bucaneer grandma


Drove into Queens to have lunch with grandma at the Buckaneer Diner (where my parents used to go for icecream after a high school date.) My father, true to form, ordered an extra-thick chocolate milkshake. Grandma picked apart her turkey burger while telling her trademark stream-of-consciousness stories that meandered from eating fish (with the head!) in Portugal, to trying on a kimono in Japan, to noticing the lack of cats and dogs in China, the dress of foul-mouthed junior high school kids down the block, the lack of Starbucks in Queens, grandpa's full head of hear, Uncle Sammy, Long Island Christmas light decorations, and the apartment she's lived in for 297 years straight, from back when it was first built and had mud sidewalks and a hand-cranked water well and they raised chickens on the roof and walked 12 miles up hill in the snow to get to school after working all night in the shoe factory...
After lunch we went to MOMA's temporary location in Queens, a converted wharehouse. Total and complete letdown. Twelve bucks got us into far too much crappy modern art by Kiki Smith, and all of three reasonable interesting paintings from the permanent collection. Very very lame, including the musuem store which featured books and postcards and other crap available at amazon.com. The new design for the museum looks cool, so I think we'll wait until next year before we bother with MOMA again. Verdict: skip Queens and head for The Met.

woodbury commons

The weather was unseasonably warm, with just a smattering of rain in the morning, so we went up to Woodbury Commons for some more saving-the-economy retail shopping. I attacked Joseph Abboud with wild abandon, picking up another three shirts for a bargain, and Hiroko did nicely with cashmere sweaters, slacks, and jeans. Masa and Yuko fared less well, and their meager purchases paled in comparison to our overflowing shopping bags.
By the afternoon the crowds had thickened and it was time to head home, the trunk full and the wallet thinned.

happy new year


We went to the Westchester Dinner Theatre to see Miracle on 34th Street (musical) and celebrate the new year. The first thing we noticed when entering the lobby was the pre-dinner mountains of lobster claws and shrimp. Damn the dinner, full speed a-lobster! Hiroko and I plowed through several plates of crustacean before the first act, as did Masa and Yuko.
The show started and it was surprisingly good -- much better than I expected and at least as good as what I've seen on Broadway.
After the show dinner arrived, my steak was inhaled, Masa consumed dessert for three, and the band fired up. In contrast to the musical, the band was:
1) loud
2) bad
They started somewhere in the roaring twenties and worked their way up through the sixties with a non-stop musical medley that could only be described as Please Stop Now. The lead male singer was mediocre, but at least he wasn't so loud. The female lead singer was both mediocre and deafening. Taking a small break they left the mic to the keyboardist for his rendition of Elvis Plays The Dinner Theatre, Badly. At one point my dad commented "I can't actually hear the melody", which is generally the impression a band wants to avoid giving, but in this case it was ok because the songs were so not good. But the crowd of dancers took to the stage with abandon. We looked on with amusement and horror as my parents were joined on the dance stage by Large Man in Blue T-Shirt, Too Old For That Small A Red Dress, Victorian Lace With Neck Tattoo, Bring Me My Heart Medication, Glad We Took All Those rumba Lessons, Gold Pinky Ring And Hair Grease, Where's My Rhythm and The Large Sisters.
At midnight we donned our silly hats, made noise with our noise-makers, drank a wee bit of champagne from plastic champagne glasses, and got the hell outta there just as the band made it into the 1970's and started their BeeGees tribute.

long island


It was a glorious cultural experience. First we went to Lindenhurst to see Alaina and Nick's new house. Little Nicky did the Hokie Pokie Elmo, spread ham all over the place, and was generally cute. He has lots of toys, though I wonder if it's just an exuse for his dad to buy them all. Nick had to go to work so we headed over to North Babylon to check out Mike and Diane's new house. Still working on most of it, but the downstairs fishing lounge is nicely wood-panelled, the fireplace looks cool, and the backyard is spacious (plenty of room for a jacuzzi.) Then we went to Uncle Mike and Aunt Stephanie's for canoli and coffee. Uncle Mike's Christmas decorations were pretty good, but I think Nick's were better. But neither of them could hold a candle to The House we saw on Deer Park Avenue. This guy has 800 amps of electricity and a sign that says "Please don't park in my neighbor's driveway." Actually the house next door was on sale (I wonder why?)

aunt pat & uncle bill

Drove up with cousin Dave and we had a lunch of leftovers which included mama's famous vegetarian chopped liver made with string beans, walnuts, hard-boiled eggs, and caramelized onions. Dave brought his iBook and we played some retro video games.
For dinner we had more veggie food: cous-cous and ratatouille. So healthy! (Finished off with icecream and more leftover pies and cakes.)