Thursday, December 31, 2009

Images 2009

Some photos I took this year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Up in the Air: Best Movie of the Year

Finally a movie for adults showing adults facing adult issues. No CGI. No blue creatures. No vampires. It's been quite a while since I've seen a movie like this one. Based on a novel, this is the story of a man who basically travels 300 days of the year, traveling from city to city laying off people at different companies. This is a movie that deals with various subjects and does so intelligently. It deals with relationships, with the fear of commitment, with expecting too much from relationships. It also deals with a current issue, how people everywhere are losing their jobs. It is a funny movie sometimes, it is sad too. There is not a single false moment in it. And just when you think the movie may be going corny on us, it throws us a curve that a director like Francois Truffaut would have loved.

I can't say enough god things about this movie. BTW, I was the oldest person in the auditorium watching this movie. All the young people seemed to be going to see "Avatar". Kind of sad. Because this movie could teach them a thing or two about life , love and happiness.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes before he was an action hero

Now that the most famous detective in the world has been turned into Jason Bourne, it's great that TCM is having a Sherlock Homes film festival. It is a good chance to see how the movies have traditionally portrayed the character. I have seen a couple of the Basil Rathbone ones. They are fun to watch, even though Dr. Watson is portrayed too much like a bumbling fool, something that goes against the Watson of the Conan Doyle novels. But Basil Rathbone is indeed great as the great detective. He is brainy, smart, cool and clever. I love his portrayal, especially his voice.

TCM also showed The Hound of the Baskervilles with Holmes being portrayed by Peter Cushing and he does a excellent job. Cushing was a really underrated actor, stuck with the label of being an actor of horror movies.This movie shows he could have been more.

Of course, the best Holmes was not in the movies, but on tv. Jeremy Brett's portrayal in the British Granada Tv series is indeed the definite one. His Holmes is eccentric, strange and brilliant. When I read the novels, and I do once in a while, I read them with Brett's portrayal in mind.

Will I watch the new movie? I won't. I refuse to see Holmes for the ADD generation. I just can't.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Remembering Brittany

When the other day I read about actress Brittany Murphy's death, I must admit I wasn't sure who she was. I thought she was one of those Disney created actresses Hannah Montana and Mylie Cyrus. Then I heard people talking about how she has begun her career in the movie "Clueless" and then I remembered who she was. I saw "Clueless" during a really rainy day in Miami. The theater complex next to the hotel was full of not so promising movies, but I had read a couple of good reviews about "Clueless" and I decided to see it. The movie is actually quite entertaining. It was set to make a movie star out of Alicia Silverstone. But there was an actress in it that projected such niceness, vulnerability and honesty that she won me over in a minute. I somehow wished the movie would have been about her. And now I realize it was Brittany Murphy. She steals the movie in every scene she's in. She was that good. She really was.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Last Days of Disco.

I had no idea that this movie was any good until I read about it in Mike Clark's USA Today column. I ordered it form Netflix and I'm glad I did. This is a well, written, impeccably acted movie about a group of young professionals during the early 1980's , their love lives and how disco shaped their social lives. It is an adult movie that treats characters in an intelligent way. I was spacially impressed with the acting of the two lead actresses: Chloe Sevigny (a sort of crush of mine and someone I admire for her gutsy role choices) and Kate Beckinsale (which has never been an actress I like).

The movie does something films rarely do today; it shows the relationships between men and women and says intelligent says about it. There is a scene in which one character talks about how "The Lady and the Tramp"'s whole point is to teach little girls to fall in love with jerks. It is a funny scene that speaks volumes and is better written and executed than similar dialogue in Tarantino's movies. Don't let the disco on the title fool you. this is not "Thank God it's Friday".

The movie was written and directed by Whit Stillman in 1998. And he hasn't made a movie since. The fact that he hasn't says a lot about the state of movies today. Highly recommended.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Athlete as a jerk: "Downhill Racer"

All movies about sports feature the athlete as a dreamer, a driven person, almost a religious figure. So it's so refreshing to see a movie that features an athlete as a vain, shallow person. Which is probably closer to reality in the case of 90% of athletes. Just looks at all the sports figures in the news today.

The movie stars Robert Redford as an Olympic hopeful from a small town in Colorado who is trying to win a gold medal in the Olympics. He cares nothing about his team, his coach. There is no dream of hearing the Star Spangled Banner when he wins. He's in it for the money and for the chance to go to bed with as many women as possible.

The skiing sequences are amazing, especially considering that in the 1960's cameras were not as as small as today. They are all thrilling, even for someone who is not a skiing fan.

I loved this movie. Rent it today.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Avatar scares me

I have zero interest in watching "Avatar". But I will probably go to the Metro theater to see it simply because everyone will be talking about it. All the hype about "the future of movies" is kind of scary. Because if the future of cinema is overblown 3D movies aimed at 14 year olds, well, then movies are over for me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ABBA is rock n' roll!

If there was any doubt that pop culture is heading to hell, it is now clear it is. ABBA has been elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Under what definition of rock does ABBA fall? And this is not the only weird selection. Last year they elected Madonna, who may be talented and created some interesting music, but it was certainly not rock n' roll. Oh, and reggae singer Jimmy Cliff is in this year too. Bubble Gum. Dance Music. Reggae. I don't get it.

I guess these selections are a symptom of rock's falling popularity. So the Rock N' Roll Museum figured that adding people from different genres would attract more people. That's fine, but please change the name of the museum to something like the "Pop Music Museum".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This morning I did some Christmas shopping. I went to the mall early when it was not so crowded and basically did most of my shopping in 3 hours. A friend of mine suggested I do my Christmas shopping online. But I told her it wasn't the same. Online shopping works for most everything else, but not for Holiday shopping. I like the ritual of having a list, going to the mall. I enjoy hearing the Christmas muzak at Macy's. I like seeing the little kids in line to get a photo with Santa or waiting for the fake snow machine to start.

And I am touched by these small things not because I am a believer in the Christmas story. I guess it's a more that the ritual reminds me of the passing of time, of the ending of a year. It is also in a way, the time of the year that is really unique. The music is different, the look and the decoration of the city, too. You turn on the tv and Charlie Brown and Rudolph are there or some choir singing carols is once again on PBS. Even the food we eat is different. So I am willing to put up with all the cheesiness of the season because it does give me small pleasures. And as one gets older, one realizes that the small pleasures are what life is all about.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Summing Up

As we are approaching the end of this year, I wanted to make a list of cool things about 2009 in my life. They are in no particular order.

1. Getting my career back on track. After five years at a retail agency, being fired from there and spending 8 months forgotten by the industry, I was lucky enough to find a job where I am able to do good work AND get home by 6:30pm.

2. The trip to England and Scotland. Walking on Penny Lane in Liverpool was the equivalent of a Muslim visiting Mecca. And Edinburgh was amazing, the kind of city you want to visit again.

3. The trip to Canada. A truly beautiful place. And in spite of all the snide jokes about it, Niagara Falls is impressive. Loved Quebec City and the food in Toronto and Ottawa.

4. NYC. It was great to hang out with E. and seeing "Hair". And of course, the philosophical talks after a couple of glasses of wine are always great. And the fact that An. was also in NYC with her husband made the trip really cool. Loved walking around the city with Ch. and taking photos around Washington Square.

5. Photography. I have taken photography as a hobby and I think I am getting pretty good at it. A couple of photographers I know have told me I have a great sense of composition and that my photos are interesting. Photography has become a way of doing creative work apart from my job.

6. Class reunion. Well, it sucked. When I went in the party, I wanted to get out of felt as awful and strange as, well, high school. BUT I did get to see JE, a good friend I had not seen for 30 years. It was really special to see him, away from the actual reunion party, and have a couple of beers and talk about life.

7. Books. This year, reading has supplanted movie watching as a pastime. And I have read so many good books this year.

Of course, there are the things that are not something new this year. They are small things that are not so small. The lunches with An. The telephone calls with E.. The dinners with J.. Talking with my mother about old movies. The lunches with Na. and Li The Saturday lunches with my father and my sister. And many, many other things. And....the fact that I revived my blog....I am really proud of that.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


When I was a boy the local channel 11 was broke so they ran really weird movies, the cheapest they could find, I guess.
Well, one night I saw this movie about bikers who find out that if they commit suicide, they can come back as undead bikers and terrorize the world for eternity. This all due to some witches who worship frogs. I can't begin to describe the weirdness here.
In a way it is an awful movie, but one has to admire a movie which combines bikers, zombies, women in miniskirts, and bad 60's music. And did I mention that the bikers kill babies at supermarkets? And that George Sanders, the Hollywood star who had made "Dorian Gray" in the 1940's, committed suicide after doing this movie?

TCM showed this movie as part of it's late night Underground series. And I must thank them. After a week of hard work, this is the sort of nonsense I really needed.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

one year

A year ago my career was basically over. I was in theory, a freelancer, but in reality I was a has been. Nobody would call me for a job and I ended up writing letters for a Medicare supplement company. Nor exactly the coda I wanted for my advertising career. Then while sitting at a Starbucks browsing the Internet and drinking coffee I got a call from an old workmate. He was forming a new creative group and was wondering whether I was interested. Well, I was.

A year later, I have just completed a new campaign. Some of the ads have drawn praise from peers, something I had not received for many years. The other day when they were shown at the agency, people laughed and applauded. And looking at them I realize, dammit, they are pretty good. So here I am one year to the day when I was sitting in that Starbucks, brooding about where my career was headed. Little did I realize it was eventually heading back up. Funny how life is.

Friday, December 11, 2009

the other night

Wednesday night I had a shoot during the night in a store in one of the worst parts of town. It is a crime ridden area full of drug related crime. I have no idea why we ended up shooting there. Well, I know really. The agency was putting a lot of pressure on the production company to shoot quickly and this was the only place they found. Anyway, while leaving the shoot after midnight, i had to drive through a lonely, dark section of the city. The only cars around had tinted glasses and were driving slow, for god knows what reason. They were the scariest five minutes in my life in a long time. And I felt so alone, so vulnerable. And as usually happens, every traffic light was red. I finally reached the expressway and felt ok. I turned on the cd player and listened to some music, Holiday music actually. As I listened to a choir singing "Oh Christmas Tree" I felt such relief. I got home, undressed, grabbed a book and read. I read without concentrating on what I was reading. All I was thinking was, I'm home.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Barbara Hershey: two movies

This weekend I saw two movies by underrated actress Barbara Hershey. First I saw her notorious 1981 horror movie "The Entity", a truly mediocre movie "based on a true story" about a woman who is regularlt attacked and raped by a poltergeist. It was widely attacked by feminists and ignored by the public. And one can see why. The movie is boring, repetitive and half an hour too long. Still, one can see for it Hershey's amazing performance. Her acting keeps this movie from becoming truly risible. If one wants to see a fine example of an actor saving a movie, look no further than this movie.

Much more interesting is "Boxcar Bertha", an early Martin Scorcese movie made for the Roger Corman B movie factory. It has the usual Corman touches: violence, nudity. But Scorcese turns it into a Depression era, thoughful movie about capitalism, poverty, racism and class warfare. There are truly beautiful moments here. But again, Barbara Hershey delivers a truly special performance. She is unafraid of nudity (in fact at the time she alleged that her sex scenes in the movie were real) and has an intensity that one doesn't see these days.

Sadly, Hershey never really became a star. She did have her moment in the sun in Woody Allen's "Hannah and her Sisters". But she has sort of vanished since them. A real shame. Maybe someone like Quentin Tarantino will create a movie in which she can show again what a great actress she is.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paul McCartney: Good evening New York

Today I bought the Paul McCartney Live concert DVD. It was filmed at the Citi Stadium concerts he did earlier this year. I don't know why I didn't simply catch a plane and go see them. I have friends in New York that maybe would have accompany me. But I didn't. All the reviewers said it was great concert. And tonight I will watch it at my home. Paul is the last Beatle still active, still making music. He is a link to my youth when in 1976 I went to the old NY Department Store in Santurce and decided to buy my first Beatle record. I had heard a few of their songs, but I hardly knew their music. That afternoon when I heard that record (Beatles 67-70), I was hooked and I consequently bought all their albums and their solo records.

So today I went to Borders and participated in a ritual I hope to continue doing. I pulled from the shelves a Beatles record.
I bought it. Looked at the cover. And Said to myself " I am listening to this tonight. Yes I am".

Last Blog Standing

Two years ago most of my friends had blogs. They would write and share ideas and feelings. Today I looked at some of them and they haven't been updated since 2007. And it's a real shame. It seems people prefer to write short updates on Facebook rather than take the time to express things in more depth. For a while I abandoned this blog, but I came back to it. Because it means something to me. And because I love to look back and see what was I feeling and thinking a few years back. There is something fulfilling and lasting about a blog. And I love that.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sun Also Rises

Great books make bad movies. Bad books make great movies. That seems to be an old movie theme. A terrible novel like "The Godfather" made for an excellent movie. And well, if you want an example of a great novel turned into a bad movie look no further than "The Sun Also Rises" made in the 1957 and shown on Cinemax the other day. A story about the post World War I generation wasting their young lives in 1920's Paris and Spain, Fox decided to cast the movie with 40 year olds and turn it into a movie about people having middle age crisis. And the magic of Hemingway's novel is completely gone.

There are some ok scenes most of them shot during the running of the bulls during the San Fermin festivities. But they don't compensate for a really big, pretentious, boring movie. All in Cinemascope to make the fiasco even bigger. Sometimes I complain about how today's movies are big and empty. Well, producer Daryll Zanuck was making them back in the 1950's during his reign in Fox. No wonder he was fired after churning out disaster after disaster. But that's another story.

Valentino and celebrity culture

"Valentino" was a movie directed by notorious British director Ken Russell. During his heyday in the 1970's he specialized in creating over the top biography movies. Most of them were critically panned, but none as much as his Rudolph Valentino biography. Critics pointed out that most of what appears onscreen never happened. They stressed how awful Rudolph Nureyev was in the title role.

But watching it last night on TCM, I agree on those points. But I guess Russell was making more of a statement on celebrity culture. After all, Valentino was the first cinema idol, he was cinema's first true star. IN a way he was the first mass media rock n' roll type star.

And I love how Russell builds his movie around Valentino's funeral. During the funeral, several people who knew him make grand statements about him and how he influenced his or her life. They are all exaggerating his influence, some of them telling obvious lies. But that is the beauty of the movie. It reminded me so much of the Michael Jackson funeral where hangers on and people who I'm sure couldn't care less about him were making grandiose statements about how Jackson touched their lives.

Russell created a biography based on lies because most celebrities lives and biographies are built on lies. This is not a terrible movie. Actually, it's quite brilliant. And I loved Leslie Caron as a horny lesbian. Only Ken Russell could have done such casting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Jaime Bayly

For some strange reason, extreme left wingers dominate debate in Latin America. And they are so smug about it. That's why it is so refreshing to hear someone like Peruvian writer, tv show host Jaime Bayly. He is the extreme left winger's worst nightmare. A brilliant, intelligent person who refuses to deal in anti-American, left wing cliches. And he is not the usual right winger. He is openly bisexual and is open minded in a great variety of topics. But he calls them as he sees them. He doesn't fall for the Castro Chavez mythology. He realizes both are simple dictators.

And when not dealing with politics, he has an amazing, perceptive sense of "no bullshit." The day following Michael Jackson's death, instead of being politically correct and saying wonderful things about the recently dead singer, he decided to cut the crap and give the audience a reality check about the whole circus that was the singer's life and death. Yes, sometimes it was cruel, but it was brilliant. And true.

See his show on the NTN24 website or on You Tube.

Jacques Demy's The Model Shop

I am a sucker for goofy movies from the 1960's. Especially movies from major studios desperately trying to be be cool and appeal to the rebellious generation of that era. I was expecting :The Model Shop", shown recently on Turner Classic Movies, to be such a movie. I was expecting LSD sequences, women in mini skirts dancing to music played by a band goofy looking kids. What I got was a thoughtful, sad, almost depressing movie about two very lonely people. One a French woman who went to LA and ended up a model in a sleazy joint where pervs take photos of her. The other a drifter type who has no goals, no plans. But he is not a likable guy either. He is a total loser in every way. They meet by chance and well, he falls in love. She, well, is not sure about the whole thing.

The movie was directed by Jacques Demy, the director of such movies as "The Umbrellas of Chembourg" and "The Young Girls of Rockefort". But this movie is so different. There is none of the color and music of those movies. This is a bout sad reality. About unrequited love (there are two such stories here). There are scenes that don't work that well, some of them go on for two long. But, like watching real life, one can't take the eyes off the screen. And that's more thats more than one can say about 99% of movies.

Politics and Facebook

I am in Facebook. I admit it. I use it mainly to keep in touch with people I don't see for long periods of time. It is a way of saying "Hi" twice a year, to comment on their photos. Thanks to Facebook I have been able to reconnect with people from my past.

But lately I have been noticing people who use Facebook to throw their political beliefs out there. And they do so in such an arrogant way. Putting down other people's beliefs, insulting people. I think this is such a stupid thing to do. At first I thought that was ok, I'll just move on to other things. But then it started to bother me, to make me angry. Because implicit in their words was the idea that I was a moron because I don't share their beliefs.

So I have been dropping them as friends. So long. It was great to catch up with you after so many years. But the thing is, respect for others is something I cherish. It's something that means so much more than your virtual friendship.

Antony Beevor "D-Day"

These days I haven't been doing much movie watching since I have been absorbed in a truly amazing history book. It's an account of D-Day. I know what you're saying...another book on that topic, but this is such a superior book to all others. The author has a talent for telling a story full oh historical facts without making it boring. But the most interesting thing is how he tells the story from the point of view of so many, soldiers, officers. And from the point of view of the Allies and of the Nazis. This is the kind of book that places you in the middle of it all in such an interesting way. This is a book that one wishes would go on and on. Very few books are able to do that. Something which makes it a true classic.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Leslie Caron on TCM

Turner Classic Movies is dedicating this month to French actress Leslie Caron, an actress I am now discovering. When one thinks of beautiful French sex symbols one always thinks of Brigitte Bardot, but the years have been unkind to the latter. She became a very strange person, becoming a fanatical animal right's advocate and a xenophobic conservative.

In the other hand, Caron grew old gracefully, still making movies and tv appearances (she won an Emmy last year). And during the TCM interview one can see what a wonderful woman she is. And her movies hold up very well, from musicals such as "Gigi" to dramas such as "The L-Shaped Room".

So do yourself a favor and catch a couple of her movies Mondays night on TCM.


It's October and it has become a small quirk of mine to dig out old horror movies. And this weekend I dug up a movie by Italian director Dario Argento called "Phenomena". And this is really a strange one. It's a bout a girl (Jennifer Connelly) that goes to a private boarding school were there are a series of murders ocurring (but nobody seems to investigate them very much). She gets involved in discovering who the killer is through her unusual power over insects. There's also an avenging ape involved in this, but I won't get into it. This is a really atrocious movie deserving the MST300 treatment, but it is so weird in its awfulness that it keeps you watching. That and Jennifer Connelly, who is hypnotizingly beautiful.

Argento, a director of giallos (Italian slasher films) created some interesting movies such as "Suspiria"...but he seemed to have lost his touch ever since. Still, this is a cool movie to watch somehow. Just be warned, it makes no sense at all.

Monday, September 07, 2009


I'm a sucker for small, romantic movies. But lately they all feel the need to be quirky and strange. Like offbeat characters are needed to make a film like that special. Well, today I saw a film from 1973 called "Jeremy" about two shy 15 year olds who fall in love. There is nothing quirky on how they met, in fact they do in an extremely ordinary way. And everything else that happens is quite normal, and still the movie feels special. The movie portrays so well the confusion and ackwardness of that age. And in a way, we see ourselves at that age with all our problems and confusions. And any movie that is able to do that deserves praise.

Yes, the scene when they make love for the first time is not too realistic and yes, the soundtrack is kind of corny. But one can forgive that. And I thank the makers of this film for not pandering to the public with an unrealistic ending.

All in all, a nice little movie. They don't make them like this anymore. Which is a shame.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Polanski's "Repulsion"

There are movies that are worth revisiting. Roman Polanki's "Repulsion" is one of them. I guess because it is so unusual. A low budget horrror movie that was sold as a "Psycho" knockoff but that ended up being so much more. Whereas "Psycho" has become a kind of campy movie, a cool movie with a gimmick, "Repulsion" still works. Maybe because the mental illness portrayed in the movie is so real. And having gone through an anxiety disorder a couple of years ago. now it even feels more so.
What is amazing about the movie is how her condition is portrayed by using little twitches and reactions. It is never "here's the loonie" approach of "The Shining". It instead, anad Polanski says talks bout it in a documentary included in the DVD, shows that a person with that illness has various states, some in which the condition is more apparent and some in which the person looks completely normal. And it is amazing how well Catherine Denueve portrays this. It is a nuanced, extraordinary performance. And a brilliant achievement by Polanski.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Trips and life

It's interesting how traveling can open one mind to so many new things. During my recent trip to England and Scotland I saw many things of which I knew not much about. First, the history of the English monarchy. I visited the Tower of London, heard the guide talk about the Tudors and Anne Boleyn and quite frankly I was pretty much lost. Then I saw the crown jewels and I said to myself that maybe I should seek out movies and books that deal with this topic. So this weekend I am doing an English monarchy movie festival at home. I have "Elizabeth" with Cate Blanchett which is supposed to be a great film. I also have an older one called "Mary, Queen of Scots". And I have "The Other Boleyn Girl" on my DVR. So that should cover that.

On the way from Scotland to England, the tour guide began talking about the James Harriett books and I became very curious about them. They tell of life in Yorkshire during the 1940's and his life as a veterinarian in a small town. So I went to Borders and bought "All Creatures Great and Small". I have had absolutely no interest in these books before. But it's great when a trip abroad opens new horizons and makes one curious about new things.

I will write about the movies and the books on my next posting.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Man on the Moon

So it has been 40 years. My God. I was a little kid, but I remember that Sunday so well. Our family was on a Sunday pool party in Rio Grande and everyone was talking about what was going to happen that night. Man was going to walk on the moon. The excitement was so huge. I couldn't wait for the party to end so we could go home and watch the event on tv. And it was Via satellite which was a big deal those days. Only BIG events were shown via satellite in Puerto Rico. And this one was the biggest of them all. One of the biggest of all time. And I had a chance to see it!

Well, there was something of a letdown. The tv image was extremely poor. One couldn't see much. It was blurry and dark. We were not sure what we were seeing...was that Neil Armstrong? Is he walking on the moon? I expected the transmission to be all clear and crisp. Here was the biggest event in my lifetime and I could only see ghostly images!

But I didn't care. I was watching it. And days later, I rushed to the newsstands to get the Life magazine full of great photos. Photos that showed clearly what we didn't see on television. My lifelong love affair with all things NASA had just begun.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

100 minutes

Someone once told me that when he felt life was becoming a burden, he would put a Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers movie on his DVD player and every pain in the world would go away. He said it would work like magic.

Well, the other night I finally saw my first Astaire-Rogers movie. Hard to believe, but I had never seen one in its entirety. And I can see what my friend means. There is a joy, an innocence and a beauty in those old black and white movies that is truly magical. In the world shown in these movies, love conquers all and everything can be solved by a little bit of singing and dancing.
Life is not like that, but for 100 minutes it is. And what more can you ask of a work of art? 100 minutes of joy is a real gift.


Listening to some guitar music.
Just being here.
And breathing.
Realizing where I am now.
Capturing the moment like I do when I take a photo.
A snapshot of me now.
How did it turn out?
It's a good one.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Goodbye Mr. Chips

I saw this movie when I was a kid. I remember seeing it at the Metro theater in San Juan. And I recall being bored to tears. 40 years later I absolutely loved this movie. It made me realize what a great actor Peter O'Toole is. He was a young man when he made this and he aged 40 years in the movie and he manages not only to look older, but to act so incredibly well. You believe he is an old man. The story about a strict school professor who becomes a better person through the love of a woman is kind of predictable, but it is truly irresistible.

The little kid may have hated this movie. But the middle age man loves it. Get it on DVD!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Free Summer afternoons, "yeah, right"

The agency that I worked at has a policy of working on Summer Fridays until 1pm. I wish they didn't. Because it's a joke. Our clients are a disorganized, chaotic, inept bunch. So it's impossible to go home early. In fact, this policy ruins my Fridays because I am constantly thinking that "maybe this Friday" I will be able to go home and spend an afternoon at the beach. And just when it seems it will happen, some jerk forgot about an ad and it's a rush job, and there goes my Friday afternoon.
So I beg the people at the agency to stop this nonsense. Creating false expectations is cruel. It's awful.

less time online

I am realizing I am spending way too much time online. And what bothers me is that I am spending too much time online, wasting time. I barely write on this blog which is a kind of creative use of the net. No, I am watching stupid videos and visiting stupid sites. So I am making a bow to cutting my online time at home to less than 30 minutes a day. I want to go back to reading books, watching movies, going out for walks, seeing friends. So I make a bow of less than 30 minutes online a day. I will probably not keep it, but I am giving it a shot.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Almost disaster

Today while leaving for lunch I almost had a terrible traffic accident. A truck that was sitting by highway decided to get into the highway just as I was passing by. It was so close to being a disaster. I got incredibly mad at the driver and proceeded to go to lunch. Then as I was sitting there eating my sandwich, it struck me just how close I came to injury. For close to 30 seconds, I lost it. I closed my eyes with a mixture of anger and terror but with a realization of just how plain lucky I was. I could have been in a hospital. I could have been dead. But there I was, having my lunch. I am not a religious man, but just in case, I thanked God for being there.


I find it interesting that the article that consistently gets hits on my blog is the one I wrote about obscure French actress Valerie Quennessen. It seems there are a lot of people who were struck by her beauty and charm in the very few movies she made before her death in 1989. My favorite has always been "French Postcards", a movie about American students spending a year of college in Paris. This is the movie that shows her at her best. You have to fall in love with her in this one. As she seduces the American student. she is seducing every viewer. She also made an awful, although some consider it a guilty pleasure, called "Summer Lovers" She spends most of the movie nude, so I can't say I hate it. Then she retired and died in a traffic accident 7 years later.
Gone, but not forgotten. At least by the people who visit my blog.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience on Onelink cable tv

Onelink's HD Net Movies is showing excellent independent movies BEFORE they are shown on theaters. And last night I saw Steven Sodenberg;s new movie "The Girlfriend Experience". This movie is a kind of back to his roots as director of "Sex, Lies and Videotape", the movie that made him famous. It's basically a character study. This time of a high priced call girl and the people around her. It's a fascinating look into that world. One thing also makes it interesting. The call girl is played by a hard core porno actress named Sasha Grey. And she is very good playing a woman who decides she wants this kind of life. And the movie makes the point (but not in an too obvious way) that any type of work is a kind of prostitution.

I am not a Sodenberg fan. I like some of his movies, despise some of them. But al least, he is a director that takes chances. And if you're in the mood and want some intelligent cinema for 75 minutes (it's pretty short for a regular movie), you can do worse than seek out "The Girlfriend Experience". It won't be shown on HD Net Movies anymore, but you can catch it on Onelink Video On Demand or 4 months from now at Fine Arts Cafe.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Their story has been a kind of obsession of mine. "Alive" was the first adult book I remember reading. And I am very much fascinated by theri story. I am talking, of course, of the Uruguayan students whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972 and had to resort to eating the flesh of the dead. And I'm not fascinated so much by the gruesomeness of it, but by the humanity they represented. The idea that surviving is the most important thing in the world and that our instinct for survival can be so amazing.

So this week I saw the documentary "Stranded" in which survivors tell their story. It is so interesting to see them talking to camera, explaining 30 years later, how they felt. Most of it I had read in various books, but listening to them made it more intimate and frankly, more human.

But one thing stuck with me this time around. Towards the end of the documentary a helicopter travesl the distance from where the plane crash to where the survivors finally found civilization. And someone says that someone would have needed super human strength, proper equipment and much training to have been able to climb those mountains. And yet these men did it half starved to death and without even a rope for equipment. Another aspect of this incredible story was revealed.

This is one excellent documentary.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Awful movies

When I was a kid I used to love Terence Hill movies. I thought the Trinity westerns were so cool. Well , the other day the cable channel Encore Westerns showed a Terence Hill movie that I adored way back. It's "Man of the East", an Italian western from 1974. I recall I dragged my mom and dad to see it and I came out of the theater thinking it was the coolest movie ever. So last night I decided to embark on a nostalgia trip. I was going to watch a movie I had not seen for 30 years. I didn't make it past the 15 minute mark. I hated every minute of it. The comedy was broad and stupid. Everything about it was just so amazingly awful. I usually find something to like in movies I saw as a kid, but I couldn't find anything here. I ended up watching some nature documentaries to compensate for the mind numbing 15 minutes of "Man of the East".

Which makes me want to thank my mom and dad. I can imagine how they felt watching this movie with me. Made me realize again how wonderful they are.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


There are ceratin routines that I still carry from my youth. And one of them is buying a CD from a favorite artist the very day it comes out. I know this is incredibly old fashioned, but I still like the idea of physically owning the CD. I read the small booklet and the lyrics and I like looking at the list of musicians involved. I also like seeing the artwork. Somehow a cd should be a complete work of artistic expression.

So yesterday I went through my routine and bought the new Cat Stevens cd. I am still looking at the artwork. Then I will listen to the music. A routine I love.

Monday, May 04, 2009


I had plans to see a few movies I had rented from Netflix, but eneded up doing other things and only saw one. It was a movie called "Iris" from a few years back. It stars Kate Winslet and Dame Judi Dench as young and old author Iris Murdoch. It is a movie about a carefree woman and her life with her supportive husband and it is intercut with her later life as she loses her mind to Alzheimer's. Winslet is wonderful as the young Iris in all her wildness. Dame Judi Dench is heartbreaking as a woman who suddenly is unable to do the most simple things. And Jim Broadbent is amazing as her husband , who despite Iris infidelities with men and women, stands by her side. It is a sad movie, but Iris's enjoyment of life in her youth makes you realize that despite the sad eneding, she did enjoy life.