Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I was 18 years old when being managed in show business.  George called me on a Friday telling me that on Monday I was going to be on Joe Franklin’s television show called Memory Lane.  Although I started acting when I was thirteen, it was my first time not having my comedy partner to work off of.  I asked what I would be doing, to which he responded, “I’ll tell you on Monday”.  

At that time I was going by the name of Merle Exit saying that I changed my last name so that I can “see my name up in lights”.  As we arrived I asked again.  “You are the teenage laugh champion of New York City”.   Joel Brooks and I certainly laughed enough.  In fact, George had formed a corporation for us called “Funny Business” in which we would be employed to laugh in audiences.   

 George did most of the talking on the show, spurting out a bio that didn’t exist.  I didn’t know how to respond and just started laughing…loud and long. 

I hoped nobody viewed it.  Wrong. I was on the subway with Joel and a few friends when a woman across from me said, “Hey, aren’t you the laughing girl?  I was home sick watching tv and as I changed the channels I saw you and it made me feel so much better.”  So, that was okay.

Some years later I went back on his talk show and doing a short comedy routine.  This time there was a group of entertainers and when I introduced myself Joe said, “You changed your name to Exit so that you could see your name up in lights”.

Years go by and Joe’s son, Brad, started doing a cable tv show.  It was his first show and with all of the people that Joe could have asked, called ME.  The program consisted of just Brad, Joe and me.   Keep in mind that just about everyone in show business has been on Joe Franklin’s Memory Lane both top stars and those simply working.   When introduced Joe remembered the same line about my name.

Several years later, now being a journalist, I would encounter Joe at the same Broadway show that I 
was critiquing.  By this time his was at least in his late 70’s.  I wasn’t sure if he knew me, so I would go over to him and say, “Hi Joe, Merle Exit”.  His response was always the same even well into his 80’s.  He would repeat it to whoever he was with and say his other response of “call me.”   With show business a thing of the past, other than having an internet radio show, I never did but will always remember how he remembered me…and everyone else.   

Monday, January 26, 2015


Immigrants bring various talents to the United States.  Sharing them is as art.  Metta Haskel shares her experience of being back home in her Thailand kitchen as you become her new family.  That is what you will encounter at Thai Rock, located on Beach 92nd Street in Rockaway Beach.   The menu features Metta’s recipes while her sister, Karog is the head chef. Her husband, Robert runs the rest.

Thailand art decorates the walls of this rustic looking eatery.   Dark wood teak furniture is brightened by the lighting, just enough to see your food and dining partners during the dinner hours.  Winter weather does not allow you to take advantage of the deck as it lends a view to Jamaica Bay and nearby Cross Bay Veteran Memorial Bridge.   

It is one of those cold and blustering evenings that I dined there both for the food and weekend entertainment. They were featuring the William Humprey Quartet described as being a “contemporary jazz quartet from arrangements using today’s songbook, with a concentration of music from the 70s, they perform songs by Lorde, Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, John Mayer, Bob Marley, James Taylor, Disclosure and much more.”  The Quartet featured William Humphrey on saxes, Mike Jett on drums, Adrian Untermeyer on keys, and Dave Pellagrino on bass.  Sounded good to me, but it’s the cuisine that really counts.

Since the first question asked is about what we wanted to drink, I noticed that they had a homemade honey ginger tea (served hot).  This is not made using a tea bag and when you get closer to the bottom, more hot water is offered to replenish.  

We consulted our much knowledgeable waitress, Gabriele Mangango for suggestions. As it turns out, Gabriele works with Rockaway Theatre taking on the choreography for the children’s workshops as well as their shows.   Next one is Suessical The Musical Junior composed of the kids vs. the teens who will be doing Legally Blonde.  But, I stray….

Kin Lenn is Thai for appetizers and there were certainly enough to choose from.  My friend, Deveka was joining me.  Nothing can be too spicy for her.  After some extra descriptions, I ordered the Thai dumplings, the crepes being filled with peanuts and turnip.  Different and tasty.  

I do not tend to eat curry as I do not appreciate cumin.  Aha!  Thailand curry doesn’t use cumin.  I’ll take a chance and choose the Roti and Massaman Curry friend bread with massaman curry dipping sauce.  We both loved the texture of the bread.  I checked another part of the menu that features curry dishes and the massaman is described as having potato, red onion, peanuts and bay leaves in a dried chili coconut sauce.  It was milder than I expected and wondered if they sold a pint of it “to go.” 

I know that Tom Yum soup is spicy.  Once I get passed the chili, I can appreciate the rest. Not all Tom Yum soups are of the exact recipe at every Thai restaurant.  This was hot and sour with mushrooms, galangal, bell peppers, lemongrass and scallions.  I personally found it to be quite salty, though.  

With Pad Thai being one of my favorite staples, I opted for one with chicken.  In case you’ve never had it…stir-fried rice noodles, eggs, bean sprouts, scallion, black tofu and peanuts in a sweet fish sauce.  Quite good. 

Over to the part of the menu that read, “Ped and Pla” for a special entrĂ©e.  It was the whole deep fried snapper that Deveka and I both agreed upon.  With a number of sauces to choose from we compromised on the Thai Basil Sauce.  I loved the texture of the fish that was so perfectly cooked giving way to eating even the tail as if it were fish chips.  The snapper itself was meaty, juicy and not “fishy” tasting. 

Full as we were, I just had to try this dessert called Thai Custard, another homemade item with taro or pumpkin and coconut accompanied with sweet coconut sticky rice.  The rice itself would make for a great dessert.  We both highly recommend. 

As for the band, they were certainly my cup of honey, ginger tea.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Saw Julianne Moore at a MOMI Festival.  She was there to introduced her movie, "Still Alice".  Great movie.


I am so glad that the “Holiday” season is behind us especially since “they” have coined it as a season of “giving”.  I coin it as a season of GUILT.  It’s the fear of what may happen to you if you don’t adhere to someone’s wishes rather than allowing a person to take responsibility for their own experience. 

We are also supposed to feel guilty that we did not buy enough stuff that we or another person really doesn’t need at the stores. OMG, the stores may go out of business because we don’t have enough money to spend.  We’ve already given it to the people ringing the bells and everyone with a sad story conjured up to make us feel better about what we should be thankful for and the story teller doesn’t have….even if they are a half-fast liar. 

The reality is that we tend to judge our own success by the amount and high prices of “things” that we are able to buy.  I still have two 27 inch tvs. Why?  Because they work just fine.  Fios keeps hitting me to buy bigger packages so I can have more horrible television stations.  I’ve sunken to watch reruns of Doogie Howser very late at night and totally look forward to Downton Abbey on Sundays.  Now Hugh Bonneville has landed a short role on Galavant as well as the new animated film Paddington. 

You travel and then are expected to buy gifts for your family or friends.  Why would you buy an item that bares the name of where you went which only reminds them that every time they look at it sends of message of “I went and you didn’t or couldn’t”.  If it’s the “thought that counts”, just tell them what you were thinking of buying them.  That’s not too half-fast.

Have you ever traveled to Newport, Rhode Island and visited the mansions?  I’ve yet to understand how it works.  You are paying to tour homes that will make sure you understand that you cannot or never will be able to afford.  Then they send you to their gift shop to make you feel guilty that they don’t have enough money to maintain the mansion and property. Now you can get a high priced token of memoir to remind you how you are having trouble paying your own mortgage.  You then feel so badly that you eat at every food place you come to winding up with just enough money to get you home.  Now that’s half-fast. 

Needless to say, I stay up late at night either writing or watching tv…or both. Judging from the commercials, there is a belief that people who stay up very late have trouble dealing with their bladder.  I am tempted to get a pair of Depends and “show my underwear” when I go to the supermarket just to see how people react.   It has occurred to me that they would be great for when women are attending an event where they know that there is going to be a long line at the ladies room.  I picture the smiles of relief on their faces knowing that they can simply change a pad when they get in the stall.  The commercials are half-fast but the idea isn’t.

“Made in the USA”.  Don’t let it fool you.  The product itself is assembled in the USA, but the parts are imported.  It’s not like coffee beans, cocoa beans and other products that simply have to be grown elsewhere.  It is much cheaper to get foreign parts rather than to make them from scratch here.   I have checked this out.  Half-fast?

IDNYC card.  How many id cards do I need to carry with me?  I have a photo id for non-drivers and it shows my address.  If you don’t think it’s a New York City address, you can simply look at the first three digits of my zip code!  Is that too much trouble?  There aren’t that many.  It is also just another id that can be replicated and not for positive purposes.  This id allows you to obtain a one-year membership at many of the cultural venues in NYC all of which are owned by the city.  Some of these places give you free admission with the membership.  The question is, will those who have shelled out the money over the years and paid for their 2015 membership have any priority when it comes to tickets for an event?  Half-fast?

NOT half-fast is what’s going on at Flushing Town Hall.   If you saw Cirque du Soleil’s show called Totem, you might remember the scientist who did the fast juggling.   His name is Greg Kennedy and he’s doing his own show to include a few high (not too high) flying assistants as well.   In addition there will be a juggling workshop for kids ages 6 and up.   You’re not shelling out big bucks for either on January 24th.  Google their website for more info and further events.