life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

and just like that, the war is "over"

Or, at least, that's what Drew says.

They had a long talk last night.  Set up a payment plan.  discussed the more emotional issues.

things are better now, but I don't know that it's entirely "over".

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The roommate wars redux

Once again the tension at Drew's house is pervasive.

Ostensibly it's about money.  But it goes much deeper than that.

Let's talk about the money first.

Marc has been in a bad position for a long time.  He was laid off from his job and had to file for unemployment benefits.   And when the benefits ran out he reluctantly withdrew some funds from his IRA.  He was afraid of the taxes and penalties but had no choice.  And then he got a job -- minimum wage, retail, in a discount department store.  Crazy hours, and many weeks where his "full time job" offered only part time hours.  So he's been hurting financially.

He got a new job in January, in his field (he's a technician).  Pays a lot more than what he was earning working retail, though not as much as he made before he was laid off.

He's also very careless about keeping track of his money.  Many years ago Drew and Marc opened a joint bank account primarily for shared household expenses.  Drew has a separate account for his own funds but Marc does not.  Marc apparently lost track of what was in the account.   He spent some of the rent money on his personal bills.  Fortunately Drew was able to cover the rent.   And he would have loaned Marc the money if Marc had asked.

He was very defensive when Drew confronted him about the money several months ago.   And he's made only a feeble attempt to repay a small part of it.

And there's a large bill from the heating oil company coming due in July.

Right now Drew is being squeezed financially because of some of his late father's expenses.   He could really use the money Marc owes him.  Marc has been silent in the face of Drew's requests for repayment.

Today Drew went to the bank to deposit money for the May rent, and saw Marc's balance.  Apparently Marc has enough in his account right now to pay the debt in full.  So of course Drew is upset.

But there another layer here.  Marc told Drew's sister that Drew has been treating him badly for over a year.   Drew had no idea Marc felt that way.

What's changed in the last year or so . . .well, I've been spending a lot more time there.  Drew and I are a couple, we're partners.    We used to include Marc in a lot of things, but when money got tight he stopped going out with us.  His only friends are the people in our social circle.  He's estranged from his family.   I think he's really very lonely.

Drew didn't realize what it sounds like when he and Marc talk to each other.  They're both very angry.  The testosterone level rises.  It's like two rams butting horns.  Seriously, they can't seem to talk to each other anymore.

But when they're not bristling at each other, Marc gets very passive aggressive.   Hides in his room like a hermit crab.    Right now he's doing to hermit crab thing.

Obviously I haven't given all the details, but it's very uncomfortable in that house right now.

40 years of friendship is on the line.  And I don't see this situation ending well.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Olive Garden and a movie

Had a $25 gift card, so Saturday night we headed out to Olive Garden. Very very busy place.we felt lucky to find a place to park near the restaurant. Our "45 minute wait" turned out to be considerably shorter -- maybe 20 minutes.

As long as you remember that this is a chain, not a mom and pop Italian place or elegant cuisine, you will be fine.

Our waiter was apparently new on the job -- very attentive but a little nervous.

I ordered prosecco, which was served in a wine glass adorned with a strawberry.
Drew had red sangria, served with lots of fruit garnish. Breadsticks were soft and garlicky. Salad is a nice mix of lettuce and vegetables, with a standard Italian dressing and a generous portion of croutons.

We ordered an Italian sampler appetizer. - stuffed mushrooms had a nice mixture of crabmeat and cheese, fried mozzarella was crisp and flavorful, but the calamari was chewy. Sigh.

Drew had his usual seafood Afredo -- shrimp and scallops in a creamy sauce. I had chicken parmigiana - two cutlets, breaded and fried, and topped with just enough cheese and sauce to be tasty but not overwhelming.

Leftovers came home with us, too full for dessert.

And now we are settling in with a DVD. Believe it or not, I've never seen any of the X-Men films, and with anew blockbuster set to open this summer . . . Well, I am being "educated".

Olive Garden on Urbanspoon
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She could have been my daughter

Her selfie is all over the news today. Not a beauty queen, just an average 16 year old girl, with an ear-to-ear smile that draws you in.

The papers say she was a good kid. A member of the National Honor Society, former class president, manager of the swim team. She'd performed in the school talent show, was looking forward to the drama club's upcoming production.

She was excited about the junior prom. So excited, she was going with her new boyfriend. So excited, she posted photos of herself in her teal blue prom gown.

Instead . . .

There isn't much in the news about the boy. The more responsible journalists won't print his name because he's a juvenile. The trashier news media have identified him from local gossip. He was a nice kid, the class clown, he'd been friends with the girl all her life. Some say he carried a torch for her. He was enraged when he asked her to prom and she turned him down.

Yesterday morning at school, he pushed her down the stairs, choked her and stabbed her with a kitchen knife.

She died in the hospital just a short time later.

How could this happen? The boy had never been known to be violent. They were friends. Two lives ruined. Over a dance. A high school dance.

And her friends and classmates . . .they painted a boulder purple (her favorite color) with her name and date of birth.

And there they were, in their gowns and tuxes, gathered on the beach. They brought her prom gown to the beach, they held a memorial service. They released purple balloons.

I see the look in their eyes . . .i know that look. I saw it in my own daughters' eyes.

Not an act of violence, but a car accident. Not the prom, but Homecoming. The student council president. And a halftime that was silent as a tomb.

Traditionally, the student council officers and class presidents have reserved spots in the student parking lot. They can personalize the spot, paint it to reflect their own tastes. And that's where the memorial service was held.

Four years later, when the school administration finally painted over the spot, Becca cried,

My heart goes out to the family of the young lady who died. And to all the kids in her school, who are far too young to be dealing with this grief.

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Friday, April 25, 2014

The future is here

This morning I walked into Dunkin' Donuts, placed an order for a muffin and coffee, opened the Dunkin' Donuts app on my smartphone and had to cashier scan a barcode, took my receipt and went on my way.

This seemingly innocuous transaction is actually a modern marvel.

I mean, my smart phone is not only a portable communication device, it is also a portable computer, media player, camera, GPS device ...

I can use  it to make a conventional phone call and also to video chat, I can screen my calls with its caller ID function, you can leave me a message if I don't answer when you call, I can text or email you if I don't feel like chatting...

My GPS apps allow me to map out a route, navigate along the way, and avoid traffic.  If I don't want to drive I can get a train schedule.  Other apps help me find restaurants and hotels, read reviews, even make a reservation.  When I get to my destination, I can shop on line for tickets to local attractions, take pictures of the things I've seen and send them to friends.

I can get news, sports and weather updates, I can read a magazine, even renew that digital library book I downloaded.

I can listen to the radio or my own music collection, I can watch a movie.  If there's a dispute about a song lyric or who appeared in a TV show, I can look it up while we're in the middle of discussing it.  I can play games; I'm becoming a Candy Crush expert.

I no longer need to carry an address book or a calendar, they're both in my phone.

I can get my information by typing standard English, or even with a voice command if I so choose.

All from a device I can carry in my pocketbook.  A device whose potential I know I have not fully explored.  a device more powerful than the computers that took the Apollo spacecraft to the moon and back.

All of this is so far beyond anything we could have imagined back in 1964, with our very futuristic World's Fair.  Why even when I graduated from high school, in 1978, "the computer" at my school took up an entire room, and we had to communicate with it by using a special computer language like Basic or COBOL.  Even in the early days of personal computers, you had to use DOS before you could get to more user-friendly programs.

Wow, the future has arrived.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Billy Crystal, William Shatner and the one-man show

We saw a Fathom event tonight, one of their "one night only" shows presented in a movie theater, a pseudo-theatrical experience.  We won the tickets, didn't pay for them.  The show was a bit disappointing, but you can't complain too much if it's free. . .

Two years ago, Drew and I spent a delightful evening on Broadway, we saw "Shatner's World:We Just Live In It", William Shatner's one-man autobiographical show.  He's had an interesting life - business student at McGill in his native Montreal, Shakespearean actor in Toronto's premier company, fairly successful in movies and on a Broadway before becoming a TV icon . . .he's a good storyteller, and the stories he told took us from laughter to tears and back again.  Afterwards we stood at the stage door  to cheer for him and to try and capture a photo.

So when we heard Shatner planned to film the show and present it as a Fathom event, we were definitely interested.  And when Drew won a pair of tickets . . .

"700 Sundays".  That's the name of Billy Crystal's one-man show.   It's all about his life growing up onLong island and his relationship with his family,  I really wanted to see it when it first ran on Broadway in 2004, but never got the chance.  He brought the show back to Broadway last year, but again . . .

He taped it for HBO, and it's been running every day since it premiered last weekend.  And I've been living it.  Not just the stand up comedy ( which is hysterical), but also the sad parts, the stories about his father dying . . . The parts that made me cry.

Which is why Shatner's Fathom event was so disappointing.

He changed this show a bit since we saw it two years ago.  He still tells funny stories about his career, still gets laughs, still entertains.  There's some new material, he's promoting a new album he recorded after his Broadway run . . .

But he cut some material, too.  On Broadway he told two very sad stories, one about a horse and another about his wife who died.  In tonight's performance, he told part of the horse story, but left out the heartbreaking ending.  And while he alluded to his late wife, he didn't tell that story.

In other words, he ripped the heart out of the show.  All the funny stories feed Shatner's ego.  The sad stories made him seem more human.

I don't suppose I would have been so disappointed if I hadn't seen the stage production.  Or if I hadn't seen Billy Crystal's show so recently.

I mean, I enjoyed the show, but I really wanted more . . .

New York World's Fair

The 1954-1965 World's Fair is in the news again.  The Fair opened 50 years ago, after all.

The New York State Pavilion was a magnificent part of the Fair.

Here it is in its heyday:

Yes, those towers, which once held a restaurant with a view of all 5 boroughs of NYC, were "alien spacecraft" in the first Men in Black movie.

Back in the late 80's, there was an exhibit at the Queens Museum celebrating the Fair, and Drew and I went to the exhibit.  Afterwards, we walked around the New York State Pavilion, and looked at the map of the state that took up the entire floor...except that it was in serious disrepair.

And now you can't go to the Pavilion at all, it's in such a state.  Visitors were allowed to tour the place on the 22nd, the 50th anniversary of the Fair's opening, but had to wear hard hats.

So sad they let the place decay like that!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy birthday William Shakespeare

Happy 450th birthday William Shakespeare. The Bard was baptized April 26, 1564. His 's actual date of birth remains unknown, but is traditionally observed on April 23, Saint George's Day. This date, which can be traced back to an 18th-century scholar's mistake, has proved appealing to biographers, since Shakespeare died April 23, 1616.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day

I work in the environmental claims department of a major insurance company.  Our policies provide coverage to clean up and remediate pollution.

When I first joined the company, in 2002, Earth Day was a big social event in our department.  We don't do big social events at work anymore.

So let me take this time for my own Earth Day celebration. 

Take a look at this site.  Save energy.  Share a ride.  Plant a tree.  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  go green.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Easter bunny?

Saturday night, the day before Easter, Drew and I came home to find Duchess sitting on the back of the couch, looking out the window.  It's one of her favorite places to perch. But she was more agitated than usual.  So Drew and I looked out the window.
There were two bunnies in the yard.
No wonder the cat was going nuts.
I am certain that if Duchess were not an indoor cat, she would have been an excellent huntress.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Supermarket shopping workout

So I came home this afternoon after a weekend at Drew's house to discover that "there's no food in the house" and could I possibly do some grocery shopping?

OK, make a shopping list.

One problem:  it's Easter Sunday.  Will the market be open?

So I took the list and headed to my usual supermarket, only to discover it had closed at 3 PM, and it was now 4:30.

OK, I decided to see if my second-favorite market is open.  Drive over there . . .yes!  Only problem, it's 4:40, and the store will close at 5:00.

Time for some speed shopping!

Got about half of the items on the list.  Yes, we will be able to eat today.

Driving home, I realized there's a new store in the neighborhood.  Not a traditional supermarket, more like a produce store with lots of organic foods, lots of prepared foods, and a few grocery products.  I'd never stopped there before . . . OMG it was still open . . .

Half an hour later, my shopping was complete.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Found my two missing bracelets!  Happy.

Looking forward to the May box.


Drew and I were discussing where to go for vacation this summer. Last summer was the cruise, and before that was Disney/Universal, and before that was Colonial Williamsburg . . .

And we realized we can't really go anywhere.

We're funding a trip to Italy, it's Becca's graduation present.

And we both have other issues going on right now. Money is just a bit tight.

And since we want to do Greece and Turkey next year . . .

But it's not like we won't be having any fun. We have tickets for Broadway shows, concerts, baseball games. . .

And we will be doing a lot of day trips. We want to see the 9/11 Museum and memorial at the World Trade Center, and take a tour of West Point, maybe spend a day in Mystic. We are lucky to be within a day's ride of so many interesting things to do.

Our staycation is going to be a lot of fun.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."
Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.
Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.
Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.
Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.
A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.
It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.
It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.
It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.
You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.
So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Overland Park, Kansas and Donetsk, Ukraine

What do these two places have in common?

They both witnessed events that sent shivers of fear down the collective spine of the Jewish world. Two events, thousands of miles apart, but both on the eve of Passover, the Festival of Freedom, the defining moment in the history of the Jewish people.

In Kansas we saw a modern evil. A lone gunman, a white supremacist who has been very vocal in his anti Semitism, shot and killed two people at a Jewish community center, then shot and killed a third person outside a nearby Jewish assisted living facility, Village Shalom. How sad he chose to make war at a place named "Peace". Ironically, none of the victims was Jewish.

In the Ukraine . . . It feels like we have stepped back in time. Back to the 1930's and 1940's.

The Ukraine is in the middle of political turmoil. A leader deposed. Territory seized by Russia. Unrest, protests, a country where there is no peace.

In Donetsk, pro-Russian separatists have taken over government buildings and have declared a "people's republic." Their leader, Denis Pushilin, has set up a temporary government, in defiance of the central Ukrainian government.

On Tuesday, the first day of Passover, near the town's main synagogue, masked men handed out pamphlets, purportedly signed by Pushilin, in which it was written that all Jews over 16 must report to the Donetsk Regional Administration Building and pay a $50 fee to register themselves and all their property. Failure to do so will result in revocation of citizenship and deportation.

Clearly evocative of the Nazi era.

Pushilin has denied any involvement with the pamphlets. No one seems to know who was responsible for this.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spanish homework revisited

Last week one of Jen's cheerleaders messaged her: "I saw you on YouTube."

Jen was bewildered, until the young lady explained.

One of the Spanish teachers likes to give a group project.  The students are to write a script in Spanish, then make a video as they perform the script.  

The teacher told them she'd show a video a previous class did, so that they could get an idea of what she expected them to do.

So the video is a crime drama, a rich blonde woman is murdered, and two detectives must solve the crime.

And one of the boys in the class looks at the blonde in the video and says "Isn't that the cheer coach?"

Yes, as a matter of fact . . .

I'll spare you the YouTube link.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Demon cat

In medieval times cats were considered evil, the companions of witches, demons in disguise.

Now I understand why.

In a way you can't really blame Duchess. Her routine has been compromised, her domain invaded.

Last weekend Drew had a houseguest. And tonight he hosted a Seder, which meant furniture was rearranged to accommodate dinner guests.

Duchess was sleeping in the office when Nina and I walked in there to have a chat. Poor cat realized there was a STRANGER in the house and got spooked. We didn't notice which direction she ran.

After dinner we all realized that no one had seen the cat all evening. So we all started looking for her. Under the beds -- no luck. Under the dresser-- no cat. She wasn't in her favorite window. She wasn't in the upstairs bathroom. We checked all the closets, several times. Even went outside, in the rain, to look in the yard and under the cars.

Three different people checked the closet in the office, no cat.

And then Marc went onto the office to put leftovers in the spare refrigerator.

And guess who popped out of the closet as if nothing had happened?

She came out when she was good and ready.

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Once we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt . . .

Once again Passover is here. We gather together in my parents' dining room, read from Haggadahs that are wine-stained and contain matzah crumbs from decades of Seder dinners. We sing "Dayenu" and feast on gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzah balls, brisket. My mother is the "leader" now, my father listens intently. The "children" - now young adults from 17 to 24 - hide the afikomen, and it falls to me to redeem it.

The funniest moment of the night? We pour a cup of wine for the Prophet Elijah, and open the door to allow his spirit to enter our home . . .and, as if on cue, Redford the cat comes strolling in.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

The lonely daffodil

This daffodil is growing in the middle of Drew's lawn.  No idea how it got there.  He never planted daffodils anywhere in the yard.

Ayhan's for brunch

Having enjoyed countless dinners here, we were curious about Ayhan's Sunday brunch.

The price for the all-you-can-eat brunch is normally $16.99, but we had a coupon for $9.99 per person.  So off we went.

The salad table was very good.  It included peel-and-eat shrimp with cocktail sauce, hummus, tzaziki, green salads, pasta salads, couscous salads, pita bread. . . I really love their soft Turkish bread.  But everything was "prepared salad", there was no option to combine raw veggies into a salad.

The main buffet table held a few breakfast items, but focused on lunch foods.  Rice pilaf, lots of grilled chicken dishes, gyro meat.  I liked the felafel, loved the filet mignon.  Didn't care for the seasonings in the moussaka.Glad to see tahini as well as yogurt sauce on the table. 

I think I saw pizza as an offering as well.

We didn't try the desserts, though the baklava looked tempting.

coffee was not included in the price of the brunch.

Honest impression?  I love Ayhan's, but the brunch . . .worth what we paid for it, but I doubt I'd ever come for brunch without a coupon.

Ayhan's Shish Kebab on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Oy the pain redux

There comes a point where the pain cannot be controlled. It cannot be ignored.

Today the back spasms landed me in the emergency room.

Every get loopy on Percocet and Valium?

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Office gossip

There is always one person, in any large organization, who makes life "interesting".

In our office we have an individual I shall call "Grumpy".

He's been with the company for many years, been with our department for several years. Before I met him I heard gossip the he was weird, antisocial.

Then he started working with my group, and he seemed fairly normal and likable.

He ran into some problems both personally and professionally. At work there were some issues with his performance and his job was on the line. He was dealing with this while also trying to handle the aftermath of a car accident that left him in need of orthopedic surgery.

So he took a leave of absence to deal with his medical issues -- surgery and physical therapy.

The problems started when he came back.

He had asked for more leave time, and was denied.

So he came back with the proverbial chip on his shoulder. The day he came back, when I tried to welcome him back, he looked at me, rolled his eyes and ignored me. He was similarly dismissive of every coworker. Wouldn't talk to anyone unless he had to.

I haven't spoken to him since, and that was months ago.

I found out this week that I am not alone. No one has any use for him.

You have to wonder about a guy like that.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

oy, the pain!

Remember I had a situation in February, a lot of pain because I pulled a muscle in my back?

I've spent the better part of this week dealing with the same pain.

This is NOT fun.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My newest acquisition

Yes, I am a geek.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


I spent a lot of time recently blogging about my maternal grandmother. She was the only grandparent I knew, the others having passed away before I was born.

What I know about my paternal grand parents . . . My grandfather's name was Feivel . When he came to New York he anglicized it to Phillip. Later, when he was living in Brooklyn, he filed papers in Supreme Court, Kings County seeking to drop the unwieldy surname "some Cossack gave his ancestors" in favor of something short, sweet and very Jewish.

My grandmother's name was D'vora, she later called herself Dora (gee, where did I hear that before?).

They were born in a village outside of Kiev, in the Ukraine. Phillip came to America after the failed Russian Revolution of 1905 and sent for Dora later.

They lived in Brooklyn and raised 5 children. My father was the youngest. His sisters were 14, 12, 10 and 8 when he was born. Of course my father was a little prince.

(When I was a little girl I read the "All Of A Kind Family" series of books. That was pretty close to what my father's family was like.)

My grandfather was a seltzer man. He owned a truck, from which he made deliveries of soda and seltzer to people's homes.

There are two stories told about that truck.

Initially Phillip was in business with one of his brothers. The brother was married to Dora's best friend. There was a huge fight when the brother became disabled and could not work. From what I heard, the brother expected Phillip to support his brother's family as well as his own. The families stopped speaking to each other.

The second story is about a missed opportunity. Phillip was offered an office job and an ownership interest in a soda company. He turned it down because he liked his independence, he liked working outside. You can guess what happened. After many years as a successful local brand, the company was ultimately purchased by PepsiCo.


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This and that

So now that It looks like I cornered the market on Streit's matzo, we can plan our Seder.

No, $200 is not a lot to spend in the supermarket for 8 people and 2 cats.

I've already lost two of the bangles from the Wantable box -- bangle bracelets and coat/jacket season apparently do not mix well.

I actually ordered a "Deathly Hallows" bracelet. Yes, I am a Geek. Becca bought one, too. So proud of my Geek-ette.

But the Master Geek? Who do you know who wants to spend an entire weekend in Tarrrytown for a Dark Shadows convention? Yes, Dark Shadows. I'm sure it will be fun.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

More signs and portents?

Mars is in opposition to the earth on April 8. That means Mars, the sun and the earth are aligned.

The news anchor who reported this story tonight added "But Mars will be at its brightest on April 14."

The same night as the lunar eclipse. The blood moon.

Should be interesting.

Here's an interesting article:

This month we’re closer to Mars than Earth has come for almost 6½ years. The Red Planet appears brighter and bigger in the evening sky than it has since December 2007.
Mars in night sky
Mars will be its brightest in the second week of April. Use this diagram to find Mars in the dusk hours — click for a high-resolution version.
Anyone can spot Mars at a glance from anywhere in the world. During April it’s the brightest point in the southeast after dark (as seen from the world’s mid-northern latitudes. In the tropics, look east; in the south temperate latitudes, look northeast). Mars is moving though the constellation Virgo near the bright star Spica. This pairing offers a wonderful color contrast. Mars is the yellow-orange color of a campfire, while Spica, less bright, shines icy blue-white.

In the middle two weeks of April, Mars will shine with a brightness of magnitude -1.5, matching the luster of Sirius, and in a telescope it will appear 15.1 arcseconds across. April 8th is the planet’s opposition date: when it’s opposite the Sun in the sky. It passes closest to Earth on April 14th (the difference is due to the elliptical shape of Mars’s orbit.) But it appears practically the same size and brightness all month.
Mars and Spica cross the sky together from dusk to dawn. For telescope users, Mars is highest in the sky due south around the middle of the night.

A 4-inch or larger telescope on a night of steady atmospheric seeing will usually show at least a few light and dark regions, or albedo features, on the planet’s surface. The Martian northern hemisphere is tipped toward Earth this season, so amateur astronomers are able to track the North Polar Cap as it shrinks in the Martian northern hemisphere’s springtime. Backyard observers are already seeing the polar cap recede, exposing a ring of dark ground under its outer parts.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This second Captain America film finds our hero, Steve Rogers, becoming comfortable in the 21st century and running high tech missions for S.H.I.EL.D.

This is a dark movie, full of political intrigue and murky questions of ethics. So different from the first movie, which had clear villains and heroes.

I did catch many references to Bruce Banner and Tony Stark.

Do stay for the entire movie, including the credits. All of the credits.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Allan Sherman redux

So Mark Cohen came to our synagogue and gave a one-hour talk about Allan Sherman. His presentation included snippets of Sherman's songs, which he played from his boom box.

 His focus was how Sherman made ethnicity "cool", how he found his niche in 1962, before Fiddler on the Roof, Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, etc., made it "cool" to be Jewish, and before the Kennedy assassination and the British invasion ushered in the transformative 1960's. How the NY Times wrote an entire profile of Sherman without ever once using the word "Jewish".

It was clear, from the question and answer session, that most of my friends and neighbors had not read the book. But Cohen sold more than a few copies of the book, and autographed Drew's copy. (My copy is on my nook, making it much easier for me to read, but does not provide a place for the author's signature.)

 Here's another Sherman classic, posted by Cohen on his YouTube channel.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

MONSOON season

Returning to my recent theme, we tried that trendy Asian fusion restaurant, Monsoon.

The restaurant is located in a building that used to house a bank. An imposing edifice, it does not look at all like a restaurant.

Inside, however, it is sleek, modern, sophisticated.

And just a little pretentious.

Sort of like P. F. Chang's, only more "clubby".

The tables are set with conventional silverware and chopsticks, as well as containers of soy sauce, duck sauce and a sweet chili sauce.

The dinner menu, I'm told, was recently revamped, and several dishes were dropped and replaced by steaks. The choices range from dim sum to sushi to curry.

Sweet and sour chicken was breaded and fried -- much lighter than the standard version - with a sweet sauce and beautifully julienned peppers and carrots.

Pork fried rice was served in a deep bowl, and was topped with a whole fried egg. The dish was a bit bland until we added some soy sauce.

Shaking steak turned out to be cubes of beef in a rich sauce.

Old Style Pad Thai -- slightly undercooked rice noodles, with tofu and bean sprouts in a savory brown sauce.

Green tea was light and delicate and had a subtle flavor.

The best moment of the night? It came with the fortune cookies. They're specially prepared for Monsoon; one side contains your fortune, the other is imprinted with the URL for the restaurant's website.

Mine contained an atrocious pun: You Dim Sum, you lose some.

Drew opened his fortune and started to laugh.

For years, every time we've gone to a Chinese restaurant, when the fortune cookies came, Drew would inevitably make a joke as he read the fortune. "His" joke: "Help, I'm a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie bakery."

Guess what his fortune was tonight?

You guessed!

Too funny!

Of course there were leftovers (a wonderful lunch awaits). Desserts didn't really appeal.

Definitely a place worth coming back to.

Monsoon on Urbanspoon}

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Scott Shannon, once more

It seems the rumors are true, Scott and Todd were not getting along, and Todd apparently pushed Scott out because he wanted it to be "The Todd Show".

So now I listen to Scott and a bunch of people who used to be on WPLJ -- Joe Nolan, Patty Steele, Brad Blanks -- along with Mr. G the weatherman, who's been on WCBS since Harry Harrison was the morning mayor. It feels comfortable and familiar.

Even had a laugh the other morning when Scott "slipped", and accidentally gave the WPLJ call letters while announcing the time.

 I was never an Opie and Anthony fan, never listened even before they went to satellite radio, but I found this clip on YouTube, Scott called into their show the Friday before he started his show on WCBS. Opie and Anthony had nothing nice to say about Todd. Scott remained a gentleman about the whole situation.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Wantable box - update

So I wore the jewelry today.

The ring feels a bit heavy but looks nice.   I'll get used to the weight.

The bangle bracelets -- there are four gold toned and five black, makes for interesting patterns.

The earrings are nice, but I think they would have been better with a French back instead of a post -- the design. Made it a bit difficult to close properly.  And I can hear the two metal disks hit each other whenever I move my head, which some people might find annoying.  But the earrings are light and comfortable, and I think I'll be wearing them frequently.

Wonder what I'll get in May.
When fair April with his showers sweet,
Has pierced the drought of March to the root's feet
And bathed each vein in liquid of such power,
Its strength creates the newly springing flower;

When the West Wind too, with his sweet breath,
Has breathed new life - in every copse and heath -
Into each tender shoot, and the young sun
From Aries moves to Taurus on his run,
And those small birds begin their melody,
(The ones who 'sleep` all night with open eye,)
Then nature stirs them up to such a pitch
That folk all long to go on pilgrimage

And wandering travellers tread new shores, strange strands,
Seek out far shrines, renowned in many lands,
And specially from every shire's end
Of England to Canterbury they wend
The holy blessed martyr there to seek,
Who has brought health to them when they were sick.

It happened in that season that one day
In Southwark, at the Tabard, where I lay
Ready to travel to that holy site -
To Canterbury, with my spirits bright,
There came at evening to that hostelry
A group of twenty-nine, a company
Of various folk, to new found friendship come
By happy chance - and pilgrims every one
That for the Canterbury shrine were bound.

The bedrooms and the stables were well found.
There for our comfort was none but the best.
And briefly, when the sun had sunk to rest,
Since I spoke to them all in a friendly way,
I was quite soon 'one of the crowd` you might say.
We planned next day to be ready to go
At first light; to where, you already know.

Nevertheless, while I have space and time,
Before I go further in this tale of mine,
I feel the most natural thing to do,
Is to picture each of this group for you,
To tell you how they all appeared to me -
What sort they were and what rank they might be,
And what they wore, the clothes they were dressed in;
And first then with a knight I shall begin.

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