Archive for December 2011


It is the last picture of my 2011 movie going year and it is a gem, without sex or the ‘f’ word anywhere in sight , a solid performance by Matt Damon with a supporting cast that can tenderly bring tears to your eyes and tigers, lions, monkeys, parrots,  flamingos, bears, zebras, porcupines, kangaroos, even snakes, that can bring a smile to your face.

With just a few minor missteps “We Bought A Zoo” is a movie for everyone. It is rated PG but I can only think that is because 2 deaths, though neither are seen, are part of the story. The screenplay written by Aline Brosh McKenna and the director of the film, Cameron Crowe, is based on a true story by journalist Benjamin Mee, played by Matt Damon, touches the heartstrings and, except for quick fisticuffs , no violence.

Matt Damon is a solid performer who is the equal of Tom Hanks in being a modern ‘Everyman’ and delivers a strong performance here as a father, grieving husband and a new zoo owner. His brother, Duncan, played by Thomas Haden Church, is believable as the older sibling while Colin Ford shines as Damon’s 14 year old moody teenager son Dylan. Scarlett  Johansson, as the zookeeper, gets into a natural romance with the new zoo owner Benjamin that comes about slowly. Cast members like Angus Macfadyn, as the zoo inspector, and the zoo crew played by John Michael Higgins, Patrick Fugit, Stephanie Szostak and Peter Riegert all bring authenticity to their roles.

I found Elle Fanning as Dylan’s love interest just a bit too ‘smiley’ and Maggie Elizabeth Jones as the 7 year old Rosie a little too precocious for me but I am sure most of the audience was/will be charmed by her.

One of the missteps, which is shared by many movies now, is the running time. At over 2 hours there are at least 4-5 scenes that could have been shortened or just eliminated but don’t let that stop you from seeing this gem that won’t win any awards but that will certainly win your heart.

Posted December 31, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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This was my Christmas Cactus in 2010 and 2009–always bloomed just in time.

This year nothing–nada–nil–not a bloom!!! I probably should have repotted it into a larger pot and added fresh soil–oh well there is always next year!!!


Not all is lost–here it is December and for some reason my Heliconia has decided to bloom and it looks like 2 of them.


Also my vine outside on the walk after months of nothing came up with a bloom yesterday–looks like it will open tomorrow into a full pink bloom.


I added three twigs to the hibiscus pot but, so far, none have ‘taken’ though the original has a new bud–I never get tired of flowers.


Last, but not least, the twig I stuck in a pot about 6 months ago, is now blooming with yellow flowers every day–it just keeps giving


Every evening around sunset the birds–all kinds–come and roost on the wires until the sun disappears and our wild parrots are back!


“Well, what is a relationship? It’s about two people having

tremendous weaknesses and vulnerabilities, like we all do,

and one person being able to strengthen the other in their areas

of vulnerability. And vice versa. You need each other.

You complete each other, passion and romance aside.”

Jane Fonda 1937 American Actor

Posted December 30, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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AND WHAT DO YOU DO ON FRIDAYS?????   Leave a comment

And What Do You Do on Fridays????

(Got Allen off to the airport at 5:30
AM–came home and went to sleep–saw Doc at 1:30 PM then came home and
went to sleep and am now getting ready to pick up Norman and off for a bite to eat and then “Cirque Dreams Holidaze”–see review at this weekend or here next week
My life is so hardhow do I keep up with this pace?!?!?! LOL)



Allen usually swings by and picks me up around 1 PM–then it is off to the movies–

Gateway Theatre


or the AMC in Coral Ridge or The Riverfront downtown


Then it is a late lunch–usually at the Quarterdeck or Outback



and then, for a treat, Cold Stone Creamery right around the corner


Do you have anything better to do?!?!?!?


“A man’s feeling of good-will towards others

is the strongest magnet for drawing good-will

towards himself.”

Lord Chesterfield 1694-1773  English Statesman


Posted December 28, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!!!   Leave a comment

(This is just a quickie–Allen and I are going to see the opening of the “Million Dollar Quartet” in Miami this evening and then I will drive him to the airport at 5 AM—yes I will be up at 5 AM–anything for a car!!!– and will have his car for 3 weeks. You’ll be able to read my review at this weekend and then here next week. Tomorrow night Norman and I will be seeing “Cirque Dreams Holidaze–same thing regarding reviewsalmost cancelled going to the show tonight–the classiest, best TV program is on this evening–watch it for me and let me know all about it–“34th Annual Kennedy Center Honors” at 9 PM (EST) on CBS–they are saluting Meryl Streep, Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Yo-Yo Ma and Sonny Rollins–DON’T MISS IT!!!!)





















Posted December 27, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ON DEC 23 & DEC 24 I CHEATED DEATH—AGAIN!!!   Leave a comment

I have been taking coumadin–blood thinner—for 12 years since I had congestive heart failure and was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation New Year’s weekend 1999-2000. In June 2009 I started to do the Philips blood level tests at home instead of going into the doctor’s office a few times a month and I didn’t have any problems with it. The readings are suppose to be between 2-3 but around 4 weeks they were 1.2, 1.4, 1.6 and 1.2 My doctor increased the dosage but it didn’t seem to help. On December15 he almost doubled the amount–instead of taking 5mg per day I was taking 10mg 4 times a week and 12.5mg 3 times. I do  my testing on Thursdays and when I took it December 22 it was still 1.4 I thought I would call the doc and tell him that I wanted to come in and take a test there but I was told he was on vacation until the following Tuesday so I decided I would wait until then. An hour or two later I noticed that parts of my body–tongue, thumb–were getting filled with blood. A couple of hours I noticed my computer chair was wet and to my surprise it was blood. My recliner, dining room chair and bed had blood on them. Making a long story short I called the doctor’s office and wrote a few people an e-mail about my bleeding and ALL insisted I call 911 but I know better (HA!) and said if I was still bleeding in the morning I would call 911. Making the story even shorter–blood was gushing out of my rectum and I was spitting out blood. 911 here I come and by 7:40 AM I was in the ER.


in the ER on the left–my private room on the right

I was not allowed food or water as they had to put plasma in my blood stream. Remember my level is suppose to be between 2-3 and it was 1.2 the day before? Well it was 10+ in the hospital. The bottom line is that I didn’t have anything to eat or drink for 40 hours, got plied with plasma and eventually it came down to 2.5.


The ER doctor said I was not to take coumadin again and that I should see my doctor and talk to him about the alternatives. Very strange, for me, but I didn’t sleep at all the whole time I was in the hospital. I didn’t know whether to go to sleep or eat when Allen arrived to take me home. I bought a couple of subs at Subways and went home, fell into bed and got up an hour later.

The next day being Christmas I went to our little get together on the breezeway. It being Monday and a legal holiday there was no way I could have gotten ahold of my doctor so I plan to call the office tomorrow, tell them to get copies of my hospital file and go see my doctor on Wednesday and see where we go from there.

I did e-mail Philip’s and Hemosense, the manufacturer and distributor of the testing machine. To my surprise I did get a response  a couple of hours later from the Hemosense company with a young lady asking me dozens of questions—I think trying to find something to blame the false readings on–didn’t work. I am not a suing person but I might in this case.

This is the letter I sent:


I need to talk to someone–I was in the hospital December 23 & 24 with coumadin poisoning–heavy rectal bleeding–due to wrong readings of machine for past month and my doctor basing dosages on those reports–on Dec.22 the machine said 1.6–by the time I went to hospital at 7 AM (because of bleeding) Dec.23 the level was at 10+—I was humiliated by having had to wear a diaper–couldn’t eat/drink for 40 hours–had blood all over my bed, clothes, etc. I have pictures (sadly after I washed a lot of the blood off the clothes) that will verify all the above.
No where in any of the material does it say anything about the company, at any time, checking machine or for machine to be returned for checking to verify working right–nor have I ever heard from woman, who came over to teach me how to use machine when I first got it, again.
Please have someone contact me!!!
Okay I dislike very long blogs and this is way too long at this point–I do suggest anyone taking coumadin read the following two sites:
I was closer to death than I knew and I must admit that if it wasn’t for the pressure from my friends (and the threat from Chuck in Memphis that he would call 911 and send them to me! ) I may not be writing this blog! I will keep you up to date on what’s happening and what my doctor says BUT don’t panic if I don’t post for a couple of days–see below!!!
Tomorrow (Tuesday) Allen and I will be going to Miami to the opening of the road tour of “Million Dollar Quartet” and then Wednesday at 5:30 AM I will be taking him to the airport as he is going to visit his daughter and her twin sons–his grandchildren!!  SHHHHHHH—I will have his car for 19 days!!! Then, after seeing the doctor Wednesday afternoon Norman and I are going to the opening of “Cirque Dreams Holidaze” so I may not be posting again until Thursday or Friday and not because I am dead!!! :O)

Posted December 27, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Considering that I was in the hospital for 31 hours, from Friday, December 23, 7 AM until December 24, 2 PM Saturday, with nothing to eat or drink for 40 hours, with cumadin poisoning that could have, almost did,  kill me, I was gratful to be at the following celebration. I will elaborate on the former in a blog tomorrow along with my bad lungs, C.O.P.D. arterial fibrillation, P.E.D., etc., and other things I could moan and groan about and ask for sympathy for from my ‘friends’ but don’t! LOL Coumadin is a lethal drug but I have had to take it for 12 years but now must stop and so I guess I could start crying wolf each time I cough but I guess I won’t! Aren’t you glad YOU are MY friend and not someone else’s? {#rofl.gif}

Now on to the Christmas Day at Gateway celebration!


Most evenings at sunset we have a ‘meeting of the mindlesson the breezeway at Gateway. John, an original member and possible chairman of the board, and hos twin, Jim, an honorary (?) member decided that for Christmas Day they would buy some pizzas for the group and we would get together around 3:30 PM. Jim would pick up the pizzas from Big Louie’s-he was a little late LOL. Poochie (that’s her name!!!) volunteered to bring the drinks, mainly wine, which she did. We had a big problem the night before–a main water pipe busted and Fort Lauderdale didn’t have water and when we did get it we had to boil it before using it so though she had the bottle in water and ice we couldn’t use any of it. She did have a bottle of non-alcoholic wine—really grape juice.


I bought the table settings—all in red–my favorite color and apropos for the holiday–red tablecloth (I should have gotten two), cups, plates, napkins and forks, spoons and knives. I, also, provided cherry candy canes and white chocolate covered mints. Someday I will have to get John to write his story about how the original candy canes came about .

The guys got 4 large pizzas as we thought if anyone came by we would offer them a slice or two plus we all had asked people to stop by. As it was, except for our new security guard, no one else stopped by. (Would you like to guess who took all the extra slices home? RIGHT!) Along with John, Jim, Poochie and myself there was Irene, Roosevelt, a new resident, Dot and Larry.

A good time was had by all and here are a few of the pictures:


BEFORE                                                    AFTER






It was a beautiful Christmas Day–around 80 degrees, sunny, a slight breeze–good pizzas but, more important, good people!


“A man is what he thinks about

all day long.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson  1803-1882  American Essayist, Poet and Philosopher


Going to see Wednesday

Posted December 26, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MERRY CHRISTMAS   Leave a comment








Posted December 25, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.


It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!


Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, good will to men” whether it is looking as a Christmas wreath or a Hanuka bush.



I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on  a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.




I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.


 It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and good will towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.

Posted December 24, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The last time I was in New York City was in September 1985 and the last time I lived in New York City was 1969. I don’t see myself ever going back but there are certain times, certain memories I have of life in the city that will never go away and they all revolve around Christmas time, the week before, the day of and the week after. No where in any city of the world is there the combination of magic in New York City especially if there are snow flurries or, maybe, an inch of snow blanketing the city and turning the lights into diamonds in the evening.


I still feel the cold nipping at my ears, my nose being red and my being on my butt more than on my feet, not to mention my mittens NOT keeping my hands warm but the wonder of ice skating in the Rockefeller Center, in the middle of Manhattan, under the glow and warmth of one of the tallest decorated Christmas (not holiday!!) trees standing in the shadow of one of New York’s most impressive buildings not to forget on the opposite side rows and rows of uncountable poinsettia plants. You are surrounded by people looking down at you from atop the perimeter of the rink plus all the people eating and drinking inside the restaurant that the rink is in the middle of and which you can’t wait to get a table, have a hot chocolate and look at the skaters falling on their butts and/or those gracefully doing spin after spin and all enjoying themselves as much as you did.


There is the afternoon you wait on line with thousands of other people to get into the cavernous and awe inspiring Radio City Music Hall where you not only saw a movie like Doris Day in “I’ll See You In My Dreams” but an even more awe inspiring stage show where there is the Christmas pageant featuring live camels, the Wise Men, a live reenactment of the Nativity that doesn’t fail to affect people of all religions or none at all. That is then followed by the amazing Rockettes who go from being wooden play soldiers to rocking to Jingle Bells and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.



There is so much to do so what do you do next? Maybe buy a bag of roasted chestnuts and walk along Fifth Avenue looking in the store windows all decorated with to die for fashions and jewels? Oh, I know, I remember, walk down to Herald Square (I was able to walk in those days) where Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s try to outdo each other with season decorations and you relive “The Miracle on 34th Street” or wait, wouldn’t it be better to walk along Lexington and Madison avenues where you can buy flowers from outside stalls and look at the Christmas trees for sale while the cold goes through you and you stop for another hot chocolate? Hey we can go to the New Hampshire bar on 57th Street and watch a ‘Northeasterner’ recreated behind the bar and stop by Carnegie Hall and see what/who is playing.


It’s early evening and it is still light enough to walk in Central Park where the snow covers the din of the city and makes everything feel pure, soft and, yes, Christmas like. It’s magic time in a city that at times can be cruel, unfeeling and devoid of magic but for two weeks in late December it is as if Tinkerbell cast her spell and fairy dust over the city and its people. It is two weeks that EVERYONE should experience at least once in their lifetime and I was lucky to experience it many times as I reached adult hood.

Don’t even get me started about experiencing falling in love for the first time during Christmas in New York—oh, get me started–let’s talk about going to the Plaza for a drink, having dinner in the middle of Central Park, taking a carriage ride–let’s talk about it in Part 3.

Posted December 23, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ME IN 1988

I very seldom repeat past posts but I get so tired at this time of the year regarding “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Hanukkah” and “Happy Kwanzaa”–I personally don’t care what you say as long as this time of the year means something to you for whatever reason or just for the good cheer going around. This is a 3 part series that I wrote for a paper years ago–hope you enjoy reading it again or reading it for the first time!


I LOVE Christmas and have since the days stores didn’t decorate for the holiday until Thanksgiving weekend when Santa appeared magically all over town and the Salvation Army went out in force and didn’t take credit cards and the men stood by their big, black kettles ringing bells. It was back in the days when there were Christmas, not holiday, trees and people gleefully yelled “Merry Christmas”, not “Happy Holidays”.

I remember 63 years ago sneaking out to my front yard where we had a tall, huge fir tree and decorating it with balls and silver strips and my mother lamenting, & quote; “What will the neighbors think?” and I didn’t care. We lived on Bogart Avenue, between Lydig and Pelham Parkway, the dividing line between the Sharks and the Jets–for those who don’t get the reference it separated the Jews from the Italians and our block was made up of both.

I didn’t think of it as a religious holiday but as a time for peace towards all men. Way back then–in the ice age–you didn’t hear songs like “Jingle Bells”  until Thanksgiving weekend, certainly not in October as a theme song for a cruise line. The celebration of the Christmas feeling started when you heard Nat King Cole sing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” from The Christmas Song or Judy Garland’s sweet, sad voice sang “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas” and, of course, wherever you went you heard Der Bingle (Bing Crosby) sing “White Christmas”.

Christmas wasn’t a religious time for a Jewish boy in New York but a time of cold weather, snow flurries, people running here to there with a smile on their face and everyone carrying wrapped packages with bows and ribbons. Of course I had an unfair advantage over my Italian friends because I, also, got to celebrate Hanukkah where children were given geldt (money) and went to the houses (apartments) of their grandparents who had immigrated from Russia and England and were surrounded by very large families and ate and ate and ate, because that is what Jews did on holidays, though I was to learn so did Greeks, Italians, Filipinos, Germans, etc.

Again, it wasn’t the religion of the holiday that attracted me to attend Christmas midnight mass at St. Patrick’s cathedral but the pageantry, the voices of the choir ringing out and the sound of the Latin language, again this was many years ago, echoing through the cathedral. I must confess–hey, it’s a Catholic church–that years later, in the 60s, Ronnie, Joe and I use to go for ‘camp’ reasons–to see Cardinal Spellman all dressed up in his finery, his red robes looking like a gown and, we thought, in all probability, hiding his red, ruby slippers.

None of this is meant, or said, in disrespect of the Christmas holiday and its true meaning but looking at an aspect of it that was open to all children who had imagination and loved to see their world almost become magical for 4 weeks–not like now where by the time the holiday comes around you are ready to scream if you hear one more Christmas song because you have been hearing them since August when you started getting the catalogs and the stores were decorated with wreaths and holly even before Halloween.



“With our thoughts we make the world.”

Buddha  563-483 BC Indian Religious Teacher

Posted December 21, 2011 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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