life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Miserables

One of my favorite musicals.  Saw it on Broadway 8 times, thanks to a friend who worked for Cameron MacKintosh and handed out free tickets for mid-week performances.  Have several copies of the cast album at home.  Saw the PBS special several times.  Even saw a friend's daughter perform in a high school production of the show.

I've never seen a non-musical adaptation of the work, and read the book only a few years ago -- got it for free on my nook, I think.

So when I heard they were doing a movie version I was excited and fearful.  Some Broadway musicals have been very well done for the screen, others have been a disaster.

We wet to the 11 AM show on Christmas Day.  Usually the theater is empty at the first showing on Christmas, but so many people wanted to see Les Miz....Well, I wouldn't say "sold out", but it was close.  When we were leaving the theater, the crowd for the next show was incredible.

I loved it.  Yes, really.  It lives up to the hype, it's a great movie.

What I liked -- Anne Hathaway as Fantine.  When she sings "I Dreamed a Dream" ... I was crying.  Hugh Jackman as Jean ValJean -- he doesn't have the pure tone to his voice that Colm Wilkinson  had, but he acted the part as well as singing it.  Speaking of Wilkinson, he makes an excellent Bishop.    The "Master of the House" number is much funnier on film, there are small things the actors can do on film to convey their thoughts that would not have worked on the stage. the scene in the convent, which was in the book but not on stage, where the man Valjean saves returns the favor.

What I didn't like -- the song Valjean sings as he's traveling from the inn with Cosette, written just for the movie.  It was "meh".  Too many close ups of the actors as they sang, took away from the grandeur of the movie.    And the "Little People" song that Gavrouche sings -- the song was cut from the stage production during its revivial, and was not added to the movie.  It's not essential to the plot, but when he sings the reprise after he's shot -- and he does that on stage and in the movie -- it doesn't "link up".

Overall a great movie.

and we wound up at Chen's for dinner -- a fulfillment of the stereotype.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Medieval Times

So, you may have asked yourselves, songbird is a history geek, songbird loves fantasy, songbird goes to the Rennaisance Faire every summer, so why hasn't songbird gone to Medieval Times?

Truth is, Drew and I went there back in the 90's. Loved it. Planned to go again, but life got in the way.

Then Drew participated in an online auction of some sort, and successfully bid on admission to Medieval Times. The passes could only be used midweek, though, so we had to pick a day when both of us would be off from work.

So we picked the 7:30 show on 12/26. And found ourselves driving from Long Island to Lyndhurst, NJ on a cold, stormy night. What fun we had driving on the Cross Bronx in freezing rain . . .which turned to snow when we hit Ft. Lee. We actually made note of the two hotels within walking distance of Medieval Times, just in case. Fortunately the snow turned to rain by the time we left for home, and at that hour (no traffic!) we we able to take the Lincoln Tunnel, drive crosstown to the Midtown Tunnel and make it home in record time.

As for the evening at the castle . . . The premise is that you are feasting with the King while enjoying a jousting tournament. . .when you enter the lobby you're presented with lots of opportunities to spend your money -- souvenirs, photos with the actors, a full bar, a tour of the dungeon showing medieval torture objects. When you're seated in the arena, you're assigned a knight to root for - we were in the Green Knight's section, where everyone was wearing green paper crowns. We had preferred seating in the front row, so we also received green flags and a souvenir program.

There is no menu -- everyone is fed the same meal ( though vegetarians are offered an alternate selection). Dinner is served without utensils, on pewter plates, to give it a medieval "feel". Our bill of fare consisted of tomato soup, some really soft and chewy flatbread, 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken, a single spare rib (I would have preferred more ribs and less chicken) and roasted potatoes. There were hot apple pastries for dessert.

The show begins while you're eating, mostly demonstrations of horsemanship and falconry, some pageantry. After dinner the intensity builds as you watch jousting and combat. Sparks really fly when swords meet.

Funniest moment of the night - the Master of Ceremonies announcing "If you parked your chariot in our courtyard, New Jersey license plate number xxxxxxx, you left your candles burning. Please go attend to it, as we don't have jumper cables." He couldn't finish this speech with a straight face.

My souvenir of the night? Not the carnation the Green Knight threw to me (though that was nice). I bought myself another addition to my pewter collection. A sword in a stone. Conjures up images of Merlin. . .

So it was a great evening. Of course.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament on Urbanspoon

RIP Phil

Way back in the 90's I was working at a law firm.  One of my coworkers, a lovely woman named Denise, became my friend.
A year or so after I left the firm, she  set me up on a blind date.  She'd met the guy through an on line dating service;  he wasn't a good match for her but she thought he'd be perfect for me.
So Phil and I began to chat on the phone and on line.  He was divorced, with one son who was living with him.  He was into Broadway theater, one of my passions. We seemed compatible.
On our first date he took me to an Italian restaurant in my neighborhood.  (The last time I'd been there Jen was in diapers -- and embarassed her mom and dad by throwing a bowl of spaghetti at the man at the next table.) 
So we're enjoying our pasta and Phil starts talking about Gilbert & Sullivan.  How he's involved in a community theater company that performs Gilbert & Sullivan operettas.
And I'm getting this incredible feeling of deja vu, because Drew and his parents and sister love Gilbert & Sullivan, and were involved in a G&S group.
And Phil says to me "Most people have seen, or at least know of, the big three -- Pirates of Penzance, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Mikado.  But most people can't name any of their other works."
I responded "You mean, like Iolanthe?"  Drew had taken me to see Iolanthe. 
I expected Phil to be impressed.  But what he said next . . .
"Your last name is [name]?  Are you Drew [name]'s  ex wife?"
Small world, isn't it?
Even funnier, Phil and Drew shared a second "connection".  Phil's ex wife Christa had been very close friends with Drew in high school.
We dated for awhile, nothing too serious.  Broke it off, nothing too dramatic. 
About 3 years ago Drew got involved in a G&S production and the friendship was renewed.
Phil remarried and moved to Pennsylvania.
I'm Facebook friends with Denise, never got around to "friending" Phil.  The other day Denise responded to Phil's post and it showed up in my newsfeed.  Phil was scared because he had to have heart surgery -- he referred to it as "tricky" surgery.
I showed the post to Drew.
So we weren't totally shocked when this morning Drew's sister called to tell us the sad news.  Phil's condition had worsened.  He died this morning.
He was 56 years old.  Just a few years older than I am.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve at HR Singletons

HR Singletons on Urbanspoon Quiet Christmas Eve this year. Went out for steak at Singleton's. Pub atmosphere. It was busy but not too crowded. Everyone in our party ordered steak or surf and turf. My prime rib was excellent. Took half of it home. Yummy creamed spinach and a baked potato completed the meal. Too full for dessert. But the cakes on display looked incredible. The place is quickly becoming a favorite. Now we have a cozy fire in the fireplace and "White Christmas " playing on the TV.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

NYC Christmas

So yesterday Drew and I went into the city to look at Christmas decorations.  Yes, we knew it would be very crowded on the Saturday before Christmas.  What can I say except that we're crazy?  ;-)  It was also very cold yesterday, and windy -- very different from the weather Friday, or today for that matter.
We took the train into Penn Station, so the logical first stop was Macy's.  The windows along 34th St. are devoted to "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus".  The Herald Square windows tell the story of NYC at Christmas, with an emphasis on Macy's participation (there's a "Miracle on 34th Street" scene).
Bought a pretzel from a street vendor outside Macy's.  The quintissential NYC experience.
There were lots of street performers in Herald Square. The latest idea is to dress as a cartoon character and charge a small fee to pose for pictures. Mickey and Minnie Mouse seem to be the overall favorites, but you will also see Elmo, Smurfs, the Statue of Liberty . . . Easy way to make a buck, and you see these guys in Times Square all the time. Yesterday I also saw them in Rockefeller Center.
Next up was Lord & Taylor, 5th Ave at 38th St.Good crowd control at their windows.  Their focus is Christmas around the world.  Very charming.
Next we walked to Bryant Park.  There's a pretty tree here, about 30 feet tall, decked out in blue lights and silver ornaments.    Lovely.  You want a "big tree" experience without the crowds?  Come here.  The busiest shops, by the way, were the two kiosks with hot chocolate.  At one kiosk we sampled French truffles.  Very rich chocolate.
And then we headed to the Big Tree -- Rockefeller Center.  CROWD ALERT!!!!    I literally had to hang onto Drew for fear we'd be separated. 
We were walking north on 5th Ave.  Made a right turn onto 49th, and entered Rockefeller Center from 49th St.    Drew took a few pictures of the tree and the skating rink.  And a few years ago, when they replaced the tree topper, they put the old one on display, so Drew took pictures of that as well.    (I didn't take any photos this year, I didn't bring my camera, and my hands were so cold I decided it wasn't worth taking off the gloves so that I could use the cell phone.)
My moment of "glory" . . .tripping over a crowd-control barricade.  Managed to keep from falling but I did wrench my knee . . .
Then we walked up 50th St. to 5th Ave.   That put us across the street from Saks 5th Avenue. Saks has turned the side of its building into a movie screen.  Every 10 minutes or so, from 5 PM until 10 PM, they project a 2 minute movie all about snow and skating and etc.  Very cute.
But it creates an abominable crowd situation.  It was actually scary trying to walk from 50th back to 49th so we could cross 5th. People were packed together like sardines in a can, literally touching each other and unable to move.  Took us 10 minutes to negotiate the one short block.
Eventually we did make it out of the crowd and across the street, and took a look at the windows at Saks.  The best scene here was the snow globes -- the shelves rotate, shaking up the snowglobes so that they "snow". 
At this point we left 5th Ave. and headed to Bloomingdale's at 59th and Lexington.  Much less crowded here, the windows are done up to salute Cirque de Soleil.  Then we headed up to Barney's at 61st and Madison.  This was an interesting display, a short movie featuring Minnie Mouse, where she imagines herself as a Parisian fashion model. 
We walked back to 57th and headed back towards 5th.  The giant snowflake hangs over the intersection of 57th and 5th.  Bergdorf Goodman sits on that corner but by then we were all "windowed out".  It was getting cold and my leg was starting to hurt.  So we called it a day, and took a cab back to the Marriott Marquis Hotel.  Sat in the lobby and people-watched for about half an hour, killing time until our dinner reservation.
Dinner on Restaurant Row.  We dined at a charming spot called Lattanzi Ristorante Italiano.  Several small dining rooms, each dimly lit, with a candle on each table.  Very romantic.  They offer both Italian-Roman and Judeo-Italian cuisine, but we were only offered the Roman menu and I suspect you have to ask for the Jewish menu.  Perhaps we will, when we go back.
The breadbasket included rustic Italian bread, garlicky breadsticks and some sort of wafer, accompanied by olive oil.  One of the "specials" was lasagna bolognese. Which could be ordered as an appetizer or as a main course -- I asked for it as an appetizer.  Nice sized portion.  I had the veal piccata, thin slices of veal in a lemon-caper sauce, plated with sauteed vegetables (carrot, potato, zucchini). Drew had the veal marsala -- same dish as mine, but with a wine and mushroom sauce. Both were excellent. We don't usually order dessert but I couldn't resist the creme brulee -- served in a wide, shallow ramikin, there was more "brulee" than "creme". The custard was very light and not very sweet, but with all tgat carmelized sugar the custard didn't need to be sweet. Drew ordered cannoli, and was served two small pastries filled with a rich, sweet filling.
The walk back to Penn took us through Times Square. More crowds, more street performers. And atop One Times Square, a famous ball and a countdown to the new year.
Very full day, we both dosed off on the train ride home . . . Lattanzi Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday night burgers . . .yum!

"Jimmy . . .Jimmy. . . Oh Jimmyjack, when are you coming back?" So awhile ago we found this great burger place in Bellmore . . .loved Jimmyjack's. The burgers were soooo good. I even "liked" the place on Facebook. And then . . .tragedy. The owners posted on Facebook that they were closing up shop. And they did. Sigh. And then . . .and then . . .there was an announcement on Facebook. Jimmyjack's would reopen! Tonight we finally got around to seeing if the "new" Jimmyjack's is as good as the old. And the answer is . . .yum. The place hasn't changed a bit. Very very casual, you order your food at the counter and they bring it to your table in wrapped in paper and placed in a flimsy cardboard basket. But the food . . .I had the "build your own". You choose a patty (beef, turkey, etc.), a type of cheese, toppings, whatever you want. I had a beef patty with mozarella, sauteed onions and mushrooms and russian dressing. Drew had tge bacon egg and cheeseburger, which is topped with a fried egg. Both burgers were cooked to order. And there's a reason they have huge napkin dispensers on each table -- very messy burgers! The french fries were crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, the onion rings were crispy but left a small puddle of grease on the paper. Definitely one of our favorites. Jimmyjacks on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It was a dump, but it was our dump

Remember this post?
Rewatching "Last Play at Shea" this afternoon.
As Daryl Strawberry said, it was our dump. Citi Field is a nice ballpark, but Shea . . .there was something magical . . .
And bucket list item #1 -- A Billy Joel concert.  Only time I saw him live was durin McCartney's first concert at Citi Field.

Monday, December 17, 2012

And now it really hits home

So the news from Connecticut is ever-present: tv, radio, newspapers, internet.  The unrelenying, inescapable details.

I wrote yesterday that the town was just like my town, the school not so very different from the one my daughters attended.

And now we're getting the stories of each victim.

The young teacher who hid her students and lied to the gunman to protect them.

The principal and school psychologist, women close to my age, who put themselves in the line of fire.

The children . . .there's a picture of one little girl, a pretty blonde, who struck a pose for the camera . . .the attitude reminds me of Jen at that age.

And then I found out that one of the children, a little boy, was Jewish.  I guess we identify with those who share our religious, ethnic and cultural background, because I felt that death oh so keenly.  That the parents and siblings will light a yartzeit lamp for him every year at the same time they light the 6th Chanukah candle. . .

And then I found out that I do have a real connection to Newtown.  I actually know someone there.

I was watching the interfaith service last night.  The priests and ministers of the various churches, the local iman, a representative of the Baha'i faith.  And, of course, the rabbi.

He looked vaguely familiar, this rabbi.  His name sounded vaguely familiar.  He sang a mourning prayer, and did it so beautifully that I found myself crying.

Tonight at my synagogue I found out why he seemed so familiar.  He was our cantor many years ago, when my children first started Hebrew school, and was therefore one of their teachers during that time.

Majes it feel even more like . . .well, it could have been my school, it could have been my town.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra!

We saw The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Saturday afternoon.

Rock meets classical.  Loud music, lasers and lighting effects,pyrotechnics.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hobbit

I think I may be the only person in America who hasn't seen any of the "Lord of the Rings" movies.  which is strange, because I read and loved "The Hobbit" and all three of the "Rings" books when I was in high school.  don't know how I let those movies get past me. 

But Friday night Drew and I went to see the new movie, "The Hobbit".  A very charming movie, true to the spirit of the book.  Of course, the movie foreshadows the Rings trilogy in ways the book never did.    Before I saw the movie I wondered how they were going to find enough material for three movies out of one simple book,  but this first movie seems to be OK. 

Now, of course, I must find the Rings trilogy on DVD, because I am not able to wait for the next installment of "The Hobbit".

Afterwards we wound up at Denny's.  You know they have a "Hobbit-inspired" menu right now?  I had the turkey dinner and Drew had an egg and sausage skillet.  We got collectible cards as part of the package.

Another fine evening.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I can't seem to get the school shooting out of my head.  That the President of the united States had to compose himself mid-speech while addressing the nation!

The town where it looks just like my home town.  It could have been my town, my school. 

Scary stuff.

Friday, December 14, 2012

another school shooting

So today is a telecommute day, and I've got the TV on as background noise to keep the house from being too quiet.

And then the usual fluff is interrupted by breaking news....

And now I find myself completely absorbed in the horrible story out of Connecticut.  A shooting at an elementary school, 24 dead, many of them children.

The kind of story that scares every parent.

And so many people in my life are teachers, former teachers, future teachers.  My father, my mother, Drew, Jen.  Yet another connection to schools.

Deja vu

Yesterday I had a holiday lunch with a group of coworkers. It's an annual tradition for each unit in the department to go out to lunch with their supervisor. More meaningful this year because we don't get to socialize with each other much these days, we all telecommute and aren't in the office much anymore. The place my boss selected is just a few blocks from the office. I'd been there once before, for a party. We were a very large group back in March and ordered from a limited menu. But with a small group of six the entire menu was available to us. So what do I order? The very same meal I had last time. Not that I intended to do that. I just ordered what looked interesting. It wasn't until I looked at my prior review on Urbanspoon that I realized what I'd done. So yes, I do like O'Connell's. Nice pub atmosphere with an interesting menu. The fried calamari appetizer - very tender. It's served with a spicy chili sauce. Just the right amount of heat, not overpowering. The sauce goes on the plate first, the calamari on top of the sauce. Very shareable. My lunch entree was a grilled chicken sandwich. It was served with mozzarella, bacon and guacamole. Huge sandwich, I took half of it home. I'd definitely order it again. Anyone who tends to order their french fries "very well done" would love the fries here, very crispy on the outside and fluffy inside. My coworkers' burgers looked wonderful, and when I saw the hanger steak I almost wished I'd ordered that instead. I'll be back next week with another group of coworkers and I am already thinking about the choices on the menu. O'Connell's Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon We were way too full for dessert.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


There was a little concert in the Garden last night.  Nothing major, just some music by a few Jersey boys, a couple of New Yorkers and some old English fellows.
Otherwise known as Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Clapton, and Sir Paul.  Joined by Brian Williams, Billy Crystal, Susan Sarandon, Chris Rock . . .
I wasn't home at the beginning of the broadcast.  (Thank goodness for the DVR).  Heard Clapton's performance on the radio while driving home, walked into the house as the Stones took the stage.  Waited all night for Sir Paul, then dozed off in the middle of his performance, but woke up just in time to see the end of the concert.  And I plan to download the best of it from iTunes.
The concert was to benefit the victims of Sandy.  Only a tragedy of that magnitude could be the root of duch a concert.  (A lit of these folks were in the Concert for New York in October 2001 to benefit 9/11 victims).
Aside from the fact that it was a truly awesome concert, broadcast on many tv and radio networks . . .
When I was a little girl . . .if you weren't home to watch a tv special, you missed it.  And hoped your friends would tell you about it.

When I was in my 20's, if you weren't home, you could videotape the show.  And you avoided your friends until you could watch the tape, so that they wouldn't spoil it for you.
Now you can watch it on tv or stream it on your computer.  And live blog about it on Facebook.
And in a way it felt like I was watching it with my friends.    We chatted about the performances and the participants.  Made fun of Kanye West's clothes and cheered for our favorite songs.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Proud cheer mom

I am sure I mentioned that Jen is now the JV  cheer leading coach at her old high school.
Or did I?
Let me give you the back story.
When Jen was in high school the cheer leading program was excellent.   The two teachers who coached were wonderful.  In the years since Jen graduated, the two hood coaches left, and the teachers who replaced them.  . . There were three different coaches in a four year period.
This year Maddie took over the varsity team.  Jen knows Maddie from high school, Maddie was a senior when Jen was a sophomore,  and Maddie was a captain of the varsity cheer team.
Maddie asked Jen and Kristen- another teammate and one of Jen's best friends- to take over JV.
When Jen was in high school there were three squads - varsity, JV and competition.   All of the varsity girls and? some of the JV girls were on competition.  
But our current coaching staff decided to eliminate a separate competition team and have varsity and JV both compete.
Jen and Kristen signed up for a rookie competition today.
There were 7 teams in their division.
They came in second!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Anna Karenina

I read Tolstoy's novel when I was in high school.

Tonight we saw the movie.

I didn't like how the story is framed.  At the beginning of the movie the audience is taken to an old theater, where a play, set in Russia in1874, is about to begin.  As you watch you become involved in the story, and then the director pulls the camera back to show you the prosceneum and footlights, reminding you that this is only a play.

Not only is this device distracting, it doesn't add to the story.  And considering Tolstoy's works were among the first to incorporate "realusm" into a novel, I really don't understand why the director chose to use this device.

That being said, I really did enjoy the movie.  Beautifully filmed, exquisite costumes.  Jude Law was perfect as the aloof, emotionally detached Karenin.  Keira Knightley was beautiful as the passionate, tortured Anna.  Though I did think Aaron Taylor-Johndon was a bit effeminite for Vronsky.

I should mention. . .although Drew read the novel many years ago, he'd forgotten most of the details.  And he didn't pick up on a lot of those details while watching the movie.  My guess is that someone unfamiliar with the novel might miss out on the subplots, the foreshadowing concerning the train accident and Dolly's marriage, etc.

Still, I enjoyed the movie.

And it occurs to me I have to find that hat . . .I have a (fake) fur hat just like the one Anna wears on the train . . .that hat will be great during the next blizzard . . .

Friday, December 7, 2012

so proud of Becca

Becca did very well in her internship this semester.  So well, in fact, that when the internship ended this week, she was invited back for the summer.  To supervise other interns. 


Thursday, December 6, 2012

The ornaments are different this year

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hey hey we're the Monkees

So you know we are Monkees fans. 

Saw them in concert several times.  I cried the day Davy Jones died.

So you know that when the surviving Monkees announced a tour, Drew and I would have to go.  I mean, Nesmith hadn't toured with the band since 1997.  I'd never seen him perform. 

The tour started in early November.  Last night was the final concert of the tour, at the Beacon in NYC.  And we had tickets for the show.

Our evening began at Viand Cafe.  This is a small coffee shop/diner on the same block as the Beacon theater.  having spent so much money on the tickets for the show, we were looking to keep dinner simple and relatively inexpensive, and this place fit the bill.   Half of the patrons in the restaurant last night were Monkees fans on their way to the show.  I ordered a Reuben -- hearty rye bread and lean pastrami served with sauerkraut and melted cheese.  It was served as an open-faced sandwich accompanied by potato salad.  The sandwich was very good, the potato salad merely ok  -- potatoes could have been cooked a little longer, and I would have liked more dressing.  I brought half the sandwich home, it was that large.  Drew had scrambled eggs, which were served with hash browns and toast, and a side order of saugage.  Service was efficient but not outstanding.  We will most definitely go back the next time we have tickets for a show at the Beacon.

A word about the Beacon theater.  We saw an oldies concert there about a year ago, so last night was our second trip to this venue.  the theater itself is anice venue for a concert, but the lobby...way too small for the theater, very long and narrow and crowded.  They open the doors to the lobby an hour before the show, but they don't let you go into the theater itself until half an hour before show time, so the corwding becomes almost impossible to deal with. 

Now, about the show.

Drew's friend Larry saw the show Saturday night at the Paramount in Huntington, so we knew what to expect.  And of course, it lived up to expectations.  They sang most of the group's big hits.  they sang a number of songs they hadn't performed in awhile, songs that were written by Nesmith and/or originally performed by him.  Similar to the Westbury show we saw last year, they made extensive use of video from the band's heyday -- scenes from the TV show and from the movie Head. Very enthusiastic crowd, they amost never actually sat in their seats.

The most cathartic moment:  the audience sing-along of "Daydream Believer" while videos of Davy played on the screen.

This was quite possibly the very last Monkees concert.  Nesmith is not likely to agree to another tour.  Peter and Mickey have toured together as a duo, but they don't use "the Monkees" when it's just the two of them.

It wasn't just a concert, it was an event.  And as Drew said, worth every penny.

Viand Cafe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Anyone who knows me and who knows Drew would not be surprised to hear that we are history buffs.  So of course we had to see "Lincoln".

I really liked this movie. Spielberg's focus was on Lincoln the man, not Lincoln the folk hero we saw in so many Hollywood movies.  Set in the winter of 1865, the storyline revolves around the political wheeling and dealing involved in passage of the 13th Amendment.  We also get a real feel for Lincoln's relationships with his wife and his sons.

And may I add, Tommy Lee Jones deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens?

Saturday, December 1, 2012


The other day in the city we noticed.... The Burger King Whopper Bar on 41st Street closed. Colony Records closed. Mars 2112 closed. And now I've heard that the Stage Deli closed. That one really makes me sad, I liked the deli.

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

When you enter Studio 54 these days, you'll find that it has been transformed into a 19th Century English music hall. The cast of performers are about to perform "The Mystery of Edwin Drood", a play based on an unfinished novel by Charles Dickens. The music hall cast sings, they dance, they tell jokes, and intermittently perform the drama. While Dickens' book was bleak, the story as presented in the music hall setting has the same comic feel as a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, full of absurdities and melodrama. The score, by Rupert Holmes (the "Pina Colada" guy) is less than memorable, but is fun to listen to. And I really enjoyed the interactive feature, voting for the murderer. Which ending you see depends on what the audience chooses. Another wonderful evening of live theater!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Interesting change. I like the convenience, but I miss my coworkers. Still, when the bad weather hit yesterday, getting home safe was not a concern. I could get used to this.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Ever get a "do-over?

Drew and I had tickets to see The Moody Blues at Westbury Music Fair last April.  He wound up going with a friend because I was in the hospital.  (Yet another reason I hate hospitals.)

Who would have thought they'd  be back at Westbury 7 months later?

Great show.

Watch "Moody Blues 11/24/12 Westbury show" on YouTube


Reinwald's Bakery on Urbanspoon Absolutely my favorite bakery. Every special occasion in our house is celebrated with cake and/or other treats from Reinwald's. Our order for Thanksgiving this year included strawberry shortcake, blackout cake, cupcakes with turkey decorations, cookies decorated with Thanksgiving themes, lace cookies and two loaves of bread. Heaven. Other favorites include raspberry mousse cake and Oreo cake.

I always drive very, very carefully with a Reinwald's cake in my car. Funny story about a Reinwald's cake. Years ago, when Jen was a tween, I booked her birthday party at a venue that did not provide cake. So I ordered a sheet cake from Reinwald's. Had it decorated just the way she wanted it. I drove from the bakery to the party venue as if my car was made of eggshells. I handed the cake to the young lady who was serving the food. The venue had a small refrigerator, about 4 1/2 feet tall, in the back room. She placed the cake, still in the bakery box, on top of the refrigerator. Later, when she went to get soda out of tge refrigerator, the cakebox fell, landing face down on the floor. The whipped cream and decorations all smeared. Cake was still edible, but not very pretty. We had to bring Jen into the back room abd show her what happened. If we had "surprised" her with the messy cake she would have freaked. We can laugh about it now . . .

Songbird Salutes the '70's

Watch "Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin Live" on YouTube

First released in 1967, it was a huge hit in 1972.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mmmmm . . .Thanksgiving

Turkeys are stuffed and roasting, cranberry sauce is chilling, potatoes and sweet potatoes are on the stove . . .I just spent a fortune at our favorite bakery and stopped at the supermarket for those last-minute items . . . Guests arriving around 6 p.m.

Watched the parade at Drew's house this morning.  Nothing like the parade to make me feel about 4 years old again.

I feel bad for Drew right now.  He's recovering from surgery -- doctor had to repair an esophageal hernia.   Part of the recovery process is that he's on a liquid diet.  The biggest food holiday on the calendar and he can't eat.  He opted to stay home all day with his Blue Ray and his desktop.

I suppose I should write something thoughtful and deep about being thankful . . . But I'm too busy drooling over the thought of stuffing and mashed potatoes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

banned -- update

After the uproar, the Republican students disinvited the vitriolic speaker.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Hospital waiting room

Drew is having surgery as I write this.    It's a planned procedure, he was supposed to have it Octiber 29 but a little thing called Sandy intervened.  He's going to spend two days in the hospital and then 4 weeks recovering at home.

Modern hospital waiting room -- flat screen tv, vending machines, free wifi.  And a computerized tracking board that will tell me when he's out of OR and in the recovery room.  So that when the courtsey phone rings I'll know whether it may be Drew's doctor calling.

Meanwhile it's tv and Facebook.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bond and a burger

So last night a group of us saw Skyfall, the newest edition to the world of James Bond. After 50 years of Bond movies, the audience is very familiar with certain elements of the plot. There will be exotic locales, lots of action, interesting gadgets, glamor, witty remarks, sexual encounters, and of course a martini or two (shaken, not stirred). This movie has all of that, and a great theme song performed by Adele. It's also grittier and more human than a lot of Bond films. Our hero has weaknesses and emotions about his past, things you'd never have seen in a Sean Connery or Roger Moore incarnation.

Afterwards we wound up at the Broadway Diner, which is our "go-to" diner these days. Very happy with our waitress. Since we all ordered burgers ir sandwiches, she brought out a huge bowl of cole slaw and a plate full of pickles. Yum. She forgot to order bacon for one of the cheeseburgers, but ran back to the kitchen to get some bacon to make it right. Their burgers are wonderful, lots of choices. The cheeseburger deluxe comes with American cheese, but you can swap in cheddar, swiss, mozzarella . . . The Mexican burger comes with avocado and sides of guacamole and salsa. There are pizza burgers, burgers made wuth Angus beef . . .lots of choices. But last night I was not in a burger mood (hard to belueve, I know). Ordered a tuna salad sandwich. They use chunk light, not solid white albacore, and yes I can taste the difference. Won't order it again. Maybe next time I'll try the chicken salad. Or the shrimp salad. Or maybe I'll just stick with a burger. Broadway Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Last night Becca told me she was banned from a page on Facebook.

And I couldn't be more proud!

Seems the Republican student club at her university invited a nationally-known, very right wing speaker, someone known to spew vitriol.

The liberals among the student body do not want this person to speak.  They started a Facebook page.

Becca, a political science major who shares her mother's liberal viewpoint, posted that the Republican students should be allowed to have their speaker, so that when the Democrats want someone from the left they can invite their speaker too. 

In other words, "I disagree with everything you have to say but will defend your right to say it."

University President sent out an email to the entire student body upholding the rights of free speech.

That's my baby girl.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Back when I was in college, a student group invited a representative of the PLO to speak on campus.  The Hillel organized a rally outside the lecture hall.  Yes, they could have their speaker, but we made sure our voices would be heard as well.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I didn't know they name winter storms! Athena was the goddess of wisdom. Are we being taught some sort of cosmic lesson?

Sandy update

Anyone who thinks climate change isn't real needs a good, swift kick in the pants.

Yesterday we got a nor'easter.  Still dealing with power outages, gas shortages, modified public transportation from the hurricane, and now we get snow?  And the prediction is temperatures will climb up to the 60's by the weekend.  What's next, blood, frogs, pestilence?

The good news is that I have now joined the ranks of the telecommuters.  I suspect my desk has already been given to a displaced worker from our NYC office.

I felt bad for Jen last night.  She was supposed to have a romantic dinner with her boyfriend for her birthday.  Instead she got stuck in the house with us due to the storm.  Somehow takeout with your mom isn't quite the same . . .

But considering how others have more serious issues . . .there are still people in this neighborhood without electricity, having lost it during Sandy.

Mother Nature, we have had enough . . .

My back yard 11/8/2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

22 today

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The slow return to normalcy

A week after the stormyou'd expect most things would have returned to normal.  If only.

Yesterday I went to work for the first time post-Sandy.  The commute into the city was aggravating -- limited service on the railroad, packed trains.   Had to take a ferry to Jersey City because there was no PATH service.  Today's commute will be better, the PATH has limited service.

There are "refugees" in my office, people from our lower Manhattan offices who can't get into their buildings.  Everyone who normally works in our building but has the ability to work from home is being told to stay home.

J and her kids have moved to another location, a friend in their neighborhood will let them stay in her basement.  But last night Jen's friend Kristen slept over, her house still lacks power.

We are expecting another storm tomorrow.  A nor'easter.  The kind of storm that normally would not phase us.  But because we are still dealing with Sandy's aftermath, another storm is a very scary proposition.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The sad birthday

My friend J and two of her sons are staying with us, I've mentioned,  due to flood damage to their home.

Today J and my sisters H and A and my mother went to a funeral.  H and J have a friend L.  H and L met in 2nd grade.  L's mother passed away.   Totally unrelated to the storm, Sheila had been ill for many months.  In fact we saw Sheila in rehab while my dad was a patient there. (I didn't go to the funeral but will pay a shiva call later this week.)

Today is J's birthday.

I bought flowers in her favorite color to decorate the house.  Dinner tonight was takeout from the diner.  Later we will have cake and champagne.

Songbird Salutes the 70's

Driving around Long Island post-Sandy . . . Gas crisis!  Stations are closed, with signs reading "no gas".  A station pumping gas will have a long line of cars waiting . . .

This is temporary, it should resolve as normalcy returns.

But remember when it was the norm?

The gas crisis of the 1970's.  Buying gas on "odd"  or "even" days, depending on your license plate.  Waiting in line at the gas station.

It's when a lot of Americans switched from gas guzzlers to foreign-made fuel efficient vehicles.

There are some things about the 70's that I do not miss at all.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sandy update

So I am at Drew's house for the time being.  Normal weekends would find me driving back and forth between my home and his, but with the gas shortage I will stay here for the duration. 

Drew's sister and uncle were here yesterday, they still have no electricity at their house.  They are not aline, over 100,000 LIPA customers are waiting for power to be restored.

A lot of my friends in New Jersey are still in the dark.

The return to "normal" is creeping along at a snail's pace.  LIRR is up and running, but not on a full schedule.  NYC subway system is partially restored. PATH service is suspended.  My boss tells me my office may reopen Monday or Tuesday but I have no idea how I will get there.

Telethon last night for the Red Cross. . .raising money for the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, the Rockaways. . .the headliners were Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel -- two boys from Jersey and a Long Islander. 

At least they cancelled the Marathon.  I am a great believer in the healing power of sports, but the city was in no condition . . .

Friday, November 2, 2012


Power has been restored at my parents' house.  I am headed back there later to take care of a few things before returning to Drew's for our usual Friday night activities.  Hopefully his cable will be fixed when I come back.

I am glad I had the foresight to fill my gas tank before the storm.  The lines at the gas stations remind me of the 1970's.  Relief is coming, the stations should have a ready supply in a few days.  I still have close to a full tank and am therefore able to avoid the hassle.

Those who had to commute into the city for work yesterday had a nightmare due to limited service.  Guess my office being closed is a good thing.

We managed to get through the storm relatively unscathed.  I feel blessed.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandy update

I write this from Drew's house.  He has electricity and heat!  No cable/phone/internet, but it's warm and cozy.  We watched a movie on the DVD player last night.

Still no power at my house.  (Yes I bailed on my parents.). F and A are there, and H came out yesterday to spend time.  Her apartment in Queens is unaffected by the storm.

Becca is at her apartment,  too.  Unaffected by the storm except for some cancelled classes.

Jen spent time at her boyfriend's house - he has a generator - but she's home now.  She may bail again later, it's cold.

And then there are the house guests.  H's best friend J, who we call family.  J's youngest son (he's 14), their dog, cat and bunny.  Not sure, but I think her 22 year old may be joining the party.  Her middle son is away at college.  J lives on the south shore.  Two houses away from a canal.  At the height of the storm she had three feet of water in her house.   Her new reality includes insurance adjusters and FEMA. As soon as she can get them on the phone, that is.

Schools around here will be closed all week.  My office remains inaccessible.   Public transit is only partially restored, and the governor ordered them to not collect fares.

This is unprecedented in the NY Metro area.

But on a brighter note - the kids still had Halloween. In New Jersey it was postponed until Saturday.  But here on Long Island we had trick or treat as usual.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Out of the darkness

You know I am active in my synagogue.   And that we hold services twice a day.  And that a quorum of 10 is required.

I was fearful that there might not be a quorum tonight.  So I drove the half mile to the synagogue to be part of the minyan.

I need not have worried.   There were 20 people at the service.

Twenty of us, praying by flashlight.  Eerie and beautiful.

Stormy weather

So in the aftermath of the storm the weather is cold and damp.  And no heat in the house.

The president has declared this region a major disaster area.  Understandable considering the damage reports I am hearing.  Thanks to email and Facebook I have learned that the office will be closed again tomorrow.   Our building in Jersey City is right on the river and it flooded.  There's no power in Jersey City or lower Manhattan and it's not likely that public transportation will be functional any time soon.

Charged my phone in the car this morning.  Sat there listening to the news on the radio and found myself crying.

The morning after

We made it through the storm relatively unscathed.  Sitting here with no electricity and spotty cell phone service.  No damage to the house or cars.  We feel blessed.

I looked at the Newsday website, and our house guest went out to her car to listen to the radio for news.  No AM stations!  1010 WINS is broadcasting on an FM frequency.   The rain wasn't much of an issue,  it was the wind and tides.  LIPA has 1.1 million customers and over 900,000 of them are without power.  Trees are down, roads closed   Flood waters came further inland than ever before.  They're saying this storm was worse than Hurricane Gloria in 1985.  That it was worse than the fabled hurricane of 1938.

The good news, I just saw the town highway department truck go by.  Clean up has begun.

Monday, October 29, 2012


That's what we are reduced to.  Power went out just as we were finishing dinner.  Outside the storm continues.  Although we cannot see the full moon, the clouds are glowing, and I can see the dark sillouettes of the trees swaying in the wind.

Power is out, 3G isn't working well, sporadic service only.  Though we haven't lost cell phone service yet. Texting is iffy though.

Before we lost contact with the outside world we heard news reports . . .trees down, unprecedented flooding.  A building collapse in NYC.  A gas station explosion in Massapequa.  All Long Island parkways shut down.  Scary.

Mass transit shut down last night.  Amazingly ny office shut down today and tomorrow.

It feels like armaggedon.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hunkering Down

Sandy is coming.

They're calling Sandy a "Frankenstorm"  Huge hurricane hitting during the full moon. 

New York and New Jersey have already declared a state of emergency.  The LIRR, NYC subways and PATH trains shut down at 7 PM Sunday night.

We loaded up on supplies Sunday afternoon, I made two trips to the supermarket as well as a trip to the bagel bakery, and my mother and sister did shopping as well. Made sure my car has a full tank of gas, just in case. Schools and offices all over the region have closed.  Hospitals cancelled elective surgery -- Drew was supposed to have his procedure tomorrow.

And now we just watch the new casts and wait for the storm to hit.

Cloud Atlas and Red Lobster

 In the calm before the storm....

Last night we saw an incredible movie, Cloud Atlas.  Very cerebral movie, elements of science fiction, religion and philosophy, reincarnation, and how we are all bound up together.  Six parallel stories, past, present and future.  Each of the principle actors has six different roles, one in each story.  Their lives intersect.  Everything is connected. 

Definitely an Oscar contender.

Next it was dinner at Red Lobster.  We usually go to the one in Hicksville, but since we saw the movie at Roosevelt Field, we opted to try the Red Lobster in Carle Place.  This chain has a very interesting menu, part New England seaside shack, part Caribbean ...  part whatever.  There were cheesy biscuits on the table before we even placed our order.  I love the strawberry sunset colada, a pina colada with a  dash of strawberry.  Drew had a Bahama Mama -- very potent drink.  Started our meal with the coconut shrimp -- six shrimp breaded with coconut and fried, then served with a pina colada sauce. Salads were fresh.  We both ordered combo plates that included grilled lobster tail and shrimp.    Mine had lobster tail, shrimp scampi and grilled shrimp, broccoli and rice  pilaf. 

food was good, service was efficient.  No wonder Red Lobster is one of our go-to places.

Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 26, 2012

Meredith's Mother Takes The Train . . .

Twenty years ago, when my kids were very small, I would read to them every night.  You know the deal, you read a book over and over again, until you and your child have practically memorized it.

One of my favorites  was "Meredith's Mother Takes The Train" by Deborah Rose.  Meredith went to day care while her mother went to work.

I'd bring Jen and Becca to day care every morning.  Drew would pick them up every afternoon.  So the book was very relevant to our lives at the time.

I meant to hold onto it, to keep it as a memento of the baby days.  But somehow it got misplaced.

Hadn't thought about the book in years.  But today I find myself with lines from the book popping into my head . . .

Meredith's mother takes the train to work in the morning and home again . . .Meredith's mother gets all dressed up, and sometimes she carries her coffee cup . . .

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Gateway Haunted Playhouse of Horror

I love a good haunted house.

Tonight we drive out to Hellport. .. er, Bellport, to the Gateway Theater.  The theater has been transformed into a haunted house, complete with actors and special effects. The special effects were among the best I've seen, including (get this) real odors.  The acting was excellent.

I don't scare easily.  But the young lady in the white jacket got so spooked she grabbed my arm and wouldn't let go!

But it is an intense experience.  Takes about 30 minutes to walk through the whole house.


Monday, October 15, 2012

I pity the fool . . .

Do not mess with an angry cheerleader.

Coach Jen ordered buses to take the girls to an away game Saturday morning.  Someone in the office didn't place the order.  Jen, the other coach and a few of the parents wound up driving the squad to the game.  Fortunately it was in the next town, not very far.

The office is going to hear about it today!

aging parents and bratty sisters

My father is not in a good place right now.  His vision is going and he's having cognitive issues.

And my sisters, who are taking care of him, are completely stressed out.

And apparently I am a terrible horrible person who doesn't care about my father or anyone in the house.

Sorry, sisters mine, but you opted to feed at the parental trough for 45 years, it's payback time.  I've been working my butt off since I graduated from law school to make a life for myself and for my children.  So hell, yeah, when the weekend comes, I'm going out.  Our parents are paying your bills, but they're not paying mine, so I'm going to enjoy the fruits of my labor.  I earned it. 

And I learned, several years ago, that life is very short indeed, and I can't wait until "someday" to enjoy it."

It's not your place to decide who lives in YOUR PARENTS' HOUSE. 

And I really don't give a damn that you haven't gone to the theater since May.  We used to all go to the theater together.  The first time you bought 4 tickets, instead of 5, and planned to take my kids to the theater without me and without asking me...if neither of you ever sets foot in a theater again ...  karma's a bitch.

Yeah, I'm sorry I lost my temper yesterday.  You hit my hot button.  I'm sorry daddy got upset and I'm sorry I involved Jen.  But I'm not sorry you're upset.  You need to grow up.  You've done exactly as you please for most of your life, your parents have taken care of you all this time.  It's hard to be a grownup, I know.  And it's especially hard to become a grownup at 45.

But you reap what you sow.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ellen's,"Annie" and all that

Friday night I met Drew and his sister for a night of theater. 

Our evening began at Ellen's, the home of the singing waitstaff.  Drew and I love the place but his sister had never been there.  I do have a minor complaint -- if you sit upstairs you can hear the performers, but unless you sit along the balcony railing (we didn't) it's hard to see the singers except when they come upstairs.  And remind me to order my burger "medium" -- "medium rare"  was actually rare.

Then it was on to the theater.  We had tickets for Annie.

What can I say about Annie?  It's an iconic musical, especially for anyone who was a little girl when the show was brought to Broadway in the 70's, or anyone who has raised little girls since then. It's a show that's routinely chosen in elementary schools, middle schools and summer camps, dance schools recreate the choreography . . .

And did I mention that Becca actually auditioned for a role in the Broadway revival in the 1990's?  There was a time when she had an agent and did auditions. . .and auditions . . . But she never got cast in anything.

Loved this version of the show.  But . . .well . . .the choreography . . in all prior productions, the dance numbers were mostly tap, evocative of the 1930's and Shirley Temple and etc. In this production, the dance style is more Broadway/jazz.  Then everyone dons tap shoes for the finale.

Still, the show was wonderful.  Loved the political humor.  And we think that the composer, Charles Strauss, was sitting in front of Drew's sister, taking notes.

Last night Drew and I went back to the city, this time to Greenwich Village, to a little theater on St. Mark's Place to see a show called The Quantum Eye.  This is a performance by a mentalist named Sam Eaton.    Interesting how he is able to predict responses and read people. 

And then dinner at Wo Hop, another of our city staples.  Long line to get it, and a couple behind us whining so much I wanted to turn around and punch them.  They looked unhappy even after they sat down and were eating dinner.  Food was worth the wait, as usual.  I especially liked the steamed dumplings.

Another fun weekend in NYC.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ducks photos

We are the champions, my friend

So you know Drew and I are fans of the Long Island Ducks, our local Atlantic League baseball team. 

The league has two divisions.  The division winners play a best-of-five series to determine the league championship.  The Ducks won their division and played the Lancaster Barnstormers for the championship.  Tonight was game 5 of the championship series.

Drew's friend Joe has season tickets for the Ducks but couldn't use them.  So Drew and I found ourselves at Bethpage Park.  In weather more suited for football than baseball -- cold and damp. 

Very small crowd tonight, mostly die-hard Ducks fans.  And a very small group of Lancaster fans, I think they were related to the players.

Very exciting game.    The Ducks took an early lead and kept it for most of the game.  Then blew it in the top of the 9th, allowing the Barnstormers to tie it up 4-4.

Bottom of the 9th.  Two out, men on second and third . . .and they do a suicide squeeze!   And win the game.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Destino is Italian for destiny, fate. It is also a wonderful Italian restaurant. Drew snagged a Groupon for this place and we were looking for an occasion to try it. Usually when we eat in the city it's in conjunction with a show or event. Tonight we took the train into the city just to have dinner, then turned around and took another train home. Call us crazy, but dinner was worth it. It's a small restaurant but seems much larger because of the huge picture windows. There's an. . .interesting . . .mural painted on the ceiling. When you are seated at your table the waiter will hand you the wine list and cocktail menu. You don't see a dinner menu until after you've ordered drinks and have been served bread. You will also be offered a choice of regular or sparkling water. Our meal began with a glass of prosecco, a basket of bread and a plate of bruchetta. First time I've ever seen Drew eat anything with raw tomatoes. There is herb-flavored olive oil available if you want to dip your bread. The meatball appetizer turned out to be a single meatball the size of a man's fist, served with marinara sauce and freshly shaved parmesan. The baked clams consisted of six clams, each in its shell, dressed with bread crumbs and a light lemon sauce. No chopped clam and breadcrumb mixture here! I ordered veal franchese. This turned out to be three very tender veal medallions in delicate breading, served with an excellent lemon sauce. The dish was plated with sauteed broccoli on a roasted potato wedge. Veal marsala, similarly plated, was dressed with mushrooms and marsala wine. Portions here are relatively small, so we were able to finish our dinner and order dessert. Drew ordered cannoli- two small pastries with a creamy filling. My Italian cheesecake came with a berry sauce. Italian cheesecake isn't as dense, creamy or sweet as New York cheesecake, and probably would have benefited from a sweeter accompaniment. Coffee was a little on the strong side -- I actually added sugar to it, something I never do. Overall an excellent meal, worth the trip into the city. Destino - NYC on Urbanspoon

Cheeseburgers on a Friday night

What do you do on a Friday night when you're stressed out and tired? Lately for us the answer is "grab some take out, head home and watch tv." We love a good burger. I think "cheeseburger" is our default setting when we don't know what we want to eat. Jake's Wayback is just down the road from Drew's house, so we frequently wind up there. The place has the feel of an old fashioned hamburger stand. You place your order at the counter. If you are "dining in" they'll bring it to your table. They don't cook your burger until you've placed your order. The menu offers a variety of burgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc. Sides include fries (variations include cheese fries and chili fries), onion rings and their home made potato chips. Hand dipped shakes round out the offerings. There are monthly specials. This month's burger special is an order of sliders. I went for my usual, though -- a Jake's cheeseburger. That's two patties with cheese. I added bacon, ketchup, mayonnaise, grilled onions and mushrooms. I think the fries have been lackluster so I ordered onion rings. Stuck with diet Coke instead of a shake (but I plan to visit in December if they do the eggnog shake again!) Drew ordered a burger that was served on toasted bread instead of a bun, and he had no issue with the fries. Gorging on burgers and watching "Fringe". Yeah, a perfect Friday night. Jake's Wayback Burgers on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dead singers season redux

Remember I wrote about Dead Singers Season?

Andy Williams died last week.

Drew and I saw his Christmas show at Westbury Music fair a couple of times in the 80's.  He was wonderful.  He stopped touring in the early 90's, did his performing in Branson instead. 

I would have loved to have seen him in person one more time.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

cousin's bar mitzvah

So last weekend was my cousin's bar mitzvah.

This is a cousin on my father's side of the family.  My father's niece Myrna has four grandchildren, her daughter Devora has girl and a boy, and her daughter Buffy has a boy and a girl.  Three years ago we went to Devora's daughter's bat mitzvah.  Then it was Buffy's son's bar mitzvah (this was the kid whose bris was held the day David Wells pitched a perfect game at Yankee Stadium).  Last weekend was Devora's son's bar mitzvah, and Buffy's daughter's bat mitzvah will be in March 2013.

All those Hebrew school dollars paid off when Becca gave me a critque of the service and voiced her opinion of the Rabbi. ;-)

I had an OMG moment when I heard  that Devora sits on the board of her synagogue.  As you know, I'm on the board of my synagogue.  I hadn't thought of this before, but my grandfather -- her great grandfather -- was president of his congregation in Brooklyn and was a founding member of his synagogue on Long Island.  He died before I was born, but I have heard the stories.  I'd also forgotten that my father was very briefly involved in the board of our synagogue when I was  a child.  It never occurred to me that I was participating in a family tradition until that moment.

Another OMG moment was when my cousin Marcia told me her daughter Elyse, the special ed teacher, couldn't come to the bar mitzvah because she was choreographing her cheerleading team's competition routine.  Elyse and Jen seem to have a lot in common.

My daughters were gorgeous, of course.  Becca wore a yellow gold dress that made her feel like Belle in "Beauty and the Beast".  Jen wore a short, dark dress and purple shoes with 4-inch stilletto heels.  She looked so grown up!  You should have seen her doing the Wobble on the dance floor.  Becca thought the Wobble was "stupid", by the way.

The most bittersweet parents skipped the service and came to the party late, after cocktail hour was over.  Anything else would have overtaxed my father's strength, I think.  He walked into the room using his rollator walker.  This is the man who used to be the life of the party, on the dance floor the whole evening!  He did manage to dance a slow dance with my mother.

Now for the "meow" moment.  My sisters F and A dressed like teenagers.  I mean, really, they chose dresses that were "younger" than what my own daughters wore.  And the behavior!  My sisters have always been vivacious at parties, dancing, enjoying themselves, etc.  Nothing wrong with that.  But last weekend ...  It seems that Jen and Becca were flirting with the guy who ran the photo favor booth, and the guy who was airbrushing t-shirts for the 13 year old crowd.  Both of these guys were in their 20's.  So my daughters flirting with the uys was cute.  My sisters, on the other was sad, really.  Because it wasn't two 45 year old women flirting with younger men, it was two 45 year old women thinking they were 25 years old flirting with two men "their own age".

So anyhow, it was fun seeing the wedding, bar mitzvah and funeral crowd again.  And I hope to see them all in March!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Parking lot madness

Ah, the joys of commuting.

Remember how I've told you about interesting items I've seen in the parking lot? Cinderella's parking lot .   The commuter lot is shaped like an L, with a small shopping center nestled into the L.

today I arrived at the parking lot late, 10 minutes after my train had come and gone, and 20 minutes until the next train.I parked at the back of the lot, at the base of the L.  Thought I was alone until I heard loud, angry voices.

They were walking from the tracks towards the back of the lot, an older couple, arguing at the top of their voices.I think the "nicest" thing they called each other was "crackhead".At one point he grabbed her, and I thought he was going to hit her.  She got away from him and started to walk back towards the tracks via the shopping center parking lot, with him following.  Every so often she'd turn around and yell at him.

I decided to avoid the shopping center and walk through the commuter lot to the tracks.  she must have circled around the shopping center very quickly, because a few minutes later she was walking towards me from the direction of the tracks.  He was still following, of course.

Let me tell you, I was never so happy to reach the tracks as I was this morning!

By the way, The Mayor is still perching in his favorite seat in the first car.  But he's no longer holding court, or at least he wasn't very chatty this morning.  I guess the "quiet car" rules are being observed.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More crazy mixed up family stuff

My father is finally home from rehab, we hope for good.  I do not like the changes I see in him, though.  Physically he is weak and dependent.  He needs help getting up from the chair or the bed, he walks with a walker.  Although his stamina is much improved since the valve replacement, and he does the exercises he learned in physical therapy, a trip upstairs absolutely exhausts him, and most nights he sleeps on the bed in the living room.

More worrysome are the "new" symptoms.  Not entirely new, but . . .

Years ago he had serious issues with his eyes, and needed several surgeries to correct the problem.  One of those problems was macular degeneration. I think it's back.  He has moments when he cannot see what's in front of him.

And then there are the cognitive and language processing issues.  At first we wondered if the problem was that he simply couldn't hear, because he wasn't wearing his hearing aids.  Now the deficits are becoming more obvious.  He is still himself, at least for now.

I must give credit where it is due, my sisters F and A have taken on the responsibility of his cate and are doing a wonderful job of it.  It's become their full-time job.

'Bout time they took on some responsibility.

Meow, that was a bit harsh.

But well-deserved.

45 years old and they still live off their parents' income.  Never had to take on adult responsibility.

I mean, if they had actual lives, we would have had to hire someone to take care of my father.

But I am so very tired of being their punching bag.  The more unhappy they are the more they verbally abuse me.  I bite my tongue and don't engage, but oh how I want to smack them both in the face.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Sad about Jeff.

My supervisor at work.  And a really nice guy.

For the last few weeks Jeff seemed "off".  Not his usual vivacious self.  Tired.  Subdued.  We thought it was due to stress, lots of changes coming at work at not all of them good.

Then he went on a business trip with our coworker Joe.  Joe says Jeff was popping Advil like candy and actually took a bad fall.

And then he stopped coming to work.

He's in the hospital. He won't be back to the office for a very long time.

He has leukemia.

Cancer sucks.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A few pictures

From last night

So . . .how about those Mets?

So I took the #7 train to Citi Field.  I used to take the #7 to Shea all the time, but last night was the first time I took the subway to Citi Field.

Actually I shouldn't call it a"subway", the #7 is elevated throughout Queens.

Citi Field was built in Shea's parking lot, much closer to the subway station.  So when you arrive by subway the view of the stadium is overwhelming.

I had arranged to neet Drew and Marc "by the apple."  By this we meant the home run apple, the old one from Shea, that now sits outside Citi Field by the main gate.  The Citi Field home run apple is supposed to be much larger tgan the original.

Field seats meant we could enter through the Hodges gate instead of the rotunda, and gave us access to the club level -- which we didn't use.  our seats were in right field, 3 rows back from the grass.  Not bad for free tickets!

And we found the elusive hot dogs steamed in beer.  Note for next year -- try "Catch of the Day" restaurant.

The stadium is right near LaGuardia.  Usually the planes can been seen flying past the stadium,  but last night the planes were directly over the field -- and there were a lot of them!

Then there was the pleasant surprise.  I see a large group of high school student come out onto the field to sing the national anthem.  And the announcer says who they are -- the concert choir from my high school!  In my scool district there are two high schools -- I graduated from High School East, my sisters and my daughters graduated from High School West.  The singers were from High School East.  Oh, wow.

At the end of the fourth inning it was time for the kiss cam.  That's where the camera crew find couples in the stands and broadcast their pictures to the main screen over center field.  The couples are expected to kiss.

So I'm watching the kiss cam, and couples are kissing.  And then it happened.  My mind was just starting to register that that was MY FACE on the big screen when Drew grabbed me and kissed me.  First time in my life I've been kissed in front of such a large audience.

We were the last couple, so the camera lingered on us for awhile.  And then I got the giggles.

As for the game . . .after Thursday night's debacle against Philly, the guys redeemed themselves -- a good game, and they actually won.  First time this year I got to see the home run apple do its thing.

After the game we spent a few minutes in the museum/hall of fame (we'd never done that before) and in the team shop.

A typical night at the ballpark.

About halfway through the game it occurred ti me.  It's the anniversary.

Friday, September 21, 2001.  A game I watched on tv.  The NY Mets vs. the Atlanta Braves.  The Mets wearing the caps of NYC's first responders -- NYPD, FDNY and the like.   Mayor Guiliani, a devout Yankees fan, cheering for the Mets.  Liza Minelli singing "New York, New York." It's the first professional baseball game to be played in NY since the terrible events ten days ago, Ground Zero is smouldering and recovery efforts are ongoing.  And Mike Piazza becomes a hero with the stroke of the bat -- a come-from-behind, game-winning home run.  And we knew then that although things would never been the same, everything was going to be OK.

And 11 years later, an ordinary night in the park.  How wonderful is that?

Friday, September 21, 2012

The boys of summer -- Citi Field Redux

To celebrate the end of summer we are heading out to Citi Field tonight.

Yeah, I know, the Mets' playoff hopes died around the All Star break, and lately it seems as if the ghost of 1962 has ressurected itself every time they take  the field.

But the tickets are for field level seats.

And we got them for free.  Yes, free.

We'll go, have a couple of hot dogs . . .and leave early if we want without feeling guilty about how much we spent on admission.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Japanese fast food? Why not?

Tried a new place the other night. Sarku Japan. Japanese food in a fast-food format. I ordered a California roll, which was a bit dry. Also had the shrimp and vegetable tempura. The vegetables turned out to be three slices of sweet potato (not my favorite) and three slices of zucchini. Next time I'll stick with a side order of shrimp tempura. I tasted Drew's beef teriyaki. It was tender and flavorful. Drew ordered noodles and I had fried rice, which was pretty standard. This place will never replace our favorite Japanese restaurant, but the food was decent and was served fairly quickly. We'll be back. Sarku Japan on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rosh Ha Shanah

It will be a strange holiday, with my father a guest in his own home, leaving at the end of the evening to return to the rehab facility.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ever serve on a jury?

A few weeks ago I got a letter from the Commissioner of Jurors, asking me to fill out an eligibility questionaire.  Lawyers are not exempt from jury service, so I anticipate receiving a summons to jury duty in the near future.

I have never served on a jury.  Closest I came was about 14 years ago.  I was on telephone standby for two weeks, until the very last day, when I had to go to court.  The court clerk called out 23 names, and we were sent to an empanelling room with a group of about 4 - 5 lawyers.

Voir dire is the term we use when lawyers question potential jurors to see who they want on the jury.  During voir dire the lawyers get to tell the potential jurors a little bit about the case.

The process is to put six people in the jury box and speak to them.  As one potential juror is dimissed, another potential juror takes a seat in the box.  Usually those who haven't been interviewed sit in the seats used by the audience and listen to the proceedings.

My name wasn't called until the lawyers had picked six jurors and now needed to select two alternates.  So I had been listening to the voir dire for several hours before my interview began.

I knew I wasn't going to be chosen.  The case involved a multi-car accident.    One of the drivers lived in the same town where I reside.  The accident took place in an intersection I can describe from memory.  And the plaintiff's attorney kept asking each potential juror " Do you know anyone who works in property and casualty insurance?"

So the plaintiff's attorney begins his questioning -- what's my name, where do I luve, do I work outside the home?  Fourth question is "What do you do for a living?"

As soon as I said "I'm an attorney with a property and casualty insurance company ", the lawyer's face went white, and his jaw dropped almost all the way to the floor.  He turned to the other attorneys and said one word: "Cause?"

Within a few seconds I'd been dismissed.

Life is short, eat dessert first

People who know me understand that I usually mean this as a metaphor for making sure you make time to enjoy yourself.

I mean, I love cake and ice cream and etc.  But I also enjoy my meals.  And if you read my restaurant reviews you know I seldom order desserts in a restaurant.

But yesterday...

My company leases space from a realty conglomerate.   Once a year the landlord has a "tenant appreciation day.". There's a party in the parking lot of one of their buildings, with live music and a handful of carnival games. Retail tenants have tables set up to advertise their businesses.  Every employee of every tenant gets a ticket for a free ice cream.

So I went over at lunchtime and got my ice cream,  a small cup of Ben and Jerry's.  Then I began to explore.   One restaurant was giving out small cups of pasta and small slices of pizza.  Another had small portions of wraps.  Someone else was offering free drinks.  Free lunch.

There's an Amish farmer who sets up a stand every Wednesday.   As I was leaving the party I stopped to make a few purchases from him.

Not a bad way to spend lunch hour.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Penn Station, Amtrak level 9/11/12

It's a beautiful Tuesday morning here in NY

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning 11 years ago today.

Never forget.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The dark and scary place revisited

So it turns out that the pathologist was wrong.  When I went back to the dermatologist she told me that her clinical observations of my nose did not match up to what was in the report.  She did a second biopsy of my nose.  It's benign.

As for my neck . . .the plastic surgeon removed the mole on my neck -- I've got 6 stitches (engendering jokes about getting my head sewn on straight).   He thinks the pathology report will be good, most of the moles ge remives are harmless.  It's the potential for it turning into something more serious down the road that concerns him.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And she's hired

The current varsity coach, Maddie, was a senior and captain of the varsity squad when Jen was on JV.  So of course she wanted Jen and Kristen (who was on the team too) to coach JV. 

And the principal loves Jen and Kristen.

And Jen already hit me up for $$ - team fundraiser for new uniforms.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Cheeleading is back

So Jen's babysitting job fell through.   Now she's meeting with the principal of her high school today.   She's looking to be hired as a coach for the cheer team.  . .

Friday, August 31, 2012

Peace, love and crabs

One day last spring Drew called me at work and told me about a seafood place he wanted to try. A couple of friends overheard the conversation and told me "OMG you HAVE to go there!" Tonight we finally did. You walk into the restaurant and the first thing you notice are the staff t shirts -- ti dyed, with peace signs on the front and "peace, love and crabs" on the back. You can buy a shirt if you desire. The music is very loud (this is not a place for quiet conversation!) and periodically the staff will drop what they're doing to line dance. A wall of "surfboards" separates the bar from the main dining room. As my friend Maureen said, it's got a Jimmy Buffett-like spirit. We had a coupon for a free appetizer, so we started our meal with a bucket of shrimp -- peel and eat shrimp in a spicy rub. Nice afterburn. The star of the menu is the steam pot. A little pricey but worth it. Mine came with a whole lobster, two crab legs, half a dozen shrimp, an ear of corn and two potatoes, and a sausage, all seasoned with Old Bay. There are many combinations of shellfish and seasonings for the steampot, as well as less messy offerings,including fried shrimp, burgers, salads, even steaks. For dessert I had a huge slab of key lime pie. Very refreshing and very shareable. Let's get cracking . . . Joe's Crab Shack on Urbanspoon

Long Island, Land of 1,000 Cheeseburgers

So said Jimmy Buffett last night at Jones Beach.

A Jimmy Buffett concert isn't just a concert.   It's an experience.

First of all there's the tailgating.   My first Buffett concert was at Madison Square Garden, where there was no place to tailgate.   But at Jones Beach they fill up two parking lots and party all day.  They wear crazy tropical gear, they set up grills and tiki bars and etc.  They break about a dozen park rules in the process.

Tailgating was a problem for us last year.  When we arrived at the concert both lots near the theater were closed and we had to park in an unlit lot a mile down the road.  This year I paid extra for preferred parking and we had no problem.   But Drew in incensed at the rule breaking ("they roped off 16 spot for their party!").  He worked at the park for many years.  . .  Personally I think that they should set up camp on the beach-- Jones Beach is a wonderful beach, and why would you want to be on the hot asphalt when you could be on the sand and actually see the ocean?

So we got to the park around 5:00, parked, and wandered through the tailgating Parrothead encampment for awhile.

Eventually we found our way over to Zach's Bay.  This is a small beach area right near the theater that is currently closed to the public.  I remember wading in the water here years ago before a concert.  Now you'd have to walk over to the ocean beach.  . .

Eventually we made our way inside the theater, bought some dinner at the clam shack and found our way to our seats for the party.  . .er, concert.  Yes, the concert is like a huge beach party.

I discovered Buffett 3 years ago, as we were planning our Caribbean cruise.  So I associate his songs with our Caribbean adventure.   And his stage persona.  . .it's like hanging out with an old friend.   There are 8 songs he plays at every concert, the rest of the program changes with his mood.  Highlights of last night include an acoustic version of Southern Cross, a cover of Lionel Ritchie's All Night Long and new Long Island lyrics for Margaritaville.

And he ended with Lovely Cruise.   An omen for our upcoming cruise?

The cheeseburger comment came just before he sang Cheeseburger in Paradise.  And I have to agree.

And Drew and I have eaten hundreds of Long Island cheeseburgers.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

It's "brag on my children" day

Becca first.  Starting her junior year of college.  Moved into an apartment with two other students.  Will start on internship with the office of a major political figure (I won't say who) right after Labor Day.

Jen just started a job as a teaching assistant in a local preschool.  It's a synagogue preschool (who knew her Hebrew school education would make her employable?).  She only works mornings, so in the afternoon she will take on a babysitting job witg school-age children.  And she plans to start grad school in tge spring to work on her teaching credentials.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

LOL moment at the Renaissance Faire

This year the storyline included the "Pan Scandinavian Games".  The jousting and living chessboard were part of the "games".

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Renaissance Faire Washing Well Wenches

Renaissance Faire Dead Bob

A ventriloquist?

Hey Nunnie Nunnie

Renaissance Faire- the Living Chess Game

Renaissance Faire-the Queen signs a peace treaty

Renaissance Faire - Stewart and Arnold and Hey Nunnie Nunnie

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