Archive for March 2013

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As I said last week usually in mid February The Dollar Tree store gets packets of various flower and vegetable seeds, bags of various soil, all kinds of saucers–and I go crazy!!! Heck, the packets are 4 for a dollar or big $2.99 boxes for a dollar so I bought an assortment but—stupid me—the first batch I planted I threw out the covers so I have no idea what will pop up. The seeds I planted last Sunday consisted of marigolds, beets and turnips and within 2 days they were sprouting amazing .

Here are the pictures including those I took today–the ‘nameless’ plants are in the rear boxes. I suppose I should ‘thin’ out the turnips–the middle front pot–but then I am planning a turnip and beet party!!

I love watching plants growing and I will keep you up to date!

Posted March 31, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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About a week ago, going to the Dollar Tree store, we saw this car parked outside. There are all sorts of miniature animals, toys, religious artifacts glued to the car, mainly on top. He was talking to the manager who obviously asked him what I was thinking and that was, “Why?” He was saying that it made people smile and that’s all he wants to do! Wouldn’t it be great if we all did something to make everyone who comes in contact with us smile?

Posted March 30, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The full title of Tyler Perry’s new film is “Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” which is a big handle for what would make a good TV movie with about 15 minutes cut from this fairly slow moving film. I am a big fan of Tyler Perry (except for his Madea character) and I keep hoping his films will ‘crossover’ to an additional crowd to his usual fan base. Though it was a little larger audience today Allen and I were the only white faces in the audience.


The screenplay, based on his stage play, and directed by Perry, this film is all cliches. An amatuer director, when showing New Orleans, would feature someone singing “When The Saints Come Marching In” and a couple eating beignets at the Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter or having them walk down Bourbon Street sipping Hurricanes. Perry, far from an amatuer, does just that as in the Washington D.C. scenes there are ALL the monuments and buildings an audience will be familiar with.


Regarding the actors, and including a couple in that list seems offense to include as actors, I was familiar with Renee Taylor, who gets the wise crack lines, Vanessa Williams, whose reason for her accent distracts from her performance and doesn’t pay off when the reason is given and  Brandy Norwood who gives a good performance. Ella Joyce is a familiar face and most of her background is in theatre.


Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Lance Gross and Robbie Jones, all mainly from TV sitcoms and series, were new to me. One of the fun things in seeing Tyler Perry films are the point at which the male leads take off their shirts and the reactions from the audience. In Gross and Jones he picked the right guys for those scenes and though given cliche rolls they handle them well. The film revolves around Smollett-Bell who though not giving an embarrassing performance really needs more experience to tackle rolls like this.


I may be the only person who is seeing Kim Kardashian for the first time except in print and, no disrespect intended, like many others I am shaking my head as to how she has come to the point in ‘fame’ that she has reached.


This is not as good a film as his “Why Did I Get Married?” or “Why Did I Get Married Too?”. The biggest disappointment is you would have had to never seen a movie in this genre if you didn’t know where it is heading as soon as you meet the three leads. It wouldn’t be a Perry movie without some sermonizing and he brings the church, the bible, AIDS and HIV+ into the script adding to the already lengthy, at 111 minutes, of the slow moving story.


By the way if you want to see why movies are so expensive to make just sit, and read, through the end credits!

Posted March 29, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Opening night is Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at the Arsht Performing Arts Center in Miami–and I will be having a singing, swinging time there that night–oh, yes–I’ll tell you all about it!

Posted March 28, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“NO”—A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment


After 15 years of a dictatorship Chilean Augusto Pinochet, due to international pressure, was allowing the people to vote in an upcoming plebiscite, an expression of the people’s will, as to whether they favored, voting ‘yes’ or not, voting ‘no’ as to if Pinchot should remain in office. There was no doubt, legally or not, that the majority of people would vote ‘yes’.


Director Pablo Larrain has made this docudrama regarding the election with a screenplay by Pedro Peirano based on a play by Antonio Skarmeta called “The Referendum” and retitled it “No”. Each side of the question had 15 minutes a day to run an ad on television for 27 straight days with most of the ‘no’ ads regulated to the late hours. Rene Saavedra (Gael Garcia Bernal) is a hot shot ad executive who is put in charge of the No vote and tackles it like he was selling a previous product he handled which was a soda called Free. He uses marketing for politics as most ad agencies use it to sell cars, vacation spots or anything that uses balloons, rainbows, kids, blue skies and, in this case a mime that is a running joke throughout the movie.


Rene is prime custodian of his son Simon (Pascal Montero) while his estranged, activist wife Veronica (Antonia Zegers) accuses him of working for the Pinochet regime. He is the son of an exiled Chilean dissident and Rene dresses in jeans to work and skate boards all over town. He also doesn’t hesitate to send his kid to bed so that he could play with Simon’s train set. It is an old friend of his father’s, socialist politician Urrutia (Luis Gnecco) who talks Rene into taking the ad campaign while Rene’s boss Lucho Guzman (Alfredo Castro) takes the opposing campaign.


While it may have been in keeping with the time I found the direction, camerawork and editing to be very distracting, in some spots amateurish, and didn’t really add anything to the film.


Gael Garcia Bernal has a very interesting face, penetrating eyes and, if you have seen him in any other film, you know he is a fine actor who needs that breakout role but this isn’t it.


After watching “No” for an hour and fifty-eight minutes I have to get corny and end with say no to “No”.

Posted March 27, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES 1997-JUNE 1999 PART 23 B   Leave a comment

As a rule life goes at one speed most of the time and then comes a big bump which could be either positive or negative.  I have come across these bumps from as far back as I can remember until 2008 and since then it has been at that one speed but I am jumping ahead of the story.

I have written other chapters about Perry, who I met in 1956 in Miami Beach, and Ronnie who I worked with at The Brass Rail in New York in 1968 and we became close friends.  When I moved to Memphis I kept in touch with both and saw Ronnie whenever I made a trip back to NYC but eventually Perry ‘disappeared’ and he wouldn’t come back into my life in the 1990s and, in a way, saved me.  He now lived in West Palm Beach and we would see each other every once in awhile. Ronnie came to visit me a couple of times in the 1990s and in the 2000s.

In May 1997 normal life was going on: was having problems with my car and it spent a lot of time at National Top & Glass with the ‘arms’ of the top having to be replaced and the top itself wearing out–Jack, the owner, always was fair with me showing what he payed for materials and what he charged me. He knew most of the automobile parts places in town and, so far, was able to replace what needed to be replaced to keep my car in top shape. I was ‘paying’ once again with credit cards even at one point charging groceries which was something I didn’t recall doing before. In one week I won $400 with Play 4 and spent (charged) $901 on getting the car fixed. I was still out of work.

“A Chorus Line” was coming to the fairly new Broward Performing Arts Center and as long as I had charge cards I was going! On June 17 Bob, Jim, Joan and I had dinner at Wally’s Tavern (closed) and then went to see the show. From my diary, “I still love it!”  Bob Mitchell and I went to see “ACL” on the 19th and on June 21 Perry and I went to see the show–in diary–“Excellent as always.  Perry told me that he had gone bankrupt with his last art gallery and was now living in a high rise HUD supported building in West Palm and that I should look into places in Broward.”

At the end of June I wrote, “NO JOB! NO MONEY (Except some unemployment) and I am charging everything to credit cards–where will it end?”  Obviously I knew I was heading for trouble but I didn’t seem concerned and was just going on with my life by going to shows, movies, eating out and, yes, having the time I was having a lot of sex! I was, also, for the first time, using those checks credit cards send in the mail where the interest was outrageous. At the end of July the summary was, “Lousy month–out of work 5 and 1/2 months–running out of money, charging too much but at least the weight is okay!”

On Monday, August 4, 1997, I went for an interview with Cindy at The Crabhouse at the Fountains and I had a good feeling about the interview. Feeling positive I had the front seat on the car fixed for $120 on Wednesday and on Thursday Cindy called and told me to come in for orientation. I followed Christie, had Saturday and Sunday off, got two tables on Monday and by Tuesday I was on the regular schedule. On Wednesday I had to get 2 new tires for $180, charged of course. Funny but I have a note in my diary, “Don’t particularly like the job but I need the money. The side work is ridiculous!” I had to get a complete new front seat which cost $250 which I didn’t charge! Little by little the car was costing me more and more and then on August 24, coming home from work, an 18 year old girl driving her parent’s car went through a red light and slammed into me. I had to go to the hospital to get stitches. All State took the car to West Palm tobe’evaluated’ but no way could I let them ‘total’ it. Unlike me I was making mistakes at work such as ordering 5 plates of stuffed shrimp instead of 5 shrimp platters. I took a couple of days off and then had to go into work to train on Aloha software program. My eyes were black and blue with red bags underneath. I met with a doctor and lawyer.

A couple of weeks later I got  call from All State and they said something like $714 for total and I just said that wouldn’t work as I needed the car and couldn’t afford to buy another. My lawyer called and said neither the girl or her family had car insurance nor did they have any assets that would make it worthwhile suing. I don’t remember the details but I do have a note in September that All State called and offered me $1,700 and I said no. What kind of car could I buy for that money? How much would it cost to get my car in running order? I was using a rental car paid for by the insurance company. I did write them I would settle for $3,400 not expecting them to agree but not knowing what else to do.

By the end of October I was still driving the rental car for free, I was making decent money at The Crabhouse, worked with some decent people though I didn’t like one of the managers Marcello, lost 12 and 1/2 pounds. Finally All State offered me $1,300, I said no, had it towed to Abanathy’s who told me it would cost about $3,000 plus a paint job to get it going. I did go car shopping and the cheapest convertible I could find was $3, 950 which was at the same place I had bought my convertible 16 years ago. I decided to stay with what I had, charge the repairs and think about starting to collect Social Security as I would be 62 in 1998. I did something smart for a change and talked to an accountant who told me that if I started collecting at 62 I would be at least 81 before I got back what I had paid into SS but I would be smarter to wait until I was 65. Hey I said I did something smart for a change but that doesn’t mean I followed his advice!

I was hoping the car crash would be the last negative bump in my life but it was not to be though there were a few positive, very positive, bumps also.

Posted March 26, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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7 DECADES SERIES 1997-JUNE 1999 23 A   Leave a comment

1996 didn’t end on a good note as once again I was robbed though I did have insurance and got a check for over $1,000. With the bad there is always good and I was promoted to trainer of servers at Who Songs which gave me a much better paycheck plus I was getting better stations and making more in tips . There were rumors about the restaurant being sold but nothing concrete. By the way, in case you didn’t know, when being trained in restaurants as servers you follow an old-timer, do most of the work and don’t get any of the tips, just straight pay which, if I remember right, was about $5 an hour in Florida! I would, sometimes, slip the trainee a few bucks if I had a good night and I felt they did more than their share and were catching on quick.

January 1997 started off good as I was still working, making money, eating out and going to the theatre seeing such shows as Rogers and Hart’s “Babe In Arms”, Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning “3 Tall Women” with Bob, Jim and Gino, eating at Tom Jenkin’s BBQ (now closed) or Jalesco’s (still open) or Lester’s (open)depending on which playhouse we were going to–needless to say still going to the movies–seeing such movies as “Jerry McGuire” –all in all a good month.

The rumors started again in February about Who Song closing but now it was added that the whole corner was going to be demolished and there would be a Target going up. I really didn’t think much about it and just continued enjoying life like Gino and I going to see the new movie “Evita” then a bite to eat at Wings ‘N More (closed) or going to Catfish Dewey’s (open) for all you can eat shrimp which, if I remember, was $11.95 or going to the IMAX theatre to see “Into The Deep”. At 61 I didn’t seem to be having any problems of any kind and there aren’t any notes in my diary regarding anything being wrong which, of course, is the time to watch out! The rumors were true about Who Song and we were given notice which is rare in this business!

At the same time, after my place being robbed 3 times, my rental insurance was cancelled. Gino, Emir and I would go to the beach and have lunch at “The Deck” (closed)or went to see Faye Dunaway in “Master Class” at the Parker Playhouse. I did get a job interview at La Bomba (open) but didn’t get the  job. I was now living off money I had in the bank which was a combination of the insurance and my income tax refund. I was gettign unemployment but along with Florida always being one of the lowest in unemployment payments being a server you really didn’t get much to begin with but I wasn’t complaining.

March was also the first time I went to ‘the baths’ in over 20 years and they hadn’t changed a bit in spite of AIDS being prevalent in South Florida. One having nothing to do with the other I do have a note that I went to The Eagle to get Chuck a t-shirt but they didn’t have them. Funny what notes I kept and which I didn’t. I did hear from Bill for my ‘unbirthday’ in the middle of March! In April, still not working, and admittedly, not looking too hard for a job, I was still spending money going to see a performance of “Riverfest” at the Parker Playhouse and “The Heiress” at the Caldwell Playhouse. I do have a remark about staying up all night reading Mario Puzo’s “The Last Don”. I do have a note at the end of April saying, “Also, going broke again!”

Posted March 25, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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#1  For over 9 years I have kept plants on the walkway outside my door which is out of every one’s way–if we have high wind or hurricane warnings I bring them all into my apartment (which ain’t easy for an old man LOL)—we got  notice in the beginning of February that HUD was going to make an inspection so all of a sudden there was a mad rush to ‘follow the rules’ which meant nothing, not plants, chairs, gnomes, NOTHING on walkways under the threat of being kicked out–we are talking about 70, 80 and 90 year old people here folks–OMG! You would think we were living in a condo!  As you can see in the top left picture–the ‘today’ scene–I cleared my part of the walkway but little pots are appearing again!

#2 I discovered “aqua beads’ in the Dollar Tree store and bought enough for all my plants–they are beads that are re-hydrated with water. Over weeks they slowly lose water through evaporation and as plants drink the water. This re-hydrated process can be repeated many times. You can also get them in color adding a little pizazz.

#3 Usually mid February The Dollar Tree store gets packets of various flower and vegetable, bags of various soil, all kinds of saucers–and I go crazy!!! Heck, the packets are 4 for a dollar or big $2.99 boxes for a dollar so I bought an assortment but—stupid me—the first batch I planted I threw out the covers so I have no idea what will pop up.

#6 The first planting on March 10

#4  The same on March 20

#5  The seeds I planted today consisting of marigolds, beets and radishes

#7 Put them on the walkway with the others.

Right now—forgot to post them–I have a pot on my sill of marigolds that have buds showing–will wait until they flower and post them.

This whole seed to bloom really amazes me–can’t wait for my first radish!!!

Posted March 24, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I’ve been going to the Riverfront movie house ever since it opened years ago and noticed when the Pita Pit recently opened up but never gave it a try. We were running early today so decided to have lunch before the movie and since we had tried all the remaining (which are few) places to eat on the Riverfront into the Pita Pit we went.
The place is bright and clean while the people behind the counter were cheerful which is always a good start.
I ordered the turkey pita ($6.25) and was asked if I wanted the combo which included a soda and cookie or chips, said “Yes” and the next thing I know I was paying $9.01. There was no explanation of how they work and after I asked I was told to just wait on line and I would be taken care of which I did and was. There are two choices to make regarding what kind of pita—white or whole wheat–you want plus a variety of toppings plus cheeses and sauces, the majority included at no extra charge I added tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cheddar cheese and yellow mustard sauce on a whole wheat pita. I picked a bag of plain baked chips–feeling virtuous that I didn’t choose a cookie–and filled my cup with diet soda.
It was a good size pita and tasty but I would rather have gone to Subways if I was going to wait on myself. There is nothing wrong with Pita Pit but nothing to make me want to go back again.
By the way the cashier/order taker said nothing about the Pita Pit reward card and when I got home and went to register it I had quite a hassle finally having to call the number on the back of the card. The bottom line was that I couldn’t activate it without buying something first. At this point I just gave up!

Posted March 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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According to, (yes, all sorts of information is available on the Internet), Gerard Butler set some sort of top 5 record with his movie “300” and I think he easily breaks that record with a body count of 600 people just in the first half hour of “Olympus Has Fallen”!


As always one has to check logic at the door when approaching an action film such as this without even talking about a secret service agent, Mike Banning, (Butler) working with the president (Aaron Eckhart) and his wife (Ashley Judd) on Christmas Eve wearing a 5 o’clock shadow! “Olympus Has Fallen” follows the template of hundreds of movies that have come before where one man can fight, kill and escape one threat after another but not one man can escape him.


The story starts with Banning feeling he has made a mistake and then jumps ahead 18 months to present day.  The president, and some of his staff, including secretary of defense McMillan (Melissa Leo) and vice-president Charlie Rodriguez (Phil Austin)  are held hostage by a North Korean terrorist, Yang (Rick Yune), making Morgan Freeman the acting president  who works with secret service director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett). Connor (Finley Jacobsen) as the president’s son, Dylan McDermott as a friend of Banning’s and Radha Mitchell as the latter’s wife are all important parts of the movie but it is Gerard Butler who is the man in the white hat, who uses the ‘F’ word quite a bit, who comes to the rescue of all and the world. In no way is that a spoiler as you know from the beginning it is not who but you have to find out how the hero will save the day.


Director Antoine Fuqua, working with a script by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, plus an excellent CGI crew and a production crew that constructs special, amazing sets, keeps the film going at a fast, sometimes funny pace, defying you to keep an accurate body count.


“Olympus Has Fallen” is a fun, shake your head, how did they do that, just sit back and relax thriller of a movie with a music soundtrack that, at times, is too loud.

Posted March 22, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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