Friday, June 13, 2014

Play Ball

Monday, June 9, 2014
Can you do this? Can you earn $141,949,280 running a business while it loses money year after year? Do you have the qualifications to take in $141,949,280 when your company’s total revenue is $267,213,000? That’s what Charif Souki of Cheniere Energy, Inc. is doing, placing him at the top of a list of chief executive’s compensation published in the Times yesterday.

It’s not that 2013 was a singular bad year for Cheniere. It hasn’t made money since 2005, the earliest financial report that I was able to find. Of course, the apologists for rapacious greed will claim that you have to pay Souki to keep him from jumping ship. Well, I say let him jump to a competitor’s ship and do for it what he has done for Cheniere.

And, why can’t he take a few centimes off the top and hire some folks who might know how to make money. If this is the market at work, to Hell with the market. It’s clearly not efficient; it only serves rapacious greedsters, not the public, not members of the company (with one notable exception). Talk about job creation? How about Souki earning a mere $5 million annually, and use the other $136,949,280 to hire 1,369 engineers, geologists, secretaries and computer geeks, averaging $100,000 a year, leaving almost $50,000 for a nice company picnic.

I’m just a sentimental slob at times. So, I was moved when I read about the upcoming wedding of L. P., a Broadway assistant director, and J. R., an actor who most recently appeared in a film entitled 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), playing the part of Suicide, listed in the credits just above Woman with Coat. The bride-to-be told the New York Times, "It was about tradition." Mind you, she was not talking about wearing some cherished heirloom as part of her bridal outfit, or carrying a family bible, or holding the ceremony in a symbolic location. It’s the cake, the $3,000 wedding cake, five tiers, incorporating the wedding’s white and pink colors. I could not think of anything more traditional to symbolize the marriage of these two marginal show business figures than a $3,000 wedding cake. I imagine that the plan is to keep a lot of leftover cake in the freezer in case their dreams of stardom somehow go unrealized.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Happy 30th anniversary to Burt and Geri, a statistically-improbable but long-thriving couple.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I had one bright sports light last night when I saw the Mets neatly beat the second best team in the National League. The Mets were particularly efficient with solid pitching, excellent fielding and clutch hitting, finishing the game in less than three hours, an increasingly rare phenomenon. Where once a normal baseball game could be completed in a bit over two hours, today, with the demands of television, and the seeming inability of pitchers and batters to conquer jock itch, games are stretching towards four hours, which, as a Mets fan, means extended agony.

I had another bright light today, when Stony Brook Steve came downtown for lunch. We went to West New Malaysia Restaurant, 46-48 Bowery, in the arcade connecting to Elizabeth Street. We shared a particularly good beef with orange flavor, pricey at $13.95, but worth it when matched with Indonesian fried rice ($7.95), spicier than the usual versions.

Thursday, June 12, 2014
While unconfirmed at present, it seems that Eric Cantor, Republican Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, upset in the Republican primary Tuesday, will likely follow in his grandfather Eddie Cantor’s footsteps and pursue a career in show business. Eric, not heretofore known to be as animated as his performing grandfather, is apparently poised to reach out to humorists, choreographers and song writers, with an eye to offering an act with updated versions of some of Eddie’s hit songs, such as "Makin’ Whoopee," "If You Knew Susie," "Ma! He’s Makin’ Eyes at Me," and "How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?)". Cantor is expected to sign a contract with the William Morris Agency in the next few days.

Cold sesame noodles. I knew that’s what I wanted for lunch, although I haven’t been delighted by it too often in Chinatown. I entered 456 Shanghai Cuisine, 69 Mott Street, when I saw cold sesame noodles on the menu hung outside, usually having been pleased by 456 previously (October 15, 2010, September 19, 2011, October 10, 2012, July 11, 2013). This time, however, I can only muster an adequate for the very generous portion served for $3.75. Some noodles were stuck together and the sesame sauce was weak and sparse. The tea, at no extra charge, was very good, and the airconditioning was refreshing on this muggy day.

Friday, June 13, 2014
We know that Republicans have been so concerned about the quality of American democracy that they have been promoting and enacting legislation to protect access to the electoral process, guarding against voter fraud. I suggest that they take it a step further and control access to elections by candidates as vigorously as they control access by voters. After all, the potential harm of one bad candidate far outweighs the potential harm of possibly numerous bad voters. And, the Republicans can take on this campaign without requiring the assistance of obstructionist Democrats, you know the type who pledged themselves to limiting Barack Obama to a two-term presidency. The Republicans, ever frugal, don’t even have to invest in developing a test for their own candidates’ competency; they can use the test applied to Donald Sterling, controversial owner of basketball’s Los Angeles Clippers. According to reports, the test asks the subject to spell "world" backwards, count down from 100 by 7s, and draw a clock. Some Republican strategists are recommending a less time-consuming test, focussing on some of the same tested elements: "God created the _ _ _ _ _ in _ days."

I went to New Mandarin Court, 61 Mott Street, knowing it to be a reliable source of both a limited dim sum selection and regular dishes at lunchtime (April 12, 2010, July 13, 2010, November 16, 2010, July 7, 2011, May 11, 2012, April 29, 2013).  After I ate shu mei, shrimp dumplings, vegetable dumplings ($2.50 per plate) and two banana leaf-wrapped lumps of sticky rice ($3.50), I found that I was in a new restaurant, Golden Mandarin Court, the third iteration at this address.  Not all the signage has changed, and, admittedly, there were few differences, if any, that I noticed.  But, add one to the count.  

A case is now proceeding upstate New York concerning a male teacher and soccer coach who was fired after admitting having sex with two former female students many years earlier, several years apart. There are some interesting wrinkles to the case; each girl had graduated and was 18 years old at the time of the incidents, when the teacher was 28 and 31 respectively. I found particularly fascinating the New York Law Journal’s report that he had sex with two former team members "after taking them to New York Mets games in 1989 and 1993." I simply never recognized the aphrodisiacal qualities of my favorite baseball team.  What have I been missing?

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