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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KLEMPERER - Nov. 1933

"The extravagant propaganda for a 'Yes' vote. One very commercial vehicle, post office van, mailman's bicycle, on every house and shopwindow, on broad banners, which are stretched across the street -- quotations from Hitler are everywhere and always 'Yes' for peace! It is the most monstrous of hypocrisies. Demonstrations and chanting into the night, loudspeakers on the streets, vehicles (with wireless apparatus playing music mounted on top), both cars and trams.

Yesterday from one until two the 'festive hour.' 'During the 13th hour Adolf Hitler will come to the workers.' The language of the Gospels exactly. The Redeemer comes to the poor. And on top of that the American show style. The howl of sirens, the minute's silence.

I was upstairs with the Dembers. In the little room sat Frau Dember, doing needlework, Emita, an elderly Wendish children's nurse and part-time maid, Frau Mark and myself. From the engine shop at Siemensstadt. For several minutes one heard the whistling, squealing, hammering, then the siren and the humming of the switched-off wheels. A very skillful, calmly delivered evocation of the atmosphere by Goebbels, then more than forty minutes of Hitler. A mostly hoarse, strained, agitated voice, long passages in the whining tone of the sectarian preacher. Content: I know no intellectuals, bourgeois, proletarians -- only the people. Why have millions of my opponents remained in the country? The emigres are 'scoundrels' like the Rasser brothers. And a couple of hundred thousand rootless internationalists -- interruption: "Jews!" -- want to set nations of millions at one another's throats. I want only peace, I have risen from the common people, I want nothing for myself, I have power for another three and half years and need no title. You should say yes for your own sake. Etc., in no proper order, impassioned; every sentence mendacious, but I almost believe: unconsciously mendacious. The man is a blinkered fanatic.

-- Nov. 11, 1933

"On Sunday I voted 'No' in the plebiscite, and I also wrote 'No' on the Reichstag ballot paper. Eva left both slips empty. That was almost a brave deed, because the whole world expects the secrecy of the ballot to be violated. I do not believe that it was really infringed. It was anyway unnecessary for two reasons: (1) It is enough that everyone believed in the violation and was therefore afraid; (2) the correctness of the result as announced was already guaranteed, since the Party dominates everything without opposition. I must also acknowledge that millions were made drunk by the weeks of boundless and boundlessly mendacious 'propaganda for peace', which was countered by not a single printed or spoken word.

For all that: when the triumph was published yesterday: 93 percent vote for Hitler! 40 1/2 million 'yes', 2 million 'No'-- 39 1/2 million for the Reichstag, 3 1/2 million 'invalid'-- I as laid low, I almost believed the figures and held them to be the truth. And since then we have been told in every possible key: this 'election' is recognized abroad, 'all of Germany' is seen to be behind Hitler, [the foreign powers] admire Germany's unity, will be conciliatory toward it, etc., etc. Now all of it makes me drunk, I too am beginning to believe in the power and permanency of Hitler. It is dreadful.

-- On top of everything else 'London says': What especially commanded admiration was that even in the concentration camps most had voted 'Yes'. But that is undoubtedly either a matter of falsification or compulsion. But what good is the rational 'undoubtedly'? If I have no choice but to read and hear something everywhere, it is forced upon me. And if I can hardly guard against believing it -- how shall millions of naive people guard against it? And if they believe, then they are indeed won by Hitler and the power and the glory are really his.

Gusti Wieghardt told me recently that an advertising brochure for some electrical goods or other had been sent to her. In the middle of the advertisement text there had been a Communist article ... But what good do such pinpricks do? Less than none. Because all Germany prefers Hitler to the Communists. And I see no difference between either of the two movements; both are materialistic and lead to slavery."

-- November 14, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 01:24:00 PM

Saturday, April 05, 2003  

KLEMPERER - Oct. 1933

"I delivered a fierce speech to Blumenfeld on the duty of inner readiness, on the duty not to let hate slacken for even an hour."

-- October 22, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 01:13:00 PM

KLEMPERER - October, 1933

"On top of that the growing tyranny, the growing misery and sinking hope of any foreseeable end. (Although the gnashing of teeth in the most diverse social strata is becoming ever more audible.) -- Especially repugnant to us is the behavior of some Jews. They are beginning to submit inwardly and to regard the new ghetto situation atavistically as a legal condition that has to be accepted. … Anyone who does not at every hour of the day hope for revolt is a low dog. Eva's [Klemperer's German wife] bitterness is even greater than mine. National Socialism, she says, more precisely the attitude of the Jews toward it, is making her anti-Semitic...

A sudden decree to make the whole of Tuesday afternoon and half of Thursday afternoon free for military sports. The Cultural Sciences Section can basically only lecture in the afternoon. A series of lectures was simply canceled. Scholarship is no longer essential."

-- October 9, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 01:11:00 PM

KLEMPERER -- August, 1933

"I simply cannot believe that the mood of the masses is really still behind Hitler. Too many signs of the opposite. But everyone, literally everyone, cringes with fear. No letter, no telephone conversation, no word on the street is safe anymore. Everyone fears the next person may be an informer."

-- August 19, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 01:01:00 PM

KLEMPERER - July, 1933

"We hear a lot about Palestine now; it does not appeal to us. Anyone who goes there exchanges nationalism and narrowness for nationalism and narrowness. Also it is a country for capitalists. It is about the size of the province of East Prussia; inhabitants: 200,000 Jews and 800,000 Arabs. -- Sebba spoke very pessimistically about Germany. He said the boycott against us was very tight. The regime will maintain itself for a while with tyranny and the most extreme coercive measures like bread rationing, wage reductions, inflation, perhaps last the winter, perhaps even longer -- but then there will be an unimaginable and bloody chaos. Because after the fall of this government there would be no 'fall-back position' because it has destroyed every organization. (In the course of the last few weeks the one remaining party, the Zentrum, dissolved itself.) He makes the worst possible predictions for the Jews.

For my part it becomes ever more clear to me how completely useless a creature of over-refinement I am, incapable of surviving in more primitive surroundings. Sebba, Blumenfeld, Dember earn a living here and there, can somehow switch to practical things. I, on the other hand, I cannot even be a language teacher, only lecture on the history of ideas, and only in German and from a completely German perspective. I must live here and die here."

-- July 9, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 12:58:00 PM

KLEMPERER - April, 1933

"Notice on the Student House (likewise at all the universities): 'When the Jew writes in German, he lies,' henceforth he is to be allowed to write only in Hebrew. Jewish books must be characterized as 'translations'. -- I only note the most ghastly things, only fragments of the madness in which we are unceasingly immersed...

And all my faith in national psychology -- where has it gone? Perhaps the current madness is indeed a typically German madness ...

The fate of the Hitler movement will undoubtedly be decided by the Jewish business. I do not understsand why they have made this point of their program so central. It will sink them. But we will probably go down with them."

-- April 25, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 12:46:00 PM

KLEMPERER - April 1933

"Is it the influence of the tremendous propaganda -- films, broadcasting, newspapers, flags, ever more celebrations (today is the Day of the Nation, Adolf the Leader's birthday)? Or is it the trembling, slavish fear all around? I almost believe now that I shall not see the end of this tyranny. And I am almost used to the condition of being without rights. I simply am not German and Aryan, but a Jew and must be grateful if I'm allowed to stay alive. -- They are expert at advertising. The day before yesterday we saw (and heard) on film how Hitler holds his big rallies. The mass of SA men in front of him, the half-dozen microphones in front of his lectern, which transmit his words to 600,000 SA men in the whole Third Reich -- one sees his omnipotence and keeps one's head down. And always the Horst Wessel song. And everyone knuckles under. ... How wretched the Doctors' Congress in Wiesbaden. Gratitude to Hitler -- even if the racial question has not yet been clarified, even if the 'aliens' Wassermann, Ehrlich, Neisser have made important contributions to our medicine -- we thank Hitler, he is saving Germany!"

--April 20, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 12:42:00 PM

KLEMPERER - March, April 1933

"The government is in hot water. "Atrocity propaganda" from abroad because of its Jewish campaign. It is constantly issuing official denials, there are no pogroms, and has Jewish associations issue refutations. But then it openly threatens to proceed against the German Jews -- if the mischief making by "World Jewry" does not stop. Meanwhile there is no bloodshed in this country, but oppression, oppression, oppression. No one breathes freely anymore, no free word, neither printed nor spoken."

--March 27, 1933

"Every day new abominations. A Jewish lawyer in Chemnitz kidnapped and shot. 'Provocateurs in SA uniform, common criminals.' Provision of the Civil Service Law. Anyone who has one Jewish grandparent is a Jew. 'In case of doubt the final decision lies with the Specialist for Racial Research in the Reich Interior Ministry.' A worker or employee who is not nationally minded can be dismissed in any factory, [and] must be replaced by a nationally minded one. The NS plant must be consulted. Etc., etc. For the moment I am still safe. But as someone on the gallows, who has the rope around his neck, is safe. At any moment a new 'law' can kick away the steps on which I'm standing and then I'm hanging.

I'm constantly listening for 'symptoms'. A resentful speech by Hugenberg; Oberfohren, the parliamentary leader of the German Nationals, resigning his seat. Friction between SA and Stahlhelm-- but what does it all amount to? Power, a tremendous power, is in the hands of the National Socialists. Half a million armed men, all offices and instruments of state, press and radio, the mood of the inebriated millions. I cannot see where salvation could come from."

-- April 12, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 12:14:00 PM

KLEMPERER - Feb, March 1933

"I am not writing a history of the times here. But I shall nevertheless record my embitterment, greater than I would have imagined I was still capable of feeling. It is a disgrace, which gets worse with every day that passes. And there's not a sound from anyone and everyone's keeping his head down, Jewry most of all and their democratic press. One week after Hitler's appointment we were at the Blumenfelds with Raab. Raab, busybody, political economist, chairman of the Humboldt Club, made a big speech and declared it was necessary to vote for the German Nationals, so as to strengthen the right wing of the coalition. I vehemently took issue with him. More interesting his opinion that Hitler will end in religious madness ... what is strangest of all is how one is blind in the face of events, how no one has a clue to the real balance of power. Who will have the majority on March 5? Will the terror be tolerated and for how long?"

-- Feb. 21, 1933

"Hitler Chancellor. What, up to election Sunday on March 5, I called terror, was a mild prelude. Now the business of 1918 is being exactly repeated, only under a different sign, under the swastika. Again, it's astounding how easily everything collapses. What has happened to Bavaria, what has happened to the Reichsbanner, etc. etc.? Eight days before the election the clumsy business of the Reichstag fire -- I cannot imagine that anyone really believes in Communist perpetrators instead of paid [swastika sign] work. Then the wild prohibitions and acts of violence. And on top of that the neverending propaganda in the street, on the radio, etc. On Saturday the fourth, I heard a part of Hitler's speech from Konigsberg. The front of a hotel at the railway station, illuminated, a torchlight procession in front of it, torchbearers and swastika flag bearers on the balconies and loudspeakers. I understood only words. But the tone! The unctuous bawling, truly bawling, of a priest. ---

Yesterday the dramaturge Karl Wolf dismissed "by order of the Nazi party" -- not even in the name of the government -- today the whole Saxon cabinet, etc., etc. A complete revolution and party dictatorship. And all opposing forces as if vanished from the face of the earth. It is this utter collapse of a power only recently present, no, it's complete disappearance (just as in 1918) that I find so staggering. Que sais-je?"

--March 10, 1933

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 12:05:00 PM


"I shall go on writing. That is my heroism. I will bear witness, precise witness!" -- May 27, 1942

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 11:58:00 AM


If you have not read the two volumes of Victor Klemperer's journals entitled I Will Bear Witness, then I highly recommend you do so. They are dense, some parts of them are very difficult, (and the typeface, in my opinion, is way too small -- but then again: I am legally blind!) -- but man, is it a worthwhile experience. Truly. The journals are incredibly detailed first-hand accounts of the rise of the Nazi regime, written by a Jewish man, an intellectual, who was married to a German woman. A Christian.

And the title says it all. As the noose tightened, as their options dwindled, as their freedoms were slowly but surely taken from them ... he kept to his self-assigned task: that he would bear witness.

Unbelievable. Riveting reading.

He somehow, somehow, maintains a cold analytical eye (for the most part). He does not put his head in the sand. He analyzes the newspapers, the language of the Nazis ... he documents how the Nazis hijacked language, taking over words like power and honor and work and father ... and twisted them, made them agents of evil. To me, that is the best part of the book. His deconstruction of the Nazi language.

Great stuff. Going to post a random series of quotes from his journals. Stay tuned.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 11:49:00 AM


I am filled with admiration for "Mohammed", the lawyer who alerted Marines as to the whereabouts of "the female soldier". More coming out about his experience. After walking the "treacherous" miles to the barracks, and being accosted by a Marine: "What do you want?" he was then told to make trips to the hospital, and bring back to the Marines more specifics about where Jessica Lynch was. Because of his information, the soldiers were able to swoop in, race immediately to the room where she was, scoop her up, and race out. There was no wild goose chase because of him. Also, his wife was involved in the espionage, sending a message to the Marines that a helicopter could land on the roof.

They have now been whisked away to safety, because of their courageous acts.

Two quotes from him:

"A person is a human being regardless of nationality. Believe me, I love Americans.''

"I am afraid not for me. I am afraid about my daughter and my wife. ... Because I love much.''

God/Allah bless you, my friend.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 11:33:00 AM


My favorite website (possibly of all time), Arts & Letters Daily, has added The Command Post to their middle section of links, entitled War News.


  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 11:12:00 AM


Another beautiful story about humanity (not humanity as a noun, but humanity as a quality) ... That, when you get right down to it, "people" are, in the words of Anne Frank, "really good at heart."

What's that other quote? "Men are cruel, but man is kind.'

Anyway, I found this story on The Greatest Jeneration and had to link to it.

I am sure, when asked, this "midwife Marine" would say, as so many other stand-up guys have said time and time again: "No big deal ... I was just doing my job." But that's part of the beauty of it.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 11:06:00 AM


...along with a lot of other people. The story entitled "Where do they find men like this?", by Martin Savidge, a CNN correspondent, is, apparently, an urban legend. We probably should call it a "desert legend", or a "Fertile Crescent legend" ... but whatever you call it, apparently it never happened.

(via Blogs of War)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/05/2003 10:58:00 AM

all right, people, i'm outta here.... It's been a long day ... a happy/sad day. My "Persian friends" are all coming to the show tonight. The friends I made during the Gertrude Bell project. And my friend Eileen is coming too. This show wipes me out. It takes me a while to get ready to do it, and it takes me a while to come down.

Going to the gym now, to chill OUT, maybe have a good cry in the steam room, and then down to the theatre.

Have a lovely evening, everybody.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 05:08:00 PM

Friday, April 04, 2003  


You just have to see this. It can't be described.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 05:04:00 PM


The sudden death of Peggy. Every day my thoughts of love pour out of me towards her family, towards Cashel ... little sweet Cashel.

I miss my siblings. It's been too long since we have hung out, and I ache for it.

The war.

Doing my show, downtown in Chinatown. Intense. Every night a roller-coaster.

Writing. Working on my essays like a fiend. Working on my one-woman show ... bringing it in to show my mentor. Which was such a nerve-wracking and gorgeous experience that I couldn't sleep for a couple of hours after going home.

Ambition. Hopes. Dreams.

And the loss of Peggy.

My parents came down last night to my show. Beautiful people. I cherish them. We met up at the Strand today. Peggy's death makes me want to hold them close to me. "Be safe ... drive safe ... call me when you get in..."

I have a ton of people coming to the show tonight.

I need a vacation.

Rain pouring down onto the pavement outside. Eminem blaring in my headphones. Sad about Michael Kelly. Excited about Eddie Izzard. Working on my writing in any free 5-minute space of time I have. Exhausted, worked up. Life is good. I am blessed.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 04:58:00 PM


Just received a "breaking news" email:

President Bush issues executive order adding SARS to list of communicable diseases for which a person can be quarantined. Details to come.

Still no sign of this news on any of the major news sites, least of all CNN ... what the hell is going on? Again, I have not been paying sufficient attention to SARS.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 04:50:00 PM


I LOVE Eddie Izzard. My friend Ruben introduced me to him, sending me a tape of his HBO comedy special. "Dressed to Kill". If you don't know who this guy is, you must check him out. Hilarious. So smart, so funny, so ... indescribable. Truly.

If you've seen the special, then you will know of what I speak:

"Thank you for flying Church of England ... cake or death?"


I saw him on Letterman a couple weeks ago, and he mentioned that he was opening in a play at the Roundabout, here in New York. Doing a play which he had done very successfully in London: A Day in the Death of Joe Egg

Well, Brantley just gave it a terrific review, which thrills me. I feel like I KNOW Eddie Izzard, and I am a dear friend, pleased at his positive notices. (Okay, I'm nuts.)

However: I must get my act together and go see this play.

Listen to how Brantley describes the acting. It sounds exhilarating:

When I first saw Mr. Izzard and Ms. Hamilton perform this scene, more than a year ago in London, I was convinced that they had improvised at least part of it, but when I checked the script, it was all according to the text. And when I recently saw them enact the same lines at the American Airlines Theater in New York, where "A Day in the Death of Joe Egg" opened last night, I again thought for one disorienting moment that they were inventing the words on the spot.

That's the kind of freshness that comes only when a performer's affinity with a role is like a blood tie. And that's what Mr. Izzard and Ms. Hamilton, directed by Laurence Boswell, bring to their interpretations of Mr. Nichols's play about the parents of a severely disabled child who use jokes to bandage wounds and to stop up the holes in a sinking marriage. They're a truly, spontaneously funny couple — so funny that they break your heart.

A lump in my throat. Yes. So funny they break your heart. Yes. I know people like that.

And a beautiful analysis (man, when Brantley is on, he is ON...):

Mr. Izzard and Ms. Hamilton have, of course, already completely hijacked your attention, dragging you by charm and coercion into the alarmingly intimate interior of one couple's relationship. As a woman who loves too much, and who expects love to transform its objects, Ms. Hamilton has a radiance that stops short, as it must, of saintliness. Part of that glow is purely sensual, though Sheila has little time for sex anymore, and you can sympathize with Bri's frustrations with her.

Mr. Izzard is more slyly persuasive in his portrayal of an emotional cripple, an anguished mix of adult intellect and a child's hunger for attention and affection. He uses the subliminal, masochistic anger common among stand-up comics to illuminate the essential self-disgust in Bri, his sad awareness of his moral limitations.

Ah.. It sounds wonderful. I can't wait to see it.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 04:43:00 PM


Now I learn he has two young sons. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

New York Times


Fox News

Peggy Noonan. Peggy Noonan's writing makes me cry.

I think that when excellence enters the world--when an individual brings his excellence into the world--it is like a deep love being born between two people for the first time. It goes into the world and adds to the sum total of good in it. It inspires, and is moving in a way that cannot always be explained or understood. It adds to.

That's what Michael Kelly's career did: It added to.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 04:29:00 PM


Here are some of the terms people have "Googled" which then led them to me:

1800s Slovak genocide

Saddam in Paris

blog redhead iraq

body contradiction fat thin "The New Republic"

Stalin gulag

teenage redhead models

Lech Walesa Solidarity trade unions

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 04:21:00 PM


All right, so this is chilling. A "backstage" look at the PC police running the NY Times. This sort of control of language makes me NUTS. It not only makes me nuts, it frightens me. When language is controlled to such a degree, it starts to die. (Look at the French language ... the language is not allowed to grow and flourish and expand, so they have no choice but to incorporate English phrases... The French-language police want the language to sit in a glass case, unchanging, perfect...) Without flexibility, language perishes on the vine.

I don't want to boil down this column ... you just have to read it. It is written by Boris Johnson, Conservative MP. He describes his experience trying to write an Op-ed column for the New York Times. It is absurd. ABSURD.

And scary. A glimpse of fascism. Language ironed out. Being taught how to say things correctly. And not just how to say things, but the PHILOSOPHY behind it all. That's the scariest thing of all.


Without a flexible language, we would have no Shakespeare. No Joyce. Controlling language controls thought. And I suppose that's the point of the PC police. There are some things which you are not even allowed to THINK.

But no. No. I can't explain why this seems so wrong to me, others can do it better than I, but I just know it's wrong. It is a slippery-slope.


(Via Curveball)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 03:51:00 PM

It's A BIT interesting...

Have you heard the continuing saga of the 2 pesky little words "a bit", which were omitted from a quote in a NY Times story? I love obsessive people (like Andrew Sullivan) who read the NY Times "Corrections" page, trying to figure out what is REALLY going on, behind the scenes at that paper. The things you find on that page!! Anyway, this story of "A BIT" doesn't seem to be going away. I keep hearing about it.

Jonah Goldberg picking up on the correction in the NY Times

Andrew Sullivan asks: One simple question: why are the reporters who used that critical quote to exaggerate the difficulties of the allies still working for the NYT? The reporters in question are Bernard Weinraub, formerly of the Hollywood beat, and Thom Shanker.

Andrew Sullivan won't let it go. Read this. You gotta have a good eye for this kind of stuff.

If you think this kind of thing isn't a big deal, if you can't see what a big deal this is, then all of this discussion will seem paranoid and hallucinatory. But until you walk in the shoes of those on the other side ... you will never frigging understand.

You have to at least entertain the notion that people on the "other side" (read: conservatives) are not just mean, cruel, uncaring, bigots, whatever. You have to at LEAST entertain the notion that we, on THIS side, read the same papers as you do, we watch the same news ... and yet we see different things. We perceive different things. We come to different conclusions, based on the same information.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 03:34:00 PM


Just great. And an even better photo to accompany it. Beautiful.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 03:24:00 PM


A moving tribute to Michael Kelly by Jonah Goldberg.

Goldberg says:

Howard Kurtz' obit says Kelly was a conservative and I suppose that's right. But I never really saw him as one. Rather, I always perceived him as an old style blue collar Democrat whose B.S. detector pushed him to the right on specific issues. Whatever, his columns were tough as nails, but he always explained where he was coming from. In that I've always seen him as a role model -- there's nothing wrong with hitting the other guy hard as long as you provide a rationale for doing so and are willing to take your lumps in return. But Kelly was also an intellectually gifted man with a profound sense of decency, or at least that's the impression I always got from his work.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 03:13:00 PM



I'm in tears. I hope that we can do right by your country, sir. You deserve it. You deserve better. Thank you.

He said, "I saw them hit the female soldier, and my heart stopped."


  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 02:59:00 PM


Statement from The Atlantic Monthly

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 02:55:00 PM

oh my god.

I just heard the news.

I don't know what to say. I read everything Michael Kelly wrote. His op-ed columns in The Washington Post have been breaths of clear-eyed sanity through this whole thing. And I have always cherished the The Atlantic Monthly.

My response is a selfish response. I immediately feel the loss. Knowing that I will not read anything by Kelly again. I am very sad about that.

But beyond the selfishness: this is a huge loss to all of us. Journalism in this country needs people like Michael Kelly.

Allison, at An Unsealed Room, says: I feel like I "know" reporters that I've been reading and admiring for years. She echoes my own thoughts perfectly:

I feel like I know Tom Friedman. I feel like I know Jonah Goldberg. Rod Dreher. I feel like I know Maureen Dowd. And I feel like I know Michael Kelly.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 02:35:00 PM



I feel like Fred Rogers. "Time to feed the fish!" "Okay, now we go into the Land of Make Believe!" "And today, girls and boys ... is Diary Friday!"

It was harder than I thought it would be to pick an entry out. So much sad stuff!! But let's just see how this goes. I am not going to do too much setup with these. I want to see if the story can stand on its own merit. This entry is from my trip to Ireland with my sister Jean to visit my other sister Siobhan, who was going to school in Dublin.

November, 1998 Ireland
The Stella Maris Hostel: One of the guys talking to me about the ferry [to the Aran Islands] from Galway-- thick brogue-- He saw the look on my face, stopped himself, grinned: "Can ya' understand me?"

At first they put us in this room that would have to be seen to be believed. Light blue stained walls, awful overhead lights, FILTHY -- and about four random bunk beds strewn about. No sheets. Ripped-up mattresses. Jean was still in a glowering mood [because we had accidentally ripped the bumper off of our rent-a-car], so she threw her bag down, and sat on one of the bottom bunks. "Fine. This is fine." Totally resigned to fate.

The entire place smelled of cabbage.

It was only 7 or 7:30. We had hours to go before bedtime. I had about three books in my bag. All visions of a cozy B&B with a bedside lamp, and a big puf-a-puf bed vanished. Now all we had was stripped bunk beds (four of them), dirty overhead lights with dead bugs trapped inside, and cabbage. I couldn't read in this room!

And we were no longer sure that we would even make it to Rossaveal in the morning. The guys downstairs made it sound like a journey up Everest's north face.

They had pity on us and moved us into another room -- just a little bit better. Outside: a round tourist-info building up against the sea wall. But from our view, it looked like a vat of some kind of nuclear waste.

Finally, the bumper debacle dissipated and what took its place? The giggles. Every time we looked at the nuclear waste dump outside we would lose it again. Jean and I thrashed about in our freezing room, laughing like maniacs. We couldn't stand to stay in the room. We asked the guys downstairs for a wake-up call. What were we thinking?

We took a walk along the sea. Looking out into the darkness. Out there in the cold-- out there somewhere -- were the Aran Islands. People living their lives out there ... as we speak. Life on the Aran Islands goes on. Makes me feel homesick. The smell of the salt air. Jean and me walking along, wolfing down crackers, putting off going back to that bleak room.

Finally we came back to the Stella Maris -- got our books -- and went down to the pub next door. It was only 9or so, maybe earlier. Jean had In the Time of Butterflies, and I had one of my airport books: The Notebook, which ******* had raved about to me. That's the last time I read a book HE recommends. It SUCKED. I could not even bear it.

The pub was dingy, like an old living room. Dusty rug, crackling fire, smoky air, couches, the bartender playing cards with someone. A bunch of rowdy giggly short-skirted Galway girls huddled over by the fire, celebrating a birthday, drinking, smoking, making constant cell phone calls.

Jean and I sat drinking, and reading. Communing peacefully. It's such a different bar scene than in the States. Mellow. Like you're in your own house. Then the Galway girls left, we took their seats by the fire, and it was just us four people in the pub. For hours. The TV on with no sound. Jean and I reading, drinking Guinness, Jean having an enraptured reading experience, and I, to put it bluntly, was NOT having an enraptured reading experience. When we left the next morning, I left the book in a drawer in the room, with a note: "Warning: This book is AWFUL."

Added to the graffiti in the bathroom: "Sheila and *****, Nov. 1998"

Why did I do this? Sort of as a joke. Sometimes it comes to my mind, that across the ocean that graffiti still exists. A fantasy, too ... of ***** and I getting together in the future, and traveling to Ireland ... and me tracking down that graffiti to show to him ... as what? Proof of my clairvoyance? My psychic powers? I have no idea. I will tell no one about this. It's too silly. It's my secret. And -- for some reason -- it makes me want to giggle. Those random words written by ME in the Stella Maris Pub, Salt Hill, County Galway, Ireland ... I mean, it's comical, on some level ... in a sort of bitter way. Making a joke out of my own life (or lack of life).

Finally -- past midnight -- up to our dreadful room. It was so freezing that we climbed into the lumpy double bed with all of our clothes on, and socks, and mittens, and hats.

Jean read to me, and then we both fell asleep. We woke up two hours past the time we had asked for a "wake-up call".

"Jean? What time is it?"

Something felt wrong. Too much traffic outside, too much light.

We lay in stunned paralysis for a moment, trying to comprehend the turn of events. It was twenty to 9. The ferry from Rossaveal left at ten. And everyone had made us afraid about the difficulty of the drive. Would we ever get to the Aran Islands?

Then came the turning point moment.

Jean: "Sheila. I think we can make it. If we get up and go NOW."

And that's what we did.

The Tazmanian Devil O'Malley sisters, tossing our shit into bags, shoving hats down on our sleepy hair, racing down the stairs ... Those guys were SO not around. Jean called out, through the sleeping hostel lobby: "Thanks a lot for the wake-up call, guys!!"

And ... we MADE it. Even with stopping to tape up the bumper, and the damn wheel hub fiasco -- turning around to go get it -- me running across the street to grab it. And the road was SO not bad. The guys at the Stella Maris made it sound like it would be a dirt road, and that we would need 4 wheel drive. We certainly were out in the middle of nowhere, bleak, all Gaelic signs, but the roads themselves were fine. "Fields" on one side, filled with rocks. More rocks than dirt. Brown and grey chopped-up rocky land as far as the eye can see. Grey ocean crashing to our left.

And then -- an hour behind schedule -- we made it. We were on the ferry to the Aran Islands. We could hardly believe that we had MADE it. We DID it.

And I must just jot down some of the funny things from our Saturday night in Dublin-- Kiely's and then Rio's.

Jean took off her sweater at Kiely's, tank top underneath, basically all for the benefit of the Adam Ant look-alike across the pub, who remained completely unaware of her display.

The boys we met that night decided to take us to a place called Rio's. I remember as we all emerged from Kiely's, Brian was sort of the ringleader. Jean and I were walking with him. I said, "Where's the accountant?" and Jean said, "Where's the guy with the little glasses?" and Brian said, to an invisible audience, "Oh, listen to ya'! You've got little names for all of us, have ya'?"

We all piled into our car. With the taped bumper. I was on Cahul's lap. Siobhan was BURIED in men in the backseat. A hilarious drive into Dublin. All of us talking at once. Jokes, repartee, laughter, witty comments. Great company, those Irish boys.

Then: Rio's.

CHEESE-ball Dublin dance club. Packed. Silver reflective surfaces, club music blaring.

Jean and I stood in line to check our coats (a mistake!). Our passports and tickets home were in her purse, which she also checked.

A small muscled bald man insisted on bonding with Jean while we were in line. He basically fell madly in love with her. Immediately.

Irish men all immediately remember and assimilate your name. It's a beautiful thing. Very good manners. "So ... tell me, Sheila..."

Later in the night, after the fuse blew at Rio's, and the entire dance club was out on the sidewalk, with their pints of Guinness, and everything was hilarious and out of control, and Jean and Siobhan and I had bonded with these other guys, suddenly Baldie emerged out of the throng and shouted joyfully at Jean, as though they were dear old friends, who hadn't seen one another in years: "JEAN!!"

Baldie was all about line dancing. He assumed that because we were Americans, we would be able to line-dance with the best of them. He was dancing with Jean when the power went, twirling her around, and I heard him say something about "the prom". Ha ha. His vision of America: line dancing and proms.

So, we walked into Rio's, checked our coats, and me, Siobhan, Jean, and Brian hit the dance floor. Cheesy music, cheesy strobe lights, so much fun. Brian dancing was so adorable. He was completely dancing for himself, totally unself-conscious. Our new friend from Tipperary. We danced for maybe two or three songs when a fuse blew. All lights and music went out, and the entire place was plunged into darkness.

Brian totally owned it. He felt responsible. He was embarrassed. He was trying to show these three crazy American girls a good time and look what happens! He was sort of laughing and apologetic, "This never happens!!"

My heart cracked. We assured him (through the pitch black) that we were having the best time of our lives. It was an adventure. The whole night was wacked, but once the lights went out, it reached a whole other level of insanity.

Baldie and Jean took to the dance floor in the darkness. There was no music, but they kept line-dancing away. People kept drinking. The noise-level was outrageous. There was a general atmosphere of camaraderie, hilarity, humor.

Finally, someone came along and told us all that we had to evacuate the building.

A mild form of Irish pandemonium ensued.

A throng clustered in line to retrieve our coats, in the pitch dark. The poor coat-check girl blundering around in the black. Everyone continued to smoke and drink and whoop it up IN THE DARK. Jean and I lost track of Siobhan. We also lost track of the crazy group of boys who had taken us here. Baldie continued to love Jean, completely glued to her side, making witty smart-ass comments. He was making us cry with laughter.

We were going nowhere in that line. Jammed together in a mad mob. Jean yelled out, "HEY. SOMEONE GRABBED MY ASS." Baldie prepared to get into a fist-fight to defend Jean's honor. Jean promptly got totally paranoid right after her outburst that she had pissed off a group of "Dublin girls".

Finally we reached the coat check are, only to be confronted with an Irish fireman (Lord help us and save us), holding a flashlight, ushering us out a back door.

"But what about our coats?" I said, right in his face. Obnoxious American behavior.

And then came the party on the sidewalk in front of Rio's.

The entire nightclub had poured out onto the street. A fleet of fire trucks lined the block, lights flashing. It was a cold night. No one had coats. Everyone had brought their drinks outside with them. Everyone, that is, except for Jean and I (we still couldn't find Siobhan) -- with our American dread of "open containers". The guys we met on the sidewalk were so shocked and bemused that we had left our beers in the club. "They'd have kept you warm, y'know?"

Pandemonium. Firemen running around. Garda running around. One dashed by us and Jean exclaimed, joyfully, "Garda!" Swirling lights. A huge crowd of shivering drunk people. Laughter. Noise. Everyone was bonding.

We all got separated. We had no idea where Siobhan was. I lost Jean. I wandered around looking for my sisters.

Siobhan later described looking for us, finally resorting to yelling my name out into the crowd. "SHEILA!"

And some random guy she had never seen before offered, "Oh ... I think I saw her over there."

We howled about this later.

I found Jean finally. We huddled up against each other shivering, be-moaning the fact that our passports and tickets home were trapped in the doomed night club. We met up with two or three other amusing Irish men on the sidewalk, and we were all about: "Our passports! Our plane tickets!" And one of them said to us, gently, in an "I'm not judging you, but you should know --" tone: "It'd probably be best to not carry those things around with you." So gentle!

Then Siobhan re-appeared. Glamorous Siobhan with her black velvet boa and her long curly hair.

A drunken convivial group, all hugging one another to keep warm, began singing "American Pie". And -- beautifully -- it caught on. Until the entire crowd from Rio's, lining the sidewalk, joined in ... and we all ... every single one of us ... sang along. Everyone knew every single word. We sang as loud as we could. People danced, people had their arms round each other ... We worked together as a group, all slowing down as one during the melancholy last verse.

"I went down to the sacred store
where I'd heard the music years before...."

One of my favorite memories of all time: singing American Pie with the large group of Irish revelers, because the fuse had blown.

Jean was so cold that this one guy put his arms around her, hugging her to keep her warm. He hugged her for about twenty minutes. Siobhan blatantly took a picture of it. We asked him to take a picture of the three of us, clustered on the stairs. Jean was blithering at him about how the "night flash" worked. Suffice it to say that Jean was obsessed with the "night flash".

The guy's friends were making jokes about "flashing", every time the words "night flash" came out of Jean's mouth (which was many many times.) "Oh, don't say the word 'flash' to him!" "Now you've done it!" "Oh God, she said it again!"

I said as he aimed the camera at us: "Come on! Flash us!" This was a huge hit with the group.

Jean and I stood in front of one of the fire trucks, surrounded by all our new friends. Baldie continued to follow Jean around, making her laugh. That is the way Irish men court women. They keep the ladies laughing. Siobhan took a picture of all of us, and there was something hilarious, too, about Siobhan documenting all of this craziness -- her leaning in, aiming her camera, and pressing the night flash.

One of the guys said to us, "My wife just had triplets. She doesn't want to see my face for a while."

The entire atmosphere was so different from New York. I was trying to imagine how a crowd at a Manhattan night club would react in a similar situation. But in Dublin there were no diva fits, no flying into huffs, no outrage at the inconvenience ... Instead, we had the night flash and "American Pie". I could have stayed out there on the sidewalk all night. It was beautiful!

We completely lost Brian, Taidhg, Cahul and Steven. They disappeared. But we found other friends.

They let people back in to retrieve their coats. Jean was our emissary. She described going back into the darkened night club, she got her coat, and she was told to go out through the dance floor. And the entire fire department was sitting on bar stools, lounging about, smoking cigarettes, so blasé: "Hey, how ya' doin'?"

Why is that image so damn funny to me?

While Jean was inside, I somehow hooked up with five other guys. I started talking to one hottie wearing a fleece hat. He asked my name. "Sheila." All of his friends started chanting, in a warm approving chorus, "Sheila! Sheila!" Nodding to one another, like, "Ah, that's a good name."

"So ... Sheila..." said Fleece Hat Hottie. Immediately saying my name back to me, like all Irish men do.

Of course he assumed I was Irish, and the second I got out more than three words, he stopped me, excited, "You're from the States?"


"Where from?"

"Rhode Island?" (said with a question mark...)

He leapt right in, eager to show his knowledge. "Okay -- here's how it goes, right? You have Rhode Island -- then Cape Cod -- then New York."

"No. No. That's not how it goes. Cape Cod comes first. So it goes, Cape Cod, Rhode Island, New York --"

He was so intent on me. He took it in. "Ah, yes. Of course. That's how it goes." He had lived on Cape Cod. He had this beautiful flirty humorous intent energy.

Jean said it was so funny, coming back out of Rio's, and seeing me surrounded by five men, deep in conversation, as though we had known one another all our lives.

"You know what Sheila means to Australians, don't you?" Fleece-Hat said, leering at me in a lecherous and utterly friendly way. He made me laugh.

And finally: off we went. Totally high from our adventure. My sisters and I, as we pulled away from Rio's, were still laughing, re-living funny moments, roaring about the night flash.

Jean suddenly called out, when we hit an intersection: "Look! It's those guys!" There were our "night flash" friends crossing the street. We beeped, waving at them, manically, as though they were our DEAR friends. They stopped, turned, squinted into our car. When they saw that it was us, the crazy American girls they had been hugging to keep us warm, they got these huge delighted smiles on their faces (oh, my heart ... people ... I love people ...)...Then, as a joke, they made this big show about how cold they were, hugging themselves, because they had kept us warm.

We literally could not have had a funner night.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/04/2003 08:37:00 AM


1922 - The new Central Committee in Russia appointed Joseph Stalin as General Secretary of the Communist Party. (this makes me go cold ... horrors ... if they only knew...)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 05:22:00 PM

Thursday, April 03, 2003  


Is there a song out at the moment more exciting, more rousing, more mind-blowing than Eminem's "White America"? DAMN. Listening to it right now. It's out of this world.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 02:30:00 PM


Just saw a headline on Yahoo News: "Actor Vin Diesel comes to terms with fame."

Thank GOD. I was really really really concerned about that.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 01:20:00 PM


The Command Post is going to hit a million visitors today. It has been up for two weeks. This is out of control. It's like the Silm Shady LP selling millions of copies in its first week. Unheard of.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 12:19:00 PM


No, not that soliloquy. But a soliloquy nonetheless. I have chills. The words of an Iraqi prisoner of war, speaking into a reporter's tape recorder. Terrible.

(Thanks to VodkaPundit for alerting me to Oriana Fallaci's latest)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 12:09:00 PM


When I first began this blog, my idea for it was that it would be a place to throw my voice into the fray. The increasingly crowded blogosphere. A place where whatever I felt, thought, my opinions about things: I could post. It's MY blog. Many of my friends and family do not agree with my views, but because of the blog community, I know I am not alone. I do not feel as isolated or alienated as I might have otherwise. The blog is a big reason.

There were other things I wanted to express on this blog.

I keep copious files on every country on the planet. Who knows why ... but I do. Some countries, clearly, hold more interest to me than others, so their "files" are larger. Afghanistan (my fascination with that country WAY pre-dates Sept. 11), Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan ... the Balkans. Any country in Central Asia. The Middle Eastern countries. Particularly Iran. I don't know what I plan on DOING with these files, unless the CIA knocks on my door randomly one day and says, "Ma'am, we have heard about your files, and we need to know what you know about Kyrgyzstan." The scary thing is that I could answer them. Immediately. ha ha

"Kyrgyzstan is a small mountainous country squashed in between China and Kazakhstan ... The whole country is mountains. Huge mountains. We're talking the Tien Shan, okay?? Bring your hiking boots and oxygen tent, boys."

So anyway: I decided to use this blog as a forum for my obsessive knowledge about certain countries. Hence, my whole "Focus On" series (see the left nav).

I have stopped working on that series lately. Pretty much starting with the war in Iraq. I just don't feel like "focusing on" anywhere else right now. I will get hyped up again about it, I am sure ... but for now: my eyes are turned permanently towards Iraq, and it seems kind of meaningless to write a series of essays about the history of Albania. I don't know. It just seems ... meaningless. Not that I don't care about Albania, I do. But the interest for me is not in that arena anymore.

So this morning I had an idea:

I'm a writer. I don't just respond to the world. I try to describe it.

I keep copious journals. Or at least: I have in the past. My journals from high school and college are ... portraits of obsessive over-description. My friends wonder how I have such a fantastic memory, and can recall to them conversations we had 10 years ago. I don't have a good memory. I just write everything down. Somehow, that engraves the memory in stone in my brain.

I rarely read over what I write. It's not good to live in the past. I use them as a reference point, occasionally. If one of my friends say, "So ... what year did we do The Rimers of Eldritch in college?", I can look it up and tell them. I can tell my girlfriends who they were dating and at what time in their lives. "No, no, no, the year of that huge blizzard was the time you were dating that Xerox repair guy." I hold onto the facts of other people's lives. It's NUTS.

My friend Mitchell calls me "the Homer" of our group of friends. The chronicler. The memory.

So now, I am going to incorporate this into my blog: diary entries throughout my life. I will leap about in chronology. I will pick stuff out at random, things I want to share, or things I think are funny, interesting, well-written. The journals are a gold-mine, I am telling you. Posting journal entries will be a big help to me at this moment in my life: I am working on a lot of different writing projects (fiction, non-fiction), and there are stuff in these journals which can spark me on, keep me going, remind me of funny/sad/thought-provoking details from my past. Bad writing is GENERAL writing. "God is in the details". This is true. I want to post entries from my journals for this reason, but I also want to do it for those of you out there who enjoy my more personal posts, the ones about my life, my experiences, whatever.

Some people come to me for the politics, the conservative outlook. I will not give that up. I will still be watching the media, and commenting on what I see. That will not go away.

The blog will contain both.

I am thinking of having Friday be "DIARY DAY". Start out the day with some entry from my journals, journals I have been keeping since I was fourteen years old.

If this is self-absorbed, so be it. The whole idea of a blog is self-absorbed!

But to get these words OUT, to put these things out into the world ... This is part of joining the fray. This is what I am all about.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 11:21:00 AM


After my little rant yesterday about The Daily Mirror, I was heartened to read this news today.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 11:04:00 AM


Some of the things I have been reading and looking at this morning brings to mind the most famous Anne Frank quote, written only a couple of days before her family was captured:

"I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart."

What IS that? What do you CALL that kind of hope, faith, belief? Well. I call it God. That, to me, IS God. An actual manifestation of Him, or It, or whatever. The force for good in the universe, which can never be extinguished. Never.

Here's a story, posted by the indispensable Lt.Smash, which makes me feel the same way.

I don't have the faith that Anne Frank had. I do not know what would have happened to my psychology, which tends towards doom and gloom, if I had been in her predicament. Her diary makes me want to fall to my knees in awe. And humility.

In the play made of her diary, Otto Frank is given her diary at the end. Long after the war is over. Everyone in that house had died, except for him. As is easy to imagine, he was a completely shattered man. In the last scene of the play, the epilogue, he reads sections of her diary. And he reads that one line: "I still believe, in spite of everything,that people are really good at heart."

He takes it in. He tries to take it in. It is hard to take in. And then he says, simply, "She puts me to shame."

I read the Lt. Smash post, about the casual selflessness of the Marines, and that is what I feel. They put me to shame.

I sit here in my warm apartment, drinking coffee. I am going to go do my play tonight. And then go out afterwards, and have a drink with my parents. Talk about the play. Tomorrow morning, I am meeting my parents for breakfast in the city, before they take off for Maine. The weekend after the show closes, I am going to take a bus home to Rhode Island. Visit with my dear high school friends, hang out with my parents, talk with them, eat with them, take a walk around the block, looking at spring budding all around me.

I get to do all of this, because those TEENAGERS are sacrificing everything over in Iraq, fighting for their country. For our country. They have given up the comforts of home, they have left their parents, their girlfriends,their wives behind ... they sleep in cots in the middle of abrutal desert, they risk their lives. They dream of home. But they keep pressing forward.

I honestly do not know how to thank them. From the bottom of my heart I say: I thank you for the sacrifices you are making on my behalf.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 08:21:00 AM


The following essay, written by Bill Whittle, and published last week, is already making its mark. It is long. I printed it out, and read it last night over my dinner at a local tavern. I could not put it down.

The man has such skill and sensitivity as a writer. I cannot recommend him highly enough. The essay is called "History". It filled me with emotion, with purpose, pride, agreement (or, as Fred Durst would say, "agreeance"). He tries to bring perspective to this war. Not an easy thing. Not an easy thing, indeed.

Please. Do yourself a favor and take the time to read his essay.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 08:09:00 AM


The woman makes me LAUGH. She is one righteous chick, and her turn of phrase is second to none. She deserves every accolade she gets.

Here is her post on Al Gore, and the speech he made in support of The Dixie Chicks. She deconstructs his speech on the matter, and translates it for us, letting us know what he really means.

It is hilarious.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 08:02:00 AM


Another great photo!

I think I have fallen in love.

You know what this picture makes me see? Maybe it's romanticized, but please indulge me. I'm a Sagittarian, and we are known for our LACK of sentimentality. Men give Sagittarians roses, and we generally could not care less. However: here's what I see when I see that photo. I see this smiling GI as an old man, a grandfather. I see his mantelpiece. On the mantel are pictures of him and his wife on his wedding day, I see pictures of all his grandkids. And among those photos is this one. Framed. A remembrance of his time in Iraq, when he did something good.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 07:50:00 AM


.. and it's not even 7:30 yet.

Here's a photo essay. I'm just all choked up about it. I don't even know why I'm crying. I'm very proud of our armed forces ... pride which almost hurts. It hurts my heart to look at these photos. I want to HUG the soldiers. But also: there is something about the little Afghan boy, his serious little face, squatting to pick a bouquet of flowers, which has completely undone me this morning.

Sheila's come undone.

(via One Hand Clapping - another site with a heart-wrenching and beautiful photo essay)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 07:41:00 AM


We have three more shows. As up and down as this whole thing has been, as frustrating, as upsetting ... I am going to miss it. What will I miss?

-- the last moment of the show ... the lights dimming, snow falling, smiling at one another ... feeling the audience sitting there STUNNED at what they have just seen ... That last moment always works, and I love doing it every night. I feel so happy.

-- being in Chinatown on a daily basis. I rarely go down there, and I am completely in love with it now. Great area of town.

-- the great bar staff at Whiskey Nancy, our after-show hangout. Listen to this: they all CAME to see our play. Took their only nights off and trekked over to see their new regulars in a play. Isn't that beautiful?

-- I am going to miss my Mary Agnes costume. I love my costume. I wear a clingy jersey-top, made up of different blocks of orangey-brown colors. It looks great on me, for some reason, and makes my hair look absolutely flaming-orange. Then I wear a long clingy dark grey skirt. Nude hose. A lot of girlie jewelry: green sparkley earrings, a Celtic cross necklace, a silver bracelet, and a Claddagh ring. For shoes I wear brown penny loafers ... well, they have the look of penny loafers, except they also have high chunky heels. Very glamorous. Not to be vain or anything, it's just that it is so rare that I actually LIKE what I get to wear in a show. Usually, I have to ignore the pin-pricks of my own Sheila vanity and say to myself, "Now,what would the CHARACTER wear?" But in this case, Mary Agnes, a student at UCD in Dublin, trying to make an impression on her West-of-Ireland country parents, looks nice. I get to look nice.

-- I will miss the set. It is extraordinary. With the small budget that they had, the team created an entire world. It is a beautiful set. It does half my work for me. I walk around on it, looking at things, and it gives me pretty much everything I need. Beautiful. Evocative. The little blue and white china plates hanging on the walls, the knick-knack shelf with all of these beautiful little teapots on display ... the way they are lit give them a symbolic feel. They are not just tea pots. The wall paper is busy. Rust-tones. Patterns. A small painting of the Blessed Virgin surrounded by angels over the stove. A busy linoleum floor. Dark rust-red, pale yellow, green blocks of color. It LOOKS like a house in the west of Ireland. It really does. And all around the outskirts of the stage, pressing in on the interior, are white drifts of snow.

-- I will miss working with Aedin.

However: in my heart, I believe that meeting her is one of the primary reasons I have done this show. Like: things are meant to be. We have already begun talking about working together again.

My parents are coming down tonight to see the show. My sister Siobhan will be there as well. A couple of cousins. A couple of friends. My head is going to explode, trying to handle it all.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/03/2003 07:01:00 AM


People still think my blog is called "Sheila ASHTRAY". No no no! I suppose it would be clearer if I wrote it like this: Sheila A-stray.

It's older English, from another time. It goes along with the theme of a redheaded girl rambling through life, a-straying from the topic from time to time. It has nothing to do with ashtrays!!

Thank God, because all of the ashtrays have disappeared from New York bars and nightclubs in the last 48 hours.

**UPDATE**: just made the change to the title. Hypen added.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 06:35:00 PM

Wednesday, April 02, 2003  


I haven't been paying attention to the SARS story at all, as it has developed. But suddenly, in the last two days, I have started to tune into what is going on, and it is horrifying. Now ... I feel obsessed. Worried. Overwhelmingly worried.

Just clicked on NY Yoga Girl and was rather relieved to see that she feels the same way. She links to a terrifying piece in The Independent. Journalist Jeremy Laurance tries to track down this deadly disease.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 06:27:00 PM


This whole story about Geraldo Rivera squatting in the sand and showing us military movements (behavior which led him to be removed from Iraq) and the spin it is being given, is absurd.

A couple of things:

Rivera has been forced by Fox News to retreat to Kuwait. Rivera said, "I feel like I have been scolded." Well, Geraldo, that is because you are pretty much in touch with reality and you ARE being scolded. Your instincts are right on there, buddy!


The headline in The Daily Mirror about this whole thing was: "Fired by America for telling the truth".

Wait, wait, wait, WHAT? Jesus, these people have no shame. No better than tabloid journalism. The entire story makes me feel like I used to feel as a kid, traipsing through the woods behind my house, through the mud after a rainy day. We would lift up big rocks, especially after rain, and see all kinds of little gross bugs squirming around in the mud beneath. It gave me a nasty feeling. Like I wanted to wash my hands.

Geraldo Rivera was telling his television audience, by drawing a frigging diagram in the sand, "So ... here is where our troops are ... and here are where they are going ..."

As any RATIONAL person could understand, the army generals in charge did not like this. Any Iraqi with a satellite dish hidden in their backyard could watch Rivera telling EVERYONE exactly what we were up to, where we were going, when we would plan to be there, etc. That is recklessly irresponsible (and self-important) journalism. Geraldo always had a knack for making himself the centerpiece of every story. (Member Al Capone's vault?) So what happens? Geraldo Rivera is asked to leave Iraq. And rightly so. He is a threat to the security of the mission.

And how does The Daily Mirror choose to describe it? "Fired by America for telling the truth."

Truly. The mind BOGGLES.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 04:28:00 PM


Here's another heart-warmer. God willing, IT'S not doctored.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 04:19:00 PM


A pointed comment Lt. Col. Duke Deluca, who notes that the landmines surrounding Najaf, the city the coalition forces just liberated, were made in Italy:

"Europeans are antiwar, but they are pro-commerce."

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 03:35:00 PM


I don't know if you caught this story ... what with everything else going on: but I think it's important. Very important.

The doctoring of photos (even down to airbrushing out the lamppost, or whatever it is) is WRONG. That's all there is to it. I don't even want to discuss it any further. There's a whole book out about the doctoring-of photos during Stalin's regime. People around Stalin were being purged and executed so often that ... then they had to be taken out of happy group photos from the past. Stalin and his men wanted to control the past as well as the present and future. "Oh no, no, no. Trotsky can't be in the same picture as me. Trotsky is dead to me. The whole thing doesn't work if Trotsky ever had anything to do with it. Take him out of the photo." But y'know what, dude?? He was THERE. I hate to break it to you, but he was THERE. Anyway. I cannot state my position strongly enough. It is WRONG.

Here is what the LA Times had to say about it. The photographer was fired. GOOD.

(via Little Green Footballs ... thank you so much for pointing this out. I never would have known about it otherwise.)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:40:00 PM


Glenn Reynolds lists a string of posts and emails about this: referring to Pfc. Jessica Lynch as "Jessica", and, in Katie Couric's case: "Jessie".

Good. Good. I expect that the news anchors will alter their behavior.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:31:00 PM


I had noticed this myself: News correspondents refer to Pfc. Jessica Lynch as, simply, "Jessica". They would never ever do this if it were a male POW. It's like a doctor coming into the room and immediately calling you by your first name, assuming an intimacy with you, whereas you are expected to call him/her "Dr".

Man, some things never change. I hope the network news sit up and listen. Give this POW the respect she deserves. Pfc. Lynch is fine.

I'm in a pissy mood today. Postrel's observation pisses me off most of all.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:29:00 PM


The sight of this turns my stomach. I'm glad France is pissed at us. I don't want such despicable people on our side.

At least the Chirac government is finally acknowledging that it has an enormous problem on its hands. People are defacing war graves. Defacing the graves of THOSE WHO CAME TO BAIL YOUR DEFEATIST ASSES OUT OF TROUBLE.


  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:23:00 PM


Protesting for the sake of protesting:

Interesting analysis in the LA Weekly. (All the more powerful because the paper is, in general, anti-Bush. But man, they hit the nail right on the head when it comes to what is missing in the anti-war rhetoric -- or lack thereof.)

(via Clayton Cramer)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:20:00 PM


Just read it. Very good.

(via Instapundit)

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:15:00 PM


and perhaps for a very good reason. Steven den Beste has a very good essay up on his site on the coalition's Special Forces. He explains why there are some things that not only do we not need to know, but that we shouldn't know. Secrecy is crucial, in warfare.

The fact that something hasn't been publicized doesn't mean it didn't happen. The fact that we aren't seeing pictures of captured missiles on CNN doesn't mean none have been found. But even if we ultimately learn that there were no such missiles, the proper reaction is to heave a sigh of relief, not to criticize the military planners for wasting a mission on a wild goose chase.

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 02:00:00 PM


Some terrific photos at

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 01:46:00 PM


was shot. No blog-spot capabilities.

Yesterday was a big day, no?

  contact Sheila Link: 4/02/2003 01:22:00 PM

publishing appears to be down...

slowly but surely, i am re-thinking my choice of Blogspot...the move is becoming inevitable...

  contact Sheila Link: 4/01/2003 11:11:00 AM

Tuesday, April 01, 2003  


Stanley Crouch (who I LOVE) has a beautiful piece in the NY Daily News, about what, exactly, it feels like to be a New Yorker these days. He hits it right on the nose. For the most part, the anxiety he speaks of is subterranean, barely spoken of, rarely mentioned. New Yorkers, like everybody else on the planet who lives in a place where something awful has happened (an earthquake, a suicide bombing, a plane crash, whatever) move on, walk past the hole in the ground, say a prayer, make our remembrances, but continue on with life. We go out to dinner. We go to the movies. We laugh with friends. We smile at kids in the park. However, you never forget. You never ... forget. Ever. Not a day goes by when what once happened here doesn't cross your mind in some way or another. It is not something we are obsessing over, holding onto, being paranoid about, or melodramatic about. No. And screw YOU to those who say so.

It is basically that ... something happened here. Something big. We all saw it. Most of us lost people that day. Or at least knew people who were in those buildings on September 11, and who will never be the same again, because of what they experienced and what they saw. Nobody emerged from that day untouched.

And -- too -- and this is where the anxiety comes form -- we all are waiting.

Waiting for it to happen again.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/31/2003 05:17:00 PM

Monday, March 31, 2003  

Thank you.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/31/2003 04:18:00 PM


Well said. Very well said.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/31/2003 04:14:00 PM


is, as always, over at The Command Post.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/31/2003 04:09:00 PM

Almost no sleep last night. Slept over Aedin's, and we were up blabbing our heads off, and reading our writing to one another until 2 in the morning. It was a great night. Like the end of Casablanca: "the beginning of a beautiful friendship".

This is the last week of our show. A lot of press has come, but no reviews as of yet. So if the reviews come out NOW, it will do us no good. Too late! However: we still have had very respectable houses. And people are loving it.

I look forward to the end of the run with relief and also sadness.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/31/2003 03:19:00 PM

In this day and age...


  contact Sheila Link: 3/31/2003 12:56:00 PM


Off and on, I have been reading a Penguin compilation of "speeches of the 20th century". They are not labeled "great speeches", since there are many speeches in the book by Hitler, Stalin, Heydrich ... and someone I had never heard of before (sorry!): Chaim Rumkowski, whose "Give me your children" speech to the people in the Lodz ghetto, is, to my view, more terrifying than anything Hitler ever said. More on that later, perhaps.

Theodore Roosevelt made a speech during the laying of the cornerstone of the office building of the House of Representatives ceremony. It is a great speech, because it will never lose its relevance. It also is a wonderful speech to read at this present time. You will see why.

Teddy Roosevelt
Washington DC, April 14, 1906

In Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress you may recall the description of the Man with the Muck-rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck-rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck-rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.

In Pilgrim's Progress the Man with the Muck-rake is set forth as the example of him whose vision is fixed on carnal instead of on spiritual things. Yet he also typifies the man who in this life consistently refuses to see aught that is lofty, and fixes his eyes with solemn intentness only on that which is vile and debasing. Now, it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck-rake; and there are times and places where this service is the most needed of all the services that can be performed. But the man who never does anything else, who never thinks or speaks or writes save of his feats with the muck-rake, speedily becomes, not a help to society, not an incitement to good, but one of the most potent forces of evil.

There are, in the body politic, economic and social, many and grave evils, and there is urgent necessity for the sternest war upon them. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil man whether politician or business man, every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. I hail as a benefactor every writer or speaker, every man who, on the platform, or in book, magazine, or newspaper, with merciless severity makes such attack, provided always that he in his turn remembers that the attack is of use only if it is absolutely truthful. The liar is no whit better than the thief, and if his mendacity takes the form of slander, he may be worse than most thieves. It puts a premium upon knavery untruthfully to attack an honest man, or even with hysterical exaggeration to assail a bad man with untruth. An epidemic of indiscriminate assault upon character does not good, but very great harm. The soul of every scoundrel is gladdened whenever an honest man is assailed, or even with a scoundrel is untruthfully assailed ...

My plea is, not for immunity to but for the most unsparing exposure of the politician who betrays his trust, of the big business man who makes or spends his fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways. There should be a resolute effort to hunt every such man out of the position he has disgraced. Expose the crime, and hunt down the criminal; but remember that even in the case of crime, if it is attacked in sensational, lurid, and untruthful fashion, the attack may do more damage to the public mind than the crime itself. It is because I feel that there should be no rest in the endless war against the forces of evil that I ask that the war be conducted with sanity as well as with resolution. The men with the muck-rakes are often indispensable to the well-being of society; but only if they know when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward to the celestial crown above them, to the crown of worthy endeavor.

There are beautiful things above and around them, and if they gradually grow to feel that the whole world is nothing but muck, their power of usefulness is gone. If the whole picture is painted black there remains no hue whereby to single out the rascals for distinction from their fellows. Such painting finally induces a kind of moral color-blindness; and people affected by it come to the conclusion that no man is really black, and no man is really white, but they are all grey. In other words, they neither believe in the truth of the attack, nor in the honesty of the man who is attacked; they grow as suspicious of the accusation as of the offense; it becomes well-nigh hopeless to stir them either to wrath against wrong-doing or to enthusiasm for what is right; and such a mental attitude in the public gives hope to every knave, and is the despair of honest men.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/30/2003 11:20:00 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2003  


I suppose these would not be funny to someone filled with anger about this "immoral" war, but here are some suggestions for anti-war protest signs, from Jim Treacher. My favorite one is the top one:


  contact Sheila Link: 3/30/2003 11:08:00 AM


Another heartfelt essay by Carol Richards, a person who protested the Vietnam War, but who will not protest this one. An interesting analysis of why she has had "a change of heart." She discusses the main reason the protests exploded throughout the land during the 1960s: the draft. People did not want to be shipped off to war, and so screamed as loud as they could. There is nothing like the instinct of self-preservation to force people to make themselves heard. Well, there is no draft today. Our forces in Iraq are volunteers.

Richards writes:

This war I support.

Why? First, there's the Hitler/Pol Pot metaphor. One of the clearest lessons of the 20th century was that the evil propounded by monsters like them is of a character that is beyond the imagination. Good people just can't believe it's going on. It was only after it was too late that the world could grasp the enormity of the Holocaust or of the killing fields of Cambodia. Is Saddam Hussein a monster of that caliber? We know he gassed his own citizens, but we won't know the extent of his evil until he's ousted. It is better to do it now than wait until it is too late.

My sentiments exactly.

(via Instapundit)

  contact Sheila Link: 3/30/2003 11:01:00 AM


Great pictures of a "pro-America" rally in San Francisco, of all places. Good stuff.

  contact Sheila Link: 3/30/2003 10:55:00 AM


Woke up early this morning to hear the rain beating against my window. The light pouring through my kitchen window is grey. The sky is white. I hear wind, rain. I also hear, faintly, through the walls, the conversations of the Chinese family who live next door. Coffee is brewing. I have fleece socks on. I also have a long day ahead of me, a long day where I have nothing in my schedule. This, to me, is heaven. Sheila without "down time" is no good to anybody. And a RAINY day of down time ... now that is something to be thankful for.

My thoughts today are with Mike, Joe, Maria, Tom, Cashel ...

  contact Sheila Link: 3/30/2003 10:49:00 AM

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