Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Corporation T-shirts, Stupid bloody Tuesday

For a mystery prize (to be named later), can anyone tell me the origin of the entry title?

Imagine for a moment that you are a part of a group. It could be your dorm floor at college, a family that is getting together for a reunion, or an after-work softball league. It doesn't really matter what the group is for this exercise, so please, feel free to select whatever kind of group that you would like. Now, imagine that a well-meaning individual decides that its not enough for those in your group to know that you are a part of that group. They decide you all need to wear identical clothing so the whole group can, in one voice, proudly declare their affiliation with said entity. But instead of simply encouraging everyone to wear khaki pants, or red shirts and jeans, they decide to make things easier for you. They design a t-shirt to proclaim to the world that they are a part of THIS GROUP! And before you know it, you're being posed into a picture like this.

Today we are talking about t-shirts. More speficially, the self-designed t-shirt. I must confess at the outset that I am not the biggest fan of them, though it is mostly because so many people do them so terribly. Mainly, because they don't consult me. If you choose not to ask for my input on a shirt, then please, please, PLEASE take my advice and remember that less is more.

My in-laws took this rule to heart for their family reunion t-shirt in 2002, with wonderful results. It was a simple white shirt with two green triangles together so it looked like mountains, with the family name and the year written in a light tan color, all fitting in about a 2 inch square over the heart. No big, dumb phrases on the back, or goofy/embarrassing pictures of some part of the family on the front.

My own family, on the other hand, did not learn this lesson, and for their 2005 reunion, had a navy blue t-shirt with 1 inch high writing in a line across the chest, and another line at the same height across the back. Very strange, very embarrassing.

But, dear readers, I trust that you are smart enough to handle more than one rule if you are going to design a t-shirt. (just as a refresher, if you ignore everything else I say, remember that less is more--minimal writing/graphics should be your default.) So here are other things that you should know about designing your own t-shirt.

First, make sure that the shirts will be printed on something comfortable. Like trying to make a paper airplane out of cardstock, many a good t-shirt idea has been ruined by printing it on t-shirts that are too thick and heavy. Your goal in selecting material is two-fold: A) you want people to forget that they are wearing a self-designed shirt; B) you want the shirt to be comfortable enough that they would choose to wear it on days that they aren't doing activities with the group that designed the shirt.

A second issue with the shirt itself is color. You want it to be something that extremely fashion-conscious people can match outfits with without having to go out and buy anything more (read, no lime green, fuchsia, or lavendar). In my personal opinion, white, red, or grey are the safest choices. However, the color should correspond well with the subject matter of the shirt. Is it a gardening club? In that case, maybe a light yellow might be a good idea.

Which brings us to the third important aspect of t-shirt design--content. What is it you're going to put on your shirt? Will you include a graphic of some sort, or just words? Or will you be sneaky and shape the words into some sort of picture? One problem with the picture is that most places will charge you per color of ink used. This can make things really expensive, really fast. If an image is going to be used, it should be simple, and amusing. In fact, that is the rule for anything that goes on the shirt--make it amusing. If it were going to be serious, it would have been made into a polo shirt. And, just in case you're wondering, shirts with white-trash slogans on them (i.e. "no money, no honey," "you say I'm a b#%^ like its a bad thing," or "don't hate me because I'm sexy, hate me because your boyfriend thinks so") are not amusing.

Amusing content are things that the group finds especially funny, but that the larger population of those without the shirt can understand. A shirt that says, "Ceeboo!!!" may be funny to the people who saw the normally quiet and reserved person singing a song about a cebu, but wearing that shirt on the street is just going to get strange looks from people.

So, as you set out to design your own t-shirt, remember these rules:

1. choose a soft shirt
2. choose a good color (white, red, grey)
3. be amusing, not stupid with the content.

Or, if you can't remember those:

4. think minimalist--less is more.

Friday, July 25, 2008

talking about playlists

I was just tasked with coming up with a playlist of songs that fit with my alma madre, the Thunder. Which made me think about how much I enjoy making playlists. But the more I thought about it, the more questions I had. Is there a universally understood number of songs on a playlist? Should it cover a specific amount of time (say, 90 minutes, regardless of the number of songs)? Is my affinity for playlist construction the 00's version of Rob Gordon (John Cusack's character in High Fidelity who reorganizes his vinyl record collection every time a new mood comes upon him)?

I don't really have answers for these questions, beyond my own personal experience. Generally, my playlists consist of every song I have that fits a particular mood or activity--going to the gym, reading at home while its raining, or walking down the street feeling like a million bucks. In my case, as I have nearly 7,000 mp3's, these lists end up being several hundred songs in length, and I take advantage of the "random" feature on the playback device (Winamp, iTunes, iPod, or Sansa).

It is quite possible, however, that playlists are supposed to be much shorter, drawing on the idea of a "mix tape" from the 80's, and the burned CD of the 90's. Playlists following this format would be much shorter, somewhere between 60 and 80 minutes.

As for any comparison between me and Rob Gordon, I leave the final decision up to you. In my defense (and arguing against such a conclusion), I will say that I am generally a much happier person than he was, and, I'd like to think, much less of a loser.

Lastly, for your own musical sampling, should your interest be piqued, allow me to offer you a few short playlists. The songs are mentioned in no particular order. First, the one that prompted the whole conversation about playlists in general--songs that focus on thunder:

1. The Thunder Rolls by Garth Brooks, from the album No Fences
2. Thunderstruck by AC/DC, from the album The Razor's Edge
3. Thunderball by Tom Jones, theme song for the James Bond film of the same title
4. Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen from the album Born to Run
5. Vocab by I.R.A.T.E. (they were the big band on campus my freshman year--this song in particular worked in several references to our mascott) And honestly, those are all the songs I know that are about Thunder.

Best Christian music of the 1990's:
1. The Hui by The W's on the album Fourth from the Last
2. Company Car by Switchfoot on the album New Way to be Human
3. Supertones Strike Back by the O.C. Supertones on the album Supertones Strike Back
4. Smug by Steve Taylor on the album Squint
5. Zzyzx Scarecrow by Stavesacre on the album Absolutes
6. Love, Salvation, and the Fear of Death by Sixpence None the Richer
7. Jimi Hendrix Bathtub Song by Sheesh
8. Chimes by Project 86 on the album Drawing Black Lines
9. Blue Raft by Common Children on the album Delicate Fade
10. Rail by Poor Old Lu on the album A Picture of the Eighth Wonder
11. Struck by the Chord by Plankeye on the album Commonwealth
12. Lost the Plot by Newsboys on the album Take Me to Your Leader
13. Hollywood by P.O.D. on the album The Fundamental Elements of Southtown
14. Hey Johnny by Johnny Q. Public on the album Extra Ordinary
15. The Hunted by The Insyderz on the album Fight of My Life
16. Ooh Ahh by GRITS on the album The Art of Translation
17. Spice Drops by Ghoti Hook on the album Sumo Surprise
18. Third World Think Tank by Five Iron Frenzy on the album Upbeats and Beatdowns
19. Jesus Freak by DC Talk on the album Jesus Freak
20. Bloom by Audio Adrenaline on the album Bloom

Songs when you want to kick the crap out of someone:
1. F*$& Off by Kid Rock on the album The History of Rock
2. Sabatoge by the Beastie Boys on the album Ill Communication
3. Motherf#&$er by Xzibit on the album Weapons of Mass Destruction
4. Bullet the Blue Sky by P.O.D. on the album The Fundamental Elements of Southtown
5. The Slam by Toby Mac on the album Welcome to Diverse City
6. Kick Out the Jams by Rage Against the Machine on the album Renegades
7. Murder, Murder by Eminem on the Slim Shady LP
8. The Gambler by Xzibit on the album Man vs. Machine
9. No Hard Feelings by The Bloodhound Gang on the album Hefty Fine
10. Violent Pornography by System of a Down on the album Mesmerize
11. Between Angels and Insects by Papa Roach on the album Infest
12. I Hope You Die by The Bloodhound Gang on the album Hooray for Boobies
13. Dragula by Rob Zombie on the Matrix Soundtrack
14. This Is the New S#$^ by Marilyn Manson on the album The Golden Age of Grotesque
15. No Love for Me by DMX from the album Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood
16. Fist of Rage by Kid Rock on the album Devil Without a Cause.

Songs of cultural indictment:
1. Rockstar by Nickelback on the album All the Right Reasons
2. *Bullet the Blue Sky by P.O.D. on the album Fundamental Elements of Southtown
3. Beautiful America by Five Iron Frenzy on the album Upbeats and Beatdowns
4. America by Vigilantes of Love on the album VOL
5. Popular Americans by All Star United on the album International Anthems for the Human Race
6. LaLa Land by All Star United on the album All Star United
7. Sing for the Moment by Eminem on the album The Eminem Show
8. What Its Like by Everlast on the album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues
9. Most Likely to Succeed by Five Iron Frenzy on the album Our Newest Album Ever
10. Handlebars by Flobots on the album Fight with Tools
11. Reader's Digest by Johnny Q. Public on the album Extra Ordinary
12. Everything Is Average Nowadays by Kaiser Chiefs on the album Employment
13. There's a Reason These Tables Have Numbers, Baby, You Just Haven't Thought of It Yet by Panic at the Disco on the album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out
14. Magazine by Pedro the Lion on the album Control
15. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers on the album Californication
16. Paralyzed by Sixpence None the Richer on the album Divine Discontent
17. We Say by Stavesacre on the album How to Live with a Curse
18. Sin for a Season by Steve Taylor on the album Now the Truth Can Be Told
19. Smug by Steve Taylor on the album Squint
20. Company Car by Switchfoot on the album New Way to Be Human
*The POD version is preferred over the original U2 because its angrier, and, in the words of my sister, "Sonny doesn't sound nearly as gay as Bono does when he sings it."

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

to pleat, or not to pleat...that is the question

After a rather lengthy weekend hiatus, I am back today to talk about pleats. Speficially, pleats in men's pants.


or Flat

Rumor has it they are no longer in. There was an article in one of the local papers recently about how you can tell whether a guy is keeping up with fashion by whether or not his pants are pleated. "I haven't worn pleats since I was in jr. high," one young, rather snobbish figure was quoted as saying.

I'm not sure that I am 100% behind the no-pleat movement. Not that I have a great affinity for pleats. My reluctance for endorsement is more based out of simple economic concerns. For those working on Wall Street, or your average reader of GQ, who can afford the $350 t-shirts and $800 jeans, buying a dozen new suits to replace their pleated ones is no big deal. But for the average joe schmoe (namely, me), the thought of going out and buying 6 new suits is a daunting, and financially crippling possibility. Does that mean that I do not know how to dress well? I'd like to think not.

There is the additional concern with the removal of pleats. I cannot recall anyone that does not have a slim or athletic build wearing pleated pants. At some unknown point, one's midsection is no longer flattered by trousers with a flat front. There cannot, and should not, be a societal expectation that any male, regardless of build, must wear non-pleated pants, lest they be considered out of style.

No man over the age of 55 should wear unpleated pants. It is too much of a young-person look, and it just looks like they are trying too hard to be young. Consider it the male equivalent of a grandmother still trying to get away with wearing spaghetti strap tops and mini skirts.

Bottom line: guys, if you're getting new pants anyway, go with the flat front. But if you already have them, don't stress too much about replacing your pants. And ladies, cut your guy a little slack if he is still wearing pleats. Remember that he could be making you pay for everything so he can buy clothes.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Conservationists are wrong. The Cougar is thriving

There has been much discussion in the office of late regarding "The Cougar." But the concern/interest is not in the second largest feline (behind the jaguar) in North America, which is considered "near threatened" by conservationists around the world. Maybe something should be done to make sure the cougar (or puma, or panther, depending on what part of the world you call home) does not slide further down (or up...?) on the endangered list, but this is neither the time nor place for such a discussion.

Instead, we were discussing the type of Cougar one is much more likely to find in an area of high population density. Defined by wikipedia as as slang term for, "an older woman, usually in her 40s, 50s or 60s who usually sexually pursue men in their 20s and 30s," The Cougar has become increasingly noticeable in recent years. The most famous example in recent pop culture would be Madonna (age 50) and the numerous rumored trysts with Yankee's 3rd baseman, Alex Rodriguez (age 32).

And while rumors of their relationship, and the simultaneous desintigration of their respective marriages, has captured the attention of gossip columnists and tabloids around the world, it is by no means an isolated incident. Television (including episodes of 30 Rock and How I Met Your Mother, and the basic plot of the upcoming sitcom, Living with Fran), and movies (Sex and the City, and The Door in the Floor, to name a couple) have also taken up the cause of The Cougar.

Social comentators, and others with greater credentials than I, describe this phenomenon as a natural result of women who grew up exposed to both the traditional role/mindset of women (get married, raise a family) and the women's liberation movement (do what you want, screw the stereotypical role society says you are supposed to fulfill) of the 1960's. They married, but are now divorced. With their age and life experience comes a sense of self-confidence (they know how to act in order to make men interested in them); the divorce(s), however, tend to create a jaded perspective or sense of skepticism when it comes to marriage or long-term commitment. Even so, they still have the physical/emotional needs of companionship and approval. These forces combine to create the perfect storm of The Cougar.

Younger men (whom shall henceforth be referred to as, "the prey") meet all of The Cougar's needs mentioned above. First, an encounter with prey maintains the ego of The Cougar by proving that "they've still got it." I hope you will forgive the crudeness, but I believe Jimmy Pop, in his poem "Three Point One Four" stated it rather well when he said, "The older they (women) are, the easier to pick up...Old hens would rather put out than be put out to the pasture."

Second, the prey are in their prime to meet the physical needs of The Cougar. Drawing on 20+ years of exerience, The Cougar baits her prey into a casual, non-committal event, an activity the average 20-something male is looking for anyway. This allows The Cougar the physical experience, while still preserving her skepticism about commitment.

Though their hunting styles vary by the individual, it is not incredibly difficult to identify a Cougar. Some are blatantly obvious. They'll start a conversation with you by grabbing your ass while you're watching a basketball game at the local watering hole, or start a conversation with you by saying "Do you clean pools?" Others choose a more subtle approach, sometimes used by much younger women as well. Things like having a relatively normal conversation at a bar, but leaning in such a way as to offer a relatively uninhibited view of her orbs of feminine pulchritude, or insisting on being close enough to you during a conversation that there is significant contact between the Cougar's chest and her prey. They also tend to be quite fashionably dressed. Those that opt for the more aggressive hunting approach tend to dress like contemporaries of their prey--mini-skirts, spaghetti strap tops, etc.

Watch also for an effort to display a "bumper sticker" tattoo (sometimes called a "tramp stamp," though that label doesn't quite fit The Cougar), found on the lower back, near the waist line. Its presence on a woman over the age of 45 guarantees that you have met a Cougar. Tread carefully when you encounter a Cougar, young men, for you are on dangerous ground. Walk as gingerly as you would if you came across a mother bear and her cubs. That goes for both men and women. Ladies, not so much out of a concern that you will be considered prey, but that you pose a threat to their hunting.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

the blue jacket

We noticed a light blue jacket being worn by this gentleman earlier today. I was asked if it was seersucker, and I concluded that it is not, based on the fact that I don't get vertigo looking at it on TV. Unfortunately for the wearer, the fact that its is not seersucker, but simply a a robin's egg blue jacket does not help him.

Among certain circles, seersucker can be considered quite fashionable, especially if not worn when appearing on television. It is considered something of a staple among Southerners, a title in which the gentleman in question (who hails from Alabama) no doubt takes great pride. For those raised and/or living north of the Mason Dixon Line, it becomes something of a novelty outfit, on roughly the same level as wearing 80's clothing. At an appropriate setting, it is perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged. But imagine one of these people going out in public dressed like this. You'd pity them, and they would be well deserving of such sentiment.

Seersucker works in much the same way. Any- and everyone should feel perfectly comfortable wearing it at a horseracing event. In such instances, it is highly recommend that you complete the ensamble by making sure that you have a mint julip in hand at all times. But, like 80's night, attending a horse race is a novel event, not something done on a regular basis. (If it is, then perhaps you need to see a therapist for help with your gambling problem.)

Getting back to the original point. It is unfortunate that our subject is not wearing seersucker, as that means he is wearing merely a light blue jacket. The last time that was an acceptable fashion choice, my father was going to prom in one, complete with platform shoes and a shirt with ruffles down the front. In short, ouch.

There is, however, a gentlman from California that is wearing seersucker today.

The problem with this is that he was born in Massachusetts, and now lives in California. Neither of which meet the qualifications for being able to wear seersucker. Furthermore, the stripes on TV look bad. I must admit, however, that the colors he chose to accompany the suit (light blue shirt, yellow tie) work very well. Slap that same ensamble on, say, Rhet Butler somewhere other than the television cameras, and it would be considered acceptable.

Entry number 1: taking care of details

The contents of this blog are, to a large degree, based on the requests of coworkers. It seems that there are things they want to know about, and, as the fastest googler in the office, it has fallen to me to provide answers. Its random stuff. Anything like, "where was Cynthia McKenny born?" (Atlanta, GA. She is also the Green Party's Presidential nominee.) to "What's the difference between coke, crack, and smack?" (coke=cocaine, crack=meth, smack=heroin--I know these because I looked them up, not because I have any personal experience with any of it). So now, after being told repeatedly, "that needs to go in your blog," I'm finally making one.

I've also been told that this needs to be a fashion blog. I don't know why I got stuck with being responsible for all office comments on fashion. I mean, I try to dress fairly well, but I'm not always successful. I suppose this is what I get for talking about seersucker one day with a fake lisp like the sides of my tongue are too big for my mouth and get in the way when I talk.

So here's a little bit about fashion for you today. Narrow ties are coming back. Remember back in the 80's when it was cool to have a pencil-thin strip of cloth wrapped around a guy's neck? (I don't really remember it; in the 80's, "tie" for me was a verb describing what I was learning how to do with my shoelaces.) Rumor has it, that sort of style is coming back. Along with smaller knots, and dress shirt collars that flare out a bit more (think of the point touching the top of the collarbone, rather than 1/4 inch below it). Don't ask me why the small knots and the flared collars go together, or what makes them popular. That's just what I've heard.