The Dinosaurs Among Us

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy the Museum of Natural History’s incredible collection of creatures great and small. And you must have seen enough dinosaur movies to resonate with those phantasmagorical creatures that roamed the earth before …Read More

Dealing with Iran

A session dealing with the U.S. relationship with Iran; featuring James Hoge, David Sanger, and former Ambassador William Luers, this expert panel is moderated by Michael Kramer. Presented at KentPresents 2015 by James Hoge – Senior Advisor at Teneo Intelligence …Read More

9/11 Museum

By this time, almost everyone has visited the 9/11 Museum for the sake of history, for the memory of that fateful day and for nostalgia about someone dear who was lost that day, or escaped under harrowing circumstances. But the …Read More


“1914,” by Jean Echenoz (translated by Linda Coverdale). A cousin of mine, very au courant on literary matters, gave me this book for Christmas. I had not heard of it, or its author Jean Echenoz, very well known in his …Read More

Holiday Train Show

There are lots of model RR trains and a quarter-mile of track at the NY Botanical Garden’s celebrated show. But the real star is the ever-changing layout of 150 replicas of noted NY buildings and structures like the Empire State …Read More

Christmas Greeting for the VDP

  Good friends rejoice. The Season’s here For Christmas, lest it disappear Before the atheists swoop down To halt this day on which they frown. Let’s toast the VDP with cheer For wisdom gained throughout the year. Composing, as the …Read More

Dick Hyman and Bucky Pizzarelli in South Orange

Jonathan Schwartz would call them “senior citizens of jazz.” They perform with a total economy of motion — allowable since Bucky is 88 years young. But they provide a total generosity and freshness of sound. Seton Hall University brought these …Read More

The Rise and Fall of Great Powers

Tom Rachman is the author of “The Imperfectionists,” which is a wonderful book about a news team in Rome trying to keep their international newspaper afloat. “The Imperfectionists” is tight and focused. His latest book, “The Rise and Fall of …Read More

Ai Weiwei Exhibition in Berlin

There is an art superstar in this confusing, celebrity-ridden art world that is very much in the news. I’m sure you have heard his name quite often. I am talking about the infamous Ai Weiwei. Museums throughout the world vie …Read More

Watch Repair & Co.

Everything Watch Repair & Co. says about themselves on Google is true. I brought a Bulgari watch in a week ago. They called with an estimate the next day. The price made sense so I approved the work. They called …Read More

Kalustyan International Food Market

  Recently I decided to learn how to cook Moroccan tangines and Thai food, and set out to learn about the food-ways of regions I have not traveled to. A dear friend, who also happens to be a superb cook, …Read More

FROM THE HOST December 27, 2013

Now that December’s here, grown-up movies are back. Ten reviews this week, including four of “American Hustle” alone. Ranging from pans to raves (mine), “American Hustle” demonstrates vividly that while the members of the Virtual Dinner Party are connected by …Read More

August: Osage County

Dysfunctional-family-movies are ordinarily not at the top of my must-see list. But this film, that opens today, is right up there at the top. Adapted from his Pulitzer-Prize-winning play of 2008, Tracy Letts has written the screenplay of a film …Read More

FROM THE HOST Dec. 20, 2013

[I posted the message below some months ago, but because a number of new diners have joined the party since then, I’m re-posting it here.] From time to time I receive queries from Virtual Dinner Party attendees along the lines …Read More

FROM THE HOST December 13, 2013

Most of you send in a single review when you make a submission to the Virtual Dinner Party. Occasionally, I receive a pair of reviews. But in this issue of the VDP, all records have been shattered. Nicole Charbonnet has …Read More

FROM THE HOST Dec. 6, 2013

It is now no longer necessary to have a username or password to access the website, www.theVDP.com. Password access was originally instituted in order to restrict readership to a small circle of friends. However, it seems to have caused more …Read More

The Dance of the Sun and the Moon, or Why Did We Light the Menurkey?

Every school child in the US knows (or should know) that the Pilgrims and the Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621 after a good harvest. The exact date of the first Thanksgiving is not documented. In the early days …Read More

FROM THE HOST November 15, 2013

Some observations about the 22 new posts: For diversity of viewpoints, check out the new “Rigoletto” review vs. the four previous ones. For unabashed love letters, try the “Double Rarity” post about “Goldfinch,” “Waiting for Godot,” and “Ghosts” For an …Read More

FROM THE HOST November 1, 2013

Dear Attendees of the Virtual Dinner Party, Remember the days when professional reviewers were both acid-tongued and great practitioners of the language? Recently Steve Paget reminded me of some of the wonderfully acidulous — and terse — reviews from the …Read More

FROM THE HOST October 18, 2013

May I call to your attention: A rapturous review by Greg Reiner of the Donmar Warehouse production of “Julius Caesar” at St. Ann’s Warehouse. “The play left me breathless.” Carter Foster’s ecstatic paean to Philip Glass’s “Einstein on the Beach,” …Read More

FROM THE HOST October 11, 2013

Welcome to this week’s Virtual Dinner Party. Another week, another 21 new reviews and commentaries. My message to you today — besides urging you to email me your opinions for next week’s VDP — is to take advantage of the …Read More

Bronislaw Huberman

This is a beautiful and moving documentary. A story involving the child prodigy Bronislaw Huberman, the Polish city where he was born, the many musicians he rescued before WWII, the orchestra he formed in Israel, his Stradivarius, which was stolen …Read More

FROM THE HOST October 4, 2013

Three must-see films (with one exception) and two must-see plays in this week’s VDP. Clearly, the summer drought is over; movies and theater are back. And talk about enthusiastic reviews! Here are a few blurbs that would be a producer’s …Read More

FROM THE HOST September 27, 2013

From time to time I receive  queries from Virtual Dinner Party attendees along the lines of:  “I haven’t yet sent in my first review, but would like to. How do I post it?” Or, “I’m not a great writer . …Read More

FROM THE HOST September 13, 2013

Going out to eat tonight? Looking for a new restaurant idea? Try this: In the Categories bar on the Home page, click on “Restaurants.” You’ll see all the restaurants reviewed to date in the VDP, from the most recent to …Read More

FROM THE HOST September 8, 2013

From time to time I receive the following query from Virtual Dinner Party attendees: “I haven’t yet sent in my first review, but would like to. How do I post it?” The answer is simple. Just put it in an …Read More

FROM THE HOST August 23, 2013

Today marks a first for the Virtual Dinner Party, and perhaps extends the meaning of the phrase “cultural review.” In the opening post today, Phil Neches reviews his new Tesla Model S, an all-electric sedan that has dazzled automotive reviewers …Read More

Tesla Model S

When you have your inevitable mid-life crisis, it is much cheaper, safer, and more fun, to buy a special car than to endanger your relationship with that special person. Often, that means a roadster: a 2-seat Mercedes, ‘Vette, or the …Read More

FROM THE HOST August 9, 2013

Even a casual reading of the typical Virtual Dinner Party reveals that there are far more favorable reviews than unfavorable, more kudos than pans. This seems only natural. We undoubtedly self-select those activities that we suspect in advance we’ll like. …Read More

Letter from Sun Valley

I am just a Midwestern hoosier forbidden to use superlatives, but the series of concerts at the Summer Sun Valley Symphony concerts are truly excellent. Some dozen concerts in July and August in the grand $35 million Carrera marble Sun …Read More


As we move well into the summer, the Virtual Dinner Party reflects the changing cultural tastes of the diners. In the cooler months, movies and theater tend to dominate the reviews. But in  this mid-summer issue, travel and books lead …Read More


Welcome to this week’s Virtual Dinner Party. The 18 offerings are unusually diverse — in addition to the regular movie, theater, book and travel fare, you’ll find poetry, photography, video sites and websites. I highly recommend giving them a try; …Read More


A few notes on this issue: Howard Morgan describes the Post Ranch Inn as “paradise,” normally a rather extravagant term. But after looking at the accompanying photos, the hyperbole may be… deserved. During the summer film doldrums, few of us …Read More


Welcome to the Virtual Dinner Party. Another week, another 19 new reviews and commentaries. My message to you today — besides urging you to email me your reviews for next week’s VDP — is to take advantage of the Comments …Read More


The Virtual Dinner Party has changed from an email service to a website (theVDP.com). This change should enhance your enjoyment of the VDP. HOW IT WORKS You’ll continue to post reviews the same way as you have before — you’ll …Read More