Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The End... For Now...

Today I'm bound for Greenwich and Stamford, the last five customer visits of the 21 I've done in a two week span.. This includes lunch and dinner, and leaves no time for a trip to the gym...

My birthday was lovely, a shower of greetings from near and far, hither and yon..

Ruth's memorial service was very moving. Well over 200 friends and colleagues were there at St Bartholomew's to pay respect. Remembrances from close friends and her parents, her husband's eulogy, celebrating her life, grappling with loss, recounting her final days, her final hours... Thoroughly touching, unspeakably sad...

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me!

I spent most of the weekend celebrating my birthday! It was fairly warm here, in sharp contrast with last year's snowstorm. Here's the inner courtyard of my office building a year ago, as viewed from the common area outside my office...

Here's the 8th Avenue side of my apartment building in the snowy dawn...

Expect my birthday party pics during the week, it was a lovely night.. And here's the 23rd Street side after some rudimentary shoveling...

Indolence and unstructured time are on today's docket. Greyish tones of unpure snow In front of my office building on a chilly afternoon...

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Sunday, January 29, 2012


Today's Song of the Week, 'I Can See Through You,' reminds me of my early-80s New Wave glory days, and in particular, of the Bowie-inflected 'New Romantic' subgenre.

It's British quintet The Horrors, who began in 2005 as a 'big haired, black-clad garage punk outfit' but morphed into something considerably more experimental...

Here's the groovy video for 'I Can See Right Through You' - all those pretty lights!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I hate to report a death, and my heart goes to my late former co-worker Ruth, who lost a long battle to cancer yesterday, and to her husband and very young sun.

Count your blessings, smell the flowers, cherish the people you love... In the end, that's really all we've got...

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Imitating The Inimitable?

We found 'My Week With Marilyn' to be quite worthwhile - an interesting period piece driven by the terrific acting of Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe and Kenneth Branagh aging well as Sir Laurence Olivier.
Kudos as well to the adorable, Tony-winning Eddie Redmayne as Colin Clark, the young film assistant whose week-long friendship with the icon led to two memoirs and this film. 'My Week' wisely doesn't attempt to answer the unanswerable or imitate the inimitable, but Michelle Williams does manage an interesting emotional and physical portrayal of the fragile and lusted-after actress, even more impressive considering the lack of resemblance. But, hey, I like period pieces, movies about movies, biopics, and one-event biopics. I like the cast. Glad to see Michelle get her 3rd Oscar nomination, though it would be shocking if she won over Viola Davis of The Help or Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher...

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Monday, January 23, 2012

The Marathon Continues

After a lovely, quiet Sunday with JP, the onslaught, the marathon that is my typical work day arrives with a thud. Just two days in the office to finish weeks of unfinished work! Wednesday and Thursday I'm tied up with more customer visits, in NY and Boston, respectively.

Since I must in Boston for a 7:30am meeting Thursday, I get to stay overnight, and to take my friend Erik for dinner on his actual birthday. My actual birthday is next Monday, but my actual birthday party is Saturday night. I can't wait! I try to host 3-4 parties a year, it's a terrific way of making sure you see your friends more frequently, despite one's full and busy 21st century life...

So quiet, yesterday. JP and I saw the 4:15 showing of 'My Week With Marilyn,' which was quite worthwhile, reviews notwithstanding, and more on that later. Made the mistake of Catfish sandwich for brunch, a mound of batter and grease that stayed with me all afternoon; you can be sure I won't do that again...

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Neon Lightning

Today's offering, 'Polish Girl,' comes from Neon Indian, a Brooklyn-based indie electronic quartet formed in Texas that bathes its catchy, perky but bluesy songs in electronic bleeps and bloops.
Led by 23-year-old Alan Palomo, who was born in Monterrey, Mexico, they're kind of a southern border Junior Boys, minus the Steely Dan fixation. Palomo's father was a Mexican pop star in the 80s.

It was Palomo's ex-girlfriend who inspired the band name 'Neon Indian;' something to do with a musical apology for a missed date...

Here's the video for 'Polish Girl', our Song of the Week. This tune goes down easily, like neon ice cubes on a some futuristic hot summer day; it's kind of a torch song and is certainly devoid of ethnicity, Polish or Mexican American.

Neon Indian burst on the scene in 2008 with 'Psychic Chasms,' a critical smash that made many year-end best lists. Here's their memorably trippy and poppy debut single, 'Deadbeat Summer..'

That album's other signature tune is '6666 (I Don't Know If You Know', here's the clip:

The band perform 'Mind Drips' from its new album, 'Era Extraña,' live on KEXP...

The band talks about its new album, 'Era Extraña,' which it recorded in Helsinki...

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Saturday, January 21, 2012


The New York area is covered with snow, for the first time since late October. It's also frigid cold, for the first time in what seems like ages...

Happily, the frosty weather couldn't keep us from Andrew and Michelle's open house out in Rahway... Michelle made three kinds of chilis, one of which was green-hued chicken pozole!

A cheerful gaggle of kids took over the basement and the adults enjoyed sangria, shrimp, and salami...

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Friday, January 20, 2012


Happy to report that Yamina Reza's brilliant, biting, hilarious play, 'Gods of Carnage,' not only survived but thrived in its film adaptation, simply titled 'Carnage..' It's about two sets of parents who meet after their sons fight in a schoolyard.

JP & I saw this on stage and were bowled over by the all-star cast of four; we laughed until our stomachs hurt.

Well, I laughed plenty watching the film, as another four master actors (Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz and John C Reilly) quickly made me forget the four master actors from the stage version ((James Gandolfino, Marcia Gay Harden, Jeff Daniels and Hope Davis).

Don't miss it. And don't let Polanski's name keep you away (he directed it); this is essential viewing.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Make Friends With Jens!

Jens Lekman is a charming, quirkly, and sardonic 31-year-old singer/songwriter hailing from Angered, Sweden, who has enraptured indie pop fans around the globe for nearly eight years, and who I've sorely missed since his 2007 masterpiece 'Night Falls Over Kortedala...'

Lo and behold, he's back, for the first time since I launched Song of the Week back in September 2007, with a delightful 5-song EP called 'An Argument With Myself,' whose title track is this week's offering.

'Argument,' is an infectious delight: a twangy, witty, and light-hearted uptempo travelogue of a backpacker with a hyperactive inner dialogue. Even the song's sole expletive manages to be sweet - in a three year old's cadence of 'Be quiet / No, YOU be quiet!'.. Here it is, live in Seattle.

Below, we stroll through Lekman's highly entertaining back catalogue... Who else could write the droll, languid balald 'You Put Your Arms Around Me,' in which, while he's cutting vegetables, his girlfriend gives him a surprise hug from behind, causing him to slice off his finger? Here he is on Swedish TV

'The Opposite of Hallelujah' in Cleveland with an oompah band..

'Black Cab' in Gothenburg, 2003...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dark Day

I'm positively lost without Wikipedia! It's going to be a long day... :-) Of course, it's a long week for a short week, with about 7 days of work to finish in 4 days, after my Cancun conference. Also, I have to visit 7-8 customers tomorrow and Friday. My company informs me the power will be shut down on Saturday, but that's fine, since we'll be at Andrew's open house down in Rahway...

Tonight, dinner with Bart. Maybe, when I arrive home, I can resurrect Song of the Week...

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Eight Years of Blogging (and Still Alive...)

I'll celebrate my Blog-iversary by reposting my 'maiden entry' from January 18, 2004...

"Entering the Off Off Off Zone....

Off Off Off Broadway can be amazing. In a beat-up old office building, today my friend Christi Aguiar and I saw "Clash by Night," a rarely-staged Clifford Odets gem from the 1940s, produced on a shoe-string and showcasing excellent acting all around, especially Abby in the title character of Mae. The Shins, in contrast, make tuneful indie rock in New Mexico

This is Clifford Odets on the left, and The Shins on the right:

I lost my new headphones in the slush. Uggh "

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Another Notch On My Suitcase

So... we got back last night from our romantic weekend in Mexico City, my gift to myself for all my hard work at the Cancun conference, which went off very well. Hard to believe it was my 31st trip to Mexico, still my most frequently visited country - Brazil's a close second with 29 visits and counting.
For those who care, that was my 79th trip to Latin America, my 85th foreign business trip, and my 131st foreign trip overall. Most of my travels, by the way, happened after I turned 30: before that, I'd only been outside the states 7 times (though twice for an entire summer...)

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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Dubstep Poster Boy

Twelve days late, here's the SOTW I meant to post on Christmas Day - the mournful, bluesy, and spare 'Limit To Your Love' by James Blake, the 23-year-old British singer-songwriter-producer who's become the poster child for 'dubstep,' an electronic music subgenre described as 'tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.'

The very photogenic Mr. Blake first caught the music world's attention with a series of singles, notably 'Limit' and 'The Wilhelm Scream,' see videos below. Blake's eponymous debut album reach the top 10 in the UK and all over Europe, and sold modestly in the US by word of mouth...

Enjoy the 'Limit' video clip;

Blake's other single, the equally spare but utterly scream-less 'Wilhelm Scream..'

Here's Blake performing 'Unluck' at the Big Apple's HMV Music Festival back in October, after the audience shouts its love for a minute or so, much to the bashful Blake's bemusement..

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Time Flies

I'm back to work, and the week is intense, with the final preparations for next week's massive conference. I am up to my eyeballs in loose ends, and must write a presentation... The 'Meeting of the Noses' of JP and I below is from our rehearsal dinner all those months ago...
nose 2 nose

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Monday, January 02, 2012

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

SOTW charges into 2012 with the fast-paced and but melodic and wistful 'Maniac' by a band I've greatly missed, Brooklyn-based quintet Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (CYHSY), back in form after a five-year absence.

CYHSY is hard to describe - off-center and energetic but pretty and fun, quirky indie-rock and pop tunes with an odd, adenoidal lead vocal and an oft-symphonic sweep, quite a trick for a stripped-down quintet.

The band is a true 21st-century success story: 'self-produced, self-released, self-promoted, and self-distributed - right down to licking the stamps,' they quickly caught the fancy of the 'grassroots-indie-blog machine.' By 2005 they were the hottest unsigned band in indie-dom. Another CYHSY trick: always evocative of a barrage of indie bands, but never derivative: 'enough to flick a switch somewhere in your head, without any direct comparison...'

Enjoy their excellent live version of Maniac '@ Google:'

Debut brilliance: 'Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood:'

Here's the 2005 Clap song that won my heart, 'Gimme Some Salt...'

From their sophomore album in 2007, ' the seductive hyper murk of 'Satan Said Dance...'

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Sunday, January 01, 2012


Aaron's New Year's Resolution: nearly daily blog posts from now on. I've missed it - it's a creative outlet, a journal, it's communication with loved ones.. It's very 21st century... I'm back (I think).

Just got back from a week in Arizona with my family. It's been a lovely break from work, and I'm bracing myself for a harsh re-entry week, leading up to that annual marathon, the Santander Cancun Conference....

I saw lots of movie in this most movie-oriented of seasons. More on that later...

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