Archive for July 2014

I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER BUT…   Leave a comment

I started writing when I was 10 and knew I wanted to be a writer when I won a writing contest at 12–I wrote an essay for the contest “Why Bing Crosby Is My Favorite Singer”–he wasn’t– (don’t worry kids if you haven’t heard of him–he was an Oscar winning actor, a shrewd real estate guy an world renown singer  with  one his big hits being “White Christmas”) and being a winner I won a Bing Crosby shirt! It was so easy I figured writing would be my career.

Long story short–I have had 8 books published–the last two self-published–a play produced–one performance–BUT it was made into a movie for which I got a nice sum. I don’t talk about the play or movie! Over the years I have written many articles for newspapers, magazines, untold amount letters to the editor and for awhile I was writing columns for 3 different local papers one being a dining column, another essays for the largest gay newspaper at the time in Fort Lauderdale and the third a gay bar guide for South Florida. Currently I am writing reviews of touring Broadway shows that play in Fort Lauderdale and Miami for broadwayshowbiz.com

When I was working for/with Weight Watchers and when I opened my own organization called Our Weigh I wrote cookbooks, motivational books and each organization’s monthly newspaper.

With all this, except for the 10 years in the weight reduction field, I didn’t make a living writing but being  a professional waiter, which I really loved doing but more about that another time.

When it came to writing I always wrote too much and that’s what the next part is about!

Posted July 31, 2014 by greatmartin in WRITING

FLIP-FLOPS IN FLORIDA   Leave a comment


 

I am not that much of a shoe person. I have 3 ‘dress’ shoes that I alternate wearing going to the theatre about 14 times of the year and I have had them for about 10 years. I, also, have a pair of slippers that I may wear now and then plus I got suckered into buying 2 pairs of ‘massage sandals’ that were suppose to ‘soothe’ my feet when having gout and/or spurs.

My favorite ‘shoe’ is the flip-flop which I wear 351 days (352 during a Leap Year) and in the evening since I very seldom wear the slippers. Doctors will tell you that flip-flops will harm your legs and cause problems in the future. All I know is that when my feet hurt they ease the pain whereas shoes cause more pain.

At this time I have 8 pairs of flip-flops but I have had as many as 20. I use to buy some at the Dollar Tree store but they were very thin soled and didn’t last that long. A few years ago when Old Navy had a sale on them for $2 a pair I had bought 4 pairs of which I still have 3. Last Saturday they had an in-store sale for flip-flops going at a dollar a pair but I had no way of getting there and instead went to their web site where I ordered the same but at $2 a pair plus postage.

Size on flip-flops are a funny thing so I bought 3 at size 10-11 and 2 at size 11-12. It took about 5 days to get here but now I am set with flip-flops for at least 5 years. I bought 2 striped and 3 solid—hey I want my flip-flops to match my shorts and shirt!!

It is very rare to see anyone all dressed up in Fort Lauderdale, not even in the theatre, except maybe some sales people. Heck even teachers wear shorts to school but more about that later!

Want to relax and have that ‘beach bum’ feel just come on down here where not only the tourists dress like tourists!

Posted July 29, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

“AND SO IT GOES”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment


Walking into the movie theatre to see “And So It Goes” directed by Rob Reiner, starring Michael Douglas as a widower, who no one likes, and Diane Keaton as a widow wanting to have a career as a lounge singer, who irritate each other, is all you have to know about the story of the movie.
You see the jokes coming yet smile and you know Reiner is going to manipulate your tears which will flow and there isn’t any surprise about the ending because the movie is what you expect and what you want.
“And So It Goes” is the antithesis of the 20+ sequels and remakes with robots, car crashes, apes, vampires, bomb burstings, fights, special effects, etc.
Douglas and Keaton play roles they can do in their sleep but keep it fresh while Sterling Jerins, as the granddaughter Douglas didn’t know he had and Frances Sternhagen represnting the ‘old’ generation as Douglas’s work partner add to the screen whenever they appear.
Austin Lysy, as Jerin’s father, and Andy Karl as another of Douglas’s co-workers, in under-witten roles do better than their roles deserve.
The screenwriter, Mark Andrus, and director Rob Reiner bring to the screen what their audience wants but I am still trying to figure out what the 12 executive producers did!

Posted July 25, 2014 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

TAPS–FORT LAUDERDALE RESTAURANT REVIEW   Leave a comment


Going to the Broward Performing Arts Center and wanting to get a bite to eat can make for an expensive proposition on Himmarshee as most restaurants within a 4-5 block area are all expensive, mostly pretentious and not worth the price. Taps Restaurant, Bar and Lounge is the latest addition to the street.
It was early, around 5:30, and raining when we got there though a couple of waiters were valiantly trying to set up the tables for outdoor dining and there was only one other couple inside.
The décor certainly is modern, almost bordering on 21st Century chic. Though most of the tables are high tops—the ‘taps’ influence–with one row of dinner height tables along a mirrored background.
The first and most important aspect of Taps to me was Jason, our server. I keep on hearing about all the bad service in restaurants but I fail to see it as Jason is the latest in a long line of servers who have made our meals taste a lot better than they actually were.
I took his suggestion of the BLT&A sandwich ($10) and if I had known (or read the ’fine print’) that it came with a small side of salad I wouldn’t have ordered the side of veggies ($4) which was a portabella mushroom, 3 asparagus, red roasted pepper and 3 small artichoke hearts. The sandwich was made with ‘apple wood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and tomato aioli on grilled ciabatta bread’ which made it mostly bread. With it I had a not so special coffee ($3.95)
Allen had the Lemon Roaster Salmon Salad ($14) which he really enjoyed and a diet coke ($2.50)
Time to end the bacon and avocado trend–it is tired at this point.
We had plenty of time so we were going to split the warm apricot rum bread pudding but they were out of it–that is a big strike for me against a new restaurant which implies the chef hasn’t prepped an item., as what could they have been out of not to make it?
Instead of taking Jason’s suggestion of the Belgian Waffles with ice cream we had the Chocolate Lava Cake ($10)—big mistake–next time listen to Jason.
With tax ($2.67) and a 25%+ tip the check came to $60.
Would I go back again? If it is raining, being close to the theatre, I probably would otherwise it is Rok Burger or Tarpon Bend.
When we left–about 6:45–there were a total of 4 parties including us of which I met one of the couples at the theatre later—not a good sign, for an area where restaurants come and go, when a show was opening and this is a block out of the way from the drinking ‘action’.

Posted July 25, 2014 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW

“CIRQUE DREAMS JUNGLE FANTASY” REVIEW   Leave a comment

Can there be too much of a good thing? Last night at the premiere of the touring company of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale it was almost as if they were trying to prove there could.

Start a juggler off with 3 balls, increase it to 6 then 8 then 10 and then the audience loses count. A young lady starts off with two hoops goes to 4, drops one so why not have her use 8? One contortionist doing things with a body that isn’t possible, yet you are seeing it with your own eyes, deserves to work with another lady contortionist and what they do boggles your mind!

There are acrobats who do amazing jumps and flips who bring an audience member up and flip her over. There are many barechested guys with 6 pack stomachs while a few look like they added an extra pack here and there and women who define what an hourglass figure is and what can be done with it on the stage and/or in the air. There is the tallest, blondist, most muscular violinist you have ever seen on stage and animals as never imagined by Mother Nature.

With all the musicians, aerialists, tumblers, jugglers, contortionists which includes 28 extraordinary talented performers they almost play second fiddle to the costumes designed by Lenora Taylor and Santiago that range from astonishing to funny to what a cockeyed Mother Nature would put on stage.

Talking about the very versatile, athletic and entertaining performers it is a shame that they aren’t named in the program or introduced on stage as they certainly deserve the recognition.

Can there be too much of a good thing? Go see Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy and come to your own conclusion!

Posted July 23, 2014 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE REVIEW

MY TRAVELS PART 5A TO SIDNEY, AUSTRALIA   Leave a comment

TO SIDNEY

I left Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, July 29, sad to go but looking forward to more adventures. I arrived in Sidney, Australia, and was taken to the Crest Hotel which was in the heart of Kings Cross, which really didn’t mean anything to me until I started walking around and realized it was the Australian version of Greenwich Village. I have only vague memories from 42 years ago but I do remember buying a beautiful Opal ring for Bernie and I bought myself a green stone ring with the head of a knight carved into it. I don’t know what happened to Bernie’s ring but I do know many years later I cracked my ring and had a plain green stone put in it and wore it for many St. Patrick’s days. A few years ago I gave it to Chuck.

One thing I do remember about Sidney was that bars closed at 9 PM. Do they still? Did they in Auckland? I did go to a bar on the edge of a park and I ate in a restaurant across from the park. I remember the restaurant was a long narrow room and, obviously, people didn’t tip (or was it on the check?) because the server asked if I was an American and I nodded my head I definitely remember he said, with a big smile on his face, “I hope more Americans come and visit us!”

I do remember walking down to the harbor and seeing the Sidney Opera House which wasn’t quite finished and wouldn’t open until 1973 but it already had that distinct look that would make it a symbol all over the world. I, also, remember not taking the tour of the city I was booked for but I don’t remember why. Hung-over? Drunk? My itinerary does say it was an afternoon drive.

It might have been that the night before that I went to the Shakespeare Bar, a 3 story building, that was unique in that the first floor served nongay couples, the second floor gay men and the third floor gay women—remember this was 1972! I sort of recalled it was near, or maybe attached, to a hotel of the same name. I, also, met two guys who took me on a tour of gay bars of which I only remember one. I don’t remember the name of the place or where it was though it seemed to have been away from the Kings Cross section but I do remember, to this day, what I saw!

Posted July 14, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

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FIRSTWATCH–THE DAYTIME CAFE–FORT LAUDERDALE–REVIEW   Leave a comment

Having been a server for over 38 years the last thing I would do would be to walk in a place that is closing in 10 minutes, but, unaware, that is just what I did. When I realized what I had done I apologized to our server Lindsay and she explained that it wasn’t a problem as she still had side work to do and there were still 3 other parties who hadn’t finished. She won me right there with her attitude !

So there is no misunderstanding the restaurant is open 7 AM-2:30 PM!

The restaurant itself is spacious and overlooks a plaza with a water fountain and as you approach the plaza there is a huge mural depicting a sunny Florida sky. The whole Sea Ranch Center is very inviting and there is plenty of free parking.

As large and as inviting as the FirstWatch in inside they also have an attractive large space for dining outside.
The menu is attractive and makes you want to try everything starting with the Siesta Key Cocktail or the Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl. We didn’t want to keep them any longer than we had to so I ordered the Reuben (($7.99) and Allen had the open face Chicken salad melt ($7.99) both served with an order of soup or salad. Our drinks, his diet soda and my coffee, were $2.39 each and the latter served in a steel carafe. The check came to $22.01 including tax plus tip. I don’t remember where I got it but I had a 2-4-1 coupon so the check was finally $13.54. Due to Lindsay’ attitude, especially when she mentioned she was off to another job and didn’t rush us, and knowing we kept her a little later we left her a $10 tip, well worth it.

A friend mentioned looking for some good Eggs Benedict and without hesitation I recommend The FirstWatch, ‘the daytime café‘, to her!

Posted July 12, 2014 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW

“DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

 

Comes February, 2015, an ape may win the Best Actor Oscar as Andy Serkis gets first billing as Caesar deservedly if nothing else but for the acting he does with his eye. Very close behind him is Toby Kebbell as Koba, another ape. None of the actors playing humans such as Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee stand a chance when they are on screen with the aforementioned apes or the other ape actors like Judy Greer, Karim Konoval and Nick Thurston.

First and foremost I must emphasize that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” must be seen on the BIG movie screen just as “Gravity” had to be seen in a movie theatre to really be appreciated.

The only other ‘Ape” movie I have seen was the very first in 1968 and just the production values from makeup to costumes to special effects since then is a show in itself. It is beyond my comprehension how visual effects supervisors Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon achieved what they do in this movie.

The direction gets the strong hand that it needs from Matt Reeves. The script writers Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver follow the trend and true westerns of the past with bad guys and apes versus good guys and apes, including a high noon shoot out and a major draw dropping fight out between the hero and villain–no, not who you think!

The bottom line is that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has to be seen in a movie house on the large or it will be just another meaningless movie. Get ready for an ape to win the major acting prizes!

Posted July 11, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MY TRAVEL TO NEW ZEALAND PART 4   Leave a comment

 

In the 1970s we didn’t have digital and/or compact cameras, consequently I didn’t bring a camera along with me when I went to New Zealand. I also, remember thinking that I could pick up postal cards as they had better pictures than I could take. Big mistake! I don’t have a single picture of my trip to New Zealand!

I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, and immediately fell in love with it! I stayed at the Logan Park Hotel on the top of a hill and I burst out laughing with my first view out the window. Across the street was a huge area of grass and there were sheep grazing. The bellman explained that it was a lot cheaper than hiring someone to mow the grass and, maybe being a naïve tourist I believed him!

Sober or drunk there are some things I will never forget about Auckland, one being the people I met starting with my leaving the hotel the first time. I had the Damon’s gay guide in one hand and a map of Auckland in the other and I had asked at the front desk where Queens Street was and they told me to make a left leaving the hotel and then another left, walk down the hill and it would take me there. In a short time I found myself at Queens street but had no idea where to go to find the gay bar in the guide. I, obviously, looked like a tourist and a young, good looking guy stopped and asked if he could help me and I told him the place I was looking for. He told me to follow him and it wasn’t long before we were down by the Princess and Queens wharves and he pointed the bar out to me. I asked him to join me for a drink but he said he wasn’t that way—I forget the term he used but I got the message right away. He told me to have a good time and hope I enjoyed my stay.

I don’t know how much, if any, things have changed in Auckland city since the 70s regarding bars but to me it was like a whole new world. You went up to the bar, ordered you drink, paid and then went to waist high tables where other men were drinking. I quickly learned that unless you specified ice when you ordered scotch you got it straight. There were 3 or 4 guys at the table and I noticed one smoking so I lit a cigarette. I stood there smoking and sipping my scotch when one of the guys, finishing his drink, asked what we were drinking, went to the bar and bought us all a round. Was he cruising? I didn’t know. Another guy took out a cigarette and offered all of us, including me with a cigarette in my hand, one. I held mine up and said, “No thank you. I already have one lit.” As soon as I spoke and they heard my accent the other guys turned into being my best friends. They couldn’t stop asking me questions about the “States” and they explained the ritual of offering cigarettes and buying rounds of drinks for everyone at the table. They seemed to be shocked that we didn’t do this back in the USA.

To make a long story short though I missed preplanned trips, or at least I think I did, set up by my travel agent such as going to the summit Mt. Eden and going to the War Memorial Museum ‘to see New Zealand’s finest display of Maori artifacts’ or going to the shores of Waitemata Harbor I did see a lot of Auckland that I would never would have seen before. The guys decided to be my host and though they didn’t know each other they decided who would take me where after they took me for a typical New Zealand dinner. I only stayed in Auckland for 2 days but I don’t recall ever meeting nicer guys on a trip or being shown such hospitality before. It even extended to my returning to the States and receiving two sheep skin rugs that one of the guys exported and that I still have.

Australians don’t take this wrong but the next time I come over ‘down under’ I will spend more time in New Zealand. I want to rent a car and drive from one end of the country to the other stopping in Wellington, Christchurch but starting in Auckland to say hello to one of the guys I met 42 years ago!

Posted July 11, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

“THIRD PERSON”–MOVIE REVIEW–LIAM NEESON SEES LIVE PEOPLE   1 comment


As a rule I will usually post my movie review the same evening after I have seen the movie but I wanted to give the “Third Person” awhile before giving my opinions. I don’t remember the last time I saw an audience with such puzzled faces walking out of a movie theatre as I did after the end credits were shown.

While I prefer my movies tied up in a bow with rational explanations of why/what took place I don’t mind the occasional one with ambiguous endings but sometimes the writer/director, in this case Paul Haggis, who also wrote and directed the Oscar winning “Crash”, goes a little too far. There are 3 stories going on here simultaneously but really there is a fourth which helps in adding, “What?!” to the ending. I don’t like to give spoilers so I really won’t give my explanation except to say as a writer I have written books of fiction giving characters different aspects of myself and leave it at that.

The stories revolve around Mike (Liam Neeson), Anna (Olivia Wilde) and his wife (Kim Basinger), Sean (Adrien Brody) and Monika (Moran Atias), Julia (Mila Kunis) and her ex (James Franco) and her lawyer (Maria Bello) each story involving a child, girl or boy, dead or alive.

One couple is in Paris, another in Rome and a third in New York and whether on purpose or not the writer/director Haggis will have Mila in New York, where her main story takes and place, and twice in Paris without any reason except writers have the freedom to take their story where they want.

All the actors do fine but Kunis’s make up is a bit too much even for a one time soap opera star and Brody comes up bland playing opposite Atias, an Israeli actress, as a Romanian gypsy!

I don’t know how to explain this but though the movie is interesting it is also boring, the running time being over 2 hours and 20 minutes. The film is about all aspects of love but doesn’t get the viewer involved which in the end makes it a failure.

Posted July 5, 2014 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

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