Monday, September 29, 2008

Preparations on the Blicky Homestead for Horrific Financial Chaos and the Destruction of Life as We Know It.

No doubt some were shocked and caught unawares by the news emanating from Wall Street this afternoon. I for one was prepared. We have been studying about subsistence living techniques this whole year and here are our recommendations:
  • Start building a Hooverville in your backyard now because all your neighbors who drive Hummers and live in McMansions will be hobos soon.
  • Start an organic garden like we did and by next year you too might have two zucchinis and a handful of cherry tomatoes to get you through the winter (or to feed to the hobos).
  • Don't throw away those old socks! The thread can be reused as a holder for your iPhone. In a pinch you can also boil them for two days and mix it with lard to feed the kids.
  • Learn how to forage! A nourishing meal is as easy to find as a golden parachute on Wall Street if you just know where to look. Perhaps there is a blackberry bush in the woods behind your house. Maybe your neighbor stepped out and left a pie cooling on the window sill. Some mushrooms are very nutritious and others will kill you in minutes.
  • Think of ways to earn extra money. Maybe your seven-year-old can pass for at least eleven and the day laborers down the road don't split hairs. Good with numbers? Maybe you could get a job counting the money filling the swimming pools of corporate executives.

Addendum to Chihuly Review: I Guess Dale Fights Crime in His Spare Time

Thank Bill, for the link. The Seattle contingent of the Blicky clowder emailed this low-budget defunct local comedy show skit about Chihuly.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Curious George and the Precious Breakable Chihuly Masterpieces

I’ll admit it, when I first thought about visiting the Dale Chihuly show at RISD all I could envision was my two-year-old tearing through the gallery space while I followed, horror-stricken. It played out like one of those Curious George stories where he’s brought about some sort of hideous and expensive devastation and the whole town (conveniently sorted by their job titles) ends up chasing after him. Well, we recently attended a media preview of the show with that question in mind. Is it possible to enjoy these exquisite and highly fragile masterpieces with children in tow? In a nutshell; this is pure magic and none of us within driving distance of Providence, RI should miss this opportunity to enjoy great art.

The first thing that awaits you is the Persian Chandelier. Like most of these works, it was created specifically for the RISD venue. You move beneath a profusion of multihued glass forms illuminated meticulously to allow gentle, colored light to filter onto the wall. An intriguing aspect of his work is how Chihuly succeeds in defying the properties of his medium. The liveliness of the color and form suggests movement and growth, which we usually don’t associate with glass. Also, the scale of the installation merges the art with the viewer’s physical space.

Chihuly’s drawings form a grid across the next wall. As with the glass objects, the artist uses heat, color and a bit of serendipity to create these lively compositions. They seem almost to have formed themselves. He uses paintbrushes, brooms and squirt bottles to apply the paint and there is an amazing sense of joy and vigorous energy to them. I might ask my girls how they think the artist feels as he’s making these works. I know they’ll be thrilled to learn that his shoes are covered with paint.

Beyond the drawings to your left is the Mille Fiori installation. The gallery is built in a circular form around a garden of swirling and rounded shapes. The darker palette lends a quieter, meditative feeling to the work. Chihuly often says that he’s never met a color he doesn’t like, and each one of the installations at RISD invokes a slightly different mood as a result of this variety. I’m curious to hear how my kids might respond to each color palette and how they choose to describe them.

The glowing lavender spires emerging from birch tree trunks in Chihuly’s Neodymium Reeds, 2008 calls to mind the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest. The installation is informed by our complex and varied American landscape tradition and it pushes the boundaries of that genre. Neodymium Reeds, with its formal, balanced composition expresses a reverential feeling of arcadia and creates a playful dialogue with many of the older, more traditional pieces in the RISD Museum’s collection such as a Thomas Cole or Martin Heade. A fun activity might be to ask kids to compare it with one of the Museum’s 18th- or 19th-century landscapes.

The last images in the show are three large-scale baskets -- again masterfully illuminated and displayed on dark steel slabs. Inspired by Northwest Coast Indian baskets, these works are astounding technical achievements. The final shape really allows us to envision the way they were created; changing and bending as they responded to the heat of the furnace and the centrifugal force manipulated by the artist. The result is a wonderfully organic and vibrant tour de force of glass and light. They show Chihuly’s unique willingness to allow his pieces to create themselves.

The Rhode Island School of Design will present the Grand Opening of the new Chace Center on Saturday, Semptember 27. There will be a free day of activities for the public from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Click here for a schedule of events.

So here are my tips for bringing kids:

  • After Saturday, the show requires advance purchase of tickets. Here’s the link
  • Take the time to prepare little monkeys that they are about to see something very special and that it will fun to look together.
  • Hold hands with little ones at all times.
  • The space is laid out beautifully, so that there are no surprises -- no towering glass columns around a corner that you can’t see ahead of time.
  • Contemporary art is a wonderful treat for young ones and it enriches your own enjoyment of the experience. Ask a lot of questions and follow-up questions.
  • Get down to their eye level when it’s comfortable for you. If they feel engaged and acknowledged they will wonderful participants in the experience.
  • Cater to their inner Curious George and your own. Do they like science? You can talk about the way light behaves or how heat changes things. Mythology more your thing? They could learn about Hephaestus or Vulcan.
  • Don’t expect too much of little monkeys. Unless children are older, it’s usually easiest to keep museum visits short and frequent. It ensures their full attention, plus it gives them time to process what they’ve seen. There is a wealth of other exhibits to come back and enjoy.
Photo credits:
Dale Chihuly, Persian Chandelier, 2008, Chihuly at RISD, Providence, RI, Photography by Erik Gould
Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Drawings, 2008, Chihuly at RISD, Providence, RI, Photography by Erik Gould
Dale Chihuly, Mille Fiori, 2008, 7 x 231/2 x 81/2, Chihuly at RISD, Providence, RI, Photography by Erik Gould
Dale Chihuly, Neodymium Reeds, 2008, Chihuly at RISD, Providence, RI, Photography by Erik Gould

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The War on Money

I'm finally beginning to realize how many scary things there are out there that I need conservative republicans to protect me from. Thank God Rush Limbaugh is out there hefting himself atop dirty bombs and Sean Hannity is personally shielding my family from terrorist air attacks as we speak. Now we must add another element to the axis of fear: money.

Yes, as Bush outlined in his speech on Wednesday flanked by an unidentified economic advisor, we are under attack by money and we have to declare war. "Our entire economy is in danger." The only way we can avoid "a long and painful recession" is to declare war. Wall Street executives, bakers and high level government officials will designate money as an enemy combatant and hold it indefinitely, thus insuring the safety of the American people. In fact, if you pay us 700 billion dollars we'll keep you safe from money for as long as you want us to. 

The 700 billion will go into creating a new governmental department which will issue a color coded warning whenever the money danger gets too high. If it's on blue, there is no danger of us seeing money anytime soon. When it moves to white, we can still go about our daily business, but we should stock up. If it ever moves to red then we need to call the kids home from school and just start writing checks.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is it the Future Yet? / The Yummiest Way to Squish Healthy Food Together and Live Until I'm 100.

OK, so lately I'm thinking the whole future thing must be a scam. I feel personally affronted that they haven't invented flying cars yet. There's no time travel or Esperanto-speaking futurist Utopia. There isn't even a green energy monorail mass transit system in our neighborhood and I can't say "Earl Grey...Hot" to the wall in a British accent and get tea (shout out to my nerd peeps). Sometime though I think of little things I can do that would have seemed completely exotic to me growing up in the 70s:

I can go onto Skype and talk to my cousin in Africa or my sister in Seattle. That's kind of how I envisioned all our phones to be and I'm grateful to be able to do it. Although when I was little I didn't imagine that if you push the wrong button, it makes lots of foreign men text dirty things to you.

They do have robots, but I just stopped wanting one and also none of them nurture a deep desire to become human.

They have really future-ie conveyer belts in the Amsterdam airport and there's a cool robot sounding lady who keeps intoning, "Mind your step!"

Instead of a plastic phonograph that you have to balance a toy chicken on the needle of so your K-Tel Dy-no-mite and Joni Mitchell records wouldn't skip, we now have access to any music we fancy at the click of a mouse thanks to the wonders of iTunes.

My kids make beeping noises instead of stamping stuff when they play library.

I don't have to memorize anything anymore. I make myself commit some poetry to memory because it's a gift to put lovely things in there if you have to wait in line at the bank for an hour (because they haven't invented robot bank tellers yet), but usually I can just look stuff up online. If you haven't met me yet please try to meet me when I'm near a computer because you'll think I'm smarter. If I'm far away from the computer I feel as sad as Napoleon must have felt after losing to the Prussians in the Battle of Wavre on Jone 18th and 19th, 1815. 

I guess we'll just have to keep waiting for more cool stuff to happen. We can either cryogenically freeze our heads and reemerge in a post-apocalyptic utopia, or we can be really really healthy and live a great long life. Here's the yummyiest way to squish healthy stuff together that I've found in a long while. It's fun to play with the proportions on this one according to your tastes and what you have in the house:

Middle Eastern Spinach Lentil Dish (yummy with aforementioned  homemade yogurt)
This is modified from this great recipe I found.

* Basil, 1 cup leaves 
* Parsley, 1 cup leaves
* Peppermint, 0.5 cup leaves 
* Pepper, black, 0.5 tbsp
* Salt, 1 dash
* Ginger Root, grated or finely chopped, 3 tsp
* Lentils, or about a third of a package depending on the proportions you like
* Vegetable Broth, 1 cup
* Garlic, 1 clove, minced
* Chili powder, 0.5 tsp
* Turmeric, ground, 0.5 tsp
* Cumin powder, 0.5 tsp
* Onions, 2 small, chopped
* Olive Oil, 3 tbsp
* Spinach, frozen, 2 package (10 oz)
* Lime Juice, 0.5 lime yields
* Raisins, 0.75 cup (not packed)


Wash and chop the herbs, save a few mint leaves. Thaw the spinach.
Bring the lentils to a boil in the vegetable broth with the ginger. Cook just a little until they're al dente and save the liquid
Mince the garlic and mix with chili powder, turmeric, cumin and remaining pepper and salt. Chop the onions and fry them in the oil together with the spice and garlic mixture. Add the lentils with the broth and continue to cook until they are soft. 
Add the thawed spinach and bring back to a boil. 
Toss in the chopped herbs, the lime juice and the raisins. Decorate with a few mint leaves.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Eve Ensler Weighs in on Polar Bears, Palin and Political Nightmares

Eve Ensler, the American playwright, performer, feminist and activist best known for writing 'The Vagina Monologues' and founding V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, wrote the following about Sarah Palin.

Drill, Drill, Drill
 I am having Sarah Palin nightmares. I dreamt last night that she was a member of a club where they rode snowmobiles and wore the claws of drowned and starved polar bears around their necks. I have a particular thing for Polar Bears. Maybe it's their snowy whiteness or their bigness or the fact that they live in the arctic or that I have never seen one in person or touched one. Maybe it is the fact that they live so comfortably on ice. Whatever it is, I need the polar bears.
I don't like raging at women. I am a Feminist and have spent my life trying to build community, help empower women and stop violence against them. It is hard to write about Sarah Palin. This is why the Sarah Palin choice was all the more insidious and cynical. The people who made this choice count on the goodness and solidarity of Feminists.
 But everything Sarah Palin believes in and practices is antithetical to Feminism which for me is part of one story -- connected to saving the earth, ending racism, empowering women, giving young girls options, opening our minds, deepening tolerance, and ending violence and war.
I believe that the McCain/Palin ticket is one of the most dangerous choices of my lifetime, and should this country chose those candidates the fall-out may be so great, the destruction so vast in so many areas that America may never recover. But what is equally disturbing is the impact that duo would have on the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is not a joke. In my lifetime I have seen the clownish, the inept, the bizarre be elected to the presidency with regularity.
Sarah Palin does not believe in evolution. I take this as a metaphor. In her world and the world of Fundamentalists nothing changes or gets better or evolves. She does not believe in global warming. The melting of the arctic, the storms that are destroying our cities, the pollution and rise of cancers, are all part of God's plan. She is fighting to take the polar bears off the endangered species list. The earth, in Palin's view, is here to be taken and plundered. The wolves and the bears are here to be shot and plundered. The oil is here t o be taken and plundered. Iraq is here to be taken and plundered. As she said herself of the Iraqi war, 'It was a task from God.'

Sarah Palin does not believe in abortion. She does not believe women who are raped and incested and ripped open against their will should have a right to determine whether they have their rapist's baby or not.
She obviously does not believe in sex education or birth control. I imagine her daughter was practicing abstinence and we know how many babies that makes.
Sarah Palin does not much believe in thinking. From what I gather she has tried to ban books from the library, has a tendency to dispense with people who think independently. She cannot tolerate an environment of ambiguity and difference. This is a woman who could and might very well be the next president of the United States. She would govern one of the most diverse populations on the earth.
Sarah believes in guns. She has her own custom Austrian hunting rifle. She has been known to kill 40 caribou at a clip. She has shot hundreds of wolves from the air.
Sarah believes in God. That is of course her right, her private right. But when God and Guns come together in the public sector, when war is declared in God's name, when the rights of women are denied in his name, that is the end of separation of church and state and the undoing of everything America has ever tried to be.
I write to my sisters. I write because I believe we hold this election in our hands. This vote is a vote that will determine the future not just of the U.S., but of the planet. It will determine whether we create policies to save the earth or make it forever uninhabitable for humans. It will determine whether we move towards dialogue and diplomacy in the world or whether we escalate violence through invasion, undermining and attack. It will determine whether we go for oil, strip mining, coal burning or invest our money in alternatives that will free us from dependency and destruction. It will determine if money gets spent on education and healthcare or whether we build more and more methods of killing. It will determine whether America is a free open tolerant society or a closed place of fear, fundamentalism and aggression.
If the Polar Bears don't move you to go and do everything in your power to get Obama elected then consider the chant that filled the hall after Palin spoke at the RNC, 'Drill Drill Drill.' I think of teeth when I think of drills. I think of rape. I think of destruction. I think of domination. I think of military exercises that force mindless repetition, emptying the brain of analysis, doubt, ambiguity or dissent. I think of pain.
Do we want a future of drilling? More holes in the ozone, in the floor of the sea, more holes in our thinking, in the trust between nations and peoples, more holes in the fabric of this precious thing we call life?
 Eve Ensler
 September 5, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hot, Flat and Crowded

Pulitzer prize winning New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman did a powerful interview the other day with Terry Gross  on Fresh Air where he talks about our country's energy policy in a global context and how specifically the oil companies are really driving the directions this country takes. He's written a new book called Hot, Flat and Crowded; Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America. What struck me the most were his descriptions of congress repeatedly voting against legislation that would enable the US to become more cutting edge with respect to renewable energy. This country's premier solar company, First Solar in Toledo Ohio moved it's factory to East Germany after their own senator Voinavich voted against extending the Renewable Energy Tax Credit because the Germans were offering tax credits and markets for renewable energy, thus depriving his constituency of badly needed jobs. The way he describes our government sounds less like a constitutional democracy and more like an oligarchy comprised of the country's biggest businesses and industry lobbyists. 

After hearing the words "drill, baby, drill" resound through the Republican Convention, the Blicky staff has decided to devote the next few weeks to working for the Obama campaign. Blicky himself will be convalescing in an undisclosed location during the remainder of the campaign season.

He addresses environmental responsibility on the individual level too. I loved how he phrases it: "Be a work in progress. None of us are perfect."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Karen Walker to Palin: "Go get your own shtick, and honey, we've talked about this outfit."

OK , is it just me or is Palin trying to channel Karen Walker from Will and Grace (not to be confused with Megan Mullally who is way cool, funny and probably the only thing she has in common with her character is a good rack)?

Let's look at Karen's bio: hmmmm
  • Might have made a pact with the devil, check
  • Was Ronald Reagan's mistress, umm... check
  • She believes that the homeless are a cult, not unlike the moonies, definite check
  • Aerosmith fan, check?
  • May or may not be responsible for the comatose state of Sunny VonBulow, check
Here's a sampling of what we have to look forward to if the marketing ploy works and we get four more years of republican control. We're in the White House. It's winter 2009:

Enter John McCain
Palin: Hi Poodle.
McCain: Who's your daddy?
Palin: You are! So honey, what's going on, what's happening, what's this all about?
McCain: Well gas prices are up to 4.00 a gallon the dollar is plummeting, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are escalating and I can't even talk about Iran or Pakistan. 
Palin: (laughs and hands him her credit card) Oh honey, well here, charge yourself a little happy.
McCain: You're my best friend. Let's touch tummies!
Palin: Oh my lord, you are a complete freak. (lifts up her shirt and touches tummies) Whoa! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey! This is a place of business! We're trying to get some work done in here and I don't need you just... OK I'm saying it and I don't even buy it! (starts laughing)
Enter Karl Rove: The contract with the NRA is ready for your signature.
Palin: Is that you Cook, Driver? Oh, Bartender? Martini, honey, and don't waste any space with those olives.
McCain: I don't know Sarah, it's just that since we got in I feel like there's something missing in my life. I just wanted to serve, but now I feel like, you know, like my soul's on empty.
Palin: You can go alotta years on empty, honey. Trust me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama, I mean Alaska

Oops, Blicky took one for the team during the Republican National Convention to demonstrate his deep commitment to firearms, but is now recovering nicely and is considered a war hero just like Bush or Harry Whittington.

Summary of Palin's speech for those of you who missed it.
  • My fellow republicans and racist independents, my down-home-iness is so damn cute that you will love me, 
  • I'm going to put the class back into class warfare, 
  • I'm so folksy that you will laugh like crazy while you get poorer and the big businesses enjoy record profits,
  • We will make you cry with the beauty of our encomiums to war while our young men continue to die and Haliburton continues to profit.
  • I'm proud of America no matter what we do because we're always right.... right, right, right, right -- well maybe not slavery and Japanese Internment camps -- but we rocked the house at Abu Graib. U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A! 
I've got a really blicky feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Monday, September 1, 2008

How Sweet And Lovely Dost Thou Make The Shame

Our poor garden started out so well! In June we felt so optimistic about our first serious attempt at organic food growing. Now I just have to admit that our first effort was truly blicky. The squash plants still dutifully churn out respectable offerings, but seem to have been afflicted with powdery mildew. I looked it up online and apparently a mixture of water, baking soda and a drop of dish liquid works best. I think my squash and pumpkins were too far along for the remedy to work however. Next year I'll just resolve to water in the morning and plant more sparsely. My poor broccoli plants were besieged by blicky worms that I had to pick off by hand in July. Sadly, they had completely gorged on the leaves before taking their leave.

It has been a great year of purple and green beans that the kittens have really gobbled up. The zukes and cukes have done beautifully despite being blighted and undignified. I should be ashamed of my tomatoes. By the time I figured out how to stake them they had to be traumatized and squished into the cone shaped wire things. Even then I was too stupid to realized they are supposed to be put in like ice cream cones and half of them toppled over. They look like a tomato patch and if plants could whimper accusingly, these most certainly would.

In short, as many a adequately guilt-ridden hardy New Englander will tell you, my garden is a measure of my moral character and I, apparently, am not faring well.

Speaking of moral character, I am in no way drawing any parallels between my beautiful, blighted plants and any political figure.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 95: How Sweet And Lovely Dost Thou Make The Shame

How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame 
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose, 
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name! 
O! in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose. 
That tongue that tells the story of thy days, 
Making lascivious comments on thy sport, 
Cannot dispraise, but in a kind of praise; 
Naming thy name blesses an ill report. 
O! what a mansion have those vices got 
Which for their habitation chose out thee, 
Where beauty's veil doth cover every blot 
And all things turns to fair that eyes can see! 
Take heed, dear heart, of this large privilege; 
The hardest knife ill-used doth lose his edge.