Archive for October, 2008

TravelSafe Bag

I recently purchased the TravelSafe 100, a compact, lightweight security pouch that is designed for travelers who want to safeugard their wallet, camera, PDA, jewelry, or other small items in situations where there is no other secure place for valuables.  The Travel Safe 100 is manufactured by PacSafe, a leading provider of anti-theft bags and travel products.  I previously featured another product by PacSafe in a earlier post.   Click here to read the previous post.

The portability of this “safe” allows you to lock your valuables wherever there is a sturdy, stationary item to which you can attach it– either indoors or outdoors.   Examples include hotels without in-room safes, campsites, cars, motorcycles, dormitory rooms, or at the pool or beach.

Here’s more information from PacSafe about their product…

Here’s How You Use It:

Place your items into the Travel Safe.  Close the bag, by cinching the top of the pouch closed by using the stainless steel coil drawstring, which is woven into the top of the pouch.  The drawstring coil secures the bag and is kept firmly closed by a reinforced high-impact resistant polycarbonate locking system, so it can’t be opened.  After the bag is locked closed, you then wrap the steel coil around or through a stationary device (tree, metal frame of a bike, car seat or bed) and fastened with a hardened shackle brass padlock.

How Much Does it Hold?

The Travel Safe 100 has an internal capacity of 152 cubic inches (2.5 liter), and is 14 inches long by 8 inches wide.  It can hold a variety of items, from an assortment of cameras, PDA’s, GPS devices, to any number of other small items. The bag has an approximate expansion width of 6½ inches. It’s lightweight, only 9 ounces (250g).

Product Features:

  • The Travel Safe is constructed with the woven stainless steal mesh, the patented “eXomesh” interlocking security system.
  • The locking system is impact-resistant, and features a polycarbonate locking device made with a reinforced locking bead with pressed-brass fitting.
  • Pouch cinches securely at the top.
  • Each bag is provided with a hardened-shackle, solid brass padlock complete the with three keys.

The suggested retail price is $39.95. 

You can order the product from a variety of online retailers.  To purchase TravelSafe 100 directly from PacSafe, click here.   To order from Amazon.com, click here.

If you wish to read previous posts in the “Gadgets, Gizmos, Gear” category, click here.

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Doxies for Obama

With six days left before the November 4th election, Peggy and Lucy have decided (after much consideration and reflection) to officially endorse Barack Obana for President.  Following their much-anticipated announcement, Peggy and Lucy joined the Doxies for Obama coalition and received their official button (see below).

Above:  Lucy (left) and Peggy are pictured watching CNN for the latest poll results on the Presidential campaign.

 

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Aloha, Honolulu

I recently spent five pleasant days in Honolulu and had an opportunity to visit with friends and enjoy some local food at a few favorite old haunts.  My food stops included, among others…

Mini Garden

I previously featured this long-time favorite place in a earlier post, which you can view by clicking here.  Mini Garden now operates three locations; however, my favorite is the original home at 50 North Hotel Street, where they have been in operation since 1973.  I ordered stewed noodles with roasted duck, together with a side order of choy sum with oyster sauce.  Delicious!  Lunch, dinner and late night eating.  Open seven days a week.  No reservations needed.  808-538-1273.

Ideta

Ideta is a local institution that has been serving simple, no-frills Japanese food from its location at 620 Kohou Street in Honolulu for over 40 years.  Although Ideta was eclipsed many years ago by newer, flashier restaurants, it still delivers consistent, classic Japanese fare, such as butterfish misoyaki, tempura and sashimi.  Open for lunch and dinner.  Reservations accepted, but not required.  808-847-4844.

Yanagi Sushi
 

This popular sushi restaurant, located at 762 Kapiolani Boulevard, has been a Honolulu celebrity hangout for many years and the walls of the restaurant are lined with autographed photos of their more famous guests.  The restaurant has a large, diverse menu and serves beautifully-composed sushi platters and wonderfully fresh fish.  Full bar available.  Lunch served 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM, daily.  Dinner served 5:30 PM to 2:00 AM, Monday thru Saturday and 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM on Sundays.  Reservations recommended.  808-597-1525.

 

Mariposa at Neiman-Marcus

Mariposa is one of my favorite places for a meal, snack or cocktail, as well as an excellent gathering place for a group, which was the occasion for my visit last week.  They offer an imaginative menu with a smart mix of selections that appeals to both locals and visitors.  Plus, they serve the famous, enormous Neiman-Marcus popovers– yummy!  Full bar.  Lunch served from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday thru Saturday.  Light menu from 3:00 to 5:00 PM, daily.  Dinner served 5:00 to 9:00 PM, Sunday thru Wednesday and 5:00 to 10:00 PM, Thursday thru Sunday.  Reservations recommended.  Outdoor seating available with lovely views overlooking Ala Moana Park.  808-951-3420.

Phuket Thai Restaurant

I visited Phuket Thai Restaurant at 401 Kamakee Street, one of three locations in Honolulu, which was named Best Thai Restaurant for 2008 by Honolulu Magazine.  The restaurant serves standard Thai fare which has been adapted to appeal to a broader “western” audience.  The setting is spacious and contemporary and the staff is attentive and helpful.  Outdoor seating.  Full bar available.  Serves lunch and dinner.  Open Sunday thru Thursday, 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM and Fridays and Saturdays, 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM.  Reservations suggested.  808-591-8421.

Pavilion Cafe at the Honolulu Academy of Arts

Open-air dining is at its best at the casual Pavilion Cafe, located inside the landmark Honolulu Academy of Arts at 900 South Beretania Street in Honolulu.  I enjoyed a delicious Seared Ahi Salad, served on an amazing bed of wonderful “Waimanalo” greens– outstanding!  Lunch served Tuesday thru Saturday, 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.  Reservations recommended.  808-532-8734.  

     

 

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Today’s Quote

“Arrange whatever pieces come your way.”

   –Virginia Woolf

 To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Today’s Video

Saturday Night Live continues to score with their hilarious spoofs of the 2008 national election.  In the 10/25/08 episode, Will Ferrell makes a guest appearance as President George W. Bush.  Together with Tina Fey as Governor Sarah Palin, the SNL team delivers yet another amazing parody of the 2008 Presidential election.

What will we (and SNL) do for laughs once the election is over?

Credit: Saturday Night Live, NBC

To go to previous posts in the “Today’s Video” category, click here.

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Mad for Mango Mojito

If you’re getting weary of the standard mojito and are ready to move on, try this refreshing Mango Mojito which uses one of the famous purees from The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley

INGREDIENTS:

1 fresh Lime
Light Rum (or Mango-flavored rum, available from various brands)
2 tablespoon simple syrup
3 sprigs fresh mint
1 tablespoon granluated sugar
2 tablespoons mango puree (from The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley)

DIRECTIONS:

1.  In a cocktail shaker (or large glass), add juice of 1 lime, 2 mint sprigs, sugar, and simple syrup;
2.  Using a muddler, smash ingredients together in the shaker;
3.  Add ice to the shaker;
4.  Add mangue puree;
5.  Add rum (3-5 oz, depending on size of shaker and desired size of cocktail);
6.  Shake ingredients in shaker (or pour into a shaker, if using a glass);
7.  Once cocktail is well shaken, pour all ingredients into a tall serving glass;
8.  Garnish with mint leaves, if desired.
9.  Serve and enjoy!

 

You can order any of the purees from The Perfect Puree of Napa Valley directly from their website, by clicking here.  Some of their products are also available for purchase at Whole Foods.

To view cocktail recipes from previous posts, click here.   

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Inside the Sleeping Bag

At first glance, this doggy sleeping bag appears empty, except for the tip of a nose protruding from the opening…

However, upon closer inspection, we can find Peggy and Lucy inside the same sleeping bag…

 

They were layered on top of each other, in criss-cross directions… taking a mid-morning nap…

Photos taken: 10/4/08

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Today’s Quote

“If I don’t have friends, then I ain’t nothing.”

   -Billie Holiday

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Halloween is Coming!

Fall is here and Halloween is coming.  Peggy (left) and Lucy are getting ready for some serious trick-or-treating at Halloween!  Bring on the treats!

Photo taken: 10/16/08
Credits: Animation by Graphics Arcade

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Today’s Quote

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”

   –Erica Jong

To read previous posts in the “Today’s Quote” category, click here.

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Today’s Video

Today’s video is one of the latest TV spots from No on Prop 8 which is attempting to combat the recent wave of advertisements by conservative political and religious groups behind California Proposition 8, which appears on the November 4th ballot.  As many of you know, Proposition 8 seeks to modify the California Constitution by eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry.   If passed, this proposition will enshrine discrimination in the State’s constitution.


 
This ad uses a nice, light touch (through the now familiar Mac vs. PC ad format) while still delivering a strong, clear message– Prop 8 is unfair, unnecessary and wrong.

To make a donation to the No on Prop 8 effort, click here to access their secure website.  To learn more about Proposition 8, you can visit the No on Prop 8 website by clicking here

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Today’s Quote

“It is absurd to divide people into good and bad.  People are either charming or tedious.”

   –Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan, Act I, 1892

 

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Broadway Cares

      

Today’s website is the Online Holiday Store of Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA), the country’s leading industry-based, non-profit AIDS fundraising and grant-making organization.  BC/EFA is the ongoing response from the American Theatre community to the worldwide HIV health crisis, which has raised over $140 million for urgently-needed services for people with AIDS, HIV or HIV-related illnesses.

BC/EFA is the major supporter of six programs at The Actors Fund - including The AIDS Initiative, The Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative, two supportive housing residences and the Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic at The Aurora in NYC – and awards grants to over 400 AIDS and family service organizations yearly.

You can purchase a wide variety of products from the Online Store, such as:

* Signature “Broadway Cares” products;
* Books;
* Clothing;
* DVDs;
* Calendars;
* Holiday cards, decorations and ornaments;
* Red ribbon merchandise; and much, much more.

Proceeds from the Online Store are used to support BC/EFA efforts.  This online store provides a great way to buy affordable holiday gifts for friends and family while supporting an outstanding cause.

Visit the Broadway Cares Equity Fights AIDS main website by clicking here.  To make a donation to BC/EFA via their secure site, click here.

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Mauna Kea Reopens

“What Was, Will Be Once More.”  Following a two-year closure and $150 million in repairs and renovations, the beloved, landmark Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, has announced a soft opening in late December 2008 and a Grand Re-opening in March 2009.  The hotel closed in December 2006 due to safety concerns following a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that struck the Big Island in October 2006, causing significant structural damage to the 43-year old landmark property, which was recognized in 2007 by the American Institute of Architects as one of the best examples of U.S architecture.

Reservations are now being accepted at the property, and Liana Mulleitner, Director of Corporate Communications for Prince Resorts Hawaii, owner of the Mauna Kea, reports that “We actually have a waiting list,” according to published reports.  Room rates at the resort start at $450 a night. 

When it reopens, the Mauna Kea will become the flagship property of Prince Resorts Hawaii, which also operates the nearby Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel and one property each in Waikiki and on Maui.

Hotel refurbishments have focused on the interior, where the number of rooms has been be reduced from 310 to 258.  The more spacious rooms will now include standard luxury amenities such as flat-screen LCD HD televisions and electronics connectivity.  Some rooms also will feature private bath lanai and wall-less “rain” showers.

The Mauna Kea was the brain child of financier and philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller who, as a guest in 1960 of Hawaii Governor Bill Quinn, spotted the future resort area during a flyover.  The hotel is situated on the finest white sand beach on the Island of Hawaii.  “Every great beach deserves a great hotel,” Rockefeller is said to have commented.

In a press statement issued by Prince Resorts Hawaii in August 2008, Senior Vice President Paul Yokota indicated that efforts are underway to help ensure that the hotel provides “service of the highest caliber,” with the hope that the hotel will receive the Five Diamond designation from AAA.  (Currently, only three Hawaii hotels have received this coveted award from AAA– Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Hisoric Ka’upulehu, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, and The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.)  According to Yokota, the hotel will achieve this through a philosophy called “lokomaika’i,” or “sharing goodness from within.”  He states “I was inspired by the Hawaiian word and the value it represents, because it’s not just about doing things.  It’s about where those things come from.  I believe that our investment in our staff is more important than any other element of our resort’s renovation.  Their willingness to share of themselves is where the personality and warmth of Mauna Kea lies.”

The Mauna Kea’s new General Manager is Jon Gersonde, formerly general manager of the legendary Royal Hawaiian Hotel on Oahu’s Waikiki Beach.

Congratulations and mahalo nui loa to Prince Resorts Hawaii and parent company Prince Hotels and Resorts Japan, for saving this magnificent property and investing in its future.   I fondly remember many visits to the Mauna Kea during its glory days in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  I’m hoping that the hotel will bring back their famous, lavish Sunday brunch which was served on the outdoor terrace overlooking the pristine white-sand Mauna Kea beach.

To learn more about the upcoming reopening of the Mauna Kea or to make reservations, visit their official website by clicking here.

To read a previous post on the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel (neighbor and sister property to the Mauna Kea), click here.

Above: Excerpt from a direct-mail piece announcing the re-opening of the hotel and featuring the orange/white plumeria– the widely-recognized symbol of Mauna Kea.

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Carve for Obama

Today’s website is called YesWeCarve.com, a non-commercial site focused on Halloween pumpkins that support the Barack Obama Presidential campaign.  The site includes photos of Obama-themed jack-o-lanterns made by everyday folks across the country.  The site also provides a downloadable stencil that you can use to carve your own Obama pumpkin for Halloween.

To view the website, click here or use the link above.

Here’s a sample photo submitted by a group from Lander, WY that is displayed on the website.  To see other photos submitted by site visitors to the Yes We Carve website, click on the tab called “Photos” in their top navigation.

Here’s a whoo-hoo to the team behind Yes We Carve for creating a fun, whimsical and season-appropriate website!

 

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Today’s Video

Governor Sarah Palin made her much-anticipated appearance on NBC’s Saturday Night Live on 10/18/08 and the SNL team used it as another great opportunity to lampoon her public persona.  Here are two videos from the show.  To view them, click the Play button.

Source: Saturday Night Live, NBC

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On Stage in SFO

This month I had the opportunity to see three productions on San Francisco stages– Spring Awakening at the Curran Theatre, Rock and Roll at ACT’s Geary Theatre, and A Bronx Tale at the Golden Gate Theatre.

A BRONX TALE at the Golden Gate Theatre

  

A Bronx Tale is a semi-autobiographical one-man show, written and performed by Chazz Palminteri, which is currently playing at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco as part of a 2008-2009 national tour.  The play premiered in Los Angeles in 1990, where it received great critical praise.  Palminteri then moved the show to New York, where it enjoyed a critically and commercially successful four-month run Off-Broadway. 

A Bronx Tale is set in The Bronx section of New York in the 1960’s and tells the story of Calogero Anello (nicknamed “C”), a nine-year old boy from a working class family who gets involved in the world of organized crime. 

The play was made into a film in 1993 by Robert DeNiro, in his directorial debut.  The cast included Palminteri, DeNiro and Joe Pesci.  According to written reports, Palminteri refused to sell the film rights to the play until the right offer came along, which included a provision that he play the key role of mobster Sonny.  After seeing the play during its Off-Broadway run, DeNiro reportedly approached Palminteri and offered to make the film and cast Palminteri as Sonny.  The film helped launched Palminteri’s successful film career, which includes an Oscar-nominated performance in Woody Allen’s 1994 film, Bullets Over Broadway.

In the play, Palminteri plays “C” (at Age 9 and 17), as well as a dozen other characters, including his father and gangster ”Sonny” who both shaped the youngster’s life.  It’s an amazing and physically-demanding performance by Palminteri.

The reviews of the Off-Broadway production included the following excerpts from The New York Times and NY1 News:

To learn more about the 2008-2009 national tour of A Bronx Tale, visit the official website by clicking here.

To read more about the film version from IMDB, click here.  To purchase the DVD version of A Bronx Tale from Amazon.com, click here.   

 

SPRING AWAKENING at the Curran Theatre

  

Spring Awakening, winner of eight 2007 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, is now playing at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre, as part of the rock musical’s national tour.  Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 German play of the same name, Spring Awakening features music by Duncan Sheik and book and lyrics by Steve Sater, and focuses on a set of teenagers who are discovering their sexuality in late 19th-century Germany. 

The show premiered Off-Broadway in 2006 and ran for three months before moving to Broadway’s Eugene O’Neil Theatre, where it received rave reviews for its ravishing rock score and compelling, high-energy performances.  It received 11 Tony Award nominations and won eight awards.  The Original Cast Recording won the Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album in 2008.

Using a young cast and no stars, the show has helped propel the careers of many of its principal players, including Jonathan Graff (2007 Tony Award nominee, Lead Actor in a Musical) and John Gallagher, Jr. (2007 Tony Award Winner, Featured Actor in a Musical).

I thought the show was electrifying– and easily the best youth-oriented musical since Jonathan Larson’s groundbreaking 1996 rock musical, Rent.

To view the official website for Spring Awakening and to learn more about the national tour, click here.  To purchase the Original Broadway Cast Recording CD from Amazon.com, click here.

Credits: Spring Awakening photo from The New York Times

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Palin as President

The website PalinAsPresident.com has become an overnight Internet sensation by offering an animated spoof of Governor Sarah Palin in the White House.  The site consists of a single interactive frame where you can click on images to activate animation or sound.  Simply roll your mouse over different objects within the image and click.  To go there, click here.  TIP: Click on the photos on the wall, the windows, and the bridge model on the desk, as examples.

NOTE:  The image below is static; use the link to get to the actual website.

 

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Today’s Video

In its broadcast on 10/16/08, Saturday Night Live took aim at the third and final Presidential Debate held on 10/15/08 at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY.  In this hilarious lampoon, SNL comedians Fred Armisen and Darrell Hammond play Presidental candidates Barack Obama and John McCain, respectively.

 

To view the video, click the Play symbol in the video frame.

SNL continues to do an amazing job mining the candidate’s appearances and exploiting their performances to great comedic effect.  Go, SNL!

Source: Saturday Night Live, NBC

To review previous posts in the “Today’s Video” category, click here.

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Linda Eder in Vegas

One of the reasons I visited Las Vegas last week was to see Linda Eder in concert at the Suncoast Casino Showroom on 10/12/08.   She was appearing in three performances in Las Vegas, as part of her ongoing concert tour.

Ms. Eder is a vocalist who gained fame in the original role of Lucy in the Broadway musical Jekyll & Hyde, which is based on the novel, “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” by Robert Louis Stevenson.  The original stage concept was by Steve Cuden and Frank Wildhorn.  The music was composed by Wildhorn with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse.  The show opened on Broadway in April 1997 and closed in January 2001, following 1,543 performances, which made it the longest-running show in the history of the Plymouth Theatre.  I saw the show on Broadway in December 1997 with the original cast, which included Linda Eder, Robert Cuccioli (Jekyll/Hyde) and Christiane Noll (Emma).  Since that time, I’ve seen about four of her live concerts, including this intimate performance at the Suncoast Casino, one of the smaller venues in her tour schedule.

Linda Eder’s recording of “A New Life,” from the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Jekyll & Hyde, is ranked No. 9 on my list of Top 10 Favorite Songs.  To view my complete list of Top 10 Songs (from a previous post), click here.

You can view Linda Eder in a recorded performance of “A New Life” from Jekyll and Hyde below.  To view the video, click the Play icon.

Over her career, Linda Eder has released nine solo albums.  The three most recent albums, including the release of “The Other Side of Me” last month, are shown below. 

 You can learn more about Linda Eder and check out her concert schedule at her website, LindaEder.com.

To view Linda Eder’s complete list of recordings, click here.  All recordings are available in CD format via The Linda Eder Store at amazon.com or for downloading via iTunes.

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At Red Rock Resort

  

This week I stayed at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in Summerlin, Las Vegas, near the famous Red Rock Canyon.  The 815-room hotel is part of the 11-property Stations Casino chain, and marks the company’s entry into more upscale resort-style accommodations.  It’s currently one of my favorite Las Vegas properties, which also include Wynn Las Vegas (and soon Wynn Encore), Bellagio, Hard Rock Hotel, Palms and Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas.

Unlike many other Las Vegas hotels/casinos, Red Rock has done an excellent job separating the hotel/resort/spa from the casino operations, including separate porte cocheres, valets and parking garages.  This means that it’s not necessary to pass through or by the casino floor in order to reach your hotel room.  Guest rooms face either Red Rock Canyon or The Strip. 

 

Above: View of the hotel entrance to the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa.  A separate entrance is designed to serve the casino.  Below: View of the spacious and stylish contemporary lobby. 

Above: Room 16139 is a typical guest room with a view of The Strip (in the distance) and is decorated in a contemporary style, with a brown and green color palette.  Below:  The well-stocked mini bar included a nice assortment of snacks and beverages, as well as a cocktail shaker and martini glasses.  Excellent!

 Above:  The room was nicely designed with functional and handsome built-in items, including a reasonably-large work desk, shelf and flat-panel TV.  Two photos below:  The spacious bathroom was covered in faux-leather wallcoverings, with a continuation of the brown/green color palette.

Above:  View of the expansive resort pool area.  Below:  Sunrise view from Room 16139, with the skyline of The Strip in the far distance.

Three photos below:  Red Rock Casino Resort Spa boasts ten eateries, including Hachi, which specializes in “modern Japanese cuisine” in a ultra-contemporary setting. 

Our meal included edamame, sashimi sampler (shown in photo below), assorted kushiyaki (beef, chicken and shrimp), sushi (eel and avocado, spicy tuna, and tamago), grilled eggplant, chicken dumplings, and vegetable fried rice.  Thumbs-up to Hachi!

These feet will definitely head back to Red Rock Casino Resort Spa!

Photos taken: 10/12/08

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Where is that Drink?

Where is that drink?

This beautiful martini was poured at the spacious and comfortable Lobby Bar at the Red Rock Hotel Casino Spa in Las Vegas, NV.  The super-sized bar area and lounge serves as the centerpiece of the hotel’s lobby and provides a great spot for a conversation or to relax before (or after) a visit to the Casino upstairs.

To view previous posts in the “Where is that Drink?” series, click here.

Photos taken: 10/12/08 

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Back to Vegas, Baby

It’s back to Las Vegas this week via Southwest Airlines 1787 from Oakland.  The weather in Las Vegas has been unusually cool for early October (68-degrees high, 52 degrees low), which is a welcome change from the triple-digit temperatures I experienced in Las Vegas less than 45 days ago.

And “hats off” to Southwest Airlines for implementing a series of recent systen improvements, including:

1.  “Business Select” fares, priced $10-$30 higher than the top regular fare, that provide special perks such as guaranteed boarding among the first passengers on the flight (ususally within Boarding Group A1 to A15), additional credits toward free flights in their frequent flyer program, and a free drink coupon (yippee!);
2.  New, improved seating areas at airports in major Southwest destinations, including work counters with electrical and USB charging stations, and more comfortable lounge seating;
3.  Complimentary coffee and pastries at gates at some major Southwest destinations.

Plus, Southwest has (thankfully) refrained from imposing additional fees which are now commonplace with many other major domestic carriers.  This means that you can still expect the following from Southwest:

1.  Up to two checked two pieces of luggage per passenger at no charge;
2.  No fees for changes to itineraries;
3.  No curbside check-in fee;
4.  No fuel surcharge.

And here are some interesting additional tidbits on Southwest:

*  It is the largest airline in the USA based on number of passengers carried domestically;
*  It is the largest airline in the world based on number of passengers carried;
*  It is the sixth largest carrier in the USA based on revenue:
*  It is the fifth largest carrier in the world in terms of total number of aircraft;
*  It has posted a profit for 35 consecutive years, as of January 2008.

Go, Southwest!

More details on my Las Vegas experiences to follow in subsequent posts.

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Today’s Quote

“Birds sing after a storm; why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever remains to them?”

   –Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

To go to previous entries in the “Today’s Quote” series, click here.

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Champagne Anytime

Any time is a good time for champagne.  And here are recipes for two of my favorite champagne-based cocktails, which are great for toasting or any happy gathering.

KIR ROYALE

INGREDIENTS:

*  Creme de Cassis, a blood red, sweet, blackcurrant-flavored liquer
*  Champagne (of your choice)

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Pour about 2 tsp. Creme de Cassis into a champagne flute;
2.  Top flute with chilled champagne;
3.  Garnish with a fresh berry (raspberry, blackberry) or lemon twist;
4.  Serve, enjoy and keep re-filling, as needed.

I re-discovered the tasty pleasure of the Kir Royale when fellow diners on the Queen Mary 2 bought our table a round of cocktails last month, and we each ordered a Kir Royale. 

CHAMPAGNE COCKTAIL

INGREDIENTS:

*  1 sugar cube
*  Angostura Bitters
*  Cognac
*  Champagne (of your choice)

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Place sugar cube in champagne flute;
2.  Carefully add Angostura bitters to fully soak/cover sugar cube;
3.  Add 3/4 oz. Cognac;
4.  Top glass with chilled champagne;
5.  Garnish with a lemon twist or orange peel;
6.  Serve, enjoy and keep re-filling, as needed.

To read previous posts on Cocktails, click here.

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Pleasant Hill Festival

Last weekend Peggy and Lucy joined the fun and frolic at the annual Pleasant Hill Art, Jazz and Wine Festival, held in Downtown Pleasant Hill, CA.  The festival features art and handcrafts, live music, wine tasting from Bay area wineries, and food from local eateries.  Most of all, it provides Peggy and Lucy with an opportunity to socialize with their many fans.   The two comments they hear most often are: (1) “I’ve never seen a dachshund with those colors and pattern!”, and (2) “Are they sisters?”

 

Above: Peggy (Left) and Lucy survey the scene in Downtown Pleasant Hill.  Below:  The owner and mascot of a dog accessories and apparel booth invite Peggy and Lucy to do some shopping for their fall wardrobe.

Below:  Peggy and Lucy are anxious to explore other areas of the street festival, following a brief (but enjoyable!) stop at the Nibblers booth for “premium” wine tasting.  Nibblers is a stylish neighborhood eatery/wine room, located at 1922 Oak Park Blvd, in Pleasant Hill, with a large wine list (by the glass and bottle) and an impressive, continuously-changing menu of small plates, focused around different themes and regional cooking styles.  Check it out!

The highlight of the festival was the opportunity for Peggy to meet Governor Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, who (apparently) took time from her busy media interview schedule to build support among the many wine drinkers at the street fair.

But.. oops, Peggy noticed that Governor Palin apparently stepped in some doggy poop while meeting folks in Pleasant Hill.  Fortunately, upon closer inspection, Peggy was able to confirm that the dog responsible for the poop belonged to a Republican voter, so at least Governor Palin was able to step in Republican poop and not Democratic poop.  As Governor Palin would say, “Golly, gosh, gee, heck, darn…” 

Wink.

Photo taken: 10/4/08.

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Update on Prop 8

In a surprising change in public opinion, the results of a CBS 5 poll released yesterday indicate that supporters of Proposition 8, which seeks to amend the California Constitution by redefining marriage as between a man and woman only, now lead by a 47 to 42 margin–a stunning reversal in opinion in less than two weeks.  Opponents of Proposition 8 cite a recent TV advertisement by supporters of the initiative as influencing public opinion, particularly among younger voters, who previously had been expected to strongly oppose the proposition. 

According to state-required financial reports filed as of 9/30/08, groups supporting Proposition 8 have raised over $25 million, compared with $19 million for opponents of the measure.

Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California, which is opposing Proposition 8, said ”We’ve seen a real shift since (Prop. 8 supporters’) massive ad buy.  People who have supported us in the past will have to step up again, and those who haven’t will have to give.”  In an email to supporters this week, Geoff Kors wrote, “This is crunch time.  With less than a month before the election, we must get on the air now to answer these lies and swing votes back to our side.  And the only way to do that is to raise more money.  The generous $15.8 million that our supporters have given isn’t enough.  Not when the other side has nearly $10 million more than we do and the fundraising gap is growing.”

Last week, Equality California released its first TV advertisement opposing Proposition 8, shown below:

To make a contribution to Equality California and their “No on 8″ campaign, click here.   To purchase offical  ”No on 8″ merchandise, including signs for your yard, click here.

To read more about the results of the latest poll in the Los Angeles Times, click here

To view the most recent previous post on this topic, click here.

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Back to Hawaii Five-0

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the premiere of the hit TV series, Hawaii Five-0 (which debuted on 9/26/68) and in celebration of the announcement by CBS in August that they are planning a remake of the series for the 2009-2010 season, here’s the famous title sequence from the 1968 series, featuring the theme music that was later popularied by The Ventures.

And here are some tidbits about Hawaii Fve-0:

*  The show ran for 12 seasons, from 1968 to 1980, making it the longest running crime show on American television until the police drama Law & Order surpassed it in 2003;
*  The term “Five-0″ in the show’s title was intended as a reference to Hawaii, the 50th state in the nation;
*  Seven of the show’s principal actors have since passed away– Jack Lord (as Steve McGarrett), Kam Fong (as Chin Ho Kelly), Gilbert Kauhi Zulu (as Kono), Herman Wedemeyer (as Duke), Richard Denning (as the Governor), Moe Keale (as Truck) and Khigh Dhiegh (as Wo Fat);
*  Kam Fong, who played Chin Ho, was a real Honolulu police officer for 17 years before changing careers to become an actor.  He originally auditioned for the part of villain Wo Fat,  but was cast as Chin Ho instead;
*  The show still airs in syndication and has been seen by an estimated 40 million people;
*  Seasons 1 through 4 of the series are available on DVD; Season 5 will be released on 11/18/08;

To order the DVDs from amazon.com’s Hawaii Five-0 Store (yes, they have a store for the series!), click here.

Long live Hawaii Five-0!

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Eating in NYC

One of the best things about New York City is the number and diversity of great restaurants.  And new, amazing restaurants are opening every single day; therefore, it’s a challenge to even scratch the surface of the New York dining scene.

During this visit, I was able to visit some old (and new) favorite places, including the following three:

1.  Trattoria dell Arte, located at 900 Seventh Avenue, between 56th and 57 Streets.  This is one of my all-time favorite mid-town eateries and we always stop by during our stays in New York.  They offer a large, beautiful antipasto bar where you can survey the day’s offerings and then “pick and point.”  It’s a good choice for an after-theatre meal.

2.  Pastis, located at 9 Ninth Avenue, between W 12th and W 13th Streets.  This landmark restaurant in the Meatpacking District offers good, solid breakfast fare at reasonable prices.  On a warm day, it’s an excellent place to sit outdoors with a cup of coffee.  (Our thanks to Kathy and Natalie for hosting breakfast here!)

3.  Babbo, located at 110 Waverly Place, at the northwest corner of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village.  Opened in 1998 by celebrity Chef Mario Batali, this charming restaurant in The Village serves classic Italian fare, together with an expansive list of Italian wines.  The restaurant has two levels– a lower level with a bustling bar and (rather crowded) set of tables for dining and an upper level that contains a jewelbox of a dining room, with soft, beautiful lighting and a high ceiling.  (Our thanks to Jeff and Sunda for hosting a lovely dinner here.)

  

Additionally, we visited Fred’s at Barneys New York and Buddakan.   Click the links to see the previous posts on these restaurants.

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On Broadway

During my stay in New York last week, I saw three shows on Broadway– Equus, Boeing Boeing, and All My Sons.  It was definitely an interesting mix of shows. 

EQUUS at the Broadhurst Theatre

This limited 22-week run, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Sir Richard Griffiths, who both reprise their roles from the London production, was in final previews last week, in preparation for opening on 10/1/08.  The Broadway run is already sold out, based largely on Radcliffe’s star power (from Harry Potter film fame), his famous full-frontal nude scene, and the critical and box-office acclaim during its run in London’s West End.  The play, written in 1973 by Peter Shaffer, was performed on Broadway in 1975 in a production starring Anthony Hopkins and Peter Firth.  This is its first Broadway revival.

My observations were:

*  Co-star Sir Richard Griffiths (Tony-award winner for “The History Boys”) steals the show in the role of Dr. Martin Dysart, the psychiatrist who is treating 17-year old Alan Strang (played by Radcliffe) for a crime in which he blinded six horses;
*  In addition to shedding his clothes, Daniel Radcliffe successfully sheds his image as wizard Harry Potter in this shrewd piece of casting and career management;
*  The show holds up reasonably well after more than 30 years, given the advancements in the field of psychiatry and the changing views on homosexuality;
*  Although much hoopla is made of Radcliffe’s full-frontal nude scene, it’s interesting to note that his co-star, Anna Camp, in the role of young girlfriend Jill Mason, also appears nude in the play;
*  The spare, simple staging by Tony-award winner John Napier (who designed the original production) is highly-effective and adds to the dark, brooding mood of the production;
*  The choreography and costuming of the actors who play the six horses is imaginative and chilling.

Messrs. Griffiths and Radcliffe received a rousing standing ovation for their performance.

To learn more about the Broadway production, visit the official website by clicking here.  To purchase tickets from Telecharge, click here.

  

“The young wizard has chosen wisely.  Making his Broadway debut, 19 year-old film star Daniel Radcliffe steps into his part and wears it like a tailor’s delight – that is a natural fit that allows room to stretch.”

   –Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“A rattling good show.  Peter Shaffer’s solid craftsmanship hasn’t aged a day, and the showy theatricality of Thea Sharrock’s staging knocks every single crumb of rust of the script.  As for the large cast, I don’t see how it could be improved upon.  A near-ideal revival, a consummately effective piece of theatre.”

   –Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

BOEING BOEING at the Longacre Theatre

Christine Baranski, two-time Tony-award winner (”Rumors” and “The Real Thing”) leads an impressive cast in Boeing Boeing, the winner of two 2008 Tony awards for Best Revival of a Play and Best Actor (Mark Rylance).  The play, a French farce written by Marc Camoletti, originally opened in 1962 and ran for a total of seven years.  A film version, starring Tony Curtis and Jerry Lewis, was made in 1965.

The show features broad, near-slapstick humor and highly-animated physicality by the entire cast, including Mark Rylance, as Mark (Tony-award winner), and Kathryn Hahn as flight attendant Gloria.  The brightly-lit, mod-70’s set is a treat, too.

Christine Baranski appears to have fun delivering the droll lines of Bertha, the long-suffering housekeeper, who was famously played by Thelma Ritter in the film version.

The Broadway run is currently open-ended.  To read more about the Broadway production, click here.  To purchase tickets, click here

 

“Up, up and away! ‘Boeing-Boeing’ is pure pleasure and unconditional bliss! It soars right out of its time zone and into some stratosphere of classic comedy. The happy cast, led by Christine Baranski, is a roaring success.  Mark Rylance gives a priceless performance, evoking the great Buster Keaton.  A delicious, delirious production. ”

   –Ben Brantley, The New York Times

ALL MY SONS at the Schoenfeld Theatre

The biggest treat for me in the Broadway line-up was the revival of Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons,” featuring a dream cast of two-time Tony-award winner John Lithgow (”The Changing Room” and “Sweet Smell of Success”), two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest (”Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway”), Tony-nominee Patrick Wilson (”The Full Monty”), and Katie Holmes.

The play opened on Broadway in 1947 and won Tony awards for Arthur Miller and Director Elia Kazan.   It was adapted for the screen in 1948 featuring Edward G. Robinson and Burt Lancaster.  A 1987 Broadway revival starred Richard Kiley.

I saw a preview performance on 9/27/08, which the cast dedicated to the memory of Paul Newman, who passed away a day earlier.  The show opens on 10/16/08 and will close on 1/11/09.

John Lithgow delivered a towering, highly-physical performance as Joe Keller (Father) that packed an enormous emotional punch.  Dianne Wiest brought her natural delicacy and fragility to the challenging role of Kate Keller (Mother).   Patrick Wilson (”Little Children” and “The Phantom of the Opera”) was impressive in the role of the suffering son, Chris Keller.  And, Katie Holmes (who looked great from the 5th row) managed to do no damage in her much-ballyhooed Broadway debut in the role of girlfriend Ann Deever.

To learn more about the limited-run production on Broadway, click here.  To purchase tickets, click here.

And… while in London, I was able to see Billy Elliot, The Musical.  To read that post, click here.

To read more about the current line-up of shows on Broadway or London’s West End, click here to go to Playbill.com.

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