Monday, May 31, 2004

Epilogue: I'd Rather Be Blue...

And so our Iceland adventure ended, with an otherworldly, refreshing dip in the warm, milky, mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon. It's about 4 feet deep and the floor is sand and white clay-like material. It really seemed to have soothing, beneficent qualities. And now, I must off to sleep my friends

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Spin Spin Reykjavik

Lava Fields and Ash-and-Snow-Striped Mountains...Our jeep trip yesterday took us inland to the ´southern highlands,´ an endless mountainous expanse of volanic wastland that reminded me of the sets of "Lost in Space," the 1965-68 TV classic, not the cheesy 90s movie. This lasted about 8 hours and included an opportunity to bathe naked in a steaming natural pool with air temperature of 40F and a strong wind. We declined. Over coffee our Icelandic guide (a moonlighting TV cameraman) and a fellow tourist from Denmark gave us an earful about Iraq and US behavior in general. The guide was trying to hit on the tourist, and made a point of dropping me and Mom off first. Lunch was haphazard, they failed to inform us it was bring your own.

In the evening, while Mom rested at the hotel, I took the stick-shift car for a three hour spin around Reykjavik, visiting landmarks, stopping to stroll through the sleepy streets lined with adorable colored houses. I searched for wierd Icelandic food, but to no avail. Guess I wasn´t destined to savor rotten shark and pickled ram´s testicles. Darn. Today, we visit the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport, should touch down around 6:40pm at JFK and be home at 8pm. Very nice break, and now I can stick shift. Mission accomplished!

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Sunday, May 30, 2004

Iceland is Green, and Greenland is Ice...

Land Man A Lawyer... That´s how you pronounce today´s volcanic destination-scape, Lanmannalaugar. We got up at 7:30am (only a paid excursion could make us stick to this), and will be driven by jeep into Iceland´s formidable interior, starting in the Þjórsárdalur Valley with a stop at the Hjálparfoss waterfall. Also on the menu are active volcanos, bathing pools in lava fields, explosion craters, and spooky volcanic mountains. Full report later. It´s very, very sunny here again today, supposedly a rarity in these parts. Count us as lucky. Hope you´re enjoying the same, wherever you are...

"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?" - Groucho Marx"
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
- Oscar Wilde

"In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a
nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal
activity." - Dr. Jamrach Holobom

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Saturday, May 29, 2004

Hrútspungar, Anyone?

Meet #2 of Iceland´s Five Wierdest Things To Eat: Hrútspungar are pickled ram testicles, pictured here, often served pressed into a cake with garlic, as a jam, or as a kind of paté. My guidebook comments: ´Not bad if you don´t think about it too much, especially in paté form. Mom and I ate at Hummerhusið, or Lobster House. That´s not a typo in the restaurant name, but the Icelandic letter for ´th´as in then or those.

It´s 9:30pm. Sun´s still high in the sky. No Golden Circle today, Aaron drove 110km in the wrong direction, over dramatic fjord and mountain seascapes, including a 6-kilometer, 14-dollar ride through a tunnel under the fjord. Pictured left is Reykjavik´s Gay Pride Parade.

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Land Of The Almost Midnight Sun

Lo and behold, it was 10:50pm when the sun slid behind the Reykjavik bay horizon last night. Well past midnight, dim orange light reflected off the low clouds, i.e., civil twilight. We awoke at noon today to another rare partly sunny Iceland day. By 1:30pm we should hit the road. Destination: The Golden Circle. Details to follow!

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Friday, May 28, 2004

Happy Birthday Dave!

My brother-in-law Dave turns 41 tomorrow (Sat May 29). Here´s his wedding picture w my sister Deena, taken October 1, 1988.

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Scissor Spotlight: here´s NME´s on-target review of the Scissor Sisters show I took in with Thomas at the Bowery Ballroom last Sunday. Even better, what they´re all about, plus a vivid and helpful review of their amazing CD.

Burning Rubber In Wonderland...

Impressions of Iceland so far: eerily beautiful, lots of volcanic rock and green tundra, snowy mountains framing deep blue harbors, two-lane strips of highway, and groupings here and there of cheerfully colored little houses, a crayola-box cornucopia of paint aimed at chasing away the arctic blues... Reykjavik and environs are home to half of Iceland´s 250,000 inhabitants. Thus, the population of Chelsea and Greenwich Village occupying an island the size of West Virginia.

Aaron climbs the stick-shift learning curve! My reflexes are kicking in, this was a superb idea. It is, however, just as well that I did my first spin without Mom in tow. That was a 45-minute version of a 10-minute trip, stretched out by infinity missed turns and street names that are all extremely long, similar-sounding, and printed on very small signs : - ) I am happy to report most of my mistakes involve gears, hurting the car, rather than traffic, which would endanger me and other people! A stick-shift car lets you know very quickly when it is unhappy, in the form of a noxious, burning chemical smell which is literally sparks flying around the rubber cords in your gear box.

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66 N Getaway

Hey everyone. Arrived in Iceland safe, sound, and jet lagged. It´s 2pm and Mom refuses to get up, arguing, correctly, that it is not morning : - ) Impressions thus far are that Iceland is quite pretty, so far quite sunny, odd-colored volcanic rocks dotted the green tundra as we zipped by many tiny and colorful little towns to Reykjavik, a harbor city facing the ocean and flanked by snow-capped mountains. It´s not unlike Northern Norway, if you´ve ever been there. Hope you´re having a great Memorial Day Weekend everyone. Will write more when I have some decent internet access - this is a stand up terminal, one window only, time limit and confusing keyboard : - ) Better go eat some smoked fish and try to look inconspicuous : - ) Later!

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Thursday, May 27, 2004

From New York, To Chez Björk..

I will be posting from Iceland of course, so that you can accompany my stick-shift midnight sun unrepentant Viking adventure...I love the last day of work before a break...

For company on this junket I've invited along my Mom (pictured below on Arizona's Apache Trail)

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Iceland tomorrow night! Here's another picture from my web site's embryonic 'travels' page. Here's a Professkimo (professional eskimo) I encountered on a Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen (60N 5E) to Kirkenes (70N 31E) and back. Next to him is a reindeer. The fur on their antlers sheds, and then the antlers themselves shed. You can buy and eat reindeer sausage in Norway. I tried to bring back some for my JPM office Xmas party, but it was confiscated in customs.. Curses, foiled again!

This trip was in August 2000, and it rained for 9 of the 12 days! The boat was akin to a 'local train,' and between stops and land excursions I felt like I visited every town and village in Norway... except Oslo, which is inland.


Kirkenes, the Norwegian-Russian border

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The many colors I can use:

aliceblue antiquewhite aqua aquamarine azure beige bisque blanchedalmond blue violet burlywood cadet blue chartreuse chocolate coral cornflowerblue cornsilkcrimson cyan darkblue darkcyan darkgoldenrod darkgray darkgreen darkkhaki darkmagenta darkslategray darkturquoise darkviolet deeppink deepskyblue dimgray dodgerblue firebrick forestgreen fuschiagainsboro gold goldenrod gray green greenyellow honeydew hotpink indianred indigo khaki lavender lavenderblush lawngreen lemonchiffonlightsalmon lightseagreen lightskyblue lightslategray lightsteelblue lightyellow lime limegreen magenta maroon mediumaquamarine mediumblue mediumorchid mediumpurple mediumseagreen mediumslateblue mediumspringreen mediumturquoise mediumvioletred midnightblue mintcream mistyrose

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Small World

Well, Well... Our Scissor Boy sure gets around! Yesterday I learned that Jake Shears aka Jason Sellards, lead singer/songwriter of the brilliant Scissor Sisters (more on them later), dated someone I know, and tried to date a good friend's partner a few years ago while in college (when the partner was still single). I confess I'm a bit envious!

Finally recovered from Sunday's revelry. Left me thirsty for more rock shows, and this is looking like a good summer for it. Iceland in two days, Mom arrives tomorrow. Got my ears cleaned out in anticipation : - ) My ear doctor is actually named Dr. Desloge (picture below), a fitting name for a wax Dislodger : - )

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Monday, May 24, 2004


Had the enormous pleasure tonight of seeing Scissors Sisters, an exciting and promissing band, play live at Bowery Ballroom. More on this tomorrow (meaning today after 6 hours sleep).
¡Buennas Noches!

George Bush's election chances, in my opinion:

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Saturday, May 22, 2004

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." - Grouch Marx
"My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is." - Ellen DeGeneris
"If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner. " - Tallulah Bankhread
"A casual stroll through a lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything." - Nietzche
" Who is General Failure, and why is he reading my hard disk? " - Steven Wright

The Sublime... And The Ridiculous

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Friday, May 21, 2004

Stuck In The Mezzo With You

Chelsea's Intermezzo was the setting for a lovely Italian dinner with friends last night. Once my quiet hideaway, Intermezzo has been remodeled into a chic hotspot and a favorite of "Queer Eye" star Carson. At least they've dimmed the lighting again to an intimate soft red. Their food is still delicious. Bart and I both had Chicken stuffed with shrimp and asparagus in wine sauce over pesto mashed potatoes. Bart's beau AJ and our friend Will stuck to the exquisite house pasta.

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Paella Party

Last night I (over)dined at El Quijote, the 75-year-old Spanish restaurant nestled in the equally historic Hotel Chelsea half a block east of my apartment. Joining me were my friend Pat Stumpp and her charming guest, Mariana, who hails from Arequipa, Peru, and happens to work (indirectly) for Bavaria, the beer company I am currently analyzing. Oversized portions are the rule at Quijote, and in an hour I consumed a 3-day caloric allowance, mostly via multiple helpings of Paella Valenciana. And I only ate about 1/3 of what I was served, too. If I had taken home the remains (which Quijote encourages), I would have been eating Paella for days, not a good strategy as bathing suit weather approaches... : - ) Sangria further animated our already lively evening. More about the Venezuelan luncheon later, plenty worth commenting there...

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Cool picture by MusedPixelFlake:

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Oil Slick

It's Suit and Tie time... Formal function on today's calendar from 12-2.. I get to hear the spellbinding CEO of Venezuela's state oil company address the scintillating topic: "Venezuelan Energy Sector: Past and Future Of the Venezuelan Oil Industry." This opus will be served with lunch at the Cambridge Room of the Harvard Club. Now, I wonder what the Trachtenberg Family Players could do with these slides... : - )

Last weekend I watched "Umberto D," the 1952 Italian classic about an impoverished old man's fight to hold on to dignity in a society that no longer has any use for him. Marvelous movie, centered by a gifted non-actor and stark black and white visuals of a crumbling, war-torn, poverty-stricken Italy during the post-war years.Director De Sica really got the emotions right. You can see the pained and akward looks on the faces of Umberto's friends when he mentions his money woes. The scene at the dog pound is also devastating. Next on my Netflix list is "Close Encounters," which I'm 1/2 hour into and still not very engaged... More to come...

Here's the Harvard Club Building, in case you were wondering.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Will I Be Next?

That Special Man, Round Three? With thousands of my gay brothers and sisters tying the knot, I'm realizing how much I miss the companionship and affection of having a boyfriend. Maybe it's time to be a little more pro-active in this department... This is an exciting time. The contrast is amazing when I flash back to the fear and isolation I felt in my teen years, when society was mostly silent or disapproving of homosexuality, and I felt I would always be an outsider and never belong. There were no role models, just contempt and silence. With gay marriage legal, hopefully nobody will have to feel this way again...

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Monday, May 17, 2004

And It All Came Together...
Dad Sang Along

The Trachtenberg Family Players are an unusual act, to say the least! Their 'concept' is writing rock songs, even 'operas', based on slide shows rescued from garage sales and the garbage.
"OPNAD," for example, celebrates a 1978 McDonald's management conference in song! Daddy Jason Trachtenberg is the lyricist, keyboardist, guitarist, lead singer, and MC. His wife Tina mans the slide projector. Their spunky 10-year old daughter Rachel is a very convincing drummer and sings, too.

Friday my friend Thomas and I caught their act at Northsix in Williamsburgh. That journey in itself merits a posting. We saw their excellent "revue" in which they stood on stage and cooked tortillas for the audience (from Maseca Corn Meal) and introduced their five quirky and clever musical warm-up acts, mostly very good. About 70-80 people attended, seated in varying degrees of comfort on bleachers and the floor.

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Sunday, May 16, 2004

Happy Birthday, Christi!

Christi and I went to see Cirque du Soleil's Allegria show on Randall's Island. It was really amazing, colorful, a total delight. We literally darted to her car afterwards to avoid getting soaked. This whole weekend was just beautiful weather in New York - summery, sunny, 80F with a breeze. just lovely.... soon I'll be in Iceland : - )

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

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Friday, May 14, 2004

Happy Birthday Doug!

Wherever you are... Which is probably London, but could even be Moscow or Alma-Aty... Here's a picture of Doug relaxing last year among the Karen people in the hills of Northern Thailand...

Back In The High Life Again! I'm happy to report that Hertz Rental Corporation has restored my rental privileges! I'm no longer a Hertz pariah! Yahoo! I'm so glad I fought back and defended my rights by hiring a lawyer. There's a object lesson here. What a great way to end a week!

Hey, Hey, We're The Trachenbergs! I'm going to Williamsburgh tonight, to NorthSix, to check out the Trachenberg Family Players, who, in their own words, "are an indie-vaudeville conceptual art-rock pop band that takes vintage slide collections that have been found at estate sales,garage sales,thrift stores,etc., and turn the lives of annonymous strangers into pop-rock musical exposes based on the contents of these slide collections." It sounds like enormous fun. Full report later.

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Everybody's talking about it, even in the thatched huts of Lesotho! Aaron's very first ABN research report has finally, finally been published...

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Smells Like Unrat...

Poor Professor Rath. Sure, he's an ill-tempered curmudgeon, but his students tease him mercilessly, calling him "Unrat" instead of Rath, a play on words in German meaning "foul smell." I've been reading this classic German novel, in which the stodgy professor is totally ruined when he becomes obsessed with a cabaret singer named Lola. Only half-way through the book did I realize that this was the basis of the classic 1930 film "The Blue Angel" (see picture) that launched Marlene Dietrich and the song "Falling In Love Again." Decades later, Mel Brooks and Madeleine Khan (playing Lily Von Shtupp) parodied this scene in "Blazing Saddles" with the hilarious musical number, "I'm Tired." Interestingly, Dietrich left Germany in 1933, unable to stomach the nazis, while Emil Jennings, who played the Professor, stayed and became a Nazi progandist. He was disgraced after the war...

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Summer's Here!

It sure feels that way in NY, with 80 degree mid-day highs and 8pm sunsets... I'm more sleepy than perky, facing a tough work week, what's left of it.. I did finish Dr Strangelove last night, which I appreciated much more than 20 years ago when I first saw it. Peter Sellers is so amazing playing the frustrated President, the hapless British major, and the bizarre ex-Nazi title character. George C Scott and Sterling Hayden also do great turns as a hawkish general and an insane colonel who triggers Armageddon, respectively. My appetite is now whet to see more Peter Sellars. I'd love to see "Mouse That Roared" again, where he plays another three roles, include the Duchess of Grand Fenwick! : - )

Here's a Sellers gallery

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