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Last Minute Tech Shoppers Guide
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Dec. 19
Published: Friday, December 19, 2014
Little Speaker, Big Sound, Low Price
This last-minute stocking stuffer never sounded so good. For under 20 dollars you can give the gift of “booming sound” in a tiny, palm-of-your-hand sized speaker system. The on-board 1/8” cable plugs right in to your phone or MP3 player and, with a small twist of the carriage, let the booming bass begin! Various colors make this the perfect gift for him or her.
Tired of looking for the right charger for the right device? Us too. That’s why there’s the EZO Power Desktop Charging Station. Charge 3 USB devices AND 3 AC socket devices simultaneously. There’s also a nifty slot built right-in where you can comfortably lay your iPhone or Tablet for hands free reading and touch screen accessibility. Plus, the whole thing is surge protected so your devices are safe and free from damage even when the lights blow out. The EZO POWER Desktop Charging station is inexpensive too, so you can get one for them and for you.
No Texting, No Worries
Worried about your children texting and driving? We all do, so why not spend money this holiday season on a smartphone app that is worth every penny of the $29.99 you’ll spend. Textecution is an app that disables the texting feature on your teenager’s smartphone. You set all the criteria for their use, you can even override the feature in case they are a passenger, or traveling on a bus back to school. In addition, if they try to uninstall or hack the application, you are alerted and can communicate instantly with your child ensuring their continued safety. Make sure to check the specs for your cell phone provider and operating system.
Have someone on your gift list this year that drinks vintage soda, smokes cigarettes and likes to take steady-cam photos or videos? Well you’re in luck! Here comes the Defender Any Shock iPhone 5 case! At a tailgate party and need to open a cold drink? Reach for your phone! Looking for your cigarette lighter? No problem, this phone can do that too. See a great photo or video that needs a steady hand? Your phone is tri-pod ready! Plus, the whole thing is shock-proof, water-proof and designed to look great! Under 20 dollars and ready to be wrapped-up for the gadget guy or gal on your list.
New Year’s Day Most Active For Thieves
Happy New Year, where’s my car?
It takes less time for a career car thief to enter your vehicle, start it and be off as it does for you to dash inside Dunkin’ Donuts for your morning Joe, but on January 1, 2015, keep an extra eye out. Thieves not sleeping it off will be waiting like vultures continuing to make New Year’s Day the year’s most-stolen-car day of the year. And lest you think your commuter clunker is immune to theft, you should know the 1994 Honda Accord is one of the most stolen vehicles across the country. Nassau County Acting Commissioner of Police Thomas C. Krumpter also said there’s been an increase in luxury cars and SUV’s stolen in the country since October. If your nice new luxury vehicle has a push button starter and electronic key fobs, you’re particularly popular.
“We know that thieves never miss an opportunity to make a quick buck by stealing a car,” Joe Wehrle, president and CEO of NICB said. “They work weekends, nights and holidays and ironically, they are particularly busy on New Year’s Day and Labor Day.”
While there isn’t any way to stop a crook who really wants your ride and has the tools and know-how to make it happen, the following tips can help your car become a less inviting target and slow down, discourage or actually prevent car theft.
Take your keys—always.
If you think this tip falls into the “duh” section of car theft prevention, try Googling the phrase “keys in ignition” or similar and you’ll see many trusting souls leave the equivalent of a sign reading “FREE CAR!” hanging from their ignition switches on a daily basis. Car theft is often a crime of opportunity, so shut yours off and pocket your keys even if you’re only ducking into a convenience store.
Don’t hide your keys anywhere within or outside the car.
You know those magnetic key holders you can buy to store your spare key? Leave it in your house on the fridge, not under bumpers, in the glove compartment or anywhere in the car. Thieves know all the hiding places you do, and probably a few more.
Use a variety of methods to slow would-be thieves.
Car alarms are ubiquitous and often go ignored. When used in tandem with other theft prevention methods, though, they will make a thief naturally try to work faster, and if he comes across other security measures, he may give up altogether and move on. Apply the emergency brake, turn your wheels hard left or right and set the car in “park” or in gear, making it more difficult for you to be quickly towed, and consider using a vehicle recovery system like LoJack or an engine immobilizer device such as Ravelco.
Disable your battery if parking long-term
A thief won’t spend time trying to diagnose an apparent engine problem. Consider yanking one of the cable wires to your battery if you’re leaving your car parked at an airport or anywhere else where it will sit unattended for more than a few days.
Sign valuable parts
Take the time to embed your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the inside of your trunk, inside your doors, on your sound system components and any other pricey parts thieves like to chop. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, contact your local police precinct or even your insurance company, some of whom offer free VIN etchings.
Jingle Boom Holiday Bash in Huntington!
Put on that ugly holiday sweater and enjoy treats, live music and poetry December 20
Published: Thursday, December 18, 2014
It’s a feast for the senses—so eat, drink, dance and be merry. SPARKBOOM, an affiliate of the Huntington Arts Council, invites you to spark the halls of HAC’s Main Street Gallery for the Jingle Boom Holiday Bash on Saturday, Dec. 20. This free art-filled event (suggested donation $5) allows you to simultaneously get into the holiday spirit and chill out before seeing the relatives.
Gallery windows will be dressed by graffiti artist Reme 821 and fine artist Caitlyn Shea. There will be performances by acoustic experimental band Cloud Caverns, hip-hop/ska group Nonstop to Cairo and singer/songwriter Robert Sloan with spoken word/poetry by Steven T. Licardi, Bri Onishea, James Kim, Frankie A Soto and Meredith Nussbaum.
Indulge in homemade donuts and sweet treats from Stella Blue Bistro, craft beer courtesy of Saint James Brewery and fruit oil-infused Hint Water. And don’t forget to dig up that Christmas sweater for the Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest…
What: Jingle Boom Holiday Bash
Where: Huntington Arts Council’s Main Street Gallery, 213 Main Street, Huntington
When: Saturday, December 20th from 6-10pm
Free ($5 suggested donation)
For more info: http://www.facebook.com/events/317075631826692/?ref=22
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Guide to Holiday Music
Are you listening?
Published: Wednesday, December 17, 2014
If you are tired of sharing the mall with other stressed-out, over-drawn shoppers and would like to spend this holiday season in regal splendor in a time gone by, pick up Christmas at Downton Abbey (Warner Bros.). This 2-CD set features period holiday music and even a few numbers from members of the cast. Other performances include heavenly holiday chestnuts from Choir of Kings College Cambridge, Taverner Choir and Taverner Consort, among many other artists.
A perfect follow-up to the mostly classical and choral-inspired Downton Abbey Christmas is A Michael Feinstein Christmas (Concord). Feinstein is a New Yorker, but an American treasure in the way his career has been devoted to keeping the great American songbook fresh for new generations of music listeners. This sparse piano and vocal outing perfectly captures the simple melodies and timelessness of holiday songs from various eras, but with an obvious emphasis on pre-rock ballads.
Idina Menzel has become a superstar as the voice of Elsa in the animated family blockbuster film Frozen. This Christmas CD Holiday Wishes (Warner Bros.) is the perfect follow-up to the film and with her current star turn on Broadway in If/Then, she claims a unique place in the world of music. Her duet here with Michael Buble on “Baby It’s Cold Outside” alone makes this CD worth the price of admission.
An American group who has created a unique hybrid of holiday and winter music in the past and now has another fresh take on the season is Over The Rhine. The group is basically led by the husband and wife team of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist. Their newest, Blood Oranges in the Snow (Great Speckled Dog), continues in the vein of previous releases with original songs that directly address the holiday season and others that reflect the many moods of winter.
Dan Hicks has had a remarkable career as a member of both the seminal Psychedelic San Francisco group The Charlatans and Bay-area retro faves Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks. If that is not enough, Hicks has been making holiday music with various friends as the Christmas Jug Band. Their newest CD, Jugology: Greatest Near Misses (Best Of…), on Globe Records, collects tracks from their five acclaimed albums. There are two tracks not available on previous releases, making this an indispensable new release for hardcore Jug Band fans.
A new seven song-EP worth searching out this season is I’ll Be Home For Christmas (Epic). The main draw here is Fiona Apple’s one-of-a-kind take on “Frosty the Snowman” and the duet of “Winter Song” from Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson.
Finally, don’t miss the reissue of Imagene Peise: Atlas Eets Christmas (Warner Bros.)from the Flaming Lips originally released in 2007.
Bundle Up Your Good Looks
Cold weather remedies to fight away the frost
When it gets cold, things begin to crack. Sub-zero temperatures can create a dermal battle between hydration and dryness on exposed surfaces that result in wrecked skin and splitting lips. To combat and relieve the discomfort, we must add to the artillery and protect from wintry weather to ensure we are smiling without pain.
Protect Lip Rescue
Coat your lips daily with this hand crafted ointment aimed to prevent damage and instantly sooth painful splits. The collection of chosen oils nurture and heal by instantly injecting a deep moisturizing treatment. Lip Rescue’s oils also feature medicinal benefits that act as bacteria killing and anti-inflammatory agents which create the perfect solution for lips in need.
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Safflower Oil, Aloe Vera Gel, Calendula Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil, Carrot Seed Essential Oil, Rose Hip Seed Oil, Essence of Calendula Flowers
NARS Optimal Brightening Concentrate by Shiseido
Sometimes the moisturizer you are applying just isn’t enough and you need a boost. Revive dull skin with a serum, or what I also describe to clients as the “mega moisturizer.” Face serums pack concentrated treatments that benefit the skin by diminishing redness, hydrating the dermal layers, and giving a soft supple feel and look. There are many to choose from, but I recommend a serum that you can wear with or without makeup due to its duality in features and benefits.
NARS Serum features:
Noni Energy-Boost Technology: Helps to support cell energy.
NARS Exclusive Light Reflecting Complex: Enhances skin’s luminosity.
Yeast Polysaccharides: Helps bring life back to dull complexions.
It’s paramount to keep your skin nourished at all times, but then again even more so when it is cold outside. I have personally benefited from the above mentioned remedies and can attest to their effectiveness, hence the reason for my testimonial. No one wants to wake up, smile, and feel a painful split, and no one wants dry rough skin ruining first impressions. Let’s be clear here, it’s all about the face.
Five Shows to Watch For
New series with the potential to catch on and stick around
Published: Tuesday, December 16, 2014
As 2015 quickly approaches, so do a few new TV series. Mid season shows generally serve the purpose of filling out a Network’s schedule after other shows are either cancelled, put on hiatus or end their ordered run. Quite often they turn out to be hits and return for full runs the following season. Here are the new series that I think will catch on and stick around.
ABC has a plan to keep you deeply enmeshed in the Marvel Universe when “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” go on break for the winter. Premiering January 6th, “Agent Carter” will show us the further adventures of Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) in the 1950s and the part she played in founding the formidable spy organization. We’ve already seen her in flashbacks and her role in the storyline on “S.H.I.E.L.D.” this season so expect some of the action on “Agent Carter” to carry over when the other show resumes its second season in March.
Created by “12 Years a Slave” scriptwriter John Ridley, the crime drama “American Crime” debuts on ABC on March 5th. The cast alone on this show is astonishing. Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, W. Earl Brown, Penelope Ann Miller, BVR right now. The series will center on the trial for a racially charged murder and take a hard look at race, class and gender politics. This should be on your viewing schedule as I’m certain it will generate a lot of discussion following each episode.
Rainn Wilson returns to television in the comedy-drama series “Backstrom,” based on a book series by Leif G. W. Persson. The show, developed by “Bones” executive producer Hart Hanson, focuses on Everett Backstrom (Wilson) who is described as overweight, offensive and irascible. He leads a group of criminologists that are equally oddball. Wilson was one of the highlights of “The Office” and the previews for “Backstrom” show that he is on fire in this role. I expect this one to develop a large and loyal following pretty quickly. Look for this starting January 22nd on FOX.
“Empire” is already a show that I think will quickly become a favorite. This series centers on Empire Entertainment CEO Luscious Lyon (Terence Howard), who has ruled the world of hip-hop music for years. After being diagnosed with soon-to-be crippling disease, Luscious faces two challenges. The first is deciding which son to groom as heir to the throne. The second is his ex-wife, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), recently released from prison after taking the fall for Luscious. Cookie is fearless and out to claim what she thinks is rightfully hers. The ensuing battle should be awesome to watch.
Despite starring on a string of shows that were highly acclaimed yet short-lived, Matthew Perry hasn’t given up on Television. He is returning in the new year alongside Thomas Lennon in a new version of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” Perry plays sports writer and slob Oscar Madison, while Lennon is the uptight, cleanliness-obsessive Felix Unger. Perry played a hand in developing this new version which seems to stick to all of the elements that made the original play and TV version work well, so hopefully this will be the series where the former “Friends” star will be able to catch lightning in a bottle again. I loved the original series and Perry and Lennon have the comedic chops to make this a success, so I will be watching with fingers-crossed. Hopefully, lots of other people will be, too.
How-to: Stay Hydrated
How many glasses of water should you drink daily?
Published: Monday, December 15, 2014
Why is water so essential for us? Not only is it zero calories, easily available and inexpensive, it comprises about 60 percent of our body weight which means we should replenish our bodies with an adequate amount of H2O daily.
The guidelines are as such: men should drink about 12 cups and women about 9 cups daily. Each cup contains eight ounces, which is exactly equivalent to a measuring cup, and about half the size of a tall glass! People tend to over think the duty of drinking 9-12 cups of water daily, so it may be easier than you think. On average, 25 percent of the food we eat contains water, with fruits and vegetables containing a much higher ratio. This water counts towards your daily intake as well. Like vitamins and minerals, water is a natural essential to staying healthy and strong.
Favorite Shows of 2014
Looking back at the 2014 Fall TV Season
Published: Friday, December 12, 2014
As the year comes to a close, it is time to look back at the first part of the 2014 Fall TV Season. This year it seems that the Networks have been restrained on dropping the axe on low-performing series as there has been relatively few cancellations so far. As more and more people are choosing to watch shows on their own schedule, those concerned with ratings are looking at the long game as opposed to how many view the first broadcast of an episode. Having said all that, here is what caught my eye this Fall.
As you may be tired of reading, I had developed a love/hate viewership with “Castle” over the summer, fueled by its misfire of a season finale. I cautiously waded into the new season and, despite some initial misgivings, I have had my faith restored. Obviously, the heart and soul of the show are Stana Katic as Kate Beckett and Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, but Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever consistently bring the funny and outstanding acting to the proceedings. Even though the show feels invigorated this year, I’d still be ok with it ending and going out on a high note.
“The Good Wife” has always been outrageous, soapy and in turns comical and dramatic. This has never been more true than this year. The storylines remain unpredictable and the acting is top-notch. At the center is Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick. Margulies has come such a long way since her career-making role on “ER” and here she just shines. She can change emotions in a split-second, but instead of controlling every scene she is in, Margulies instead gives and takes in a way that elevates the show to something altogether different. I’ve described episodes in the past as a ballet because they are always intricately and precisely unveiled. Long may queen Alicia grace our TV screens.
Despite my love of the above two shows, for my money “Blue Bloods” is the best acted show on Television. Now in its fifth season it has lost none of its bite or passion. Donnie Wahlberg wowed audiences in the 1999 film “The Sixth Sense” and continues to do so here with his portrayal of Danny Reagan. Also, any show that stars Tom Selleck instantly has a certain high quality to it. Both Selleck and Wahlberg raise the bar and the rest of the cast definitely rises to the occasion. With stories ripped from today’s headlines with an interest in presenting all sides of a story, this series strikes a poignant note every week.
One of my two new favorites is “Scorpion.” Being a computer nerd myself, anything that makes them the heroes instantly gets my attention. Adding adrenaline-fueled action and a surprisingly infectious sweetness are great touches. This is a show about the kind of family that is not blood-related, but is built and bonded by shared experiences and caring for each other, despite, or maybe because of, any perceived differences. And, hey, it’s a real treat getting to see Robert Patrick every week, so there’s that.
My other new favorite is “Forever.” Immortality has been portrayed in film and TV in many ways over the years. Typically there is always a price to pay, whether it be becoming a vampire, being compelled to fight other immortals to the decapitation or even just the unending pain of outliving those you care about. “Forever” falls in the last category, but the main character, Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) is not a maudlin man. He still loves life and the company of his now elderly son, Abe (Judd Hirsch). There is an ongoing mystery that is not heavily serialized and the case-of-the-week aspect is effectively utilized. I see it only growing more compelling over time and I hope it has some of the longevity of its main character.
A Book a Week
Books never run out of batteries, don’t have to be turned off before bedtime and are calorie-free
Every year, your gift list gets longer.
Some of the newbies on your list are also new to the family. Some are friends to whom you’ve grown close. There’s that neighbor who’s so awesome, the new supervisor at work, an uncle who’s visiting this year, your child’s new teacher, and a Secret Santa program you’ve joined. And usually, you’re able to keep up with your list and know exactly what to give… but then there’s that one person who’s so hard to shop for.
Why not give a book? Books never run out of batteries, they don’t have to be turned off before bedtime, and they’re totally calorie-free. Take a look at these suggestions…
The Neil Gaiman fan on your list is in luck this year: first, “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” illustrated by Eddie Campbell is a novel with aspects of graphic novels and the flair that Gaiman fans relish.
If historical fiction is of great interest to someone on your gift list, then look for “Desert God” by Wilbur Smith. This novel, set in ancient Egypt, includes a hero who is very close to the Pharaoh… almost too close. Magic, love, war – what else could your giftee want?
The Neil Gaiman fan on your list is in luck this year: first, “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” illustrated by Eddie Campbell is a novel with aspects of graphic novels and the flair that Gaiman fans relish. And your giftee will know that this years’ best gift came from you when you wrap it up with “The Art of Neil Gaiman” by Hayley Campbell, foreword by Audrey Niffenegger, a book filled with notes, artwork, poetry, reflections, and more from The Master.
Western lovers will love reading “The Ploughmen” by Kim Zupan, a story of a green lawman and the older jailed killer he’s tasked with watching. Set in the Old West, this book is laced with a tautness that modern readers will love. Wrap it up with “Painted Horses” by Malcolm Brooks, a novel with a modern setting and a romantic spin.
For the suspense fan who loves a little ghost story, too, how about “Haunted” by Randy Wayne White? This suspense novel features White’s newest character, Hannah Smith, who is tasked with saving a supposedly-haunted house. But is the rumor of a ghost worse than the reality of a murderous flesh-and-blood human? Wrap it up with “Remains of Innocence” by J.A. Jance, a suspenseful novel about a dying woman and her money, a dead man and a scandal, and the sheriff who must solve both terrible cases.
The thriller fan on your list will love “Mercy 6” by David Bajo, a novel about a mystery disease that’s killing people in a California hospital – or is it? Are the patients dying of illness or something else? Grab this one, and toss “Bones Never Lie” by Kathy Reichs, in the bag, too. It’s a novel of suspense featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
If you’ve got someone on your gift list who’s itching to start all over, preferably as someone else, then “How to Build a Girl” by Caitlin Moran could be the just-right gift. This sassy novel is about a teenager who tries to reinvent herself but, of course, things like that don’t always work so well…
You may have a visitor to Mitford on your gift list this year, and there’s no doubt that she misses her favorite town and her favorite pastor – so “Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good” by Jan Karon is a sure-fire gift. In this book, Father Tim returns to Mitford with his wife and family after a five-year absence, only to find that some things change – and not just a little.
For the reader who loves faction (fact + fiction), you’ll want to find “The True and Splendid History of the Harristown Sisters” by Michelle Lovric. Based on a real family of sisters who grew their hair long (LONG!!) and performed in public, this book imagines their relationships with one another, the jealousy, and the scandal.
For the parent on your list – particularly for the parent of a picky toddler – wrap up “You Have to F*cking Eat” by Adam Mansbach, illustrated by Owen Brozman. It’s the follow-up to the sleep book from a few years ago, the one that made parents hysterical with laughter. Be aware – I can’t stress this enough – that this book has profanity, so it’s NOT for kids but it IS for folks with a great sense of humor.
There is absolutely no trivia fan in the world who could be without “1,339 Quite Interesting Facts to Make Your Jaw Drop” by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin. This totally fun book is filled with I-didn’t-know-that facts that practically beg to be read aloud. It’s the kind of book you want to take on the ride to Grandma’s this holiday, so you can share it on the road.
If there’s someone on your gift list who likes to poke the bear and stir up trouble, then “Villains, Scoundrels, and Rogues” by Paul Martin may be the right thing to wrap. This book is filled with short chapters on all kinds of real-life troublemakers and shady citizens. How fun is that? Wrap it up with “Madam Belle: Sex, Money, and Influence in a Southern Brothel” by MaryJean Wall, for an even more rascally gift.
The person on your list who lives by the motto “I (Heart) NY” will absolutely swoon over “A History of New York in 101 Objects” by Sam Roberts. This book is a love story to The Big Apple, complete with pictures, stories, and tiny little things that make NYC so FUN. Wrap it up with “Confessions of a New York Taxi Driver” by Eugene Salomon, a name-dropping, jaw-dropping collection of memories of fares, no-fairs, stars, scandalous behavior, and tourists. Who could miss that?
Your card sharp will find Lady Luck smiling when he (or she!) opens “Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, The Texas Gangster Who Created Vegas Poker” by Doug J. Swanson. This is a book to prove that what happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas – and that’s a good thing.
What makes a good love last? Someone on your gift list wonders that same thing, and in “Love Cycles” by Linda Carroll, she (or he!) will find the answer. Wrap it up with two tickets to anywhere, and wish the happy couple well.
The gardener on your list is going to go wild for “A Garden of Marvels” by Ruth Kassinger. This is a book about the secret lives of plants: what they eat, how they mate, and how they grow. Wrap it up with a trowel and a few packages of seeds, for a nice promise-of-spring gift.
For the person on your list who seems to be Google’s biggest user, “Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends On It” by Ian Leslie could be just right to give. This book proves that curiosity isn’t at an all-time high, like you might think; in fact, it’s on the wane and that’s bad.
For the musician or lover of classical music, “The Late Starters Orchestra” by Ari L. Goldman will be a nice surprise this holiday. It’s the story of a group of amateur musicians of all ages who get together once a week to do something that makes their hearts soar – and it’ll put a song in the heart of your giftee.
The outdoorsman on your list doesn’t need another pair of hand warmers or wool socks – so wrap up “The Three-Minute Outdoorsman” by Robert M. Zink instead. This book is full of short, just-a-few-pages essays on hunting, fishing, and nature, and (believe it or not) science. He (or SHE!) is going to love this book.
For the True Crime aficionado, “Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a killer to Justice” by Kate Clark Flora might be the most thrilling gift she opens this year. It’s the story of a missing woman, murder, and the cooperation between law enforcement departments in two countries.
Your connoisseur of cocktails will love opening “Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit” by Dane Huckelbridge. This book takes a look at this drink that’s older than you think, and uniquely American. Pair it up with a couple of good glasses and “Moonshine Nation” by Mark Spivak. It’s a history of the spirit, and your giftee will absolutely love that it contains party-worthy recipes!
For the lead on the debate team, “Impolite Conversations” by Cora Daniels and John L. Jackson Jr. will be a welcome gift. This discussion on all the things that start an argument in polite circles (race, politics, sex, cash, and God) may poke thoughts or anger; either way, it’s perfect for the person who loves a good, challenging argument. Add “Living with a Wild God” by Barbara Ehrenreich – a nonbeliever’s quest for a higher power – for a debatably perfect gift.
The animal lover on your list will sit up and beg for “Animal Madness” by Laurel Braitman. It’s a book about how neurotic, anxiety-ridden, misbehaving animals – domestic and otherwise – may hold clues to our own behavior. Pair it up with “Wild Connection” by Jennifer L. Verdolin, a book about animal courtship and how we’re more like them than we know…
And for any dog lover you know, a two-pronged book will be just right. First, you’ll want to fetch “Dogs in Cars” by Lara Jo Regan, a pictorial of (you guessed it) very happy dogs in very cool cars.
Then add “Shake Puppies” by Carli Davidson, a book filled with pictures of (guessed it again) puppies in the midst of a good soul-fixing shake. For sure, these books made me hug my fur-boys, and they’re double delight for your doggie demands.
I was, by the way, completely, totally charmed by “Harlow & Sage (and Indiana)” by Brittni Vega, a tale (with pictures!) of three four-footed best friends and their adventures. It’s absolutely something your dog-lover would beg for.
For the spiritual person on your gift list, “The Grateful Table” by Brenda Knight, foreword by Nina Lesowitz will be an excellent book to wrap up. It’s filled with prayers, graces and thoughts meant for mealtime, but not only. Your giftee will be more than welcome to use it anytime… maybe even right after it’s opened! Pair it up with “Having the Time of Your Life: Little Lessons to Live By” by Allen Klein, a book of quotations to further enhance joy.
The movie buff on your list will eat up “The Zombie Book: An Encyclopedia of the Living Dead” by Nick Redfern, with Brad Steiger. It’s filled with entries on the genre, including directors, plots, and TV shows. Innocent fun – no. A welcome gruesome gift – absolutely yes! Wrap it up with “The Government UFO Files: The Conspiracy of Cover-Up” by Kevin D. Randle for a gift that creeps on giving.
One more thing for your movie buff: “The Sci-Fi Movie Guide” by Chris Barsanti. It’s packed with SF goodness, facts, and bios, and when you add in a DVD of your favorite oldie-but-a-goodie, you know it’ll be the best thing beneath the tree.
So there’s a mathematician on your gift list, or someone who loves numbers? Then look for “Whatever Happened to the Metric System?” by John Bemelmans Barciano. It’s a great account of why we don’t largely use millimeters and centimeters, but why science does and Europeans definitely do. It’ll be a great gift – count on it.
Historians who also love a little geography in their books will love “Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day” by Carrie Gibson.
The Royal Watcher on your list might like watching back a few hundred years with “How to Ruin a Queen” by Jonathan Beckman. This book is about Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, their lives and times – but it also focuses on a true crime mystery of missing diamonds.
A curious history for those on the go is “Winnebago Nation” by James B. Twitchell. This book examines our love of RVs, campers, and travel, and it includes plenty of old ads and pictures. Wrap it with a journal and a map for a great gift.
World War II buffs probably have shelves and shelves of books about the War, but here’s an unusual book that might work as a gift this year: “The Dog Who Could Fly” by Damien Lewis, It’s the tale of a two-legged airman and his four-legged co-pilot, a small German shepherd that accompanied his human on many flights and even saved his life.
BIOGRAPHIES and MEMOIRS
Surely, there’s an adrenaline junkie on your list who will relish the chance to read “Alone in Antarctica” by Felicity Aston! This memoir from the first woman to ski across the globe’s southern-most continent all by herself is filled with danger, adventure, and everything armchair daredevils want.
The romantic soul on your list will LOVE “Romance is My Day Job” by Patience Bloom. Bloom is an editor at romance-novel giant Harlequin, but she’d never found love herself. She’d given up on it, in fact, until a tiny little chance encounter changed everything. Happy ending? I’m not saying, but it’s a romance, after all, you know…
Historians who also love a little geography in their books will love “Empire’s Crossroads: A History of the Caribbean from Columbus to the Present Day” by Carrie Gibson. It’s a sweeping brick-of-a-book that encompasses the whole area, the countries that have laid claim to it over the years, and the people who live there now.
The art lover on your list will smile enigmatically when opening “Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered” by Dianne Hales. It’s the story of da Vinci’s most famous model, her life, and what life was like when she sat for her portrait.
What do you give to the person who’s going through the trial of her life? You might wrap up “A Breast Cancer Alphabet” by Madhulika Sikka. In here, your friend will find advice, a bit of humor, information from the Been-There, Done-That crew, and more. Bonus: it’s an easy book to browse.
For the forward thinker on your list, “Cannabis Pharmacy” by Michael Backes may be just the right thing to wrap. This is a book about growing, using, and knowing about medical marijuana, from the plant to the end user and everything in between.
If there’s a First Responder on your gift list, you can’t go wrong when you give “Bulletproof Spirit” by Captain Dan Willis.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook incident, “The Price of Silence” by Liza Long asks the question that many mothers asked: what if the shooter was my child? This book takes a look at mental illness in children, from the perspective of a family member, and it’s a fascinating book that could make a stellar gift.
And there you are! A whole lot of ideas for that hard-to-buy-for person on your gift list. Best of all, if these ideas don’t fill the bill, then you can always give a gift certificate, or you can throw yourself at the mercy of your friendly bookseller. Yes, he or she is absolutely brimming with ideas for everybody on your gift list, so what are you waiting for?
The Next Front Line
A group of Long Island based teens are creating musical magic
Published: Wednesday, December 10, 2014
For the past six months, I have been following a band that possesses musical originality in performance and composition on a level which I have not experienced for a long time—and certainly never before from a group of high school-age musicians. These Long Island based teens are creating musical magic right now, and anyone who wonders where the next “front line” will emerge needs look no further than The Little Red Men.
Earlier this year, I was invited by my friend Rick Eberle to attend an event in Great Neck that featured live performances from a variety of young Long Island-based artists. It was a last-minute invitation, and it had already been a long day, so I was somewhat on the fence about making the trip westward. I decided to do a bit of research on the performers to help make my decision. Clicking on the various links to the artist/band web pages, I was unimpressed until I got to The Little Red Men … and then the pendulum swung. Listening to the opening chord progression of “Off Guard,” my eyes widened in wonder as I marveled to the musical ingenuity my ears were absorbing. In fact, the first 30 seconds of that track was the impetus that got me in the car headed to Great Neck to see what this band could do live. The four-piece band delivered a set that left no doubt as to the potential inherent in this group of musicians.
I attended several additional shows from that point, from Smithtown to Montauk, and became more convinced that this was indeed a band to be reckoned with. After a change in drummers, the current lineup is comprised of Brandon Gurba (vocals, rhythm guitar), Nicholas Granelle (lead guitar), Andrew Golub (bass guitar) and Jordan Godfrey (drums). Each of these individuals is a first-rate musician, and the songwriting team of Gurba and Granelle produces material that is miles above the mindless pap of radio fodder that is currently infesting the airwaves. Songs like “Off Guard,” “Jessie,” “6,” “Psycho,” “Jibberish” and “Blueberry Jam” demonstrate a level of songwriting ability and musical prowess that is, to these ears, unmatched by their peers. The Little Red Men are my favorite new band, hands down.
I recently spent a Saturday evening at the Granelle home interviewing the band, also checking out some new studio recordings, and was treated to a live performance of songs both old and new, all in the privacy and comfort of the band’s home studio/rehearsal space. Sitting around the Granelle’s dining room table, we got down to business, discussing the recent past, the present, and what the band hopes will be an exciting future.
The newly recorded version of “Off Guard” with its fusion of radio-friendly alternative rock with progressive swing, funk, and jazz stunned me with its professional mixing, arrangement, and performances, both instrumental and vocal. Live, the band has soared to new creative heights at an altitude that most groups can only dream of, let alone achieve. The musical maturity exhibited by The Little Red Men exists side by side with a four-cornered friendship that each member is fiercely proud of and committed to.
For our full conversation, visit Island Zone Update
LI Native Featured on ‘A Football Life’
NFL monster’s life portrayed in documentary, shows softer and emotional side
Long before Lyle Alzado was crushing quarterbacks and linemen in the National Football League, he was a strong and hard-nosed player at Lawrence High School in Nassau County.
A native of Cedarhurst, N.Y., Alzado used to lift weights in longtime Lawrence coach Rich Mollo’s garage while staring for the Golden Tornadoes. He eventually went onto Yankton College in South Dakota and was selected by the Denver Broncos in the fourth round of the NFL draft in 1971.
His life is the subject of “A Football Life” profile on NFL Network. It aired for the first time in November. The documentary airs randomly on the network, so check your channel guide to catch it.
Originally it was purely his on-field success that drew attention to Alzado. He was AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1977, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro selection. He was as dominant as any defensive end in the 1970s.
Then came the commercials and Hollywood notoriety, especially since he played in Los Angeles with the Raiders in the early 1980s.
He was a terrifying player. The league even crowned the “Lyle Alzado Rule” after he flung a helmet of Jets tackle Chris Ward in a game in the ‘70s. Now helmets can’t be used as weapons.
All that rage was chalked up to steroids eventually, something he didn’t admit to using until after his retirement and after he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He credits steroids with his death and downfall.
The NFL did not begin testing for steroids until the year after Alzado retired in 1985.
The documentary shows his struggles with supplements, his desire to be a good person and how his death affected so many people, including friends, family and former teammates.
Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree
Americana band Rough Shop takes on the holiday season
Published: Tuesday, December 09, 2014
My wife gets tired when the gifts look like they were wrapped by little kids
This Yuletide will be different cause this is what I did:
Realized my wrapping weak spot could never be addressed at home
So I took care of that shortage of those papers, strings and bows
Gimme That Twine! Unhand that Ribbon!
No Terpsichore till they’re under the tree
—“Gimme that Twine!” by Rough Shop
Need to spice up that holiday record collection?
Informed by folk, rock, soul and country music, the award-winning St. Louis-based band Rough Shop has released its second Christmas cd, Lit Up Like A Christmas Tree. The Americana quintet—lead guitarist Andy Ploof, bassist Anne Tkach, rhythm guitarist John Wendland, pianist Jon Parsons and drummer Spencer Marquart—is joined by special guests from bands like Ransom Note, Magnolia Summer and the Love Experts.The 13-track cd includes nine originals, a rewrite and three rare covers: British folk-rock band Stackridge’s “North St. Grande,” the Carole King/Gerry Goffin-penned, “I Wish You a Merry Christmas” and a soulful version of Marvin Gaye’s “Purple Snowflakes.”
But what makes the album really shine are the Rough Shop originals spanning a wave of Christmas feelings from loneliness and wonder to longing and pure joy—with the requisite humor thrown in. Songs like the nostalgic, Wilco-esque leadoff track “Christmas Isn’t Like Any Day” and the wistful “Snowbound Girl”: “When the holidays are crashing all around you/ A blanket of white is all you see/ Crowds and confusion surround you/ And you’re longing for the way you used to be…” could well be holiday classics.
The band livens things up on the jazzy “Santa, What You Got in the Bag?” and “Gimme That Twine!”, a swingin’ remake of Jon Hendrick’s “Gimme That Wine,” with Wendland writing of a family man experiencing a wrapping paper shortage. (This is likely the first holiday song ever written using ‘Terpsichore,’ the Greek word for the Muse of dancing and song, to rhyme with tree) There’s something for everyone on Rough Shop’s holiday album—including the hungover: “Sick Again,” and those who can’t make it home for the holidays: “Christmas at the Super 8”—so put it on during that tree trimming.
Take a listen here: http://roughshop.bandcamp.com/album/lit-up-like-a-christmas-tree
How to: Make Fantastic Holiday Bark
Add a little here, touch up a little there
Published: Monday, December 08, 2014
One of my favorite reasons to “cook” instead of “bake” is because nothing has to be precise. You can add a little here, touch up a little there. Take a little taste as you go along without worrying about getting sick from a raw egg poking around. If your recipe needs another dash of salt, just sprinkle it right in there. That is why most (if not all of my desserts) are as least complicated as possible and this Holiday Bark is right up there. Only five-ingredients, minimal steps and tons of fun to make. Plus the more unique each piece breaks up, the better!
1-8-oz bag of milk chocolate chips
10 crushed OREO’S of your choice
Sprinkles of your choice in a fun assortment of colors.
vegetable oil (optional to melt chocolate)
1 cup mini marshmallows
Line a 9x 12 baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. (I like to cut it out to form fit the base of the pan; If you don’t have this size baking sheet then use a baking pan lined with tin foil.)
Pour chips into a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 2 minutes; stirring after 1 minute until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (Add in oil the chocolate is clumpy.)
Add in marshmallows & OREO’s and stir until fully coated.
Spoon chocolate onto the pan creating a thin even layer. (A spatula is helpful tool in getting a nice uniform spread.)
While chocolate is still warm, sprinkle with sprinkles and press down extremely gently.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes OR until nice and firm.
Remove from pan and break into irregular pieces. Store in an air-tight container.
Treasure in the Back Yard
When you read 'Lives in Ruins,' you’ll remember why digging for treasure was so much fun
“Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble” by Marilyn Johnson
c.2014, Harper $25.99 / $31.99 Canada 275 pages
Your back yard was filled with treasure.
When you were a kid, you were sure of it – and while it mightn’t have been Pirate booty, there were certainly other riches there. Fossils beneath the grass, remnants from long-ago warriors, glass bottles, even coins awaited discovery.
Alas, all you ever found were chicken bones but when you read “Lives in Ruins” by Marilyn Johnson, you’ll remember how digging for them was so much fun.
Like many children, Marilyn Johnson grew up looking for fossils in her parents’ garden. The possibility of what she might find underground excited her then so, a few years ago, she decided to “collect” archaeologists and the knowledge they have.
When most people think of archaeology, they think of Indiana Jones or dinosaurs. Both are incorrect, says Johnson; Indy was a curator. Dino diggers are paleontologists, while archaeologists look for “people and the things that they leave behind…” To become the latter, you’ll need an extensive apprenticeship for which you’ll pay. Then you’ll “work hard under primitive conditions,” in an industry with notoriously low wages.
Johnson’s education would be a little different, though.
She started in the National Museum of Ireland, where human remains from the country’s peat bogs lie, awaiting study. They were “riveting,” she says, but she was surprised to learn that bog bodies do not require “a lot of excavations…”
From there, she worked on St. Eustatius , a Caribbean island where the surroundings were “toxic” and projects were plentiful, but not as eagerly excavated as they once were. She spent time with a New York archaeologist who makes Stone-Age tools in order to fully understand how they work. She learned how ancient science is teaming up with craft breweries to create beverages from residue found in thousand-year-old pots. She fell in love with “pig dragons,” saw why the “future of archaeology lies underwater,” and discovered how women fought for a spot in the trenches. She visited “the most important archaeological site in the United States ” and learned how archaeology played a part, post-9/11. And she writes about how amateurs are the thorn in – and possibly the future of –archaeology today.
Is one man’s trash another man’s treasure?
Could be - and bones, too, as author Marilyn Johnson indicates, but she also shows that archaeology isn’t Indiana-Jones-romantic, either; in fact, it’s backbreaking, sometimes thankless work that many countries and businesses don’t perceive as important. Time and again, Johnson writes about projects scuttled, archaeologists discouraged, and history lost because bones and detritus were lost due to lack of money or corporate pressure.
And yet, despite that which surely will make historians gasp, there’s a certain kid-like fascination locked in this book. Johnson’s enthusiasm for her subject is infectious and she shares what she learned in the field. Her curiosity lays ours to rest, and I loved it.
Read this book, and you’ll never look at dirt quite the same. You’ll never step outside without wondering what you’re stepping on. Read it, because “Lives in Ruins” is a book you can really dig.
A Vitamin a Day
Does a Centrum a day keep the doctor away?
Vitamins are organic compounds required for daily functioning and health; most are obtained largely through the diet. There are a few exceptions: vitamins A, B3 (niacin), and D can be produced within the body and vitamins K and B7 (biotin) are produced by bacteria in the intestinal tract. Minerals are inorganic compounds, so they are not produced by living things and are found in soil and water.
Both vitamins and minerals are essential for proper functioning of the body, so it seems natural to take a daily multivitamin to ensure full intake. Since vitamins and minerals come from the diet, a multivitamin may be a good idea if you consistently eat a poor quality diet and cannot modify this. For example, a strict vegan needs to supplement with at least vitamin B12 (cobalamin). For a person with a diet of even moderate quality and diversity, however, large studies have not found any health benefits to multivitamin supplementation. In some cases, there may even be some slight health risks to overdoing supplementation!
The take home is clear: eat a varied diet and you don’t need to worry about multivitamins.
A Convertible in December Heats Things Up
Sporty, speedy IS350 delivers punch for comparatively cheap sticker
Published: Friday, December 05, 2014
Any convertible is a good convertible when it’s 75 degrees out and the sky matches the blue of your windshield wiper fluid. It’s more of a challenge to love a convertible when winter winds are blowing the tissues out of your hands before you even get to wipe the cold-induced rivers running from your nose. My 2015 Lexus IS350, driven during a cruel winter blast, was nonetheless a glorious, fun week’s test-drive. It’s gorgeous, first, its sweet red color accenting its body’s many angles, sharp corners and mean-looking flanks. If I was a cop, I might be tempted to pull this thing over even at a dead stop because it looks like it’s doing 1,000 miles an hour when it’s just sitting there. The biggest and best news, however, is how much punch this car packs for its base price of $44,155. For that sticker, you get 306 spirited horses in a V-6, AND it still manages to pump out 28 MPG combined in highway/city driving. Its adaptive-suspension-enhanced handling lets the car straighten out your all-over-place driving style, and while I found the steering wheel-brake combo a tad numb when compared to the car’s power, I had to remember that this isn’t a race car – it’s a Lexus, and Lexus’ audience at this level tend not to be rock stars or firemen on the way to a burning house.
Inside, the flavor is appropriately upscale, adorned with leather, high-end instrument knobs and a twinkly, attractive face during evening drives. Its Remote Touch Controller, overseeing the nav, sound and climate systems, is a niggly-wiggly, annoying little Knob I was tempted to break off and throw out the window, but that was compensated for by the optional $3,180 F-Sport Package, delivering sport seats, LED front headlamps, 18-inch F-Sport wheels surrounded by all-season 224/40R18 tires, and more goodies. Crank it up via its pushbutton starter and it fires like a rudely awakened bear, with power delivered either to the front wheels or all four if you wish. There’s more, so much more, but the IS 350 is a prime example of what’s possible in an under-$50,000 ride, and it brought much repeated and pleasurable heat to my chilly carcass during its week’s test.
Top 5 Tech Gifts this Holiday Season
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Dec. 5
Don’t be surprised to see the Fit Band take the place of the Chia Pet this holiday season. Designed to be worn on your wrist 24/7 these devices keep track of your activity throughout the day. Some track your sleep, others keep track of the steps you take, record what you eat, and acts as a blue tooth device for your smartphone. Some Fit-Bands even receive text messages! Don’t let this year go by without getting one of these for the tech-geek in your life. Makes a great piece of jewelry as well.
Shower Me with Music
Years ago you could listen to music in the shower using a plastic covered radio that hung from a suction cup stuck to the wall. But that was 1978, it’s 2014 and today we do things a little bit different. With the invention of Bluetooth technology you can now listen to your favorite podcast or music while showering-up each morning. No suction cup required! You won’t miss an important phone call either. If the boss calls to tell you to take the day off, with a simple push of the button you can answer the call and receive the good news! Now, I’m not sure why you would need to talk to ANYONE on the phone while showering, but hey at least the option is there!
Years ago the big gift for the Holidays was a flat screen TV. Do you get a LCD? A Plasma? A HDTV? Those days are gone. This year, Smart TV’s will be dad’s new go-to request. Smart TV’s are great! With the Wi Fi connection you already have in your home you can stream video content from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix and more. Plus, you can monitor your social networks, surf the web, stream photo content from your laptop and interact live with twitter while watching sporting events. Oh, we almost forgot… you can watch regular TV channels too. Smart TV’s still have a few functions to be worked out (like web surfing is not as easy as one would hope) but these units are giving cable companies fits just for their wonderful video streaming ability.
In the era of Video, Mp3 and Hi-Resolution photography, the biggest challenge a techie can face is where to store everything! So we predict this year External Hard Drives will be a hot item. Why store your personal items in someone else’s cloud, when you can keep everything neatly organized, and safe on your own personal External Storage Device. These units come is various sizes and are able store 1, 2, up to 4 Terabytes of data! That’s a Trillion Bytes or 931 gigabytes to you and me. OK, all the technical mumbo jumbo aside, these VERY HANDY items have really come down in price. You can get one of these nifty devices starting at just 59.00! So this holiday season go crazy and give the techie you know a place to put their stuff!
Remember earbuds? Ya know, those silly things that went inside your ears that had a long cord and a metal jack at the end that plugged in to your mp3 player, phone or other device? Ha! Earphones are so 2005! Wires are out, wireless headphones are in! If you could be unencumbered by those pesky white wires that are always getting tangled and caught on everything-wouldn’t you go wireless? I sure would, and so will thousands of other kids and adults this year. Wireless headphones are busting out all over!
Holiday Gift Guide: Books for Kids and Teens
Ideas for all the kids on your gift list
I seriously don’t think I know one little kid who doesn’t like a bedtime story. Heck, I like a bedtime story, and I liked “Day is Done: Prayers and Blessings for Bedtime” by Elena Pasquali, illustrated by Natascia Ugliano. This is one of those books that can be read quietly for a soothing night-night, both for adult and for child. Wrap it up with “Little Owl’s Day” by Divya Srinivasan, a cute story about a little guy whose inability to sleep gets him into a big adventure.
Board books are always great gifts for the smallest person on your list, and “I Love Hockey” is just right for the future sticks fan. And keep this one in mind: “Little Birthday,” a book of riddles. Yes, unlike most board books, these two have a good amount of narrative, so they’re also presents you can read aloud.
The mini-farmer on your list will want to unwrap “I Love You Just Enough” by Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen. It’s the tale of a wild baby duck and the girl who raised him after he was separated from his mother. But ducks grow faster than do little girls, and it causes a bit of concern…
Who has enough books? Not your giftee, and not the kids in “The Children Who Loved Books” by Peter Carnavas. It’s the tale of too many and too few, but having enough of the important things.
Wrap it up with “If You Wish” by Kate Westerlund and Robert Ingpen, a beautifully illustrated story of a little girl who learns that books can take her to all kinds of places without even leaving her house.
For the child who loves making friends, you can’t go wrong with “Jenny & Lorenzo” by Toni Steiner and Eve Tharlet. It’s the tale of a mouse and her very unusual friendship with someone who wants to have her for dinner.
The budding politician (or the 7-to-13-year-old current events fan) will love owning “The U.S. Congress for Kids” by Ronald A. Reis, foreword by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, afterword by Rep. Kristi Noem. This book includes history, stats, facts, pictures, graphs, and activities that underscore what your child learns. This is a great gift for the kid who just returned from or is going to visit the Capital this year.
If there’s a mystery lover on your list, then look for “Somebody on this Bus is Going to Be Famous” by J.B. Cheaney. A strangely empty bus stop. A bus full of kids, each with one clue. A bus driver who acts all weird. Can your whodunit fan solve the mystery before the kids on the bus do it?
“The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm” translated & edited by Jack Zipes, illustrated by Andrea Dezso may be a challenge for kids this age. You might have to help with some of the words or you may even want to read it aloud together. But if your 7-to-12-year-old enjoys fables and such, then you can’t go wrong with this heavy, elegant investment in their reading future.
Young science fans will devour “Before the World Was Ready: Stories of Daring Genius is Science” by Claire Eamer, pictures by SA Boothroyd. It’s a book about scientific theories that were originally ridiculed (along with their creators) and how those unfortunate men were eventually vindicated.
For the lover of espionage, “Top Secret Files: World War II” by Stephanie Bearce will be a great gift. This is a nonfiction book about undercover work during the War, including spies and secret missions, rat bombs, double agents, and more. Bonus: it might get the kids interested in history, too.
Teen readers who love futuristic novels (but can’t handle a whole lot of fantasy) will love “The Scavengers” by Michael Perry. It’s the story of a young woman who’s left behind by her family when they leave town, and the only way she can survive is by scavenging – alone. Excitement. Danger. What more could your teen want? Wrap it up with “The Girl From the Well” by Rin Chupeco for a gruesome gift duo.
For the teen who enjoys history, or for a diary-keeper, “Yoko’s Diary,” edited by Paul Ham might make a great gift. This is the true story of a 13-year-old Japanese girl who lived near Hiroshima during World War II. It’s a powerful book, made even more so by the editor’s notes. I also liked “Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750,” edited by Jason Rodriguez. It’s a graphic book (a sort of comic book, if you’re wondering) about the early years of America, written by various authors and illustrated by various artists.
So your teen has loved The Wizard of Oz since toddlerhood? Then wrap up “Dorothy Must Die” by Danielle Paige. It’s the story of the anti-Dorothy – a girl named Amy, who’s been trained as a warrior. Dark? Yep, but great for your fave fantasy fan. Wrap it up with “Night Sky” by Suzanne Brockmann and Melanie Brockmann. It’s a thriller about a kidnapping and a different kind of hero that may – or may not – save the day. (And yes, by the way, that’s novelist Suzanne Brockmann, of course).
Novel lovers will completely enjoy “Boys Like You” by Juliana Stone, the story of a girl with a guilty broken heart and a boy with a different sort of painful burden, and how they find each other to help mend the ache.
If these ideas don’t fill the bill, then you can always give a gift certificate, or you can throw yourself at the mercy of your friendly bookseller. Yes, he or she is absolutely brimming with ideas for everybody on your gift list, so what are you waiting for?
Brave Teams Up With the Bold
‘The Flash’ and ‘Arrow’ crossover you’ve been waiting for
Published: Thursday, December 04, 2014
When the new series “The Flash” was announced over a year ago as a companion series to “Arrow” there was the hope that the two shows would crossover at some point. After all, the man who would be The Flash, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) made his debut in a two-part “Arrow” story, at the end of which he met with the accident that gave him his super-speed. Eventually, it was officially announced that there would be an event crossover between both shows, but it was soon apparent how linked they would be.
There have been some cameo appearances of characters on each show to whet the appetite, but this week we got what we’ve all been waiting for. What’s interesting is that, at their core, both shows have some striking similarities, but this crossover also highlights their differences. And far from being any sort of stunt aimed at a ratings grab, major events occurred on each show, characters influence each other and both series come away stronger than ever.
The very end of last week’s “Arrow” saw a man murdered by high-tech boomerang. Investigating the killing leads Team Arrow to Central City and this week’s “The Flash.” While Oliver/The Arrow (Stephen Amell), Felicity and Diggle (David Ramsey) follow their lead, Team Flash have a new meta-human to contend with, one who induces uncontrollable rage in people. During a break in all the hoopla, Ollie decides Barry needs a little training, but that and his aggressive crime-fighting techniques engender the ire of Barry’s two father-figures, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Dr. Wells (Tom Cavanaugh).
Eventually everyone settles their differences and the bad guy is caught, but not before a misguided Flash earns a new enemy. Rushing in to confront the bad guy, Barry gets infected and lets loose his inner-rage on Eddie (Rick Cosnett), the boyfriend of Barry’s life-long love, Iris (Candice Patton). That attack gives Eddie the leverage to start up a police task force intent on capturing the Flash. After a brief, but awesome, hero versus hero fight, Barry learns to be a better and more cautious crime fighter from his pal Oliver. It all ends with a fiery coda showing that someone once thought dead is back as a meta-human.
Back in Starling City, and over on “Arrow,” a visiting Cisco (Carlos Valdes) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) assist Team Arrow in tracking down the Boomerang, while Barry teaches Oliver that being a hero doesn’t mean giving up your humanity. Things get very serious when Diggle’s significant other, Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) is revealed to be the bad guy’s target and is nearly killed. Of course, the good guys prevail, Diggle finally proposes to Lyla (spoiler: she says yes) and Team Flash updates the Arrow’s costume.
The fact that “The Flash” is a lighter show than “Arrow” is a plot point in both episodes. Interestingly, it also gives a slight narrative nudge to each show. Barry learns to take things a little more seriously and becomes a better hero for it. Oliver learns that he doesn’t have to be as aggressive as he has been in order to protect his city. True, both characters were already moving along these paths, but it’s rather cool that their interactions with each other could make these lessons even more clear. I hope that each show continues to be influenced by the other and I look forward to more interactions between the two. With any luck, this kind of crossover will be an annual event. Looking at the ratings I expect there will be plenty of chances for the brave and the bold to team up.
Isles Emotions: Goose Bumps, Tears and Victory
Not exactly Chicken Soup for the Isles’ fan’s soul, but close
Published: Wednesday, December 03, 2014
You can go to any sporting event and feel something inside you. You may cry, get angry, smile, cheer and let out your inner kid. It happens to everyone. Even if you don’t like sports you find yourself emitting some kind of feeling for the games and players, maybe even the venue.
I thought long and hard about how I wanted to cover the final season for the Islanders at Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. I’m not going to write game stories. I’m not going to get fan reactions. I’m not going to record major milestones. You can get that anywhere else.
For me, it’s the feelings I’ll generate throughout the season that will mean the most. The feelings based on the sounds, the sights, the moans, the groans, the player interaction, the laughs, the jeers, and everything in between. It’s how I’ll remember the Coliseum during its final curtain call.
Throughout this historic season in Uniondale, I’ll be jotting down my emotions during every game I attend. While others in the press box are typing who scored and how the play transpired, I’ll be adding slightly more emotional depth to specific things happening during the game.
I took my first shot at this during a 6-0 victory against Colorado on November 11. Here are my notes:
First game of the season for me. Very cognizant of taking in every moment and experience I can at the Coliseum. I walked the corridor before the game as I always do to start a season. The colors are so vibrant in the halls. The bright orange with the white and blue accented stripes are brilliant. Seriously, who has better colors?
The team skated out onto the ice, not unlike any regular game, but I was immediately emotional. I mean goose bumps and tears to my eyes. I could see and feel my childhood flashing before my eyes. It had something to do with the music, which was actually more on the sad side. Historic tones, if that makes sense. I’ve been coming to Islanders games for 23 years – since my dad and uncle took me to my first game in 1991 – it was against the Flyers and we sat somewhere near section 335. It all just hit me though as the team came out. They’re only going to come out of that tunnel so much more.
At 18:27 the Isles scored their first goal of the game off a shot from Nick Leddy, a new player acquired in a trade from Chicago, who will learn all about the noise that can be generated in the old barn. Get ready, Nick, it’s glorious. They took immediate control. Then it happened again at 14:39 – as I wrote this – the Islanders went up 2-0 on a power play goal by Anders Lee.
New to the Coliseum is the “yes, yes, yes” chant after a goal. I’m on the fence about this. It adds nothing to the Coliseum’s legacy or lore, but it caught on pretty quickly. It’s inspired by WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan’s “Yes! Movement”. Whatever makes the fans happy, I guess.
I have this perception that the Islanders are not supposed to be this good. My mind is trying to tell me this is a different team in Islanders jerseys. They’re fast, physical, the goalie is good, they can score, they have stars, and they are a real team with a destiny for a change. But it’s early yet in the season and a lot can happen.
Men are a Foreign Country
Book Review: 'Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation'
There are aliens among us.
That’s how it might seem when you’re dealing with members of the opposite sex. You often feel, for instance, as though you speak different languages. Surely, you see the world in ways they don’t, and they intuitively understand certain things you never will – hence, they must be from another universe or… something.
But you love ‘em anyhow, and so does Laura Kipnis. In her book “Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation,” she writes about some she’s known.
While rifling through a bunch of her old critiques and essays, Laura Kipnis, a “daddy’s girl who grew into a wayward woman” realized that many of those articles were about men, mostly those of the rascally, “immoderate” kind.
Despite having written extensively about them, “men are still a foreign country,” she says, but she’s drawn to them, particularly those who “laugh too loud and drink too much… who have off-kilter politics and ideas.”
Men like Larry Flynt, publisher of a notorious men’s magazine, about whom Kipnis wrote, never thinking that she’d actually meet him – but she did, several times. His magazine was “disgusting” but she found Flynt to be an interesting, multi-layered convention-breaker. He “challenged” Kipnis at her “corked-up core.”
“Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation” by Laura Kipnis
c.2014, Metropolitan Books $25.00 / $28.99 Canada 211 pages
Or, men like Ron Galella, “celebrity stalker-photographer” who trailed Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis for much of her life. He annoyed her, sued her (and vice versa), and paid little attention to court orders in order to get her picture. Today, he considers Onassis as somewhat of a muse but, says Kipnis, “it’s not exactly evident that being an artist and being an upstanding guy were ever one and the same thing.”
There are the “juicers” who are criticized for doing whatever it takes to get a leg-up on the competition. There are the vulnerable and “Lotharios,” both of whom seem to make a mess of relationships; and men who get into trouble for their bumbling attempts at “regular human mating conduct…”
Overall, says Kipnis, there’s “something delicious” about the list she’s made here “in search of our split-off other halves…” It’s not a definitive list, and was never meant to be so. Still, she promises, “Consider this an interim report.”
While I have to admit that “Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation” is wonderfully, wickedly barbed, it’s also a bit of a challenge.
Author Laura Kipnis points out a lot of things that many women aren’t brave enough to say out loud or, in this case, to put to paper. Her insights are as sharp as her wit but, because of the many literary references and nods to other critics here, there’s a definite East Coast / New York aspect to some of what Kipnis writes. That may not resonate quite so well with anyone unfamiliar with those figures.
Still, savvy readers will be rewarded by filling in those blanks, which enhances the observations and the enjoyment. If you can do that, you’ll understand that “Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation” is, down-deep, a profane, zinger-filled love letter to the bad boys of this world.
Mistakes Financial Services Providers Make
Ask yourself, ‘how is this serving me and my family?’
Published: Tuesday, December 02, 2014
We got a call the other day from a prospective client, who was referred to us by a good client. In an established financial planning practice, referrals are the life blood of new business development. This conversation immediately went to products, with the prospective client rattling off several questions about various mutual funds he’s heard about and whether we would recommend them to him……I wanted to scream WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!
This story cuts to a much bigger problem that is promoted every day and endlessly by the financial press, product vendors, and licensed securities people. The problem sounds something like this: “I have something better than you have,” “I have an investment that was the best performing thing last year,” “I can help you earn a better return,” blah, blah, blah.
What everybody needs to understand is that financial planning done right is one of the single most important investments you will ever make. In our practice, we serve people primarily over the age of 55 who are either seriously beginning to plan for their retirement or they are already retired. In talking with those clients I have come to understand that what they really care about is addressing any number of serious concerns and questions: Do I have enough? How much do I need? How do I take my nest egg and convert it to a reliable and sustainable income? And that’s just to name a few.
So if we go back to our conversation with that prospective client and think about the media, the product advertisements and the sales mentality of the Financial Services industry, you must recognize on some level that it is all aimed to confuse you and create doubt about whether you’re doing the right thing. In essence what this relentless machine is trying to do is to create a transaction, a sale. I encourage you to ask yourself, how is this serving me and my family? Your life and your future financial security is way too important to be led by the product!
Financial Planning in its true sense is about your life, your hopes, your dreams, and your concerns. When you have clarity on that stuff then you’re truly ready to begin the planning process, which is about the numbers, cash flow, income, portfolio construction etc. It’s about looking at various scenarios and determining a plan of attack that will give you a high probability of success. Then and only then, when we have done the work, can we make thoughtful recommendations as to the appropriate suite of products and services. When I talk with good clients they realize that at this stage of their lives they need to minimize mistakes, as there is not ample time for do-over’s, they don’t want to do things that will inevitably cost them money unnecessarily. They want to be pragmatic and educated around the fact that they made solid product choices based on their unique circumstances.
So the next time you open the paper, turn on the TV, log on the web, and you see ads about “my product is better than yours, has performed the best, has 5 stars yada, yada, yada”,….. Ask yourself who does this serve?
Rise of the Outcasts
‘Scorpion’ highlights the 'us' in genius
“Scorpion” is based on the life of self-proclaimed genius and computer expert Walter O’Brien. There have been some who have questioned some of the real-life O’Brien’s claims, but that shouldn’t take away from the show itself. The fictional O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) is every bit the genius and hacker that the series needs him to be and, despite lacking empathy, is the emotional center of the show.
Walter O’Brien runs a business called Scorpion that is comprised of other geniuses. Toby Curtis (Eddie Kay Thomas) is a behaviorist who reads people as easily as he does the back of a cereal box. Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong) is a mechanical engineer that can fix or rig anything. Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidhan) is a statistician that can instantly remember anything from just glancing at it and who has a socially-crippling combination of anxiety and OCD.
In the pilot, the group is recruited by DHS Agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick) for a unique problem they are well-equipped to solve. They are then retained by Gallo to keep using their talents to tackle other difficult National Security issues. Gallo and O’Brien have a long history as the two worked together when O’Brien was a kid, with Gallo becoming a father figure to the boy genius. There was an incident many years ago that cause a falling out between the two, but now the Agent has turned to his erstwhile son to help save his career.
While on their initial mission the team encountered Paige Dineen (Katherine McPhee), an ordinary women with an extraordinary son, Ralph (Riley B. Smith). Ralph is also a genius on par with the other members of Scorpion and Paige is having difficulty relating to him. In return for helping her better communicate with Ralph, Walter hires Paige to help all of them better relate to the rest of the world. As the first season has progressed all of them have become a family.
It has slowly been revealed how the team was initially formed and it all seems to be through the machinations of Walter, although not in any sort of Machiavellian way. Walter’s sister, Meghan (Camille Guaty) has recently discovered tokens that the otherwise non-superstitious Walter has kept as reminders of when he met the others. As it turns out, the others were essentially saved by Walter from very dark fates. He plays it off as they were problems to solve and he did, but they all obvious view things from a much more appreciative viewpoint.
Walter constantly claims to be lacking in empathy and normal emotions, but his actions speak otherwise. His sister Meghan is one example. She always looked after Walter when they were really young and protected him from bullies at school. She now suffers from multiple sclerosis and Walter is determined to solve her “problem” and figure out a way to fix her. It is very obvious how much he cares for her when he is around her. Similarly, his relationship with Gallo is very much two-way and father-son like. And when Ralph’s dad comes back into the picture, Walter clearly is concerned for both the boy and Paige, but he may be discovering he actually has feelings for Paige as well.
After an initial drop in ratings it has managed to even out its viewing figures and “Scorpion” recently got a full season pickup from CBS. It’s a sweet show and focuses much of its energy on developing the characters and their relationships, which might be off-putting to some. But it has heart and fun, roller coaster storylines and deserves your attention. It’s not a heavily serialized show so feel free to jump on board next week or catch up during the winter hiatus. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Basement Bootleg Bob
Dylan’s in the Basement Mixing up the Medicine
Published: Monday, December 01, 2014
The Legacy-released Bob Dylan Bootleg Series has been a tremendous success. When a bootleg entitled the Great White Wonder of Bob Dylan’s music was released in July of 1969, it singlehandedly launched the rock bootleg industry that is still thriving today. The culmination of that release and the resulting underground cottage industry are manifested in what is perhaps the most anticipated reissue of the Legacy series: The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11. The Deluxe Edition is a beautiful boxed set that contains 138 tracks on six CDs of music and a hardbound book. Originally released officially as only a double-album in 1975, the music contained on these six CDs is of superior sound quality and includes nearly all of the recordings Bob Dylan and the Band recorded in 1967 at the mythic split-level house in West Saugerties, New York dubbed “Big Pink” as well as other recordings recorded at Dylan’s upstate home in the “Red Room.” The full history of these recordings has been told in entire books and as part of the many biographies of Dylan and the few books on The Band. The recordings took place after Dylan’s equally chronicled motorcycle accident and include songs he was demoing for his song publishers, covers the musicians jammed on for fun, songs Dylan went on to record himself on official studio releases and songs that later appeared on albums from The Band. Released in the midst of psychedelia, the music here is homespun American encompassing a broad range of roots styles that resonate today in dozens of groups and artists such as the commercially successful Mumford & Sons and celebrated veterans such as Wilco, to name just two. What is great about this boxed set is that now these recordings are available in the best sound quality for Dylan fans and a new generation of music listeners and have been preserved forever for the future.
Basement Tapes Revisited
Somewhat of a companion to the new Dylan and the Band Basement Tapes project is Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes (Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records). This T-Bone Burnett produced project features a group comprised of Elvis Costello, Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) and Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), who took lyrics Bob Dylan wrote during the Basement Tapes sessions in 1967 and created music to both update the Basement Tapes 1967 feel and make something brand new.
Two other Dylan Legacy releases include the Deluxe Edition of The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration of the music of Bob Dylan on Blu-ray and on a two-CD set. The October 1992 concert featured an all-star cast of musical legends and friends, along with Dylan himself performing Dylan favorites, hits and obscurities in an event Neil Young dubbed Bobfest. Of particular note are the performances here of Richie Havens, The Band, George Harrison, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Roger McGuinn. It’s interesting to point out that Dylan now has been at it for more than 50 years and, given his recent albums and tours, shows no signs of slowing down.
One of the most chronicled and controversial periods of Bob Dylan’s career was his conversion from folky troubadour to electric rocker. An artist who was a musical key to this transformation was Mike Bloomfield. His significance to Dylan, along with his time as a member of both The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The Electric Flag, and his varied his solo recordings are the basis of a 3-CD/DVD box set from Legacy entitled From His Head to His Heart To His Hands. While a relatively unknown figure to casual music fans, Bloomfield’s place in music and the respect he garners as an innovative guitarist are immeasurable. While the music contained here is more than testament to his talent, the DVD Sweet Blues: A Film About Mike Bloomfield directed by Bob Sarles, evocatively places Bloomfield in the exalted musical context in which he belongs, but also leavens his artistic triumphs with reference to his troubled personality that ultimately derailed his brilliant career and caused his early death at the age of 37. His work with Dylan on his key electric solo albums, his stint with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and his recordings with his closest musical partner, Al Kooper, alone make this box set a definitive proclamation of Bloomfield’s guitar talent and musical taste.
Dylan’s Back Pages
While there have been a plethora of books on Bob Dylan through the years, two recent books are more than worthy additions. Another Side of Bob Dylan (St. Martin’s Press) from Victor Maymudes, which was co-written and edited by his son Jacob Maymudes, tells the story of Victor’s personal and professional relationship with Dylan. Jacob took many hours of tape of his father dictating for a book on Dylan that he never completed in his lifetime. This revealing book offers keen insights into some of Dylan’s key periods and is also a poignant reflection of a son discovering his father and himself through the journey of writing.
Equally insightful is The Dylanologists (Simon & Schuster) by David Kinney. Although on the surface it seems like a Dylan side-trip the book is actually a very illuminating, well-researched and perfectly written account of the sub-culture of Dylan fans whose obsession with his life and career careens from the weird to the wonderful. Kinney tells Dylan’s history through fans who follow him from show to show and those who chronicle his life and art in everything from mimeographed fanzines and blogs to those who write widely read, published tomes on the legend. The book is a surprisingly sober and thoughtful account of the relationship this sub-culture has with Dylan and how it affects the commentary, scholarship and perception of perhaps the single most important individual in the history of rock.
How anxiety can take over
Everyone gets anxious occasionally, but when is it too much?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a condition in which anxiety affects a person’s daily functioning for more than half of the days in a period of six months. The individual usually finds the anxiety difficult to control and worries about a number of stressors, ranging from work performance to social interaction, and unfortunately the results may be severe enough to prevent one from living life as normal. The feelings of anxiety can often be accompanied by an increase in epinephrine (a stress hormone) release throughout the body. The epinephrine can cause distressing physical symptoms, like sweaty palms or a rapidly beating heart.
It is not entirely clear what causes the onset of GAD, but it affects as many as 7 million Americans yearly.
Fortunately, there are a wide array of treatments available and studies have shown that GAD, like depression, is very treatable with therapy and/or medication.
Anxiety, like depression, is a very treatable condition.
Recipe: Seared Brussels Sprouts
This seasonal recipe is simply prepared but erupts with flavor and taste
Published: Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Thanksgiving is ALL about the sides…no news flash here to anyone. By the way, please don’t think I am suggesting for you to spend hours upon hours slaving away in the kitchen..how fair is that? It’s your holiday too. On that note, this brings me to my latest dish, “Seared Brussels Sprouts with Purple Grapes.” While this seasonal recipe is so simply prepared, it actually erupts with flavor and taste. Bonus…it’s budget friendly which will ensure a true Happy Thanksgiving To You!
10 oz. brussels sprouts halved and trimmed
3 garlic cloves grated or minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
20 portabella mushrooms halved
1/2 cup purple grapes (smaller ones are better for this dish; if you have large ones, cut them in half.)
2 thyme sprigs with leaves removed
Heat a large skillet with olive oil for Brussels sprouts.
Once sizzling hot, position Brussel sprouts face side down on the pan and let cook for 8-10 minutes.
When they appear charred, mix in mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper & thyme leaves and stir around until all is tender.
Add in grapes and cook for an additional 2 minutes until the grapes appear glossy.
Remove from pan and serve.
The Stories Behind Our Food
That entrée isn’t done yet
Everything looks so delicious.
It all smells great, too, and you can’t decide what you like best. The meat is done just right, potatoes are mashed to perfection, biscuits are to die for. And then there’s dessert! But – wait, leftovers. That’s your favorite…
You’ve got a lot on your plate this month, in more ways than one. And in “The American Plate” by Libby H. O’Connell, PhD, you’ll learn the stories our food can tell.
Imagine inviting a long-ago ancestor to dinner this week.
What he’d find at the table might astound him; surely, there’d be some dishes he wouldn’t even recognize. That’s because “remarkable changes in ingredients, recipes, and menus over the centuries” have changed how – and what – we eat.
That ancestor, for instance, might’ve enjoyed dining on grilled beavertail. Yum.
Then again, he’d know maize (corn, to us) very well. Native Americans grew it more than 9,000 years ago, and your ancestor might have had it in his garden, along with beans and squash, a farming method called the Three Sisters.
If he lived near the East Coast, he might’ve relished cod, though your Friday Night Fish Fry would seem pathetic to him. The cod he ate came in six foot long slabs, dried, salted, and kept stacked in his pantry. He might’ve added cow’s butter, dyed with gold flower petals, maybe some eel on the side, and bon appetit.
Of course, our ancestors had turkey, but they also ate offal (which sounds really awful). Those from the Netherlands brought doughnuts to the table. The British gave us syllabub. The Chinese gave us a dish, the words of which mean “odds and ends,” or chop suey. Pie was a group effort, originating from several different cultures.
Food played a role in who won The War Between the States, when Rebel forces nearly starved while Union soldiers enjoyed a bounty. At the turn of the last century, food created the first celebrity chefs. It became politicized some eighty-five years ago, then was frozen, served in front of the TV, and made fast.
And what does the future hold? Well, pull up a chair. That entrée isn’t done yet.
Ask five of your friends about their favorite comfort foods, and you’ll get five different stories that start out, “My mom made the best….”
Chances are that those dishes are found somewhere in “The American Plate.”
So many things that you’ll eat in the next few weeks are in this book, in fact, and there’s a story behind every one of them. Author and historian Libby H. O’Connell fills our minds with the things with which we fill our bellies, letting us literarily play with our food. We get plenty of aside-dishes, and – surprise! – recipes, so you, too, can try roast beavertail, syllabub, Hangtown Fry, scrapple, or Red Cross War Cake.
Historians and cooks will obviously love this book, but I think it’s also very appropriate for anyone who likes to eat. If that’s you, then dig in. You’ll devour “The American Plate” until there’s nothing left over.
How to Shop Outside the Shop—Thai Style
Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2014
After covering Borneo’s annual Rainforest World Music Festival, I visited Thailand as it weathered one of its seemingly annual government ‘coups.’ However, despite the global media portraying another Armageddon, it was business as usual in the Land of Smiles. Even better, it was June, thus blissfully offseason. The last time I visited the southern beach town of Krabi—1987 in backpacker mode—it was mostly Euro-backpackers, when $5/day covered food, thatched-roof camping, and whatever party mode you fancied. Seems everything changes (except the Knicks sucking).
Thailand’s Centara Grand Beach Resort
Krabi’s Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas sits in a private oceanfront cove surrounded by sheer mountain cliffs and abundant wildlife, including throngs of fascinating but thieving monkeys. This spectacular honeymoon-caliber resort renders time irrelevant, whether it be enjoying ultra-quiet napping any time of day or kayaking amid the lofty offshore limestone pinnacles.
Centara Grand’s ‘amusement park’ dock
Krabi’s seaside village tourism strip—foot massage shops, football-focused sports bars, retail shopping bonanza—seems a world away, but it’s actually only a 10-minute hike over the unlit hillside-ascending “monkey trail.” Guests not keen on navigating rope-tied ladders can get to town via the frequent speedboat service to ‘downtown’ Nopparathara pier, although, due to occasional big waves, some boat departures and arrivals resemble tsunami evacuation drills. If I was 10, I would have spent most of my resort time riding their amusement-park-ride-qualifying floating dock. I did manage one happy hour on this sea-surge undulating (unintentionally recreational) rollercoaster.
In central Krabi, the 1980’s groovy vibe has pretty much evaporated, except for a few old-style haunts like the Hippie Bar & Restaurant, where cozy bench/couches for four invite you and your new pals to kick back (facing each other, feet elevated) and enjoy a blast from the past.
When traveling, try shopping outside the shop and bring home something that is a part of the place you visit…
A 1992 courier flight set the stage for my first visit to Thailand since my time as a backpacker in the mid-80s. A solo motorbike safari in Thailand’s northern mountains was an existential escape from another job attempt requiring dry-cleaned shirts. Just like Homeland Security wiped out the courier flight, Thailand’s wholesomeness was being challenged by the weight of mass tourism. But you can always find a pure heart if you know where to look.
On excursions abroad, I try to acquire one unforgettable keepsake and gift. Often, things that are not officially for sale become those gems, and the tale of the transaction becomes a souvenir itself. I’m routinely on the lookout where there are no price tags. Worksites—factories, mills, home-based workshops, ports, mines—are replete with handmade tools, hunting paraphernalia, garments, and such that might complement your desk, wall, or reputation as a gift giver.
In Thailand’s misty mountains, I encountered a group from a local hilltribe returning from a day of river fishing. Along with baskets of fish, they each had fish traps slung around their shoulders. The traps fused lobster-trap utility with bamboo ingenuity. Created from one section of bamboo sliced into segments and enlarged into a vase shape, the trap’s inner bamboo-stick corkscrew entraps the fish who are lured inside by bait. I bought one for double the offering price.
I knew the fish trap—tied to the outside of my backpack while transiting Bangkok on foot—was a winner when scores of elderly men accosted me to admire the functional artwork recalling their youth and a fading way of life. Another sign was the perplexed stares it earned on the New York City subway ride home from the airport.
You’d think that savvy shopping in an out-of-the-way village defined by coconuts, hogs, and woven baskets would be a misnomer, but by focusing less on how things look and more on how they work, you can end up with a real crowd pleaser. People look at the fish trap, are puzzled by the bamboo marvel, then cave into admiration.
When buying things that aren’t officially for sale, be sensitive to cultural rape. Make sure the economically stressed are parting with possessions they can easily replace with your payment. Don’t be swayed by politeness regarding an item they will really miss. Acquiring not-for-sale genuine parts of the places you visit necessitates sensitivity, fair compromise, and bargaining with the right individual.
“Like playing flute to a buffalo.” —Thai expression about bargaining falling on deaf ears
Bankok’s Shangri-La Hotel
One of Bangkok’s swankest urban riverside retreats is the Shangri-La Hotel. The immense, luxurious lobby leads the way to its lush riverside ‘front yard’ where a huge outdoor pool fuses with outdoor dining and drinking lounges and the NEXT2 Café—site of an epic breakfast buffet. Thai-inspired décor, silk and teak finishings, high-ceiling chandeliers, and spacious river-view balconies lend an air of elegance to guest rooms.
Centrally located alongside Bangkok’s bustling Chao Phraya River, you’re minutes away from epic street life via three modes of transport: long-tail boat taxis, cabs, and Bangkok’s far-reaching Metro. This Shangri-La has 802 rooms, nine restaurants and bars, and a staff that redefines kindly. All of this mellow glory converges at Shangri-La’s Horizon Club Lounge, which has penthouse views of the city.
For more info visit Amazing Thailand.
‘Blue Bloods’ Keeps the Bar High
Five years on, ‘Blue Bloods’ still delivers excellence each week
If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time you will most assuredly know that character is of paramount importance to me when it comes to visual storytelling. Coupled with that is the acting ability of the professionals inhabiting those fictional people. The best story in the world completely falls apart if the characters and the actors portraying them aren’t convincing enough. However, terrifically acted, layered characters can raise up even the most mundane story and make it something special. CBS’ veteran cop drama “Blue Bloods” is almost an embarrassment of riches as it is consistently well-acted and written.
The central character of the show is Police Commissioner Frank Reagan, played with an effortless combination of affability and gravitas by Tom Selleck. Frank is a widower son of a cop as well as father to three cops (one of which was killed in the line of duty prior to the first episode) and an Assistant District Attorney. Selleck plays Frank as a man who clearly carries the weight of the entire NYPD on his shoulders as well as a father who has to stand aside as his grown children make their own way in the world. Selleck generally plays the Commissioner with a truthful conviction and zeal that I haven’t seen him bring forth since the final season of “Magnum P.I.” and it is awesome to behold.
“Blue Bloods” is a show about family, specifically the Reagan family. The patriarch, Henry (Len Cariou) is sparingly, yet very effectively used. He is often the voice of a by-gone, stern era of policing, but perhaps the moral middle ground for all of the Reagans. One of the more empowering relationships is that of Frank’s daughter, Erin (Bridget Moynahan) and her own daughter, Nicky (Sami Gayle). Erin is a bright ADA and wonderful single mom while Nicky is a confident young woman. They are not only positive and strong female characters, but an example of a healthy mother-daughter relationship. They both do not need to have men in their lives, however much they may sometimes want to, but are equally supportive of and supported by the Reagan men.
Youngest son, Jamie (Will Estes) is a beat cop with a partner, Eddie Janko (Vanessa Ray). The fact that they are so in love with each other is so blindingly obvious to everyone but them. That may not be entirely fair as apart from an alcohol-fueled kiss the two have remained completely professional. There are times where they are written more like a couple of siblings, so it may be that the writers may not be entirely clear where the two are headed. In fact, the possibility of romance between the two was addressed by their commanding officer at the top of the season, but quickly dismissed by Jamie. The two continue to dance around the subject so we’ll possibly see where it all leads.
Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is the oldest son and the hottest tempered. He has been a detective who has been on the job for over a decade. He is a dedicated detective as well as a loving husband to Linda (Amy Carlson) and dedicated father to Sean and Jack (Andrew and Tony Terraciano). Danny has had a few professional partners over the course of the series, his current being Maria Baez (Marisa Ramirez). Unlike the Jamie-Eddie dynamic, Danny is happily married and he and Baez are most definitely just friends, albeit close ones. The two are a most effective team, who sorely tested their long-suffering and newly promoted former boss, Sgt. Gormley (Robert Clohessy) and try the patience of their new chief, no-nonsense Lt. Carver (LaTanya Richardson).
The constant element in every episode is the Sunday dinner that the Reagan family shares. This not only serves to show how the family communicates, but is also the point of each episode where many of the themes and storylines get hashed out from multiple viewpoints. That is one of this shows strengths, in that it doesn’t shy away from or turn a blind eye to the latest headlines. While it could be argued that the show is highly pro-police, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It does acknowledge that police are fallible, like all of us, and that there are definitely times where they cross the line and actually do the harm they are sworn to protect us from. But in examining all aspects and recognizing all points of view it shows us the best and worst of the human condition. That’s what all the best drama does and this one, “Blue Bloods,” is very much worth paying attention to.
Don’t Buy Into the Latest Food Craze
Are 'superfoods' really that super?
Published: Monday, November 24, 2014
The term ‘Superfood’ has been used to describe foods that allegedly offer some sort of extraordinary health or therapeutic benefit. It is important to understand that just because a food may be preceded with a grandiose term like super does not mean it will necessarily jump start you into good health and nutrition.
Foods that I have seen given this designation include kale, goji berries, acai berries, kiwi, flaxseed, blueberries, chia seeds and many others. While these are all excellent foods filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and healthy fats (flax and chia), a diet comprised of primarily Superfoods’ are really no more nutritious than the ‘normal’ healthy diet many of us are familiar with. For example, while it is true that blueberries have many antioxidants, they are also high in sugar and contain an average amount of basic nutrients, so people who need to control blood sugar levels should be more cautious.
The bottom line is that superfoods can be part of a nutritious diet, but you shouldn’t buy into the latest craze and expect chia seeds to fix a poor diet single-handedly.
Superfoods are a great addition to a normal and healthy diet.
The Wearable Edition
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Nov. 21
Published: Friday, November 21, 2014
Expensive, But Worth It
The Narrative Clip, a new clip-on mini camera that clips to your hat, shirt or anywhere you like—snaps a high quality digital photo every 2 minutes as you travel throughout your day. It’s like a wearable-portable-digital-diary! And the best part? Like life… you never know what you’re gonna’ get! At the end of your day you download the photos, share the ones you like or just keep them all to yourself. See something you want to capture? A quick double-tap on the unit-snaps an extra picture you can cherish later. Want to stop taking pictures, no problem, just turn the camera face down on your desk or toss it in your bag…it shuts down automatically. Hand-written journals beware, it’s a digital world and the Narrative Clip is here to capture it all.
Can You Hear Me Now?
OK, now tech companies have gone too far! Wearables are the hottest trend in technology (see at the story above for proof), but this has got to be the craziest… Smart Earrings!?! Ear-o-Smart are a pair of smart earrings that connect to your smartphone and monitor your vital stats, and activity levels all day long. And we need this why? Well, Kickstarter sales pitch aside, this device will most likely morph into a valuable life saving device someday. It’s been said that wearing a monitoring device, such as the Ear-o-Smart, on your earlobe happens to be the best place to capture a person’s heart rate and blood flow. So hey, if the style isn’t the best—it definitely has a lot of function.
A utility belt that would make Batman envious! The Xoo Belt (pronounced “zoo”) is modern, stylish and also serves as a power source for your smartphone or tablet. No need to stop mid-stride to find an available place to plug in—just reach down to your waist, pull the cord and start charging! Now that’s definitely something I can use! The belt is made from durable, waterproof, damage proof material and is safe for you and your clothing. This IndieGoGo project is looking for backers and if their goal is met you’ll see this item on shelves early summer 2015. I hope they remembered to add the “hold up your pants” function.
Sorry, I Forgot My Keys
This is not exactly a wearable device, in fact this may fall into the most “regrettable device this year” category. A Swedish woman, who’s just plain sick of carrying around her pass-key-card that allows her in and out of her office, decided to simply have the small microchip implanted in her hand! This is surprising and makes you wonder why we haven’t seen something like this before. I mean, we already use these small microchips as tracking devices in our pets, so why not in ourselves. I guess you can say this woman is definitely dedicated to her job! The only drawback? Never being able to use the excuse that you forgot your keys. Read the rest of the story here.
‘Rocket’ Debuts At Los Angeles Auto Show
Punch-packing ride based on 2015 Ford Mustang
Stand back, folks - this is gonna be loud. And fast. This week, the highly anticipated low-volume production, carbon fiber-bodied, super-Mustang dubbed “Rocket” got its close-up at the Los Angeles auto show courtesy of legendary auto designer Henrik Fisker and Galpin Auto Sports President, Beau Boeckmann. Inspired by specialty pony cars of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, including the 1968 Shelby GT500, the Rocket’s sculptured hood features two large air intakes designed to channel cooler outside air through the engine compartment, supplementing the grill and front splitter in keeping the stupidly powerful 725-hp V8 engine at peak operating temperature. Two additional scoops, mounted on the rear fenders ahead of the wheels help channel air to cool oversized 15-inch Brembo Grand Turismo high performance brakes.
This Mustang-on-steroids is anchored by an imposing hexagonal carbon fiber grill split by a polished aluminum bar and wild horse running across the horizon reminiscent of the ’60’s Mustangs. The Rocket’s lines emanate from the front, through the long hood, over a set of sculptured flared fenders and converge on its integrated rear spoiler, belying the car’s extreme power and refined athleticism. Pricing will be a little more than $100,000.
725 horsepower “Rocket” debuts at Los Angeles Auto Show
Beau Boeckmann’s kvelling like a proud papa, and with good reason. “Mustang has been my favorite car for almost my entire life,” he says. “…it’s literally the most beautiful Mustang I have ever seen.” The handmade carbon-fiber bodywork—constructed by renowned concept car builder, GFMI Metalcrafters Inc., of Fountain Valley, California, features a number of scoops and vents that direct airflow where it’s needed most. A front splitter helps draw out hot air from underneath the car and improve engine cooling, while simultaneously working in conjunction with the rear spoiler, enlarged rear diffuser and polished carbon fiber aero skirts to provide needed high-speed downforce. The car’s painted with a custom mixed silver called Éminence Grise and rides on large 21-inch ADV.1 wheels with Pirelli P-Zero extreme performance tires supported by a front and rear independent, fully-adjustable suspension. That means owners can set their car up to their own preference, or specially “tune” the Rocket for optimal street or track duty. Production of the Rocket begins in December with the first deliveries beginning in early 2015. Interested buyers will have the option of purchasing a car through Galpin Ford directly or through one of several hand-picked dealers across the country and around the world.
Celebrate Thanksgiving with Blonde Redhead
Indie trio brings Barragan to NYC’s Bowery Ballroom on Nov. 25th and 26th
Published: Thursday, November 20, 2014
She does nothing all day
But sit down and cry
She touches the sky
And wishes to play
—“The One I Love” by Blonde Redhead
Image: Marlene Marino
New-York based Blonde Redhead fans, and those returning to New York City for turkey day, are in for a pre-holiday treat when the local indie dream pop trio perform two shows at the Bowery Ballroom. Japanese vocalist/rhythm guitarist Kazu Makino and Italian/Canadian twin brothers—guitarist Amedeo and drummer Simone Pace—have been making music together for 21 years. It seems like just yesterday that art student Makino randomly met the Pace brothers at an Italian restaurant in New York City. More of a noise rock band in the beginning, the band caught the attention of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and he produced Blonde Redhead’s self-titled debut in 1995.
The last decade has seen the trio go a quieter, but just as experimental, route. While 2010’s dreamy Penny Sparkle was more electronic and synth-based, Blonde Redhead’s latest album, Barragan, was recorded live in the studio with analog paraphernalia for a more stripped down sound. Barragan is the Spanish word for warrior or brave young man, but Makino said they got the title elsewhere: “I didn’t know that was the meaning, but we got the inspiration from the Mexican architect Luis Barragan.” The Modernist architect, known for his clean lines and use of raw materials, was also interested in color, emotion and serenity so one can see how his work inspired the trio’s latest effort, which was recorded with producer Drew Brown (Radiohead, Beck). Barragan would likely have appreciated the acoustic, flute-laden title track and stand-outs like the quirky “Cat on Tin Roof,” the shoegaze-y “No More Honey” and the propulsive “Dripping”: “I saw you dripping sunlight/ I saw you dripping moonlight.”
Let yourself be inspired by the creative sounds of Blonde Redhead at the Bowery Ballroom before meeting up with the relatives on Thursday.
“We’ll be playing most of the songs from Barragan except one or two,” said Makino. “The rest are a mix from from our other albums—for some reason, we are not able to play covers.”
What: Blonde Redhead—live
Where: Bowery Ballroom in NYC
When: Tuesday, November 25th AND Wednesday, November 26th, 9pm
‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Carves an Inhuman Path
Is Marvel’s TV series building the cinematic future?
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” began its sophomore season with a much improved pace that hasn’t let up in its first eight episodes. It has also incorporated more and more elements from its comic book roots as well as weaving even more intricately into the fabric of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. However, while the first season was informed by the events of the films, it is very possible that the TV series may actually be laying the groundwork for a future movie.
This year the team has discovered that the symbols that Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) has been obsessively carving are a map of a mysterious city. The symbols are somehow related to the alien being that was the source of the GH-325 formula that brought Coulson back to life. Here is where being a Marvel fanboy pays off. The blue alien is obviously a Kree, an alien race seen in the recent “Guardians of the Galaxy” film. That this particular Kree is thousands of years old is significant, especially to those that are long-time readers of Marvel Comics.
As told in various comic books, during the time of primitive Homo sapeins the Kree came to Earth and experimented on man, creating a genetically advanced race known as the Inhumans. The Kree eventually abandoned their subjects, leaving the Inhumans to live in a hidden city called Attilan, which was originally an island in the North Atlantic Ocean before moving several times to such locales as the Andes and the Moon. A blue alien responsible for a genetically enhancing serum and a hidden city with a key that kills some people that touch it, but reveals strange symbols to others. Seems to fit so far. Oh, and Marvel has announced an “Inhumans” film for 2018.
Along those same threads, we finally get to see Skye’s ill-fated mother (Dichen Lachman). She is one of the ones who survives contact with this year’s MacGuffin, the hidden city obelisk in the 1940s. It also appears to make her immortal. Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandoes manage to rescue her and capture the obelisk and its possessor, Werner Reinhardt (Reed Diamond). Forty some years and a couple of “Hail Hydra”’s later and Reinhardt manages to transplant Skye’s Mom’s undying organs into his body, with the side effect of killing her and rejuvenating him. Her body is discovered by Skye’s Dad (Kyle McLachlan) and now the other shoe has dropped as to why Daddy has aligned with Reinhardt, now named Daniel Whitehall.
Speaking of Mommy and Daddy issues, Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) finally gets to work out his parental woes with his Senator brother, Christian (Tim DeKay). The elder Ward brother is initially defiant in the face of fierce psychological duress from Grant, but finally breaks and we learn the truth about the three brothers and the well. Turns out that Mommy and Daddy Ward were unkind to their first two boys, but Mommy coddled her third. That broke Christian who in turn broke Grant by making the middle boy take out the older’s aggression on the youngest. Grant seems to have finally gotten the admission he’s always wanted and seems to reconnect with his bro. A later revelation throws fire, literally, on any possible brother and brother reunion.
So the race is on between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra to see which group finds the fabled mythical city first. While Hydra seems to have the advantage, what with having the key and someone who claims to be able to find it, Coulson and company are no slouches and scrappily keep the race neck and neck. With a mid-season break coming up and its inevitable cliffhanger, I’m guessing we don’t have long to wait until we see who wins. Will whoever gets there first find Inhumans or something else? Pick up the next issue…I mean, tune in to the next episode to find out!
Read about a girl who’s just like other girls… only different
Published: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
You are a one-of-a-kind kid.
There’s nobody else like you. Nobody has eyes like yours, or fingers like yours, or ears that fold like yours. You think for yourself, have your own likes and hates, and people love you just the way you are.
In the new book “I Am Jazz” by Jessica Herthel & Jazz Jennings, pictures by Shelagh McNicholas, you’ll read about a girl who’s just like other girls… only different.
Jazz is a little girl who loves the color pink. It’s been that way for as long as she can remember; she also loves silver and green, maybe because they’re sort of mermaid colors and Jazz loves mermaids, too.
Like a lot of girls, Jazz spends her days doing “favorite things.” She likes to dance and sing and pretend that she’s someone famous. She draws, plays soccer, swims, and she loves makeup and dress-up. But when Jazz was a very little kid, there were people who didn’t want her to do any of those things.
That’s because Jazz has “a girl brain but a boy body.” She’s transgender, and she was born just like that.
For sure, that caused a lot of confusion when Jazz was small because her family didn’t understand. Though she looked like a boy, she had to remind them that she was really a girl inside and reminding made her sad.
Her brothers said that pink and mermaids were “girl stuff.” Her sister laughed when Jazz talked about “girl thoughts.” Their parents made Jazz wear boy clothes (ugh!) until they saw a new doctor. The doctor said that Jazz was transgender – and since Jazz’s parents love Jazz “no matter what,” they decided to let her be herself, to wear pretty pink clothes and play with the toys she liked.
That wasn’t an easy thing for others to accept at first, but it’s getting better. Some people are understanding, while some kids still tease Jazz and call her names - but then she remembers that those are the ones who don’t really know her very well. Those are the kids who can’t see the important parts of a person. They’re kids who can’t understand different, and “different is special!”
I really like this book. I like it’s perky, friendly cover and the kid-magnet colors that artist Shelagh McNicholas uses. I like the basic premise, and the answers it offers curious kids, parents, and teachers.
Those are the things that struck me immediately about it. Looking deeper, though, I discovered what truly makes “I Am Jazz” so valuable: it’s a unique, no-secrets tale written in a kid-friendly, easy-to-grasp, matter-of-fact way, told in part by author Jazz Jennings herself. That, with co-author Jessica Herthel, makes this story glow with a personal, upbeat and spirited touch that’s relatable for all children.
Meant for 4-to-8-year-olds, I think kids up to age 10 could very much appreciate this book, especially if there’s a transgender child in their school. For them – and for any adult who may need it – “I Am Jazz” is a one-of-a-kind tale.
The Blacklist’ Delivers More Twists
Two more numbers get erased from the Blacklist
Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2014
“The Blacklist” was one of the first shows to make a return this fall and now it is the first to take a winter break. But while we won’t see the return of Red Reddington (James Spader) until Super Bowl Sunday, these eight episodes have done what most other shows take all season to accomplish. “The Blacklist” does have one major advantage over most shows of its kind, however.
Most procedurals keep their “case of the week” storylines independent of their overall mythology arcs. “The Blacklist” has taken the interesting twist of having the two intertwine, the upshot being that the ongoing mysteries are never back-burnered and hence don’t lose their focus. It’s clear that there is a very intricately thought-out plan for this show as there is never a wasted moment or loss of momentum due to filler episodes. This first string of second season episodes does resolve a few things yet generously leaves many others spinning in new directions.
Berlin’s (Peter Stromare) plan to destroy Red comes to a definitive conclusion. In a very strong way the vendetta was why Red gave himself up to the FBI and engineered events so that he would be working with the taskforce to take down the persons on his Blacklist. One of the many twists we’ve gotten this year is that the whole vendetta against Red is meaningless as Berlin’s daughter was never murdered by Red, instead she was taken in by him and his then wife. Once that was revealed the two longtime enemies actually somewhat team up to track down who sparked the whole thing by letting it be known that Red did what he didn’t do.
The trail leads back to number twelve on the Blacklist, the Decembrist, the alias of Assistant Director of National Intelligence Alan Fitch (Alan Alda). Berlin takes explosive revenge on Fitch, literally, and then is betrayed by his own flesh and blood to be handed back to Reddington. In one of the best acted scenes you’re likely to see on TV this year, Berlin and Reddington share a bottle of vodka before Red erases number eight from the Blacklist permanently. Any of the occasions where Red has personally killed one of his enemies he has, for the most, done so in a way that pays tribute to them. At least in the cases where the enemy has proven to be an extremely worthy opponent. This is the case here and it results in a powerful moment.
In other developments, Lizzie’s (Megan Boone) day goes from bad to worse as her literally captive husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold), kills someone. Although she doesn’t report it, she does at least finally confide in her FBI partner, Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff). The fact that Ressler doesn’t immediately turn her in and instead decides to assist her in allowing Tom to get much-needed intel on Berlin says a lot about how far their partnership has progressed. He openly dismissed her at the beginning of the series, but she has slowly gained his trust and respect. However, Lizzie’s covert imprisonment of Tom, plus her allowing Red’s cleaner, Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) to sweep up the murder says a lot about how far she’s come since being just a novice profiler.
Of course, there is still the bombshell reveal that Tom has been working for Red in some capacity and the unanswered question of the true connection between Lizzie and Red (come on, we all know it’s basically a Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader type deal, right?), amongst a few other lingering tidbits. The biggest question is, what next? Considering the next new episode airs in the plumb slot following the conclusion of the Super Bowl on February 1st and features new baddie Ron Perlman, I’d say the rest of season two will prove to be as dynamic and volatile as what has gone before, if not more so.
wealth – wise
Inspire personal growth by helping people make wise choices with how they invest their time, energy and money
Hi welcome to wealth – wise!
The idea of undertaking a regular blog is both exciting and scary at the same time. We believe that we have much to say and lots of ways to add value. Today’s entry will be easy; we’re just going to touch on why we are going to blog, our purpose in blogging, and who we’re writing for.
The “why” is easy! Everything we believe and do at QCRM is built on a fundamental belief and truth: in this world the most important things we have as human beings are our families, our health, our faith, and our money! With this as a core value we take great care to do no harm and always put the needs of our clients and the readers of this blog first and foremost. As such we’re going to go to great lengths to create a body of written work that we can be proud of and most importantly that can help readers sift through all of the noise, helping them to make solid informed decisions. In this blog we’ll also challenge the status quo and the things that don’t sit right with us; in particular, the sales culture mentality in the financial services industry, financial pornography in the media, and the belief that financial planning can be reduced to investment management decisions. Now that is not to suggest that great professionals do not exist in our industry. We know plenty of them. Rather, we believe the industry as a whole has to do a better job of putting the needs of the client first. Next to critical health care services, solid client-centered, values based financial advice is some of the most critical services a person will ever purchase. We truly believe in this increasingly complex financial environment, every person needs someone to talk to about their money and their life.
The purpose of our blog is to inspire personal growth by helping people make wise choices with how they invest their time, energy, and money! And while that may sound a little strange for what is in essence a financial planning blog, if you’re not getting that from your financial plan it is under-serving you and your family!
This blog will be created and organized in such a way that there will be educational content universal to anyone who seeks to accumulate wealth and financial well-being. Initially we will create content two times per month as that is what we think we’re ready to commit to. Our initial focus will be to provide you with a context of “what is financial planning? Who should be thinking about it and why? How do you go about doing it on your own, and if you’re paying someone for it, how do you know if you’re getting real planning?”
Steven Covey said in his famous book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin with the end in mind”. If I think about what I would like readers of our fledgling blog to say in the future, the word empowerment comes to mind. We would like this blog to empower people to move forward and attain a level of financial well-being that will help them in other critical areas of their lives! Lastly I am more of a speaker than I will ever be a writer and thrive on dialogue! If you have a burning question and or a topic that you think is critically important, let the fine people at the LI Pulse know and we’ll see what we can do.
Thank you for reading and please share this with those you love!
Healthy Thanksgiving Eating
How to enjoy Thanksgiving without sabotaging your healthy eating
Published: Monday, November 17, 2014
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, but it can sometimes be a little tricky if you’ve been trying to eat healthily. There are a few options.
The first is of course to just enjoy for the day (or weekend), but this doesn’t work for some people. It can sometimes be really tough to get back into the patterns of healthy eating after spending a full three or four days not worrying about food at all. Another method is to try to just eat things that you’d normally be eating. A great deal of traditional Thanksgiving foods are very healthy, but of course, you miss out on desserts, cranberry sauce, etc.
With that in mind, this is what I like to do so that I can completely enjoy myself while still maintaining some structure. Since Thanksgiving dinner is Thursday afternoon, I keep my carbs low from Monday to Thursday morning. Eggs, salads, vegetables, and meat/fish make up my food until Thanksgiving dinner and I try to take a 30-45 minute walk each day and do some weight-training as well.
On Thursday morning, I will go for a quick walk and try to just eat a single light meal of chicken and salad. When it finally comes time to eat the Thanksgiving dinner, give yourself a four-hour window. After three days of preparation, you will not only be even more thankful, but your healthy eating habits will be much easier to fall back into the next day!
Watches Gone Wild
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday, Nov. 14
Published: Friday, November 14, 2014
Swift Moves at Oheka Castle
Hear her on the radio. Watch her on the TV. Now you can play the Taylor Swift video game! Well, sort of. As a companion piece to her new music video “Blank Space,” Taylor Swift takes you inside her new music video—and the mansion in which it was shot! Yes folks, that’s Long Island’s own Oheka Castle. With the free app for iOS or Android, you can follow Taylor throughout the castle going from room to room–at will! By tilting or tapping your phone you’ll glide through the castle looking for hidden objects, receive personal text messages from Taylor and purchase her new CD or tickets to an upcoming show—all without leaving the app or the comfort of the castle.
Watches Gone Wild!
The watch hasn’t gotten this crazy since the ‘80’s! Clean, crisp, light and fashionable—but not so easy to read—it’s the Ora Unica by Italian watch makers NAVA Design. This ingenious watch uses a unique graphic “squiggle” as the hands to the clock. It takes some time, (no pun intended) to get used to, but once you figure it out it’s really easy to read. This odd, but sleek timepiece won’t start a revolution but it may get you a second look from that significant other you’ve been trying to impress. For the watch collector on your list this year, take a second look (there I go again) at the Ora Unica by Nava.
All about That Bass
Don’t you just love watching a movie with surround sound? The addition of a sub-woofer, or bass cabinet, really makes the film more intense! Or, how about that feeling you get on the dance floor when the bass is really kickin’!? Well now, you can capture that surround sound feel while on your smart phone! A new company called Woojer has just released the first personal sub-woofer device for your phone, iPod or MP3 player. It’s a wearable sub-woofer that you place on your chest or on your back (it also attaches to your belt or shirt), that produces a vibration simulating a sub-woofer or bass cabinet. Hey, it’s not for everyone, but I predict this could be the start of bringing that personal listening experience to the next level!
The new EYE Phone
I don’t often fall for these cute, not so functional gadgets but I couldn’t let this one go without saying something! LG has just released (in Korea) phones with eyes AND individual personalities! At least that’s how they are being touted. The LG AKA comes in four different colorful “characters,” each with their own backstory, attitude and traits. Ah, yeah, right. The phone still works as any other smart phone would except you can lift the tiny sliding door to display eyes—that really blink! If you want to grab one of these first, you’ll have to have a bunch of disposable income. And second, you’ll have to wait till they cross the Pacific and land on U.S. shores. As for me, I’m not holding my breath.
Two-Door Coupe Delivers American Swank
ATS offers comfort, latest tech and bangin’ sound system
The ATS sedan’s carved a singular place in a crowded Caddy segment since launching two years ago, specifically this two-door model with its classic attributes - style and comfort. Style-shmile, though. I jammed my ATS tester with the contents of my apartment and moved across town. U-Haul? A pal’s pickup truck? Forget it. It was a Cadillac or nothin’. When I was done with the sublime pleasure of changing residences, I leaned back and dug my low, wide ATS, which came equipped with a 3.6 liter V6 (a turbocharged 4-cylinder is available) that glides down the street like butter on wheels, its sound system buoying you with bass and whose interior rocks you as though you’re at a spa. Blast and roar aren’t the ATS’ strong points - your neighbors will thank you – but it does giddyap from 0 to 60 in a not-bad 5.6 seconds. It also comes in a six-speed manual, which I would have liked to have sampled, but you only get it if you opt for the 2.0 litre, rear-wheel drive trim. Mileage is a reported 18-city/28 highway with the 4-cylinder, 18/26 with the 6-cylinder. I drove 80 highway miles round trip picking up my bro at the airport on a full tank and watched with dismay as the needle plunged despite taking it easy. No one buys a Caddy for its mileage, however, so that was forgivable.
The car’s feel on the highway is steady, heavy, and quiet. Your weight is just about evenly split, 50/50, front and rear, and optional Magnetic Ride Control adaptive dampers and FE3 sport suspension assist the smooth ride. You roll. You have a nice conversation with your passenger. It feels good. $1,295 buys you semi-aniline leather upholstery and high-line trim packages, with wood accents, so you smell good things as well as enjoying the glide. The back section is small and getting there requires a severe front-seat-lean-forward action unless you’re a child, so take note of the 4-door model Cadillac offers in this trim if you plan on packing family or buddies or the contents of your crib back there.
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe, Base price: $37,995
Where this car really gets specific is in its options, which are fun and impressive and would be something I’d include if I was buying this car for someone else, as Elvis Presley might. (The King of rock’ n’ roll was notorious for buying Cadillacs for friends and family.) Lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, forward-collision alert, Cadillac’s safety alert seat, automatic high-beam control and rain-sensing wipers are just a few of the all-ins available. A Driver Assist package, which adds front and rear auto-braking, full-range adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and cross-traffic alert, automatic collision preparation, auto seatbelt tightening and a full-color head-up display not only provides a feeling of safety, but you may have the most packed-with-tech ride on your block. The ATS is aimed at the individual, and it’s under 40K starting price tag makes it even more singular. That’s a good thing in an increasing world of same-same.
Recipe: Crispy Chicken Drumsticks
A week-night dinner that meets all the criteria
Published: Thursday, November 13, 2014
Simple….check! Budget-friendly…..check! Super tasty…..check! Welcome to a week-night dinner that will meet all your criteria and the best part is NOBODY will be arguing over that last drumstick. After all they are the star of the show!
• 3 tablespoon Olive Oil, good quality
• 8 drumsticks
• 1 teaspoon adobe seasoning
• ground pepper
• 2 shallots sliced into wedges
• 8 whole garlic cloves
1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat the bottom of a large foil-lined baking pan with one 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
2.) Arrange the chicken on pan and drizzle the top of the chicken with another tablespoon of olive oil massaging it in until thoroughly coated. In a small bowl, coat garlic and shallot wedges with remaining olive oil.
3.) Sprinkle generously with Adobe Seasoning & Ground Pepper.
4.) Place in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes.
5.) Switch pan over to top rack add in shallots and whole garlic cloves around chicken. Bake for another 20-30 minutes until skin looks golden and crisp with juices running clear. (Save juices in pan.)
6.) Drizzle the chicken juices from pan over chicken and veggies before serving.
Castle and Beckett Team Up For LIfe
The ‘Castle’ event we’ve all been waiting for
Just like that, the producers of “Castle” have brought me back 100%. I don’t even care that the missing months of Castle’s life are still staring at us like the drunken elephant in the room. The couple known as Caskett have finally tied the knot and on their way to the alter also reminded me of why I love this show.
“Castle” is, and always has been, a show that never goes at something directly. Much like the solutions to its cases-of-the-week, the show puts its own unique and twisty spin on every storyline. When the slow march to a big gala wedding during the back half of last season got curtailed with an automobile inferno, I was thrown. And angry. And disillusioned. I’ve been very clear about that as well as remaining skeptical about the whole Rick-returned-with-amnesia storyline. Now that we’ve gotten the wedding that the characters, the show and the fans deserve, I realize I should not have lost faith.
In dispelling my accusations of the show committing the biggest of Television tropes, that of jumping the shark, the writers chose another well used plot device – “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I wrote in my last article about “Hawaii Five-0” having just used that premise in their most recent episode, but that was just a character’s drug-induced hallucination. On this show, Rick Castle (Nathan Fillion) appears to literally be sent to an alternate dimension by a mysterious artifact. In this alternate universe Castle never consulted with the NYPD, so Beckett (Stana Katic), Ryan (Seamus Dever) and Esposito (Jon Huertas) don’t know who he is. More importantly, we see how their lives would have been without his presence.
Since he never wrote his bestselling Nikki Heat books, based on his adventures with the NYPD, Castle is a washed up has been author in this reality. He grew distant with his daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn) and his mother, Martha (Susan Sullivan), had to continue acting to help pay the bills. Castle remembers his old life and has to weasel his way into the police investigation of the latest case in order to recover the artifact and return home. Of course, many wacky hi-jinks ensue, but the whole escapade only serves to make his determination to marry Beckett ever more solid. Once he gets home and recounts his tale, the couple finally break the golden rule of Television couples and get hitched.
The best shows give you what you expect in new and unexpected ways and this is one of the very best strengths of “Castle.” It has always served up a rich blend of misdirection, humor, drama, mystery and wonderful acting. Thankfully, it has always treated the Castle-Beckett relationship in an organic way, letting it age like a fine wine over several years before giving us and the characters the wedding we never knew we wanted. Generally, shows like this end with the leads getting married. We’re barely a third of the way into the new season so atypically we’ll get to see how they behave as a properly married couple. This isn’t the first series to dive into these waters, but it’s rare enough to have reinvigorated the show.
So, yes, I can admit when I’m wrong and in this case I happily do so. It’s never fun when an old favorite loses its shine, but in this case they’ve managed to recapture the magic. They could still choose to go out on a high note and make this season the finale one, although I no longer think they should be leaning in that direction. It took this long for one forgivable story slip up and I hope for many more high quality episodes to come.
Sticking with ‘Castle’: Time to re-evaluate whether or not ‘Castle’ warrants continued viewing
‘Castle’ Returns With a Mystery: Plus Storybrooke freezes, Five-0 expands, NYPD under fire
Legends in Print and on Stage
November 2014 Mixed Media Online
Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
© Stevie Nicks/courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery
Stevie Nicks Crystal Photographic Visions
Fleetwood Mac fans have recently had a chance to see the classic line-up of Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Lindsay Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and, for the first time in how many years, Christine McVie. On the same day that the group announced it was extending its tour into 2015 with 40 additional dates, a private party was held for Stevie Nicks. The party took place at the downtown Manhattan Openspace Gallery. It was hosted by the Morrison Hotel Gallery, the premier art-world representatives of the world’s most distinguished rock photographers. The Morrison Hotel has a permanent downtown location and one in Los Angeles, but it held the lavish event at the cavernous Openspace to accommodate the many photographers, music biz heavyweights and over-sized framed prints of Stevie Nicks’s photographs from the 70s, which are being exhibited for the first time. There was also a massive sound system playing Nicks’s new release, 24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault (Reprise), on vinyl.
© Stevie Nicks/courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery
The event truly was a party and once Nicks entered, the crush of photographers was intense. Nicks seemed relaxed, friendly and appreciative that such a large crowd showed up not to hear her sing but to see her photographs. After a short period, her mates in the Mac, Mick Fleetwood and Christine McVie, showed up. McVie was beaming, as she held her dog in her arms; she seemed to be so content surrounded by her Fleetwood Mac bandmates. Fleetwood, who towered over nearly everyone in attendance, radiated his calm, friendly manner and was also besieged by photographers. Nicks took Fleetwood around the entire gallery, giving him a personal tour of all the photos. He stayed for quite some time and appeared captivated by the photos.
© Stevie Nicks/courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery
Long after Nicks, Fleetwood and McVie left, the party raged on. I caught up with Dave Stewart, formerly of the Eurhythmics, who produced Nicks’s previous album and directed the documentary on Nicks entitled Stevie Nicks – In Your Dreams. Sipping a martini, Stewart indicated he is working on four projects of mostly unknown, young new artists. The affable producer seemed excited about these productions, which include London-based soul singer Hollie Stephenson; Los Angeles-based Brit singer-songwriter Kaya; the Lake Poets (great name!); and Steward and Lindsey, a duo project.
As of this writing, news from the Nicks camp is that she is planning a 24 Karat Gold – Songs From the Vault, volume two.
A Time to Celebrate
The Long Island musical event of the fall is David Amram’s 84th Birthday Concert: Remembering Pete Seeger, which will take place on November 20, 2014 at 7 pm., at the Hillwood Recital Hall at Tilles Center at C.W. Post in Brookville, NY.
The evening’s performers will include David Amram and his quintet (David Amram, Kevin Twigg, Rene Hart, Robbie Winterhawk and Adam Amram), Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), Tom Chapin, Holly Near, Guy Davis, Garland Jeffreys, Kim & Reggie Harris, Joel Rafael, The Amigos, The Chapin Sisters, Bethany & Rufus, and the Connecticut State Troubadour Kristen Graves.
Tickets are $55 in advance and can be purchased by visiting movementmusicrecords.com. There is also a VIP meet-and-greet with the performers available for an additional $45. For more information about Hillwood Recital Hall at the Tilles Center at C.W. Post, visit http://www.tillescenter.org and wcwp.org.
To Vaccinate or Not?
For anyone who’s interested in a hidden history of medicine, “On Immunity” is worth a shot
You’ve got a big job.
You took it on the moment your child was born, knowing that protecting him was a lifetime assignment. And now, as part of that job, you’re questioning the viability of a rite that children have undergone for decades: vaccinate or not?
You’ve read the pros and the cons, and your mind swims. But once you read “On Immunity: An Inoculation” by Eula Biss, you’ll understand a little more.
While modern medicine is surely that, vaccination has been around for quite awhile: in the mid-1700s, many noticed that milkmaids exposed to cowpox were immune to smallpox, and they acted accordingly. Even before that, though, parents in China and India practiced a form of vaccination called variolation. And before that, birth was “the original inoculation.”
As the daughter of a doctor, Eula Biss got the full round of vaccines that most babies of her generation received. She debated, however, about vaccinating her own son from a strain of flu that was going around when he was an infant, which led to the greater question: which vaccines – if any - are necessary?
The complication, she learned, is that we can’t see vaccine “just in terms of how it affects a single body, but also in terms of how it affects the collective body of… community.” Total world-wide immunization against disease is nearly impossible, but statistics show that if the right percentage of a population is immunized, it can halt an epidemic. The majority effectively protects the minority.
So is it better to receive natural immunity from a disease by contracting it?
Not necessarily, says Biss. While it’s true that we wouldn’t be a species without viruses (a “surprising amount” of our genomes consist of “debris from ancient viral infections”), allowing your children to catch certain childhood diseases now can be detrimental to them later in their lives.
Hand sanitizers aren’t the answer, either, since they kill “indiscriminately,” promote antibiotic resistance, and leave behind traces of unsavory chemicals. And part of the vaccine-or-not issue is that misinformation can, well, go viral.
And yet, “uncomfortable with both sides” of the argument, and “overwhelmed by information,” Biss went ahead with the schedule of inoculations for her son. “I still believe,” she says, “there are reasons to vaccinate that transcend medicine.”
When you see something these days about vaccinations, it’s easy to conclude that it might fiercely be for or against. Not so with “On Immunity.”
With cautious deliberation and careful reflection, author Eula Biss offers readers a good balance in this debate, which is delightfully welcome. As a mother, she’s obviously had to ponder the issue and her conclusions are based in fact and personal anecdote, although she also includes the perfect amount of history and literature for entertainment.
I’m not sure this book will change any minds, but it does offer a fair mix to consider if you’re a parent facing the decision. For you, or for anyone who’s interested in a hidden history of medicine, “On Immunity” is worth a shot.
Steve Hackett: What Genius Sounds Like
Hackett and band visit Long Island on November 15th at The Space at Westbury
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Genesis has reentered the realm of current events with two recent releases: a career-spanning CD retrospective that also gives equal time to the solo career of its individual members, along with a filmed documentary that explores the band’s journey from inception through dissolution. It is the latter of these events that has made further headlines as guitarist Steve Hackett publically stated that he felt that the solo careers of Genesis’s individual members were not fairly apportioned, and that he would not offer the DVD of the documentary for sale on his website when it is released in January 2015.
Hackett is the sole member of Genesis who has kept the music’s flag aloft. Currently on the road for his Genesis Extended 2014-2015 World Tour, Hackett and band visit Long Island on November 15th at The Space at Westbury, performing material from Hackett’s Genesis years, 1970-1977.
Here’s some of what Hackett had to say during a long and candid conversation that covered a variety of areas, including his solo career, his innovative use of double-tapping on guitar, his collaborations with Yes members Steve Howe and Chris Squire, past albums and performances, his current world tour, and a new album that he has just completed.
“Genesis was a huge editorial school of ‘They don’t like this, and you can’t do that.’ There were lots of ifs, ands and buts.”
“I would watch gems being thrown into the pot with other people, and then we would end up not recording that stuff, and it used to drive me up the wall. I used to think that there was an agenda at work here. (Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford) stood in (Peter Gabriel’s) way, they stood in my way. At the end of the day, for Pete and me, our allegiance was to music, and not to what many people might think of as the world’s best band. You could justify that, certainly. Tons of talent, but not enough heart.”
“I think up until recently, I was always trying to cover. I didn’t want to sound like I’m ratting on the regiment, but I think that people are old enough now to realize that there is a truth. People want to know why there is no band these days, why is it the band can’t do anything? Why is it I’m out there doing a separate show of Genesis music myself?”
An excellent question, Mr. Hackett! With so many bands from rock’s halcyon days dusting off their instruments and putting aside old squabbles to take the stage once again and celebrate the music with their fans, what is preventing Genesis from standing onstage together again?
Find out the answer to this question and many more by visiting Island Zone Update.
‘Hawaii Five-0’ Reaches 100
What if the Five-0 task force had never been formed?
This is the time of year where the fates of many TV shows are decided. There have already been a few cancellations with some shows getting a full season order vote of confidence. Amidst that frenzy is something that should be celebrated and acknowledged. “Hawaii Five-0” has aired its 100th episode and has chosen the occasion to not only look back at its beginnings, but also propel things forward.
The momentous episode starts out exactly like the very first episode, with Navy SEAL Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) having taken Anton Hesse (Norman Reedus) into custody when he receives a satellite phone call from Anton’s borther, Victor (James Marsters). When I say exactly, I mean this is the exact footage used from the pilot. As before, Victor threatens the life of Steve’s dad, John (William Sadler) to secure his brother’s release. When Anton winds up dead, Steve hears a gunshot over the line and…HPD has arrived in time to save John’s life as relayed to Steve by Detective Danny Williams (Scott Caan).
Just when it seems we are viewing an unaired version of the pilot, we finally get the truth. Steve has actually been captured by his long-standing nemesis, Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos), who is torturing McGarrett with drugs that are causing him to hallucinate an alternate universe in which the venerable taskforce never existed. Wo Fat wants to know the location of his father, which is pretty rich considering the gangster was responsible for ordering the death of McGarrett’s dad originally. Along the way we finally get the answer to a long-standing mystery of the series, namely the connection between Wo Fat and Steve McGarrett.
Alternate universe storylines are an age-old “It’s A Wonderful Life” riff that generally show the characters in a new light. It seems that any show that lasts more than three seasons invariably does it. Interestingly, though, all the characters seems to be doing well without the titular conceit existing. Danny is very happily married to Rachel and loving Hawaii, Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) is a captain in the HPD, Kono (Grace Park) is still catchy the tasty waves even if she is endorsing lip gloss. The only two that don’t seem to be doing well are an incarcerated Kamekona (Taylor Wily) and a homeless Jerry (Jorge Garcia). There is even a glimpse of the once-traitorous Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik), happy and free of Wo Fat’s influence.
There are also a couple of nice surprise appearances back in the real world. Other than the aforementioned Wo Fat, we also get the ever-affable Sang Min (Will Yun Lee) assisting the Five-0 team on their latest case and then later in helping to find Steve, along with Adam Noshimuri (Ian Anthony Dale). The centerpiece, of course, comes towards the end in a brutal fight between Wo Fat and Steve, the latter of which finally tells the former of how they are connected. But then a final armed stand-off between the two men closes off the longstanding conflict between the two as one lives to see the end credits and the other meets a definitive end. I’ll bet you can guess who lives to fight another day.
All in all, this 100th episode is terrific fun balanced by several emotional beats and all wrapped up with a montage of great moments from the show’s history. At the same time, it also feels like the closing of a chapter and the start of a new trajectory for the series and characters. A lot of epic moments have happened over the past four plus seasons and now that those have been celebrated, the table has been cleared for many more to come. Hau`oli la Ho’omana’o “Hawaii Five-0!”
Don’t Worry About Ebola
Why there won't be an Ebola outbreak in New York
Published: Monday, November 10, 2014
Ebola is a terrible and potentially deadly viral disease. Over the past few weeks, the news has been filled with articles and sensational headlines about the very few cases in the United States and the single case in New York State (which was contracted in Africa, where the situation is very different). There has also been a tremendous amount of political noise made about quarantines for healthcare workers and travelers from affected countries.
Why then, is there no reason to worry, unless you plan to travel to West Africa?
The first reason is that Ebola is an enveloped virus, which means that it cannot survive for very long outside of a human or animal and it is susceptible to killing via detergents when exposed outside of the body. This is why you cannot catch Ebola without touching bodily fluid from someone who is showing active symptoms. The second reason that we should not worry is that, even in West Africa, where things are worst, each Ebola patient has only led to at most two additional cases. Contrast this to a disease like measles, where a single patient can infect nearly twenty others!
Finally, hospitals in New York are fortunate to have tremendous resources and even if a person were to contract the disease in this state, it is not a stretch to say that their chance for complete recovery would be very high.
Ebola is harder to contract than you might think.
Pioneer Brewers: A Taste of Long Island
Brewing is the latest addition to Farmingdale's A Taste of Long Island
Published: Friday, November 07, 2014
Pioneer Brewers is an ongoing series profiling Long Island’s first hub for alternating brewery proprietorships at A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale. The first installment explores the host brewery, A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery, operated by…
Jim Thompson recently unearthed his copy of Charlie Papazian’s The Complete Joy of Homebrewing from his garage. The book, once a regular read, now exists solely as a worn vestige of his former hobby: its cover is frayed and most pages are dog-eared; its spine is more wrinkled than a rhinoceros’ skinsuit. “It was in storage for a long time with the rest of my brewing stuff,” Thompson admits, pouring us a pair of beers.
Jim Thompson, co-owner of A Taste of Long Island in Farmingdale, has started a unique brewery in his commercial kitchen. Image: Doug Young
A homebrewer during the ‘90s, “when everything was extract in cans,” Thompson eventually shelved Papazian’s influential guide and stopped brewing with friends. “I started a family and life just got in the way,” he explains. The majority of his time now is dedicated to A Taste of Long Island, owned with his daughter, Courtney Citko. They provide a rentable commercial kitchen to small and budding food businesses, hosting roughly 50 rotating clients who “make and package everything from cookies to tomato sauce,” he says. The demand for their 800-square-foot space has only grown since opening in Farmingdale in 2012. “It’s hard for startup food entrepreneurs to find a good built-to-code kitchen in this area. We saw the need for it.”
Christine Goldfuss, owner of Christine’s Sweets, uses Taste to make her company’s eight types of cookies. She agrees with Thompson, telling the New York Times last year, “This has been a dream of mine for a long time. The sticking point was always trying to find a commercial kitchen.” Goldfuss, like many of Taste’s clients, also benefits from the company’s other component, an adjacent specialty grocery store that sells her products. (“One-third of our selection are goods made by our clients,” Thompson beams). It’s my first visit to the 400-square-foot store on Main Street, and my mother is with me, though our agendas are discernibly different. While she indifferently orbits the tiny room on a quest for “something sweet,” my objective is specific: I came to taste some beers from Thompson’s new in-house brewery, A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery.
A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery’s Farmingdale Blonde Ale. Image: Doug Young
After a hiatus of two decades, Thompson has returned to brewing—though now, with the proper federal and state licenses and equipment, he’s using his commercial kitchen, not his home, as the site to make beer as A Taste of Long Island Craft Brewery. His first release, Farmingdale Blonde Ale, debuted in September. It’s a “clean and crisp beer accessible to all the Miller and Bud drinkers,” he says. This was followed by two variations using Farmingdale’s recipe as a base: Honey Blonde Ale, brewed with honey from Raleigh’s Poultry Farms and Country Store in Kings Park, and Honey Harvest Ale, brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger. Both beers are available now.
Similar to Goldfuss and Taste’s other food-based clients, licensed brewers can rent the kitchen’s new brewing equipment, which includes a 125-gallon mash tun and two 55-gallon brew kettles (fermentators must be purchased by the tenant), to make beer. Thompson is operating his brewery as a hub for alternating proprietorships, defined by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau as an “arrangement in which two or more people take turns using the physical premises of a brewery. Generally, the proprietor of an existing brewery, the ‘host brewery,’ agrees to rent space and equipment to a new ‘tenant brewer.’”
A growing trend in the industry, the alternating proprietorship model is being utilized by small brewers deciding to eschew traditional—and costly—startup methods. In New York City, Grimm Artisanal Ales, Radiant Pig Craft Beers, and Third Rail Beer all rent space and equipment at large facilities to make their beers, while Evil Twin Brewing and Stillwater Artisanal Ales have both become popular brands by brewing as tenants, or gypsies, internationally. Thompson is the first to launch a home for alternating proprietorships on Long Island. As of now, he’s agreed to host three companies (more are forthcoming): 1940’s Brewing Company, Po’ Boy Brewery, and The Brewer’s Collective. This trio will have the opportunity to brew, package, and distribute their beers without the financial risk of launching a brick-and-mortar operation. “They don’t have to find a warehouse and spend $500,000 on equipment, rent, electricity, and so on. But it’s basically like owning a brewery—everything is brewed and packaged by the brewer and they pay their own taxes,” Thompson says.
“It’s not much different than a person coming here to make cookies,” he adds, though he also admits a lot of planning and restructuring was needed to accomodate the new endeavor. Thompson converted the building’s narrow basement into an area for storage and fermentation, for example, and it’s already stuffed with ingredients and equipment. He estimates tenants will brew at Taste “for only three or four years before opening their own brewery,” though, “so we’ll have the space to keep adding new brewers to the roster. I’m already getting tons of phone calls. I really think this can become the first launchpad for startup breweries on Long Island. We’re like a group of pioneer brewers,” he says.
While Thompson is confident of his brewery’s chances for long-term success, he’s still uncertain of an optimal setup to serve beer at his store. He’s using a kegerator with three drafts now, but already anticipating a flood of forthcoming beers from himself and his clients, he’s planning to upgrade to 10 drafts before Christmas. Another uhhhhhhh is the lack of seating. Thompson is selling beer to-go in 64-ounce growlers and 22-ounce bottles, but serving pints on-premise with only one table and two chairs won’t exactly draw a sizable crowd. “I have a lot of decisions to make eventually,” he says. “For now, though, I just want to get all the kinks worked out with all the brewers coming in. That’s the main focus here. We’re gonna be making a lot of beer.”
Filling Bottles at A Taste of Long Island. Image: Doug Young
After we taste Farmingdale Blonde, deliberately more refreshing than complex, Thompson pours me a beer from the second brewer to launch at Taste: Charles Becker, owner of 1940’s Brewing Company. Becker, a homebrewer from Old Bethpage, is focusing on German styles with his new company. He started brewing at Taste in…
COMING SOON: Pioneer Brewers: 1940’s Brewing Company
Locked Out? Use Your iPhone
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Nov. 7
I’d buy this in a Heartbeat!
It’s been said that each fingerprint is unique, but did you know everyone has their own distinct heartbeat? A new wearable device called the Nymi is rumored to record and catalog your “individual cardiac rhythm” that will verify your identity and allow you pay for products and services. What makes this wearable device so different? It operates completely independent of any other device you currently own. There is no need to sync the Nymi with your phone or smart device. Think of it as a wallet you wear on your wrist. Other functions could include; keyless entry, turning on the lights, even controlling your TV.
Alright Amazon, We Give!
It seems we’re always talking about Amazon week after week on this blog but hey, they keep releasing new products and services! This time it’s the “Echo,” the… table-top personal assistant, shopping list maker, joke teller, weather tracker, music player, recipe finder, mind reader, information gatherer, blue tooth enabler, voice activated, programmable, hands-free, Wi-Fi, cloud-based what-cha-ma-call-it (Whew!). Check it out and pre-order it here. Prime members get it for half-price… mine’s already on pre-order.
Locked Out? Use your Phone
Its 2:00am, you arrive at your hotel and stand in line waiting for that plastic (often uncleansed) room key. You find your room, slide that card in-and-out of the slot on the door waiting for that little green light to let you pass. Well, struggle no more. The geniuses at Starwood Hotels have found a way around those annoying room key cards…your phone! By using your smartphone and the companion app, you’ll have your room number, your confirmation, an alert that tells you your room is ready and your room key too! Zip past the check-in lines, wave your phone by the door and you’re in! Testing has already begun at 10 different hotels in the U.S… Just make sure your cell phone is charged or you’ll give new meaning to the term “wall hugger.”
All Lap, No Top
We talk a lot about gimmicks and gadgets here but rarely about new laptops, that’s probably because the traditional laptop computer may soon be a thing of the past. Tablets, iPads and Notes are fine but they don’t have the power, speed or functionality of a PC or a Mac…till now! The Surface Pro 3 by Microsoft, just may be the device that makes the old-style laptop a relic real soon. Powerful, stylish, light and portable the Surface Pro 3 takes everything you love about the laptop, or PC and puts it together with the portability of a tablet. With too many details and perks to mention, click here to take a look at the Surface Pro 3 and get your holiday shopping list ready for its newest entry.
Kardashians Dash to the Hamptons
'Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons,' premiered on E! on Nov. 2
It all began back in 2007 with “Keeping up with the Kardashians.” Since then, the family has created an empire that seems to grow and grow. It’s unlikely, if not rare to come across someone unfamiliar with the superstars of the pop culture world.
“Keeping up with the Kardashians” is on it’s way to its 10th season, and the ladies of the family make sure to stay busy in between filming. Not only do all of the ladies participate in the main show, but they also have several successful spinoff shows. The first successful spinoff was “Kourtney and Kim Take Miami” followed by “Kourtney and Kim Take New York”, “Khloe and Lamar,” and now “Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons.”
“Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons is no different from any of the other Kardashian shows,” Christine D’Angelo of Huntington said after watching the first episode of “Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons, which premiered on E! on Nov. 2. “The girls are working on their new Dash location, Kourtney is pregnant again, and Scott is in trouble as always. I don’t know if I’ll stick around for the whole season.”
Kim, Kourtney and Khloe own a line of fashion boutiques called Dash. The boutique carries upscale clothing and accessories including the Kardashian sisters clothing line. Since opening the first location in Calabasas, California, the ladies have opened locations in Miami and New York City and this past summer the Hamptons.
The decision to open Dash in Southampton on iconic Jobs Lane where many go for some of the best shopping in the Hamptons was meet with mixed feelings from Hampton locals not too happy about the idea of the mayhem the ladies would bring. Some people were concerned that the Kardashian girls would bring trouble and cause a ruckus in the area. While others were very excited to hear the Kardashians would be spending some time in the popular Long Island town. Despite the concerns from the community and even public officials Kourtney and Khloe took over the Hamptons, filming “Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons,” this past summer.
“I love that the family came to Long Island,” Lauren Miller of Garden City said after watching the first episode of “Kourtney and Khloe Take The Hamptons.” “I have always considered Long Island the Beverly Hills of New York. It only makes sense that the girls made a spinoff here next. Excited to see how the rest of the season is going to play off.”
During the stay on Long Island the Kardashian family rented home on a peninsula in the Hamptons hamlet of North Sea. Many fans made sure to be at every club, restaurant and store to see if they could catch a glimpse of the celebrity family.
The big question, however, is whether the Kardashians brought the drama, craziness and the Hamptons know for wild times the family? We’ll let you watch the trailer for the show so you can see for yourself. And don’t worry, the title may only mention two family members, but the whole gang will make cameo appearances throughout the season.
Dems and Repubs Differ in Their Car Choices, Too
Study reveals auto buying habits of donkeys and elephants
Democrats prefer good mileage
Tuesday’s election results were either a disaster or a triumph, depending on whom you ask. Everyone still needs to get where they’re going, though, yes? Can’t all meet and get along over that? Not really, according to a study revealing Democrats and Republicans differ as much on their choice of rides as where they stand on vital issues. San Diego-based Strategic Vision published statistics two years ago revealing that for the most part, red is red and blue is blue for the autobuying public, with some variations. Polling a total of 76,103 new vehicle buyers over 24 months, they found Republicans bought most of the new cars sold overall, accounting for 37 percent market share to the Democrats’ 31 percent. That’s not a gargantuan gap, but when they broke it down to vehicle segments, the difference was stark – 69 percent of people buying convertibles were Republicans. That’s significant because not all convertibles are through the roof price-wise. Fiat’s Arbath Cabrio carries a $26,895 sticker, for example, hardly pegging it a 1 percent mobile.
Studies show Republicans prefer trucks
Another study by TotalCarScore.com polling Facebook users about their political and autobuying habits found that 29 percent of Republicans drive trucks while 27 percent of the Democrats reported buying compact/economy cars, cementing the stereotype that Elephants like gas guzzlers and Donkeys are more sensitive/sensible. Hybrids are the least popular choices for either party, but Democrats are more than twice as likely to drive one, says the study. The only common ground can be found in minivans, SUVs and muscle cars, where percentages are roughly the same with a slight Republican edge. Why does any of this matter, you ask? It doesn’t, really, to the average consumer, most of whom buy what they need and can afford rather than bringing politics into their fenders, sound systems and how far they have to drive to work and back every day. People cross party lines all the time, too, when choosing a partner, a job, or wheels. To the auto industry, though, these statistics are crucial as their hundreds of millions of marketing dollars go into trying to convince likely buyers they should spend money on their products, and each sales percentage point either up or down represents vasts amount of money. If knowing where you stand on everything from politics to whether you position your toilet paper so the first sheet flows from above the roll or under helps their bottom line, they’re very interested indeed.
The Best Show You’re Not Watching
‘Forever’ definitely deserves your attention
Published: Thursday, November 06, 2014
Every season there is at least one show with a whole lot of heart that, for whatever reason, gets overlooked by the vast majority of viewers. This year that show is “Forever.” Starting off with fairly marginal ratings for the premiere, “Forever” has seen a significant and continual drop in ratings over its first few weeks. Two things are in its favor, however, those being ABC continuing to commit to it and the fact that its numbers are in a slight upswing. The question is why?
Procedural shows seems to be all the rage right now, especially ones that pair an unlikely male and female duo that may, or may not, have an attraction to each other. The other favored factor is some sort of quirkiness to one of the main characters, specifically a quirk that allows them super-normal powers of deduction. There also should be a loose-knit family component made up of all the main characters. Even with a plethora of this type of show already on the airwaves, that hasn’t stopped the Networks from inundating their falls schedules with new procedurals.
“Forever” has all the right ingredients. Attractive duo? Check. The handsome Medical Examiner Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) has teamed up with the beautiful and sharp NYPD Detective Jo Martinez? (Alana de la Garza). Lead character with a quirk? Well, the hook of the series is that Dr. Morgan has been alive for over 200 years and anytime he is killed he awakens in a nearby body of water. He’s also has the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes.
Loose-knit family? Ok, that may not quite be there yet. There’s Morgan’s son, Abe (Judd Hirsch), who brings heart and humor to the show. There is also Martinez’s police partner, Hanson (Donnie Keshawarz), their commanding officer, Lt. Reece (Lorraine Toussaint) and Morgan’s assistant, Lucas (Joel David Moore), but the ensemble hasn’t gelled yet as a familial unit. But the show is letting that happen organically over time, much like the relationship between Morgan and Martinez. That is firmly a friendship, which is just as well as Morgan is still pining over his dead love, Abigail (MacKenzie Mauzy) and Martinez is not quite over the sudden death of her husband.
There is also an ongoing mystery in the form of Adam, a man stalking and taunting Morgan, a man who also happens to be long-lived having been alive for a couple of millennia. This, of course, leaves the door open to widening the narrative into new and interesting areas in the future. Both Adam and Morgan’s flashbacks to his wife poignantly display both the romance and the curse of immortality. Plus, the bitter sweetness of Morgan having a son that is at least twice as old as the immortal man appears to be along with Abe susceptible to the ravages of old age and an eventual death only add to that.
All the right chemistry is there between the actors. The stories are well-written, sharp and mostly self-contained with just enough of Adam thrown in to keep interest well and truly piqued. Humor, drama and emotional heartstrings are all dealt in equal measure. This is a show that mainstream audiences should be lapping up with glee. While they haven’t been in large numbers, I am hopeful that is beginning to change. Check out “Forever” Tuesdays at 10:00 PM on ABC and see what you’ve been missing.
Beasts to Scare You
A great book for sleepovers and campfires this fall
Published: Wednesday, November 05, 2014
The nights are getting longer.
Dark falls much earlier these days; there are more shadows and more things hiding in corners, beneath, and behind. More beasts to scare you.
More creatures to catch you.
You can probably name a few of them but do you know what, exactly, lurks where you’re not expecting it? Read “M is for Monster” by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gerald Kelley and find out… if you dare!
A is at the top of the alphabet, so maybe it’s right that we start at the top of the world where A is for Amarok. It’s a fierce wolf-like creature that’s almost as big as a man and that hides in the forest. The Inuit fear the Amarok – and you should, too.
“Almost every culture has its own favorite dragon,” says J. Patrick Lewis, so that’s what D stands for: dragons. Most of them breathe fire and they make excellent guards for your castle. Some are tamed, but there’s no word on housebreaking issues.
If you live in a big city, you might be familiar with Gargoyles, which is the G word here. Originally meant to help keep buildings safe from rainwater, there’s an interesting (and frightening) myth that goes along with them. No wonder the stone beasts are so scary!
Is it a bird? Is it a snake? It’s both, because Q is for Quetzalcoatl, a creature that appears to be many parts, including a bit of human. He’s huge and he’s terrifying, but he’s not such a bad guy underneath: the Aztecs thought he invented books and calendars and that he brought corn, so they worshipped him.
U is for unicorn, a creature that’s hardly a monster. Legend has it that the shy, gentle horse-with-a-horn can cleanse water and heal injuries, and it’s attracted by purity and innocence. In truth, however, the creatures have never been seen – although several kinds of animals could really fool you.
And then we end at the end with Z for zombies. Yes, the Undead are shocking – maybe because they’re portrayed as a sign of the end of the world!
Looking for a great book for sleepovers and campfires this fall? “M is for Monster” fits that fine, but beware of who you’re scaring…
You probably wouldn’t think, for example, that an alphabet book is for older kids but this one definitely is. Author J. Patrick Lewis offers a basic intro to twenty-six monsters from different cultures, while illustrator Gerald Kelley’s artwork enhances the narrative to lend an eerie feeling to each creature profile.
But there’s the beware: small, sensitive children may run, screaming, into a bedtime full of nightmares after they see what’s inside this book. The artwork is incredible but it works its magic entirely too well for little ones.
And so, while you may want to keep this out of 3-to-6-year-old hands, I think 7-to-12-year-olds (and some adults) will cherish this book for its info and its art. “M is for Monster” may be something they’ll want to read a little longer.
The Game is Afoot Again
‘Elementary’ returns with a fractured team
Published: Tuesday, November 04, 2014
It’s a great time to be a Sherlock Holmes fan. The character is featured in a film franchise starring Robert Downey, Jr., a modern day retelling hit series on the BBC in England and even a series of audio plays, also produced in Britain. Not to be left out of the mix, the US has its own present day retelling of the mythos courtesy of CBS’ “Elementary.” Starring Johnny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu as Joan Watson, the venerable series has returned for its third season and finds the crime-solving duo no longer a team.
The ending of season two left Watson feeling like she needed some space from the eccentric private detective and Holmes has seemingly obliged by not only disappearing from their partnership, but also from New York. The premiere shows us a Watson who has firmly moved on with her life. She has flourished on her own as a private investigator and has a new boyfriend. She is still ably assisting NYPD Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn) and Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill). Invariably, Holmes re-appears, but he finds his return less than warmly welcomed, especially when he introduces an ersatz Watson in the form of a new protégé, Kitty Winter(Ophelia Lovibond).
Of course, in typical Holmes’ fashion, he returns well before Watson, Gregson and Bell know he is back, even going so far as to have Kitty follow Watson on her latest case. This does not help repair his relationship with Watson, in fact quite the opposite. She agrees that he can return as a consultant to the police, but not as a partner to her. They work their own cases although she does allow that he may consult with her on more difficult cases. While he does assist with her current investigation, it is made clear that Watson is more than capable without him and has grown to be his equal in the investigative arts.
It is painfully obvious that Holmes greatly misses the dynamic between the two and has attempted to recreate that with Kitty. However, it is also as painfully obvious that the newbie doesn’t really fit the exacting standards set out by Holmes and, judging by a conversation she has with her predecessor, Kitty is not sure she really belongs under his wing. Kitty has plenty of vim and vigor, but her deductive reasoning skills aren’t as sharp as the famous team. I’m not sure yet where this will all lead, but there is a sense that it won’t end well for Ms. Winters.
Out of all the current Sherlock Holmes in the various formats, I think Johnny Lee Miller’s version might be my favorite right now. This Holmes is a recovering drug addict who understands that normal relationships are good, he just doesn’t know how to meaningfully pull them off. It’s obvious that he has a great deal of affection for all three of his colleagues, he just doesn’t always know what to do with that. Lucy Liu turns in a delightful performance as Watson and it has been a joy watching her grow from sober companion to first-class investigator over the last two seasons. Both leads continue to play off each other in new and unexpected ways.
There are a few moments that Holmes and Watson ignore the elephant in the room and work together as only they can. Whether or not that spark of the old magic will be enough to eventually reunite the pair remains to be seen. But this show is very good at making the characters earn their development and nothing happens easily. I’m very happy this show is back and look forward to where the story goes this season.
The Best Exercise Regimen for You
Published: Monday, November 03, 2014
Once you start hitting the gym regularly, what exactly should you be doing?
A gym regimen should be tailored to the fitness goal that you are trying to achieve. My recommendation for workouts is to set goals that are physical tasks rather than appearance based. For example, if your goal is to run a 5k, plan your workouts with that in mind.
Even when your ultimate goal is appearance based, you can use measurable physical goals to get there. Setting a poundage goal in a strength exercise or a time goal on the track or treadmill is far more measurable and meaningful than simply saying that you’d like to ‘look better’. I’ll go through some examples next week, but start thinking about some physical goals you might want to achieve.
Infiniti Continues Its Delivery of First-class Rides
Tech-loaded crossover mod, ballsy, handsome
Published: Friday, October 31, 2014
Sometimes a ride hits you in a Homer Simpson donut way – there are no words, just “Ahgggh.” Or, in the case of the QX70, I just kept thinking, “Damn, this is a nice (expletive) car.” It’s tough to be surprised when you’ve tested over 800 cars and trucks, but when I sat down behind the wheel and was enveloped by the smell of sweet aromatic leather (standard), placed fingers on a cockpit festooned with wood, brushed aluminum and fine materials, saw the twinkling center console seeming to smile back at me, it was love at first drive. You can’t ask any more of a car.
So what makes the QX70 top in its class? It’s got a healthy, kickin’ engine, first - a 325-hp 3.7-liter V6 equipped with technology called “Variable Valve Event and Lift” (VVEL) that helps the power plant breathe freely for instant acceleration and enhanced efficiency; no wonder I thought it was a V-8. (There was a V-8 available, but it’s been discontinued.) Behind the car, the combined dual intake and exhaust creates a blorty-snorty note you can feel as well as hear. It also handles the road like a sportster, putting up with a thrashing at high (ish) speeds and holding steady. Some fear flipping over in a bigger ride, but this one didn’t leave the ground even when I dared it, a little.
Its interior controls are operated by good ol’ buttons instead of a universal controller as with some other luxe rides that complicate the bejeezus out of stuff that should be left alone. Infiniti tosses in a lot of standard goodies, too, like a sunroof, power-operated, heated front seats, an 11-speaker Bose sound system, dual zone automatic climate control, a power rear liftgate, foglamps, cruise control, a dash-mounted seven-inch color information display and 18-inch alloy wheels. Go for the Premium Package – one of a few offered - and you’ll get a nav system with an eight-inch touch-screen display and real-time traffic and weather services, an around-view parking monitor with front and rear sonar systems, memory functionality for the front seats, power tilt and telescoping functionality for the steering wheel, audio streaming via Bluetooth and more. Check the The Deluxe Touring Package brings 20-inch alloy wheels, maple interior accents, aluminum pedals and a tonneau cover. The Technology Package delivers a laser-based Intelligent Cruise Control system with Distance Control Assist and other accoutrements.
If you’re already an Infiniti fan, the QX70 will make a further believer out of you - or may cause you to second-guess its German rivals.
Suzanne Vega plays Westhampton Beach Performing Arts
Folk songstress brings Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles to New York
I never wear white
White is for virgins
Children in summer
Brides in the park.
My color is black black black
Black is for secrets
Outlaws and dancers
For the poet of the dark.
It’s been 27 years since singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega released the a cappella “Tom’s Diner,” which was named after NYC’s Tom’s Restaurant on W 112th Street and Broadway. (Shots of Tom’s Restaurant were also used to represent Monk’s, the diner where Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer gnoshed on Seinfeld). Since the British dance duo DNA successfully remixed “Tom’s Diner” in 1990 (one of Vega’s most commercially successful songs along with “Luka” and “Marlene on the Wall”), numerous musicians have sampled the song. And it can be heard on Fall Out Boy’s latest single, “Centuries.”
“There have been so many samples,” admits Vega, who recently joined Fall Out Boy in a performance of “Centuries” on Ellen. “I really like Nikki D’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girl,’ Fall Out Boy, Michigan & Smiley and Danger Mouse’s versions.”
On her first album of original music in seven years, Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles,Vega actually samples 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” and makes reference to Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” on “Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain.” Produced by David Bowie’s former musical director Gerry Leonard, The Queen is quintessential Vega with a few more guitars thrown in with the help of former Bob Dylan sideman Larry Campbell, Peter Gabriel and King Crimson bassist Tony Levin.
One of the dark poetess’s more rockin’ songs is the semi-autobiographical “I Never Wear White.” And while she admits to wearing white from time to time—like when she got married—the woman with the penchant for dark-colored suits really does prefer black.
“‘I Never Wear White’ is a juicy song that I can really get into performing,” said Vega, who studied modern dance as a teenager. “I also like performing ‘Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain’ because it’s a lot of fun.”
While the folk songstress was influenced by artists like Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles and Laura Nyro, Vega is looking forward to hearing the new albums by Taylor Swift and Lucinda Williams. More music from Vega and a book could also be on the horizon.
“There could be more music at the end of 2015,” said Vega. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan and revisiting all of Fall Out Boy’s back catalog. I also love Cibo Matto’s new album—great stuff!”
What: Suzanne Vega live– her distinct voice is smoother than ever
Where: Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
When: Saturday, November 1st, 8pm
For more info: www.whbpac.org/pages/event_detail.php?event_id=812
Vega will also be playing at Joe’s Pub in NYC on November 14th with shows at 7:30pm and 9:30pm, and on November 15th with shows at 7:30pm and 9:30pm
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday October 31st
Welcome to the Halloween Edition of Fast Friday’s Tech Update!
USB Kidding Me?
Looking for a gift for the Goth-Geek in your life? Why not give the SkullHub a try! This clever and useful decorative desktop appliance is functional and down-right creepy. With four, 2.0 USB ports and a nifty storage compartment (where the victims brains used to be), the SkullHub will dress up your workstation for that spooky Halloween feeling all year round. This unique accessory for your PC looks so life-like it may even keep the boss away from your cubical… making the 20 bucks you’ll spend well worth it! Get yours here.
Not going anywhere tonight for Halloween? That’s okay, you can still participate in all the festivities by simply downloading these original Halloween themed wallpapers…for free! Now when you’re sitting at your desk, or your kids are passing by the computer, they’ll know you’re definitely in the holiday spirit! Plus, you won’t have to get dressed up in a silly costume or slap all that disgusting make-up on your face. Celebrating this year was never so easy, download your Halloween themed wallpaper here.
There are plenty of ways to keep your children safe while they’re out-on-the-town gathering treats this Halloween. Simple tips like making sure their phones are fully charged before they leave the house, to having emergency numbers of family members and relatives on speed dial. These are just two simple ways a parent can feel confident that their child is out there playing-it-safe! But, did you know there are smartphone apps specifically designed for the teen, or tween, who will partake in this year’s festivities? Click here for some great apps you can download and use tonight!
This is Scary
We all know there are rules to checking candy that comes home in our children’s goodie bags right? Well, in case you just crawled out from under a gravestone (or you just want to take a look at a silly video at the office), click here (or watch the video below) for some great tips that’ll help you scour your children’s candy bag for yummy “safe” treats.
Halloween’s Best TV Bets
‘Grimm’ and ‘Constantine’ provide the tricky treats
Published: Thursday, October 30, 2014
If you are looking for thrills, chills, ghouls and scares on TV this Halloween Night, NBC has you covered with two shows sure to hit all the right horror notes. Brand new demon-filled series “Constantine” and devilishly delightful veteran “Grimm” air new episodes on the scariest night of the year. Both had their season premieres last week in spooktacular fashion!
“Grimm” is back and when we were last in Portland, Oregon Captain Renard (Sasha Roiz) had been shot a few times and Nick (David Giuntoli) had been de-Grimmed. Renard’s would-be assassin (played by C. Thomas Howell, who only returns in the premiere as a replica disembodied head) was quickly dispatched by Truble (Jacqueline Toboni), but her sudden departure left the Police with a bunch of unanswered questions. Thankfully, unlike “Castle” (I know, let it go), the season-ending wedding between Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner) was able to actually get past the “I Do” stage before falling into chaos.
It doesn’t look like Nick is getting his monster-divining mojo back soon, but despite having lost his powers in a sex-romp with a magically disguised Adalind (Claire Coffee), it appears that girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) is being adult about the whole thing. Surprisingly, “Grimm” isn’t using this to drive another wedge between the two, but considering she was previously literally spellbound to constantly make out with his boss, she may realize she doesn’t really have a moral high ground to stand on. For now, Trubel is the only Grimm in town. The rookie seems to be enjoying being needed in such an important role, but Halloween may not be bringing her any treats in that department.
Similarly, the dear Captain may not even make it to being able to trick-or-treat as he flatlined and time was called in the closing moments of the premiere. This was all observed by a mysterious blonde woman (Louise Lombard). Renard’s story may not be finished because if “Grimm” has taught us anything it’s that blonde women have a way of making very unexpected, if not completely undesirable, things happen. You can almost certainly trust that she is up to no good, but whether or not that bodes well for Renard making a recovery remains to be seen. No matter what happens, Halloween promises a plastic pumpkin bucket full of treats for the viewers.
Newcomer “Constantine” got off to a dynamic and demonic start. John Constantine (Matt Ryan) is a man of few scruples and even less of a soul. He’s an occult detective and con-man who has done way too many deals with several devils and only occasionally manages to pay the price. That’s mostly the province of those around him, which is why he can count his friends on one hand. Chas Chandler (Charles Halford) and the angel Manny (Harold Perrineau) are the only two beings he is on speaking terms with and at least one of them isn’t human.
“Constantine” is based on the best-selling and much-beloved comic book series “Hellblazer.” While there has been much contention amongst die-hard fans that this is a watered-down version of the usually manipulative bastard John Constantine, the TV show still holds up pretty well as its own entity. The original pilot was changed a bit before broadcast to accommodate a change in direction regarding the female lead and I think it still holds up even better as a strong premiere. There are striking horror elements as well as interesting insights into what makes the live-action Constantine tick, plus it did a great job introducing the characters and the premise without getting overburdened by exposition. The second episode looks to be a real corker, so I encourage everyone, including the die-hard fans, to give it a chance.
After a night out gathering Halloween treats you can be assured of coming home to a nice cup of your favorite witch’s brew and a couple of shows that will provide you with a few more scares before you call it a night. The great thing is every Friday night can be Halloween with the back-to-back NBC scare-fest that is “Grimm” and “Constantine.”
Books to Scare You
These hair-raising paperbacks are not for the kiddies
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2014
The days of plastic masks are over for you.
No more Mom’s makeshift monster costumes; no more department-store, mass-produced everybody’s-wearing-its. You dress yourself on Halloween because you know you create a better costume than anybody, a fact you’re proud of.
You might know make-up, but there are scares you just can’t make up. You’ll find them in “Haunted Stuff” by Stacey Graham and “ America ’s Most Haunted” by Theresa Argie and Eric Olsen.
“America ’s Most Haunted” by Theresa Argie and Eric Olsen, c.2014, Berkeley, $16.00 / $18.00 Canada, 341 pages
Those old Halloween decorations you brought home last year are going to scare the Dickens out of the neighborhood kids. You can’t wait to put them up – but maybe you should. In “Haunted Stuff,” you’ll see why you should wait, maybe forever. Cast-off belongings, you see, could be thick with things you can’t see.
It’s fun to find a bargain, for instance, but Graham says that many second-hand items – including clothing, toys, furniture, and collectibles – may’ve had owners that are still quite attached to them. Bring the item home, she says, and you could be inviting a spirit into your house.
That could be charming… or it could be terrorizing.
“Haunted Stuff” by Stacey Graham, c.2014, Llewellyn, $15.99 / $18.50 Canada, 240 pages
Once-loved dolls, for instance, could be imbedded with the spirit of the child who played with them, but that’s not all. She includes stories of demon dolls that caused mayhem (at best) and insanity (or worse). And whatever you do, don’t think badly about those toys because, well, they’ll know.
And if you’re a brave soul and things don’t scare you, let’s see how you do with places. In “ America ’s Most Haunted,” you’ll learn about paranormal homes, hotels, and hotspots that you can actually visit.
In Ohio , you could meet a ghost from the long-ago past who may haunt in tandem with a ghost from the 1990s. In West Virginia , tour a former “lunatic asylum” that might harbor Civil War spirits. In Colorado , take a room-by-tunnel trip in a hotel where the scenery is beautiful and the screamery is boooo-tiful. In California , you can visit a ship that one Hollywood star admitted has an “otherworldly” feel about it.
What’s nice about this book is that it’s so thorough. The authors tell you where you’ll have the best likelihood of spotting or hearing something eerie; whether it can be explained by natural reasons; and phone numbers, addresses, and tips on going there to see for yourself.
Halloween: fun & games, or frights & ghouls? How about both?
I, personally, find the cover of “Haunted Stuff” to be deliciously disturbing. Happily, the inside matches the outside but beware: read it, and you’ll think twice about bargain-hunting, forever.
And if a good old-fashioned ghost story completes your Halloween, then “ America ’s Most Haunted” is your (spooky) book. Just remember, as you’re reading: it’s all chillingly true!
Bear in mind that these hair-raising paperbacks are not for the kiddies; in fact, the cover of one of them is nightmarish. “Haunted Stuff” and “America’s Most Haunted” are great to have, but be sure to keep them out of little hands because sometimes, Halloween isn’t for kids – and neither are these books.
Playing Against Expectations
‘The Good Wife’ continues to get it right
Published: Tuesday, October 28, 2014
“The Good Wife” has always gone against expectations and usually finds a way to twists its unexpected roads through absurd corners, sometimes in surreal ways. From a recurring judge that demands all the legal representatives bookend their statements with “in my opinion” to a manically unfocused lawyer and a highly eccentric AUSA flirting by the merits of each other’s personal grooming products, this show seldom follows a plotline from point A to B directly.
While “The Good Wife” is unmistakably Julianna Marguiles’ vehicle, her dominance is challenged in every scene she shares with co-stars Christine Baranski, Matthew Goode and Matt Czuchry. It isn’t really a fight, however, as all those actors only serve to bring out the best in each other and the underlying truth in each and every scene. Apart from its brilliant ensemble, sharp writing and superb direction, one of the show’s lesser appreciated strengths is in its eclectic mix of recurring and guest star actors.
Very few shows could get away with casting real life Parkinson’s Disease sufferer Michael J. Fox as Louise Canning, a lawyer inflicted with a similar disease. But “The Good Wife” takes that a step further and to the left of expectations by making Canning a conniving bastard who doesn’t hesitate to use his condition to engender sympathy in the court room or use privately revealed information against the person who confessed it. This may be the defining role of Fox’s career, certainly Emmy-worthy, and he’s not even a main character. All of us of a certain age have a certain fondness for Fox, but relish seeing Canning get his comeuppance.
On the opposite side of despicable is Elsbeth Tascioni, played with unbridled vigor by Carrie Preston. Elsbeth always appears to be engaged in several different conversations at once in her head, none of which appear to be with the person talking to her. That strange aloofness doesn’t undermine her razor-sharp skills as a lawyer, however, as she can disarm an opponent or win over a judge well before they’ve realized what’s happened. Her near-erotic obsession with Josh Perotti’s (Kyle MacLachlan) choice of deodorant notwithstanding, Elsbeth is someone you always want on your side.
Canning and Elsbeth being as richly developed and creatively nuanced as they are and being only recurring characters should give you a better idea of how well-crafted the main characters are. The bedrock upon which “The Good Wife” house is built has been and always will be comprised of Marguiles’ Alicia Florrick and Baranski’s Diane Lockhart. These are two of the best actresses on Television right now and they bring more to a single scene than most people give in an entire episode.
Most recently, the pair and their new law firm took over the offices of the firm they jumped ship from. Diane reclaimed her old office and Alicia set up shop in the offices of the recently deceased Will Gardner, her longtime friend and onetime lover. The end of that scene, with not a word spoken, was just sublimely acted by Marguiles and Baranski and spoke volumes of how they each viewed their collective journey back to a place they’d called home.
Now in its sixth season, “The Good Wife” feels as fresh and new as if it had just premiered this year. It has really hit its stride and only promises great things ahead. After last year’s shocking main character death shifted the dynamics somewhat, there is another paradigm shift promised later this year as it has already been announced that Archie Panjabi would be exiting the show. How that will shake things up will remain to be seen, but the storyline leading up to it is sure to be unexpected, if nothing else
Should we be using it as often?
Published: Monday, October 27, 2014
The use of artificial sweeteners is a subject fraught with controversy. On one hand, they can be used freely by diabetic patients, they don’t contribute to tooth decay and they have assisted in many people’s weight loss efforts. On the other, there has been recent research indicating that even though sugar substitutes don’t themselves contribute as many calories to the diet, they might actually stimulate you to eat more for your next meal. More recently, there has been some evidence linking use of artificial sweeteners to a poorer ability to regulate sugar in the blood, but this is still developing. For now, recognize that sugar substitutes are safe overall but try to be mindful that they don’t alter your food intake.
The iPod Turns 13
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Oct. 24
Published: Friday, October 24, 2014
A Suitcase you can Ride?
It’s a suitcase and a scooter. It’s a backpack and a skateboard. It’s luggage without the lugging…it’s the Olaf. Imagine taking everything you need for the entire day… including your transportation! The Olaf is just that and has two models to choose. The “Urban” is a removable backpack, a trolley, a steerable kick scooter and a wooden skateboard. The “Business” design is a three in one (airline approved) carry-on suitcase, trolley and kick-scooter. Would’ve made a great holiday gift but production will not be complete until January 2015. Watch the video to see the Olaf in action.
These Apps are Scary Good!
Long Islander’s just love Halloween! For some, it takes over their entire month. This year Halloween fans can truly have-it-all with these absolutely spook-tacular apps for iPhone and Android. Create greeting cards to send to friends (or enemies), download ghostly wallpapers for your screen or choose a game to play with friends. Grab the list of Halloween themed app’s here.
Email, Gmail Everywhere
How many emails accounts do you have? I have six, no wait… I think it’s seven! Yes, that’s right it’s seven…and yes, I “do” check them all! Well, coming soon from android you’ll be able to check your Yahoo, Outlook and Gmail all within the same app on your android phone. No more switching from application to application, browsing your other email accounts when google makes it easy to see them all in one cozy little interface. So, why is google granting easy access to other email services? It’s just Google doing what it does best… inviting you in with their shiny new object and never letting you leave. How’s that for scary?
The iPod Turns 13!
This week we give a big shout-out to the thirteen year old white knight…the iPod. The music device that started it all has turned thirteen this month. I don’t know about you, but these days most of my mp3 listening sessions happen on my smartphone. Although I will say I continue to use those cute little white earbuds…they still sound great! How many readers still have their original iPod? Let us know in the comments below! See you next week!
Here Come the Car Spiders
Manufacturers admit 8-legged pests can harm components
Arachnids aren’t the only pests plaguing car owners, either. As the weather cools, animals and insects alike are attracted to various components of a car that stay warm for long periods of time, like the engine, certain hoses, and undercarriage. The list of animals you might share with your car includes cats, snakes, birds, crabs, raccoons, geckos, bed bugs, mud chiggers - and spiders. And you don’t always know they’re there, either, as many a motorist who suddenly discovers a bee in the car knows.
Back to the spiders, though - there are several ways to minimize the chances a spider will move into your ride.
*Try not to park under trees. Spiders like high places, and the warmth of your newly-parked car might lead them to think there’s a mother lode of insects under your hood. Down they come and spin a web.
*Close your windows. This may sound like a no-brainer, but there are certain times when spiders disperse via “ballooning” on little web strands that catch the wind and carry the insects for up to many miles, including but not limited to into your car window.
*Try to minimize lights that burn all night near your car. You may find it a toss-up to keep the lights on and potential car thieves at bay, or turn them off and hope the spiders seek other accommodations.
If you do catch a spider in your ride and you’re the kindly sort, use a glass or cup and a piece of cardboard to scoop up Charlotte and dump her in the grass. Finally, there isn’t any such thing as spider repellant for your car. It’s enough to wrap your mind around the fact that they may be riding with you without your knowledge.
Recipe: Halloween Mix
The perfect nibble to whip out for some company
Published: Thursday, October 23, 2014
I have to tell you that I am a sucker for a festive party mix and Halloween is just the time to do it! I made my first one about a year ago and I can already predict it will be a tradition in my house. The kids obviously LOVE it and this nosh is the perfect nibble to whip out for some company. Just know my friends, that it is VERY ADDICTING! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
2/3 cup sunflower butter
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white chocolate chips
9 cups Chex Rice Cereal
1 cup powdered sugar
1 /2 cup M&M’s (only yellow, brown and orange colors)
1 cup packaged white chocolate pretzels crushed
1/2 cup candy corns
1 cup yellow candy melting pieces
1.) Pour cereal into a large mixing bowl.
2.) In another microwave-safe bowl melt sunflower butter, butter and white chocolate chips for 2 minutes stirring every 30 seconds to prevent burning.
3.) Add vanilla and mix with cereal until thoroughly coated.
4.) Place all into a large re-sealable bag coat with the powdered sugar. Lay all on a large cookie sheet covered with sprayed waxed or parchment paper.
5.) In a separate bowl melt yellow candy pieces until smooth: same as directions in step 2. (If needed use a teaspoon of vegetable oil)
6.) Sprinkle M&M’s, candy corns and pretzels into mix and drizzle the yellow candy on top. Transfer sheet to refrigerator or freezer to let set.
7.) Break apart as needed and evenly distribute into Halloween treat bags and ENJOY!
Character Evolution at its Best
'Person of Interest' continues to surprise viewers
We’ve all known for some time now that Orwell’s fabled Big Brother is among us and that most everything we do is observed in some fashion. Since its premiere in 2011 “Person of Interest” has used that as its central premise and shown us how a machine that scrutinizes that surveillance could interpolate that data to help a group of heroes save the common man. Last season a similar, yet more advanced, machine was brought online with much more utilitarian intentions and we’ve begun to see how that same data can be used in a much more malicious manner.
Much like the never-seen Machine at the core of the plot, the show itself has evolved over the last few years. Initially, “Person of Interest” was about the Machine supplying a social security number to our unlikely team of heroes (an ex black ops officer, an isolated computer nerd, a dedicated cop and a dirty detective) and they would race to save that person from a horrible fate or from inflicting violence on others. The core of the group has remained Harold Finch (Michael Emmerson), the Machine’s creator, and John Reese (Jim Caviezel), with new faces added along the way and one cut down too soon. And, as the world in which they inhabit has opened and expanded, their original mandate has become much more complicated to adhere to.
What has been most interesting to watch over the last three seasons is how the characters have developed and grown. The dirty detective, Fusco (Kevin Chapman), was originally just a pawn who was blackmailed into helping our scofflaw dynamic duo. He is now a valued member of the team and a trusted ally. Similarly, former assassin Shaw (Sarah Shahi) originally worked at cross-purposes to what Finch and Reese were trying to accomplish before joining their crusade. Lacking empathy, she has slowly been learning to be human again.
Then there is Root (Amy Acker), a former contract killer who is the human interface with the Machine, thanks to an ear implant. She was clearly a murderous psychopath early on, but, like Shaw, has been learning to regain her humanity and is a friend to the rest of the team. Everyone in the group is now what would be considered a “good guy,” but for some the change hasn’t been instant. They have all had to learn to be better people through both interactions with the Machine and with each other.
Now that Samaritan, the second, more malevolent machine has gone online, Finch, Reese, Shaw and Root have been painted as threats and are forced to take on false identities in order to hide in plain sight and continue their mission. Fusco has always been kept in the dark about the Machine and thus has been spared being targeted. Those in the shadows can’t take any actions that would alert Samaritan to their real identities. With each new number, the team is not only trying to help the helpless, but also survive themselves.
“Person of Interest” is consistently superbly written and acted and has been constantly shaking up the central premise in intriguing and refreshing ways. Now in its fourth year it almost feels like a brand new show, but in a way that has been a natural progression of the ongoing story. It will be a long while before this show feels stale and loses any of its edge. I see no reason for it not to be around for several more seasons. Hopefully the characters can stay alive to see a well-deserved happy ending.
Sticking with ‘Castle’
Time to re-evaluate whether or not ‘Castle’ warrants continued viewing
Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
A few weeks back I wrote about my massive disappointment with the last season finale of “Castle” and how the new season premiere still left the show on tenuous ground with me. It’s been a few weeks since its return, so it’s time to re-evaluate whether or not “Castle” warrants continued viewing.
The good news is that the most recent episode feels very much like the “Castle” of old. There was quite a bit of humor thanks to the antics of Mr. Nathan Fillion and also from the dynamic duo of Jon Huertas and Seamus Dever. Whereas Fillion’s Rick Castle gets to live up to his true juvenile potential while searching for a witness amongst a classroom of second graders, Esposito and Ryan are at their brothers from other mothers best. We also get the central relationship between Castle and Beckett (Stan Katic) back on track.
The downside is that we are still dealing with the ongoing mystery of where Castle was and what he was doing during his missing three months. Apart from him discovering that he himself is responsible for his memory loss there has been no further traction on resolving this clunker of a plotline. And I’m pretty sure there will be no further developments until the mid-season finale. Even then I fear it will be another dangling carrot and not a true resolution.
As annoying as that mystery is, it did make for some touching characters moments between Castle and his daughter, Alexis (Molly Quinn). It’s easy to forget what a terrific actress Quinn is until she gets a meaty scene with Fillion. This episode’s denouement is particularly fantastic and further strengthens the great father-daughter relationship that the show has handled so well since the beginning. The criminally underutilized Susan Sullivan gets a couple of choice scenes this week as well.
Through all of this, Castle and Beckett at least know they still want to marry each other, but agree that they need a little time to readjust to each other. They’ve decided on a timeframe of one month. However, as time proceeds at a different rate within the show than it does in the real world, it is unclear if they mean sometime in November or an arbitrary “month from now” that occurs at a more advantageous time ratings-wise. I hope that the production team is aware that they can’t attempt another bait-and-switch, didn’t-quite-happen wedding a second time and get away with it.
Yes, I’m still invested in this show and the characters. It’s because I care that I am so critical. I do think it’s time to look at an end-game, preferably a happily ever after one, and think about going out on a high note but calling it quits at the end of the current season. Although, while “Castle” may not be the ratings juggernaut it once was, it hasn’t shed enough viewers to make ABC even entertain the idea of pulling the plug. It’s probably safe to say it will be sticking around for a while longer. Hopefully there will be a creative renaissance among the writing staff to make the extended journey worthwhile.
Casual Chic Trends at HIFF
Filmmakers, staff, journalists and actors kept it classy by going more modest
On a tempestuous Saturday in the Hamptons several layers of the film industry gathered for the Hamptons International Film Festival. Several factions including filmmakers, staff, journalists or actors made up this celebration of the on screen art. You would think such an occasion in an upscale setting would arouse buttoned down and flashy attire. Especially with actors like Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo attending their screenings. However, whether you were in front of the screen or on the screen, the trend was something a bit more casual chic or believe it or not, humble. It was refreshing to see individuals who kept it classy by going more modest, especially with all these cameras around.
My experience began in East Hampton at the films headquarters, the Maidstone. The scene at this art covered and cozy inn was relaxed and created the perfect setting for socializing with well-dressed film professionals. Networking and local vino were on everyone’s to do list. Present and sporting comfy yet fresh styles were press and on screen talents with their producers.
Filmmaker, Emily Lobsenz was promoting one of two movies she wrote and produced in 2014, titled “Sandorkraut”. Emily stood out immediately with her original style and I was intent to find out where it originated. I wasn’t surprised when she told me it was purchased in Barcelona, Spain and it was vintage. One of the many things I appreciate about shopping in Europe are the one of a kinds you stumble upon while window shopping. Who needs souvenirs when you bring back retro silk jump suits and irreplaceable hand tailored pea coats. It is probably the reason why I travel with a suitcase that is not full.
Actor Avi Nash and producer Jeffrey Abramson of “Learning to Drive” were comfortable yet sharp dressed in zipper trimmed black leather by street wear brand Obey and Calvin Klein. Smart option on a stormy and cool day.
Julie Silcox caught my attention with her fun use of jewel tones. Hanging from her shoulder is what prompted me to snap her photo. The outfit went from casual to posh with the addition of a leather handbag from boutique designer Meg Erickson of Boston. What I love most about this accessory is that it’s all stitching and not trim, simplicity made the style.
It was time for a change from the Maidstone to Guild Hall. Socializing turned to hush. I sat for the only film that was a musical in the festival, recommended by a good friend. It was titled “The Last Five Years” starring Anna Kendrick’s and Jeremy Jordon and as expected the two actors had you glued to the screen in this story of the evolution and fall of love set in two big cities. The film is scheduled for release next spring. Unfortunately the two young talents did not make an appearance for the Q&A after. The movie to follow was an upcoming bio drama, “Foxcatcher” staring Marc Ruffalo so I claimed my space on the press line after the movie to grab a few shots and yet another example of casual cool. This handsome actor was sporting a relaxed and gracious attitude as he stopped for everyone who requested an interview, probably making him the most loved star of the evening. Marc thought ahead and added the knits after dark as the temperature dropped.
It was refreshing when talent relies on the whole package to make an impression. So often we see a lot of face painting and glitz and that’s all you see. The Hamptons International Film Festival will be a great memory of the celebration of cinema and the people who attend. It will only make me look forward to the next.
Book Review: ‘Leaving Time’
Clear your calendar
A good mother loves her child unconditionally.
She cares for her little one, making sure the baby is dry, safe, and comforted. She feeds her child and tends to him, no matter what time of day or night.
You can add to this list at will, because we all know what a good mother does. But, as in the new book “Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult, a good mother does not abandon her child.
Thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf had a routine that she kept every morning: she got dressed and logged on to the Department of Justice website to see if her mother had been found yet.
A decade before, after one of the caretakers at their elephant sanctuary was trampled by accident, Jenna’s mother, Alice, was found nearby, unconscious, and was taken to the hospital. When she regained her wits, Alice bolted from the building and disappeared.
It haunted Jenna ever since.
What kind of mother abandons her little daughter? Was Alice hurt or killed? That was something Jenna absolutely needed to know – and so, old enough to have saved money from babysitting and birthday gifts, she hired a psychic and a detective.
Once upon a time, Virgil Stanhope was proud of his career.
He’d been one of the lead detectives on the death of the elephant caretaker and the disappearance of Alice Metcalf – but he was having second thoughts. He knew back then that he’d done a hack job. Why hadn’t he dug further into this case?
It had been a long time since The Dead had spoken to Serenity Jones, and she missed it. Ever since a brash, egotistical mistake ruined her TV career, she couldn’t get a human to talk to her, much less a spirit. So when Jenna showed up on Serenity’s doorstep, asking for help, and messages began whispering in Serenity’s head, what could the seer do but listen?
For most of her life, Alice Metcalf was devoted to the study of elephants. They were fascinating to her, and the ultimate reason her life had turned out as it had. She saw so many parallels between pachyderms and humans: love, joy, grief.
Got a calendar?
Clear it. Cancel your plans. Once you’ve got “Leaving Time” in your hands, you won’t want to do anything but spend time with this book.
Through the voices of four main characters, author Jodi Picoult gives readers the kind of novel they’ve come to expect, but with a twist: there’s some mystery in this book. We aren’t sure what happened to Alice , if she’s a killer, a victim, or something else. That keeps-you-guessing factor appears in every Picoult novel, but in this book, it’ll make you page back to see how you didn’t catch the clues and to marvel at where you went in the meantime.
And I’m going to stop there. I can’t bear to ruin your enjoyment of unwrapping the layers in this excellent book. Just know that if you’ve got “Leaving Time,” you’ll only want everyone to leave you alone to read.
Isles on Point with “Tradition on Ice” Sales
Coliseum team store packed with commemorative memorabilia
Published: Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Over the summer, the New York Islanders released a special “Tradition on Ice” logo to commemorate the final season of play at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Aside from some marketing campaigns that work well with the “Tradition on Ice” slogan, I wasn’t sure how the team would capitalize on the logo. I took a trip to the team store at the Coliseum the day prior to Opening Night and was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of assortment available.
You can find everything from photos and pucks to pennants and apparel. There really isn’t much you’d hope for after a visit to the store. The sales staff did a solid job in creating sellable items with the new commemorative logo.
For many, this final season at the Coliseum seems like a hockey funeral. Some are completely against the logo and commemorating such a horrible point in franchise history. But a logo is a logo and it honors the history and tradition of the Coliseum. You can’t argue that.
Among the top items available for sale at the team store (while supplies last, of course):
*Canvas print, in white or blue, featuring the Coliseum “Tradition on Ice” logo
*Lineage banners, showing all of the franchise anniversary logos
*Apparel, including special hats, sweatshirts and tee shirts, some from ’47 Brand
*Ticket stub holders to collect as many tickets from the final season as you can
*Mini copies of retired jerseys and championship banners
If you’re looking to just purchase the patch that the players are wearing on their jerseys, you’re not going to be happy. According to members of the store sales staff, you can only get the patch on a jersey, not by itself.
Bad Deals With Rumpelstiltskin
'Once Upon A Time' invests in its characters this season
When last May’s season finale of “Once Upon A Time” ended with the promise of bringing the characters of the hit film “Frozen” to Storybrooke there was the fear that it was too soon. All of the fairy tale characters depicted so far had been around for decades while Disney’s version of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” was barely half a year old at that time. Even the least cynical of viewers had to be wondering if it was just an attempt to cash in on “Frozen”’s crazy success to try to boost the TV series’ ratings. We are now four episodes into the new season’s storyline and anyone who has a lingering negative doubt should take a cue from the feature film’s most popular song and let it go.
Last season was a difficult one for “Once Upon A Time” as third seasons seem to be problematic for all shows. The Peter Pan storyline that ran through the first eleven episodes seemed to not quite come together and got bogged down in its determination to stay the course no matter what, even as viewers abandoned ship. The show was able to recover in the back half of the season with a lovely twist on its original premise and the inclusion of Elsa at the end all but guaranteed a strong premiere this fall. The big surprise is that not only has it worked, but it has provided a creative jolt
The big twist is that Elsa (Georgina Haig) is not the antagonist of the season, but rather her Aunt, the Snow Queen (Elizabeth Mitchell). Not-so-dear auntie has been hiding in plain sight as the owner of an ice cream shop and uses Elsa’s arrival in Storybrooke to frame her niece and wreak a little havoc. Of course, Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) figure out the charade and before long Charming (Josh Dallas) and Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) are helping the younger Queen of Arendelle in her search for her sister, Anna (Elizabeth Lail).
In the meantime, former Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parrilla) has embroiled her adopted son, Henry (Jared S. Gilmore) in a quest to discover the author of Henry’s book of fairy tales. Regina wants to enlist the original author in rewriting sections of the book to give her a happy ending. However, she is sidetracked with finding a way to unfreeze Marion (Christie Lang), the recently returned wife of the man who has both their hearts, Robin Hood (Sean Maguire). To say that there are no straightforward relationships in Storybrooke would be a monumental understatement.
One of the main themes of this season so far is the conflict of not so nice characters attempting to fight their nature with varying degrees of success and sincerity. Regina could have quite easily returned to her nefarious ways with the return of Marion, but Henry, and to a lesser degree, Emma, showed her that there is a better way and she continues to try to walk the righteous path. Mr.
Gold (Robert Carlyle) got a second chance with the love of his life, Belle (Emilie de Ravin), and renounced his previously malicious ways, but in words only. Hook has foregone his piratical past to be with Emma, but a series of unwise deals with Gold (aka Rumpelstiltskin) has shown him that the past is not so easy to escape from.
Seeing the anti-heroes strive to be better people, either truly or by massive misdirection, makes for a very compelling show. “Once Upon A Time” investing heavily in its characters and their motivations is the show’s biggest strength and when it resists dampening that with a dull plot it fires on all cylinders. Right now, the folks making the show have found the right balance of chemistry, character wizardry and dynamically creative story. Here’s hoping they keep the ship (and ‘ships) on a true and steady course.
The Other ‘Supergreens’
Despite the hype, kale is not the only 'supergreen'
Published: Monday, October 20, 2014
We’ve all heard that the darker the green, the healthier it is (primarily because of an increased density of phytochemicals and vitamins), but despite the hype, kale is not the only ‘supergreen’ that falls into this delicious dark green category. Spinach, swiss chard and watercress contain as many vitamins and minerals as kale, with even a slightly lower carbohydrate and calorie count. Spinach contains the highest amounts of folate and iron (which contribute to red blood cell production) of all leafy greens. Swiss chard contains 400% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K and watercress contains as much calcium by weight as milk. Most dark leafy greens are healthy, so don’t limit yourself to a single type. All you have to do is start exploring!
Subaru Hops onto Hybrid Bandwagon
Angular, capable family crossover’s gas/electric flavor scores high marks
Published: Friday, October 17, 2014
The XV Crosstrek Hybrid is the perfect ride for people who don’t want to feel as though they’re compromising style, feel and flavor in favor of a more compassionate carbon footprint. It doesn’t exactly fit the mold of the label “crossover” – it’s more a wagon with a beefed-up rear – but it’s the Subaru that’ll satisfy anyone needing a family taxi without excessive bulk, and it’s also fun to drive, unlike some blow-dryer Hybrids. It’s all-wheel drive, first, thus handling in advance most snowstorms. It stands about 3 inches taller than Subaru’s Impreza, with 8.7 inches ground clearance, meaning you can also drive it across the beach or over dirt or off-road. The tall stance and black plastic wheel well flares will also help prevent gravel, rocks and road debris from bashing the car’s body. The interior is fairly standard Subaru – materials are reasonably high-quality and there wasn’t anything annoying in basic operation. Some reports have criticized the nav system, but I had no issue with it other than the same issue I have with all auto nav systems as compared to my iPhone – when you type into a car nav system, it’s like like asking a 110-year old to run a mile in under 3 minutes - it ain’t gonna happen quick.
You’re purely electric at slow speed and it’s a satisfying feeling to look at your gauge and see you’re getting 30 miles per gallon. Don’t crow yet, though – the Crosstek Hybrid gets only about 3 miles per gallon more than the non-hybrid. Why buy the hybrid, then? The short answer is that
Hybrids are hot, and Subaru doesn’t want a customer to start looking Toyota-ward if they can help it. It takes corners well, its seats are comfortable, there is more than enough room for a load of what-have-you, and my Grasshopper Green model was more than easy to spot in parking lots with its 17-inch wheels, chrome door handles, grille shutters and foldable side mirror.
Go for the upscale Hybrid Touring and you get leather upholstery, a sunroof, nav system with voice controls, smartphone integration, HD radio and satellite radio. You’re powered by a four-cylinder, 148 horsepower engine making 145 pound-feet of torque. Your electric motor contributes 13 more horses and 48 more pound-feet of torque. Its safety rating from the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an across-the-board “Good.” If you like Subarus to begin with, this is a car you should investigate. If you’re on the fence, it’s still worth a drive.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Oct. 17
The Eyes Have It!
In addition to releasing updates to their popular iPad this week, Apple announces their new iMac desktop with Retina display. So what the heck is Retina Display? It’s the highest resolution screen that Apple has positioned on a desktop yet. Details are still seeping out, but early reports say the new iMac is the thinnest and fastest yet! Stay up to date with all the details here.
All grown up!
I’m all about the backpack, but I’m also not in college any longer so I need something a little more grown up…enter the Hex Onyx Origin. Stylish and functional it can store your laptop, appointment book, smartphone, tablet or whatever you may need at the office or job interview. Black Leather trim gives it a more adult appearance and the extra padding provided will protect fragile items (like the aforementioned Laptop). This the perfect daily companion for the professional who is always on the move.
Wearable, moveable, rechargeable and all around excitable…Rocket Skates are here! Rocket Skates easily strap over your favorite walking shoes and can travel 8 to 10 miles on a single charge! Part Roller Blade and part Segway, Rocket Skates have no hand held controls and a companion app that tracks your progress and helps you connect with fellow Rocket Skaters. Rocket Skates…easy to master, great for the environment and so much fun! Check out the video here!
Who Needs a Wallet?
Remember that story your mom used to tell, “Someday Johnny, you won’t need paper money to pay for anything!” Well, mom is closer to correct than she’s ever been. Apple just took a giant leap forward with their Apple Pay system. And on October 20th we’ll see if Apple CEO Tim Cook can deliver on his promise to have some of the largest retailers in America utilize Apple’s pay by phone application. See the list of retailers that are on participating here.
The Great Garden City Pumpkin Patch
Head to UUCCN for pumpkins and baked goods throughout the month of October
Published: Thursday, October 16, 2014
Linus: Each year, the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere. He’s gotta pick this one. He’s got to. I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one. You can look around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see…
Let the Pumpkin Scarecrow lead the way when heading to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau (UUCCN) at the corner of Nassau Boulevard and Stewart Avenue. Throughout the month of October, the grounds will be covered with pumpkins from the Navajo reservation in New Mexico, which tend to last longer than those grown in the eastern United States. The sale is open daily from 11am to 7pm through Halloween on October 31st.
Close to 6,000 pumpkins in various shapes and sizes were delivered, as well as some variety pumpkins, gourds and decorative corn. Bring friends and family and enjoy some of the congregation’s homemade baked goods available for purchase—including homemade apple pies available on Sundays baked fresh from the oven! Admission is FREE and you are welcome to take pictures and wander through the patch in search of your Great Pumpkin…
Happy Halloween! For more info head to: https://www.facebook.com/UUCCN/timeline?ref=page_internal
Book Review: ‘The Language of Houses’
Houses speak of gender, status, and age of their occupants.
Published: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
“The Language of Houses: How Buildings Speak to Us” by Alison Lurie, c.2014, Delphinium Books, $24.95, 311 pages.
The building must be nearly done.
Every day for months, you’ve seen it on your way to work. You’ve watched it go from a hole in the ground, to a steel skeleton, to a behemoth structure that you’re glad you’ll never have to enter. The whole place seems unwelcoming.
But why? Why get the heebie-jeebies over a building? In the new book “The Language of Houses” by Alison Lurie, you’ll see how that place and your home both have a lot to say.
Ask any preschooler to draw a house and, if she’s happy and secure, you’ll probably get “Happy House” with peaked roof, a door in the lower middle and symmetrical windows, surrounded by trees and a smiling sun. Yes, even at that age, we tend to instinctively link a simple home with good feelings.
We also instinctively know what a building is for, just by looking at it. There’s no mistaking a hospital, for instance, with a night club. A public building constructed of wood “is slightly suspect unless it’s a church.” Huge stone columns generally indicate that we’re entering somewhere formal (real or imagined), just as a porch swing and flowers (even artificial ones) say “welcome.”
A building’s color says a lot, too: like business clothes, public buildings are usually neutrally-toned. Colors can indicate an intended décor or the kind of merchandise you’ll find in a store. Even lack of color speaks volumes about the people inside.
As for that interior, we expect it to match the exterior. In our minds, therefore, Victorian charmers shouldn’t contain post-modern furniture. Ranch homes, once the most popular builds, should be cozy and relaxed. It feels wrong to find otherwise.
On that note, consider this: many newly-built houses contain rooms that are rarely, if ever, used. Or this: when you were a kid, you were likely familiar with your friends’ bedrooms. That’s probably not the case now.
Houses speak of gender, status, and age of their occupants. They can speak with local dialect or foreign accents. And despite that they’re inanimate objects, we fondly remember some and mourn others – and that’s natural.
“After all,” says Lurie, “we are a territorial species.”
When you think about it, what’s in “The Language of Houses” is quite commonsensical. And maybe that’s the point: author Alison Lurie makes you think about your home, your workplace, and what the outside world knows from them.
Indeed, after reading this book, it’s really very difficult not to look at buildings in a different way – and that includes churches, prisons, hospitals, and schools, all of which Lurie touches upon here. You’ll also learn about the things inside our buildings, why we place furniture as we do, what specific rooms say about who we think we are, and a basic history of housing and fads.
If you enjoy decorating, this book will build on your knowledge. Architecture fans will demolish it, as will historians. Readers in the mood for something different will also love “The Language of Houses.” Don’t you have room for it, too?
‘The Walking Dead’ Live Again
Will this season shamble through the mistakes of the past?
Published: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
I’ll give “The Walking Dead” this much, each season it sure knows how to make an entrance. The latest premiere for season five was the most watched single episode in the history of cable television. That is a pretty impressive feat that certainly justifies the early renewal for season six that the show received last week. Unfortunately, I think this may send the wrong signal to the producers, namely that they are doing something right.
Basically, I think the show has been falling apart ever since the end of its spectacular first season. The show began with six superb episodes, but then they had two huge misfires. Showrunner, and exemplary filmmaker, Frank Darabont was fired and the episode count was increased. Darabont’s vision for the show, at least the taster we got in the first season, made for a compelling show and there didn’t seem to be a wasted hour. It may have differed from the tone of the comic book source material somewhat, but it was far preferable to the meandering mess we now have.
Again, each season starts of strong and cranks up the drama, suspense and intrigue. But then that sharply declines and by the third episode we wind up with a bunch of people lamenting their situation while dealing with some sort of banal crisis over the next half dozen installments. Usually something huge and game-changing happens for the mid-season break, wherein one or several main characters die horribly and tragically. Then we rinse and repeat the formula until the final moments of the season where, finally, something else happens.
There is no dramatic balance, it’s either stress times eleven or a yawn-fest and I feel sixteen episodes a year is the main problem. Half that number would maintain the tension throughout the season and make for much better pacing. It seems, based on the panicked posts rampant on social media that the massive audience that the show pulls is only really tuned in to see if a main character gets snuffed. Not much about the actual storylines, what there is of them, is ever discussed. Actually, there is one other point that gets discussed and is yet another problem for the show.
Apparently, in the zombie apocalypse the only morally righteous people left on the planet are our main characters. It seems the rest of the world consists of a series of “Saw” sequels in that any other group of survivors is an ever-increasing bunch of amoral monsters. With the camp encountered in the season five premiere the show has just flat out given up even trying to argue any sort of ambiguity and gone straight for the ultimate in depravity.
If there was even a small hint that Rick Grimes and company had learned from their last three or four encounters, there might be a glimmer of hope, but, no, the characters remain as clueless as ever. I suppose there is something to be said about the group of good guys finally being reunited by the end of the episode, thus rectify the grievous error of the second half of last season.
A bonus scene after the closing credits hints at something possibly very cool. However, and I know I’m in the miniscule minority here, I fear that we’ll be back to meandering and meaningless until a shock-filled midseason finale in November.
What treatment can do for you
Published: Monday, October 13, 2014
Depression is a concept that almost everyone is familiar with, but many often fail to recognize its signs in friends, family and themselves. When physicians say ‘clinical depression,’ we are referring to a grouping of symptoms including unusual feelings of sadness or decreased ability or desire to carry out activities an individual would typically enjoy. This type of depression (which is distinguished from typical sadness by severity and duration) is actually quite common: up to 17 percent of Americans experience at least one episode throughout their lives. What is most important is that once diagnosed, clinical depression is very treatable when action is finally taken. The hardest part might be seeking help but once it is sought, treatment might very well be life changing.
Sideswiped by a Robot
Will future robot cars choose to smack your sports utility vehicle?
Published: Friday, October 10, 2014
Many people buy an S.U.V. in the hopes that they’ll fare better in the event of a crash. But cars of the future, equipped with software automatically programmed to hit something more able to take the brunt of a crash than the smaller object next to it, behind it or in front of it, may bash into an S.U.V. minding its own business rather than the compact car that’s weaving in and out of lanes if a crash cannot be avoided. The concept is not far removed from military weapons capable of making “smart” strikes, which inevitably though not intentionally hit schools, hospitals or civilians by mistake. The smart crash concept in theory prevents injuries and fatalities, but is it fair that someone who buys an S.U.V. does so knowing that their ride is first target of choice when other drivers lose control of their vehicles through mechanical failures and/or driver inattention or ineptitude?
Noah J. Goodall, Ph.D., P.E. research scientist at the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research, is an expert on the ins and outs of robot cars. “When you add automation into the mix of driving and a crash happens where your vehicle ‘chose’ to hit one thing and not another,” he said in a telephone interview for Long Island Pulse, “You have to defend why you did that. Part of my job is to articulate what the long term effects of this software might be, anticipate problems and hopefully solve those problems.”
Another big subject is whether or not the software can determine the difference between a human being and, say, an animal when choosing what to run into. “The software’s not completely accurate,” Goodall says. “Sensors are getting close to be able to tell the difference between a deer and a person, but we’re not there yet.” The sensors are also unable to tell if a human being is in their teens or someone in their 90s. That’s a slippery ethical slope because we like to think of all life as sacrosanct, but in truth, a younger person is more valuable to society at large – or at least to marketers, corporations and advertisers – than someone who has lived most of their life.
The software will, however, be able to tell the difference between a motorcyclist wearing a helmet and one without. The sensible thing for a robot to do would be to hit the guy wearing a helmet as he has a better chance of survival, but what’s happening is the guy wearing the helmet is actually increasing his odds of injury or death because of the very means he’s using to protect himself.
It’s an exciting time, Goodall says, but he also concedes we’ll never get fender-benders down to zero, software notwithstanding. “As long as you want to go above, say, 30 miles per hour,” he says, “The crashes will occur.”
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Oct. 10
So many new gadgets, so little money! From head rests to staplers, Inventors are having the time of their lives reinventing the things we use every day.
Hey, that’s my Stapler
Who knew this item could get any better… but Japanese firm Nikkei Technology have designed a stapler that will “crimp” up to five pages together in a tight seal that come apart by simply by using a pen cap, or similar object, to rub the pages apart… Genius! Read more here!
Headphones not working out for you? Maybe you need an Amp! Using the same technology that powers hearing aids, Tech Company SoundFocus have developed a case that wraps comfortably around your iPhone with two dynamic speakers that improve the audio performance of your phone. The device first, takes a quick hearing test of each user then outputs the audio for music, calls or video to your specific listening profile. The unit will not hit stores until 2015, but you can sample the features now by downloading the app… just click here.
It’s Nap Time
I’m not sure if I recommend this item, but for those who can literally nap anywhere, grab a “NapAnywhere!” This clever device molds and shapes to your head and neck, lays comfortable on your shoulder and helps you drift off to dreamland. You’ll wake up refreshed without that pesky crick in your neck. Take a snooze at your desk, in a chair, on a plane, or in the car (just not while driving please). Okay, so it looks a little funky… who cares! You’ll be so relaxed it won’t matter what people say… you got this!
App of the Week
Planning a trip to L.A.? Want to see some stars? Well this app has got you covered! The “Hollywood Walk of Fame” app allows you to pre-plan your trip and helps you map your walk down memory lane. Plus you can watch videos, see photos, take a quiz and read bios on all your favorite stars! The app is free. As for the plane tickets…you’re on your own.
‘Big Shot’ Nets Sports Emmy
Isles fan, director Kevin Connolly takes home hardware
Published: Thursday, October 09, 2014
Image: Instagram account of Doug Ellin
If you haven’t seen the Islanders documentary “Big Shot,” an ESPN 30-for-30 film, you should.
Directed, written, narrated and produced by Long Island native and Islanders fan Kevin Connolly, the film was recently honored with an Emmy Award for “Outstanding Sports Documentary Series.”
The film breaks down the misguided and criminally stirred ownership stint by John Spano. It’ll make you laugh at just how bizarre the time period was in franchise history. It’s eye-opening, interesting and engaging for hockey fans.
‘Arrow’ Returns With a Flash
CW’s super-hero twofer bring strong premieres
This week the CW delivers a one-two punch of super-heroics as we get the debut of “The Flash” and the third season premiere of “Arrow.”
Late last year Forensics Investigator Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) appeared in two episodes of “Arrow.” At the end of the second episode Allen returned to Central City where he got caught up in an accident with an experimental particle accelerator. The pilot episode of the new series “The Flash” recaps that accident and then dives right into what happens next. Allen wakes up in the home of the accelerator, fabled S.T.A.R. Labs, nine months later, inexplicably with muscles and being watched over by Dr. Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes).
The two scientists explain that they, along with the man behind S.T.A.R. Labs, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh), have been monitoring Allen for any unusual side-effects of the accident. It seems that the young Mr. Allen has gained super-speed, but he is not alone. The accident also gifted many others with unknown meta-human abilities and the pariahed lab has decided to find them all and help them. One of these new meta-humans, Clyde Mardon (Chad Rook) can control the weather and is using his newfound ability for nefarious purposes, namely robbing banks.
Returning to work at the C.C.P.D., Allen ends up tracking down Mardon with the help of Detective Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), who witnesses Allen using his super-speed. Allen also vows to use his new power to find out who really killed his mother many years ago, a crime that his father (John Wesley Shipp, who played The Flash in the 1990s TV series) has been serving a jail sentence for. However, both Allens witnessed unexplained red and yellow blurs whisking around Barry’s mom before she was killed. Allen now realizes that there must be another super-speedster who was responsible. Oh, and The Flash gets some solid heroing advice from none other than The Arrow (Stephen Amell) who drops in from his season premiere. And the surprise little tag at the very end raises a whole lot of questions.
Over on “Arrow” the show starts off with a tone we’ve rarely seen, with everyone basically happy. Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) has joined Team Arrow, Diggle (David Ramsey) is about to be a dad and Oliver (Amell) has decided to ask Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) out on an actual real date. Even the Lances seem to be in a good place with Laurel (Katie Cassidy) happily prosecuting the criminals that The Arrow brings in and Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) having redeemed himself and been promoted to police Captain. Of course, complications arise and several things go askew, otherwise this would become a boring show real fast.
Oliver’s attempt to reclaim his family’s company is derailed by savvy Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), the felonious Werner Zytle (Peter Stromare) is dealing a new version of the deadly drug Vertigo and Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) has returned to town following her rejoining the League of Assassins. At least one of those things results in a pretty shocking event in the final moments of the episode. Oliver also gets a phone call from Barry Allen, newly revived from his coma and seeking advice (see “The Flash” recap above). Last but not least, we get a flashback to five years previously with Oliver’s adventure off the island he was stranded on. Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) has brought him to Hong Kong for unknown reasons, but you can bet it isn’t anything good.
Both shows are amazing in their premieres, together acting as a template for how comic book shows should be done. It doesn’t hurt that they are borrowing from Marvel Comics’ cinematic rulebook and closely linking both shows. Even though they are different in tome, “The Flash” being the bright side to the dark broodiness of “Arrow,” they really complement each other well. Both shows promise to share characters and storylines in the future and that’s a really good thing. Now is the perfect time to jump on board the DC Comics TV bandwagon. It’ll be a super fun ride!
LI Connection to New Baseball Documentary
Rob Nelson, co-founder of Big League Chew, played ball in Portland
Published: Wednesday, October 08, 2014
Another intricate sports story and another connection to Long Island. Did you know the founder of Big League Chew grew up on Long Island?
Rob Nelson, a pitcher at Nassau County Community College and at Cornell University, partnered with former teammate and baseball notable Jim Bouton to launch the product in the 1970s.
Nelson played with Bouton on the Portland Mavericks in 1977, an independent team founded by Bing Russell, the late actor and father of Kurt Russell, and grandfather of former big leaguer Matt Franco.
Nelson’s name came across the sports radar again this year after the younger Russell released a documentary on Netflix about the Portland squad called “The Battered Bastards of Baseball.” He was a vocal piece of the documentary.
The film captures Bing’s legacy and love of the game, which brought back baseball to the Portland area after a Triple A club there had been disbanded. At one point there were no independent teams in the nation, but Bing changed that and is the reason independent teams can co-exist with affiliated ball clubs. He’s even the reason the Long Island Ducks are able to play today if you think about. But onto the gum …
According to a story on the Cornell Athletic website, Nelson and Bouton watched teammates spit chewing tobacco on each other’s cleats. Nelson, as a kid on Long Island, had an idea for shredded bubble gum.
“I told him, ‘I always thought it would be cool to have shredded gum so we could look as good as these guys, but not get ill,’ explains Nelson in an interview with Cornell. “And I remember Bouton’s eyes got really big and he said ‘Jeez, I really like that idea.’ I like to say that I had the inspiration, but truth is, Jim was the perspiration because he was really the guy that did the bulk of the work. He said, ‘I can sell that idea. I can go to a company and I can find somebody that would manufacture this gum.’ And on a handshake, we became partners.”
Famous gum. Famous ball player. Legendary actor’s baseball documentary. And yes, a Long Island connection.
Show Biz Kids
60s and 70s survivors outshine current chart-toppers at two Long Island shows
Steely Dan rolled into the Paramount in Huntington on September 13th as part of the group’s Jamalot Ever After tour. For several years now the group has been avoiding the summer concert season and touring in the fall. Recent years have seen the group do multi-night runs at the Beacon Theatre, often playing entire albums from its 70s golden era in one night.
At the Paramount, with 14 musicians on stage, the group played a familiar selection of songs, including a healthy serving of its defining Aja album. Particular favorites included “Hey Nineteen,” “Show Biz Kids,” “Bodhisattva,” and the night’s grand finale, “Kid Charlemagne.” The lone cover was the Joe Tex chestnut “I Want to (Do Everything for You).”
While early r&b and particularly soul music had an obvious major influence on the group’s biggest hits, there is a structure in the way that Donald Fagen and Walter Becker approach the composing and arranging of their music that is similar to that of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Of course, Strayhorn wasn’t really a performer and wasn’t part of Ellington’s orchestra, but the Ellington/Strayhorn model does seem to be the base structure from which their music springs.
The two-hour show featured impeccable musicianship, and slight variations from the original studio tracks freshened up the music for the stage. With the high level of musicianship and featuring songs as good as any in rock history, Steely Dan’s music, more than 30 years after the group’s heyday, still out-shines nearly anything on the charts today. Steely Dan was not just an album band; it scored many hit singles as well. There isn’t one song on the charts today that could rival the Dan’s mightiest hits.
For all their focus on the music, both Fagan and particularly Becker had fun telling stories, including their heartfelt fondness for their Long Island connections, in a dry, deadpan manner that was hilarious and often had the crowd convulsive with laughter.
The British Invade Again
The following night at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury was the 2014 British Invasion Tour, featuring Mike Pender’s Searchers, Chad & Jeremy, Billy J. Kramer and Denny Laine. Terry Sylvester, formerly of the Hollies, opened the show, replacing headliner Gerry & the Pacemakers, due to Gerry Marsden’s being hospitalized in Spain. Pender’s jangly Rickenbacker 12-string and his still-strong voice brought alive such Searchers British Invasion gold as “Needles and Pins,” “Love Potion #9,” “Sweet for My Sweet” and “Sugar and Spice.” It would be great to see another full Searchers reunion, given how successful the group was even beyond its 60s heyday. Next up was Chad & Jeremy. The pair played some of their biggest hits, told stories and maintained the magic chemistry that made them one of the biggest duos of the British Invasion. Long Island resident Billy J. Kramer stole the show. Playing with the house band for the evening, which included former Billy Joel drummer and current drummer in Kramer’s band, Liberty Devito’s perfect back-beat, Kramer brought his regular guitarist out and mixed his biggest hits, new songs and more to rapturous applause. Kramer’s new album I Won the Fight, features strong material he wrote and spotlights a new-found toughness and depth to his vocals that if possible sounds even better than back in the 60s. Kramer closed with a cover of the Walker Brothers’ “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More” that was stunning. Denny Laine closed the show and brought the house down with the hit he sang with the Moody Blues, “Go Now.” All the artists came on in the end and performed a spirited “Band On The Run.” The entire evening was augmented by wonderful visual video images of the various artists’ 60s singles and album sleeves and photos, something rarely seen at a concert like this and very welcome.
British Invasion, Beatles and John Lennon fans will want to be at The Dix Hills Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, October 26th at 2:00 P.M., featuring Mostly Moptop, as part of The #9 Lennon Birthday Special. The band will be joined by percussionist Donald Larsen and nine additional guest artists: Susan Devita; Judith Zweiman; Gear Head Freaks; Joe Gioglio; EV Sweet; Andrew Lubman; Marci Geller; Ben Phillip and former Strawbs member and Long Island-resident John Ford. The Dix Hills Performing Arts Center is located at Five Towns College, 305 North Service Road in Dix Hills.
Recipe: Tomato Vodka Sauce Fussili with Broccoli
A higher in fiber and lower in fat version of Pasta alla Vodka
Published: Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Back in the early stages of our relationship, my husband, without fail would always order the “Pasta alla Vodka” whenever we did Italian food on our dates. Cute it was, but it started to get a little boring. I used to corner him and try to convert him into some other rustic Italian fare. However, he wasn’t budgeting; not even more a second on this meal. Many years later…we are talking a good 13 or so, crazily enough, I’m not sure that he has picked up a fork to this dish at all. Could he have forgotten about it OR maybe his healthier side kicked in a bit. However, not tonight ☺ I am going to surprise him with this higher in fiber and lower in fat version. I also had to include some chopped up broccoli; a wives duty!
• 8 ozs whole grain fussili (I tend to find a brand with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving to boost up the fiber content!)
• 1/4 cup light cream (I have tried the fat free version, but the low fat has much more body and there is not a severe caloric difference)
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes
• 2 garlic cloves sliced thinly
• 1 small onion chopped
• 2 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 head slightly steamed broccoli chopped into medium sized pieces (or 3 cups frozen broccoli cuts thawed and cooked according to directions)
• 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese plus more for topping
• 1/4 cup of vodka (Please don’t whip out your Grey Goose, the alcohol reduces down when heated, so unlike cooking with wine, the quality is not so important.)
• Pinch of red pepper flakes
1.) Boil water (Don’t forget to salt it once it’s bubbling as it adds flavor to the pasta) Cook pasta according to directions and put aside.
2.) Heat oil in a large sauté pan and add butter over medium heat and add onion. Cook for 6-8 minutes until tender.
3.) Increase heat and add the light cream, garlic, red pepper flakes and vodka. Cook until it reduces.
4.) Add in tomatoes and cook for a minute or two more until tomatoes get slightly wilted.
5.) Remove sauce and let cool slightly. Blend in blender or vitamix until smooth.
6.) Toss with cooked pasta and broccoli until thoroughly coated.
7.) Sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!!
Amidst Fall Premieres, Two Finales
‘Dome,’ ‘Strain’ leave us wondering ‘what’s next?’
It may seem odd during the height of fall premiere season to talk about season finales, but we have a couple of summer holdouts to talk about. One of these has already been renewed, while the other has a far less certain future. Both of them has left viewers clamoring to know what happens next.
“Under the Dome” ended its sophomore year with Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) going full tilt psycho and Dale Barbara (Mike Vogel) stuck down a hole with the rest of the town of Chester’s Mill. The final two episodes of the season also served as a clearing house of characters and things started going straight downhill when the Dome itself started contracting. Impossible Melanie (Grace Victoria Cox), still suffering from the egg leaving town, was literally sucked down a hole, causing Junior (Alexander Koch) to barely keep from flipping out.
Jim and Pauline (Sherry Stringfield) finally reconnect only for Lyle (Dwight Yoakam) to literally stab the former Mrs. Rennie in the back. Jim immediately gives Lyle a one-way ticket to the afterlife. Unfortunately, Pauline is on her way to join Lyle when Rebecca Pine (Karla Crome) decides to ease her suffering and help her meet her end painlessly. Guess who Big Jim kills next? He further adds to his already considerable bodycount by offing hoarder Andrea (Dale Raoul) and nearly takes Julia’s (Rachelle Lefevre) life before Junior stops him with a bullet to the shoulder.
Amid all of this, Barbie leads the townspeople down the hole thinking this will lead them out of the Dome. They’d have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that meddling dead end. Except, after a dance of butterflies, the cave wall falls away to reveal a bright white light surrounding a serene Melanie beckoning everyone to come home. “Under the Dome” has yet to be renewed so we’re left wondering if Melanie means a bright future outside the dome or one the way George Milton promised Lennie Small.
Over on “The Strain” season finale, all kinds of wacky hi-jinks ensue. Erstwhile gang banger Gus (Miguel Gomez) discovers that his kidnappers are vampires, but ones that kill other vampires. Their leader, Mr. Quinlan (Stephen McHattie) explains that The Master (Robert Maillet, voice of Robin Atkins Downe) has broken a long-held truce and the vampire-slaying vampires need a human champion. Gus vengefully vows to be their first employee of the month.
Meanwhile, the decidedly more human group of vamp killers has discovered that The Master is rebuilding his coffin of power at Bolivar’s (Jack Kesey) renovated theater. Eph (Corey Stoll, still sporting a wig), concerned for his son’s safety, decides it is time for Zack (Ben Hyland) to earn his vampire killer merit badge and agrees to take him on the raid to destroy The Master. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. The final stand seems to go pretty well until the group drives The Master into direct sunlight, only to discover it isn’t deadly to the ancient undead leader. He just scampers away to hunt our heroes another day. Oh, and Zack gets to find out his mother has been turned and is intent on killing him. Bad day all around.
“The Strain” returns next summer for a second season of 13 episodes. This first year was uneven, but always exciting so I’m in for more. As stated above, no decision has been reached for “Under the Dome” yet. It shed an average of three million viewers in between seasons so it is uncertain if CBS will be willing to risk a further erosion. I, for one, am hoping we haven’t had our last dramatic adventures in the domed Chester’s Mill.
Which Diet is Best?
It’s simple: the one that you choose
Published: Monday, October 06, 2014
Starting, stopping and jumping between diets has become a nationwide phenomenon in a constant effort to lose weight. Dozens of differently named diets boasting new techniques and methods promise rapid results but the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how you diet, just as long as you stick to it. A recent review of 48 randomized weight loss trials showed that all popular diets cause weight loss because they cut down on overall calorie count, and not because of any unique aspects of each diet. All of the different types of diets produced similar results. Therefore, the best diet for you is really the one that you think you can stick to over an extended period of time.
Passat Reconfirms Its Family-Friendly Rep
Smaller engine offered for 2014 equals better mileage
Published: Friday, October 03, 2014
2014 VW Passat, as tested: $31,715.
There isn’t much not to love about the Passat. It’s German, first, and die Deutschen do cars right. (The actual car is put together in America, though.) The 2014 Passat is wide, authoritative, handsome and lends the driver a feeling of “I can handle anything” as opposed to “You better not push me too hard” or “You can pass that guy if you want but I wouldn’t if I were you.”
For 2014, they’ve parked a 1.8 turbo four cylinder under the hood, replacing the naturally aspirated 2.5 litre inline 5-cylinder jobs of old – you can still get a V-6, however. The new engine sacrifices close to zero power, feel-wise, making the new plant a smarter move as it’ll deliver better mileage. Four trannys are offered, depending which Passat model and trim you choose: two manuals, an automatic and an automated manual. All make your feet-hands combo a well-oiled team.The ride is smooth, the cockpit plush and roomy and upmarket, and you can still squeeze somewhere around 30 miles per highway/city per gallon if you don’t go nuts with the acceleration. The car can also be equipped with goodies like VW’s new Car-Net connected services, pairing your smartphone to offer roadside assistance, automatic crash notification, stolen vehicle location assistance, remote car access, speed alerts, a car health report and an improved point of interest service on models with navigation. Other items on the menu include two different navigation systems, a rearview camera, HD Radio, satellite radio, a sunroof, remote start, push-button start, dual-zone climate control and two different premium sound systems.
It’s roomy in back as well as front, ditto the gargantuan trunk. Finally, it happens to be one of the safest sedans you’ll ever ride in, with a near perfect 5-star across-the-board rating from the Institute for Highway Safety. Our tester was $31,715; base Passats can be had in the low 20’s.
The Passat’s 2014 tweaks happily make it a better car. Fans will be pleased.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Friday Oct. 3
Each week we scour the digital world looking for the hottest gadgets, trending topics, new apps and more!
Zero to 10
Don’t look now here’s Windows 9! Oh Wait, I mean Windows 10! Wait, what happened to 9? After the luke-warm response from consumers for Windows 8, the development team at Microsoft has abandoned Windows 9 completely and jumped straight to Windows 10! Microsoft listened to its customers and altered their “touch screen” focused 8, for a more responsive and familiar PC based operating system with some great additions for both tablet and desktop users! See all the features here and look for the release in 2015.
Life is but a Stream
Still watching videos on YouTube with three friends hovering over your shoulder? Streaming devices like Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV (just to name two) are getting a boost from consumers who find watching movies, videos or listening to music on a tablet or smartphone just too clunky and unproductive. At the unbelievably low price of just $35.00 (in the case of Chromecast), you can immediately launch the latest viral video or music playlist straight to your TV in full HD picture and sound! Usable apps for these devices are emerging every day! From Netflix to Pandora, Crackle to MLB.tv. If it’s on your phone…it can be on your TV!
What’s a Book?
I remember the first reading device I ever saw was Amazon’s Kindle (black and white text, and pages that turned just like a book—wow!). Since then, the tablet, e-reader (or whatever you call it), has taken off exponentially! Now Amazon, in an effort to capture the entire market, explodes with multiple new devices. There’s HD, 3G, Wi-Fi versions. Models with cameras, some made exclusively for the kids, whatever your pleasure-Kindle certainly has a device for you. Click here for a look at one that’s right for you.
The Price is Right After All
Love Netflix? Love Adam Sandler? Well then you’re in luck. Netflix and Adam Sandler have inked a deal that will grant Netflix exclusive rights to four upcoming Adam Sandler movies! According to a press release issued by Netflix, Adam Sandler will produce and star in the films that Netflix will release in the nearly 50 countries where they operate. In the release Adam Sandler is quoted as saying, “When these fine people came to me with an offer to make four movies for them, I immediately said yes for one reason and one reason only, Netflix rhymes with wet chicks. Let the streaming begin!”
Ratings, What are They Good For?
What may or may not determine your favorite show's fate
Published: Thursday, October 02, 2014
Television series live and die by their ratings, but there are very few people who not only understand how ratings work, but also how they are generated. Generally, it works by estimation. That is, a relatively small number of television viewing households agree to have their television viewing habits recorded. Each of those households represent a percentage of the viewing public and from there the number of people viewing a show is calculated the day after to see how many people likely watched a given show. These numbers are further broken down into viewership by age groups. That last part is key as it determines advertising revenue that shows can bring to their respective networks. It’s actually way more intricate than that, but you get the general idea.
Occasionally, this archaic tea-leaf reading method can create oddities. As an example, the high rated series “Longmire” was abruptly cancelled at the end of its latest season. The reason was that although a lot of people were watching it, the vast majority of those people were not in a particularly coveted age group which is ages 18-49. This is considered the prime age group that advertisers think they can convince the most to buy their products. “Longmire”’s main age group was above that, therefore advertisers were not interested in the show, hence its surprise cancellation. Right now, there are committees of people pouring over extrapolated viewing and age group figures to already start speculating on whether or not to cancel your favorite show.
Of course, technology has complicated things. In this day and age of DVRs, Video on Demand and streaming services most folks no longer have to watch a show the day and time that it airs. The Networks are quickly wising up to this new model as they are now looking at viewing figures over the following days after broadcast. This tends to provide even more detailed numbers as it is easier to quantify streaming and VOD number more precisely than extrapolation from a representative few viewers. This can increasingly mean the difference between a show getting a full season or getting cancelled within three episodes. This will also affect a number of shows in the next few weeks.
All of that is to say that you should expect the Networks to wait a little longer before yanking a series this fall. Everything is basically going into its second week and there doesn’t appear to be any real clunkers just yet. There are several shows I will be keeping an eye. “Forever” is one of those. It debuted as ABCs top fall debut in its time slot in four years. A new episode was aired the next night and while the total viewing numbers dropped it actually increased the number viewers in the 18-49 age group. Its third outing dropped in both, but still remains high. The next couple of weeks will probably determine its fate. If the numbers have plateaued then it should be fine for the rest of the season and a great candidate for renewal. A continuing drop in viewers and age group will probably mean it is fated for the chopping block.
On the other hand “Scorpion” premiered with strong numbers and basically retained its audience in its second week. Unless it suddenly experiences a drastic audience loss, CBS should be very pleased with it sticking around. The ratings for “Madam Secretary” fell in its second week, but it still scored higher than “The Good Wife,” which airs right after it on the same network. “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” came back with significantly lower numbers than its first season premiere, but up from the end of last season, so that would be considered good.
Again, the next two or three weeks will give us a good idea of what shows we should worry about and the ones that are probably safe. Feel free to sound off below if there are any shows you would like to see me pay attention to.
Experience Sharon Van Etten at The New Yorker Festival
Conversations with Music in October at the Sheen Center on Bleecker Street
Turn on the charm
Call to response now
Sitting on the porch
Looking for a way out
—From “Taking Chances” by Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten’s voice can be as powerful as that of Kristin Hersh or Fiona Apple, and as whisper-soft as Chan Marshall or Suzanne Vega. And the New Jersey-bred singer/songwriter’s lyrics are as candid and emotionally heavy as the lot. Van Etten’s latest cd, Are We There, is her heaviest one yet. When discussing the record with Fred Armisen, Van Etten said it basically chronicled the last two years of her Tramp tour:
“It’s about things I’ve been working through—trying to have a career but also trying to have a home life and relationship,” said Van Etten, who lives in NYC. “And you know, in the end, I had to choose my work over having a relationship because the person I was with couldn’t handle it. It was someone that I loved very deeply, but it just plays on people’s insecurities when you’re in a place that they’re not. And that’s kinda what the whole record’s about.”
The indie-folk songstress has worked with The National’s Aaron Dessner and collaborated with the likes of J Mascis and Nick Cave. Covering Van Etten’s “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” brought Tim Presley of the band White Fence to tears.
In addition to Van Etten’s interview and performance on October 11th, The New Yorker Festival, which takes place the weekend of October 10th-12th, includes appearances by Neil Young, Malcolm Gladwell, Randy Newman, Imagine Dragons, Juliana Margulies, Laurie Anderson and Larry David, among others.
What: Conversations with Music: Sharon Van Etten talks with Sasha Frere-Jones about lyrical honesty.
She will also be performing solo during the 90-minute presentation at The New Yorker Festival.
Where: Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, 18 Bleecker Street, NYC
When: Saturday, October 11th, 7pm
For more info: http://festival.newyorker.com/program
Book Review: ‘A Cup of Water Under My Bed’
Sometimes what you don’t see is better than what you do see
Published: Wednesday, October 01, 2014
Good question – and once you learned that you can determine the answer by taking things apart, well, nothing was safe. The hidden parts, an object’s guts, were always more complicated and more interesting than what was on the outside.
Isn’t life like that: what you don’t see is sometimes better than what you do? Unraveling her story for examination in “A Cup of Water Under My Bed,” author Daisy Hernández, lets us find out.
Until she was in kindergarten, Daisy Hernández’s entire world sat in Union City , New Jersey . Her parents, her Cuban father and Colombian mother, spoke only Spanish at home – although Hernández learned a smattering of English here and there; more, once she was sent to Catholic school.
English always held a certain fascination for her but Hernández’s three tías insisted she keep up with her Spanish, which she resented. There were words that didn’t translate easily from English to her parents’ language, so there were things she couldn’t share with her elders. To “make that leap… to leave for another language hurts.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, when she told her father that she wanted to be a writer, he told her she’d “gone crazy.” Still, Hernández pursued her dream, maybe because storytelling was in her blood: her Mami loved sharing tales of her own immigration from Colombia , how she’d heard that money grew on trees but, instead of finding cash on the ground like leaves, she’d had to find a factory job.
Such stories of strength in her mostly-female household gave Hernández a map of life and relationships. She learned about men and whom to marry, disappointing her Mami and tías with her first Colombian boyfriend. American boys, they told her, were better because “Anything made in America works” but, at seventeen, Hernández was sure she was in love.
That Colombian boy taught her a lot about sex. So did a feminist body-awareness class she took early in her college career, which was where she suddenly understood a long-held feeling that, once articulated, would hurt her mother and cause a rift with her favorite auntie.
“I love kissing boys,” Hernández says, “but a girl. I could kiss a girl.”
My first impression of “A Cup of Water Under My Bed” led to heavy sighing. It starts with a dismaying tale of invisibility and poverty, which made me think I had another pity-party memoir in my hands.
Ach, I was wrong.
With wit and respectful grace, author Daisy Hernández shares stories of love for family, of strong (despite herself) roots, and of assimilation and claiming who you are without losing who you were.
These tales are sprinkled, essay style, with powerful anecdotes of self-discovery that I couldn’t get enough of. I also enjoyed the unwavering tone that Hernández takes, speaking her truth, firmly, no arguments.
That no-nonsense attitude mixes nicely with quiet humor and familial devotion to make this a don’t-miss for memoir fans. And if that’s you, then have “A Cup of Water Under My Bed.” You’ll like what’s inside.
The Beginning of the End
Isles set to kick off final season at Coliseum
Perhaps the greatest line written about the Islanders pre-season game against the Devils in Brooklyn was from the Isles Point Blank blog on SNY: “After two trips to the Barclays Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano wasn’t ready to say the building felt like home.”
“It’s a great venue,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano told Point Blank. “There’s no question it’s a beautiful place. We know we’re going to be here at a certain point, but it was good to come. Preseason and now we have to focus on the Coliseum and our fans there.”
Barclays CEO Brett Yormark told Newsday that this year’s pre-season game felt like a dress rehearsal compared to the first go on ice in 2013.
“We’re that much closer to it being a reality and we’re trying to refine the experience for our fans,” he told Newsday.
There were between 11,000 and 12,000 fans in attendance, but not near the 15,000 full capacity the Barclays can hold. The Coliseum, if all goes right, should see more sellouts this season then usual, and possibly the most since the 1980s.
—Former Isles goalie Rick DiPietro just grabbed himself a regular gig on ESPN Radio. He’ll join former Islanders beat writer Alan Hahn on Friday’s from 7-10 p.m. on air, according to Newsday’s Neil Best.
—The team has not yet updated its shop website with any “Farewell Coliseum” items. Check “Orange & Blue” sometime in October to see what the team is doing in the team shop at the building.
—It was announced that Denis Potvin’s mini locker will be available to fans who have full-season tickets. This is part of a season-long collection of locker stalls, which also include Billy Smith, Clark Gillies and Bobby Nystrom during the first half of the season. There will be others in the second half as well. Potvin will be on-hand at the Coliseum on Nov. 29 as the organization honors him.
‘Castle’ Returns With a Mystery
Plus Storybrooke freezes, Five-0 expands, NYPD under fire
Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2014
As we move into another week of Fall TV Premiere Season some more of my favorites make some pretty dramatic returns. As you’ll see below, not all shows left us hanging off the cliff with their season ending storylines. However, let’s tackle the big one first.
I have been very vocal about the season 6 finale of “Castle,” even going so far as to wonder if the show might have jumped the shark so far as to not being able to come back as anything worth watching. While the premiere didn’t exactly restore my faith in the show, nor was it as satisfying as I’d come to expect of the writers, it was ok enough to keep me watching. It should be no mystery that Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) is still alive, as the show bears his name, but what happened to him seems to be as needlessly mysterious as the inexcusable cliffhanger wasn’t. If its only purpose was just to postpone his wedding to Beckett (Stana Katic) for another whole season then there should be serious consideration given to ending the show this year.
On the flipside, a move that could have easily derailed “Once Upon a Time” into the land of no return seems to have actually worked in its favor. To the cynical-minded, introducing characters from the less than a year old hit film “Frozen” could easily be seen as desperation on the part of the veteran show. However, Elsa (Georgina Haig), Anna (Elizabeth Lail) and Kristoff (Scott Michael Foster) bring a breath of fresh, chilly air to the proceedings and their story enriches the already multi-layered backstory of the show. Of course, everyone, both audience and characters, are wondering if Regina (Lana Parrilla) will give in to her dark side again now that her love-life has been derailed. By the end of the episode that question leads to an even more intriguing question no one has thought to ask since the beginning of the show.
One of the best acted and best written cop shows on television makes a spectacular return to its Friday night home. “Blue Bloods” consistently keeps my eyes glued to the screen and the premiere was no exception. While there was no cliffhanger to resolve, the show still managed to surprise, especially during a rather insane shootout early in the episode. Tom Selleck is always riveting in every scene he’s in and Donny Wahlberg always excels, but Will Estes really gets his due in the kick-off to the fifth season. Estes’ Jamie Reagan is forced to seriously ponder something that has been apparent to everyone for the last year, namely possible romantic feelings for his partner, Officer Eddie Janko (Vanessa Ray). Still, Selleck steals the show with a final scene monologue that will leave you thinking long after it has ended.
Meanwhile, on “Blue Bloods” lead-in, the cast has grown a little. Michelle Borth may have left the series, but Chi McBride is now in the opening credits as is Jorge Garcia. Garcia’s Jerry Ortega is welcome comic relief, but the highlight of the premiere is the opening mandated therapy session with McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) and Danno (Scott Caan). One of the underlying gags of the series is the way the two behave as a couple, so basically seeing them in “marriage counseling” is sublimely amusing bordering on laugh-out-loud hilarious. Apart from that we get a mechanized threat to the whole island of Oahu, plus a couple of breadcrumbs as to some over-arching plot threads for the season. Aloha!
Most everything has premiered for the season and we’ll be checking out the stragglers as they air over the next few weeks. Check back Thursday to see how these new and returning show we’ve been looking at are faring in their second outings of the season.
Speedy Claxton Inducted to NYCB HOF
Hofstra great honored with another Hall of Fame induction
The honors keep piling up for Hofstra and Long Island basketball great Speedy Claxton. He was inducted to the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Already a member of Hofstra’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Claxton jumped on board as an assistant coach with the basketball program last season after spending the previous two years as a scout with Golden State in the NBA.
The Speedy Claxton File (Hofstra)
• Graduated from Hofstra in 2000 as one of only six players in school history to score 2,000 career points (2,015)
• Graduated as the program’s all-time leader in both assists (660) and steals (288)
• Two-time Player of the Year selection in the America East Conference (1998, 2000)
• Named the 2000 winner of the Haggerty Award, given to the top player in the Metropolitan New York area, after leading Hofstra to an America East Conference championship and its first NCAA Division I tournament berth in 23 years
The Speedy Claxton File (Pros)
• First round draft pick of the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000
• Earned an NBA title as a member of the San Antonio Spurs in 2003
• Averaged 9.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game
Cruising Route 66, Ozarks Style
Published: Monday, September 29, 2014
“Do you need a ride?” –offer from elderly woman at Springfield Airport
Author with Springfield Mayor Robert Stephens (and charitable parking meter)
I’m nearing the detour in my travel writing career where I’m sometimes ready to just say no—I’m hoping it’s just a temporary burnout. To weather this hiatus, I’ve released my fourth book, The Directions to Happiness, which chronicles my 135-country quest for, well, everything. Feeling homey, I now pine for moments of Americana bliss. Given the chance to write about LA, Boston, Miami, or say, Springfield, Missouri, I’d choose the latter.
Well, greetings from Springfield, Missouri, a classic stopover on old Route 66 and a blues music hub in the legendary Ozark Mountains. I’m pursuing Middle America’s music, food, personality, and timing—some destinations make you dig for the good stuff, but Springfield seems to be ready when you are.
Kentucky Gentlemen. Image: Skip Kaltenheuser
I’m here to tune into The Greater Ozarks Blues Festival. I’ve covered legendary music festivals—Telluride Bluegrass, Gathering of the Vibes, Woodstock II, Borneo’s Rainforest World Music—but have since tired of winding lines leading to porta-potties and cattle-style metal gate crowd control. The Greater Ozarks Blues Festival is now on my permanent hit-list; intimate, spacious, unencumbered, complete with amazing talent. This annual two-day affair (early September) allows the crowd to mingle with the acts before and after their gigs. Premiere local and regional bands are brought in by the Blues Society of the Ozarks. Held on the fringe of Springfield in the backyard of the American Legion Hall, this festival rounds out the fun with $3 beers and barbecue. Acts included Kentucky Gentlemen (hard blues duo of an electric guitar-playing singer and a bassist thumping a drum with his foot), the Brenda Meyer Band (take note Bonnie Raitt), and John Nemeth (classic harmonica-burning vocalist backed by a powerhouse retro blues band that can also bend toward soul or R&B). Ps, this blues storm is not a singular event. Springfield is bursting at the seams with venues that showcase the blues.
Springfield’s retro Ramada Oasis
Old “where you should stay advice” usually leans toward the “you’re only there to sleep” model, but I now view your snooze palace as vital to the overall travel experience. It can be all about the home base. The Ramada Oasis, on the “north side” of town, is another world set behind an otherwise generic turnpike setting—a behind-the-scenes retro world. Its 60s glam matches what Route 66 once represented to the USA: the trendy route between Chicago and Los Angeles. If James Bond visited Missouri in the 60s, this place would be his pad. Once the most sprawling Howard Johnson’s in the land, Ramada has since resurrected the glory of this 173-room classic—whose centerpiece, bisecting two rows of rooms, is an indoor soccer-court-sized atrium with pool, Jacuzzi, and lush jungle foliage. Its open-kitchen restaurant and ice bar, Fire & Ice, is the only part of the property not left to the past. Breakfast is included every morning in the atrium. It’s also a great work environment, I’ll miss the place.
Brad Pitt’s hometown—rumor has it he was “a social” in high school—has many layers, including a deep-seeded music scene. I sat down with Ozark Mountain Daredevils founder Randle Chowning (one of the Daredevils enormous 70s hits was Jackie Blue). He explained how the legendary Ozark Jubilee television show (1955-60) either attracted or launched many famous acts, including Les Paul, Porter Wagner, Brenda Lee, and Chet Atkins. Springfield’s place on the then vital Route 66 meant that cross country traffic had no option but to tune in; the music makers knew this, and so did Si Siman, founder of the Ozark Jubilee. Other touristy music towns like Nashville or Memphis have lost their intimacy—Springfield is just now realizing its place in the history of American music.
Smallin Civil War Cave
Caving In: Missouri has an underworld, and I’m not talking about pawn shops or strip clubs. This is cave country, where geology, history, and unsung tour guides shine. I visited three…
* Missouri Institute of Natural Science sits atop Riverbluff Cave, which was discovered on September 11, 2001. It was originally an open-ended half-mile tunnel that was sealed (and left undisturbed) by the elements 75,000 years ago. On that infamous date, a road crew was about to blow the entire area, tunnel included, for a new road, but blasting was halted nationwide. Later that day, they blew only two of the set charges by necessity, which opened up the cave again—inside they found 735,000-year-old bones of woolly mammoths, giant short-faced bears (make Grizzlies seem puny), and (gnarly) peccary pigs. Riverbluff Cave now has the ear of New York’s Museum of Natural History, and the world. A volunteer on a mission, Brett Houser, is part of a team excavating tons of silt in the newfound otherworld to find more skeletons. He told me that it’s only a matter of time before they find something that sends the eyes of the world here, hopefully in their lifetime. As the digging continues, they are finding remains in the sediment that date a million years. Stay tuned.
*Fantastic Caverns—my daughter has taught me to enjoy kid-friendly charms. This is one. Imagine a rollercoaster ride on a red Jeep-drawn tram into the land of stone sculptures formed by millions of years of dripping water. A former speakeasy and music venue, this underworld will make you rethink entertaining in hard times.
*Smallin Civil War Cave—Missouri was the most fought over state in the Union, having more per capita casualties than any other state. This beautiful cave served as a refuge for Confederate sympathizers. Smallin’s passionate tour guides not only know Civil War history, but the tour is an entertaining millennial odyssey through the ages of all things rock. With the largest cave opening in Missouri, it was used by Native Americans, then settlers. At 54-degrees year-round, the spring flowing through the cave has always been the neighborhood fridge.
Previously, as a frequent grade-school visitor to Roosevelt Field (America’s first mega-mall on lovely Long Island), I viewed the only value in such expanses as mild shoplifting and the restaurant dine-and-dash. Returning to lawful citizenry by age 16, I then avoided malls like dentists. But, I found one that people who’ve even abandoned televisions might like, even if you don’t hunt (I don’t). Bass Pro Shops “granddaddy” store and national headquarters is here. The owner, John L. Morris, is not only the wealthiest man in Missouri but also one of the more environmentally active. Sure, he peddles hunting equipment, but he also redoubles awareness for sensible conservation. Four million people visit Springfield’s Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World every year, making it Missouri’s busiest attraction. This place resembles a sprawling, multi-theatre nature atrium, but it’s all one store. Inside, their mind-bending in-house gun museum, which starts at the very beginning, is where I learned that Native Americans called rifles “thunder sticks.” Moving on, the store overflows with indoor duck and alligator ponds. Every other wall is a mammoth aquarium; the fresh water aquariums alone make a visit worthwhile. Further telling, there is no shortage of fans who choose this “mall” as their honeymoon destination.
Bass Pro Shops - Hemingway’s Blue Water Café. Image Skip Kaltenheuser.
Suffering tourist traps is a state of mind. So, don’t let the café in Lambert’s Café throw you. This humongous tourist megahit serves up hog jowl with cucumber and onions in the salooniest multi-room restaurant to not serve alcohol. The menu doesn’t scream health food, but the trip to this roadside attraction is worth it just to witness “throwed rolls,” where waiters literally huck tasty bread rolls at/to customers. I caught one (which actually exploded in my hand upon impact) pitched by a sidearm whiz from 40 feet away. That same waiter then waltzed up to paint the remnants of my fractured roll with molasses. Yep.
On the other side of Springfield’s food scene is Leong’s Asian Diner, founded by a young Chinaman who was quickly drafted into WWII after immigrating to the US. In combat in Europe, he routinely dazzled his troopmates with his ability to render tasty meals from the ingredients of their otherwise nearly inedible rations. He later brought his recipes to Springfield and invented Springfield Style Cashew Chicken. The rest is history.
My heartland luck multiplied when I got a mayoral sendoff. Springfield Mayor Robert Stephens bought me a beer at Springfield Brewing Company—which doubles as a local history museum. He then explained the deep relationship his city has with one of its sister cities, Isesaki, Japan; Springfield’s locals sent major donations to aid the nearby earthquake victims of 2011. Outside the brewery, he pointed at another form of his town’s charitable nature for their own homeless population, a retired and resurrected parking meter designed by MSU students that asked: Feed me to feed others. And that says it all.
Springfield, Missouri, is not LA (Look, my cocktail is blue!), Boston (So, ah, you’re not from he-ah?), or Miami (Hmm, uneven tan?). A portion of the folks here might not be versed in ‘what’s happening’ on America’s salty coasts, but this true crossroads of the Heartland won’t let you down…unless, of course, you’re imagination stops short on Route’s 66’s musical pit-stop.
For more information about Springfield, MO, go here.
Springfield Brewing Co.
Is Social Media an Appropriate Outlet For Frustration?
Social media juggernauts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are defining features of today’s society. As they have become the primary mode of widespread communication, people often use these platforms to convey their thoughts- both positive and negative. A recent study showed that users who saw less negative posts on their mini-feeds unconsciously produced more positive posts and less negative emotions in their own posts, and vice versa. The bottom line: social media is an inappropriate outlet to convey one’s frustrations as it not only affects how other people feel, but may also subconsciously affect their opinions of you, especially in a professional setting. It may be easier said than done, but it really is better to just think positive, positive, positive.
Google’s Driverless Car Faces Competition
Other automakers scramble to be first
Published: Friday, September 26, 2014
The time has obviously come, depending on whom you ask, to take driving out of the hands of drivers, who text, talk, apply makeup, shave, play air guitar, argue, read books on the steering wheel and more and while drunk, stoned, angry, bored, tired or otherwise unfit to navigate 3,000-plus hunks o’metal. Driverless cars are getting more and more press, but they’re hardly “new.” It was 6 years ago at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance when a Volvo rep and I climbed into a prototype, aimed toward a brick wall and I followed his directive to “floor it.” About 20 feet from the wall, he said, “Ok, now take your hands off the wheel and put your hands over your eyes.” I’m here to type about it, so you know it worked out well – the Volvo stopped the car from hitting the wall whether my foot was on the gas or not. Not long after, in midtown Manhattan bumper-to-bumper traffic, my test Benz mistook itself for my mother and jammed on my brakes even though I still had a good amount of space between me and the car in front of me.
Google’s long been touting their driverless car, but it’s still years away from market. In the meantime, Audi, BMW and Benz have publicly jumped into the game using the same basic concept but with radically different execution. Audi recently announced it’s become the first automaker to be granted a permit from the state government to test its self-driving cars on California’s public roads, so here they come. The main difference is Google’s car – the prototype, anyway – is a cutesy-wootsy egg-shaped thing. The Germans are determined to mach schau and provide upscale, stylish, no-nonsense vehicles nobody’s going to giggle at and, most significantly, will perhaps get people to open their wallets. What will probably happen is that features of driverless cars, such as my abovementioned Volvo experience and the midtown fender-bender avoidance will become more and more common on upscale cars until finally everyone’s comfortable enough to turn at least a few of us loose on the road without having 100% control of the wheel, brake, gas and parking.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup – Friday Sept. 26
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!
Ah Fall, it’s the best time of the year! Everything cools down and the leaves paint a beautiful landscape. A veritable feast for the eyes! Are you always searching for the best fall foliage in your area? Then download “LeafPeepr”, the iPhone app that helps Fall-Foliage lovers find the best and brightest colors in the United States. And for those who want that Fall feeling all year round, download “Falling Leaves” for Android and enjoy the relaxed feel of falling leaves on your smartphone screen anytime you like.
Sleeping with your phone again?
Remember those old alarm clocks that played the soothing sounds of the beach, with rolling waves and seagull sounds that were supposed to help you sleep? Well, by now, those clocks are probably off our nightstands and smartphones are our new nighttime pacifiers…so leave it to genius App creators to concoct 10 new apps that help you fall asleep and stay asleep!
On the Bend
What’s this week’s newest wrinkle with the iPhone6? It bends! This is actually not a good thing folks. Apple has told consumers it might not be a good idea to keep this phone in their jeans (especially tight ones) for an extended period or they risk damaging their new phone. Huh? They suggest a case as a quick fix…really? So this is the quality of work Apple puts out now that Steve Jobs is no longer at the helm. I’m sure he would not be happy.
Less Than a Minute
I want it now! Ok then, here you go. Everything you need to know about life in less than a minute…its true! Learn the secret to losing weight. See how to spot a fake smile. Are you a good liar? What’s the advantage of having a mirror in your kitchen? Psychologist and Author Richard Wiseman fill’s you in on all this and more…in just 59 seconds! Watch the amazing videos here.
Sports on Plum Island
American soldiers kept occupied on grounds of Fort Terry
Published: Thursday, September 25, 2014
Imagine Plum Island as something other than the Animal Disease Center that it is today and people would think you’re crazy. But long before it was used by the Department of Homeland Security to study foreign animal diseases it was occupied by soldiers at Fort Terry.
Those soldiers had to keep occupied on the island just off the coast of the North Fork, so they took to open land and played sports. Photos of the athletic history on Plum Island are currently being featured in the administrative complex on the island in an exhibit supplied by the Southold Historical Society. Tours and access to the island are by appointment for approved groups only.
At the time, it wasn’t easy to attract and maintain a fit, fighting force for the United States Army prior to World War I.
The military encouraged men to participate in various sports and to form teams with their companies. At Fort Terry, there are acres of open land that was once home to football and baseball fields. Soldiers also boxed, swam and took part in track and field activities. The structures from Fort Terry are still standing on the island.
Soldiers often played against other competition from around Long Island and Connecticut.
Fort Terry was a coastal fortification and defense area to protect New York and America from foreign invaders and enemies. It was established in 1897 and used through the end of World War II.
The photo collection is on loan from Bolling Smith and the Coast Defense Study Group who is dedicated to the study and preservation of U.S. Coastal Defense Structures.
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