USA’s new series, Satisfaction, is an entertaining thought provoker

Satisfaction USA new series

Satisfaction premieres tonight on USA, and I had the chance to see the series’ pilot episode a day in advance in New York City.

When I was at the NBC Universal Upfronts in May, Satisfaction stood out to me as one of the more interesting and better previews. And after watching the first episode, I’m hooked! It’s DVR’ed so that I don’t miss a single episode this season. I want to follow this story from start to finish!

What it’s about

Satisfaction is about a married couple in America’s top 1% who “have it all.” Neil Truman is a banker. He and his wife  of 18 years, Grace, have a daughter and don’t make time to swim in their pool anymore. Truman goes a little crazy on a business trip and comes home unexpectedly to surprise his wife. But he is the one who is surprised, as he catches Grace having an affair. He slips out unseen but waits for the guys, hunts him down, and learns that he is a paid male escort. In the exchange, Truman ends up with the escort’s phone. And voila! Truman takes on the clients who dial the number, and he becomes a paid escort himself.

What it makes you think about

Satisfaction USA premiere party

The series strives to make you consider the question – Is monogamy realistic? And so did the panel at the fantastic Premiere Party. Noel Biderman, author of Cheaters Prosper, was compelling and very interesting. He believes that infidelity will save the modern marriage. I could follow his argument, and I was quite involved in the discussion. During the Q&A, I raised my hand high in the air and shared my POV… in Satisfaction, Truman and Grace are not communicating with one another. If they wanted to use infidelity to solve their problem, it would seem to me that they should both openly agree on it; otherwise, it’s a dishonest band-aid on the problem, not a solution.

Or is it? I’m not trying to rewrite the show. Sean Jablonski has that down to a science, and I can’t wait to see his brilliance unfold. It will be fun on Thursdays to tune in and watch Season One play out!

Satisfaction USA new series

The party was a blast

I quite enjoyed the open bar, passed hors d’oeuvres, and the fun GIF booth by Pop Up Photo Booth. The booth takes six pictures that animate to a GIF, and then you can share the GIF immediately in social, or print out a quad of pics to take home! @SatisfactionUSA knows how to throw a party!

Here’s a link to @JohnBasedow’s and my GIF: http://www.satisfaction-usa.com/JULY-16-CEDAR-LAKE-GALLERY/JULY-16-CEDAR-LAKE-YOUR-GIF/i-wGJXcNC/A

John Basedow and me at the Satisfaction Premiere Party

Satisfaction USA Premiere Party

Satisfaction USA Premiere Party

Satisfaction USA Premiere Party

Satisfaction USA Premiere Party

Neighbors Movie Review with #CulturePop

Shannon Truax and John Basedow review Neighbors

Universal invited John Basedow and me to attend a sneak peek of the new movie Neighbors.

Zac Efron and Seth Rogen. star in this frat house vs. suburban family slapstick comedy. I’m not so sure that a quiet neighborhood block would entice a fraternity to purchase a home, but that’s exactly what happens in Neighbors. And as you can imagine, neighborly misconduct ensues throughout the flick. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne craft plot after plot to force their rowdy neighbors to move, often while their baby is somewhere in the house. The fraternity fights back by washing other neighbors’ cars, walking dogs, and giving gift baskets to other families on the block who end up having no problem with the loud, late night parties and sex toy garage sale.

Is it obvious that I didn’t care for it?

This particular flick wasn’t for me. Now I’m not the type of person who is easily offended, and I generally find something that I like about everything. This time, not so much. That surprised me — I enjoyed Don Jon, for example. 

At any rate, watch our review of Neighbors to see our #CulturePop official review:

#CulturePop is a neighbor of Neighbors

If you’re a New Yorker, keep your eye open in the subway, and see if you can spot one of our ads. Here’s one spotted right next to Neighbors.

Culture Pop posters in the subways in NYC

Empire Diner reopens in Chelsea New York City

Empire Diner has reopened

Lucky Duck dines at Empire Diner twice in one week.

The Empire Diner in New York City is back! And I’ve indulged in its delicious menu, dim lighting, exceptional service, and lively vibe twice this week. Twice. This week.

A New York icon is back in business

The Art Moderne dining car at 210 10th Ave. in New York City has been in movies, such as Men In Black and Home Alone 2. It has a Wikipedia page. After a brief closure recently, The Empire Diner is open, back in business, under new management, and better than ever.

The service is stellar, and Chelsea is lucky to have such an awesome spot to enjoy a five star experience at a very fair price point, among a buzzing atmosphere. Seriously, how cool is this?

Empire Diner back open

What to order

Anything! I actually ordered the Brussels sprouts twice because they were so delicious. I love absolutely everything that I’ve eaten at The Empire Diner. The menu’s aesthetic is retro, but the dishes are modern and filled with flavor. Amanda Freitag, the head chef, is in-arguably one of New York City’s best chefs.

From the incredible menu, I picked (aside from the Brussels sprouts) (among a table of friends to share – don’t judge) the kale salad, the octopus Greek salad, the orzo mac & cheese, cauliflower, salt and pepper fries, French onion soup, lemon chicken, banana split, and peanut butter cream pie with pomegranate jelly.

Banana Split at Empire Diner NYC

Here is a video of the food at my table, as well as some commentary describing how excited I was to be back at my new favorite spot.

Meeting Amanda Freitag, the chef

The attention to detail, in every aspect, is top-notch. Amanda Freitag personally checks in on guests and prepares the menu. It was an honor to meet her!

Amanda, Chef at Empire Diner

Cheers to New York City’s newest gem

I hope that you’ll try Empire Diner and let me know what you ordered and what you think. I already can’t wait to go back and try the Green Plate Special, a rotating dish, left up to the element of surprise.

So make a reservation: 212-596-7523

Pier 60 cocktail at Empire Diner

Super Bowl Boulevard at Times Square in New York City

Seattle Seahawks fans admire the Vince Lombardi trophy in Times Square NYC

Lucky Duck visits the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Super Bowl Boulevard.

Super Bowl XLVIII (48) kicks off in three days, but New York City is already buzzing with Seattle Seahawks/Denver Broncos excitement. Super Bowl Boulevard has shut Broadway down, from 34th Street to 47th, and today, through February 1st, you can join in the Times Square festivities.

Walk Super Bowl Boulevard

Visit the Vince Lombardi Trophy

Create a video with Snickers

Bobsledding in Times Square

Let’s go Seahawks!

Over the course of the week, I’ve been finding cool ways to celebrate my former home team. For example, I bought cupcakes with little football rings on top.

Super Bowl cupcakes

Seahawks and football rings

When I got out of the train the other night, I took a long walk to get a great shot of The Empire State Building, lit up in Seattle Seahawks blue and green.

Empire State Building lit up to celebrate Seattle Seahawks

Visit Super Bowl Boulevard in New York City

If you can make it down to Super Bowl Boulevard, you should.

Super Bowl Boulevard signage in Times Square

Katrina and I vogued on the green carpet.

Super Bowl Boulevard Step and Repeat

Shannon Truax at Super Bowl Boulevard

New Starbucks Via Latte

Starbucks Via Latte

Lucky Duck tries new Starbucks Via in Vanilla Latte.

Starbucks revamps its Via line with adding lattes to the mix. I am a loyal Via customer, typically favoring the coffee variety. In fact, I just got a box of Via for Christmas. My family knows me so well.

I’ve purchased the Refreshers as well, and today, I bought the Via Vanilla Latte for $1.00. You can also pick mocha. Technically, I’m trying it for free, if I like it. There is a coupon on the back of my packet for $1.00 off my next purchase of Starbucks Via Latte.

Each packet contains 130 calories and does an adequate job resembling a latte in a pinch. But you can try it for yourself. And you don’t have to pony up the dollar between January 16th – 19th. Stop in to your neighborhood Starbucks and take The Starbucks Challenge to see if you can tell the difference.

 

Cinderella The Musical on Broadway in New York City

Cinderella The Musical on Broadway

Lucky Duck enjoys Rogers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, The Musical.

As I sunk into my red velvet seat at The Broadway Theater on 52nd/Broadway in New York City, I wondered how much of Cinderella The Musical would overlap with the Disney Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo classic. The woods on the stage welcomed me in, and I couldn’t wait for the orchestra pit to fill the theater with the first notes of the overture.

Cinderella The Musical on Broadway

I was at the edge of my seat the second I sat down. Here’s a quick look at some commentary walking in; I think it’s pretty clear that I was thrilled to be attending my first Broadway play as a New Yorker.

What it’s all about

You’re not going to hear, “Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo” in this musical, and you won’t meet Gus the mouse. As soon as Ella started singing, “In my own little corner,” I lit up – this show is adapted from the 1965 Leslie Ann Warren classic where Alan Quartermaine, ahem, Stuart Damon, plays the Prince! My mom and godmother watched this movie as little girls, and I had the joy of watching it on VHS as a kid myself. I still knew the words to every song!

Why you should go

Good theater gives you a reason to buy a ticket; otherwise, just stay home, watch the movie, and save a ton of money. At one point, Joe turned to me and said, “What the hell is going on?!” I nearly fell out of my velvet chair. The show takes a twist, and you can’t quite put your finger on how it’s going to play out, even though we all know the ending. The cast was exceptional (the short stepsister steals the show!). The theatrics around turning the pumpkin into the coach and the rags to the gown were incredible. I smiled the whole time. And I was so glad that I didn’t have to see a grown man dressed up as a mouse. No thanks.

Cinderella The Musical at The Broadway Theater

Where to eat

Now THAT is the next big question. I’ve blogged about Da Marino before. In fact, I even filmed a Fireside Chat, featuring my spaghetti and meatballs, as well as the Sex in the City clip when Carrie and Mr. Big ate there in one episode.

Tonight, we went back! And this time, I ordered the lasagna – YUM. My server recognized me and welcomed me back; with the high turnover at this place, I was so flattered.

Da Marino NYC

Lasagna at Da Marino NYC

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A reveal and a meal: Range Rover Autobiography Black reveal and Baco Mercat

Land Rover reveals Range Rover Autobiography Black

Lucky Duck views the Range Rover Autobiography Black unveiling in Beverly Hills.

The news is out – Land Rover revealed a vehicle that defines the pinnacle of luxury: The Range Rover Autobiography Black. The first look at this very fine machine happened last week at a private viewing in Beverly Hills. CNBC’s Phil LeBeau covered the story in person, and the Land Rover USA Twitter and Instagram accounts got fans in behind the scenes — including behind the wheel with a Bond Girl and Jon Lovitz.

Follow Land Rover USA on Twitter

It was personally exciting for me to be able to participate in the extraordinary reveal. As the headlights popped on from over the hill and Led Zeppelin blared from the speakers, I knew that this was going to be special. The Range Rover Autobiography Black made its way down to the party, in perfect step with the music, and the crowd was in awe. Goran Visnjic, our favorite ER Dr., and I were in awe.

Shannon Truax and Goran Visnjic

Chef Josef Centeno creates a delicious tasting menu

While we enjoyed the vehicle’s entrance, Chef dazzled everyone with his exceptional menu.

Chef Josef Centeno, Mike Hoagland, and Shannon Truax

Executive Chef of LA’s Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, and Orsa & Winston is arguably one of the best chefs in the entire country, and it was such an honor to meet Josef and his manager Mike.

As was dining at Baco Mercat

Before flying home, Mike helped me to get a reservation at the famous and delicious Baco Mercat.

Baco Mercat in LA

I ordered a chocolate root beer soda, made from Chef’s special recipe and package up in a nifty bottle. It was yummy, but I have to admit that the wine Mike picked out for me was unreal.

Baco Mercat in LA homemade soda

As I perused the menu, my server was incredibly helpful and charming, wearing an apron that I could tell inspired one of the gifts in the Land Rover gift bag. I would have gotten a sandwich (baco), but because it was dinnertime, I went with some of my favorite dishes: Beet salad, Brussels sprouts,  and the mussels. All three were absolutely incredible, and I have actually had dreams about this menu since leaving LA a week ago. Mike told me that the flavor pop in the mussels was cheese – didn’t see that coming!

Beet salad at Baco Mercat in LA Bussels Sprouts at Baco Mercat in LA Mussels at Baco Mercat in LA

My new bucket list

I actually made a personal goal to get back to LA asap and try Bar Ama and Orsa & Winston, too. I have to admit that the open kitchen at Chef’s newest restaurant Orsa & Winston is awesome. As I walked by, I actually saw Chef Josef cooking in the open kitchen! THAT was awesome.

Orsa & Winston in LA

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Baco Mercat on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bacomercat