Redheaded Ramblings: Sheila A-stray  

"This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am." -- James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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I will bear witness, 1942 - 1945 The Diaries of Victor Klemperer


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Shrieking wind against my windows. Wrapped in flannel. Drinking coffee. I feel sad ... I wish there were more accord in the world, but at the moment, there is not. And we must move forward in the way that we think is right. Like every other country on the planet. Every country acts in its own self-interest. And we are tarred and feathered for doing the same thing.

Well, fuck all of them. That's how I feel today. Fuck all of them. If the Louvre is attacked, if Big Ben is bombed, guess who they will turn to to back them up?

Well, fuck them.

So here's what I'm going to do.

I'm going to go out, and have a good day, chilling with my parents, enjoying their company, preparing for the advent of a friend of mine and her husband, who are flying in to stay with me for a week. I am not going to watch the news today. I am going to focus on the here and now, the personal relationships, the conversation of things other than world events ... because ... I feel exhausted. I need a day off. The entire thing is feeling PERSONAL to me, and I need a bit of detachment. I am completely convinced of the righteousness of what I believe in. But I need a break. If I check out of political debate for 24 hours, it doesn't mean I'm succumbing to an apathetic indifferent view of the world. I just need to be a "bride married to amazement" for a day.

Because the world is pissing me off.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/15/2003 10:44:00 AM

Saturday, February 15, 2003  


Anti-war protests sweeping the planet, all this debate, all this anger ... I think the anti-war protesters have their heads up their asses. "No to War" say the signs. But WHY? Tell us what we should DO. Do not tell me how you FEEL. Sit around and wait for Saddam to develop a nuclear (nu-q-lar) weapon? I'm getting tired of the whole debate. I'm checking out. I mean, I'll get the passion back ... but right now: I'm tired.

So here's a poem by Mary Oliver (love her) ... called "When Death Comes".

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades;

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/15/2003 10:30:00 AM


My cousin Kerry is now appearing in a new play at The Atlantic Theater Company, called Dublin Carol. Written and directed by Conor McPherson, which is a very big deal. Can't wait to see it. She had some very interesting things to say about what it was like to go from starring in a Broadway musical, where everything needs to be HUGE, and you have to be BIG and expressive ... to this small intimate Irish play, in a small theater, where all you have to do is just stand there, and listen and talk. A jarring transition. "Am I doing enough? Shouldn't I be doing more? I'm just STANDING HERE." I'm sure she's wonderful, and I can't wait to see it.

And two more blogs, begun by my friends, which I wanted to point out ...

A little moment of truth: I created both of them FOR my friends. I admit it freely. They wanted them, and so I created the blogs for them.

Liz's Web Log

The Dancing Irish Jew

  contact Sheila Link: 2/15/2003 10:19:00 AM


So cold here that even with the heat blasting and all our windows closed, I still feel the need to wrap myself up in flannel and fleece.

The family party last night was terrific. A ton of good food, hanging out with my teenage cousin Emma (who is ... basically 45 years old in her soul), laughing, eating. My parents were way at the end of the long table, so I didn't get to talk with them as much as I would have liked. We will hook up today. I will venture out into the freezing white-skied day and go track them down in Manhattan.

Sometimes I look around at the faces of all the people in my large family, and I feel like I want to cry. I don't know why. I'm not "over" them. I love them. I feel like I love them too much, but I can't seem to stop myself. It hurts. It's that kind of thing. A love for my family that HURTS. I want to hover over them and protect them, and let them know how I feel about them. It's exhausting. But it is reality, and I definitely can't change it.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/15/2003 10:13:00 AM


This is a schizo day of blogging ... bleak poetry, happy poetry, flower days, down with romantic love, gaseous emissions from an apartment in Queens, and a look at the UN from someone who knows his stuff.

That's gonna be it for me today. Uzbekistan can wait until next week. Now I have to go get ready for my aunt's 50th birthday party tonight. All my aunts, uncles, cousins ... all of us convening in Manhattan to celebrate. It should be beautiful. Family is always beautiful. I'm excited to see my parents (who are now strolling through the Metropolitan Museum), and excited to hang out with my cousins. Drink some wine, laugh some of the cares away.

Everyone: have a beautiful and peaceful Valentine's Day ... or, whatever: just have a good day in general. The sun is shining on the snow, the sky is blindingly blue, I just came out of the steam room at the gym, and for the moment: life is good.

Hans Blix or no.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 02:21:00 PM

Friday, February 14, 2003  


Victor Davis Hanson, as always, has some interesting and off-kilter things to say about the UN. To me, it's a reality check in the middle of all this madness, where I do not know who the hell to believe. Trying to hold onto what I believe in my heart is right, and just. But ... am I being an idiot? Am I naive? Too optimistic? Too angry? Probably I can answer "Yes" to all of the above. And so I read, and question, and debate, and worry, and write ... trying to figure it all out. Anyway, VDH gives me a whole other perspective.

A couple of quotes:

-- We built the arena, the players came — and, for many Americans, it now seems almost time to leave: Syria on the Security Council; Iran and Iraq overseeing the spread of dangerous weapons; Libya a caretaker of human rights. How about a simple law to preserve a once hallowed institution: To join the U.N.'s democratic assembly, a country must first be democratic? Why should a U.N. diplomat be allowed to demand from foreigners the very privileges that his government denies to its own people?

-- Mr. Carter should ask himself why 20 years of exemplary and distinguished charity work did not impress the panel, but suddenly and quite publicly attacking his own president in a time of war — in the words of the committee itself (Mr. Berge: "[the award] should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken") — most surely did. I pass on Mr. Mandela and his recent racist outbursts. So the Nobel committee got its wish of being nontraditional — to the point that many now believe the award reflects either political opportunism at best or conveys discredit at worst.

--After Vietnam, Americans were chastised into conceding that preemption and unilateralism were things of the past. Then we learned of slaughter in Bosnia and Kosovo — committed by Europeans and tolerated by Europeans. Mr. Clinton did not make the argument that Mr. Milosevic threatened the U.S. — imagine the outraged reaction, had Madeleine Albright with slides and intercepts proved that Serbia was seeking gas and germs that could threaten Americans.

Instead, we adopted preemption — unilaterally, without Congressional approval, and quite apart from U.N. decrees — and bombed Serbian fascists into submission. In fact, Mr. Clinton and Ms. Albright ordered bombs to be dropped almost everywhere — Kosovo, Belgrade, the Sudan, and, yes (remember General Zinni's 1998 Operation Desert Fox) — Iraq. I suppose the moral lesson caught on, and so now we are doing the same once more to Saddam Hussein. Thanks in part to Mr. Clinton, unilateralism and preemption to try to protect us in advance, while saving innocents from monsters — in Bosnia, Kosovo, Somalia, and Haiti — are now good, while the wobbliness and moral equivocation of multilateralism and U.N. approval are deemed bad. Or at least I think they are.

And finally:

--The U.N. beats up on the United States because it accepts that — unlike China or Syria — we are predictable, honorable, and committed to acting morally. Thus it finds psychic reassurance and a sense of puffed-up self-importance — on the cheap — by remonstrating with an America that wishes to stop a criminal regime from spreading havoc, rather than worrying about the demise of million of Tibetans, Syria's brutal creation of the puppet state of Lebanon, or Africans who complain that France has, without consultation, determined their fate. It is always better for a debating society to lecture those who listen than those who do not.

Again: why do we worry so much about an organization that thinks it is cool and acceptable to elect Libya to chair the committee on human rights abuses?

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 02:12:00 PM


Andrew Sullivan wrote this rant a couple of years ago, deploring the "cult of romantic love". Just in time for Valentine's Day. I like his points. Not to be a total rain-cloud, but check it out.

The love celebrated on Valentine's Day conquers nothing. It contains neither the friendship nor civility that makes marriage successful. It fulfills the way a drug fulfills -- requiring new infusions to sustain the high. It prettifies sex, but doesn't remove sex's danger or lust. And by elevating it to a personal and cultural panacea, we suffer the permanent disappointment of excessive expectations, with all of their doleful social consequences. Less -- affection, caring, friendship, the small favors of a husband for a wife after 30 years of marriage -- is far more. And by knocking romance off its Hallmark pedestal, we might go some small way to restoring the importance and dignity of these less glamorous but more fulfilling relationships. "If love were all," Noel Coward once wrote, "I should be lonely." But it isn't. And nobody else's Valentine card should persuade you that loneliness is the only alternative.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 02:03:00 PM


Last night, I was talking with Garrett, a bartender friend of mine. I asked him if he was nervous about all the terror alerts, if he was racing out to buy duct tape and gas masks.

He said, in his Irish accent, "There are more poisonous gases in my apartment on a Sunday morning than anything you'd have to worry about outside. The CIA's gonna come knockin' on my door one of these days."

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 01:56:00 PM


It's Valentine's Day and the poem I just posted is all about loss, losing things, learning to master the art of losing ... even when you lose someone you love. Ah, such cheery sentiments on this day of love.


I've never been a huge fan of Valentine's Day.

First of all, because I am usually single, and for a single person, there is not a day MORE OBNOXIOUS than Valentine's Day.

Second of all, in my high school we had these horrific rituals called "flower days". Did anybody else out there ever have them? Students would volunteer to deliver carnations around the school ... You could buy one and say, "Hey, go send this to -- [insert name] He has French II with Mr. Pittochi on the third floor." So I'm in class, the door opens, the flower comes in ... and no matter how bitter or jaded I was (and I was a pretty bitter and jaded 16 year old) I ALWAYS held out this teeny little fragile hope that the flower would be for me. That my "crush", whoever he was, would also have a crush on me and would send me a damn carnation.

It never was for me. And it turned me off Valentine's Day for good. My friends and I used to rage to each other about the injustice of "flower days". Ha ha

Third of all: I'm a Sagittarian. In general, I don't think we go for the gushy romantic stuff.

However: I don't want to just post that poem about loss and dealing with grief and leave it at that. I'm still optimistic. So here is one of my favorite poems of all time.

since feeling is first by e.e. cummings
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 09:21:00 AM


Elizabeth Bishop is one of my favorite poets. Here's a little poem from her, to start off the day:

One Art
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

-- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 08:37:00 AM


I have been up since 5:30. These terror alerts are keeping me a bit jumpy ... I have made plans with friends and family (JUST IN CASE) ... choosing a meeting place, where we will convene ... should something awful happen and our phones don't work. That was such a huge part of the trauma of September 11. Siobhan, my sister, worked in the financial district, a block away from the towers, and for HOURS nobody's phone worked, I was trapped in Hoboken, watchin.g the whole thing happen with my own eyes, panicking....where is Siobhan? Is Siobhan all right?? I had no way of knowing. No way of knowing. Siobhan walked 80 blocks north to my cousin Liam's apartment. She emerged from her own media-blackout hours later, and miraculously, got through to my parents. But it was frigging terrifying. Awful.

So now, at least, there is a plan in place. Hopefully, we will not have to use it ... but I feel safer, knowing that we have made those contingency plans.

But no doubt about it, I am on edge.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/14/2003 08:32:00 AM


David and I are wonderful friends. We have different concerns. We are angry about different things, and sometimes we are angry about the same things. Our conversations are like summit meetings. Sometimes we each act as the emissary for the opposite side. But it's all good debate. It's good debate because we both read, we're both determined to be well-informed, and we both want to know what is going on. Anyway, he read Tom Friedman's Op-Ed the other day about the "Euro-doves" and immediately fired off an email to me. I asked him if I could share it here, and he said yes. Here it is, in part:

-- I'm sure you've read his Op-Ed today ... I can't tell you how his voice and his wisdom almost bring tears to my eyes. He can articulate so well the dormant fears I have about this administration. If the primary Bush motivation is to protect America from terrorism, then he must know that the rebuilding of Iraq after toppling their horrific government will be a major step in that direction, and, the right thing to do. If it's just toppling the regime, killing Saddam, and moving on, then my fears about him and his administration are legitimized. Only an unenlightened fool could possibly think that leaving a country in chaos like that wouldn't effect us and the world disastrously and would leave the growth of terrorism with yet again more fertilization.

We need the world. Maybe not militarily but definitely in the post-war effort. Does this administration have the humility, the stamina and the perspective to truly change that part of the world? I mean, do you think they do? I am so doubtful and it is becoming so clear to me how utterly poorly Bush is making his case around the world, particularly in contrast to Powell. The lack of humility is definitely the thing here for me, and I know, you say that after 9/11 humility shouldn't be at the forefront ... Perhaps not for the people who have felt this attack so acutely, but most certainly from our leaders who, be definition, are to be more advanced than us and can see through the emotions to a wiser course of action.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 07:13:00 PM

Thursday, February 13, 2003  


So I added a little guest book, over on the left nav. You can sign it, ramble on to me, if you like. It's a public forum, so know that whatever you say will be seen by all! But it would be nice to get the debates going.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 07:00:00 PM

And Introducing...

Jaime's Utter Random-Nicity . One of my readers (the big ol' Tim O'Brien fan!) has gone and got a blog of her own. Stop by and check her out. The woman's emails never fail to make me laugh out loud.

She already has a couple of posts up, and one of them focuses on reality TV. She comments on the latest one from FOX News where the audience votes on who you get to marry:

The winners? Marry each other before they have even officially met. It’s reality TV meets nineteenth century China.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 05:56:00 PM


Oh, this is classic. Just read it. That's all I have to say.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 03:17:00 PM



The People

Uzbekistan is the most ancient and the most populous country in Central Asia. Samarqand and Bukhara, two storied cities made famous by their importance to the Silk Road (they were the jewels to be captured by the hordes which continuously swept through the region), are in Uzbekistan. I think I've said it before, but if there were such thing as a time-machine, one of the times/places I would like to visit would be this area during the height of the Silk Road. (I'd also like to have been in Philadephia at the time of the Continental Congresses. Or in Boston during the Tea Party.) Uzbekistan is the heartland of Central Asia. It has borders with all of the other "stans", as well as a small border with Afghanistan.

There are two ancient rivers flowing through Uzbekistan: the Amu-Darya and the Syr-Darya. Because of these two great rivers, oases were able to spring up left and right throughout the desert country, where people flourished and survived, in the middle of nothingness. Another example of geography as destiny. Bukhara and Samarqand would never have been so important without those two rivers.

Who are the Uzbek people? How the hell should I know ... I've never met an Uzbek. But here is what I can glean: They are of Turkic origin, but they also have genetic connections with Iranians. This makes for a very interesting mix, because Iranians are, historically, looked down upon throughout this area, because they are of Indo-European stock, not Turkic, and they are also Shiites, not Sunni. So the Uzbek people bridge that gap, uneasily at times. The Uzbeks were latecomers to the area, having migrated south at the end of the 15th century.

Uzbeks trace their lineage back to Uzbek Khan (1312-1340), from whom they take their name. Uzbek Khan was the great-grandson of the feared and infamous Genghis Khan. Uzbek Khan's forebears were part of Genghis' original Turko-Mongolian horde.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to get that because of all this, Uzbek society is based on clan traditions. The notion of a nation-state is still very weak here. These people are desert nomads, they traveled throughout the centuries from oasis to oasis ... and the oasis was the center, the oasis was the basis of your identity. You did not say, "Yes, I am an Uzbek." You said, "I am from Samarqand." I think to some degree that this is still true. Stalin's repressive programs in this region certainly did not help! Russians poured into Uzbekistan, as colonizers. There are a ton of them still there.

But I'll get to that later.

Uzbeks are, traditionally, Sunni Muslim, but they have some interesting twists in it. There are elements of shamanism in their practice (anathema to traditional Sunnis ... you can be killed for this stuff in Saudi Arabia). They have a deep undercurrent of Persian philosophy in their faith, of Sufism (the whirling dervishes, you will recall). Uzbeks are a very proud and independent people, as desert nomads always are. They don't accept central authority. But they have handled being dominated in an interesting way: it's like they take on the attributes of their oppressor, as protective coloring, while underneath they remain committed to their own traditions, their own ways.

I have an awesome passage which illustrates this. Ryszard Kapuscinski, one of my favorite authors, traveled all through the "Soviet Imperium" throughout his life as a Polish foreign correspondent. Kapuscinski lived under Soviet domination. He suffered. So he wrote books about the tyranny of the last Shah in Iran, of Haile Selassie in Ethiopia, of revolutions in Central America, as a way to criticize the terrible regime Poles lived under at home. But he could not have gotten away with writing about his own country. He went at it another way. Finally, with the breakup of the Soviet Union, Kapuscinski wrote Imperium, a panoramic view of the USSR over the years. From 1939, when the Soviet tanks rolled into Kapuscinski's home town when he was a small boy, to the incredible years of 1989-1991. I can't recommend this book highly enough!

But back to Uzbekistan, and the trait of the Uzbek people I was talking about: their ability to take on the protective coloring of the dominant power:

Kapuscinski travels through all the "stans" in 1967. The Soviet Union has these republics on a short leash. But the leash is never short enough, as it turns out. And here is Kapuscinski's description of a town square in Bukhara, during the Soviet years:

It is noon. I go out of the fortress onto a large, dusty square. On the opposite side is a chaykhana. At this time of day the chaykhanas are full of Uzbeks. They squat, colorful skullcaps on their heads, drinking green tea. They drink like this for hours, often all day. It's a pleasant life, spent in the shadow of a tree, on a little carpet, among close friends. I sat down on the grass and ordered a pot of tea. On one side I had a view of the fortress, as big as Krakow's Vavel Castle, only made of clay. But on the other side I had an even better view.

On the other side stood a glorious mosque.

The mosque caught my attention because it was made of wood, which is extremely rare in Muslim architecture, whose materials are typically stone and clay. Furthermore, in the hot, numb silence of the desert at noon, one could hear a knocking inside the mosque. I put aside my teapot and went to investigate the matter.

It was billard balls knocking.

The mosque is called Bolo-Khauz. It is a unique example of 18th century Central Asian architecture, virtually the only structure from that period to have survived. The portal and exterior walls of Bolo-Khauz are decorated with a wooden ornamentation whose beauty and precision have no equal. One cannot help but be enraptured.

I looked inside. There were six green tables, and at each one young boys with tousled blond hair were playing billiards. A crowd of onlookers rooted for the various competitors. It cost eighty kopecks to rent a table for an hour, so it was cheap, and there were so many willing customers that there was a line in front of the entrance. I didn't feel like standing in it and so couldn't get a good look at the interior. I returned to the chaykhana.

Blinding sun fell on the square. Dogs wandered about. Tour groups were coming out of the fortress ... Between the fortress-turned-museum and the mosque-turned-billiards hall sat Uzbeks drinking tea. They sat in silence, facing the mosque, in accordance with the ways of the fathers. There was a kind of dignity in the silent presence of these people, and despite their worn gray smocks, they looked distinguished. I had the urge to walk up to them and shake their hands. I wanted to express my respect in some way, but I didn't know how. In these men, in their bearing, in their wise calm, was something that aroused my spontaneous and genuine admiration. They have sat for generations in this chaykhana, which is old, perhaps older than the fortress and the mosque. Many things are different now -- many, but not all. One can say that the world is changing, but it is not changing completely; in any case it is not changing to the degree that an Uzbek cannot sit in a chaykhana and drink tea even during working hours.

Russians moved into their country, and turned Uzbek mosques into billiard halls. Hard to comprehend. Terrible. Stalin closed down 26,000 mosques and only allowed 22 people to study in the madrassahs, when before they overflowed with people. Islam dove way underground. The other thing Stalin attacked (which he did everywhere else as well) was the Uzbek language. Their language is Turkic, and was was born during the 16th century, and has survived through all of the chaos that has followed. Stalin prohibited the language to be used starting in 1937. This was an assault on the identity of the Uzbeks. History was cut off. Young Uzbeks today, kids who are 20 years old or whatever, have absolutely no sense of the ancient history of their culture. They are now trying to re-invent the past, mythologizing themselves, making up heroes out of nothing. Creating a glorious past that never really existed, because no accurate information has survived and people are ignorant and illiterate.

The Uzbeks, traditionally, like their great-great-great-granddaddy Genghis, were warriors. Nomadic warriors. They disdained trade. They were not sedentary. They were always on the move. They have a lot of ethnic pride, a ton of it, but that pride has not coalesced or transformed into a nationalistic thing.

I want to leap right in and start talking about Genghis and Tamerlane (or: Timur) and Ulug Beg ... but I think this is enough for one day. More to come. Definitely more to come.

Next up: Samarqand and Tamerlane

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 02:05:00 PM


Charles Krauthammer writes:

Carl Sagan invented a famous formula for calculating the probability of intelligent life in the universe. Estimate the number of planets in the universe and calculate the tiny fraction that might support life and that have had enough evolution to produce intelligence. He prudently added one other factor, however: the odds of extinction. The existence of intelligent life depends not just on creation, but on continuity. What is the probability that a civilization will not destroy itself once its very intelligence grants it the means of self-destruction?

This planet has been around for 4 billion years, intelligent life for perhaps 200,000, weapons of mass destruction for less than 100. A hundred--in the eye of the universe, less than a blink. And yet we already find ourselves on the brink. What are the odds that our species will manage to contain this awful knowledge without self-destruction--not for a billion years or a million or even a thousand, but just through the lifetime of our children?

Those are the stakes today. Before our eyes, in a flash, politics has gone cosmic. The question before us is very large and very simple: Can--and will--the civilized part of humanity disarm the barbarians who would use the ultimate knowledge for the ultimate destruction? Within months, we will have a good idea whether the answer is yes or no.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 01:20:00 PM


MSNBC's Will Femia was at the NYC Blogger Bash last week, and wrote a spot-on column about what it was like to be in a room with a bunch of web-loggers. He hit the nail on the head:

...the diversity of the exchanges really was unique, even if I hadn’t known that the meeting was born of online community. It wasn’t like the stand-around-watching-the-ice-in-your-drink-melt, “so how’s work, sure is cold out” type banter I’ve done with strangers at weddings, for example.

Ultimately what I think bloggers have in common is a sharing quality, and a generosity of attention. Bloggers are the people who are always recommending something they’ve just read. They have a story or a joke and they have to relay it ...

Some of the bloggers I spoke with said that blog readers are voyeurs — but the people at this party weren’t lurking and spying like peeping Toms, they were engaging each other. I’m not sure whether to call it curiosity or interest or something else, but the event would not have thrived as it did were the people there not endowed with that “listening” quality.

That is so perfectly put.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 01:06:00 PM


When I went to Maine, my cousin Marianne was talking about how much she had wanted to see Hal Holbrook's legendary one-man show, based on the life of Mark Twain. I have not seen it either. And today, in The New York Times, there is a gorgeous profile of Holbrook, who created this show himself, and has been doing it for almost half a century. Half a century, people. Hal Holbrook has always been one of my heroes, for this very feat. He keeps the show fluid, as he has grown older. He will incorporate Twain's writings as an older man, he will find quotes from Twain which are relevant to the topics of the day ... and the show just keeps going and going and going.

So Marianne, I am posting this article here for you!

I wish I could meet Mr. Holbrook and give him a big KISS for what he has contributed to the American theatre. And also to the world of literature, bringing the words of Mark Twain to life. (Or, I should say, even more to life ... since Twain's books LIVE, all on their own.)

Holbrook says, "I'm certainly surprised that I can be so riveted on this guy, on what he's talking about and thinking about after all these years. But I can't wait to get on the stage with this guy." He's playing Twain, but he still refers to him as "this guy". It's like he is channeling something from another plane. It's like Holbrook knows that the real genius up there is Twain, and Holbrook just gets to inhabit him. This is such a familiar sensation for actors ... actors with a sense of humility, I should say.

As an actor, my absolute #1 favorite quote in this article is the following:

Holbrook talks about his editing process, how he takes snippets, puts them together, cuts stuff out, etc. And he says: "I take out a lot of adjectives. As an actor I am an adjective."

It makes me want to cry.

And the following anecdote gave me chills:

On Oct. 9, 1962 ... Mr. Holbrook brought "Mark Twain Tonight!" to Oxford, Miss., just days following the violence that ensued there after James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. Two people had died.

"I didn't want to start a riot, but I wanted to nail the issue," recalled Mr. Holbrook ... He included in the Oxford show the bit he's come to call "The Silent Lie," in which Twain decries the nasty human habit of not standing up to an evident injustice, of going along to get along, of maintaining a silence that obscures the truth.

"I went out on the stage, and I was scared," he said. "There were federal men backstage, and they taught me how to use a fire extinguisher to defend myself. And one of the stagehands, before I went on, I guess he was trying to be funny. He said, `Hey Hal, watch out for the guys with the squirrel rifles in the trees out there.' And you know, it could have been a joke, but I was thinking about those guys all through the first act.

"Well, I started the second act with `The Silent Lie.' And there's a long pause at the end, when he says, `It is timid — and shabby.' And then I always walk downstage right, all the way back to the lectern, and let the audience sit with this hot potato. And only three times in 49 years has that moment ever gotten applause. The first time was in Hamburg, Germany, in 1961. The second time was that night in Oxford, Miss. The third time was in Prague, behind the Iron Curtain, in 1985."

Such an inspiration. Truly.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 12:52:00 PM


I have created a library of my "countries of the week", and have posted it on my left nav, beneath my archives. For those of you who are interested, there they all are. This feature will continue to grow.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 12:30:00 PM


The following piece was written by Kanan Makiya, born in Iraq, but now living in the US.. He is an academic, and an author, and is now a professor. He has written a couple of books about Iraq, and about tyranny, and is now working with the US administration on a model for post-Saddam Iraq. His words have allayed some of my fears. What I hope for is that the potential of the Iraqi people (vast, untapped) will come forth ... that they will, like the people of Iran, move forwards and step up to the challenge. This is not about imperialism on our part. Makiya is definitely a man to listen to, and here is what he has to say. The last sentence alone makes me want to cheer:

Regime change in Iraq will provide a historic opportunity - one that is as large as anything that has happened in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Iraq is rich enough and developed enough and has the human resources to become a great force for democracy and economic reconstruction in the Arab and Muslim world.

But most Arabs are in a state of denial. The gulf that opened up between Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world that began with the 1991 Gulf War has reached a kind of crescendo with the current crisis.

Out of the Iraqi opposition - as difficult and fractious as it may be - could emerge a new kind of Arab politics. One that I believe is far healthier than the politics that dominates the Arab world today.

Since 1967, Arab political culture has largely been dominated by Arab nationalism of one form and another. This has been an obsession to the exclusion of everything else.

And today, the spectrum of what is politically possible to talk about in Arab politics runs from Palestine at one end to Palestine at the other, with no room for the plight of the Iraqi people.

But, if you live in Iraq, Palestine is not the central question of your life - your home-grown tyrant is.

Part of the driving force of Arab politics since 1967 is the attribution of all of the ills of one's own world to either the great Satan America or Israel.

Arab and Muslim resentment of the West is grounded in many grievances, some legitimate, others less so. Without question, the West has blundered in its dealings with the Arab world.

But the kind of thinking in the Arab world today has led to an impasse, where people are blind to failures close to home - specifically the absence of democracy among Arab nations

Arabs politics is a self-destructive politics that has no way forward - it is epitomised by the Palestinian suicide bomber.

America's latest policy towards Iraq has sparked fear and criticism in the rest of the Arab world - almost all non-Iraqi Arabs seem to think military action will be an unmitigated disaster.

Some commentators warn that a US backed war in Iraq will cause the Arab street to rise up in anger. But this much vaunted 'Arab street' is a fiction - it doesn't exist. It is a creation of nationalist intellectuals of my generation, who lived through war in the Arab world and never learned from the mistakes of the past.

During the Gulf War and, more recently, the Afghan war nothing came of the fears of the Arab world.

All we saw in Afghanistan were people cheering in the streets. I expect Iraqis to do the same - to throw sweets and flowers at the American troops as they enter our towns and cities.

In the long run, however, how the US handles itself will determine the success of this liberation. Much depends on how willing Washington is to follow through with nation building.

We want to see America involved in Iraq for a very long time but I do not support the idea of an American military government, even for a short time. We Iraqis must take the responsibilities of our future into our own hands.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 11:05:00 AM


PETA is finally denouncing terrorism. I have been wondering why PETA has remained so silent, with all of the atrocities going on. A donkey was used in a suicide bombing and PETA is pissed. According to PETA, this travesty has shocked "people of all nationalities around the world".

Actually, PETA, I, redheaded Sheila, am not all that shocked. I stopped being shocked by Arafat when I heard that Palestinian mothers were thrilled that their children had decided to become martyrs. I stopped being shocked by Arafat when I read about people strapping explosives to their bodies and going to stand in the middle of a night club. Nothing will shock me now about Arafat's organization. If you don't respect human life, then why will you respect the life of Eeyore??

PETA has written a letter to Arafat (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP), asking him to stop abusing animals. To stop using animals in suicide attacks. I mean, this is better than fiction.

PETA deplores the number of stray cats around Arafat's compound. (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP) They plead with Arafat to help those poor cats.

To Mr. Arafat: "Will you please add to your burdens my request that you appeal to all those who listen to you to leave the animals out of this conflict?"

This is war, folks. There is a war going on. All over the damn world. People die. Plants die. Animals die.

I'm certainly not like: "Yippee!! A donkey blew up! I hate animals!" ... but come ON, people. This is a serious world we live in now, and you people are not serious.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 10:47:00 AM


I grabbed this quote from Winston Churchill off of Andrew Sullivan. Thank you, Andrew ... it must be passed on.

"The Sermon on the Mount is the last word in Christian ethics. Everyone respects the Quakers. Still, it is not on these terms that Ministers assume their responsibilities of guiding states. Their duty is first so to deal with other nations as to avoid strife and war and to eschew aggression in all its forms, whether for nationalistic or ideological objects. But the safety of the State, the lives and freedom of their own fellow countrymen, to whom they owe their position, make it right and imperative in the last resort, or when a final and definite conviction has been reached, that the use of force should not be excluded. If the circumstances are such as to warrant it, force may be used. And if this be so, it should be used under the conditions which are most favourable. There is no merit in putting off a war for a year if, when it comes, it is a far worse war or one much harder to win. These are the tormenting dilemmas upon which mankind has throughout its history been so frequently impaled. Final judgment upon them can only be recorded by history in relation to the facts of the case as known to the parties at the time, and also as subsequently proved."

- Winston Churchill, "The Gathering Storm."

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 10:34:00 AM


Panic is a virus, too. Very hard to resist.

Grand Central Station

The Washington Monument

Capitol Building

Washington Monument again

Strange behavior in New York City

The lines at Home Depot

But wait. Here's something else. Something beautiful to contemplate.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 10:27:00 AM


I have always loved Dennis Miller. I love his facility with language (he cannot be beaten in that regard), and I love his outrage, his open outrage. He was on the AWFUL Donahue show on CNN (I can't even watch it ... it's too yukky), but I had to watch it because of Miller. Miller said something hilarious: The New York Times will decide to support a war as soon as they find out Saddam has opened up an all-male golfing club in Tikrit.


  contact Sheila Link: 2/13/2003 10:21:00 AM


The last book I read was The Trouser People, an extremely depressing book about Burma. Oh, excuse me ... I mean Myanmar. (Of course the book is depressing. How could one write an uplifting and sunny book about a savage military regime, who cuts deals with international drug lords to keep their government afloat, and keeps a Nobel Peace Prize winner under house arrest from 1989 to 1995?)

The "generals" in charge of Burma fund their regime with drug-money (Burma's only growth industry), and let their people starve, cutting off their citizens so that they live in complete isolation from the rest of the world. They warn against the "corrupting Western influence", and yet entire regions of the country are planted in opium poppies. Most of the heroin that arrives in the "corrupting West" is nurtured in the regions of Burma ... regions that COULD be used to grow ... oh, I don't know ... CORN? Something the people of Burma could EAT??

Anyway, I digress.

There are snippets of Burmese writing in the Trouser People, and it is a very strange-looking written language, based on interconnecting circles. Kind of beautiful, and Dr. Seuss-ish. The author of the book said that one of the greatest compliments a teacher could give a Burmese student learning to write was: "Your handwriting is so nice and round."

Here is the Gettysburg Address in Burmese.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 04:56:00 PM

Wednesday, February 12, 2003  


Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday. There's a time-warp going on. The country is now screaming at one another, once again, arguing over which is the correct and righteous path to take. We aren't shooting at each other yet.

D.J. Tice, at the Pioneer Press, has a column about Lincoln, in honor of his birthday.

Read it. It has a lot of relevance to what is going on today.

-- Lincoln went to war because the question his generation had to answer — perhaps once and for all — was whether free, constitutional government was real government. Were decisions made through open constitutional processes and elections genuine, binding decisions? Or could sufficiently dissatisfied citizens simply overthrow law and authority they disapproved?

-- He called Americans to the costly mission of ensuring that "government… by the people… shall not perish from the earth." Not without a fight, anyhow.

It was of course a cruel irony — not for a moment lost on Lincoln — that to preserve free government he coerced rebellious citizens with a fierceness never matched before or since. Not only did he wage civil war with a grim determination, but he also suspended civil rights protections and ordered the jailing of suspected subversives.

The parallel is obvious ...

-- The dilemma caused even Lincoln to worry about the stability of free societies. "Is there," he wondered, "in all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness? Must a government … be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?"

Lincoln answered that terrible question, in part, by recognizing that in the end even the cause of the Union had to be submitted to the will of the people.

-- To protect America from itself, Lincoln had a simple recommendation: "To the support of the Constitution and the laws," he said, "let reverence be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling-books, and in almanacs … Let it become the political religion of the nation."

The United States is still a young country — still almost an infant civilization. But it is an old republic, as republics go, a seasoned democracy. It has suffered and survived much.


  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 04:38:00 PM


Okay, this is completely overwhelming. I can't deal.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 04:30:00 PM


I stopped by NY Yoga Girl's blogspot today, and read the following post. It's about the cumulative effect of all the weirdness in the world right now.

I love that she included Steven Seagal's legal problems. I am weirdly fascinated by the whole weird story.

I would add to that:

-- The word "gun" has been banned from a spelling test in Canada. The word itself ... gun control isn't enough for these people. Now you can't even say the WORD. Or spell it, for that matter. Quote from the article: "Seven-year-old Chloe Sousa knows how to spell 'gun,' but her mother Amanda says the word has no place in Chloe's Grade 1 curriculum."

-- Madonna has a new anti-war video out. It begins with a "a runway show of couture army fatigues" (my blood boils at how stupid and awful and privileged this is), before devolving into a violent look at the horrors of war. Madonna teaching us about the horrors of war. Wow, thanks, Madonna. Despite actually paying attention in my history classes in high school, and taking a class in Holocaust Studies in college, I somehow missed the fact that war is hell. Thanks for illuminating that for me, Madonna! To make it even more ridiculous, trivial, and stupid: Madonna's publicist described the video this way: "a panoramic view of our culture and looming war through the view of a female superhero portrayed by Madonna."

Oh good LORD. Every day I actively fight against misanthropy, but sometimes I feel like I lose that battle.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 03:09:00 PM


Again, a small note off of the Iranian Girl's blog. A crackdown on Valentine's Day has happened in Tehran, police closing down shops that dared to put hearts in their windows, etc. Valentine's Day is too Western, and therefore corrupting; also, V-Day also focuses on love and contact between the sexes ... which, in the conservative enforced culture, should not be allowed. Anyway, the last sentence of her small post moved me very much:

no matter what they wanna do, but Iranian boys & girls, do not obey them to be different from other young people...valentine will be held here in Iran.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 02:44:00 PM


Take a look at this unbelievable piece. It is a long list of photos showing what Iran was like before the revolution and what it is like now, after the revolution. It is chilling. Very effective. I think it is effective mostly because there is an irony in the images chosen, a high level of self-awareness and anger.

All I can say is, is that however chilling it all is, it also gives me hope. The voices of Iranian people can be heard, regardless of whether or not their own leaders want to listen to them. This is hopeful. You don't hear too much from people in Iraq, saying, "Saddam killed my whole family ... we are starving ... we are desperate ... We hate Saddam and his brainwashed men." The only ones saying stuff like that are the Iraqis who have escaped. So it is good news, that you can actually hear what people in Iran are saying. It is hugely hopeful.

Via Iranian Girl Blog.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 02:39:00 PM


For anyone interested in being prepared for the worst, 6:01 a.m. has compiled all of the different check lists in one place. These lists are New York City-focused; however, there are some good links to the Center for Disease Control and the Red Cross as well. It certainly doesn't hurt to know what to do, just in case.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 01:50:00 PM


Here is a poem I discovered only yesterday. It is well worth sharing. It's by Carl Dennis, a poet who won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. The following poem makes it obvious why. This poem KILLS me.

It must be troubling for the god who loves you
To ponder how much happier you'd be today
Had you been able to glimpse your many futures.
It must be painful for him to watch you on Friday evenings
Driving home from the office, content with your week --
Three fine houses sold to deserving families --
Knowing as he does exactly what would have happened
Had you gone to your second choice for college,
Knowing the roommate you'd have been allotted
Whose ardent opinions on painting and music
Would have kindled in you a lifelong passion.
A life thirty points above the life you're living
On any scale of satisfaction. And every point
A thorn in the side of the god who loves you.
You don't want that, a large-souled man like you
Who tries to withhold from your wife the day's disappointments
So she can save her empathy for the children.
And would you want this god to compare your wife
With the woman you were destined to meet on the other campus?
It hurts you to think of him ranking the conversation
You'd have enjoyed over there higher in insight
Than the conversation you're used to.
And think how this loving god would feel
Knowing that the man next in line for your wife
Would have pleased her more than you ever will
Even on your best days, when you really try.
Can you sleep at night believing a god like that
Is pacing his cloudy bedroom, harassed by alternatives
You're spared by ignorance? The difference between what is
And what could have been will remain alive for him
Even after you cease existing, after you catch a chill
Running out in the snow for the morning paper,
Losing eleven years that the god who loves you
Will feel compelled to imagine scene by scene
Unless you come to the rescue by imagining him
No wiser than you are, no god at all, only a friend
No closer than the actual friend you made at college,
The one you haven't written in months. Sit down tonight
And write him about the life you can talk about
With a claim to authority, the life you've witnessed,
Which for all you know is the life you've chosen.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 01:38:00 PM


Osama's battle plan leaves much to be desired. I'm not a military expert, but it seems to me that trench warfare is so 1918.

As for the trenches, they are well camouflaged, and neither smart bombs nor dumb bombs will be able to get them unless by haphazard bombing which squanders the ammunition of the enemy and its money. So use trenches. As Amar (ph), may peace be upon him, said, "Take cover with the land."

That is take the land as a shield, for that is sufficient to exhaust the ammunition of the enemy within a few months. As for the daily fight, then it's something that can be easily dealt with.

We also advise you to lead the enemy to prolonged and heavy and exhaustive fighting using the camouflage defense fight in plains, mountains, farms and cities.

I'm a little bit unclear, Osama, on ... what exactly the plan is. The camouflaged trenches, coupled with the belief in Allah, means that ... radar won't detect you guys huddled in your trenches? What? Could you elaborate? On second thought, please don't. And ... uh ... "smart bombs or dumb bombs"? I can just see all of Osama's loser yes-men sitting around him, nodding sagely, as Osama imparts this brilliant spiritual advice. "Ah yes ... not smart bombs or dumb bombs ..." "Of course, Osama, of course..." "Thank Allah we have such a smart leader..."

Smart bombs or dumb bombs. Gimme a BREAK.

It's also not hidden that this crusader war targets first and foremost Islam, irrespective of whether the Ba'ath Party and Saddam were deposed or not.

Uh ... last time I checked we went to bat for the Muslims in the Balkans.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 01:22:00 PM


Okay, I'm caving.

This evening I am going to go out and buy some plastic wrap and duct tape for my windows, I am going to start storing up on water, and I am going to buy a bunch of perishable food. I am not going to buy a gas mask. I am not going to buy a Darth Vader anthrax suit. But I suddenly realized I am completely not prepared, should something awful happen. I would be screwed.

I look around the streets of Manhattan and I notice a significantly visible police presence (more so than usual). There are cops everywhere. On my commute into the city, the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel crawls with cops ... pulling cars over, doing random searches.

Maybe when this all blows over I will look at the 20 cans of peanut butter and piles of tuna fish in my cupboard and feel like a raving lunatic, but I suppose it's better to take it at least a LITTLE bit seriously. I hate it. One reason why I have ignored the warnings thus far is that I do not want, in any way, to feel like those bastards are winning. But the barrage of "preparedness lists" in every major newspaper has finally infiltrated my brain.

The terrorists aren't winning if I go out and buy peanut butter. It's just a trip to the grocery store. It doesn't mean anything. And I'll eat the peanut butter ANYWAY, biological attack or no.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/12/2003 12:58:00 PM


The film I did a while back, The Darkling Plain, has been nominated for a "Blizzard Award" , the award given out for accomplishment in film by the Manitoba Motion Picture Industry Association. Yeah, baby! It was nominated for Best Drama Series or Short -- Under 60 Minutes. The director shot me an email saying, "This is the Oscar, Western Canada style!"

We completely rock.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/11/2003 06:01:00 PM

Tuesday, February 11, 2003  


There are a couple of gaps in my movie-going behavior this past season. I missed "Far From Heaven", despite numerous raves from well-trusted friends. I have to see it. I love all that 1950s sexual torment and angst, drowned in martinis. I mean, it's depressing as hell, but I find the subject matter fascinating.

So that's a gap. Julianne Moore was good in "The Hours", but I don't think she'll win. It's not that type of role. Someone once said that it's not the actor who wins the Oscar, it's the ROLE the actor plays. My acting teacher, Sam Schacht, says, "Just play someone with a limp or a mental defect, and you'll probably win the Oscar." Julianne Moore's part in "The Hours" is subtler, quieter, and doesn't reach out to the audience.

Best actor? I have no idea. All I know is Daniel Day Lewis' performance in "Gangs of New York" was so masterful and so spectacular that I hesitate to even call it acting. The man is NUTS. And he commanded the screen in a way you just don't see in modern-day actors, who tend to be more interested in "kitchen-sink realism". His performance is over-the-top, phenomenal. Took my breath away. I don't even need to see the other performances to know that his was the best. However, Nicolas Cage, in "Adaptation" was wonderful. I completely believed that he was both of those characters, completely forgot that he was working with a body double as his twin ... I believed that he was both twins. Beautiful work.

I don't think Diane Lane will win for "Unfaithful", but dammit, she should. And that's all I have to say. It is one of the bravest performances I have ever seen. Completely unpredictable, and courageous. Absolutely truthful. The scene on her train ride home, where she is sitting by herself, reliving her afternoon with her lover, should get her the Oscar all on its own.

I'm feeling like "Chicago" might win for Best Picture ... and even though "Gangs of New York" was way too long, and the storyline did not grip me as a really great story-line should ... I wish Martin Scorsese would just win one of those stupid statues. He deserves it. He's a maverick. Everybody looks to him. He is an idol of the American cinema. Well, probably worldwide cinema, actually!

However: after all of this discussion, let me also say: there's something weird and not altogether pleasant in trying to say "this was the BEST performance", in something as subjective as acting. To my taste, Daniel Day Lewis' acting in "Gangs of New York" throws down the gauntlet before all other actors. It is a performance to the level of Marlon Brando in "Streetcar", the sort of performance that SHOULD make every other actor realize how safely they have been playing it. And the same is true for Diane Lane's work in "Unfaithful". A more established movie actress might have held back, might have protected herself a little bit more ... but Diane Lane doesn't have as much to lose as a big ol' superstar. She acted that part with no holds barred.

To me, that KIND of acting just LOOKS different than, say, Julianne Moore's acting in "The Hours", which was lovely, heartfelt, specific, etc. But ... there was something safe about it. Something predictable.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/11/2003 04:55:00 PM


1. Best Picture: "Chicago," "Gangs of New York," "The Hours," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "The Pianist."

2. Actor:Adrien Brody, "The Pianist"; Nicolas Cage, "Adaptation"; Michael Caine, "The Quiet American"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Gangs of New York"; Jack Nicholson, "About Schmidt."

3. Actress: Salma Hayek, "Frida"; Nicole Kidman, "The Hours"; Diane Lane, "Unfaithful"; Julianne Moore, "Far from Heaven"; Renee Zellweger, "Chicago."

4. Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper, "Adaptation"; Ed Harris, "The Hours"; Paul Newman, "Road to Perdition"; John C. Reilly, "Chicago"; Christopher Walken, "Catch Me If You Can."

5. Supporting Actress: Kathy Bates, "About Schmidt"; Julianne Moore, "The Hours"; Queen Latifah, "Chicago"; Meryl Streep, "Adaptation"; Catherine Zeta-Jones, "Chicago."

6. Director: Rob Marshall, "Chicago"; Martin Scorsese, "Gangs of New York"; Stephen Daldry, "The Hours"; Roman Polanski, "The Pianist"; Pedro Almodovar , "Talk to Her."

7. Foreign Film: "El Crimen del Padre Amaro," Mexico; "Hero," People's Republic of China; "The Man Without a Past," Finland; "Nowhere in Africa," Germany; "Zus & Zo," The Netherlands.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Peter Hedges and Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz, "About a Boy"; Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman, "Adaptation"; Bill Condon, "Chicago"; David Hare, "The Hours"; Ronald Harwood, "The Pianist."

9. Original Screenplay: Todd Haynes (news), "Far From Heaven"; Jay Cocks and Steve Zaillian and Kenneth Lonergan (news), "Gangs of New York"; Nia Vardalos, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"; Pedro Almodovar, "Talk to Her"; Carlos Cuaron and Alfonso Cuaron (news), "Y Tu Mama Tambien."

10. Animated feature film: "Ice Age"; "Lilo & Stitch"; "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron"; "Spirited Away"; "Treasure Planet."

11. Art Direction: "Chicago," "Frida," "Gangs of New York," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "Road to Perdition."

12. Cinematography: "Chicago," "Far From Heaven," "Gangs of New York," "The Pianist," "Road to Perdition."

13. Sound: "Chicago," "Gangs of New York," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "Road to Perdition," "Spider-Man."

14. Sound Editing: "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "Minority Report," "Road to Perdition."

15. Original Score: "Catch Me If You Can," John Williams; "Far From Heaven," Elmer Bernstein; "Frida," Elliot Goldenthal; "The Hours," Philip Glass; "Road to Perdition," Thomas Newman.

16. Original Song: "Burn It Blue" from "Frida," Elliot Goldenthal and Julie Taymor; "Father and Daughter" from "The Wild Thornberrys Movie," Paul Simon; "The Hands That Built America" from "Gangs of New York," Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; "I Move On" from "Chicago," John Kander and Fred Ebb; "Lose Yourself" from "8 Mile," Eminem, Jeff Bass and Luis Resto.

17. Costume: "Chicago," "Frida," "Gangs of New York," "The Hours," "The Pianist."

18. Documentary Feature: "Bowling for Columbine," "Daughter from Danang," "Prisoner of Paradise," "Spellbound," "Winged Migration."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Collector of Bedford Street," "Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks," "Twin Towers," "Why Can't We Be a Family Again?"

20. Film Editing: "Chicago," "Gangs of New York," "The Hours," "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "The Pianist."

21. Makeup: "Frida," "The Time Machine."

22. Animated Short Film: "The Cathedral," "The ChubbChubbs!," "Das Rad," "Mike's New Car," "Mt. Head."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Fait D'Hiver," "I'll Wait for the Next One (J'Attendrai Le Suivant)," "Inja (Dog)," "Johnny Flynton," "This Charming Man (Der Er En Yndig Mand)."

24. Visual Effects: "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "Spider-Man," "Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones."

Academy Award winner previously announced this year: Honorary Award (Oscar statuette): Peter O'Toole.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/11/2003 04:49:00 PM


So I, like many others read Joan Smith's piece in The Independent, where she states that it is about time the US "get over September 11." I wonder how quickly she would get over planes being rammed into Big Ben, killing thousands of people.

SNAP OUT OF IT, Joan ... what are you WHINING about?

Well, it made me too mad to write about, but then I come across this piece, and had to post it. Love the blogosphere. Someone always beats you to the punch, and someone always says it better than you. I think one of the best things about the practice of "fisking" is that the main weapons used are logic and ridicule. Not invective and ire. Or insults thrown about on the level of: "You scum-sucking peacenik LOSER! Just SHUT UP!"

E. Nough, the author of the fisk, is definitely PISSED, but he just takes Smith's words, and cuts through her crap, line by line.

This is what we mean, Mr. Clooney, when we talk about "debate".

  contact Sheila Link: 2/11/2003 03:33:00 PM


So now we can give insane people drugs to make them sane enough so that we can legally execute them.

I find that completely insane.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/11/2003 02:59:00 PM


There's so much happening in the world, I know ... and New Yorkers are on edge, with all of those red terror warnings, orange terror warnings ... At least I'm on edge, and surfing around a bit through other blogs makes me realize I am not alone in this. I work in Times Square. Sometimes I feel like a sitting duck.

But about the whole "when it rains it pours" thing ...

I stated categorically to my friend Brooke last week that I wanted a man to pursue ME. I was SICK of pursuing them. Well, as we all know, 5 minutes later, man from Iran appears and says, "I want to pursue you. I would like to take you out as soon as possible."

Amusing. Well, in the days since then, 2 ex-flames have called me out of the clear blue sky saying, "Hey, I'm in New York for a couple of days ... let's get together!" These are men I have no contact with in my normal every-day life ... not that the relationships ended badly, or anything. It's just ... they are from my far past. It's over and done. But boom, boom ... I got two calls. So now, in one damn week: I have a date with Iranian man, a date with old flame #1, and a get-together-with-drinks date with old flame #2.

Actually, I was on the phone with one of them, and one of the other three buzzed in. The entire thing is ludicrous, I take none of it seriously, and I am laughing at my own life.

This is absurd. I better watch what I say from now on!

So I'm having a lot of fun, and having a lot of personal-drama, as the terror-warnings keep pouring in, and the colors continue to hover between red and orange.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/11/2003 02:15:00 PM


The snow has been steadily falling all day. A beautiful sight. From my desk window, I look right out at the Empire State Building ... but today the sky is so low and heavy I cannot see the spire. It's okay, though. I know it's still there.

There's something in my heart that rises up to meet a storm like this. That's the best way I can describe it.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 03:26:00 PM

Monday, February 10, 2003  


"I'm concerned that in the United States we are not embracing what we normally do, which is to have a debate on the subject."

-- George Clooney

Excuse me? Are we both living in the same United States? That is all we have BEEN doing since September 11, 2001, is debating. Shouting at each other. From the second Susan Sontag wrote her disgusting piece in The New Yorker, which hit the stands only days after the attack, with smoke still rising from lower Manhattan. But that started off this damn "debate". She gave voice to people who don't think the United States should fight back, that WE are the villain ... and they have been talking and debating ever since. Firing off op-ed columns to each other, shouting across the desk on Crossfire, picking apart this issue (from what to do in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, to is it wrong to racially profile Muslims) ad nauseum. That is all we have BEEN doing, George! Is debating!

And if you're criticized for your views, then that is part of free speech too. That's not persecution. That's the person who disagrees with you feeling free enough to say, "You're an intolerable windbag. I think your opinion is stupid." If that person then threw you in jail and cut off your hands, THEN maybe I'd say that free speech was in danger in this country.

There comes a time when you have to, (in line with Dave Barry's piece below) shit or get off the pot.

Debate with no eventual choice, no eye on the outcome, is just hot air. People who would rather talk than do.

I'm an actress. I'm in the entertainment industry. I know that there are many celebrities out there who are intelligent, and well-spoken. But I have to say: not too many of them have been speaking up these days. Probably terrified that if they do, they will end up, 30 years from now, like Charlton Heston. A movie star who could not get a frigging job in Hollywood because of his political views.

Hollywood is a tough town. Intolerant in many ways. It also can be a very stupid town. These days, it seems filled with stupid people saying stupid things.

I'm very relieved when one of my fellow performers comes out and says something worth listening to.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 03:18:00 PM


I don't have children, but I have enough friends who are parents to know just what a big deal the whole potty-training thing is. Too big a deal? Does it have to be treated with the reverence and seriousness of a meeting of the UN Security Council? Peasants in China somehow manage to get their kids to sit on the pot (or squat over a hole in the ground) without watching 5 Dr. Phil shows ... but whatever. It's a topic which gets people nuts. Dave Barry, God love that man!, and his wife are now in the midst of potty-training their daughter, and his piece is, as always, hilarious.

I think my favorite part is his description of how ALL OF LIFE suddenly revolves around "the potty". Everything comes down to whether or not you can sit on the toilet and do your thing:

Sophie wants to be a ballerina, and we have told her, repeatedly, that if you want to get anywhere in the field of ballet, the No. 1 prerequisite, insisted upon by every major dance academy here and abroad, is that you be potty-trained. Over the holidays we watched The Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker on TV, with my wife and me offering a running commentary, as follows:

MY WIFE: Look! The Snow Queen! She goes potty!

ME: And there's the Sugar Plum Fairy! She's not wearing a diaper!

Great stuff.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 12:21:00 PM


"If all the young people in America were to act as you intend to act, the country would be defenseless and easily delivered into slavery."

-- Albert Einstein, in a 1941 letter to a pacifist.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 12:01:00 PM


"Just as a matter of Political Science 101, if you can't tell the difference between the Soviet Union and the United States, you aren't a person to be taken seriously. "

-- Jonah Goldberg, NRO Editor-at-Large

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 11:54:00 AM

I missed an opportunity last week, when going through the history of the Bohemians. I neglected to say that, in the course of human events, acts of defenestration typified much of the tempest in the Czech teapot.

Thanks Grizz ... your post made me laugh!

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 10:27:00 AM

My friend Maria Wagner sent me this URL last week, and I am freaking out. It is amazing. It's called "World History", and it is full of timelines, and links upon links upon links (it's a very deep site), links you can get lost in.

The Rise and Fall of Han China. Awesome.


Alexander Changes the World.

If I start to really delve into this site, I may never come out.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 10:19:00 AM


A moving editorial about France's short-term memory problems. I found this on Instapundit. I like Glenn Reynold's comment after posting this editorial: "The 'American Street' is unhappy."

Yes. I feel vindicated, after my rant a couple days ago: how sick I am of hearing about The Arab Street.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 10:16:00 AM

Look closely at this picture of a war protest in Harmony, Minnesota. Just look at it very closely.

  contact Sheila Link: 2/10/2003 10:08:00 AM

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