Hold on to your wallet!

vicnytn3[1]Someone asked me yesterday if the prices quoted by me for the Penn and Teller Show were “really true”, or did I purposely choose the most expensive tickets I could find, just to make my point regarding the inflated prices in the city. Of course, my answer was “NO”, but just so you don’t think I “misspoke” (the politically correct way of saying I lied), let me give you one or two additional examples.
Even though the play opened on March 24, 2011, one of the most popular plays currently on Broadway is The Book Of Mormon at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre on West 49th St. Two tickets for the Saturday night show range from $456.30 for seats in the nose bleed section known as “Rear Mezzanine” to $1,050.30 for two tickets in the “Premium” seating area. Here’s how the seating (and Cost) for two seats breaks down:
Rear Mezzanine $456.30
Mid-Mezzanine $483.30
Front Mezzanine $680.40
Mid-Mezzanine (Premium) $807.30
Orchestra (Far Sides and Rear) $483.50
Orchestra (Middle) Premium $807.30
Orchestra (Premium) $1050.30

One more example –the play “Hamilton” (Named after a founding father of our country) went into previews at the Richard Rogers Theatre, W. 46th St. on July 13 and will formally open on August 6. Nevertheless, the show is already sold out in advance, so plan on seeing it several months hence. However, Premium seating for two is quoted at $899.26, and you can expect to pay much more if you are anxious to see the play ASAP and go through a broker.

Be Prepared!

vicnytn3[1]If you decide to visit NYC this summer, you might be shocked at the inflated prices for just about everything. For example, Penn & Teller (of Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing With the Stars, and Las Vegas fame) have returned to the place where they started 25 years ago.PT_FinalWeek_300x250 They are at the Marquis Theatre, located on 46th Street between Broadway & 8th Avenue for a 6 week run (July 7 – August 16). If you have been paying attention, you will know that since 8th Avenue is West of 5th Avenue, the theatre is located on West 46th St. At any rate, here is a rough sketch of the Marquis Theatre seating, and the approximate location of Row C, Seats 1&3. I like to purchase seats on the aisle, either to the left or right of the center orchestra seating because my wife is short, and has trouble seeing the stage if a tall person sits directly in front of us. I always purchase an aisle ticket for her, and since she will be looking across the aisle to the stage, there will be no one in front blocking her line of sight. I would be remiss in not pointing out that seats in the first few rows are not considered “Premium” — on the contrary, they are regarded as somewhat undesirable. The reason why is that you are looking up at the stage, and for the most part, it is difficult, if not impossible, to see what is happening mid-stage or at the back of the stage. But I mention the seats in row C since these were the only half-decent seats available.
AdamsFarmTalk Pix
At any rate, let me get to my point – the Penn and Teller show lasts a few minutes shy of two hours. The price for the two seats was $528 ($264 each). So be prepared for a huge awakening when you decide to see a show or play – especially if you are taking the family!

A Quick Review

vicnytn3[1] It has been a while since my last post, so I thought it might be a good idea to review some of the tips for traversing mid-town Manhattan before we move on. Here are a few questions which should be easy to answer – the answers can be found at the end of this post. Just as a point of reference, you will recall that the island of Manhattan generally runs in a North –   South direction.

Question 1 – The Avenues in Manhattan (Let’s refer to Manhattan as NYC for brevity) run in what direction:
A. North – South
B. East – West

Question 2 – The streets in NYC run in what direction:
A. North – South
B. East – West

Question 3 – The Dividing line between East and West is formed by what avenue:
A. Park Avenue
B. Lexington Avenue
C. 5th Avenue

Question 4 – If you are walking on 3rd avenue and you pass 43rd street, 44th street, and then 45th street, in what direction would you be walking:
A. North
B. West
C. East
D. South

Question 5 – If you are walking on 43rd street and you pass 5th avenue and then 6th avenue, in what direction would you be walking:
A. North
B. West
C. East
D. South

Question 6 – If you are walking on 5th Avenue and just passed 43rd Street and then 44th Street, would you turn left or right when you come to 45th Street to find the address 18 West 45th Street?

A. Left
B. Right

Question 7 – If you were standing on the far side of East 45th street, the first avenue you would cross as you walked in a Westerly direction is 1st avenue, then 2nd avenue and then 3rd avenue. But remember that not all avenues are numerical – three of them in midtown have names, rather than numbers. After crossing 3rd avenue, what are the next three named avenues? — HINT: Remember the memory pegs I gave you – Let’s Park in Midtown – LPM.

Question 8 – The island of Manhattan is bounded by two rivers. If you are facing North, what is the name of the river to your left – and what is the name of the river to your right?
A. East River              A. East River
B. Harlem River        B. Harlem River
C. Hudson River       C. Hudson River



Question 1 – A.
All of the avenues in NYC run in a North – South direction.
Question 2 – B. All of the streets in NYC run in an East – West direction.
Question 3 – C. 5th avenue is the dividing line between East and West addresses.
Question 4 – A. The streets are higher as you walk North in NYC.
Question 5 – B. West. The lowest numbered avenues start on the East side and increase as you walk West.
Question 6 – A. You would turn left. Remember that 5th avenue is the dividing line between East and West – So when the numbers of the cross streets are higher as you walk along 5th avenue, you know that you are walking North.  An address that indicates West 45th street would require you to turn Left.  If you turned Right, all of the addresses would be East 45th street.
Question 7 – Starting from the far Eastern side of NYC, as you walk West you would cross 1st, 2nd and 3rd avenues – and then LPM – Lexington avenue, Park avenue and Madison avenues. Please note that the next avenue you will cross after Madison avenue is not 4th avenue or even 7th avenue, but rather 5th avenue. After you cross 5th avenue, the avenues progress in an orderly manner – 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and then 12th avenues.
Question 8 – C. The Hudson river on your left separates NYC from New Jersey – and A. –  the East river would be on your right.

Best Health Letter

vicnytn3[1]I realize that my posts tend to jump around with respect to subject matter, but I do this so that hopefully, there is something for everyone – something that they will find interesting rather than “the same old boring content.”

In this post, I would like to direct your attention to a publication known as the “Nutrition Action Health Letter”, which is published by the “Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The CSPI is a non-profit health-advocacy group, and annual subscriptions to the newsletter ($24 for 10 issues) can be arranged by contacting the CSPI, 1220 L Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20005. You can also subscribe by going to the organization’s web site www.cspi.net, which contains tons of useful information. I have subscribed for many years.

 This health letter is extremely easy to read, and each colorfully-illustrated issue is packed with informative, non-partial information — the publication accepts no government or industry funding, or advertising of any kind. The issues contain about 16 pages, and each issue has a theme. For example, one issue details “how arteries age” and what you can do to slow, or possibly stop the process. The February edition highlighted “How to keep your brain sharp” and described the classic hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease, known as plaques and tangles.

I particularly like the “food watch” section, exposing the false claims made by food marketing executives.

As an example, a well-advertised juice company advertises a “medley” drink and states that “every 8 oz. glass has 2 total fruit and veggie servings, and contains the powerful anti-oxidant vitamins C and E and the bone mineral magnesium.” The answer as to how the company manages to squeeze two servings into one 8 oz. glass is quite simple – the USDA’s pyramid food guide states that a serving of juice is just half a cup – so an 8 oz glass of ANY juice is two servings! As for the “two total fruit and veggie servings” per 8 oz. glass, it sounds like one fruit and one vegetable serving, right? – Wrong! Each glass has mostly water plus nutrient-poor apple and grape juice fortified with vitamins C, E and Magnesium. As for the veggie claim, each glass contains appx. 2 tablespoons of carrot juice – no wonder the drink “tastes just like the fruit juice your family loves” – with the exception of 2 tablespoons of carrot juice, it is!

The “Right Stuff vs. Food Porn” segment is always enlightening. For example, one Italian chain restaurant recently introduced a new appetizer to its menu – Lasagna Fritta. Unfortunately, this “appetizer” has 1,030 calories, a day’s worth of saturated fat (21 grams) and sodium (1,590 milligrams). Couple this with the complimentary breadsticks – 150 calories each (whoops, I guess I blew their cover by mentioning breadsticks) plus an entrée easily exceeding 1500 calories, and you have the ideal Christmas gift suggestion – a larger belt!

Another Interesting food porn article cites the I_ _ P website (I didn’t include the missing letters to hopefully avoid any problems with the company), which makes reference to a new item on their menu, Garden Stuffed Crepes. Their description states “Our crepes are light, delicate and rolled with savory or sweet ingredients for a meal that’s a delicious choice any time of day – or night.”  I_ _ P’s Garden Stuffed Crepes sound rather healthy – – “Two crepes stuffed with Swiss cheese, eggs scrambled with fresh spinach, mushrooms and onions topped with hollandaise & tomatoes.” How can you go wrong?

Well, for starters try 1,230 calories and 29 grams (1 ½ days’ worth) of saturated fat. The 1,730 milligrams of sodium (a day’s supply) just adds salt to the wound. The “light and delicate” garden crepes is equivalent to downing two eggs, three pork sausage links, three slices of bacon, hash browns and toast with butter and jam. Your best bet is to try I _ _ p’s “simple and fit” dishes, any of which have less than 600 calories.

I highly recommend this publication and have given gift subscriptions to my friends.


vicnytn3[1]My March 19th post indicated that I would provide information regarding Broadway, and explain why it didn’t adhere to the matrix of streets and avenues in the midtown area.

The reason why it took me so long to submit this post was because I realized that in order to properly explain the reason for Broadway’s variance, it was necessary to first provide you with a brief history of Manhattan. For several weeks, I have been wrestling with the question of just how much history was necessary to get my point across, while avoiding the possibility of overwhelming you with too much data which might prove to be somewhat boring. So here goes —

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the Algonquin and Iroquois Indians inhabited Manhattan. The Algonquin tribe is credited with naming the island Manhattan, which means “Island of the hills” (hard to imagine today, since development over the centuries has flattened Manhattan so that it now resembles a pancake). The Dutch East India Company founded the colony of New Netherland (present day New York City) in 1614. A fort was constructed at the southern tip of the island to defend the entrance to the Hudson River. The island then developed from South to North. As the island developed, travelers followed an Indian path which ran diagonally along a ridge from the south-east to the north-west.

Fast forward a couple of centuries, and a grid plan for the city was adopted in 1811, which called for 12 numbered avenues running north and south approximately parallel to the Hudson river, and about 155 cross streets running east and west. The exception to this arrangement was Broadway, the original heavily traveled path which pre-existed the grid plan. Rather than attempt to meddle with this popular thorofare, the city fathers decided to allow it to remain “as is.”

Please excuse my amateurish illustration below — I draw these things directly on the computer screen which as many of you know is more than somewhat challenging — but hopefully, you get the general idea.

Use Broadway

Although Broadway runs the entire length of Manhattan (13.4 miles) and the Bronx (4.0 miles), it is the street’s half-mile between 40th and 50th Streets that is actually regarded as “the entertainment portion” of Broadway. Times Square is not a square at all, but rather an elongated “X” formed by the intersection of 7th Avenue and Broadway.

Speaking of Times Square, it was originally known as “Longacre Square” and it was the city’s center of horse trading and harness making throughout the 19th century. When the New York Times decided to build a new headquarters in the trapezoidal plot formed by Broadway and Seventh Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, the paper’s publisher requested that the name of the area be changed accordingly. The city granted this wish, and the new building at One Times Square was christened on December 31st, 1904. As part of the festivities, a brightly lit “Time-Ball” was lowered from atop the building precisely at midnight, a tradition which continues to this day.

In the first decade of the 20th century, Times Square became the city’s entertainment district, fostered by the availability of subway service in 1904, and train service by 1913, the year Grand Central Terminal was completed. In 1916, the City encouraged the construction of large electric signs in Times Square, and the “Great White Way” was officially born.

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Familiar items discovered or invented by accident

vicnytn3[1] We hold inventors in high esteem, and rightly so — but often their discoveries are accidental twists of fate. Here are a few products I’m certain you are familiar with (I know this is not how you end a sentence but it sounds less formal than “… a few products with which I am certain you are familiar).”

One smell most everyone remembers from childhood is the aroma of Play-Doh, the brightly colored non-toxic modeling clay. It was accidentally invented in 1955 by Joseph and Noah McVicker while they were trying to make wallpaper cleaner. A year later it was marketed by Rainbow Crafts. More than 700 million pounds of Play-Doh have sold since then, but the recipe remains a closely guarded secret.

Silly Putty
It bounces – it stretches – it breaks – it’s Silly Putty! Silly Putty is a silicone-based plastic clay marketed as a children’s toy for more than 65 years. During World War II, while attempting to create a synthetic rubber substitute, James Wright dropped boric acid into silicone oil. The result was a polymerized substance that bounced, but it took several years to find a use for the product. Finally, in 1950, marketing expert Peter Hodgson saw its potential as a toy, renamed it Silly Putty, and a classic toy was born! Not only is it fun for kids, but it also has practical uses – it picks up dirt, lint and pet hair; can stabilize wobbly furniture; and is useful in stress-reduction and in medical and scientific simulations. It was even used by the crew of Apollo 8 to secure tools in zero gravity.

Post-it Notes
Despite the fact that Romy White and Michele Weinberger claimed to have invented Post-its in the movie “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” (which remains one of my favorites), the idea for the Post-it Note was conceived in 1974 by 3M employee Arthur Fry as a way of holding bookmarks in his hymnal while he was singing in the church choir. He was aware of an adhesive that was accidentally developed in 1968 by coworker Spencer Silver, but no application for the lightly sticky stuff was apparent until Fry’s idea. The 3M company was initially skeptical about the product’s potential profitability, but in 1980, the product was introduced around the world. Today, Post-it Notes are sold in more than 100 countries.

I’ll have more accidentally discovered products in later posts.

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Bizarre Headlines

vicnytn3[1]Here are some actual headlines from US newspapers which had readers chuckling or scratching their head as a result of an unfortunate choice of words –

“New study of obesity looks for larger test group”
“Red tape holds up new bridge”
“Typhoon rips through cemetery – hundreds dead”
“Kids make nutritious snacks”
“Hospitals are sued by 7 foot doctors”
“Something went wrong in jet crash, experts say”
“Police begin campaign to run down jaywalkers”
“Panda mating fails; Veterinarian takes over”
“If strike isn’t settled quickly, it may last a while”
“Sex education delayed, teachers request training”
“British union finds dwarfs in short supply”
“Drunks get nine months in violin case”
“Antique stripper to demonstrate wares at store”
“Sewage spill kills fish, but water safe to drink”
“War dims hope for peace”
“Iraqi head seeks arms”
“Local high school dropouts cut in half”

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Little-known ( and probably worthless) facts about New York City

vicnytn3[1]To avoid giving an overload of information, my previous NYC post failed to address one of the most important Avenues in Manhattan – “Broadway”. My next post will explain how this thoroughfare got its name, why it does not run exactly North and South like the other avenues, and a few other facts regarding Broadway which I believe you will find both interesting and useful while navigating your way around the City — But since I didn’t have enough time to prepare the Broadway post, let me present a “filler” of somewhat worthless information regarding New York City.

If you dug a hole from NYC to the other side of the earth, you would not wind up in China as many people believe, but rather, you would exit around 600 miles south of Perth, Australia.

The average NYC cab ride is 2.8 miles.

A licensed taxi driver, according to the NYC Civil Code, can be fined $25 for wearing shorts while “on duty.”

The flat fare for a taxi ride between J.F. Kennedy International airport and any point in Manhattan (not including bridge or tunnel tolls and a tip) is $45. The usual tip is about $10. Remember that taxi rides are cash only! This trip should take between one-half to one hour depending on traffic and final destination in the City.

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Pilot’s Variety Fiesta – Fun For All!

vicnytn3[1]Although I am always happy to do all I can to help my church, I regret the fact that my organization held our first Lenten fish fry last Friday, which prevented me from attending the PILOT DOLPHINS VARIETY SHOW FIESTA! However, my wife attended the show along with our daughters and sons-in-law, and she said the various acts were absolutely fantastic and very entertaining.
Our two granddaughters cheered on their brother who was in one of the acts, and they had a great time clapping along with the music which accompanied some of the skits. Even our teen-age Grandson (who like most teen agers is usually “bored”) had a good time watching the acts and making faces at his younger brother who was in one of them. The emcees did a wonderful job, the opening dance performed by the Pilot staff was well-done, and all of the pianists, comedians, singers, dancers, and specialty act performers were, according to my wife, “extremely talented” and ”lots of fun to watch.” Rather than attempt to single out individual acts, I believe it would be advisable to simply reproduce the program, since everyone involved did an excellent job. Congratulations to all and I hope to attend next year’s performance.
Pilot Prog 1MM
Pilot Prog 2MM

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