Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Poem for Wednesday and <lj comm

Metaphors of a Magnifico
By Wallace Stevens

Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Are twenty men crossing twenty bridges,
Into twenty villages,
Or one man
Crossing a single bridge into a village.

This is old song
That will not declare itself . . .

Twenty men crossing a bridge,
Into a village,
Twenty men crossing a bridge
Into a village.

That will not declare itself
Yet is certain as meaning . . .

The boots of the men clump
On the boards of the bridge.
The first white wall of the village
Rises through fruit-trees.
Of what was it I was thinking?
So the meaning escapes.

The first white wall of the village . . .
The fruit-trees . . .


, the "Smallville character favorite person, place or thing" challenge: "Collectible"

As for Smallville...any episode without Helen is an improvement on any episode with Helen, no matter how much annoying high school Chloe and Lana angst we must contend with. I love Lionel's attitude toward his son's fiancee -- forget her name, treat her as completely inconsequential, and it will make her so. Any episode with Lionel is an improvement on just about everything. And any episode that contains a Clark/Lex eye-fuck has justified its existence for that alone. God I'm shallow.

And as for what follows, I'll own up to the gluttony and lust, but where did the high score for violence come from? I said no to all the questions about punching people, hurting myself and others, using bombs in war, etc.!

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Third Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Moderate
Level 7 (Violent)High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

In the third circle, you find yourself amidst eternal rain, maledict, cold, and heavy. The gluttons are punished here, lying in the filthy mixture of shadows and of putrid water. Because you consumed in excess, you meet your fate beneath the cold, dirty rain, amidst the other souls that there lay unhappily in the stinking mud. Cerebus, a canine monster cruel and uncouth with his three heads and red eyes, dwells in this level. He growls and tears at the damned with his teeth and claws.

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Poem for Tuesday

When You are Old
By W. B. Yeats

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


For , who requested Yeats.

From The New York Times, an interesting article on Young Minds Force-Fed With Indigestible Texts.

I like this but I have no idea whether it is true:

happy family! (with hidden message!)
Only the most important people to me
read my Livejournal
Why do people read your Livejournal?
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Monday, April 28, 2003

Poems for Monday

Yet another discovery from Edward Hirsch's 'Poet's Choice' column in 'The Washington Post.' I highly recommend reading the brief analytical essay before these poems by Aharon Shabtai from 'J'Accuse,' translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole.

For Ehud Barak

I, too, have declared war:
You'll need to divert part of the force
deployed to wipe out the Arabs --
to drive them out of their homes
and expropriate their land --
and set it against me.
You've got tanks and planes,
and soldiers by the battalion;
you've got the rams' horns in your hands
with which to rouse the masses;
you've got men to interrogate and torture;
you've got cells for detention.
I have only this heart
with which I give shelter
to an Arab child.
Aim your weapon at it:
even if you blow it apart
it will always,
always mock you.

I Love Passover

I love Passover,
since that's when you'll be back.
Like every year,
we'll take the car to Kiryat Motzkin
and, over glasses of wine
and bowls of charoset,
Zvi will tell us
of the March of Death.
Then we'll return to Tel Aviv,
and as you drive in the dark,
the car's windows
will fog up,
and I'll put my hand on your knee.
At home, we'll get into bed
and celebrate our own
private Seder.
I see myself putting
my lips to your belly
and thinking of honey,
while in the street below
our angel passes.


Am ambivalent about this. It's lower than the score of the person I gacked it from, whom I will not embarrass by naming here!

My freakiness score is: 297
Are you a freak?
Find out your freakiness level.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Poem for Sunday

by John Agard

We are the ones who once walked the paths you walked.
Set this down lest you forget.
We who once inhabited your planet.

In shoes of roots and leaf of web
We were one with nature's flow and ebb
and grass was then a gift of green abundance.

In shoes of twigs and shard of clay
We made our steps in the caterpillar's tracks
and followed the hedgehog's footprint of wonder.

See, we have left you
our shoes in enchanting circles.


My alternative spiritual list says that the Ten of Cups is my card today. Should mean that I am fulfilled in life and in love, and that any committment I make should lead to happiness. What does it mean, then, that I have to spend several hours working? I guess I had better learn to be fulfilled by that!

I really want to know who they're killing off in the Dawson's Creek finale, if the previews can be believed. Because after the Voyager and La Femme Nikita finales, I realized that I would much rather not know how a show officially ended than watch it end horribly and end up feeling betrayed by the writers and never wanting even to see a rerun again. If anyone knows where there are spoilers, will you tell me? Thanks.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Poem for Saturday

Yin and Yang
By Kenneth Rexroth

It is spring once more in the Coast Range
Warm, perfumed, under the Easter moon.
The flowers are back in their places.
The birds are back in their usual trees.
The winter stars set in the ocean.
The summer stars rise from the mountains.
The air is filled with atoms of quicksilver.
Resurrection envelops the earth.
Geometrical, blazing, deathless,
Animals and men march through heaven,
Pacing their secret ceremony.
The Lion gives the moon to the Virgin.
She stands at the crossroads of heaven,
Holding the full moon in her right hand,
A glittering wheat ear in her left.
The climax of the rite of rebirth
Has ascended from the underworld
Is proclaimed in light from the zenith.
In the underworld the sun swims
Between the fish called Yes and No.


Reading: 's "The Rake's Descent" -- Robert Lovelace from Clarissa (as played by Sean Bean on the BBC, of course) meets the Devil from The Prophecy (as played by Viggo Mortensen, of course). Non-con and nasty but still very hot. *g*

Friday, April 25, 2003

Poem for Friday

The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The tide rises, the tide falls,
The twilight darkens, the curlew calls;
Along the sea-sands damp and brown
The traveller hastens toward the town,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

Darkness settles on roofs and walls,
But the sea, the sea in darkness calls;
The little waves, with their soft, white hands,
Efface the footprints in the sands,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.

The morning breaks; the steeds in their stalls
Stamp and neigh, as the hostler calls;
The day returns, but nevermore
Returns the traveller to the shore,
     And the tide rises, the tide falls.


You know by now that I wrote a story to Sarah McLachlan's "Full Of Grace" for the soundtrack challenge for , and that she made a vid to the song, but I figured I'd put all the links in one place:
Full Of Grace (A/B, PG) | Full Of Grace (RM, 7.12MB, 3:39) | Full Of Grace lyrics

take the nerd test.
and go to, a nerd utopia.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Poem for Thursday

By Irving Feldman

Their quarrel sent them reeling from the house.
Anything, just get on the road and get away.
Driven out, they drove. . . miles into countryside,
confined and bickering, then cold, polite;
she read a book, or looked out at hillside pastures;
once, faraway life came close, and they stopped
in mist for muddy, slow cows at a crossing,
then, tilted, shuddering, a tractor came across;
coldly silent other hours of trees after trees
interspersed with straggling villages--then hot;
her voice pulsing, tempestuous, against the dash,
buffeted, blew up; the slammed her hand down, hard.
"You let it happen--you know you did.
And you make me the bad one--all the time!
I won't stand for it another second." And then,
irrationally, "Look at me, I'm talking to you!"
What half-faced her was mulish, scolded sullenness
--who gripped the wheel and to scare her drove faster,
scaring himself; he felt out of control, dangerous.
Downhill, the road darkened, dropped out of sight.
At the bottom, racing toward them, three lights,
and trees. . . . Remember this, remember this,
she thought, the last thing I will ever see.
Diner, tavern, café, whatever it was.
The car spun suddenly into the parking lot.
She grabbed at the key, threw it out. Shaken, they sat
--while their momentum went on raging down the road.
They knew they might have been killed--by each other,
had someone been up to just one more dare.


Was reading Popbitch and discovered the existence of David Beckham RPS. Having just been exposed to two glorious weeks of David Beckham's glorious gorgeousness...well. Someone save me, please.

find YOUR drag persona
and go to where all the men wear skirts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Poem for Wednesday and <lj comm

A Hermit Thrush
By Amy Clampitt

Nothing's certain. Crossing, on this longest day,
the low-tide-uncovered isthmus, scrambling up
the scree-slope of what at high tide
will be again an island,

to where, a decade since well-being staked
the slender, unpremeditated claim that brings us
back, year after year, lugging the
makings of another picnic--

the cucumber sandwiches, the sea-air-sanctified
fig newtons--there's no knowing what the slamming
seas, the gales of yet another winter
may have done. Still there,

the gust-beleaguered single spruce tree,
the ant-thronged, root-snelled moss, grass
and clover tuffet underneath it,
edges frazzled raw

but, like our own prolonged attachment, holding.
Whatever moral lesson might commend itself,
there's no use drawing one,
there's nothing here

to seize on as exemplifying any so-called virtue
(holding on despite adversity, perhaps) or
any no-more-than-human tendency--
stubborn adherence, say,

to a wholly wrongheaded tenet. Though to
hold on in any case means taking less and less
for granted, some few things seem nearly
certain, as that the longest day

will come again, will seem to hold its breath,
the months-long exhalation of diminishment
again begin. Last night you woke me
for a look at Jupiter,

that vast cinder wheeled unblinking
in a bath of galaxies. Watching, we traveled
toward an apprehension all but impossible
to be held onto--

that no point is fixed, that there's no foothold
but roams untethered save by such snells,
such sailor's knots, such stays
and guy wires as are

mainly of our own devising. From such an
empyrean, aloof seraphic mentors urge us
to look down on all attachment,
on any bonding, as

in the end untenable. Base as it is, from
year to year the earth's sore surface
mends and rebinds itself, however
and as best it can, with

thread of cinquefoil, tendril of the magenta
beach pea, trammel of bramble; with easings,
mulchings, fragrances, the gray-green
bayberry's cool poultice--

and what can't finally be mended, the salt air
proceeds to buff and rarefy: the lopped carnage
of the seaward spruce clump weathers
lustrous, to wood-silver.

Little is certain, other than the tide that
circumscribes us that still sets its term
to every picnic--today we stayed too long
again, and got our feet wet--

and all attachment may prove at best, perhaps,
a broken, a much-mended thing. Watching
the longest day take cover under
a monk's-cowl overcast,

with thunder, rain and wind, then waiting,
we drop everything to listen as a
hermit thrush distills its fragmentary,
hesitant, in the end

unbroken music. From what source (beyond us, or
the wells within?) such links perceived arrive--
diminished sequences so uninsistingly
not even human--there's

hardly a vocabulary left to wonder, uncertain
as we are of so much in this existence, this
botched, cumbersome, much-mended,
not unsatisfactory thing.


My drabble: "Permission"

And on a related note, I have a couple of small pieces of advice for the characters in last night's Smallville...
1) Lex: You're gay. You love Clark. Even the woman you think you want to have a semblance of a traditional life with can see it. Deal with it!
2) Clark: Use your super-powers to do something about your show's godawful writers, would you?

Discovered via , photos of Viggo and Karl buying Japanese toys. For their sons? For themselves? Were they planning to take the little warriors back to their hotel room to play with so they didn't get bored under the covers during their bed-in for peace? Oh dear, I'm generating Viggo/Karl RPS bunnies and I don't even read Viggo/Karl RPS.

Gacked from everyone:
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Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Crashing and Burning

It's after 4 a.m. in England, which perhaps is why I can't keep my eyes open. But I did get all the laundry folded. Now to get all the little bags out of the suitcases and figure out where we stored all this travel crap before...

From The Onion, "New Fox Reality Show To Determine Ruler Of Iraq". You know, at this point it would not surprise me.

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
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Poem for Tuesday

From 'Iron Age (On Solsbury Hill)'
by Pamela Gillilan

Ruched in new green a line of hawthorns
fended the wind from us until, climbing
the earthwork's slope, we broke
into bareness, a wide stage, closeturfed,

spattered with April daisies, no bush or tree
standing against the wind, no boundary
but the edge, the drop to encircling farmland --
variegated, functional, the forest's

tamed successor. Now this height is the wilder;
unploughed ages lie deep over the scars
of hearths where the first ironmasters
made tools to ease their living and, in fear,

death's sharp instruments. In the Easter sunshine
we walked slowly, at ease, as if the Earth were safe.


...and graphics to accompany it. Still can't believe I was there. Still can't believe these came from my own camera.

Monday, April 21, 2003

I'm baaaaack...

...but give me a week to catch up on correspondence please! Hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday weekend!

Saturday we got up early to check out of the apartment by 10. We drove to the London Bridge Travel Inn to drop off our luggage, then to Victoria Station to return the rental car. From there we walked to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard, which was just as crowded as it had been at Windsor and even more so in the surrounding park where a paralyzed man was finishing the London Marathon several days after it began. We were very amused when the band segued from some traditional march into the James Bond theme music. The gardens were beautiful, dozens of colored flowers in bloom, and the sky was overcast so I got my first glimpse of London as it is reputed to look most of the time -- not as we have seen it this trip.

From Buckingham Palace we walked to the Tate past a very crowded Westminster Abbey, where we met my friend Veronica, who walked me through the Elizabethan paintings and the Pre-Raphaelites while Paul did some of the wonderful children's activities with Daniel and Adam (make your own Victorian comic strip, identify Ophelia's flowers, etc.) I spent a lot of time looking at Burne-Jones' Golden Stairs and Sargent's Hearts Are Trumps. The Tate has fabulous art but horrible lighting, and most of the paintings are hung one above the other, so the track lights leave a green line across the top of the upper paintings. This was the fate of Waterhouse's Lady of Shalott and Millais' Vale of Rest. Nonetheless the collection is incredible and I was in heaven.

From the Tate, where we also ate a quick lunch in the cafeteria, we headed to Westminster which we were very sorry to learn was closed for Easter rehearsal, so I did not get to see the tombs of Elizabeth I or Sir Isaac Newton. Veronica took us across the street to the centuries-old Jewel House, which houses the official weights and measures of Britain as well as an exhibit on Parliament and the era of Cromwell; from there we walked past Whitehall, where King Charles built himself a pleasure palace where he was then executed. Then we walked through Trafalgar Square to the National Portrait Gallery, where we had tea and scones (actually carrot cake and chocolate biscuits), then headed through Covent Garden to Waterloo Bridge and the tube back to the hotel.

We crashed for half an hour with Veronica before going back to Charing Cross Station and through Covent Garden to the Drury Lane Theatre, where we saw the excellent revival of 'My Fair Lady' which Daniel found absolutely fascinating and Adam rather enjoyed though he was annoyed that we couldn't get ice cream at intermission -- we didn't have enough pounds and couldn't cash a traveler's check. It was great fun getting to see historic London reproduced on the stage in London and to hear cockney accents much stronger than any we've encountered; Veronica says that since BBC TV started entering homes all over London, all the traditional accents of Yorkshire, Cornwall, etc. have been softened and gentrified.

The sets were superb, on moving walkways with, and from our seats in the balcony we could see the computers in one of the boxes that controlled them, so the boys were wide awake and interested as the show ran late into the night, though Daniel rolled his eyes at the love story (him and G. B. Shaw!) We took the tube back to London Bridge Station along with many drunk young Londoners, some of whom were throwing up all over the trains, then took a cab back to the hotel, where we found nothing to eat in the pub but junk food and beer, so we had a late dinner of salt and vinegar crisps and breakfast bars. None of us were asleep until after midnight.

Sunday we ate a huge breakfast at the hotel, then took the Tube to the Museum of London where we met up with Veronica again. She walked us through the Roman ruins -- both the collection inside the museum and the remains of the Roman wall outside that used to mark the outskirts of the walled city. This is an excellent museum for kids with hands-on exhibits on Roman weights and measures, a film about the Great Fire, appropriate music playing in exhibits on different eras and a wonderful collection of prehistoric artifacts: "London Before London" as they call it.

From the museum we took the Tube to Kensington Palace where we had lunch in the Orangery, a teahouse where we had potato soup, scones, ham and cheese sandwiches and, of course, tea. We walked around the palace and the beautiful grounds, which include a formal garden and a lake; there were many people around, both tourists and Londoners enjoying the lake with swans and the big grassy fields where some were flying dual-string kites. The kids' favorite thing was the Peter Pan playground, including a large pirate ship with a mast they could climb, a big jungle gym and a fake Indian encampment. Unfortunately the entire playground was filled with sand, so we all left with sand in our hair and shoes. But the sun was out, the temperatures were in the low 60s and we had yet another magnificent afternoon.

We went briefly to Piccadilly Circus but nearly everything was closed for Easter -- except the tourist shops, where Daniel insisted on getting a t-shirt with a map of the Tube, which we then took back to Covent Garden to take pictures of the Drury Lane, the carousel and other things we'd seen the night before when it was too dark for photos. The stores were closed but the street fair was in full swing: there were people riding the flipping space chair, people giving impromptu performances as clowns and musicians, and one man balancing a bicycle on his head. It started to drizzle while we were there -- pretty much the only rain we had seen the entire week. So we took the Tube to Tower Bridge, and since the sky had cleared by the time we got there, we walked across and back to our hotel, where we had dinner (salmon, fish and chips, fried chicken) in the restaurant there. Then we had to pack to return home.

Our cab to Heathrow drove us past a few remaining places we had wanted to see in London, like the Wellington Arch and Harrod's. I bought 'Sharpe's Prey' in one of the airport bookstores and read most of it on the plane; I also watched 'Tuck Everlasting' which was quite good. We landed nearly 45 minutes early, but lost most of that time in customs and taking the bus to the long-term parking lot. We all survived the five-hour trip home in holiday weekend traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike and crashed.

Friday, April 18, 2003

Best Wishes For Good Friday

Thursday we got up early to drive to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see Shakespeare's birthplace. The town is extremely beautiful, though also quite tourist-oriented; from the main parking lots one must walk through a little park by the river and then down two blocks of lovely, expensive gift stores before reaching the Shakespeare house. The gardens around sculptures of Shakespeare's characters were in full bloom, both flowering trees and hundreds of bulbs; there were boats on the water, and swans, and hundreds of people just sitting on the grass enjoying the sunshine of another warm, bright day.

Shakespeare's birthplace has been restored several times since the house became open to the public, and the guest registry shows that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson visited it together; there are also panes of glass on display that used to be in one of the bedroom windows upon which many people etched their initials as proof that they'd been there, from Ellen Terry to Walter Scott. Before entering the house proper, there's an exhibit on Shakespeare's life and work, including a model of the original globe that looks strikingly like the full-size reproduction in London.

I was surprised at how wealthy the Shakespeares were; I knew he hadn't grown up poor and had gone to a good school, but the house seemed large and nicely furnished, with bright tapestries and color on the walls. The guides talked more about the furnishings of the home than what sketchy details are known about the lives of Shakespeare and his siblings, but there were nice exhibits on tanning leather and storing food in the pre-Elizabethan era.

We had decided to have a literary day Thursday and a Pagan day on Good Friday when lots of museums were closed, so we put off Stonehenge another day, scrapped plans to go to Birmingham so we could visit Avebury, and thus went from Stratford straight to Oxford. We parked outside the city and took a double decker bus in, which allowed us to see the beautiful houses before entering the university area. In terms of sheer volume of magnificent ancient buildings, Oxford far exceeded anything we had seen before.

We went first to the Ashmolean Museum to see the Pre-Raphaelites and landscape paintings there before the kids got tired and crazy, then we briefly stepped into the Bodelian Library before heading over to Christ Church College which was of principal interest to the kids because of its Harry Potter connections. The Great Hall was open, though the portraits on the walls didn't move or talk and there was a physical ceiling rather than a reflection of the night sky, though the boys were impressed with the paintings of Henry VIII and his associates and with the huge dining tables and fireplace.

We went to the chapel, which cleverly had a scavenger hunt for kids to find interesting gargoyles and faces on the walls, though one of the Jesus illustrations on an altar was covered for Lent. Burne-Jones had designed many of the stained glass windows in the church, and the ceilings and carvings on the sides of the pews were intricate and intimate -- not as vast and foreboding as St. Paul's, a more powerful place to spend Maundy Thursday as far as I was concerned.

After the chapel we walked around the grounds of the college including more beautiful gardens and students sitting shirtless in the windows of the centuries-old dormitories. Then we walked through Oxford proper looking for a place to have dinner, stopping in bookstores (though Paul was disappointed that the Alice In Wonderland shop had closed before we got there, we did see the tree that the real-life Dinah had frequented). We saw things like the duplicate of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice and the spectacular ancient Catholic church. I was surprised at how little information there was on Lewis and Tolkien compared to Carroll. We ended up having Indian food again (Daniel's insistence, and I never object to Indian) at a place called Café Zouk that was exceptional, especially the chicken korma and biryani. We were the only people in the place, since it was early by British standards for dinner, and we talked with the immigrant owner and his niece about changes in British coins and the neighborhood since they'd arrived in the 1980s.

We got back late and got up early to join holiday weekend traffic heading west out of the city en route to Stonehenge. Many people had warned me that I would be disappointed -- that visitors couldn't approach the stones, that it was really just a bunch of rocks in a field. Those people are cracked. It's true that Stonehenge feels more tourist-oriented than Glastonbury Tor, in that the stones are protected by a rope barrier and there's a sophisticated information center with gift shop and restaurant, but the plus side of that is that for the cost of admission, visitors get to walk under the nearest road while listening to a handheld audio tour that lasts about half an hour and contains a great deal of information.

As for the stones themselves, I don't think any number of photos could have prepared me for the size and scope of Stonehenge. I was sorry not to be able to walk among them and touch them, but that's a small price to pay to protect them from vandals. For some reason the British seem determined to pooh-pooh anything mystical connected to Stonehenge, as even the audio tour went on at length debunking myths (the Druids probably have no connection to the standing stones, Uther Pendragon probably isn't buried there, etc.) but it's impossible not to learn all the scientific implications of the placement of the millennia-old stones and not get chills, or at least it was for me.

We had another absolutely perfect day, weather-wise -- not a cloud in the sky, warm enough to wear short sleeves despite a breeze, and the stones were very gray against a deep blue sky with fields in the background alternately green and gold with flowers and grass, plus sheep grazing just behind the monument. There were quite a lot of people and the parking lot was quite full but we never felt crowded. I was sorry afterwards that we hadn't held the audio recording up to the video camera and taped it all the way around Stonehenge.

After another lunch en route, we arrived at Avebury, which I had originally scratched off the agenda so we'd have time to go to Birmingham another day until convinced me to reconsider. I am so glad she did. Unlike Stonehenge, which is spectacular but somewhat remote, the stone circle at Avebury goes right around and through the village, including markers for stones that are no longer standing. We could walk right up and touch them, lean against them to take pictures, and walk in a circular trail around them that went past the old farmhouse and church in the center of town.

The tourist center is in a chapel that was actually holding Good Friday services, but we arrived while they were outside doing the Stations of the Cross so we were able to see it briefly. We walked the perimeter of the semicircle that rises high on a hill on one side of town, giving beautiful views of fields of yellow flowers and lots of grazing animals that could be smelled as well as seen occasionally when the wind changed direction. The parking lots are a bit out of town so while there were many tourists, it felt even less crowded than Stonehenge, with people spread out across several fields by the dozens of stones.

Right near Avebury is the West Kennett Long Barrow, an enormous burial mound with a stone chamber at one end that's about half a mile walk from the road, crossing over a small stream. On this magnificent day we hiked up and inside the open chamber, which is even older than the stone circle in Avebury, though the tombs were desecrated over the years by people searching for bones and treasure. At the top of the barrow I felt a bit the way I had felt atop Glastonbury Tor, looking out at miles of perfect countryside and Silbury Hill, another enormous burial mound.

We drove back through a bunch of little towns including Marlborough, which has a gorgeous university and a main street that's a wonderful mix of old buildings and new stores -- like Oxford, only more Dickensian. Unfortunately we got stuck in more horrible holiday traffic on the London Orbital, exacerbated by an accident that closed several lanes, so we didn't get back to Catford until almost 8 p.m. I took the boys swimming one last time in the apartment complex pool while Paul ran down to the store before it closed to get dinner. We ate chicken cottage pie very late, but going to bed late had been on the agenda anyway so boys would be on a schedule to sleep later and stay up the next night for the theater. I believe that we're seeing 'My Fair Lady' courtesy my friend Veronica who is also giving me a private tour of the Pre-Raphaelites at the Tate tomorrow. And we'll see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace!

Hope everyone is having a divine Passover and Tenebrae. Thanks so much everyone who has written or left comments; I promise to write back as soon as I can get a connection that costs less than a bloody fortune!

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

London Calling II

Another update from the U.K. Happy Passover to everyone else celebrating it and a good Easter week to anyone celebrating that!

Tuesday we took the train to London Bridge again, this time so we could walk from there to the Tower. There was a twenty-minute queue outside, but within the crowds were manageable and even the hugely popular parts of the tour like the Crown Jewels were easily approachable (the Disneyland style people-movers past the crowns certainly helped in that regard!). The kids were most impressed by the site where the scaffold used to be, though the program guide did not contain a single illustration of an actual scaffold, let alone a beheading, which disappointed them. Paul and I were most impressed by the restored Salt Tower and the now-waterlogged Traitor's Gate. Most of the Bloody Tower is now an exhibit devoted to Sir Walter Raleigh, whom we have read far more about as the founder of Virginia than as a suspected traitor, and I had almost forgotten about the story of the dead princes until we were on our way out. We didn't take one of the all-day tours given by the beefeaters but the kids did ask them a bunch of questions about who owns the jewels now and what happened to all the stained glass windows.

We ate lunch on one of the picnic benches within the Tower walls, walked through most of the exhibits (the DeBeers diamond collection was most informative but we were mostly curious to see the parts of the Hope Diamond that did not end up in the Smithsonian) and did some reading about Edward I. I found I had a hard time imagining Princess Elizabeth or Thomas More within the walls filled with modern tourists, but it was still a neat lesson in history.

Then we headed out and took the Tube to St. Paul's, which we had seen from the outside the day before. The interior of the cathedral is undergoing a massive restoration so much of the ceiling is hidden from view, but I was more interested in the tombs in the crypt and in seeing William Holman Hunt's 'Light of the World' which is on display there. As a Pre-Raphaelite worshipping spot, St. Paul's is spectacular; Millais, Hunt, Leighton and Alma Tadema are all interred there, and it was a thrill to see Wellington's and Nelson's graves as well. But I am always ambivalent about Christian churches, particularly big historical ones where who knows how much anti-Semitism and other prejudices have been institutionalized, so the ornate crosses and chalices only impressed me on an artistic level. Despite a chamber group practicing Easter music in the main chapel, I did not feel very spiritually uplifted. Unlike Glastonbury, this ancient church mostly made me think about ancient religious conflicts.

From St. Paul's, we walked across the Thames to the dock near the Globe, where we caught a boat to Greenwich. We had a very amusing tour guide who taught us a great deal about the architecture and history of the waterside sights, including Captain Kidd's place of execution and the Millennium Dome. He also told us that the oldest observatory in England had been at the top of one of the White Tower turrets, so we knew before arriving that the great observatory in Greenwich was not the first. The weather remained spectacular and it was a wonderful afternoon to be on the water; I felt as if I still hadn't seen typical London, as we had mostly seen it under clear, sunny skies without even much morning fog.

We met up with the legendary below the prow of the Cutty Sark. To my surprise she is almost as short as I am; I had a mental image of someone tall and intimidating. *g* She led us through the park to the ruins of a Roman temple and past the fallen hollow oak where Queen Elizabeth I used to sit in the shade. There were many other great old oaks growing around the park and the boys tried to climb most of them. (I am fearful that before we leave Britain they will have managed to destroy something that stood for hundreds of years before our arrival.) It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and we were all happy to be outside, though unfortunately the maritime museum closed before we got there so we didn't get to stick our heads in. We took the obligatory photos on either side of the prime meridian and walked through the gardens nearby before going out for Indian food.

Gloria and I discussed slash and fan politics in hushed tones while my kids went on loudly about what they wanted to eat. They also insisted on imitating Nimoy singing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins," so she may be calling the child care authorities to report me and Paul as far too geeky to be acceptable parents. Afterwards we snapped a few photos that I will upload when I'm back on a cable modem, and took a train back to Catford where Paul took the boys for a brief swim while I recharged the camera batteries.

Wednesday we went to Leeds Castle in Kent, which is on magnificent grounds with acres and acres of ponds, gardens and sheep grazing on hillsides. We walked through the duckery (which also contained swans, geese, pheasants and huge peacocks) to the castle, which is decorated downstairs as it looked in the Renaissance but upstairs as it was restored in the last century by Lady Baillie. I liked the lived-in feel, quite different from Windsor where the parts of the castle that are not a museum are off-limits to visitors, and it was interesting to see later artwork hanging on ancient walls, rather than only Renaissance tapestries and portraits.

The views out all the windows are spectacular -- huge green fields, gardens of both cultured and wildflowers, and water everywhere as the moat is still intact. The outer ruins look much older than the interior of the castle, which has been restored several times and is now used for conferences and banquets. My favorite room (no surprise) was the library, though I also enjoyed the cool, cavernous vineyards as it was an uncharacteristically hot day; I ended up buying a souvenir t-shirt for utilitarian purposes as I had not brought a single short-sleeved shirt to Britain with me.

We walked through the aviary, which has dozens of parrots and toucans, and into the hedge maze where we promptly got lost and Daniel and Paul had an argument about who was most likely to be able to lead us out. Daniel successfully navigated us back to the beginning of the maze, from which we cheated and entered the grotto from the exit. But I'm glad we did because it was the highlight of my visit to the castle -- an underground waterfall through the mouth of a Green Man-type face, and even though the guidebook identified all the fish and deer imagery in the stone tiles as stemming from Greek mythology, it had a very Celtic pagan feel.

It was quite a long walk back from the far side of the castle, where we had ice cream and the kids ran though a simpler ground stone maze to a metal replica of the castle, to the car, winding past fields of sheep with lambs and ponds with ducks and ducklings. There were tulips, daffodils and roses in bloom everywhere, and peacocks showing off their plumage in the middle of the paths. We ate lunch in the car as we set off for Dover, encountering some heavy traffic headed for the tunnel before we could see the cliffs.

Dover is an interesting mix of ancient history and modern industry; the cliffs are nearly obscured at sea-level by dozens of huge ships and storage facilities, but the castle high on the hill overwhelms everything in the city below and can be seen from nearly everywhere. We walked down to one of the rocky beaches for a few minutes to stick our toes in the Channel, then wandered into town to glance at some of the older buildings before driving up to the castle. The grounds of Dover Castle are nearly as extensive as those of Leeds Castle but its centrality as a strategic location has made it far more spare in its décor, inside and out; there are tunnels from the Middle Ages and from World War II that have hidden prisons and hospital facilities, and the walls are ringed with artillery weapons left over from World War II.

We took a bus ride up the steep slope from the parking lot and went first to an exhibit on the siege of 1216, where visitors wear earphones and walk through an audio-visual presentation that shows via films and sound and light effects what it was like when Louis nearly took over England, leaving Dover Castle to defend against the French invaders. It was really well done, engaging without being Disneyfied, and parts of the films were oddly reminiscent of the preparations for battle in 'The Two Towers' which made it relevant for the kids, who were also excited about the trebouchet in the keep. We went through the medieval tunnels, some of which date back to the 1200s, and climbed on the parts of the outer wall that were open to visitors so we could take pictures of the white cliffs and the Channel.

Back at our apartment I took the kids swimming while Paul went hunting in the store for matzah and grape juice for our makeshift seder, which lacked a shank bone and eggs but had quickly-made haroset, bitter herbs, parsley, and microwaved honey mustard chicken. Between us we managed the Four Questions and a brief retelling of the Passover story, though we had forgotten to pack the haggadah with the seder plate, Kiddush cup and candlesticks so we kept the Hebrew to a minimum. I had hoped to get together with and but they were pretty fried after work and were headed out of town for the weekend to a convention, so I could hardly claim not to understand! They did have lots of advice for our travels to Stonehenge and environs tomorrow, so I will file another report afterwards...

Monday, April 14, 2003

Waving From London

Hurrah for AOL, which for all its faults has the advantage of access numbers nearly everywhere in the world.

We flew out of JFK because it was so much cheaper than taking off from any of the DC-area airports, so we had to drive for nearly five hours, then sit around in Kennedy for another three hours before boarding the plane. We had a very easy flight, taking off just before sunset and landing just after sunrise, a little less than six hours in the air. The good and bad news was that we were on a very new plane with little screens built into the backs of the seats and eight movie channels running simultaneously; as a result the kids were extremely quiet and cooperative but did not sleep at all. We didn’t get dinner until nearly 10 EST and then we got breakfast barely three hours later, as the sun came up over Ireland. I read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ most of the way (and was totally engrossed, especially at the end when the protagonists were chasing the Holy Grail in the Jerusalem Temple in London). Adam watched Disney cartoons. Daniel watched ‘The Scorpion King.

We landed at about 6:30 a.m. London time and had to wait about 20 minutes to get through customs, during which time both kids pretty much collapsed on the floor. Adam dragged himself through the airport and fell asleep in the van on the way to the rental car. Both kids slept the whole way to Windsor Castle, during the course of which we got lost several times and ended up parking at the bottom of Windsor on the Thames. The weather was magnificent, sunny and warm but not hot.

The Queen was in residence at Windsor so the changing of the guard was quite spectacular, with a band that apparently played for longer than they do when the Queen is not there. The castle itself was spectacular too though Adam slept on Paul’s shoulder the whole way through the town of Windsor and most of the tour of the castle grounds, which probably would have interested Daniel with all the talk of William the Conqueror and Henry VIII had he been more awake. We rushed through the doll’s house but spent a lot of time in the rooms with armor and Adam was particularly impressed with the paintings on the ceilings.

We had lunch at a little soup and sandwich place in Windsor and walked along the Thames a little before driving to the apartment where we’re staying in Catford. (I am NEVER driving in England; I get carsick even sitting on the left as a passenger.) The apartment backs up to a courtyard with a little aviary, plus there is a big yellow cat in residence, so we felt right at home. We wandered into Catford to buy food and then Paul took the boys swimming in the indoor pool while I called my friend whom we’re meeting on Monday. For dinner we had chicken tikka masala picked up at the supermarket. We all went to bed very early.

Sunday we got up late because Paul was under the silly impression that, having gone to bed at 9 the night before, he would instinctively wake up by 7 London time. By the time any of us actually woke up it was closer to 8:45 and we were already running late. We raced out to Bath (after stopping to buy a Sunday Times, which failed to make me appreciate the football playoffs any more than I did before). Though the town is mostly dirty beige buildings and looked rather drab under overcast skies, though it was clearly thriving; the approach to the baths is through the center of a big shopping arcade with a Marks and Spencer and a discount bookstore.

The Roman ruins were fascinating, to be seeing something so old, and the tour was superbly designed with audio that could be activated at numerous points along the way. One starts at the upper level, looking down into the main bath, then one moves through various rooms of architectural bits and mosaic murals to the level of the hot spring, which runs off via a waterfall at one end. It was very crowded and we were pretty rushed -- the original plan was to get to Glastonbury and Stonehenge the same day, since they're both roughly in the same direction -- so I couldn't really take it all in, and between taking photos and video and trying to explain various things to the kids, I didn’t feel terribly connected to any of it.

We ate lunch in the car on the way to Glastonbury, which Paul was muttering about perhaps having to skip so that we could get to Stonehenge before the official tours stopped at 6, but I convinced him that we probably didn’t need the official tour so we kept on. Glastonbury Tor is visible for several miles out of town, and the moment I saw the hill with the tower on the top, I knew there was no way I wasn’t climbing it. Moreover, the moment we entered the town proper and I saw the abbey and the numerous stores devoted to Pagan and Celtic pilgrims, I knew that I was not leaving there to rush to Stonehenge unless I was dragged out.

We toured the abbey, which is an enormous ruin covering several acres. There’s a museum first with legends (St. Patrick was there, King Arthur had been buried there –- the legend that Mary Magdalene was brought there by Joseph of Arimathea was not included but I had read it several days earlier) and some of the smaller bits of sculpture and stone that had fallen when the roof of one of the main chapels collapsed. The kids did rubbings of knights while I took photos of the alleged grave site of Guinivere and what had been the crypt of the main chapel. Then we walked through the rest of the abbey, including a nearly-intact chapel and a storehouse, plus the wooden outlines of buildings that were no longer there. Considering all the positive press Henry VIII got at Windsor Castle, it was interesting to get a reminder of how horribly unconverted Catholics were treated during the English Reformation; the last abbott at Glastonbury was beheaded and quartered.

It drizzled the entire time we were on the grounds though the sky was pretty bright and eerie over the Tor. I don’t know how to explain my reaction to the place except on a purely spiritual level; I had Marion Zimmer Bradley and ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail’ on the brain and was feeling really deeply connected to the land. When we left the abbey I insisted that we were going to try to climb the Tor; it’s a twenty-minute walk from the abbey just to the base of the path and I wasn’t at all sure they wouldn’t be too tired to climb, but I refused to leave without trying and Paul agreed that we could probably go to Stonehenge from Oxford later in the week. So we walked to the base of the Tor, and Adam immediately said that he wanted to climb the mountain. Which we did. And naturally, despite some initial complaining, the kids got up with less trouble than Paul or I did.

The path has a lot of steps which we ended up abandoning to walk in the softer grass. On the walk up I had met two women, and American and a Brit, who had met online and were traveling together who took a picture of all of us at the summit. It’s very windy and cold at the top; the wind blows straight through the tower, which is open at the bottom on two sides. It was overcast but the visibility was pretty good; one side looks down on Glastonbury and a hillside of sheep above the Sacred Well, while the rest looks over fields that stretch for miles (and at this time of year there’s a lot in bloom). I was absolutely thrilled to be up there, on Palm Sunday when surely other pilgrims have made the trip. When we came down we ate Italian food at a little restaurant in town and I bought a set of rune stones –- I had to get something spiritual and tactile from Glastonbury.

It was a long ride back, nearly three hours, enough time to listen to 80-minute CDs of Loreena McKennitt and October Project plus some Indigo Girls. I went to be in a very feminist-spiritual mood. Heard that Sheffield United lost and briefly felt sorry for Sean Bean, then realized that I basically hadn't thought of LOTR all day despite being in England. Maybe at Oxford.

Monday we got up early so we could take the train in to meet my friend Veronica at the Globe Theatre, passing Drake’s Golden Hind on the way. We took the tour, which includes some wonderful audio-visual segments –- bits of old performances on video and audio recordings of famous actors doing great speeches, so the kids got to hear Alec Guinness and Ian Holm doing King Lear and Richard III respectively; there’s also a costume display, some traditional props and a bit on Elizabethan life before entering the Globe itself. I was a little startled by how garish the colors seemed, especially the fake-marble pillars and the green windows, something that’s not often illustrated in books on Shakespeare where the colors tend to be muted, I guess to make things seem aged. The acoustics inside are phenomenal; we could hear every word of everyone else’s tour as well as our own. We weren’t allowed onstage (only student groups are), but we got to sit in the balcony and to stand just below the stage to get a sense of what it was like for the penny customers.

From the Globe, Veronica led us across the Thames on the Millennium Bridge, past St. Paul’s and through London back alleys to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a restaurant that has been in continuous operation since it was rebuilt after the fire in 1667, where we had traditional English food –- bangers and mash, fish and chips, pork loin. We walked from there to the Temple Church, built by the Knights Templar, but it was closed due to rehearsals for Easter so we were only able to see the outside. Then we wandered through the law college to catch a double-decker bus (the kids’ choice) to the British Museum, where we saw the Egyptian and Celtic displays and had tea (Veronica’s choice). It was pretty amazing to see the Rosetta Stone in person, though the displays on early Celtic Britain were a bit disappointing; the probable human sacrifice found in a peat bog was particularly powerful in souring admiration for Druid relics. At any rate I didn’t have anywhere near the same emotional reaction as I did to being at Glastonbury or inside the recreated Globe.

The kids were pretty fried after going through the antiquities so we didn’t try to see any more of the museum but headed back to the main streets (I did stick my head in Forbidden Planet on the way). We took another double-decker bus ride and were going to go see the platforms in King’s Cross Station because of its connection to both Thomas the Tank Engine and Harry Potter, but there had been a bomb threat and the station was being evacuated, so instead we walked down to the next station and took the tube to London Bridge, where we caught the train back to Catford. We had a little shopping to do for stuf for Passover so we stopped in the food store on the way back to go to the pool.

Please don't be insulted if I don't answer your mail -- it's incredibly expensive to call out from the hotel. Tomorrow with any luck I will get to meet the legendary in the flesh; we will try not to get into too much trouble. Hope everyone is well and happy!

Friday, April 11, 2003

Poem for Friday and Farewell

Now Voyager
By May Sarton

Now voyager, lay here your dazzled head.
Come back to earth from air, be nourish-ed,
Not with that light on light, but with this bread.

Here close to earth be cherished, mortal heart,
Hold your way deep as roots push rocks apart
To bring that spurt of green up from the dark.

Where music thundered, let the mind be still,
Where the will triumphed, let there be no will,
What light revealed now let the dark fulfill.

Here close to earth the deeper pulse is stirred,
Here where no wings rush and no sudden bird,
But only heartbeat upon beat is heard.

Here let the fiery burden all be spilled,
The passionate voice be calmed and stilled,
And the long yearning of the blood fulfilled.

Now voyager, come home, come home to rest,
Here on that long-lost country of earth's breast
Lay down the fiery vision and be blest, be blest.


Those of you whom I've known for a long time know the many layers of significance this poem has for me. I was thinking that I wanted to leave with a poem about traveling, and this is actually rather a poem about the opposite -- it's about the idea of homecoming, in terms both spiritual and erotic, and it has always hit me hard. It reminds me very much of a fandom that meant a great deal to me at one time, and ironically, though that fandom itself has disappeared from my life, some of my good friends from it are probably reading this page. It also makes me want to write a story in my current fandom because reading it again I could easily apply it to completely different characters than it once brought to mind.

Have a wonderful couple of weeks, Happy Passover and Easter, and save all your fic for me for when I come back!

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Poem for Thursday

By James Longenbach

Stars rising like something said, something never
To be forgotten, shining forever--look

How still they are

                         Blind hunter crawling
Toward sunrise, then healed.

He opened his eyes to find her waiting

--Afraid--and together they traveled
Lightly: requiring nothing

But a sense that the road beneath them stretched
Forever. At the edge

He entered the water, swam so far
That he became a speck: his body

Washed ashore, then raised to where we see it now--
The belt, the worn-out sword. I'm not


Except that there is nothing beneath us,
No ground without fear. The body vulnerable

--You can look at me--

The body still now, never
Changing, rising forever--stay--

Like something said.


I have been spoiled sick, I tell you, by Pete Hamill's Forever, following on the heels of Summerland and The Leto Bundle. Am I going to be in the mood to read something as American as The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay in London? Or should I bring James Hetley's The Summer Country? Or should I run out to the bookstore and buy The Da Vinci Code? But that's hardcover and will weigh more to carry!

I suppose I should bring The World of King Arthur, since it's nationally appropriate and I have to review it. But I don't want even to THINK about working. Perhaps I will bring some uncomplicated historical novel to reread, like something by Sharon Kay Penman? Or a biography of Elizabeth I?

Oh, last-minute packing dilemmas...

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Poem for Wednesday

Ground Swell
By Mark Jarman

Is nothing real but when I was fifteen,
Going on sixteen, like a corny song?
I see myself so clearly then, and painfully--
Knees bleeding through my usher's uniform
Behind the candy counter in the theater
After a morning's surfing; paddling frantically
To top the brisk outsiders coming to wreck me,
Trundle me clumsily along the beach floor's
Gravel and sand; my knees aching with salt.
Is that all I have to write about?
You write about the life that's vividest.
And if that is your own, that is your subject.
And if the years before and after sixteen
Are colorless as salt and taste like sand--
Return to those remembered chilly mornings,
The light spreading like a great skin on the water,
And the blue water scalloped with wind-ridges,
And--what was it exactly?--that slow waiting
When, to invigorate yourself, you peed
Inside your bathing suit and felt the warmth
Crawl all around your hips and thighs,
And the first set rolled in and the water level
Rose in expectancy, and the sun struck
The water surface like a brassy palm,
Flat and gonglike, and the wave face formed.
Yes. But that was a summer so removed
In time, so specially peculiar to my life,
Why would I want to write about it again?
There was a day or two when, paddling out,
An older boy who had just graduated
And grown a great blonde moustache, like a walrus,
Skimmed past me like a smooth machine on the water,
And said my name. I was so much younger,
To be identified by one like him--
The easy deference of a kind of god
Who also went to church where I did--made me
Reconsider my worth. I had been noticed.
He soon was a small figure crossing waves,
The shawling crest surrounding him with spray,
Whiter than gull feathers. He had said my name
Without scorn, just with a bit of surprise
To notice me among those trying the big waves
Of the morning break. His name is carved now
On the black wall in Washington, the frozen wave
That grievers cross to find a name or names.
I knew him as I say I knew him, then,
Which wasn't very well. My father preached
His funeral. He came home in a bag
That may have mixed in pieces of his squad.
Yes, I can write about a lot of things
Besides the summer that I turned sixteen.
But that's my ground swell. I must start
Where things began to happen and I knew it.


Here's the deal. I am going out of town on Friday morning and will be gone for nearly two weeks. Today I need to write two articles for Trek Nation, an Enterprise review and a review of Pete Hamill's Forever. I also need to finish laundries, pack and do a dozen other things.

So if I owe you feedback, I am really sorry but I am probably not going to get to it if I haven't by now. If I owe you e-mail, odds are that you will get something short and unworthy. The challenge for is for quickie fic and I don't even have time for a quickie.

Hope everyone has a great hump day!

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Poem for Tuesday

Miracle Ice Cream
By Adrienne Rich

Miracle's truck comes down the little avenue,
Scott Joplin ragtime strewn behind it like pearls,
and, yes, you can feel happy
with one piece of your heart.

Take what's still given: in a room's rich shadow
a woman's breasts swinging lightly as she bends.
Early now the pearl of dusk dissolves.
Late, you sit weighing the evening news,
fast-food miracles, ghostly revolutions,
the rest of your heart.


Making me smile this morning in The Washington Post: "A Breath Of Fresh Stupidity", Peter Carlson's magazine column including a hysterical analysis of the latest Madonna spread in W, which starts like this: "Your mind is a casualty of the war in Iraq. In three weeks, you've watched 187 hours of war news on TV and read 423 war stories in the newspaper. At night, retired generals drone on in your dreams. Right now, you're desperately yearning to immerse your ravaged brain in something utterly mindless. You want stupidity and you want it now. Fortunately, you're in luck. The American magazine industry -- one of the world's foremost purveyors of mindless drivel -- has thoughtfully provided for all your stupidity needs."

i have issues. but i also recognise this fact and do what i can to resolve those issues. i may have spent a long time letting those issues control me, but now i'm ready to take the upper hand and wonder about the world around me. i'm getting to be well-balanced, but i'm not quite there yet.
how mad are you?
this quiz was made by piksy

Monday, April 07, 2003

Poem for Rainy Monday

By Emily Bronte

Cold in the earth--and the deep snow piled above thee,
Far, far removed, cold in the dreary grave!
Have I forgot, my only Love, to love thee,
Severed at last by Time's all-severing wave?

Now, when alone, do my thoughts no longer hover
Over the mountains, on that northern shore,
Resting their wings where heath and fern leaves cover
Thy noble heart forever, ever more?

Cold in the earth--and fifteen wild Decembers,
From those brown hills, have melted into spring;
Faithful, indeed, is the spirit that remembers
After such years of change and suffering!

Sweet Love of youth, forgive, if I forget thee,
While the world's tide is bearing me along;
Other desires and other hopes beset me,
Hopes which obscure, but cannot do thee wrong!

No later light has lightened up my heaven,
No second morn has ever shone for me;
All my life's bliss from thy dear life was given,
All my life's bliss is in the grave with thee.

But, when the days of golden dreams had perished,
And even Despair was powerless to destroy,
Then did I learn how existence could be cherished,
Strengthened, and fed without the aid of joy.

Then did I check the tears of useless passion--
Weaned my young soul from yearning after thine;
Sternly denied its burning wish to hasten
Down to that tomb already more than mine.

And, even yet, I dare not let it languish,
Dare not indulge in memory's rapturous pain;
Once drinking deep of that divinest anguish,
How could I seek the empty world again?


Last night's Dead Zone was absolutely stunning. It wasn't the episode the ads had hyped at all; in fact, I was wondering halfway through whether the season finale was in fact next week instead of this week, because the intense family-and-faith episode they were showing seemed to have nothing to do with the assassination episode from the promos. When the storylines finally did converge, it was ten times more powerful, so for once I am grateful to a network for promoting the exploitative storyline instead of the emotional one. Still, I hope they didn't scare off any slash fans, because there's a moment between Johnny and Bruce and another in which Bruce discusses Johnny with someone else that were beautiful and so strong that I'd hardly call them subtext.

I almost posted the above poem yesterday, then read The Washington Post Book World and changed it. And now I know it was meant to be that way because though I'm not really a big Bronte fan, this poem goes well with some of the themes of The Dead Zone. It's also much gutsier about dealing with race and religion than any other genre show I can think of. There were a lot of things in the finale that reminded me of Trek -- alternate futures, dead characters coming back to life -- but it didn't feel gimmicky, it felt powerful and real, like metaphors for the way people cope with life rather than cheesy science fiction.

My MSN horoscope for the week -- I am very much an astrology skeptic yet this made me groan anyway: Be vigilant at work as Mercury squares both Jupiter and Neptune, and this might confuse matters. You might find that something is either not as you expected it to be, but quite different, or you might accidentally place yourself in the position of offering more than you can deliver. It won't be fatal, but it might create delays, which you could probably do without. The same goes if you are making a public speech or presentation. Make it simple, otherwise your general message could get lost in delivery.

A quiz from that I just love:

Queen Christina
You're "Queen Christina"- the 1933
classic in which Garbo plays controversial
Queen Christina, the queen of Sweden who is
caught between love and duty.
The stunning final shot with Garbo standing in the
bow of the ship, the wind in her hair, gazing
into nothingness, as the camera slowly zooms in
remains the Mona Lisa image of film.
Which Greta Garbo classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Happy Birthday !

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Poem for Sunday

The God Abandons Antony
By Constantine Cavafy

When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don't mourn your luck that's failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive -- don't mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don't fool yourself, don't say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don't degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who were given this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen -- your final delectation -- to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.


Above poem from today's Washington Post Book World "Poet's Choice" column by Edward Hirsch. A highly recommended column; if you like the poem, do go read the analysis there.

From the Sunday New York Times, David Edelstein's "One Film, Two Wars, Three Kings" -- all superb analysis. No wonder the movie did terrible box office; it was actually ABOUT something.

made this and yay for my result! I would sob aloud if I'd come out Voyager and throw up if I'd come out Enterprise.

You are Deep Space Nine. You goth, you.
What Star Trek are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Saturday In The Park

...well, not until the late afternoon, when the sun decided to come out and I'd finished my work and my son's soccer game had ended. Then we all went for a brief hike among the flowering trees and it was lovely, if pollen-filled.

So many of you have been utterly lovely today. And I must announce that:

is the biggest sweetheart in the entire world!

Because there are people who offer you love, and people who offer you sex...and then there are people who offer you chocolate. I am going to write Enterprise smut sometime just for her. And hope she doesn't mind that it will probably not involve Hoshi but will feature Archer, Tucker, Reed and the decon chamber. I wonder if I could lose my job if Paramount found out.

Speaking of Star Trek, I must pimp again...her two stories Once and Ever Again and What Ails You, both DS9...

And from -- who gave me chocolate the last time I was feeling down, and gave me more gratuitous chocolate just the other day, so I owe her smut as well -- a parody apology by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks.

Poem for Saturday and Thanks

Still I Rise
By Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.


Running this morning to get to my son's model seder at Hebrew school but I wanted to get this up, since I'll probably be gone most of the day between that, soccer and work, and to give a big thanks and hugs to all of you who wrote to me yesterday, either here or via e-mail...I'm going to write back to all of you but one of my biggest points of stress is that I can't even keep up with the mail and I know that annoys people!

Hope everyone has a wonderful Saturday...

Friday, April 04, 2003

Poem for Friday

Untitled (I have closed the double doors)
By Wu Tsau
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung

I have closed the double doors.
In what corner of the heavens is she?
A horizontal flute
Beyond the red walls
Blown as gently as the breeze
Blows the willow floss.
In the lingering glow of the sunset
The roosting crows ignore my melancholy.
Once again I languidly get out of bed.
After I have burned incense,
I loiter on the jeweled staircase.
I regret the wasted years,
Sick, afraid of the cold, afraid of the heat,
While the beautiful days went by.
Suddenly it is the Autumn Feast of the Dead.
Constantly disturbed by the changing weather,
I lose track of the flowing light
That washes us away.
Who moved the turning bridges
On my inlaid psaltery?
I realize--
Of the twenty five strings
Twenty one are gone.


Friday Five:

1. How many houses/apartments have you lived in throughout your life?

Two houses, two townhouses, four apartments, four college dormitories.

2. Which was your favorite and why?

Our 31st-floor apartment in Chicago near the U of C, which overlooked Lake Michigan and had enormous windows ringing all the rooms. We could see the rainbows over the South Shore after storms and the fireworks over Comiskey Field when the White Sox hit home runs.

3. Do you find moving house more exciting or stressful? Why?

Very stressful -- we have a ridiculous amount of Stuff.

4. What's more important, location or price?

Location is everything.

5. What features does your dream house have (pool, spa bath, big yard, etc.)?

Two-story library, spacious home office, home movie theater, pool, big yard that I don't have to mow, lots of trees between my house and any other houses nearby (I don't have to rake either), big wild garden, master bathroom with hot tub done entirely in black tile with the New York skyline outlined in white, turret or other high round well-lit attic-type room where I can keep my Tarot cards and cauldron, huge playroom for kids with lots of storage space for toys, and sliding glass basement doors that open onto a beach.


Squicks: I was going to do the survey and then I realized that in the past week alone, two things that always squicked me have somehow stopped squicking me. In the past six months alone I've gotten over so many squicks that I hesitate to commit to saying anything other than I will never read mpreg that's not Octavia Butler's "Bloodchild" and I will never read extreme torture, scat or bloodplay because they make me throw up. Otherwise, try me.

Spotted in 's LJ, How to make a Starship Enterprise out of a floppy disk!

And a fic rec for Enterprise fans, 's "Martin Luther King Day", in which Travis gets more character development than he's gotten in nearly two years on the show.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Poem for Thursday

Astrophel and Stella LXIV
By Philip Sidney

No more, my dear, no more these counsels try;
Oh, give my passions leave to run their race;
Let Fortune lay on me her worst disgrace;
Let folk o'ercharg'd with brain against me cry;
Let clouds bedim my face, break in mine eye;
Let me no steps but of lost labour trace;
Let all the earth with scorn recount my case,
But do not will me from my love to fly.
I do not envy Aristotle's wit,
Nor do aspire to Caesar's bleeding fame;
Nor aught do care though some above me sit;
Nor hope nor wish another course to frame,
But that which once may win thy cruel heart:
Thou art my wit, and thou my virtue art.


Things I discovered yesterday:

's "Colorblind" songvid (mostly Aragorn/Arwen)...

, an LOTR news community...

...and so many hilarious entries in the Smallville community, where the challenge was to write the show set in an alternate universe.

My review of last night's Enterprise episode "The Crossing" is here at Trek Nation.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Poem for Wednesday and <lj comm

Ode to Apollo
By John Keats

In thy western halls of gold
When thou sittest in thy state,
Bards, that erst sublimely told
Heroic deeds, and sang of fate,
With fervour seize their adamantine lyres,
Whose chords are solid rays, and twinkle radiant fires.

Here Homer with his nervous arms
Strikes the twanging harp of war,
And even the western splendour warms,
While the trumpets sound afar:
But, what creates the most intense surprise,
His soul looks out through renovated eyes.

Then, through thy Temple wide, melodious swells
The sweet majestic tone of Maro's lyre:
The soul delighted on each accent dwells, -
Enraptur'd dwells, - not daring to respire,
The while he tells of grief around a funeral pyre.

'Tis awful silence then again;
Expectant stand the spheres;
Breathless the laurell'd peers,
Nor move, till ends the lofty strain,
Nor move till Milton's tuneful thunders cease,
And leave once more the ravish'd heavens in peace.

Thou biddest Shapspeare wave his hand,
And quickly forward spring
The Passions - a terrific band -
And each vibrates the string
That with its tyrant temper best accords,
While from their Master's lips pour forth the inspiring words.

A silver trumpet Spenser blows,
And, as its martial notes to silence flee,
From a virgin chorus flows
A hymn in praise of spotless Chastity.
'Tis still! Wild warblings from the Æolian lyre
Enchantment softly breathe, and tremblingly expire.

Next thy Tasso's ardent numbers
Float along the pleased air,
Calling youth from idle slumbers,
Rousing them from Pleasure's lair: -
Then o'er the strings his fingers gently move,
And melt the soul to pity and to love.

But when Thou joinest with the Nine,
And all the powers of song combine,
We listen here on earth:
Thy dying tones that fill the air,
And charm the ear of evening fair,
From thee, great God of Bards, receive their heavenly birth.

My first Smallville story is for the belated April Fools a/u challenge and is very silly: Superman: The Next Generation

And from :

You are Lauren Bacall. You started off as very shy
but with a little help, your roots come out.
You're an honest person and your values,
beliefs and convictions are very clear. You
love a good time, and you want security at
heart but you're ready for anything that comes
your way. You may also have an air of grace
about you, and more beauty than you'll ever
realize. But others will see it.
Which vintage movie star are you most like?(For girls)
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Poem for Tuesday

If, Someday
By Sharon Olds

If, someday, we had to look back
and tell the best hours of our lives,
this was one -- moving my brow
and nose around, softly, in your armpit,
as if you were running a furred palm
over my face. The skin of my body
touching your body felt actively joyful,
sated yet sipping and eating. As you fell
asleep, your penis slowly caressed me,
as if you were licking me goodbye, and I lay
slack, weightless, my body floated
on fathomless happiness. When someone
knocked on the door, you didn't wake up,
and I didn't wake you, and when they knocked again
I did not rouse you, I felt sure that nothing
was wrong -- it was just a someone, calling,
outside heaven, and the noise of the outsideness laid a
seal on our insideness. There was just this bed,
just these two, and, passing this way
and that, from angle to angle of the room --
wall, ceiling, floor, bedpost -- the
curved sound-waves of their recent cries,
by now a billion, bright webs,
look back and see this.

I still do not have The Unswept Room worked through my system so you all get more sexy, sad Sharon Olds, even though I did not really have time to transcribe this. In fact I have not really had time to write any of the things I have written in the past two days. Why is it that when I have NO TIME, I have a million things that I absolutely must write down or die, whereas when I do have time, I find ways to put off writing anything at all?

Am hoping to meet for lunch en famille, since all of our kids have half-days of school today. So I must go get my life in order! Sorry sorry sorry to everyone to whom I owe mail, fb, beta, etc. I feel the guilt, honest. Love and get-well wishes to !