Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Doughnuts Didn't Fail Me

I've been trying to compare disappointments.

Is the denial of a child's joy in a new anticipated pleasure a greater letdown than an adult's disappointment in the denied renewal of a long-remembered delight?

As the disappointed adult, I believe mine was greater.

Returning from a wedding in the place we lived two decades ago, my daughter bought me three things I once loved but have not even seen in that long. The Sunday New York Times, chocolate-covered custard doughnuts from Swan's bakery, and two smoked eels.

Only the doughnuts did not disappoint. Magnificent. Bigger and containing more custard than ever. A complete and total bust of my week's calorie count. But delicious, and once in 20 years is fine.

The eels were not plump and succulent as my memory attests. They were small, dried out, over salty and likely been around for a number of weeks. I would like to believe they would never have been offered for sale in my new hometown. Disgusting. But my craving for them is gone.

But it was the Sunday New York Times that nearly made me cry.

Because the print news business is in financial trouble, it is understandably smaller in size. But it was much reduced in quality. And I am not necessarily talking content. The Style and Arts section had whole columns that were blank. The paper felt awful and nothing held together.

I think I am ready to vote for the trees and nix paper consumption.

The book section was the worst. The fold was uneven so the right side of the pages were almost an inch narrower than the left, making turning the page difficult.

And the list of bestsellers! What a nightmare. In case you, too, have not glimpsed the NYT book section in many years, be forewarned.

There are two lists each of fiction and non-fiction, from 16 to 25 entries long in the following categories:

Combined Print and E-Book Best Sellers
Print: Hardcover Best Sellers
E-Book Best Sellers
Print: Paperback Best Sellers Trade Fiction
Print: Paperback Best Sellers Mass Market Fiction
Print: Advice, How To and Miscellaneous
Children: Picture Books, Chapter Books, Paperback Books, Series

Who uses this information and why?

It's just another thing to divide us and drive us crazy with too much data. I swear there is some conspiracy set to make our brains explode.

I'm glad I live in the country in another state and read Frank Rich on my computer.

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