life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, March 31, 2014

Wantable subscription box

So I was reading about subscription boxes.  It's an interesting concept.  Every month you get a box of merchandise -- accessories, cosmetics, foods, craft items, whatever.  It's like getting a gift every month.

So I thought I'd give it a try.  I ordered the April Wantable box.

What I liked about Wantable is that they try to gear the products in your box to your individual needs and taste.  They ask you to complete a survey - do you like sunglasses?  Earrings?  Hair accessories? Is your style classic?  Glamourous?  Rock star?

Your box is then "personalized" with accessories they think you will like.

My box contained earrings, bracelets, a ring and some ballerina hair ties.  I like the jewelry, but I'm not sure I'll use the hair ties.  Barretts or a headband would have been a better option for me.

Definitely worth the $36 subscription price, I can't wait until next month.

Here's what was in my box.

parents' anniversary

So the Thai food was our celebratory dinner in honor of our parents.  My mom and dad have been married 55 years.

55 years, can you imagine that? 

It was a quiet evening at home, take-out food, cake from Dortoni's, nothing too elaborate.  Cozy.  Moments to relish.

Of course, the old stories were told.

How they were both teachers at the time.    How my dad lived on Long Island and my mom lived in the Bronx.  How they initially planned to marry in June and honeymoon in Europe.  How they chose to marry on Easter Sunday instead -- Easter was in March that year, but Passover was at the end of April -- and have a brief honeymoon in the Catskills, with the idea they'd go to Europe during the summer anyhow. 

That's not how things worked out.  I was born 11 months after they got married, so no trip to Europe that summer.  They didn't get to visit Europe until my dad retired. 

There are very few pictures of their wedding day.  My mother's cousin hired the photographer.  He was not a union member, and the unionized catering hall workers refused to work with a non union photographer.  Several months later my parents donned wedding attire to pose for their wedding album.  To this day my dad is upset about that.

55 years.  Amazing.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Lest you think it's all Asian food for me, tonight we got takeout from Jackson's. We have eaten here and/or gotten takeout several times, so we knew what to expect.

The employees were pleasant when I picked up the order. Portions were large and food was tasty. But apparently we has a communications breakdown, because there were several mistakes with our order.

I had the chicken Parmesan. Mauve portion of chicken breasts, breaded, fried and buried in mozzarella. The dish had been placed under the broiler and the cheese was a tad overdone. Side of rigatoni with marinara was pretty standard.

The salmon dish and the chicken dish ordered by my dining companions looked good as well. Caesar salad looked and tasted fresh.

Yes, we will be back.

Jackson's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
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Thai Greenleaf

We did take-out from this place the other night. It was my first experience with this restaurant, and I've had very limited experience with Thai food in general. I really enjoyed our dinner.

Our meal began with an assortment of appetizers and dipping sauces. We had mini spring rolls - crispy goodness with sweet orange sauce similar to Chinese duck sauce. Chicken satay -- skewers of chicken with a thick, flavorful peanut sauce. Curry samosas - triangles of fried dough stuffed with a spicy curry, a little too spicy for my taste.

Next we had whole red snapper - filleted, breaded and fried, and served with a sauce similar to Chinese sweet and sour sauce.

The shrimp fried rice -- only vaguely similar to Chinese or Japanese fried rice, it contained chunks of pineapple and had a very sweet taste.

Ginger duck - a stir fried dish with lots of vegetables and a sweet sauce.

Chicken Pad Thai - rice noodles, chicken and vegetables stir fried in a savory brown sauce.

We also ordered a spicy chicken and cashew dish, but I didn't taste that. My friend was very happy with her Thai iced tea -- an interesting blend of teas and coconut milk.

Small complaint - when packing our order they forgot one item, necessitating a second trip to the restaurant to retrieve it, but they were very apologetic about it.

I would definitely order from this place again.

Thai Green Leaf Incorporated on Urbanspoon

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Friday, March 28, 2014


If you're a Long Islander, that name brings about visions of white boxes with blue writing, of cakes and pies and cookies on supermarket shelves. Specially decorated cookies or cupcakes for holidays: green icing for St. Patrick's Day, orange and chocolate sprinkles for Halloween. It's a regional bakery with a large assortment of products.

Yesterday the company announced that it was closing its Bay Shore plant, which was its main site for decades, and relocating those functions to another plant.

No big deal for the consumer, right? Except that it means they're also closing the factory outlet store.

When I was a little girl my parents would take the drive to Bay Shore to buy cakes and etc. at the outlet. Back then we ate a lot of baked goods, there weren't a lot of supermarkets in our area, and the choices and markdowns at the outlet made it worth the time and effort to drive to Bay Shore. You'd see the boxes, with red or black slashes drawn on them indicating how close the product was to its freshness date

Our family story -- my father once went to Entenmann's with just my sisters F and A, who must have been about two years old at the time. (And yes, back then they were truly identical.) The girls got away from him, and F opened a box of cake, something with chocolate icing. Within seconds she was covered in frosting.

Another customer, a woman, walked F to the front of the store and asked "Whose child is this?"

My poor father, dying of embarrassment, responded "I don't know, but let me take her so I can find out."

Then he took the hands of both girls and made a beeline for the exit.

Ah, well. Another entry into the story of "Long Island places that are no more."

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet

Previously known as China City Buffet, this restaurant was recently closed and remodeled, and has reopened as Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet.

The dining area of the restaurant is large and open, and can accommodate large groups of people.  The koi pond in the lobby is a nice touch.  We were a fairly large group, yet had no problem being seated even on a busy Sunday.

Food offerings include both Asian and American selections.  The American selections include a complete salad bar (with peel and eat shrimp), pizza and macaroni and cheese.  Honestly, I didn't touch any of that -- I don't go to an Asian buffet to eat pizza.

There were about a dozen different sushi rolls, nothing too complicated, but freshly made and tasty.  The hibachi area offers cooked to order meat/vegetable/noodle combinations.

Buffet table offerings:  Most of the dishes were seafood or chicken, but there were pork and beef dishes as well.  .Spare ribs were meaty and in a tangy, not-too-sweet sauce.  Coconut chicken was crispy sweet and very good.  Pepper steak was perfectly cooked. 

On the other hand, there were dishes I did not like -- the chicken on a stick was dry, and the lobster sauce had pieces of "krab" as well as shrimp.

Desserts included a choice of fresh fruit, puddings, cookies and pastries, but thankfully none of those cardboard-like cakes you usually find at an Asian buffet.  There was also soft serve ice cream. 

Overall, one of the better Asian buffets in this price range.

Hibachi Grill and Supreme Buffet on Urbanspoon

Hong Kong Asian Fusion

I was running some errands in East Meadow and needed lunch.  Tucked into a shopping center, this small restaurant is primarily take-out and delivery oriented, with a couple of tables in case you'd like to eat your meal there.

The menu is predominantly Chinese, but they offer a nice selection of Thai dishes as well as Japanese udon noodles.

My choice was a combo plate from the lunch menu -- chicken in garlic sauce with pork fried rice.  The dish was made of nice slices of white meat chicken and an assortment of vegetables, including broccoli, baby corn and pea pods.  I would have liked to have seen a little more chicken in the dish.  The garlic sauce had a nice kick to it, but was not overwhelmingly spicy.  Fried rice had a decent amount of pork in it.

Definitely worth another visit the next time I'm in the area.

Hong Kong Asian Fusion on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 22, 2014

This and that

So I finished Mark Cohen's biography of Allan Sherman, and the library informs me that A Gift of Laughter is ready for pickup.  Getting my homework done!

I spotted the first robin of spring yesterday.  The sweet little songbird was on Drew's lawn.  I have a certain affinity for robins...just because my name is Robin doesn't mean anything, does it?  :-)

Of course Drew had to make a joke about robins becoming extinct if they're not careful...we have a running joke about a street in his neighborhood, Robin Lane, and every time I say how delightful that street name is, he jokes about eradicating the name...

There is no questioning that Jen is Drew's daughter.  Yesterday her allergies kicked in, poor kid was sneezing so hard, I gave her my bottle of Claritin.   Drew's allergies kicked in today.  Same sneeze.

I drove past the late, lamented Potter's Pub today.  That place was a big hangout for Hofstra students.  In my three years of law school I don't think I ever went there, but yet the fact that it closed makes me sad...another piece of my youth is gone.

Becca is spending the weekend out of town, she went to visit her boyfriend at his school.  She's still on spring break, he was done with spring break before she even started hers.

Major disappointment yesterday.  The Rockettes were supposed to present a show this spring, Heart and Lights, all about NYC.  Drew bought tickets for the show even before the media blitz.  The show was supposed to run March 27-May 4.  Yesterday, just days before it was supposed to open,  he got an email saying the show was cancelled/postponed until next year for "technical reasons."  Today the Daily News is reporting that although ticket sales were excellent, James Dolan, owner of MSG Entertainment, pulled the plug because he didn't like the show.

With all the toys we bought for that cat, you would think...I just saw Duchess batting an empty Milk Duds box across the kitchen floor.

Yes, I am bored today.  How did you guess?

Friday, March 21, 2014

How To Torture Your Mother

Go to Walt Disney World and tweet lots of photos, especially photos showing how warm it is in Florida this time of year!

Seriously, Jen and Becca had a great time at Disney.  Highlight was meeting Rapunzel in the Magic Kingdom -- the family joke is that Jen IS Rapunzel.  Biggest disappointment was that it rained the day they went to EPCOT, so they couldn't ride Test Track.

Now I want to go to Disney again!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I feel like I'm doing homework -- Allan Sherman

If I said the name "Allan Sherman", a few people might nod in recognition.

If I added "My Son, the Folksinger", a few more people  would understand.

And a few more would get it if I said "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah".

I'm just a bit too young to remember Sherman's heyday as a comedian/song parodist.  I discovered one of his albums in my parents' collection when I was about 12, and then I read his autobiography, "A Gift of Laughter," also in my parents' collection.

I love his sense of humor, and his obvious pride in his Jewish identity.

Drew is an even bigger fan than I am, he has many of Sherman's albums on vinyl, and many of them on CD, including one that was just released, with "all new material".  Before Sherman became a star, he used to sing his parodies at parties, just Sherman and his piano, and someone recorded a number of these songs, but they'd never been released to the public until now.

Sherman's works are getting airplay on one of the comedy stations on Sirius Radio, 40 years after his death.  You know we listen.

So what has this got to do with "doing my homework"?

There's a new biography of Sherman, "Overweight Sensation;  the Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman".

To quote

In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman's legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman's estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.

Mark Cohen will be speaking at my synagogue in a few weeks as part of our Adult Education program.  Of course Drew and I are planning to go.   So of course we are both reading his book, and today I tracked down a library copy of Sherman's book -- it's out of print.

Yes, we are prepping for Cohen's appearance.

Here's Sherman's classic:

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Saturday night in NYC

So yesterday we took the train into the city.  Very busy and crowded weekend, with tourists and day trippers getting an early start on St. Patrick's Day.  Lots of folks wearing shamrocks and the like.

Our walk from Penn to Times Square was very crowded.  We saw:

-- a girl, maybe 18 years old, with her hair styled like Cyndi Lauper wore it in that video for "Time After Time".  The police had just confiscated her open liquor bottle and were asking for her ID.

-- a street musician playing classical music on the violin.

-- a drummer in a purple velvet jacket and hat that he stole from Rooster in that old show, "Baretta".

-- vendors selling food (hot dogs, pretzels, kebabs), tee shirts, art work, plastic shamrock necklaces.

-- a religious group preaching their (how shall I say it?) unorthodox theology.

-- costumed characters.   Lots of costumed characters.  Mickey and Minnie Mouse. SpongeBob.  Super Mario.  Batman and Spiderman. The Statue of Liberty.  Minions.  But alas, no Naked Cowboy.

Our first stop was Brooklyn Diner.

Brooklyn Diner USA on Urbanspoon

We've been here several times.  Got there before 6 PM but had to wait for a table.  That was a first for us, but then, we're usually here on a weeknight.  The room is really crowded, the space between tables almost nonexistent. 

The menu has been revamped since our last visit.  Cheeseburgers were served with bacon and cheddar on brioche, with lettuce, tomato, cole slaw, pickles, onion rings and shoestring fries.  I almost went with the burger topped with pastrami or avocado instead of bacon, but ultimately stuck wit the classic.   Cole slaw was very bland, but everything else was excellent.  My diet coke had a chemical aftertaste.

I always look at the desserts here -- they serve ice cream sodas, egg creams and shakes -- but I never order ...

Next we headed over to the Shubert Theater, to see "Matilda the Musical". Drew won tickets in a charitable auction.  We were supposed to see the show in January, during a snowstorm, but they graciously allowed us to exchange the tickets.

When "Matilda" opened last year, the buzz was that it would win the Tony -- the award actually went to "Kinky Boots".   But I can see why this show had such good press. 

I read Roald Dahl's book, and I've seen the movie with Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman.  But this show is darker, focusing more on emotions and less on Matilda's telekinetic abilities.  There are plot twists that weren't in the book but which work well with the overall theme of the show.   The actor playing Miss Trunchbull is amazing, he really steals the show. 

There are two groups of "children" in the cast -- one group of children, actual ages between 8 and 11, playing kindergarten students, and adults playing older students.  It works. 

The singing and dancing are spectacular, but the music didn't impress me much.

Overall a fun show, I really enjoyed it. 

But yeah, "Kinky Boots" deserved to win.

Still, another great evening of food and theater.  Who could complain?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A weird Purim

Purim is a minor Jewish holiday, celebrating queen Esther's victory over the wicked Haman in ancient Persia.  It's a sort of Halloween mixed with Mardi Gras, celebrated with food, drink, synagogue carnivals, etc.

This year Purim will be celebrated on Sunday March 16.

Yesterday the synagogue sent out a funeral notice.  One of my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, a pillar of the community, and a genuinely nice guy, passed away.  It was not a surprise, he'd been very ill for well over a year, showing up at Board meetings with his oxygen tank in tow.

The funeral is on Sunday.

Monday, March 10, 2014


Yesterday we revisited Minado. Hard to believe it's been so long since the last time we were here.

It really is the best Asian buffet on Long Island.  There are lots of options, the food is fresh and delicious.  

So many different varieties of sushi and sashimi, I felt like a kid in a candy store.  I had to try one of everything.

One member of our party made a meal entirely out of the crab legs, shrimp, clams, etc.  from the seafood section. 

The cooked to order Mongolian wok items were incredible.  Drew loved his steak.

My one disappointment...I didn't get any beef teriyaki.  When I went to the table with all the hot foods, half of the serving dishes were empty.  I could have waited a few minutes for the dishes to be refilled, but I opted for some tempura instead.  The restaurant closes after lunch and reopens at 5 PM for dinner, and as a result, all of the food runs out and needs to be refilled at the same time. 

At $32.50 per person, this is an expensive buffet, but well worth it.

Minado on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 9, 2014

They know us so well

We have a small group of friends we get together with to celebrate birthdays. Between the weather and everyone's busy schedule, we didn't get together for Drew's birthday and my birthday until this evening.

Among the gifts we got -- gift cards for Olive Garden, TGIF Friday's and that hot new restaurant, Monsoon.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Dinner and a show

So the evening began at Ben's. You know that an appreciation of good deli is in my genes, and Ben's has become a Long Island institution and a favorite place to satisfy my cravings.

I'd never been to this location before. Its proximity to the Tilles Center is what drew us here.

The food was excellent, the same quality I have come to expect from Ben's. Crisp cole slaw, half sour and sour pickles are placed on every table.

Tonight I ordered a soup and sandwich combo. Matzo ball soup -- a clear chicken broth with thin noodles and a large, fluffy matzo ball, served with a few slices of challah and margarine, could have been a meal unto itself. Half a sandwich, rye overstuffed with hot pastrami, so large I couldn't finish it. And yes, the square knishes are finally back -- Gabila's has finally recovered from last September's fire.

The food did not disappoint.

The service, however. . . Nothing major went wrong, but a lot of small things added up to a disappointing experience. One of our party got her hamburger long before the rest of us got our sandwiches. A sandwich ordered with Russian on the side was served without dressing. French fries did not arrive until we were almost finished with our meal. No one offered drink refills. When the waiter was told that we were pressed for time (the Tilles Center was beckoning) he said he would get our check "right away" -- then went to chitchat with a group at another table. I suspect they are frequent diners at this location.

Then it was on to the Tilles Center and a touring production of "Man of La Mancha".

I saw "Man of La Mancha" with my temple youth group at the Westbury Music Fair in 1972. It was the second professional show I'd seen (the first being "Fiddler", of course). It starred Howard Keel and Lainie Kazan. Westbury is set up as theater in the round, perfect for the minimalist set used in most productions. Loved the show so much that I appropriated my father's original cast recording and played it over and over . . .

Tonight was the first time I'd seen a production of the show since 1972.

Overall I liked the show, but . . .well, when your supporting players outshine your leads. . ..Sancho was excellent, but Don Quixote was weak and Aldonza sounded like a good girl pretending to be bad. They did the whole show without an intermission, as written. The flamenco dancing before the overture was a nice touch.

Nevertheless, live theater and hot pastrami = a happy songbird.

Ben's on Urbanspoon

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Spring forward!

Didn't we just fall back?

Honestly, Daylight Saving Time in early March?

I hope this means spring is just around the corner!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Scott Shannon, part 3

So I listened to The Todd Show on WPLJ for about a week. Todd and his entourage of pop culture experts. I am sure that eventually he will hit his stride with his new format, but right now it sounds like he's trying too hard.

And then on Monday, the legendary Scott Shannon took his seat at WCBS-FM. And it was like reuniting with an old friend. He sounds like he's been at WCBS since forever.

I have to admit, the music variety at PLJ doesn't do it for me. I think they're calling it hot adult contemporary, with a playlist from the 1990's to today. I like it, but I don't love it. I listened to Scott and Todd, but after morning drive time I moved on to other stations.

I like oldies. I like WCBS. I listen to WLTW, Lite FM. I listen to classic rock on Q104. I listen to Long Island stations -- oldies on B103, adult contemporary on WKJY and WALK-FM.

I think PLJ has lost a listener.

I will be interested to see how this plays out, I want to see the Arbitron ratings. CBS didn't need the star power of Scott Shannon. LTW was the number one station until recently, when CBS overtook it. PLJ has always been a bit further down the list. I'm wondering if PLJ can attract new listeners to replace those of us following Scott to CBS.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

amazing commercial

I can't believe they were able to do this -- Audrey Hepburn and Dove Chocolate

It's all computer generated.  As so "Audrey".

Monday, March 3, 2014

Mother Nature, you've gone too far...when will it be spring?

Drew and I were supposed to get together with friends yesterday.  A nice dinner at a Japanese restaurant, with friends we've known since forever, to celebrate our recent birthdays.

Except that everyone was panicked over the impending snowstorm.  Forecast said the snow would begin sometime Sunday, get worse overnight and create a disaster for the Monday morning commute.

By mid-afternoon we decided to postpone.  Not worth the hassle.

So of course the snow didn't happen.  At least, not here -- southern New Jersey took the hit, but we just got a dusting of snow.  Just enough to cover the grass.

I shouldn't complain about it.  You don't have to shovel "a dusting" of snow, after all.

But I am so sick of this weather!!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sigh - family troubles - again

This time it's Drew's sister.

S lives with Uncle M, her father's brother. Uncle M lost his wife a few years ago, and they never had children. When he moved in with S he was healthy and vital, and still working despite having reached retirement age. Now he is 87 and in poor health. S has become his caregiver. She is not happy about it and she's doing a very poor job of it.

S recently told Drew "Uncle M can't come to Becca's graduation. He will have dialysis that day." This statement was followed by a dozen reasons why S can't come to the graduation either.

Really? Really?

I kind of think that the medical staff over at a Good Sam, given 3 months' notice, could figure out a way for Marvin to go to graduation. S just doesn't want to put in the effort because she doesn't want to go.


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Saturday, March 1, 2014

March comes in like a lion

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