Archive for December 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL WHO ENRICHED MY LIFE IN 2012!   Leave a comment


My life is better because of your calls, your e-mails, your snail mails, your comments, your posts, your presents, your presence , your thoughts, sharing your life, your information, your knowledge, your kind and positive remarks.

I am lucky that I have EVERYTHING I need: a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, friends, people I love and who love me–nothing else is important to me. Yes there are things I want but I don’t need them.

I will not make any resolutions except to remain as happy, positive, smiling and as fabulous as I was in 2012!!!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Posted December 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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WHO IS STEALING MY FOOD?   Leave a comment

If I didn’t know better I would think some people want to make me fat(ter)! On the 20th a package arrived and I emailed the sender to ask if it was perishable as I had already eaten too much that day and they said no so I put it aside until Monday (after I did my semi weekly weigh in!) and opened the box and I dived in!! It was a large snow scene tin split into quarters with cashews in one, chocolate walnuts in another, white frosted pecans in a third and the last quarter had honey roasted cinnamon pecans. Within an hour I had eaten at least half of each quarter even the cinnamon pecans which I didn’t particularly like, but in the spirit of the holiday while reading the nutritional information enclosed with the tin–as if anyone is really interested in the nutritional information as they are eating this assortment!!! Let’s face it, both nuts and chocolate are good for you though I don’t think you are suppose to eata years requirement in one hour!

And then that afternoon I received another package and something happened–it all disappeared and all I had was the empty woven basket it came in! There had been cheeses, crackers, chocolate cookies, assorted candies and small cakes in the package–now all gone!

I really have to call the exterminator because no one could eat ALL that–both packages–unless they were squirrels storing it or mice taking it all into a private hole. I did suspect Santa but he wasn’t due until that night.

This is a mystery—-mmmmmm–maybe I should call Olivia from “Law & Order” or one of the other police or Sherlock Holmes–Agatha Christie? Well before I call anyone guess I better get rid of some evidence–my scale doesn’t lie!

 

Posted December 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ARGIE GRILL–FORT LAUDERDALE–RESTAURANT REVIEW   Leave a comment

Seems we are the only, or very few, who ate at the Argie Grill and were sober as most reviewers mention bar hopping !
Argie Grill most hold some sort of record in that they are longest lasting restaurant in the white elephant known as the Las Olas Riverfront Center. As it was Friday afternoon we were going to the movies and though we usually eat afterwards we had extra time so any excuse to eat. I have passed the place many times but never eaten in it but that will change from now on.
The husband and wife(?) team were very pleasant and though it is somewhat of a fast food place the gentleman took our orders) got our soda, delivered the food and was also the cashier.
I had the beef empanada with chimichurri sauce ($3.95) and a soda ($1.75) so with tax it was $6 and change. The empanada, while good, really didn’t taste ‘homemade’ but the chimichurri sauce added a good ‘bite’ to it.
Allen had a chicken and cheese sandwich ($.5.95), soda ($1.75) and an order of fries ($1.95) so with tax  a total a little over $10. The sandwich was a good size and he said tasty while, after snatching a couple, the fries were very salty.
With over 19 different fillings there are an array of empanadas from beef to chicken, vegetarian to seafood, some spicy, most not and all served with the chimichurri, the Angie Grill is a good place for lunch or a bite to eat before or after drinking or while strolling down the riverfront.

Posted December 29, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

 

Bradley Cooper is not only People Magazine’s “Sexiest Guy Alive” for 2012 along with playing in two of the highest grossing R rated comedies, “The Hangover” and “Hangover 2” but he was just nominated for a Golden Globe award as best actor in a movie for this film “Silver Linings Playbook” and, in all probability, will get an Oscar nomination though his competition there is fierce. His co-star, Jennifer Lawrence,  was nominated for an Oscar in 2010 for “The Winter’s Bone”, was in the “X Men” in 2011 and became the  highest grossing heroine in action films adding, and becoming a household name in 2012, after starring as Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games”. She was also recently nominated for a Golden Globe award for her performance in the “Silver Linings Playbook”.

 

Bradley is Pat, who we meet being picked up by his mother, Dolores, Jacki Weaver, from a mental institution where he was for 8 months after committing a violent act. In addition he is bipolar and feels he doesn’t need to take his medicine. His father Pat Sr., Robert De Niro, seems to be a little ‘off’ with his love for the Philadelphia Eagles and a restaurant owner who is also a bookie. Julie Stiles is Vernica, the bullying  wife of Pat’s friend Ronnie, John Ortiz, and a friend of Nikki, Brea Bee, Pat’s estranged wife. It is Veronica who introduces Pat to Tiffany, Jennifer Lawrence, who might be as ‘crazy’ as Pat such as when the both of them discuss what medicines they have taken and take.

 

The story revolves around Pat wanting his ex-wife back, Tiffany wanting to use Pat as a dance partner in a contest, Pat Sr using whatever good luck omens, including his son, to have the Eagles win games and everyone having a happy ending which is what the director and screenplay writer David O. Russell is aiming for.

 

It’s been awhile since De Niro had a chance to show the actor that he really is, and the versatility he has, with both drama and comedy. Jacki Weaver gives a sterling performance as the only ‘normal’ one in the film. Chris Tucker as a friend, and fellow inmate from the asylum, gives an effective performance while Julia Stiles is wasted. Anupam Kher, as Pat’s therapist, doesn’t feel/look comfortable in the comedy aspects of his role just as Dash Mihok as a police officer is too stiff in his role.

 

As most films today “Silver Linings Playbook” is too long by about 10 minutes and the whole Ernest Hemingway, though it does show an aspect of Pat, segment could easily be cut. The dance angle doesn’t come across as romantic as David O. Russell intended with no fault of Cooper and Lawrence, who have tremendous chemistry, though I hope Cooper is a better dancer than he shows in the film.

 

“Silver Linings Playbook” is not quite the romantic comedy that I was/am looking for but the performances by Cooper, Lawrence, Weaver and De Niro should be seen.

Posted December 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“LES MISERABLES”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

 

Having seen the musical version of “Les Miserables” four times on stage, twice when the 25th anniversary concert was presented on television  and now on the movie screen there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each medium. The PBS anniversary brought the original 1985 and the current cast together in an encore that would be prohibitive for regular performances on stage and unthinkable on film. In the theatre version you have a cast filling the stage with song and your eyes are darting all over as the action is conceived between wide and high  but set walls. As the sung through story is the same in all 3 mediums the movie version proves to be the most moving as the maligned by critics close-ups are numerable but brings the audience into the story and into the characters.
Russell Crowe is getting a bad rap, undeservedly, for his singing  and brings the needed gravitas to his role as Javert and the moral problem he finds himself facing.  Both Hugh Jackman, as Jean Valjean, and Anne Hathaway, as Fantine, deliver the goods in both singing and acting departments.  Samantha Barks, as Eponine, and Eddie Redmayne, as Marius, present breakout roles in their careers. Sacha Baron Cohen, as Thenardier, and Helena Bonham Carter, as Madame Thenardier, are usually too much for too long in their screen roles but here they are reigned in as far as screen time goes and offer comic relief. Amanda Seyfried, as Cosette, pales against the rest of the cast.
The screenplay by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil,  Claude-Michel Schoenberg and Herbert Kretzmer based on the original stage musical by Boublil and Schoenberg which in turn was based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel hits all the necessary plot points while Tom Hooper, the director, brings you into the story with those close-ups and some dizzying editing. There are a couple of scenes that take you out of the story by being obviously done on a set and looking very fragile.
Another difference between the mediums is that intermission in the stage version gives you the  much needed stretch while in the film there isn’t any break and with the film a little over 2 hours and 30 minutes you could use one. In spite of the length the movie goes by at a fairly fast pace and you can almost hear when the audience recognizes one of the many known songs. The auditorium was full and stayed that way with applause at the end.
I will be seeing the touring company when it opens in Miami February 26 and I have a strong feeling I will be seeing the movie again before that date!
 
And yes I cried like a baby the last 30-45 minutes which I didn’t do in the stage productions except for maybe “Bring Him Home” :O)

Posted December 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL MY FRIENDS–AND A FEW ENEMIES LOL   Leave a comment

A LOT OF RED AND A LOT OF GARLANDS IN MY HOME

Posted December 25, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“SISTER ACT–THE MUSICAL”–TOURING COMPANY REVIEW   Leave a comment

 

When was the last time you saw nuns do a Radio Music Hall line kick routine or were warned that taking pictures in a theatre is a sin? Never? Get over to the Broward Performing Arts Center during the next two weeks and you will. Okay so they don’t kick as high as the Rockettes but then the Rockettes don’t wear the many different habits like the nuns in “Sister Act” do. From every metallic color to dripping sequins these nuns change habits like drag queens change outfits at Lips.

 

“Sister Act–the Musical” takes place in the disco-Philly soul era  and has a completely original score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater that help move the plot along and give the nuns a few gospel songs to raise the roof  and save the church from being sold.  The basic premise is that second rate entertainer Deloris Van Cartier (Ta’rea Campbell) has witnessed her married gangster lover, Curtiss Jackson, (Kingsley Leggs) kill a man and a policeman Eddie Souther (E. Clayton Cornelious), who had a childhood crush on Delores, hides her in a convent until she can testify against Curtiss. The show is about the effect she has on the nuns and the insights the nuns bring to her about herself plus the constant run in she has with the Mother Superior (Hollis Resnik).

 

It takes a few minutes to buy Campbell as Delores but even with just one solo number she sells the part in her way.  Lael Van Keuren, as novitiate Mary Robert, has the knock your socks off number “The Life I Never Lead”.  Joey (Todd A. Horman), Pablo (Ernie Pruneda) and TJ (Charles Barksdale) has the audience laughing with “ Lady In THe Long Black Dress” while the closing company number “Spread The Love Around” almost blasts the roof off the Performing Arts Center. Cornelious, singing “I Could Be That guy”, invokes Barry White and Luther Vandross while giving his spotlight number his own spin. The 14 piece orchestra conducted by Brent-Alan Huffman gives the cast solid backing.

 

The costume designer Lez Brotherston, the scenic designer Klara Zieglerova and the lighting designer Natasha Katz bring a lot of sparkle to the stage. The Rockette like nuns owe a bow to the choreographer Anthony Van Laast.

 

“Sister Act–the Musical” is an entertaining show but if you have seen the movie the latter will keep flashing before your eyes in many scenes.

 

Act 1:  1 hour and 2 minutes  Intermission: 21 minutes  Act 2:  57 minutes  

Strobe, flashing lights and gunshots are used during the production.

 

Coming up next: “Mary Poppins” at the Arsht Center in Miami, “Agatha Christie’s BBC Murders at the Parker Playhouse and  “Flashdance” at the Broward Performing Arts Center.

Posted December 25, 2012 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 at 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, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 2   Leave a comment

 

     

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, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A JEW LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS PART 1   Leave a comment

 

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. 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!

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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.

NEXT, PART 2, A MAGICAL TIME/PLACE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN AND SHOULD BE EXPERIENCED BY EVERYONE AT LEAST ONCE–A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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“With our thoughts we make the world.”

Buddha  563-483 BC Indian Religious Teacher

Posted December 22, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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