Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Eve

I made a new sign for tonight!


This is the first day I've truly had off this year with nothing to do and no obligations. I expected to savor the leisure but around noon got antsy, so now I'm planning a dozen long motorcycle trips for 2018. THAT's putting a smile on my face. Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Best of 2017

I consume copious quantities of culture. Here are my favorites works of the year:

Best TV Show -- "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (2017) -- This show, made by the witty creator of the "Gilmore Girls", centers on the struggles of a young woman in the 1950's. When her marriage falls apart, she finds herself trying stand-up comedy, succeeding and, along the way, befriending Lenny Bruce (a famous, real-life comedian). The dialogue is funny and the fashion -- oh my God, the fashion! -- is amazing. I swoon at every outfit Midge wears.

Best Old Film -- "Smiles of a Summer_Night" (1955) -- A comedic examination of men, women and love by the greatest filmmaker of all time, Ingmar Bergman. Some of the lines in this film are hilarious, like these:

      "For once, I was truly innocent."
      "It must have been early in the evening."

      "Why don't you write your memoirs?"
      "My dear daughter, I was given this estate for promising not to write my memoirs."

     "Men are horrible, vain and conceited. And they have hair all over their bodies."

      "I hit him on the head with the poker."
      "What did the Count say then?"
      "We elected to part amicably."

Best New Film -- "Lady Bird" (2017) starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. This film proves that handing power to women in Hollywood is important. Only a woman could have written and directed this story which authentically depicts a teenage girl's life and troubles.

Best Documentary -- "I Am Not Your Negro" which presents words written half a century ago by brilliant social critic James Baldwin. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson. The film is full of insights into the deplorable conditions on race in America which continue to this day.

Best Novel -- "Made For Love" by talented author Alissa Nutting. I love this book and blogged about it. The story, clever writing and smart wit entertain and amuse. Since publication, the book's rights were sold and the author is now working on turning the book into a television show. Let's wish her well.

Best Theatrical Play -- "The Terms Of My Surrender" by political activist Michael Moore. I approached this Broadway play with much apprehension but was pleasantly surprised by its humor and intelligence. As divisive as Moore is, his compassionate voice is needed in the current political climate.

What are your favorite works?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Oh, Atlanta

My trip to Atlanta was fun!

The highlight was convincing Jen to join me in a helicopter. The ride showed us her city from a unique perspective. The ride was exciting and we survived it. There are photos below.

Two other interesting experiences. They recently renovated a large industrial building which, years ago, was headquarters for Sears (a company now dying a slow death). The building was converted into a cool shopping center with nice stores and boutiques. It's called Ponce City Market. It's big enough that we saw it from the air during our helicopter ride. Shopping in Sephora inside PCM, I was startled to hear the store playing punk rock music by The Ramones. Even stranger, the song was "I Wanna Be Sedated." The cultural gears in my head started grinding until smoke came out my ears...

The weirdest thing I saw in Atlanta was at brunch. Eggs Benedict is a dish that normally combines a poached egg with Canadian bacon on an English muffin. In New York you sometimes see bacon replaced by salmon. Here in the South they substitute fried chicken for the bacon. Fried chicken! I never expected that. Plus it raises the age-old question -- which came first: the chicken or the egg.  :-)

Have you ever been up in a helicopter? I recommend it. The ride is smooth and the sights are beautiful.

(The header is the name of a catchy song by Little Feat.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

What'd Ya Get?

Did you have a nice holiday? Get any fun gifts?

I asked for and received a terrific small leather backpack made by Tumi, my favorite brand. (Picture here.) I'm giving it a first journey on my trip to Atlanta today. I'm in JFK awaiting a flight. I'm traveling to see my good friend Jen.

See ya in a few days!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

My brother Richard and I in front of our family's cardboard fireplace.
I'm on the left; he's on the right.
We were stylish dressers back then!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Holidays!

I've always wanted a red velvet dress with white lace collar. So when I spotted this beauty in a thrift-store last month, I snapped it up. It makes the perfect holiday outfit.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. This is my last post for a while 'cause I'm jetting to Atlanta next week to visit my friend Jen. See ya later!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Erlebnis, As The Germans Say

My stereo-receiver went bust a month ago. Uneager to replace it, I found an old-timey repair shop with a craftsman who fixed it at one-third the cost. Downside: the repair took a month. I've been suffering vinyl withdrawal for way too long.

Music matters! I'm crankin' some Grateful Dead right now to restore sanguine color to my cheeks. I wasn't a big Dead fan growing up but am giving their music a new listen since seeing an excellent multi-part documentary, Long Strange Trip (Amazon).

Forty years ago, when I was in college near Utica, I journeyed to Albany to see the Dead perform at a friend's college (RPI). The scene was wilder than the band. Deadheads back then were a travelling circus and you got high just being around them.

Sunday, December 17, 2017


Hi guys. Thought you deserve an update since I've been absent lately.

I had two house-guests recently to whom I devoted my full attention. Combined with work and a bout of stomach flu, I was unable to blog the past two weeks. That'll change as work winds down next week and I feel better physically.

Exciting things to report: I found a cute holiday dress I hope to wear soon. It's a traditional style usually worn by little girls: burgundy velvet with a lace collar. Saw it in a thrift-shop and want to create a childhood I never had. Peplum at the waist makes it a little more adult-y.

Second, I'm flying down to Atlanta between Christmas and New Year's to visit my close friend Jen. I've known Jen for over a decade and blogged about my last visit with her. Jen is the kindest, most supportive friend in the world. I just talked her into going on a helicopter ride so we'll see her city from the air. Have you ever been up in a helicopter? It's great fun. Not scary at all since the flight is soft and smooth.

Finally, Bitcoin! Have you been following it? The price has jumped dramatically and keeps going up. At this rate, I'll be able to retire earlier than I planned and enjoy my future more. Plus, when I cash out, I'll be making big gifts to my friends to share the wealth and improve their lives. That's how I roll...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Christmas Cards

Kids are notoriously difficult to wrangle, especially in formal settings. Here are some amusing attempts to create family holiday cards...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Presents

When I shop for gifts for others, I always end up seeing something I want. And I just did. This year, I'm gonna get it for myself if nobody else does.

It's a backpack. I have two backpacks, one for everyday use and another for hiking. My daily pack, which I wear for just roaming around, is old and cheap. It could stand being replaced by something new and nice. I looked and looked and finally found a perfect one at Tumi (a store that makes excellent luggage). It's small but well-designed and looks good. The picture below doesn't really do it justice. In person, it exudes quality and sophistication. Like me!

What do you want for Christmas?

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Big Duck

After the sun disappeared today, I went on a 100-mile motorcycle ride to see the annual holiday lighting of our legendary Big Duck. The event was festive and crowded.

On the way there, I stopped for dinner at my parents' favorite restaurant, Cliff's Elbow Room, and had its famous marinated steak. Fifty years ago, my parents took me there and those memories are poignant.

Special thanks to the heated seat on my K1600GTL. It feels like sitting on a radiator -- which is valuable when you're sailing through cold air at 80 mph.

Saturday, November 25, 2017


Today was a beautiful day in New York. Sunny and surprisingly warm. It would have been a shame not to go outdoors and enjoy the nice weather.

I went into Brooklyn. My friend Maura, who used to live in New York and moved to Wales, came back to visit for the holidays. I decided to show her how much Brooklyn has changed over the past 25 years. She didn't recognize the place. We spent the day in Williamsburg which is one of the hippest, fun neighborhoods.

I had a gift-card to Rough Trade, a store with the coolest name. They sell vinyl records and obscure books about music. A famous punk-rocker (Richard Hell) was sitting at a table giving autographs to a long line of fans. I picked up an album by St. Vincent (have you heard of her?) and a book by James Baldwin, an amazing author who wrote about racism half a century ago. His words still have relevance and deep insight.

We went to Artists and Fleas, a pleasant collection of booths for independent artists and crafts-people who sell high-quality, hand-made goods. I picked up some fun holiday gifts and a bar of artisanal soap. You can never be too clean.  :-)

I found a bottle of scrumptious hot sauce at Heatonist, a store with a dozen hot sauces that were unknown to me because they're made by small companies. The flavor of the one I selected is rich and savory.

Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg's main street, was hoppin.' Throngs of young people were out enjoying the warm sunshine. There are numerous restaurants, stores, cafes and nightclubs. We ate delicious perogies at the best Polish restaurant in New York.

Some pics are below.  What did you do today?

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Joy of Friendship

I had the most wonderful time this weekend! My friend Emma is visiting from Ohio and we had a blast together.

I've known Emma for almost a decade. She had a fashion blog and we followed each other. When she stopped blogging, I stayed in touch with her on Facebook. This Summer I traveled to her hometown of Columbus, OH and she decided to reciprocate with a solo trip to New York.

Emma has everything you want in a friend. She's smart, interesting and supportive. More than most people, Emma pays close attention. She's listened carefully to me and understands me unusually well. Plus Emma is a delight to hang out with; her charm is abundant. And, on top of all that, Emma has terrific talent at applying makeup; I hope she'll teach me some of her tricks.

Emma arrived on Saturday and we spent the weekend exploring fun offerings in my hometown. Saturday night we saw an entertaining magic show by a female magician whose big hair was an illusion in itself. Sunday we shopped at my favorite stores where Emma found a cute ring and edgy black booties. Today I brought her into Manhattan where we saw a fashion exhibition at MOMA and ate a delicious meal at Sarabeth's on the southern tip of Central Park.

Emma plans to spend the rest of the week exploring New York City in furtherance of a novel she's researching.

I've lived a long time so believe me when I say that friendship is the healthiest -- and most fun -- activity we can pursue. You get amply rewarded for effort in that direction so go out and  play with your friends!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Terrific Novel

Most of us know instantly whether an author's work resonates in us. Their voice connects to our experience of the world. I just discovered a new author whose work I enjoy. Her writing is witty and immensely entertaining. Even better, she tackles weighty subjects of great modern importance.

Alissa Nutting is a college professor who teaches creative writing in the Midwest. She's originally from Florida; that background makes an appearance in her work. Nutting is married to another talented novelist.

I first learned of Nutting through a rave review of her recently-published second novel, Made For Love. I'm currently catching up and reading her first novel, Tampa.

The review intrigued me -- “ 'Made for Love' crackles and satisfies by all its own weird rules, subversively inventing delight where none should exist. How can a book be so bright, and so dark?"

The topics wrestled with in Made For Love are of-the-moment contemporary, exploring the environment that technology has created for us. Human relationships, including with our spouses and family, are affected by modern technology in significant ways. I myself have been pondering these very subjects lately as I sense major changes from earlier decades I lived through.

Nutting's talents are many. First, her imagination transports us to places we recognize even though they are extensions of the present. The details of those places are wholly convincing. I wouldn't call her work science fiction because it feels so authentic; instead, it's imagination exercised with a purpose. Seeds of this future already exist; Nutting's fictional world is merely their germination.

The novel starts two years in the future and then jumps around in time. It opens with a woman, Hazel, confronting the fact that her elderly father has a love/sex robot. This is not so crazy as it sounds: technology has reached the point of creating robots capable of human companionship and, yes, even sexual relations. How we feel about a loved one interacting with, even loving an inanimate robot is something we'll all face -- and sooner than you imagine. Just Google the subject and you'll see early prototypes of these objects. A huge market for robotic companions exists among the lonely elderly and others starved of basic human emotion. Widespread use of such robots will create serious concern, debate and, likely, ultimate acceptance.

Another way the main character relates to the subject of technology is through her failed marriage to Byron, an "eccentric tech multimillionaire." His company (named with a wink, Gogol Industries) strives to integrate technological inventions into daily life. Byron, as rapacious in his marriage as he is in business, tries to control Hazel. Her struggle to escape his silicon cage is one most of us can relate to.

Magnifying the pleasure of reading smart exploration of these subjects are Nutting's writing skills. Her style is lucid and witty. She deploys amusing metaphors and language (including my favorite word, penultimate). Candidly, I read much of the book stimulated with a buzz similar to that which comes from a second glass of wine. I laughed out loud at the comic ingenuity of naming a character Fiffany.

The novel is deeply humorous. Its sense of humor has dimension and scope. The book made me realize how satire can weaponize intelligence to explode hardened social realities.

Finally, let me quote a passage from the book which displays the foregoing gifts. Once you read this, you should be only minutes away from clicking on links to buy the book at Amazon:

Hazel thought for a moment. "But I wouldn't have to pretend it was great, right?" Prior to Liver, she'd pretended to be in love with everyone she slept with, at least initially, although that never turned out well. Especially not with Byron. When had she so internalized the feeling that if something wasn't great she needed to bridge the gap between reality and idealism with her own manufactured enthusiasm? Her enthusiasm was like one of those faux snow machines at a ski resort. For most of her life it had been churning out synthetic delight. It had basically forgotten the original recipe.

(Made For Love, page 306)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Remember The '80s??

Do you remember...

Cabbage Patch Kids; Care Bears
M*A*S*H; The Love Boat; Dallas
Working Girl; 9 to 5; Raiders of the Lost Ark
High-waisted pants; peplum skirts; shoulder pads

This journey back in time is prologue for my newest outfit. I found a retro-styled piece in one of my favorite stores. The style and print are pure Eighties. Even though leopard-print has survived the decade, this particular type of it mirrors what was used back then. I should know: I was in my twenties then.

Do you ever get nostalgic for the past?

Perhaps the reason my mind is travelling back in time is because today is my birthday. My *60th* birthday. Ouch!

Do I look 60 years old? Please don't answer that if you're gonna say yes!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The End Of My Youth

Today is the last day of my fifties -- and, indisputably, my youth. Which doesn't mean I'm going to start acting old. As I explained before, I plan to hang onto my energetic attitude for as long as it lasts.

I pondered what to do today. I could go into the office and get aggravated. Or I could stay home, collapse on the couch and bemoan my loss. Or -- and this is where I'm leaning -- I can jump on my BMW S1000R rocket-ship, twist the throttle and blast off into space.

I think that's the right choice for me. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hidden Secrets III

Over the past century, cans have been popular containers for food and beverages. And there have been several experiments on ways to open them.

Currently, almost all soda cans use the same type of opener, one that has a separate piece of metal attached to the can at a single spot which can rotate 360-degrees around. The metal-piece is used to depress the wide-mouth top into the can. But is that all? Can the metal-piece do something else?

Yes! It's designed to assist you in another way, but sadly few realize this.

The little hole in the metal-piece is intended to make it easy for you to use a straw. You swing the piece around so it's over the wide-mouth and then stick your straw through it. It will hold the straw in place. Otherwise, if you just put the straw into the wide-mouth opening, it will bounce around and not stay put.

Boy, you're so smart now!

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Marilyn Monroe Pen

My favorite pen-store is offering the new Marilyn Monroe pen made by Montblanc. It's lipstick-red with curves and a pearl on the clip. A beauty.

$920/$785/$680 for fountain-tip/rollerball/ballpoint

Would you enjoy receiving one as a gift? BTW, when's your birthday?  :-)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Hidden Secrets II

Here's a second in my new series of hidden secrets.

When you buy a nice piece of clothing (e.g., fancy dress, business suit), it often comes with spare buttons and a little square of cloth. The cloth is the same material as the item.

Most people don't know what the cloth is for. Some guess, incorrectly, that it's to use as a patch for rips. No, it's not.

The real purpose of the cloth is to test laundry detergent and other cleaning solvents to see how the material will react to them. That way you won't ruin the entire garment when trying to clean it.

Isn't that clever?

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Getting Old

In two weeks, I turn sixty. Damn. Never thought that would happen.

The irony is I feel like I'm getting younger. I'm fitter, more active and more engaged than anytime in the past decade. Sixty is supposed to be the beginning of the end, a threshold for the inexorable slide toward death. And yet I feel the opposite.

Honestly I've decided to reject omphaloskepsis and, instead, continue on my Benjamin Button path. Today I took out my insanely-powerful sportbike for a thrilling ride along the water. I believe age isn't what matters but how you live. What do you believe?