Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Brief Pause in Bloggin

Path in the Fells Posted by Hello
It's a slow blogging week in dillard land. Between moving to a new apartment (hooray for Somerville!), a close friend's wedding (my first Halloween costume wedding), AND my training for my new doula job with local hospitals, I'm just juggling about all I can handle. This isn't even including the um, full time desk job. So I'll just share a soothing photo of New England (another one from the walk in the Fells) and promise I will be back soon with more stories about placentas than you ever, ever wanted to know about.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Weekend in New England

More leaves and tree in stream Posted by Hello I took my camera toy with me on a hike in the Middlesex Fells this past weekend and had some fun playing with the leaves in the water. I was pleased with how these came out. The Fells is one of those urban oases. It reminds me of Rock Creek Park in DC. You could wander for hours -- and get quite lost -- in the Fells but at the same time you are only a few miles north of the city. It's a good place to go when you need to see nothing but trees and water. And fun fact for the day -- Fells is a Saxon word for a rocky, hilly tract of land. The Middlesex Fells certainly qualifies. There is even a cave where a panther supposedly hung out.

Oh and by the way, on the way there you should stop at Modern Pastry in downtown Medford. It's the sister shop of the one in the North End and has arguably the best cannoli in town. My mom, however, prefers their chocolate covered torrone (a world apart from the horrid stuff you'll find at grocery stores), and it is truly amazing nougaty gooey stuff. She makes me bring some to Pennsylvania whenever I go home. While you can't order the cannoli elsewhere in the US, they will ship you the torrone and you won't be sorry.

Everybody loves autumn in New England. Some of these trees are just crazy colors, so red they hurt your eyes. And that's just on the walk to the bus stop.

Leaves and Tree in Stream Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Snack Time: Food Quest Update

Here I am at another Food Quest Fulfilled. Posted by Hello
As promised, I made it to Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, MI during a trip to Detroit for a family wedding. That's me outside, happily drinking coffee and gripping the paper sack filled with the best rugelach I've ever had. Most rugelach is crumbly and boring, but this was tender and full of nuts and insanely expensive. And you think Boston is expensive for ice cream? Here the standard for fancypants ice cream would be about $3.25. At Zingerman's, $4.50. Whew! They also had $40 containers of olive oil. It was all very intriguing, although I wasn't completely sucked in as I'd read Cook's Illustrated's tasting of boutique olive oils. So instead I dropped $7.50 on a chocolate bar with cayenne pepper. I know, I'm insane.

An Art Snippet

No deep thoughts today but I did want to acknowledge that I do occasionally still think about art. I've finished up one painting, am stuck on another, and I'm trying to figure out if this other one is going to move forward or not. I'm also pondering whether or not I feel comfortable sharing the progression of my work on this blog -- as in uploading photos of my current work. It's awfully public and my little painter soul is a bit shy. I don't mind talking about it, but as I know from my own experience, reading about art is not the same as seeing it. I find it incredibly frustrating to read a long critique of a piece with no piece to look at to see what they are saying. So ... I guess I'm thinking about sharing my stuff here, at least stuff that is reasonably palatable. Stay tuned.

Also did a little bit of sketching with pastels last night. I forget how satisfying that is. I took a class last summer at the CCAE, and the biggest tip I got out of it was to start with dark paper. The pastels really "pop" against this background and it also accenuates texture and negative space in a very pleasing way. So last night I did a quick self portrait on some navy blue paper, and I was reasonably pleased with it. The trick is to start with dark colors and layer up to the highlights with the light colors. A great effect.

Sometimes I wonder if I should be drawing more than painting. My paintings tend to be less about paint and more about communicating an idea along with the emotional impact of that idea. And I'm still so new to paint that I think I draw with the brush instead of painting. However, when I try to draw something I get so tangled up in accuracy. I want the object to look like something, I want to be concise and precise and smooth. Paint releases me from that restriction somehow.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Disturbing Shrubbery Trend

I have never liked those weird purple cabbages that people use in the cold weather months as foliage in their gardens and window boxes. Ornamental, pah!

But the new trend seems to be swiss chard. Swiss chard is not for decor! It is for eating! Yes, it has nice colors. But it just weirds me out to see things that I am supposed to be eating used in formal garden settings like the Boston Public Garden. Even if I don't really ever eat them. It just seems wrong. What's next, cheese sculpture?

I'm just sharing my indignation here, and no, I do not have a point.

Time for Everyone to Move to Pittsburgh

I was just there this weekend (accidentally but happily due to a late take-off. Thanks USAir!), and saw this in the Sunday paper. Youch. My folks and I thought it was a mistake in the price. But it's not a mistake. Make sure you look at all the photos and the price. And that there are others in similar range.

Let me remind you that I live in Boston, and even in the suburbs of Boston, you couldn't buy a condo made out of old newspapers and elmer's glue for this price. I lived next door to a triple decker in Somerville where one floor (a one bedroom one bathroom place) sold for $450,000 last year in a week. That's no land, no garage, no nuthin. It just isn't do-able here, not even a dream. But elsewhere it is totally possible. Pretty wild!

Friends are starting to move there. Maybe it is time for more friends to move there. We just need to pick a neighborhood and take over a street. Ok!

More Trials of HK, Part 2

This is a continuation of the previous post. Here is a quick summary of 3 episodes detailed by Hitchens in which Kissinger allowed massacres and coups to happen without US intervention or condemnation, and in fact they were sometimes approved and/or supported.

In 1970, Pakistan democratically elected Mujibar Rahman, whose politics were the opposite of the previous military regime of General Khan (who had not allowed open elections for the previous 10 years). The military regime decided they wanted to stay in power after all, and this regime began to murder those who protested, at numbers somewhere between 500,000 to 3 million. Nixon/Kissinger had a good relationship with Khan and in fact supplied weapons to the regime, and when General Khan began massacring the protestors, the US said nothing and did nothing to condemn these actions. Reasons given: don't want to threaten fragile relationship with China, even though we had other mutual friends with China and this would not threaten it.

In Cyprus in the early 1970s, Kissinger was aware of a planned coup of democratically elected leader, Presidenet Makori, whose unarmed rule in a peaceful country was being challenged by both Greece and Turkey. The Greek dictator decided to mount a coup -- and was a client of US military aid and sympathy. Kissinger was encouraged by Senator William Fulbright to stop the coup, but Kissinger ignored him. Later, Kissinger also approved of an invasion by Turkey. Why? Kissinger's connections to Greek and Turkish armies. Kissinger still denies even knowing about these situations (claiming there was just too much else going on in the world for him to pay attention to such a small country), which according to this telephone transcript is now obviously not true.

Finally, the nightmare that is East Timor (click here for an eye-popping National Security Archives document). In 1975, Ford and Kissinger were visiting Indonesia a few days before Indonesia invaded East Timor. Kissinger and Ford denied knowing anything about the planned invasion which the above link completely disproves. In fact, this document says the two men gave Indonesia a “greenlight to the invasion,” and outfitted with American weaponry, leading to the death of somewhere between 100,000 and 230,000 East Timorese (out of a population of 600,000).

Yep. This book leaves you with a heavy heart. American history isn't pretty, that's for sure. And this was only 30 years ago. It’s pretty unfathomable how many people can die because one guy doesn’t step in the way.

More Trials of HK, Part 1

As you may have noticed, I’ve been pondering why so many folks are upset with Henry Kissinger. So I watched the movie, The Trials of Henry Kissinger, and I’ve recently finished the book on which the movie was based. In my last long post about Kissinger, I gave a quick summary of the movie’s points. I’m not sure if such summary is boring to you, dear reader, but I do it for your own good. I do it with the vision of you standing at a party drinking your oh-so-hip mojito and somehow, mysteriously, talk of Kissinger emerges. (It happens more than you’d think!). Instead of pretending to nod along knowledgeably at the right moments, perhaps that little summary enabled you to smoothly insert a snide comment about the relationship between Pepsi-Cola and Chile and impress everyone. And that’s the whole point of knowing about politics, isn’t it?

No, no, no, that’s not my vision. My vision is my own memory of feeling like a bonehead whenever this kind of stuff came up. My high school history classes invariably started at 1642 and hit summer vacation at 1927. On the AP American history test I remember acing everything until I got asked a question about the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. I was old enough to remember this happening, but I’d never learned a thing about the hows and whys. But how can one possibly learn the details of the missing 70 years on my own? Well, I had to try, and hey, part of the fun is sharing the learning with others.

Anyhow, with that vision in mind, in my next post I’ll give you a quick summary of Hitchen’s list of Kissinger’s sins. Someone else can review the book – I mostly just wanted to get a sense of his reasoning. The book goes into several other areas of Kissinger scariness than the movie -- no surprise there. To recap, in the movie, the main thrust of the case is about Kissinger's direct actions and their results, namely his delaying of the peace talks in Vietnam, his expansion of that war into Cambodia and Laos, and his approval (or possibly direction) of the assassination of Chilean General Rene Scheider, who was standing in the way of a military coup to get rid of democratically elected Allende. These three circumstances are relatively easy to trace back to Kissinger and actions he took.

In addition to the above, the book details indirect action: Kissinger's tacit approval and support of several staggeringly murderous regimes. My next post will have the summary of these events. (It seems my post is getting a bit long so I'm doing it in two parts).

Kissinger pop-ups

I love it when I'm more topical than I mean to be. After my post a few weeks back, Kissinger has been popping up in the news again like there is some twisted form of media whack-a-mole going on. (No, I'm not implying he is like a mole, although Hitchens probably wouldn't mind the comparison). Jack Shafer of Slate has written two articles about him in the past week or so, the better one being how is studiously avoiding talking to the NYT in the face of recently released telephone transcipts from the National Security Archives. (Ain't the Freedom of Information Act the coolest thing ever?)

I haven't yet given my take on Hitchens' book, The Trials of Henry Kissinger. C'mon, people, give me some slack, a book takes longer to read and digest than a movie! Ok, I'll try to get it in today. Hang in there. Check back in a bit. And then a foodquest update? It's important to have a little politics and then a little snack, I think. Which leaves the burning question: will I ever write about art again?