Saturday, April 09, 2011

Looking up acronyms and pretending to be pretentious

Looking up acronyms

Many of the abbreviated expressions were exaggerated misspellings, a stock in trade of the humorists of the day. One predecessor of OK was OW, "oll wright," and there was also KY, "know yuse," KG, "know go," and NS, "nuff said."From "What does "OK" stand for?" The Straight Dope"

It was a simple enough question. I asked it on Facebook a few days ago. About something that has puzzled me for some time. "Why do Americans put heaps of "throw cushions" on beds when they are never used?"

It elicited this answer, "Colour, Kate. And the feeling of luxury that cushions bring. They are a PITA at bedtime."

Huh? "PITA"? WTF does "PITA" mean? I almost LOLed. Instead I looked it up in Urban Dictionary and found it means "Pain in the Arse".

Of course I'm none the wiser. I still don't know why Americans put cushions on beds when they are not to be used. For color? I don't THINK so. Why not simply hang them on walls. Or better still, buy a Joan MirĂ³ print. And where are you meant to put them when you go to bed? On the floor? Seems I'm never going to know.

But the non-answer did make me think. About looking up acronyms that is. I don't mind looking up a real word when I am not sure of its meaning, but an acronym?
Next there'll be dictionaries for icons. Take the floppy disc icon for "save". There's a debate going around the internet as to whether to keep it or not. Suggestions for all sorts of images to replace it have been put forward. I even read somewhere the suggestion of a damsel in distress icon...

Pretending to be Pretentious

We'd had nothing but a salad and dry bread in a hour and a this true, Italian-leisurely dining? I seriously doubt it. From "Poor service...we were sadly disappointed - a review of Mario Batali's Manzo, New York
If you want to pay a lot of money for poor service and mediocre food I must recommend "Manzo" in Eataly. It's noisy, cramped and the waiters are arrogant. Or perhaps they are only pretending to be.

We didn't complete our meal. I sat with my "Arista" (I had to look it up - there's a culinary guide on the last page of the menu) while my husband waited for his antipasto to arrive. Too cool to write anything down, the waiter had incorrectly memorized the order and so I sat, eating alone. I put a bit of badly chopped fennel on my bread plate so Jo had something to accompany the Simboli Riesling - which at $44 for the bottle compared favorably with the value for bucks of the food.

We'd been at Manzo for about an hour when the first course arrived. The spaghetti al dente was al hard and when my husband complained he received not a replacement, not an apology, but rather an argument from the maitre de. We decided to leave. Why throw good money after bad? By this time we'd been there about one and a quarter hours. We were both hungry. We asked for the check. And got ... another argument. $128.17 is after all a bit to pay for a meal when you have to go elsewhere to actually eat.

After much fuss  the guy in charge agreed ... we only had to pay for the wine. At $88 I suppose we should have should have been relieved.

It was raining and dark as we made our way to the subway.

Thank you Manzo! What was meant to a pleasant evening in New York on my husband's last night here for two months - he's commuted back to OZ - was a complete disappointment.

I haven't had such bad service and waiter arrogance since I dined at Toto's Pizza restaurant in Melbourne Australia, a hundred years ago.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Paperback Writer

But I need a break and I want to be a paperback writer,
Paperback writer. - "Paperback Writer", Lennon/McCartney, 1966

Bus People, New York
"When's Easter?" my husband who commutes to New York from Australia, asked me. I have to be understanding but at times it's hard.... "How would I know?" I replied. "I live in New York. I know when Passover is."

It can be so difficult - being bi-cultural. Not to mention being "old" and straddling two centuries.

For those of us who still remember last century, there is so much to take into account in communicating with the alphabet generations. I have to straddle not just continents and cultures, but generations, and at times it can be overwhelming.

Take reading for example. It seems like only yesterday when I aspired to having floor to ceiling bookshelves, a library room even, for my "books". And now ... well two years ago I gave most of my books way to charity. And by 2010 I couldn't even remember what it was like to read a dead tree book.

Subway People, New York
Then last week I couldn't get interested in any of the novels on my Kindle and I remember that a few months back I'd bought paper book, "Slammerkin" by Emma Donoghue. I had become addicted to Donoghue after reading "Room", and later her "The Sealed Letter". I could not get enough of her work and at the time Slammerkin was only available in the US in hardback, so I'd bought it.

The excitement of actually reading it faded rapidly after the ungainly thing arrived - so heavy, so last century - and so the hardcover sat on a shelf, gathering that very fine Manhattan dust that envelopes everything that stands still for more than a second.

I've been reading Slammerkin for several days now, and though it isn't a patch on "Room" it is still worth the effort of lugging it around town like someone from the 18th century where the novel is set.

I spoke to friend on the phone. "I am reading a paper book," I confided. "It's terrible!" She agreed. I have to physically bookmark when I leave off reading. There's no real-time dictionary. What IS a "slammerkin" anyway? I expect to be able to look up words anytime, any place, anyhow.

Cab People, New York
And it is SO heavy. And big. Last night coming home from work the bus was even more crowded than usual. Plus everyone was carrying umbrellas and we were all squashed together damply. I looked around. People were either staring ahead or texting or talking on cell phones. Or reading on electronic devices. And there I was taking up 1.2 bus seat spaces as my elbows were spread out in order that I was able to open my hardback volume.

I was forced to wonder what it would be like reading an illuminated manuscript while sitting on a plough in 16th century France, while everyone is  reading Aelius Donatus's "Ars Minor" in codex - courtesy of Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg.

Quelle horreur!