Thursday, June 16, 2005

the timing of things

isn't the world wacky? the way things work out sometimes takes a measure or two of a humor i cannot find even when i scour deep within. so i found this image that i wanted to share with you all that details a secret someone has. it seems like such a hard secret to keep and try to be authentic with people about.

this week, i learned a friend who is very young will be conceiving a child and that my young cousin who wants to conceive a child may never be able to. this kind of timing almost requires the sound of drumsticks doing a "baddum-ch" beat afterwards, cueing the punchline. but there's not much here to find funny. i could choose to be optimistic and see that the child will be born into this world, but on the opposite side i see that this friend will never have a "twenties" experience. i could see that if my cousin's only remaining ovary has to be taken out, it will stop the cancer from ever coming back, but then i look at her and her husband and would very much enjoy seeing what their x's and y's would bring about in the shape of a little person.

kooky world. please pray for my cousin that the growth found in her ovary is not cancerous- that it hasn't returned, that the ovary might be salvaged, that she might live to the ripe and feisty age of 87... and pray for my friend as she walks in this new decision to become a young mother- something my first roommate in college decided also to do. and maybe even for this woman that she might find people she can come clean with about her lack of faith and that they wouldn't judge her but they would listen and allow her to start being able to be herself and be loved as such, since the God she doesn't believe in still loves her and knows her intimately.

Friday, June 10, 2005

thanks mr. miyagi

so my blog went MIA for a few days. thanks for your comments and questions as to its disappearance, of which my favorite was "did your blog decide to go on holiday at a spa?" nice. apparently i somehow deleted most of my html code and thus the black screen. so now just boring screen with text. but i will be feverish about trying to add in some links and images and stuff sooner or later...

earlier this week i tackled painting my new room in my new house. it truly is the color of the pacific ocean from my panoramic window, in the apartment i am moving out of. but it took like 10 hours to prep and paint- who knew painting was such an involved activity? for the most part i used a roller, while listening to pete yorn, patty griffin, toad the wet sprocket and so on. but then for the panel next to the door, the roller would have been too big. so i picked up the paintbrush just looking at it and wondering the best way to paint without creating too much texture. and then i remembered, from the deep recesses of my brain in "Karate Kid" where Mr. Miyagi has Daniel-san paint the fence with methodic up and down movements. it's great that movies from the 80's can be so educational even now! (perhaps my next blog will be what i learned from "long duck dong" in "sixteen candles").

so thanks to all of you who have helped me move my things to a new place. you each made this such an easy experience so far and i am very grateful for each of you.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

a thought on moving

"when you live on your own for a long time, however, your personality changes because you go so much into yourself you lose the ability to be social, to understand what is and isn't normal behavior. there is an entire world inside yourself, and if you let yourself, you can get so deep inside it you will forget the way to the surface."

~ donald miller

i'm moving next week- though things have become rather complicated about its execution. the quote above really describes well some thoughts i have on living situations at present. as an only child, it's fairly easy for me to consider living alone. i have always been fairly adept at keeping myself amused easily or occupied without the need of company. but as an extrovert, i am very aware as my friend and former roommate olga can agree that when given in to long bouts of "aloneness" it's an invitation for my melancholic side to take the helm and steer. but here's the catch: long bouts of "aloneness" can be the catalyst to really thought out writing and evocative poetry. perhaps it's sadistic, but that's a great side effect...

i think i will always be fascinated with the inner workings of myself- call that self-centered but i'm equally fascinated with your inner workings- what makes you tick; what is changing over time; who are you now versus who you were six months ago; how God is shaping you; how He is molding me. it's a trite saying but people do make some of the most interesting stories, myself included. so when don talks about "there is an entire world inside" and the notion of letting self submerge, it can be intoxicating to internalize and analyze and then overanalyze. but it can be dangerous, much like staying underwater too long. you and i only have so much breath.
so all this to say, one of the reasons i am moving is a desire to cultivate a greater sense of hospitality in my life and the lives of friends and colleagues. but on the other hand, i am moving for a room of my own- a quiet space to write poems and develop my craft further. so again in this chapter on being alone by don miller, i am reminded that we need each other and as importantly need to share our story with each other. we are renewed in this.

chicago restaurant review: VTK


since i'm in chicago for a few days, i thought i would keep you posted on the good eats to be had in this city i fancy.

VTK stands for Vong's Thai Kitchen, the Chicago restaurant of renowned chef Jean- George Vongerichten, most known for his restaurant, Jean-George in New York City. In January, we partnered up with VTK to celebrate Thai New Year and National Hot Tea Month. A lot of work was put into some events and I really wanted to meet my counterpart at VTK who has been a joy to work with.

The outside of the restaurant feels very Asian, but in contrast to the sleek indoor decor, it's very spartan and feels like a hole in the wall on its facade. Dark wood and terracotta colored walls with bamboo accents make guests feel like they are indulging in a special ritual or secret locale. Though the crowds of people definitely indicate VTK is no secret.

Their menu had some very interesting choices but instead of venturing out into some of their more obscure dishes, I decided to ask the server, Patrick for his suggestions. The meal began with an amuse bouche of a shredded cabbage salad with a citrus finish. I felt very VIP when they brought over an appetizer on the house of tea smoked duck with lotus buns and hoisin sauce. the duck was smoked in our lapsang souchong black tea, which is a chinese black tea smoked over fir tree root. it has a very interesting taste profile with a nose strong like a cigar, but a taste that's smooth. lapsang souchong is a great tea in which to "smoke" poultry or fish. the combination of the sweet plum sauce combined with tender duck medallions, lightly smoked, shavings of scallions and warm, fresh, mildly sweet lotus buns. a tasty way to begin a meal. but of course, i had to save room for the main course, but sipped on a lemongrass soda.

patrick said their curry is very popular specifically the panang curry, which at first sounded kind of trite to me, since i live downstairs from my friend p-yi's thai food restaurant and i can order green or panang curry whenever i like. but he did say it was one of the most popular selections, so i ordered the panang curry with halibut. the dish had a spicier profile to it than i had remembered. usually this curry is slightly sweeter. the texture was rich and thick with peanuts grinded in. the presentation was impressive with a large round bowl and small mound of jasmine rice, the halibut filet positioned over the rice, a pale peach sauce with flecks of red pepper and vivid green beans. i enjoyed the dish, though i could not finish it.

dessert occurred MUCH later in my hotel room. i have a sweet tooth and a weakness for the word "valhrona" anytime i see it listed on a menu. so it was no surprise that dessert consisted of warm valhrona chocolate cake with coconut sorbet. still great and gooey in the middle hours later (with help from the mini fridge in my room). i can only imagine how yummy it would have tasted straight from the oven, since it was a molten chocolate cake done right. the past few times i have had the pleasure of enjoying a molten chocolate cake they have not been prepared correctly. see the edges and exterior should have the consistency of a brownie-like cake that's on the edge of the pan and the middle should be a cross between runny and gooey, like fudge oozing out. this time, even after some time of it sitting, the consistency of the center was right on, which was exciting.

all in all i would visit VTK again. they have the right combination of good food that's reasonably priced, an ambiance that's both intimate and fun, and knowledgeable, friendly staff.

menu recap:
--tea smoked duck/lotus buns/ hoisin sauce
--panang curry with halibut and jasmine rice
--warm vahlrona chocolate cake with coconut sorbet (would be great, paired with Orchid Oolong tea)
--lemongrass soda

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

a milestone day for all journalists

June 1, 2005
By Todd S. Purdum

'Deep Throat' Unmasks Himself as Ex-No. 2 Official at F.B.I.

WASHINGTON, May 31 - Deep Throat, the mystery man who reigned as Washington's best-kept secret source for more than 30 years, was not just any shadowy, cigarette-smoking tipster in a raincoat. He was the No. 2 official of the F.B.I., W. Mark Felt, who helped The Washington Post unravel the Watergate scandal and the presidency of Richard M. Nixon, a feat that he lived to see disclosed on Tuesday, frail but smiling at 91.
In a final plot twist worthy of the saga that Mr. Felt helped to spawn, Vanity Fair magazine released an article from its July issue reporting that Mr. Felt, long a prime suspect to Nixon himself, had in recent years confided to his family and friends, "I'm the guy they used to call 'Deep Throat.' "
Within hours - after Mr. Felt himself, in failing health since suffering a stroke in 2001, appeared in the doorway of his daughter's home in Santa Rosa, Calif. - The Post confirmed his role. He was the official who encouraged its reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to follow the trail from the break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington to the highest levels of the Nixon administration.
Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein initially declined to confirm the Vanity Fair article, believing they had promised Mr. Felt unconditional confidentiality till his death. Meanwhile, The Post, which had guarded the secret as closely as the formula for Coca-Cola, suddenly found itself scrambling to deal with a monthly magazine's scoop of the final footnote to the biggest story in its history.
"It's been The Post's story forever," said Tom Wilkinson, an assistant managing editor of the paper, "and you never like to see those things go to somebody else."
Mr. Felt spent more than 30 years at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a protégé of its legendary director, J. Edgar Hoover, and was bitterly disappointed after Hoover's death in May 1972 - a month before the Watergate break-in - that Nixon went outside the agency for a new chief. In the past, he repeatedly denied being Deep Throat, and his family said he had been torn about whether to reveal his role and about whether his actions were appropriate for a law enforcement officer.
Indeed, some old Nixon hands like Patrick J. Buchanan, the onetime presidential speechwriter, and G. Gordon Liddy, a convicted Watergate conspirator, reacted to the disclosure of his identity with derision that a top government official would pass word of possible crimes to Mr. Woodward rather than to a prosecutor.
The Post's articles eventually led to Congressional investigations, a special criminal prosecutor, an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives and Nixon's resignation in the face of probable conviction by the Senate.
Mr. Felt's grandson Nick Jones, a 23-year-old law student, read a statement on his family's behalf on Tuesday, explaining, "As he recently told my mother, 'I guess people used to think Deep Throat was a criminal, but now they think he's a hero.' " Mr. Jones added that his grandfather believed that "the men and women of the F.B.I. who have put their lives at risk for more than 50 years to keep this country safe deserve more recognition than he."
Mr. Felt later appeared and spoke briefly to reporters, saying: "Hey, look at that. We appreciate you coming out like this."
Deep Throat began life as someone Mr. Woodward described only as "my friend," but he was rechristened by a Post editor in honor of the pornographic film of that name that was then a national sensation. Over the years, the list of possible real-life counterparts for the shadowy figure Hal Holbrook played in the film of Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein's best-selling book, "All The President's Men," has ranged widely - and often improbably - including Henry Kissinger and the first President George Bush, who was then ambassador to the United Nations.
But much of the most serious and informed speculation has long centered on the F.B.I., and on Mr. Felt, who was convicted in 1980 on unrelated charges of authorizing government agents to break into homes secretly, without warrants, in a search for anti-Vietnam War bombing suspects from the radical Weather Underground in 1972 and 1973. Five months later, President Ronald Reagan pardoned him on the grounds that he had "acted on high principle to bring an end to the terrorism that was threatening our nation."
In 1992, on the 20th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, the journalist James Mann cited Mr. Felt as a suspect in an article for The Atlantic Monthly, in which he theorized that Deep Throat's motive was to defend the nation from another kind of threat: to the institutional power, prerogatives and integrity of the F.B.I., which under Hoover had spent decades telling presidents what to do. Suddenly, veterans like Mr. Felt were being told what to do by the Nixon White House, and did not like it.
Mr. Woodward, who did not return telephone calls seeking comment, confirmed as much in comments to The Post's Web site on Tuesday. He said he had decided to confirm his source's identity, despite his concerns that Mr. Felt might not be competent enough to release him from his 33-year-old pledge of confidentiality.
"There's a principle involved," Mr. Bernstein said in a telephone interview from New York, before The Post's confirmation. "Reporters may be going to jail today for upholding that principle, and we don't and won't belittle it now."
The reality may be a bit more complex. The Vanity Fair article, written by a Felt family friend and lawyer, John D. O'Connor, portrays a polite but persistent dialogue between the Felt family and Mr. Woodward in recent years over who should control the rights (and benefits) to such a sensational story.
In encouraging her father to tell his own story, Mr. Felt's daughter, Joan, spoke of the money it might make to help pay tuition bills for her children. For his part, the article says, Mr. Woodward, who has built a lucrative career as a best-selling author, had expressed repeated concerns about whether Mr. Felt, his memory fading and faculties diminished, was really in a position to understand what he was doing.
Told by Mr. Felt's daughter that her father seemed to have unusually clear memories of him, Mr. Woodward, the Vanity Fair article says, simply responded: "He has good reason to remember me."
The Watergate tapes disclosed that Nixon himself had singled out Mr. Felt for special suspicion, once asking his chief of staff, H. R. Haldeman, "Is he a Catholic?" Mr. Haldeman replied that Mr. Felt, who is of Irish descent, was Jewish, and Nixon, who often liked to see Jews at the root of his troubles, replied: "It could be the Jewish thing. I don't know. It's always a possibility."
William D. Ruckelshaus, who resigned as Nixon's deputy attorney general rather than fire the Watergate special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, in 1973, said Tuesday that he had often wondered whether Deep Throat was a composite, simply because of the sheer amount of information he seemed to know about the extent of the Watergate conspiracy.
But Mr. Ruckelshaus noted that Mr. Felt had access to the voluminous F.B.I. interview files, some 1,500 in all, in the agency's investigation into the Watergate affair. "He would see all the agent interviews - they would come through his office - so he would have been privy to an awful lot of information," he said.
Indeed, more than 30 years ago, well before he and Mr. Bernstein had become household names and Deep Throat a legend, Mr. Woodward tantalizingly told the writer Timothy Crouse, in his 1972 campaign book, "The Boys on the Bus," that they had "got somebody at the Justice Department to say, 'Yeah, this whole damn thing is a Haldeman operation,' " directed from the White House, but that the source had said, "We'll never get him and you'll never get him."
In "All The President's Men," Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein paint Deep Throat as a colorful character, steeped in the Washington of an earlier time, "an incurable gossip, careful to label rumor for what it was, but fascinated by it." They added: "He could be rowdy, drink too much, overreach. He was not good at concealing his feelings, hardly ideal for a man in his position. Of late, he had expressed fear for the future of the executive branch, which he was in a unique position to observe."
In the current climate of public skepticism about the use of anonymous sources in journalism, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Bernstein went out of their way in their statement yesterday to note that "many other sources and officials assisted us and other reporters for the hundreds of stories that were written in The Washington Post about Watergate."
But Mr. Bernstein, in a second telephone interview after their confirmation, said: "This is a case history and a case lesson of why it is so important that we have confidential sources. If you were to look back at the original stories, I think hardly any of them had named sources. There's no way this reporting could have been done, nor is there any way that good reporting at a lot of places can be done, without anonymous sources."
At least one prominent Washingtonian expressed a slight nostalgia that the mystery had been solved.
"I mean, I always suspected it, but I never asked," said Sally Quinn, whose husband, Benjamin C. Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Post, was until Tuesday one of only four people publicly known to know the truth. "First of all, I didn't want to be rejected, and I knew he wouldn't tell me. And I knew that if somebody else blabbed, I would get blamed.
Mr. Bradlee himself told The Post that while he had known Deep Throat was a senior F.B.I. official during the investigation, he learned his name only after Nixon resigned.
Ms. Quinn added: "There's been a certain mystique about the story that will not be there any more. Everybody loves a secret that can be kept. Deep Throat has become this living legend, like Camelot. And now it isn't anymore."