Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Our seasons are so screwy this year.  Winter was bad and never seemed to end.  Despite a few nice warm days recently, it doesn't really feel like Spring yet.  And last night it snowed!  In New York, not Alaska.  Snow in the middle of April -- that's rare.

I'm not a gardener and know little about plants.  Three years ago, I planted two batches of flowers in my backyard.  They grew nicely that year.  The next year, I was startled to see them come back -- I wasn't aware they are the kind of plant that returns.  I thought they were a one-shot deal.

This year, they popped up again.  What a nice surprise.  I'm sharing them with you here.  If any of you are plant-literate, perhaps you can tell me what they are.

I hope these beauties survive the snow.  Do you have plants?  Are they blooming?


Saturday, April 12, 2014

"The Past" (2013)

I love good cinema.  And I'm willing to go overseas to find it.

Today, I saw a foreign film that's one of the best I've encountered.  I was drawn to it because the filmmaker (Asghar Farhadi) is a talented artist who made an excellent movie I enjoyed ("A Separation" in 2011).  This current film, made last year, is even better.

"The Past" is skilled filmmaking of the highest order.  Farhadi insisted on spending two months in rehearsals with his actors before breaking out a camera.  That devotion shows in the depth and reality of the acting.  You believe you're watching real life, not a movie.  The subject is family and personal relationships, which have a reality that transcends the usual fare at the multiplex.

Plus, the film stars Bérénice Bejo, who you may remember as the adorable Peppy Miller in "The Artist."  Bejo is a superb actress who shines in this role.

The film won many awards at Cannes and was nominated this year for a Golden Globe.  Nicole Kidman sat as a judge at Cannes and admitted to crying after watching this film.

The film was made in France and is spoken in French with subtitles.  The filmmaker is Iranian, as is the main actor; Bejo is Argentinian.

Not everyone likes foreign films or subtitles, but this movie is exceptional and worth the effort.

Friday, April 11, 2014

1964 World's Fair

Exactly fifty years ago, New York hosted a World's Fair.  Situated in Queens, the Fair ran for two years and showcased cultures and technology from around the world.  Thousands came to see the many exhibitions.

I was six at the time and have an odd, almost-embarrassing memory to tell you.  In addition to visiting the Fair with my family several times, I performed in it.  Really!  In one of two structures built for the Fair which is still standing (New York State Pavilion), I played accordion in a group of accordion-players from the music school where I studied.  We performed for a large crowd of visitors.  I remember dragging my large accordion-case (almost as big as me) to and from the concert.  Weirdly, we played songs written by The Beatles which, on the accordion, sounded truly bizarre.  But they were popular songs at the time.

The second surviving structure is the Unisphere (pictured above).  It has been used since then in several movies, like "Men In Black" and "Iron Man 2".

You can see the Pavilion where I played in the picture below.  It's gutted now and they're contemplating whether to demolish it (cost - $14 Million) or renovate it (cost - $50 Million).  Attached to the Pavilion are three columns which have what looked like spacecraft on top.  They were observation decks you could travel up to look around.

World's Fairs were popular in the last century.  They gave people in an analog world the opportunity to see new sights, new technology and foreign cultures.  I haven't heard of any since then, which is sad.  Have you ever been to one?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Return Of Ally Cat

Last Saturday I took my girlfriend Debbie shopping.  She'd never been to my favorite thrift-store (Savers), so I did a public service and showed it to her.  Debbie's enthusiasm was immediate, as she grabbed up armloads of $3 tops.

I wasn't expecting to find anything so I browsed listlessly.  Or, as they say in the law, "without intent to buy."  Lo and behold, a treasure suddenly appeared before me -- footed pajamas in purple with animal-stripes.  In my size (large).  I pounced like a cat and trapped my prey.

Best of all, they were only $6!

Here's my first attempt to style them.  My girlfriend Jamie agreed to let me use her backyard later this year to pose outdoors in these pajamas.  I think they're perfect for a trip to the jungle.

What do you think?  Would you wear these??




Monday, April 7, 2014

George Harrison's "Concert for Bangladesh"

It's interesting how we can live through something and not really know it.  For example, in the Seventies, I heard about George Harrison's "Concert for Bangladesh" (1971) but I didn't see it or hear its music.  At the time, I was in ninth grade, living an hour away from the concert (which was held in Madison Square Garden in NYC).  This weekend, I finally caught up with it.

My trip to the past was facilitated by my recent re-embrace of vinyl.  I found a 40-year old boxed set of (three) records of the concert, complete with photos.

The concert, thrown together quickly,  drew attention to the plight of refugees in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan).  The concert attracted big names, like Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston and Leon Russell.  None of the performers were paid.  Clapton was visibly sick from heroin withdrawal.

The concert was the forerunner of future charity benefits, like Live Aid, et al.  Most people tuned it because it was George Harrison's first appearance since The Beatles had broken up two years earlier.  Seeing him back with Ringo was a major thrill.

George performed some Beatles songs and wrote the title song, "Bangla Desh".  After listening to the entire concert thrice, I say Leon Russell steals the show with his cover of "Jumpin Jack Flash."  He got the place rockin' at high volume.

Have you heard about this event?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Finally A Princess

When I was little, I wanted to be a princess.  Desperately.  But that was not allowed.

Fifty years later, I still have the desire.  The difference is that, now, there's nobody to stop me.  So, when I spotted this beautiful gown in a thrift-store, I snapped it up.  Only $12, it was made by "Jessica McClintock for Gunne Sax".

These pictures show me on my way to the Prince's Ball.  I plan to have fun, but must be home by midnight.  You know why...

Two confessions.  First, I spent hours on this photo-shoot.  Part of that was I wanted the result to be good; a bigger part is I wanted to ENJOY it.  Often, I rush through the process of photographing outfits to show them to you, but I don't actually get to enjoy wearing the clothes.  Tonight, I really wanted to immerse myself in femininity -- to wear the clothes; to sit in them; to watch TV in them.  I did that and took the extra step of polishing my fingernails which (for me) is a big deal (since I have to remove it before going out).  Maybe watching TV in a ball-gown isn't the same as flirting with a prince at a fancy party, but we do what we can...

Second confession: I made an aesthetic mistake.  I should have chosen a different lip-color, one from the orange family.  I misjudged that choice and regret it.  Oh, well... nobody's perfect.

When was the last time you wanted to be a princess?





Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life and Death

I'm going to a funeral today.  That always makes me contemplate mortality.

My biggest client died.  He was old, so it's not as sad as when a young person dies, but still...  Just a few weeks ago, I met with him and he seemed normal and alive.  Now he's not.  Wow...

We take life for granted, but shouldn't.  The gift of life is precious and fleeting.  If you were aware that your time on Earth was limited (as it is), would you live any differently?  That awareness informs my daily life as I'm always conscious of my mortality.