Archive for December 2013



Looks like Santa is a little behind schedule as he will be on stage this evening at the Adrienne Arsht Center of Performing Arts in Miami, Florida–or he just likes our 80 degree temperatures! Whatever the reason, he is here to make Christmas last just a bit longer and being the big kid I am I going to keep him company tonight!

“Elf” based on the hit movie, starring Will Ferrell, the musical is the story of Buddy who doesn’t know he is human having lived at the North Pole most of his life. Santa has to send him back to the big city where he was born. We follow Buddy along his adventures as he, thinking and dressing as an elf, puzzles most people just as he is puzzled by all those who don’t believe in Santa Claus.

The book of the musical was written for the Broadway showing, plus national tours, by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin while the songs are by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin.

With Gordon Gray as Santa Claus, Matt Kopec as Buddy and Jacqueline Grabois along with Kate Hennies, Matthew Alan Smith, Jane Bruce, Tyler Altomari, Kevin Rockower, not to forget Clyde Voce as the Christmas Land Manager I am looking forward to a lot of singing, dancing and comedy!

What a way to end the New Year–spending it with Santa and a bunch of elves in a magical place called theatre. Hate me if you must but who are you spending New Year’s Eve with? I mean face it this guy is the King of gifts to all of us.

Will post a review of the show tomorrow or the next day.

And next Tuesday I get to spend the evening with Dorothy–yes, THAT Dorothy–as the new Andrew Lloyd Weber’s new production of  “The Wizard of Oz” opens at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale. Who says you can’t be a kid again?!

Production photos by Joan Marcus from the PR Manager Charlotte Vermaak connected with Broadway Across America–Thank you.This evening the touring company of “The Elf” opens at the Arsht Center down in Miani and I will be sitting in my critic’s seat taking notes so I can tell you all about it over the weekend.



Posted December 31, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ODDS AND ENDS OF 2013 PART 3   Leave a comment

I was so excited! I came home to find a box at my front door and immediately thought it was the missing mysterious carrot cake!! I carried it in carefully, put it on the table, got a knife and started opening the 12X12X12 box. It was filled with bubble wrap as any cake company would be sure to pack a cake secure. Taking off the wrap imagine my face falling to the floor when instead of finding carrot cake I found a bpox filled with gauze bandages, non-stick tape, gauze bandage roll and jars of sterile saline!

AS it happened my primary and vascular surgeon doctors arranged for me to have home care with a nurse coming to change my bandage X amount times a week. The first time she arrived she didn’t have any supplies and asked me what the hospital sent me home with. After my initial surprise at her question because I had no idea what she was talking about she explained they, or my doctors, were suppose to give me the ‘cleaning’ supplies. After calls back and forth to her office, my doctor’s office and my insurance it was finally agreed that I would be sent what was needed but exactly when they couldn’t say.

I have no idea, and don’t really want to know, what this box of supplies costs, especially after all those reports about what a hospital charges for an aspirin!! I do know there are enough supplies for a couple of months at least. Then what happens with those that are left over? In any case with teh first visit by the nurse luckily I had the supplies she needed–not as many, not the exact size but enough to take care of the job. I must admit she didn’t carry back-up supplies ‘just in case’ but then I started to think of all the supplies she would ahve to carry and realized that it would be impossible.

The leson I learned about Santa Claus is that he doesn’t always bring what you want but what you need! (Santa, I do NEED that carrot cake!!!! Are you sure you didn’t eaty it???)

Please make note of my email address if you want to keep in contact with me now or in the future

Posted December 30, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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ODDS AND ENDS OF 2013 PART 2   Leave a comment

I have been having trouble with my right leg since Thanksgiving Eve finally getting to my primary doctor on December 2 who sent me to a minimally invasive surgeon on December 5 who immediately sent me to my vascular surgeon. He in turn sent me to the Memorial hospital for 5 days where on the 5th day he cut into my leg to get some of the blood out. (I will not get into the fury I felt having to miss the opening night of the touring company of “We Will Rock You”–hey you have your priorities and I have mine! LOL)

So far it has been diagnosed as: 1) a blood clot  2) cellulitis  3) a hemotoma and now 4) Lymphedema–the latter for which I will have to buy compressed stockings which run around $83 a pair! Can you see me taking pictures modeling those?!?!

In the meanwhile the left leg started to swell up which didn’t make me happy! I was now home with a big bandage around the leg and feeling a little funky so I wanted to take a shower but I had to keep the bandage dry. Ladies you always read in the Ladies Home Companion to greet your husband at the door just wrapped in Saran wrap–well I hope it works better than wrapping clear wrap around a bandage to keep it dry!

Living in a residence for seniors I put out a cry for help–heck there isn’t a person among the 299 others who haven’t been through something you will go through! Very quickly Shirley replied with a “Seal tight cast and bandage protector”. She had used it when she had a cast on her arm but as you can see it works fine for a foot, too. (And, no, it does NOT look like a big condom, as some have suggested!!) It is/was a perfect gift for anyone who has to take a shower and still protect an arm or leg. It works/worked fine–Thanks again Shirley. Talk about Christmas gifts!!! I don’t know how much longer I will be needing/using it but it is available to anyone who finds themselves in the same kind of jam!

Wait til you see the other ‘gifts’ I got for having a bad leg.  If you would be interested in getting in touch with me personally in the future please make note of my email address.

Posted December 29, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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THE ODDS AND ENDS OF 2013 PART 1   Leave a comment

If one didn’t know better you would think my life revolves around food! (Shhhhh– it does!)

Just this month I received Christmas boxes from Chuck and Terry sending me bars of Mississippi Mud and Turtle brownies from (check it out and salivate!!!) while the week before there was another box from the same place from Alfredo and Michael with carrot cake and white chocolate truufle bars–all gone! (Pictures 3 & 4)

The day after Christmas I got a gift box sent by Mary from Rossi Pasta (pictures 1 & 2). It consisted of: a 12 ounce package each of Parsley Garlic Fettuccini,Capelli d’Angelo angels hair and of Wild Mushroom Linguini. Also enclosed was a 215.5 ounce jar of Artichoke sauce and one of Classic Marinara. Now I just have to go out and get some good garlic rolls for a Heavenly meal!

Talking about garlic rolls some of you know that I worked as a waiter at Big Louie’s here in Fort Lauderdale which was my last job before retiring and one of my best. I very seldom go to rerstaurants that I have worked at but Big Louie’s is the exception. I hadn’t been there for awhile so on Christmas Day, after seeing “The Wolf of Wall Street” we went there walking the block away. We had a bid fresh salad with blue cheese dressing, their fabulous garlic roles (I had one for you Terry!) and then a pizza with sausage, pepparoni, meatball, pepper and onions all tasting as good as ever! (See pictures 5 & 6)

Talking about eating out we did go to the Outback twice–the fisrt time I had a big cheeseburger and the second time a 6 ounce steak with mushroom sauce.

Still on the subject of food—who? Me? Talking about food?–somewhere in Fort Lauderdale is the carrot cake Maria sent me–I have already listed a reward and/or a threat of death for anyone who stole it!!! My neighbors know better so this is a warning to anyone who took that cake–you have never seen the wrath of GreatMartin!

For those who want to keep in touch with me please take note of my email address–will explain in a very future blog.

Posted December 28, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A reviewer should review the movie they have seen not the want they wanted it to be. P.L. Travers, born Helen Lynden Goff, had an alcoholic father who died at a young age, a suicidal mother, adopted a boy when she was 40 though she wouldn’t adopt his twin brother. She was an actress before becoming a writer under the Travers name and became famous with “Mary Poppins”. She had live in affairs with two women and would die at the age of 96.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is based on a trip she made to Hollywood, with all expenses picked up by Walt Disney, who wanted the rights to her best selling “Mary Poppins”. Tom Hanks plays Disney as an easy going, easy to get along with guy, who portions out a lot more than ‘A Spoonful of Sugar” to get those rights.

Emma Thompson is the back bone of the movie playing Travers as a woman who won’t give an inch. She is cold, looks down her nose on Hollywood and feels they will only bring harm to the work so close to her. She doesn’t like Dick Van Dyke, wanting only an English cast, refused to have animated animals, scoffed at the songwriters and screenwriters, really doesn’t get the audience on her side, even with flashbacks to her childhood, but by the end of the film will move you to tears.

Joseph Schwartzman and B. J. Novak play the songwriting brothers, who won Oscars for Best Song “Chim Chim Che-ree and Best Original score, with Bradley Whitford, as Don DaGradi receiving a nomination for screenplay, doing an all around true person. There is an outstanding performance by Paul Giamatti playing Travers’s Hollywood driver, Ralph. Colin Farrell as her father does a stereotype of the drunken Irish man with some warmth while most of the women in the movie have what would be called cameo parts by such names as Kathy Baker, Ruth Wilson and Rachel Griffiths.

After bombastic films like “American Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” it’s a good change of pace to come across the story of an Australian writer in a two film about a beloved American movie but, hopefully, with Emma Thompson playing P.L. Travis agai we will get the more dramatic picture of her real life.

Posted December 27, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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In a movie about the excesses of Wall street brokers in the 1990s “the Wolf Of Wall Street” is excessive in all aspects starting with a movie that, running at 3 hours, could have easily been cut by an hour.  You will see at least 3-4 scenes more than you need to showing the excess of drugs whether cocaine, Quaaludes or whatever else is on hand. After one scene of fellatio it is almost quarantined that there will be  a dozen more. If you miss that full frontal nude scene–women only, of course–just wait a few minutes as there are so many repeats of the scene, using different women, over the three hours you aren’t really missing anything. Whether it be orgies of sex or luxury or curse words it almost makes the story meaningless. It does leave the question why a man who owns a 170 foot yacht wouldn’t own his own jet or at least rent one to go to Las Vegas but then the excessive orgy on the plane wouldn’thave the same outcome. It is one of the many missteps in this film.

“The Wolf Of Wall Street” is based on the book, and true story, by Jordan Belfort who made his fortune during the 1990s when the stock market made millionaires of many young men. Terence Winter wrote the screenplay and Martin Scorsese directed the film working with Leonardo DiCaprio for the fifth time.

DiCaprio plays his second rich man this year, after starring as Gatsby, but Jordan Belfort is more interested in himself than he is in a woman or women, though he has sex with many of them. He also has 2 slapstick scenes, one with Jonah Hill, that shows his comedic talent and he is much more relaxed in this film than he has been in awhile. This is one of his better performances though he too has excessive, unnecessary scenes and goes a little overboard here and there.

Jonah Hill, as Belfort’s best friend and business partner, gets too hammy here and there to raise the empathy of the audience to accept the fact that he is not a ‘bad’ person. Kyle Chandler plays the FBI man who doesn’t seem capable of a smile. The women in the film are there to play the wives, mothers, girlfriends and hookers. Would you accept Rob Reiner as DiCaprio’s father? He does  a good job as does Jean Dujardin, Jon Favreau and Jon Bernthal.

With “Magic Mike”, “Mud”, “Dallas Buyers Club” Matthew McConaughey adds the cherry to the top of his winning acting streak in “The Wolf Of Wall Street” playing Mark Hanna, a very successful Wall street broker who seems to have invented excessiveness. His role calls for him to be over the top and he takes it just far enough.

As in most Scorsese movies all the production values are first rate except for the editing in this one. It seems as if the director was rushed and the picture was being released before he finished his job. Whether he would have cut the movie and removed a lot of the excessive excessivenes, if not by an hour at least by 30 minutes, hopefully he will when it comes out on DVD or the viewer can fast forward through all the repetitions.

Posted December 26, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL   Leave a comment


Posted December 25, 2013 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, 2013 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, 2013 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. 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.


Posted December 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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