Wednesday, April 30

Affluenza: April 30

These bird trays are so freaking beautiful and mysterious. They're possibly my favorite thing to be featured here in weeks:

It's weird that they make a reference to the 80s CBS drama Beauty & The Beast. How random is that?


Welcome, new readers. This is a feature I run every Wednesday that I call Affluenza. What is it?

Affluenza is a $4500 bean bag chair made of steel:


I guess this pepper grinder is okay and all, but what makes it a puzzle?

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."


It's A Log You Idiots, part of a continuing series:

I'm genuinely shocked that this is the very first time Anthropologie has appeared in IALYI. You'd think they'd own this series so bad I'd have to just put them in a Hall Of Fame and disqualify future entries.

These Holey Stumps don't *quite* fit here--they'd have to be unpainted to meet the requirements--but they're so fucking stupid and ugly that I have to point them out anyway:

It's more or less a log you idiots!


Now HERE'S a Toaster Concept for has an entire microwave oven hanging off the side:


The Pets Observation Porthole:

Affluenza is everything Hammacher Schlemmer has ever sold.


Even though I'm a huge board game snob who could rattle off at least five obscure mystery games better than Clue--Mystery Of The Abbey, for starters--I couldn't end Affluenza without featuring this deluxe edition of the game:

Beautiful. Now do Traders of Genoa.

Honor Among Thieves

In the Free Association post below, I talk about how Are We Done Yet? is, as the AV Club put it, "a remake and a sequel, but not a remake of a sequel."

After giving it a bit of thought, I remembered that one of the big reasons Ocean's Twelve was an incoherent mess is that it "was based on a spec script by George Nolfi called Honor Among Thieves that was originally intended to be directed by John Woo." That is, it wasn't written as an Ocean's sequel, and was significantly rewritten to include the previous characters.

This isn't exactly the same as Are We Done Yet?, which was the remake of a completed film and not just a script, but it made me curious about other sequels that began life as other works. So I asked Metafilter:

Book Club: Shakespeare

Beginning tomorrow, May 1, I'll begin reading all of Shakespeare's plays. The idea is to not do them straight through, as I did the Austen, but to read three at a time, then an unrelated book or two, then another three. All together, it might take me a year, maybe two.

Tomorrow I start Othello, the play that takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master. (Expect to see that joke come up A LOT.)

Let me know if you want to read along...I could wait a few days before getting started.

Tuesday, April 29

Alas, a salsa!

Geek Out New York has a fascinating history of the pink Duracell bunny. That's not a typo.


"Falindromes are fake palindromes. Although they cannot be read the same forwards and backwards (like their sister palindromes), their peculiar structure make them appear as if they can."


I don't know who is ghost-writing Brian Williams' blog, but judging from this critique of the Sunday Times, she wears cat's eye glasses, has an action figure of Velma on her desk, and thinks she underemployed and overeducated (despite the fact that she's not qualified to do anything, and isn't actually very smart):

Also, she *loves* Television Without Pity.


Richard Hell--yes, THAT Richard Hell--writes an appreciation of early Aram Saroyan minimalism for the New York Times Book Review:

I liked this blurb from Vito Acconci:

"In the late 60s, when I called myself a poet, Aram was the poet I envied. Because you couldn't be sure if he was fooling or if he had really gotten to all there is to get. Because while the rest of us tried to be verbs, like everybody told us to do, he had the nerve to stop at nouns. Because he took a deep breath and willed himself into the self-confidence of naming. Because it wasn't 'nouns,' it was 'noun,' only one noun, because he boiled it all down to one. Because then he let himself go, he let himself stutter, he let the one go and let the one double and go out of focus: while the rest of us ran for our lives all over the place and over the page, his noun shimmered and breathed and trembled and moved—shh! softly, softly—from within."

And Aram is the son of William Saroyan, who was Armenian-American, just like Eric Bogosian,! Stop me!


List of fictional books in the works of Susanna Clarke:

Free Association

-The Money Pit, the 80s comedy starring Tom Hanks and Shelley Long--together at last!--was a remake of the Cary Grant film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

-Mr. Blandings was remade again last year as the Ice Cube vehicle Are We Done Yet?, the sequel to Are We There Yet? I know that the phrase "thinking outside of the box" is a hoary cliche, but the idea of remaking a film as the sequel to an original story at the very least displays an intriguingly sideways thought process.

-(Sort of like using the sequel to a stoner-beloved movie as a chance to make a slyly subversive indictment of the current political situation. But more on that tomorrow.)

-Are We Done Yet? was surprisingly okay for what it was trying to be, pleasedontaskwhyIsawit, and John C. McGinley actually gave a really winning comedic performance. He plays the small-town jack-of-all-trades archetype that's at least as old as Andy Taylor on The Danny Kaye Show, but he infuses the role with a real charm.

-Most people know McGinley as Dr. Perry Cox on Scrubs, whose role as a hyper-articulate authority figure who delivers perfectly composed belittling rants is totally different from Dr. Kelso, a hyper-articulate authority figure who delivers perfectly composed belittling rants, not to mention Jordan and The Janitor and Laverne and about 3/4s of the damn cast.

-Before that, he was probably best known for his first film role, as Sgt O'Neil in Platoon, or as the Michael-Bolton-loving efficiency expert in Office Space. Or possibly as a member of John Cusack's posse.

-However, I knew him initially as Eric Bogosian's producer in the film version of Bogosian's excellent Talk Radio. (Which I just realized was directed by Oliver Stone, as was Platoon. Ah.)

Uh, that was 1988...does he look creepily identical in those shots? I've always assumed he's had a shitload of work done, but maybe McKinley's just one of those guys whose face has just always looked like a facelift? See also: Michael York.

-Talk Radio was recently revived on Broadway, an event that I somehow heard nothing about. "Talk Radio made its Broadway premiere in 2007, in a production starring Liev Schreiber, and featuring Law & Order: SVU stars Stephanie March and Peter Hermann."

-Wait, what? Who? March was apparently on the show five years ago, and Hermann is Mariska Hargitay's husband. No, I didn't know either of those facts forty-five seconds ago.

-But wait...Eric Bogosian is now a full-time cast member of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. So, uh, was he cast because of his SVU peeps? Or were they cast in his Broadway production because of his L&O connection?

-Or, more likely, Law & Order is such a behemoth that any actor even vaguely working in the industry can be traced back to the series. Forget Kevin Bacon; every living member of SAG must be connected to Dick Wolf by two degrees AT MOST.

-Also, Eric Bogosian is a Law & Order cast-member!? What's next, Laurie Anderson on NCIS? John Zorn on Samantha Who? Ann Magnuson on Anything But Love?

-Actually, Bogosian has a pretty hilariously ghetto filmography--Under Siege 2, Blade: Trinity, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle--but his appearances have always given off the air of being a subversive cameo rather than a way to pay the rent. I'm not dragging him down: that's an awesome trick.

-And, here he is on Scrubs, playing John C. McGinley's therapist and prompting this blog post. It's sorta weirdly endearing to think of these two having met on the set of Talk Radio and being friends for the next twenty years.

-But I have to wonder: who wins the
call waiting face-off when John Cusack calls???

-Finally, to bring this post full-circle, you know who else is on Law & Order? That's right, rapper-turned-actor Ice T, the star of the family comedy Are We Done Yet?

-Oh, wait.

Sunday, April 27

Jack And Charmian

Three different biographers of Jack London discuss his second wife, Charmian:

Joseph Noel, 1940: "A young woman named Charmian Kittredge began running out to Piedmont with foils, still masks, padded breast plates, and short tailored skirts that fitted tightly over as nice a pair of hips as one might find anywhere."

Clarice Stasz, 1988: "Finding that the prim and genteel lady was lustful and sexually vigorous in private was like discovering a secret treasure;"

Alex Kershaw, 1999: "At last, here was a woman who adored fornication, expected Jack to make her climax, and to do so frequently, and who didn't burst into tears when the sadist in him punched her in the mouth."

Wednesday, April 23

Affluenza: April 23

Another week, another amazing Phillip Lim link:


There are three things notable about sculptor Robert The:

1. His clever book-based assemblies:

2. His name, which I really hope isn't fake. Robert The!

3. His innate ability to say stuff like this: "Obsession with the semiotic erosion of meaning and reality led me to create objects that evangelize their own relevance by a direct fusion of word and form."

Wow, I am truly in awe. I thought I was being clever with that 'transcending the dominant paradigm' schtick, but Robert The must be wearing a mortarboard 'cuz he just took me TO SCHOOL.


And here you thought those "teddy bears with light bulb heads" from last week were bad:


Being "the most beautiful folding bike ever" isn't exactly a difficult achievement, but this thing is freaking gorgeous:


The design blogs have been pretty enthusiastic about this, but I must be an artless clod or something because all I see are a bunch of chairs and a couple of planks:

I'm used to being unimpressed by design bloggers, but mystified is a new sensation.


I like Blik and the other wall art designers, but aren't all their prices a little suspicious? I mean, fiddy bucks for a vinyl sticker? (Even those super-corny Target rip-offs were expensive.)

Ikea is all "fuck that" and lays some hurting on the price-fixing vinyl sticker conglomerates:


Watercolor, ink and graphite works on paper from Bill Frederick:


It's Ten Logs You Idiots, part of a continuing series:

A steal at $1750! Seriously, though, if any of you are thinking about getting these, drop me a line...I can get you *twenty* tables for the same price.


Remember that beautiful Audi Auto Union Scale Replica Pedal Car I posted last August?

Well, here's the noveau riche version:


"The iPod case is made out of meat."
"Meat. It's made out of meat."
"There's no doubt about it."


As a dude, I guess I probably shouldn't be writing about fashion, because I always get duped by the models. A few times a week I see clothes that I think I should totally feature here, only to look closer and realize the clothes are hideous and I'm just really attracted to the model. Here are this week's examples:

That first one is particularly looks like something a Greek-American grandmother would wear on a day cruise.

I'm too lazy to look this up, but I don't think this is the first time a Free People model has been featured here. Bravo, you guys really know how to sell women's clothes to straight guys! Now don't get skeevy like American Apparel and there will always be a place on Affluenza for your ugly clothes.


"Glenn Gould performed for 21 years seated in a folding card chair modified by his father to be height adjustable. That chair accompanied him around the world in support of each of his recordings and performances, and now resides on a pedestal at the National Library of Canada. Exact replicas of the skeletal, cushion-less chair are available for €990":


The newest entry in the Affluenza Shopping Directory:


Penguin UK is reissuing hardcover editions of the terrible James Bond novels to tie in with the terribly-named sequel to the terrible reboot of the terrible movie series.

Hey, the covers are neat, though:


Anna Sui's spring '08 collection:


Famous sufferers of affluenza include George Clooney:

"Clooney was sitting on a long pale sofa, alongside Sarah Larson, his girlfriend. Bowls of chopped salad were on the coffee table in front of them: when Clooney's electronic pepper grinder was activated, it sent a beam of light shining down onto the lettuce, like a police helicopter."

Tuesday, April 22

Catching Up

Because of my Jane Austen endeavor, I fell way behind on my New Yorker and New York Times consumption. The last couple of weeks I've been catching up on what I missed, and here is the best of my backlog.

I'm not sure if ten-page long profiles of George Clooney belong in The New Yorker, but Ian Parker's article is good, even fascinating:

"Your job is to find the best way for those people to hold on to their dignity," he explained to me. "For a second, they have thrown it out. They got what they came for"—the autograph, the handshake—"but then they're standing there feeling, God, that horrible taste in their mouth: 'What now, how do I walk away?' " As Clooney described it, they have to be shown a path back to their normal selves.


Malcolm Gladwell on Rick Warren, who wrote The Purpose-Driven Life:

I'm guessing that a glowing Gladwell profile of a megachurch pastor doesn't sound like the greatest read, but I found Warren to be an interesting subject.

"The New Testament's most left-liberal text, the Lord's Prayer, begins with a call for utopian social restructuring ("Thy will be done, On earth as it is in Heaven"), then welfare relief ("Give us this day our daily bread"), and then income redistribution ("Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors")."


Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris' article about Abu Ghraib was all over the place a month or so ago, so I guess if you've either already read it or never will. But let me belatedly add to the chorus of voices praising their work.

"When the photographs were made public, the blame focussed overwhelmingly on the Military Police officers who were assigned to guard duty. The low-ranking reservist soldiers who took and appeared in the infamous images were singled out for opprobrium and punishment; they were represented, in government reports, in the press, and before courts-martial, as rogues who acted out of depravity. Yet the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was de facto United States policy. The authorization of torture and the decriminalization of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of captives in wartime have been among the defining legacies of the current Administration; and the rules of interrogation that produced the abuses documented in the fall of 2003 were the direct expression of the hostility toward international law and military doctrine that was found in the White House, the Vice-President's office, and at the highest levels of the Justice and Defense Departments."


John Lanchester, author of The Debt To Pleasure, reviews a perfume guidebook:

The actual quotes from the guidebook are so awesome.


Elizabeth Kolbert on irrational decisions:


Susan Orlean writes about her neighbor, who has allegedly invented a better umbrella:


Most of you have already seen this, since I frantically emailed it to everyone I know last week, but this New York Times Sunday Magazine profile of Chris Matthews is the most breathtakingly negative profile I've ever seen, and the lulz come early and just don't let up. A masterpiece of a smear, the article paints Matthews as a hateful blowhard before revealing him as needy and pitiful:



Friday, April 18

And Per Se And

If you have a friend or relative who sends you nothing but email forwards, this service will send them an anonymous "knock it off" email that, unlike similar services, isn't passive-aggressive:

Note: Stop Forwarding Us is ineffective on senders of weekly home decor link dumps.


The history of the ampersand:

I had known that the word meant "and, per se, and"--though I never quite totally understood that and, frankly, still don't--but the history of the form was a total revelation: of course it's a stylized "et"! How could I not have figured that out already!?

Lean Sideways On The Wind, by Mervyn Peake

Lean sideways on the wind, and if bears your weight you are a daughter of the dawn.
If not, pick up your carcass, dry your eyes, brush down your dress, for that sweet elfin horn,
You thought you heard was from no fairy land. Rather, it flooded through the cellar floor,
From where your Uncle Eustace and his band of flautists turn my cellar, more and more,
Into a place of hollow and decay.
That is my theory, darling, anyway.

Thursday, April 17

Indian Mouse Gets No Ice Cream In 1991

Nancy Crunch sends along this Flickr set detailing the differences between the 1963 and 1991 editions of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever:

In return, I'm sure Ms. Crunch will appreciate this group portrait:

Wednesday, April 16

Affluenza: April 16

Oh my god, check out this stunning Endovanera casual jacket from David Hershberger and Mitch Mosley:

Look at all the pictures to see the three different lapel configurations it's capable of. "Timeless yet quite fashion-forward" sums it up perfectly. And, at $400, the price isn't exactly affordable, but it's at least surprisingly non-retarded.

Here's a jacket for women with a similarly versatile lapel:


It's A Log You Idiots, part of a continuing series: (Thanks, Adam!)


Temporary tattoo paper for your inkjet printer:

Everyone's getting Affluenza tats for Christmas.


Very clever mirrored tic-tac-toe board:

and a high-design foosball table:

Hey, why not?


A bowl with a spoon notch:

This seems like a good idea, but how often does your spoon fall into your bowl? I mean, when you're not eating an entire box of Cocoa Pebbles out of a mixing bowl, that is? I don't think it happens that often.

Here's another item that solves a non-existent problem...the SofaBOX:

It's a sofa that secretly turns into a, uh, box. But...why would you need that? What can you do with a box that you can't with a sofa? Sit on it?


What the HAY-ULL?

"I don't really think of myself as a designer, really. I think of myself as a professional questioner....with this piece, I'm making people question their assumptions about whether chairs need fulfill a sitting role, and if tables should be functional eating surfaces. In fact, you might say I'm subverting the dominant paradigm..."


BrickArms, the Lego minifig armory with an impressively extensive product line, have released their 2008 line-up:


Every once and a while a product comes along that just gives you a headache. Admit it -- you know what I'm talking about. It's curves and shape makes you forget how to use apostrophes correctly. You don't even care about the ludicrous price --- you MUST feature it on Affluenza.

I see countless modern and contemporary home products each day. Most evoke feelings of disgust, but only the really special ones send me into a tizzy -- frantically trying to figure out the best way to mock them on this link dump.

Enter the Peel:

I know how you're feeling. Migraine-y. Nauseated. Am I right?


Christiaan Postma's Calendar Wallpaper:

Love it, have to get your office re-papered every year?


Antonio Citterio's Flat.C shelving system is beautiful:

Blah blah blah: "[T]he shelving system has [been] designed to house books and technology items such as a stereo and television set." Oh, so it's flat and horizontal, then? Amazing!

UPDATE: I think maybe I prefer the DeKast:


Constantin Wortmann's Cobra Candlesticks:


I was all prepared to hate on Maarten Baas for his useless wobbly desk and his...inexplicable collection of junk:

but I actually really like that first piece, the gorgeous hardwood version of a plastic patio chair.

Boy, these avant-garde designers have such a great goddamn gig: if you don't go along with their stupid "experiments," then you're just too middle-class to understand.


"24 hours before your special day, the Hot Spot™ on the interior surface of your Remember Ring™ will warm to 120º F for approximately 10 seconds, and continue to warm up every hour, on the hour, all day long!"


THEM: I love Baby Ruthless, but what's this Affluenza thing Johnny does every week?

YOU: Affluenza is a twenty-two hundred dollar tepee from Design Within Reach.

Tuesday, April 15

Black Feasts

A few days ago, I linked to an awesome photo Joris-Karl Huysmans, describing him as "the French writer of a 'novel' with only one character and no plot." This novel was A rebours, published in 1884. In the following excerpt, the sole character's early extravagances are described.

Des Esseintes acquired the reputation of an eccentric, which he enhanced by giving famous dinners to men of letters, one of which was a funeral repast.

In the dining room, hung in black and opening on the transformed garden with its ash-powdered walks, its little pool now bordered with basalt and filled with ink, its clumps of cypresses and pines, the dinner had been served on a table draped in black, adorned with baskets of violets and scabiouses, lit by candelabra from which green flames blazed, and by chandeliers from which wax tapers flared.

To the sound of funeral marches played by a concealed orchestra, nude negresses, wearing slippers and stockings of silver cloth with patterns of tears, served the guests.

Out of black-edged plates they had drunk turtle soup and eaten Russian rye bread, ripe Turkish olives, caviar, smoked Frankfort black pudding, game with sauces that were the color of licorice and blacking, truffle gravy, chocolate cream, puddings, nectarines, grape preserves, mulberries and black-heart cherries; they had sipped, out of dark glasses, wines from Limagne, Roussillon, Tenedos, Val de Penas and Porto, and after the coffee and walnut brandy had partaken of kvas and porter and stout.

The invitation cards were designed like bereavement notices.


However, if you decide to recreate this black feast, note that it didn't go well for Tarquin Winot, the narrator of John Lanchester's 1997 novel The Debt To Pleasure:

I told her, with that mixture of endearment and melancholy that attends the recitation of the follies of one's youth, about something I did once in what I used to call my aesthetic period. The idea, cribbed from Huysmans, was to serve a menu consisting entirely of black things. This occurred during my brief interval at university, whence I departed after two terms (the NOISE, dear, and the PEOPLE). My room, a banal heptagon in a banal heptagon-shaped building in one of the smarter Cambridge colleges, I had painted (slightly in violation of one or two of the more invasive college regulations) black. Bed, sheets, fittings, lamps, light bulbs--all black.

In my black room, dressed in black velvet, black silk cravat--no need to change the inherent color of the single orchid in my buttonhole--I would arrange for meals consisting entirely of black food: truffles grated over squid-ink pasta, followed by boudin noir on a bed of fried black radicchio. For desert, I wanted to emphasize the essential artificiality of the event, the fact that it was a celebration of art, whim, caprice, set over against the brutal facts of nature and death, so I served crème brûlée, dyed black. Naturally we drank Black Velvet.

Into this exquisite setting arrived my brother Bartholomew, an hour and a half late, in his overalls (in violation of the dress code I had specified) and saying:

"Bloody hell! Anybody dead?"

Geisha Guys And British Dandies

Geisha guys are "debonair lads who can be hired for an evening of sparkling conversation." And here I am wasting my life driving a cab.

All of those Buzzfeed links are golden, but whatever you do, don't miss this one:


The other day I was Googling "british dandy" for no other reason than I was curious what the results were. Here's the first result:

Interestingly, I actually picked up that GQ when this article originally ran, and I cut this picture out and even scanned it in, just in case I lost the original. I consider this a picture of an almost perfect look, from the cut of the suit down to the attitude.

I also ended up buying the book they're talking about in this article:

I mean, a coffeetable book about English dandies? Come ON.

It's hit and miss, of course, but the hits are HUGE. I scanned in the best 25 or so, though it would of course be illegal and immoral to post a huge zip file of the images here. (Email me!)

Here's another nearly perfect British look and I'm not even kidding:

I would love to be able to pull something like that off. But I have a feeling I'd end up looking more like this:

Tree Of Smoke

Last week or so, I mentioned in the Junot Diaz post that Denis Johnson's Tree Of Smoke was a runner-up for the Pulitzer. However, I neglected to say that in November it won the National Book Award.

Uh: "The winners receive a $10,000 cash prize and a crystal sculpture." Okay, hold on, I have to find a picture of this sculpture.

[Fifteen minutes pass.]

Huh, I actually can't find a picture of it. So here's the first result from a Google Image Search for "crystal sculpture." Let's just say this is it:

It's weird that the winner of the freakin' National Book Award only gets ten large. The swag bags had better be SICK.


Oh wait, I was talking about Tree Of Smoke. Here's an excerpt from The New Yorker, which reads like Johnson's take on The Outsiders.

(I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way.)

Monday, April 14

Pretty Baby, Boring Adult

The other night, I think I had a couple of "buzz agents" in my cab. You know, people who get paid to mention products in conversations? It was two sorority girls--like actual girls in sorority letters--and three frat guys. This is more or less verbatim:

GIRL 1: Did you catch Lipstick Jungle last night?

GIRL 2: No, I missed it...I'll have to catch up on YouTube. Was it awesome?

GIRL 1: So awesome. But don't mess with YouTube...try Alterna.TV. It's got all the hit shows, with no commercials.

GIRL 2: Cool, I'll check it out!

Ahem. I changed the URL up there, by the reason to give them more exposure. I'm not sure which is the dumber scenario, that they were trying to market Lipstick Jungle and a "me too!" video service to a handful of fratties, or to me, their freaking cab driver.

There is, of course, a more depressing angle: that this WASN'T clumsy marketing, but rather the way 20-year-old girls, raised on infomercials and The Hills, just naturally talk to each other these days. That's actually way more chilling than the concept of guerilla marketing.

But their Lipstick Jungle plug--or, less likely, genuine Lipstick Jungle enthusiasm--made me think about how sad it must be to be Brooke Shields. After her first stint as a superstar, she has long since passed into the realm of "celebrity," without actually being very successful.

And not for lack of many failed Brooke Shields projects can you think of just off the top of your head? Well, not really "failed"...just middling and uninteresting.

This is where the sadness comes in: it must be weird to know that you're not famous simply because people just aren't very interested in you. Brooke Shields is beautiful, intelligent, and well-spoken. She seems like a nice woman. She carries herself with an air of class. As an adult she's never been involved in any major scandals that I know of, certainly none where she was at fault. She has the sympathy of the Oprah nation on her side because of the post-partum depression issue and the subsequent Tom Cruise debacle. She doesn't have any weird beliefs or a crazy spouse or a history of terrible career choices. She's not a stunning performer, but she's hardly a terrible actress. She's an icon of the early 80s, and a fondly remembered as a part of a lot of people's childhood.

But she's just never broken through in the way she clearly wants, and it must be so daunting to her, at the end of the day, to know that she has no one to blame. We just aren't interested in buying what she's selling...we're not in the Brooke Shields business.

One of the few consolations I have in this world is that whatever situation I've found myself in at this point in my life, the mistakes I made were my own and I have only myself to blame. But what if you never really made any mistakes and you were still unsuccessful? What if you tried with all your heart and made all the right decisions, and in the end the problem was just...YOU?

Lipstick Jungle, NBC's sizzling new hit series from the author of Sex In The City, airs on Thursdays at 10. Catch commercial-free episodes of your favorite shows, as well as music videos and hilarious skits, at Alterna.TV.

"The hardest thing is to make something really true and sometimes truer than true."

As you may have heard, Crayola allowed actual children to rename crayon colors, and the children failed spectacularly. Ignoring the lame attempt at comedy in the actual post itself, this Gawker headline is my favorite commentary on the issue:

(Hey look, you don't even have to click the link!)


There are a ton of Random Name Generators on the web, and most of them serve up improbable names that sound like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang characters.

But Unled is a clean and simple single-serving website that uses actual census data to offer two different kinds of random names. One is truly random like the other sites, but the other is based on the probability of certain names appearing, pairing up statistically likely names with...uh, other names that Look, I have no idea how it actually works, all I know is the second name sounds like an actual human being.

Hit reload to get four more. Beats flipping through the phone book. (Do they even still make those?)


Ernest Hemingway on symbolism:

"No good book has ever been written that has in it symbols arrived at beforehand and stuck in. That kind of symbol sticks out like raisins in raisin bread. I tried to make a real old man, a real boy, a real sea and a real fish and real sharks. But if I made them good and true enough they would mean many things. The hardest thing is to make something really true and sometimes truer than true."


Huysmans And Knorozov

My perpetual Favorite Author Photo Ever is that of Joris-Karl Husymans, the French writer of a "novel" with only one character and no plot:

But I think this shot of Russian linguist Yuri Valentinovich Knorozov just took over the top spot:


Here are three things I can't stand:

-Star Wars fandom
-grown men playing with toys

Having said that, how awesome are these steampunk reimaginings of Star Wars toys?

Also neat are his Victorian Avengers and Gaslight Justice League series, not to mention his OTHER Star Wars line:

Reading about his design process--typos and all--is fascinating. In fact, a big part of the appeal of these toys isn't even the visuals, it's the amount of thought and insight Sillof brings to his work.

Sunday, April 13

Fire Watch, by Connie Willis

Fire Watch was first published in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, in Feb 1982, and won the 1982 Nebula and 1983 Hugo awards for best novelette:

Ten years later, she expanded the story of Kivrin's practicum, here only alluded to, into the novel The Doomsday Book, which also won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards.

Friday, April 11

Cat Bed

Both of these pictures are so hilarious I can't imagine a better way to start the weekend:

The BEFORE is just funny for the over-the-top exasperation depicted. But the AFTER is truly awesome in the way it shows, through sly smiles and furrowed cat brows, an increasingly chilly stalemate.

"So it's come to this, then."

"Yes, so it's come to this."

Thursday, April 10

Affluenza: April 9

If I liked illustrated pillows--I don't--I would like this illustrated pillow:


From GeoCities, the cutting edge of high design, comes the work of Tamsin van Essen:

Oh brother...the Medical Heirloom series "appears to have been affected by various hereditary diseases – osteoporosis, psoriasis, acne, cancer, syphilis. As heirlooms, the jars can be passed down through the generations of a family in the same way as the medical conditions: a legacy of ill health."



An interview with designer Nikolay Saveliev:

"I like the idea of a consolidated aesthetic totality; what you make looks like what you listen to, sounds like what you wear, and speaks like what you believe in. In simpler terms, my girlfriend might look like she's in a band I'd listen to, my haircut looks like it belongs in the chair I'm sitting in, and the work I'm designing might be written about in a book that I would read. Even my cat has to figure in there somehow. It's a meticulous thing to maintain..."



A reader writes that this spatula is "just (strangely) viscerally gross," and I couldn't agree more: (NSFW)


Gas masks are pretty played out, but these are amazing:

I hope these become a thing.


I'm not sure what a "lifestyle globe" is, but how lovely:


Oh puke:

Apparently their target market is "that guy who only dresses up twice a year and thinks nobody notices his dress shoes are really Doc Martins."

Oh puke, times a million:

"These shoes feature laser-cut cutouts from the shoes' sides - exposing the wearer's feet and providing a stylish but airy solution" to ever getting laid again.


Less than overwhelming response for the Celia Birtwell for Express line:


Any attempt at wit or subtlety fails in the face of this monstrosity.


Nacho, this is a FAILURE. It sucks, and you should feel bad. Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you're not cut out for the career you're pursuing? I'm not kidding, this isn't a joke, and I'm not trying to motivate you to try harder. The sooner you admit to yourself that you might not have it in you, the sooner you'll find a way to be happy in your life. Not everyone has to be creative. Thank your parents and your friends for their support, get your resume together, and find a way to pay back your student loans. There's no shame in knowing that you weren't able to best a challenge of overwhelming odds, that after using all of the resources and talents you had at your disposal you looked inside of yourself and found yourself lacking. Passion wasn't enough, and believing in yourself wasn't enough. There's a certain honor in walking away, in quitting, in working an honest job and then saying "I'm home" to the simple conventional chair and the simple conventional table where you eat your dinner. I can tell you from my own experience, man to man, that it may never be easy, but it gets easier every day.

(Bitchin' name, though. "Nacho!")


This cute Eddy Rocker is probably intended for nurseries, but I bet you could pull it off elsewhere:


I guess I'm being really negative this week, so let me try to JESUS CHRIST HOW RETARDED:

Boy, the home design and fashion world has been really uninspiring this week. I didn't even have a single entry for this until Monday. I flipped through the new Domino in about ten minutes, then tossed it.

HOWEVER, let's end on a good note. No, wait, not just a good note, but a hilariously awesome note. Ready?


He's creating a custom radio station for the game, that you can play as you drive around, as well as providing "off-color commentary." (!). Sadly, he's not a playable character, but how awesome would that be? All beating up hookers with your elaborate gothic pewter rings?

Okay, now I have the strength to carry on. See you next week.

Tuesday, April 8

A Million Hots On His Jock

Junot Díaz just won the Pulitzer for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao, beating out Denis Johnson's Tree Of Smoke and something called Shakespeare's Kitchen, by Lore Segal. (Who?)

I *still* haven't read the novel--thanks for nothing, Jane Austen--but what I said seven months ago is still true: if you haven't read the short story the novel is based on, I implore you to read it right now. It's certainly the best thing I've ever featured on here.

Those of you who have read it, you may enjoy this short Guardian profile of Díaz:,,2255226,00.html

I love how he's pretty upfront about being sorta lazy when it comes to his's a nice change of pace from the usual novelist posturing about how hard they work.

Monday, April 7

A Novel Take On An Ending

Richard Russo, in the Washington Post:

"One night recently, as I stayed up watching television coverage of Eliot Spitzer's disgrace, I found the media turning a complex drama into a simple story line: Now that he's no longer their unsullied white knight, Spitzer must be a complete hypocrite. Later, I lay awake in the dark thinking about how a novel about Eliot Spitzer might go and what kind of novel it would be."

About three weeks too late, I know, but still an interesting read.

Sunday, April 6

Famous actor Rip Torn's genitals...

There are so many lulz on this Wikipedia list of Mainstream Films With Unsimulated Sex that I don't even know where to begin. [If text can be NSFW, you've been warned...]

Green Magic, by Jack Vance

Jack Vance has had a staggeringly successful career, winning the Hugo, the Nebula, the Jupiter, and the Edgar. He's probably the least-known of all the well-known science fiction masters, if that makes sense. (Probably this has to do with the fact that, aside from a TV movie in the 70s, none of his works have been filmed, thank God.)

An old-school writer who came up through the pulp industry, Vance is still writing, even though he's 91 and blind. For perspective, consider that he received a lifetime achievement World Fantasy Award...twenty-two years ago.

This "science fantasy" short story was first published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1963, though it seems so fresh and original I've always thought of it as a product of the Dangerous Visions era of the 70s.

I realize this is an online cliche along the lines of "I just spit coffee all over my keyboard," but the deeply moving finale of this story literally gives me chills.

Wednesday, April 2

Affluenza: April 2

One thing you may have noticed these many months is that I almost never feature clever watches. This is because 1. I hate the logos all watches are allowed to sport on their faces, and 2. I hate cleverness.

Having said that...until otherwise noted this is the official watch of Affluenza:

Now somebody just needs to create a computer monitor with the words Nobody Cares burnt softly into the display.


Molly sends us this bathtub bookcase combo:

Born Rich dot org! I haven't been this jealous of a URL since Skulls Unlimited!

See also: BOOKSHELF, "the home of interesting bookshelves, bookcases and things that look like them":


Remember this, from last week?

Maison Martin Mariela gets a short write-up in this week's New Yorker:

It's Nathan Barley's favorite shop!


An Open Flame Is The New Bowl Of Rocks, part of a continuing series:

There's also this one, which I can't actually find on their site:

"Oh, you think you're eco-friendly? Check it: I spent the morning scrubbing SOOT off my you like me now?"


Have you noticed there's been a shortage of OMGs on the web this week? It's because everyone used their's up gushing over Phillip Lim's unbearably adorable child-sized versions of his stunning designs:

Spending more than $20 on an item of clothing for a toddler goes beyond affluenzic and into the realm of offensive. And spending more than $200 is clear evidence of a diseased soul, and should be grounds for having your children taken from you. (Not kidding.)

On the other hand: OMG cute!



Check out Eric Tan's cool X-Men poster:

It's beautiful, isn't it? Too bad nobody reading this is allowed to buy it when it's released. Sorry, we're all adults now.


The illustrations of Jerry Seguin:

Some of you may be wondering why I link to Roadside Scholar's blog entries whenever I feature something she's covered, though I don't do this for any other of my sources. Two reasons:

First, Gigi is an incredibly friendly person who always takes the time to answer her readers' email and comments. Though I think it's fair to say that she and I have differing worldviews, I find her sincerity and attentiveness to be warmly appealing.

That makes her a good person, but the reason I link to her site is that she's also a good blogger. Look, I read a lot of home decor blogs, and almost none of them attempt to do anything original or new beyond "here's some cutesy disposable crap I found on another blog" or "here's some insufferable avant-garde crap I found on another blog." But Gigi puts a lot of work into creating original content for Roadside Scholar.

Of particular note is her Let's Chat series, a collection of short interviews with artists and crafters. Also impressive are her massive Etsy link collections, in which she manages to find some pretty interesting stuff lurking unawares on that empire of mediocrity.

So, all things considered, I think Roadside Scholar deserves the traffic. I bet you think I'm gonna end this uncharacteristic rave with a snide self-deprecating joke, as a sort of defense mechanism against unseemly sincerity, but I'm not. Suck it, haters.

A Room With A View

I had intended on taking a short break from the Book Club before starting on Othello. However, on April 13, Masterpiece will be showing an adaptation of EM Forster's A Room With A View, which makes perfect sense because it's been 15 years since Merchant & Ivory's groundbreaking adaptation. But that one was only the most acclaimed production from two beloved filmmakers...*this one* is adapted by Andrew Davies.

ME: Geesh, why don't you just call it Masterpiece Davies already?
PBS: That's an awesome idea.

So this is the thread where I'll be posting notes as I read A Room With A View. Here's the permanent address of this post:

As before, you can either bookmark it or subscribe to the post's RSS feed. If you'd like to read along and join the discussion, you'll find the reading schedule I'll be following in the first comment of this thread, as well as links to the text. We start tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 1

What Every American Should Know About the Middle East

Too long, didn't read:

The Baby Ruthless Interview: Amy Poehler

BABY RUTHLESS: How much credit are you prepared to take for Hillary Clinton's Super Tuesday victory?

AMY POEHLER : I don't even want to talk about that, I just want to stick to the UCB stuff and pontificate leadenly about the improv process for 3000 words.

BR: Okay. [Pause. The interviewer becomes weighty and soulful, like Mandy Patankin] Ms. Poehler--can I call you Amy?--Amy, I really only have one question for you, then. But...before you answer, I want you to look deep into your heart and see the truth that's written there. That's all I ask. Okay? Great, here's my question: All of this--this...this interview, this promoting your DVD, this mentioning your new movie--do you think you're doing ME a favor? Or do you think I'M doing YOU a favor?