Friday, February 17, 2017

Count Me In

Monday, February 13, 2017
As a kid who grew up on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn, I try to continue to distance myself from the effete behavior of the nouveau riche, which is pretty good considering that I only got a 71 on the French Regents exam.  Sometimes I succeed, sometimes not.  I thought that I had cleared the hurdle presented by the question in the New York Times Sunday magazine to 2,563 subscribers: "How many different types of cheese, including spreads, are in your refrigerator?"  

How fey must be those respondents answering 5 or more (28%) or even 4 (24%)?  Ridiculous, I thought, as I opened the refrigerator to confirm that I only had the scallion cream cheese that accompanied the lox on my bagel at lunch.   But, wait -- a few slices of Swiss cheese left over from lunch, two different grated cheeses for pasta, crumbled feta cheese for salads and omelettes, and a package of Philadelphia cream cheese, just purchased for a recipe.  Oh, the horror.  You can count.  I land on the outskirts of the wrong end of the bell curve and now I have to shut up.

[Time passes.]

We know that the new administration is serious about applying serious vetting to prospective immigrants to the United States, because they have been harnessing their investigative resources, not wasting them vetting Steven Mnuchin (Treasury), Andrew Puzder (Labor), Tom Price (Health and Human Services), Mick Mulvaney (Budget Director) and other new occupants of the swamp.  Had the vetters taken time away from protecting our shores from those refugees who decided at a moment's notice to wait 18 months to get into the United States, they certainly would have found the $100 million in assets that Mnuchin failed to disclose to the Senate Finance Committee, as an example.  I sure hope that our diligent investigators count the number of cheeses in refugee families' refrigerators.

Somewhat related is the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser.  He wrote: "I am tendering my resignation, honored to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way."  In case you blinked, this distinguished way extended from January 20, 2017 to February 13, 2017.  Some of the cheese in my refrigerator lasted longer than that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017
My celebration of Valentine's Day began with the news that Playboy magazine will resume publishing pictures of nude women.  It has nothing to do with objectifying or exploiting women.  Rather, the retooled Playboy will serve as sort of a time machine, taking me back to my adolescence, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

Apropos Valentine's Day (the saintliness was watered down by the Vatican in 1969, leaving St. Valentine more of a local hero than a universal one), consider this survey of where single people live, with an eye towards finding the Right One.  The article contains zip code maps for New York, Chicago, Los, Angeles, San Francisco and Washington showing where the (allegedly heterosexual) boys are and aren't.

Unlike our new Washington power elite, I won't dispute the data, but I must annotate one factoid.  Las Vegas is found to be the best (major urban) place for a single woman to meet a single man, with 1.34 single men living alone to each single woman.  That is, if you don't mind dealing with a person three times more likely to be suicidal than the average American.  Las Vegas also has a higher than average unemployment rate and lower average salaries in many employment categories, such as lawyers, accountants and retail clerks, higher for bartenders, dancers and construction workers.  And, while not scientific, a glance at those televised almost-exclusively male poker tournaments will give you a feel why there are so many men in Las Vegas living alone.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Today is the 75th anniversary of the New York Times crossword puzzle, which is being celebrated with a special series of puzzles.  Can you imagine that?  75 years old, typically decayed and ineffectual.  How sad!

Actually, something else that is approaching 75 years old, but still very vital in my eyes, is "Casablanca," that great movie.  This article pleasantly recollects it.

Stony Brook Steve and I took a walk up Amsterdam Avenue today, enjoying the mild weather, as we sought a new place to have lunch.  We settled on Island Burgers & Shakes, 422 Amsterdam Avenue, one of three locations in Manhattan.  It is a small, narrow space, appropriately described as funky.  One wall is exposed brick, the other dingy subway tile.  The flooring is wood slats.  Customers have to fit at 7 two tops.  

Island has a very attractive (weekday) lunch special, a hamburger, turkey burger or chicken sandwich, French fries and a drink for $10.  Steve had a hamburger, which satisfied him, often an elusive goal.  I had the chicken sandwich, a grilled chicken paillard, about three times the size of the sesame bun upon which it rested.  A few pickle chips and raw purple onion slices were on the plate, along with excellent French fries.  Squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard are on every table, with salt and pepper shakers.  A can of Diet Coke, reggae played at a moderate sound level and a commendable experience.  

Thursday, February 16, 2017
My last lunch in Spain on October 14, 2015 was at Wok to Walk, Rambla 65, Barcelona, on the perimeter of Mercado de La Boqueria, the big public market.  Today, I returned, not to Barcelona (alas!), but to Wok to Walk, 684 Third Avenue, corner of East 43rd Street.  At 8' wide and 16' deep, the local version was only a smidge larger than the Spanish one.  That did not deter the crowds at lunchtime.  About 3 dozen people were ahead of me when I got on line and two dozen more were behind when I got to order, keeping the three men at the woks very, very busy.

While I generally eschew places where you create your own dish, more because of the abominations that I see being created and consumed around me, WtW pulls it off as well as you could expect.  You choose a base, 4 different types of noodle or 2 kinds of rice stir-fried with shredded vegetables and an egg, or a vegetable mix (all $4.95).  Then, chicken, pork, shrimp, steak, salmon ($2.60-3.50) and/or vegetables -- such as mushrooms, broccoli, bamboo shots ($1.50-1.70).  Peanuts, fried garlic, fried onions and other toppings add $.60 each.  Finally, a choice among 8 free sauces, sweet & sour, curry coconut, garlic & black pepper, for instance.  My concoction: udon noodles, like very fat spaghetti, steak, shrimp, and fried onions, with Bali sauce ("Peanut sauce - oriental style") at $11.35.  The only place for me to eat this excellent dish was on one of 6 stools at a high table at the rear.  Almost everyone else repaired to cubicles in nearby high-rise office buildings.      

For the sake of historical comparison, I pulled up my Barcelona lunch -- rice noodles, chicken, shrimp, and mushrooms in a yellow curry & coconut sauce, for 10.05 euros (about $13.60 then, $10.65 now if they haven't jacked the prices).

Friday, February 17, 2017
Yes, it is my very large birthday.  I'm reminded of a song by the Lovin' Spoonful, "Darling Be Home Soon," published in 1966, with a lyric that has stayed with me all this time.  
                    "And now
                     A quarter of my life is almost past" 

When I first heard it, the math was favorable.  The song spoke to me, or of me.   But, the fractions changed, one third, one half, three quarters and the horizon comes closer.  Will I settle for 15/16?


  1. Yeah, but did you have a New York State Buffalo Wing cheese omelet with pepperoni for brunch? (I wake up too late for breakfast.)
    May the Brie be with you!

  2. Does this mean Feb 17th is your birthday ? Ditto for my young son just turned 25. It do zoom by don't it.

  3. Happy Birthday, Alan. I get a kick out of each of these I read. Not cheesy at all!