Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day of the Dad

Another lovely lunch by Andrew and Michelle, served on beautiful FiestaWare®... It was Father's Day for our fast-growing godson, Bruno, and his proud Dad...

Main course: perfectly cooked fish and vegetables grilled in foil packets...
That really seals in the moisture. The greenery includes the long stems of garlic plants, adding flavor and unwieldy shape...

A large couscous dish with nuts, raisins, and feta... a crisp, tasty green salad with croutons...

Dessert by JP, a two-level chocolate cake, light and springy, with frosting just sweet and creamy enough...

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Center Holds

On Sunday Christi & I saw 'Please Give,' the wonderful new film by Nicole Holofcener.
Like her three previous films, it's an insightful character studies that's willing to venture beyond her characters' (and our) comfort zone, but always with a sense of humor. At center stage is Catherine Keener as the owner of antique furniture boutique that specializes in the furniture of the recently deceased, and who is renting the apartment next door to a 91-year-old woman with the idea of, when she dies, expanding her own apartment into it. More on this later... Here's the preview...

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Lovin' Spoon-ful

Today's Song of the Week is the haunting, restless, and lovely 'Mystery Zone' by Spoon, the Austin-based indie quartet that is one of the past decade's four or five best bands (up there with The Shins and New Pornographers).

Over 17 years, Spoon have crafted seven breathtaking, highly acclaimed albums of indie rock that is crisp and full of life... Spoon can sound haunting and experimental at one moment and channel the Beatles, Billy Joel or Hall & Oates the next. Spoon's visionary is its lead singer, guitarist, and principal songwriter, Brit Daniel, he of the protean, throaty voice.

Here's 'The Mystery Zone,' live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Electric..

'Nobody Gets Me But You' is another stellar track from 'Transference,' there most recent album...

Yet another great song, 'Who Makes Your Money, ' at El Cid in January, on the eve of their latest album's release..

The actual single off this last album is the challenging, muscular 'Written In Reverse...'

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Four Aarons of The Apocalypse

Here's a quartet of baby pictures from the middle of my first year...
I'm told these are still typical Aaron expressions. I very much love the antique brass frame and faded cardboard of yore... I'm told I sometimes resemble Harpo Marx, minus the wig, and as I watched 'Monkey Business' two weeks back I realized that's somewhat true...More on that later..

The expression 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' is of course from the new testament..
It was also a classical Spanish early 20th century novel about World War I by Vicente Blasco Ibañez that inspired a 1921 silent film with Rudolph Valentino Wallace Beery and a 1962 color talkie with Charles Boyer and Glenn Ford, directed by Vincente Minelli.. Here's a fragment of that 1921 silent..

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Anchors Aweigh

Here's an eerie photographic effect on some of our new artwork,
the Soviet movie poster of the 1968 Azeri film 'Man Drops Anchor,' about a sailor considering chucking his maritime existence and settling down.

Here's an
Azeri photo still from that film...

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Confessions of an Imaginative Mind

Chuck Barris (on the right, holding the Gong) was/is an outrageous person. The visionary behind 'The Dating Game' and 'The Gong Show' wrote an auto-biography in 1984 claiming to have moonlighted as a covert CIA agent! Highly unlikely, and Barris these days doesn't confirm or deny the veracity of this claim.. This deserved to be a movie, and who better to write the screenplay than surrealism specialist Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich", "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind"). We saw the movie yesterday and today, and it was a hoot! Barris is played by the talented, a-dork-able Sam Rockwell (on the left, in the leather jacket), who I saw on stage two months back in 'A Behanding In Spokane,' which starred Christopher Walken... Watch the preview:

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

All That Froth

Hey there. Just lost another pound! It's a long slog to get back to my pre-Europe-trip weight!
We started a great DVD movie tonight, 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind' based on the partly factual autobiography of game show king Chuck Barris... More on this to come..

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Milan Sonata

Last night I saw the acclaimed Italian film 'I Am Love,' with Bart, and was reminded that there's a movie theater one block from my work, a career first when I think about it!

It's a slow start, as astoundingly beautiful cinematography and haunting score are at first more immediately and intensely felt than the plot, which introduces us slowly to the Recchis, a wealthy, stylish Milanese family celebrating their grandfather's birthday. But several changes are set in motion by the grandfather's retirement and death, and the plot intensifies considerably at the halfway point and ends on a note of near-operatic pathos. Anchoring the film is a stunning performance by Tilda Swinton as the family's restless, Russian-born mother that is so convincing that at one point I utterly believed her not speaking a word of English.. The movie is eye-candy for armchair travelers, foodies, fashionistas, and admirer of either sex. It is ear candy for enthusiasts of Italian and/or contemporary classical composer John Adams.

Here's the preview:

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Clouds In My Sake

I had some dreams, they were clouds in my sake, clouds in my sake.. :-) with apologies to Carly Simon.
I love the cloudy, cold sake they serve at Gobo, that very creative vegetarian gourmet palace with branches in the Village and the Upper East Side...

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Dead-On Deadpan Delight

Today's snappy, hilarious Song (and video) Of The Week is the sardonic, damaged-hipster cool that is 'Drunk Girls,' chock-full of memorable lines and witty asides about nightlife and and mating game misfires.

Supplying this gem: the brilliant LCD Soundsytem, the dance-punk musical project of New York-based DJ/songwriter/producer James Murphy, who adds disco, experimental rock and other styles to punk & contemporary club to create unique, wondrous, intelligent grooves.

'Drunk Girls' hails from the group's brand new third album 'This Is Happening,' which like its two predecessors has won universal critical acclaim (the first two were also Grammy-nominated!); it will certainly be among the year's best albums...

Here's 'Drunk Girls' live at the Bonaroo Festival...

From their 2007 masterpiece 'Sound of Silver,' the drony, poignant, unforgettable 'Someone Great'...

From 2005, the riotous, deadpan 'Daft Punk Is Playing At My House...'

The song that launched LCD is 'Losing My Edge,' described as 'an 8-minute laugh-out-loud funny dissection of cool over a dirty electronic beat'...

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

It Means Little Sparrow

IMG_0832How I love Spätzle, the soft-textured egg noodle that perfectly rounds out any German meal... I first learned to love Spätzle as a boy when Mom would cook it occasionally as an extra-special side dish.

Up in Maine a week ago, I joined JP, his sister Jen, and her daughter Rachel at Richard's, Brunswick's much-admired purveyor of fine German cuisine. I had Schnitzel with my Spätzle, and green beans. JP & Jen went with the Sauerbraten...

Spätzle, in Swabian German dialect, is a diminutive of Spatz, sparrow, and thus means 'Little Sparrow...' This reminds me of a lovely Simon & Garfunkel folk song by the same name... It's social critique about lack of solidarity... Enjoy...

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

JP's Brussels Address!

In the world's oldest and classiest mall, the Galleries Royales St Hubert,
JP feels very much at home. A happy coincidence! Can't find anything about this store on the web, though...

St Hubert is a
glazed shopping arcade that launched a trend, the first of its kind, inspiring the more famous Galleria Vittorio Emmanuelle in Milan and The Passage in St Petersburg. It, in turn, is inspired by the Uffizi museum in Florence...Here are photos of the aforementioned Galleries:, starting with the Tunnel Effect:

Raise the roof! Pierce the ceiling! This project was conceived in 1835, only 5 years after Belgium was founded, and authorized in 1845. Construction began in 1846, lasted 18 months, and the 213 meter passage was
finally inaugurated June 20, 1847 by King Leopold..

The stately gatelies...
Bearing the motto 'Omnibus omnia,' or 'everything for everybody...' There's even a theatre inside, opened at the very beginning in 1847 and still going strong..

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Still My Hero...

After all these years... Four-year old Aaron fell in love and never fell out...I have no idea what, if anything, Underdog has to do with this truck driver, his business, or the initials TGE.....


Still My Other Hero(ine)

She takes a licking but keeps on ticking... The wonderful, terrible, cheesy, brilliant, flawed, lovely and unique life of Joan Rivers... I highly recommend the cinema verité documentary 'Joan RIvers: A Piece of Work..'

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Thursday, June 17, 2010


Uh-oh. Maybe I had a bit too much haute cuisine on our European trip. But don't worry - in a week or two, I'll exercise and diet my way back to fine form... Reminds me of that classic Honeymooners dialogue, in which Ralph tries to convince Alice to let him invest savings in some new hare-brained idea:

Ralph: "But Alice! This could be the biggest thing I ever got INTO!"
Alice: "The biggest thing you ever got into was YOUR PANTS..."

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We Are The World

Last week in Brunswick, Maine I dined at Richard's, a spacious, varnished-wood German eatery, that shares its building with the hybrid pub/cantina known as Pedro O'Hara's. That's a lot of ethnicity in one building!


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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Mound Therefore I Am

At Sarah's, a family restaurant in Wiscasset, Maine (JP's hometown), hundreds of soup recipés are rotated through the 'soup of the day'...
It's a bargain, but there's one catch. Sarah frowns upon 'mounding' the soup solids into a mini-mountain in the middle of your bowl. I found this terribly amusing last year, and this year asked her to just charge me, so I could mound to my heart's content. Oddly, I chose an un-moundable soup (a thin mushroom barley broth)...

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Don't Know Much

Swedish pop quartet Sambassadeur, who provide today's song, the sweet, lilting 'I Can Try,' are something of a mystery to me.

The group's based in Gothenborg, Sweden's second city, across the water from Denmark, and is led by the soft and hazy vocals of Anna Persson. They have a surprisingly skimpy Wiki-profile and the server of their main site is down...

Their influences range from classicist ABBA and Art Garfunkel to acclaimed alt-popsters Belle & Sebastian and Magnetic Fields. They've been plugging away for seven years, and 'European,' the album that grabbed my attention, is there third outing. The group's name comes from an old Serge Gainsbourg album track, les Sambassadeurs; I don't get the joke...

Our Song of the Week is not their single. That honor goes to the lovely, acousitc 'Days'...

Here's 'That Town,' a moody sepia video for a pretty and bouncy song from their 2007 second album, 'Migration'...

From their debut, a drawing-themed clip for 'Between The Lines'...

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pee, Interrupted

We didn't get to see the Mannekin Pis, Brussels' iconic peeing statue, 'in action'... Some sort of publicity or commercial was filming around it, captured below. The statue was, as always, wearing one of its hundreds of official costumes...


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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Relaxed and Happy

Aaron in the city of lights....


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Friday, June 11, 2010

Maine-ly Family

I'm spending the
weekend up in Wiscasset, Maine, visiting my in-laws! Here's JP's original artwork, portrait of the artist with his mother 20 years ago, and with his father 45 years ago...

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

They Know More

...about us, than we do about them. Here's evidence, a popular political poster from France...It criticizes President Sarkozy for his brilliant idea to fight unemployment:
work more days for the same amount of pay... At least that's how my French friend explained it.. I couldn't find much on Google, except (better) pictures of this poster. Yesterday was a very long day in Hartford... I didn't get home until 10:30pm... Three hours each way, riding in the rain...

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

In His Cute French Hat

JP at Versailles... Feeling ever better, back to normal. Today will be grueling. Big event in Hartford, five hours there, three hours travel each way. In a suit. Late night..


Lucille Ball, Dramatic Actress...

From 1938's 'Beauty For The Asking....

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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Signs of Life

I'm finally on the mend!
And I've uploaded a thousand or so pictures, so I have plenty of fuel for the blog. Today, I'm back with two separate posts (see below for the other one)! I was tickled by this flyer for a book signing in Paris. Notably, the words 'of' and 'the' are so tiny that at first it's hard to tell who's doing the annoying. Second, one sure way to annoy the French is to write your flyer in English...

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Lucy On The Screen With Murder

Before Lucille Ball was became a TV comedy legend she spent a decade as a starlet and glamour girl churning out movies as a Fox... She even starred in a noir, 'The Dark Corner..' Over the weekend we watched it, and she was quite credible herself. The problem is our associations with that face and that voice...
Check her out in thistrailer...

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Monday, June 07, 2010

Categorization: Impossible

Today's song is the remarkable 'Blueberry' by the hard-to-categorize UK quartet Late of the Pier, which, after a 15 second intro awash in distortion, turns into a lovely slice of late-Beatles psychedelia with a more jagged and modern rhythm track. The group's other influences are as diverse as glam rock, dance-punk, and alternative. Their song titles are unusual - 'Bathroom Gurgle, 'The Bears Are Coming,' and their video style is unorthodox... Enjoy.....

It was their fifth single, 'Blueberry,' that grabbed my attention...

'Bathroom Gurgle' showcases their lean dance-punk side, with synth squiggles but an oddly Queen-esque bridge...

'Heartbeat' morphs from drony intro to energetic new-waver to mid-70s rock-out -
the superb experimental-cinema video by Harry Lyndley was the winner of a competition the band held back in 2008...

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Paying The Piper?

My vacation break was great, but I got fairly ill this week upon re-entry, perhaps a combination of work intensity, climate variation, and stubborn refusal to rest...

Sorry about the spotty posting... I have quite a backlog of interesting photos and an-ec-dotes...

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Hitting The Ground Running

Glad I rested on my vacation... It's going to be a high-energy week...

Here's a lovely,
invigorating song by the legendary Ellie Greenwich...

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

It's All Good...

It was a lovely eight days, very unstructured and spontaneous. Long days winding our way through Amsterdam, Brussels, and especially Paris, savoring these cities' many, many charms...

And it's also nice to be home, in the comfort of one's own bed... My apartment feels enormous after a week in tiny European hotel rooms!

So now, deep breath, back to work.. Plus, a week of dieting to compensate eating those continental delicacies with wild abandon....

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