Sunday, January 31, 2010

Asia the big-footed cat

She lets loose all the horses
When the corporal is asleep
And he wakes to find the fire’s dead
And arrows in his hats
And Davy Crockett rides around
And says it’s cool for cats
Squeeze, "Cool for Cats" 1989
We are Siamese if you please
We are Siamese if you don't please
We are from a residence of Siam
There is no finer cat than I am
Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke "The Siamese Cat Song" 1955
This is Asia. And no, she's not MY cat. She's a New York cat though and she belongs to a friend of mine, Carol One.

Carol responded to my None of my cats are all like that story with a story of her own.

And here it is.

After visiting my daughter in California and mingling with her household comprising of several humans, two cats, thirty doves and two horses my maternal needs took over. Or was it simply insanity?

I visited the ASPA on the Upper East Side in search of a cat. A visit to the White House is less invasive than visiting the ASPA cat adoption center.

I was touring the community of reclining, sleeping, bored cats when I felt that I was being watched by eyes other than those of the usual commoners.

When I asked the attendant if she would get the cat down from its perch she looked at me with fear and said "you do not want that cat."

I assured her that I did and as she reached for him he attacked her. Well I felt this was a challenge, or that I owed her. He was a beautiful part Siamese. His weapons of destruction were seven toes on each foot up front with sharp toe nails intact.

Having chosen my cat, the next part of the adoption entailed me agreeing to never leave my cat alone and promising to feed him only healthy food

Next I had to provide the names of people who would be character references. I was told these people WOULD be interviewed, either by phone or in person.

My brother was the only one who answered my phone calls and in spite of what he said about me they allowed the adoption.

I took my wild creature home, released him and he slowly inspected each room. He returned and looked up at me and said with his blue eyes, "This will do."

As they say, "no good deed go unpunished". I found myself explaining to friends and family for at least one year that the bloody scratches that cover my arms and legs from my adopted pet were part of the process I accepted by choosing this very smart, active, playful puppy like creature.

I believe I eventually changed his attitude to the human race or maybe I only adjusted to his.

The attacks stopped and he now trusts me, which proves, he is only a cat.

Carol One
February 2010.

Friday, January 29, 2010

But none of my cats are all like that

Cecil, you're my final hope
Of finding out the true Straight Dope
For I have been reading of Schrödinger's cat
But none of my cats are at all like that.
This unusual animal (so it is said)
Is simultaneously alive and dead!
The story of Schrödinger's cat (an epic poem), Randy F., Chicago

Halfway up the stairs isn't up and isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery, it isn't in the town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts run round my head.
It isn't really anywhere, it's somewhere else instead.
A.A. Milne

An Australian ex-cat
The very idea of Schrödinger's cat makes my head hurt.

If you don't know about Schrödinger's cat and want to, you can read about it here. Similarly , if you don't want to know, you may not read about it here. Both these states may exist simultaneously although at any one time, only one will appear to be true.

Sometimes I think about Schrödinger's cat - generally when I wish I had a cat. In fact, I think my cat IS Schrödinger's cat - simultaneously here and not here, but mostly not here. And that is because I don't have a cat.

And in the new Apple-speak - there's a reason for that. It is almost impossible to have a cat in Manhattan and to lead a normal life. Simultaneously, that is. Unless your apartment is below the third or fourth floor you can only safely keep a cat if you don't open your windows or if you install special cat-proof guards on them.

This is because Manhattan cats have the High-Rise Syndrome. The cat is likely to fall many stories to its death. They focus their attention on something moving and lose all sense of distance, try to paw it, and then the cat is cactus. A true Schrödinger's cat in a fifty percent sorta way.

I've actually seen a cat fall from a window. Fortunately it was from a third floor apartment. I was standing outside a Barnes and Noble store on 86th Street, waiting for a friend. There were a few of us standing there. And suddenly a cat came hurtling down, breaking its fall on the shoulder of a man standing near me. It lived but was injured.

Few people outside Manhattan seem to know about falling cats. Recently I posted on my status thingy on FaceBook, that I was avoiding flying cats, and a FaceBook friend seemed to think it was a huge joke. "You can have a never-ending stream of kitties," he commented.

I wonder what would happen if a person was hit by a cat falling say 26 floors. Would it be fatal for the human as well as the cat? It is perhaps this thought that keeps me from getting one.

I'd like a pet though. Last week I stopped by the ASPCA on my way to the gym. I just wanted to look at the cats - I was thinking of photographing one for an assignment I have in my photography course - I have to photograph an animal.

I didn't tell the person at reception that this was my aim. I always get a guilty feeling when in the presence of animal lovers and this guilty feeling makes me feel I'd better lie. I feel that animal lovers are somehow morally superior and that I am a lesser person as I regard animals as less than human. If I were a Catholic I'd think animal lovers were saints.

So I just asked could I look at the cats. The-person-at-reception said I needed photo ID with my address on and would have to fill out a form. I filled out the form and had photo ID but nothing showing an address. The reception person went through my answers, asking for elaboration on a number of points. I'd missed a question. Cat-like, she pounced on it. How noisy was my apartment? Loud, not so loud, a bit loud, sometimes slightly loud and so on.

As you have no photo ID I'll need to escort you, she told me. While I was wondering about the relevance of the noise level in my apartment to my "just looking" at cats, we took a tour of the adopt-a-cat section.

What IS it about animal lovers? Even if I DID want to adopt a cat, there'd be no way I'd measure up. New York cats are known to attend art classes and New York dogs have their own hotels. I'd have to promise to take the cat on play dates and sleep-overs. I'd need kitty litter and where would I put it? I hate kitty litter. What if the cat jumped on the kitchen counter-top? I hate cats near food. These are the sort of things I make myself think about whenever I get the urge to be a cat owner. Works every time.

Perhaps you could look at the dogs, my guide suggested when we'd looked at all the cats. Sure why not, I thought. Do dogs suffer from High-rise Syndrome I wondered. There were lots of sad dogs, all very large. German Shepherds, Great Danes, huge bitsers.

I can't imagine keeping a dog in an apartment. As for following it around in the street waiting to scoop up its poo ... No way would I get a dog. Our neighbours in our apartment building have one. He looks like a Border Collie. Sometimes he barks. I like it when he barks because if I am on the phone to Australia, an activity that is becoming increasingly rare now that I have been dumped by the lunch crowd, the Australian person will say what's that noise and I will say, that's a dog and they'll act all surprised and disbelieving. I get a kind of sick enjoyment, shattering their well-founded illusions about life in New York.

After surveying the dogs, I left the ASPCA as I knew I would - petless. I don't know what I'll photograph for my assignment.

But getting back to Schrödinger's cat - this is the thing (as they say ad infinitum in New York). Did Mr Schrödinger's really have a cat. Or did he only THINK he did?

My money's on him having both of them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Dust of Snow

In Australia autumn officially begins on 1 March and ends 31 May. The vast diversity of the ecological zones of the Australian continent renders the rigid American seasonal calendar an imposed cultural concept rather than relevant to climactic conditions.

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
Robert Frost

It's forecast to snow on the weekend. New York in the snow. I love it. But then I also love fall and spring and seventy percent of summer here. The thirty percent when temperatures hover around 100F (38C) is just a bit too hot even for an Australian.

The best time to look at the snow is when it has recently fallen, preferably in the morning. New York then gets that winter wonderland look and feel.

If the snow accumulates more than a couple of inches, it gets shoveled up onto the road (street U.S.) side of the sidewalks, so that people can walk without slipping. It is pushed onto curbs from the road (street U.S), so that cars can drive. And then it turns to black ice (polluted frozen snow). Dangerous and ugly.

Long term New Yorkers prefer the spring to winter. The snow which is a novelty still to me, even after fifteen years, is a burden to those who have lived most of their lives here. And it is true that spring in New York has its own wonders.

People start getting out of their apartments where they'd tended to stay, emerging only for work and provisions in the winter months.

And there's Central Park. Fall and spring are perhaps the best seasons for wandering there.

Summer in New York. When I think of summer I think of the iconic black and white photo of boys playing under a stream of water from a fire hydrant. I looked for it on the web but couldn't find it. I found a similar one but not the classic.

Fall or autumn? Americans know what autumn IS, but prefer to use the word "fall".

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary "fall" traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, the Old English fiæll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates.

I'm used to it now, but when I first came here (and it WAS autumn when I arrived), I heard people people talk of color and of excursions to see "the foliage". Coming from a country where native trees are not deciduous and the colors of our eucalypts vary all year round, I wondered why people would drive to places like Vermont to see leaves. I know now. We have deciduous trees in Australia, but nowhere do we see masses of them. There are seas of leaves in all colors of the cream through yellow and orange to crimson spectrum. And then there's the squirrels, wandering around looking for the acorns that they hid last spring and have since forgotten where they put them.

Back to winter. And an iconic scene in New York. What IS all the hot air? What is the steam that gushes from the red and white candy-themed vertical pipes? It sometimes brings to mind Tom Wolfe's sixties book, "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Steamline Baby", though it was actually "Streamlined" and not steamlined".

The New York steam is vapor produced when underground water hits hot equipment and escapes from beneath the streets or condensed steam leaking from the Con Ed's steam system.

Over 30 billion pounds of steam per year flows underground in Manhattan. It is part of Con Edison's subterranean steam system which has been operating continuously since 1882.

There are five steam plants in Manhattan, and one each in in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. On a cold winter day, nearly 10 million pounds of steam at 350 degrees Fahrenheit flows each hour through 105 miles of underground mains - to efficiently heat high-rise buildings.

When I first came to New York I loved seeing the steam coming out of the red and white pipes. It was like walking onto the set of a movie.

But now it's ho hum. Nothing to even notice, unless I'm taking a tourist friend from Australia around to see the sites.

But the snow.

I'll never tire of it.

I just can't wait till Saturday and the "dust of snow".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dumped by the Lunch Crowd

I'm in with the in crowd;
I go where the in crowd goes.
I'm in with the in crowd;
And I know what the in crowd knows
From "The 'In' Crowd" (Billy Page)

My little town blues
Are melting away
I'm gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York.
From "New York New York" (Kander and Ebb 1980)

Lunch Attendees
A hundred years ago when I lived in Melbourne, I was a member of a lunch crowd. Actually "lunch mob" might be a better name for it. As in "mob mentality" ...

This was a select group - apparently. I say this because almost inevitably, when a lunch was planned, one of the crowd would NOT be invited. "Let's have lunch but don't tell X. She'll only want to come too and after all not ALL of us HAVE to go to EVERY lunch," one of them would whisper. I used to wonder why the whisper. Obviously the "X" in question was not within hearing distance. But then again, I USED to always think that I was never the "X". That I was ALWAYS invited.

It has only now occurred to me that how would I KNOW? The thing about being an "X" is that you don't know about the lunch that you are not invited to.

It took me a some time to acclimate to the machinations of the Lunch Crowd. This was because I was not an original member, not one of the Founding Mothers. I'd spent a lot of the time - ten years - living in the country-side with the man-who-doesn't-believe-in washing-machines. And as everyone knows, if you don't believe in washing machines you are unlikely to believe in lunches at restaurants. In any case, the Lunch Crowd didn't DO country. I became a member of the Lunch Crowd when I settled in Melbourne as a grown-up, after my children were school-age.

How this came about I do not know; I just sort of morphed from being a normal person into being a fully-fledged member of the Lunch Crowd.

I'd completely forgotten about the Lunch Crowd. I'd forgotten about its neuroses, its co-dependencies. Its enabling. In fact in light of these disfunctionalities, I doubt that the Lunch Crowd could have been launched in the 21st century. Back in the late eighties co-dependencies and enabling were unknown forces, or perhaps known only to a few psychologists who no doubt were ahead of their time. I doubt even those trendies knew about "disfunctionalities" though. Seeing as I just invented the word ...

I'd forgotten how hard it was - remembering WHICH lunch had been held without WHICH person knowing about it. "Was it the lunch held at the Universitas Café in April that 'X' wasn't asked to? Better not mention it today," I'd think as I drove to the lunch of the day. And because of this tension, this worry about putting one's foot in it, lunches were edgy nerve-racking sorts of affairs.

Yep, I'd forgotten - until yesterday. Yesterday it was ME who was dumped from the lunch! Actually it was a coffee thing, not a lunch, but the same rules apply when the LUNCH CROWD is involved. How could this happen? How can one be dumped from a coffee thing when living 12,000 miles from the coffee shop?

The answer my friend is, "easily". Easy that is, when LUNCH CROWD makes the rules.

It started innocently enough. I thought I'd phone a Melbourne friend, let's call her 'S', to whom I'd recently sent my Obama photo, for her Australian Labor Party fundraiser. She'd promised she'd email me when it arrived but I hadn't put much faith in her promise (see, I haven't forgotten everything). I had however forgotten that she was a member of the LUNCH CROWD. Not surprising since I'd forgotten(should that read REPRESSED?) the very existence of the LUNCH CROWD.

"Yeah," she told me, "it arrived last week." I was about to ask how she was and have a bit of chat when she said, "Gotta go. Am having coffee with Y and Z in Carlton. It starts in twenty minutes and I have to shower first." So I said goodbye and hung up.

Then I thought, "Oh I'll phone Y," as I'd sort of gotten into a chatting mood and had been unable to satisfy my chat quota. I phoned Y's home phone. No answer. So I phoned Z. Z chatted a bit and then she said there was going to be a coffee with S and Y. "I think I'll phone up and it'll be like I'm there, like the old days," I commented. "Great," Z said, and I asked what time. "In an hour," she answered. This should have started the warning bells, but it didn't. Twenty minutes. One hour. LUNCH CROWD ...

I said it would be too late to call as it would be midnight in New York. "I might call Y now, on her cell phone," I mumbled. We talked a bit more and I thought "yep, I'll call Y."

And I did.

She answered her cell phone with an abrupt annoyed-sounding, "Oh YOU! Well I can't talk now I'm in a HURRY!" Clunk.

Huh? I was bemused. And then I realized. The penny dropped. I was the "X". The "Uninvited". I was dumped.

Uninvited when you can't even attend! Coming so suddenly, and hard upon the heels of the being dumped by a man from a relationship thirty years after we separated (Breaking Up Is Hard To Do), it was all getting too much.

Looks like I'm no longer needed or wanted by my friends in old Melbourne town. I am now a dumpee!

Well I'm not going to be an enabler-dumpee. No co-dependencies here! No way José!

I'll cut the ribbon and move on. And hey, I'm in New York.

King of the Hill.
Top of the list!!!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Do you want pencil with that?

"The 2007 Syrah contains a dollop of Malbec, Viognier, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Grenache. It shows off a superb aromatic display of bacon, game, mineral, pencil lead, and blueberry. Layered, bordering on opulent, it has great depth of flavor, savory fruit, and a lengthy, pure finish. Give it 2-3 years to blossom further and drink it from 2011 to 2019."
Merchant Review of Polkura 2007 Syrah (Chile) - Canal Bottle Stop

Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine
And we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down
"Carey" Joni Mitchell 1971

I'm pretty broadminded. I'm a tolerant sort of women. I can put up with pretentious. But when it comes to the taste of pencil lead, I draw the line. I'm just not a great fan of pencil lead especially when it's accompanied by blueberry.

What ARE these wine writers thinking about when they write their reviews? Are they trying to outdo each other in bizarre? Or are they testing to see if anyone actually reads their blurbs?

Polkura 2007 Syrah. I don't THINK so! Any wine that has "a dollop of Malbec, Viognier, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Grenache" has to be a bit suss. And as for its "aromatic display of bacon, game, mineral, pencil lead, and blueberry", I think I'll pass that round. "Give it 2-3 years to blossom further and drink it from 2011 to 2019." That's eight years of continuous drinking! The mind boggles. Even my dad would stop drinking when he went to sleep.

Wine and food buffs are a strange lot. I should know as I recently became one. I've been obsessed with the Food Channel, ever since I gave up alcohol. I watch "The Iron Chef", "Chopped, "Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares", "Last Restaurant Standing" and "America's Worst Cooks".

I also like watching out for food trends. Remember when food had to be really tall and narrow and look lost on an acre wide plate and was always "drizzled" with something? That seems to have been short-lived. Now it's all about healthy and being politically correct.

There is only one constant in food. And that is those sad little restaurants with names like "Tin Lizzie" and "Carrots R Us" where the alternative-life-stylers of the month play at being grown-ups and serve carrot cakes and gruel.

There used to be one such "restaurant" in North Fitzroy in Melbourne when I lived there a hundred years ago. Young women with long hair and vague looks on their faces would hang around serving tofu tea and veggie-burgers. The place was always "out of" something. Usually a key ingredient like soy milk or green tea.

And I recently came across a similar restaurant ion the Lower East Side. I was waiting for my husband - we were going to see a movie - and I was early. Next to the cinema was a little diner-looking place. I went inside thinking to order a coffee, only to discover it was a Vegan pizza restaurant. No coffee. So I sat at a table and read my Kindle. I didn't order anything. No one expected me to. That's what I like about those sort of places. They expect nothing from their clientele, and their clientele expects nothing from them.

I'm used to all sorts of eating places. But although I've traveled far and wide, and have eaten in places ranging from the up-market Flower Drum in Melbourne, to roadside diners in Oklahoma, I had never, until yesterday, heard of drinking bacon and pencil-lead flavored wine.

What will come next I wonder. What came after lead pencils? Aha - the internets!!!

When I start drinking again, I will be on the lookout for a wine with a bouquet of megapixels and a hint of lol.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Man in the Mirror

A Willow Deeply Scarred,
Somebody's Broken Heart
And A Washed-Out Dream
(Washed-Out Dream)
The Man in the Mirror, Siedah Garrett, Glen Ballard, Michael Jackson 1988

What's going on here! Inside I still feel 25 years old, until I look in the mirror. Maybe there is an old man living in my mirror?
TJ, January 14th, 2010

My English friend phoned me the other day. Not Madge, Madge in Bath, who knits egg cozies, and macramés wall hanginging (so 1970!), but my friend who lives in the Peak District and now sounds like Pennelope Keith in "To the Manor Born".

My English friend from Melbourne. Madge is from Perth. Now that I think about it, it could be no other way. You can take the girl out of the Australian city, but you can't take the Australian city out of the girl ...

My friend who lives in the Peak District and now sounds like Pennelope Keith in "To the Manor Born" had recently had a birthday. Sixty four. "It's nothing," she remarked in her dismissive Penelope Keith voice that she does so well, "it's only a thing because of the song," and our conversation moved on to better things.

All those years ago - Di with SnowWoman
My friend Di. Sixty four!

That's her on the left when she was fourteen. We were on a school trip to Valhalla in Victoria. Together we built a SnowWoman. I like to think this was because we were feminists. Feminists when Germaine Greer's "The Female Eunuch " was yet to be written. Young women ahead of their time. But most likely we were just trying to annoy our teacher.

Song or not, sixty four. Imagine.

Then a few days later, my baby brother turned a certain age. He thinks there's an old man living in his mirror and I tend to agree. For whatever happened to Timothy John?

It seems like only yesterday that out mother made me walk behind his stroller to retrieve his glasses as he threw them out onto the pavement, time and time again, with a gay abandon that has never left him.

Only yesterday when our mother smuggled us to the railway station at Bathurst where my six-year old brother asked, "Who are we seeing off, Mummy?" and she replied "Us".

And so began our perilous journey into adulthood.

To a world where old men live in mirrors.

And we remain waving goodbye.

Forever young.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Remembrance of an adolescence skipped

Would you know my name
if I saw you in heaven
Would it be the same
if I saw you in heaven
From "Tears in Heaven", Eric Clapton and Will Jennings, 1991

A couple falls in love and agrees to meet in six months at the Empire State Building - but will it happen?
Plot summary of ""An Affair to Remember" 1957, IMDB

"Protect your child from lead poisoning and window falls"notice
Every year, as a New York City resident, I am required to fill in the "Protect your child from lead poisoning and window falls" notice. I understand it came about after Eric Clapton's four year-old son Conor, fell 53 floors to his death through the open window of a New York apartment in 1991.

Since then, every year New York City residents are reminded of this tragic event. I believe the law requiring window guards has been successful, and since the Conor Clapton tragedy, no child has fallen to his death in Manhattan.

Another New York tragedy. This one entirely fictional.

I remember it whenever I'm tempted to get out of the traffic-side of a cab. I expect it's an urban legend, but ... word has it that it is in fact illegal to step out of a cab on the traffic side, because of the character Terry McKay, played by Deborah Kerr in "An Affair to Remember".

In the movie, Terry a singer meets playboy Nicky Ferrante (Cary Grant), on a European cruise. They plan to meet later on the top floor of the Empire State building. Nicky arrives early, and while he is waiting, he hears an ambulance siren in the distance. Little does he know, but it is an ambulance on its way to pick up his beloved Terry who got out on the traffic side of the cab and was run over by a car. She's crippled as a result of the accident and the rest of the movie involves the ill-fated couple almost meeting and then not, as Terry heroically avoids Nicky Ferrante, not wanting to burden him with her disability.

ASIF any normal woman could consciously keep herself from Cary Grant - arguably the most handsome and sexy man in the history of cinema - for any reason whatsoever!

I first saw "Affair to Remember" a hundred years ago at a drive-in somewhere in Melbourne. I remember it vividly. The occasion, not the movie.
With Uncle Jack
It was circa 1960 and Melbourne was black-and-white and stagnant. The Beatles were yet to hit the world scene. D. H. Laurence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was banned, and the few enlightened people who were forced to stay in the place were still reeling from the Leader of the Opposition's comment in favor of the "White Australia policy" - "Two wongs don't make a white."

My little brother and I were being brought up by our mother, a single parent in the years before divorce was common. Our dad had "visitation" rights although I doubt that word was used back then.

Occasionally he'd pop over from his new home in New Zealand, and get well and truly drunk before "the visit". Mostly he'd want our mum to come along on our "outing". I expect now, that he probably still carried a flame for her.

He'd also take along his brother Jack - for moral support.

And off we'd all go. I believe brother Jack was a "crim". But I liked him. Of all of us, he seemed the most normal.

My brother and I would sit in the back seat with my dad who would settle down with bottles of beer and yell what he thought were clever sayings. Sometimes he'd quote at length from Shakespeare, preferring the role of Iago in Othello. Whatever.

New York Commuters - Yes one is pretending to be a horse
An outing with dad. What fun.

I remember cringing in the back seat of Jack's car, hoping like hell that no one I knew would see us.

And so it happened that on one of these visits we were taken to see "An Affair to Remember".

I only know the plot of the film because I saw it again years later. For all dialogue was drowned out, back at that drive-in 100 years ago, as our father kept anticipating Cary Grant's lines and repeating them badly. The beer flowed. Bottle tops flew out the car windows. "I still love your mother!" my dad breathed in beery breath over us.

Gradually the cars around us left, unable to hack the middle-aged yobbos yelling at Deborah Kerr to "fer gods's sake get over it, get real and get into bed with Cary Grant", in the vernacular of the time.

No wonder I skipped adolescence and went straight from child to adult.

No wonder I saved all my money from my first post-university job and got the hell out of Dodge.

And perhaps, no wonder I chose to later on, live in New York City. Where you can do almost anything and no one looks twice.

Yes, the more I think about it, my fate was sealed the moment Deborah Kerr exited the New York cab on the wrong side. From such small and apparently inconsequential actions, whole lives are changed.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Blue Rinse Set Descends on Ed's Chowder House

Paté escargots soup de jour
cordon bleu chic coiffure
fait accompli maison
crème de menthe Marcel Marceau
meringue blancmange Bardot
gauche gay Paris garçon
gendarme agent provocateur
from Greg Champion's, "The French Song" Click to play

"For A Horse You Did Alright, Ed. But For A Chef You Fell Short."
Britton B. reviewing Ed's Chowder House on Yelp

How do you say brunch in french i mean the tree brunch?
Question from a dyslexic on

French toast a Ed's Chowder House
It's been ages since I last had brunch with other human beings. The last one I remember was at an Indian-British restaurant somewhere in lower Manhattan (Too Kool for School), almost two years ago.

Not that I don't "do" brunch. I have brunch quite often. By myself. I take my Kindle along for company. I don't find Manhattan a very social place. At first I though that not being social was a Manhattan thing. More recently I've questioned this assumption. It's probably me. Well that's what someone emailed me. Then again, perhaps I'm over-sensitive. Over-sensitive or unpopular? Which one? Whatever.

Actually it is hard to get people together here. But this weekend a grand effort was made by four people and we all met at Ed's Chowder House on the Upper West Side.

Poached Eggs with Spinach, Crabmeat and Hollandaise
Like a good New Yorker, I'd done my homework and researched the place. Reviews on the web were mixed. One noted that the place was full of old people over 65. Good, I thought, we'll seem young. Although a quick addition of our ages produced a grand total of 259! O my god. Readers please note that one of us (not me) is EXTREMELY old.

I've got a good mind to say something to him when next we meet! Talk about skewing the average!

We were all rugged up for the chilly Manhattan weather. It was a snowy and windy day and it took us some time to shed our outer layers and to settle into our booth. I looked around - the place was nicely decorated and spacious.

As for the other patrons, the reviewer who noted the age of the diners at Ed's was spot on. Not a young person in sight and the place was packed.

Fish 'n Chips
Service was good - prompt and polite. I opted for fish and chips. Strange choice for brunch but I always choose it if it's on the menu as it's a rare dish in this city. I asked and was told the fish was striped bass, and fresh. It was. Everyone else ordered traditional brunch dishes.

The most remarkable was the French toast which came in the form of a large cube. Obviously the chef at Ed's is not a follower of Gordon Ramsey who likes his dishes simple. I can just envisage him on his show, "Kitchen Nightmares" pulling the cube apart and saying "Holy Mackerel".

Still it was pronounced to be excellent by the orderer, a person not given to false compliments.

I recommend Ed's Chowder House. Especially if you are of a certain age. You will leave with a spring in your step. There's nothing like being in a room of very old people to make one feel young.

And as my friend noted, "Sixty is the new thirty".

If only!

Friday, January 01, 2010

A Home for Obama

"Look, when I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point."
President Barack Obama

"I would have to...investigate more of Bill's dancing abilities, you know, and some of this other stuff before I accurately judge whether he was in fact a brother."
President Barack Obama -- on whether Bill Clinton was "our first black president"

"Let's pray that Pres. Obama will be able to continue to lead us with his true sanity."
Joy Behar tweet wishing everyone a happy new year

This arrived in my mail a few months ago. A "Commemorative Presidential Photo". It even has a unique number for authentication.

I put it with my pile of-bills-to-be-paid and tax stuff, and mostly forgot about it. Because, what was I to do with it?

I can't put it up where I work as political posters are not allowed for obvious reasons. I thought of a couple of people I know in New York who supported Obama in the last presidential election. One said no unequivocally. Another said no, your children will want it. ASIF was my response, but he was certain.

I emailed my son. I was right. He didn't want it.

And so it remained, homeless, sandwiched between a Commonwealth Bank statement and an already paid electricity bill.

Hardly appropriate neighbors for a president, let alone the incredibly cool President Obama. Yep I'm still supporting him despite a few of his less than perfect decisions. Look at the alternative. Well, get out your magnifying glass and look hard as there doesn't appear to be one ....

Of course my first choice for president was Hillary but we women are used to having to accept second best ...

Enough of the an ellipses - I was beginning to despair of finding a place where it was wanted, when I got a call from my old friend Sarah in OZ. I told her of my dilemma and she suggested she auction it off at a political (ALP) gathering that she's hosting in OZ. Right on, sister. But make sure it goes to a good home.

My brother as a bee, kir-ka 1952
Back to the ellipses - after my last posting Why can't the English learn to speak? - I double checked the spelling. You can't be too careful. After writing about Ruth Watson's (The Hotel Inspector) pronunciation of "circa" as "kir-ka" I received an email from a relative informing me that kir-ka was correct in classical Latin and that perhaps Ruth Watson had studied the classics.

I should have been a smarty pants and corrected him - people "READ" the classics at Oxbridge. "Study" is oh so redbrick! But I didn't think of it.

I always find it comical - "He's reading history". The English. Gotta love 'em. "Reading the classics" - it goes with living in houses that don't have street numbers ("Fern House", "Paddock View" and so on), and being "at home" (accepting visitors).

But I knew he was correct. I suppose the classical Romans said kirkle for circle. And was it Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis who said "Give them bread and kircuses ..."

But how do we KNOW how those Romans spoke? To the best of my knowledge, the recording and reproducing of sound did not occur until May 1877 and not kirka anything, when Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph. In any case, that was in New Jersey, U.S.A. - nowhere NEAR Rome.

In case you are wondering who the hell is Decimus Iunius Iuvenalis - well it's the poet fellow we call (in English) Juvenal.

Juvenal who was born but not pronounced kir-ka 55AD - or thereabouts!