February 28, 2007

Use your bean

Jay Is Games is having their second flash game design competition, and as far as I'm concerned, the other games will have to be pretty darn awesome to beat Sprout, a simple but elegant (and droll, I thought) mini-adventure game.

Posted by Francis at 09:56 PM | Comments (8)

February 27, 2007

The hideous tie exhibition

Welcome, Gawkers. I wouldn't use the word "hideous" myself (given that I wear all these outfits), but I'm accustomed to being the most liberal person in the room, either politically or sartorially, so, ah well.

Posted by Francis at 06:29 PM in Ties | Comments (5)

February 26, 2007

The Tie Project, days 62-67

Onward and tieward.

Day 62. Rose bought this tie for me on her recent trip to San Francisco. She said it was the one good tie in the used clothing store she went to, and it was the first one she spotted (from a distance, yet). Good eye! The shirt looks sort of plain at first glance, but it's actually a lovely multicolored weave, with yellow, blue, and red threads (among other colors), that work together to give an overall dusty pink effect.


Day 63. Another solid shirt, but I love the color. The tie is handmade, although not by Rose. I bought it used, but it's clearly not mass-produced.


Here's the full outfit, with sweater:


Day 64. I just cut straight to wearing the combo with the sweater this time. Another solid shirt! Crazy. I bought this shirt at Daffy's after deciding that I needed a few more shirt options for events where I wanted to be a little more conventionally dressed up, but still didn't want to be wearing something drab -- hence a shopping trip for solid but appealingly colored shirts.


Day 65. Flowers! Patterns that I favor generally tend toward the non-representative, but I often make exceptions for flowers.


Day 66. This is the shirt from day 52, with the tie that typically accompanies it (another Rooster).


Day 67. Special action shot, taken at a party! Shirt is from Daffy's, and the gorgeous Duchamp tie was my Valentine's Day present from Lorinne. I'll have to redo this shot later with better lighting, but I think it adequately documents the fabulousness:


Posted by Francis at 11:18 PM in Ties | Comments (4)

February 25, 2007

And I bet that some of the people who buy these still think that the human race is too sophisticated to have evolved from apes

Rose re-pointed me to an article I saw on Boing Boing, about a Maryland legislator who wants to ban fake testicles that hang from trailer hitches. Now, being a New Yorker, I haven't seen any of these personally, but I have read about them before. Still, reading about them isn't the same as seeing them, and it was this impulse that made Rose track down the website associated with a fellow quoted in the article: "David Ham, founder of Your Nutz, a San Diego-based business that sells more than 200 kinds of fake testicles."

Let us pause and reflect on that number. More than 200 kinds. Of fake testicles.

Of course, not all of those are for trucks. Some are for keychains...which seems even weirder. At least I understand the visual pun of putting a ball sack on a truck. "My truck is so macho it has testicles! Ha ha! Now let's shoot or drink something." But fake nuts on a keychain? That seems to be saying "yay for balls!" more than anything else. Which is certainly a sentiment held by a certain segment of the population, but those aren't the people I would expect to be shopping at this website. Anyway, let's take a look at some of the other items on offer.

You'll be the "Bell of the Ball" with these. Are they meant to actually be used as cowbells? I have no idea.

These light up in multiple colors, just like real testicles!

Earring nuts. Because earlobes aren't fleshy and dangly enough.

If you ever get bored of pretending your truck is a big ol' studly dog or whatever, liven things up by pretending your truck is a big ol' studly dog that has been kissed on the balls by a human female.

Show your patriotism (and your dedication to the idea that our elected leaders shouldn't be getting any) with Red, White, and Blue Balls.

Here's a list of some of the more fanciful-sounding colors available, many of which sound more like they should be nail polish shades than descriptions of vehicular genitalia:

Sun Kissed Sienna
Sophisticated Black Granite
Cocoa Brown
Dark Forest
Clear Ghost
Purple Fog

Finally, here are two models of camouflage testicles, one with a POW ribbon and one with a yellow "Support the Troops" ribbon. It's nice that they offer crass people a way to voice their support for our soldiers, but why aren't there also testicles for people who want to protest the war? Where are the Abu Ghraib truck testicles with realistic plastic electrodes?

So those are the sort of products that Mr. Myers wishes to ban. An ACLU spokesperson said, by way of criticizing the proposed legislation, "The solution to speech we don't like is more speech." I agree with that, although I'm not sure what form that speech would take that wouldn't involve using the word "testicles" at some point, which seems like the sort of thing that would also upset Mr. Myers. Maybe bumper stickers that say, "Prevent overcrowded roads -- neuter your truck today."

Personally, I think the legislation is silly. But I think we can all agree that chrome-plated scrotums should not be displayed in our children's libraries.

Posted by Francis at 11:03 AM | Comments (5)

February 22, 2007

Oh, grow some stones, why don't you

If you don't read For Better or For Worse or the Comics Curmudgeon, you'll have missed the whole tedious plot where Michael wrote a book which was accepted by the first publisher he sent it to (unsolicited, without an agent). And you'll certainly have missed this list of self-parodied-for-your-convenience potential titles for that book.

Posted by Francis at 09:40 AM | Comments (2)

February 20, 2007

The Tie Project, days 57-61

The backlog continues.

Day 57. Another contrasting combo. (The tie was a birthday gift from my friend Mary, received at the same party where I got the Oscar the Grouch tie.) I like the way the keys on the tie cause the design elements on the shirt to start looking like keyholes.


Day 58. Same shirt as day 41; this is the other tie I wear with it.


Day 59. This is one of those Central American shirts you buy at street fairs. Or I do, anyway.


Day 60. This shirt was another gift from Erin. It's a bit hard to see, but there are little occult-looking symbols inside the circles on the shirt, which I think go nicely with the background pattern of the tie.


Day 61. I loooove this shirt. Which is why I'm willing to put up with the fact that it needs to be hand-washed. The tie is a favorite as well. I remember this outfit elicited a compliment from Rose one year when I was wearing it at the crossword tournament, well before we started dating each other.


Posted by Francis at 01:18 AM in Ties | Comments (1)

February 19, 2007

Things I have put in my mouth

More novelty beverages, also from Kalustyan's, land of wonderful and mysterious things.

Rose Drink:


This tasted...very perfumy and very very sweet. I'm fond of desserts with rose water in them, but I'm not likely to get this again, because I don't really like that much sugariness to my beverages. (It's why I hardly ever drink soda.) Well, I take that back. I don't like too much sugariness to my beverages unless I'm drinking coffee, in which case I usually want all the sugar there is on the table, and one more packet please.

Basil Seed Drink With Honey:


This one I really liked. The consistency is very similar to bubble tea. It looks like it's going to be gloppy, but it's actually pretty light and refreshing. The flavor is hard to pin down. I guess it's what basil seed and honey tastes like.

Posted by Francis at 03:43 PM | Comments (5)

Heaneyland: Giving the people what they can take or leave since 2003

It's a little late for Valentine's Day, but I have Red Roses for you! A mash-up, that is, entitled "Red Roses", which I'm posting even though no one commented on the last one and so for all I know, everyone is totally bored by my mash-ups and wishes I would just go back to drawing Six Things already.

"Red Roses" (click through for download link)

Vocals: Peter Gabriel, "Red Rain"
Music: The Stone Roses, "I Wanna Be Adored"

Posted by Francis at 01:31 PM | Comments (7)

February 18, 2007

Look upon the 80s, you gen Xers, and despair

Debby sent me a link to this delightfully dead-on parody of '80s videos from the movie Music and Lyrics. Blame Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and his unearthly skill at writing hooks for getting it stuck in your head. There are also lots of other entertaining '80s-style videos linked in the comments, including "Let's Go to the Mall" (basically "if Tiffany were Canadian"), Stephen and the Colberts' "Charlene (I'm Right Behind You)", and David Brent's cover of "If You Don't Know Me By Now".

If that isn't already too much '80s nostalgia for you, this last link will, I promise, finish you off. It's an honest-to-god new wave cover of Lipps Inc.'s "Funkytown". I know. Use with caution:

Pseudo Echo: "Funkytown" (click through for download link)

Posted by Francis at 12:36 AM | Comments (2)

February 17, 2007

Be sure to pay close attention to my clever misdirection, as the bad magician said

Just got a spam whose "from" field read "%CUSTOM_FROMS". Forgot to customize that FROM, did you, Mr. Spammer?

Posted by Francis at 01:25 PM | Comments (1)

The Tie Project, days 52-56

I've been building up quite a backlog. I think I'm going to have to break the photos up into multiple entries.

Day 52. This is an all-vintage-items-which-I-paid-slightly-too-much-for outfit. The shirt came from a used clothing store just south of Canal which I've only ever been in once, because everything was overpriced. I liked this shirt enough to pay the surcharge, however. The tie is a recent purchase with a similar backstory; it's from a vintage store in the West Village. They had tons of Rooster ties there, but at those prices, I could only bring myself to buy one, and this was my favorite. I have another tie I usually wear with this shirt, but I was looking for an excuse to wear the new tie.


Day 53. A longstanding combo. The tie is one of a batch of ties that I bought from an old roommate of mine, Kenny. He owned a bunch of vintage ties which he'd inherited or acquired in some other fashion from a relative. He didn't so much wear them, and I obviously coveted them, so he offered to sell them to me. He didn't let me pick and choose (I paid a flat rate for the whole batch), but it was worth it, especially since he sold them to me ridiculously cheaply (about $3 a tie, I think).


Day 54. The sunflowers-on-sunflowers combo is a little much even for me in its unmediated form, so I generally wear it with a plain sweater vest to break it up a bit. I actually have a tie which is the exact same sunflower fabric as the shirt, but I never wear it with the shirt. Where's the challenge in that? But it amuses me to own it.


Day 55. I'm not crazy about the two-pocketed safari style that this shirt has going on, but I love the pattern, which goes especially well with this tie that Rose made me a while back. (I believe this is the first tie she made me, in fact.)


Day 56. A old and somewhat tame combo, but I'm fond of it, perhaps because the colors in it are somewhat underrepresented in my wardrobe.


More soon.

Posted by Francis at 02:32 AM in Ties | Comments (6)

February 15, 2007

This probably has something to do with all the teasing he endured in grade school about his last name

Great moments in "Well, I guess that does logically follow, then":

In a radio interview, former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway said he wouldn't want a gay teammate on his team, and that if he knew a teammate was gay he would "distance himself from him." The radio host replied that this was "flatly homophobic." Hardaway responded, "Well, you know, I hate gay people."

Posted by Francis at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)

Nor will they publish Garfield comics, because they revere cats and disapprove of seeing them depicted as gluttonous and lazy

An Egyptian publisher has recalled a book which allegedly "offends religion". Goodness! Well, obviously, you can't let that happen! How did a book like that slip through the cracks? The publisher explains: "We do not normally read all the books we publish."

Posted by Francis at 12:33 AM | Comments (2)

February 14, 2007

Next up: Scotch tape hacks

Eric writes, "I saw this on Boing Boing and had to make sure I hadn't wandered back into your parody site." Indeed.

Posted by Francis at 07:38 PM | Comments (1)

February 11, 2007

And now if you'll just picture the young Paul McCartney wearing thick black eyeliner

Here's that mashup I've been working on. Part of me wants to keep fiddling with volume levels and making infinitesimal rhythm edits for another week, but the rest of me has successfully told that part to get a grip already.

"Kiss Me, Eleanor" (click through for download link)

Music: The Cure, "The Kiss"
Lyrics: The Beatles, "Eleanor Rigby"

I recently found a new (to me) site for mash-up source materials, and this homemade "Eleanor Rigby" acapella (made from a Dolby 5.1 DVD, I believe -- apparently vocal tracks are often isolated on one channel of a Dolby mix) was one of them. Hearing the song without instrumentation, I was newly struck by just how bleak it is. The arrangement is so lovely, though, that it sort of ameliorates the effect of the lyrics and makes the song seem more melancholy. I thought it'd be interesting to combine the lyrics with music that plays up the dark, filled-with-existential-angst undertones. Hope you like it.

Posted by Francis at 03:02 AM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2007

I awoke this morning from uneasy dreams to find my website transformed into an MP3 blog

Kid Beyond's comment reminding me of Elvis Costello's 1979 Grammy defeat at the hands of A Taste of Honey for Best New Artist got me thinking about Elvis, of whom I've been a rabid fan since I was, what, 16?, thanks to one of my theatre teachers, Miss McCarthy (who lent me her cassettes of "My Aim Is True" and "Next Year's Model"), and other bad influences like Vardibidian (who also helped get me an early start on XTC and the English Beat). The thing is, I've actually gone a bit off Elvis this past year, I think mostly because of irritation with the way he releases too many albums.

Of course, this is slightly false, because I'd love it if he did nothing but release albums I really liked. And of the past three albums he's released, I have liked two -- particularly The Delivery Man, which was a solid combination of Elvis's love of both country music and heavy distortion (King of America + Blood and Chocolate, if you want the high-concept version). But then it got rereleased in a "special edition" with extra tracks and a bonus CD, and I felt like, goddamnit, why am I being punished for buying the album promptly? Why not release the bonus material on a separate CD, like he did with When I Was Cruel? It left me so annoyed that I honestly haven't really listened much to that CD since.

After that, the art-jazz live album My Flame Burns Blue left me kind of cold, although the rearrangements of songs like "Clubland" and "Watching the Detectives" were interesting. I did enjoy his collaboration with Allen Toussaint, but on some of the songs Elvis contributed to the album, I felt like I wanted to ask him nicely if he might consider conserving syllables so that future generations might still have them someday. Here's some perspective from a fellow blogger that reflects a similar state of mind.

Anyway, I think I may have worked through my conflicted feelings and be ready to like Elvis Costello again. Which got me rooting around in my folders of rare Elvis MP3s to see if there were any goodies there worth sharing. First off, here's a demo track from an album of songs that Elvis wrote for Wendy James, ex-lead singer of Transvision Vamp (no, I hadn't heard of them either). She wrote Elvis asking for his advice about what to do with her suddenly-not-in-a-band-and-I'm-not-really-a-songwriter solo career, and he responded by writing an album's worth of songs for her in a weekend (some cowritten with his ex, Cait O'Riordan). Unfortunately, James's recordings of the songs are a little flat, but the songs themselves are good stuff -- Elvis puts out so much heavily-thought-out material that it's a nice change to hear what he comes up with when he decides to just bash something out real quick-like. Here's one of the demos from that album:

"Fill in the Blanks" (click through for download link)

This next song was the subject of much confusion for me for a long time. You see, I taught myself to play guitar mostly by learning songs from Elvis Costello's Singing Dictionary, which included all the songs from his first five albums...and one other song I'd never heard of, "That's What Friends Are For" (emphatically not the Dionne Warwick song). I had to wait until the Internet came around to find out that Elvis never actually recorded this song; he wrote it for Georgie Fame (or perhaps he had already written the song but decided he wasn't crazy about it so he gave it away? I'm not sure). So, no Elvis demo of this one, since none exists that I know of, but here's the Georgie Fame recording:

"That's What Friends Are For" (click through for download link)

Posted by Francis at 01:54 AM | Comments (5)

February 08, 2007

I only want to see your blog slapped with a takedown notice in the purple rain

I'm working on a new mashup, but until that one's finished, here's an old one (in honor of Prince's Super Bowl performance):

"Your Superfunkicalimagination" (click through for download link)

Music: Prince
Vocals: Brian Wilson

Posted by Francis at 12:42 PM | Comments (1)

February 07, 2007

Tell me more about this earth emotion you call "liking Maroon 5"

Here's a quick little quiz for you. Match these losing Grammy nominees for Best New Artist:

1) The Pretenders
2) Indigo Girls
3) Belly
4) Fountains of Wayne
5) Alanis Morissette
6) Eurythmics
7) Green Day
8) The Go-Go's
9) Fiona Apple

...to the performers that beat them:

A) Sheryl Crow
B) Evanescence
C) Culture Club
D) Milli Vanilli
E) Hootie and the Blowfish
F) Paula Cole
G) Christopher Cross
H) Sheena Easton
I) Toni Braxton

Not all of those upsets are as egregious as others, obviously -- and a couple are virtual toss-ups -- but most years none of the nominees are any good (1988 is particularly awful). Or then there are the years where I just have to agree that, yes, Cyndi Lauper did deserve that award more than Frankie Goes to Hollywood did.

Answers follow, printed in the same color as the background, so highlight the text to read.


Posted by Francis at 05:05 PM | Comments (8)

Because New York pedestrians are already so good at obeying traffic laws

New York state senator Carl Kruger suggests that crossing the street while talking on a cell phone or wearing an iPod be subject to a $100 fine.

Kruger says three pedestrians in his Brooklyn district have been killed since September upon stepping into traffic while distracted by an electronic device. In one case bystanders screamed "watch out" to no avail.

Or maybe people should just learn to look where the hell they're going when they step into the middle of the street, I don't know.

Actually, the article is unclear about just what it is Kruger aims to ban. The lede dangles the threat of an iPod ban in front of you, but then the article goes on to say Kruger "will introduce legislation on Wednesday to ban the use of gadgets such as Blackberry devices and video games while crossing the street," which is a little different. Anyway, the best part of the article is when the anonymous author veers far far away from a neutral viewpoint:

Tech-consuming New Yorkers trudge to work on sidewalks and subways like an army of drones, appearing to talk to themselves on wireless devices or swaying to seemingly silent tunes.

It's nice that they still let cranky old people write news articles. I'm sure it makes a nice change from waving their canes at the kids on the lawn.

(Thanks to Alan for the link.)

Posted by Francis at 04:25 PM | Comments (1)

February 05, 2007

Various and sundry words to live by, possibly paraphrased

"A metaphor is when you say one thing and mean something else...but you're not lying." (from Gutenberg! The Musical!)

"Truth is not a sugar-coated unicorn omelet served by Mandy Patinkin." (from Friday night's Life in a Blender concert)

Did you not go to the Life in a Blender show on Friday? That is because I forgot to tell you about it. Not that you would have gone anyway, probably, because so often people do not do what I say, even though it is so obviously what they should do. But they are having another show on Thursday, where they will be selling their new CD, which I would try to peer pressure you into buying right now if there were any websites that had it for sale.

Posted by Francis at 01:25 AM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

Perhaps it's all part of some grand scheme to make Kerry look like a less crappy campaigner

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the next nonpresident of the United States, Joe Biden.

Posted by Francis at 09:08 AM | Comments (5)

I don't look forward to a future filled with guys bragging about their bandgirth

Rose points me to a comparison of the data transmission rates of a cable modem and a penis. Penises fare pretty well, which probably opens up a whole new world of cheesy future pickup lines. Rose suggests "Hey, baby, information wants to be free" as an argument from a skeevy guy trying to talk someone into letting him not use a condom.

Posted by Francis at 02:15 AM | Comments (2)