Friday, December 26, 2014

The Sound Of I Hand Clapping

Monday, December 22, 2014
As I watched football over the weekend, I was reminded that the 49th Super Bowl was coming on February 1, 2015. However, in the world of grandiosity that is professional sports and the National Football League particularly, we are looking forward to Super Bowl XLIX. It does look so much more important that way, after all. You can almost hear the sound of the chisel chipping into the granite.

However, it is the system of labeling that interests me – Roman numerals. It’s been a very long time since I learned about Roman numerals, but I am still able to read and write them easily. On the other hand, I don’t think that I ever knew how to add and subtract Roman numerals.

Now, it is specifically how the next Super Bowl is denominated that interests me. Why isn’t Super Bowl IL looming 6 weeks from now, instead of Super Bowl XLIX? If IV = 4 and IX = 9, why shouldn’t IL = 49? This is the sort of question that Google has ruined. I could (but won’t) look it up, tout suite. Once upon a time, however, several otherwise sensible people would spend hours debating the wisdom of the Roman numeral rules, offering varying theories of their origin and utility. Now, we Google it as soon as the topic arises, settling the issue and leaving idle hours to fill with silly pursuits and amusements.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Headline: "U.S. Economy Grew 5% in Third Quarter, Its Fastest Rate in More Than a Decade"
It must be some African Socialist mumbo-jumbo.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Last night, I went to Madison Square Garden to see the Rangers win their seventh game in a row. However, the most interesting part of the evening occurred before the game began. The Garden starts its hockey games with the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, joined by O Canada when one of the six Canadian teams are playing. A color guard accompanies the evening’s singer and, last night, the color guard was from the New York City Police Department. The applause was longer and louder than I ever heard in the Garden before. Then, spontaneous chants of N Y P D arose. Was it a tribute to the two cops assassinated by a mad man last week, a tragedy for the victims and their families, as well as for the fabric of the city, or was it a choosing of sides? I don’t know, so I stood without clapping or chanting.

Thanh Hoai 1, 73 Mulberry Street, opened five days ago, replacing Pho Viet Huong, another Vietnamese restaurant. A welcoming dragon is scheduled for this Sunday, in my absence. The premises, inside and out, have been thoroughly renovated. The walls are faux brick, and the room is meant to resemble the inside of a hut, admittedly a faux brick sided hut. The ceiling was painted sky blue with floating clouds of graffiti. The joint is quite roomy. There are nine tables large enough for six people with a heater embedded in the tabletop for hot pot preparations. Additionally, there are 10 two tops, 5 four tops and one round table. However, when I sat down, near one o’clock, I was the only customer. Before I left, fortunately, another 15 or so people arrived, including three female generations of a Vietnamese family.

The menu is large and diverse, but, having come through a cold rain, I ordered Dac Biet + Bo Vien (diacritics omitted) ($7.75), a big bowl of rice noodle beef soup, with slices of beef, sausage, and miscellaneous parts of a cow (?), the traditional Pho. It was good, filling and warming. I’ll continue exploring the menu next year.

Thursday, December 25, 2104
Yesterday, within seconds, I received the article below from our lovely neighbor directly across the hall and the Cindy in Florida. Many more copies arrived before the day was over.
There was an immediate reaction to this article offering a warning that our non-holiday traditions are now threatened by Gentiles going to the movies and eating Chinese food on December 25th.

It turns out that today the Upper West Side’s Power Couple followed this well-established tradition by joining Burt and Gerri, he from Stuyvesant days, and some of their friends at Fortune House, 82 Henry Street, Brooklyn. In fact, our group numbered 17 people, only one of whom not old enough to collect Social Security. The place was full, mostly of larger than normal groups of the Hebraic persuasion, gathered to celebrate the absence of celebration.

We ate a lot, three Peking ducks ($28), spare ribs ($8.95), scallion pancakes ($3.50) were ordered for the table. Additionally, folks got other dishes, offering them to those nearby. I thus added beef chow fun ($6.95), fish fillet in black bean sauce ($10.50) and eggplant in garlic sauce ($8.25). I let a few other dishes go by, as well. If you are in the neighborhood at lunch time, Fortune House offers over 30 lunch specials, mostly at $6, including rice and soup or soda. Oddly, mustard or duck sauce are 25¢ extra.

Friday, December 26, 2014
I went to work today, Boxing Day "traditionally celebrated the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradespeople would receive gifts, known as a ‘Christmas box’, from their bosses or employers," per Wikipedia. Having distributed envelopes rather than boxes to the staff at Palazzo di Gotthelf earlier this week, I had no reason to linger on the grounds today.

And, I wasn't the only one not boxed in today.  When I left Wo Hop, 17 Mott Street, at 1:30 PM, there were 19 people waiting to get in, lining the stairs and out onto the sidewalk.  Unlike yesterday, there were no evident ethnic distinctions.  We were back to being one big, happy family, or not.

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