Friday, January 31, 2020

Billie Eilish

Okay, I decided to check out the fuss about Billie Eilish and bought her debut album (on yellow vinyl). It's very good.

Billie's music is appealing. The lyrics are surprisingly deep. Her soprano voice has been accurately described as ethereal.

At the recent Grammys, Billie won five Grammy awards, including the four top categories.

Billie is so young (18) -- she was born after September 11th. I like that "Pirate" is one of her middle names (Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O'Connell). She was born in LA and raised by two actors/musicians who encouraged her and her brother Finneas to explore the arts. They've started a musical career that is quickly catapaulting them to superstardom. Billie will sing the title-song in the next James Bond film; she performed at the Grammys; and she will perform again at the Oscars. You'll soon know her as a major celebrity.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Shooting film -- real 120mm film, developed in chemicals -- with a plastic camera is alchemy. You never know what it will produce. Sometimes the results are magical. Here are my latest efforts with the Holga camera Ashley gave me for my birthday.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

My New Watch

My new watch is made of wood. Yes, wood!

The watch uses actual maple wood. The company that makes these watches is conscious of its environmental impact and donates part of its profits to good causes, like planting new trees for all watches sold.

Plus, I think it looks pretty. Don't you?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Boys Will Be Boys

Here's a funny story. It's true.

My dad turns 90 years old this year. He resides in an assisted living facility. It's very nice and he likes it there.

My dad is a pleasant guy but he can be a little hard-headed. He's macho through and through and worked a cop for thirty years. Once my father gets an idea in his head, nothing can dissuade him.

During my youth we battled over the morality of the Vietnam War, the integrity of President Nixon, and the length of my hair. (Back in the Sixties, hair-length telegraphed everything about a man, including his politics and cultural hip-ness.) My dad has always been a "law and order" conservative.

Where my father lives now has a dining room. Anyone can sit anywhere but residents tend to sit in the same place every day. Informally they claim chairs as their own. This Christmas the facility put up a big Christmas tree which moved some tables around. After the re-arrangement, it wasn't clear which seat belonged to whom. 

There's another resident there named George. Like my father, George is a retired cop and around 90 years old. For some reason, George and my father don't like each other. I suspect they're too alike and resent that. Each wants to be seen as the alpha dog and the other's presence disturbs that image.

After the tree was put up, neither of them knew which chair was theirs. One of them was seated and the other came up and complained, "You're in my chair!" The other responded, "No, I'm not." They bickered. "Get out of my chair!" "No." "Get up or I'll knock your block off!" "Try it!"

Then they got serious. One dared, "Let's take this outside!" The other replied, "Sure!" 

The two men reached for their walkers and started slowly shuffling across the dining room toward the exit. Facility staff, alerted to impending fisticuffs, rushed over to break it up. "Gentlemen! You are NOT going to fight in the courtyard!" They pulled the pugilists apart and sent them to their rooms. With angry looks, the combatants parted and returned to their corners.

I believe a video of two 90-year old men engaging in a fist-fight would go viral. Millions of curious onlookers would click to see what that looks like. Fortunately my father hasn't turned into an Internet celebrity/meme. But there's always tomorrow. :)

Monday, January 20, 2020


When I wear female clothes, I tend to over-do it with super-bright colors, flashy styles, etc. The reason for that is simple -- I have decades of pent-up enthusiasm for female plumage. Plus, my natural instinct is to take everything to the extreme.

But what if I dress like a normal woman? In normal clothes, without hoopla?

I'm giving it a try. Here's a pretty Calvin Klein dress I bought at deep discount. The material is incredibly soft with the texture of suede. But, as textile-expert Sheila confirms, suede doesn't stretch and this material does. The color is equally hard to pin down: in some light, it looks beige but in other light, it's light pink. Whichever hue, I like it.

This is an outfit I could wear on many occasions. What do you think?

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Lives Of Women

Recently I saw two movies that stunned me. Both are about the lives of women and how they're skewed by society's misogyny.

"I Am Not A Witch" (2017) -- Whoa. Unbelievable movie. Made by a Zambian woman who moved to Wales, the film tells a story of a girl in Africa accused of being a witch. The tale is bizarrely funny at times, terribly moving at others. It confuses, entertains and ultimately educates us about cultural views of women. When you research and later learn there are actual, real witch-camps in Africa, your mind explodes.

"Invisible Life" (2019) -- I reviewed this film last week here. The film depicts disparate fates of two sisters who make different choices (one is brash, the other timid). It's impossible not to condemn the society that ruins their lives; the sisters are doomed no matter what choices they make.

Friday, January 17, 2020

As Different As Can Be

I rode both of my motorcycles today, a rare treat. I had to pick up my S1000R from the shop and my mechanic suggested I bring in my other bike for service at the same time. (It's due.) So I rode 50 miles into NYC on the GTL and 50 miles home on the S1000R. The trips revealed vast contrasts between the vehicles.

Despite living together, the GTL and S1000R are as dissimilar as Felix and Oscar. The GTL is a huge touring bike with every amenity (e.g., heated seats, hard luggage, speakers in front and back). The S1000R is simply a motor on a stick. The GTL, at 800 lbs., is twice as heavy as the S1000R.

Their riding experiences couldn't be more different. The GTL is a RV. It's so comfortable that you can sit on it for 10 hours without complaint. The bike has a windshield and full fairing which buffer you from wind. The S1000R has none of those things. Riding it, you collect bugs and admiring glances. "Hey! Look at that red sportbike!"

Like an ocean-liner, moving the GTL requires planning: you don't just change paths. When you see a turn ahead, you shout to the First Mate, "Steer starboard ahead." He relays to the crew, "Starboard rudder." They shout to guys wearing greasy t-shirts in the bowel of the boat, "Turn right, you idiots!"

The S1000R, in contrast, is incredibly intuitive because of its small size and weight. To change lanes, I don't do anything: the bike moves laterally by itself. When I see open space ahead, the bike surges without input. My go-to excuse for speeding is, "Officer, it wasn't me! The bike did it. I'm just sitting here."

The temperature today was 23-degrees going into NYC and 26-degrees going home. Normally that'd feel cold but I wore heavy-duty Winter gear which, coupled with stubborn machismo, kept me warm.

Riding the GTL, my face is relaxed and full of contentment. I'm Buddha on two wheels. Riding the S1000R, I grin maniacally as we bend the laws of physics together. Hunter Thompson wrote, "Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba...".

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A Dream Come True

Some of us dream big, some of us dream small. I dream both ways.

One of my small -- but intense -- dreams just came true. Thirty years ago I saw a woman in a video wearing slippers that melted my heart: they were sock-booties you'd wear around the house with ball-tassels on them. The tassels make the booties delightfully feminine.

I crave these booties and watched that video hundreds of times. Seeing a happy woman pad around her kitchen making food in comfy booties warms my heart. I dreamed about wearing such slippers in my kitchen.

Alas, despite searching for three decades, I never saw them in any retail store or thrift-shop. I'd honestly given up hope they'd ever enter my life. But then...

This week I was browsing a clearance-sale rack at Marshalls (a store that sells nice stuff at often-ridiculous low prices). I picked up a soft pink suede-like dress from Calvin Klein (with original tags listing a retail price of $178) for only $20. The dress is a steal. I don't believe it's real leather 'cause the material stretches but it looks pretty and is incredibly soft to the touch.

Then I headed over to the slipper area 'cause I need something comfy to wear around the house. OH MY GOD!! There they are!! Sock-booties with ball-tassels!!

The booties are made by Frye, a boot company that makes excellent products. The dream-booties were knocked down in price to only $8. I bought two pairs so when the first one wears out, I don't have to search another thirty years to fulfill my longing.

Do you have any dream purchases?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Lincoln Center (NYC)

When Lincoln Center was built in New York decades ago, it was poorly-planned. The Center, which is large and houses many buildings, was isolated from the neighborhood in which it resides. People didn't feel invited to visit or even walk through the Center. The only visitors were patrons going to cultural shows.

That's changed. A few years ago the Center's management hired smart architects to re-design the place. They did a fabulous job. They made the Center more open and inviting. Now, you can easily access it and there are about eight comfy places to hang out, like coffee-shops, restaurants and even a grassy park (built on an intriguing upward angle).

Having learned about the re-design from a documentary, I visited the Center yesterday. I was in New York to drop off my motorcycle for repair. I found the Center delightful, plus I watched a movie at their non-profit cinema ("Invisible Life," reviewed in the prior post).

I'll definitely be going back!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Invisible Life" (2019)

There can be artistry in the cinema and this foreign film possesses it in abundance. The movie grips and impresses you from the outset. Its ineffable qualities mesmerize you into caring for the disparate fates of two sisters who make radically different choices (one is brash and unconventional, the other timid and traditional). Your emotional investment in their stories makes it impossible not to condemn a society that ruins the sisters' lives; they are doomed no matter what choices they make.

The story takes place in 1950's Brazil. The women's lives are depicted with stunning accuracy. That convincing realism is leavened by lush melodrama reminiscent of the masterpieces by Douglas Sirk. The film elides unnecessary explanation, letting you fill in narrative gaps with ease. That subtlety is satisfying. You participate in the story-telling.

This gem won a major award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and is one of the best movies I've seen in years.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

My Dad

Everyone likes to feel appreciated. It becomes especially important to us as we get older because, looking back on life, we want to feel pride, not regret.

My dad is 89 years old. He served in the Army during the Korean War (1952-1955). There's a nice group of volunteers who hand-make "quilts of valor" which they give to veterans in appreciation for their military service. The quilts are presented in a ceremony explaining their significance.

I arranged for my father to receive one of these quilts. It was presented yesterday during my visit in Florida. My dad was deeply honored by the gesture and he gave an impromptu speech thanking everyone. It was nice to see him be so happy at such advanced age. At his stage of life, every experience is momentous.