life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

more holiday lights

Very nice display, and you can get music on your car radio to accompany the display.


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

And I'm not alone

This article says it all. 

Holistic or horrifying? Not everyone loves Weight Watchers’ new program.

Well, actually, Foster claims, it has been a perk for lots of people. “One of the things we’re hearing anecdotally is, ‘Boy, this is really great; usually I would have gained weight during the holidays, but now I’m actually losing,’ ” he says.
The launch wasn’t aimed at holiday indulgence, he says; it was about bracing for the inevitable New Year’s wave of determined new dieters.
“We wanted to give our current members this short period of transition before there’s a lot of new people coming in January,” he said. “That way, when new folks come in, they can lean on the people who have already, in a few weeks, mastered the plan.”
Well, it might take more than a few weeks.

Weight Watchers: This time, it's not me, it's you

Sorry, but this post is going to be very long.

So, if you know me, or if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I've been fighting the Battle of the Bulge for most of my adult life.  When you have a serious weight issue, it's not just a question of "what's on your plate", it's also a question of "what's in your head".  I've spent a long time trying to figure out what's in my head, and I think I've finally got a handle on that.  But that's a conversation for another day; today I want to talk about "what's on my plate", or rather, what programs do and do not work for me.

The laws of physics are immutable -- for weight loss to occur, calories out must exceed calories in.  Good nutrition is equally important.  But I think an eating plan (I won't use the word "diet") has to be flexible, enjoyable, and sustainable.  If you do something to lose weight, but then cannot make it a lifestyle change, you're going to gain it all back. 

I never had an interest in crazy, fad diets.   The cabbage soup diet?  You've got to be kidding.  Paleo?  No way!  The raw food diet?   Not my idea of fun.  The Twinkie diet?  Get real.

Then there are the diets that tell you what to eat.  Jenny Craig.  Nutrisystem.  Medifast.  You buy their foods, you don't have to think.  Just eat what they put on your plate.  Good weight loss, good nutrition, but what have you learned?

My sister once lost a lot of weight on a medically -supervised liquid diet.  But she found it hard to stick with the plan even while losing weight, and then she gained it all back as soon as she went back to real food.

Then there was Atkins.  In its original form, it encouraged you to eliminate entire food groups.  It's more balanced now, but still...And South Beach and The Zone just seem like Atkins clones.

No, my plan of choice has always been Weight Watchers.

I first joined WW in the 90's.  And followed the plan for awhile before I quit.  And rejoined, and quit.  And rejoined, and quit.  And...well, you get the idea.  And each time I quit, it was because of what was going on in my head. 

The last time, I'd lost 70 pounds.  Can you believe it?  In 2009 I lost 70 pounds on Weight Watchers.

And gained it all back.  And then some.

Yeah, I did that to myself.  It wasn't Weight Watchers' fault, of course.  It was mine.

I joined Weight Watchers (again) in March of this year, this time as an "online only" member.  For a small monthly fee, I had access to  eTools, the WW program that tracks food, exercise and weight, by going to the WW website or downloading an app to my phone or iPad.  I could also access articles and videos that would give me recipes, exercise ideas, weight loss strategies, etc.  I could participate in the online community.  And, of course, I could purchase WW products -- scales, measuring cups, cookbooks, t shirts, etc.  And then I found out I could link my Fitbit account to my WW account, and WW would import information from Fitbit and automatically calculate the activity points I'd earned.

Sounds good, right?

And then, in the summer, I upped my membership to include weekly meetings.  And I liked going to the meetings.  Especially when I realized that the new "theme" was to address the "whole person", not just the part that was involved in losing weight.  A happy person makes better choices, and all that.

As of this morning, I've lost 42 pounds since March.  Yay, me!

So why am I quitting Weight Watchers?

It's because of the new program, Smartpoints, and the changes in the technology that were made to accommodate Smartpoints.

No, I don't really care that every time they develop a new program, all the tools they sold you before become obsolete.  I don't mind buying new gadgets. 

So first, the technology.

In November, members were given the option to test out a new tracker, then in beta form, and give feedback.  I liked the new format, gave mostly positive feedback.  The new format dropped some features that I liked, but overall looked easy to use.

It went live just before Thanksgiving, and it was a disaster. So many bugs and glitches that the site crashed, or the app wouldn't sync with the site, etc.  It was so bad that the CEO had to write a letter of apology.  It was so bad that the company had to give partial refunds to subscribers. 

Not to mention,  they didn't take into account any of the feedback they got from members.

It was so bad, they delayed the release of the new fitness app, Fitbreak.    And when they did release the new app, I discovered it's only available for iPhone.  Not only can't I get it on my Android phone, I can't even get it on my iPad!

I kind of expected that.  Back in the day when I had a Palm Pilot, WW came up with a way to track on your PDA -- but only if you had the "right" PDA (I didn't).  And even those who had the right PDA often complained that they couldn't sync with the website.  And later, when WW developed an app, it was only for IOS systems, and those of us with Android had to complain long and loud to get an app of our own.  Even now, you have to have the right brand of activity tracker in order to sync with WW, and I've experienced  several times when I couldn't sync from Fitbit to WW -- almost always because of a problem at WW.

Well, if it was just the technology, I would muddle through, as I always do. 

No, the final straw was Smartpoints.  Rolled out during Chanukah and just before Christmas.  Rolled out after only 3 months of testing on real human beings.

So PointsPlus took into account four aspects of nutrition -- fat, fiber, protein and carbohydrates.    Smartpoints considers seven pieces of information -- calories, fat, saturated fat, carbs, fiber, sugar and protein.      It's supposed to steer you towards better choices, better nutrition.

What it does is steer you away from carbs. 

The first shock was when I calculated the points for my yogurt and cereal breakfast.  A breakfast I'd been eating regularly since March now contained too many points to fit into a normal day.

And this during latke season?

I gave up tracking my food halfway through the first week.   It was NOT  a good week.

The next week, I decided to do an experiment.  I double tracked.  That is, I tracked points on WW, and I tracked the same food on My Fitness Pal.  My Fitness Pal is calorie-based.  It gives you a calorie budget, but also gives feedback on the nutritional content of the food you're tracking.  I gave myself a calorie budget designed to induce a 1 pound per week weight loss.

And then I ate the same way I've been eating since March. 

At the end of the week, I was way over my WW points budget.

At the end of the week, My Fitness Pal told me I was under budget every day, and that my food choices were nutritionally balanced.

I lost two pounds.

The following week, I was way over budget on WW points, but on My Fitness Pal I was under budget most days, over budget twice, eating healthy.  And I lost a pound.

I haven't tracked at all on WW this week.  I'm doing calories on My Fitness Pal, and I'm doing just fine.

Essentially WW went from a flexible, "eat whatever you want within reason" plan to a plan where carbs are the enemy.  If I'd wanted Atkins, South Beach or The Zone, I would have signed up for those programs.

So, sorry, Weight Watchers, but here's where you and I part company.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas festiviies

Out to dinner with friends Christmas Eve.  I won't mention the name of the restaurant, because it's a place we love, but the experience was lacking that night.  Manager made it right, though, so we will definitely be back.

Christmas morning we went to the movies.  Very different experience from the other night.  This theater has recliners, and assigned seating -- I much prefer that to the mad dash for seats in a more traditional theater.  We saw Sisters, a comedy with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.  They play sisters who return home because their parents are selling their childhood home.  Enjoyable, funny movie.  Although it's set in Orlando, Florida, many of the scenes (including the house) were filmed on Long Island -- we had fun trying to figure out where they shot certain scenes.

Then it was out for Chinese buffet Christmas night, and home in time for the Dr. Who Christmas special.    And this geek girl is asking herself why she never got into Dr. Who until now.  

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Star Wars: the Force Awakens (spoiler alert)

Star Wars is the kind of movie you should see in IMAX 3D.  Of course, that means getting to the theater very, very early if you want to have a choice of seats.  Drew and I were first on line.  Yes, we are crazy.   And I almost killed him -- I didn't read any reviews, didn't want any spoilers, and he casually mentioned that Leia had become a general.

 Coming attractions brought us trailers for Star Trek, Batman and Captain America -- sounds like we're going to have a few movies to see next summer.

And then the lights went down, that familiar theme music began to play and the familiar words scrolled across the screen.

The movie pays homage to the original in so many ways.  A secret hidden in a Droid, an orphan raised on a desert planet, a battle to destroy a planet-killing machine.

Han Solo doesn't show up until almost an hour into the movie, Leia much later than that, and Luke...

Instead, the initial focus is on a younger generation: Finn, the former storm trooper with a conscience; Rey, the orphan girl who is an incredible pilot;  and Kylo Ren, grandson of Darth Vader, anxious  to follow in his footsteps.

I like that Ren turned out to be Ben Solo, the son of Han and Leia, pulled towards the light even as he seeks out the dark.  Sets things up for the next movie.  Interesting that we never hear his real name until the final confrontation with his father.

I had a feeling Rey was a Skywalker even before her mystical encounter at the cantina.  I suspect that she is Luke's child.  Can't wait for the next movie.

I saw an interesting parallel between the Force Awakens and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  but while Indiana Jones reunites with a lost love and discovers his son, Han Solo's reunion with his ex is brief, he is estranged from his son, and the story ends with a death instead of a wedding.

When Han died, I cried.

It's good to see the spirit of the original three films back.  JJ Abrams was the oerfect choice to direct this movie.  Can't wait to see the enxt one.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Another ride around the neighborhood

A few more interesting houses.

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Did you see the hologram in the upstairs window?  An interesting visitor!

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And last but not least: Minions!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Space...the Final Frontier

So yeah, the geek girl loved the 3 foot tall Dalek she saw in the store in Bryant Park.  They also had smaller models from various science fiction movies and TV shows, including one of The Millennium Falcon. 

And joining C-3PO as a vocal cue on my phone ... my ringtone is now now ... well, the phone sounds exactly like a Star Trek communicator.

You're shocked, I can just tell. 

You've been wondering why I haven't mentioned what I thought of The Force Awakens.  I don't have an opinion ... yet.  I haven't seen it.  It's been a royal pain avoiding spoilers.  But that problem will be remedied tonight.

In real-science space news, two celestial happenings, an interesting bit of news, and a major achievement.

Last night the skies lit up with strange light, which turned out to be space debris from a Russian rocket.

Tonight we will see an asteroid pass thisclose to the Earth.  Asteroid 2003 SD220 is apparently shaped like a chicken tender, and will be a mere 6.7 million miles away.

For the first time in nearly 40 years, a full moon will light up the pre-dawn sky on Christmas Day.  The full moon — which hasn’t been seen on Christmas since 1977 — will peak Friday at 6:11 a.m. Eastern .  Another full moon won’t be visible on Dec. 25 until 2034.

And the SpaceX mission is a success.  SpaceX achieved a first in its history by completing an historic vertical landing of its Falcon 9 rocket in Florida Monday night.  That's pretty cool, isn't it?

Here's the Dalek again, just because I liked it so much.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Big Trees, Broadway and The Beatles, Part 2

So then it was on to the Theater District. We got a cup of coffee and headed to Times Square.  They still have "2015" at One Times Square, I think they wait until after Chrsitmas to get the ball ready for New Year's.

(Excuse the poor videography, it's a cheap camera and a poorly trained videographer.)

Noises Off.   I'd seen it, several years ago, with my sisters and my daughters -- we were seated in the front row, and Peter Gallagher literally climbed over us to get onto the stage.  But Drew had never seen it.

It's comedy, it's farce, it's very funny.  It uses the play-within-a-play format, engaging in lots of physical comedy, including lots of banging doors, and some witty lines.  Very enjoyable.

And how do the Beatles fit into all of this?

We finished off the evening at the Hard Rock Café.  Drew had a steak and I had a pulled pork sandwich.  And we were seated directly under this:

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Here are the links to our previous Christmas adventures:

Big Trees, Broadway and The Beatles, part 1

Last week we rode into the city with the Santacon people, we  saw Something Rotten and had dinner in Chinatown.  This week, we had tickets for Noise Off, and decided we'd do our annual Christmas windows viewing before the show. 

As always, we started with Macy's.  The 34th Street windows, as usual, featured Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus. The Herald Square windows featured a salute to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

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Lord and  Taylor had a "sweet shop" theme. And an all-white clock.

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Grabbed a hot dog from a street vendor, then on to the library and Bryant Park.

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Saw some interesting shops in the park. This little item was so cute:

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Yes, a 3 foot tall Dalek. Yours for only $8,000. 

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We also stopped by No Chewing Allowed -- they sell French truffles so smooth that you can just let it melt in your mouth.

Then it was on to Saks. Their theme this year involved winterized versions of the wonders of the world -- the Sphinx, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal. 
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You can see the Rockefeller Christmas tree across the street.

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After dark, Saks does a light show. Usually I watch it from across the street, but this year we saw it from the sidewalk in front of Saks. Weird angle.  

On to Barneys. They did ice castles. And had a guy in the window demonstrating ice carving.  

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Of course the snowflake hangs over 5th Avenue. 

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Next it was on to Bergdorf Goodman. Their windows are called "Brilliant" and were done in partnership with Swarovski. I think these were my favorites.

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And finally, down to Rockefeller Center, and the big tree.  

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Blackstone Steakhouse

Blackstone Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Had lunch here with some coworkers to celebrate the holidays. 

The restaurant is set up as a very large, single room, with the bar off to one side of the hostess station.  Lots of dark wood and earth tones.  I loved the gas fireplace in the window, visible as you come towards the restaurant from the parking lot.

Service was impeccable.

The food?  Amazing.

I loved the bread -- a very hearty loaf with dense crust, served with olive oil for dipping.

 I started with a shrimp cocktail -- four large, very fresh shrimp with a slightly spicy but not overpowering cocktail sauce.  I almost regretted my choice, though, when I saw the sushi appetizer one of my colleagues ordered.

Seafood and other entrees are accompanied by side  dishes, but steaks and chops are served a la carte.  You can order sides, such as vegetables, hash browns or macaroni and cheese -- the sides are large enough to share.  I ordered veal -- a very thick chop, lightly seasoned and grilled to perfection.  Grilled asparagus was crisp and tasty.  Creamed spinach was smooth and mellow.

All of the desserts looked decadent.  I had the chocolate chip crème brulee, a very smooth, velvety custard and crispy sugar topping.  Bliss.

A note about parking.  The  restaurant offers valet parking service -- a wise choice, especially during the workday, since the restaurant shares a lot with nearby office buildings.

I was very happy with my experience here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015


No, I didn't really need that sweater dress  But it looked so nice, and I was certain it would feel so cozy. With my coupon it was very reasonably priced, so I ordered it from the website.

and yes, it lived up to expectations. 

I wore the dress exactly one time.

The second time I put it on, I planned to wear it to a holiday lunch.  But before I even left the house, I snagged it on something, and a section of it unraveled.

I'm sure it's very fixable, if you know what you're doing.

I don't.

So it's off to the dry cleaners I go, they advertise that they fix sweaters....


Friday, December 18, 2015

eldercare update

Marvin is in the hospital again.  He's going to be there a few days, but he'll be fine.  Overall he's been doing well at the nursing home.  Drew went shopping right after Thanksgiving, bought him some warm clothes.  Moving him out of Shelley's house was absolutely the right decision.

Shelley is still not talking to either of us.  I think Drew kind of missed going to her union's holiday party this year.    From what I  hear from mutual friends, she hasn't had an easy time of things these last few months.  But she hasn't visited Marvin since June or July, I think.  It's so sad.

A mutual friend posted on Shelley's Facebook, asking her to join all of s for New Year's Eve.  I know she won't.  Sigh.

Thursday, December 17, 2015


I am at a loss today, no ideas whatsoever for this blog. The blank screen is taunting me.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

C-3PO is my navigator

Yes, I am enjoying the hype over Star Wars.  And no, I haven't lost my mind.

Not yet, anyhow.

Modern technology, the smart phone.  You hold in your hand a very small device more powerful than the computers aboard the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.  It's a communicator, a camera, a navigational device, an entertainment unit, a database of all the  knowledge of the universe...Makes me think of all those great devices you'd see on Star Trek ... when I program my GPS, I hear a voice in my head, Mr. Sulu confirming, "Course plotted and laid in, Captain."

My favorite GPS program is Waze.  I have it on my phone and on my iPad.  It's very interactive, not only does it give you directions and show you traffic patterns, Waze members warn each other of traffic hazards such as traffic jams, accidents, police cars, red light cameras...A very useful tool.

Well, like many other apps, Waze allows you to select the voice that will be your guide.  You can pick American English (Jane, Amy, Nathan), you can select British English (Kate, Thomas, Simon), you can choose a number of foreign languages (Spanish, Dutch, Hebrew).  Whatever suits your needs.

And now you can choose a voice called "Star Wars", which includes C-3PO, R2-D2 and BB-8.

So now I have C-3PO telling me to "kindly turn right, Master" and warning me "Red light camera ahead.  May the Force be with you!"

Yes, I am a geek.

And proud of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Songbird Salutes the 70's: Star Wars

With all the hype lately about "Star Wars:The Force Awakens", opening this weekend, it's hard to remember a time before "Star Wars" existed.

But in 1977, science fiction and fantasy was dying as a movie genre.  And then, that summer, science fiction was reborn.    A hero, dressed in white, all innocent and pure.  A princess in need of rescue.  A lovable scoundrel.  A mysterious mentor.  And a villain, all in black, representing pure evil.  Typical space opera, done on a grander scale, with special effects that were amazing, dazzling, magical.

It spawned two sequels (arguably better than the original), three prequels (not my favorites), tv specials, cartoons, tons of merchandise, and one helluva parody -- Mel Brooks' "Space Balls".  It gave new life to the genre -- "Star Trek:The Motion Picture" was released two short years later.

And it became a cultural phenomenon.  Can you imagine life without these phrases:

"Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."

"These are not the droids you are looking for."

"Use the Force, Luke."

"Do or do not, there is no try."

"Luke, I am your father."

"I love you" and the response, "I know."

And, of course, 

"May the Force be with you."

In "Men In Black 3", Will Smith tells Josh Brolin "Don't use that Jedi mind trick on me", and we all know what he means, no one has to explain to us what a Jedi mind trick is.

I saw the first "Star Wars" movie in the then-brand-new, state-of-the-art, multiplex theater at Sunrise Mall, with my then-boyfriend, a science/engineering major at a local college (I was terribly impressed with his credentials, I was still in high school).  I was a science fiction geek, I read Asimov and Clarke and Heinlein and Bradbury, and I was immediately drawn into the excitement of a space epic.

And history was made.

I am so looking forward to the new movie.

Monday, December 14, 2015

New Year's Eve

So it's mid December, time for the annual New Year's Eve argument discussion.

When I heard Jimmy Buffett was planning a show at the Barclay Center, I gave serious thought to buying tickets. Because planning New Year's Eve with our friends...not fun.

Drew decided that this year he cannot host the party, setting up and cleaning up would be too much of a pain.  So we have to find a restaurant that is having a party, that is reasonably priced, that serves food we all like...and we have to be sensitive to someone with an allergy to tomatoes. 

Drew has a list of local restaurants, the newspaper published a guide to New Year's Eve last week.

So let the planning and the bickering begin.

Maybe I'll get lucky, and we'll win ticket's to Jimmy's concert.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Maccabeats - Latke Recipe - Hanukkah

The Maccabeats take current popular songs and rewrite the lyrics to honor Jewish holidays and other Jewish occasions. This is their 2015 Hanukkah offering.


Santacon, Shakespeare and Steamed Dumplings

Occasionally Drew visits a website that runs charitable auctions. You can bid on merchandise, theater tickets, sports tickets, whatever has been donated. Thursday night he told me he placed a bid on tickets for the Saturday matinee of "Something Rotten", a show we both wanted to see. And Friday night, we found out that his was the winning bid.

So Saturday morning we headed to our neighborhood Long Island Rail Road station to board a train into the city.

And immediately realized that it was no ordinary Saturday.

It was Santacon.

Santacon is a huge pub crawl. It has a charitable purpose, but tends to attract a very young, very loud crowd. Participants dress as Santa Claus, elves, etc. I wish I'd been able to take some decent photos, some of the costumes were outrageous. I saw people dressed as Christmas presents, Christmas trees, reindeer, even a snowman. The noise level on our train ... Drew and I wound up texting each other, it was easier than trying to talk.

We parted company with the Santas at Penn Station, and headed up to the Theater District. Along the way we passed a Salvation Army bell ringer singing "Build Me Up, Buttercup." Not exactly a Christmas Carol, but the crowd seemed to enjoy it. What ever puts money in the bucket, right?

And then, the show. Pure comedic genius. It's the 1590's in England, and our protagonists, Nick and Nigel Bottom, are actors and writers, trying to compete with William Shakespeare. The Bard is portrayed as a rock star. The show pays homage to every iconic musical of the past 50-60 years. The show is funny even if you don't know a lot of Shakespeare, but those of us who love the Bard ...well, I laughed a lot. So did Drew. Great show.

Then it was a subway ride to Chinatown, and our favorite restaurant, Wo Hop. Soup, steamed dumplings, lo mein...the place is a hole in the wall, but the food is amazing.

And then it was back to Penn Station, and Santacon redux. We rode home with many who had participated in the day's events. Two young ladies gave us a rendition of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" in the key of awful. And then they led a sing-along of '12 Days of Christmas".

This time of year we like to look at Christmas light displays as we drive around. Tonight we saw a few very nice displays.

We're headed back to the city next weekend for more holiday fun.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Ocho Kandelikas

this song is in Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish. It is the langugae of Sephardic Jews.

random thoughts

I keep hearing on the weather report that it's an El Nino year, that we might not get a lot of snow this year,  I think I can live with that.

I guess we can call Jen our resident "El Nino expert".  One of her writing assignments in second grade involved El Nino.  She asked why there was no snow that winter, and the teacher asked her to find the answer and write about it. 

One of my work friends sent me a news clipping about a former coworker.  Very juicy gossip.  He was arrested because he was growing marijuana in his basement.  He didn't seem the type...

Don't you just hate it when you get to work and realize you left something important at home?  The other morning I had to run into the 7-11 because I forgot my hand cream, a real necessity this time of year.

Don't you just love it when the phone rings at midnight, and it's the doorman from your daughter's building, thinking he's calling her cell phone, to let her know the intercom system isn't working and she has a visitor? 

Last week I saw an article in the NY Daily News about a new website, a "Disney Dating" site, where people are paired up based on which Disney movies and Disney songs they prefer.  I sent the link to Becca, my "Disney Princess".    Later she tweeted that at least 6 different people sent her the link.  Guess her love of all things Disney is well known.

So I was sitting in synagogue, with a yarmulke bobby-pinned to my hair so it wouldn't fall off  during that whole "sit down, stand up, bow, repeat" sequence that we do every morning, and I couldn't help but wonder how bald men manage to keep their yarmulkes in place. (Yeah, my thoughts tend to wander off in weird directions at 7:00 AM, before I've had my coffee.)

I'm really looking forward to this year's office party/holiday lunch.  Last year we ate at a very nice Italian place at the mall.  Loved the food, hated the parking situation.  This year we're going to the steakhouse across the street from our office.  Much better choice, I think.

I'm also looking forward to seeing the new Star Wars movie.  I liked the three original movies, didn't really care for the three prequels, but the new incarnation looks like it will be a lot of fun

Not to mention, the Dr. Who Christmas episode looks interesting, too.

Now, if we could only finalize our New Year's Eve plans.  It's a royal pain every year. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Barenaked Ladies- "Hanukkah, O Hanukkah"

Yes, there are a few pop artists who have recorded Hanukkah songs.


Before it goes out of style

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I took this picture a few years ago, I had time to kill and took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.

Considering the xenophobic, racist insanity I've heard in our recent political debates, I'm wondering if this lovely lady will be headed back to France soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Peter, Paul and Mary

Despite Adam Sandler's lament, there are, indeed, a few Hanukkah songs that have made their way into pop culture, and a few Hanukkah songs and recordings by celebrities.

Here's one of my favorites.  Written by Peter Yarrow, honoring his Jewish heritage.

Good thoughts for Mr. Kitty

As if we didn't have enough to worry about with the human members of the family ... Now we have the health problems of an aging cat. Mr. Kitty turned 14 in September.

Poor baby wasn't feeling well, he stopped eating (that cat turn down food?)  and had to pay a visit to the (dare I say the word?) V-E-T.  He'll be there another few days.

I'm sure he'll be OK for now.

But my sisters take it very hard when one of our animals crosses the rainbow bridge. 

And with the grief we are dealing with over other losses ....

So if you can manage a few good thoughts for the cat...?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

And even more Hanukkah

This year's update:

Put on your yarmulke, here comes Chanukah
So much fun-ukah to celebrate Chanukah

Chanukkah is the Festival of Lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.

When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree,
Here’s the fourth list of people who are Jewish, just like Jesus, Olaf, Punky Brewster, Scott Rudin, and me!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt enjoys eating kugel
So does Stan Lee, Jake Gylleenhaal, and the two guys who founded Google
Adam Levine wears a Jewish star
So does Drake and Seth Rogen
Goldberg has a gold yarmulke to match the belt he won from Hulk Hogan

We got Scarlett Johansson, talk about a Kosher crush
And if you need a higher voice to turn you on, how about Geddy Lee from Rush?
We may not have a cartoon with a reindeer that can talk
But we also don’t have polio, thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk (smart Jew!)

Put on your yarmulke, it’s time for Chanukah
Harry Potter and his magic wand-ukah, celebrate Chanukah

Jared from Subway: God dammit, a Jew
But guess who’s Jewish and can fix him? Loveline’s Dr. Drew (get on it doc!)
Princess Leia cuts the challah with Queen Elsa from Frozen
David Beckham is the king of soccer studs and also a quarter chosen
Ron Jeremy is fully Jewish and so is his foot-long buddy
Shia LaBeouf is half a Jew but 100 percent nutty

It’s cool that Santa Claus who makes Christmas so merry
But we get two jolly fat guys: ice cream’s Ben & Jerry (both Jewish!)

From New York to Iran-ukah, get up and celebrate Chanukah
Don’t mess with us, oh Chanukah, let’s all get along for Chanukah
So drink your Jaegerbomb-ukah and smoke your medical-chron-ukah
If you really, really wan-ukah, have a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy Chanukah

did you think I forgot?

Yesterday was a sad anniversary.

I'm too young to remember when the Beatles arrived in the USA in 1964. I've never lived in a world without their music.  Their songs were a part of my childhood, their individual careers woven throughout my teen years.

I can't believe it's been 35 years.  I was in college then.  When I heard the news, I cried.

A few years ago, Drew and I decided to spend an afternoon in Central Park.  And I realized that there was something in the park I'd never seen ...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

And still more Hanukkah

Third version.

The Hanukkah Song Lyrics – Part III (2002)

Put on your yarmulke
It's time for Hanukkah
Once again it's onaka
The miracle of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights
One day of presents?
Hell, no, we get Eight Crazy Nights
But if you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree
I guess my first two songs didn't do it for you
So here comes number three
Ross and Pheobe from friends say the Hanukkah blessing
So does Lenny's pall Squiggy and Will and Grace's Debra Messing
Melissa Gilbert and Michael London never mix meat with dairy
Maybe they shoulda called that show Little Kosher House on the Prairie?
We’ve got Jerry Lewis, Ben Stiller and Jack Black
Tom Arnold converted to Judaism but you guys can have him back
We may not get to kiss underneath the mistletoe
But we can do it all night long with Deuce Bigelow
I'm Jewish
Put on your yarmulke, here comes Hanukkah
The guy in Willie Nelson's band who plays harmoniaca celebrates Hanukkah
Osama Bin Laden - not a big fan of the Jews
Well maybe that 's because he lost a figure-skating match to gold medalist Sarah Hughes (Her mama's Jewish)
Houdini and David Blaine escape strait jackets with such precision
But the one thing they could not get out of: their painful circumcision
Gwyneth Paltrow's half-Jewish but a full-time Oscar winner
Jennifer Connelly’s half Jewish, too, and I'd like to put some more in her
There's Lou Reed, Perry Farrell, Beck and Paula Abdul
Joey Ramone invented punk rock music, but first came Hebrew school
Hey, Natalie Portmanika?
It's time to celebrate Hanukkah!
I hope you get an abtronika
On this joyful, toyful Hanukkah
So get a high colonika
And soil your long Johnikas
If you really, really wannaka?
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy, happy, happy,...
Happy Hanukkah!

Sweet Hollow Diner

Sweet Hollow Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You know I like a good diner.  And this one is a good diner.

I ordered a Greek salad with chicken, dressing on the side.  Salad was huge, fresh, and was delivered with a bottle of dressing, so I could add as much as I chose.

My friend was a bit disappointed with her sandwich.  The sandwich tasted good, but she felt the description in the menu didn't match up with the food that was served.

Service was friendly and efficient.

My chief complaint is parking.  Like most of the businesses on that strip of Route 110, the diner has a lot that is far too small to accommodate lunchtime traffic.  Fortunately, a diner employee is on duty to help direct parking lot traffic and direct customers to street parking when necessary.

Monday, December 7, 2015

More Hanukkah

The second version of the Sandler song.

The Hanukkah Song Lyrics – Part II (1999)

Put on your Yarmulka
Its time for Hanukkah
So much funnaka
To celebrate Hanukkah
Hanukkah is the festival of lights
Instead of one day of presents
We get eight crazy nights
When you feel like the only kid in town
Without a Christmas tree
Here's a new list of people who are Jewish
Just like you and me
Winona Ryder,
Drinks Manischewitz wine
Then spins a dreidel with Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein
Guess who gives and receives
Loads of Hanukkah toys
The girls from Veruca Salt and all three Beastie Boys
Lenny Kravitz is half Jewish,
Courtney Love is half too
Put them together
What a funky bad ass Jew
We got Harvey Keitel
And flash dancer Jennifer Beals
Yasmine Bleeth from Baywatch is Jewish
And yes her boobs are real
Put on that yarmulka
Its time for Hanukkah
Two-time Oscar winning Dustin Hoffmanaka
Celebrates Hanukkah
O.J. Simpson
Still not a Jew
But guess who is,
The guy who does the voice for Scooby Doo
Bob Dylan was born a Jew
Then he wasn't
But now he's back,
Mary Tyler Moore's husband is Jewish
'Cause we're pretty good in the sack.
Guess who got bar-mitzvahed
On the PGA tour
No I'm not talking about Tiger Woods
I'm talkin' about Mr. Happy Gilmore.
So many Jews are in the show biz
Bruce Springsteen isn't Jewish
But my mother thinks he is.
Tell the world-amanaka
It's time to celebrate Hanukkah
It's not pronounced Ch-nakah
The C is silent in Chanukah*
So read your hooked on phonica
Get drunk in Tijuanaka
If you really really wannaka
Have a happy happy happy happy Hanukkah!


So last night was the first night of Hanukkah, and my family made it very festive.  Flowers and candles on the table, dreidels and Hanukah gelt in evidence, dinner that included chicken soup with matzo balls and a ton of potato latkes, lots of sweets for dessert.    We were all together for the first night of the holiday, even Becca took the train from the city to come home for dinner.  (I had to run out and buy her an electric menorah for the apartment, the one I bought her in college seems to have gotten broken somewhere along the way.)

It was important to make this a festive holiday, more so than usual.  We never had a Rosh Hashanah this year, my father was in the hospital through the High Holy Days.  So Hanukkah, coming on the heels of Thanksgiving...

I knew it would be a difficult day.

Al day long, the voice in my head  wasn't my was my father, singing the blessings that are made as the menorah is lit. Even last year, when he was no longer able to read the Hebrew letters, he knew how to sing the blessings.

And another voice, my grandmother, who died 20 years ago...I heard her voice, singing in Yiddish:

Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah
a yontif a sheiner,
A lustiger; a freilicher
nito noch a zeyner.

The people we love are never really gone, are they?

Sunday, December 6, 2015


Presented for your amusement, Adam Sandler's original "Hanukkah Song".

The Hanukkah Song Lyrics – Part I (Original 1994 Version)

Intro: There's a lot of Christmas songs out there, but not too many about Hanukkah, so I wrote a song for all those nice little Jewish kids who don't get to hear any Hanukkah songs.
Here we go…
Put on your yarmulka, it's time for Hanukkah
Its so much fun-akkah to celebrate Hanukkah,
Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.
But when you're the only kid in town without a Christmas tree, here’s a list of
people who are Jewish, just like you and me:
David Lee Roth lights the menorah,
So do James Caan, Kirk Douglas, and the late Dinah Shore-ah
Guess who eats together at the Carnegie Deli,
Bowzer from Sha-na-na, and Arthur Fonzerrelli.
Paul Newman's half Jewish; Goldie Hawn's half too,
Put them together--what a fine lookin’ Jew!
You don’t need Deck the Halls or Jingle Bell Rock
Cause you can spin a driedel with Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock - both Jewish!
Put on your yalmulka, its time for Hanukkah,
The owner of the Seattle Super sonic-ah celebrates Hanukkah.
O.J. Simpson - not a Jew!
But guess who is...Hall of Famer Rod Carew (he converted!)
We got Ann Landers and her sister Dear Abby,
Harrison Ford's a quarter Jewish - not too shabby!
Some people think that Ebeneezer Scrooge is,
Well, he’s not, but guess who is: All three stooges.
So many Jews are in show biz
Tom Cruise isn't, but I heard his agent is.
Tell your friend Veronica, its time to celebrate Hanukkah
I hope I get a harmonica, on this lovely, lovely Hanukkah.
So drink your gin-and-tonic-ah, and smoke your mara-juanic-ah,
If you really, really wanna-kah, Have a happy, happy, happy, happy

my peeps!

I like to walk in Drew's neighborhood.  I'm always finding interesting houses to look at.  the one I found the other day, though...

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