Saturday, February 27, 2010

BBC America


My TV-watching is tending to skew very British these days. I'm spending a lot of time with BBC America -- watching hypergay talk-show hosts (well, just one), the near-extinction of humanity and energetic women with elaborate gloves cleaning filthy houses. Ah, those crazy English.

Soon after I adopted Dave's television, I started watching "How Clean Is Your House?" In case you haven't seen it, it's a show in which two women descend on some of the filthiest homes in the British Isles and clean them up. Kind of an Anglo version of "Hoarders," but more superficial, steering clear of the psychology behind the filthiness. It's a fun half-hour, and I think I've seen just about all the episodes that BBC America makes available.

Dave introduced me to "The Graham Norton Show," which is HILARIOUS. Graham (hypergay) is a terrific interviewer and he cooks up activities for his guests and audience members that are laugh-out-loud funny. We then expanded to watching Jonathan Ross as well -- also very funny. (Why did both of these shows adopt the same super-pink, lava-lamp decor?) Dave and I like these shows better than their American counterparts (Jay Leno, for example), but we're not sure why.

We've latched onto "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares," in which foul-mouthed chef Gordon Ramsay tries to rehabilitate the sagging fortunes of restaurants throughout the British isles. He revamps menus, redecorates dining rooms and whips staff members into shape. It's an interesting show, though I find Ramsay irrational and downright offensive at times. He treats people terribly. I think he's the kitchen nightmare, but if the show is to be believed, he successfully turns around some dying establishments.

Enticed by the promos, I watched at least one Dr. Who movie ("The Waters of Mars"), which was interesting because I'd never seen Dr. Who before. And now I'm watching "Survivors," in which nearly everyone in Britain has been killed by a virus, leaving just a few stragglers to fend for themselves. Good so far!

I guess all this isn't surprising, considering how much I love Monty Python and "Keeping Up Appearances."

(Photo: Chinatown, last week.)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympics


Looks like we'll be stuck inside today. The snow is still falling, falling, falling. Last night I thought we might escape, because we'd only had lots of wet slush and not much accumulation. But that slush did indeed turn to falling snow during the night, and I had to push it all out of the way to get out the door this morning with the dogs. Fortunately, Dave and I went to the grocery store yesterday and we are almost absurdly over-provisioned.

One thing we won't be doing is watching any of the Olympics. Is anyone watching? Have any of you been talking about the games or hearing buzz from coworkers, friends or neighbors? Dave says none of his teacher friends have mentioned them, and I know only a few people who are paying attention.

I may be wrong, but I think the media gets more excited about the Olympics than the vast majority of America. Yesterday I saw that the Today show sent its whole crew to Vancouver -- even Gene Shalit, for God's sake. What an expense! And do viewers really care that much about curling and luge-ing?

I'm numb to the summer Olympics, too, but the winter games are especially mystifying to me, since I have no cultural connection to any of the sports being played. I grew up in Florida. Skating, hockey, skiing -- I did none of these things. (Well, I've been on water skis, but not snow skis.)

I'm not as glum about the Olympics as Christopher Hitchens, who wrote recently in Newsweek that they fuel an unhealthy competitive nationalism. I don't think they're exactly harmful. But I think they're somewhat outmoded. Nowadays the people of the world interact globally on a daily basis -- the novelty and necessity of coming together for sporting events just isn't the same.

What do you think?

(Photo: Cheekz street art in Tribeca. This piece has been hanging around for years. I'm not quite that grumpy about the Olympics, but maybe about the snow.)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Snowicane


Just as I was waxing poetic (or not so poetic) about the arrival of spring-like weather, we're getting slammed by another winter storm. This one is supposed to sit on top of us into tomorrow, dumping up to 16 inches of snow on parts of central New Jersey. It's been dubbed a "snowicane."

It's snowing outside as I type, but so far it's more like slush on the ground -- a big winter Slurpee. I was enjoying the melting snow, and I'm sorry to see the struggling grass covered up again. I'm going to get to the gym this morning so I can go running, thereby forestalling cabin fever over the next few days.

Dave is only working a half-day today, and we bought stuff to make chicken chili tonight. That should last us through tomorrow, when presumably we should be able to go shopping again. I don't think we'll have to follow in the footsteps of the Donner Party, despite the apocalyptic nature of storm coverage on the news. (Watch out, Ernie and Ruby!)

Though my cocktail of choice will always be a gin and tonic, I've been experimenting with mojitos lately. Dave had about a third of a jug of clear Bacardi rum kicking around, and part of my tendency toward neatness is to figure out ways to use things up. So I found some bottles of mojito mix at the liquor store for 99 cents apiece. I will never be a big fan of rum, but they're not bad drinks. Maybe I'll pour some of those this evening as we cook and watch the snow! I'll pretend I'm in the Caribbean!

(Photo: Some daffodils we bought at Shop-Rite, blooming on our windowsill.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Being Down with Being Down


"According to the cosmology of Thomas Moore, it's OK to be complicated. It's OK to be sad, too. Being 'normal' doesn't really do much for anyone except deaden the connection to the soul. Being present, according to Thomas Moore, means being aware not only of what's right in front of your face, but also hanging out with memories, hopes, worries, and the imagination, all of which accompany us every second of every day."

I don't know anything about Thomas Moore, but I so appreciated these words, written yesterday by my blog sister Reya. I am very bad at being sad. I often push away "negative" feelings such as sadness or anger, believing them to be unproductive or harmful. I come from the "if you can't say something nice" school of thought, whereby only "positive" expressions are allowed, even to myself.

It's bizarre, because this impulse runs so contrary to my Buddhist practice (such that it is these days). Zen emphasizes being in the moment, feeling what's there and not turning away from it. Even though I understand that on an intellectual level, being there, really being, is hard.

The other day, Dave was talking about some classroom issues that have him stressed out. He turned to me and said, "What stresses you out, anyway? You're never stressed." I said I could be situationally stressed, such as when I'm driving down the New Jersey Turnpike and my gas tank contains only fumes (which in fact happened to us just a day or two earlier), but that I wasn't easily stressed on a deeper level.

That's not really true, though. I am stressed by my joblessness, my hazy future, my neither-here-nor-there living conditions. I just don't readily allow myself to see the stress, or to express it. I keep going to the gym and try to do useful stuff around the house, to maintain a sense of control and self-worth. (I guess this is probably pretty common among the jobless.)

That control, though, can be soul-deadening. If I'm honest with myself, I've been feeling down lately. I miss the city and the creative spark it gives me -- it's honestly hard to keep up my level of daily activity and creativity here in the 'burbs. There's just not as much stimuli. Also, so many of my habits have changed -- I'm eating more red meat and ice cream, sitting less, watching more television -- and I miss some aspects of the "old me." I think perhaps I need to be more conscientious about staying in touch with myself, and making sure I get into the city more often.

And I need to let myself be down now and then, if that's how I honestly feel. I'm alive, and I need to experience my life, whatever it may be!

(Photo: VFR in Chinatown, on Monday.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Slacker


As you can tell, I'm feeling a bit lazy about posting these days! There hasn't been a whole heck of a lot going on around here, so I haven't exactly been holding back. But I thought I better put a post up just to let the world know I'm still around.

It's rainy today, but nonetheless I've been enjoying the weather lately because it seems vaguely spring-like. Something about the light during the past week seemed to change -- the intensity, the angle, something. The sun seemed brighter, the air softer. Even the rain is nice, washing away the accumulated snow and revealing the grass once again. (I know the dogs are happy about that -- they no longer have to leap through the snow like gazelles.)

I was in the city yesterday to get an old filling replaced -- it was an old amalgam filling that I got at least 20 years ago, one of only two in my mouth, and frankly I was happy to get rid of it. Fortunately the procedure was very mild and took only about 30 minutes. (And I still have health insurance to pay for it -- yay!) After the filling I went walking, and took some nice photos in Chinatown and Tribeca.

Dave and I went in Friday to get his auto registration updated and get him a New Jersey driver's license. But it turns out he needs a birth certificate or a passport to prove his identity -- he has neither readily available -- and his old license from Michigan isn't sufficient. (This must have something to do with homeland security, though I imagine your average Somali terrorist would have no trouble faking a birth certificate if need be.) Anyway, we were stymied in our efforts and now we have to get the appropriate documentation before we can go back. Bureaucracy!

(Photo: Wall in the East Village, last week.)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dave's Work Here Is Done


The other day, I ordered dog tags for Dave's dogs. Nothing special -- just little stainless steel bone-shaped tags that give their names and Dave's name and address. The dogs had no ID, and I thought it would be wise to get them some in the unlikely event that they get lost. (They spend 23 hours of every day on the couch.)

When I told Dave about the tags, he laughed and said I'd once written in my blog that although I grew up with dogs, I would always be a cat person. I don't remember writing that phrase, but it sounds like something I might have said. In any case, he teased me and said I needed to write a blog post titled "Dave's Work Here is Done," expressing my full conversion to dogdom.

Personally, I think this dichotomy -- dog person vs. cat person -- is a false construction. You can be both, right? An animal person? Still, I'll let Dave have the title.

We took the dogs to the vet the day before yesterday to get them caught up on shots and get their local license tags. Now they're legal dogs! I'm sure they're relieved.

(Photo: Shadow on the wall at Penn Station, last week.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Change of Plans

I came into town early yesterday for my job interview, got myself
cleaned up and was just putting on my suit when I got a call from the
interviewer. Seems he forgot Monday was a holiday when he scheduled
our meeting, and he wasn't in the office! So we rescheduled for today.
Minor inconvenience at most.

I spent yesterday walking around Harlem and the East Village taking
photos. Had a great time, and wore out my walking legs after spending
so many hours reclining in the burbs!

Finished my David Sedaris book. Hilarious! I kept looking for bits to
excerpt here, but it's hard to get the full effect from just a few
lines out of context!

(Photo: Artificial palm tree on Third Avenue, several weeks ago.)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day


We had a low-key Valentine's Day weekend around here. I took Dave to dinner on Friday night at a place called Daryl Wine Bar in New Brunswick -- we've wanted to try it for a while. It gave us the illusion of being in Manhattan without paying Manhattan prices. (Or spending two hours on the train.)

Dave bought me some pants at Banana Republic on Saturday. I haven't bought any new clothes in months, so it's probably a good thing he stepped in!

Gifts notwithstanding, neither one of us puts much stock in Valentine's Day. It's one of those manufactured florist's holidays when the merchants convince us we all need to spend money. Red roses, heart-shaped candy boxes -- gimme a break.

Today I'm going back into the city for the second round of my job interview. I hope to also do some photography -- I haven't had any new photos to put on Flickr in about a week.

(Photo: Skull graffiti in Jamaica, Queens, a couple of weeks ago.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Thrift Store Days


I'm reading David Sedaris' book "When You Are Engulfed in Flames," and like all David Sedaris books, it's hilarious. One of his essays dealt with living in a bizarre rooming house during his college years, with a landlady who liked antiques and wore Bakelite jewelry and veiled hats.

It reminded me of my own college years, when I was a dedicated thrift store shopper. I bought virtually everything from Goodwill or the Salvation Army, including clothing, books, records, huge sets of dishes I assembled from individually purchased stray pieces, and pieces of wiry 1950s or '60s furniture. I would go thrifting with friends and spend entire days driving around West Florida, anywhere from Gainesville to Fort Myers and inland to Orlando. My thrifting territory was immense.

I developed a soft spot for a zooty china pattern called "Cathay" by Taylor, Smith and Taylor (still readily available on eBay). At one point I had enough of this china to serve 16 people, imagining that I might eventually have a big dinner party. Now I know myself better, and know it's unlikely I'd ever serve more than four people at a time!

Because it was the mid-'80s, many of the used books I found were from the '60s and '70s. This is where I first developed a fascination for Jacqueline Susann -- the thrift shops were full of her books, particularly lesser ones like "Dolores." I also found lots of classics, and I even read them. Some of my thrift shopping had actual educational value!

I also had some favorite independent thrift stores. There was a store in South Tampa called McMother's Celestial Junk that was pretty entertaining, though I only remember buying one item there because it was a bit expensive, relative to a Goodwill. (What was that item? An ashtray. I collected ashtrays briefly, even though I never seriously smoked.) There were some vintage stores in Ybor City, the old Latin quarter near downtown Tampa, that were also pretty cool -- LaFrance, which is still there, and Sweet Charity -- but again, they could be pricey.

I suppose young people are drawn to thrift shopping as a way to express individuality, to define and distinguish themselves from their peers. Trying on someone else's old clothes is like trying on different identities. For me, it was also a great way to bond with certain like-minded friends, like Suzanne and Kevin, or Paul and Karl. I spent some of the best days of my youth exploring thrift stores and flea markets with them.

As I've mentioned before, when I went into the Peace Corps, at 25, I boxed up all my accumulated stuff and stored it at my Mom's house. When I came home more than two years later, I began unpacking it and thought, "What IS all this?" I was 28, and by then I didn't feel the same need to hoard other people's old stuff. I began giving nearly everything away, or selling it, a process that could be agonizing at times but eventually came as a huge relief.

I still like thrift stores, and I pick up an odd item now and then. But my thrift shopping days are few and far between -- nothing like the recreation they provided way back when. I'm glad I was shopping at Goodwill rather than the mall. Can you imagine the money I saved, the debt I avoided? Whew!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stasis


When I lost my job in November, I thought, "Well, this isn't so bad. Now I'll have lots of time to think!" I imagined myself writing creatively, doing photography, and maybe coming up with a second career.

But without the stimulation of a daily job, I've found it difficult to create anything. Being unemployed is hard. My days are big, empty stretches of time, particularly here in the suburbs, and I've even had trouble coming up with enough interesting content for my blog. (Interesting being a relative term -- ha!)

It's almost like my brain just isn't getting enough exercise. I'm reading books, keeping up with the news, watching movies, cooking, cleaning -- but that's nothing like being faced with the daily social interaction and demands of the workplace.

It's particularly tough now that we're essentially snowed in. We could get into the city, with some effort and expense -- but doing anything outdoors here in Central New Jersey just isn't very appealing, if it's even possible. On Thursday we tried to come up with something to do locally and aside from going to the mall, there just wasn't much. (We even considered going bowling. Lord!)

I enjoyed my first few months off from work. But my mom told me at the time that I'd soon start going crazy, and I can see what she means. It's not craziness I'm feeling, though, so much as shallowness, flabbiness.

I have learned some things. First, I am not a fiction writer. I've explored creative writing and several people urged me to come up with a novel. But I just don't have a novel in me. Having the technical skills to put words on a page is only a tiny step toward creative writing, and I unfortunately lack the drive, the ideas and the behavioral understanding to produce truthful fiction.

Second, I'm not an entrepreneur. (I guess I knew that already.) I half-heartedly toyed with the idea of being a professional organizer, if not for a living then to make some extra money. I never considered it a serious career prospect -- more like a way to kill time -- but I see now that it would never really keep me occupied. Organizing my own house, and enjoying it, is a far cry from organizing for others.

I've backed off the idea of selling my apartment, particularly now that I've had a job interview in the city. I may need that apartment, especially if I find late night or early morning work in Manhattan. I'm going to just sit on it for the time being. I have plenty of money to maintain it for now.

And fortunately, the news organization that interviewed me for a job a week ago is having me back on Monday for a second interview. Maybe my jobless, aimless winter is finally coming to an end. Keep those fingers crossed, blogland!

(Photo: Third Avenue, about a week ago.)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Post-Blizzard


Well, we survived the big snow. We didn't lose power, and stayed inside all afternoon, cozy and warm, watching movies. We watched "Opening Night," a John Cassavetes movie from 1977, and "The Sum of All Fears." It was actually a really nice day.

We also cooked, of course. I made a chocolate cake from a recipe I pulled out of a 1956 edition of The Tampa Tribune, back when I browsed through microfilmed newspapers while doing research in college. The cake is sort of brownie-like, with nuts and no icing. (And it's yet another ring-shaped dessert -- it's baked in a Bundt pan.) It worked out well! I love making old recipes like that -- it's the closest we can come to time travel.

Dave also made some excellent chili.


Unfortunately, today I'll have to dig out the car in order to go to the gym.


We had tickets to a piano concert at the 92nd Street Y last night, but as you can see, driving to the train station and going into Manhattan really wasn't an option. For some reason, the Y insisted on proceeding with the show, though, so we can't get a refund for our tickets. We have to either exchange them for something else or turn them into a charitable contribution. I'm not happy about that -- I'd rather just get my money back. But oh well.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This morning



Mailman


When the mailman arrived yesterday, Ernie and Ruby ran to the window -- as they always do -- and began growling. It's so funny how dogs react to mailmen. Ernie and Ruby usually don't growl at anyone else walking around below our windows. What's the deal?

My friends John and Sue have a dog, Fitzie, who goes ballistic when the mailman comes to the door. They have a mail slot, and theorize that Fitzie hates him because he touches the house. Sue says Fitzie can hear the mail truck in the street, distinguish it from other cars and get growling early.

Dave says Ernie, particularly, always reacted badly to the mailman. When he lived in Michigan and the mailman came to the door -- once again, he had a mail slot -- Ernie pitched a fit. He'd barrel through screen doors to attack.

Our mailman doesn't even touch the house. But maybe Ernie remembers the truck, or the uniform -- because he still hates the mailman.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snowmageddon II


(Actually, I guess you can't really have a Snowmageddon II, or any kind of -mageddon II, since it implies finality, the end of everything. Right?)

Anyway, we appear to be in for it in terms of snow. While Snowmageddon I struck mostly to the south of us, this time we're due for full blizzard conditions. I plan to go grocery shopping this afternoon (as soon as Dave sends me his list) and then we'll tuck in for the duration. School will probably be cancelled tomorrow, so Dave doesn't expect to have to work.

We have tickets to a piano performance at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan tomorrow night -- I'm not sure what will become of those. I suppose if we can get into the city we'll go, but otherwise we may have to skip it. I guess I should check with the Y and see if refunds are possible in that case.

(Photo: Garage doors in Jamaica, Queens, last week.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday


No, I didn't watch the Super Bowl. (I know you're all shocked.) I am glad the Saints won, though. New Orleans has been through so much -- it needed the boost!

I did watch all the commercials, which are available on the Web site of the Wall Street Journal. Snickers and Bridgestone are my favorites. Gotta love that Betty White.

A lot of the snow in the photo above has already melted. (This is the roof of an apartment building we see from our window.) But I hear we're due to get more this week. Joy!

Yesterday I had my second gift massage. It went much more smoothly than the first, I suppose because I knew what to expect. When that woman climbed onto my back it didn't freak me out as much! I also made it to the gym, and Dave and I watched movies and had a great weekend nesting.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Danish Coffee Ring!


So here's my finished Danish Coffee Ring, as mentioned in today's earlier post. I made this sucker entirely on my own, and it turned out fine! That's especially remarkable considering I hadn't made it in 30 years or so. Dave has definitely reawakened my interest in cooking!

It's basically a leavened sweet pastry with raisins, almonds and cinnamon, and a sweet vanilla glaze. It's rolled and then formed into a circle on the baking sheet.

(I never realized I had such a penchant for wheel-shaped desserts.)

Snowmageddon


Well, here we are in the middle of a legendary snowfall, though from the looks of things it won't be as bad in New Jersey as it is to the south of us. The plows and snowblowers are out already -- I hear them grinding away in the pre-dawn darkness. I've seen this storm variously referred to as "Snowmageddon," "Snowcalypse" and "Snowpocalypse." Take your pick!

Dave and I went to the store yesterday and stocked up on groceries, like every other living soul within a ten-mile radius. We had to park the car in Newark, practically. But we did manage to buy all that we needed, so we have a cozy weekend of cooking and movie-watching planned. (On the movie agenda: "Ordinary People," "Opening Night" (with John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands), and "The Shining.")

We're going to make something known as a Danish Coffee Ring, from a recipe I cut out of Southern Living magazine way back in 1980 or so. I made it then, loved it, made it one more time, and haven't made it since. It will be fun to see if it's as good as I remember.

I am normally not good at sitting around the house for long periods of time. I get cabin fever. So we'll see how I fare! Right now, the prospect of digging out the car isn't very appealing despite its novelty.

(Now there's a huge backhoe in the parking lot with spotlights and a plow attached to the front. Kind of seems like an overreaction, but whatever.)

(Photo: E. 29th Street, January 2009)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Interview


Completely unexpectedly, I had a job interview yesterday!

It all began Wednesday night. I'd just returned to New Jersey after a long, tiring day in the city -- stomping around Queens all morning and then taking care of some co-op business in the afternoon. I was exhausted. Lo and behold, an e-mail popped up on my computer from a major news organization asking for an interview!

So I barreled back into the city yesterday morning and went into a whirlwind of activity to prepare, assembling a packet of my writing samples and printing up fresh resumes. The interview seemed to go well, but it was very preliminary, so it's hard to tell. The job is appealing to me, at any rate, though it has the potential to completely change my recent plans to sell my apartment and move in with Dave.

I swear, things change so fast, I'm going to get whiplash from life.

Anyway, that's why yesterday's post was devoid of words. I just didn't have a chance to write anything, though I did at least blog from the road -- that sticker was just a funny item I found on a lamppost.

(Photo: A house in Dayton, New Jersey.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pepper


We got a dusting of snow last night in the city, where I had a co-op board meeting. I'm meeting with a Realtor today to discuss my options for selling my apartment. I'm terrified!

(I mean that in the general life sense, not in the immediate situational sense.)

Last night I had the most wonderful, peaceful time lying on my bed and thumbing through all my favorite songs on my iPod. Joni Mitchell, The Moody Blues, Angels and Airwaves. I thought about how life is motion, but at the same time I have to protect myself, my identity. Am I giving up too much? Am I moving forward or backward?

How can I bring my life together with Dave's? How can I do more to maintain myself, my interests, my preferences, while respecting and appreciating his? Will I ever have a career again? What could it possibly be?

There's a can of pepper in my kitchen cabinet that I bought in 1994 at Kash N' Karry, a now defunct (at least by that name) grocery store chain in Florida. On the back it says, "TIP: Combine with sugar and sprinkle over fresh strawberries or other fresh fruit -- tempting and delectable."

That just seems sad to me.

(Photo: RD, who aspires to tag every fire hydrant in Manhattan.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Aches and Pains


I've been having a peculiar problem with my left arm, around the elbow. It's like a muscle ache, but it seems deeper than that -- a tendon, maybe, or some joint or connective tissue. I think I must have strained something while lifting weights. I've been trying to go easier on that arm at the gym, but after more than a week it still feels stiff and painful, especially when I first wake up in the mornings.

My left shoulder is also a little tricky. I can't scratch my own back anymore, which I used to be able to do with ease. I can feel my rotator cuff creaking and protesting when I reach in certain directions.

And then there's my right hand, which seems to have developed a tendency to go numb fairly easily. I notice it in bed and even when I'm just sitting around. What's up with that?!

I don't think any of these are really serious problems. If they persisted or got more severe I might have them checked out, but let's face it -- I'm in my mid-40s!

Aging is so interesting -- when you're younger, you hear older people saying things about their aches and pains, or how their hearing is going, or their eyesight isn't what it used to be. (Not to mention their memories.) But you never really know what they mean until you start aging yourself. Then you find yourself thinking, "Ah! So THIS is what it's like!"

I don't mind it, really. It's just what happens to all of us. C'est la vie.

(Photo: Graffiti by Jhoke, South Amboy, N.J.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Single Man


Lots of cooking this weekend -- clam chowder on Saturday, and last night a fish dish layering butternut squash, cauliflower and pollock wrapped in thin potato slices. Our friend Adam came over to share last night's dinner, which also included blackberry and pear cobbler.

(I used to pick blackberries in the wild while growing up in Florida, and my babysitter often made cobblers from them. It still irks me to spend $3.99 for a carton of blackberries, when to me they should be as free as water or air.)

On Saturday we watched DVDs of "Marnie," one of Hitchcock's lesser efforts from the '60s, and "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," known mostly for being Roger Ebert's one screenwriting venture. "Beyond" was a spectacularly, phantasmagorically bad picture, but at the same time a riveting period piece. It had nothing to do with Jacqueline Susann's book or the movie of that book. It was just a drug-fueled psychedelic romp of unknown actors, bared breasts and fake blood spatters. There was even a beheading!

Yesterday we went to see "A Single Man," Tom Ford's movie (adapted from Christopher Isherwood's novel) about a professor coping with the sudden death of his partner of 16 years. It was a good movie in places, with terrific performances by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore -- in fact, Firth is being buzzed about as a potential Oscar nominee. But I thought the film crawled a bit and was too heavy on style, to the detriment of content. You could tell the director is a fashion designer!

(Photo: Coney Island, January 2010.)