more sun?

03/10/17 09:13

After years of repeat visits to my dermatologist, I have mixed feelings about Daylight Saving Time.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized

Three Marlins – Cristian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and Martin Prado – are playing in the World Baseball Classic (the first two for the United States, the last for Venezuela). Yelich was so excited by the prospect of playing for his country that he accepted the invitation without even realizing he would get paid.

 This is not the case with a number of MLB stars, who didn’t want to interrupt their spring training to risk injury playing in intense games. (The WBC is the true World Series.) In the 1950s, Ted Williams interrupted his career to risk death flying fighter planes in the Korean War.

 One more reason to be a Marlins fan. 

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

blueberry doubt

03/08/17 07:41

Every morning my breakfast includes blueberries, because they're supposedly so good for me. They are rarely delicious; this current batch is the worst I've ever eaten. Which has caused me to wonder: If blueberries lack the taste of real blueberries, do they also lack the nutritional value?

By Thomas Swick • Category: food

the last movie

03/07/17 09:25

Polish competed with Spanish last night at Regal South Beach Cinemas as the local community of Poles came out for Andrzej Wajda’s final film, Afterimage. (If you watched the Academy Awards the other week, you saw a photograph of the great director during the In Memoriam montage.)

The film tells the story of Wladyslaw Strzeminski, an artist and art instructor in Lodz who, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, refused to submit to the state-mandated ideology of socialist realism. In an early scene, Strzeminski is in his apartment, about to dab paint on a blank canvas, when the room, and the canvas, are suddenly washed in red. Outside men are raising a huge banner to Stalin on the building’s façade. The artist, who is missing an arm and a leg, uses his crutch to rip a hole in the banner and return natural light to his living quarters. It is the beginning of his demise: He eventually loses his job, gets kicked out of the artists’ union, finds himself unemployable and ineligible for food stamps. In one heartbreaking scene, he is even refused paint in a store he’s shopped at for years.  

 After the movie, there was a reception, attended mostly by Poles. One expressed regret that Americans were seeing such a depressing depiction of Poland. I had a different view: Americans tend to know about the horrors of World War II, but what came after has not received all that much attention in the States (despite the efforts of Wajda, Milosz, and many others). Poland suffered greatly under Stalinism, a suffering that seems all the more cruel when you consider that, in the war, Poland was on the winning side.

By Thomas Swick • Category: poland

cats and people

03/06/17 10:10

Saturday we went to see Kedi, the beautiful movie about the cats of Istanbul which is also a movie about the residents of Istanbul. What's impressive is not just how they look after the cats, but the noble attitudes that inspire them to do so. They are everyday people but their thoughts sometimes transcend the mundane and touch the spiritual; their sentences are often quietly poetic. The movie makes you want to visit (or return to) Istanbul not just to see its cats but to meet its citizens.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel

I returned from my bike ride the other night and saw a small package leaned against the door. Opening it, I found Sitting Up with the Dead, Pamela Petro’s exquisitely written and immensely entertaining book about the South and its storytellers.

 Pam – a dear and longtime friend – had told me that the book was being reissued, and I was delighted. She is one of the finest travel writers working today, and Sitting Up with the Dead is one of the best travel books of the last few decades. It intersperses colorful accounts of Pam’s travels through the South with the stories of the storytellers she listened to and talked with. It’s really two books, each one evocative of a place that is more a place, as Pam points out, than perhaps any other region of our country. How the two are connected is subtly explained in the prologue: 

 “Chaucer knew that stories are the surest guides on any journey. They are, in fact, journeys themselves, leading out of the graspable, sweaty present into the vanished or imaginary worlds that support it.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: books