Sunday, August 25, 2019

Poem for Sunday and Brookside Summer

Self as Goat in Tree
By Mihaela Moscaliuc

Nine goats scamper up
the gnarly argan tree and graze it clean.
They ingest the wrinkled fruit whole,
though it’s the bitter pulp alone
that rouses their appetite for more.
Sated, they stare at the horizon
till branches wear thin and fall.
Farmers harvest goats’ droppings
to extract the pit rich in kernels of oil.
Haven’t you too wished yourself a goat
perched punch-drunk on a linden tree,
blasé about the gold you might shit,
how it might serve both hunger and greed.
Haven’t you goaded yourself
to balance just a bit longer,
chew on some fugitive scents,
forget what a ditch the earth is.

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We had magnificent weather on Saturday! So after doing a bunch of cleanup stuff in the morning, we went to Brookside Gardens after lunch. The butterfly exhibit is still in the conservatory but we didn't go in because we saw so many outside in the flower garden, as well as lots of bees and hummingbird moths. There was a wedding in the visitor center and an engagement party in the rose garden, but we walked to the Japanese teahouse and saw many turtles.

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We stopped at Roots Market, where we got lots of veggie food while enjoying their snack samples and discovered that they now carry Paul's brother David's Pig Out chips. Then we went home to eat our Beyond Burgers and to watch the new season of Arrested Development now that Verizon has given us Netflix for the year -- so far I'm liking the fifth season better than the fourth, and the episode with Ron Howard's family and lookalike Isla Fisher is hilarious.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Poem for Saturday and Museum Weapons

Man of the Year
By Robin Becker

My father tells the story of his life

and he repeats The most important thing:
           to love your work.
I always loved my work. I was a lucky man.

This man who makes up half of who I am,
          this blusterer
who tricked the rich, outsmarting smarter men,

gave up his Army life insurance plan
           (not thinking of the future
wife and kids) and brokered deals with two-faced

rats who disappeared his cash but later overpaid
          for building sites.
In every tale my father plays outlaw, a Robin Hood

for whom I'm named, a type of yeoman
          refused admission
into certain clubs. For years he joined no guild—

no Drapers, Goldsmiths, Skinners, Merchant
          Tailors, Salters, Vintners
but lived on prescience and cleverness.

He was the self-inventing Polish immigrant's
          Son, transformed
By American tools into Errol Flynn.

As he speaks, I remember the phone calls
          during meals—
an old woman dead in apartment two-twelve

or burst pipes and water flooding rooms.
          Hatless,
he left the house and my mother's face

assumed the permanent worry she wore,
          forced to watch him
gamble the future of the semi-detached house,

our college funds, and his weekly payroll.
          Manorial halls
of Philadelphia his Nottingham,

my father fashioned his fraternity
          without patronage
or royal charters but a mercantile

swagger, finding his Little John, Tinker,
          and Allen-a-Dale.
Wholesalers, retailers, in time they resembled

the men they set themselves against.
          Each year they roast and toast
one member, a remnant of the Grocer's Feast

held on St. Anthony's Day, when brothers
          communed and dined
on swan, capon, partridges, and wine.

They commission a coat of arms, a song,
          and honor my father—
exemplary, self-made, without debt—

as Man of the Year, a title he reveres
           for the distinguished
peerage he joins, the lineage of merry men.

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I spent most of Friday cleaning and reorganizing after going on a fruitless hunt for a working Dell laptop charger cord (we have one that's not working and two Dell laptops in the house that also are not working but we can't find their cords). Meanwhile I also hung up some photos in younger son's room (the giant foam letters spelling out his name that have been there for 20 years came down) and did a bunch of cleanup in the kitchen and hall.

It rained all day, though it was nice and cool, so I only got out for a couple of raids in the park. We had dinner with my parents, then came home and watched The Sea Hawk because we'd never seen it and discovered it was On Demand. I'm ambivalent about Errol Flynn (talk about someone who'd be boycotted if he were alive) but I love old seafaring movies. Here from last weekend are my in-laws with us at the Baltimore Museum of Industry making catapults:

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Poem for Friday and National Gallery Modernism

The Japanese Dragon Poem
By Ryū Tatsu

The Japanese word for dragon is ryū;
it sort of rhymes with the word dew,
but these dragons
are anything but a gentle brew.

The Japanese dragon is wingless,
he’s a spidery serpent, long and winding,
with short agile legs and long clawed feet.

The Japanese dragon has ancient eyes
that will see through you and into you;
his long whiskers started to grow
back before man stumbled
in his first upright steps.

The Japanese dragon greets you
as you enter the shrine;
he sits at the fountain and watches you;
careful now,
less he reads your impure thoughts;
he spits the very spring water
with which you must purify your hands
before you are ready
to petition the spirits of the old
and the dead—
to the Japanese dragon
your wishes are trivial and vain,
so bow down and show your respect to him
less he chooses to shatter your hopes.

The Japanese dragon knows
just how foolish you really are,
how empty and naive,
and if you are not careful with your dreams
he’ll silently sweep into them
and then in a flash, he’ll take you far away—
such that when you wake
it won’t be you that wakes
but a shadow self—
your friends or family
always wondering
just what became of you.

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Denise came over on Thursday, and, after a stop at the mall for boba, we went to an EX raid at Timberlawn Park, where we caught Deoxys and played in the giant spiderweb jungle gym. Afterward, she headed back to Baltimore and I did a bunch of cleaning, laundry-folding, and other enviable tasks.

We watched the last two episodes of The Boys, which got much more violent and had some very creepy sex stuff though the women for the most part got more complicated roles. Here are some photos from Wednesday at the National Gallery's modern and postmodern galleries in the East Wing with my parents:

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Do I match the Rothkos?

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Magritte's Condition Humaine

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David Smith's Circles

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Kandinsky's Sea Battle Improvisation

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With the enormous Calder mobile that a son of mine once suggested could probably be turned if another people blew on it.

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My father amidst the Rothkos

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Kupka's Localization of Graphic Motifs II

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Fritsch's Hahn/Cock, a naughty pun in German and English

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Poem for Thursday and Day Downtown

To Ellen
By Thomas Jefferson

Tis hope supports each noble flame,
'Tis hope inspires poetic lays,
Our heroes fight in hopes of fame,
And poets write in hopes of praise.

She sings sweet songs of future years,
And dries the tears of present sorrow,
Bids doubting mortals cease their fears,
And tells them of a bright to-morrow.

And when true love a visit pays,
The minstrel hope is always there,
To soothe young Cupid with her lays,
And keep the lover from despair.

Why fades the rose upon thy cheek;
Why droop the lilies in the vein?
Thy cause of sorrow, Ellen speak,
Why alter'd thus thy sprightly hue?

Each day, alas! with breaking heart,
I see they beauteous form decline;
Yet fear my anguish to impart,
Lest it should add a pang to thine.

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I spent a lot of Wednesday with my parents, who drove me downtown in the morning to meet my sister Nicole and her daughter Isabel for brunch at the Jefferson Hotel. I have walked by it many times before -- most recently last Sunday on the way to the National Geographic Museum, when I spun its Pokestop and was rewarded with a Relicanth -- but never went inside, so I didn't know the hotel had a little Thomas Jefferson museum with several of his original letters, government documents, even a check he wrote. It also has a beautiful skylight restaurant where I had eggs benedict.

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I went with my parents to drive Nicole and Isabel to the airport, then we went back into DC to the National Gallery of Art for a couple of hours, mostly the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist galleries plus some of the modern and postmodern East Wing galleries (pics of that tomorrow). After I got home, I did some chores, then went out during raid hour in the pouring rain for one more shiny Rayquaza. After dinner (leftover Asian food from the past few days), Paul and I watched more of The Boys, which got darker but also pointedly sarcastic about contemporary politics.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Greetings from Ellicott City

Quickie, we met Paul's parents plus Jon, Brooke, and their kids at Thai Aroma near Catonsville for dinner, and afterwards I stopped at the Kohl's in Ellicott City, which conveniently was the only local store that had the shirt I was looking for. It was otherwise an uneventful (and very hot) day! When we got home, we Skyped Adam and Daniel in San Francisco and Seattle respectively while our cats tried to get our attention!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Poem for Tuesday and Egyptian Treasures

If I Could Be A Super Hero
By Steve Lazarowitz

I don’t think I could be Superman
I’m sort of scared of heights
I’d sort of like to be Spiderman
But I’m afraid of spider bites

I suppose I could be Wolverine
But I’m afraid people would stare
I’d consider being the Incredible Hulk
But radition’s bad for your hair

The Fantastic Four, now there’s a thought
But I’m not sure that’s for me
Ben’s too ugly, Johnny too hot
And Sue I just can’t see

Maybe though I could be Reed
And lead the other three
Well maybe Reed’s a bit of a stretch
I can barely take care of me

Captain America, him perhaps
I love his mighty shield
But I fear I’m not brave enough
When things get rough, I yield

If I could be a superhero
I wonder which I’d be
Or maybe it’s time I tried to find
The hero inside of me

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My Monday was totally boring when it wasn't completely frustrating for a variety of computer-related reasons. I did mostly get the laundry done, though not folded, and some food shopping done, so cats will not starve without Shrimpy Shrimp treats (they are sick of the Gravylicious ones).

We watched the first two episodes of The Boys, which I was more in the mood for than starting this season's Handmaid's Tale (I know some people found the latter disappointing). So far it's very well done, quite violent but not gratuitously so like a lot of Brightburn, and it's perversely enjoyable to see Captain Superman America as an asshole. I wish the women stuck up for each other more but at least they have character arcs.

The comedians tonight are reruns, so I'm watching the second half of Aquaman just because I'm in the mood -- here the women stick up for each other but I wish they had character arcs. Here are some more photos from the Queens of Egypt exhibit at National Geographic:

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Monday, August 19, 2019

Greetings from National Geographic

My college roommate Tracey was driving through my area on her way to the beach, so we got to spend a lot of Sunday with her. We went to Cava for lunch, then went downtown to the National Geographic Museum to see the Queens of Egypt exhibit -- which has hundreds of artifacts including perfumes, jewelry, mummies, the lid of Nefertari's sarcophagus (and what may be her knees) plus a virtual tour of her tomb -- and the permanent collection of National Geographic research and photography.

Tracey headed on south before dinner, so I went to the park to do a Pokemon raid and in the process discovered that while in DC, I had unknowingly picked up a Relicanth quest released in conjunction with the Pokemon World Championships at the convention center downtown, so I no longer need to go to New Zealand to catch one! Paul and I had sandwiches for dinner and watched this week's Succession, then some pre-season football, now Last Week Tonight.

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Greetings from Baltimore

We spent most of Saturday in Baltimore with Paul's parents plus his brother Jon, wife Brooke, and their twins, which was very nice since we haven't seen them in a couple of years. We met at the Indian buffet Kumari, which is down the street from the Baltimore Museum of Industry, which I'd never visited before and really enjoyed -- I had no idea Head tennis rackets were from Baltimore, nor the linotype machine, and they had a blacksmith working and Congresswoman Helen Delich Bentley's maritime reporting videos. Plus we got to build catapults out of popsicle sticks and spoons.

From the museum we went to the Inner Harbor, where my in-laws wanted to sit for a while, so they went to have drinks at Barnes & Noble, while my nephews did some shopping and we walked around to Harborplace with their parents (and I did a couple of Suicune raids during the three-hour event). The boys really wanted Shake Shack for dinner, so we went there, and I have now had cheese fries two weekends in a row after not having had them for years! We're seeing them all again Tuesday for dinner, so we came home afterward and watched the first episode of On Becoming a God in Central Florida.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Poem for Saturday and County Fair Rabbits

The Rabbit and the Moon
By Kim Moore

Let me tell you the story of a high, lonely place
where sight and sound carry with the pylon
that gives its shadow to the hill, and the farm
many fields away, and the long straight road.

A bird calls kehaar, kehaar to the moon
and trains are falling, falling into the night.
The black rabbit waits outside the caravan
and come morning, the booted feet of gulls

will be telling us to leave, but if we stay
the dogs will lie like rugs at our feet.
Somewhere, there are other rabbits, and a river
to sail away on. Somewhere, there’s a boat.

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I finished my Shutterfly book! And got my laundry folded and my bedroom shelves rearranged, so it was a good Friday, though I didn't get out of the house until right before dinner, which we had with my parents (and I snuck in a Jynx raid so I didn't waste a pass).

We watched Detective Pikachu now that it's streaming, which is still very fun, then we watched Mewtwo Strikes Back a.k.a. the first Pokemon movie because the new one is basically a reboot of it. Here are some of the bunnies we met at the county fair:

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