Archive for March 2012


There  are a few ways of viewing this movie so let’s start with one that might not be obvious. There is a teenage girl fighting for her life in the woods. There is a town so poor they have nothing. There are people with outrageous hair styles, costumes and make up. “The Hunger Games”? No, but I have a feeling the biggest competition will be between those who did the costumes, hairstyles and makeup for that movie and this one which is “Mirror, Mirror”. Continuing with the similarities we have the 99% poor and the 1% rich in both with the latter living in splendor, having everything at their fingertips.

Now let’s get to the major differences such as this is a family film and I have no idea why it was given a PG rating. There are no crude, rude words and not a fart joke to be found. Sex? Only if you think a guy showing a bare chest here, there and everywhere–and Armie Hammer does a fine job showing his  in an innocent way and usually for a laugh.

Most important this film has Julia Roberts playing the wicked, stepmother queen in fine form, physical and otherwise. She delivers her lines in a wry style and lands many of them for giggles, smiles and, once in awhile, out loud laughter. She uses her many comic skills but stays just on this side of going over the top. There is no way you can mention her in this film without mentioning the way over the top fabulous gowns that she wears though out the film. You could hear the pre-teen girls in the audience sigh out loud with every one of her dress changes. There certainly will be a comparison between Roberts and Charlize Theron, both of whom I love, who plays the evil queen in the next rendition of the Snow White story not to forget Lara Parrilla who plays the evil stepmother in the TV show “Once Upon A Time”. And none have had the spa treatment that Julia Roberts goes through and might have you saying “Ugh!”

Yes Snow White is having a big comeback with 2 films coming out within 3 months and her TV show. In the TV show she is played by Ginnifer Goodwin a bit older than most Snow Whites while in the next movie Kristen Stewart is dressed in armor and ready for battle. In “Mirror, Mirror” though Lily Collins gives it a good try she swings between Audrey Hepburn without the awe she brought to roles and without the fierceness of Jennifer Lawrence. Sadly there is no chemistry between her and the Prince, played by Armie Hammer bringing a lot of humor to the film not to mention always losing his clothes. Talking about humor Nathan Lane holds back his usual frantic style and comes across funnier than in other movies as the accountant to the queen

What would any Snow White film be without the seven dwarfs? They are here but they don’t whistle while they work, with the work being bandits holding up carriages, and each shows a definite personality but it isn’t sneezing, sleeping, dopey, etc., more like Half-Pint, played by Mark Povinelli,  who falls in love with Snow and Napoleon (Jordan Prentice) who, guess what?, has a Napoleon complex! There is Butcher (Martin Klebba), Grub (Joe Gnoffo), Grimm (Danny Woodburn), Wolf (Sebastian Saraceno) and Chuckles (Ronald Lee Clark) all a very merry band.

After all the above I have to say that the parts are better than the whole. The director, Tarsem Singh, seems to have seen too many Tim Burton movies and when he uses his own style, such as in the puppet segment, the movie just stops. He also loses control of some scenes while not adding the pazzazz needed in others.

I must add that it has been many years since I have been in a movie with so many young kids in the audience–it was a Teacher’s Day plus some schools are on Spring Break–and, being honest I was fearful as they were very loud and all seem to be using a cell phone before the movie started but as soon as that happened all cell phones were put away and they were very attentive during the movie. I wish I could say the same about the adults!!!

As a last thought I wonder how many brides will want a copy of the wedding dress Julia Roberts wears for their wedding!


Posted March 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I am tired–too tired to do justice to any of the following posts so will be doing them starting tomorrow:










Posted March 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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It was Wednesday evening, March 29, 1967, and I was sitting in my apartment on West 75th street in New York City contemplating ways of committing suicide. I had just spent an 6 hours on an eating binge  going from having a Hymie’s Special 3-decker sandwich at the Stage deli then going up to 72nd Street and getting  a large pizza with everything on it plus stopping at a store to get a tuna fish sandwich and a half a dozen donuts, all this after having dinner!

I looked out the bay window on my second floor apartment and knew I had to get out  and do something but what do you do at 2 AM in NYC that doesn’t include food if you are fat?  I went into a phone booth, called info, got the telephone number of Weight Watchers only to get a recording saying that they opened at 9 AM. I stayed in that phone booth on 72nd Street and Broadway until I finally reached someone. They told me the next meeting was at a hotel on 57th street and I was there. I met Mary who registered and weighed me in and then met Marilyn who was a fill in lecturer that day. On Thursday, March 30, 1967, at 1 PM my life would change forever and send me in directions I never knew or would have experienced otherwise.

I can, and have written, many blogs about what happened in my life over the next 12 years from the massive physical change to the transactional analysis therapy that changed a angry, hostile, negative 31 year old into a positive, happy, goal oriented mature man who was able to deal with the adversity he would face over the next 29 years without fear or worry. Today, 45 years later, he still retains much he had learned from those 12 years in the world of Weight Watchers and, even after I celebrated my 19th Leap Year birthday and winding up fatter than when I started I didn’t panic. Only those who went through what I went through will understand when I say I have been back on the “5 fish, 3 beef, 1 liver, 5 fruit, 2 glasses of milk, 4 ounces of a #4 vegetable, all the #3s I want, etc.,” for 30 days and have lost 7 and 1/2 pounds and will continue until I reach my goal. Back then I lost 75 pounds in 16 weeks, got my WW pin with its ‘diamonds’, and went on to lose the rest but I am far from having to lose that much, will get the job done with little effort as after 4 and 1/2 decades I know when and how to do it, so excuse me while I go off and make those cauliflower ‘mashed poatoes’.


Posted March 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The Hot Pot was a new experience for me–an enjoyable one. I discovered it through one of those ‘pay $20 for $40 worth of food’ and it was something I hadn’t experienced before so off we went.


We had the Hot Pot For 2 ($29.99) consisting of : 2 broths–we chose the house Style and vegetarian–2 seafood dishes–shrimp and fish balls (they were out of scallops–don’t order the fish balls)–2 vegetables– nappa cabbage & baby bok choy–2 starches– mung bean noodles (very unmanageable LOL) and brown rice–we added 2 meats chicken and beef ($5.99 each)–I had coffee ($1,50) and was sort of surprised that I was charged for a  refill–Allen had his usual coke ($1.50).
For dessert we shared the mochi ice cream–not to our liking–$4.99–and excellent beignets ($3.99)


The check, before the coupon deduction, with tax and tip came to $69.76
The 2 hours we were there only 2 other parties came in but it was that in-between hours of 4-6 PM Our server, Tiffany, was very good explaining everything to us plus enjoying the way we ate everything up! LOL I was intrigued by the ‘hot plate’ and how it worked.


 Aside from the fish balls and  mochi the food was fresh tasting and the fact that they were out of scallops on a Friday wasn’t a good sign.


I did enjoy The Hot Pot experience but it isn’t something I would be doing again soon.
WARNING: Right next store is a Weight Watchers office!!!!


Posted March 29, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Comparing British and American love stories, though I don’t recall the last Hollywood romance movie without crude, rude language , is almost like comparing day and night. British romantic films are leisurely, getting into who the characters are, less concerned with action, melodrama and more with mood. “The Deep Blue Sea”, based on a play written by Terence Rattigan and produced on stage in 1952 was eventually made into a movie starring Vivian Leigh. It has now been remade directed by Terence Davies who adapted the play making changes and inventing different scenes but keeping the basic story of a woman being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea in a world after WW2.

Hester (Rachel Weisz) is married to a man, Sir William Collyer (Simon Russell Beale), 10 years older than she is who loves her more than she loves him while she is more in love with Freddie Page (Tom Hiddleston) then he is in love with her, who is 10 years younger than she is. The movie opens with her attempting suicide and goes back and forth in time showing what has brought her to this point and what happens after.

Sir William refuses to give Hester a divorce so she and Freddie start living as Mr. & Mrs. Page in a rundown apartment building in a part of London that still hasn’t recovered from the blitz just as Freddie believes he hit his peak in the RAF during the war. Hester is willing, and does, sacrifice everything for Freddie, including her dignity, while he plays golf and drinks at the pubs with his friends. Each of them in the triangle fails the other, each wanting the same thing, love, but not getting it from the one they want.

I don’t know if then, or now, every customer in a pub sings but then, just as the heroine does, everyone smokes. The city is still eroding from the effects of the war and everything around it is drab from the buildings to the dress.

Rachel Weisz is perfect as Hester showing a strength and vulnerability that would allow for loving too much and at the same time attempting suicide. Simon Russell Beale brings the gentleman’s acceptance of his wife no longer loving him while Tom Hiddleston  gives us the man who loves, but not enough, to give up his single ways. Barbara Jefford as Sir William’s mother and Ann Mitchell as the landlady where Hester and Freddie live both add strong characters representing the upper class and lower middle class women of the time.

Terence Davies’ cuts out the underlying homosexual themes to add writing and directorial things of his own but he allows Weisz in love or in despair as much of the screen and time that she needs to good effect.

Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, composed by Samuel Barber, is at times perfect back ground music while at other times very intrusive. Would everyone in a bar know the words to “You Belong To Me” as recorded by Jo Stafford? Okay sometimes British films, like Hollywood films, bend the rules.

Posted March 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Take 25 vintage songs sung by Frank Sinatra, stripped of their original musical arrangements, add a 14 piece band, a nightclub setting of the 50s, throw in 7 hunky guys who take their shirts off and 7 sexy women with skirts slit up to here and get them dancing with choreography by Twyla Tharp and you have “Come Fly Away”.

Twyla Tharp conceived, directed, wrote the book and choreographed the show and though the book is given short shrift it doesn’t make a difference when 8 shirtless male dancers are out there strutting their stuff or the women are doing twists and turns that you just know aren’t possible!

Each of the dancers, whether in solos, duets or group numbers get to shine, and each one does. When you have 7 couples on stage, each pair doing a different set of steps, you almost forget that Sinatra is singing his mantra “My Way”.  The lead dancers; Mallauri Esquibel, Ron Todorowski, Stephen Hanna, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald, Amy Ruggiero, Anthony Burrell, Matthew Stockwell Dibble and Meredith Miles along with the ensemle of Nathan Madded, Marceea Moreno, Candy Olsen, Julius Anthony Rubio, Tanairi Sade Vazquez and Michael Wilaims are all strong dancers and the leads are double cast so each show can have a different line up but all deliver.

Twyla Tharp’s choreography put the dancers through constantly busy, ever changing, movements that had audience members yelling a bravo here, applauding there or gasping at the twists, turns, tumbles, constant lifts and all standing when the entire cast comes out to dance while Sinatra sings “New York, New York”. The audience, though being recognized by the dancers, feel as if 14 masters of their art are dancing for the joy of dancing and light up the theatre with their smiles and triumph!

The show’s score takes classic and newly discovered vocal performances from the Sinatra archives such as “Luck Be A Lady”, “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” mixed with “Fly Me To The Moon”, “Pick Yourself Up”, “Witchcraft, along with stand out arrangements from the past (Gordon Jenkins, Nelson Riddle, Neal Hefti, Billy May, Don Costa,  Quincy Jones) and brand new charts for the 14 piece band by Dave Pierce, who also adds a surprising “Take Five” to the mix. Along the way four band members do solos that bring back the joy of the ‘big band’ era.

THE BAND  Conductor/Piano : Rob Cookman Reeds: P. J. Perry, Tom Colclough, Julian Tanaka, Adam Schroeder  Trumpts: Mike Herriott, Jim Keen, Sam Oatts  Trombones: James Nelson, Mark J. Miller, Neil Nicholson Bass:  Clifton Kellem  Guitar: Buddy Fambro Drums: Paul Ringenbach.

“Come Fly Away” runs for 80 minutes, without an intermission, and will be appearing in Tampa, Naples and Tallahassee, Florida, before continuing its tour across the States.

Next Show at the Arsht Performing Arts Center is “The Lion King” May 15-June 10

Posted March 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Bernard C. Abraham
“”Bernie/Poppi””, 80, CEO of Weight Watchers of the Mid-South, Inc., passed away on Sunday, February 26, 2012, in Memphis.

Published in The Commercial Appeal on February 29, 2012   (Coincidence?)
We meet in NYC in 1967, move in together in 1968,  and we move to Memphis in 1969 to open and start Weight Watchers to make it one of the most successful franchises–I introduce him to his next partner in 1973–in 1975 we go into court to dissolve our business partnership and we don’t see or speak to each other ever again until I read the above obituary.
As the years go by the bad times disappear and only the good remain as does
“The Look Of Love”

Posted March 26, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Brad, I have the birds guarding my TV and so far they have done a good job!



Raven, see what I mean about all the stress when retired? Think it is easy dodging those rays and laying back and reading a book under the sun? I would rather be working–NOT! Of course I would be fired from retiring as I didn’t hide my toe on the lower right when I took the picture! SEE THE STRESS I AM UNDER?!?!!?


Never know what I will find outside my apartment door!


I wish this guy would stop stalking me–granted, looking at my picture, I can’t blame him but enough is enough!


Posted March 26, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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It’s always a pleasure to ‘discover’ an unknown gem and I would give this small ‘sandwich’ shop 5 stars except for 3 reasons: 1) I HATE the latest rage among restaurants of aluminum tables and chairs just as I have gotten tired of all ‘up scale’ restaurants having white square plates 2) there is not full service as one has to place their order at the register and get their own drink 2) the restaurant is misnamed as it has many  dinner plates.

I am not all familiar with Peruvian food and when I came across a deal paying half we decided to try it. Bravo is in one of those  thousands of shopping strips in Fort Lauderdale with a bright, attractive window and the inside pleasantly decorated with one wall completely mirrored and the opposite wall with pictures of their food.
Not knowing what to order we asked the hostess/server/cashier to suggest a sandwich and platter that we can share and she did suggest 2 good items.
We first had a lechon pork sandwich ($7.50) made of pork, criolla, olive and rocoto sauce served on an excellent toasted roll and it was very tasty.

Next we had Lomo Satado ($10.95) made up of beef tenderloin strips sauteed in onions, tomatoes and French fries served with white rice. The dish was completely empty when we got finished.

Along with our meal Allen had a can of Fanta orange soda ($1.50) and I, going along with the try something new idea, had Inca Cola which was very sweet.
With tax and tip, before discount, our total was $26, certainly average for lunch but this was an above tasting lunch and I recommend it to anyone who has never had Peruvian food or just wants good food!

We didn’t have dessert there as we were on our way to UdderSweets–an ice cream parlour! See my review on another post.

Posted March 25, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Suzanne Collins’ says that her very successful young adults book trilogy, “The War Games” was based on reality shows and Iraq war footage on news reports on television. Watching the movie faced on the first book “The Hunger Games” looks like it is also based on news headlines about teenagers killing teenagers as that is what is behind the ‘games’.

Due to war, famine and greed the United States collapsed and now 100 years later we have 12 impoverished districts ruled by the very privileged The Capitol in a country called Panem. Each year two teenagers–1 female, 1 male–are chosen from each district to be televised killing each other with the one living survivor (How about a TV show with that name? Oh, there is one already!) winning riches for life. All this will bring in the male readers/film goers but how do we attract the females? Oh, right, add a love triangle and so we have Katmiss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), both selected from district 12 to be in the games, and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) the boy back home.

The Capitol looks like the world of Oz and is inhabited by people who dress as tall munchkins, each weirder than the next and the decadence look is all over the place. It doesn’t seem as if people have advanced with too much technology all those years from now but those in charge are certainly more outgoing such as the host (Stanley Tucci) of the TV show. There are no new weapons and deaths are caused by bow and arrow, javelons, spears, knives, mines and even wasps but not a gun in sight.

With the film running over 2 hours and 2o minutes the director, Gary Ross and the writers, Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins, spend the first hour laying the ground work and rules while the rest is devoted to the killings and, consequently, there really isn’t time to get to know the 12 fighters and there is no emotion involved on the audiences part when any of them are killed nor when they survive.

The second half of the film is action packed and moves very swiftly but the action is by the numbers and the outcome is almost a given so one will have to wait for the second film and/or read the books to get to know the characters better and, maybe, feel for them more.

It is with her performance that Jennifer Lawrence holds this movie together and commands every scene she is in. When not running or shooting arrows her face tells you everything she is feeling. Josh Hutcherson is too bland as Peeta while Liam Hemsworth as the rival doesn’t have that much screen time in this chapter.

The supporting cast is a mixed bag ranging from Elizabeth Banks looking and acting like a drag queen while Woody Harrelson as a previous winner and now mentor doesn’t chew the scenery too much. Stanley Tucci is way over the top, ridiculously so, while it is always good seeing Wes Bently and Toby Jones. Sutherland holds back from being as menacing as the role might call for while Willow Shields as the younger sister and Paula Malcomson as the mother of the heroine deliver short but solid performances. Lenny Kravitz as a stylist is a standout.

“The Hunger Games” is on its way to setting records and certainly will be one of, if not the, highest grossing pictures of the year but the question is whether it will draw an audience of people who don’t know the books to the second movie and if it does Jennifer Lawrence will be responsible for that.


Posted March 24, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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