May 30, 2007

Notes from all over

If sexual discrimination happens in the forest, and nobody notices until over 180 days have gone by, does it break the law?

It's too late to buy indie rock heartthrob Neko Case's underwear, but you can still enjoy the (NSFW) pictures of said underwear in action.

PhiLOLsophers. These two are my favorites.

Posted by Francis at 07:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2007

The Tie Project, days 128-135

There's been (comparatively) lots of chatter about my ties lately. Columbina -- the lj alias of a friend of mine -- twits me about them here, because he so dearly loves to twit me...although as is his wont, much of the entry itself is rhetoric for its own sake, while the majority of his actual opinions are somewhere in the comments. What I'm trying to say is, don't judge him too harshly for ragging on me. That's just his "thing".

There was also a discussion here, and it seemed more civil than usual, and on the whole more positive than negative, so I commented back.

On to the latest installment.

Day 128. You've seen this shirt before; this is its first time with this it would have to be, as it's this tie's first time with any shirt. There's a little bit of color matching, but mostly the thing that makes this shirt and tie match is that the colors have the exact same luminosity. (Also the spirals in the tie echo the paisleys in the shirt.)


Day 129. The tie is the second of a pair of different colorways of the same fabric pattern. I always enjoy finding the same tie (or shirt) twice in different color schemes. (Naturally this is only noteworthy when one or both of the garments are bought used, since such shirts are often right next to each other on the rack when new -- where's the challenge in that?)


Day 130. This one just didn't work, and it seemed so promising. All the colors of the shirt are in the tie, and the tie even has a bit of the marbled effect of the shirt. I think the problem is that the tie's just too dark -- it needs more white in it, like the shirt. And I think the geometric pattern vs. the paisley pattern isn't helping either.

Now, I've worn this shirt before, and I feel pretty sure that whatever tie I wore with it, I liked the combo more than this one...but I can't for the life of me remember what tie that was. That's one of the reasons I started this project, actually -- so I wouldn't forget a combination, as I sometimes do.


Day 131. Another shirt you've seen before; today I'm wearing it with a lovely tie that Rose made me (out of some fabric that had been donated to the Church of Craft). Our friend Mary used the rest of the fabric to line a knitting needle case.


Day 132. Now this outfit goes waaaaay back. I definitely wore it in 1997 (though I've had it even longer) to the National Puzzlers' League in Washington D.C., which I remember because there's a story attached to it. A group of us were having dinner, and my friend and fellow puzzlemaker Trip Payne was sitting across from me. At some point he did a double-take and said, "You're wearing a tie!" Moments later he did a triple-take and added, "And a vest!" I believe it was at that point that I described what I was wearing as a "stealth tie".

Nowadays, of course, this outfit doesn't get much play because I've mostly given up wearing vests. But I am a completist, so:


Day 133. A new combination. I don't think it comes off as well in the photo as it did in real life.


Day 134. Hawaiian shirts are always a challenge to match. This tie isn't quite perfect, but it does match the colors in the shirt pretty well. It sort of looks like the shirt pattern after a few seconds in a blender.


Day 135. I've had this tie since high school. Back then I would have been wearing it with an Oxford shirt, though. Anyway, the thing I particularly like about this combo is how both the shirt and tie have similar star-shaped patterns in them: you can see an eight-pointed one in the upper left of the shirt and a six-pointed one in the upper right of the tie.


And thus we reach the end of another installment of the Tie Project. Can't believe it's still going on? Tune in next time, when your incredulity will only increase.

Posted by Francis at 04:07 AM in Ties | Comments (2)

May 24, 2007

A place where "end of term" is an ambiguous phrase

I had no idea there was any such thing as "pregnancy schools". Now that I know about them, I'm surprised they lasted this long.

Posted by Francis at 12:44 PM | Comments (4)

May 23, 2007


Two painful things happened today. First, a bicyclist ran over my foot while I was crossing the street. (He was going the wrong direction on a one-way street, so I didn't see him coming.) Second, I went to a poetry reading.

To be fair, many of the poets might have been perfectly fine, but the acoustics in the restaurant made it nigh impossible to hear anyone, especially the woman who eschewed the microphone completely, for reasons that were opaque to me. On the bright side, my friend Aaron, who was why I was in attendance in the first place, was good -- and I do always enjoy hearing poetry read by someone who is a trained actor and knows how to give shape to a text, unlike most poets.

Anyway, I bring this all up because, before the poetry reading, Aaron (who works by day as a personal trainer) mentioned that he'd been invited to read this evening by someone at his gym, and that he believed there may be other fellow gym workers reading as well. This inspired me to write a set of Personal Trainer Haiku, which I present to you now.

Left bicep, thicker
Than the right one. Your workout
Is asymmetric.

Remember the ant,
Industrious and strong, and
Give me one more rep.

Lightning fells the oak,
Brush fires destroy a year's crops.
You've pulled a muscle.

Footprints tracked through the
Powdered steroid supplement
Spilled in the lockers

Like a fat bullfrog
The weightlifter is grunting
More than he needs to

Sun beams through thin clouds.
He pulls down his baseball cap
And starts the treadmill.

One stalk leaning east
In a wheat field blown westward.
First day in step class.

Lorinne also felt inspired to contribute a haiku to the effort:

The crow balances,
Top-heavy, rigid, and -- damn!
Still can't hold that pose.

Perhaps you would like to write some as well? The comment thread beckons.

Posted by Francis at 01:13 AM | Comments (9)

May 19, 2007

Chips ahoy

Pringles is currently running a promotion that has something to do with American Idol (apparently there's a contest to win tickets to the final episode of the season). Anyway, they've done this by associating different flavors of Pringles with different genres of music:


Original Pringles = rock. Okay. I think we can broadly say that if one had to pick a default genre of popular music, rock would fit the bill reasonably well.

Sour Cream and Onion = pop. This connection is less obvious. Maybe because onions make you cry, and pop music nowadays is all overdramatic and weepy (at least in the melisma-heavy American Idol version)?

Note that the rock Pringles weigh more than the pop Pringles, perhaps in a nod to the fact that rock is "heavier" than pop. Also, you can rock out without opening your mouth, based on my admittedly unscientific analysis of the Pringles dudes at the top of the cans.


Barbecue = country. Pretty safe choice there.

Cheddar Cheese = R&B. Again, strange. What are they trying to say about R&B? "You're sharp, but cheesy." If I were R&B, I'd feel a little insulted.

Country and R&B don't even require a mouth, apparently. The country-singing Pringles guy looks kind of smug, so I assume he's performing some number from the Toby Keith-style yay-for-Republican-America wing of country music. R&B Pringles man is winking at us, in a futile attempt to inject a little flirtiness into his sexless mien.

Anyway, I thought, why don't the other Pringles flavors have their own genres of music? So I decided to remedy this.

Loaded Baked Potato: Loaded? Baked? What else but jam bands?
JalapeƱo: This one is kind of a softball. Salsa.
Chili Cheese: Tricky. I'm going to go with the lame pun and say that chili = chill-out music, so: trip-hop.
Pizza: You're in college and don't have the money for anything besides fast food. Totally emo.
Ranch: Oh, they already used country. Bluegrass, then.
Salt and Vinegar: Umm...sea chanteys!
Bacon Ranch: Damn you, Pringles, with your mysterious love for ranch dressing. I got nothin'. By association with Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!, I'm going to say Broadway show tunes.
Spicy Guacamole: Hmm. Already used salsa. What the hell: reggaeton.

But what about flavors from the U.K.?

Paprika: Bollywood musicals, naturally.
Cheese and Onions: Beatles parody bands.
Cheesy Cheese: Smooth jazz.
Light Red Pepper With a Touch of Olive Extract: Tasteful classical guitar music for playing in restaurants.
Light Greek Style Cheese with a touch of Avocado Oil: Bouzouki.
Sea Salt and Black Pepper: Earnest protest songs played to a room full of people who agree with the musician.
Tiger Prawn and Crushed Garlic: Gamelan.
Flame-Grilled Steak and Caramelised Onion: Stag movie soundtracks.
Smoked Bacon: I guess something needs to be hip-hop, right? Smoked bacon, as the least inappropriate choice thus far, you get to be hip-hop.
Thai Sweet Chilli and Lemongrass: Paul Simon appropriating some ethnic music or other.

Posted by Francis at 01:43 AM | Comments (5)

May 16, 2007

Go thou and amuse thyself

My friend Trip recently unveiled his new website, which features a whole bunch of free puzzles. I'm particularly fond of the Something Different puzzles (which live on in the New York Sun as Wacky Weekend Warriors).

If you prefer picture puzzles, but still want your puzzles to come in hyperlink form and be created by people I know, you might be interested in Heidi Cody's website. She's an artist, not a puzzlemaker, but a puzzler's first reaction on seeing American Alphabet will naturally be to try to figure out what logo each letter is taken from. For a harder challenge, try the unproduced British version.

Posted by Francis at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2007

The Post, now with even less space allotted for news

The doughnut cart where I frequently buy my unhealthy breakfast snacks also sells the New York Post, which means that for a week now I've been seeing their newest cover promotion: "25 Cents: The Post, the way you like it!" I can't help hearing this in a Brooklyn accent, with the extended version of the slogan playing out thus: "The New York Post. Awwww yeah, you like it like that, don't you? Yeah, the New York Post gives it to you right. Come on, baby, don't cry. You know I only hit you because I care about you. Why else do you keep coming back? That's right. You love it. Now come on over here and give me a quarter."

Posted by Francis at 12:44 PM | Comments (0)

Please donate to the Cartoonists' Short-Term Memory Loss Fund

Jon points out these two cartoons, which ran within a week of each other:

Cartoon one
Cartoon two

Possible reasons this may have happened:

1) The cartoonist is trying to establish a recurring character, and this is that character's catchphrase.
2) The cartoonist realized the phrasing of the joke in the first cartoon didn't work, and decided to write a version that made more sense (and to do it promptly before he forgot about it).
3) The cartoonist has found a way to make people who don't even read his cartoon blog about it.

Posted by Francis at 12:12 PM | Comments (4)

Another person I peripherally know continues to make good

Hey! Jonathan Coulton is featured in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Awesome.

Posted by Francis at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

This just in: Mormon thinks I dress like a freak

Suffice it to say I don't feel too bad taking heat for my sartorial choices from someone who spent two years dressing like this. Clearly he and I come from different planets.

Posted by Francis at 12:33 AM | Comments (10)

May 13, 2007

The Tie Project, days 120 to 127

I've been a bit lazy about updating...but of course you realize when I'm not updating the blog, I'm constantly thinking about how I should be updating the blog, so it's not like I'm actually getting a reprieve. Anyway: ties.

Day 120. This tie and the tie from day 119 were bought on the same day, at the Chelsea flea market. We were browsing upstairs in the indoor area (in the parking garage) and Rose called me over to say, hey, there are two ties over here you should probably take a look at -- although, knowing how the Chelsea flea market prices its vintage clothes, we both figured any decent ties would probably be exorbitantly expensive. But as it happened, the seller specialized in other things besides clothes, so they were only charging five bucks per tie. Sweet.


Day 121. I really like the texture of this tie -- it's grainy in a way that makes it look like the ovals were cut from wooden dowels.


Day 122. Today I was really just looking for something to wear this tie with, since I liked it and hadn't worn it yet. The shirt does have some orange in it, but I don't think the combo worked especially well.


Day 123. This outfit is all about brown specks on black backgrounds.


Day 124. Rose and I were attending a wedding today, hence the fancy suit -- which I got off the giveaway rack at Cargo, back when I was a copy editor there. I know, I couldn't believe it either. And it fits me perfectly, which just goes to show that there are benefits to being average size. (There are drawbacks, too, mainly that whenever I find a pair of pants I like, there's a very good chance my size will be sold out.)


Day 125. Two never-worn items: shirt from Filene's Basement (the last one from that now-kinda-long-ago shopping trip) and tie from the 7th Avenue flea market in Park Slope, I believe. I'm very pleased with this combination.


Day 126. This outfit is a repeat of day 2, but I hadn't quite gotten the hang of the self-photography then, so the photo I took of it is pretty crappy. Since then, I have learned that indirect light is my friend. So, here it is again, but prettier.


Day 127. People periodically break the Social Interaction With Strangers wall to tell me they like my outfits; this combo is one of the most reliable for eliciting that response. Not sure why this one is so well-loved in particular, but it is pretty fun: orange Escher fish and big shiny orange fisheye-looking dealies.


Next week: another experiment I wasn't fully pleased with, and the outfit which (I believe) spawned the phrase "stealth tie".

Posted by Francis at 02:01 AM in Ties | Comments (6)

May 09, 2007

I know some of you are probably still working on the one from Friday

...but there's another crossword by me in this week's Onion, not as cruel as Friday's sun puzzle, but even less restrained with the pop culture references. Download it as a Word document or an Across Lite file here, or solve it online in an awkward applet here. (Still don't have Across Lite? Click to make with the download.)

Posted by Francis at 01:35 AM | Comments (5)

May 07, 2007

Another reason Bill Clinton continues to be awesome

He just cowrote a crossword with Cathy Millhauser.

Posted by Francis at 10:25 AM | Comments (2)

May 05, 2007

Girls! Aren't they wacky?

Submitted for your disapproval: a synopsis of a 1964 comic book in which female superheroes lose it and decide to kill their male counterparts. The culprit? Hypnotic suggestion from the planet, um, "Femnaz". It makes me rethink all my ideas about when the word "Feminazi" was coined.

Posted by Francis at 05:30 PM | Comments (0)

Fakin' in the Fifties

Here's an amusing prop letter from an episode of Leave It to Beaver, from the days before everyone had the ability to freeze-frame TV shows.

(Thanks to Jon for the link!)

Posted by Francis at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2007

Midnight Sun

Today's New York Sun crossword (entitled Letterbox Version) is by me. Right-click to download the zip file, then open the resulting file in Across Lite. I recommend printing this one out on paper before solving.


(Also note: spoilers in the comments.)

Posted by Francis at 12:31 AM | Comments (6)

Who doesn't like making crap up?

Come up with a sufficiently real-sounding epigraph and you could win a limited-edition copy of a nonexistent book. My entry seems (I hope) portentous at first glance, then completely pointless upon reflection:

"The end is always near...but never near enough." -- Clemson Ethersby

(Thanks to Scott for the link!)

Posted by Francis at 12:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2007

The Tie Project, days 114 to 119

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our ties.

Day 114. At times in the past when people have asked me to describe the things I like to wear, I've said "quiet but loud", which is to say, busy patterns in subdued colors (like day 117 below). I think that description has gotten less and less apt over the years. This is a pretty vivid combo, for instance; I particularly like the way the shirt and the tie have the same blue highlights.


Day 115. I don't remember when I bought either of these, although I think they were bought during the Boerum Hill years, when I acquired a really big closet for the first time and my wardrobe expanded prodigiously, unconstrained by East Village-size closet proportions.


Day 116. I love this outfit. It feels very nocturnal. The shirt and the tie are both from Daffy's; I think the shirt may be from the trip on which I first discovered Daffy's and the wonders therein.


Day 117. I like that both patterns are rectilinear, but at 45 degree angles to each other. The yellow, gray, and what would you call that reddish color? carmine? are especially good matches.


Day 118. Another shirt from Daffy's. Everybody say it with me: "I usually wear this shirt with another tie, but I couldn't find it, so I went with one of the backups." It'll turn up eventually. The other tie makes the shirt seem more subdued, while this one makes it seem brighter.


Day 119. I believe this may be my most popular combination ever. I wore this to Erin's party of nothing but fabulous people, and almost every single person came up to me at some point and said how much they liked it. One woman recognized me from earlier in the day -- we'd passed each other in opposite directions walking along Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn -- because she remembered my outfit. I was feeling pretty chuffed by the end of the evening.


One of the brilliant party attendees was Brad Paley, who had brought along copies of a chart he'd designed showing interconnections between different branches of science (mapped by noting when the same reference was cited in two different papers from different disciplines). A version of the chart can be seen here, although the one he brought was more colorful -- and, he noted, kind of matched my shirt as well.

Posted by Francis at 12:31 AM in Ties | Comments (4)