Saturday, January 31, 2004

It's been a while. I've noticed a small phenomenon happening, some of my links actually posting about what's on my mind--not saying what I would say, no, but saying what they have to say on the very subject which is on my mind. And yet these people have no way of knowing I even exist, let alone what's happening over here.

Today, it's about random thoughts again.

Before I start, open a parenthesis:

Open All Night has a great post (January 30) on opening/not opening his door to strangers/friends. I admit I've been there, all the way. Laughing Knees has a very moving post on being a stranger in America (January 20).

Some of my old links are not back on yet. I miss Leila, and Fatshadown, and Me, Myself and I. One of these days, I'll get my act together.

End of parenthesis.

The news that have had the focus of my attention these days are the stories about "intelligence" and "freedom of the press" on both sides of the Atlantic.

In Amurca, we have David Kay and Bush and Halliburton, and the War on Turr. David Kay has resigned, two junior executives at Halliburton have admitted they were taking kickbacks and have been slapped on the wrist, and Bush has assured us "They promised not to do it again". And the world goes on. (Reform Medicare, forbid the government to shop for cheaper drugs, drive seniors to private insurance, don't worry, go shopping downtown, keep the economy going with your tax savings. Everything's hunky-dory, right on target).

In the UK, the Brits had David Kelly (notice, another "David K"... Hum!) committing suicide, Blair demanded an apology from the BBC ("all their fault"), Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke have resigned, and instead of all the parties involved going in for a little self-reflection, everybody is muddling on, business as usual. (Everything hunky-dory, right on target. Raise the education fees, muzzle the press, keep on going on).

Even though the style is different in each place, the message from those in power is the same: "What we do is what is right, natch. Don't bother your pretty little head worrying about whether it's the right thing or not, if we tell you more than three times it's the truth, it is the truth."

It is just like it was in The Hunting of the Snark:

"* * * The proof is complete.
If only I've stated it thrice."

Ah! But those elusive WMDs are the Snark in the fairy tale, you see. Remember how they looked for it?

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care,
They pursued it with forks and hope,
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.

I fear in this case this particular WMD/Snark will also turn out to be a Boojum, and we shall all "softly and suddenly vanish away".

Maybe the whole script came from Condy through Laura, who loves children's books so much she probably has her very own copy of the Complete Works of Lewis Carroll.

And y'all thought it was Rove et al's readaptation of Eric Blair?

It is hard for me not feel cynical these days, reading about Nixon and Kissinger's involvement and responsibility in the Pol Pot horror show. And we all remember Madeleine Albright's "We think it's worth it", you know the line I mean...

* * * * *

I must needs change to another channel.

The Hajj is on (pilgrimmage to Mecca). Probably the most famous pilgrim this time around is an old Indian man, reportedly the oldest man in the world at 126. He is accompanied by two younger members of his family, as he is rather frail. As the story goes, he has also been blind for the past 50 years. His travelling expenses have been paid by someone who heard it was his life dream to go. He himself does not remember how long he has wanted to go.

Doesn't that little story just make you laugh at the idea that for most of us, we are still wondering what the heck life is all about?

I mean, just stick around for as long as you can, and then if your dream comes true, at least you will be able to say: "Maybe that's what it was all about, I just had to fulfill my dream."

I've added a link to Julie's Cafe. She's brand new to the blogosphere, and a Republican, for heavens' sakes. What's that old saying: "Some of my best friends are Republicans?" How does she do it, I wonder. Still, I'm adding her for now because she has grandiose dreams. I hope she never whittles them down, even though I also hope for her sake and her children's sakes that she will take a good look at where she is heading. Welcome Julie!

Yesterday, I had a Star Trek festival at Janna's. She'd gone visiting for the evening and she gave me her keys, so that I could watch TV if I wanted.

It was strange watching without her, without having to fill her in on what was happening, and actually giving my full attention to the advertisements. I missed her, but I also did enjoy my Star Trek festival very much.

Of course, the full flavor of watching with Janna can only be experienced in spy stories, police blotter stories, you know, "action" stories. She always spots the double agents, way, way ahead of the script. "I am the daughter of the KGB", she laughs. I myself always spot the killers, "I am the daughter of MI5", I laugh.

A typical joke: "How did she find the hairpin to open the lock?"

"The producer left it there for her... He always takes care of such things."

Suspension of disbelief. Watching TV trains us for world politics. We are ready to accept that everyone has a "spook handler" behind him. Sorry, change that to "spin master".

On the home front, I am still cooking. Being a displaced person, I don't have any ethnic specialty to boast of (unless beans on toast, roes on toast, Welsh rarebit, cucumber sandwiches, kippers et al qualify).

I create my own myths from what's around, mindful that all ethnic dishes were all originally made from available ingredients. For instance, for a paella, you walked around your garden, plucking an onion, a pepper, a tomato, herbs, the odd snail or two, and you threw it together with the old leftover chicken, every time something was slightly different. Not for you the one-eighth of a smidgeon of dried mixed herbs of a recipe in a cookbook! So, every so often I get creative with the leftovers and the odd little things on my shelves, to see what happens. After all, mayonnaise was invented by a chef who wanted to make bechamel sauce, and he didn't have butter and milk and flour, and he did have olive oil and eggs, and voila! An army does not march on an empty stomach. In those days, if the General wasn't satisfied with what was put on the table, the chef had to commit suicide as a point of honor. Necessity is the mother of invention, and all that jazz.

Today, I had an unexpectedly delicious stovetop casserole of brown rice with one whole onion, half a zucchini, half a squash, one egg, and a small jar of Komatsu (enoki, oyster and rameko mushrooms, bamboo shoots and fungus), to which I added a small leftover piece of yogurt cheese, plus spices (paprika, pepper flakes) and a little olive oil. Deeeeeeelicious! I wish there were some leftovers for tomorrow.

I remember well in the RSBH in Margate (a hospital where I spent several months as a child), where the post-war rations were meager indeed, we would exchange recipes for hours at a time, of an evening. My favorite in those days was Hungarian goulash. The recipe, I mean, I had never actually tasted it. It needed too many coupons. It's funny how this "non-memory" is a "happy memory", with the passage of time. The only real Hungarian goulash I remember eating is the one I was served at Mount Sinai Hospital in 1974, the evening before an operation. To be frank, I don't care if I never have it again, but in 1954, the idea was absolutely wonderful.
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