Monday, April 25, 2011


For those of you who've yet to buy/download Adele's latest album, 21, you must. The purchase is a no-brainer. It's the #1 album in the country right now, and it deserves to be. She's got a powerhouse of a voice and she's a great storyteller. You never question that this chick has lived through that of which she sings. It hasn't left my sound system since Honeybee brought it home for me.  Adele's voice is unique in the sense that where other singers are so good you want to sing along (Carly Simon comes immediately to mind), Adele's so good you don't.

Choice Tracks (besides the already-a-big-hit Rolling In The Deep): Set Fire To The Rain, and Someone Like You

If you already have Adele's latest, and want the feeling to last and last, may I suggest:

JOAN OSBORNE's Breakfast In Bed from '07. Yes, the sad truth is that Joan Osborne, for all of her great music since, may forever be labeled a one-hit wonder for the 1995 smash One Of Us, in which she poses hypothetical questions involving God on public transportation. 

It's a shame. I've seen this gal perform live on a few occasions and she never disappoints. She's got an incredible voice with amazing range. She can glam it up for a throaty ballad, groove aboard a soul train, and rock out to any country-infused diddy. She's a wildly versatile rarity that is hard to categorize, perhaps contributing to her lack of "success" in the pop music charts. 

Breakfast in Bed may be my favorite album of Osborne's. Loaded with great covers and original tracks, it's one of breeziest, most casual albums I've ever heard, each track being sung exceptionally well. There's nothing not to like here. Grab/Download this one.

Choice Tracks: Baby Is A Butterfly, Heart of Stone, and the cover Kiss & Say Goodbye

Friday, April 22, 2011


Ohhhhhh Sex And The City, when you left us seven years ago, did we ever realize the mark you would leave on each and every one of us? (And no, I'm not talking about that crap sequel people can't seem to stop hating.)

SATC made every single gal in NYC think that true love (or hell, an available man) was right around the corner, despite the 4:1 ratio of single women to single men in this city. 

 also made folks think that walking side-by-side-by-side-by-side (four in a row, no less) down any sidewalk is completely acceptable.  It isn't. Sometimes, the sidewalk isn't even big enough to begin with. Also not acceptable: Walking dead-center in the sidewalk when walking solo (the way Carrie always did whenever she "couldn't help but wonder..."; or the way Charlotte did whenever she wasn't acting completely stupid).

So, I feel that I need to clarify something: When you do find yourself walking alone down a city street (New York, or elsewhere), let's try and keep things copacetic by staying to the right, shall we? Yes, I know it's very romantic and winsome to stroll leisurely down the center of the sidewalk in a major metropolis, taking in whatever vista that happens to be before you, but please think about the other 90% of world: the folks who actually have somewhere to be. 

My favorite frustration along these lines is the person who believes they can do it all, and all at once: Protruding shopping bags to the left, dog on an extended leash to the right, baby carriage in front and all the while gabbing away to someone on their phone. What are these people trying to prove? Is "now" the only time they have to run all of their errands and walk their dog? And, more importantly, why is he/she acting like "the multitasker in the plastic bubble" - completely self-contained as they take up 70% of the sidewalk?

I realize some folks often don't have much choice: single mom/single dad, I get it, but you can always scoot over to the right a
 little bit more. I also realize that I've used one ratio and two percentages in same post. Now I sound cranky and nerdy. Just stay to the right, people. Thanks. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I love seeing my name handwritten on an envelope. It's always the best mail. It means no one's going to ask me for money, tell me that I owe them money, or ask me to renew a subscription to a magazine I typically only read half of.

Recently, I received a Thank You note for attending a friend's party. It was short, sweet and sincere. It meant so much to me though that someone took the time out of their day to send one. Seriously, I felt like Countess LuAnn De Lesseps. It meant so much to me in fact, that I began to consider buying "You're Welcome" cards, but remembered they don't make them. Or do they?

These days, it's common to receive Thank You texts, emails and Facebook postings, and I do this myself, as you can never say Thank You too many times. (The exception to this, of course, is Janet Jackson, who has a tendency to overdue her "Thank You's" whenever she performs live.) 

There is something to be said though about the literal gravity of a Thank You card. It actually stays with the person ... until they put it in the recycling bin. But still.

I'm a big fan of the Thank You notes and cards by Snow & Graham. Made from recycled paper, these notes show the receiver that you care about the environment almost as much as you do about the reader. Chick Print also has some great Thank You cards. Check 'em out! Thank you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


For years now, one of my kitchen cabinet mainstays has been Tostitos with a Hint of Lime. I love them. I will open the bag wide and survey the interiors for the most lime-bespeckled of chips. I then dig the best ones out and eat them. Later, when there are only a few chips remaining, I'll crush the chips up into a fine dust and empty the bag into my mouth. Anything to capture the zesty limey seasoning. Which leads me to question why Tostitos has yet to come out with a "Tostitos: Blast of Lime!" We can handle it, Tostitos. Bring it on.

Anyway, the conservative amount of flavor specks isn't really the issue. Lately, to me at least, the chips taste different. They taste, for lack of a better word, HEALTHY. The "new" bag (there's a "hint" that things aren't right) says White Corn, but they have an aftertaste of something multigrain-ish. No? Am I alone in this? "Made with Whole Grain" touts the bag, but there's definitely something else going on here.

I simply don't have time to contact the FritoLay people to inquire, but I'm certain I'm right. After eating the same chips for years, you can tell when the tortilla is being pulled over your eyes. I'm not "mad" about being tricked into eating healthier chips, but couldn't FritoLay balance it out a little better? They could certainly add more seasoning to make up for the flavor change in the actual chip.

I understand this is not a huge deal. I also understand that you may be furious that you just read a blog entry about my conspiracy theory involving a snack food.
 Please don't worry about me. Lord knows I'll still be able to down a whole bag in my kitchen before I'm even done putting the rest of the groceries away. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I had given up on American Idol the past few years due to the lack of quality vocalists. I just wasn't rooting for anyone anymore. The last person I ever rooted for on Americal Idol was Jordin Sparks, and that was way back in 2007. I predicted she would win from her audition episode. I held tight to that prediction throughout the competition, even during the horrific Bon Jovi Week episode.

Well, the American Idol judging panel went through a much publicized overhaul, but kept Randy Jackson (never my favorite). But this entry isn't about Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. It's not about how everyone is allegedly "amazing" - way to go, judges - or how Randy continues to refer to young women as "dude" and "man."

This is about Stefano. At press time, Stefano Langone was still a contender, and the worst contestant of the season. He's been in the bottom two consistently, and continues to survive (besting Pia and Paul, both sent home too early).

My problem with Stefano is his stage presence. Not sure what dump truck of rejected boy band members he fell out of, but every move, gesture, and facial expression Stefano displays harkens me back to a scarier time. A time filled with 98 Degrees, O-Town and ... LFO.

Stefano's face contorts to that of a person having a serious bowel movement. It all feels overblown, like he's auditioning for a Disney Cruise ship. (This is not to take away from cruise ship performers, however we can all agree that the style one would use on the stage of a cruise ship is a different animal than one for a television "concert" series.) Stefano clearly wants the people in the far rear balcony to see the expression on his face, forgetting that he's already on TV. It's very awkward to watch.

Not sure what the judges see in him, or why they gave him the "Wild Card" in the first place. Perhaps it's because of his sad sack story of how he survived a terrible car crash (the specific details of which have never been actually discussed, but we can guess from the scars Stefano showed us during his audition ... shrewd move ... that it was pretty bad).

The madness must stop. I can't sit "idol-y" by while more talented folks continue to go home. If we lose Lauren to this dramatic dipstick I'll be very upset. Dear Faithful Reader and any AI fan that just happens to be reading this, I beg of you, VOTE for your favorite - just as long as it isn't Stefano. THIS. IS. Serious.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I recently read that most tabby cats, like my beloved Shorty, have 130,000 hairs per square inch of ... cat. That's a lot of hair. I'm envious. If you ever saw an aerial shot of my head, and you never will, you'd understand why I'd be envious of my cat's hair count. 

My partner and I adopted Shorty last year. The adoption process lasted a week. Background checks, landlord referrals, in-home inspection - the works. All was worth it though, as this grumpy eight-year-old cat has added some serious laughs to our lives. I even went so far as to make him his own Facebook page. It was a cold winter day and I was bored to tears (you had to be there), so poof, made my cat a Facebook page and he now has almost as many friends as I do. He's a character. A seriously hairy character, which is why I love the Swiffer Duster. 

The Swiffer works. Period. I run this sucker all over my apartment, even across the screen of our flatscreen screen. It just glides, for real, and picks up everything in its path. Totally worth it, and if Shorty could speak he'd confirm that, but first I'd like to think he'd thank us for adopting him. And then thank me for giving him a presence in the world of social networking. And then apologize for shedding all over the place. And then confirm that the Swiffer works. 


I drink about three cups of coffee a week. That's it. Really. 

I love the smell of coffee, but too often the taste is hit or miss for me. I love the coffee that the little truck by my office in the Financial District serves though. It's great (with a hint, for whatever reason, of chocolate and almonds), and the truck guy is very friendly, though I don't know his name and I can't really hear him over the din of the intersection noise where his truck is placed.

Anyway, this morning I got my coffee served in this cup. I hadn't seen this cup in years, though a to-scale ceramic version exists in some gift shops here in New York.

The cup reminded me of the very city I was standing in. It was a little surreal for me. It reminded me of the years (about nine) that I've lived here. It reminded me that even through terror alerts, power blackouts, financial beatdowns, bomb threats, subway strikes, crazy cab drivers, emergency landings, endless construction, gentrification, bankrupted restaurants, rising costs, blizzards, heat waves, the Trumps, the Madoffs and the Real Housewives, the city continues to endure.

Love it or hate it or both, New York City is here for you. It's like that weird funny friend who stands outside your window, the friend your parents swear is a bad influence, waiting for you to come outside and play.


Certain breeds of dog will exercise themselves to death, I think I'm right about that. I'm pretty sure I heard that someplace before. It sounds true.

How I wish exercise was addictive for humans, not to the point of death, but just something that you really want to do. The reality is: it's a chore. Something you
have to do. The endorphins give you a kick and you certainly feel better once you're done, but that feeling is usually because you're done. That "feeling" does not make you want to get up the next morning and do it all over again. 

This is not to take away from anyone's enjoyment of exercise - I love the elliptical thingie myself - but I do question the notion that there are people who wake up in the morning, completely "psyched" to exercise.

I myself exercise more than a few times a week - I even got my Gym Rat badge from Foursquare (jealous much?). A crowning achievement, since I was essentially a cough potato until god invented the internet. Then I became an internet potato. 

Anyway, I was beginning to feel a little complacent at the gym recently. I could feel myself being drawn to the same old exercise machines and equipment. The same old routine. I knew I needed to shake things up, pronto.

At my old gym last year, they had a boxing class. Everyone in this class was hot, young and dripping with sweat. All things I was not, even after killing myself for 35 minutes on the Precor ... at level 3.  After moving to a new neighborhood this year, I switched gyms, and to my great surprise they too had a boxing class. To my even greater surprise, the people in this class were a total mixed bag. Some young, some old, some hot, some not, some thin, some ... not-so-thin. I was a shoo-in to easily join this hodge-podge of mediocrity. I decided to participate.

That was about a month ago - and I've been going most Thursday nights. The class kicks my ass. The hardest part is the crawling - and it's not just because there are drops of sweat all over the floor that I have to dodge for a personal reason. (The Reason: It's gross and if I were to fall in someone else's sweat drops I'd throw-up in front of everyone, including my teacher, Juan, who'd probably make me clean it up all by myself, and then make me do ten jumping jacks). 

Initially, I was seriously apprehensive of taking a "group" class. I have this fear of being the worst in any class. Even though I'm "sorta in shape," I was still petrified of falling behind in class (assuming they'd all been there for years .. or weeks). Being a good student, I went in about 15 minutes to speak with Juan. I knew that speaking with the teacher first would put me at ease before the class began.

Juan was a short gentleman, with a face that looked like it'd been seriously beat up a half dozen times. So much so, that his age could fall anywhere between 32-ish and 58-ish.

: Hi, I'm Brian. This is my first class, just so you know. I'm a little nervous about falling behind and not being able to keep up, or not being able to do some of the movements. Is there anything you can tell me about the class or any tips you can give me?

: Hey, it is what it is. It's intense. You sweat. You're jumping the entire time and doing push-ups.

Me (to self):  Holy Eff.

The convo did not go the way I'd hoped, and now I was petrified. I'm going to hurt myself, I thought, or I'm going to hurt someone else.  

Before I knew it, the class started - fast. Very little warm up. The class was going by so quickly - including oodles of push-ups, jumping jacks, running in place, running in circles, crawling in circles - that I barely even had time to worry about what I was doing or if I was even doing it right. All I could do was ... do. I just kept moving and listening and moving again. It was very exciting and very sweaty.

No one was the "worst" in the class because everyone was trying and doing their best. Some people walked out, some stopped for a sip of water, but I got the feeling that everyone was just doing what they could do. It reminded me of something an old yoga teacher said to me once: Do your best. Not someone else's.  

When the class was over, I actually felt like I had accomplished something. What exactly, I had no idea.

The next day, I couldn't feel my body from the waist down - and I did not have any desire to do another boxing class. I was completely sore, like lead-filled-legs sore. It didn't surprise me - the class was non-stop - but it did take days for my body to feel okay again ... just in time for my next boxing class.


Why is no one talking about the severe deficit in the best Easter candy of all time?  

Cadbury Mini-Eggs, ye of the crispy crunchy candied shell with the solid milk chocolate goodness inside, are incredibly hard to come by these days. 

I love them. I will eat seven at time, minimum, just to achieve a complete mouthful of the crunchy creamy love that these devilish eggs provide me with. I've hit all the shops in NYC (CVS, Duane Reade, RiteAid), and though each has a Cadbury shrine of a promotional display, they don't have the actual eggs.

Look, I'm not wanting to get anyone fired at Cadbury or at these drugstores, but I question who's in charge at these businesses. When the shelf runs dry, don't just stuff in the vacancy with more
Cream Eggs (which are - for the record - gross). Order MORE Mini-Eggs. Your customers clearly love them, hence the empty shelves.

A real opportunity is being missed here. And no, I will not be ordering them online - I'm not quite ready to enter my credit card number into the www for a bag of candy. My dear reader, if you've spotted them anywhere in the tri-state area - by all means let me know.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I may never go to a movie theater again. I'm not being snide, and that sentence was not written in anger. I'm completely apoplectic. Detached. Not love, not hate. It simply disinterests me. 

According to the trade, movie box offices are reporting losses - the only time there's ever a spike in fact is when a another "Pirates of the Caribbean" flick swashbuckles its way into the world of dolby surround sound. Beyond Hollywood producing movies I actually want to see, beyond the three months it takes for a film to become a dvd rental, beyond the $12 price tag (and the additional $2 "courtesy" charge when purchased online) - going to the movies no longer has any appeal for me. 

I almost dished out $14 to see "Burlesque" (I'm a big gay sloppy Cher fan) - but things happen and two months went by - and poof! - it's now on dvd with, and I'm guessing, deleted scenes and songs. So, by waiting or "missing the boa," as it were, I'm getting MORE movie, for less action/money/energy. 

Where's the benefit of going? A larger screen? Your eyes will adjust accordingly in time. Besides, I can sit comfortably in my living room without the fear of bed bugs, my feet sticking to the floor, having to pee during a "good part" or having some crackhead shout things at the screen. I may sound a bit bitter about it, but I'm not, I can assure you. It's just that we've approached a precarious moment in time in which the list of pros and cons of going to a movie theater is so lopsided there just isn't really a reason to go anymore.

My suggestion to Hollywood would be to have different priced tickets for different movies. Why charge someone the same amount of money to see a dumbass comedy like "Take Me Home Tonight" as you would to see
film like  "The Fighter"?  I also think more people would be willing to "try" independent films if the prices were a bit cheaper. The only trend I'm seeing now is the quality of films going down while the price goes up. 


When I was a kid, the word oatmeal sounded about as appealing as a bee sting. It looked nasty. Oat. Meal. The makers of oatmeal don't even attempt to glam it up with a cool name the way the makers of Wine Coolers had to in the late-90's ("Berry Blast!" "Tropical Breeze"). Oatmeal just is.

As I get older and my metabolism slows down though, I keep an eye out for any foods that promise to keep me "heart-healthy." So, it was with a hungry gut and wild pessimism that I recently purchased
Trader Joe's Maple & Brown Sugar Oatmeal. I was buying a bunch of other things there that day and figured, why not? 

There comes a time in every person's life when you need to put down the box of any cereal that has the word "Crunch" or "Frosted" in the title, and get serious. The time to face my fears, as my hairline suggests, had come.

I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. I've learned that the trick is all about the amount of water you put in. So, if you're trying to eat healthy/healthier, just add small amounts of hot water - "water to taste" as it were - and let it sit.

Not sure if you like it pasty or mushy, but give it a shot. I never knew there was an option to how much water you put in - I always thought of it like "porridge" or "curds and whey,"both of which sound equally disgusting. Trader Joe's is a good choice in the oatmeal world, as is McCann's Imported Irish Oatmeal. Just make sure it's instant (do they make any other kind?), add hot/boiling water, let it sit for almost a minute and eat it up. It's good. I swear. 

Here's McCann's Site:


I was grabbing brunch with my beloved Honeybee on Smith Street recently, and we were seated right next to two truly horrible gals. Both thin and in their early 20's (but that's not what made them horrible), the gals barely spoke to one another. Instead, they looked at their smart phones incessantly. Then one would see something that she thought was particularly humorous ("Oh my god, Joe is too funny. Look!") and show the other one the witticism of Joe via the phone. I'm guessing it was a Facebook status update, from what I could see out of the corner of my eye ... and it wasn't even that funny, Joe.

This went on back and forth between the women for a quite a bit. In the meantime, I was diving into my waffle while discussing some hot topics with Honeybee (important stuff ... like if we should try a different dish-washing detergent, and if we think our cat is happy, things couples talk about). 

What blew me away more than the girls' sharing of phones to initiate conversation, was where the girls put their phones when they were done referencing the images on their devices: right on their dining table. Right next to their respective plates. I then looked around the little bistro and realized they weren't alone. A couple of other folks had their phones plunked down
on their dining tables as well.

What's wrong with their vibrate buttons? What's wrong with just not looking at your phone for forty minutes of brunch? What's wrong with giving your undivided attention to your brunchmate? After all, you must like them enough to eat in front of them, not to mention giving up a chunk of your hard-earned Saturday.

As much benefit of the doubt I can muster up, I'm guessing these ladies were not doctors or anyone that needed to be "on call." I just wish that they and others out there would start reconnecting with the person sitting in front of them instead of relying on their phone to do it for them. Check please!


You may ask yourself what a gay gent in his very late 30's (me) would have in common with a straight married lady in her late 60's (Nora Ephron). It's a riddle as old as time itself. Perhaps it's because both "women of a certain age" and gay men grapple with extremely critical peers that tend to focus on looks. It could also be a "glass ceiling" thing - both parties face lowered expectations and increased obstacles. 

All of this 'proving ourselves' business can take it's toll mentally, emotionally and ... aesthetically. From Joan Rivers to "The Golden Girls" there's a strange kinship with the gays that cannot be denied. (With Nora Ephron's most recent book I Remember Nothing, I identified with her love of online-Scrabble, her concern of health and money issues, and her sensitivity when her baked goods are met with faint praise.) 

This little morsel of a book, released in November of '10, is a lot of fun. Witty, snappy and brisk, her blunt casual slightly-ranty style feels genuine. She's like that cooky, chatty aunt that always gives you the best birthday presents.

Check out some of Nora's other writing here ...

Buy the book here ...
The Amazon Link


Perhaps Facebook isn't the best way to send condolences. I can't tell you the number of times I've seen a person's tragic status update ("My grandmother passed away today") followed by endless posts from "friends" extolling sympathy: 

"I'm so sorry for your loss." 
"Blessings to you and your family during this difficult time." 
and the slightly more casual "Dude, that sucks. Sorry man." followed by a sad face like this :0(    

How sincere. All of these "friends" going out of their way to show some sympathy ... 1.5 seconds out of their way.

Likewise, often people's Facebook profile pictures are ironic, self-congratulatory, goofy or drunken - hardly the visual aid to accompany a message of bereavement. I strongly suggest that when you want to show sympathy to a person on Facebook, send a specific message via Facebook email. Short, sweet and personable. Certainly more personable than "posting" it on the person's public wall for all the Facebook world to see. 

Or go all old school, and say it with flowers. And no, not the "Farmville" kind. 


The shoes I'm wearing right now are nasty. Worn, stained, tattered. I love them. My shoes are brown leather and over a year and a half old. I believe I've worn them almost everyday since I bought them - barring summer flip flop needs, and gym sneaker moments. I think I've polished them a total of once the whole time I've owned them. They are the most comfortable of shoes. The pair before this pair were the same "make / model" as my existing pair. (You know that scene in "The Fly" when Jeff Goldblum has a ton of the same shirts and pants? I totally get that.)

The shoes I'm talking about are
Sketchers. They're incredibly durable and look great with jeans and khakis and are completely affordable. I think Sketchers get a bad rap - perhaps it was the whole Ashlee-Simpson-as-spokesperson moment, or maybe it's just the name? 

Sketchers sounds like a children's restaurant that only serves burgers and hot dogs, but the truth is that they produce a great product.

No, I'm not getting a penny from
Sketchers for telling you this. Nor do I have stock in Sketchers, nor do I have a friend who works there. I just love Sketchers and wanted to give you a testimonial in case you were on the fence about every purchasing the goofy-sounding footwear. 

I love Sketchers. See, it does sound weird, doesn't it?


Perhaps due to a near-lifetime spent in retail hell, I get my feathers ruffled during just about any transaction that takes place in a store. Sales people can always be friendlier than they are - so why aren't they? Service and communication-style can make or break any business transaction. Pump some personality into it, folks!

Recently, I was placing a large work-related order w/ a contemporary furniture company. After rattling off a list of needs (including several desks), order numbers, color specifications and delivery requirements and coming up to a hefty total of money - the Sales Person on the other end of the phone asked "Is that it?" 

I had just spent oodles of money. I wanted to ask "Isn't that enough?"

But I didn't, because I'm nice like that. But if you are in the retail world - perhaps asking "Would you like anything else with that?" or "May I help you with any other items before I review your order?" would be a tad nicer. Yes, that's it. 


I recently read that most tabby cats, like my beloved cat Shorty, have 130,000 hairs per square inch of ... cat. That's a lot of hair. I'm envious. If you ever saw an aerial shot of my head, and you never will, you'd understand why I'd be envious of my cat's hair count. My partner and I adopted Shorty last year. The adoption process lasted a week. Background checks, landlord referrals, in-home inspection - the works. All was worth it though, as this grumpy eight-year-old cat has added some serious laughs to our lives. I even went so far as to make him his own facebook page: Shorty Henshel-Masefield. It was a cold winter day and I was bored to tears (you had to be there), so poof, made my cat facebook page and he now has almost as many friends as I do. 

He's a character. A seriously hairy character, which is why I love the Swiffer Duster. It works. Period. I run this sucker all over my apartment, even across the screen of our flatscreen hdtv screen. It just glides, for real, and picks up everything in its path. Totally worth it, and if Shorty could speak he'd confirm that, but first I'd like to think he'd thank us for adopting him. And then apologize for shedding all over the place.