Monday, May 21, 2018

Poem for Monday, Fahrenheit 451, Westworld, Cherry Blossoms

Sakura Park
By Rachel Wetzsteon

The park admits the wind,
the petals lift and scatter

like versions of myself I was on the verge
of becoming; and ten years on

and ten blocks down I still can’t tell
whether this dispersal resembles

a fist unclenching or waving goodbye.
But the petals scatter faster,

seeking the rose, the cigarette vendor,
and at least I’ve got by pumping heart

some rules of conduct: refuse to choose
between turning pages and turning heads

though the stubborn dine alone. Get over
“getting over”: darks clouds don’t fade

but drift with ever deeper colors.
Give up on rooted happiness

(the stolid trees on fire!) and sweet reprieve
(a poor park but my own) will follow.

There is still a chance the empty gazebo
will draw crowds from the greater world.

And meanwhile, meanwhile’s far from nothing:
the humming moment, the rustle of cherry trees.

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Adam came over on Sunday morning so we could drive up to meet Paul's parents at Simply Asia in Thurmont. We had lots of great Chinese food, briefly Skyped with Daniel who was on his way out early to go hiking with friends, attempted to teach my in-laws to use their Kindle and smartphone to watch sports, and eventually came home, where we thought about taking a walk but we were lazy and Adam wanted to get financial paperwork in order. We weren't ravenous for dinner after such a big lunch, so we had sandwiches.

In the evening we watched the new HBO film of Fahrenheit 451, which well acted (Shannon a bit on-the-nose) though it weirdly seems more focused on technology than propaganda as an enemy and in a funny twist, since Equilibrium and Blade Runner swiped ideas from the novel, swipes visuals in turn from those movies. Then we watched this week's Westworld (Samurai World with kick-ass women) and Madam Secretary (fairly didactic, but I love Elizabeth and it's a good anti-nuke reminder). From last spring's cherry blossom festival:

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Poem for Sunday and NY Aquarium Mammals

Film Noir
By Nicholas Christopher

The girl on the rooftop stares out
over the city and grips a cold revolver.
Laundry flaps around her in the hot night.
Each streetlight haloes a sinister act.
People are trapped in their beds, dreaming of
the A-bomb and hatching get-rich-quick schemes.
Pickpockets and grifters prowl the streets.
Hit-men stalk informers and crooked cops hide in churches.
Are there no more picket fences and tea parties
in America? Does no one have a birthday anymore?
Even the ballgames are fixed, and the quiz shows.
Airplanes full of widows circle the skyline.
Young couples elope in stolen cars.
All the prostitutes were wronged terribly in childhood.
They wear polka dot skirts, black gloves, and trenchcoats.
Men strut around in boxy suits, fedoras, and palm-tree ties.
They jam into nightclubs or brawl in hotel rooms
while saxophone music drowns out their cries.
The girl in the shadows drops the revolver
and pushes through the laundry to the edge of the roof.
Her eyes are glassy, her hair blows wild.
She looks down at her lover sprawled on the sidewalk
and she screams.
A crowd gathers in a pool of neon.
It starts to rain.

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Another quickie as I spent this very rainy Saturday being an absolute slug with Paul and Cheryl -- first we slept through most of the royal wedding coverage though we caught the end of it, then we watched The Road to El Dorado (partly because of things like this), then we had lunch while watching the reboot of Vacation (which is pretty terrible and sexist -- we were only watching for Chris Hemsworth, though I think the best scene is the Four Corners police battle -- and has a couple of nice cameos).

Then I dragged everyone out for half an hour for Pokemon Community Day to look for shiny Charmander before came in from the rain to watch Blackhat (yeah that was 100% for Chris Hemsworth), and then we ordered pizza while watching my brand-new Blu-Ray of Black Panther. After Cheryl had to go home, we caught up on the season finale of Agents of SHIELD, which was surprisingly moving given how many times I almost stopped watching the show out of boredom or annoyance before this season.

Since I took no photos today, here are some of the New York Aquarium's seals and sea otters in the rain from last fall:

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Placeholder for Saturday

Quickie, Cheryl is here and we just saw the hilariously awesome Deadpool 2 with Paul and a bunch of other friends (best post-credits ending of a superhero movie ever). Cheryl got here around lunchtime and we got Cava, then watched Ghostbusters (the feminist one), Rush (the car one), and the first Deadpool which we watched while eating dinner. Now we're watching Thor: Tales of Asgard for those here who have not seen it! Saturday is supposed to be more rain, so there may be more movies (and some royal wedding)!

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Poem for Friday and Great Falls Animals

In Tintagel Graveyard
By Brian Patten

Who brought flowers to this grave?
'I,' said the wren. 'I brought them as seeds and then
Watched them grow.'

'No,' said the wind. 'That's not true.
I blew them across the moor and sea,
I blew them up to the grave's door.
They were a gift from me.'

'They came of their own accord,'
Said the celandine.
'I know best.
They're brothers of mine.'

'I am Death's friend,'
Said the crow. 'I ought to know.
I dropped them into the shadow of the leaning stone.
I brought the flowers.'

'No,' said Love,
'It was I who brought them,

'With the help of the wren's wing,
With the help of the wind's breath,
With the help of the celandine and the crow.

'It was I who brought them
For the living and the dead to share,
I was the force that put those flowers there.'

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I had lots of running around to do Thursday because I have fun plans on Friday, and it rained the entire day, so although I have no real business complaining given that the rain caused catastrophic flooding in parts of Montgomery and Frederick Counties whereas I only had very wet parking lots to deal with, I spent a lot of time being damp. And sticky, because although it wasn't quite hot, it was certainly not cool. Friends messaged me in the afternoon about a Pokemon raid while I was already at the mall right near the park, and it was one we could do from our cars, and I caught two Latias so that was nice!

I had piles of laundry to fold and put away before dinner, but I had cat "help" for part of that and Maddy came to tell me about her adventures for the other part. After dinner we watched the first two episodes of the second season of The Handmaid's Tale, which, like the first season, are upsetting and inspiring and terrifying and powerful and disturbing. (Adam told us he binged the entire first season and half the second so we were inspired to catch up.) Now I'm cheating on Colbert with Fallon because he has Tina Fey and Paul Bettany, both looking great. From Great Falls last weekend, happy spring animals:

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Poem for Thursday and Great Falls Herons

The Dentist and the Crocodile
By Roald Dahl

The crocodile, with cunning smile, sat in the dentist’s chair.
He said, “Right here and everywhere my teeth require repair.”
The dentist’s face was turning white. He quivered, quaked and shook.
He muttered, “I suppose I’m going to have to take a look.”
“I want you”, Crocodile declared, “to do the back ones first.
The molars at the very back are easily the worst.”
He opened wide his massive jaws. It was a fearsome sight—
At least three hundred pointed teeth, all sharp and shining white.
The dentist kept himself well clear. He stood two yards away.
He chose the longest probe he had to search out the decay.
“I said to do the back ones  first!” the Crocodile called out.
“You’re much too far away, dear sir, to see what you’re about.
To do the back ones properly you’ve got to put your head
Deep down inside my great big mouth,” the grinning Crocky said.
The poor old dentist wrung his hands and, weeping in despair,
He cried, “No no! I see them all extremely well from here!”
Just then, in burst a lady, in her hands a golden chain.
She cried, “Oh Croc, you naughty boy, you’re playing tricks again!”
“Watch out!” the dentist shrieked and started climbing up the wall.
“He’s after me! He’s after you! He’s going to eat us all!”
“Don’t be a twit,” the lady said, and flashed a gorgeous smile.
“He’s harmless. He’s my little pet, my lovely crocodile.”

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The biggest event of my Wednesday was my semiannual dentist appointment a.k.a. waterboarding torture -- seriously, now that practically all hygienists use those spray-picks, how do the very young and very old avoid getting pneumonia from aspirating whatever is being blasted off of their teeth? I miss sinks. At least the appointments are much shorter now. Since I was down in that direction, I tried to stop in the Israeli jewelry store (closed for vacation) and Goodwill store (completely mobbed and understaffed), and I went briefly to the park but it started to rain hard.

Yes, we had storms again. My neighbor Rose came to visit in the early evening to discuss cats and Marvel movies, then we had dinner and watched The Amazing Spider-Man, which I hadn't remembered loving, but seeing it again so soon after the Tobey Maguire movies, it is a masterpiece (plus Gwen Stacy is absolutely crucial to resolving the crisis rather than, you know, screaming). Then Colbert's children's TV show with witches and the Beatles made me scream! And Adam saw William Shatner on stage in Baltimore! Here are some of the herons we saw at Great Falls last weekend:

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Poem for Wednesday, The 100, Lake Whetstone Animals

Where the Use of Cannon Is Impractical
By Lisa Olstein

Stranger, mislaid love, I will
sleepwalk all night not girlish
but zombie-like, zombie-lite
through the streets in search of
your arms. Let’s meet at dawn
in the park to practice an ancient art
while people roll by in the latest
space-age gear blank as mirrors
above the procedure in the stainless
steel theaters where paper-gowned
we take ourselves to take ourselves
apart. Tap-tap-spark. So little blazes.
Cover the roofs with precision hooves.
Push back the forest like a blanket.
A bird the right color is invisible,
only movement catches the eye.
My most illustrious Lord, I know
how to remove water from moats
and how to make an infinite number
of bridges. Here we are at the palace.
Here we are in the dark, dark woods.

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I had a bunch of work to get done Tuesday morning, plus laundry, plus some kitchen chores, so I was very boring, though I did go to the park after lunch. In the afternoon I spent way too much time on social media, which only ever upsets and stresses me out unless I'm talking about purely entertaining things -- even posting about things I agonize over whether I should post about ends up costing me friends. Maddy was here briefly post-NYC with bagels, but she doesn't work tomorrow so she's staying with a friend tonight.

We had thunderstorms on Tuesday evening with less wind than on Monday but a lot of driving rain. We watched The Flash, which would have been better if its entire season had been six episodes shorter, and The 100, which scared the crap out of me (NOT MARCUS OR ABBY, YOU BASTARDS, THREATEN TO KILL SOMEONE ELSE). Now my cats are sleeping off their storm stress and I have to go to bed because I have a dentist appointment, woohoo! From Lake Whetstone last weekend, some of the geese and turtles we saw:

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Poem for Tuesday, Supergirl, McCrillis Azaleas

Spring Storm
By William Carlos Williams

The sky has given over
its bitterness.
Out of the dark change
all day long
rain falls and falls
as if it would never end.
Still the snow keeps
its hold on the ground.
But water, water
from a thousand runnels!
It collects swiftly,
dappled with black
cuts a way for itself
through green ice in the gutters.
Drop after drop it falls
from the withered grass-stems
of the overhanging embankment.

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My Monday was fairly quiet, though I tried to get done everything I needed to do outdoors early because we had massive thunderstorms forecast for the afternoon (and indeed my county ended up with a tornado warning and hail, though it wasn't near my house). Not much of my day was more exciting than watching the trees blow around, though Katniss was extremely perturbed and ran all around the house meowing unhappily until the storm had passed.

I despised tonight's Supergirl -- I figured almost as soon as Ruby was introduced, before we knew anything about Sam, that she only existed to give Alex an insta-family which surely meant the mother was going to be gotten rid of, and we're moving predictably closer to that with lots of cliches. At least Elementary is back with actual superhero Joan Watson, though I hear this is likely its last season. From McCrillis Gardens on Sunday:

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Poem for Monday, McCrillis, Trapezaria, Family Stuff

The Exposed Nest
By Robert Frost

You were forever finding some new play.
So when I saw you down on hands and knees
In the meadow, busy with the new-cut hay,
Trying, I thought, to set it up on end,
I went to show you how to make it stay,
If that was your idea, against the breeze,
And, if you asked me, even help pretend
To make it root again and grow afresh.
But ‘twas no make-believe with you to-day,
Nor was the grass itself your real concern,
Though I found your hand full of wilted fern,
Steel-bright June-grass, and blackening heads of clover.
‘Twas a nest full of young birds on the ground
The cutter-bar had just gone champing over
(Miraculously without tasting flesh)
And left defenseless to the heat and light.
You wanted to restore them to their right
Of something interposed between their sight
And too much world at once—could means be found.
The way the nest-full every time we stirred
Stood up to us as to a mother-bird
Whose coming home has been too long deferred,
Made me ask would the mother-bird return
And care for them in such a change of scene
And might our meddling make her more afraid.
That was a thing we could not wait to learn.
We saw the risk we took in doing good,
But dared not spare to do the best we could
Though harm should come of it; so built the screen
You had begun, and gave them back their shade.
All this to prove we cared. Why is there then
No more to tell? We turned to other things.
I haven’t any memory—have you?—
Of ever coming to the place again
To see if the birds lived the first night through,
And so at last to learn to use their wings.

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Quickie since Adam is here watching Last Week Tonight with us following Westworld, which he stayed for after a very nice afternoon eating eggs benedict made by Paul, visiting McCrillis Gardens to see the azaleas, and going to my parents' house to Skype with Daniel. (Maddy was visiting a friend in New York.) The only bad part of my day was that my parents had a major disaster with their kitchen sink and the plumber was so late that my father couldn't go out to dinner at Trapezaria with us, since he had to wait for the sink to be fixed. We stopped back there afterward to say goodnight to him, then came back to feed our ravenous cats and call Paul's parents. The Nationals and Orioles both won, the latter by 16 points! Hope everyone else had as nice a Mother's Day!

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McCrillis Gardens with Adam...

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...who brought me tomato basil soup mix.

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Paul gave me a beach in a prism but I had some trouble [Effie] taking a photo of it.

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We Skyped with Daniel from my parents' computer...

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...though my father couldn't come out to dinner with us because the plumber was hours late.

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Adam took and embellished this stunning photo of me at Trapezaria (where I had the awesome vegetarian platter) to demonstrate to my mother how a stylus works on a phone screen...

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...since my parents gave me this equally awesome Captain America Cross pen/stylus as well as some glass jewelry my mom and I got for each other.

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Happy Mother's Day!