Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fueling the Economy / Fuel Conservation

My fat, fat income tax refund should be arriving electronically any day now, and I don't think I'm going to have a difficult time spending it.

The gods of the music industry have conspired against me by re-issuing and releasing exciting new albums from several of my favorites, all within a period of a few weeks. And of course, steadfast reviewers AllMusic have given them all highly favorable ratings.

I've still got to pick up Ray Davies' "Other People's Lives," which is, shockingly, his first true solo album since the Kinks. And I should probably snag the new Howe Gelb and Neko Case discs, too, to get my twisted alt-country groove on.

Then I've got the new Flaming Lips this Tuesday, and the new Calexico the following week, both of which sound amazing. And then I just read today that David Byrne and Brian Eno are releasing a remastered and expanded disc of "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts," which I'll probably end up getting, too.

I wish I didn't like music so much.

Or, realistically, I wish music wasn't so expensive to like so much.

I'm pretty sure I can muster the self-restraint to not buy all of these things at the same time ... pretty sure. But if I do, it's OK. 'Cause hey, it's tax refund money. And I've already used it for something good.

TerraPass is a nifty little program I read about over on TreeHugger. It's basically a way for your average consumers to get in on that whole carbon-credit thing ... you know, the one that pretty much stopped the acid rain in the Adirondacks?

Anyway, you figure out how much CO2 your car is probably gonna spew out this year, and then you can buy in to the TerraPass credits, which ultimately go to fund renewable energy projects and industrial efficiency programs.

And it's pretty cheap. My Honda only cost $40 for the year, which is way, way cheaper than buying a new hybrid. And you get a window decal, which you can use to guilt other drivers. Awesome.

So hey, if you want to spend a lil' ol' fraction of your refund on something that'll make you feel good, head on over to the fine folks at TerraPass.

And if you want to get scared shitless about global warming, read the latest Time.
that one guy you know, 1:18 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 0 comments |

Friday, March 24, 2006

"It's Probably a Crack Head"

It is stories like this that make me think I could lead an extremely fufilling life as a local news producer.

Check this story out, and let us know what your favorite part is. There is oh so much to choose from.


that one guy you know, 11:31 AM | | | | | | | | | | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The New York Times Says Beards Are "In"

Rachel sent me this article from that most venerable of news sources, the New York Times.

It's a pretty funny read. You know, for the Times. It's got some pretty good quotes in here, too. There's one guy who says his beard is like "a security blanket on (his) face," and the image of a beard-off between the offices of Spin and Vice magazines is great, too.

But if those fucking hipsters start growing beards as some sort of bullshit, ironic trucker-hat statement, there's gonna be a throw down.

Beards of this kind, however, are completely cool with me.


March 23, 2006
Paul Bunyan, Modern-Day Sex Symbol


LAST December John Martin sat in on a focus group for a
trend-forecasting company at which young professionals were asked
about their grooming habits. Mr. Martin found he had nothing useful to
contribute. His shaving regimen involves the use of a razor about as
frequently as the seasons change.

"Everyone else was chiming in about the products they use," said Mr.
Martin, the advertising director for Vice, a lad magazine based in
Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "I was totally mystified. I blanked."

Mr. Martin's idea of a style symbol, seriously, is Ulysses S. Grant,
whose beard he came to admire after watching the 2003 Civil War-era
drama "Cold Mountain." Two years ago, when he began experimenting with
different beard styles, which he described as ranging from neat to
burly to unkempt, his facial hair was an expression of individuality
in a tide of metrosexual conformity. Now 10 of his 15 co-workers at
Vice wear full, bushy beards. In that, they vie with the
pro-facial-hair contingent of an editorial rival, Spin, where a rash
of new beards has broken out.

"It's a sign of the times," Mr. Martin said. "People are into beards right now."

At hipster hangouts and within fashion circles, the bearded revolution
that began with raffishly trimmed whiskers a year or more ago has
evolved into full-fledged Benjamin Harrisons. At New York Fashion Week
last month at least a half-dozen designers turned up with furry faces.

"This is some sort of reaction to men who look scrubbed, shaved,
plucked and waxed," said the designer Bryan Bradley, who stepped onto
the runway after his Tuleh presentation looking like a renegade from
the John Bartlett show, at which more than half the models wore
beards: untidy ones that scaled a spectrum from wiry to ratty to
shabby to fully bushy.

"It's less 'little boy,' " Mr. Bradley said. "For a while men have
looked too much like Boy Scouts going off to day camp."

On city streets, too, trends in scruff have reached new levels of
unruliness, a backlash, some beard enthusiasts say, against the
heightened grooming expectations that were unleashed with the rise of
metrosexuality as a cultural trend. Men both straight and gay, it
appears, want to feel rough and manly.

Other designers who appeared in scruffy beards during Fashion Week
included Brian Kirkby of Boudicca, Nathan Jenden and Matthew
Williamson. Santino Rice gave the look national exposure on "Project
Runway" this season, with weekly variations. Among the models that
Ralph Lauren cast in his men's show was a wildly bearded young man
with long tresses, like Brad Pitt circa 2002.

And with their fully furry chins Ariel Foxman and Bruce Pask, the
editor in chief and the style director, respectively, of Cargo
magazine, the metrosexual manifesto, seem now to be endorsing a
lumberjack ideal.

"It's a nice masculine aesthetic," said Robert Tagliapietra, who with
his similarly bearded partner, Jeffrey Costello, designs a collection
of pretty silk jersey dresses under the Costello Tagliapietra label.
"We both like that aesthetic of New England cabins with antlers on the
wall, plaid shirts and a beard."

Beyond the fashion world, any number of celebrities are exhibiting
luxuriant facial hair, including George Clooney with a Hussein-like
beard in "Syriana"; Heath Ledger in GQ, looking like Snoopy's sad
cousin, Spike (the beagle with a skinny mustache who is always
depressed); and Mel Gibson on a good day. At the New York premiere of
"V for Vendetta" last week, Hugo Weaving appeared (with his co-star
Natalie Portman, an adopter of last summer's iteration of the Mohawk)
in the beard of the moment, grown for the stage production of "Hedda
Gabler."John Allan, the owner of several clublike grooming salons in
New York, reports seeing newly bearded customers, but not enough to
warrant concerns for the health of his shaving business.

"It will be interesting to see over the next six to eight months what
mainland America is going to do with it," Mr. Allan said. "For the
past several years we've been stripping guys of their body hair. Maybe
now it's time for the pendulum to swing the other way."

Whenever a countercultural trend becomes a mainstream one, there is a
natural tendency to look for deeper meaning. Do beards that call to
mind Charles Manson suggest dissatisfaction with "the system"? Are
broody beards, like the dark and somber mood of the fall fashion
collections, physical manifestations of a melancholia in the air? Are
they a reflection of the stylistic impact on mainstream fashion of the
subculture of gay men known as bears, who embrace natural body hair?

But such theories seem to have less relevance — and beards less shock
value — than they once did.

"Style has separated itself from viewpoint," said Tim Harrington, the
lead singer of the rock band Les Savy Fav, who is known for his full
beard and balding head. "This is not like when beards were worn by
hippies. Now you pick a style for aesthetic reasons as opposed to a
viewpoint. I wonder if beards can have the oomph they once had when it
feels like someone will ask you: 'Where did you get that beard? Is
that beard from Dolce & Gabbana?' "

No survey ever conducted about women's attitudes toward beards, even
those not underwritten by the Gillette Company, has indicated that
more than 2 or 3 percent of women would describe a full beard as sexy.
("I hang out with those girls who are in that 2 or 3 percent," Mr.
Martin, of Vice, said.)

Yet the return of the wild beard carries a certain erotic charge that
has been missing from beards since the Furry Freak look of the 1970's,
or at least those who grow them hope they do.

Andrew Deutsch, a designer of interactive Web videos, swears that
having a beard has changed his life, giving him an air of confidence.
"I met my current girlfriend a week after I started growing my beard
in November," Mr. Deutsch said. Now he finds himself constantly
touching and stroking the beard, as if it were a talisman. "It's like
a security blanket on my face," he said.

That a full beard can suddenly look right — or, more accurately, not
so awful — illustrates how quickly ideals of masculinity can change.

"You know, it's funny," said Lola Phonpadith, a public relations
manager for the fashion company BCBG. "I've been talking about this
with my friends for weeks. I'm kind of into guys with beards today,
and I'm embarrassed to say that. But the pretty-boy look can only last
for so long."
that one guy you know, 9:07 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 4 comments |

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I am Pro-Beard

Has anyone seen the Skittles Commercial with the beard? I couldn't find any viewable net form yet, but it is hands down the best fucking commercial I have ever seen.

I'm not even going to describe it here, for fear of ruining the shock you will get the first time you see it.

... but if you know someplace that's hosting it online, shout it out and I'll link.


Best. Commercial. Ever.
that one guy you know, 10:18 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 6 comments |

Will Wright

Maxis god Will Wright is guest editing the latest issue of Wired, and has written this very interesting view of the purpose of games to humanity, the place of video games in history, and the transition of computers from analytical to social tools.

Great, great stuff.

How long until 'Spore' comes out? 'Cause you probably won't hear from me for a while after that.
that one guy you know, 7:23 AM | | | | | | | | | | link | 0 comments |

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Verdict on Vendetta

Having never read the graphic novel (yet! don't worry!), I will say that I enjoyed the movie very much. It's not very subtle, but it's smart, quick, well-acted, and great to look at, too.

One lesson no one else seems to be mentioning in any reviews: the British people, facing any sort of unsurmountable challenge, can always, ALWAYS be rallied to the cause by simply hearing "Yakkety Sax."

Good movie. Go see it.
that one guy you know, 8:08 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 2 comments |

Reading The Books

Last night I saw a pretty amazing concert at the always amazing Getty Center. As part of their "Friday Nights at the Getty" series, where I saw Calexico for the first time a while back, they had Califone and the Books play a show in the Harold Williams Auditorium.

While the design of the auditorium brought me immediately back to a college lecture hall (which is not surprising, as they DO have lectures there fairly often), Califone had draped reindeer made of white Christmas lights across the stage, so it wasn't too stuffy. It's the little touches.

I had seen Califone before, at last year's Calexico/Iron & Wine concert, but back then it was only two players. Now, they had doubled their number to the full ensemble, which I wasn't epxecting ... since I didn't really know much about the band.

Their short, sweet set was very impressive. At the core, simple folk songs pulled apart in different directions and embellished with carefully placed, seemingly random bits of percussion, pizzicato violin, and slide guitar. Pretty much exactly the type of music I'm really, really into right now. They've got some free downloads up at their site, and I'll be picking up some albums soon, I'm sure.

The Books were completely amazing in a different way. The techno-folk duo have just added accompanying video presentations to their cut-and-paste songs, and the end result adds a layer that sometimes illuminates, sometimes playfully obscures the actual songs being played. Either way, paying more attention to the screen or to the surprisingly complex musicianship of the band is a rewarding experience you're not likely to find at other concerts.

The Books are on tour right now, and are 100% recommended. You can also hear almost all of their music at their site. But if you like it, do the right thing and buy it. The guys are independent. And they're New Englanders.

that one guy you know, 8:36 AM | | | | | | | | | | link | 1 comments |

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Noted anthropologist Talisker Fernley investigates the rare species Gnerdis mmorpgus fantasticus, on Thursday's AOTS.

7PM, G4. There'll prolly be a video on the web soon, too.

The package will run on Monday, March 20th. You watch it.
that one guy you know, 8:59 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 2 comments |

Sunday, March 12, 2006

New Computer!

So one of the other reasons I haven't posted much recently (although I seem to be making up for it today), is that I picked myself up a new computer.

Yes, the old Dell Pentium 4 bought in the innocent summer of 2001 and gradually updated through 2005 is now out to pasture. It was getting slower, I was starting to run into hardware issues with new programs and applications, and I was still kind of pissed that I'd never REALLY been able to play SimCity 4 properly on it.

And so, after much internal debate (which accompanies any decision I make), I chose to buy parts and have some of the ol' work buddies help me properly assemble them to a powerhouse rig. Or at the very least, whatever kind of powerhouse that could be assembled for a reasonable budget.

I did save some cash by keeping my old hard drive and DVD-ROM, and could have saved more by keeping my graphics card, but decided to splurge on a spiffy new NVIDIA GeForce instead.

It runs great, and looks nice, too. I got a windowed case with a bunch of crazy blue lights all over the place. Nothing too gaudy, but enough to make it look like a computer that means business.

I've had a few minor software issues migrating over. My MS-Office doesn't seem to want to cooperate, even though I have a legitimate CD-key. For now, though, Open Office is doing a bang-up job in its stead. The biggest pain in the ass, though - naturally - was iTunes.

Don't get me wrong, I love my iPod, and I think iTunes is a great music player, but in some cases it is unnecessarily crippled by DRM and copy control. I have all of my songs stored on an external USB hard drive, but couldn't get my playlists, ratings, and play records to migrate in. If I synched up my iPod, it would have erased all of this beloved information.

So, to try to get the iTunes to recognize music that I legally owned from my iPod, I had to get a third-party program called CopyPod, which, when working properly, would solve all my problems.

Long story short, it didn't work properly, and I ended up wiping my MP3s from both my iPod AND my hard drive. To their credit, the folks at CopyPod were quick to issue a refund, but still - pain in the ass. It's a good thing I'm a music format luddite, though. Since probably 95% of my iTunes music was imported directly from CDs, I'll be able to get most of it back. But it will be a time consuming and terrible process.

Two weeks and I'm about halfway through M.

I forgot what a pain in the ass it is to cart around stacks of CDs, too. We are spoiled, we of the digital age.

Good thing David Byrne has another kick ass playlist up this month, to keep me sane at work.

OK, enough of that. Time for "The Sopranos."
that one guy you know, 8:43 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 1 comments |

Growing Vines

You may notice along the ever-growing sidebar a list of news-type headlines and links.

They are from an excellent new site called Newsvine.

I figure, since I spend such a large portion of my day looking for interesting news stories and pitches for work, I might as well join this site - which lets you keep track of news stories you find, comment on those stories, write your own op-ed pieces, and generally interact with fellow news junkies.

The site's still got a few kinks in it (I'd love to be able to add stories to my "column" directly within Newsvine, instead of grabbing the story from its original site ... and I'd love JSS to work with blogger, for instance), but it's also just a great place to get news and find out what stories other people are passing along to their friends.

So check it out, and if I find a story that's particularly interesting, I'll try to seed it to my sidebar here. And maybe, once I get going, dust off the old Pantomime Horse section of my brain.
that one guy you know, 11:35 AM | | | | | | | | | | link | 1 comments |

Outside Acting

I've been a little bit wrapped up over the past few weeks, doing several activities of varying degrees of interest.

A few weeks ago, my friend Guy asked me to help him out with a "Classiest Sketch Competition" at the new Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. I assmued he wanted me to help him come up with a few ideas - which I did - but he was more interested in having me act one of the roles.

Acting. In front of people. At a bona-fide comedy theatre.

You can understand why I was excited, and if you know me, then you also understand why I was absolutely 100% against doing it. Sure, it was something I used to do, and used to very much enjoying doing. Live sketch comedy is something I haven't done since college, and miss very, very much.

On the other hand, I haven't done live sketch comedy since college. How horribly out of practice would I be? Did I remember how to handle a line flub? Did I remember how to remember lines?

And so, after much hemming and hawing, several 'no's and a few more 'maybe's, I agreed to act the role of Maj. Hugo Montmouth-St. Sebastian, Shock Comedian, in a very Noel Coward-esque sketch about social class, sexual tension, and two babies being switched at birth. And despite all my brain's protests to the contrary, I had a very good time ... even though we went first and scored a bit above the middle of the pack in the competition.

It was refreshing to be doing something entertaining and creatively challenging outside of the borders of what I usually do at work.

Even though the judging was completely (and hilariously) arbitrary, next time we're totally winning.
that one guy you know, 10:49 AM | | | | | | | | | | link | 0 comments |

Friday, March 10, 2006

More Stuff Later

A comic done by one of the other writers, about me at work.

Interestingly enough, all of the characters are pretty fair representations of what we all look like.

More stuff later, I promise.
that one guy you know, 2:36 PM | | | | | | | | | | link | 1 comments |