Friday, November 27, 2015

Turkey Hash

Monday, November 23, 2015
Yesterday's New York Times had an interesting letter from Thomas H. Wright, emeritus vice president and secretary of Princeton University, dealing with the value of education.  He wrote: "There is substantial evidence that the more exposure to higher education that people today have received, the less likely they are to be susceptible to demagogy and denial of evidence and proven facts; and they are more capable of changing their prejudice-based opinions, and in general better prepared to join in the long effort to make a better world out of the crooked timber of humanity"  He does not cite any evidence, but what comes to my mind are: Ted Cruz - Princeton University, Ben Carson - Yale University, Carly Fiorina - Stanford University.  As for really crooked timber, I'll skip you-know-who, University of Pennsylvania.

November 22nd was the 52nd anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, a day that remains vivid to me as it probably does to most of you who were adults at the time.  I imagine that the 9/11 will have the same staying power to younger generations.  The Kennedy assassination raised immediate short-lived fears of some sort of conspiracy that threatened other national leaders.  However, sitting in Ithaca, New York, I did not fear for the physical safety of the country, although its political future seemed muddy at the time.  9/11, the first time that foreign forces did measurable harm in the continental US, left the Home of the Brave in continuing fear and produced a legacy of oppressive measures, official and unofficial, that continue to diminish our quality of life.  Right now, it is too soon to measure the impact of the latest attack on Paris and related events, but I doubt that it will produce a flourish of liberty, equality and fraternity.

The Wehrmacht, the combined Nazi armed forces, had more that 12,000,000 people in service, at its peak in 1944.

Compare that to the 8 or 9 Paris attackers 10 days ago, probably backed up with an equal number of fanatics, and the 2 or 3 people who attacked the hotel in Mali.  Clearly, the power of modern personal weaponry and instantaneous worldwide communications have, at least temporarily, amplified the perceived threat to ordinary people to an irrational level.  I'm sure that the stiff upper lips of Londoners exposed to nightly bombings in WWII occasionally quivered.  We saw how Earl Warren, later a dignified and righteous figure in American jurisprudence, hastened to intern American citizens because of their Japanese ancestry.  Stress or threat may well cloud one's judgment.  Some of our politicians, no doubt in tune with their constituents, seem poised to reerect the stockades.  I notice that many of those who advocate limiting the freedom of both the general public and certain population subsets, are usually ready to carve out a large domain of freedom for gun bearers.  What a formula for chaos.

I was fortunate to have Alan Silverman, an original member of the All-Alan Chorus, join me for lunch.  I had not seen Alan for one whole granddaughter of his.  As you know, J. Alfred Prufrock measured his life out with coffee spoons.  Some of us are fortunate enough now to measure our lives out with grandchildren.  We went to Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, 11 Mott Street, now a regular stop on my Chinatown perambulations.  Since I wanted Alan to be pleased, I ordered some familiar things that I have enjoyed already, and a couple of new dishes, to wit: roti wrap chicken, roti wrap beef (those fat burritos stuffed with curry chicken and rendang beef served with that delicious buttery curry sauce), Thai beef salad (charcoal-grilled beef in a very spicy chili, mint, onion, lime dressing) and char keow teow (lo mein-like rice noodles cooked with chicken, eggs, chives, lap cheong [Chinese sausage] and bean sprouts).  As it turned out, both Alans were thoroughly pleased.   

Ted Cruz wants to limit the American acceptance of Syrian refugees to Christians.  Even as a Jew, I am willing to abide with this policy if properly administered.  Not all Christians are created equal, after all.  Significant bloodshed has accompanied intra-Christian rivalries from Martin Luther through the Irish Republican Army.  Therefore, let us limit our welcome to Methodists.  While I admittedly do not know or understand the doctrinal differences among Christians, I like the sound of Methodists, Methodism, Methodical.  Those are the sort of folk that we need to make this country great again, like it was 10 years ago.  Please note that I don’t expect this exclusionary policy to be retroactive, returning the Gotthelfs to downtown Zuromin, Poland, a town about 75 miles northwest of Warsaw, population 8,647 (2006).   

Speaking of getting it backwards, British movie theaters are rejecting a prayerful advertisement produced by the Church of England.  Now, if all those annoying ads that are shown while we await the start of a film could be eliminated, I would be delighted.  I am not going to drink $4 cups of watered-down Coca-Cola no matter how cute the polar bears are.  However, “campaigners for a secular society argued that if the advertisement were shown, other religious groups might by law gain the right to have their material distributed in the same way.”  Which is exactly the idea.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Don’t say that you weren’t warned.  “When we were young, you would never show your underwear,” the designer Tommy Hilfiger said recently, referring to an era when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.  “Now, if you don’t show your underwear, you’re just not cool.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Now, this is cool.

Examining Google flight searches, the New York Times graphically displays prospective Thanksgiving travel patterns.  While the prototypical Thanksgiving scene includes a blazing fire in an autumnal setting, in fact, favored destinations for holiday travelers are Orlando, Miami and Las Vegas.  Where are people leaving from?  Boston, Washington and Atlanta.  

Speaking of travelers, we welcomed America’s Loveliest Nephrologist and the Oakland Heartthrob to the Palazzo di Gotthelf late last night for a holiday visit.  

Jihadist violence has taken 28 lives in the United States since 9/11 (not counting the dead perps).  As illustrated by an article today, 9 of the perps were born in the USA, 5 were naturalized citizens, 2 had green cards, one had a tourist visa, and one, a British citizen, did not require a visa. 

Sorry to disappoint Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and other Freedom Fighters, but none of the bad guys was a refugee.  In all this posturing about the sanctity of our borders and the safety of our citizens, the same blowhards continue to ignore some facts (lots of facts actually) about the toll taken by domestic, white, Gentile terrorists, about twice as deadly as foreign and domestic Muslims since 9/11.  Note that, so far, all of our terrorists have been male, whatever their skin shade or religion.   

The worst omission by our bold patriots is the number of Americans killed by guns, homicides, suicides and accidents, at least 33,636 in 2013 (the latest year available).

If you libertarians wish to eliminate the remarkably high number of suicides from this tally (freedom of choice and all that), gun homicides and accidents killed 12,461 people in 2013.  What shall we do about it?  Repeat after me:  U-S-A!  U-S-A!  We’re #1! 

Friday, November 26, 2015
I think that everybody but you was here yesterday for Thanksgiving dinner, prepared with exquisite care and producing wonderful results by my young bride.  I have always enjoyed the turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes heaped on my plate.  As is widely known, I am a pulke person (pulke = drumstick in Yiddish), so our turkey came with 5 pulkes, 2 original equipment and 3 after-market accessories.

Friday, November 20, 2015

What Did That Used To Be Called?

Monday, November 16, 2015
The New York Giants played a football game yesterday that went back and forth. In the end, the Giants defeated two teams – the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

If you read this headline, you have to read the story that follows.
"Jack Yufe, a Jew Whose Twin Was a Nazi, Dies at 82"

We are faced with many politicians, and ordinary citizens, calling for us to get tough with ISIS. Rarely do they offer any specifics to go with their aggressive posturing. I offer a three-pronged approach to this very difficult challenge:
1) Anyone proposing taking the battle to ISIS will be conscripted to be among the first boots on the ground. If unable to serve, their adult children or grandchildren will serve in their stead.
2) Increase taxes on the wealthy, those who have the most to lose, in order to raise military preparedness – supplies and pay – to its highest levels. Let’s not send unarmored Humvees into harm’s way again.
3) Attack inequality at home to prevent the growth of a radical underclass.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
I did something today that I haven’t done for years -- I had Chinese food for lunch . . . not in Chinatown. But, let is begin this story last night. I was enjoying a new cookie from Trader Joe's, their version of Pepperidge Farm’s Milano, probably the best mass produced cookie in the Western Hemisphere. As I customarily did with almost every chocolate dessert, I had put it in the freezer. As I bit into the frozen cookie, I was surprised to find a nut, until I realized that the cookie had a smooth Belgian chocolate filling, no nuts. Tooth. Not the baker’s, mine. 

After several hours in the office this morning, I went to one member of my dental army, situated in midtown Manhattan. He looked at the small tooth fragment and found where it used to be. Since his eyes and my tongue could not detect a sharp edge where the tooth broke, we decided to leave well enough alone. So, I left the dentist’s office at 2:15 without having been charged a cent and I went looking for a place to have lunch. I skipped in order to spare the dentist having to wade through and around the flotsam and jetsam of one of my usual meals. In midtown Manhattan, there was a vast array of choices for lunch.

Lan Sheng, Szechuan Restaurant, 60 West 39th Street, is on a block with about as many restaurants as there are unsuitable Republican candidates for President. The restaurant is long and narrow, well furnished, peach-colored walls, boasting of once having had (and lost) a Michelin star. I asked for Singapore chow fun ($9.95), not on the menu, but undoubtedly available where Singapore mei fun (angel hair noodles) is listed. The waiter repeated "wide" several times and held his fingers apart to demonstrate what I was getting in case I had missed my latest Mandarin homework assignment. The large portion was excellent, loaded with chicken, shrimp, egg, bean sprouts and scallions mixed in with the spicy wide noodles. Considering the much more expensive midtown real estate, the price was quite reasonable, almost the same as Chinatown.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Now we’re talking. Jeb! spoke yesterday about the threat posed by ISIS and went boldly where his competitors have not gone. "The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force. Militarily, we need to intensify our efforts in the air — and on the ground." That’s right – Boots On The Ground. I await word that his three adult children have put themselves forward to lead the effort that ! advocates. So far, the only reaction from his Republican opponents is Donald Trump’s promise to send several copies of his New York Military Academy yearbook overseas to inspire those doing battle for Western Civilization.

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Was Shakespeare right? "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." Princeton students started a sit-in at the university’s president’s office yesterday. Their demands include the removal of Woodrow Wilson’s name from anything named after him at the university, because of his patent racism. Should we be equally vigorous regarding the commemoration of other imperfect human beings, such as, Malcolm X (criminality), Franklin D. Roosevelt (philandering) and Peter Stuyvesant (anti–Semitism)? If we are too quick to wield a paint brush, a chisel or a screwdriver to remove the signs of offensive characters from our halls and walls, we may wind up with vast spaces designated as "To Whom It May Concern."

Friday, November 20, 2015
Stony Brook Steve came by for lunch and we went to Oriental Garden, 14 Elizabeth Street (April 27, 2010), which is near the top of many people's list of favorite Chinese restaurants, including Zagat's. It gets a mention, but not a star from Michelin. and my last visit did not compel me to hurry back.  While the food is good, the room simply doesn't feel comfortable; there seems to be too much empty space.  The surprise that one woman server showed when I asked for a glass of water in addition to the pot of tea on the table added to my unease.

We ordered dim sum from a printed menu, almost all priced at $4 a dish.  A few items were coming around on a cart, but most were fetched from the kitchen.  We had scallop dumplings, chicken dumplings, chive dumplings, baked pork buns and sweet/sour spareribs.  I guess that Oriental Garden would be best at night, a large group very hungry for very good, expensive Chinese food.

Donald Trump is taking heat from Republicans and Democrats for his impulsive suggestion to institute a database for Muslims.  It smacks of Nazi Germany, of course.  Here is a much friendlier idea.  Let's put a bell around the neck of Texas Republicans to signal the approach of George W. Bush, Rick Perry or Ted Cruz.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A View From Chinatown

Monday, November 9, 2015
It’s not easy coming up with new Chinese restaurants after almost six years plodding the streets of Chinatown, but I sought and I found Sunrise Restaurant 88 (a/k/a Sunrise Chinese Restaurant), 50 Eldridge Street. 8 is a lucky number for many Chinese, so appending it here is wishful thinking.  Sunrise replaced Long Xin Restaurant (July 2, 2012), although physically they seem quite the same, a big room, with high ceilings covered in blue plastic panels painted with puffy clouds. All the tables are round, with most having heavy-duty lazy Susans in the middle. A significant difference, however, was the busyness. I reported back then that Long Xin "was fairly busy, with Chinese occupants at every table, all except the French grandmother, mother and daughter right behind me." Today, I was the only customer seated, while one person came in and out for takeout.

I ordered orange flavored beef ($8.75) and got a medium-sized portion with too much broccoli on the plate. While it was cooked while I waited, since the kitchen had little else to do, it was otherwise ordinary. I won’t mind if the sun sets on Sunrise.

Nearby was the new, large 99 Favor Taste, 285 Grand Street, the offspring of a Brooklyn establishment. I stopped in there before going on to Sunrise, but, finding that it is devoted exclusively to hot pot, I left and it is unlikely that I will ever return. To quote myself (August 20, 2014, referring to October 28, 2013), "Hot pot, as I’ve noted before, is a Chinese variant on fondue, whereby you are sure to burn your mouth, lips and tongue as well as spattering the front of your shirt/blouse with the bubbling liquid." I don’t mean to deter you, and I will pass on any interesting observations that you might provide on this joint.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Modigliani’s work "Nu Couché" sold for $170.4 million yesterday at auction, the second highest price paid at auction for an artwork.

I am satisfied enjoying it as reproduced for only the cost of a newspaper. The New York Times included this illustration in the article today about the transaction, and, over the weekend, carried a full-page advertisement for the auction almost entirely occupied by the illustration. This is near-revolutionary for the staid New York Times, to show so much female flesh, even as art. Maybe now, some of us arrested adolescents can discard old issues of the National Geographic containing revealing photographs of native villagers.

An e-mail late this afternoon told me that 2,099 people have read my Trip Advisor reviews. What a feeling of power! It’s like being a Republican candidate for president, except I am inhibited by facts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Armistice Day (Veteran’s Day) is a state holiday, no work.  However, my young bride and I had an important appointment and we were careful in our preparations and our accessorizing. We were invited to meet, for the first time, and have lunch with, the Oakland Heartthrob's parents, moving that whole Situation up to Defcon 2. I am happy to say that all went well; Mr. and Mrs. M. were delightful company and my skirt steak salad was superb.

Friday, November 13, 2015
As many of you, I often take cultural clues from the New York Times.  This morning, I am in a position to differ with its rave review of Arthur Miller's "A View From the Bridge."

"At the end of its uninterrupted two hours, you are wrung out, scooped out and so exhausted that you’re wide awake. You also feel ridiculously blessed to have been a witness to the terrible events you just saw." Is that a rave, or what?

The play is much more about individuals and their personal challenges than the Big Ideas which Miller usually addresses in "The Crucible," "Death of a Salesman," and "The Price," works that I am familiar with. The play is supposed to be driven by the emergence of a deep, disturbing obsession. However, after an opaque, wordless opening scene that could front almost any "serious" work, the secret is thrown right into our laps (by way of the laps of the lead characters). There are no more surprises after the first few minutes, as a cruel fate eventually encompasses the players. 
We saw the play less than 2 weeks ago, but I don't think that the interval between that performance and last night's opening accounted for my difference of opinion with the usually astute Times reviewer. The play came over intact from London, where it was equally celebrated, with the same cast and creative team. I acknowledge that my opinion here may not be as important or well founded as my views on scallion pancakes.

In that vein, I want to discuss Wo Hop vs. Wok Wok. I went to Wok Wok (11 Mott Street) today, on my regular weekly visit ever since it opened. Does that mean that I have abandoned my devotion to and affection for Wo Hop (17 Mott Street)? Hardly. I continue going to Wo Hop, usually once a week, Tuesday this week. I know its menu so well that I stick to some world-class favorites -- chow fun, fried rice, egg foo young, crispy fried noodles. These items  consistently evoke a silly grin of satisfaction which I don't feel the need to verbalize time after time. The menu at Wok Wok, however, still has some unexplored territory, and I try something new each visit, giving rise to commentary.

Today, I had roti wrap ($5.75) with rendang beef, "an Indonesian dish made by simmering beef for hours in coconut milk and spices until the liquid has evaporated"  ( As in last week's roti wrap with curried chicken, the delicious contents are wrapped in a flaky crêpe, nearly 6" long and 2" in diameter. It is accompanied by small bowl of buttery curry sauce for dipping and dunking and schlurping. I'm sure that I will pay more for this dish in time, and, as long as it retains its ample size and great taste, I will do so happily.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Let's Mingle

Monday, November 2, 2015
Friday night, we went to the theater with the Schneiders.  Saturday night, we sat down in our theater seats to find that we were sitting next to the Moskowitzes and directly in front of the Bergs.  Now, all of these people are charming folks and welcome company, but I am a strong believer in diversity in public and private affairs.  So, I am asking the D'Angelos, the Johnsons, the Reillys, the Changs and the Gomezes to send me some available dates in order for us to meet and mingle with folks from a different gene pool.  I'm sure that I would benefit from their ideas based on their life experiences, while they might benefit from almost 6,000 years of wisdom passed on generation-to-generation, burnished by adversity, and proven to garner high SAT scores and to have an ability to sell ladies’ clothing.

But, I'm not the only one worrying about diversity right now.  Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, agonized over the issue in the New York Times the other day.

Remember that the American Enterprise Institute has been notably silent over the decades in the face of racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination.  When it addressed the subject(s), it usually advised the disprivileged to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and trust to the basic fairness of the great American public, counseling them to put aside thoughts of legislation and aim for the hearts and minds of the population at large.  So, what has stirred Mr. Brooks current cry for justice?  It is the lack of "ideological diversity in the behavioral sciences."  Conservatives are supposedly being frozen out of university positions in psychology, social neuroscience,  criminology and related fields, and/or their published output is being inhibited by the lack of status or stature to do their work.  What a shame. 
While some of us are concerned about discrimination in mortgage lending, jury selection, police targeting, employment hiring and compensation, and voting rights, conservatives are being insidiously denied their place in the groves of academe.  Obviously, the hearts and minds of the collectivists running our universities are closed to right reason.  Maybe we need to offer Pell grants for subscriptions to the National Review.   

I like fried chicken a lot, but it is never served at Palazzo di Gotthelf mainly because of the time and complexity needed to prepare it.  Outside the home, a report that a restaurant has demonstrated excellence in frying a chicken is a powerful lure for me.  Therefore, I got a  vicarious thrill from reading these recipes.

If you wish, you can convert my vicarious thrills into actual ones by advising me where and when you will be serving anyone of these versions, or even your own functional equivalent.  I’ll bring dessert.  
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Today is Election Day with the sparest imaginable ballot.  In my voting district, there are only uncontested elections for judgeships, only Democrats need apply.  Yet, this warrants a day off from work for all of us justice junkies down at the courthouse.  While I took all my meals at home, I walked over four miles through midtown Manhattan, enjoying the lovely weather.  

Again, the New York Times web site has come up with something better even than dreams of sugar plum fairies, chocolate recipes.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
I had to sign some papers at a downtown office building, so I decided to eat in the Financial District before returning to Heaven on Earth.  I chose Zaitzeff, 72 Nassau Street, corner of John Street, the only outlet for this hamburger joint, without knowing that it got high marks from Trip Advisor and Zagat’s.  What attracted me was the basic simplicity of the joint and the busyness it had early in the lunch hour.  

Zaitzeff (I have no idea where or who the name comes from) offers sirloin burger, Kobe burger, turkey burger and veggie burger, as well as a BLT, a chicken sandwich and a couple of fried egg sandwiches.  The 1/4 pound sirloin burger that I had, the overwhelming majority choice while I sat there, costs $10.50 and comes with lettuce, tomato and grilled onions on a Portuguese roll.  Options include bacon, cheese, mushrooms (my choice) and a fried egg, which I resisted in spite of memories of Obie’s in downtown Ithaca, adding $1.50 to $3.  My burger, cooked medium without asking, was very good.  Doubling the amount of meat to 1/2 pound costs $6 more.  My only complaint was too much of good thing, that is the enormous portion of hand cut French fries for $5.  They should not serve this to one person.  No smaller portion was available.

Zaitzeff used its very small space efficiently.  Three country oak dining room tables, each with six chairs, were constantly occupied,while many other people came and went with carry-out orders.  I hadn't planned on lingering to do a crossword at lunchtime anyway.  The food was better than I had on my first visit ever to Shake Shack, one week ago.  Nothing but very large crowds kept me away from any of Shake Shack’s many outlets that I came across, including the stand at CitiField where I could never get close enough to order, day game, night game, good weather, bad weather, Mets ahead, Mets behind.  Shake Shack was cheaper than Zaitzeff, but the latter’s quality warranted it.  Neither place is for the nervous or the claustrophobe.

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Today’s New York Times pays attention to the demise of Organic Avenue, a local chain of 10 cold-pressed juice stores.  It seemed to be very popular with skinny people and beautiful people, who frequently felt the need for a good “cleansing.”
Needless to say, I never patronized Organic Avenue; in fact, I had no idea that it even existed.  Whenever I am walking the streets of New York and I catch sight of a whirring blender containing a green liquid, my pace increases notably and whoever happens to be ahead of me faces the risk of being stepped on.  Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow et alia need to be reminded of the virtues of an artisanal egg cream. 
I made my now regular weekly visit to Wok Wok Southeast Asian Kitchen, 11 Mott Street, today.  It was busy, about 3/4 of the tables occupied, but service was efficient.

I had ma la wonton ($5.50), seven small wontons cooked in a highly-spiced peanut sauce, and roti wrap ($5.75), a 5" long Malaysian chicken burrito.  The thin, slightly flaky pancake surrounded curried chicken, with a small bowl of delicious, buttery curry sauce on the side.  I enjoyed it so much that, even though I left two boxes in the crossword puzzle empty, lunchtime was a very satisfying experience.
Friday, November 6, 2015
Today is Love Your Lawyer Day, in case you forgot.
America's Favorite Epidemiologist and I are discussing where she might place the following tattoo.