July 31, 2007

Another crossword (not by me)

My recent collaborator, Patrick Blindauer, has another cool crossword in tomorrow's Sun...and it's yet another puzzle that you'll surely have a better time solving if you print out the pdf instead of trying to deal with the Across Lite version. (What can I say, he and I both have a fondness for the complicated gimmicks.) So Patrick asked if I'd host the pdf for him -- which of course I'm happy to. And here it is. Enjoy.

Posted by Francis at 05:32 PM | Comments (1)

July 28, 2007

The Tie Project, days 164-173

When the closet's running down, you wear the shirts that are still around. (Sorry, that's the sort of intro you write when you're listening to a recording of the Police playing Live Earth.) Outfits after the jump, as usual.

Day 164. Both the shirt and tie were gifts from Rose, bought on the same day, although she didn't realize when she was buying them that they would match, and thus had the same experience I often do -- she was unpacking the bag of stuff she'd come home with to show me what she'd found, and she said, well, here's this shirt and this tie and...oh, huh. I agreed that they were a great match. The shirt, amusingly, is a Marlboro shirt. Apparently Marlboro used to make shirts! The clerk said, when Rose bought it, "Oh, all those old Marlboro shirts are great." Is my ongoing quest for Rooster ties going to be joined by a new obsession? We shall see.


Day 165. Not perfect -- the tie has a bit too much white in it -- but I like the matching curlicues (on the white part of the tie and on the shirt pocket) and the similarity of the blue accents in mostly brown color schemes.


Day 166. One of my oldest outfits. I'm pretty sure I've had the tie since high school, though I don't think I acquired the shirt until after college...but in college, I was more about suit jackets or cardigans. So this is probably one of the outfits that started me on my current stylistic path.


Day 167. Now, see, today I learned something new about one of my shirts. I took a picture of the outfit, looked at the photo, and thought, "Oh, hmm, the shirt's at a weird angle. Let me take another one." I straightened the shirt and tie, took another photo, and it still looked crooked. So I went and looked in the mirror -- and discovered that the pattern on this shirt isn't actually vertical! It's on a slight diagonal, which is pretty easy to see once you're looking for it, but which I had completely failed to notice over the years I've owned this shirt. Go figure.


Day 168. Both of these are recent-ish, but neither is especially recent. They haven't gotten worn because they're hard to match. Today I decided they actually kinda went with each other.


Day 169. You take some pink, some blue, some brown, you put them in a food processor, and voila.


Day 170. Another patchwork tie. This shirt does have a collar, I swear, but it's kind of small.


Day 171. Rose made this shirt for me from fabric we picked out together. It's actually been very very very nearly finished for a long time -- just needed the front hemmed and buttons sewn on. I had picked out some swanky blue buttons for it, but Rose made standard size buttonholes (as one would) and it turned out that the buttons I'd bought were too big to fit through them...a fact that, sadly, I did not notice until I'd sewn on four of the buttons and was trying to button the ones I'd sewn on so it would be easier to align the other ones.

The button-sewing incident was last Halloween (I thought I would wear an improvised "aquarium" costume), and it frustrated me enough that the shirt went back in the closet for a while. But today was the Mermaid Parade, and I damn well wanted to wear this shirt, so I decided to try again. I went through a pile of shirts I was getting rid of and cannibalized the buttons from one of them (they're red and semi-transparent -- they match the shirt really well, in fact) and lo and behold, a new shirt! (The front still needs to be hemmed, but that's pretty minor, and I thiiiink the fabric might be busy enough to distract most people from even noticing.)

The tie was a present from my friend Charles, who found it in the hallway of his apartment building. I've worn it once before (on day 29), but the moment he gave it to me, I knew that it was meant to be with this shirt. And at last, its time came.


Day 172. The tie was another gift from Rose. I don't remember where I got the shirt -- it's actually been stuck in the pile of "shirts I might get rid of since I've had them for ages and apparently I never wear them". But I spotted it when I was looking for something to wear with this tie, and thus the shirt was rescued from oblivion. The lesson? Never throw anything away. Sadly, given the state of my apartment, this may not be the best lesson for me to learn.

(You may recognize this outfit from my special crossover episode with the Comics Curmudgeon.)


Day 173. A newish tie with a shirt I've had for ages (and which has previously appeared in the Tie Project, on day 81). I liked this outfit so much that I wore it again, at the recent National Puzzlers' League convention in Ann Arbor, where it figured in an anecdote involving regular commenter Rubrick and our mutual friend NeilFred, a.k.a. Renfield in the NPL. (Here is a visual aid of the three of us.) Renfield and I were chatting, and he remarked that this combination didn't seem quite up to my usual standards. I took mock offense and explained that the busy tie/busy shirt thing isn't the only kind of outfit I like, but still, clearly he thought I had gone a little too conservative today.

Then, about an hour later, a group of us were getting a quick lunch at the mall near the hotel before we all went off to catch our planes, and I was sitting across from Rubrick, who was sitting next to Renfield. Rubrick paused at some point and said, "You know, I've been looking at your shirt and tie, and they're really just amazing together. All the colors match perfectly, and the dots in the tie echo the tiny dots in the stripes on the shirt -- it's a great combination." And I said, "Why, thank you!" very sweetly, as I flipped Renfield off with my right hand. (He then recanted his earlier statement, explaining that Rubrick's praise had helped him see the light. If only all my critics were as willing to listen to reason!)


Next time: I continue, against all logic, to not run out of outfits.

Posted by Francis at 05:00 PM in Ties | Comments (5)

July 26, 2007

Stop, collaborate, and listen

I've got another crossword out this week -- a collaborative effort with Patrick Blindauer -- in tomorrow's Sun. I've seen some blog comments about it already, so I'm posting a day early to let people know that this is not really an ideal puzzle to solve in Across Lite. You kind of want to print this one out, and moreover, you'd be happier printing it out from this pdf instead of printing it with Across Lite.

(Note that the pdf includes the answer to today's puzzle, which you can right-click here to download if you haven't solved it yet and would like to.)

Posted by Francis at 02:48 PM | Comments (2)

Next you'll be telling me we should let black people onto the Corny Collins show

On a par with "not your grandmother's knitting", condescendingnesswise, is the attitude in this review in the New York Times, which is, basically, "Can you believe this edgy TV show was written by girls???"

More than anything else, however, the show has turned heads with its writing, which was unexpected for several reasons. ...they put together a pair of lead characters who most resemble the slacker guys now dominating contemporary film comedy (as in “Knocked Up”).

But the writers themselves are nothing like those guys. In fact they are women.

As Mr. Smith, who knows genuine slacker-guy characters intimately, put it: “I read the script and thought it had loads of potential. But for two chicks to write something like this, that was kind of spellbinding.”

That's some velvety-soft bigotry of low expectations there.

Posted by Francis at 11:14 AM | Comments (8)

July 25, 2007

It's true I said that I wanted to blow my nose all over the Constitution, but I later clarified that statement

The ridiculous spectacle that is Alberto Gonzales continues. Worth reading to the end, I promise.

Posted by Francis at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

July 23, 2007

Single your pleasure, single your fun

Spam of the day, provided below in its entirety:

Wondercum consist of two sets of herbs, one set helps testes to product more sperms.

...and the other one doesn't.

Posted by Francis at 12:15 PM | Comments (7)

July 20, 2007

Are we having impeachability yet?

Because it seems to me that someone could argue that the unconstitutional action of dismantling the system of checks and balances to concentrate total authority in the executive branch was sufficient justification.

Posted by Francis at 03:04 PM | Comments (5)

July 11, 2007

The Tie Project, days 157 to 163

I'm already way behind on posting these -- how behind? well, I just uploaded day 186 from my camera -- so I'd better get some up before I leave town.

Day 157. A skinny, skinny tie. It's not even wide enough to cover the placket of the shirt, for heaven's sake. But whaddaya gonna do? It's the tie that matches the best. As for the shirt, I bought it while I was at last year's National Puzzlers' League convention, in San Antonio. I've always had a soft spot for button-down tie-dyed shirts (I like the casual/formal contrast), but I don't own that many, partly because I don't see them so often, and partly because the ones I do see are in kind of traditional primary rainbow Grateful Dead colors, which aren't exactly my thing. So when I spotted this in El Mercado, with its lovely blue-and-purple color scheme, I had to have it. Turns out the guy who dyed it and sold it to us actually lived in Austin, not San Antonio. I suppose that kind of figures.


Day 158. A study in blues and purples. I own two versions of this tie; you've seen the other one with this outfit.


Day 159. Another tie for the shirt from day 17. Kind of a dead heat as to which one I like better.


Day 160. Today was Lorinne's birthday party, so I wanted a slightly posher outfit than usual. I did already have a tie I was pretty happy with for this shirt, but I felt I needed something a bit glossier this time around, so I went shopping at Century 21 and came back with this.


Day 161. I know I've had this outfit since March 1995, because I remember wearing it to my first crossword tournament. That also happens to be the day I first met Rose (which, I'm sure, also contributes to remembering the outfit -- you'll recall it's because of her I remember wearing day 61's outfit to a tournament a few years later).


Day 162. A somewhat difficult shirt. Hard to match, too big for me, hard to keep the sleeves rolled up. Looks pretty good with this (newish) tie, though.


Day 163. Another old shirt/new tie combo. I bought this shirt (and another one you'll see in a couple weeks) from a street vendor in the East Village back in the '90s. I don't wear either shirt very often, because they're silk, and they're the sort of silk that drives me crazy -- too thin for cold weather, but bad for hot weather too because the fabric doesn't breathe. So there's a very thin window of temperature in which I can wear this shirt, and usually I just don't bother. But then Rose brought home this gorgeous tie for me and there was the shirt, matching it. So what could I do?


Next time: I learn something I didn't know about one of my shirts.

Posted by Francis at 12:39 AM in Ties | Comments (5)

Plugging, and a gap

I'm about to leave town for five days to attend the yearly National Puzzlers' League convention (this year in Ann Arbor), so there is about to be a Type 2 Blogging Lull (the kind where it's not merely that I'm lazy and uninspired). Quickly, then, some amusement for you before I go!

Lorinne and I are regular readers of the Comics Curmudgeon (and we're dorky enough fans that we got our picture taken with him when he was at MOCCA), so we are frequently exposed to a little comic strip called Pluggers, which is sort of like a slight variation on a Jeff Foxworthy routine enacted by animals. Here's a recent strip to give you the idea:


So you see. Anyway, Lorinne is subscribed to all the strips covered by the 'Mudge (I call him that now that we're so close), so she spotted this a few days ago:


The intent is clear, but what the author of Pluggers doesn't know (and L. does) is that of course Hershey has its own version of a Power Bar, thus making this strip into an inadvertent commercial for Hershey's Smart Zone. Be on the lookout for future Pluggers product endorsements: "A plugger's second refrigerator is an ice chest made by Igloo. Igloo ice chests! Cold enough for an anthropomorphic bear...but made for a human."

Oh, wait! Crap! Pluggers has already run a blatant brand endorsement, just this week!


And it's the second go-round for the plastic bag joke. I CANNOT COMPETE WITH THE SELF-PARODY. You win this time, Pluggers.

Posted by Francis at 12:18 AM | Comments (2)

July 10, 2007

Not only did my toothpaste give me a stomachache, but now I feel responsible for another corrupt bureaucrat being shot in the back of the head

I can see why China might want to increase consumer confidence in its exports after poisonous Chinese cough medicine killed over 100 Panamanians (not to mention their responsibility for all these other deadly or semideadly products), but somehow I don't think having the former head of China's Food and Drug Administration executed is going to make Americans more enthused about supporting Chinese industry.

Posted by Francis at 03:55 PM | Comments (3)

July 08, 2007

Stop making senses

Lorinne points me to Prince's 3121 perfume, a fragrance that "tugs at all senses for total captivation." Finally! An opaque, sticky perfume that emits a low hum and tastes like candy.

Posted by Francis at 01:39 PM | Comments (2)

July 07, 2007

Wanted: wizard who knows how to synthesize melatonin

The latest issue of my friend Tarl's online magazine, On the Premises, is now up, with another installment of Six Things by me. Check it out.

Posted by Francis at 12:17 AM in Six Things | Comments (1)

July 05, 2007

Now scoot

Joe points out a quote relevant to the Scooter Libby business:

"I don't believe my role is to replace the verdict of a jury with my own," - George W. Bush on why he signed death warrants for 152 inmates as governor of Texas.

Of course, while on the face of it this quote seems to be at odds with Bush's decision that the judge's sentence of 30 months in prison for Scooter Libby was excessive, what you must remember is that Bush is not governor of Texas anymore. Now he's president, where obviously he feels his role is to change verdicts he disagrees with. Also, he's changing the judge's sentence, not the jury's verdict, although he won't go so far as to admit that Libby is actually guilty, as we can see from this exchange from Tuesday's press conference:

Q: Tony, does the President think that Scooter Libby did, in fact, lie; that a member of the White House staff was, in fact, guilty of these crimes?

MR. SNOW: What he believes is that he was convicted of a jury of his peers.

I guess Bush actually believing demonstrable facts is a step up from his usual M.O.

Posted by Francis at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

The erosion of civil writes

In another anti-worker 5-4 Supreme Court decision, it was recently ruled that businesses have the right to use Comic Sans in company newsletters. I hope Justice Kennedy can live with himself.

Posted by Francis at 11:52 AM | Comments (9)

New proposed national anthem

Yesterday was Independence Day, we are living in our age's most uncertain hour, and today is another working day. Here's to maybe getting our country back from the crazies someday; maybe then we can get some rest.

Posted by Francis at 09:55 AM | Comments (1)

The Tie Project, days 151-156

My week of wearing nothing but solid shirts took its toll on both me and Rose ("Where's the man I married???"), so there was a palpable sense of relief when the Tie Project resumed its normal course.

Day 151. Old shirt, new tie. I have historically worn this shirt with the tie worn on day 153 below. Next time, probably.


Day 152. Another old shirt, new tie combination. I used to wear this shirt with one of the sunflower ties -- I liked the color contrast -- but somehow it wasn't working for me anymore. At least not this day. But I was very pleased with this maroon and tan paisley-on-paisley combo.


Day 153. A lot of brownish pairs in a row. I got this shirt at the Salvation Army in Williamsburg. It has a big rip on one of the sleeves which I didn't notice when I bought it, but it turns you can't see the tear when the sleeve's rolled up.


Day 154. Again with the old shirt, new tie thing. You'll see the other tie I wear with this shirt in a few weeks (I'm a bit behind on posting photos), but I think I like this one better. The colors match really well, and I like the way the tie makes the green in the shirt seem more prominent.


Day 155. Yay, another shirt for my maybe-favorite tie! I forget where I got this Hawaiian shirt, but I love it. It's not vintage Hawaiian (the fabric is wrong), but it's way more comfortable than vintage Hawaiian. Mmmmm, sweet sweet rayon.


Day 156. A new tie for the shirt from day 115. No way to say which combo I prefer. I love them both!


Next time: The world's skinniest tie.

Posted by Francis at 09:39 AM in Ties | Comments (5)

July 02, 2007

If committing crimes to run the government is outlawed, only outlaws will run the government

Bush commuted Libby's sentence. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

(Thanks to Ken for the heads-up.)

Posted by Francis at 06:07 PM | Comments (1)

Cruciverbalists in the house say "ho-oooo"

Saw this in my subway station this weekend:


I guess ping-pong is no longer enough to keep Will Shortz young; now he's moved on to graffiti tagging. I wonder if this will start a tag war in my neighborhood among rival crossword editors. P-GORDO and SHENKY, I'm calling you out!

Posted by Francis at 12:25 PM | Comments (2)

July 01, 2007

Conservatives without masks

Why do neocons think that the majority of the country agrees with them on the issues, when, in public, they disguise what they actually believe? Oh, wait, maybe they don't believe that most people agree with them -- maybe they just don't care, as long as they get to be in charge. Anyway, find out the sort of things they say when they're surrounded by nothing but other neocons here. (You'll need a login -- I used Bugmenot for mine.)

(Thanks to Jon for the link.)

Posted by Francis at 12:05 PM | Comments (3)