songbird's crazy world Long Island restaurants NaBloPoMo May 2015

songbird's crazy world

life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, April 27, 2015

Another this and that

Lately I seem to have a knack for "closing" restaurants.  I reviewed Mara's Too, and it closed.  I reviewed Chow Down Diner.  And it closed.  I reviewed the Carnegie Deli.  And they got caught stealing gas from Con Ed, and they're closed "indefinitely ".  Maybe I should stay out of restaurants for awhile.

My term as a trustee of the synagogue expires in June, and I told the nominating committee that I am not interested in another term.  I've been on the Board since 2006, it's time to make way for someone else.  Besides, the time commitment...

I was tired of running around, doing what a trustee is expected to do....

So why did I move on to another project?   (Drew thinks I'm crazy to take this one on, by the way.)  There was an incident in our community a few weeks ago, some high school students posted photos of themselves wearing t-shirts emblazoned with swastikas and the word "Auschwitz".  Very disturbing.  The Rabbi at the Chabad wants to form a task force to address our concerns vis a vis the public schools.  Guess who joined the task force?  Not only that, I volunteered to take the minutes.

Jen has gotten more serious about job and career lately.  She's working on some professional development courses, and she's asking Drew for advice and help.  It' s good to see them working together.  I wish Becca would come around, she and Drew are still at odds.  Maybe for Mother's Day?

Drew is dealing with a lot right now.  His job, his health concerns, Marc. And now that he's handling Marvin's affairs, he's the one they call when Marvin has a health issue...

Drew didn't really want to do this, he kind of got pulled in because he wants what's best for Marvin. but Shelley doesn't see it that way.  She told Uncle Les "I may never speak to my brother again."  Sad, isn't it?

So I re-joined Weight Watchers, this time as an on line subscriber.  I'm having moderate success, it's hard getting back into the program.  The Fitbit is helping a lot, it makes me more accountable, I can't "fudge" exercise.

So I felt really cheated that day I ordered lunch from Panera.  I had enough points to be able to indulge in soup, salad and some of their yummy French bread.  But when I got back to my office, there was no bread in the bag!

It was a good night at T.G.I. Friday's, though.  Had a couple of gift cards that were burning a hole in my pocket, and those warm pretzels with beer cheese dip were calling my name. (Thank goodness for Weekly Points on Weight Watchers).

While we were sitting there, Drew noticed this poster.  How many errors can you spot?

 photo 20150425_202846.jpg

Sunday, April 26, 2015


What do the following buildings all have in common?

Radio City Music Hall, NYC
United States Embassy, New Delhi, India
World Trade Center of New Orleans, Louisiana
State University of New York at Albany
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC
Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
Florida State Capitol, Tallahassee

They were all designed by the noted architect Edward Durell Stone.

Why is this of interest to me?

Well, aside from recent visits to MoMA and Radio City, I am a SUNY Albany alum, graduated from that fine institution in May 1981.  I first heard Stone's name in the fall of 1978, when the ASP (the Albany Student Press) ran his obituary.

The campus architecture was one of the reasons I chose Albany instead of another school in the SUNY system. Modern, almost futuristic, inspiring.

To quote Wikipedia:

Designed in 1961-1962 by noted American architect Edward Durell Stone and constructed from 1963-1964, the campus bears Stone's signature style of bold unified design, expressed by its towers, domes, fountains, soaring colonnades and sweeping canopy.

The campus exemplifies the style Stone used in his major projects between 1953 and 1970, including the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India; the Hotel Phoenicia in Beirut, Lebanon; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.; 2 Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York; and the Aon Center, originally the Standard Oil Building, in Chicago. The campus was a filming location for the 1981 movie Rollover with Kris Kristofferson and Jane Fonda because of the resemblance to modern Middle Eastern architecture.

At the hub of the Uptown Campus is the rectangular "Academic Podium," featuring 13 three-story buildings under a single overhanging canopy roof. The Podium's showpiece is a central pool with fountains and an off-center circular bell tower, or "Carillon", which also serves as a water storage reservoir.

The domed Main Library, the Performing Arts Center, and Campus Center face the pool from the west, east and south, respectively. To the north is a grand entrance, which welcomes visitors by way of a "great lawn" (Collins Circle) and the University's Entry Plaza. Four residential quadrangles are located adjacent to the four corners of the academic podium. Each quad consists of a 23-story high-rise dormitory surrounded by a square of low-rise buildings.,_SUNY#Notable_alumni_and_faculty

And yes, I was there when the movie was filmed. Spring 1981. They also filmed in downtown Albany, at the State Legislative Office Building. 

To give you an idea of the magnificence of the architecture, here are a few photos of the campus:

"Uptown Campus" by UAlbany - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.  

"University at Albany Fountain - Project Renderings" by UAlbany - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

"UAlbany Podium" by UAlbany - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

That fountain, by the way, is about knee-deep.  Since the fountain is in the middle of the academic podium, in nice weather the students hang out at the fountain between classes, and often wade in the water.

But that column and canopy system...Stone designed it to protect students from rain or snow when they walked from one academic building to the other.  What happened, however, was that the column structure became a wind tunnel -- great during a hot, humid summer day, but not good in the harsh Albany winter.  And the stark white walls can seem gray and depressing in January. 

Urban legend, clearly untrue but firmly believed by almost every SUNY Albany student, was that Stone designed the campus for a warmer climate, like Arizona or South Carolina.  When Stone died, the joke was "He went to Hell, because he always did design for a warmer climate."

Want to learn more about SUNY Albany's architecture?  Read about it here. There's a great video, and you can see many more photos here.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


It was the weekend, and Becca was driving home from the gym. She was still wearing workout clothes, no makeup, hair in a ponytail.

A police officer pulled her over, asked for her driver's license. He looked at the license and asked if it was hers, quizzed her on her age and home address.

She's annoyed that the officer thought she was too young to drive, "I'm almost 23!"

If someone thought I looked 5 years younger than I really am, I'd be flattered.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, April 24, 2015

Product review -- Hawaiin Punch Water enhancer

Found this in a recent supermarket run.  I really need to drink more water and less diet soda, so I decided to give it a try.

The product is very easy to use.  It's a liquid.  You squeeze the container and add as much, or as little, of the product to your water as you like.  The container is very small and portable, and does not require refrigeration.  In this regard, it compares favorably to powders, which are premeasured for a 16 oz water bottle.

More important, though, is the taste.

I poured a glass of water, added a squirt of Hawaiian Punch berry blue, tasted my water, added another small squeeze ...

... And was transported back to childhood.  Yes, my water tasted exactly like Hawaiian Punch.

Mission accomplished.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

genetic testing

It's been in the news again recently, when Angelina Jolie wrote about her most recent surgery to prevent cancer.

Normally I am very, very proud of my Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.  But it does come with certain genetic risk factors.  And my doctor was concerned enough to send me over to the hospital to speak with a counselor.

The test itself is simple.  You swish some  mouthwash and spit into a tube.  The tube is sent to the lab, where your DNA is extracted from the mouthwash and analyzed.

The more difficult part is making the decision to be tested, and what do you do with the results.

I'm the "knowledge is power" type.  If you tell me that my family history and medical history are indications that I should be tested, I'm there.  Even if the news is bad, I want that information.  So yes, I spit into that tube.

What I'll do with that information, though...that's not so easy. 

I've been to hell and back, and I don't want to go there again.  But what am I willing to do to keep myself healthy and sane?

And how much information should I share?  And with whom?

Radio City and Chinatown

What a difference ten days can make!

When we came into the city on April 8, it felt like February. Cold and wet and windy.

On April 18, you would have sworn it was June. Daytime high of 77. We both brought jackets, thinking it would be chillier at night. Never needed them.

A lovely walk from Penn Station to Rockefeller Center. We stopped at Bryant Park for hot dogs -- mine with ketchup and onions, Drew's with mustard and sauerkraut.

We arrived at Radio City Music Hall way too early, so I ran into Duane Reade for a couple of bottles of water.

Radio City Music Hall, the Art Deco palace with seating for 6,000, designed by Edward Durell Stone, home of the famed Rockettes. In the glory days, you could come here for a movie and a stage show. These days, it's mostly concerts and stage shows, including the Christmas Spectacular, which we loved.

This year, the Rockettes did a spring show. Actually it was planned for 2014, but cancelled at the last minute because management felt it needed to be revised and improved. We had tickets for the cancelled show and were very disappointed. Bought tickets as soon as the current show was announced, long before we knew Derek Hough and Laura Benanti would be starring in it.

Our seats were in the first mezzanine, front row center. We chose that location because you can see the dancers' formations, the patterns of the choreography. It's also an interesting vantage point for watching the orchestra seats, and all the cell phones in use before the performance began.

The show? It uses the same formula as the Christmas show, a thin plot that links each song and dance together. The story involves a NYC tour guide named Bernie, a business woman named Jenna (Benanti) who wants to replace Bernie with a virtual reality tour, and an angel named Jack (Hough) whose mission is to save Bernie's job. So of course we get a tour of the city -- Grand Central Station, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Broadway/Times Square, Fashion Week, the sports world of Madison Square Garden/ MetLife Stadium/Yankee Stadium, the Empire State Building, the New York Public Library, and (of course) Radio City Music Hall.

It's a multimedia tour. There's a full orchestra, singers, dancers, even a couple of aerialists. Special effects on stage: for example, statues (Central Park's Alice in Wonderland, Patience and Fortitude at the Library, The Statue of Liberty) come to life. And lots of film: clips from old movies about NYC, as well as a 3D animated short made for this production, and more than a few celebrity cameos. In addition to our 3D glasses (the old fashioned paper kind!), each of us was given a wrist band, which lit up at various times during the show.

Despite all of this, I thought the show was merely "ok". It was interesting to see the Rockettes dancing with hockey sticks and basketballs. But their best numbers were more traditional dances -- "Singin' in the Rain" (in yellow raincoats, boots and striped umbrellas) and "New York, New York" (top hats and tails, of course).

Afterwards we took the subway to Canal Street -- Chinatown. Our favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, Wo Hop, at 17 Mott Street. There was a line to get in, of course -- an interesting mix of tourists and locals who've been coming to this restaurant for decades. Alas, this time around, the couple who were on line ahead of us were seated at "our" table. We shared an order of steamed dumplings. Drew had his usual -- wonton egg drop soup and 4D lo mein. I had hot and sour soup and chicken in garlic sauce -- broke my own rule about sticking to the Cantonese dishes, but I was very pleased with my order. As always, we brought home lots of leftovers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day

"Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet."   -- Carl Sagan

Once again, it's Earth Day.  A time to be aware of our environment.  To treasure and protect our natural resources. 

On Earth Day, a plea for support of one of my favorite charities, The Jewish National Fund.

They're the folks who plant trees in Israel.

But they do so much more:  community building, water renewal, aid to individuals with special needs...

They're "doing something". 


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