life in and around NYC is insane

Sunday, August 21, 2011

thinking about a book I read when I was a kid

Nobody Listens to Andrew

When his family and friends finally get around to listening to Andrew, they find he really does have something important to say.
It's out of print now...but it was a great little book.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

remember the story of Cassandra?

She looked at the Trojan horse and knew the Greeks would destroy the city of Troy.  But no one would heed her warnings.

Some days I feel like Cassandra.

Friday, August 19, 2011

if you like horror movies

go see Fright Night.

We saw a neak preview of the movie last night.  Really enjoyed it. 

There was a thunderstorm overhead during the movie, and the power went out briefly in the multiplex.  the crowd took it in stride. 

Drew reminded me that we saw the original Fright Night together way back in 1985.  I had forgotten, but now that he reminded me....I remember that I really enjoyed that version, too.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

mini trip report

So last night we went to see the revival of Sondheim’s Follies. You know how I love live theater!

Our evening began, as it frequently does, in Ellen’s Stardust Diner. We love this place! You go for the atmosphere, not for the food.  This is not a place for quiet conversation..

Ellen’s, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is a salute to the pop culture of the 1950’s, the outside designed to look like an old subway car, and inside  you’ll find old fashioned diner tables, video screens showing scenes from I Love Lucy and real vinyl records and album covers (from artists like Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley) on the walls.  It’s also the home of the singing wait staff, where the person who just took your order is the next person to grab the mike and sing.

The wait staff used to be very 1950’s as well.  The guys would wear red bowling shirts and paper soda jerk hats.  The girls would be in poodle skirts, red t shirts and little scarves tied around their necks.   It was very disconcerting to see two girls in poodle skirts singing the latest Lady Gaga song!

Well, they’ve updated the place a bit.  They took away the toy train that used to circle around the edge of the balcony and they’ve added a few neon accent lights.  The costumes have changed, too.  Everyone’s wearing blue or green bowling shirts, with a panel of silver lame down the front.  The guys are in black pants and the girls are in short, tight black skirts and black tights. 

Well, last night was a bit of an “off” night.  Though I did like the young lady who was wearing a foam Statute of Liberty Crown.  And the trio who sang an Abba medley inspired jokes – Ellen’s is right next to the Winter Garden Theater, where Mama Mia is playing (though I still look for the Cats eyes on the marquis….) Best performance of the evening was the guy who sang “Shout” and did the worm right on the diner floor – Drew and I smiled, remembering how they played that song at our wedding and how Drew got down on the floor …..

After dinner we walked from Ellen’s – on
51st Street
– to the Marriot Marquis Theater at
44th Street
to see the show, and after the show we walked down to Penn Station (
34th Street
) to catch a train home.  I love the sights and sounds of Times Square on a summer evening!  Lots of tourists around now, so the streets were very crowded.  (Folks, it’s called a side WALK not a side-stand-around-and-block-traffic!).  Lots of interesting things to see.  In front of toys R US we saw “Elmo” and “The Cookie Monster” from
Sesame Street
.  A woman dressed as a stewardess circa 1965 was handing out flyers for Catch Me If You Can near Duffy’s Square.  We also saw a guy dressed as Mr. Reeses Peanut Butter Cup – a refugee from Hersheypark.  Two pedal cabs crashed into each other, and the drivers got into an argument – and one tourist whipped out his cell phone to videotape the whole thing.  Sidewalk vendors selling hot dogs and t-shirts and sunglasses, street musicians, hawkers trying to drum up business for tour companies and comedy clubs. 

But the most interesting thing was … the singing Cow Girl.

Now, many people have heard about The Singing Cowboy.  He runs around Times Square in his underwear, a cowboy hat and boots, carrying a guitar and posing for pictures.  I’ve seen him a couple of times; I think I posted a picture in this blog…. Well, anyhow, there are copycats out there.  The cowgirl carries a guitar, wears a cowboy hat and boots, a bikini bottom, and two large, strategically placed stars. 

Only in New York.

So…the show.  Bernadette Peters was brilliant, as always.  Love the Sondheim music, the deep psychological storyline, the beautiful singing and graceful dancing…a perfect evening of theater.

And another view

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another fun evening at Ellen's Stardust

Home of the singing waitstaff!
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Is this me?

Trying to decide if this polish makes me feel pretty ... or pretty foolish.
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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Don't let your life be ruled by fear

My cousin A is the oldest of the first cousins on my father's side. She was born when my dad was just 8 years old. She's now in her 70's. She's got children older than I am, but nevertheless she is my first cousin.

She retired to Florida many years ago. And I have not seen her since.

Shortly after she retired she was told she needed a hip replacement. She refused to have surgery. She was fearful.

So she's been in a wheelchair for years. She's put limits on her ability to move because of fear. Can't come north for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Well fear has ruined her life. She just got a cancer diagnosis. She will have radiation and chemo but can't have surgery. She'd morbidly obese because of inactivity and the surgery would kill her.
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

and so it begins

yesterday Jen went to an open house at one of the colleges she is considering for grad school.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Rituals of Mourning

Last year we lost my mother’s sister. I wrote about it  here.

Jewish ritual requires that a headstone be erected at the grave, and that a ceremony called an “unveiling” take place to observe the occasion. Traditionally the headstone is erected shortly after the funeral, with the unveiling held before the first anniversary of the person’s death.

I haven’t written about the unveiling … because it hasn’t happened yet. For whatever reason, my mother just couldn’t bring herself to order the stone.

It was becoming, as my late grandmother would say, “a shonde for the neighbors”.

(Shonde means “shame” or “embarrassment”, but with a Yiddish inflection it’s more powerful….)

So finally I had to take matters into my own hands. I’m the one who made the phone calls. And on Sunday I drove my mother to (Lord help us) the Lower East Side to visit the showroom and place the order.

This type of transaction is all very new to me, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have had to purchase a grave marker for anyone before. The actual transaction is fairly easy, albeit a bit expensive. But the emotional impact….

Especially when you consider family history. Like many other immigrant Jewish families at the time, my mother’s family belonged to a burial society. So everyone in the family is in the same cemetery. In the same section. With monuments built by the same company. The salesman was able to show me the blueprint for the headstone he made for my grandmother, who died in 1996. And he was able to find out, from his records and a visit to the cemetery, what my grandfather’s name was … my grandfather died in 1943. (He needs my grandfather’s name, because Jewish tradition identifies a person as “first name” son (daughter) of “father’s name” and he needs the name for the headstone.)

So the stone is ordered, and we expect it to be completed in late October or early November.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Three simple letters adding up to one very big test!

Jen will be graduating from college in May, and her plan is to start a Master’s in Education in the fall of 2012. The programs she’s most interested in “strongly suggest” that a candidate take the GRE and include the test results as part of the application for admission.

Well, since Jen has time available now (not having found employment this summer), she decided that she will schedule the test for the last week in August, just before she returns to school.

(I love that she can schedule the test at a testing center anytime she’s ready. So different from taking the SAT exam, which you take at the convenience of the College Board.)

She bought the GRE review book two days ago. She’s serious about the test.

(And she’s getting study prep for the exam from a family friend. Jenn is a high school English teacher who also teaches SAT test prep. Yes, Jen (with one “n”) and Jenn (with two “n’s”) will be working together. “Single ‘n’ Jen” has been tutored by “twin ‘n’ Jenn” for other exams, and they work well together.)

All this test prep is a reminder that Jen will be a senior this year. I’m having trouble dealing with the fact that my baby girl will soon be a college graduate.


Friday, August 5, 2011

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An old friend

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

hot dogs soaked in beer?

yes, they're delish!

I never had one, until we were at Citi Field a few weeks ago. one of the food vendors sells hot dogs steamed in beer, and Drew insisted I try it that way -- he loved a place called Zum Zum's when he was a kid, and they cooked their dogs in beer.

we're going to try do do it ourselves Saturday night.

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