Thursday, March 31, 2005

Happy Birthday, Thomas!

Faster than a speeding shutter! More powerful than inertia and conformity! Able to endure 30 hour bus rides in a single bound! Look, up in the Rio sky.... It's a bird, it's a plane... it's Super-Thomas! : - ) Thomas is out there somewhere, making Sao Paolo a more fun and interesting place. Happy birthday to you, whereever you are....

And, Thomas' favorite New Yorker cartoonist.....

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

See Thomas hang-glide in Rio!!!

Yes, It's This Saturday

Saving the Daylight: We spring forward in the wee hours of this coming Sunday., losing an hour's sleep and gaining an hour of (hopefully) post-work sunlight. Today, the sun sets at 6:17pm, there is clear light until 6:45pm (civil twilight), and there is some visibility until 7:17pm (nautical twilight). On Sunday evening, suddenly, it will seem like daytime at 7pm. That's a good feeling. Click here for more about sunsets and twilights.

How Will I Know, Whitney Houston once asked. The answer: Spring forward the first Sunday in April, fall back the last Sunday in October. That's April 3 and October 30, this year. Yes, it's longer than it used to be. Note as well that Halloween's on a Monday.

How Did This Happen? Click here to read all about it...

Quote Of The Day:
"Just because I diapered my daughter for three years, doesn't mean I want her to return the favor." - Gersh Kuntzman, the Newsweek columnist, in the
humorous 'living will' he published this week.

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

That Unstable Alloy

Well, last night Brian was lucky enough to see - and thoroughly enjoy - an advance screening of Palindromes, the new Todd Solondz new movie, to be released April 13. Solondz is fearless in his choice of subject matter - here, a 12 year old that wants to get pregnant (and is played by 8 different actresses). Solondz is the auteur of two bona fide masterpieces - "Welcome to the Dollhouse" about the agony that is junior high school, and "Happiness" about family dysfunction, dates from hell, and pedophilia. Solondz' genius is his unflinching look at our contradictions, hypocrisy, and distorted perspectives. One reviewer said he show how people are "an unstable alloy of insight and obtuseness, of tenderness and cruelty."

Check out Thomas' Sao Paulo "helipads" and Peter's court architecture.

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Monday, March 28, 2005

What Is A Whirling Dervish?

In case you were wondering, click here. I don't know how that expression popped into my head.

I also had occasion to look up "hagiographic," when my friend David used the term to describe "The Motorcycle Diaries," which is about Ernesto "Che" Guevara's long motorcycle journey through Latin America as a med student. My first look-up attempt produced the unhelpful 'of or pertaining to hagiography,' and a second attempt defined it as 'biography of a saint,' which gave me a good idea what David was trying to say about how the movie pictured Guevara. My third and last shot, www.answers.com,, came up with the much better "a worshipful or idealizing biography."

Speaking of Guevara, two interesting facts: 1) He was called "che" because his Cuban fellow revoluationaries were making fun of how he and other Argentines talk. Argentines of that era interjected "che" into sentences much as we intersperse "like" or "man" or "yaknow." 2) One of Argentina's military rulers from the 60s and 70s made it illegal to name a child "Ernesto," solely because of Guevara. I think this has been repealed.

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Happy Birthday, Celia!

And Happy Easter To All...!

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

And, 23 episodes of Carnivale later... check out Sao Paulo photos from Thomas of the area where I usually stay, Peter Hujar exhibit I saw with my friend Peter. I'll write more this afternoon, perhaps... for now, a cartoon...

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Friday, March 25, 2005

The Landlocked and the Double Landlocked

In case you were wondering where it was. So poor they couldn't afford a 'stan' - this ex-Soviet Republic was initially known as Kyrgyzia. Kyrgyzstan is landlocked, but not 'double landlocked.' To be 'double landlocked' is to be not only landlocked, but also surrounded by other landlocked countries, so that, to reach open sea, you have to go through at least two countries, in any direction. Only one nation on earth has this distinction: Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan, on the other hand, has the distinction of being the world's largest landlocked country, at 1 million square miles - roughly the size of India, or Argentina, or the U.S. east of the Mississippi. That's it for today's Geography Lesson. Here's a cartoon:

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Thursday, March 24, 2005

Build Me A Bridge

Bleary-eyed from work and mainlining "Carnivale," I soldier on in quietude... There's a kind of hush all over the office as Holy Week kicks in throughout the Latin World. (Soaking up atmosphere in the splendor of Rio de Janeiro, Thomas shows us some uniquely Brazilian fast-food and soft drinks. Peter shows us a panoply of rock star kids.)

They get a four-day weekend. Policy here, at least today, is cloaked in ambiguity - bond markets are closed today, but it's not a bank holiday. Today I work - tomorrow, we shall see....


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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

It's Always Something...

Hey there. I'm feeling steadily better. Haven't done much besides work and watch Carnivale, which continues to fascinate me. That show's talented ensemble includes (pictured left) Nick Stahl, the ill-fated son from 'In The Bedroom,' and Adrienne Barbeau, who 30 years ago played Bea Arthur's daughter on 'Maude' on TV. Speaking of TV 30 years ago, my compliance (ethics) officer here at ABN is a cousin of Roseanne Scarmardella, the 70s NY local TV news reporter that inspired Gilda Radner's "Roseanne Roseannadanna" character.

I leave you with cartoons...

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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Stronger Every Day?

Like the calvary charging over the hill to rescue the beseiged outpost, two Augmentin tablets per day are hard at work fighting the unrelenting ear & throat bug that's been with me for 11 days. This morning I feel cautious optimism - could the cloud finally be lifting?

I'm enthralled by Carnivale, HBO's edgy, riveting series about carnival folk traveling the Dust Bowl during the depression, a simmering epic about good and evil. Imagine the quirks and storytelling structure of Twin Peaks, minus the humor, the cast of Freaks, the setting of Grapes of Wrath, and perhaps the epic struggle and central conflict of Lord Of The Rings... You'll hear more from me on this topic, as I devour Season 1 on DVD.

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Monday, March 21, 2005

Selamat Pagi

That's good morning in Indonesian, though I'm not feeling terribly perky. I'm still sick, glands a-swollen, ears a-plugged, and throat a-scratchy.. I've 'paid my dues' with 10 hours sleep a night for the past week, Tylenol cold, indolence, and menthol candies. To no avail. This thing will end when it feels like it.. How's that for perky? : - )

This is Indonesia's first family. Even I'm a giant in Indonesia, where the average male height seems to be 5'0"... Swarms of people, mostly men, mostly smoking kreteks - clove cigarettes...

My first Indonesian trip was to visit Sampoerna, which makes "Dji Sam Soe", the Chivas Regal of clove cigarettes, out near Surabaya in eastern Java, to a hangar where thousands of uniformed women hand-rolled the crackling little sticks...

Indonesians buy their ciagrettes one stick at a time, so every man (mostly men smoke) can buy one luxury cigarette per day... Anyway, Sampoerna was just bought up by Altria, aka Philip Morris... And here's a pack of Dji Sam Soe (left)..


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Sunday, March 20, 2005

spent the day recovering, watch DVDs of Carnivale and other drama....

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Saturday, March 19, 2005


ah, sweet white port wine. inebriation. five hours of love. poured into my spring mix cds. i did hit some galleries. 11 hours sleep. I slowly recover.

"ooga ooga ooga chucka" - Blue Swede, 1974

At left, my role model and his wife. Not!

check out Thomas' final Buenos Aires photos. he's in Sao Paolo now, and I may just see him sooner than I expected....

I have a date tomorrow afternoon, to which I am most looking forward

here's a Cartoon:

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Friday, March 18, 2005

From a recent issue of The Onion, my favorite feature, “What Do YOU Think?

Question The FDA is currently deciding whether to restrict the use of COX-2 inhibitors, the widely used class of pain drugs which includes Vioxx. What do you think?”

Answer 1: "Jesus, a couple people's hearts explode, and everyone goes nuts."
Answer 2 "I hope the invisible hand of capitalism is trained in CPR."
Answer 3: "I wondered why that Celebrex TV ad showed an old guy in the middle of a sun-drenched wheat field having a heart attack."
Answer 4: "I'm confused. How did they separate the effects of Vioxx from the other 1,372 things that give Americans heart attacks?"
Answer 5: "Hey, what about all the horrible side effects these drugs don't cause?"
Answer 6: "They're gonna ban COX-2 inhibitors? But that's my third-favorite class of painkillers."

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Thursday, March 17, 2005

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Joy to the (green) world!
Slowly recovering here...
12 hours of sleep helped...

Aaron go bragh...


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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

My Next Stop...

Still sick, with voice mostly gone. Must work anyway, but I did see the doctor yesterday. My doctor, Laura Fisher, is a real gem and a lovely person. Thomas arrives in Sao Paulo this morning, after a 32-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires. Note also that my friend Peter is now regularly posting to his interesting blog. Finally, Garth is buried in New Mexican snow, just 48 hours after short-sleeve weather.

So I crawled into bed last night at 8pm and watched some DVD, including two very good Twilight Zone episodes. I still love these. Beautifully acted, directed, and scripted, capturing the early 60s (my earliest memories) in stark black-and-white images. Also, haunting orchestral background music, predating the synthesizer age.

Last night's episodes were "The Four Of Us Are Dying," about a man who can change his face at will, and "Two," about an American man and a Russian woman who are the sole survivors of a nuclear war, meeting years afterward. A then-unknown Elizabeth Montgomery played the Russian woman.


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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Elephant In The Room

I'm a tad ill today, but working nonetheless. Last night, Thomas left Buenos Aires for a 32-hour bus ride to Sao Paulo. That's one long-ass bus ride : - ) Check out Peter's great photos of the Ashes and Snow Exhibit we saw Saturday and the temporary Nomad Museum that houses it.

Want to strike back at minor annoyances? Great ideas in a NYT article today.

I saw Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" over the weekend, and thought it was just OK. This 80-minute film is an artsy, non-commital take on the Columbine High School shootings, and it follows several students in their daily roamings through and around the school. The film's second half shows two unassuming kids, influenced by nazi icons and imagery, preparing for and carrying out a mass slaughter, picking off fellow students one by one with assault weapons ordered on the internet. "Elephant" is short on dialogue, exposition, and insight, three important elements in any movie. It's for a good cause, but probably not worthy of the "Palme d'Or" it received at Cannes. On the other hand, it's a huge improvement over the director's "Good Will Hunting," one of my least favorite 90s movies, particularly for its flawed and misleading depiction of therapy. The title "Elephant", incidentally, refers to the 'elephant inside the room that nobody wants to see...'

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Monday, March 14, 2005

Vive Le Mess

I love foreign film because it's life-sized and observant rather than being a well-constructed fantasty escape a la Hollywood. Characters are allowed to looky messy and stupid, not just in the beginning before a happy ending redeems them, but overall. Just like life. But life-sized doesn't at all mean boring or ordinary. Case in point: Confusion of Genders, a French film about a confused, forty-ish bisexual man with no fewer than four love interests: his ex-wife's younger brother, who adores him, his female lawyer boss, a life-imprisoned male convict they defended, and the convict's hairdresser girlfriend (the confused lead, convict, and hairdresser are picture below in a hilarious prison visit). Quite a romp, in 90 minutes, and you need to pay attention or risk missing a nuance. Also, the ex-wife's kid brother (on the poster) is hot!


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Sunday, March 13, 2005

Samarkand, My Love...

Snapshots from the Jewel of Central Asia, in deepest Uzbekistan, courtesy of Great Mirror, a wonderful photograhpic armchair tourist site...

Gur Emir - The King's Tomb

Shah E-Zende, Uzbekistan's holiest monument, also a King's Tomb

Uzbekh convenience store - what's your pleasure?

Blackberry juice, anyone? From Samarkand's main market. Reportedly thicker than prune juice, and more effective...


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