Saturday, August 23, 2008

An autumnal wishlist

Fall is approaching, ever so slowly, and my thoughts are now turning towards autumn clothing. As I believe I have mentioned before, it is my favorite season, clothing-wise, and I always look to it with great anticipation. I would say, however, that I feel like I really am approaching a point where I have assembled a near-complete wardrobe. Aside from replacing my entire set of khakis and picking up some more tweed jackets (which, income-wise, are at least a year away), there isn't too much that I am looking to acquire. These are a few of the items that I have been thinking about, though:

Drifter Cardigan from Lands End

Although I do not own a cardigan at this point, I like this one because it seems to have a less old-manish cut, and also doesn't have those dumb little pockets on it.

Shawl-collar fleece pullover from J. Crew

Although more closely resembling a sweatshirt than a sweater, I think this is a really good looking piece.

Red Wing classic Irish Setter boots

These are a reproduction of the Red Wing 877 for J. Crew. They apparently even have the old Irish Setter tags on the inside. Frankly, these boots are amazing. Unfortunately, for $325, they will likely not be mine and I will have to settle for the regular issue Red Wing 877s.

Old school jams

Just in case you weren't aware, better rap music and rap music videos were not made before, and have not been made since 1997. I present the following video evidence:

Friday, August 22, 2008

Jezebel article on "fast fashion," and my thoughts as well

This article was pointed out by someone on Ask Andy: We Love Cheap Stuff, But Fast Fashion Is Hard To Defend. It really is a well written article that brings up a lot of the issues with the "fast fashion" movement that seems to be ever-increasing in speed. For the most part, it is more of a problem for women, though I suppose there are men out there somewhere who have fallen victim to this way of shopping and dressing.

The goal in building my wardrobe over the past couple of years has been to buy quality products that will last for years; items that do not go out of fashion nor items that will fall apart, even after extended wear.

Additionally, another goal has been to create a wardrobe in which any individual item can be worn with nearly any other item. For example, a shirt might be able to be worn with any pair of pants or shorts, or a tie might be able to go with nearly any other shirt. I feel like I have also achieved this goal, for the most part, and it is quite refreshing to not feel confined to particular "outfits" (although this, too, seems to be a phenomenon that women primarily deal with).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vanity Fair Squash Blog

I'm so glad that Alex Beam at Vanity Fair was able to combine two of my passions: blogs and squash. Please go here to enjoy. Hat tip to A Continuous Lean for pointing it out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Recovery Room, Charleston, SC

For the past seven weeks after church I have visited the Recovery Room in Charleston for brunch. I suspect that my friends are getting annoyed about how much I talk about this place, but frankly, it is pretty fantastic.

Located on upper King Street, practically beneath the Crosstown Connector, it isn't exactly in a great part of town, but it certainly adds to the bar's unique character. Inside, it is a windowless dive bar with plenty of neon and kitschy decor. The food is greasy brunch fare (along with yogurt and granola, for those trying to be healthy) and includes egg sandwiches, massive omelets, biscuits with chicken fingers covered in your choice of honey or gravy (or, if you are like me, you might accidentally get both), and "hash browns," which are better known as "tater tots." Another highlight are the $2.50 mimosas which are hard to pass up.

The place is run by Chris Boston who came from Moe's Crosstown. I must admit that he was so friendly and hilarious as our server the first day we went there, that my affinity for the place is probably due in large part to his personality. My only complaint is that it can take a while to get your food after you have ordered, so it would be great if they could work on that. However, each of the tables have Trivial Pursuit cards (Genus Edition; the only real version as far as I'm concerned) and there is a game of Connect 4 that floats around somewhere in the bar to keep you entertained while waiting.

I have not visited this place any time other than for brunch on Sundays, but it is open as a bar during the week and, apparently, serves breakfast food all day. If you're having rough morning after a late night out in Charleston, I highly recommend finding your cure at the Recovery Room.

685 King St., Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 727-0999
There is plenty of parking located across the street in the gravel/dirt lot.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Metropolitan" on Hulu

I received a peculiar, though appreciated, email the other day from someone at IFC (the Independent Film Channel). Apparently they had seen my previous blog posts on Whit Stillman and pointed out to me that IFC recently published an interview with Whit Stillman in which he talks about some new projects that he has been working on, as well as the recent addition of Metropolitan to The interview can be found here.

In case you aren't familiar with Hulu, it is website where you can stream a good number of television shows and movies for free. It is really a pretty good website, and now that Metropolitan can be watched on demand, for free, I'd say it's really gotten a whole lot better. Click here to go watch Metropolitan now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Magic City: Eight Things I Miss

*Photo courtesy of Brian T. Murphy's flickr

Below is a list of eight things that I miss about Birmingham. I'm sure there are more, but these are eight that I came up with.

8. Old houses: Sure, lots of places have old houses, but Birmingham really has some great old neighborhoods (South Side, Highlands, Crestwood, to name a few) with houses built between the 1920s and 1940s. While I have not personally lived in one (though I did live in a 75+ year old apartment complex), I had a number of friends who lived in them and always relished in the comforting feeling of old hardwood floors and plaster walls.

7. "Mountains": While Birmingham's mountains are not every impressive by normal mountain standards, they did provide for a nice change in elevation, great background for the city, and beautiful vistas, which would include Pregnancy Point and Pregnancy Point II (these were names that I came up with, though I do not know if any babies were actually conceived at either place).

6. Mountain Brook: After I graduated from college, I was fortunate enough to live in an apartment complex in English Village, one of the three historic villages in Mountain Brook. While I am not sure if I will ever be able to afford an actual house in Mountain Brook, living in an apartment there was enough to give me a good appreciation. In spite of the "Brookies" who populate it, it is difficult not to enjoy the winding, tree-lined roads, beautiful old houses and mansions, and the walkable retail environments created in the different villages. Say what you will about it, I certainly wouldn't mind living there again.

5. Hipsters and their parties: Through various avenues I became somewhat acquainted with a good-sized part of the hipster population in Birmingham. While I mentioned this in my last post, and while the verdict may still be out on whether or not hipsters are actually a useful part of our society, I will say that they did add a nice bohemian flare to the city that I sorely miss in Clemson, South Carolina. They did create, or were at least involved heavily in, the art and music scene, and to see them driving around on their Vespas did add a nice cosmopolitan touch to the city. Most of all, as mentioned, I love their parties and Kids Got the Disco, a monthly hipster techno dance party, really seems to be getting pretty huge.

4. Magic City Lacrosse Club: I first played lacrosse in the 5th grade when I lived in NOVA, and then started playing again in middle school once my family moved back to Atlanta. I have basically been playing ever since. When I got to college at Samford, it was not surprising to learn that they didn't have a lacrosse team. However, I was able to find the local men's club team and played with them from my freshman year until I moved away last summer. I had a great time with those guys just getting out once a week and throwing the ball around and scrimmaging. It kept me (relatively) in shape and let me make some good friends. I really miss those guys and I really miss being able to play every week. If I do end up moving back to Birmingham, I will be at practice the first week back.

3. Red Mountain Church: I mentioned Red Mountain a few posts ago, but that church has meant a lot to me. Along with the things that I learned from great preaching, it has shown me how a church really is a family more than a building. It is about relationships and loving those around you as Christ did, in spite of what their past or present situations may be. I'm not sure if there is another church anywhere that is quite like Red Mountain, and I consider myself fortunate to have been able to attend there for as many years as I did.

2. Restaurants: I think that Birmingham is one of the best kept culinary secrets in the South. I would even say that the New York Times would agree with me. While I miss the nicer restaurants like Hot & Hot Fish Club and Chez Fonfon (I never actually made it to Highland Bar & Grill, so I will not include it, though I would still really like to go sometime), it is some of the smaller and cheaper restaurants that I probably miss more. Rojo, for one, is still hard to beat for a relatively cheap meal and a fantastic atmosphere. The line of Surin restaurants is some of the best Thai food I have eaten, and Taj India really opened my eyes to Indian food. Perhaps Birmingham's greatest boon, however, is its Greek restaurants. From the 24 hour gyro/hamburger places like Purple Onion and Al's, to the mid-level places like Taziki's, and the nicer places like Nabeel's and Fish Market, if you have a craving for some Mediterranean food, the Magic City is the place for you. Other favorites include Zoe's, Tip Top Grill, and too many bars to name.

1. Friends: Of course, I could not talk about Birmingham without mentioning the many friends I made there, many of whom still live there. I will not get specific for fear of leaving someone out, or singling someone out, but I will say that I really enjoyed having friends from so many walks of life, whether it be college or work or church or lacrosse or some combination of those. I really feel like I felt a great network of close relationships that would overlap and interweave, and I could really see what it was like to live in a community. I miss them, and hope that I might live in Birmingham again to try to pick up the loose ends of those relationships and continue on.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

On Hipsters

This is probably the best article I have read about hipsters: Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization. It does a great job of not only defining hipsters, but also addressing a number of the problems/inconsistencies with the "movement." Don't get me wrong, I don't hate hipsters. I knew, or was at least acquainted with, a number of hipsters back in Birmingham and they threw great parties and I enjoy their music. However, it is not something that has really appealed to me as a whole, and I think this article makes some of those reasons quite clear.

For further reading about hipsters, The Hipster Handbook really is a great read and does a great job of identifying the intricacies of the hipster sub-types in poignant satire.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blockbuster Video

I am not a big fan of Blockbuster Video. I signed up for Netflix earlier this year and have never looked back. So, when I came across this website which tracks peoples' perception of brands by displaying what words their associate with it, I was somewhat pleased to see the collection of words associated with Blockbuster. Some highlights include "late fees," "obsolete," and "ripoff."

Additionally, this video about Blockbuster from The Onion is quite entertaining.

Historic "Blockbuster" Store Offers Glimpse Of How Movies Were Rented In The Past

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Debate: Does Christian Rock Suck?

Continuing along with the theme of Christian music comes this debate about Christian rock and its level of suckiness, or lack thereof. At a little less than an hour, it is a bit long, but probably worth it (especially if you have ever listened to Petra).

Debate: Does Christian Rock Suck? from Daniel Radosh on Vimeo.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Red Mountain Music

When I lived in Birmingham I went to a church called Red Mountain Church. It belongs to the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) denomination and is probably most notable for its significant hipster and married-hipsters-with-kids population. I love that church, and love the people in it, and it is, in and of itself, a major reason why I would consider moving back to Birmingham when I finish grad school (though I do have a list of other reasons I would want to move back).

One thing that does set Red Mountain apart from many other churches is the quality of its music. The church has been blessed to have an abundance of incredibly talented musicians and singers. These musicians are also probably some of the most humble church musicians that I have seen and never take the spotlight for themselves; in fact, one could go to the church for months and never know the names of any of the musicians (believe me, I still don't know the names of most of them, and I was a member for over two years).

However, perhaps the best part about the music at Red Mountain is that the church has fully embraced hymns as the only type of music that is played during worship. In a day when so many churches seem to be flocking to the latest and most "awesome" worship songs, those at Red Mountain have instead looked to the great hymns of the past. These songs often contain a richness of poetry that is pretty much completely absent from any church music written after, oh, 1950. While they often keep many of the original arrangements, several members have been writing and recording new music for a number of old hymns. They have released five CDs to date, which can be found here. If you have a love of hymns like I do, I highly recommend checking them out. Below is their arrangement of "My Jesus I Love Thee" from their first CD.

I ain't afraid of no ghosts...

While I don't consider myself a person who gets easily frightened, and while I also consider myself pretty skeptical of a lot of stuff on the internets, these two videos were definitely two of the creepiest things I have watched. I honestly contemplated turning the videos off while watching them.

Unbelievable Poltergeist Activity - Very Wierd

Truly terrifying poltergeist experience

More videos by this guy can be found here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Article: "Nasa is out of line on global warming"

I saw this op/ed article from the Telegraph earlier this week and found it quite interesting. It is essentially an indictment of scientist James Hansen and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and their questionable methodology in measuring global warming over the past decades. Frankly, I am still holding out on the whole global warming thing. While I realize that this is not a popular opinion, I'm just not completely sold on the doomsday predictions, and articles like this one give me reason to hold on to this position.

Don't get me wrong, though: I believe all of the efforts going into cutting carbon emissions, creating more fuel efficient cars and getting off of our dependence on fossil fuels are all great things and should continue. I'm going to keep holding out, though...

The "Meat & Three"

I came back to Clemson last night for a wedding in Greenville on Saturday. For lunch today, I went down to the Esso Club to enjoy the "Meat & Three" lunch that they offer. It is a place that we frequented back in the school year, and it was a pretty good lunch for not a lot of money.

While I cannot be sure, it seems to me that the "Meat & Three" (alternatively known as the "Meat, Three, & Sweet Tea") restaurant is a particularly Southern tradition. Basically, one chooses a meat and three vegetables/sides from the daily selections, which usually change on regular basis. It is best accompanied by sweet tea as a beverage. These restaurants feature Southern or home-style cooking and usually are quite affordable: the perfect meal for a poor college/grad student.

After visiting a number of such establishments around the Clemson area (as well as back in Birmingham), it seems to me that the quality of the food can be best judged on how good its fried okra is. If it is hand breaded, you are in for a treat since the rest of the food is likely of the same quality.

If you are unfamiliar with the "Meat & Three" concept, this website provides listings of such restaurants in 24 different states (plus D.C.), so hopefully you can find one near you.