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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.
‘The Blacklist,’ ‘Person of Interest’ Have Strong Returns
More Fall TV returns and debuts
The Fall TV premiere train keeps rolling along this week with even more dynamic returns and debuts. A few more favorites of mine have returned plus there is a bonus second outing for a new show that I am fond of. Let’s get right to it.
How James Spader didn’t even garner an Emmy nomination for his turn as Raymond “Red” Reddington on “The Blacklist” is beyond me. He is phenomenally good in this role, never more so than in the first few minutes of the season premiere. Even as the cliffhangers from May were resolved, the show twisted and turned the story yet again to send us off on the trajectory for the first batch of episodes. While it was good to see what is left of the Blacklist Task Force reunited by episode’s end, it was bittersweet knowing that they are a damaged team, both emotionally and, at least in one case, physically. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Speaking of cliffhangers, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” certainly had a few major ones left at the end of its first season. Now that Coulson (Clark Gregg) has been made Director and tasked with rebuilding the once mighty organization, he’s been recruiting as evidenced by the new faces around the hidden HQ. There is no rest for the weary, however, as the team is quickly embroiled in a race against a super-human for some of their own tech. They are also being hunted along with the group that brought them down, Hydra, by General Glen Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). Amidst the twists and revelations it becomes evident that everything won’t be tied up neatly right away. Looks like we’re in for a wild ride on the road to rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D.
If there was ever drama show that served as a shining example of everything to do right, it would be “Person of Interest.” In order to escape the new computerized overlord bent on murdering them, our band of do-gooders has taken to hiding in plain sight. Reese (Jim Caviezel) is narcotics Detective Riley, Shaw (Sarah Shahi) is a cosmetics counter salesperson at Bloomindales, Finch (Michael Emerson) is now Professor Whistler and Root (Amy Acker) is, well, still being Root, tiptoeing through the scenes in between the danger. It’s interesting to note that originally our intrepid team was what the unseen machine relied upon in order to save everyday folks, but now the fantastic four rely on the machine to keep them safe from its malevolent “brother”, Samaritan.
Lastly for this week is the second episode of what is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine, “Forever.” ABC double-downed on this show this week by airing the pilot on one day and a second episode the next night. The second outing picks up a few weeks after the premiere as it is noted that Dr. Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) has assisted Detective Martinez (Alana de la Garza) in successfully closing several cases. We get some more info on Morgan’s background with Abe (Judd Hirsch) and Abigail (MacKenzie Mauzy) along with a doozy of a bombshell regarding the mysterious other immortal who has been stalking Morgan. All that plus what happens when Morgan dies from the witnesses side and more makes for an even more intriguing show.
That’s it for now, but next week I will catch you up on a few more premieres as well as checking in on some of the shows discussed this week. Fall 2014 has started off strong and promises to give us some great episodes through the end of the year.
Book Review: ‘Skink – No Surrender’ by Carl Hiaasen
Yeah, you learned the truth about the Jolly Old Elf years ago
Published: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Sorry to say, but know all about Santa.
Yeah, you learned the truth about the Jolly Old Elf years ago, but you let your younger sibs believe. Same with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy: get past grade school and you’re a little old for that stuff. So if, in the new book “Skink – No Surrender” by Carl Hiaasen, fourteen-year-old Richard Sloan said he met a one-eyed, bearded, beak-wearing man-bear on a Florida beach, who’d believe him?
Malley was almost never late.
It’s true that she was a rebel and gave her parents plenty of grief, but late? No, Richard Sloan knew his cousin Mal hated tardiness, which is why he was surprised when she didn’t show up on their nightly turtle nest hunt.
Figuring that Malley was grounded (again), Richard decided to scout for egg-laying loggerheads anyhow. He was sitting next to a turtle nest when he saw a drinking straw poking out of the ground – right before the sand exploded and a gigantic man burst from the beach, scaring the daylights out of Richard.
The guy was well over six feet tall, with different colored eyes pointing in different directions. He was wearing an ancient army jacket, camo pants, and vulture beaks tied in his long, scraggly beard. When he said his name was Clint Tyree, Richard couldn’t wait to Google it.
It turned out that Clint Tyree, college football star and Vietnam vet, had somehow gotten elected to the Florida governor’s office years ago. Halfway through his term, he disappeared. Rumors said he lived in the wilderness as a hermit called Skink; one post said Skink was dead, but Richard knew that wasn’t true.
He’d met Clint “Skink” Tyree. And Skink knew where Malley was.
She’d lied to her parents when she said she was leaving early for boarding school, and had instead run away with a man with a strange alias. But now there was trouble, few clues to her whereabouts, and a lot of places to hide in Florida ’s Gulf Coast . Riding with Skink in a plain gray car heading north, Richard hoped the governor knew all that.
And he hoped they weren’t too late…
So you’ve known the truth about Santa for a few years: the dude doesn’t exist. It’s a fact, but after reading this book you’ll wish that Skink did. I mean, what can you say about an old guy who eats road kill, barely bathes, is moral and kind, but hates trouble?
“Weirdly addictive.” That’s what you can say because author Carl Hiaasen’s main man – here in a teen novel for the first time – is someone you can’t resist. Indeed, the title character in “Skink – No Surrender” is outrageously, appealingly wild and the story is rompish with a surprisingly keen element of suspense, which will keep readers laughing and turning pages.
Adult fans of Skink will run to find this book, but it’s mostly meant for readers age 14 and up. Still, you know you want it because “Skink – No Surrender” will make you say ho-ho-ho.
Catching Up with Jason Brescia
Malverne local becomes big-time film director
It is not every day that you hear of a Long Island native tuned big-time writer-director. Jason Michael Brescia grew up in Valley Stream and Malverne, attending Kellenberg Catholic High School in Uniondale.
In 2006, Brescia attended the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University in Orange, California. And that rest as they say is history.
In 2008 he received an award for “Best Undergraduate Director.” At the young age of 23, Brescia began working on his first feature film, “The Newest Pledge.” Now at age 28 he has written and directed his second film “Bridge and Tunnel.” Set in Nassau County and staring Ryan Metcalf and Mary Kate Wiles, the film is about a group of twenty-something’s that struggle to cope with break-ups, student debt, and the transition to adulthood while living with their parents in the suburbs of New York.
“The goal of ‘Bridge and Tunnel’ is to capture my generation as we are, without the hindsight of history guiding my hand,” Brescia said. “This is a story that pertains to all of America; I wanted to make a cinematic time capsule to reflect how it was for us at this point in time, and hopefully audiences will appreciate that.”
Being a native Long Islander, Brescia thought it would be great for most of the films scenes to take place in and around the area. Some of the filming locations include Stingers Irish Pub in Rockville Centre, The Long Beach Boardwalk, Luanne’s Boutique in Merrick and Monsoon Asian Kitchen and Lounge in Babylon Village. In total, there were more than 20 filming locations in the Long Island area for “Bridge and Tunnel.”
“I grew up as, and remain to this day, a history buff,” Brescia said. “I remember the concept of ‘primary sources’ being taught to us, and I felt as an artist that I was given a really unique opportunity to create a primary source for future generations to look back on. “
The film wrapped production in August of 2013 and started appearing in film festivals all over the country in May 2014, including the Long Island International Film Expo.
“I think that audience today will enjoy ‘Bridge and Tunnel,’ but ultimately I hope that the project serves as a tool for future generations to use to get an idea of what life was like at the beginning of the twenty-first century for the “millennial” generation” Brescia said.
Keep an eye on Brescia as he continues to raise in the film industry.
The Fall Premiere Onslaught Begins
"The Good Wife," "Big Bang Theory" return plus more debuts
Published: Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I readily admit that I ring in the new fall television season with the same unbridled glee that Navin Johnson greets the release of the new phone books. Sure, the increasing number of summer series may have taken the bloom off the rose somewhat, but I’m still delighted to welcome the 69th Fall Television Programming Season to the airwaves. This is an extraordinarily busy week of premieres. Here are my favorites from the early part of the week.
Guilty pleasure “The Good Wife” returns strong with a season premiere that highlights one of the series’ best qualities. Things are always in motion on this show, most of the time in every unexpected ways. Everyone is still reeling from Carey’s (Matt Czuchry) indiscretions having come to light while he and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) are working out a defection plan with Diane (Christine Baranski). All of that gets thrown up in the air as Carey finds himself arrested and thrown in jail while Eli (Alan Cumming) attempts to manipulate events so that Alicia will run for State’s Attorney. The writing on this show is like a delicately performed ballet that is always a marvel to watch. Even going in to the sixth season that has not diminished.
Perennial favorite “The Big Bang Theory” returns for its eighth season with a double-header of awesome. We find out just how far Sheldon (Jim Parsons) got on his train excursion as well as seeing a new hairstyle and career for Penny (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting). Howard (Simon Halberg) tries to breakup Stewart (Kevin Sussman) and his new BFF, Howard’s Mom (voiced by Carol Ann Susi) while also taking a class from Sheldon. Speaking of BFFs, Amy (Mayim Bialik) tries to work a point of contention between Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Penny into higher self-esteem for herself. All of these hi-jinks are sprinkled liberally with the usual gleefully geeky references and science gags. I have really missed this show and am glad it is back.
Speaking of geeky references, newcomer “Gotham” is rife with those of the comic book variety. Focusing on the infamous city in the years before the Caped Crusader made his mark, this show follows the rise of rookie Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) through the ranks of the corrupt Gotham City Police Department. Partnered with the morally questionable Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Gordon begins his career by investigating the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne while consoling their son, Bruce (David Mazouz). There is a reference to the Batman comics about every three minutes in the pilot, most often in the guise of a familiar character. There are also some pacing problems and weak acting, but on the whole this is a decent start.
Another new show that holds promise is “Scorpion.” Eccentric genius Walter O’Brien (Elyes Gabel) has gathered a team of brilliant misfits with whom he has a failing consulting business. When the team, consisting of Toby Curtis (Eddie Kaye Thomas), an expert behaviorist, Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), a mechanical prodigy and Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidhaim), a statistics guru, are co-opted by Homeland Security agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick), they use their talents to try to avert an unsolvable catastrophe.
“Scorpion” is Executive Produced by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Justin Lin and is pretty much dialed up to 11 the entire time with brief moments of character development sprinkled throughout. There is some real potential here and a whole lot of heart so I’m interested to see where it goes.
This new TV season is just getting started, so be sure to check back Thursday for another round-up of old favorites and new surprise hits premiering this week.
Drank That Local Sh*t: Blind Bat Brewery ThaiPA
The first collaboration between Blind Bat and New York Cork Report
Published: Monday, September 22, 2014
Drank That Local Sh*t explores the nitty-gritty of Long Island-born beers consumed by Niko Krommydas—with assistance from their creators.
ThaiPA is the first collaboration between Blind Bat Brewery and Lenn Thompson, founder and editor of New York Cork Report. While a forthcoming series of beers was announced in 2012, born from a “mutual admiration for and dedication to local food, wine and beer,” explains Thompson, brewing for the project was delayed for two-plus years. This is partly due to an ongoing—and arduous—effort by Paul Dlugokencky, owner and brewmaster of Blind Bat, to relocate the brewery from his residence in Centerport to a commercial building.
ThaiPA is a pale ale brewed with four ingredients commonly used in Thai cuisine: Thai basil, lemon basil, lemongrass, and ginger. The basils were grown by Dlugokencky’s wife, Regina, at Seedsower Farm in Centerport (a trait of Blind Bat’s beerfolio, as Long Island Potato Stout, Hell Gate Golden Ale, and Honey & Basil Ale also feature Regina-planted schtuffs), and Mary Callanan, owner of Three Castles Garden in Westbury.
Blind Bat Brewery/ThaiPA
Format: Bottle (22oz)
Super Neat Descriptors: Spicey, Lemony, Herbal, Fruity
Paul Dlugokencky: Back in 2011, Lenn Thompson asked if I would be interested in brewing an IPA he had an idea for incorporating lemongrass and Thai basil called “ThaiPA.” Since Lenn had already had my Honey & Basil Ale, he knew I was comfortable brewing with basil. Crowded schedules—balancing the day job, brewing, and an ongoing hunt for a larger space for the brewery—as well as the search for the right hop delayed the inaugural brew for much longer than I should have allowed, but Lenn proved to be more than patient. Citra came to be the hop I was looking for, and a three-barrel batch was finally brewed in August.
The Citra hops, while contributing a calculated bitterness within the range of today’s IPAs, lend more of a tropical fruit character than the palate-punishing bitterness often sought for in contemporary IPAs. Local and organic Thai basil and lemon basil grown by my wife Regina at Seedsower Farm and her farmer friend, Mary Callanan, owner of Three Castles Garden, were added to the boil, along with lemongrass. Ginger was added post-primary fermentation. With the basils, lemongrass, and ginger, ThaiPA in my mind lands somewhere in a territory on its own, rather than as strictly either an IPA or an American pale ale. The offbeat spicing lends itself to pairing with a wide variety of foods, not just Thai cuisine. Regina especially enjoyed it with pizza.
Daily Vegetables: A Good Investment?
Eating more vegetables means spending no more than two dollars a day for a few extra servings. Per person this means about an extra $700 annually to drastically improve your diet. Is this worth it? Absolutely, times 700 and more! The health benefits of eating vegetables far outweigh the minor increase in your daily budget. Adults should have a minimum of 3-5 servings of vegetables a day and children should start at 3 servings a day, but there’s really no upper limit. The health benefits of vegetables are countless: they provide an infusion of vitamins and minerals, a reduced risk of many chronic diseases, high levels of fiber and antioxidants, and anti-carcinogenic properties. On top of that, they are delicious and simple to prepare.
Ferocious, But Competition Looms
All-new Lexus RC-F is fierce contender for sports car lovers
Published: Friday, September 19, 2014
2015 Lexus RC – F, Price: $70,000 loaded
There is much to say about Lexus’ all-new RC-F, and we’ll get to most of it. But what anyone wishes to know before anything else about a sports car is A) How fast and B) How much? The answers: 0-60 in four seconds and B) Around $70,000, depending on options. How does it look? Handsome, sleek and stylish, especially if you go for Orange, like the tester I beat up points north of White Plains and up to Bear Mountain recently while keeping an eyeball out for John Law. The car packs an anxious, angry 450 horses into a 3.5 litre V-8 engine, meaning it takes off like a shot, passes like an arrow and does what you ask if it without hesitation. The RC-F’s main competitors are BMW’s M4 and Audi’s RS-5, but it’s a matter of personal taste and brand loyalty as they are all fast, gorgeous vehicles. For the 70 or so thousand with options they’re asking for the RC-F, you get tons o’ fun and a king-size dose of style and swank.
2015 Lexus RC – F, Price: $70,000 loaded
Its gorgeous, aggressive body features 19-inch wheels, cooling ducts and aerodynamic cues from Lexus’ LFA supercar, two of which I’ve punished on tracks in recent years. A spoiler activates at 50 MPH, and it’s available – along with the roof panel – in lightweight carbon-fiber if you so choose. Inside, designers borrowed heavily from themselves, nodding and sometimes directly pinching from Lexus’ IS. Race-style seats lend you that track-rat feeling, but the small rectangular mouse pad controller in between seats is an over-sensitive, niggly-wiggly gadget I could have done without.
The rear-wheel-drive version features a torque-vectoring differential that can deliver power to either rear wheel during hard use, and three dynamic modes allow the driver to choose either highway comfort or missile-like settings. At about 18 miles per gallon, you’ll have to make that choice based on where the next station is or if you become quickly addicted to the speed and accuracy this car offers. Time will tell if the RC-F blasts off sales-wise, but upon introduction, it carves a unique, admirable place at the sports car table.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup – Friday Sept. 19
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!
Amazon’s Fire Sale!
No, Amazon warehouses have not burned down. It’s just that their new FirePhone, despite all the hype and cute television campaign, is not flying off the shelves as they had hoped. So, if you’re Jeff Bezos what do you do? You have a fire sale…Literally! Now, for just 99 cents you can have the new FirePhone, with the coveted Prime Membership as well as other bells and whistles Amazon will throw in. Get more details here.
Don’t travel without your Mate
If you travel a lot, or you are constantly on the road working and can’t live without your phone, laptop, or Wi-Fi…have we got a device for you! The TripMate Elite is more than a portable battery pack and battery level checker. It has 2 USB ports, Internet and LAN indicators, there’s an Ethernet port which also acts as a wireless router. The unit also acts as your own personal cloud device for transferring and sharing files between devices, with a built-in two-prong power adaptor for easy plug-ability. Now, if it could only make rental-car reservations…then you’d have something! Learn more here.
Send a Bud to your Bud
Your old college roommate moved to Chicago and today is his birthday! Now what? Why not head over to Facebook and buy him a drink!?! Budweiser is testing a clever idea, in Chicago and Denver, where Facebook users can send a birthday “gift code” to a friend that he or she can then redeem at their local watering hole for a free Bud or Bud Light. Fulfillment guru’s gratafy.com, have partnered with Budweiser to make this happen. No gift wrap required!
Since the release of the iPhone 6 and automatic addition of the new U2 record to our iPhones and iTunes libraries, customers have been flooding help desks trying to find a way to remove this blasted thing! Luckily we found the fix you’ve been looking for. Click here for step by step instructions.
OFF THE WALLS Block Party Saturday
Five hours of live music, dancing, food and art in Huntington Station
Published: Thursday, September 18, 2014
The Huntington Arts Council-affiliated SPARKBOOM initiative presents OFF THE WALLS II, a block party/street fair on Saturday from 1-6pm. After the success of last year’s event, SPARKBOOM has decided to rock the Huntington Station block again with free live performances from local bands like Nonstop to Cairo, Motion Ocean, Slang, KB Jones & The Kontraband and Jarred “AllStar.”
At 1520 New York Avenue (Mt. Calvary Holy Church of Huntington) you can also find Latin dancing presented by Sol y Sombra Spanish Dance Company: salsa, Argentine tangos and rumbas. There will also be a free BMX stunt show at the festival, and Mt. Calvary will be barbecuing food with proceeds going to the church.
But let’s not forget the art! ‘Off the Walls’ is named for street art and Lucienne Pereira will be painting an interactive mural at Huntington Deli. The 30 plus art vendors include handmade jewelry by Ali Herrmann, Deborah Porretto and Donna Saladino-Irvine, and photography by Kristen Vetter.
A Long Island native, Vetter has a BFA in Fine Arts, Psychology and Photography and her most recent work focuses on “the varied perceptions within an environment” based on her travels to Israel, Egypt and Jordan:
“My series of photographs, captured in an area synonymous with conflict, are full of contrasting elements: beauty, devastation, and the mundane,” said Vetter. “I document architecture and people within their environments. I then manipulate each image by hand with drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture to emphasize aspects of growth, change, and transition. The images that are created from this process emphasize empathy, and careful looking to offer clues to our common ancestry, common daily practices and struggles.”
Vetter will be selling some pieces like the enigmatic ‘Contemplation,’ a long exposure digitally taken “to emphasize the little nuances that we go through during bursts of emotion.”
‘Contemplation’ by Kristen Vetter
Digital photograph on Rives BFK and mono-print, 21’’ x 14’’ Digital photograph on Rives BFK, pastel, charcoal, matte varnish, 50’’ x 30’’
Suggested donation: $5 for the Block Party; For more info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1467771493474989/
Son Versus Son on ‘Extant’
The freshman series delivers an intense finale
The intro to each episode of “Extant” tells us that “this is a story about Earth, a story about family, a story about surviving” and that is never truer than it is in the final episode of the first season. In many ways this episode also loops around to the beginning of the show as Molly Woods (Halle Berry) returns from a solo mission to space not alone and her husband, John (Goran Visnjic) attempts to discover just how much humanity their android son, Ethan (Pierce Gagnon) has obtained. The answer to the latter might just determine whether or not mankind becomes extinct.
The finale is focused squarely on the Woods family with the supporting characters pushed to the background or not appearing at all. This serves to make the proceedings more personal and intimate while at the same time tying off the larger story threads. This show has always been about Molly and John fighting to keep their family together and Ethan struggling to find out his role in that fight. It’s only fighting that all three play a key role in the ultimate resolution.
While Molly faces the threat head on in space aboard the Seraphim station, John shows Ethan what it really means to have faith, trust and love in another human being. Ethan become more human than human as, ultimately, it all comes down to son versus son with the android making the most human choice of all. The otherworldly son tries to sabotage everything on Earth while its spore-based brethren attempt to invade the Earth. The two wind up in a stand-off that is superbly written and acted and is perhaps the defining moment of the entire series.
Of course, there are a few unanswered questions, such as the fate of Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada), although it can probably be assumed that his time finally ran out off-screen. Also uncertain is what is to become of Sparks (Michael O’Neill). Presumably he has a future of incarceration that will probably be longer than the rest of his life. Then there is the final hook at the end of the danger of the “Offspring” still being very clear and present on Earth.
“Extant” prevails as a wonderful drama, an emotional family tale and as the very best of science-fiction. At its core it explores the human condition in several ways. We get to see the desire to connect on an emotional level to other beings. We see the innate compulsion to do whatever it takes to survive even while staring mortality right in the face. And we explore what science-fiction has always explored, the question of what it means to be human. What a wonderful journey “Extant” has been in looking at ourselves.
CBS has yet to announce whether or not “Extant” will return for a second season. The ratings dropped significantly after the premiere, but levelled off by episode four and remained respectable for the remaining installments. It should be noted that the overall story reaches a very satisfactory end, so should there be more episodes there is still the feeling of a complete story having been told. I suspect it will all come down to money and any number of other unpredictable factors, but I, for one, hope we haven’t seen the last of the Woods family.
Book Review: ‘Cosby: His Life and Times’
Learn what that TV show almost was
Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2014
For many years, you spent every Thursday night in the living room of a friend - and you never left your easy chair.
Those Thursday nights were appointments you wouldn’t think of missing, and you always left with a smile. The Huxtable family was just like your family. And in the new book “Cosby: His Life and Times” by Mark Whitaker, you’ll learn what that TV show almost was, and more.
William Henry Cosby, Jr. was born into a storytelling family.
Though his father was mostly absent, young Cosby was heavily influenced by his paternal grandfather, a spiritual man who loved telling Bible stories. Cosby sometimes had a hard time understanding his grandfather’s Southern accent, but the elder man’s methods of holding an audience stuck with him forever.
c.2014, Simon & Schuster $29.99 / $35.95 Canada 544 pages
After dropping out of high school, and once home from a stint in the Navy (where he worked in the Hospital Corps and got his GED), Cosby left Philadelphia and headed to New York City.
There, he slept on the storeroom floor of a Greenwich Village club, and performed on a rickety stage beneath a leaky ceiling. Eventually, it paid off: word got around that he was a funny guy, one who didn’t rely on profanity or racial material to get laughs. Cosby soon had a manager, a wife, and a seat next to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.
For Cosby, personally, it was a golden time: his comedy career was soaring, he was starring in a TV crime-drama, and he’d become a father. Offstage, however, the nation was working its way through the Civil Rights Movement and for Cosby, that created a stronger urge to help his “people.” As much as possible, he insisted on hiring more African Americans backstage, and assisted many in their show-business careers. He was also fierce about education (he had once wanted to be a teacher), and created children’s programming with that in mind.
In 1984, having heard that Bill Cosby was open to the possibility of a sitcom, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner asked for a meeting. They had something in mind for a different kind of comedy.
Cosby had some ideas of his own…
Reading “Cosby: His Life and Times” is kind of like visiting your childhood on paper. Who among us hasn’t felt like we’ve always known Fat Albert and the Huxtable family? Who didn’t want to run away and live with Cliff and Claire?
Not many, I’d guess, and that’s why readers will be surprised at what author Mark Whitaker uncovered. Not only are we treated to the good in Cosby’s life, but Whitaker includes the warts, both onstage and off, as well as the what-ifs within Cosby’s career – and I just couldn’t get enough of it. What if, for instance, Cliff Huxtable had been a limo driver?
Are you shaking your head now? Me, too, as I devoured this comfort-food biography – and if that sounds tasty to you, then here’s your next book. Grab “Cosby: His Life and Times” and head for your easy chair.
“Unforgettable” Faces a “DOA”
Has Carrie Wells solved her final case?
Published: Tuesday, September 16, 2014
“Unforgettable” chose to up the stakes in its final hour of season by putting not only one of the team in jeopardy, but by making the potential victim the lead character by poisoning Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery). And while Al Burns (Dylan Walsh) raced to find the antidote and culprit in time, we were all left guessing the outcome almost to the end. However satisfying the resolution was the biggest of all still remains unanswered, namely whether or not the show will be returning for another season.
It’s hardly surprising that the episode and season didn’t end on a cliffhanger. This isn’t a show that requires a “previously on” montage at the beginning. Any sort of serialized storytelling was abandoned when “Unforgettable” got an unlikely reprieve after being cancelled following its freshman year. Becoming a standard case-of-the-week procedural actually played to the show’s strengths and gave it new life, literally. Thankfully, the producers honored that change and respected the fans by sticking to their guns and giving us a fine wrap up to the end of the season.
That’s not to say they don’t play with the premise of the series in a new and interesting way. Carrie is exposed to a deadly nerve toxin in the opening moments, but the possibility of imminent death is not the worse fate for our heroine. As she confides to those around her, including ME Joanne Webster (Jane Curtin), the thing that is killing her is also robbing her of the thing that has defined her whole life, her gift to remember everything that she experiences. That becomes even more frustrating as it prevents her from recalling vital clues that lead to her would-be killers.
Ultimately, the good guys prevail, just without the standard season finale/season premiere two-parter that this type of story usually entails. Obviously, no one is expected to believe that a series will kill off its lead character. Yes, there are extenuating circumstances, such as an actor leaving a show or the certainty of cancelation. In the case of “Unforgettable” the leads are almost certainly under a long-term contract and Montgomery seems to be very happy playing Carrie. That just leaves the ever-present cancellation question that every show faces.
Much like the closing moments of the season gave us an upbeat and hopeful moment with Carrie and Al, so, too, should be the future prospects of seeing what they get up to next. The finale was a dynamite end to a solid season with our lead actress in particular giving and exceptionally strong performance. It is rare to see Carrie unsure and losing control and Montgomery just really went for it and showed off her acting chops. Everyone else got to show a different side to their characters as they faced the most personally difficult of cases and “Unforgettable” was the better for it.
Looking at the ratings, the series performed slightly lower than last year. Taking into account that it is a summer show, it still performed well enough to expect it will get a fourth season nod. CBS seemed to think there was enough of an audience to reverse its initial cancellation decision and it seems more reasonable to keep with something that is a guaranteed audience draw than to try something brand new in the same slot. I wouldn’t be surprised that by the time you are reading this CBS has already given the thumbs up for season 4. Either way, “Unforgettable” ends the year on a high note and its head held high.
Join The Amigos Band for Dinner in NYC
Monthly residency begins Friday at Greenwich House Music School
Published: Monday, September 15, 2014
“The Amigos are brilliant improvisers and have so much collective positive energy that during the first 14-hour day I spent with them in the studio, I forgot that I would soon be 83. Their music… is for all ages from toddlers to my contemporaries, who will abandon the shuffleboard courts, come to hear them and go home feeling like a teenager again.”
—Beat Generation composer/musician David Amram
The Amigos Band with David Amram (l). Image: Richard Velasco
What could be better than (homemade) food, (free) wine and (good) music? Beginning Friday, The Amigos Band (think ensemble singing, dancing, folk, zydeco and bebop solos) will host a monthly themed music party, jam session and potluck dinner at Greenwich House Music School. The New York-based Americana band: Sam Reider (accordion, vocals), Justin Poindexter (guitar, vocals), Noah Garabedian (bass) and Will Clark (drums) is often joined by founding Amigos member saxophonist Eddie Barbash (now with Jon Batiste and Stay Human), Mr. Amram and other special guests from the NYC music community.
“Our goal with The Amigos Family Dinner is to build up a grassroots community of ‘Amigos’ in New York who are interested in exploring the intersections between American roots music styles and to engage with new fans through fun, educational and celebratory events,” said Reider. “We thought that paying tribute to the ‘hootenannies’ made famous by Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Odetta and Leadbelly would be the perfect way to get this new Greenwich Village series started with a bang—and who better to help us invoke their spirit than our good friend, David Amram?”
In last October’s Pulse, The Amigos discussed their latest album, Diner in the Sky, which Amram co-produced. The record consists of originals that harken back to Amram’s Beat Generation, along with fresh arrangements of folk standards like “The Wayfaring Stranger,” “Hey Joe” and “The California Blues,” a Jimmie Rodgers classic once adapted by Woody Guthrie. Future themes in the monthly performance series at GHMS include: Horny Folk: Brass and Reeds in American Music, Drum Thunder, and a Folk Music Dance Party with an Appalachian folk dance lesson.
Who: The Amigos Band with special guest David Amram. and others tba
What: The Amigos Family Dinner party. Potluck dinner and all-you-can-drink wine, with a tribute to four pillars of folk music. There will be an Amigos-led jam session on songs of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Odetta and Leadbelly. Bring your instruments.
Where: Greenwich House Music School, 46 Barrow St., New York, NY
When: Friday, September 19th, from 7 to 9pm (all ages)
Cost: Recommended donation: $5, and a food item to share for dinner
The Healthy Truth About Organic Food
The term organic can be used to describe virtually any product these days, from vegetables to makeup and even footwear. Organic is usually used to describe food that has been grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical ripening agents, irradiation or genetic modification. Have studies shown that those who consume organic food have better health compared to those who consume regular food? No, the nutrient profiles of organic and non-organic foods don’t differ very much and no long-term studies have been able to show any long-term health benefits. On the other hand, it is true that organic food has lower pesticide levels than non-organic food does. Unfortunately, the scientific jury is still out on whether organic foods carry less of a long-term cancer risk because of this. The choice is up to you.
Start Sharing the News
Social media vs. traditional media…who wins?
Published: Friday, September 12, 2014
Call it what you like old media, broadcast outlets, the Beltway press, mainstream media, or my current favorite…corporate media.
Whatever ways you choose to get your news remember, some of your favorite social media platforms can often supply you with more in-depth news coverage than you ever thought possible!
This is Only a Test
Try this…next time news breaks, there’s a huge weather event, or a national story unfolds don’t reach for the TV remote…go to your PC or smartphone and open your favorite social media app. You’ll be surprised at the different reports, varied opinions and expanded coverage you’ll see.
Don’t settle for the same old boring news coverage and talking points that come from network television and cable news channels. Check out the conversations that are taking place online! Doing this will help you generate new opinions or conclusions about a particular story or event.
But remember, be a shrewd consumer of news and information. Search for your own answers, don’t just take what you see on-line and run with it—that’s how rumors get started.
Fill your News Feeds with Real News
Here are some suggestions to help you get the most out of your social media news gathering experience.
First, know this. Not all social media outlets are best for obtaining news and information. You wouldn’t want to (let’s say), go to Pinterest for breaking news. You may get more of what you’re searching for from Twitter or Google+.
Here’s a tip! An easy way to find things quickly is by using hashtags. Hashtags are an easy way to cull through the noise on Twitter, Google and Facebook. Here’s how to do it: locate the search bar at the top of the platform of your choice and type (for example; #iphone6, #joanrivers or #ukraine) and revel as your feed fills up with the latest up-to-the-minute information.
Here’s more! Locate the people and topics that interest you and “friend” or “follow” them so you can monitor their posts. For instance, why not follow your favorite member of congress or the police department in your area? Believe it or not, most politicians, local entities and organizations have a strong social media presence and they update their accounts on a regular basis.
Last tip…place these people you’ve just followed in “groups” or “lists” so you can quickly see their updates in one neat and cozy information stream.
Independent Media Rules
It is no secret that real reporting and investigative journalism at the mainstream level are almost extinct. Network news departments and entertainment divisions have seemed to merge—virtually overnight! Production budgets, that used to send reporters and news gathering crews to where news was happening, have all but dried up. These days, advertisers appear to have more influence over the content you see and hear than the actual station managers or news directors. Networks usually end up playing it safe and delivering watered down versions of the news.
New Media, No Rules, Fresh Faces
Believe it or not, some of your favorite TV personalities and broadcasters have made the switch to digital properties. Katie Couric has a show on Yahoo Screen and Larry King has reappeared on YouTube. There are literally dozens of news and opinion programs that can be found on the internet, many speak truth-to-power and are doing their best to inform and enlighten the public well beyond what corporate teleprompter jockeys can provide.
Remember the key is to learn more, share valuable content and most of all…have fun!
If you want more suggestions on people and programs to friend or follow, just leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you with our list of some of the best the internet has to offer.
Fusion’s Recent Redesign’s a Winner
Family car offers comfort, room, precision
2014 Ford Fusion SE
Base price: $23,935
The Fusion is a great Ford, but I’ve never driven a test model that produced an avalanche of public comment. It was a pleasant surprise, then, that the receptionist at the doctor’s office I visited instantly pegged my ride and offered compliments galore. With its three assertive hood trim lines, integrated spotter mirrors, chrome grille and more than a passing resemblance to Aston-Martin, the Fusion has flavor, style and, dare we say, a respectable helping of badass.
The Fusion got a complete redesign last year, including a more efficient turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with EcoBoost making 181 horsepower and 185 lb.-ft. of torque, a slight increase from the previous model’s 177 hp. and 184 lb.-ft. The new engine’s more powerful but it also peaks at a higher rpm. From a dead stop, this equals feeble acceleration, but once you get rolling you can squeeze a respectable amount of power out of it. The standard shift has been done away with, as in many modern cars, simply because fewer and fewer people say they want them.
The Fusion’s also got stop-start technology, surprising for a car in this price range. Mileage is approximately 23.5 miles per gallon. It’s available in three trim levels: the S, SE, and Titanium. Three different engines are available as well as front-wheel or all-wheel drive..
Inside, there is plenty of headroom, and a longer wheelbase means more footroom as well. Quality of materials – cloth, knobs, controls and such - is above average for this price, and the cabin’s pleasingly quiet. The trunk is spacious at 16 cubic feet and there are nooks and crannies galore in the cockpit including a stow space under the center stack, bottle holders in the doors and a generous glove box. Finally, the Fusion has one of the best safety assessments in any sedan, with 5-star ratings from IIHS in crash tests. You won’t crash, though – the Fusion’s got a well-tuned steering system that handled everything I threw at it – cornering, sharp K-turns and brief but intense abuse.
You’re either a Ford person or you’re not, but the 2014 makes a convincing case to cheat on your Civic or Corolla. We won’t tell.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup – Friday Sept. 12
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!
IKEA goes High Tech
The folks at IKEA have managed to take their now famous paper catalogue, adored by millions of customers worldwide, to the next level. Well, sort of. Satisfying the digital community is hard but IKEA has found a way to appeal to even their harshest critics. Behold…the release of IKEA’s new BookBook.
Pay Per View?
Verizon has plans to release an Internet only TV service where customers pay only for the Channels they want to watch. No more shelling out your hard earned cash for hundreds of stations you’ll never see when “Pay-Per-Channel” is on the menu! The details are still being fleshed-out as Verizon waits to see what other service providers are going to do, but their soft launch is scheduled for mid 2015. I’ve got my credit card ready!
Internet Slowdown Day
We’ve all heard the term Net Neutrality but how many readers actually know what’s at stake? Well, hanging in the balance is your ability to watch an HD video on YouTube, or a feature film on Netflix without interruption or extra charges and fees! If the FCC gets its way, you won’t be able to load a photo rich site quickly, apply for a job, or shop at a small retailer online because some of these sites will be relegated to the slow lane. Don’t look now, it’s been happening already…learn more here.
It’s a Beautiful Day
No Tech Round Up would be complete without talking about the release of the new iPhone6, iPhone6 Plus, the Apple Watch and the new ApplePay system all unleashed on the same day. Of course, there are pros and cons that can be found with the new products. So, to keep folks happy while they work out the kinks, every Apple subscriber gets the new U2 record for free! Apple’s new slogan? If you don’t like our phone, keep the CD as our gift to you.
Book Review: ‘Five Days Left’
Mara Nichols has five days to wrap up her life
Published: Thursday, September 11, 2014
Grandma was right. Darn it.
Every year, when November rolled around and you longed for the holidays, she told you not to wish your life away. Time moved fast enough, she said, and it went faster the older you get.
Back then, a week lasted forever; today, you blink and where did it go? And in the new novel “Five Days Left” by Julie Lawson Timmer, even that’s not enough time.
Texas lawyer Mara Nichols always did her research.
It was something she prided herself on – until Huntington’s Disease robbed her of her moods, memory, and then her job. What horrified her more than this loss of identity, though, was that, if her disease progressed as she understood it, she would lose control of her body more and more, little by little, until there was no Mara left. She’d be a burden to her husband, Tom, and an embarrassment for their daughter, Lakshmi – and that, to Mara, was unacceptable.
Four years prior, when she received her diagnosis and knew what was to come, she made a decision: if symptoms progressed beyond a certain point, she would take her own life. That was best – a gift, really – for her parents, and for Tom and Laks.
She could never tell them this, but they’d understand later.
She now had five days to wrap up her life.
Laurie Coffman always wanted a family but fostering a grade-school child from inner-city Detroit wasn’t what she had in mind – particularly since she was pregnant with her first baby. For her husband, Scott, though, having Curtis for a year was so incredibly rewarding.
It had been a challenge, for sure; Scott was happy to get advice from friends on an online forum, and it really helped him and Laurie to raise Little Man. Scott fell hard for Curtis in the past, fleeting year, but he never forgot one thing.
Curtis wasn’t his son. And in five days, the boy would return to his mother…
Here’s one thing you might as well warm up to: you will cry when you read “Five Days Left.” You. Will. Cry.
First-time author Julie Lawson Timmer hasn’t merely just penned a good novel; she leaps out of the chute here with this keeps-you-guessing story of two people who have a finite time – real or imagined - to spend with those they love. It’s that guessing part, the will-she-won’t-she on Mara’s behalf, and the frustration from Scott that kept me turning pages well into the night. I also found myself wondering what I’d do if I was in their shoes, which led me to ignore my clock as I got wrapped up in their lives and this story – and if that’s not the mark of an exceptional novel, well, then I don’t know what is.
This is one of those winners that’ll be passed from reader to fan to book group and beyond. It’s a novel that people will buzz about awhile. Start it, and I think you’ll agree that “Five Days Left” is a right fine read.
Long Island + Sixpoint = Furever
Two Long Island collaborations at Sixpoint's Beer for Beasts on Saturday
I already purchased my ticket to Beer for Beasts on Saturday, but I must reiterate: I can’t attend the annual two-session event organized by Sixpoint and Beer Advocate, which has awesomely raised nearly $100,000 for the Humane Society of New York since 2011. Though I proudly paid to donate to the not-for-profit veterinary hospital and no-kill shelter, an iCloud of sorrow continues to linger over my brainspace, as I will regrettably miss 35 exclusive and peculiar beers from Sixpoint—including two with a connection to Long Island. I conveyed this quandary to my cat, Miles Davis, who, following a three-hour meditative loaf, recommended a potential remedy: revisit the source of bummedness with positivity.
I agreed to attempt his treatment, so I will shift focus to discuss the aforementioned pair.
The first is Boo’s Brew, a collaboration with the area’s chapter of Girls’ Pint Out, self-described as a “national craft beer organization for women.” There are 60 members in Long Island’s, founded by Lauri Spitz in 2011, including Julie Henken and Melissa Meier. Spitz, now co-owner of Moustache Brewing Company in Riverhead, relinquished her presidency to the duo to focus on the two-barrel brewery in March.
“We were brainstorming awesome things to do to promote the group and I remembered that Lauri and Matt [Spitz] brewed with Sixpoint for last year’s event,” says Meier, referring to I Can Haz Orange Chocolate Milk Stout?. “I emailed Heather [Reynolds, brewer at Sixpoint] to start the process. She immediately signed on.”
Boo’s Brew isn’t the first collaboration involving Girls’ Pint Out on Long Island: HiHo Belgian Pale was made with BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant in April. The chapter desired “something feminine and related to kitties” for Beer for Beasts, says Meier, opting for a wheat beer with blueberries and lavender (the latter was sourced from Lavender by the Bay in East Marion). It’s named for Meier’s cat, Boo.
“We wanted a basic wheat base so the lavender and blueberry could shine and take center stage,” Henkin says. “We steeped the lavender after boiling, while blueberries were added during secondary fermentation. It should have some nice floral notes up front with some tartness to follow.”
(L-R) Adam Zuniga, brewer at Sixpoint, and Sean Redmond, brewer at Barrier Brewing Company. Image: Sean Redmond
While Boo’s Brew was hatched from furballs and cuteness, the event’s other Long Island-connected beer, Raining Beets, was inspired by a thrashy and tenebrous source: Slayer. A riff on the seminal metal band’s 1986 album, Reign in Blood, Raining Beets is a beet-infused collaboration between Sixpoint and Oceanside’s Barrier Brewing Company, owned by Evan Klein and Craig Frymark. Both started their beer careers at the Brooklyn-based brewery before re-teaming at their 30-barreler, opened by Klein in 2009. It was Sean Redmond, a brewer at Barrier, however, who visited their former home in Red Hook to make the blood-colored beer with Sixpoint’s Adam Zuniga. They’re homeboys.
“It’s a mix between a big blonde ale and a pale ale to let the beets shine both in flavor and color,” says Redmond. “We used beet juice in the whirlpool. It’s a good fermentable sugar probably with a sweet taste. Slayer was playing during the entire brewday. We’re both huge fans. It was a lotta fun.”
Boo’s Brew and Raining Beets will both pour at Beer for Beasts to benefit the Humane Society of New York. Tickets are available now.
Téa Leoni Takes Office This Fall
“Madam Secretary” brings familiar faces back to TV
Téa Leoni returns to a regular television role for the first time in more than 15 years in the highly anticipated “Madam Secretary,” CBS’s new political drama. Leoni is not the only veteran actor returning as Tim Daly, Željko Ivanek and Bebe Neuwirth also star while Keith Carradine will be around on a recurring basis and William Sadler makes a guest appearance. Additionally, “Joan of Arcadia” and “Homeland” co-executive producer Barbara Hall created the series and serves in an executive producer role along with Morgan Freeman. Yes, that Morgan Freeman.
“Madam Secretary” features Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst who is asked by the President (Carradine) to be Secretary of State following the death of her predecessor. Her team includes Chief of Staff Nadine Tolliver (Neuwirth), Matt Mahoney (Geoffrey Arend), Daisy Grant (Patina Miller) and assistant Blake Moran (Erich Bergen). She frequently does battle with the President’s Chief of Staff Russell Jackson (Ivanek) and finds solace in the company of supportive husband, Henry (Daly), and their two children, Alison (Katherine Herzer) and Jason (Evan Roe). Sadler plays McCord’s former CIA colleague, George, who provides a little bit of intrigue along the way.
Of course, what you all are wondering is if the show is any good. The pilot, while sometimes a little uneven in pacing, is highly enjoyable and an excellent start. We get some great introductions to McCord and her family with emphasis on their family dynamic. The other main characters get to show what they are made of, too, as the episode unfolds. Carradine’s President of the United States is perhaps a little flat and one dimensional, but this show isn’t about him, so that is forgivable. The shining stars here are Leoni and Ivanek who have a chemistry that threatens to overshadow the one between Leoni and her on-screen husband.
The story is pretty much by the numbers even if the performances will make you not care. McCord is entering the world of good ol’ boy politics where she is coached to basically keep her mouth shut. She is an unwelcome guest in a job suddenly vacated by a well-liked Secretary and most consider her a temporary lame-duck office holder, even some of her own staff. She, of course, is presented with opportunities to show her stuff and prove herself capable and even winning the, sometimes, grudging respect of those around her. There is even suspicions raised about the death of the previous Secretary which gives us an ongoing menacing mystery.
However, it is all wrapped up in a neat little package that can’t helped but be liked. Everyone is at the top of their game. All of the actors give us real and convincing performances. Hall’s writing, even if slightly pedestrian, gets the job done better than most pilots and at least left me interested in coming back for more episodes. The director, David Semel, helps to sell the whole thing as he expertly handles the actors and gives us some wonderful shots. Semel won an Emmy for his work on the pilot to “Heroes” a few years back so he’s proven he knows how to kick things off.
CBS has wisely slotted this new series in between “60 Minutes” and “The Good Wife” on Sundays. This is a huge sign of good faith and a shrewd move as audiences now have a reason to just leave their TVs locked in to CBS for all of Sunday night. All three series return on September 21 starting at 7:00 PM. Make your plans now to be home and tuned in.
Summer Finales to Fall Premieres
British Invasion on the Island
Gerry Marsden on the enduring appeal of his music
Published: Wednesday, September 10, 2014
On Sunday, Sept., 14 at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury at 8pm, the British Invasion Tour 2014 will feature Gerry & the Pacemakers, Chad & Jeremy, Billy J. Kramer, Mike Pender’s Searchers and Denny Laine. Gerry & the Pacemakers, who scored three number one singles during the British Invasion and like the Beatles were managed by Brian Epstein and produced by George Martin was the first band to follow in the Beatles’ footsteps in conquering America and then the world in the mid 60s. The groups scored three other hits that reached the Top 10, including “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” and the iconic “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” which became emblematic of the allure and romance of the birth-place of The Beatles and the Liverpool music scene.
Gerry Marsden remains the youthful face and voice of the group. He turns 72 this month and from his home in England discussed the enduring appeal of his music and his fellow Liverpudlians
Long Island Pulse: Gerry & the Pacemakers came up almost at the exact time as the Beatles.
What was your earliest memory of any of the Beatles? Did you know them around Liverpool as school-age children?
Gerry Marsden: I first met the Beatles when we were teenagers with our skiffle groups, We played a lot of the same shows and John (Lennon) went on to be one of my closest friends, even though on stage We were great rivals.
LIP: Did any of the members of the group ever play with the Beatles?
GM: We were on the same bill one night at one of the shows so just for a laugh we all played on stage together and we called ourselves “The Beatmakers,” which is obviously a mix of both groups names.
LIP: Your group had many parallels to the Beatles. Could you give some insights into your experiences in these areas and how they were the same or different than the Beatles?
GM: We both played at the Cavern Club but in the lunchtime session at the Cavern was originally a Jazz club. Paul McCartney and I went down to the Cavern to see if we could play there. Once the owner realized how busy it was at lunchtimes with people queuing down the road to get in, then he decided to forget about the Jazz and we then got to play in the evenings. Also, we took turns most of the time playing Hamburg at two different clubs and the Cavern. But quite a few times we would both be in Hamburg at the same time. That’s when John and I would hang around together. We were also signed and managed by Brian Epstein. Brian came down to the Cavern to see what the Beatles and the Pacemakers were about. Paul and I used to go to get Rock ‘n’ Roll records from America from Brian’s shop. He asked us why we wanted them and we told him we played in groups at the Cavern. He came to the Cavern and saw how the audience were reacting and asked the Beatles if he could manage them. He then approached me saying he could get the Beatles work and a recording contract so could he manage us too. Of course I said yes. We were also produced by George Martin and recorded at Abbey Road (then EMI studios). George was a talented man but he had mainly worked with orchestras. That was great in the long term though because of his use of stings on our recordings. He made sure he got the best out of both groups no matter how long it took.
LIP: What was happening in Liverpool when the Beatles finally broke in America?
How did Liverpool musical artists and fans feel about the Beatles breaking through?
GM: Of course everyone was excited and happy for them, because it gave hope to all the other bands working around Liverpool. Up to 500 bands were in Liverpool at the time both known but a lot more unknown hoping for their big break.
LIP: Talk about your early hits, starting with “How Do You Do It,” which the
Beatles turned down.
GM: “How Do You Do It” was the first of my three consecutive number One hits, It was written by Mitch Murray but it was offered to another singer called Adam Faith before being offered to the Beatles. John turned it down saying they wanted to sing their own songs. He said to Brian and George Martin “Give it to Gerry he’ll do it.” The rest was history as they say.
LIP: Your group turned down recording “Hello Little Girl,” which was written by the Beatles. Why did you turn it down and what did you think of the Fourmost version?
GM: I turned down “Hello Little Girl” which John wrote because I wanted to do more of a ballad type song. I wasn’t sure if that would have been the right song for us, but it gave the Fourmost a chance so good came out of it.
LIP: How did the group come to record “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and what was the recording process like?
GM: “Ferry Cross the Mersey” came about because it was the title track of the film we made. I wrote all the songs for the film but the title song was the hardest one to come up with because it had to be Ferry “Cross” and not Ferry “Across,” which would have been easier to write. It took me months to come up with it but when I did I wrote it in about 15minutes and when I went down to record it in the studio I did it in one take.
LIP: Talk about the writing and recording of “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying.”
GM: I wrote the song while I was in Germany. I’d split up with my girlfriend Pauline (who is now my wife) so I wondered how I could get her back, so I wrote the song and sent it to her on a tape. She listened to it and of course wanted me back (laughs).
Kiss Naked or Decked Out
Published: Tuesday, September 09, 2014
The lips take center stage this season, and color choices are not so personal. Everyone is going with the same two tones; nude and crimson. You have only one thing to consider – blend in with a nude, or feature the lips in all their puckering glory.
So what comes first - the fashion or the beauty? The answer is fashion, of course. Usually makeup and hair trends generate when designers request certain looks from makeup stylists to complement the collections. If you had a moment to take in this season’s style lineup for your favorite designer you may know the focus is structure and flair in any choice of fashion fabric. Ruffles, vinyl, busy geometric prints, and radiant materials are the makeup no matter if it’s black and white or floral prints. Yes, you will see floral this season with a more seasonal color palette. With that in mind, the designers request and approve face charts that will truly highlight their work.
Designs are chic, so a more sophisticated look works. Think images of beauties with clean faces, the classic movie star adorning the perfectly lined naked or scarlet lip. Two glamour girls who come to mind are Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansen. Everyone can wear three lip shades no matter the skin tone, and those are red, nude, and a violet. Believe it or not, the most adaptable and non-discriminatory color is the lighter shade of purple. Still, I do not see women running to buy this shade. I understand it is a blind leap for many, but one I highly recommend. If you feel this look is for you follow some tips and tricks.
How to pull off the beauty trends for fall:
• No Fuss Eyes: Keep it natural with light and neutral shades. Get the definition from the mascara and liner.
• Gentle Cheeks: Forego the blush, and bronze up the cheeks for a contoured yet still soft skin-like look.
• Lips: Choose a nude that mimics barely there or the opposite; a color that creates a high contrast to your own skin tone. Red and red-browns work best. Purples will look great but requires attitude so they are not for everyone.
• Slick Hair: High pony tails, tight braids, and parts are hot. Again, a clean but sexy look works best when the outfit grabs all the attention, think the complete opposite of pageant or prom hair.
• Who: This look works best on women who look 40 or under. I say look younger because no one looks their true age anymore, 10 to 20 years younger. Someone please share with me this hidden location of this fountain of youth and beauty.
I consulted hair stylist Thomas Murray of Borte Salon in East Northport on how to achieve hair trends that involve pulled back tight pony tails and braids to go with the makeup style.
“For a high pony tail, follow cheekbones up to the crown and secure. It’s that simple. The sock bun is another great style to wear this season. Think Robert Palmer and his music video,“Addicted to Love.”
Hot this season:
$32, NARS Audacious Lipstick Collection is here! Thirty new creamy matte full cover shades that last and feel great. Check them out at www.narscosmetics.com
Makeup lines have not held back this season, and in my opinion, given us some of their best products. Finding the right colors for you will not be a challenge. Have fun with these looks, and try them on for size always keeping in mind your own comfort levels.
Recipe: Glazed OREO Bars
Simple, delicious and with just few ingredients
I was contemplating posting something healthy to kick off the school year, but just had to share this one with you first! (We have the whole school year to go that way!) These bars are by far (am I rhyming) one of my favorite treats ever. Why? Because they are simple, delicious and with just few ingredients. Plus they are always…and I mean ALWAYS a hit! Let me know what ya think
22 Oreo Cookies crumbled
14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
half stick of butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon milk (more if needed)
dash of vanilla
1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.) Melt butter in a baking pan and toss oreo crumbs to coat with the butter. (This will be your crust)
3.) Toss on both cups of chips and spread around. Drizzle on sweetened condensed milk all over the top of the chips.
4.) Bake for about 30 minutes or until the middle is set.
5.) In a small mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle over bars and serve.
Nic’s Tip - I like to place the entire pan in the refridgerator for about an hour before serving and then cut into squares before serving. The bars are more held together.
Summer Finales to Fall Premieres
There can be more than one who lives “Forever”
Over the next couple of weeks there will be some summer series finales to lead us straight into the fall premieres. While I will definitely be noting my favorite finales as well as those shows’ potential returns, it’s time to start looking forward. There will be a plethora of brand new shows vying for our attention and screen time, all hoping to garner enough of an audience to make it until the end of the season and beyond. Networks have long known that word-of-mouth can make or break a show before it even premieres and the importance of the Internet in that process has become more recognized.
A popular trend right now is debut a pilot online before the air date to get early attention.
ABC is banking a lot on its new crime drama “Forever.” Recently, the alphabet network put the full first episode online for streaming and on Video On Demand. The series stars Ioan Gruffudd as Doctor Henry Morgan, New York City’s star medical examiner who has a secret. Henry doesn’t just study the dead to solve criminal cases, he does it to solve the mystery that has eluded him for 200 years—the answer to his own inexplicable immortality. Henry’s best friend, Abe (Judd Hirsch) is the only person who knows his secret, a secret he must keep hidden from his new partner, Detective Jo Martinez (Alana De La Garza).
“Forever” is created by Matthew Miller, one-time Executive Producer of both “Chuck” and “Human Target” so it comes with a solid pedigree. More than that, it is a very well-done pilot. The story is tightly written with just the right amount of wit and drama with all the information we need to know packed into a superbly acted first episode. We get flashback highlights of Henry’s past wherein we see when he learned he was immortal as well as a glimpse at the love of his life from several decades past, Abigail (Mackenzie Mauzy). Jo has also lost someone, her husband, though far more recently. Thankfully, the professional team-up of Henry and Jo seems to be remaining friends-only and not forced into a romantic one, at least so far.
Gruffudd and Garza are just plain terrific as the stars of the show and carry their characters with a natural believability. There will be an obvious comparison to the main couple on “Castle,” but it remains to be seen how far the “Forever” writers take us down that road. The icing on the cake, of course, is the ever-amazing Judd Hirsch as Abe. Hirsch is such a huge talent who has recently been bouncing around from one guest star role to another for the past few years, so it is wonderful to see him in a regular role. There is a neat little revelation about his character in the closing minutes that will give you goosebumps. Check out the pilot online right away and then prepare to tune in Tuesdays at 10:00 PM to ABC starting September 22nd.
Taking a quick look at fashion, Laura Vandervoort was recently caught out in Los Angeles wearing some high-end bling. The “Bitten” star wore Melissa Lovy jewelry on the red carpet at a toast to the 2014 Film Slate hosted by Entertainment One (eOne) during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Vandervoort accessorized with Melissa Lovy’s Grace Bracelet in Gold, which features a front open bar cuff with pave stone details and can be worn alone or stacked for an ultra-glam appearance. The look is subtle, but glamorous.
'Wake up every morning and look forward to going to work'
Published: Monday, September 08, 2014
Name: Katherine Heaviside
Company Name: Epoch 5 Public Relations & Marketing
Long Island Pulse: What was the key step that really got your career underway? Was there a watershed moment that you remember as being particularly important to starting your career?
Katherine Heaviside: When I discovered that there was a job that actually paid me to write and learn new things every day, that was the moment I fell in love with public relations.
Long Island Pulse: What do you credit as the secret to your success?
Katherine Heaviside: Working with people who are better than I am in particular areas and letting them shine.
Long Island Pulse: How do you define success?
Katherine Heaviside: Success is waking up every morning and looking forward to going to work. It is never about money – it is always about enjoying what I do every day.
Long Island Pulse: Was there a particular moment in which you realized that you are exactly where you ought to be professionally or doing exactly what you were meant to do?
Katherine Heaviside: There is always the next hill to climb, so I never feel that I’m exactly where I should be.
Long Island Pulse: How do you attract and keep good employees?
Katherine Heaviside: Respect what they know and what they do. The most valuable people are those who are better than me in some area and are unafraid to criticize me when they feel I am wrong.
Long Island Pulse: What is the best way to get new business?
Katherine Heaviside: The best way to get new business is to do great work on your current business and new business will come through the door. Of course, we aggressively use public relations to tell the world of our successes and that brings in new business.
Long Island Pulse: What is the most important thing you do or tactic you use in making a sale?
Katherine Heaviside: Listen. Listen. Listen. There is nothing more effective than proposing a strategy to a client that answers their needs. The only way you can do that is by listening very carefully to what they are saying and not saying.
Long Island Pulse: How do you respond to adversity?
Katherine Heaviside: It isn’t always easy, but I try to take the attitude that adversity is a learning experience. It’s important to carefully analyze what went wrong, my role in the issue and how I could change how I handle a similar problem in the future. It’s very important to face things directly.
Long Island Pulse: How do you make yourself stand out?
Katherine Heaviside: My clients are the ones who we try to make “stand out.” When they are successful, I am successful. That said, it’s been pointed out to me that I usually wear red in large gatherings.
Long Island Pulse: What makes you different from your peers?
Katherine Heaviside: That’s hard to say. Looking at my peers I’m extremely proud of the level of talent found on Long Island. We’ve each helped raise the bar for professionalism in public relations.
Long Island Pulse: What was the most important thing you learned from other bosses you’ve had?
Katherine Heaviside: Treat the people you work with as you would like to be treated. My first boss in PR didn’t and I vowed to never be like him.
Long Island Pulse: What attracts you to the people you include in your social circle?
Katherine Heaviside: Intelligence, sense of humor, empathy and kindness.
Long Island Pulse: What qualities do you most respond to in others?
Katherine Heaviside: Passionate interests, energy, intelligence
Long Island Pulse: What qualities do you most negatively respond to in other people?
Katherine Heaviside: Arrogance, lack of a moral compass, laziness
Long Island Pulse: What makes you want to count someone as a close associate or a trusted ally?
Katherine Heaviside: I need to know that they share my appreciation for talent, results and professionalism.
Long Island Pulse: What is the moment when you knew that you made it?
Katherine Heaviside: Has anyone “made it?” Isn’t there always something exciting and new to pursue or achieve?
Long Island Pulse: What is something you do not do enough of?
Katherine Heaviside: Likely, it is just doing nothing. New information and technology is coming at us at warp speed. It’s all exciting and I want to learn as much as possible.
The Best Kind of Sleep for Us All
What qualifies as a good night’s sleep? 7-8 hours per night is ideal, preferably no more and no less. Nine or more hours of sleep may even adversely affect health by compromising the quality of a long night’s sleep. The proven benefits of a good night’s sleep are improved memory and thinking skills, a reduction in BMI (especially in children), improved memory, and decreased risks of the following diseases: dementia, depression, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Good sleep hygiene followed by a full night of sleep is a great way to begin your morning!
Underpowered but Otherwise a Winner
Published: Friday, September 05, 2014
2014 Toyota RAV4 Limited
Base price: $29,720
As tested: $32,444
The RAV4 is the even-Steven of Toyota, neither a hulking beast of metal nor a teeny why-bother. It doesn’t accelerate, corner, brake or turn with any degree of flair or unmistakable “Yup, that’s a RAV4,” but that’s not a crime because no one buys a RAV4 to race, improve their love life or to go off-roading. The 2014 model is otherwise a well-made, well-appointed SUV that handled what I threw at it over a week’s test.
Toyota’s bid sayonara to a 6-cylinder in any trim, offering instead a 4-cylinder outfitted with different configurations, none of which are turbocharged for some reason. The Limited’s 176 horsepower, 2.5 liter engine delivers 25/29 MPG city /highway respectively, not bad but not overwhelming, either, when you consider this car is likely to be full of either passengers or cargo. The good news is that after living with the car for a few days, you’ll realize it’s built for comfort, not speed, and your right foot will naturally go easy, giving you better mileage.
Speaking of comfort, it’s one of the car’s outstanding aspects, with seats seemingly tailor-made for your frame and easily adjusted, a particularly quiet cabin and plenty of room for rear passengers. The car also comes with a lot of modern features that worked perfectly without having to consult the manual, such as Bluetooth audio streaming and an especially rich audio system for which you get four new Entune audio choices, including Entune Apps Suite on up-level trims. The RAV4 also has a better-than-average safety rating, receiving a “Good” rating (highest) for 4 out of 5 criteria as indicated by the National Institute for Highway Safety. Our tester, the Limited, gets a new Technology Package option that includes Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure Alert and Auto High Beam. All-wheel-drive means you’ll ford the snow year-round; another good reason to buy.
The RAV4 isn’t as powerful as it was, but the 2014 model is solid, nice-looking and worthy of a place on a list of your possible new vehicles aimed not at flash, sizzle and power but at families, cargo room and reliability.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Sept. 5
It’s All Aces
If you look around your home or office you’re bound to see an ACER product in use. Acer, the Taiwanese computer company, has just launched a series of new tablets, tablet-PC convertibles, wearable devices, a smartphone and more! Oh, and would you look at that, just in time for holiday shopping. With way too many features and specs to mention, click here to get the low-down on the hardware that’s right for your needs. Suffice it to say they all come with high speed processors, tons of storage, gorilla glass and affordable prices. An ace for Acer!
No Cloud for You
The latest hacking scandal, and release, of celebrity skin pix has led us to realize what we all already knew…the cloud is not all it’s cracked up to be. So, let’s show the folks in Hollywood how we get things done here on the East Coast…we use our own personal cloud devices! Yes, that’s right; we’re kicking-it-old-school by using an External Hard Drive! Check out the Western Digital My Book 4TB. For less than 150 bucks…it’s no hacking, just all backing…up that is!
Don’t play with my Emoji
Emoji’s, you know ‘em, you love ‘em! Emoji’s, in case you weren’t aware, are those little glorified punctuation marks people use to express their emotions within texts, tweets and emails. Well get ready, now there’s an app (currently in development), that let’s users communicate with nothing-but-Emoji’s! No hashtags, no text, nothing. Just pure icons, pictures and fun for everyone! Click here to reserve your username before they’re all gone!
When One Door Closes…
Is there really a new way to lock and unlock the door to your home? Yes! It’s called Haven. Haven attaches to the floor and the doorframe eliminating the need for the typical deadbolt or sliding chain. Using the latest technology and engineering might, Haven utilizes the strong foundation of the door and the floor to create an impenetrable seal. In case you’re wondering, you can open and close the door using your smartphone or an electronic key similar to the one you use to open your car doors. Open says me!
“Under the Dome” Flirts with Jumping the Shark
The characters and story introduced in Zenith threatens to dilute the main story
Published: Thursday, September 04, 2014
Shortly after Scribner published the Stephen King novel “Under the Dome” in 2009 it was announced that Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Television had snagged the rights to bring the book to television as a mini-series event. Initially housed at Showtime, it would nearly three years before we would find out that CBS would finally be bringing the adaptation to our screens in the summer of 2013. Even then it was being touted as an “event” show, the implication being that it would be a done in one season limited series. The network seemed to realize it had struck gold as just before its record-breaking premiere all talk of a short run had ceased.
By the end of the first season, it was clear that the show had gone in a different direction than the book. The second season quickly made it abundantly clear that it would also go beyond the original narrative by introducing elements outside the titular dome as well enriching the mythology with revelations from the past. Even if the printed reasons for the dome eventually hold true, there is a much more elaborate conspiracy at play that goes well beyond the ill-fated Chester’s Mill and its citizenry. However, these somewhat bold story choices also bring an inherent risk that could unravel the entire show.
Already the characters and story introduced in Zenith threatens to dilute the main story. “Under the Dome” has been built as a tale about how the people of Chester’s Mill can survive cut off from the rest of the world, but what’s going on outside the dome is quickly becoming a more interesting show than the one we’ve been watching. This situation isn’t helped by the fact that the first few episodes mainly consisted of dangers of the week for everyone to overcome which in itself threatened to simplify the characters into caricatures. The new elements have been a breath of fresh air and maybe that’s the problem.
It’s possible the show would have been best served as a mini-series that gave us the best possible version of the book. It is very difficult to predict a sure-fire hit on television, but it’s easy to see when you have something special, just like CBS has with “Under the Dome.” Once your show has caught on, the unknown variable is knowing when it has overstayed its welcome.
This show’s producers have been smart in quickly recognizing the popular characters and making minor course corrections to highlight them and keep the story moving forward. I’ll readily admit that I have been highly supportive of the show continuing. I just don’t want to regret giving that support when, say, season six rolls around and the story is long past its sell-by date.
What that date is, I have no idea and I’m still willing to give everyone involved the benefit of the doubt. Showrunner Neal Baer has stated that he already has the ultimate end worked out and that he see the series going for five seasons. That’s encouraging and I sincerely hope that he gets to tell the full story. The show isn’t at the point of no return just yet, but it is revving up the motorcycle near the tank of waiting sharks. The end of the second season is not where you want that to happen. But like the good people of Chester’s Mill, except maybe Big Jim, I hold out hope that it will all work out for the best.
Isles Offer Mini-Lockers For Promos
Published: Wednesday, September 03, 2014
The Islanders recently announced they will give out mini-lockers as promotional items during the 2014-15 season. The lockers are a representation of the team’s final season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Billy Smith, Bobby Nystrom and Clark Gillies lockers will be released during the first half of the season. Expect all other players with retired numbers, as well as team captain John Tavares, to be released in the second half of the year.
Mini locker dates:
-Billy Smith, Nov. 22
-Bobby Nystrom, Dec. 6
-Clark Gillies, Dec. 13
One issue that popped up with this … Billy Smith’s locker has a regular player helmet and not a goalie mask. It’s all in the details! Let’s hope the team corrects this prior to the release in November.
The team said fans will be able to purchase merchandise that honors the history of Nassau Coliseum throughout the season.
Promo wish list
Some other items that would make sense as promos:
-Bobblehead of something historic that happened at the Coliseum (“The goal”, perhaps)
-Canvas art of a historic moment at the Coliseum
-Mini Coliseum statues (either in color or one metal tone)
-Pucks with the “Final Season” logo on them
An Isles Fan Not From Long Island
It’s possible that Islanders fans are all not from Long Island. Not individuals who moved from the area and not family members of former Long Island residents.
I never thought this was possible, but then I met an Islanders fan named Chris when I was on business in Seattle last week.
On a tour of Safeco Field, where the Mariners play, a gentleman saw my Sachem Football Long Island champions hat and immediately came over and asked if I was from the island and if I supported the New York Islanders.
We stayed talking for another five hours through the stadium tour and through a Seahawks pre-season game next door at CenturyLink field.
Chris is originally from Nova Scotia and most hockey fans from the east coast of Canada gravitate towards the Canadiens. Not Chris. He witnessed the Canadiens beat the Islanders two straight years in the semifinals in 1975-76 and 1976-77 and grew closer to the boys from Nassau than his country’s proudest franchise. He’s unique, no question.
The Islanders, who jumped onto the NHL scene in 1972, were an instant success. They made it to the semifinals of the playoffs four out of five seasons from 1974-1979 and eventually won four out of five Stanley Cup Finals from 1979-1984.
It was a very impressionable and exciting time to be an Islanders fan and Chris bought in.
Chris, who was on a road trip of the northwestern states in America, lives in Alberta now.
He has never taken a trip to Long Island or visited a home game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. That will change this year.
With the franchise moving to Brooklyn after this season, Chris vowed to make a trip to the hallowed ground on Hempstead Turnpike and visit the building where Islanders greats made the franchise one of the most successful in hockey history.
He stays up to date on the franchise with the Internet and digital media and occasionally catches them on road games in Canada.
Nothing, however, will be as special as seeing his favorite team in their friendly confines in the final year of its existence. Stay tuned for another blog about his reaction to the Coliseum after he visits this season.
“Being Miss America : Behind the Rhinestone Curtain” by Kate Shindle
c.2014, University of Texas Press $24.95 / $30.95 Canada 236 pages
Published: Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Elbow, elbow, wrist-wrist-wrist.
It’s like icing a cake with your hand, they say, and you practiced that wave aplenty when you were young. You never knew when you might find yourself walking down a long stage with roses in your arms and a crown on your head.
Millions of young women try. Only one per year becomes Miss America – most of the time. In “Being Miss America ” by Kate Shindle, you’ll peek behind the brocade curtains to learn more.
Growing up in New Jersey, in a family that often volunteered for the Miss America Organization, Kate Shindle had a first-hand, on-the-ground look at making a pageant. That knowledge obviously didn’t scare her: she later entered a local Illinois pageant, won, and won again to eventually become Miss America 1998.
Pageant fans know that the first Miss America was crowned in 1921, in an effort to keep tourists on The Boardwalk a little longer. Only one woman won the title twice (1922 and 1923). There’s been one Jewish winner (1945) and one Native American title-holder (1927), but no Muslims or lesbians (yet) to wear the crown. Scholarships weren’t given until Miss America 1943 suggested them. The pageant schedule, originally set for mid-September-ish, has often been in flux; in fact, it was completely cancelled for a few Depression-Era years.
In the beginning, there was no “platform” (it seems to have “become a thing of the past” today). Swimsuit parades clashed with feminism, racism quietly lingered as “an ugly underbelly,” countdowns were tweaked, and the pageant once endured an attempt at reality TV. Political maneuvers and corporate rules now determine things.
Today, Shindle still gets the “What was it like?” question, and it’s complicated.
At first, travelling was fun and receiving gifts was interesting. Both became tedious pretty quickly. She was happy to have a chance to work with HIV awareness, but was often instructed on what she couldn’t say. Winning the pageant was empowering, but with the growing popularity of the internet then, it was too easy to find forums filled with vitriol and even easier to fall into an eating disorder…
It’s very safe to say that the majority of us never were Miss America material. That never stopped us from dreaming, though, which is why a behind-the-scenes book like “Being Miss America ” is so fun to read.
Author Kate Shindle takes the (elbow-length) gloves off in this book, and tells the truth as she knows it: the good and bad of wearing the crown, the humor and difficulty of being an “ideal” woman, changes that title-holders have made within pageant workings, and the struggles some have endured. She does this with wit and passion, as well as with sadness; Miss America ’s future, as Shindle sees it, isn’t quite so rosy but, with work, “she can become something greater than ever.”
I liked this book for its lightly-scandalous humor and its tarnished-crown honesty, and if you’re a pageant-watcher, I think you’ll like it, too. Grab “Being Miss America ,” and you can wave the hours good-bye.
How to Keep Smiling Throughout Winter
Published: Monday, September 01, 2014
With the unofficial departure of summer this month, establishing good exercise habits is helpful in maintaining a positive mood during the wintertime. The lack of sunlight indeed has an effect on mood and energy: direct sunlight stimulates the production of the compound cholecalciferol, which is converted into active vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D helps improve mood through a variety of mechanisms. Some studies indicate that vitamin D supplementation or extra exposure to certain types of light during the winter months help to improve mood, but the results are not conclusive. On the other hand, regular exercise is proven to improve mood, so my suggestion is to shoot for thirty minutes of vigorous activity three times per week during even the dreariest winter days. Remember, you don’t have to smile only when it’s sunny outside!
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Aug. 29
Published: Friday, August 29, 2014
Hard to Say, Easy To See
Sharp is poised to deliver their new Aquos Crystal Smartphone. Unique edge-to-edge display provides the ultimate visual experience that techies have been yearning for. The phone won’t knock the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy from shelves this fall but this phone has a few hidden gems that even the most critical users will find intriguing. Worth a look when it comes to the U.S. on the Sprint network. (Release date to be announced)
Hyperlapse is Hyper Cool!
Who would’ve thought it would take a photo sharing app developer to create the most amazing video creation tool for your smartphone…Instagram has done just that!
Hyperlapse, a stand-alone video app, produces video content so smooth and slick-the final product appears to have been shot with expensive camera equipment. Simple user features and easy to share files on Instagram and Facebook make this app a must have!
Gone to the Dogs
Ever wonder what a dog really sees from that low to the ground? Well wonder no more! GoPro has just “unleashed” the new Fetch Dog Harness specifically designed to attach your GoPro camera to your dog’s back or chest. Made from flexible, washable material, it’s both comfortable for them and awesome for you. Let the games begin!
You Got Schooled
No Tech Round-Up would be complete without a techie’s guide to wearable Back-To-School Gear! From smartwatches to fitness bands this year’s biggest trend will be searching for answers to that pop-quiz or checking your heart rate without the need to pull that pesky smartphone from your backpack. Teachers are writing those memos to parents as we speak.
Electric Car Electrifies
2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL
It’s hard not to like any new electric car when you’ve begun a sweet cruise through forested roads on a clear blue day, your gauge reading a healthy, full 99 miles. That’s in the first five minutes. When you see that 99 dip to 98, 93, 88, “range anxiety” kicks in, and therein lies one big reason electric cars haven’t caused a revolution as some thought and hoped they would.
That said, the e-Golf is by far the best version of any electric car I’ve tested. Like a low-fat product that doesn’t veer (too far) taste-wise from the original, the e-Golf resembles the full-fat Golf in most ways. It takes off like a shot, and brakes just as quickly. It corners like it’s angry. It doesn’t feel like a toy.
Arriving at dealers in late November, the e-Golf joins an increasingly crowded field of battery-powered cars for sale in the coming year. It’s a 4-door hatchback whose electric motor makes 115 horsepower and 199 lb-ft. of torque, and it’s got one and only one gear. It’s got a 24.2 kWh lithium-ion battery, 7.2 kW onboard charger and, like all battery-powered whips, you plug in at night, zip off the next day, and repeat. If you want to take a road trip from, say, Patchogue to Woodstock on a Sunday, you’ll have to buy and use a second vehicle that runs on gas, bub.The e-Golf has three power levels, allowing drivers to choose performance and affect its range. In Normal mode, the E-Golf gives the driver a full 85 kilowatts of power. The ‘Eco’ mode reduces peak power to 70 kilowatts and reduces the power consumption of the car’s air conditioning system. In “Eco +,” power is reduced to 55 kW and the air conditioning system turns off. Whatever mode you choose, full power is delivered when you floor the accelerator. Its top blastoff gets you from 0-62 mph in just over 10 seconds, beating the LEAF by a second, not surprising as the e-Golf employs an 85-kW motor compared to the LEAF’s 80-kW motor. The e-Golf’s top speed is governed, preventing you from going over 87 miles per hour.
Electric vehicles continue to improve each year, and the e-Golf currently makes the best case for putting down your Suburban or Armada for a second and joining the clear-air revolution.
The Stakes Are Higher Than Ever In the “Motive” Season Finale
Published: Thursday, August 28, 2014
One of the best shows to come out of Canada reaches its high-stakes season finale this week on ABC. “Motive” is always fairly intense, but the second season closer cranks things up to 12. In this tension-fueled finale someone close to the investigative team is the murder victim and their boss looks like the obvious suspect. Of course, we the viewers are immediately shown that the actual killer is someone else entirely, but that someone threatens to blow up one this year’s mysteries that has been quietly bubbling below the surface. Truth be told, a few things threaten to boil over in this finale and the show just might not be the same again.
Prosecutor Samantha Turner (Laura Mannell) is found murdered in her own bed. Of course, once it is revealed that she and Sergeant Mark Cross (Warren Christie) were involved in a relationship he becomes the prime suspect. Flynn (Kristin Lehman) believes in his innocence while her partner, Vega (Louis Ferreira) isn’t convinced. Flynn’s past with Cross, including the suspicious incident when they were both uniformed officers, along with Flynn’s secretive nature about it all has slowly been eroding the bond between the two Detectives all season and threatens to break their partnership altogether.
We the audience know that Cross is indeed innocent and that it is actually undercover cop Doug Slater (Kenny Johnson), Turner’s star witness in an upcoming trial and Cross and Flynn’s old colleague. Slater was there ten years ago when a domestic violence call went sideways for Flynn and Cross and he helped them cover things up. Being friendly with the investigators helps Slater keep all eyes away from himself and make Cross look guiltier. With strong initial evidence pointing to the defendants in the upcoming trial Cross’s boss, Bloom (Roger Cross) doesn’t immediately bench him and somewhat reluctantly agrees to let him stay in the case.
Things continue to decay, both emotionally and suspect-wise as the investigation continues, especially when a key witness is brutally interrogated by Cross and then later turns up dead. Thankfully Flynn, ever the relentless investigator, is able to piece things together to figure out who the real murderer is, with the able assistance of Vega. Flynn uses her Columbo-esque routine to get Slater to cop to what he’s done and just when it looks like she may become his latest victim, her knight-in-shining-armor partner saves the day.
Everyone manages to make it through the crucible battered and bruised, but still more or less whole. That is until the denouement where it appears that the great partnership of Detective Flynn and Detective Vega may have reached a literal end as Angie Flynn admits she’s reached her metaphorical and emotional end. This scene in particular may be the single greatest scene of all 26 episodes so far. Considering how tremendously well-acted this show is, that is saying something. Ferreira turns in a heartbreaking performance as Vega vainly tries to salvage the crumbling relationship with someone he clearly has more feelings for than even he will admit to. And Lehman powerful portrays Flynn as a person who has been emotionally wrecked by all the events of the past year.
We’ll have to wait until next year to find out if the two characters are able to pick up the pieces and move forward together or if they’ll be professionally separated and personally estranged. The relationship between Flynn and Vega has proven to be one of the most interesting, complex and realistically portrayed male-female relationships in the history of television. It is certainly the centerpiece of “Motive” and never plays to expectations, instead choosing to be intricately layered. What happens next is anyone’s guess, but I can’t wait to find out.
Recognize Pride Needs No Flag
Grace over race
I’m sitting outside on a mini stool in northern Cambodia where my bent knees don’t fit under the table. A three-course meal arrives from the nearby food stall—a hard-boiled egg served as a delicacy with three additional finger bowls presenting spices, limes, and mint. Egg vendor #7, Chantheaea, giggles when she returns with a tiny long-handle spoon. Meanwhile, I watch two guys, Narit and Ponlok, shoot it out on a makeshift outdoor pool table. This jungle-encased village, Cheabb, probably won’t see electricity in the lifetime of these two pool sharks. Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh, has just built its first shopping mall with an escalator that has become an instant tourist attraction. I realize later that Chantheaea was chuckling about my inside-out T-shirt. I haven’t passed a mirror in weeks.
I’ve flown 15,000 miles by plane, over-nighted on a bench of a chugging riverboat, spent a day in the dusty cab of a puny Japanese pickup crammed with 10 riders, and then 10 hours on a wobbling motorbike sputtering on rutted, meandering jungle trails. The trail, barely worthy of foot traffic, frequently requires crossing rivers on slimy log bridges. It becomes impassable during the wet season.
My brother Basil and I were repeatedly warned not to venture into this isolated region that’s supposedly rife with landmines and holdups by teams of bandits. However, our reward for forging ahead was a spontaneous night that fused a wedding and a bizarre theater odyssey. The first thing we saw in Cheabb was a mobile PA system announcing what later turned out to be a play. The PA system involved two guys on a motorbike rigged with a large horn on the handlebars connected to an amplifier sitting in the drivers lap. The rear passenger held a mike to a Walkman that made the announcements.
In this off-the-grid destination, the wooden box houses are raised on six-foot stilts. In the shade below, black buffalo, pigs, and chickens reside. The people, mostly rice farmers, steal naps in hammocks slung between stilts under the houses or between the trees. Everyone we pass waves hello. My hunch is that once war-ravaged, perpetually destitute Cambodia had a lighter side, and I wasn’t quitting until we found it. Landmines, civil war, and genocide dominate many associations with Cambodia, but life has returned to a new version of normal, even in Preah Vihear Province, one of the poorest and most isolated.
There’s no way for an outsider to know they’re crossing between the neighboring villages of Cheabb Lech and Cheabb Kart (Cheabb east and west). But that’s where we were invited into the soul of this village with zero tourism. In one magical night, we attended a wedding reception, which later segued into an outdoor theater performance, and then slept on the top cop’s porch.
The wedding highlights included proud toasts ladled from a 35-gallon jug of homemade milky-fermented booze, dancing to insanely loud Cambodian pop, eating bugs, and listening to the best man speech in which he noted that the bride’s premiere hobby was jumping rope. The groom, dressed in a frumpy, oversized suit, couldn’t stop snickering during the should-be solemn slow dances. Our go-to-guy, the only one in town who could speak English, told us about the local pothead, a little girl who wears a red cooking pot as a hat.
After the wedding reception, the group marched across town to join 200 people already seated on the ground before a stage that was amplified by a lone microphone hanging from a wire. The wooden stage set was draped in billowing, silky tarps. The performance, hours and hours of short bits, were punctuated by the manual closing of a dainty pink curtain. A flash photo (Basil’s) started a tizzy that startled the entire audience and made actors modify their act and speak in even higher pitched voices.
Where there are no televisions, traveling troupes are still the stars. Within the crowd, several campfires were maintained to combat the 70-degree winter chill. At one point during the six-hour Khmer epic play, half of the audience suddenly stood up and gasped—a reverse domino effect that didn’t seem like a standing ovation. It wasn’t. A six-foot-long heat-seeking venomous snake had crawled into the audience. Once the snake was hacked in half by someone who happened to have a machete handy, the show resumed. Basil suggested that the snake’s demise might be a metaphor for what happens here when someone threatens married life.
After the marathon performance, we feasted with the wedding gang, but passed on the cow stomach and dried blood patties that resembled black tofu cakes. After waking up on the hospitable police chief’s front porch, we visited several schools, all raised 12x12-foot platforms either under a home or outside covered by tarps. The blackboards were black paint on flat boards and the instructional guides were laminated posters, one for math and one for language. After Basil donated hordes of pens and notebooks to these makeshift schools, he also stepped in as interim teacher, which routinely inspired more laughter than learning.
Despite the forewarnings about landmines and holdups, we ventured to Cheabb where the people, like most Cambodians, exemplify warmth, grace, and pride, which is incredible when considering the unspeakable horrors many of them have endured in their lifetime. In these more prosperous times, some still manage to survive on one dollar and 1,000 calories per day. The Khmer capacity to overcome extreme adversity and still welcome unannounced travelers with smiles and respect is humanity. Being the first foreigners to visit a place where they’ve never seen any is a traveler’s cliché—but when you unearth the last remnants of virgin turf in Southeast Asia, dignity and joy is what you’ll find.
As my brother and I prepared to roll out of Cheabb, we enjoyed a final hard-boiled egg at the food stall. The newly married couple rode past and waved to us and all of the food stall workers. They were honeymoon bound—a visit to the other side of the village—which made the staff cheer wildly. That’s when it dawned on us that the bride was #7, our previous egg vendor, Chantheaea.
*photos: Basil Northam
“Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love” by C. David Heymann
c.2014, Emily Bestler Books $27.00 / $32.50 Canada 438 pages
Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Can’t live with him, can’t live without him.
That’s apparently, according to headlines, what your favorite star thinks of her first, third, and next husband – who happens to be the same man. It’s kinda silly. You can practically set your calendar by their splits and reconciliations. You shake your head.
Can’t live with him. Can’t live without her. It happens, as you’ll see in the new book “Joe and Marilyn: Legends in Love” by C. David Heymann.
The first time Joe DiMaggio met Marilyn Monroe was on a blind date. He’d began “thinking” about Marilyn once he saw publicity photos of her with another ball player, and he asked a friend to set them up. She pretended not to know who the great Yankee ballplayer was. He sat mute nearly the whole evening.
And yet, Marilyn (born Norma Jeane Baker) thought he was “different” and wanted to spend more time with him. He was equally smitten and, on an after-date drive, he opened up to her like he’d never done with any other woman. He was reserved and gentlemanly. He called her again the morning after, and romance blossomed.
But there were problems. Joe “didn’t know if he could deal with her voracious appetite for public exposure.” For Marilyn, being center of attention was as necessary as oxygen and, though she said she wanted to settle down and “have a boatload of babies,” she was, down-deep, not willing to give up her career.
Part of the problem, says Heymann, is that there were “two Norma Jeanes” – a little girl who craved love, and a mercurial and complicated woman who’d do anything for the limelight – even if it meant sleeping around.
Another part of the problem was that Joe was hot-headed and controlling. He grew to detest publicity, and resented that his star had fizzled while hers was rising. Marilyn was more famous than he, and it rankled Joltin’ Joe aplenty.
She called him “Pa,” and warmly embraced the son he mostly ignored. He advised her in the career he hated. They fought, reconciled, fought more, and wed in early 1954.
It was a marriage that wouldn’t last the year.
Let’s start here: I liked “Joe and Marilyn.” I really, really liked it because, while rabid fans of either DiMaggio or Monroe won’t find much new here, I did and I liked the way it was presented.
The late author C. David Heymann was, in telling this long, scandalous saga, balanced and informative without being sensational. Readers become privy to private issues, as well as behind-closed-doors activities that led to even more issues, yet we come to see the deep devotion that lingered for the lifetimes of DiMaggio and Monroe, even though they clearly couldn’t ever live together.
That makes this an excellently-heartbreaking love story, a juicy gossip piece, a slice of culture, and sports – all rolled into one. And if you’re a fan of those, of DiMaggio, Monroe , or Hollywood of yore, then “Joe and Marilyn” is a book you really can’t be without.
Isles Unveil Coliseum Logo
The New York Islanders officially unveiled the logo they’ll use to commemorate the final season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The team has not released specific plans about the logo, but you can expect this to be a shoulder patch on home jerseys, possibly etched on the ice, and, of course, available on items in the team store.
The logo depicts the Coliseum with four Stanley Cups. It says, “Tradition on Ice” above the building and hardware.
Perhaps the weakest part of the logo is the banner at the bottom that says, “43 years of history.” Forty-three is such an unattractive number. It may have been more useful to put “1972-2015” at the bottom. Either way, it’s a logo depicting a funeral for a building that has certainly seen its better days.
The real thing to keep an eye on is just how much the organization uses the logo.
Will they offer a full store worth of items? Pucks, hats, jackets, patches, shirts? Will they make special signage for around the Coliseum with it? The season begins in less than two months, so we’ll see soon enough.
Elevate Your Mood at NCC’s Firehouse Plaza Art Gallery in Garden City
Published: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
I and I in the sky
You make me feel like I can fly
So high, Elevation
Twelve Planes (Locked and Crossed), 2014
Keep your spirits up as summer comes to an end by visiting the Firehouse Plaza Art Gallery at Nassau Community College in Garden City. Elevate is a group sculpture exhibition consisting of three large works: Twelve Planes (Locked and Crossed) by Rachel Mica Weiss, Containing Tenaciousness by Monika Zarzeczna and Untitled by Carolyn Salas. There will also be some small works to go along with the larger installations.
“The title and theme of the show, Elevate, came from the link in the artists’ creative process of transcending materials into works of aesthetic impact and emotional resonance,” said faculty member and curator Nathan Wasserbauer. “While sculpture as a discipline is often associated with weight and mass, these artists’ works seem to levitate—carrying with them light, color, translucency and space. Along with a defiance of gravity, the pieces also carry the hopes and fears, anxieties and aspirations of their creators, displayed in a diverse manipulation of materials. Taken into consideration with their surroundings of the NCC gallery and campus, the sculptures invite the viewer to consider and experience these ideas in real time and space as both the materials and ideas lift off and become something new.”
Twelve Planes (Locked and Crossed) - Represented by Fridman Gallery in New York, artist Rachel Mica Weiss lives and works in Brooklyn as a resident of the chashama studio program.“Hand-strung on site,” Weiss’s “labor-intensive installation is a reference to the repetitious act of warping—the measuring, threading, and tensioning of thousands of threads into the loom.” As you can see from the photo above, Weiss uses her “environment’s unique architectural elements,” (in this case, the patio just outside of the Firehouse gallery’s window) “as her framework, creating lurching architectural interventions: bold blockades that confront the viewer and engender feelings of vulnerability.”
Containing Tenaciousness - Born in Warsaw, Poland, artist Monika Zarzeczna grew up in the Netherlands and moved to New York in 2002. She lives and works in Brooklyn and currently has a residency at the chashama studio program. Her work reflects impressions of her daily encounters with discarded and devalued objects and makeshift structures in her Brooklyn neighborhood. She often works in series and Containing Tenaciousness is a follow up to the 2012 Hardnekkig installation. Made almost entirely of discarded materials and inspired by electricity towers, staircases and sidewalk gardens, ‘Containing Tenaciousness’ combines suspended, descending and rising elements that add up to a fragile, ramshackle structure, a 3D drawing that is looking for balance, weight and weightlessness.
Untitled - Appointed lecturer in sculpture at Yale in 2011, artist Carolyn Salas is a recipient of the studio residency program at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York. She uses a wide array of materials including found objects, photography, moldmaking, collage and recycled items to create sculptural platforms where material and concept meet to transform space and the way we view it. In a culture obsessed with mass production and disposability her work is a conduit of her opposition to this standard. With laborious craft and a handmade touch, the imperfections and human attributes of burdens, failures and achievements of our everyday are exposed. Salas looks at the work as a self-exploration of the subconscious, where she tries to physically create a state of mind. Responding to Carl Jung’s idea of artists and alchemists projecting part of their psyche into matter or inanimate objects, possessing in a sense a secret soul, the objects eventually live out a life of their own.
The exhibit runs from September 2nd through November 13th. Firehouse Plaza Art Gallery at Nassau Community College is located in CCB Building, Plaza Level, Room 140. Admission is free.
An artist’s reception will be held on October 9th from 5-7pm in the gallery. All are welcome.
HU Hoops Gets New Arena Floor
Continuing with its progressive thinking, the Hofstra University Depart of Athletics hosted a contest for fans, students, designers and artists to submit possible basketball court designs.
The court has already been completed in the Hofstra Basketball Practice Facility and will be redone in the Mack Sports Complex later this summer, according to the university’s Office of Athletic Communications.
There were nine winners that each contributed some component of the final court design, Hofstra said.
“We thank all the wonderful Hofstra Basketball fans that submitted potential court designs,” commented Hofstra Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway in a statement. “Our basketball programs are thrilled with how the court turned out and appreciate the great support from the community. We can’t wait to showcase the court during the upcoming 2014-15 season.”
“The Last Ship” Finds a Snake in Paradise
Last week’s episode of “The Last Ship” was certainly played up enough that it could have served as a season finale. This week’s actual finale certainly started off feeling like an epilogue more than anything. That is until everything went completely wrong. The premise of the previous nine episode has typically followed a pattern of conflict brought on by need escalating to tension and despair only to end with determination and renewed hope. The finale flipped that on its head and followed that path backwards.
I’ve talked a lot about “The Last Ship” on this blog, but that’s mainly because it has been the only consistently exciting show this summer. Each week has been packed full of intrigue and adventure and I feel like the persons making the show have gone the extra mile each of the ten hours they’ve given us this freshman year. My biggest fear would be that the narrative they set in motion would be predicated by the constant search for the cure to the deadly plague and that this would be dragged out however long the show lasted on the air. Imagine my surprise when we ended last week with said cure.
The season finale changed all that and proved that the show is about more than the cure. The world within the story has suddenly been writ larger as, for the first time since the pilot, the crew of the Nathan James returns to mainland America and one of the last remaining vestiges of structure and society. Sure, there are barbarians at the gate threatening the last scraps of the old world, but there is hope that civility and normality can be returned to the rest of the country and, possibly, the world. But then the truths become lies and the fellow saviors are revealed to be evil.
As has been apparent from the beginning, this show is about people, namely the crew of the Nathan James, and how they remain faithful to their duty, convictions and trust in each other now that there is no world order. All of that is tested, most especially in the final moments. Captain Tom Chandler (Eric Dane), having lead his people to safety, then faces his greatest tragedy while uncovering a horror beyond imagining. Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) has a place to create more of the cure she has sweated and bled for only to discover another horrible truth. Quincy Tophet (Sam Spruell), the one-time traitor, gets to redeem himself, but at great cost. And lovelorn Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson) decides to ride off into the great unknown at perhaps the worst possible time.
By the end of the episode, our heroes are spread out around Baltimore, those still on the ship now basically held hostage. Hope has been taken away and the true monsters stand revealed as the ones that offered sanctuary. It’s obvious that somehow the group painted as terrorists will play a bigger part in the resolution to all this, partly because we see them revealed to be decent folk after all, but mainly because Titus Welliver plays their leader. You don’t bring in Welliver for a bit part and I hope he sticks around in a permanent role next year. And that is the silver lining to the bleak and somber finale, that the show will be back next summer for another run.
Should I Take Weight Loss Pills to Lose Weight?
Published: Monday, August 25, 2014
The only prescription drugs which are FDA approved for losing weight are for those who suffer from obesity and often interfere with fat absorption, which can lead to poor vitamin uptake. Herbal supplements and non-prescription weight loss pills can work by changing the feedback and release of hormones from your brain, increasing your metabolism and utilizing body fat. They alter your body’s natural metabolism, often cause rapid weight gain when use is ceased and can be quite costly. The healthiest pill really is putting time and effort into quality nutrition and exercise. You will appreciate your hard work when you see your honest results!
“Legends” Second Outing Should Have Been Its First
Published: Friday, August 22, 2014
A curious thought struck me while watching the second episode of TNT’s new series “Legends.” Basically, it occurred to me how much stronger this hour served as an introduction to the series than the pilot did. Don’t get me wrong, I really did like the premiere episode, but we get the same important information this week, but in a much more interesting way that is more tightly integrated into the mission of the week.
There is even the surprise death of one of the team, just like in the pilot. Anyway catching the show for the first time this would not be remiss in thinking they were starting from the beginning. This all isn’t really a problem, per se, but I feel like we either wasted an entire hour last week or are retreading ground we just walked over a few days ago.
For example, we get a much more balanced view into the madness that is Martin Odum (Legend in his own right, Sean Bean) this week. In the premiere he is much dourer, bordering on pathetic. Yet now we get to see him in charge of his situation and less scatter-brained. He was initially painted as a loose cannon on the verge of completely losing, but by episode two he is rational enough to be likable. He is still liable to unwittingly slip into one of his fake identities, but he seems aware of it and manages to actually genuinely smile on occasion.
Likewise, Odum’s erstwhile intimate-partner-cum-professional-colleague, Crystal McGuire (Ali Larter) is also fleshed out substantially. She still objects to Odum’s trustworthiness, but her begrudging respect for what he is able to do is clearer. She even lets her guard down around him a time or two, if only to give him a wry, back-handed compliment. Additionally, the other members of the team show a bit more personality, particularly Director Gates (Steve Harris) and Troy Quinn (Rob Mayes). This only helps with the shock of one of them biting the dust (you’ll have to watch to see who) towards the end of the episode.
We also get a fantastic introduction to a new character, Tony Rice (Morris Chestnut). Chestnut’s character was prominent in the promotion of the show, yet curiously absent from the pilot. Although he isn’t yet part of the team, we get to know the type of character Rice is from a few well-utilized scenes. Much like all the other crucial background information we flashback to, this comes in the form of well-written scenes that act like less of an information dump and more like essential scenes that move the plot forward. Chestnut was one of the best parts of the “V” reboot a few years back and does a great job whenever he appears on “Nurse Jackie” so it is very welcome to see him in a regular role once again.
Again, I thought the actual pilot of “Legends” was serviceable enough in setting up the show, it just feels odd to me that the follow up episode basically served the same purpose. Thankfully, it was a second introduction that added another dimension to the admittedly one-note performances and script of the premiere. And even though it ended in an oddly abrupt way, my esteem for this show has increased substantially and it bodes well for both the story direction and its longevity.
Peanut Car is a Pleasure, but Sound System Needs an Upgrade
2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring
Base price: $30,550
As tested: $32,735
The Miata occupies a well-deserved niche in the compact convertible department, holding its own in the face of challengers like the new Beetle, Honda S-2000, BMW’s Z4 and others. Enjoying non-stop sunny weather over a week’s test, my top was flopped constantly and I was in the zone, looking for any excuse to get behind the wheel and zip off somewhere. My top-of-the-line MX-5 Grand Touring included a retractable hardtop roof, keyless ignition, paddle shifters and other modern accoutrements, and the car comes in two other trims; the base Sport and the more expensive Club. A six-speed automatic transmission mated to a 158-horsepower, 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder engine making 170 horsepower moves the 2,500-pound car as fast as it can, which is to say Not Very. That’s due to my tester being automatic, though. With a manual you could make this thing moan, groan, patch and screech. I think. I hope. The 2016 model, coming our way in September, offers a turbocharger and will probably cause the model I tested to drop in price, so hold off on buying until then. There also isn’t, as everyone knows, much room in this thing. I plopped an 80-pound mastiff named Max into my passenger side and drove around the block just to see how he’d fare. He paced and turned and spat on the dashboard and looked at me as if to say, “Why don’t we try this again when we have a truck?” The advantages, of course, to having a tiny car include being able to zip in and out of sketchy highway situations at will, and parking is a snap.
The biggest head-scratcher during my week’s test was the lack of a USB outlet anywhere in the car to both charge my phone and my iPod. Instead, I was offered a 1/8th inch jack, which sounded fine but anyone who buys this car will also have to buy a 1/8th inch cord and an adaptor to plug into the lighter outlet if they wish to power up their electronics. Do we need more little cords and adaptors in our lives, folks? I don’t. Which isn’t to say I didn’t love my little guy. I washed it three times, including the rims on its sweet 17-inch alloy tires, stylish cat’s-eye headlights, carved aluminum hood and hardtop which raises and lowers quickly so you get can get ‘er done at stop lights.
The Miata, according to all accounts, is coming into 2016 with an eye on more speed; let’s hope they bring the sound system up-to-date, too.
Fast Friday Tech Roundup: Aug. 22
Taking Selfies to the Next Level!
Introducing the Selfie Ring! This clever gadget attaches to your phone with a simple adhesive and provides you with two small rings to slide your fingers through and voila…perfect selfies every time—without the fear of dropping your phone into the river, or worse, from the top of a building in Manhattan! And for even more fun, take a look at the Selfie Stick! Looking for a place to put all those pictures? Try the Shelf-ie!
The Motorcycle helmet of the future is here and it’s called Skully! Not only will this helmet protect your head, it’ll make you smarter…well, sort of! The Skully boasts a rear-view camera and also displays your speed, fuel level, even caller ID…all within the driver’s in-helmet/visor display panel. Plus there’s Bluetooth capability, GPS services, even internet access. Easy Rider Indeed!
My Internet is faster than Your Internet
Sitting by your Laptop or Smart TV waiting for screens to load? Don’t be frustrated…know this! Someone always has it worse than you…and here’s a handy map to prove it! While New York and California have considerably faster Internet speeds than a lot of states, we do not hold the speediest spot on the charts! Number one on the list may surprise you.
Out of this Galaxy
We spoke last week about the arrival of the new iPhone 6 (Coming September 9th). Well, not to be outdone Samsung announces their new phone the Samsung Galaxy Alpha. The phone ditches the plastic outer casing that its predecessors relied on, for a new metal exterior edge. Besides that there doesn’t seem to be any new outstanding features…well, except keeping pace with the folks at Apple of course.
“Shots Fired” by C.J. Box
c.2014, Putnam $26.95 / $31.00 Canada 288 pages
Published: Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Trapped in an elevator, office, front seat of a car, wishing you were someplace, anyplace, else. The people with you are getting on your last nerve. You’ve heard the same phrases over and over and over and you want to scream.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all lived through the irritation, but what’s funny is that it’s not at all chafing to read about it happening to someone else. And that’s just one of the themes in “Shots Fired,” a book of short stories by C.J. Box.
Throughout the years, says Box, fans have asked where they could find some of his shorter works, wondering why there wasn’t an anthology.
Now there is, with favorite characters and a few new faces.
Take, for instance, “ One-Car Bridge ,” in which a ranch owned by a big-city bully is on the edge of Game Warden Joe Pickett’s territory. Joe has bad news for the owner, but it could be worse news for the ranch’s manager: he could lose his job over something that’s not his fault. Could help come from the U.S. Mail?
Pickett, of course, is one of Box’s best-loved characters – maybe because Joe cherishes his neighbors so much. In “Dull Knife,” one of Wyoming ’s finest basketball players is dead. Joe remembers the girl, and he mourns what she could have been. How she died is an even bigger issue.
Joe’s friend, Nate Romanowski also appears in this book and he’s loaded for bear – or, in this case, for a rich Saudi who seems to think he owns the rogue falconer and can buy what he demands. In “The Master Falconer,” fans will be surprised to see that Nate tows the line. Or not.
Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say, but not necessarily in a canoe. In “Every Day is a Good Day on the River,” a long-awaited fishing trip turns into a nightmare when something unexpected shows up on the waters.
And in my favorite story here, “The End of Jim and Ezra,” two trappers are caught for the winter in a cabin high in the mountains. It’s 1835 and it’s been Three. Long. Months of living practically on top of one another.
Stir-crazy ain’t the word for it…
You know how it is when you want a book, but not the whole book? That’s when you reach for this: with its ten short stories, “Shots Fired” will just fill that nagging want-to-read hunger.
And yet, what’s nice about this book is that you can make it last. Most of author C.J. Box’s tales are short enough to read in one sitting, but not so involved that you won’t feel bad putting a bookmark in them for a minute. And that’s about how long you’ll need a bookmark – a minute – because these mystery-western-human-interest tales are awfully addicting.
If you’re a Box fan, this is a must-have. If you’ve never read his works, you’ll be a fan in short order because what’s inside “Shots Fired” will have you stuck to your seat.
Beer Sessions Radio: Breweries on the North Fork
Published: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Update Aug.22: Listen to this episode here.
Good Morning, Aquebogue! I was asked to organize a Long Island-themed episode of Heritage Radio Network’s weekly program, Beer Sessions Radio, which we pre-recorded during the last week of July. It airs today at 5 pm.
The host of Beer Sessions, Jimmy Carbone (also owner of Jimmy’s No. 43 in Manhattan), proposed gathering three breweries as guests for the show, so I chose to feature a thriving trio on the North Fork: Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Long Ireland Beer Company, and Moustache Brewing Company. While Blue Point Brewing Company still defines beermaking on Long Island, Greenport Harbor and Long Ireland are both prompting drinkers, by portfolio dopeness and continued growth, to travel east of the vaunted progenitor in Patchogue—to Greenport and Riverhead, respectively. This has helped establish a noteworthy scene on the 30-mile-long peninsula, one that, in my opinion, now deservedly includes Moustache in Riverhead.
Beer Sessions traditionally broadcasts live every Tuesday from Roberta’s in Brooklyn, but we recorded this episode at Greenport Harbor’s impressive and just-opened 13,000-square-foot facility in Peconic, which is highlighted by a 30-barrel brewhouse and 2,000-square-foot taproom (its original brewery and taproom, in Greenport, remains operational). We also drank—specifically Greenport Harbor’s #5, an anniversary-themed Belgian-style dubbel aged with tart cherries; Long Ireland’s newest release, Trinity IPA; and Moustache’s flagship, Everyman’s Porter.
The Penultimate “The Last Ship” Season 1 Episode is Momentous
To say that “The Last Ship” has been a hit is a little bit of an understatement. It shed very little of its audience from the pilot and the ratings have remained strong and steady from week to week. It’s unsurprising that it got an early renewal. “The Last Ship” has packed more story in its very short first season than most shows see over their entire run. Amazingly, nothing has been wasted or shoehorned in for no reason. Every twist and turn has progressed the story, every victory has been earned and every loss has been felt.
It is interesting that this week’s episode is perhaps the most momentous so far, bearing in mind that the season finale is next week. In fact, this week could be considered a major game-changing hour as not only does the crew of the Nathan James now have a vaccine, but it appears they also have a cure to the deadly plague that has decimated humanity. Yes, the one thing that would have seemed destined for the end of the series is instead figured out before the first season closes out. That, of course, begs the question of what is planned for the finale.
Backing up a bit, the episode begins with Dr. Rachel Scott (Rhona Mitra) preparing for the next step in testing her possible vaccine with human trials. Dr. Scott will inject six volunteers with the vaccine and then expose them to the sickness and, if all goes according to plan they will all recover in a relatively short period of time. This being a drama series, all does not go according to plan and the six begin to succumb to the virus.
The volunteers run the gambit of characters we’ve grown to know over the previous episodes, namely Tex (John Pyper-Ferguson), Jeter (Chris Parnell), Gibson (Felicia Cooper), Foster (Marissa Neitling), Garnett (Fay Masterson) and Miller (Kevin Michael Martin). There is a point where it appears that the show might just do the unthinkable and kill off all six of the volunteers. While we do lose one character to the virus, this is a show that is at its core a story about hope, so, of course most everyone is saved. Surprisingly, though, we get a whole lot more than thought possible.
While all this sturm und drang is happening on the ship, we get the occasional interlude involving Commander Chandler’s (Eric Dane) family. His wife, Darien (Tracy Middendorf) and kids Sam (Aidan Sussman) and Ashley (Grace Kaufman) are getting by in a cabin in the woods with Chandler’s dad (Bill Smitrovich). One of their neighbors has come down with the virus and it appears that Mrs. Chandler may have as well. Good thing the elder member of the family is trying to repair his radio in order to contact his son aboard the Nathan James. I suspect the fate of the landlocked Chandlers will play into the final hour of the season, if not the inevitable cliffhanger.
So far “The Last Ship” has proven to be a compelling dramatic-adventure series each and every week. I think it is a perfect example of how a serialized story greatly benefits from a short season and, fortunately, the producers and network seem to agree. Season two will consist of thirteen episodes, three more than we got this year, but not enough to put the narrative in danger of needing filler episodes. Judging by the highly intense season one episodes, the finale’s cliffhanger should make the wait between seasons pretty unbearable.
How to Keep A Sharp Brain
Published: Monday, August 18, 2014
There have been links of decreasing memory loss to supplements like vitamin E, ginseng or omega 3 fatty acids, but the studies have not been large scale enough to demonstrate proven benefits concretely. Opt for more pro-active ways to improve your memory like testing your daily brain power with a new hobby, a different route home, a book outside of your favorite genre, creating an acronym for your next shopping list, attempting simple tasks with your non-dominant hand, etc. You can never go wrong with more real life brain food!
Catching Up With Summer Favorites
Published: Friday, August 15, 2014
As summer starts to wind down, so, too, do a few of my favorite summer series. That doesn’t mean that the action on any of these shows is slowing down. Far from it. First up is Guillermo del Toro’s magnificent “The Strain.” This show does not hold back on the thrills, chills and very bloody spills. Eph (Corey Stoll) finally gets the background information we’ve all been waiting for as to what exactly returned with all the seemingly dead people on their fateful flight from the pilot episode.
At the same time we get a little more history of Setrakian (David Bradley) and his first encounter with the uber-creepy Eichorst (Richard Sammel). Also, Dr. Martinez (Mía Maestro) comes face to scary face with the full extent of the horror that has been unleashed and realizes she can’t escape it any more. This show is firing on all cylinders and slowly pulling together the forces of light and dark to their respective sides. Like us, Eph knows more than before, but it may not be enough to save himself or his loved ones. There are some big, life-altering decisions ahead for several characters.
Heading to the near future, on “Extant” the secret conspiracy lead by Yasumoto (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Alan Sparks (Michael O’Neill) seems to have achieved one of its goals, namely removing the baby from Molly (Halle Berry). However, this may be a matter of being careful what you wish for as it is unclear what exactly came back form space with Molly inside her belly. Despite the conspiracy’s attempts at manipulation and obfuscation in order to make Molly just look like she’s crazy, the astronaut manages to find evidence to prove to hubby John (Goran Visnjic) that she really isn’t. Also, Molly may not be the first woman to go through this otherworldly experiment. “Extant” isn’t wasting any time in upping the stakes and moving things forward. With only four episodes left and a questionable chance of returning next year, I really hope there is a plan to bring the story to a satisfactory ending.
Meanwhile, “Under the Dome” is going full-tilt wacky. Three people have found a way out of the dome after seemingly falling to their deaths. All three have ended up in a town called Zenith, home of Melanie (Grace Victoria), Barbie (Mike Vogel) and a strange obelisk. This is the place where Junior’s (Alexander Koch) mother, Pauline (Sherry Stringfield) ended up in attempting to save Chester’s Mill the fate of the dome. A now crazy Lyle (Dwight Yoakam) and murderous Sam (Eddie Cahill) are in town having gone down the black pit in the school basement, as is Barbie. We’re finally getting more of a view of a much bigger picture regarding the central mystery. The promise from the pilot of a bigger world and a richer history of the dome is beginning to pay off and I can’t to see where the rest of the season is headed.
Next week I’ll catch you up on some of my other summer favorites. In the meantime, be sure to tune in Sunday, August 17th to MTV for “Dave Skylark’s Very Special VMA Special.” Featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco in character from their upcoming film “The Interview,” this prelude to the Video Music Awards will also feature VMA performers Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea, and VMA nominee Jason Derulo subjecting themselves to the hilarious antics of the fictional popular celebrity tabloid TV show “Skylark Tonight.” The special will include Dave Skylark (Franco) and producer Aaron Rapoport (Rogen) grilling each interviewee about everything ranging from derrières to the benefits of being Australian and the merits of singing one’s name. Be sure to tune in!
#1 Hybrid in America Deserves its Continued Success
2014 Toyota Camry Hybrid SE
Base price: $27,945
The Camry Hybrid is the #1 gas-electric vehicle in America despite getting an average of 10 or so miles per gallon less than the more-famous Prius. The Camry Hybrid deserves to be #1, though, because unlike the Prius, which never lets you forget you’re driving something sensible and therefore a yawn except when you orgasm over your great mileage, the Camry has style, speed and a healthy dose of cojones. It also manages to squeeze out something in the neighborhood of 40 miles per gallon. It’s a car, in other words, not mother’s milk.
Its inside is spacious and comfortable and responses are sharp and caffeinated, doing what you ask of it in a hurry. It doesn’t have a nav system as standard - wacky for a car in this price range - but its sound system is reasonably rich and you can find everything easily. If you want built-in nav, spring for the $1300 package and you’ll get an upgraded premium audio system, Bluetooth hook up and more. A 200-horsepower, 2.5 litre, 4-cylinder engine is surprisingly powerful given that this is a not-small 4-door sedan. Inside, it’s respectably tight and free of immediately noticeable cheapness, with brushed aluminum accents and a stitched dash.
The car is offered in LE and more expensive, involved XLE trim levels. There’s also a “2014.5” Camry Hybrid which debuted in December of 2013 and is offered in an additional trim, SE Limited Edition, which differs in its equipment levels but not by much. The 2014 LE features 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a trip computer, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.1-inch display and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary input and a USB/iPod interface that works quickly and therefore well. Go for the XLE and you’ll get 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, heated exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear seat air vents.
The Camry, for its quirks, deservedly occupies its #1 sales spot. For practicality, economy and sport, you won’t find a better hybrid in this price range.
“The Norm Chronicles” by Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter
Published: Thursday, August 14, 2014
You hadn’t seen your old classmate in years.
He was never at reunions or any events. He never called you, either, and truth be known, you kind of forgot about him – until his name came up on Tuesday and on Wednesday afternoon, you spotted his face in the background of a stranger’s online photo.
Total coincidence? What are the odds? Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter say they’re actually pretty good, and in “The Norm Chronicles,” they explain.
Congratulations, your lottery numbers all came up. You missed being in an accident. You were in the right place at the right time, but you didn’t “defy the odds.”
That, say the authors, is impossible.
“Odds,” they explain, “simply describe how many people are expected to be on each side of a possibility.” Something good happened in the above situations; you were on the positive side, which is “meeting the odds.” And chance, of course, “always plays a part” in everything we do.
From the moment we’re born, we risk: infants have the “same level of annual hazard” as do middle-age adults. Get to age 10, though, and you’re good to go for awhile, since that’s the approximate age of our lives, roughly speaking, when we’re safest and have the lowest relative units of “MicroMorts.”
Or take, for instance, disease. You might think that everything causes cancer, but numbers can be deceiving. Is a specific risk relative or absolute? The former can “make the numbers seem scarier than maybe they should be.” Furthermore, the “nature of news” is that “things that are… likely to get you are not reported nearly so often as others that are rare.” Yes, some behaviors seem to invite disaster, but others “fall… into the same category of philosophy” that should include data on values and traditions. Alcoholic consumption is one of those.
Is it chancy to get immunized? To lose a job? To eat 5,000 bananas? Yes, but what we need to remember about risk, chance, and probability is that there is no average. You can be “average for some subset” of people but that can change – and besides, it’s all about perception anyhow, since probability is a “recipe for muddle.”
Through a mixture of fact and fiction about a regular Joe called Norm, “The Norm Chronicles” is an informative book that’ll tickle your funnybone.
Or, as much as you can understand it, anyway.
Authors Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter sprinkle wit all over their chapters and fill them with asides and silly stories that illustrate risk throughout life and in all aspects. The thing is, the facts and stats just don’t let up, which can be overwhelming for some readers. We learn one thing that seems contradictory elsewhere (the nature of possibility), and the numbers just keep on coming…
Now, that’s not to say that this is a bad book; quite the contrary, it’s good entertainment, but it’s just going to need some digesting-time, that’s all. Give yourself that, and I think “The Norm Chronicles” is a book you’ll probably like.
Truffle & Mushroom Ravioli
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
You open your fridge and find yourself staring blankly for a minute, maybe two, until it hits you; there is nothing! That defrosted chicken that you could have sworn was in the back of the shelf is no longer there. You frantically open the freezer and “Hallelujah,” frozen truffle ravioli is staring at you in the face. Oh, the possibilities you have and here is one that is just so simple and delicious. Dinner is “Oh so DONE!” Phew…..
• 1 package of prepared truffle ravioli
• 1/4 cup low-fat half & half
• ½ cup white wine or cooking broth
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic minced
• 2 shallots chopped
• 1 lb. cleaned and sliced baby portabella mushrooms
• 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling
• chopped parsley for garnish
• Ground pepper
1.) Cook pasta according to directions (al dente) in salted water and drain. Put aside.
2.) Heat oil in large skillet. Add shallot and cook until tender for about 2 minutes. Add in garlic and mushrooms cook for 2-3 more minutes until just starting to brown.
3.) Pour in half & half and broth in the cream. Bring to a boil and add in parm chesse and ground pepper; stir until sauce is well blended for a couple more minutes and reduced to the thickness of a tomato sauce.
4.) Transfer your drained pasta to the sauce pan
5.) Immediately sprinkle with more grated cheese and fresh parsley.
6.) Serve with a nice glass of white wine and ENJOY!!
Movie staring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Filming on Long Island
Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
A movie staring the hilarious duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler has been filming on Long Island. The comedy called, “The Nest,” began filming on the Island in late May and since then a good portion of the movie has been filmed on Long Island.
In early June an ad was actually put on Craigslist in search of female nail artists to be featured in a scene of the film in the East Meadow area of Long Island. Universal Pictures confirmed that the ad was real and it seems two lucky ladies got to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity to star in a major motion picture.
In June, filming also took place in Five Towns College in Dix Hills. Grumman Studios was another location and according to moviesfilmedonlongisland.com, filming also took place on Hempstead Turnpike in the Uniondale area of Long Island. While the house featured in the film is actually located in New York, the movie takes place in Florida and so producers actually had to obtain palm trees, got rid of the more common New York trees in the area in an attempt to make the set look more like a Florida home.
Enough with the filming locations what exactly is the movie about? Well, “The Nest” is about two estranged sisters who decide to throw one last party at their house, which their parents are about to sell. The plot already has me laughing in my mind.
The last time Fey and Poehler headlined a film together was in the 2008 comedy “Baby Mama.” Also starring in the film is actress Maya Rudolph who was a breakout star of the 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids.”
It’s no surprise that these actors are working together since they have for many years on “Saturday Night Live.” Jason Moore whose resumé includes “Pitch Perfect” and “Dawson’s Creek” directs the film. Paula Pell who wrote the film has also worked with Fey, Poehler and Rudolph on “Saturday Night Live.”
Other famous names involved with film include actors John Leguizamo, James Brolin and John Cena.
“The Nest” is set to be released in December 2015.
Mork Returns to Ork, Remembering Robin Williams
Like most of the United States, I was introduced to Robin Williams on February 28, 1978 through the “My Favorite Orkan” episode of “Happy Days.” Williams played a zany alien named Mork who had come to 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin to take Richie Cunningham back to his home planet of Ork as a specimen. Of course the Fonze gets involved and wacky hijinks ensue. This take on the popular 60s sitcom “My Favorite Martian” was played off as a dream. However, Williams’ out of this world alter ego proved so popular that not only was the episode re-edited to make Mork a “real” alien, but both the actor and character were given their own show. That fall, the TV series “Mork & Mindy” premiered and pop culture would never be the same again.
I’m not sure I have the words to adequately express the loss of Robin Williams. He was undeniably a comedic genius as first displayed on “Mork & Mindy” and continuing through many films. His verbally manic performance in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” his sublime portrayal of a man-child in “Jumanji” and his amazing voice performance of two different penguins in “Happy Feet,” not to mention his numerous stand up performances, are but small reasons why he was unparalleled in his field and walked easily among the giants of comedy. Much like the great George Carlin, Robin Williams often commented on social issues and freely discussed his own vices and ghosts.
Of course he had many, many fine dramatic roles in films that have since become classics. Williams won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for “Good Will Hunting” and a Golden Globe for “The Fisher King.” In one of his increasingly rare returns to TV over the years he gave us another award-winning performance in a compelling episode of “Homicide: Life on the Streets.” Ask any ten people what their favorite Robin Williams dramatic role is and you’ll get ten different answers. For the record, mine is Andrew martin in “Bicentennial Man.”
I’ve never met Robin Williams in person, but from everything I’ve read about him off-screen, I sincerely wish I had. By all accounts he sounds like he was an amazing and kind man and an exceptional conversationalist. He was great friends with the biggest curmudgeon on the planet, Harlan Ellison and to me that speaks volumes about the character of both men. It is always said that laughter is the best medicine. If that is true, then Robin Williams was one of the greatest healers the world has ever known. He’s been a constant presence in my life since I was eight and a half. Ever since Mork from Ork threw a doomed egg into the air, thinking it was a fellow unhatched Orkan, the phrase “fly, be free” has been a permanent part of my vocabulary. His heart-felt revelations regarding his addictions and constant fight with depression have given me insights into my own behaviors over the years and given me the strength to be a better man. I wish I would have been able to thank him.
Williams once said “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” We could all be better people by taking that to heart. Life is very short and a shocking reminder of that is when one of your heroes is suddenly gone. Robin Williams was a hero to me and an inspiration. His laughter and insights were a blazing torch upon all the dark corners of the world and now life is just a little bit darker, a little bit scarier and a little hollower for the loss of Robin Williams. It’s difficult to imagine that a man as funny as him could suffer from such soul-crushing depression that taking his own life was the only way he could see to end the pain. We’ve all had our moments like that, but it’s obvious that he had no way to ultimately get past it and was not able to find the help he needed. I wish I could have been there to tell him what he meant to the world and the eight year old me that still remembers the funny man in the rainbow suspenders who taught me how fun it is to sit on a chair head first. Goodbye Mr. Williams, peace is yours at last and you have left us many ways to find our own peace through you inexhaustible talent to make us smile.
If you or anyone you know is depressed to the point where there is nowhere else to turn, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. There will be someone on the other end who will listen to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Truth About Juicing
Published: Monday, August 11, 2014
Juice fasts, whether homemade or store bought, are not a healthy or effective solution to losing weight or staying healthy in the long term. Yes, they do temporarily supply your body with a burst of vitamins and minerals, but they do not furnish you with protein, fats or fibers, which are necessary for health. Most fruits and vegetables lack substantial amounts of fat and protein, and the liquid form of vegetables lacks much of the fiber content that aids in normal digestion. Lastly, the high sugar content of juices (even homemade) is not an appropriate source of nutrition and may tamper with the natural sugar levels in your blood. On the other hand, occasionally drinking liquefied vegetables/fruits as a supplement to a regular and healthy diet can do no harm!
William King Brings New Vitality to Duck Creek Farm
Squaw Road at Three Mile Harbor Road in East Hampton
Published: Friday, August 08, 2014
William King’s well-known humor and vitality continue to transmit through this latest installation of sculptures placed on the very special East Hampton Town-owned historical property of Duck Creek Farm, site of the late artist John Little’s home and studio.
The visit requires a small journey into the northern regions of East Hampton, close to Gardiner’s Bay, but is well-worth the time and travel. One can certainly make a pleasant afternoon of it and also visit nearby sites of art historic interest like the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center or Ashawagh Hall.
Organized by Jess Frost and the John Little Society, which is an energetic group devoted to making this spot a dynamic cultural destination for the community and beyond, Bill King’s sculpture brings new life to the grounds of Duck Creek Farm and the John Little Barn.
Wonderfully sited in this pastoral landscape with the additional backdrop of the 19th-century barn, each large-scale aluminum sculpture transmits movement through King’s customary lanky mannerism that somehow manages to be graceful and elegant rather than awkward; much like a gangly basketball player whose fast, fluid motions–passing, dribbling, jumping in quick flashes—draw admiration.
As it happens, these sculptures relate to athleticism and competition. There are cyclists riding at what seem vertiginous speeds, angled rakishly on their two wheels, bodies positioned in aerodynamic tension. This tension relates to that in a dual-figure piece depicting a tug-of-war. In another work, the only one with a red-paint finish, two figures seem to be in a grappling hold (or perhaps just a dance).
King as usual distills the figure to its most necessary elements. Similarly, his representation of action—through the angle of a leg, the plane of a foot, the curve of a back, the appearance of a circular versus elliptic wheel—is essentially expressive.
This is a unique opportunity to view the characteristic work of this engaging artist on a historically significant site.
Gianni Paci releases summery video for song recorded at Richie Cannata’s studio
Late September back at school
You and I broke all the rules
We did, We did, We did it good
But it’s gonna be a long time
Before we get to play another game
—From “Long Time” by Gianni Paci
Oyster Bay’s Gianni Paci just wrapped a video for his new single “Long Time.” The singer/songwriter/guitarist recorded the song at the Richie Cannata-owned Cove City Sound Studios (Billy Joel, Jennifer Lopez), with producer Eren Cannata. The song is an introduction to his new sound, which features a contemporary-pop spin on the more retro-minded songwriting he honed under his old pseudonym, The Pine Hollows. Paci discussed his first single, “Goodbye,” and working with Cannata back in February. He looks forward to releasing a full-length and can’t wait to return to Cove City in the fall to work on more of his music. That means more singles and more videos.
Filmed in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, “Long Time” was directed by Patrice Lighter of LGTR Productions.
“Patrice did an amazing job of capturing just what kind of emotions fostered the song—that nostalgia for a time in the past, and that sense of impatience that goes along with waiting for something else good to come along,” noted Paci. “I wrote the song about one of my first loves, and how a high-point in our relationship seemed to signal the beginning of the end of my childhood, naiveté and inexperience. High school can be such a crazy time, and I think the lyrics reflect that kind of back-to-school excitement and malaise. As the songwriter and the subject of the song, I am proud of what we had, acknowledging its end but, at the same time, missing it terribly. Patrice put me back in a lot of the clothes I hadn’t worn since, and it helped me get back into character.”
The NYU grad recently performed at NYC’s Sidewalk Cafe, and you can catch him at The Dolphin Bookshop in Port Washington on Friday, September, 5th at 7pm.
“When performing live, I mostly stick to original material,” said Paci. “I’m quite the productive songwriter so I’m always testing out my originals live—whether it’s a new song or something I may have written a year or two ago but it’s feeling more relevant than ever in the moment. Being a solo artist means that I can keep things fresh and spontaneous in this way, and in my experience it seems to keep things exciting for the audience too. I would love to be remembered the way that Billy Joel is and to share that sense of Oyster Bay pride with him.”
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