Monday, October 31, 2005

Staring Into The Boy Wonder's Eyes

Saturday night on the Subway I saw the most delightful lad in a beautiful realized costume as Robin, Batman's Boy Wonder (Lucky Batman...). This very detailed red, yellow, green, and black creation, complete with long gloves and plastic shoes spray-painted green, and super short-shorts, was a standout costume on a stand out night. I engaged him in 10 minutes of delightful conversation, and was regaled with the details of his confection, his life-long love of comic books, and his faithfulness to the comic-book version of Robin, more of a loner than either the dark film version or the light and campy 60s TV show that I so loved as a young tot. He got off at my stop, and I bid him farewell, as his lovely apparition faded into the chilly, but lively night...

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Blood On My Cello

As if a cut-throat barber and a human meat-pie factory weren't unusual enough fare for an uproarious musical revival of 'Sweeney Todd,' the awesome production I saw last night dispenses with multiple sets and has its actors do double duty as the orchestra.

Patti 'Evita' LuPone, hilarious as the cheerfully entreprenurial purveyor of pies made from barber-chair murder victims, not only pours her ample body into a tight mini-skirt with a big butt, but plays tuba while doing so, for good measure. What a thoroughly entertaining evening. Yes, this is the same Stephen Sondheim of 'West Side Story' and 'Gypsy' fame, as well as 'Into The Woods,' 'Assassins,'... a long list. I know less about Sondheim than a gay boy should, but I've found a wonderful site.

I've seen Patti LuPone one other time, in a hilarious non-musical revival of "Noises Off" - some time I'll have to rent the film version with Carol Burnett in her role...

And now, I've off to Mexico for 2 days, back Tuesday afternoon. Stats tomorrow.

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Saturday, October 29, 2005

More Than Butter

I'm watching "Last Tango In Paris," which is much more interesting than I anticipated. Sex-saturated, yes, but very complex characters and emotions, with brilliant direction and cinematography - every single frame is an interesting shot. Glad I waited to see this one. Twenty years ago, both the complexity and the artwork would have gone over my head. Our mercurial nature as human beings - unstable alloys, buffetted about by events present and past, by feelings and ghosts of feelings. Todd Solondz says we are 'unstable alloys of cruelty and kindness, insight and obtuseness.' I'm much less negative, but there is a tiny bit of hate in resentment in the most solid of love relationships - most exist on several levels, since each person contains several personality elements, put two people together and you have a lot of inter-acting permutations. See, I'm getting much more out of this movie than anal sex on a wood floor lubricated with cold butter. : - )

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Long and Winding

November will be both. Starting Sunday, a miasma of mini-trips, conflicting projects, overdue reports, and quick scenery changes. I hope to spend some time in NY, too. I'm looking forward very much to Tuesday's Rufus Wainwright concert at Beacon Hall. Rufus (pictured above right) is a pop-operatic-confessional-showman-type singer, a gay icon at 31, a personal hero, and the scion of two families famed for musical talent and substance abuse. Born in New York's, his Mom's a Montreal-based Anglophone Candanian. But I could write about Rufus all day. I need to go write about Latin American companies. Oddly, the warm-up act is OK Go!, the obscure bubble-gum power-pop band whose name I appropriated for my blog!

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Wild Blue Yonder

Thomas leaves today, finally ready to explore the world for a year and a half, at least, through Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia... Follow these exploits on his blog. First stop: Dublin.

At work, I'm busier than I've been since my JPM heydey, which is good and bad. I'm sleep-deprived, and behind schedules.

In my free hours, I listen to music and books, and watching amazing movies on DVD. Almost too many to review here. But I'll try. : - )

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Passion Of Hadrian

Why can't Aaron sleep? And other insane questions... Woke up at 4am with my head full of thoughts. I've been working long hours here, climbing uphill in several directions. Three things keep me going: music, film, and audiobooks in assorted languages. I am currently starting '1984' in Norwegian and finishing an old favorite, Marguerite Yourcenar's 'Memories of Hadrian,' in the original French. I could do a long post just on Hadrian (pictured left), Rome's wisest and most visionary emporer, as imagined retroactively from the 20th century by a French expatriate lesbian in Maine. It's kind of amazing, it really feels like it's streaming from Adrian's consciousness, and we feel a community of spirit across the chasm of time and custom. Also of interest, clearly, is that Hdrian was gay, though he probably didn't call it that - most of his sex and all his loves were young men. His greatest passion, Antinous of what is now Northeastern Turkey, was an 18 year old boy who fell hard for the emporer, into a relationship of kindred spirits and equals, but who, driven to despair by the poisonous imperial circles surrounding him, took his own life before reaching 21.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Throughly swamped at work, sheet of rain are falling on our city. Busy weekend, house guests and much revelry and long, ample meals. Fernando's surprise birthday party Sunday was at Osteria Del Sole in the West Village, lovely. And last night, was at 'Bombay Talkie' for some upscale Indian food severed in a high-concept Bollywood space age bachelor pad environment, a fitting send-off for Emerson and welcome for Thomas, who's here for four days before taking off to see the world until 2007....

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Happy Birthday Fernando

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Oh Deer...

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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying...

Some singers say more with a pause than others can with hours of lyrics. Such a singer, such an enchantress, was Shirley Horn, who passed on yesterday at 71. She was the ultimate 'Life Begins at 50' girl, truly hitting her prime after raising her family and re-focusing on piano and composition. From 1990 onward, she released a series of flawless albums, gems of intimacy and intensity. Measured and subtle but searingly effective, Shirley was a 'sui generis,' one of a kind. I have a lot of her wonderful music on record. Just drop me a line if you'd like a sample. Peace.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

My friend Emerson from Brazil is coming today, but he's arriving 12 hours late, due to mishaps and overbookings on Continental Airlines. He's currently enduring a long, long layover in Houston, at George Bush International Airport. I think it's really tacky to name places after people who are still alive - it's very South-American-dictator, a la Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay. Some cartoon frivolity:

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Movie Star Encounter

Here are Jennifer Li and Cary Woodworth, friends of my friend Sunil, and stars of "Life, Translated," based on Jennifer's best selling book about her UK boarding school years.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

De-Back-cle To The Future

Or, How Aaron Walked To Work. Seven subway lines were shut down by a fire/smoke condition at West 4th St, a major sub hub. It threatened to rain, or at least drizzle, but the drizzle fizzled. Just as well, considering the condition of my umbrella. Better safe than sorry in these times. At least this does not threaten to disrupt service for five years, unlike the infamous switch room fire earlier this year.

As you can see, I did not go to an undisclosed Central American location this week. I can't rule that out, but timing is uncertain. There's also talk of a visit to Monterrey, Mexico, also for only a day or two.

Last night, I saw 30 of the first movies ever filmed. I kid you not. More on that later.

I'm not quite recovered, but OK enough. This is fortunate, as my friends Emerson and Thomas are visiting this weekend, and I also have a birthday dinner to go to.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wonderful Town

Odd things seen on NY streets:

1. while walking down Mott St with Peter Sunday, a giant paper lantern from a Japanese restaurant came loose and fell off. he caught it.

2. on Bleecker St near Perry, saw a man in a checkerboard turban with a defiant smirk and a huge gold chain which announced 'I Am An ASSHOLE.' he said it, I didn't

3. Lyndon Larouche and his freinds.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

From this week’s Onion, my favorite feature, “What Do YOU Think?
Question: “Bush's Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, his longtime associate and current White House counsel, continues to draw criticism. What do you think?”

Answer 1: "It just goes to show that, in America, anybody can grow up to be a lavishly rewarded sycophant of the president."
Answer 2: "Hey, the president has to go with who he knows, and apparently he was too busy Hoovering up Bolivian marching powder in his Ivy League schools to make any valuable contacts there."
Answer 3: "We should all just feel grateful that Bush apparently doesn’t have a favorite TV show that features any lawyers"

Question: “The FBI is considering relaxing their strict standards for past marijuana use among prospective agents. What do you think?”
Answer 1: "I think it's a good change. The FBI should be open to considering applicants who attended college at some point in their past."
Answer 2: " What's next? Allowing drunks to join the police?"

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Monday, October 17, 2005

looks like my business trip is pushed back from tomorrow night. yay!

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Subtle Strands So Say Much

A weekend of lazing around, brisk sunny weather, sore glands, and wonderful cinematic images comes to a close. I feel no less swollen for my good behavior : - ( And I have a 'blitzkrieg' business trip (leave tomorrow night, back wednesday night) to a country I've never seen tomorrow, 3 hours away. More on that, later. But first, kudos to "Loggerheads," a subtle and affecting film about the gay adopted son of an evangelical minister and his wife...

Well, it's more than that. There are three strands playing out in parallel, on three successive Mother's Day weekends, in three parts of North Carolina (mountain, plain, and seashore). The gay son, now a drifter, is HIV positive, jaded but fragile, and begins a friendship with a slightly older gay motel owner who takes him in (both pictured below). Meanwhile, his birth mother (above left) searches for him and his adoptive parents, especially his mother, regret not holding on to the son they rejected. The ending, while oblique and subtle, packs a wallop. Another great movie experience.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Enjoy The Silence

Slightly sick, I've been watching films all weekend. These include, my first-ever viewings of any full-length silent film, not counting the excerpts in my 'Slapstick Encyclopedia' DVD collection. My logical starting point was Buster Keaton (pictured left, in center) in "Our Hospitality" and Charlie Chaplin (pictured below) in "The Gold Rush." And... they're highly entertaining. I enjoy the slightly exaggerated body language that takes the place of spoken dialogue. But most of all, it's fascinating to see moving images of the period 1900-1930 for the first time. Life looks modern, with cars, telephones, factories, electricity, but it's the very beginning of modern.

For example, cars look rickety, like they'd just been invented and we were still getting used to them. The Los Angeles area, where many classics were filmed, looks like a small town, almost rural... Finally, the films seem less Hollywood - romance is buffoonery, characters seem broad, flat, 'types', rather than individuals to live through vicariously. The music is positively grand, as my Aunt Lena would say (and she probably saw these movies, accompanied by a local pianist, in the theaters of Lowell, Mass as a young girl).

I hope to continue my exploration of this era, perhaps seeing one silent film out of every five I order from Netflix for a while... And lately, I've been barrelling through five films a week.

But now I'm off to shower and meet my friend Peter for an 11:15 showing of 'Loggerheads', about an evangelical couple whose adopted son turned out to be gay.

Enjoy the day.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Good Day Sunshine

And on the 8th day, the sun came out and shone its shiny face upon us all... It peers through my window, I haven't been outside, I have a slight headcold.

I have seen many a movie in the past few weeks, on DVD via Netflix. Last night I saw "Porco Rosso," a delightful animé by that genre's master, Hiyao Miyazaki. The film (images shown below) takes place in the 1930s on islands of the coast of Italy where pirates and riff-raff take in jazz and red wine, not far from the refuge of a hero-pilot who's been turned into a pig, and become a legend hunting bounty in his ramshackle plane. Womanizer and recluse, secretly loving a hotel-owner-jazz-chanteuse, his world is rocked by a fatuous American swashbuckler and a spunky young female aviation engineer. It's all quite beautiful to watch. You'll remember it was Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle" I saw with Christi in June, in bloody plants, after my escalator incident. His drawing is beautiful and a bit retro, flat-ish so as to feel you're watch a cartoon, not computer graphics or claymation, a cartoon, with all the disbelief-suspension that universe requires. His stories are always compelling, unusual, cliché-free.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

It's been raining non-stop here for seven long days and nights....

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Faraway Nearby

I was knocked out by "Pather Panchali," the 1955 Indian film by Satyajit Ray that is Part One of his acclaimed "Apu Trilogy." Grainy, utterly realistic, it places you in the dusty, ramshackle family home in a remote village in West Bengal, bordering on Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). I found it didn't take a cultural leap to identify with the family depicted in the film - daily family tensions and economic woes have a universal ring, but the flavor is decidedly local. The father's an aspiring writer who barely provides for his family - dozens of repairs are pending, and nary a scrap of meat. The mother's fed up with the emaciated, elderly aunt (pictured) that's been staying with them seven years - as you can see, the actress is equally emaciated - that's not makeup and special effects. Armchair travel and armchair tragedy, unforgettable images, and a slow pace - all this awaits you if you place 'Pather Panchali' in your Netflix queue. Happy Real Columbus Day.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

This what I'm generally told! And if I have a service plan, they generally give you a new one...

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Netflix Killed The Video Star...

Signs of the times. Last night, having finished my last Neftlix movie and mailed the little envelope back, my film thirst still was not quenched. So I made a great short-list of classics and gems (Dr Caligari, Monster's Ball, Amarcord) and headed down to Video Blitz, the hip rental establishment on the 3rd floor of an old building at 8th Avenue and 17th Street.... But.... My city was gone... Where Chelsea-ites perused galleries of glorious cinema, software is now designed... R.I.P. Video Blitz, made redundant by Netflix, the amazing envelope-based rental service. Admittedly, it's very unusual that I've finished all five Netflix DVDs before the replacements arrive - it's uncommon to have less than three on hand. Still, a twinge of regret for the Darwinian passing of a local institution, gone, just as gay coffee bar Big Cup was supplanted by five Starbucks stores in a three-block radius....

Consolation 1: Netflix actually offers an even greater selection than Video Blitz, since virtual shelf space approaches infinity. Consolation 2: It's nice that software's being designed in Chelsea rather than Hyderabad or Bangalore....

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Sunday, October 09, 2005


Go Chinese this weekend! That's the optimistic tag line for "Life, Translated," a film starring Jennifer Li (aka Niu Niu) based on her "Sheep With Wings,' her award-winning book about life at a British boarding school. I saw this movie at ImaginAsian, a tiny Asian-themed art house near the 59th St bridge, with Fernando and Sunil. It seems Sunil knows Niu Niu's boyfriend, Cary Woodworth, who also acts in the film. Shortly after the viewing, we met up with them in front of the Chinese eatery where they'd been dining. They were delightful, and oddly tiny, thin, and life-sized compared to spending two hours with them in widescreen Technicolor©®. The movie's mostly in English, a little in Mandarin, subtitles in both languages. It evokes 'Mean Girls,''Buffy', and 'Heathers' but with heart and a multi-culti spin. The Mean Girls and the adult characters are a bit cartoonish, but the leads were very emotionally centered. You care enough about them to visit overly familiar landscapes in their company, such as high school rivalries and rugby matches. Apparently it was a hit in China - the NY Times loved it, too. There were, alas, about 10 other people in the movie theater. That cute youngster on the right is Edison Chan, a bona fide Hong Kong teen heartthrob. Both Cary (far left) and his character speak fluent Mandarin, though there's no on-screen explanation. Cary said that was edited out, but that he'd been roommates with Edison Chan's character at a Hong Kong boarding school. I wonder if Niu Niu's book is available in English..

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