By Randall Mann
While you wait for the J train, for work, think
of your new boyfriend, who loves apostrophes,
sizzle-pants, and you.
Who pointed out the "Andrew Lloyd Webber" house
and said his feelings have started to "Escalade."
You'll forgive him for now, smarty pants.
(Your last, the crisp progressive, declawed
his cat to save his Ethan Allen chairs.) Besides,
there's such promise, such furniture and new sex!
Look: wildflowers bloom in the streetcar tracks;
a syringe lies in the grass. It isn't
beautiful, of course, this life. It is.
"'Monday' began on a Friday, in April 2007, when I flew to Palm Springs for what I hoped would be a romantic weekend with someone I thought I knew," writes Mann in Poet's Choice. "Well, it was a disaster from the start: He was a lovely specimen, but when leaving the Palm Springs airport, on a little spin around town, he grandly pointed out the 'Andrew Lloyd Webber' house on one block. (He meant Frank Lloyd Wright.) And it went downhill from there...very early Monday, when I returned to San Francisco, I grew more and more dispirited, mostly with myself, with my pettiness and impatience. That morning...prompted me to think, then think again, about this young man's beauty, which was his magnanimity, and my lack thereof. So the poem 'Monday,' like that long weekend, moves from hope to disdain to cruel self-knowledge and then, ultimately, back to hope."
We spent most of Saturday at the Maryland Science Center, which has the phenomenal Da Vinci - The Genius exhibit, an enormous traveling collection of reproductions of machines, artwork, writings, and devices either designed and produced by Da Vinci or proposed in his notebooks. My personal favorite part was a roomful of exhibits concerning the Mona Lisa, which was photographed extensively by a French photographer who designed a camera specifically to take high-resolution images without needing light that would damage the canvas -- he was able to prove, for instance, that the sky was originally painted with lapis lazuli, meaning that when Da Vinci painted it, it would have been a deep, glorious blue. There were reproductions of the painting showing how it looks under infrared and how the colors would have looked during the Renaissance, which makes the painting seem much more contemporary. There's also a reproduction of the back of the painting, which has some inexplicable marks on it, and an entire wall of close-ups of the Mona Lisa's eyes to show how the photographer proved she had eyebrows and eyelashes when she was first painted. But the entire exhibit, which has hands-on machines that kids can try, movies on the Sforza Horse and Vitruvian Man, and a long feature at the end with Mark Rylance playing Da Vinci.
Since we were in the museum, we also went to the planetarium show on dark matter, which talked about new theories about the Big Bang and the Large Hadron Collider's work in figuring out whether we can create particles whose existence we can't yet prove. Then we went up on the roof to the observatory, where the telescope was aimed at the sun, which had visible prominences but no sunspots that we could see. The Science on a Sphere projector was showing a film about the sun too. We visited the Chesapeake Bay exhibit, the dinosaurs, the weather station, and the hands-on science lab on the first floor before leaving for Silver Spring, since Daniel was going to his robotics team's alumni dinner at the Macaroni Grill there. Originally we had planned to drop him off, but we ended up parking in the lot connected to City Place Mall since we arrived early, and we decided we should go to Lebanese Taverna and shop while waiting for him (Burlington Coat Factory is still having a big sale and wasn't very crowded, and the mall has a terrific holiday display with model trains, Santa, and exhibits on Chanukah and Kwanzaa).
Photos were not allowed in the Da Vinci exhibit (indeed, cell phones were not permitted in the exhibit) so this is the only photo I could take -- one of Da Vinci's flying machines based on bat wings and an aerial screw, a concept similar to a helicopter but proposed to be launched by men walking around to turn the shaft.
Adam studies iron filaments reacting to a magnet inserted in a chamber in this cube.
And here Adam examines the sun through the telescope in the observatory.
Both my kids with the dry ice "tornado" in the weather center.
Me beside a reproduction dinosaur leg.
The pose of this dinosaur reminded us of a lazy cat...
...as did this Savannah Monitor, who lives in the dinosaur exhibit as an example of a contemporary reptile with some saurian features.
We got to pet this ball python, who was being introduced by one of the museum staff members.
We missed today's football games entirely but I understand that Maryland lost and Georgia beat Georgia Tech, so no big loss...and Notre Dame lost again! If anything else happened in the world or online, I missed hearing about it. Will try to catch up tomorrow.