Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Subtle" Is Not the First Word That Springs To Mind Here

This product was brought to my attention by Karen, in an email titled "painfully blogworthy":

What makes it great is not so much the product itself (helpful hint: do not try to visualize how their claims that works on any underwear, "even thongs" can be true), it's the fact that 94% of customers would recommend it to a friend. Which I thought was just an expression of their faith in the product, and not an indication of how they interact with the people they know, until I read this review:

"Everyone I gave this too loved it! It's the most unique gift I've found in years. Not one person had ever received one before."

"Which was surprising to me, because I thought a lot of people would have publicly commented to them about their tendency to emit noxious odors!"

(Dear 'Deb',
It's not so much that they like this as a gift; they're just grateful that you've stopped giving them these.
Sincerely, Me)

Bonus!: On the same page we have a link to this lovely item, perfect for those people who would rather go around looking like every shirt they own has a trim of cheap lace around the bottom than buy pants that actually fit.

Public Service Announcement

The sales at Sigerson Morrison and Belle have reached the "oh, hell yeah" stage. I highly recommend checking them out, particularly if you are in the market for some cute flats or sandals. Or, you know, if you happen to need some crazy buckled boot-things in your life:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Shoesday: Get On Your Boots

Shoes so hot they need a soundtrack. (Not one of U2's greatest efforts, but points for the lyrics.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

For People Unclear On the Concept of "Dog"

I give you dog fragrance:

Only $65 to tell the world, "Aren't you glad I have this instead of a child?"

Tomatoes: The Next Generation

With reports pouring in from around the country* of tomato harvests, I'm feeling more than a little bit left behind. In fact, for a while there I thought I wasn't going to get more than those four tomatoes I have been tracking for the last few weeks, which don't seem to be getting much closer to table-ready. But! It's possible I let the hopelessness consume me a bit too soon**, because here come some more! Two more, to be exact, which amounts to a fifty-percent increase in production. If it keeps up like this I might end up with enough for a salad.

*Mary and Lisa.
**When being consumed by hopelessness, timing is key.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eternal Summer Problem, Solved!

Friend! Have you ever said to yourself, "I love the airiness of a barely-there summer sandal, but I wish my ankles didn't get so cold?" Of course! Who hasn't? Well, I am here to tell you that your prayers have been answered. Rejoice!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Shoefinder: Form Rejection As Expressed in Shoes, A Photo Essay

Something a little different this week, as the hilarious blogger The Rejectionist is running a contest on her site for articles on the topic of "What Form Rejections Mean to Me." I've decided to make mine about shoes, because that's what I do.

For those of you who do not spend your leisure time mailing manila envelopes to strangers in New York, a little introduction: A form rejection is exactly what it sounds like, a form letter rejecting you, or at least your work. In this case we are talking about rejections from literary agents on the subject of representing your novel, but I'm sure they are available in other areas as well. I don't blog a lot about my attempts to get published, (except when I succeed) because it's hard to do without sounding like you're whining, and I only get to do that on alternate Wednesdays. So, instead, I am going to revert to my natural position of being the rejector, not the rejectee, and tell you why I choose some shoes for the blog over others, and how this relates to the literary world.

Up today: Purple shoes. Why? I'm not sure. It popped into my head a while ago that I would like to have some (non-plastic variety), and I figured there would be a manageable number of them on Zappos for me to go through. So purple it is; now let's talk about rejecting them.

First, I should point out that this will not be a perfect analogy, because in order for shoes to make it all the way to market they have to be in some way functional as shoes, and if the web's blogging agents can be believed, the same can not be said for a lot of the books they see*. So this is going to be more about the ones that are there but not quite, like the contestants on American Idol that make it to Hollywood week and get cut in the group round. It's mostly a subjective judgment-- I might find something unacceptable that you think is absolutely charming, and there is room enough in the world for both of our opinions, except that I'm right.

I believe I have made my opinions about Crocs abundantly clear. These get a form rejection because they are not shoes, they are gardening clogs. It's as if you queried a literary agent, but instead of sending a book you just had an envelope full of pictures of your cat.

Past the expressions of pure evil, we have the hilariously bad:

And the just plain not-a-good-idea:
I see these as being kind of like my first novel, a murder mystery set among flower fairies that was so hilariously wrong-headed that I am very glad the blogosphere did not exist in any real way when I was querying it, because I'm pretty sure it would have shown up here.

Beyond the flat-out wrong, we get into the more specific reasons for rejection, such as being something you've seen too many times before:
These are the shoe equivalent of a book about an otherworldly being that disguises itself as a high school student and falls in love with an adorably awkward teenage girl.

Something that's kind of great but would never work in the real world:
Equivalent: a beautifully written book about murder-mystery solving flower fairies**.

The thing that isn't what you're looking for at all:

How did these show up in a search restricted to purple shoes? This is like sending a cookbook proposal to someone who only represents literary fiction.

And the simply prohibitively expensive:

Let's call this one the brilliant idea that would take too much of the agent's time and effort to get it ready to sell.

Then, in the most common category, we have the ones that are perfectly nice but just not for me:

I can't see buying these for myself, but I might recommend them for someone else.*** This is not a bad thing, but the downside is that if everyone sees them that way, you are going to end up with a pair of unsold shoes on your hands. And, unfortunately, there really is no way to mark down a manuscript for clearance.

And then, finally, we have the ones that work:
Would they be everyone's first choice? I hope not, because I'd like to see that price come down a bit more. The point is, they hit the sweet spot for me of being the right shade, the right shape,**** and the right match for what's already in my wardrobe, without duplicating something I already have. If I was an agent, I would be sending them a request for a full manuscript right now.

*I mean they're not functional as books. For all I know they might make very nice shoes.
**Not that that's what I had, but I'm assuming it could be done.
***Speaking of which, does anyone out there need any shoes recommended?
****The wrinkly thing can be off-putting, but I have found it to be very comfortable, particularly for plane rides when your feet end up rather larger when you get off than when you got on.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thurscheese: Poutine

(Yesterday I told you about how I am doing my new workout routine. Today I am telling you why.)
This is poutine. A dish native to Canada (that my American spellcheck doesn't even recognize as a word) with clear familial resemblance to our own chili cheese fries, it traditionally consists of french fries topped with cheese curds and then coated with beef gravy, which melts the curds and, like the right throw rug, generally pulls the room together. The curds, while not technically fully-developed cheese, are well on their way. They taste like mild mozzarella, for good reason.

The place where we got these particular poutines was called, I think "How Do You Want Your Poutine?" (though I can find no mention of it on the interwebs, so it may be merely a poutine shop of the mind). True to their name, they offered a number of variations of the dish, none of which could be considered particularly "low calorie," though there was a small size available. (I had the small regular version. The below are both larges.)

This one was called something like the "triple meat poutine" and sported, on top of the cheese and gravy, pulled pork, sausage and Montreal smoked meat, which is basically pastrami.

It's difficult to see in this picture, but an aura of evil surrounded the entire dish.

On the other end of the meat spectrum we have this, the vegetarian poutine, made with a non-meat gravy replacement. Not vegan, though, because replacing the cheese would make the whole endeavor lose its meaning.

(Although, as a Californian, I have to suppress a small shudder at the industrial green glop in the corner trying to pass itself off as guacamole.)

As I understand it, the dish exists largely as an after-drinking food, to be purchased in the middle of the night as a way to sop up the excesses of the bar. (Shwarma also serves this purpose but, as it does not contain cheese, it will not be addressed here.) I'm not sure why it hasn't crossed over in America (or, as I found myself saying after several days in Canada, "the States")-- it has all of the necessary components for widespread success* and we are not generally a nation that is opposed to foods that pile things on top of other things**. The one suggestion I would make to aspiring poutine moguls is that you leave off the word "curds" from the description, because most people here know it primarily in connection with little Miss Muffet, while in Canada they are sold as a snack food.

Of course, it isn't all joy and cheese curds. Poutine can also be used as a weapon, which is why some groups recommend a cooling off-period, or at least a blowing-on-the-surface-and-chewing-carefully period.

*Grease, potatoes, the ability to be eaten out of a box while standing.
**Exhibit A

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Whinesday: Ow

I hurt. Not psychologically, of course; that part of my soul died years ago. But everything else is pretty sore, because I have made the not-terribly-well-thought-out decision to begin attending a fitness "boot camp" that meets in the park across the street from me. At five-thirty am.

Do you have any idea how early it is at five am? The sun isn't even up yet! It's the middle of summer! When I am waking up, I want the sun to have the decency to be there and ready for me, not hanging out below the horizon like some kind of lay person who doesn't have to get up at five am.

When I get out of bed, I do not want to be able to look up in the sky and see stars, unless I have been hit on the head with something heavy. Actually, I don't want that either, so let's just call it a complete wash.

In case you're wondering what is up in the pre-dawn hours in San Mateo parks, besides me, elderly Asian people and guys going through the trash, I would have to say "bugs" and I have bites from various wee beasties all up and down my legs* to prove it.

Oh, and the workouts? Yeah, they're basically just your usual hour of jogging, squats, jumping jacks, butt-kicks, Frankenstein kicks, squats where you jump at the end, jumping jacks where you squat at the end**, hand weights, skipping, giant rubber bands that tie your feet together, and then you have to walk (while squatting), jump-ropes***, more running, high knees, pushups, crunches, planks, stretching, and one exercise that didn't have a name because I'm fairly sure that the terrifyingly fit young woman who coaches us made it up on the spot, which involved standing on one rung of a jungle gym, holding onto another about three feet above it and pulling ourselves up with our arms. I have pains in places I didn't think I had muscles.

*Okay, there's only three. But they ITCH.
**I'm still not wholly clear on the difference between these two.
***It turns out that I am no longer any good at jumping rope. This makes me kind of sad.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shoesday: Please Ignore the Toenails, I'll Get To Them Soon

This photo brought to you by Yeah, I Need to Get a New Camera

I was feeling kind of disappointed that all of the cool sandals from the Cynthia Vincent for Target collection sold out pretty much instantly; so much so that I almost went and tried to buy a pair on ebay.

But then I thought, why should I reward the people who bought up all the pairs in the stores by paying double the retail price for the bargain-store knockoffs when, with some patience and a little luck, I can get the real deal on ShopBop for half off? And I really couldn't argue with my logic, so there you have it.

Also, the ladies over at Go Fug Yourself have indicated that clogs seem to be having a revival, although they don't seem to be too happy about it.

I Know This Conceit Has Kind Of Been Done To Death, But. . .

Spiders on a Boat

Update: Never mind, someone already made it.

Update 2: But wait! What if the spiders could swim? What if they were. . . (wait for it). . . Ocean Spiders!

Fun New Game!

Guess what it is about the following image that fills me with uncontainable rage:

The "answer" after the jump!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Perseverance of Tomatoes

Back from the North Which May Freeze Sometimes, But Not This Month and happy to report that the tomatoes are doing fine. There are no more than there were, and they're still green, but thanks to the attentions of the lady we paid to stop by every day and water them (seriously, these are going to be the most expensive tomatoes in the history of produce), they remain in the realm of the living, which is as much as I think I can hope for.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I know what you're thinking. "Did he add six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is straight Indonesian Robusta, the most powerful coffee in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel latte?

Well, do ya, punk?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shoesday: This Time I'm Ready

Very little time to post, as I am supposed to be packing for the trip to Canada I am leaving for in about three hours, but I thought I'd share one of the pairs of shoes I'm bringing with me. On last trip, where I felt a little shoe-deficient, so this time I'm bringing five pairs. (Not counting the ones I'm wearing on the plane.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Tomatoes Are Coming! Maybe!

That's right, after all this time and all these blog posts, there are actual tomatoes on my tomato plants. I know, I can't believe it either. Specifically, there are four tomatoes, each on a different plant.

This is not, I have to admit, the kind of generous bounty I was anticipating when I planted them. (Another thing I'm admitting: my camera is no longer what you would call fully functional. Possibly, after ten years, it may be time for a new one.) But it's more than I've been expecting, after losing almost half of the plants to a mold that wiped out an entire planter, and watching the remaining plants bloom for weeks to no avail.

I was starting to wonder if I was simply growing the world's ugliest flower garden when the first of the fruits popped up. And I'm going to have to assume that it is not entirely a coincidence that it happened not long after I took the advice Lisa posted on her blog (Which, by the way, she really needs to update more often. Also, other people should go there and comment, because I'm starting to feel a little creepy for having most of the comments be me.)

For those of you allergic to clicking through (have you tried calamine lotion?), she suggested that, in the absence of a local bee colony, hand-pollinating may be called for, so I sacrificed one of my eyeshadow brushes to the cause and did my best.

Which may not have been that good, since I've only got four green tomatoes, and no guarantee that they will ripen successfully. But hey, that's almost enough for a salad.

Friday, July 09, 2010

How To Dress Like a Rock Star (Lilith Fair Edition)

(I couldn't exactly call this a Shoefinder post because, as you will see, there is so much more than shoes to talk about here.)

On Monday Cameron and I joined what must have been half of all the women in the Bay Area (and very, very few of the men) at Lilith Fair, where we had a fine time and heard lots of excellent music. And, being the shallow and predictable person that I am, I became mildly obsessed with the performers' outfits, and decided I needed to do a blog post where I showed you pictures of them and how to reproduce their looks on your own. Because, really, what else was I going to do?

(Note: I'm not trying to replicate the outfits perfectly, because that would be too much work. The suggested items are meant to invoke the same style as the original, some more successfully than others.)

The first person we saw performing (actually, heard before we saw, because the line to get in stretched around the side of the venue to the stage she was on, and by the time we got there she was already into her set) was Terra Naomi, who we had been to see when she played the Bottom of the Hill a few weeks ago. It was actually a pleasant surprise that she was on the lineup for the fair-- she hadn't been when we bought the tickets, but it turned out that she was playing two sets and we ended up seeing both. (Sadly, either because we missed the beginning of the first set or because she decided it wasn't quite right for the venue, we didn't get to hear The Vicodin Song, a new addition to my list of favorite really messed-up love songs.)

The Outfit: California-simple, tie-dyed maxi dress with a long necklace and black sandals (not pictured, because I decided that asking her to pick up her skirt so I could get a shot of her shoes crossed the line from "enthusiastic fan" to "creepy fetishist.") Clearly, the guy in the Borders booth approves.

Next up was the band The Submarines, fronted by singer Blake Hazard, who was tremendously nice to me when I came up to take her picture (at the time, she was sitting on the lawn, chatting with fans) even though all I could do was babble nonsensically about my blog and repeat several times "I really liked your performance." Also, their song Sub Symphonica has a video that is both trippy and adorable, which is quite a feat to pull off.

The Outfit: Indie-feminine (feminindie? no), sailor blouse, black miniskirt and the low-top version of the Comme des Garcons Chucks that I posted on David's Shoefinder, which are making me think that I need some low-top Chucks of my own, pronto. I kind of like the idea of these, even if they aren't quite the classics.

I don't have a photo for the next performer. Or, rather, I do, but it seems to be a blurry shot of my fingers and therefore not terribly useful in this context. I'll do my best to describe her outfit, but I can't even find any pictures online so you'll have to take my word for it.

Marié Digby is best known for her acoustic take on Rhianna's "Umbrella", which got her a contract with a major label and a featured spot on the Lilith tour, which isn't too shabby at all. Also not shabby: her outfit. (Smooth transitions: I has them.)

The Outfit: Light blue sundress, red belt, brown sliver-wedge boots, straw fedora. I thought at first the boots might be the Loeffler Randall ones-- and in that case that YouTube video would have served her very well indeed, but based on the fact that they had zippers I'm going to guess not. Either way, she was the picture of the cool hipster chick on a hot day, and it was working for her.

(This post is starting to get a little long, what with all the pictures, so I think I'm going to have to continue it after the jump.)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

I Am Lame

I had posts for both Winesday and Thurscheese planned, but they did not happen. I have no excuse. Perhaps I will pre-write them for next week, perhaps I won't. Either way, I'm going to have to come up with some thing for tomorrow, or this is going to become a pattern.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Coke Means Coke

Courtesy of the Utah Attorney General, a list of all of the slang terms used for methamphetamine.

I'm partial to "The Jenny Crank Program."

Also, apparently, if you are walking around Wal-Mart for nine hours and don't buy anything, you are "geeked." No word on what you are if you do buy something.

(Thanks to Karen for this one. I'm not going to ask how she found it.)

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Real Dino-Chickens of Orange County

Remember Dino-Chickens? It turns out someone is trying to do it for real. I'll admit, I have my questions about his genetics methodology, in the sense that he doesn't really have one, but the real reason this annoys me is that now everyone is going to be writing Dino-Chicken books, and I'm going to look like I'm late for the party.

(For the record, I had not heard of this story when I wrote the original post, which was inspired (obviously) by this web comic.)

Shoesday: Presented Without Explanation

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Songs of Summer

Well, we've had the sliding door open, and the cat has spent most of the day lying on his side in cool spots, so I am forced to conclude that it must be summer. And where you have summer, you have summer music, those annual songs played on infinite repeat on your local pop station for three months and then never heard again. This year is no different, well-populated with terrible, terrible songs-- I would rather gouge my eardrums out with a popsicle stick than to have to listen to "My First Kiss," "Billionaire," or (urg) "California Gurls" again. But there is hope, good music out there, some of which has hit potential. Therefore, here are my choices for songs of the summer that do not suck.

Michael Franti, "Shake It"

Fun, bouncy goodness.

B.o.B. feat. Hayley Williams, "Airplanes"

Already a hit, the only major summer song so far that doesn't make me crazy when it gets stuck in my head.

Taio Cruz, "Break Your Heart"

Actually made the charts a while ago, but I think it has the staying power to carry through August.

Clay Walker, "She Won't Be Lonely Long"

The first time I heard this on my country station, I thought it had been around for years. That's a compliment.

Adam Lambert, "If I Had You"

I'll admit, I was not Team Glambert during his Idol run. But this is just pure, catchy dance-pop fun, and the sooner it drives Ke$ha et al off the charts, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Shoefinder: Wish I May, Wish I Might

This week's Shoefinder is going to be kind of lame, and I would like to apologize for that. As you may have noticed, I've been busy and having trouble getting the posts up in time, due to travel and also being generally lame and lazy. So I didn't manage to get a Shoefinder subject lined up in time for this week's episode, leaving me with no option but to fall back on the one person I know who always wants more in the way of shoes: myself.

Specifically, I am bringing you some things that are on my wish list. (I'm a big fan of Amazon's "Universal Wish List" button.) They're ones I haven't quite brought myself to buy yet.

These actually made it onto the list twice; I came across them the other day and added them, only to discover, when I scrolled down, that they were already there. They're still available in my size, but the one thing Zappos is not so great at is competitive pricing, and I keep holding out for a better sale. But they really are cute, and hey, I don't have any white flats.

By contrast, these boots just popped up the other day on the Lucky magazine blog, and I wishlisted them less with the intent to buy than just to keep an eye on them. I like the texture and the chunky heel, though I'd have to try them on before I was sure about that seam across the front. But these are really more an "inspiration" item than a "to buy," because, while I like them, I do not three hundred and forty-five dollars like them.

Speaking of boots, I've been wanting a pair in this style for a while now, and I have to admit that, price-wise, they seem like they're a good option. (Better, in that way, than these, which aren't available in my size anyway.) But the product reviews have me concerned about the quality, and I feel like I could stand to hold out for a sale.

Holding out for a sale is something I do a lot, sometimes to my benefit, sometimes not. For example, these sandals. I knew upon seeing them that they would make great go-to comfy summer wedges, which I would probably wear to destruction just like I've done to my last three pairs of comfy summer wedges. But ninety dollars seems a little steep, and I know Sperry does good sales, so I've been trying to wait it out. The problem with this strategy, however, is that summer sandals are the sort of thing you want to have around during the summer, and I don't know if you've noticed, but it seems to be July.

On the other hand, I have no such rush with these guys because, barring meteorological craziness, we shouldn't be seeing any serious amounts of rain until Novemberish, because this is a civilized place.

And these? These are my secret shame.

I have no business liking Tory Burch. I don't want to like Tory Burch. It is a line (ostensibly) designed by a New York socialite for other New York socialites and she (or her actual designers, or more likely her marketing team) are big into logos. I mean, really big. (Seriously, at that point, why not just go ahead and leave the price tag on?) But lately, to my horror, I have been finding myself drawn to her stuff-- like I'll be looking at something and thinking to myself, hey that's really cute, and then I'll look at the designer and it will be Tory Burch. This has been happening a lot. So, when I was in New York, I finally gave in, went to the boutique and ended up coming out with a really awesome leather jacket (no logos). And now that I have accepted that this is who I am, I find myself looking at more of her stuff and liking it, and the shame is slipping away.

These sandals, I will admit, do have a logo, but it's a small one. And despite the thong they look fairly comfortable. In fact, the main thing that's keeping me from buying them is that I saw them elsewhere at a greater discount, but couldn't pull the trigger before my size sold out, and now I'm reluctant to pay more for them. That, and everything I just said.

And finally, at the other end of the brand-concern spectrum, we have these. I've written about them before and actually, the only reason I haven't bought them yet is I just haven't gotten around to it. Which I can see I am going to have to do soon, because I could only find one website that had them in my size in "berry," which is obviously the color to go for here.

If you'll excuse me, I think I have some business to take care of.

This Octopus! Let's Give Him Boots!

O Fortuna: Misheard Lyrics Version


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Thurscheese: Do You Know Jack?

Because I thought I did, but I had never heard of a dry Monterey Jack cheese before. I've always thought of Monterey Jack as one of the default cheeses; inoffensive on a sandwich, deriving its main source of excitement from the occasional addition of brightly-colored pepper bits. It never occurred to me that it could be taken seriously as a cheese, with aging and a fancy label and everything.

As it turns out, aged dry Monterey Jack is actually quite tasty. Nothing too big or bold, just a mild nuttiness and some salt-- if you'd told me it was a relative of Parmesan I would have believed you. (But then, I'm very credulous, and easily led.) It's made in Sonoma, which strikes me as slightly inappropriate, but convenient, because it means I can include it as a stop on my long-planned North Bay cheese tour, assuming I ever stop planning that and actually get around to doing it. Stay Tuned.