Sushi Friday

oyamatypeOyama Japanese Cuisine in Cromwell has received two and half reviews with various type of B grades. It’s sliding. My impressions are reinforced by various online reviews. The setting remains – good parking, no sports over the sushi bar, a reasonable price for the quantity of food, a brown rice option (dried out and one corner absolutely cold at last visit.)

Pretty much everything else has declined, though. The miso soup’s flavor does not compensate for the lack of tofu, wakame, and scallion. Teddy, one of two actual Japanese sushi chefs in the area, retired, and the Chinese replacements don’t quite have it. The escolar lacked the usual buttery smoothness. One piece of the tuna had no crunch. The snapper refused to yield to my front teeth so I had to chew the large pieces whole. Even the salmon, usually flavorful and also buttery, had no personality.

The formerly unobtrusive and friendly service varied between obtrusive, with two waitresses having a loud conversation nearby and the hostess sniffling over her soup at a table behind me, and non-existent since the chef disappeared and waited until I was ready to leave to ask how I liked the food.

Revised grade: C+

Quick Hit

allergies

Not much to say tonight as my eyes are recovering from a day of contact lenses that felt like two little pieces of sandpaper. Even though temps did not reach 50 degrees today, the pollen in central Connecticut has begun its march toward full leaf and flower. Many folks are predicting a dreadful season because our god-awful winter. WebMD disagrees, saying mild temps are more conducive to those extra levels of sneezing, wheezing, eye-watering, etc .

Having awakened this morning with head nearly ready to explode and eyes swollen nearly shut, I predict a season of extreme suffering.

Please forgive mistakes. I’ll try more of substance tomorrow.

Eye of the Beholder

Conn

Corrupt politicians, like the poor, are always with us. This NPR report exonerates little old Connecticut. And unlike previous reports, New York, not New Jersey comes out on top, or rather on the bottom. And per capita, Louisiana retains top spot.

Here are some highlights from blog entries that Blue swallowed.

“What, Only Twelfth?” from December 18, 2008:

As I was composing this I kept thinking of alternate titles. “Corruption Three Ways.” “Not as Bad as the Neighbors.” “What’s a Bribe Between Friends?” The information comes from the New York Times.  (Update note: the link is gone.) I don’t know if it’s sad or funny to report that poor little Connecticut didn’t make it into the top ten for most corrupt state in any of the three tallies, even though we have a pretty significant roster: an ex-governor who left jail not long ago in connection with some funny business about a hot tub and bribe taking; a former Bridgeport mayor who is still in the federal pen for corruption; a state senator nabbed in the same probe is doing five years for accepting bribes; another former state senator who admitted he had contacted a known mobster about roughing up his granddaughter’s husband. And then there’s the truly despicable former Waterbury mayor who was being wiretapped for corruption when the feds caught wind of the fact that he was molesting two little kids. He pled to the corruption charge and is doing 37 years on the sex assaults.

La

In the reporters’ survey our little neighbor to the east took top prize. Of course Rhode Island has quite play list too: a former governor, the mayors of Providence and Pawcatuck, two Supreme Court justices who were forced out. That’s a lot of busy people for a tiny state. At No. 2 in this survey Louisiana was no surprise either. I won’t repeat the dead girl/live boy comment.

We can still use the slogan suggested by a law professor: “Not as corrupt as you think.”

“Corruption Eruption” from March 20, 2012

When I saw the Courant headline “Report: Connecticut Among Least Corrupt States,” my first reaction was to check the date. Nope, it’s not April 1. Then I looked at the comments following the story. Most of those folks agreed, as I do, that either someone paid off the Center for Public Integrity and their compatriots, or the researchers don’t know their iPad from their MaxiPad. (My characterization.) I mean if New Jersey gets the highest grade, I would think we’re measuring most corrupt, not least. Put “Connecticut, corruption” into Google, and after the news items, the first entry is for ex-con John Rowland, our former governor.

The larger story is certainly revealing but not reassuring. The Center for Public Integrity and its co-investigators polled reporters. Of course New Jersey came in toward the top because the place has cleaned up its act so much compared to what it once was. I guess there was a big category for “making progress.” According to Paul Stern’s excellent analysis, we look good now because we were so bad before. That goes double for New Jersey.

And then they polled those who worked for government. How many people do you know who will call their boss a crook? I don’t think even mob guys do that.

 

Blog Is Back?

ball

Blog went on involuntary hiatus. Here’s a brief summary of what happened in more or less chrono order, except some stuff is on-going.

  • The very early stages of a film project. Stay tuned.
  • A wonderful appreciation dinner for the hospital volunteers.
  • Preparing for a Connecticut Library Association presentation about the veterans’ writing workshop.
  • Walking some miles for the Twain-Twichell hike.
  • Dealing with book contracts.
  • Reading a manuscript submitted by one of the veterans.
  • Reading Gateway to Freedom. That will be a “what I’m Reading Now” as soon as my brain is functioning again.
  • A delightful break at Tea Roses with friend who fell in love with this refuge from the chaos of life.. Kudos to Peggi for five years!
  • The mayor’s black-tie charity ball.
  • A painful afternoon at the dentist, which included seven XRays and much pounding on my jaw/skull to fit the implant and add the crown.

Something of substance will follow.

At Last

spring1 spring2 spring3 spring4I’m in another of those hamster-on-a-wheel days, or juggling plates mode, choose your metaphor. Sunday was occupied with reading through journals, some dating back a couple of months. I couldn’t follow it with getting outside today to enjoy the first 70-degree day since last October or maybe September. But I did manage to photograph  these first happy harbingers of great weather.

 

Pimiento Cheese Sandwiches

pimiento

Dear Kai Ryssdal,

You waxed eloquent on Marketplace in your disbelief about pimiento cheese sandwiches. It is clear from your derisive remarks that you had a deprived childhood, you poor dear. For sure you didn’t grow up in the South or know anyone who did. You must be one of about three people who has never heard of this quick, filling, unpretentious, and very inexpensive choice for lunch or afternoon snack.

Courtesy of the Food Network, here’s the recipe with my additions and suggestions in parenthesis.

Grate two cups of extra sharp cheddar cheese (the recipe calls for yellow, but it really doesn’t matter except for color). Add a half-cup of mayo, three tablespoons of chopped pimientos, two tablespoons of grated onion, a teaspoon of yellow mustard, an eighth-teaspoon of cayenne pepper (I’d double that amount). Salt and pepper to taste. Spread on white bread (traditionally with crusts removed.) (Tomatoes and lettuce are not traditional but don’t hurt.) That’s the basic.

Additions include bacon (also Food Network), Worcestershire sauce (Southern Living), a splash of  brine from the pimientos and garlic (Saveur). SL recommends grilling the finished product, but I’ve never tried that.

May I recommend you ask one of your colleagues from below the Mason-Dixon line to change your opinion by making your one of these great southern classics?

More Reading

write

Brenda Ueland’s If You Want To Write came to me through the usual mysterious paths. I had thought to present it to the veterans’ writing group and may still, even though it assumes that fiction and poetry are the preferred genres.

Nevertheless, Ueland offers a great many valuable insights, and she does so with the insights of a visual artist and a musician. She excoriates people who feel they must constantly be in motion, constantly “acting.” I’ll give just one example. The would-be writer, having sat down to write, encounters no useful thoughts:

No logical thought comes in the first minute or two… A sort of paralysis follows, a conviction of your mental limitations, and you disconsolately go downstairs to do something menial and easy like washing the dishes, while doing so (though not knowing it) having some wonderful, fascinating, extraordinary, original, illuminating thoughts. Not knowing that they are thoughts at all, or “thinking,” you have no respect for them and do not put them down on paper—which you are to do from now on! That is, you are always to act and express what goes through you.

[Her emphasis]

That this gem of a book first appeared in 1938 with a second edition appearing in 1982 and yet another in 2010, is a testament to the universal truths it presents in a way that puts English 101 texts to shame. Though Ms. Ueland drew her experience from teaching a great many women who were housewives or servant “girls,” their writing through her guidance endures.

I will recommend the veterans add it to their reading list.

Reading Next

gateway

The first book in the list is done. Next up: Gateway to Freedom, which has been recommended by at least three people, plus the professional reviewers.

Eric Foner writes in a way to make others jealous: prolific, respected, and ferociously creative. The introduction, which describes the departure of Frederick Bailey, later known as Frederick Douglass, offers a more vivid portrait than Narrative of the Life …, which I have read.

Review to follow.

What I’m Reading Now

sedition

Another in an occasional series. Actually what I finished this morning at 2 a.m. Katharine Grant should have called her novel Seduction rather than Sedition. There’s far more of the former than of rebellion against George III, unless one counts depredations against “Herr Bach,” who probably should count as a statesman.

This work serves as yet another example of a well-plotted tale filled with engaging if sometimes despicable characters in which the denouement leaves the reader saying, “Is that all there is?”See commentary on The Story of Land and Sea and before that The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow. These are not the Jane Austen conclusions in which it is clear that not much more of interest will happen to Lizzie Bennet or Emma Woodhouse. This does Annie a disservice because we never have a chance to see her in a new life. Sequel?

The story opens as wealthy fathers with names out of Dickens – Drigg, Frogmorton, Sawneyford, Brass – determine to find suitable husbands for their daughters. Suitable in this case means titled. They engage a music teacher who will prepare the girls to display their charms by playing a concert. Teacher Claude Belladroit (great wordplay) comes along with new-fangled pianofortes, which are beginning to encroach on the harpsichord. The piano maker and his daughter round out the lead characters. The stars are Alathea, the daughter of the widowed Sawneyford, and the hair-lipped Annie, daughter of the temperamental piano maker Vittorio Cantabile, who is burdened with a mortally ill wife.

Though Grant describes the other daughters with their varying temperaments and styles, they all run together until the outrageously funny concert, when their costumes distinguish them more than their character and performances.

Grant displays a genius for weaving a deep knowledge of “Herr Bach” and music theory into a portrait of a Britain that has just lost its biggest colony and is watching its neighbor across the channel implode to the thump of the guillotine. In one of the most vivid vignettes, a blithely insensitive girl displays blood-stained shoes, probably last worn by a noblewoman or bourgeoise on her walk to her death.

With lots of sex, much violence (the hangman appears in the opening scene), and a riotous display of colorful dress, Sedition fairly howls “movie.” I’ll leave it to others to decide who will play the lead roles.