Two years ago, I bought Stephen an Amazon ‘Echo’ for his birthday.

If you aren’t familiar with this device, it’s sort of ‘Siri’-in-a-can.

Constructed with two stacked speakers in a [tasteful] 10-inch tall perforated black metal cylinder, you communicate via Wi-Fi to its database by intoning ‘Alexa’ to wake it up and then asking a question, or making a request.

‘Play such-and-so’.  (The sound quality is pretty remarkable.)

The plan was for it to sit unobtrusively on Stephen’s little cobbler’s bench at his store while he fabricates baubles and bijoux, as it can be linked via Bluetooth to an iPhone’s or iPad’s music library, or it can access Amazon’s music library.

But let’s be honest, visions of ‘Robby the Robot’ in ‘Forbidden Planet’ were dancing through my head, and there was plenty of time to get another gift should Stephen give me that ‘Bought this for me?’ look.

Surprise, Stephen was also intrigued, but nixed taking it to work, so we put it on the mantle in the room where we end up most of the time.

Here’s the reality: ‘Alexa’, even two years out, is still a pretty dumb bunny.

Siri on your iPhone can be pretty clueless sometimes, but Alexa’s fairly frequent answer is:

‘Sorry, I didn’t understand the question as asked’.

(I confess that I like the construction of that sentence, so I give her that.)


Before Christmas our electric utility company offered a deep discount on the ‘Nest’ brand ‘learning thermostat’, and now smitten with A.I. (minor disappointments notwithstanding), I couldn’t resist.

Here the idea is that over time, the device will learn your temperature habits, and eventually take over adjusting the heating and cooling of the house.  You can also adjust settings from a mobile phone; I haven’t tried that yet.

In addition, it turned up that you can link the ‘Nest’ and ‘Echo’ devices.

On several occasions, however, after attempting to simplify word choice and syntax for ‘Alexa’ and still getting ‘I didn’t understand’, I have said (and worse) ‘Alexa, you’re pretty stupid, aren’t you’.

The last time, her reply was: ‘I do the best I can’.  (I’m not making this up.)

I felt really bad (I’m not making this up) and apologized (I’m not making this up).

Now, while unpleasantness with ‘Alexa’ has been limited to these few unfortunate exchanges, no way am I turning over the HVAC to her.

‘Alexa, turn the heat down, please!’

‘I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that…’

First of all, I want to make it clear that though I am not asking for an apology, during the two weeks since I last posted, the energy of the handful of bloggers I follow has exhausted me.  Their entries were thoughtful, interesting, and well-composed, which frankly ticks me off.  Actually, I do want an apology.


On New Year’s Day, Turner Classic Movies ran a mini-marathon of Alfred Hitchcock films.  Though it would be inaccurate to say we watched them all, they were playing quietly on the small screen here in our house the whole day.

Having seen all but one of them multiple times, it was easy to pause in the course of the day and watch a bit, then move on.

The ‘program’ began, reasonably enough, with the last movie Hitchcock directed, ‘Family Plot’, a movie so irredeemably bad on every level that the credits ran in roll-fashion at the conclusion, like an episode of a TV show. (When you recall the stellar graphics of the credits at the beginning of ‘Vertigo’, ‘North by Northwest’, ‘Psycho’, and ‘The Birds’, I think that observation gets some traction.)

In a long ago conversation with filmmaker James Herbert (a very intense gentleman) on the subject of Hitchcock’s ‘Marnie’, he said he believed the ‘big reveal’ in that picture was so subliminally effective because it was intentionally shot badly lit and grainy to mimic a porno film.

It occurred to me watching it last week that this would have no resonance with modern audiences.  Alas, the punishment the passage of time inflicts on [alleged] intention: now that sequence just looks grainy and badly lit.

Speaking of ‘big reveals’, in spite of the fact that I (along with everybody else?) knew pretty immediately (even at thirteen years-old) watching ‘Psycho’ the first time, that Norman Bates and Mother were one and the same, I’m still astounded at what a perfectly nifty Japanese puzzle box the movie is.  The craftsmanship of every single element is, well… gratifying.  (No, really.)

(Juxtaposition trivia: The movie ‘Tall Story’, starring Anthony Perkins and Jane Fonda in her first movie role, was released the same year as ‘Psycho’, 1960.  Directed by Joshua Logan, a frothier little romantic escapade you could not imagine.)

Included here are images of Mr. Perkins and your blogger.  The one of me used to reside on the home screen of one (mine) of an identical pair of flip phones Stephen and I had before we surrendered to smart phones.

Stephen was forever grabbing the first phone (mine) he’d see walking out the door, and the idea was to see my accusing glare when the mistake would be discovered.

So, who’s scarier, Norman or me?


Happy Christmas to all [well, not all ] out there in Blogland!

This year we received a bumper crop of [undeserved] Christmas cards.

A good many were the over-the-top [but appreciated] grand-paper-stock-fabulous-finishes-embossed-to-within-an-inch-of-their-lives sort.

Also, the photo kind [all very nice] exclusively from gracieuses jeunes filles who had previously worked at Stephen’s store, now married with children.

Then came the foxes.

I have included here three [count ‘em] with fox themes.  I have no idea about the origin of this.  I tried to make a Le Petit Prince connection [which explains all this Français in today’s post] but that’s not about Christmas.

So, if you have an idée, let me know.

On the subject of the French language, my facility with it extends [though the word ‘extends’ overstates it right out of the gate] only to what I call ‘Language Lab Leftovers’, those bits which for some reason stuck for no apparent reason long after high school.

‘Allons à la pêche tout de suite’ is at the top of my L.L.L. list.

Translation: ‘Let’s go fishing right away’; sure to be a lifesaver lost in Paris.

fox_in_the_snow001 fox_in_the_snow002 fox_in_the_snow003

Do you know the expression ‘Fuck me!’ ?  (The aggravated frustration one, not the penetration one.)

No?  Yesterday I watched the entire final press conference of President Barack Obama, the grace and intelligence of the man abundant throughout.  Picturing the Nattering Imbecile-elect in this setting, I said ‘Fuck me’, but not very loud.

Please recall that last month I wrote that I was not going to let this blog turn into ‘one of those’, so in accordance, I’m going to use as my model the Melina Mercouri character ‘Ilya’, a prostitute working the port city of Piraeus in the movie ‘Never on Sunday’.

In the course of the movie, we discover that Ilya misinterprets the storylines of the Greek tragedies, or rather mentally rewrites them to all have happy endings.  In the case of ‘Medea’, at the conclusion, “Everybody goes to the beach!”.

Speaking of port cities, in another lifetime, I ran across a photograph of a harbor scene (circa 1880?) with all the massive dockside hardware, industrial cranes and so forth, as the focus.  However, an isolated spot in the picture caught my attention: a tiny figure in a suit and bowler surveying the horizon.

I macro-photograhed him and screen-printed him (without permission) for a card that year: the New Year before us!  Well, that was the idea, anyway.

Now I’m just going to think of him as searching in the distance for the umbrellas and surfboards.


Remember that Tumblr site I set you onto some months ago, Kafka’s Apartment?

Well, Stephen sent me another one this A.M. called nobellnostorm, from which the attached image comes.  (Stephen says my story has been written; oh, I hope so.)

The further you explore the site, the more eclectic the images seem to become, but so far, no naked gentlemen.

What’s the point, you may ask.


I wrote this as a comment on another blog, but then thought, why not fill some space here on Domani Dave?

Stephen and I had Thanksgiving lunch with friends in Atlanta, and since repetition becomes ‘tradition’, this has become a wonderful one.  All attendees were as, or almost as, decrepit as we, with the exception this year of the addition of a young man from India.

Normally, I say this alleged ‘tonic’ of mixing with the younger is a hoax, since the gap of experiences and references just becomes frustrating.  This bright and charming young man, however, seemed genuinely delighted to be there, and interesting conversation was nonstop.

After Stephen and I got home, assessing the day as couples do, we placed this young man in a category we like to call ‘I’d just like to bounce him on my knee’.  Relating this category to someone once, I inadvertently replaced ‘knee’ with ‘lap’.

That’s an entirely different category.

There was this blog called ‘Life is an STD’ that consisted alternately of images of callipygous male bum, and out-of-control diatribe on the subject of the United States.

I used to visit this blog from time to time, not for the bum which all things considered was a little garden-variety, but to be witness to the black hole that was developing.  The blog did eventually implode, and I do wonder if the author wasn’t hauled off to the ‘nervous hospital’.

So that Domani Dave will not develop such a reputation, I have decided to depart the subject of D*n*ld Tr*mp for good.


I haven’t name-dropped in a while, but since my drop-worthy names have become so dated (though I do know Tom Ford’s husband, Richard), I don’t know if they even count anymore.

This morning, we are drinking Fred ‘The B-52s’ Schneider’s ‘Monster Blend’ coffee.  As I quoted last post, ‘A boy has to make his way in the world’, so Fred (who is a friend of ours) licensed his name to this enterprise, which rather like Paul Newman’s line of products, supports worthy causes, in this case, removal of UXO (‘unexploded ordnance’, bombs) in Southeast Asia.


Earlier this month I got new glasses, and when picking new frames, I espied a pair which I could not understand why I recognized.  So strong was my attraction to them over any of the others I was fondling, they essentially picked me, rather than the other way around.

Lo and behold, the eyewear company Oliver Peoples had licensed the Gregory Peck name from his estate to market a tweaked version of the glasses he wore in To Kill a Mockingbird.  The ones I chose are not tortoiseshell, but translucent grey, however I still look rather ‘adversarial’ in them.


With all this in mind, I’ve decided to license my own name for a product, but I have no idea what or which.  I haven’t given it a great deal of thought at this point, but I could use your help.

I don’t think there’s so much as one good reason for any rude suggestions.

I’m going to go ahead and pre-regret this post.

In the years following the Kennedy assassination, when Jacquline Bouvier Kennedy eventually married Aristotle Onassis, I remember reading a piece in nothing so lofty as a serious ‘journal’ of the times, but rather Look magazine.

On the subject of that union the article began:

‘If they fight every day, they will still have the perfect marriage, because through his vast wealth, she got protection for her children, and he got the world’s ultimate bauble.’

Referring to Mrs. Kennedy as a ‘bauble’ stands matchless in the utterances echoing though the corridors of time.

I have no patience with grousing about the ‘sham marriage’ of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  She didn’t bake cookies, and he was serially unfaithful, but the marriage took them where they aspired to be.  That aspiration has now crashed, and as if I have the right, I genuinely ache for Hillary Rodham (Clinton).

The other wife?  The worst thing I’ve read about Melania Trump is that “she’d still be turning tricks in Transylvania if she hadn’t married Donald.”  I think this is uncalled-for, as I nod to the words of Saint Truman (Capote):

“A boy [girl] has to make his [her] way in the world.”

My skin crawls for the price the current Mrs. Trump pays.  A similar revulsion is for me the very idea of this couple moving into Mrs. Kennedy’s and Mrs. Obama’s White House, prissy as that sounds.

The contribution to this tenancy, by those whose ‘lofty ideals’ compelled them to sit out this election?  I’m searching for the word to describe my reaction to them.

As Mark Twain wrote, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”

What good would an intelligent explanation do?

I am going be patient and wait for the Public Broadcasting series ‘Frontline’ to come along during 2017 to spoon-feed this election to me.

Whether or not I have ever had the intellectual wherewithal to fathom any of it is beside the point at this juncture, as the whole thing has so significantly rearranged my psyche.

My friend Will W in New Jersey sent me this picture this morning.  It didn’t help.


Why am I telling you this?

I started blogging in 2009, but September 2015, I ditched the previous posts in a fit of cyber housecleaning. Some of it was really nice writing, but alas as my old friend Susan once said, 'Compulsion is a cruel master'.

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