Saturday, December 31, 2011


Happy New Year to all The Smoking Nun cool cats. I so appreciate your presence throughout 2011... ups, downs, soapbox rants, pop culture commentary, music, Celine Dion & Sheena Easton, a sprinkling of hot guys and so much more... 3,127 posts since we began the Nun in June 2008. *

Friday, December 30, 2011

Trix & Jack Descend Upon NYC To Usher In A Happy 2012

Trix and I have a long history together, all the way back to college days at James Madison University in Virginia. Among the classes we shared was "Voice and Diction," where we were instructed in learning "standard American English." (Actually, I give credit to the class for excising the remains of my southern accent, as I practiced week after week, "Eat each green pea" and did learn to speak like a proud Yankee.)

After two years of prodding and pleading, I at last convinced Trix to bring her cool 16-year-old son Jack to the big city from Lynchburg, Va., just in time to celebrate New Year's 2012. They arrived Wednesday afternoon and I met them at Penn Station. After visiting my apartment building rooftop in the eve and hitting downtown Brooklyn's hopping new Shake Shack, on Thursday morning we hit the streets with gusto... 

Ready? From Brooklyn Heights, we walked along the Promenade to Brooklyn Bridge Park to Jane's Carousel to Fulton Landing through DUMBO, then across the Brooklyn Bridge on foot, through Tribeca, stopped at the Square Diner for lunch (Jack was hungry for an experience like he had seen on Seinfeld), shopped along Chinatown's Canal Street, worked our way all the way up lower Broadway with dozens of shopping stops, including NYC's new trend of streetside cupcakes, to Astor Place, then down St. Marks Place and onto the R subway back home... Mercy!

That was a long day's journey into night... Friday, I'm accompanying Trix & Jack on an all-day bus tour of the city to review all the sites, with camera in hand, including the top of the Empire State Building.  This year is going to end on a high note, after all. Sweet bliss, it is!Below, a trend Trix and Jack told me about called "planking," where you pose flat as a board on various city surfaces. Trix demonstrated, as did a squirrel in City Hall Park. *

The Smoking Nun's Sexiest Man Alive 2011: Joe Manganiello

Joseph Michael "Joe" Manganiello may be best known for his role as werewolf Alcide Herveaux on HBO's True Blood, but now the American actor has a new accolade: The Smoking Nun's Sexiest Man Alive for 2011. And a very happy birthday, Joe, who turned 35 this week, on Wednesday, December 28.

And who did Smoking Nun readers vote for? Jed Hill was the surprise favorite, followed by the Nun's 2010 victor Rodiney Santiago, and in third place, Manganiello.

Joe wins this auspicious trophy thanks to his penetrating chestnut eyes, hair that drapes just so over his chiseled face (and looks as good short) and a set of abs that he is gracious enough to share regularly with the world. That's real generosity in The Smoking Nun's playbook.

And he ain't just dripping hot sexy, either. The 6-foot-5-inch Pittsburgh native, who was the captain of his football, basketball, and volleyball teams in high school, is a classically trained actor with a BFA from Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama. Among his breakout roles: Flash Thompson in the Spider Man film franchise and recurring parts on ER, How I Met Your Mother and One Tree Hill.

For his work on True Blood, Manganiello received 2011 Scream Awards for Male Breakout Performance and a shared Best Ensemble trophy; a Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role in TV; and a New Now Next Award.

Of course, in 2012, he will play Big Dick Mike in the much anticipated Steven Soderbergh-directed Magic Mike, as well as the upcoming flick What to Expect When You're Expecting.

In 2010 Manganiello was named one of People mag's sexiest men alive, was ranked No. 1 on Men's Health's best Summer Bodies of 2011, "one of the World's 25 Fittest Guys" by Men's Fitness, and the winner of Us Weekly's 2011 "Sharp Dressed Man" Award. He was also named the summer of 2011's Hottest Male Supernatural Being by Entertainment Weekly.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

'Dear Genevieve' Encores TODAY At 3:30p On HGTV

Our Dear Genevieve bedroom makeover encores (again) today, Thursday, December 29, at 3:30 p.m. East Coast time on HGTV. No, I won't be watching for a 700th time, thanks for asking.Addendum: Actually, I did watch the show again with visiting Trix & Jack... Except for the ghastly moment where I scream upon seeing the chandelier, it was actually rather amusing...

2011: The Year In Photos, Volume III | The Top 10

Throughout 2011, I was able to capture the sites and scenes of every step I took with my Nikon D5000 SLR, which I purchased in December 2010. Obviously, it made a hell of a difference over my sweet lil' Nikon Coolpix. Add in the digital editing capabilities of several software programs and it was one sweet labor of love to record 2011 in photographs. And now... my top 10 photos of the year!
No. 1: "A Gift From God," Brooklyn Heights, N.Y. When Donna Mae Moose, Leo and meese headed to the rooftop of my Brooklyn Heights apartment building at dusk in early November, we witnessed a sunset that grew more dramatic by the moment. It was unlike any I have ever seen. We were stunned. No editing of this pic whatsoever.

No. 2, "I Was Raised On Country Sunshine," Lynchburg, Va. While visiting my folks over Thanksgiving, I rushed down a street behind their house to capture this barn atop a hill just as the sun was peaking in the sky. Obviously, the colors are enhanced and the landscape softened, so that it looks almost like a painting... but it's as real as could be.

No. 3, "Momo Cafe," NYC's West Village. While I was having a bev with pal Pook at retro gay haunt Julius in November, I stood at the corner and saw this lovely scene.  Everything about the moment was quaint, and showed a rare slow, sweet moment in the concrete jungle.No. 4: "Umbrella, Ella, Ella," Fire Island, N.Y. A simple shot, manipulated into an oil painting, showing the contrast of the colorful sky & trees against a festive umbrella. This says summer to me.

No. 5: "Money Shot," NYC. A glorious sunset along Manhattan's Wall Street, jazzed up a bit to show the dusky oranges of the eve.

No. 6: "A Matter Of Life And Death," Trinity Church, NYC. The simplicity of a child running with joyous abandon amid the graves of those buried for hundreds of years at Trinity Church in the Wall Street District.

No. 7: "Long Day's Journey Into Night," Fire Island, N.Y. This dude was simply soaking in the sunset on the dock of Fire Island's Cherry Grove. I minimized all of the color, except just around the sun.

No. 8: "One In A Million You," Brooklyn Heights, N.Y." My 10-year relationship had just ended in September and I was looking for a way to capture the notion that my sadness lay in contrast to what felt like a happy world around me. Red represented my sense of anger and betrayal. Many ways one might interpret this, but that's what it meant to me that day.

No. 9: "Cutie Cupies," Cold Spring, N.Y. During a summertime daytrip with Leo to Nyack and Cold Spring, N.Y., I took delight in the thrift and antique stores along the way. In an earlier post, we saw troll dolls... This, I think, trumps those critters.

No. 10: "Gateway to Serenity," Lynchburg, Va. Donna Mae Moose took me to the Civil War Cemetery while in Virginia this summer. This renowned stone arch was whipped into an oil image. Very handsome, I say.

BONUS: "Ocean Drive," Fire Island, N.Y. The giant doggie seems as chilled out as his masters walking leisurely behind. Sweet, calming, dear. *

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sheena Easton: 1981 And 2011 | The Years Have Been Kind!

One of my fellow geeks posted this pic of Sheena Easton performing in Japan earlier this month. Compared to 21, she looks absolutely divine at 51. *

iPhone Update: Still Getting To Know My Gizmo, But It's True Love

When my very first iPhone arrived around December 8, it took me a couple days to activate "Snickey," knowing that once he was reality, there was no turning back to my previous dim-witted smartphone. Of course, it's not like anyone actually reads an instructions manual, but since the 4S doesn't come with one, it's all left pretty much to intuition. I felt trepidation...

And boy, has it been a stop-and-start process, with some real dumbass gaffes along the way. But sure enough, day by day, app by app, Snickey and I are falling in love. There's no doubt—as any iPhone owner knows—it's a match made in tech heaven... but the learning curve is a little more testy than I anticipated.

For example, it took three days to figure out where the hell my voicemail could be accessed. On another occasion, I took my digital voice recorder to conduct a face-to-face interview with pal Tinatin... and she gave me a "poor little darling" look, as she showed me the kickass Voice Memo app that comes standard on an iPhone...

Or the time I took my point-and-shoot digital camera to an event and was asked why I wasn't utilizing the iPhone camera instead. The response: Uh, duh, I forgot.

But bit by bit, just like all of us, the iPhone is so thankfully ubiquitous that everyone I know trades fave apps and tips. Friend Dennis informed me that two clicks of the main menu button shows what apps are open: If you don't close them from time to time, they all remain open, draining battery life. Even Tinatin didn't know about that one.

And of course, the 4S' Siri is straight from The Jetsons, capable of sending texts by simply saying them aloud (though, irritatingly, sans punctuation), while she's helped me find any number of destinations... with limitations. Last week, I attempted time and again to ask Siri where I could locate the nearest U.S. Post Office in the city: She simply could not figure out "U.S Post Office, USPS, post office" or "nearest postal office." Then again, someone asked me, "Why didn't you just say, 'Where can I mail a letter?'" Whoops.

Tonight, I truly realized the miraculous possibilities of this space-age gizmo in my hand, when I was able to deposit a check to Chase Bank by simply accessing the Chase app, following simple directions to take pics of the front & back of the check and verify my account number. ATMs used to be pretty damn cool; now, who needs them anymore?

Three weeks in, I have some 40 apps, including:
* Shazam: recognizes songs heard in public simply by syncing app. Beloved and effective.
* HopStop, NYC Subway: great apps for figuring out how to get where you're going sans drama.
*, unbelievable flexibility for scanning checks, checking balances, transferring funds, while is the ultimate budgeting tool, aligning all accounts and credit cards in one place.
* Dragon Dictation: Talk and it converts to words. No more annoying transcribing.
* IdolsNow: My pal Fred Bronson's app that offers all goings on with top American Idol finalists. Absolutely consummate among fans.
* Vonage Extensions: As a Vonage subscriber, allows me to make international calls free from my iPhone. Rockin'!
* AroundMe: Intuitively searches out popular destinations based on your whereabouts.
* Carbonite: My Mac laptop is backed up virtually via Carbonite. I can access every iota of hard drive content  on my iPhone via its app.
* Dropbox: Increasingly popular way to share info, photos, documents with other users (and yourself), instead of emailing or YouSendIt.
*Boost Magic: Battery running low? Plug in and this provides a quick jolt without having to wait for a full charge.
* Flashlight: Genius little app that lights up everything around you. Perfect when you're walking through a dark alley or drop a quarter under the table.
* Clock Free: A fabulous alarm clock app that wakes you with either a gentle tone or your choice of hundreds of internet radio stations. Absolutely wonderful... and free.

And I have a feeling this is just the beginning... iYee-iHaw! *