Dinner For Breakfast

After a night in the ‘fridge and a trip through the microwave the meal was transformed. Yesterday’s taste has been amplified without losing any of its tactile appeal.

What is it about leftovers that makes them so good? Today’s breakfast was yesterday’s dinner and it was magical. Why has no one opened a leftover restaurant chain yet? Can I legally protect that idea–Foxes House of Leftovers?

She will deny it, but Helaine is an amazing cook and baker. That was pretty obvious not long after we met.

If I were cooking, as soon as I’d find something good that would be my meal forever. Helaine gets bored. She wants variety in the kitchen. She doesn’t want to make the same thing all-the-time.

Last night was a reasonably new recipe based on an old recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis: Orzo cooked in chicken stock, roasted peppers, turkey sausage, tomatoes, garlic and other goodies I can’t remember.

Have you ever taken the first bite of something and fallen in love? It wasn’t just the taste, but the combination of textures that worked so well. This meal ‘felt’ delicious!

Wow! It’s like I’m judging some Food Network reality show. Where’s Bob Tuschman?

Back to today. After a night in the ‘fridge and a trip through the microwave the meal was transformed. Yesterday’s taste has been amplified without losing any of its tactile appeal.

This surely isn’t as healthy or good for me as my usual oatmeal. It’s still the best breakfast ever.

On The Occasion Of My Dad’s 84th Birthday

I’m not sure what my 84th birthday will be like–if I’m lucky enough to even have one, but being 84 and being like my dad doesn’t sound too bad.

harold-showgirls-large1.jpgIt’s my dad’s birthday. He’s 84 years old today.

The photo on the left is from his 80th birthday when we just happened to run into three showgirls at the MGM Grand’s valet parking area (really). He loves this photo.

I’m not sure what my 84th birthday will be like–if I’m lucky enough to even have one, but being 84 and being like my dad doesn’t sound too bad.

Yes, he has the physical infirmities that come with age. He’s only got one working eye… and it’s no prize. His hearing is awful even with hearing aids. He suffers from essential tremors which makes it difficult for him to hold his hands steady. He downs enough pills every day to make a junkie jealous.

That stuff’s unimportant. From the ears up my dad’s nowhere near 84.

He teaches a beginners computer class at his condo complex. Friends and friends-of-friends call for his assistance when a printer won’t work or they can’t get their email going. He is not intimidated by technology. He’s patient and understanding to those who are.

Though he no longer drives he wanted a GPS unit for his birthday. It arrived last week and he immediately opened it and walked to the car so he could plug it in. I totally understand. He’s not so jaded that he won’t let himself be amazed by what’s happened to the world around him.

He grew up in a Brooklyn neighborhood where deliveries were often made by horse drawn wagon. It was a pre-TV, pre-microwave, pre-touchtone, pre-credit card, pre-jet, pre-computer, pre-McDonalds era. He is pre-prenuptial. He has seen it all.

My folks are active. They live in a place where it’s fun to participate–and they do. Maybe that’s why they seem younger than the numbers indicate. They’re busier today than they ever were.

From time-to-time my father will say he’s “I’m an old man Geoffrey.”

That’s not a complaint. He’s not putting himself down. He’s saying it because he knows he’s younger than whatever the calendar currently shows. He’s bragging.

Without a doubt he is this blog’s most faithful reader. Could a son ask for more?

Happy birthday daddy. Many, many happy returns. I love and respect you more than you’ll ever know and I cherish each moment with you.

My Little Refrigerator

I mention it was in the dark, because I was amazed… no, make that disgusted… when I finally moved it to the other side of the studio, again behind a flat, when we redid the weather area a few months ago.

PIC-0044When my parents moved to Florida nearly a decade ago, I took their little basement refrigerator. After years of service to them, it was placed in the dark behind a set in the studio.

I mention it was in the dark, because I was amazed… no, make that disgusted… when I finally moved it to the other side of the studio. It was kicked out of its old spot during remodelling, but is again behind a studio flat.

Under the light, years of grunge and God knows what else became obvious. I found some paper towels and cleaner and had at it. Its level of filth would have fit perfectly during my bachelor years, but not the shirt and tie era!

It has not been defrosted since I moved it out of my folks’ basement. The freezer is now a solid chunk of ice the size of a microwave oven. That makes it a less efficient appliance.

Tonight, with the help of one of our floor crew, I moved it into the garage where it can finally defrost. I’m thinking 24 hours of dripping on the concrete floor should be enough.

Having your own personal refrigerator at work is a real luxury, and at the same time, a pain-in-the-ass. The luxury part is obvious. The pain part a little less so.

I let people store their drinks in it and even ‘borrow&#185’ mine. I don’t allow food.

You know how it is. People forget they’ve stowed a sandwich and soon you’ve got a science project growing!

There’s a big sign on the door reminding people not to put food in it. Still, I throw out food as soon as I see it, usually once a week or more.

It’s funny how something inconsequential like this little ‘fridge can be so important in making my work hours a little easier. I hope my folks don’t need it back.

Blogger’s addendum: 24 hours later, the freezer was still iced up! I went at it with an industrial hot air gun. Twenty minutes later, good to go.

&#185 – Borrowing is allowed, though except for a fellow meteorologist, no one has ever replaced anything they’ve taken – ever.

Great Day For My Dad

Let me talk about my father as if he wasn’t reading this… which he most certainly is. At 82, my dad’s totally sharp, but some of his parts are definitely out of warranty.

Botched cataract surgery left him with one working eye. The good eye has cataracts too, but he’s petrified to do anything about it. I can’t blame him.

Over the years his hearing has also begun to fail. If my parents are watching TV, anyone within a few hundred yards knows and when the telephone rings… holy crap, it’s like noontime at a cuckoo clock factory.

Of course the problem with my dad’s hearing loss is he really has no way of knowing what he can’t hear.

He wears a hearing aid in each ear, but why? They do nothing, except squeal when he removes them. It’s been frustrating for everyone involved, my dad included.

When we were visiting a few weeks ago, I asked my folks to check. Maybe there’s a better hearing aid available now, or his could be adjusted? It couldn’t hurt to ask.

They went today.

Yo, Costco. Shout out from Geoff. You rock! My dad can hear again. Let me kiss you on the lips.

My dad and mom went to Costco this afternoon. He met with an audiologist who gave him a hearing test and then adjusted the electronics in his hearing aids. It’s not just volume that gets tweaked. A good hearing aid should compensate differently at different frequencies.

“You don’t need new hearing aids,” the audiologist said. In fact, as it turns out, there’s still plenty of room to adjust them should his hearing continue to change. And did I mention – since he bought them at Costco originally, no charge.

My dad put them in and… oh my God, he can hear clearly. It’s the first time in years.

My mom was so excited she left a message on my cellphone. I could hear her voice bubbling as her voice played back.

When I finally spoke to my dad, I’m certain I could actually hear him grinning. “I can hear the microwave,” he said from the kitchen. “I never did before.”

I started to cry.

Actually, the most telling evidence came when my dad walked out of the bedroom. He complained to my mom the TV was too loud.


L.A. In The Sunshine Is Very Enticing

I had a ‘date’ for lunch, so I drove Stef and Helaine to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. There was a time when I had to explain Rodeo Drive to people who had never been to L.A., but it has become larger than life and universally known.

I wasn’t there, so I don’t know much of what went on (and since it was primarily shopping, I don’t want to know). There is one story the girls shared with me.

As they walked down the street they passed a trash can with smoke pouring from it. A man walked out of a store, poured a bottle of water in&#185 and left. But the smoke continue to waft out.

Within a few minutes, the sound of sirens. Then a Beverly Hills fire truck, police cars and traffic agents showed up. The street was blocked off and firefighters, direct from central casting, put out the smoldering trash receptacle.

Meanwhile, back in Century City, I was pulling onto the 20th Century Fox lot for lunch. Originally I drove in from the main entrance on Pico. The security guard there re-directed me to the parking garage off Galaxy.

Though I was farther from my destination, that was a good thing. I got a chance to walk through the Fox lot.

Make no mistake about it, this is a movie factory – which is very cool. Everywhere you walk are signs you’re in “Hollywood.” Though I saw no production in progress, it was obvious there was a lot going on.

There is no strange thing I saw at Fox. There were at least two vending boxes selling the NY Post. Granted, it is owned by Rupert Murdoch who also owns Fox, but it’s just a strange place to see the Post on sale.

Lunch was with someone I first met in 2nd grade! He is now a highly placed executive at Fox Television… and that’s why I’ll preserve his anonymity.

He’s a very nice guy, was very bright back then, and hasn’t changed. He is in a business where each and every decision has dollars attached to it. It’s a lot of pressure, a lot of accountability and I think he enjoys it.

We talked about people we knew from school and our families. In some ways our lives have run parallel. We both started families, having children, later in life.

It was really a great lunch and fun talking with someone who has insight into a part of my business that I normally have little contact with. As we said goodbye, the Robert Blake verdict came in.

Wow. No one more surprised than me. Well, maybe Robert.

I left Fox and headed to Beverly Hills to pick up Helaine and Stef. There had been a whole lot of looking and a little bit of buying.

We headed back to the hotel so I could pick up my camera. When we got there I noticed the satellite trucks and microwave vans lining up on Avenue of the Stars, in front of the hotel. “Arnold” was coming to speak at the Century Plaza tonight and protesters were expected! Coverage was assured.

After a quick break we headed back to the Valley. We wanted to take a look at a house. It was 4:30 and traffic on Santa Monica Boulevard was awful. The 405 was worse!

In the car, the subject turned to driving on California freeways. The 405, for instance, is 5 lanes in each direction. If you’re used to driving on 2 or 3 lane Interstates, 5 lanes can be unnerving.

Steffie’s theory is the right line on a 5 lane highway isn’t the breakdown lane, it’s the crying lane! People who are flustered, or otherwise unable to handle the highway pull to the side and cry. She might be right.

We cruised through Encino and Sherman Oaks, stopping at “Belle Gray,” a boutique owned by Lisa Rinna. Though Stef bought a shirt, she said the folks in the store weren’t particularly friendly or helpful.

After stopping at Ralph’s to pick up bottled water and fruit for the room, we headed to the Sherman Oaks Galleria and dinner at the Cheesecake Factory.

The Galleria was the mall setting for the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Of course nearly every place in the Los Angeles area has been the setting for something. A few years ago, after falling on hard times, the mall was closed, gutted and rebuilt. What is there now is smaller and open air.

In fact for dinner, we sat under a propane heater on an open air patio. The night was beautiful. The portions immense. We ate an left.

So, here it is 9:39 PM, as I type. Helaine and Stef are in bed and asleep. I won’t be far behind.

Tomorrow we’re planning on heading to the Pacific Coast Highway and driving through Malibu. Later, we’ve got dinner reservations with some friends. More tomorrow.

&#185 – This being Beverly Hills, I assume it was Evian.

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”

New York City Trip Report – Day 3

Click here, or on any photo to see my album of photos from this trip.

Lots to talk about as we finish our three days in New York. But, before we get to the day, a little housekeeping.

First, there’s the question of Internet access. The Millennium Broadway doesn’t have high speed access. In this day and age, that’s inexcusable. I knew it coming in. The location was our most pressing concern. Still…

The first night, I used dial up and got a fairly decent speed. I haven’t used dial up regularly in a long time. I don’t want to get used to it again.

The Sony Vaio laptop I brought along had a WiFi 802.11b card in the PCMCIA slot, so I tried to see if it would find anything. Zip from the desk. I moved the laptop to my lap and sat by the window. With all the buildings surrounding our hotel you’d think there would be some activity… and there was.

Using Netstumbler, I started looking at what I was hearing. First, most of the activity is concentrated on channel 6, which is in the middle of the band and probably the default for most access points. It was for mine (though I’ve since moved it).

Much of the traffic is WEP encrypted. That’s smart. There was a cluster of encrypted AP’s, all with ID’s that made me think they were owned by Bertelsmann Music Group. There were other encrypted transmitters and, a few that were open and in the clear. They just weren’t very strong.

Thursday evening, I was able to send and receive my mail using an AP that identified itself as Apple and then a cryptic series of digits. Probably an Apple AirPort. I sent myself an email through that AP to see the actual IP address. It was routed using road Runner, which is the time Warner cable modem service.

When the weather turned rainy on Friday, I was no longer able to connect to Apple or any other in the clear AP’s.

Over time, we grew to dislike our little room. It never really seemed clean and had some stains in strange places that weren’t right. The bathroom floor always seemed dull, even after the maid had visited.

I still don’t know how a hotel becomes 4-star. Is it self assigned?

Finally, I made an interesting discovery, looking at our window on that rainy Friday morning. There were weeds and moss growing on the top of an air conditioner unit. I am unsure if this unit is associated with the hotel or an adjacent building.

Now, with all this said, it’s on to Friday. It was a rainy day – the antithesis of Thanksgiving. Thank heavens the parade was yesterday!

Helaine and Steffie wanted to do some shopping and go to lunch before we headed back to Connecticut. We left the hotel and headed toward Macy’s. Being a good weather oriented family, we were prepared with the proper outerwear.

Macy’s isn’t too long of a walk, so we headed out to Broadway and then downtown, toward 34th Street. As you leave Times Square, Broadway is a monotonous series of cereal box office buildings with first floor storefronts. It is an area without much charm.

Macy’s is located in Herald Square. I’m not sure how it got its name. It might be a similar story to Times Square, in that there was a New York Herald (which, by the time I was growing up was the Herald Tribune, and whose Sunday supplement was New York Magazine).

Macy’s is probably unlike any other store you’ve ever seen. Its two buildings cover a full city block with 10 stories and over 1,000,000 square feet. Above the 4th floor, the metal escalators give way to wooden ones that must be fifty years old. The store is beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Since Macy’s attracts so many shoppers, it also attracts its fair share of everything else. By the time we got there, there was already a TV crew with a microwave truck from one of the local stations. I also saw a reporter/photographer team from a Spanish newspaper and a long photographer from Women’s Wear Daily.

There were also protesters. I’m sure this isn’t isolated. Macy’s was being picketed by animal rights activists, who themselves were corralled into a small pen, shouting about animals being killed to make fur coats. Outside the front entrance, a lone woman railed on about Macy’s policy of racial profiling and how they had a prison in the basement. If she was changing hearts, it was impossible to see. No one seemed to pay her any mind.

As Helaine and Steffie went shopping, I walked through the area. It’s not a really thriving shopping district, though there is a lot going on. The area holds Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, and The Empire State Building.

Across from Macy’s, in a microscopic triangular shaped park, Yahoo had set up four laptops with wireless Internet access and was extolling their shopping site. Everyone I saw who entered their little promotion won a hat… except me.

I met the girls at the base of the down escalator, and we left the store and hopped on the subway. We were heading to Greenwich Village to Jekyll and Hyde – a theme restaurant with a SciFi/Horror bent.

Getting off the subway at Christopher Street, we headed into Sheridan Square. Up ahead was a theater that has been the home to the long running “Naked Boys Singing”. Hey, it’s Greenwich Village – don’t be surprised.

I had actually been at either Jekyll and Hyde or the restaurant next door back in the mid-60’s when Bob Weiss’ family took Bob and me to see Jean Shepard do his live Saturday night broadcast on WOR. For a kid who idolized Shep, that was an incredible experience. I wonder what happened to bob. I probably haven’t spoken to him since 1966 or ’67.

Maybe I was a little tired, and ready to go home, but Jekyll and Hyde was not that great for me. I had a pretty good turkey club tortilla wrap, while around us, figures mounted on the walls came to life. At the same time, some jerk at an adjacent table made loud cell phone calls. Across the way, a little girl was celebrating her 4th birthday. I wonder if Jekyll and Hyde would cause her nightmares to help remember the day?

We hopped the subway and headed back north. While I looked at the “Rodenticide” sign, Steffie had a ‘wildlife’ spotting on the tracks. Obviously Rodenticide only works so long.

By the time we returned to the hotel to pick up the Explorer and head home, it was nearly four. I reached for the claim check… but it wasn’t there! We did find it, in my coat which had been left in storage with the bellmen.

The trip home was pretty easy. The day after Thanksgiving may be busy at the stores, but it’s less than pedestrian on the Connecticut Turnpike. Manhattan to our house took a little less than two hours.

During our stay in New York, I took nearly 500 photos. On Thanksgiving alone, I snapped nearly 1 GB worth of images. We all had a great time. Our anniversary will go in the books as a happy one. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will be a lifetime memory.

As I type this, early Monday morning, Priceline has just sent me a survey, asking about my hotel. I told all.

Click here, or on any photo to see my album of photos from this trip.