Wednesday, January 8, 2014

NYC YA! One Week To Go Before A Spanking New Chapter...

At last... It was back in September when I traveled to Hampton Roads to sniff out whether the metropolis in Virginia was fitting for my next chapter in life. I had no inkling that after looking at more than a dozen homes I had saved online on, that I would visit that one 1962 Mid-Century Modern property in
Norfolk, Va., walk in and say, "I wanna die here!"

And then the whirlwind began. I placed my Brooklyn Heights apartment on the market in mid-September—fully renovated after 13 years—and garnered my first offer before my first official Open House.

Ultimately, four offers were considered, and it was the second that captivated me: A couple already based in the neighborhood, due with their first child, along with a letter explaining how they loved the nabe and my apartment. Don't think for a second that the emotional plea doesn't matter. Mind you, they also had the best offer and solid financials. I'm no dummy, you know?

It's been a loooooong road from there to here, with an aggressive bidding back and forth on the property in Norfolk (I did just fine) and more bureaucratic hoopla in the months since than I ever imagined possible. Believe me, New York's novel "coop" mandate has more by-the-book rules than any Catholic school.

Now, at last, I am a week from my (long) awaited transition. I'm still working through so many details... finances from here to there, turning off utilities here, turning on utilities there, making sure I have Internet there, bank hoo-ha, checks, title mess, fees, attorneys, scheduling... Honestly, I watch these house flipping shows on HGTV and I wonder... How the hell? One transition over the past 20 years is just about a full-time occupation.

Thursday night I am offering all of my beloved New York City connections over the past 18 years to come together for one last toast. Chuck's NYC YA! is taking place tomorrow... and I have a feeling I'm going to be crying a bit. Cause that's what I do. Leaving the life I have loved for almost 20 years is really hard. But on the other side... so many new possibilities. Taking chances and starting anew is what the adventure of LIFE is supposed to be. I can't wait. *

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

NYC Arctic Blast: Coldest Day Since 1896

Oh, come on! One of the primary reasons I'm ready to dodge New York City is because I loathe the winters here... Not only are they tenacious (Spring? What's that?), but it's no fun to battle the cold when all one
can do is walk, take public transportation, walk... and feel the blast of consistently vulgar cold, snow and ice, with no escape. (See photo taken UNDERGROUND at an NYC subway station Tuesday.)

But Tuesday was ultimately ridiculous. Much of the entire nation was gripped by this wicked bitch of a blast—and in NYC, we broke a 118-year record amid the so-called "polar vortex." Temps reached 4 degrees, which was 2 degrees COLDER than this day in 1896.

Wind chills, meanwhile, hit minus 17 degrees. I believe it, considering that my teeth felt like they were going to fossilize into dust and my ears would snap off with another breeze along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Good god, get me the hell out of here... *

Monday, January 6, 2014

Deep Freeze: Temps To Drop 40+ Degrees Over 24 Hours!

This Monday morning it's raining lightly with a pleasant, unseasonably warm 51 degrees at 8 a.m. In 24 hours, the world is going into a deep freeze, as temps drop an astonishing 42 degrees, to 9. Mind you, add in a brisk lil' breeze and we've got a "Wind Chill" of -11. What the hell?

The bitter cold comes out of the Midwest, before spreading south and east. Already, Monday morning, wind chills in the minus 40s and minus 50s are sending much of Minnesota and North Dakota into a deep freeze. is kind enough to note that at wind chills of 50 below zero, any exposed skin can suffer frostbite in as little as 5 minutes.

Daily record lows are possible Monday in at least two dozen major cities from Texas to the Midwest, including Minneapolis/St. Paul, Kansas City, and Austin, Texas.

Looks like I better get the doggies walked stat! Ain't nobody gonna be happy walking around windy Brooklyn Heights 12 hours from now. By 8 p.m. Monday, the wind chill in NYC will reach 19 degrees. Oh, happy day. *

UPDATE: This weather event has become such a nationwide phenom that they've given it a name: Polar Vortex. Coolio, man!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Taylor Top 50 For 2013!

Hey, hey, hey, Cool Cats... It's time for the annual Taylor Top 50 for 2013. I've been compiling my own year-end countdown since 1981, when Sheena Easton helmed the initial chart with "Morning Train." More than 30 years? How is that possible? *
 1. Stars—Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
 2. Loved Me Back to Life—Celine Dion
 3. Get Lucky—Daft Punk f/Pharrell Williams
 4. Just Give Me A Reason—Pink f/Nate Ruess
 5. Shadow—Brittnee Belt
 6. Loveblind—Junior Turner f/Jess Wood
 7. I'm Never Too Far Away—Jon Secada
 8. Water And A Flame—Celine Dion
 9. Water & A Flame—Daniel Merriweather & Adele
10. Heart Attack—Demi Lovato
11. Stay—Rihanna f/Mikky Ekko
12. Better Day—Junior Turner f/Jess Wood
13. Hurt You—Toni Braxton & Babyface
14. Wrecking Ball—Miley Cyrus
15. Love Is A Confession—Tom TC
16. Troublemaker—Olly Murs
17. Wish You Were Here (The Leo Song)—Sefi
18. Say Something—A Great Big World f/Christina Aguilera
19. Between The Raindrops—Lifehouse f/Natasha Bedingfield
20. Being Me —The Strange Familiar
21. I Knew Your Were Trouble—Taylor Swift
22. My All—Anthony Callea
23. Picking Up The Pieces—Paloma Faith
24. Come and Get It—Selena Gomez
25. Human—Christina Perri
26. Wanted—Hunter Hayes
27. Broken Man—Peter Wilson
28. Echo (You and I)—Anggun
29. The Boy Can Dance—Afro-Dite
30. When I Was Your Man—Bruno Mars
31. It's a Beautiful Day—Michael BublĂ©
32. Army Of Two—Olly Murs
33. Army Of Me—Christina Aguilera
34. People Like Us—Kelly Clarkson
35. When You Really Loved Someone—Agnetha Fältskog
36. Treasure—Bruno Mars
37. Beautiful—Mariah Carey f/Miguel
38. Home—Phillip Phillips
39. If I Never See Your Face Again—Maroon 5 & Rihanna
40. Love Can Move Mountains (Live “The Voice”)—Celine Dion & Tessanne Chin
41. Different—Robbie Williams
42. Roar—Katy Perry
43. You Set Fire To My Life—Tina Arena
44. Summer Romance—Ren Harvieu
45. How Do You Keep the Music Playing—Celine Dion
46. Goin' to L.A.—Pietro Lombardi
47. E Ti Prometerro—Josh Groban & Laura Pausini
48. Beautiful—Carly Rae Jepsen & Justin Bieber
49. Let Me Go—Avril Lavigne & Chad Kroeger
50. Open Up Your Arms—Ren Harvieu

And the No. 1 Album of 2013... (Duh!)... "Loved Me Back To Life," Celine Dion

The Taylor Top 40 No. 1 Song Of 2013

Revealed... Despite waiting six years for the new English-language album from Celine Dion, the No. 1 song of 2013 on the long-running Taylor Top 40 (since 1981, cool cats) is... Grace Potter & The Nocturnals' stirring ballad "Stars."

I first heard the song while watching videos on Fuse network, and amid so much crap within the playlist (Justin Timberlake with a great song ruined by a dissonant rap from Jay-Z, for instance), this song made me sit very (very) still... as lead Grace hits that crazy beautiful high note over and again. And the song builds to a crescendo that continues to leave me breathless.

Considering that I first heard this hit in the early part of 2013 and it has maintained it potency throughout the year gives me all the more confidence in loving this as my top track of the year gone by.  Stand by for the FULL Taylor Top 40 for 2013. *

Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year's Resolution 2014: Stop Dropping The F-Bomb!

After accidentally letting the F-bomb drop while talking to my mama on Thanksgiving Day (she did not care for it), I have resolved that it's time to clean up my damn mouth. And so: Working to stop using "F*CKING" as a casual adjective. Fortunately, there are still plenty of filthy descriptors at my disposal. I mean, I'm no (smoking) nun, after all.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bloomberg's Brilliant Bike-Share Program Forgot One Thing... Winter

FORMER (hurrah!) New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's pervasive attempt to supplant NYC as a pedestrian-friendly urban city into a biker's paradise with his May 2013 Citibank-sponsored Citi-Bike Share program got a bit of a reality check with the 10-inch dump of snow Friday morning.

It appears that Nanny Bloomberg forgot that for six months of the year, it's WINTER in the city, as some 10,000 bikes sit in their holsters, lining hundreds of New York City Streets, ready to turn to rust. Oops... dummy.

The Villager reported that amid this week's wintry blanket, "While the plug wasn’t pulled on the system, for all intents and purposes, it was out of commission, with conditions unfit for riding." You think?

It appears that Bloomberg has retreated from public office just in time for successor Bill de Blasio to have to figure out what the hell to do with THOUSANDS of metal bikes sitting on public streets that are covered in snow, slush and ice, ready to rust. Here's one more Bloomie effort whose backdrop is spelled like this: I-D-I-O-C-Y.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tech... And That's The Way It Is...

The inaugural New Yorker magazine cover for 2014 reveals how society has become so entrenched in technology that it is no longer able to live in the moment. Artist Chris Ware explains his inspiration on the mag's webbie—which follows a similar Halloween cover from 2009 (right).

Ware writes, ever so wisely, "Sometimes, I’ve noticed with horror that the memories I have of things like my daughter’s birthday parties or the trips we’ve taken together are actually memories of the photographs I took, not of the events themselves, and together, the two somehow become ever more worn and overwrought, like lines gone over too many times in a drawing.

"The more we give over of ourselves to these devices, the less of our own minds it appears we exercise, and worse, perhaps even concomitantly, the more we coddle and covet the devices themselves."

Damn, so true. I'm no martyr here. Often, an event I partake in comes off as only as worthy as the photograph that might come out of it. Good time? Oh, yeah! No photo? Compromised. Perfect example is when I had the pleasure of seeing Celine Dion in NYC last November. I indulged every second of her performance, but remained focused throughout... wondering... Will I see Celine, get another Starfucker photo, update my wall o'Celine... And so it is. And we (all?) are. *

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year From The Smoking Nun!

Good to be back, cool cats, after more than a year of taking a blog breather! Ah, The Smoking Nun reinvigorated... That feels might nice. You know, I think I sabotaged myself by insisting on posting every damn day, whether or not I had anything meaningful to share, which led to this destination veering off course. No more... I'm here when I got something to talk about. And I hope you'll join me, yes?

Please stand by for consistent pop culture musings in 2014, along with week-by-week NEWS about my brand new life chapter in Hampton Roads, Virginia, come mid-January (including step-by-step renovations fab fun!) *