My Mom’s Birthday

Today is my mom’s birthday. We came to celebrate. Helaine made the plans from Connecticut, but everything was kept hush-hush.

This afternoon at 4:00, we headed south to Ft. Lauderdale for 5:00 PM reservations at Mai Kai.

What’s a Polynesian restaurant doing in Ft. Lauderdale? I don’t have a clue. Yet Mai Kai has been here for over 50 years. I’m not sure much of what’s there has changed in that time.

The doors opened at 5:00 and we walked in. It was dark… really dark. Quickly, a conversation sprung up at our table questioning whether we really wanted to see the place with the lights up!

Our waiter came, bringing a four page drink menu for each of us. If it sounded South Pacificy and was rum based, it was there. I hate to sound like a wuss (and I will), but I had some sort of frozen fruit melange which Steffie and Helaine both agreed was very tasty.

Next we ordered dinner. Mine was a seafood noodle dish which was pretty good.

The service was attentive and complete. I do hate being asked whether I want bottled or tap water. Tap – the answer is tap water. Can you just pass the word around for me.

We finished our dinner, walked around the tropical gardens (again, all the accouterments seemed like they were installed when the place first opened), then headed back for the Polynesian revue.

Recently, in light of Britney Spears bare midriff performance, a new sensitivity has sprung up around who can and cannot expose their middle in public. Tonight we found one performer who hadn’t heard.

Mostly, the show was pleasantly tacky, with a monotone emcee, four musicians and five dancers. It was what you might expect for a Polynesian show in Ft. Lauderdale.

Seriously though, the show didn’t matter. All that was important was, we were here for my mom’s birthday and we had a good time.

Mission accomplished.

Cover Of The Advocate

Claude Raines, in Casablanca, is not the only one to be “Shocked, shocked.” That’s how I felt when a copy of this week’s New Haven Advocate was thrust at me while getting coffee next door at Roberto’s.

On the cover of the December 28, 2006 issue of the Advocate, in an homage to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album cover, is a montage of 44 identifiable locals… including #29 – me.

I’m flattered they think enough of me to assume people can identify my mug shot (it’s all part of a contest, which I now seem to be shilling for them). I’m not sure I want to know how many of the entrants actually identify me as someone else.

Our former governor, the one who served jail time, used to tell a story of how he was spotted at the mall. When they said how much they enjoyed him on the weather, he realized they’d confused him for me.

Anyway, it’s nice to be on the cover of anything without being associated with a major crime or Britney Spears!


Father’s Day With My Father

This is the last full day of my parent’s visit – time for another trip into New York City.

Usually, on Sunday trips, we drive. Steffie asked if we could take the train and I said yes. I’m not entirely sure it was a good idea, though a street fair on 6th Avenue and the Yankees game probably slowed things down.

We left around 10:00 AM and headed to New Haven’s Union Station. Our train was local through Connecticut, but from Stamford it went non-stop to 125 Street in Harlem and then Grand Central Terminal.

We talked about people we knew, people from Connecticut, who claimed to never have been to New York City. That stuns me, though I know it’s true. There’s so much to do in the city that you can’t do anywhere else.

Actually, as a kid I always thought I’d grow up and move to New York. Even as an adult there were times when I thought my career would take me there. At this point it probably won’t happen.

Living in New York is convenient and cumbersome at the same time. Getting anything home – like grocery shopping, is an incredible hassle. Then there’s the noise and the crowds. On the other hand, if you live in the city, you can get anything delivered to you at any hour of the day or night.

New York is the only city in the world with twenty four hour room service!

And, you can walk to where you’re going. Walking is the major advantage city life has over anything else. It’s funny how we think of the suburbs or country as healthier living, but New Yorkers certainly walk more than my neighbors do. They surely walk more than I do.

And, of course, whatever you want to do – it’s there! Movies, museums, restaurants, culture, crap – it’s there.

We got off the train at Grand Central and headed to the Museum of Modern Art. I’ll have to hand it to Stef. She kept her word. I know she had no desire, but she went with the rest of us into the museum.

MOMA is unlike most museums in that there are no classics – everything is new, meaning 20th or 21st century.

We headed to the fourth floor and started scouting around. Some of the work is spectacular. Some of the work is ridiculous. Some of the work seems to be saying, “Can you tell I’m trying to fool you?”

The man on the left is staring at a painting that lists the world’s 1,000 longest rivers, in order. Is it art? Actually, I liked it!

Yes, there are single colored canvasses – just a solid blue canvas, for instance. Is that art? MOMA thinks so. I’m not so sure.

Then there are the works of Picasso, Gauguin, Klee, Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock (he of the paint splatters seemingly sprayed at random on a canvas). Andy Warhol‘s soup cans are there too.

It’s all a little overwhelming. Standing next to some of these paintings is like standing next to Mick Jagger or Britney Spears because they’re cultural icons, etched into our common experience.

We couldn’t stay too long. Six months ago, before we knew my parents were coming, we had gotten tickets to see “Wicked” on Broadway. Steffie, Helaine and I had to head to the Gershwin Theater for the 3:00 PM performance.

“Wicked” is the prequel to “The Wizard of Oz.” It’s the story of how Glinda became the Good Witch and Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West. It’s a cute story with a great cast. As is so often the case on Broadway, the first act was better than the second, though the show ended very strongly.

For months Steffie has had “Popular,” a song from “Wicked,” on her Ipod. And for months, I had been playing it and singing along. Obsessed? Me? Sure.

If, for some reason, the conductor had suffered a wrist injury, I was ready to step in and lead the orchestra for this one song. I knew every word, every note, every bit of accompaniment in the arrangement.

It took everything I could muster to refrain from leading the orchestra from my seat.

The original cast is long gone. The current stars – unknowns to me – were very good and the staging was spectacular. We didn’t expect it, but in the cast were Ben Vereen (The Wizard of Oz) and Rue McClanahan (Madame Morrible).

It has become common for Broadway shows to have names you recognize from TV to help at the box. If these two were meant to sell tickets, they’re awfully well hidden. Of course “Wicked” doesn’t seem to need help selling tickets at the moment.

My parents met us at the theater at 6:10 and we proceeded to dinner. The five of us feasted at the Stage Delicatessen on 7th Avenue.

We were stuffed as we walked south, through Times Square, and back to Grand Central. I must have taken 10 shots of the Chrysler Building as it glistened in the golden light of the late day’s sun. It stood out so tastefully against the pure blue sky.

Our train left at 8:07 and took nearly two hours to reach New Haven, making this an awfully long day – but a great Father’s Day.

Happy New Year Dick Clark

It’s a family tradition that we don’t go out on New Year’s Eve. There are a few really simple reasons for this. First, I usually work. Second, we don’t drink.

Years ago, the last time we really went out for New Year’s, a drunk guy started making a pass at my wife. In fact (though we laugh about it now) we almost broke up on our first pre-marriage New Year’s Eve together.

This year, we stayed home with Steffie and watched some of the goings on in Times Square. Helaine said she wasn’t, but I was very worried that some masterstroke terrorist act would take place in Times Square while the World watched.

Though we moved back and forth between Fox, MTV and ABC, we mostly stayed with ABC. Sure, I work for an affiliate, but there is also a tradition with Dick Clark. Again this year, for at least the second year in a row, Dick was inside a warm studio above Times Square. I’m sorry. He needs to be outside. And last night, the weather wasn’t all that bad.

I was also upset at the use of Steve Doocey – who represents Fox News Channel’s morning show – as ‘talent.’ This is not to say Steve isn’t good… he is. But, this is another case of cutting your nose to spite your face. Why would ABC want to shine such a bright spotlight on someone who is trying to eat their lunch? Doesn’t anyone in the company realize that using talent from other networks is the equivalent of dumping the Disneyland live shots for Six Flags or Universal?

There was a pretty tough article on Dick Clark in Newsday recently. I’ve attached it to this link.

Maybe because I knew most of this before, or maybe just because it’s becoming more obvious now, I have trouble finding Dick warm and likable. His interaction with others, especially on ‘tosses’ from live shots, or look live taped pieces, is forced and a little too staged.

On the other hand, I’m not ready to cede New Year’s Eve to Ryan Seacrest or the stable of hosts on MTV (none of whom stick out in my mind).

Happy 2004

Continue reading “Happy New Year Dick Clark”

Monday Night Football

Monday Night Football

Even though tonight is Thursday, it marked the first installment of Monday Night Football.

It is probably ABC’s most consistently popular program. Unfortunately, it ends so late that most people have long since gone to bed. To make matters worse, a few years ago, ABC added an extra segment, with commercials, after the game, which extends it another 5-10 minutes.

In a fair and just world, Monday Night Football would start at 8:00 PM, a more civilized time. But, there would be no early local news on the West Coast, and that seems to be the stumbling block.

O.K. – I know – This is all very selfish on my part, since I have to stay until 35 minutes after Monday night Football ends. So, sue me.

Tonight, to open the season, ABC ran a musical special at 8:00 PM. With it, we established again that Britney Spears, as adorable as she is, can’t sing, nor can she dance, nor can she even lip synch with conviction.

Did I mention she’s adorable?