Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve

Tonight we are meeting friends at Dos Locos for a late dinner (8:30).  I'm guessing that will be the extent of our New Years Eve celebrating since we were not invited to any parties this year.  But we will be with our friends and eating good food, so it will be fun.  Perhaps when we get home we'll watch Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin banter back and forth until midnight.

A common New Years Eve custom (in the US at least) is to make New Years resolutions.  Many people find New Year's resolutions to be worthless, since most are not resolutions at all, but rather, wishful intentions that are forgotten within a week. Here are the top 10 most frequent New Year's resolutions:
  1. Diet
  2. Quit smoking
  3. Exercise
  4. Quit drinking
  5. Quit procrastinating
  6. Save money
  7. Go to church
  8. Wake up early
  9. Quit cursing
  10. Read the newspaper
I, on the other hand, like to make a few resolutions each year that I really work to achieve. For any chance at success one's resolutions must be realistic and measurable.  How else will you know for sure that you've accomplished them?

"Diet" is not a good resolution because there is no way to measure it.  If you loose 1 lb have you accomplished your resolution?  Technically, perhaps but "Loose 15 lbs" is a better resolution because its realistic and measurable.   

"Stop procrastinating" is not a good resolution, as there is no real way to measure whether or not you've done this.  Being more specific such as "do laundry every Sunday" or "clean the fridge on the 1st of each month" are examples of how you will stop procrastinating that you can measure.

"Save money" is not specific enough.  If you want to have $5K more in your savings account, make that your resolution.  If you want to go to Hawaii on vacation and you think it will cost you $5K, your resolution should be "Save $5K for Hawaii vacation".

One year my resolution was to entertain on a regular basis. Spouse & I picked a weekend in every month and invited friends over for dinner both Fri and Sat nights. The dinners were often simple but we had a LOT of fun. 

Another year my resolution was to sort, throw away, organize and file several bags/boxes of paperwork (ie: bank statements, paystubs, real estate documents, insurance documents, etc.) before April 15 when tax filings were due. What a relief it was to finally accomplish this!

So while you wait for the clock to strike midnight tonight and you ring in the new year with a toast, give some thought to a few realistic, measurable, new years resolutions and then work to accomplish them.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Visit with the Newlyweds

After spending Tues-Thurs with our blood-related family, yesterday we drove back to the DC area to spend a few hours with some of our chosen family:  Michael & Jamie, also known as the Newlyweds.  (I refer to them as the Newlyweds because we attended their wedding in Sept of 2005 in MA, the 1st state to enact marriage equality, and called them the Newlyweds on my blog.  It just stuck.)
They live in Portland, OR but were on the east coast visiting family for the holidays and yesterday was pretty much the only day we could see them.  Since they were flying home immediately after our visit, we chose to meet them in Arlington, near the airport.  What better place to linger over a wonderful meal than Cantina Mexicana (also known as The Taco House)?!?!

The drive back to DC was terrible.  It rained the entire way, sometimes rather hard, and visibility wasn't very good.  In some places where the highway wasn't graded properly there were puddles of water on the road.  Some drivers acted as if it were a bright, sunny day and zoomed down the highway.  We saw 4 multi-vehicle accidents in the span of about 25 miles.

But the tense drive was worth it because we got to spend time with our very close friends.  They are like the brothers we always wanted, in sharp contrast to the brothers Spouse actually has.  Although the Newlyweds are 14 years younger than us, they are mature and settled, so we have always gotten along extremely well.  When both couples lived in Arlington we hung out a lot.  We spent a week with them in Puerto Vallarta in Feb 2013 and had a blast.

We talked about changes with their work/jobs, recent travels, upcoming travels, and the possibility of meeting them in Vancouver BC in July.  We talked about all 4 of us having recently spent time with family, family drama, real estate investments, pets, and future hopes and dreams.  I was amazed how quickly the time passed when I saw that we'd been eating and talking for 3 hours already.

After reluctantly saying goodbye, we both headed home; them via a 6 hour plane ride and us via a 2 1/2 hour car ride.  It was a wonderful visit.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Blogiversary




Tomorrow, Sat the 28th is my 9th blogiversary! 

Its hard to believe that I've been doing this for 9 years.  Although I've been posting daily Mon-Fri for the last few years, I didn't always do that. If you'd like to read the post where I introduced myself and Joe here on this blog, click here.

I sincerely appreciate all who return to my blog to read, laugh, and share in the comments.  I've had the pleasure of meeting some of you in person due to this blog so it has definitely been worth the effort to try and find new and interesting things to write about and share.

Now, on to the next 9 years!!


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas, Darling...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas plans

Last night Spouse & I arrived at his mom's house at 9:30.  I was nervous how Marvin would get along with Spouse's mom's dog since Marvin didn't get along well with his brother's dog at Thanksgiving.  After a bit of desensitization Marvin tolerated being around Romeo, a 5 month old puppy who wanted nothing more than to play.

This morning I drove out to my cousin Nez's house to spend the day with her and her husband.  I was very happily surprised to find my aunt Rosie there!  I haven't seen her in a few years and she had some rather serious health issues earlier this summer, so it was really good to see her feeling/doing well again.  We had a very relaxed, easy visit talking and laughing.

Very shortly Spouse & I are heading over to his sister's house for Christmas eve and his mom's birthday.  We'll have food, his mom will open her birthday presents, and we'll have birthday cake... all on Christmas eve!

Tomorrow we'll hang out at his mom's house in the morning, then I'll pick up my aunt Mary and we'll all go back over to Spouse's sister's house for Christmas dinner and exchanging gifts.

On Thurs we will meet up with Kerry & Hugh, Kelly, George, and Lisa for our traditional Christmas luncheon which consists of pizza and hippie rolls.  (A hippie roll is an Italian sausage sliced in half length-wise with sauted onions and green peppers, wrapped in pizza dough and baked to a golden brown... delicious!)  Afterward we'll drop Spouse's mom off at her house, pick up Marvin and our luggage, and head on home.  

We'll see quite a few friends and family during our 3-day visit for Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Paris observations

Spouse & I enjoyed our trip to Paris very much.  In addition to seeing/visiting so many beautiful places, I also did quite a bit of people-watching.  Below are my observations about Parisians:

  1. They all wear scarves.  Every single one of them.  We tried to find a Parisian NOT wearing a scarf but couldn't do it.  Parisians love scarves.  That is a fact.
  2. They wear uber-fashionable coats.  While riding the subway and walking the streets I noticed that no one was wearing a 'basic' coat.  Everyone's coat was stylish, detailed, almost unique.  I didn't see a single person wearing a coat that looked like it came from a chain retail store.
  3. They have embraced the skinny-leg pant Everyone under the age of 60 was wearing skinny-leg jeans or pants.  Straight and gay; man and woman.
  4. Men shave once every 10-14 days.  While some men had full-on beards and a few were clean-shaven, the vast majority of Parisian men had scruffy facial hair that appeared to be several days' worth of growth. 
  5. They like good leather shoes.  As much as Parisians walk, I was surprised at how few people I saw wearing sneakers/athletic shoes.  The majority of men and women were wearing nice-looking leather shoes, even with jeans.  Many of these had an exaggerated pointy toe which I liked.
  6. They're not mean to Americans.  We were treated nicely by everyone we can into contact with in Paris.  At one point early in the trip I thought the waitress might not like us because she wouldn't bring us our check.  After finishing our meal we waited and waited for her to drop off our check.  But I later learned that was because we hadn't asked for the check.
  7. Parisian men look like metrosexuals, at least to Americans.  Several times I saw good-looking, well-groomed, stylishly-dressed men and perceived them to be gay, only to then witness their girlfriend/wife sit on their lap, lean over and kiss them, or hold their hand.
  8. They are weight/height appropriate.  We did not see many overweight people at all.  99% of the Parisians we saw appeared to be healthy, perhaps due to all the walking and/or the smaller size of the meals.
Disclaimer:  These are my observations and are not based on any scientific data or studies.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas cards

I was off work yesterday and since it was the 15th of Dec (10 days til Christmas), I decided to make use of the time off to work on my Christmas cards.

I've written before about how I enjoy sending holiday cards, that I hand-address the envelopes and why, and that I have a tradition of listening to Christmas CDs and drinking eggnog while I write the cards.  To my routine I've also added the application of tasteful Christmas stickers on the back of the envelopes.

While I enjoy the act/process very much, I must admit that it is time-consuming.  Yesterday I spent about 6 hours working on my cards, and I got through about 3/4 of them.  But it felt good to place 100 cards in the mailbox for pick-up.  Now I've only got about 25 cards left to write, and I will likely finish them tonight.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Paris places visited

Since it was my 1st time in Paris, I wanted to see as much of the city as I possibly could.  The best way (in my opinion) of doing this is to utilize the Hop-on/Hop-off bus.

There are a few of them in Paris, but we were told L'Open was the best, and coincidentally that is the one Spouse's travel agent booked for us.  They have 4 different routes and we had time to go on 3 of the 4.  You are given earbuds so you can plug into the commentary (available in several languages) as the bus drives by and/or stops at landmarks and places of note.  I found the commentary to be quite interesting and informative.  Spouse & I always sat on the upper level as close to the front as possible for the best views.  I would certainly recommend L'Open Hop-on/Hop-off bus to others who want to see a lot of places in a short amount of time.

Places we visited:
  • Arc de Triomphe
  • Louvre
  • Champs Elysees
  • Notre Dame
  • Eiffel Tower
  • Pompidou Centre
  • Jardin du Luxembourg
  • Pont Neuf
  • Place de Vosges
  • Sainte-Chapelle
  • Paris Flea Market
  • Montparnasse Tower
Descriptions of many of these places can be found HERE.  We did not "tour" all of these places, as we only had 3 days in Paris.  Many we visited on the bus or on foot.  

When not using the tour bus, we used the metro/subway.  It was very convenient, inexpensive, and ran frequently.  You take the metro nearly everywhere.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Honey or vinegar

Surely you've heard the saying "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar".  The point is that you have a greater chance of persuading someone to do something if you are polite and complimentary rather than confrontational.  Its all about the presentation.

This old saying came to mind when I saw this new, sexy ad called "Knowing", which advocates HIV testing and knowing your status.  Unlike the old HIV testing ads which were clinical, 'matter of fact', and maybe evoked a little fear of not knowing, this ad takes a very humanistic approach to HIV testing, in my opinion.

I have a feeling this type of ad will be much more effective than the old, clinical style ads.  What do you think??


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Back in the USA

As Linda Ronstadt sings in the video above, I'm back in the USA.  Our plane arrived at 3pm ET yesterday, and Spouse's brother picked us up at the airport shortly thereafter.  We visited with his mom for a little while, then drove home to DE, arriving shortly after 7pm.

Paris was fabulous!  Rather than trying to share photos, stories, places visited, and observations all in 1 post, I'm going to split up those into a couple posts over the next several days.  Between the time difference, the way travel always make you feel tired, and the fact that I spent the entire day today in continuing education classes, I'm tired and am going to bed early.  In just a few minutes, as a matter of fact.  More to come!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Leavin' on a jet plane

Today is the day!

This morning we're driving from DE to Spouse's mom's house in northern VA.  Spouse's brother will pick us up there and drive us to the airport this afternoon.  We're planning to be inside the terminal 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time since this is an international flight.  Our flight leaves at 5:20pm and we arrive in Paris at 6:55am the next morning.

The logistics of travel make me nervous; getting to the airport with sufficient time, allowing for traffic jams, security, checking in, etc.  I have no fear of flying and really couldn't care less if I'm served a 'snack' or not, or if I have an empty seat next to me or not.  The flying part doesn't bother me.  The logistics are what make me nervous.

My brain tells me there's nothing accomplished by worrying about things over which I have no control, so I will do my best to allow extra ground travel time and arrive early.  Those are the things I can control.

Bon voyage!!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Packing

Instead of staying home and getting ready for our trip, last night we joined several friends for dinner and then I drove Big Ella in the Christmas Parade.  Fun!!!

We leave for Paris tomorrow and as of this writing, I have yet to pack a stitch of clothes.  In fact, I don't even know what I'm bringing, which is not like me.

The reason for this is because I'm very unsure what to bring.  I've been watching the weather and have a good idea of what the temps will be like, but we will be outdoors a lot (walking, riding the hop on/hop off bus, etc) so I know I will need warmer clothes than I would wear if I were at home.

Then there's the whole suitcase situation.  We got new luggage so we both have new airline-compliant carry-ons to stuff, plus you're allowed 1 additional 'personal item' (ie: purse, briefcase, etc.) but when you're packing winter clothes, you can fill up a carry-on bag very quickly.  Packing for a summer trip is so much easier because the clothes take up just 1/2 the space.

I know better than to think I will be able to bring a different outfit for each day, or that I will have day outfit and an evening outfit each day.  I think I will try to pack a few mix-n-match clothing items so that everything coordinates with everything, colorwise.  I think layers will be important, so I can put on or take off a sweater if I'm too cool or too warm.  I will be lucky to fit 1 evening outfit, which I'll wear Sat night for my birthday dinner. 

We've also purchased those 'travel size' toiletry items in the past, since the regular size items aren't permitted in carry-ons.  If we don't find them for this trip, we may just buy regular size items once we get to Paris, and just throw them away when packing to come home.

The house-sitter/dog-sitter is confirmed, the credit card company has been notified of our travel, and our tablets are charged and loaded with e-books and movies, so all of that is done.  Now I've just got to decide what to pack and cross my fingers that I can get it all in my carry-on and 'personal item'.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Conversion

This is to let you all know that Spouse & I are no longer in a civil union.

We're married now!

A few weeks back Spouse got a call from someone in the benefits dept where he works (for the State) who told him that we could get a refund of some additional taxes paid since I am on his insurance if we were married.  

We had a civil union in 2012 when that became available to us, and I went on his insurance then.  This year full marriage became available (on the State level) but we did nothing about it.  We had the option to convert our civil union license to a marriage license, and if we did nothing, it would automatically convert in July 2014, so we felt no rush to convert it until we got the call from the benefits lady.

So we went to the courthouse, showed our civil union license, paid the $50 fee, and got our marriage license, all within 10 minutes.  There were no photos taken, no vows exchanged, no witnesses standing up for us.  It was rather anti-climactic.  Afterward we went to lunch and then Spouse went back to work.

An option given to us was how we were to be identified on the marriage license:  Party A and Party B, or Groom and Groom.  Without consulting Spouse who was sitting right next to me I exclaimed "Groom and Groom!"


Up to this point I always referred to Spouse as my partner.  But now that we are legally married I've decided to refer to him as my husband.  

For years I resisted using the word husband around straight people because I didn't want them to assume that I was the "wife".  You know how some straight people wonder 'which one of you is the man and which is the woman', a ridiculous question never asked of me, but I imagine still present in some people's minds.  But since same sex marriage has been in the news so much in the last few years I'm hoping that my use of the term husband will no longer illicit such thoughts, and whether it does or does not, I no longer care.  I am happy to refer to him as my husband.  

After 17 1/2 years I think I've earned the right.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving.  And just in case you aren't, click on the video above.  (Make sure your sound isn't muted.)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Family arrival

As usual, we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house again this year.  We are expecting Spouse's sister and her husband and their 3 kids (ages 15, 17, and 21) late tonight.  Then on Thurs we are expecting Spouse's mom, brother and sister-in-law.  So that means 5 people tonight and Wed night, and 8 people Thurs night, plus Spouse & me.  Thank goodness we have 4 full bathrooms and a powder room!

Oddly Spouse did not take off work tomorrow.  I think he was concerned there would be no one in his office/dept if he took off too.  I am also working tomorrow.  So I'm not sure what his family will do tomorrow with both of us at work.  They've been here plenty of times so they know how to get to the grocery store and outlet malls, but its supposed to rain and be quite rainy so I'm not sure that will be an appealing idea.

Now that the "kids" are older I actually enjoy having them visit even more.  All 3 of them are very smart, keep up with current events, and have a good sense of humor so we are sure to have a good time, as we always do.

Spouse and his sister will do the majority of the cooking (turkeys, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, mac-n-cheese) and I will make my usual sweet potato shuffle and corn casserole.  Spouse's sister-in-law will bring the pies on Thurs.

Here's hoping that your Thanksgiving and holiday travel go smoothly and are enjoyable for you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

They do, and they did

Our good friends Rick & Nick got married in Washington DC in 2010.  At that time DE had no civil unions or marriage equality.  Now that DE has marriage equality starting this year, their 2010 marriage in DC was automatically recognized in DE.

This past Sat was the 10th anniversary of the date they met, so they decided to celebrate their 10th anniversary by having a celebration/party.  Those in attendance included some of Nick's family from TX and CO, friends from NY, and local friends like Thad & Steven and Spouse & me.  The ceremony was held at the local GLBT community center.  It was short, simple, and sweet, and was followed by food, music and dancing.
We had a very nice time and were very happy for our friends.  Rick & Nick were the 1st people we met when we moved to DE.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Birthday plans

As I mentioned in Monday's post, my birthday is coming up in 2 weeks on Dec 7.  This will be my 50th birthday, a milestone birthday indeed.

My husband told me a few weeks ago that my 50th birthday present was going to be a trip to Paris!  

I'm so excited!!


I've always wanted to go to Paris.  The idea of drinking coffee and nibbling on croissants in an open-air cafe, walking the cobblestone streets, perusing the famous Paris Flea Market, the many museums, the Seine, the Eiffel Tower - all of it just sounds so lovely and romantic.  So Spouse contacted the travel agent who helped him plan my 40th birthday trip to Las Vegas and she helped him put together this trip.


We'll be flying out of Dulles International Airport (not far from where our family lives) on a non-stop to Paris on the evening of Thurs Dec 5.  We arrive early in the morning on Fri Dec 6.  We're staying at the Hotel Concorde Montparnasse which has American-style bathrooms, views of the Eiffel Tower, and is very close to the subway.  

We also have 2 day passes for the Hop On/Hop Off Tour Bus which should give us an
excellent overview of the city and help us decide where we want to spend more time.

On my actual birthday, Sat Dec 7, we are going on a Seine river cruise and also having dinner at one of the Eiffel Tower restaurants.

Sun Dec 8 is our last full day.  I know there are loads of amazing museums but to be perfectly honest, a little of that goes a long way for me.  So while we may spend a few hours doing that, I want to have lots of time to see Paris.  Of course we've looked at some websites, but if you've been to Paris, I'd love to know your favorite places, or places you think would be of interest to me, someone who has never been there before.  We leave in the morning on Mon Dec 9 and because of the time difference arrive back at Dulles in the early afternoon, giving us plenty of time to drive back to DE.

I've already ordered and received my laminated, foldable Paris map, downloaded a translator app on my iPhone, and set up a special plan with my carrier to be able to use my iPhone in Paris.

Spouse has decided his "color story" for the trip is going to be black, grey, and beige.  LOL!!  I have no idea what clothes I'll be taking but I DO know that I will be wearing comfortable walking shoes.  And I'm bringing scarves, because it just seems like one should be wearing a scarf in Paris.

This is going to be AMAZING!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Birthday celebration weekend

I have known my good friend Kathryn since 1988.  I call her my "sistah from another mistah" because we are so much alike, despite the fact that she is a straight African American woman and I am a gay white man.  Her birthday is 11/27.

I have known my friend Wendy since 1999.  She has a great sense of humor and we always have a blast.  Her birthday is 12/5. 

At 1 point Kathryn and Wendy and I all worked together in the same dept of the same company.  My birthday is 12/7.

Since all 3 of us have birthdays within a 2 week span of time, and since these will be 'milestone' birthdays, we decided to celebrate our birthdays together this past weekend. 

Kathryn arrived from VA at about 3:30.  We hung out and talked until 5pm then went to dinner.  None of us had eaten lunch so we were all game for an early dinner.  We went to Pig + Fish and all 3 of us loved our meals.  However, before dinner we ordered cocktails.  I'm a Cosmo guy for sure, but was thinking that I would have something different that night.  Hmmm... maybe a dirty martini.  Very dirty.  Filthy, if you will.  When the waiter asked Kathryn what she'd like to drink, she ordered a dirty martini.  "Really dirty" she clarified.  "Filthy!!" I added, and we all laughed.  Then I explained to Kathryn that although I usually order a cosmo, I wanted something different tonight and had decided on a filthy dirty martini.

It was a mild evening so after dinner we walked down to the boardwalk and looked at the ocean.  Then on our drive back home Wendy called and said she was almost there.  (She had come from NJ.)  We greeted each other with big, hearty hugs and then went inside to catch up.  Spouse joined in our conversation for a few hours but eventually took Marvin and went to bed around 11:30.  The 3 of us continued talking and laughing, completely unaware of the time.  We decided to have a birthday toast, then take photos of ourselves together.

After taking the 1st photo of me and Wendy, Kathryn let us see the photo.  The way the overhead light shined on my face and hair made it look like I had a giant forehead.  When I saw the photo I said "Oh no - why do I have the forehead of Glenn Close??"  We all burst into laughter.  On our 2nd attempt at the photo Kathryn asked me to tilt my head to block the reflection of the light fixture in the mirror behind us.  I didn't know that was her reason so I asked "Why do you keep asking me to tilt my head like I'm posing in an Olan Mills Portrait Studios photo?"  Again we burst into laughter.  Then Wendy got down onto 1 knee and propped her chin on her fist, a very familiar Olan Mills pose of children.  More laughter.  
Then I pulled a flower from a vase and pretended to lovingly give it to Wendy.  Even more laughter!  I could hardly breath!!  We didn't go to bed until 2am.

Sun morning the 4 of us had coffee and talked, then walked a few blocks to a diner for a late breakfast, then a walking tour through downtown.  Eventually it was time for them to pack up and head back home.  There were lots of hugs and promises to stay in touch more frequently. 

I believe we will.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Score

I wasn't looking for a jacket.  In fact, I don't normally even shop at the Timberland factory store, but Spouse was looking for a comfortable pair of shoes so we ducked in.

I saw this jacket which really looked striking to me.  This photo is terrible, but I got frustrated with Spouse not listening to me about how to take the photo.

I liked the ivory color with the contrasting black detail.  Most outerwear for men is black, navy, or some other dark color which I find depressing in the winter. I prefer lighter, brighter colors.  Plus I already have a black nylon jacket and a navy wool jacket.  This fabric looks kind of like leather from a distance but is actually more like neoprene. 

I looked at the price tag on the cuff which read $128.  This is a lot more than I would pay for a jacket.  But then I saw the sign on the top of the rack which read "70% off".  I used the calculator on my iPhone to determine this striking jacket would cost me less than $40.  Score!!!

I pondered the situation for a minute ("Do I really need another jacket?") but decided that since I really, really liked it, it fit well, and I'd probably kick myself later if I didn't buy it, I went ahead and bought it.

I think its really cool!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Film festival - day 4

In the Name Of...
Festival synopsis:
n the Name Of is the captivating and emotionally powerful story of a charismatic Catholic priest struggling to reconcile his deep-rooted faith with the desires he has long fought to suppress. Father Adam is the spiritual head of a small parish in rural Poland where he also oversees a center for troubled teenage boys. Playing football and joining in manual
construction work, T-shirted Adam leads with a stern hand and a sympathetic ear, earning the respect of his charges. The atmosphere of danger and violence
permeating the young men’s lives and actions never truly disappears, however; it is merely kept in precarious check by the devout priest. Against this backdrop, Father Adam’s personal temptations emerge. Among the young men under Father Adam’s supervision is wild, Lukasz, a nearly mute local. As the mutual connection and friendship develops between the pair, Adam finds his growing attraction to the troubled Luckasz difficult to resist. Director Szumowska has crafted a beautifully textured and visually powerful work that takes a humane, non-judgemental look at the contradictions of Catholicism and sexuality. The film is an engaging portrait of confused emotions, longing and loneliness, and leaves us with the hope that, in accepting our failings, there is a chance for
happiness and self-acceptance.
My review:
This was a good film but could have benefited from better editing.  It showed the unnatural loneliness that plagues priests who take a vow of chastity.  It also explores the chasm between Catholicism and homosexuality against a backdrop of beautiful Poland countryside.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Honeymoon
Festival synopsis:
It’s the wedding day of Radim and pregnant Tereza. As the family walks into church, Dominik, Radim’s adolescent son from his 1st marriage, breaks his glasses. They make a quick visit to the optometry shop next to the church. The optometrist, Ales, recognizes
Radim and the suspense begins. Ales has his reasons for crashing the wedding reception, held at the family’s large and beautiful country estate. Radim pretends not to know Ales, nor the meaning of the mysterious gift he presents. Ales is intent on telling Tereza the tragic story of the past that her new husband is hiding. When she confronts Radim, he shrugs it off. Meanwhile, Ales and young Dominik become acquainted over a mutual interest in photography. Ales lends the youth a vintage Nikon. As Radim watches Dominik with the camera, dark memories of his past surface. Honeymoon will keep you in suspense until the very end.
My review:
This was an interesting film with beautiful cinematography.  When Ales crashes the reception I was hoping he would reveal a passed affair with the lead male character Radim, played by the gorgeous Stanislov Majer.  Instead, Ales is there to warn Radim's bride that she is not marrying the man she thinks he is.  This is the story of the lasting effects of bullying, told from a tender yet heart-broken perspective.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Pit Stop
Festival synopsis:
Recover ing from an ill-fated affair with a married man, Gabe finds solace in the relationship he maintains with his ex-wife and daughter. On the other side of town, Ernesto evades life at home with his current live-in ex-boyfriend by spending much of his spare time in the hospital with an ailing past love. Impervious to the monotony of their blue-collar world, they maintain an unwavering yearning for romance. Far from the gay
centers of the world, director Yen Tan explores the complex and oft-forgotten lives of gay men in small-town America. The understated, contemplative nature of Ernesto and Gabe's story is told from the perspective of an observer, allowing the audience - even if just for a moment - to understand what it means to be an outsider, capturing the emotional isolation the two men have grown accustomed to is captured in a subtle, optimistic, poetic fashion while avoiding melodrama. In a refreshingly quiet film, Tan’s protagonists never try to run away from their relatively hollow surroundings, but opt to fill life’s deepest voids with their tenacious confidence. 
My review:
For me this film showed two men, both of whom had been hurt by unsuccessful relationships, who still believed in the chance of happiness despite what they've been through.  Occasionally funny and often thoughtful, this film was enjoyable to experience.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Film festival - day 3

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
Festival synopsis:
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? is a whimsical romantic comedy that centers on two Taiwanese couples who are trying to navigate the rocky road of love amid emotional and sexual upheaval. Affable optician Weichung is married to office clerk Feng. The couple has one child and Feng yearns to have another. But Weichung is restless and unfulfilled—and he’s not the only one. His impulsive sister, Mandy, is engaged to sad sack San-San but dreams of becoming a soap star. Weichung’s life grows more complicated when it becomes clear that his past is far less straight than he lets on. At his sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner he crosses paths with Stephen, a flamboyant old friend who encourages Weichung to return to the gay life he had before getting married. When a handsome young flight attendant ventures into Weichung’s optical shop, it’s love at first—or near—sight, and although Weichung tries to fight his urges, he can only hold out for so long. Director Chen brings a light touch to the proceedings, peppering the action with pop culture references and comedic set pieces that result in a delicious cinematic confection that is never too sweet.
My review:
I loved this film!  I felt it hit all the marks: well-paced, sweet, romantic, realistic, funny, and well-acted.  This is a delightful film that tells the story of not being authentic but also shows the consequences of doing so.  5 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the trailer here.


Test
Festival synopsis:
An astutely crafted 1985 period drama set in the gay Mecca of San Francisco, Test
lovingly portrays this uniquely exciting and harrowing era as young lithe
Frankie navigates gay life in the city alongside the travails of being an understudy in a modern dance company and his evolving relationship with fellow hunky dancer Todd. As the newest and youngest member of an exciting contemporary dance company, Frankie faces a variety of challenges including the homophobic choreographer who commands him to “dance like a man!” When one of his fellow dancers is injured, Frankie must perform in his place. Todd, an established dancer in the same company and the bad-boy to Frankie’s innocent, helps Frankie prepare. It’s the classic test of skill and character. But a very different test looms on the horizon for both of them. As Frankie and Todd’s
friendship deepens, they navigate a world full of risk... and hope. Breathtaking new choreography, original music and lush cinematography showcase the natural beauty of San Francisco. Accompanying the recent burst of brilliant documentaries on the
AIDS epidemic, Test is an extraordinar y stor y full of nostalgia and
wistful memories about a complicated time. 
My review:
I enjoyed this film for its story, gripping music, and inventive choreography.  (Actor  Matthew Risch was also VERY enjoyable to watch shirtless most of the time.)  However the film really missed a great opportunity with mid-1980s styling.  There were no references to iconic 1980s clothing or hairstyles in this film,, and the main character is seen several times with a messenger bag which nobody had in the 80s.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.
I Am Divine
Festival synopsis:
Harris Glenn Milstead might have seemed like an unlikely candidate to become an international icon. Growing up out of step with mainstream 1950s American culture and hailing from suburban Baltimore of all places, Glenn pursued his loves of food, horticulture, and hairstyling while daydreaming of a more glamorous life. But by the mid-1960s,
Glenn had teamed up with a maverick filmmaker-in-the-making named John Waters, and that daydream became a reality. In the process, a fierce, unrepentant, and larger-than-life new persona named Divine was born. Jeffrey Schwarz’s loving and definitive
documentary portrait of Divine takes us on the roller-coaster ride of a life like no other. At the heart of I Am Divine is intimate, behind-the-scenes insight into Divine’s lifelong
collaboration with Waters, from the early underground films, Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble, to the mainstream breakthrough of Hairspray. But Schwarz also fleshes out Divine’s private life, not to mention enough overlapping careers for ten lifetimes—a movie star, to be sure, but also a Cockette, a recording artist, a disco diva, and a live performer that turned the drag world on its head. Schwarz’s expertly crafted film is a warm, emotional, and hilarious love letter to one of Baltimore’s true originals.

My review:
I found this documentary to be delightful.  There were interviews with the usual suspects like John Waters and Mink Stole, along with lots of clips from Divine's film and concert performances and interviews.  4 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Film festival - day 2

10% Shorts
Festival synopsis:
1.The Belgium Caper
Muriel is nearly 40 and still childless. Despite the misgivings of her girlfriend, Emmanuelle, she decides to take an emergenc y trip to the Belgians (neighbors of French people in Europe) where in vitro fertilization is legal. Thus begins a tragicomic journey.
My review: 
This short was mildly comical in need of better editing.  3 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

2. Foremost in my Mind
Gail Marquis, an Olympic medalist (Montreal, 1976), met feisty Audrey Smaltz when the Olympian was 43 and Smaltz, a former model, was 61. They had both had earlier relationships, Marquis with women and Smaltz with men, but none lasted until they met each other and everything clicked. Their story will resonate with the late bloomers among us as it tracks the course of these women’s incredible lives.
My review:
This short showed 2 very successful women who meet and begin a relationship 'later in life'.  Interesting and enjoyable.  4 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the short here.

3. More Than Ever
Follow a 54-year love story between William Campbell and John Hilton, starting with their meeting in an NYC bathhouse in 1957, up to the present day, when an illness presents them with new struggles and an appreciation of their very special bond. 
My review:
This sweet and touching love story should win everyone over.  Its hard to imagine being with someone for 54 years!  4 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the short here.

4. The Kiss
After an alcohol-induced night out, Emilia, 20, wakes up in a strange apartment and that’s just the start of the strange events that follow.
My review:
I found this short to be a bit tedious and sophomoric.  2 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the trailer here.
5. P.D.A.
An urban gay couple disputes their very different views on holding hands in public, which leads to a much bigger exploration of their relationship.
My review:
This short was current and funny with an unexpected ending.  5 out of 5 stars. 
No trailer found.
6.  Wini & George
An unlikely friendship will change one young boy’s life forever. When George, a shy
8-year-old outcast, first meets Wini, his 75-year-old reclusive neighbor, she immediately frightens him. But soon enough, these two realize that they have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of the world.
My review:
Neighbor Wini understands that sometimes little boys like to play with pink stuffed ponies. Sweet and well done.  4 out of 5 stars.
No trailer found.
7. Spooners
After convincing his husband to retire their lumpy, old futon, Nelson is forced to come out in a spectacular way while shopping for a new bed at a mattress store. This charming comedy was directed by former Philadelphian Bryan Horch.
My review: 
This well-paced and smartly funny short had me laughing out loud at some points.  5 out of 5 stars.
Watch the trailer here.

In Hiding
Festival synopsis:

Janina is a young Polish woman living a lonely life with the father that raised her following her mother’s suicide. Towards the end of WWII, she is quite concerned upon discovering that her father agreed to hide the daughter of his Jewish friend. She quickly
becomes fascinated with the fun-loving Ester, a beautiful ballerina, who dreams of resuming a happy life when the war ends. When Janina’s father gets arrested, she is left to continue hiding Ester, and they live in nearly total isolation. Loneliness and fear bring
them closer together with increasing intimacy. When the war ends, Janina keeps news of the liberation from Ester, as her erotic fascination gives way to an obsessive desire to keep Ester to herself at all cost. In Hiding is a universal story with a unique, surprising twist. It is a story of human desperation with raw emotion that can make us renounce all moral inhibitions and the potential horrors that result. The two actresses give riveting performances that will linger with you long after the film ends. 
My review:
This film felt like it was 4 hours long, probably because too much time was spent setting the stage.  The film  took on a very dark and disturbing twist as Janina's obssession with Ester leads to murdering a nosey neighbor and Ester's fiance.  When the film was over I tried to decipher what point the filmmaker was trying to get across.  Human desperation?  The effect of war on people?  I did not find this film to be enjoyable or entertaining, although the actresses were believable in their roles.  2 out of 5 stars. 
Watch the trailer here.