life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, June 27, 2014

Right this way, your table's waiting . . .

What good is sitting alone in your room?

Come hear the music play.

Life is a Cabaret ...

I'd seen the 1972 movie, of course, starring Liza Minelli and Joel Gray, but until tonight I'd never seen a stage production of Cabaret.

The Roundabout Theater Company has restaged it's 1998 production at Studio 54, once again starring Alan Cumming as the Emcee and with Michelle Williams as Sally Bowles.

Much as I think Liza and Joel were brilliant, and the movie deserving of all of its Oscars, I prefer the stage production. Especially as it is presented in this production.

When you walk into Studio 54 you almost think you're in the Kit Kat Club, orchestra seating for the show is at small tables, as if you were in a 1930's style nightclub. The theater ushers and the waitstaff (yes, you can order food) are dressed in costumes appropriate to the show. Our table was towards the back of the house. (I believe the mezzanine has traditional theater seating.). We ordered a nice cheese plate -- three different cheeses, fig jam, candied walnuts, crackers, grapes and strawberries. Very nice.

From the moment the house lights go down, and the Emcee takes the stage, you are transported back to Weimar Germany . . . Inside the club, life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful. The decadence, the highly sexualized world of the club contrasts with the outside world, the rise of the Nazis and the new world order. The Nazis start to infiltrate the club . . .

The Kander and Ebb score . . .the singing, the dancing. But no, there's no happy ending.

In fact, the ending startled me.

As the Emcee bids us goodbye, he takes off his leather coat . . . To reveal the striped uniform of a prisoner of a Nazi work camp, complete with yellow star and pink triangle badges.

Oh, and we had a brush with celebrity . . .

Apparently Shia LeBeouf, the movie actor, was in the house. And apparently he was drunk and disorderly. He was escorted out of the theater during intermission and was placed under arrest.

We had no idea this was happening.

The only thing out of place? At some point (and I don't know if it was before or after intermission), there was some sort of incident at the bar -- located at the very back of the house. We heard some glass breaking. Didn't hear anything else out of the ordinary.

Cumming was on stage when it happened. His eyes shifted towards the noise, but otherwise he didn't miss a beat.

Overall, another great evening of theater.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

A new beginning

Most people look forward to Friday as the work week ends.

I am looking forward to Friday as a new beginning.

After a lightning round of interviews, an offer and acceptance of employment, and a frustrating background check, I will start my new job Monday morning.

But on Friday, the new team is meeting for lunch and orientation, my first opportunity to meet with my new colleagues and coworkers.

I am the only woman on the team. It's a situation I haven't encountered before.

Should be interesting.

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Ipsy bag redux

Saw the body splash -- same fragrance, same size -- in the drugstore the other day.

Tossed the mascara. Thought about giving it to Becca the makeup maven. But if I won't use it because of the chemical smell, why on earth would I give it to my daughter?

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

My Name Is Victoria Winters

For the first time since I have come to live at Collinwood, I am away from the gloomy mansion I now call home. Waiting to see a man who may be able to help me in my search for my identity.

Yes, as you know, Drew and I are fans of the 1960's cult classic TV series, Dark Shadows. Well, Drew more than me, but we both liked the show. And the two movies made with original cast members.

(I don't remember the 1991 revival of the series -- it wasn't very good. The Johnny Depp movie two years ago was ok, but not fantastic.)

We used to go to Dark Shadows conventions at The World Trade Center back in the 80's. It was interesting to see the actors, blooper reels from the show, crazed fans swooping up mementos of the show . . .

When we visited Newport, RI, also before the children were born, we walked along the Cliff Walk and saw Carey Mansion, used for exterior shots of the fictitious Collinwood. And we took a trip to Tarrytown to see Lyndhurst Castle, the mansion used in House of Dark Shadows and Night of Dark Shadows.

That was a long time ago, of course. But we had fun.

So a few months ago, Drew said to me "There's a Dark Shadows convention in Tarrytown in June. Want to go?"

What could I say?

We're headed up there Friday night for a weekend of witches and ghosts and mysterious mansions. And the original tortured vampire, Barnabas Collins.

Should be interesting.

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Flaming Grill And Supreme Buffet

I first heard about this buffet in a blog that I follow. Drew heard about it from a friend who lives in the neighborhood. So when we got coupons, we decided to give it a try.

Located in a strip mall, this is a very large and busy buffet. We had to wait on line to pay (you pay for your meal before you are seated), another line at the hostess station to get a number, and an additional wait until our number was called and we were ushered to our table.

I must say that there is a wide variety of food, though a much larger assortment of American dishes and fewer Asian dishes than I've found in similar restaurants.

Overall the food was good for the price point, similar to what I've had at other buffets. A decent assortment on the sushi bar, with spicy mayo that had just the right kick.

Fried chicken wings were nicely done. Buffalo wings were sweet and mild, a bit disappointing because I was expecting a bit of spice. Fried shrimp were nice, egg roll was a bit bland. I tried both the fried rice and the hibachi rice, and much prefer the latter, as it was closer to what you might find at a teppanyaki restaurant. Didn't care for the pepper steak. Heard the dumplings were good, but never found them. Drew liked the dish he had prepared at the hibachi station, though he did complain the steak was a bit tough.

Dessert was ok. I don't know where they get their cream puffs, but the cream inside is not sweet. The flan was excellent. Chocolate layer cake was ok. Fruit was fresh, but the cherries a bit on the tart side.

Overall, a decent experience, and I'd eat there again if I find myself in Baldwin, but this is not about to become one of our destinationrestaurants

Flaming Grill Buffet on Urbanspoon}
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Oh What A Night

So yes, we are Frankie Valli fans. Saw him in concert at Westbury last year.

And yes, we saw Jersey Boys on Broadway two years ago, and loved it.

So of course we had to see the new movie last night.

Honest opinion? I think I would have liked the movie better if I hadn't seen the show on Broadway. The movie wasn't bad, but it lacked the excitement and the vitality of the show.

The movie drags a bit in the beginning, when they're talking about the old neighborhood. But once Frankie and Tommy and Nick team up with Bob and create the Four Seasons sound, things get more interesting.

And, of course, there's the music. That fabulous music. Music that will live forever.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

My career girls!

Becca is so excited, she starts her new job -- her first "real person" job -- on July 7. She will be a legal assistant in a law firm. Last night she was modeling her new "career girl" dresses. She told me "I want to be the girl with the pretty clothes."

But don't think she's shallow. She works hard and wants to be recognized for her efforts. But she's also a fashionista.

Jen is looking forward to the end of the school year. She'll be moving up to the middle school with her student. It's the same middle school she attended.

She will be back at the day camp this summer, same job as last year -- one of the staff running the zip line, rock wall, etc. It pays more than being a counselor with a group of kids, she gets to meet most of the kids in camp, and she likes the work.

So exciting.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ipsy bag update

Decided to give the eyeliner to Becca. She loves makeup and thinks a trip to Sephora is like a ticket to paradise. She loves the eyeliner.

I read on a message board that the mascara had a foul odor. Opened it and didn't initially smell anything. But as soon as I brought the wand closer to my face . . . Ugh. By contrast, my Maybelline Great Lash is odor free. Not sure I am brave enough to try Bombshell.

The beach spray, however, had a sweet smell, sort of like coconuts, or tanning lotion. And it did the job, created waves in my hair.

The Butter Gloss -- that lovely color is called Apple Strudel -- feels like lip balm but looks like gloss. Smooth. Nice. Pretty.

And I already mentioned how I like Forever Paris. Pleasant scent.

Three out of five pleased me. One pleased my daughter. Only one dislike. Guess I did well.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

reveling in 21st century technology

Becca has been away from home, enjoying a vacation in Italy.  The cost of a phone call is ... well, you really don't want to know.  But with free WiFi in her hotel, and apps like What's App and FaceTime, we've been able to keep in touch, and I know she's had a wonderful trip.

I don't own a printer/scanner right now, so today I went into OfficeMax and had them scan a document to my flash drive so that I could upload it to my laptop and email it.  Email has taken the place of old fashioned letters sent through the US Post office.

Even nostalgia...yesterday I was listening to Casey Kasem on satellite radio.  Although I was mourning the death of shared cultural experiences, I was able to indulge in nostalgia on a modern convenience....while Googling on y iPad for information about American Top 40.  And laughing at my own folly.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Ipsy Bag

Continuing my new trend of subscription boxes, I decided to try Ipsy cosmetics.

I just received my first Ipsy bag.

And I do mean "bag".  All of the products were packed in a pretty floral cosmetic bag.

There's a lip gloss in a pretty coral shade. It's a full sized product. I usually don't wear coral, so this will be an experiment.

Be a Bombshell mascara, also full sized.  The variety is called "lash out".  No indication of color or whether the product is waterproof.

Jesse ' s Girl liquid eyeliner, waterproof,  in black.  I never got the knack of how to use eyeliner.  I'll play.

Essence of Beauty body spray, Forever Paris.  2 oz. size, perfect to carry in your purse.  Nice floral scent.

Marc Anthony Dream Waves Beach Spray. 1.52 oz.  Spray it on your hair to create waves.  I just bought a similar product, so I'm eager to try this one.

Songbird Salutes the 70's: Rest in Peace, Casey Kasem

In the 21st Century we have options. Don't like what you're seeing on the hundreds of channels your cable provider has, you can watch what you want on your DVD player or stream something from Netflix. Radio? You've got terrestrial stations on AM and FM, specialty stations on satellite radio, stations from other places on, and even stations based on your own preferences on Pandora.

It wasn't always like this.

We all listened to the same shows years ago.

American Top 40, hosted by Casey Kasem, oh what a show that was. The top 40 songs of the week. Tidbits about the artists. The long distance dedications.

What a voice Casey had. Smooth and friendly. From his first show in 1970 until his last in 2009, he brought us an eclectic assortment of rising and fading stars. Of music from various genres. A microcosm of our culture in a brief radio show.

He died today. Sirius Radio's 70's station ran a marathon of the shows from the 70's in his memory. How interesting to hear about that new artist, Gordon Lightfoot. Or to hear him refer to the Jackson 5 as "the mini Temptations".

Another piece of my childhood is gone.

Thank you, Casey, for all that wonderful music.

Keep you feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

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NYC on a Saturday night

Another wonderful evening in the city. We had tickets to "The Book of Mormon".

Lots of activity on the streets of the Theater District. Tourists. Cartoon characters (the usual Mickey and Minnie, Mario, minions, superheroes). The Statue of Liberty. The Naked Cowboy and several female imitators. Some Vegas-style showgirls wearing feathered headdresses, lots of body paint and very little else. Street musicians. Street vendors.

And as an additional surprise, a real street fair, with the usual funnel cake, Italian sausage, gyros, arepas . . .

We had dinner in the Brooklyn Diner. We usually go with burgers here, but this time we had pastrami. Excellent. Small problem -- our waiter apparently had better things to do, but the rest of the staff picked up the slack.

And then the show. Drew won the tickets in an auction, so we didn't get to choose our seats. We usually prefer the orchestra, but we wound up in front row mezzanine. Great seats.

The show is irreverent, raunchy and wickedly funny. How could it not be, with all those "South Park" writers as its creators? My favorite moments? When Price dreams he's in Orlando and you can see the EPCOT ball and Cinderella's Castle. (One of the writers also did a lot of work for Disney.). And when Arnold is making things up again, and you see Hobbits and Darth Vader and Yoda and Lt. Uhura from "Star Trek".

Afterwards we got a backstage tour. Saw the costume shops and quick change areas, the pit, and, if course, the stage.

Yet another wonderful evening in that wonderful city.

Brooklyn Diner USA on Urbanspoon}

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Friday, June 13, 2014


I start a new job on June 30th. It's a bit unnerving to shake up my life after 12 years at my old employer. But the new position is different, exciting, I'll be working in Manhattan for a few months before moving to the company's offices, five minutes from my home.

It's exciting and just a little bit scary.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

The first baseball game of the season

By now, if you've been reading this blog with regularity, you know that Drew and I live baseball.

Our hearts belong to the NY Mets, of course. But these days it's tough to be a Mets fan. As consolation I remind myself that Yankees fans are currently experiencing the same misery . . .

Tonight we went to a Long Island Ducks game. I love Atlantic League games, they're less serious, more kitschy than major league games. Tonight we had Joe's unused season tickets, behind home plate, with access to the VIP restaurant. Joe actually took us into the control room this time, and introduced us to the crew.

The Ducks feasted on fish tonight. The final score was Ducks 8, Bridgeport Bluefish 1.

Interesting bit of news. When the Bluefish play their next home stand, one night they will have a guest manager. Pete Rose.

Yes, THAT Pete Rose.

Ah, the joys of being independent from Major League Baseball.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

This and that

Jen is still having drama from the j.v. coach. She's hoping to replace her next year with someone who will respect her authority as varsity coach and present a unified front to the team.

Becca is enjoying Italy. She loves the food, the art, the romance, and did I mention the food?

I thought the roommate wars were over, but apparently instead of lasting peace, Drew and Marc merely had a truce. The cease-fire ended the other night. It has not been pretty. As in, I made jokes about Drew needing a body bag and a bucket of bleach and a mop to clean up the mess.

The situation with Drew's sister and their uncle is deteriorating as well. Last Saturday there was a crisis of sorts, the police actually stopped by the house to make sure the uncle was ok.

Nerves are frazzled in this crazy, mixed up family too. But we're coping.

But it's summertime, the weather has improved, and I'm looking forward to lots of fun times.

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Remember I told you that my old elementary school is closing? So sad.

Jen has been spending time at the school. She's helping a friend pack up her classroom - Kim was Becca's third grade teacher and became a family friend. She will be moving to another school in the district, along with 20 years of classroom materials and memories.

It's weird hearing Jen refer to the teachers in that school by their first names. But she's not the 4 1/2 year old who first set foot in that building, eager to register for kindergarten. She's a college graduate and a school district employee, and those teachers are now her coworkers and colleagues.

So sad to see the school closing. So many memories.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Want able, an interesting concept

So after I posted my Wantable review I decided to check out what other people received.

Wantable claims each box is tailored to the recipient's tastes, and I believe them. I read four other reviews of the June box. No one else got the pieces I received. And each of the reviewers got a different group of items.

So far I have liked most of the items in my monthly box. As for the other boxes? I liked most of what I saw.

It's like getting a present every month, specially chosen for you, and you get to enjoy the surprise as you unwrap everything in the box.

I am definitely enjoying this.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Both Sides Now

Drew has been watching reruns of "Murphy Brown". It was a show we both loved back in the 80's and 90's. What's not to love? A sitcom built around a strong, intelligent, take-charge woman, very political, and also very very funny.

So the other day he told me "There's an episode you really need to see. It's going to make you cry."

It was an episode from May 1993. The basic plot of the episode was Murphy trying to juggle motherhood and career as she planned her son's first birthday party. At the end of the episode, there is a tender moment where guest star Barry Manilow sings "I Am Your Child" while Murphy holds the baby in her lap, imagining him as a school boy, a teenager, a college student, a grown man with a child of his own.

When that show aired in 1993 Jen was 2 1/2 and Becca was 10 months old, and I was juggling career, motherhood and marriage. And yes, I would often try to imagine my children as adults.

And now, in 2014, those diaper-clad munchkins have somehow developed into grown women, both college graduates, who are involved with lives of their own. Strong, intelligent, beautiful women who do me proud.

Where did 20 years go?

Drew knows me so well. The show made me cry.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

June Wantable box

I needed a bit of cheering up, and here was a brand new accessories box to do the job.

My box contained: the Alia earrings,  lovely drops in bronze tones; the Amelia ring, a stretch design covered with rhinestones; and the Margaery necklace, multiple chains accented with rhinestones and beads.

I love, love, love drop earrings.   I will definitely wear these.

I don't usually like stretch rings, but this one feels oh so comfortable.

I still haven't worn the statement necklace from last month's box.  I will just have to make an effort to incorporate these into my look.

I think this has been the best box so far.

Maleficent -- spoiler alert

"Sleeping Beauty" was first released in 1959, before I was born. It wasn't re-released until 1970. In the pre-cable tv, pre-VCR/DVD world, if a movie wasn't on TV ("The Wizard of Oz" was an annual event), you had to wait for a movie to be re-released to theaters if you missed it the first time. So I would not have had an opportunity to see the film until I was ten years old.

And yet I have memories of the film that predate its re-release. I'm sure I saw clips on "The Wonderful World of Disney". And I had a record album, with an accompanying picture book, Mary Martin reading the story of Sleeping Beauty, and, of course, it included the songs from the soundtrack. (You can actually find this on YouTube and iTunes!  Here's a link. )

Definitely one of my favorites, when it was re-released in 1979 I dragged some college friends to the movie theater across the street from the campus to see it.

Beautiful animation, a lovely princess, humor, an evil villainess and that wondrous Tchaikovsky music! Absolutely divine.

And that villainess. Maleficent. Evil and elegant. Amazing.

When I visited Disneyworld in the 90's I always found interesting things in the Villains shop. I am the proud owner of a long sleeved t shirt bearing Maleficent's image. The "wallpaper" on my cell phone is an image of Maleficent as she appeared in a show in front of Cinderella's Castle.

So you know I had to, simply had to, see the new movie, "Maleficent".

I loved it.

Angelina Jolie not only looks the part, she has turned Maleficent into a real person with a full range of emotions.

King Stefan is the real villain of the story, he ruins his relationship with Maleficent through his own greed and ambition. His fear of her potential revenge ruins his life, he becomes paranoid and obsessed.

When Stefan betrays Maleficent by cutting off her wings, Maleficent's anguish and hatred is overwhelming. She is wickedly charming at Aurora's christening, adding the false hope of redemption through "true love's kiss", when neither she nor Stefan believes that true love exists.

Maleficent is healed and saved through her relationship with Aurora. And Aurora is saved from Maleficent's curse, not by the fumbling first kiss bestowed by Prince Phillip, but by Maleficent herself. Maternal love given to Aurora and daughterly devotion returned by her saves Aurora from endless sleep.

And yes, you will hear "Once Upon A Dream"; it's sung over the credits.

A very different take on the story, but one I thoroughly enjoyed.

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