Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Broker's Gin

While up in D.C. (a post about my trip is forthcoming), I went to a Christmas party with the friend I was staying with. It was just a little get together at someone's apartment and there were probably about 20 people there. After having a little bit of wine, I noticed that someone brought some stuff for gin & tonics, so I decided to have one. The gin was called Broker's Gin, and, I have to admit, the main reason my curiosity was piqued was because the bottle has a black bowler for a cap. Cheesy? Perhaps. Did it make me want to drink gin? It certainly did.

Broker's Gin, apparently, is made in Birmingham, England, so I guess it has some British street cred. While I don't consider myself a gin connoisseur, I do enjoy it and prefer Beefeaters. It seems to strike a good balance to me in terms of good flavor without being too expensive (or prentious; Tanqueray anyone?). That said, in spite of having two gin & tonics, I didn't really notice that the gin was particularly good. It wasn't bad, but it didn't seem to be anything special. I feel like my opinion was justified, however, when I read this review of the gin today. They seemed to agree that the flavor wasn't that great; however, they did point out that this gin is 94 proof, which is pretty impressive, so apparently it will help you get tanked faster. According to that review, it cost about $20 for a bottle, which isn't too bad, and seems to be in between Gordon's and Beefeater in terms of price. Given the choice between the two, I think I would probably end up choosing Gordon's over Brokers, but at least the bottle looks good on the shelf.

In the News

"Rom-coms 'Spoil Your Love Life'"

(Please note that I would never personally use the term "rom-com" in reference to romantic comedies)

I saw this article and feel like it really confirms the suspicions I've had (and many men have had) about these movies for a while. I guess it is a not a surprising result since most females nowadays don't really seem to have many better places to look for romantic advice than romantic comedies and episodes of "Friends" and "Sex in the City." Additionally, I think that Nicholas Sparks, and the drivel that he passes off as "novels" (that eventually get made into movies), also play a big part in this unrealistic perspective on love.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Trip to D.C. (or: How Many Times Can I Use the Title of My Blog as the Basis for a Pithy Post Title?)

This is not my photo. It is a sweet HDR photo of the Capitol by a flickr user named NearDC

Having finished up my second to last semester of grad school yesterday, I set out early tomorrow morning for D.C. I am going to visit one of my best friends from college, as well as to try to see if I can't round up a job for when I graduate in May (or at least make some good contacts). I have a pretty decent itinerary shaping up, and I've got three meetings and a phone meeting scheduled with some D.C.-area real estate folks, so hopefully things should go well. I love D.C. around this time of year, so even if the job stuff doesn't pan out, it will be nice to be up there.

For the drive up I have a the past two episodes of This American Life which I haven't listened to yet. I also got audiobooks of When You Are Engulfed in Flames and Naked by David Sedaris from the Clemson Library (at least I am getting some of my tuition money's worth in terms of checking out books for pleasure reading, or listening, in this case).

While up in D.C. I also hope to maybe stop by Denim Bar. It's not like I have any money to spend on jeans (I am, in fact, now into my "cushion fund," which is slightly disconcerting), but I would be nice to finally pay a visit to that place.

Anyways, I'm not sure how many posts I'll make while up there (not that you, dear reader, have exactly come to expect new posts on a regular basis, for which I hope you will forgive me), but I will at least return with lots of good pictures.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In the News

"Penny-Pinchers Go Preppy in Economic Downturn"

Someone posted this article on a particular men's clothing forum that I have been known to frequent. I thought it was a pretty decent little article. A the title "Penny-Pinchers Go With Traditional American Style in Economic Downturn" might have been more accurate, I suppose that the alliteration does work better. Nonetheless, I think the part about the increasing sales of logo-less purses is pretty interesting.

The article also touches on the "old money" notion of not flaunting one's wealth, which is an idea that I think is really missing from modern Western culture. In a quote from the article, Bud Konheim, who is (apparently) the chief executive of fashion house Nicole Miller says “You don’t brag about paying $10,000 for a dress for a party…You’re either a sucker or showing off when people have lost jobs.” I like principle of "understated elegance" and it's really something that guide what clothes I purchase. Don't get me wrong, I don't exactly have "wealth," nor do I come from either "old" or "new" money, but I do appreciate buying quality clothes, that often cost a little more (though a lot of mine come from second-hand sources), but that do not advertise how much they cost.

Case in point, in my post about Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford's arrest on Monday, Tammy B pointed out that Larry Langford was arrested in what appears to be a Burberry (no longer Burberrys, mind you; apparently that was too confusing for the people that buy that garbage nowadays) nova check shirt. Here is a photo:

A similar shirt is shown on the Burberry website as retailing for $250. Now, if I was about to be arrested on counts of bribery and money laundering, including accounts of how I spent $50,000 at a Birmingham men's clothing store, I don't think I would be making my court apperance in a $250 shirt that explicitly advertises exactly what it is and how much it costs. Perhaps this example is not really relavent to the topic, though, since that man is so blatantly stupid as is.

Anyways, be sure to check out the article.

Monday, December 1, 2008

3rd Annual Day-After-Thanksgiving Sporting Clay Shoot

For the past three years now, I have gone with my dad, brother, cousin, and uncles up to Brush Creek Sporting Club to shoot sporting clays. It is located outside of Athens and has always been a lot of fun. In addition to the 12 station sporting clays course that we have done each year, they also have 5-Stand Clays (which I have never done), as well as offering a couple of different hunting options. The people are really nice and things seem to be well-run. Here are a couple of pictures.

The Yildiz in action

The brother and I after shooting

David Sedaris "Six to Eight Black Men"

After listening to and enjoying several David Sedaris pieces on "This American Life" over the past few months, I went on Youtube to see what other content could be found on there. I came across his reading of his essay "Six to Eight Black Men" and could not stop laughing. Seriously. This is hilarious, and if you've got about 20 minutes, you should definitely listen to all three parts. Also, considering its references to Santa Claus, it is quite seasonal.

"Baby It's Cold Outside"

Since it has essentially become associated with Christmas, I pretty much wait 11 months out of the year to listen to this song. It is awesome (in spite of a good friend referring to it as "the date rape song"). Personally, I prefer the classic version by Margaret Whiting and Johnny Mercer, but Over the Rhine has a really good version on their album "Live From Nowhere, Vol. 2." And since the overnight low is going to be 29 degrees tonight, I think that the atmospheric conditions have certainly been met...

In the News

Dressing Alike Everyday Habit For This Couple

This is pretty disgusting. I have often lamented how poor America's dress standards have dropped, but this has to be a new low. I think this quote really sums it up: "The couple has more than 100 matching Hawaiian silk shirts, dozens and dozens of matching Croc clogs and assorted matching everything else from jeans to pajamas to watches and even fanny packs." Crocs? Fanny packs? I really don't think this could get any worse.


Larry Langford Arrested on 101-count Indictment

How soon can we get someone else in office?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

County Comm

In an email exchange with Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean today he mentioned a store called County Comm. While he was mainly pointing out the NATO watch straps that they have (only $12!), after looking around at the rest of the products they have, it is clear that they have some awesome stuff. Here are some personal favorites:

The aforementioned NATO watch straps (that orange is pretty sweet looking, and they are available in sizes up to 22mm)- $12.00

Peanut Lighter- $5.00

Marathon quartz watch
(similar to the one I mentioned in my watch post, but this one shows the date, and is $20 cheaper)- $125.00

XL Bail Out Bag (the bag on the right; I really like this thing)- $39.00

Martac Range Bag
(I like laptop compartment on the side)- $69

I should mention that County Comm really needs to work on the navigability of their website. A list of a good number of things on their website can be found here.

Good news about the Ryan Adams show

As some of you may remember, I had quite a frustrating experience at the show Ryan Adams played in Alpharetta back in October. Well, word on the street was that there was work being done to make it up to everyone who was at the show, but I figured I would believe it when I saw it. Well, today I saw it.

The Cardinals will be playing a show at the Fox Theatre on March 20th, and anyone who had tickets to the October show can mail in their tickets or stop by the Fox or the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater and trade in their tickets for free tickets to the show in March. I am quite impressed that Ryan and the Cards and their management stepped up and did this. I think this will go a long way to currying favor with the Atlanta fans who felt let down by the band in October. In fact, I believe that most people will agree that the venue is a bit of an upgrade, though I must admit that being at my parents' house out in the suburbs, it was kind of nice to not have to drive downtown last time. The Fox is pretty incredible, though.

You can get the details about the ticket exchange in this article or here:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

J. Crew Timex military watch alternatives

I'm suspecting that Michael Williams over on A Continuous Lean did not expect all of the backlash he would get from suggesting the J. Crew Timex military watch on his holiday gift guide. I'm a little bit divided on the subject because while I agree that it is a pretty cool looking watch, and is a unique item that can only be found at J. Crew, it is a little pricey for a quartz watch. I certainly don't think it was a poor decision to suggest it for his gift guide, though, especially since the guide was suggestions of presents for women to give to men. While it is true actual Timex military watches can be found on Ebay from time to time, and while these would be preferable to the J. Crew version, it's not exactly comparing apples to apples since you simply can't choose to buy one whenever you want. Because of this, I've decided to create a little list of alternative watches that are similar to the J. Crew one. Hope you enjoy.

Name: Military Watch
Source: US Cavalry
Movement: Quartz
Price: $13.99

Name: Squad Leader Watch
Source: US Cavalry
Movement: Quartz
Price: $27.99

Name: Camper
Source: Timex
Movement: Quartz
Price: $35.00

Name: Field Watch
Source: Orvis
Movement: Quartz
Price: $69.00

Name: Classic Field Watch
Source: LL Bean
Movement: Quartz
Price: $89.00

Name: Vintage Field Watch
Source: LL Bean
Movement: Quartz
Price: $89.00

Name: Marathon Special Field Watch
Source: Westcoastime
Movement: Manual wind
Price: $145.00

Name: Stainless Automatic Watch
Source: Orvis
Movement: Automatic
Price: $149.00

My thoughts:
I think that the Squad Leader Watch from US Cavalry is a surprisingly good looking watch, especially for the price. I have the Orvis Field Watch and it is a decent little quartz watch. I haven't worn it in a while, it needs a new battery, but makes a nice looking choice for a beater.

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Making the Grade"

The other night I watched the 1984 movie "Making the Grade." I rented this movie per a recommendation from the the Ralph Lauren Rugby blog. Wow, I have to say that this movie was quite abysmal. It features subpar acting and an awful story. It also features Judd Nelson as the only actor that I remotely recognized. The only redeeming quality of this movie, and it is quite the redeemer, is that the movie plays like a film version of the Official Preppy Handbook. Frankly, it was pretty amazing. While parts of it definitely fall into the category of "over the top" prep, the rest of it is simply khakis, shetland sweater, boat shoes, penny loafers, and tweed jackets. I won't really waste time by going into details about the movie (because it doesn't deserve it) other than stating that the movie takes place at a Northeastern prep school during the 80s, instead I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.

The scene when Judd Nelson's character arrives at Hoover Academy.

That's a lot of polo shirts.

Note the ribbon belt.

Guys in this movie wore sweaters around their shoulders so often that it almost appeared normal. The guy with green sweater is the typical preppy antagonist, unoriginally named "Biff."

Although pants were not actually worn this short during the movie, it was interesting that they included this shot when Judd Nelson's character (not originally a prep) was getting a lesson on what to wear to fit in.

Note the awesome lacrosse poster on the wall.

Nice selection of footwear. Also the directors seem to be under the impression that prep students love to smoke pipes.

Judd Nelson is wearing Chuck Taylors in this scene.

The girls from a nearby girls prep school.

A nice selection of ties.

Too much madras? Impossible.

I'm not sure which I like more: the girls in tartan or the guy in the patch madras pants.

The girls while watching the lacrosse game.

After watching the lacrosse scene, I'm pretty sure that the filmmakers had never actually seen a lacrosse game.

Awesome Bean Boots.

Nice looks shetland sweater.

The oxford over the polo shirt was pretty prevalent in the movie.

Note the Bean Norwegian sweater.

Judd Nelson and his love interest in a sweet down vest.

One thing I noted was how prevalent kelly green was in this movie, either in sweater or corduroy pants form. It made me really want to add some to my own wardrobe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Smathers & Branson shotgun shell key fob

As much as I like emblematic belts, like those offered by Leather Man Ltd., I've never really gotten into the whole Smathers & Branson needlepoint belt thing. It may have something to do with being unwilling to part with $165 for a belt, but I think it also has to do with the fact that many of them look a little too cartoonish for me (though I will point out that if someone would like to actually make a needlepoint belt for me, I would be more than willing to accept and wear it). However, I was in a men's store the yesterday and spotted this S&B key fob that I really like:

I don't really have any need for anything else on my keys, but at $35, it did seem like a pretty nifty little gift. Note that it can be found and ordered on their website.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Levi's 501s at J. Crew

You have to hand it to Mickey Drexler and everyone at J. Crew: they certainly haven't been resting on their laurels. Between launching both a men's store and a women's store, adding the "J. Crew Collection" (and a new Collection store), and taking the brand up-market inspite of a down economy, it is clear that Drexler is not one to stand still. Additionally, this past year J. Crew has begun offering products in direct partnership with larger brands including Red Wing Shoes, Mackintosh, and using Thomas Mason fabrics for their shirts. Their latest partnership is a bit of a puzzler to me, though.

I was looking at the J. Crew website this morning and came across a pair of "Vintage slim fit 501 jeans in dark rinse wash." I'm curious about a couple of things.

First, I am a bit surprised to see Levi's doing this type of partnership. Clearly with the current popoularity of 501s and classic American clothing in general, it does seem advantageous for both parties. I guess it's just that I wouldn't have really expected to have Levi's allow their products to be sold under someone else's name.

Second, the jeans themselves are a bit of a mystery, and the description on the website doesn't really seem to help any. They seem to be selvedge, but do not appear to be raw denim (i.e.- shrink-to-fit). They also say "Import" meaning that they are likely made in Mexico. While they have a non-standard leather label, the wash, "Dark Rinse", is one that is available for regular (sanfordized) 501s. It is difficult to tell just how "slim fitting" they are without being able to directly compare them to a regular pair of 501s.

With price tag of $265, I'm afraid that it is simply a bit of a bait and switch for people who don't know any better. These basically appear to be regular 501s with selvedge denim that were probably made in Mexico (or some 3rd world country). They should probably retail for about half that price. In fact, I was able to pick up a pair of Mexico-made (raw) selvedge 501s off the Levi's website on sale for about $40 several months back. I believe they may have been marked down from about $100. For the price J. Crew is asking, one could buy some very nice (read: quality) pairs of jeans (A.P.C., Nudie, etc.) and definitely get more for their money. Even if someone wanted a pair of slimmer fitting 501s, a repro of the 1947 501s from SugarCane only cost $247 from Denim Bar. They are based on the actual pattern for the 1947 Levi's and are made in Japan.

I guess I'm somewhat conflicted by J. Crew offering these jeans. On one hand, I think it is a little bit low for the company to be ripping off people by selling these jeans that seem to represent something, when they are, in fact, something else entirely. On the other hand, I have to hand it to them for doing so since it is simply capitalism, and if someone wants to drop that much cash on a pair of jeans without knowing why they cost that much, more power to them. Caveat emptor.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fantasy Football: Week 11

This just in: Chris Whatley is my bitch.

Netflix: Just getting better and better

I signed up for Netflix almost a year ago, and while I have consistently been pleased, last night I was reaffirmed that my $15 a month is a much better investment than shelling out $50+ a month for cable.

As many people know, Netflix offers a number of movies and TV shows to watch instantly on your computer. However, the selection on there has always been pretty weird, to say the least. While there have been some gems mixed in there, it has mostly been made up of low-budget movies and TV shows from the 80s and 90s, along with a number of black and white movies from the 40s that I have never heard of. In spite of this, I could usually find something to watch on there if I was really bored and both of the DVDs that I get were in the mail.

However, last night I poking around on the Watch Instantly section and noticed a new genre called "Stars Play." I hadn't seen it before, so I clicked on it and was amazed at the number of new releases and "real" movies that are on there. There were at least three or four movies in my regular queue that were now on the "Stars Play" list, and even more that I went ahead and added to my queue. Needless to say, I am pretty excited, and now have even more options to entertain me when Fox (the only channel I get) insists on having evenings made up of nothing but "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" and "Don't Forget the Lyrics."

Michael Crichton: 1942-2008

I meant to write this last week, but I ended up being busier than I had planned. It wasn't until last week that I found out that author Michael Crichton passed away on November 4th from throat cancer. I guess that it likely got swept aside in all of the hubbub surrounding the election. However, I was really disappointed to hear this news and was somewhat annoyed that I didn't find out about it until a week later.

While I can't say that I have read a lot of Crichton's books, I can still remember the first times reading both Jurassic Park and The Lost World and what an imparct they had on me. They are still some of my favorite fiction books and I love the way that he was able to incorporate cutting edge real-world science into his stories to make them that much more believable (which I guess was his forte). Anyways, I'd suggest checking out his website; there is a good summary of all of his work and includes a number of essays that he's written on various topics.

Michael Crichton, you will be missed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


While listened to the The Moth Podcast today, I heard the October 20th episode which is entitled "My Outsourced Life" and features a guy named A.J. Jacobs In it, Jacobs recounts his experience in hiring an Indian outsourcing company (Brickwork India) to handle some work tasks for him, before eventually hiring them to handle a plethora of personal tasks in his life. The story is also recounted in an article he wrote about it in Esquire which can be found here.

While his experience was entertaining and interesting, at the end of the podcast, Jacobs was talking about how he had been racked with guilt that perhaps in hiring this foreign firm, he was taking jobs away from hard-working Americans. That is, until he received an email from a guy who had an IT job that was outsourced to India. After reading Jacobs' article, the guy hired an outsourcing firm to find him a job, which they managed to do in about a week.

This has really got me thinking. I am currently trying to find a job, in real estate, which is proving to be quite difficult, not surprisingly. If this firm can really do what they guy said what they did for him, I believe I would seriously consider hiring them, assuming if I could manage to gather up the necessary cash.

This post doesn't really have a particular "point," however I just really found that one idea quite compelling.

In the News

I may try to make this a semi-regular topic (for those that care). These are a few news stories I saw this week that were pretty interesting.

Mad Dogs and Englishmen- An article about British citizens are essentially unable to defend them from personal attack due to the convoluted British law. Hat tip to Ammo Guns and War Blog.

Google Uses Searches to Track Flu's Spread- Pretty self-explanatory title, but quite interesting, nonetheless.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Over the Rhine concert: Athens, GA

Last night I went down to Athens to see Over the Rhine perform at a place called the Melting Point. After my Ryan Adams experience a month ago, I have to say that my concert standards were not very high. Fortunately, Over the Rhine put on one hell of show. Certainly the best concert I've seen this year, and probably in my top five of all time.

I think that part of the key to the success of the concert was the mediocre opening act who preceded them. The guy wasn't terrible (I don't even remember his name), but by the time he was wrapping up, I was more than ready for him to get off stage (and I'm not convinced that this wasn't an intentional strategy on behalf of the band). Anyways, OtR finally came out and opened with "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time," the lead track from their latest studio album, The Trumpet Child. This may be one of my favorite OtR songs (the trumpet piece at the beginning of the song on the album is outstanding) and was really a great way to start the show. They ended up playing a lot of songs from Trumpet Child, but actually did a great job of mixing in a lot of older songs. They've been around since the early 90s, so they have quite a good bit of material to choose from. I was also really impressed with the way they balanced performing the original arrangements of some songs while doing extended jams on other songs. This included a 2-3 minute drum solo on the song "Who'm I Kiddin' But Me" that was pretty unreal.

A live performance of "I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time" (not from last night's concert)

Most of the OtR music that I own is from some of their older albums (like Ohio), but I have been listening to Trumpet Child online a good bit lately (you can do the same here). Trumpet Child has a decidedly more jazzy and playful tone to it than some of their older stuff, and while I liked it, I wasn't quite sure about their move in that direction. However, after hearing them live, the newer songs really seemed to come into their own and were excellent. Also, Karin's voice is really on a different level in a live setting and is frankly, incredible. She and Linford also provided some nice banter in between songs.

Anyways, as I stated before, this concert really was excellent, and if OtR is going to be playing anywhere near you, I would highly recommend you going. As an added highlight to the evening, Katy Bowser was working the merchandise table and I got to speak with her after the concert. She has been very involved with the Indelible Grace movement and sings on most of, if not all, of the Indelible Grace CDs.

As a bit of a side note, after the concert my friend and I went to downtown Athens to visit a friend of mine who is a bartender at this place called Bourbon Street. She was supposed to be working that night, so I figured I would stop by and say hello. Well, the bar was packed and it took us about 5 minutes to get up to the bar where I found out that my friend wasn't working that night. So, we turned around and started to head out and when I was about 10 feet from the door, squeezing my way through the crowd, I felt/heard what I thought was someone drop a beer next to my left foot. I looked down and saw a white puddle, which I assumed was foam from a beer, and turned around to look at the girl behind me. She was pretty hot, wearing a black cocktail dress and had something on her face. About that time, she said aloud, to no one in particular as far as I could gather, "Oh, I just puked on myself." No, that puddle next to my foot was not beer. Seeing as how I haven't thrown up since 1993 and how I have learned in that time to steer clear of such situations, I made my way to the door as quickly as I could. Outside I discovered that I had become collateral damage and the girl had managed to get some vomit on my Barbour and on my shoes. I went in a bar next door and got a cup of water and some napkins to clean up with a bit. I assure you, however, that I have never been more grateful to Mr. John Barbour and his invention of waxed cotton.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pimento cheese: UPDATE

Thanks for all of the suggestions and comments from everyone regarding my pimento cheese troubles. I appreciate the recipes and advice. Given all of that information, yesterday I headed off to the grocery store to get the necessary ingredients. I ended up following the recipe (or technique, rather) of Anonymous at 12:33PM since it appeared to be the easiest and seemed to be the way that I would imagine most grandmothers have made it over the years. After experimenting with my ratio of mayo and peppers (and adding a bit more onion than was originally suggested), I was finally able to create a delicious concoction worthy to be called "pimento cheese." Perhaps all it required was having a better understanding of the ingredients and where the unique flavor comes from, but now I am afraid that I am having trouble restraining myself from eating the entire batch this weekend.