Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Twenty Club

In mid-deal and fighting the flu, I'm also two days away from a major investor trip to Brazil, which is the country of the future (and always will be). This means that Saturday morning when I arrive Brazil will become the member of a very exclusive club - countries that I have visited 20 times. There's only one other such country, Mexico, which I visited for the 21st time in October. After seven days in Brazil, I'm taking two days of downtime in Argentina for the weekend to visit Andres, my first boyfriend, with whom I'm still very close. Argentina is my third-most-visited country - if I make it there in one piece, it'll be my 15th trip. Finally, this will be my 31st trip to South America, my 52nd trip to Latin America (54th if you count my two Dominican Republic visits), and my 95th foreign trip overall.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Q. Are you a wet nurse or a dry nurse?

A. Why, I'm not any nurse at all. I'm Dorothy Gale. From Kansas.

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Monday, November 28, 2005


Battling a flu and sore throat, my project of the year comes to fruition today - I think. I spent half of my Thanksgiving vacation working on it, including all day yesterday. Sorry about the spotty blog posts.

ROFL stands for Roll On Floor Laughing, which is my reaction to "Arrested Development," the most laugh-out-loud funny televsion program since.... Fawlty Towers? : - ) It's been about four years since I've laughed until my stomach hurt. And that was in a movie theater lobby, after watching 'The Dinner Game,' a French movie about these guys who have a monthly contest to see who can invite the biggest idiot as a guest - they naturally get their comeuppance.

More on "Arrested" later - I must get back to work....

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

Q: Where in the world is Thomas Hobbs?

A: Thomas, pictured below, will be Nov 21-29 Paris, Nov 30-Dec 3 Provence, Dec 3-9 Toulouse, Dec 9-13 Barcelona, then Madrid, Andalucia & Morroco, after that he's open to suggestions.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

From Eternity To Here

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I had quite an interesting holiday. I decided to join my gay outdoors group upstate for the day, and got about 3/4 of the way there, when the train announced it could go no further : - ). We were then put on buses, after a half an hour standing in freezing rain, by drivers who looked like they'd just been woken up. These crowded, standing-room-only buses dropped us off at Wassaic Station an hour late to mass confusion of people meeting people, and I couldn't recognize anyone from my group. Nor did I know the address and phone number of the lodge hosting the dinner - just the town. With my cel phone battery dead and no train back, I had to think fast. Luckily, I found an empty cab - apparently the only one in fifty miles. Well, empty of passengers, there was a driver. Which is fortunate since I'm not quite sure where Millerton is and was in no mood to drive. He was Hispanic, and spent the entire half-hour ride to Millerton explaining to cel phone callers, in Spanish, that they were out of luck because the train disaster resulted in no free cab in fifty miles.

I got out on Main Street in Millerton, and the only way I remembered to the lodge was a 3/4 mile hike along a rails-to-trails path through the woods, on thankfully powdery snow that did not soak my very unseasonal brown shoes. I've never been so glad to arrive anywhere, sore throat and all. Thirty lovely people, and the most delicious Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had. I began with about eight well-needed cups of hot apple cider with cloves, cinnamon, and tangelo slices. There was this hot soup with ginger, pumpkin, and carrot - the ginger really gave it a kick. Cranberry sauce from scartch with tangerines added to the cranberries, and yet more ginger. Deliciously stuffed turkey (though not quite as wonderful as Bart's turkey & stuffing from two weeks ago). It was a really lovely day. I felt much better after eating six helpings of everything, which, incidentally, precluded any notion of having dessert, and there were seven different pies. In fact, my throat was fine until.... this morning... ugh. and I have to do a presentation for work today... But , I will also watch some more movie classics, such as the one pictured here...

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Brilliant ambition, unique vision, reaching for the sky and... Hard to decide which is more impressive, the new, expanded version of "Donnie Darko," or the performance and great beauty of its extremely talented star, Jake Gyllenhaal. I am proud to have loved this 2001 genre-splicing deeply-felt mind-bender of a film at first sight, in a Pasadena movie house with Brian in the eerie weeks that followed 9/11. Slightly flawed brilliance is always far preferable to perfectly realized mediocrity. I could ruminate on "Donnie" at great length, and probably will. But for now, approaching Turkey Day, I shall call it a night (yes, I sometimes write these posts the night before...

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Challenging But Exhilirating

Another amazing, amazing film - beloved by many critics, despised my others, that was released in May and could garner some supporting actor nominations. Crash. by Paul Haggis, is a brilliant ensemble piece about racially charged post-9/11 L.A., with many intersecting plot lines, like 'Short Cuts' or 'Magnolia.' It starts out with deliberately charged racial material that rings true, and can help but feel devastating. But then the narrative takes some amazing, unpredictable turns. It has sweet moments as well as painful ones, and is ultimately powerful and full of life. There's lots to chew on and debate, if you see it with someone you may chat afterwards for hours. Among the many surprises: Ryan Philippé can really act, and is actually growing cuter with time, like fine wine. : - ) The great cast includes Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon and a very unplesant cast-against-time Sandra Bullock, as well as rapper Ludacris, who, also, can really act. The half-dozen lesser-known actors in major roles are equally impressive.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

It came upon a midnight clear... Christmas displays are now everywhere...

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Knock Yourself Out

This weekend I saw Robert DeNiro literally act his guts out in 'Raging Bull', Martin Scorsese's landmark 1980 film centered on the angry, paranoiac, failed figure that was middleweight champion boxer Jake La Motta. De Niro, who staged 8 intense fight scenes with no double (so intense you're surprised to learn their total running time is 10 minutes). He also, famously, gained 65 lbs for the film's final third, which chronicles La Motta's over-the-hill going-to-seed period, reduced to performing a stand-up routine based on his notoreity, Lola Montes with boxing gloves. He received a well-deserved Oscar for his trouble.

Full Disclosure: I find boxing appalling, cruel, masochistic, and often sickening. Does it fill a societal need, and vicariously discharge the latent violence of The Young and The Over-Testosteroned? It's certainly a throw-back to our animalistic past, or inner selves.

Moreover, I don't like particularly like pathologically violent and jealous wife-beating ignoramus types either. That's why I could never truly embrace The Sopranos, which I perused for a season. That program has wit, insight, and edge, but I just didn't choose to spend a hundred hours with such boorish people. I prefered the company of Six Feet Under's Fisher family, equally dsyfunctional, yes, but closer to my own temperment and sensibilities.

Final note: In one scene, La Motta, married to a platinum-blonde, low-brow abused wife, battles and knocks out France's Marcel Cedran to win the middleweight champion - Cedran's own woman was also no stranger to the streets, but was of far higher cultural value and impact - none other than Edith Piaf! (see the lovely film Edith & Marcel...). Cedran died in a plane crash the following year...

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bang A Gong, Get It On

This just in from my friend Emerson in Sao Paolo, Brazil:

"Last night was our Gay Short Film Festival. It's great fun every year and it's always hosted by a famous Brazilian actress, this year Marisa Orth (pictured left). But the best part is the outrageous jury, composed of famous drag queens, porno movies stars, and the like. Filmmakers present their videos, which we watch them for at least 30 seconds and if it is bad (the majority is) then we shout "gonga, gonga" and the hostess bangs the gong and we stop watching it... It's a literal three-ring circus, with much going on simultaneously.

Well, surprise, surprise...Our friend Eduardo Mattos's film won!!!!!! Again! He also won a few years back with an earlier film...This year my boyfriend Milton acted in his film...Actually, he acted in the earlier winning film, but this time his role was major. I'll send you, shortly, the link to a site where you can see the films.." (Editor's Note: I met Eduardo Mattos, by sheer coincidence, almost 10 years ago in Paris when I was a finalist at a film history contest sponsored by Air France and the French Government. Small world, huh?)

Good morning... up & at 'em... I'm meeting Peter at 11 to see 'Walk The Line' at Union Square, which has gotten good, but not great reviews.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Truly Madly Darkly

Well, finished Bergman's "Through A Glass Darkly," a superb dissection of a troubled family at their remote and rustic vacation home on the Swedish coast. Through incisive dialogue and searing acting, we meet a a selfish, artistically failed author, his daughter who's going in and out of mental illness, and his shy and confused son who's sexually coming of age. Daughter's husband, a doctor, stands by, longing and helpless.

It's a moody landscape, physically and emotionally, accentuated by the stark black & white cinematography. After the movie, a succint 90 minute jewel, had faded out, I watched the preview, and was stunned by its literacy, slowness, and the excess of information given (why tell the whole movie?) - I get the feeling that in 1961 American viewers had a longer attention span but that a foreign movie needed a hard sell... Finally, my interest in this film was first piqued by the Rolling Stones' choice to name their first hits album using a play on words of the film's title... "Through The Past, Darkly"

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

I Saw The Sign

Ace of Debasement... What is this, the middle ages? This Texas woman, tired of her daughter's poor grades, is forcing her, as punishment, to stand at a busy intersection with a sign (pictured left) that says "I don't do my homework and I act up in school, so my parents are preparing me for my future. Will work for food." At least she isn't made to stand out in a snowstorm with no coat, like the little girl in Jane Eyre.. On the other hand, maybe this would have been a more suitable punishment for Martha Stewart. : - ) Just kidding.

Fall has fallen, and nary an orange leaf have I contemplated. Time flies when you're working insane hours and taking intercontinental day-trips : - )

The absurd back-drop: a video presentation, in each elevator bank, of 'Team ABN-AMRO' and its entry in Volvo's 2005-2006 sailing Race Around The World.'

We are all living the script of an indie movie. Literally.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Busy Bodies.... Getting Meaner...

That's an old Elvis Costello lyric. What a morning! : - ) I ran out to have my shoes shined (first time since May?), and was so enthralled by this New York Magazine article on open marriages and 'managed monogamy' among heterosexuals that I left my jacket there as I scurried back out into the warm weather. Happily, was able to retrieve jacket later when I realized this. The moral: Tip generously, or at least decently - you never know when you might need a karma 'booty call.'

Last night dined with Pat Stumpp at Rossini, a high-class, boisterous but intimate Italian eatery on E 38th St. We left satiated but not stuffed. In the window: a surprisingly long dedication and autograph from George Bush père and Barbara thanking Rossini profusely for an unforgettable dinner.

Finished a delightful indepedent film last night, "Me You and Everyone We Know" that is quirky and observant as it meanders back and forth between a handful of LA adults and children trying to connect with each other. The director and screenwriter is a performance artist named Miranda July, whose characters aspires both to performance art and to a connection with a frustrated shoe salesman in mid-divorce who's just set his hand on fire in protest. But it really is a sweet movie, in the end. : - )

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Danny and the Giant Peach

So I invited my smart, ever-taller nephew Danny, soon to be 12, to stop by my blog from time to time. It figures, all my inspirations this morning are hopelessly abstract and hard to understand. Well, Danny, at least you'll pick up some new vocabulary here. I'll try to include something fun for everyone, hence, my Giant Peach poster in French.

I've started 'reading' "The Hours," by Michael Cunningham, which is even more amazing and brilliant than the film it inspired. It's a thin book, but it's rich with insights and compelling characters and beautiful wordplay. Cunningham takes his inspiration, Virginia Wolff's stream-of-consciousness Mrs Dalloway, to many unexpected new places and plays out her themes among late-1990s gay New York artists. What a treat - every sentence is a jewel.

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Gimme Something Reel

Back into the fray I go....My workload is dizzying, and the next four weeks are an obstacle course on a minefield. But I'll rise to the occasion... Be it ever so humble... Nice visit with my family in Arizona, though. Just realized we're entering Oscar season. As per my calculations, there are 12 films currently playing that could be considered for an acting, directing, or writing award, and another 2 available on DVD (Crash, the Upside Of Anger). This leaves 15 high profile rumored-to-be-prize-worthy debuts, of which 4 in November and 11 in December. Will I do the reverse of last year, when I saw the winners and nominees mostly after the awards, on video. How many of these 29 films might I see before the end of February if I put my compulsive mind to the task

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Sunny Family Interlude To Remember

It's been a nice family weekend. I've bowled (126!) with my nephew. We had an expensive Brazilian 'rodizio' dinner, you know, the kind with waiters that keep bringing different meats by your table until you cry uncle by flipping a chip over to its red side. It was odd to here Portuguese out here in the Sonoran desert.

Last night Mom and I watched, on DVD, 'An Affair to Remember,' which I'd never seen before. I'd always thought this Cary Grant Romance was a 30s or 40s film, but it's 1957 Technicolor©®... apparently the classic 'four hanky tearjerker/weepie/chick flick.' Wonderful film, with a bonus of scenes in a medieval Riviera village with a wise old French grand-mère.. Deborah Kerr impressed me - I haven't seen much of her oeuvre - but I was bowled over by 'Black Narcissus,' at the Powell/Pressburger retrospective in NYC back in spring.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

It's very sunny here! Greetings from Arizona's Valley of the Sun, aka suburban Phoenix, where I'm having an excellent visit with my family. Today I hung out with my nephew Danny, now 5'2", thinner, and almost 12 years old. We went bowling, and I scored a remarkable plethora of strikes and spares.

Wednesday night, after a 7 hour flight from NY to California, with delays and no food, I arrived exhausted and starving at 10pm to the Marriott, which, being under construction had.... no food......

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Friday, November 11, 2005

My Stinking Dinner Date : - )

Last night I dined with Brian, my ex & close friend, at Los Angeles' famed Stinking Rose, The Garlic Restaurant. We had garlic 'bagna cauda' for appetizers, literally mushy cooked garlic spread on bread, and finished off with garlic ice cream covered with garlic caramel topping. Oh well, wasn't expecting any romance this weekened, anyway... : - )

Happy Veterans' Day - did you know that November 11th was chosen because this is the day World War I ended on, in 1918, after lasting four years and taking 10 million lives. Happily, that was 'The War To End All Wars'....

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tomorrow is today! And it looks like an obstacle course. With my report still not quite finished, I have some 'splainin' to do, as Ricky Ricardo said - but at midnight last night I made the right decision. Now I just have to write a mini-presentation before 2:30pm, when the car will take me to Newark. Oh, and I have to shower, pack, and get out of here in 37 minutes. Happily, I can nearly do this blindfolded by now. Later....

ps - Go Dems!

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

this week on Oprah: 45 year olds insane enough to work until midnight on banking deals...

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Vortex! Pressure chamber! It's going to be a late night, as I scramble to finish a important report on a tight deadline. Happily, that entitles me to share in the takeout sushi my banker pals downstairs are going to order. Tomorrow afternoon I'm off to LA for five meetings, dinner with Brian, and then a short flight to Pheonix to hang with my family for three days, returning Sunday to New York.

I got a sharp haircut. My stylist told me her friend's daughter was sued by the music industry for illegally downloading songs, perhaps for as much as $10,000. This is the first actual person I've heard of that's been sued. I, of course, buy all my music legally, sometimes through paid downloads, sometimes on CD, from amazon.com.

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OK, I finished "Spellbound," and it isn't dull, despite its subject. So many obscure words in our English language - what's the point of correctly spelling 'kirtle,' anyway? Actually, I did know the winning word - logorrhea - 'a stream of incoherent, excessive talkativeness.' Now how did I know that?

Today is Election Day. But I'm working 24/7, I have to replace my missing reading glasses, desperately, Ferrer will just have to lose without me.

One advantage of working 11 hour days under extreme pressure is not reading the news obsessively. It's perverse, but I'm happier not knowing, sometimes. I'd rather focus my free time on music, books, movies, friends, and dating... : - )

And, oh yeah:

kirtle noun
1 - kirtle - a long dress worn by women
2 - kirtle - a garment resembling a tunic that was worn by men in the Middle Ages

Do you feel more enlightened, now?

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Grrr. Yawn. Stretch. Last night, my friends Bart & Ashley made me a delicious autumn dinner at their lovely, old-school Park Slope apartment. Juicy and flavorful turkey breast, enough to give that dish a good name again, stuffing, and peas.. and the piece de resistance: an apple cake that just melted in my mouth with its autumn spices. Aromas and textures like a New England childhood I wished I'd had....

This is not me this month....

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Sunday, November 06, 2005

What Does It Spell?

Shorter, sweeter days. If you blink you miss the sunlight. Admittedly, I've been lost in 90s music, my hobby as music curator.

And may I ask you? What was your best moment of the 1990s, meaning something that happened in between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 1999? Tell me, I won't post the results...

I saw the documentary 'Spellbound' and I was less enthralled than many film enthusiasts of my acquaintance. And a saw a preview for a film of a novel about a girl entering a spelling bee. Spelling is not very compelling! In many other languages, a spelling bee would sound bizarre - because these languages are pretty much written as they're pronounced. French is not one of these - I wonder if the French have spelling contests?

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

My Soul and My Blog-spiration

Half-empty? Half-full? See a good movie Saturday at 11am and you'll walk out at 1pm feeling like the weekend is infinite and full of life. Take refuge in an artistic project. It's a pretty day. But then the sun sets at 4pm, and breaks your heart...

Well, at least it was an amazing movie, 'The Dying Gaul,' Craig Lucas' (center of picture) intense and suspenseful relationship triangle story that spins to unexpected places. At the center is a bereaved gay scriptwriter - the extremely cute Peter Saarsgard (right), whose script - and sex- are pursued by a bisexual producer (Campbell Scott, above) whose artsy and sad wife (Patricia Clarkson, left), is also drawn in.

This becomes very riveting, very fast, a psychological game stepped into by accident, with anonymous on-line interchanges paralleling the story. Hard to explain, but hard to forget. Go see it.

Otherwise, I'm hard at work on my ambitious musical curating project - a 90s box set, by genre, trying to get one's hands around a very diverse, fragmented, niche decade. Stay tuned...

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Microbrews : - ) It's still exam crunch week, though I somehow managed to sneak in 8 hours of sleep - we adjourned earlier than expected, and I blew off a free sushi dinner in favor of sweet dreams. More tales to tell lie ahead...

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Now the royal rush commences in earnest... Pay-up time in endless meetings and an avalanche of work due ASAP. Yesterday was a pleasant, if underslept, day in transit, capped by a wonderful concert. I saw singer/songwriter/gay icon Rufus Wainwright at historic Beacon Theater up on 74th & Broadway, with my friend Fernando. Amazing show, details to follow.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Ruins Of His Hometown

Not an Iraqi, an Afghani, or a Sudani among burned out buildings, destroyed lives, and misery - it's Michael Moore, 17 years and 100 pounds ago, surveying the devastation that blighted Flint, Michigan, his hometown, when General Motors, which was born there, closed 11 factories, fired 30,000 people, and dealt a death blow to the city's economy and community from which it has never recovered. In his 1988 classic, "Roger and Me," with Roger being the then CEO of GM that wielded the ax, Moore finds the humor and absurdity, juxtaposing films and outtakes of GM in the era when a different social contract reigned that cast GM as father and provider of a town which returned this devotion, celebrated it. I could - and shall - write many posts on this film, which raised many thought-provoking issues. If these shutdowns were inevitable, did anyone see them coming far enough in advance to diversify Flint's economy? Could it have even been done? Attempts to build tourism and entertainment after GM pulled up stakes failed miserably - notably, 'AutoWorld,' a $100 million theme park that closed in 6 months, and a Hyatt Convention Center whose franchisor went bust in two years. Apparently economic tragedy isn't a big tourist draw (though Chernobyl pulls in big crowds, I hear..) And now, I must pack for Mexico.

And since you asked, my 21st trip to Mexico (most for any foreign country), my 51st to Latin American, and my 94th trip overall. This trip will bring me just 4 days short of having spent 3 years (or 6.5% of my life) outside of the US of A.

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