Archive | October, 2011

Oxi Day

28 Oct

No!

 

Happy Oxi Day!  No matter if you spell it “oxi,” “ohi,” or “ochi,” it is the Greek word for “no.”  On October 28, Greeks celebrate the day they stood up and said “no” to the Italian ultimatum in 1940.

At dawn on October 28, 1940, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador in Greece, on orders from dictator Benito Mussolini, demanded that the Greek prime minister Ioannis Metaxas grant Axis forces access to “strategic locations” in Greece.

Metaxas’ response?

Oxi!

The citizens of Greece flocked to the streets, yelling “Oxi!”  It didn’t matter their political affiliation.  They stood united to protect their country.

At 5:30 that morning, the Italian troops stationed in Albania attacked the border of Greece.

And with that, Greece had entered World War II.

 

***

 

Today, Greeks are back in the streets.  Never fully recovered from World War II, Greece continues to face economic hardship.  The citizens of Greece are fighting back, they’re saying “no,” to the austerity measures.

 

***

 

Sometimes you need to take a stand.  Sometimes you need to say no.

What do you need to say no to today?

Do you need to say no to big business?  No to credit card debt?  No to working overtime … again?  No to another social event?  No to another night in?  No to junk food?  No to Uggs?

Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person.  It’s important to say no to some things so you can say yes to others.

What do you want to say yes to today?

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Happy Birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

27 Oct

Happy birthday, Teddy Roosevelt!

On October 27, 1858, Theodore Roosevelt was born right here in New York City.  I had the opportunity to visit his birth home a few years ago and write the introduction to his classic book Hunting the Grisly and Other Stories, published by the Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading.

I am opposed to hunting for sport, and in my introduction I highlight the fact that although Roosevelt was a hunter he was also a conservationist who set up fifty-one wildlife refuges.

Roosevelt’s Hunting the Grisly is available for purchase in both paperback and ebook format.

Tasty Tuesday: Visual Inspiration in Your Cupboard

25 Oct

While I was browsing through all the wonderful posts on Black Eiffel the other day, I came across one that I just had to share with you.  In “Method,” graphic designer Rachel Jones reveals that she pins up food articles and recipes on a hidden wall in her kitchen.

It got me thinking that the inside of the pantry cabinet is the perfect place to tape up photographic inspiration for recipes.  I’m kind of a creature of habit when it comes to cooking.  I forget that I know how to make all sorts of delicious foods, and instead cook up a rotation of angel hair with sauce, fried eggs with onions and tomatoes, rice and beans, and pierogis.  Maybe if I tape up a few magazine cutouts of some new recipes or even just of foods I know how to cook but never think of making, there will be a little more variety to my meals.  I’ll see the inspiration every time I reach for a box of pasta in the cabinet, but the magazines will still be hidden away so I have that nice, streamlined look to my kitchen.

So much easier than poring over my cookbooks, searching for something—anything—to inspire a meal when I’m already hungry!

Greek Journalists Strike against the War on Words

20 Oct

I believe in the power of words.  I believe words inform, enlighten.

I also believe in the power of silence.  Silence can sometimes be more powerful than words.

On Tuesday, October 17, about 2,000 Greek journalists went on strike.  The Greek journalists protested the layoffs resulting from Greece’s poor economy and the austerity bill stipulated by creditors.  Unemployment in Greece in general is up to 16%.  Unemployment in Greek media is up 25%.  The result of the strike was that internal Greek news coverage came to a halt.  (You can read more about the details here, where I obtained the statistics.)

The media professionals on strike in Greece sent a message about the critical role of news journalists in disseminating information.  Journalists are liaisons between the government and the general public, the protesters and the general public, the protesters and the government.  They go to the front lines of protests; they gain access to interviews with politicians; they give a voice to the villager whose pension has been cut to the point that he is having trouble making ends meet.  They are spokespeople.  They are advocates.

The 25% unemployment rate in the media sector of Greece is a war on words.  The pay cuts and layoffs indicate the devaluation of research and reporting.  We see similarities in the United States, as the media sector here has yet to find an effective way of monetizing content.  Try to find employment in journalism, and the majority of the ads you’ll read list “experience,” “exposure,” and “a byline” as your compensation.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a job that pays 2 to 10 cents a word.  The result is that we read the work of bloggers who simply aggregate content, instead of conducting research and interviews, and spout opinions.  Those inclined toward professional journalism may see the low wages and long hours and redirect their editorial skills toward, say, writing advertising copy—because, you know, we live in a society that likes to consume and be entertained, not informed.

While I understand why the Greek journalists went on strike and shut down news, it is imperative that they find ways to report on the current events taking place in Greece.  The citizens in Greece need them.  Greece should not become like North Korea, where the government controls the distribution of “information.”

Writing Wednesday: The Frugalista™ Writer Natalie P. McNeal

19 Oct

One of my summer reads was Natalie P. McNeal’s The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving up the Fabulous Life.  Now, I don’t struggle with debt, but as I just plunked down a too-big-to-say sum of money on next semester’s tuition, I can say this book touches on a sensitive issue we can all relate to: finances.

When the economy took its nosedive, Natalie had been working for years at a newspaper.  That means that not only was she facing the possibility of losing her job, but even if she remained employed at the print publication she could only wonder how long that would last in this age of digital media.

Oh, how her story hit home!  I too was working in print media (in my case, books) when the economy tanked.  And just like Natalie, I had been at my cozy, security-blanket position for years.

What I liked about Natalie’s book, therefore, wasn’t so much the get-out-of-debt plot, but the story of reexamining and refocusing one’s career in the midst of a bad economy.  By telling her own story, Natalie offered some savvy wisdom for writers:::

  • Make yourself relevant to today’s new-media world.
  • Learn video editing, even if you’re a writer, so you can add video to your blog.
  • Make friends with the online community.
  • Socialize!  Go places, meet people.  Connect IRL.
  • Build your own career, instead of just accepting the job you’re given.  (Example: Natalie asked to start a blog for the newspaper, and that blog led to her book!)
  • Connect to larger media outlets.  (Natalie blogged for The Miami Herald.)
  • Make media appearances.  (Natalie served as an expert on frugalasta™ living for larger media outlets.)
  • Write a blog to build your platform for a full-length book.

The Frugalista Files, a money memoir, is a super-quick read.  It’s not so much a how-to book as it is an encouraging and inspiring memoir.

A Greek Bedroom Inspired by Nature

13 Oct

When my dad started building his dream house in Greece, I was in middle school in New Jersey.  It was the early ‘90s, and the Body Shop and Calvin Klein and Kate Moss were ushering in an era of natural beauty.  Simplicity was the backlash against an era of neon and shoulder pads.  I abandoned my hot-pink biker shorts and oversized Hypercolor t-shirts for a more natural beauty aesthetic that seeped its way into my plans for the bedroom I’d have in Greece.

Our new house was being built in an olive grove by the ocean, and I wanted to embrace an organic look for my bedroom.  I wanted to keep the walls and the bedspread as white as the walls of a white-washed Greek church.  I wanted only a few little green leaf accents and bamboo curtains to echo the call of nature.

When I saw This Is Glamorous’ post “Wicker & White and Summer Delights,” it immediately brought me back to the inspiration for my bedroom all those years ago.  Wicker baskets hold fresh, white laundry.  A bowl of pretty starfish brings the ocean inside.  A pretty white sundress looks like the kind I’d find in one of the many shops near Olympia.  There’s even a photograph of waffles, the dessert we often get after dinner in Greece.

Tasty Tuesday: Memories of Orzo

11 Oct

When I was a kid, I loved going to Baltimore to visit my cousins.  We’d pile into the Volvo station wagon and drive the three or four hours from New Jersey to Maryland.  Along the way, we’d stop at McDonald’s.  Nowadays, most McDonald’s have a playground but back then in the 1980s, we didn’t have one like that near where I grew up, so it was always super exciting that we got to make a stop at a McDonald’s that had a playground outside of it on our trip down to Baltimore.  We almost never ate McDonald’s when I was growing up.  My mom said it was “disgusting,” and my dad called it “plastic food.”  But we always got to have McDonald’s on our way to visit our cousins.

When we got to Baltimore, my aunt would always have dinner ready for us.  It was always the same thing that first night: orzo and meat.  My mom isn’t Greek and never cooked with orzo, so this meal always stuck out to me.  I wasn’t sure what orzo even was.  Was it rice or was it pasta?  It turns out it’s a rice-shaped pasta.  Now I know.

My aunt still makes orzo when I visit.  Sometimes it’s orzo in a tomato sauce, like the kind I remember her making when I was a kid; other times it’s spanikorizo, Greek spinach orzo.

I’ve never made orzo before.  Strange, isn’t it, how a food that has such a strong memory attached to it can be something you’ve never even attempted to make?  I think it would be an easy, filling dish to make in bulk so I don’t have to worry about cooking in the beginning of the week when I have both work and grad school.

I looked up a few recipes:

Epicurious’ Orzo with Feta, Tomatoes, and Dill

Holy Apostle Orthodox Church’s Spanikorizo

Lit Life: Catcher in the Rye

7 Oct

 

I went to undergrad in Los Angeles County and currently live in New York City, where we have an active alumnae book club to keep in touch with one another.  The New York branch of the Scripps alumnae book club has been selecting books on the theme of New York.  For August 2011, we decided on none other than J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Oh, remember that teenage angst?!  The desire to be a grownup even though all adults seemed like “phonies.”  The distaste for classes.  The devastating crushes!  Holden Caufield, it gets better; I promise.

I hosted the book club at my apartment.  Well, I love to plan a good theme party!  Everyone was coming straight from work, but I made an extra effort to dress the part that day with a look that was prep-school chic — navy cardigan, red shirt, pleated skirt, and polished side part.
I served rye whiskey.  Get it?  Catcher-in-the-RYE whiskey?  I also put out colorful lollipops, reminiscent of the swirl of a carousel, like the one Phoebe rides in Central Park in the novel.  It was a pot luck and everyone brought such delicious foods!

So where do the ducks go in the winter?

Writing Wednesday: One Step Closer to Tomorrow

5 Oct

I’m a dreamer.  Always planning for the future.  Today often gets shoved under the carpet as I dream of life a year from now.  But dreaming and doing are two very different things.  I can’t get to that future point if I don’t take steps today to get there.

Case in point: I want to publish a book.  I dream up covers and marketing ideas.  I wonder if I’ll be able to get over stage fright to do readings.  The problem is, I haven’t actually written the book yet.  How can I get to that future point of publication if I don’t spend time today writing?

What’s on your agenda for today?  Oh sure, you’ve got work and maybe a networking event function afterwards, but what are you doing today that will take you a step closer to where you want to be tomorrow?

The most productive and successful people in the world are those who are strategic.  Are you being strategic with your time?  Are you doing something every single day that will lead you to where you want to be in the future?

Writing Wednesday: What Should I Read Next?

5 Oct

Every writer will tell you that writers should have a healthy reading habit.  The more you read, the better you write.

But what happens when you have no reading inspiration?

The website What Should I Read Next? solves your dilemma by suggesting books based on your favorite authors.

I tried it out and had mixed results.  I typed in “On the Road” and out came:

  • Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlain – Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond
  • William S Burroughs – Junkie (Traveller’s companion series-no.114, four Square books)
  • Allen Ginsberg, Williams/William Carlos – Howl (Pocket Poets S.)
  • Gregory Corso – Gasoline
  • Lucius Apuleius, Apuleius, Robert Graves – The Golden Ass: The Transformations of Lucius
  • William Burroughs – Naked Lunch: The Restored Text (Harper Perennial Modern Classics S.)
  • Gary Snyder – Turtle Island (A New Directions Book)
  • Paul Auster – Leviatan
  • Kesey Ken – One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest
  • Rick Moody – Purple America
  • Siegfried Sassoon – The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston (Faber Paper-Covered Editions)
  • Charles Yu, – How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe: A Novel
  • Tracy Barrett – Anna of Byzantium
  • Katsuhiro Otomo – Akira 2

So on and so forth.  Kind of a random list.  The related Beat Generation works make sense, and I can see how a few of the others speak toward a vision of America, but some of it seems just bizarre.