Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Marlina's Gift

Marlina is the 10 year old Indonesian child I sponsor through Christian Children's Fund. I've been a CCF sponsor for over 15 years now, and am usually assigned a new child every two years. This is a bookmark Marlina made for me - very sweet of her. CCF not only provides school materials for Marlina, but tries to develop her village by improving education and health and promoting its economy (crafts?). I don't think I've ever actually written one of my beneficiary children - unlike Jack Nicholson's character in About Schmidt (Dear Ndugu..), I'm a rather passive sponsor. But I think I will definitely write her and thank her for this gift.

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Monday, November 29, 2004

Shooting Across

My delayed flight from Arizona touched down just past midnight after shooting across the continent in an impressive 3 1/2 hours, boosted by unusually high (180mph) tail winds. I crawled into bed at around 1:30am, and feel quite sleep-deprived at the moment. Just found out my Miami trip is postponed, and as much as I was looking forward to it, a restful weekend at home doesn't sound too bad ahead of next week's grueling mid-week hop to London to meet with my bosses.

At left: the Saguaro cactus (pronounced sah-WAH-row), symbol of the American southwest desert to anyone raised on TV cartoons. : - ) Did you know most Arizonans never see their state flower, the saguaro blossom, a tiny blub that appears at the top of these 15-20 foot monsters once a year, and can only be seen from an aerial standpoing. Cartoon follows:

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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Truth Booth?

Last month in Park Slope, Brooklyn, while seeing Sondre Lerche at Southpaw (see Oct 20 post), I ventured into an apparently malfunctioning ye olde fashioned photo booth. Printed in smudged ink, with a poor focus, the four snapshots did manage to capture some spontaneity and playfulness. The hand in the third frame belongs to Kelly AuCoin, Brian's brother-in-law, who lives in Park Slope with Carolyn, Brian's sister. Carolyn, a longtime modern dancer, just began studying liminology, the freshwater equivalent of oceanography.

So today I wrap up three days with my family in Arizona. I arrive in Newark at a quarter to ten. Cabs to Newark are, excuse the expression, highway robbery - it comes to $65 when you add in two-way tolls and the tip. I've got to re-discover the airport bus when time is not of the absolute essence. The de-yuppification of Aaron S. Holsberg. : - )

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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Check out Thomas' wonderful pictures of London architecture, taken during a recent three-week business trip! Not much to report here - I'm back in NY late tomorrow night.

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Mother Paraguay And Her Children

Hi again. Still in Arizona. Andres, my first boyfriend, recently returned to his native Paraguay for his younger sister Nancy's wedding (picture below), and took some great pictures. Andres, who has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina since age 10 and is now an Argentine citizen, was born in Encarnacion, Paraguay, on the Argentine border. Back in the 1960s Encarnacion was still without electricity - landlocked and isolated Paraguay is an impoverished, agricultural region several decades behind Argentina or Brazil. Paraguay is about the size and population of New Mexico, much smaller than its neighbors. Andres' mother supported her family by tilling the soil, and there were nights that the family went to bed with empty stomachs. The woman pictured above is a close friend of Andres' mother, who died several years ago in Buenos Aires. Andres' mother, despite her sad and difficult life, was extremely amused to see me run away scared from a little bee. In Paraguay, she had kept bees. She was laughing about this for several weeks afterward, and I am happy to this day for bringing some joy into her life. : - )

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Friday, November 26, 2004

hey again. friday morning here in sunny arizona. i'm still very groggy. i slept on and off last nite probably 10 hours. this morning, i'm going to a local gym before meeting my sister. i'm also going to search for a good starbucks : - )

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Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm off to visit my family in Arizona... I'll write more from out there.
Best, Aaron

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving. Very underslept and groggy today. Enjoy these cartoons:

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No Ruder Pest

Budapest. Budapest! My employer moved our tech help desk to Budapest (photo left). No more quick consultations. I must phone Budapest and they contact someone in my building to help - this adds about 2 hours to the process and much is lost in translation. The Budapestian is invariably technically clueless but insufferable perky.. : - )

More misanthropy. Yesterday, I was thrown from the D train and hurled onto the platform, where I landed on my butt. Gentleman wasn't pleased that I tried to enter the car with his baby carriage blocking most of the entrance. OK, should have seen that, but his subsequent non-verbal response seemed nonetheless a tad overdone. I stayed reasonably calm, responded with an well-deserved expletive, to which he made threatening facial gestures, at which point I opted for a door about three cars away...


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Monday, November 22, 2004

Wide Blue Yawn-Der

Good morning. The yawning ostrich pictured left is taken from a website of yawning animal pictures.

What won't they think of next, I ask you...

Lots of great new music. U2's new album is instantly likeable, melodic and energetic - while not at all adventurous, it's a very pleasant listen. Email me if you'd like a copy...

Finished "Key Largo" on DVD, very different from what I expected from the stupid 1980 pop song. It's a gripping crime thriller rather than a romance. Full report to come.

Next several weekends I'm away - Thanksgiving with my family in Arizona, the Dec 3-5th weekend in Miami mixing business and pleasure, and the Dec 10-12 weekend in London, more business and pleasure but in a darker, greyer environment...


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Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Man Who Opened It Up

It's Saturday night (Nov 20), and I just saw Kinsey, that makes two awesome movies in as many nights. What an intelligent, well-written, well-acted, and well-directed treatment of a compelling topic. Liam Neeson and Laura Linney (below left), as Alfred Kinsey and his wife, give riveting and complex performances that span decades convincingly. The age spots and wrinkles only made me love these two characters more. I love older and average looking faces on screen - they're so expressive and deep. Not that I am immune to the charms of the beautiful Peter Saarsgard, who radiates quiet intensity as Kinsey's assistant (and briefly lover) Clyde Martin. Top far left, the real Kinsey with collaborators Martin and Wardell Pomeroy, from a photo tour on the Kinsey Institute's excellent website.

Many today don't realize the total silence about sexuality that reigned in the US just 60 years ago, with the turmoil, insecurity, and isolation that implied for countless millions. Luckily I had progressive parents - Kinsey's two tomes (above right) rested prominently on our bookshelves. While they were too scientific, clinical, and imposing for 10-year old Aaron to read, their presence nonetheless were emblematic to me of enlightenment dawning.Alas, my early teenage consciousness couldn't make the connection between that enlightened attitude and the powerful and confusing feelings churning inside me about other boys. Nor did the annual TV report on the fledgling gay parade, with its exotic drag queens, make much of a connection. I know it's a cliché, but what a difference for the current generation to have role models.

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Saturday, November 20, 2004

Almond Dove Bar

That's what a certain ex-boyfriend's boyfriend calls the greatest filmmaker in Europe, perhaps the world, Pedro Almodóvar. Last night the maestro's latest, "Bad Education," opened commercially in New York, after a much-celebrated NY Film Festival appearance in September. This gem of a movie is a multi-layered story of frustrated love, child-abusing priests, avenging drag queens, and the vagaries of madrileño film-making. Mexican heartthrob Gael García Bernal (pictured left) is a revelation, if you will excuse that cliché, as both the aspiring actor who surfaces with an explosive script, and as that script's avenging heroine. I won't tell you more - just see it, ferchrissake.

Andres saw this two weeks ago in Argentina and, oddly, didn't like it as much, missing Almodóvar's stable of fiery actresses, though, for me, Bernal provides the feminine fire, and then some.

Before and after my South American trip, I watched the DVD of Bernal's earlier triumph in "Y Tu Mama Tambien (And Your Mother Too)," as the poorer of the two horny teen protagonists (pictured left). This movie is also essential viewing, for its incisive take on male teen sexuality, capturing the insecurity, jealousy, and even sexual ambigiuity underneath the bravado and banter. All this is framed by a grainy, realist travelogue through the racial and cultural contrasts of Mexico's landscape, and punctuated by forward- and backward-looking narrative breaks reminiscent of the French film "Amelie."

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Friday, November 19, 2004

Calcination Sensation

Proud to inform you that this morning I produced some museum-quality work : - ) My breakfast soy sausages actually require 1 1/2 minutes of microwaving, not 6 minutes like my lean cuisine dinners... : - ) My apartment now smells like the silver medal in the Olympic Incineration Competition. Not bad for 15 minutes awake, huh?

Check out Museum Of Burnt Food on-line, it's a hoot. At left: a free-standing hot apple cinder, circa-1989. Oh shoot, I should go photograph the cinders, for posting tomorrow. Done! The things I think of when I'm an hour late for work....

But I was kind of sick last night, it made sense to sleep it off, I'm feeling better today for my first weekend home since Halloween. Tonight, I'm seeing Bad Education (Mala Educación), the new Pedro Almodovar movie, with my friend Day. I'll be writing more later, stay tuned...

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

I'm too busy to post (sad, but true), and I have a throbbing eye headache. But here's two cartoons:

th th th th th that's all folks

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Chocolates In My Pockets

Work is raining on me from all sides, a literal mud slide. I'm having a Lucy-at-the-chocolate-factory kind of day (picture right).

Bang Bang: In Brazil we were actually driven around in cars with bulletproof windows, which were also un-openable. I think they're really exaggerating with the security. I do not consider Sao Paulo any more dangerous than NY was in the 1970s, maybe even less so. Equally idiotic: having investors driven from the bank to the hotel, three blocks away, requires cars to take a hour-long detour through bumper-to-bumper traffic! When I insisted on getting out and walking, the driver, a security man, initially refused. Our comprise was that he parked the car and personally walked me to the hotel. It felt like wearing a spacesuit to the beach...


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Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Yuck! Got home at 7am, happy but bleary-eyed, and noticed the rotting Halloween pumpkin on my kitchen table. In a moment of classic Aaron slapstick, I picked up the pumpkin by its handle as I went to throw it out. Imagine my vexation when its bottom half came loose and crash-landed all over my large pink Turkish rug. My curdled scream would have been more appropriate to, say, a shattered Ming vase or a chihuahua falling out of my tenth-story window....

My Mountian Of Mail included timely post-election-blues-themed issues of New York and Time Out (the latter addressed to Theodore HV Bear, btw). While New York offered five thought pieces on "How To Survive Four More Years," Time Out out-timed them with "We Shall Overcome: 43 Ways To Beat The Post-Election Blues." Will have to peruse thoroughly. Notice the smart movie quotient has risen... Awards season approacheth...

So now I must gather myself together and sally forth to work. Be it ever so humble....

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Monday, November 15, 2004

Phallic Playdough :-)

Almost home! Had a lovely weekend with Andres, today, just a few meetings and the 9pm flight, which lands me at JFK tomorrow at 6am.

Last night we saw the most ridiculous show, the Argentine version of "Puppetry Of The Penis," in which two actors literally spend an hour molding their members and scroti into animals, flowers, household objects, and famous buildings! Proximity and good views were ensured by the small theatre size and an overhead video screen (and also the generous proportions of the actor on the right). I won't further describe the equipment except to confirm that neither of the two look Jewish... Ample audience participation only heightened the silliness. If this show has any brilliance, it lies perhaps in completely de-eroticizing male genitalia and thus making for a risqué but ultimately non-threatening family outing...

Happily, the tickets only cost $10.

Earlier, we went to a great exposition in a huge public space in the charming Palermo neighborhood called "Buenos Aires Thinks 2004," a bit of a science fair on nutrition, digestion, and many other topics. The highlight was a multimedia exhibit called "Buenos Aires 2050," the result of citizens that dared to envision the future even as their country's economy crumbled.

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Sunday, November 14, 2004

Argy Bargy

Hi again from Buenos Aires. Just woke up, it's 11am. The clouds and rain surfaced about 5 minutes after I typed the words 'it's very sunny here.' :-)

My hotel's in Puerto Madero, the big, beautiful riverfront area that Buenos Aires reclaimed and developed during its 1991-1994 'boom,' see picture left. Money well spent in a city which 'grew up with it's back to the river.' This Hilton is lovely, with a huge atrium inner court with all the floors facing it from all sides and glass elevators sliding up and down the nine floors. Facing water on both sides, it's all quite pleasant.

Last night I saw a great play with Andres, Breath Of Life, a translation of a David Hare play.
David Hare's play unfolds in a single set with only two characters, about a confrontation between a woman who's husband has left her and the mistress her husband had for 25 years, who he has also abandoned. excellent acting and dialogue. problem is, i misunderstood one word that threw me off for half the play. In the beginning the wife walks into the backyard of the mistress and says 'madeleine'. but i heard 'madre', so i thought it was a mother and daugther confrontation over the same man. this seemed believable since the mistress looked older. But as the play went on, the emotions and timeline didn't seem to match the mother'daughter, and i finally realized she was saying 'madeleine' instead of mother. I hope you found that interesting. I understand the British stage version featured Maggie Smith and Judi Dench (pictured above).

enough rambling, i'm off to have some breakfast and go meet Andres. wow, i'm back in New York tuesday morning...

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

Mi Buenos Aires Querido....

Greetings from Buenos Aires. What a beautiful spring day! Very happy to see Andres. computer center closes in 5 minutes. more tomorrow.

Love Aaron

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Friday, November 12, 2004

Sugar In My Bowl

Suddenly, free time. Got up at 6:45am for a helicopter ride to a sugar cane plantation (picture left) and refinery in the interior of Sao Paulo state. But a broken propeller grounded that project, and after a brief meeting, went back to the hotel. Finally, very very sunny weather and a delicious 70F with a breeze. Last night, we went to a Japanese restaurant (there are 1 million Japanese-Brazilians, mostly in Sao Paulo) and got drunk on sake served in little cubes so it was impossible not to spill the sake, even for those more coordinated than me. Tonight I'm flying, real late, to Buenos Aires, where I'm spending the weekend. I can't wait to see Andres, who was my boyfriend from 1988-1993 and remains a close friend. Will also have coffee with my friend Celia. Well, that's about all for now. I miss my friends, but it's lovely here, I'm in good company, and it's great to put some distance (about 5,000 miles) between me and the post-election depressing aftermath. Happy Friday. Love, Aaron

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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Take Me Out

Great day, very enjoyable and successful trip, though exhausting. About to collapse. Today, Brasilia, that white-elephantine retro-futuristic vision run amok that serves as Brazil's capital. I was falling asleep during an actually exciting meeting with Brazil's equivalent of Federal Reserve governors. Lunch was lovely, at a bamboo and grass-hut open-air pavillion that served the cuisine of Bahia, family style. Bahia is famous for seafood cooked in spices, fried in dendê oil or coconut milk, and then made into casseroles like the moqueca pictured left. We actually drank some delicious Brazilian cocktails, too, 'batida de marecuja', or passion fruit shake with cachaça rum. It's great, but tonight bedtime at 8pm and no dinner, to remedy sleep underages (5 hrs 2 nights in a row) and calorie overages (avg 3000 a day vs my usual 2000-2100). AOL is working sporadically. I feel cut off, and I miss smoothies. Looking forward to coming home on Tuesday.

Best of all, I am being very forward about being gay down here, for once, and it feels great. People are mostly fine about it. It's such a different experience when you can be yourself and share your life with people you know professionally. What took me so long?

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Tuesday, November 09, 2004

hey there. arrived in Sao Paulo at 8am. rose at the ungodly hour of 4:30am to accomplish this. we have 8 back-to-back meetings, each of which is an hour-long presentation. my brain is engaged, but my eyelids keep sinking. oh dear. more coffee, which is like rocket fuel here. the gentleman to the left? as any Brazilian can tell you, this is Alberto Santos Dumont, who invented the airplane. Or was it the Wright Brothers. This depends on how you define 'first flight' as they each 'took off' simultaneously. Why did I think of this? Because I flew out of Santos Dumont airport in Rio, their LaGuardia. Finally, Santos Dumont's house here is full of his inventions, including an entire floor designed for left-handed people.

Later - Aaron

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Monday, November 08, 2004

must rise at 4:30am tomorrow to catch 7am flight to Sao Paolo. And at 5am the next day to catch 7am flight to Brasilia. oh well, you can't have glamour and beauty sleep. Just got back from a marathon meal at Os Antiquarios, a Portuguese restaurant. too many hors d'oeuvres, now i'm hors service : - )

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Finally! this luxury hotel in Rio had no internet for two days. hopefully Sao Paulo will be better. Rio is very very rainy - I feel bad for those investors who've never seen it before, visibility in this scenic paradise is close to zero. As for me, I'm doing great - this is going to be a huge success, I'm on a roll again...

Last night we ate at Porcão, or Big Pig, an all-you-can-eat meat festival where the waiters keep coming by with skewers of different meats until you cry 'uncle' by flipping your green coaster on its red side, and thus signaling 'Stop.' With panoramic windows right on breathtaking Guanabara Bay, which was all but invisible in the dark and the rain. At left, a local artist's rendition of our predicament. : - )

Can't access my cartoon library from here, alas. More later. Love Aaron

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Saturday, November 06, 2004

Correction: A few days back I gave you the spirit, but not the exact text, of my Dad's lovely tombstone inscription. As Mom reminded me, it actually reads:

"In teaching us to seize each day, he will always be
a part of our lives." This is me & Dad, in 1963:

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1 State, 2 State, Red State, Blue State...

red vs blue, 1860 style:

As divisive elections go, you have to admit that 1860 kind of leaves 2004 in the dust... : - )

Interesting trivia: John Adams ran for President 4 times and lost 3 times, twice to George Washington (I bet you thought he ran unopposed!) and once to Thomas Jefferson. In several early elections, all 3 or 4 candidates were from the same party, and the House of Representatives decided more based on personality than platform..

Such as 1824, when the candidates were John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, William Crawford and Henry Clay. Jackson led Adams 43%-30% in the popular vote and 99-84 in the electoral, but back then, the constitution said that if nobody had more than 50% of the electoral votes, the House of Representatives voted among the top three candidates. That's how John Quincy Adams got in - he lost, four years later, to Andrew Jackson. Henry Clay, considered among America's 5 greatest Senators, is remembered for saying "I'd rather be right than President."

Fascinating historical electoral maps and background are to be found at this site.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

Fields In Glass For Everyone...

Well, by now, most of you have my post-election Chillout CD and own the lovely piece of sweet psychedelia referred to in the title. If you don't, e-mail me and I'll send it to you.

It's Friday. Tomorrow night I leave on a 10-day business trip to Brazil and Argentina. I will continue to post to this blog almost every day while I'm away. Next week in Brazil, I'll be taking a group of US investors to meet a series of Brazilian companies as investment opportunities. This will take me to Rio, Sao Paulo, and to the retro-futuristic vision that is Brasilia, the nation's capital. Then, next Friday night, I travel a few hours' south for a weekend of downtime in Buenos Aires, where I lived in 1988-89, and to spend some time with my first boyfriend, Andres, who I'm very close to. On Monday night, after a day of meetings in Argentina, homeward ho!

French Fri Day later today / Vendredi Français ça viendra l'apres-midi

Good article on my favorite gay pop group, Scissor Sisters, in Amplifier magazine.

Cartoons du Jour:

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Quote of the Week:
"We campaign in poetry, but we must govern in prose" - Mario Cuomo

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From "The Onion," which is really good this week, with titles such as
"$14.5 Billion Pledged To Rebuild Battleground States" : - )

Here's an appetizer for what awaits you there:

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Do As I Say, Not....

It's 2am and I can't sleep. I hate that. Worked up too much adrenaline housekeeping, then made the assinine decision to read election analysis about how we're a 'center-right country' where voters care about 'moral values' and prefer the certainties of faith to the (much more honest) ambiguities and nuances of secular humanism. Ugh, ugh. Also, someone I care about is living the Book of Job, trapped in morale hell, and I can't do much to change that... So much for my uplifting daily blog post.

OK, here goes:
My two all-time favorite tombstone inscriptions (not counting Dad's)

1. "I told you I was sick."
2. "I knew this would happen."

and of course, my Dad's beautiful epitaph:

"Because he taught us to seize the day,
He will always live in our hearts."

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

If you need a big laugh, check out The Onion's Election Edition : - ) Cheered me up.

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Feels Like I'm Staring At The Sun

Oh boy, time to chill. I just woke up, way late, wistful, doubtful, but sure of my values, sure of the community, the love I feel all over Blue State Nation. Time to chill, time to focus on our lives, our friends and families, on the things we love. I truly believe, deep down, that history does move forward, if not in a straight line. This is a bump on the road, but we will live to see a better, kinder America - we will help bring it, we will be part of it. Know that.

With much love, Aaron

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Smile Smile Vote Smile

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