Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gone Honeymoonin'

It's vacation time, getting away from it all, shooting the moon with my honey in the deep into the southern and eastern hemispheres.

Next stop: Johannesburg (that's the Apartheid Museum pictured left), beginning a 15-day foray through South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Botswana and (probably) Zimbabwe - all countries I've never been to...

It'll be my 130th foreign trip, my 46th foreign vacation, and my 2nd trip to sub-Saharan Africa (was in Kenya in 2002). More importantly, my first and only honeymoon...

Have a great mid-summer! See you August 15!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Doubles As

Bruno's LED ball doubles as a grenade : - )

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You'll Never Starve In The Desert

Because of the sand-which-es there (sand which is there). Yuck yuck yuck. Seriously, to survive in the desert you need an occasional oasis, see below. But first, look at Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter, among the world's largest sand deserts. It covers the southern 1/3 of the Arabian Peninsula, that includes the Saudi Arabia's bottom and nice chunks of Oman, Yemen, and the UAE.

For your pleasure, a Libyan oasis.. Control of Libya's oasis belts was and is hugely import for trade and transportation in the region. Caravans must travel via oases for food and water...

and a Peruvian oasis, Huacachina, population 115, near the southwestern city of Ica.. The 50 Sol note of Peruvian currency features this oasis's picture.

and finally, a Utah Oasis.. Middle Spring at Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, in the Great Salt Lake Desert..

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Monday, July 25, 2011

I Do, You Do, We All Do

Left, Damian Ross and Gary Cosgrove embrace on the steps of the Manhattan City Clerk's office while waiting in line... Right, Inside the City Clerk's office wait Melissa Barsamian, in white, and Dorothy Kim, who have been together for more than four years.

Left, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated a wedding ceremony between his Chief Policy Advisor and Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt and the Department of Consumer Affairs Commissioner Jonathan Mintz. The ceremony was held at Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side. Right, Judges wait to marry couples in the Manhattan City Clerk's office..

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

When There's A Burning In Your Heart...

If you feel like a tourist in the city where you were born....

Summery musings in the lyrics of today's Song/Video of the Week, 'You Are A Tourist,' the latest by a Very Important Group: indie pop-rock stalwarts Death Cab For Cutie.

Don't let their name scare you! DCFC, a quartet hailing from Washington state, are mellow and melodic, with lyrics that are clever, imaginative, and incisive.

Bandleader Ben Gibbard recently married singer/actress Zoey Deschannel (herself an SOTW alumna via duo She & Him), which seems to have to cheered him up substantially...

Before we video-walk through DCFC's impressive career, watch the clip for this week's song, 'You Are A Tourist is their latest, and it's subtle but infectious..

Here's the wonderful clip for 'I Will Possess You Heart..'

DCFC's last album had two wonderful singles, 'Soul Meets Body' and 'Crooked Teeth,' the latter imagery refers to a skyline... First, 'Soul'...

Now, 'Crooked...'

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

From Here To Eternity

Sadly, the talented Amy Winehouse checked out of this world, the sole artist no longer with us of the 201 Songs of The Week I have shared...

Here's Amy live, singing 'Rehab', the song she'll be most remembered for, which was lamentably portentious.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Melting Away, Melting Away


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

And The Beat Goes On...

and no thanks to me! Song of the Week seems permanently late, alas... ...but no less inspired, happy to report.... Today's treat, 'The Beat Goes On,' by UK quartet Beady Eye, is a ballad that manages quite a hat trick: it is both anthemic but also melodic and relaxed.

Beady Eye's 60s-styled album cover to your left is indeed of 2011 vintage, but these four chaps live and breathe retro. You knew three of them as 3/4 of Oasis, notably lead singer Liam Gallagher. Liam, his big brother Noel, and their sibling bickering were the core of Oasis. When Noel bolted Oasis in 2009, the group re-formed as Beady Eye.

Third time's the charm! Today's SOTW is their third single, 'The Beat Goes On,' captivating yours truly...

Beady Eye's debut single, 'Bring The Light,' is a catchy rock-classicist rave-up. Live, on Jools Holland:

Single #2 was the twangy 'Millionaire.''

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Africa Hat

Up in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, JP debuted some headgear for our forthcoming honeymoon...

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Sentiments Exactly

Now that's a wedding getaway car! Seen in Camden, Maine 10 days ago..

Pan-out view...

Apparently the groom gets the steering wheel in this relationship..

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Monday, July 18, 2011

LL Bean Mothership

Giant boot outside LL Bean's flagship store in Freeport, Maine. Not far from here, and in more blustery weather, I took JP's family out for Thanksgiving last year in a Ye Olde Inn..

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bruno at the Barbecue

Speeding toward his fourth birthday, Bruno (pictured left) is growing up fast. Since we last visited in the spring, he's sharper than ever, and more talkative. And very proficient with garden hose attack dynamics.. : - )

Andrew threw a terrific barbecue party for a small group of friends, and Michelle made sangria, Mediterranean Burgers (chicken, pork, and feat), and couscous to complement more traditional beef burgers and franks.

JP brought a decadent three layer chocolate and mocha cake with powerfully sweet and abundant frosting (there's a bottle of kahlua hidden somewhere in our apartment!). Thank you Andrew and family - terrific way to spend a 90 degree day...

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Know A Black Cat That Chased A Fly

and knocked over this lamp in the process.

Thanks to my Connecticut friend. Very clever to have the cat sign a release, btw....

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Friday, July 15, 2011

New Ways To Love NY

This new official NY State Tourism campaign is adorable, with its rainbow heart and 'Save The Date.'

Since JP and I are legally married in Connecticut will become automatically legally married here on Sunday July 24, the first day same-sex marriage is legal.

Nonetheless, sometime in August, when we're back from the honeymoon, we will go down to City Hall and get a NY State marriage license... because we can!

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Fun To Stay At The N-C-P-A...

Beijing's National Center For The Performing Arts, conceived by French architect Paul Andreu as a 'cultural island.' A titanium and glass floating pearl?

The National Theater's 1,000 seats and three balconies show the NCPA's inside is as beautiful as its outside...

The NCPA also houses a 2,000-sea Opera House:

The NCPA's grand foyer links its warm interior to its futuristic outerwear...

Or down its stairwells...

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Song 200 !

Another work crunch week, another late song... and it's my 200th Song of the Week - we're headed for our fourth anniversary in September.

To celebrate: an endearing slice of retro early-80s new wave from the UK, though recorded in 2011 by Reading-based quartet Pete + The Pirates. It's 'Come To The Bar,' a pretty if angular midtempo number with a quirky, winning melody and lots of squiggly synths and other charming technical tricks of yore..

The video for 'Come To The Bar' is full-on cinematic

The follow-up single, 'United,' is a tad more subtle, except for the lyrics.. 'united... on the carpet... and the video is again interesting to look at.

From their first album in 2008, the more straightforward 'Mr Understanding'.... and, yes, a third cool video..

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Boldly Facing

China's GDP has TRIPLED since my Mom and I traveled there in 2002! Since then, bold new construction has transformed the face of Beijing. From today's NYT, Here's Rem Koolhaas's audacious new tower for CCTV, Chinese state-owned TV network aka propaganda hub:

Also impressive, the National Indoor Stadium built for the 2008 Summer Olympics:

Beijing's 'Water Cube,' the National Aquatics Center, used for the 2008 Summer Olympics' swimming competition... What will Rio build for 2016? Despite its nickname, the building is not an actual cube, but a 'cuboid,' or rectangular box. After the Olympics, the building underwent a 200 million Yuan revamp to turn half of its interior into a water park. The building officially re-opened on August 8, 2010.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Same Difference?

An oxymoronic idiom, if you will. Andrew sent this one: Bruno's ferret is either being tortured or lifting weights - is there are difference? : - )


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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sculptor and Sculpey

Karl fashioned this McDonalds Cheeseburger out of 'Sculpey,' some clay-like product. Andrew is fairly certain its nutritional value is at least as high as McDonalds' version...


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Saturday, July 09, 2011


Last week we celebrated Ella's 8th birthday at Cafe Henri, with ice cream afterward at Milu, a brand new ice cream shoppe that opened in June at 12-09 Jackson Avenue. Delicious, even though they were out of all chocolate flavors. I was impressed with 'Woops,' which they invented accidentally by spilling chocolate sauce on rice krispies, inspiring them to incorporate this accident into an ice cream flavor! Malu is for Mario and Luis I think...


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Friday, July 08, 2011

Thoroughly Spent

JP's in Maine this week, I'm joining him up there tonight. I've been working very long hours, I had to publish a big piece, and I'm also studying for my Series 24, a very difficult exam. At left: Rod Serling of 'Twilight Zone' fame, hiw wife and their two daughters, taken in the early 1960s when that program was first-run.

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

Clams x 21

My father-in-law is advocating investment in Wiscasset, ME's erstwhile clam flats, which could bring US$150,000 in benefits for a mere US$7,000 invested. Here's his clam 'float' from Wiscasset's July 4 parade; with him, my hubby and my niece Kristen...

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Self-Selected States

Fascinating map from Alex Goldmark: "This is what our state lines might look like if we drew them based on who actually talks with each other, at least according to cell phone data gathered by MIT. These are the geographic clusters of who texts with whom within an area, from the MIT Senseable City Lab's Connected States of America mapping project. If volume of communication determined state lines, New York City would break ranks with the state that shares its name and join up with oft-maligned New Jersey. Mississippi and Alabama would merge, so would most of New England. Wisconsin would split in two to join Illinois and Minnesota."

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Needs No Label

'A good wine needs no label; ' so goes an old French saying (A bon vin, point d'enseigne). By that criterion, today's lovely song needs no introduction:like a slightly prettier and more pop Coldplay, 'Driven By a Beating Heart' by Oxford-based quartet A Silent Film is hard not to love. A meatier, hookier Snow Patrol, perhaps? Their 2008 album was largely ignored but toward end-2010 they added in today's SOTW and re-released it stateside.

My thanks to Andrew Bencsko for bringing this one to my notice...

They held a contest to determine the video to this song and many contenders are posted to YouTube. This one here is as good as any...

Their only previous single, a rockier number from 2009, has a more film-like video, though not a silent one. Here's 'You Will Leave A Mark..' Also very pretty... I'll have to dig up the album...

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Paleolithic Music Video

Literally! From 1967, Traffic's 'Paper Sun...'
Steve Winwood had sung lead on three classic 60s rock groups before he turned 21! (Spencer Davis Group and Blind Faith were the other two)

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Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Future, In Blue

It's my nephew, looking terrific as a newly-minted high school grad... Wow, Dan is really all grown up now.. Soon he'll be driving... and voting! Meet the future, my friends...
I think the world will be a much, much better place when Dan's generation takes over..

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Icing On My Cake!

Now, we must get used to referring to 'my husband...' : - )

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Friday, July 01, 2011

The Glass is 36% Full

...and the water level is rising! Rhode Island just legalized civil unions, following New York's landmark approval of same-sex marriage on Friday!

The glass is 36% full! This makes 15 states that give same-sex couples all the rights of marriage: 6 via actual marriage, 5 by civil unions, and 4 through domestic partnerships. These states are home to 36% of America's population, well over 100 million Americans!

It may take a decade or two to extend these rights to those other 200 million Americans and 35 states.. Alas, 29 states have constitutional bans prohiting same-sex marriage, and 19 of these bans prohibit any relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

We also need federal recognition, so that JP isn't ever taxes on my estate, and even more importantly, so that the bi-national couples we know aren't ever separated by deportation.. Our best bet here is the Supreme Court ruling that the Orwellian 'Defense of Marriage Act' is unconstitutional...

Nobody ever said civil rights would be an easy sprint..
It's accomplished by winning hearts and minds, and especially, by the love of our friends, families, and neighbors and co-workers...

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