With a bouncy, chuggy beat accented by continually shaking sleigh bells, a flute somewhere in the background and a disembodied chorus of “ooh-ooh”s, “Strange Powers” manages to be part oompah, part fast buggy ride over the boardwalk and 100% hooky. Frontman, multi-instrumentalist and lead vocal Stephen Merritt’s laconic baritone is swathed in reverb amongst all the musical merriment, as he delivers his declarations of infatuation via deceptively cynical lyrics. It takes at least two listens to figure out quite what’s happening. But at a mere 2:42, it’s such a catchy tune I’m betting you’ll play it more than twice.
Though it still sounds fresh as a daisy, “Strange Powers” was originally released way back in 1994 on Holiday. It is also the title of a 2010 documentary on the band (which is primarily Merritt’s baby) that can be rented on Amazon. I’m going to have to check it out and get back to you all.
Plug the song into your Pandora or download it from iTunes or Amazon.
Guy jewelry is a tricky thing and some are of the (old) school of thought that it should be watch & wedding ring max. But that seems a bit staid by MFL standards. There’s more than one way at a time to express the complexity of our personalities. Sometimes we want to show our inner tribal warrior off even if we’re wearing a button down Oxford and a tie. Thanks to my better half giving me one for our anniversary (an incredible gift, BTW) I feel that John Hardy leather bracelets can do that job quite nicely. Not all the designs are winners but a bracelet like the Dayak is nothing but masculine and will complement your tats (or naked hairy wrist) to a T.
The interplay of leather and sterling silver is based on the traditional warrior designs of the Dayak tribe of Borneo, so you can grab a little of that ethos vicariously when you strap on the Hardy version. (You can read more about the badass Dayaks here but suffice to say you don’t want to start talking smack about their jewelry lest you end up with your head on display in their hut.)
If you want a splash of color, a Station Bracelet in red or green makes a nice statement.
These bracelets aren’t cheap by any means at $275-$495 for most of the leather collection. But their solid silver pieces are exponentially more expensive so these are a good way to treat yourself to a bit of tribal toughness that can be worn everyday without breaking the bank. Just don’t wear the ones with magnetic clasps on the same wrist as your watch, as they are quite strong. Unless your watch is an IWC Ingenieur or Rolex Milgauss, that is.
Their official site is here: John Hardy for Men. They also produce a wide range of cufflinks, full metal bracelets, rings and necklaces, as well as stuff for the women & kids.
A strong eye and ear opener to go with your coffee and breakfast, “Baghdad Blues” is an uptempo workout composed by Don Newey and recorded by the Horace Silver Quintet. Silver is a wonderful pianist and on this track (and much of the superlative 1959 album Blowin’ the Blues Away) he shows his usual fine eye as a bandleader by assembling the swinging quintet of Junior Cook on tenor sax, the estimable Blue Mitchell on trumpet, Gene Taylor on Bass and Louis Hayes on the skins.
Like so much of Horace Silver’s classic work, there is an effortless virtuosity to the Baghdad Blues. He also demonstrates the undervalued leader’s quality of selflessness: the solos are concise and spread around democratically. The song scoots along at a nice clip and circles back to it’s brassy bridge several times before jumping off again into ecstatic excellence. Best of all, he’s still going strong at 84. If he comes to your town, be sure to check out one of the living legends of Jazz.
I just wanted to start a series of posts on relatively inexpensive vintage watches that I think are a good way to begin collecting and provide great bang for the buck. I may go into these makes & models in more detail at a later date but for now here’s a quick example with pix.
Vintage Longines Admiral, circa 1970
Vintage Longines are, for the most part, grossly undervalued in terms of the quality they deliver relative to other “sexier” brands. Take this nice blue dialed Admiral from the early 1970s that I recently sold (with a tinge of regret).
Not a big watch at 35mm, it is nevertheless a nice casual dress size and the face looks large due to the narrow bezel. Plus I am a big fan of blue dials and this one is a beauty.
It has a water resistant two-piece all-stainless steel case and screwed back, which makes it ideal for daily wear.
But best of all, its “super power” is that it features a rare in house Longines cal. 431 25-jewel chronometer-grade movement adjusted to temperature and 4 positions that beats at 36,000 bph, which gives the second hand a pleasingly smooth sweep.
This deluxe version of the 431 was arguably Longines’ most technically advanced movement (the more commonly found version is detuned down to 28,800 bph), an engineering pinnacle of sorts before the quartz revolution nearly destroyed the mechanical watch industry. People like to debate about high beat vs. lower beat movements in terms of accuracy (higher beat) vs. durability (lower beat). That notwithstanding, one has to take their hat off to Longines’ commitment to pushing forward with then-cutting edge mechanical watch technology in the face of the rapidly changing world of tuning fork and quartz module competition.
IMO, this watch is a stylish steal at around $600-$750.
Here’s something a little grungy to kick off your Monday by the collaboration of 90s hard-alternative vets Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) and Gregg Dulli (Afghan Wigs) known as The Gutter Twins.
A much more souped up version of this tune than that of the songwriter, José González (his is also very good just mellow/acoustic–you can compare it here), it appears on the Twins’ 2008 Adorata. Along with a strong cup of java, it should help get you going.
Plug it into your Pandora station or download from iTunes (Adorata is not currently available on Amazon).
Rarely has the benefit of the product and the diss to the competition been so cleverly entwined as in DIRECTV’s“When you have to (do something annoying because Cable sucks) you end up (worst case scenario). Don’t (worse case scenario). Get rid of cable. Upgrade to DIRECTV” campaign. If a mini-story is one great ways to sell a product and humor is another, these ads are the best of both worlds because they are damn funny and travel a very long story arc in 30 seconds. And because one of the oldest principles of comedy is that there is very little funnier than someone else’s slapstick misfortune, the arc is inevitably catastrophic for the protagonist. You can practically sense the creatives at Grey advertising working backwards from the outcome to get to the benefit: “Let’s see: a guy has to sell his hair to a wig shop–how do we get him there and blame Cable for it?” And like the Dos Equis campaign, DIRECTV also uses a uber-serious narrator with great pipes and intonation (in this case, the 60 Minutes man) to give the spot a faux serious documentary/PSA feel that perfectly plays off of the crazy on screen action.
Like only the very best campaigns, we’re actually left hoping for new spots while never tiring of these classics:
We here at MFL are big fans of the mustache. Our own tomvox is currently sporting one and I’ve been know to grow one from time to time. I think even Graham has one of those David Niven jobs on his upper lip but he’s always on the road and I haven’t seen him for weeks.
No matter, if you’re burnt out on your beard during these hot summer months, you may want to give the Magnum, P.I. look a shot.
On second thought, “The Selleck” is a pretty advanced ‘stache so maybe you should work up to that bristly wonder with a little practice lest you hurt your face.
We’re not sure how the classic stand alone mustache got such a poor fashion rep. Too many gold chain-wearing over-tan St. Tropez types in banana hammocks? The Village People? 70s porn? But we feel it’s a fine statement to make on the confident man’s upper lip. The squares may give you some confused looks but trust us, the ladies like ’em. And really, are you gonna follow the herd or be your own man?
The How To: Grow a beard for something like a week so you eliminate that awkward “shadow lip” phase and then shave and shape to your taste. You can keep a soul patch for support if you’re feeling vulnerable. But eventually try to make the leap to only the furry upper lip. Wahl trimmers can give you whatever shape and level of bushiness you’re looking for.
In the meantime, have a look at these other guys along with Magnum and tell us again that the ‘stache is not cool…
And be careful with this last one–unless you ride a big Harley or a horse, you may not be able to pull it off:
This dark Dutch goddess was already famous as an Elite model when she starred opposite Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in Goldeneye–her Xenia Onatopp is #18 on the excellent list of Bond Girls over at Ropeofsilicon.com. And she only seems to be getting better with age. Not only does she still have drop dead gorgeous looks and have great depth as an actress but she’s a multiple threat, with screenwriting & directorial credits to her name. She’s also an alumna of Columbia University and has followed in the footsteps of other great actresses by becoming a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
Famke has a cameo reprising her role as sexy telepath Jean Grey in the newly released movie, The Wolverine. While I don’t know how good that’s going to be, I do know that she will definitely be her usual seductive self. This fascinating lady just can’t help it.