Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem for Tuesday and New Year's Survey

Yellow Stars and Ice
by Susan Stewart

I am as far as the deepest sky between clouds
and you are as far as the deepest root and wound,
and I am as far as a train at evening,
as far as a whistle you can't hear or remember.
You are as far as an unimagined animal
who, frightened by everything, never appears.
I am as far as cicadas and locusts
and you are as far as the cleanest arrow
that has sewn the wind to the light on
the birch trees. I am as far as the sleep of rivers
that stains the deepest sky between clouds,
you are as far as invention, and I am as far as memory.

You are as far as a red-marbled stream
where children cut their feet on the stones
and cry out. And I am as far as their happy
mothers, bleaching new linen on the grass
and singing, "You are as far as another life,
as far as another life are you."
And I am as far as an infinite alphabet
made from yellow stars and ice,
and you are as far as the nails of the dead man,
as far as a sailor can see at midnight
when he's drunk and the moon is an empty cup,
and I am as far as invention and you are as far as memory.

I am as far as the corners of a room where no one
has ever spoken, as far as the four lost corners
of the earth. And you are as far as the voices
of the dumb, as the broken limbs of saints
and soldiers, as the scarlet wing of the suicidal
blackbird, I am farther and farther away from you.
And you are as far as a horse without a rider
can run in six years, two months and five days.
I am as far as that rider, who rubs his eyes with
his blistered hands, who watches a ghost don his
jacket and boots and now stands naked in the road.
As far as the space between word and word,
as the heavy sleep of the perfectly loved
and the sirens of wars no one living can remember,
as far as this room, where no words have been spoken,
you are as far as invention, and I am as far as memory.


The 2002 Survey

1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?

Not killing myself in the early fall when things were completely falling apart. Not committing an act of violence against the person who made my life and that of my family hell, and who is still trying to do so. Sometimes going an entire 24 hours without thinking about how much I hate her and what she's doing to us -- especially to our kids.

Also, in a few short months I have made some really wonderful friends. I just want to note how much I love LJ and how grateful I am to so many of you.

2. What was your biggest disappointment?

Discovering 1) just how low some people will sink in their search for self-validation and self-justification, and 2) just how violent I am capable of becoming, or at least thinking about becoming, when someone threatens my home and kids. I am NOT a nice person. Now I know that conclusively.

3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions?

I'm not going to bother with specifics like losing weight or learning yoga because I just end up beating myself up over those. I would like to find ways to channel my energies next year that will be productive -- if exercise and yoga seem to be working, great, and if they don't, then I want to catch on to that quickly and try something else. I do not want to get into the sort of rut that I was in through much of August and September of this year.

4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else?

At home with my husband and (hopefully sleeping) kids watching Dick Clark. Which is fine. I wish I could have friends over, but most of them are either living too far away, out of town, or at home with their own families. My computer will be on, so hopefully I will be in cyberspace, too, waving to the people who matter to me here.

5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions?

My one shot of amaretto for the year.

This site, linking one's astrological sign to one's Hogwarts House, is amusing if not accurate in my case (I'm definitely a Sagittarius, and usually sorted into Ravenclaw).

This site has a couple of Return of the King pictures!

Rings Things: Heck no I didn't avoid TTT spoilers. I sought them out in every nook and cranny. Will do the same for the ext-DVD and ROTK. Got any? Please send.

Monday, December 30, 2002

Song for Monday

I swear that tomorrow I will have finished my Indian Runner review for GMR and will be able to take a break from obsessing over Viggo. Really. (Shut up, you, you and you.)

Highway Patrolman
by Bruce Springsteen

My name is Joe Roberts, I work for the state
I'm a sergeant out of Perrineville, barracks number 8
I always done an honest job, as honest as I could
I got a brother named Frankie and Frankie ain't no good

Now ever since we was young kids it's been the same comedown
I get a call over the shortwave Frankie's in trouble downtown
Well if it was any other man I'd just put him straight away
But when it's your brother sometimes you look the other way

Me and Frankie laughin' and drinkin'
Nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria
As the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
Man turns his back on his family, well he just ain't no good

Well Frankie went in the army back in 1965
I got a farm deferment, settled down, took Maria for my wife
But them wheat prices kept on droppin'
Till it was like we were gettin' robbed
Frankie came home in '68 and me I took this job

Yeah, we're laughin' and drinkin'
Nothin feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria
As the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin', teach him how to walk that line
Man turns his back on his family, he ain't no friend of mine

The night was like any other, I got a call 'bout quarter to nine
There was trouble in a roadhouse out on the Michigan line
There was a kid lyin' on the floor lookin' bad, bleedin' hard from his head
There was a girl cryin' at a table, it was Frank, they said

Well I went out and I jumped in my car and I hit the lights
I must of drove 110 through Michigan county that night
It was out at the crossroads down 'round Willow bank
Seen a Buick with Ohio plates, behind the wheel was Frank
Well I chased him through them county roads till a sign said "Canadian border 5 miles from here"
I pulled over to the side of the highway and watched his taillights disappear

Me and Frankie laughin' and drinkin'
Nothin' feels better than blood on blood
Takin' turns dancin' with Maria
As the band played "Night of the Johnstown Flood"
I catch him when he's strayin' like any brother would
Man turns his back on his family, well he just ain't no good

From The Washington Post yesterday: On Tolkien and War.

I cheated a lot to get this because is an old friend with whom I used to work, who taught me to eat sushi, whom I miss a lot since she moved to the west coast:

Which Potterverse OC Are You?

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Saw TTT The Third Time. Still no diminishment, though I understand the frustrations of Faramir fans vis a vis his diminished screen time more each time I see it -- not the characterization, that still works for me because I'm taking the missing scenes for granted, but I really wish we'd get to SEE them.

Then came home and read this courtesy via . Am most amused. Almost wish Viggo would take a break from discussing politics to discuss getting drunk with Sean and kidnapping Orlando. Suspect this makes me shallow.

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Poem for Sunday

Because poetry about abortion does something to me and Sharon Olds' poem about thinking about it is too long to transcribe at the moment.



Loved this post by . Rather like my wish to trade the Bartlet White House for the Bush White House -- Martin Sheen can run the country, and Dubya can star in his own TV series.

Son of Gondor
href="http://www.legolasgreenleaflove.com">Legolas Greenleaf

You know, I find these tacky (especially the "kidnapped and shagged" ones in regard to real people) yet here I am posting one anyway. I must be in a mood. I love even more because of this.

Desperately needed...someone who can read Japanese to translate Aragorn/Boromir manga here and various other places on the web.

If you go, make sure to check out #7, #17, #27, #30, #32, and especially #33. If you're over 18 that is. Can't link directly to the JPGs, only the index.

I had NO idea the boys were so big in Japan.

Saturday, December 28, 2002

Poem for Saturday

by Joyce Sutphen

The second half of my life will be black
to the white rind of the old and fading moon.
The second half of my life will be water
over the cracked floor of these desert years.
I will land on my feet this time,
knowing at least two languages and who
my friends are. I will dress for the
occasion, and my hair shall be
whatever color I please.
Everyone will go on celebrating the old
birthday, counting the years as usual,
but I will count myself new from this
inception, this imprint of my own desire.

The second half of my life will be swift,
past leaning fenceposts, a gravel shoulder,
asphalt tickets, the beckon of open road.
The second half of my life will be wide-eyed,
fingers shifting through fine sands,
arms loose at my sides, wandering feet.
There will be new dreams every night,
and the drapes will never be closed.
I will toss my string of keys into a deep
well and old letters into the grate.

The second half of my life will be ice
breaking up on the river, rain
soaking the fields, a hand
held out, a fire,
and smoke going
upward, always up.


New York Times op-ed piece on politicians and apologies here.

I am so pleased about the following that I can't remember who I gacked it from! (And no, , "gacked" isn't a word, but then people who can't even spell "color" without sticking a "u" in shouldn't talk... *ggg*)

Alex Scudder
Which homosexual Victorian character are you?

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Friday, December 27, 2002

Catch Me If You Can

My husband and I are just back from one of our regular Spielberg double features, in which we go to his latest in the theater and then watch his near-latest on video to see where the great one has grown recently. I must say that, even had this film not had a wonderful performance by DiCaprio, a very witty screenplay, and a clever homage to/send-up of spy caper films of the '60s, I would have had a huge smile on my face from beginning to end because of the sheer, stunning slashiness of it. If anyone had told me four hours ago that I would be slashing a Leo character with a Tom Hanks character, I would have laughed my head off, but I'm not going to get this image out of my head for a good long time. Hell, I'd write fic if I remembered enough of the dialogue. It's wonderful.

This is particularly notable to me because it occurred to me near the end of the movie that the women's roles or lack thereof would be driving me insane, were I focused on them. But I wasn't, because this was so obviously a love story about two men. (Like FOTR. *g*) I must remember to add that to the top of my list of reasons I enjoy slash: not for the porn as Penley says, not for the pain as Bacon-Smith says, but because when women are absent, invisible or utterly irrelevant as they are in the vast majority of popular entertainment, it's a lot more fun to ignore that frustration completely and focus on the homoeroticism that inevitably crops up in such situations.

* * * *

My husband's comment upon hearing that Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey plan to get together and release a Who album next year: "They should get together with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. They'll need a bass player and a drummer. They could do 'My Generation' and 'When I'm 64'."

Gacked from :

So which fairy tale archetype are you? Hmm??

made by Michelle at EmptySpace.

Poem for Friday

Chains Of Fire
by Elsa Gidlow

Each dawn, kneeling before my hearth,
Placing stick, crossing stick
On dry eucalyptus bark
Now the larger boughs, the log
(With thanks to the tree for its life)
Touching the match, waiting for creeping flame.
I know myself linked by chains of fire
To every woman who has kept a hearth

In the resinous smoke
I smell hut and castle and cave,
Mansion and hovel.
See in the shifting flame my mother
And grandmothers out over the world
Time through, back to the Paleolithic
In rock shelters where flint struck first sparks
(Sparks aeons later alive on my hearth)
I see mothers , grandmothers back to beginnings,
Huddled beside holes in the earth
of igloo, tipi, cabin,
Guarding the magic no other being has learned,
Awed, reverent, before the sacred fire
Sharing live coals with the tribe.

For no one owns or can own fire,
it lends itself.
Every hearth-keeper has known this.
Hearth-less, lighting one candle in the dark
We know it today.
Fire lends itself,
Serving our life
Serving fire.

At Winter solstice, kindling new fire
With sparks of the old
From black coals of the old,
Seeing them glow again,
Shuddering with the mystery,
We know the terror of rebirth.

Rumor from The Sun that Ian McKellen will play Dumbledore here. Refutation here. Believe what you want!

Parents have offered to babysit tonight. Since we will undoubtedly take the kids to see The Two Towers again sometime next week, must decide whether I am in a Spielberg mood or a Chicago mood.

For the hell of it, watched The Prophecy II last night (ran out of time for Minority Report which was supposed to be my laundry-folding distraction). Knew there would be no Viggo-as-Devil so was not expecting much, and was terribly disappointed to get a different Thomas who died almost immediately (suspect Devil saved him at the last minute but more on that later). Still, worth watching for Christopher Walken, again. With angels like this, who needs demons?

Thursday, December 26, 2002

Poem for Thursday

...offsite today at the newly launched Mytholog:

( Twin Towers )

For friends who read Em Wycedee's erotica, she has a story called "Grace" at Mytholog, too.

And here, from the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life , an article on monotheism and the history of Jewish environmentalism (one of the reasons I am a Jewitch).

What Classic Pin-Up Are You?

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Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Jewish Christmas...

...usually means Chinese food and a movie, but due to the snowstorm this morning we decided to forego the movie (fearful of driving on slippery roads and getting car stuck in a parking lot, and wanting to give the kids a chance to sled). Instead we went out with my parents for dinner at a Thai restaurant where I stuffed my face most delightfully on satay, panang, roast duck, ginger chicken and various side dishes. Now I am quite content and wishing there were some exercise that gave me half the pleasure that food does.

Just want to mention that I love , and , for reasons of which they are each aware (the latter also pointed me to the quiz below). And I love you.

You are Arthur, King of the Britons! Go and tell your master that we have been charged by God with a sacred quest.
What Monty Python Holy Grail Quest Character are You?

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You are King Arthur of the Britons! You like to hear yourself talk a lot, namely about some damn grail. Those closest to you are just there to serve you and bang your coconuts together. For some reason Mystical beings come to you and set you out on quests. If only more people understood you, perhaps you'd get that grail after all.

Poem for Christmas Morning

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Out of the bosom of the Air,
      Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
      Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
            Silent, and soft, and slow
            Descends the snow.

Even as our cloudy fancies take
      Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
      In the white countenance confession,
            The troubled sky reveals
            The grief it feels.

This is the poem of the air,
      Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
      Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
            Now whispered and revealed
            To wood and field.


Beautiful snowy Christmas morning, slowly turning to rain. Maybe an inch on the ground and thin on tree branches and leaves. Hallmark could not have created a better holiday morning card.

Last night I rewatched The Indian Runner to review it for GMR. On second viewing it was absolutely devastating -- once I knew what the outcome of certain scenes was going to be, it became impossible to watch them without crying. Last time I was so totally focused on Viggo that I don't think I noticed just how good David Morse's performance is; it's gut-wrenching, especially the scene where he starts crying at the table. I went to bed totally wrung out from it. Now I have to figure out how to make the film's portrayal of the vacuousness of the American dream folklore-relevant in a review.

Secret Diary of Theoden! And no idea how this happened:

Which B-Movie Badass Are You?

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And SPAM! I just had to post this. My uncle sent it to me. 'Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Monday, December 23, 2002

Poem for Monday

From Tangled Hair
by Yosano Akiko

At the beginning
Of the night the whispering
Snow fell, and now stars
Fill this world below on the
Disheveled hair about my face.

He tempted me to
Come in to say goodbye.
I hesitated to respond
And he brushed my hand away.
But yet--the smell of his clothes
In the soft darkness.

Black hair
Tangled in a thousand strands
Tangled my hair and
Tangled my tangled memories
Of our long nights of lovemaking.

Gacked from !

Which Annoying Two Towers Character are You?
By Lisa

Gacked from :

What Lord of the Rings Male and Mood Do You Desire?
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Actually I like Boromir when he isn't tempted, too. I like him with or without the Ring. I like him with or without his shield. I like him with or without his clothes...

Here's Frank Rich in The New York Times on Trent Lott and the Democrats. Interesting stuff.

And courtesy , Dom explains "Trees"!

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Not-poem for Sunday

From The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes -- a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning --

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

* * * *

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Poem and Movie For Winter

Ice Fishing at Winter Solstice
by Larry Gavin

Sometimes I imagine
The darkness of late afternoon
Exists to remind me how surely
All light will disappear. There is no hesitation
As the sun, in heavy clouds, declines
Behind hills - just as suddenly
All thoughts of day vanish, too.
The cold rises with Venus, an evening
Star this time of year.
The world becomes a circus of circles:
Stars, the float, this hole
I stare into. I stare
As if the whole world depends on me
Being here staring through a hole
In Ice, answering the old riddle
About what gets bigger the more
Is taken away. I could count
My losses as losses, but tonight
The world begins its graceful slide
Toward spring. Winter seems to pause
A moment. Gathering itself suspended
In night: like bait suspended
By the float above bottom,
Like ice suspended above the density
Of water, air above ice, and on
Into the infinite vacuum of space.
The float tugged beneath the surface
Threatens to pull me down, too.
Instead I draw the line tight
And set the hook.
I might as well be reeling in stars.
Reflected through dark water
To just within reach, becoming a fish
That can't live in air. My cold hands fold
Around him as if in prayer.


Warning: it is late and I am going to be incoherent. Even more so than usual. Just wanted to get that out of the way.

Okay: I never saw A Walk on the Moon before. I believe I must have resisted it on principle because 1) my college roommate had a major crush on Diane Lane, which was always a turn-off to me for reasons I could never articulate (now that I'm forcing myself to think about this, the fact that she was claiming to be straight in college while I was deep in doubt about myself and all the messy stuff that churned up undoubtedly had a lot to do with it) and 2) I guess somewhere I heard that it was about Jewish women at a summer resort in New York, and since that is my background, and since my mother is obsessed with books and movies about Jewish women at summer resorts in New York, and I somehow managed not to know about the Woodstock angle, I thought it might remind me of my mother. And there is no bigger turn-off than thinking "Viggo Mortensen" and "my mother" in the same sentence.

Also, I tend to be in denial about the fact that I am now officially over 35 and will more likely be relating to the mothers than the daughters in mother-daughter stories.

Anyway, I got my husband to sit down and watch with me, which he did happily once the soundtrack got going (this is a man with two different Woodstock DVDs in our relatively small DVD collection). And then he proceeded to put up with me laughing and crying through the whole thing, even though he had just had to put up with similar inane behavior during Trek V. I think he did this because -- and I astonished myself here -- I spent most of the movie cussing at Diane Lane for cheating on her husband with Viggo. Yeah, I know it's Viggo, and yeah, I know she was mourning her lost youth and frustrated in housewife hell and many many things I related to all too well, but I was shrieking, "What about your KIDS?" and all these other things that gave me the horrified realization: oh my god, I AM my mother.

Besides, Viggo's character was outrageously too perfect (even worse than Faramir in the LOTR books, heh heh heh). Other than the fucking married women thing, he didn't have a single fault, and he wasn't even a good adulterer -- he knew when to leave.

I was going somewhere with this when I started writing, but I've forgotten where so I'll finish tomorrow. I think my point was that anyone who has not seen this movie should see this movie. Even if, like me, you have way too much in common with Diane Lane's character and so does your mother.

Ooh yeah, from , a link to a very funny TTT parody!

Friday, December 20, 2002

Poem for Friday

A Visit From The Yule Spirits
by Richard De Angelis

'Twas the night before Yule, when all 'cross the heath,
Not a being was stirring, Pagan, faerie, or beast.
Wassail was left out and the altar adorned
To rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.

The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
Their dreams filled with visions of belov'd Mother Earth.
M'lady and I beneath blankets piled deep
Had just settled down to our own Solstice sleep.

Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!

On the west wind flew a gaggle of geese white & gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in her giftladen dray.
The figure on her broomstick in the north sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.

From the south came a comet more bright than the moon,
And we knew that Lucia would be with us soon.
As these spirits sailed earthward o'er hilltops & trees,
Frau Holda serenaded her feathery steeds:

"Fly Isolde! Fly Tristan! Fly Odin and Freya!
Fly Morgaine! Fly Merlin! Fly Uranus and Gaea!
May the God and the Goddess inside of you soar
From the clouds in the heavens to yon cottage door."

As soft and silent as snowflakes they fell,
Their arrival announced by a faint chiming bell.
They landed like angels, their bodies aglow.
Their feet left no marks in the new-fallen snow.

Before we could ponder what next lay in store,
There came a slow creaking from our threshold door.
We crept from our bedroom and were spellbound to see...
There in our parlor stood the Yule Trinity!

Lucia, the Maiden, with her head wreathed in flame,
Shone with the radiance for which she was named.
The Lightbringer's eyes held the joy of a child,
And she spoke with a voice that was gentle, yet wild:

"May the warmth of this household ne'er fade away."
Then she lit our Yule log which still burns to this day.
Frau Holda in her down cloak stood regal and tall;
The Matron of Solstice, the Mother of all.

Under her gaze we felt safe & secure.
Her voice was commanding, yet almost demure:
"May the love of this family enrich young and old."
And from the folds of her cloak showered coins of pure gold.

La Befana wore a kerchief on her silvery hair,
The veil of the Crone who has secrets to share.
In her eyes gleamed a wisdom only gained by spent youth.
Her voice was a whisper but her words rung with truth:

"May health, glad tidings, and peace fill these rooms."
And she banished misfortune with a sweep of her broom.
They then left a gift by each sleeping child's head,
Took a drink of our wassail, and away they sped.

While we watched them fly off through the night sky we laughed
At the wondrous magick we had found in the Craft.
As they departed, the spirits decreed...
Merry Yule To You All and May All Blessed Be!

* * * *

A bit of seasonal humor. Being a Jewitch, I have to plan my Christmas day Chinese food and moviegoing.

Which Sean Bean Character Are You?

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Can I ask a question? Is it not allowable for a literate person to have disliked Faramir in TTT and ROTK (the novels)? How come when I state that I do not despise and loathe movie!Faramir but rather respect him, having found Tolkien's Faramir a hopeless do-gooder (and Boromir a revolting buffoon), I get treated as if I must be a brainless 12-year-old with a crush on Legolas?

I understand that some texts are sacrosanct to some people, and any deviation from Tolkien-canon is going to get certain people absolutely hysterical. I thought I might feel that way when I heard TNT was making a four-hour miniseries of The Mists of Avalon, a book that literally changed my religion. And I watched it, and yeah, it utterly decimated what really mattered in the novel, but you know what -- it's a miniseries! It's a piece of commercial entertainment! It's not the definitive version and certainly not the only valid interpretation of MOA, and even if there are 12-year-old fan girls who may have watched it because of a crush on the guy who played Lancelot, maybe they'll read the books, maybe they'll think about the barely-touched-upon history of the Goddess, maybe they'll form their own ideas based on it. Or maybe they'll just have enjoyed it and that'll be enough for them. It's too bad for me that no one can make the definitive miniseries of how *I* see The Mists of Avalon -- at least, it's too bad for me -- but that's not the director's responsibility. It's not an act of sabotage if he decided to focus on different characters and events than I would have.

Peter Jackson had nine hours in which to condense books that probably could have been made into a 20+ hour production and still required cuts. He had to find some way to show quickly Faramir's desperation to do something right in the eyes of his father. And dramatically -- quite apart from Tolkien-purist considerations -- I think it's very powerful seeing him tempted and rejecting the Ring; it strengthens the link to Boromir that's pretty weak without the flashbacks (I know people are ranting about various other changes that could have been replaced with those, but I think that's a different argument, and in any case I don't think it's a make-or-break choice for the film).

I've been a lifelong SF/fantasy fan; I wrote my M.A. thesis on feminist utopias. But although I understood and appreciated his contributions to the genre, I was never a Tolkien fan until Peter Jackson brought to life the human characters whom I never could stand. I don't understand why certain people cannot accept that it is possible for intelligent disagreement on such topics, rather than pronouncing themselves the True Intellectuals [TM] with the only valid opinions. So go ahead and hate movie!Faramir if you want, but for heaven's sake do the rest of us a favor and stop implying that it makes you smarter, deeper or more literate than those of us who don't.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Poem for Thursday

Excerpt From The Gardener
by Rabindranath Tagore

Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
Let it not be a death but completeness.
Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the     nest.
Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in     silence.
I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light you on your way.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002


Had to find something to say about tonight's Enterprise despite just. not. caring. Tonight of all nights!

Suckiest review I ever wrote I think.

And a few more thoughts on TTT that came up in conversation with ...

I think they needed all the Arwen scenes. In the book we're supposed to take it for granted that she's the Great Love of Aragorn's Life -- for no good reason exactly, which is why I never liked her, extraordinary beauty is just not enough. But in the movies there could have been a serious "So why doesn't he just take up with Eowyn and let Arwen go?" issue going on, especially after Aragorn tries to give her back the Evenstar pendant. They have to have an almost metaphysical connection. Spiritual. Not specifically erotic. And I thought what they had in the movie worked.

I want to see Aragorn taming the horse on the ext-DVD.

"Frodo, this is your Sam, remember.." Ohhgod I forgot about that. LOVED that!

Viggo in GQ at the House of Telcontar

Poem for 12/18

Sam's Song
by J.R.R. Tolkien

I sit upon the stones alone;
the fire is burning red.
the tower is tall, the mountains dark;
all living things are dead.
In western lands the sun may shine,
there flower and tree in spring
is opening, is blossoming;
and there the finches sing

But here I sit alone and think
of days when grass was green;
and earth was brown, and I was young;
they might have never been
For they are past, for ever lost,
and buried here I lie.
and deep beneath the shadows sink,
where hope and daylight die.

But still I sit and think of you;
I see you far away
Walking down the homely roads
on a bright and windy day.
It was merry then when I could run
to answer to your call,
could hear your voice or take your hand;
but now the night must fall.
And now beyond the world I sit,
and know not where you lie!
O master dear, will you not hear
my voice before we die?

* * * *

I am going now. Goodbye. *g*

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Poem for Tuesday

Sonnet XX
by William Shakespeare

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all 'hues' in his controlling,
Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love, and thy love's use their treasure.


The gayest sonnet because Smallville is on tonight. And I will need to be thinking about anything other than TTT or I'll be awake all night and start crashing at 10 a.m. when I want to be perky and alert at the theater. This makes me think of Smallville too -- I think I gacked it from :

What kind of typical high school character from a movie are you?

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has been keeping me very happy. Here are the Arena scans and Empire scans from her site. Tomorrow!

Monday, December 16, 2002

Poem for Monday

From 'Second Delirium: The Alchemy Of The Word'
A Season In Hell
by Arthur Rimbaud

My turn now. The story of one of my insanities.

For a long time I boasted that I was master of all possible landscapes-- and I thought the great figures of modern painting and poetry were laughable.

What I liked were: absurd paintings, pictures over doorways, stage sets, carnival backdrops, billboards, bright-colored prints, old-fashioned literature, church Latin, erotic books full of misspellings, the kind of novels our grandmothers read, fairy tales, little children's books, old operas, silly old songs, the naïve rhythms of country rimes.

I dreamed of Crusades, voyages of discovery that nobody had heard of, republics without histories, religious wars stamped out, revolutions in morals, movements of races and continents; I used to believe in every kind of magic.

I invented colors for the vowels! A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green. I made rules for the form and movement of every consonant, and I boasted of inventing, with rhythms from within me, a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And I alone would be its translator.

I began it as an investigation. I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.

A moi. L'histoire d'une de mes folies.

Depuis longtemps je me vantais de posséder tous les paysages possibles, et trouvais dérisoires les célébrités de la peinture et de la poésie moderne.

J'aimais les peintures idiotes, dessus des portes, décors, toiles de saltimbanques, enseignes, enluminures populaires; la littérature démodée, latin d'église, livres érotiques sans orthographe, romans de nos aïeules, contes de fées, petits livres de l'enfance, opéras vieux, refrains niais, rhythmes naïfs.

Je rêvais croisades, voyages de découvertes dont on n'a pas de relations, républiques sans histoires, guerres de religion étouffées, révolutions de meurs, déplacements de races et de continents: je croyais à tous les enchantements.

J'inventai la couleur des voyelles! - A noir, E blanc, I rouge, O bleu, U vert. - Je réglai la forme et le mouvement de chaque consonne, et, avec des rhythmes instinctifs, je me flattai d'inventer un verbe poétique accessible, un jour ou l'autre, à tous les sens. Je réservais la traduction.

Ce fut d'abord une étude. J'écrivais des silences, des nuits, je notais l'inexprimable, je fixais des vertiges.


, that's for you. Here, the short short story on Rimbaud and Verlaine -- lovers, French bad boys and fantastic poets.

And here are Bag End Inn's TTT premiere pix from L.A.

Oh, this SO cannot be good, other than the getting to have sex with Kevin Sorbo thing:

Which Andromeda Bimbo of the Week are you?
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And gacked from ...I know I must have done something wrong though!

you were a monk
What were you in your past life

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Sunday, December 15, 2002

I'm baaaack...

...and I know I owe about 30 e-mails and 50 bits of fb, so I figured I'd make excuses here. *g*

Went to the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art with my husband, and (who said to pass on her apologies for all the e-mail and fb SHE owes). There was an exhibit on Victorian nudes in Brooklyn that had originated at the Tate Gallery in London that I just had to see while it was in the U.S. -- Leighton's "Bath of Psyche," Alma-Tadema's "In the Tepidarium," Waterhouse's "St Eulalia," and many other wonderful Pre-Raphaelite and Neoclassical paintings, plus some sculpture to die for (gotten over the archer yet, Shao?) And, in another gallery, an exhibit of illustrations for The Adventures of Hamza. The Met had an exhibit of Richard Avedon photographs, but my main interest was in seeing the main galleries that I've not visited since 1988 -- the French and Italian paintings, the American landscape art, the Tiffany windows, the Egyptian temple and the Frank Lloyd Wright salon that are reconstructed in the museum.

is the world's most fun person to go to a museum with -- she's smart, she's funny and she has no inhibitions about slashing painters or noticing which portraits look like Methos. She better come down to the Smithsonian soon.

Gotta go catch up on laundry, kids, etc. but I did have to note this:

what decade does your personality live in?

quiz brought to you by lady interference, ltd

Ooh yeah!

Friday, December 13, 2002

Poem for the Weekend

The Desolate Field
by William Carlos Williams

Vast and grey, the sky
is a simulacrum
to all but him whose days
are vast and grey and --
In the tall, dried grasses
a goat stirs
with nozzle searching the ground.
My head is in the air
but who am I . . . ?
-- and my heart stops amazed
at the thought of love
vast and grey
yearning silently over me.


Waah! It's Friday the 13th! And a stripey gray kitten just crossed my path, meowing...should I worry? Nah...

The two Washington Post reviews of Nemesis were so brutal that I was howling aloud as I read them. Now, I had already skimmed the novelization, which sucked, but I thought maybe it was just that J.M. Dillard can't write for shit. Now I suspect it's the screenplay itself that sucks. Maybe I'll go see Equilibrium after all -- Ebert liked that a lot better, and it has Sean Bean reading Yeats.

Speaking of whom, from The Compleat Sean Bean...a holiday card from the Macbeths!

Here's Viggo in Flaunt. I'm sure everyone has seen these already. I just love them.

Swiped from , this hilarious LOTR/Harry Potter crossover with action figures!

I'm meeting and to go to museums and hang out in New York on Saturday, so no updates till Sunday at the earliest. I'm also getting to see my sister and her family, plus one of my best friends from college. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Poem, Trent Lott and Politics as Usual

From The Tempest
by William Shakespeare

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.


America Experiences Technical Difficulties (very funny!) Courtesy .

Help People For the American Way tell Bush what we think of Trent Lott

Slate's Today's Papers points out this site as having the best coverage so far on Lott.

One of the iconic events of the civil rights era was the murder of three civil rights workers -- James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner -- in Philadelphia, Mississippi on June 21, 1964. They even made a major motion picture about it -- Mississippi Burning (1988).

"In 1989," according to a March 29th, 1999 article in The Washington Post, Trent Lott "refused to co-sponsor a congressional resolution designating June 21 as Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner Day after the three civil rights workers murdered 25 years earlier in Mississippi." The truth is that everyone who's sentient and even remotely keeps up on politics has known about this stuff for years -- at least since the last Trent Lott-segregation scandal broke back in late 1998. Sad to say, everyone just agreed not to pay attention.

-- Josh Marshall

Also, found by :
My Political Compass:
Economic Left/Right: -5.75
Authoritarian/Libertarian: -8.36
Gee, what a surprise. I swing to the left.

Last night's Enterprise review at Trek Nation...my standards must really be dropping.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

My birthday card from my beloved husband...

This is why I am so happily married. Among other reasons.

These are the inside and back of the card.

I know I owe bunches of e-mails. Will try to catch up tomorrow. XOXO everyone.

Birthday Babble

On the Beach At Night Alone
By Walt Whitman

On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different, or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann'd,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.


Okay, I am having the BEST birthday despite not even being fully awake yet at 11 a.m.

The Washington area has been blanketed in ice. The trees are coated with it; the woods look like someone has come and strung white holiday lights over every single leaf and branch. It's magnificent.

Because of this, my husband worked from home until 10 and I got to sleep late. My kids have no school, but they are down the basement playing Nintendo (usually a weekday no-no) so I have been able to read my e-mail in peace.

And oh, have I gotten presents. Which I think other people are going to enjoy as much as I do.

This is from -- an Aragorn/Boromir songvid to October Project's "Return To Me." I thought maybe it was just me being a sap and getting all weepy over this song, but I played it for and it had the same effect on her. And now my beloved Ashinae has turned it into this breathtaking, heartbreaking vid -- I'm just going to be a giant sap all day.

Then I got fic from my favorite Minions of Satan, and . Gloria wrote the beautiful, heartwarming Caradhras, a double slash-flash about my four favorite Fellowship men (or should that be 2x2...well anyway, read it and you'll understand).

And Cinzia posted Heart of Darkness. Now there can never be enough Prophecy slash, or even enough general Lucifer slash, but Cinzia knows me and Thomas all too well. It's just devastatingly perfect.

And speaking of Cinzia, who is THE worst influence in the world...she drove poor to write this spanking story even though it's not Cinzia's birthday. So there's my birthday spanking the monkey. Even though of course I don't read RPS (oh, be quiet, you).

, my oldest friend on LJ, sent me this (and in case it won't load from here, she said she hopes all my birthday wishes come true, especially the one where Viggo shows up on my doorstep dressed only in a bow). Gee, and I didn't even send her Ian Somerhalder on her birthday!

Then I got this present:
border="0" alt="Snape">
Which Harry Potter Guy are you Most
Compatible with?

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And just to make the season bright... posted all her reindeer games here and posted Billy in a kilt here!


Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Poem for Tuesday

Under the Magnolia
by Carolyn Miller

I give thanks because I do not have
a great sorrow. My village has not
burned, my child has not died, my body
is not ravaged. I sit here on the ground
lucky, lucky. Somewhere, villages are burning,
somewhere, not too far away, children
are dying; in this great urban park
painstakingly constructed over sand dunes,
people live in the flowering bushes. But
just here, in front of me, is a bride and groom;
here is a child running with
a red ball; another child is rolling on
the grass. All I have to do is to decide
how much fear to let inside my heart
in this fragile, created place, this bowl of grass
surrounded by palms and cypresses and
shaggy-barked cedars and trees
whose names I do not know, long fronds
falling, clusters of lilac fruits depending like
bouquets. All we can do is trust
that we belong here with the flowers: white
iris and Iceland poppies, a blur
of primroses, beds where flowers are
a crowd of color, where they close in the dark,
where the first light finds them starred
with dew. The trees seem to know
what I do not know; even the cultivated grass
understands some chain of being I can only
guess at, whether it is God's mind, or
the erotic body of the Goddess, or some
abstract kind of love, or
some longing for existence that includes
the fern trees, the new buds of cones on the
conifers, the white butterflies, the skating boys,
the hooked new buds of the magnolia
that look like claws holding on
to life, the curved thick petals of magnolia
in the grass, some gone to rust, some creased,
some streaked, others freckled, others magenta
at the curved stem end, others cracked,
all lined with long veins branching out
to the petal's edge.


And Now, Citizens of Maryland, including all my liberal friends who were too busy or too unconcerned to go to the polls on election day...


Ehrlich May Back Abortion Restraints
Tougher Consent Bill For Minors Possible

By Lori Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 10, 2002; Page B01

Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that he would consider supporting legislative efforts to restrict abortions in Maryland, including requirements for parental consent for underage girls.

In an interview yesterday, Ehrlich said he intends to make good on a campaign promise to keep money in the budget to pay for abortions for poor women under most circumstances. But he said his hands would be tied if antiabortion lawmakers stripped that provision from the state budget.

Ehrlich also said he would support a ban on the late-term procedure that opponents call "partial birth" abortion, a position he has consistently held in Congress but played down during the campaign.

"If a constitutional partial-birth bill makes it through [the legislature], I'll sign it," he said.

As for other restrictions, he said, "It's something we'll have to take a look at." Ehrlich urged voters to trust his judgment on the issue, saying, "My views are by any measure mainstream. We'll just take it one step at a time."

Maryland has some of the nation's most liberal laws on abortion, and opponents have failed repeatedly over the past two decades to rally support for new restrictions. But with the election of Ehrlich, the state's first Republican governor in more than three decades, abortion opponents have fresh hopes of limiting access to the procedure when the General Assembly meets next month.

Past votes have been close. In 1999, a bill that would have banned the late-term abortions passed the Senate and failed in the House by three votes. This year, a move to strip state funding for some abortions from the budget failed by a single vote in the Senate.

The state's leading antiabortion organizations, the Maryland Catholic Conference and Right to Life of Maryland, say they have yet to identify their legislative priorities. But in interviews yesterday and during the state Republican Party convention this weekend, Republican lawmakers said they would press ahead with legislation to limit access to abortion.

"The governor is clearly a moderate on right-to-life issues. But we're hoping he'll support some common-sense changes," said Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County), a leader in the antiabortion movement. "I don't expect there will be silence on this issue for four years."

Abortion rights advocates said they are alarmed by Ehrlich's willingness to consider new restrictions. Though his record in Congress is mixed on the issue, Ehrlich stated repeatedly in television ads and political mailings during the governor's race that he would protect abortion rights if elected.

"He campaigned as a fully pro-choice candidate, and we expect him to be a fully pro-choice governor," said Nancy C. Lineman, executive director of the Maryland chapter of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. "If he's not, he will hear from the pro-choice majority in Maryland -- and often."

Lineman said it was not clear whether antiabortion legislation could win approval in the General Assembly, which remains under Democratic control. The House and Senate are dominated by lawmakers who support abortion rights, including the new House speaker, Del. Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel). The former speaker, Casper R. Taylor Jr. (D-Allegany), opposed abortion. But rank-and-file lawmakers are split.

Republican lawmakers say they are likely to introduce bills in the coming session that would require minors to secure a parent's consent before receiving an abortion. Maryland law requires that doctors attempt to notify parents before performing an abortion on an unmarried woman younger than 18.

Lawmakers said they also are likely to seek a ban on partial-birth abortions, which Ehrlich has voted for in Congress as recently as July. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down Nebraska's ban on the procedure two years ago, however, and such a law would be immediately challenged if it passed in Maryland, abortion rights advocates said.

There also is strong support among Republican lawmakers to try again to ban taxpayer funding of abortion, particularly when the state is facing a projected shortfall of nearly $1.8 billion.

While the federal government bans the use of federal tax dollars for abortion, Maryland is among 16 states that allow poor women to receive the procedures at state expense in most circumstances. Six other states, including Virginia, pay for abortions in cases of rape, incest and if the woman's life or health is endangered. Last year, more than 3,300 Maryland women received abortions at state expense.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

Hmm...this will probably be illegal in Ehrlich's Maryland too...

you are gay willow
I suppose you could be really gay with this one, but it really describes
Willow's happy Tara-time. You snuggle, and make cute little sexual jokes
all the time. You and your current honey have great chemistry, which is
cool, because they are your life. Normally people would hate you for being
so happy, but they just can't.

Wanna see which Willow you are? Take the test!

I stay away from most Harry Potter fic -- I just can't handle under-age wizards doing it with over-age wizards, even when the under-age wizards have ostensibly been aged a couple of years to make them technically legal. But this morning I read a thing of true beauty: a Remus/Sirius story. With actual, umm, lupinism. (There must be a Latin term for sex with werewolves.) Anyway, this is the author's web site and she writes Smallville too. Woo hoo!

Monday, December 09, 2002

Poem for Monday

by Jon Davis

Yesterday’s snow falling again
and already. Falling steadily
among the vowels, the tall consonants.
Alertnesses scumbling among the cabbages.
The eyebrowed jay named by a man named
for a star. Stellar’s. When I say the word
the pleasure happens on my palate
and I am never the same person again.
Smoke. Granular. Piñon. Clouds
slumping into the valleys.
The idea of snow.
The actual idea. On the snow-encrypted
branches: bird-skitter. Then bird.


Courtesy , the Viggo Premiere article and commentary:

Q: What do you think makes you sexy?
VM: I don't really know how to deal with that question. I'm sure there are just as many people who think I'm a grizzled hack.
Q: I guess Brad Pitt's the pretty boy type of hunk and you're the, you know ...
VM: ... the grizzled hack version? Do you think we should play brothers or something?
Q: You should.
VM: Or lovers?
Q: Maybe lovers. Yeah.
VM: You think people would pay to see that?

Sunday, December 08, 2002

Poem for Sunday and Viggo on Charlie Rose

I woke up in a Simon and Garfunkel mood. Sometimes this happens to me. Next to Bob Dylan, Paul Simon is the most obvious choice for songwriter-who's-really-a-poet anyway. "The Mississippi delta was shining like a National Guitar" is one of my favorite descriptive phrases in all of American literature.

Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall
by Paul Simon

Through the corridors of sleep,
Past the shadows dark and deep,
My mind dances and leaps in confusion.
I don't know what is real,
I can't touch what I feel,
And I hide behind the shield of my illusion.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend with the rainfall.

The mirror on my wall
Casts an image dark and small
But I'm not sure at all it's my reflection.
I am blinded by the light
Of God and Truth and Right
And I wander in the night without direction.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend with the rainfall.

It's no matter if you're born
To play the King or pawn
For the line is thinly drawn 'tween joy and sorrow,
So my fantasy
Becomes reality
And I must be what I must be and face tomorrow.

So I'll continue to continue to pretend
My life will never end,
And flowers never bend with the rainfall.


Here's Viggo on Charlie Rose. Viggo really needs to do more talk shows...

"And there's no questions really being asked, at large, right now, about what we're doing, whereas in The Two Towers, you have different races, nations, cultures coming together, examining their conscience and unifying against the very real and terrifying enemy...that it's considered some kind of fifth column thinking, that it's treasonous, and that, you know, those attacks are used as an excuse to limit civil liberties in this country."

Also, I am in love with 's Aragorn/Boromir. Like this one. And this one.

Even if I don't end up with Aragorn, I rock. Gacked from :

What Lord of the Rings Female are you?

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Saturday, December 07, 2002

Poem for Saturday

From 'Idylls of the King'
By Alfred Lord Tennyson

And slowly answered Arthur from the barge:
'The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seest--if indeed I go
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)--
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns
And bowery hollows crowned with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.'

So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Looked one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.

But when that moan had past for evermore,
The stillness of the dead world's winter dawn
Amazed him, and he groaned, 'The King is gone.'
And therewithal came on him the weird rhyme,
'From the great deep to the great deep he goes.'

Whereat he slowly turned and slowly clomb
The last hard footstep of that iron crag;
Thence marked the black hull moving yet, and cried,
'He passes to be King among the dead,
And after healing of his grievous wound
He comes again; but--if he come no more--
O me, be yon dark Queens in yon black boat,
Who shrieked and wailed, the three whereat we gazed
On that high day, when, clothed with living light,
They stood before his throne in silence, friends
Of Arthur, who should help him at his need?'

Then from the dawn it seemed there came, but faint
As from beyond the limit of the world,
Like the last echo born of a great cry,
Sounds, as if some fair city were one voice
Around a king returning from his wars.

Thereat once more he moved about, and clomb
Even to the highest he could climb, and saw,
Straining his eyes beneath an arch of hand,
Or thought he saw, the speck that bare the King,
Down that long water opening on the deep
Somewhere far off, pass on and on, and go
From less to less and vanish into light.
And the new sun rose bringing the new year.

Which male HP character are you most compatible with?

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Go here for dancing reindeer!

Am back from my annual family Chanukah party (which had to be held this year after Chanukah ended due to local family's kids' insane schedules). Really had a nice time -- these are relatives I generally see only once or twice a year despite all good intentions to see most of them more often. Meanwhile had a lovely weepy-in-a-good-way late afternoon while getting dressed for the party thanks to and October Project. Kisses to you.

I agree with pretty much everything Viggo Mortensen said on Charlie Rose about the need to question our government. I agree with his unease with U.S. foreign policy. I very much agree with him that George Bush may be as dangerous as Saddam Hussein. I'm just a little torqued about his statement on Perceval Press's site about "the growing tensions between Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures."

"Judeo-Christian" is one of the most deadly phrases in common use today. It takes everything that is uniquely "Judeo" -- Hebrew scripture, Jewish culture, Israel -- and subsumes it under what is Christian (theologically, spiritually, culturally). ("Christian" is nowhere near monolithic enough to posit as a black-and-white contrast with "Islamic" cultures, but that's an entirely different rant, and extremists on all sides of the struggle tend to reduce the equation similarly so it's a much bigger rant.)

I'm only interested in arguing about what touches me most directly and personally, and that's the way Jewish issues and Israeli issues (which are not one and the same though they often are conflated) get shoved into the much broader set of right-wing agendas, often parallelling Christian agendas. The conflicts between Jews and Moslems in Israel have a specific set of historical and cultural causes, relatively few of which stem from theological issues or social distinctions. The conflicts between Christians and Moslems in the Middle East stem from a different set of historical and cultural issues. The conflict between the current U.S. administration and Iraq has little to do with either.

I'm not pretending that there aren't ugly political and financial issues being exploited by American Jews and Christians alike. I'm not supporting the U.S. government's policies vis a vis the people of Afghanistan, Iraq and the West Bank. But I don't think it's fair to Jews, Christians OR Moslems to reduce the various problems in widespread parts of the world to conflicts between some nonexistent "Judeo-Christian" cultures and Moslems. When it gets so reduced, it tends to be the Jews who suffer most from the illusion of this hyphen and the violence in its wake.

It's very politically correct right now to portray Israel as America's imperialist ally and to portray Jews as sharing the same goals with Christians concerning the fate of the Middle East, but the historical reality has little to do with that simplistic equation. Let's talk about what's really going on, which has nothing to do with values or spirituality and everything to do with greed and hatred -- which at least in theory are not supposed to be Jewish, Christian or Moslem values at all.

End rant. But I'm sure it'll be back. It has been over and over, over the centuries.

! Are we meeting a week from today in Metropolis?

Friday, December 06, 2002

Poem for Friday and Myth at the Multiplex

The Broken Tower
by Hart Crane

The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn
Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell
Of a spent day - to wander the cathedral lawn
From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell.

Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps
Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway
Antiphonal carillons launched before
The stars are caught and hived in the sun's ray?

The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower;
And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave
Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score
Of broken intervals ... And I, their sexton slave!

Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping
The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain!
Pagodas campaniles with reveilles out leaping-
O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain! ...

And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

My world I poured. But was it cognate, scored
Of that tribunal monarch of the air
Whose thighs embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word
In wounds pledges once to hope - cleft to despair?

The steep encroachments of my blood left me
No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower
As flings the question true?) -or is it she
Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power?-

And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes
My veins recall and add, revived and sure
The angelus of wars my chest evokes:
What I hold healed, original now, and pure ...

And builds, within, a tower that is not stone
(Not stone can jacket heaven) - but slip
Of pebbles, - visible wings of silence sown
In azure circles, widening as they dip

The matrix of the heart, lift down the eyes
That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower...
The commodious, tall decorum of that sky
Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.


Eledhwen, who writes some lovely LOTR fic, has translated the Viggo Mortensen interview from the December 2002 Studio magazine, which is in French. It's here.

From The Wall Street Journal, to make up for that Landover Baptist TTT review:

Myth at the Multiplex

Tolkien poured Christian values into a pagan world.
Friday, December 6, 2002
Wall Street Journal

The movie version of "The Two Towers" opens on Dec. 18, the second installment in what is already a blockbuster J.R.R. Tolkien film trilogy. The new movie begins (at least it did at a recent screening) by replaying part of a scene from last year's "The Fellowship of the Ring." As his companions flee, the good wizard Gandalf turns to face the demonic Balrog and yells: "You cannot pass! I am a servant of the Secret Fire!"

The line about the Secret Fire is a curious one. Gandalf certainly speaks it in Tolkien's novel, but its real meaning is never made clear on the book's pages, and certainly not on screen. That would seem to make it a prime candidate for the cutting-room floor, since director Peter Jackson must delete all kinds of material to cram Tolkien's epic into a few hours of film.

Yet the line is there--as it should be. As Bradley J. Birzer explains in "J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth" (ISI Books), it is "the most important religious statement in the book." The Secret Fire, Tolkien once told a friend, is really the Holy Spirit.

Most readers understand that "The Lord of the Rings" is more than just Harry Potter for grown-ups. Some have interpreted it as an allegory of World War II. Others have embraced its proto-environmentalism, reveled in its linguistic complexity or simply enjoyed its grand sweep and scope.

Secular readings of Tolkien, however, yield only so much. Mr. Birzer's excellent new book is the latest in a bumper crop of studies--including those by Kurt Bruner, Joseph Pearce, Mark Eddy Smith and Jim Ware--that plumb the religious meaning of Middle Earth. Thanks in part to them, it has become increasingly obvious that Tolkien deserves a place alongside T.S. Eliot, Russell Kirk and C.S. Lewis as one of the 20th century's great Christian humanists.

Tolkien's deep faith is familiar to those who know his life story. When he was eight years old, in 1900, his widowed mother converted to Catholicism, an act that made her a virtual outcast within her family. Tolkien always blamed her death four years later on the resulting stress.

The orphaned Tolkien was left in the care of a severe priest, the Rev. Francis Morgan, who nonetheless secured Tolkien's everlasting loyalty to the Catholic Church. Tolkien became a kind of evangelist among his academic friends; he was instrumental in convincing C.S. Lewis to become a Christian in 1931.

Between his Oxford lectures on medieval literature, Tolkien invented a mythology of Middle Earth. It was published posthumously as "The Silmarillion" in 1977 but written well before "The Lord of the Rings" first appeared in the 1950s; indeed, it served as a hidden backdrop to this much-loved saga. The mythology of Middle Earth was Tolkien's own creation, of course, but he strived to make it correlate to events in the Bible. He called it a "sub-creation," in deference to the real Creator.

Those who don't realize any of this may still derive enormous pleasure from "The Lord of the Rings," with its well-told tale of good vs. evil, courage vs. cowardice, redemption vs. ruin. At its core, however, the book is a piece of piety. "The Lord of the Rings," Tolkien once wrote to a Jesuit friend, is a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first but consciously in the revision."

Christians have been good at appropriating pagan traditions for their own ends--scheduling Christmas and Easter on pagan holidays, for instance. Tolkien moves in the reverse direction, taking Christian values and pouring them into a pagan world. His heroes aren't Christians because the truth of Christianity hasn't been revealed to them. But they do have inklings of it, as when Aragorn ponders mortality: "We are not bound forever to the circles of the world, and beyond them is more than memory."

Peter Jackson, the director, appears to grasp all this. His films can't be called religious, but they contain important moments of religious feeling. At the end of "Fellowship," when Aragorn looks down upon the slain Boromir, he nearly crosses himself--his gesture might best be described as a half-cross. It's a fitting symbol for Middle Earth, Tolkien's devotional sub-creation.

Mr. Miller is a writer for National Review.

And from Popular Science on the science and engineering behind The Two Towers:

Last year's biggest cinematic cliffhanger continues as the second chapter of the J.R.R. Tolkien "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Two Towers," opens this month. And its epic Battle of Helm's Deep, involving about 50,000 mostly computer-generated fighters, represents a milestone in filmmaking. The film's "crowd supervisor" Stephen Regelous, created a new software program-Massive-that generates crowds whose interaction is based not on particle dynamics, but on unique and unpredictable choices made by individual characters within a scene. For more about the fuzzy logic used to create this epic film, see Popular Science.

Also, while I'm doing public service announcements, someone on one of my mailing lists noted that Bravo's Page to Screen series will be doing Lord of the Rings starting this Monday. TV Guide description: "The adaptation of 2001's "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" is studied, using interviews and clips." It airs at 8 and 11 p.m. on Monday and at 4 p.m. on Tuesday EST.

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Harry Potter: Which Hogwarts
professor would you be?

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Thursday, December 05, 2002

Poem for Snowy Thursday

The Hunters in the Snow
by William Carlos Williams

The over-all picture is winter
icy mountains
in the background the return

from the hunt it is toward evening
from the left
sturdy hunters lead in

their pack the inn-sign
hanging from
a broken hinge is a stag a crucifix

between his antlers the cold
inn yard
is deserted but for a huge bonfire

that flares wind-driven it is tended by
women who cluster
about it to the right beyond

the hill is a pattern of skaters
Brueghel the painter
concerned with it all has chosen

a winter-struck bush for his
foreground to
complete the picture.

* * * * * * * *

Beautiful white white world out there. Still coming down pretty hard too. I am so frustrated my throat is so sore and I should probably forego sledding...

Walking Sex Vampire
What type of vampire are you?

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Did anyone tape Viggo and Elijah on Charlie Rose? Would anyone be willing to trade tape-of-tape for anything I might have? Please please write to me if so!

LOTR Fans! Go Read Today's Foxtrot!
Santa's elves and the Council of Elrond. The Top 5 Sex list, Pick-Up Lines Used By Elves, had this:
2> "Love me tender, love me sweet... See, I *am* Elvish!"

What swear word are you?

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Snicked from , another survey!

Your favorite myth: Miriam singing and dancing her way through the Red Sea
Your favorite god/dess: Shekhinah
Your favorite serial killer: The Catholic Church
Your favorite bodily organ: The clitoris, of course
Your favorite body part: Eyes
Your favorite author: Janette Turner Hospital
Your favorite obsession: In terms of longevity, Star Trek; currently, Lord of the Rings
Your favorite number: 11
Your favorite excuse: I can't answer this question, as I have to go deal with my kids
Your favorite emotion: Anticipation
Your favorite drug: Chocolate
Your favorite drink: Virgin Pina Colada
Your favorite place: By the seashore
Your favorite unattainable object: The Holy Grail
Your favorite regret: Not keeping in touch with people I really miss
Your favorite thing to hate: People who think they know what God wants for the world and try to impose it on the rest of us
Your favorite paranoia: I didn't do something that I really needed to do or call someone I really needed to call
Your favorite way to die: Direct ascension to the afterlife
Your favorite insecurity: That I'm wasting too much time doing surveys and taking quizzes
Your new favorite favorite: LiveJournal, which I'm still pretty new to
Your favorite frustration: Not enough hours in the day

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Poem for Wednesday

by Shel Silverstein

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks.
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more -- that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue --
It might be be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke --
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperaturure is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is -- what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is... Saturday?
G'bye. I'm going out to play!"


See if you can guess my mood. Trying to decide whether I need a throat culture. My throat isn't that sore, and I don't think I've been around anyone with strep, but if we get as much snow tonight as we're supposed to then I might not be able to go get a throat culture tomorrow if I decide I need one.

Quiz gacked from , who is Bert and Ernie's gay love affair, lucky girl!

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Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Poem for Tuesday

The Window
by Diane Di Prima

you are my bread
and the hairline noise
of my bones
you are almost
the sea

you are not stone
or molten sound
I think
you have no hands

this kind of bird flies backwards
and this love
breaks on a windowpane
where no light talks

this is not the time
for crossing tongues
(the sand here
never shifts)

I think
turned you with his toe
and you will
and shine
unspent and underground


Given the choices I can't decide whether this is good or bad...

Take the Hey Hey, Which Monkee Are You? Quiz

What type of Mary Sue are you?

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Monday, December 02, 2002

Poem for Monday

by Gary Miranda

What matters more than practice
is the fact that you, my audience,
are pulling for me, want me to pull
it off -- this next sleight. Now
you see it. Something more than
whether I succeed's at stake.

This talk is called patter. This
is misdirection -- how my left
hand shows you nothing's in it.
Nothing is. I count on your mistake
of caring. In my right hand your
undoing blooms like cancer.

But I've shown you that already --
empty. Most tricks are done
before you think they've started -- you
who value space more than time.
The balls, the cards, the coins -- they go
into the past, not into my pocket.

If I give you anything, be sure
it's not important. What I keep
keeps me alive -- a truth on which
your interest hinges. We are like
lovers, if you will. Sometimes even
if you don't will. Now you don't.


A teacher passed this poem out to my tenth grade English class. I believe it was originally from The New Yorker (could have been published any time in the 1970s through 1981). I saved a faded mimeograph of the poem all these years and for some reason this morning it occurred to me to go find it in my ancient file drawers in the basement. Isn't it funny the things that stick with you?

Landover Baptist 'Two Towers' Review! Landover Baptist is a parody Christian site (Fundamentalists and fans of Jerry Falwell may be offended). Lines like "Peter Jackson intentionally crosses the lines of moral decency by blurring the gender identity of the Dark Lord Sauron" and "the love affair between the hobbits, Frodo and Sam, mirrors the strained homosexual relationship between J.R.R. Tolkien and his English lover, Theologian C.S. Lewis" made me howl.

Well, you already knew that I was going to Hell, right? Click here for Erect Hobbit Penises!

Sunday, December 01, 2002

Poem for Sunday and Road to Hell

From Paradise Lost
by John Milton

Him by fraud I have seduc'd
From his Creator, and the more to increase
Your wonder, with an Apple; he thereat
Offended, worth your laughter, hath giv'n up
Both his beloved Man and all his World,
To Sin and Death a prey, and so to us,
Without our hazard, labour or allarme,
To range in, and to dwell, and over Man
To rule, as over all he should have rul'd.
True is, mee also he hath judg'd, or rather
Mee not, but the brute Serpent in whose shape
Man I deceav'd: that which to mee belongs,
Is enmity, which he will put between
Mee and Mankinde; I am to bruise his heel;
His Seed, when is not set, shall bruise my head:
A World who would not purchase with a bruise,
Or much more grievous pain? Ye have th' account
Of my performance: What remaines, ye Gods,
But up and enter now into full bliss.
So having said, a while he stood, expecting
Thir universal shout and high applause
To fill his eare, when contrary he hears
On all sides, from innumerable tongues
A dismal universal hiss, the sound
Of public scorn; he wonderd, but not long
Had leasure, wondring at himself now more;
His Visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare,
His Armes clung to his Ribs, his Leggs entwining
Each other, till supplanted down he fell
A monstrous Serpent on his Belly prone,
Reluctant, but in vaine, a greater power
Now rul'd him, punisht in the shape he sin'd,
According to his doom: he would have spoke,
But hiss for hiss returnd with forked tongue
To forked tongue, for now were all transform'd
Alike, to Serpents all as accessories
To his bold Riot: dreadful was the din
Of hissing through the Hall, thick swarming now
With complicated monsters, head and taile,
Scorpion and Asp, and AMPHISBAENA dire,
CERASTES hornd, HYDRUS, and ELLOPS drear,
And DIPSAS (Not so thick swarm'd once the Soil
Bedropt with blood of Gorgon, or the Isle
OPHIUSA) but still greatest hee the midst,
Now Dragon grown, larger then whom the Sun
Ingenderd in the PYTHIAN Vale on slime,
Huge PYTHON, and his Power no less he seem'd
Above the rest still to retain; they all
Him follow'd issuing forth to th' open Field,
Where all yet left of that revolted Rout
Heav'n-fall'n, in station stood or just array,
Sublime with expectation when to see
In Triumph issuing forth thir glorious Chief;
They saw, but other sight instead, a crowd
Of ugly Serpents; horror on them fell,
And horrid sympathie; for what they saw,
They felt themselvs now changing; down thir arms,
Down fell both Spear and Shield, down they as fast,
And the dire hiss renew'd, and the dire form
Catcht by Contagion, like in punishment,
As in thir crime. Thus was th' applause they meant,
Turnd to exploding hiss, triumph to shame
Cast on themselves from thir own mouths.

The above excerpt is in honor of and , my future cellmates in Hell.

Y'all know I wrote this little innocent *snerk* piece of Prophecy fic, "Blasphemy", right? was my beta reader.

Now has posted "Morningstar" -- please read the warnings before you read the story -- which made me hyperventilate, bang my head on the keyboard and commit various other sins of self-abuse. Under normal circumstances I would not admit to reading RPS, let alone link to it. But clearly I have been corrupted by forces of evil far beyond my own powers.

And funny thing -- was 's beta reader too.

I still haven't met the Devil, but I'm starting to think I know one of his minions awfully well. Cinz, I love you beyond all reason.