Thursday, September 30, 2004

Poem for Thursday

To Autumn
By John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


Sort of an obvious choice for the day but I'm in a great rush. Haven't read my friends list for two days, had a ton of work to get done yesterday around a wonderful lunch with and then an insane evening of chores that continue into today (tub Drano finished, laundry not even started). Have two more articles to write today and Hebrew school carpool and violin, but hey -- I posted fic, not even waiting for betas (shall make changes later since the whole damn thing is going to need to be rewritten anyway). Also, I got my son to the orthodontist before the wire cut into his cheek too badly or got so frayed that it had to be replaced, and I got him to school in time for reading, too.

Divorcing Jack, which was our lunchtime movie choice, was so very much more extraordinary than I expected that I must say some things about it. We watched it because of David Thewlis and Jason Isaacs (and man am I looking forward to writing Lupin/Malfoy confrontation now) but I hadn't even noticed that Robert Lindsay, my beloved Captain Pellew, was in it as well, and Laura Fraser from A Knight's Tale. I had expected it to be more of a lighthearted black comedy -- the emphasis here is very much on the "black" as this is a story of IRA violence in northern Ireland and a hapless journalist who sleeps with the wrong woman in the midst of it -- yet despite being much bloodier than I expected, it was amazingly funny and Thewlis and Isaacs were unbelievably good. Isaacs in particular gave the best line reading of the word "Shit" in the history of cinema. It may even have been a better line reading than Bean's on "They have a cave troll." I cannot recommend this movie highly enough, if you can stomach quite a lot of blood.

Otherwise, I watched Smallville while chatting and formatting stuff, and rather enjoyed it except I missed so much of last season that everything involving Chloe was sort of lost on me. Now that it is out of conflict with Enterprise, this is the second show my entire family watches together, and it is very entertaining getting the opinions of an eleven- and eight-year-old about the goings-on (like lesbian kisses in the previews for next week, heh). Today I must write an article about Shatner and his reality show about making a bad small-town movie, which was a much more pleasant story to write when it seemed like it was actually about Shatner and Nimoy collaborating on a bad small-town movie. Am hoping to see as well. Will try to catch up on two days of friends list tonight!

My Japanese name is
中村 Nakamura (center of the village)
久美子 Kumiko (eternal beautiful child)
Take your real japanese name generator! today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Name Generator Generator.

capt jack
You are Captain Jack Aubrey. You are funny, enjoy
a good drink, devoted to your purpose, and
willing to go out of the way for a friend. Be
careful though, you often find it hard to
distinguish between personal and professional
relationships. "Choose the lesser of two weevils!"
What Russell Crowe Movie Character Are You?!
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Poem for Wednesday

By Kabir
Translated by Robert Bly

I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves
   birds and animals and the ants --
perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in
   your mother's womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely
   orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten
   what you once knew,
and that's why everything you do has some weird
   failure in it.


Oh what a day. I think I blew it yesterday and didn't call to cancel a dentist appointment for my kids that I had been sure I moved to another date because my older son has chess club after school on Tuesdays (and was originally scheduled for Hebrew school, before we switched Hebrew to the Thursday class so he could do chess club). The late bus was very late due to the weather and my son did not get home till after six. Today I am supposed to spend half the day with but my younger son seems to have yanked a wire loose in his braces, meaning that I may have to take him to the orthodontist (who is in the same offices as the dentist). I am rather frazzled and unfocused and this makes things generally suck.

In good news, though, I had lunch with the lovely after weeks of delay, and I finished the first draft of chapter eleven of "Tea and Chocolate" that's been giving me fits for weeks. And Washington is getting a baseball team. Must be the full moon. Speaking of lunacy, Boromir (the gerbil) has decided that instead of crawling into his little hidey-house through the well-gnawed front door, he would rather keep turning it over and using it as a nest (until he gnaws through it, at least). Here, look:

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Poem for Tuesday

By Naomi Long Madgett

I tried to tell her:
This way the twig is bent.
Born of my trunk and strengthened by my roots,
You must stretch newgrown branches
Closer to the sun
Than I can reach.
I wanted to say:
Extend my self to that far atmosphere
Only my dreams allow.

But the twig broke,
And yesterday I saw her
Walking down an unfamiliar street,
Feet confident,
Face slanted upward toward a threatening sky,
She was smiling
And she was
Her very free,
Her very individual,


Yesterday evening my parents came over for the birthday cake we did not have time to have on my son's actual birthday since we got back so late from the RenFaire. As is typical, my son came home Friday with some weekend homework, but on Friday afternoon he felt no pressure to do it because Monday was so far away. Then we spent all day Saturday doing Yom Kippur stuff with a brief interruption for a book signing, all day Sunday at the festival after Hebrew school in the morning, and Sunday night he tried the miserable "But I shouldn't have to do homework on my birthday *wail* and didn't understand why he got no sympathy from me, who had tried to get him to do his homework on Friday.

My father apparently taught my son to play Texas Hold'em poker and I am mildly afraid that he is becoming an aficionado. Not very afraid, because I learned poker and blackjack at a younger age than he is now and he loves his money far too much to gamble with it, but he's good with numbers and having a lot of fun with this -- however, he has the worst poker face in the history of the game (I keep trying to explain that going, "OOH! OOH! OOH!" when he gets a new card is not a good strategy to get his opponent to keep betting). My father and his best friend, who took said friend's youngest son to Atlantic City for his 21st birthday, have promised to do the same for my son when he turns 21, and my general sense is that if my father and his friend are in shape in ten years to make this trip, it's fine with me.

Gacked from because it amused me. I could change a couple of answers here or there and be yellow or turquoise but it seems clear that I am related to green one way or another.

You are green. Perhaps one of the most balanced of all the colors. By balanced, I mean balanced in both bad and good parts. Let me elaborate: You're a natural, and somewhat superficial person. You're extremely generous, but, to add to the confusion, you're frugal and stingy. You're a forgiving, but jealous person. You're imaginative, but still logical. At sometimes, you're a complete neat-freak, and other times, you're a total slob. You're very stable, but undependable. But onto the other traits that are associated with this color... You're a stubborn person, simply put. Do you believe in Feng Shui? Green is closely related to the thought of having a balanced environment, you know. When in a bad situation, you're painfully pessimistic, and when you're in a good situation, you're extremely optimistic. A fairly outgoing and amused person, you enjoy talking to people, and hearing their thoughts on different things. As a plus, when people hang around you, it seems like time passes by all the more quickly.
What color are you? (Amazingly detailed & accurate--with pics!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Am off to lunch with ! It's been so long she probably remembers me being thinner. *g*

Monday, September 27, 2004

Poem for Monday

Sonnet 91
By William Shakespeare

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their bodies' force,
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
Of more delight than hawks or horses be;
And having thee, of all men's pride I boast:
Wretched in this alone, that thou mayst take
All this away and me most wretched make.


Have spent an enjoyable if tiring afternoon at the Maryland Renaissance Festival with my sons, four friends of theirs, and my mother. Rather than try to recap, I shall illustrate it.

English knights parading before the court at the tournament grounds.

Wolgemut's Renaissance rock show on the Lyric Stage. There were lots of bagpipes today, despite the pirate theme.

The Bloody Drama at the Globe Theatre, performing The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel and an alphabet improv with audience help.

Kids shooting ping pong balls with crossbows at holes in a screen. Of the six kids we had with us, not one got a single one of their five balls through.

The Rogues on the Jury Rig Stage, where we also (as you can guess from the sign) saw Hack & Slash. The Rogues were great but I found Hack & Slash disappointing, especially after having been to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and having seen Don Juan and Miguel, who had funnier jokes, were less full of themselves and did more interesting things with the whip.

Sir Henry Clifford riding to present the heart he just speared to the Queen. This man rides beautifully but none of my actual jousting photos came out very well, as I was at an angle when I was close to them and then behind a lot of people when I was nearer the center of the grounds. I refer everyone to 's journal for a comprehensive account of the jousting at this Faire.

Sir Nicholas Carew after his own pre-joust display of accuracy. , I have more pictures of your boys but I am terrified I don't have all of their names right!

Michael Rosman, the Squire of the Wire, about to juggle knives and a flaming torch above the heads of his audience. In a kilt. (Though he claimed he wore it in the traditional manner, I ran into him at dinnertime and he said in fact he had several pairs of boxers on, heh.)

Fight School II: Reloaded. These guys are talented, informative and hilarious -- I know things about how to use a dagger to defend oneself against a rapier that I never knew before, and I got to see the two guys on the ends here have a lirpa fight right out of "Amok Time" only without the ripped shirt. Definitely a highlight of the day for all parties involved.

-------- And since it's a related subject: --------

You are a Gypsy! Dancing and parties are your kinda
thing! You like having fun all the time and
never seem to be in the same place twice. You
have an interesting outlook on life, but
usually do all your living at night by the
fires of the gypsy camps. You entice people
with stories and song, its never a dull moment
with you around.

What Renaissance Type Woman are you? (with pics)
brought to you by Quizilla

Shall endeavor later to describe the food (lots of turkey legs, desserts on a stick and bottles of water), the party favors (wooden swords) and the trouble they caused, the minimal window shopping, the street musicians...hope everyone has had a good Sunday!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Poem for Sunday

By Julia de Burgos
Translated by Jack Agüeros

I'm going to make a seawall
with my small happiness...
I don't want the sea to know
that pains go through my breast.

I don't want the sea to touch
the shore of my earth...
I have run out of dreams,
crazy from shadows in the sand.

I don't want the sea to look
at blue mourning in my path...
(My eyelids were auroras
when the storm crossed!)

I don't want the sea to cry
a new rainstorm at my door...
All the eyes of the wind
already cry me as dead.

I'm going to make a seawall
with my small happiness,
light happiness of knowing myself,
mind the hand that closes.

I don't want the sea to arrive
at the thirst of my poem,
blind in the middle of light,
broken in the middle of an absence.


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in today's Washington Post Book World. "Julia de Burgos (1914-1953) is for me the bedrock of Puerto Rican poetry," he writes. "I am eager to recommend the highly lyrical, turbulent, commemorative, socially conscious poems of this key Spanish-language poet...a proto-feminist...a Puerto Rican independentista and a devoted internationalist." Though she was afflicted by the poverty and social problems of the island, "the spirit of freedom and independence flashes through de Burgos's work."

Yesterday evening we had dinner at the home of one of my mother's oldest friends, whom I have known since birth. One of the other families who routinely joins us there have senior members whom my parents have known since their teens, a son my age, a daughter two years younger, and another son three years younger than she is, plus three grandsons. This is often the only time I see the eldest son all year, even though he lives in the area and I could; he's a high-power attorney, not married, no kids, so in some ways our lives have very little in common. I have no excuse for not seeing the daughter who's practically my age, though, particularly since her husband is a Trekkie. At any rate I had marvelous kippered salmon and kugel and blintzes and conversation and am stuffed and happy.

It's my oldest son's birthday, and we are taking a group of his friends to the RenFaire, where I am hoping to meet up with a bunch of LJers whom I knew in Trek fandom from before any of us were LJers...and to see 's knights! The weather is supposed to hold, at least as of the last report on Jeanne's movements. Hope everyone in Florida is okay! Below gacked from all over the place, making me there's a slash couple I never considered...

Your Boobies' Names Are: Bambi and Thumper

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Online When I Shouldn't Be

We interrupt this Day of Atonement for one of those parental dilemmas: what do you do when your son's favorite writer is in town from overseas, for one afternoon only, and it happens to be right between the end of the family service and the gathering to break the fast, and the author is going to be speaking as well as signing and greeting kids?

Brian Jacques (pronounced "Jakes"), the author of the Redwall books, at the kids' toy and bookstore practically around the corner from my house, here from Liverpool.

He had anecdotes about knowing a teacher in common with George Harrison...

...told wonderful stories about getting the idea for the moles from folk in the north whose English even he can't understand and similar stories about the mice and other creatures in his books...

...described writing as painting pictures with words, and admitted he hated school because they made him do math...

...and talked about the value of imagination. He was extremely funny -- kids and adults all clapping -- and did not appear to take himself overly seriously.

Now we have these all signed. If, unlike many people there, we had not obeyed the rules about two books per person and only hardcovers at that, we might have had the entire collection signed.

Due to a friend's extreme generosity (and possible insanity, heh), I had the opportunity tonight to have a fan experience of a lifetime. And I bailed, because it's Yom Kippur, I have family obligations, and a host of other practical reasons. Am now wondering whether I will eventually have an "OH MY GOD! WHAT WAS I THINKING!" moment, particularly since going to see a children's author one's son loves seems rather like a fannish activity. And, I mean, if Russell Crowe was in town and I had an invite to see him, I'd go whether it was Yom Kippur or the Day of Judgment. Speaking of whom, from tomorrow's Parade section, which we always get delivered a day early:

Eep. To make this entry somewhat relevant to the day, another feminist version of a traditional prayer. The "Al Chet" recitation, performed several times during Yom Kippur services, is intended to start the task of repentance and humbling oneself before God. The lines of the prayer are a list of sins, mistakes, errors, missed obligations -- "for the sin that we have sinned before you." But Judith Plaskow suggests that women already spend enough time humbling themselves all year long, and that prayer for women would do well to affirm their deeds as well as than their failings.

Al Mitzvah Sheki Y'amanu
By Judith Plaskow

For the mitzvah we fulfilled by loving ourselves
And for the mitzvah we fulfilled by loving our partners, our friends and our families.

For the mitzvah we fulfilled by affirming our own strengths
And for the mitzvah we fulfilled by affirming the strengths of others.

For the mitzvah we fulfilled in our work
And for the mitzvah we fulfilled by eating healthy food.

For the mitzvah we fulfilled by supporting Jews
And for the mitzvah we fulfilled by supporting all peoples.

For the mitzvah we fulfilled by working for justice and peace
And for the mitzvah we fulfilled by preserving the environment.

For the mitzvah we fulfilled by being honest
And for the mitzvah we fulfilled by living our values and beliefs.

Poem for Saturday

The traditional prayer "Avinu Malkaynu" is translated as "Our Father, Our King" and repeatedly implores a patriarchal image of God to hear and answer our prayers for redemption. This version, "Aninu," addresses God in feminine and gender-neutral terms.

Answer Us
By Rachel Adler

Answer us, Hidden Light, answer us.
Answer us, Searcher of Hearts, answer us.
Answer us, Bestower of Lovingkindness, answer us.
Answer us, Souls' Core, answer us.
Answer us, Majestic Splendor, answer us.
Answer us, Faithful and Whole, answer us.
Answer us, Who remembers Her little ones, answer us.
Answer us, Life of the Universe, answer us.
Answer us, Secret and Pure, answer us.
Answer us, Who fashioned us in the womb, answer us.
Answer us, Crown of Secrets, answer us.
Answer us, Heart of the Seas, answer us.
Answer us, Who brings good news to Zion, answer us.
Answer us, Tiger with Her cubs, answer us.
Answer us, Sukkah of Peace, answer us.
Answer us, Helper of the Destitute, answer us.
Answer us, Who spreads Her wings over us, answer us.
Answer us, Rock who birthed us, answer us.
Answer us, Near to those who call Her, answer us.
Answer us, Healer of Broken Hearts, answer us.
Answer us, Shekhina Who dwells among us, answer us.
Answer us, Our Hope and our Beloved, answer us.


It's the night when we pray to unbreak all the vows we never should have made in the first place. I wish I could say I accomplished something significant today, but I had a missed communication with my lunch date, went shopping for thrilling things like pantyhose to wear to services tomorrow, and my major point of pleasure was discovering that my son got all his spelling words right after the repeated drills of early morning. My older son's bus never arrived at the bus stop, thus requiring my husband to drive him halfway across the county to school; he got him there in time but was then irritable with the back and forth commute, and I ended up meeting him for a quick late lunch in between chores as consolation for us both.

did a really nice thing for me that I can't even take advantage of, since it's Yom Kippur, but I want to express my adoration and frustration that we were not fated to enjoy this day together. Instead it's services, entertainment for kids and breaking the fast...not that anyone in my immediate household will be fasting past entire day with the entire family. I shall atone for my wish for just a few minutes hibernating. Good Yom Tov and good luck to everyone in the path of Jeanne.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Poem for Friday

Song of Songs
Chapter 7

How beautiful are thy steps in sandals, O prince's daughter! The roundings of thy thighs are like the links of a chain, the work of the hands of a skilled workman.

Thy navel is like a round goblet, wherein no mingled wine is wanting; thy belly is like a heap of wheat set about with lilies.

Thy two breasts are like two fawns that are twins of a gazelle.

Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes as the pools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim; thy nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.

Thy head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thy head like purple; the king is held captive in the tresses thereof.

How fair and how pleasant art thou, O love, for delights!

This thy stature is like to a palm-tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.

I said: 'I will climb up into the palm-tree, I will take hold of the branches thereof; and let thy breasts be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy countenance like apples;

And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine, that glideth down smoothly for my beloved, moving gently the lips of those that are asleep.'

I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.

Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field; let us lodge in the villages.

Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see whether the vine hath budded, whether the vine-blossom be opened, and the pomegranates be in flower; there will I give thee my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and at our doors are all manner of precious fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.


This is the 1917 Jewish Publication Society of America translation of "Song of Songs" which I believe is the first I ever read; the Tanakh we had in the house when I was growing up was my father's, a Bar Mitzvah present that had been given to him, so that was the first one with which I was familiar. It's online here at the Jewish Virtual Library.

1. What is your opinion on karma? I believe in it on a cosmic level but not so much in terms of daily life. I have a very strong sense of balance in the universe; however, I will never be able to rationalize things like the Black Death or the Holocaust in terms of any higher power or luck or fate.
2. If anything, do you think attitude makes any difference? If you believe the world and life are good, will good things radiate toward you? If you believe otherwise, will it all be a self fulfilling prophecy? Yes and yes; or, perhaps, not necessarily but your perceptions of them will be so.
3. How has luck/chance/facts-of-life/God/karma/nature treated you so far? Quite well, and I need to remember to focus on that on days when the little things are dragging me down. Compared to the vast majority of people throughout human history I have it so, so good.
4. What is your opinion of the concept of destinies? To some extent we are shaped by our circumstances at birth and through life but I don't believe anyone's path is laid out.
5. Are both bad and good things needed in order to truly live life? Can you have the bad without the good? The good without the bad? Yes, no and no, though I think that when people have enough bad to deal with, they can become incapable of recognizing the good, and ironically when people have too much good too easily, the same thing happens.

: What five actors would you watch in almost anything?
1. Louise Fletcher
2. Anjelica Huston
3. Glenn Close
4. Lee Remick
5. Russell Crowe (yeah, this is fairly recent, but it's been every damn film he ever made, so it counts)

Why isn't Sean Bean on this list? Because he's made a couple of movies I literally could not sit through -- I can't tolerate a certain level of violence. For the sake of truth in advertising I should probably have included Kate Mulgrew, because there was a time when I would have and did sit through everything she had ever done, including some films so unwatchable that I don't know how I could stand it. But I haven't seen her in anything since Voyager in 1990, and she's a pale imitation of Remick crossed with Hepburn (whom I adore but I have not, in fact, come anywhere near to seeing her entire oeuvre -- same with Garbo), so Kate's off the list. (: I will deny ever having said this anyway!)

My younger son's stitches are out so he is a much happier person, even though it is still uncomfortable for him to eat anything rough and dry (toast, non-soggy cereal, Cheetos, etc.) He has his first graded spelling test today and though we went over "responsible" ten times, he and I are both worried that he is going to spell it "responsable" anyway. This reminds me that when I was in fourth grade, I could not spell the word "friend" correctly to save my life; every single time I spelled it "freind" no matter how often I was corrected. I wonder whether there was something psychological going on, heh.

This morning as I was walking aforementioned younger son to school and testing him on spelling, there was an incredible sky. It had shifted and faded significantly by the time I got home and got my camera but I took a couple of pictures anyway.

Down the main street of my neighborhood, pointed skyward.

And the broader view between the houses and trees.

Suddenly there are substantial signs of fall -- red leaves on these trees, yellow leaves on the tulip trees.

And here is Cinnamon waiting for me to come back.

Have an insanely busy weekend coming up. This evening we are dining with my parents before Kol Nidre. Tomorrow we are going to the noon Yom Kippur family service. Then we are violating Jewish law because Brian Jacques, who wrote the Redwall books, is having a reading and signing at the book and toy store that's walking distance from our house, so since Sunday is our older son's birthday we are taking him to meet the author. Then we are breaking the fast with my parents and three generations of two families of friends with whom we have been breaking the fast for many years.

Then Sunday, for my son's birthday, we are taking two van-loads of kids to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The only things I know for sure are that we must see Fight Club, we are going to watch some jousting (don't worry , I will look out for your men) and instead of party favors we have been instructed to buy everyone wooden swords or axes. I am not sure how much this qualifies as an improvement over the initial stated plan by my son which was to go play laser tag and get everyone Yi-Gi-Oh cards, but at least it's idealizing historical violence instead of video games, right?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Poem for Thursday

I Said Unto You
By Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said)

I said unto you:
I listened to the seas
reading to me their verses
I listened to the bells
slumbering inside the oyster shells.
I said unto you:
I sang my songs
at Satan's wedding
and the feast of the fable.
I said unto you:
I beheld,
in the rain of history
and the glow of the distance
a fairy and a dwelling.
Because I sail in my eyes,
I said unto you, I beheld
in the first step of the distance.


Gonna have to be fast because my editor's motto seems to be that if I step up and do way too much work one day, it just means that obviously this is my normal capacity and I should have just as much shit dumped on me every day. I mean, I spent half an hour yesterday writing about a UPN series that ISN'T on a Wednesday or Friday, ISN'T in any way connected with Enterprise and ISN'T going to be watched by 99% of our readers because it's a teen angst detective series about a girl...and if that was the only news to cover and we needed filler for the day, fine, but then do not dump two enormous articles on me the next day while it's two days from a major religious holiday AND ask me to do news bullets! I'm at the point where I am ready to tell them to pay me per article or I'm walking. It's not the lack of money -- I knew they had no money when I started. It's the fact that any time I stretch myself, instead of a thank you, I get the presumption that I should just do it again and again.

My son is home from outdoor ed, and very very happy -- he loved being in the cabins, loved all the hiking and confidence courses and had a good time with the other kids, including one who went to first through third grade with him and then transferred to a different elementary school but is in his new middle school. I have a terrible head cold and feel like crap (as should be obvious from my mood). My younger son is getting his stitches out from the periodontal work this afternoon, and is thrilled. So life is good, other than I have an insane weekend schedule coming up with family stuff for Yom Kippur all day Saturday (we always break the fast at the home of a longtime friend of my mother's) and Sunday we are driving a posse of eleven year old boys to the Renaissance Festival for my son's birthday. I just want my head to be clear by then.

I half-watched the Smallville season opener. Squeed like a madwoman when Margot Kidder showed up and squeed even more when her big scene was with Annette and when her character had a Thing for Christopher Reeve's character. Since I missed most of last season and was up and down during the episode I hesitate to draw any conclusions from it, other than I can definitely watch any show with Tom Welling's naked butt and Jensen Ackles and Michael Rosenbaum and John Glover, and I shall link to 's post about it because it made me smile. Below snicked from , and made me smile too, and you can get froggies and cats and other little avatars:

little wolfcruisedirector

And linked me to this bad news for UPenn alumni! Woe!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Poem for Wednesday

The Man Who Never Heard of Frank Sinatra
By Aaron Fogel

The man who had never heard of Frank Sinatra: he lived
A perfectly ordinary life in America. Born in 1915,
He followed all the fads, read the newspapers, listened

To Television, knew who Dean Martin and Sammy whathisname
Were (Sinatra's friends), but somehow, by a one in a
Zillion fluke, whenever Sinatra came up, he was out of the room.

Or his attention was diverted by something else, and
(You will say this is impossible, that it cannot be), never
Heard him sing, like a man in my generation who somehow

Missed the Beatles though he had heard everything else.
Once, just as he was about to hear the name Frank Sinatra
A plane flew overhead--he was fifty-five years old--his hearing

A little more impaired. He had heard of Humphrey Bogart,
Of Elizabeth Taylor, of Walter Cronkite, and of perhaps a hundred
Forty thousand other celebrities names by the time he died,

And yet he had never heard of Frank Sinatra. The Greeks had
That famous saying, "The luckiest man is he who was never born."
Which is kind of gloomy, but I think they were wrong.

The luckiest man is he who never heard of Frank Sinatra.


Actually the luckiest man is probably he who never heard of Cat Stevens, whose plane was diverted from Dulles Airport here because he's on a suspected terrorist list. They're apparently going to deport him from Maine. I'm still pretty damn pissed that Yusuf Islam called for the death of Salman Rushdie, but this seems symptomatic of an entirely different problem. I never heard Yusuf threaten anyone personally. (I guess it was never true that his real name was Steven Katz, as they tried to persuade us at Jewish camp when we sang "Morning Has Broken"?)

So, I have my SW trilogy. Needless to say -- or perhaps not needless but I'll say it anyway -- I did not have time to watch the whole thing -- I had three articles to write and a child with spelling homework and excitement of that nature. But I did feel compelled to watch the new, Lucas-improved ending to Return of the Jedi. And I have several confessions. First, I think and have thought that ROTJ was a vastly inferior movie to the first two (the fourth and fifth, however you want to count) and with the exception of Leia's hairdos and the Sarlaac, there is not much I ever clung to as essential and perfect canon. The list of fan grievances from Boba Fett's premature exit to the Ewoks' presence are now legend but I was the first generation to walk out of the theater with them fresh in my mind, with the hallelujah music playing in the background.

So some of the changes Lucas made to the film over the years, beginning with but by no means limited to the new music at the end, have been most welcome. And I feel that way with all the SW SEs -- unlike the LOTR SEs, where I consider the added scenes significant additions to canon, even the ones I want to reject as vile like the Eowyn stuff, there's nothing in SW that I ever considered such a big change that I felt it HAD to be included or HAD to be rejected, including who shot first. I just could never be arsed to care that much. And watching the ending, with images of places from episodes one and two, had...absolutely no impact on me whatsoever. Nor did seeing Hayden Christensen standing where some guy I didn't recognize at all as the ghost of Darth Vader had been. I was happy to see more Chewie, and Wedge, and to remember that I didn't have to brace myself against the Ewok song because it wasn't coming.

Silly to have Hayden and Sir Alec in the same frame? Probably, but you know what? The ghosts were silly to begin with. Irrelevant to show the entire ex-Empire having a Ding Dong, the Witch Is Dead moment over the demise of the Emperor and Vader when the entire military infrastructure is still in place? Sure, but it's not that much siller than the fireworks on Endor in the first place. Mark Hamill was on the radio this morning here swearing that Lucas did not really have nine episodes constructed before shooting ever began, that the sister thing probably occurred to him in the car, and I'm inclined to believe that's true because the quasi-incestuous titillation-squick has not been axed, nor any of what I consider the emotional moments of the series for me.

If they bring out another $50-75 set with the original cuts of the SW films (which I have on pro video), I doubt I'll bother to buy it. Should they have brought that out in the first place? I don't know, because the truth is I don't really care, and I'm someone who probably should, considering that I have my original action figures from the 70s upstairs in my bedroom and my Yoda Halloween mask down in the basement. This is Star Wars, not rocket science, and it was ROTJ, not AOTC, that made me see it not as a work of art but as an oft-crappy commercial product.

Snapey GIP courtesy . It's a long story. *g* I'm picking up my son when his class returns from Outdoor Education this afternoon. Guess everyone survived the three days of glorious weather!

A Cape Cod Caterpillar.

A Cape Cod grasshopper...

...and a Northern Virginia grasshopper.

A Northern Virginia praying mantis.

A Pennsylvania moth.

A Pennsylvania centipede.

Naughty Massachusetts dragonflies in the act of love...or else cannibalizing each other.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Poem for Tuesday

Approach Of Winter
By William Carlos Williams

The half-stripped trees
struck by a wind together,
bending all,
the leaves flutter drily
and refuse to let go
or driven like hail
stream bitterly out to one side
and fall
where the salvias, hard carmine —
like no leaf that ever was —
edge the bare garden.


Happy Autumn. I took a long walk last night and breathed the air and was so happy with the temperatures and the smell of the leaves...then I came home and my head wouldn't clear and I realized I was getting a cold. Sigh.

Older son is off at outdoor ed. It's moderately traumatic but younger son is talking enough for three kids to make up for it. Spent uneventful evening watching Monday Night Football and trying to organize assorted crap that needed organization. Ficced a little but this next bit of T&C is in three distinct fragments that don't want to integrate easily. My only firm Tuesday plans are to obtain the Star Wars trilogy on DVD and see whether half the rumors about it are true.

Okay, , I concede: I should have paid a lot more attention to Black Hawk Down publicity. I missed interviews like this one from 'Region 4'. Bill Craske: How did you get yourself cast in 'Black Hawk Down'? Jason Isaacs: I slept with Ridley Scott at some Swingers Club.

Me as a god, gacked from all over -- perfect quiz for the Days of Awe, right?

What kind of God are you?
Favourite Color
You earthly time was spent Raining torrents of blood while sailing over the prostrate masses in an iron chariot
Your throne is A towering onyx chair, reflecting perpetual moonlight, adorned with the skulls of the vanquished
You wear Nothing! And that is why people worship you
Your Godly superpower is Bolts of crackling lightning from your fingertips and total invincibility
This cool quiz by pelagicboreas - Taken 20744 Times.
New! Get Free Daily Horoscopes from Kwiz.Biz

Monday, September 20, 2004

Poem for Monday

The City Limits
By A. R. Ammons

When you consider the radiance, that it does not withhold
itself but pours its abundance without selection into every
nook and cranny not overhung or hidden; when you consider

that birds' bones make no awful noise against the light but
lie low in the light as in a high testimony; when you consider
the radiance, that it will look into the guiltiest

swervings of the weaving heart and bear itself upon them,
not flinching into disguise or darkening; when you consider
the abundance of such resource as illuminates the glow-blue

bodies and gold-skeined wings of flies swarming the dumped
guts of a natural slaughter or the coil of shit and in no
way winces from its storms of generosity; when you consider

that air or vacuum, snow or shale, squid or wolf, rose or lichen,
each is accepted into as much light as it will take, then
the heart moves roomier, the man stands and looks about, the

leaf does not increase itself above the grass, and the dark
work of the deepest cells is of a tune with May bushes
and fear lit by the breadth of such calmly turns to praise.


Another low-key day, with preparations for my son to leave for two days of outdoor education with a group of kids he barely knows (neither of the boys in his carpool are going with his team; they're going Wednesday-Friday) around a birthday party at a local park in absolutely perfect weather. Now it's quite cool and we have all the windows open and I'm wearing a jacket and heavy slippers with socks underneath and am still chilly and it's delightful. May be deeply traumatized tomorrow evening not having my son home (he's slept at friends and away with grandparents but has never gone to overnight camp -- no interest -- so this is his first sleepaway with a peer group). Prepare to console me. *g*

In between bouts of preparation, I half-watched the Emmys. Adored Kushner's acceptance speech. Was delighted Something the Lord Made won for TV movie. Was cranky Alan Rickman didn't win for same (I know we're all supposed to be rooting for Angels In America to win everything because lots of awards are apparently supposed to make us feel better about the lack of actual AIDS funding, but I rooted for Alan over Al Pacino anyway). Also cranky Anjelica didn't win even though I didn't watch Iron Jawed Angels because -- and this is really dorky -- I always forget that we get HBO. Nice to see Shatner on the big show and I suppose I will have to watch Boston Legal with its gaggle of Emmy winners. Thought about being bummed Meryl beat Glenn again, but Glenn was playing a role for which Katharine Hepburn only won half an Oscar for a much better performance, so I guess it's fair enough. Sex and the City saved my sanity several times during the worst year of my life, but I still can't bring myself to care that it's off the air...I wish they'd gotten rid of Carrie and her men and kept Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda.

The pesky squirrel that stole a pizza crust right out from under our picnic table and ran off to eat it.

The totem pole at Wheaton Regional Park.

And the play equipment at the park. I love the way it looks in summer and fall under the leaves.

The only thing my older son wanted to do was to read his latest Redwall book -- I think he's on the fourth.

How the bowling lanes look when the pizza arrives.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Poem for Sunday

Why the Classics
By Zbigniew Herbert
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz


in the fourth book of the Peloponnesian War
Thucydides tells among other things
the story of his unsuccessful expedition

among long speeches of chiefs
battles sieges plague
dense net of intrigues of diplomatic endeavours
the episode is like a pin
in a forest

the Greek colony Amphipolis
fell into the hands of Brasidos
because Thucydides was late with relief

for this he paid his native city
with lifelong exile

exiles of all times
know what that price is


generals of the most recent wars
if a similar affair happens to them
whine on their knees before posterity
praise their heroism and innocence

they accuse their subordinates
envious colleagues
unfavourable winds

Thucydides says only
that he had seven ships
it was winter
and he sailed quickly


if art for its subject
will have a broken jar
a small broken soul
with a great self-pity

what will remain after us
will be like lovers' weeping
in a small dirty hotel
when wall-paper dawns


From Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. Hirsch had attended a symposium last month at which writers gathered to protest the USA Patriot Act, believing that it compromises freedom of expression, and noted that two of the fifteen readers chose a poem to read by Zbigniew Herbert, a poet forbidden to publish in his native Poland for many years.

"Herbert deliberately cultivated a cool, economical and anti-rhetorical style, dispensing with punctuation in his poems and eschewing grandiose effects," states Hirsch. He viewed inanimate objects as steadfast and immutable, as opposed to human beings, who are given to "cant and half-truths," and so developed an understated, uncluttered style. "Many of his poems address the issues and problems of accurate description. As he put it at the end of 'Never About You': 'Don't be surprised we don't know how to describe the world/and only speak to things affectionately by their first names.'"


Fall has arrived on the tails of Hurricane Ivan, which provided thunderstorms and winds that brought down many leaves and branches already weakened by cicadas early in the summer. The temperatures never rose above the low 70s -- for most of the day it was in the 60s, and damp -- and the streets in our neighborhood are now littered by small branches and clusters of leaves. It's gorgeous.

has sent me a most wonderful and awesome gift. I am not certain whether I am allowed to share the details for copyright reasons but I wish to express my affection and gratitude in public. *snogs *

The kids had a birthday party, the eighth birthday of the oldest son of my oldest friend. I met her when we were both six, which is rather inconceivable to me when I think about it now. At this point we have three regular dates a year: my son's birthday, her son's birthday and the annual Superbowl party she and her husband throw; we have been terribly inconsistent about getting together otherwise, which is more my fault than hers I suppose as she is better about telephoning than I ever am. Sunday's the birthday party for the oldest son of my second-oldest friend, whom I didn't meet until junior high school but whom I talk to far more often, not least because she has a LiveJournal. Hey , want an unopened DVD copy of The Grifters?

I ask because the party was at a bowling alley, so and I left the kids there for awhile and wandered down to the Best Buy nearby, where I made a marvelous discovery: Miramax has released a collector's edition of The Grifters (a movie I very nearly put on my list of must-sees two days ago, but I figure it's famous enough and anyway I had the lesser-known modern noir House of Games and Anjelica in Crimes and Misdemeanors)! The new DVD has commentary by Anjelica, John Cusack and Stephen Frears! This is a movie I wrote a paper on for an academic magazine, a film I admire unconditionally, and one of the reasons for my affection despite its brutality is that Anjelica said such brilliant things about it and its use of noir convention (and how Frears made subtle reference to her father) in interviews when it came out. I am so delighted about this. And it cost less than I paid for the no-frills DVD when it first came out.

Testing LiveJournal's new pics feature. Look, a cock!

(Addendum: Photo from Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, a recreation of the Mayflower settlement. I am sure the Puritans would not approve of the rooster's use in this manner. *snerk*)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Poem for Saturday

The Two
By Philip Levine

When he gets off work at Packard, they meet
outside a diner on Grand Boulevard. He's tired,
a bit depressed, and smelling the exhaustion
on his own breath, he kisses her carefully
on her left cheek. Early April, and the weather
has not decided if this is spring, winter, or what.
The two gaze upwards at the sky which gives
nothing away: the low clouds break here and there
and let in tiny slices of a pure blue heaven.
The day is like us, she thinks; it hasn't decided
what to become. The traffic light at Linwood
goes from red to green and the trucks start up,
so that when he says, "Would you like to eat?"
she hears a jumble of words that mean nothing,
though spiced with things she cannot believe,
"wooden Jew" and "lucky meat." He's been up
late, she thinks, he's tired of the job, perhaps tired
of their morning meetings, but when he bows
from the waist and holds the door open
for her to enter the diner, and the thick
odor of bacon frying and new potatoes
greets them both, and taking heart she enters
to peer through the thick cloud of tobacco smoke
to the see if "their booth" is available.
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that there were no
second acts in America, but he knew neither
this man nor this woman and no one else
like them unless he stayed late at the office
to test his famous one liner, "We keep you clean
Muscatine," on the woman emptying
his waste basket. Fitzgerald never wrote
with someone present, except for this woman
in a gray uniform whose comings and goings
went unnoticed even on those December evenings
she worked late while the snow fell silently
on the window sills and the new fluorescent lights
blinked on and off. Get back to the two, you say.
Not who ordered poached eggs, who ordered
only toast and coffee, who shared the bacon
with the other, but what became of the two
when this poem ended, whose arms held whom,
who first said "I love you" and truly meant it,
and who misunderstood the words, so longed
for, and yet still so unexpected, and began
suddenly to scream and curse until the waitress
asked them both to leave. The Packard plant closed
years before I left Detroit, the diner was burned
to the ground in '67, two years before my oldest son
fled to Sweden to escape the American dream.
"And the lovers?" you ask. I wrote nothing about lovers.
Take a look. Clouds, trucks, traffic lights, a diner, work,
a wooden shoe, East Moline, poached eggs, the perfume
of frying bacon, the chaos of language, the spices
of spent breath after eight hours of night work.
Can you hear all I feared and never dared to write?
Why the two are more real than either you or me,
why I never returned to keep them in my life,
how little I now mean to myself or anyone else,
what any of this could mean, where you found
the patience to endure these truths and confessions?


That poem makes me think obscurely of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which in turn makes me think of Kirsten Dunst, so it is in fact appropriate to this post, in a roundabout way. I have just had what began as an unenthralling chore-infested day -- met my husband at lunchtime with a real estate bank guy to sign refinancing papers, then ran out to get birthday presents for two eight-year-olds whose parties my younger son will be attending this weekend (one bowling, the other at a park and we are all hoping Hurricane Ivan cooperates, aren't we, ?). This evening the area was under alternating tornado and thunderstorm watches, and we have seen a good deal of lightning, but the hurricanes seem thus far to have confined themselves to Virginia -- hope everyone there and further south is okay.

Anyway, after a fairly successful present-buying trip (I found the Fairie Queene Barbie on the shelf at Toys R Us *ahem*) and a very successful run to the bookstore to get older son more Redwall books to take to Outdoor Education next week (where Simon Baker's book on retracing the Endeavour voyage jumped off the bargain table at me), my parents announced that contrary to previous rumor they would not babysit for us tomorrow night so we could go see Wimbledon, at which point we announced that we were then bailing on Rosh Hashanah leftovers with them tonight as they could clearly feed our children and watch them tonight since they had expected all of us for dinner anyway. We then had a near-perfect evening, for our local theater has a deal with California Tortilla: a burrito, a drink and a movie ticket for $11.99 ($10.99 on weekdays). This means that I had a lime chicken burrito for less than I would have spent on junk at the movies. And since we got there nice and early, we were forced to kill time by going to Ben and Jerrys for dessert.

Wimbledon was an utter delight. It is not a spoiler to say that you can predict every single thing that happens in the movie twenty minutes before it happens, even if you know absolutely nothing about tennis -- if you have ever seen a romantic comedy or a sports movie, you know the formula. However, this in no way interferes with the pleasures of the film and in fact provides a certain comfort zone, since you never have to worry that these two charming people will come to any grief. They're beautiful, they're rich, they're famous, they're witty, they should be far more despicable than they are, but in fact I feel about Peter and Lizzie much as I feel about Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, namely that if people are going to be beautiful and rich and famous and witty, they may as well be likeable and friendly and schlep their own gear. I used to watch Wimbledon religiously with my father, and though in the years since I have had children I have lapsed in this as all my sports enthusiasms, I found the tennis reasonably believable and the supporting cast quite wonderful (Bernard Hill and Eleanor Bron, whoooo!) It's also a lot of fun that McEnroe, Evert and Carillo all play themselves, covering the tournament for NBC.

I must agree with Paul that this is the best romantic comedy about tennis ever made. Also, I must know more about Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who played his practice partner of ambiguous sexual orientation...goddamn, he's in Black Hawk Down. There is a conspiracy to make me watch that movie, I swear -- every time I see a guy and think ooh, he's cute, it turns out that he was in that film. I tried to watch it and it was just too violent -- I couldn't stand it. But, I mean, Josh and Ewan and Jason and Eric and Hugh and Orlando and Ioan and it just goes on and on...and hey! Nikolaj is in Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando too, and Liam and Jeremy and David and Sid. So many men, so...few roles worth shit for women. Hmm, that isn't what I meant to say, surely.

Since I have neglected to have a Gratuitous Patrick O'Brian Squee Post in awhile, I thought I should mention that if Jack and Stephen were so married before The Wine-Dark Sea, this book tells the story of their second honeymoon. O'Brian takes pains to point out that although Stephen has his own quarters and a standing invitation to dinner in the gunroom, he prefers to spend every waking moment in the great cabin with Jack and to sleep there too, even though Jack's snoring frequently keeps him awake. Jack gets injured in a battle with an authentic pirate ship that flies the Jolly Roger (and Jack has to explain the verb "to roger" to Stephen, heh). Stephen, who is supposed to go on a Secret Mission, starts talking about calling it off to stay by Jack's side, even though Jack promises that he will do anything Stephen tells Killick to make him do even taking his terrible horrible medicine, and we all know Jack is more afraid of Killick than anyone alive. So when Jack says go already before Napoleon takes over the world, Stephen gets on the Surprise with Tom while Jack stays on the Franklin, an American ship which they had taken as a prize, and Stephen stands on deck staring at Jack until he can't see his face any more, and gets all choked up and pretends it's from the sunset until Sarah or Emily I forget which gets all sniffly and says she won't stop praying until they are all together safely again. (Sarah and Emily are like Jack and Stephen's love children, despite being adopted, having Stephen's religion and Jack's affection for life at sea from the earliest age, and Sam is TOTALLY Jack and Stephen's love child too -- he gets his looks from Jack and his Catholicism and his illegitimacy from Stephen.)

In general this book has made me howl in so many places I have undoubtedly forgotten to mark them all. In one case Jack is talking about all these religious minorities on the ship who unfortunately may prefer loathsome Democracy to having a King, but he says that he has always done tolerably well getting along with people: "'For my own part,' said Captain Aubrey, 'I have no notion of disliking a man for his beliefs, above all if he was born with them. I find I can get along very well with Jews or even...' The P of Papists was already formed, and the word was obliged to come out as Pindoos." So then they are discussing slavery, and they have on board Dutourd, who wanted to found a utopia where all men were equal, though his ship was acting like a pirate and capturing British ships to get the money for this endeavour, and he is moderately unhappy at being captured and having his money taken away but one night he hears Jack and Stephen playing and then the only thing he wants is to play second fiddle, literally, but Jack essentially says, "That FRENCH DEMOCRAT? No!" And Jack goes on at length about a Spanish incursion of 1789, and asks Stephen what he was doing in 1789, and Stephen hedges his answer because of course it's "Oh, I was in Paris running around with revolutionaries," and Jack realizes he has upset Stephen and is so contrite that he plays mediocre fiddle just to make Stephen feel better, and Stephen concedes that the only thing he and this French guy really have in common is a hatred of slavery.

Then Jack (a man with a black son who's more learned than he is) makes some idiotic comment about how maybe the blacks don't mind it so much - because NELSON approved of slavery and how could NELSON be wrong about anything - and Stephen ignores this entirely; then they are talking about a man they met who owns a plantation in the Caribbean, Bosville, and Stephen says, "'I think I feel more strongly about slavery than anything else, even that vile Buonaparte who is in any case one aspect of it...Bosville...the sanctimonious hypocrite...the silly blackguard with his 'gates of mercy', his soul to the Devil - a mercy that includes chains and whips and branding with a hot iron. Satisfaction. I should have given it him with the utmost good will: two ounces of lead or a span of sharp steel; though common ratsbane would have been more appropriate.' 'Why, Stephen, you are in quite a passion.' 'So I am. It is a retrospective passion, sure, but I feel it still. Thinking of that ill-looking flabby ornamented conceited self-complacent ignorant shallow mean-spirited cowardly young shite with absolute power over fifteen hundred blacks makes me fairly tremble even now - it moves me to grossness. I should have kicked him if ladies had not been present.'"

And then there's the scene where Jack is telling a story about a guy whose name he can't remember and says to Stephen, "You know who I mean, that adulterous cove," and Stephen says with a straight face, "I know no adulterers, Jack." And when they're becalmed and Jack is frustrated because the ship isn't moving, Stephen sits and birdwatches: "'I have rarely known such delightful weather in what we must, I suppose, call the torrid zone,' said Stephen, dining as usual in the cabin. 'Balmy zephyrs, a placid ocean, two certain Hahnemann's petrels, and perhaps a third.' 'It would be all very capital for a picnic with ladies on a lake, particularly if they shared your passion for singular birds.'" Between this and Jack's resistance to having three-ways (or quartets or anything else involving Martin's viola and Dutourd's violin), The Wine-Dark Sea just confirms the Love That Dare Not Speak Except On String Instruments. And sooner or later I shall post excerpts from the past six books, I promise.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Poem for Friday

Why It Often Rains in the Movies
By Lawrence Raab

Because so much consequential thinking
happens in the rain. A steady mist
to recall departures, a bitter downpour
for betrayal. As if the first thing
a man wants to do when he learns his wife
is sleeping with his best friend, and has been
for years, the very first thing
is not to make a drink, and drink it,
and make another, but to walk outside
into bad weather. It's true
that the way we look doesn't always
reveal our feelings. Which is a problem
for the movies. And why somebody has to smash
a mirror, for example, to show he's angry
and full of self-hate, whereas actual people
rarely do this. And rarely sit on benches
in the pouring rain to weep. Is he wondering
why he didn't see it long ago? Is he wondering
if in fact he did, and lied to himself?
And perhaps she also saw the many ways
he'd allowed himself to be deceived. In this city
it will rain all night. So the three of them
return to their houses, and the wife
and her lover go upstairs to bed
while the husband takes a small black pistol
from a drawer, turns it over in his hands,
then puts it back. Thus demonstrating
his inability to respond to passion
with passion. But we don't want him
to shoot his wife, or his friend, or himself.
And we've begun to suspect
that none of this is going to work out,
that we'll leave the theater feeling
vaguely cheated, just as the movie,
turning away from the husband's sorrow,
leaves him to be a man who must continue,
day after day, to walk outside into the rain,
outside and back again, since now there can be
nowhere in this world for him to rest.


Speaking of the movies, I have been told by much of my friends list that it is International Recommend-A-Movie Day. This means everyone should go to their LJ right now and tell their friends to watch a really good movie which most of them probably have not seen. And then tell more people to do it. Hopefully, we'll all have lots and lots of recommendations by the end of the day. My first reaction was that my must-see list isn't all that original or interesting, but then I remembered that compared to lots of people on my friends list I am an old lady. Have left off Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest because best picture Oscar winners should not need recommendations, but these two are inarguable must-sees anyway.

So, some must-sees that don't get talked about much anymore: Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen's masterpiece, a film I used to teach, plus it has Anjelica Huston, Alan Alda and Martin Landau giving fabulous performances); Days of Wine and Roses (Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon in a heavy-handed but still moving and relevant film about the dangers of drinking too much); House of Games (Joe Mantegna fucks with Lindsay Crouse's mind somewhat sweetly in this stylish neo-noir), Kiss of the Spider Woman (this film is not out on DVD, for which someone somewhere should be soundly thwapped; I saw it five times in five days when it opened and cried at each of them); The Miracle (Neil Jordan is going to be remembered for Mona Lisa and The Crying Game but this Irish dream is my favorite of his films); Opening Night (a wild, rambling John Cassavetes film starring Gena Rowlands about theater and reality, which starts with an actress' mid-life crisis precipitated when a hysterical fan races in front of a car to try to see her and is killed); Tempest (Paul Mazursky's version, also with Cassavetes and Rowlands as well as Susan Sarandon and a very young Molly Ringwald, with too many highlights to mention here but one of the finest is Raul Julia as Caliban singing "New York, New York" to his goats).

Every year on Rosh Hashanah I swear right before services that I am never going back to Washington Hebrew -- the crowds are enormous, not one of the four rabbis knows my name even though both my kids are in Hebrew school there and my mother teaches Hebrew school there, I feel like I'm at a fashion show rather than a religious service and the displays of affluence infuriate me. But the service itself is always very nice. We go to the family services in the afternoon, where my kids know lots of people and we know lots of people and where there's a story instead of a sermon. This year it featured a "Tashlich Bread Sale," making a joking reference to the ceremony where Jews symbolically toss their sins of the past year away in the form of bits of bread in a body of water. The moral of the story was about trying to take shortcuts to repentance, but the story featured my favorite of the rabbis playing an unscrupulous baker who baked bread to symbolize every possible sin, including white bread for ordinary sins, French bread for exotic sins, pumpernickel bagels for dark sins, milk toast for wimpy little sins, fudge for lying, nut bread for silly sins and pretzels for twisted sins. This was very amusing. They also for the first time had a woman blowing a shofar (one of three, there are always multiple shofar-blowers) which pleased me.

1. If you came upon a time machine, where would you go? Would you alter anything? Why?
Jerusalem at the time of Christ. I want to know what he actually said. And I don't think I'd dare alter anything, too much of human history has been influenced for better or worse.
2. If you managed to capture the Questing Beast, an odd combination of animal forms that is said to know the answers to all questions, what one question would you ask it? Would the answer change anything?
Whether the universe was created for a purpose or just randomly came into being through a vicissitude of physics, I suppose. Or maybe whether it's finite or infinite or renewing -- though I like the first one better. The answer wouldn't distress me either way, but being told that this is the one and only universe and when it ends, that's the end of space-time...that would depress me.
3. You've found yourself a rather obedient genie in a bottle. Make your three wishes. Why, out of everything you could ask for, do these three win out?
I learned several important genie rules from Edgar Allan Poe and The X-Files, namely don't wish for world peace, don't wish for money, and above all don't wish for love. Even with birthday candles I tend to wish for really trite generic things like remembering what's really important, living up to my potential and not losing faith.
4. Someone presents you with a working voodoo doll. Do you use it? On who, why, and to what purpose?
I'd like to say I'd use it on George Bush or Antonin Scalia or John Ashcroft, but I believe in karmic law too strongly. They'll get what's coming to them anyway, and I don't need to bring retribution down on my own head and those of the people I'd prefer to help.
5. Pick a superpower, any superpower. What and why? How would this change your life?
I've always said that the superpower I want is the ability to see the good in everyone.

Happy birhday, ! Am spending thrilling afternoon with spouse and bank papers, so must go work on articles. And, gacked from , must be cautious of said spouse because he's a psycho clown:

Your LJ Halloween Party by cerulean_dreams
What are you going to be for Halloween?
Dressed up as a Vampiregirlfromsouth
Came as a psycho Clownapaulled
Dressed up as a Nudistbithysith
Came as a Sexy Witchsbjudy
Painted themselves yellow and ran around screamingsahari
Dressed up as a Piratehannahdiana
Wore a Catwoman outfitaltair_dragon
Dressed up as Dr. Frankenfurtermegthelegend
Spiked the Punchrynne
Is coming after you with a real knifedeidrecorwyn
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Poem for Thursday

The Turning of the Year
By Kenneth L. Patton

The days of the year have stiffened in ice, and darkness has grown upon the land.

The season of cold and early dusk is upon us.

The sun has retreated down the sky, the living green has forsaken the earth, and the leaves have fallen.

The flowers no longer bloom, and the birds have fled to the south.

We approach the shortened days with peace, for the ancient fear is no longer on our faces.

The heavy death upon the earth is no lasting peril, and the roots in the soil are only sleeping a long sleep.

We hold the turning of the year as a promise; and the renewing of life is our solid hope. The time of returning light is known, and we ready our homes for the celebration. The sun will climb the heavens again, and the darkness will be pushed back each day.

The months of snow will give way to the months of leaves, and petals will fall upon the earth.

The young will be brought from the womb, and the shoot will burst from the seed.

We will walk upon the greening grass, and our plowshares will divide the warming soil.

In the midst of winter the promise is given of the summer season, and in the midst of darkness there comes the assurance of light.

In the time of cold comes a messenger of warmth, and in the days of death there is heard the good news of life.


Long but satisfying day. Picked up at work, went to see Lisa Moscatiello and Rosie Shipley on guitar and fiddle in the rain at the lunchtime concert series in the farmer's market, tiny crowd which meant we got to chat with them during the break, lovely music despite humidity-induced instrument vicissitudes. We ate California Tortilla for lunch there, too.

Have started the new year off right, writing porn and working a bit on angsty yet hopeful fic. Earlier, had enormous dinner with parents, husband's parents, kids and friends of parents (salad, gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzoh balls, chicken piccata, carrot souffle, a potato pancake with sour cream, barley with pine nuts, nubian chocolate roll and a little bit of lemon meringue pie, plus the traditional apples and honey and challah and wine. We are going out for our usual brunch at the pancake house before afternoon services, and we forgot to cancel younger son's violin lesson, so late in the day we must go there as well. May be long day but hopefully uplifting in the way that religious holidays involving a lot of good food can be.

Ridiculous conversation with my partner in crime:

: So there's a giant vat of jelly attacking Newmarket.
: ...!!!
: Yeah.
: Do you wish to elaborate or should I just wish you good luck?
: I figure what I'll do is fashion two really big pieces of bread, slather them with peanut butter, and trap the jelly in between.
: Okay, but what I meant was more...was this unleashed on Newmarket by angry, resentful Quebeçois, or Al Qaeda, or is it a result of acid rain from Bush administration policies or what?
: It was aliens. They don't like us very much.
: They don't like anyone very much except the Swiss.
: I've noticed that. They seem to think that we pose a threat to them because, see, there's a lake here named Fairy Lake and in their language "Fairy" means "Great Weapon".
: Oh, please, you know that fairies are a threat to FAMILY VALUES.
: But these aliens reproduce asexually!
: So did Dick and Lynne Cheney! What does that have to do with anything?
: *sporfle* I feel the need to urge you to post that.

And happy Mexican Independence Day.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Poem for Wednesday

In Memoriam Mae Noblitt
By A. R. Ammons

This is just a place:
we go around, distanced,
yearly in a star's

atmosphere, turning
daily into and out of
direct light and

slanting through the
quadrant seasons: deep
space begins at our

heels, nearly rousing
us loose: we look up
or out so high, sight's

silk almost draws us away:
this is just a place:
currents worry themselves

coiled and free in airs
and oceans: water picks
up mineral shadow and

plasm into billions of
designs, frames: trees,
grains, bacteria: but

is love a reality we
made here ourselves--
and grief--did we design

that--or do these,
like currents, whine
in and out among us merely

as we arrive and go:
this is just a place:
the reality we agree with,

that agrees with us,
outbounding this, arrives
to touch, joining with

us from far away:
our home which defines
us is elsewhere but not

so far away we have
forgotten it:
this is just a place.


There is nothing in the world worse than having a child who's in pain. I had the weird sensation yesterday that it was like postpartum depression, the only time in my life I have ever been truly, clinically depressed: intellectually you know it's going to end, there are biological reasons for it and it's just a matter of waiting out a relatively brief period, but the sensation is that it cannot ever end, that something has been profoundly changed and the possibility alone that it could continue indefinitely is enough to make you hate the universe. Anyway, my son's gums appear to be fine -- healing anyway -- and he woke up feeling well enough to go to school, with the biggest complaints being about the taste of the antibiotic rinse and leftover cotton-mouth feeling.

I don't like approaching Rosh Hashanah without some sort of rough plan for the next year. I'm not big on specific resolutions -- swearing I'm going to lose a given number of pounds by a given date has always seemed like an exercise in futility; if I do it, it's not because of a holiday resolution, and if I don't, it only shows that I don't take these things seriously anyway -- but I like to have a really general sense of what I want to look for or work at or scheme to improve. This year the list would be so similar to the last two years that it not only depresses me, it makes me think that deep down I know I don't really want these things or I'd have done them already. I think the changes I want to make are on such a macro level that they scare me, and it's easier to fret at the micro level, oh I should keep the house cleaner and do more freelancing and get more exercise, blah blah blah.

Gosh I'm cheery this morning. *g* Shall spam. The Onion made me howl in a really painful way with this: "Female Athletes Making Great Strides In Attractiveness". made me howl in a really good way with this link to Hugh Jackman giving Matt Damon a lapdance. And many people, most recently , linked me myself as a legendary Japanese monster.

What Legendary Japanese Monster Are You? by kumauru
User Name
You are...
Quiz created with MemeGen!

I sort of have a lunch date with my husband to go see Lisa Moscatiello and Rosie Shipley performing for free in Rockville (sorry locals about the lack of a heads-up, I didn't know about it until last night), but it's contingent on weather, his meeting getting out in time and things like that. My in-laws are coming this afternoon for the big Rosh Hashanah dinner with my parents before those who go to evening services head off for them and the rest of us go home to put our kids to bed. Tomorrow we are going out for our annual pre-services pancake breakfast and undoubtedly back to my parents for leftovers after services. Am curious if it counts as a sin to want to take my Palm to services with me in case I have any thoughts I want to write down, and whether ideas for fanfic are by definition not legitimate thoughts for the High Holy Days.

A sequel from yesterday: Poor Gollum; Sirius wants Aragorn.

wants to do it with

What's Your Ultimate Fandom OTP?
Shiver My Timber--A Pirate RPG

And in my family even the cats play LOTR chess. Look.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Poem for Tuesday

Whoever Brought Me Here Will Have To Take Me Home
By Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.

This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?

Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here, will have to take me home.

This poetry. I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.


No, I didn't finish the laundry. No, I haven't started the news bullets. Yes, I did manage to get my older son switched from the Tuesday to Thursday Hebrew school class so he can do chorus and chess club after school on Tuesdays. Yes, I did call the periodontist to find out how much my younger son's gum surgery will cost, then I did call my husband and shriek, and then we both called Aetna to shriek some more. Yes, I did vacuum over the vents that were spewing dust into the house. Yes, I got my mother's housekeeper to come clean the kids' bathroom with her heavy duty cleaning stuff and not only could she not get the toothpaste out of some of the places they've gotten it into, she lectured me on keeping it better cleaned. Nothing like being lectured by a housekeeper on what a slob I am. Should I dock her pay for having spent so much time on the phone, heh, or take that as my guilt-in-due for letting the bathroom get so bad that I'd rather pay someone else to clean it than do it myself or crack the whip over my children to get them to do it right?

Anyway, must take younger son for aforementioned gum surgery in half an hour, so am having chaotic day as usual. And Lupin and Snape are both talking to me endlessly and want me to work on T&C 11 -- why does it always work like that, that they talk when I can't write? Even Dumbledore is talking to me, and I hadn't known he knew I was alive. And look! Gollum loves Sirius -- I knew it!


What's Your Ultimate Fandom OTP?
Shiver My Timber--A Pirate RPG

A number of people on my flist are passing on voter registration information for US women; since I 1) suck and 2) am pressed for time, I am going to take the lazy way and link to 's post about the importance of the right to vote for women and 's Hobbits For Voter Registration, which has a link to MTV's Rock the Vote.