Archive for December 2016



Any year that I celebrate a Leap Year birthday is a better than average year and 2016, with a few ‘minor’ happenings was just that so here are some of the ‘highlights’ and  a few mishaps.

January: Spent most of the month getting ready for my Leap Year dinner party. I ordered M & Ms and pens with my name and the date as mementos for my guests. I ordered a cake with 2 layers of chocolate and 1 of carrot cake. I also got the guest list and invitations ready.

February: It was all about Leap Year. It was also the first time I used uber courtesy of Glenn, Mary and Pat.

March: On March 17th, leaving the Chef’s Palate restaurant, my finger got caught in Allen’s car window—still waiting for the insurance company to approve prosthetic 1/3rd of right ring finger.

April: On the first the hand surgeon removed the ‘dead’ part of the finger. Allen went to France and I had his car.

May: I joined the 21st century and got a cell phone so I could use the uber app—have only used it three times so far. On the 25th I got bought a new recliner, from one of my neighbors, which I spend a major part of my time in when I am home. On the 26th Allen got a new red Cadillac.

June: On the 4th Philippe, who was in from France, took us to the 15th Street Fisherman’s restaurant to celebrate his birthday. On the 11th I took Allen to the Bistro Mezzaluna restaurant for his birthday, a new, excellent, one of the best restaurants we went to in 2016. On the 15th Anthony and I went to see the “Beauty and The Beast” touring company at the Broward Performing Arts center. I had Allen’s car as he was visiting his daughter and grandkids up north.

July: 2nd I fell on my life knee—didn’t break it but was sore, swollen and hurt for a long time. On the 5th I finally finished the 2 collages I made using my Leap Year birthday mementos. On the 25th for the first time I could ever remember I got sick eating, from pizza at the Pizza Fusion restaurant.

August: On the 3rd we went to the Cabo Blanco restaurant for the first time and one of the best finds ever! I am still working my way through their 32 lunch specials! N the 15th  Allen went to London and I had his car for a month.

September: On the 15th I changed my cell phone for a new one at Metro Pc and on the 22nd got new glasses which by the way is right next door to Cabo Blanco!

October: On the 4th I had my finger ‘molded’ for the prosthetic after the swelling finally went down and am still waiting for insurance approval. On the 6th Hurricane threatened but missed Fort Lauderdale and we made it through the 12th year without being hit by one. On the 29th Allen traded in his Caddie for a Chevrolet, a big improvement!

November: On the 2nd I got my second annual crew cut. On the 5th the wonderful Charlie Cinnamon died and on the 8th Trump won the presidential election. On the 22ndAllen went to California for 10 days and I got the new car!

December:  A lot of holiday going on plus decided to return to my previous primary doctor and got that in motion. I made 7 phone calls to various companies and people spending 3 hours on the phone regarding my prosthetic finger without getting anything resolved. Philippe visited from France. On the 23rd I fell on the steps of the movie house we went to in Pompano and I still haven’t learned to slow down and watch where I am going and doing! I landed on my side and only got a black and blue mark on my upper thigh. On the 27th we went to see “An American In Paris”, the touring company of the Broadway adaptation of the movie musical and the lead, Garen Scribner, was a spellbinding dancer and entertainer!

This is only a few things that happened in 2016 and I will be writing about the over 60 movies, 20 shows and 48 restaurants we went to and, oh, yes, a final salute to February 29, 2016, before I start getting ready for 2020!

(I ‘forgot’ this one–happened in movie theatre Dec 23–it got more black and blue each day for a week! Let’s see you forget this one!)

My 2016 in pictures


Posted December 31, 2016 by greatmartin in LIFE, Uncategorized

“LA LA LAND” A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

I LOVE jazz, love stores and Hollywood musical movies so why is my reaction to “La La Land”, which right now seems to be the one to beat for the Best Movie Oscar and Golden Globe, so blah? Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have chemistry as the lovers from the boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy loses girl in the acting department but are sorely lacking in the singing and dancing department though Gosling acquits himself in piano playing.

Everything you read, including comments by the director and screenwriter Damien Chazelle, has remarks about it being a salute to old Hollywood movies and to Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse, Judy Garland but,with no disrespect, unless this was a take-off of all mentioned, and even if Charisse’s voice was dubbed, “La La Land” fails miserably. 

I have seen some talk about it saluting Jacques Demy and Michel Legrand’smovies “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and “The young Girls of Rochefort” which it does in some departments such as the production design by David Wasco and the costume designs by Mary Zophres

Regarding the choreography by Mandy Moore the opening is really a winner but in other scenes she is let down by Stone and Gosling who just don’t have it when it comes to doing the steps she has for them. There is one scene where they are dancing in the stars, at the Griffith Observatory planetarium after watching the James Dean movie “Rebel Without a Cause”, that is more special effects than dancing.

The music by Justin Hurwitz with lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul sort of get lost except for the jazz music which comes across strong, melodic. The love theme lyrics are still somewhat a mystery to me though it is sung and played a few times.

The climax lasting about twenty minutes, a recap of what has taken place for the first 100 minutes, jell everything together but, for me, it was too late.I think I would have been much happier and appreciated the movie, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone just seeing that section.

J.K. Simmons, who was in Chazells’s “Whiplash” and won an Oscar for his role does a brief cameo here while John Legend does an extended one, neither adding or taking away from the movie.

The bottom line is that “La La Land”, for me, was not worth the time though I am sure I am in a very small minority. It might have helped if I hadn’t seen the Broadway version of “An American In Paris” in Miami this past Tuesday where the leads were amazing dancers and strong singers.

P.S. When will the fad of young actors wearing that 5 o’clock shadow stubble on their faces end? ARGH!!


Posted December 30, 2016 by greatmartin in MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized





Posted December 29, 2016 by greatmartin in FORT LAUDERDALE, Uncategorized, WEATHER


There were times last night that the stage of the Ziff  Ballet Opera House in the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami didn’t seem it could contain the artistry, the talent, the love of dance that Garen Scribner brought to his role as Jerry  in “An American In Paris”. Whether dancing solo or doing a pas de deux with Sara Esty or dancing with the ensemble of 19, or the whole cast, his body takes amazing twists and turns and extensions that no body should be able to do. For a certain generation in the audience he even makes them forget the originator of the role in the Hollywood movie that the Broadway musical is based on.

“An American in Paris” is a story of 3 men in love with the same girl. Jerry (Scribner) and Adam (Etai Benson) are American soldiers who decided to stay in Paris at the end of World War 2 and Henri (Nick Spangler) is a Frenchman who is expected to lead a certain life already mapped out by his parents but who dreams of singing and dancing in New York at the Radio City Music Hall and the men are in love with Lise (Esty), a lithe ballerina wanna-be.

Add to this the memorable music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, an unending change of costumes and constantly moving set and projections by Bob Crowley all under the direction of, and choreography by, Christopher Wheeldon and you are spending an enchanting evening in the theatre. One has to add a special acknowledgement to the Music Director/Conductor David Andrews Rogers and his 14 piece orchestra who back the cast superbly!

Whether it is tapping your feet to “I Got Rythm” or getting hit with the razzle dazzle of “I’ll Build A Stairway To Paradise” or laughing at Jerry singing and dancing to win Lise in “I’ve Got Beginner’s Luck” not to forget such standards as “The Man I Love”, “But Not For Me” or throwing in the mind and body bending by the whole cast in “Fidgety Feet” the music is always there to make the show feel ” ‘S Wonderful”.

To top it all off there is the show’s title ballet number that pairs Scribner and Esty is that pas de deux where they compliment, mirror, meld into each other becoming one beautiful moving defintion of what dance can show.

The whole cast, especially the leads, are triple threats not only with strong dancing, good acting but also singing with Sara Esty and Etai Benson being standouts, the latter being so good singing “But Not For Me”, and in the number with Nick Spangler, that I wish he had a couple of solos. Don Noble and Gayton Scott as Henri’s parents and Emily Ferranti as a diletante of the arts not only sings, dances and acts with aplomb but nails all her comedic lines along with showing the vulnerability of her character.

The bottom line is that there are many excellent reasons for seeing this touring production of “An American In Paris” you will not see a better dancer and entertainer than Garen Scribner and the memory of seeing him will have you singing “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” the last song you will hear as you leave the theatre.

Running time: 2 hours and 40 minutes including a 25 minute intermission

“An American In Paris” will be running through New Year’s Day–be sure to go to to see when it is coming to your city.

Coming next to the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami “Beautiful” February 14-19

(Garen Scribner & Sara Esty–photo by Matthew Murphy)

“FENCES” A ‘MUST SEE’ MOVIE   Leave a comment

Viola Davis as Rose, in “Fences”, makes you afraid to breathe because you don’t want to miss a word, an emotion, she says, and shows on her face, but there are two particular scenes that are among the most mesmerizing ever seen on screen. Denzel Washington, as Troy, her husband, equals her performance but, unfortunately, never stops talking!

The Pulitzer Prize winning play written by August Wilson, who also wrote the screenplay, uses words like poetry but it is almost as if he didn’t want to cut a word of his for the screen and Washington, who also directed, gave him his lead as did producer Tony Kushner, also a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright. Plays are naturally ‘wordy’ and films are a different medium so while they may work on stage it doesn’t always work on film.

The director opens the film with some street scenes, a bar, following the garbage truck Troy works on, in a church but most takes place within the home and in the backyard of Rose and Troy’s home. Washington makes a few editing mistakes but he gets first rate performances of all his actors including himself.

Stephen Henderson, as Bono, Troy’s longtime friend knows the man and mostly accepts him for who he is while Russell Hornsby, as Troy’s son from another marriage, does not see himself as a failed musician but in his thirties still comes along on Fridays, his dad’s payday to borrow a few dollars. There is also Troy’s older brother who has a metal plate in his head and is brain damaged, due from his fighting in WW 2, played by Mykelti Williamson, is almost a cliché on screen while would be more believable on stage. In the latter part of the film young actress Saniyya Sidney shows Washington directs children to be as children are, not an older actress playing a child.

One of the main conflicts is between Troy and his high school football player son Cory, played by Jovan Adepo, with the father being particularly hard on his son. Is it for the son’s own good or is that just the way the man is?

Troy is not a particular nice person, though at times he can show a sense of humor, he can be, and usually is, hurtful to all around him. We try to like him mainly because we have come to love Rose and want to understand why she not only married this man but stayed with him for the next 18 years. Davis has a scene where she tries to explain to her son exactly that but we have listened to Troy talk way too much negatively, especially to his son, to all those around him to completely accept what she is saying. In addition Troy betrays Rose which would destroy a weaker woman than her.

“Fences” is a ‘must see’ movie if no other reason than to see Viola Davis but Denzel Washington and the rest of the cast are fine too. There is also the plus hearing August Wilson’s words on screen, with the promise of the other 9 plays he has written regarding different decades of Black Americans lives, being brought to the screen, all combine to get you in the movie theatre.



THIS SAYS IT ALL   Leave a comment

Posted December 25, 2016 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

SIGNS OF THE HOLIDAY   Leave a comment


1st Picture My Christmas tree/Hanukkah bush–bought this Norfolk Pine 3 years ago when it was about 2 inches tall

2-12 have made 5 separate plants from the mother plant–these are pictures from bud to bloom the first 3 weeks of December—They haven’t failed blooming the past years plus always the week on my birthday whether there is a February 29th or not!

13-15 The children’s chorus, the Christmas bush and lights at the Broward Performing Arts center

16-18 From my dining room lights seeing the boat lights

19 Always Christmas to me–in 1988 working at the Holiday Inn in Fort Lauderdale

Posted December 24, 2016 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, LIFE EVENTS, Uncategorized


“Passengers” is a perfect example of star power plus chemistry between the two leads making a so-so movie much better. Yes the CGI effects are, at points, amazing and/or amusing–anyone for an android bartender?– but the basic story of ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl’–do I really have to add the third part?–is as old as the movies are but Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt give the film that extra something that makes the story almost seem new. They bring something to “Passengers” that sort of makes up the lack of chemistry between Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard that almost made “Allied” impossible to look at!

The story avoids many moral issues brought up by the basis of the relationship between the two stars but one sort of forgets that aspect watching Lawrence and Pratt on a 120 year trip to a new world where 5,000 passengers, plus a crew of over 200, are put in hibernation for the trip with plans to wake them up 4 months before they reach Homestead II. In a case of malfunction Pratt wakes up 90 years ahead of schedule and due to a lie Lawrence wakes up a year later soon to be followed by a crew member, played Lawrence Fishburne, by another malfunction.

Though familiar, establishing the romance between the working class mechanical engineer and the Gold Class passenger, which seems to get her a better choice of foods and coffee selection, is delightful as they romp around the space ship Avalon with all the luxuries. I doubt any other woman in space will have the hair, makeup and various outfits as given to Lawrence. There are three scenes in the infinity pool that range from fun to horror to a romantic spot. When the android bartender, played by Martin Sheen, accidentally gives away a betrayal taken place, the chemistry and heat goes up a couple of notches between Jim (Pratt) and Aurora (Lawrence) in their anger and disappointment in each other.

While “Passengers” may seem like a run of the mill sci-fi and/or love story picture Lawrence, Pratt and many interesting special effects holds more interest then a usual space film does. Could you wait 50 years for a reply for help? Time is also played with in the film.

Fishburne’s role is small but effective and necessary, Sheen provides a few laughs and, surprisingly, so do the robotic vacuum cleaners, plus Andy Garcia is listed in the credits but I don’t recall seeing him in the film.

Morten Tyldum, the director, and screen writer Jon Spaihts, offer the sci-fi aspects a lot better than the romantic angles but in the more than capable hands of Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt the latter part offers all a romance, the good and bad, should. Tyldum and Spaihts could have added a third dimension to the movie by getting into suspending life for 120 years and some of the ethical discussions that are brought up.

Though not a ‘must see’ film those who are fans of Jennifer Lawrence or are not familiar with Chris Pratt plus the production design of the space ship Avalon by Guy Hendrix Dyass are reasons enough to see “Passengers”.

 Movie trailer



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 as 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 22, 2016 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized


 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 anddrinkinginside 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 totheNew 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 21, 2016 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, Uncategorized

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