Friday, December 27, 2013

That's (Not) Entertainment

Monday, December 23, 2013
Those of us around here are still marveling at this weekend’s weather.  Saturday, a record high of 64°, topped by Sunday at 71°.  The start of Winter, and the shortest day of the year, acting like Spring.  It was unsettling.

The weather started returning to normal on this very quiet day starting a very quiet week in the dispensing of justice business.  Befittingly, I had a simple lunch at Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street.  However, I’ll take the time now to extol one feature of Wo Hop that I have ignored in describing my myriad past visits, that is, the mustard.  Along with tea (in a glass) and water, your Wo Hop waiter invariably puts down a small dish of mustard, real hot mustard.  More than a 1/4" dab will cause the normal adult human being to choke, gasping for air and cool relief, which means that a smaller amount adds a welcome kick to most dishes, especially the classic, Chinatown Cantonese food Wo Hop typically serves.  Unlike some people, I’m not ordinarily devoted to very hot food, such as vindaloo curry.  But, some Wo Hop mustard in a bowl of won ton soup or on a mound of shrimp fried rice memorably elevates the taste sensation.  Unfortunately, those little plastic packages of mustard packed in with your normal Chinese takeout food lack the necessary pungency, and often appear to be left over from a previous dynasty.  I haven’t inquired of the provenance of Wo Hop’s mustard, whether mixed on the premises or delivered in 55 gallon drums from across the Pacific or maybe just from across the East River.

Speaking of geography, the New York Times has a fascinating quiz on the geographic differences in American speech and vocabulary.  In other words, where do you talk like.  After answering the 25 questions, it identified me as a New Yorker (Surprise! Surprise!), by vocabulary and pronunciation.  For instance:
“Do you pronounce cot and caught the same?”
“What do you call the thing from which you might drink water in a school?  Bubbler, water bubbler, drinking fountain, water fountain, other.”
Try it and see it if you are where you belong.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Today, and next Tuesday, are days which the State of New York encourages us to stay away from our workplaces, using vacation days.  I am complying and getting things done – a haircut late morning and then a visit to the New York Public Library’s performing arts branch, on the grounds of Lincoln Center, to see their exhibition of Al Hirschfeld’s work.  It is a comprehensive look at his career, full of familiar and unfamiliar delights.  However, I regret not visiting it sooner, in order to give myself time to make successive visits, and, to urge you to get over there before the January 4th closing.  I’m also motivated to take stock of my Hirschfeld holdings, not only my handful of drawings, but the books, posters, postage stamps and the like that I have collected over the decades, and then figure out what to do with them.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Weeks ago, we bought tickets for Domesticated, a new play at Lincoln Center, to help fill these nights where we will not be trimming trees, wrapping packages or guiding sleighs to welcoming chimneys.  Last night, we strolled the three blocks from Palazzo di Gotthelf to Lincoln Center with plenty of time to spare to make the 8 o’clock curtain.  However, we were surprised to find the theater’s lobby empty when we arrived save two ushers and one bartender.  Well, I jocularly said, everybody must be home trimming trees, wrapping packages or guiding sleighs to welcoming chimneys.  Not really.  Sometime in the recent past, theater management decided to push up the curtain time to 7 o’clock to accommodate the audience’s holiday schedule.  Apparently, every other ticket holder was made aware of this change, probably to avoid the embarrassment of a lobby full of grumbling Westchesterites or Long Islanders showing up at the wrong hour which had recently been the right hour.  Somehow, there seems to have been a communications dead spot in the immediate vicinity of Lincoln Center, and we proceeded innocently at the appointed hour, only to find that it was the disappointed hour.  The man at the box office gave us excellent seats for an upcoming performance with a straight face, at least in our presence.

I must admit that, up until this morning, I was unconcerned about the earnings of professional equestrians.  While there is an abundance of information on the industry/careers/opportunities in this field (see e.g., ), actual income data is sketchy.  One web site,, says that the average annual salary is currently $62,000.  Of course, there are several different jobs for a professional equestrian.  You might be a horse trainer, a riding instructor, a barn manager or a show jumper, which apparently is where the big money is.  According to the May 2, 2011 issue of ESPN The Magazine, in 2010, McLain Ward earned $1,280,788, the top among men, and Laura Kraut, the top among women at $627,907.  Of course, they were the best and I’m worried about the also-rans, or maybe appropriately called the also-jumped.

It’s a brief article in today’s newspaper that stirred my interest.  I learned that Georgina Bloomberg and Ramiro Quintana had a baby boy.  Ms. Bloomberg is Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s daughter, and she and Mr. Quintana are identified as professional equestrians.  They are not married.  So, I have to conclude that, as professional equestrians, they could neither afford the $35 fee for a New York City marriage license, nor even $13.49 at Walgreen’s for a dozen Kimono Textured Lubricated Latex Condoms.  Therefore, in the spirit of the season, please join me in a fund-raising effort for the young couple.  Let’s try to make sure that their child is raised in a financially-sound household with both parents present and married, able to expand their family by design, not chance.

Thursday, December 26, 2013
So, how did we like American Hustle?  Let me explain to you.  When we decided to go to a movie on Christmas Day, we knew that this wasn't the most original idea and we could expect large crowds with the same thought.  Therefore, this past Sunday without leaving home, I chose to buy tickets in advance from Fandango, assuring us that we would have seats for the 3:50 show, joined by Jill and Steve, our intrepid traveling companions.  When I presented the computer-printed certificate representing four admissions at the theater yesterday, the scanner rejected it.  When I handed the certificate to the lady at the customer service desk – this is a big establishment – she said, "Oh, this is for Sunday."  "No, no.  I got it on the computer on Sunday, for today."  Well, yes and no.  I went on line and paid on Sunday, asking for tickets for Wednesday.  The computer apparently had other plans.  Of course, that showing of American Hustle and every other reasonable alternative for hours afterwards were completely sold out.  Without an actual ticket, not some stupid certificate, no one was getting in.  The lady gave me four passes to be traded for tickets any time in the next two years.  So, that’s how we liked American Hustle.

To summarize the past two days, the message apparently from on high is for my young bride and I to amuse ourselves over this holiday.

I’m at work today and I just received any interesting e-mail message from Trip Advisor (, a web site that I use when planning travel, especially to unfamiliar places.  They’ve come up with some interesting lists from churning the many millions of submissions that they’ve received, and I love lists.  The top 10 cities visited this year are, in order, London, Rome, Paris, New York, Las Vegas, Barcelona, Orlando, Milan, Florence, and Bangkok, based on almost 460,000 London reviews to over 115,000 for Bangkok.  I’ve been to 8 of the 10.  And you?

Friday, December 27, 2013
My work day was enhanced by a visit from Kaylah M., a ninth-grader whom I met when conferring with Sonia Sotomayor at City College.  Kaylah is interested in a legal career and, even though things are very quiet around here in this holiday period, she wanted to get an introductory look at our court system.  We walked around, finding a few folk to talk to, and then went over to 100 Centre Street to see some criminal arraignments.  I viewed this time as an investment.  If I need a lawyer in the future, my decrepit contemporaries will probably not have the energy to pull my chestnuts out of the fire, no less rise from their seats.


  1. How mid-century of you to worry about the unwed status of Ms. Bloomberg and Mr. Quintana. Did you ever consider that perhaps this was a planned pregnancy and that, like many others today, they have chosen not to marry? In Britain, we found co-habitation to be much more the norm than marriage among the people we met, of all ages. Here in the US, while it has long been acceptable in entertainment and professional sports to forgo a ring before having a child, it is now happening more and more in academia and non. Nearly half of all children are now born "out of wedlock" to use a quaint term, and more than a third of women between the ages of 30 and 35 remain unmarried (with or without child). Most of those seeking to marry are women from the upper 5% who are seeking a man to keep them in the manner to which they are accustomed and pregnant couples who feel pressured by their parent(s) to "do the right thing" My photos from several weddings during the past year with very pregnant brides or of the newborns of long- term couples still unmarried (or of my gay friends who chose surrogacy or adoption) are evidence of the new normal.