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Chatham Author, Lisa Tognola, to Appear at Short Stories Bookshop in Madison, NJ

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Lisa Tognola — As Long As It’s Perfect Novel.

On Thursday, January 16, at 7:30 p.m., Chatham, New Jersey, author Lisa Tognola will onhand at Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub in Madison for an intimate reading, Q&A, and signing of her book, As Long As It’s Perfect — a novel about a couple who try to build their dream house and find it comes with a ton of conflict as well as humor. 

A Los Angeles transplant, Tognola is a  is a freelance writer, social worker, and a former humor columnist at The Alternative Press. 

Please visit Short Stories at http://www.shortstoriesnj.com/ for more information on upcoming events and book signings and Tognola’s blog at https://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/.

Don’t forget to support your local, independent book store. 

— Jerry Del Priore 

 

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Mob Mentality Two-Episode TV Pilot Premiers to Trilled Audience at SVA Theater

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Jack Spiegs, Mike Taverna, Colin Van Wye Star in Mob Mentality Series.

Writer-director Isis Djata will be the first to tell that she is one of the last people you expect to make a mobster TV show, being an Afro-American woman and law school graduate with zero film-making experience. 

But after approximately two years, Djata, who also created and acted in the combined two-episode pilot, defied the odds stacked against her and brought Mob Mentality to life, as it premiered on Wednesday before a packed audience at the SVA Theather in Chelsea, Manhattan.  

“For me, I didn’t get a lot of respect doing this,” the Bronx native — who wore many hats during the production of Mob Mentality — told the crowd at the TV show’s unveiling. “A lot of people took me as a joke, and I didn’t mind. I just kept my head down and kept working. I didn’t have time to pay attention to naysayers.” 

The highly-anticipated combined two-pilot episode follows Carmine “Car” Ponte Jr., played by actor Jack Spiegs. Ponte Jr. is the son of a reputed mob boss released from federal prison after eight years. While behind bars, Ponte Jr. earns his psychology degree.

Low on cash, however, he lands a job as a psychologist at a school for troubled teens. Seeing that he cannot survive on his measly do-gooder’s salary, Ponte Jr. decides to return to his old mob lifestyle, yanking him back into a world of drugs, booze, and unbridled Sodom and Gomorrah mayhem.

Ponte Jr. blends his unconventional adolescent helping ways during the day with his violent, neck-breaking tendencies at night, making him a walking enigma. 

Seemingly made for the role of the long-haired Ponte Jr., Spiegs lends his gripping portrayal of the ruthless hooligan to his Yonkers, New York, roots and solid acting chops.

“Somethings I drew from my real-life experience, and everything else was method acting, fellows,” Speigs quipped to the audience. 

An accomplished professional wrestler whose gimmick is a take on the Man of Steel, Mike Taverna said his Anthony Sorrentino tough-guy character, which is opposite of his baby face in-ring persona as Mike Verna, will take his acting career to new heights. 

“This (Mob Mentality) allows me to kind of go away from what I do in the ring, which is pretend to be Superman,” the Mob Mentality co-star Taverna explained. “And take on roles that are a little more challenging, and take my career as an actor to the next level.” 

Taverna went on to say that Djata turned down two network offers because they wanted to recast the TV show and take it into an entirely new direction. But she rejected them both and stayed loyal to her cast and vision, much to the actors’ delight. 

“We started doing this about two years ago,” he said. “It started with a sizzle reel, and it evolved over the time that we’ve been doing it. And during that process, Isis actually received two offers from network television, to pick up the show. And those two networks wanted to recast everybody, change her direction, and basically make the show their own. So she said, ‘Go Fuck Yourself.'” 

The Mob Mentality combined two-episode pilot features many laughs, cringe-worthy scenes, and twists and turns that will leave you begging for more. 

Djata said she is in the process of pitching Mob Mentality to several networks.

Meanwhile, for more information on Mob Mentality, visit:  www.MobMentality.tv; http://www.instagram.com/mobmentalitytheseries;  www.Facebook.com/mobmentalitytheseries

Please watch the preview clip here: https://vimeo.com/372141899

— Jerry Del Priore 

 

 

 

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Madison’s Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub is More than Your Average Bookstore

By Jerry Del Priore

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Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub Displays Latest Book for Sale.

Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub, which owner Barbara Short and her daughters opened in 2014 in downtown Madison, New Jersey, is a lot more than just a local, independent bookstore. 

Sure, it sells all types of booksbut it’s also a spot for people who may be in the area for all kinds of reasons — from waiting for their children to finish one of the many classes and activities Madison has to offer or taking a stroll after a delicious meal at one of area’s many eating establishments — to stop in and enjoy perusing the store’s amazing books (what else?) and unique gift items.

There is plenty of seating where they can also sip on a hot or cold drink from the Bookstore Cafe located right in the store while reading.

Madison has a thriving downtown community where, “There’s a lot of pass-through traffic, and when I talk to them, I hope to get them in as regular customers,” general manager Merril Speck said. 

Short Stories also has an upper room that functions as a community space for people to gather for various reasons. There is currently a group that meets there on Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., to play Mahjong, a tile-based game that was developed in China during the Qing dynasty and has spread throughout the world since the early 20th century. This group is open to any seasoned players as well as those interested in learning. Just drop in and join in on the fun.

Short Stories offers many other free events and activities in the upper room. Every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., Short Stories holds Storytime for pre-k children. There are also poetry readings, held by Arts by the People, every first Wednesday of the month.

Additionally, the bookstore hosts author events and occasionally has local musical acts. This Thursday, October 24th, from 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Running Late, an eclectic neo-nineties alternative rock/pop band out of Madison, will be performing at the bookstore.

The following night, there will be a live recording of the Perennials Podcast. Host Victoria Russell will be discussing the psychology of Harry Potter with Drew University Professor of Psychology Dr. Jill Cermele. This event will run approximately two hours and is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. Suggested for teens and older.

Past book signings include Katie Arnold, a former Madison resident who wrote the book Running Home: A Memoir, the story of a woman who used the power of ultra long-distance running to heal and change her life.

Plus, upcoming signings will feature award-winning Chatham author Jennifer Voigt Kaplan, who will be signing copies of Crushing the Red Flowers on Saturday, November 23rd (call 973-845-6086 for time). Kaplan’s book is scheduled for release on Tuesday, November 19, and copies will be available for purchase at the store for the signing.

You can also buy quirky greeting cards from Laughing Elephant and Shannon Martin,  journals, socks, candles, various cool chachkies, and soak in the charming atmosphere while viewing the eye-popping, rotating art, which is up for sale.

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You can purchase socks, bags, bookmarks, and other great items at Short Stories Bookstore and Community Hub in Madison, New Jersey.

So, as you can see, it is more than your average bookstore — something Short set out to accomplish when she first launched the store five years ago, according to Speck. 

“It’s built into the name now; it’s Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub,” Speck said. “It’s a mouth full. That’s a big brand to have to put together. But that was important to Barabara when she created the store, that it’s not just a place where you buy something.

“An independent bookstore is meant to be a place to come and hang out, have a coffee, talk to a neighbor you meet here,” the Indiana native continued, “and if you want to look at a book, not buy it, or buy it, that’s great, too.”

More importantly, though, he said, “It’s a place to facilitate conversation,”  

But if you’re in the market for the latest page-turner or a timeless classic, Short Stories has them as well, including the presently-popular The Handmaid’s Tale, Ann Patchett’s Dutch House, Where the Crawdads Sing, and all seven Harry Potter books. 

If you’re in Madison or nearby, make your way over to Short Stories Bookshop & Community Hub, where they’re helping to change the world (or at least New Jersey), one page at a time. 

For more information on bookstore events, log onto http://www.shortstoriesnj.com.

 

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FolkLore Artisanal Taco Makes Tacos Great Again in Chatham, NJ

By Jerry Del Priore

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FolkLore Artisanal Taco

Move over Taco Bell and Chipotle, there’s a new legendary Mexican eatery in Chatham, New Jersey called FolkLore Artisanal Taco, which just opened its doors on Thursday to a plethora of hungry patronages, according to the owner. 

With a vast menu of delicious offerings, you can enjoy anything from tacos and quesadillas to burritos and nachos. But it’s FokeLore Artisanal Taco’s devotion to quality ingredients, with an added heaping helping of love, that separates it from the mundane Mexican establishments that crowd the New Jersey food landscape. 

My girlfriend Maggie and I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of FokeLore Artisanal Tacos, which also has an outpost in West Orange. 

FolkLore 3Surrounded in a simple yet traditional Mexican decorated atmosphere, Maggie ordered the Tacos Cochinita Pibil — Mayan-style pulled pork, slow-cooked with citrus axitote (a spice made from the red seed of the annatto tree) and Mexican herbs. I had a small bite and it was pretty good. 

But I summoned up a decent sized Burrito Bowl ( sans burrito) with chicken, rice, black beans, cheese, guacamole, pico de gallo and a side of sour cream thrown into the mouth-watering mix. FolkLore 4

Each level of the bowl you order comes with a choice of meat. For instance, I had two other types of meat from which to pick; either Pollo Asado or Carne Molida.

For a dollar more ($12.50), you get to select from six basic meat or chicken options. For another dollar ($13.50), you get five other choices, and for $14.50, you have four upper echelon meat or fish selections. 

All in all, I went with the healthiest option, in my opinion, while leaving full and satiated. 

We didn’t order dessert, but they do serve churros with either Nutella or Dulce de Leche and Flan — a sweet dessert that is prepared with whole eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla, though there are different variations made throughout Latin and South American cultures. 

For more information, log onto www.folkloretaco.com (641 Shunpike Rd., Chatham, NJ.) 

 

 

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All-Star Band Rocks The Beatles’ 50th Anniversary of the White Album: It Was Fifty Years Ago Today, in Morristown, NJ

By Jerry Del Priore 

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Todd Rundgren.

Sunday night, my girlfriend Maggie and I had the opportunity to see the super rock group comprised of Christopher CrossTodd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz (The Monkees), Jason Scheff (Chicago) and Joey Molland (Badfinger), plus Musical Director: Joey Curatolo (the musical director of RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles) at Morristown Performance Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, New Jersey. 

The rock n roll giants joined forces to celebrate The Beatles 50th Anniversary of the White Album: It Was Fifty Years Ago Today – Tour 2019 – A Tribute To The Beatles’ White Album — presented by Flower Power Concerts, Inc. 

Much to our delight, the All-Star band did not disappoint. The group opened up with a cool, rocking rendition of Back in the U.S.S.R, with Rundgren and Dolenz sharing lead vocals. 

From there, they went into Dear Prudence. The band also sang other classic Beatles tunes such as BlackBird, Birthday, Helter Skelter, Revolution, Honey Pie, and Bungalow Bill, among other memorable Fab Four tunes. 

Additionally, each member belted out some of their own songs. Dolenz performed The Monkeys’ I’m a Believer (written by Brooklynite Neil Diamond) and Plesant Valley Sunday; Rundgren sang Hello It’s Me Again and I Saw the Light; Cross cruised through Sailing and Ride Like the Wind; Scheff sang Chicago hit Hard to Say I’m Sorry; Molland: Baby Blue and No Matter What.   

Wow. Those tracks brought me back to a simpler time when music and songwriting really mattered. But I digress.

All in all, it was an amazing show, one that brought out a range of demographics, which all went home as happy as we did, I’m sure. 

Watch the Video Below of Christopher Cross Singing Blackbird

 

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Rock Super Group to Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Beatles’ White Album Sunday at MPAC in Morristown, NJ

By Jerry Del Priore 

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It Was Fifty Years Ago Today Tour 2019: A Tribute To The Beatles White Album.

I have seen the Beatles’ music covered before in the past, but on Sunday, October 13th, at Morristown Performance Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, New Jersey, my girlfriend Maggie Grady and I will see their music covered by a few of music’s true giants of rock. 

In celebration of The Beatles 50th Anniversary of the White Album, Flower Power Concerts, Inc, presents It Was Fifty Years Ago Today – Tour 2019 – A Tribute To The Beatles’ White Album.

Not an easy undertaking, at all, but if you were going to pay homage to an iconic album, these are the musician who can pull it off: Christopher CrossTodd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz (The Monkees), Jason Scheff (Chicago) and Joey Molland (Badfinger), plus Musical Director: Joey Curatolo (the musical director of RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles).

If playing tunes from The Beatles’ White Album wasn’t enough, the supergroup will be performing their greatest hits as well.  

Cross captured five Grammy Awards for his eponymous debut album released in 1979. The singles Sailing (1980), and Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) from the 1981 film Arthur) peaked at number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Sailing earned three Grammys in 1981, while Arthur’s Theme won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1981 (with co-composers Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, and Peter Allen).

Rundgren, born and raised in Philadelphia, produced great hit songs such as I Saw The Light, Hello It’s Me, Can We Still Be Friends, and my personal favorite, Bang The Drum

Dolenz is best known as a vocalist and drummer of the 1960s pop legend band The Monkees. The Monkees not only achieved great success as a TV show but were also accomplished recording artists, selling more than 65 million albums, helping them achieve worldwide success.

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Outside Mayo Performance Arts Center in Morristown, New Jersey.

The Monkees spawned three number-one singles: Last Train to ClarksvilleI’m a Believer (both with lead vocals by Micky), and Daydream Believer. The group’s first five albums also went platinum.

Scheff is the longtime tenor lead vocalist of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted supergroup Chicago. Scheff joined the group in 1985, replacing the iconic vocalist/bass player Peter Cetera.

Molland is an English composer and rock guitarist whose recording career crosses five decades. He is best known as guitarist, singer, and songwriter of rock fabled band Badfinger. Molland is the last surviving member from the group’s classic line-up and is still playing concerts worldwide. He is currently recording a new solo album produced by Mark Hudson.

Ticket prices start at $44 and go up to $99, and there are special packages for meet and greets and VIP tickets. 

Log onto Mayoarts.org for more information. 

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Alyssa Milano to Sign Hope Project Middle School in Brooklyn in October

By Jerry Del Priore 

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Alyssa Milano’s Hope Project Middle School.

Alyssa Milano is coming home to Brooklyn to sign copies of her book, Hope Project Middle School, on Wednesday, October 16th at 4:00 p.m. The BookMark Shoppe is located at 8415 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. 

Hope is eleven years old, and she wants to be an astrophysicist. She loves swimming, Galaxy Girl comic books, her best friend Sam, and her two rescue dogs. 

Hope encounters all the trials and tribulations of being a preteen girl while finding her place in this crazy, mixed-up world. 

Born in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Milano first gained fame at age 11 on the hit TV show “Who’s the Boss?” with Tony Danza.

The pretty Italian-American has starred in movies such as 1985’s Commando with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Embrace of a Vampire. But who can forget her role as Phoebe Halliwell in the TV drama Charmed, which aired from 1998 to 2006? 

Nowadays, Milano spends her time as an activist while acting and writing books. She has also authored Safe at Home, as she is known to be a huge baseball fan. 

Debbie Rigaud coauthored Hope Project Middle School while Eric S. Keyes illustrated it. 

Milano will only sign books purchased at The BookMark Shoppe. Ticket includes one copy of Hope Project Middle School.

To preorder Hope Project Middle School, click on the link to the left. 

Please check out my other blog @BrooklynSportsWorld.com