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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Let's Eat Chinese and Watch Football!

It's f-ing cold outside, but inside, it is totally cozy. I think this is how it feels to be in a sort of ivory tower, away from it all, not quite realizing how it is in the "real world." OTOH, if I open my bathroom window even a bit, the frigid air outside seeps in. This too is a useful metaphor, most likely. I'm not someone who complains too much about the cold really, since it is not like I'm going be out in it for too long. Short bursts traveling to subways or stores is not really a problem, and walking in snow (we had a bit a few times by now) is nice too. My apologies to those who suffer through this weather, but it is winter, so for the normal sorts, buck up.

[Update: In fact, the weather is exaggerated. Now, sure, it has been pretty cold at times, particularly late at night and such. But, I actually went out for breakfast mid-morning and it was rather nice. This even though it says it is in the teens on my AOL temperature gauge. Not that I would want to stand outside for an hour, or anything, but still.]

Staying inside in January is also normal on the weekend given the football playoffs. [I see the new MLB Network is on the air, but along with the Yanks, Dish Network does not have it. Do have NFL Network.] Problem is that so far the games were mega lame, top teams playing lousy, a few mismatches not helping. Falcons/Arizona and Chargers/Colts were actually pretty well played, though in the former case the Falcons fell off in the Second Half, and blew a great chance to have one last chance to win at the end. And, the Chargers had a bit of a fluke, many things going there way, though they made enough mistakes to keep the Colts in it.

It is unclear to me btw why the Eagles are favored this weekend, even with how good Arizona has been playing, and how they do well at home. The Eagles played good, but not great, in the playoffs. And, the Thanksgiving game was something of a fluke -- the Cards had to travel on a short week and the QB had something to prove. Besides, look at how the Cards did in their re-match with Carolina! I can see the Eagles winning, doing something like what the WC Giants did last year (btw, one Giants victim, Tampa Bay, lost a head coach, hiring a new baby coach now that Gruden is actually starting to get gray hairs), but favored? Meanwhile, I think the Steelers outmatch the Ravens, who were handed a gift last week, and not just by the officials on that no call on that delay of game moment late. Miami was outmatched too. Still, might be an upset.

Personally, though it would be nice to see the underdog Cardinals get there, I am not too gung ho about any of the teams. Not a big fan of the Steelers, but the Ravens' win annoyed me. No, it is not lingering problems with them being the Giants the last time Kerry Collins was deep in the postseason. It would be interesting to see Kurt Warner in the Super Bowl again. I was back and forth with the guy. Happy when he won the first time, glad the upstart Pats beat him the second, and now on his side again. Besides, like Collins, Warner had a Giants connection. Yes, his starting job didn't last long, but with the natural dislike of N.Y. fans of anything Philly (like Boston, that city is getting too full of themselves), the favorite on Sunday is a given.

A few more words on Serve The People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China by Jen Lin-Liu. Lin-Liu is a child of first generation Chinese parents and obtained a fellowship allowing her to return to China. While there, she decide to try getting a cooking degree. Her adventures there is the concern of the first part of the book, along with her growing friendship with the "chairman" (more of an administrative position) there, a sixty-ish woman who survived the Cultural Revolution. Next, she interns at a noodle shop and an upscale restaurant, ending things with word of her moving in with her American ex-pat boyfriend and plans to open a cooking school of her own. Lin-Liu provides some local color and later on allows us a bit more of a personal window into her own experiences, her own life and feelings not quite discussed earlier on.

The title of the book is a pun of sorts, since "serve the people" was the motto of Communist China, a theme of the book being the changing nature of the country as it enters the 21st Century. [I still cannot quite get a handle on the fact we on in the "21st Century," which not too long ago implied space travel ala the Jetsons. See also, the charming B-movie that was on last night, Cherry 2000, involving a guy hiring a tracker -- played by Melanie Griffith!* -- to find parts for his busted robot girlfriend. Honestly, it was a fun movie. Took place about a decade from now, which probably will not quite be like that.] It also has many recipes, which is nice, though I cannot cook. Leave Chinese to take-out and restaurants, including the yearly movie/dinner deal a few members of the family do on Christmas.

I'm also somewhat like her fiance, not quite thrilled with expensive restaurants, though am a fan of dining out overall, and ambiance does count. Recently, I went to a decent enough Thai place, in the Bronx to boot. But, the $5 fried bananas was a bit much, ditto the receipts helpfully supplying 18 and 20% tip amounts. Movie theaters these days make much of their money on snacks, including items like soda and popcorn that costs them pennies. Drinks and desserts also provide a prime source of profit at restaurants, slices costing the price of whole pies, mixed drinks costing what a cheap lunch at a takeout place might cost. Or, am I sounding too cheap?

Is Bush really leaving office in less than 80 hours?!


* She had something of a disappointing career, after some promising work as a young actress, and good work in Working Girl and Stormy Monday, which came shortly after Cherry 2000. This was followed by some lame efforts, though Sidney Lumet directed her in Stranger Among Us.