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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