life in and around NYC is insane
Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
The 2008 posts:
The 2009 trip:
The 2010 posts:
No trip into the city in 2011 -- that was the year I was under the weather all month.
And last year's post -- no photos, but a good description:
We took the train to Penn Station (32nd and 7th), and that's where our adventure began.
Lovely shot of the empire State building:
Our first stop -- the windows at Macy's. Macy's always does two sets of windows. This year the 34th Street windows featured a "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus" display -- Macy's sponsored the animated show on TV a few years ago. It's cute, but honestly, the "Miracle on 34th Street" display, which saluted the original move, was a better set of windows. The Herald Square windows had a fluffy bit of froth about dreams and believing. Very nice.
Fortified with hot dogs from a street vendor, we walked over to 5th Avenue. Lord & Taylor did lovely windows, all about high fashion in years gone by.
At the tail end of the windows line, you could pose for a photo, and then retrieve the photo via text message. Of course we did.
Continuing up 5th, we arrived at 42nd Street -- the New York Public Library and Bryant Park. This time of year the Library Lions -- Patience and Fortitude -- wear holiday wreaths. Behind the library, there's an ice rink and shopping village in the park, and of course a beautiful Christmas tree. Sort of a foretaste of what to expect a few blocks further uptown.
Stopped at a deli for a cup of coffee, then headed to Rockefeller Center, otherwise known as the heart of Christmas in NYC. First up were the windows at Saks, which feature their Yeti character in an adventure to discover his artistic talent -- which includes a ride on a NYC subway.
Then across the street, where angels and toy soldiers line the path to the big tree. Topped with a Swarovski crystal star, it towers over the ice rink. And don't forget to walk across the street, where the folks from Swarovski have an older version of the star on display.
(And FYI there are public restrooms on the concourse under Rockefeller Center, should the need arise.)
Next, we walked over the Madison Avenue, and up to 6oth St. to see the windows at Barney's. This was a display of crystal forms and their reaction to light -- to see the main window, you have to walk into a tent. They also have a window called "sleigh ride", where performers interact with the crowd. The light show was good, the interactive performance was neither clever nor funny. Not my favorite.
Next it was back to 5th Avenue, where a huge snowflake hangs over 59th Street.
The windows at Bergdorf Goodman salute holidays throughout the year.
And Henri Bendel has a tribute to the caricatures of Al Hirshfeld.
We walked back down to Rockefeller Center. By now it was dark, so we were able to see the light show on the side of the Saks building. Yes, every few minutes Saks projects a show onto the side of their building, featuring snowflakes and the Yeti. The show this year is much shorter, really not worth the effort unless you've never seen it before. And 5th Avenue gets very very crowded with people watching the show.
Took the subway from Rockefeller Center to Canal Street. Time to revisit an old favorite, Wo Hop. Anyone who "knows" understands that for the real experience you must go to Wo Hop in the basement at 17 Mott St., that the street level restaurant at 15 Mott is simply not as good. You wait on line outside, on the steps, until a table becomes available. The room is small and very crowded, very no frills. The walls are decorated with dollar bills and photos of celebrities who have visited for the food. the menu is strictly a la carte, everything except tea must be ordered from the menu.
We started with soup. I ordered won ton soup, Drew got the won ton egg drop. A small bowl of soup comes with five won tons, can't imagine what a large bowl is like. Steamed dumplings -- most places serve the sauce on the side, but here the delicate dumplings are plated with the sauce. 4D lo mein -- Drew's "go-to" comes with beef, chicken, shrimp and pork as well as vegetables -- piled so high that you can't seen the noodles beneath. And the lemon chicken -- three fried cutlets in an incredible lemon sauce -- was simply the best I've had in ages.
We did a lot of walking. And I do mean a lot. Given my age, weight, medical issues and lack of activity, it's no wonder I was limping by the end of the day.
And today I am in pain! Seriously, all of my muscles hurt as if I'd run a marathon.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
What do Jews do on Christmas? We go to the movies and eat Chinese food, of course.
If it's good enough for Justice Kagan, it's good enough for me.
Yesterday Drew, and I and our friend Flo went to the movies. First show of the day, reduced admission costs, popcorn for breakfast.
We saw American Hustle. Set in 1978, it's a fictionalized version of the ABSCAM scandal. It's an interesting story of manipulation and moral ambiguity. I barely remembered the scandal, had to Google it. Political corruption at its "best" -- the scam netted a mayor, several congressmen and even a US Senator. Loved the nostalgia, the fashions and music of the 70's.
Later, a group of us went to dinner at Jani. I'd never been to the Hicksville location before, though I've enjoyed numerous meals at the Wantagh and South Huntington locations. This location is relatively small in comparison to their other restaurants, they actually had to open the party room to regular diners last night to accommodate the crowd. Service was flawless, with a minor exception -- at the end of the meal the server neglected to ask if we wanted dessert before bringing us the bill. But I seldom order dessert, and we had no interest in it last night.
Our meal was what we've come to expect from Jani. Boneless ribs were succulent, steamed chicken dumplings were delicate and the sauce accompanying them was rich and flavorful. Our favorite shrimp with honey walnuts, sliced pork with vegetables. The most interesting dish was three-flavor chicken, three different chicken dishes on the same platter. Mu shu beef was ok, but next time I'll stick with the Peking beef -- similar dish, the strong flavor of hoisin sauce, but the Peking beef has more meat and fewer vegetables. House special fried rice had a little bit of everything in it. Food was hot, flavorful and filling -- four main dishes and the rice were enough for 5 people, with very little left over.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
So we were driving through Hicksville (yes, that is a real town, you can look it up) and Drew said to me "There's a house you should see."
The house is in a side street, just off the main road. Every conceivable space on the walls and the roof is covered in a variety of lights, multicolored and blinking beautifully. Every inch of the lawn is covered in figures -- Santa, reindeer, snowmen. It is gorgeous. Over the top.
And then there's the house next door. Simple display of white lights formed into an arrow. And next to the arrow, a single word:
Monday, December 23, 2013
Local movie theater has a program called "Silver Screen". For a small fee you get a classic movie, popcorn and soda.
Today we saw It's A Wonderful Life.
A Frank Capra classic. Jimmy Stewart. Donna Reed. Lionel Barrymore. A story that always makes me cry -- and in a theater full of people the emotional intensity is magnified.
And when you see a classic on the big screen, you are bound to notice details you can easily miss on TV.
The themes resonate even today.
A wonderful film, well worth the $2.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
We've been to the Deer Park location many times, but had never been to the Hicksville location.this location is at the Broadway Mall, but the only access is from the parking lot. Which may explain why is was fairly empty at 8:30 PM on the Friday before Christmas.
It's like walking into a hamburger joint or ice cream shop circa 1962. Red and white decor, Coke posters from way back then, servers wearing crisp white "soda jerk" hats, "oldies" music piped in.
The chain's slogan is "The Original Hamburger", so it should come as no surprise that the menu features burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches, but they also serve salads. And shakes and floats are prominently featured.
I ordered the Route 66, a burger with Swiss cheese, grilled onions and grilled mushrooms. Very juicy burger, keep the napkins close to you. Drew ordered the Philly cheese steak, a huge helping of steak with grilled onions and your choice of cheese. Fries were crisp and tasty. And the server gave us each a smilie face make of ketchup -- a trademark of this chain. Heaven.
Yes, this chain is definitely on our "keeper" list.
Like somethin' is brewin' and bout to begin.
Can't put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what's to happen all happened before.
I was four years old and it was the very first time I went to a real theater, and of course it was the fabulous Mary Poppins that my father took me to see. So of course when heard about the movie Saving Mr. Banks it immediately went on my "must see" list.
We saw it Friday night, and it did not disappoint.
This is very much a Disney movie, but it is not a movie for children. The focus of the movie is on P.L. Travers, her traumatic childhood in Australia, and her relationships with Walt Disney and the Sherman Brothers. The movie explores dark themes about childhood traumas and how they make us what we are as adults.
But it's told within the framework of the two weeks Travers came to California to meet with Disney and develop Mary Poppins as a film. So there is Tom Hanks doing a credible portrayal of Uncle Walt, just as those of us old enough to have seen him on TV remember him. And there are the Sherman Brothers, Richard and Robert, singing the wonderful music they wrote for the film.And there is Disneyland, circa 1961, with Sleeping Beauty's Castle and costumed cast members. And we even get a few film clips from the project. What a marvelous trip into our Disney past.
And if Colin Farrel doesn't make you cry by the end of this movie, you are not human.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I hold several licenses related to my employment. My licenses have continuing education requirements. NY employer periodically arranges all day symposiums to help us meet those requirements.
Today's session was set for 9:10 AM at our corporate headquarters in the Wall Street area. My plan was to get to the office by 8:45, choose my seat and get my coffee well in advance of the start time.
Famous last words.
My plan was to catch either the 7:16 toi Brooklyn or the 7:21 to Penn Station and the take a subway to Wall Street.
Got to the station just as a train was leaving. Thought it was the 7:16. Turns out it was the 7:08, running late.
Turns out the 7:16 has been cancelled and the 7:21 will make extra stops to accommodate those passengers - the Brooklyn train is a local and the NY train runs as an express, so our ride will take an extra 10 - 15 minutes. And the 7:21 is running 15 minutes late.
And the train is going to be super crowded, so I anticipated standing all the way to Penn.
Well, the transit gods were kind to me. Despite the crowded conditions I got a seat on the train. Didn't have to wait for the subway and actually got a seat. Arrived at our offices at 9:15 and to the classroom by 9:18.
And the class hadn't started yet! Technical issues. Had time to find a seat and get my coffee before the lecture began.
As long as it ended well . . .
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Our visit in 2010 -- http://songbirdscrazyworld.blogspot.com/2010/12/christmas-in-nyc_12.html
and last year's --
Monday, December 16, 2013
Today I had to drop one of my new-found "friends". The blogger wrote something that really got under my skin. I wrote a response in the comments section, which she apparently did not take well -- within 15 minutes or so of my posting the comment, she posted another entry in her blog, addressing my comment.
I don't really want to get into a battle with her, so I deleted her blog from my news feed.
I've only been reading her blog a few short weeks, but I feel like I just dropped a friend.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Saturday, December 14, 2013
This time it's Drew's uncle Marvin, his father's younger brother.
I've mentioned some of the issues before.
Marvin is 87 years old. He and his wife never had children. Several years ago, after his wife died, Marvin moved in with Drew's sister Shelley. Shelley needed a roommate, someone to pay rent and utilities. Shelley is not the type to be caring for an elderly relative. And that was fine when Marvin was still relative healthy, still employed and still independent. Neither she nor Marvin has a lot of money, but together they could manage the rent and utilities on the house. Shelley cannot manage the rent without a roommate.
But in the last two years Marvin's health has deteriorated considerably. He's been in and out of the hospital and rehab several times. He probably should be in assisted living.
Adult Protective Services has been involved since last summer.
Last summer APS concerned about Marvin's physical well-being. Shelley has been renting that house for many years, and she turned it into something out of an episode of Hoarders. She wouldn't call the landlord to make repairs, because if he saw the mess he would want to evict her. Until APS showed up last August, along with officials from the town, and made her clean up the mess and take her menagerie to the vet to be checked out.
And she was mad at Marvin because he apparently said something to a doctor or nurse to trigger the interest of APS.
Last week Shelley told Drew that APS took over Marvin's finances. Shelley had been handling the money under a Power of Attorney, but apparently someone at APS didn't like what they heard when they asked Shelley to account for Marvin's money.
I found out today that Marvin is back in the hospital. Shelley posted it on Facebook, she didn't bother to call Drew to let him know.
Right now Drew is glad APS, a neutral third party, is involved, because he's worried about Marvin but he doesn't want to be confrontational with Shelley.
This is not going to end well.
I discovered Tolkien when I was in high school. The Hobbit, a lighthearted fantasy, a pure adventure story. And then the Rings trilogy, a dark, tragic story with roots in Norse mythology, a serious story with all the elements of a classic epic journey. Even though the books take place in the sane akternate universe and involve some of the same characters, it's hard to see a real connection.
So I couldn't help but wonder how they were going to stretch The Hobbit, this light, fluffy novel, into three movies.
The answer, of course, is to add subplots and back story, to make the tale of Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves a true prequel to the Rings trilogy.
Last night we saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. This is the second installment of the trilogy, and while it drags a bit in places, it serves as a very interesting "bridge". We get to meet Legolas, we get to meet the dragon Smaug up close and personal, we see Bikbo use the Ring, and we get our first real taste of . . .of where Gandalf goes when he's not with Hobbits and Dwarves.
The special effects are amazing, and benefit from the IMAX 3D treatment. And the ending is a real cliffhanger -- Drew actually gasped and said "No, they can't end it here."
Afterwards we wound up at Denny's. It was only fitting -- Denny's brought back their "Hobbit" menu for the occasion.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Can I just say that I love Ben Stiller?
Drew received an offer for two tickets to a sneak preview of Walter Mitty, which opens Christmas Day.
Loosely based on the James Thurber short story, but very different from the 1947 Danny Kaye movie, this version tells the story of an employee of Life magazine who leads a very boring life, and who "zones out" while experiencing rich fantasies. Everything changes when he loses the negative for the photo destined to grace the final cover of the magazine before it shuts down.
I'm not going to say any more, except that the movie is both humorous and heartwarming, and that I knew where the plot was going before it got there. Definitely worth seeing.
Monday, December 9, 2013
We were fortunate to see Holbrook in this show at the Tilles Center last weekend. What an amazing performance. Holbrook performs for two hours, sharing Twain's opinions on Congress, the monarchs of Wall Street, organized religion, science, evolution, the condition of mankind... His opinions are surprisingly modern.
Wonderful performance. Interesting show.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Say that to any Long Islander, and they know what you mean. Point your car to the intersection of Long Island Avenue and Wellwood Avenue, in Farmingdale. You will find a small, seldom-used railroad station surrounded by ... Pinelawn Memorial Park, the Long Island National Cemetery, St. Charles Cemetery, New Montefiori Cemetery...
It was rainy and cold on Friday, when our little group gathered together. Our destination was the National Cemetery. Drew's father was never one for religious ceremony, but his service in the United States Army during World War II was something he held dear. And so Drew chose the National Cemetery as his parents' final resting place. It was a simple funeral, 14 of us gathered beneath a canopy near the columbarium. The honor guard, two soldiers in dress uniform, played taps, and folded up a flag to present to the family. Then each of us spoke a few words about Drew's father and mother. And then the funeral director placed the ashes in a niche, and it was over.
It was, as Drew said, exactly what his father would have wanted.
The story involves a friend of a friend. Let's call her R. She is an older woman, never married, socially conservative. You might say straight-laced. Very old school. R lives alone. Her brother J and his family live in the house next door. J is retired from a position in law enforcement. Over the years R has come to depend on her brother J for many things.
So when it came time to decorate for Christmas, of course J did R's front yard as well as his own. R notices that one of the inflatables, a Santa figure, is facing the house. She doesn't know why Santa is facing the wrong direction, but she figures J will fix it eventually, and she doesn't give it any more thought.
But she starts to notice that all the cars in the neighborhood stop in front of her house to gawk at her decorations. Not admire, gawk. So one day she's outside, and someone stops to look at the lawn decor. So she asks him, "why is everyone staring at my decorations?"
And he says "It's because of Santa."
"Santa? what about Santa?"
And he points out to her that Santa has his back to the street.
He has his back to the street for a reason.
The reason is, he's mooning.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Thursday, December 5, 2013
The lure of felafel could not be overcome.
This is a storefront, meant primarily for take-out, with a handful of tables if you choose to eat there.
The felafel sandwich is very filling, no need for a side dish. Felafel was light and crisp, salad was fresh, pita was soft and warm. Next time, though, I will have to ask for extra tahini -- there simply wasn't enough on this sandwich. Broccoli cheddar soup was thin, not creamy, and had large chunks of broccoli. Not bad but not memorable either.
They also serve souvlaki, burgers, etc. Hummis sounded tempting.
It's no Souvlaki Palace. But it's a nice place to grab a bite when Greece starts calling your name.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I am a woman of many talents. I play many roles -- mother, daughter, lover, friend, employee, volunteer.
But the most important function of all?
I know how to open a can of Fancy Feast cat food.
Or, at least, that's the thinking of three of my admirers.
Three feline admirers, as you might have guessed.
Mr. Kitty and Redford have a lot of people who feed them and take care of them. It's no wonder they expect food from me, I've fed them often enough.
But Duchess? She's a kitten. She's Drew's kitten. When he first brought her home I didn't want to feed her because I wanted her to bond with Drew.
But last weekend I gave her a can of Fancy Feast.
And now the little demon asks me to feed her. She wraps herself around my ankles as if to say "Welcome to the staff."
What can I say? I live to serve.
Repeat that address to any Long Islander of a certain age, and we immediately know what you are talking about.
It was the Amityville Horror, the scene of a vicious murder and a famous haunting.
On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed his parents and four siblings. The DeFeo family had lived in the house on Ocean Avenue since 1965.
George and Kathy Lutz purchased the house and moved in in December 1975 and lived there for 28 days, claiming they were driven out by paranormal activity in the house. In 1977 they published a book, and in 1979 that book became a movie.
Swarms of flies. Glowing red eyes. Greenish-black slime on the stairs. Pig-like demons. Native American burial grounds. Scary stuff.
Was their tale real, or was it a hoax? I don't think anyone really cared.
And hordes of curious teenagers came down Ocean Avenue to gawk. A quiet, dead-end street in a quiet suburban town became an impromptu tourist attraction.
It got so bad that the owners remodeled the house, altering its distinctive Dutch Colonial style, and even asked the local government to change the house number.
I never went to gawk. Nope, not me. Never. Absolutely not.
Well, that's not quite true....
The movie was remade in 2005. Jen was 14 at the time, and really into horror movies. And one day we found ourselves in Amityville. She asked me to drive down Ocean Avenue. And she is convinced she knew which house was the "horror house".
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
From July 1976 through August 1977, he terrorized the City and its suburbs. He was preying on girls with long, dark hair, mostly in lover's lanes. He was known as the .44 caliber killer for the type of gun he used to shoot and kill his victims. Later, in letters left at the various crime scenes and sent to Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin, he referred to himself as "the Son of Sam." His ramblings were psychotic, but his aim was deadly. He killed six and wounded many others, all on the orders of the voices in his head, which he attributed to his neighbor Sam's black Labrador. He was caught because of something so simple as a parking ticket, which put him and his car in the vicinity of the last shooting. Ultimately he pled guilty and was sentenced to six life sentences...
I was 17 in the summer of 1977, going out with boys who actually had cars and were able to drive on our dates. Although all the shootings had been within the five boroughs, our parents were terrified that the shooter would make his way to Long Island, and cautioned us against "parking". Of course we "parked" anyhow, but the idea of the shooter out there lent an element of excitement to our encounters.
We never expected to become victims of the Son of Sam, but we scared each other with stories, with urban legends. Even after his capture, we told tales about how his next target was supposed to be in our Long Island neighborhood...
It kept us scared, at least until September, when we became distracted by another horror -- a book called The Amityville Horror ... but that's a tale for another day ...
Monday, December 2, 2013
My favorite here is the chicken souvlaki, huge chunks of grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato and onions in a warm, soft pita, served with traditional tzatziki. Chicken gyro is also excellent. Greek salad is huge and easily shareable. Lamb souvlaki is tender and flavorful.
We don't usually order dessert, but while I was waiting at the counter for my order I saw the waitress serve up a couple of rich and creamy Greek specialties that almost made me change my mind.
Staff is efficient and caring. The older gentleman behind the counter -- I believe he's the owner -- actually apologized to me because I had to wait for my food, even though my having to wait was my own doing, not the restaurant's fault.
Yes, definitely one of the best.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
The evening started at Matteo's. We'd eaten at the Matteo's in Huntington awhile back and really liked it, and thought the Bellmore location would be good, too. We were not disappointed. Food is served "family style", sort of. A half order serves one, a full order can be shared by two.
We started with caprese salad -- fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Not bad, but I'm sure it will be better in summer with vine-ripened tomatoes. Fried calamari was light and crisp and not chewy. Veal franchese was tender and sauce was tart without being overpowering. Pasta was perfectly cooked. Marinara sauce had whole cloves of garlic -- yummy.
And I seem to be on a dessert kick -- got talked into ordering tortoni, creamy vanilla ice cream topped with toasted coconut.
And then it was on to the Tilles Center for a performance by Manheim Steamroller. I alwats liked this group but wasn't really a fan. Drew wanted to see the show, so we went. Abd it was a nice evening of music. Baroque crossed with jazz crossed with New Age. The huge video screen behind the live musicians can show abstract patterns or bring you to a medieval banquet hall, a WW I battlefield or a Christmas-decorated living room where the toys come alive.
A nice evening out.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Once again we had the rodizio. Loved every juicy bite of the meat, enjoyed the sides.
But what really impressed me: dessert
I seldom eat dessert, but since others at the table chose to order . . .
I tried something called natas-do-ceu, which the menu translates as "Heavenly Whites" but is more commonly known as "heavenly cream". And aptly named. This incredible concoction was served in a parfait glass. The scrumptious white cream --the waiter said it was heavy cream whipped with egg whites -- was layered with cookie crumbs and I think there may have been a touch of cinnamon. Light and sweet but not cloying, a perfect ending after such a robust meat meal.
We were talking about Social Security, and how those of us working now are paying the benefits of current recipients, and how our benefits will be paid for by our children,
And one of the women said something about "the kids today don't really work."
How lucky I am to be able to brag on my kids, who want to work hard and who are lucky enough to find appropriate jobs.
Jen, of course, has always known she wants to work with children. She has always worked with kids -- day camp jobs, volunteering with Jump Start, work study as a teaching assistant in an elementary school, then a full time job as a teaching assistant in a nursery school, and now a paraprofessional in an elementary school. When she finally finishes her Master's and gets her teaching credentials, she will have logged many hours in a classroom.
Jen had a job in retail once. Christmas help at a clothing store in the mall. She HATED it.
Becca, on the other hand, hated her job at day camp. She loved being a camper and thought working at the camp would be fun. But it wasn't. Working at retail clothing stores, now . . .well, she always had an eye for fashion. And the ability to sell snow-cones at the North Pole. She's worked at one store or another whenever she's home from college, and she loves it.
Becca still doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up -- she graduates in May. But she's had some interesting experiences that will look fantastic on a resume. She's a political science major. She interned for a Senator, in an auction house and at a public relations firm. And in the spring she'll be at the sales department/corporate headquarters of a fashion designer. Considering her retail experience, it sounds like a job she will enjoy.
I don't know where Becca is going, but I know she will be successful at whatever she chooses to do.
Friday, November 29, 2013
And I found something interesting on the CBS News website.
Two interesting items, actually.
First was the website's coverage of Kennedy's death. They live-streamed the 1963 broadcast in real time.
In this post-CNN world, we are used to 24 hour coverage of the news. And when something horrible happens, like 9/11 or Dandy Hook, we know that our TV networks will drop everything and stay with the story. And they know how to cover such a story.
Watching parts of the CBS broadcast from 50 years ago...they knew they had to be on the air, but it looked like they were inventing the media as they went along. Cronkite in the news room instead of at his anchor desk so that he could receive and read printed bulletins as they came off the wire. Telephones ringing in the background. Reporters telling what they'd seen on the streets of New York...And everyone so formal -- "The President's mother, Mrs. Rose Kennedy....the President's ailing father, Mr. Joseph Kennedy..."
And during the funeral procession, they just ran the cameras, with no commentary. today the anchor would have blathered on and on...
And in the Cathedral, they did have comentary -- because the mass was in Latin. Pre-Vatican II.
(And if you go to YouTube you can find the complete NBC broadcast, with Frank McGee announcing the President's death by repeating information he was hearing on the telephone.)
And the other interesting item? CBS News' Twitter feed, of course. They were tweeting the assassination news in real time, as if it were 50 years ago. It looked so real, even had links to stories on the website. ...in the 21st century we get our news from the internet and the media. We don't have to wait for the newspaper to arrive.
Can you honestly believe this?
Rather, reporting from Dallas: Mrs. Kennedy maintained her composure until she saw her husband's body http://cbsn.ws/1fj3Ttm
Of course, as the weekend progressed, the real news took over the Twitter feed, but they continued to tweet about JFK as well.
As a student of history I found this all so very fascinating.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
As I understand it, I am now supposed to answer a few personal questions, then choose other blogs I wish to honor, and give them a set of questions to answer.
here are the questions Nora posed, and my answers.
1) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Hard to answer. I'm from Long Island, I'd love to live in Manhattan. But I can also see myself in Florida. I've never been to Israel, but I think living in Tel Aviv would be interesting. London could be fun. Lots of places ...
2) What is one think you miss about being a kid?
The feeling that no matter what happened, my parents could make everything all right again.
3) Who is your favorite actor or actress?
4) What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Not to worry about what other people think, just do what makes you happy.
4) Are there any foods you’ve never had but would like to?
I think I'd like to try a turducken. The idea of a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey sounds weirdly fascinating.
5) What is one possession or object that make you happy?
My tablet. It's both practical and fun. Keeps my calendar and other data. Holds my music, my nook books, games, etc.
6) Do you believe in soul mates?
I don't know. It seems that some people are just meant to be together. Drew and I have a weird history that kind of proves it. We've broken up and gotten back together over and over again.
7) What countries have you traveled to?
Canada, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, Cayman Islands, St. Maarten/St. Martin, Turks and Caicos. I've also been to two US overseas territories -- the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
8) What are you scared of?
Lots of things, really. If you want me to name just one, well, that something awful happens to one of my daughters.
9) What is your favorite meal of the day?
Dinner. It's the most social meal of the day.
10) Are you a dog person or cat person?
Both, I guess. though lately there haven't been any canines in my life. And I really find cats interesting.
11) Do you believe in luck?
Hard to say. I wish I could just brew some "liquid luck" like they did in Harry Potter, but I think for the most part you have to make your own luck by creating opportunity.
So now I get to choose my own nominees:
If change is good I'm fantastic
Little bits of Pixie Dust
The view from my fishbowl
Ranting and Raving
And here are your questions, nominees:
1. If you could do any job in the world, what job would you choose?
2. What was your favorite TV show as a child?
3. Why do you blog?
4. What is your favorite holiday?
5. Is there a country you haven't visited but would like to?
6. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
7. What's your favorite food?
8. What's one food everyone likes that you hate?
9. Who is your favorite singer or band?
10. Invite three people, living or dead, to dinner -- who would they be?
11. Do you believe in True Love?
Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday. The fourth Thursday of November. A day of parades, football, family gatherings and turkey. Pilgrims and Indians. The unofficial start of the holiday season.
Hanukkah, a minor Jewish holiday, a festival of freedom (Definition of a Jewish holiday: they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat.) Candles in the menorah, latkes, dreidels, jelly donuts, presents, family gatherings. Judah Maccabee and the miracle of the oil.
Hanukkah is an 8 day holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. Because the Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar, Hanukkah can begin as early as the last week of November or as late as the end of December, or any time in between.
In 2013, on November 28, the first day of Hanukkah and the American holiday of Thanksgiving will coincide for only the second time since Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday by President Abraham Lincoln. The last time was 1888, and the next time will be in the year 79,043. Though according to Chabad, in the year 2070, we wil light the first Hannukah candle on Thanksgiving eve -- the Jewish holiday will begin as the American holiday ends.
So how will we celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime convergence of the holidays?
With a menurkey, of course. A menorah shaped like a turkey.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
It was the 1980's, and talk radio was becoming popular. And on Sunday nights -- late, late on Sunday nights -- there was a show. Sexually Speaking with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. A little old lady, a Jewish mother with a hauntingly familiar accent, was dispensing sexual advice. Well, of course we sniggered. But then, we listened. And we learned.
We heard her on the radio, we saw her on tv. Only 4'7", she was warm, friendly, humorous, willing to poke fun at her own image. A very recognizable personality throughout the 80's and 90's.
But it wasn't until later, when she was promoting her book on grandparenting, and I heard her being interviewed on the radio . . .I heard her talking about her grandchildren with the delight any Jewish grandmother has, and then she said something chilling: "Hitler didn't want me to have grandchildren."
Dr. Ruth is a Holocaust survivor. She was born in Germany, at age 10 she was sent to a Swiss orphanage in the aftermath of Kristalnacht. And she is a veteran of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, she fought in the Haganah. Married more than once, she was a single mother when she emigrated to the United States.
From such a background came the hope and optimism, the love of humanity, that seeped into every radio broadcast.
So why was Dr. Ruth on the radio? She's 85 years old now, long since retired.
It's to promote Becoming Dr. Ruth.
It's a play about her life. But not about her life as a sex therapist and radio personality. It's about what went on before . . .
I think I may to have to buy tickets . . .
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
We think, somewhat facetiously, "who died?"
And then comes the realization that someone did, in actuality, pass away.
Drew's father died Monday night.
It was not unexpected. Emil was 90 years old and in very poor health. Monday evening Drew told me: "The nursing home says my father has a bad fever. I think this time it may be the end. They wanted to know whether I want a DNR. . . "
So when my phone rang in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, it wasn't really a surprise.
Drew sounded shaken nonetheless.
He felt lost. Should he go to work or stay home?
I told him, "Stay home. You have to tell your sister, you have to tell your uncles, you have to make final arrangements."
What I was thinking: "You need to process this loss, you have to deal with your feelings, you will be totally worthless at school because your mind will be elsewhere."
Yes, I went for the practical, not the emotional.
I don't know what arrangements Drew will make. Emil was culturally Jewish, not religious. He professed to be an athiest, and planned to be cremated.
I'm flashing back to 1994. Drew's parents were living in Florida when his mother Grace passed away. Drew flew down to Ft. Myers that day, and I followed him down after making arrangements for my family to take care of the girls -- Jen was 3 1/2 and Becca was almost 2 -- and our pets. Drew's sister came down a day or so after I did.
I know everyone deals with grief in their own way. But what happened when Grace died . . .
There was no funeral. No ritual leavetaking. neither Emil nor his children wanted that. The body was transferred from the hospital to the crenatory, and then we waited for a phone call to come pick up the urn and the ashes. The only outward sign of mourning was the American flag on Emil's lawn, lowered to half staff.
I felt adrift. The rituals of mourning, they're not for the deceased. The rituals are for those who are left behind. I take comfort in the rituals of my faith -- the funeral, sitting shiva, reciting Kaddish. I find beauty in the rituals of other faiths as well.
Drew has no connection to faith and felt he had no need for ritual. Yet he needed comfort. When we returned to Long Island, I told all our friends and family that we'd be "at home" on a Sunday afternoon. And everyone came. Yes, it was that important.
So I know, this time around, that Drew will not want any religious ritual. But I hope we can plan something, a secular gathering to memorialize Emil's life and to offer comfort to the bereaved. Emil deserves as much.
The most over-used, obnoxious gadget in the office.
I never used to have a problem with them.
I mean, if you're driving in the car and you need to carry on a conversation, a speaker phone is a useful device. Eyes on the road. Both hands on the wheel. It's great.
In your own home, no problem at all. Let's say there are two of you at home, and the landline phone rings. And both of you want to talk to the caller. Using the speaker phone might be a better option than one of you picking up the extension in the next room.
Not to mention, picking up the extension in the next room isn't an option if you're using a cell phone.
Speaking of cell phones . . . I don't run into this frequently, but if you're in Starbucks or at a restaurant or on the train --or any public place where your cell phone conversation should be soft, hushed, so that you don't disturb the people around you -- using the speaker phone is not an option.
But what threw me over the edge was the speaker phone epidemic at my office.
I work in a cubicle farm. The walls between desks afford some visual privacy but do little to dampen sound. Consequently we hear each other's conversations all day long. I've long since learned that if I have private business that I do not care to share with the entire floor, I need to make my call from a conference room, or anyplace where I can shut the door.
I mean, the office joke is about two women we refer to as "Loud" and "Louder". These two will speak in normal conversational tones when speaking to you in person. But when they pick up that phone receiver, it's as if each woman has transformed into a Broadway actress who must project her voice to the back of the house in order to be heard. Yes, it's that loud. Honestly, though, I don't think either is aware she's doing that.
But speaker phones in cubicle land . . .one of my coworkers used to turn on the speaker during conference calls so that she could continue to use her computer during the call. That stopped when someone anonymously bought headphones and left them at her desk.
But now I sit near Really Important Man. He is high enough in the food chain to warrant an office. Not a cube like us peons. An office with real walls, and a door that closes.
And he just loves his speaker phone. He uses it every time he makes or receives a call. Every. Single. Time. Of course he closes his office door. He closes it AFTER the call is connected. Not that it really matters, sometimes he's got the volume up so loud I can hear it through the door.
I am so sick of hearing "Welcome to the conference center. . . Please enter your passcode. . .You are now joining the call as the fifth participant. . ."
But what really put it over the top . . .
There's a special project going on at the office. Contract employees associated with the project have taken over all the empty cubes on our floor. Really Important Man is coordinating with the contract employees, so there are many calls, many meetings.
And then Very Important Woman arrived, and moved into the office next to Really Important Man. She has the same penchant for speaker phones; someone had to remind her to SHUT THE DOOR!. And she's working on the same project as Really Important Man.
So one afternoon they are on the same conference call. He is at his desk, speaker phone engaged. She is at her desk, just a few feet away, also of speaker. I can hear every word.
And then Really Important Man began to speak . . .
The echo was simply incredible.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Smokin' Al's, to be precise.
For us, this restaurant is strictly a take-out place. The restaurant is very small, the wait for a table intolerably long. But the food. . .we have other BBQ restaurants closer to home, but we drive 20 minutes to Al's and 20 minutes home, with the car smelling like BBQ . . .
We place our dinner orders on line. Makes it very convenient.
They offer choices, lots of choices. Different types of ribs, different barbecue sauces, from sweet to spicy. Pulled pork, brisket, chicken.
We both ordered babyback ribs with Al's original sauce. Sauce was tangy but not spicy hot. Meat was tender but not "fall off the bone". Heaven.
Sides dishes -- we both ordered garlic mashed potatoes. A little heavy on the garlic, and a bit too thick, they need more cream, which I will add when I reheat the leftovers. Macaroni and cheese and corn on the cob were pretty standard. Corn bread is very moist and flavorful.
Fried pickle appetizer was easily the best on Long Island. Instead of pickle chips, they slice the pickles lengthwise and coat them in a very thick batter. Served with Russian dressing.
So we watched Vincent Price in the campy horror classic "Dr. Fibes". And I won the backgammon tournament 4 games to 2.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Yeah, I know, I've been focusing on the 70's a lot lately.
But I am trying to figure out how the dark-haired rebel whose music enchanted me has become the bearded, distinguished, professorial gentleman whose music still delights me.
Well, we all have a face that we hide away forever, and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone . . .
The music, the cover art. I can see the album covers in my head. I played the vinyl on the stereo in my basement. The cassette tapes and my portable cassette player found a home in my dorm room. I listened late at night, through headphones. . .
I've got the old man's car, I've got a jazz guitar, I've got a tab at Zanzibar . . .
Funny, I never fell in love with him, never put a picture of him on my wall, never imagined myself married to him. Didn't scream when he was on TV. He was no teen idol.
He was better.
When you look into my eyes and you see the crazy gypsy in my soul. . .
He was brash, he was rebellious, he was cool.
There's a place in the world for the angry young man, with his working class ties and his radical plan . . .
And he was one of us. A suburban kid and not afraid to tell us so. But one who loved NYC.
I've seen the lights go out on Broadway, I saw the ruins at my feet. You know we almost didn't notice it. We'd seen it all the time on 42nd Street . . .
And there was that song. His signature song. He still closes every concert with it, all these years later.
Sing us a song, you're the Piano Man
Sing us a song tonight
Well we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feeling alright.
And on January 27, at Madison Square Garden, I will get to hear that song live and in person.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
And was satisfied with the results. It's not as good as the first movie, but does set up the third movie quite nicely -- interesting cliffhanger ending (No, I won't spoil it for you).
All the elements are there -- dystopian society, huge gap between the haves and have-nots, sick competition, the seeds of rebellion.
Makes for an interesting movie.
Now they leave me stressed.
When Drew and I were married and the girls were little, we'd spend all of the holidays with my parents. Drew's parents lived in Florida, so we had no need to juggle, to split our time between his family and mine.
When we divorced, the children split their holidays, spending some with me and some with him. And it was ALWAYS contentious.
And now? Now it's a delicate negotiation.
And right now I am ready to scream. Because no one talks to me, no one tells me what's going on.
My assumption was that Thanksgiving dinner at my parents' house would be in the evening, as it has been every year. So when Drew said he wanted ti make Thanksgiving at his house at 2:00 in the afternoon, I thought: "Great. The girls and I can lunch at Drew's and dine at my parents'. Works out nicely."
After all, that's what we did two years ago. (Last year Drew was recovering from surgery to repair a hiatal hernia, so he didn't have Thanksgiving.)
(Don't suggest we have both families share dinner, too acrimonious.)
When my mother asked me, a week ago, what my plans are, that's what I told her.
Then, on Thursday night, my sister H told me: "We're eating at 4:00 on Thanksgiving."
Yes, my sister decided that it would be better to eat earlier because my mother has trouble staying up past 8 or 9 these days. And H lives here now, so she can start cooking earlier in the day since she doesn't have to drive here first.
Logical reasons. Yet it feels like sabotage. And yes, I know all about that kind of sabotage...
And knowing my family, despite everyone's best intentions, dinner won't be on the table at 4. Probably closer to 6 is my guess.
Apparently this has been planned for awhile, but no one bothered to tell me. Just call me the mushroom, kept in the dark.
And then H told me that Jen had a phone conversation with Drew two weeks ago and told him all of this. And that he suggested dinner on Friday instead. H heard most of the conversation because it took place in H's car -- she and Jen carpool to grad school every Wednesday.
I've barely seen Jen these past few weeks. She's rarely home, and lately I am getting the "sullen teen" routine from my 23 year old daughter. So all of this was news to me.
But Drew hasn't said anything either. And that surprises me. He tells me everything, sometimes more than I really want to know.
Especially because we have plans Friday. Plans that he initiated.
I'm good at juggling, really I am. But you have to give me lead time, so that I can arrange things . . .
I hate holidays.
Friday, November 22, 2013
I have no memory of the shooting, or, for that matter, of anything to do with the assassination of JFK. At least, no contemporaneous memories of the weekend it actually happened. I was only three years old at the time, and the significance of what I'd witnessed was so far over my head as to be invisible.
(I have some vague recollections of Bobby Kennedy's funeral, some 5 years later, but that's for another day.)
For years everyone would ask each other, "Where were you when Kennedy was killed?" People just a few years older than I would tell stories of tearful teachers at school. No crying teachers for me, I was home playing with my dolls.
The most significant news story of the early 1960's, and I have no memory of it. But yet, I know all the details. I've seen the TV news clips, I've read about that day in Dallas in fact and in fiction.
It was 50 years ago. A lifetime ago. And yet it's a story that is dominating the newscasts for these last few weeks.
This clip of Walter Cronkite always makes me cry.
And Oswald being shot:
Thursday, November 21, 2013
You'd be wrong.
I don't do much cooking anymore -- my sister F seems to have taken over my mother's kitchen -- but it has become my job to do the grocery shopping. Yes, somehow it has become my responsibility to feed 8 people and two cats. Ostensibly I was just shoping for nyself and my daughters, but . . .
Well, not all the shopping. My mom buys a number of things in Costco, and my sister H picks up a few items in Trader Joe's, Target or CVS. But the bulk of our food supply comes from Shoprite.
H usually makes up the list and emails it to me. I shop with my tablet in my hand, checking the list as I make my way through the store.
My first stop is the deli kiosk. The kiosk is really just a computer screen. You place an order from the items offered, and when you come back to the deli counter your order is waiting for you in the refrigerator. Very helpful if you don't want to wait in a long line at the deli counter, but totally useless if you're the type who likes to watch them slice your cold cuts.
Next is the produce department. The "standing order" is to buy containers of fresh fruit that have been cut up by the store personnel. My dad likes to have fruit at the end of his meal, and these days we cater to those desires. I buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Russet potatoes, salad greens and bananas seem to make frequent appearances on my list.
I'll stop at the gourmet cheese display for some pecorino romano -- we always grate our own -- before heading to the bakery section. I usualy buy some freshly baked Italian bread, some sandwich rolls, muffins. . .but never bagels. Bagels aren't authentic unless purchased from a store with the word "bagel" in its name (and our bagel store gives wonderful discounts on Wednesdays, so we stock up then.)
I generally skip the fresh fish section, we're not big on fish. And unless there's an emergency I'd rather buy my health and beauty aids at CVS or Walgreen's. So next up is the butcher/meat department. Usual purchases include chicken breast tenders and lean ground turkey, occasionally some Angus beef hamburger patties. I might buy a steak if Becca is home, or maybe some lamb chops for my dad.
The bulk of my time is spent in the main section of the store. Long aisles, each with a few items I may need. Pasta, lots of pasta. Canned tomatoes/tomato sauce/tomato paste. Canned beans. Breakfast cereal. Soda, Snapple, bottled water. Pretzels, crackers, popcorn. Cooking oil, mustard, mayo.
The frozen food and dairy sections of the store are last. Milk, yogurt (Jen eats a ton of Oikos strawberry banana), butter, cream cheese. Frozen veggies, Haagen Daz ice cream. A few Lean Cuisine meals in case of an emergency.
And then I push my very full shopping cart to the checkout counter. I show my card to get the store discounts -- you have to see how much I "save".
And that's not the end of it . . .I also shop in the King Kullen near Drew's house -- I go there because my bank has a branch inside the store, and I always wind up buying a few items for myself . . .
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
As I've mentioned before, I am genetically programmed to crave Jewish deli. It is the soul food of my people.
So when Drew suggested we grab a bite at Pastrami Plus, I was out the door and in the car before he finished buttoning his coat.
Pastrami Plus is a very unpretentious place. As in, it's a hole in the wall. A deli counter, a handful of tables and a few ancient posters on the walls. To be honest, most folks order take-out. We usually do take out, too, but on this particular night we chose to dine in.
Service here is . . . well, the young lady who was serving customers at the counter also waits tables, so don't expect white glove service, but she was pleasant and got the job done.
Be advised, the restaurant is "kosher style", not strictly kosher, but you'd never know the difference unless you saw the occasional cheeseburger leave the grill. (Yes, that was the sound of a dozen generations of Jewish bubbies rolling over in their graves.)
Our meal began with crispy cole slaw and pickles - both sour and half-sour.
I was craving a square, fried Coney Island knish. But alas, since the fire at the Gabila factory a few weeks ago, there are none to be found. Truly it's frustrating. And their home made baked knishes (like my grandma used to make) just didn't capture ny attention.
Drew orderd the chicken noodle soup, a flavorful broth full of thin noodles. Very satisfying.
Sandwiches are served on seedless rye. Drew ordered tongue and I ordered pastrami. Both were excellent -- meat neither too lean nor too fatty, sliced thin and served hot. The sandwiches are not as overstuffed as you might find elsewhere, but they do satisfy.
In previous visits I've ordered the egg barley with mushroom and the kasha varnishkes; bith are excellent. The potato pancakes look oh so tempting.
A soul-satisfying meal. An authentic Jewish deli experience. We will be back.
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