Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

By Mary Jo Bang


It’s the human side of nature: zygote to blastocyte, inertia
or standstill -- the binary character of choice. Was it bad or good
to have been ambitious? You know but refuse to say

or else choose Undecided. Regardless, your answer is silence.
Worth is the second question. Recitation (sometimes called Mantra),
the third. A practical section—eleven tasks graded by a similar

who now stands before you. Conviction will of course be measured,
counted toward a total. Do you know your lines?
Do your gestures correspond? What were you thinking?


What have I done? Key in a lock. Hand against the check -- old bone,
you are still delicate behind this skin. The children cry when they pass;
throw stones against the door. Three o’clock is all the sun they give me,

a bitter taste when I wake. Morning is a tree, a wooden box,
a black dress. Shoes. The tiny heel, nails that work their way up.
The taste of a coin caught in the throat.


She says the container is irrelevant, jar or box --
either can be lined with black glass. What escapes is the flawed
view of the face, a garbled name, the clean reversal of all
except hope -- which is gifted with symmetry and looks.


What can be weighed against attraction, irrepressible
and palpable cathexis. I wrote you, I have never moved
from perfect to perfect
. Who has? It’s the yellow-green beneath
today’s paint that hides the story’s end, the thread of all said, all done.

Even transgressions change names: this moment’s small sin
will be tomorrow’s sacred. I’ve been rereading the letters:
yours are evenly dull. Mine are a bit like true love: five shades
of gray and an opening.


Who opened these doors: turned the knobs right then left
gas mixing with whistling, a metal jackhammer breaking
the dense kitchen air? An empty cup is neither

half-full nor half-empty. She returns, bends to listen again
to what he said. Was it yesterday? Takes down the tin. Measures.
It’s difficult to say enough. To say yesterday or the day before.

He had said -- Then she had said, You see. . .
Turns her head to the kitchen white, listens to the stand pipe
directing its ration. Water once settled everything -- witches, adulterers.

Only those who swim, she thinks. Tomorrow she will try
to be beautiful for somebody else. Some other way. Today, the usual
injustices. And no one to ask after hours, May I? Can I?

If, then what will happen?


Had a quieter but still enjoyable day, getting my articles out of the way early while watching the groundhogs and bunnies out the window, taking the kids to the playground at the YMCA next door to my in-laws' development, then having brunch and going to play miniature golf. We finished just before it started to rain, and left to go home after dinner just before it started to rain, so luck was with us weather-wise. I had the best miniature golf game of my life and beat all five other members of my family. *g*

I realized that I should have squeed more about the things I liked in Cinderella Man rather than muttering about things that have bothered me in every single Hollywood movie I have seen this year, namely: can't anyone write women for shit, why are there so many cliches in film scripts and why must big-name directors retread things they've done instead of taking more interesting risks. The kids are wonderful, which is often not the case in movies with children (I don't-want to see Dakota Fanning almost as much as I don't-want to see Tom Cruise in War of the Worlds), and Russell is completely adorable with them. My absolute favorite scene in the movie is one between Braddock and his older son. The politics, which make pointed references to the current administration as well as the Hoover administration, are quite pleasing though I almost wish they hadn't been kept at the level of metaphor-for-modern-era because the details in the Depression are so important and it makes everything more clear and vivid when one really sees how people lived with absolutely nothing. And there's some very nice, subtle humor between the characters that makes Braddock very likeable. I want to see this one again despite the boxing, and believe me that's saying something.

I read Jasper Fforde on the way home from Pennsylvania, when I stopped looking at the gorgeous post-rain clouds, and have to quote my favorite line from the whole Thursday Next series so far, from The Well of Lost Plots: "Reading is arguably a far more creative and imaginative process than writing; when the reader creates emotion in their head, or the colors of the sky during the setting sun, or the smell of a warm summer's breeze on their face, they should reserve as much praise for themselves as they do for the writer -- perhaps more." This is making me want to reread both Stanley Fish and The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon. I am sleepy, so I shall leave with some prettiness...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Poem for Monday

A Dialogue of Watching
By Kenneth Rexroth

Let me celebrate you. I
Have never known anyone
More beautiful than you. I
Walking beside you, watching
You move beside me, watching
That still grace of hand and thigh,
Watching your face change with words
You do not say, watching your
Solemn eyes as they turn to me,
Or turn inward, full of knowing,
Slow or quick, watching your full
Lips part and smile or turn grave,
Watching your narrow waist, your
Proud buttocks in their grace, like
A sailing swan, an animal,
Free, your own, and never
To be subjugated, but
Abandoned, as I am to you,
Overhearing your perfect
Speech of motion, of love and
Trust and security as
You feed or play with our children.
I have never known any
One more beautiful than you.


Quick report on very full but highly enjoyable day. Despite being on vacation I got up early to go to church with my in-laws, because St. Matthew Lutheran of Hanover has the seventh largest organ in the world, had a local-born renowned soprano singing with the choir and has stained glass windows that rival some of the ones we saw in England (being Jewish, church for me is all about the beauty and pageantry; stayed home with the kids). We came back for brunch and so I could rush through writing two articles, then drove to Harrisburg, where we went to Wildwood Lake Sanctuary to see the many waterfowl and wetlands plants (photos below).

We had dinner at a Chinese buffet and then went to the sneak preview of Cinderella Man which we all enjoyed enormously for a variety of reasons -- my father-in-law because he grew up reading about Jim Braddock, my mother-in-law because she liked the Depression recreation, my kids because they thought the boxing was exciting (*cringe*) and were charmed by Braddock's relationship with his kids, and me mostly because Russell Crowe was fantastic, though there was a lot else to enjoy as well: the cinematography was excellent, Renee Zellwegger was quite good despite having some dialogue nearly as bad as Natalie Portman's in Revenge of the Sith -- I must beg again, can't ANYONE write dialogue for women for shit in Hollywood? I am thinking that I actually must like Renee, because I've managed not to despise her despite the kind of material she's had to work with in the films in which I've seen her.

But back to Russell -- he managed to sound convincingly like he was from New Joisey for most of the film, he underplayed emotional scenes that would have been intolerable if he came on any stronger given the boo-hoo dialogue, and he looked amazing -- I don't mean hot-amazing as boxing muscles and bruises don't do a thing for me, but his physical presence in the ring and in schlub clothes in the dock scenes was equally intense. It's hard for me to watch boxing even when I know how the matches will end, and in this case I not only knew the results but the injuries to expect -- still, I couldn't look away. The supporting cast was all good, the preview was sold out and the audience applauded at the end...big mix, quite a few women in singles and pairs who growled and snarled their way to the front of the line even though we were there more than an hour before the show because they were NOT going to be deprived of their Russell by ANYONE, a few couples, a number of people over 50, pretty equal numbers of men and women apart from the ones who made it clear from their conversation that they were there to see the star more than the story.

Like Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man reminded me of The Natural, and of Seabiscuit itself, only with far more of an emphasis on hard work and commitment rather than fate and myth which I rather appreciated. It was a tough time to be an American, and Braddock talked about how it was easier facing people trying to smack you down in the ring where at least you could see who your adversaries were...fairly predictable but nicely done, which I'd say about most Ron Howard movies. Look, I love sports movies (Field of Dreams is one of my all time favorites despite the Costner factor), I love historical biopics, I love Russell...the things going for this movie were far greater than the things I was likely to hold against it, boxing or no boxing.

There were Cinderella Man pictures in three sections of the Sunday Washington Post and in USA Weekend which my in-laws get with The Evening Sun, which had a delectable Christian Bale on the cover. Also, I finished Lost in a Good Book and started The Well of Lost Plots on the drive, and saw numerous groundhogs and rabbits before we left, along the drive and in the front yard when we got back (well, just the bunnies that late). Monday the kids are angling for miniature golf and we are angling for the state park, so we shall see who comes on more strongly in the morning...happy Memorial Day.

An egret in the water at Wildwood Lake Sanctuary. We also saw a great blue heron, but it was so perfectly camouflaged when standing still that I couldn't get a clear photo from the distance.

Baby birds in a nest in the rafters of the bird blind...

...seen here from the boardwalk at the outskirts of the wetlands.

To the right of the bushes in the water, a mother duck and little ducklings.

A red-winged blackbird on a branch in front of dry cattails.

And a little bird with a bug in its beak on a branch over the creek.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Poem for Sunday

Keeping Things Whole
By Mark Strand

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, Robert Pinsky's tribute to Cliff Becker, the administrator of the National Endowment for the Arts who died tragically at 40 earlier this year. Pinsky calls him "a genuine public servant" and notes that he worked to get the Favorite Poem Project underway, which included high school students and cab drivers as well as cabinet members and university presidents. Becker read this Strand piece at a Favorite Poem reading at the Library of Congress where Pinsky saw him in 1999.

I am in Pennsylvania, where I have spent a lovely day with my in-laws. After a big lunch we went to Hanover Shoe Farms, which breeds horses for harness racing and has a stable full of famous stallions ($20,000 fee for their top stud, though he's booked for the season) and two barns full of mares who are either expecting momentarily or who have given birth within the past week, so there are many adorable colts around. I have issues with racing both in terms of the animals and in terms of local politics (as in Maryland there's a big push to fund schools up here with gambling revenues, which is a terrible idea on a whole host of levels), but the animals on this farm are extremely well cared for and their stalls are clean and bright, so it's a pleasure to go see them...more than some local stables near home where the horses are penned in very small space between riding lessons.

In the afternoon we stopped at a hobby store - my father in law is a big model train enthusiast, and he needed some switches for his tracks, while I am always happy to go look at the model ships, as are my children - then came back to barbecue. Maximus the groundhog apparently has at least two wives and four babies, and they were all out running around behind the houses, as were two rabbits, numerous little birds and several ducks, so we spent a fun evening watching all the animals and one of the spectacular sunsets that the flat farmland around Hanover affords. Considering that we drove up in pouring rain, the weather turned gorgeous. By chance we found Galaxy Quest on TNT at 8 and watched it while I wrote up a George Takei interview that I couldn't post because I forgot the database passwords -- Christian, if you are reading this, I e-mailed it to you so please let me know if for some reason the attachment didn't stay attached! My mother in law is knitting Marvins from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for me and the kids, and worked on these while we watched, so I had a very Alan Rickman squee-filled evening.

Two days old and already standing this tall -- looking at the pregnant mares, I don't understand how these legs fit inside them!

Three-day-old filly, daughter of Sharkette Spur.

Two-day-old filly, daughter of Ballroom Princess.

This horse lost her foal and is nursing this colt whose mother was unable to nurse him.

Allamerican Native, a divisional champion stallion, more than a million dollars in prizes as a two-year-old, set a record in the Woodrow Wilson stakes in a win by eight lengths, but that wasn't the length that impressed my children. *g*


Two members of Maximus' family and two bunnies on the hill near the house.

As you can see, fear of humans and their habitations is not a problem for the groundhogs. They don't even worry about Ginger, my in-laws' aging beagle.

Sunday we are planning a long day -- I want to go to church with my in-laws to hear the organ, which is the fourth largest in North America and has a very famous organist playing, then we are driving to Harrisburg for a variety of activities. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Poem for Saturday

The Inn
By Emmanuel Moses

A little wine
on this deep wound
that opens in the evening
when outside the cars honk
and passerbys laugh
shouting to one another
animated by a gaity
incomprehensible to the one
who watches from behind the shutters.

He daydreams, suddenly absent-minded,
of that woman he met two days before
and murmurs her limpid name
to hear it spread through the bedroom.

Suffering comes from elsewhere,
what matter if is reflected
in each word
he has learned a certain number of
helped by aging,
noteably that it’s necessary to love
who’s with us, who goes before
and awaits us,
seated at the nocturnal inn.


Still not organized. Cleaned up a bit as parents were coming for dinner, not, I'm sure, that they noticed. Found out that I am the Good Daughter this week as sister was beastly to them while they were visiting her, so suspect filthy house has been excused anyway. Sons had friends over after school, distracting me which caused me to miss The Making of 'Cinderella Man' on HBO at 4; fortunately it is on again on Sunday and Tuesday. Wrote a retro review of "Charlie X", which I must say has held up astonishingly well -- I was all ready for it to be awful and embarrassing, but it didn't play that way at all. It's funny how I'll excuse things in the '60s version of Star Trek that I absolutely cannot bear on TNG or later. Parents arrived for dinner, which cooked (chicken marsala, some kind of long-grain rice, German chocolate cake...I have a wonderful husband). We sang Happy Birthday to my father, watched Return of the Jedi to complete the Star Wars cycle, then I tried to get organized to go to Pennsylvania for the weekend. Have not succeeded much at the latter.

Jedi is as mediocre as I remembered, particularly coming so soon after Empire, but I must admit that in this case I am completely in favor of Special Editions -- the loss of the Ewok "celebrate the Lord" song alone makes all other changes worthwhile. (I also must confess that I really like the Jabba the Hutt scene in A New Hope, where Han steps on Jabba's tail to get to the Falcon; Greedo shooting first just doesn't bother me enough to compel me to boycott the revised movie.) The new, improved ending of Jedi with fireworks over Naboo, Coruscant etc. struck me as phenomenally silly the first time I saw it but watching it again at the end of the arc I must admit that I rather like having it there. I'm the kind of writer who pics at every story I've ever written every time I read them, so I can't really blame Lucas for monkeying, though I do wish he'd release both versions on DVD so people can choose between the one they remember and the one Lucas himself prefers. Oh, and aww, Darth Vader makes Michael Rosenbaum cry! Now, I wonder whether Lucas actually had to pay him to say it was the best day of his life or whether any day of being wined and dined and given toys at Neverland Skywalker Ranch would do that. I did a poll at TrekToday on which was the best SW movie, and to my surprise TPM and AOTC are way behind ROTJ, though TESB is easily on top...I wonder whether this is an effect of age and nostalgia rather than anything objective.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early, drive to Pennsylvania and go to the horse farm after lunch. Hopefully I will see Maximus (the groundhog) and his collection of wives and babies! Sunday we may go to a nature preserve or if the weather's icky we might go to Harrisburg to a museum or if we can't decide we may go to Hershey to the zoo, and Monday the kids are campaigning for miniature golf. So I have to pack for all these possibilities.

The river rushing under the ruins, Fountains Abbey.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Poem for Friday

I Feel As Lit By Fire
By Michelangelo Buonarroti
Translated by Michael Sullivan

I feel as lit by fire a cold countenance
That burns me from afar and keeps itself ice-chill;
A strength I feel two shapely arms to fill
Which without motion moves every balance.
Unique spirit and my minds sole tendance,
Who is undying yet others seeks to kill,
I find one binds my heart, unbound his will,
And for who gladdens only I feel grievance.
How can it be, lord, that a face so lovely
Should work on mine in contrary fashion,
For who has no ill can hardly others harm?
To the glad life that's taken from me,
It behaves, save you forbid it, like the sun,
It heats the world and yet itself's not warm.


Poem snicked from , because she wrote Smallville fic that made me very happy. Read it here: "Front Porch".

I had a very nice Thursday, relatively calm, got all my work done, bought laundry detergent and new batteries for my son's camera, didn't overeat, and introduced my kids to the wonder that is The Star Wars Pants Page -- okay, the joke is kind of old but they'd never seen it before and we had hysterical laughter filling the house for hours, as they proceeded to pants The Wizard of Oz and Enterprise and other things that to the best of my knowledge had not yet been pantsed. (I know there is a Lord of the Rings pants page and thought there was a more complete one than this one, does anyone know where?) This all started because it was time to watch The Empire Strikes Back, so that tomorrow night we can watch Return of the Jedi and have done the six in two weeks. My children have announced that they prefer CGI Yoda to Puppet Yoda, which is a great disappointment to me, but otherwise it has been enormous fun sharing this with my kids.

Before all this I had lunch with , after which we walked around the lake near the multiplex to see the small creatures in the photos below -- in addition to the eight fluffy babies there were a whole gaggle of adolescent geese in the water, plus a great many ducks and grownup geese honking for food. I promised some photos for her kids so here they are. Weather does not get any more gorgeous in this area so it was a perfect day for this. We had the usual late Thursday craziness taking one son to violin while picking the other up from the late bus, then we had leftovers for dinner, but will make up for it later since it's my father's birthday Saturday and since we are going to be away, we are having a big dinner with my parents ( is cooking and making German chocolate cake, I so love being married to a man who likes to cook).

There is a lovely photo of Judi Dench and Maggie Smith from The Washington Post as well as this discussion on the subtext of their new film, Ladies In Lavender, by reporter Peter Marks, which totally cracked me up:

I innocently suggest that in the first few minutes of Ladies in Lavender, before we know they are sisters, the nature of the relationship between Dench's character and Smith's remains vague, and that "lavender" is a color suggestive of a certain type of love.

At the outset, the actresses are seen walking together on a beach. "The first scene," I point out, "ends with the two of you going up the stairs to bed."

The women stare back at me incredulously.

"Oh, please!" Dench declares. "You're filthy-minded!"

Smith chimes in, in her best Miss Jean Brodie voice: "You've got a dirty, filthy mind!"

A publicist, sitting with another publicist at a table in the room, cheerfully interjects that there is a magazine in Minnesota called Lavender, devoted to gay and lesbian issues.

"I tried to change the title," Dance says.

"Yes, you were told!" Smith says.

"No, Charlie!" Dench says.

That, anyway, is what my tape recorder claims was spoken. In an effort to steer the discussion in some direction, I ask, "Is it because of English lavender in the countryside?"

Smith replies, "It means ladies who are slightly past it."

Ah. I try, once more, to excuse my initial minutes of misapprehension about the film.

"I think it's the way your mind works!" Smith says. "What a squalid -- "

And yeah, I'm still behind on comments and stuff, and that probably isn't going to be remedied till next week because we're going out of town for the weekend. Hope everyone who celebrates Memorial Day has fun plans!

And a ladybug encounters her own reflection on a leaf.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

My (Brief) Tarot Notes

All interpretations based on the Rider-Waite Deck.

0 -- The Fool: The "expect the unexpected" card -- a figure flamboyantly dressed, off on a journey with only a small satchel and a loyal dog, looking over the edge of a cliff on a sunny day with a blooming flower. In contemporary language "fool" suggests someone who is either simple or silly, though it can also mean madman, trickster, goof, clown, cockeyed optimist -- for better or worse it suggests fearlessness, disregard for the strictures of convention, committment to walking one's own path. In many Tarot decks The Fool appears to be a professional entertainer -- someone who dresses and behaves like a jester. In the Rider-Waite deck, The Fool is a voyager, an ordinary person about to set off on an extraordinary adventure. Because this card has no number, it suggests complete openness, a future yet to be written and a past whose meaning is not set in stone. To me it suggests spontaneity, freedom, being receptive to new ideas and events.

I -- The Magician: In a flowering garden, an androgynous-looking figure holds a wand in the air. The symbols of the Tarot (and of the elements) are arranged on an engraved table in the foreground. An infinity symbol floats just above the head of the Magician, who wears a focused expression as well as a snake belt -- perhaps an ouroboros? Though the Magician would appear to wield power, one gets the impression that careful preparations must be made beforehand -- the elements carefully balanced. The card's number is 1, which could represent unity or self-sufficiency but could also suggest incompletion for someone seeking to belong to a partnership or group. One gets the impression that The Magician's fate is in his or her own hands, but great concentration and devotion may be necessary to bring all the elements together for a desired outcome.

II -- The High Priestess: In the Rider-Waite deck, a classical image in blue robes sits on what appears to be a throne. Many symbols suggest traditional femininity -- the rippling material of the gown, the crescent moon under her feet, the fertile fruit images in the background. The blue and white of the dress give an impression of flowing water and suggest both a wedding gown and traditional paintings of the Virgin Mary. On her head rests a triple crown, which could represent the Trinity, the Papacy, or the archetypes of the Virgin, Mother and Crone -- the Morrigan, the Triple Goddess. On her chest the High Priestess wears a simple cross of uncertain origin, which makes her look a bit like a Papess but might represent perpendicular forces, the union of matter and energy. On her lap, half hidden in her cloak, she holds a scroll marked "TORA" which is probably a portion of the Torah. She sits between two pillars, one dark, one light, which are marked with the letters B and J. I have read that the letters stand for their Hebrew equivalents, bet and yod, for boaz and yochin, strength and wisdom -- I know there are many Kabbalistic associations with this card -- but with so many Renaissance Christian images, I also think of Beelzebub and Jehovah. At any rate the two pillars could represent devil and angel, yin and yang, male and female, war and peace, moon and sun, love and hate, might and mercy, heaven and hell, good and evil, or any other duality. This is a card I have often heard associated with psychic or supernatural powers, but to me it is directly spiritual -- the power of faith and whatever the querent interprets as his or her "feminine" aspect. I don't like to make generalizations about what qualifies as intrinsically "feminine" because so many of those associations are culturally determined, and the dualities can become troublingly reductive.

III -- The Empress: A beautiful, mature woman in a flowing gown decorated with flowers holds a scepter over her head. On the ground below her is a stone with the symbol of femininity or Venus carved into the shape of a heart. She lounges on comfortable cushions in a thriving wheat field with summer trees growing behind her and a stream running through the woods. Everything about the image suggests fertility, abundance, sensual pleasure, maternity, and the wisdom and power of women as they mature.

IV -- The Emperor: An older man in rich robes sits on a throne decorated with the heads of rams. In one hand he holds an ankh-headed scepter; in the other, a golden globe that might represent the world. The image suggests balance and diplomacy, stability and power, confident male sexuality, yet also patriarchal judgment, a very traditional, hierarchical mindset in which roles like servant and master, husband and wife are not flexible.

V -- The Hierophant: Flanked by monks or acolytes, a pope sits on a throne wearing an ornate headdress and holding a golden scepter. Like the High Priestess, pillars surround him, yet unlike the High Priestess there are no arcane markings carved into them. A pair of keys cross beneath his feet. The image suggests formal religion rather than spirituality, with all the trappings of orthodoxy. The figure's power is absolute, but that is because of the prestige accorded him by those who revere his position.

VI -- The Lovers: A couple -- most likely Adam and Eve -- stand naked and unashamed in a garden under a cloud with an angel above it. Behind Eve, apples hang heavy on the Tree of Knowledge and the snake winds around it. Behind Adam, fruit like flames burst from the Tree of Life. This is love before the fall, with no shame affixed to sexuality and a sense of higher purpose in the union; the lovers do not look at one another but together regard the heavens. The sun shines brightly, but the presence of the snake suggests that this happy, innocent state will not last and the suffering of exile and childbirth, as well as the annoying mundane aspects of everyday relationships, will soon intrude. The card also serves as a reminder of how many outside forces exert influences on relationships, for Adam and Eve are never truly alone to explore their feelings.

VII -- The Chariot: An attractive young prince stands in a carriage drawn by black-and-white sphinxes. A star adorns his crown and crescent moons emphasize his shoulders. Exuding confidence and determination, he could be either leaving for or returning from battle or a trading voyage. The card suggests both assertiveness and pride, with undertones of aggression and hubris. The charioteer may have the world at his feet right now, but he has no way of knowing what may happen to his home in his absence.

VIII -- Strength: A young woman dressed in white with garlands around her head and waist puts her hands on the mane of a roaring lion. Obviously she has courage and power, though it may be her innocence that makes her so brave. The infinity symbol over her head suggests that she is connected with forces beyond her own will. The card suggests bravery that borders on foolhardiness, and strength that comes from being generous and gentle rather than overtly forceful.

IX -- The Hermit: Against a dark, forbidding background, a hooded old man carrying a staff holds a light before him yet regards the icy ground. The image suggests isolation, secrecy, privacy, disguise, and perhaps loneliness.

X -- Wheel of Fortune: Surrounded by symbols of power including a sword-wielding sphinx, a serpent, and various winged animals reading books, a great wheel hangs in the sky. Its markings include Alpha and Omega, the Hebrew initials of God's name, and staffs bearing astrological symbols. The implication is that what goes around comes around, that destiny and fortune are to some extent dependent on luck, and that there is little point in trying to fight the elements. But since the snake appears to be moving downwards on its own power, one might interpret that to mean that people sometimes choose when they fall, and that the universe is basically a benevolent place filled with guardian spirits.

XI -- Justice: An androgynous figure wearing a crown and rich robes holds an upright double-edged sword in one hand and the scales of justice balanced in the other. A curtain behind him veils what lies beyond. The figure's expression is stern but not unkind, and the colors suggest royalty and wealth; the pillars, which might represent extremes in one's life, also echo those on the High Priestess and Hierophant cards, linking the concept of justice to spirituality and formal religious authority (i.e. God's judgment). The card could indicate either the positive traits of equity and fairness or a negative, rigid insistence on legality. Truth can bring harmony and balance to one's life, but an insistence on the letter of the law for oneself or for others can bring needless suffering.

XII -- The Hanged Man: A figure clothed in blue hangs upside down, tied by one foot to a pair of crossed tree branches. The legs are crossed as well. He appears relaxed, pensive, not at all terrified or in pain. It's hard to look at the image and not think of traditional portrayals of Christ on the cross, particularly since the man has a halo. The card suggests a trial, sacrifice, or perhaps a self-chosen period of struggle to gain altered perspectives and new insights. Because of the religious associations, it also suggests being scapegoated, taking an unpopular position, being isolated. In either case the approach seems to be calm, rational meditation.

XIII -- Death: A skeletal figure in black armor rides a white horse over the fallen body of a king, whose crown lies on the ground beside him. A religious figure robed in gold stands with his hands clasped, praying, as a suffering woman and small child kneel. The sun is setting behind the castle in the background; crosses, presumably tombstones, dot the land between the figures and the sea. The card symbolizes an irrevocable ending, a conclusion, the inevitability of decay, the fact that kings, popes and commoners are all equals in the dust. Yet the flower on the flag shows layers of petals unfolding layer upon layer, which makes me think of the old adage about how every time a door closes, a window opens; the possibility of a newer, better tomorrow can only exist if today comes to an end.

XIV -- Temperance: An angelic figure with a halo, wearing white robes, stands in a stream pouring water from one chalice into another without losing any drops. In the background, flowers bloom as the sun rises over the mountains. The image suggests completion, self-containment or self-sufficiency, moderation, skilled management of resources; it also suggests these things as inner qualities, balance, self-love, satisfaction with one's assets.

XV -- The Devil: A bearded male figure with horns, pointed ears, bat-wings and talons sits on a pedestal holding an inverted torch; an inverted pentacle rests over his forehead, his fingers are spread in the Hebrew priestly blessing. A horned man and woman, each of whom has a tail, are chained to the pedestal. Visually the card appears to be the inverse of The Lovers, with a demonic rather than angelic figure dominating the dark background; the man holds a hand toward the woman and appears to be looking at her rather than at the heavens. This is love after the fall, invested in carnality. The flames on the torch and the man's tail suggest painful passions, while the woman's fruit-filled tail suggests both fertility and decadence. This card could denote uncontrolled desire, being imprisoned by lust or greed, marriage or some other relationship as a prison, the dangers of following the wrong path. Yet there is nothing overtly violent in the image, though it is animalistic and dark; it is a reminder that passion, force and vehemence can be very powerful tools, though dangerous.

XVI -- The Tower: Against a black sky, a tall structure has been struck by lightning. Flames shoot from the roof as fire consumes the windows. A king and a robed man fall toward the rocks below as a giant crown topples from the roof. The image suggests sudden calamity, abrupt and irrevocable change, a violent shift for which no one could be prepared and which no amount of bolstering could prevent. Psychologically it would seem to indicate a painful change of perspective, the toppling of old hopes and expectations, and a need to rebuild from the ashes.

XVII -- The Star: A naked woman kneels beside a pool, pouring water onto the ground and into the water. Above her head, a large eight-pointed star dominates the bright sky, with seven smaller stars surrounding it. Flowers bloom beneath her feet; a bird spreads its wings in a nearby tree. The card would seem to suggest bright prospects, self-sufficiency, a benevolent and safe locale. On the other hand, such a bright star in broad daylight might seem to some to be a disturbing omen, and the woman may be wasting her bounty; only the star knows what might lurk behind the nearby dark mountain.

XVIII -- The Moon: Between two towers, a dog and a wolf howl at a bright moon lighting the sky as if it were daytime. A scorpion crawls from the water. This moon looks neither feminine nor benevolent, though the moon is often associated with the Goddess, women's rites, the dark sacred night of renewal and regeneration. The emotional moon lights the path, revealing what is hidden -- the good and the bad.

XIX -- The Sun: A crowned child holding a red flag rides a pony before a wall lined with sunflowers; a brilliant sun lights the sky above. Because of the crown, the child might be the Son as well as the sun; his nudity suggests the reversal of the fall and the shame and separation from joy that followed. But the sun looks stern, suggesting that this sort of happiness is contingent upon remaining within the wall, obeying the rules.

XX -- Judgement: An angel blows a horn as the dead rise from coffins floating on the sea. The figures are gray, and the mountains in the background icy-white; though they have been reborn, the promised renewal has not yet occurred. This is a moment of clarity and hope, but also deliberation and sentencing; it is time to take stock of one's life and make choices as if this were the moment for measuring one's contributions.

XXI -- The World: A naked woman wrapped in a purple cloth holds wands of power at the center of a green wreath. Floating between clouds, she is surrounded by the heads of a man, an eagle, a bull and a lion. The symbols could represent many things: heart, mind, body, soul; carnality, intellect, emotion and spirit; wit, determination, stubbornness and strength; perhaps the conflict between higher mind and lower physical urges. If the central figure can possess and integrate all these qualities, she will be powerful yet balanced, successful, secure no matter how her circumstances change.

Decks I Have:

Rider Waite (Colman Smith-Waite)
Universal Waite (Colman Smith/Waite/Hanson-Roberts)
Quick and Easy (Universal Waite with readings)
Tarot Affirmations (Universal Waite with poems)
Epicurean (Universal Waite with recipes)
Tiny Tarot (Universal Waite)
Swiss IJJ
Thoth (Crowley-Harris)
El Gran Tarot Esoterico
Mythic (Burke-Greene)
Sacred Circle (Franklin-Mason)
Greenwood (Ryan-Potter)
Robin Wood
Nigel Jackson
Art Nouveau (Castelli)
Art Nouveau (Myers)
Cloisters (Leavitt)
Crystal (Trevison)
Golden (Black)
Gilded (Marchetti)
Medieval Scapini
Quest (Martin)
World Spirit (Lauren O'Leary)
Revelations (Wong)
Merlin (Stewart and Gray)
Arthurian (Matthews)
Avalon (Viglioglia)
Glastonbury (Tenzin-Dolma)
Legend Arthurian (Ferguson-Garrison)
Llewellyn (Ferguson)
Faery Wicca (Stepanich-Yates)
Druidcraft (Carr-Gomm and Worthington)
Forest Folklore (Beverley-Smith)
Norse (Barrett)
Runic (Smith/Astrop)
William Blake (Buryn)
Shakespearean (Ashcroft-Nowicki)
Jane Austen (Wilkes & Airaghi)
Wonderland (Christopher and Morgana Abbey)
Baseball (Lerner)
Baseball (Kasher-Ransom)
Zerner-Farber (Zerner)
Enchanted (Zerner)
True Love (Zerber)
Tarot de Paris (Martin)
Wonderland (Christopher and Morgana Abbey)
Shapeshifter (Conway)
Celestial (Conway)
Cosmic (Loesche-Huets)
Moon Garden (Sweikhardt)
Halloween (Lee-West)
Tarot For Cats (Dennis-West)
Gatti (Menegazzi)
Tarot of the Cat People (Kuykendall)
Baroque Bohemian Cats (Mahony)
The Fairytale Tarot (Mahony)
Dragon (Pracownik)
Manga (Selena Lin)
Osho Zen (Osho-Padma)
Chinese (Jui Guoliang)
Santa Fe
Ancient Minchiate Etruria
Minchiate Tarot of the Renaissance (Williams)
The Da Vinci Tarot (McElroy)
Erotic (Manara)
Casanova (Raimondo)
Kamasutra (Lo Scarabeo)
Tarot Erotica (Walls)
Lovers (Lyle)
The Lover's Path (Waldherr)
Goddess (Waldherr)
Animals Divine (Hunt)
Celtic Dragon (Hunt)
Celtic (Gaudenzi-Tenuta)
Motherpeace (Vogel-Noble)
Daughters of the Moon
Barbara Walker
Victoria Regina
Lord of the Rings (Donaldson)
Oz (Sexton)
Lord of the Rings (Movie photos, Chinese text)
Tarot Nova
My Tarot (Burke-Caselli)
Star Trek (Personal-Anderson/Green)
Voyager (Personal-Rush/Green)
Barbie (Personal-Green)
Minimalist (Personal-Green)

Decks I Covet:

Tarocco delle Vetrate (Scapini)
Tarocchi di Giulietta e Romeo (Scapini)
Victorian Romantic (Mahony)
Fantastic Menagerie (Grandville, Mahony)
Prague (Mahony)
Witches (Cannon Reed)
Holy Grail (Matthews)
Miracle (Shimuzi)
Voyager (Wanless)
Marseille Mini
Dali (Dali)
Gill (Gill)
Fenestra (Chatriya)
78 Doors (Platano)
Renaissance (Williams)
Cosmic Tribe (Postman)
Whimsical (Morrison)
Universal Goddess (Lo Scarabeo)

Poem for Thursday

Brown Recluse
By Elizabeth Gold

Brown Recluse--(Loxoscelidae, order Araneida, Reclusa) a species of spider, originally
from Mexico, now common in the southern and western United States. Has a dark
violin-shaped design on its back. Is often found under stones or in dark corners inside
buildings. Its bite destroys the walls of the blood vessels near the site of the bite, some-
times causing a skin ulcer several inches in diameter. The wound, which may require
several months to heal, is occasionally fatal.

What do you want me to do? Apologize?
I didn't invite you in.
You’re the one who should say it:

When you live alone so long
you get your own way of doing things.
Want your splinter, knot, whorl
and root, arranged just so.
I hang my hammock in a corner
of the dining room. Feast alone.
Nights skunks cavort, possums
trail naked tails over the grass.
I bolt the door.
Play the fiddle on my back.
Old Mexican melodies, songs
I can hardly remember, plaints
of sugar and dust.
I go to bed.

You held out your hand.
What do you think you were asking for?
A Monarch, wrapped in his cloak
of sunset? A Ladybug,
in her mantilla of black spots?
I slide poison under your skin.
Teach you what it's like
to die a little.
You won’t forget me.
I give so much, for what?
If you don't want love,
don't touch me. Don't
touch me.


It's been a rather exciting evening, not in a good way. We had plans to go out to dinner with my father and had talked about California Pizza Kitchen in the mall, but we had all been there recently and though the kids wanted pizza (they always want pizza), we opted for Hamburger Hamlet. I had a wonderful big chicken caesar salad which I shared with younger son, who also had a hot dog, while everyone else had various burger sandwiches. On the way home there was a great deal of traffic passing the mall, with at least four fire trucks in front of Nordstrom and cars being directed away; we wondered whether there had been a fire. When we got home and watched the news, we learned that a woman had stabbed two people (apparently at random) in Nordstrom and there had been chaos in the mall. This is rather freaking me out, as I go to that mall quite often, usually with my kids.

Before that my day was relatively quiet, though something of a pain in the ass as I was trying to organize my younger son's bedroom, having concluded that he couldn't really be expected to clean it since he barely had room to walk through all the clutter and he will never willingly part with anything, not even McDonald's Happy Meal toys he got five years ago. I barely made a dent in the chaos. Then I had to write three articles, two of which were long ones on all the work Kate Mulgrew and Patrick Stewart have been doing, for which trouble I got a bitchy note from one of the Save Enterprise leaders saying that in the interests of fairness I should also have covered Scott Bakula singing at his daughter's alma mater. I also got a staggering amount of hostile mail over the fact that in a recent article I spelled Chekhov "Chekov" (an honest error as my spell check has all the Star Trek characters in its custom dictionary, but not most major literary figures as I haven't written about most of them since grad school). I've been sort of fandom-apathetic all month, as I'm sure people have noticed, but right now I am in a "Trekkies are every bit as pathetic as their reputations" mood -- I have never witnessed the same level of hostility and immaturity in LOTR or even HP, where one might expect juvenile behavior, given that many of the fans are actually juveniles!

And it seems I am to be thwarted at every turn in my desire to see Cinderella Man ASAP, as there will be preview screenings all over the place this Sunday -- including my local multiplex -- but not at the theaters near my in-laws! Woe! Okay, this is a very small and petty frustration, but it does not make my day any better thinking about it. I think I shall turn in early again, as I have my usual early Thursday to face, the national political news continues to be unpleasant and I have nothing to say about the Lost or Alias finales even though I did watch the last five minutes of the latter (someone tell me if they think it's going to turn out that Michael is Sydney's brother, which is what my husband and I both yelled at the screen when we heard the final line -- "My name's not Michael Vaughn...and I'm your brother!" I am sure it's something else entirely but if it turns out that I missed a series with actual sibling incest, I am going to be bummed, as well as feeling like a pervert for it). Instead I watched "Charlie X" for my weekly retro review, which I enjoyed a lot despite the Janice Rand factor. But don't worry, I'm sure my mail will have ruined it for me by the weekend. See, I am cranky and awful and going to bed, and hoping the news will be better all around in the morning!

This is not a brown recluse, obviously; it's a praying mantis. My father was once bitten by a brown recluse in his garage and ended up in the hospital, so wonderful as I found that poem, I am more of a mantis fan. This feels like protection to me, and I am in the mood for protection.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

The Lexicographer's Prayer
By Pattiann Rogers

Write for me now the name
of the hanging willow branch in cold
rain, then the name of the willow branch
moving with summer wind. Give me
the word for summer wind as ruffling
killdeer feathers, the word for cold rain
off black umbrellas.

Not the name of the poplar, not the name
of the coral-yellow evening sky, but tell me
the name for the single thing that exists
as they are one, a seamless union.

And what is the pine woods snake called
when it is unwitnessed, imagined beneath
forest leaf and litter? What is the name
of the same snake when exposed to the sky,
observed, in the hand, remarked upon,
a different entity? Pronounce
the words slowly.

And what is this--ice enclosing fallen
cattail stalks, not two together, but one essence,
each constituting the other.

Moon and moon and moon all over the lake,
broken, misshapen, fluttering, one of them
penetrated momentarily by my toe...these are not
sky moons, not rock moons, but something else.
Wavering-water moons? Elusive liquid moons?
One toe moon? One moon-wet toe? Or, being
without substance, no moons at all?

Here are my definitions: 1. street lamp
with no magpie atop 2. street lamp
with three magpies atop. Spell
the word for each.

And say the single sound for this: autumn-
morning-crow-call in the heart. Altered,
altered, I’m certain; neither call nor heart
is the same alone.

Come now to my aid. My book
is frighteningly incomplete.


I owe lots and lots of mail and a beta to do but I have a headache from filibuster compromises and county sex ed idiocy and kids' homework chaos and am going to bed. Have seen and shared calamari with (who told me about the potential Harry Potter leak), have not-seen but made plans with , have managed brief telephone conversation with , and sometimes that is the best one can ask from a day.

Good news: older son has been invited to school awards ceremony, bad news: it's June 2nd, same day as the Cinderella Man preview for which I have a free pass that it seems I will not get to use. In the course of having made kids clean the living room, have rediscovered Ships of the American Revolution and several books on the USS Constitution purchased last summer in New England, so am very excited to have reading material. Also a book on Captain Cook's voyage that I had forgotten I'd bought, which has a whole section on John Harrison and the longitude prize.

Also in the course of having made kids clean up, have uncovered two folded posters of Russell Crowe as Jack Aubrey, flip side HMS Surprise, with some other smaller pictures from Master and Commander; will be glad to pass on, comment if you want one. Also found a brand new copy of The Heart of Me (Region 1, Paul Bettany-Helena Bonham-Carter), purchased for a friend who's no longer a friend -- anyone wanting to save me the trouble of half.com, make me an offer please -- will be happy to throw in some other Paul stuff though not mint condition like this. And I have two Star Trek crossword puzzle books, difficult for me despite extensive knowledge of Star Trek, probably impossible for a novice: if you want 'em, just say so.

And I made write McGonagall/Lockhart which she has finally posted in public! Go and adore her.

Last of the tulip tree flowers brought down in the storm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

One of the Lives
By W. S. Merwin

If I had not met the red-haired boy whose father
               had broken a leg parachuting into Provence
to join the resistance in the final stage of the war
               and so had been killed there as the Germans were moving north
out of Italy and if the friend who was with him
               as he was dying had not had an elder brother
who also died young quite differently in peacetime
               leaving two children one of them with bad health
who had been kept out of school for a whole year by an illness
               and if I had written anything else at the top
of the examination form where it said college
               of your choice or if the questions that day had been
put differently and if a young woman in Kittanning
               had not taught my father to drive at the age of twenty
so that he got the job with the pastor of the big church
               in Pittsburgh where my mother was working and if
my mother had not lost both parents when she was a child
               so that she had to go to her grandmother’s in Pittsburgh
I would not have found myself on an iron cot
               with my head by the fireplace of a stone farmhouse
that had stood empty since some time before I was born
               I would not have travelled so far to lie shivering
with fever though I was wrapped in everything in the house
               nor have watched the unctuous doctor hold up his needle
at the window in the rain light of October
               I would not have seen through the cracked pane the darkening
valley with its river sliding past the amber mountains
               nor have wakened hearing plums fall in the small hour
thinking I knew where I was as I heard them fall


This is going to be another largely fannish squee post, so let me apologize in advance for being shallow. I spent the early part of Monday with who came over with the two-hour Firefly pilot, "Serenity", which I liked so much better than the episodes I've seen so far and which made so much more sense of them -- why did the network not kick off the series with this? Silly network! I am still ambivalent about Serenity given some of the spoilers and fan hysteria I've seen surrounding them; had invited me to go with her to the local advance screening, but we are leaving town the next day for the long weekend and I need to see my parents before we bail on them, so I will have to wait till later in the summer. There are so many movies on my to-see list: The Island, Batman Begins, Mr. and Mrs. Smith (shut up, I love Angelina), War of the Worlds (it's Spielberg, I'm not going to not-go)...and pretty much everything is PG-13 so we will probably take the kids to most of them. I had been wondering whether Cinderella Man would be appropriate and am so psyched that I will get to screen it, for free, before it opens nationally. I love EW!

I had no vehicle today since the van was being serviced, so I could only feed my guest leftover Indian food which fortunately was all right with her. came home early, picked up older son from the bus and then we all went to retrieve the vehicle since we had to drive them home separately, so there was a bit of chaos in the afternoon in and around writing up Patrick Stewart and Connor Trinneer interviews (note: Trinneer comes across really smart and very serious about acting, I've not encountered this in any of the dorky sci-fi magazine interviews with him before, it's worth going to TheFandom.com and downloading...skip 30 minutes in to when he finally arrives!) And in the evening the kids had already decided that we were going to watch Star Wars -- the real, the original -- A New Hope, if you insist, but I am from the era when Han shot first and there was no V or VI on the horizon. It made me appreciate III more, particularly the use of musical themes associated with characters and landscapes, and a lot of the visuals that refer back (forward?) to IV, particularly one ship from the end of III and the start of IV that I hadn't realized was reproduced so exactly. I like no longer having the sense that the two trilogies are quite thoroughly disconnected as I had after I and II.

is helping to feed my obsessions. This is a good thing, right? Nothing bad can happen to me for thinking naughty thoughts about paper dolls, right? My only other stuff today had to do with dealing with kids and parents and various annoyances, plus a long phone call from my in-laws whom we are visiting this weekend and going sightseeing with -- my husband's mother is making all of us knitted Marvins following the pattern here in , yay!

From Saturday, photos taken at Cabin John Regional Park. This is Porky the Litter Eater, who if you press that button in the upper left will play a recorded spiel about how you should feed him paper and cardboard but please don't give him broken glass, which gives him a stomachache.

This year the county got rid of the last of the play equipment there left over from my own childhood as well as nearly all the equipment from my kids' childhood to comply with new safety rules, which is a bummer. In addition to not having fairy tale slides and towers anymore, the park has not had the little animal farm for years, but the trash and facilities around the miniature train are still animal themed.

This trash can, for instance, has been at the park as long as I can remember, as has the water fountain above. My kids seem finally to have outgrown the train, which is rather sad!

And this totem pole, which was erected before I was born, is still at the entrance near the playground.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Poem for Monday

An Old-Fashioned Song
By John Hollander

No more walks in the wood:
The trees have all been cut
Down, and where once they stood
Not even a wagon rut
Appears along the path
Low brush is taking over.

No more walks in the wood;
This is the aftermath
Of afternoons in the clover
Fields where we once made love
Then wandered home together
Where the trees arched above,
Where we made our own weather
When branches were the sky.
Now they are gone for good,
And you, for ill, and I
Am only a passer-by.

We and the trees and the way
Back from the fields of play
Lasted as long as we could.
No more walks in the wood.


Quoting John Hollander on Emma Lazarus yesterday put me in the mood for a Hollander poem.

Much of my flist seems to be deeply in love with SWE3:ROTS, which I saw Sunday with my children. I must admit that my first impression held and was strengthened: this is an enjoyable film, but I don't think it's a very good film, and the things that bothered me only a little the first time around irked me a lot more the second -- particularly Padme's role, or non-role. I've decided I'm craving backstory where she and Bail Organa have been carrying on the whole time Anakin and Obi-Wan are in the outer rim doing whatever it is they were doing between AOTC and ROTS, and her paralysis both as a Senator and as Anakin's wife is because she feels guilty. Otherwise I must simply go batshit that she sits there muttering about how liberty dies instead of trying to do something about it -- in the Senate, in private with Anakin, in private with Obi-Wan, everywhere. I really loathe the character as we see her onscreen, and I hate loathing the only woman with a significant part in a film.

And sorry, Hayden fans, but while I agree that he has the very worst of the terrible dialogue in the film, he still comes across horribly in my eyes compared to Ewan and Natalie. I can forgive Anakin for whining and sounding like a little brat in Ep II, but at this point it undermines the character -- it's fine if we're not feeling sorry for him and it's even possible to rationalize if we are, but when the audience is giggling at him after he's massacred a group of children, something is wrong. I suppose I could blame Lucas entirely but people weren't giggling while Natalie was uttering atrocious lines like, "You're breaking my heart! You're going to a place where I can't follow!" nor while Ewan was proclaiming that he couldn't look after announcing that he had to look at the security logs. It's funny, because the film is grabbing my imagination in ways the first two did not even though I don't think it's particularly better -- when two October Project songs are stuck in my head because they make me think of a movie, I know it's gotten under my skin -- but I'm sorry I was so harsh to ROTK given how much harsher I could be to ROTS.

My children were not in the least traumatized by the film; they were both much more upset by Theoden's death and Frodo's suffering in ROTK, and they talked at much greater length about the nature of evil and choices after HP:POA. My older son said it was funny in an ironic way that the kids asked Anakin for help, not realizing that he was the source of the slaughter and was going to kill them; that scene did not scare them, since apparently they perceive such situations as, thankfully, quite removed from their own lives. They did on their own draw parallels between Bush post-9/11 and the Chancellor declaring himself Emperor. So I must thank George Lucas for that!

Oh, while you're back here, a SW quiz that cracked me up, gacked from my fellow Jedi master :

You scored as Yoda.



Anakin Skywalker


Padme Amidala




General Grievous


Darth Vader


Mace Windu




Emperor Palpatine


Obi Wan Kenobi


Clone Trooper




Which Revenge of the Sith Character are you?
created with QuizFarm.com

We came home for a little while after the movie, then our family was in charge of snack for younger son's soccer practice and I had to write a couple of articles. In the evening we dropped off one of the vans for servicing -- I will be vehicle-free Monday, unfortunately -- and went to IHOP since it's next door to the car place. Every time we go there, the people in the kitchen seem to have gotten slightly stupider and the waits even longer: tonight they left the EGGS off my eggs benedict (I asked for no Canadian bacon, as I don't eat pork -- they thought I was a vegan and didn't want the eggs -- I ask you, what vegan eats bacon and hollandaise sauce?!) and brought my husband steak instead of bacon with his eggs. They're starting to make the service at Denny's look good and that is a very scary thing.

I wasn't going to watch Desperate Housewives, because it makes me feel kind of icky -- I don't like the characters, I don't root for the characters, I don't like myself waiting to see who gets killed or maimed or trashed -- but I had laundry to fold and it was the season finale, so I put it on. I wasn't surprised by anything that was revealed and I'm not going to watch next season. I've watched soaps with characters who made lots of stupid decisions before, years of Dallas and Dawson's Creek have left me with a healthy respect for soaps, but this show isn't quite a satire where I can wholeheartedly enjoy the characters' idiocy and I can't figure out the point of watching a soap where there's not one character I like or admire or at least find compelling in some way. I guess I'm just not a good TV watcher: can't get into Lost, can't get into Alias, couldn't even stick with Buffy through the bad times and the only reason I never missed an episode of Enterprise was that I had to review it. Is it a form of attention disorder to have no patience for entertainment the moment it stops gripping me, or is that healthy? There was a time when I finished every single book I ever started, and now I find that laughable too.

Since we were back at the multiplex, we took the kids to see the geese. They were around the far side of the lake, swimming and then eating the grass -- they came out of the water when they saw us as if hopeful that we might feed them. Since a lot of people here seemed to enjoy them, I thought I'd share.

And a heron in front of the hotel on the retail side of the pond.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Poem for Sunday

The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, this week on poet John Hollander's introduction to Emma Lazarus: Selected Poems. Her most famous poem above was composed in honor of the Statue of Liberty, as I imagine just about all Jewish immigrant daughters like myself learn at a young age. "The freshness of imagination in 'The New Colossus' is striking," Pinsky writes. "The brass ('brazen') Colossus of Rhodes embodies conquest, while this statue, a woman, is the 'Mother of Exiles,' with a lamp instead of a weapon. Lazarus died young of cancer, and her sister, "'by this time an Anglo-Catholic convert,' in Hollander's words, prevented publication of a Complete Poems in 1926 because so much of Lazarus's material was Jewish. Hollander calls attention to another sonnet:

By Emma Lazarus

Thou two-faced year, Mother of Change and Fate,
Didst weep when Spain cast forth with flaming sword,
The children of the prophets of the Lord,
Prince, priest, and people, spurned by zealot hate.
Hounded from sea to sea, from state to state,
The West refused them, and the East abhorred.
No anchorage the known world could afford,
Close-locked was every port, barred every gate.
Then smiling, thou unveil'dst, O two-faced year,
A virgin world where doors of sunset part,
Saying, "Ho, all who weary, enter here!
There falls each ancient barrier that the art
Of race or creed or rank devised, to rear
Grim bulwarked hatred between heart and heart!"


This year is important to Jews not only because of Columbus but because of the edict in Spain creating the Inquisition-era diaspora (and Sephardic Judaism). Here is one more Lazarus poem that stuck with me, also from the new collected edition:

Age and Death
By Emma Lazarus

Come closer, kind, white, long-familiar friend,
      Embrace me, fold me to thy broad, soft breast.
Life has grown strange and cold, but thou dost bend
      Mild eyes of blessing wooing to my rest.
So often hast thou come, and from my side
So many hast thou lured, I only bide
Thy beck, to follow glad thy steps divine.
      Thy world is peopled for me; this world's bare.
      Through all these years my couch thou didst prepare.
Thou art supreme Love -- kiss me -- I am thine!


It has been quite a long day and I have not even glanced at the flist since mid-week so let me apologize for that up front. We all had to be up and out by 9 a.m. for a meeting for Bar-Bat Mitzvah families at Hebrew school, which and younger son left early to go to his soccer game while I stayed with older son, then we all met up for lunch and took a walk at Cabin John Park before coming home so I could crank out a review round-up before going to see DC United in the evening. Younger son's aforementioned soccer team (which lost today, sadly) had won a sportsmanship award with free tickets for the kids and discounted tickets for everyone else, so we all went and had a picnic in the perfect, perfect cool weather along the filthy Anacostia River where everyone has tailgate parties.

This was only the second MLS game I have ever attended, the first since Freddy Adu arrived in DC, and it was enormously fun. I loved being at a professional sports event announced in both English and Spanish. They gave the kids t-shirts, keychains and discount tickets to additional games (given the relatively empty stadium that last is not surprising). Adu didn't play until the last ten minutes, when United was up 2-1 and seemed on track to win; he made an assist on the third and clinching goal by Christian Gomez, who also scored the second, while the first came from a Jaime Moreno spot kick. I won't even pretend to be able to talk about strategy but it was a fast-paced game and far more fun to watch than soccer on television.

Moreno kicking what will be DC United's first goal, after the referee called foul when he was knocked down.

The man -- err, boy -- everyone wanted to see, number 9. I wondered how the older players who anchor the team felt about the screaming standing ovation Adu got when he came on the field.

Sorry about our son's friend's father's shoulder being in this photo, I was just so excited that it came out at all: this is Adu's assist to Gomez who kicked the ball in for a goal.

The Screaming Eagles, devoted DC United fans who raise money for charity when they're not throwing confetti, waving pirate flags, displaying up an enormous banner that takes at least 20 people to hold up or banging drums to cheer on the team. This was just after a goal, when the big banner and whatever form of fairy dust they wave around were still up.

Some of the loot each young soccer player received (the blue fingers are from cotton candy). We left with four minutes on the clock, when the score was 3-1, and apparently missed another goal by the Kansas City Wizards, a fistfight and United having to finish the game short a player -- no sportsmanship prizes for them.

The mascot poses with some of the legions of kids at the game.

About a third of the kids on younger son's soccer team have older siblings in Hebrew school, so we spent nearly all day with the same people -- none really our good friends, but all people who have known our kids since they were very young, and one's the husband of my sister's college roommate whom we first met before we had kids. So, fun.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Brief Political Fury

I hate my governor. Hate hate hate hate hate hate. Because, I mean, allowing domestic partners to visit one another in hospitals will surely erode the fabric of global society. And because Wal-Mart's right to sell cheap trash is more important than its employees' rights to receive health care anyway, right? Filthy despicable lying hypocritical bigoted jerk.

And I am still incredibly pissed off at all the idiots in this state who believed his rhetoric of being a moderate or were just too lazy to show up at the polls when he wormed his way into office.

This political rant brought to you by a disgusted and disgruntled citizen of the State of Maryland. And now I am off to the races.

Poem for Saturday

Garden Homage
By Medbh McGuckian

Three windows are at work here, sophisticated
spaces against the day, against the light.
The sky looks as if it has been added later
to a glimpsed world as nobody saw it.

Small gaps of awkwardness between overlapping leaves
bring their time to us, as we our time
to them. The hand alone is amazing,
the skull and the owner’s hand holding it,

together on a page for fifty years,
with the earliest smile. A rope vase
of flowers returns the angels
to the ground, that still beautiful brown.


Friday morning I gritted my teeth and wrote a review of the very first Star Trek episode ever aired, "The Man Trap". I had watched it a few weeks ago and found it painfully dated and sexist. Some switch in my brain must have been tripped by watching "Terra Prime," "These Are the Voyages...," Sweet November and Revenge of the Sith this week, however, because watching it again this morning I found it not at all painful, only moderately sexist (plus the excuse of having been written in 1966) and encompassing everything I love about the original series...Kirk/Spock/McCoy as best comrades as well as a strong command team, the extended friendships among the entire crew -- we see as much interaction among Uhura, Sulu and Rand in this single episode than we do among Sato, Mayweather and Reed in an entire season of Enterprise -- what it means to be Vulcan, how the crew works together. These are the reviews I was afraid might ruin my love for the original series, but this one, at least, reinforced it greatly...though I haven't got any hate mail yet and I'm not reading the BBS, so who knows how I will feel if it starts getting ugly there. I only know that it was a welcome nostalgia.

And tonight, following up on The Phantom Menace last night, the whole family watched Attack of the Clones. I confess that I was somewhat less attentive than the others, as I just watched it recently with and I still have to go get ice cream during the "love scenes" or risk injuring my ears, but it didn't bug me as much as it did the first time and I must admit that somehow I have fallen for Obi-Wan this week, after managing to resist him for nearly six years. I think maybe Ewan is finally old enough for me. *g* Either way it is somewhat embarrassing though quite entertaining to come stumbling late to the Q/O party, which while not as welcoming as the Highlander party is still large and diverse enough that I'm sure there are lots of fun things to read. Many of my Trek fans passed through TPM slash on their way to LOTR, HP and other current fandoms, so there are lots of familiar names when I check out some of the stories I stashed away, too.

: Name 5 movies that worked better as television shows.
1. M*A*S*H

2. Highlander
3. La Femme Nikita
4. The Dead Zone
5. Alien Nation
The ones that come immediately to mind for me are all movies that were later TV shows. There are numerous TV shows that were made into movies but were so much better on the small screen with their original casts -- The Avengers, Mission: Impossible, any number of '70s shows and Saturday Night Live skits -- and some I'm ambivalent about, like Star Trek and The X-Files, where the movies were okay but altered the franchises enough that I would have been perfectly happy had they stayed on television.

: Moods
1. What made you happy this week?
My sons getting Hebrew school awards.
2. What made you sad? The end for the foreseeable future of both Star Trek and Star Wars.
3. What made you angry? Being manipulated by relatives.
4. What are you looking forward to in the next week? Going to visit my in-laws in Pennsylvania.
5. What are you not looking forward to? Missing my great-aunt's birthday party and attendant guilt trips.

: And it's hard for me to take a stand
1. How tall are you?
2. When is the last time you stood up for yourself? To my father at dinner a couple of days ago about Father's Day plans.
3. Are you scared of heights? Only if there's no railing.
4. Tell us a tall tale: I won my high school long jump competition.
5. Wookie-hookie: Did you see the new Star Wars movie? Yes, I did, and will again on Sunday.

And in the "Things I Learned From George Lucas" department:

Um...did I have a real life on Friday? Well, not much of one, since I spent the morning writing articles and the late afternoon putting away the laundry that got folded but not put in drawers on Wednesday night. I did spend several minutes dragging a piece of yellow string across the floor at Cinnamon's behest. And made very good Indian food for dinner, pav bhaji and chicken masala and choley, and I got my star skirt to go with the top got me from Karuna Arts, so I can be as Hippie Goddess as I like. This is good, as I have an insane Saturday (Hebrew school meeting from 9-11, soccer game from 12-1:30, DC United tickets for the evening plus my son's team gets to parade at the stadium because they won a sportsmanship award so we have to be there early. It ought to be lots of fun but I am expecting to be rather exhausted after all this family togetherness. *g*

This upper-floor room in Portchester Castle was used as a theatre in the 1800s. You can still see some of the decorative painting on the walls.