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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Bagging for Biden (or The Next Best Thing)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Where does the Biden devotee land after his candidate's run has ended?

Obama? Clinton? Edwards?

My rebound reaction was Obama. That was aided by an Andrew Sullivan essay in last month's Atlantic that painted the Senator in transcendant terms, not so much in terms of his policy or leadership credentials, but largely in terms of his iconic value as the new face of America in the world. It's a compelling case.

But after watching the CNN debate the other night, I began to feel pulled towards John Edwards. Edwards is a guy who's southern drawl populism has always annoyed me. When he went on a "poverty tour" early last year, I found it hard to not view it in cynical terms. The same goes for his first-in-the-field candidacy announcement from the ninth ward of New Orleans. But after watching the two frontrunners bludgeon one another on Monday night while Wolf Blitzer tried to not completely ignore Edwards changed my view a bit.

When he did get a chance to speak he talked about his universal health care plan and explained why his is universal and Obama's is not (for what it's worth, Obama explained why his isn't universal quite well). Then he talked about poverty, both that or rural America and urban America, that of veterans and that of single moms. And for the first time, he caught my attention.

Since that time I've watched his appearance on Letterman:

I've also just finished watching the tail end of a town hall event in South Carolina in which he fielded questions from participants. And all I can say at this point is that I'm leaning.

I'm leeeeaning.

My absentee ballot arrived in the mail this week for the Feb. 5th Super Tuesday primary. I gotta punch that thing and get it in the mail soon.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:21 AM | link | 5 comments |

The Movement of It

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I am a person given to unreasonable affections and inexplicable attachments to things both insignificant and obscure. Look no further than my fixation with Pilot V-Ball Pens and Del Amitri for evidence.

I think I have a new one: Patrick Daughters, the music video director behind the notorious (thank you, Apple) "1, 2, 3, 4" number by singer/songwriter Feist. What I'm coming to love about his work (I've seen only the four videos he's directed for Feist) is the sense of wonder that the work conveys. He uses live, mostly unedited, movement to create intense, sustained interest in the video's subject, which, in every case I've seen so far, is Feist herself.

Here are four videos below, beginning with the most recent, "I Feel It All." Take a few minutes to watch them and see if you're not also fixed to them in a curious and wonder-ful way.

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:57 AM | link | 0 comments |

The Waiter Chronicles Diner Profile: The I-Know-Just-Enough-To-Be-A-Total-Tool Guy

Friday, January 18, 2008

This guy knows a little bit about cocktails. He knows a little about food and a little about coffee. And that little bit of knowledge combines to make him an intolerable menace to the waiter. He never dines alone; he always has a date with him, or some friends or family. Going out to dinner this evening was his idea, and he most likely chose the place. The I-Know-Just-Enough-To-Be-A-Total-Tool guy (hereafter IKJETBATT guy) needs to perform.

He starts by ordering a vodka cocktail. Not a standard cocktail like a vodka tonic, or even a vodka martini. No, the IKJETBATT guy orders a vodka gimlet. When he orders his second one, he'll be sure to point out that the first one was a little "sticky."

When it comes time to order dinner, he'll ask detailed and complicated questions about really simple menu items. He'll ask, for example, how the eggplant parmesan is "presented" (the waiter will make something up while thinking, "On a novel little utility called a plate").

When the IKJETBATT guy's free basket of bread runs out, he won't wait for his server to return to the table so that he can politely request more. Instead, he'll bellow "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me! Can we get some more bread?" to the waiter while the waiter is very obviously attending to a nearby table.

When he orders coffee after dinner he'll ask for a latte. But not just any old latte. He'd like a "no-foam" latte. And when you bring it to him, he'll ask for "a little stirrer or something" since the three spoons at his left hand are obviously not up to the task of stirring the drink.

And, worst of all--this is the move that confirms the diner's identity beyond a shadow of a doubt--when the bill comes, the IKJETBATT guy rewards the waiter for the countless hoops he's had to jump through by tipping at about 11%.

The IKJETBATT guy is hard to miss. He's even harder to forget.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 11:31 PM | link | 0 comments |

The Waiter Chronicles: January Lull

All of December is a mad rush at the Ristorante: the place is fully booked several nights a week, and large parties are the norm; we run out of clean silverware by 7:30. But it's exhilerating. And since we're making so much money, none of the waiters complain.

Then January rolls around, and things slow down. Waaaaay down. The glut of eating and drinking that filled the year's 12th month have taken their toll on the waistline and the conscience by the first week of January. Reservations almost totally dry up, and what people do come in aren't drinking much, and they're steering clear of dessert. It's a little depressing.

What's also depressing is that the Ristorante meets this lull head on by cutting staff on the schedule, starting with the bussers. During the holidays there was at least one--and often two--bussers on every shift. But this last week gave us a busser only once, yesterday, at lunch. Every dinner service this week has been covered by two or three lonely waiters; the bussers are on holiday.

Which would seem to be fine, given the above observation about the slow traffic. It's just that waiting tables without a busser is, I'm coming to believe, twice as difficult as having one. The mental and physical exertion are nearly doubled when the waiter has to fetch bottomless baskets of bread and refill countless iced teas for tables. With a busser, a waiter can relax when a table leaves; get the check from the table, close the ticket, attend to other tables. But without one, a table's departure is a horn-blast signaling him to battle.

Clear the glasses. Clear the dishes. Roll up the paper. Wipe down the chairs. Bring a new paper. Bring plates, silverware, napkins, glasses.

Seriously, my legs hurt more this morning, after a week of January traffic, then they ever did during the holidays. Maybe it's that I'm a month older. Maybe it's that I'm ready to be done with this whole chapter, so the discomfort is more apparent. Maybe it's just less adrenaline. Whatever the case, my feet are aching for February.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:00 AM | link | 1 comments |

Bagging for Biden (for Secretary of State)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Our perfect candidate has quit the race.

Everyone saw this coming. Biden's been saying for weeks that if he finished a distant fourth in Iowa he would drop out. He finished fifth. He's a man of his word.

The Senator from Delaware seems to be a candidate fit for another time than this one. With an iconic change figure like Obama and a practiced heavyweight like Clinton available as options, voters seem to have looked at Biden as "just a friend": he's smart, funny, reliable--great marriage material; just not the person you want to be seen dancing with.

I concede Biden's defeat graciously and congratulate the Senator on his campaign. Now watch him get back to work as a serious national leader.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:19 PM | link | 3 comments |