Archive for August 2012

“ROBOT AND FRANK”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

Sometimes you walk into a movie not expecting much and when it says ‘the end’ you are bowled over with how charmed you were and that is how I felt about “Robot and Frank”! The story takes place sometime in the near future in Cold Springs, New York. Nothing really much has changed except for large TV Skype screens but, and this is a big but, there are robots playing the role of caretakers for, mainly, elderly people.. Who wouldn’t want a robot to clean your place, cook your food, put you on a healthy diet, takes walks with you and, generally, doing the things you don’t like to do? Frank, that’s who.

The robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard) is given to Frank (Frank Langella) by his son Hunter (James Marsden) who is concerned that his father is suffering dementia. Frank was a ‘cat burglar’ and served 2 different terms in prison, one for tax evasion that embarasses him, and wasn’t around for Hunter or Hunter’s sister, Madison, (Liv Tyler) as they were growing up. In his 70s is Frank suffering dementia or just forgetful or just bored stiff? In any case he is not interested in having a robot taking care of him.

Frank has a ‘thing’ for the town librarian Jennifer (Susan Sarandon) who one day invites him to a party being given by a software tycoon Jake (Jeremy Strong) who plans to switch all the printed books in the library to digital books. At the party Frank notices Jake’s wife decked out many huge diamonds and being Frank his mind starts planning what he would have done 20 -30 years ago. Being a thief is what Frank is and he still plies his trade by stealing soap animals in a local store. In one instance when the robot covers Frank’s theft and the latter begins to think the robot may be more useful than he thought.

Frank tells the robot, who he refuses to name, tales about his past and explains some of the things he has done. It isn’t long before he has the robot learning how to pick locks and they go on their first job, stealing the original library “Don Quixote” book so Frank can give it to Jennifer. With success Frank decides he and robot will steal the jewels from Jake’s house. It isn’t long before the local Sheriff (Jeremy Sisto) has dealings with Frank, and the robot, not quite sure if Frank is faking it, being as sly as a fox or really has dementia.

The screenplay, by Christopher D. Ford, doesn’t go where you think it will and, sometimes doesn’t go as far as it should. Also in the future will young tycoons still be called yuppies? There is one scene which should have been expanded but it was if Ford didn’t want to get too sentimental. The direction, by Jake Schreier, doesn’t make the future seem so different from today but then he does make Frank and robot the stars as it should be.

Langella does a charming job while Sisto, Tyler, Marsden and Strong give him professional backup. There is no denying Sarandon’s presence on screen and a nod has to be given to Sarsgaard as the voice of robot almost but not making it human while whoever came up with the robot itself deserves to take a bow.

“Robot and Frank” is not a masterpiece of movie making but it provides 90 minutes of charm, fun and, at times intrigue. See it for a change of pace.

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Posted August 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ONLY 2 MONTHS TO PROFESSIONAL THEATRE   Leave a comment

   
     
The house lights come down–the tingling in my body starts–the footlights appear and after a few beats the whole house goes dark–I hear the swoosh of the curtain going up and I am tense–the stage is lit and my body relaxes and anticipates–the first actor speaks and I am THERE!

The first few strains of the overture start–how can your heart not rush hearing the opening chords of Gypsy, Mame, A Chorus Line, Carousel, South Pacific, Company, West Side Story or any new musical?

(Okay, so I don’t like walking into a theatre seeing the curtain up or a musical starting without an overture but the excitement isn’t any less.)

As much as I love movies live theatre affects me more. I go to the movies to escape–I go to the theatre to be challenged.

I have been going to the theatre for over 70 years now–I don’t remember the first show I saw–and there are moments that have been etched in my mind forever–Brando on stage in Streetcar, Shirley Booth calling for Sheba, Mae West in Diamond ‘Lil, the opening number of A Chorus Line, Richard Kiley singing The Impossible Dream as he is dying (and every time I hear it I cry!)–and the list goes on: Julie Harris touching my heart as Frankie in Member of the Wedding and touching my heart in another way in I Am A Camera, Kim Stanly, Geraldine Page, etc. I saw most, if not all of the greats, of the 40s, 50s and 60s, including the awesome second performance of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

In recent years there was the shock of the final curtain of W;T, the unexpected curtain line of act 1 in Proof, the joy of Hairspray, the music of Steven Sondheim, the writing of Three Women by Albee, the laughter and tears of Angels in America, the politics in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart–once again a never ending list.

The constant cry of theatre groups is “Where are the younger audiences, the future audiences, coming from?” There are so many parents who don’t go, have never seen, live theatre–they don’t know what they have missed or what their kids are missing.

I remember cutting school so that I could be at a matinee when it had an intermission and could walk in with the returning crowd as if I was a member of the audience. (And I’ve always loved ushers because I knew they knew I hadn’t bought a ticket!)

I have always been in awe of the actor who not only has to memorize all those lines and where to be and what to do on stage but exposes him/her self to strangers. It was only later that I became aware of the ‘art’ of the set, costume and lighting designers, of what makes a production work on all of its aspects.If for no other reason I will stay and applaud all at the bows–they deserve it even when they or the plays aren’t the best. (Would/could you do what they do?)

The hardest part of being poor, for me, is that I don’t have the money to see road companies but,I got lucky 2 years ago and was hired to review Broadway touring companies and have so far seen 26 shows including: LesMiz, Billy Elliot, Rock of Ages, Jersey Boys, Wicked, Mamma Mia, Hair, Beauty and the Beast,South Pacific, Young Frankenstein just to name a few.

 
In October the new ‘season’ starts with “Sister Act”– keep an eye here for my reviews after they have been on broadwayshowbiz.com and conniescorner.com for a week–that is part of the agreement.

Children, teens, have to be exposed to theatre, professional theatre hopefully–it is as important an art as any other one. Adults have to support the theatre.

The costs may be high but the memories are priceless!

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Posted August 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR BODY?   Leave a comment

Legally, paperwork wise, I am ready to die–not that I will so stop applauding and cheering! The only thing I hadn’t prepared was what would happen to my body after I died. I would, jokingly (?), say just throw my body over the fence into the bay but the reality is that some sort of plan has to be made. As far as I know my brother wouldn’t be legally obligated to provide for my burial but even if he was I didn’t think that was fair. I don’t know if there are still  Potter Fields, though according to wikipedia, which names a few places, they still exist. (For those not familiar with the term the definition is: potter’s field or common grave is an American term for a place for the burial of unknown or indigentpeople–from wikipedia.)

I really haven’t given it much thought but I know I didn’t want my ‘heirs’–heck I’m leaving them my bill, what else do they want? LOL–to get stuck for burying me. Don’t know if you have checked into it but funerals, whether burial or cremation, are not cheap. I certainly fall into the indigent category having just enough money to get from one month to the next time and many times being short until the 3rd when I get my SS check.

Sometime in the past 2 weeks I was reading a blog–I believe it was either Sherabella’s post or she had it in a comment–where genesis.com was mentioned. Let me just say that I had looked into donating my body to, I believe, the University of Miami but I was rejected! OMG! MY BODY WAS REJECTED!! That was the first time that ever happened–their loss! LOL

In any case I checked out genesis.com and I read the following in the application form: “I understand that it will be the responsibility of the MERI (Medical Education & Research Institute of Genesis)  to arrange for the removal, preparation, transportation, biomedical studies on and final disposition of my remains, at no cost to me. Any fees related to the above will be paid by the MERI to the funeral home and/or service firm(s) involved.”

I filled out all the papers, sent them out and on August 21 I received a letter tellign me that I was accepted. THEY WANTED MY BODY so there UM! In the acceptance letter there was a card  for me to carry in my wallet and in the letter it said, “Never at any time will there be any expenses incurred by you.”

For anyone alone, or poor, I strongly suggest you go to genesis.com and print out the application. You will get an answer quickly and enjoy the rest of your life with one less thing to worry about.

By the way, they are headquartered in Memphis and I love the idea that I will return to a place I spent a decade in that has such great memories for me.

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Posted August 29, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES ADVENTURES & DISCOVERIES ADMITTING FAILURE 11 A   Leave a comment

 

NOTES FROM A DIARY JANUARY TO JULY, 1979, 10 YEARS AFTER I ARRIVED IN MEMPHIS-A DECADE AND BUSINESS ENDS

I take complete responsibility for the failure of Our Weigh and I learned a lesson that I already knew but hadn’t put to the test–I was a lousy business man! :O)

Notes added while I type this today are in parenthesis.

January 1  I did a class in West Memphis–ice on the streets  (I don’t doubt my diary notes but a class on New Year’s Day when it is cold and ice on the streets? Did anyone show up?)

January 5-9  3-4″ snowstorm followed by an ice storm–no classes (no money coming in)

January 18  To Atlanta to see “A Chorus Line” 3 times with Chuck, Chuck (from Chattanooga?), Tommy, Nina and Jean (Money going out and not coming in.)

February 6-7 3″ snow (Nothing about classes being cancelled or what days these are)

February 17  snowed again another 3″– really hurting business

February 28  Pepe called to wish me a happy birthday (My first live with lover–The last time I would hear from or about him)

March 23  Betty Tribble quit (I had now lost 3 of the original ladies who came with me from Weight Watchers)

March 25  Gwen called from Chattanooga about resigning (I have no idea who she is/was)

April 13 Had to close Jonesboro class

May 1 diagnosed with arthritis in my neck (Proved to be wrong)

May 5  Tommy, Chuck, Bob Brice and I went to see Diana Ross

May 16 Tommy, his mother, Chuck and I went to see The Village People in concert  (Tommy’s mother was great–wish I could remember her name–it was different.)

May 17 took over the Forrest City class–very short on help–will have to close classes

June 11 Gwen did resign–I think, mentally again, that this is the beginning of the end

June 17 Dr. K, Chuck, Tommy and I went down to Mississippi and I went water skiing for the first (and last) time getting chased by a water moccasin snake

June 28 Took Dr. K. to the Cafe St. Clair for his birthday along with Tommy, Chuck and Johnny–I got smashed

June 30 I am making plans to leave Memphis at end of July. (I really loved Memphis and wanted to stay but not being either Black or a female I wouldn’t be able to get a servers job–remember this was the 1970s and though the South was changing it was a slow change–besides my ego wouldn’t allow me to stay.)

July 21 Sold the business to Helen for $5,000–getting ready to leave for Ft. Lauderdale next Saturday (I would have taken less–I was just desparate to leave and needed ‘traveling’ money and I had run the business into the ground)

July 28-30  Left for Ft. Lauderdale with Bill Hall who helped me move and drove the stick shift truck which, just ask Chuck, I couldn’t drive–arrived in Fort Lauderdale Monday 7/30/79. (I was originally going to return to Miami Beach but at that time there was moratorium on building, South Beach had gone way down hill–this was before it became SOUTH BEACH!–and Joe and Albyn told me to go to Fort Lauderdale instead–they being my ‘parents’ I listened and have never regretted it.)

 

The life I had known was over and once again I was starting new but this time I knew who I was–I was 43 years old, had some money to tide me over, was in a way relieved. I rented a car, found an apartment and now was waiting for Chuck and Tommy to bring my car down.

 

 

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HOW TO SPEAK REPUBLICAN BY PETE KOTZ

“EVOLUTION: FRAUDULENT THEORY THAT MAN EVOLVED FROM APE. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN AN APE WITH JUGS LIKE JESSICA SIMPSON’S?”

Posted August 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES OF ADVENTURES & DISCOVERIES CALLED LIFE PART 10D   Leave a comment

January 1977 was a mess weather wise–there was a combination of snow, sleet, rain and ice on the 2nd, 6th, 9th and just snow on the 18th and 19th. It was just cold–5 degrees–on the night of the 17th. There is no way to describe what happens in Memphis when it snows. I can start with the drivers who drive like a bat out of Hell to get home and cause more accidents in one hour than would happen all month! Needless to say our classes were empty and we lost money.

Margie quit in March and by August Johnny and I were finished  with his eventually moving out November 6 and the cherry on the top was I came down with gonorrhea! Oh, and I got a speeding ticket in September! Yes, things were falling apart and adding injury to insult I was alone on New Year’s Eve and I had heard whatever you were doing at Midnight on New Year’s Eve you would be doing the rest of the coming year.

1977 wasn’t all bad. During the year I saw Tom Jones, Ella Fitzgerald and Bette Midler in concerts, had a mini affair with a guy named Perry for a couple of months but I have no pictures of him, have no idea who he was/is and I don’t remember a thing about him but according to my diary we went to plays, movies, ate in the best restaurants and slept together quite a bit. On December 27, coming back from Covington ( after doing a class? Having dinner with Johnny’s family? Diary doesn’t say but…) my car broke down near the Millington Naval training place and 2 sailors stopped to help me and I thanked them by inviting them to stay at my place when the came to Memphis. Each did, separately, and the rest is history. I did a post a couple of years ago about Dr.K/Bob, who was the choir director at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, traveled over the world with the Robert Shaw chorale, sang on the Perry Como show, looked like aworldclassconductordressed in his tux and looked like stud of the year in his jeans and plaid shirt when cruising the park. We weren’t soul mates but soul brothers. Bob gave me a gingerbread house for Christmas, the first I ever had and to this day I remember it, how it tasted and every time I see one I think of him and recall the smell when I opened box.

We opened in Pocahontas and Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, but at the same time we had to change our Raleigh meeting room. I went to a Positive Thinking Seminar and on my summer vacation. This was the year that I took the trip to St. Louis with Dr. K to see “A Chorus Line” and life was moving along. I was still having the weekly orgies and people were still responding to my Advocate ad. In July the police went on strike in Memphis and the city was on a curfew but somehow or other Dr. K came home with a couple of them. I had a frightening thing happen on August 29. I was returning from my class in Covington, was stopped at a railroad crossing and somehow or another my car came out of ‘park’ and smashed into the train and spun the car, and me, 360 degrees. I was so mad that I got out of the car and kicked the door until I realized that I could have been killed. The front was smashed in but somehow or another it started up and I was able to drive it totheShell station on the corner of Park Avenue and White Station Road. The next day it was declared totaled by the insurance company. By the way I didn’t have a drink that night.

The beginning of the end, or the realization that things were wrong, was when I got a station wagon, which is so unlike me, but the accountant said that I could claim I was using it for business so that Our Weigh could pay for it. The following week I took Bobby, Ronnie, Larry to Pallazino’s to celebrate Issac’s birthday and the ladies in the office got teed off as did the accountant. I was being questioned about spending money for the first time but it should have happened from the first day!

A very strange thing that I can’t figure out why there was so little mention of Chuck unless I didn’t meet him until after Johnny and I broke up but that doesn’t seem right. I mention Charlie from Spartanberg, Charlie Lee, a Chuck Cagle, a Charles from Chattanooga but no Memphis Chuck. There is a comment about driving up to see Dr. K in Carbondale with ‘2 plus Tommy Stewart’! The first mention I have of Chuck (along with his last name) is on October  18 but that was in relationship for our trip to Dallas with Tommy and Charles Cagle to see, yes, “A Chorus Line” and after that there are a lot of mentions of Chuck. It is hard for me to believe I only knew him for a year before I left Memphis.

On December 1, 1978, the entry states, “Business very bad–I am broke–having book sale”–1979 would bring to a close one of the best, and certainly the best financial, decade of my life.

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Posted August 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ISSAC NOT A HURRICANE–THANKFULLY   Leave a comment

Issac has had a strange pattern–though you can’t see it in the pictures we would have a very heavy rain, so thick you couldn’t see your hand in front of you, for about 10 minutes and then all will be quiet for 30-40 minutes .

FROM THE 5 PM BROADCAST

“Hurricane warning dropped for tropical storm warning. Winds will be around 60 miles per hour sometimes gusting to 70 mph. (Right now we are having 29 mph winds.) Looks like it will miss Tampa and head for New Orleans. Better conditions coming earlier than expected. Tomorrow looks like it will be a regular summer day in South Florida with it being clear and warm during the day and showers or storms in the evening or night. It will take Key West a little longer to clear up as Issac bands will be hitting it all night. Tornado watch expired.”

Here and there you will see a tree down but so far nothing major at Gateway. They did lock down everything they could–chairs, benches, garbage cans, smoking area ash trays, sun umbrellas–including the elevators are not running. They put a lot of records, filing cabinets, papers in them—could you think of a better ‘safe’?

Right now all is quiet but you know in 20-30 minutes the wind and rain will pick up and start rattling things. I just hope the electricity stays on and I am taking a chance by not posting this now and waiting until ‘my posting time’ 9 PM. There have been outages in Miami-Dade, West Palm with a few here in Broward but so far it has been good.

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Posted August 26, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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(HURRICANE(?) ISSAC THEN IL MULINO RESTAURANT REVIEW FORT LAUDERDALE   Leave a comment

IF Issac stays on track we should feel the outer bands of rain and wind at 5 AM, Sunday morning but hurricanes have been known to change direction and all it has to do is turn a little bit north and we will get hit!

As you can see from the pictures above all the chairs and tables have been taken off The Point and Karen Bay is empty of boats. The only thing between us and the Atlantic are those buildings in the background.

I am planning to post tomorrow IF our electricity stays on!

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Full disclosure–I worked as a server at Big Louie’s down the street and it is one of the very few restaurants I worked in that I went back to eat after I left–more about that later.
I have been coming to il Mulino once or twice a year since they opened in 1988. Coming from a movie and having a groupon we decided to have a late lunch there. The room(s) are a rich, deep brown with wine bottles being the main decor. I had the Lasagna ($9.95) and Allen the Penne with meatballs ($9.75) and we were served 4 garlic rolls, Coffee and Iced Tea ($2.25 each) plus tax and tip the check came to $27.07 I had paid $10 for the groupon so the total came to $17.07, basically $11 each, INCLUDING TIP, which is about average for lunch but below average for a full service restaurant. At dinner these 2 items are $12. 95 each.
I enjoyed the lasagna and Allen liked the penne and meatballs. The service could have been a bit better–I had to ask for a refill of coffee while Allen never got offered a refill of his drink. We were given the garlic rolls, which weren’t served warm and had a clump of garlic in the middle of the plate, which were gone by the time we got our main course, and it would have been nice if the server had offered us one more roll each–if nothing else than to sop the sauce up. Having been a server these are the little things I look for to tip more than the standard 20% (before the coupon deduction.)
il Mulino was good but all things being even (no coupon) I would choose to go to Big Louie’s–food is about the same and Big Louie’s has more of a neighborhood and intimate feel even though they tried to go a little more high scale when they remodeled. Their prices are a bit higher at lunch and a bit lower at dinner than the prices at il Mulino’s  while Big Louie’s includes a salad at both servings.
In the past 6 months I discovered another restaurant in the neighborhood called Cafe Vico which has become my first choice for the best Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.

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Posted August 25, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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