Cool T-Shirt?! Cool Band?!?! Charity?!?!?!

I've tried several times over the last, oh I don't know, maybe two and a half years to buy "creative" or "humorous" t-shirts at various points. I'm not talking about shirts like "I only drink on days that end in 'y'" or "I'm with stupid ->." I'm talking about your standard collegiate fair, Threadless, until that wasn't cool anymore, then designbyhumans, until I realized that I don't really wear the shirts much after I buy them. I am, however, a proponent of band shirts. I've purchased quite a few, most of which I don't wear because they've been inked by said band and I haven't figured out how to trap that ink in there quite like I hope I can. So, the point being, I'm now largely hesitant of buying T-shirts other than white ones or the obligatory layering kind. That was, of course, until I stumbled on these. The shirts are part of a little something called the yellow bird project. The process is simple.
Step 1: Project picks band.
Step 2: Band makes shirt.
Step 3: Band picks charity.
Step 4: Person buys sweet shirt.
Step 5: Project donates proceeds to charity.
The shirts aren't the cheapest (they'll run you 25$ large plus shipping), but you can rest your weary soul easily tonight knowing that in exchange for a particular shirt, you donated roughly 15$-20$ to a deserving charity. All in, there's about 20 shirts for sale currently. Each shirt's proceeds go to a different charity. So your choice is doubly difficult; you can pick the coolest shirt or you can pick the most deserving charity. The choice is yours! At any rate, my two favorite shirts (and coincidentally two of my favorite charities of those available) are from the New Pornographers and Bon Iver, on the right and left above, respectively. All shirts are American Apparel 50/50s, so guaranteed to fit nice and feel nice too. Keep track of the happenings at yellow bird project's website for new shirts as they are announced and be sure to hit up the free download of the Tallest Man on Earth's Field of Birds, a fantastic get.

View available products from yellowbirdproject.
Download free song from Tallest Man on Earth at bottom of page.


A Wordy Title From Some Wordy People

The Paris Review, if you don't know, is a quarter literary publication not from Paris. Every three months, this group of people pulls together one of the most historically influential literary publications. The Paris Review is so great, because it's nothing like a book. An amalgamation of short stories, poems, essays, occasional photos, and the always highly anticipated interview, this usually 100-150 page booklet serves as a who's who in modern literature. If you're looking to name check yourself some English then this is certainly the publication for you. This book coming in at 752 pages is surprisingly just a microcosm of the past fifty years or 200 publications. This overview of literature maintains the same format that readers of the Review have come to know and love. In the end, the book does a magnificent job of covering from Faulkner to Munro and everywhere in between, which brings me to the title. The book is formally called: The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, the Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953. As lengthy as the title is, it does a good job of embodying the variation one sees within even a single issue. You see, the Review never tried to cater to a particular crowd or harp on a particular manifesto. The goal of the Review was always to bring together what's new in literature; to condense it and repackage it. And if you've ever read an issue, you know what I'm saying when I say that all the heartfelt joys and sorrows of life seem to pop up in these stories. There isn't any of that Harry Potter shit here (sorry to you Potter-heads). These stories, these interviews, these poems, these essays, they all deal with the completely and utterly human and it's so blissfully spectacular. Two versions are available for purchase, hardcover from 18$ and softcover from from 11$. Prices include shipping.

View hardcover details at Amazon.

View softcover details at Amazon.


Romantic Comedies Aren't Just for Women

Continuing in the vein of movie reviews, here's a fantastic romantic comedy. With Aaron Eckhart at the helm of this split screen adventure through a previous romance reignited, this film fails to disappoint. Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter play two long since separated lovebirds who meet again at a wedding. Aaron Eckhart is back in his usual role as the charming humanly male. While Helena Bonham Carter plays that woman who recognizes her faults but can't quite get over them, especially when it comes to being wooed by her previous lover. The tale unwinds as Mr. Eckhart and Mrs. Carter slowly leave the scene of the wedding to the more secluded location of Mrs. Carter's room. The magic of the movie is that the plot is obviously linear and you know what's going to happen perhaps even before the movie actually starts, but the script provides enough metaphysical twists and laughs that the movie is over before you notice that its started. Both Eckhart and Carter lend their fantastic abilities to make this film more human than those super sappy romances. The movie is so engulfing because of its realism. It's gritty and filled with emotion, it's not just happiness and it's not just sorrow and there's no ironic or twisted ending; It's everything you expect it to be, but mixed up in a bag of emotions that no one, neither the characters nor the viewer, is quite able to untangle before the credits start to role. The split screens throughout the film highlight the two separate views the man and woman have about their past and their present, which occasionally share a commonality, but more frequently are completely different. In the end, Aaron Eckhart sums the movie with a closing minute one-liner, "It's good to be happy, but so fucking hard, you know?" Currently available on Netflix (as a view instant none-the-less) and from Amazon starting at 6.5$ including shipping.

View product details at Amazon.

A Visual Masterpiece

The Five Obstructions takes Lars von Trier, film making genius #1, and pits him against his mentor Jorgen Leth, film making genius #2. Jorgen wrote and directed an extremely influential 13 minute documentary in 1967 titled "The Perfect Human," which opened the floodgates to experimental documentarians. The Perfect Human was everything a short film should be: compact, funny, thoughtful, precisely executed, beautiful. In a way, The Perfect Human was the perfect film. So the most crushing blow was dealt when Lars von Trier challenges Jorgen Leth to remake his masterpiece five times with five different sets of obstructions. You see, neither Jorgen nor Lars thought that Jorgen would be able to recreate the faultlessness of the first film. He was certainly bound to fail in his quest for repeated perfection. That's why to the viewer's astonishment, as the film progresses, each remake turns out exactly as fantastic as the original. While I don't want to give away the ending to anyone who will see it (or possibly even buy it!), the film eventually turns to introspection as Lars reveals his true intentions. He wanted to see if Jorgen could remake his short film, yes, but he also wanted to examine Jorgen through the lens of his original film. The Perfect Human didn't seek answer, it sought contemplation, and in that regard it begged many questions. Who is the perfect human? What does the perfect human do? How does the perfect human move? To name a few. The culminating point of the movie is when Lars's intentions are revealed and the movie suddenly becomes vaguely allegorical. Overall this movie is a compilation of perhaps the greatest cinematography I've ever seen. The beauty of this film moves past plot and motif to speak to anyone interested in film as an aesthetic art form for communication of ideas. This film is available from Netflix and probably some torrent sites or dtella, whereby it is absolutely imperative that you see it at least once. Past that, it is a highly recommended purchase. Available for 22$ from Amazon with free super saver shipping.

View product details at Amazon.


Certainly Better Than Those Morewood Domes

As all those who live in Morewood know, we are relegated to the default lighting of our rooms, one desk lamp per person and that obnoxious globe in the middle of ceiling. Lighting is practical for the most part, it certainly shouldn't be impractical. However, the style lighting can inherit is largely ignored. Although style comes at a price, sometimes. Anybody who tells you otherwise is just lying. The approximately 75$ (52£ set price) price tag of these lamps puts them a cut above the rest, which as we all know, the ends justify the means. The ends being that these lights are fun and a great way to provide sensible lighting after hours. I'm a firm believer in the importance of natural sunlight especially in a home. However, as the winter draws nearer, the days begin to shorten. When it gets dark at 16:00, it's hard to live without extensive in door lighting arrangements. Usually people's houses are filled with those stereotypical frustum shades on some length of metal rod with some sort of a base. This works alright, but it's DULL. Hannah Nunn provides us with ample opportunity to do something often forgotten by the Potterybarn and Crate&Barrel shoppers abound, to center design around lighting. Instead of having a light be functional and jamming it next to a chair so you can read or in the dark corner to make it brighter, why not make it the center piece of a coffee table, sofa table, book case or hell, any other flat surface in your home. The ambient glow and sleek perforated shapes of these table lamps (some style available in sconce or pendant forms too) make them a must have for anybody with a modernized home. More patterns, including a large selection of botanical inspired designs, available from Hannah Nunn's website.

View product details at Hannah Nunn's website.

An Updated Classic Keeping Its Cool

The Ray-Ban Wayfarer is a classic. Its reputation has been building ever since the likes of Warhol, Hepburn, JFK, Dylan, and Lennon (to drop only the biggest names) plastered them all over their face. After a lengthy break in production in the 90's caused by dwindling demand, the frames made a massive comeback in the earliest years of the millennium. Now it's damn near impossible to go somewhere ripe with college students and sun where two or three or most of those present haven't adorned this vestige over their eyes. They're so popular that if you don't feel like springing for the brand name, there's still a multitude of options in the 20$ and under category. Many a wearer opts for the all black frames a la Tom Cruise and his underwear. For the classier individual, tortoise frames can be purchased. However, past that, then this whole ordeal really starts to get interesting. Until finally you stumble on these; the God send of Ray Ban new Wayfarer 2140's (if you're a male): blue rims and cream arms. It couldn't make more sense. You put one color on the front so everyone sees it when they're looking at you, then you slap the other one down the side to add a-whole-nother layer to these rims when viewed from the side. Despite the massive popularity of the Wayfarer, you literally HAVE to buy this pair from England. I'd like to see this two tone trend continue forward with new color combinations, because if everyone's going to be wearing the same sunglasses all the time, at least have them be fun and fresh. These glasses SCREAM summer, cool days spent in the sun out on the grass. And for the ladies, there's purple and red two tones. Otherwise you'll have to stick to your choice of solid colors or tortoise. The price is variable, anywhere from 100$ to 180$ depending on the vendor and lens type (The link below is 122$ for the blue/cream pair with free shipping).

View product details from UnitedShades.com.


A Coffee Table's Sweetest Dream

To have a coffee table is something I desire, deeply. That may sound absurd to some, but there's something wholesome about a coffee table. A coffee table is always in the middle of a gathering place; it provides a culmination point for the style of the room; it's large enough to warrant some simple but well arranged decorum; lastly, but not leastly, it's the perfect place for an over-sized book. The problem is that the most books people put on their coffee tables aren't all that interesting, and that's the sad part. So steps in Exactitudes. For those of you (admittedly myself included, although not likely many others) who've been searching for that perfect book to complete your shelf or adorn your coffee table, this is it. Exactitutdes finds humor in the striking similarities that strangers share despite our usually immense efforts to set ourselves apart. Each page contains 15 images of people sharing some general characteristics and demonstrating only minute variation. The book serves to be genuinely funny while still providing some above average portraits of everyday nameless citizens. At 52$ (but FREE shipping!) it proves to be an investment worth making. For those still sticking to their budgets, below is a link to view the collection of images for free (Click on them to enlarge).

View the relatively complete anthology of Exactitudes online for free.

View product details from Amazon.


Knife Fight!!!

Everyone loves name checking, I know I do. So the title for this one's aptly (in my opinion) borrowed from a particular Minus the Bear song. Now to get to the point. This is a knife, it is sharp, it looks cool, buy it. I could leave it there, but I'll explain a bit longer. This knife is made by Wenger, the official maker of knives and watches for the Swiss Army (that's right, Victorinox Swiss Army doesn't do that anymore or ever), so you know it's of the highest quality before it even arrives in your hands. It is also just the right size to get confiscated by TSA, but still be practical to use for most larger scale knife-necessitating tasks. The hashed grip helps maintain control and the clever closing mechanism (you press down on the logo printed on the side of the knife!) makes it feel more like a spy weapon than a camping aid. Obviously for us city folk this isn't the best knife to do things with considering its accurate weapon like appearance. The sleek black plastic body with a contoured grip and minimalistic logo add to the knife's persona. At 17.5$ plus 7$ shipping, who wouldn't want to imagine yourself deep in the jungle as the last marine alive from your platoon as you fight for your life against an onslaught of charlies.

View product details from Amazon.

For When Dial Doesn't Cut It

Sometimes those ever classy bathroom adornments, Dial, Softsoap, et al, just can't cut it in the kitchen. Sure they work, and yeah they're fine. You don't like that orangey-yellow liquid antibacterial that's present in so many of my childhood scrapes and cuts? Fine, get it in lavender scent and hey it's even purple! All's well that ends well I suppose, unless you're present with an opportunity such as this: Cucina. For those of you who don't know, that's Italian for kitchen (it has nothing to do with star spangled banners or tight little something or anothers). This soap smells fantastic and works fantastically. The best part is that it's all natural and thus OK to eat. Sure you can do that with Dial, but when you've been cooking for a while and then immerse your now Dial coated hands in a bowl of vegetables you're coating, the end product tastes more like a 4th grade punishment for swearing than a delicious side dish. Cucina's tested formula of coriander and olive oil leaves your hands clean, smelling fresh, and ready to take on your next task in the kitchen without tainting everything you touch. If this sounds too good to be true, it vaguely is. Perfection comes at a price, 20$ (plus 6$ shipping from Amazon) per 16.9 ounce bottle that is. At this point most of you have given up, but if you're willing to front the cash you most certainly won't be disappointed. Also available at most Anthropologie stores.

View product details from Amazon.

What Minimalism Is Supposed To Be

One last Etsy post before I continue looking at things elsewhere. This purse, much like the earrings in the post below, represents an old fashioned simplicity that seems to be making a "modern" comeback. I say that mostly because it seems that modern went the route of minimalism for too long and has finally sorted out the difference between simplistic and modern. While not the best purse you've ever owned in terms of practicality (can't shoulder sling that shit or fit much inside of it), it does look nice and ultimately that's what counts for things like these. The wood handles and sophisticated print make the bag, but the inside with its cream interior and green striped pocket put the perfect finish on this bag. The price is 42$ plus 5.5$ shipping.

View product details at jenniferladd's Etsy store.

Handmade Bargain Hunting

This post certainly won't help my credibility as to my sexual preference, but I still assure you that I'm straight. However, these earrings looked too nice given the price (15$ + 2$ shipping) to pass up. Simple, elegant, clean; the things that often get passed up by the gaudiness of ordinary design. These aren't exactly Patricia Locke, but for those on a budget it provides hope that you don't have to sacrifice style for affordability (something that happens all too often in my opinion). Once again, etsy carries through with their handmade goods, but as with most things available on the site they're either unique or one of a limited number (<10) so get it before it's gone.

View product details at petitminx's Etsy shop.

Tantalizing Ties

For those of you unfortunate few who have not heard of Etsy, etsy.com is essentially a marketplace for people to sell handmade goods. However, these aren't the same popsicle stick Christmas tree ornaments you made when you were five. Etsy provides a unique opportunity for people with creative talents, but no means of dissemination. That brings me to these ties, which while a bit late for this past Christmas season are still significantly cooler than your average find. Coming in at the entirely reasonably priced 40$ (with an additional modest 3.2$ for shipping), these ties are certainly fun and certainly festive. If you're pinched for cash, a 30$ microfiber counterpart exists. While I'm not sure what the attraction is of a white tie with white snowflakes (see the color options on the site linked below), I am sure that you'll be sure to impress with that snazzy looking powder blue with white snowflakes. The textured tie is rarely witnessed especially when it isn't the fabric itself that's textured. Break away from those awful ties that plague mid-level business executives; the boring muddied colors; step away from your Jerry Garcia collection and try one of these for a spin.

View product details at toybreaker's Etsy store.


What Your White Walls Have Been Missing

Everyone has to appreciate the simplicity Ellsworth Kelly not only experimented with, but relished in. The point was never to make an overarching statement or to make you think, what he did was always aesthetically motivated and that was that. This MoMA printed mid-sized poster (30"x28") is a great tribute to Mr. Kelly and his unending supply of vibrant colors and simple lines that were consistently in clear defiance of any recognized movement. At 19$ (with a massive 2$ discount if you're a MoMA member), this little splash is perfectly crafted to adorn a dorm room wall while having the added bonus of leading your friends to think you appreciate modern art. After all, the original painting is currently on display at MoMA. Or for an additional 155$ (sounds overpriced, but really isn't) you can get it in a quaint black frame, surely of highest quality given the vendor. Shipping unfortunately isn't free, but is only 6$. I highly recommend this to clear up any white wall blues.

View product details at the MoMA online store.