Posted in Brain Bits, Movie Reviews, Observations, Television

Post-Storm Brain Bits

What’s left of the Keansburg Carousel

It’s been quite a week for those of us in New Jersey, especially people like myself who live anywhere near a body of water. As of today, seven days after the effects of Hurricane Sandy could be felt at the Jersey Shore, thousands are still without electricity, many are left homeless, gas is being rationed and transportation (therefore the ability to work), will be hampered for weeks to come.

I’m a native New Jerseyan, and with the exception of time spent out-of-state at college and law school, I’ve lived here all my life. I have no doubt the Jersey Shore towns will rebuild. Tourism is one of our biggest industries, but more than that, for people who grew up here the Shore is in our DNA. When you were a kid, your parents took you to Asbury Park or Seaside to go on the rides. When you were a teenager, you headed to the beach after the prom. If you fish or sail, that is the place to be. And if you just want to escape the summer heat for a swim, a walk on the boardwalk or a lobster dinner, you always go, as we locals say, “down the Shore.” You don’t give that up easily.


Despite all the havoc wrought by Sandy, it’s comforting to know that some things just don’t change. Although I was without electricity for four days, I did have a portable radio which enabled me to hear the audio from our local ABC-TV station. At some point I realized this was actually being carried on ESPN radio; as a public service they were streaming news coverage for 48 hours. Nevertheless, ESPN definitely stayed on the beat. In the midst of reams of stories of flooding in the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the loss of every boardwalk from Long Branch to Cape May, the crippling of the entire New York metropolitan area, it was somehow comforting to hear an ESPN reporter scream on the air: “JETS!!! You STINK!!!!!” Proof positive that life does indeed go on.


Absorbing something as big as the destruction left by Hurricane Sandy tends to leave the brain in a muddle. I have a slew of random thoughts circling around in my head, so in no particular order:

–Maybe the rush to e-books isn’t such a hot idea. I was about 100 pages into Stephen King’s “11/22/63” on my Kindle app when the power went out. With the ability to recharge my Droid Razr limited to plugging into the car battery, continuing on was dicey. So there’s something to be said for good old-fashioned bound paper, even if you can really tone your upper arms by schlepping King’s novels around.

–Hot showers are lovely, but nothing refreshes like clean hair.

–A gas-powered burner is worth its weight in gold. God bless my neighbor for having one, because nothing warms you up like hot tea or soup.

–I had no idea I cook so many meals with garlic. After I emptied the now-defrosted food containers into the garbage can, my entire house smelled like a pizzeria.

–Two cats on the bed is better than a space heater. And purring is the best tranquilizer ever invented.


Making up for lost TV time after the power returned, I saw two extraordinary performances in one day. It had been a long time since I had seen “Judgment at Nuremberg,” but I was absolutely riveted by Judy Garland. In the midst of so much “acting”—with a capital “A”—by everyone else (especially Maximilian Schell), her portrayal of a victim of the Nazi Nuremberg Laws was one for the ages. And later that night, at long last, I finally saw “The Help.” All I can say is Viola Davis was robbed.

Oh, Gillian!

Before the lights went out, I was impressed by both the good and the bad of “Sunday Best,” the latest episode of “Boardwalk Empire.” The cross-cutting between Easter dinners chez Eli and Julia was illuminating: the differences in the Nucky/Margaret and Eli/June marriages, the growing relationship between Richard and Julia, the rapprochement (however tentative) between Nucky and Eli. The gulf between Nucky and Margaret, despite their charm for each other, was beautifully drawn. On the other hand, there was more than a bit of shark-jumping in what went on at Gillian’s ( I know she needs a dead Jimmy lookalike, but how is she going to get this corpse past Richard?) And Joe Masseria has become a knock-off of Fanucci in “The Godfather, Part II”—all he needs is the white fedora. His scenes are eating up the landscape, and Gyp Rossetti has likewise become a cartoon. It’s amazing that so much nuance and so much hot air could coexist in the same episode.

And then there’s “Homeland,” which continues to amaze week after week. By my count, Claire Danes has already copped enough Emmys to keep her in statuary for the next five years. Definitely television at its best.