Archive for December 2014

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS AGAIN?!?!?!   Leave a comment

Is it that time already? Again? Well we are thinking about it now. Go on a diet. Walk a couple of miles a day. Exercise. No more sweets. Cut back on bread. Cut up the charge cards. Write more often. Call. Do this and that. Don’t do this and that.

Yes that tradition known as New Year’s resolutions. Almost the same as that tradition of breaking New Year’s resolutions.

When I was younger I made resolutions and, like you, I broke them. At one time I made a resolution to break whatever resolutions I made. In 1985 I decided no more New Year’s resolutions and I haven’t made any since. Well I didn’t make them New Year’s Eve or Day but I found myself making them during the year. Just a few months ago I decided to put X amount of dollars a month aside for my Leap Year birthday party on Monday, February 29, 2016, and I have been doing that.

There is nothing wrong with making resolutions but why the same ones all the time? Wait, the blog sites will be loaded with “I am going to lose weight”, “I will join the gym and exercise” posts and they will eagerly tell you how great they are doing and then they will confess there first ’cheat’ and will rationalize it away and tell you they are going right back, that they are not giving up. Funny but by February you won’t read a post about diets, exercise, losing weight, getting healthier.

How about something different this year? Don’t make any resolutions, don’t talk about what you are GOING to do–JUST DO IT! Then in July or even better in December, 2015, tell us what you did since January!


Posted December 31, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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SHE’S A LADY BUT DON’T GET HER MAD!   Leave a comment

Mother Nature continues, as always, to astound me.

Looking at the slideshow you will see the story of my Christmas cactus. It is hard to explain but I have had the Mother plant for about 7 years now and most years it will have 5-6 blooms around Christmas but on February 29, 2012,  every branch had a bloom.

I cut off some branches, put them in pots and they hadn’t bloomed until this year when the buds appeared on December 23rd  only to bloom on December 25th on 3 of the 5 plants I have around the apartment. Of all the plants only one has white blossoms!

Along with everything else a couple of weeks ago I bought a couple of geraniums at Home Depot one pink and one red and the red came into full blossom the week before Christmas, so along with the 3 poinsettias, the cactus and the geraniums my apartment is and will be bright for weeks to come and I love it!

Posted December 29, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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For a restaurant that has been opened 6 months it has a smooth operation, excellent service and a manager who listens. That’s the good part and the bad part is that what we had wasn’t THAT good.

I did want to try the 4 different kind of meatballs they had on the menu but the closest they could come would be ordering sliders with 3 different balls and that’s not a main course to me. I made a mistake by waiting to speak to Steve the manager after I had ordered and he was most accommodating but at that point my food came out so I left it as it was. He did say they were working on a new menu.

Patrick, our server, did a great job. I took one of his suggestions which was the Sicilian F&B sandwich ($11) served on Italian bread and had beef balls, tomato sauce, mozzarella, sweet and hot peppers and a simple arugula salad on the side. None of the flavors stood out, including the meatball and the bread was too thick .
Allen ordered the classic beef balls and penne with tomato sauce ($13) but when served it had spaghetti. Allen immediately said something and they (It wasn’t Patrick) were willing to change it but he ate it. When I asked how it was he said “Nothing special. Just spaghetti and meatballs.”

I should be use to it by now but paying $3 for a cup of regular coffee and $2.95 for a diet coke just ‘gets me’! Okay we are on Las Olas Blvd so we were paying for that.
One thing I did appreciate was that Patrick asked if we wanted refills he brought fresh ones.

We ordered a fried bread pudding ($6)–it has no resemblance to bread pudding and could easily pass for French toast, even with a scoop of ice cream on top of it. Hopefully that will be rethought with the new menu.

The reason we choose to eat here was that the day before I had received a 2-4-1 flyer, I liked the concept and hesitating because of parking on or around Las Olas could be a hassle when we got there it wasn’t a problem. They had a pay parking lot behind them that was almost fill but being lunchtime we were surprised that we got a spot right away.

The total check minus the lower entree plus tax came to $26.45 and we left a $8 tip.
The high top tables are roomy while the booths are fairly private as they have high backs and the restaurant itself is has a variety of lighting adding interest to the room.

Would/will we go back? Maybe when they come out with the new menu hopefully with some new interesting items and giving some zip to the balls—and, yes, having the 2-4-1 flyer so the lunch prices are reasonable. Oh yes, the menu is a place mat which is taken after you give your order. They should rethink that.

Posted December 28, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“The Imitation Game” is that rarity, an almost perfect film. The technical and scientific aspect will be satisfying to nerds and not so detailed to go over the heads of the rest of the audience. The acting is natural, believable and gets you involved with the lives of all the individual. Though it covers many serious subjects there are quite a few laugh out loud lines and scenes spring from the natural aspects of the characters.

For those who never heard of Alan Turing he was an English mathematical genius who broke the German Enigma code and is said to be responsible for WW2 ending 2-4 years earlier than it would have. He also was arrested for being a homosexual in 1951 and was given the choice of prison or chemical castration. He was to eventually commit suicide though his mother contends that it was an accident.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing shows the man’s brilliance while at the same time shows that he wasn’t comfortable around people and offering all around him humor by his lack of social understanding. Keira Knightley as Joan Clarke the only female member of the group who worked on the Enigma code and accepts Turing proposal of marriage. Each member of the group are comfortable in their roles with Matthew Goode, described as a ‘cad’, a standout. Charles Dance, Mark Strong, Allen Leech, Rory Kinnear, Mattew Beard and Alex Lawther as the young Turing, all add to the strength of the film.

The screenplay by Graham Moore is sharp, the direction by Morten Tyldum moves things smoothly along and handles the alternating between the three different time periods without any confusion.

Right now Cumberbatch is the front runner for the Best Actor Oscar, deservingly so, and the movie is on many 10 best lists. Though I feel what makes it from being a perfect movie is how he was brought down in his life, his homosexuality, is sort of slighted from how/why he was caught and the society that made it a crime at that time.

“The Imitation Game, is a must see movie for anyone who likes an intelligent, emotionally moving finely acted film.

Posted December 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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It’s all over! Well until next year! For some people it isn’t over until Monday January 5 when they take the tree down but for all practical purposes Christmas is done. It would be nice if the feelings lasted and were shared all year but that isn’t the way it works. The attitude of the salesperson who will handle the gift you brought back to exchange will be completely different then when she sold it!

For those who save the wrapping paper and ribbons it is time to fold them, roll them and put them away. All the pots, pans and dishes you use for only this time of the year go back into storage. Today you have to think about that person who sent you a gift that you didn’t get one and then there are the Christmas cards and the lists taking off those who didn’t send you one this year and adding the new ones who did.

It’s time to start cleaning up the mess every holiday brings plus what you neglected the past two weeks because you were too busy to get to them. You certainly have to clean and straighten out the freezer plus the refrigerator unless you have a male teenager at home and then you have nothing left to store.

And, yes, you have to write those thank you cards though nobody but you still do that. Along with everything else you have to undo all the spoiling the grandparents did regarding your kids or if you are the grandparents you have to rest up from all the energy you expanded trying to keep up with the grandkids.

Also there are all those after Christmas sales that you planned on to buy the few things you want/need that you knew you wouldn’t or didn’t get but do you really want to fight the almost bigger mobs going to the malls, the stores for the few things they wanted or wanted to return?

With all that you are so glad you are old because you know you don’t have to bother with New Year’s Eve! It’s for the young kids, the young couples, the ones who won’t fall asleep before the Ball on television will drop to start 2015. When did you stop celebrating New Year’s Eve? When did you first utter that you didn’t want to go out with all the drunks that would be driving? When did you decide that staying at home on December 31st was better than fighting the restaurants and bars that would be crowded and noisy?

You look around and for a few minutes the house/apartment is quiet and it is as if the whole world is recovering from Christmas, Hanukkah and though Kwanzaa starts today it really hasn’t become that entrenched in American tradition to become a ’headache’ like the other holidays do.

For some reason you will find yourself smiling for no reason–just because it is ’that time of the year’–and you sigh thinking how fast time is going and wonder how soon the stores will start with their ’Christmas is coming’ ads, displays and Christmas music will be blaring out of speakers wherever you go and then there is that smile again. You really can’t wait!

Posted December 26, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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On December 25, 2002, I went to see the movie musical “Chicago” and during the two weeks after that I went back to see it 4 times. On December 25, 2006, I went to see the movie musical “Dreamgirls”, fell in love with Jennifer Hudson and the movie, went back to see it 6 times and bought the DVD. In 2009, on December 25, I went to see the movie musical “Nine” and have never seen it again. In 2012, December 25, I went to the opening of the movie musical “Les Miserables” and returned to see it 4-5 times and watched it on HBO a couple of times. Today I went to the opening of the movie musical “Into The Woods” and won’t be seeing it again.

I came to the movie with some prejudices including not being a fan of Meryl Streep which I know is sacrilegious to the world of acting but I always seem to feel and I can see, she is ‘acting’. She does sing her numbers well but her last big number just lays there.

My other prejudice is that though I love and think Stephen Sondheim’s music and lyrics are genius I don’t feel that most of the shows his music has been in are worthy of his songs. In most cases the books, including this one, by James Lapine, have not been up to the task.

For those who don’t know about the movie it is old, known fairy tales most without the happy ending we know. There is the baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt), Jack and his magic beans (Daniel Huttlestone), his mother (Tracy Ullman), Cinderella (Ann Anna Kendrick), her stepmother (Christine Baranski) the two stepsisters (Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch) her Prince Charming (Chris Pine) and his brother (Billy Magnussen). There is Red Riding (Lilla Crawford), the big bad wolf (Johnny Depp), Rapunzel (MacKenzie) and a Lady Giant (Frances de la Tour).

Depp’s appearance is a cameo and sort of salacious. Ullman is spot on and should have given more to do while Emily Blount, James Corden are standouts and Chris Pine gets the funniest line in the movie which I let you discover for yourself.

The production values are all first rate and Rob Marshall direction isn’t as frantic as it has been in previous movies. Those familiar with the stage version will walk out humming a couple of the songs while those new to the score will know the title tune by the time they walk out.

I don’t feel it is a film for kids because of the change in the paths of the fairy tales and I only can recommend it to adults familiar with the stage version and/or Stephen Sondheim fans such as me.

Posted December 25, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL   Leave a comment

It’s all been said, the gifts are unwrapped with the wrapping paper and ribbons all over. Christmas dinner/supper has been served and the dishes, pots and pans are ready to be washed and dry.

You went to a theatre to see a movie or you are watching one at home, the latter probably a Christmas movie. You are full, content and have a smile on your face.

For those who believe in Santa like I do, and were a good boy all year like I was, had that mysterious visit at midnight and we aren’t talking about it to those who are ‘adults’ and don’t believe anymore. They don’t know what they are missing!

For those who are, or were, alone just be grateful that you woke up this morning and you can start now to see that you aren’t alone next December. There are people who want to share that day with you and only you can make it possible.

To all my friends past and present, to those I have met on the Internet and have developed a friendship with to those I don’t know yet but will meet, to all those I have ‘lost’, to all I want you to know I am thinking of you and wish you a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas and a Happy Kwanzaa and to others a happy day!

Posted December 25, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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CHRISTMAS IN FLORIDA   Leave a comment

December 25, 1982, was the worse Christmas I ever had and it has basically affected every Christmas I have had since then with just seeing houses, apartments, malls, streets, parks and Santa in his multitude of settings that got the feeling of the holiday back to me. My beloved Flo died that day and I still feel the pain I felt that day. Flo was my aunt by definition but more of a mother than my own. She showed me what unconditional love was, she made me feel like the most precious human being. Oh she could give me a scathing lecture when she thought I was doing something wrong and call me all sorts of names but don’t you dare to try the same or she would turn on you so quick you wouldn’t know what happened. Bill and I would soon be separating but I will always be grateful for his being there.

As I look over my diaries the past 35 years it seems until I retired I worked on Christmas Day and since I retired I spend the day at the movies.

December 25, 1992 Worked from 10 AM to 10 PM December 25, 2002 Retired Went to see “Catch Me If You Can” with Ray (a doctor friend of mine who died the following year) December 25, 2012 Went to see “Les Miz” by myself.

Here and there Christmas Day varied like in 2011 spent the afternoon on the Breezeway with John B., Poochie (now deceased), Larry, Linda (now deceased) Roosevelt, Jim, Dot (now deceased) having pizza and sodas. There was the year (1999) I spent in the hospital with congestive heart failure but for 23 years it was working long hours–I would usually take an extra shift so someone could spend the day with their family–and the last 12 years going to the movies.

Either Christmas Eve or Day I would make a turkey with all the trimmings and fix plates for the security guard on duty and a few people I knew who didn’t have anyone and so they stayed locked in their apartment waiting for the holidays to pass.

Something I don’t talk about is that we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah the third Tuesday of December. Who are ‘we’? We are the ‘Buddy’ volunteers who work all year round with teenagers who are HIV+ and/or have AIDS and have been kicked out of their home. There are about a dozen volunteers and a dozen kids and the kids decide what kind of food they want (pizza usually wins) and we will go to an Italian restaurant and have a day filled with fun and laughter but NO food fights! LOL

One thing I do know is that every Christmas Santa will visit me and that’s the bottom line!

Posted December 24, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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The only family events I remember as a child was the Sundays we spent going to my mother’s parents who lived on the lower east side of Manhattan. They were poor and worked hard to support and feed their 7 children. I don’t remember if it was a certain Sunday of the month but all sisters and brothers would bring their spouses and children to my grandparents who lived in a 6 flight walkup in what was referred to as ‘railroad’ apartment with each room laid out one after the other all leading to the large living room where we all sat around a large table and ate. After we were finished grandma took all the kids down to what was referred to as the ‘lower’ east side, Orchid street, where we would get a chance to pick out a huge sour pickle from barrel. I don’t remember celebrating holidays except Passover. I do remember the 5 sisters, who were very competitive, always would have shouting matches ending with everyone leaving mad.

The only time I had a traditional Christmas dinner was when I lived in Memphis and my lover, at that time, took me up to Covington where his folks, grandparents, cousins, nephews, etc. would gather with all the adults pitching in to make the humongous meal. My job became ‘the Yankee who picked the greens’ from the garden in back for the soups. For some reason everyone got a big laugh out of that happening. It was great–I loved the dressing his grandmother made and every year, after she found out that I liked it, made a separate pan just for me.

Though I would give many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners over the years, usually having open house, I finally stopped when I made the decision to live alone but I never forgot those Covington, Tennessee, Thanksgivings. There was such a feeling of family that the warmth just wrapped around you. Even when we broke up I was always invited and I remember those days over 38 years ago as if they were yesterday.

Posted December 23, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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CHRISTMAS IN NEW YORK PART 2   Leave a comment

Herb and I did all the New York things
that tourists do. We walked down 5th Avenue stopping to look at Tiffany’s windows and then went to see the Saks-5th Avenue, Lord and Taylor’s windows eventually walking down to Macy’s just looking in the windows. (57th Street to 34th Street? OMG! 23 blocks there and 23 blocks back. No way could I do that today!)

Over the next few days we walked to Times Square where I showed him the Lyric movie theatre I had worked as a teenager and then to Greenwich Village my showing him where I use to spend my time in the baths, the bars of which many were not that anymore, the restaurants I worked in and the ones I loved to eat in. We stopped at The Stage Deli and he couldn’t believe the size of the ‘Hymie’s Special’ sandwich. One night we ate in my favorite restaurant in the world Marchi’s. We took a Circle boat tour around Manhattan that I had never done before and it was magic.

Christmas Eve we went to St. Patrick’s cathedral for midnight mass and I told him about doing the same as a teenager and how taken I was by the pageantry and choir and the ‘theatrics’ of the mass. I told him about Cardinal Spellman who had been a powerful political figure and was known to cruise Rockefeller Center downstairs bathroom. I think it was the next day that we went to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Show with the Rockettes. I know we went to see a Broadway show but for the life of me I don’t remember which one.

And then the magic started–the snow came. It wasn’t a blizzard but enough to make the city romantic. We took a carriage ride in Central Park and we walked up Central Park West and I showed him where I had lived on 75th Street. We even walked arm in arm and though the ‘gay revolution’ had taken place that still wasn’t a smart, safe thing to do but we both felt invisible.

Of all we did the most magical part is something you have seen in movie after movie but we did it. We ice skated in the Rockefeller rink, my falling on my butt a few times and we had a hot chocolate and walked around looking at the lights and decorations.

I can see us walking up the path between the rink and 5th Avenue enjoying the snow and each other. I can see him dressed in his Christmas sweater that he bought at Macy’s and his black trousers and jacket–I can see it all this 40 years later but I don’t remember his name. I wasn’t taking pictures back then but I have a feeling I do have a picture from that time and I am going to search for it. I might be lucky and see that I had put his name on the back of the photo.

Did he leave New York first or did I? Was that when I had to get back to Memphis because Bernie was up to something? I don’t remember nor do I remember when we left and went on our own way never to see each other or talk to each other again.
I hope he has/had a good life.

If you haven’t done it put ‘visit New York City the last two weeks of the year’ on your bucket list. With or without snow it is a must see/must do beautiful and, yes, a magical time felt no where else.

Posted December 22, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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