Sunday, October 31, 2010

All Hallows Even

Halloween never goes uncelebrated at our place, even more so since I fell for Halloween birthday boy JP... Here we are in our Vietnamese 18th century nobility costumes, purchased back in August in 21st century Vietnam...


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Happy Birthday JP!!!

I love you so much! Life is fleeting and fragile;
cherish it, celebrate it...

Let's celebrate with a JP-o-rama:

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

A Taste of Honey

How I loved Herb Alpert's instrumental of this classic in the 1960s..
but its lyrics are surprisingly good, and the Hollies' rocking 1969 version is well worth a listen....

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Doorman of Doom!

It's beginning to look
a lot like Halloween....

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Crash Test Dummies

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Street Food in Bangkok's Chinatown

From our vacation back in August, which now seems 1 million light years away as I wade through the pressures of earnings week and several live deals. The days are longer even as they get shorter...

I didn't actually eat any of this street food. It's the road less chewed and swallowed, I guess...

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Smiling Faces Sometimes

I wish my iPhone camera had a flash... or a zoom lens... JP and I dined with Christi back in September at lovely Chennai garden, and each of us had a different combination platter... I photographed those as well, and they came out sharper than these portraits..

The little green apple of my big brown eyes...

Friends, friends, friends, we will always be....

Don't know why I thought of the 1970 Motown single 'Smiling Faces Sometimes' by that one-hit wonder, The Undisputed Truth.. Here they are live back in the day...

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eat Grasshopper

Really! I flew up to Boston Sunday night ahead of yesterday's day of meetings with investors, and had the rare pleasure of dinner with my Bostonian friend Erik.
He took me to Somerville, about 10 minutes north of Boston, to 'Tu y Yo,' for perhaps the most authentic Mexican food I've had outside of Mexico! First up: "Empanadas de Chicharron de Chapulin," which are quite simply corn flour turnovers filled with fried grasshoppers!

It may sound horrifying, but it was thoroughly tasty. Grasshoppers after cooking are closer to salted snacks than insects, toasted to crunchy, salty, spicy perfection. With a lovely, mildly piquant green dipping sauce..

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Pretty, Chill, and Pretty Chill

This week, with one foot out the door for meeting in Boston, back again tomorrow to a week of chaos, this week I bring you the mellow sounds of Swedish indie dream-pop duo 'jj' and their lovely, tranquil 'Let Go..'

'jj' are also the call letters of TAM Brazilian Airlines!

'jj,' who prefer lower case, are Joakim Bnon and Elin Kastlander, and they curiously called their debut single 'jj no. 1' and their first two albums 'jj. no 2' and 'jj no. 3'

Here's the duo's pretty, artsy black-and-white clip for 'Let Go'...

The group's debut single, 'jj no.1 - my life, my swag,' is equally mellow but darker and more acoustic, is also a black-and-white clip..

Shocking -the twosome went to Kyoto and actually filmed a clip in color! It's 'My Little World On Fire'... This is a rare midtempo outing for this duo...

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Joy and Coconut Milk

DSC07967Last Saturday night JP and I had a dinner-and-movie date, some quality time together after some chaotic weeks. Think Barack & Michelle, only more frequently, and happily, my new job isn't that stressful..

Though our usual Thai standby is Regional Thai Taste, for spacious seating and reasonable portion of healthy-cooked food, for once we choose Royal Siam Thai Cuisine across the street on 8th Avenue. Royal Siam traffics in curried coconut milk. : - ) Consider it a caloric splurge. Hey, at least we ate it slowly. Here's one of our two dishes, Kang Keow Whan or sliced steak or chicken cooked with green curry, green peas, bamboo shoots and coconut milk.

Here's the New York Times take on Royal Siam: Royal Siam's generic décor of mirrored walls, Thai posters and glass-topped tables belie some of the most flavorful and attractively prepared Thai cooking around.

Coconut milk, by the way, is a sweet, milky white cooking base derived from the meat of a mature coconut.

The colour and rich taste of the milk can be attributed to the high oil content and sugars.

To make Thai curry sauce, the coconut milk is first cooked over fairly high heat to break down the milk and cream and allow the oil to separate.

Creamy goodness is also creamy badness: 100% calories from fat..

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Easy To Love

Comedy, like soufflé, is a delicate concoction, and all too often the batter's too thick, or the oven door is slammed, letting the air out of the soufflé-balloon. But when the comedy chefs get the recipé right, oh what a joy...

Case in point: 'Easy A,' which soars above its premise with arch dialogue, deft acting, and charming and quirky characters... While it's probably far-fetched, the likeable cast and smart script easily suspended my disbelief...

Emma Stone is luminous as Olive, a bright, sardonic teen who tells a white lie about a fling with a college kid, which goes viral and leads to all sorts of unintended consequences, as she morphs from unnoticeable to notorious.

'Easy A' derives some inspiration - but no plot - from 'The Scarlet Letter..' I won't spoil the fun for you, but I will complement the entire ensemble, especially Stanley Tucci and the always-excellent Patricia Clarkson as Olive's aging hippie parents, Thomas Haden Church as an arch, clever, and humane English teacher, Lisa Kudrow as a Church's flawed guidance-counselor wife.. The younger cast, who I mostly don't recognize, are mostly superb. I must go to bed, I've just eaten way too much Indian vegetarian food. More on that later..

'Easy A' has one of those trailers where you think you've seen the movie and all its jokes, but you really haven't.. the premise is a springboard for a fiesta of farce, a fireworks of wit...

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Words Of A Wild Poet

Want to see a film about a poet and his poetry? Not jumping and down with excitement yet? Thus was the challenge facing Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman when they wrote and directed "Howl," which explores Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsburg (pictured near left) and the fallout in the 1950s from his edgy, epic poem, also called 'Howl.' I saw the film last night (Friday I mean - yes, I'm retro-posting), and it is compelling. How did they do it? First, by casting the brilliant, protean James Franco (pictured far left) in the title role, an actor who so thoroughly melts into his characters that I'm not sure what he looks like in real life. Second, by using vivid, imaginative animation as a visual counterpoint to the poetry recitals. Third, by weaving together an interview with Ginsburg with the obscenity trial of Howl's publish, flashback images of Ginsburg's early life, and the live poetry reading/animation sequences.

This non-linear, contrastive approach is surprisingly good storytelling, and hearing parts of the poems several times - live, paraphrased at the trial, set against animation, mentioned in the interview - allows you to contemplate the meaning without compromising the storytelling and discovery.

This is very, very well-done. Franco's cast-mates are deftly chosen, notably Mad Men star Jon Hamm as defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (who inspired Perry Mason!), Bob Balaban as a thoughtful judge, the awesome David Strathairn in the unsympathetic district attorney role, Mary-Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels as the state's rather unctuous and sanctimonious 'cultural experts.'

The men in Ginsburg's life (he was gay) are also well-casted, but mostly act in flashbacks, where they act with body language and voice-overs from correspondence or memoirs. They Aaron Tveit (the original teen boy in 'Next to Normal') as his life partner Peter Orlovsky (the real Orlovsky is pictured left with Ginsburg a la 'John and Yoko) and Todd Rotondi as Jack Kerouac, on whom Ginsburg had an unrequited crush.

Check out the trailer, which gives you a good feel of the film it promises..

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fess Up

From Immaculate Conception Monastery Church in Jamaica, Queens, the day of Jeannie's wedding. Ye Olde Sign beckons you to 'fess up...

Uppers, lowers, and even en español... Reflected, from right to left: JP, me, and our friend David I.

Outside all was bathed, drenched in resplendent sun against a sky of brilliant blue hue... Note the church's email address, very 21st century. I'll bet even on 'Facebook and The Twitter,' as Betty White would say..

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Neon Surrounds Us!

Back in July, strolling through the neon-lit shop-lined Saigon streets, I lamented the relative rarity of neon back home. How wrong I was! Why, in just a one block stroll to Bombay Talkie, three weeks ago when Emerson visited, we encountered three fine examples of neon-us Americanus...

I'm not sure this is actually neon, but it is an intriguing sign.. This is some sort of playhouse or gallery space a few doors down from us on West 23rd St.

Our excellent local endangered species, er, I mean video store! I always want to say Alvin Ailey instead of Alan's Alley. Hey, as long as Netflix keeps sending scratched, skipping disks, they're probably safe.... I don't know, when streaming becomes a reality..

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ice Wash Car Cream

Mixing it up... Out in Bellerose, in one and the same shop, you can have an ice cream sundae while the staff washes your car!


Oh, the places you'll go! The marvels you'll see!

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Monday, October 18, 2010

The Triumph of (Muscular) Twee

Today's song, 'I Want The World To Stop,' is from a favorite band of mine, Belle and Sebastian. I've been waiting nearly five years for new music from them, and it was indeed worth the wait. For 14 years, Belle and Sebastian have been plying their trade of intelligent, witty, wistful, melodic, mid-60s-tinged 'twee pop' to the delight of critics and a growing cult fan base and occasional, modest UK commercial success..

Hailing from Glasgow, Belle and Sebastian are a septet led by by Stuart Murdoch, who now 'vastly appreciates' the piano lessons his parents forced him to take as a child. Murdoch's lyrics are subtle and often sexually ambiguous though he's self-described as 'straight to the point of being boring.

Murdoch overcame a long bout of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in the mid-1990s and formed the Belle and Sebastian with former member Stuart David at a college music studio and recorded their debut on a shoestring.

The band conquered the critics with their second outing, 'If You're Feeling Sinister,' in 1996, and each subsequent album was endeared them further to both critics and fans. I am latecomer to the group, for me it was their last album, 2006's 'The Life Pursuit,' that won my heart by upgrading the production values, which for me transformed great songs into amazing recorded music.. The result was an album full of memorable singles, the triumph of adding musical muscle to the wise lyrics and pretty melodies...

Here's the video clip for today's song 'I Want The World To Stop,' basically a filmed live studio performance.

Now, a trio of lovely clips and unforgettable songs from the band's aforementioned last outing in 2006. First up, the Motown-esque (in music if not in lyrics) 'Funny Little Frog..'

Next up from 2006, the foot-tapping, oft-hilarious cautionary tale that is 'White Collar Boy'.. you've got egg on your shirt!

I may never visit a laundromat without remembering this third song from 2006, 'The Blues Are Still Blue'..

And now, a taste of the band's less-produced but equally lovely and ingenious pre-2006 sound. Here's 'Step Into My Office Baby..' from 2003's 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress..'

Further back, from 2001, the charming black-and-white clip for a non-album single, 'Jonathan David'..

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Saturday, October 16, 2010


It doesn't roll of the tongue like 90210, and its function baseline Long Island suburb vibe is eons away from the sun-basked glam of Beverly Hills.
It was my zip code for 8 years (cue up kid in 2030: 'Mom, what's a zip code?'). They were mostly my teen and pre-teen years, after which I split for college and never really looked back. My Mom and sister, though, called it home for over 30 years. It is East Meadow, NY. As displayed in this rather rudimentary stencil on a painting company truck. Wouldn't you think a painting company would paint their name a tad more elegantly? : - )

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Never Give Up!

No, I haven't given up my blog, in case the recent paucity of posts had you wondering...

On Wednesday, right before leaving the ear doctor, who was working to unstuff my wax-and-fluid blocked hears, I fainted and fell down, hitting my head on the floor.

Happily, I am OK, not even a concussion. But this we did not know on Wednesday morning, and I was pretty shaken up and dizzy, so off to the ER for a 9 hour visit, tests, precautions, and background mayhem. I was able to resume work the next day, but I've been understandably taking it easy..

My congested ears are stubborn, but antibiotics and rest will slowly win the day... Hopefully, before my Boston customer visits mid-week, as I'd rather not have to take the train there and back... Pictured here: in Spanish, he's my 'tocayo'; in Portuguese, my 'xara' (pronounced sha-RA); that means 'person with the same name,' and I'm referring to the character James Franco is playing, Aron Ralston, the hiker and daredevil so determined to live that he cut off his own arm to survive. Poor guy - he'd already lost the second 'a' in Aaron. I do greatly admire him. Survive, baby. And, with one-arm, Ralston still climbs mountains! He even climbed Denali! The film, by 'Slumdog Millionaire' Best Director-winner Danny Boyle, blew critics away at film festivals and gets released November 5.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Of Two Rivers

10-10-10. at 10:10pm. All day Sunday I was a boat riding down the river of Jeannie's wedding, which began mid-afternoon at Immaculate Conception in Jamaica, wound through the Triple Crown diner and Hershey's Car Wash/Ice Cream Parlor, and finally streamed into the festivities high above Flushing Meadows at Terrace On The Park.

Ah, but we weren't the only Big Colorful Wedding... In a rainbow of colors and fabrics, a Nigerian couple tied the knot in the other main salon...
This is stock footage... My camera did record some of it, which you'll see later on, but was working only sporadically Sunday, and captured no Nigerians..

And here's Terrace on the Park. An obstacle course of caloric damnation that began in Brazil and continued through a smattering of high-end Manhattan eateries with Mom finally touched down in a hexagon of hors d'oeuvres with flowers of white chocolate and lemon sorbet (in a real frozen lemon) to clear the palate...

And now, normalcy, if the oft-creative chaos of my work environment passes for such. Well, at least I'll have seen Rosemary this morning, who'll no doubt dislodge my every care...

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Time to clean house! I've become my right ear... It's stuffed up and something of a distraction.

Only Rosemary Desloge can help me now... Tomorrow, 9am...

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Monday, October 11, 2010

They Who Say Yea

This week's song (O.N.E.) and artist (Yeasayer) are equally hard to categorize; like The National last week, they are Brooklyn-based, but there the resemblance ends.. Sometimes a quartet or a quintet, Yeasayer's sound is a caleidoscope of genres and elements they once described as 'mid-eastern psychedelic snap gospel. I'm not so sure; but today's song shows the group seamlessly blending rock and eletronica, shifting tempos and textures. The vocal recalls is halfway between Erasure's Andy Bell and the vocalist Bell was intended to replace, Yaz's Alison Moyet; that is, plaintive and emotional; vocalist Chris Keating said he aims to be 'experimental but clubby and as catchy as Rihanna..'

Yeasayer's acclaimed debut album, 'Tightrope,' was recorded in a tiny studio up in Woodstock, NY, and was inspired by their trip to New Zealand.

I don't often comment on album art, but maybe I should start to. At left: the cover of 'Tightrope' is a bust by artist Benjamin Phelan - a 'future of distorted biology' sculpted from 'virtual clay.''

I like their unconventional song structure, deft genre-mixing, emotive singing... a very distinctive creative combo...

Here's the clever, ebullient video clip for 'O.N.E.'...

Their other recent single is also unconventionally structured but very hooky, with an artsy clip...

Yeasayer live, in-studio at KEXP, playing 'Sunrise'...

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Risotto and Robitussin

Last night after a long work day my Mom & JP met me at my office and we had a sumptuous Italian meal at Cellini's, around the corner on E54th in between Park & Madison.

Quintessential professional experience: having an exquisite meal and being too exhausted and ill to fully savor it.

I had Risotto Pescatore, cooked to perfection with shellfish and broth. Mom had Veal Scaloppine prepared as Pheonix can only dream of. JP had scrumptious, Italian-kissed cod with vegetables, capped off with Tiramisu.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010


I'm back to to the grind, suffering from a headcold and an obstacle course of publication deadlines....

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Monday, October 04, 2010

My Cousin

I miss my Cousin Rich..


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Sunday, October 03, 2010

Dark National

As I groggily readjust to New York (so I assume, I'm actually posting this way in advance), I bring you a Really Important Group (emphasis intended), the critically acclaimed The National.

This Brooklyn-based quintet plies their craft of smart, dark songs sung by the smart, dark baritone of Matt Beringer, and churns their diverse influences (Wilco, Springsteen, Joy Division) into something darkly unique. Beringer is flanked by two sets of brothers, one of which (Aaron and Bryce Dessner) spearheaded the 'Dark Was The Night' indie charity album in early 2009, which raised over $1m for AIDS research. They all met at University of Cincinatti. Beringer previously spent 5 years in a band named after his Mom (Nancy).

And, now, the group has made the leap from 'much-admired' to 'a terrific listen' with their recently released fifth album, 'High Violet.' Case in point: today's song, 'Conversation 16' is a riveting, compelling tune, darkness and all. The National's debut was described as 'a dozen picture-perfect Americana bar-soaked gems' that 'trod the delicate line between roots-pop and alt-country.' I don't think I'd pigeon-hole them that narrowly, their 'roots' and 'Americana' is filtered through lyrics as intriguing and cryptic as those of REM (with a much stronger, if, well, darker, vocalist...) Final note: the band campaigned for (poor, beleagured) President Obama, with wide use of their song 'Fake Empire.'

Note that 'Conversation 16' is not the lead-off single from 'High Violet'; that honor went to 'Bloodbuzz, Ohio,' and here's that excellent clip:

Now, a quick walk through the group's memorable videos. From 2007's 'Boxer,' 'Mistaken For Strangers...'

Also from 2007, 'Apartment Story...' This clip, filmed in Brooklyn with the band's family and friends, aimed to capture 'the sweet but awkward vibe of a wedding reception or singles mixer'

The group's first video was 2005's very rocking 'Abel'.. 'Abel come on, give me the keys now...'

Also from 2005, a lovely black and white clip for 'Daughters of the Soho Riots'.. I hear one indie fan used this as her wedding song!

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Theater Capital Of Latin America

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Friday, October 01, 2010

Back To Buenos Aires

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