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Christmas Vacation Part 6

On our last night in New York, with the temperature dropping to 11 degrees, we shuffled into the Brooks Atkinson Theater to see Waitress.

Very cool show. Jason Mraz was in it and was a surprisingly good actor. The music was good and the cast was very talented.

But truly, the guy who stole the show was an actor named Christopher Fitzgerald. He played the boyfriend of one of the waitresses and was so funny that he had everyone in the theater laughing so hard,

Well ... time for bed (and heat) and then off to the airport and home for the rest of the holidays. Happy New Year to all!  (eventually).

Christmas Vacation Part 5

It is COLD!

I'm inside now trying to feel my face ... man. It's 20 degrees and wind chill is zero. LOOOONNNG way from Florida.

Yesterday was pretty cold too.

We took the subway to our Matinee play: Come From Away. It's the play about all the 9/11 airline passengers who had to land in Newfoundland.

It was a musical.

I wondered before we got there ... how do you make a musical out of Newfoundland residents and airline passengers in a stressful situation?


My answer came soon after we sat down in the theater as the band took their places.

It was FANTASTIC.

The cast was real. They looked and acted like townsfolk and like displaced passengers. The dialogue and the music was spot on.

Made you move to Newfoundland.

GREAT SEATS too.

After the show ... we went to dinner. (all we have done is eat!). This time it was Gotham Bar and Grill.

We had a corner table and another excellent dinner. Another winner.

This time ... they had a message for Debbie.  (Just because they can't spel…

Christmas Vacation Part 4

I admit I was skeptical.

The restaurant we had reservations with last night was in Brooklyn. We had to sign a contract way before we came. I promised money, my first born child, sent my last three pay stubs .... okay, maybe I exaggerated. It was only my last two pay stubs. 

Anyway, it was touted as one of the best restaurants in the world. Pretty heady stuff, right?

Well ... It WAS all that and more.

The River Cafe sits at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge and overlooks Manhattan. We had a front row seat ... a window that had the most magnificent view of the city you could have asked for. When we walked up to the restaurant, I took a picture of Debbie in the courtyard.

Breathtaking ... and the view was nice too.

It was cold last night ... in the 30s. But you didn't notice it with that background. The restaurant was beautiful inside ... intimate, warm and not at all stuffy and arrogant (I guess I was kinda expecting it to be cold and formal and pretty full of itself ... what a great …

Christmas Vacation Part 3.5

Just a quick update.

Because it’s Christmas Day there’s not much open. We were supposed to see a Knicks game but it didn’t work out (which was fine because we needed some time to shop and dine). This trip is costing me a fortune.

I found two great places to shop and to dine this afternoon.


I told Deb to spend whatever she likes.


Christmas Vacation Part 3

Christmas Eve morning at Radio City was a cold blast from the past! The line stretched around the block ... it was worth the wait.

Incredible production ... even 3D of Santa flying in to Manhattan  ("There is a Santa Claus ... There Is a Santa Claus" Said the little Jewish boy yesterday.)

The Rockettes haven't lost a step (haha). They boarded a bus on stage and took a ride through Times Square.

Then it snowed.

Not outside ... inside. That's right it snowed all over us with little flecks of white paper.

It's a Christmas miracle ... I didn't take pictures of the manger and the camels and the sheep and that stuff. Debbie took 734 shots of that if you want to see them.

I took the important stuff ... like Santa and his friends.

We took the subway back to the hotel ... changed clothes and then went to a cool place ... One if By Land. Two if By Sea. It's actually Aaron Burr's Carriage House. I kept singing "I am not throwing away my shot" (from Ha…

Christmas Vacation Part 2

We toasted to New York at the Cafe Carlyle in the Carlyle Hotel last night.

Cool place.

Now that Old Fashioned(s) (the drink that apparently my son even drinks) are in style with the younger set ... places like Carlyle are brimming with millennials and fans of Mad Men ... which is pretty much the rest of the world.

Opened in the 50's, it's the authentic Manhattan backdrop of the classic cabaret, Café Carlyle is known for headlining incredible talents; including Laura Benanti, Alan Cumming, Judy Collins and Woody Allen, who regularly appears with the Eddy Davis New Orleans jazz band.


Steve Tyrell is the headliner for the holidays. Been here for many years and took over for Bobby Short when he died.  He's done a ton of collaboration, producing and recording of soundtracks, standards and movies ... was the wedding singer in Father of the Bride and he won Grammys and an Emmy or two. Wait ... we won an Emmy (but his is probably bigger ... anybody remember Chicken Named Mac? Su…

Christmas Vacation Pt. 1

Yes ... we are taking a REAL Christmas vacation.

Day 1

Loaded up a rental car from Enterprise and off we went to Savannah to see the kids. Why a rental car you might ask? Good question ... you see we are going to New York for the remainder of our vacation and decided to drive to Savannah, fly to NY and fly back to Tampa.

Clever huh?

Debbie found a great place to park our car ... only 10 miles from the airport and we save $1 a day. It took about a half hour and a heated discussion with the guy who wanted to rip her off and charge her extra when she actually drove in to change her mind. I was more than happy to pay the extra dollar to park at the airport.

So off we went ... only a couple of hours behind schedule.

The Jeep was old school. That is ... basic radio, power windows and a/c. Man ... I am spoiled. I complained the whole way until we stopped for gas (the first time). We had barely made it outside of Orlando and we were already 3/4 of a tank down. I thought we must have sprung a…

Growing Up Without Christmas

I just checked my old blog posts to see how many of them were related to Christmas ... Twelve. That was eye opening to me. Considering I grew up without Christmas ... I sure focus on it a lot.

It wasn't like I really missed out all those years that I lived at home. After all, we had Hanukkah. Right? All you Jews out there know how exciting THAT holiday is. Eight Crazy Nights! Lighting candles, reading Hebrew prayers, opening a present a night like chocolate coins or plastic dreidels and retelling the fake story about Judah Macabee and the eternal light.

I didn't care that my other friends were opening cool gifts on Christmas day like model planes and cowboy guns and new socks and underwear. They didn't say it to me but I knew how jealous they were. They had to do Christmas dinner at home with their families while I got to go to Chinese restaurants and eat as much moo goo gai pan as I wanted to.

My kids have all experienced Christmas AND Hannukah. With a Jewish Dad and a C…

It's Good the be The King!

How cool is this?

I was just voted Person of the Year by Time Magazine. I know ... Trump was the original pick but he turned them down. I don’t care. So what if I was the second choice? They called me today to ask if I would accept and I said “Sure ... I’ll be happy to. “

There are a few strings attached ... however.

-First, they said I would be responsible for payment of the first press run. How many could that be ... a hundred or so?

-Second, there is some prince in South Africa that needs my help (this apparently is required as part of the humanitarian component of the nomination). I’ll help him. How complicated can it be?

-Third, this particular issue will not make the commercial news stands. Special issues seldom do (a fact I didn’t know). The people I talked to promised that copies would be sent electronically to subscribers. They said that I should get a list of family and friends together for a special mailing that I might have to pay for as well ... but it's worth it.

I…

You've Got A Friend In Me, Randy

Last night, Deb surprised me with a date night and it wasn't even my birthday.

The day before, my sinuses were angry and wouldn't let me out of bed. Fortunately. they gave me a break last night and cleared ... just long enough so that we could spend time at the Capitol Theater with RANDY NEWMAN.

What a night!

Randy Newman was by far the biggest influence on my music. There's no one quite like him. Mix ragtime, New Orleans dixieland, swing ... a few passing chords underneath ... a voice that defies definition ... a cynical look at life with sweet lyrics ... smart and clean ... that's Randy.

And he did not disappoint. He came out on stage ... just Newman and a grand piano ... looking like he just rolled out of bed and played like the genius he is. Hard to say which ones are my favorites because I really love them all for different reasons. Back to back he played my New Orleans favorites (as close to autobiographical for him as any) Dixie Flyer and Louisiana. As the stor…

And Another Thing About North Carolina ...

So ... we are at the airport just about to leave Asheville. I decided to write a few more highlights from the trip because the sisters said I left out soooo much (their words).

1. Cards Against Humanity ... ever heard of it? It is truly a blast to play (but not for the faint hearted or those with an aversion to words that describe bodily functions of ALL types). We played the game ... which was given to us by Josh and Theresa (so proud of those kids) on the second night.

The twins were in the "how disgusting!" category, Lee and Keli were in the clueless category and the guys were in hog heaven. After explaining in detail every perversion known to man on each card that the girls drew, we played a few rounds ... laughing more at them than the answers to the questions.

Last laugh was on the guys ... the twins won the first two sets, beating all of us.

2. Planning FUTURE trips. There was a heated discussion lasting on and off for pretty much the entire weekend about a girls'…

In My Mind I'm Going (Crazy) in Carolina

Flew to North Carolina on Thursday to spend a few days with the Gallagher sisters and all us tag along spouses. Debbie and Dennie have birthdays on October 19 and really wanted to celebrate at the Masterson cabin in Lake Glenville ... but because that weekend we'll be at a football game in New Orleans ... we decided to celebrate this weekend instead.

Started out at St. Pete Clearwater Airport and wound up in a remote parking area that we didn't knew existed, waited in multiple lines of confusion, were shepherded into the only security lane open and finally settled into our seats on Allegiant Air to Asheville  ... in other words ... business as usual. Actually, from there it was pretty uneventful. Rented a car and drove about an hour to the cabin and didn't get lost once!

It's truly a beautiful spot.

Nestled in the mountains, Tom and Dennie's cabin sits high above Lake Glenville and is big enough to accommodate the eight of us very comfortably.

By the way .. the fa…

Cleaning Day

Today, Debbie and I did a project together.

To be exact ... for me ... it sounded like the project from hell. We were tackling my office and my closet. Deb has been after me for years to clean out all the clutter that I call my "treasures".

Today she said she would do it with me so I jumped at the chance because ...
1. Debbie is the most organized person I know,
2. I am the least organized person I know.
3. I knew that meant she would be totally frustrated with me "helping" and just basically do it herself.

We started with my closet.

I dove into receipts from 1978, slot tickets for $.37, name tags from every event I ever attended, 38 pairs of headsets, cuff links that don't match and of course a few hundred dollars in pennies and dimes.

My idea to clean it out was to get a big trash bag and just dump it all in.

Debbie was horrified!

There is a method, Deb told me: Build piles. One pile is all the receipts and papers that have financial information (to be shred…
Ate at Bonefish on Friday night.

Our server was brand new. She was very pleasant and reminded me of the cheery round nun in that Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act ... even had the same voice.

"Would we like to start with an appetizer?"

Okay ... here's one of my biggest pet peeves. Why do some servers have to include themselves in the order? Is she having an appetizer with us?

I just let that one pass ... "Actually, I would love to get the bang bang shrimp."

"Mmmmm my favorite too. What would we like to drink tonight?"

Strike two. Deb ordered wine ... I had scotch.

"And for dinner?" That was better. no 'we' or 'us' in that statement. Deb spoke up. "We are going to split the lobster tails and have the corn chowder and salads."  It was a celebration night and Deb had closed a big sale.

Dinner was delicious and the universal 'we' was put to bed ... or so WE thought. "Any dessert for US?"

"Um ... n…

A NOVEL Idea

Trying out a few ideas for a novel with the central character based on my dad, Sammy. I'm not sure where its going but I've experimented with a screenplay and now a novel.

Here's a sample chapter. What do you think?

************************************
        Barry wheeled Sammy into Haim’s Deli. As soon as he stepped through the front door, the unmistakable smells and sounds of the delicatessen settled over Barry’s senses and calmed him. He spotted Haim Shear working behind the counter, slicing meat carefully in long strips and placing them in butcher rap. Haim learned the business from his father, Izzy. He carried on the tradition when Izzy passed away 10 years ago and bought the building that bears his name today. 

“Sam. You’re looking pretty chipper today.”  Haim yelled across the counter as he spotted the Levines. “Is Barry taking you out on the town today?”

Sammy pointed to the meat counter. “Say, Haim  ... Make me a corned beef on rye very lean ... lots of mustard and…