ballot or find your polling place. GO DO IT.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Keep On Rockin' Me, Tina

At last night's Emmy awards, 30 Rock, nominated for 17 awards (the most ever for a comedy series!) pretty much cleaned up. Tina Fey first won for Best Writing on a Comedy Series. Next, Alec Baldwin won Best Actor in a Comedy Series, followed by another win for Tina Fey as Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Finally, Mary Tyler Moore and Betty White (!) presented Tina and the entire cast with the award for Best Comedy Series. Color me overjoyed. 30 Rock is by far my favorite show on television right now, and it's fantastic to see it get all the recognition it deserves. Hopefully, now people will start watching it, since it's been in danger of cancellation pretty much since its inception. Although I'll probably write a longer love post when the show comes back around in a month, for now, I shall revel.

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Friday, September 19, 2008


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Project Runway Rundown: You Can Quote Me on That

This week's recap gimmick: Quotations!


"What the fuck is on Jerell's head?" - Me

UGH, I guess I have to give Jerell some credit here. This look worked well, although the blouse/skirt combo might not be work-appropriate without the cardigan, which is by far the best part of this outfit. The blouse and skirt are nice, but the cardigan really puts it into awesome land. Problem: That thing on Jerell's head? He originally wanted her to wear that. As I keep saying, Jerell has no idea how to style an outfit, and if she hadn't had the good sense to refuse that stupid little hat, he would have lost the win. But for once, he did everything else right, so congrats to Jerell. May he bore us with several more clever-but-not-really-all-that-clever confessionals as he saunters his way to Bryant Park.


"I'm gonna make the prettiest dress in the world." - Kenley

Uh, Kenley? Turns out you fell a bit short of that lofty goal. I don't care what the judges say - I though this look was mediocre at best. That is the exact same dress Kenley keeps turning out, and guess what? You can get it at Goodwill. No need to enlist an overly loud designer. Also, that tulle sticking out at the bottom is absurd. The only thing I like is the vest, which offsets the rest nicely. Maybe I just have a Kenley imprint on my brain now, but if I saw this person on the street, I would be instantly irritated and annoyed. It just looks way too self-consciously hip.

P.S. Fuck you, Kenley and Li'l Kenley, for being so rude during the judging. HATE.


"I think the jacket is cool."
- Cynthia Rowley

ME TOO, Cynthia Rowley! (Aside: I love Cynthia Rowley! She was a great guest.) In fact, I want that jacket. I adore the green piping against the burlap-ish color. I would wear it everywhere and be the prettiest boy around. Although I was talking to some that felt the jacket didn't go with the dress, I disagree; I really like the contrasting effect. The dress does seem a bit too simple, though.


"Stop being mean to Leanne!" - Me

Okay, this? Is cute. It's very cute for a teacher. I didn't get all the hate. The sweater is really interesting, but still demure and classy, and the skirt is simple, which is pretty much required for an elementary school teacher. This accomplishes everything it needed to, but the judges apparently need to create some doubt in our mind about who's going to win this whole thing, so they decided to attack poor Leanne. (Who is going to win. I wish we could just fast forward to the finale and give it to her already. The only other person who even has a fighting chance is Korto.)


"I think Suede is a poseur. I don't understand his aesthetic as a designer."
- Kenley

"I will say no more." - Nina

That about sums it up. The jacket is atrocious on a billion different levels. The dress is okay, but it's also all print. I barf on Suede's stupid head.


"I'm definitely confident in my design."
- Joe

Oh Joe. This was just tragic. I had high hopes, since he has daughters, but...yuck. I mean, this makes girl look big, and girl was not all that big. It's hopelessly dated, and the construction is just terrible. LOOK AT THAT SHIRT. Ugh. Also, the belt and shoes are all wrong. I guess us Michiganders just aren't meant to win Project Runway (although my eternal PR boyfriend, Daniel V, came close!)

Next week: Whatever. I'm rapidly losing interest.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Privilege and Politics

Aviva's just full of awesome links - here's a fantastic post about the way white privilege has manifested itself in the presidential campaign. I've excerpted part of it below:

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it, a “light” burden.

And there's more! This is a must-read.

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Be Well, Do Good Work, and Keep in Touch

I have this habit of listening to the podcast of Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac before I go to bed at night. It's relaxing. The other day, I heard this poem and I really liked it, so here's a dose of something nice before what will likely be another angry Project Runway post tomorrow:

Maybe Very Happy

by Jack Gilbert

After she died he was seized
by a great curiosity about what
it was like for her. Not that he
doubted how much she loved him.
But he knew there must have been
some things she had not liked.
So he went to her closest friend
and asked what she complained of.
"It's all right," he had to keep
saying, "I really won't mind."
Until the friend finally gave in.
"She said sometimes you made a noise
drinking your tea if it was very hot."

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Introducing: In Heavy Rotation

New blog feature today! I will now have an Imeem playlist on my sidebar that represents my recent favorite music. (By "recent," I mean what I've been listening to lately, not that the music is necessarily recent. Although I wish it could be the latter, I'm not as up on new musicks as I should be.) I hope to update it every other week or so, and if I feel strongly enough about it, I'll post a little entry about the updates.

Starting playlist is after the jump:

"On the Train" by Theatre of Disco - Catchy! Weird! Vaguely unsettling!
"That's Not My Name" by The Ting Tings - I know I'm way behind on them (gasp - I didn't even know who they were before their iPod commerical), but it's still a fun song.
"Strange Overtones" by David Byrne and Brian Eno - From their excellent new album, Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. This is my favorite track from the album.
"The Ladies Who Lunch" from Company, as performed by Elaine Stritch - I'm not a musical gay, but this is great enough to awaken that dormant gene.
"Fireworks" by Animal Collective - Not very recent, but I'm in the midst of an Animal Collective resurgence.
"Silence" by Portishead - This is the opening track from my favorite album so far this year (Third, which is also Portishead's first in 11 years).
"8:08 PM @ The Beach" by Fred Falke - Ah, laid-back dance.
"Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy" by Devo - Brian love Devo.
"Cities" by Talking Heads - I just rewatched Stop Making Sense, so some Talking Heads representation is essential.
"Modern Love" by David Bowie - His best from the 80s.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Please Don't Stop the Music

Here's a fun little article for a Friday. A professor in Scotland has been undertaking a study to see what personality types like different sorts of music. Although it's a little bit icky that the professor cites marketing as a possible use for the research, it's still fun to look over the genres and see how well you match up with the supposed personality type of your favorite music. It's like a musical horoscope!

Example: Out of the listed genres, I probably identify with "indie" and "dance" the most, although both of those are really vague. Based on that, I am creative, outgoing, not gentle, not hard-working, and I have low self-esteem.

Sounds about right!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Fuck This Shit

UGH. Worst episode ever. After the jump, I'll explain why the judging this episode has serious implications beyond just this week.

Tomorrow, all six of the remaining designers will show at Bryant Park. This is a practice the show has always used to avoid spoiling the outcome - since Bryant Park happens while the show is still airing, the producers have to let all the designers that appear to still be in contention create a line, or else the Final Three would be spoiled. That means that Terri does not get to show at Bryant Park, but Jerell, Joe, and Suede, all vastly inferior designers, do. Let me say that again: SUEDE GETS TO SHOW A LINE AT BRYANT PARK.

This is tragic.

Beyond that, there was just way too much going on this episode, and none of it all that interesting. Nonetheless, I shall charge ahead and dutifully provide my thoughts on the various designers this week.

Jerell (with Jennifer)

This is the winner? Really? This look easily ranks fourth for me this week. That jacket is HIDEOUS. Ugly does not equal avant-garde. Seriously, those little peacock feathers or whatever at the elbow are awful, the print is unflattering, and there's just way too much going on. The gold
lamé top to the dress looks cheap and tacky, and the styling, which Jerell always fails at, is just ridiculous. (What's in her hair? A lightning bolt?) Having said all that, I do quite like the skirt, and it's probably what gave him the win. The side flaps are interesting, and the flare at the bottom gives a nice effect.

Joe (with Daniel)

This is a really impressive look, although the skirt is a bit reminiscent of Christian and Chris's absolutely amazing avant-garde outfit last season. (Speaking of: how did the designers do so much worse with the avant-garde concept compared to last time around? Last season there were two stunning, completely original entries; this season, there were like, 0.5.) The top complements the skirt nicely without drawing too much attention, and the shrug provides a nice accent to prevent the top from looking too bare. A strong showing from Joe, although if Tim's blog is to be believed, Daniel was more in charge of this team. (Which makes me feel vindicated for still loving him.)

Korto (with Kelli)

I love the skirt on this. It's very Korto; flowy, lots of volume, etc. Things go haywire up top, which looks like third-rate Leanne. Also, it's not visible in this picture, but the huge mass of fabric on her back didn't add much to the overall design. It looked tacked on at the last second. Again, Tim's blog provides an interesting insight: Kelli apparently became rather sick during the challenge, so Korto was mostly working on her own. Although I still don't love the look, that tidbit makes me more forgiving of Korto this week.

Leanne (with Emily)

It looks sort of sloppy in this picture, but this probably would have been my pick for the winner. It captures Scorpio nicely without being too obvious, but is still clearly a Leanne creation. I love the way the "claws" form a sort of hood. Although still not all that avant-garde (none of this was), it was sexy and fun. If Leanne doesn't make it to Bryant Park, expect another angry post title out of me.

Kenley (with Wesley)

Positives: I got to see my boyfriend Wesley again, and he was as adorable as ever. Thank you, editors, for the gratuitous shirtless shot. Seeing Wesley back on the show is sort of like watching An Inconvenient Truth and wondering how great things could have been if Al Gore didn't get cheated out of the presidency.

Negatives: EVERYTHING ELSE. Jesus. What the hell is this? This looks like what the mildly psychotic sister of Tweedledum and Tweedledee would wear.

Kenley's inspiration

I can't say enough bad stuff about this dress. First of all, it doesn't fit the challenge at all. Nothing about this says Aquarius. (Although I did love Kenley screaming at Heidi (pardon the inexact quote), "How is this not Aquarius? It's free-spirited and eccentric and PURPLE!" Riiiight.) Beyond that, the shoulders are insane, the vinyl corset thing doesn't tie in with the rest of the look at all, and the skirt is the same poofy floral goiter nonsense that Kenley's been making for every challenge. Although the design is atrocious, it was well-constructed, and that's probably what saved Kenley. It certainly wasn't her screaming tirade against the judges, which again showed how unprofessional she really is.

Suede (with Jerry)

Oh goody, the two most delusional designers from this season get paired up, and they make... pajamas. I guess Suede is going to win or something, because apparently, he can never make something bad enough to get kicked off. But at least I know he'll keep trying!

Blayne (with Stella)

Oh my. Blayne apparently took avant-garde to mean "Make an outfit that looks like some sort of rejected Buffy the Vampire Slayer monster." I really can't say anything about this that hasn't already been said. It's awful. I'm sort of afraid my blog is going to get flagged as vulgar as a result of me posting this picture.

I know I've been hard on Blayne though, and since I won't have the chance again, I'll say now that he grew on me as the competition went on as he seemed less concerned about being a character. It was really sweet the way he and Stella interacted, and it's a shame they couldn't produce something better than this. Blayne was in way over his head on this show, but I hope he's learned from it and can move on to better things.

Terri (with Keith)

Yes, Terri was awful with Keith this week. She was rude and unnecessarily hostile. HOWEVER. Keith didn't really earn himself any sympathy points by talking about how "fragile" he was due to his recent aufing. Guess what, Keith? Stella got kicked off even more recently than you, and she worked her ass off for Blayne without a single complaint. It seemed like these two were dead set on not getting along, and Terri made a huge mistake by tearing into Keith on the runway. Since I always harp on Kenley for being unprofessional, I have to be fair and also say that Terri was extremely unprofessional in this episode.

Having said that, I don't believe teamwork was listed as a criterion for the judging this time around, but it seems like Terri went primarily because of her little catwalk catfight. Because really, this look is not as horrid as the judges made it seem. Sure, it deserved to be in the bottom half, primarily because of those weird shoulders. (Why does avant-garde = poofy shoulders for these people?) I kinda liked the bodice though, and the shape on the hem is interesting, although it looks a bit uneven. Considering the crap that Kenley and Suede churned out, Terri's aufing was bullshit. It's small comfort, but at least I prognosticated her unjust departure a while back.


Next week: I don't remember what happened in the preview, but Suede is still around, so it'll probably be annoying and laden with stories about how his dead goldfish inspired him to add scales to his dress. Then Jerell will say something vaguely witty he dreamed up months before the show started and was just waiting for a chance to use. He will style his model's hair like Marge Simpson and the judges will give it a standing ovation. Kenley will cry and yell at the judges after she sends the same dress down the runway again for the nth week in a row, and then she'll probably win. Joe will continue to hide in the corner and say nothing, except perhaps a disparaging anti-gay comment here and there. Then, Korto and Leanne will get double auf'd, because the judges are deadset on pissing me off.

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