Friday, 27 August 2010

Rusty crew

Regular ArchBlog readers will be aware I have a penchant for anything flecked. To them, it will come as no surprise that I love this Wyatt 'fire' colorway crew neck jumper from jeans manufacturer Edwin. If it was any more autumnal it would actually be a rust-coloured leaf falling from a tree in a gust. Via Selectism

Strength in depth (two sevens do not clash)

It has been my understanding that when people are left together in confined spaces with diminishing resources, they turn on each other. To quote political philosopher Thomas Hobbes (a first on ArchBlog) life in scenarios such as this can get "nasty, brutish and short." Hobbes has a point. I've seen children cry for hours when the air hostess refuses them a 12th Coke or extra bag of pretzels on long-haul flights.
But the 33 Chilean miners trapped in their subterrainian sweatbox are displaying a remarkable togetherness that is as surprising as it is inspiring. The situ down there in the lava locker room (c) seems to be a long way from the self-interested bedlam one might expect. No, the miners (who I have enormous respect for) are taking 'colleague' to a whole new level. This team is built. In their own words: "We have everything organized ... We plan, we have assemblies here everyday so that all the decisions we make are based on the thoughts of all 33."
So, what's the conclusion? Maybe humans aren't intrinsically bad eggs. Or maybe Chilean men just love nothing more than playing uninterupted dominoes with their best buddies.
Watch the first vid rescued from the cave-in shelter here ...

Vid via Associated Press

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Mining a rich vein

Half a mile undergound there are 33 Chilean miners trapped in a subterranean prison. They've been there 18 days surviving on a few spoonfuls of tuna and a biscuit each a day. The good news is they've been discovered. The bad news? It'll take around four months (!) to get them out of there. And that's assuming there's not another cave-in. Until they are reached, their only means of communication with the outside world is via a hole the size of a grapefruit. I bet they've got the subterranean homesick blues. Meanwhile, over in London, Oliver Spencer has just released its autumn/winter line. My favourite offering has to be the donkey jacket. It's a luxury re-interpretation (wax cotton shoulders, herringbone lining) of the donkey jacket made famous by Arthur Scargill and the miners. Let me know if I'm sounding at all frivolous.
Chilean miner monument photo credit: Loren Javier

Saturday, 21 August 2010

ArchBlog x Crimewatch - Stop Theft of Pheasants (STOP)

From time to time, I receive emails from friends and colleagues warning me of new and more sophisticated cashpoint scams to be on the look out for. To be frank, I don't always read the whole email. I figure I have a system in place which I know and trust: when I punch in my numbers (not 1234), I always shield my pin, and I switch queue if the person behind me is either scatching a weeping leg sore or wielding a bloody bike chain.
However, there's an under-reported new crime I do feel duty-bound to immediately bring to the attention of ArchBlog readers: poult (baby pheasant) rustling (stealing).
According to The Press Association, baby pheasants are being stolen from farms across the countryside at an alarming rate. It's taking off big time. This just in from the PA reporter who's embedded with the Leicestershire coppers: "About 200 birds were stolen from cages on Watborough Farm, in Tilton-on-the-Hill, Leicestershire, on August 7, before the same number were taken from Limes Farm in nearby Gaulby on August 17." The street value of these birds is no joke. It's £1,300.
Beyond sheer evil, I dread to think what motivates the poalt rustlers?
Are they laying on shooting weekends for blue-blooded toddlers not yet quite up to blasting clay pigeons? Or are they organising boozy weekends in the woods for alcoholic aristos so sozzled they can only manage shooting targets which can't actually fly (or move)? The mind boggles and throws up words like 'sick,' 'wrong' and 'Hugo' I'm launching STOP with the aim of bringing to justice the dastardly crims behind this rural crimewave which is spreading faste than a Muscovite wild-fire. If the rustlers are stealing to order (art world style), I'll not rest until I bring down the kingpin who's pulling the puppet strings. The buck will stop.
By now, you're probably wondering ... how will STOP start? Well, firstly, let me echo PA deepthroat Pc Chris Hill, when he says: "We would like to speak to anyone who has been offered a large number of pheasants." So, next time you're in a countryside pub, do me a favour would you? Keep a beady eye out or anyone who looks (even slightly) like a poacher. If they are carrying a gently undulating binliner sporting the odd beak rip, send ArchBlog a text or tweet and I'll despatch the nearest STOP officer.
While my hopes are sky-high that we can track down the Barbour-clad baddies, I'm prepared for a long stakeout (chocolate Digestives - tick). As Hill notes, "[T]he birds are probably too small to be used for human consumption, and too small to fly, so they may have been taken elsewhere until they are more mature." So, eyes peeled on that ivy-clad outhouse, that little-used shed on the allotment. Rustle a few feathers in high places - see what fleas you can unearch. Remember, these babies are somewhere. And we need to find them ...
Photo credit (baby pheasant): John Mesjak
Photo credit (beaters): Des Colhoun (Creative Commons License)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Special Delivery

Homework for the holidays is not every student's idea of fun. But Riitta Ikonen is not every student. She's special.
When studying at the University of Brighton in 2004, Ikonen's Illustration tutor set the class a (potentially boring) holiday assignment; to send one piece of art to her each week. Presumedly, the idea was to keep the students in the swing of things. Fair enough.
I have no idea how the other students responded, but Ikonen went effing postal. Seizing the bull by the horns, Ikonen sent her teacher over 150 pieces of inspired mail art. Wherever she went, Ikonen found something or other to address and send back to Brighton.
Granted there's the odd cliche in the resulting Mail Art project - can artists just get over driftwood? -but it's still a work of staggering genius if you ask me. Check it out for yourself in YCN’s window at 72 Rivington Street, London.
Astoundingly, almost all Ikonen's 'letters' made it back to Blighty. Yup, even the copper pipe with a scratched address and the slimy slab of hair and glue. It goes to show that posties still have a sense a humour and will deliver pretty much anything so long as it's correctly stamped. Thanks to regular ArchBlog tipster Dearlove for directing me to the Applied Works blog guest posted by Ikonen.

See all the mail art pieces Ikonen's website

Kept hidden

If you locked Chris Morris in a darkened room for 48 hours, and gave him as many expressos as he wanted, he'd still struggle to top this ...

Via Tsanga

Pint-sized Zizou

Two words: holy and dude ...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Albam August

I'd be pretty happy to only ever wear Albam clothing. All their stuff is well made and suitably understated. They've just updated their behind the scenes blog with a sneak peak at some of the styles they are dropping for Autumn. The Trail Parka looks particularly nice and ideal for this showery August.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Shearling Fur deck shoes

Deck shoes are my number one wardrobe staple. Come wind, rain or shine I wear my trusty Quoddy for Album 3-eye boat shoes pretty much wherever I go. I still love them because they go with everything and are the hardest wearing shoe I've ever come across.
I'm so happy with my black and burgundy Quoddys I hardly ever bother checking out other deck shoes. But I have to say these classic Sperrys, which have been given an unusual makeover by Band of Outsiders, are pretty eye-catching. For that just stepped off the treacle boat into lambing season look look no further ... Via Hypebeast

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Ugandan Action Movies

Hollywood action movies are becoming increasingly tiresome. To appear 'smart,' the plots are becoming more and more convoluted. Take surrealist heist movie "Inception" for example. The underlying concept is so complex (dream within a dream within a dream) that the characters spend most of the film explaining what the hell's going on to the audience. The result? Not enough crashbangwallop for action junkies.
Luckily, there's another strand of actioner out there that remains true to the mindless genre; Ugandan action moves.
In Ramon Film Productions' "Who Killed Captain Alex," boring plot detail never gets in the way of people getting shot, shot, kicked, shot, punched, bullied or firebombed. To make it even more captivating, a loud alarm bell sounds throughout the trailer to keep fans on their toes.

Via VBS Blog

Monday, 9 August 2010

Nanny McMonkey

Choosing the right babysitter is a right nightmare. Ask any new parent.
Do you go cheap and cheerful and hire a 15 year-old? Sure, it'll only cost you £20 and a ride home but can you be sure the vacant teen won't be too busy Tweeting on Facebook to notice your baby is wailing for a nappy change?
Or you fork out a fat wedge on a high-grade nanny who sports all the gold-standard childcare qualifications. Smart move other than you'll be so broke after paying her (or him) that you'll likely spend your date sharing a side of coleslaw at Spud-U-Like.
Well, the good news for all new parents is there's a third way; there's a new breed of nanny that is both affordable (free, in fact) and 110% reliable ...

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Norwegian Army Pants

While important, looks are not everything. Take these fugly string Y-fronts designed for, and worn by, the Norwegian army since the 1930s; they may well make one look like a dangerous sex offender on the run but, by God, are they comfy.
I leap for joy when my pair are dry on the line and I urge all Archblog readers to snap up a pair or two from uber-trendy German e-tailer Manufactum. Trust me, you'll never set foot in the underwear depts of GAP or M&S again.

Norwegian Manufactum
From Norway. String underwear.
The Norwegian army commandant Henrik Brun won himself a place in history as the inventor of string underwear:
In 1933 he sewed together his first set from old fishing nets and then presented them to the assembled officers´ club - including King HÃ¥kon VII. Sadly the reaction of this select circle has not been recorded, but Brun's idea must have caught on, because the manufacturer Brynje from Larvik has been supplying all units of the Norwegian army since 1950, for even in peacetime, these troops are up against a bitter enemy - the winter temperatures experienced beyond 57 degrees north.
Of course nowadays the underwear is not made of herring nets but from hard-wearing, sweat absorbing cotton on special raschel machines. Civilians too have learned to appreciate the advantages of this type of underwear, which keeps you warm, thanks to the thin layer of air trapped in the mesh, yet prevents a build-up of heat and can barely be felt on the skin. We have discovered from the relevant magazines, that endurance sportsmen in particular, appreciate this lightweight underwear.
Of course, there are people who maintain that the string vest is more at home on a building site or in a pigeon loft.
But if the likes of miners appreciate the qualities of these clothes when underground, it's no wonder they wear them in their time off. In fact it should be looked upon as a compliment.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Zizou Mark II

I don't usually share my love for Queens Park Rangers with ArchBlog readers. That's because it's a tricky relationship - occasionally wonderful, usually strained, difficult and tortuous - best not necessarily shared with all! But, today, I just can't help myself ... I'm so happy and I have to share.
Today, the superhoops finally landed their big target, capturing the insanely talented Adel Taarabt from Spurs for just £1 mill. Even if you don't care for football, watch the vid below of Taarbs in action; scintillating!
If young Adel can be encouraged to pass the ball a little more often, and steer clear of the falafel wraps and plates of baklava, it will turn out to be the best bit of business Rangers have ever done.
While something of an ego-maniac, Taarabt is by far and away the best player outside the premiership and the most exciting and talented player to don the hoops down at Loftus Road since tricky Trevor Sinclair.
Roll on the 2010/11 season starting with Barnsley on Saturday. With the addition of Taarbs, I think QPR are set for a top six finish.

Chunky crepes

Yesterday's torrential downpour in London reminded me that, unfortunately, you can't wear Quoddy deck shoes all year round in England. There comes a time when you need to boot up against the elements, especially when riding a bike into driving rain up Holland Park Avenue. I adore my trusty pair of Timberland Boot Company boots, but am also a big fan of these Trickers for Kurt Geiger boots just released. I like 'em because the leather reminds me of my dad's awesome Mulberry work bag and a basketball. I spose my only slight reservation with these is they might make one look a little BNP/EDL if teamed with cut-off stonewashed jeans and a black nylon bomber jacket!While on the subject of bulky boots for Autumn, the laces on these Visvims are superb and makes me wonder why far more show manufacturers don't invest more R&D dough into out-of-the-ordinary lacing?
Trickers boots alert via Selectism

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Dr Kiko (the world's first surgeon dog)

Dogs are man's best friend with good reason. They are loyal and unquestioning. They offer steady companionship, a reassuring bark here or tail wag there when life doesn't throw you a bone.
Some dogs do more than just provide excellent company. Sheepdogs help round up sheep (the clue's in the name). St Bernards roam the mountains offering hard booze to injured ramblers. German Shepherds mill around at tube stations sniffing out marijuana users before snitching to the feds.
And then there are the truly exceptional canines. Like Kino, an American doctor dog, who has just completed his first sucessful surgery.
When Kiko's scaredy-cat owner refused to have a badly infected toe seen to be a human doctor, Kiko took the law into his own hands. When the owner blacked out from a bellyful, Kiko set to work; he carefully ate the drunk idiot's toe, but, like any true medical professional, was careful to only eat the infected area. Way to go Kiko.

Via Gawker

Monday, 2 August 2010

The happiest man alive

Sometimes it takes people years, even decades, to find their true calling, discover their ideal occupation. For these people the road is hard. But the sensation that welcomes these people when they finally alight at their personal Graceland is borderline orgasmic. Take this guy. He worked for over 40 years as a commodities trader. He never listened to music except in the lift up to his penthouse office. And then he took a one-day 'How to be a DJ' course. The rest is history. He never even cleaned out his office.

Vid via Al Shux, ceo, music division, Archblog

Spell on You

Is there a better music vid in existence than this? If so, I'd like to see it. Screamin' Jay in full witch doctor get-up ...

Sock it to me!

It is an obvious point (which only the lead singer from Garbage would disagree with) but let me make it regardless; summer is better than winter.
It doesn't get dark at 4.30. And people invite you on holiday to even hotter countries where the food is way more delicious and you can stay in the sea for more than 10 minutes at a time.
That said, there are one or two things I like a lot about winter. Like thick, colourful socks. The kind you can wear without shoes without your feet bleating 'mate, we get a bit cold when you step on that stone flooring'.
So, it was with some excitement that I flag up Solmate Socks, bought to my attention by the sartorial Mr Arran Lidgett of Norf Weezy.
Beside the obvious fact that they are great looking, Solmate Socks are great for a whole host of reasons:
*given they are made of recycled cotton (mostly ground up old t-shirts) they offset your low-level guilt about how you are ruining the planet with every purchase.
*each colorway has an 'adorable' (are boys allowed to use that word?) name ie 'covered bridges' or 'october morning' (ft. in top two piccies below)
*the two socks in each pair do not match! Perfect for that 'nutty geology prof' look that's gonna be bigger than Christmas this winter.
Via Arran Lidgett
Socks available for $19 a pop over @ Hickory's Hard Goods


My increasingly less excitable wallet finger twitches whenever I see flecks in a knit. If it wasn't still summer, I'd be heading (geddit) to APC to cop this beanie...
Available from End Clothing for (a steep) sixty quid

Markets of Britain by Lee Titt

This excellent short is written, produced, narrated and directed by the 'great and underappreciated documentary filmmaker named Lee Titt, who also never existed'. Check out the murderer ringing his murderer's bell and the antique sex robot Titt unearths @ the mkt ...

Maulling in maghnaehs; Iranian women embrace rugger

Rugby kit is, largely, as dull as ditch-water. Apart from the odd exciting monstrosity like Stade Francais' infamous Warhollian Blanche de Castille number (below), rugger kit is usually as boring as talking to a prop about anything other than rucking. Or protein shakes.Thankfully, there's a new look on the rugger pitch which is entirely fresh and eye-catching; the Iranian women's sevens kit. The 'more is oh-so definately more' look involves a maghnaeh (a veil that fully covers the head, shoulders and neck) paired with a red Sloppy Joe and trackie bums. Not only does it look great but it swims squarely against the tide of the recent alarming penchant for figure-hugging kits which make rugby players look like condoms full of walnuts.
The Iranian kit has delighted the veil-obsessed Daily Mail. And while I am not usually a big fan of the Mail's writing, I have to say I like their opener: "If the rugby-playing women of Iran's national sevens team had cauliflower ears, no-one could tell". Photo credit (Iran rugger): AP