Couldn't help thinking about the "no seating during the last hour" airline law. Can't have anything on your lap either. "This is your pilot. We are approaching the one hour before landing time. 15 minutes to go...if anybody has to. The flight attendants will be coming around for the last time. Drinks are $5, Depends are $15. Please store your infants in the overhead compartment until we get to the gate. Thank you for flying TurnBlue." Needless to say some guy will scratch his balls and get beaten up.
Just got a book by comedy writer Irving Brecher as told to Hank Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld and Brecher's wife, Norma, were on my radio show. Reading the book I found that Irving was friends with my cousin, Sid Tomack many years ago and cast him in both a Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis movie and Sail A Crocked Ship. Tomack was also a character in The Life Of Riley.
New York City was running a train of cars from as old as the 1930's. You could take it from Queens at Queens Plaza to 2nd Avenue in Manhattan on the V line. They ran this on Sunday's in December. Wicker seats with the same "smell" from years old. Ceiling fans. They went from the wicker seats to these red ones so that the broken wicker would stop going up your ass! The cars with the wicker ran through at least the 50's as I remember going from the Bronx to Brooklyn to get to Coney Island. So, here are some photos and video
Back in 1981 there was a show called Fridays, similar to the SNL tv program, but, of course, on Friday evening. Michael Richards was one of the cast members. I probably saw most of the shows but remembered one sketch in particular called Hunting For Muppets. I just found this on youtube and would like to share the humor. Yes, it's sick!
P.R. Company for Kenny Rogers sends me an email regarding Rogers' latest CDs. Get them and play some of the songs on my internet radio show. In the meantime, he's booked in the NYC area and I request a pair of tickets. That was weeks ago and the tour date is for the 23rd. I keep asking as to whether I'm getting the tix and they keep saying that they'll find out from management but won't know until... I go ahead and put the info into the newspaper and since the show is next week and the second person had to change plans in order to go, I ask again. I just got an email from them saying that I won't be getting the tix (limited amount) then saying "Happy Holiday!" I emailed back saying that the info got printed and they are giving me coal. I wonder who gets priority for the tix.
Nancy and Barb continue. "We had one more night to stay in Murphys, CA and we stayed at the newest and finest accommodations, Murphys Suites on Highway 4. For those who want to be centrally located to attractions, but not a big fan into Historic stays or need to stay away from the hustle of a small town this is a place to be. The rooms have the typical necessities along with the Suites exercise room and outdoor pool. Currently, the breakfast consists of a muffin and orange juice that is delivered to you in the morning, but they are working on opening a room for breakfast. The lack of a sufficient breakfast was made up with the complimentary Oreo cookies and coffee bar.
I found my early Sunday morning walk to be a grand adventure. Behind the pool there is a dirt path that takes you to Jones Street. You will pass the Murphys Grammar School, the second oldest building in California used continuously for school purposes. Continue down the hill and you have an easy 1.5 mile walk to Ironstone Vineyard or take a right and you will start your wine tasting adventure at Tanners and then walk down the street towards Twisted Oak and Zucca's. To see Murphys oldest wooden home built back in 1853 just continue down Jones Street which will eventually run into Historic Main St.
Other nearby attractions and activities that may lead you to stay here are: Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, Big Trees State Park, New Melones Lake, Moaning and Mercer Caverns, Bear Valley Ski Resort, and possibly the Ironstone Summer Concert Series. Some musicians that have stayed here during the Ironstone Summer Concert Series were the Doobie Brothers, B.B. King, and Willie Nelson.
Barb and I enjoyed getting to know the two behind the front desk. They both were personable and answered all of our questions. During the night we had Buddy and in the morning we met General Manager Michael McPoland. Michael told us a funny early morning story of the Oreo cookie jar having legs. Upon further investigation and reviewing the recorded videos of the front desk, a small pair of hands walked off with the Jar!
To book a night at Murphys Suites visit MurphysSuites.com "
Nancy and Barbs exploits continue as Nancy reports. "After our day of visiting different tasting rooms in Murphys, CA we took a drive to Angels Camp for dinner at the "World Mercantile & Gallery of Arts". We were to meet Nikki or Libby, but our full day at Murphys led us to be a bit late. Around 8pm we came strolling in and met Paul Herek at the counter and asked him why Calaveras Visitors Bureau had selected this place for dinner. He then replied, 'for many reasons...' and I didn't get the complete answer until we left about two hours later!
World Mercantile & Gallery of Arts was established in May of 2008. They are part of Buttercup Farms, a charitable 501 (c)(3) non-profit that is run solely with volunteers. The donations gathered help support people locally, across America, and around the world. Young adults come here from all over to learn restaurant and social skills. At the same time they can practice their artistic ability. Paul told us of one young man from Chicago who volunteered in the restaurant during the day and at night played the piano after closing until 2am!
There are many different roles one can take hold here at the World Mercantile. Besides a volunteer, Paul owns his own business 'Herek Design Studios' and there are many creative influences of his in the gallery. He is currently working on a time machine phone booth for guests.
The World Mercantile has ample room for everyone as there is a first floor and a loft. Do not think this is your typical restaurant because it is truly the farthest thing from what you would expect from a dining room. The first floor features handcrafted items, a children's section, lounging furniture to appreciate the different types of musical instruments played here, the ice cream parlor, and the place to order your food.
Barb ordered the turkey avocado bacon sandwich and I had the cranberry almond chicken salad sandwich. My dinner was incredibly delicious with the plump green grapes on the side. Paul surprised us a bit later with their real fruit freezes. I tried all the flavors: lemon, orange, strawberry, pineapple, and mango. They also have root beer floats, milkshakes, twelve flavors of ice cream with four rotating flavors that change often. I was able to try the speckled frog and golden nugget ice cream and they both received my thumbs up. For those who like to hold a cup they have a large selection of Espresso drinks, coffee, tea, and specialty drinks like Italian creme soda.
While we were dining upstairs we were surrounded by unique musical instruments, kitchenware, quilts, and picture frames. I noticed in glass cases there were dolls handmade by girls from Senegal, West Africa. I learned after asking Paul the 10,000 girls program has achieved international recognition for allowing girls in West Africa area to focus on their education and open doors for successful careers. (10000Girls.org)
Besides being surrounded by material items the sounds of singing voices, guitar, and even a piano could be heard. We were lucky to be there on their regular Saturday Open Mic night. With her volunteer hours completed for the night, Lauren Robinson was enjoying her chance to sing some of the songs she has written. On Friday nights the World Mercantile has Karaoke for all ages.
With all their available space they can host parties at reasonable costs along with options to choose from for a personal touch: Frog Portraits, Face Painting, Magic Shows, and even karaoke or a movie.
If Barb and I lived any closer we would be here at least once a week. The atmosphere is inviting with its warm, loving, and close-nit 'family'. For those with creative abilities Paul stated, 'if you have an idea, and your enthused about it, you will be supported here.' We left that night leaving a twenty dollar donation, a really good feeling, and my answer to the reason why we should have dinner at the World Mercantile & Gallery of Arts."
I am a huge fan of Monk and have watched reruns if necessary. I have never been so upset about a show going off the air. It was one program to look forward to regarding humor. Randy Newman wrote the second opening song called, "It's A Jungle Out There".
For the series finale, he wrote a song called When I'm Gone.
Here are the lyrics.
The time for us to say goodbye is near The day I hope would never come is here Though many hearts are broken We must somehow carry on Cause I think you gonna miss me When I'm Gone
I Thought my life was over when me met So little too remember so much too forget Though it was you who saw me through The Darkness till the Dawn Did I think you gonna miss me When I'm Gone
I'm a modest man and it hurts me To say these things to you But after all we been threw it's the least that I can do So instead of just goodbye I'll say so long As for the light by which u see me leave it on I'm a better man than I was before Knowing you has made me strong
Did I think you gonna miss me When I'm Gone I'm a better man than I was before Knowing you has made me strong
And I sure am gonna miss you When I'm Gone Yes, I sure am gonna miss you When I'm Gone
We've not ended with Nancy and Barb as they continue with Murphys Historic Hotel. "We left Ironstone’s winery and our next drive was just a couple of miles away to downtown Murphys at the Murphys Historic Hotel. On our way there I noticed the park where we did the Grape Stomping with Merle earlier in the month of October. Murphys is one of those towns you can walk for five minutes and walk the entire length of it (At least at our pace). There are gems to be found in these types of towns. I love Registered Historic Landmarks and there are several in the town. Murphys Historic Hotel is number 267.
We met the owner, Dorrian Fault, who is the 7th owner of this Historic Hotel at its 154th year. He provided us with an in-depth tour after we placed our belongings in our room #15. Each door is creamy white with a number and named after someone who has stayed here in the past. Some notables to mention have been President Ulysses S. Grant, Mark Twain, Black Bart, J.P. Morgan, and even Lipton. Everything from the door knob, to the floor, bed frames, and chairs are antiques. If necessities are a must, like a coffee maker and your own bathroom, and you want to miss out on staying in one of these rooms you can ask for a modern room.
Dorrian provided us with some factual information about the hotel and the surrounding area. The Hotel was built in 1856 to serve the world travelers whose journey was leading them to what is now known as Calaveras Big Trees State Park. We learned that the accommodations at this establishment unsurpassed any other hotel in the area at the time of the horse carriage era. At that time the Sequoia Trees were considered one of the 7 wonders of the world. This hotel is one of the oldest continually operating hotels in California.
Those green iron shutters you see at each window or door entry are not storm shutters, but to keep fire out. The town of Murphys had three major fires in the late 1800s. Roughly $20 million in gold was mined in this town and just alone in the back of the property you can still take a walk down the grassy trail to view the damaging effects hydraulic mining took effect on the land for about $5 million.
Murphys Historic Hotel is a must stay as it is in close proximity to the wine tasting rooms and anything else you want to do in Murphys. The hotel also has a restaurant and an outdoor dining area. If you really want to go back in time check out the old original bar picture while standing in the bar room and having an old miners drink!"
Continuing on the wine trail, Nancy and Barb visit Tanner Tasting Room. "Our last stop on the wine tasting route led us to Tanner. Tanners wine tasting room opened in 2008, but they started growing their vineyard in 1998 on 30,000 acres of land with nine varieties of grapes. When they opened in 2008 they released their 2006 wines.
Barb & I met Judy who said at the Calaveras County Fair they won gold on their 2006 Syrah, and Silver on their 2006 Petite Sirah, and 2006 Melange de Mere.
The Tanner's name may be new to wines but the Tanner family is well established in this area. On Judy's father side of the family they had owned and operated the Tanner Ranch for many years. In a few black and white photos we see a woman on a tractor and we inquired about her role here at the winery. Their flagship wine, Melange de Mere has been dedicated to her mom.
You can also join the wine club. Three times a year they ship three bottles. On the last shipment they included a preview of what would soon be announced. It doesn't happen all the time, but you can be the first to know of such events."
Nancy continues with their wine explorations. "Our next stop on the wine tasting route led us to Esther's cousin! You know Merle's sidekick the rubber chicken who has gone on several trips and eats shrimp! As we walked into the tasting room we looked into a glass case housing Esther's family member who quite honestly resembles a chicken nugget. Let us not tell Ester about her cousin as he/she looks like a museum artifact. The chicken nugget family member will be very jealous of Esther's travels to far off places while she is in a glass box. If you remember, Merle and her crew (Barb and I) did the complete tour at Twisted Oak in Vallecito, CA."
Nancy and Barb are back from the Gold Country and continue to report their wine tour. "Park your car, stay overnight in Murphys, and taste some wines the next day! That's what we did!
Under the Calaveras Winegrape Alliance (calaveraswines.org) there are just over 20 wine tasting rooms here. Murphys alone has about 16 all within walking distance. Barb & I visited three of them: Zucca Mountain Vineyard, Twisted Oak, and Tanner Vineyards.
Right across the street from Murphys Historic Inn is Zucca's with a total of three floors. On the top floor is where we met Hannelore. She gave us a few samplings of the wine and mentioned the owners, Carol & Gary were with the wine club in Tuscany. There are 450 members and 20 of them were experiencing a winery in Italy.
We traveled downstairs and in the basement of this 150 year old historic building with a protruding soapstone in the corner where we met Len. He provided more tastes for us (No, we're not drunk)and gave us more of an in depth lesson about wine.
We learned that for a wine to be labeled with a grape name it must consist of at least 75% of a specific grape. For example, Zucca's 2006 Sangiovese and 2006 Barbera are two varieties measuring up to the 75%. Anything less than 75% cannot be labeled with the grape name, it becomes a blend and a name can be created. To surprise their guests they have a 2006 blend called Sorprendere (meaning surprise in Italian) consisting of three grapes: 40%, 40%, and 20%.
Zucca's is a smaller winery producing about 1,500 cases. They specialize in Barbera, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Syrah Port. All of their grapes are from the Calaveras county grape growers except for Barbera grapes and this variety comes from Amador county. Just recently at the CA State Fair they walked away with two Silver medals. In the basement is where you will view all the awards.
You can view their website and order wine at Zuccawines.com
I saw a show last night called, "The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever". It was opening night at The Actors' Playhouse, located at 100 7th Avenue South in Greenwich Village. Joe Marshall, Writer and Director of this totally fun show, assembled a cast of 24 actors that play over 40 characters in a play within a play.
The show follows a gay community theatre group struggling to put together an annual holiday pageant that winds up being called, "The Gayest Christmas Pageant Ever". Is it? Get ready for this! Jesus is a gay Latino. The Christmas angel is a dyke. Lots of swishing and attitude from some of the guys.
But don't let it fool you. Characters include straight, African American, Christian, Jews, young and old. One of the funniest is a mother with a walker who not only has turrets syndrome but is narcoleptic as well.
I had a photo taken of me with the cast. I guess that it was an opportunity for guests to take photos of the cast as the cameras were snapping a whole bunch. I have a feeling that a lot of folks are going to be wondering which character I played in the show.
We're back with Nancy and Barb at California's Gold Country wineries. "As you recall, Barb and I joined Merle the weekend of Oct 3rd to the Amador and Calaveras Counties. Remember, we did grape stomping, zip lining, Sutter and Kennedy Mines, and vineyard tours. With such a quantity of activities to attend Merle just could not possible finish her itinerary. Our main focus is to bring to you the endless possibilities of wineries and wine tasting rooms in Murphys.
On Fri, October 30th we visited Ironstone Vineyards a 4th generation of family growers. Ironstone is located in the Sierra Foothills of Murphys, CA. Our intention is to make people aware of the absolute beauty of the Sierra Foothills that many people are not aware of, as well as having some great wines.
Conrad greeted us when we arrived. Since Ironstone has a deli within their walls we took the opportunity to have lunch, sit with Conrad shoot the breeze.
After lunch the grand tour began. To be honest, when we arrived we really underestimated this place. Even if you are not a wine drinker you can still come here and find something of interest as Ironstone Vineyards has a seven story building. Ground level to the parking area is the tasting room where you will find an antique 36 foot long Saloon bar from A.J. Bumps Saloon. Look behind you and a massive fireplace will devour you. In total this mostly limestone fireplace is 42 feet tall, 16 feet wide, and 13 feet deep. One rock alone weighs 3,500 lbs. Do not attempt to put one in your luggage!
We left the tasting room and Conrad led us outside to the building that comprises the Heritage Museum and jewelry shop. You can view artifacts from the gold rush era, pony express items, fossils, and the most impressive feature is the 44 pound crystalline gold leaf specimen that was uncovered not too far from this area.
On our way out we bumped into Buddy, one of the most favorite felines on the premises. Our tour began leading us outside to the parking lot and down a hill to show us the mining artifacts. In this area they have what resembles a miners shack, a large water wheel, a palace to pan for gold, hydraulic mining equipment and a few other mining tools.
As we left this area Conrad led us under a covering of which during the Spring comes alive with purple and white wisteria. Following this covering led us to the underground wine caverns. There are 68 massive tanks and 300 wooden barrels in the wine cavern. We were very lucky to enter the cave as it was closed for a couple of days to allow the CO2 to be released.
Our tour was not over just yet! Conrad led us outside along the gravel road to view the outdoor facilities. We walked by a pond and landscaped gardens, a large grassy area which accommodates the outdoor amphitheater.
Just recently their 2009 concert series included Alan Jackson, Chris Isaak, and Crosby, Stills & Nash to name just a few performers. As an example, 7,000 people attended this area on July 4th. Depending on how much you want to spend and how close you want to sit there are four sections. To give you an idea you can choose to sit in rows 1-5 with a price includes a 4-course meal with wine pairing. The other three options are available including just general admission where you bring your own chairs and blankets.
I thought that the tour was over but nooooo! We entered the conference/dining area. Another impressive antique is the Robert Morton Theatre Pipe Organ. This organ was located originally in Sacramento at the famed Alhambra Theatre until the 1960's. There were these great chandeliers located throughout the tasting room. Talk about atmosphere!
The day we visited we were told that this dining room sold out with 200 seats to view the silent version movie "Phantom of the Opera". The pipe organ was going to be used this evening and we were serenaded to the impressive music of the organ playing a Glen Miller tune. Barb replied, 'I would of never imagined enjoying watching shutters open and close!'
Perhaps we can come back when Executive Chef James Lehman and prestigious guest chefs are conducting a cooking demonstrations or a class on wine pairing. They have a Culinary Center that has a whole lot of private and public events throughout the year. Check out their event calendar.
This wrapped up our tour of Ironstone which led us upstairs again to the tasting room. Some of the wines you can taste are Old Vine Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauv, and Syrah.
Did I forget to tell you that Ironstone Vineyards is the 23rd largest winery in the country? It is among the top 10 family owned grape growers. As for other activies Other activities, there was the Classic Car event during the first week of Sept. And for all of you nature lovers, such as Barb and I, there are Audubon Bird walks and hiking through one of their nature trails at their extraordinary property.
Oh yeah, their website is www.ironstonevineyards.com "
Happy Thanksgiving to all who are celebrating! Although it’s the official Thanksgiving here in the United States, the true date has absolutely nothing to do with turkey or Plymouth Rock. In fact, the Mayflower could have just crashed into the rock when they made there way from Provincetown, Massachusetts. Provincetown?
That’s correct. The first landing of the Mayflower took place at the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown, on November 21st, 1620. It was there where they signed the Mayflower Compact in Provincetown Harbor and not Plymouth Rock, where they landed five weeks later, a year prior to the famous harvest feast. It was in Provincetown that the compact was about governing the new colony and they ate lobster and other fish from the waters, as well as corn and cranberries. In other words, Thanksgiving should be celebrated with an old fashioned Clam Bake!
As for that tiny rock in Plymouth, just feast your eyes on the Pilgrim Monument, the 252-foot, 7.5 inches tallest granite structure in the United States!
So, what did I do for Thanksgiving? Since I didn't get an invite and not wanting to sulk at home, I decided to go to McCormick & Schmick's in Manhattan for a lobster dinner.
I took public transportation into Manhattan. It's not unusual to find a Latino singer playing a guitar, or simply someone giving a "story" as to why he needs money, but this one was different! It was a portable magic act. The guy brings a wheelable table with stuff in it including a rabbit and dove.
Meanwhile at McCormick & Schmick's...I first had the pleasure of talking with Executive Chef Chris. Although each lunch and dinner menu are different, depending on the fresh fish that Chris gets, there were some new items on the menu as well that involved sushi and sashimi.
I started with the Salmon Lomi Lomi tossed tableside with chopped tomato, pineapple, onions and lime juice, followed by Kona Kampachi Sashimi with avocado, soy and truffle oil. Kona Kampachi is an Hawaiian yellowtail.
Then came my two-pounder! All meat was found and eaten. It came with a small ear of corn and I ordered a side of the sweet potato casserole, which was a sort of sweet potato pie. Chunks of sweet potato with marshmallows, cinnamon and maple syrup...I think. I saved it for dessert.
As I walked back to the subway I saw a group of dancers performing to hip-hop music and hoped for perhaps someone playing a violin on the way home. Wrong. It looked like we got some guy who seemed to know everything about everything and sharing it all the way to when I happily got off. What a day!
Do you ever think about the I Love Lucy episode when you see chocolates? How about being in a factory that has such a machine! It's called 5th Avenue Chocolatiere. Actually they were never located on Fifth Avenue, but on Madison Avenue. It was a small store and not one where you could "pick out the chocolates" as they were already boxed. Most of the items were novelties such as birthday cards, sports balls, etc. The factory was located in Queens, in Long Island City. I had the pleasure of going there several years ago. Joseph E. Whaley is the President, who took over his father's business. The store moved to 693 Third Avenue and the factory moved to 396 Rockaway Avenue in the Valley Stream section of Long Island.
In the past, I have requested large footballs with the New York Sharks insignia on it to auction off. They did such a great job that it was difficult for the winners to eat it. You can give them a photo, etc. and get it in a sort of chocolate bas relief, if you want. As for the chocolate itself, the big tease is their truffles...square and dipped in cocoa.
Joseph was at the most recent Chocolate Show in Manhattan and being interviewed by CNN.
I ventured to Valley Stream and expected to see a factory similar to the one in Long Island City. Wrong! Joseph bought a building which houses a few other stores. When you enter his store, you see a more typical chocolate shoppe with various items by the pound as well as a whole lot of novelties. Walk through and you see a room with tables set up for classes, parties, etc.
Then there is the factory area...huge! Along with various temper machines and one with a "hose" to transfer the milk chocolate into larger molds, there is that "I Love Lucy" machine. It goes slowly so that a pretzel, for instance, will first get coated with the warm chocolate and then allow for a worker to coat it with sprinkles or tiny m&ms. It then goes through a series of cooling before it ends its mission. If there isn't anyone at the end, it simply falls to the floor. I'm not sure how fast it goes yet, but I'll let you know when I go back after the holidays.
I tasted one of the flavored square truffles made with a green tea extract to be coated with a green tea powder. Now, how can you go wrong with the combo of anti-oxidants? And the chocolates are kosher as well!
The question of how to pass the time with AirTran not leaving until 4 p.m. I got up at 7:30 and met Andra and Linda for breakfast. They were leaving a lot earlier than I was. Lucky them. I decided to take photos of people saying, "Goodbye". There were those that met as a specific group from different areas. There were those that met on the boat and formed friendships. It was heartwarming seeing the hugs.
I finally left. Having a VIP status I was able to disembark whenever I wished as well as get a porter quite easily. Got on the shuttle bus and there were Andra and Linda. When I checked into AirTran I noticed that the name of the guy behind the counter, Rodney Dykes. Now, that's even funnier than Mr. Butch.
Well, I wasn't the only one that was leaving late and it looked like a lesbian convention at the airport. No turbulence on the plane and it took days before I walked around not feeling like the earth was somewhat swaying.
After the press conference I took a lunch break and returned to the same Galaxy of Stars for another Sweet Sparks. This one had love guru Barb Elgin, health and wellness profesionals D. Magrini and Victoria Proctor, social networking Marven Laura Fitzpartrick, speicla pet CPR clinic by Doctor Michelle Jack and special guest Andra Douglas!!! Comedian Jennie McNulty was present to listen to Andra as Jennie has been playing tackle football for years! Same league, California team.
There was a show entitled Elements being performed at the Stardust Theatre at 5:30. I wasn't sure as to what it was all about but got that it was a Norwegian Cruise Line Production. "Mesmerizing magic, to the visual feast of flying, to exciting music and dance, this dazzling show will revel in the four elements of Earth, Air, Water and Fire". Somehow I thought that it would be one of those cruise crew song and dance productions. It turned out to be one that I hope no one missed. Sort of a Cirque du Soleil meets magic. Hat's off to the performers! Will the Farewell show be as spectacular?
Jennie McNulty opened the show and announcing that Andra was in the audience, which led her into some comedy regarding her playing football. Andra got a big cheer for this. Jennie was pretty funny. Then came the main act...Suzanne Westenhoefer. I have to say that anyone who made fun of the hurricane got a laugh. She said little and went into her own spiel. Most of it was humorous but the audience didn't seem to care for the humor involving her sister who died as a child. She also joked about her goofs with audience members such as when she kept asking some woman to come up on the stage to find out that she was in a wheelchair. Part of her routine also centered on what she called "bio man", I think. A guy who is born a man, likes being a male and straight. She compared it to her cat. Pretty cute.
Although there was PJ Party and Club Skirts Party to end the cruise and evening, I opted to pack and put my luggage outside my stateroom and get some shuteye for a early morning wakeup.
Photos are of the Sweet staff, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Jennie McNulty and Esther getting a taste of Sweet...hmmm...if I click onto the photo and then enlarge further I think I see Meredith Baxter near the front and center of the stage.