Friday, April 30, 2004

Happy Birthday, Queen Beatrix. And thanks for the ice cream cake (ah, the fringe benefits of working in a Dutch bank...). In Holland, April 30 is one big outdoor party, especially dear to my Dutch gay broeren en zussen (brothers & sisters). Peace.

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Ali Baba's Jaipur Address...

Happy Friday! I slept 11 hours last night, to ward off a looming flu/bug - it seems to have helped a great deal. Sunday I leave for Venezuela/Colombia and I have to be in tip-top shape. This weekend I will lay low and read all about the petroleum and beer industries. Here are some pictures of the Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, which I visited in August 2001. There are many palaces in Rajasthan, it's a patchwork of fairy-tale Ali Baba sultanates and shiekdoms along the eastern border of Pakistan. (Bin Laden is supposedly hiding on Pakistan's western border with Afghanistan). My friend Biz from Vassar married a Pakistan and lives in Karachi by the sea, Pakistan's southern border, if you will. It's a far cry from the Rye, New York of her childhood. Biz is short for Elizabeth. Later, dawgs.

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Thursday, April 29, 2004

All Aaron's Acres...

Ever wonder how big an acre really is? I don't think you get a good sense just by saying that 1 acre is 43,560 square feet. You get a better sense by saying it's 58 times as big as my apartment, which is 750 square feet. That's right, 58 of Aaron's apartment. Next, there are 640 acres to 1 square mile. Manhattan's area is 23 square miles, or 14,720 acres. So next time some mentions 1,000 acres, just think "A slice of Manhattan from 30th street to 50th street" to give yourself an idea. I hope y'all found this interesting. Can you calculate how many copies of your home would fit into an acre? Send this to me, showing the calculation, and I will send you a present whose dollar value is at least the same number as 2% the area of my apartment in square feet. This is awfully creative of me, as I face down 12 hours of work with a congested throat... Later, y'all...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Do The Two-Country Two-Day Hop

You read correctly. It's confirmed. To Venezuela Sunday. To Colombia Monday. To New York Tuesday all-night flight. Too Tired Wednesday

Pictured above: a shantytown. also known as favelas, villas miseria, and pueblos jovenes, the latter two translating as "povertytown" and "young town (because squatters spring up so quickly)."

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Tiny Places, Big Emotions

Sounds like an exhibit at the Museum Of Bad Art... If only it were.... Just for perspective: Israel is the size of Massachusetts, about 8,000 sq. miles. The West Bank is 1/4 as big, about 2,000 sq. miles or the size of Delaware. The Gaza Strip? This tiny hellhole is all of 138 sq. miles, slightly larger than Queens... No wonder they all feel cramped...

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Playing Ripley's Game... Here's a picture of Reykjavik, Iceland, where I plan to spend Memorial Day Weekend. So... I was very enthralled last night by the first half-hour of the seldom-seen 2002 gem "Ripley's Game" with John Malkovich as our the brilliant, clever, and somewhat psychotic title character. Bedtime, not boredom, made me stop at 10pm, but I hope to finish tonight. Malkovich is probably far closer to Patricia Highsmith's original book version of Ripley than Matt Damon, colder and meaner. So far, oddly, he seems both more effeminate and less gay than Damon's version - there's the odd presence of a pretty young wife. More to follow.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

To The Shores Of Tripoli...

Silly Me. I must have dictator-ruled wastelands on the brain...Or not. Libya reportedly does its charms. Since you might not get there in the near future, I thought I'd offer you a picture of its capital, the Tripoli whose shores our US Marines always sing about...

Tripoli is an ancient city. It was the Carthage of antiquity, beaten by the Romans in the 2nd century BC punic wars. Some 2100 years later they were invaded and brutally occupied by the armies of another famous Italian, Benito Mussolini. But with independence, they found happiness and... Muammar Qaddafi! Some countries have all the luck! More pictures below:

I worked a long 13 hour day today. I am preparing to publish my first articles. But I am feeling engaged in the new job, which is a good thing. Moving from an office to a cubicle turns out to be a good thing, as being less isolated seems to help my concentration. This is the best I've felt about work since the 2001 Chase-JPM merger that ended my long good luck streak there. Happily, half a million frequent flyer miles and twenty fewer pounds later, I feel kind of re-invented. Many budding interests poked their heads through in the wake of the wreckage, including photography, hiking, kayaking, art galleries, and stick-shift driving... ... and, of course, blogging.... Like the fabled Phoenix of Arizona, I rise from the ashes... I may be going to Dangerous Venezuela and Dangerous Colombia on Sunday. I should know tomorrow. Details to follow.

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Michael Jackson's new disguise? No, it's Muammar Qaddafi, back in Europe, closing the door on 20 years as an international pariah. Hopefully, he'll take the opportunity to get a well-needed hairstyle update... : - ) Good morning, everyone.

I'm not going to a show tonight after all.. My friend had to cancel : - (

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Monday, April 26, 2004

I'll Take Nunavut

I ain't seen None of It yet... About five years ago Canada gave a new name to a very very large piece of ice with intermittent natives and tundra. This used to belong to the "Northwest Territories" which stretched from the Yukon to Hudson Bay, but now Canada has broken off the eastern part of this huge space. They named it, Nunavut. No, they named all of it, but named it Nunavut. You know... Nunavut is due north of Manitoba and Western Ontario, which in turn is due north of Minnesota and Wisconson. Nunavut reaches to the North Pole. Well, some of it does.. : - ) You can vacation in Nunavut, usually in the summer. here are pictures:

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It's raining. My alarm clock failed to ring. I wish I were wandering through the bizarre and beautiful spires of Bryce Canyon in Utah....

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Sunday, April 25, 2004

Mom pointed out that the 1990 picture of her and Dad posted Saturday wasn't my Dad's last Father's Day, which was spent on a day trip from New York to relatives near Boston. Still, it was a nice family day, in Chinatown and I think South Street Seaport, at the time still a novelty here.

My dear friend Bart invited me tonight on the spur of the moment to see two new plays by Terrence McNally. More on that tomorrow. Last week Bart and I saw "Between Us" (pictured above), a searing and riveting look at the marriages of two art school friends and how they change. I was spellbound, but the Times critic thought it was a pale Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff knock-off. To each their own. While walking along the Central Park edge to the subway, near the many horses and buggies, we could smell the Republican platform : - ) Have a good night. I sure wish this weekend were just starting....

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House Of _____ And _____

It's been a Netflix sort of weekend...

Roles that Ben Kingsley was born to play aren't easy to come by. Colonel Moussad Behrani is such a role.

"House Of ___ And ____" is a masterwork, a tragedy in which two wrongs fail to make a right, a work of unflinching honesty but also of great subtlety and dignity. Best of all, it serves generous helpings of 2003's best acting. Highly recommended

I'm happy to report I've resumed stick-shift driving lessons, and that I felt the right reflexes kick in immediately the second my foot touched the clutch! See, knowledge and skill sometimes 'incubate' and 'marinate' in your brain. I know it's that way with languages... Great, sounds like my Iceland gamble is going to pay off!

Another great movie I rented was 1978's "Soldier Of Orange," a gripping epic of six young Dutch college students whose guts, wits, and loyalties are tested by the 1940-45 Nazi occupation and the Dutch resistance. Five stars all around for edge-of-your-seat pacing, revelatory acting, precise period recreation, and a European honesty about human character, behavior, and sexuality. Another "must see rental...." Its director, Paul Verhoeven, made one more great Dutch film, "The Fourth Man", before selling out his substantial talent to Hollywood and producing "Robocop," "Basic Instinct," and the infamous "Showgirls."

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Saturday, April 24, 2004

And Heeeerrrrreeee's...... Dad!

I finally managed to upload a picture of my Dad, whose birthday was yesterday, and who would have been very happy to see my sister Deena graduate Lamson College with honors on his birthday! I could write a book about Dad, who was a teacher, social worker, activist, ane free spirit in a category all by himself. This picture is with my Mom and my first boyfriend, Andres Paredes, in 1990, at a family gathering in Chinatown. Sadly, that would be my Dad's last summer, as he passed on early the next year, on February 25, 1991, just two months shy of his 55th birthday... My family, btw, have been wonderful with my boyfriends, always treating them like family, which meant a lot to Andres, whose family was 5,500 miles away and not very accepting or supportive.

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My Sister, The Graduate!

Congrats, Deena! 2,500 miles away, in a graduation ceremony in the Phoenix Area, a diploma with honors was bestowed last night upon my sister Deena! The program trained her as a medical billing specialist, and now, diploma in hand, I'm sure she will rise through the ranks to her level of natural Holsberg brilliance. Too bad my Dad couldn't be here to see this. Also, too bad that Geocities is mal-functioning today, because I wanted to post some great pictures of Deena, but no picture will load, so I'm stuck with this old stand-by from 1969:

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Friday, April 23, 2004

Aaron's office, April 5, 2004 - April 23, 2004, R.I.P. (return to cubicle life - sigh)

Happy Birthday, Dad...

My Dad would have been 68 today.. I'll dig up and scan a picture this weekend, for the moment, my 'stand-in' is that great socialist and humanitarian, President Inacio Luis Santos da Silva (aka Lula) of Brazil, who always reminds me of Dad for some reason...

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Where The Sun Don't Shine...

... And Where It Do.... I've wasted more time than you want to know trying to install as my PC wallpaper and screensaver this "world clock" that shows where night and day are falling on the globe, in real time... I sort of fell in love with the concept on my long, long, long (long) international flights.... I think it's pretty. You can see this phenomenon for free, to your own specifications, on several sites, which I will post later. My frugality will force me to pass on the $1,500 high-tech home real time clock you hang on the wall (a main cabin in your own home?). And now, I've gotta shake my tail feather (i.e., get moving). Happy Friday. Galería can't be too far away... : - )

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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Oops... Which Way Is China? : - )

Good thing I talked to Christi...
I mentioned Tuesday that my 7900-mile cross-country trip was longer than driving through a hole dug to China. Talking to Christi about diameters and such, it became apparent that my tunnel would end on the Indian Ocean floor, drowning me and floating my clueless cadaver right back to New York....

So how far can you get away from New York? About 12,400 miles, that's how far. This is roughly half the earth's circumference, and travelling to this point should land you in the Indian Ocean, 800 miles Southwest of Perth, a city on Australia's west coast. Perth (see picture) is as far as you can fly from New York without leaving the planet, and on Quantas it takes 22-23 hours, via Sydney, not including the layover. The Perth area is known as Australia's "Sunset Coast," click here for pictures.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Mid-week Frolic with Modern Millie

Dust off a forgotten and poorly-timed movie and you can have rousing good time on stage....
Last night I saw "Thoroughly Modern Millie" with my pal Christi, who's a free woman (relieved of parental duties) in New York (at her parents townhouse) for two weeks, and we were both thoroughly entertained by this wry but warm-hearted art-deco blue and purple roaring 20s love story. The public and critics love theater "Millie" much more than its source, the 1967 film comedy, which felt dated and out of place in the Summer Of Love.

That film starred Julie Andrews as the Kansas girl trying to make good in NY, Mary Tyler Moore as a poor orphan, Carol Channing as a singer/socialite/millionairess, and Beatrice Lillie running a white slavery ring disguised as a kindly hotelkeeper. On stage Dixie Carter of "Designing Woman" is venomously hilarious as the slavery entrepreneuse, a faux-dragon lady alternately faking a sweet ridiculous pre-P.C. accent and reverting to the nasty failed American chorus girl-cum-criminal she is. This "Millie" replaces the film's offensive Chinese stereotype henchmen brilliantly with three-dimensional immigrants from Hong Kong whose witty dialogue and musical numbers are presented in Chinese and translated via electronic supra-titles (subtitles above the action). But this is only 1/4 of the plot, which captures the charm and excitement of the 1920s, when, like today, people felt technology racing forward every day, transforming every aspect of their lives. All in all, well worth sleeping only 6 1/2 hours last night. Hope you get to see it sometime. Enjoy these pictures:

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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Just realized that when I drove 7,900 miles last summer, winding a path through America, that drive was longer than the diameter of the Earth, which is a mere 7, 814 miles! This means that if I could dig a hole to China, pave it, and drive to other end, that would be 86 miles less distance than I drove last August!

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My Next Stop…

Black and White Memories… As one of the first TV shows to ever make me think, “The Twilight Zone” made a huge impression on my growing young brain. It’s aged well, too, due to its brilliant writing, acting, and direction. I am really enjoying the 8-DVD set of restored “Twilight Zone” episodes that I bought myself on a whim and received yesterday. The first one I watched, about an old lady hiding from death, features an extremely young (and hot) Robert Redford before he was famous. You may also like to know that the episodes are 25 minutes long without commercials, and that the series was known in Latin America as “The Unknown Zone” or “La Zona Desconocida"…..

p.s. On Sunday my blog passed the three-month mark! Later, I'll tell you about the other blogging Holsberg...

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Monday, April 19, 2004

There's a lot to see in upstate New York! Yesterday we saw Sunnyside, Washington Irving's early 19th century home/farm, and also Lyndhurst, the bottom two attractions on this map: There are dozens of mansions and historic homes all along the Hudson Valley, as you can see:

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From real-life resumés:
"The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous employers."
"Education: Curses in liberal arts, curses in computer science, curses in accounting."
"Reason for leaving last job: Maturity leave."
"Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store."

Palestine: the Quiz Show! I'm not kidding! Who said militant Palestinians had no sense of humor?

A Taste Of Summer...

What a great weekend! New York was like early summer for two days, as temperatures rose to 80-85F (26-28C), sleeves got shorter and souls, lighter. Flowering trees were everywhere, especially the odd fruitless Callery pear trees that line many Manhattan streets.

It was a full weekend, with theater on Friday, a day in the country Sunday, and the momentous switchover to a much faster computer. Details to follow...

I rented the 1991 movie "Tito and Me" through Netflix, and was very entertained. Set in 1950s Yugloslavia, it's about a chubby little boy who lives with a bickering, dysfunctional extended family in a cramped apartment, and who idolizes Tito. By writing a prize-winning poem, he gets to join a group of youngsters on a hike to Tito's homeland in Croatia, and has a lot of difficulties. With a playful and brassy jazz soundtrack, "Tito" nonetheless captures the period beautifully, interspersing real footage, with much humorous effect. Note that this was the last movie made in Yugoslavia before that country crumbled and its citizens became warring factions. Especially ironic is the Belgrade kids singing a hymn to their 'brother city' Zagreb, now capital of Croatia. For Tito, the master of Serb-led Yugoslavia, was a Croat, and tolerated no tribalism - 'we are all communists and Yugoslavs, etc....' Tito ruled with the same 'cult of personality' as his Stalinist peers. You could even call his reign "Stalin lite" : - )

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Sunday, April 18, 2004

Rocketing Into The Future!

I love my new computer! This should save me 1/2 hour a day (which is a lot on a work day) by not crashing, freezing, etc. It's so much faster, I'm still in shock and awe.. : - )

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Saturday, April 17, 2004

A Long Time Ago, In A Galería
Far, Far Away....

What a beautiful spring day! I'm outside most of today, and tomorrow - a date with a rental car.... Here's my weekly ‘roundup’ of wonderful photos taken from some of my favorite photoblogs. I've added a new feature to Galería this week: Click on any of these photos to see a larger version, then click the back button to return to the page

The artists are: Pixpopuli, Mused Pixelflake, TopLeftPixel, Myopic, ExitWound, InConduit, and Chromogenic. All of these are consistently great.

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Friday, April 16, 2004

The Virgin Mary's Retirement Home

Far From Florida...
... on Turkey's Western Coast, facing Greece, Jesus's Mom lived out her final days in a little stone house. After Jesus was crucified, John the Apostle quickly got Mary out of Palestine for her own safety, settling her in a quiet little spot about 80 miles from Ephesus, which was the largest Roman city in the Eastern Mediterrean (and the best preserved). Erik and I visited Ephesus, and Mary's cottage, during our April 2002 Turkey vacation.

Silly Aaron...... tried to imitate the pilgrims that tear their clothing and tie it to the Virgin Mary's fence. Unwiling to tear my clothes, I removed my left sock and tied that instead. The result was both a smelly fence and a very very cold left foot marching around Turkey's 40F April. Happy Friday, everyone!

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