Restaurant Week: On Tuesday night, I went out to dinner with friends from flyertalk. Greg always makes a couple of reservations for Restaurant Week and, even though it was the less exciting menu, the one at The Prime Rib was the one I was free for. The food was about as expected (classic American food, prepared well), the atmosphere is nice (albeit a bit stuffy) and the restaurant week deal is good value. But the service was indifferent. For example, they didn't ask if we wanted drinks and, in fact, did not bring a wine list until explicitly asked to. More egregiously, they didn't ask if anyone wanted coffee or tea with dessert. Overall, things felt rushed. On the plus side, they did offer us separate checks. Still, we tend to remember the service deficiencies and they certainly influence our decisions on where to go in the future, including non-restaurant week meals.
Women Who Changed Things and Died Last Week: That drink I practically had to beg for was a Campari and soda, which I ordered in memory of Helen Gurley Brown, who had once recommended it as classy. (It is something I get from time to time, more often at Italian restaurants.) I have mixed feelings about the her. I think that making people aware that women actually like sex was a good thing. And some of her work emphasized the need for women to take responsibility for various areas of their lives, including finances. But I also think she (via Cosmopolitan) never challenged too many aspects of gender roles in our culture.
I also have mixed feelings about Phyllis Diller. I recognize that she was one of a very few women who were successful as stand-up comics in her day. But so much of her comedy was self-deprecating. I'm not a fan of insult comedy and it can be painful when the person being insulted is the one telling the jokes.
The Men of Celebrity Death Watch: Harry Harrison wrote science fiction. Ron Palillo played Horshack on Welcome Back, Kotter. William Windom was a character actor who starred in the much funnier sitcom, My World and Welcome to It which was based on James Thurber's work. Scott McKenzie performed San Francisco (Be Sure to War Flowers in Your Hair), a song I am vaguely embarrassed to admit I like. I also like Kokomo which he wrote for the Beach Boys.
The death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, raises interesting questions about the political future of that country. Mr. Meles had initially helped Eritrean rebels and then, when in office, pursued the border war with Eritrea, so there could be some more turmoil in a region that has plenty already.
Finally, Johnny Pesky was a Red Sox hero, as much for his continued support of the team after he was no longer playing as for his performance during his career. That kind of association of a baseball player with a single team is rare in this day and age. And, by all accounts, Pesky was a true gentleman. Times are sad enough at Fenway this season (sigh).
Speaking of Baseball: I went to watch the Nationals play the Mets on Friday night. This was a case of divided loyalties for me, as I grew up an ardent Mets fan but I live here now and I am happy to see the Nats doing well. The game wasn't brilliant on either side, frankly, though I was pretty favorably impressed with Ryan Zimmerman's fielding. I had a good time and most of the rain held off until the game was over. It was also retro cap night, allowing me to add to my collection of ballpark gimmes. By the way, I am leaning towards getting season tickets for next year.
As If I Am Not Busy Enough: Speaking of season tickets, I ordered a subscription to the Washington Ballet. Those of you who have heard my rant on the subject of Swan Lake, the most nonsensical story ever to be immortalized choreographically, may now faint. Those of you who have never heard my rant on Swan Lake will have an opportunity on September 19th when I am performing the story it is part of at Friendship Heights Village Center in Maryland. Note that the series I subscribed to does not include any Tchaikovsky.
Story Swap: I hosted this months story swap on Saturday night. That meant spending most of my spare time during the week and all day Saturday cleaning up my place. Amazingly, it is possible to fit 20 people into my living room. We had a good mix of stories, including a lovely Ethiopian version of The Lion's Whisker told by Chris, who came all the way from Baltimore. I told Sawing Off Manhattan for the first time in a while and I think it went over fairly well. As always, storytelling continues to be fun.
Knitting Group: Finally, I went to knitting group on Sunday. I worked a little on each of two projects. I also showed off the pearl yarn and the merino I'd bought in Australia. The conversational highlight was the rather diplomatic statement regarding one person helping another which ran, "You didn't screw it up. You just didn't do it right."