Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poem for Sunday, Ga'Hoole and Durham Owls

A Barred Owl
By Richard Wilbur

The warping night air having brought the boom
Of an owl's voice into her darkened room,
We tell the wakened child that all she heard
Was an odd question from a forest bird,
Asking of us, if rightly listened to,
"Who cooks for you?" and then "Who cooks for you?"

Words, which can make our terrors bravely clear,
Can also thus domesticate a fear,
And send a small child back to sleep at night
Not listening for the sound of stealthy flight
Or dreaming of some small thing in a claw
Borne up to some dark branch and eaten raw.


We had an early lunch on Saturday, then went to see Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole with my parents in IMAX 3D in Tysons Corner, whose movie theaters I have not visited since they rebuilt that entire wing of the mall -- they're huge and lovely. Visually, the movie is spectacular, particularly on a screen that big -- animated trees and feathers that look absolutely real, even though there are dozens of them onscreen at a time, and the sunrises and seascapes are glorious. The good-guy owls are adorable, particularly Digger the burrowing owl -- I have a weakness for those -- though I am a bit perturbed that in a film based on a series of books written by a woman, the only female character of any substance is a villain and the girlfriend of the Big Bad (every other female is a wife or sister and we don't see heroics from them). Adam read all the books and said the movie borrowed bits from several beyond the first three, which are ostensibly the basis of the movie; the storyline is pretty much a straight rip-off from Tolkien with a bit of George Lucas thrown in, if Frodo or Luke had been an owl. It's not profound, but it's enjoyable and well-paced, with lots of action and a surprising amount of violence for a film targeted at pre-teens.

My parents invited us out to dinner after the movie, though we came home first so the kids could finish their weekend homework and I could take a walk. We went to California Pizza Kitchen, which told us there was a half-hour wait though we weren't seated until an hour after we arrived; fortunately the food was good (I had a whole-wheat pizza crust with peanut sauce, mozzarella, and crushed peanuts, Adam had veggie Jamaican jerk pizza, Daniel had the meat-lover's pizza, Paul had a seasonal pizza with mushrooms and salami, we all stole bites of the kids' ice cream sundaes afterward). We gave older son his birthday presents a day early because we knew he wouldn't have time to enjoy them on his actual birthday -- Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga for the PS2, The Necronomicon Tarot, and Cory Doctorow's Little Brother -- so he disappeared down the basement to play the video game while Paul and I watched the Boise State-Oregon State game (Maryland won earlier in the day, yay, though my father cared more that Michigan and Wisconsin won; unfortunately, Alabama won, too).

Owls at the Durham Museum of Life and Science.

...and an owl butterfly. (I went looking to see if I had any unposted owl photos and found these from when we visited North Carolina this summer.)

Also at the museum, a phasmid...

...a rattlesnake...

...a lemur, wide-eyed in a tree as a thunderstorm approached...

...and the Durham museum's retired caboose.

At Duke University's garden shop, a fountain and flower sculpture.

In downtown Wilmington, the USS North Carolina seen from the boardwalk.

And at Carolina State Beach, a wild Venus fly trap.

Happy 17th Birthday Daniel!

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