Sunday, September 30, 2012


Queensboro Performing Arts Center featured Dionne Warwick today.   I realize that there are no bad seats regarding viewing the stage, but here I was in Row A!  One thing about performers looking "older" is that it means that I have aged just as many years.  She aged quite well! Dionne was backed by two keyboards, a bass, percussion and drums.

Stories were few and lots of songs.  "Walk On By" was her opener.  Followed by: "Anyone Who Had A Heart", "You Never Get To Heaven", "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" (which she sang directly to me), "Message To Michael",  and "This Guy's In Love With You".

Dionne then talked about her moving to Brazil and sang "Brazil".  "Do You Know The Way To San Jose" was next before she shared about her new CD coming out in November.  As a sneak preview she sang, "Is There Anybody Out There" a new track.

"What The World Needs Now" was followed by "I Say A Little Prayer"  as a duet with her son,  David Elliott.  Dionne took a break as David did a solo of "Besame Mucho".  The finale had them in a duet of "That's What Friends Are For" that seemed to last more than 5 minutes as they either sang to each other or Dionne allowed David to hit the much higher notes to emphasize the lyrics.

All in all is was a wonderful show.  Dionne has a bit of a problem with her voice but not enough to annoy.  Volume on her microphone seemed more of a problem but that could have been cured by the sound person.  I'm glad I was in Row A.

Prior to the show, there was a celebration of the 2012-2013 season just outside of the performing arts center. Food and a DJ that began at 1 p.m. for the 3 p.m. show.  Check out the new season's lineup.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I would not imply that Lindsay Lohan doesn't have imperfections....but...this thing with the so called "hit and run" has me looking at at few things.  Lindsay is leaving a hotel driving off and coming from what appears to be the parking lot of the hotel she is staying at.  It appears on the video that it might be a ramp. We also see pedestrians and they don't seem to be in the way of her path or trying to get out of the way of her path. 

We then view a pedestrian (the hotel worker) walking into the what looks like the top of the ramp area.  He claims that Lindsay Lohan injured his foot and did not stop. My first question is...everyone else seems to see the car coming out, why did he not see it?  We then see the guy running after Lindsay's car.  RUN????
If he just got his foot injured enough to require a cast, how come he ran????

My take is that if he did have an injury it was before he went near the car or had a doctor say he was just injured for the sake of requiring a cast.  MONEY, MONEY, MONEY, MOOOONEY. 

How about questioning his fellow workers to see if they noticed him limping prior to leaving or complaining about his foot that day or prior days to it.  If they decide to question witnesses make sure they are asked as to how fast the guy was running to catch up to her? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


As a journalist I am used to getting email from public relations companies.  I received this one early this month.  

"Hi Merie,

I was wondering if you’d be interested in this human interest story about a local woman whose fight with cancer has forced her to lead a healthier life.

Always struggling with her weight, Little Neck native, Julie McGlone never really believed in weight loss programs, until she was diagnosed with uterine cancer and health became her top priority.

Once her cancer metastasized to her liver, Julie decided that she needed to do something about her health in order to have the best fighting chance to live. Cysts, lesions, surgeries, radiation and chemo were all in the cards for her. Monitoring her weight, although important to keep her immune system up, fell short on the priority list. This is when Julie discovered bistroMD, a metabolism-correcting weight loss program that combines fresh frozen meal deliveries with the personalized assistance of a registered dietitian under the leadership of bariatric specialist Caroline Cederquist, M.D. She saw it recommended by Dr. Phil and decided it was worth a shot.

Not only did this program help her shed her excess pounds, it helped reassure Julie that she was getting the appropriate nutrients her body needed in order to have a chance in the fight against cancer. She relies on bistroMD to ensure that she is eating nutritious, balanced meals that are effortless to prepare.  

I would be happy to put you in touch with Julie if you are interested in her incredible story. Or if you’d like to review bistroMD, we can send you a sampler of the program. Dr. Cederquist, the brainpower behind bistroMD would also love to speak with you upon request. We have several before and after shots of Julie as well.

I am looking forward to your feedback!

I thought that best way for me to write about it as well as interview Julie or Dr. Cederquist would be to experience a week of meals.   Options are either 5 or 7 days and with or without snacks.   I wanted to not have to figure on what to eat for a snack as well as seeing if I would lose any weight.    

There was an agreement that I would get a week.   Angela asked about dietary restrictions, etc.  I told her that I didn't want anything with garlic or cumin.   Garlic does not sit well with me and I have an allergy to cumin.    Pretty much everything else was not an issue.

I received a 5-day meal program without snacks.    Breakfast. lunch, dinner.    There was cumin in two of the meals (I need a magnifying glass to read the ingredients and just assumed that the message was gotten).   One had "roasted garlic" in the description let alone others that contained garlic.   No seafood and there were two days that chicken was two of the three meals.   Chicken in crepes were a few of the breakfast items.   I did call one of their customer service to ask what they would do if given the info about what I couldn't have.  I was told that they can't make adjustments but would avoid sending me meals with those contents.  

If you look at a sample of the 7-day plan, it seems to feature something like a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast.   

At first I thought that Bistro MD was the source of the issues.  Do they just send you what they want even if you can't or do not want to indulge in the item?  Did they get it wrong about the difference between the "sample" and a weeks worth of food?  I kept communicating with Angela about what I received and about the agreed upon "one week".   I realize that the initial email said "sampler" but she had later sent an email saying that the client agreed on a week.   Was the sampler used just to allow me to try items and not what would actually have been sent if I did a 5-day plan with no snacks?   I'll never know. 

Now it's one thing if I'm reviewing the food itself. Aside from the issues, the meals are sent frozen like "tv dinners"....if you're too young you won't understand what I mean.   They basically are set up for you to reheat in a microwave oven.   I do not have one.   I placed the meals in a pan and used my Precision Induction Cooktop.   Oh yes, there are no instructions on how to heat if you don't have a microwave. 

Taste and quality was not an issue .   Rather good for a frozen dinner.    I certainly cannot give you any weight loss results.   With no snacks and even having one of their dietitians tell me what to basically have,  I resorted to items that I was not supposed to have and containing sugar.   Oh yeah....they use sugar substitutes in their food.   

As for Angela, each time I confronted an issue I got one of those apologies without really answering my questions including telling me that she did not get the email about the garlic and cumin.  I resent it to her and she said she still had not gotten it.   I then forwarded the back and forth emails that had this.   She said that she did not read that one...apology again and wants to send meals to replace the cumin....did not say anything about the ones with garlic.   Too 5 just ended.  

When I confronted her about it being 5-days she said that a sample program could be 5-days.  However, she seemed to forget the conversation we had over the phone when we talked about the seven days of this sample weight loss program in regards to the delivery date and when it would end.  

Now, I'm not looking to be fed for a few weeks.   She emailed me and I wanted to follow up by experience as I usually do.   The basic article was to be in the Queens Times this week but due to that constant broken agreements, I canceled it.   I also said that I would be doing this as a weight loss program.   I'm getting that this won't happen.   So, is it the public relations company or the client that hindered this?  

Update!   Angela finally called me and did her p.r. voice of apology.   However, the phone call wasn't really about this.   It was about my removing the name of the person who was the cancer patient.   Angela wanted me to remove her name due to her going back into the hospital.   Privacy issue?   Had the article gone through in the Queens Times, there would have been no way to remove it.   The publication would have already been out on the streets and available on the internet!   Needless to say, the situation may not look good for BistroMD.   It makes me wonder if having 3 meals per day for however long Julie did this, was not doing well due to the use of a microwave!!!!

Note to Julie....I do hope you have a speedy recovery.   

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


There is another legit Supperclub in Manhattan other than Feinsteins.  It's the Cafe Carlyle a the Carlyle Hotel at 35 E. 76th Street.  The room may not be huge and that's okay as every seat gives you a view of the performer.  That is what makes the Cafe Carlyle an intimate nightclub. 

Tonight is was Judy Collins.  Having already seen her at the St. George Theatre in Staten Island, it made no difference.  Her voice is still amazing.  It was a night of songs and stories about her life, as well as of the songs.  Judy played the guitar and had her pianist there as well.  There was a point when Judy played the piano.  No surprise as she had told us that she took lessons many years ago.  She invited the audience to sing along several times.  She is quite personable but don't expect a meet and greet. 

I'll run down a list of which songs she sang. Chelsea Morning  (Mitchell),  John Denver Tribute  (Denver)
Born To The Breed  (Collins),  Mr. Tambourine Man  (Dylan), Since You’ve Asked  (Collins)
Sons Of  (Brel, Jouannest, Shuman & Blau), Veteran’s Day  (Veitch), Campo de Encino  (Webb)
Big Sur (Collins), Suzanne  (Cohen), The Blizzard  (Collins), Send In The Clowns  (Sondheim).  I believe that there were a few other ditties thrown in as well when she spoke about her life and family. I was surprised that the song Both Sides Now wasn't sung as well as people not yelling, "encore".   

Here is the calendar listing.  Sept. 11-29.  Judy Collins - Tues-Sat at 8:45 p.m. Cover charge Tues-Thur: $110 per person ($75 bar seating; $175 premium seating) Cover charge Fri-Sat: $135 per person ($75 bar seating; $185 premium seating).  For reservations call 212-744-1600. 


I recently saw Maltby & Shire's musical review Closer Than Ever at The York Theatre.  There are four people in the cast: Jacquelyn Piro Donovan, George Dvorsky, Anika Larsen and Sal Viviano.  Music derives from two instruments - Piano (Andrew Gerle - Musical Director) and Bass (Danny Weller) who are at the rear of the stage.  The set consists of 6 doors  with props such as a table and chair that come on and off the stage.  Now, you have the basic backdrop of the show.

Here is the Author's Note. "Closer Than Ever began as a file of observations about people David and I knew, stories friends and acquaintances told us about themselves, perceptions we had about our lives, which over time developed into songs. It was only when we put the song together in a show that we realized that there was a unity to these stories, a series of portraits of adults idiosyncratically coping with the complexities and anomalies of grown-up life." 

That is about all I can say regarding the "plot" of music with no dialogue.   Let's rum down a list of the songs. Doors. She Loves Me Not. You Wanna Be My Friend (breaking up from being a lover and very funny).  What A I Doin? The Bear, the Tiger, the Hamster and the Mole. I'll Get Up Tomorrow Morning. Miss Byrd. Dating Again (another funny one). One of the Good Guys. There's Nothing Like It. Life Story. Next Time/I Wouldn't Go Back. (End of Act I)

Three Friends. Fandango. There. Patterns. There is Something In a Wedding. Another Wedding Song. If I sing. Back on Base. The March of Time. Fathers of Fathers. It's Never That Easy/I've Been Here Before. Closer Than Ever.

I really don't know how to critique this one.   Everyone was on key.  The show moved but was a bit too long for a review.  Each song was a performance number with minimal choreography.  It's enjoyable and entertaining, which is why the run has been extended from September 30 to around the end of November.

The York Theatre is located at 54th and Lexington Avenue at St. Peter's Church.  One thing I must add is about the concession.   Food is cookies baked by PMS and cost $3.  They are a decent size and have various flavors.  Coffee is $2.  They have these what they call "adult sodas" that are not overly sweet for $2.  Water is also $2.  This is a bargain considering what is charged at Broadway theatres!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Forbidden Broadway is back on the Off-Broadway scene.  In case you missed any of their shows, Forbidden Broadway spoofs Broadway shows both present and past as well as ribbing many of the stars.  As usually, it is creator Gerard Alessandrini that has his latest Forbidden Broadway: Alive and Kicking and is hilarious.

The cast consists of four performers, Natalie Charle Ellis, Scott Richard Foster, Jenny Lee Stern and Marcus Stevens who are playing different roles and doing their best to dress like and sing like the stars that they are spoofing.  Other than the four, there is one pianist David Caldwell.

Just the fact that you get a Playbill that reads Playkill should give you a hint.  However, it is all a surprise regarding the list of spoofs so I will give you a run down but not exactly what they do...maybe one or two.

The opening is all about the show coming back.  Evita 2012 focuses on Ricky Martin.  Nice Work nabs Matthew Broderick. Granny-Annie. They have always made fun of the original Annie growing up but now that Annie will be back on Broadway...Once is the next spoof followed by Mary Poppins, Sondheim/Follies, and Bernadette (Peters).  Then we get Into The Woods/Agony, Rock of Ages, Anything Goes, Catherine Zeta, Ghost and an ending of Act One with a long salute to Newsies.

Act Two starts with Rafreaky, the character from Lion King.  Spiderman is next....good one!  Jersey Boys follows as they sing "Walk like a man, sing like a girl".  We then get Porgy and Bess, Smash, Mandy and Patti, Wicked, Judy (Garland), and Mormon - another long and really funny one even though I did not see the play. Finale.

Although there were shows that I had not seen I was able to get most of the humor.  Forbidden Broadway is playing at the 47th Street Theatre located between 8th and 9th Avenue.  You can check it out at 

Friday, September 7, 2012


I met Lily Isaacs in the early 1960's when we both attended the same Junior High School.  We were putting on the play "Oklahoma" and she was one of the leads. I was in the chorus.  Then we both went on to Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. Her voice amazed me.  She was so on key and angelic.  Lily was also an excellent actress.  I expected her to be going to Broadway.  At the time, her name was Lily Fishman and she even began to use the name "Lili". 

I did my own thing during my high school years regarding singing, acting, and comedy.  Another school play in our last semester.  She once again got one of the two leads.  I think I was in the chorus of the show.  I know that I was in the Senior Chorus and Senior Band of the High School and I believe that Lily was in a group called The Melody Singers.  So, we basically ran into each other at different times during our High School years.

We both went to Queens College and would see her most of the days due to our getting into the same car pool.  It gave us time to bring the friendship closer.  Lily left after the first semester and I don't remember why.  Frankly I think she did the right thing as I found that college was really a waste of my time and really did nothing for me in regards to my career in show biz. 

One odd occurrence was that we both tried out for this singing group at Queens College, where we were going to be performing Handel's Messiah (hmmmm....).  The tryout required that we look at a piece of music and given a note on the piano were to keep singing.  As it turned out, Lily did not read music even though she was playing the guitar and composing.  I made the group.  She didn't despite that she had a ten times better voice than I.  

We soon lost touch with each other especially since I moved out to Queens a few years later.  I wondered what happened with her and her career.  I'm thinking late 1970's when I was performing in Asbury Park.  I was rehearsing as the tv was on.  Something about Nashville.  I couldn't quite hear what the person was saying but it certainly did look like Lily. 

High School reunion and trying to locate her.  I didn't know that she had gotten married, her last name being Isaacs and that she was with a group performing Blue Grass Gospel.   I also didn't know that she became  a "Jews for Jesus" and that she was singing for the Lord.  Heck, she could sing the telephone book for all I cared as long as she was out there singing.  The group is called The Isaacs.

So, why am I writing this now?  Robin Roberts was on GMA saying that she's taking a leave due to cancer.  Martina McBride comes on and sings her hit single, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It".  A later continued "google" finds me getting a youtube of Martina singing the song and seeing Lily and one of her daughters in it. Why as a breast cancer survivor?   Perhaps she knows Martina being in the industry.

A later "google" gets me a youtube of The Isaacs singing "I'm Gonna Love You Through It"...a much earlier you tube.  It appears that Sonya Isaacs and a few other members of her family wrote the song and dedicated in to their mom. 

I don't remember hearing Martina mentioning who wrote what has now become the theme song for breast cancer survivors.  So, let's give credit where credit is due!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Up until recently, Godiva was the sole luxury chocolate located at the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst.   Now there is a new house on the main floor...or shall I say Neuhaus.  Gold boxes aren't the seller at this kiosk, but rather the quality of these Belgian chocolates.
"Neuhaus is the world famous manufacturer of luxury Belgian chocolates and delicious biscuits. The company was founded in Brussels in 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss immigrant, who opened his first store in the Galeries St.-Hubert. In 1912, his grandson, Jean Neuhaus II, invented the chocolate bonbon or 'praline'. Three years later, Jean's wife continued the innovation with the 'ballotin' packaging, created to protect the pralines while presenting them beautifully to the recipient.

Today, Neuhaus is more popular than ever and has over 1000 selling points in 40 countries. All Neuhaus delicacies are still made in Vlezenbeek, Belgium (near Brussels), and are exported worldwide."

The word "praline" has more than one meaning.  In the southern US states, we picture a creamy sugar coated patty of nuts.  Europeans (mainly Belgians) grind sugar coated nuts into a powder to use for candy, cakes and these Belgian chocolates.  When I am able to shop for "praline paste" I expect hazelnuts.  

That is the history lesson in a to speak. As for the chocolates, there are several categories such as Les Irresistibles, a traditional artisan nougatine, hand-filled with ingredients like ganache with hazelnuts. Manons, named by Suzanne Neuhaus, a fan of opera is one specialty.  "Creme Fraiche" or "Fresh Cream" gets whipped up with tasty ingredients to include vanilla, coffee or as example, Diane, with chocolate mousse on a gianduja base.

Gianduja is a blend of hazelnuts, sugar and chocolates. Try the Pagode that adds a coffee ganache.  Ganache, for those who may not be chocoholics, is the basic combination of chocolate melted into cream. As a chocolate category you can expect a piece like Criollo 70%, that uses an intense dark chocolate or Grand Place, that combines a filling of dark chocolate ganache with a subtle Indian spice.

Truffles, not the mushroom, takes the filling and enrobes it in a thin layer of either dark, milk or white chocolate: classic, dark, coffee, cappuccino and speculoos, just to name a few.  It's always great to combine chocolate with fruits.  Yes, they have the candied orange peel dipped in chocolate.  The best and most unusual is the Cerisette as they take a whole cherry (pit and stem), macerate it in alcohol and then dip it in dark chocolate. A syrup made from real, authentic brandied liqueur is used in their Liqueur category.

One other category (there are still a few more) that I want to mention is the Marzipan the uses 50% almonds from Faro in Portugal. A specialty is the Troika, marzipan and ganache, coated with a sugar glaze.

Neuhaus creations are available in a wide selection of elegant boxes, one of which is called a "Ballotin", designed in 1912 for the pralines.  If you are a true lover of Nutella, get their much more sophisticated version of this hazelnut spread.  Forget the bread...just nurse a spoonful. 

Mark Griffiths is the Manager of this location and is quite helpful in helping choose your delights.