Sunday, November 30, 2003

The Fellowship of the Gerbils, Extended Edition

In which our warriors gather their gear, check the sturdiness of their boat, and prepare to depart.

One day Boromir was helping Aragorn polish his sword...

...when Aragorn discovered a boat! "Hmm," he thought. "Perhaps we have overstayed our welcome in the great wood, er, the great cardboard of Lothlorien."

He checked the boat's seaworthiness...

...and called Boromir over to see.

Together they investigated the boat.

Boromir was particularly skeptical, for the boat could neither be gnawed apart nor have its bottom dug through by his paws.

And it capsized so easily!

Aragorn went to get his sword while Boromir sniffed him.

Then Boromir went to get the Horn of Gondor.

But wait! A noise! Leaving his sword in Boromir's care, Aragorn went to inspect.

Could it be a Balrog? An army of Uruk-hai?

No! It was the giant Eye of Cinnamon, the Dark Cat!

"Ah, forget the boat," said Aragorn. "Let's stay here and I'll blow the Horn of Gondor."
So they did, and he did, and they all lived happily ever after, again.
The end.

Poem for Sunday

Ode iii.30
By Horace
Translated by David Ferry

Today I have finished a work outlasting bronze
And the pyramids of ancient royal kings.
The North Wind raging cannot scatter it
Nor can the rain obliterate this work,
Nor can the years, nor can the ages passing.
Some part of me will live and not be given
Over into the hands of the death goddess.
I will go on and on, kept ever young
By the praise in times to come for what I have done.
So long as the Pontiff in solemn procession climbs
The Capitol steps, beside him the reverent Vestal,
So long will it be that men will say that I,
Born in a land where Aufidus' torrent roared,
Once ruled by Danaus, king of a peasant people,
Was the first to bring Aeolian measures to Latin.
Melpomene, look kindly on the honor
The muse has won for me, and graciously
Place on my head the garland of Delphic laurel.


From today's Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post: "Poiesis means "making" and, as the ancient Greeks recognized, the poet is first and foremost a maker."

Took the kids to see Elf yesterday afternoon, after my sister's crowd left (it was relatively peaceful because, although everyone was at our tiny house, everyone was not here at the same time; first my parents arrived with the two older girls, then my sister arrived with the baby and took the two younger girls home with her after brunch, and her husband never put in an appearance). Elf was hilarious -- at least, it was to my husband and myself, who grew up watching all those Rankin Bass Christmas specials (yes, Jewish kids do too, as I try explaining to my in-laws who didn't understand why I would say that Jewish kids felt absolutely hammered over the head by Christmas when I was growing up). There was a snowman guy modeled on the one in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and various animals, elves, etc. from Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, and lots of toy product placement that made me smile in spite of itself because, you know, Mr. Potato Head built by elves. The story is essentially Rudolph only with a person instead of a reindeer, and there's plenty of toilet and food humor which made my kids howl and (I must admit) us too.

Today my in-laws are coming and I have to write the site columns and review round-up first. Am hoping calls to tear me away from this. *hint, hint* Though I am still way behind on correspondence, etc. and probably will be for as long as Jack Aubrey insists on living in my head and dictating things to me, thus interfering even with my ability to read books about him which might make some sense of what he's saying...

Another one gacked from !

You are Spearmint.
You are quick-witted and sharp. You pay close
attention to details and you can tell what your
friends are feeling. You are always the first
to understand a joke and you are valued for
your insight and advice. However, you
sometimes isolate yourself from other people,
afraid to share your own feelings.
Most Compatible With: Cinnamon
Which Tic-Tac Flavor Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Poem for Saturday

The Transparent Man
By Anthony Hecht

I'm mighty glad to see you, Mrs. Curtis,
And thank you very kindly for this visit--
Especially now when all the others here
Are having holiday visitors, and I feel
A little conspicuous and in the way.
It's mainly because of Thanksgiving. All these mothers
And wives and husbands gaze at me soulfully
And feel they should break up their box of chocolates
For a donation, or hand me a chunk of fruitcake.
What they don't understand and never guess
Is that it's better for me without a family;
It's a great blessing. Though I mean no harm.
And as for visitors, why, I have you,
All cheerful, brisk and punctual every Sunday,
Like church, even if the aisles smell of phenol.
And you always bring even better gifts than any
On your book-trolley. Though they mean only good,
Families can become a sort of burden.
I've only got my father, and he won't come,
Poor man, because it would be too much for him.
And for me, too, so it's best the way it is.
He knows, you see, that I will predecease him,
Which is hard enough. It would take a callous man
To come and stand around and watch me failing.
(Now don't you fuss; we both know the plain facts.)
But for him it's even harder. He loved my mother.
They say she looked like me; I suppose she may have.
Or rather, as I grew older I came to look
More and more like she must one time have looked,
And so the prospect for my father now
Of losing me is like having to lose her twice.
I know he frets about me. Dr. Frazer
Tells me he phones in every single day,
Hoping that things will take a turn for the better.
But with leukemia things don't improve.
It's like a sort of blizzard in the bloodstream,
A deep, severe, unseasonable winter,
Burying everything. The white blood cells
Multiply crazily and storm around,
Out of control. The chemotherapy
Hasn't helped much, and it makes my hair fall out.
I know I look a sight, but I don't care.
I care about fewer things; I'm more selective.
It's got so I can't even bring myself
To read through any of your books these days.
It's partly weariness, and partly the fact
That I seem not to care much about the endings,
How things work out, or whether they even do.
What I do instead is sit here by this window
And look out at the trees across the way.
You wouldn't think that was much, but let me tell you,
It keeps me quite intent and occupied.
Now all the leaves are down, you can see the spare,
Delicate structures of the sycamores,
The fine articulation of the beeches.
I have sat here for days studying them,
And I have only just begun to see
What it is that they resemble. One by one,
They stand there like magnificent enlargements
Of the vascular system of the human brain.
I see them there like huge discarnate minds,
Lost in their meditative silences.
The trunks, branches and twigs compose the vessels
That feed and nourish vast immortal thoughts.
So I've assigned them names. There, near the path,
Is the great brain of Beethoven, and Kepler
Haunts the wide spaces of that mountain ash.
This view, you see, has become my Hall of Fame,
It came to me one day when I remembered
Mary Beth Finley who used to play with me
When we were girls. One year her parents gave her
A birthday toy called "The Transparent Man."
It was made of plastic, with different colored organs,
And the circulatory system all mapped out
In rivers of red and blue. She'd ask me over
And the two of us would sit and study him
Together, and do a powerful lot of giggling.
I figure he's most likely the only man
Either of us would ever get to know
Intimately, because Mary Beth became
A Sister of Mercy when she was old enough.
She must be thirty-one; she was a year
Older than I, and about four inches taller.
I used to envy both those advantages
Back in those days. Anyway, I was struck
Right from the start by the sea-weed intricacy,
The fine-haired, silken-threaded filiations
That wove, like Belgian lace, throughout the head.
But this last week it seems I have found myself
Looking beyond, or through, individual trees
At the dense, clustered woodland just behind them,
Where those great, nameless crowds patiently stand.
It's become a sort of complex, ultimate puzzle
And keeps me fascinated. My eyes are twenty-twenty,
Or used to be, but of course I can't unravel
The tousled snarl of intersecting limbs,
That mackled, cinder grayness. It's a riddle
Beyond the eye's solution. Impenetrable.
If there is order in all that anarchy
Of granite mezzotint, that wilderness,
It takes a better eye than mine to see it.
It set me on to wondering how to deal
With such a thickness of particulars,
Deal with it faithfully, you understand,
Without blurring the issue. Of course I know
That within a month the sleeving snows will come
With cold, selective emphases, with massings
And arbitrary contrasts, rendering things
Deceptively simple, thickening the twigs
To frosty veins, bestowing epaulets
And decorations on every birch and aspen.
And the eye, self-satisfied, will be misled,
Thinking the puzzle solved, supposing at last
It can look forth and comprehend the world.
That's when you have to really watch yourself.
So I hope that you won't think me plain ungrateful
For not selecting one of your fine books,
And I take it very kindly that you came
And sat here and let me rattle on this way.


Last night my father and sister got into one of their patented screaming, cursing arguments in front me, my kids, her kids, etc. and it was a hideous sight to behold. This morning my six-year-old niece called to announce that she wanted to have breakfast with us, so we suggested waffles, and now it seems that all seven people currently staying at my parents' house are coming for brunch. So I must go quickly vacuum and get the house in order, then worry about food, and I have no idea when I will be back -- hope everyone has lovely plans for the day!

Friday, November 28, 2003

Poem for Friday and <a href

Operation Memory
By David Lehman

We were smoking some of this knockout weed when
Operation Memory was announced. To his separate bed
Each soldier went, counting backwards from a hundred
With a needle in his arm. And there I was, in the middle
Of a recession, in the middle of a strange city, between jobs
And apartments and wives. Nobody told me the gun was loaded.

We'd been drinking since early afternoon. I was loaded.
The doctor made me recite my name, rank, and serial number when
I woke up, sweating, in my civvies. All my friends had jobs
As professional liars, and most had partners who were good in bed.
What did I have? Just this feeling of always being in the middle
Of things, and the luck of looking younger than fifty.

At dawn I returned to draft headquarters. I was eighteen
And counting backwards. The interviewer asked one loaded
Question after another, such as why I often read the middle
Of novels, ignoring their beginnings and their ends. when
Had I decided to volunteer for intelligence work? "In bed
With a broad," I answered, with locker-room bravado. The truth was, jobs

Were scarce, and working on Operation Memory was better than no job
At all. Unamused, the judge looked at his watch. It was 1970
By the time he spoke. Recommending clemency, he ordered me to go to bed
At noon and practice my disappearing act. Someone must have loaded
The harmless gun on the wall in Act I when
I was asleep. And there I was, without an alibi, in the middle

Of a journey down nameless, snow-covered streets, in the middle
Of a mystery--or a muddle. These were the jobs
That saved men's souls, or so I was told, but when
The orphans assembled for their annual reunion, ten
Years later, on the playing fields of Eton, each unloaded
A kit bag full of troubles, and smiled bravely, and went to bed.

Thanks to Operation Memory, each of us woke up in a different bed
Or coffin, with a different partner beside him, in the middle
Of a war that had never been declared. No one had time to load
His weapon or see to any of the dozen essential jobs
Preceding combat duty. And there I was, dodging bullets, merely one
In a million whose lucky number had come up. When

It happened, I was asleep in bed, and when I woke up,
It was over: I was 38, on the brink of middle age,
A succession of stupid jobs behind me, a loaded gun on my lap.


I think we're taking the kids swimming with my sisters' kids, and then maybe going to the movies. It's chilly and rainy so the perfect day for that. The war about whether we're going to Elf, Haunted Mansion or the Looney Tunes movie is about to begin (I take it The Cat in the Hat sucks too much to consider, or does someone have a different viewpoint from most of the reviews I've seen?) I will be thinking of ways to sneak elsewhere in the multiplex, of course.

Would it be very wrong to claim to have an upset stomach tonight so I can have a bagel for dinner instead of leftover turkey?

Friday Five:

1. Do you like to shop? Why or why not?

Online? Love it. In stores? Loathe it. On crowded weekends, would rather go to the dentist.

2. What was the last thing you purchased?
Not counting fruit for Thanksgiving dinner? Books, of course. A huge honkin' new book on the Grateful Dead for my husband for Chanukah (if you see him, don't tell him) and, um, as long as I was getting free shipping anyway, The Making of 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' for me.

3. Do you prefer shopping online or at an actual store? Why?
Online. Ohhh no comparison. The only thing I shop for in actual stores are pants and shoes, neither of which can be sized correctly online. I mean, I go to actual stores all the time to get books that I can't wait for and DVDs that are cheaper at Best Buy and such, but if everyone guaranteed delivery on appropriate days, I'd probably never go to stores.

4. Did you get an allowance as a child? How much was it?
I did, and I don't remember. Money was worth something different then than now anyway. I think it was enough to buy a paperback book every two weeks.

5. What was the last thing you regret purchasing?
The keychain watch that broke practically as soon as I got it out of the package. Fortunately Target took it back. Now I have one that is less pretty but has survived being dropped twice -- I have to have a watch on my keychain because I am forever forgetting the one that goes on my wrist.

Boromir licks Aragorn's ears. Good thing someone keeps him clean.

Thursday, November 27, 2003


Am back from dinner and very, very full. My mother-in-law has a horrible head cold, so my in-laws didn't come and it was just my parents, my sister, her husband and their three daughters, and us. The kids get along very well but they are very loud together and it was somewhat chaotic. I should be in a better mood than I am. I mean, I'm grateful for so many things I'm not going to try to spew them out in a meme, but I think I talk about most of them here regularly. When we got there the kids were all watching Finding Nemo and then playing hide and seek in the basement. Then we ate, I did gimp with my eldest niece and talked with my sister and brother in law about movies and took pictures of the kids. I suppose it was low-key, though five kids under ten in a house is never really low-key! And now I am drugged on tryptophan and a miniscule amout of red wine.

I have concluded that eating Thanksgiving leftovers is a mistake. Because all I could think about while eating this year's turkey was how godawful last year's turkey was on the third day, and I couldn't really enjoy it. I shall go count my blessings and find something to read instead of focusing on this!

No cheating needed, go me! Gacked from Shieldmaidenelf:

Stephen Maturin
Stephen Maturin ~ Ships surgeon, yes, but also an
intelligence agent with cunning and skill that
remains hidden beneath your innocent naturalist
exterior until you need to employ them. While
you are often out of place or misunderstood at
times, your friends treasure you for your
knowledge and skill. Your fight against
tyranny is fought with the power of words and
intelligence, sometimes delivering blows more
bitter than cannons and muskets.
Which Patrick OBrian character from The Far Side Of The World are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Lord of the Rings: The Two Gerbils

For your Thanksgiving entertainment, in case Barney at the Macy's Parade is not doing it for you and you're too busy with family to go see Master and Commander, we bring you...


In which the warriors are nearly seduced by power and cardboard, but resist.

Aragorn is tempted by the Ring!

And he attempts to run off with it, but Boromir sees... Aragorn goes back to plotting escape. But then Boromir is tempted!

The Ring's call is too strong! Can he resist?

Forced to make a choice, Boromir decides that it is more important to prevent Aragorn from running away without him than it is to take the Ring.

And who wouldn't give up the One Ring, really, for a nibble from Aragorn?

So they all lived happily ever after. The end.

Poem for Thanksgiving

A Song of Ascents
From The Book of Psalms, The Harvard Classics

Thanksgiving for Return from Captivity

WHEN Jehovah brought back those that returned to Zion,
We were like unto them that dream.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing:
Then said they among the nations,
Jehovah hath done great things for them.

Jehovah hath done great things for us,
Whereof we are glad.

Turn again our captivity, O Jehovah,
As the streams in the South.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with joy, bringing his sheaves with him.


Last night's Enterprise review: Carpenter Street.

While I was writing that, my wonderful resourceful husband dicovered The Making of Master and Commander on HBO. I spent half an hour in pure blissful squee mode. I suspect people reading this will be most interested in the Billy Boyd interviews -- he was obviously thrilled to be working with Peter Weir and looked like he was having a great time at "boot camp" where the crew learned to sail (and Richard Taylor of WETA was on too, generating his usual level of enthusiasm for designing miniatures). But for me the major joy was the section on how Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany learned to play the violin and cello for the film...not to mention the ship itself and how they all learned to crew it.

December 17: and I have tickets. , : the 10 a.m. show at the usual place near the Thai restaurant.

Happy Thanksgiving! Gerbils to follow shortly.

ETA, gacked from and yes every answer I chose pointed to this:

You are The UnNatural!!!
You are one mans obsession with baseball... you
hate alien bounty hunters and the KKK.
What Funny Episode of X-files are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Poem for Wednesday

Voyage to Cythera
By Charles Baudelaire
Translated By Rachel Hadas

Free as a bird and joyfully my heart
Soared up among the rigging, in and out;
Under a cloudless sky the ship rolled on
Like an angel drunk with brilliant sun.

"That dark, grim island there--which would that be?"
"Cythera," we're told, "the legendary isle
Old bachelors tell stories of and smile.
There's really not much to it, you can see."

O place of many a mystic sacrament!
Archaic Aphrodite's splendid shade
Lingers above your waters like a scent
Infusing spirits with an amorous mood.

Worshipped from of old by every nation,
Myrtle-green isle, where each new bud discloses
Sighs of souls in loving adoration
Breathing like incense from a bank of roses

Or like a dove roo-cooing endlessly . . .
No; Cythera was a poor infertile rock,
A stony desert harrowed by the shriek
Of gulls. And yet there was something to see:

This was no temple deep in flowers and trees
With a young priestess moving to and fro,
Her body heated by a secret glow,
Her robe half-opening to every breeze;

But coasting nearer, close enough to land
To scatter flocks of birds as we passed by,
We saw a tall cypress-shaped thing at hand--
A triple gibbet black against the sky.

Ferocious birds, each perched on its own meal,
Were madly tearing at the thing that hung
And ripened; each, its filthy beak a drill,
Made little bleeding holes to root among.

The eyes were hollowed. Heavy guts cascading
Flowed like water halfway down the thighs;
The torturers, though gorged on these vile joys,
Had also put their beaks to use castrating

The corpse. A pack of dogs beneath its feet,
Their muzzles lifted, whirled and snapped and gnawed;
One bigger beast amidst this jealous lot
Looked like an executioner with his guard.

O Cytherean, child of this fair clime,
Silently you suffered these attacks,
Paying the penalty for whatever acts
Of infamy had kept you from a tomb.

Grotesquely dangling, somehow you brought on--
Violent as vomit rising from the chest,
Strong as a river bilious to taste--
A flow of sufferings I'd thought long gone.

Confronted with such dear remembered freight,
Poor devil, now it was my turn to feel
A panther's slavering jaws, a beak's cruel drill--
Once it was my flesh they loved to eat.

The sky was lovely, and the sea divine,
but something thick and binding like a shroud
Wrapped my heart in layers of black and blood;
Henceforth this allegory would be mine.

O Venus! On your isle what did I see
But my own image on the gallows tree?
O God, give me the strength to contemplate
My own heart, my own body without hate!


I am being gnawed by M&C bunnies that I know are OOC even by movie standards and probably utterly preposterous by book standards. The question is, do I write them anyway, or do I read the books and try to write something more logical, but risking the chance that the intensity of these bunnies will fade and I won't particularly want to write in the fandom anymore?

Had a weird experience this morning. Started reading a bit of fic written by someone who's writing I've generally enjoyed, and found myself simply too embarrassed to continue. It was like when one of your friends, not your really good friends but someone you don't know quite that well, starts telling you a way-TMI story about her sex life, and you just want to go hide somewhere because you did not want to know this about her. Except that in this case it was really nothing new -- not the writer, not even the events of the story, as it was an OTP does it for the first time, again type thing. I wonder what caused that? Maybe because it was RPS? Though I still stumble across that by certain writers and read it and am quite happy before I remember that I don't read it anymore.

Have decided I am in love with both soundtracks of yesterday and cannot choose between them. What's scary is that at this moment I feel the same way about both fandoms, though I suspect that LOTR in the end will have made a far more lasting impression on my pysche. It's very odd though. I wonder why, when so many people in fandom are serial monogamists, I'm such a collector of pairings, and yet I can't do the pair-everyone-up-with-anyone thing at all?

My sister and her family are coming for Thanksgiving and staying at my parents' but I don't know when they will be arriving, so I have no idea of my schedule for the next two days. Hope everyone who is traveling stays safe and has a great time!

Gerbil update for the morning: they have completely gnawed apart the treehouse, leaving only the wire that held it together, which they are still gnawing as if there's any point to that. With the shredded remains of the treehouse they have built a deluxe-sized woodsy-looking nest, and shoved a huge quantity of pine shavings out of the cage to make room for this. Meanwhile Cinnamon, my smaller cat, keeps trying to leap on the cage, but since she makes a loud breeping noise right before she jumps on anything, I always know when she is about to do this and can run in the kitchen and squirt her with a water gun. So there is water and pine shavings all over my kitchen. I suppose it's still cleaner than Moria.

Aragorn attempts escape! And Boromir tries to talk him out of it, pointing out the joys of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese boxes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Poem for Tuesday

The Snowfall Is So Silent
Miguel de Unamuno
Translated by Robert Bly

The snowfall is so silent,
so slow,
bit by bit, with delicacy
it settles down on the earth
and covers over the fields.
The silent snow comes down
white and weightless;
snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.
It covers the fields gently
while frost attacks them
with its sudden flashes of white;
covers everything with its pure
and silent covering;
not one thing on the ground
anywhere escapes it.
And wherever it falls it stays,
content and gay,
for snow does not slip off
as rain does,
but it stays and sinks in.
The flakes are skyflowers,
pale lilies from the clouds,
that wither on earth.
They come down blossoming
but then so quickly
they are gone;
they bloom only on the peak,
above the mountains,
and make the earth feel heavier
when they die inside.
Snow, delicate snow,
that falls with such lightness
on the head,
on the feelings,
come and cover over the sadness
that lies always in my reason.


Last night I had a long, detailed dream about the person I loathe most in the world -- a woman I barely know, who made life an absolute hell for my entire family for nearly three years, and now that I am awake I am getting all upset just thinking about this. But in the dream, I ran into her in some kind of indoor amusement park-arcade, and she was going out of her way to be incredibly friendly, so much so that I felt like I would have to be a total bitch not at least to be civil to her, and I ended up decided I would have rather liked her had it not been for her being the person who had made life an utter hell for my entire family for nearly three years.

I thought that perhaps she didn't even realize who I was though she clearly knew my name, but then at the end of the dream, she said something about the situation -- not even an apology, just a sort of, "I'm glad that's all over now," and I said to her, very calmly, "You know, you actually made me think about killing myself," and a little bit about why -- how the situation had affected us, psychologically, financially, and in lots of other ways -- and she still didn't apologize but she just sort of nodded and walked away, and I decided that in spite of everything it was not worth not having her as a friend if I could have her as a friend, and I followed her and asked if we should get together sometime.

Holy fuck. Think my subconscious is trying to tell me something? I'm the one who always says that if I could have a super-power it would be to believe in the good in all people...and stupidly enough I feel good, like something has been resolved, even though I am sure that the next time I see this woman at a PTA meeting, my blood pressure will go through the roof again.

And now, though I owe a TON of mail and feedback and comments, and I have to work, and I have stuff to get done before Thanksgiving, I am going to shower, as and I are going to a late morning show of Master and Commander. So I will be basking in the Jack-and-Stephen love all day, thank you very much. *happy*

And look what and I made: ! Now I just need to write some fic for it. *g*

Monday, November 24, 2003


When it takes a jury a mere five-and-a-half hours to decide that a man should be put to death, I feel nearly as unsafe as when there's a sniper in my community. That is all.

Actually, ETA: If this guy were on trial in Virginia, could he get the death penalty under that state's terrorism law, since one doesn't actually have to have killed anyone for it to apply as they're explaining it in the sniper case?

Poem for Monday

The Hour Glass
By John Quincy Adams

Alas! how swift the moments fly!
How flash the years along!
Scarce here, yet gone already by,
The burden of a song.
See childhood, youth, and manhood pass,
And age, with furrowed brow;
Time was,--Time shall be--drain the glass,--
But where in Time is now?

Time is the measure but of change:
No present hour is found;
The past, the future, fill the range
Of Times unceasing round.
Where, then, is now? In realms above,
With God's attoning Lamb:
In regions of eternal love,
Where sits enthroned I AM.

Then, pilgrim, the joy and tears
On time no longer lean;
But henceforth all thy hopes and fears
From earth's affections wean:
To God let votive accents rise;
With truth, with virtue, live:
So all the bliss that time denies
Eternity shall give.


Last night we had to clean the gerbils' cage, which traumatized them greatly when they were returned to find their hoards and piles of cardboard gone. Boromir in particular was very distressed and spent the entire evening gnawing apart paper towel rolls and, later, the paper towels themselves lining the bottom of the cage so he could make a new nest, whereas Aragorn ran around in circles for awhile and then gave up and jumped on the wheel. Silly boys.

And look! drew them playing! Look how accurate!.

While we were doing the actual cleaning, Aragorn and Boromir played in a cardboard box and spent ten minutes trying to jump the 20 inches over the side. Aragorn successfully landed on the edge several times though I'd like to think he wouldn't run away without Boromir. But my cats are quite resentful that the gerbils are getting all this attention and spent the whole time trying to jump on the kitchen table to get at them. Here, in small compensation, is a photo ...

Cinnamon (named after Cinnamon Carter of Mission: Impossible) is the gray one with the brownish stripey spatters, and Rosie is the big yellow cat. More photos here.

Okay...I really have to see Master and Commander again. ASAP. As in, before Thanksgiving. Anyone in the DC area have a few late morning hours you want to blow off and come with me to satisfy this urge?

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Poem for Sunday

By George Oppen

Veritas sequitur . . .

In the small beauty of the forest
The wild deer bedding down --
That they are there!

                Their eyes
Effortless, the soft lips
Nuzzle and the alien small teeth
Tear at the grass

                The roots of it
Dangle from their mouths
Scattering earth in the strange woods.
They who are there.

                Their paths
Nibbled thru the fields, the leaves that shade them
Hang in the distances
Of sun

                The small nouns
Crying faith
In this in which the wild deer
Startle, and stare out.


From this morning's Poet's Choice column in The Washington Post, Edward Hirsch on George Oppen:
There is enormous human loneliness at the heart of Oppen's scrupulously crafted poems, which are devoted to precision, accuracy and clarity. 'I have not and never had any motive of poetry/But to achieve clarity,' he declared in 'Route.' He also said, 'true seeing is an act of love.' The massive solitude in Oppen's work, wholly devoid of Romantic despair, seems an intrinsic part of his recognition that the Earth itself can never be known.

Also, the Post had this article by Philip Kennicott on Harry Potter and the nature of evil. It cites this: "Michael Bronski, in the Boston Phoenix, connected the basic themes and language of Harry Potter to gay identity politics. He didn't argue that the fictional figure of Harry Potter is gay (though that's how the press played his remarkably nuanced argument), but that to present Harry as different, to express the complex dynamic of secrecy that separates the world of magic and the everyday world, Rowling couldn't avoid explicitly homosexual-laden words and themes. He argues that fundamentalists, who find the series subversive, are on to something: 'The Harry Potter books are a threat...not because they romanticize witchcraft and wizardry, but because they are deeply subversive in their unremitting attacks on the received wisdom that being 'normal' is good, reasonable, or even healthy.'" I'd somehow never read that article before, though I've seen articles arguing against it. It's here for anyone who's interested and somehow ended up under the same rock as myself.

Aragorn and Boromir apparently took it upon themselves to try to dig their way out of their cage last night. Cleverly, they seem to have figured out where the front door is, because the enormous mess consisting of several inches of shavings dumped all over the kitchen floor seems to have been kicked through the bars right under the door. Sigh. I can see that keeping the Ranger in thrall will not be an easy task.

Must go round up "Similitude" reviews. More later.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Gorgeous November and Gerbil Love

It was 70 degrees and absolutely stunning outside this afternoon. We decided we had to take advantage of this and go hiking, even if it meant tearing my in-laws away from the Michigan game on TV.

Potomac River above flood levels, Scott's Run, Virginia.

And Aragorn and Boromir spent the afternoon snuggling together on the upper level of their cage.

Getting it on in the treehouse.

Aragorn nibbling Boromir upside-down.

And just hanging out together afterward.

I feel a little like Sauron, keeping them under such scrutiny. Heh. Also, wrote an A/B gerbil love sequel! "About 3 A.M."!

Poem for Saturday

By George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
      Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
      From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
      If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
      Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
      I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
      "Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
      Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
      "My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
      So I did sit and eat.


I am going bonkers because I can't figure out where my M&C cover issue of Entertainment Weekly has gone, though there are, like, two years' worth under the end table where the kids have dumped them so they could put their Game Boys on top. But my in-laws are coming and I have work to do, so I shall not post any deep thoughts on the weirdness that overcomes my parents every November 22.

Hee, HASA took "Night's Pursuit" which is vaguely slashy and ragingly movieverse and I always feel like I pulled something over on someone when I get that combination past the Canon Police there. Am tempted to send up "Promises and Pledges," which I get more mail about than anything else I've ever written, but it's the one story with which I would actually take personally if I got one of the obvious anti-slash "weak or unlikely characterization" declines. Then again the only fic of mine turned down (and that was by a 4-5 margin, meaning that an hour later it could have gone the other way) was barely 200 words, nearly a straight riff out of canon, and so boring that I thought it was a sure bet with the Canon Police even though there was no actual story involved. So maybe the people who like crawling around in the margins are there in greater numbers than is immediately obvious.

Gacked from , making me sob and wail until I remembered that I said "Go away and never come back!" to my inner theorist when I left grad school, and thus far no Precious has re-corrupted me:

You are Jacques Lacan! Arguably the most important
psychoanalyst since Freud, you never wrote
anything down, and the only works of yours are
transcriptions of your lectures. You are
notoriously difficult to understand, but at
least you didn't talk about the penis as much
as other psychoanalysts. You died in 1981.
What 20th Century Theorist are you?
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Friday, November 21, 2003

Poem for Friday and <a href

But first, a squee. drew Aragorn and Boromir gerbils! LOOK HERE! *hugs and loves Jommy*

Cold Morning
By Eamon Grennan

Through an accidental crack in the curtain
I can see the eight o'clock light change from
charcoal to a faint gassy blue, inventing things

in the morning that has a thick skin of ice on it
as the water tank has, so nothing flows, all is bone,
telling its tale of how hard the night had to be

for any heart caught out in it, just flesh and blood
no match for the mindless chill that's settled in,
a great stone bird, its wings stretched stiff

from the tip of Letter Hill to the cobbled bay, its gaze
glacial, its hook-and-scrabble claws fast clamped
on every window, its petrifying breath a cage

in which all the warmth we were is shivering.


This morning, I am angry. Remember how I ranted during the last election when some of my friends who are fellow citizens of Maryland decided to vote for Erlich, or not to bother to vote at all, because they thought all politicians were the same and Erlich was basically a liberal and they were sick of the Kennedys and Glendenning and blah blah blah? Now we have the governor you people gave us, and whom you probably deserve, but the rest of us have to live with.

And here's another one for the unpopular opinion meme. Nader voters are why American soldiers and Iraqi citizens and everyone else are dying in Iraq. You made the Bush presidency possible. Those of us who desperately begged you to vote for Gore, even if you didn't like Gore or Clinton or many of their policies (I didn't either) salute you: you helped to create the Patriot Act, destroy any hope of universal health care and trigger all the Sanctity of Marriage proclamations. Congratulations on having voted your consciences and your egos, or at least Nader's ego. And welcome to an America where, if John Ashcroft has his way, you soon won't even have that freedom.

Cynical media query: Think Kobe Bryant put Michael Jackson up to it? I haven't heard his name in a week.

Things I love about fandom: cannot be limited to ten. Sigh. What am I doing thinking when I have so much work to do and 73 messages to answer? Sorry I am so behind. Three hundred lives of men I have walked this earth, and now, I have no time.

Friday Five:

1. List five things you'd like to accomplish by the end of the year.

Get 2/3 of a novel finished, figure out what's up with one child's medical issues, clean out all the old crap in the basement, keep Trek Nation functioning in Caillan's absence, reread ROTK after seeing the movie because I'm afraid to do so beforehand.

2. List five people you've lost contact with that you'd like to hear from again.
Michele, Michael G, Therese, Betsy and the one who shall remain nameless but whom I'd love a single kind word from, just once, for closure.

3. List five things you'd like to learn how to do.
Play the harp, exercise willpower in the face of chocolate, read Latin, do a single axel jump, see the good in all people.

4. List five things you'd do if you won the lottery (no limit).
Donate a huge amount of money to the ACLU, fund a cancer research foundation completely unbeholden to the commercial interests of drug companies, take my family on a trip around the world, get a little place on the beach, fly all my friends in to visit one or two at a time.

5. List five things you do that help you relax.
Sleep, write smut, enjoy my pets, walk in the woods or by the river, read Tarot cards.


1. What fandom did you get into that you were absolivity and posiloutly sure, you were never going to get into, but you did.

2. What made you think you would never get into it? What tipped you into it?
I heard people talk about it and saw bits of it and just had no interest. Seemed dark and sometimes gory. Fanfic tipped me into it.

3. Did you start to write/vid/archive/dub/(fill in fannish creative activity) in that fandom? Do you still?
Very little actually; I reviewed and archived, but the only fic I wrote it unsafe for public consumption and I never vidded though I collected California Crew's vids.

4. Have you ever pimped someone into a fandom without trying? Which fandom, and what did it?
Oh my god, repeatedly! Smallville, LOTR, Nikita, and particularly Voyager. Usually just by getting them to watch one 'shipper moment.

5. Do you have a fandom where you do not read the fic? Why not?
No. For me fandom is about the fic.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Two Things

ToRN has ROTK production notes here. Lots of spoilers and stuff, but one thing leaped out at me:


*does happy dance around the room* All I ask is one second of Boromir. An instant of flashback like the one in theatrical TTT would be fine. Just ONE.

And on a related note: Aragorn and Boromir seem to have made up. They are sleeping like this now:

That's Aragorn with his tail draped protectively over Boromir.

Poem for Thursday

Late September
By Charles Simic

The mail truck goes down the coast
Carrying a single letter.
At the end of a long pier
The bored seagull lifts a leg now and then
And forgets to put it down.
There is a menace in the air
Of tragedies in the making.

Last night you thought you heard television
In the house next door.
You were sure it was some new
Horror they were reporting,
So you went out to find out.
Barefoot, wearing just shorts.
It was only the sea sounding weary
After so many lifetimes
Of pretending to be rushing off somewhere
And never getting anywhere.

This morning, it felt like Sunday.
The heavens did their part
By casting no shadow along the boardwalk
Or the row of vacant cottages,
Among them a small church
With a dozen gray tombstones huddled close
As if they, too, had the shivers.


Am meeting for lunch! And having Indian food! And while I'm in NoVa, maybe will go to Terra Christa and get all New Agey. I am hugely tempted to get one of the new miniature Goddess Tarot decks so I can carry it around in my purse for when I need immediate spiritual warm fuzzies. Would this be overly indulgent?

I think Aragorn and Boromir are in a fight. Aragorn is sleeping up in the treehouse-type nest made of twisted branches on the upper level of the cage while Boromir is all curled up in a lonely little ball in the big nest. I feel very badly about this and wonder if it's because I let Boromir see those screen caps of Aragorn kissing Theoden. No wait, it was Viggo kissing Bernard.

Yes, I was up too late last night. Busy with "Similitude" and gratuitous Jack/Stephen M&C smut with because really who can resist and I was hiding from Faramir who was trying to tell me a story I didn't have time to concentrate on yesterday. I swear, let Faramir open his mouth and he's got six months' worth of stories to tell. Mostly raunchy.

How come characters never listen when you remind them that any two people can only have one first time together? How do these people have time to defend their kingdoms, sail the seas, explore strange new worlds, etc.?

And woo hoo! Hate mail before I even got up this morning! I always feel like I wrote a better review if people are pissed off enough to write to me first thing in the morning than if the review gets ignored or I just get the standard "yeah, I agreed." Looking back I said a lot of things very inarticulately and I wish I'd talked more about the cloning and abortion politics implicit in the episode -- I just love fetuses treates as independent human beings when they can be grown in vats of brown liquid with no women in sight!

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Poem for Wednesday

National Poetry Month
By Elaine Equi

When a poem
speaks by itself,
it has a spark

and can be considered
part of a divine

Sometimes the poem weaves
like a basket around
two loaves of yellow bread.

"Break off a piece
of this April with its
raisin nipples," it says.

"And chew them slowly
under your pillow.
You belong in bed with me."

On the other hand,
when a poem speaks
in the voice of a celebrity

it is called television
or a movie.
"There is nothing to see,"

say Robert De Niro,
though his poem bleeds
all along the edges

like a puddle
crudely outlined
with yellow tape

at the crime scene
of spring.
"It is an old poem," he adds.

"And besides,
I was very young
when I made it."


TTT EE not-really-spoiler notes:
1) When Christopher Lee tells Brad Dourif that he smells like horse, I hear "whores" every time. If my son had not put the subtitles on, I would still believe Grima had been to a brothel.
2) Mirando Otto is SO RIGHT about the stew scene. In general I adore her commentary.
3) I don't give a shit what anyone else thinks (ooh, one for the unpopular opinion meme!): I love Liv Tyler. I love her as Arwen. I love Arwen in TTT whether she was there in the book or not. I would have been fine with Arwen at Helm's Deep.
4) Boromir and Faramir need to hit Denethor over the head with a palantir. Repeatedly. Not until he's dead, mind you, just until he realizes how badly he needs to get laid improve his attitude toward his younger son.
5) The way Sean Bean says "he loves his brother" has got to be illegal.
6) I don't believe in innate nobility. I don't want to meet anyone who was born without the ability to be tempted. I think I actually prefer evil and conflict to absolute purity. I like Jesus to mean it from the bottom of his heart when he asks God why he has been forgotten, and if Faramir does not think for a minute about taking the Ring before making proclamations about leaving it on the road, then I have no use for him, as a role model or fantasy figure or anything else.

(Hee, that's two unpopular opinions! My horoscope said I would do this today...)

For anyone who did not do enough crying yesterday: Boromir in his funeral boat, by Robin Wood (of the Robin Wood Tarot, one of my favorites), courtesy who's an old friend of hers.

Because I have no shame: Broadcast, by me, at Mind Caviar. Feel free to stop laughing any time. No, really. Oh yeah: femmeslash warning. Also, Mary Sue. And no, the warrior princess wasn't originally who it was about, but shut the hell up about that (yes, you, , , etc.)!

Also courtesy who got the same result -- is that good?

You are a Avari Elf
You are an Avari! Little is known of your kin and
no one is sure how the little that is known of
you kin came to be known. You refused to follow
the summons of the Valar to leave the Waters of
awakening and go to Aman and for that you are
termed the Avari or Unwilling by the other
kindred of elves, you refer to yourself only as
Quendi. Truth be told you don't really know much
about or particularly care about the powers.
Only six words of your native tongue are known
and they all apply to the other kindred of
elves and they all translate to deserter. Other
things that are known about your races are
logical deductions and educated extrapolations,
these paint a picture of a hardy race that is
slow to trust, more willing to trust what they
see before them than chase vague rumours of
what may be and a race that knows a thing or
two about surviving in harsh conditions.
(Image: Night Elf from Warcraft III, she has the
edginess that defines the Avari.)
Which kindred of Tolkien's Elves are you?
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Tuesday, November 18, 2003


So and I returned to the scene of the crime -- the Best Buy where we met a year ago, in line waiting to buy the FOTR EE -- and grabbed our DVDs this morning, and then came back to my place to eat cookies and watch.

After some interruptions to take my sons to the doctor and Hebrew school and stuff, I made it through the film, the stunt feature, a lot of the image galleries and all the Faramir scenes in the cast commentary. Tonight I have to start the movie over so my kids can see. Quel dommage. *g*

I suspect that any review or commentary I have on the added material will come out in fic. For now, let me just say SQUEE.

And thank you, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and David Wenham for your Faramir, because Tolkien's version left me rolling my eyes and was the reason I didn't reread the books for 20 years.

Question: Is there only the one Easter Egg, the MTV Gollum speech? Or is there a ROTK preview hidden on here that I can't find?

Massachusetts made today nearly perfect for me, even though the really hot man Perky and I met in the parking lot at Best Buy failed to materialize this year.

And I gacked this from :

Maia of Manwe
You are a Maia of Manwe Sulimo,
Lord of the Breath of Arda
Whose Maia are you?
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Poem for Tuesday

Where now the horse and the rider?
By J.R.R. Tolkien

Where now the horse and the rider?
Where is the horn that was blowing?
Where is the helm and the hauberk,
and the bright hair flowing?

Where is the hand on the harpstring,
and the red fire glowing?
Where is the spring and the harvest
and the tall corn growing?

They have passed like rain on the
mountain, like a wind in the meadow;
The days have gone down in the West
behind the hills into shadow.

Who shall gather the smoke of the dead wood burning,
Or behold the flowing years from the Sea returning?


! Is it too early to call you? Will see you in an hour or so...and , , we'll be at Best Buy on the Pike.

Back later. Must shower.

Monday, November 17, 2003

The Kinky Saga of Aragorn and Boromir

Getting ready for an illicit liaison.

Boromir: Location is everything.

Aragorn: Hey! This looks like a pretty good spot.

Boromir checks out the accomodations.

Aragorn: Ohhyeah baby right there!

Boromir's turn to be on top.

And afterwards...they chewed cardboard together.

Also: I love . Thank you so, so much for the goodies!

Gerbils. Heh.

At the request of :

Aragorn Sleeping On Top Of Boromir

I is not my fault. I didn't pick them out. I didn't name them. And I certainly did not involve myself in their bedroom arrangements.

Poem for Monday

Ode To The Book
By Pablo Neruda
Translated By Nathaniel Tarn

When I close a book
I open life.
I hear
faltering cries
among harbours.
Copper ignots
slide down sand-pits
to Tocopilla.
Night time.
Among the islands
our ocean
throbs with fish,
touches the feet, the thighs,
the chalk ribs
of my country.
The whole of night
clings to its shores, by dawn
it wakes up singing
as if it had excited a guitar.

The ocean's surge is calling.
The wind
calls me
and Rodriguez calls,
and Jose Antonio--
I got a telegram
from the "Mine" Union
and the one I love
(whose name I won't let out)
expects me in Bucalemu.

No book has been able
to wrap me in paper,
to fill me up
with typography,
with heavenly imprints
or was ever able
to bind my eyes,
I come out of books to people orchards
with the hoarse family of my song,
to work the burning metals
or to eat smoked beef
by mountain firesides.
I love adventurous
books of forest or snow,
depth or sky
but hate
the spider book
in which thought
has laid poisonous wires
to trap the juvenile
and circling fly.
Book, let me go.
I won't go clothed
in volumes,
I don't come out
of collected works,
my poems
have not eaten poems--
they devour
exciting happenings,
feed on rough weather,
and dig their food
out of earth and men.
I'm on my way
with dust in my shoes
free of mythology:
send books back to their shelves,
I'm going down into the streets.
I learned about life
from life itself,
love I learned in a single kiss
and could teach no one anything
except that I have lived
with something in common among men,
when fighting with them,
when saying all their say in my song.


Gacked from , sounds good except the death part:

The Valar have determined that the hidden city of Nargothrond, ruled first by noble Finrod and then by his weaker, but still sweet brother Orodreth is the best place for you. You will enjoy life in a beautiful city with developed culture, beautiful swift river. For centuries you will be safe from Orc attacks. However, you will have to accept that that mortal, Turin, will eventually let Glaurung eat you.
Your place in Tolkien's Beleriand.
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Happy Birthday !

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Poem for Sunday

Too Noble
By Daniel Hughes

"Too noble," Rick said,
so we shut off the Beethoven
but still the sound
lingered about us, and lifted us
above the croissants and the jokes
we tried before we were awake.

No one's noble now --
we thought of the death of words, the slipping,
the history of disappointment,
but the sound stayed, as though the walls
claimed it.

We went for a walk in the bright morning.
The air was clarified, renewed, noble.


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post: "The poet Daniel Hughes, a radiant presence, died in October at the age of 74...Hughes's poems often begin in disappointment but end on a note of noble attainment. It is as if the poet needed to overcome his own ironies to reach the state of rapture that so called to him."

Did go hiking yesterday at Meadowside, saw the injured raptors which live there in huge permanent cages. Still coughing, not sleeping well, which gave me a murderous headache, and I almost went to bed right after dinner but took four Advil and was distracted by and fic, not NaNoWriMo because I didn't have the concentration for it, but you write what you can write, right?

Anyway, if I owe you e-mail comments etc. I was in no state for them last night, and am about to go to the zoo with my kids, and then need to write two Trek articles so give me a day, I beg you.

A bit of conversation about the new gerbils.

yrcruisedirector: I have wanted to say this for a week: Aragorn is licking Boromir all over.
ashinae: HEEEE!!
yrcruisedirector: Though Aragorn is more likely to be found running in circles, and Boromir is more likely to be found gnawing things.
ashinae: That sounds right.
yrcruisedirector: Also Boromir spends more time washing his face.
ashinae: Heh. That sounds right, too You should post these in your LJ.
yrcruisedirector: Okay, I will! Should I mention that Boromir does most of the nest-building, and Aragorn peed on me the first time I took him out of the cage?
ashinae: Typical Aragorn *snerk*

Pimpage: 's The Straight Way. Absolutely gorgeous Aragorn/Faramir. This is the last part; it has links to the first four if you missed them.

I did it in 22 seconds.
I deserved a B+!!
Take the How Dexterous Are You? Quiz!!

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Poem for Saturday

Page 1 / Sapphire's lyre styles
By Harryette Mullen

Sapphire's lyre styles
plucked eyebrows
bow lips and legs
whose lives are lonely too

my last nerve's lucid music
sure chewed up the juicy fruit
you must don't like my peaches
there's some left on the tree

you've had my thrills
a reefer a tub of gin
don't mess with me I'm evil
I'm in your sin

clipped bird eclipsed moon
soon no memory of you
no drive or desire survives
you flutter invisible still


After a very kind soul with access to DVDs released before their street date utterly distracted me last night, I am behind again -- NOT that I am complaining AT ALL. I did manage to get my laundry folded yesterday while watching Sharpe's Company with , after all; the scene where Teresa tells him about Antonia is one of my favorites in the entire series. In other important time-wasting activities I argued with HASA admins about the relative value of drabbles and realized that I would never catch up on all the fic posted in the last two weeks, so I saved it all to my hard drive.

Today we may be going to the Baltimore Zoo to see the elephants and flamingos before they ship them out, as they can no longer afford to keep them which is very sad. Or we may go to Meadowside Nature Center and do the zoo tomorrow. Depends on my older son's best friend's schedule for the weekend.

Gacked from , I answered as honestly as I could and got this, which made me grin widely though I rather think I'd have had a cute bard with a beard as well:

Queen Anne

Queen Anne (1702-1714)
Last of the Stuart dynasty, youre a woman who's
far more interested in private tea parties with
your lady-friends than finding yourself a
husband. You surround yourself with strong
women, but if any tea-time muffin-buttering
ensues, you are very discreet about it. You
love the arts and writing, as shown in the
passionate letters you write to your
girlfriend, analysing every detail of your
relationship. You have never had particularly
good health, and you die quietly in bed.
Which old Queen are you?
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Friday, November 14, 2003

Poem for Friday, M

Whales Weep Not
By D.H. Lawrence

They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of
     the sea!

And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
on the depths of the seven seas,
and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
and in the tropics tremble they with love
and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
Then the great bull lies up against his bride
in the blue deep bed of the sea,
as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life:
and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale-blood
the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom-tip, and
     comes to rest
in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she-whale's
     fathomless body.

And over the bridge of the whale's strong phallus, linking the
     wonder of whales
the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and
keep passing, archangels of bliss
from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the
great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.

And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale-
     tender young
and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of
     the beginning and the end.

And bull-whales gather their women and whale-calves in a ring
when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood
and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat
encircling their huddled monsters of love.
And all this happens in the sea, in the salt
where God is also love, but without words:
and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
most happy, happy she!

and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin
she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea
she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males
and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.


Okay, fine, so it is not fair to call Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home a nautical film. But I like Lawrence anyway.

I said I'd post about Master and Commander beyond "Mmm, Jack and Stephen are so adorable together," so ...

I haven't read the O'Brian novels, so I can't talk about character development in the film versus the books, nor about the fact that the film is apparently sort of a compendium of a couple of novels. I understand that in the original Far Side of the World it was the Americans whom the British were fighting, not the French -- gee, can't imagine why they changed that for a Hollywood audience *g*. (I did note that the French in the film were portrayed as rather swarthy enemies, but I think I will not try to analyze the current English-speaking-imperialism-is-good trend in entertainment.) Suffice to say that, as someone who has liked the LOTR films vastly better than I ever liked the novels, changes in any bookverse don't bother me unless they seem utterly stupid and pointless.

I found M&C extremely entertaining, despite the fact that there's not a single female character who says two words and the vividness of the gore in battle scenes (my children had wanted to see the film from the commercials, but after watching a little boy get his arm amputated in the first fifteen minutes my husband and I both leaned over and whispered "no way" to that). I'm not entirely certain why there were children on the ship -- I don't know British naval tradition, don't know jack about Nelson, and I'm not sure that real aficionados would be content with the film, though I've been told that the costumes, weapons etc. are all period-authentic. So there were things I had questions about that other viewers might know from the books or from having watched Horatio Hornblower etc.

Crowe was superb, and I'm not particularly a fan of his, but Paul Bettany is the character with whom it's easiest to identify for audience members who don't see themselves as powerful naval captains, and he's wonderful, though a bit hard to get a handle on: his character's a doctor, clearly not in the war for the war, and for awhile he and Jack are so at odds that I thought maybe he was spying for the French, since there was some suggestion that the French had inside information about the location of the Surprise, the English ship. Stephen's great pleasures in life are healing people, discovering rare animals during their voyage (they stop at the Galapagos in my favorite visual sequence of the film, which should tell you how little warfare on the high seas does for me), and playing music with Jack, which are utterly delightful scenes and rife with innuendo if you're looking for that sort of thing.

Considering that Jack is supposed to be a sort of godlike naval commander, I didn't find him nearly as annoying as most action heroes and his priorities change somewhat when people close to him are hurt or killed, though there is one awful to watch sequence where he has to make a decision about the fate of a crewmember where it's easy to identify with the people on the ship who hated his guts afterward. Jack isn't idealized; he's egotistical, rather too confident at times, and quite a snob which I suppose is realistic for someone in his position, but he's also aware of what the life is like for people not in officers' positions and amusing when he's happy, so I liked the balance.

The special effects were amazing and I absolutely believed that the scenes had been filmed in the midst of a terrible sea battle, though there are so many characters that it's hard at times to figure out, through the waves and shooting, who's been wounded. The visual details are superb as well -- the closeups of swords, teacups, etc. do not seem forced to create setting but fit right into the action. There's a lot of blood, a lot of dirt and general ickiness belowdecks, no romanticism of the life except for a few moments of the upper class folk drinking toasts in full uniform and regalia. The goriest sequence involves a man performing surgery on himself, which I couldn't even watch.

The film feels long -- it's over two hours but nowhere near the length of, say, The Two Towers, which felt a lot shorter than it was -- but it doesn't drag, just has lots of ups and downs in the action like many war movies. I really enjoyed it and the audience I saw it with, mostly people who'd gotten passes from A&E hyping the new Horatio Hornblower films, were enthusiastic and applauded at the end.

ETA: My notes on the entire series of Patrick O'Brian books are here.

Friday Five:
1. Using one adjective, describe your current living space.
2. Using two adjectives, describe your current employer. Entertaining, whimsical.
3. Using three adjectives, describe your favorite hobby/pastime. Cerebral, literate, imaginative.
4. Using four adjectives, describe your typical day. Disorganized, frustrating, rushed, unambitious.
5. Using five adjectives, describe your ideal life. Passionate, engaged, peaceful, creative, leisurely.

1. What is your favorite death scene (movies and/or tv)? Why? Boromir's in The Fellowship of the Ring, movie version. No one here really needs me to explain this, do they? (I refer you to my fan fiction, if so; go to my memories, look up A/B and all will become clear.)
2. Name the top three filmed death scenes of all time, in order. (The list doesn’t necessarily have to include your favorite.) The murder and visual aftermath in Crimes and Misdemeanors; the deaths we never see in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Thelma and Louise; and the end of Life of Brian. Because, really, the moment of death on camera is almost always overrated.
3. How many times has your favorite character died? Dream sequences can count. Who is it, and how did they die each time? ONCE. Any character who died more than once by definition is not my favorite character. I have stopped feeling anything when characters die in genre television; they can kill Spock, Buffy, Xena, etc. as many times as they want and I will giggle. Give me a situation like the end of Space Cowboys or even the cheesiness of Armageddon before subjecting me to multiple deaths by the same character.
4. How do you, as a viewer, feel if a show kills, then resurrects a character? I mean, if someone can’t stay in the ground, do you feel it “cheapens” the emotional impact of their death? Or do you now not get upset if a character dies? Absolutely. See above. I pretty much lost interest in Buffy the day she came back. Even the holographic return of Madeline in La Femme Nikita pissed me off, though I thought they dealt with the psychosis of it pretty well.
5. Death stories - love 'em or hate 'em? Can you give a two sentence reason? Stories in which people die, either by accident or by sacrifice, can be incredibly moving and really get at the core of what makes life important. But "death stories" nearly always strike me as gratuitous and shallow. So overall I'd have to say hate 'em, which is not to say that some of my very favorite scenes have not involved character death.

A very happy belated birthday to !

And big hugs and thanks to and her friends -- she knows why.

Awesome new mood icons by .

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Poem for Thursday

Apart (Les Séparés)
By Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
Translated by Louis Simpson

Do not write. I am sad, and want my light put out.
Summers in your absence are as dark as a room.
I have closed my arms again. They must do without.
To knock at my heart is like knocking at a tomb.
                Do not write!

Do not write. Let us learn to die, as best we may.
Did I love you? Ask God. Ask yourself. Do you know?
To hear that you love me, when you are far away,
Is like hearing from heaven and never to go.
                Do not write!

Do not write. I fear you. I fear to remember,
For memory holds the voice I have often heard.
To the one who cannot drink, do not show water,
The beloved one's picture in the handwritten word.
                Do not write!

Do not write those gentle words that I dare not see,
It seems that your voice is spreading them on my heart,
Across your smile, on fire, they appear to me,
It seems that a kiss is printing them on my heart.
                Do not write!


Horoscope for the day from "Today, don't voice your opinion on any subject, MICHELLE ERICA. If you do, people may reproach you for being an insensitive intellectual who is disconnected from reality. It is very likely that the "Water" atmosphere that reigns today will make you reject anything that is not deeply felt. So, hug the walls, slip out the side door and go home. You will be able to return with calmer spirits later on."

Um! Okay. I have to review Enterprise from last night right now, so this is not a good thing. My Friends list is at -150 and I am giving up or I will never ever get done everything I have to get done in the next several hours. Re: Master and Commander, I will say only that I enjoyed it immensely, it was a teeny bit slow in parts but I can't really think how I would have changed it because I loved that it was not obsessively an action film, Crowe was wonderful, Bettany was wonderful and the two of them together were so wonderful that I will be slashing their characters in my head for the next several months -- they make beautiful music together. *g*

And okay, I am a soon as I found out that I could have five more icons without paying for them, I uploaded five old favorites. Heh. I still don't see how anyone can use 50, though.

POA trailer! SNAAAAAAAAPE! Just had to say that!

If you wrote fic in the past two days I have not read it; have been swamped (yeah, I did write a drabble but when I have to choose between writing and commenting I always choose to write, sorry). Also have about 30 comments and 20 e-mails lying unanswered, Sorry...will try to get to them by tomorrow night!

flesh wound
You're just a flesh wound!! You are the Black
Knight and are extremely stubborn, and think
you always win.
A Very Good Monty Python Quiz On What You Are!
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