Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pop Goes the Weasel



Things have gotten pretty bad. Banks are collapsing, home prices have hit rock bottom, loan institutions are going belly up. Unfortunately, as is expected, there hasn't been much meaningful conversation on what led to this crisis or how to escape it; rather, as expected, there's been a lot of sentimentality and finger pointing, when, in reality, almost everyone is complicit, just in different ways.

I can't say that I'm affected too much, though the institutions and businesses around me will make me pay. However, I'm not a home owner and ironically having no assets to speak of is kinda (not really, but kinda) working for me right now. Buying a home in a couple of years will prove to be a problem, but I guess I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Anyway... I love NPR and locally, CPR. They provide pretty good coverage of things and stuff. I suggest anyone looking to gain a little understanding of what happened to listen to This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money.



A Quick Synopsis of This Program

  • Traditionally poor countries start making economic gains by increasing productions (oil, tvs, etc.)
  • The big pool of money the world relies on for insurance purposes doubles to $70 trillion in only six years after being relatively stagnant for decades
  • After Greenspan makes it clear that interest rates will remain pretty stagnant, investors look to more lucrative investments
  • The housing boom provides investment opportunities for these investors, but the market becomes saturated (most people eligible for mortgages pretty much have them)
  • Lenders create less responsible mortgages to accommodate investors (NINA loans--no income, no assets--become wildly popular. You have people with little to no assets borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars with no real way of paying it back.)
  • Eventually, when the housing bubble pops and home prices start to plummet, these investments prove to be very imprudent
  • Mid-sized banks who borrowed large amounts of cash to sell these investments can no longer sell them to Wall Street and become bankrupt. Larger financial institutions who invested heavily in these options lose large amounts of dough and need to be bailed out. That large pool of money, the $70 trillion mentioned up there, decreases considerably and people start freaking out, looking for security rather than profits.
  • We're screwed.
What Does This Mean

I'm not really sure and will be tuning in to find out more, but we already know that as taxpayers, we'll be paying for it though we are much less responsible for this crisis than the government and Wall Street. It'll also be pretty hard to borrow money for anyone seeking to buy a home or a car or to get money for school.

The real problem, though, is that we're American and greedy. Greed lies at the bottom of all of this. The Wall Street suits who wouldn't stop buying and trading bad mortgages when they knew better, the middlemen who exploited the unassuming and overly confident, the everyday folks who borrowed way more money than they could ever pay back--all greedy as hell. In a way, it's the American story, the something from nothing fairytale that pulls people from all corners of the globe to our humble, ramshackle piece of earth (though, of course, with outsourcing people can just stay at home and benefit). This story needs to be written with disclaimers and all sorts of warnings, but no, the cycle will continue because this is who we are, a bunch of money-grubbing, whiny-faced toddlers who need just one more piece of pie.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall is for Flyness

Miu Miu and Prada are killing it on the fall shoe front.
























I need these shoes. Somehow, someway, I'm gonna have to make at least one pair of these a reality.

(I'm taking donations.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cupcake Crazy


I've been on a rampage lately, a rampage to ingest as much sugary crap as is humanly possible. Apparently, Chicago is the perfect city for this, as we have quite a selection of bakeries. Follow me, fellow fat ass, as I take an inventory of Chicago's cupcakeries.



Sweet Mandy B's

1208 W Webster Ave
Mon-Thu 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Sun 8:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.


It's relatively close to the house and has quite a selection. Downside, there is routinely a gaggle of moms with expensive strollers and shitloads of children--so annoying. I've tried quite a number of things here: cupcakes, cake slices, cookies, pie, and puddings. At first, this place was the cat's meow; I thought the dreamsicle cupcake was the bestest thing in life. Now, I know better. Better is ...




Molly's Cupcakes
2536 North Clark Street
MONDAY » 12:00pm to 10:00pm
TUESDAY – THURSDAY » 8:00am to 10:00pm
FRIDAY – SATURDAY » 8:00am to 12:00am
SUNDAY » 8:00am to 10:00pm

I've been going to Aloha Grill directly next door for a while now, but never noticed that a cupcake spot that serves HOME MADE ICE CREAM happened to open next door. How is this possible? Did my fat girl radar break? Anyway, while on an excursion to find new frames for my homey Rachel, we spotted Molly's and promptly decided to go in. Not too many days later, Monica, Chanda, and I returned. (They subsequently returned the next day; I love that my friends are as fat as I.) Not only do they serve one of the best red velvet cupcakes in the city (the frosting just bursts with cream cheese flavor), but they have stuffed and filled cupcakes as well. The Ron Bennington is chocolate cake with a peanut-butter-butterscotch filling, chocolate ganache, and a crushed butterscotch topping. Come on, go here people. It's a super cute place and the desserts are outstanding.





More Cupcakes
One East Delaware Place
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday
and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday

Just hit this spot today and was inspired by, perhaps, the best cupcake I've ever had to author this entry. More is simply cupcakes, nothing else. This place is quite a hot topic since they've been featured in Time Out Chicago and other food media. Bottom line, the hype is deserved. Both Monica and I bought a flight featuring six mini cupcakes and were thoroughly pleased by everything. The salted caramel cupcake will change your life. Imagine moist yellow cake filled with rich, salted caramel and topped with fluffy icing and a dusting of what I assume is sea salt. For those of you with sweet tooths (yes, i mean tooths), the addition of salt may seem somewhat blasphemous. Trust me, as a person who puts brown sugar in everything (including lasagna), it is a perfect counterpoint to the cupcake's sweetness. They're a bit expensive, but if you have the money, it's worth it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Songs for Dreary Sunday Afternoon

It's Sunday, rainy, and generally gloomy. I think I'll watch some Vincent Price/Roger Corman flicks whilst stuffing my pie hole with meats and cupcakes.

These songs capture my mood. Enjoy.

Mos Def - Umi Says (Zero 7 Remix)


Sista (the female Jodeci) - Feel of Your Lips


Peven Everett - Can't Do Without


Inez Andrews - Walk Around Heaven All Day


Aceyalone - Fortitude


Chuckii Booker - I Should Have Loved You

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jason Statham



I must admit, for a small*, balding white man, I like you much more than I should. But, how could I help myself? You kick ass.

Happy birthday to you, that ridiculous body of yours, and your body of work. I just saw Death Race a few weeks ago, and it was everything it should've been. Keep on truckin' my dude and I'll be there the day Transporter 3 opens.

*My bad. Turns out, he's 5'10".


Transporter 3 Trailer

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Umm ... Damn Opio

We all know A-Plus has always been my favorite from Souls. Just see his verses on "Make Your Mind Up" and "Live and Let Live," but Opio is kinda a beast right now. Yesterday, when I was stumbling around YouTube in my nostalgia, I came across a video from his new project Vulture's Wisdom. Shortly thereafter, I went to iTunes and bought the album. Shit's dope; buy it. He's inexplicably "hard" now---lots of guns--and he apparently hates all hoes cuz, "[he] fell in love once, with this shorty on some weak shit." Now all these hoes swallow. (Wow.) Regardless, it bangs.


Original Lyricist

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Memories of Better Musical Times

i really feel for this generation. back in the days, we had better music. our talent had better songs, better lyrics, and were better looking. i mean, really, Weezy versus say Lord Jamar or Kane? no contest ... at all. Food & Liquor versus Midnight Marauders? please.

figured i'd take a look at a few seminal (for me) songs that still groove. why not? i have nothing better to do.



"yo, i know what you mean, son/i seen some blind, some deaf, some dumb." disagree if you will, but they made the best album out of the entire BCC, and that's not to take away anything from anyone else in the collective. Da Shinin' was simply perfect.



i looooooved N'dea Davenport in the early-90s. if i had had an idol, she would've been it--fabulous and talented. plus, the girl could dress like nobody's business.



sitting in earth science reciting Lord Jamar's verse over and over. Now THAT, my friend, is a memory. looking back, his verse is maaaad misogynistic ...."i ain't down with a honey who don't wanna submit/always throwin' a fit/wanna talk a lot of shit/ but love to get hit from behind"? that shit's not okay. he still fine, though.




A-Plus was always my favorite and still is. on souls of mischief's debut, i inadvertently learned all of his verses and just a few of the other guys'. as a matter of fact, one of his lines from this song ("wanna hear a joke? i'm you") became the foundation for one of the longest, lamest jokes my friend, monica, and i ever manufactured. it's wack, don't ask.


i'm done.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fashion Week (So Far)

Let's get my disappointments out of the way:

United Bamboo, I wasn't excited and do not anticipate buying anything from the collection. The look was more sober and restrained, more adult. The large geometric proportion they usually play with was much more tame this time around. I'm good.



Proenza Schouler? Mostly no. There were some interesting looks, but the wildly-sculptured shoulders on their glamazon doesn't wok for my man shoulders.


Now on to the others.

Vena Cava did more of the same, but it was same plus. Plus a longer skirt. Plus a hint of modest glam. Plus draping. Same pretty, interesting pieces in nice patterns or rich solids. Some of the dresses were quite beautiful. Case in point, I need this dress:



Jonathan Saunders? Loved it.


































Herchcovitch is kinda back for me. Last spring, I wasn't at all excited about what he had to offer. For this upcoming spring, he has still included the signature wild pattern, but it's contrasted with a militaristic/safari edge. Interesting ... not great, but there are some pieces I'm interested in owning.


















































Diane von Furstenberg's aesthetic was decidedly flower-child-dipped-in-tropical-waters with her aggressively bright floral patterns and flower accents. It was weird because the show was pretty urban in the beginning but got progressively softer. Then, it took a quick turn at safari, swam the pool, and eventually ended up at the club. No matter what, her muse is all about her accessories.

















































You know I have to give it up for my sis-TAH Tracy Reese. She did what she does, pretty pieces that a range of women feel comfortable wearing. Some looks were underwhelming for me, too unadventurous or slightly off, but I'm sure people will like it.






















































I LOVED the Preen show. Sophisticated but not boring. Translucent fabrics, ruffles, geometry ... it all worked for me. The press, apparently, disagrees, but they can suck it.




Saturday, September 06, 2008

Chicago's African Festival of the Arts

aka the biggest hip hop show of the year.

last weekend this time, i was knee deep in a three-day hip hop show that only cost me 30 bucks. for old people like me, the Fest is the time of the year where middle-school hip hop acts take to the stage and show us why hip hop was so much better in the early-90s. this year, my middle-aged magicians on the mic did not disappoint. it was a blast.
monica "taking a picture" with greg nice. he's still live as hell. and peep him tryna get some chicago points.



smooth b rocking the em eye see


me and my skinny arms and visible bra strap and backne (low self esteem much?) trying to keep up with greg nice.



dres as black sheep (mr. lawnge was nowhere to be found) being really personable, engaging in witty repartee with the audience, and doing the hits. his new material's pretty good, real talk.

jimmy being thoroughly entertained and engaged by black sheep's set.



monica "taking another picture" with thelma. (yep, she was there too.)



i must say, we blasphemed by leaving before kane hit the stage saturday night, but we were tired. six hours of local "talent" and no kane. dude, we were done and i kinda regret it. either way, the highlights of the weekend were surely nice & smooth and brand nubian. they were live as shit and almost immediately brought the show down into the audience. greg still moves like a 20 year old and daryl is still smooth as hell. even jimmy, who was barely alive during their era, was entertained. plus, Rachel, Monica, and I were all jacked up and manhandled by greg nice, greg n-i-c-e. it was awesome. (more on that later.)

brand nubian rocked the house as well, but in a different way. first of all, every single one of them looks fantastic. sadat x has a little meat on his bones now and his skin in frickin' amazing. grand puba has lost a few but hasn't lost any swag at all. and finally, lord jamar (minus his locks) is still gor-ge-ous. breath control was all over the place AND they did the hits. monica, jimmy, and I had stepped off for beverages, missing the first three songs, but we still got quite the show. (i also broke my shoe running back, but that's just my fault now isn't it?) unfortunately, all of the pictures i have of them suck, so you won't be seeing those.

This is Greg Nice putting it on Rachel. Notice how he bumps her right out of the frame near the end.

video

Friday, September 05, 2008

Nostalgia


maybe i'm remembering wrong, for i am quite known for my completely useless "memory" (yes, it's so bad, there's something slightly ironic about naming it such), but one of my few memories of early life involves sitting cross-legged on my mother's bed watching gruesome horror movies in the dark. that's it. no games with friends or special christmases or ballet recitals but cinematic homicide.

(my mommy had a penchant for action films so i watched a lot of those too.)

i wonder now how much my early cinematic tastes affected who i've become. up until the age of 25 or so, i only had bloody dreams. babies fell from the sky and splattered on the sidewalk, vampires morphed out of blocks of turkey ham, skyscraper-sized gorillas traversed the city smashing people with their enormous ape feet (yep, these are all real). it wasn't until my late twenties that i had real dreams with people and not ghouls or monsters in them. maybe i was just born weird or maybe watching the pivotal final scene in Sleepaway Camp pushed me over the edge. who knows? all i know is that today, i am a near 30-year-old who still collects crappy anchor bay horror movies and is *this* close to crying if the evil dead remake becomes a reality (read: this would be bad, so very bad).

The Best of My Cinematic Adolescence

Evil Dead - perhaps my favorite movie of all time. the last twenty minutes is a carnival of putrescence. thank you, ash.

Night of the Creeps - hard to find yet so worth it when you do. what do you get when you mix c-level actors, slugs from outer space, and a college campus? this wonderful exercise in brilliance.

Scanners
- david cronenberg is a creepy, creepy man. that said, he makes a mean movie. one of the more serious films on my list.

Monster Squad - not really horror, moreso horror influenced. it's like The Goonies with classic movie monsters. i just learned this, but the guy who's responsible for Night of the Creeps (Fred Dekker) also worked on this. he's a genius.

Silent Night, Deadly Night - at the time, i had no idea mothers were so pissed. i guess they were pissed about the killer santa. whatevs, this movie is great.

Prom Night - one of Jamie Lee Curtis's finest films.

Black Christmas - another tale of christmas crazies. considering how stressful this time of year is, i'm surprised there aren't more christmas serial killers. this was recently remade, and i refused to acknowledge it.



Phantasm - it's old and, i feel, kinda overlooked. too bad cuz angus scrimm as the tall man is just scary for no reason.

Hellraiser - another one of the scariest on this list. while many of my picks have comedic undertones, this one is straight horror through and through. to this day, i dread opening my eyes when lights are flickering. i just know the cenobites will be standing there.

The Thing - one reason why Kurt Russell and John Carpenter are the men (not because they're white). horrifying and classic.

Fright Night - can't say how many times i've seen this one, but it still holds up for me. Chris Sarandon was born to be a vampire.




976-EVIL - apparently this was directed by Robert Englund. good job, Rob.

Creepshow/Creepshow 2 - you gotta love horror anthologies. some of the finest minds in horror come together for the greater good, which is what happened here. plant dude, played by Stephen King, actually makes me sad. "Thanks, lady, thanks for the ride."

The Hitcher - C. Thomas Howell should never have stopped. i recall being at my former best friend's aunt's in the suburbs (whew). one of the bestest deaths in horror history.

The Puppet Master - i'm not sure what to say about this one. it was, for sure, creepy. little demonic dolls traipsing around killing folks? it looks cheap as hell but works for some reason.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

More Fall Coats - The Mackage Edition

I've highlighted Soia & Kyo's winter line of coats. Now, let us turn our attentions toward their older (and more expensive) sister line, Mackage. Winter just ain't winter for me unless I get at least one Mackage. They're warm, well-made, and frickin' gorgeous.

Why not start with a puffer? This silhouette is gorgeous, which instantly eliminates that nagging fit issue most puffers suffer from. Simply beautiful.




Now this is clearly in the running. I need a short, brown coat that zips up (as beautiful as large, ornamental buttons are, they take up too much of my time) and this one fits at least two of the criteria. Check out that detail.





Another puffer. It's cute, but I'm torn. Another nice silhouette, but I'm sure this coat will swallow me. I'm just too petite for this.



This coat is so-so on the surface, but the back is bangin', sorta like a butter face.


Bee-yoo-ti-ful.


AND they got leathers. I can say from experience that the leather is, in fact, heavenly.

Beautiful coats all around, but I'm feeling that the styles aren't really trumping what Soia & Kyo bring to the table ... for HALF the price. I don't know. Maybe I'll have a windfall and get them all.