Monday, February 26, 2007

A Touch of Class

"There are many countries in the world where one would not be allowed to make this film. It's generous of the queen and the royal family to sit back and not interfere. I do believe she is a noble person in the best sense of the word." Helen Mirren

A Notable Oscar Quote

"This is the only naked man that will ever be in my bedroom." -- Singer Melissa Etheridge, who is gay, joking after winning best original song for "I Need to Wake Up" from "An Inconvenient Truth."

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Snowbird Invasion

On the way to taking Daisy to the vetanarian today, my sister who was driving commented on how many cars on the roads did not have Florida license plates. Indeed it seemed that almost every other car was from out of state and in many cases from the different provinces of Canada.

The snowbirds have arrived in full force.

A recent survey conducted by the University of Florida estimates that close to one million persons relocate to Florida for at least one month during the winter; with most staying three months. This does not include persons here on vacation for 1-2 weeks.

Wonderful for the economy of Florida, but hell to most year round residents.

The roads become congested, the number of accidents increase significantly, the amount of time it takes to get to and from work increases, restaurants are nearly impossible to get into and the beaches are overcrowded.

Thankfully, the exodus north will begin shortly after Easter.

Of course, with severe snow storms presently moving from the midwest to the northeastern states to be followed by another storm next week, while we are enjoying weather in the mid 70 degrees this weekend, who can blame the snowbirds for invading!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Back to reality.....

I always feel a great sense of sadness at the end of Carnival as the mask is removed and we return to a world of reality.

I'm seldom at a loss for words but the carnival period which began on January 6th was also the beginning of the busiest time of the year for me.

Working for a not-for-profit federally funded organization, we are subject to annual audits. Our audit was scheduled for January 22-24th and because we had so many changes in management during the year, I was asked to review and correct errors made in documentation. I worked 13 days straight, at times 12 hours per day. Considering the fact that it takes me almost two hours each way to get to and from work, there was little time for rest.

My efforts were rewarded when we received the highest ratings possible.

I was scheduled to take the following week off when the production supervisor became ill and I was asked to take on additional responsibilities. Vacation was put on the back burner.

February arrived with a Valentine's day party and dance followed two nites later by a Chinese New Year party, followed immediately with Mardi Gras......

Today, I've scheduled an appointment on Saturday with a canine geriatric specialist for Daisy who is beginning to have difficulty walking, due to arthritis.

Next week, Muggs is scheduled to see his vet for an annual physical and shots.

The following week, I see my opthalmologist for an annual exam.

I'm tired!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Colors of Mardi Gras

As our model George W. Bush proudly displays, the traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple (symbolic of justice), green (symbolic of faith) and gold (symbolic of power). The accepted story behind the original selection of these colors originates from 1872 when the Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff of Russia visited New Orleans. It is said that the Grand Duke came to the city in pursuit of an actress named Lydia Thompson. During his stay, he was given the honor of selecting the official Mardi Gras colors by the Krewe of Rex...thus, did these colors also become the colors of the House of Romanoff. The 1892 Rex Parade theme ("Symbolism of Colors") first gave meaning to the representation of the official Mardi Gras colors.

Mardi Gras

New Orleans

Good Friends Bar

Bartenders and Dancer
Good Friends Bar

Dancer at LaFitte's Bar

Dancer at Corner Pocket

Carnival in Rio

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Behind The Mask

I don't recall a period in my life when Mardi Gras was not celebrated in my family in one way or another.

As a young child, I remember being in costume and masked, going from house to house requesting "treats" from friends and family. It was a time of carnival prior to the beginning of the fourty-day Catholic lenten season, CAREME a time of fast and penitance. We also celebrated Petit Careme, on the Thursday of the third full week of the lenten season.... a day to take a break from the lenten obligations.

Moving to America, we quickly integrated our Canadian customs into the Mardi Gras season. This is the second year in a row I'm unable to celebrate in New Orleans, but there is a rather large festival and parade in a neighboring town which I will attend and at work, my co-workers, clients and friends will celebrate by wearing the purple, green and gold Mardi Gras beads which I have shipped anually from New Orleans.

Surpassing pre-lenten celebrations throughout the world in elegance and sophistication would be the Carnavale di Venezia. Many of the following photographs were taken this week.... not by me, unfortunately.

The Venetian Carnival is one of the oldest and most enchanting festivals in Europe.
Nobody knows when the Venetians actually started wearing masks, even though in Venice, Carnival officially began on Boxing Day December 26, and reached its climax on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

In the 18th century dressing up and anonymous games with masks were an inseparable part of the Venetian daily life and society. Carnival seemed to go on almost all year long, or so it must have appeared to the visitors to the city.

The Venetian fashion of wearing masks brought with it many advantages and freedoms, which must have seemed close to paradise for many foreign visitors.

Ordinary citizens dressed in costume made of expensive fabric could feel like wealthy noblemen. Rich and poor celebrated together throughout the city and the astute Senate, which recognized this as an escape valve for social unrest, pronounced that no one wearing a mask was superior to any another.

The "mask" became an outlet for many to depart from the mainstream life they were leading. The mask invents the new personality to outward view and lets you behave in a different way.

During Carnival St. Mark Square became the centre of celebration, but also the "campi" (little square) and the main thoroughfares were thronged with people dancing, singing and playing games. St. Mark Square, described as the world's greatest dining room, was like a huge open-air ballroom and near the entrance of the square a floating stage appears through the lagoon mist.

The final day "Martedi Grasso" or Shrove Tuesday, was the climatic day of the Carnival, when processions wandered up and down the Grand Canal. Hundreds of fairy lights and lanterns are reflected in the waters of the canals and Venice itself became a unique great stage.

With the fall of the Venetian Republic at the end of the 18th century, the use and tradition of masks gradually began to decline, until they disappeared altogether.

In 1979, a group of young Venetians interested in theatre and culture had the idea of reviving the Carnival in Venice.
Now the visitors that crowd Venice in the last week before the beginning of Lent reach a figure of more than 500.000 and the traditional spirit of the Carnival pervades again throughout the city.

The division between reality and illusion, between past and present; never very clearly defined in Venice at any time, indistinguishably merge.


Champion Sugarbear Flamingstar O'Harada

BEST OF BREED winner at the Annual Westminster Dog Show in New York City 12 February, 2007

Congratulations from your friends at PugvilleUSA, Don, Daisy and Muggs!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Out and About

A former NBA player reveals in his new autobiography that he is gay and that he played years of pro basketball without his secret being exposed.

Journeyman center John Amaechi said he led an actively gay life during most of his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic and Utah Jazz between 1995 and 2003.

"Friends often marvel at the fact that my personal and professional lives remained largely separate for so long," the Boston born, British raised Amaechi writes in his book, "The Man in the Middle."

"When I was in New York during road trips, I'd check out Splash, a big gay club in Chelsea. . . . I was hiding, but in plain sight."

"The guys flaunted their perfect bodies. They bragged about their sexual exploits. . . . They primped in front of the mirror, applying cologne and hair gel by the bucketful," he writes.

"As I surveyed the room, I couldn't help chuckling to myself: And I'm the gay one. Hah!"

Sunday, February 04, 2007


QEK, this one's for you!

Daniel Radcliffe, one of the biggest names in movies thanks to his role as the boy-wizard Harry Potter, is to appear in a classic stage play about a young man who blinds six horses in a torrid ritual.

The role for Radcliffe is a major one and at one point Radcliffe will be required to reach the height of sexual pleasure - simulated, of course - while riding naked on his horse.

It's a clear signal that Radcliffe wants challenging roles and will not settle for frivolous exploitation of his name.
The play, which caused a sensation when it was first staged at the National Theatre more than three decades ago, explores what happens when the 17-year-old youth is sent to a psychiatrist.

He uncovers the extraordinary forces that drove the young man to harm the horses and there follows a fascinating discourse on Greek mythology, religion, sexual awakening - and arguments about whether psychological healing will do the groomsman more harm than good.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Long Live The Queen

When screenwriter Peter Morgan set out to portray Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, he depicted a distant monarch, clueless and a little appalled over the massive outpouring of grief after the death of her former daughter-in-law, Diana.

"I wrote about a cold, emotionally detached, haughty, difficult, prickly, private, uncommunicative, out of touch bigot," Morgan told Britain's Evening Standard soon after The Queen hit theaters.

Helen Mirren is The Queen

Tony Blair was the man with his finger on the public's pulse, dubbing Diana the "people's princess" and positioning himself as the lightning rod for the thousands who stood weeping outside Kensington Palace. while the queen remained locked in her Scottish castle.

What a difference a decade makes.

Much as the monarch foresaw in the film, the queen and prime minister seem to have traded places in the public's estimation in the nearly 10 years since that week after Diana's death.

Blair is struggling through his third term and battling public hostility over the Iraq war and corruption scandals. Even his party favors his departure.

The queen, meanwhile, is appreciated for the detached demeanor that has allowed her to remain on the throne for 54 years.

Many Britons look back on that week after Diana's death with a sense of perplexity.
"It did seem at the time as though the queen had missed the post-Diana mood, or underestimated it, and had been defeated by her former daughter-in-law, even in death. But now I wonder," Minette Marrin wrote in the Sunday Times recently, after seeing The Queen.

In what seems a prescient moment, Elizabeth as protrayed in The Queen warns Blair that he too might one day face accusatory headlines from the disenchanted public.

"And it will happen, Mr. Blair," she says, "quite suddenly and with no warning."

"And yes, Mr. Blair, that is what happens when you follow the directions of your friend Geroge W. Bush." dondon009

She must be doing something right: The queen has remained on the throne through 10 prime ministers and 54 years.

Friday, February 02, 2007


My first and second lovers were both named Juan.... neither was American, both relationships lasted seven years. In my previous post, I wrote about Juan Victoriano from the Philippines who was actually Juan II.

Juan Rafael (Juan I) entered my life at a most vulnerable time. I had survived a boating accident that took the life of my dearest friend David and as a young man in grief, the escape was alcohol; which led me to local Boston bars each nite, drinking until I was about to fall down. My friends, although keeping a watchful eye on me, did not dare intervene.

It was during one of those evenings that a young man sat next to me at the bar. He introduced himself as Juan but could not speak english. Fortunately, with two years of high school spanish and my fluent knowledge of french I could understand most of what he was saying and respond somewhat appropriately. Throughout our conversation, I continued to drink until finally when it was time to leave, I could hardly stand. Juan offered to escort me home. I woke up the next morning fully clothed to find him sleeping next to me. He stayed for seven years.

While learning about America, Juan introduced me to a culture rich in history, tradition and passion. My family adored him and his family, secure in the knowledge that their son had found happiness in America showered me with gifts of 18kt. gold. We travelled to Spain twice a year during that period and I continued to travel to Spain several times after the break-up.

We remain friends.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Kiss to last a lifetime..........

Juan Victoriano was a beautiful gentleman I met shortly after he moved to Boston from the Philippines.

I remember the kiss......... I was preparing to leave for work one day when suddenly Juan Victoriano took me in his arms to kiss me goodbye. Two hours later, we were still kissing when I suddenly realized that I would be somewhat late for work. I was scheduled to arrive at 8:00 AM and finally entered the building at 11:00 AM. No one questioned me; it was obvious from my expression that the morning had begun quite beautifully.

Seven years later, Juan Victoriano would return to the Philippines and I would move to Florida to be closer to my sister and her family.

February should prove to be an exciting month for me; and what better way to begin the month than with four days off making this a very long, well deserved weekend!

Valentine's Day, the feast of St. Valentine holds special significance for my family and I. My late grandfather was born on February 14th and is named Valentin (French).

Valentine's Day gives me pause to reflect on love...... The love I've had, the love I've lost.

I've never entered into a relationship that I've regretted, and amazingly I'm still quite fond of my former lovers and we remain casual friends.

People grow apart for a variety of reasons. I'll reflect on former relationships in the next few days.

"T is better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all. "

In Memoriam. xxvii. Stanza 4.
Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

Mardi Gras will be celebrated on February 20th this year and I'll get into Mardi Gras mode immediately after Valentine's day..... I hope to reflect on some adventures and misadventures that have occured during my many trips to New Orleans.