Friday, April 28, 2006


Chris was working late a few nights last week, and inevitably when he does that I end up watching a bit too much TV and knitting until my fingers hurt. So last week I saw my second episode ever of House, yet another hospital drama in which poor, sick patients are plagued (literally, in that this particular poor patient had the Black Plague!) with unknown yet horribly gruesome ailments. And I realized the show is really pretty sadistic. This poor woman was being driven insane by insomnia, suffered nose bleeds and rectal bleeds and internal hemorhaging and the painful ministrations of the doctors (can I just say rectal exam, and the camera focusing on her face contorting in agony? ugh!) and ultimately liver failure. But of course in the end, her lesbian lover whom she wants to dump donates half a liver in order to be her heroine and save her and trap her into never leaving, so she lives and it's all okay. And the show opens with a Massive Attack song which is certainly something you don't hear every day on TV. But I think I've had enough of House for a little while. Coming up on my Netflix queue in not too long is Anne of Green Gables, the mini-series that they showed on Sunday nights on PBS back in 1985 and that I adored. In fact, I remember one Sunday night when the Emanuels came over for dinner and Jill and Lauren wanted to watch Punky Brewster which, of course, was on at the same time as my beloved Anne, and we got into an argument about what to watch. I think we ended up in separate rooms. Not sure if I ever confessed to the fact that we had already set up the VCR to record it...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

twisted logic

Moussaoui, I have no doubt, will be sentenced to death sometime in the next few days. And if he is, this will be despite the fact that he was in jail on September 11th, 2001, despite the fact that he seems to have been a bit player in the planning of September 11th, 2001 and not the mastermind that he claims, and despite the fact that though he is clearly, if evil, also off his rocker and just dying (quite literally) to be a martyr. And all of this also despite the fact that apparently the United States has in its custody two of the men who actually were deeply involved in the September 11th terrorist attacks but whom our government has chosen not to bring to trial.

But wait. It gets even weirder. Moussaoui's defense team has submitted evidence - testimony from these two men in U.S. custody. They claim that Moussaoui didn't have much to do with the plannning of or the execution of the September 11th plot, that they themselves are responsible. But here's the clincher. This testimony was most likely obtained under torture. That's right. The U.S. government tortured these guys, they took responsibility, and now that testimony is being used against the U.S. government who is prosecuting this other guy for the same crimes. And the suspicious-minded amongst us might wonder--how did the defense get this testimony in the first place? And to what purpose? I would assume that the CIA is not just handing out secret intelligence to defense lawyers, certainly not in this administration. And yet. Maybe, just maybe, the government wants to set a precedent for trials to include testimony obtained through torture, but couldn't play that card on its own. Besides, this particular testimony hurts their case, though probably not enough to prevent an execution.

This from the April 17th New York Times:

"As the jury considered whether Mr. Moussaoui, the only person to be charged in an American courtroom with the Sept. 11 plot, was involved in it enough to serve as a proxy for the 19 hijackers who died that day, no one mentioned an obvious issue. What about the involvement of those who gave testimony about the plot who are in American custody? Why aren't they on trial?

The answer, not shared with the jury, is that these Qaeda officials, who include another financier and the man who was supposed to be the 20th hijacker, are being held overseas in the Central Intelligence Agency's secret prison system and have been subjected to interrogation techniques that would make it difficult to bring them to trial."

I can only imagine what those techniques may have been, and the results they may have had, but I find that last line, in all of its simplicity, to be one of the most chilling things I have ever read. And this is not the Soviet gulag, or a Latin American dictatorship, or a Chinese cultural revolution re-education program. This is our country.

Friday, April 07, 2006

the rule of four

Just finished reading a rather silly book, The Rule of Four, but this passage, read on the A train hurtling north beneath this city, I found strangely moving:

"Imagine, Paul said to me once, that the present is simply a reflection of the future. Imagine that we spend our whole lives staring into a mirror with the future at our backs, seeing it only in the reflection of what is here and now. Some of us would begin to believe that we could see tomorrow better by turning around to look at it directly. But those who did, without even realizing it, would've lost the key to the perspective they once had. For the one thing they would never be able to see in it was themselves. By turning their back on the mirror, they would become the one element of the future their eyes could never find."

Monday, April 03, 2006

perfect day

Beautiful Sundays, crisp and sunny, with no plans or obligations, seem like a rare jewel, and yesterday was one of those perfect days. We slept in luxuriously late, after not getting home until pretty late the night before from a lovely dinner party in Hell's Kitchen. We went to Angela's to get eggs & cheese on rolls and cups of coffee, brown-bagged it up to Fort Tryon Park, and ate our deliciously greasy sandwiches on a bench overlooking the Hudson River. We meandered our way through the park, admiring the crocuses and daffodils, smelling the new growth on the boxwoods, and gawking at the one lone forsythia bush frothing all over the place. Came home, basked in the sunlight streaming in our living room windows, books or crocheting projects in hand. Decided to cook ourselves a real dinner for a change. Went to the grocery store. Came home to find that our friend Sam was in the neighborhood with his girlfriend, visiting his parents. We put out some cheese and crackers we happened to have on hand, and a bowl of those wasabi rice crackers I find so addicitve, opened a nice pinot grigio. Had an impromptu and lovely mini dinner party, our groceries for two supplemented by their contribution of a couple dishes from the Indian restaurant around the corner. Went to sleep early, satiated and satisfied by a day well spent.

Minted Mashed Potatoes:
4-5 medium red-skinned potatoes
2-3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup milk
salt & pepper to taste

Dice the potatoes and boil in water until tender and easily mashable, about 20 minutes. Drain, mash, add butter and stir until butter is all melted and mixed in. Stir in milk and mint. Add touch of salt & pepper.

Spinach Salad:
Package of baby spinach, crumbled goat cheese, dried cranberries, some walnuts, and clementine slices, drizzled with simple oil & vinegar. (We stole this idea from the aforementioned dinner party, and it's deliciously easy.)

a couple of chicken breasts
sun dried tomatoes
goat cheese
white wine

We planned to attempt stuffed chicken breasts, and made the stuffing with the goat cheese, sun dried tomates, and chopped garlic, just all mixed up in a bowl. But what with the unexpected company, and the fact that we only had one full breast, we ended up browning the breast in some butter, cutting it up into smaller pieces, and then continuing to cook the pieces on the stove with the goat cheese mixture just thrown into the saute pan with the chicken, becoming a delicous sauce instead of stuffing. It turned out wonderfully, and there was just enough for all four of us to have a little taste.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

what i'm listening to right now

Sequentia's Lost Songs of a Rhineland Harper (X & XI Centuries). We were lucky enough to see Benjamin Bagby and his medieval music ensemble, Sequentia, at Corpus Christi Church on 121st Street here in Manhattan last October. I found myself entranced by this strange, charismatic man and this strange, ancient music that he so obviously adores. And a couple days ago Chris very sweetly got for me the recording of the program that we saw. My favorite description, this of a piece entitled Veni, dilectissime: "Emerging from beneath the monastic censor's black ink, this is probably the oldest surviving erotic dance-song in Latin."