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Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Aug. 29
Published: Friday, August 29, 2014
Each week we scour the digital world looking for the hottest gadgets, trending topics, new apps and more! We pass it on to you in easy to read bite-size morsels…after that you are on your own to surf at will!
Hard to Say, Easy To See
Sharp is poised to deliver their new Aquos Crystal Smartphone. Unique edge-to-edge display provides the ultimate visual experience that techies have been yearning for. The phone won’t knock the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy from shelves this fall but this phone has a few hidden gems that even the most critical users will find intriguing. Worth a look when it comes to the U.S. on the Sprint network. (Release date to be announced)
Hyperlapse is Hyper Cool!
Who would’ve thought it would take a photo sharing app developer to create the most amazing video creation tool for your smartphone…Instagram has done just that!
Hyperlapse, a stand-alone video app, produces video content so smooth and slick-the final product appears to have been shot with expensive camera equipment. Simple user features and easy to share files on Instagram and Facebook make this app a must have!
Gone to the Dogs
Ever wonder what a dog really sees from that low to the ground? Well wonder no more! GoPro has just “unleashed” the new Fetch Dog Harness specifically designed to attach your GoPro camera to your dog’s back or chest. Made from flexible, washable material, it’s both comfortable for them and awesome for you. Let the games begin!
You Got Schooled
No Tech Round-Up would be complete without a techie’s guide to wearable Back-To-School Gear! From smartwatches to fitness bands this year’s biggest trend will be searching for answers to that pop-quiz or checking your heart rate without the need to pull that pesky smartphone from your backpack. Teachers are writing those memos to parents as we speak.
Electric Car Electrifies
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL
It’s hard not to like any new electric car when you’ve begun a sweet cruise through forested roads on a clear blue day, your gauge reading a healthy, full 99 miles. That’s in the first five minutes. When you see that 99 dip to 98, 93, 88, “range anxiety” kicks in, and therein lies one big reason electric cars haven’t caused a revolution as some thought and hoped they would.
That said, the e-Golf is by far the best version of any electric car I’ve tested. Like a low-fat product that doesn’t veer (too far) taste-wise from the original, the e-Golf resembles the full-fat Golf in most ways. It takes off like a shot, and brakes just as quickly. It corners like it’s angry. It doesn’t feel like a toy.
Arriving at dealers in late November, the e-Golf joins an increasingly crowded field of battery-powered cars for sale in the coming year. It’s a 4-door hatchback whose electric motor makes 115 horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque, and it’s got one and only one gear. It’s got a 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery, 7.2 kW onboard charger and, like all battery-powered whips, you plug in at night, zip off the next day, and repeat. If you want to take a road trip from, say, Patchogue to Woodstock on a Sunday, you’ll have to buy and use a second vehicle that runs on gas, bub.The e-Golf has three power levels, allowing drivers to choose performance and affect its range. In Normal mode, the E-Golf gives the driver a full 85 kilowatts of power. The ‘Eco’ mode reduces peak power to 70 kilowatts and reduces the power consumption of the car’s air conditioning system. In “Eco +,” power is reduced to 55 kW and the air conditioning system turns off. Whatever mode you choose, full power is delivered when you floor the accelerator. Its top blastoff gets you from 0-62 mph in just over 10 seconds, beating the LEAF by a second, not surprising as the e-Golf employs an 85-kW motor compared to the LEAF’s 80-kW motor. The e-Golf’s top speed is governed, preventing you from going over 87 miles per hour.
Electric vehicles continue to improve each year, and the e-Golf currently makes the best case for putting down your Suburban or Armada for a second and joining the clear-air revolution.
The Stakes Are Higher Than Ever In the “Motive” Season Finale
Published: Thursday, August 28, 2014
One of the best shows to come out of Canada reaches its high-stakes season finale this week on ABC. “Motive” is always fairly intense, but the second season closer cranks things up to 12. In this tension-fueled finale someone close to the investigative team is the murder victim and their boss looks like the obvious suspect. Of course, we the viewers are immediately shown that the actual killer is someone else entirely, but that someone threatens to blow up one this year’s mysteries that has been quietly bubbling below the surface. Truth be told, a few things threaten to boil over in this finale and the show just might not be the same again.
Prosecutor Samantha Turner (Laura Mannell) is found murdered in her own bed. Of course, once it is revealed that she and Sergeant Mark Cross (Warren Christie) were involved in a relationship he becomes the prime suspect. Flynn (Kristin Lehman) believes in his innocence while her partner, Vega (Louise Ferreira) isn’t convinced. Flynn’s past with Cross, including the suspicious incident when they were both uniformed officers, along with Flynn’s secretive nature about it all has slowly been eroding the bond between the two Detectives all season and threatens to break their partnership altogether.
We the audience know that Cross is indeed innocent and that it is actually undercover cop Doug Slater (Kenny Johnson), Turner’s star witness in an upcoming trial and Cross and Flynn’s old colleague. Slater was there ten years ago when a domestic violence call went sideways for Flynn and Cross and he helped them cover things up. Being friendly with the investigators helps Slater keep all eyes away from himself and make Cross look guiltier. With strong initial evidence pointing to the defendants in the upcoming trial Cross’s boss, Bloom (Roger Cross) doesn’t immediately bench him and somewhat reluctantly agrees to let him stay in the case.
Things continue to decay, both emotionally and suspect-wise as the investigation continues, especially when a key witness is brutally interrogated by Cross and then later turns up dead. Thankfully Flynn, ever the relentless investigator, is able to piece things together to figure out who the real murderer is, with the able assistance of Vega. Flynn uses her Columbo-esque routine to get Slater to cop to what he’s done and just when it looks like she may become his latest victim, her knight-in-shining-armor partner saves the day.
Everyone manages to make it through the crucible battered and bruised, but still more or less whole. That is until the denouement where it appears that the great partnership of Detective Flynn and Detective Vega may have reached a literal end as Angie Flynn admits she’s reached her metaphorical and emotional end. This scene in particular may be the single greatest scene of all 26 episodes so far. Considering how tremendously well-acted this show is, that is saying something. Ferreira turns in a heartbreaking performance as Vega vainly tries to salvage the crumbling relationship with someone he clearly has more feelings for than even he will admit to. And Lehman powerful portrays Flynn as a person who has been emotionally wrecked by all the events of the past year.
We’ll have to wait until next year to find out if the two characters are able to pick up the pieces and move forward together or if they’ll be professionally separated and personally estranged. The relationship between Flynn and Vega has proven to be one of the most interesting, complex and realistically portrayed male-female relationships in the history of television. It is certainly the centerpiece of “Motive” and never plays to expectations, instead choosing to be intricately layered. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but I can’t wait to find out.
Recognize Pride Needs No Flag
Grace over race
I’m sitting outside on a mini stool in northern Cambodia where my bent knees don’t fit under the table. A three-course meal arrives from the nearby food stall—a hard-boiled egg served as a delicacy with three additional finger bowls presenting spices, limes, and mint. Egg vendor #7, Chantheaea, giggles when she returns with a tiny long-handle spoon. Meanwhile, I watch two guys, Narit and Ponlok, shoot it out on a makeshift outdoor pool table. This jungle-encased village, Cheabb, probably won’t see electricity in the lifetime of these two pool sharks. Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, has just built its first shopping mall with an escalator that has become an instant tourist attraction. I realize later that Chantheaea was chuckling about my inside-out T-shirt. I haven’t passed a mirror in weeks.
I’ve flown 15,000 miles by plane, over-nighted on a bench of a chugging riverboat, spent a day in the dusty cab of a puny Japanese pickup crammed with 10 riders, and then 10 hours on a wobbling motorbike sputtering on rutted, meandering jungle trails. The trail, barely worthy of foot traffic, frequently requires crossing rivers on slimy log bridges. It becomes impassable during the wet season.
My brother Basil and I were repeatedly warned not to venture into this isolated region that’s supposedly rife with landmines and holdups by teams of bandits. However, our reward for forging ahead was a spontaneous night that fused a wedding and a bizarre theater odyssey. The first thing we saw in Cheabb was a mobile PA system announcing what later turned out to be a play. The PA system involved two guys on a motorbike rigged with a large horn on the handlebars connected to an amplifier sitting in the drivers lap. The rear passenger held a mike to a Walkman that made the announcements.
In this off-the-grid destination, the wooden box houses are raised on six-foot stilts. In the shade below, black buffalo, pigs, and chickens reside. The people, mostly rice farmers, steal naps in hammocks slung between stilts under the houses or between the trees. Everyone we pass waves hello. My hunch is that once war-ravaged, perpetually destitute Cambodia had a lighter side, and I wasn’t quitting until we found it. Landmines, civil war, and genocide dominate many associations with Cambodia, but life has returned to a new version of normal, even in Preah Vihear Province, one of the poorest and most isolated.
There’s no way for an outsider to know they’re crossing between the neighboring villages of Cheabb Lech and Cheabb Kart (Cheabb east and west). But that’s where we were invited into the soul of this village with zero tourism. In one magical night, we attended a wedding reception, which later segued into an outdoor theater performance, and then slept on the top cop’s porch.
The wedding highlights included proud toasts ladled from a 35-gallon jug of homemade milky-fermented booze, dancing to insanely loud Cambodian pop, eating bugs, and listening to the best man speech in which he noted that the bride’s premiere hobby was jumping rope. The groom, dressed in a frumpy, oversized suit, couldn’t stop snickering during the should-be solemn slow dances. Our go-to-guy, the only one in town who could speak English, told us about the local pothead, a little girl who wears a red cooking pot as a hat.
After the wedding reception, the group marched across town to join 200 people already seated on the ground before a stage that was amplified by a lone microphone hanging from a wire. The wooden stage set was draped in billowing, silky tarps. The performance, hours and hours of short bits, were punctuated by the manual closing of a dainty pink curtain. A flash photo (Basil’s) started a tizzy that startled the entire audience and made actors modify their act and speak in even higher pitched voices.
Where there are no televisions, traveling troupes are still the stars. Within the crowd, several campfires were maintained to combat the 70-degree winter chill. At one point during the six-hour Khmer epic play, half of the audience suddenly stood up and gasped—a reverse domino effect that didn’t seem like a standing ovation. It wasn’t. A six-foot-long heat-seeking venomous snake had crawled into the audience. Once the snake was hacked in half by someone who happened to have a machete handy, the show resumed. Basil suggested that the snake’s demise might be a metaphor for what happens here when someone threatens married life.
After the marathon performance, we feasted with the wedding gang, but passed on the cow stomach and dried blood patties that resembled black tofu cakes. After waking up on the hospitable police chief’s front porch, we visited several schools, all raised 12x12-foot platforms either under a home or outside covered by tarps. The blackboards were black paint on flat boards and the instructional guides were laminated posters, one for math and one for language. After Basil donated hordes of pens and notebooks to these makeshift schools, he also stepped in as interim teacher, which routinely inspired more laughter than learning.
Despite the forewarnings about landmines and holdups, we ventured to Cheabb where the people, like most Cambodians, exemplify warmth, grace, and pride, which is incredible when considering the unspeakable horrors many of them have endured in their lifetime. In these more prosperous times, some still manage to survive on one dollar and 1,000 calories per day. The Khmer capacity to overcome extreme adversity and still welcome unannounced travelers with smiles and respect is humanity. Being the first foreigners to visit a place where they’ve never seen any is a traveler’s cliché—but when you unearth the last remnants of virgin turf in Southeast Asia, dignity and joy is what you’ll find.
As my brother and I prepared to roll out of Cheabb, we enjoyed a final hard-boiled egg at the food stall. The newly married couple rode past and waved to us and all of the food stall workers. They were honeymoon bound—a visit to the other side of the village—which made the staff cheer wildly. That’s when it dawned on us that the bride was #7, our previous egg vendor, Chantheaea.
*photos: Basil Northam
“Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love” by C. David Heymann
c.2014, Emily Bestler Books $27.00 / $32.50 Canada 438 pages
Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.
That’s apparently, according to headlines, what your favorite star thinks of her first, third, and next husband – who happens to be the same man. It’s kinda silly. You can practically set your calendar by their splits and reconciliations. You shake your head.
Can’t live with him. Can’t live without her. It happens, as you’ll see in the new book “Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love” by C. David Heymann.
The first time Joe DiMaggio met Marilyn Monroe was on a blind date. He’d began “thinking” about Marilyn once he saw publicity photos of her with another ball player, and he asked a friend to set them up. She pretended not to know who the great Yankee ballplayer was. He sat mute nearly the whole evening.
And yet, Marilyn (born Norma Jeane Baker) thought he was “different” and wanted to spend more time with him. He was equally smitten and, on an after-date drive, he opened up to her like he’d never done with any other woman. He was reserved and gentlemanly. He called her again the morning after, and romance blossomed.
But there were problems. Joe “didn’t know if he could deal with her voracious appetite for public exposure.” For Marilyn, being center of attention was as necessary as oxygen and, though she said she wanted to settle down and “have a boatload of babies,” she was, down-deep, not willing to give up her career.
Part of the problem, says Heymann, is that there were “two Norma Jeanes” – a little girl who craved love, and a mercurial and complicated woman who’d do anything for the limelight – even if it meant sleeping around.
Another part of the problem was that Joe was hot-headed and controlling. He grew to detest publicity, and resented that his star had fizzled while hers was rising. Marilyn was more famous than he, and it rankled Joltin’ Joe aplenty.
She called him “Pa,” and warmly embraced the son he mostly ignored. He advised her in the career he hated. They fought, reconciled, fought more, and wed in early 1954.
It was a marriage that wouldn’t last the year.
Let’s start here: I liked “Joe and Marilyn.” I really, really liked it because, while rabid fans of either DiMaggio or Monroe won’t find much new here, I did and I liked the way it was presented.
The late author C. David Heymann was, in telling this long, scandalous saga, balanced and informative without being sensational. Readers become privy to private issues, as well as behind-closed-doors activities that led to even more issues, yet we come to see the deep devotion that lingered for the lifetimes of DiMaggio and Monroe, even though they clearly couldn’t ever live together.
That makes this an excellently-heartbreaking love story, a juicy gossip piece, a slice of culture, and sports – all rolled into one. And if you’re a fan of those, of DiMaggio, Monroe , or Hollywood of yore, then “Joe and Marilyn” is a book you really can’t be without.
Isles Unveil Coliseum Logo
The New York Islanders officially unveiled the logo they’ll use to commemorate the final season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The team has not released specific plans about the logo, but you can expect this to be a shoulder patch on home jerseys, possibly etched on the ice, and, of course, available on items in the team store.
The logo depicts the Coliseum with four Stanley Cups. It says, “Tradition on Ice” above the building and hardware.
Perhaps the weakest part of the logo is the banner at the bottom that says, “43 years of history.” Forty-three is such an unattractive number. It may have been more useful to put “1972-2015” at the bottom. Either way, it’s a logo depicting a funeral for a building that has certainly seen its better days.
The real thing to keep an eye on is just how much the organization uses the logo.
Will they offer a full store worth of items? Pucks, hats, jackets, patches, shirts? Will they make special signage for around the Coliseum with it? The season begins in less than two months, so we’ll see soon enough.
Elevate Your Mood at NCC’s Firehouse Plaza Art Gallery in Garden City
Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I and I in the sky
You make me feel like I can fly
So high, Elevation
Twelve Planes (Locked and Crossed), 2014
Keep your spirits up as summer comes to an end by visiting the Firehouse Plaza Art Gallery at Nassau Community College in Garden City. Elevate is a group sculpture exhibition consisting of three large works: Twelve Planes (Locked and Crossed) by Rachel Mica Weiss, Containing Tenaciousness by Monika Zarzeczna and Untitled by Carolyn Salas. There will also be some small works to go along with the larger installations.
“The title and theme of the show, Elevate, came from the link in the artists’ creative process of transcending materials into works of aesthetic impact and emotional resonance,” said faculty member and curator Nathan Wasserbauer. “While sculpture as a discipline is often associated with weight and mass, these artists’ works seem to levitate—carrying with them light, color, translucency and space. Along with a defiance of gravity, the pieces also carry the hopes and fears, anxieties and aspirations of their creators, displayed in a diverse manipulation of materials. Taken into consideration with their surroundings of the NCC gallery and campus, the sculptures invite the viewer to consider and experience these ideas in real time and space as both the materials and ideas lift off and become something new.”
Twelve Planes (Locked and Crossed) - Represented by Fridman Gallery in New York, artist Rachel Mica Weiss lives and works in Brooklyn as a resident of the chashama studio program.“Hand-strung on site,” Weiss’s “labor-intensive installation is a reference to the repetitious act of warping—the measuring, threading, and tensioning of thousands of threads into the loom.” As you can see from the photo above, Weiss uses her “environment’s unique architectural elements,” (in this case, the patio just outside of the Firehouse gallery’s window) “as her framework, creating lurching architectural interventions: bold blockades that confront the viewer and engender feelings of vulnerability.”
Containing Tenaciousness - Born in Warsaw, Poland, artist Monika Zarzeczna grew up in the Netherlands and moved to New York in 2002. She lives and works in Brooklyn and currently has a residency at the chashama studio program. Her work reflects impressions of her daily encounters with discarded and devalued objects and makeshift structures in her Brooklyn neighborhood. She often works in series and Containing Tenaciousness is a follow up to the 2012 Hardnekkig installation. Made almost entirely of discarded materials and inspired by electricity towers, staircases and sidewalk gardens, ‘Containing Tenaciousness’ combines suspended, descending and rising elements that add up to a fragile, ramshackle structure, a 3D drawing that is looking for balance, weight and weightlessness.
Untitled - Appointed lecturer in sculpture at Yale in 2011, artist Carolyn Salas is a recipient of the studio residency program at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York. She uses a wide array of materials including found objects, photography, moldmaking, collage and recycled items to create sculptural platforms where material and concept meet to transform space and the way we view it. In a culture obsessed with mass production and disposability her work is a conduit of her opposition to this standard. With laborious craft and a handmade touch, the imperfections and human attributes of burdens, failures and achievements of our everyday are exposed. Salas looks at the work as a self-exploration of the subconscious, where she tries to physically create a state of mind. Responding to Carl Jung’s idea of artists and alchemists projecting part of their psyche into matter or inanimate objects, possessing in a sense a secret soul, the objects eventually live out a life of their own.
The exhibit runs from September 2nd through November 13th. Firehouse Plaza Art Gallery at Nassau Community College is located in CCB Building, Plaza Level, Room 140. Admission is free.
An artist’s reception will be held on October 9th from 5-7pm in the gallery. All are welcome.
HU Hoops Gets New Arena Floor
Continuing with its progressive thinking, the Hofstra University Depart of Athletics hosted a contest for fans, students, designers and artists to submit possible basketball court designs.
The court has already been completed in the Hofstra Basketball Practice Facility and will be redone in the Mack Sports Complex later this summer, according to the university’s Office of Athletic Communications.
There were nine winners that each contributed some component of the final court design, Hofstra said.
“We thank all the wonderful Hofstra Basketball fans that submitted potential court designs,” commented Hofstra Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway in a statement. “Our basketball programs are thrilled with how the court turned out and appreciate the great support from the community. We can’t wait to showcase the court during the upcoming 2014-15 season.”
“The Last Ship” Finds a Snake in Paradise
Last week’s episode of “The Last Ship” was certainly played up enough that it could have served as a season finale. This week’s actual finale certainly started off feeling like an epilogue more than anything. That is until everything went completely wrong. The premise of the previous nine episode has typically followed a pattern of conflict brought on by need escalating to tension and despair only to end with determination and renewed hope. The finale flipped that on its head and followed that path backwards.
I’ve talked a lot about “The Last Ship” on this blog, but that’s mainly because it has been the only consistently exciting show this summer. Each week has been packed full of intrigue and adventure and I feel like the persons making the show have gone the extra mile each of the ten hours they’ve given us this freshman year. My biggest fear would be that the narrative they set in motion would be predicated by the constant search for the cure to the deadly plague and that this would be dragged out however long the show lasted on the air. Imagine my surprise when we ended last week with said cure.
The season finale changed all that and proved that the show is about more than the cure. The world within the story has suddenly been writ larger as, for the first time since the pilot, the crew of the Nathan James returns to mainland America and one of the last remaining vestiges of structure and society. Sure, there are barbarians at the gate threatening the last scraps of the old world, but there is hope that civility and normality can be returned to the rest of the country and, possibly, the world. But then the truths become lies and the fellow saviors are revealed to be evil.
As has been apparent from the beginning, this show is about people, namely the crew of the Nathan James, and how they remain faithful to their duty, convictions and trust in each other now that there is no world order. All of that is tested, most especially in the final moments. Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), having lead his people to safety, then faces his greatest tragedy while uncovering a horror beyond imagining. Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) has a place to create more of the cure she has sweated and bled for only to discover another horrible truth. Quincy Tophet (Sam Spruell), the one-time traitor, gets to redeem himself, but at great cost. And lovelorn Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson) decides to ride off into the great unknown at perhaps the worst possible time.
By the end of the episode, our heroes are spread out around Baltimore, those still on the ship now basically held hostage. Hope has been taken away and the true monsters stand revealed as the ones that offered sanctuary. It’s obvious that somehow the group painted as terrorists will play a bigger part in the resolution to all this, partly because we see them revealed to be decent folk after all, but mainly because Titus Welliver plays their leader. You don’t bring in Welliver for a bit part and I hope he sticks around in a permanent role next year. And that is the silver lining to the bleak and somber finale, that the show will be back next summer for another run.
Should I Take Weight Loss Pills to Lose Weight?
Published: Monday, August 25, 2014
The only prescription drugs which are FDA approved for losing weight are for those who suffer from obesity and often interfere with fat absorption, which can lead to poor vitamin uptake. Herbal supplements and non-prescription weight loss pills can work by changing the feedback and release of hormones from your brain, increasing your metabolism and utilizing body fat. They alter your body’s natural metabolism, often cause rapid weight gain when use is ceased and can be quite costly. The healthiest pill really is putting time and effort into quality nutrition and exercise. You will appreciate your hard work when you see your honest results!
“Legends” Second Outing Should Have Been Its First
Published: Friday, August 22, 2014
A curious thought struck me while watching the second episode of TNT’s new series “Legends.” Basically, it occurred to me how much stronger this hour served as an introduction to the series than the pilot did. Don’t get me wrong, I really did like the premiere episode, but we get the same important information this week, but in a much more interesting way that is more tightly integrated into the mission of the week.
There is even the surprise death of one of the team, just like in the pilot. Anyway catching the show for the first time this would not be remiss in thinking they were starting from the beginning. This all isn’t really a problem, per se, but I feel like we either wasted an entire hour last week or are retreading ground we just walked over a few days ago.
For example, we get a much more balanced view into the madness that is Martin Odum (Legend in his own right, Sean Bean) this week. In the premiere he is much dourer, bordering on pathetic. Yet now we get to see him in charge of his situation and less scatter-brained. He was initially painted as a loose cannon on the verge of completely losing, but by episode two he is rational enough to be likable. He is still liable to unwittingly slip into one of his fake identities, but he seems aware of it and manages to actually genuinely smile on occasion.
Likewise, Odum’s erstwhile intimate-partner-cum-professional-colleague, Crystal McGuire (Ali Larter) is also fleshed out substantially. She still objects to Odum’s trustworthiness, but her begrudging respect for what he is able to do is clearer. She even lets her guard down around him a time or two, if only to give him a wry, back-handed compliment. Additionally, the other members of the team show a bit more personality, particularly Director Gates (Steve Harris) and Troy Quinn (Rob Mayes). This only helps with the shock of one of them biting the dust (you’ll have to watch to see who) towards the end of the episode.
We also get a fantastic introduction to a new character, Tony Rice (Morris Chestnut). Chestnut’s character was prominent in the promotion of the show, yet curiously absent from the pilot. Although he isn’t yet part of the team, we get to know the type of character Rice is from a few well-utilized scenes. Much like all the other crucial background information we flashback to, this comes in the form of well-written scenes that act like less of an information dump and more like essential scenes that move the plot forward. Chestnut was one of the best parts of the “V” reboot a few years back and does a great job whenever he appears on “Nurse Jackie” so it is very welcome to see him in a regular role once again.
Again, I thought the actual pilot of “Legends” was serviceable enough in setting up the show, it just feels odd to me that the follow up episode basically served the same purpose. Thankfully, it was a second introduction that added another dimension to the admittedly one-note performances and script of the premiere. And even though it ended in an oddly abrupt way, my esteem for this show has increased substantially and it bodes well for both the story direction and its longevity.
Peanut Car is a Pleasure, but Sound System Needs an Upgrade
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring
Base price: $30,550
As tested: $32,735
The Miata occupies a well-deserved niche in the compact convertible department, holding its own in the face of challengers like the new Beetle, Honda S-2000, BMW’s Z4 and others. Enjoying non-stop sunny weather over a week’s test, my top was flopped constantly and I was in the zone, looking for any excuse to get behind the wheel and zip off somewhere. My top-of-the-line MX-5 Grand Touring included a retractable hardtop roof, keyless ignition, paddle shifters and other modern accoutrements, and the car comes in two other trims; the base Sport and the more expensive Club. A six-speed automatic transmission mated to a 158-horsepower, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower moves the 2,500-pound car as fast as it can, which is to say Not Very. That’s due to my tester being automatic, though. With a manual you could make this thing moan, groan, patch and screech. I think. I hope. The 2016 model, coming our way in September, offers a turbocharger and will probably cause the model I tested to drop in price, so hold off on buying until then. There also isn’t, as everyone knows, much room in this thing. I plopped an 80-pound mastiff named Max into my passenger side and drove around the block just to see how he’d fare. He paced and turned and spat on the dashboard and looked at me as if to say, “Why don’t we try this again when we have a truck?” The advantages, of course, to having a tiny car include being able to zip in and out of sketchy highway situations at will, and parking is a snap.
The biggest head-scratcher during my week’s test was the lack of a USB outlet anywhere in the car to both charge my phone and my iPod. Instead, I was offered a 1/8th inch jack, which sounded fine but anyone who buys this car will also have to buy a 1/8th inch cord and an adaptor to plug into the lighter outlet if they wish to power up their electronics. Do we need more little cords and adaptors in our lives, folks? I don’t. Which isn’t to say I didn’t love my little guy. I washed it three times, including the rims on its sweet 17-inch alloy tires, stylish cat’s-eye headlights, carved aluminum hood and hardtop which raises and lowers quickly so you get can get ‘er done at stop lights.
The Miata, according to all accounts, is coming into 2016 with an eye on more speed; let’s hope they bring the sound system up-to-date, too.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Aug. 22
Each week we scour the digital world looking for the hottest gadgets, trending topics, new apps and more! We pass it on to you in easy to read bite-size morsels…after that you are on your own to surf at will!
Taking Selfies to the Next Level!
Introducing the Selfie Ring! This clever gadget attaches to your phone with a simple adhesive and provides you with two small rings to slide your fingers through and voila…perfect selfies every time—without the fear of dropping your phone into the river, or worse, from the top of a building in Manhattan! And for even more fun, take a look at the Selfie Stick! Looking for a place to put all those pictures? Try the Shelf-ie!
The Motorcycle helmet of the future is here and it’s called Skully! Not only will this helmet protect your head, it’ll make you smarter…well, sort of! The Skully boasts a rear-view camera and also displays your speed, fuel level, even caller ID…all within the driver’s in-helmet/visor display panel. Plus there’s Bluetooth capability, GPS services, even internet access. Easy Rider Indeed!
My Internet is faster than Your Internet
Sitting by your Laptop or Smart TV waiting for screens to load? Don’t be frustrated…know this! Someone always has it worse than you…and here’s a handy map to prove it! While New York and California have considerably faster Internet speeds than a lot of states, we do not hold the speediest spot on the charts! Number one on the list may surprise you.
Out of this Galaxy
We spoke last week about the arrival of the new iPhone 6 (Coming September 9th). Well, not to be outdone Samsung announces their new phone the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. The phone ditches the plastic outer casing that its predecessors relied on, for a new metal exterior edge. Besides that there doesn’t seem to be any new outstanding features…well, except keeping pace with the folks at Apple of course.
“Shots Fired” by C.J. Box
c.2014, Putnam $26.95 / $31.00 Canada 288 pages
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Trapped in an elevator, office, front seat of a car, wishing you were someplace, anyplace, else. The people with you are getting on your last nerve. You’ve heard the same phrases over and over and over and you want to scream.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all lived through the irritation, but what’s funny is that it’s not at all chafing to read about it happening to someone else. And that’s just one of the themes in “Shots Fired,” a book of short stories by C.J. Box.
Throughout the years, says Box, fans have asked where they could find some of his shorter works, wondering why there wasn’t an anthology.
Now there is, with favorite characters and a few new faces.
Take, for instance, “ One-Car Bridge ,” in which a ranch owned by a big-city bully is on the edge of Game Warden Joe Pickett’s territory. Joe has bad news for the owner, but it could be worse news for the ranch’s manager: he could lose his job over something that’s not his fault. Could help come from the U.S. Mail?
Pickett, of course, is one of Box’s best-loved characters – maybe because Joe cherishes his neighbors so much. In “Dull Knife,” one of Wyoming ’s finest basketball players is dead. Joe remembers the girl, and he mourns what she could have been. How she died is an even bigger issue.
Joe’s friend, Nate Romanowski also appears in this book and he’s loaded for bear – or, in this case, for a rich Saudi who seems to think he owns the rogue falconer and can buy what he demands. In “The Master Falconer,” fans will be surprised to see that Nate tows the line. Or not.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say, but not necessarily in a canoe. In “Every Day is a Good Day on the River,” a long-awaited fishing trip turns into a nightmare when something unexpected shows up on the waters.
And in my favorite story here, “The End of Jim and Ezra,” two trappers are caught for the winter in a cabin high in the mountains. It’s 1835 and it’s been Three. Long. Months of living practically on top of one another.
Stir-crazy ain’t the word for it…
You know how it is when you want a book, but not the whole book? That’s when you reach for this: with its ten short stories, “Shots Fired” will just fill that nagging want-to-read hunger.
And yet, what’s nice about this book is that you can make it last. Most of author C.J. Box’s tales are short enough to read in one sitting, but not so involved that you won’t feel bad putting a bookmark in them for a minute. And that’s about how long you’ll need a bookmark – a minute – because these mystery-western-human-interest tales are awfully addicting.
If you’re a Box fan, this is a must-have. If you’ve never read his works, you’ll be a fan in short order because what’s inside “Shots Fired” will have you stuck to your seat.
Beer Sessions Radio: Breweries on the North Fork
Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Update Aug.22: Listen to this episode here.
Good Morning, Aquebogue! I was asked to organize a Long Island-themed episode of Heritage Radio Network’s weekly program, Beer Sessions Radio, which we pre-recorded during the last week of July. It airs today at 5 pm.
The host of Beer Sessions, Jimmy Carbone (also owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 in Manhattan), proposed gathering three breweries as guests for the show, so I chose to feature a thriving trio on the North Fork: Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company, and Moustache Brewing Company. While Blue Point Brewing Company still defines beermaking on Long Island, Greenport Harbor and Long Ireland are both prompting drinkers, by portfolio dopeness and continued growth, to travel east of the vaunted progenitor in Patchogue—to Greenport and Riverhead, respectively. This has helped establish a noteworthy scene on the 30-mile-long peninsula, one that, in my opinion, now deservedly includes Moustache in Riverhead.
Beer Sessions traditionally broadcasts live every Tuesday from Roberta’s in Brooklyn, but we recorded this episode at Greenport Harbor’s impressive and just-opened 13,000-square-foot facility in Peconic, which is highlighted by a 30-barrel brewhouse and 2,000-square-foot taproom (its original brewery and taproom, in Greenport, remains operational). We also drank—specifically Greenport Harbor’s #5, an anniversary-themed Belgian-style dubbel aged with tart cherries; Long Ireland’s newest release, Trinity IPA; and Moustache’s flagship, Everyman’s Porter.
The Penultimate “The Last Ship” Season 1 Episode is Momentous
To say that “The Last Ship” has been a hit is a little bit of an understatement. It shed very little of its audience from the pilot and the ratings have remained strong and steady from week to week. It’s unsurprising that it got an early renewal. “The Last Ship” has packed more story in its very short first season than most shows see over their entire run. Amazingly, nothing has been wasted or shoehorned in for no reason. Every twist and turn has progressed the story, every victory has been earned and every loss has been felt.
It is interesting that this week’s episode is perhaps the most momentous so far, bearing in mind that the season finale is next week. In fact, this week could be considered a major game-changing hour as not only does the crew of the Nathan James now have a vaccine, but it appears they also have a cure to the deadly plague that has decimated humanity. Yes, the one thing that would have seemed destined for the end of the series is instead figured out before the first season closes out. That, of course, begs the question of what is planned for the finale.
Backing up a bit, the episode begins with Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) preparing for the next step in testing her possible vaccine with human trials. Dr. Scott will inject six volunteers with the vaccine and then expose them to the sickness and, if all goes according to plan they will all recover in a relatively short period of time. This being a drama series, all does not go according to plan and the six begin to succumb to the virus.
The volunteers run the gambit of characters we’ve grown to know over the previous episodes, namely Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson), Jeter (Chris Parnell), Gibson (Felicia Cooper), Foster (Marissa Neitling), Garnett (Fay Masterson) and Miller (Kevin Michael Martin). There is a point where it appears that the show might just do the unthinkable and kill off all six of the volunteers. While we do lose one character to the virus, this is a show that is at its core a story about hope, so, of course most everyone is saved. Surprisingly, though, we get a whole lot more than thought possible.
While all this sturm und drang is happening on the ship, we get the occasional interlude involving Commander Chandler’s (Eric Dane) family. His wife, Darien (Tracy Middendorf) and kids Sam (Aidan Sussman) and Ashley (Grace Kaufman) are getting by in a cabin in the woods with Chandler’s dad (Bill Smitrovich). One of their neighbors has come down with the virus and it appears that Mrs. Chandler may have as well. Good thing the elder member of the family is trying to repair his radio in order to contact his son aboard the Nathan James. I suspect the fate of the landlocked Chandlers will play into the final hour of the season, if not the inevitable cliffhanger.
So far “The Last Ship” has proven to be a compelling dramatic-adventure series each and every week. I think it is a perfect example of how a serialized story greatly benefits from a short season and, fortunately, the producers and network seem to agree. Season two will consist of thirteen episodes, three more than we got this year, but not enough to put the narrative in danger of needing filler episodes. Judging by the highly intense season one episodes, the finale’s cliffhanger should make the wait between seasons pretty unbearable.
How to Keep A Sharp Brain
Published: Monday, August 18, 2014
There have been links of decreasing memory loss to supplements like vitamin E, ginseng or omega 3 fatty acids, but the studies have not been large scale enough to demonstrate proven benefits concretely. Opt for more pro-active ways to improve your memory like testing your daily brain power with a new hobby, a different route home, a book outside of your favorite genre, creating an acronym for your next shopping list, attempting simple tasks with your non-dominant hand, etc. You can never go wrong with more real life brain food!
Catching Up With Summer Favorites
Published: Friday, August 15, 2014
As summer starts to wind down, so, too, do a few of my favorite summer series. That doesn’t mean that the action on any of these shows is slowing down. Far from it. First up is Guillermo del Toro’s magnificent “The Strain.” This show does not hold back on the thrills, chills and very bloody spills. Eph (Corey Stoll) finally gets the background information we’ve all been waiting for as to what exactly returned with all the seemingly dead people on their fateful flight from the pilot episode.
At the same time we get a little more history of Setrakian (David Bradley) and his first encounter with the uber-creepy Eichorst (Richard Sammel). Also, Dr. Martinez (Mía Maestro) comes face to scary face with the full extent of the horror that has been unleashed and realizes she can’t escape it any more. This show is firing on all cylinders and slowly pulling together the forces of light and dark to their respective sides. Like us, Eph knows more than before, but it may not be enough to save himself or his loved ones. There are some big, life-altering decisions ahead for several characters.
Heading to the near future, on “Extant” the secret conspiracy lead by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neill) seems to have achieved one of its goals, namely removing the baby from Molly (Halle Berry). However, this may be a matter of being careful what you wish for as it is unclear what exactly came back form space with Molly inside her belly. Despite the conspiracy’s attempts at manipulation and obfuscation in order to make Molly just look like she’s crazy, the astronaut manages to find evidence to prove to hubby John (Goran Visnjic) that she really isn’t. Also, Molly may not be the first woman to go through this otherworldly experiment. “Extant” isn’t wasting any time in upping the stakes and moving things forward. With only four episodes left and a questionable chance of returning next year, I really hope there is a plan to bring the story to a satisfactory ending.
Meanwhile, “Under the Dome” is going full-tilt wacky. Three people have found a way out of the dome after seemingly falling to their deaths. All three have ended up in a town called Zenith, home of Melanie (Grace Victoria), Barbie (Mike Vogel) and a strange obelisk. This is the place where Junior’s (Alexander Koch) mother, Pauline (Sherry Stringfield) ended up in attempting to save Chester’s Mill the fate of the dome. A now crazy Lyle (Dwight Yoakam) and murderous Sam (Eddie Cahill) are in town having gone down the black pit in the school basement, as is Barbie. We’re finally getting more of a view of a much bigger picture regarding the central mystery. The promise from the pilot of a bigger world and a richer history of the dome is beginning to pay off and I can’t to see where the rest of the season is headed.
Next week I’ll catch you up on some of my other summer favorites. In the meantime, be sure to tune in Sunday, August 17th to MTV for “Dave Skylark’s Very Special VMA Special.” Featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco in character from their upcoming film “The Interview,” this prelude to the Video Music Awards will also feature VMA performers Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea, and VMA nominee Jason Derulo subjecting themselves to the hilarious antics of the fictional popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” The special will include Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) grilling each interviewee about everything ranging from derrières to the benefits of being Australian and the merits of singing one’s name. Be sure to tune in!
#1 Hybrid in America Deserves its Continued Success
2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
Base price: $27,945
The Camry Hybrid is the #1 gas-electric vehicle in America despite getting an average of 10 or so miles per gallon less than the more-famous Prius. The Camry Hybrid deserves to be #1, though, because unlike the Prius, which never lets you forget you’re driving something sensible and therefore a yawn except when you orgasm over your great mileage, the Camry has style, speed and a healthy dose of cojones. It also manages to squeeze out something in the neighborhood of 40 miles per gallon. It’s a car, in other words, not mother’s milk.
Its inside is spacious and comfortable and responses are sharp and caffeinated, doing what you ask of it in a hurry. It doesn’t have a nav system as standard - wacky for a car in this price range - but its sound system is reasonably rich and you can find everything easily. If you want built-in nav, spring for the $1300 package and you’ll get an upgraded premium audio system, Bluetooth hook up and more. A 200-horsepower, 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder engine is surprisingly powerful given that this is a not-small 4-door sedan. Inside, it’s respectably tight and free of immediately noticeable cheapness, with brushed aluminum accents and a stitched dash.
The car is offered in LE and more expensive, involved XLE trim levels. There’s also a “2014.5” Camry Hybrid which debuted in December of 2013 and is offered in an additional trim, SE Limited Edition, which differs in its equipment levels but not by much. The 2014 LE features 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface that works quickly and therefore well. Go for the XLE and you’ll get 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear seat air vents.
The Camry, for its quirks, deservedly occupies its #1 sales spot. For practicality, economy and sport, you won’t find a better hybrid in this price range.
“The Norm Chronicles” by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2014
You hadn’t seen your old classmate in years.
He was never at reunions or any events. He never called you, either, and truth be known, you kind of forgot about him – until his name came up on Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoon, you spotted his face in the background of a stranger’s online photo.
Total coincidence? What are the odds? Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter say they’re actually pretty good, and in “The Norm Chronicles,” they explain.
Congratulations, your lottery numbers all came up. You missed being in an accident. You were in the right place at the right time, but you didn’t “defy the odds.”
That, say the authors, is impossible.
“Odds,” they explain, “simply describe how many people are expected to be on each side of a possibility.” Something good happened in the above situations; you were on the positive side, which is “meeting the odds.” And chance, of course, “always plays a part” in everything we do.
From the moment we’re born, we risk: infants have the “same level of annual hazard” as do middle-age adults. Get to age 10, though, and you’re good to go for awhile, since that’s the approximate age of our lives, roughly speaking, when we’re safest and have the lowest relative units of “MicroMorts.”
Or take, for instance, disease. You might think that everything causes cancer, but numbers can be deceiving. Is a specific risk relative or absolute? The former can “make the numbers seem scarier than maybe they should be.” Furthermore, the “nature of news” is that “things that are… likely to get you are not reported nearly so often as others that are rare.” Yes, some behaviors seem to invite disaster, but others “fall… into the same category of philosophy” that should include data on values and traditions. Alcoholic consumption is one of those.
Is it chancy to get immunized? To lose a job? To eat 5,000 bananas? Yes, but what we need to remember about risk, chance, and probability is that there is no average. You can be “average for some subset” of people but that can change – and besides, it’s all about perception anyhow, since probability is a “recipe for muddle.”
Through a mixture of fact and fiction about a regular Joe called Norm, “The Norm Chronicles” is an informative book that’ll tickle your funnybone.
Or, as much as you can understand it, anyway.
Authors Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter sprinkle wit all over their chapters and fill them with asides and silly stories that illustrate risk throughout life and in all aspects. The thing is, the facts and stats just don’t let up, which can be overwhelming for some readers. We learn one thing that seems contradictory elsewhere (the nature of possibility), and the numbers just keep on coming…
Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad book; quite the contrary, it’s good entertainment, but it’s just going to need some digesting-time, that’s all. Give yourself that, and I think “The Norm Chronicles” is a book you’ll probably like.
Truffle & Mushroom Ravioli
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
You open your fridge and find yourself staring blankly for a minute, maybe two, until it hits you; there is nothing! That defrosted chicken that you could have sworn was in the back of the shelf is no longer there. You frantically open the freezer and “Hallelujah,” frozen truffle ravioli is staring at you in the face. Oh, the possibilities you have and here is one that is just so simple and delicious. Dinner is “Oh so DONE!” Phew…..
• 1 package of prepared truffle ravioli
• 1/4 cup low-fat half & half
• ½ cup white wine or cooking broth
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic minced
• 2 shallots chopped
• 1 lb. cleaned and sliced baby portabella mushrooms
• 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling
• chopped parsley for garnish
• Ground pepper
1.) Cook pasta according to directions (al dente) in salted water and drain. Put aside.
2.) Heat oil in large skillet. Add shallot and cook until tender for about 2 minutes. Add in garlic and mushrooms cook for 2-3 more minutes until just starting to brown.
3.) Pour in half & half and broth in the cream. Bring to a boil and add in parm chesse and ground pepper; stir until sauce is well blended for a couple more minutes and reduced to the thickness of a tomato sauce.
4.) Transfer your drained pasta to the sauce pan
5.) Immediately sprinkle with more grated cheese and fresh parsley.
6.) Serve with a nice glass of white wine and ENJOY!!
Movie staring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Filming on Long Island
Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A movie staring the hilarious duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler has been filming on Long Island. The comedy called, “The Nest,” began filming on the Island in late May and since then a good portion of the movie has been filmed on Long Island.
In early June an ad was actually put on Craigslist in search of female nail artists to be featured in a scene of the film in the East Meadow area of Long Island. Universal Pictures confirmed that the ad was real and it seems two lucky ladies got to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to star in a major motion picture.
In June, filming also took place in Five Towns College in Dix Hills. Grumman Studios was another location and according to moviesfilmedonlongisland.com, filming also took place on Hempstead Turnpike in the Uniondale area of Long Island. While the house featured in the film is actually located in New York, the movie takes place in Florida and so producers actually had to obtain palm trees, got rid of the more common New York trees in the area in an attempt to make the set look more like a Florida home.
Enough with the filming locations what exactly is the movie about? Well, “The Nest” is about two estranged sisters who decide to throw one last party at their house, which their parents are about to sell. The plot already has me laughing in my mind.
The last time Fey and Poehler headlined a film together was in the 2008 comedy “Baby Mama.” Also starring in the film is actress Maya Rudolph who was a breakout star of the 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids.”
It’s no surprise that these actors are working together since they have for many years on “Saturday Night Live.” Jason Moore whose resumé includes “Pitch Perfect” and “Dawson’s Creek” directs the film. Paula Pell who wrote the film has also worked with Fey, Poehler and Rudolph on “Saturday Night Live.”
Other famous names involved with film include actors John Leguizamo, James Brolin and John Cena.
“The Nest” is set to be released in December 2015.
Mork Returns to Ork, Remembering Robin Williams
Like most of the United States, I was introduced to Robin Williams on February 28, 1978 through the “My Favorite Orkan” episode of “Happy Days.” Williams played a zany alien named Mork who had come to 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin to take Richie Cunningham back to his home planet of Ork as a specimen. Of course the Fonze gets involved and wacky hijinks ensue. This take on the popular 60s sitcom “My Favorite Martian” was played off as a dream. However, Williams’ out of this world alter ego proved so popular that not only was the episode re-edited to make Mork a “real” alien, but both the actor and character were given their own show. That fall, the TV series “Mork & Mindy” premiered and pop culture would never be the same again.
I’m not sure I have the words to adequately express the loss of Robin Williams. He was undeniably a comedic genius as first displayed on “Mork & Mindy” and continuing through many films. His verbally manic performance in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” his sublime portrayal of a man-child in “Jumanji” and his amazing voice performance of two different penguins in “Happy Feet,” not to mention his numerous stand up performances, are but small reasons why he was unparalleled in his field and walked easily among the giants of comedy. Much like the great George Carlin, Robin Williams often commented on social issues and freely discussed his own vices and ghosts.
Of course he had many, many fine dramatic roles in films that have since become classics. Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for “Good Will Hunting” and a Golden Globe for “The Fisher King.” In one of his increasingly rare returns to TV over the years he gave us another award-winning performance in a compelling episode of “Homicide: Life on the Streets.” Ask any ten people what their favorite Robin Williams dramatic role is and you’ll get ten different answers. For the record, mine is Andrew martin in “Bicentennial Man.”
I’ve never met Robin Williams in person, but from everything I’ve read about him off-screen, I sincerely wish I had. By all accounts he sounds like he was an amazing and kind man and an exceptional conversationalist. He was great friends with the biggest curmudgeon on the planet, Harlan Ellison and to me that speaks volumes about the character of both men. It is always said that laughter is the best medicine. If that is true, then Robin Williams was one of the greatest healers the world has ever known. He’s been a constant presence in my life since I was eight and a half. Ever since Mork from Ork threw a doomed egg into the air, thinking it was a fellow unhatched Orkan, the phrase “fly, be free” has been a permanent part of my vocabulary. His heart-felt revelations regarding his addictions and constant fight with depression have given me insights into my own behaviors over the years and given me the strength to be a better man. I wish I would have been able to thank him.
Williams once said “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” We could all be better people by taking that to heart. Life is very short and a shocking reminder of that is when one of your heroes is suddenly gone. Robin Williams was a hero to me and an inspiration. His laughter and insights were a blazing torch upon all the dark corners of the world and now life is just a little bit darker, a little bit scarier and a little hollower for the loss of Robin Williams. It’s difficult to imagine that a man as funny as him could suffer from such soul-crushing depression that taking his own life was the only way he could see to end the pain. We’ve all had our moments like that, but it’s obvious that he had no way to ultimately get past it and was not able to find the help he needed. I wish I could have been there to tell him what he meant to the world and the eight year old me that still remembers the funny man in the rainbow suspenders who taught me how fun it is to sit on a chair head first. Goodbye Mr. Williams, peace is yours at last and you have left us many ways to find our own peace through you inexhaustible talent to make us smile.
If you or anyone you know is depressed to the point where there is nowhere else to turn, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There will be someone on the other end who will listen to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Truth About Juicing
Published: Monday, August 11, 2014
Juice fasts, whether homemade or store bought, are not a healthy or effective solution to losing weight or staying healthy in the long term. Yes, they do temporarily supply your body with a burst of vitamins and minerals, but they do not furnish you with protein, fats or fibers, which are necessary for health. Most fruits and vegetables lack substantial amounts of fat and protein, and the liquid form of vegetables lacks much of the fiber content that aids in normal digestion. Lastly, the high sugar content of juices (even homemade) is not an appropriate source of nutrition and may tamper with the natural sugar levels in your blood. On the other hand, occasionally drinking liquefied vegetables/fruits as a supplement to a regular and healthy diet can do no harm!
William King Brings New Vitality to Duck Creek Farm
Squaw Road at Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton
Published: Friday, August 08, 2014
William King’s well-known humor and vitality continue to transmit through this latest installation of sculptures placed on the very special East Hampton Town-owned historical property of Duck Creek Farm, site of the late artist John Little’s home and studio.
The visit requires a small journey into the northern regions of East Hampton, close to Gardiner’s Bay, but is well-worth the time and travel. One can certainly make a pleasant afternoon of it and also visit nearby sites of art historic interest like the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center or Ashawagh Hall.
Organized by Jess Frost and the John Little Society, which is an energetic group devoted to making this spot a dynamic cultural destination for the community and beyond, Bill King’s sculpture brings new life to the grounds of Duck Creek Farm and the John Little Barn.
Wonderfully sited in this pastoral landscape with the additional backdrop of the 19th-century barn, each large-scale aluminum sculpture transmits movement through King’s customary lanky mannerism that somehow manages to be graceful and elegant rather than awkward; much like a gangly basketball player whose fast, fluid motions–passing, dribbling, jumping in quick flashes—draw admiration.
As it happens, these sculptures relate to athleticism and competition. There are cyclists riding at what seem vertiginous speeds, angled rakishly on their two wheels, bodies positioned in aerodynamic tension. This tension relates to that in a dual-figure piece depicting a tug-of-war. In another work, the only one with a red-paint finish, two figures seem to be in a grappling hold (or perhaps just a dance).
King as usual distills the figure to its most necessary elements. Similarly, his representation of action—through the angle of a leg, the plane of a foot, the curve of a back, the appearance of a circular versus elliptic wheel—is essentially expressive.
This is a unique opportunity to view the characteristic work of this engaging artist on a historically significant site.
Gianni Paci releases summery video for song recorded at Richie Cannata’s studio
Late September back at school
You and I broke all the rules
We did, We did, We did it good
But it’s gonna be a long time
Before we get to play another game
—From “Long Time” by Gianni Paci
Oyster Bay’s Gianni Paci just wrapped a video for his new single “Long Time.” The singer/songwriter/guitarist recorded the song at the Richie Cannata-owned Cove City Sound Studios (Billy Joel, Jennifer Lopez), with producer Eren Cannata. The song is an introduction to his new sound, which features a contemporary-pop spin on the more retro-minded songwriting he honed under his old pseudonym, The Pine Hollows. Paci discussed his first single, “Goodbye,” and working with Cannata back in February. He looks forward to releasing a full-length and can’t wait to return to Cove City in the fall to work on more of his music. That means more singles and more videos.
Filmed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, “Long Time” was directed by Patrice Lighter of LGTR Productions.
“Patrice did an amazing job of capturing just what kind of emotions fostered the song—that nostalgia for a time in the past, and that sense of impatience that goes along with waiting for something else good to come along,” noted Paci. “I wrote the song about one of my first loves, and how a high-point in our relationship seemed to signal the beginning of the end of my childhood, naiveté and inexperience. High school can be such a crazy time, and I think the lyrics reflect that kind of back-to-school excitement and malaise. As the songwriter and the subject of the song, I am proud of what we had, acknowledging its end but, at the same time, missing it terribly. Patrice put me back in a lot of the clothes I hadn’t worn since, and it helped me get back into character.”
The NYU grad recently performed at NYC’s Sidewalk Cafe, and you can catch him at The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington on Friday, September, 5th at 7pm.
“When performing live, I mostly stick to original material,” said Paci. “I’m quite the productive songwriter so I’m always testing out my originals live—whether it’s a new song or something I may have written a year or two ago but it’s feeling more relevant than ever in the moment. Being a solo artist means that I can keep things fresh and spontaneous in this way, and in my experience it seems to keep things exciting for the audience too. I would love to be remembered the way that Billy Joel is and to share that sense of Oyster Bay pride with him.”
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Aug. 8
Each week we scour the digital world looking for the hottest gadgets, trending topics, new apps and more! We pass it on to you in easy to read bite-size morsels…after that you are on your own to surf at will!
Lucky Number… Six?
As kids head back to school this year you can be sure their minds will not entirely be on their studies. On September 9th Apple unveils the new iPhone 6. Features they’ll be talking about on this year’s model? There’s a larger more durable display, a faster processor and an improved camera. Let the countdown begin!
Rockin’ is Cool…, but it isn’t Cheap!
Know a musician who you think has it all? Not so fast! Now they can rock when they’re off stage too with the Marshall Bluetooth Speaker System. Using Bluetooth Technology they can rock the house from their smart phone, tablet or computer. “We’re not worthy!”
Bike of the Future?
This new bike is called “Denny” and it is the most ingenious, useful bike ever! The handlebars double as the bike lock, the lights are automatic (turn signals and brake lights too!), there’s flexible storage space and a unique “Electric Pedal Assist”. Not available yet, I guess are old wheels will just have to do.
Pinterest Users Unite…Literally!
Pinterest, the world’s largest scrapbook, has shown that they are in the game for the long haul. Earlier this week they released Pinterest Messages. Created and launched in just three months it already has more functionality than Facebook’s and Twitter’s messaging systems. With too many features to mention here, it’s worth a look.
Ford’s Peanut Car’s a Deceptive Firecracker
2015 Ford Fiesta ST
Base price: $22,195
As tested: $26,100
Having three cylinders ought to consign any car to a permanent place in the right lane, where it can eventually accelerate to 40 miles an hour at its own chosen (non) speed. But the Fiesta ST’s three cylinders plus a turbocharger give this pipsqueak a fierce acceleration accompanied by an authoritative exhaust blort that was a continued pleasure over a week’s test. Specifically, the engine produces 197 horsepower and 214 lb-ft of torque at 3500 RPM and you can blast from zero to 60 in less than seven seconds. Even more impressive is its mileage - somewhere around 30 combined city/highway miles per gallon, depending on your driving style.
The car won’t work for you if you’re vertically or horizontally large, and the conformed seats with smart stitching work for some spines and not for others. Otherwise, it’s a driver’s car through and through, with 17-inch alloy wheels and ST-unique sport suspension, aluminum pedals, available race-inspired RECARO® leather-trimmed front seats and special ST design elements. It’s also got this oddly named “active nibble control” - a Ford invention - which senses and compensates for road imperfections. What if I want those imperfections, though, so I can really feel where my tires are? I don’t want a car that does a Photoshop on the highway. Let me go around the bumps, Ford. Its dynamic stability control system, on the other hand, is a needed and welcome feature that works flawlessly. Toss the car into a sharp turn and you maintain grip, understeer and drift, all with ease.
The amount of stuff you get for the price is sweet, like auto headlights, auto wipers, keyless entry and button start, fog lights, climate control and part-leather Recaro sports seats. Other candy includes an intuitive console, available painted-metallic accents, soft-touch materials and more. Optional features like heated leather-trimmed seats, SYNC® and Intelligent Access with push-button start add to the classy, speedy, stylish Fiesta flavor.
The Fiesta isn’t a Porsche or an Audi, and it isn’t meant to be. But it’s good to see an American sport compact that gets everything right.
Sean Bean and Ali Larter are “Legends”
Published: Thursday, August 07, 2014
There is one more highly anticipated summer premiere coming up and once again we turn to TNT. “Legends,” based on the book by Robert Littell, stars veteran actor Sean Bean as FBI Deep Cover Operative Martin Odun, a divorced father who changes himself almost seamlessly into a different person for each case. Ali Larter co-stars as fellow operative, Crystal McGuire, who shares a past with Odun. Steve Harris plays Nelson Gates, the director of the DCO with Rob Mayes and Tina Majorino along for the ride as junior agents.
The pilot drops us right in on the action with Odun undercover with a self-proclaimed militia group planning some home-grown terrorism. The six month operation is nearly blown when the group is attacked by the ATF. However, Odun’s cover identity is later contacted by the remnants of the group offering him the chance to finally make his mark. Of course, things go slightly awry, but the bad guys are ultimately thwarted. Along the way a mysterious stranger drops a bombshell into our hero’s life. Martin Odun may also be a deep cover identity, one so convincing that Odun himself isn’t even aware he’s still playing a role.
“Legends” is the latest in a long line of cool spy shows and occasionally borrows from its predecessors, but is engaging enough all on its own. Howard Gordon (“The X-Files”, “Homeland”) shepherded the story from the printed page to the small screen so right off the bat it is in good hands. The pilot does a fantastic job of clearly and quickly defining each character while keeping the action flowing. We get a good idea how the case of the week will play out while getting some sense of an overarching story that will likely play out over the course of this ten episode first season.
Sean Bean shows off some incredible acting chops in this first episode. His character has an uncanny ability to switch from his own persona to that of his cover identity in a split second and sometimes within the same sentence. Bean is marvelous at this, especially consider the two people he transitions back and forth from have different accents. It’s fascinating watching not only his voice change, but his posture and body language shift as well. He is also excellent at convincing you that he is a man desperate to maintain a relationship with his son even though undercover work keeps interfering with that.
Ali Larter holds her own right alongside Bean and the two share a definite on-screen chemistry, but in a curious way. They obviously click and act like two people who have been closer than friends, but a forced intimate situation in the pilot is undeniably uncomfortable for Odum while McGuire is obviously just playing a role. Basically, Larter and Bean sparkle in every scene they share and it’s great to see how much Larter has grown as an actor since her “Heroes” days. She wasn’t bad then, but has developed a confidence in her acting that is very much needed playing against an actor with Bean’s pedigree.
“Legends” premieres Wednesday, August 13th on TNT, but you can catch the pilot right now on the network’s website. Just like “The Last Ship” this show has a ten episode commitment, but I’m already hoping it, too, will get an early second season nod, if only to see Sean Bean break his streak of playing quickly-killed characters. Ultimately, the main reason I hope it sticks around is that “Legends” holds the promise of being an intelligent and twisty spy show the likes of which we haven’t seen since J. J. Abrmas’ “Alias.” I hope it keeps that promise.
“A Wolf Called Romeo” by Nick Jans
c.2014, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $26.00 / $33.00 Canada 267 pages
Your dog just can’t get enough of “catch.”
Yes, he has plenty of toys, and just picking one up incites a glint-eyed round of the game. Nothing, apparently, is better than snatching something from the air. He’d play til he dropped, if you’d let him.
Some dogs love a ball. Some dogs love squeaky-toys, while others crave complicated playthings. And in the new book “A Wolf Called Romeo” by Nick Jans, some dogs have unusual playmates, too.
Nick Jans was astounded at the size of the pawprints.
They weren’t ordinary, dog-sized prints; these were huge, indicative of a wolf prowling near the city limits of Juneau , Alaska . It was a late afternoon in December 2003 and, though most residents of the Last Frontier “spend a lifetime” without ever spotting a wolf, here one was, almost teasing Jans with its bold presence.
Days later, while walking their dogs, Jans and his wife encountered the wolf. He was full-coated, black, in the prime of his life, tipping the scales near 120 pounds – and before they could stop her, their Lab, Dakotah, dashed out to meet him, and to play. The wolf seemed smitten with the yellow (spayed) dog, a puppy-love that ultimately gave him his name. Though the Janses tried to keep Romeo under wraps, other dog owners also noted throughout that winter that the wolf interacted happily with their pets, too.
From a handful of neighbors, Romeo’s fan club grew. When he returned for a second, then a third winter to the edge of Juneau , so did people who enjoyed his friendliness but often disregarded that he was still a wild animal. That made some Juneauites clamor for the wolf’s removal. Others, believing him a danger, wanted Romeo dead.
But, as Jans noted, fatal wolf attacks are extremely rare. “You have to be… unlucky – right up there with being struck dead by a piece of space junk – to be killed by a wolf.” And so Romeo stayed because “there was no basis for action unless something actually happened. And then it did.”
There’ll be two camps that will read this review: those who love wolves and the natural history behind them, and those who think they’re varmints and want them eradicated. “A Wolf Called Romeo” is for the former type of reader.
And yet, author Nick Jans offers his readers balance: in his basic overview of Canis lupus, he admits that attacks happen and that the presence of a wolf can be problematic; indeed, Romeo reverted to his natural behavior more than once, and may have killed a pet dog or two. Still, what happened to him, the controversy that swirled around him, and the aftermath of his unfortunate death are things that no self-respecting animal lover will want to miss.
In addition to the wolfish tale here, I also enjoyed the travelogue that’s inherent in a story like this. I think that if you love wildlife, if you love nature, or you enjoy spending time outdoors, then “A Wolf Called Romeo” is a book to catch.
Published: Wednesday, August 06, 2014
This time of year always does it to you: you start seeing places to clean.
Any other time, there can be a whole warren of dust bunnies living with you, but that restless last part of summer…? Nope, gotta clean – which leads you to this years’ big discovery: a Christmas bookstore gift certificate that you forgot but that you found.
So what to do with it? You could send it to me.
No, just kidding. Why not use it on any of these great reads:
A forced suicide, a powerful family, and a long-buried secret are at the heart of “What We Lost in the Dark” by Jacquelyn Mitchard. When a young woman with a devastating disease loses her best friend, she knows who forced the girl into suicide. She knows, but what can she do? What can you do but read the latest novel from this beloved author? You might also like “Dirty Copper” by Jim Northrup. It’s the story of a Native American Marine who returns to the Rez after a stint in Vietnam and becomes a lawman. Needless to say, that’s not exactly what his fellow citizens want…
If a little fantasy is to your liking, then try “Killer Frost” by Jennifer Estep. This latest installment of the Mythos Academy features a little bit of romance, a little bit of humor, and a lot of darkness – which will please current fans and make new ones. Yes, you can read this book all by itself, but you’ll be happier with at least one earlier one, to get you a bit more up to speed.
Mystery mavens might enjoy “Rivers to Blood” by Michael Lister. It’s a noir-ish whodunit featuring a unique sleuth with an equally unique tie to crime. Here, he desperately tries to find a maniacal escaped prisoner and a killer with a penchant for cruelty. This is the sixth book with this crime-solving character, so beware: it might propel you to find the other five in this series. And if you’re still looking for your next whodunit, look for “Death Stalks Door County” by Patricia Skalka. It’s a mystery set up North and it’ll keep you guessing, whether you’ve traveled there or not.
If you’re up for something a little different, try “The Newirth Mythology: the Invasion of Heaven by Michael B. Koep. It’s the story of a psychologist who falls from a cliff into the icy drink, and when he comes out of it, his life has changed. Nothing is the same, so he writes it all down for someone else to decipher. It’s part adventure, part fantasy, a bit of mystery, and all fun.
Are you hooked on leaving your status? Can’t get enough of the memes your friends are posting? Then you’ll enjoy “Fakebook: A True Story. Based on Actual Lies” by Dave Cicirelli, a book about a Facebook experiment and what happens when a virtual life separates from the real one. And if that quirky book piques your interest, then you should also look for “A People’s History of the Peculiar” by Nick Belardes. It’s filled with quick-to-read entries about the weird, freaky, and unusual among us.
World War II buffs will surely want to read “Under the Eagle” by Samuel Holiday, Navajo Code Talker, and Robert S. McPherson. It’s the story of Holiday’s life, his childhood, his culture, and his service in the War. This decorated veteran’s tale is one you won’t want to miss…
Are you a Michael Perry fan yet? You will be after you’ve read “From the Top: Brief Transmissions from Tent Show Radio” by Michael Perry. This is a book filled with essays on this and that, a bit about something else, and comments that may make you nod your head in agreement.
If you dream of a different life and are constantly searching for a way to have it, “Ancient Treasures” by Brian Haughton will help you dream. This fascinating book takes a look at riches found by treasure hunters, above ground, underwater, and under the sod. Take a look at this paperback and you’ll never look at a plot of land the same again. Readers who love treasure-hunting may also want to find
“Defending Your Castle” by William Gurstelle. It’s about how you can make your own catapults, moats, bulletproof shields, and other things you might need to protect the treasure you’ll find…
History fans won’t want to miss “Tudor: The Family Story 1437-1603” by Leanda De Lisle. It’s a thick book about Henry and Louis, Thomas Cromwell, Mrs. Henry I through VIII, Elisabeth the first, and her sister Mary. It’s deliciously scandalous, wonderfully detailed, and irresistible, if you’re a British history buff. Along the same lines, Downton Abbey fans will want “Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times” by Lucy Lethbridge.
If you’re an animal lover – the wild kind or the wild-at-heart ones – you’ll enjoy “Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed” by Marc Bekoff. This anthology of quick-to-read chapters takes a look at the emotional lives, friendships, and intelligence that animals possess, and what you can do to observe and preserve it. For skeptics and believers alike, this is an eye-opening, thought-provoking book.
Another interesting book by an author you won’t expect: “Myths of Love” by Dr. Ruth K. Westheimer and Jerome E. Singerman. It’s a book about ancient mythology and what it has to do with love and romance today.
Parents of school-age children might like reading “The Hybrid Tiger: Secrets of the Extraordinary Success of Asian-American Kids” by Quanyu Huang. Mixing parenting advice with anecdotes illustrating the difference in culture and attitude, this book may set your child on a path to success… or it might rile you. Now aren’t you intrigued? Also in the news: look at “Forcing the Spring: Inside the Fight for Marriage Equality” by Jo Becker. It’s a book about same-sex marriage in California and how that battle changed the way the nation looks at an institution.
I was quite fascinated by “Folsom’s 93: The Lives and Crimes of Folsom Prison’s Executed Men” by April Moore. In this book, you’ll read about despicable crimes, horrible murders, and the men who paid for their transgressions with the ultimate punishment. And even though most of these executions happened around 100 years ago, this book will still chill the true crime fan. And if that sounds like a juicy read to you, then look for “Passport to Hell” by Terry Daniels, who spent time in a prison in Spain – five years after being cleared of charges.
So your baby is heading for college in about a years’ time or so. That makes it a great time to check out “The Perfect Score Project” by Debbie Stier, a book about the SATs. How can you UP those numbers? Is there a right way to study for them? Find out by reading this book by a Mom who’s been there, done that. And for the student who’s going into sales after graduation (or even before!), “Ditch the Pitch” by Steve Yastrow is a book that might help him (or her). It’s about a new way of selling, which could be the start of an awesome career.
If you’re itching for hunting season to start (or you mourn that it’s over), then look for “Wingbeats and Heartbeats” by Dave Books. This is a meditation in short bits on life, prey, prayer, and dogs. It’s also a book you’ll want to remember for gift-giving in a few months, too. Still, if hunting season is too far away for your tastes, look for “Wheel Fever” by Jesse J. Gant & Nicholas J. Hoffman. It’s a history-type book about Wisconsin, biking, and our love of the two-wheeler.
If it looks like you’re going to be a caretaker this summer, then you may want to use your gift certificate to find “Happier Endings: A Meditation on Life and Death” by Erica Brown. It’s a book about the end, how to lessen fears of it, and how to make life before it, grander. Another book for a beautiful you, outside, is “Ageless Beauty: The Ultimate Skincare & Makeup Book for Women & Teens of Color” by Alfred Fornay and Yvonne Rose. This book includes step-by-step ideas for using make-up correctly, how to cover flaws, and how to know which cosmetics are right for you. Bonus: it’s easy to use and includes quizzes.
Health care is another issue on the minds of a lot of people – and if you’re one of them, then find “The American Health Care Paradox” by Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor. It’s a book about why the cost of health care is going up but the outcome is, the authors profess, declining. There’s outrage in this book, but there’s hope, too, and that’s something every adult needs to know. Another book to look for – and this one is more for medical professionals – is “Taming Disruptive Behavior” by William “Marty” Martin, PsyD and Phillip Hemphill, PhD. It’s a book about making sure your patients follow along with their own protocol and treatment.
At the end of the day, rest is what you want and you’ll find it inside “Burning the Midnight Oil” by Phil Cousineau, a book of short essays and poems by night owls and lovers of lateness. And if that doesn’t do the trick, then look for “Yoga, Meditation and Spiritual Growth for the African American Community” by Daya Devi-Doolin. It’s a book that can teach you to do yoga (it has pictures!) and gain inner peace.
Of course, you want to take care of yourself this summer, so why not know what’s inside first? “Leonardo’s Foot” by Carol Ann Rinzler takes a look at those things at the end of your legs that help you perambulate. That’s walking, you know. Then, grab “Year of No Sugar” by Eve O. Schaub, a memoir about where sugar is, what it does, and one woman’s quest to see if she could live without it.
If a memoir is more to your liking, try “This is the Story of a Happy Marriage” by Ann Patchett. This book – heartfelt and genuine – gives readers a peek inside the life of a beloved novelist, her family, her thoughts, and her love.
I remember watching “The Great Santini” and then reading the book – or was it the other way around? Anyhow, you can guess how excited I was to see the true story that inspired it, “The Death of Santini” by Pat Conroy. It’s the true story of Conroy’s father, his mother, and the family dynamics that inspired Conroy’s novels (and the movies). Bring tissues. You’ve been warned. For a lighter biography, look for “Romance is My Day Job” by Patience Bloom, a book about editing books about romance, and finding the real thing.
Popular belief says that farms are bucolic and peaceful but that’s not always the case, as you’ll see in “One Hundred and Four Horses” by Mandy Retzlaff. This is the story of a ranch, horses, and the war that separated them all from the land they loved. Horse-lovers won’t be able to put this one down. And speaking of farms, I loved “Chickens in the Road” by Suzanne McMinn, which is the story of a city girl’s new life on a farm – complete with animals and the chores that come with them.
You got a gift certificate, which means you’re undoubtedly a book lover so you might enjoy “The World’s Strongest Librarian” by Josh Hanagarne, a book about an unusual librarian in Salt Lake City and his unusual life. And if this sounds great to you, you might also like “I Forgot to Remember: A Memoir of Amnesia” by Su Meck (with Daniel de Vise), which is a book about injury, coping, and ultimate triumph.
Readers who are interested in The Other Side will also be interested in reading “There’s More to Life Than This” by Theresa Caputo, also known as The Long Island Medium. This book is part memoir, part anecdotal, part new-agey, and every bit as much fun as Caputo’s show.
Your pugilist (or fan of the art) will love reading “Undisputed Truth” by Mike Tyson. This brick of a book is all about Tyson’s life as he sees it, his career, and the men (and women) he’s known. Excuse me for saying it, but this book packs a punch.
Sometimes, a good novel is what you need. And if that’s the case, then look for “Just Between Us” by J.H. Trumble. It’s the story of seventeen-year-old Luke who falls in love with his band tech, Curtis. But does true love ever run smoothly? Not when one of the boys is HIV positive and the other one won’t listen to reason…
A missing mother who harbors a surprise for her grown son is at the heart of “Moving Forward Sideways Like a Crab” by Shani Mootoo. When writer Jonathan Lewis-Adey was just a boy, his mother disappeared. Later, he learns what happens but he doesn’t know the whole truth until much, much later. This book comes from a Canadian publisher; American readers may have to search a little extra for it, but you won’t be sorry.
If time is of the essence – and when isn’t it? – you’ll want to snag “Naming Ceremony” by Chip Livingston. This anthology of short stories and essays takes a look at what we call ourselves within our communities, and how that fits with the people we are and the people we want to be. And at under 200 pages, it won’t take much time to read, either. Pair it up with “In a New Century” by John D’Emilio, a book of essays on queer history and more.
Can you stand another memoir about a gay man who’s HIV-positive? If you can, then you’ll be rewarded by “The Nearness of Others” by David Caron. Caron is HIV-positive, and struggles with many aspects of it: when to reveal it, who to tell, what it’s like to live with it and how to deal with people who still fear it. And if you read Caron’s book, you’ll want to look at “Cured” by Nathalia Holt, a book by a molecular biologist who’s worked in research with HIV patients since the mid-90s.
Can religion mix with a gay lifestyle? Jeff Chu takes a look at that question in “Does Jesus Really Love Me?”, now in paperback. This is a nation-wide search for prayer, protest, and proselytizing; it’s got humor in it, spirituality, and sadness. How could you miss that?
And now, the fine print: some books may have to be ordered from your local bookstore or library. Titles are subject to change. If you need more information, ask your very favorite bookseller and you’ll get scads more information. Really, booksellers are somehow related to Superman. For sure, they Know All.
The Dead, Reincarnated
Dark Star Orchestra brings the thunder back to Long Island
Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995, but his vibe will never die. The Dark Star Orchestra proved that once again at NYCB Theatre at Westbury last night, just as they did a few months ago at The Space in Westbury, and at The Paramount last New Year’s, and at Great South Bay before that, and so forth. To call DSO a cover band is to discount and discredit the sacred geometry of music. The Grateful Dead legacy is built on a series of angular relationships, where the players all connect at shifting angles, dancing in a sonic prism around one fully integrative sun spot – the music. This mandala of sound is there for all those who wish to contribute, and DSO’s alchemy is the next logical step in this endless “search for the sound.”
The Grateful Dead were the very first to acknowledge that their music was not their own. From the beginning, they gave it away for free. The taper mentality has since come full circle, downloading and piracy have sucked the life out of the recording industry. Only live music remains as a viable way to make a living as a musician- and the Dark Star Orchestra has their little niche of the market cornered.
Playing well over 100 shows a year and crisscrossing the map just like “the boys” did for four decades, DSO is re-interpreting the “Great American Songbook” as they fully embrace the reality that they are the authentic “second coming” of the Grateful Dead phenomenon. Some nights they do their own thing, rigging set lists from the Dead’s vast catalogue as they see fit. On other nights, they reach into the annals of history, plucking a specific show from the Dead’s inimitable touring career and replicating it in the sound and style of the time.
On Tuesday at Westbury, DSO went deep, pulling a four hour show from the Dead’s early “space cowboy” period. December 11, 1969 was one of those seminal nights that revealed the first incarnation of the Grateful Dead as a project in dangerous and thrilling transition, where their finger picking roots were starting to morph and meld with the time and space bending psychedelic aesthetic that defined the band as they came to prominence at the height of the Haight.
The song sequence from the show in question featured an eclectic mix of vintage Grateful Dead and lead guitarist (and Long Island native) Jeff Mattson took the packed house on a thrill ride of thunderous proportions throughout. Threading the needle from the subdued spaciness of “Dark Star” into the raucous celebration of “St. Stephen” and on to the serpentine polyrhythmia of “The Eleven,” eventually culminating in the shredded flameouts of white noise that signal the peak of “The Other One,” Mattson channeled the essence of early Garcia and amplified it to epic proportions. When DSO goes after it (which is pretty much all the time) you can’t help but feel Jerry smiling down on the entire proceeding. The magic is in good hands.
The beauty of it all is that DSO has no pretensions (and makes no apologies) about where they come from, what they’re doing and where they’re going. They simply step up, plug in, and play.
The rest is for us to enjoy. And in that humility, they embody the Grateful Dead yet again. They are merely conduits, messengers, musicians in the moment - and nothing more. And with that truism in mind, heart and spirit, they’ll do it all again tonight. For free.
The Dark Star Orchestra plays August 6th, at Tanner Park in Copaigue.
Super Neat Drinking Tweets: Barrage Brewing Company Yada Yada Yada
Published: Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Super Neat Drinking Tweets will attempt to decipher the beer-fueled babblings of Niko Krommydas on Twitter. This activity has replaced his former pastime during solitary late-night (or sunrise) sessions of brewdulgence: indecipherable singing and moshing to Paul Simon’s 1986 album, “Graceland.”
The first Drinking Tweet is traditionally an articulate statement devoid of guff. This is evident in the instance of Niko Krommydas’:
The complexity of Niko Krommydas is unparalleled. He is possibly referring to Snickers, the popular log-shaped, milk chocolate-enrobed candy containing nougat, peanuts, and caramel. If we more-explore to uncover the veritable essence of the Drinking Tweet, however, we can postulate that his beer was not Snickers, an alcohol-less food, but actually Barrage Brewing Company‘s Yada Yada Yada, a Snickers-infused brown ale.
Barrage, which opened in Farmingdale in January, created Yada Yada Yada for a Seinfeld-themed dinner at Morrison’s on May 19. The event featured five courses, each paired with a different beer from the one-barrel brewery.
“We were throwing around ideas of doing one beer based on a food from [Seinfeld]. Food was always a big component,” says Steve Pominski, owner and brewmaster. “We thought about Junior Mints or chocolate bobka, but we settled on Snickers. [’The Pledge Drive’] is one of my favorite episodes.”
“The Pledge Drive” is an episode from the iconic sitcom’s sixth season, which, simultaneous with other absurdly genius storylines, follows a new haute-monde method of Snickers-based consumption. “The Yada Yada,” a classic from the eighth season, furthermore, reveals the inspiration for the beer’s name. Both episodes shape the identity of an ale that, according to Pominski, is a “liquid Snickers bar. Chocolate. Peanuts. Caramel. It’s all there—aromatically and in the taste. It’s literally like someone smashed Snickers bars and liquified them and put them into a glass.”
That “someone” was Pominski. He chopped-smashed nearly five pounds of the candy, adding them to the beer during fermentation. The reception for the first batch was “insane,” he says, so a second batch was brewed and released in July. “People come in specifically for the ‘Snickers beer.’ It has its own life now,” he adds.
Steve Pominski, owner and brewmaster of Barrage Brewing Company. Image: Beer Loves Company
Yada Yada Yada is currently one of eight draft beers available at Barrage, which opened a tasting room with growlers and flights on July 19 (only growlers were filled at the brewery previously). It’s positioned near the entrance and features an oak-topped bar and hair-on cowhide-upholstered stools.
“You don’t have to stand around the brewery and wait for your growler to be filled,” Pominski says. “And a lot of people like to pet the stools. I don’t mind.”
Barrage Brewing Company is open on Friday, 4:30 pm to 8 pm, and Saturday-Sunday, 1pm to 5pm.
Small Business Saving Strategies
There’s a lot of autonomy that goes along with running a small business or being a part of an independent practice such as a law or medical group. But calling the shots also brings with it a fair share of headaches.
Steve Cohen, CFP and chief executive of Port Washington-based Gold Coast Advisors says the two complaints that he most frequently hears from clients in this boat are that they’re paying too much in taxes or want to save more for retirement – usually both.
These may seem like big hurdles to overcome. But the good news is, if you’re running your own business there may be more options at your disposal than you think—and exploring them could mean a significant boost in your retirement savings and a smaller tax bite.
“A lot of people tend to view only the mass market [retirement] solutions…But there are a lot of other strategies out there to sock away more money…If you’re a doctor, lawyer or someone with an independent business, it’s easier to do these strategies than if you were an employee of IBM,” Cohen said.
Most small businesses use some form of an IRA-based retirement plan such as a SIMPLE or SEP IRA, or a defined contribution plan such as a solo or traditional 401(k). While these provide a solid foundation for retirement savings, there are often complementary strategies that small, mid-size and independent businesses can use to enhance savings and tax advantages.
One such strategy that Cohen believes can be highly advantageous - but is often overlooked for smaller businesses - is the good ole pension plan.
While pensions are usually associated with large companies they can actually be set up for any business with one or more employee.
To set up a pension plan, the employer commits to contributing a certain amount of money to the plan and hires an actuary to determine how the plan will be funded for each employee.
The biggest perk of pension plans is that they allow you to contribute much more than any other retirement plan. This translates into a great tax benefit for the business because it can deduct the contributions from income. And for the employee(s), not only are you getting the guarantee of a fixed income stream in the future, but it has the potential to be substantially greater than if you were enrolled in a 401(k) or IRA.
It’s not hard to see how this combo of benefits could be particularly advantageous if you’re running a one-man shop.
To sweeten the deal further, you can couple a pension plan with other retirement plans, which basically allows you to double down on your savings.
If this sounds too good to be true, here’s the downside. Setting up a pension plan can be a lot more labor intensive than other plans and can therefore be much more expensive. That’s why it’s important to do your homework and consult a financial expert before deciding which plans is the right fit.
For a comparison of IRAs, defined contribution plans and pension plans, check out the Department of Labor website.
In addition to standard retirement plans, Cohen said that in some cases annuities may also be a viable option to beef up retirement savings.
There are various types of annuities and they can be structured in countless different ways. But for simplicity sake: an annuity is a product sold by an insurance company that allows you to contribute money (the earnings of which generally grow tax deferred) and in return, receive periodic payouts at some point in the future.
Though annuities have gotten a bum rap for their high expenses, Cohen said, insurance companies have been doing a better job over the last few years and “over the next three to five years they are likely to get some enhancements that will probably make them a bigger piece of the [retirement savings] pie.”
There are also insurance-related strategies that could act as a complement to retirement saving. Whether you’re a good candidate for these, though, will depend on various factors including whether you’ve already maxed out your other options and your cash flow.
For people who are a good fit, Cohen warns: Make sure you buy the right product. Often, he said, insurance companies try to sell retail products to high net worth individuals who don’t know any better.
“People shouldn’t be settling for that…those are products that are off the shelf tend not to have the best features…if an insurance agent is pushing a product, chances are it’s probably not the right decision in general and especially if it’s a high net worth individual.”
“The Last Ship” Avoids Usual Horrific Trappings
As we head into August, we are now roughly a month and a half away from the Fall TV season. As the current season winds down so, too, do the summer programs. One of the breakout hits this year has been TNTs “The Last Ship.” As I indicated in an earlier article, the show got an early renewal a few weeks ago, so you can feel totally confident in catching up on this one before what is sure to be a big finale on August 24th.
“The Last Ship” is based on the book by William Brinkley and shepherded to Television by a few film and TV heavyweights. First of all, executive producer Michael Bay has his mark all over this. Hank Steinberg and Brad Fuller also act as EPs with the former assuming day-to-day showrunning duties. Jonathan Mostow directed the pilot and Jack Bender has filmed several episodes during this ten-episode freshman season. All of this results in heroes who are stalwart, bad guys who are heavy on the bad and victories that are hard-won, yet triumphantly achieved.
The show is set on the U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, the fictional USS Nathan James, commanded by Tom Chandler (Eric Dane). The Nathan James has just completed a radio-silent mission in the Arctic and discovers that nearly half of the world’s population has been wiped out by a global pandemic. As it happens the secret mission involved Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) trying to find a cure to the virus. Ultimately, the ship and its crew must deal with not knowing the fates of their friends and families, but must also contend with refueling and resupplying while avoiding ever-increasing hostile forces and mounting crew frustrations all while helping Dr. Scott find a cure to save humanity with.
While this is definitely a post-apocalyptic series, “The Last Ship” manages to avoid the usual horrific trappings and instead gives us a group of survivors united in hope and committed to saving the world. Each episode is amped up on tension-filled action and fast paced, but also filled with some great character moments. Dane is particularly great as you can fully see the weight and consideration that goes into every difficult command decision that Captain Chandler has to make. Mitra does a fine job playing the increasingly frustrated scientist carrying the survival of the human race on her shoulders. Other standouts include the always irascible Adam Baldwin as Executive Officer Mike Slattery, Travis Van Winkle as LT Danny Green and John Pyper-Ferguson as Tex. Pyper-Ferguson is especially a treat as most of his past roles have been unsavory individuals, but he here is really plays the heart of the show and the pillar of hope. This action-adventure on the high seas is definitely worth your time.
Photo courtesy of Familynet.com
Speaking of oceans, “Nashville” star Hayden Panettiere was spotted wearing Lisa Blue swimwear over the weekend in Miami. Showing off her growing baby belly, Panettiere was seen in the Pin Up Bikini at the beach with her fiancé Wladimir Klitschko. “Nashville” kicks off its third season on September 24 and maybe then we’ll find out if Juliette Barnes will also be pregnant. There were a few things going on in the season finale and we’ll be checking in for season three to see how it all plays out.
Punk, Surf and Redemption in Long Beach
The Long Beach International Film Festival shreds with Radical Rio
Published: Monday, August 04, 2014
I had to go to Rockville Center to attend the Long Beach International Film Festival, but that was my choice. Despite its slightly diffuse geographical arrangements, (things will only get better when the Long Beach movie theater finally makes it back from Sandy) the festival remains an up and comer, with good sponsorship and a strong sense of community. Film is all about relationships, and the LBIFFNY, under the guileless leadership and genuine passion of co-founders Craig Weintraub and Ingrid Dodd, should only continue to grow.
After regrettably missing the “shorts on the beach” programming on Friday night Aug. 1, I took advantage of the subpar weather on Saturday to catch some early afternoon screenings at the state-of-the-art Madison Theater on the campus of Molloy College. When I settled in and the lights went down (oh, that magic feeling!), I remembered that film is also about story and the talent to tell it, and the film I caught answered the bell. Radical Rio is an edgy and well-paced documentary about the rise, fall and rebirth of Dada Figueiredo – the Godfather of Brazilian surfing. I couldn’t help but wonder why a surf film wasn’t showing on the beach. But with its taut narrative set up and dramatic opening vibe, the film swept me away and I let it all go. Ride the wave, indeed.
Radical Rio succinctly chronicles the drastic ups and downs of “Dada” as he’s known worldwide: outcast, iconoclast, rebel, pied piper and ultimate victim of his own success. Dada was a poor kid from the outskirts of Sao Paulo who set the surfing subculture afire in the 70’s with his unique blend of ease, individuality and daring in the water. Out of the water, Dada was just as provocative. He was loud, rude and uncompromising. A fervent subculture quickly developed around him; Dada went from man to myth, and loved/hated every second of it.
As his legend continued to grow and coincide with the explosion of surfer/skater culture in Brazil in the 80’s, and the “corporate fucks and parasites” started to hitch their wagon to his star, Dada abandoned his bag of tricks for an increasingly hardcore image - and lifestyle to match. Whenever “fashion” got close to Dada, he pushed harder and faster towards “anti-fashion,” only to have the masses in the surf world eventually catch up to him again. In trying to outpace his own success, Dada pushed the envelope too far in all the wrong directions, making many friends and more than a few enemies along the way. After a near fatal stabbing fueled by petty revenge left him near death, Dada descended into drug and alcohol abuse, only to find himself again in religion, family and the curl of a wave.
Using a highly kinetic pastiche of archival footage, home movies, animation and first person testimonials, director Raphael Erichsen manages to maintain a tight narrative thread (never easy in doc). He had his editor working overtime and a throbbing surf punk soundtrack matches the feverish look, tone and style of the film. But it’s not all flash, there’s real substance and message in this portrait of an artist.
Ultimately, Dada’s life arc is one of selfish to selfless, from hubris to humility. And when he looks at the camera with eyes that have seen the fire and says quite plainly, “To fall, all it takes is to be standing,” we know he’s talking about more than catching waves.
What does Gluten-Free Actually Mean?
Gluten (Latin for glue), is a protein composite made from the proteins gliadin and glutenin which contributes to the elasticity and chewiness in dough, wheat, barley and rye. A gluten-free diet is the only treatment that has been proven therapeutic for the 1 percent with Celiac Disease (gluten sensitivity) and roughly 6 percent with self-reported gluten intolerance. While reducing the amount of refined carbohydrates in one’s diet can help with weight and sugar levels, adopting a gluten free diet has not been shown to result in health benefits in an average individual.
Top 4 Most Useful Apps for Your Smart Phone
Published: Friday, August 01, 2014
Everyone has their own popular app list. Yes, there’s Facebook, Gmail, YouTube and Instagram. But remember this piece is titled “Most Useful” apps for your Smart Phone. Let’s see if you agree.
We’ve all been there. You’re out to dinner with a group of friends. There was great food, good drinks, desert, coffee and then… the moment of truth… the check.
Of course, big shot Jimmy says, “I’ll get that.” Tony responds, “Come on, you picked it up last time.” Your wife shoots you a glance from across the table so you say, “Wait, I got this.” Everyone smiles and continues talking.
You whip out your smart phone, open your “TipNSplit” app and get started. You enter the total bill amount, toggle through the gratuity percentage field (go ahead, give 20%) and now the best part…You split it by 3! The girls get up and head to the rest room and you proclaim, “OK gentlemen, that’ll be 83.00 each.”
The girls come back, the waiter picks up the check and you’re out of there! No fussing or fighting at the table. Because you’re smart! Or was it your phone?
Pick up the “Tip and Split” app here.
You’ve been behind your desk for hours! Your back is stiff, your legs are asleep and you wish it was time to go home. But just as you’re ready to cash in your chips you remember, that you have the “Pedometer” app on your phone!
You eat a sensible lunch and still have 30 minutes to kill. You lace up your sneakers, grab your headphones, switch on the app and you’re off! The Pedometer app tracks the steps you take, the time you spend walking, the distance you’ve walked and most importantly… the calories you’ve burned! Boy that feels good.
Before you know it you’re back at your desk and ready to take-on the rest of the day. Hey, who knows you may even get noticed by the boss for having that extra spring in your step after lunch. Grab the app here.
I Saw the Light
It’s 2:00am, everyone is sound asleep and… nature calls. Turning on the lights is out of the question. Walking around in the dark and risking a minor toe injury is very possible. But then you remember you downloaded the newest “Flashlight” app for your smart phone. You quietly reach for your phone, switch on the flashlight app and see your way clearly and safely to the bathroom. Once your business is done, you head back to bed—your Flashlight app leading the way—you snuggle back under the sheets. A sigh of relief leaves your body, a smile grows on your face as you discover that no one was disturbed-not even the pooch. You’re so glad you had the app…, oh, and that trip to the bathroom.
Download your own “Flashlight” app here. Hurry!
Lost in the Supermarket?
Ever walk in to the grocery store and say to yourself, “Now, what did I come in here for?”
Well those days are over with a really neat app for your phone called “Out Of Milk”.
This is not your run of the mill list-maker app. Out Of Milk categorizes your list just like a supermarket would. Pantry items, dairy, spices, essentials, etc. And it’s so easy to use. You can type in your items to the search bar, scan the item from your pantry and save it to your list, or just speak into your phone and create the list that way. Add quantity, price and more! Also, you can enter your zip code for location based pricing and sales.
And the most unique feature… let’s say you are at the store and your kids finish the last of the peanut butter. No problem. If your list is synced with the other members of your family once they update their list it automatically appears on yours! Now there’s no excuse to forget the milk (or, um… the peanut butter) with Out Of Milk. Put this one in your cart here.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Aug. 1
A huge meeting took place in New York City this May, and bids from technology companies were due this week, to help turn those vacant phone booths around the city into Free Wi-Fi Kiosks. Turn them into charging stations too and people will never leave!
The World through Instagram Colored Glasses
A new kind of sunglasses that let you see the world as if you just ran your eyes through one of those stock filters on Instagram or Photoshop have been unleased on analog visionaries looking for that digital experience 24/7. They are called Tens and their website asserts, “Tens work with the warmth of the sun to lend an uplifting tint to the world beyond the lens.” Oh, that sounds de-light-ful.
Ford Motor Company dealt a major blow to the makers of BlackBerry devices this week as they have announced they are switching their employees over to iPhones. By early 2015 over 6,000 Ford workers will have the latest iOS gear to play with. The news turned the already troubled company, BlackBerry, green with envy.
2015 Kia K-900 Sedan
Base price: $60,400, $66,400 as tested
Telling most folks your new Kia’s got a sticker upwards of 60 large will result in as big a head-scratch as announcing you paid $100 for a box of mac and cheese. True, the Korean automaker’s made tremendous improvements in quality over the last ten years, but people like me still remember 2002, when my face was pressed up against the plastic vent in my test Optima during a Brooklyn heat wave, the knob turned all the way up and the air conditioner blowing air like an asthmatic chipmunk. The expletives flew and I thought, “This brand is gonna follow Daewoo into the crapper.”
I’ve been happily proven wrong time and again as Kia continues its efforts at self-improvement, but public perception’s another matter. The K-900 is also far, far out ahead of its next lowest-priced car, the $35,000 Cadenza. For now, price aside, the K-900 delivers most of what you want in a luxe vehicle, such as a panoramic sunroof with power-operated shade, full leather interior, 3-zone climate control, nav system with a 9.2-inch display screen, automatic windshield wipers, power closing trunk, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, power rear window sunshade, and real wood trim. It’s got a healthy 420-horsepower, direct-injection 5.0-liter V-8 engine that’s quiet-quiet and an 8-speed automatic transmission you’d never know actually exists - it’s that smooth. The drive is limo-like, if not especially ferocious. A “Sport” mode button sweetens the pot somewhat, but there isn’t any mistaking this ride for a sports sedan - it’s conservative on all sides. Mileage is a feeble 15 MPG in city driving, 23 on the highway.
So why this car, now? A few reasons. Kia wants us to think of it as an upscale brand, to jettison the stubborn “Made In Korea” stigma that plagues any car manufactured within view of the high-powered telescope of the Dear Leader next door. It is, also, a very well-made car, no question. Anthropologically speaking, it will be interesting to follow the K-900 saleswise over the next year and see if folks choose it over its German betters, as the company suggests you do, although its rivals realistically are American, specifically Lincoln and Cadillac. Will the Yanks snap it up? Only time will tell.
Six Tips for Staying Sane when Traveling with Large Groups
Published: Thursday, July 31, 2014
Traveling in packs is fun. Elephants do it. Wolves do it. And my family does it. There is nothing like the joy of being reunited with family from all over the world. But the chaos that ensues when there are too many people with too many plans can be a real headache.
Here are six tips that saved (and could have saved) my family of 13 during our trip to the Caribbean this summer:
1) Split up. The thought of doing this would get me angry. Like, “You mean to say we traveled all this way to do separate things?” Well, I stopped thinking this way when I realized it was a foolproof tactic to keeping everyone happy. By splitting up into groups, people are able to accomplish what they want out of the destination – shopping, rock climbing, dancing, or just relaxing.
2) Be open-minded. Although splitting up the group is an option, there will be moments that call for family time. Not everyone is going to agree to the plans, so it’s important that you remain open-minded to activities others in the group want to do. You never know – you may discover something new about yourself. Be adventurous!
3) Set a meet-up time and location. When the time calls for everyone to get together, it’s important to organize a concise meet-up time and location. Meet for a meal or unwind by the beach! Just arrange your schedules so that everyone can still do activities altogether at least once a day before or after you all disperse and DON’T BE LATE!
4) Switch up your meal orders. Dying to try everything on the menu? Don’t have the entire group order the same entrée across the table. Instead, order different dishes to get the most out of the local cuisine and SHARE!
5) Take pictures with just ONE camera. Time is often wasted at beautiful locations taking endless pictures of, well, the same picture. When your entire group is altogether, use one camera for group pictures and then share it. Your time is too limited on vacation to spend 30 minutes in front of a “Welcome to the Bahamas” sign.
6) Remember that you love your family (or friends). Traveling with large groups can be a pain and accommodating everyone’s wishes is next to impossible. Refrain from whining and pulling your hair out, and remember to make the most out of your time with family and friends. As my wise Auntie Alma told me while on vacation, “We’re not always together.” So spend your time with them wisely.
ABC’s Canadian Import Is Your “Motive” For Tuning into the Network This Summer
There’s a fun summertime Television gem that, according to the ratings, a lot of you are already watching, but many of you may not be. Since I know you wonderful readers are discernible viewers of fine programs, I feel it is my duty to bring this show to your attention. “Motive” airs Wednesday nights on ABC and is a wonderfully put together series. Originally airing in Canada, “Motive” has proven to be quite successful as an import here in the states. Now airing season two, its home network CTV has renewed it for a third season that will, presumably, also air on ABC next summer.
“Motive is a police procedural/drama, but with a twist that sets it apart from most other cop shows. In the vein of the classic series “Columbo”, each episode starts by identifying both the killer and the victim of that week’s crime. Enter Vancouver Detectives Angelika Flynn (Kristin Lehman) and Oscar Vega (Louis Ferreira) who attempt to solve the murder even as we get to see how victim and killer collided through a series of flashbacks. The two lead investigators are aided by Detective Lucas (Brendan Penny) and flirty Medical Examiner Betty Rogers (Lauren Holly).
The series manages to masterfully weave in and out of the main investigation and the informative flashbacks while also adding the occasional personal drama as the character’s personal lives occasionally intersect with their jobs. As an example, the team’s new Commander, Sergeant Mark Cross (Warren Christie), has a shared history and secret with Flynn that slowly unravels over the course of the second season and threatens to ruin both their careers. Additionally, the newly married Lucas strikes up a flirtation with a junior officer before revealing his new bride has left him. Fortunately, the personal shenanigans are subtly handled and don’t detract from the main bit of crime-solving, which is where all the action is at.
In addition to the exceptional writing, the well-thought out cases and the great direction one of the highlights of the show is the chemistry between the two leads, Lehman and Ferreira. It is made clear that single mom Flynn has lived a rather chaotic life and that her partner, Vega, has been there for her more than once over the last few years, both emotionally and as her police partner. The relationship is definitely built as being very close friends without veering into the usual “will they or won’t they” romantic firestorm that most series ignite right away. They are both great detectives and really amazing partners and that’s as far as it goes.
That’s not to say they might not one day end up together as they are clearly also a perfect match, but this is no “Moonlighting.”
Yes, “Motive” is yet another cop show, but it has a unique twist that turns your usual expectations of a procedural on its ear. Discovering how a seemingly unlikely murderer can get to the point of committing such a heinous crime on someone they initially appear to have no contact with never gets old on this show. There are always surprises and the occasional shock, especially when the suspect and victim both hit close to home for our intrepid team in the upcoming season finale. Tune in and get caught up on this excellent show before the end of the season.
Images courtesy of ABC
“Laws of Wrath” by Eriq La Salle
c.2014, 4 Clay Productions Inc., distributed by Ingram $14.95 / higher in Canada 287 pages
Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
One for me, and one for you.
Divvying up candy when you were a kid was an almost-exact science. Everybody had to have an equal amount, and they watched closely to ensure that happened.
One for you, one for me. Even Steven, it’s all the same. But, in the new book “Laws of Wrath” by Eriq La Salle, what’s good for the goose might kill the gander.
Phee Freeman could never forget why his brother left the family.
A.J. was gay, which was something that neither Phee, nor their father, Clay, could accept back then. When Phee and Clay learned the truth, it was as if A.J. had never been born. Phee couldn’t forget that, nor could he forgive himself for shunning his only brother – especially when A.J. was found mutilated and dead.
Naturally, Clay Freeman mourned for his eldest son but as an older man, Clay had seen death before. He’d lost his beloved wife years ago – but prior to that, he’d been on the wrong edge of trouble and the right end of a gun. It wasn’t something he was proud of, but that was all in the past.
Although it wasn’t protocol, when Detective Quincy Cavanaugh was assigned to investigate the murder of A.J. Freeman, he needed his partner by his side. Having been a team for years, he and Phee were known around the NYPD for being the best at solving unusual cases – so when a second mutilated body was found, Cavanaugh knew that this would be one of the strangest cases of all.
Years ago, there were other corpses with similar mutilations, but Dr. Daria Zibik, the person behind those murders, was sitting in prison. She couldn’t have committed these crimes, but Cavanaugh knew that Zibik led a Satanic cult and had prepared someone to take over until her release. It made sense for him to offer Zibik a deal in order to figure out why innocent people were being tortured and killed.
But time was of the essence. A killer was on the loose, and he apparently had the Freeman family in his sights…
There are two things you need to know about “Laws of Wrath.”
First of all, this book screams for an editor and a disabled comma key. Yes, it’s rough, littered with extraneous (and incorrect) punctuation and choppy sentences - both of which are increasingly irritating as the pages fly by.
Which brings me to the second thing: the pages will fly by because, though his story can be quite gruesome at times, author Eriq La Salle gives thriller fans that edge-of-the-seat feeling they crave. There are good guys here that are filled out nicely and criminals who couldn’t be more evil. I was also pleased to note that while I saw some of the ending coming, I didn’t see it all.
And when you ignore its punctuation flaws, “all” is what you’ll get with this otherwise fine thriller. If you want to pick a nail-biter, in fact, “Laws of Wrath” may be one for you.
An Interview with “The Travel Detective”
Peter Greenberg, “The Travel Detective” and the Travel Editor for CBS News, is no doubt a man of the world—who also keeps a foothold on Long Island. I was curious to hear this multiple Emmy-winning investigative reporter’s take on “the island” (Long Island) I know well… about the good and perhaps not so good.
Q. You have a house on Fire Island. Do you have other connections to Long Island?
A. Well, you can’t have a place on Fire Island without being connected to Long Island. Of course, I know Bay Shore very well, because that’s the boat gateway to Fire Island. I do all my shopping on Long Island. I try to fly as much as possible out of McArthur Airport in Islip, which remains New York’s secret airport.
Q. Why Fire Island?
A. My parents brought me there when I was six months old. I spent every summer there growing up. It’s the best possible place for kids—no cars—only bicycles and wagons. And as much as I travel the world (420,000 real air miles a year), I race back to Fire Island every chance I get because it remains for me a wonderful opportunity to relive my youth, my freedom, and my innocence. It’s also the place where I sleep the best.
In his spare time, Peter Greenberg is a volunteer firefighter on Fire Island
Q. The crowded Hamptons aside, why should Americans and foreigners visit Long Island?
A. Yes let’s keep the Hamptons out of it. I prefer to call Fire Island the Hamptons without the attitude! And the best time to go? May, or the magic month of September. And I’m not one of those Memorial Day to Labor Day fair weather folks—I’m on Fire Island from March thru early December. I also do Thanksgiving there each year.
Q. Do you fancy Long Island wine?
A. With my travel schedule, I drink as little as possible, but Long Island Wine has certainly improved in recent years.
Peter Greenberg outside the Westgate Mall during the terrorist attacks in Nairobi, Kenya
Q. What do most travelers not know about Long Island?
A. Most travelers don’t know anything about Long Island. Americans are the most geographically ignorant people on the planet—no surprise when you consider that only about 37-percent of Americans even have a passport. And there’s no guarantee among the 37-percent that do have passports that they have even looked at a map.
Q. I grew up in Garden City (amid Nassau County’s commuters) and my parents later moved to Southold (amid Suffolk County’s vineyards), so I appreciate Long Island’s variety. What advice does The Travel Detective have about visiting there?
A. Forget the Long Island Expressway or the Southern State Parkway. Head east on the Old Sunrise Highway and find main street in every Long Island town. Take your time, and discover a number of great destinations.
Q. Long Island is chided as “Strong Island,” “The Guyland,” and other slags via the likes of a few infamous knuckleheads. How do stereotypes like this impact regional tourism?
A. I understand those stereotypes—and know many of them personally! In fact, without exception, Long Island is the only place where a number of my friends call me “Pete” and I don’t mind—because my long island friends are real.
Peter Greenberg inside the cockpit of an Airbus A320 while filming his public television series The Travel Detective
Peanut Butter Noodles
Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Back in the 80s my father introduced me to “Peanut Butter Noodles” and I never looked back. What is it about the twirly Chinese Pasta with a creamy coating of Peanut Butter Sauce. I know….it’s just plain delicious!! Here we have my version of this lovely authentic treat. Care to know the best part? It gets even tastier the next day chilled in the fridge! YUM!
• 8 ounces lo mein noodles (If you cannot find in your specialty store use spaghetti)
• 1/4 cup smooth reduced-fat peanut butter
• 2 tablespoon honey
• 2 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce (more to taste if you desire)
• 1 tablespoon sesame oil
• 2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
• crushed peanuts for garnish
1.) Cook noodles according to directions. (Rinse with ice cold water to stop the cooking process and keep them firm)
2.) Toss the noodles with the sesame oil to keep them from sticking and in a small bowl whisk together peanut butter, honey, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.
3.) Add the sauce to the drained noodles while still warm and mix all together until thoroughly coated.
4.) Garnish with peanuts and remaining green onion.
Despite A Few Clichés “The Strain” Is Still Delightfully Frightful
When producing a serialized Television series that has a set number of episodes per season you have to be careful to avoid revealing all your information too early while at the same time keeping the audience from feeling like they are being strung along. Sometimes this can be done in a subtle manor, however there are multiple ways to do this that head right into cliché territory. Considering the fast paced production schedule in Television it is very easy to go the cliché route, but most viewers will just see it as a plot point.
To wit, the latest episodes of “The Strain” have used the old chestnut of the character with all the knowledge only imparting small tidbits as he deems the other characters as “not ready for all the information.” It’s serviceable, but just know that when you hear that the writers are using an excuse to play out giving you pertinent information. Also, I scream a little every time it happens. Wouldn’t it be better to give all of the information to the people who not only want to know it, but are also in a position to do something with that info? But I digress.
“The Strain” is certainly a case of the whole being more than the sum of its parts, so these minor indiscretions are easily overlooked. Although, there are many, many exemplary moments on this sure. For example, there is a scene between Professor Setrakian (David Bradley) and the exquisitely evil Eichorst (Richard Sammel) that is basically the two characters sitting across from each other having a conversation. The scene is flawlessly executed by the two actors in a way that carries amazing dramatic tension and is a joy to watch. Similarly, any scene with Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) is weighted with his desperation to extend his life tinged with a slowly dawning realization that he may be making a colossal mistake.
While the quiet scenes add depth it is the boundary-breaking thrills and chills that have quickly given this series a reputation, namely that you really don’t want to be eating while watching an episode. These moments sometimes are tempered by humor, like when Gabriel Bolivar (Jack Kesy) suddenly loses one of his favorite assets with nothing more than a nonchalant shrug. Then there are moments that starkly contrast that like when a transformed character refuses to go gently into that good night at the end of this week’s episode. That harrowing moment is not only brutal and visceral, but also necessary in showing the evolution of our main characters, Eph (Corey Stoll), Jim (Sean Astin) and Nora (Mia Maestro), most specifically that they may be the heroes we need to face the horrors that are coming.
“The Strain” continues to improve each episode and it is very fair to say that next week’s episode blows the lid off of any gore and horror boundaries and absolutely does something that I don’t think has ever been shown on Television. I am very serious that you need to prepare yourself for…well, I don’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say that we get very detailed information on how and what this supposed virus works its mojo on the human body with very visceral words and pictures. Whatever happens next, I have no doubt it will be interesting and unexpected.
Images courtesy of FX Network
Super Saturday - A Haute Hunt For A Cause!
The 17th Annual Super Saturday took place this past Saturday, July 26th at The Nova’s Ark Project in Watermill, NY. Co-hosted by Donna Karen and Kelly Ripa, the shopping event of the season brought famous faces and the fashion forward eagerly awaiting the opportunity to rummage the tents for designer discounted finds with proceeds benefiting the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. The event was produced and exquisitely executed with the help from partners MKG event production and London Misher public relations.
Co-host Kelly Ripa, Beth Stern, Kelly Rutherford, Rachel Zoe and Rodger Berman
The event’s sponsor was Donna Karan New York in tandem with presenting sponsor QVC. Broadcasting live through the duration of the event; national viewers had the ability to purchase the trending designer items from the comfort of home. At this present time, QVC Presents Super Saturday LIVE has successfully delivered more than $7.4 million in past funds benefiting The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
The Super Saturday Garage Sale Tent was filled with seven rows of high-end to contemporary designer participants such as Club Monaco, Henry Bendel, Intermix, Helmut Lang, J Brand, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Theory, and Diane Von Furstenberg to name a few. The event also newly showcased a booth featuring emerging designers such as Ariana Rockefeller, Time’s Arrow, KAELEN, and Ralph Leroy all of whom are ready to take the industry by storm. Some familiar east end faces were also seen trying their hand a lady luck at the Super Saturday raffle booth in hopes of winning prizes from lust-over-labels Manolo Blahnik, Lorraine Schwartz, Dolce & Gabbana and Barney’s New York.
Famed celebrity stylist to the stars, Rachel Zoe featured a Designer from A to Zoe tent, which showcased a compilation of clothing, and accessories from designers Proenza Schouler, Oscar De La Renta, J.Mendel and Stella McCartney. Cameron Silver, founder of Decades, Inc. also supported the cause with a carefully curated array of vintage clothing and accessories at Cameron’s Corner. Additional event activities included a PRIV braid bar, Rolls-Royce photo booth and complimentary psychic readings with Betsy Wahmann.
Guests took a break from the haute hunt for a cause to dine on the delicate delights from favored eatery Sant Ambroeus while sipping on Simply Super Saturday Cocktails infused with Smirnoff Lemon and Raspberry Pomegranate Sorbet Light. Like many summers past, Super Saturday maintained the tradition of remaining a genuine family affair. Celebrity guests took their children from the welcoming red carpet to the kids’ carnival where they had the opportunity to enjoy rides, arcade games and the Stitched Fashion Camp developed by Fashion Designer Rob Younkers and the notable editor-in-chief Joe Zee. Last year, Super Saturday raised close to $3.7 million dollars for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. The tone of this year’s event sparked speculation of a similar return beginning with the generosity of designers and style participants and continued with the exit of bags filled.
What is the Most Effective and Sustainable Way to Lose Weight?
Published: Monday, July 28, 2014
Exercise alone is an ineffective way to lose weight. Careful diet and nutrition alone is an effective way to lose weight. Diet and exercise combined is the most effective way to lose weight.
If you are exercising on a daily basis but not taking steps to eat foods that can help you lose weight, you will be healthier but you won’t necessarily shed the pounds. It’s very difficult to out-exercise a poor diet. On the other hand, if you are adopting a diet that you find works for your body and don’t have time to hit the gym as often as you’d like, over time, you will lose weight. The most effective and sustainable weight loss method is a pattern of exercising and dieting simultaneously.
Ferocious, Great-Looking 2-Door Roadster Packs a Wallop
2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 convertible: MSRP: $57,650
Published: Friday, July 25, 2014
Who needs to stop at the coffee shop when you’ve got this angry little pistol? The Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 convertible may not fit the bill for big and tall motorists – that’s why Goddess made Mustang floptops – but its 3.5 liter, 6-cylinder, 7-speed transmission seems King Kong- sized and it’ll get your heart rate up and your eyes bulging better than your morning cawfee. I carved corners, stepped on it when the coast was clear, spun the car’s racy flat-bottom steering wheel left and right to my heart’s content and dug its 11-speaker, 500-wattharman/kardon surround sound system through a blissful week’s test. It was the summer of Auto Gigolo.
The SLK-350 comes with three different engines – a 4-cylinder turbo, a V-8 and my tester, the aforementioned V-6. The list of SLK optional goodies is long and luxurious, but smart-looking 18-inch wheels, fine interior wood trim, LED daytime running lamps, adaptive bi-xenon headlamps, heated seats, keyless start, leather seats, 8-way power sports seats all come with. You’ll also love the 302 horsepower engine mated to a standard 7-speed automatic gearbox with staggered wheels and tires, combining the premium package, Logic7 surround sound, satellite radio and the Airscarf neck-warming system at no extra cost.
Safety-wise, the SLK comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, 10 airbags, active headrests, aluminum roll bars behind those headrests and a plethora of computer-driven safety systems, including a driver-drowsiness monitor. It also comes with the mbrace2 safety telematics suite, connecting your car, computer and/or compatible smartphone to both cloud-based and GPS technology, enhancing emergency response times and the like. Watch where you’re going anyway, please.
Will you be revving the SLK 350 through a snowstorm, helping a pal move a pool table, or lugging a set of drums to a gig? No. But that’s not the point when your top comes down in a mere 20 seconds and you’ve got crisp metallic trim on your gauges, controls and air vents reminiscent of Benz’s SLS AMG supercar. This is a here-now car – or, rather, here and gone.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: July 25
Berlin Based start-up, “TapTalk” is looking to give the photo messaging app “SnapChat” a run for its money! Although @taptalkme is still working out some bugs, the format of sending pictures and text messages that self-destruct moments after they are sent doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
The N.S.A. is D.O.A.?
Former Systems Administrator and now famous Whistle Blower Edward Snowden put the call out to all coders and developers to help find ways to beat the N.S.A. at their own game. Snowden advised attendees at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) Conference last weekend to focus on developing new ways to mask or encrypt communication across the internet and beyond.
They can put a Man on the Moon…
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first moon walk, NASA just uploaded a re-mastered version of the original three-hour television broadcast to their YouTube page. The footage is choppy and a bit slow for younger audiences, but adults will revel in the fond memories of that day.
I “Like” to Shop!
Facebook announced it is to begin testing a new “Buy” button. Local business with a budget and big brands will benefit significantly as they will then be able to offer their Facebook fans and news feed subscribers the ability to purchase products without leaving the cozy confines of their Facebook account. Now all they need is consumers with disposable income.
See you next week!
Get intimate with 3 Doors Down Tuesday at The Space at Westbury
Image: Daren Searcy
Well I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind
I left my body lying somewhere in the sands of time
But I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
I feel there is nothing I can do
In the nineties, 3 Doors Down drew crowds from the Deep South of its native Mississippi to New York’s (now defunct) CBGB’s. The early 2000s brought post-grunge mega hits like “Kryptonite,” “When I’m Gone” and the ballad “Here Without You.” Their latest studio release, 2011’s Time of My Life, debuted at number 3 on the Billboard charts. Then they released The Greatest Hits in 2012, which included nine remixed number ones and three new songs, including “One Light.” Having sold over 20 million albums worldwide since the start of their career, the alt-rockers are working on a new album set for release in 2015.
3 Doors Down has been getting good feedback on the three new songs they’ve completed from the upcoming record: rocker “You Better Believe It,” the Latin-infused “I Don’t Want to Know” and the reflective “Pieces of Me.” Frontman Brad Arnold recently said this about the upcoming record: “I want it to be fun and have some substance to it. I think people are done with songs that are so serious. I think we got that out of our system in the late 90s and 2000s.”
The quintet has played Jones Beach and they sold out The Paramount in Huntington last year. Now you can catch 3 Doors Down: vocalist Brad Arnold, lead guitarist Chris Henderson, drummer Greg Upchurch, guitarist Chet Roberts and bassist Justin Biltonen —in an intimate setting when they bring their acoustic tour, Songs from the Basement, to the Space at Westbury on Tuesday, July 29th. Expect to hear the hits, some deep cuts from their catalog and some surprises. And check out opener Amy LaVere, an Americana singer/songwriter/upright bassist from Tennessee.
The Cracks Grow Larger “Under the Dome”
It’s time to catch up on how the citizens of Chester’s Mill are faring “Under the Dome.” So far this season we’ve lost two main characters, gained some really mysterious and menacing new ones and have seen the titular Dome (or whoever is behind it) crank up the crazy. Oh, and we’ve also seen that an often spoken about and long thought dead character is still very much alive and watching our little town of mayhem from outside the invisible barrier. At this point, “Under the Down” has really mastered the tight-rope walk of answering questions while raising others. It is also very good at juggling storylines.
This week we finally get some answers about the mysterious Melanie Cross (Grace Victoria Cox). It turns out that Melanie died many years ago. It also appears that she was BFFs with the also deceased wife of Big Jim (Dean Norris) and mother of Junior (Alexander Koch), Pauline (played in the present day by Sherrie Stringfield). The two girls were high school sweethearts with two boys relevant to our storyline; Pauline with Lyle (Dwight Yoakam) and Melanie with Pauline’s brother Sam (Eddie Cahill). The four of them came across a fallen meteorite one night that contained the egg that seems to be linked to the Dome. After picking up the egg, Melanie was pushed by someone soon to be suspected by episode’s end which resulted in her death. The next thing she knew she was in the middle of the lake where Julia (Rachel Lefevre) threw the egg at the end of season one. It’s a little more straightforward than it sounds.
Meanwhile, Julia has had her faith in Barbie (Mike Vogel) shaken now that he’s agreed to consider Big Jim and Rebecca’s (Karla Crome) plan to conserve the scant resources they have left. Julia and Sam snoop around to try and figure out exactly how science teacher Rebecca plans to cull the herd, the herd being their fellow citizens. I really liked the story of the new dynamic duo discovering what the plan is paralleled with Rebecca and Jim attempting to poison the well in a very real sense. Ultimately, the latter pair discover they just can’t do it, but not before creating some serious trust issues between everyone’s favorite lovebirds, Julia and Barbie. Julia decides to seek solace in Sam. Yes, the same Sam who claimed not to recognize Melanie at the start of the season, even though she looked exactly the same as when she died 25 years ago in front of him. The same Sam who is hiding scratch marks that seem to correspond with ones that Angie would have made on her would-be murderer.
During a surprising and brief moment when the school’s computers suddenly receive outside wifi traffic Junior gets an email from his very much alive mother. Pauline pleads with him to talk to Lyle, which he reluctantly does. Turns out that Lyle helped Pauline fake her death as she seemed to know the Dome was coming and fled town hoping to spare her friends and family an isolated fate. She also sent Lyle a series of postcards containing paintings of not only portents of the Dome, but events that have transpired since it came down. It’s still unknown how she foresaw all of this, but I’m pretty sure it has something to do with that meteorite. Besides, Lyle seems a little off and Sam may not be all there, either so something else must have happened that fateful night other than a tragic death.
So, there we have it, an episode full of answers and shifting dynamics that leads us a little closer to unravelling the mystery, but with a long road still to travel. One thing the second season has certainly done is open up the world around the town to not just outside the Dome, but into the shady past of Chester’s Mill. The overall feeling may be kind of like if the characters from “Lost” wandered onto the set of “General Hospital,” but it totally works and makes for some fiendishly fun Television. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Ranking the off-season transactions
Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Get ready, Islanders fans, because the final season at the Coliseum is coming. This is an important season for your Orange & Blue, whether you like it or not. Don’t expect a Stanley Cup, but if the hockey gods are listening, a post-season appearance with one last go in the old barn would be pretty special.
It hasn’t been a quiet off-season by any means. Rumor after rumor has surfaced about Garth Snow offering contracts to just about every big name free agent on the market. Each of those free agents declined the offers, of course.
But Snow has brought in some depth, and filled some core areas heading into the 2014-2015 campaign.
The top acquisitions of the Isles this off-season:
1. May 22, Isles ink Jaroslav Halak: After acquiring Halak from the Capitals for a fourth-round pick in this year’s NHL Draft, they signed the veteran goalie to a four-year deal three weeks later. This solidifies a major hole for the franchise. Evgeni Nabokov was good during his brief stint, but Halak adds a younger and stronger option. His No. 41 Islanders jerseys are already on sale (see photo above).
2. July 2, Isles ink Mikhail Grabovski: Like Halak, Grabovski brings a proven record and he signed a four-year deal. He’s only 30 and has 425 career NHL games under his belt. Last season he scored 35 points in just 58 games with Washington. In 2010-2011, he had 29 goals and 58 points for Toronto.
3. July 2, Isles ink Nikolai Kulemin: This signing is a lot like Grabovski. Kulemin adds depth of a similar proportion. An Olympian for Team Russia, he has played in 421 career NHL games and is a one-time 30-goal scorer for Toronto (2010-2011). He played the last six seasons in Toronto and scored 20 points.
4. July 1, Isles ink T.J. Brennan: They didn’t get an NHL veteran as a defenseman, but they did get a highly touted prospect. T.J. Brennan won the Eddie Shore Award as the best defenseman in the American Hockey League last season, while with Toronto’s affiliate. He scored 25 goals and had 72 assists in the minors. The upside is huge.
5. July 1, Isles ink Cory Conacher: He had 26 points last season with Ottawa and Buffalo. The interesting note about Conacher is that he was the MVP of the AHL in 2011-2012 with Norfolk. Again, this is more of an upside move and not someone who is proven.
6. July 1, Isles ink Chad Johnson: Halak’s backup is very formidable. He was 17-4-3 last season in 27 games with Boston. He ranked sixth in the NHL last year in both goals against average and save percentage.
I know what you’re going to say. Who are these guys? Besides Halak, not many jump off the page at you. It’s depth, but not the star-studded veteran brand you’d like.
I’m beginning to come around to the thought that Snow is doing all he can with what he has. He offers contracts. He went after big names – Vanek, anyone – and was able to sign pieces that could pay off, but we’ll have to wait and see.
“North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both”
c.2014, Harper $25.99 / $32.99 Canada 339 pages
Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
You stopped in the store the other day, and stopped short.
In all its electric-colored glory, tie-dye is back. Or maybe it never left, just passed down by Baby Boomers like you who also loved groovy music, an everybody-helps-everybody mentality, and how wonderfully carefree that felt.
Ah, the good ol’ days… or were they? For author Cea Sunrise Person, the answer was “no” for years, but in her new memoir “North of Normal,” she explains how she made peace with it.
Cea Sunrise Person’s grandfather was more at home in nature than he was anywhere else. He’d always wanted to live in the outdoors and so, shortly after he came home from Korea , he took his new bride to live in the wilderness.
In about the mid-60s, the family (including three girls and a boy) moved to Wyoming , then to California where they fit in perfectly: they’d already embraced the emerging counter-culture, so “pot smoking, nude cookouts, and philosophical discussions” were easy additions. Their home soon became known as a clothing-optional place to hang out and score drugs, and “the parents were always totally groovy with it all.”
Not-so-groovy: Person’s mother was sixteen when she became pregnant. She married the boy but they parted before their baby was born, so Person’s first home was a drafty shack in the British Columbia woods.
Later, when she was a toddler, the family moved into a tipi on Indian land where she recalls the freedom of an idyllic childhood spent on chores, pretending, and running through meadow, woods, and water.
But that, too, would end: when Person was five, her mother met a man who whisked them away to a life of tent-living, theft, and things little girls shouldn’t see. By the time she was thirteen, Person had enough of the “misfits,” so she lied about her age, left family behind, and started a surprising career – though she still wondered why they couldn’t seem to be “normal.”
Twenty-five years later, broke and twice-divorced, she finally learned the truth.
As a tail-end Baby Boomer, I was really excited to start “North of Normal.” Would author Cea Sunrise Person’s recollections be ones that I shared, too?
No. Not even remotely, which just made this book more enjoyable.
Through memories of her own and that of her mother’s family, Person tells what it was like to be raised by an unconventional hippie mom who did her best but was, herself, a product of the times. That alone would be a far-out tale, but the way it’s told makes this a book to read: Person is a gifted storyteller, and that snatched me up from the first paragraph. I also was fascinated by her voice, as it changed with the age she was as she remembered.
Beware that this coming-of-age memoir contains explicit language, but it fits with what you’ll read. Yes, it might make you wince but you’ll be so engrossed in the tale that you might not even notice. For you, that’s a hint of what “North or Normal ” has in store…
Legendary Sportscaster Bob Wolff Makes Guinness Book of World Records
Published: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Just when you thought Bob Wolff couldn’t do anything more impressive in a career that has seen one remarkable moment after another, the legendary Long Island sportscaster earned his way into the Guinness Book of World Records for the second time.
He now has the “longest career as a broadcaster.” Wolff’s record was certified during a special pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium in the spring. He also holds the world record for “longest career as sportscaster.”
This is a man used to recognition for his work. He’s enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the National Basketball Hall of Fame; the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame and the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. He has won countless Emmy Awards and the TV Ace Award.
Wolff, 93, is in his 75th year as a broadcaster. He is the only sportscaster to call a World Series, NBA Final, Stanley Cup Final and Super Bowl. He had the play-by-play call for Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1955 and the 1958 NFL Championship game between New York and Baltimore, dubbed “the greatest football game ever played.”
Wolff, who is old enough to have interviewed Babe Ruth, has been broadcasting sports news on News 12 for the last 28 years.
“Bob Wolff is a true broadcasting pioneer,” Guinness World Records Official Mike Janela said in a statement. “His career embodies longevity and versatility, and we’re honored to recognize this special achievement in the Bronx, where he called some of his most amazing moments.”
“Extant” Dishes Up Satisfying Seconds
When a new series premieres it is usually expected, or at least hoped, that a whole lot of people will show up for that first episode and it is equally hoped that everyone will like what they see enough to come back each subsequent week. Typically more time, money and focus is given to the “pilot” episode as quite a lot needs to be accomplished. The premise, characters and central conflict all need to be introduced and firmly established within an hour, sometimes two, and be done in a way that provides all necessary information while being entertaining to the widest possible range of viewers. However, despite the crucial importance of the premiere, it is perhaps the second episode of a series that ultimately proves the most decisive. Is the hot new debut a one-trick pony or compelling enough to sustain an audience for multiple episodes or seasons? That can usually be answered by episode two.
“Extant” is a prime target for this second-hour analysis. As previously discussed, this sci-fi drama was heavily promoted and packed with a super-star cast and high concept story. The premiere was well-balanced, providing the right amount of exposition and thrills while kicking off the long-term mysteries. But how do things hold up the following week? Quite well as it turns out. Not only are we reminded of the two main stories, but we actually get plot progression with a side of character development to boot. The central mystery of Molly Woods’ (Halle Berry) spectral visitation on a solo space mission and her subsequent unexplainable pregnancy gets a bit of a twist. Her once-thought dead old colleague, Harmon Kryger (Brad Beyer), reveals that he was also visited by the deceased on his own space mission. There is also some concern that Molly may be carrying something otherworldly, but a sonogram seemingly puts those fears to rest.
The other central story, that of the human-directed android evolution by Molly’s husband, John (Goran Visnjic), also moved forward. John and his team settle into their new, state-the-art lab provided by new benefactor Hideki Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada). Not only are we shown that the team can constantly monitor John and Molly’s artificial son, Ethan (Pierce Gagnon), but we also discover how an unreal boy can grow up as Ethan is show his new, larger body parts. Molly’s desire to keep her condition a secret between herself and her doctor, Sam (Camryn Manheim), also threatens her wedded bliss while adding a layer of complexity with her son. Along the way we also discover a secret or two about not only Yasumoto, but also Molly’s boss, Alan (Michael O’Neill). All in all this is a compelling second episode that successfully enriches the story and characters. The ratings dropped a little, but not significantly to warrant any concern just yet. Besides, in the day and age of streaming and DVRs, I would expect that those numbers will probably be adjusted upwards once everything is tallied.
Speaking of ratings and most specifically how they have a bearing on a show’s longevity, I think it’s worth mentioning that the Michael Bay produced “The Last Ship” was just renewed for a second season after airing five episodes. Despite Bay’s name being attached to this project and the moderate loathing of his films, this show has garnered a very favorable response and its episodes thus far have been highly regarded. Although Bay is listed as a stakeholder in name only, you can really see his influence on “The Last Ship.” It is very pro-military and the heroes are forged from tempered steel and always figure out how to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. It’s also really great fun. Check it out if you aren’t already.
Don’t Be Afraid of Coconut Oil
Published: Monday, July 21, 2014
Don’t be afraid of coconut oil even though it is high in saturated fat. This oil contains medium chain fatty acids which are absorbed directly into the bloodstream and have been associated with higher HDL (good cholesterol) and decreased body fat. Virgin coconut oil contains no alteration of the oil during production so it retains the beneficial profile.
Elegant, Smartly-Designed Sedan Delivers Comfort, Speed
2014 Infiniti Q70 Sedan
Published: Friday, July 18, 2014
Infiniti doesn’t make a bad car, and the Q70 continues the company’s skill at providing upscale comfort, smart looks, speed when necessary and the latest in technology. The only odd thing about the Q70 is that it was known as the FX until this year’s name change. Ditto almost all Infiniti’s new models now sporting different monikers, none of which seem to have anything to do with anything. The newly-named QX-60, QX-80, Q40 and Q70 all sound like something you’d buy to loosen a bolt or stop a hinge from squeaking.
That said, the Q70 was a lot of fun over a week’s test. Its strongest suit is its appearance, with signature left/right hood bulges implying authority and power. The base model comes with a V6 and a more powerful V8 engine is also available for those wanting more blast-off and passing power. A seven-speed automatic transmission comes standard and it’s reasonably smooth, though quickly finding gears can be challenging when doing the drive-reverse-drive-reverse parallel parking tango. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg city/highway, typical for this class. Whether V6 or V8, though, nimble handling and precise steering make this a fun summertime whip.
The inside is plush and comfy, with all the high-quality materials one demands in this class. There isn’t a whole lot of trunk or backseat room, but the driver gets a cushy ride, so maybe this is the car you buy when you want solo time. Standard features also include an 11-speaker Bose stereo system, Bluetooth phone connectivity, dual-zone automatic climate control and a backup camera. Spring for options and you can get a voice-activated navigation system, heated and cooled front seats and an Around View Monitor camera system. Distance Control Technology and Intelligent Cruise Control help you avoid bashing others. Exclusive VVEL®technology continually tunes valve lift and timing to give quicker engine response and a broader torque curve with enhanced economy.
There are other vehicles of varying charms and demerits in this class and price range, of course. But if you’re already an Infiniti fan, the Q70 will wow you.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup
Fast Friday Tech Roundup
I Can’t Quit You
Are you addicted to your iPhone? A new app called “Moment” is here to help! You set the amount of time you want to spend per day playing games or checking your email and when you reach that limit (or close to it) your phone sends you a notification reminding you that there are more important things on your to-do list.
She Works Hard for the Money
Former Google executive Marissa Mayer, now President and CEO of Yahoo just can’t seem to nudge her way into Google and Facebook’s arena. Yahoo, despite Marissa’s best efforts to purchase and broadcast exclusive content, has seen a 3% decline in revenue. How long till we say Yah-Who?
Wouldn’t you love to control the lights, heat and alarm system to your home - even when you’re away from home!?! Then NAPCO Security’s iBridge™ Connected Home may be for you. This new home services app gives you control over these items and more directly from your smartphone, tablet or computer. And the best part…? It’s manufactured right here on Long Island!
If you’re constantly searching for the nearest outlet to charge your favorite mobile device now all you need is the Zagg Sparq Portable Battery and Wall Adapter. It comes with a built in prongs, so there is no need for an external charging cable and it will power your cell phone or tablet multiple times! Just don’t forget to charge… um, your charger!
See you next week!
Studio: The Naturally Virtual Realm of Roz Dimon
Roz Dimon has what many might consider to be the luxury of making art from a secluded space surrounded by natural beauty. At her studio situated on the same bucolic property as her home on Shelter Island, Dimon looks out over an expanse of garden that abuts a nature preserve. Daily visitors include deer, rabbits, and birds, the last finding nourishment at several feeders hoisted in the tree outside the glass sliding door of her studio.
Exterior of Roz Dimon’s studio with bird feeders
Her surroundings, however, don’t seem to impact and are generally not reflected in what she creates. Not only is her subject matter usually about man-made objects and not the natural world, Dimon has been creating her work over the last two decades exclusively on the computer, that window onto a virtual world.
Using a Wacom tablet with her computer, Dimon makes digital paintings and drawings, many with socio-political content, most lately representing everyday things like cutlery or pencils in subtle tones of black, white, and gray. With these, the artist makes reference to her mixed media work from the 90s representing common supermarket items like a Pepto-Bismol bottle or a jar of Grey Poupon.
In these feverishly rendered 20th Century Artifacts the artist, who has a B.F.A. in Drawing and Painting from the University of Georgia, exhibits a personal Pop style not just in her use of familiar commercial items. In addition to the graphic quality of the nervous lines and bold colors she employs, Dimon scrawls words, such as “Shit No Longer” in Pepto Bismol (1997), or “Seeing Clean” and “Seeing thru bullshit” in Windex (1996). There’s a street-savvy edge to these works and they’re in all senses fun, fresh, and critical of our materialistic consumer society.
The artist’s tools, including the Wacom tablet
Dimon’s early essay into a digital realm came in the 80s. In the beginning of that decade she started her Information Paintings and wondered at the “pixilation” of her compositions. These works and the earlier Wall Street Boys are highly patterned, composed of multiple visual layers and small squares that one could consider as pre-digital picture elements.
In 1984, Dimon began studies in Computer Arts at the School of Visual Arts, New York and officially embarked on her exploration and application of digital media. While she did not entirely abandon traditional modes of painting and drawing, the late 80s and early 90s found her making digital paintings. One dense urban representation, Lost in a City of Dreams (1990), is in the permanent collection of AT&T.
The Hutto, 2014, digital drawing on rag paper,
Digital has had a seemingly inexorable appeal for Dimon. She has been known to settle into life drawing sessions with this relatively unusual (and misunderstood) artistic tool, to create simple, dynamic nudes. Today, when most everyone knows what Photoshop is, but may resist its non-traditional application, she continues drawing on her tablet, refining her expression and certainly able to do many more things than were possible in previous decades of computer art.
Seeking to cope with September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, where she had worked for many years, Dimon was led to study religious iconography and icon painting, with a resulting work holding pride of place in a corner of her studio. This experience brought her to the intricately layered, multi-dimensional works titled DIMONscapes, such as Pale Male. Two editions of this work were acquired by the 9/11 Memorial Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively.
At her studio, in addition to the usual assortment of finished work, sketches, clippings, notes, and images for inspiration, Dimon has a collection of objects piled around, ready for use in a drawing. Friends are known to leave things like tennis rackets and golf clubs for her to portray. Often, the objects have some meaning, sentimental value, or association, so that they become like portraits of their owners.
While the majority of these objects might seem inoffensive, closer observation of selected pieces (knife, razor, arrow, even the safety pin) and an evaluation of the series on whole may render them potential weapons. This is a direction Dimon admits she has been leading to in her choice of objects, always at the ready to make a statement on potentially contentious topics, though it will always be expressed in an eloquently poetic, sometimes humorous, manner.
Inside the studio, an assortment of clippings, sketches, materials, and objects, including an icon painting by the artist
The upcoming exhibition Artifacts II at the Havens House Barn of the Shelter Island Historical Society, will feature several of these digital drawings. Small- and large-scale prints on rag paper incorporate the selection, including Safety-Lost (2013) and The Hutto (2014). Some will be presented in a 60 x 30-inch size that is sure to impact; all the better to see the details that compose these intriguing drawings.
The exhibition will have an opening reception on Saturday 26th July, from 4 to 7pm, and is on view the week of the 21st to the 29th July, noon to 5pm, or by appointment (917-406-2657). A percentage of sales will be donated to The Shelter Island Historical Society.
The work will already be on display during the 2nd Annual Black & White Benefit on Saturday 19th July, 6 to 8pm, though ticket reservations for this event are required.
The Havens House Barn of the Shelter Island Historical Society is located at 16 South Ferry Road, Shelter Island.
Bright colors make women go on automatic cringe. However, have you pre-judged?
Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014
Have you ever had fun playing with crazy colors that you would never wear and then when you tried it, you loved it? If you haven’t don’t judge! Makeup should be fun and help you learn something new about yourself. How do I know? I see it every day as a makeup artist when I get women to come out of their comfort zones. You’ll always catch me making a women sexier, guilty. Turn it up the heat by using attitude enhancing tones.
A lack of oxygen is the primary reason for purple lips and that’s not pretty or fun. Yet, an intentional purple kisser, using a manmade more “life like” hue, can turn up the drama and add a sexy distinct and new style to your persona portfolio. Purple tones vary from lilac to deep berry and everyone can find their perfect color.
Tip: The most efficient method to choose a lip color is to give it a try because lips colors are personal. If you are instantly obsessed, wear it. If you are not, move on. That goes for any lip color.
GlamorousChicks “High Class” Lightweight Lipstick
Orange blush may have you thinking crazy cat lady. Do not discriminate a bright and different choice for cheeks. Just a dusting will give you a new look. If you’re cool in tone it will warm you up. For women of color it provides the pop enhancement you want but so hard to find, it will not disappear or disappoint.
Side Story: I met a makeup artist while shopping in Manhattan, she purchased this color and uses it religiously. We got into a conversation and it turns out she was in town from the UK working nearby on a movie set in SOHO and the star of the film had deep ebony skin. She never divulged her identity unfortunately.
NARS “Exhibit A” Cult Classic Blush
Remember one thing when it comes to makeup. You wear it, the makeup does not wear you. I know for a fact that cosmetics are habitual and habits are hard to break. That will never stop me attempting to change your cosmetic behaviors you have become so accustomed to. Once in a while I get one so I continue to show women how to come out of the box discover the inner sexy. Give a wild color a go and always have fun while exploring new looks.
A Farewell to Arms: “24” Clocks Its Final Moment…But Is It Really the End?
SPOILER WARNING: The ending to “24: Live Another Day” is heavily discussed. Here there be spoilers!
This week we bid a fond, bittersweet farewell to one Jack Bauer. Again. “24: Live Another Day” has clicked out its final minute and we are left with, well, yet another cliffhanger. Whether it’s a sign that more episodes are possible or a nod to the durability of Kiefer Sutherland’s iconic role, Bauer is once again rides off into the horizon, albeit as a prisoner of the Russians. Yet, oddly, we the audience feel as much at peace as he appears to be in the closing minutes. After all, Jack Bauer has not only endured, but has handily escaped from far worse situations many, many times before this. It almost feels like he’s taking a vacation before the next inevitable call to once again save us all.
It’s hard to remember life before “24” and the bombastic digital clock that is now ingrained in popular culture. Even more surprising is the realization that we first met jack Bauer barely two months after the earth-shattering events of 9-11. It’s doubtful that “24” would have caught on as well as it did if it had debuted a year or two earlier, but at that moment in time Jack Bauer was exactly the kind of hero we all needed to distract us from such a shocking moment. It may seem absurd to describe a Television show in such a way, but those of us that were there at the beginning will understand.
Against odds that our hero would frequently face, “24” continued through 8 seasons. The show even survived a Writer’s Guild strike that felled many other series. At the time, it seemed as if the clock had metaphorically run out for Jack Bauer even as the physical clock abruptly counted down to a series-ending 00:00:00. Many viewers and critics even expressed the opinion that perhaps the creative clock had run out well before that. We left Jack in as uncertain fate as ever, but there seemed to be a common relief that it was all over and we could move on to something else.
Yet here we are, four years later once again simultaneously relishing and dreading each minute that ticked by on the screen. Relishing because, let’s face it, we missed Jack Bauer and soaked up each new episode we got. Dreading because each minute was one more closer to having to say goodbye again. With only twelve episodes this time around the final moments were that much more heart wrenching. That last goodbye between Jack and his best friend Chloe mimicked the previous goodbye in 2010 yet while that one felt finite, this one almost seemed full of promise. There is no way the Russians will be able to break Jack Bauer as there is no way Chloe will allow him to remain a captive for very long. Right?
This new limited series proved once and for all that the real-time format was not what made “24” unique, nor was it the implausible villains or the improbably storylines. Jack Bauer’s indomitable will and determination to take down the bad guys no matter what is why we tuned in hour after hour, year after year. Critical reaction has been positive, even if the viewing figures have been modest, so it seems unlikely we have seen the last of our hero. Even if the odds of another season are insurmountable, well, that’s nothing to Jack Bauer.
images: courtesy of Chris Raphael/FOX Broadcasting
10 Tips for Finding a Top-Notch Financial Advisor
They say money can’t buy happiness, but having a plan for your money definitely can.
We all know financial problems are a leading cause of stress. So it should come as no surprise that a recent study found people with the very disciplined financial plans are more likely to be happy in the future than those with less comprehensive plans or no plans at all.
If you’re looking to create a financial plan or improve upon an existing one, enlisting the help of a financial advisor may be just what you need. The key, however, is finding the right one.
Establishing a relationship with a financial advisor requires a lot of trust – that’s where many people get hung up. In a recent survey 55 percent of people said the greatest challenge in financial planning was being unsure of whom to trust for financial advice. On the heels of the financial meltdown and the seemingly never-ending stream of financial scandals, it’s no wonder. But while begin cautious is a good thing, it doesn’t mean you should write off the idea of hiring an advisor altogether.
There are plenty of highly qualified, trustworthy advisors out there and gathering the right information can help lead you to one who will serve your financial needs and provide you with top-notch service.
Here are some tips to consider before singing on with an advisor:
1. Get a referral – While this isn’t always an option, if you can get a referral from someone who has worked directly with an advisor that’s a great place to start. Be sure to ask what they have liked and disliked about the experience.
2. Make sure the advisor has enough experience - You don’t want an advisor making rookie mistakes with your money. It’s important to find someone who has been around the block enough times to have experience managing money in various situations and during different financial climates.
3. Ask about asset requirements– A lot of advisors require clients to have a certain amount of investable assets. Usually you can find this information on their website, but if it’s not listed you could find out quickly by calling. It’s always best to work with an advisor who has the most experience with clients that have a similar asset base to your own.
4. Understand how they’re compensated – You should have total transparency when it comes to how an advisor gets paid. This can tell you whether they’re working toward your goals or have another agenda. Increasingly advisors are moving toward fee-based structures, in which they get a percentage of their clients’ assets – this is good motivation for them to grow your assets since they benefit too. Some, however, still get paid commissions for selling investment products. They may also work on a combination of fees and commissions or charge flat or hourly fees, so it’s important to know upfront.
5. Ask about credentials and capabilities – In terms of credentials, the gold standard in the industry is a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP, designation. Some advisors may have other designations instead of, or in addition to CFP so ask what those are and what they mean. You also want an advisor to have a well-rounded background that will enable them to advise you on all of your financial issues. That doesn’t mean they need to be a tax lawyer or estate planning attorney but they should be able to offer some advice or connect you with an expert who can.
6. Know the lines of communication–You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get in touch with your advisor; and if you call or email with a question you shouldn’t have to wait a week for a response. Ask the advisor how frequently you can expect to be in contact and through what methods they prefer to communicate. Whatever the answers are, be sure it’s something with which you are comfortable.
7. Check their background – It’s important to see whether the advisor has had any significant complaints or issues in their past. The best place to check is the website for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, FINRA. By entering the advisor’s name you can find out their work history including how long they’ve been in the business and whether they have faced any regulatory issues.
8. Ask about portfolio check-ups– Part of creating a successful plan means making changes to it as new developments occur, either to your personal finances or in the broader economy that could impact your investments. That’s why it’s important to find out how often and under what circumstances the advisor will revisit your financial plan to make sure it’s still on track.
9. Online Tools – Although this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it’s a good idea to check out the advisor’s website to see how administratively easy it is to use. The site should be easy to navigate and allow you to log on to check on your portfolio or update personal information when needed.
10. Ask to speak with current clients – Some advisors have long-term clients who are willing to share their experience with new prospects. This isn’t always the case but it’s worth asking, particularly if you didn’t find the advisor through a referral.
Great South Bay Revamps Beers for My Beard
Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The success of Niko Weisse, my #beerselfie, has prompted Great South Bay Brewery to revamp the concepts of several beers—and the new focus is my beard. The first revamp is Great South Bay’s summer seasonal, Blonde Ambition. Its new incarnation, Beard Ambition, will debut at undisclosed and nonexistent locations on Saturday, July 19. The label is below.
Great South Bay will host a parade prior to the release, starting in Brooklyn, where I currently reside, and ending at the brewery’s 13,000-square-foot home on Drexel Drive in Bay Shore. The route is roughly 65 miles. I will ride the length of the parade on a motorized cloud of existentialism. The motorcade will include miniature mechanical mermaids used in the 1953 film, Attack of the Coney Island Merbots, and Mom’s Plate. A performance by musical duo, Kid Break, will close the ceremony.
Beard Ambition will have the same recipe as Blonde Ambition, a light-bodied, pale-colored, apricoty-flavored ale, “but with much lower levels of estrogen,” says brewmaster Rick Sobotka. “There is something about Niko’s facial hair that empowers our customers unlike anything I have ever seen. The ancient Greeks believed in mystical powers embedded in the braids of their hair that gave them Zeus-like strength. We want every one of our beers to simulate this same stimulating feeling found in Niko’s beard.”
Niko Weisse was released on June 28. The brewery will follow Beard Ambition with other revamps released monthly, including: Straggly Haired Stout, formerly Snaggletooth Stout; Dirty Dude Greek Imperial Stout, formerly Dirty Deeds Russian Imperial Stout; and Massive Beard On A Fish IPA; formerly Massive IPA.
“The Illusionists” by Rosie Thomas
c.2014, Overlook Press $27.95 / $30.00 Canada 480 pages
Now you see it. Now you don’t.
The magician’s coin jumps from hand to hat and though you’re astounded, that would be an easy trick to learn. You could research, and know how he made an elephant disappear. You could teach yourself how to conjure the right card from a deck.
But why would you? Being baffled is half the fun – unless your life depends on sleigh of hand. And then, as in the new novel “The Illusionists” by Rosie Thomas, the trick’s on you.
At the age of ten, and just before he killed a boy, Hector Crumhall fell in love with magic.
He couldn’t quite get over the stunts an itinerant conjurer performed. Hector pestered his father until the elder man explained that there was no such thing as magic, that it was all just entertainment for fools, but Hector thought it fascinating. So when he needed to flee tiny Stanmore for London , there were dreams of magic that the boy took with him, and little else.
But that was all he needed – that, and a name change to something more mysterious. And thus, only his best childhood friend, Jasper, knew the truth about Devil Wix, and that was how Devil wanted it to stay.
And it might have remained so, if not for a fortuitous meeting with a street performing dwarf who called himself Carlo. Recognizing an opportunity, Devil partnered with Carlo for a feat of illusion that would make them rich by attracting a good audience.
It also attracted the lovely Eliza Dunlop.
At just twenty years old, Eliza wasn’t like other women. She spoke her mind, traveled without chaperone and, against her father’s wishes, took a job as a model at an artists’ school. For a Victorian-era lady, that was scandalous but Eliza knew what she wanted – and what she wanted was Devil Wix.
Though she had surely caught his eye, Devil wasn’t the only man who wanted Eliza’s company. Jasper was madly in love with her, as was Carlo. And so was Herr Bayer, the automaton-maker who craved Eliza’s beautiful voice…
I suppose, with a theme of Victorian magic, sideshows, and darkness, it’s inevitable that this novel would be compared to two blockbuster books from summers past.
Inevitable – and wrong.
Here’s the thing: “The Illusionists” starts out well, with shades of malevolence that will give you shivers for around 30 pages. And there’s about as far as it goes.
After that, author Rosie Thomas’ story continues like a broken-down dray horse, forever plodding nowhere in particular; in fact, I waited for a punch line that never seems to come. There is no edge-of-your-seat climax in this novel – there’s no climax at all. The characters aren’t particularly likeable. I even thought the romance here was trite and predictable.
I guess if you’re a fan of 19th-century theatre or early prestidigitation, this novel might appeal to you; the descriptions and historic details here are exceptional. Other than that, though, as far as big enthusiasm for “The Illusionists,” I just can’t see it.
“The Strain” Comes Out of the Gate with All Scares Blazing
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
One of the most anticipated premieres of the summer, certainly one of the most heavily promoted, is now upon us. “The Strain” has debuted on FX and comes out of the gate with all scares blazing. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads with the worm impaled eyeball or at least read about the banning of those particular billboards in some markets. The good news is that there isn’t really a scene like that in the premiere episode. However, there are things far worse to test you as the story unfolds.
Image: courtesy Michael Gibson/FX
“The Strain” is described by FX Network as a high concept thriller that tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll), the head of the Center for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team, Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro) and Jim Kent (Sean Astin), are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. As the strain spreads, Eph, his team, and an assembly of everyday New Yorkers, wage war for the fate of humanity itself.
Image: courtesy Michael Gibson/FX
The show is the mastermind of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and is one of the best shows to come along this year. This is also one of the best and most original takes on the Vampires in quite a while. It is also very much a horror story and certainly pushes the boundaries of what we’ve seen on TV thus far. That’s not to say that it relies purely on gore and shocks, for there is a solid story and terrific acting. Apart from the three leads we also have “Harry Potter” alum David Bradley as a pawnshop owner who is far more than he seems, Jonathan Hyde (“Jumanji”) as a billionaire who has quite literally made a deal with a devil and Richard Sammel. A few other familiar faces flesh this rich and talented cast.
Image: courtesy Michael Gibson/FX
Del Toro and co-creator Chuck Hogan pen the opening script with del Toro himself directing. The two creators have been developing this story for many years, originally pitching is to Fox before turning it into several novels and a series of comic books. The pilot is rock solid and, like all great drama, starts small and builds. Make no mistake, this is most definitely horror in the fullest sense, but the characters are given a lot of attention. Many things are set up in the first hour and promise to play out in unexpected ways over the next few weeks. Five coffins out of five for this show as it truly lives up to its high concept and thriller description.
Image: Getty Images
On a completely different note, Jamie Chung (Mulan from “Once Upon A Time”) was in SoHo last week with a few friends to celebrate the opening of the flagship Birchbox store. Birchbox is the leading discovery commerce platform, offering top of the line beauty products as well as an interactive shopping experience including a row of vanities for product testing, a BYOB box bar, makeup, skin care and hair styling classes. Chung, along with pals Abigail Breslin, Jessica Szohr and Hannah Bronfman were on hand to start things off right for Birchbox co-founders Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by the store on West Hollywood.
Birchbox Opening photo: Getty Images
Indulge in a Free Sound Buffet with Johnnie Lee Jordan on Huntington’s Chapin Rainbow Stage
Published: Monday, July 14, 2014
I love you like the pink in a rose
From your halo to the rings on your toes
Baby, let me take you out dancing tonight
—From “Cherry Bop” by Johnnie Lee Jordan
Pop Punk, Rock, Jazz/Pop Fusion: Whatever you’re hungry for, it’s on Sound Buffet’s menu. And it’s gratis. Presented by SPARKBOOM (an affiliate of Huntington Arts Council), Sound Buffet gives young, creative LI-bred musicians some exposure. The four acts performing on July 20 from 6:30-10pm on the Chapin Rainbow Stage–rocker Johnnie Lee Jordan & The Boys, violinist David Wong and the pop-punk bands This Is All Now and BlameShift—have developed their own followings and deserve to play on the big stage in Heckscher Park.
I last checked in with Johnnie Lee Jordan in Pulse’s December issue when he discussed his upcoming record Run, his appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and his Back to Blue Gap ad. In the meantime, while the Patchogue native finds the funds to release his full-length, Jordan has been both inspired and motivated. He recorded a 4-song EP called Sol/Hum (which signifies an exasperated feeling akin to ‘holy shit’). “I say it to myself a few times when I know I’m about to react poorly,” noted Jordan, who is influenced by the poetry of Allen Ginsberg and the films of David Lynch.
While the music on Run has an indie folk rock feel,Sol/Hum has a more mellow sound overall, allowing Jordan to expand his vocal range. He channels Prince on parts of “Cherry Bop” and raps on “The Surprise Party,” which was inspired, in part, by a church organ. “I make all types of music,” said Jordan. “It just seems rock and roll is the easiest way to peoples’ ears. But hip hop owns a lot of real estate in my subconscious mind. It’s hard to see that in the music I make with guitars and my band. I recorded ‘The Surprise Party’ when I was alone in my apartment. A church on the corner was throwing out one of those big organs with the drum beats built in. I put it on my skateboard and lugged it back to my place. When I’m around those kinds of instruments the hip hop comes through more.”
Follow up that rock appetizer with the jazz/pop fusion sounds of violinist and educator David Wong. The Huntington Station native first picked up the violin at age four. You may have seen him perform last year in the backing band for the finalists on “America’s Got Talent.” “I only played backing but it was fun to perform at a packed Radio City Music Hall,” noted Wong. “I also enjoyed auditioning for The Producers last year. It was a cool experience.” Influenced by artists like bluegrass fiddler Casey Driessen, string trio Time for Three and Muse, Wong plays an assortment of pop tunes, classics and covers, including Pharrell’s “Happy.” He’s working on some originals and hopes to release an album in the near future. Wong, who also plays solo shows, will be accompanied by guitar, bass, drums and cello on July 20.
Support the art of music and head to the free concert on the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park early Sunday evening to catch Johnnie Lee Jordan & The Boys, followed by Wong, This Is All Now and Blameshift. Feel free to bring blankets, chairs and food.
Why is Smiling Contagious
How is smiling contagious? The optic nerve transmits the image of someone else’s smile to your brain, which causes neurons to fire and release hormones such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. Ultimately, these three hormones act as stress relievers/mood-lifters.
Don’t be afraid to smile a little more today!
Is This Thing On?
Published: Friday, July 11, 2014
Image: Kris Olin, via Flickr, Creative Commons 2012
When it comes to Social Media people always ask me; “How do you keep up with everything happening on-line?” “Sometimes it seems to be more trouble than it is worth.” “I don’t really find it to be all that much fun.”
My reply is always the same, “Maybe you’re not doing it right.”
So, this week I thought we’d take a look at a few things to make social media more fun and useful.
No Invitation Necessary.
Most people just “look” at their Twitter or Facebook feeds and don’t really do anything but push that little “like” or “thumbs up” button (this has to be the laziest response to the start of a conversation I have ever seen). Could you imagine being with friends at a party and someone tells a funny story or joke and all you can muster up is a tiny grunt! Well that is what pushing the “like” button on Facebook is akin to—nothing more than a simple grunt! They really should have called it the “shrug” button. It’s just like saying, “I’m really interested in what you just said but all I can muster up is one tiny ‘click’ to let you know I care.”
So, what do I recommend? Get involved! Drop a comment or reply down on that bad-boy; Say something interesting, add your reaction to the story, ask a question, just keep the conversation going!
Share-Share, that’s fair!
Since we were children we have been taught to share our toys, share our food, and share a smile. Well, the same applies to social media. Sharing things you find around the internet and in your social media feeds is good for a number of reasons.
Maybe your friends don’t see the same posts you do, maybe they do not follow the same people or celebrities that you do—that’s fine—now ‘you’ can be the one people turn to-to get their fix! Sharing great content is one way to get more followers or friends. Once they see that you’re a treasure trove of valuable information they’ll follow ‘you’ for more!
Have a business?
Start sharing recipes or interesting content that relates to your business or brand. Don’t just post offers and discounts to your followers all the time. Be a curator and creator of valuable content that will help, inform and excite your base. Your customers will begin to trust you as an authority in the field and will thank you for it by shopping and buying your goods and services.
Have you heard the News?
Are you a news junkie (like me) and find it hard to stop reading the headlines?
Whether its politics, celebrity gossip or human interest stories make sure you share, re-post, comment or add your personal thoughts to the topic. Your followers and ‘social media bystanders’ will see that you are knowledgeable about a certain trend and they’ll want to follow ‘you’ for your future views and commentary.
Here are some other quick-tips!
• Fill out your profile completely.
Let folks know who you are and where you’re from! Use the same profile photo across all platforms. Branding yourself or your business so it appears uniform across all channels is important.
• Know what to post, and where.
Different platforms cater to different age groups. Just like TV stations some are not for you-or your children-the same applies here.
• Stick to a schedule and remain consistent.
If you want to become part of a community visit the platform of your choice often (don’t disappear for long periods of time). Engage with your friends and followers-let them know that you are out there!
• Don’t get burned out.
Don’t feel you “have” to be on every platform. Find the ones that you like and stick with those. Don’t chase every-shiny-new-object (or social platform). Don’t be distracted and jump from profile to profile on-line, this can cause burnout and that’s no fun for anyone.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup
Friday, July 14, 2014 Tech Roundup
Fast Friday Tech Roundup by Socially Exceptional
If you like to watch videos on Facebook then get ready for even more! Facebook has decided to monitor users who consume video on a regular basis and start serving up more video choices for you in your news feeds. Facebook hopes you’ll keep watching—long enough—so they can serve up “un-skip-able” advertising to you from their partners.
Amazon’s on Fire
With the release of Fire TV and the new Fire Smart Phone and rumors of Amazon starting their own fleet of delivery trucks, one can only imagine Amazon’s new slogan as, “Your order in 30 minutes or less…guaranteed!”
You Cannot Be SIRIus
Always feel misunderstood while asking SIRI for directions or a recipe? Well, worry no more. Apple is updating their voice recognition technology to interpret the human voice even more directly. Now if only your kids could do the same.
It’s Always Dark before Dawn
Get ready with those clever hashtags as the new Planet of the Apes film, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is released this weekend. Try these on for size… #apesrule #kingcaeser #apetacular
It’s big. It’s beautiful. It rocks.
2015 Chevy Tahoe MSRP: $45,595
SUVs, like anything enjoying through-the-roof popularity, received as many raspberries as huzzahs in their mid-2000s heyday. You can’t really insult them anymore, though. “You’re too big!” and “You guzzle too much gas!” bounce off their 6,000 pound hides like a spear hurled at a rhinoceros. The Tahoe was and remains a prime target for the anti-SUV crowd - and it cares not.
The mighty Chevy Tahoe, as of 2015, is still V-8 powered, glug glug, but now it’s direct-injected with cylinder deactivation coupled with a 6-speed automatic, so you get somewhat better mileage – 16 MPG in stop-and-go, 22 on the highway. The interior is more car-like than ever, with high-end leather and state-of-the-art technology everywhere you look (but fake wood) and a kid could drive this thing – that’s how butter-like the steering, acceleration and braking are. The effortless turning is due to electrically assisted steering, which also benefits mileage. A 4.2-inch digital display between the gauges can show speed, trip-computer, or infotainment data. The vehicle’s a little noisy at speed with the windows down, but take that up with Mother Nature, not GM.
All-wheel drive is optional, but you’ll want it given the amount of flaky white stuff mother nature’s been raining on the Island of recent winters. The Tahoe also features Magnetic Ride Control on its top-level LTZ trim - dampers smoothing out road bumps and keeping the vehicle’s body from being a bobblehead. Works great on beat-up roads and at slow speed but on highways, it’s a tad jittery, so stay off your phone, keep your eyes on the road and remember this thing isn’t driving itself despite a feel that it’s all taken care of. Also, got a boat? Good. The 2015 Tahoe features a towing mode that’s more responsive than in previous years, holding gears longer and downshifting sooner. The four-wheel-drive trim can haul up to 8,400 pounds; two-wheel drive, 8,600 pounds.
The Tahoe survives, the Tahoe thrives, and the Tahoe is a guilty blast.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Pancakes
Published: Thursday, July 10, 2014
“Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Whole Wheat Pancakes!!” Even typing the words makes me drool. My daughter requested this interesting, yet so perfect combo one day and was shocked that I had never dreamt it up before! I mean talk about a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on serious breakfast steroids! So fantastically decadent and delish that it has actually become one of my most famous go-to brunch-y company treats.
* 2 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour or all-purpose flour
*1/4 cup cream peanut butter
¼ cup Nutella (hazelnut-chocolate spread)
*1/4 cup peanut butter chips
* ¼ cup chocolate chips
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup organic milk or low-fat milk + more if needed
* 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
* 2 large eggs beaten
* warm maple syrup for topping
Whisk together eggs, milk, peanut butter, Nutella, apple sauce & vanilla in a small mixing bowl.
In a larger mixing bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder peanut butter chips & chocolate chips.
Add to dry mixture and stir until it turns into a batter. (Add more water or milk in necessary)
Heat pan and add butter to a griddle pan.
Gently pour the pancake batter onto the pan into circles. Wait for each to bubble and flip.
Drizzle with warm syrup and garnish with a couple chocolate chips and peanut butter chips on top.
Long Island is known as one of the most luxurious places to live in the country. With New York City being just a short drive away, many people see it as a prime location to call home. There are many different activities and attractions in the area that make the Island attractive to all sorts of people.
The Hamptons is one of the most sought out spots on Long Island. Everyone from young kids to teenagers, adults, families and even celebrities enjoy the Hamptons. The Hamptons are home to some of the most beautiful beaches, best restaurants and most active party spots on the Island. Although some people live in the area all year long, most residents are only there during the warmer months and summertime. There are several A-List celebrities that own homes in the area.
At the top of the list is actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld. Seinfeld bought his Hampton’s home from Long Island native, musician Billy Joel. Joel sold the 12 acre property to Seinfeld in 2000 for a whopping 32 million dollars. The home has a 22 car garage and was once called the “best partying house in the Hampton’s”.
World renowned movie man, Steven Spielberg is another celebrity resident of the Hampton’s. The massive home is located on the Georgica Pond in the East Hampton area. Spielberg’s vacation getaway is priced at 25 million and is located in one of the most expensive areas in the Hampton’s.
Next on the list is Howard Stern. Stern bought a four-acre lot in Southampton for 20 million dollars. He decided to start with an empty space on the beach and custom built his beautiful mansion. Stern’s home is more than 16,000 square feet and has eight bedrooms and twelve bathrooms. Oh and don’t forget the bowling alley he had built in his basement.
Lastly we have television personality Katie Couric. Out of the bunch, Couric has the most modest home. She purchased her weekend East Hampton home in 2006 for 6.3 million. It is more than 7,000 square feet and has an in-ground pool.
These four are not the only celebrities with homes on Long Island. Other A-Lister’s with homes on the Island include actress Sarah Jessica Parker, singer Alicia Keys, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and actor Alec Baldwin.
Jack Bauer’s Penultimate Adventure and Halle Barry Gets Pregnant In Space
When FOX announced last year that they were reviving the venerable “24” franchise for a limited run of twelve episodes there seemed to be a mix of surprise and cautious optimism from fans and critics alike. Given that the main conceit of the show is “events occur in real time” over a 24 hour period the first, obvious question was how exactly that would work over the course of only twelve episodes. Ultimately, I don’t think anyone really cared because Jack Bauer was coming back to do what he does best: torturing terrorists, killing assassins and basically saving the day every other hour. Now that we are one episode away from the end of what has been continuously billed as a strictly limited series we are all asking will Jack be back again?
“24: Live Another Day” has not been a ratings blockbuster, but has certainly done respectable enough to warrant another limited run. There is even talk that Yvonne Strahovski’s Kate Morgan, a proven favorite addition this season, might step into the role of scourge of terrorists everywhere should Keifer Sutherland be ready to finally hang up the Bauer scowl for good. The promos for the final episode promise a stunning twist, so it’s not inconceivable that Jack just might meet his ultimate end, providing a definitive finale to the Bauer story that began thirteen years ago. I still think the show has more life in it, especially if they decide to inject new life into it via a new lead in the form of Kate Morgan.
Speaking of strong female leads, the aggressively-hyped “Extant” makes its debut this week. The sci-fi drama stars Halle Berry in her first regular Television role since the ill-fated sitcom “Living Dolls” twenty-five years ago. Berry plays Molly Woods, an astronaut who returns from a one year solo space mission to discover she is pregnant. Goran Visnjic plays her husband John, a brilliant inventor who has created that which nature previously denied him and his wife, namely a son. John is convinced that he has figured out how to put the soul in a soulless machine and wants to share this with the world. Mysteries, conspiracies and intrigue soon bubble to the surface from several areas with the premiere episode setting everything in motion in a fairly balanced way.
Much like the finest science-fiction, “Extant” manages to balance the sci-fi aspects with compelling human drama. There is the perennial question as to whether or not an artificial “person” can be as human as those who gave it “life” along with the concern that an intelligent, emotional machine might just want to subjugate its human creators or do away with us altogether. At the same time the previously infertile Molly must deal with not only now being pregnant, but figuring out that happened while she was in alone in space. There is a missing few hours from the space station’s video log that Molly is not certain that she can account for, there is a long-dead colleague who suddenly reappears, and a benefactor to John’s work who may be in league with some folks who tie everything together somehow.
CBS ordered “Extant” straight to series with a thirteen episode commitment in a serialized format. Even though we can expect this story to be concluded at the end of the season, the network has teased that there is the possibility of another season should audiences tune-in in sufficient numbers. Berry and Visnjic really shine in this and I find the story interesting enough to keep me on board for the whole run of thirteen episodes. The only disappointment is the usually-excellent Hiroyuki Sanada playing a character that is almost identical to the one he just played on the Syfy series “Helix.” Otherwise, the series premiere is an engaging beginning to a story that has the potential to be truly special and thought-provoking.
“The Skeleton Crew” by Deborah Halber
c.2014, Simon & Schuster $25.00 / $28.99 Canada 240 pages
Published: Wednesday, July 09, 2014
You can’t find your keys. Again.
It happens every now and then: you get busy, distracted, and you put them down somewhere they don’t belong. Then you spend an hour looking for them.
Fortunately, you always find them because they won’t travel far without you. But, as you’ll see in the new book “The Skeleton Crew” by Deborah Halber, some things go missing for a lot longer…
Wilbur Riddle was a well-driller back in May of 1968 and was waiting for a job to start when he noticed a canvas sack on a stone slab just off Kentucky ’s Route 25. As he got closer, he could see that something was inside, and then he could smell it. He kicked the tent-canvas bag and was shocked at what he spied.
Inside the bag was a girl, curled up and bound tight with a rectangular bit of white cloth over her shoulder. She was long dead – long enough that identifiable features were nearly gone. Without a name to attach to the body, the media dubbed her Tent Girl.
The case of “Tent Girl,” says Halber, “drew me in.”
If you’re a fan of TV detective shows, you might think that the world is littered with unidentified bodies – and there are “shockingly large numbers of them out there,” says Halber. A survey done several years ago indicated “more than thirteen thousand sets” of unidentified bones moldering in morgues, but one estimate places the number nearly three times higher. While “many people are unaware of the extent of the problem,” a fierce group of folks are well-acquainted with the issue.
Lurking online under pseudonyms and handles that often belie their age and gender, these people spend hours “obsessed” with matching data for missing persons with data for unknown bodies. Often sneered at by local police (and sometimes totally ignored), this “Skeleton Crew” has single-handedly solved decades-old cold cases, given names to corpses anonymously buried, and offered closure to families of people who vanished generations ago.
They’ve solved murders in Missouri . They’ve ID’d vagrants in Vegas. They’ve closed cold cases in Canada . And in a situation that launched a career, one man ascertained the identity of Tent Girl.
You know you’ve got a great read in your hands when, on page two, you mourn that the book will end. That’s what happened when I read “The Skeleton Crew.”
With a mystery-true crime-science mix of facts and detective stories, author Deborah Halber explains why this two-pronged issue exists and how modern technology and amateur sleuthing is helping lessen it.
Along the way, Halber tours morgues and back-rooms, lurks near an exhumation, and tries her hand at solving one of New England ’s best-known cases.
And on that one, she learns that there’s some information best left buried…
If you tend to get a little queasy, this isn’t the book for you. It’s graphic and gruesome, but oh-so-fascinating and hard to put down. When it comes to your Books to Read pile, in fact, “The Skeleton Crew” is one that shouldn’t be missing.
How Does It Feel?
Bob Dylan’s endless road of emotion continues in the “The Drawn Blank Series”
There’s nothing in our lifetime that hasn’t already been written or said about Bob Dylan, and there’s nothing about our lifetime that Bob Dylan hasn’t already written or said. So, in this the sixth decade of his creative life, Dylan’s artwork – as featured in Bob Dylan - The Drawn Blank Series, showing at Mark Borghi Fine Art in Bridgehampton from July 4 to July 18 – might not be the revolutionary acoustic-to-electric revelation that “Like A Rolling Stone” was in 1965, but it is yet another valuable window into the creative mind of the minstrel whose words and music continue to reverberate throughout the canyons of our cultural lexicon.
As always with Dylan, it’s interesting to follow the river to the source. The sketches and drawings that culminated in the Drawn Blank Series were originally created during Dylan’s time on the road between 1989 and 1992 and finished five to ten years later. That trajectory might be seen as a microcosm of Dylan’s process at large, where ideas surface, crystallize briefly, disappear and then return later on to reach their organic conclusion.
At the time of the original drawings, Dylan’s ever-evolving recording career took its requisite left turn as he moved away from the thick production of Oh Mercy (1989) and Under a Red Sky (1990) to re-visit the acoustic vibe for the production of Good as I Been to You (1992). Of course, since then Dylan has cycled through multiple phases; including the Grammy greatness of Time Out Of Mind (1997), only to come full circle and light the old torch once again with rootsy albums like Love and Theft (2001) and Together Through Life (2009).
Back in ’92, Good as I Been to You contained no original Dylan compositions. Instead, it put the troubadour on the road back home, with Dylan interpreting a big handful of warm folk standards and covers. The stripped back sound and earnest delivery of those recordings dovetail effortlessly with the works in the Drawn Blank Series.
This relationship might best be seen in Train Tracks (2007). Using depth of field and nuanced depth of color within the blue/purple sphere, Dylan gives us what he knows best; a sense of longing, loneliness and the thirst for discovery. Just as wanderlust lies at the heart of Dylan-kissed folk standards like “Froggie Went a Courtin’” and “Step It Up and Go” from Good As I Been to You, so too does Train Tracks stir the gypsy soul. The painting begs us to hitch a ride, to re-discover the rail riding hobo America of Kerouac and Cassady – and gives us hope that this America might still exist, if only in the blue/black shadows of our collective memory – and of course, in the music of Bob Dylan.
Rose on A Hillside (2010) is a brighter effort, one in which Dylan’s sense of elegance and fragility shines through. The acrylic on canvas piece is an exercise in simple shape and shades of primary color, yielding a result that evokes the homey, happy yellow and brown thatched roof villages and the phantasmagorical pinks and reds of Marc Chagall’s work while also hinting at the loose brushstrokes and effervescent pre-cubism of Picasso.
Man on a Bridge (2010) is a warm sketch of mixed media on paper that, while showing a solitary man in stationary mode, somehow speaks to the weariness of the road and the imagined miles under that man’s feat. Even the title reflects Dylan’s itinerant reality. The figure in the piece hints at Cezanne’s Man With a Pipe (1892) while at the same time reminding us of late-era Dylan himself, relentlessly restless, stopping only long enough to get a glimpse (and for us to get a glimpse of him) before moving on to the next city, the next gig, the next blurred landscape.
The beauty of all of Dylan’s work, musical or otherwise, lies in its honesty. From Freewheelin’ to Tempest and everything in between, we get the sense that the arc of all of Dylan’s work would have remained the same whether he was catapulted to superstardom or not, whether he ever transcended his Midwestern roots and West Village folkie beginnings or not. Dylan’s perceived obscurity is mere smoke and mirrors; the truth is that he quite readily and accessibly embodies the paradox of complexity and simplicity; which is to say, he embodies humanity. Count The Drawn Blank Series as another compelling signpost on that dusty dirt road.
Isles Release Final Schedule at Coliseum
Published: Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Forget the road games. Forget the Barclays Center. Remember, this is the final season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Regardless of how bad or good the Islanders may be, try and make one of the 41 home games.
Even if the Coliseum is renovated and the team comes back to Nassau to play six regular season games per season, as speculated by media and mentioned occasionally in talks about the future of the franchise, it’s still not going to be the same old barn we’re used to. Enjoy it while it lasts, island diehards.
With the 2014-2015 season just two months away, that emotional gut-wrenching feeling has already started to settle in for some; the last home opener, the last Isles-Rangers game, the final regular season game, or heck, the final playoff game if it were to happen.
If you’re going to head to Uniondale this season, here are some games to check out:
*October 11: Home opener vs. Carolina
*December 15: Final Isles-Devils game in Nassau
*February 10: Final Isles-Oilers game in Nassau (‘80s connotations)
*March 10: Final Isles-Rangers game in Nassau
*March 26: Hosting the Stanley Cup Champion Kings
*March 28: Final game against a Western Conference opponent in Nassau vs. Ducks
*April 11: Final home game vs. Columbus
If it takes some coaxing to get you off your couch and onto the Meadowbrook Parkway and Hempstead Turnpike, just remember by fall of 2015 you’ll have to take the Long Island Rail Road to an Islanders game.
See you in Uniondale this season
Summer Hair Care: Tips From The Staff of The Rita Hazan Salon.
Published: Monday, July 07, 2014
This summer season the staff of the celebrity favored Rita Hazan Salon will be temporarily setting up shop and offering limited appointments at Bianka Leffert’s 27 Hampton Salon in Southampton, New York. Stylist Kim Gueldner and Colorist Nicole Tresch will each be available for appointments on the select days of July 21st and August 18th. Both have warranted a reputation for perfecting the manes of Manhattan and Hollywood’s elite some of whom have included Faith Hill, Lala Anthony and Lily Allen. Gueldner and Tresch are sharing their seasoned tips and favored products for obtaining the ideal summer tresses for a Hampton Style Trend Forecast.
Rita Hazan Salon Stylist, Kim Gueldner shares that many of her clients often ask as to how they may achieve a summer look that is both effortless and stylish, while varying from the daily routine styles of a slicked ponytail or messy bun. Additional clients have also requested a chic solution that will allow one to pull back their growing bangs during the summer’s rising temperatures. Gueldner’s professional recommendation for solving both of these typical requests while staying on trend can be often solved with a simple bohemian braid or a modernized twist. The twist is a preferred option for shorter length candidates or for those who prefer an infallible quicker style. Below, Stylist Kim Gueldner shares her step-by-step process for achieving the modernized twist for the summer season.
Gueldner’s How-To Steps For Perfecting The Modernized Summer Twist
1. Start by parting the hair to whichever side you prefer, tease the hair a bit on top, and put a little hairspray to keep it in place and to give it some texture. I like Shu Uemura hairspray and Texture Powder.
2. Grab a fairly big section at the top and twist away from the face.
3. Add another section, as if you were doing a French braid, and keep twisting. You can do the entire head as seen in the first two pictures above, or twist just your bangs and secure with bobby pins.
4. To add a beach wave, you can scrunch while applying Redken’s Nature Rescue Sea Salt Spray and let the hair air-dry.
5. If there are some pieces that are frizzy, you can always wrap them around a curling iron to make the wave more finished.
Rita Hazan Salon Colorist, Nicole Tresch states the color trend this summer is to “Keep It Natural.” One way in which her clients can achieve this trend while adjusting for the season, is to lighten the hair by adding highlights that accent one’s base color, instead of mimicking it. For achieving a more natural appearance of applied highlights, Tresch recommends a transitional highlight that brightens towards the follicle’s end while maintaining contrast at the root for a sun-kissed look. For those of her clients who are looking to adjust their color temporarily during the busy traveling season, she recommends the Rita Hazan Root Concealer to cover any grey strands in-between appointments. The product is easy to use and can be washed out during one’s normal shower routine. An additional seasonal color request is correcting color brassiness as result of spending time in the sun or from the effects of swimming in saltwater or a chlorinated pool. Colorist Tresch will combat this client concern with the use of the Rita Hazan’s Ultimate Shine Color Gloss in Blonde in an effort to brighten highlights while The Breaking Brass Gloss helps to reduce unwanted yellow and orange tones, as a result, from hair oxidization.
For more information on updating your tresses this summer season, visit Rita Hazan Salon Stylist Kim Gueldner and Colorist Nicole Tresch on July 21st and August 18th at 27 Hampton Salon.
27 HAMPTON SALON
27 HAMPTON ROAD
SOUTHAMPTON, NY 11968
Jump Out of Bed
Though it might seem silly, the literal act of jumping out of bed can help shake off drowsiness. Doing so stimulates your sympathetic nervous system to send more blood to your heart, which increases heart rate, contractility, and overall cardiac output. In a matter of seconds, you will feel ready to face your day.
2014 Cadillac XTS V-sport AWD Premium
Powerful, aggressive, American sports sedan is perfect (almost)
Published: Friday, July 04, 2014
2014 Cadillac XTS V-sport AWD Premium
The XTS V-sport sedan provides what anyone loves and wants in a modern Cadillac, specifically its pointy front end, aggressive expression on all four sides, its interior comfort and the stares one elicits when out and about.
The XTS also distinguishes itself by pumping 410 horsepower out of its twin-turbo V-6, achieving a remarkable 24 miles per gallon if driven carefully. But forget about driving carefully – this thing was built to be thrashed, and thrash it you will whether squeezing in and out of tight freeway spots, tossing it through corners and just plain treating it like the sports sedan it is. No one buys a Cadillac for the mileage, after all. It’s also all-wheel drive all the time, making it possible to drive all year round, even when it snows.
Inside, it’s a smooth, comfortable ride, with lots of room for the bigger and taller among us, and the usual luxe accoutrements are all here – magnetic ride control with rear air springs, heated steering wheel, keyless access with pushbutton start, front Brembo brakes, stabilitrak with traction control, and the list goes on.
Where the XTS slips is in its asinine, frustrating nav, sound and climate system, called CUE (Cadillac User Experience.) I never was able to get my iPod to “Playlists” during the week I had the car despite scrutinizing the text-heavy, picture-free manual. Caddy aims at folks of a certain age, and they’d be wise to simplify CUE to accommodate those who remember when there were just two knobs on a car’s stock system – “on-off” and “bass-treble.”
That said, there is a reason Cadillac never went away, even when GM went belly up and came back a few years back. Part of what kept the brand thriving was that there wasn’t a dud in the fleet. There still isn’t.
An Early Summer Treat: Art “Stained with Sweet”
McNeill Art Group has temporary quarters at the Hill Street Gallery this summer, and has opened the exhibit slate this past June with Stained with Sweet. The show includes a selection of works by Perry Burns, Tapp Francke, Jeff Muhs, and Bettina Werner. The first three have been staple artists affiliated with curator Beth McNeill from early on. In this show there is some revisiting of works and styles from the past decade, in addition to a visual and aesthetic journey through color and abstraction.
Recently Perry Burns had turned to abstracted/pixelated socio-political imagery in mixed media on canvas, a shift from his earlier textured, swirling, curving, and spiraling non-objective abstractions. Here, Burns returns to elaborate oils on canvas whose layered and scraped-away surface abstraction is simplified and held together by the geometry of curvaceous line and form.
Jeff Muhs revisits former work literally in the panel titled Wisdom, Faith, Truth & Orange (2014). He completes one of his earlier, signature atmospheric oils with a bold, dripping swath of intense orange. A large oil on canvas, Blue Chip, continues this new direction with a similar stroke of turquoise blue on a gestural, partially whited out background.
Three photographs from Tapp Francke’s familiar Lieonize series are interspersed amongst the selection, including the C-print Stained with Sweet that lends its name to the show. In addition to these photographic works wherein the artist captures neon light in extreme close-up, Francke has been exploring color and light (and our reactions to them) through neon tube light pieces that compose a single word or short phrases, of which Love Me is featured in the gallery window.
The recognizable medium of “The Salt Queen”, or Bettina Werner, is present in six works by the artist who works exclusively with pigmented white salt crystal. Werner, who exhibited at the Hill Street Gallery last year, creates relief works that are textured and luminous and often saturated in intense hues. Following the Light of the Sun I left the Old World is a straightforward bright yellow work in which the artist has inscribed these words, seeming to allude to her Italian origins and how the Hamptons have become home and influence.
Bettina Werner, “Following the Light of The Sun I left the Old World” (Christopher Columbus Quote), textured colorized salt, 24 x 36 inches
The show is easy on the eyes, achieving aesthetic harmony and visual beauty, as was the goal of McNeill in curating it. The prominent conceptual challenge is introduced on one small wall where six signed and numbered copies of the limited edition book “For Which It Stands: Americana in Contemporary Art” are displayed, each with original cover art by Kevin Berlin, Jeremy Dean, Penny, and Peter Tunney, and graffiti artists D*Face and Zevs respectively.
Published by The Curated Collection, the book is a 400-page hardcover curated by Carla Sakamoto. The covers are striking (extreme and anti-establishment even), as is the subject matter; the books so beautifully crafted and presented they still fit the sublime–sweet but not saccharine—theme of the show.
The exhibition remains on view through July 13 2014 at 40 Hill Street in Southampton.
“The Pocket Book of Weather” by Michael Bright
Published: Thursday, July 03, 2014
c.2013, Adlard Coles Nautical / Bloomsbury $18.00 / $20.00 Canada 144 pages
A stranger – unknown, but not unfamiliar – told you what to take to work today.
She also told you how to dress the kids, what to avoid this weekend, where to park the car, and whether or not you should water the garden.
And you appreciated the information; after all, what would you do without your weather forecast? In fact, you wanted more - and when you’ve got “The Pocket Book of Weather” by Michael Bright around, you’ll get it.
For as long as there have been people, there have undoubtedly been people who’ve looked skyward and wondered if they’ll get wet, sweat, or need more sunscreen. Just as it is now, their day-to-day existence was affected by weather – and because of that, early humans began to recognize trends in the atmosphere.
Of course, some of them were Old Wives and they had tales to tell but, even as far back as 400 BCE, meteorologists (a word coined by Aristotle) had real ways to measure what was going on outside. By the 1700s, meteorology was a “new science;” in the mid-1800s, information was shared internationally; and by 1900, the world had climatologists who understood winds and storm-making.
Today’s meteorologists have a lot of information with which to prognosticate: they can tell which clouds will soak you and which will dissipate. They can track the path of a tornado or hurricane (something birds seem adept at doing naturally). And they can offer a hint of what your weekend will be like, although Bright says that the farther out the forecast gets, the less correct it is.
In this book, you’ll learn what oktas are, and how to measure them. You’ll see that “high pressure” isn’t what you put on your weatherman when you want sunshine. You’ll find out why you should run from a pogonip, the difference between a cyclone and a tornado, why you should take flash flood warnings very seriously, how hail can kill you, what snizzle is, how bugs can tell the temperature, and why you should definitely avoid being outside at 7:30pm in July during a thunderstorm in central Florida.
If you’re like just about everybody I know, the weather has been a big concern of yours in the past year or so. You look to the sky, you check the batteries in your weather radio, and you read or watch the forecasts. Once you’ve got “The Pocket Book of Weather,” you’ll be able to understand what they mean.
But deciphering weather reports isn’t all that author Michael Bright offers his readers. We also get anecdotes about unusual weather phenomena, history of instruments and ideas, explanations of how weather is made, and how animals adapt to it. In addition, Bright goes on to look at climate change and the future of our planet.
I like this book because it’s wide in scope but not too much so. It’s easy to understand, it’s enjoyable to read, and with real information and facts you can believe, “The Pocket Book of Weather” isn’t just full of hot air.
LIer Sonny Milano Drafted by Blue Jackets
Published: Wednesday, July 02, 2014
It doesn’t happen often, but Long Island added another native son to world of professional hockey last week. The Columbus Blue Jackets selected Massapequa native Sonny Milano in the first round of the NHL Draft.
With nearly 50 family members and friends at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia for the draft, Milano was selected 16th overall. He already committed to play at Boston College, after de-committing to Notre Dame, and will play college hockey. The Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League own Milano’s Canadian junior rights as well.
“He was very high on our list,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a story on the team’s website. “He’s a very skilled forward, a creative forward also. Our scouts very high on him, as well. He seems like a pretty mature kid physically, too, but I think there’s a lot of growing up to and a lot of hard work ahead of him.”
Milano recorded 72 points (24 goals) with the USTNDP U-18 club this season. He lived in Ohio for a year playing junior hockey, so he has some connection to the Columbus area. As a kid growing up on Long Island, however, he was an Islanders fan.
“When I heard them call my name, I was so excited,” Milano told the Blue Jackets. “You’re a little nervous sitting there, and you want to go to a place where someone wants you. There’s a little bit of pressure, but it’s fine.”
Milano is just the 12th Long Island native drafted by an NHL team. There are only a dozen or so more who went undrafted and played in the league.
Milano is not the highest draft pick off the island. The Canadiens took Mike Komisarek (Smithtown) with the seventh overall pick in 2001, the Flames took Eric Nystrom (Portledge) 10th overall in 2002 and Chris Higgins (Smithtown) was taken by the Canadiens 14th overall also in 2002.
Other LIers drafted by NHL teams
*Chris Ferraro, Rangers, Port Jefferson
*Peter Ferraro, Rangers, Port Jefferson
*Rich Hansen, Islanders, Northport
*Chris Higgins, Canadiens, Smithtown
*Val James, Red Wings, unknown
*Mike Komisarek, Canadians, St. Anthony’s
*Eric Nystrom, Flames, Portledge
*Kyle Palmieri, Ducks, Smithtown
*Jim Pavese, Blues, Kings Park
*Rob Scuderi, Penguins, St. Anthony’s
*Paul Skidmore, Blues, Smithtown
Eno & Sylvian
Few musical artists are as influential and multi-faceted as Brian Eno. Founding member of Roxy Music, godfather of Ambient music, and avant-garde collaborator with the likes of Robert Fripp, John Cale, David Byrne and many others, Eno has been best known for decades as the uber-producer of such artists as Talking Heads, David Bowie, U2 and Coldplay. Many books have been written about his Roxy Music and solo works, along with his autobiographical writings. “Visual Music” is the first book by Eno to properly place his work in a multi-media context, perhaps the best way to truly understand the magnitude of his singular genius in how he straddles a myriad of artistic disciplines and popular and avant-garde art. The book reflects to a great degree his multi-media visual installations and the working artistic process behind the finished creations. Summing up 40 years of an artist’s attempt to forge a new way of looking and listening, this book holds an abundance of richly conceived art and a deep, thoughtful and at times whimsical insight into the fertile mind of a great artist. The parts of the book that detail what Eno calls his Oblique Strategies alone make this book worth the price of admission.
On the musical front, Eno is at one of the most overtly accessible phases of his recording career with the release of Someday World (Warp), a collaboration with Karl Hyde of Underworld. The album will immediately thrill fans of Eno’s work with John Cale and other non-Ambient solo works, as it reflects the most straightforward, vocal-based music Eno has recorded in years. The electro-pop features all the quirky keyboard and tape effects that one expects from Eno. Another Eno-Hyde release will appear shortly.
David Sylvian has had a career that in many respects shadows the career of Brian Eno. Like Eno, Sylvian is British, left a major British band (Japan), retreated from pop stardom and has collaborated with avant-garde artists such as Jon Hassell, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Robert Fripp and others. “On the Periphery: David Sylvian – A Biography The Solo Years,” by Christopher E. Young, ambitiously and effectively takes on the unenviable task of chronicling the dense and diffuse, 30-plus-year solo career of one of the most challenging cult artists in music. Young’s book is more than just a linear biography, it seeks to explore, unravel and summarize a wide range of musical projects, many with strong visual, poetic and spiritual elements. Unlike many cheesy rock star biographies focused on sex, drugs, alcohol, rehab, rumors, breakups, personal love and family dirt, Young’s book successfully explores an artist of many creative shades.
“Reckless” Premieres, “Unforgettable” Returns and the Danger Increases “Under the Dome”
Published: Tuesday, July 01, 2014
As an unabashed Television junkie I used to lament the summer months. The Networks mostly burned off episodes of cancelled shows or aired movies-of-the-week we’d already seen in theaters. Occasionally there was a lurid mini-series or two. About the only thing worthwhile were reruns of shows I may have missed during the regular season. However, with the advent of year-round cable broadcasting proving that folks will watch new episodes on a weekly basis, plus the affordable accessibility of mobile devices allowing anyone to take on demand viewing anywhere and everywhere, the four main broadcast networks have finally wised up. The schedule isn’t quite as full as it is in the fall, but there is still plenty to watch. CBS kicks off its summer programming this week with a trio of premieres, one new along with two returning favorites.
First up is “Reckless,” a hot and sultry legal drama, with an emphasis on hot. The show is filmed and set in Charleston, South Carolina and the heat is not just apparent due to the setting, but also between the characters. Cam Gigadent plays new City Attorney Roy Rayder with a vulnerable Southern charm that serves him well outside the courtroom with his latest opponent, Chicago litigator Jamie Sawyer. Played by Anna Wood, Sawyer uses her considerable smarts in court as well as a myriad of savvy tricks outside. The two eventually find themselves on the opposite ends of a local police scandal that threatens to impact both of their lives. The chemistry between Gigadent and Wood is as palpable as the Deep South humidity that gives all the characters a constant sheen. This show is fun and sexy and should develop quite the following.
The little show that could, “Unforgettable,” returns for a third season this week. Cancelled after a so-so first season, CBS abruptly gave it a reprieve last year with a revamped second run of episodes during the summer. The soft reboot seemed to do the trick as it proved enough of a favorite to return again this year. Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) and her former boyfriend and partner, Lieutenant Al Burns (Dylan Walsh) return with their NYPD Major Crimes team of Detectives Cherie Rollins-Murray (Tawny Cyprus) and Jay Lee (James Hiroyuki Liao) and Captain Eliot Delson (Dallas Roberts). The premiere does a great job of quickly reminding viewers of the hook of Wells’ hyperthymesia, a rare medical condition that gives her the ability to visually remember everything, while diving right into the case of the week. Whether you’re new to the show or just need a refresher, you’re covered and won’t be distracted from the action and subtle rekindled romance between the leads.
Lastly we have the season two premiere of “Under the Dome”, last year’s smash hit and highest drama summer premiere on any network since 1992. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the start of the new season picks up literally one second after last year’s finale. This episode is a roller coaster ride as we immediately learn the fate of Mike Vogel’s Dale Barbara, watch the dome react in a new and dangerous way, see the shocking death of a favorite main character and get introduced to two previously unseen mysterious residents of Chester’s Mill. All that happens in the first ten minutes before we even get to the opening titles. King himself penned this starter which wraps up the cliffhangers from season one and propels us on our journey for this year. Allegiances are tested, new ones are forged and the closing moments may give us a second major death. Next week can’t come soon enough!
That’s it for today, check back next week for more major TV events. Special shout out to “Community,” which just got an eleventh hour season six pickup courtesy of Yahoo! Screen. Six seasons and a movie just got more real. I’ll be keeping an eye on that deal over the coming months and will let you know the details as they develop!
Images Courtesy of CBS Publicity
2015 Volkswagen Touareg
Newly-freshened Touareg is well-made, but 20-24 MPG for a hybrid? Ach du lieber
Published: Monday, June 30, 2014
Nobody thought it would last. The Touareg, upon launch in 2002, seemed too similar to its dozens of rivals, many of whom were better-looking and less expensive. But Volkswagen had (and still has) legions of fans who’ve remained loyal through decades and were eager to spend dollars on their favorite team rather than bailing to another automaker when they were finally ready to take the Sport Utility Vehicle plunge. The Touareg thus found its market before it was even introduced, and it’s still here 12 years later while rivals like Mercedes’ R-Class, for example, bit the dust.
The 2015 Touareg’s got larger headlamps, four hood lines instead of two, handsomer, more piercing fog lights and both front and rear are widened for a more aggressive stance. Google “Touareg 2012” and put it up side by side with the refreshed model and you’ll see the change is the equivalent of taking your selfie and “popping” it with software. More is more in this case – it looks more elegant, more modern, more in line with its price tag than in previous years.
The Touareg’s strength is in its well-appointed interior, road manners, comfort and smooth-as-a-baby’s-tuchus ride. Sweet chrome accents surround your control panel controls, and switches have been replaced with better-looking, better quality materials. You’ve got a choice in leathers and wood trim with names like “Bonanza Brown” and “St. Tropez” for the cow and “Sapelli Mahagoni” and “Engineered Ebony” for the trees.
Visually, despite the makeover, the Touareg neither attracts nor repels. Finding it in a parking lot may prove as much of a challenge as looking for the guy wearing the suit on Wall Street. Also, it’s hard to get behind buying a Hybrid of any kind that delivers a mere 24 miles to the gallon under the best of conditions, and you may find yourself wanting to yell at the accelerator in addition to stepping on it to get some decent blastoff at dead stops. But there is a reason the Touareg has survived and thrived, and it’s not because of its badge – it’s a well-made car worthy of a drive and perhaps a buy.
Benefits of Lemon Juice
Lemon juice has been referred to as “liquid gold” in Asian-Indian countries. The antiseptic effect of the low pH of citric acid found in lemons prevents Propionibacterium Acnes from thriving in your pores, which helps stop acne formation. Citric acid also helps stimulate growth of new cells, which in turn sloughs off dead skin cells left over from scars.
Parmesan Dip with Roasted Veggies
Published: Thursday, June 26, 2014
I don’t know about you, but I am a huge “Veggie & Dip” person! The crunchy crudité with a creamy swipe of something what healthy summer parties is all about! Now the only issue with this nibble is that it could become a bit monotonous to say the least. Hence, I decided to change things up a bit and twist this classic around. A little Olive oil, a baking pan, and one tangy dip to finish!
• roasting vegetables
• olive oil
• Kosher salt
• ground pepper
• spices of your choice
• 8-ounce container of low-fat sour cream
• 8-ounce package softened cream cheese
• 1 bunch chives
• ½ cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
• 1 small package Italian Seasoning dressing mix
1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.) Choose vegetables and follow by washing, scrubbing & cleaning. (This can and should be done the day before-hand leaving room for “crunch time” during an event)
3.) Place each veggie in separate sprayed baking sheets (Feel free to add some sliced garlic prior to roasting.)
4.) Toss everything around in olive oil until thoroughly coated and sprinkle with Kosher salt.
5.) Add ground pepper and spices of your choice to each one.
6.) Roast for 30-45 minutes depending on vegetable. Transfer to a serving dish and group together.
7.) While veggies are roasting blend together the cream cheese and sour cream. Add in ¾ the parmesan cheese and Italian dressing packet.
8.) Chop or snip chives. Add all but a few to the dip and mix.
9.) Spoon into a bowl and garnish with remaining parmesan and chives. Serve with roasted veggies.
Seinfeld and SJP Drive an LTD to Long Island
I grew up in the suburbs.
Didn’t like it, always wanted to live in the city.
Now, I wanna live in the suburbs…
I just want my kids to live my life over.
Now that’s narcissism.
On the latest episode of Jerry Seinfeld’s online talk show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Seinfeld takes a drive down memory lane. He picks up good friend Sarah Jessica Parker in her newly acquired 1976 Ford Country Squire Wagon LTD and the two relive their formative years. We learn that Parker, an Ohio native and one of eight children, spent a lot of time riding in the back of an LTD amusing herself with Mad Libs, an Etch A Sketch and some watercolors. Seinfeld grew up in Nassau County (Massapequa) and that’s where they went for coffee. While Seinfeld was happy driving on the streets where he grew up, he recalled that a car was like “angel wings” when living in the burbs. A young Seinfeld obsessed over whether to be a motorcycle guy or a sports car guy. Watching anti-hero Michael Parks on 70s television show Then Came Bronson was a real inspiration for the motorcycle and car aficionado. On his Harley, Parks represented freedom to the family man in the LTD wagon.
When they arrive at East Meadow’s classic Colony Diner, Seinfeld orders his usual coffee but Parker gets a chocolate egg cream. After they finish eating large plates of food, Seinfeld orders more coffee. Parker: “And you can drink coffee all day?” Seinfeld: “All day.” Parker: “It would give me horrible anxiety.” Seinfeld: “I like the anxiety.” One wonders how much caffeine, or anything, it would take to make Seinfeld anxious.
They pick up some pastries at Francesco’s Bakery in Hicksville and Parker takes the wheel for awhile. The show ends with the two of them happily eating the pastries in the back of the LTD whilst playing Cat’s Cradle with string in a nod to Parker’s childhood.
Check out the Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee website for future shows.
Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Envision yourself in a far away land where acres of desert sands meet boundless palaces and towering skyscrapers. Where sheikhs and crown princes reign and Maseratis careen towards you. It’s a place that vacillates between antiquated Arabic tales and modern-day businesses. A city that lives lavishly but still stays true to its native roots.
This stunning and baffling land is Dubai, United Arab Emirates where life burns bright and normal no longer exists.
Detour in the Sharjah Desert
With indoor ski resorts and mosques made completely out of gold, it’s home to what your heart could never imagine. Where holding hands in public just became acceptable and terms of love are far different than ours. Dubai is a must-go-on adventure for all those seeking variety.
Dubai’s attractions are often mentioned in magazines, and the seemingly futuristic image of the shark swimming its way throughout The Dubai Mall Aquarium is one of the most memorable pictures on Tumblr to this day. But I wasn’t convinced. Was this place as out-of-this-world as people depicted it to be?
Well, the instant I stepped on to the courtyard of The Dubai Mall and stared up at the sky to the Burj Khalifa, I felt so amazed it was king of terrifying. Never in my life had I seen something so tall and mighty. I was mesmerized.
Burj Khalifa at nighttime
That moment was one of many countless encounters with mesmerizing visits and people all over the Emirates. In Sharjah, burnt red desert sand stretched for what seemed like a million miles and led to safari campsites and camel farms. In Abu Dhabi, the golden and palatial Sheikh Zayed Mosque illustrated the marriage of Arabic traditions and their prosperity perfectly. And, of course, locals and ex-patriots each had their own story of how Dubai has brought them and their families so much opportunity.
Boredom was never an option in Dubai. The place knew how to satisfy any craving and fulfilled the hunger for adventure. Not only is this city home to state of the art buildings and mirages, but it’s home to a wide selection of the most delicious Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine I have ever tasted.
Just across town in Deira is the Samad Al Iraqi Restaurant where lunch began with a light, refreshing pea soup and endless naan bread. The waiter brought out what I didn’t know would be the best lamb and chicken biryani I’d ever taste. The plate was piled with basmati rice, vermicelli, chicken, and lamb. It filled the room with the essence of cinnamon, tumeric, cardamom, and cumin. The meal was topped off with Arabic tea and my taste buds and I were happier than ever.
Dubai’s magical story of how the Burj Khalifa and manmade Palm Islands developed in a short amount of time is a tale to be globally known for. It has quickly become the center of culture for the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and also a limitless hub for international business. All of this - plus its infrastructure, quirky nature, and delicious food - can impress anyone who visits. It is certainly a place worthy of anyone’s travel bucket list.
Great South Bay Brewery Niko Weisse is a beer. Seriously!
Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Hear Ye, Beer Me! I’m stupidly geeked, and Greeked, to announce the release of my upcoming collaboration with Great South Bay: Niko Weisse, a Greek-inspired Berliner Weisse with cucumbers!
Berliner Weisse, a regional specialty of Berlin, Germany, is a pale-colored, wheat-malty style alcoholed between 2.0% and 5.0% ABV. It’s traditionally defined by a lactic, yogurt-like sourness with descriptors of cloudy, dry, tart, sharp, and effervescent. Niko Weisse isn’t merely a facsimile of history, though. We added cucumbers, a primary ingredient in tzatziki, to uniquely celebrate my Greekness.
Our collaboration wasn’t a spontaneous affair. An impromptu escapade between two strangers involving intimacy-devoid intercourse? Nope. This collaboration was intense cinematic moments of foreplay between two close-knit companions. Harry and Sally. Jack and Rose. Romy and Michelle. That was us. Before our foreplayage, though, Niko Weisse was anticipated for centuries in Greece, the homeland of my ancestors.
ArchiKromedes was a renownedly dope prophet in Athens. He was also my great-great-great-great-great-blogfather. He presaged the creation of a marvelous liquid by his great-great-great-great-great-blogson, one capable of quenching universal thirst for eternity. The metropolis buzzed with curiosity.
Who? When? Where?
ArchiKromedes remained silent, then, at the lip of a promontory, combusted into a polychromatic mess of organs, evoking a scene from Street Trash. As an effervescent, straw-pale liquid oozed from every orafice, the metropolis gathered and imbibed gleefully amidst the splatterfest. Niko Weisse was born!
Kidding. Its conception actually occurred during a visit to the Bay Shore-based brewery in March, where I chatted with Rick Sobotka, owner and brewmaster, to gather quotes on Lethal Cupcake for an installment of Drank That Local Sh*t. As we popped a bottle of the sweet, chocolate-heavy porter, a covey of cupcakes penetrated our mouthholes and secreted globules of [I dunno] into the skin-encased recesses of our esophagi. We started to drift into the depths of our unconsciousi, initially discussing the genius of Clone High, but eventually settling into a 63-day discussion on streetmeat. We genuflected daily to the enigmatic power of tzatziki, a sauce capable of transforming an inedible, often unidentifiable meat into a lavish delicacy. Our worship immaculately spawned the birth of Niko Weisse, which we started brewing on June 3.
Great South Bay started the process by intentionally souring a 30-barrel mash—malted wheat comprising half of the grist—with Lactobacillus delbrueckii. This bacteria produces carbon dioxide and lactic acid as a by-product of fermentation, the latter responsible for the brightly acidic and sour characteristics of a Berliner Weisse. After two days, allowing the wort to ferment to a desirable pH, I returned to the 39,000-square-foot brewery and hand-sliced cucumbers—100 pounds of cucumbers. Then I combusted into a monochromatic mess of streetmeat.
Great South Bay will host the release of Niko Weisse on June 28. Ελπίζουμε να έρθετε!
“The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber
c.2013, 2014, Skyhorse Publishing $24.95 / $32.99 Canada 310 pages
It was a vow you took very seriously.
Friends forever, you said in school. Til death do you part, you uttered in front of an altar. Semper fi, on my honor, read my lips, it’ll get done, I’ll be there.
It’s easy to make a pledge to someone. It’s not always easy to keep it – especially, as in “The Promise” by Ann Weisgarber, the covenant is a big one.
Catherine Wainwright was well aware that she’d caused quite a scandal.
It was bad enough that she’d kept company with another woman’s husband. It was brazen to touch Edward’s arm in public and they were seen alone together at night, which made tongues wag. But what really caused Dayton’s society women to shun Catherine, to make her a pariah, was that the man was her handicapped cousin’s husband – and such audacity in the year 1900 was simply unforgivable.
Her piano concerts were canceled. Friendships ended. With her money almost gone and her mother unwilling to help, Catherine turned to a stack of letters from a suitor she’d spurned eight years before.
Catherine and Oscar Williams had known one another in school, their relationship stiffly cordial. Once he moved to Texas, they spent years corresponding through the mail but she’d wanted nothing to do with his working-class existence. Now, panicking, she wrote to him, and learned that he was a recent widower.
“My Son is in need of a Mother.” he wrote three months later. “I am in need of a Wife.” And so, in desperation, Catherine packed the belongings she hadn’t already sold, and boarded the train to Galveston…
Nan Ogden took pride in her roots and her stubbornness. She also knew that the word of a Texas woman was steel, so when she promised Oscar’s dying wife that she’d help Oscar raise his son, Nan was determined to keep her vow.
But it wasn’t going to be easy with the new Mrs. Williams in the house. Oscar and every man in Galveston saw Catherine’s loveliness, but not her laziness. So why couldn’t Oscar also see that Nan was really the better woman for him?
One good book. That’s all you need this summer - just one book that you can put down if you need to, but that you won’t want to.
And that describes “The Promise.”
With a real historical event as her background, author Ann Weisgarber spins a story of two women who are more alike than they’d ever admit, and the reasons they eventually learn of that truth.
That’s cause enough to become totally captivated by this novel, but what struck me most was the way in which this story is told: Weisgarber deftly turns the clock back 115 years, immersing readers in social mores, turn-of-the-last-century life, and tiny details of day-to-day survival. That, plus wonderful characters, makes this book a winner.
Just be prepared with a tissue, that’s all I’m going to say. Bring a box of ‘em, in fact, because this book proves that “The Promise” isn’t all that can be broken.
Eat a Cheeseburger
Published: Monday, June 23, 2014
A cheeseburger may raise a few eyebrows but in fact, one a week may not necessarily be a bad thing. Meat contains all the essential amino acids needed for cellular growth in a ratio that has not been replicated in any man-made substitute. Additionally, a large portion of the fat in a meat like beef is monounsaturated oleic acid (just like in olive oil), which may help lower LDL or ‘bad cholesterol.’
The CEO of Castro Convertibles Shares the Importance of Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude
Name: Bernadette Castro
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Company Name: Castro Convertibles
Long Island Pulse: What was the key step that really got your career underway? Was there a watershed moment that you remember as being particularly important to starting your career?
Bernadette Castro: It was in 1948 when the success of a new medium called television, propelled Castro Convertibles, and with it, my career. It would be like, for example, the first YouTube clip of a child demonstrating a product. It’s rare to launch your career at the age of 4, but thanks to my mother (my dad wanted to hire a child model) I was launched and I have been opening Castro Convertibles ever since (except, of course, during the wonderful 12 years when I was running the New York State Parks and Historic Sites system)
Long Island Pulse: What do you credit as the secret to your success?
Bernadette Castro:Enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Whether I was selling Castro Convertibles or serving as Commissioner of the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, I always brought and bring enthusiasm and a positive attitude. You can either be happy or unhappy doing what you do. I’ve always chosen to be happy.
David J. Skorton, the President of Cornell University, put it nicely in his recent commencement address – “attitude is more important than aptitude.” I really believe that.
In addition you have to have at least one feature better than your competitors if you want to have a successful product or service. Knowing your audience and being able to relate to them is also key.
Long Island Pulse: What is the best way to get new business?
Bernadette Castro:The best way to get new business is to offer your target consumer something innovative, or a better value… like this $50 off promo code for Castro Convertibles. Just log on to our website http://www.castroconvertibles.com and enter the promo code LIPULSE.
Long Island Pulse: What is the most important thing you do or tactic you use in making a sale?
Bernadette Castro:Being absolutely positive that I am offering my customer more benefits than they might receive from any other similar product. Statistics show that today’s consumers are looking for quality over price. We’re really good at delivering quality.
Long Island Pulse: How do you respond to adversity?
Bernadette Castro:You learn and move on from it – it could be a small set back or huge mountain, regardless you have to stay focused, learn and never give up.
Long Island Pulse: What attracts you to the people you include in your social circle?
Bernadette Castro:I don’t really have a “social circle.” I have a family circle of a husband, 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law, a son-in-law and 8 grandchildren. My circle of friends is really shaped more like a heart. They are very patient and even though I don’t see them often, they know that if they need me I’ll be there.
Long Island Pulse: What makes you want to count someone as a close associate or a trusted ally?
Bernadette Castro:I look for dependability, honesty, creativity, a good sense of humor and someone who is willing to tolerate my emails that could come in any day of the week at all hours!
Long Island Pulse: What is the moment when you knew that you made it?
Bernadette Castro:I haven’t really made it yet. I’ll let you know when I do. It’s really about the climb. I’ve always loved working.
Long Island Pulse: What is something you do not do enough of?
Bernadette Castro:There are many things I do not do enough of. Among them – I don’t spend enough time with my grandchildren and children. I do not eat the amount of carbs I would like to eat! And lastly, I’m not setting aside time every day to work on that book I want to write.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker
Reissued limited edition classic muscle car looks great, runs on mother hens
Published: Friday, June 20, 2014
I want to love every car I drive, especially if it’s orange, like the 2014 Challenger Shaker I threw around a forested roadway on a gorgeous afternoon recently. For those unfamiliar, the Challenger was an afterthought to the exploding popularity of gulping, gorgeous American muscle cars of the 60s, but it was never the phenomenon the Mustang or the Camaro were. The Challenger’s legend loomed large, though, despite its short life, thus it was redesigned and re-launched in 2008 and is doing well enough that Dodge keeps making them.
The 2014 Shaker succeeds with said orange covering a body any fan of reissued classic American muscle cars would love. It’s got a for-real functional – as opposed to decorative – air intake on its uniquely carved, ballsy hood, with (optional) decklid stripes. Its 20-inch polished aluminum wheels look mean, masculine and ready for action, and the car also comes in assorted colors equally capable of putting you in touch with your inner Mannix, like Pitch Black, Billet Silver Metallic, Plum Crazy Pearl and others.
Inside, too, is swank and satisfying, with upscale leather seats, a high-performance flat bottom steering wheel, a bright pedal kit, black trim bezels and the Shaker logo here and there.
Where it punks out is in its get-up-and-go. Despite its V8 and 375 horses, a governor prevents you from redlining too far, so each gear quits and forces you to upshift before you can get any kind of insane roar, never mind real velocity. Sure, it’s for the engine’s own good to have a mother hen physically stopping you from punishing a car that’s supposed to be punished, but this car is more a steady cruiser than a “Challenger,” unless you’re challenging a Toyota Echo or a Chevy Cobalt.
We shouldn’t be overly surprised, though – the original Challenger, offered with no less than nine different engine choices, featured one 6-cylinder configuration making a blow dryer-ish 145 horsepower. Hardcore fans went for the Hemi V-8, 425 horsepower trim.
Did I love the Challenger? Let’s keep that between me and the car, which I had to have a heated discussion with more than once, more than twice while trying and failing to get it to do what I asked of it before realizing it simply could not.
The Shaker has hell of a rumble, though. It also looks great and feels good to drive, and its exclusivity – Dodge is only making 1,000 of them - makes it worth a drive, or even a buy.
For more information: http://www.dodge.com/en/2014/challenger-shaker/.
YouTube … It’s Not Just Funny Cat Videos Anymore
Everyone knows Google as the world’s largest and most popular search engine with Bing, Yahoo and Ask followed close behind. So today I pose the question …”Do you know what the second largest search engine is after Google?” If you said Yahoo you’d be incorrect. Bing you say? Nope, wrong again. It’s YouTube!
Yes, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine! Think about it. Let’s say you want to find out “How to Change your Oil,” … yes, there’s a video for that. Or, maybe you’d like to see how to “Properly Cut a Pineapple” … there’s a video for that too! Fact is there are more than 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute! And they’re not all stupid pet tricks.
YouTube began in 2005 as a place where folks, just like you or I, could upload videos of our friends, family and yes our pets and share them across the web.
Okay, nothing special here you might say? So what the “Charlie Bit My Finger” video has been seen over a million times … big deal right? Well it is a big deal.
Let’s face it, if you can watch someone teach you how to change your oil instead of reading how to do it, you’d choose the watch the video right? As humans we are naturally visual creatures. Studies have shown that when looking at photographs or watching videos humans have a greater retention rate of specific details as opposed to reading the written word. Yes, it is sad but true. Hey wait a minute … you’re reading this aren’t you? Excellent work!
So now the details are out of the way, what does this mean for you?
Okay, let’s say you’re a local florist and you know that in addition to having the best prices in the area on bouquets you know how to arrange and display that bouquet so perfectly that upon arrival the recipient sheds an immediate tear … dramatic, huh? Well, did you ever think of recording an instructional video on how YOU do it and uploading that video to YouTube? Sure, it may be a trade secret but if your customers see you showing them how it’s done you immediately gain credibility and stature in the industry. After all, you’re the ONLY person who can arrange them the way you do. The goal is to have customers begin to TRUST that you are the only person they can purchase those Bouquets from … (Heck yeah, I want my mom to immediately start weeping when they arrive!).
That’s just one example now let’s try translating this principal to your business.
Maybe you own a small café and you make the best bacon-grilled-cheese sandwich in all of Suffolk County … go ahead head to the kitchen and fix one up, record yourself doing it and upload it to YouTube! If you make it look appetizing and irresistible they’ll come running-in to taste it … guaranteed!
Now, knowing what we know now about the power of video let’s talk Search Engine Results. Being owned by Google, YouTube will always get the royal S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimization) treatment. Oh yes, Google shows preference (some would call it favoritism) to folks utilizing their search engines and it will show in search results when folks are looking for your business, your product or your service. Of course, just making a video doesn’t guarantee boatloads of cash or a swinging door for your business … but this simple and VERY inexpensive strategy, combined with other SEO tactics, will help drive search results and increased awareness to any business.
So grab your iPhone, your digital video camera or your SLR camera and start shooting! Once you’ve uploaded it to YouTube promote it on social media and share with everyone you can! It will help your page rank, your businesses presence and most of all… your wallet!
LI Native Testaverde Makes College Football HOF
Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Vinny Testaverde was a skilled and now legendary quarterback at every level from high school at Sewanhaka on Long Island to the NFL, where he ranks in the top 10 all-time in career passing yards.
He also excelled at the University of Miami and for his efforts on the collegiate level, Testaverde was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in its most recent class.
The 2013 hall of fame class was inducted at the 56th National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner last December, and will be officially enshrined this summer.
“We could not be more proud to announce the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said Archie Manning, NFF Chairman and a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Ole Miss, in a statement. “These players and coaches are some of the greatest to have ever participated in our sport, and we offer our most sincere congratulations to each of them for this incredible achievement. Gene Corrigan and the NFF Honors Court deserve the utmost respect for selecting another tremendous group of inductees.”
Testaverde had a stellar career at Miami, earning just about every honor a star quarterback can take home, including the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp Player of the Year honors, plus Maxwell, O’Brien and UPI Player of the Year awards. He led the Hurricanes to the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, that year’s National Championship game, while garnering First Team All-America honors.
The Testaverde File
*More than 6,000 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes
*Still ranks in top five of almost every passing category
*Was 23-3 as a starting quarterback at Miami
*One of four Hurricanes to have their jersey number retired
*Selected No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay Buccaneers
*Played 21 seasons in the National Football League
2013 College Football HOF Inductees
*TED BROWN – TB, North Carolina State (1975-78)
*TEDY BRUSCHI – DE, Arizona (1992-95)
*RON DAYNE – RB, Wisconsin (1996-99)
*TOMMIE FRAZIER – QB, Nebraska (1992-95)
*JERRY GRAY – DB, Texas (1981-84)
*STEVE MEILINGER* – E, Kentucky (1951-53)
*ORLANDO PACE – OT, Ohio State (1994-96)
*ROD SHOATE (deceased) – LB, Oklahoma (1972-74)
*PERCY SNOW – LB, Michigan State (1986-89)
*VINNY TESTAVERDE – QB, Miami, Fla. (1982, 1984-86)
*DON TRULL – QB, Baylor (1961-63)
*DANNY WUERFFEL – QB, Florida (1993-96)
*Coach, WAYNE HARDIN – 118-74-5 (61.2%); Navy (1959-64); Temple (1970-82)
*Coach, BILL McCARTNEY – 93-55-5 (62.4%); Colorado (1982-94)
Where We Come From
The easy comparison to make with Popcaan’s new album Where We Come From is that it sounds like the intersection of a Venn diagram containing Future and Buju Banton. I’m going to take that a step further though.
Popcaan’s Where We Come From sets him up as the first worthy successor to Buju.
Among a certain class of dancehall fan, this is akin to calling someone the “next Beatles” or “next Radiohead” (man, remember Travis?), so you can trust that I do not throw this claim out lightly.
In the 19 years since Banton’s dancehall/roots masterpiece ‘Til Shiloh plenty of artists have attempted to replicate his success and they’ve almost always missed the mark, putting out preachy albums over dancehall beats. Where Popcaan succeeds is that he recognizes Buju’s stance as a “complicated saint.” The sort of artist who can release some of the most uplifting, incredible singles the genre had ever seen and follow then up with the rum-pa-pa-pum swagger of “Champion” (or, if you’d prefer, release a song like “Untold Stories” and then get sentenced to 10 years in prison).
Similarly, Popcaan splits his time on his spaced out, futurist album between songs promoting positivity in the face of adversity and tracks that will tear a dance floor apart.
He strikes the balance so well, in fact, that it isn’t jarring when the undisputed king of aural menace Pusha T shows up for an outstanding guest spot in “Hustle.” It’s equally believable when he follows that up with two windable tales of across-the-club attraction (“Waiting So Long”, “Cool It”) only to transition into a conscious exploration of Jamaican street life (“Ghetto”).
No song better exemplifies the intricate poise of Where We Come From than “Hold On,” a Dre Skull-produced track that warps a beat reminiscent of “Duffel Bag Boy” into an empowering march directed squarely at disenfranchised youth.
While Popcaan’s success was virtually guaranteed after a co-sign from dancehall’s “world boss” Vybz Kartel, very few people expected an album of such quality. Much in the same way that Buju shocked the world in ’95, Popcaan is defying expectations with a perfect blend of radio-ready dance hits and thoughtful shout-outs.
Here’s hoping that Popcaan can keep this balancing act up. There’s certainly enough material for him to work with. As Buju himself said, he “could go on and on the full has never been told.”
Isles Fans Revel in Kings Victory
Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
For a brief time, Los Angeles was Long Island West during the Stanley Cup Final. I won’t speak for all Islanders fans, but I’m certain most were not supporting the Rangers during their quest for a fifth cup title and first in 20 years.
It didn’t happen and when the Kings clinched their second title in three years during Game 5 it was a relief for many. Something about the Rangers losing in overtime made the loss even more potent.
I traveled into New York City for Game 4 at Madison Square Garden hoping to see hockey history, but, instead, I saw a damn good hockey game and a 2-1 Rangers victory, which forced the cup-clinching game two days later across the country. Good for all the Kings fans that were able to see their team win the cup on home ice.
Before we go any further and you think this is a Rangers bashing column, because it’s really not, let me explain my disdain for the blue shirts somewhat psychologically. Let’s go back to 1994 when the Rangers swept the Islanders in the Eastern Conference
Quarterfinals. I was 8 years old and took a verbal beating from Rangers fans in the third grade. Sounds like nothing, I know, but it’s something. Just as we are affected by everything else that happens in our childhood, these fan-related incidents were so psychologically damaging to me as a child that it will have a lasting impact for the rest of my life. I dislike the Rangers because of how Rangers fans acted towards me as a young Islanders fan. On the flip side, my devotion towards the Islanders as a child and teen grew even stronger.
This series, all of those feelings came rushing back. Facebook and Twitter didn’t help. For a solid month as the playoffs developed, Rangers fans came out of the woodworks. Everyone who claimed to be a Rangers fan had something to say. The bandwagon was full. I kept relatively quiet until the last two days of the series. By then, the child inside had enough and I was wired to another level. When the Kings won, it evoked feelings as good as if any of my favorite teams actually clinched a title (only the Giants have in my lifetime, for the record).
During Game 4, I sat and observed as a sea of blue shirts rose from their seats to celebrate two Rangers goals. I did not stand and cheer for Los Angeles when they scored. I wanted to get home alive. Everyone erupted around me as I sat in silence, smirking slightly because I knew the outcome of the series would not end in their favor.
Someone on Twitter called me a sore loser for some lighthearted comments I made about the Kings’ victory. I replied with, “Today, I’m a winner!” The Islanders didn’t make the playoffs, barely stumbled out of the basement of the Metropolitan Division, have one season left at the Coliseum before moving to Brooklyn and are as lost as any franchise in professional sports, but for one night, for one brief moment in sports history, the Kings provided an escape that was so brilliant I’ll remember it for a lifetime.
A Pro, a Passport and a Passion for All Things Beautiful
Professional Makeup Artistry “Maltese Islands” Style with Violet Vella
Published: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Many say it’s a small world when it comes to the industry of makeup as a whole. I will disagree and agree at the same time. While writing this story, I sat just a few feet from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea in Mellieha Bay Malta, 5000 miles from home in New York. Business took me here to partner with a talented Maltese makeup artist with over 35 years experience, Violet Vella. The “small world” comes into play because coincidently, she was originally born in Astoria, New York. So I feel in some sense the word small is a proper way to describe the industry.
I first met Vella about a year ago in London at the International Make-up Artist Trade Show. Our mutual passion has brought us together once again, and in the interim I have come to appreciate the style of her work as an artist and now the beautiful island on which she lives located in the heart of the dreamlike Mediterranean. So what is it like to be someone whose biz is the art of the aesthetics in such an aesthetically pleasing setting? From the words of Vella, “It can be a blessing and also a challenge.”
My first time in Malta has been a unique experience in regards to people, history and culture. From a modern perspective, it is also a challenging place for one who pursues a career, because competition is somewhat fierce due to the island’s high population density. However, Vella gets down to business. So what is a makeup artist to do in Malta, or anywhere for that matter and in such a competitive field? Violet’s extensive experience, know-how and ability to diversify in her industry is what makes her so successful. Her love for what she does branches into education. As an internationally certified instructor at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, she passes along the knowledge to her students ensuring they are prepared in the departments of special effects, body murals, and fashion makeup, to name a few. To quote Violet, “my number one passion remains teaching. I love to teach.” Anyone in the field of knowledge sharing and nurturing another’s mind can relate. Vella’s abilities are not limited to just painting faces-the traditional canvas is another target for her talents. Since she was a young woman, Vella has honed her ability as a professional artist whose favorite mediums are oils and acrylics and subjects which include horses, natural setting and the classic shape of a woman’s body in dramatic scenes.
But back to the makeup side of things. Think Europe, and think makeup. What is the first thing that comes to mind? Did you guess fashion, models, style or that signature European old school glamour? If so, you are correct. Being a makeup artist in the EU is seriously fun and that is what brought me to Malta. The task at hand while visiting was for a swimwear photo shoot to capture images worthy of head turning and that WOW factor. The production executed seamlessly with professional models, an up and coming photographer, and of course Vella as the boss when it came to creating the looks.
Vella’s Makeup Kit Picks:
• Inglot “Duraline”, a clear silicone based liquid that will transform any powder into an intense easy to apply liquid. Vella says it also works great to rejuvenate dried out gel liners.
• Kryolan “Viva Brilliant Eye Shadow Palette”, Viva is a new make-up concept which is suitable for eyes, face and body. Viva Brilliant Color is a color intensive pressed powder with pearlescent effects which can be applied dry or with a moistened brush or sponge.
Vella’s Pro Tips:
• For those who are new don’t look at a job for the money, sometimes you have to do work without the pay. Self-promotion is important so always excel in your work even if it is a non-paying job, you never know who you will meet or who will see your work.
• For those veterans who believe you have reached your apex, you haven’t. Never stop learning because no one knows everything. In this industry knowledge sharing is what sets apart the professionals from the rest. Remember, a professional once shared with you.
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