Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Have you ever noticed how nothing good ever comes after the following?

"We have to talk."
"Can we talk?"
"I have something to tell you."
"Can I ask you a question?"

Good news and good questions have a way of arriving unannounced. The fanfare comes after the fact.

Here in Buenos Aires, I've learned the hard way. Whenever a guy asks, "¿Puedo hacerte una pregunta?" I always know what's coming: something about penis size ("¿Cuanto mide tu pene?") or sexual role ("¿Activo o pasivo?") or the myth about black guys in bed. I should make my standard response to the latter: "Is that a Greek myth?" It worked for Rose Nylund after Sophia Petrillo broached the subject on an episode of The Golden Girls.

Whenever I find myself fielding that particularly loaded question ("¿Puedo hacerte una pregunta?"), I always respond (in Spanish), "If you need permission to ask something then you probably shouldn't ask it."

"We have to talk" is generally a precursor to some revelation of infidelity, the beginning of a break-up speech, or worse, a matter of life and death. No one ever says, "We have to talk... The tests came back negative. I'm in perfect health," or "We have to talk... Will you marry me?" or "We have to talk... I think I love you."

Can we talk?

Well, I don't know. Can we?

As the old cliché goes, some things are just better left unsaid.


Ah ha! So that explains it. I was thinking that Kanye appeared to be a little out of his mind when he stormed the stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards. The photo above, taken on the red carpet before the event, might be 100% proof.

Now word on the street (ok, in the tabloids) is that he is considering going into rebab for an addiction to alcohol. Considering? We've all had our alcohol-fused dumb-ass blackout moments (okay, those of us prone to pulling the occasional all-nighter), but Kanye humiliated himself onstage on live TV in front of millions of people. If the devil in the bottle made him do it, then considering rehab isn't even an option. And neither is waiting until his current tour wraps in January, as is being reported by Star magazine. If the, ahem, publication is to be believed, Kanye doesn't even remember the infamous VMAs dis.

Imagine that: an alcohol-fused dumb-ass blackout moment captured on video (and on YouTube) for all the world to see, over and over, forever and ever, amen.

Jesus walks. But despite what he seems to think, Kanye ain't Jesus. If these reports are true, he should run run run to rehab immediately.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Last night I fell into the biggest cultural and generation gap of my life. Not that I was expecting much from this particular guy. We met on the dancefloor on Friday night, shared several dances, a few kisses and some light conversation. Before I went home, I gave him my phone number, but with my recent dating track record, I fully expected never to hear from him.

Surprise! He sent me a text message the next afternoon, and after a bit of back and forth, we made plans to get together on Sunday evening.

Surprise! He showed up at the appointed hour, smiling broadly and (surprise!) looking as cute as I had optimistically remembered him being. Cue small talk. Then the inevitable question. But for once, I was the one to ask. I had to know how old he was.

Surprise! 19!

Here we go again, I thought. He didn't look 19, which was a good thing, and he guessed my age as 25, which was another good thing, but the more we talked, the less he had to say, the more years he dropped. Yes, I had fallen deep into a generation gap, and I started clawing to climb out of it. We grabbed a couple of beers, and I did as much heavy lifting (in Spanish) as I do at the gym. Where was he born? How long has he lived in Buenos Aires? Would he ever want to be the Latin American Idol? (I was getting desperate.)

There! I had an idea. Music. For me, nothing gets a good conversation started like music. What did he listen to? Madonna (naturally). Katy Perry (interesting). He said another name that I didn't quite understand, but I thought it was cute how he pronounced Katy "catty." He asked me what I like. I said a little bit of everything, especially rock & roll, and singled out R.E.M. He nodded in recognition. "A mi tambien me gusta todo," he said. Ah, he likes everything, I thought, and pulled out my iPod, full of hope.

This is when I tumbled into the cultural gap. I went to the artists that someone his age, even in South America, would most likely know. I was astonished by how many he didn't. 'N Sync? No. Beyonce? No. Janet Jackson? No. Lady GaGa. Sure. Michael Jackson? Of course. Amy Winehouse? Mariah Carey? Mary J. Blige? No. No. No.

I was losing hope, and the fact that he had heard of Tina Turner and Whitney Houston confounded me. His excuse for not being better with names was that he listens to the radio and doesn't really know who sings what. That's a legitimate, if overused, excuse, but what 19-year-old has never heard of Beyonce and Janet Jackson but has heard of Tina Turner and Whitney Houston? The last time either Tina or Whitney released records in South America, he was still a tween. And even here in Argentina, everyone knows Beyonce or has at least danced to "Single Ladies." Once. So I sang the song.

Not a clue.

I spent the rest of the date dazed, confused and wondering under what rock this guy has been living for the last five years. Two hours later, alone again in the comfort of my own home, I cranked the new Muse single and dreamed of a brave new world free of hate, suffering and dates with totally clueless 19 year olds.

Monday, September 28, 2009


Last night I was talking to a Facebook "friend," one of those strangers whose FB friendship invitation inexplicably showed up one day. I, of course, accepted, because I have the hardest time turning anyone down -- though I'm getting better at it and have even started to delete some of the extra debris in my list of friends. The guy told me that he was looking at my photos, and he loves them. He also said that I have the body of a stripper.

Alright then. I've been told I look like a model, a nerd and a complete fool, but this was a first. I didn't know whether to take his words as a compliment, an insult, a sign that he needs stronger glasses or a sign of the apocalypse. I think it was probably a little of all of the above. But just to be on the safe side, I think I'll keep (most) of my clothes on.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Since this list is all about the best singles of the past decade, it doesn't recognize some of my favorite albums of the '00s from which either no singles were released or from which the wrong ones were released. Or in the case of Robyn and Keane, the albums soar more as complete works than on the strength of individual songs. Let us take a moment to give props where they are due. A few honorable mentions:

  • Shelby Lynne I Am Shelby Lynne (2000)
  • Sade Lovers Rock (2000)
  • Terence Trent D'Arby/Sananda Maitreya Wildcard (2002)
  • Shania Twain Up (2002)
  • Pink Try This (2003)
  • George Michael Patience (2004)
  • Brandy Afrodisiac (2004)
  • Robyn Robyn (2005)
  • Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine (2005)
  • Cat Power The Greatest (2006)
  • Keane Under The Iron Sea (2006)

80. Fused "Saving Mary" (Robbie Rivera Mix)
Poor Mary. Here she is, this woman on the verge of a nervous meltdown, and all we want to do is dance. Thank you, Robbie Rivera. Standard issue quiet-storm dance soul in it's original version, the track was transformed by Robbie into a dramatic crescendo, a dancefloor filler that succeeds on all counts: As the strobelight turns, we forget all about Mary's troubles -- and our own.

79. Loretta Lynn Ft. Jack White "Portland, Oregon" (2004)
Rick Rubin worked magic with old farts Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond in the '00s, but neither collaboration produced a single moment quite as stunning as this mash up between the White Stripe and the Queen of Country (though Johnny Cash's requiem treatment of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" came close). Considering this and Jack's excellent duet with Alicia Keys on "Another Way To Die," last year's James Bond theme, you'd think more fierce ruling divas would have him on speed dial. Madonna, Kylie, Shania, I'm talking to you.

78. Alison Moyet "A Guy Like You" (2007)
Alison Moyet was always way ahead of her time. As a member of Yaz in her early 20s, her husky, knowing vocals made her sound like a woman twice her age. So what a joy it was to hear Alison, at age 46, release the funnest, most youthful record of her career. And boy, have I been there -- in lust with a boy who was way too hot to hang on to. "How'm I gonna keep my eye on a guy like you?" she asks Mr. Popular. ("Everybody plays your music on the stereo," she sings at another point. Hmm. Wonder if she was inspired by an actual celebrity. Justin Timberlake perhaps?) As frisky and sexy as Alison sounds on this, her best single since "Getting Into Something" from 1993's Essex, I'd say he should be the one asking the burning question.

77. Darren Hayes "Unlovable" (2004)
A love song for the underdog. I never cared much for Savage Garden, but with his second solo album, The Tension And The Spark, Savage Garden singer Darren Hayes realized his unsuspected potential, crafting one of the best records of the decade. Predictably, the masses didn't get it. Personal and uncompromising, it sounded the death knell of his commercial era.

Darren once made a bet with me over dinner that I'd one day fall truly, madly, deeply in love, just like the protagonist of Savage Garden's best-known song. Truly, madly, deeply, I'm still waiting on. But yes, love has come, and love has gone. Still, to this day, I relate less to Darren's romantic pap with Savage Garden than to this song's simple message: Love is a battlefield, and sometimes the people who claim to love you can be the cruelest of all.

76. The Strokes "Last Nite" (2001)
On my birthday last year, I danced to this song at my favorite neighborhood pub with two of my girlfriends and was reminded of how floored I was by this NYC band when they first hit the scene. Their 2002 concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC remains one of my best live-music experiences to date. For me, the Strokes were everything you could want in a rock & roll band. They had swagger, sex appeal and songs to remember. They've lost me a bit since then, but this one, which still plays in Buenos Aires's hippest bars eight years later, remains one of neo-punk crowning achievements.

75. No Doubt "Hella Good" (2002)
I'll admit it: Part of my love of this song stemmed from the shock of hearing No Doubt stepping out of their ska-rock comfort zone and giving in to the beat. In a sense, the Nellie Hooper production was a preview of Gwen Stefani's solo career, which, uneven as it has been, has produced far more exciting music than No Doubt ever did.

74. Lil' Kim Ft. 50 Cent "Magic Stick" (2003)
By most accounts, Lil' Kim and 50 Cent hated each other. Apparently, there's a thin line between love, hate and excellent chemistry. I've never been much of a 50 fan, but for his part of the song, I finally found him likable, if still not exactly lovable. Lil' Kim is clearly the star here -- as she is everywhere. It's her world; her collaborators just live in it.

73. Truth Hurts Ft. Rakim "Addictive" (2002)
"He breaks, me down, he builds, me up
He fills, my cup, I like, it rough
We fuss, we brawl, we rise, we fall
He comes, in late, but it's, ok"

Whoa, girl! Now that's what I call a grand entrance. In 2002, this DJ Quick-produced blend of hip hop and an Arabian snake dance back beat was the most inventive thing on R&B radio. Sunshine Anderson and Tweet aside (more on them later), it made Truth Hurts the one-hit R&B wonder of the decade.

72. David Gray "Dead In The Water" (2002)
Silly love songs rarely move me, and as I make my way through this list, one thing is becoming crystal clear: I like my music irresistibly sexy or unbelievably sad. Like the best of David Gray (which would also include "December," also from A New Day At Midnight), this falls squarely into the latter category. Listen and weep.

71. Billie Ray Martin Ft. Ann Peebles "18 Carat Garbage" (2002)
She's the voice behind some of the most thrilling dance music of the past decade (with her detached, zombie-like delivery somehow, magically, managing to convey sweet, deep emotion): "You're Driving, I'm Bored," "Undisco Me," "Oprah's Book," and the beats go on. But Anyone who has listened to either of Billie Ray Martin's two full-length solo CDs, Deadline For My Memories and 18 Carat Garbage, knows that there is a lot more to her than hot electronic beats.

A couple of years ago, she told me a story about how she once met Siouxsie Sioux in a London club and Siouxsie raved about how she was her favorite soul singer. BRM couldn't believe the high priestess of punk even knew who she was, but why not? As a dance diva, Billie Ray smolders, but on this duet with Ann "I Can't Stand The Rain" Peebles, the title cut from her 2002 opus, she matches the R&B legend note for soulful note. And there's nothing trashy about that. Below is the original album version of the song followed by a thrilling, mysterious remix that I stumbled upon online years ago.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Lately, for the past month or so, I've been running into a lot of guys from my past -- or they've been tracking me down. Last night it happened again, this one an actual ghost of Christmas past. Luciano, a guy I met on Christmas Eve 2007, and I casually dated for about a month until we mutually decided that the timing wasn't quite right. (I was still kind of hung up on him.) We've run into each other a few times over the past nearly two years, and the last time we spoke (when I accidentally sent him a text message intended for another Luciano), he told me he was dating someone new.

Last night, I was at a bar and on my way to meet a few friends at Glam. On my way out, a group of people stopped me and asked if I was a friend of Luciano. I said, yes, I'm on my way to see him now, thinking they were talking about one of the friends I was heading out to meet. Turns out that the Luciano they were talking about was already there. I was lost. Who was this Luciano with whom I was so well acquainted? One of them showed me a photo in his phone, and it all came back to me. Then, as if on cue, Luciano was walking up me. We talked briefly. He had broken up with the guy he had been dating, and he still had my number in his phone. He invited me to go out with him on Saturday night, and that was that.

I wonder if all these blasts from my past are a sign that my future might lie behind me instead of ahead of me. Besides Khleber, my ex-boyfriend whom I dated five years ago, ten years after we broke up the first time, I've never re-dated an ex. In fact, I've only once had sex with an ex.

I remember an episode of The Cosby Show in which one of the Huxtable kids -- I think it was Vanessa (above) -- said, "The ship that sails west never sees the sunrise." Or maybe it was "The ship that sails backwards never reaches shore." I think it was the latter, but I prefer the former. Her point was this: Don't live in the past. Onward and forward!

I agreed. And as embarrassing as it is to admit, I applied something I heard on The Cosby Show to my own life. Up to now, Khleber and the occasional revisited fling aside, it's been onward and forward, if not exactly upward. But since I've spent the past three years shaking things up, why stop now? Who knows? Maybe a pleasant surprise awaits.

Friday, September 25, 2009


The occasional breathtaking single aside ("Vision Of Love," "Fantasy," "We Belong Together"), it took me forever to get into Mariah Carey more than one song at a time. But nearly two decades into her career, my love is for real. Part of it has to do with leftover affection from my 2002 post-breakdown interview with the singer for an Us Weekly cover story. She had me at hello, thanks to her flawless make up and hoodie buttoned down to there to reveal exactly one-third of a perfectly rounded bosom.

In person, I found her to be unexpectedly funny, clever and warm. Seriously, it was admiration, if not exactly love, at first sight. The rest came afterwards. When she released her 11th studio album, last year's E=MC2, I was finally able to listen to a Mariah record front to back without nodding off half a dozen times. E=MC2 was, as they say, da bomb -- and the No. 1 "Touch My Body" excepted, sort of a bomb.

But I knew Mariah was repeating herself. And here she goes again. Listening to her latest, Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel, I can't help but think that she has been making the same album for at least three albums now. One more time, she emphasizes style and attitude over songs and substance, which makes for an infinitely enjoyable sonic experience (I'll be loving it long time indeed), but it's no classic in the making.

Aside from a glimmers of rarely tapped soulfulness on "It's A Wrap" (on which she continues to exhibit her extreme verbosity and unique way with words, actually dropping "denominator" and "acquiescent" into the lyrical mix), every track on Memoirs could have been on E=MC2 or that album's predecessor, The Emancipation Of Mimi. Even her billionth Top 10 single, the Eminem dis "Obsessed," is recycled; she's been there, done that, with "Clown," from 2002's Charmbracelet. And she's included at least one ride-the-beat Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony-inspired vocal, this time "Up Out My Face," on practically every album since "Breakdown," a collaboration with B-T-N-H from 1997's Butterfly. The latest is a standout nonetheless (listen below). On the plus side, there are no guest rappers, making Memoirs 100 percent Mariah. Also, although the Foreigner original will always be the definitive version, her cover of "I Want To Know What Love Is" is a lot better in execution than it is in theory.

Next time, I'd like to see Mariah break out the test tubes. Though it makes her virtually indistinguishable from, say, Ciara, I'm probably one of the few people who doesn't mind her cooing in a breathy lower register as opposed to raising the roof with those bird calls that dominated her early albums (don't worry, there are plenty of glass-shattering mini-arias here, especially on "Angel"). But it's time for Mariah to let go of all those on-the-verge-of-being-overused R&B producers (in this case, Tricky Stewart and The-Dream) and seek out someone from another genre. I'd like to see her go in a totally different direction and collaborate with someone like a Mark Ronson, or Linda Perry, who already has been all over the charts but could possibly help her craft a fresh new sound.

Maybe that's asking for too much right now. Deglamming for her supporting role in the much-buzzed-about feature film Precious is already generating unprecedented Oscar talk for Mariah (as in a nomination, not the actual prize, which is probably costar Mo'Nique's to lose). If the Oscar hype comes true, maybe it will give Mariah the confidence to get off the beaten track in her music career, and stumble, fall or maybe rise to new creative heights.

Mariah Carey "Up Out My Face"

Thursday, September 24, 2009


I don't always love Muse. The British trio's music can be a bit too pompous and operatic for my taste. But when they really pull me in, they blow me away. To date, they've done it exactly once, with "Super Massive Black Hole," the first single from their 2006 album, Black Holes And Revelations. Though it's no "Super Massive Black Hole," their new single, "Uprising," is working on me; it's all neo-glam swagger topped by Matthew Bellamy's sexy, stratospheric vocals.

I won't even pretend to understand how the band scored that plum gig performing on the MTV Video Music Awards last week. But apparently, it did the trick, landing them two career bests this week in Billboard. Their fifth studio album, The Resistance, debuts on the Billboard 200 album chart at No. 3, with opening-week sales of 128,000, and the single is No. 37 on the Hot 100. Considering that Black Holes and Revelations sold 48,000 copies in its first week, I'd say the MTV exposure plus the group's inclusion on the soundtrack of the first Twilight movie (they also will be featured on New Moon) had a lot to do with their newfound bankability in the U.S.

With Bono's messiah complex all but eclipsing U2's musicianship, Coldplay playing it too cool (rock out, boys!), Radiohead playing it too erratic, and Keane not exactly fulfilling their early commercial promise, the U.S. could use a fresh major rock & roll import from the UK. And with The Resistance, Muse is slowly beginning to win me over, too. But for such a straightforward album title, the names of the songs take pretentious to extremes not seen or heard since the heyday of Yes in the 1970s. The music itself puts me in a Queen/T. Rex/Styx/Ultravox/Puccini/Wagner state of mind. Yes, en serio. Frankly, I prefer them in slightly more mainstream mode and could live without the three-part symphony that closes the album. I'll take the classical flourishes in smaller doses, like the piano solo courtesy of one Frédéric Chopin on "Collateral Damage" and the graceful notes of one Camille Saint-Saëns that enhance another track. I bet Chris Martin is kicking himself for not thinking of it first.

The track listing for The Resistance:
  1. "Uprising"
  2. "Resistance"
  3. "Undisclosed Desires"
  4. "United States Of Eurasia/Collateral Damage"
  5. "Guiding Light"
  6. "Unnatural Selection"
  7. "MK Ultra"
  8. "I Belong to You/Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix"
  9. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 1 (Overture)"
  10. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 2 (Cross-Pollination)"
  11. "Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3 (Redemption)"
Muse "Uprising"


Next year's Oscar contest is taking its cool, sweet time to come into focus. Usually, by late September, I can pull together a rough set of predictions, but after reports from the Toronto and Venice Film Festivals, all I have are sketches, a few scattered hopefuls. Fashion designer Tom Ford's A Single Man (pictured above: costars Colin Firth, left, and Matthew Goode), the Oprah Winfrey-Tyler Perry co-produced Precious, and Joel and Ethan Coen's A Serious Man seem to be likely nominees in various categories, as does Jason Reitman's Juno follow up, Up In The Air.

The Hurt Locker received most of the early season buzz, and at least one performance from early in the year generally makes it in, even if the movie doesn't (though in this year of expanded Best Picture nominees, The Hurt Locker has a better chance). A lot of bloggers have been drooling over Jane Campion's Bright Star, and particularly its lead, Abbie Cornish, but considering what has happened to each of Jane's films since The Piano, I wouldn't count on that particular chicken before it's hatched. I'm also not convinced about the chances of the Amelia Earhart biopic Amelia, despite the presence of Oscar sweetheart Hilary Swank in the title role. Director Mira Nair has never been exactly Oscar bait. Remember when Vanity Fair was supposed to be Reese Witherspoon's ticket to at least an Oscar nomination?

Penelope Cruz is this year's double threat, with her leading role in Pedro Almodovar's Los Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces) and her supporting role in Rob Marshall's take on the Broadway musical Nine, itself based on the Federico Fellini film 8 1/2. I'd say it's too soon for another Penelope nod (wishful thinking?), and most of the Nine buzz seems to be hanging on Marion Cotillard, whom I'm still sore with for snatching the 2008 Oscar from my beloved Julie Christie.

The Lovely Bones has a nearly flawless Oscar pedigree: an Oscar-winning director (The Lord Of The Rings's Peter Jackson), four Oscar-nominated stars (including two winners) and a beloved book. But every year has its Revolutionary Road, its Dreamgirls, which both nonetheless scored a handful of supporting nods in their respective years. If a similar fate awaits The Lovely Bones, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci (so overdue) still could be in the supporting running.

The rest remains to be seen. Here are some of the key performances that I deem likely to be recognized.

Richard Kind A Serious Man I fell in love with Richard Kind years ago after meeting him at a GLAAD awards ceremony where Spin City, in which he was costarring at the time, was honored. He was as funny and likable in person as on the small screen. After a bit of a career lull in recent years, he's been making it onto the list of many blogging Oscar prognosticators for his role in the Coens' film, and judging from the trailer, I would say he has an above-average shot. Michael Stuhlbarg, the film's lead, is collecting a lot of buzz, too, but I'm in a state of denial about it. Central Station nominee Fernanda Montenegro aside, I kind of hate when total unknowns make it into the two major acting categories.

Colin Firth A Single Man Now here is a guy who has been in desperate need of a nomination for as long as I can remember -- or at least since The English Patient. And at last, I think his time has come. Once again playing a gay men, after last year's Mamma Mia!, he's already received top acting honors in Venice and by film critics and bloggers in Toronto. I think he might pull along costar Julianne Moore, who looks fabulous in the trailer and might finally have a shot at taking home an Oscar were it not for...

Mo'Nique Precious She's been on everyone's shortlist since the day after the 2009 Oscars. She's scary as hell in the trailer, and though her previous work in TV's The Parkers and the big screen comedy Phat Girlz may not have prepared anyone for such an furious tour-de-force performance, I always suspected she had a dark side waiting to be tapped into.

Matt Damon The Informant!/Invictus Everyone keeps saying it's his year. Neither his A-listdom or packing on the pounds for the Steven Soderbergh-directed The Informant! helped it at this past weekend's box office. But it's been more than a decade since Good Will Hunting, and I'd say Matt has paid his dues, and his time may have come -- again. At this point, best supporting actor for Invictus has a better ring. After all, that film has Clint Eastwood as director and Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. I'm betting that all three receive invitations to the Oscars as nominees.

George Clooney Up In The Air Although I enjoyed Juno, I thought it was overrated. But director Jason Reitman now has goodwill -- okay, and talent -- on his side. As for George Clooney, when everyone was busy drooling over Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood two years ago, I was rooting for George in Michael Clayton, my favorite film of 2007. A huge star and ace actor like George deserves more than a best supporting actor trophy on his mantle.

Meryl Streep Julie And Julia This film has finally arrived in Buenos Aires, and I'm going to see it pronto. And don't forget It's Complicated, her romantic comedy with Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, which I'm looking forward to more than any other end-of-the-year film. I'd say that Julie And Julia would be Meryl's best shot yet at a second best actress award were it not for...

Carey Mulligan An Education As I said, unknowns in the two major categories generally bore me, unless they blow me away. But I'm praying that An Education is as good as everyone is saying it is because that might mean nominations for the long-overdue Peter Sarsgaard and Alfred Molina and maybe, just maybe, the return of Emma Thompson. If Carey is part of that package deal, I can live with that.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


After three years and one week (exactly), I can say I've finally become accustomed to many of the day-to-day adjustments of living outside of the United States. The seasons still screw me up. As we head into spring in the southern hemisphere, I keep forgetting that it isn't April, and I don't have a birthday coming up. And I don't believe I'll ever get used to spending Christmas with the air conditioner on full blast.

Living with the metric system, however, is getting easier. My apartment here is roughly 40 square meters, but I couldn't tell you how many square feet that is. Sometimes, though, I'm still kind of clueless: A mile will always be a mile, and a kilometer will always be... well, I still have no idea how far a kilometer is. I continue to struggle with Celsius vs. Fahrenheit, and since I don't cook, a liter means as much to me as quarts and ounces.

But where it counts, I totally get metric. I recently was weighed by my doctor, and I was 80 kilos, which is 176 pounds, up from 77 kilos, which is about 170 pounds. Thankfully, until now, I never thought of my previous weight in terms of imperial units, or I would have been alarmed by how scrawny I had become! As for centimeters vs. inches, things are coming along nicely, although in my BA world, centimeters are normally used in reference to the tamaño of private parts. Size normally doesn't matter to me, but I can't deny it: "23cm X 7cm" does have certain ring to it.

I'm rocking the whole meter thing. I don't even think of myself as being 6'1" anymore. I'm 1.86 meters. I'm even on board with other people's heights. A guy who is between my height and 195 (6'4") has excellent potential. (Yes, height matters.) Between 1.95 and 2.0 (6'5 1/2") is entering giant territory. As for taller than 2.0, well, let's not go there. Thankfully, on this continent of tiny people, no one rarely does.

On the shorter end of the scale, anything above 1.75 (5'7 1/2") is fair game, although, I'd prefer not to go below 1.80 (5'9"). Funnily enough, when I was living in the United States, I probably wouldn't have given a second thought to dating a guy who was shorter than 5'11", and I don't believe I ever did. But when in Rome... or in BA, I would reluctantly give a chance to guy of 1.73 (5'6 1/2", which was roughly the height of the last guy I dated). But I've got to draw the line somewhere, and I do at 1.70 (5'5 1/2").


I've occasionally been accused of not giving chances, but sometimes I can give them as well as I take them. Yesterday, I was contacted by the bartender who cancelled on me last week, citing illness, which, truth be told, is a perfectly acceptable excuse for breaking a date. He wants to try again on Thursday night, and I, feeling generous and hopeful, agreed.

I'm not inking the date into my agenda or anything because something always has a way of coming up -- especially in BA, where the old "Tengo un cumpleaños" excuse never seems to go out of style. I mean, how many birthday parties can one possibly go to in one year? As much of a birthday person as I am, there are few of them that I wouldn't happily and without guilt skip. Interestingly, I've never used a birthday as an excuse to blow off a date with a porteño, but "Sorry, I've got a headache," seems to work as fine out of bed as it does in.

There is a certain validation in the fact that the one date from last week that I actually pursued, the one I wanted, might come true, after all. I'm certain I haven't heard the last of the others. The Chilean already shamelessly reared his ugly head. David, Gustavo and the Alejandros surely won't be far behind because that's what these crazy porteños do. It's like they are all working with the same script and following the rules from the same book: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People. Male or female, for so many of them, the song and dance remain the same: a kiss on the cheek hello, a kiss on the cheek goodbye, "Hola, Como estas?" a thousand times a day, niceties, niceties and more niceties. All meaningless. If you're looking for one who is actually considerate, interesting and dependable when it counts -- between the holas and the chaus -- you might as well be searching for a needle in a haystack.

Good luck!

Speaking of idiots, yesterday I was talking to this guy, and after he asked me all the questions in the script (What do I do for a living? How long have I been in BA?), he wanted to know if I like living here. Feeling in a particularly honest, sarcastic and cranky mood, I responded, yes, everything but the people. I knew it would get rid of him -- and it did.

Nest stop: Australia. Seriously, I'm considering it. As soon as I sell my apartment in New York, I'm putting my plan into motion (barring, of course, a Buenos Aires miracle) -- at least for an extended visit. It's a place I've always dreamed of experiencing firsthand (since around the time Men At Work released "Down Under"), and the reviews I've heard from people who have gone and lived there have been glowing. How can one go wrong in the country that produced Hugh Jackman, Simon Baker and Eric Bana -- not to mention some of the coolest sexiest guys I've had the pleasure of meeting here in the real world? And there, I think they leave home sometime before turning 21. Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I know I'm in the minority here, if not completely alone, but I wasn't totally loving Neil Patrick Harris as the host of the 2009 Emmys on Sunday night. Ratings were up one million viewers from last year, and that is certainly partly to NPH's credit, as the drama and comedy series Emmy winners were pretty much foregone conclusions. I think he's an extremely likable guy and a solid improvement over last year's revolving roster of reality-host hosts, but despite a few cool gags, I found him to be more serviceable than spectacular, and at times, he seemed to be as bored as I was.

Both Jon Stewart, who knows a thing or two about being a killer awards-show host, and Jeff Probst, who does not, gave him props from the stage. I can't help but think that some of the raves come from accumulated good will toward the actor. Those of us who are a certain age remember him as a teen doc on the 1989-1993 prime-time series Doogie Howser, M.D., which I never actually saw. (It was on the air during those late-college/early NYC years when I never watched TV.) Younger folks crack up over his womanizer antics as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother, which I must also admit to never having seen. And of course, in liberal Hollywood, how can you not root for the gay guy? Jon and Jeff almost made it seem like NPH was some wet-behind-the-ears rookie in desperate need of a confidence boost when this year alone, he hosted both the TV Land Awards and the Tony Awards.

Which brings me to my most interesting realization after watching last night's show. Might Neil Patrick Harris actually become Hollywood's first A-list out-of-the-closet actor with a thriving career off Broadway (as in, in TV and films, not only in stage musicals )? Despite persistent racism in the U.S., the country was ready for its first black president last November. Maybe now it's ready for its first openly gay Hollywood star, too.

It doesn't hurt that NPH is good at what he does. I never completely bought T.R. Knight as lovesick for Katherine Heigl's Izzie on Grey's Anatomy, but by all accounts, NPH makes an excellent ladies man on HIMYM. He's not the first gay guy to convincingly play straight. Hollywood is full of closeted gay actors doing just that. And before My Best Friend's Wedding, the filmography of Rupert Everett, who has been out his entire career, included numerous straight roles in films like Dance With A Stranger and The Madness Of King George, all convincingly played. Interestingly, it was his role as Julia Robert's gay best friend in My Best Friend's Wedding that brought him his greatest fame. He reprised the gay bit in The Next Best Thing, which featured Madonna as his straight best friend and, yes, Neil Patrick Harris as his gay best friend.

I wonder how things would have turned out for NPH had he come out of the closet before landing the role on HIMYM. I wonder if he would have landed the role at all. I also wonder how accepting of him the public would have been if he had been playing a gay character at the time or doing a Broadway musical and not a TV series. The U.S. remains an extremely homophobic place, and I think NPH's success as a working gay actor has a lot to do with timing. By watching him play the field (with women) on HIMYM, middle America can enter denial mode and pretend he is who he plays. And those who don't read People magazine might not even know. After all, NPH's coming out was not exactly the international breaking news that, mmm, George Clooney's would be (yes, a boy can dream).

I remember years ago, I went to see the musical Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, with Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach in the lead role. Afterwards, we went back stage to hang out with Sebastian, and in walked NPH unannounced. "It's Doogie Howsier!" Sebastian started screaming as if he'd just met his ultimate idol. Come to think of it, Sebastian never called NPH by his real name that night. At the time, NPH was still in that transitory phase, trying to make the flying leap from child to adult star. After the Emmys, I suspect that everyone will get the name right.


For months, I've kept my big mouth shut, but now it's time to open up and say, "Ugh!" Ladies and gentlemen of the Academy, listen up: Increasing the number of Best Picture nominees from five to 10 is the dumbest move the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has made since giving Roberto Benigni an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Life Is Beautiful. And now the Producers Guild of America has followed suit. What's next? Ten best actress nominees? Twenty best supporting actor nominees, because, well, the movies are filled with great actors in supporting roles?

Hell, why stop there? Why not nominate every film, every actor, so no one will feel left out, and pick five winners in each category? Spread the wealth!

First, I feel the need to make a very important point: I've never cared much about the Best Picture race. Aside from the acting races and occasionally, the directing, screenplay and original song races, I could sleep through the entire Oscar ceremony, and I wouldn't miss a thing.

That said, part of what makes an Oscar nomination so special is that it's so hard to get one. Unlike the Grammys, which has more than twice as many awards as they can fit into a 12-hour telecast (yes, an exaggeration, but not by much), the Oscars only have four categories for performers. And although, only five tracks a year are eligible for the "coveted" Record of the Year Grammy, it's near impossible to recall what made the shortlist one or two months after the fact in any given year. Quick, name the five 2009 nominees! Now, the winner! (Answer: "Chasing Pavements" by Adele, "Viva La Vida" by Coldplay, "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis, "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. and the winner "Please Read The Letter" by Robert Plant and Alison Kraus). Imagine if NARAS were to up the number of nominees to 10. "I Got A Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas would probably be a shoo-in -- if it isn't already.

It's already hard enough for the Academy to come up with five truly remarkable films every year, which means that occasionally, whatevers like Chocolat and Finding Neverland sneak in. (And please don't read anything into the fact the Johnny Depp stars in both.) Which is perhaps why they narrowed it from 10 to 5 in the mid 1940s. What will happen when they have to fill 10 spaces again? Especially, in a slow year like this one, when Oscar-predicting pundits are having a rough time coming up with five likely nominees in all of the major categories. Not only will the Academy decrease the prestige of it own award ("Academy Award nominee" carries more weight than any other meant-to-impress modifier except for, of course, "Academy Award winner"), but it will ultimately stink up its own awards show.

And let's not forget that part of the Oscar fun is discussing the movies and performances that are snubbed every year, like Doubt and Gran Torino this past year. Expanding the playing field means that egregious snubs might largely become a thing of the past, and the Oscars will lose much of its post-nominations watercooler cachet.

Suddenly, things are looking a lot better for Precious, the drama that has been collecting pre-release raves all year and Oscar predictions for costar Mo'Nique (see above photo). Its difficult subject matters (teenage pregnancy, child abuse, incest) might have left it out of the running. Now I suspect that it has an excellent shot. Still, I shudder to think of the films that would have entered the running in previous years had the Academy opened up the race years ago. More comedies. More blockbusters. Definitely The Dark Knight. Knocked Up? Sure it was a rare quality comedy, but what makes the occasional dark horse entry like The Full Monty so special is that comedy makes for such an anomaly as a Best Picture nominee. If there are two or three every year, it becomes less noteworthy.

If they are going to expand the list from five to 10, perhaps they should consider dropping Best Animated Film and Best Foreign Language Film and working those contenders into the Best Picture contest. Otherwise, each year up to 18 different pictures will have the distinction of being called an "Oscar-nominated film," which would make it only slightly more impressive than winning a Grammy for Best Polka Recording.

Somebody, stop the madness before it starts.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Memo to self: If and when I decide to go out on another date... Or maybe it's time for me to quit while I'm behind. Last week, I was stood up by two guys and blown off by four others. I've had my share of dating slumps, but 0 for 6 is pretty dismal, even for me. I should be kind of bummed out, but I've been too busy laughing. Truly, it's comical. Like my own real-life episode of The New Adventures Of Old Christine. What would Julia Louis-Dreyfus do?

I rarely agree to dates, especially ones that are planned more than an hour or two in advance. And when I do, I usually come up with some excuse not to follow through. But last week, I decided to try a little experiment and get off the couch. A scene-by-scene recap.

First there was David, whom I met about a month and a half ago when I was out one night with my friend Jessika. After using my entire arsenal of excuses to avoid going out with him, I finally relented on Wednesday afternoon after he text messaged me for the first time in several weeks. Memo to David: If you need to ID yourself when you sent a text message, you are obviously aware that I may have deleted your number from my phone. Let it go.

I responded anyway, agreeing to meet him at 9pm in some neutral spot halfway between our apartments (we live a block apart). I didn't hear back from him until 9.30, when I sent him another text message asking why he hadn't responded to my first one. He immediately responded with some lame excuse about how he had run out of credit, and his sister had come by for a visit. Could I meet him at 11.30? Um, no. Delete.

The next day, there was Alejandro. He found me weeks ago on Manhunt and has been begging for a face-to-face sit down ever since. On Tuesday, I finally agreed. An hour before our appointed meeting time, he sent me a message saying that his brother had taken ill and he had to take him to the ER. I wasn't sure whether to believe him, but I didn't care because I kind of didn't feel like going out anyway. He asked if we could get together on Thursday night, and I agreed. On Thursday morning, he sent me a message requesting a 7pm meeting time. He would stop by my apartment to pick me up. That was the last time I heard from him. I am almost 100 percent sure that I haven't seen the last of Alejandro.

I'll never fully understand what goes though a guy's head when he does something like this. Someone (Gustavo, see below) suggested to me that porteños are addicted to the hunt, and once they get what they want, they lose interest. "Boludez humano," he called it. That's an interesting theory that I can get behind, but did Alejandro get anything from me other than a short-and-not-so-sweet message telling him exactly what I thought of him?

Another thing about porteños
: They always come back, acting like nothing ever happened. Sometimes I wonder if they realize what jokes they are. Several weeks from now, I'll get that standard instant message from him in which he says, "Tanto tiempo." Yes, long time. Let's not break the silence now. Delete.

The following night, I was supposed to go out with Alejandro -- let's call him Alejandro No. 2, to avoid confusion. He and I met about two years ago and through some strange twist of fate, we ran into each other again earlier in the week. He gave me three different ways to contact him (his land line, two email addresses); I gave him one (my phone number). We agreed to a Friday night rendezvous. I sent him an email the following day (I don't do the telephone, unless it's to send a text message). He still hasn't responded. Delete.

Then, there is Claudio, a bartender at one of my favorite bars. He is the only one I actually pursued. After a night of exchanging flirtatious glances from different sides of the bar, I finally made my move by cornering him in the bathroom. I asked for his phone number, a kiss and a date (not necessarily in that order). He gave me all three (not necessarily in that order). The next day I sent him a text message, and he suggested that we go out Friday night, his day off. Works for me, I responded, certain that the Alejandro No. 2 thing wouldn't come to pass anyway. As it turns out, neither did the Claudio thing. He took ill and had to break the date. At least he was courteous enough to let me know well beforehand. My gut instinct tells me that it's not going to happen, and I'm not going to push it any further. Delete.

Friday night, I was contacted by Fernando, who is visiting from Chile, and had been requesting a meeting since his arrival in Buenos Aires. Having already been blown off by Claudio and Alejandro No. 2, I agreed to meet him in a pub at 1.30am. A few minutes later, my girlfriend Alexandra, who had been travelling in Europe for three months and had just returned to Buenos Aires, invited me over to her place for champagne. Alexandra or Fernando? No contest. I accepted Alex's invitation, fully intending to do some blowing off of my own. Around 2am, my conscience got the best of me. I left Alexandra and raced to the pub to find Fernando. He wasn't there. He hadn't sent me a text message asking where I was, so I assumed that although I had been 30 minutes late, he hadn't even bothered to show up. Alright then. He sent me an IM the following day to apologize, and although I was sort of curious about his excuse, I didn't respond. I spent the rest of the weekend ignoring his desperate IMs. At least now I know that porteños haven't cornered the market on bad courting style. Delete.

I had a great time Friday night anyway. Despite being stood up, I met Martín, a really cute policeman with fresh breath and a great ass who ended up driving me home in his squad car. I did not make a date with him. Though my recent choices may suggest otherwise, I'm no fool.

Finally, there is Gustavo. I had given him my phone number months ago, and on Thursday, after I had been stood up by Alejandro No. 1, he contacted me to apologize for not having called me before and requested a second chance. I absolved him of his guilt, telling him about how I had been stood up that evening and how not using my phone number pales in comparison. He said that the same thing had happened to him that week, and he invited me out for a beer so that we could commiserate. I agreed. He was the only one of the bunch who spoke English, and I was actually looking forward to sitting across from a guy and having a conversation in my own language. Plus he was 38, close to my age. (Alejandro was 34, and David appeared to be thirtysomething, but the others were all in the vicinity of the terrible twos: 22.) I was impressed when, on Saturday, he called me (no text message!) to set up our date. We eventually decided on Sunday, place and time to be determined. Sunday came and went, and I never heard from him.

Now I know what you're thinking. I easily could have contacted Gustavo myself. Yes, I could have, and I would have had I felt a burning desire to see him. But having learned my lesson and learned it very well over the course of the week, I finally decided to quit while I was behind. Anyway, I had a far more pressing date with Emmy (see the post below), and some things (like A-list award shows) are more important than any guy.

Game over.


Thank God the Sony Channel isn't dubbing tonight's Emmy telecast in Spanish. When Grey Gardens's Drew Barrymore or Jessica Lange get onstage to give their acceptance speech (and you just know that one of them will), I want to hear them speaking, not some anonymous Spanish chick.

I know I'm not supposed to admit to watching -- and liking -- Two And A Half Men, but I am thrilled that Jon Cryer won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. And how annoyed did Kevin Dillon look? I'm not sure what makes Jon supporting when the show is as much about his character as it is about Charlie Sheen's, but I'll take what I can get (so, apparently, will Jon).

I already have to see Justin Timberlake at the Grammys, the VMAs and the American Music Awards. Now that he's an Emmy winner (best male guest star in a comedy for his irregular appearances on Saturday Night Live), am I going to have to see him every year at one more award show? He looks really cute in those glasses, though.

Toni Collette, Best Actress in a Comedy Series!!!!! Need I say more than I already did (here)?

Doogie Howser's sore-loser running gag is kind of cute, but I can tell it's not going to age well. Give it a rest now, Neil.

Why are they showing clips of the Best Actor in a Comedy Series nominees but none of the others? Oh well, I said it before, and I'll say it again: I'll take what I can get.

Ugh! Reality TV! I hate reality TV, but at least they're playing Britney's "Circus."

Mmm, Jeff Probst. I remember once when I was an editor at Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Probst wandered into my office by accident. He blinded me with science. Yum! I still don't care about the reality TV awards.

Tracy Morgan looks weird.... Is The Amazing Race still on the air?

Shohreh Aghdashloo! I've never heard of the movie, but I've loved her since she lost the Oscar to Renée Zellweger. When you have actresses like her, Cicely Tyson, Janet McTeer and Marcia Gay Harden in a category, why rush through the reading of the nominees? Let's see some clips, please.

The nominees in the supporting categories are so random. I haven't thought about some of them in years. So this is what actors like Tom Courtenay are up to now that the film roles have dried up.

Ken Howard. Nice. He's been around forever, and it's nice that he's still working hard. I remember watching him on The White Shadow in the '70s. And sans toupee, he appeared on an episode of The Golden Girls as a widower who wouldn't make a move on Blanche. I had no idea about the kidney thing. By the way, Bob Newhart looks really old.

Jessica Lange. Drew Barrymore. Shirley MacLaine. Sigourney Weaver. This is as good as the Oscars, and we still get no clips? Shame! I thought Drew would win. Looking at Jessica Lange makes me acutely aware of how many years have passed since Tootsie. She seems genuinely thrilled and kind of surprised that her award-winning days aren't over yet. Still, I think a Drew win would have made for a better Emmy moment.

I'm bored. Wake me when we get to the dramatic acting categories.

So many long clips in the variety categories, and nothing of all the film stars in the movies and miniseries categories. Makes no sense to me.

Sarah McLachlan looks and sounds gorgeous. I'm ready for a new album.

I had no idea that Dom DeLuise died.... I think clapping for dead celebrities and turning In Memoriam into a sort of post-mortem popularity contest is kind of icky, but why so little applause for Farrah Fawcett?

Glenn Close again? Yes!!! She's gotta be the sexiest sixtysomething this side of Helen Mirren. For most of the '80s up until I discovered Juliette Binoche in the early '90s, she was my favorite actress. Now I just wish some smart director would hand her a movie role that would finally get her the Oscar she deserved for Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction and Reversal Of Fortune.

Bryan Cranston again? Hmm... I thought John Hamm had it in the bag. But when they aren't giving Emmy after Emmy to Helen Hunt, Candice Bergen, Michael J. Fox and Kelsey Grammar, the Emmys can be the least predictable of the major award shows -- at least in the acting categories. I watched an episode of Breaking Bad once, and Bryan made a stronger impression than he ever did on Malcolm In The Middle.

30 Rock, Best Comedy Series. Yawn.

Unlike Jessica Lange, Sigourney Weaver seems to have stopped the hands of time. ¡Increible!
Sometime before next year's Emmys I'm going to have to finally check out Mad Men. One could do a lot worse than spending an hour looking at John Hamm.

That's it. Game over. Doogie, I mean Neil Patrick Harris was a serviceable host, and he managed to keep the show down to a taut three hours, but there was nothing special about him, not one particularly memorable moment. Next year I think they should hire Ricky Gervais and Steve Carrell to co-host. If that doesn't make the Emmys must-see TV, nothing will.