Friday, April 20, 2018

Poem for Friday, Around Shaw, The Wolverine

In D.C.
By Elizabeth Alexander

In D.C. there are black women
with golden Afros and African-
print jumpsuits. Sidewalks sizzle

in summer, a languid,
loving fizz, a Hey Girl
hissing from the streets,

ambient, hey girl on all sides. Walk
up and down Georgia Avenue
or Florida Avenue or Columbia Road:

How you doin’? Hey.
You never know what you will miss
when you leave, what will call you

back, what will disappear
forever, or what was never there
quite as you now see it, hear it, write it

in memory’s poem.

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My Thursday was as unexciting as my Wednesday was awesome. It's still ridiculously chilly for April (we have a freeze warning tonight!), it was overcast, I had laundry to put away and beads to restring, plus lots of unaddressed email and news and stuff from the day before. I did go walk in the park so I could get some exercise and I went around the corner to meet friends for a very unsuccessful Pokemon raid, but the only other incident worth reporting was Maddy bringing me pumpernickel bagels from work.

Cheryl, Paul, and I watched The Wolverine, which remains in my top three X-Men films, has very interesting women, and uses every possible excuse to get Hugh Jackman's shirt off. Here are some photos from around Shaw in DC before the concert last night, a neighborhood full of gorgeous murals, jazz clubs and other musical venues, the famous Ben's Chili Bowl, Civil War and 1968 riot memorials, plus lots of new restaurants and expensive housing around Howard University:

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lyrics for Thursday and Rick Astley Concert

Together Forever
By Rick Astley

If there's anything you need
All you have to do is say
You know you satisfy everything in me
We shouldn't waste a single day

So don't stop me falling
It's destiny calling
A power I just can't deny
It's never changing
Can't you hear me, I'm saying
I want you for the rest of my life

Together forever and never to part
Together forever we two
And don't you know
I would move heaven and earth
To be together forever with you

If they ever get you down
There's always something I can do
Because I wouldn't ever want to see you frown
I'll always do what's best for you

There ain't no mistaking
It's true love we're making
Something to last for all time
It's never changing
Can't you hear me, I'm saying
I want you for the rest of my life

Together forever and never to part
Together forever we two
And don't you know
I would move heaven and earth
To be together forever with you

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Extreme quickie as I am eating a very, very late dinner after going to see Rick Astley at the Lincoln Theatre in the amazing Shaw neighborhood -- I won the tickets from a radio station and didn't realize the seats were general admission, so we had to skip eating next door at Ben's Chili Bowl to get good seats, but it was worth it because a friend of Adam's had also won tickets and we got to sit with him and his friends. Here are a few pics of the concert, which was fantastic -- some AC/DC, some Rihanna, some Ed Sheeran, plus lots of Astley and of course a long rickroll at the end:

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Poem for Wednesday, Black Lightning, Camargue Flamingos

The Flamingos
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann

Jardin des Plantes, Paris

In these Fragonard-like mirrorings
no more of their white and pink
is proffered than if a man
said of his mistress:  "So soft

she was with sleep."  Then stepping up into the grass,
and standing, slightly turned, on pink stems,
blossoming together, as in a flowerbed,
they seduce themselves more seductively than

Phryne herself; and then, extending their necks,
burrow the paleness of their eyes into their own softness,
in which black and fruit-red lies hidden.

Immediately shrieks of jealousy go through the aviary;
but already, astonished, they have stretched themselves
and stride off one by one into the imaginary.

--------

Most of my chilly, overcast, depressing-for-a-spring-day Tuesday involved work and chores not worth discussing. I ran into a couple of friends panicking about getting their taxes done, though it turns out that the government is giving people an extra day to get them filed because the IRS web site crashed. Maddy was one of the people working on them, though I believe she put them in the mail this evening. I had lots of laundry to put away so I took the opportunity to switch out my clothes for the spring in the hope it will arrive.

Because I have tickets to see Rick Astley tomorrow night downtown, Cheryl, Paul, and I postponed our X-Men marathon for a couple of days so we could watch The Flash (extremely meh, please can the DeVos storyline be over already) and the Black Lightning season finale (wonderful, no white boys preaching about how Heroes Never Ever Kill People, a villain whose motto is "Make America Great Again"). I was really missing the Camargue, so from 2017, here are flamingoes at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont-de-Gau:

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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Poem for Tuesday, X-Men First Class, Downtown Color

That Music Always Round Me
By Walt Whitman

That music always round me, unceasing, unbeginning, yet long untaught I did not hear,
But now the chorus I hear and am elated,
A tenor, strong, ascending with power and health, with glad notes of daybreak I hear,
A soprano at intervals sailing buoyantly over the tops of immense waves,
A transparent base shuddering lusciously under and through the universe,
The triumphant tutti, the funeral wailings with sweet flutes and violins, all of these I fill myself with,
I hear not the volumes of sound merely, I am moved by the exquisite meanings,
I listen to the different voices winding in and out, striving, contending with fiery vehemence to excel each other in emotion;
I do not think the performers know themselves-but now I think I begin to know them.

--------

My Monday was not exciting, though I got to walk in the park once the pouring rain stopped and be grateful I didn't have to drive on the Beltway while three lanes of it right near me were closed due to flooding. It was a very gray, overcast day even when the storms started, but there are lots of flowers in the neighborhood -- still many azaleas and magnolias, some remaining cherry and early apple blossoms, the end of the daffodils, the start of the tulips, plus hyacinths in gardens and dandelions at roadsides -- so it wasn't gloomy. I had two long phone calls with friends who are having crazy springs due to changing job and family stuff, so that was nice, though made me bummed they're so busy.

I went to the food store with Paul before dinner and met MoCoPoGo friends for a quick raid. We watched tonight's Supergirl, which really confirmed for me that I'm not just bored with but disliking the show this season (I don't care about Winn or Mon-El's family angst, I am dreading watching them kill off Reign so Alex gets her insta-family, there's too little Kara and Lena). Then we watched X-Men: First Class, which is always a pleasure because McAvoy, Fassbender, Lawrence, and Hoult are great together. Now I am rushing because we have a bunch of weekend family plans to try to coordinate, so here are some more downtown flower and National Portrait Gallery photos!

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Poem for Monday, Potted Potter, Rainy DC

Pursuit
By Sylvia Plath

Dans le fond des forĂȘts votre image me suit.
                                                                                                -- Racine

There is a panther stalks me down:
  One day I'll have my death of him;
  His greed has set the woods aflame,
He prowls more lordly than the sun.
Most soft, most suavely glides that step,
  Advancing always at my back;
  From gaunt hemlock, rooks croak havoc:
The hunt is on, and sprung the trap.
Flayed by thorns I trek the rocks,
  Haggard through the hot white noon.
  Along red network of his veins
What fires run, what craving wakes?

Insatiate, he ransacks the land
  Condemned by our ancestral fault,
  Crying: blood, let blood be spilt;
Meat must glut his mouth's raw wound.
Keen the rending teeth and sweet
  The singeing fury of his fur;
  His kisses parch, each paw's a briar,
Doom consummates that appetite.
In the wake of this fierce cat,
  Kindled like torches for his joy,
  Charred and ravened women lie,
Become his starving body's bait.

Now hills hatch menace, spawning shade;
  Midnight cloaks the sultry grove;
  The black marauder, hauled by love
On fluent haunches, keeps my speed.
Behind snarled thickets of my eyes
  Lurks the lithe one; in dreams' ambush
  Bright those claws that mar the flesh
And hungry, hungry, those taut thighs.
His ardor snares me, lights the trees,
  And I run flaring in my skin;
  What lull, what cool can lap me in
When burns and brands that yellow gaze?

I hurl my heart to halt his pace,
  To quench his thirst I squander blood;
  He eats, and still his need seeks food,
Compels a total sacrifice.
His voice waylays me, spells a trance,
  The gutted forest falls to ash;
  Appalled by secret want, I rush
From such assault of radiance.
Entering the tower of my fears,
  I shut my doors on that dark guilt,
  I bolt the door, each door I bolt.
Blood quickens, gonging in my ears:

The panther's tread is on the stairs,
Coming up and up the stairs.

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Despite some less than ideal weather, I spent a fine Sunday downtown with Paul and Cheryl, with whom I had tickets to see Potted Potter at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall. First, we went and walked around what was left of the cherry blossoms -- at this point the trees are more green than pink and white, though they're still pretty, especially on a rainy day -- and took what was supposed to be our picnic to the mostly-deserted food court at L'Enfant Plaza. On the way to the theater, we stopped at the National Portrait Gallery to see the new Obama portraits and the Sylvia Plath exhibit. The play itself is hilarious in the manner of an extended Renfaire skit (if you've seen Shakespeare's Skum do Henry V, it's that sort of interpretation) and includes audience participation Quidditch and a climactic duel set to disco.

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It was a Pokemon Community Day, so I caught shiny Mareep on the way to the car, then we came back to the house and ordered pizza which we ate while watching X-Men extras. Eventually Cheryl had to go home, while Maddy was in the midst of a big cleanup of her room so we all got organized for garbage pickup on Monday. Then we watched Timeless and Last Week Tonight (on which John Oliver revealed that he bought a bunch of Russell Crowe's props at Russell's divorce auction to try to help the last Blockbuster in Alaska, including the leather jock strap from Cinderella Man and Javert's vest from Les Miserables though not Jack Aubrey's violin). And Adam survived his kayaking expedition, though his inflatable kayak did not!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Poem for Sunday and Canal Bluebells + Animals

The Bluebell
By Anne Bronte

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

Yet I recall not long ago
A bright and sunny day,
'Twas when I led a toilsome life
So many leagues away;

That day along a sunny road
All carelessly I strayed,
Between two banks where smiling flowers
Their varied hues displayed.

Before me rose a lofty hill,
Behind me lay the sea,
My heart was not so heavy then
As it was wont to be.

Less harassed than at other times
I saw the scene was fair,
And spoke and laughed to those around,
As if I knew no care.

But when I looked upon the bank
My wandering glances fell
Upon a little trembling flower,
A single sweet bluebell.

Whence came that rising in my throat,
That dimness in my eye?
Why did those burning drops distil —
Those bitter feelings rise?

O, that lone flower recalled to me
My happy childhood's hours
When bluebells seemed like fairy gifts
A prize among the flowers,

Those sunny days of merriment
When heart and soul were free,
And when I dwelt with kindred hearts
That loved and cared for me.

I had not then mid heartless crowds
To spend a thankless life
In seeking after others' weal
With anxious toil and strife. 

'Sad wanderer, weep those blissful times
That never may return!'
The lovely floweret seemed to say,
And thus it made me mourn.

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Saturday felt like a glorious summer day -- the best kind, low humidity with a gorgeous breeze. After lunch (and an EX raid at Starbucks where we got frappuccinos), we went to walk along the C&O Canal to see the bluebells, which we knew from other local parks were in full bloom. They were glorious and we also got to see lots of spring animals, including frogs, turtles, ducks, songbirds, snakes, and a great many creatures appeared to be frisky from the lovely weather:

It's been a rough week for a lot of people I know; my parents lost a very longtime friend, someone I've known for decades, and tonight one of my good friends discovered that another friend of hers had passed away earlier in the day. So we ended up staying in tonight, talking to Maddy about taxes and stuff and catching up on Agents of SHIELD, which has been a fairly good distraction this year. Younger son is kayaking and camping off the grid all weekend, hopefully being careful!

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Poem for Saturday, X-Men Origins, Kenwood Flowers

Tulips
By Sylvia Plath

The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.  
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.  
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.  
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses  
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff  
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another,  
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.  
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage——
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,  
My husband and child smiling out of the family photo;  
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat  
stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.  
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley  
I watched my teaset, my bureaus of linen, my books  
Sink out of sight, and the water went over my head.  
I am a nun now, I have never been so pure.

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free——
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them  
Shutting their mouths on it, like a Communion tablet.  

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe  
Lightly, through their white swaddlings, like an awful baby.  
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle : they seem to float, though they weigh me down,  
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,  
A dozen red lead sinkers round my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.  
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,  
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow  
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,  
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.  
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.  
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them the way a river  
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.  
They concentrate my attention, that was happy  
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;  
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,  
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

--------

My Friday the 13th started unpleasantly, since I had to have fasting blood tests that the office called to postpone from 8 to 9:30 a.m., then kept me waiting for another 45 minutes before they even got me into a room. I was so hungry when I left that I went straight to the nearby mall to get Indian food for lunch, then I did a little shopping since I was already there. Since the mall is right near Cabin John Park, I then went there to take a walk. The temperatures reached 80+ degrees, though apparently on Sunday we'll be back to possible wintry mix -- I'm not ready for the 80s, but can't we have a week when it really feels like spring with no threat of snow? At least it's good weather for Georgetown to play baseball in the park.

We had dinner with my parents -- I ran into a friend from elementary school on the way there, who sadly was back in the neighborhood for a family funeral -- and watched the start of the Nationals game, which did not end well, nor did the Orioles. Then came home to watch X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which I think is no one's favorite X-Men movie including mine, though I do think it's better than its reputation (for one thing, it's more memorable and watchable than X2, and for another, it has Hugh Jackman in pretty much every scene and his naked butt in several, even if some of those scenes are kind of dumb while others are gratuitous action). Here are some of the other flowers blooming in Kenwood along with the cherry blossoms:

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