Friday, June 20, 2014

To A Tee

Monday, June 16, 2014
Run, don’t walk to the 59E59 Theater for its annual Brits Off Broadway festival. This year, it features three works by Alan Ayckbourn, the brilliant British playwright of contemporary manners and mores. Saturday afternoon, we saw Time of My Life, a sad (but very funny) tale of a family falling apart. As Ayckbourn often does, there is time shifting, before and after the central event, a birthday party for the matriarch. All action occurs in the same place, a restaurant featuring some obscure ethnic cuisine, where the dishes remain unknown to the customers in spite of their regular patronage, even as their duties seem entirely unknown to the serving staff. Two other Ayckbourn plays are scheduled in this series, and we have tickets to them, as well. All three works will be on through June 29th. Go. See. Them.

I was showered with good wishes for Father’s Day, but I missed on the prize gifts identified in T, the hyper-glitzy supplemental Sunday magazine of the New York Times. The story’s sub-heading tells it all: "The humble T-shirt becomes a stylish message board thanks to flashy type and aggressive graphics." Of course, nothing humble remains in the items illustrating the article, T-shirts from Givenchy, Alexander McQueen and the like, priced from $140 to $3,000, and typically available only in sizes for the undernourished. That buys you one T-shirt, mind you. So, you can choose the item immediately below from Calvin Klein for $550, complete with ink stain, or, below that, one of my humble favorites for $21.95 from


If one wishes to clothe the naked while displaying exemplary good taste, I suggest that you avoid the fashion pages of the New York Times and stick to the sports section. 

Wretched excess was not limited to the price of T-shirts this weekend. The Times had a story about preparation for (high snob appeal) college admission. I was drawn to Application Boot Camp®, "in which roughly 25 to 30 kids will be tucked away for four days in a hotel to work with a team of about eight editors on . . . as many as 10 drafts of each of three to five different essays." The candidates also "develop an application strategy" and "receive advice on their odds at top colleges" during their internment, according to the outfit’s web site. The price for this experience is $14,000, T-shirts extra.

What was a Japanese solar panel company doing filming a television commercial today on the plaza opposite the courthouse where they were situated to leave the iconic courthouse steps out of the picture? I sure couldn’t tell you.

You might want to read this article:
It turns out that judges are human, after all.   

Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Happy Birthday to America’s Favorite Epidemiologist as she grows younger each year. I understand that a manicure will be one of the benchmarks of today’s festivities. I mention that because my first impression upon meeting this scientific lady in 1996 was how nice her fingernails were considering that she must spend all day at a laboratory bench. I soon learned that her work was done primarily at a computer keyboard, but even that can be hard on your nail polish. In any case, she maintains close attention to her fingertips to this day.

For the first 2 ½ years after I relocated to the big courthouse on Centre Street, I sat in the office right next to Cindy’s. She had a niece born on the exact same day as Boaz. Her husband was a big Rangers fan, and I met them at Madison Square Garden a couple of times, although he and I were never able to find a convenient time to go to a game together. I asked her advice when I confessed to her that I can’t dance, but would really like to learn because my wife enjoys it so much. Her suicide shocked me as it must have anyone who knew her. Her postpartum depression evidently rose to psychosis and led to her terrible end. Friends, family, professionals all came to her aid, reassuring her of her qualities as a person and a mother. What else was needed to save her?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The hottest day of the year so far, expected to reach 90. This did not deter the cool guys in the Boyz Club meeting for dim sum at 88 Palace, 88 East Broadway, one of the largest and busiest restaurants in Chinatown. I was annoyed at first when I walked in, told them I needed a table for eight and they steered me to the furthest end of the restaurant. I pointed to the big, better decorated center section, that was mostly empty, and moved in that direction. No, No, as I was escorted back to the back. After several Harumphs, I figured out that a party was being held in the coveted area, as a stream of people with red sashes or tunics filed in. Soon, we could all hear drums, cymbals and bagpipes from that part of the restaurant even as my crew began to consume countless plates of familiar and unfamiliar items. Our conversation wandered all over the place, from Eddie Cantor’s family tree to the value of whistleblower law suits. The only subject that all agreed upon was the likelihood that the bill for just under $64 was in error. 

Friday, June 20, 2014
Last night, we saw Farcicals, a second Alan Ayckbourn work at Brits Off Broadway.  True to its title it was broad and bawdy.  That Alan sure is a card.

The World Cup serves to remind us of how civilized the good old USA is compared to so much of the known world, at least in our ability to avoid rioting before, during and after a major sports event.  While Ranger fans were unhappy at the results of the Stanley Cup finals, we left the streets of New York free of burning tires, overturned motor vehicles, broken shop windows and bruised and battered fellow citizens.  Last year's baseball season ended in disappointment for both local teams.  All that resulted, however, were Yankee fans repeating their deeply embedded claims of entitlement, while Mets fans slinked off to dark rooms yet again.  No looting, no arson, no mass arrests.  Do we have a form of attention deficit disorder when it comes to our teams?  Or, as I have suggested recently, do we have too much to pay attention to?  Mets, Rangers, Giants, Knicks to be devoted to, making sure to leave time to disparage the local alternatives, no less the evil spirits in the uniforms of the Atlanta Braves, Dallas Cowboys, Boston Bruins, et alia.  Venceremos!        

A final word on competition, especially the World Cup.  I admit to peeking in every so often, especially when only baseball is available on television right now.  I have to give credit to those guys running back and forth chasing that ball.  I was never a runner, so even if soccer had been invented when I was a boy, it wouldn't have been my sport.  Watching the Ecuador-Honduras match, even as I write these comments, I've gained great insight into the exaggerated, crazed behavior of soccer fans.  Honduras scored a goal towards the end of the first half.  Get this -- It was the first goal that Honduras scored in World Cup competition in 32 years.  Not the first victory (the game is still on at 7:22 Eastern Daylight Time), but the first goal.  It makes the almost 28 years that Mets fans have been waiting to win a World Series seem like a blink of the eye.  At least, we made it to the World Series again in 2000, and some seasons we won more games than we lost.  We have a drought, for sure, but there has been some evidence of our existence in these too many years.  Honduras last scored a goal in Ronald Reagan's first term.  I'd be crazy, too.

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