Stars (granted and assumed)

Lots of flap around town lately concerning New York Times reporter Amanda Hesser’s restaurant reviews. Eurotrash has condemned her reviews two weeks in a row, leading others to speculate on her style and rationale.

Nearly lost within the hubbub are two facts: one, Hesser is a temp, holding the position of house critic until the Times picks a permanent replacement (which is good, because Hesser is a good writer, but plainly not cut out for reviews); and two, even if she’s only fair at the gig, she’s a lot better than Marian Burros, who held the position for a few weeks after William Grimes’s departure.

Still, while she has some fair excuses, Hesser is not doing a great job with her seat. And the news that her three-star review of Spice Market scratched the back of a chef who heaped glowing praise on the dust jacket of her last book is pretty damned uncomfortable.

Another March 29

Why do people give up weblogs?

Regular readers of this site (hi, Mom) know that my blogging goes in cycles. I can go weeks without a post at times, and ramp up to daily postings or more at others. I retain the Ideapad, in all its pre-Movable-Type, non-RSS, aging-design glory, because it remains my outlet for creative thinking and personal writing, not to mention the occasional critique or clever thought: an ideapad as originally writ.

All of the opinions expressed in “Why do people give up weblogs?” are shared by me on occasion: no time, no interest, wrong audience, wrong focus, unimportant. At the end of the month, though, I do like to look back and see what I’ve been thinking. That compels me, even in dry spells, to keep this site going, long after I first thought of shutting it down.

In related news, I turn 31 today, a rather insignificant birthday on a rather insignificant day. I will have steak tonight with my wife, and it will be lovely, and later this week I will find something else to write about, like how my wife’s friend’s friend’s future mother in law was the bethonged older woman videotaped in Bloomingdale’s earlier this month. And the Ideapad, like my age, marches proudly on.

The New York I know

The city is cold and wet this morning, the snow a stark turnaround from the mild weather of the previous week. But the rhythms of the city are unchanged, the general tenor of the subways no more aggravated than any other Monday.

The newspaper salesman on 15th and Park has retreated from his usual corner to a dry spot by the subway staircase. He takes my $10 bill without complaint. “See you tomorrow,” he says with a genuine smile, recognizing me, expecting my return, even though I only buy from him one or two days per week.

The breakfast cart on 33rd and 9th has a big cooler atop its front wheels, filled with juices and water on ice. I buy a Tropicana and a buttered egg roll; I don’t usually buy juice from a cart, so I have to ask, “How much?” The two people inside grin and say, “First time shopping here?” I say yes, and one says, “Oh! Then take a donut, on us, any one you like. Welcome!” I decline the pastry—”Get out of here, you’re gonna make me fat”—and the other vendor gives me a free banana instead. “See you soon!” they say as I depart, sheepishly, breakfast and freebie in hand. And indeed they will.

The snow has stopped and the clouds are lightening. At lunch I will try and become a regular at the local deli.

AT&T Upgrade Downgrade

The masses are chattering: both Slashdot and Engadget are discussing the AT&T “upgrade” of the Sony Ericsson T68i.

The Engadget article unearths some useful news, too: the T68i was only using half of AT&T Wireless’s network capacity, which is prompting their switch. Of course, the marketing folks at AT&T Wireless would rather downgrade my phone than admit that yes, the poor reception I’ve experienced is real, not perceptive.

But without this knowledge, I simply came to believe my cell phone service stunk. I switched to Verizon Wireless Tuesday and am thrilled with my reception thus far. So much for my free phone.