Monday, January 30, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me

Aaron had a very happy birthday! In 2006, turning 46, as well as in 1962, turning two (pictured below). The party was yesterday afternoon, with close friends, wine, apples, cake, and breakfast cereal.

Today I had to make six customer presentations but was thankfully exempted from dinner and can get a decent night's sleep... Last night, after the party, I had to work for six hours on the presentation and another important project. Busy, busy, busy. Tomorrow at 8:30am: Oscar nominations! Woo hoo! This week will take me to Philadephia, Hartford, Boston, and Los Angeles, probably leaving Wednesday and flying home on Saturday. More later....

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Sunday, January 29, 2006


Now, guess which movie I saw yesterday & this morning? : - ) Hey, if cinema's magic can make straight people care about gay love, the same magic can make me care about a boxer (or Syria or geishas or racist cops or unscrupulous best-selling novelists). Russell Crowe was utterly convincing, as always, right down to the perfect Jersey Depression-era accent and body language. As an artsy sports-averse gay man I even had a big benefit watching this movie: I had no idea whether he became champion or was killed in the ring - the suspense was very high. Or course, I must admit that, at age 22, I went to see "Ghandi", and I was shocked out of my skin when he was shot dead - I never knew before he was assassinated. I also missed that movie's first three minutes, obviously, since he's killed right away and then it's a flashback. Hey, in "Sunshine," I got up to pee and missed World War One...

My birthday party's today! Woo-hoo! I should really go shopping - it's in 90 minutes!

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Talented Black Faces, Unfamiliar Places

Sorry my posting's been so spotty this week, I'm under a lot of pressure to get this presentation together. My birthday party is tomorrow afternoon, too, which I'm hosting. I saw a pair of interesting and unusual films. "Hustle & Flow" indelibly sketches the predicament of a pimp who dreams of being a rapper, and places you smack in the middle of bitch-smacking, whore-parading, curse-word-flinging inner city reality. It's not a comfortable place for me, but art's purposes include stretching your boundaries, so I did. Lead actor Terence Howard adeptly sketches a man fallen into bad habits, who dreams of better, and who must risk breaking his only eggs to pursue that grand omelette that may never happen. There's a violent undercurrent throughout the film, anger offsetting humanity, it's an eye-opener, not far from a daily reality I'm (thankfully) insulated from.
"Monster's Ball" is far less raucous but earns its moments of searing intensity, as unexpected deaths devastate lives, and broken people stagger onwards into unexpected changes. The principals are excellent, notably Billy Bob Thornton as a corrections officer, Heath Ledger (of 'Brokeback') as his depressive co-worker son, P Diddy as aa death-row inmate bound for the chair, and best of all, Halle Berry, who deservingly won Best Actress for playing the executed man's widow, who faces further tragedy and tentatively becomes Thornton's lover in her grief.

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Happy Birthday, Erik

Quote Of The Day:
"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." - Alfred Hitchcock

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Never Can Say Goodbye

That's how I feel about this damn cold/bug/flu/whatever that I've now had for two weeks. I get to feeling 90% better, but that last 10% is a rough, slippery climb - this morning it seemed to slip back down toward 80% as my poor lungs started moaning 'cough, Forrest, cough....' Oh, well.

I'll have more to say on more interesting subjects later. Pictured left, Gloria Gaynor, known in the 70s as 'Queen of the Discos' before Donna Summer snatched her crown. Gaynor sang the definitive version of 'Never Can Say Goodbye' in 1974, and it was one of the first disco songs to be forced on the radio because of requests by club-goers, many of them gay, black, or both. It was, of course, a remake of a tepid old Jackson 5 hit, but Gaynor blew it away. Much later, in 1986, a young gay British singer named Jimmy Sommerville put his own stamp on the song, again through the clubs, for once a gay man singing about our lives, instead of our projecting it into female divas covertly...

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Sunday, January 22, 2006


I saw 'Transamerica' this morning with friends, a considerable pleasure that overshot my expectations. I was prepared a strong performance by Felicity Huffman in an otherwise weak movie, and found myself loving the film. It's basically a cross-country road trip of discovery with a pre-op transsexual and the street hustler son she unknowingly fathered 18 years ago while still a male. He thinks she's a church case worker, and needs a ride out West. Huffman must now face this loose end before getting authorization for the surgery, to her dismay, and the results are humorous in ways both disturbing and touching. She must discover her inner parent and confront her actual parents, who are well-meaning but also monstrous. Kevin Zegers is excellent as the abused, jaded son, who on some level still needs affection. He also looks very hot in his underpants. I felt very, very engaged with the characters and the film. Excellent direction and script from first-timer Duncan Tucker.

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Saturday, January 21, 2006

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Bad idea... (see below)

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

Aaron's Oscar Land Rush

I'm back to work and mostly better, having spent 5 days in bed watching 15 movies, most of them Best Picture Oscar Winners - I've now seen 72 of the 78 films that have earned this honor since 1928. And I intend to see the remaining 6 by Monday: Netflix is sending Going My Way (1944), The Great Ziegfeld (1936), and Broadway Melody (1929). The remaining three I will try to rent on VHS tonight at TLA on 8th St. These are: Wings (1928, the only silent winner), Cimarron (1931), and Cavalcade (1933).

Cimarron was the first of only two westerns to win Best Picture - none of the 'classic' Westerns ever did win, and the second winner was Clint Eastwood's revisionist Unforgiven in 1992. So if, as I expect, Brokeback Mountain becomes the 2005 winner, it will only be the third Western to win, and revisionists will outnumber traditionalists 2:1.

Cimarron is known, in particular, for a very realistic Oklahoma Land Rush scene - a gun was fired, and tens of thousands rushed across the border to claim the government's offer...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Happy 2nd Blog-a-Versary

Hey Hey, I'm back at my desk, nearly nearly recovered. Resurrected.... and.....
Here's my very first post, from January 18, 2004, in black-and-white:

Sunday, 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

# posted by Aaron @ 7:44 PM

Back to Today, Some Cartoon Humor:

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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Climb Every Mountain

I'm still recovering. I hope to return to work tomorrow morning. I'm real, real happy that 'Brokeback Mountain' (pictured left) won Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Song at the Golden Globes last night. And with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Felicity Huffman winning Best Actor and Actress for playing a gay writer and and pre-op transexual. We've come a long way, baby... When I was 14, I felt like the only gay person in the world - we were just absent from the media, public life, and open discussion.

Just watched currently watching "An American In Paris," which won Best Picture in 1951 - it's a fluffy, thin-plotted confection that's pretty much an excuse for some glorious singing and dancing by Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in a Paris which is beyond postcard-perfect - at least a postcard would have some connection to workaday physical reality - this Paris is movie-set-perfect cliché 6 tons of charm per square inch Paris, filmed in Technicolor©®. For the final 17 minutes it leaves reality completely for a mini-ballet extravaganza with stunning set design, costumes, and coreography.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Out Of Order :-(

I'm still out of commission, my throat a-sore and a-scratchy, way up into my ears. My doctor informed me that traveling for work tonight was not an option, resulting in my first-ever business trip cancelled due to illness. It would have been Mexico 23, a repeat of Mexico 22 (see last week), which is how I got sick to begin with. I still have plenty of work to do from my bed, though I'll probably stay home tomorrow, too...

Golden Globes tonight, probably a historic sweep for 'Brokeback Mountain.'

I continue to watch Oscar-winning old movies - last night I finally saw 1955's "Marty," wherein two shy, lonely, homely people stop being the first two of those adjectives. Our homely hero is Ernest Borgnine, later McHale of the 50s TV service sitcom "'McHale's Navy'" - two years earlier he played a sadistic military prison warden in 'From Here to Eternity."

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

In Bed With Aaron & Oscar

The blogger has been ill for some time now, in bed, mailining old movies on DVD. For you young folks, mainlining was 70s slang for injecting drugs into your veins. Some thirtysomething asked me recently what mailining was. Sheesh.

I've been watching Best Picture Oscar winners. I've seen 6 in the past three days, nearly 15 hours of film-watching. I'd rank them, in order of artistic merit:

1. On The Waterfront (1954) - A+ - Gripping, gritty, grainy tale of corruption and conscience - perhaps Brando's finest hour - what facial expressions! what body language!

2. Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) - A+ - Coming home from war ain't easy. Dead-honest portrait of three returning servicemen facing re-adjustment problems, this film's unflinching take on class, disability, and relationships is far ahead of its time.

3. The Lost Weekend (1945) - A- - A trip to hell in the skin of an alcohol addict - how low you can go..

4. Hamlet (1948) - A- - Laurence Olivier directed and starred, cut out an hour of dialogue, and made the play more immediate and urgent on film - using cinema's specific tools of close-ups, location shots, and orchestral soundtrack...

5. How Green Was My Valley (1941) - B - Childhood memories of a Welsh mining town, masterfully re-created with sympathy for the plight of desperately hungry working men devoured by the wheels of industry (the world seems more complacent today about capitalism's nastier side-effects). Lots of singing and pathos, a crippled boy and star-crossed lovers. Plucking those heart-strings.

6. Gentlemen's Agreement (1947) - B- - Gregory Peck plays a journalist who pretends to be Jewish to get a story on anti-semitism and learns what thoughtless, cruel, scared rabbits we mortals can be. Well-meaning, but often feels contrived and preachy - odd that no great film of the day looked at the plight of African Americans with equivalent scrutiny... I should also admit that I've rarely been victim to anti-semitism, growing up in post-60s Jewish New York, whereas my parents were exposed to far more of it, during the era in which this film was made.

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Saturday, January 14, 2006

The blogger is ill today. In bed, watching old movies...

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Like A Woodpecker With A Headache

That's how I feel as a financial analyst with near-laryngitis level sore throat. I need my powers of verbal persuasion today. Ugh. It's my Woody Woodpecker song.....

I finished "My Fair Lady" last night, which was the 1964 Best Picture Oscar Winner. Marvelous production, acting, visual feast, and of course the songs are catchy and clever. But I can't help feeling, in 2006, that Professor Higgins is somewhat of a self-obsessed, chauvinist ass. : - ) Why on earth did Eliza return to him? I would have married Freddy, the cute enamored lad who sings 'On The Street Where You Live'

Another first: Last night, for the first time, I downloaded a TV program from iTunes and watched it on my computer. It was the Season 2 opener of "Lost."

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Major crunch time again. I have literally hours to focus and overhaul a 240-page presentation, and I am sick as a dog : - ( Medicate, medicate, medicate. On the plane home I saw "Bridge on The River Kwai," 1958's Best Picture Oscar winner, which was far more interesting and less predicatable than I expected. It's two movies in one - first, a battle of wills in a Japanese prisoner of war camp between the imprisoned British commander and his Japanese 'host' - the second, an edge-of-seat thriller as a team of allies parachutes in the jungle to blow up the railway bridge, being built by the prisoners. The film's portrayal of its characters' moral ambiguity is decades ahead of its time - no black and white characters or issues, everything complex and slippery.... Oh well, back to work....

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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Just got back from Mexico, about three hours late... We had to, uh, er... refuel? in Houston... long story. my throat's very scratchy, and sick days are not an option. must sleep 9 hours. And I have to go back to Mexico again Monday...

Lather, rinse, repeat....

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Dinner At The President

Four whole hours of it. It's past midnight. Just back from a lively, delicious, but slightly exhausting dinner. After nine hours of presentations about this secret project, the whole team dined at "Palm," one of the classy restaurants at Hotel Intercontinental Presidente Mexico City (pictured left). Fittingly, there's a plaque indicating the many heads of state that have stayed there. I had mixed salad, swordfish, and string beans. Much earlier in the day, I treated myself to tortilla soup, an epiphany of delicate and spicy flavors and interesting textures - rich spiced broth over tortilla strips with dried hot peppers, scallions, cilantro, etc. Authentic Mexican Cuisine is among the world's finest - too bad most Americans think they eat tostadas and burritos...

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Arrived in Mexico City last night - watched no less than 6 episodes of Lost on my portable DVD player - a veritable Lost-a-thon. Today will be a very, very long day and my throat's a little sore.. Pictured left: our hotel, the Four Seasons Mexico City - I have a view of the inner court

Further to yesterday's post on the farthest point on earth from where you are, my friend David sent me the following from

How do you find an antipode or point on the opposite side of the earth?

The antipode is the point on the opposite side of the earth from another point - the place you'd end up if you were able to dig directly through the earth. If you try to dig to China from most places in the U.S., unfortunately you'd end up in the Indian Ocean.

Take the latitude of the place you want to find the antipode of and convert it to the opposite hemisphere. For example, we'll use Memphis. Memphis is located at approximately 35° North latitude. The antipode of Memphis will be at 35° South latitude.

Then, take the longitude of the place you want to find the antipode of and subtract the longitude from 180. Antipodes are always 180° of longitude away. Memphis is located at approximately 90° West longitude so we take 180-90=90. This new 90° we convert to degrees East and we have our location of Memphis' antipode - 35°S 90°E - in the Indian Ocean far to the west of Australia.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Mexico 22

I'm a man on a mission today, and will fly 2,094 miles (3,370 kilometers) to Mexico City (pictured left) for a two-day special project. This will be my 22nd trip south of the border, my new record for number of visits to one country. I am not counting my two-hour misadventure cross the border at El Paso/Juarez last month. This will also be my 62nd business trip, my 53rd trip to Latin America, and my 96th foreign trip overall.

My record for trip length, btw, is 10,148 miles to Indonesia on business. The furthest city on Earth one to can fly from New York? Perth, on Australia's west caost, is 11,362 miles. The furthest anyone can travel on Earth from any point? Easy! 12,450 miles, or half the Earth's circumference. From New York, that would be a point in the Indian Ocean about 1,000 miles southwest of Perth...

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Sunday, January 08, 2006

New York London Paris Munich

Everybody talk about... revenge... I saw Spielberg's "Munich" this morning with Peter and was impacted. This film tracks Israel's covert reprisal via assassination of the 11 terrorists responsible for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, which resulted in a dozen dead athletes at the Games of Peace. It raises many questions about the effectiveness of such reprisals, which only perpetuate a cycle of spilled blood and vengeance on both sides of the conflict. Another point is that playing the terrorists' own game erodes values and humanity and turns decent people into killers. Like the "French Connection," this movie shows both sides of the law using the same tactics. Tony Kushner, the 'Angels of America' playwright, shares credit for Munich's thoughtful screenplay. "Munich" also works as an edge of your seat action movie/political thriller in many beautiful locations - Paris, Athens, London - a travelogue of blood. Spielberg has made an excellent and important movie here, one that deserves nominations for best picture, director, screenplay, and actor (Eric Bana astonishes as the mission leader), even though my vote would fall elsewhere in choosing the winners.

I ended the day in Park Slope with Bart & Ashley, feasting on Bart's mouth-watering pot roast and scrumptious cookies... Tomorrow, Mexico....

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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Movies, movies, movies, and more movies. Nice to see my good friends again. Almost didn't get to post today... more to come tomorrow, I promise...

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Friday, January 06, 2006

New Perspectives on the World

1. Where the People Are: World Map, with Countries weighted by Population

2. Where the Money Is: World Map, with Countries weighted by GDP (Size of Economy)

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Consider yourself... at home... From what great musical did I cull that line? Busy morning, shall post more later.. Happy Friday!

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Chennai? Yes You Chan. Anytime.

Brian is in Chennai, India (formerly known as Madras, photo left), and tomorrow he will be whisked away to a 21-day spiritual retreat! This program is run by the Oneness Movement at a campus near Chennai (photo right). From the site: "Sri Bhagavan and Sri Amma, twin-avatars and founders of the Oneness University have often said that the solution to humanity's suffering can only be found through Enlightenment. It is the mission of Bhagavan and Amma to bring this Enlightenment to all of humanity." Note that there is still space in their March 3-14 10-day Deepening Process if you're interested.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Back to work, back to reality...

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Good news... Mexico trip postponed, at least from tomorrow night. I really need to stay home for a while.... : - )

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Hello I Must Be Going.... or, Happy New Year Bon Voyage. Have just been informed by my employers that I must fly to Mexico tomorrow night for a two-day project..... Oh well, at least I can water my poor plants...

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Chez Carolina

We're here in rainy San Francisco, me and my pal Carolyn (pictured twice below) - I'm paying her a visit and setting up music for her iPod.

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