Monday, July 31, 2006

Poem for Monday

In Iowa
By Seamus Heaney

In Iowa once, among the Mennonites
In a slathering blizzard, conveyed all afternoon
Through sleet-glit pelting hard against the windscreen
And a wiper's strong absolving slumps and flits,

I saw, abandoned in the open gap
Of a field where wilted corn stalks flagged the snow,
A mowing machine. Snow brimmed its iron seat,
Heaped each spoked wheel with a thick white brow,

And took the shine off oil in the black-toothed gears.
Verily I came forth from that wilderness
As one unbaptized who had known darkness
At the third hour and the veil in tatters.

In Iowa once. In the slush and rush and hiss
Not of parted but as of rising waters.


Another from this week's Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, on poetry about seasons. The column begins with Pinsky discussing haiku such as Yosa Buson's: "'White blossoms of the pear / and a woman in moonlight / reading a letter.'" Heaney, says Pinsky, exemplifies "what may be a universal gesture of poetry, registering a season with details that also present a a harsh wintry image from his recent book, District & Circle, the Irish poet...perceives a relic of both harvest and obliteration, a machine that in its seasonal setting embodies the frailty and stubborn courage of human resources."

After younger son's first lesson with his new violin teacher, whom he seems to like but she expects a lot of practicing so we'll see how it goes, my father took the kids to the pool for a couple of hours while and I went downtown to the National Gallery of Art to see the Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting and Henri Rousseau: Jungles in Paris exhibits; I think the kids would have enjoyed the Rousseau exhibit, but doubted they'd go through the Italian religious art without being bored and restless. As it happened, my very favorite thing in the Venetian exhibit was on the radiography that revealed the underpainting of many of the works, such as how Titian changed Bellini's plans for Feast of the Gods and how much cleavage was determined to be too much in a painting of a wise virgin. (Side note: I have been corrupted forever by Mike Myers and "Look! The painter's name is Tittian!", as I cannot look at a Titian-painted breast without giggling.)

The Rousseau exhibit is fantastic -- so many of his big jungle canvases in the same place, but also photos, magazine covers and exhibits from the Menagerie du Jardin des Plantes and World's Fair that inspired him. I did not realize that Rousseau never left France and studied "jungles" at the botanical gardens and the zoo! There were two sculptures from Paris, one of a woman being carried off by a gorilla, another of a hunter being mauled by a bear, that were pretty evident influences on specific paintings of Rousseau's, as well as a taxidermist's display of a lion attacking an antelope that he painted pretty precisely in The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope, but I found it interesting that while the display card went on about how the statue of the woman being dragged off the by gorilla was erotically suggestive, the one on the statue of the male hunter and the bear didn't mention that the man was naked from the waist down (pretty stupid way to hunt for bear cubs!) and the statue looks like nothing so much as a Greek representation of a god carrying off one of the numerous mortal women raped in mythology. It's oddly refreshing to see Rousseau's unromantic view of Paris and the weirdly innocent brutality of his natural world.

Unfortunately, no photos are allowed in any of the National Gallery of Art's special exhibition galleries, but photography is allowed in much of the rest of the museum provided one does not use flash. Since the Rousseau exhibit was in the East Wing, we saw a bit of the Modern Art gallery there, including Roy Lichtenstein's Painting with Statue of Liberty...

...and Frank Stella's La scienza della fiacca.

In the late afternoon we decided it would still be too hot and disgusting out to want to sit in the sun at 6 p.m. even to listen to Lisa Moscatiello, so we retrieved the kids and my father and all went out to Tara Thai, where we ate a very great deal of spicy food. Then we dropped father off, came home and watched Brotherhood (as well as it could be watched with older son finding a hundred ways to stall going to bed, considering that the F word is spoken about every twenty seconds on that show). So many horrible things happen on that series every week -- many perpetrated by Jason Isaacs' character -- that I wonder whether it's worth sticking with it, but there is also some wonderful dialogue and interaction that makes it worthwhile. The line that made me fall off the couch in "Matthew 5:6" was Michael's to asshole mob boss Freddie, after offering him and having him reject a Twinkie: "When you have six inches of cream-filled goodness right in front of your nose, how can you resist?"

I am not at all pleased with Michael, who is in serious need of some anger management (okay, some serious time behind bars, which also won't rehabilitate him given the insanity from which he comes), but it is so compelling to watch Jason in scenes like the one where he gets a guy he's planning to kill drunk while never touching his own drink, with a really scary expression on his face. I still find it hard to root for Tommy even though he should be so much more likeable, trying so hard to be a good son and husband and brother and keeping his head up when the Speaker of the House makes him recite Kipling's "If" at a dinner with other politicians (I used to be able to recite that poem, too, more verses than he knows...remind me to post it sometime if I never have). Though I think the best dialogue belongs to Tommy's would-be political mentor, who tells Tommy that he's like a wounded animal alone in the savannah in need of a pack, and when Tommy asks whether that means he has to kiss the Speaker's ass, replies, "I'm a gorilla. I live in the jungle. It doesn't matter to me what happens in the savannah."

Star Trek news today was William Shatner conducting the Boston Pops in Cape Cod! What will that man decide he can do next?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Poem for Sunday

Say Summer/ For My Mother
By Stanley Plumly

I could give it back to you, perhaps in a season,
say summer. I could give you leaf back, green
grass, sky full of rain, root
that won't dig deeper, the names called out
just before sundown: Linda back, Susy back,
I could give you back supper
on the porch or the room without a breath
of fresh air, back the little tears in the heat,
the hot sleep on the kitchen floor,
back the talk in the great dark,
the voices low on the lawn
so the children can't hear,
say summer, say father, say mother:
Ruth and Mary and Esther, names in a book,
names I remember -- I could give you back this name,
and back the breath to say it with --
we all know we'll die of our children --
back the tree bent over the water,
back the sun burning down,
back the witness back each morning.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "Reading even a little Japanese poetry in translation reminds us of the cultural importance of the seasons. Evoking an exact time of year and an associated emotion, in a way that makes the tradition fresh, is the poet's goal," writes Pinsky, citing haiku writers: "For example, the 18th-century writer known as Issa indicates the craving for shelter and companionship as winter comes on: 'Deer licking / first frost / from each other's coats.'" Plumly's poem in a similar tradition "refers to a world of American summers and a world of losses, with the word 'say' meaning both 'for example' and the act of naming."

It has been a very long but entirely satisfying Saturday, starting at the outrageously early hour of 6:45 a.m. so we could get to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore in time for Breakfast With the Penguins, which we had promised younger son that we would do as part of his birthday present (he also adopted one of the penguins and got a photo, certificate, fact sheet and stuffed penguin, which were delivered at the breakfast). They had set up tables near the penguin enclosure and brought out two "ambassador penguins" -- an adolescent and a young adult -- plus feathers, a preserved skull and things like that so they could talk about penguin biology and habitat while we ate eggs, sausage, pancakes, pastries, etc. Then they took small groups, gave everyone disposable gloves and let each person throw a fish to the swimming penguin population. Son was extremely pleased, and after the breakfast we had the zoo to ourselves for a little while before it opened to the public and got to see very active chimpanzees, roaring lions, fighting rhinos and other animals in the Africa region before going to the Parakeet Landing so budgies could poop land on our arms.

These are the two "penguin ambassadors" who attended breakfast on the lawn with us, here resting in a portable crib. They are sisters, born about a year apart; I can't remember the name of the one on the left, the one on the right is named Ascot.

A crowd of adolescent penguins on the wall watches a crowd of adult penguins swimming in the enclosure. The self-chosen segregation amused us.

To raise money for a group in South Africa that rescues and rehabilitates African penguins, the Maryland Zoo penguins created paintings with their feet which were auctioned off. Here is a poster of the penguins hard at work. (Apparently their favorite part of this activity was knocking the paint containers over and watching them roll around.)

Happy breakfasters throwing fish to the penguins!

The penguins were very happy about this and swam around, fighting with the cormorants to get the fish!

But as the temperature climbed, they wanted to go back into their air-conditioned enclosure, and upon discovering that they were locked out for the duration of the breakfast, they started lining up to get in.

Since it was nearly a hundred degrees, we only stayed at the zoo for a few hours, then went to Harborplace for lunch (crab cakes, fish and chips, naturally), then the National Aquarium where it was cooler even in the rainforest and Australia exhibits than outside. There were several animals on display that weren't the last time we saw the new Australia wing: flying foxes, kookaburras, several species of birds and a python, to name a few. We also went to see the dolphins, though not the show -- they were only doing it once in the afternoon to let the new baby rest, so we just watched them in their big pools -- and went fairly rapidly through the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic sections so we could go see the puffins, the rainforest (where we saw the golden lion tamarins, the sloth, the iguana and several turtles in addition to the wide variety of birds and fish there), the Atlantic reef and the shark and ray tanks.

On the way to Camden Yards we visited the USS Constellation long enough to see the newly restored wardroom and officers' quarters, which had been closed off ever since we started visiting the ship (one of the nice things about membership is that we can stop for 15 minutes every time we're in Baltimore instead of trying to do the full three-hour tour with restless kids once a year). Then we went to the Orioles game, where we saw the Orioles demonstrate such skills as stranding men on base, hitting into double plays, pitching home-run balls to consecutive batters and failing to signal effectively that the player on second needed to run to third because the player on first was already 3/4 of the way to second. The White Sox at times played nearly as badly as the Orioles but they were still ahead by several points when we left, and though the Orioles tried valiantly to come back several times, it was never quite enough. Ah well, our seats were in the shade and there was frozen lemonade and Frank Thomas is no longer on the White Sox so I had no dilemma about who to root for (the losers, hah), and my father-in-law met us with a friend of his since my mother-in-law is still recovering from bronchitis.

Dear Mel Gibson, I don't really give a flying fuck what you said when you were so drunk you couldn't walk straight, all though none of it surprises me at all. I've long believed you were a filthy, despicable bigot based on the things you've said and done when you were sober, and I haven't paid to watch a single one of your films since then. No Love, Me.

On Sunday, younger son is meeting with a new violin teacher, we are going out with my father since my mother is still visiting my sister in New York, and if the evening weather is nice we may go to see Lisa Moscatiello at the Columbia lakefront. Right now a huge moth outside trying to get at the kitchen light is making the cats chitter frantically so I had better go see about it!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Poem for Saturday

The Connoisseuse of Slugs
By Sharon Olds

When I was a connoisseuse of slugs
I would part the ivy leaves, and look for the
naked jelly of those gold bodies,
translucent strangers glistening along the
stones, slowly, their gelatinous bodies
at my mercy. Mostly made of water, they would shrivel
to nothing if they were sprinkled with salt,
but I was not interested in that. What I liked
was to draw aside the ivy, breathe the
odor of the wall, and stand there in silence
until the slug forgot I was there
and sent its antennae up out of its
head, the glimmering umber horns
rising like telescopes, until finally the
sensitive knobs would pop out the ends,
delicate and intimate. Years later,
when I first saw a naked man,
I gasped with pleasure to see that quiet
mystery reenacted, the slow
elegant being coming out of hiding and
gleaming in the dark air, eager and so
trusting you could weep.


I've posted this one before but it was in 2003, and I learned today that there are some people who have not read Olds, who along with Pattiann Rogers is the living poet who has most influenced me, so clearly I need to post more of her work.

I had no cable all morning, which I couldn't do anything about after the second furious phone call to Comcast, so I went out to lunch with . She brought her younger son; I brought my husband, who had called to tell me he was going to Target five stores away from where we were meeting. I bought myself a little blue and white lava lamp for $7 which is making me so happy right now that I may go buy lava lamps for every room in the house (besides the dining room, where my desk is, which already has two glitter lamps, heh).

Then I came home and wrote a review of "Assignment: Earth", which wasn't easy because it isn't a good episode exactly but it's a really fun episode despite the fact that Kirk and Spock have to be kind of silly and passive so Gary Seven can set his plans in motion. But, I mean, it has Kirk smirking at Spock who can't stop petting a cat, and Teri Garr in what has to be the worst outfit ever seen on television even counting Shahna's gold bikini-thing from "The Gamesters of Triskelion"! Such was the extent of my Trekkie mood that tonight we watched "Cause and Effect" from the Time Travel DVD set. I love Beverly Crusher-centered episodes that are not "Sub Rosa" or "Attached." Oh, and someone at the IMDb has posted that Damon and Affleck are going to play Kirk and Spock in Star Trek XI. This is unquestionably not true, but given that the script is being written by Kurtzman and Orci who wrote such lovely slashy stuff on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, it would not make me cry if it was; I can handle a mediocre campy Star Trek revival but not a mediocre serious one.

: Take Me Home
1. Do you smoke?
Never, not a single cigarette.
2. Are you more likely to be caught humming, whistling or singing to yourself? Singing.
3. Have you ever been to New Orleans? Sadly, no.
4. When is the last time you saw the sun rise? Over Denver a year ago when we got caught overnight after a cancelled flight.
5. Can you swim? Yes.

: Names
1. Are you named after anyone? If so, explain.
My mother's father, who died many years before I was born; our first and Hebrew names start with the same letter.
2. Do you have your children's names picked out already? If so, is there any significance? My older son is named after (middle name, first in Hebrew) my father's father and (first name, middle in Hebrew) my husband's father's father; my younger son is named after (first name, same in Hebrew) my mother's mother, (middle name, same in Hebrew) my mother's mother's father, my father's father's father (both of whom had the same name) and my husband's mother's father (whose name started with the same letter).
3. If you were born a member of the opposite sex what would your name have been? A name very close to my own but not the most direct derivation as that is my uncle's name.
4. If you could re-name yourself what name would you pick and why? I have had many opportunities to rename myself and have never done so, not even to get other people with my name off my credit report, so I guess I am not really tempted.
5. Are there any mispronunciations/typos that people do w/ your name constantly? They add Es to my last name and sometimes take an L out of my first name.

: Who are your five favorite villains (and why)?
1. Kai Winn from Deep Space Nine
, who is one of the toughest, most complex, most interesting women on Star Trek.
2. The Marquise de Merteuil from Les Liaisons Dangereuses, who is corrupt and selfish and venal and clever and incredibly sexy.
3. The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia, whom I always rooted for a little bit even before I had the allegory slammed over my head.
4. Hans Gruber from Die Hard, who is the real protagonist of the film -- everything John McClane does is reactive, it's Gruber who drives the story and until the very end kicks everyone's ass.
5. Lionel Luthor from Smallville, who is the only thing that has kept the program at all lively by providing sharp, witty antagonism for absolutely everyone.
And I must give an honorable mention to KHAN! Who nearly singlehandedly saved the Trek franchise by being such a marvelous balance for Kirk and Spock.

This always seems to sooner did the cable come back on than my husband called from work at the end of the day to tell me that his battery was dead. He managed to get it jumped but we are not sure whether it will start again Saturday...not that this matters Saturday since we are taking the bigger van to Baltimore from 7 a.m. for Breakfast with the Penguins at the zoo as part of younger son's birthday celebration, then parking at the Inner Harbor to see the aquarium, the USS Constellation which finally has a restored wardroom and the Orioles-White Sox game with my in-laws. So I will not be around much to catch up on things!

found this game on eBay in which you try to help your penguins cross icebergs to escape from a polar bear. Yeah, they have their poles mixed up, but our son does not care.

My mother-in-law made this pillowcase and comforter with penguins on them for son's birthday.

She had also knitted him a penguin in the past, and I couldn't remember posting it here before, so there.

Rosie, however, was far more impressed by the wrapping paper and bags than she was by any presents.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Get Critical Update

TV Review: Star Trek's "Assignment: Earth"

TV Review: Star Trek's "Bread and Circuses"

Poem for Friday

Take the I Out
By Sharon Olds

But I love the I, steel I-beam
that my father sold. They poured the pig iron
into the mold, and it fed out slowly,
a bending jelly in the bath, and it hardened,
Bessemer, blister, crucible, alloy, and he
marketed it, and bought bourbon, and Cream
of Wheat, its curl of butter right
in the middle of its forehead, he paid for our dresses
with his metal sweat, sweet in the morning
and sour in the evening. I love the I,
frail between its flitches, its hard ground
and hard sky, it soars between them
like the soul that rushes, back and forth,
between the mother and father. What if they had loved each other,
how would it have felt to be the strut
joining the floor and roof of the truss?
I have seen, on his shirt-cardboard, years
in her desk, the night they made me, the penciled
slope of her temperature rising, and on
the peak of the hill, first soldier to reach
the crest, the Roman numeral I--
I, I, I, I,
girders of identity, head on,
embedded in the poem. I love the I
for its premise of existence--our I--when I was
born, part gelid, I lay with you
on the cooling table, we were all there, a
forest of felled iron. The I is a pine,
resinous, flammable root to crown,
which throws its cones as far as it can in a fire.


Last weekend it was no mail, and today it's been no cable -- I'm signed on to AOL over the phone line to post this, hence only the one photo. My day involved lots of replanning anyway -- had to return the family car so couldn't stay for lunch, older son ended up having much more to say to the woman who does Bar Mitzvah centerpieces than I ever expected (he wants video game characters and candy in his -- I am not nearly artistic enough to do this decoratively for 80 people which is why we called in a professional in the first place, and although I could probably manage the table cards on my printer, why bother when she'll do it for not much more than it would cost me to get the cards and ink and glue-ons), then since we ran late we ended up going out to California Tortilla for dinner and since the liquor store was right nearby, buying a bottle of Moscato which I am drinking a glass of now and not stressing at all about the cable or the Bar Mitzvah or anything. *g*

We also watched "Assignment: Earth" so I can retro-review it; I'd put off this last episode of the original series' second season because I didn't have the third season and was somewhat in limbo about whether my editor was sending it to me or what, so I finally just asked him whether he wanted me to buy it myself and put it on my next invoice which he said was fine. delivered it in two days even though I didn't pay for rush shipping, so now I have all three seasons of classic Trek, on the very same day The Digital Bits announced that Paramount hinted at Comic-Con that they would be remastering and rereleasing both the original series and all the original movies in HD. I don't really care, though: I never bought them on VHS, was content with my six-episodes-to-a-tape homemade tapes for decades, and I am just delighted to have them on DVD at all considering that no amount of remastering is going to make the matte paintings and static shots of rockets look any more real. Somehow it seems fitting for there to be static around the Earth the Enterprise is orbiting in 1968. We also watched some of the special features -- the Red Shirt Diaries are great -- and I put on my aging and decrepit videotape of the first and second season blooper reels for the kids, with such classic moments as McCoy trying to kiss Kirk on the bridge and Nimoy staying in character and raising his eyebrow every time before cracking up.

One of my favorite things for sale at the Smithsonian, in honor of both the rocks and minerals collection and the insect zoo in the Museum of Natural History, is "InsectNside" Amber Candy, in which hard candy encloses actual dead bugs. Cockroach Cluster anyone?

Hopefully Friday morning I will have my cable back and will be able to read and answer comments and stuff -- I can't even e-mail because AOL won't let me use my own smtp and I don't want my AOL screen name attached to all my mail.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poem for Thursday

In Memory of M.B.
By Anna Akhmatova
Translated by Max Hayward and Stanley Kunitz

Here is my gift, not roses on your grave,
not sticks of burning incense.
You lived aloof, maintaining to the end
your magnificent disdain.
You drank wine, and told the wittiest jokes,
and suffocated inside stifling walls.
Alone you let the terrible stranger in,
and stayed with her alone.

Now you're gone, and nobody says a word
about your troubled and exalted life.
Only my voice, like a flute, will mourn
at your dumb funeral feast.
Oh, who would have dared believe that half-crazed I,
I, sick with grief for the buried past,
I, smoldering on a slow fire,
having lost everything and forgotten all,
would be fated to commemorate a man
so full of strength and will and bright inventions,
who only yesterday it seems, chatted with me,
hiding the tremor of his mortal pain.


Had a quiet day returning a million phone calls, but it was productive: I found younger son a violin teacher for the fall, I made appointments that have to be taken care of before school starts, I booked a DJ for older son's Bar Mitzvah after discovering that his vehement refusal had stemmed not from not wanting music -- he does want music, and has a great many opinions about what should be played -- but because he is afraid that his grandmother will force him to dance the hora in front of everyone if there is a DJ, which we assured him will not happen and we will in fact instruct the DJ to leave "Hava Nagila" home. (None of his friends know how to dance a hora and very few of my friends know how to dance a hora, so my mother's repeated insistence that this is an absolutely necessary part of a Bar Mitzvah really only includes her friends, so they can go dance one in the hallway if they feel that strongly about it! I remember being convinced that my father's brother was going to tip me out of the chair and I was going to break my arm both at my Bat Mitzvah and my wedding so I am very sympathetic to this, particularly since aforementioned uncle is flying out from California for the celebration.)

Son had his second meeting with the rabbi, who was very impressed with his Torah portion -- wants it memorized by next week, but I have no doubt son can do this if he practices more than the five minutes a day he did this week -- and warned us that if we wanted to take family photos in the sanctuary, we needed to make an appointment to do it sometime other than the morning of the Bar Mitzvah so that is the phone call for tomorrow. Plus lunch with , yay! And in the evening we are going back to the woman who does centerpieces and table cards without my mother and with my son so he can tell her exactly what he does and does not want.

In the evening we all watched Proof (the Anthony Hopkins-Gwyneth Paltrow-Jake Gyllenhaal one, not the Russell Crowe-Hugo Weaving one, though I highly recommend that one too). I had thought just I would watch it, since was baking brownies and the kids were playing video games, but to my surprise first younger son, then older son sat down and started watching. I had not expected to like it all that much because of the Gwyneth factor, but she was very good in the role and very good opposite Hopkins, who is playing a riff on (speaking of) Russell Crowe's character from A Beautiful Mind -- in fact the whole movie felt a little derivative, the schizophrenic math genius and the woman who sacrificed her own genius to support him, but here the woman is the central character and the dynamic is completely different since she's his daughter rather than his wife.

I'm not sure the metaphor of existential proof versus mathematical proofs really works, and it's always weird watching a movie about something literally incomprehensible to me -- I had to ask older son whether he'd heard of one of the theorems being discussed, because if I ever did, I've forgotten. Still, it has one feature that absolutely sold me on it: it's set at the University of Chicago, and was actually filmed in Hyde Park, and there are many scenes sitting on the Point and driving up Lake Shore Drive and walking on the campus that made me so nostalgic. Jake is very good, Hopkins is excellent as he nearly always is, and Gwyneth reminded me a bit of the character she played in Possession (who didn't remind me much of the same character in the novel Possession, but wasn't heinous on the Gwyneth scale) so Proof didn't do much to convince me that she has any range but she was fine in the role.

The National Museum of Natural History from the entrance to the Smithsonian Castle, oldest of the buildings in the institution, which has exhibits of a few items from each of the major collections.

An Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container, or ALSRC, used to transport moon rocks back to earth without threat of damage or contamination. This one never actually went to the moon but was used for training.

Prince's Yellow Cloud guitar, custom-made in Minneapolis during the period when he was The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, or represented by the symbol between the frets.

As you can see from the marker, these are pieces of the Hindenburg, which exploded and burned so famously.

Am still pleased by the entertainment news but as pointed out, we still have no answer to this question. *snerk*

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

By Natasha Trethewey

Here, she said, put this on your head.
She handed me a hat.
you 'bout as white as your dad,
and you gone stay like that.
Aunt Sugar rolled her nylons down
around each bony ankle,
and I rolled down my white knee socks
letting my thin legs dangle,
circling them just above water
and silver backs of minnows
flitting here then there between
the sun spots and the shadows.
This is how you hold the pole
to cast the line out straight.
Now put that worm on your hook,
throw it out and wait.
She sat spitting tobacco juice
into a coffee cup.
Hunkered down when she felt the bite,
jerked the pole straight up
reeling and tugging hard at the fish
that wriggled and tried to fight back.
A flounder, she said, and you can tell
'cause one of its sides is black.
The other is white, she said.
It landed with a thump.
I stood there watching that fish flip-flop,
switch sides with every jump.


My entire day was overshadowed by repeated phone-tagging about a meeting set up yesterday about centerpieces for son's Bar Mitzvah. Naturally, since I said three o'clock and she agreed, my mother had to call me (on the cell phone while I was driving to lunch with ) to leave a message reminding me that we were meeting at three o'clock. Then, naturally, she turned off her cell phone so that I couldn't reply and as it neared three o'clock wasn't sure whether she'd cancelled out or something because I hadn't reported in. She had not; she simply arranged to get there 20 minutes before me so she already had ideas about What Should Be Done before I arrived and she and the woman who does centerpieces could give me the same appalled expression when I explained (for the five thousand, four hundred and thirty-second time) that no, we were not having a DJ nor a professional emcee because the Bar Mitzvah boy specifically did not want one.

I have concluded that my mother has one of three plans: 1) Attempt to turn me into the sort of suburban socialite I resisted becoming in high school when she last pushed this hard for it, 2) Drive me insane so I'll be in a mental institution for the next several months or 3) Convince me to give up Judaism entirely and become a fully-practicing Pagan. If either of the latter is her goal, she's succeeding admirably...but wait, if she wanted me to give up Judaism she could just say so, and explaining that her daughter is in a mental institution would surely impact her social status almost as much as having a daughter who insists that people have been becoming Bar Mitzvahs for centuries without paying for a big freakin' background for the cake during the candle-lighting ceremony with the celebrant's name in big poofy letters matching the lettering on the little cards with table numbers. So yes, I am reliving my own childhood hell all over again! Because neither my son nor I care whether the electronic games are set up in the hallway near the bar or in the main party room, but apparently the success of the entire evening depends upon whether there will be a sign announcing this fact that matches the centerpieces! I told the husband that he was dealing with her from now on, as he can get away with a straightforward "No, it costs too much," whereas if I say that 1) I get guilt about how NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN MY SON'S HAPPINESS and 2) she just does an end-run around me and asks my husband anyway.

My redemption this evening was the discovery that Field of Dreams was on HBO Signature. I don't care what Kevin Costner says or does, I adore that movie and have since the first time I saw it when it made me cry. I know it's reputed to be a wussy male weepie (Time or People or one of those said so when it opened) and I think they're on crack. Scenes like the one at the end of this movie are why I love baseball movies even more than any given baseball game. We are going this weekend to see the Orioles play the White Sox after a long day in Baltimore -- 8:30 a.m. Breakfast with the Penguins at the zoo for son's birthday, then aquarium and science center before the ball game -- so I may need a reminder of why I love baseball by late afternoon! *g*

From Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, which can also be explored online, a medal from King Carlos III of Spain and a Spanish infantry sword. The medal was presented to Charles Dehault Delassus, the last French lieutenant governor of Upper Louisiana before the territory became part of the United States.

Bear claw necklace worn by Native Americans with whom Lewis negotiated as the expedition neared the west coast. He reported that killing a bear was considered an act of equal valor as killing an enemy.

Lewis brought fourteen brass kettles to trade with the Native Americans, reporting that brass was preferred to iron.

Out of money and food, Clark played tricks with this compass using a magnet to impress people by performing magic.

Trek news was all TNG Tuesday...Patrick Stewart once again saying that Star Trek to him is like a long-dead love affair and he doubts he'll be back unless lots and lots of money is involved because he is Alexander Dane from Galaxy Quest only not as hot (actually I made that last part up but he really is), and the writer of "The Inner Light" explaining what he wanted vs. what the producers wanted.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

Baby's Foot on My Brow
By Pak Chaesam
Translated by David R. McCann and Jiwon Shin

Two-year-old Sang-gyu,
asleep now
after toddling perilously about
the alleyway and courtyard
all day; your pretty feet
that crossed over the huge sun
beneath their soles:
Here, just once try a step
on your father's forehead,
steeper even than the gravel road.
Such soft, undirtied feet.


One more from Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World by Robert Pinsky, who says Chaesam's "kind of brevity suggests lenses for observing the details of galaxies or the mysteries of a cell. Or it can resemble the fine point of an engraver's tool, etching memory."

I don't have a lot of news to report from the day. The kids started camp, they seem to have had a great time -- it's mostly a sports camp with chess, art and science plus their favorite things: video game consoles that can be played at lunch and at the end of the day. They did mostly soccer and older son won candy in a chess tournament so they came home tired and happy. They were in no hurry to leave when I came to pick them up, which never happens at school!

Tonight I noticed that Serenity was on cable and decided it was time to give it a chance, after being apathetic about Firefly, which I sort of liked with some notable exceptions -- I find Whedon's aren't-I-clever dialogue rather cloying, and I can't stand Inara, neither the concept of her (phoniest prostitute in the entire sci-fi hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold genre and that's saying something after the Bajoran "comfort women" on Deep Space Nine) nor the casting (played by an actress with no chemistry with the man who supposedly would cross a galaxy for her). But I'd heard that her role had been minimized in the movie and even non-Firefly fan friends who are as bored by new BSG as I am liked it, so I figured I owed it to myself to watch it. The whole family ended up in the room, and although for the first 3/4 of an hour or so I remained unimpressed -- same issues with the clonking dialogue and still hiding my eyes from all the women but Gina Torres -- but then the storyline really got going and the movie moved away from reintroducing all the characters' carefully constructed quirks and the film absolutely rocked! I was pretty spoiled, but even knowing the secret of Miranda, totally riveted by how everything played out, and Fillion and Glau in particular gave much stronger performances than I ever saw from them on Firefly. So that was totally enjoyable, and everyone who told me to watch it was right, thank you, and we will all definitely watch that one again.

What really set this off, though, was trying to get myself kicked off the TrekBBS -- well, not really, but it did occur to me that I might. *G* I had surfed into a thread on Lady in the Water hoping to be spoiled enough to decide whether I wanted to see the movie in the theater -- am up and down on Shyamalan, thought The Sixth Sense was brilliant even though I knew the twist by the restaurant scene, and was spoiled for the gimmick in The Village but thought it was a much better movie than most reviewers did, but I never saw Signs because I don't like the cast and I didn't think Unbreakable was all that clever. Plus my husband's brother just catered Bryce Dallas Howard's vegan wedding on Ron Howard's estate in Connecticut -- she eats at his restaurant a lot and he knows her reasonably well -- so since she seems like a good egg, I am happy to support her work, and Paul Giamatti is Bart Giamatti of Yale's son so again he's easy for me to like even if I hated Sideways. Anyway, someone had made the comment that Lady... hadn't done all that well its first weekend, and someone else said not to worry, if it sold well on DVD then there still might be a sequel, and a moderator warned the second person for harrassing Serenity fans! I wouldn't even have connected the statement to Serenity without that comment -- it's sure not the only film greenlit after a boffo DVD success. I have long thought that Whedon was a whiny brat for going on and on about how the world clearly wasn't ready for his brilliance with Firefly but are his fans really such mewling prats that people can't make factual statements about his film's receipts? Sheesh!

The other fun conversation on the BBS was this one, in which some people with far too much time on their hands try to analyze the meaning of the balance of colors in the Star Trek XI poster -- what does it mean that there's more blue than gold and no red, does it mean no Scotty, does it mean "The Cage"-era uniforms, does it mean McCoy and Spock play major roles? And I could not resist, and said that since the blue comes down beneath the insignia at sort of an angle, kind of like a slash, it must be indicative that J.J. Abrams is planning the Kirk/Spock love story we've all been waiting for. And, you know, I must say something else: I may have qualms about Abrams running the franchise, but at least it didn't go to Whedon.

From Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, some of which can also be explored online. Meriwether Lewis borrowed this history of Louisiana from his friend Benjamin Smith Barton, took it across North America and inscribed it for Barton on his return.

William Clark was only a lieutenant when he set out and only entitled to wear a single epaulette on the expedition, but this is one of a pair he bought as a brigadier general of the Louisiana Territorial Militia in 1808.

The watch Lewis initially took on the journey had a double case and a second hand, but it filled with sand in the Dakotas and stopped working. This one is circa 1796-7. I love getting to see stuff like this firsthand.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Poem for Monday

From the Song of a Celebrated Singer
By Pak Chaesam
Translated by David R. McCann and Jiwon Shin

Wind that moves among the pine branches;
with such a gentle stirring, my love,
I wish I could go to you.

But this is a dream
that eighty years of practice will not bring.
So it is. With this flesh-stained,
blood-stained voice, my one, sole possession,
torn from the field that I
cultivate, ripped root, branch and trunk
from my innermost body
shaken to its core, I sing you
this song.


Another by the poet from Sunday's Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "A poem's brevity can give excitement and pleasure," writes Pinsky, who did not talk about the above poem, which I found elsewhere while looking for more work by Korean poet Chaesam because it's lovely and I didn't want to cheat anyone of their daily dose of poetry by posting a poem of only four lines. Pinsky calls Chaesam's sequence of four-line poems "good-humored and delicate" and analyzes this one:

Four-Line Poems 3: Place

As you play the delightful melody,
your fingers trace between where strings are or not.
At this very moment there is no tracing
if my mind is here or not.


"The minute negative space traced by the musician's fingers, a graceful code of absences and presences, provides a revealing, intricate comparison for the alternately mindful or self-forgetful state of the mind in pleasure," notes Pinsky, "a dance of consciousness and unconsciousness as rapid and intricate as the movement of fingertips over frets and strings." The second poem is appropriate anyway, since my major activity for the day was going to hear live Celtic music.

We had a relatively quiet Sunday morning. I had a bit of work to catch up on -- editing and coding a long article about upcoming Star Trek Pocket Books for 2007, and the inevitable "OMG PARAMOUNT MADE A TREK XI POSTER!" brief article with which I could not include an image of said poster, distributed at San Diego Comic-Con and online, because TrekToday's FTP was down, the site owner is somewhere on a film shoot and the tech guy from England is on vacation somewhere in the US. I am torn looking at it between being thrilled at the indication that we're returning to Kirk's era and being paralyzed with fear about what J.J. Abrams and his buddies are going to do with it. Kurtzman and Orci wrote great crack on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys but they would not have been my first choice to reinvent Star Trek.

In the afternoon we tried to buy younger son shoes, but our favorite shoe store in the local mall was, to our astonishment, closed! So we wandered around in the toy store for a bit, then went once again to McLean Community Park...this time to hear IONA, the superb Celtic traditional group from the DC area whom we last saw at the Potomac Celtic Festival two years ago. They are really amazing musicians -- Barbara, the lead singer, also plays guitar, bodhrán, bouzouki and some kind of foot drum, and they have a superb bass player (carries most of the melodies since the guitar is used more for percussion, lovely voice, good sense of humor) and a fiddle player just back from placing second in the National Scottish Fiddle Championships. They were having a launch party for their new CD, A Celebration of Twenty, which is one disc of music they've played for two decades and another of music they recorded for the first time. Unlike last week when we saw Ocean Orchestra, the temperature was tolerable and we sat in the shade!

IONA's Bernard Argent leads a group of people from the audience in an Irish dance at McLean Community Park.

Argent, Chuck Lawhorn, Barbara Ryan and Andrew Dodds performing in the gazebo.

Look familiar? It's a great spot for summer concerts.

Brotherhood continues to be not really my sort of show -- I have to turn down the volume because the kids are generally not asleep by 10 and the amount of swearing and ethnic slurring is exhorbitant though likely realistic, there's far more violence than I want to see and I still find the supposedly virtuous characters harder to swallow than the ones who know how bad they are. Nonetheless, I'd watch for Jason Isaacs and Annabeth Gish even if I didn't like the rest of the cast, which is uniformly excellent. I am kind of astonished the city of Providence cooperated with the filming of this series, because they've certainly convinced me that I'd never want to live anywhere so dirty, corrupt, unsafe for children and fostering so many prejudices!

The kids start camp tomorrow! Don't take this the wrong way because I adore them and all, but yaaay I think we all need this! *g*

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Poem for Sunday

After an Illness
By Pak Chaesam
Translated by David R. McCann and Jiwon Shin

Spring is coming.
Like hair just untied.
Savor of garlic greens
that clean the palate.
The blood has cooled, now,
and will flow as it should.

Notice the buds, small steeples,
where the earth, sensitive as skin,
breaks just open
to a dull pain
mixed with delight.
Generous bounty makes all living things
seem like an elder brother.

Earth-rooted life,
sky-reaching to play or rest
with sunlight and wind,
great heaven and tiny earth, your
brilliant gesture that cannot be


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "Compactness may be one strength of the art [of poetry]," he writes, citing Chaesam, who died in 1997, as a practitioner at the level of William Blake and Emily Dickinson, who also wrote short poems. "Sharply observed, small details open out into large emotions in 'After an Illness.' The steeple-buds, the living skin of soil, the unbound hair, the garlic greens: These details link the 'tiny earth' of the poet's recuperation with the seasonal process of the natural world, 'earth-rooted' but 'sky-reaching.'"

Saturday morning my in-laws came from Pennsylvania to celebrate younger son's birthday. made us all pancakes, eggs and bacon; mother-in-law had made younger son a quilt and matching pillowcase with -- wait for it! -- penguins on it, and also gave him money which has been earmarked for some video game coming out in September, I forget which. Then we went downtown to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, which has a great photography display, Wondrous Cold: An Antarctic Journey, including photos of the ruins of Shackleton's hideout and researchers at work at various scientific stations but also, as you might imagine, lots of photos of penguins, and the temporary exhibit Lewis and Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition, which follows the explorers' journey across North America with many artifacts that belonged to them and others representing the Native Americans and Europeans they met along the way (there was a wonderful display on Sacagawea explaining all the things we don't know about her, since pretty much everything we do know was written by very biased white men).

Younger son couldn't decide what he was in the mood for for dinner and in-laws were on a tight schedule -- they had to get home to their aging, ailing dog -- so we just ended up at the mall food court, where some people had Italian, some people had Chinese and some people (all right, only the birthday boy) had McDonald's. Then we came back, had some of the cookie cake 's mother had made, said goodbye to in-laws and went to Virginia to Potomac Overlook Park, where Laurie and Peter were giving a free outdoor concert. When we arrived, the skies were blue, the birdies were tweeting in the trees, the children were playing in the grass. Six songs into the concert, the sky literally opened up...two drops fell, and then without transition there was a raging torrent. There had been a thunderstorm watch for all of the DC area until 10 p.m. but there wasn't a cloud overhead two minutes before the downpour.

There was a tent set up because there had been a Living Green Energy Fair earlier in the day, and several of us crammed under it while Peter and Laurie kept on singing through the storm, taking requests (they played "Anchor" and "All Around the World," my two favorites of their songs). By the time we left there was no one else there but people who worked for the park! It was cooler and the air was electrified and I felt great. Give me soaking-wet-in-thunderstorm over dry-in-murderous-heat any time.

Peter and Laurie at the beginning of their concert at Potomac Overlook Park.

As you can see, electronics are solar-powered at this park.

It was a perfectly calm, lovely evening marred only by the noise from planes overhead going to nearby National Airport.

Kids were chasing bubbles on the grass.

And here is the view twenty minutes later from beneath the canopy, the nearly empty grass and stage through the pouring rain.

My e-mail is working again, but mail from the past three days is still trickling in slowly in no apparent order, so I am very behind! And I got no work done today though once my e-mail came unstuck I got a bunch about a new Star Trek movie poster...sheesh, one minute Abrams is signing a gazillion-dollar contract and the next they're hyping a film that's not even properly in pre-production. I hope I like it better than I like Lost.

And incidentally, now has its own LiveJournal for site updates. Not that I know the site owner or anything. *snerk*

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Poem for Saturday

South Wind
By Siegfried Sassoon

Where have you been, South Wind, this May-day morning,—
With larks aloft, or skimming with the swallow,
Or with blackbirds in a green, sun-glinted thicket?

Oh, I heard you like a tyrant in the valley;
Your ruffian haste shook the young, blossoming orchards;
You clapped rude hands, hallooing round the chimney,
And white your pennons streamed along the river.

You have robbed the bee, South Wind, in your adventure,
Blustering with gentle flowers; but I forgave you
When you stole to me shyly with scent of hawthorn.


MY E-MAIL IS STILL DOWN. Hostway says it's back, but I have only received two pieces of e-mail in the past 24 hours, and I know I received nearly 40 LJ comments in that time that haven't arrived yet, so I can only imagine how many e-mails have not been delivered. If I owe you a tag or a comment to your comment or anything, I apologize. Please if you want to get ahold of me for anything, write to me at my user name here @ gmail!

It was mostly a quiet Friday, since we're doing lots of stuff this weekend and I've had to take headache medicine every day this week, including Excedrin with a chaser of Imitrex last night. My father took the kids swimming in the afternoon, and our original plan was to eat dinner early and then go see a free production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona in Laurel outdoors on the grounds of the Montpelier Mansion, but it was still 90 degrees at 6:30, the traffic reports weren't promising, the kids don't know the play at all -- they are far more attentive when they're somewhat familiar with the source material, like Midsummer Night's Dream or Much Ado or Macbeth which we are going to see at Blackfriars in a few weeks -- so instead we went to Toys R Us and another store to look for stuff younger son might want with his birthday money (and POTC action figures I might want but refrained from buying...well, okay, not completely, I did order an Elizabeth in boy's clothes off eBay because I just cannot resist).

The other thing younger son wanted for his birthday was a compilation CD, with some songs that were on his compilation CD from his birthday last year ("Pain", "Donkey Riding"), some songs I like ("Somebody Told Me", "The Kraken" from the POTC:DMC soundtrack), and then the nightmare that began when he said, "I want that Numa Numa song." Looking it up on iTunes initially turned up a bunch of Latino singers but not the right song, so we did some investigating and discovered that it was the electronic dance horror "Mi Ya Hi" that he wanted (and then we had to figure out whether it was the club mix, the Valentine mix, the Italian version or the freakin' original Romanian version which proved to be the right one).

I know there are lots of people on my flist right now shrieking in revulsion and possibly unfriending me, as I have just demonstrated beyond hope of redemption that I am a part of the ultra-uncool Parental Generation! But this song sets a new standard for songs that get stuck in your head until you want to claw out your brain...a position previously occupied by Boston's "Amanda", Springsteen's "Born in the USA", No Mercy's version of "Where Do You Go" from the Night at the Roxbury soundtrack and most recently Great Big Sea's "Captain Kidd", all of which now seem not only harmless but quite desirable by comparison.

Frog hiding from the heat under a bush.

: The Road Less Traveled
1. What don't you understand?
Trigonometry. Faith vs. free will. Why the cat lies on her back looking like she desperately wants her belly rubbed but then sits up and gets all snarky when her belly is in fact rubbed.
2. Name someone in your life with blue eyes: My husband.
3. When is a lie not really a lie? When the person asking whether the dress makes her look fat clearly does not really want to know.
4. When is the last time you got really dirty? Yesterday when my son managed to get his ice cream all over the back of my silver cotton dress. Graaar.
5. Are you a lefty or a righty? Righty.

from last week: My First, My Last, My...
Name the last person you...
1. Hugged:
My older son when he was on the way to bed.
2. Smiled at: Probably the same.
3. Deceived: My mother, when I told her I would take 50 things she wants at the Bar Mitzvah into account.
4. Glared at: My cat, but she started it.
5. Lusted after: Severus Snape.

: Famous
1. What talent(s) do you have that could make you famous?
I'm a famous historian! No wait, that's . Um. I can pack rat with the best of them.
2. If you could be famous for one day, what would you do? Hide.
3. If you were so famous that money was no object, where would you live? In a castle with a moat in wait, already been done. In a tasteful not very big house on the Atlantic Ocean.
4. If you could meet any famous person, who would it be? George Bush so I could give him a piece of my mind. I've met a lot of the famous people I really admire and it was nearly always a letdown...Glenn Close and Louise Fletcher (whose birthday is tomorrow) being important exceptions.
5. What would be your famous catch phrase/quote/motto/last words? Making no compromises with the public taste. (Which is already my web site catch phrase but I can't take credit for it -- it belongs to The Little Review and Margaret Anderson.)

from last week: Unique
1. What about you makes you unique?
I have a very screwy personal theological system.
2. What aspect of your physical appearance do you think makes you stick out from the crowd? I'm 4'10" so if I am with anyone over age 10, I am short by comparison.
3. What do you always have with you while out in public? (for example, earrings, purse, wallet, watch, etc.) My MDA.
4. Is there anything about your body that you think isn't normal? Other than the being short thing, not really.
5. What are you complimented on (looks, smarts, anything) the most? Why do you think that's the case? Quick wit. Which is not to be confused with true smarts, but I went a long way on it in college.

Happy Birthday Louise Fletcher!

Friday, July 21, 2006


We regret to inform you that we have been experiencing a long delay in resolving a problem with our Email system. The storage array that maintains your emails is in the process of checking itself, but the process is taking inordinately long due to the sheer size and complexity of the array. Please note that throughout the duration of the problem, emails sent to you are waiting in queue and should be delivered to you later today. However, please be patient as there are hundreds of thousands of emails in queue. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Rest assured, we are devoting every available resource to expedite the resolution.

So, yeah, if I owe you a note or a comment or an RP tag? Please write to me at my username at gmail!!!

In other news, who do I have to sleep with to get a Vox invite? Anyone got one they can spare? *G*

Poem for Friday

Nature: LXXII
By Emily Dickinson

The mountain sat upon the plain
In his eternal chair,
His observation omnifold,
His inquest everywhere.

The seasons prayed around his knees,
Like children round a sire:
Grandfather of the days is he,
Of dawn the ancestor.


Since it was younger son's birthday I told him we could do whatever he wanted within reason, which means he played video games all morning and then asked to be taken to Burger King to use his free meal coupon. Older son hates Burger King with a passion (for reasons I do not understand, as he likes McDonald's) and managed to stall younger son long enough that they decided they wanted frozen chicken nuggets and then to go see Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties again, knowing that I would agree to this because it's set at Castle Howard. So off we went to the only theater in Maryland that still appears to be showing the film, which was actually more enjoyable than I was expecting -- much funnier than the first one, with less Jennifer Love Hewitt which is all to the good (few people in general except for a very funny Billy Connolly as the villain, and Bob Hoskins and Tim Curry did the major animal voices besides Garfield which is also all to the good). There are many gorgeous exterior shots of Yorkshire and a typical movie postcard-of-London montage, which I always like whether it's Match Point or Wimbledon or this.

We had dinner with my parents, who got younger son some books and the newest Bionicle DVD and some Legos; we got him the POTC version of The Game of Life, a couple of Nintendo games, a penguin CD holder and some more books, plus we're taking him next month to meet a penguin at Mystic Aquarium, staying with my sister in New York and taking some portion of her family with us (her youngest is too young to go to the penguin event and has fits if she is denied anything her older sisters get to do). We had teriyaki chicken and lo mein -- his choice -- and made a cake with little icing penguins on it.

Icing penguins...

...on the birthday cake...

And a penguin CD case!

TV meme, because I was on the phone with relatives and trying to occupy my brain: Bold all of the following TV shows which you've ever seen 3 or more episodes of in your lifetime. Italicize a show if you're positive you've seen every episode of it.

7th Heaven
Aeon Flux
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Alien Nation
American Idol/Pop Idol/Canadian Idol/Australian Idol/etc.
America's Next Top Model/Germany's Next Top Model
Arrested Development
Babylon 5
Babylon 5: Crusade
Battlestar Galactica (the old one)
Battlestar Galactica (the new one)
Beavis & Butthead
Beverly Hills 90210
Bosom Buddies
Boston Legal
Boy Meets World
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Bug Juice
Chappelle's Show
Charlie's Angels
Commander in Chief
Cowboy Bebop
Crossing Jordan
CSI: Miami
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Dancing with the Stars
Danny Phantom
Dark Angel
Dark Skies
Davinci's Inquest
Dawson's Creek
Dead Like Me
Deadliest Catch
Degrassi: The Next Generation
Designing Women
Desperate Housewives
Dharma & Greg
Different Strokes
Doctor Who
Due South
Earth 2
Everybody Loves Raymond
Facts of Life
Family Guy
Family Ties
Fawlty Towers
Get Smart
Gilligan's Island
Gilmore Girls
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Green Wing
Grey's Anatomy
Growing Pains
Hannah Montana
Happy Days
Hogan's Heroes
Home Improvement
Homicide: Life on the Street
I Dream of Jeannie
I Love Lucy
Invader Zim
Hell's Kitchen
John Doe
LA Law
Laverne and Shirley
Little House on the Prairie
Lizzie McGuire
Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Lost in Space
Love, American Style
Malcolm in the Middle
Married... With Children
Melrose Place
Miami Vice
Mission: Impossible
Mork & Mindy
Murphy Brown
My Life as a Dog
My Three Sons
My Two Dads
Northern Exposure
One Tree Hill
Perry Mason
Picket Fences
Power Rangers
Prison Break
Project Runway
Quantum Leap
Queer As Folk (US)
Queer as Folk (British)
Remington Steele
Rescue Me
Road Rules
Saved by the Bell
Scarecrow and Mrs. King
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?
Sex and the City
Six Feet Under
Slings and Arrows
So Weird
South Park
Spongebob Squarepants
Sports Night
Star Trek
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Star Trek: Voyager
Star Trek: Enterprise
Stargate Atlantis
Stargate SG-1
Teen Titans
That 70's Show
That's So Raven
The 4400
The Addams Family
The Andy Griffith Show
The A-Team
The Avengers
The Beverly Hillbillies
The Bionic Woman
The Brady Bunch
The Cosby Show
The Daily Show
The Dead Zone
The Dick Van Dyke Show
The Flintstones
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
The Golden Girls
The Honeymooners
The Jeffersons
The Jetsons
The L Word
The Love Boat
The Man from UNCLE
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
The Mighty Boosh
The Monkees
The Munsters
The Mythbusters
The O.C.
The Office (UK)
The Office (US)
The Pretender
The Real World
The Shield
The Simpsons
The Six Million Dollar Man
The Sopranos
The Suite Life of Zack and Cody
The Twilight Zone
The Waltons
The West Wing
The Wonder Years
The X-Files
Third Watch
Three's Company
Top Gear
Twin Peaks
Twitch City
Veronica Mars
Whose Line is it Anyway? (US)
Whose Line is it Anyway? (UK)
Will and Grace
Xena: Warrior Princess

But where are All in the Family and Space: 1999 and VR5 and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Andromeda and Relic Hunter and Freakylinks and Prey, and that most important SF classic, Quark?

My mail is down -- I haven't received any since some time this afternoon. Do me a favor and write to me at my usual name at gmail if you're trying to reach me Friday morning, and forward anything you sent after 1 p.m. Thursday!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Louise Fletcher Appreciation Page Update

Louise is working on a new film, The Last Sin Eater, with Henry Thomas and Peter Wingfield.

Updated the filmography page.

Happy birthday to Louise on Saturday, July 22!

Poem for Thursday

Stone Trees
By John Freeman

Last night a sword-light in the sky
Flashed a swift terror on the dark.
In that sharp light the fields did lie
Naked and stone-like; each tree stood
Like a tranced woman, bound and stark.
      Far off the wood
With darkness ridged the riven dark.

And cows astonished stared with fear,
And sheep crept to the knees of cows,
And conies to their burrows slid,
And rooks were still in rigid boughs,
And all things else were still or hid.
      From all the wood
Came but the owl's hoot, ghostly, clear.

In that cold trance the earth was held
It seemed an age, or time was nought.
Sure never from that stone-like field
Sprang golden corn, nor from those chill
Grey granite trees was music wrought.
      In all the wood
Even the tall poplar hung stone still.

It seemed an age, or time was none...
Slowly the earth heaved out of sleep
And shivered, and the trees of stone
Bent and sighed in the gusty wind,
And rain swept as birds flocking sweep.
      Far off the wood
Rolled the slow thunders on the wind.

From all the wood came no brave bird,
No song broke through the close-fall'n night,
Nor any sound from cowering herd:
Only a dog's long lonely howl
When from the window poured pale light.
      And from the wood
The hoot came ghostly of the owl.


I was in the mood for a sword poem because younger son and I watched The Man in the Iron Mask, which I had managed never to see before for reasons that utterly elude me. My two young second cousins (young in the sense that one is now a sophomore at Tufts and the other a senior in high school) were obsessed with the film when it was new, and at some family gathering or other they sang its praises to me so highly that I swore not to see it -- in my defense they were later obsessed with Eminem, and after that we agreed that they could have Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen if I could have Sean Bean (by the time the Harry Potter movies rolled around there was not even a quarrel, as they had declared Alan Rickman and Jason Isaacs hopelessly too old and only wanted the boys who are way too young to be of interest to me). To make a long story short, at some point in the past year it came to my attention that not only had Total Eclipse cured me of my DiCaprio aversion, but that the film also stars Jeremy Irons, John Malkovitch, Gerard Depardieu and Gabriel Byrne, any one of whom would be a good enough reason for me to see most movies. Plus young Peter Sarsgaard as Malkovitch's son -- a dead ringer, it's amazing! -- and Hugh Laurie, whose show I don't even watch, as a very hot royal advisor, and Anne Parillaud of the original La Femme Nikita as the Queen Mother...yeah, I was a dope not to watch this sooner.

Anyway, younger son (whose birthday it is on Thursday) and I greatly enjoyed the film...I like the costumes, the palace decorations with all their secret passages, the grumpy old Musketeers, Irons yet again as a priest who makes rather unorthodox use of his position, Depardieu and his multiple women and his venereal complaints, Malkovitch being heartbreaking after Athos' tragedies (I wondered whether he didn't like working with Leo, because he pulled out of Total Eclipse after River Phoenix died and they recast with DiCaprio, thus paving the way for David Thewlis in the hottest scenes ever), Byrne being noble, Laurie looking good enough to eat and the guilty-pleasure royalty in which it's okay to like a King so long as he's not only an impostor but also illegitimate.

The rest of the day was taken up first with taking younger son to the orthodontist, who read him the riot act about brushing more often -- told me loudly in his presence that he was going to have stained, ugly teeth -- and then meeting with the rabbi about older son's Bar Mitzvah, our first family meeting, in which we discovered just how much of a fight we are going to have with the synagogue if we want my (practicing Christian) in-laws on the bimah and my (agnostic thus not formal convert) husband reading the blessings; this rabbi is entirely sympathetic, coming from an interfaith household (this explains a lot about how a Jewish boy got to be 6'6") but we are going to have to quarrel about policy with the head rabbi. Am planning to bring my mother the Hebrew school teacher in if necessary, since we just invited everyone she knows to the reception!

In honor of younger son's birthday, Stanley the Penguin at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh during our trip earlier this summer.

Happy anniversary of the moon landing, something I am unlikely ever to forget due to the day it's on!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

Dead Man, Thinking
By Bruce Weigl

    Snow geese in the light of morning sky,
exactly at the start of spring. I was
    looking through the cracks of the blinds at my future which seemed
absent of parades, for which I was grateful,
    and only yesterday

I watched what an April wind could do
    to a body wrapped in silk,
though I turned my eyes away,
    the way the teacher says,
once the beauty was revealed.

How long it takes to die, in the fifty-fifth year
    is what I thought about today.
I told some truths so large, no one could bear to hear them.
    I bow down to those who could not hear the truth.
They could not hear the truth because they were afraid
    that it would open a veil into nothing.
I bow down to that nothing. I bow down to a single red planet
    I saw in the other world’s sky,
    as if towards some
fleshy inevitability.

    I bow down to the red planet. I bow down
to the noisy birds, indigenous to this region.
    Only sorrow can bend you in half
    like you’ve seen on those whose loves have gone away.
I bow down to those loves.


I am officially sick of this heat wave. Not only have I had a headache every day since I got back from the beach -- not one long consistent headache, thankfully, but every evening after spending as little time out of doors as possible I've still ended up with one -- but the kids are completely stir-crazy, not in camp till next week and I can't even order them to go outside and run around between 10 and 4.

Today, since the van was in being repaired in the morning, we went out for California Tortilla for a late lunch and then upon discovering that Over the Hedge is no longer playing anywhere near here, went to see POTC:DMC again. The kids asked for it, honestly! I must admit that I have a new favorite line and a new favorite hilarious moment this time around, now that I caught the details: The line was Jack's to Elizabeth when he thought she was a boy who wanted to join his crew and she said she was there to follow her true love: "I'm deeply flattered, son, but my first and only love is the sea." And the hilarious moment is Jack the shish kebab, which was hilarious last time too but this time I kept hearing John Cleese explaining what to do when you are attacked by a fruit! Because the movie has given me bunnies:

One of the rabbits of Bethany Beach, lounging outside the condo where we stayed.

Once it realized we knew it was there, it took off to eat grass in a nearby ditch.

Had minor crisis with parents regarding last-minute Bar Mitzvah invitations. Ran into friends of theirs at the movies, people and I like very much, sister and brother-in-law of another friend of my parents who is already invited. Told mother I wanted them on the list. Mother has been in a weird position because father can't stand her best friend's husband, who admittedly has done some very horrible things -- father refused to have him at the Bar Mitzvah even though I wanted mother's friend, had offered to invite her just coming from me and her daughter with whom I went to school. Apparently parents argued it out because now they are saying to invite them as well as the people we ran into at the movies. And now I think we are utterly done with invitations!

Let's see. I could talk about Israel but pretty much all coverage except Tikkun's makes me cry for one reason or another. I could talk about -- surprise! -- the discovery that federal funds for crisis pregnancy centers are being used to tell women who choose to terminate pregnancies that they're going to die of breast cancer if they don't kill themselves first from "post-abortion syndrome." But, you know, I think I'd rather think about pirates.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Photo Update

Photos: Penguin Tour, June 2006

Photos: Trip to Delaware, July 2006

Poem for Tuesday

Chateau If
By Peter Gizzi

         If love if then if now if the flowers of if the conditional
if of arrows the condition of if
         if to say light to inhabit light if to speak if to live, so
         if to say it is you if love is if your form is if your waist that
pictures the fluted stem if lavender
         if in this field
         if I were to say hummingbird it might behave as an
adjective here
         if not if the heart’s a flutter if nerves map a city if a city
on fire
         if I say myself am I saying myself (if in this instant) as if
the object of your gaze if in a sentence about love you might
write if one day if you would, so
         if to say myself if in this instance if to speak as
         if only to render if in time and accept if to live now as if
disembodied from the actual handwritten letters m-y-s-e-l-f
         if a creature if what you say if only to embroider—a
city that overtakes the city I write.


The weather continued hot and miserable so my big excitement for the day was taking the kids to Target. I also tried to catch up on Star Trek news, only to discover I didn't miss much! Other than the annual Emmy nomination round-up article, which I had assumed someone else would get posted (I think now I'll wait till the morning of the Emmys to talk about who's up for what), there isn't much on other genre sites that we're way behind in covering. Covering the news was mostly reading about J.J. Abrams' new contract -- which just makes me think he is a greedy jerk, and considering I'm not even a Lost fan, does nothing to excite me -- plus discovering that Jeri Ryan is getting married again, probably too late to save Jack's career in Illinois politics though. *snerk*

I know the Emmy nomination system changed this year because people felt the old system favored the big networks too much, but I see that the WB didn't fare any better in its final season of existence, and there are a lot of inexplicable omissions -- Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette both went from winning last year to not even getting nominated this year? And I'm happy Shatner got a nod, but why did Spader not get one too when he carries the emotional weight of Boston Legal? It's just silly. Ah well, I gather that Patrick Stewart did get a nomination for some HBO guest appearance.

had a link to this site with the worst URLs around. I've long thought about registering, so I was really howling about the penisland one, though that one is clearly not accidental: "Whether you're looking for a long and skinny pen, a thick pen, a fountain pen that squirts ink, or even a black pen, we have just the one for you." Hee!

Many geese and a mother and baby ducks...

...swim after a paddleboat in the lake at Rio.

Watched the first POTC with the kids in the evening because we were all in the mood for it and it is always good, not a film that ever gets old. In the morning the van is going in to be fixed -- one of the rear seats is stuck and won't come up, and we need the tire looked at -- so I will be home with boys without transportation. I may make hubby come home for lunch so we can drop him off at work and go see Over the Hedge or something and then pick him up at the end of the day.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Poem for Monday

Epitaph on a Hare
By William Cowper

Here lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
Nor swiftewd greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne'er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman's hallo',

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nurs'd with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confin'd,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance ev'ry night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regal'd,
On pippins' russet peel;
And, when his juicy salads fail'd,
Slic'd carrot pleas'd him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he lov'd to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.

His frisking wa at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching show'rs,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out all his idle noons,
And ev'ry night at play.

I kept him for his humour's sake,
For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath this walnut-shade
He finds his long, last home,
And waits inn snug concealment laid,
‘Till gentler puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney's box,
Must soon partake his grave.


Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. "The 18th-century Englishman William Cowper (1731-1800) closely observes the psychology and behavior of his pet rabbits," he writes. "Cowper's 'Epitaph on a Hare' includes these memorable lines on a loved, though less than perfectly lovable, the elegiac conclusion, Cowper reflects on his motives for keeping a pet and, by implication, on his own mortality. Cowper, a tormented man best known for his 'Lines Written During a Period of Insanity,' in this droll, sensitive account of Tiney and gentler Puss tells something about himself."

Sorry I'm late -- after a week at the beach with careful sun protection, I went to an outdoor concert yesterday in the late afternoon and apparently gave myself sunstroke. I had a murderous headache last night that would not respond to the migraine medicine that has never failed me and it took more drugs than were probably safe for me to take at once just to stop the nausea enough that I could fall asleep. The concert itself was very nice -- Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra played pretty much the same set they had played at the Washington Folk Festival, Steve Winick even came and sang in French with them, so although it was nearly a hundred degrees even in the partial shade where I was sitting (foolishly assuming that tree would prevent my arms from getting sunburned) it was fun to be at McLean Community Park, where we had previously seen just Lisa (ahaha, two years ago and I was babbling about Jason Isaacs in that entry too).

Fortunately the blinding pain didn't hit full-force until after the pilot and second episode of Brotherhood, which is definitely going to be my new guilty pleasure. I have probably noted before that I hate stories about mobsters -- it isn't that I expect people to be paragons, but organized crime holds no interest for me and as excited as I was to hear that Jason Isaacs would be starring on a Showtime series, my excitement immediately went down quite a bit after I heard he was playing an underworld criminal, which is why I haven't really babbled in excitement about the series. I had even sworn at one point that I was never seeing another movie about the mob but then came the year when the main Oscar contenders were Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump, and I just could not root for the latter.

So even though I have never seen an episode of The Sopranos and I've only sat through Viggo Mortensen's mobster films because they had Viggo Mortensen, I did watch Brotherhood. And I totally loved it. The staggeringly high sibling-slash factor even in Showtime's previews, which can all be watched on Showtime's web site (and they have podcasts here including an interview with Isaacs), includes this gem from Jason Clarke on his character: "I'm married to a lot of things. I'm married to my career. I'm married to my wife. I'm married to my brother. You know, good, bad, hell or high water, we're married to each other." There's also a clip where his character's wife, played by Annabeth Gish who is wonderful as always, says to him in bed, "You know, you're allowed to hate him," and he's all sulky and brooding and says, "I don't." Guh.

Anyway, if Jason Isaacs weren't in this I probably would not have watched the second episode -- it's quite violent and pretty nasty and goes out of its way to focus on all the characters' flaws and very little on their good points -- I expected shades of gray in good politician brother Tommy but he's basically the same as bad brother Michael, corrupt and selfish in very similar ways and much more high-and-mighty about his motives, while Eileen spends the first two episodes being miserable, falling apart and faking smiles, so that it's really hard to tell what would make her happy. The mother, Rose, is clearly pulling everyone's strings, which I like, and I am counting on her to keep my boys from getting killed (this seems like the kind of show where they're more likely to kill off the good brother than the bad one anyway!) So yeah, I'm happy, though overall on cable I'm not sure the gratuitous penises make up for the cutting off of ears and stuff.

Ocean Orchestra in the gazebo at McLean Community Park.

Trying to figure out what chores need to be done today since the van must go in for service tomorrow and we probably will have to replace the tire we got patched later in the week, too. The TrekToday site owner is not around and everything I posted yesterday created a headline without actually showing up on the site...I don't know what I am supposed to do about this! Can't really bear to talk about politics but maybe we should try this to drive Osama Bin Laden out of hiding. Also, for anyone else who's a fan of Kris Waldherr's art or Tarot work, she has revamped the Goddess Site.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Very Quick Thoughts on POTC:DMC

...which I loved, written in the car en route to a concert in Virginia.

1) Oh how I love Elizabeth. If I had Jack, Will and James around, I couldn't make up my mind either. Of any of them, she's the one whose morality I relate to the best: Will's too innately noble -- poor Orlando Bloom, saddled with yet another character who's written as too good to be true -- James is too selfish and caught up in his own ambitions and Jack is...well, Jack. I really thought Elizabeth meant all those things she said to Jack at the end right until she helped him do the right thing by chaining him up. (I foresee much bondage among her, Jack and Will once Jack is back, and James too because he should by all means be invited to work out his Jack Sparrow obsession). Jack so has Elizabeth's number: she ran away to sea because she wanted to as much as to find Will. I love that none of the men want her to be a proper lady and don't even pay attention anymore when she fake-faints.

2) My favorite line in the movie was probably Will's reiteration to Jack the phony story about his escape via sea turtles. Though I also loved all the eunuch jokes in various (fake) languages. I must admit that much as I adore Jack, Will's the one I'd marry; wouldn't want to BE him, but what a family man he is, without losing that fun edge that doesn't mind teaching his wife to be as good with a sword as he is and admiring her for dressing up as a boy so she can go to sea.

3) Speaking of which, I probably should have been as offended here as in King Kong about the crazy-stupid cannibalistic people of color, but all serious thought went out the window with the giant hamster ball of doom. I laughed so hard it hurt. Also, near the end, the giant gerbil wheel of doom with the three men...priceless, and I really hope there's something on the extras showing how they green-screened and filmed those stunts. This movie is playing with stereotypes about pirates, islanders and greedy East India Company Brits (and having a grand time doing so) rather than reinforcing them as thoughtlessly as King Kong did.

4) The SHIPS! When I saw the first POTC I was a little baffled why so many people were so impressed initially; it took me three viewings in the theater to really appreciate it, and my affection only grew with every DVD viewing (it helped that Curse of the Black Pearl is one of the best-packaged DVDs I've ever seen, with all those extras about filming and hilarious cast interviews and several wonderful documentaries about historical pirates and piracy). But I wasn't a full fledged ship geek then -- it was months before Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World converted me -- and I didn't appreciate either the things that were historically accurate and charming or the things that were fanciful and purely mythological. This time I was really noticing the ships and how they moved and how people moved on much fun.

More later...I am going now to see Ocean Orchestra at a park in McLean. I know I am behind on comments and tags, shall endeavor to catch up tonight.

, once again we ran into your sister and her offspring! We'll go see Superman with you and the kids if you want. *g*