Temperature Demarcation

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It crept in with the night, stealthily and silently. The garage had kept it out, in the tricky way it held onto heat, so when I stepped outside onto the driveway the onslaught of cold air was a shock. The first cool day hinting of fall is always a jolt. It’s a bit too soon to be wholly welcome, but we’ve been making the most of the summer days and I’m almost – almost – looking forward to fall. Extreme heat does nothing for me. Well, that’s not entirely true – it can turn me into a raging bitch from hell. I don’t like to be sticky and sweet. But comfortable days, as we’ve been having of late, with some sun and a dip in humidity, set my mind at ease. The cooler temperatures bring the blue of the sky into better focus. This time of the year does that. It will lend deeper color to anything in bloom as well. It’s the consolation for beginning the final trek of summer days. Fall is less than a month away.

The line of demarcation regarding seasons is never as finite as some of us Virgos might like it to be. There are areas of gray matter, of in-between shading, and on the days straddling high and late summer it can go either way. When I’m not afforded the luxury of poolside lounging, I prefer them to err on the side of cool but sunny. Occasionally there is a happy medium, and it’s always too fleeting.

Right now, the goldenrod is lighting up the edges of fields, and the asters of fall are budding. Summer is past its peak, but purple loosestrife and blue chicory are still going strong. We have a bit more time. We have some more summer.

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Orlando Bloom Gets Naked

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While he has yet to be named an official Hunk of the Day, Orlando Bloom gets his first nude feature in this post. (Perhaps we’re doing a six-degrees-of-sexiness curve, as Mr. Bloom co-starred with today’s Hunk Brad Pitt in ‘Troy.’) While I didn’t quite get the attraction during Bloom’s elvish (elfin?) stint in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (long blond hair and pointy ears?) I came around in his ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ turn. Sometimes I prefer brunettes to blondes. Here are some stills and GIFs from his new movie, in which he appears to take on a home invader dressed in nothing but his tattoos. Regardless of hair color, the best Orlando Bloom is a nude Orlando Bloom.

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Hunk of the Day: Brad Pitt

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Certain classic hunks defy the aging process, while others embrace it and revel in their maturity. Brad Pitt seems to be taking the latter route, which is in keeping with the unconventional path his career has taken. Never one to rest on his beautiful laurels, he chose many roles seemingly to break his chiseled leading-man status, getting gritty and dirty while downplaying his pretty-boy hotness.

To be honest, I was never completely taken with his physical charms. Don’t get me wrong, he’s as near perfect a Hunk as you can get, but perhaps that was the problem. Perfection has a way of detracting from raw and brutal sensuality, and I’ve often thought that Mr. Pitt recognized this and did whatever he could to retain his rough edges. There’s a great deal to admire in that.

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Steve Grand Gets Nude, Jumps in Lake

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For his twist on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Steve Grand gets naked and jumps into the nearest lake. Here’s his Instagram pic of the gratuitous goings-on. Leave it to Mr. Grand to trump us all with nothing but that itsy-bitsy towel. Don’t forget to check out his Hunk of the Day post… and seek out some hidden gems in the archives if you are so delighted.

 

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Hunk of the Day: Dushyant Yadav

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Indian actor and model Dushyant Yadav brings some global flare to the Hunk of the Day feature, hailing from half-way around the world: New Delhi, India. I’d love to trade out residences for a week or two – he could see Boston and I could see India. The ball is in your court, Mr. Yadav. Make it happen.

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Too Cute to Hate, or Exterminate

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By all sensible wisdom, I should not be happy to have a bunny in the backyard. A single cuddly critter can wreak havoc with the vegetation, in just a few sittings. (It’s nowhere near the massacre a single groundhog can commit in just one night, but it’s close.) This little rabbit, however, is too small to do very much damage, and thus far he or she has been keeping to the weeds, which I appreciate.

While we won’t be inviting the less-than-fearsome rodent to stay anytime soon, we will tolerate its muted nibbling as the season draws to its close.

UPDATE:

Yesterday Andy found our little friend at the bottom of the pool, dead.

I suppose this means one of us is pregnant.

Shit.

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Double Hunk of the Day: Christian Arno Williams & Max Wefers

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As the supporting players and ice-dumpers in Donatella Versace’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Christian Arno Williams and Max Wefers steal the show with nary a word exchanged between them. With gold ice like that around their necks and Versace underwear bands around their torsos, who needs words? In a rare Double Hunk of the Day, we offer two to double your pleasure. First up is Mr. Williams…

We’ll sandwich the video between the boys:

And now onto Mr. Wefers…

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Not Quite Dodging A Bullet: ‘Bullets Over Broadway’ Review

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With its epochal questions of the artist versus the man, ‘Bullets Over Broadway’ is a good musical that wants to be great, but falls just slightly short of that unreachable goal. Like its flawed hero David Shayne, it performs admirably enough, but misses that final pull on the heartstrings that would make this more than what it is – which is, thanks to an ensemble of sheer perfection – already a pretty good show. (When Karen Ziemba is relegated to a rather minor supporting role, you know the talent pool is deep.) Luckily for this premiere staged version, that talented cadre of a cast is what lifts it into something better than its lighter-touch would have anyone presume.

Before you consider purchasing tickets, the bad news upfront is that I saw the show on its closing day. There’s something special about the closing performance of a relatively new musical, and this one proved exceptionally powerful, with the cast and crew rising to the occasion to produce a series of show-off-numbers and comedic gold. Making his leading man stage debut, Zach Braff as David Shayne takes the helm and carries the show on his more than capable shoulders. Broadway veteran Marin Mazzie (of ‘Passion’ and ‘Ragtime’ fame) fittingly portrays Broadway diva Helen Sinclair, in a role originated onscreen by the great Dianne Wiest. Comparisons are inevitable, but Ms. Mazzie’s golden voice supersedes any messy holes in the plot – though this reveals the fatal weakness of the production: these performers are far better than the material.

Whereas the movie was more of a comedic farce, the stage version leans a bit too heavily on the artist/man hang-up at one moment, before falling into broad humor the next. It can’t quite make up its mind whether to wallow in the pathos of the moral questions at hand or gloss over it all with superb stage presence. Some shows can have it both ways, but not this one.

Talent will always rise above, however, and this show had it in spades. There’s the aforementioned Braff and Mazzie, who perform the most moving highlight of the show – ‘There’s a Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway’ – and by the end of it, as waves of applause echoed through the St. James Theatre, you could see Mr. Braff wipe a few tears from his eyes, perhaps realizing the bittersweet ending of a dream. He need not cry about it – his performance was pitch-perfect, and his singing voice was a revelation. It’s no mean feat to go head-to-head with a Broadway pro like Mr. Mazzie, but Mr. Braff more than held his own.

Hélene Yorke snatched the bulk of the laughs with her dithering portrayal of the worst actress in the world, Olive Neal. As her mafia-man sugar daddy, Vincent Pastore brings some slithering Sopranos charm to his mobster role, while Brooks Ashmanskas brings belly laughs (literally) as the ever-expanding Warner Purcell. With charisma and charm, and equal parts generosity and menace, reaches into the rafters with his spot-on portrayal of secretly-talented hit man Cheech, whose creative relationship with Braff’s Shayne is more interesting than any of the other predictable romances. Yet not enough is made of this, and not enough is done to make this anything more than the movie version come to imitated life.

Still, there are glimmers of what could have been. In many ways, this is a throwback to a more innocent Broadway, when song and dance and triple-threat performers wowed audiences with their sheer precision and bombast. That was most evident in the raucous take on ‘Taint Nobody’s Business If I Do.’ For those of us who started off almost cringing at the idea of a dancing chorus line of mobsters, the troop quickly won most over with their exuberance, their talent, and the sheer force of their will to entertain.

As good as the actors give, the show itself fails to fully rise to the occasion. Director, choreographer, and all-around genius Susan Stroman does her best to thrill and dazzle, and several unique staging decisions (from an ingenious train to a three-sided merry-go-round of scenes) provide both spectacle and plot-points that drive the story (the climactic staging of the play features a spinning behind-the-scenes look at the play-within-the-musical), yet it lacks a cohesive arc. Part of this is due to the source material: at once a love letter and a Dear John kiss-off to Broadway, especially its critics. Ruminations of the value of art versus the value of a human being feel heavy-handed in a show that wants to delight with sheer showbiz pizzazz. Its musical reliance on a few tried-and-true standards also feels like a tepid retreading wanting for deeper resonance, something that connects more.

That said, praise must still be sung for that cast, those fine performers who carried it into the realm of something spectacular. It showcased the magic of artists at the height of their power, making the most of what they are given, and putting on a performance that made everyone in the audience a believer… even if it was the very last time.

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The Grand & Gratuitous Matthew Camp Post

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This website, along with millions of other folks, has long been a fan of Mr. Matthew Camp. He’s already been featured as the Hunk of the Day (and will likely be again) while his fragrance – 8.5 – has been glowingly profiled and reviewed. He’s got his hands, and other appendages, in a lot of pots, and that sort of Renaissance stance will always be impressive to the liberal artist in me. (As will his naked bottom.) There’s not much substance to this post, as it’s all about Mr. Camp in glorious GIF motion and some colorful photos. I sense a second crowning of Hunk of the Day in the offing, and perhaps an in-depth interview and feature… Are you ready for your close-up, Mr. Camp?

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A Belated Happy Birthday to Tom Ford

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In the fast-paced whirlwind of the end of August, I missed a post celebrating the birthday of one of the men I most admire: Tom Ford. My obsession with his Private Blend fragrance collection has been well-documented in these pages, and since a few have asked which ones I like best, I present my current inventory, with links to those which have been featured here:

Among these are a few extra-special favorites: I adore ‘Amber Absolute’ for its smoky amber richness, ‘Plum Japonais’ for its fruity exotic sweetness, and ‘Mandarino di Amalfi’ for its summery citrus freshness. I usually save ‘Santal Blush’ for the holidays, as it’s almost over-the-top in decadence (yes, I try to rein things in at quieter times of the year.) The more woodsy options – ‘Oud Wood’ and ‘Bois Marocain’ are more suitable for day-to-day wear, but make no mistake: Tom Ford’s Private Blends are special, so I only wear them on important days.

As for the man himself, he recently did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and managed to make even that messy bit of waterlogged madness look sexy. See here:

Happy (Belated) Birthday to a master of style and scent.

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Hunk of the Day: Mika

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It’s nice when an opening post leads into a closing post, and so we have another Mika moment, as the openly-gay singer-singwriter is also being named as the Hunk of the Day. He may not own up to being a model (and admits as much quite explicitly on ‘Popular Song‘) but he certainly has a certain appeal, and more than a few people are going to enjoy this post. There’s always something sexy about a singer. (See also Adam Levine, Lenny KravitzJustin Timberlake, Marques Houston, Keith Urban, Enrique IglesiasLuke Bryan, Trey Songz, and Jason Derulo.)

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The Musical Magnificence of Mika

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It’s been a long, long time since I’ve purchased an actual CD from a physically-standing store, but on my last visit to Boston I saw the new album by Mika,  ’The Origin of Love,’ in Barnes & Noble, so I picked it up for the car ride home. There are only a few artists whose music I would buy before hearing any of the songs – Madonna, Shirley Horn (sadly no more new music), and James.

On this record, the music sounds like the love child between Daft Punk and Erasure – making it both of-the-moment but also timeless. In other words, an instant classic that manages to sound both completely familiar and entirely new. Such musical magic is difficult to conjure, but Mika has managed to make it happen on all three of his albums to date, progressively revealing a darker yet still-accessible side on cuts like ‘Make You Happy’ or ‘Overrated.’ He continues to craft some of the frothiest pop out there today, as in ‘Popular Song’ (which gleefully borrows from ‘Wicked’) and the gorgeous ‘Kids.’

Such stuff might at first seem tailor-made for over-production and saccharine sweetness, but Mika wisely veers clear of such pitfalls, stripping things down for the title track. Filled with ambivalence, and shot through with treacherous questions on faith and religion, ‘Origin of Love’ is a powerful reminder of the potency of Mika at his best. It begins somewhat slowly for the bombastic guy responsible for such rousing anthems as ‘Grace Kelly’ and ‘We Are Golden’ but it grows into something richer and more lasting.

Even when he’s being snarky and sardonic, as in the beautifully blunt ‘Love You When I’m Drunk,’ the music is so light and bouncy it takes away a bit of the edge, but in doing so lends it a more sinister impact. He may cut you, but it’s going to feel and sound so good you won’t mind as much.

That’s Mika’s greatest weapon: he’s an aural assassin, and his music can slay the staunchest enemy. Any lashing out comes from a displacement of hurt, deliciously disguised as he shuffles along on marvelous melodies and resounding choruses.

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Hunk of the Day: Liam Payne

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There was a time when I would have known who this kid was, along with all his other bandmates and their various nicknames. As it stands, I had to look it all up. This is Liam Payne, the Hunk of the Day, who is part of One Direction. They’ve been featured here before for a certain Story, but I don’t believe any one of them was singled out. My days of boy-band-obsessing passed with ‘NSync and the Backstreet Boys. It’s time to let some other teenage girl pick up the slack.

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Three Augusts

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Far more than other years, I really don’t want August to end. That goes for the summer as a whole, and this is the first year in some time that I’ve felt so strongly about it. This one has just gone by too quickly. So let’s draw it out a bit, and look back over a trio of Augusts that came before.

First up is August 2010 – for which there were only two saved entries. But I’m quite fond of them both.

August 2011 found a few entries exploring the city of Boston. Much summer magic takes place in that miraculous city.

On the very edge of Massachusetts is where we spent a few days in August 2012 – when a birthday was spent in Provincetown.

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Hunk of the Day: Derek Richardson

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When one has the beauty of a male model, words are often superfluous. Today, that’s a very good thing, as I just returned from a birthday weekend in New York and I’m spent. Taking up the mantle of attractiveness to see you through to tomorrow, here is Hunk of the Day Derek Richardson.

 

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