You don’t have to give a damn about Photoshop skills to find this hee-larious.
Can someone tell me why developers who build urban, stylish condos designed to appeal to young people refuse to give us the hip bathrooms we deserve? I have visited at least 30 different new construction condo buildings in Chicago, and nearly every one offers the same options in every bath: beige, 12″ travertine, marble or granite countertops in some hideous tiger-stripe pattern, and oak cabinets that look like the most inoffensive, cheap option you can find in stock at any Home Depot. And don’t get me started on those $20 ceiling light fixtures that look like a glass boob with a big brass nipple staring down at you. We just don’t have time to address it all.
At least two weekends a month, I visit sales centers for new construction or check out open houses just for fun. (It’s a serious problem and I have decided that I either need to get my real estate license this year or seek addiction counseling.) By now, I’m all too familiar with the aesthetic crimes so many developers commit in an effort to appeal to the widest possible audience. Yet, in a competitive market, aren’t many builders and rehabbers missing an opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competitors by offering more exciting finishes? And why does something have to be beige to be neutral? Why aren’t all these Pottery Barn shoppers demanding more of what they see in their beloved Restoration Hardware catalogs: white subway tile walls, pedestal sinks, and hex tile floors?
I did find a small building in Pilsen recently and another one in West Town with finishes that got me excited, but affordable places like these are definitely the exceptions to the rule. I suppose if I want something done right, I’m going to have to do it myself, which means finding an outdated fixer-upper and scouring the web for bargain pricing on the finishes of my dreams. (I’ll worry about step three—learning how to lay tile—later.)
Here are a few sites I’ve found so far that have reasonable prices on some or all of their glass tile inventory. Let me know if you have any other sites to suggest. I’m also always on the hunt for great photos of beautiful baths (ideally ones that wouldn’t require 50 grand and a rockstar architect to recreate), so feel free to share links to inspiring bath photos as well if you know of any.
I just discovered this Presidential Campaign Game that lets you face off against another 2008 presidential hopeful in a fundraising fight to the death.
It’s a bit like Risk meets chess on a much smaller scale. The instructions that are built into the game are a bit long and overwhelming, so let me give you the abridged version:
That about sums it up. Even if you don’t like strategy games, this one is simple and amusing enough to merit at least a few rounds of play.
If I were to start my own home décor store, it would probably be a lot like CB2—affordable, modern, bright, and fun. I love their new Marilyn plates. Of course, I wish designers would use some of Warhol’s lesser-known works, since this Marilyn Monroe print is everywhere. But, if you love all things pop, I think you’re obligated to have at least one muli-colored Marilyn in your home.
Here’s another good example of why tolerating a little more inbox clutter can lead to great bargains. I get an email about once a week from Ticketmaster with upcoming events around Chicago. (You can sign up for TicketAlert here to get emails about what’s coming to your town.) For the most part, the emails aren’t much help. They usually urge me to buy tickets for a spectacle I have no interest in seeing—like Avril Lavigne parading around in whatever Hot Topic outfits she didn’t have her assistant donate to that “hurricane thing.” However, every once in a while I get a great tip on a special ticket deal for a show I really want to see.
A few months ago, I got incredible seats to see The Color Purple before it left town (front row dress circle, dead center) for $39.50. The price was only good for a few weeknight shows, but it was still a great deal. Today, I got a heads up that tickets for a few evening performances of My Fair Lady are $20 off when you use the promo code HIGGINS.
Of course, it’s always a bit depressing to get a discount on tickets only to see all those convenience and service fees devour it when you check out online. If you want to be a truly fanatical Frugal Fag follower, find the seats you want through the Ticketmaster site, then buy your tickets at the box office. In my experience, whatever special promo codes and sales Ticketmaster is offering can also be had at the box office, although you might want to call ahead just to be sure. Also, don’t forget the code because they WILL ask for it. When I went to buy my tickets for The Color Purple, I initially told the guy in the booth that I wanted to get the $39.50 tickets I heard about through a Ticketmaster email. He responded with a raised eyebrow and asked, “What was the code?” Thankfully I had it memorized, but the whole experience made me feel like I was trying to score some pot in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
I just LOVE this old SNL clip, and you should love it too…
Lord knows I want to throw a bag of old Chicken McNuggets at somebody’s head once, sometimes twice a day. The next time you’re feeling sorry for yourself, just imagine how you’d feel if you caught your significant other in a hot tub with extras from a Jay-Z vid-juh!
You know, when it’s all said and done, drug addiction can be kicked in rehab, yellow teeth can be whitened, and a bad haircut is always a temporary setback. However, I fear that Whitney’s career may never recover from the captivating horror that was Being Bobby Brown. I’m not sure any amount of exfoliating can scrub away the memory that this woman once claimed her husband pulled a “dookie bubble” out of her ass. Then there’s always that tabloid article about Whitney’s crack-den bathroom. I think when America learns that you once drilled a hole in your bathroom wall to spy on your house guests from inside a bathroom full of crack pipes and vibrators, it’s safe to say you won’t be invited to compete on the next Dancing with the Stars. Of course, that’s not going to stop me from dreaming.
For those of you in Washington, Georgia, Illinois and Texas, Washington Mutual is offering a relatively new savings account with an incredible rate of 6.5%. The catch is that you can only add up to $500 per month to the account and I’m pretty sure that’s the limit on the opening balance, too. Although it’s not the place to stash your $100,000 inheritance from Aunt Ethel, it’s the best rate I’ve found for a slow and steady approach to saving.
For anyone who can’t take advantage of the WaMu account, here are a few online savings accounts that are available nationally and currently offer some of the highest rates:
As you may know, Nate Berkus and I have been bitter rivals for years. When I dumped him for Orlando Bloom back in ‘05, he swore I’d never work in this town again. He nearly ruined me. Every time I’d show my face in a Linens-N-Things, there’d be a lot of whispering and the sales associates were terribly cruel. “You’re having trouble reaching those clearance goose down comforters? Well why don’t you just walk all over Nate Berkus to get to them, you whore? Is that red-tagged Rachel Ray cookware heavy? Well why don’t you just call Orlando? Maybe he can help you carry it to your car, you skank!” Oprah started screening my calls. It was most unpleasant.
Today, I’m happy to report that, despite Nate’s best efforts to destroy me, my condo has been featured on Apartment Therapy. Within hours of its publication, my house tour was showered with praise. The distinguished interior design critic “schnauzer” called it, “Stunning and cozy and personal at the same time…When can I come over for dinner?” Another user gave it rave reviews, asking, “If I move in, may i have the orange bedroom?” Clearly these people are clamoring for a piece of the Frugal Fag lifestyle. They love my work so much, they want to be surrounded by it and go so far as to suggest that I move them in and cook for them. Surely these people would line up outside their local Target to get their hands on the newest line of Frugal Fag dishware! And let’s not forget Frugal Fag paint, with exclusive colors like “Filene’s Basement Brown” and “Nordstrom Rack Red.”
Clearly, this is the beginning of something big. Nate Berkus, eat your heart out.
I realized and/or remembered several things over my Christmas/New Year’s vacation:
I have a small group of friends who have known me for more than 10 years, and I had a great time visiting them around the start of the new year. Whenever we get together, I can’t decide if I should have them all killed because they know too much or kiss them for standing by me through so many of my most embarrassing growing pains. In high school, they continued to associate with me even when I went through my shiny-clothes phase. (Nothing says, “I’m finally ok with my gayness” like a pair of black vinyl pants and a silver velour dress shirt from Gadzooks.) In college, they listened to me complain about the latest frat boy who stood me up and they’d reassure me that he didn’t know what he was missing. Today, they humor me when I pitch them my half-baked entrepreneurial ideas and they tell me my hair looks as thick and lustrous as it did when Madonna released Ray of Light. They truly are the best friends a guy could ask for.
The older I get, the more I wonder if it’s possible to make new friends who we feel as deeply connected to as the people who have known us since college (or longer). Are we really incapable of bonding with people as strongly once our formative years have passed? Or do new commitments and interests arise—like parenthood or financial success or giving back to society—that cause us to bond with new people who we might not have had much in common with before? And, if so, does that mean we’re all destined to outgrow any of our friends who don’t change in the same way we do?
I had a blast spending New Year’s Eve with old friends back in the area where I grew up. The more I search for people like them in Chicago, the more I realize they are truly irreplaceable. That’s not to say I haven’t met wonderful people here. It’s just easy to see why so many people never really leave the place where they grew up, and why the people who do often feel like they don’t have much in common with their hometown friends as the years go by. Maybe when we move, we become more like the new people we meet because it keeps us from dwelling on what we’ve left behind. Maybe, for the sake of closure, we have to believe that the amazing friends we now can’t see every day weren’t so great anyway. Maybe, whether we realize it or not, we change so we can feel closer to new acquaintances because it’s more convenient and gratifying than staying the same and relying entirely on old friends who are suddenly so far away.
Of course, that could all be complete bullshit. Maybe we grow apart from old friends because moving helps us learn more about ourselves and become the people we’re meant to be. Or maybe moving has nothing to do with it. Maybe some people change more than others over time because their life experiences (which might not involve relocation) push them in new directions or open their eyes to new ways of seeing the world. Whatever the case may be, I’m thankful for the time I had with my friends from Alabama. I just hope we’re not all bound to some sort of best-friend quota that requires we make a few downgrades before promoting someone new to our personal VIP lists.
Now that Barack has taken Iowa, I find myself thinking more than ever about the role of the President and what makes a candidate best qualified for that role. I’m sure it sounds naïve, but I love that Barack seems genuinely interested in changing how young people view politics—to make it seem like a more noble and effective way to improve society. I recognize that he’s inexperienced, but I’m not sure that’s entirely bad. I think America is dying for a President who inspires people and sets lofty goals for the country, and I don’t think that requires decades in the Senate. Personally, I’m dying for a President who is intelligent enough to write a few bestselling books BEFORE becoming President, but still humble enough to admit when he needs help making a decision. I don’t expect the President to be both an expert military strategist and a great accountant and an astute healthcare reformer and an economics and immigration scholar. I just expect the President to be a great visionary, to know what he or she does well, and to hire a brilliant staff that will help complement his or her strengths and weaknesses.
A friend of mine told me recently that he plans to vote for Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primary in his state. Like a lot of liberal democrats, I agree with Kucinich’s views on just about everything, but I assume voting for him will have very little impact on which contender makes it to the main event. Of course, I hate that most voters support the most electable candidate they can tolerate rather than voting for the one who they agree with the most. Yet, I feel that voting for Obama provides the best of both worlds. I think Obama could definitely surprise people who overestimate the number of racists who won’t elect a black candidate. I also think he could surprise a lot of people who assume there’s no such thing as a candidate who doesn’t base all his decisions on focus group research and lobbyist demands. Of course, I won’t really make up my mind until the Illinois primary rolls around. But, in the mean time, it’s fun to listen to Barack speak in that crazy southern preacher voice about his humble beginnings and his dreams for the future. If even just a small part of that is really him, it’s still pretty damn exciting.