Archive for December 2018

DEnny’s–IHOP–Sweet Tomatoes–JMarks   1 comment

Inline imagerestaurants 4 December 2018
For the last 10 years before going to the Adrienne Arsht Center we would usually get a bite to eat at the Quarterdeck or Lester’s until this year. In  May when we went to see the touring company of “Chicago” instead of 40-50 minutes it took us 1 hour and 30 minutes. In November when we went to see “Hello Dolly” we decided to go down to Miami first and then eat. The two restaurants connected with the theatre are outrageously expensive  and where we get off at 36th Avenue there are a group of restaurants and we decided to go to Denny’s but that didn’t work out as there was construction  at the exit from the  off-ramp so we ended up getting a bag of candy for $10!!
On Wednesday December 26 we had tickets for the stage version of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” and decided to leave  3 hours before curtain time giving us 2 hours to get to downtown Miami, have a quick bite at Denny’s and make the curtain with some time to spare.
Any time you go on I-95 between 4-7 PM you are getting into bumper to bumper traffic. and I really can understand the stress commuters have. Both train systems aren’t good because their schedules don’t allow for coming back.
We left my place at 5 PM and got down to Denny’s around 6:45.  I worked at Denny’s on 17th & Federal and before that when it was called Wag’s. Denny’s has always had a bad reputation for service and it being very slow–of course, not when I was working there!
From what I can tell this particular Denny’s does more take-out and delivery than in-store dining. They own a really huge piece of property on 36th and Brickell with a parking lot twice as big as the restaurant so I am inclined to think, like most of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, it may soon become another hi-rise.
In any case they had 3 servers on the floor and we were the 4th party to come in. We had no problem with service and though it is not gourmet dining Allen had the double cheeseburger and I had the Philly prime rib. Both were tasty but—sorry, I can’t get used to this–just for the 2 sandwiches (we had water to drink) with tax, the check came to $22.35 plus a $5 tip. Our next show there, which is February 5, “Les Miserables” we are thinking of leaving 2 in the afternoon, go  via Miami Beach, have a snack there, if we have time go to the museum, and then, if the road work is done on the McCarthur Causeway we will get to the theatre with plenty of time.

IHOP–at Federal and Sunrise–went there Saturday for a light lunch –usually I have their cheese omelet with hash browns but this time, since I started my New Year’s resolution early, I had a plain turkey sandwich of rye —no bacon, cheese or mayo–with tomato and onion, a side of fresh fruit and black coffee. (When dieting I use mustard instead of mayo.) My friend had a chicken and avocado salad. Service was good though there was only 1 waiter on the floor and he was also the busboy and he had 6 parties to wait on, I got what I wanted, my friend picked up the check and I left a $5 tip.

Sweet Tomatoes–I posted about this place before–I love it for their 8 different soups,  pastas and breads. Anytime I/we go to the Regal Theatre we either go there, to the diner in the same center of to Cabo Blanco less than a mile away.. All have good discount coupons on either their websites or on

JMarks–went there Thursday December 27 after Dollar Tree and before Winn-Dixie–they are still running their $13.99 coupon special of a NY Strip, Chicken Parm or Salmon. John, the server, was excellent with a good sense of humor,. Allen had the Salmon and raved about it. I usually have the steak but this time I had the Parm which was a mistake. The breading fell off the Parm each time I cut it and the  sauce on the pasta was almost glue-like. Back to the steak the next time. Without the coupon I find the prices almost doubled and certainly not worth it but with the coupon it certainly is a good deal.

Oh yes, I didn’t have the carrot cake for dessert which is excellent because for the holidays someone bought me a 5 pound carrot cake! (What resolutions?!?!!?)

Posted December 31, 2018 by greatmartin in FOOD, RESTAURANT REVIEWS, Uncategorized

December?????????   1 comment

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If I didn’t know better I would think we were ‘Down Under’—come on, it is winter here summer there but today we are having a high temperature of 83 degrees, sunny, a beach day.

Yep, no climate change going on in the world–just here!!

Posted December 29, 2018 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE, WEATHER

“Mary Poppins Returns”–movie review   1 comment

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A bad sign watching a movie is thinking mostly negative thoughts and after an hour I was thinking: 1) This really isn’t a movie for kids as it is too dark and somber  2) This really isn’t a movie for adults as it doesn’t capture what made the first film memorable 3) Emily Blunt has talent but she isn’t a Julie Andrews or a Mary Poppins  4) Emily Mortimer has that certain smile and would make a better Mary Poppins 5) Will this film get any better? and 6) The songs are pretty lame.
There was one positive thought and that was Lin-Manual Miranda was continuing his place on the top of the hill after “In The Heights”, “Hamilton”, his score for “Moana”, being honored on The Kennedy Center Honors this week, plus winning an Emmy Award, A Tony Award, Grammy Awards, the Pulitzer Prize, about to reprise his role as Hamilton opening the show in Puerto Rico and now doing a good job as Jack, the man who lights and shuts off the street lamps in the streets of London during  the Great Slump of the 1930s. Up to the hour and a half point–no pun intended–he is the only bright light.
Julie Walker, as the housekeeper, is almost an afterthought while Colin Firth should have been given a mustache to twirl as the villain to do something with the role. As the Banks children Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson they are given little more than they are expected to while Emily Mortimer, as their aunt, lights up the screen here and there and Ben Whishaw, as their father, really is wooden up to and in the last half hour of the film when he really comes through in a moving scene. Oh, yes, the less said about Meryl Streep, her song and her time on the screen the better.
The last half hour in no way makes up for the first 90-95 minutes but the screen does come alive with a song and dance by 93 year-old Dick Van Dyke up on a desk, with movie magic or not, reprising “Tripping The Light Fantastic” done earlier in the film by Miranda, along with 93 year-old Angela Lansbury as the Balloon Lady singing one of the better songs from the movie, “Nowhere To Go but Up” starting a full cast number.
Lin-Manuel Miranda always talks about watching the old song and dance movies and in “Mary Poppins Returns” he has two numbers, the first being “Tripping The Light Fantastic” and the second, “Race To Big Ben”, that fulfill any dreams he might have had and brings back the magic of “Mary Poppins”.
“Mary Poppins Returns” offers 30 minutes of entertainment in a film that is 130 minutes long and can probably watch Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke and Angela Lansbury in their show shopping numbers on youtube!

Movie trailer

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”–theatre review   Leave a comment

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Last week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts we saw “Hamilton”, a musical for the 21st century, and this week we saw “White Christmas”, a musical that represents all that made theatre-going so much fun in the 20th century, at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Center in Miami.
Based on a 1954 movie musical it was adapted for the stage in 2000 with the book by David Ives and Paul Blake that makes all that was corny in the film fun on the stage. There is the ‘Let’s put on a show in the barn’ gimmick along with a misunderstanding between one of the lead couples not to mention jokes like, “We fight. We don’t have sex. It’s like we are married!”, which still gets laughs.
It has the music of Irving Berlin, 18 songs that have become classics, including the title tune which is the biggest selling record of all time. Just as important is that it has a cast that is looking as if they are having as much fun as the audience.
Listen to Kerry Conte sing a sultry “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” while Sean Montgomery counterpoints with “How Deep Is The Ocean”. Try not to tap your toes while Jeremy Benton and Kelly Sheehan dance and sing, along with the chorus, “I Love A Piano” and, if you are old enough, try to not think of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly as they dance to the choreography of Randy Skinner.
Can you decide who does “Sisters” better first sung by Kelly Sheehan and Kerry Conte or the version by Sean Montgomery and Jeremy Benton subbing for them?
When the audience is invited to a sing-a-long of “White Christmas” you can tell they have been doing it under their breath because they just let it out with a sigh. When Karen Ziemba sings “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy”, those who know her, you are just waiting for her to break out dancing. More than one person had a tear in their eye during “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”.
The final curtain call number “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm”, with costume, scenic and lighting designs in harmony along with the cast, and ‘snow’ falling on stage and in the auditorium puts everyone in that Christmas card we all want to be a part of every Christmas.
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” is a gift to us all and not too late to give it to others. Get lost in a musical from yesteryear, laugh at the old jokes, sit back and watch the cast of 27 along with the 16 musicians and imagine yourself on the stage and when you get outside waiting for your car smile as a group of theatergoers start singing “White Christmas” and others join them.
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” runs 2 hours plus a 15 minute intermission.

“Mary Queen of Scots”–movie review   2 comments

In 1933 in a play by Maxwell Anderson called “Mary of Scotland” he was first to imagine a meeting between Queen Elizabeth of England and Queen Mary that never took place. Three years later it was made into a movie starring Katherine Hepburn as Mary and Florence Eldridge as Elizabeth. In 1936 Bette Davis got an Oscar nomination playing Elizabeth in “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex” and that is the Elizabeth I remember 82 years later. She would do the role again in “The Virgin Queen” 1955 and Mary is only mentioned in passing. Through the years, on television, theatre and other movies both Mary and Elizabeth have been portrayed by other actresses but these I have mentioned immediately came to mind hearing this movie was opening up this week.
As fine a job as Saoirse Ronan does playing the lead in this 2018 movie, which probably will get her a fourth nomination, she is sabatoged by the dark, slow pace getting to the major scene. Her acting partner, Margot Robbie as Elizabeth, is not written as powerful a woman as Mary which unbalences the whole movie.
Beau Willimon wrote the screenplay, basing it on the book “Queen of Scots: The True LIfe of Mary Stuart” by John Guy and one doesn’t know which is fact or fiction or ‘Hollywood’s based on a true story’ or who invented the sex lives of some of the characters.
The movie is the screen debut of London’s Donmar Warehouse theatre companies artistic director Josie Rourke which may or may not explain the darkness and drab setting of most of the movie. Also, whether it is me or the accents or the soundtrack I had a hard time understanding at least half of the spoken language.
There are many actors as supporting players in roles supporting both queens in both good and evil ways. A standout is James McArdle as Mary’s brother, Simael Cruz Cordova as a gay man who whose a close confident of Mary, Jack Lowden as her gay husband, Joe Alwyn as Elizabeth’s lover and David Tennent as John Knox, a Scottish minister.
The only reason to see “Mary Queen of Scots” is for the performance of Saoirse Ronan but if you ever want to see the definite performance of Elizabeth look up that 1936 Bette Davis movie!


Movie trailer

Mary Queen of Scots – Int’l Trailer 1 (Universal Pictures) HD

Mary Queen of Scots – Int’l Trailer 1 (Universal Pictures) HD

Director: Josie Rourke Writer: Beau Willimon Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, Gemma C…

He came!!!   1 comment

The old man in the red suit and the white beard came by last night! From a bottle of Zinfandel in a hand knitted sweater to 8 jars of Penzey’s spices from around the world to a 4 pound carrot cake, not to forget a tin basket filled with Almond Roca, Peppermint Bark, Cupcake cookies, Lindt Milk Chocolates, French Truffles among other goodies, a new camera plus a watch with a snowflake dial, 4 Poinsettia plants with additional ‘goodies’ looks like being a good boy paid off. I may try it for another year!

I was, pleasantly, surprised by how many snail mail cards I got this year as I thought they were a thing of the past but, obviously, some people still hold on to the old traditions which always bring a smile.

I hope he stopped by and said hello to you!

Posted December 25, 2018 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

As I sit here….   1 comment

waiting for Santa I was thinking of this year and realized I didn’t have a negative thing happen to me physically, mentally and/or financially and what can a human being ask for more than that? I did meet some new people, had a lot of improvements made to my apartment and, possibly, met someone ‘special’. Don’t know what Santa is going to bring me but in any case, so far I am a winner.

Hope you can say the same! Merry Christmas to all.

Merry Christmas 2018


Posted December 24, 2018 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

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