Friday, January 6, 2017

Tennis Anyone?

January 2, 2017
Saturday was the last day of 2016, but you don't need me to tell you that.  I said last week that I was reluctant to see 2016 end, because of my miserable expectations for public life under the incoming administration.  But, Saturday became particularly challenging and enigmatic when I managed to complete only about half of the New York Times crossword puzzle.  While Saturday's puzzle is the hardest of the week, I haven't failed so badly at it in many years.  And then I had to contemplate the implications of this.  Was it a signal to let the year go?  Was it it a sign of a bleak future?  Or, worse, was it a message that my gray brain cells were retreating as fast as my gray hairline?  

I returned to the puzzle several times until admitting defeat this morning and examining the solution printed with today's puzzle.  39 across -- Strips to pieces? Answer = baconbits.  I got stuck with ba__nai_s, because, going down, I put "cara" instead of "lamb" as an answer to the clue Term of endearment.  I must admit, however, that I also missed much easier clues.   

On the bright side, today starts the eighth year of this (ad)venture, which I began when I changed location for my job with the court system.  From 2002 through 2009, I worked at 71 Thomas Street, an address I never would have found on my own.  In January 2010, I moved to 60 Centre Street, the mother ship for New York County's Supreme Court, and, more important, immediately adjacent to Chinatown.  With access to this patch of Heaven on Earth, I started eating at restaurant after restaurant, recording my informal impressions as I went.  

Four different Chinese lunches a week were not unusual, even five.  I reached my 72nd place on May 28, 2010, choosing the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, 65 Bayard Street, to celebrate, where my lunch consisted of three scoops of ice cream, lychee, Zen butter and almond cookie ($6.50 then).  The number 72 was homage to the fabled number  of virgins awaiting the Islamic martyr in Heaven.  Isn't that sexist, though?  Should a female martyr have to endure the fumbled efforts of 72 inexperienced men?

I stopped counting restaurants when I retired at the end of 2015.  By then I had eaten lunch at over 320 different East Asian restaurants within walking distance of the courthouse.  They were mostly Chinese, with some Vietnamese, Malaysian, Japanese, Korean, Thai, as well.  There were no Cambodian, Laotian or Singaporean restaurants in the area; one place had some Indonesian items on its predominantly Malaysian menu.  For no good reason, I excluded Indian (really Pakistani/Bengali) restaurants from my count, although I recall less than half a dozen in the vicinity.   

I owe those years of rewarding employment and enjoyable lunches first to Justice Marjory D. Fields, now retired from the bench, who gave me my initial position, and then to Joe F., who offered invaluable assistance when the ground shifted out from under me.  I am forever grateful to both of them.

By the way, congratulations to Monte Wasch, formerly married to one of the people named in the paragraph above, with another letter to the editor of the Sunday book review published yesterday.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Stony Brook Steve, Paul D., a recent transplant from Rochester, NY, and I went to Red Farm, 2170 Broadway, for lunch.  It has a rough-hewn interior, which might resemble a Chinese barn or even an American barn, if I could even tell the difference.  It features somewhat uncommon dim sum at somewhat uncommonly high prices.  The quality of the food is generally high as well, but I am uncomfortable when dim sum starts to add up to what you would pay for real food.

We paid $33 each to share Gold Coin Scallion Pancakes with Applewood Smoked Bacon, Katz’s Pastrami Egg Roll, Crunchy Vegetable & Peanut Dumplings, Five Flavor Chicken Dumplings, Crispy Duck & Crab Dumplings, and Pan-Fried Lamb Dumpling Shooters.  Most of the dishes were accompanied by a unique and especially tasty sauce.  Still?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Time really seems to be flying.  Soon, it will be 2020.

Thursday, January 5, 2017
I have stated that I am turning increasingly to fiction and sports in order to endure or at least be distracted from the incoming regime of the clown.  Tonight, after the Upper West Side's Power Couple drove up to Massachusetts to visit the second and third generation, Grandpa Alan accompanied Daddy David and the two boychiks to a hockey game between the Boston University Terriers and the Union College Dutchmen at the very well appointed Boston University ice hockey rink.  The skill level was no worse than displayed at some National Hockey League games.  More important, my attention was successfully, if temporarily, distracted from our politics.  

Now, I am looking forward to the U.S. National Collegiate Ice Carving Championships at Frankenmuth, Michigan, later this month.  Then, there is the spring schedule of the CCNY swim team.  And warm weather will see the return of the Broadway Show League Co-ed Softball season in Central Park.  This all might make for a brighter future.

Friday, January 6, 2017
I am reading The Silent Man by Alex Berenson, one in a series of thrillers about an undisciplined CIA agent.  It was published in 2009.  Here is an excerpt from chapter 11 (my electronic version paginates only within chapters), with our hero looking around a glitzy Moscow nightclub:
The worldwide cult of fast money spent stupidly.  The worldwide cult of trying too hard.  Moscow, Rio, Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York, London, Shanghai -- the story was the same everywhere.  The same overloud music, the same over promoted brand names, the same fake tits, about as erotic as helium balloons.  Everywhere an orgy of empty consumption and bad sex.  Las Vegas was the cult's world headquarters, Donald Trump its patron saint.


  1. ...And I would have bet you couldn't put Donald Trump and saint in a coherent sentence...