Friday, December 31, 2010


...and it feels so good! We're both finally home, and we exchanged gifts in the glow of our blue and white synthetic tree!


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Thursday, December 30, 2010

High Water Mark

The snow did pile up on the East Coast, and Rahway, NJ was among the most heavily blanketed places. Here's the view from the Bencsko's back door...


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making A Venezuelan Lunch

Deborah was sweet enough to offer us a homemade Venezuelan lunch a few weeks back, when we visited her and Elias up in Briarcliff... First, you start with some 'pulling pork'...

You then pull the 'pulling pork', resulting in 'pulled pork'... Then stew it a bit..

Then you start making the 'arepas' from ground corn dough...

From Wiki: The arepa is a native sort of bread, a flat round, unleavened patty made of ground corn, water, and salt which is fried into a pancake-like bread.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Day After

Blizzard came and blizzard went, with me 2,450 miles away, in sunny Arizona. I'll be back home Friday, and JP gets back Thursday... I hope there's some snow left. Here are some colorful stripes from SVA Fall 2011 Open House:

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Monday, December 27, 2010

E for Eccentric, Endearing...

...and for entertaining.... Happy Holidays to all, and, to my fellow East Coasters, Happy Blizzard!

But neither sleet nor snow can stop Song of the Week!

I'm so glad there's a terrific new record from those indie-mope-rock stalwarts, The Eels, mostly the brainchild of 'E', aka Mark Oliver Everett. 'Spectacular Girl,' the lead-off single, is one of his best 'romantic' tracks. Romantic, for him, is a girl who's like a ray of sunshine breaking into dark depression and conquering it..

Everett is a sui generis - one of a kind in the universe - he's made inspiring, wry, deeply felt art out of much personal despair and family tragedy, including the suicide of a schizophrenic sister, his mother's death from lung cancer, and a cousin flown into the Pentagon on 9/11... His sound "alternates between furious indefatigableness, black humor, and strikingly authentic desperation." One critic praised him thusly..."Excellent eponymous effort, energizingly eclectic. Early enthusiasm effectively ensures E's eminence."

Here's a fairly simple but strange clip for 'Spectacular Girl'...

And on with the Eels classics, starting with 'Novacaine for the Soul,' their anthemic and witty but despairing 1997 breakthrough. Many nice touches, including 5 seconds of sudden silence at 1:34...

Brilliant, kinoscopic video for their downbeat but whip-smart midtempo 'Your Lucky Day In Hell'..

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mice and Men

Get trapped, alas... The East Coast lies under 12-18 inches of snow, frozen in place without air, rail, or bus service... My sweetheart, snowed in at his folks in Maine, won't be coming to Arizona tomorrow... Ah, the best laid plans..

Speaking of mice and entrapment, here's more art from SVA's Fall 2011 Open House. This field of vintage white mousetraps is triggered to snap in a chain reaction if the 'alpha trap' is snapped..

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Ho Ho Ho! Good Will To All!

We just had Christmas dinner. My nephew Dan provoked general hilarity by offering me his camera to 'just get it over with' and photograph the Christmas meal for my blog. No need for that, however. I still have last year's photos! Here's Dan's plate, complete with ketchup on mashed potatoes! Have a great holiday everyone!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

South By Southwest

That's the name of an indie rock festival held each spring! (not S.X.S.W., as I used to mis-pronounce) It's also the direction I flew in yesterday, over the 2,450 miles that separate New York from my family in the eastern suburbs of Phoenix... Below is a prime area attraction, which I call Mormon Lights; it's the LDS annual Christmas display. This year my gay brethren protested across the street, due to LDS's anti-gay stance and funding of anti-gay-marriage efforts...

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sedona Smiling

No, I haven't given up blogging. Needed a rest. Today I'm flying over the US of A to spend the holidays with my family in Arizona. And here's Mom, my sister Deena, and Mom's friend Harriet, back in October, on a day trip to magical Sedona, in Central Arizona.
Sedona 2010 116

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


More SVA Open House art! This piece has 'angularity...'

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Eye Wish

I love School of Visual Arts (SVA) Open House! JP works there, and at each-semester end their 8th and 9th floors become giant mazes of art galleries.. On Saturday I had my semiannual stroll-through.. This eye here is very Twilight Zone, in my view...

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Monday, December 20, 2010

From The Techno-Human Divide

Today's song is the buoyant but on-edge 'Her Rotating Head' by New Zealand's one-woman band Bachelorette, the brainchild of Annabel Alpers. Bachelorette makes lush, eerie synthpop reminiscent of early Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark...

Alpers is 'fascinated with the mercurial relationship between technology and human connection.' 'Rotating Head' is a swirl of cascading harmonies and a lyrical indictment of how society demoralizes women: “Do whatever you want to her/ And she likes it that way/ She’s programmed to say/ ‘Objectify me’/ ‘Degrade and revile me.’ ’’ All this as pretty synths percolating along...

Easily distracted by cities, Alpers records her songs in the solitude of the woods, in a remote shack far, far from the technology that fuels her songwriting. Alpers studied music composition at university earlier in the decade, simply to have access to cutting-edge recording software she herself could not afford.

Here's the clever 'Rotating Head' clip...

science fiction and satire in a tanning bed dream: it's 'Intergalactic Solitude'...

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pop-Up Store

That's a temporary retail outfit that springs to life for a few weeks from a temporary retail outfit, only to disappear again from whence it came...
There's a space on 22nd and 8th that, while vacant, often displays gallery-esque art, but without the gallery or the access..
But my photo of that was nowhere near as beautiful as this lovely yellow confection by 'prioritaire'..

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

What This Was

I do not remember...
But it sure looked interesting at the time... It was at the bottom of the High Line's 20th street staircase, currently the northern border of the celebrated park-ette

Here's a
great photo by "prioritaire"
Let us sit still

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Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm Still Here!

I've been writing my little heart out at work, it's nice to come up for some air...

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just Desserts

Years ago I sat down in the outdoor section of a restaurant café and the waitress asked 'Are you here for dinner or just desserts?' I couldn't resist answering: 'I always knew I'd get my just desserts!' For today post, just desserts... Let's start with some tiny, flat biscottini!

We were visiting Deborah and Elias. She has a device that foams milk for caps and lattes... Did you know 'Just Desserts' is the name of a San Francisco-based chain of six bakeries?

It's been a cupcake kind of month! These Hannukah cupcakes are adorable, it white and blue Israeli colors!

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Getting Smart

This was taken 10 days ago, visiting our friends Deborah & Elias up in Briarcliff. JP and I look pretty spiffy here in our sweaters (which is fortunate, given this week's frigid weather)... JP has brought me not only connubial bliss but also vastly improved fashion acumen!

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Maya's Milestone

Maya turns 1 year old tomorrow, and on Sunday her kith and kin celebrated with a lovely mid-day get-together featuring felafel and cupcakes... Here's Maya and two of her dozen cousins...


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Monday, December 13, 2010

Putting On Your Levi

Today's SOTW achieves a rare feat: it is both arch satire and a memorable, very singable, well-constructed song.

I found this gem on 'Lonely Avenue,' a terrific collaboration between American singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ben Folds and best-selling British author Nick Hornby ('High Fidelity,' 'About A Boy').

It's 'Levi Johnston's Blues,' which relives that famous teenager's sudden predicament, ingeniously contrasting jazz-rock verses with an anthemic, mock-aggressive chorus taken right off Levi's now-defunct MySpace page: 'I'm a (bleeping) redneck, I live to hang out with the boys/ play some hockey, do some fishing, kill some moose...'

Ben Folds was the leader of Ben Folds Five; here they are live singing 'The Battle Of Who Could Care Less...'

Ben Folds' breakthrough song, 'Rockin' The Suburbs' from 2001...

Here's Ben performing 'Levi Johnston's Blues' live in Austin...

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Boulevard of Broken Umbrellas

We had a category five rainstorm here this morning, and it ate one of my giant umbrellas on the way up to Maya's 1st birthday party! But I wasn't alone, witness this trash can full of defunct rain protection. JP wisely opened his even nicer umbrella at a less windy moment..


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Friday, December 10, 2010

Sulfurous Fumaroles

I've never been to Vulcano Island, just 10 miles north of Sicily, but its fumarole (below) is strikingly beautiful. A fumarole is a vent in the Earth that emits steam and volcanic gases.

This is the 'Gran Cratere'. It's huge! That speck at the center of the crater is a tourist...

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Same Same But Different

...as they say in Southeast Asia.. Same day, two feet, two similar but different shoes...

The closer you get... ...the more it blends in.... at 6am, before my first coffee, it all blends together in my clouded consciousness..

There's actually a film called 'Same Same But Different'

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Mimi's Table

Mimi is a nickname for JP's Mom. and, here's a delicious and easy holiday dish courtesy of my future mom-in-law: string beans, condensed cream of chicken soup, and fried onions..

Colorful plate blurs the line between veggie and starch... orange squash, twice-baked potatoes, a dollop of the aforementioned string bean-cream of chicken concoction, and a perfectly grilled sirloin steak-ette...

Platter of mouth-wateringly juicy sirloin steak-ettes...

Dinner table set for the entire Forrest clan, including me!


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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

JP and Young Donovan

Donovan, son of our friends Joel and Eileen, is barely a year old and he's walking around with wisdom months beyond his age, but as yet unverbalized. Here he is near his Cape Elizabeth, Maine home with JP, the day after Thanksgiving


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Monday, December 06, 2010

Perfectly Pleasant Plinkety Plink

It's a light-hearted Sunday, and I'm really feeling the staccato plunkety-plunk of Javelin's 'On It On It,' near-instrumental electro-pop with maybe the tiniest pinch of hip-hop.

Javelin is a duo of playful producer-performers from Providence (avoid asinine alliteration, Aaron...), now based in the bustling borough of Brooklyn (I'm doing it again!).

Thomas Van Buskirk and George Langford.. Their much-lauded live show features colorfully pained boomboxes stacked like pyramids; they have often broadcast their show on FM transmitter, to foster audience participation.

Here's a fan video for our SOTW, 'On It On It'...

Here's their bizarre 'Soda Popinksi'...it's a fun video and song after the first 15 seconds...This is very clever animation from the Sea Shell Orchestra...

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Sunday, December 05, 2010

What's The Story?

Morning Moustache... The 23rd St 8th Ave subway stop has its own graffiti artist/defacer.. Here are Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, advertising their dramatic and comic turns, respectively, in the serviceable, crowd-pleasing 'Morning Glory'...


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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Hongie Kongie

That's how a Brazilian would call it, anyway... They just can't end a word with a consonant, at least when speaking!
After Indonesia, David's business trip continued in Hong Kong, now a subsidiary of China Inc. I first set foot there in 1996, the year before 'The Great Handover' from the British to the Chinese. I returned with my Mom in 2002, and it seemed unchanged... ..and not all in a good way. Shanghai seemed like a gleaming futuristic metropolis; in comparison, HK was a dusty backwater...

Here's a more artsy shot from David's room. Love that vase.. My Hong Kong hotel story is the Very Expensive Soup. I ordered 'Shark Fin Soup' off the hotel menu for 350, forgetting that I was no longer in Indonesia (1800 rupiah to the dollar), but in Hong Kong (7 HK dollars to 1 of ours);
that's right, my US$50 bowl of soup... Must've been some shark...

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Friday, December 03, 2010

Bee Intervention

More on the Red Bees of Red Hook!

On Tuesday we posted on the Brooklyn-based bees in Brooklyn pumping out bright red honey thanks to the presence of a nearby maraschino cherry factory and its vast amounts of super-sweet HFCS colored with Red Dye No. 40..

Bees discovered that large vats of marinating cherries are briefly in the open air while moving between warehouses.

We've now learned that the factory hired a bee expert to solve the problem without hurting the bees or the cherries.. The s
olution under study: draping the syrup bins in heavy fabric sheets soaked in vinegar.

Other ideas include building wooden and mesh "lockers" on wheels to transport the bins and placing feeders full of sugar syrup on the factory's roof to distract the bees.

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wet Work

That's actually a song title by the defunct indie band Q And Not U....

Long after I that song left my rotation, I found out that 'wetwork' is a euphemism for murder or assassination, alluding to spilling of blood. Who knew? : - )

Also known as a 'wetjob,' the term dates to Czarist Russia.."wet job" (мокрое дело)

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..and Illinois gets civil unions, joining the growing list of places that give legal recognition to same-sex relationships, which so far does not include New York.. : - ( As you all doubtless know, we've decided to go ahead and get married anyway, in Connecticut, and then do a ceremony and reception back home...

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Red Bees of Red Hook

Truth is stranger than fiction: Bees not yellow but garish bright red, as reported in NYT. The honeycombs, too, were an alarming shade of Robitussin.

An acquaintance, only joking, suggested the unthinkable: Maybe the bees were hitting the juice — maraschino cherry juice, that sweet, sticky stuff sloshing around vats at Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Company over on Dikeman Street in Red Hook.

Beekeepers were disappointed that instead of honey his bees had produced a red concoction more reminiscent of maraschino cherries, or of cough syrup.

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Waste Not Want Not

My goodness, we've run out of November.... I spent a lot of time today thinking about sewage. All in a day's work. Here's the view from a London City skyscraper balcony, during my endless round of customer visits last month...


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