Sunday, May 23, 2010

Poem for Sunday and Big Birthday

By Maya Angelou

There are some nights when
sleep plays coy,
aloof and disdainful.
And all the wiles
that I employ to win
its service to my side
are useless as wounded pride,
and much more painful.


Angelou threw herself an 82nd birthday party and political rally on Thursday, about which she said, "I have an attitude of gratitude. Nobody promised me this day," though when asked whom she blames for America's problems, she added, "I can't deal with it. Some of it is blithering ignorance. We look stupid in the world's polarizes us more, and I'm not that. I don't do that."

I spent Saturday afternoon with my local extended family at my Aunt Shirley's 90th birthday party, which was wonderful -- we missed the family Chanukah party this winter because of the snowpocalypse, so I hadn't seen most of the people there in nearly a year, including one cousin who spent a semester in South Africa and another cousin who's graduating from high school in a couple of weeks. The food was great -- the cousin who hosted the party and her husband have both done a lot of work in China, so there tend to be Asian-flavored meals there, which in this case included veggie dumplings, peanut noodles, salad with cranberries, and some kind of fabulous rice dish, plus another cousin recently became a professional bartender so she was mixing drinks. There were many toasts and speeches in tribute to my aunt, including a very funny one by two friends of one of her daughters whom I've known since I was about three years old (the theme being that nothing rhymed with ninety, so they had to rhyme instead with "fourscore plus ten" and "thirty times three"). I got to look at photos of penguins and safari animals from the Africa trip and I got to catch up with lots of people I've known for many years, so it was a lovely day.

The chocolate cake at Aunt Shirley's birthday party...

...and the pistachio cake. (I had both, of course.)

Me, Paul, my mom, and two of Cousin Debbie's friends with whom we used to go to the beach when I was very young.

Here is my cousin with her three oldest friends.

Here is my aunt with her daughters and granddaughters.

And here is the buffet table.

While we were out, Adam went to the opening festival for the neighborhood swimming pool where apparently he ate lots of sno-cones, and Daniel worked out the details of his Potbelly-and-Iron Man 2 date in the evening. We had frozen Trader Joe spinach pie for dinner, which was surprisingly good, then watched Amelia on DVD -- I'd seen it in the theater when it opened (comments here) but the DVD has two advantages: deleted scenes and actual newsreel footage of Earhart from Fox's archives, which alone would be worth the price of the DVD! The theatrical version had cut all mention of Dorothy Putnam, so I had no idea that Virginia Madsen played her -- she's wonderful, in terms of both how she's characterized and how Madsen plays her. (Mariska Hargitay plays the socialite Mabel Ball, also cut from the film.) Nearly all the deleted scenes have color correction and music, so I really wish they'd release an extended version including them; there are stunning flight sequences over more of Africa and Asia. And since I love Christopher Eccleston as Fred Noonan, I have a new theory on Earhart's disappearance: The Doctor carried her off in the TARDIS and dropped her off her on the planet with the 37s, where Voyager found her.

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