Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Finer Diner

The original Brooklyn Diner on 57th St. in Manhattan is NOT your typical diner. In fact this place calls itself "the finer diner" and it lives up to its name with table linens, superb service and an excellent bar.
Yesterday we enjoyed this divinely unique eatery once again.
Celebrating American ethnic dishes found all over Brooklyn, the menu features the kind of real food you crave to eat, just like your mother used to make…only better. Every part of Brooklyn is represented by Jewish, Italian, Irish & other ethnic favorites. And every childhood fantasy is fulfilled by the enormous desserts, all baked on the premises every day.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch (weekends 8 till 3) and late night snacks are always available at this cozy spot where we've often seen stars including Tony Bennett, Nathan Lane and Linda Lavin. (We're told that Seinfeld is a frequent guest but we haven't seen him yet.)
Our favorites: the spectacular 15-Bite All Beef Hot Dog; the cheeseburger deluxe, the roast organic turkey "club" with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce and the hot corned beef special. Sundaes are incredible. The cheesecake is dreamy and the lemon meringue pie is as high as a skyscraper.
BTW: The Brooklyn Diner is also now open at Times Square on 155 W. 43th St. with its own special menu.
Go! Enjoy!


Rarely - and I do mean rarely - we are treated to a transcendent experience in the theatre: something so powerful; so overwhelming; so meaningful and so close to perfection that we remember it for the rest of our lives.
Over many decades I can count on one hand when this has happened to me: in 1970 when I saw Stephen Sondheim's musical Company; in 1979 when I experienced Sondheim's Sweeney Todd; in 1994 at the thrilling production of Andrew Llyod Webber's Sunset Boulevard; again in 1994 at the Harold Prince full production of Jerome Kern's Show Boat and in 1998 at the Paper Mill Playhouse production of Sondheim's Follies.
Ten years is a long time to wait.
But yesterday we finally got to add another transcendent experience to our list.
I'm talking about the new Lincoln Center production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific starring Kelli O'Hara and Paulo Szot (pictured). One critic summed it up best when he said this splendid production "gives new meaning to the word grand."
It has taken nearly 60 years for South Pacific to come back to Broadway in a full production. Thank goodness the Rodgers and Hammerstein organization waited and waited waited till things were just right. This production at the Vivien Beaumont Theatre features a full 30 piece orchestra with the same orchestrations and instruments that were used in in original 1949 production starring the great Mary Martin and Enzio Pinza.
Critic Ben Brantly in the New York Times has correctly noted that this new production reinvigorates the "concept of the organic musical, in which song feels as natural as breathing" and he points out that "this reflective aspect infuses every number; nothing is performed as a clap-for-me showstopper." The show flows seamlessly and every single performance is superb right down to the smallest parts. But when O'Hara sings "I'm In Love With A Wonderful Guy" or Szot sings "Some Enchanted Evening" or "This Almost Was Mine" you can feel the joy, the unabashed romance, the poignancy.
Suppression performs the ultimate seduction in this South Pacific. It isn't over-amplified. It isn't over-staged. It isn't over-played. And even with its drumbeat message of tolerance, it never really gets preachy.
This is an American Grand Opera. It's a transcendent theatrical experience, thrilling beyond belief.
Whatever you do, don't miss it!
NYT photo by Sara Krulwich

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Goosebump Time

From Aimee Cirucci:
Yesterday, for the first time in my life I was given the opportunity to vote for a woman on a national presidential ticket.
I was too young to vote for Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and this year I watched the systematic destruction of Hillary Clinton by a Democratic party which preached inclusively but failed to practice it. I was told by the media, my friends, the Obama campaign and pundits everywhere that if I wanted to be a part of history I'd have to vote for a first-term senator from Illinois.
Yesterday, all that changed.
I found myself goosebumped and riveted to the self-described hockey mom from Alaska. No one could be further outside the Beltway. She makes Obama look slick, coiffed and calculating (which he is).
No one further destroys the myth that middle aged women are frumpy, bitchy, and past their prime. This woman is formidable. Her presence on the ticket is ground breaking and important. The Obama campaign's quickly dashed off response to her choice reeked of sexism and immaturity. If this is a sign of things to come it's not going to be pretty.
Somehow I think she can handle it.

The Hillary Factor

From Christine Flowers in the Philadelphia Daily News:
I really feel for the Hillaryites in Denver. By all accounts, Sen. Clinton has been treated with a lack of respect by the Obama crowd, who've spent all week sounding a lot like Rodney King: "Why can't we all just get along, why can't we all just . . ."
They appeared to have selective memories, almost letting them forget that she got 18 million votes. (Don't worry, she very happily reminded them.)
But Obama's people, who suddenly decided that "unity" was almost as important as "change" - which is only slightly more important than "hope" - were apparently hell-bent on keeping her in her place.
Of course, one of those places happened to be in front of the cameras in prime time, but there was an understanding that she couldn't upstage The Guy. It was his convention, after all. And his ticket, with no place for her on it.
So I completely understand why Hillary's faithful are dragging tail.
But empathy can take you only so far. . . .

To read the rest of Christine's excellent column click here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

VP Surprise

I was wrong. And I am so glad. This morning we received word that both Romney and Pawlenty have confirmed that they are not McCain's VP choice. This is a shocker. All eyes are on Alaska Governor Sarah Palin who I first mentioned in this June post. The Associated Press report that a private jet delivered a woman and two teenagers to Dayton from Alaska late last night has further fueled speculation. If the choice is Palin (which we'll know in a matter of hours) it is a bold move to capture women voters. Palin is young, conservative, dynamic, a true Washington outsider with a strong background in energy policy and a surprise choice that can quickly reclaim momentum for McCain. Go Sarah!

Bravo, Bernadette!

I'm not one to use the word "diva" without good reason.
But Broadway legend Bernadette Peters truly is a diva in the best sense of the word.
Broadway has been Bernadette's life.
She made her stage debut at nine in This is Goggle, a comedy directed by Otto Preminger that closed during out-of-town tryouts before reaching New York. She first appeared on the New York stage at age 10 in the New York City Center revival of The Most Happy Fella (1959). At 13 she appeared in the role of a "Hollywood Blonde" and was an understudy for "Dainty June" in a touring company of Gypsy. Upon graduation from high school, she started working steadily, appearing Off-Broadway in the musicals The Penny Friend (1966) and Curley McDimple (1967)and as an understudy on Broadway in The Girl in the Freudian Slip (1967). She made her Broadway debut in Johnny No-Trump in 1967 and next appeared as George M. Cohan's sister opposite Joel Grey in George M! (1968), winning the Theatre World Award.
The rest is a series of Broadway triumphs: Dames at Sea, Mack and Mable, On The Town, The Goodbye Girl, Sunday In The Park With George, Song And Dance, Annie Get Your Gun and Gypsy. Every time she steps onto a stage the gal who was born Benadette Lazzara in Queens gives the performance of her life.
We saw Bernadette in concert the other night at The Mann Center, Philadelphia's celestial outdoor venue. Thanks to the folks at PECO Energy (which sponsors PECO Pops At The Mann) it was a wonderful night. We can't think of a better way to spend a summer evening (or any evening for that matter) than watching and listening to Bernadette Peters.


Did you notice New Jersey at the Dem convention?
Of course you didn't.
Joisey delegates sat in the rafters. Their seating in the convention hall was abysmal.
No Joisey speakers were showcased. None.
And Obama hasn't stepped foot in Joisey in ages. He doesn't have to.
Here's the dirty little secret, New Jersey: The Democrat Party doesn't give a damn about you. They long ago assumed they have you in their hip pocket. You're the easy date they can always have, the quick touch, the "get lucky" night (or afternoon delight) they can always count on.
It doesn't matter how they use you, how they abuse or debase you, how much they lie to you or how much they fleece you -- you'll always come back for more. And the Democrats know it.
So don't look for spotlight speakers, prominent roles, special favors or good seats up front, Joisey. To the Democrats you are and always will be strictly backstreet and backdoor.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Looks Like Romney

As McCain gets ready to announce his Veep pick all attention is now centering on Mitt Romney. Mitt certainly seems to be the likely choice.
Mac & Mitt has a nice ring to it as well.
We should know very, very soon . . . . perhaps within moments.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Old White Man

In the end Team Obama had to turn to an old white man.
They chose an old man who was first elected to the Senate when Obama was only a kid.
It seems he needed the appearance of stability. He needed some sense of seasoning.
That's the way it appears.
Obama's people surely conducted polls and focus groups before the decision was made. They certainly must have poured over their findings. They must have studied the comments, the reactions and the numbers carefully.
And no doubt they tested several options - several names, several possibilities for Vice President. These sorts of decisions aren't made capriciously anymore. No way.
And after all their consideration, all their consultation, all their study and all their vetting Team Obama picked an old white man.
It's funny. Funny, because Obama's running against an old white man.
And now he's got an old white man alongside him as his partner.
So, it seems old white men do have some worth. Indeed, it seems old white men have something to contribute after all.

What Falls Away

In 1997 Mia Farrow wrote a memoir called What Falls Away.
It's one of the finest books of its type that I have ever read.
In this book Mia Farrow not only tells the story of her fascinating life but she also blows the lid off the public persona of the very private (and quite vindictive) personality that we know as Woody Allen. As Mia tells it, Allen is a miserable, spiteful little man who has little regard for truth, honor, fidelity or family.
The Woody Allen that we come to know in this book is a cowardly, self-absorbed little jerk.
The book had such a profound effect on me that from 1997 onward I refused to pay money to see a Woody Allen film. And I had been one of his biggest fans. I loved his movies, his humor, his neurotic New York persona. But I just couldn't bear to watch him any more or to give him even one cent of my entertainment dollar.
It's no accident that Woody Allen's films are no longer billed that way. Allen's name is in the background now. So, Vicky Christina Barcelona simply happened to be written and directed by Woody Allen. But Allen himself is not prominently featured in any way. And this is his first movie in a long time to gain reasonable reviews and somewhat of a following.
Yes, I did pay to see the film. I wanted to see this group of new, young actors working together in a [sometimes] sensual "love" story.
But Mia Farrow's sentiments and her searing honesty still ring true with me. And I doubt I'll ever view Woody Allen kindly again.
BTW: I'm not alone in feeling this way. Another person who read the book said this: It'll be quite a while before I would care to touch a Woody Allen ANYTHING, especially a book or film that would put money in his selfish, narcissistic, self-serving pocket.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We're Number 5!

We're now in the Top Five!
That's right: We're among the five most influential political blogs in New Jersey according to Blog Net News New Jersey. BNN New Jersey is a site you should visit often and we're proud to be linked to them.
We work hard to stay up with news, trends, politics, the popular culture and all of the other subjects and interests that attract our attention. And we also work hard to prove insights into New Jersey life and politics - something which we think we know a little bit about.
We thank you for helping to make us a Top Blog and we ask that you tell your friends and keep returning. In fact, it's a good idea to visit us several times a day because you never know what you're going to discover - not just about New Jersey, but about the world!

Delightful Devon

On Friday night we dined at Devon Seafoord Grill on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.
It was a cool summer evening and the square was teeming with diners, mostly young. The restaurants that line the 18th Street side of the square (Rouge, Devon and Steven Starr's new Parc) were all maxed out with crowds that spilled out into the street and filled every available sidewalk table as well.
Fortunately we had a reservation and we arrived right on schedule and were escorted to our table. We enjoyed a wonderful prix fixed menu that included New England clam chowder, Devon's heavenly crab cakes and a dessert of key lime pie. And yes, the martini was quite satisfying, thank you.
One of the great attractions of Devon is their sweet biscuits. They are always warm and always fresh and we dare you to eat just one. Other house favorites include a San Francisco style Cioppinno with shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, fresh catch and red wine tomato sauce; and chipotle grilled shrimp enchiladas with pico de gallo. Seafood choices change with the season. Right now Devon features broiled, pan-seared and grilled fish, Costa Rican tilapia, Alaskan halibut, Block Island swordfish, Canadian walleye, Atlantic salmon and Mahi Mahi.

VickyChristina & Cruz!

Is there a more beautiful image on the screen today than Penelope Cruz?
Cruz shines in Vicky Christina Barcelona which we enjoyed over the weekend.
In this movie, two young Americans spend a summer in Spain and meet a flamboyant artist (Javier Bardem) and his beautiful but insane ex-wife (Penelope Cruz). Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is straight-laced and about to be married. Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) is a sexually adventurous free spirit. When they all become amorously entangled, the results can be both funny and harrowing, often at the same time.
The film has opened to brisk business and has achieved a solid 79% favorable rating at Rotten Tomatoes, a reliable site that collects the verdicts of hundreds of film reviewers.
Much of the appeal of the film has to do with the beautiful footage of Barcelona and the intense performances of Bardem and Cruz. They are simply great fun to watch and Cruz plays a tempestuous, sultry character with such adroitness that she brings back fond memories of Ava Gardner and similar stars. Plus, the whole story gives us much to think about as it juxtaposes European and American manners and sensibilities.
In fact there is a political undercurrent to this movie: Even so-called "hip" Americans who deperately want to be European can't seem to pull it off; cant' seem to really let go; can't seem to plug into the European mindset and lifestyle. In the end, they wind up looking evry bit as foolish ad they actually are.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden Here First

You read it here first.
Last Tuesday, August 19 I wrote:
Washington insiders are now betting on Joe Biden as Obama's Veep pick and the announcement could come very soon - even as you're reading this.Will it be Biden?Well, Obama does need gravitas and Biden seems to have it.Lately, Obama's youth and inexperience have been on ample display. And the Saddleback Church forum and Georgia crisis have only exacerbated the situation.
That was FOUR DAYS before the official announcement.
Then, last night at 10 PM, FIVE HOURS before the official announcemnt I said again:
It's Biden.
Every indicator now points to Biden as Obama's choice.Translation: Obama knows he's in trouble. He knows he needs help: needs a seasoned hand; needs some gravitas; needs the perception of wisdom, heft, strength.He's not crazy over Biden but he really, really wants to win - and he wants to win without putting Hillary on the ticket.
So, it's Biden.
Keep coming back. Keep paying attention. When it happens, you'll read it here first!

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Biden

Numerous sources say that Bayh and Kaine are now out of the running.
It's hairplug time, folks.
It's Biden.
Every indicator now points to Biden as Obama's choice.
Translation: Obama knows he's in trouble. He knows he needs help: needs a seasoned hand; needs some gravitas; needs the perception of wisdom, heft, strength.
He's not crazy over Biden but he really, really wants to win - and he wants to win without putting Hillary on the ticket.
So, it's Biden.
Forget what Biden said about Obama being "clean."
Forget Biden's comment about the White House being no place for "on the job training."
Biden will be the teacher now. He'll do the training. Or so he thinks.
And forget that Biden and Obama voted differently on the Iraq war and other issues. Obama has little choice. He didn't expect it to be this way. But he has to go with blabby 'ole Biden.
Try it out: Bamabiden!
Get used to it. It's Biden.

Stanwyck Still Shines

In the pantheon of Hollywood's greats, Barbara Stanwyck's star still shines bright.
Earlier this week Turner Classic Movies dedicated an entire day to Stanwyck's films in a glorious tribute to a star who was supremely classy, refreshingly human and unquestionably dedicated to her profession.
On TCM I watched The File On Thelma Jordan a 1950 film starring Stanwyck and Wendel Corey. Stanwyck plays a woman who seduces an assistant district attorney and pulls him into a web of theft and murder. The great thing about Stanwyck was that she could play a myriad of roles and she had a fine touch with both comedy and drama. And it almost didn't matter who she was paired with. She was a trooper who could equal or best the biggest co-star. At the same time she was a wonderful ensemble player who always seemed to enjoy the support and respect of her colleagues on the set.
Like many of the great woman stars of her era Barbara Stanwyck dedicated the better part of her life to the movies. As a strong, independent woman and an accomplished professional, she was way ahead of her time. She used her smarts, her talent, her instincts and her charm to get to the top and she knew how to stay there. And she did it all while remaining very much a lady.
One things for sure: They'll be showing Stanwyck's films as long as people are watching movies. Next time you get the chance, catch one.
BTW: You can watch The File On Thelma Jordan online by clicking here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Many Houses?

Obama wants to know: How many houses does McCain own?
Oh, so now Obama has decided to enter into class warfare.
Response from the McCain camp:
"Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses? Does a guy who worries about the price of arugula and thinks regular people 'cling' to guns and religion in the face of economic hardship really want to have a debate about who’s in touch with regular Americans?
“The reality is that Barack Obama’s plans to raise taxes and opposition to producing more energy here at home as gas prices skyrocket show he’s completely out of touch with the concerns of average Americans.”

And since we're asking questions, here's what I want to know:
How many houses does Jay Rockefeller own?
How many houses does Nancy Pelosi own?
How many houses does Jon Corzine own?
How many houses do John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry own?
How many houses does Dianne Feinstein own?
How many houses do the Kennedys own?
How many houses does John Edwards own and who's living in them?
If this is where the campaign is going, let's find out.

Grounds For Exhilaration

Earlier this week we visited Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton NJ just off Route 295 near Princeton.
Grounds for Sculpture occupies 35 beautiful acres which once comprised the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. This beguiling art park was founded in 1992 by J. Seward Johnson and in fact you can find quite a few of Johnson's works among the sculptures. Most of the sculptures on exhibit outdoors are displayed courtesy of The Sculpture Foundation, Inc., a charitable foundation that collects works of art by American and international artists. The Foundation supports Grounds For Sculpture by lending works for exhibit in the park. Sculptures in a variety of styles and media, including bronze, steel, stone, wood, concrete and mixed media are represented. The outdoor exhibition grows by approximately 15 sculptures annually. New additions outdoors are selected to augment indoor exhibitions, to add new artists to the sculpture park, and to work in conjunction with the landscaped environment.
We chose a perfect summer day for our visit.
As one walks through the beautiful grounds and admires the many works of art (there are more than 200 pieces on display) a feeling of restful contemplation stimulates the visitor's imagination. The sculptures and the many varieties of plants and flowers are in such tranquil harmony that the effect is mesmerizing. You can easily spend an entire day here since there are many spots to stop, sit and simply gaze. And you will want to take your time.
Refreshments are available at The Gazebo, The Cafe or at Rat's Restaurant which overlooks sculptures in the park as well as a lily-pond and bridge inspired by the paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet. We choose Rat's for a relaxing summer lunch.
Why the name Rat`s? In Kenneth Grahame's classic, The Wind In The Willows, one of J. Seward Johnson, Jr.'s favorite books, the character Ratty represented everything a host should be. As founder of Rat's and Grounds For Sculpture, Johnson likens himself to Ratty who threw the best parties with the best wine. Likewise, the two share delightful imaginations and far-reaching dreams. Inside and out Rat's is ornate and whimsical.
Grounds for Sculpture is one of those few places that can honestly be called unique. You will be renewed and awakened by your visit here. Don't miss it!
Photo: Ricardo

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hill To Resucue?

As the OH!man's stock continues to fall many people feel he will need a surprising, powerful fix to get his halting campaign back on track.
And that has seasoned observers focusing on one possible savior: Hillary.
Could the deal already be cut to put Hillary on the ticket? Or is it now in the works? Could we see this type of last-minute, dramatic shift to save the man and the party?
Stranger things have happened. And this wouldn't be the first time that two old rivals teamed up to make history: Kennedy/Johnson, Reagan/Bush.
But would Hillary do it? Would Bill go along with it? Could Obama himself face the prospect of sharing power with Billary & Co? Could Michelle accept it all?
Ralph Nader says he thinks the Vice Presidential nominee will be Hillary. But Nader also says he may also wake up with egg on his face.
And since Hillary will be nominated (and her votes will be tallied) at the convention, she may actually still be holding out for the top prize hoping that increasing concern about Obama will give super delegates cold feet.
But then again one way to halt that would be to choose Hillary as Veep.
One thing seems clear: Obama needs to do something soon. And now there really is no margin for error.
Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Looks Like Biden

Washington insiders are now betting on Joe Biden as Obama's Veep pick and the announcement could come very soon - even as you're reading this.
Will it be Biden?
Well, Obama does need gravitas and Biden seems to have it.
Lately, Obama's youth and inexperience have been on ample display. And the Saddleback Church forum and Georgia crisis have only exacerbated the situation.
On the surface Biden would seem like a safe pick but watch out: Biden can be a loose cannon. After all, he is the guy who said of Obama: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Bright? Clean? Nice-Looking? Biden later apologized. Still, his comments took second place on Time magazine's list of Top Ten Political Gaffes of 2007.
And Biden also said Obama had a "Johnny come lately" position on Afghanistan by asking for more brigades last summer.
Plus this: Biden's own 1988 presidential campaign came to an abrubt end when he was caught plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party.

Calculated Cuisine

On Sunday we returned to one of our favorite Philly restaurants, Buddakan.
Along with The Continental Buddakan is among Steven Starr's most successful creations. In fact it's so successful that it has already spawned outlets in New York and Atlantic City. The orginal Philadelphia version of this modern Asian restaurant nonetheless retains a distinctive appeal. And so it has drawn us back again and again.
Now, I'm not going to say that we didn't have a pleasant experience. We did.
And I'm not going to say that the service wasn't efficient. It was.
And I won't say that the food wasn't any good. It was fine and it was plentiful.
But something was missing.
It's almost as if the whole place was on automatic pilot and that everything had been programmed so that those in charge knew just how attentive they ought to be (no more, no less) and understood just how much they wanted us to spend (more, not less) and just how much time we were supposed to stay (less, not more). It was just a bit too corporate, too slick, too cool, too claculated and too impersonal for our tastes.
And what that means is that in the end it simply wasn't very memorable.
Maybe next time.

Queen Nancy Knows

On Sunday Nancy Pelosi introduced Barack Obama at a Democrat fund raiser that garnered nearly $8 million, most of it in large checks to a Democrat Party committee.
So much for those small contributors.
Amidst all this loot the millionaire Queen Nancy looked to the heavens and called Obama "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time."
Yes, when you are The Queen you can not only talk to God but you can come to understand the will of God as well: who God chooses to bless us with and who God sends to us for our own good.
Perhaps next week Queen Nancy will tell us how we can miraculously solve our energy crisis without drilling for oil on our own land or off our own coast. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Tearin Up The Town!

"Don't ever apologize for being patriotic!"
Those were the concluding words of Toby Keith to his overflow audience Saturday night at the Susquehanna Bank Center where Toby and Montgomery Gentry gave fans three solid hours of rip-roarin country music. And we were front and center for the whole extravaganza.
Toby was the headliner and he ended his string of hits program with Courtesy of the Red White and Blue which he sang with a full contingent of military personnel standing by his side. We're not talking generals and top brass here. We're talking ordinary GI Joes and Janes - the ones who do the heavy lifting, the grunt work.
Toby was backed up by his Easy Money band in front of a huge screen projecting an image of the performance and Toby's many videos. And the stage was set up like a Ford truck complete with a multi-level grill and huge headlights. Add to this ample pyrotechnics and shooting stars, streamers and confetti and you've got the prescription for a raucous country program that kept participants partying well into the night.
But I've got to admit it: Montgomery Gentry's opening act set everyone up for a night to remember. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry know how to evoke a full range of emotions with songs like Back When I Knew It All, My Town, Lucky Man and That's Sumthin To Be Proud Of. This pair works so well together that it's hard to figure out where one ends and the other begins. Sometimes it's Troy turning on the charm and Eddie oozing macho. Sometimes, it's the other way around. When Gentry flashes his grin his choppers project the spotlight to the far reaches of the venue. And when Montgomery twirls that microphone stand around, hold onto your hats.
So many people were on hand to enjoy this high-energy evening (including the Eagles' Big John Runyon who sat a few rows behind us) that the audience enthusiasm was contagious.
After it was all over we headed back to Cherry Hill and waited for our hearing to be restored while enjoying an post-midnight chocolate sundae at Ponzio's famous diner. Quite a night!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Al Fresco Dining

Evening weather has been pleasantly cool here of late and that lends itself to al fresco dining.
On Friday night friends took us to Caffe Aldo Lamberti in Cherry Hill where we enjoyed a lovely open air dinner at the flagship restaurant of the Lamberti chain. Aldo Lamberti has created a plush dining environment at his namesake eatery. The service is attentive without being intrusive and the atmosphere is soothing, inviting meaningful conversation and the enjoyment of outstanding faire.
Recently Caffe Aldo Lamberti opened Enoteca, Aldo Lamberti’s newly constructed indoor/outdoor bar and patio, featuring a unique glass enclosed, temperature-controlled wine room. At night the Enoteca bar takes on a romantic tone, shimmering in Caffe's soft light. We sat just beyond Enoteca and enjoyed risotto, lobster stuffed with crabmeat, sesame tuna and scallops, espresso and a dessert of tartufo.
Only one word describes it all: Bella!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

China Olympics A Sham

From Aimee Cirucci writing at
“Made in China” has never spelled value to me, especially in light of last year’s lead toy fiasco, which proved products from China may not only be cheap but downright dangerous.
Sadly, this year’s Summer Olympic Games are also made in China and the recent scandals, cover-ups and egregious fraud prove that Beijing 2008 is no more trustworthy than the latest Mattel toy. Even before the Olympics began, news came of the horrors of China’s breakneck construction. By all reports, unskilled workers were paid meager sums to risk their lives building the often-photographed Bird’s Nest and other venues in the frenzied run-up to the games. When workers were killed on the job, often plummeting to their deaths, a systematic cover-up ensued: Bodies were quickly removed, and families paid for their silence. No detail was overlooked in the sham of presenting a unified, happy, near-perfect China.
Concerns about the country’s air quality, additional earthquakes, and an overgrowth of algae were quickly squelched in the lead-up to the games, but concerns about human rights have been tougher to push under the rug.As the Olympics began, even more stories broke of the digitized fireworks in the opening ceremony, the questionable ages of China’s gold medal winning women gymnasts and most recently, the admission that the little girl meant to “be flawless in vision” singing China’s national anthem was in fact not singing at all.
These Olympics are as much a farce as the statement said to come from the actual 7-year-old singer, the one the communist regime dubbed buck toothed and unfit, who was reportedly “honored” to have had a role in the opening ceremony. If you believe that, I have a piece of oceanfront property in Arizona for you.
While Matt and Meredith teach lessons on how to use chopsticks and participate in moon festivals, an oppressive communist machine controls every aspect of this year’s Olympics. In truth, the problems one may face in modern day China are far more serious than chopstick etiquette. Dissenting voices are relentlessly silenced; the Internet and media fiercely controlled, and propaganda run amuck. Most concerning of all, as China’s fraud is exposed again and again, the International Olympics Committee (IOC) continues to defend its host nation and refuses to investigate any of the recent criticisms. No one summed it up better than USA Today’s Christine Brennan who wrote, “The last amateurs left in the Olympic world are the people running it.”


Word out of Washington is that McCain is said to be focusing on Romney, Liberman or Ridge with Pawlenty as an outside choice for Vice President. Still, Dick Morris thinks McCain could opt for a woman and that he might turn to Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. I think Kay Bailey would be a great choice.
On the other side there is increasing buzz about the possibility that Obama will pick John Kerry. I think it would be near hilarious if that happened: IF Obama picked Kerry and IF Kerry accepted. Could you just picture Teresa Heinz Kerry and Michelle Obama on the campaign trail? What a team that would make. And as for Obama and Kerry, that's sort of like green tea and arugula; white wine and brie, Starbucks and Perrier. For the limousine liberal crowd it would be near orgasmic.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hold The Cupcake!

Cupcakes are popping up everywhere!
In fact, they're the hottest new treat trend.
In New York the best cupcakes are said to be found at Magnolia Bakery. At Magnolia you can choose your cupcake and your icing, combining them as you like.
But now you can pass on the cupcake and just enjoy the icing. Isn't that what you really wanted anyway?
From Terry Tang of the Associated Press:
Think you can handle a shot of the hard stuff? Better saddle up to the bar with your toothbrush.
The bake-shop boom that has fueled the oh-so-retro love affair with cupcakes has spawned a new - albeit micro - trend that has Saturday-night hipsters doing a new style of shot that won't burn your gullet like 150 proof.
Frosting shots.
And yes, it's exactly what you think it is. At a handful of cupcake storefronts around the country, including Denver, the frosting shot has emerged as a short-but-sweet pick-me-up for urbanites and college students.
The gist is generally the same from bakery to bakery: For a small fee, customers get a dollop of their favorite frosting in a paper or plastic cup, about the size of a frozen-yogurt sample.
While some bakeries keep the frosting shot a strictly must-ask-for item, several cupcake shops have made it an official menu offering.
In Denver, Happy Cakes in the Highland neighborhood has had frosting shooters - they come with little spoons for the decorous - on the menu since opening.
"We started them because we had friends who were big fans of frosting but not necessarily cake," says co- owner Lisa Herman. "We started doing frosting shooters with friends, and then we put it on the menu for 75 cents. Who doesn't love frosting?" The shop even offers a T-shirt that reads, "I'm So Frosted."
Photo by Larry Crowe, Associated Press

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'Bottle Shock' Rocks!

Anybody who thinks that Americans cannot solve the problems that we face today; anybody who feels that America is past its prime; anybody who believes that the sun is setting on American drive, American ingenuity or American supremacy should rush out to see the new movie Bottle Shock.
Bottle Shock is an All-American celebration of the honest, determined, can-do spirit of ordinary Americans. It's a testament to our natural competitiveness and our relentless will to win, win, win.
It's uplifting without being saccharine, optimistic without being giddy.
Bottle Shock has been called "Rocky for wine lovers." But you don't have to be a wine lover or a wine drinker to love this movie. You need only have a heart.
The focal point of this movie is a 1976 blind wine tasting in which California wines competed against their French counterparts (the tasting was repeated in 2006 on the 30th anniversary of the original competition). This is a true story.
From the Rolling Stone review of the movie:
It's a winner. And not just for oenophiles. Director Randall Miller, who co-wrote the script with his wife Jody Savin, keeps the plot brimming with spirit and wit. . . .
The resemblance to the indie smash Sideways is purely in the grapes. Miller is spinning delightfully on the true story that put Napa on the wine map. . . .
"Wine is sunlight held together by water," said Galileo, and Miller makes that feeling palpable. His movie, gorgeously shot by cinematographer Michael J. Ozier, catches the dappled beauty of Napa. But Miller triumphs by finding the soul of the rebels who tend its grapes. Bottle Shock is something special: there's magic in it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Monster Hit!

Since we're speaking of the Big Apple, if you haven't seen the new Mel Brooks Broadway musical Young Frankentsein you're missing a monster hit.
The show (which will celebrate its first anniversary on Broadway in November) is the Outer Critics Circle Best Musical Award winner and it's better than Brook's more acclaimed The Producers and far, far better than the popular hit Spamalot. In fact, this show makes Spamalot look like a high school musical.
Young Frankenstein is one of the biggest, wittiest, laugh-out-loud funniest Broadway shows I've ever seen. It's worth the price of admission just to watch Beth Leavel (Frau Blucher) perform the hilarious number "He Vas My Boyfriend." Brooks' music is tuneful and catchy and the lyrics are clever. The book (by Brooks and Thomas Meehan) is filled with quick jokes, witticisms and double-entendres and has the advantage of being not nearly as in your face as The Producers or as juvenile as Spamalot.
The cast is first rate at all levels and the production values on this show are nothing short of amazing. You will be dazzled.
This is Broadway musical comedy at its best - the kind of show we see far too rarely on the great white way these days. Go! Laugh! Enjoy!

Joisey + Texas + NYC

We never pass up an opportunity to hang out with Texans.
So, when friends from Houston and Austin asked us to meet them in New York this past weekend we hurried up to Gotham as fast as New Jersey Transit could carry us (which, as you might expect wasn't very fast).
In any event we still arrived with time to spare (we departed very early) and checked into our surprisingly tiny room at the W Hotel on Manhattan's fashionable East Side. Staying at the W is a bit like staying in a spa. The entire hotel (including the guest rooms) features dim lighting and aromatic scents. The pluses: incredibly plush, heavenly beds; digital wide screen TVs, new decor and furnishings, nice amenities, ample water pressure in the sink and shower, fluffy cotton robes and a sight 'n sound in-house TV channel that tranquilizes. The minuses: not enough lighting anywhere, a bedside air conditioning system that blows directly on your head, abysmal closet and drawer space, the aforementioned teeny tiny room and the hotel's insistence on trying to get you to buy everything in the room (amenities, wine, bottled water, junk food, the robes, etc.).
Anyway, who goes to New York and stays in the hotel room?
We had a great time in the city. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed many sights, sounds and tastes.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Affair

Up until this point I've not commented on the John Edwards affair.
Sure, the story of the affair has been circulating for weeks if not months. But, it had not moved into the mainstream media. And Edwards continued to deny it.
Furthermore, I hoped it wasn't true. And, I did not want to be accused of contributing to "the politics of personal destruction."
I said I "hoped it wasn't true." But I suspected all along that it was true.
Why? Because I had an instinctive feeling about Edwards right from the start and it was not good. I've always felt he was a fast talker, a charlatan. And, he's always seemed way too ambitious and just a bit too fond of himself. That's usually a sign of insecurity.
Insecure people do not make good leaders. And they are often unstable.
Now, Edwards has admitted that he was "narcissistic and self-centered." Translation: His insecurity led him out of balance, out of touch. So, as he gained the spotlight he felt irresistible, super-powered, almost invincible. He thought he could do anything, say anything, get away with anything because he lost touch with reality.
So now he has fallen.
It's not a pretty sight, especially when it's played out in public.
Delusions lead to secrets and lies.
The first rule of public relations is "tell the truth." That's the first rule. Everything else flows from that. If you're in the public eye, you've got to tell the truth. If you don't know the answer to a question, you say you don't know. If you do know the answer but you can't say it, you say that you can't answer the question just now and (if possible) you say why you can't answer.
But don't lie. Don't lie.
In today's media saturated age, there are no secrets anymore. You will be found out.
Don't lie.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Call Me Chairmaker

On Wednesday we journeyed to the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington where we enjoyed a delightful exhibition by artist and craftsman Garry Knox Bennett.
Entitled "Call Me Chairmaker" the exhibition features 52 one-of-a-kind sculptural chairs that reflect the artist's fascinating imagination and keen wit. Bennett's ladderback chair is pictured.
Bennett draws his inspiration from well-known furniture designers and architects such as Gerrit Rietveld and Frank Lloyd Wright, leading to unique creations such as chairs titled Great Granny Rietveld and Wiggle Wright. He reinterprets classic design and has fun while doing it.
“To understand my art, a viewer has to understand jokes,” says Bennett. “Good jokes build piece by piece, the little fact that is dropped into the story line, the accumulation of illogical data that flip-flops logic until the unexpected is understood with a joyful rush of logic and justice.”
But Bennett's artistry is no joke. He's super-talented.
You have to see these chairs in person to truly appreciate what Bennet has accomplished.
BTW: The video that accompanies the show is great.
The exhibition continues through September 21. Hurry!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Lush Summer Gardens

Yesterday we took a quick trip to nearby Wilming
ton to visit the Marian Coffin Gardens at Gibraltar. These gardens are restored as an exquisite example of the formal Italianate style of garden design, with marble terraces, a grand staircase, a reflecting pool, sculpture and a variety of annuals, perennials,and shrubs. They are true to the 1916-23 designs of Marian Coffin.
After purchasing Gibraltar in 1909, Hugh Rodney Sharp and his wife Isabella du Pont Sharp built the du Pont mansion of today. It features the formal garden with a pavilion, statuary, and plants collected from trips abroad. Marion Cruger Coffin was one of America's best known female landscape architects and designers.
As we entered the garden area we were greeted by a real, live groundhog. He looked at us. We looked at him. He looked back at us. We looked back at him. Then he resumed his grazing and we went along our way through the gardens. Of all the parts of the property that we viewed we were most taken with the lily pond/reflecting pool. The statuary, the water, the reflections and the delicate water plants and shimmering koi fish combined to produce a perfect summer treasure.
We highly recommend a trip to the gardens and the nearby Delaware Art Museum.
The Marian Coffin Gardens at Gibraltar are located at the corner of Greenhill and Pennsylvania avenues in Wilmington, just off exit 7 of I-95. The garden entrance is on Greenhill Avenue. Self-guided tours are free.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Good Morning, NABE!

Good morning to all our friends convening for the National Association of Bar Executives Conference (NABE) at the American Bar Association (ABA) Annual Meeting in New York this morning.
We hope you have a wonderful time in the Big Apple and that you enjoy a great conference and soak up all of the sights and delights of the world's most exciting city.
We have so many good things to say about NYC (and so many fond memories from countless visits) that it would take a whole new blog just to begin to catalogue them.
We never tire of visiting one of our favorite summer islands - Manhattan.
So, even though we're no longer regular conventioneers, we might just surprise everyone later this week with a live shout out. Enjoy!

Bobby To Keynote?

The hot rumor today is that Louisianna Governor Bobby Jindal will keynote the GOP convention set for September 1 - 4 in the Twin Cities.
As noted here before, Bobby is the future of the Republican Party.
And he may very well be the future of America.
Bobby's got the goods to do the job. He can electrify the convention. If I were a Democrat, the thought of Bobby emerging as a major GOP force would keep me up at nights.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Don't Go Movement

A new website has launched to be the online grassroots home of the GOP Revolt in the House of Representatives to call Democrats back into session to allow a vote on Offshore Drilling. You can click on "" to take you to the site.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Today's Hollywood Beauties

People keep asking me all the time: Are there any Hollywood stars today who rival the great beauties of another era?
Well, it's hard to find another Sophia Loren or Elizabeth Taylor or Ava Gardner.
But two of the most beautiful women in the movies today are Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane.
Hathaway (who was wonderful in The Devil Wears Prada) can currently be seen in this summer's retro hit, Get Smart.
Diane Lane (who was stellar in Under The Tuscan Sun) opens soon in Nights In Rodanthe).
These two fine actresses epitomize grace, beauty, talent and class. They know what they're all about. They understand that they are stars and their career appear to be well managed. They are not overexposed - not in your face. And so, when they do show up on the screen it's all the more exciting.
Anne Hathaway and Diane Lane: Bellisimo!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

We're A Joisey Top Blog!

You're reading one of New Jersey's TOP TEN POLITICAL BLOGS!
That's right: BlogNetNews New Jersey ranks us #8 among the Garden State's Top Political Blogs.
In fact, we rank ahead of the vaulted Blue Jersey, ahead of Red Jersey and ahead of many other well-known political blogs in the state. We feel we're in good company and we're happy to be so highly rated.
In fact a twelve week average of rankings places us even higher - at #7 among the state's Top Ten.
Keep returning to our blog and keep telling others about it. Comment and participate.
And thank you for helping us reach the Inner Circle of the Garden State's political blogs!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Thanks, Rush!

Today marks the official 20th anniversary of the Rush Limbaugh Program - the show that revolutionized talk radio and energized the modern conservative movement.
Rush Limbaugh continues to provide us with an essential alternative to the mainstream media. Few people would be able to pull this off - to sustain a program like this as a sole host for 20 solid years and keep it at the top of the radio ratings from coast to coast. Rush Limbaugh does it day after day.
We join with President George W. Bush, President George H. W. Bush and so many others from throughout the nation and around the world who take a moment today to say "Thanks, Rush - and congratulations on your phenomenal success. Keep doing what you're doing, Rush!"

Page 13 News

Out in nearby Abington, Pa. Ed Boyd has a fine blog called Page 13 News. The title comes from the fact that "the real story isn't found on the front page."
In recent years the Philadelphia suburbs have reversed a long-standing tradition and have started trending blue. Ed is one of those bright, committed young people who's working hard to stem the blue invasion. He deserves a lot of credit for speaking out on important issues and standing up for his heartfelt (and well reasoned) beliefs. People like Ed are really on the front lines of democracy, right there at the local level.
If you're a regular visitor to Page 13 News who linked to us from Ed's site, welcome!
If you haven't checked out Page 13 News, check it out now.
BTW: Another true fighter for The Cause in Montgomery County is our dear friend Gayle Michael of Bala Cynwyd. Gayle is an avid activist and respected politico who has helped keep the county government in the Right Hands! We've rarely met a finer judge of character or a sharper political observer than Gayle!