December 31, 2006

The year in bands that are highly unlikely to appear on Guitar Hero 3

Hello, everyone. As you can tell, I've been taking time off from blogging for Christmas break. But it's almost 2007, so I suppose I had better get this list of my favorite CDs of 2006 posted. I kept myself to 20 this year:

1) The Decemberists: The Crane Wife
2) Scritti Politti: White Bread Black Beer
3) Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit
4) His Name Is Alive: Detrola
5) Danielson: Ships
6) TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain
7) The Mountain Goats: Get Lonely
8) Loose Fur: Born Again in the USA
9) Regina Spektor: Begin to Hope
10) The Pipettes: We Are the Pipettes
11) Richard Thompson: 1,000 Years of Popular Music
12) Nellie McKay: Pretty Little Head
13) The Futureheads: News and Tributes
14) Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass
15) The Sadies: In Concert, Vol. 1
16) The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury
17) Spanky Wilson and the Quantic Soul Orchestra: I'm Thankful
18) Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
19) Paul Simon: Surprise
20) The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers

Comments and way more stuff after the break.

1) The Decemberists: The Crane Wife

Last year I mentioned how pleased I was about the resurgence of prog as a viable option for hip young musicians, but I really didn't expect the Decemberists to be the next band to take up the standard. Rose listened to it and said, "How did they know I was wishing for a new [Peter Gabriel-era] Genesis album?" I thought it was more Jethro Tull-meets-Talking Heads, but, you know, same difference.

Download O, Valencia!

2) Scritti Politti, White Bread Black Beer

I'm a big dork about Scritti Politti. I like all their incarnations: the freaky low-fi skronk-punk collected on Early, the alterna-soul of Songs to Remember, the smooth New Wave pop of Cupid & Psyche 85 and Provision, and the hiphoppy mishmash of Anomie and Bonhomie. So it's no surprise to me that I love this album too, nor is it any surprise that it doesn't sound much like any of those other albums. It has the unexpected section-to-section shifts of Anomie, but it's mostly intimate and acoustic, and a little Beach Boys-esque in its harmonies.

I went to see Scritti play at Bowery Ballroom and ended up standing next to a guy who was a much, much bigger fan than I am. He went to every venue on their North American tour. That's devotion. After the set, I could kind of see the attraction, though -- I could have stood to watch that show more than once. The best song intro (to my favorite song from the album, "Robin Hood"): "I like to say that this song is about the end of utopian socialism, but it really has more to do with the end of utopian socialist theories." Now that's rock and roll.

Download Robin Hood

3) Belle & Sebastian: The Life Pursuit

I love the way Belle & Sebastian has gone from an introspective band with precisely observed lyrics to a jubilantly over-the-top band with precisely observed lyrics. It's Burt Bacharach + The Smiths. Plus about five dozen other things.

Download White-Collar Boy

4) His Name Is Alive: Detrola

I haven't seen this album on anyone else's end-of-year lists, from which I can only assume that I'm the only person still listening to this band. This is another in a series of albums featuring freaky, haunting soul music from the future, but it's the best one so far.

Download Seven Minutes in Heaven

5) Danielson: Ships

I listened to the Danielson Familie a bit when they first appeared (my friend Veronica made me a copy of their first album, Tell Another Joke at the Old Chopping Block), but the piercing voice and rah-rah-for-Jesus perspective got to me after a bit and I lost track of them. I'm more tolerant of people who aren't atheists nowadays, and I'd heard enough good things about this album to make me curious again. Turns out Brother D.'s songwriting has come a long way since I last checked in. The arrangements on this album are incredibly full and joyous.

Download Cast It at the Setting Sail

6) TV on the Radio: Return to Cookie Mountain

I didn't think I would like this album as much as I do. I've always felt like I should be a fan of this band, but they've never really grabbed me, so I almost didn't even bother buying this -- but then I saw someone selling a promo copy on the street for a dollar, so I figured, what the hell. It's far and away the catchiest experimental album I've heard in a while. The song structures drift weirdly but compellingly, managing to make very strange and dissonant noises feel soothing.

Download I Was a Lover

7) The Mountain Goats: Get Lonely

I feel dumb for taking so long to get on board with the Mountain Goats. I bought their early EP Nine Black Poppies because of the dark, funny song "Cubs in Five" ("And the Chicago Cubs will beat every team in the league / And the Tampa Bay Bucs will take it all the way to January / And I will love you again / I will love you like I used to"). But then the rest of the EP didn't grab me, so I internalized the idea of the Mountain Goats as being "an inconsistent band", and even though I kept hearing songs of theirs I liked, I never picked up any more of their CDs. I finally bought two of their recent albums, and I expect I'll be picking up more, based on how much I liked them. I hope it doesn't make me too much of a Philistine that I like the nice 4AD production values and more-fleshed-out arrangements.

Download Maybe Sprout Wings

8) Loose Fur: Born Again in the USA

Loose Fur has always sounded great on paper -- Jeff Tweedy plus Jim O'Rourke! -- but that first album, yawn. This one shortens the songs and brings out some excellent 70s-style guitar riffage. Actually, some of these songs might work very nicely on Guitar Hero.

Download Hey Chicken

9) Regina Spektor: Begin to Hope

It's tempting to mark this one down for preciousness, but my impulse to do that is solely based on one song, and it's not really a song from the album itself -- it's one of the tracks on the limited-edition bonus CD: "Uh-merica", which features an unpleasant grunt as the first syllable of the word "America", every time, many times. Grueling. But the album proper really is as charming as she thinks it is. Best lyric: "Summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage."

Download On the Radio

10) The Pipettes: We Are the Pipettes

Is it wrong to be so crushed out on such a high-concept prefab group? I don't care, I don't care! The Pipettes (as Jeffrey Rowland puts it) "are three girls who wear polka-dot dresses who sing about how they are kind of jerks." In a classic Brill Building girl group style! Practically every song sounds like an alternate-universe hit single. (Note: don't accidentally try to buy this one from Amazon -- it's much cheaper to get it from Amp Camp.)

Download Because It's Not Love

11) Richard Thompson: 1,000 Years of Popular Music

Inspired by a Playboy article which asked musicians for their list of the 10 best songs of the millennium, Richard Thompson decided to take them at their word and include songs actually from other centuries, which he suspected was not their intent. They didn't use his list, but it did inspire a series of concerts featuring songs drawn from all over the temporal map -- although I confess to preferring the more recent tunes, particularly "Orange Coloured Sky". (He also does a very nice job with "Oops, I Did It Again".)

Download Orange Coloured Sky

12) Nellie McKay: Pretty Little Head

Now, I did actually drop this one a few places for preciousness, because I can't. Fucking. Stand the intro to "Mama & Me" (which features Nellie mimicking a crying child). And there are a couple other bits that make me roll my eyes. And yet I still wouldn't have wanted this album shortened, as Sony wanted to do before they cut Nellie loose from her contract instead, because what if they'd cut songs I like? Because most of the album is super fun. And there are two winning duets, with Cyndi Lauper and k.d. lang.

Download Swept Away

13) The Futureheads: News and Tributes

It's really not as immediately catchy as the first Futureheads album (except for the first single, "Skip to the End"), but it definitely grew on me after repeated listenings. It sounds like they made a conscious decision to have only two hooks per song instead of five. At any rate, they clearly made an effort not to record a CD that was just a carbon copy of their last one, and they succeeded, and it was still a solid album. So, right on.

Download Favours for Favours

14) Yo La Tengo: I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass

All the critics seem to love the super-long guitar freakouts that open and close this CD. I can take or leave them, but I love the stuff in between, which is all over the map in that I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One way. Many people have said they consider this album a welcome return to form after Summer Sun...except I really liked Summer Sun. Oh well.

Download The Weakest Part

15) The Sadies: In Concert, Vol. 1

We saw the Sadies perform a killer fucking show at Prospect Park two summers ago, but fellow concert attendee James said that he found the CD he bought after the show to be kind of disappointing, so I held off on buying up their oeuvre. But then they put out a live CD, so I figured, well, crap, that's got to be pretty good, right? Hell yes! CD 1 is basically all Sadies, and CD 2 is guest-star-o-rama, with Neko Case, Jon Spencer, and Jon Langford, and wrapping up with an awesome freaking cover of the Mekons' "Memphis, Egypt". Killer.

Can't find the CD! Sorry, no download.

16) The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury

Of course a novelty album by Stephin Merritt is going to be good. All his best albums are novelty albums. "Look, I wrote 69 songs about love!" "Look, I made an album where every song title starts with the letter I!" "Look, I wrote a song for every book in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events." Grim. Fun.

Download The World Is a Very Scary Place

17) Spanky Wilson and the Quantic Soul Orchestra: I'm Thankful

Quantic is a techno composer who periodically records hyper funk jams with a live band. This is one of those albums, except featuring a fierce soul singer ready to make a comeback. Sounds in many ways like it dropped out the sky from another era, except when drum-and-bass rhythms appear. (Of course, the basic drum-and-bass rhythm is just a drum sample from 1969 sped up, so it's hardly out of place.)

Download Waiting for Your Touch

18) Neko Case: Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

This is an excellent album, although I ended up feeling a little lukewarm about where to place it in the top 20 because I don't feel it especially stands out overall from her other CDs. There are three songs that blow me away every time, though ("Star Witness", "Hold On, Hold On", and "That Teenage Feeling").

Download Hold On, Hold On

19) Paul Simon: Surprise

Yep, I still like this. See here for commentary.

Download Sure Don't Feel Like Love

20) The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers

Come for the Jack White. Stay for the Brendan Benson!

Download Store Bought Bones

Honorable mention (alphabetically sorted):
Jon Auer: Songs from the Year of Our Demise
The Beatles: Love
Beck: The Information
T-Bone Burnett: The True False Identity
Cat Power: The Greatest
Dosh: The Lost Take
Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint: The River in Reverse
Jeremy Enigk: World Waits
Him: Peoples
Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3: Ole! Tarantula
Kaki King: Until We Felt Red
Michael Leviton: My Favorite Place to Drown
Los Lobos: The Town and the City
Mission of Burma: The Obliterati
Morrissey: Ringleader of the Tormentors
Jim Noir: Tower of Love
Pet Shop Boys: Fundamental
Prince: 3121
Sufjan Stevens: The Avalanche
Kelley Stoltz: Below the Branches
Mia Doi Todd: La Ninja
Toothfairy: Formative

That Beatles album totally would have made the top 20 if it had all been as gloriously freewheeling as the incredible Drive My Car/The Word/What You're Doing mash-up. But it felt a leetle too respectful, overall.

Albums I wish I'd bought in time to put on last year's list:
Field Music: Field Music
Dominic Frasca: Deviations

Speaking of last year's list, how did I do? I'm still pretty happy with all my choices, although the Go! Team album has worn off me a bit, and I've come to like that Kate Bush CD more over time, so I'd probably slide those both a few places in the appropriate direction. Anyway -- onward.

Best albums I've heard but haven't bought yet, but probably will buy at some point:
Joanna Newsom: Ys
Muse: Black Holes and Revelations
The Scissor Sisters: Ta-Dah

Best compilation:
Andrew Bird: Fingerlings 3

No, I haven't heard Tom Waits's Orphans yet.

Best reissue:
Eno/Byrne: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

Best MP3-only EP from 2005 that I only just heard about, so it's like it's new, to me anyway:
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists: Sharkbite Sessions

Best box sets:
Sufjan Stevens: Christmas
Tortoise: A Lazarus Taxon

Flaming Lips: At War With the Mystics
Miho Hatori: Ecdysis

Best albums from a long time ago that I just now got around to buying, or albums from just a few years ago by people you've never heard of but should maybe look up:
Jack Frost: Jack Frost
Jack Frost: Snow Job
Jennifer Trynin: Cockamamie
Tom Waits: Bone Machine
Brinsley Schwarz: Nervous on the Road
Brinsley Schwarz: New Favourites of...
Elton John: Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
Fleetwood Mac: Tusk
The Free French: All 3 albums
Statuesque: Choir Above Fire Below

Read about Jack Frost here. The Free French is a band I heard about because I attended the Scritti Politti show -- I discovered Scritti's keyboard player, Rhodri Marsden, had a livejournal, and I thereafter discovered that he had his own band. I listened to some online samples and knew I needed the albums, so I e-mailed Rhodri, who sold them to me himself. I highly recommend taking the time to download the zip file filled with sample tracks here.

(Obligatory disclaimer: MP3s are for promotional purposes only, yadda yadda yadda, and will only be available for a limited time. Do make an effort to buy CDs now and then. Goodness knows I do.)

Posted by Francis at 03:23 AM | Comments (10)

December 22, 2006

Day 27

Somewhere along the line I started acquiring some corduroy shirts. I like them, but of course I can never wear them with my corduroy pants. That would be too much.


Posted by Francis at 09:38 AM in Ties | Comments (5)

December 21, 2006

But maybe this means I can finally fulfill my dream of humiliating Granthony in a staring contest

Nothing can really convey a child's terror at the prospect of their house burning down. Nothing except...blinking.

(Long explanation of the Granthony reference here, via the Comics Curmudgeon.)

Posted by Francis at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

Day 26

This shirt was spotted by Rose in a store window; she knew I had to have it. The tie was a freebie I got when I worked at Cargo. There was one day when a huge pile of way-too-expensive-for-me-to-afford ties got dumped on the giveaway table; naturally, I was immediately alerted. (And although I did acquire many wonderful free things from Cargo, it is also the source of the Shirt That Got Away -- about which more later -- and thus there is some bittersweetness to my sartorial associations there.)


Posted by Francis at 10:00 AM in Ties | Comments (2)

December 20, 2006

Day 25

Shirt from Daffy's. It also came in a yellow-and-orange color scheme which I loved, but which looked absolutely appalling on me.


Posted by Francis at 12:35 PM in Ties | Comments (0)

If you ever cared about the democratic process, now is the time for you to stuff a ballot box for my preferred candidate

Let's all just calm down. Take a deep breath before you stop those presses. You don't want to lose a finger. I know it's exciting that the New Yorker has finally chosen an actually funny caption as one of the finalists for the Caption Contest, but let's remember to do our vocal warmups before we ride from town to town shouting the news. Be responsible, people.

Oh, I'm sorry, which one is the funny one? Well, it's the caption that, if you read it as I like to assume the author intended (but actually it's even funnier if she didn't), seems like highly unlikely subject matter for a New Yorker cartoon. You know, the one about child molestation?

BELATED UPDATE: That link hasn't worked for a while...whoops. This was the cartoon in question, and the caption (which lost, alas), was "Ever think about kids?"

Posted by Francis at 12:21 AM | Comments (4)

Senate freakout update, continued

Senator Tim Johnson is continuing his slow recovery, although he is not yet speaking. There are a few new bits of info in the article, but I think the noteworthy part is this rather dry closing line:

There is ample precedent for senators to continue to hold office while incapacitated.
Posted by Francis at 12:05 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2006

Heaneyland gift guide, part 2

Here's a toy which is currently on sale for 71 percent off at Amazon, which translates into English as "This product is fucked up, and we pass the savings along to you."

Posted by Francis at 11:56 PM | Comments (2)

Day 24

Another slightly-more-conservative-than-typical shirt, but I do love the color scheme, and, of course, as with all the shirts that don't have wild patterns, it goes with quite a few ties. Here's one I've never even worn it with before:


Posted by Francis at 09:50 AM in Ties | Comments (1)

Heaneyland gift guide, part one

Good luck finding a copy, but here's the perfect gift for any lover of women's fitness: the Traci Lords workout video (not overtly unsafe for work). It's guaranteed to give you a, set of abs?

Posted by Francis at 09:23 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2006

Proof that I sometimes care about books other than my own, for brief periods, at least

Holy Tango is experiencing one of its periodic web resurgences. Last night, Trip pointed out to me that I'd gotten a shout-out on Ken Jennings's blog (thanks to a post on his message board from a person I don't even know), and today I got linked from Kottke, among other places. Hooray! The day of my eventual domination of the lucrative literary parody industry creeps ever closer.

Not to seem like I'm logrolling, but the mention on Ken's blog reminds that I should tell you that if you haven't read Brainiac, it's more than worth your time. As I previously learned when he was the special guest at this year's crossword tournament, Ken is an engaging storyteller with a natural sense of humor, and given his extremely high fellow-traveler cred, he's the perfect person to do a sympathetic job of telling the stories of trivia geeks. Also, he absolutely hated Crossworld, which is practically enough of a recommendation all by itself, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by Francis at 06:11 PM | Comments (3)

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

This week's Entertainment Weekly cover asks, re cover boy Matthew McConaughey:

Sexiest Man Alive? Or Serious Actor?

These are my two choices?

Posted by Francis at 09:46 AM | Comments (3)

Day 23

This is another tie that Rose just brought back from Louisiana -- and which is the first tie I've ever had that actually goes well with this shirt, a long-ago purchase from Daffy's:


Posted by Francis at 09:44 AM in Ties | Comments (1)

December 16, 2006

Days 21 and 22

It's the all-gift installment of the Tie Project today! This is what I wore to Erin's non-holiday party last night:


Rose bought me the shirt at a thrift store -- it was somewhat expensive for a used shirt ($25), but that's because it would have been very expensive if it were a new shirt. I mean, look at the prices on these ties from the same designer. And then go persuade some wealthy person to buy them all for me.

The flowery tie was a gift from my friend Alexandra. It's a good thing she got it for me, because it's not one I would have bought on my own -- viewed by itself, it's a little more conservative than my usual tie purchases. But in context with the shirt, it's just right.

This next shirt (which I am wearing to tonight's non-non-holiday party at our friend Beth's) Rose brought back with her from her recent trip to Louisiana; she got it at a vintage store she discovered on her last trip. I could not stop gushing about how much I loved it. And I knew I had the perfect tie for it (although I couldn't remember where I'd gotten the tie from)! This morning I showed Rose the combo:


She said, "Didn't I buy you that tie? I did! Wait -- not only did I buy you that tie, I bought it at the same vintage store in Louisiana where I bought the shirt!" Since both the shirt and tie are hand-dyed, I wonder if they were made by the same person? A big hat-tip to him/her/them, whoever they are!

Posted by Francis at 04:54 PM in Ties | Comments (0)

Senate freakout update

There has been reassuring news about the recovery of Tim Johnson, with doctors reporting that he is recovering well after the surgery, and, specifically, that he is "appropriately responsive to both word and touch". Or, well, I assume that's meant to be reassuring. I find it has the opposite effect on me, actually, because I can't help pessimistically translating it as "He sort of moves his head towards you when you say hello, and he twitches when you poke him."

Posted by Francis at 04:49 PM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2006

Christ almighty, I thought I could finally relax about the Senate

Well, unless you've been living under a rock (and don't have wireless internet service under that rock), you know all about how Democratic South Dakota senator Tim Johnson is in the hospital following emergency brain surgery and that, should he leave office or die, the Republican governor of South Dakota will appoint a two-year replacement -- and there's nothing stopping him from appointing a Republican, thus throwing control of the Senate back to the GOP.

My question is...why isn't there anything stopping him? This little rule has always seemed like a strange quirk of our electoral system to me. I guess it's a bit much to ask someone to appoint someone of the opposition party, but then why not have someone else in charge of the interim appointment? Like, the state chairman of the relevant political party? Or why not hold a special election when there's a discrepancy between the parties involved? Not to be naive, but I am honestly curious whether anyone has any ideas as to why this system is considered a good idea.

Posted by Francis at 12:50 PM | Comments (5)

Days 19 and 20

Winter is, in a many ways, a lean time for the shirts and ties -- my short-sleeved shirts languish unworn in the closet, narrowing my wardrobe selections considerably, and some days it's cold enough that I break out a sweater and don't wear a tie at all. I know, horrors! But I do have a few sweaters which can be used for pattern enhancement:


You don't get much of the shirt in that photo, since the sleeves are out of frame. The sweater isn't exactly cut for showing off a lot of a tie, probably because it's a women's sweater. Here's the outfit without the sweater:


This tie Lorinne and I found while killing time before seeing Cars in the East Village, at a thrift shop across the street from the movie theatre. It immediately became this shirt's default tie:


Posted by Francis at 09:33 AM in Ties | Comments (2)

December 13, 2006

Area man writes crossword

Suddenly I seem like a very busy crossword constructor (as opposed to someone who writes a puzzle here and there every few months), because after having Monday's puzzle in the Sun, I also have today's puzzle in the Onion. You can solve it online (with the Onion's kind-of-subpar applet) here, or download it as a Word document or Across Lite file here.

Posted by Francis at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2006

Day 18

This tie was a present for my 35th birthday (the year I asked for a bottomless box of ties) from my friend Annika, who is a fellow Muppet fanatic:


I like the way this tie manages to find a way for worms and apple cores to seem understated.

Posted by Francis at 04:03 PM in Ties | Comments (2)

December 11, 2006

Clue Monday

Today's New York Sun crossword is by me -- you can download a copy by going here and right-clicking on December 11. (You'll need Across Lite, which you can download here.) Anyone traumatized by my previously posted, rather difficult crosswords in the Sun will be happy to learn that this is a nice easy one.

Posted by Francis at 12:10 PM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2006

Days 16 and 17

I wore this on Friday, but because my computer was sad and needing to be rebooted, I couldn't get it to recognize my camera before I left for work. Anyway, this is another still-looking-for-the-perfect-tie-but-this-will-do-for-today combo:


Actually, that shirt might work with the tie Lorinne bought me recently. I'll have to try that one next time.

After two days of tentative shirt/tie pairings, I felt like I needed to go with one of my favorites:


Both components were acquired used. I forget exactly where I bought the tie, but the shirt is from the Swap-O-Rama that is held now and again in Williamsburg -- so, check out that hipster cred.

Posted by Francis at 10:15 AM in Ties | Comments (3)

December 08, 2006

Everything counts in large amounts

I'm pleased to hear that, six or eight years later than people should have actually started caring urgently about it, people are starting to care urgently about verifiable voting:

By the 2008 presidential election, voters around the country are likely to see sweeping changes in how they cast their ballots and how those ballots are counted, including an end to the use of most electronic voting machines without a paper trail, federal voting officials and legislators say.

New federal guidelines, along with legislation given a strong chance to pass in Congress next year, will probably combine to make the paperless voting machines obsolete, the officials say. States and counties that bought the machines will have to modify them to hook up printers, at federal expense, while others are planning to scrap the machines and buy new ones.

It's always seemed pretty obvious to me that voting machines with software you're not allowed to see and no independent means of confirming a vote count other than the software you're not allowed to see are not a great means of providing confidence in election results, and so I couldn't be happier about this news, assuming it actually comes to pass. But some people apparently disagree with me about paper trails:

In Harris County, Tex., which includes Houston, electronic machines can print a paper tally, but do not give voters a paper record, meaning they would not comply with Mr. Holt’s bill. Beverly Kaufman, the county clerk, said she and other election officials elsewhere disliked the paper requirement.

“Every time you introduce something perishable like paper, you inject some uncertainty into the system,” Ms. Kaufman said.

That's right! People could set the voting records on fire! Where would you be then, with your precious "verified voting"? Huh???

Seriously, though, this makes my head spin. How does letting voters confirm that their votes were actually recorded correctly, and then saving a hard copy of those results increase uncertainty? Oh -- right, because then when the tampered-with voting machines show a different set of results, people will be uncertain whether or not they can trust the election outcome, but if we just get rid of the damn paper trail, people will never know better, and everything will be fine. I get it now.

Posted by Francis at 04:57 PM | Comments (4)

December 07, 2006

Day 15

Still looking for the perfect tie for this shirt, but this one's pretty good:


Posted by Francis at 09:37 AM in Ties | Comments (3)

December 06, 2006

My two cents

I don't why I'm so interested in receipts lately, but here's another one from the restaurant in Park Slope that at one point seemed to be changing its name from Circles but has either changed its mind or just been incredibly lazy about it:


I post this to point out the unusual two-cent charge for "rounding", which brings the bill from $22.93 to the nearest five-cent increment, $22.95. Has anyone seen this before? I can only assume it means they support Jim Kolbe and the war on pennies. This will surely come as quite a blow to K-Fed, and so soon after the divorce announcement!

Posted by Francis at 05:09 AM | Comments (8)

December 05, 2006

Day 14

Rose made this tie for me as a gift -- I think the fabric is incredibly beautiful, and the tie is perhaps her most professional-looking effort.


The shirt is from Daffy's, and I've always liked it a lot, but it acquired a special place in my heart when I saw Tobias Funke wearing it on Arrested Development. (Can't find a screenshot, alas. Will try again later.)

Update: Here it is! That shot is from season 3, episode 5, "Mr. F"; he also wears it sometime in season 1, but I forget which episode. I wonder if the costumers also bought theirs at Daffy's.

(Thanks to Kostia for the pointer to Striped Wall!)

Posted by Francis at 10:19 AM in Ties | Comments (3)

Day 13, belated

This is the outfit that sustained me through the weekend -- and at one point inspired a cheerful black woman to exclaim in the elevator, "Now that is a refreshing outfit! It wakes you right up." I'm pretty sure that was a compliment.


This shirt was given to me quite a while ago by my friend Charles, who has a fashion sense that is different from yet still akin to mine. He doesn't wear ties, but he does like the loud shirts -- and every once in a while, he miscalculates about whether a shirt is really his style or not, and he'll ask me if I'd like to give it a good home. This was one of those shirts. I loved it right away, but I had no tie that came anywhere near matching it, and doubted I'd ever find one. (I think I wore it once with a plain black tie, but I didn't really care for that.)

Then, one day, Rose and I were in a Walgreens, of all places, and Rose pointed down the center aisle at a rack of ties with a look of amazement: "Francis! I think one of the drugstore ties on that rack is actually cool!" At a distance of several aisles, she had spotted the rainbow lizard tie seen above. I rescued it from the rack of crappy, boring ties and took it home posthaste. And while I was hanging it on the tie rack, I thought -- wait, I think this tie matches the unmatchable shirt! Hurrah!

Finds like that (I repeat -- a Walgreens! What the fuck!) remind me of the guy at the rental car place in Boerum Hill that we used to frequent who said, apropos of a combo I was wearing that he thought was particularly swank, "Where do you shop for ties?" I replied, "You are never not shopping for ties."

Posted by Francis at 12:50 AM in Ties | Comments (9)

December 04, 2006

Everybody must get stoned

I'll get back to tieblogging soon -- the wounds are too raw right now. (Just kidding! I just don't have time. I think I might wear a sweater today.) If you'd like to read about what I've been up to this weekend, you can catch up with Rose's medical saga here.

While briefly stopping in a Barnes & Noble between bedside vigils -- and, honestly, "vigils" seems like too dramatic a word for "chatting and solving nurikabe", but I got nothin' else -- I saw a game that struck me as somewhat risible: Goth: The Game of Horror Trivia.

The cata-GORIES (sic) (and Lorinne points out that just because one is making a crappy pun, that does not excuse one from having to spell "categories" correctly, so, double sic) include "Movie Mayhem, Music Macabre, Bloody Tales & Poetry, Alchemy, and Stiffs". This game strikes me as slightly sad, somehow -- I picture a bunch of grown-up goths being all, "I know that! The Cure's 'Killing an Arab' is based on The Stranger, by Camus! Wow, I remember I traded my copy of the first Flock of Seagulls album for that single. (Long pause.) Sigh. (Long pause.) Well, can we finish this game later? I need to go to bed -- early day at the accounting firm tomorrow!"

Posted by Francis at 11:18 AM | Comments (8)

December 01, 2006

Day 12

I acquired both components of this outfit this year -- the shirt from Daffy's, the tie from Indian Sari Palace in Jackson Heights -- which means that my tie says "ISP" on the back, which amuses me:


I most recently wore this combo for an unusual reason. There's a yearly Scrabble tournament where I work, and I had just won the main part of the tournament, and was about to play the "Prometheus Round" against the reigning champion, my boss, Peter. Now, Peter is off-the-charts competitive. I knew he was going to try to psych me out or gain some kind of edge -- and he did try to, with two ploys that came to naught -- so I thought I should make some sort of effort to return the favor, which I did by wearing the most visually distracting outfits I could find. I don't think they're what made the difference, but I did win the playoff, two games to zero. (I'll post the other outfit sometime soon.)

Posted by Francis at 11:43 AM in Ties | Comments (11)

Out-of-control Holy Tango tribute

This person took the full text of "IRS Law Code" from Holy Tango and anagrammed it into three Holy Tango-style poems. ("Sudsers" was actually a title I considered for the book, but my editor and I decided that Dr. Seuss had already had his share of parodies, and there were already enough children's poem pastiches in the book anyway.) Pretty impressive. Anyone got enough free time on their hands to double-check that the anagram works?

Posted by Francis at 09:03 AM | Comments (2)

I know it's not exactly timely, but I'm sure as hell not going to wait until next year to post it

Six things.


Posted by Francis at 02:18 AM in Six Things | Comments (9)