Melissa Rauch

EDGE Interview

Courtesy of NBC Universal

Revivals are money in the bank on Broadway. Not so much with television sitcoms. The skill and teamwork required to reinvent a beloved show like Night Court without losing its original mojo places incredible pressure on its producers and its stars. No one is betting against Melissa Rauch, who happens to be wearing a share of both hats on what has quickly become the top-rated new network comedy. She and Night Court original John Larroquette know a thing or two about what it takes to put a fine edge on an ensemble cast.

Melissa played sunny but tough-as-nails Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory, blending the voices of her parents growing up in Marlboro to create one of the most unusual and beloved TV characters of her generation. Now she plays Judge Abby Stone, daughter of Harry Stone, meting out justice to an endless stream of oddballs and miscreants, including Larroquette’s older (but not necessarily wiser) Dan Fielding. You can take a girl out of Jersey, but can Gerry Strauss to find out. you ever take Jersey out of a girl? It didn’t take long for Gerry Strauss to find out.

EDGE: If you magically had a free day back in New Jersey to do anything you wanted, what would you do?

MR: My gosh. Oh, this is so exciting. I love this question so much. Okay, let’s see…maybe start off for brunch at the Molly Pitcher Inn. That’s a very special occasion place. I’ve only been there once in my life. I think it was for Mother’s Day brunch years ago. Then I’d take a walk through Red Bank, which is one of my favorite things to do. Next, oh gosh, I’m trying to decide between Point Pleasant and Seaside, but I think I’m going to do both. I’m going to go to Point Pleasant first with the kids and walk along the boardwalk and do some rides. Then when we’ve gotten our fill of Point Pleasant, we’re going to go right to Seaside and do the same thing. Then I’m going to go crazy and head over to the Asbury Park Boardwalk. I’m just going to do a boardwalk day and get some lunch there, then hit up Moonstruck for dinner. Oh, wait, I didn’t go to the mall [laughs]. I gotta get to the mall before it closes. I’m going to go into my Freehold Raceway Mall and do some shopping there, take the kids on the carousel and then I’ll go to Moonstruck for dinner. Then I’m going to go back to a boardwalk and get some custard.

EDGE: I love that you took your kids to two different boardwalks and amusement parks and you still needed to fit in that carousel in the mall.

MR: It’s iconic! Oh wait! I gotta go to the Turtleback Zoo. We fed a giraffe there once, which was so exciting and it’s still talked about in this house. My whole family would be with me the whole day because that would just make it a dream.

EDGE: Growing up in Marlboro, what was your relationship with television comedy?

MR: It ran deep [laughs]. I loved nothing more than sitting with my family on the couch and watching a sitcom, and there was just so much comfort in that. I remember watching Night Court with my family and very vividly either my mother or father saying, “Cover her ears!” [laughs]. Of course, that made me even more interested in it. I remember laughing so much—even if things were going over my head—and then having these beautiful moments of heart that I really connected to. Even if I didn’t understand exactly what was going on, I knew that at that moment something important was happening. Mm-hmm. There was always laughing again very soon after, and I loved the fact that something in this little box in my living room could make me feel so much. Sitcoms were almost like my friends growing up, and I very much looked forward to getting my homework done so that I could hang out with my friends. It was just such a formative part of my childhood years, and even before I really knew that that was a job, I knew that it was something very exciting and interesting to me.

EDGE: It almost seems like destiny that you’d end up playing the role of Bernadette on one of TV’s most successful sitcoms of all time, The Big Bang Theory. Looking back at that show coming to a close, were you ready to move on, or was it a challenging transition?

MR: I loved how Big Bang ended and I thought the writers did a really beautiful job in having that come to an end in a really satisfying way. So I felt really good about moving on. It will always remain such an important part of my heart and my life, and I’m still eternally grateful for everything that it was. As far as figuring out what that next move was? I wasn’t sure in which direction I would go. I honestly didn’t think that it would be another sitcom. As much as I love them, I knew that I wanted to come back to it at some point— but I didn’t know that was the move that I was going to make. I’m so glad that it was Night Court ultimately, because I’m having so much fun doing it. It’s been such an incredible experience. But I didn’t really have a master plan by any means. It just fell into place and felt right at the time.

EDGE: When you are out and about in public, are there certain Big Bang episodes or lines that people repeatedly bring up to you?

MR: People do often ask for me to do the voice, or they’ll hear me talking [in my normal voice] and then say, “Oh, we thought you were someone else.” Then they move on [laughs]. Sometimes they’ll shout at my husband, “You’re not Howard!” I really love when people come up and talk about the Bernadette “entrance into motherhood” storyline. It was something that I was very proud of when we were doing it, and I love that the writers ventured into that territory. It was a very real depiction of early parenthood and also the phase during pregnancy where you have all these feelings that come up. I love that we tapped into it. Sometimes people come up and talk about that.

EDGE: How and why did Night Court become your next big project?

CBS Photo Archive

MR: You know, I originally was just going to be producing it, and that was very much my plan from the beginning. When I was asked if I was going to star in it, I’d say, “No, that’s not in the cards for this. I really want to be behind the camera on it.” As we were developing the script and I read the first draft, I thought, Oh my goodness, if I got this script—if it was just sent to me as an actor—I would be fighting to play this role and to be a part of this project. I was like, What am I doing, not putting myself in this role? Developing the project with John Larroquette was very much a dream come true, having been a fan of the show and his work on it for many years. I kept thinking about the person who was going to be lucky enough to get to do these fantastic scenes with him. I started realizing that I’d be kicking myself big time if I’m sitting behind the monitor watching this lucky person get to play this role. It just really started to feel like this was meant to be and this was the right move, so at the last minute I said that I was going to join…and I’m very, very glad I did.

EDGE: From conception to pitching to the network to production to broadcast, how long was the entire process that brought Night Court back to life?

MR: It was about three years, so it was quite a while. We started developing it before the pandemic and then we didn’t have our first meeting with John until after the pandemic. So that was all over Zoom, all over the phone. We pitched the show over Zoom and there were so many questions about whether people can be around each other and if we could have a studio audience because it was really the very beginning stages of lockdown. NBC came on board to do it and we developed the whole pilot during lockdown. Our audience was still socially distanced and masked and we had to limit them to 40 or 50 people. By the time that we were actually picked up, which was many months later, we were able to have a full audience, which was very special. So it was really quite a long road to get to this point, but it was a very gratifying one.

EDGE: With you and John coming into this project with plenty of success starring in popular ensemble comedies, were there any philosophies that either of you brought to the cast, based on your respective experiences?

MR: Ah, that’s a great question! I think there’s something common among multi-cam sitcoms, no matter when you do it, that you sort of speak the same language, because there is such a rhythm to it. There’s a rhythm to how the week goes. There’s a rhythm to how tape nights go. Whether it was the era that John did Night Court or we did Big Bang, it’s all sort of the same language, which is really exciting. John really sets the tone in how we all work together and how the week goes. I think we were both really looking forward to creating that workplace family, both off camera and on camera.

EDGE: What do you love the most about multicam?

MR: You get this week where you’re doing rehearsals together and you’re figuring out the pacing and where things are going to go. So it’s really like doing a play. You’re sort of like this little theater troupe that gets to bond and put on a show together every week. I love the camaraderie of a cast and getting to put something on its feet and getting to see material come to life over the course of a week. Getting to do that with John and our amazing cast has been a dream come true.

EDGE:A lot has changed in your life and career since you walked onto The Big Bang Theory set as the “new girl” in the cast. Now, you are a series lead, a TV veteran and a producer. Since day one of this show’s journey, have you felt comfortable being somewhat of an authority figure and leader on this show?

Courtesy of NBC Universal

MR: I feel like my authority comes into play in that I just want everyone to be terrified of me. [laughs] The Jersey comes out and no one is to look me in the eye. I feel like it really sets the tone if everyone is just constantly walking around with total fear and absolutely petrified! [laughs] I was very fortunate with Big Bang in that when I came into the cast in the third season, everyone was so welcoming. I was very grateful how they integrated me into the show, because it was done little by little and not forced on anyone. I think that was helpful, because I would’ve been mad at myself if I came in and ruined that show—especially as a fan of it. That welcoming environment was something that I definitely wanted to take with me, so coming from an ensemble and starting this new ensemble was really just about understanding that we are a team, which is something that’s super important to me. So even though I’m producing it, I really love working in a collaborative environment where everyone can feel welcome and heard. I don’t really see myself as an authority figure. Just a part of this new great team.

EDGE:I know you were joking about trying to scare everyone, but that response is the perfect reason why you pull off characters like Bernadette and Abby Stone so well. You have mastered the art of mixing your sweet, harmless exterior with that inner toughness and aggression that comes out when we least expect it. Is that another example of the Jersey Girl within?

MR: You know what? I cannot deny that. When it comes down to it, I am Jersey through and through, so I feel like my Jersey is always boiling right under the surface at all times.

EDGE: Like the Hulk!

MR: Exactly. [laughs] It’s very much a part of my DNA and I love the opportunity to unleash it whenever I can.

EDGE: What’s something you’d like to tackle that you haven’t gotten around to yet?

MR: You know what? I’d love to host Saturday Night Live. It would be such an honor, and I’d be that much closer to New Jersey. Put that on the list!   

Editor’s Note: Night Court airs Tuesdays at 8:00 pm on NBC and streams the following day on Peacock.


Bryan Cranston

5 Minutes with…

What have you enjoyed watching recently on TV?

The last series I watched was Better Call Saul. I wanted to see this world and this story that was familiar, yet brand new and fresh to me. Aaron Paul and I told Vince Gilligan that if he ever wanted us to appear on the show, we’d definitely do it…it’s a fond memory, a romantic reminiscence. Breaking Bad changed my life—my occupation, my personal life, my financial security. Everything adjusted with that show. It was a phenomenally creative experience and I’m very proud of it.

When did you first get the acting bug?

I was born in Hollywood, raised in Los Angeles. My parents were actors, so going to studios was part of my upbringing. Basically, I went into the “family business.” The life of an actor was not tremendously successful for my parents. My dad wanted to be a star and didn’t become a star, and that really affected him. My goal was to be a working actor, to pay my bills. To this day, my most cherished professional accomplishment is that since the age of 25, acting is all I’ve done for a living.

Have you chosen roles that offer financial security?

I never want to be in the position where I have to make an artistic decision based on financial need. I’d been without money my entire childhood. My family home was foreclosed on by the bank because we couldn’t pay our bills and we were kicked out. I know what it’s like not to have money and I have a great respect for it now. The more I save, the more I know I can stay acting and, therefore, be able to pick and choose the things that I really want to do.

In Your Honor, you play Michael Desiato, a judge who has covered up his son’s hit-and-run. What attracted you to the role?

I’m a father. The question that I would ask any parent is, “What would you do to save the life of your child?” The universal answer, that crosses cultures, languages and borders, is: “I would do anything to save the life of my child.” That’s the premise of Your Honor—my character willingly becomes a criminal because he truly believes that doing so is the only way to protect his child. The first series was about a man who loses his principles for what he thinks is the greater good. [This season] is about if there can be redemption of the soul. Can Michael find forgiveness for the lies and collateral damage that he’s perpetrated? Can he get some sense of honor back? No pun intended.

Editor’s Note: This Q&A was conducted by Kelly-Anne Taylor for the Interview People. Kelly-Anne is a commissioning editor and podcast host at The Radio Times. Your Honor is currently streaming on Showtime.

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— Chef Sonny




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A 12” x 18” Grandma style pizza with roast pork, bacon, sautéed broccoli rabe and our Midwest cheese blend. Chili flakes on request.




Common Lot Wagyu Beef Tartar

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Our wagyu beef tartar is paired with a Singapore style pepper sauce, summer herbs and flowers and sea beans.

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Trattoria Gian Marco Calamari Toscano

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Another delicious addition to our fabulous menu. Tender calamari fried and sauteed with cherry peppers, capers and kalamata olives in our plum tomato sauce.

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PAR440 • Mahi Mahi

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Pan seared Mahi Mahi with capers over broccoli rabe and fingerling potatoes.

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Galloping Hill Caterers

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Galloping Hill Caterers has been an incredible landmark for over 70 years. We pride ourselves in delivering “over the top” cuisine, impeccable service and outstanding attention to detail. That is the hallmark of our success! Simply, an unforgettable experience. Pictured here is one of our crepes flambé that really creates lots of excitement!

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Limani Seafood Grill • Pan Seared Halibut with Sun Dried Tomato

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Extra virgin olive oil, roasted garlic, lemon juice, capers, white wine, parsley, served with roasted potato and garlicky green beans.

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Welcome Back!

The restaurants featured in this section are open for business and are serving customers in compliance with state regulations. Many created special items ideal for take-out and delivery and have kept them on the menu—we encourage you to visit them online.

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EDGE is not responsible for any typos, misprints or information in regard to these listings. All information was supplied by the restaurants that participated and any questions or concerns should be directed to them.

Look! Up In the Sky!

Forget about Chinese spy balloons…New Jersey’s relationship with lighter-than-air flight dates back 230 years.


Granger Collection

January 9, 1793

French balloonist Jean-Pierre Blanchard, author of the first-ever balloon flight in Paris in 1784, brought his marvel to America in the winter of 1793. He arranged a demonstration in Philadelphia in front of George Washington and, legend has it, four future presidents: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe. Blanchard ascended from the prison yard at the Walnut Street Jail, crossed the Delaware River and overflew Camden before turning south and landing safely in Deptford in Gloucester County, New Jersey. America’s first lighter-than-air flight concluded near the famous Clement Oak, where a plaque commemorated the event before the majestic tree was lost in a storm. Blanchard, who did not speak English, carried a letter from Washington instructing the recipient to deliver the Frenchman and his balloon back to Philadelphia. Which would make it the first air mail flight in the US, as well.




Upper Case Editorial

Upper Case Editorial

October 15, 1910

The first attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air lifted off from Atlantic City in the autumn of 1910. The airship America, designed and piloted by Walter Wellman and Melvin Vaniman (left), made its way north, passing over Newark and then continuing northeast up the coast to Maine before heading out over the ocean. Near the end of the journey’s third day, the crew of six (plus Vainman’s cat) had to abort the flight after the motor died, climbing down a rope to a lifeboat before being picked up by a passing steamer. America was originally conceived as a means of flying over the North Pole, but was reconfigured for the transatlantic flight after Robert Peary beat Wellman to it. The airship was 228 feet long and 52 feet in diameter, and was constructed of three layers of silk and cotton fabric, bonded with rubber. Although the 1910 flight lasted just 71 ½ hours, it still set a world record for time aloft.


Upper Case Editorial

July 2, 1912

Undaunted by his failure to cross the ocean in 1910, Melvin Vaniman built a 258-foot airship funded by Goodyear named Akron. The large crowd gathered near the beach in Atlantic City to witness Vaniman’s departure were horrified when, just minutes later, the hydrogen-filled craft exploded, engulfing the gondola in flames as it plunged 2,400 feet into an inlet. Vaniman, his brother Calvin and three crewmembers died in the crash. An investigation determined that the balloon ruptured due to excessive internal pressure—it had been overinflated.



Alexander Cohrs

October 15, 1928

New Jersey served as the port of entry for the first-ever transatlantic commercial passenger air service when the Graf Zeppelin (LZ 127) arrived at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station, in Manchester. The sleek 776-foot rigid airship was named in honor of Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (Graf is German for Count) and constructed over the course of 18 months by Ludwig Durr. The gondola, which contained the flight deck, 10 passenger cabins, two restrooms and a common area, measured slightly less than 100 feet from end to end. The flight from Germany took 111 hours, 44 minutes and was slowed by a damaged tail fin. While repairs were being completed, a distress call was made but no other radio transmission followed, leading many to believe that airship had fallen into the ocean. On its return flight, the Graf Zeppelin carried Clara Adams, an early aviation celebrity who helped popularize air travel, as well as a stowaway who was discovered hiding in the mail room. The craft was greeted in Germany by President Paul von Hindenberg.


US War Department

US Naval History and Heritage Command

April 4, 1933

What are the odds that two airships named Akron would perish off the coast of New Jersey? Incredibly, that’s just what happened when the US Navy’s Akron—the world’s first flying aircraft carrier—plunged tail-down into the Atlantic in a violent thunderstorm. The resulting 73 deaths made it the worst air disaster in history at the time and the deadliest airship crash ever; only three people survived. A Navy blimp sent out to search for survivors also went into the sea, killing two more men. An investigation determined that virtually all of the Akron deaths had resulted from hypothermia. No lifejackets were issued to the crew, and they were unable to launch lifeboats after the airship hit the water. The accident ended the Navy’s airship experiment, as one of the dead was Rear Admiral William Moffett (left)—among the program’s main proponents.


German Federal Archives

May 6, 1937

The era of airship transportation ended more or less where it began when the Hindenberg exploded as it attempted to land in the early evening at Lakehurst. In 1936, the Hindenberg had completed 10 round trips between Germany and the US without incident, and the May flight was the first of 10 more scheduled for 1937. The airship was only half-full on the flight across the Atlantic, but was fully booked for the return leg of its journey. Many of those passengers were planning to attend the coronation of England’s George VI (of The King’s Speech fame). Poor weather had delayed the flight and prompted Captain Max Pruss to plot a course over Manhattan, stopping traffic and sending office workers racing to catch a glimpse of the craft. He later gave passengers a two-hour “tour” of the Jersey Shore while waiting for the weather to clear. At 7:25 pm, witnesses noticed a blue flame moments before a fire broke out at the rear of the Hindenberg, quickly engulfing the entire airship. The disaster was captured by multiple newsreel cameras and covered live on radio by Herbert Morrison. Of the 97 occupants of the Hindenberg, 62 were able to escape with their lives. Those who perished were badly burned, victims of smoke inhalation or jumped from an excessive height. One member of the ground crew succumbed to his injuries a day later.


German Federal Archives

May 23, 1968

Although the heyday of lighter-than-air aviation had long since passed, Hangar No. 1 at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst, built in 1921, was still in use more than five decades later when it was designated as a National Landmark. The enormous hangar served as home base for four legendary rigid airships—Shenandoah, Los Angeles, Akron and Macon—and was America’s only stopping place for commercial airships (including the Graf Zeppelin and Hindenberg). The hangar measured 996 feet long and was wide enough to accommodate two airships side-by-side. Today, Hangar No. 1 serves as a base for multiple educational programs.


US Dept. of the Interior

April 26, 1986

Everything that flies can only weigh so much before it won’t fly anymore. There is a limit, for instance, to what a blimp can lift. And a limit to what a helicopter can lift. But what about a blimp plus four helicopters? That question was answered in 1986 by the Piasecki PA-p7 Helistat, a helium balloon with four H-34J choppers bolted to it framework. The experimental craft was ordered up by the US Forest Service for harvesting timber from inaccessible terrain. If this sounds a little crazy, well, it was. The craft performed well until a test flight that summer, when a gust of wind moments after liftoff caused one of the helicopters to break free, with its rotor slicing into the gas bag. The ensuing vibration caused the remaining three to break free, sending the Helistat to the ground in what would be its final flight.




The New York Times Co.

July 4, 1993

The summer of 1993 marked the debut of the 165-foot blimp “Bigfoot,” which was headed for Linden on July 4th when part of its tail assembly came loose and tore a gash in its nylon skin as it traveled down the Hudson River. Strollers along Boulevard East stopped in their tracks to watch the airship—emblazoned with a giant Pizza Hut logo—slowly deflate between New York City and northern Hudson County and veer off toward midtown Manhattan. Bigfoot’s descent came to an end on the side of a building on West 53rd Street. The pilot (a Goodyear veteran of 35 years) and his co-pilot, were lucky to walk away with minor injuries. New York Mayor David Dinkins, who was often out of town when weird things happened in the city, was scheduled to fly to Israel that evening. After surveying the scene, he joked, “The first thought I had was, man, I haven’t even gotten on a plane yet!”


Richie Moriarty

EDGE Interview

Jonathan Wenk / CBS

If Richie Moriarty strikes you as one of those performers you swear you’ve seen everywhere, there is a reason…he is. The veteran actor’s résumé includes roles on House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange Is the New Black, Adam Ruins Everything, The Tick, Power and What We Do in the Shadows—as well as an unforgettable 2019 Super Bowl teaser with John Malkovich and Peyton Manning. Richie is at his best when he is part of a quirky cast and, currently, he co-stars in the CBS series Ghosts, the top-rated new network comedy in 2022. Although he is a master at blending in, his character in Ghosts is impossible to miss: deceased scoutmaster Pete, best friend of the series lead, who roams the earth as he died, with an arrow through his neck. Recently, residents of a certain Essex County enclave have spotted Richie, sans arrow, roaming their streets. Gerry Strauss wanted to find out why.

EDGE: What brought you to Maplewood?

RM: My wife and I met in Brooklyn and we were starting to raise our son there. Right around when he started crawling and getting mobile, we were like, “Oh, we can’t do this in our tiny one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.” So we started to chat with people about where people go. You know, where can we go to actually afford a place to live—but still be close enough to the city where we can both commute? The towns of Maplewood and South Orange just kept coming up as great commuter towns on the train line, 30 minutes roughly into Penn Station. It’s hard to beat. In Jersey, we could afford a multi-bedroom house as opposed to the terrible one-bedroom that we could afford in Brooklyn with that same money. My wife and I took our baby son out on the train to Maplewood, did a little 12-hour tour of the area and really fell in love with it very quickly, and started looking for houses very soon after that. I feel so fortunate that we got here in 2018 before the explosion of home prices. We’ve just really loved our time in Maplewood. It’s a really great place for us to be.

EDGE: The blend of offbeat humor and genuine heart in Ghosts won over audiences quickly. What’s been the secret to maintaining that balance?

RM: Our writers and showrunners have done such an incredible job with that balance. I do think it is what makes the show special—and is exceedingly difficult to do well. It never feels forced and always has this tone where you can be laughing one second and brought to tears the next moment. A lot of that comes from the audience’s connection to the characters on the show. Everyone has done a masterful job of inhabiting these characters and bringing a fullness to them. It’s hard for a guy with an arrow sticking out of his neck to not feel like a cartoon, but the writing has been so great that it’s given us all backstories, and it’s made the audience feel a real connection with us, which really helps in selling those more emotional moments.

EDGE: In many respects, Ghosts is the ultimate ensemble comedy, not only because there are so many of you, but you are also often all performing in a small space within a house. What’s the secret to creating the right chemistry among such a large and talented cast?

RM: You know, I tell everybody who asks about the show how lucky I am to be a part of this particular group of people. The entire cast has all become close friends of mine, and I feel so fortunate to be doing this job with these people. Honestly, part of what I think contributes to what you’re talking about is the way that we started this show. We were all cast in February or March of 2020, and then the world shut down. I was actually flown from Jersey to LA to shoot the pilot and during Day Two of pre-production, when we were finalizing wardrobe and props and all that stuff, we were shut down and sent home. We all really thought that this opportunity was going to disappear, because a lot of shows over that next six months were released from networks because nobody knew what the future of filming was going to look like in the world of COVID. So from March to December, the cast had this crazy window where we had no idea if this opportunity was going to disappear, if we were ever going to get to do this thing together. Over the course of those seven or eight months, we were on constant text chains with each other. We were Zooming all the time just to check in with each other because we felt like we were on this weird island where we still had this great opportunity that was coming down the road, but we didn’t know if it was going to disappear. I think it really bonded us in a special way. By the time we finally did shoot that pilot eight months later, we all felt like we were so much closer than we would’ve been had we shot in March. We were just so excited about finally getting this opportunity to do this thing together. We’re so fortunate that it was actually picked up to series and we got to make the series, but I think that has a lot to do with the chemistry that you see on screen. We were unified in a very bizarre way during the pandemic, and by the time we got together we felt like we were friends, you know?

EDGE: What do you enjoy most about playing Pete?

RM: I think the main difference between Pete and myself is his eternal optimism. I mean, the amount of cheeriness and optimism this guy has—I wish I had 10% of it [laughs]. It’s really fun to step into those shoes and view the world through a lens that I don’t typically view the world through. There’s something really special, too, about the fact that all of our characters are period-specific. The 1980’s is when I grew up, and I very much feel like this character is my dad in a lot of ways. He was roughly the age that Pete was in 1985 when he died.

EDGE: Pete’s backstory is deeply emotional. Does that hit home for you?

Sarah Coulyer / Paramount+

RM: For sure. When we filmed the “Pete’s Wife” episode—where his daughter and grandson, who Pete didn’t know even existed, show up, my wife had just given birth to our daughter. She was six weeks old when we moved to Montreal for six months to film the first season. Of course, everyone is very raw emotionally when they have a newborn [laughs]. You’re low on sleep and you’re falling in love with this brand-new human. That made it very easy for me to tap into the emotion of what that would mean to see your adult daughter for the first time and then get the news that you have a grandson, and that your legacy and your family is living on.

EDGE: Your résumé is full of amazing scripted performances, but you also have a deep improvisational background. Which style of performing do you prefer?

RM: I definitely prefer improvising. There’s something magical about improv. There’s also something lovely about not having to memorize lines [laughs]. I’ve been improvising for more than a decade now. I started in 2008 or so, and I love it.

EDGE: Is there room for improv in Ghosts?

RM: The mantra in improv is to have each other’s back and to support your scene partners, and that comes into play all the time on this show. You’re always looking for opportunities to amplify other people’s voices or see opportunities for them to make the scene stronger. There’s this team mentality, because you’re creating this thing together. In terms of improvising on set, it’s always a little bit director-specific. Some directors come in and love to find opportunities that aren’t on the page to punch the script up and make it better, but the scripts come in so tight and so funny already that we don’t have a ton of leeway. Really, the opportunities are the button of a scene—the final line in a scene can sometimes be an opportunity to throw in a very quick improvised moment. God knows, we try to do a lot more than that, but those moments often end up on the cutting-room floor because there just isn’t a ton of time in a network sitcom to play like that.

EDGE: Time to spill a trade secret. Your character Pete was killed by an arrow that was accidentally shot through his neck, and his ghost is destined to be stuck with that arrow for all of eternity. Is that thing a clip-on, or does it involve hours of make-up and glue to attach it to you every day you are shooting?

RM: Luckily, they have made it very fast. We were tinkering with it a lot during Season One to try to get it to maintain a certain angle all the time so that it looks consistent, and it’s tricky to do. One of the people that works in wardrobe is a woman named Julie. She’s in charge of my arrow specifically, so before every take she’s making sure that thing is set perfectly. There’s a metal bracket that fits behind my neck and it has two screws—one on each side—and so the ends of the arrows just screw on. Wow [laughs]. They tuck that metal bracket in my scarf and then they puncture two holes through the scarf so both ends of the arrow can be screwed in. It’s pretty quick, easy on and off.

Editor’s Note: Ghosts airs Thursday nights on CBS and was just renewed for a third season.


Out of Thick Air

The science and history of overpowering odor.

Reckitt Benckiser Group

In 2023, the global market for air fresheners will surpass $12 billion. According to Precedence Research, a company that provides investors with strategic market insights, that number will likely double by 2030. Does that mean the world is smelling progressively worse, or that humans are becoming more sensitive to unpleasant odors? The answer is both and none of the above. Think of all the clean, lovely homes of your friends and neighbors in suburban New Jersey. Some have an air freshener diffuser in almost every room, while others have none. Does one home smell noticeably “better” than the other? Probably not.

The use of air fresheners is a matter of personal taste and personal choice. Some folks can’t live with them, others can’t live without them. Some folks are severely allergic to strong, artificial scents. Others cannot enter the average teenager’s bedroom without a finger on the trigger of a can of Febreze, ready to fire, like an Old West gunslinger, at a week-old sweat sock or unchanged bottom sheet.

NC Museum of Art

Although it differs from country to country and culture to culture, the use of air fresheners is almost always linked to the concern that others will judge you through their nostrils. Madison Avenue has masterfully leveraged this paranoia into a global growth industry. After all, who among us doesn’t wonder whether our home or business or vehicle could smell a little better and, by extension, how that might elevate us in the eyes of others? One also wonders whether the air freshener industry created the “thick air” market out of thin air, or whether it tapped into something that is actually baked into our DNA. How far back does the need to make a positive aromatic impression stretch? Imagine the first modern human entering a Neanderthal cave—did he (or, let’s face it, she) wonder, “What’s wrong with these people?”

Air fresheners as we know them first appeared on supermarket shelves around 1950. Like a lot of breakthrough consumer items during this era, the technology had its roots in military applications developed during World War II. Put a pin in that for a moment and let’s turn back the clock to the original concept of odor-masking.


Reckitt Benckiser Group

It is a practice that dates back several thousand years, most likely to at least the Bronze Age and perhaps beyond. In ancient cultures, priests and other religious leaders burned animal parts as sacrificial offerings to the gods. In interior spaces, the smell must have been unbearable, so various herbs and aromatic plants would have been burned at the same time. We know this because the Latin root of the word perfume, per fumus, means “through smoke.” There are records of the ancient Egyptians using scented oils on their bodies and textiles, and the extraction of air-freshening oils was being done on a commercial level in Mesopotamia more than 3,000 years ago.


Fast-forward to the 8th and 9th centuries and we find the discovery of steam distillation in the Islamic world. Suddenly, odor-masking scents were widely available; they were even mixed into the mortar used in the construction of mosques. The popular use of perfumes and other exotic scents in the West was accelerated by the Crusades, when Europeans who survived their adventures in the Eastern Mediterranean brought back sweet-smelling souvenirs from the markets of the Holy Land. Perfume production really kicked into high gear during the Renaissance. Hungary, of all places, became an important center of production. And of course, the French became famous consumers of perfumes and scented oils. You may recall from a long-ago history class that King Louis XIV was called the “Sun King.”

What they probably didn’t teach you was that his great-grandson, Louis XV (left)—who succeeded him as a boy in the early 1700s—was known for soaking everything in his palace with a different scent every day. The young monarch’s court was known as “La Cours Parfumée.” The science behind air fresheners may have changed since the “Louies” but the basic concept hasn’t: Find something that smells better than the odor you’re trying to mask, and then keep it hanging in the air as long as possible.

So back to the 1950s. The US military found a clever way to do this, using sophisticated chemistry that had the ability to eliminate and replace odors with a fine, pleasant-smelling mist. The original use for this technology was in pesticides that were used in close proximity to humans. Children of the postwar era may recall the “mosquito trucks” (below) that rolled through suburban neighborhoods puffing out sweet-smelling DDT.

Procter & Gamble/Febreze

Soon, few respectable American homes were without a can of name-brand air freshener to kill bathroom, cooking and pet odors. Lysol and Air Wick were already recognized household brands before the age of aerosol sprays. Glade arrived in the mid-1950s, accompanied by a catchy jingle and the polite suggestion that you buy a second can for the “medicine cabinet” (bathroom) to make indoor air “smell as fresh as all outdoors”. These products (and the different scents they developed) became ubiquitous outside of homes, as well—in hotel rooms, restaurants, theaters, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and automobile showrooms. The chemicals that enabled these products to eliminate odors instead of merely overpowering them included Pre-Polymers, Ester, and Long-Chain Aldehydes. Feel free to look them up but don’t expect to understand a thing about them.

What most people do understand, however, is that the leading air freshener brands back then weren’t exactly healthy. In the 1970s and 1980s, the air freshener market faced a crisis when it was determined that the Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that powered them also harmed earth’s ozone layer. Also, reports of negative side-effects on asthma sufferers—and the possible impact on reproductive chemistry—accompanied the additional bad news that these products contained low levels of carcinogenic material.

A range of alternatives arrived on the market, including scented candles, heated oils and gels, and solid gels. Febreze, which has been around since the late-1990s, grabbed a huge portion of the market share thanks to spot-on ad campaigns (had you ever heard of “Nose Blind” before Febreze?) and its use of Hydroxypropyl Beta-Cyclodextrin, a molecule derived from corn cobs that traps and binds malodorous molecules and reduces their scent. It is meant to be sprayed on fabric as opposed to being waved in the air like a magic wand.


So, is there anything new in the air freshener world? Glad you asked. The old-school tree freshener (aka Little Tree) appears to have found a fascinating second life. The cardboard pine trees that used to hang from rearview mirrors now come in a variety of shapes and smells, most notably as the disembodied heads of celebrities. These aren’t your grandfather’s tree fresheners, the ones you could pick up for pocket change at the local service station. They are typically unlicensed homemade “art” products and they sell like crazy for $5 to $15 on web sites like Etsy. Want a Taylor Swift? Done. Tupac? Done. You can even send in a family photo to make a customized tree freshener. There’s a good chance your spouse and children have never smelled better.

I was in an Uber recently that had an unshaven Jonah Hill air freshener dangling over the dashboard so, yes, there is almost certainly some irony involved, too.

Or maybe the driver was just a big Jonah Hill fan.



What’s the Deal with Travel?

What went wrong in 2022. How it’s looking in 2023.

Air travel showed us its bad side last year. Last holiday season, Southwest canceled 16,700 flights, losing more than a billion dollars in revenue through lost ticket sales and reimbursements, and tarnishing their very bronze reputation as the cheap airline that isn’t as bad as Spirit. Reasons why piled up, most having to do with logistics, software and payroll. To be a bit reductive, Southwest is the kind of company that “runs lean and hot”—cutting costs where it really shouldn’t to find profits on the low end.

For an even simpler explanation, we could turn to Southwest’s own Twitter page, on which the airline’s CEO, Bob Jordan, released an apology video wherein he referred to Southwest’s ongoing operation as a “giant puzzle.”

Unfortunately, it’s the kind of puzzle where thousands of people sleep on the floor with backpacks as pillows—while hundreds of pilots and flight coordinators try to assemble the pieces using Skysolver, a scheduling software from the 1990s that tends to glitch up when the weather gets bad, forcing crew members to call each other over the phone and hash it out that way.

Also during the 2022 holiday season, a pair of Australian baggage handlers were sacked for mishandling baggage. In a word, they were slamming suitcases down onto a conveyor belt. Two more words: punting and shot-putting. Really, they were fired for getting caught on a camera they’d presumably aimed at themselves. Their movie, uploaded to TikTok and recirculated by news outlets, frames the pair of handlers, giggling in high-vis jackets under the nauseating glow of industrial lighting, with a can of Red Bull in the foreground. Not the nicest workplace, but you have to hope no one was flying with heirloom china. You also have to imagine this kind of smackdown happens in the backrooms of airports all the time when the cameras aren’t rolling.

Holiday ’22 felt like a peephole into the peptic inner works of the travel industry. Stress, incompetence and the convolution of air travel were laid bare after a two-year partial hiatus from full-capacity operation. Were these snafus a fluke of gearing back up, a little hiccup in the grand scheme, or do you and your family have more to worry about if you’re planning to travel in the second half of 2023?

The Big 3

If you’re flying for vacation and care most about peace of mind, it makes sense to pay Delta’s rate, which is uniformly more than the budget option. Delta ranks well on cancellations, on-time arrivals and mishandled baggage: three issues likely to ruin or complicate your family’s vacation plans. United does fine as well, and generally outperforms American—though not in every category—so it comes down to whether you’d rather lose your bags or your sanity sitting motionless on the tarmac when choosing between these Big 3. If you’re flying to Hawaii, even better because Hawaiian Airlines is actually the best one, but it only goes there. Alaskan Airlines is also fantastic, but it runs fewer planes.

These performance metrics are eclipsed, in my opinion, by the general robustness built into the Big 3 airlines. United, Delta and American have a tacit agreement to exchange canceled flights between companies, basically allowing a traveler to hop from one airline to another frictionlessly when it’s the airline’s fault. This is inside baseball; these standing contracts between airlines are expensive, however, and Southwest predictably cheaped out.

Understand that Southwest (and other budget airlines) fly point-to-point, meaning their planes can shoot straight from one minor airport to another. This lets passengers fly from Atlantic City to Orlando without a layover, but it also means that, if your plane isn’t at Atlantic City when you are, or if your plane looks a little too dinged up for airfare, you’re stuck until the company sends you another one, perhaps from very far away. Who knows? If it’s Southwest (which, for the record, does not service AC), chances are they’re figuring it out on the phone and maybe you should get a hotel. It is point-to-point in all its glory.

The hub-and-spoke model used by Delta, United and American forces minor airports to link up at big hub ones, like Pittsburgh or O’Hare. That can be an annoyance in the form of a layover, but these hub airports are heavily staffed with redundant pilots, flight coordinators and attendants. If a plane or crew aren’t feeling up to it, it’s much simpler to shuffle in another set of key pieces, keeping things chugging along just fine. Airlines using hub-and-spoke are an even better deal if you’re flying from one hub to another, say Newark to Miami, in which case you get all the security from their inbuilt redundancy without the downtime of a layover, which is at least the evil you know.

Until jetpacks get much better, we’re at the mercy of these airlines. It’s all about trusting a company well enough to handle you and some or all your belongings cleverly enough to, say, cover the 2,752 westward miles between Newark and San Diego without a major hassle. That kind of ticket from most major airlines comes with the expectation you’ll arrive intact, albeit with your stomach annoyed by the time zone differential, your brain a little foggy, and your knees rubbed a bit raw from five-hours’ brushing contact with the seat ahead of you if, like me, you’re tall and fly coach. Not too bad considering that’s seven percent of the time an identical trip would take you on a Greyhound. The good news is that, as we head into the summer travel season and begin steeling ourselves for whatever lies ahead between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, it’s looking safe and easy to board a flight or book a cruise. I wouldn’t even worry about Southwest, at least until Christmas. They’re reeling from a punch in the nose, but barring the kind of snowstorms and demand brought on by the holidays, their point-to-point model is an alright way to shave a few dollars off the price of airfare, especially if your travel plans include a non-major airport. It almost always works.

It’s just that, when it doesn’t, you’re forced to think about why. You trace the line from pilot to engine to plane to tarmac and realize what a “giant puzzle” it really all is.

Also, don’t worry about Southwest CEO Bob Jordan. He likes to fly first class on American.


Asked & Answered

10 Questions About Bad Breath

Call it halitosis, call it oral malodor, call it morning breath—call it whatever you want—but bad breath by any name is big business. The mouthwash and breath freshener industry will generate between $6 and $7 billion this year…because no one wants to see the look on someone’s face when we gas them out.

What causes bad breath?

Typically, but not always, halitosis begins in the mouth. Common causes include poor dental hygiene, xerostomia (aka “dry mouth”), certain foods and spices, tobacco use, some medications, and infections from sores, gum disease or oral surgery. Acid reflux, certain diseases (including some cancers) and metabolic disorders can also cause bad breath. Your tongue harbors odor-causing bacteria, too.

Why do I have bad breath after eating garlic?

After digesting certain foods, including garlic and onions, they can enter your bloodstream and find their way into your lungs, which can affect your breath.

What’s the story behind halitosis?

It is as old as human history. Ancient people boiled herbs and spices to create chewable “breath mints” so we know halitosis had been a concern for thousands of years. Indeed, Halitosis is actually Latin for “diseased breath.” The late-1800s saw the manufacture of the first mouthwash, Listerine, which was named in honor of Dr. Joseph Lister, a pioneer in antiseptic surgery. However, it didn’t catch on with the public until the 1920s, when Listerine began claiming it could “Cure Halitosis”—which sounded more like a serious medical condition than bad breath.

How did bad breath become such big business?

“Often a bridesmaid but never a bride.” That was Poor Edna, the “star” of Listerine’s most successful ad campaign. Everything about her was desirable…except her halitosis. Thanks to Edna, by the end of the 1920s, annual sales rose from $100,000 to $4 million—a forty-fold increase. During the 1940s and ’50s, Chlorophyll offered a less medicine-y option and made Clorets one of the world’s top selling breath fresheners. Readers of a certain age may remember the brilliant 1960s marketing campaign behind Scope, the minty mouthwash that went head-to-head with Listerine. The best way to let someone know they had bad breath was to leave a bottle in the mailbox with a note: Once in the morning does it! Signed The Green Phantom. More recently, Tic Tacs became the go-to solution for halitosis.

Does mouthwash do any good?

That depends…because there are two types of mouthwash: Cosmetic and Therapeutic. Cosmetic products control bad breath and leave a sweet or minty taste in your mouth, but don’t provide any long-term benefit because they don’t kill odor-causing bacteria. Of course, that may be all you need if you just had raw onions on your burger or some fish sauce with your Thai food. Therapeutic rinses—which are sold over the counter and are also prescription products—contain active ingredients that reduce the causes of bad breath.

What are the main foods that cause bad breath?

According to the good folks at Listerine, the “Top 5” foods that cause bad breath are 1) Garlic 2) Onions 3) Dairy 4) Canned Tuna 5) Horseradish. Yes, horseradish. Its strong, eye-watering smell—which is created by the organosulfur compound allyl isothiocyanate—can trigger halitosis. That’s no surprise, considering its purpose in nature is to drive off hungry herbivores.

Wait. Why do dairy products cause bad breath?

Because the bacteria that lives on your tongue actually feeds on the amino acids in milk and cheese, creating an unpleasant odor.

Is bad breath a sign of something more serious?

It can be. Bad breath often accompanies dental infections and acid reflux (aka GERD). A metallic odor or fruity taste are also signs that should trigger concern.

Can bad breath also be “good” breath? Is that a dumb question?

First of all, that’s two questions. However, there is nothing dumb about it. In the sense that it may provide early clues to major health issues, bad breath can indeed be a “positive.” Studies have been conducted over the last decade that hold great promise in the detection of lung cancer and cardiovascular issues, including heart failure. Don’t be surprised if, one day, “breath tests” replace invasive procedures as a first line of detection.

Which foods naturally fight bad breath?

Gingerol-6, the chemical in ginger, helps break down sulfur compounds, so chewing on ginger or drinking ginger tea (or ale) can help. Cherries can neutralize methyl mercaptan, the gas produced by mouth bacteria that smells like old cabbage. So can lettuce. Cinnamon contains an essential oil with antimicrobial and antiseptic properties, so pop a cinnamon Altoid or chew on a cinnamon stick. The vitamin C in oranges and other citrus fruits can help control bacterial activity in your mouth and neutralize unpleasant odors. Fresh spinach is high in zinc, which prevents the build-up of sulfur compounds.

Bonus Question

How do I know if I have bad breath?

Ask someone you know and trust. Smelling your own breath is a lot like taking your temperature by putting your hand on your forehead. It doesn’t really work.


Judging a Magazine by Its Cover: Ed Gabel

Through years of strife, controversy and world-shaking events, artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell benevolently depicted the core of average American life and the American dream. Starting in 1916, the covers he made for The Saturday Evening Post and other publications created an important chronological history of American homespun sensibility. Ed Gabel’s drawings and paintings, many on the covers of Time and several other magazines, do a similar job but with a more editorial point of view of national and global issues. Nothing average, nothing soft or nostalgic. Gabel tackles current events with a keen eye for the ironic. He juxtaposes and blends unlikely images to accompany a magazine’s cover story. Gabel spotlights thorny issues with astounding, opinionated realism. He astutely represents the illustration evolution—from Rockwell’s tender, moving and often amusing observations to Gabel’s punch of emotionally and critically charged issues painted with a most determined brush.

Time USA

Time USA

Time USA

Time USA

Time USA










Time USA

Time USA

Time USA

Time USA

Time USA










About the Artist

Ed Gabel has more than 25 years’ experience in the publishing industry and specializes in illustration and animation. Born in 1964 in Ohio and a graduate of Miami University (Oxford, OH), he began his career as an artist for newspapers, including the Asbury Park Press and the Toledo Blade, which led to a position at TIME magazine where he worked for nine years. He currently co-owns a design studio, Brobel Design, located in Westfield. “I was influenced early on by newspaper comic strips and the drawing style of MAD magazine. In the 1990s, I began to focus on 3D computer illustration inspired by the groundbreaking style of Pixar Studios,” says Gabel. His illustrations have appeared on the covers of TIME, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, among others. He has also created artwork used by Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, DC Comics, and ESPN. He lives in Cranford and spends his free time riding throughout the northeast on his Harley Davidson.

50 Is the New 55

Age eligibility for lung cancer screening is lowered by five years.

One of the many overlooked medical stories during the COVID-19 pandemic was an announcement by the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPTF) that it had expanded the eligibility guidelines for lung screening. The decision came in March 2021, a year into the pandemic and, somewhat ironically, flew under the radar at a time when we were all hyper-focused on the health of our lungs.

The USPTF tweaked its 2013 recommendation, which had encouraged people 55 to 80 with a 30-year pack history of smoking (or current smokers) to undergo annual screenings. The new recommendation now includes adults 50 to 80 with a 20-year pack history who are either current smokers or who had quit within the past 15 years. The 2021 USPTF also suggested that screenings be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years—or has developed a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability/willingness to have curative lung surgery.

The expanded eligibility is, in part, a result of reviewing evidence from clinical trials that screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) provides benefit in younger patients and patients with lighter smoking histories. LDCT is an established safe technology that is more accurate than traditional x-rays for lung cancer screening. According to Dr. Albert C. Li, an Interventional Radiologist at Trinitas, the evidence supports the wider age range and there is clearly “value.” Medicare agrees with the increased value, as it announced expansion of coverage for lung cancer screening with LDCT for eligible Medicare beneficiaries.

“If you screen patients in the new range, you will save more lives,” says Dr. Li. “In eligible patients, low-dose CT for lung cancer screening should be performed once a year.”

The lowering of the age recommendation to 50 differs from other health organization—including the American Cancer Society, National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American Association of Thoracic Surgery—all of which currently are at 55.

Earlier screening, of course, increases the chances of earlier detection and treatment—and a greater chance for cure. Currently, nearly 80% of patients who present with lung cancer are already at the point where it has spread to nearby lymph nodes or, worse, metastasized to other parts of the body. Metastasized lung cancer has a five-year survival rate in the single digits.

When lung cancer is diagnosed while it is still a localized disease, survival rates soar well over 50%. The problem is that lung cancer is caught that early in only 17% of people. Dr. Li wants to see that number increase through early detection via participation in a lung screening program, such as the program that exists at Trinitas.

“That will happen through patient education, as well as reaching out to primary care doctors to remind them that lung screening eligibility has expanded,” he says. “If you are reading this and meet the criteria, talk to your doctor about getting screened.”

As with any screening test, there are risks and benefits, Dr. Li adds.

“However, there is good evidence that lung cancer screening will give a moderate net benefit for our patients with increased risk.”

Editor’s Note: Dr. Albert C. Li is an Interventional Radiologist at Trinitas. He received his medical degree from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and has been in practice for more than 20 years. For LDCT screening appointments, call (732) 955-8825. University Radiology at Trinitas is located at 415 Morris Avenue in Elizabeth.


Reducing the Negative

An ailing photographer provides a snapshot of the integrated care experience at Trinitas.


Trinitas Regional Medical Center

In 2020, Brazilian photographer Sonia Braga came to New Jersey to help care for her daughter and grandson. She had been diagnosed with cancer in her home country, for which she had received treatment and believed she was cured. Unfortunately, prior to her arrival in the US, the cancer had returned and had metastasized. Braga transferred her care to Trinitas, and informed her medical team that she had also been diagnosed with depression, starting at the age of 11. Over the course of many decades, Braga had seen numerous doctors who prescribed different medications, all of which had unpleasant side effects.


“When I met Sonia, her journey was already a long journey and the first thing that struck me was that it was taking a huge toll on her, not only physically but mentally,” says Dr. Michelle Cholankeril (above), the hospital’s Division Chief of Medical Oncology. “I felt that it might be beneficial to send her for a wellness checkup, because it’s really important that the medications we give in oncological services work well with the medications that are used for psychiatric illness.”

Trinitas Regional Medical Center

In a traditional model of healthcare, patient experience is often siloed into different pieces. In a case like Braga’s, for instance, it would probably involve finding a medical provider to address her physical symptoms and then going out and identifying a behavioral health provider to talk about the mental side of the equation—and then coping with the added challenge of cobbling all the various pieces together.

“What we do at Trinitas is offer an integrated-care experience that relieves the patient of the burden of having to try to navigate a system themselves,” explains Lisa Dressner, VP of Behavioral Health, who adds that this approach “provides the best possible outcomes for our patients.”

Braga enrolled in an eight-week outpatient program that looked at the entirety of her treatment and prescribed the appropriate medication for her depression.

“The program made so much difference,” Braga says. “I suffer from depression, but that doesn’t make me a weak person. I’m actually a strong person. I worked with a psychologist and was able to talk and explain what I was going through.”

At the same time, Dr. Cholankeril was able to prescribe a medication that she suspected would be a good fit—not just for the cancer, but for Braga as a human being.

Self-Punishment • Sonia Braga

“The second and third time I saw Sonia, there was such a huge difference,” says Dr. Cholankeril. “It was really nice to see.”

Trinitas Regional Medical Center

The Girl Outside • Sonia Braga

Braga returned to Brazil and, unfortunately, began experiencing abdominal pain, which was caused by metastatic cancer in a different area. This time, however, she remained positive as her doctors put her on alternate medication. Dr. Cholankeril believes that the therapy Braga received at Trinitas helped her accept the recurrence and remain in high spirits.

Braga agrees.

The Old Girl • Sonia Braga

“The mental health treatment helped me to deal with the cancer,” she says. “I want to go through this in the best way, to enjoy every step. I will use this cancer to be better, to live better.”

This is clearly evident in her photography, she adds.

“If you look at the work I did before, while suffering from depression, you can see the pain,” she says. “After that, my photos have more life, more hope.”

At Trinitas, Braga says, they made her feel welcome and special, treating her as a person, not just a patient.

“And it’s not just the doctors,” she points out. “It starts at the front desk. You feel safe here…because everything works with love.”


Cool Breeze

Did You Know? The air conditioning industry came of age in the Garden State.

Carrier Corp.

The summer of 1902 was a particularly brutal one in the metropolitan area. The sweltering heat and oppressive humidity was especially devastating for the printing industry. Paper grew and shrank, which meant it was a slightly different size every time it ran through a color press—resulting in poor-quality images. In response, Willis Carrier (left), a 25-year-old Cornell-educated engineer, drew up plans for a machine that cooled, filtered and circulated the air and controlled the humidity. In 1914, Carrier and six other engineers pooled their collective life savings to form the Carrier Engineering Corporation. Its first customer was the American Ammunition Company, in South Jersey. Its second was the Masonic Lodge in Philadelphia, which ordered a system designed to deliver human comfort as opposed to a more productive working environment—a novel idea at the time.

In 1918, Carrier opened a research lab in Newark. After World War I, the company established its major production facility nearby, on Frelinghuysen Avenue. It is difficult to overstate the impact of air conditioning on the American experience. The ability to cool large work spaces in hot weather was a game-changer for US industry, supercharging year-round productivity. In some businesses, like meat packing, sales nearly doubled. The introduction of home air conditioners in the 1930s triggered a population shift to the Sun Belt, which continues to this day. Here’s a look at some touchstone moments in air conditioning…


Early ductwork in the pressroom of Dittman-Steidinger Printing in New York.






Appliance-maker Frigidaire quickly got into the business of residential air conditioning.







AC was a summertime game-changer for restaurants.







AC was viewed as a luxury during the Depression—and sometimes the butt of jokes.





The promise of AC in automobiles suggested a cool future.







Before AC was installed in passenger planes it was supplied by trucks on the tarmac.








By the 1950s, AC was an expensive but popular new-car option.






Early window air conditioners were designed with both fashion and function in mind.









What better way to say “I love you” than with central air?


Indoor Outdoor

The pros and cons of creating your place in the sun.

Something kind of wonderful is happening this spring. For the first time in more than three years, if you call a contractor for a major renovation, someone might actually pick up the phone. The pandemic did odd things to the building industry in New Jersey and it finally seems to be sorting itself out. The pandemic also did something odd to the millions who were stuck at home all day—it made us understand the value of letting more light into our lives. Which is a roundabout way of saying that this may be the year that a lot of Garden State homeowners consider brightening things up by adding a sunroom.

Hank Longo, who has built more than 100 sunroom additions over the last 16 years, confirms that business is already booming. The VP of Additions for All Counties Exteriors in Lakewood calls it “Covid Sanctuary Syndrome.” The word sunroom, he adds, is a generic term. It means different things to different people and covers a lot of options from the economical to the extravagant. The common denominator is the promise of bringing more of the outdoors inside.

Sunrooms are often categorized by the type of construction used. Site-Built refers to on-site construction, which requires a firm foundation and utilizes standard tools, materials, supplies and experienced labor. A four-season sunroom usually includes electricity, plumbing, heating and air conditioning. Bump-Outs are less complicated and more budget-conscious than the site-built alternative. Rather than a full-scale addition, they typically are an Glass Houses are at the high end of the expense spectrum. Basically, everything is designed to let in the light, including the roof. This type of sunroom type is often called a conservatory or sun parlor—basically a live-in greenhouse attached to your home. The only non-glass element is the hardscaped floor, which is often made of ceramic tile or stone with built-in drainage to make cleanup easier after waterings. Heating, cooling and humidity control systems are add-on expansion to an existing room. Pre-Fab Kits are exactly what they sound like. They are made of steel or aluminum framing, with a number of options for the type of glass, roofing and insulation. A contractor can assemble a pre-fab sunroom or an adventurous homeowner could even be tempted to make it a DIY project. a must for four-season enjoyment. Back Porch Conversions involve incorporating most of the existing porch or patio structure at the back of a home by replacing old-fashioned open or screened windows with the latest tempered glass products. A sturdy foundation is a must for this type of sunroom project.

In addition to different types and styles of construction, sunrooms also offer several roofing choices. A sunroom roof can complement the style of the existing house or it can be more architecturally distinct while remaining aesthetically pleasing. A Gable Sunroom is a glass structure topped with two roof panels supported by a center beam. A Studio Sunroom has only a single sloped panel. A Garden Sunroom is usually equipped with extra-thick double-paned glass that acts as insulation.

Call it a solarium, call it a conservatory, call it whatever you want. No matter what you call it, a sunroom is the best seat in the house. However, as with any major project, the inevitable question is, How much will it cost?

As most contractors will agree, the first step in any project of this type is deciding on what you want from your sunroom. Is it a peaceful green retreat? An entertainment center? A home office? A yoga or art studio? A noisy gameroom? A cozy breakfast nook? The next step is understanding the factors that affect the price involved in getting everything you want. Let’s begin with fleshing out what you do want. The types of sunrooms and their labels help to conceptualize the final “look and feel” of the finished project. Once you have decided on the type that suits you and your family best, then prioritizing your wish list always helps when it comes to trimming the budget.

For example, factors to be considered should begin with the size of the sunroom, since how big always affects how much. There are other considerations, such as the cost of materials and the cost of labor—which should always be listed separately in any proposal or contract. Other costs include permitting, architectural plans, site prep, new vs. existing foundation, extra cleanup and how local building codes might impact your plans. A sunroom obviously adds to the value of a home, but will you recoup this expenditure if and when you sell? For some, that consideration is immaterial—they want what they want and they have the funds to make it happen. For others, the value added needs to be within range of what they’ll have to spend. Longo has the experience to provide his clients with a realistic idea of the cost, as well as the prospects of clawing some of that back down the road. “I have been in business long enough for me to be honest with each client about their return on investment in a sunroom addition,” he says. “It’s the only way to go.”

In a recent article in Forbes Home magazine, statistics for three-season sunrooms in the metropolitan area ranged from $80 to $230 per square foot, while this escalated to $200 to $400 per square foot for a four-season addition. This translates to average costs of $25,000 to $40,000 and $45,000 to $80,000, respectively. Of course, all this data is based on averages, and your vision for your own sunroom may not be very average. However, there are some interesting final average ranges that relate directly to costs by sunroom types:

  • Pre-fab $5,000 – $30,000 (minimal cost if you are equipped to DIY)
  • Solarium $30,000 – $75,000 (not only are the walls glass, but the roof is, too)
  • Conservatory $50,000 – $150,000 (true garden room, a “greenhouse for people”)
  • Atrium $6,000 – $20,000 (interior room with a glass roof but with existing walls incorporated)

I reached out to some other contractors to get a sense of the Pros and Cons before launching into a sunroom build.

South Amboy – $849,000

Franklin Twp – $639,000

2 Sand Piper Drive

Lighthouse Bay Waterfront Community with spectacular views. Corner lot, relaxing open front porch, private yard with spacious paver patio.

368 Windfall Lane

55+ Gated Community, 3 BR & 3 full baths in this 3,000 sq. ft. home. Minutes from transportation, theater, fine dining, golf & state park trails.


✓ If money matters (and it always does), there are many practical ways to control costs, the biggest being whether you want a three- or four-season sunroom.

✓ If value-added matters, the average return on investment should be at least half of what you spend.

✓ If your mood needs lifting and your immune system needs boosting, then the Vitamin D of natural sunlight brought indoors can be healing both mentally and physically.

✓ If your green thumb aches for more time outdoors, then you can extend your year-round gardening pleasure by moving indoors.

✓ Versatility—whether for family fun or for private meditation and reverie, your sunroom can be designed accordingly.


✓ By adding value, you might be facing not only an increase in property taxes, but there might also be a rate hike in your insurance premiums. Best to check ahead.

✓ Higher utility bills are inevitable, especially when four-season comforts are included.

✓ If lack of privacy is a concern, you may end up installing blinds, drapes or other window treatments.

✓ A three-season sunroom will become uncomfortable when temperatures plummet outside, requiring some type of auxiliary heating in order to keep the sunroom open and comfortable for as long as possible.

✓ You will want to add a duct and vents to your cooling system to keep things comfortable come summer—particularly with a southern exposure.

Finally, a few thoughts on greenhouses. Although a greenhouse technically qualifies as a type of sunroom, it differs from most other types by being a far more practical structural alternative. It is revered by ardent gardeners for the protection it provides for plants, flowers and vegetables whose health (and often survival) depend on it. The focus of a typical greenhouse is on the vegetation it helps to produce, rather than on the creature comforts of the resident gardening enthusiast. Greenhouses extend and improve growing seasons by sheltering against the elements and possible pest invasions. Their primary purpose is to keep heat in, which has popularized the label hot house for any greenhouse that can maintain a temperature of 60 degrees or more throughout the year.

Greenhouses come in many styles: A-Frame, Dome, Gothic (arched), Quonset (designed in 1941 by a team of naval engineers), or Lean-To (against an existing wall of a home or garage as one side). A greenhouse decision involves analyzing pros and cons in the same way as for the grander sunroom candidates above. One benefit unique to greenhouses is keeping everything gardening-related (pots, tools, supplies) under one roof, eliminating the need for a separate storage shed. And greenhouses can deliver plants, cutting flowers and seasonal veggies whenever you want throughout the seasons.

A significant drawback, however, is that any greenhouse requires constant monitoring, maintenance and a healthy dose of TLC. Depending on its style and location, the greenhouse may also detract aesthetically from the rest of the garden. And it can get expensive in the winter if you want to keeping it operating all year round. Perhaps the best way to consider the greenhouse vs. sunroom question is this: Although both are wonderful places to be, a greenhouse is a working space, while a sunroom is a living space.


Net Results
Refuel & Recover

A plant-based training table is the key to optimizing performance.

I remember the exact moment I understood the phrase “hitting the wall.” I signed up to run a half-marathon right before my thirtieth birthday, even though I had never run more than three consecutive miles. I figured it shouldn’t be too bad—I was healthy and, just like many new (and sometimes experienced) athletes, I thought good overall nutrition would carry me through the 13.1 miles. When I did the run, I felt terrible and I couldn’t understand why. I didn’t know I needed the extra carbs and sugar that are necessary for long-distance running, and I thought I’d consumed enough water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Sports nutrition, I would come to understand, is different than general nutrition.

General nutrition is about eating the right nutrients for overall health. Sports nutrition? It has much more nuance, including nutrient timing, meal composition and hydration. Throw plant-based eating into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe (pun intended) for confusion. As a registered dietician, I admit I may be biased, but I believe that plant-based nutrition can play as important a role in performance as training. In fact, choosing the right foods at the right time can profoundly enhance your performance.

Something else I have learned is that those foods don’t have to be boring, complicated, or tasteless. Protein is the number-one concern among many plant-based athletes. If you are a tournament tennis player, an ocean swimmer, a long-distance cyclist, a serious runner like me, or just a workout monster, you may be wondering if you’re getting enough protein on a plant-based diet. Or perhaps you struggle to understand how much you need daily. Let me assure you that eating enough protein on a plant-based diet is feasible and easy.

There are a couple of calculations you need to grasp when it comes to protein, namely the relationship between portion size and protein source. Generally speaking, you may need to increase your portion sizes when cutting meat from your diet because plant-based foods tend to be lower in calories and protein than animal foods. For example, three ounces of tofu have about 10 grams of protein and 90 calories, whereas three ounces of chicken have about 20 grams of protein and 200 calories. Consequently, you need to eat double the amount of tofu to get the same nutrients as chicken. However, tofu isn’t the only source of protein on a plant-based diet. Beans and legumes, other soy products, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are also excellent sources.

Protein is one of three primary macronutrients that the body needs in significant amounts in order to provide calories and energy for basic daily functioning. The other two are carbohydrates and fat. Although foods are often categorized as “carbs” or “fats” or “proteins,” it is important to recognize that most foods contain a combination of at least two, if not all three. It’s also important to understand more about each macronutrient in order to maximize its benefits to your workout and training goals.

Another concern of athletes who fuel their performance through a plant-based diet is whether they are getting the proper amounts of micronutrients—the vitamins and minerals that come from food. There is a long list of essential vitamins and minerals, and some are less prevalent in plant-based foods. I like to refer to these as “micronutrients to watch.” The most critical are iron, calcium and vitamin B12. It requires a bit more effort to make sure you don’t end up with a deficiency in these areas, but it’s not difficult once you get into a habit of it.

The question I receive most often is, What should I eat before my workout? Which brings me to meal timing. If macronutrients are the “who” of fueling, meal timing is the “when, what, and why.” Having a solid understanding of what to eat before, during and after a workout can help you build a quick and simple meal when you don’t have time to cook. Trust me, a small tweak to your fueling routine can make a big difference. In putting together the book Planted Performance, I probably spent as much time addressing meal timing and meal plans for different types of training regimens— and how to incorporate recipes into your training day—as I did on the recipes themselves.

If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re either already on a plant-based diet or you’re looking to incorporate more plants into your diet and need a boost. Either way, you may suffer from the common misperception that it is difficult to put a delicious, hearty dinner on the table that fills you up without weighing you down—particularly if there are others at that table who haven’t fully embraced a plant-based diet. The fact is that you can absolutely make a well-balanced, delicious, plant-based dinner with a mixture of the three key macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat), as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

The filling meatless mains in the pages that follow will not only satisfy your taste buds, but also help you refuel and recover for tomorrow’s training.


Courtesy of Natalie Rizzo

Wild Rice and Mushroom Umami Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

These burgers combine savory ingredients with a vibrant vegetable sauce. If you prefer to use an egg in place of the flax meal mixture, go right ahead!

For the patties:

2 tablespoons flax meal

6 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1⁄2 cup diced white onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced white mushrooms

1⁄4 cup raw unsalted walnuts, finely chopped

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

11⁄2 cups cooked wild rice

1⁄2 cup panko bread crumbs

For the roasted red pepper aioli:

1⁄2 cup mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise

1⁄4 cup roasted red bell peppers

1 clove garlic

1⁄8 teaspoon salt

4 hamburger buns, for serving

Lettuce, for serving

Sliced tomato, for serving

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the patties, in a small bowl, make a flax egg by combining the flax meal and water. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens slightly.

Warm 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms, walnuts, soy sauce, and cumin and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the soy sauce reduces. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the flax egg with the vegetable mixture. Add the wild rice and bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.

Form four equal patties from the mixture and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to set.

While the burgers are setting, make the aioli. In a food processor, combine the mayonnaise, roasted red bell peppers, garlic, and salt and process until smooth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the same large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the burgers on the pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown.

To assemble, place the patties on buns, then top with aioli, lettuce, and tomatoes. Serve right away or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes 4 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour to chill Cook Time: 15 minutes


Courtesy of Natalie Rizzo

Sweet Potato and Black Beans Enchiladas

Enchiladas may seem like a complicated dish but making them at home is easier than you think. Feel free to use vegan cheese or leave off the cheese entirely.

1 sweet potato, cut into large chunks

1 cup chopped cauliflower (about 1⁄2 small head)

1⁄3 cup diced red onion, plus more for serving

1 tablespoon diced jalapeño, plus slices for serving

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin

1⁄4 teaspoon salt

1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

6 (8- to 10-inch) soft flour tortillas

1⁄2 cup salsa verde

1⁄2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, Mexican cheese blend, or vegan cheddar

Diced red onion, for serving

Sliced jalapeño, for serving

Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potato and cook for 20 minutes, until fork tender. Drain the water and set the sweet potato aside. Remove the skins from the sweet potatoes and place the flesh in a large bowl. Mash the flesh with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, onion, jalapeño, garlic, vegetable oil, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir until well combined. Spread the cauliflower mixture on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Transfer the roasted cauliflower back to the large bowl. Add the black beans and lime juice and stir well.

Lay each tortilla flat and fill the middle of each tortilla with the vegetable mixture before rolling them up.

Place half of the salsa to the bottom of a 9×13-inch casserole dish. Place each filled tortilla in the casserole dish with the rolled part facing down. Add the remaining half of salsa and the cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is fully melted.

Remove the enchiladas from the oven and garnish with red onion, jalapeños, and cilantro. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Makes 4 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 1 hour


Courtesy of Natalie Rizzo

Greens and Beans Soup

White beans are a standout ingredient in this soup due to their nutrition profile. Not only are they a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, they are also an excellent source of iron and folate, two nutrients necessary for blood and brain health.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 stalks celery, chopped (1/2 cup)

2 carrots, chopped (3⁄4 cup)

¼ white onion, diced (¼ cup)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped artichoke hearts

1 teaspoon dried rosemary 3⁄4 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon dried thyme

2 (15.5 oz / 439 g) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup water0
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups packed packed chopped stemmed kale

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Warm the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and artichoke hearts and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent. Add the rosemary, salt and thyme, and stir. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the beans, broth, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it has reached a very chunky consistency; you should still be able to see full beans and vegetables. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer half of the soup to a blender and blend, then put it back in the stockpot with the remaining soup.

Add the kale to the pot, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes, until the kale is wilted. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 7 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Heat before serving.

Makes 4 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes

The benefits of plant-based diets, including vegetarian and vegan diets, have been well studied for their role in disease prevention and overall health. They are rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, soy, seeds and whole grains, and contain plenty of beneficial nutrients—including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that Americans consume two-thirds of their dietary intake from vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. In the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, vegetarian diets are recommended as one of three healthy dietary patterns.

Vegetarian diets also improve several heart-disease risk factors, including abdominal obesity, blood pressure, blood lipids and blood glucose. What’s more, for those who suffer from risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, a vegetarian diet may reduce cholesterol levels, decrease markers of inflammation, protect against plaque formation in the arteries and improve heart health without the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Consequently, vegetarians have a reduced risk of developing (and dying from) heart disease. Researchers attribute these benefits to the abundance of fiber and the scarcity of saturated fat in vegetarian and vegan diets. Additionally, compared with meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cancer, especially gastrointestinal cancer. EDGE

Editor’s Note: Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, has been a vegetarian for more than a decade and a competitive runner for almost as long. Her new book Planted Performance: Easy Plant-Based Recipes, Meal Plans, and Nutrition for All Athletes (NewSeed Press, 2023) simplifies complex sports nutrition information and contains chapters on meal plans, pre-workout breakfasts and lunches, hearty dinners, side dishes and desserts. Portions of this story and all three recipes appear in her book. Natalie is the owner of, a plant-based sports nutrition blog and podcast. She has written for numerous sports and fitness publications and frequently appears in television segments on health and wellness.


The Breath of Fresh Air Issue