A Boo-tiful Event

One week from today, the Boo-jolais Vampire Ball swoops into the Albany Capital Center, promising a wicked night of delicious costumed devilry to kick off the Halloween season in high style. After trying out the costumed theme and shifting the date of this a few weeks earlier than previous years, it sounds like the Alliance for Positive Health has honed and refined the focus of this event, transforming it into a decadent Vampire Ball.

Albany is turning itself out for this evening, with local luminaries lending their culinary creations to the celebration at hand. The list is pretty impressive:

Also of note is the Silent Auction, which now includes a Tropical Island Getaway, a Mariah Carey Holiday concert, a weekend getaway at Gardner Farm Inn, a Burger 21 Food Truck party, a vodka tour and tasting, an Adirondack getaway at the Mirror Lake Inn, a day of pampering at Complexions Spa, and a Cocktail party put on by Experience & Creative Design. 

Bare your fangs, and whatever else you wish – costumes are especially encouraged and appreciated, but any fancy get-up will do. Get your Boo on and join us for the fun!

{Get tickets here}


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A Husband’s Birthday

Two score and a decade and half of years ago, a baby was born who would give his parents, myself, and everyone who knows him much joy. This is Andy’s birthday and, as is his desire, it will be a low-key event, without fanfare or pomp, but I’m still going to make some ado about it here because while he may not want a big bash, he’s more than worthy of some public gushing and online accolades. (He’s on Twitter and Instagram – @drewvanwagenen – so show him some birthday love and tell him I sent you.)

Since he’s not big on having his photo taken, he’s not on this site as often as he should be, but his spirit imbues just about everything I do, informing all of these posts in ways not often seen or blatantly explained. The truth is that I wouldn’t be half of who I am without him in my life, and maybe that should be said a little more often. Perhaps somewhat carelessly on my part, I’ve always assumed that everyone knew that. On this, his birthday, I’m taking a moment to confirm it.

Happy Birthday Drew – and many happy returns of the day!

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Hunk of the Day: Billy Eichner

His character just had his head cut off by the SCUM of American Horror Story: Cult (which I somehow got hooked on again after vowing never to return) but Billy Eichner is fully intact in his first crowning as Hunk of the Day. For a few years, I only thought of him as that annoyingly-manic street reporter who accosted an unsuspecting public with gamely-going-along-with-it celebrities, but gradually he grew on me, and his fellow stanning of Madonna made him all the more endearing. His recent turn on AHS is proof of his comedic wizardry, and displayed a surprisingly versatile range (a top to Colton Haynes’s bottom?) Anyway, congrats to Mr. Eichner on being named Hunk of the Day. Don’t lose your head over it.

(Bonus points for the Chris Pratt GIF below.)

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Wizardry Redux

We need more of this. 

Ease on down the yellow brick road with this amazing high school homecoming performance. 

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Leather & (Raspberry) Lace: Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather

One of the very first Tom Ford Private Blends produced, and the most touted scent to the whole line back then was Tuscan Leather. It remains a cornerstone of this line, but it took me a long time to come around to it. It’s not a subtle one, and the first few years of sniffing it had me unconvinced. It was potent. It was loud. It was almost obnoxious. One would think I’d have loved it. One would be wrong. 

Fortunately taste and perception shift over the years. A good cologne will do that in a day. I never bothered with trying Tuscan Leather on and seeing how it dried down, I only took that initial oomph and steered clear. I missed the real magic of this stalwart performer until I threw a ‘Naughty or Nice’ party with S&M leather undertones and finally got around to sampling this fragrance for a full night.

It begins in unapologetic fashion with the cracking of a leather whip.

Some leather is stiff. Worn by the years, faded by the sun and wind, it dries out, stiffens up, and stands on its own. It hits hard because that’s the only way to survive.

Some leather is supple. Processed and delicately treated, it spills and folds like the softest silk. It kisses and caresses the skin, hiding its toughness in flowing elegance, cloaking its delicacy in shrouds of smoothness.

Tuscan Leather gives both of these aspects a delicious turn, beginning in tough, cowboy-boot stomping glory and finishing with a sweetly refined send-off.

This is not a scent for the faint of heart or weak of nose. That opening is no joke, and as one of the very first Private Blends, Tom Ford was announcing he didn’t come to play. Tuscan Leather is a complex, challenging, and ultimately exquisite experience that may have some shying away from its harsher points. Those who want a true fragrance journey should board this wild ride and prepare for glory.

Starting off with a heavy jolt of its namesake, leather plays a primal part in the proceedings. Though I usually think of leather as one of the lasting aspects that shows up rather late in the dry down, here it announces itself front and center, and stays there for the greater part of the show. A smokiness pervades as things progress, lending dark beauty and potent mysticism with just the slightest hint of incense, courtesy of the olibanum. The official literature for Tuscan Leather lists black suede as part of the formula, giving it a hedonistic edge. It verges on going musky, but is pulled back by night blooming jasmine, which claps back with its own sweetness, bravely defying all the harder elements at work. The juxtaposition is delicious, and results in one of the most beautiful dry-downs of all time: a luscious raspberry-like sweetness that somehow retains all the rustic leathery goodness of the beginning.

Sillage and projection is powerful – do not go heavy on this, especially in an office environment – and its duration is a good six to eight hours (with the dry down lingering into the next day if you let it).

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October’s Bright Balmy Recap

With the weather this far from frightful, I’m grateful for the bonus days of balmy weather. Though it’s scheduled to depart by the time this post goes up, at the time of its writing its warm enough to swim. More on that to come, perhaps. For now, the weekly recap before my mid-week-weekend break. 

We began peering in on how two straight guys end up exchanging phone numbers

Fifty shades of shirtlessness with Jamie Dornan. 

I found this heart in need of a home

The days of dahlias

Revisiting our fall family trip to Ogunquit

True blue baby

Pietro Boselli, Alexander Skarsgård, Derek Yates, Cameron Dallas, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Nick Jonas, Adam Driver, Giles Marini and Calvin Harris in all their shirtless black and white glory

Super-saturated colorful mayhem

A magical moon rising over Maine. 

The Madonna Timeline will be coming back in a big way... but these things must be done delicately. 

Hunks of the Day included Lotan Carter, Brett Edward Stout, Aron Baynes, and Nick Muscardo.

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Harvest Moon Over Maine

Looking out from the start of the Marginal Way, we take in the view of the moon as it reflects over the eastern seaboard. Framed by clouds and cradled by the sea, the moon hovers and disseminates its magic along the shore, sprinkling fairy dust and sparkling gypsy water in its wake. This is the Harvest Moon, I’m told – aptly named from the time when it aided farmers in gathering their harvests late into the night.

I use its light to harvest memories – of trips to Maine, of childhood adventures, of misunderstandings, of beauty and happiness. I also use it to make a new one: spying this spectacular moon with my parents and my husband, on a balmy October evening after a family dinner in Ogunquit. (Add it to the list of happy ones.)

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Guess the Next Madonna Timeline

The time has come for another iTunes Madonna shuffle, and the next entry on the Madonna Timeline. After ‘Body Shop’ strummed its last banjo note, I watched as the randomness of the universe moved to an epic entry, and one that occupies the top trio tier of my favorite Madonna songs. I suppose I should give the top-ten run-down at this point, as they’ve all been showcased here:

  1. Drowned World/Substitute for Love
  2. Like A Prayer
  3. {To Be Announced}
  4. Express Yourself
  5. Crazy For You
  6. Music
  7. Rebel Heart
  8. Material Girl
  9. Rain
  10. Ray of Light

The bottom five of these stellar selections are still pretty malleable and ever-shifting. An artist like Madonna moves and bends with the times, and her body of work does the same. Certain melodies linger, specific lyrics speak with greater resonance, and what moves me one day might not move me as much the next. As for #3, I’m going to take my time with it. (There’s not much of a guessing game here if you think about it.) It remains a classic, and has so many iterations and memories attached to it that it will require some organization (and even then it’s going to have to be a multi-part timeline). Passive readers and those uninterested in Madonna need not return!

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All-Natural Super-Saturation

As much as I abhor photoshopping pictures, on my Instagram I tend to add a little boost of saturation to some of my nature shots. What can I say? I love color, and sometimes the intensity is lost in the lighting or shaky camera work. For these photos, no such amendments were necessary, supporting proof of my theory that flowers in the fall glow more brilliantly than at any other time of the year.

This simple Pelargonium veritably thrills with its neon-like sparkle. It sat in a lowly pot with another annual that had long passed its prime, but this one kept going, shining brightly until the first hard frost will finally strike it down.

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Hunk of the Day: Nick Muscardo

I’ve been woefully neglectful of those Andrew Christian Trophy Boys of late, so let’s rectify that situation with this Hunk of the Day post. Trophy Boy Nick Muscardo takes his Hunk of the Day bow in his very first crowning. Mr. Muscardo fills out his Andrew Christian wardrobe in ferocious fashion, and Christian’s styles accentuate the very best of what he has to offer. (I should just start reviewing gay porn and call it a day.) In the meantime, feast your eyes upon this bodacious buffet.

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Artful Shirtlessness

No matter how sinfully salacious or purportedly provocative a photograph might be, the moment the color is drained from it suddenly turns it into art. The images in this post are proof of that, as they feature various former Hunks of the Day in states of shirtless and shameless glee. First up, front and back, is Pietro Boselli. He’s not only been a Hunk of the Day, but has also been featured numerous times in states of underwear and states of undress, posing in his second Hunk of the Day honor. 

Recent HOD Cameron Dallas shows how low his Calvins go, much as he teased in this post.

Alexander Skarsgård strikes a quirky if smoldering pose in his tighty-whities, but he went full-on starkers for hi Hunk of the Day post. Derek Yates continues the sultry vision that he began in his first Hunk of the Day post (and his second). 

Mark-Paul Gosselaar flashed his bodacious booty in his virgin Hunk of the Day crowning

Nick Jonas has been here far too many times to list all the links, so do me (and yourself) a favor by typing his name into the Search feature at the bottom left and see what he brings up. It will be worth it, trust me. 

Adam Driver channels his sexy rub-a-dub-dub side here, as he did in his last Hunk of the Day feature (check out his first HOD post here). Giles Marini hasn’t yet been featured (or if he has, that post has gone by the wayside). Here’s a pic of him nonetheless. 

Finally, a little GIF for any Calvin Harris lovers out there. In case his original Hunk of the Day post doesn’t quench the thirst, there’s also this brief-clad one.


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Hunk of the Day: Aron Baynes

This Hunk of the Day is a true chameleon, and most people know that we love chameleons in these parts. He changes looks like he changes basketball jerseys. Currently playing for the Boston Celtics, Aron Baynes is an Australian b-ball player who, according to certain salacious commentators, is more than a tall glass of water. As much as I love Boston, I’ve never quite gotten into the Celtics. This may be the starting point. Check out his chameleonic moves below, where he transforms with some serious hair-shifts. (Further proof that a beard is a wondrous thing.)

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True Blue Blossom

It is often said that there are no true-blue flowers in the natural world. I’d fallen for this notion over the years, perpetuating the idea and even making vague plans to seek out the closest we could get (the elusive Himalayan blue poppy), yet it appears there are such hues, as this salvia begs to differ. Check out the vibrant blue tones here, in unfiltered, un-additionally-saturated form. It’s nice when the universe defies humankind’s stories. It keeps me on my toes. {Insert ‘Black Swan’ reference here.}

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A Brief Ogunquit Revisit

If you’ve been following this blog for any decent length of time you are already accustomed to our twice-annual sojourns to this Beautiful Place By The Sea. This year we closed out the season with a long Columbus Day weekend, but rather than take you through a multi-post recap of what went on every stage of the trip, this sole post will have to suffice.

Carrying on with my self-imposed backing-away from non-stop blogging (hello dash-happy sentence), I decided to reclaim my vacation time as well, which meant less documenting every minute and instead living in each moment. I left the real camera at home and did just fine with the iPhone to convey brief glimpses of our time there


These pics tell a vague story, hinting at the fun and enjoyment we experienced, while allowing you to conjure your own fall trip connotations. This is one of my favorite times of the year to be in Maine. Spring carries its excitement and the promise of a summer to come, but there’s something more moving and beautiful about the fall, when we are ready to put everything to bed for the winter slumber. The prettiness of the pumpkins and the colorful cacophony of the chrysanthemums are not long for this world, so we value them a little more. We pause instead of rushing by. We know what winter may bring. 



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Hunk of the Day: Brett Edward Stout

Sometimes the best encapsulation of a person is found in their Twitter bio. Short, succinct, and to the point, it tells you the basics of whether someone will make a decent Hunk of the Day. Brett Edward Stout’s bio follows that model: Personal trainer, Writer, Iowan, New Yorker, Vegetarian, Marine and Social Media Manager. What it fails to mention are the superficial items that also make up a proper Hunk of the Day: beauty, intelligence, brawn and brains. Mr. Stout has it all, and in his debut as Hunk of the Day he gets to shine.

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