President Obama's address at the Summit of the Americas. One familiar with the United States' long and painful relationship with Latin America cannot help but to take heart with the following words:
"All of us must now renew the common stake that we have in one another. I know that promises of partnership have gone unfulfilled in the past, and that trust has to be earned over time. While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. (Applause.)
There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I'm here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration. (Applause.)
To move forward, we cannot let ourselves be prisoners of past disagreements. I am very grateful that President Ortega -- (applause) -- I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old. (Laughter.)
Too often, an opportunity to build a fresh partnership of the Americas has been undermined by stale debates. And we've heard all these arguments before, these debates that would have us make a false choice between rigid, state-run economies or unbridled and unregulated capitalism; between blame for right-wing paramilitaries or left-wing insurgents; between sticking to inflexible policies with regard to Cuba or denying the full human rights that are owed to the Cuban people.
I didn't come here to debate the past -- I came here to deal with the future. (Applause.) I believe, as some of our previous speakers have stated, that we must learn from history, but we can't be trapped by it."
President Obama's Address on Cuba at the Summit of the Americas.
Today I broke from my self-imposed exile of home to scurry forth to the Naro Theater across the street from me to see the movie Che (directed by Steven Soderbergh). One word can sum up the experience: OMFG (ok..so maybe not a word, but who cares); it was absolutely brilliant!BeniciodelToro's portrayal of Che alone is worth the price of admission (not to mention the four hours and a bit of sitting- Parts 1 and 2 back to back- talk about butt fatigue-thankfully a souvenir Che movie pamphlet was provided to commemorate the experience). Equally stellar is Santiago Cabrera's portrayal of CamiloCienfuegos in Part 1, both physically and in character portrayal. Camilo was one of the stand-out figures from Anderson's Che biography and it was really nice to see such an portrayal on screen.
At times the movie did get a little tedious. After all, how many times can one watch a rag-tag band of guerrillas stalk about in the jungle: lush tropical foliage of Cuba: check and check again; the more arid foliage of Bolivia: check and check again. But this minor drawback is more than offset by the powerful acting by the principle characters.
Each of the two parts were good in their own way. Part 1 deals with the Cuban Revolution and is generally the better of the two in terms of pacing and overall presentation. Those not familiar with Che and his writings would find this the more accessible of the two (though honestly I think for the average American moviegoer, the films are generally inaccessible). That being said, I preferred Part 2, which dealt with Che's failed Bolivian campaign and was based on his Bolivian Diary. I read this diary late last year and was impressed with Soderbergh's ability to capture and portray the feelings of hope and then despair one gets from reading of the failed expedition in Che's own words.
So at any rate, Che was certainly worth the afternoon spent in the theater and it's equally certain that it will be one of the rare additions to my collection of DVDs. Four stars out of four.
Having finished Don Quixote, I moved on last night to Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America which I picked up from Barnes and Noble earlier this year and on which I was eager to get started. Whilst reading the news just now I ran across this from an AP story about the Summit of the Americas (emphasis added):
"As the first full day of meetings began on the two-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Obama exchanged handshakes and pats on the back with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who once likened President George W. Bush to the devil. In front of photographers, Chavez gave Obama a copy of "The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," a book by Eduardo Galeano, which chronicles U.S. and European economic and political interference in the region."
El Presidente Chavez must have somehow obtained a copy of my reading list. :)
"Should be the envy of the lunchroom tomorrow" -me, April 12, 2009
Less prophetic words have seldom been spoken. As it turned out, the presumed bout with allergies with which I've been condending the last couple of days was actually a cold and one severe enough to force the expenditure of a sick day from the office. Given the prevailing climate at work, I didn't mind not being there for once.
So anyway...the rest today has been nice, as has been the time to get some reading done. Also in a period of Benadryl-free clarity I finished up and filed my taxes. At the moment, it's a cup of coffee slowly sipped, after which I'll get back to the primary purpose of the day: rest.
Thai-style roast pork with coconut mushroom sauce over garlic/ginger rice. All topped with a fresh salsa made from green onions, cilantro, thai chilis, and a variety of spices in perfect proportion. Should be the envy of the lunchroom tomorrow. :P
It's been rather the eventful week. First of all, my grandmother shuffled off this mortal coil on Tuesday, which set off the requisite chain of events that culminated with visitation on Friday and funeral yesterday. Her death was expected, as she had been in declining health for quite some time. When I last saw her Tuesday a week ago she was incredibly tired and ready to go. She was at peace with the course of nature, which, in turn, served as a balm of sorts for the family.
Meeting with the extended family and old friends over the last few days was a bit of an adventure in its own way. Most of these people I had not seen for probably 15 to 20 years, so polite conversation (those generic things one talks about with total strangers) was amiable, but admittedly awkward given the fact that I knew these people at one time, but now...well, not so much. Most of my cousins are married now with children of their own, but their collective world view was of the small town sort that for the most part doesn't extend beyond the boundaries of their hometown, immediate family, and church, safe from the "other," the unknown that occurs beyond, which, once encountered and understood, necessitates the casting off of old ways and the adoption of a more liberating world view.
The funeral yesterday was well done save for the memorial service, which started out as one (a memorial service), but somehow ended up as this obnoxious fire and brimstone sermon, an inappropriate attempt by the pastor to win souls by going after sorrowful hearts. The tone of the sermon earned rounds of "amens" from those inclined towards such nonsense, and rather the amount of indignant eye rolling from the few (myself and my sister included) whose broader view of life allows them to see such nonsense for what it really is.
So in some ways, the events of the last few days amounted to what could correctly be considered culture shock. To return home and discover strangers in the place of long-lost relatives and old acquaintences was something for which I had not sufficiently prepared myself. Certainly it was I who had changed, and not them. At times I felt more out of place there than when I was in Bangkok a number of years ago, where I spoke not the language and the culture was prevailingly alien to me.
But there's an interesting observation in all of this. My grandmother was largely responsible for who I was to become and am today. Some of my earliest and fondest memories of her are from my single digit years, those biweekly summer excursions to the library in her ancient green Dodge Dart where she, my sister, and I would comb the shelves for interesting books to eagerly devour over the coming weeks. She instilled in us at an early age her passion for reading, thirst for knowledge and, by extenstion, the inevitable consequence of questioning things, of seeking out a world larger than the one into which we were born. Whether or not this consequence was intended...well, that's difficult to say with any degree of certainty. She was born in 1920 and was certainly a product of her era. Yet with her love of reading, I cannot help but to think that perhaps there was a certain twinkle in her eye as we puttered home from the library so long ago, with my sister and I prioritizing our respective stacks of books or already quietly at work on them as broad fields of corn or peanuts passed slowly by.
Woman calls 911 over lack of shrimp in fried rice 04/07/2009 5:08:47 PM
A woman called 911 to report she didn't get as much shrimp as she wanted in her fried rice at a Fort Worth-area restaurant. Police on Tuesday released the taped emergency call, in which the customer is heard telling the dispatcher, "to get a police officer up here, what has to happen?" The customer also said: "He didn't even put extra shrimp in there." The upset customer was gone when an officer arrived Monday afternoon. Restaurant workers said the woman had been denied a refund after leaving with her order, then returning to complain. Cook June Lee said there was nothing wrong with the meal, and that "some customers are happy. Some are not." ___ Information from Fort Worth Star-Telegram & KDFW-TV: http://www.star-telegram.com & http://www.myfoxdfw.com
Odd....usually they just call the health department.
So once again tonight I opted for fish tacos, but with a different and much lighter presentation, perfect for a light summer meal.
The broiled, seasoned fish I topped with roasted red and green bell peppers and onions stuffed into a warm, white corn tortilla and served with a side of fresh pico de gallo (loaded with diced jalepenos and cilantro) and accompanied by lime wedges. The pico de gallo is served in a shot glass, which is about the right amount for two tacos (and will be suitably apt for a special fish marinade I'll use when making this dish again).
The cooking endeavour tonight took me south of the border (no passport required). Using what I had on hand here, I concocted a blackened fish taco served over a bed of black bean, roasted jalepeno, and lime salsa along with sides of fresh pico de gallo (lots and lots of cilantro added) and tortillas with an uber secret dip. The dip and tortillas would normally be served as an appetizer, but as I was cooking for one, I really didn't care too much about staggering the courses.