Thursday, July 30, 2009


Today I did something I've been threatening to do for practically half my life. I got a tattoo. I decided to finally take the plunge after my friend Cara finally took hers last week. Almost as soon as I knew that I was finally going to do it, I had an idea for the perfect image: the representative symbol of my astrological sign, Taurus, the bull. El Toro. Strong. Masculine. Totally cool. I looked online for the perfect bull, and the first one I found (above) was the one I knew I wanted.

Ironically, I once broke up with a boyfriend over tattoos. He and I were on our way to see The Stepford Wives (the Nicole Kidman version), and somehow the subject of tattoos came up. He was vehemently opposed to them and emphatically said as much several times, as if he were daring me to disagree. I took the bait. I find tattoos to be incredibly sexy on guys, and I stated my case just as passionately. Enough said.

Not so fast. After one week of peace with no mention of tattoos, I woke up to find an email from my boyfriend ripping me apart for my tattoo views. He accused me of expressing my thoughts in such a "vulgar" manner, as if I had been mid-orgasm in the middle of the street. How dare I, he asked, even consider finding guys with tattoos sexy when I knew he would never be one of them? The nerve! Taken aback by this out-of-nowhere rant, and seizing the perfect opportunity to exit a relationship that wasn't exactly working, I rolled my eyes, sighed and kindly let him know, in a response email, that I would no longer be needing his presence in my life. Now enough said. (Maybe I'll send him a photo.)

Five years later, here I am, with a huge tattoo on my right bicep. One of the things that kept me from getting it a long time ago was the pain involved, not to mention that I could never think of a great image that I would want to wear on my sleeve (literally) forever. I'd always heard that the inking process is excruciatingly painful. Not so. The worst part is knowing that you're in the process of defacing your body irreversibly. Once that idea has settled in, it's a total cake walk. Now I can't wait to reveal my body art to the world. I'm convinced that the sudden urge I have to get several more is my mid-life crisis once again rearing it's ugly head. I'm sure I'll eventually come to my senses. Until then, I'll be counting the days to summer when it's once again sartorially correct to wear shirts without sleeves.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today I'm thinking about change -- personal, global and every kind in-between. As the '00s come to a close (where did the time fly?) and seque into the second decade of the century, there will be countless Top 10 lists, essays and requiems for dreams left unfulfilled, all trying to put the '00s into some kind of historical context (the latter pursuit is kind of pointless, as it normally takes until the end of the next decade to figure out the previous one -- the '90s only now are starting to cohere for me in the big-picture sense).

Of course, pundits will be analyzing the movies, music and TV of the decade to death. I've gotten a head start on that one, thinking about history and where it brought us in the first decade of the 21st century. I'll start with movies and TV. In the 1960s, both were in a sort of holding pattern. On TV, many of the top programs, from The Dick Van Dyke Show to The Beverly Hillbillies to Bewitched to I Dream Of Jeannie, were either holdovers from the previous decade, or shows that would not have been out of place on 1950s TV.

It wasn't until the 1970s that shows like All In The Family, Maude, Good Times, and later, Soap, revolutionized the genre and made us laugh while bringing contemporary issues -- racism, feminism, poverty, sexuality -- to the fore on TV for the first time. Something similar happened on the silver screen. Consider several Best Picture Oscar winners from the 1960s: The Apartment, West Side Story, My Fair Lady, The Sound Of Music, Oliver! A pretty impressive group of pictures, but like the most popular TV shows of that decade, many of them seem to belong to an earlier era; they wouldn't necessarily have been out of place onscreen in the 1950s.

By the end of the decade, 1969, to be exact, the Best Picture winner, Midnight Cowboy, heralded a new development that would revolutionize film in the following decade. The 1970s was the decade of the auteur, when Martin Scorcese (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver), Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather films), Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind) and George Lucas (Star Wars) changed filmmaking forever. The former two presaged the emergence of indie film, while the latter two foreshadowed the event movie, the modern blockbuster. Today, both styles of film, for better and for worse, dominate the screen format.

Music, however, followed a very different course. Unlike movies and TV, for music, the 1960s had very little in common with the 1950s. Music has always mirrored the times more closely than film and TV, and with the dominance of Civil Rights, Vietnam and the Cold War in the headlines, music reflected the global and social unrest of the time. Black power was on the rise, and so were Motown stars like The Supremes, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. The Summer of Love and psychedelic rock were reflections of counter-culture politics, which vehemently opposed the Vietnam War. And the British invasion could be seen as an indirect result of the U.S., for the first time since World War 2, really looking beyond its borders and seriously considering its place in the world.

Three steps forward, four steps back. As much as I love '70s music -- more so than the '80s music that most of my friends as well as Argentines obsess over -- it was a step in a different direction: backwards or sideways, however you want to look at it. But with the exception of disco, which combined the further advancement of blacks with the nascent gay movement, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, whose lyrical content began to look outward at a society on the brink of imploding, there was little that was controversial or revolutionary about much of the music from the 1970s. You say you want a revolution? Been there, done that, many of the top artists of the time seemed to be singing. From Elton John to the Bee Gees to Linda Ronstadt to the Eagles, '70s music was pure entertainment and would remain so until the rise of punk late in the decade.

Today, music, movies and TV are all alive and, well, kicking. I can take or leave (preferably leave) the sci-fi blockbusters and event movies that Lucas and Spielberg spawned, but the indie movement inspired by the Scorceses and Coppolas of the 1970s continue to elevate cinema to higher levels of artistic achievement. On TV, cable has injected new creativity into the format, putting it on an artistic level that rivals the best of film. As for music, well, for every throwaway, hopelessly commercial pop star (Britney, Gaga and Rihanna), there's an M.I.A., a Cat Power, a Yeah Yeah Yeahs crafting fresh, uncompromising music.

Right here, right now, there is no other place I'd want to be, but that doesn't make me any less excited about the future, eager to see where the next decade leads.


My ex-boyfriend recently sent me a message, admonishing me for my "Rules of Attraction" and even entertaining the thought of following The Rules and indulging in the crazy little games of love. "Throw those rules right out the window," he insisted. "You be you, the dynamite person I fell in love with 10 years ago." That would have been enough to convince me to do as I was being told, but he made one very excellent point: "The rules are what cause a lack of trust later in a relationship." In other words, if you have to rely on subterfuge to land someone, can you ever be truly sure that he (or she) is really yours?

I'd say no. So I will continue to leap before I look, giving my all or nothing at all. Yes, my sensitivity always seems to get in the way. It's the story of my love life, and I don't see myself changing course in future chapters. If there really is a perfect match for me somewhere out there, I'd hope that he loses himself in the exact same way.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Today Jennifer Lopez turns 40. I'd like to post a tribute to her by listing my five favorite J. Lo movies, or her five best songs, but because I've never quite understood her success, I'll skip that part. For me, J. Lo is most significant because as I myself was approaching 40, she, along with Jennifer Aniston, were two celebs who convinced me that 40 wasn't an unlucky number. In fact, they both showed me that it was possible to exit one's 30s looking and feeling better than ever, which I believe I did. J. Lo's star has dimmed significantly in recent years, as her last several movies and her last few albums failed to find much of an audience. But perhaps there's a Cher-style comeback in her future, complete with massive hit singles and even an Oscar. I wouldn't count on it, as big big-screen comebacks after an extended break are rare (ask Michelle Pfeiffer, Demi Moore, Winona Ryder and Julia Roberts -- it's easier in music), but stranger things (like her launching a successful singing career in the first place) have happened.

Friday, July 24, 2009


"I'm probably 20 per cent atheist and 80 per cent agnostic. I don't think anyone really knows. You'll either find out or not when you get there, and then there's no point thinking about it." -- Brad Pitt

Finally, the two-time Sexiest Man Alive and I have something in common. (If these comments, reportedly made to the German website, were indeed made by Pitt -- you know how sketchy some of those European publications can be.) For me, who was raised in a household where the fire-and-brimstone version of religion was practiced and preached on a near-daily basis, the road to my current state of wholly enlightenment was long and tortured. Today, I'm thoroughly bemused by how many of my Facebook friends from my hometown (Kissimmee, Florida) regularly use the words "God" and "church" in their status updates.

But getting back to Brad, what I thought was even more revealing than the above quote, was his admitting that he's not a spiritual person. It's an interesting thing to say because almost everyone I know who does not follow any particular religion qualifies it by saying, "But I'm a very spiritual person." I'm not even sure what it means to be spiritual. Does it mean that you sit around eyes closed chanting mumble jumble? Does it mean that you have regular contact with the otherworld? Or that a piece of trash blowing in the wind is so beautiful that it turns you into a pretentious blubbering fool (like Wes Bentley's character in American Beauty)? What exactly does it mean to be spiritual.

I consider myself to be a person of great depth (whether or not anyone else thinks so), and I spend an inordinate amount of time on self-analysis and thinking about the world I live in and life in general (rather than simply living it). But at the same time, I'm a practical realist. I may believe in reincarnation and kismet and things that go bump in the night, but I have about as much use for the word "spiritual" as I do for walking barefoot in the country, getting in touch with nature.

I'm like Miranda in the episode of Sex & the City in which she and Steve spent their honeymoon out in the country. Or Carrie when Aidan dragged her out to his broken-down country house. My sentiment exactly, girls! I'm currently copy editing a book for Time Out on perfect places in Argentina and Uruguay. One allegedly "perfect place," Cabo Polonia, Uruguay, has an official population of 68 people, 72 dogs and no electricity or running water.

I suppose this kind of set up is meant to encourage spirituality -- and perhaps poor hygiene. For me, it's my worst nightmare come true. The place looks absolutely breathtaking (see the photo above for proof), but I don't do the middle of nowhere for more than a few hours. I've never gone camping, and if I have anything to say about it, I never will. Remember, depth does not necessarily equal deprivation. Give me running hot water, AC, phone service, cable TV and Wi-Fi , or give me death. I belong to a world of modern comforts where there's no talk of rainbows, unicorns and little fluffy clouds, and the closest you get to spirits is bottle of Jack Daniel's.


Last night I was watching a block of prime-time comedies on TV, and I came to a conclusion: The New Adventures of Old Christine is so last decade. I mean, other than Two And A Half Men, is there another sitcom on TV that still uses a laugh track? Vintage trappings aside, damn if Julia Louis-Dreyfus didn't have me at "Are you freakin' kidding me?!" (That was her character Christine's reaction in Season 2 Episode 2 to finding out that the guy she was dating was the father of her ex-husband's current girlfriend, also named Christine. Get it? Old and new Christine!)

I've been a huge JLD fan since Seinfeld. During that show's first run, she was the main reason I watched, if only to watch her sartorial and tonsorial transition from Annie Hall Manhattan to pre-Sex & The City Manhattan. It's only been recently, thanks to the reruns aired on the Sony Channel in South America, that I've come to appreciate the antics of Jerry, George and Kramer and actually tune in for all four equally. (Fun fact: Did you know that Everybody Loves Raymond's Patricia Heaton was among the actresses who screen tested for JLD's character, Elaine? I like Patricia, but what's with the stiff body language? She always seems to be curving her upper upper torso inward. Fun fact 2: Patricia once worked as a copy runner at People magazine, but that was a few years before I arrived.)

But back to Old Christine. It's not that the jokes are funny. Usually, they aren't. But it's all about JLD's delivery, her facial expressions, the way she is so game to poke fun of her looks (which, in my humble opinion, are pretty damn great) and her body (ditto). During her Emmy acceptance speech last year, Tina Fey said that whenever she gets stumped acting-wise, her husband always advises her to "act like JLD." Good advice. Unfortunately, despite all the 30 Rock hype (sorry, I just don't get it), Tina doesn't really pull it off. (Remember, folks, this is just my opinion.) The big difference: Tina tries to hard. JLD doesn't try at all (at least not noticeably).

It's nice to see JLD getting consistent Emmy recognition for her work. Last week, she received her fourth straight nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, having won her first time out, in 2006. This time, I'm secretly rooting for Christina Applegate for her sweet portrayal of an amnesiac on Samantha Who?. It's a tricky role, and Christina, with a little help from my beloved Jean Smart, makes the high-concept comedy work when it really shouldn't.

Not that I don't love JLD the most (I do), but I have a soft spot for Christina Applegate that has nothing to do with her recent breast cancer battle. I guess it's just nice to see a former TV child star grow up to be a productive, well-behaved and successful adult. Alyssa Milano kind of went there, but Christina's post-Married With Children hits include two moderately successful TV series, several high-profile feature films, an Emmy (for a guest appearance as the sister of Jennifer Aniston's Rachel in an episode of Friends -- note the similarities in the comedic acting styles of Jennifer and Christina, which were never apparent to me until Samantha Who?), and even a Tony nomination (for a revival of Sweet Charity). When you think of the fact that not one of the eight kids on Eight Is Enough went on to do much of anything after that show's cancellation, you realize that Christina beat some pretty massive odds.

But I digress -- again. JLD wasn't supposed to win an Emmy or have her own successful series after Seinfeld. Remember the Seinfeld curse? So what if there isn't much of a difference between Elaine and Christine? The late great Michael Landon spent decades playing the same character on different TV series, and he's an icon. JLD may never get there, but who needs iconhood when you've got two Emmys, a weekly paycheck and a sweet spot in a TV ensemble that will likely be kept alive in reruns years long after we've all kicked the bucket?

Now if only we could get Kirstie Alley back on TV all will be right with the world.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Today I'm thinking about adaptations, movies or stories that have been or that I would like to see made into movies. Yes, of course, I'm well aware that the movie is rarely as good as the book, a theory perhaps best backed up by The Talented Mr. Ripley (my second all-time favorite novel, between No. 1, Atlas Shrugged, and No. 3, The Brothers Karamazov), which was unimpressively -- for me -- remade as both Purple Noon (1960) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999).

From the moment some 10 years ago that I finished reading "The Husband I Bought," a short story written by Ayn Rand (my second favorite writer -- after Oscar Wilde -- and the author of my No. 1 novel) and published in 1926, I began thinking about the screenplay I'd someday write. In the story, a rich woman, Irene Wilmer, saves Henry Stafford, her businessman boyfriend, from financial ruin. They eventually marry, and for four years, live happily ever after. Then another woman, divorcee Claire Van Dahlen, enters the picture, and Henry falls for her. Hard. This is a fact that isn't lost on his wife.

Knowing that Henry would never leave her because he feels obligated to stick with her for saving his ass all those years ago, Irene concocts an elaborate scheme to get him to dump her: She makes it seem as if she is having an affair with another man (a plot point recently adopted by the daytime soap One Life To Live and no doubt several others). After Henry catches her in flagrante delicto, true to form, he ditches her, and Irene ends up being completely ostracized by society for her alleged misdeeds. Henry, of course, ends up with Claire. In Irene's mind, she has done the right thing because she would rather live in exile, despised by everyone, than settle for anything less than an ideal love.

Being a hopeless idealist in a very similar vein, I was haunted by the story for years after reading it, and for fun, I would cast the movie version that I'd someday make. Ashley Judd (above, right), then-hot, would be Irene (finally, perhaps, garnering the Oscar nod that has eluded her for her entire career), and Charlize Theron (above, left), then-Oscarless, would be Claire. I was never quite able to pinpoint who should play the un-ideal husband as it was ultimately a second-string reactionary role, a part ripe for a dashing, handsome actor but a non-A-list star. At the moment, Gerard Butler pops into mind, but only because he's recently been costarring with actresses who are more famous than he is: Hillary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Aniston.

Until about 30 minutes ago, I hadn't thought of the story or my movie in a while, but I decided to look it up online to see what has been written about it. Apparently, someone has beaten me to the development punch. According to, a movie version is in the works -- or was in the works at some point. The male lead: Vincent Perez, an actor I haven't really seen much of since Indochine about 15 years ago. The female leads? You guessed it: Ashley Judd and Charlize Theron! I don't know if this movie is for real, but even if it's not, this much is true: There are no new ideas under the sun.

And money can't buy me love.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Ooh, catfight time again?! Rumor has it that Gwyneth Paltrow is hopping mad about being left out of the early promotion for Iron Man 2 in favor of Scarlett Johanssen, who plays Black Widow in the sequel (due next year on my birthday, May 7). Despite having been in the first Iron Man movie last year as the title character's love interest, Pepper Potts (above, bottom), Gwyneth is noticeably absent from the recent Entertainment Weekly cover (above, top), which has got to sting. But it might simply be a matter of mathematics. Having worked at the magazine for a year as a senior editor, I know that the powers that be there prefer not to clutter the magazine's covers with too many stars: Three's company (and just barely), four is definitely a crowd. And when it comes to superhero movies, the public is generally most interested in the actors playing the villains.

Who knows if the fued rumors are true, but it's kind of fun to think about. I've always thought Gwyneth was wildly overrated. The year she won the 1998 Oscar (in 1999) for Shakespeare In Love, Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth) and Fernanda Montenegro (Central Station) were infinitely more deserving, but it was one of those situations (as with Reese Witherspoon and Kate Winslet more recently) where the Academy was playing catch up, introducing Oscar to a young actress a few years too late (in Gwyneth's case, she was far more deserving of the nod for 1996's Emma, for which she wasn't even nominated).

In the 10 years since winning her Oscar, Gwynnie's star has fallen dramatically. She's appeared in a number of bombs (View From The Top and Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow come immediately to mind) and only a handful of leading roles in non-hit films (Sylvia and Proof), preferring to raise babies, play devoted wife to Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and generally become more celebrity than actress. Meanwhile, Scarlett, despite possessing questionable acting chops, has become one of Hollywood's top female starlets.

So basically, what we have here is a situation where Gwyenth's lone selling point is a decade-old Oscar, and frankly, in a superhero blockbuster-to-be where you have former Oscar invitees Mickey Rourke (as Whiplash), Don Cheadle (replacing Terrence Howard as War Machine) and Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury) all costarring, that win starts to look a lot less important.

Memo to Gwyneth: Considering your long string of flops over the last decade, this is nice work if you can get it. Take the money and run like hell.

While I'm on the subject, I've never read the Iron Man comic, nor did I see the first movie (despite my love of all things Robert Downey Jr.), so maybe there is a good explanation, but how can Mad Men co-star John Slattery (left), 46, be playing the father of Robert Downey Jr., 44? I mean, I get the prematurely gray thing and all, but it's not like Robert can pass for 10 years younger. Hollywood casting continues to baffle!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Today I had a rude awakening. Well, it actually was exceedingly polite, and it came from a very sweet source, someone I met at Ambar la Fox (my now-favorite BA dance club) several months ago and went out with exactly one time. We've kept in touch since then, via Facebook, MSN and occasional text messages, but we have yet to go out on a second date. Not for a lack of trying on his part. Well, come to think of it, it's probably been because of a lack of trying on his part. He hints at it, dances around it, but he's always stopped short of directly asking me out again.

Normally, I'm not such a passive wallflower. I'm not afraid to ask guys out. And it's not that I would mind seeing him again. But the desire hasn't been strong enough for me to make the first move. And truth be told, I'm kind of enjoying the hinting, the dancing around, the skirting the issue. I guess you could say that I'm playing the game -- effortlessly, though, because winning it isn't a high priority. Why would I be interested in landing a nice guy? Don't they finish last anyway? As usual (and like most romantic fools), I'm drawn to the jerks, always chasing after the biggest loser.

Today we were chatting on MSN for the first time in about a couple of weeks, him flirting, me pretending not to notice. The he dropped a three-part bomb on me.

  • que bueno a mi me gustan mucho los desafios es porque me gusta mucho mas lo dificil seguramente
  • como vos!!
  • jajja

In other words, he likes me because I'm a challenge. I give him the time of day, but not much more. I'm disinterested enough to keep him coming back for more.

So that's what I've been doing so wrong all these years! I'm being nice, giving guys the one thing they don't really want: attention. Seems The Rules were right on all along. If you like a guy and you really want to win him over, pretend like he doesn't exist. We've all suspected it, hypothesized about it, but until now, has anyone ever actually confirmed it? Unfortunately, doing it is easier said than done. If I like a guy, it's hard for me not to go a little over the top. In this case, though, I'm not just playing it cool. Hot blooded? Not me. Cold as ice is more like it.

But damn if he didn't say all the right things, give me all the right compliments, telling me how my MSN photo drives him crazy every time. Our conversation ended with him once again letting me know in his not-so-subtle-but-just-short-of-daring way that whenever I call, he'll be here. And once again, I gave my perfected non-committal response: "si, pronto, un dia."

Except this time, I think I might actually mean it a little. How unlike the average porteño he is. Un-aggressive, respectful, tactful. All this, and he's cute, too. But who knows if I'll be using the phone number he gave me yet again? If he wants to see me, he's going to have to brace himself and be the man. Now that I know that "The Rules" aren't meant to be broken, this is one desafío (challenge) who's not about to get any easier.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It took me a few weeks, but the Michael Jackson story finally has grabbed my undivided attention. The past few days, I've been listening to his music practically non-stop, re-evaluating songs that I haven't thought about much less listened to in more than a decade. (Conclusion 1: Some of the new tracks on 1995's HIStory: Past, Present And Future, Book I have aged particularly well and sound much better now than they did at the time). I've also been reading sister LaToya's allegations that he was murdered (I think she may have a point) and a whole lotta hyperbole about his monster talent. I usually sniff at grand sweeping statements about any given artist's "genius," but in Michael's case, I have to agree that he might possibly have been the greatest entertainer of all time.

Somewhere between when the story first began to intrigue me (I think it was around when it was first reported that the police were not ruling out homicide) and now, a very good friend of mine whose opinion I value greatly said something that kind of shocked me. "It was time for him to die," she announced wearily but as a matter of fact. Then with a surge of passion, she added, "He was a child molester!"

I remember about four years ago, during my first trip to Buenos Aires, I was talking to someone from Seattle, and the subject of Jackson came up. The Seattle guy, like my friend, was convinced of Jackson's guilt. I'm not going to get into the innocent or guilty debate here except to say that from day one, I did not believe the allegations. My opinion has been and continues to be that he was the victim of golddiggers who took advantage of a golden opportunity to exploit their kid for the benefit of money.

What's interesting about statements from people who are so convinced of his guilt is how little they actually know about the case. Someone I once worked with said that in the U.S., where you are presumed innocent until proven guilty (presumably), the one crime that it seems to not apply to is child molestation. Once you've been charged with that one, you might as well put a fork in it because you are finished. In the eyes of the general public, neither a profound lack of evidence nor a not guilty verdict will redeem you. I think in Jackson's case, his oddball appearance and nature and his unusual relationship with children were extra strikes against him.

Although Michael seemed to have been forgiven for his presumed sins outside of the U.S. (before his death, he continued to be a huge draw in Europe, where his records still sold well), stateside he was pretty much done for. As Boy George once said, "How quickly Americans don't forget." Although some accused molesters with far more evidence against them have rebounded career-wise, if not reputation-wise, from the charges in the U.S. -- Woody Allen is one example, and I'm sure that R. Kelly could, if he tried, launch a successful comeback -- and both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jackie Earle Haley recently earned Oscar nominations for playing accused child molesters, the ultimate unsympathetic role, Michael Jackson was not so fortunate. He was a victim of his own weirdness.

We may never know for certain the complete story behind those child molestation allegations, but one can only hope that the mystery behind Jackson's death does not go unsolved for much longer, and if there really was foul play involved that those responsible will be brought to justice.

Friday, July 10, 2009


This is getting so out of hand. Now, my hypochondria has been well documented (for proof, see several posts below), but I've never been much of a germaphobe. I'm not afraid to shake hands with strangers (though I'd rather not kiss them on the cheek, Argentine-style), I don't always wash my hands before leaving the bathroom (admit it, neither do you), and I wouldn't be caught dead walking around with a surgical mask on my face.

But here in Buenos Aires, everyone is in a state of panic -- at least the government would have you think so. Public enemy number one: swine flu. I've been casually following the story, and I'm well aware that there was a bit of flu fever in the U.S. a couple of months ago. The first sign that the hysteria had hit these shores was when I went to the hospital last week to pick up the results of my blood work, EKG and thorax X-ray. Almost the entire staff was wearing surgical masks -- outside of the operating room! -- to cover their mouths. At first, I though that perhaps it was some kind of subversive tribute to the late Michael Jackson, who had used surgical masks as a fashion statement. Then I thought that maybe I had fallen through the looking glass into some sci-fi B-movie, like Virus. Only where was Jamie Lee Curtis and Billy Baldwin?

Things have quickly gone from bad to way downhill. Schools have shut down. At my pilates studio, there are warning signs everywhere as well as bottles of that icky anti-germ lotion. (Sorry, but despite my occasional failings, nothing says clean like good old-fashioned soap and water!) Hoping to better circulate the infested air, the management at my gym has been keeping the windows open despite near-freezing temperatures outside.

The epidemic has even spread to criminal proportions: In Mar del Plata, a beach community several hours south of BA, two surgical-masked men approached a woman outside of her home asking her for money to buy medicine. They then managed to enter her home, assault and rob her. Club kids are getting in on it, too. Last week, there was no line to get into my favorite club night, Ambar la Fox. Inside was packed, yes, but hardly the wall-to-wall mobfest that it usually is. And this week, the hottest gay club night in town, Friday's Rheo party, is holding a special Anti Swine Flu Vodka night, with the assumption, which I've always believed to be true, that nothing combats illness like a bottle of booze.

Yesterday, July 9, was Argentina's Independence Day, but the government declared the day after, today, a second national holiday, urging all citizens not to use it as an excuse to goof off, but rather to solemnly stay indoors and not hit the streets unless it's absolutely necessary. Thankfully, not everyone is heeding the government's red flag, and Buenos Aires, though considerably less congested, has not turned into a ghost town. But thanks to an alarmist government and media, the warnings are everywhere.

All the fuss -- as well as the we're-in-this-together bravado -- is so typically Argentine. Here in BA, they do everything with gusto, in unison. I don't know much about modern medical science and particularly flu prevention (I, thankfully, haven't had it since I was a kid), but I'm pretty sure that surgical masks and open windows are probably as effective an antidote as that aforementioned bottle of booze. Perhaps the government should spend as much time promoting safe sex and a healthy diet as they do swine flu prevention, as many of Argentina's gay youth appear to be clueless about the still-very-real threat of HIV infection and heart failure.

Hopefully, the swine flu hysteria will pass soon, I can go back to not washing my hands guilt-free, and my fellow porteños can find something new to obsess over. As surely as they'll all have some mandatory cumpleaños to attend this weekend or a high-cholesterol asado, there is already some new public enemy looming around the corner.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


And I'm not just talking about recycled movie-poster designs and generic, interchangeable film titles. How many more sugary boy meets girl, boy hates girl (and vice versa), boy grows on girl (and vice versa) retreads can we digest before we're all barfing, totally sour on romance -- or at least color-by-numbers romantic comedies?

All that said, after finally watching the Grey's Anatomy finale, in which her character apparently flatlined (look for a magical resurrection in next season's premiere -- just my opinion), and falling for her red-hot pose on the above poster, my love affair with Katherine Heigl has officially begun. I never really expected that she would be the breakout Grey star -- partly because I hate her character, Izzie Stevens (too too precious), but also because she initially received far less fanfare than some of her costars. Then came her surprise Emmy win and box-office hits like Knocked Up and 27 Dresses. Patrick Dempsey and Ellen Pompeo must be green with envy.

I probably won't be able to resist a trip to the multiplex when her new romantic comedy hits BA (it's out in the U.S. in two weeks). And that's the ugly truth.

Monday, July 6, 2009


There's nothing like a grueling run followed by comfort food (spaghetti con salsa rosa) and a fun night out with friends to chase away the blues. Saturday was one of those nights, filled with great friends, strong booze, excellent music, lots of dancing and a few boys on the side. I may have woken up a little worse for wear on Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the damage from Hurricane Jeremy (with a little help from Tropical Storm Matias), but at least I had a great big smile on my face. After spending nearly two months worth of Saturday nights waxing romantic in hibernation mode (yawn!), it was nice to get out and live again.

My one burning question: When did the boys of BA become so omnisexual. Suddenly, my straight girlfriends and I are both competing for the same guys -- and both getting lucky! Call it equal opportunity scoring. In this game, everybody wins. Can't wait for the next match. Let the games begin -- again!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


"Long distance is the wrong distance. Deal breaker!"
-- Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), 30 Rock

Speaking of 30 Rock, as a former Teen People editor, I know how hard it is to get a bunch of music stars assembled in the same place at the same time. So I'm pretty impressed that the 30 Rock powers that be (Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey?) managed to get all of those hitmakers -- Sheryl Crow, Adam Levine, Elvis Costello, Mary J. Blige, Clay Aiken, Moby, Beastie Boys, Cyndi Lauper, Michael McDonald -- to appear in the "Kidney Now!" season finale (which just aired tonight in South America), making fun of celeb-choir benefit singles like "We Are The World." Outrageous! Especially when Cyndi Lauper, who looks awesome, mimicked her over-the-the top vocal and physical antics from the "We Are The World" video. I wonder if everyone checked their egos at the door.


Last week, I was talking to my friends Cara and Mariem about sex talk -- both dirty and otherwise -- and I had the strangest feeling of deja vu. Where had I had this conversation before? Bingo! I'd heard the very same conversation twice before, on episodes of two of my all-time favorite TV shows, The Golden Girls and Sex & The City. I'll never forget Golden Girl Dorothy Zbornak's declaration that she always felt talking during sex was "unladylike."

I kind of agree. And I don't think it suits gentlemen very well either. Now, I'm not above a little sexy small talk pre- and post-coitus, especially post-, when total silence would be, like, totally awkward (unless, of course, you are as gorgeous as Juliette Binoche and Daniel Day-Lewis -- above -- then it just increases your movie-star mystique). But during -- and doing -- the act, words should be used sparingly. I've been known to insert the odd grunt here and there to let my partner know that I'm still awake -- and alive. And occasionally, I'll "ooh" and "aah" as a kind of verbal instruction manual: Yeah, yeah, keep it right there. Unfortunately, not every guy catches my drift.

But mid-coitus, actions speak louder than words. One sweet and tender "I love you" right before The Moment is worth a thousand words at any other coital point. Once I was with a guy I was kind of crazy about, and he kept exclaiming, "Me encanta! Me encanta!" over and over, louder and louder, while we were "hacer el amor." (Oh dear, the phrase "making love" sounds corny in every language.) I thought to myself, Okay, I'm glad you love it, but please stop saying it. He didn't. I knew right then and there that we would never pass that way again. We didn't.

Before you all start giving me strange looks, I didn't break up with him over his bedside manner, but perhaps my inkling played a role in things going from sweet to sour in seemingly record time. Next time, I'll be ready with the perfect comeback: "Me encanta también! Now, shut up and kiss me!"