December 2008

Nathan and I are back in the Land of Enchantment celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ/the winter solstice/consumerism/snowmen(!), and of course doing so in as culturally unique a way as possible.

Exhibit 1:

Luminarias (for the Burquenos)/Faralitos (for the Santa Feans)

Luminarias (for the Burquenos)/Faralitos (for the Santa Feans)

Cuz nothing says Christmas quite like pouring sand into brown paper lunch sacks and nesting a tea candle in it.

Note: picture taken on Canyon Road in Santa Fe (though not by anyone I know [at least I don’t think so]), a road with a great many art galleries and other culturally significant shenanigans where our family goes and walks around every Christmas eve. It’s usually really, really cold– but man, are those Luminarias que fabulouso!

In any case, wishing you and yours a marvelous holiday season!

P.S.: A quick word from Sufjan,

(Seriously, give your poor grandmother a call, she’d love to hear from you. After all, it’s Christmas!)


For your pre-holiday pleasure.

Amazing visual design for the presentation of Majo Fruithof’s 2009 collection. I’m not huge into all of the jewelry, but the chic kabuki two-tone thing going on with the models is amazing. Check out still pics on this page. Via Wickedhalo.

So we all love the internet, but it’s easy to forget how most of web traffic passes through only a couple of chokepoints in the global fiberoptic infrastructure. I was reminded of this most recently by the fact that the Middle East lost 75% of it’s traffic capacity on Friday. It’s not like it’s first time – a tunnel fire in 2001 had wide-ranging effects as well. Anyway, let that be some perspective for you.

In less serious news, If It’s Hip It’s Here has a great post that roundups the amazing poster designs that were created in the run-up to Mr. Obama’s election as our next President. I think this is my favorite:


Poster by Chaz Maviyane. Oh, also, if you’re interested in both graphic design and presidential marketing (and who isn’t?) you should absolutely check out this post on Logo Design Love about the development of the Obama 08 campaign logo.

In Argentina, there’s a suburb designed to look like Evita’s face. How wierd but strangely neat is that? (via Strange Maps).

My friend Jared Axelrod has a list of the top “outsider” Xmas movies. I’m gonna have to check that shit out. Thanks Jared!

Seven images that are too badass to be real, but they are. Real, that is. (Via Dev)

Artificial intelligence is here, and it hates its parents. iTunes is emo! Who knew?

For that post-christmas gift for the green dude in your life: Coto. Non-traditional ties and cufflinks made in a sustainable, eco-friendly manner.

And last, but not least, the periodic table of awesomeness. It’s even funnier if you know something about chemistry (which I don’t). Check the link for the full size image. Originally from The Dapperstache, as far as I can tell.

Wow. So, this is one of the most truly innovative uses of internet video that I’ve yet encountered. Also, it’s totally sweet. Check it out.

I only failed twice!

Thanks to Mr. John Wick for posting it.

Just a few quick suggestions from a recent trip Nathan and I made (as well as a couple old favorites):


Super rad little boutique down in the South End (On Tremont Street). Mostly men’s clothing, though a couple things for the ladies as well. The highlight of this place is definitely the t-shirts– they have a full rack of kickin’ designs, and as an added bonus, when we went everything was on sale. Also a great variety of bags, both messenger and otherwise, for that special someone on your list who needs to carry something. They (because how could they not?) also had a great selection of funky little accessories (Stocking stuffer, anyone?). Pricey, but not any more so then similar stores.

Black Ink

Super nifty little “cool shit” design shop with locations in Harvard Square and Beacon Hill. It’s difficult to really describe the merchandise here aside from to say that if you want a whole lot of interesting, design things in one place, this is that place. Great for little knick-knacks, as well as semi-ironic gifts for your semi-ironic friends. They also have a ton of Tin TIn related items, from very nice watches to t-shirts to posters. As a side note, the Black Ink also has a link the Museum of Useful Things, which apparently has ceased to exist as a non-digital entity, but where you can continue to spend some digital cash. Speaking of cash (both digital and the paper variety), you will spend a lot of it if you shop here and buy more then one or two things. The problem is that you’ll want to do just that.

Planet Records

One of the very few record stores in Boston that is not either Newbury Comics or CD Spins, off of Harvard Square on JFK St. They have a ton of cds and records in a very small space, and a fairly comprehensive collection (though, of course, typical used record store rules apply. Which is to say, the only stuff they have is that which other people apparently do not…). The best thing about this place is the wicked cheap prices, you can get most any cd for under ten dollars, and the records are an even better bargain. They were also selling little packs of 5 cd’s wrapped up in white paper for 1$ (and I believe 7 records for 1$). Of course, you can’t see which cd’s it is that your buying, if your in the mood for a little bit of excitement, they’re fun at the very least.

Lame Duck Books

My absolute favorite book store in the world. Off of Mass Ave. just south of Harvard Square, they have an absolutely world class selection of books in English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, and a few others to boot. If you are ignore the fact that it’s a recession, these guys carry first edition copies of books by authors such as (in case you might have heard of them) James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Friedrick Nietzsche– you get the idea. Oh, and did I mention most of those first editions are signed? The best part is that the proprietor (a truly fabulous individual) is always eager to show off the collection, so even if you don’t have an extra 20 grand in your pocket, you can still check out some of the most incredible books you will ever see. Of course, they have a great selection of used books of sightly less scholarly interest, but still, don’t walk in if your not willing to drop at least $50 on a book. For the bibliophile in your life, the one who will love you forever after you get them something from this gem.


One of my favorite places in Davis Square, they have one of the better collections of the aforementioned “cool shit” in town. Of particular note are the great t-shirts (for both men and the ladies), some awesome posters and postcards of Davis Square and Greater Boston, and these super cool blank journals that are made out of re-purposed library books. They’ve got lots of great little things, and most won’t quite break the bank (though, they will, of course, come closer to that then you’d like).

So there’s a few little ideas to get you started heading into the last shopping weekend before the holidays.  I’ll be finishing up back here in Albuquerque though, so expect a South Western version of the previous post (or something like it) in the soon.

Fuck You Penguin. The blog where cute animals get told. (Thanks Liz!)

Board Game Gift Guide. Great ideas for solid board games. And who doesn’t like board games? From Ogrecave.

The largest 3d scale model of the universe ever created. In 1:93,000 scale. At The University of Maine at Preque Isle. Only in Maine, I swear.

Oh! And this? This is NSFW. Turn your volume up.

Enjoy the sudden onset of winter, Bostonians. Keep warm.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a show at the Middle East Downstairs, thanks to my buddy Dev. The lineup: Barnicle, The Toothaches, Bon Savants, and finally Freezepop. We came in near the beginning of Barnicle’s set, so I had a chance to check out each of the acts, none of which I knew anything about beforehand.

The Barnicle’s were pretty neat. As is par for the course for such things, the engineer wasn’t EQing for a female vocalist, so I have no idea how lyrically interesting the songs were; however, the band is a solid rock/pop fourpiece with some good hooks and booty-shaking beats. They reminded me a lot of early Tsunami Bomb, but without the punk-rock aesthetic. The swarm of under-21 fans close up to the stage leads me to believe that they’re fairly young, but I really have no idea. I did hang back, however, so as not to be the creepy guy with a beer standing in the middle of the college kids.

Irony: Low, Musicianship: Medium, Look: Medium. Overall: Generally Medium+

Next up, the Toothaches. As it so happens, I knew the main singer/keyboardist/percussionist/crowd riler, Rose. I used to work with her, and didn’t know she was in a band! So that was a fun surprise. The Toothaches are a pretty non-standard rock outfit, with songs full to bursting with funness and randomocity. Also, oversized sunglasses. Not the best dancing music, but definitly something to out-indie your friends with. And catching up with Rose after their set was cool.

Irony: High, Musicianship: High but Wierd, Look: Good. Overall: Wierdly High

So, our prediction was that the next band would continue the trend of female singers, hopefully adding more keyboards. Unfortunately, such was not to be. Bon Vivant…well, I think we ended up categorizing them as music to pretentiously make out too (which was happening around us, by the by). An all-male four-piece with a vaguely indie-rock sound (imagine the Killers or the Strokes in terms of the voice), they did no crowd-working whatsover and managed to string their set together into a mess of “which-song-are-they-on-again?” underwhelmingness. Not only did they not fit into the rest of the night musically, I found their stage presence to be pretentious and their music to be completely non-memorable

Irony: High, in the bad way. Musicianship: Technically good. Look: Who? Overall: Poor

And finally, Freezepop. I have much love in my heart for all things electro, and by the time we had waded through Bon Vivant I was aching to dance, so the heavy synth beats and bleep-bleep riffs were a sorely-needed climax to the evening. I was told by my older friends that they were basically Devo but with a chick singer; I’m too young for Devo to have been a big part of my upbringing, so I’m glad I’ve found the modern equivalent. With songs ranging in subject matter from ninjas to sharks to local wierd celebrity DJ Nighttrain, not to mention covers of Depeche Mode and Europe, I was in keytaur heaven. My only ish was that they broke between songs to work the audience, which was cool, but I was in dance mode so it kind of broke the groove a bit. But that’s a small ish to have. If I had had any cash left I would have bought stuff; as it was, today saw me making an iTunes purchase to tide me over until after holidays, when I can pick up some CDs without feeling guilty.

Irony: High, in the best way. Musicianship: Awesome. Look: Grand. Overall: My legs are sore from dancing!

Overall, a solid evening. If you’re into 80s kitsch and sweet electro, I heartily recommend some Freezepop for you; also, give The Toothaches a look if you have wierd taste in rock music.

So I spend a good deal of time on the internets following links to cool stuff. In longstanding blog tradition, I think the occasional roundup is in order.

  • Poster of the hierarchy of beards. This applies to way too many people in my life. Via Boingboing.
  • An amazing dark art video at SHOWstudio: Insensate. It’s apparently inspired by Predator and Wizard of Oz.
  • Marguerite Savage does some amazing illustration. Her blog is in French, so I’m not too clear on what her overall deal is, but boy is it pretty to look at. There’s also a shop, and if you’re in Europe the prices aren’t even that bad!
  • Arte International offers a staggering array of beautiful wall coverings. I’m sure I can’t afford them, but the site is worth browsing. Via If It’s Hip It’s Here.
  • Bad Astronomy is a here-to-fore unknown to me blog about science and stuff like that. I’m adding to my reader! Science is neat.
  • Victory City, the city of the Future! Boy howdy. I wish there was a rocket ship in the concept art somewhere, but alas.
  • No Pudge Fat-Free Brownies! Just add yogurt! As a brownie-lover, I’m skeptical yet intensely curious.
  • Brilliant homage to coffee in coffeestain cartoons & captions at The New York Times Online. Via Rob Donoghue.
  • Auditorium is a beatiful and astonishingly good abstract strategy game. You should give it a look-see, I promise you you won’t regret it. And remember to turn up your sound. Via Daniel Solis.

Also, here’s to the first snowfall of the season here in Boston!

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