Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Polynesian Style Chinese Restaurants were among my favorite places to eat out in back in the 1970s-80s.  They were extremely popular all over the US, but here in the northern NJ area there were a few spectacular ones.  One such place…


WOW.  If I could only get into a time machine, that is one place I’d want to go back to!

I know it closed years ago surrounded by rumors of health department violations and tax issues. 

In trying to search it out online as I was certain I’d find some photos on the web… but the closest thing I could find was a posting HERE. 

It seems as though the name may have been changed to TIKI.  The drawing (above) was a dead giveaway, and the vintage looking menu (below) was so typical of the way the menus looked in those days.

The restaurant was decorated with tribal masks and bamboo hut booths complete with thatched roofs were all around.  Waiters were dressed in uniforms and linen tablecloths and napkins decorated the tables.

This was the first Chinese restaurant that offered a smorgasbord.  Of course you could order off an a la carte menu, but why would you? 

Don’t even think it was similar to the millions of Chinese Buffets of the current day.   This one was amazing to say the least.  It was made up mostly of your typical Chinese-American dishes but also some with a very upscale twist. 

I couldn’t get enough of there “HAWAIIAN STEAK” which was cubed tips of beef that were marinated in a pineapple juice and white pepper.  I have tried to mimic this recipe but with no luck whatsoever.  Barbeque spareribs by the truckload, batter dipped colossal fantail shrimp, succulent egg rolls and the best fried rice ever!

These were just a few standout items.

At $11.95, which was really expensive in 1975(!) THE ORIENTAL LUAU was reserved for special occasions like birthdays…

But my Dad did get his moneys worth.  I surely ate more than enough for one person!

If anyone has any vintage photos of this great restaurant, please send them to, and I’ll post them here.

PS-I did find something funny on the web.  A comment from a woman that reads:

“When I was a child, my parents would take me out to this restaurant in Old Tappan, NJ called The Oriental Luau. Back then if you were 10 years old, they charged you the "adult" rate of $11.95. Since it was a buffet, my father felt that I should eat what he thought was $11.95 worth of food (this was in the mid-1970's) One time, he told me I did not eat enough and I better eat more or he would not bring me back. So I ate more, proceeded to feel sick, went to the ladies room and barfed.

This was the only and only time. I don't allow anyone to bully me into excess, it hurts too much.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My friend Kathleen has been fascinated with these abandoned Amtrak trains for a while and recently her, Sylvia, Fred and I went there to take some photos.  This is one of the coolest places around!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Goddess of Pop, Cher, was immortalized on
Hollywood Boulevard
when she sunk her hands and feet into the cement in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on Thursday.
Her mother Georgia Holt and son Chaz Bono witnessed the ceremony.
"This is more special than you can possibly imagine because when I was 4 years old my mother and I came to this theater, actually my dad too, saw 'Cinderella,'" Cher said, recalling her childhood experience. "I said to my mother, 'When I grow up I'm going to do this.'"
The El Centro, California native is a recipient of an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes as well as a Cannes Film Festival Award and a People's Choice Award for her work in film, music and television.
Her latest film "Burlesque" will hit theaters six days later in North America movie theaters. She plays a club owner and star-maker opposite the heroine -- played by up-and-coming singer Christina Aguilera as a small-town girl who strives to make her way up to a Los Angeles burlesque club to pursue her dreams.
Cher rose to stardom in 1965 as one half of the pop rock duo Sonny & Cher with the success of their song "I Got You Babe." She then worked as an established solo recording artist and is the only female solo artist to reach the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 in each of the previous four decades.
Cher was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1984 when she played in "Silkwood," a drama based on the harrowing account of whistle blower Karen Silkwood. She played a lesbian in love with the heroine played by Meryl Streep, and her first-rate portrayal marks the beginning of her Oscar career. She also starred in a number of popular films including "Mask" and "The Witches of Eastwick" for which she was crowned the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988.
Cher hit the jackpot when she starred as Loretta Castorini in "Moonstruck," winning an Oscar for best actress.
She also appeared on small screen and was successful playing a star in 1971 with "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour," a variety show for which she won a Golden Globe.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I have gotten a bunch of inquiries regarding my recent post where I showed some photos from my night in Georgetown.  I ran across a blog which has some fantastic info on the film including this piece on the "MacNeil Residence" 

The blog doesn't seem to have been updated recently though...  CHECK IT OUT!

Compare the above screenshot (appears at time code 28:49 in the "Special Edition" version of The Exorcist) of the "McNeil House" with the actual structure as it appears today (below), minus the built-on mansard roof and side wing created for the film. While the screenshot is a bit vertically compressed, the core of the house and portions of the front gate are easily recognizable in both images.

If you've seen the actual house in Georgetown, you may wonder about the film's logistics regarding characters Burke Dennings and Damien Karras being flung from an upstairs bedroom window down the "Hitchcock Steps" - in reality, the windows are are a good 20 feet away from the fence surrounding the house! In addition, an early scene in the film is set in a full-height attic, which the actual building doesn't appear to be able to accomodate above its second floor.

That's where the made-for-the-movie side wing addition comes in. By extending the house closer towards the 'Steps,' and building a full attic height mansard roof, the film's creators built a visual setting faithful to the novel. [Top image © Warner Brothers Corp., lower image on Flickr under
Creative Commons 2.5.]

MY PHOTOS:  A much creepier place at night!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Well, my first business trip via Amtrak's very cool ACELA!   

Working in Maryland was a good experience, especially since it is right on the outskirts of Washington DC.  Unfortunately since I was there for work,  there was no time during the day to do any sightseeing and an unusually mild rainy night made doing an evening tour of our nation’s capital something that wasn’t even a thought.

After my afternoon presentation and a short meeting, my boss and I decided to head into Georgetown for dinner. 

Georgetown is an awesome college town with plenty of shops, clubs and restaurants.  

Gothic architecture is abundant and adds to the charm of this old place!

We went to Clyde’s for dinner.  A bustling, casual eatery with a great filet mignon special!

While there, I asked one of the waiters about the location of the famous “Hitchcock Steps” as well as the house from the classic horror film THE EXORCIST.  

I was happy to find out that it was only a few blocks away!  After dinner, we headed off to check it out. 

It couldn’t have been a more perfectly spooky night for it.  It had rained most of the day and an eerie yet mild wind was blowing.  

Here are a few shots. 

The steps are located on M Street, adjacent to an Exxon gas station.  In walking up the steep 75 stairs, it will bring you almost directly to 3600 Prospect St.  This is the location of the MacNeil residence in the film.  It looks different than it did in 1973 as an extension was added for the film.  In addition, the house is nearly 40 feet from the stairway. 

Ah, the magic of the movies!

Monday, November 15, 2010


OK, I’ve been coming up the beautiful Ringwood Manor for a few years now, and by recently stumbling upon this awesome website, I now fear, uh, I mean hear, it may be haunted!  WHAT FUN!


This Victorian style mansion was originally built in 1740 by the Ogden family and at this time, was much smaller than it is today. After many more portions were added on, George Washington’s photographer and head of the Iron Works, Robert Erskine, bought it. It was later sold to Martin Ryerson, who tore the original building down and rebuilt the current manor house that stands in 1807. In the 1830’s, Peter Cooper bought it and passed it on to his son-in-law, Abram S. Hewitt.
There is much history behind Ringwood Manor and I’m sure a simple search would bring up a lot of information, but the best site that I know of dedicated to the history of the manor is this one.
There are quite a few ghosts that are said to manifest themselves throughout the mansion and the grounds. The first one is said to be a housemaid who was allegedly beaten to death in a bedroom on the second floor where footsteps, objects falling, and soft crying can be heard. Also, the door has been found open and the sheets on the bed rumpled. I’ve heard that it’s quite common at the manor for the caretakers to close the doors and lock them up tight only to find them wide open in the morning when no one could have possibly opened them.
Behind the Manor pond you’ll find a very old cemetery where it is rumored that hundreds of graves are, although many of the stones are missing. In one of these graves lies the remains of Robert Erskine who has been said to sit on his tomb at dusk and stare across the pond. Another claim is that if bricks are missing from his tomb, this signifies that Erskine is out wandering around. Some claim to have seen him around the grounds carrying a lantern.
In this same cemetery, it is said that the remains of French soldiers from the Revolutionary War lie in an unmarked grave near the General’s resting place and sometimes during the night voices speaking French can be heard in the distance.
Another well-known manifestation of the manor is that of a servant named Jeremiah, who was unhappy with how he was being treated.
It has also been said that Mrs. Erskine also haunts the manor.
The Ringwood Manor was given to the state of New Jersey in 1936 and has been opened as a museum. Vistors have claimed to have felt certain “presences” since it has been opened to the public. The park is open every day until dusk, so I would definitely recommend paying the manor a visit and seeing who…or what…you may meet.


This weekend, despite a lot of errands, etc… because of the spring like weather in the northeast, I managed to get in some photo time.

Saturday, I went to the heart of Paterson to The Great Falls.  Paterson used to be a beautiful city, but has fallen into much decay over the decades.  The Great Falls provides a beautiful diversion and should not be missed!  I have lived most of my life within a half hour of this amazing place and until Saturday was never there.

After breakfast at a local diner on Sunday, camera in hand as usual, took a ride up local winding Snake Den Road and ran across signs for the Weiss Ecology Center. 

Along the route, passed the infamous “purple house” which must be seen to be believed.  It looks a bit like a small airplane hangar.  Out in front, a sign reads, “Please go slowly-Little Kitty & OLD WITCH CROSSING!”  The Driveway even houses a purple (of course!) Volvo!

Down the road a bit, The Weis Ecology Center.  This is one strange place!

Most of you all know how much I love abandoned places and in the off season, a bunch of ramshackled cabins were right up my alley!  I seriously hate to see who actually rents these out, but my guess is that most were extras from the cast of DELIVERANCE!

Here are the Cabin Rules/Rates:

The availability of furniture is not guaranteed by Weis.

The cabins are not heated. They also do not contain kitchen or bathroom facilities. It is suggested that camp stoves (such as Coleman) and ice chests be used for cooking and cold storage. Ringwood and West Milford provide sufficient grocery stores, and restaurants in the area are adequate. Bathroom and shower facilities are located in the basement of the Reception Center.

The cabins may not be sublet under any circumstances.

Only one person should be responsible for paying the rent each month so that one check is submitted for payment (for bookkeeping purposes).

Cabin Fee Schedule:

Monthly Rates: April 1 through October 31 
  • $225 per month for a one room cabin. Note: Two month minimum rental.
  • $260 per month for a two room cabin. Note: Five month minimum rental.
  • $300 per month for large 2-room cabin.  Note:  Five month minimum rental.
  • $340 per month for a three-room cabin.  Note:  Five month minmum rental.

  • $50.00 per room for a 1/2 day, from 9:00am to 12:30pm or 12:30pm to 4:00pm
  • $100.00 per room for a full day, from 9:00am to 4:00pm
NOTE:  excludes use of Weis' kitchen and stove.  Groups are required to provide their own plates, napkins, silverware, garbage bags, and any other items needed by the group. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Not that long ago, my friend Sylvia told me about a DVD she rented, at the recommendation of her brother.  Hachi: A Dogs Tale. 

I had never heard of it, probably because it went straight to DVD. 
Usually when this happens, there is good reason… the film is a bomb and shouldn’t have probably been made in the first place!

Not the case with this one.  I was warned that it was a tear-jerker, but I never (well rarely) cry during a film but this one got to me. 

In addition to being a fantastic story of love and loyalty, it is well directed, photographed and acted.

Go out and rent it or better yet pick up a copy to own.


Here is a review from Christopher Lloyd at
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is unapologetically a tear-jerker. You might resent being emotionally manipulated by this film, but I challenge even the most hard-hearted moviegoer not to spill some saltwater while watching it.
“Hachi” is based on a true story that is very famous in Japan of an Akita dog that waited every day at the train station for its master — even years after the man had passed away.
There’s an iconic statue of Hachiko at the station, and a Japanese film version came out in 1987, but the story remains largely unknown in the States.
Director Lasse Hallström teams up again with Richard Gere to tell an affecting Americanized version that retains many of the Japanese notes about loyalty and love between man and canine.
Gere plays Parker Wilson, a music professor who stumbles upon the lost puppy while disembarking from a train at his quaint little town of Bedridge. Hachi was sent from a Japanese monastery, but his shipping tag was torn off. The befuddled station manager (Jason Alexander) refuses to accept the pup, saying he’d have to just take it to the pound.
So Parker takes the little guy home, despite the stern warning of his wife Cate (the always-wonderful Joan Allen) that they not keep him. They’ve apparently recently lost a dog she was close to, and as middle-aged empty nesters, Cate isn’t eager to see a four-legged interloper.
Soon enough, of course, Hachiko (the name comes from the number eight, which was written on his collar tag) becomes a full-fledged member of the family.
The primary relationships is between the dog and Parker, but Allen has a great scene with Hachi where you can see the reluctance just melt away from her face.
Hachi is a loving but willful companion — for instance, he refuses to play fetch, despite Parker’s many training attempts. He also ignores his master’s instruction not to follow him to the train station for work every day. He even shows up again promptly at 5 p.m. to wait for Parker to step off the train again.
I don’t think I’m giving anything away in saying that Parker dies about two-thirds of the way through the film — after all, it’s the dog’s behavior after his master’s death that made his story so unforgettable.
The film really amps up the pulling of heartstrings at this point, as the dog continues his increasingly grim journey to the train station every afternoon, eternally hopefully that his master — his friend — will greet him again.
Eventually, a reporter hears the remarkable dog’s tale, and the town rallies around its most famous denizen.
The breadth and depth of Hallström’s work (“Chocolat,” “My Life As a Dog,” “The Shipping News”) suggests he might represent Sweden’s finest cinematic export since the Bergmans — Ingrid and Ingmar. He and rookie screenwriter Stephen P. Lindsey manage to toe the correct side of the line between overt sentiment and mushy smarm.

“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale” is a great, big wet lick to the face, and a welcome one.


What do you get when you combine soda pop with pop art?
An eye-popping auction for $35.36 million.

Andy Warhol's "Coca-Cola (4) (Large Coca-Cola)" easily exceeded expectations at Sotheby's on Tuesday. BBC reports that the black-and-white canvas painting was expected to fetch a mere $25 million. That would buy plenty of sugar water, but no Warhol.
All together, sales of 54 contemporary and post-war paintings have pulled in $222.4 million in recent days. Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's worldwide head of contemporary art, told Reuters, "In this new market, it was a huge success." Meyer also served as auctioneer for the Warhol sale.
No word who popped for this painting, but it's sure to be a welcome addition to any collection. After all, things go better with Coke.

(from Huffington Post)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


OK, the original 1973 made for TV movie of the week, DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK with Kim Darby and Jim Hutton,  has to be one of my most favorite films of all time, so I was (and still am) skeptical about any sort of remake... Especially with Katie Holmes!

However the buzz and trailer have piqued my interest. 
It is set to open in theatres on 1.21.11.


Unfortunately, the Vegas run has ended.  I not only consider myself extremely lucky to have seen it back in 2006, but greatful to have gotten onstage during "Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting"...  I still cannot believe what a rush that was! 


He has survived the ups and downs of musical stardom for over 30 years. Commercially, creatively, on stage and on record, Elton John is a legendary artist — one who is still as relevant as ever.

Elton John's finely honed stage presence, a winning factor in targeting his tunes straight into the heart of America, is excess incarnate. In The Red Piano, the showy costumes are replaced by incredible video imagery and stage props, yet the end result is unmistakably classic Elton John.

Gregarious, show-stopping, outlandish and unforgettable. Words that could be Elton John as much as they are Vegas. Together with photographer David LaChapelle, Elton John has created The Red Piano — a career overview performance you won't soon forget.

The Red Piano takes the audience inside Elton John's world. LaChapelle creates a dreamscape dripping with rich imagery of Hollywood and Las Vegas icons — each moment created to give the viewer a new, three dimensional interpretation of Elton John and Bernie Taupin's most memorable recordings.

Don't miss your last chance to see this cultural and musical icon as he closes out his spectacular five-year run at Caesars Palace. One final engagement remains at The Colosseum in the show that USA TODAY called "the future of Las Vegas entertainment."

Please note that The Red Piano is designed with a Vegas theme and mature audiences in mind. The video imagery that accompanies the music may at times be considered risqué, and includes montage style scenes that include brief frontal nudity. The Video content is designed within the context of the songs and overall theme of the show.

Monday, November 8, 2010


My photo outing to NATIRAR in Somerset County turned out to be a bit of a bust.  A lot of this beautiful place in unreachable and off limits to the public, including the mansion. 

I did have a great time though.  Stephanie (CIEL ROUGE from FLICKR) joined Kathleen, Fred and I and it was great to finally meet her. 

Plus we ended the outing with a nice brunch at The Grain House.  YUM!