Christmas Eve 2006

Belated, but not forgotten: the passing of Joe Barbera. Considering how much Saturday morning cartoons I used to watch… Well, salute to the Barbera of Hanna-Barbera.

The soon-to-be-closing of Murder Ink, a NYC mystery bookstore; the NY Times prints the observations of the owner, Jay Pearsall:

A customer who worked at Carmine’s once said it seemed that bookselling must be a lot like tending bar, without the vomit. It’s true that we work hard and fast, serving up recommendations for customers, who sometimes tell us their problems (like the older woman who informed us that the elastic in her underwear had lost its stretch).

But the game couldn’t go on forever. Over the last few years, it didn’t seem to me that there was much that I could do to control the closing of the stores, except to keep adding more flaming torches to the juggling act and await the inevitable crash and burn. It’s become a sad, familiar song on Broadway, and far beyond, that a small, independent store can no longer keep up with the rent. That is why we are closing our doors for good on New Year’s Eve.

Every now and then I comb our apartment shelves for books that I can add to the inventory at the stores. Recently, when I grabbed a copy of “The Plot Against America” by Philip Roth, I noticed one of my scribbled notes sticking out of it: “Every night, just before I leave the store, I take a seat on one of the rolling library stools and reflect on what a great place this is and how I won’t have it much longer.” There’s also written on the slip, in quotation marks (from the Roth book?): “One can only do so much to control one’s life.”

The soon-to-be-closing of La Rosita, on 108th and Broadway – had passed by it many times. Man, what is happening in NYC? Things closing, but what’s opening?

A Brooklyn Heights story, related to our alma mater law school.

I guess during the holidays, there’s much sadness and happiness, and thoughts abound.

And then there’s this: the Yule Log. Channel 11 aired a great documentary on how it came to be – a little Christmas card to New Yorkers everywhere.

A bit of joy – or humor anyway

I’ll post a little joy here:

Before he was Dr. House, he was just Hugh Laurie, British comedian, and they’re releasing DVD’s of his old show “A Bit of Fry and Laurie.” I liked the review NY Times’ Vincent Cosgrove made of the DVD – and it sounds like it’s a great DVD with a fun bonus of Laurie’s days in Cambridge with Emma Thompson and the others:

LONG before Hugh Laurie was captivating and galling American television viewers as the prickly Dr. Gregory House on Fox’s “House,” he was half of the acclaimed British sketch comedy team Fry and Laurie, along with his fellow Cambridge graduate Stephen Fry. (That’s right: Dr. House’s American accent is fake.) Their collaboration began more than 25 years ago, when both were members of the Cambridge Footlights troupe. They went on to team up on numerous TV shows in Britain, but for American audiences they were perhaps best known as Jeeves and Bertie Wooster on the “Jeeves and Wooster” series on “Masterpiece Theater.” [….]

Thankfully, there are recently released DVDs of the first two seasons of “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” the duo’s inspired sketch comedy series, originally broadcast in 1989 and 1990 on BBC2.

Mr. Fry and Mr. Laurie wield words — real or nonsensical — with a precision Henry Higgins would admire. Skewering language, they also conjure a Lewis Carroll-like world. While there are moments of physical comedy, the pratfalls that produce the most laughs are verbal. Sample this prime example of Fry-Laurie gibberish: “Hold the newsreader’s nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers.” [….]

Lamenting TV censors, the two explain that in their next sketch — set in a courtroom — they must use made-up words to describe a crime. Portraying a police officer, Mr. Laurie declares that the defendant called him a “fusking cloff-prunker.” When the judge expresses ignorance of the term, a lawyer (Mr. Fry) defines it as “an illicit practice whereby one person frangulates another’s plimp, my lord. He or she gratifies the other party by smuctating them avially.” Eventually, the bailiff faints.

A bonus on the DVD of the second season is the “Footlights Revue,” first broadcast on BBC in 1982. The performers — including Emma Thompson — are so young that you can imagine them still clutching their diplomas. In one sketch, Mr. Fry, at his mellifluous best, reads from a letter relating his encounter with Count Dracula in Transylvania. Mr. Fry recalls that when the “mighty oaken door” of the castle opened, he beheld the ghastly sight of Dracula’s manservant: “Of all the hideously disfigured spectacles I have ever beheld, those perched on the end of the man’s nose remain forever pasted into the album of my memory.” It’s enough to make the count whirl in his coffin. The rest of us can just have a good laugh.

The most entertaining thing about the Times’ posting this review on-line – well, they put in this clip of Laurie’s singing this hilarious love song (“Mystery… You remain a mystery to me… Different Country. You and I live in a different country… Estuary. I live on a house boat on an estuary…. [You’ve been d]ead since 1973…So why do I still long for you…”). Oh, and trust me – Jeeves and Wooster – too funny. Laurie was great as the total English gentleman idiot Bertie Wooster. Umm, no offense meant of course; just that Bertie really was an idiot… or, as the article notes, Laurie was quite a hoot indeed.


Merry Christmas everyone… posting on X-mas even in Taipei.  Been a very busy week and holiday season.  Lots of people to visit and share with.  Involved with many a church activities as B- joined the community choir group.  They tried to rope me in but alas, I’m the grinch that can’t sing.

Did more shopping and walking around which made it a much nicer Christmas than 2005. Also, this year it seems that the retailers even got better at promoting it too. Spent a lot of $ on books and so it was very happy :).

Except for today and yesterday, weather was comfortably nippy to give it a nice wintery Christmasy feel and that was a nice touch. Tomorrow is a company holiday, but not an official government one. Officially, there aren’t that many Christians in Taiwan so there’s no reason to have it as an official holiday according to the gov’t. Inconveniently, Muslim Malaysia has Christmas as one of their official holidays.  Oops.

Any how, wishing you all a wonderful and safe Christmas and holiday season!

YC & B-