Monday, January 31, 2005

Poem for Monday

Oh! Where Do Fairies Hide Their Heads?
By Thomas Haynes Bayly

OH! where do fairies hide their heads
   When snow lies on the hills,
When frost has spoil’d their mossy beds,
   And crystalliz’d their rills?
Beneath the moon they cannot trip
   In circles o’er the plain;
And draughts of dew they cannot sip
   Till green leaves come again.

Perhaps, in small, blue diving-bells,
   They plunge beneath the waves,
Inhabiting the wreathed shells
   That lie in coral caves;
Perhaps, in red Vesuvius,
   Carousals they maintain;
And cheer their little spirits thus,
   Till green leaves come again.

When they return there will be mirth,
   And music in the air,
And fairy wings upon the earth,
   And mischief everywhere.
The maids, to keep the elves aloof,
   Will bar the doors in vain;
No key-hole will be fairy-proof,
   When green leaves come again.


Yesterday's snow continued until well past noon today, causing the cancellation of Hebrew school and our older son's planned meeting with the kids with whom he is working on his science project, so we stayed close to home for shoveling, snow forts and enjoying the scenery. Although it snowed for hours, the temperature hovered slightly above freezing, so there were icicles melting and refreezing in spectacular patterns along the upper branches of trees and on the deck furniture. Supposedly we got about two inches of snow, but it looked like more at first as it was the thick, fluffy kind, and then later looked like less as it was falling onto thin layers of ice that it cracked into puddles. Later we had dinner with my parents, who pulled one of their usual passive-agressive bullshit routines.

My mother is flying to my sister's a week from Wednesday, and apparently has decided to take an 11 a.m. plane. She needs a ride to the airport (which means walking her in and helping her with all the excess crap she always brings, including more presents than my sister's kids want or need -- we both have an ongoing thing with my mother about the fact that she gives our kids gifts every single time she sees them, to the point where my younger son -- who's as much a pack rat as his parents -- can barely walk through his room, and she sees him at least once a week). My father asked ME to do HIM a favor and drive her to the airport, because my mother will NEVER risk being the bad guy by saying that SHE needs something (and also my mother sometimes turns me down when I request help with my kids because she has manicure appointments, but if my sister asks her to go to New York for a week while SHE is in the Bahamas with her husband, my mother goes, because it's her big chance to see her granddaughters).

Now, Wednesday afternoons tend to be a hectic around here for a whole host of reasons, and Wednesday lunchtimes are pretty consistently my time with my friends -- the only chance I have to chill in the middle of the week because Thursday is an early morning and an absolutely insane carpool day; it's not like I'm my mother and get a manicure every Tuesday, etc. so it's not like I routinely would blow her off in the middle of the week. Taking her to the airport will pretty much take up all my time from the time the kids are off until I have to get home for the afternoon rush, and I'll have to break plans I already have with people. Plus I'll have to work in the evening without having had any down time during the day.

I told my father (since he's the one who asked) that I had plans, and he gave me the whole Jewish guilt "Oh, fine, I'll find someone else to do it" as if, of course, my schedule should be at their disposal because god knows whatever else I might be doing is worthless in their eyes, since I am neither an attorney nor a good housekeeper. Now, I am annoyed at my father, but I am much more angry at my mother, because this is a classic example of how she operates. She needs a ride to the airport. She let my father launch the discussion; she stayed TOTALLY SILENT when I said it's the one day that I had plans that week; she didn't say a word when my father started in with the guilt routine, though she'll often intercede to be the "good guy" on behalf of one of my kids even when my kid is totally in the wrong, thus making my father blow up at her; and I didn't even get a fucking thank you from her when I said fuck it, fine.

The kicker is that my husband is so used to them acting this way that he couldn't even figure out why I was so pissed off that I didn't say two words while we were at their house. He figured that if I was really, REALLY upset, I would have had the argument with my father and allowed him to yell and my mother to do her tearful poor me routine in front of my children, which is something I try to avoid except when it's a matter of really enormous importance, which apparently my schedule must not be even to me. Arrrrgh.

We came home and watched Pompeii: The Last Day on the Discovery Channel with the kids, who stayed up late since their school start is delayed two hours tomorrow (causing consternation for me as I have a 10:30 dentist appointment and am not sure how I can be there and at an elementary school at the same time). We had taken the kids to see the exhibit on the Stabiae excavation at the Smithsonian last summer, so they knew something about the eruption of Vesuvius, and while I sometimes get annoyed with historical reenactments in a history or science show, they were completely engrossed, so I guess in this case it was a good thing (though now they are a little worried about visiting Seattle when Mt. Rainier might be active, heh). Little of the information was new to me except the details on how the people in Herculaneum died, and I probably could have done just as well without knowing. I liked the computer visualizations of what it would look like if Vesuvius erupted now, and some of the details on the excavations, though I wish there had been more archaeology and less speculation on why they found the people as they found them -- the how and why of the speculation. Still, it made for a pretty good "story" though I couldn't help imagining the one we're undoubtedly going to get on the tsunami, very similar in structure.

Anyway, sorry about the rant and now I am very tired and have not looked at my friends list for two days...I have no real excuse today, as other than writing two articles I spent most of my time around the house, taking pictures of the kids in the snow, counting icicles and posting the fic I posted earlier because the next part is nudging me to write it and it's very different in tone and I just wanted this bit out there so I had some idea whether it would even float. Any time I have posted a multi-parter, the amount of feedback has dropped off dramatically from section to section, until I felt like only ten people were following it down the line, and from that standpoint as well as being sure HP:HBP is going to wipe out canon as I know and imagine it, I really don't want to start anything that goes on and on. I want a clear sense of why I am writing the chapters I'm writing and how I could curb them if necessary. Okay, enough babble, and hope everyone has had a great weekend without petty annoyances!

Trees in front of our house covered with snow and ice in the late afternoon sunshine.

This is what the branches looked like around 10 a.m. before the sun came out, while the snow was still falling in fine powder.

Before the sun, the snow stuck to the cedar shakes on the side of the roof in lovely cotton-ball puffs.

The snow clung more tenaciously to the evergreens than the deciduous branches when it started to melt.

My children built the Two Towers in the back yard. Sort of.

The cats were watching outside shoveling between the vans, but when they realized that I was about to take their picture of course they had to turn around and pose.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Poem for Sunday

A Haiku
By Basho
Translated by Robert Hass

     Winter solitude --
in a world of one color
     the sound of wind.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, on epigrams, haiku and other short-form poetry, "the particular pleasure in how a very few words can slow us down, a paradoxical joy in the slowing down of time achieved by swiftness." Here is the "candidly lovesick" Meleagros translated by Dudley Fitts:

O Fingernail of Heliodora,
Surely Love sharpened you, surely Love made you grow:
Does not your lightest touch transfix my heart?


It's been snowing in fits and starts since late this afternoon, and while there is almost no accumulation, the mere fact of it makes me sort of hibernate. Before it started, we went to Huntley Meadows to see the wetlands iced over, which was lovely -- several groups of geese flying in and landing on the ice, a lone and apparently confused tadpole-looking creature in one of the rare pools of water, and a heron flying across the horizon at the edge of the park. We did not see deer, but we did see their tracks. And the muskrat were either hibernating or, if muskrat do not hibernate, just hiding someplace warm.

Otherwise my simple pleasures were discussing Lemony Snicket with my younger son, who is reading the tenth book -- I think he read seven of the books this week -- and trying to explain to my older son why his father was watching the SNL cowbell sketch with Christopher Walken (link here) and howling hysterically. Also, on the way to Huntley Meadows which required a stop at the library to return books, I read the February 4th Entertainment Weekly -- the Oscar issue, in which they made some annoying predictions, but they also interviewed host Chris Rock, who made me smile by saying, "My new thing after seeing Alexander is that only Russell Crowe should be in period pieces. Even if the movie's about something that happened three weeks ago, they should hire Russell Crowe. He's just better than everybody."

GIP by , part of my recruitment into Highlander love (because who wouldn't want to do it with Lord Byron and Mary Shelley, really -- Methos is so my dream alter ego here). And this is a good segue into raves!

I suspect that really expected me to rant about people who can't tell the difference between Penn vs. Penn State rather than rave, but I have never been terribly upset about this...except that I don't know anything about the proud history of the Nittany Lions because I grew up around Michigan fans. Pennsylvania State University is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year -- next month in fact -- after being created by a charter from 1855 governor James Pollock, and it's a great public university. Penn, on the other hand, was founded by Benjamin Franklin and opened its doors in 1751, a private school with the intention not of focusing on clerical education but on public service. I believe Penn's is the oldest med school in the US and everyone who went there knows about ENIAC, the first electronic computer. The former is in Harrisburg, the latter in Philadelphia; the former has the Lions, the latter the Quakers which are not allowed to play in bowl games by definition because Ivy League schools don't participate in football playoffs (though Penn's basketball team often wins the Ivy title and gets to go to the NCAA tournament). So both these schools have a lot to be proud of, even if the Quakers have much better school songs! *g*

wanted me to rave about swans, which is not easy because I really know next to nothing about them -- unlike ducks and geese and herons and egrets, which I have on many occasions observed up close, I have mostly seen swans ornamentally and from a distance. But I associate them with two places that I adore: Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of William Shakespeare, and Stratford, Ontario, home of the Shakespeare festival where and I used to go every summer when we lived in the midwest and where, on our honeymoon, we went canoeing in the midst of the swans that float so gracefully on the water flowing past the theatre complex. So I associate swans with Shakespeare, travel and being very happy.

wanted me to rave about outdoor activities in the DC area, and wanted me to rave about Baltimore, and I feel like the best thing I could do for both of them is to refer them to my photo pages and tell them to look at places we've gone in the area. Huntley Meadows, where we went today, is one of my favorite outdoor spots around, a Fairfax County park in northern Virginia. Great Falls, from which I often post photos of the Potomac River seen from both sides, is just one of a great many national parks in the greater Washington area. In Baltimore I tend to favor the waterfront and the area around the zoo, both of which have historical buildings, maritime history and a number of good places for children, but Baltimore is full of wonderful historic districts and writers' houses and universities, plus the B&O Railroad Museum. Probably I should go collect links I've posted in the past!

A flock of geese flying in at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Virginia (you can see how it looked in June here).

The geese in the air met up with the gaggle already on the ice. We also saw a heron fly around the perimeter of trees at the far edge of the wetlands, but it landed too far away for me to attempt to photograph.

There was a great deal of evidence on the ice that there had been more waterfowl -- it was warmer earlier in the week, and the slushy snow had apparently refrozen when the temperatures dropped, with footprints from deer and things with paws as well -- probably dogs, though technically it is illegal to bring dogs out onto the boardwalks or in the wetlands.

Back in the woods, the snow looked as if it had never melted; I doubt enough sunlight got through.

Nonetheless there was a lot of evidence that the ice was not solid -- big bubbles visible beneath the surface and running water in places.

The patterns of the crystals were gorgeous.

1) and 2) : I hope that you both got booted and recovered quickly, and that it's not that you're pissed off me for what I had to say about 1) grad school and 2) Snape. I must go to bed now, and am bailing on AIM, and feel badly!

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Poem for Saturday

The Butterfly
By Pavel Friedman
Translated by Hana Volavkova

The last, the very last,
So richly, brightly, dazzlingly yellow.
Perhaps if the sun's tears would sing
        against a white stone. . . .

Such, such a yellow
Is carried lightly 'way up high.
It went away I'm sure because it wished to
         kiss the world good-bye.

For seven weeks I've lived in here,
Penned up inside this ghetto.
But I have found what I love here.
The dandelions call to me
And the white chestnut branches in the court.
Only I never saw another butterfly.

That butterfly was the last one.
Butterflies don't live in here,
        in the ghetto.


By request, the title poem of I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of poems and drawings by the children of Terezin Concentration Camp. 15,000 children passed through Terezin between 1942 and 1944. Less than 100 survived. This poet died in Auschwitz in 1944.

I've no idea where Friday went. Despite not getting any work done, I didn't leave the house till three, at which point I had to run around all over the place to pick up one son, get the other to a birthday party, take the first out to dinner before coming home to review Enterprise, and I wanted to be here an hour early so we could watch "Journey To Babel" before "Babel One" so the comparisons would be fresh. I must say that this week's original series derivation worked a thousand times better for me than last week's, and ten times better than the week before. This is in part because of Jeffrey Combs and Shran's awesome antennae, and in part because of the slashy-subtext moment of the season so far, in which Trip laments that there's nothing between himself and T'Pol in case Malcolm wants to make his move on her, and Malcolm insists that it's not that he's interested in T'Pol at all, honest! I wish I dared to write in a review that T'Pol should really be with Archer, who is so much better suited to her and vice versa in so many ways, and then maybe Tucker could make Reed the happiest boy in Starfleet.

Stupid thought: Archer/T'Pol reminds me of Harry/Hermione. Tucker/T'Pol reminds me of Ron/Hermione. In both cases I prefer Couple #1 to Couple #2. Now must figure out exactly who it is I identify both cases I think the women are smarter than the men, but less so in in Couples #1 to Couples #2, and I also find nothing personally sexy about the guys in Couples #2 even though I think they're both nice enough guys...just not interesting to me that way at all. And I do suppose it's stupid to be drawing analogies between HP and anything ST, anyway. But it leads into a nice segue for the first of the Friday memes:

: What five crossovers would you like to see?
I really do not like crossovers, almost never read them, and -- with the exception of one absolutely brilliant X-Files/The West Wing crossover fic where Bartlet has to figure out what to do about Mulder officially being dead -- really haven't saved any. But if I did:
1. X-Files/VR5. It seems so obvious that Mulder and Scully should have figured out what happened to Sydney and brought her back. Also, X-Files/La Femme Nikita, because it also seems obvious that Mulder and Scully should know what that particular world government conspiracy is up to.
2. The Prophecy/Harry Potter. Because I have a very fucked-up desire to see Viggo Mortensen's Lucifer getting it on with Jason Isaacs' Lucius Malfoy. Now stop laughing, it would be SO EFFING HOT.
3. Sharpe/Master and Commander. This is really a no-brainer, isn't it? Jack Aubrey has to transport Sharpe and the Chosen men somewhere. Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany and Sean Bean all get naked and go swimming. Oh, and there should probably be some kind of Napoleonic war plot, too.
4. Mission: Impossible/Space: 1999. And another no-brainer. Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter (Martin Landau and Barbara Bain) get fed up with being secret government agents, enroll in the space program and become John Koenig and Helena Russell (also Martin Landau and Barbara Bain). Bonus points if you can work Buffy's Drusilla (Juliet Landau) in as their daughter.
5. Voyager/Space: 1999. This is fan artist Yul Tolbert's fault. You know the episode where Chakotay keeps seeing the reflection of the moon to tell him that he's dreaming? He drew a cartoon where the Moonbase Alpha crew kept seeing Voyager to tell them that they were dreaming. It's a perfect concept, heh, and just silly enough that it does not hit my serious crossover squick.

: F'ing F'ing F'er
1. Do you use profanity?

Hell yes!
2. What are your favorite words of frustration?
Fuck, Shit, or, if the kids are right there, Giant Penis (this never fails to get a laugh).
3. Did your parents ever swear in front of you?
My mother, pretty much never. My father, regularly. My grandfather, in Yiddish.
4. Do you think that films should be rated based on the language they use?
I think racial epithets and misgynistic language should be rated more strongly than the F word, which every second grader has heard. The fact that a film can get an R rating because of repeated use of the F word when violence is rarely a factor in bumping up a PG-13 to an R seems quite ridiculous to me. I would never rate a movie NC-17 based on language, though; it should be up to parents rather than the MPAA what children can hear.
5. If you could curse out someone right now, who would it be?
Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, whose columns piss me off so often that I can't figure out why I ever read that paper's editorial page. Know your enemies, I guess.

: Donation
1. What blood group are you?

O+, the most common.
2. Do you give blood? Why/why not?
I have in the past. Last time I passed out for a good long while, and now am being chicken.
3. Are you listed as an organ donor? Again, why/why not?
I am.
4. Would you donate an organ or other part of your body (eg bone marrow) while still alive?
I've been tested to be a marrow donor and my sister actually gave marrow. I've never been called.
5. Would you consider leaving your body to medical science? Or maybe just parts of your body?
I don't want to be a medical student's cadaver. I'd be happy for my organs to be recycled.

I so, so knew this about , and in particular:

Jobs for your LJ Friends by brianwarnersgrl
are you sure you want to know?
ok this person is a hooker:thingsunseen
this person is a wrestler:seelechen
this person is in a famous band:ghazalah
this person is the singer of that band:vaverine
this person will be the future president in 2026:annmarwalk
this person is a babymaker:dellastarr
this person is a drug dealer:eemilyvr1
this person is a stripper:aesc
and of course we all knew they would be a nunpitchblackrose
Quiz created with MemeGen!

They're saying right now on the news that Sammy Sosa is going to be on the Orioles next year if he passes his physical! Whoo! I've been a Sosa fan since we lived in Chicago before our older son was born, having seen him on both the White Sox and Cubs.

I owe raves on swans, Baltimore, Penn vs. Penn State and outdoor activities in the DC area but those must wait till tomorrow as I am about to drop and have to rewrite an article tomorrow that I lost tonight when my computer insisted on rebooting without the familiar "Do you want to save your work first?" box.

Comments on this entry are in the locked entry before as there is discussion of stuff there I no longer wish to remain public.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Poem for Friday

By Primo Levi
Translated by Ruth Feldman And Brian Swann

You who live secure
In your warm houses
Who return at evening to find
Hot food and friendly faces:

Consider whether this is a man,
Who labours in the mud
Who knows no peace
Who fights for a crust of bread
Who dies at a yes or a no.
Consider whether this is a woman,
Without hair or name
With no more strength to remember
Eyes empty and womb cold
As a frog in winter.

Consider that this has been:
I commend these words to you.
Engrave them on your hearts
When you are in your house, when you walk on your way,
When you go to bed, when you rise.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your house crumble,
Disease render you powerless,
Your offspring avert their faces from you.


posted this poem. I was going to post one from I Never Saw Another Butterfly that was more directly about the ghetto and the camp but this one hit me so hard that I needed it today. I couldn't watch the news -- not because of the Holocaust coverage, but because of the Iraq coverage and, more to the point, the non-coverage of Sudan and places where saying "never again" on Yom Ha'Shoah always makes me feel like an enormous hypocrite. And I don't even want to get started thinking about Israel and Palestine tonight or I'll get too stressed out to sleep. I saw several people posting photos of memorials or flowers, but this is the image that sticks with me...actually this is the current, cleaned-up sanitized image. The actual images are not something I would post without a warning and cut, even though I think they absolutely have to be seen, because I have no words.

Am not ranting, as there is already more than enough of that around here. But I will rave. Surely you know the rules by now from other people's journals: Comment with any subject that you would like me to rave about (I reserve the right to reject certain topics out-of-hand, like what a great job Dubya is doing or why Kathryn Janeway is the greatest female Trek character ever). I don't swear to rave long, but I do swear to rave loud. *g*

Today was pretty quiet, other than lunch with my Mistress who has promised me more lunch and Harry/Draco recs next week if I behave, some necessary shopping in the mall where we met, the usual Thursday carpool insanity and sitting on younger son's head to get the spelling homework done this evening, after which I needed an hour of Dawson's Creek to decompress. Was depressed writing articles about UPN's future for TrekToday -- hadn't realized that Veronica Mars was being considered for cancellation, I thought they'd been talking about bumping it up to CBS because it was so good! Then tonight relatives called (, will you forgive me? The phone was not free until nearly midnight!) Also, you know what a whiny bitch I was two days ago? I should have realized that it was PMS. I can't keep my own schedule straight these days. Ah well, from :

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Poem for Thursday

Sonnet 6
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Edward Snow

Is he native to this realm? No,
his wide nature grew out of both worlds.
They more adeptly bend the willow's branches
who have experience of the willow's roots.

When you go to bed, don't leave bread or milk
on the table: it attracts the dead--
But may he, this quiet conjurer, may he
beneath the mildness of the eyelid

mix their bright traces into every seen thing;
and may the magic of earthsmoke and rue
be as real for him as the clearest connection.

Nothing can mar for him the authentic image;
whether he wanders through houses or graves,
let him praise signet ring, gold necklace, jar.


Tuesday I had a cranky day, but Wednesday I got a reminder of why fandom is so wonderful. I spent several lovely hours with and (both of whom I met because of slash, one here on LiveJournal and one in a parking lot at Best Buy discussing Highlander) watching Jason Isaacs and Lord Byron in that self-same TV show, as well as bloopers and the scene where Duncan comes home and finds Methos in his bed. *g* I have never actually watched a full episode of Highlander before today, though I had seen the movies...and I admit that during "The Lady and the Tiger" I was rather distracted by Jason being a bad boy, mmmm, not to mention Elizabeth Gracen, though the guys playing Byron and Shelley could not hold a candle to Duncan or Methos and I see why everyone says to start watching when Methos shows up. Now, I realize that I am the last slash fan in the world to stumble into this fandom, but I need someone to explain: does an immortal pick up memories as well as whatever sort of life force comes into him or her during a Quickening? In other words, if a certain poet had memories of shagging Methos, did Duncan get them? *g*

So I was all set to root wholeheartedly for the Patriots in the Superbowl. Then, today, my younger son came home from school all excited because a Philadelphia Eagles player who was going to play in the Superbowl had visited his class! Why? Because the player had attended the school, had had my son's teacher, and had gone on to the local high school -- my high school -- before playing at Michigan and then for the New York Giants until he joined the Eagles. How did I not know that Dhani Jones was from this area, let alone that he went to my high school? How can I not root for him?

Tonight's Smallville was painfully awful, despite how hard Tom Welling was obviously trying, which made me sad for him. Which is not to say that it did not have its amusing moments, but at some point I asked my husband whether it was the "don't have sex in high school" episode and at the end we got a public service announcement from Allison Mack assuring us that, yep, it was! Did they get abstinence education money for this or what? Don't get me wrong, I was ecstatic that Lana didn't do it with her gay boyfriend and relieved that Clark didn't consummate his "marriage" (incidentally, didn't we find out that Chloe was still a virgin in the witch episode where Lana needed the hair of virgins, or am I misremembering?) The highlight by far was the Lex and Lionel show, as always. I am dying to know what's up with Lionel but at the same time I don't want to know...the longer this goes on as a mystery the better!

The West Wing however was quite enjoyable, again not a subtle or sophisticated episode but man I love seeing the primaries and caucuses pilloried like that! I'm annoyed that the writers had Santos cave when he argued so passionately against ethanol, though it's sort of hard to tell at this point how much that was his wife's issue rather than his own; we haven't really seen enough of him to know what his sticking points are and what issues he considers expendable so I'm not ready to see him compromise. Vinick came off wonderfully by contrast to all the Democrats, including the invisible Bartlet and missing Hoynes. I really like Santos' wife, though, and how much he seems to listen to her, and of course I adore watching her and Josh fight over Santos (he called him Matt!)

Both Smallville and The West Wing had extended sequences set to songs I like, and in the latter case the producers had BETTER provide the payoff on the Josh/Donna teasing or I am just going to scream. (Yes, I know I was just shipping Josh and Matt and now I am shipping Josh and Donna, but even though I'm not sure J/D is a good idea or even that I like them together, I firmly believe that it is not fair of producers to hint and hint and hint that they are going to do something and then jerk the audience around. I'd rather not watch than witness another case of the JanewayChakotayMulderScullyNikitaMichaelChickenshitTease.

Okay, so this is pretty much all fangirlish babbling and does not even discuss my younger son's incisive analysis of the eighth Lemony Snicket book nor my older son's explication of Tennyson for reading class. Incidentally, I locked yesterday's post because it has a photo of my kids where they look a lot more recognizable on my laptop than I thought they did on my desktop screen. Sorry about that.

Further proof that Jack was on the deck.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Poem for Wednesday

At the Fishhouses
By Elizabeth Bishop

Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
The air smells so strong of codfish
it makes one's nose run and one's eyes water.
The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
to storerooms in the gables
for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
among the wild jagged rocks,
is of an apparent translucence
like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
growing on their shoreward walls.
The big fish tubs are completely lined
with layers of beautiful herring scales
and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
the blade of which is almost worn away.

Down at the water's edge, at the place
where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
descending into the water, thin silver
tree trunks are laid horizontally
across the gray stones, down and down
at intervals of four or five feet.

Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
element bearable to no mortal,
to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
I have seen here evening after evening.
He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
like me a believer in total immersion,
so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
I also sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
He stood up in the water and regarded me
steadily, moving his head a little.
Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
as if it were against his better judgment.
Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
the dignified tall firs begin.
Bluish, associating with their shadows,
a million Christmas trees stand
waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended
above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
icily free above the stones,
above the stones and then the world.
If you should dip your hand in,
your wrist would ache immediately,
your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
as if the water were a transmutation of fire
that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn from the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.


This is a reposted public version of a post I made private because of family photos and such that I didn't want to leave unlocked, in case anyone wanted the poetry and advertising snark but couldn't see it.

So you know how I was snarking about Viagra and Cialis ads the other day? Now, from The Onion, "U.S. Children Still Traumatized One Year After Seeing Partially Exposed Breast On TV". This made my day, along with rumors that Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes will be in the Enterprise series season finale...and how much does it suck that my first reaction was, "Shit! This probably means no Shatner!"?

Something had to make my day because the Marriage Protection Act = oh F U a$$holes and no Best Picture nomination for Eternal Sunshine = Hollywood sucks though I should not care because no matter what else happens, there is no way Gwyneth Paltrow, Nicole Kidman or the increasingly less-odious-by-comparison Renee Zellwegger can win an Oscar this year. Michael Moore, I hear you made your own bed, sorry about that, though I did squee about the Razzie nomination for George Bush and Condi Rice as Worst Couple in your film. I still want to trade The West Wing for the actual government -- I promise to watch the weekly Bush sitcom, it can have the highest Nielsen ratings ever!

It's been a Shitty Fannish Day. I could blame January, except I want to know why I felt that way the 25th instead of the 24th. (Probably because I had kids home and went to the movies on the 24th, and mostly stayed off the computer.) Wednesday, barring snow or other disasters (and I am knocking wood as we have managed to have to postpone repeatedly), I am going to see and get Highlanderized! So expect me to babble, or to come home and have to write HP because Snape will have been talking quietly in my head all day long like he did during Phantom of the Opera the other day except when Lupin took over and tried to convince me there should be Remus/Sirius songfic to "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again," which made me blush so hard that I was really glad it was dark in the theater. Below, the soulmate quiz -- does this mean the real me or the person I should be with, which is how I tend to think of "soulmate"?! Of course, none of the people I really wanted to date were on here...I was hoping for Remus 98%, Snape 95%, Sirius 92% and Lucius 90%.

You scored as Hermione Granger. Yup, you are an insufferable know it all! However, you do manage to get people out of tight places every time. ps. watch out for mysterious purple hexes!

Hermione Granger


Ginny Weasley


Harry Potter


Neville Longbottom


Luna Lovegood


Fred/George Weasley


Ron Weasley


Draco Malfoy


Who is your Harry Potter Soulmate?
created with

I really enjoyed Veronica Mars again, though I am with : the lead boys look too much alike! It's very confusing until you start paying attention to their clothes! There were some lovely story elements and I was very creeped out by the nightmarish stuff, though I am still astonished at the "oh, date rape doesn't really affect anything" mentality that seems to be going on. I suspect this show is going to be laundry-folding and pleasant diversion rather than serious fandom for me, which is fine -- I haven't really had one of those since the end of Dawson's Creek, unless Smallville counts since I've only ever been very marginally involved in that fandom. There's a new episode this week, right? Forgive me, but I am more eager to see Josh and Matt again. *g*

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Poem for Tuesday

Being Jewish in a Small Town
By Lyn Lifshin

Someone writes kike on
the blackboard and the
"k's" pull thru the
chalk   stick in my

plump pale thighs
even after the high
school burns down the
word is written in

the ashes   my under
pants elastic snaps
on Main St because
I can't go to

Pilgrim Fellowship
I'm the one Jewish girl
in town but the 4
Cohen brothers

want blond hair
blowing from their
car   they don't know
my black braids

smell of almond
I wear my clothes
loose so no one
dreams who I am

will never know
Hebrew   keep a
Christmas tree in
my drawer   in

the dark   my fingers
could be the menorah
that pulls you toward
honey in the snow


Rushed post after rushed zip through my friends list. Tonight all my comments on fic and art were along the lines of *love* and *yay*! Please don't be upset; the choice was either comment while I was thinking about it or save the fic and try to remember to go back and comment later, and I figure most people would rather have the "Yay, read it!" than risk nothing at all. And I did save the longer fics, anyway.

It snowed more! I took my kids to the movies and didn't worry about parking on the upper, uncovered level, because I hadn't heard and reports of additional precipitation headed our way, and I came out and my van was covered! The roads, fortunately, were clear though wet, but the windshield wiper fluid had frozen and all the salt spray made the front window cloud up badly and I couldn't squirt to clean it and had a few scary moments on the highway when I could barely see. This is why I stay close to home when there is weather! We did see Phantom again, and both my kids seemed to enjoy it more this time, though they sometimes get restless on repeat viewings; in this case, though they had known the music for years, I think it really helped them to have a visual sense of the story. We had a long conversation when we came out about how come they felt sorry for the Phantom even though he was sort of the bad guy, and it was interesting how many details they had picked up on (including Christine's specifically erotic attraction to him -- I thought they tried to block things like that out *g*).

This evening I wrote a bunch of drabbles, trying to clear my brain from the two inconsistent directions that the "Compellation/Affirmation" sequel wants to go -- it can do one or the other but not both. "Whelping", for the beginnings challenge at ; "Locks", for the scars challenge at ; and "Untainted", for the "funniest thing that ever happened to me, by Snape" challenge at .

Tonight we watched the History Channel's Digging for the Truth on pyramids, but my in-laws called in the middle so we missed a great deal of it. Then we left the channel on and watched the special on Nefertiti, which was very interesting. I had intended to pop in a movie (I was in an Alan Rickman mood, surprise surprise) and fold laundry, but I didn't, so I guess the laundry will get folded to Veronica Mars. I am very proud of my scathing Enterprise review this week because it garnered six pieces of hate mail, the most I have gotten all season; I had feared that absolutely nobody was watching the show any more, if they were not bothering to write and tell me what an idiot I was for whatever I said about it! Obviously I just needed to be really scathing. But honestly, how many times can the producers do a straight riff on a classic Trek episode rather than a new spin on it?

Some squirrels to go with the gerbils from the other day. Again, for the uninitiated, these are Jack and Stephen, so named after Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin from Master and Commander etc. Speaking of whom, people in Europe who have Nikolai Tolstoy's biography of Patrick O'Brian: is it good? Is it worth my ordering from and paying overseas shipping, since it isn't out here yet? I read his Merlin novel a long, long time ago but don't remember it very well, and have never read anything biographical by him. Thanks!

While he's doing important reconaissance looking for birdseed, Jack catches Stephen snoozing in the sun.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Poem for Monday

Nothing Stays Put
By Amy Clampitt

In memory of Father Flye, 1884-1985

The strange and wonderful are too much with us.
The protea of the antipodes -- a great,
globed, blazing honeybee of a bloom --
for sale in the supermarket! We are in
our decadence, we are not entitled.
What have we done to deserve
all the produce of the tropics --
this fiery trove, the largesse of it
heaped up like cannonballs, these pineapples, bossed
and crested, standing like troops at attention,
these tiers, these balconies of green, festoons
grown sumptuous with stoop labor?

The exotic is everywhere, it comes to us
before there is a yen or a need for it. The green-
grocers, uptown and down, are from South Korea.
Orchids, opulence by the pailful, just slightly
fatigued by the plane trip from Hawaii, are
disposed on the sidewalks; alstroemerias, freesias
fattened a bit in translation from overseas; gladioli
likewise estranged from their piercing ancestral crimson;
as well as, less altered from the original blue cornflower
of the roadsides and railway embankments of Europe, these
bachelor's buttons. But it isn't the railway embankments
their featherweight wheels of cobalt remind me of, it's

a row of them among prim colonnades of cosmos,
snapdragon, nasturtium, bloodsilk red poppies,
in my grandmother's garden: a prairie childhood,
the grassland shorn, overlaid with a grid,
unsealed, furrowed, harrowed and sown with immigrant grasses,
their massive corduroy, their wavering feltings embroidered
here and there by the scarlet shoulder patch of cannas
on a courthouse lawn, by a love knot, a cross stitch
of living matter, sown and tended by women,
nurturers everywhere of the strange and wonderful,
beneath whose hands what had been alien begins,
as it alters, to grow as though it were indigenous.

But at this remove what I think of as
strange and wonderful, strolling the side streets of Manhattan
on an April afternoon, seeing hybrid pear trees in blossom,
a tossing, vertiginous colonnade of foam, up above --
is the white petalfall, the warm snowdrift
of the indigenous wild plum of my childhood.
Nothing stays put. The world is a wheel.
All that we know, that we're
made of, is motion.


We did not get more snow but it's COLD and tomorrow morning it's supposed to stay SINGLE DIGIT COLD and I have slippers and two pairs of socks on and my feet are COLD and while I do not consider myself a warm climate person, this is TOO COLD! That said, we had a nice day in the snow, walking and sledding and then going to my parents' for chicken soup with matzoh balls, chicken and noodles for dinner because what could be better in COLD like this?

My father is much better, though still somewhat uncomfortable, and we watched the end of the Philly-Atlanta and the first half of the New England-Pittsburgh game with him. I am quite satisfied with the Superbowl match-up, given that my in-laws are New England fans and I went to college in Philadelphia and rather like the Eagles, but none of these are "my" teams so I was not as passionate as I would have been had the Redskins or Ravens or even the Bears been good this year.

I am curious: if suggestive dancing is deemed inappropriate by the FCC for "family entertainment" like professional football, how come ads for Cialis and discussions of erectile dysfunction and "lovemaking at a time that's right for you" on commercials are not? My children hardly noticed Janet Jackson's pastie-covered nipple during the Superbowl, but they have both asked questions about erections that last longer than four hours. I am not suggesting censoring anything, and I am perfectly willing to take responsibility for their educations and to explain this, but sheesh -- if we're going to have these ads, can't the FCC shut the hell up about what else we shouldn't be allowed to see on TV?

The hill behind the local middle school (my junior high school) is the perfect place to sled. It's about a quarter mile walk, just enough to get warmed up by the time you get there and sled down and get snow all over every part of your body.

There were surprisingly high winds for a day with such a clear sky, after yesterday's snow. Here you can see the snow blowing off the roof and over the hill from the soccer field that's off to the right.

Here's a windless, unobscured view of part of the hill, the snow-covered tennis courts, the soccer field and the roofs of houses across the street from the school. Some of those trees visible against the sky are the ones whose red leaves I posted in the fall.

Here are my kids, fully bundled, returning from successful expeditions down the hill. We only had tears twice -- once from a boy hitting his elbow on the side of the school, and once from a boy overturning and getting snow into every crevice of his face and neck.

The neighborhood as the snow fell. It was powdery at first, so we did not get spectacular laden tree branches. This does not bother me, however, as those spectacular branches sometimes ice over, break and wreck power lines.

I am perfectly content to look at the crystals, though the urge to start making snowballs is really quite overwhelming when there are kids around.

Here's another view of the wind chimes on the deck with snow falling and making streaks, to go with the one from the other day, only with harder snowfall this time.

And while you're back here, a Harry Potter quiz with entirely predictable results for me:

You scored as Ravenclaw. You have been sorted into Ravenclaw- you value intelligence, and love the chance to use your cleverness (and maybe even show it off- just a little). You're keen and incisive, and you just love a challenging problem to solve.









The Hogwarts Sorting Hat!
created with

wrote me a Josh/Matt drabble! Not all that 'shippy, as she said, but any Lyman/Santos winking at this stage must be considered a good thing -- they're still in the foreplay stages of the relationship. Oh I look forward to The West Wing these days, for completely different reasons than most of my friends who are still TWW fans, but hey, we take joy where we find it, right? I am saddened about Johnny Carson, though even in college we tended to skip over him and wait for Letterman to come on, back when they shared a network. He had a wonderful run.

By my older son's request, since there is no school, I am taking my kids again to see The Phantom of the Opera. If the temperature were slightly higher, I would consider going to protest against the March To Deprive Women of the Right To Make Their Own Reproductive Decisions -- I can't believe I overlooked both the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the anniversary of Roe v. Wade until I finally got around to reading the Sunday paper (I always turn first to Book World, then *blush* Parade, and I only get to the main section and op-ed later on). I probably read more of The New York Times online than I read of The Washington Post on my kitchen table in the morning.

There is a spectacular bright full moon outside. Looks amazing on the snow. Is that Jupiter or Saturn at five o'clock?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Poem for Sunday

From Leaves of Grass, "Song of Myself" Section 52
By Walt Whitman

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains of my
        gab and my loitering.

I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

The last scud of day holds back for me,
It flings my likeness after the rest and true as any on the shadow'd
It coaxes me to the vapor and the dusk.

I depart as air, I shake my white locks at the runaway sun,
I effuse my flesh in eddies, and drift it in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged,
Missing me one place search another,
I stop somewhere waiting for you.


From Poet's Choice, now by Robert Pinsky in the Sunday Washington Post Book World. Pinsky's first column is about "our national poets, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson," and how they wrote about poetry. "Whitman accepts the notion that poetry may be silly, a matter of gab and loitering rather than purpose," notes Pinsky, though Whitman also claims that poetry is of national and global importance, reaching into the future in ways the poet may not even imagine. In the fragment above, "He is accused by the hawk, and he is the hawk. He is under your bootsoles, and he is over the roofs of the world. You in the future may not know who he is or what he means, but he will be in your very bloodstream." Dickinson, on the other hand, sees the poet as smaller but a scope just as grand:

The Poets Light but Lamps
By Emily Dickinson

The Poets light but Lamps --
Themselves -- go out --
The Wicks they stimulate --
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns --
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference --


And all right, I miss Edward Hirsch's three-year tenure in the Poet's Choice column already, but no one who starts with a barbaric yawp can be too bad.

Spent the entire day snowed in, so you'd think I would have had time to catch up on all kinds of things, but when one is snowed in with children, somehow the day becomes very involved in keeping them busy. My younger son's Hebrew school was cancelled as was a birthday party he was supposed to attend, originally moved from 3:30 to 1:30, then called off altogether when the hands-on science people couldn't get to the party so the kids could make slime. We expect that our older son will not have Hebrew school tomorrow, and the county already planned no classes on Monday because of teacher's meetings, so hopefully I will not have three straight days of not being able to go anywhere with the kids! We got perhaps five inches of snow today, but more is expected to fall overnight, and our little neighborhood has not yet been plowed.

Thanks so much everyone who sent regards for my father -- he spent the day resting at home (I suppose the weather was perfect for lying around recuperating, no temptation to go anywhere or do anything), and it sounds like he is feeling much better. Had the weather been slightly better we might have gone over to watch a movie with my parents but the snow fell steadily all day, so we stuck close to home, and the kids surprised both of us by wanting to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban -- like I was going to turn that down! Also to my surprise, my younger son wanted to get under my afghan with me -- this is cuddlier than he has been since starting second grade, I think. So after the obligatory attempts at shoveling and brushing off the vans, which were covered again half an hour after being cleaned off, we sat around eating popcorn, watching the movie and playing all the games on the second DVD. (Speaking of POA: Have I no friend will rid me of these pesky Britpicks? Please? See previous entry!)

I did take snow photos, and shall post some tomorrow, but you can get an idea from and among others what the Maryland-DC-Virginia region was like during the storm. The greatest excitement in our house all day was that both gerbils decided to come out at the same time, and they were quite friendly and groomed each other, and much butt-sniffing ensued. So, for old time's sake, I bring you...

A Tale of Aragorn and Boromir!
For the uninitiated, Aragorn and Boromir are my sons' gerbils. For many months they shared a single cage and starred in their own gerbil soap opera, snuggling adorably when they were not off on adventures with Legolas and Gimli. Then Boromir came under the influence of the Ring and the Dark Cat, Cinnamon, and after a vicious biting incident was moved into his own cage.

These days Aragorn (the lighter gerbil) spends most of his time being a Ranger on his wheel while Boromir (the darker gerbil) attempts to rebuild Osgiliath out of toilet paper rolls and paper towels. They spent an active morning gnawing their halves of a cut-up paper towel roll to increase their massive mound-nests -- very necessary to keep warm even in the kitchen where they live.

This, for instance, is Boromir's hidey-hole, consisting of chewed-up cardboard, torn-up paper towels and commercial cage fluff. When Boromir is asleep, we can only see the tip of his nose sticking out the top of the volcano cone, and when he decides to emerge, the nest erupts all over the cage and onto the kitchen floor.

By evening, however, Aragorn and Boromir were bored, and when I opened Aragorn's cage to give him food, he climbed over my hand and up the side of the cage. This is a very dangerous activity as Cinnamon is always watching when a cage is open, ever vigilant for the opportunity to attack and eat the rightful King of Gondor. Boromir quickly insisted upon following, and the two of them spent many happy minutes running around on top of their cages looking for a way to dive into the cups full of pennies behind them (currently empty as the pennies have been donated to tsunami relief).

Aragorn can never resist an opportunity to sniff Boromir's butt. Sometimes Boromir plays hard-to-get and pretends that he does not like this, but tonight was not one of those nights.

Truth be told, Boromir is rather fond of sniffing Aragorn's butt as well, but he's usually too quick for the camera to catch a Captain of Gondor engaged in such an activity in public.

But Aragorn and Boromir's mutual favorite activity seems to be for Aragorn to groom Boromir's face. Sometimes they attempt to do this between the bars of their cages, standing on the upper levels. Unfortunately if it goes on for too long, Boromir inevitably decides he's had enough and tries to bite Aragorn, so he must be returned to his cage before the evil influence of the Ring and Cinnamon can be felt.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Poem for Saturday

Sequestered Writing
By Carolyn Forché

Horses were turned loose in the child's sorrow. Black and roan, cantering through snow.
The way light fills the hand with light, November with graves, infancy with white.
White. Given lilacs, lilacs disappear. Then low voices rising in walls.
The way they withdrew from the child's body and spoke as if it were not there.

What ghost comes to the bedside whispering You?
-- With its no one without its I --
A dwarf ghost? A closet of empty clothes?
Ours was a ghost who stole household goods. Nothing anyone would miss.
Supper plates. Apples. Barbed wire behind the house.

At the end of the hall, it sleepwalks into a mirror wearing mother's robe.
A bedsheet lifts from the bed and hovers. Face with no face. Come here.
The bookcase knows, and also the darkness of books. Long passages into,
Endless histories toward, sleeping pages about. Why else toss gloves into a grave?

A language that once sent ravens through firs. The open world from which it came.
Words holding the scent of an asylum fifty years. It is fifty years, then.
The child hears from within: Come here and know, below
And unbeknownst to us, what these fields had been.


My father had surgery for his kidney stone this morning -- more complicated than they originally anticipated, they needed to use general anesthesia, and he'll have to have a stent and more tests and other very not-fun things. But at least now they know exactly where the problem is and how to fix it. In typical style, my parents did not tell me that they knew yesterday that he would have surgery this morning, but only called right as it was about to happen (I found out that my father had melanoma from a friend of his who called to see how he was doing, and that my mother had breast cancer on the morning she went in to have it operated on -- I was pregnant at the time so I was hardly a child). I can't figure out if they feel like it isn't real or scary if they don't tell their kids, or if they are trying to protect us, or what. Anyway, he's home now and resting, and it's a good weekend for that considering we have up to eight inches of snow forecast; we shall see how many actually arrive.

It was a less pissy day than Thursday all around, though -- the news didn't say one word about Dubya, having big thrilling salt trucks to cover, and UPS finally brought my replacement battery charger, so I can use my new camera to take pics in the snow we should in theory receive in abundance soon. and I had talked about going to see In Good Company, but given the chaos in both our lives, we decided to hang out locally instead (we both had coupons for free California Tortilla which made it easy to decide where to have lunch anyway). Just in case I had not had a sufficient Paul Bettany fix yesterday -- and can anyone ever have sufficient Paul Bettany, anyway -- we watched Wimbledon, which she had not seen before, and I either regaled or totally annoyed her with tidbits learned from the commentary track (since she had a cat asleep in her lap while I was playing that for her, she was pretty stuck on my sofa regardless). Tonight, since my parents were out of commission for Shabbat dinner, we took the kids out to stock up on emergency supplies for the snowstorm, along with every single other person in the greater Washington area; the food store parking lot looked like a tailgate party at the Redskins stadium, and people were being vicious trying to get those last boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios.

I was totally unaware until today that living in a pineapple under the sea was code for being gay. I must encourage my kids to watch more Sponge Bob. Meanwhile, since we all watch Enterprise together, here is my quite scathing review of "Observer Effect". Because while last week the flagrant ripping-off of past TOS and TNG episodes was somewhat charming, this week it went much too far and wasn't even enjoyable. I will get more hate mail than I can answer in a week if I say this at the Trek Nation, so I am saying it here: I think Manny Coto is damned mediocre, and Enterprise was better last season than it is this season. Not only are the storylines mushy rehash of much better episodes of the earlier shows, but the show has gotten considerably more stupid in its portrayal of women. Even while I was falling asleep during BSG I couldn't level that complaint.

Having gone irrevocably over 500 people on my friends list, I refriended some communities I was reading via links just to stay under. As before when I went over 500, LJ is randomly reporting that some people are "also friend of" rather than "mutual friends" even though I have not removed anyone from the list and I am still showing up on those people's "friend of" lists. Please don't be distressed if this has happened to you, as I assure you I have no control over it whatsoever and would fix it if I could. Now here are the Friday memes in lieu of photos:

: Name five fannish topics you would like to have a discussion on, but never have.
The whole character/actor blur -- what do other people make of the continuum in which we know perfectly well that Kate Mulgrew isn't Kathryn Janeway but we sometimes believe with great confidence that she is that person "Kate Mulgrew" whom she plays so charmingly at Star Trek conventions, even though we must know from watching her on talk shows and reading her interviews that that's as much a character she puts on as anything she's done onscreen or onstage? (I picked Kate as the most screamingly obvious example from my own fannish experience, but I could easily have said "Viggo Mortensen.")
2. Like many other fans of my age, I wrote fan fiction before I had any intention of showing it to anyone, ever. Now, however, I am quite disappointed if I write something and it seems like no one has read it. Did the internet change how we think of the function and purpose of writing fan fiction? Would this have happened anyway? How acute is it for others?
3. Why do some people seem to believe that the only positive criticism is to be compared favorably to someone else?
4. Why do people get off on wank? What is the appeal of ridiculing other fans on a broad level? I think we all understand that sometimes there's a post so stupid we want to show our best friends, or a proposal so outrageous that we have to rant in private, but why make it something for dozens of people to jump and flame all over?
5. Do all the remakes of popular entertainment from my childhood -- Starsky and Hutch, Battlestar Galactica -- ever seem to anyone else like a form of commercial fan fiction? Is it hard for anyone else to take a remake seriously as "canon" no matter how good it is?

1. Which is worse, the Burning Question ~OR~ the Painful Truth?
The painful truth. The burning question is exciting and passionate and something to pursue ardently, even when it's driving you nuts. The painful truth is something that sometimes benefits no one -- not the person revealing it, not the person being told it -- it gets used for power when it could be gently broached as something constructive.
2. "Live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse" ~OR~ "Live long and prosper"? Oh be serious! Which do you think I'm going to answer?
3. Let bygones be bygones ~OR~ Bitch, I'll cut you!? Let bygones be bygones, but sometimes it takes awhile of not even hearing the person's name -- not out of fear of breaking into violence, but because it still hurts, unexpectedly, way too much.
4. Private hell ~OR~ Sharing is caring? Sharing is caring. Would I talk this effing much if I believed otherwise?
5. Open hearted ~OR~ Walls around your heart? There was a time I would have said the former without hesitation, but get stabbed enough by people you didn't even know had knives, and you get a little more cautious. Though really it depends on the situation -- I was defensive in high school because I felt like I had to be, not very defensive in college and grad school because it seemed foolish to be, not at all defensive when I first had kids because I didn't remember how to be, and online I've probably been much too open in a lot of ways.

: Stump the...
1. Number of jobs you've held:
Counting college work/study or not? Counting grad school assistantships or not? I have no idea how to answer this, as my "career" such as it is has not by any means followed a traditional path. Does "homemaker" count for shit, here, either?
2. Biggest raise, by percent: Again...I have no idea how to answer this. My single biggest raise was when my company was bought out by another company but since I was technically a freelancer on contract, it was article by article.
3. Have you ever quit? Dropping out of grad school cost me one assistantship. I also quit my very first job at a travel agent after three days, one summer in high school.
4. Have you ever been fired? Only if the company going out of business still owing me $3000 counts.
5. Worst mistake, while on the job: NOT quitting when it became obvious said company was going down, and believing them when they said I would get paid even if they did.

And from my long-lost friend from Janeway/Chakotay fandom, , The Big Five Word Test. This "emotional stability" score makes me really curious about why we were asked to rank ourselves on a heterosexual-homosexual continuum for these categories, which ones it impacted, and why. I'm fairly proud of the orderliness one, and imagine this ties right back into that jobs meme.

Big Five Word Test Results
Extroversion (81%) high which suggests you are overly talkative, outgoing, sociable and interacting at the expense too often of developing your own individual interests and internally based identity.
Friendliness (60%) moderately high which suggests you are, at times, overly kind natured, trusting, and helpful at the expense of your own individual development (martyr complex).
Orderliness (31%) moderately low which suggests you are, at times, overly flexible, random, improvised, and fun seeking at the expense of structure, reliability, work ethic, and long term accomplishment.
Emotional Stability (41%) moderately low which suggests you are worrying, insecure, emotional, and anxious.
Openmindedness (76%) high which suggests you are very intellectual, curious, imaginative but possibly not very practical.
Take Free Big Five Word Choice Test
personality tests by

Friday, January 21, 2005

Poem for Friday

By Roberta Spear

I could sit in this hot bath for hours
both ends disappearing at once
old skin sloughed and lacy
as bits of lichen
until only my navel
a stone cast
leaves rings on the surface
and over the water closes over it.

I am the reed
you peeled back and snapped
off your bare shoulder
a slow spear
that landed ever so lightly
on the glassy lake
and stayed afloat.

My arms
even my chin
are weightless . . .
and I could almost go under
without a breath --
the water like a mother
with her gloves and small parcel
saying I brought you here
and I can take you back


Oh I'm glad this week is almost over. Thursday was one of those days where nothing really bad happened, but literally a hundred small annoyances and petty things occurred, and I spent much of it feeling cranky and tired and also ungrateful, considering that there are so many people who have genuine crises going on instead of this bullshit. I blame my mood in general on the inauguration, which I ignored entirely, having left my television off all day, and on the idiocy of the Montgomery County Public School System, which had sent out e-mail last night saying that if school was delayed this morning (as it was for two hours), the math midterms scheduled for today would all be delayed till Friday.

This morning at 8 -- AFTER all the kids from our side of the county in the magnet program were already in transit, and they spent two hours on the bus yesterday due to traffic problems from the snow -- they sent another e-mail saying that the exams would be given on schedule today. How fair is this to the kids? I sent e-mail to the principal, called the school, apparently we were not alone because the principal later sent out another rather pissy e-mail noting that the initial delay was for the convenience of the teachers, not the students, and the teachers had assured her that the students were ready so the parents should chill. Does this woman know what middle school students are like when you change their routine? We told ours to study for his social studies test in the morning because he wasn't going to have the math test...this is not a kid who deals well with changes of routine in general, let alone for his first middle school midterms. I was delighted to hear so many other parents had complained!

And then, because I was not stressing enough about the schools, we got e-mail from our younger son's school that their power was off! They managed to get it back on, but not before I had cancelled out on lunch with in case they closed the building and asked us to pick up our kids. This after he didn't leave the house till nearly eleven because of the delay, so I had pretty much no time to myself all day. On top of that I didn't get a package I expected and needed, my father is home feeling crappy and may need a stent after all, I didn't get to the store and get stuff we needed and...well, George Bush is president of the United States again. Yeah. How come I did not know about 10,000 Jesuses before today?

After the usual insanity of carpool-in-snow and getting one child to Hebrew school, the other to violin, my evening brain-clearing activity was watching Wimbledon with the commentary on. Why did no one here mention to me that Paul Bettany as well as director Richard Loncraine did the commentary track? It didn't even say so on the DVD case! When Paul's character says, "There's something I haven't told you," meaning to reveal to Kirsten Dunst's character that he's planning to retire from tennis, Paul interrupts himself onscreen to say, "I'm massively gay." Then while the director is trying to talk about the use of music in the scene, Paul insists on sticking to this theme, going on about how that would have made it a different movie if he was gay and how they could always reshoot the film again.

The big bummer (so to speak) of the commentary track is Loncraine announcing that they had to digitize out part of Paul's anatomy when he flips on his back to pull on his pants because Sam Neill is coming to kill him. They joke about how big it was and how much it cost. During the scene when Paul has to climb over Jon Favreau to get out of bed after his character has acupuncture, Jon moans, "Jennifer," which cracked Paul up and apparently nearly ruined the shot. Paul calls Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays his character's practice partner -- the one whose weakness is men in leather shorts -- "too good-looking to live." But my very favorite moment is when he and Loncraine are both praising the teenage ball boy and Paul claims that the boy is really Russell Crowe, who is such a great actor that he can actually make himself smaller, and the director adds that he completely loses the Aussie accent, too. Paul just can't resist talking about Russell, can he?

While I'm borderline RPSing, Ted on the Golden Globe parties: "Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom were hubba he-man supreme, huddled away together at Miramax. Yes, they wanted to talk about the chicks, but, look, they did it in that totally too funny Hobbit-holding kinda way: all touchy-feely, girlish gossiping. Kate, did you teach Mr. B. such silliness?" This makes me giggle, particularly coming from Ted. (Sorry, , I can't resist Orlando sometimes!) And on this cheerful note I am going to bed.

Looking up from the deck yesterday, the snow coming down and obscuring the trees.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Poem for Thursday

By Emily Brontë

The night is darkening round me,
The wild winds coldly blow;
But a tyrant spell has bound me
And I cannot, cannot go.

The giant trees are bending
Their bare boughs weighed with snow.
And the storm is fast descending,
And yet I cannot go.

Clouds beyond clouds above me,
Wastes beyond wastes below;
But nothing drear can move me;
I will not, cannot go.


Being stuck at home, I wrote drabbles, "Purge" for the challenge wherein Snape blows up a cauldron at and "Totality" for the 1970s challenge at . I also wrote an incredibly dorky not-quite-drabble for 's "1001 Places Remus and Sirius Defiled Hogwarts in Many Interesting and Complicated Ways" challenge.

Wednesday did not go as planned because by the time my younger son was at school, it was snowing. I called and reluctantly told her that I thought I should postpone my pimping into Highlander fandom in case our county closed schools early; it did not, but our neighborhood was not plowed until after 4 p.m. so driving was a nightmare, and after watching cars skid in front of my house, I spent the entire day close to home with no Methos or Duncan to console me. The domestic excitement included walking in the snow to retrieve kids, getting hit by snowballs from said kids, howling and telling the kids to go sledding before it got dark because school would be predictably delayed the next day despite midterms this week (and it shall, in the morning).

Figuring I am on a roll with trying new things such as Veronica Mars, I watched Lost. I was not bored. I mean, it's hard to be bored while watching a BIG WHITE POLAR BEAR on a tropical island, but it's also hard not to giggle. I like the little boy, I like his father, I rolled my eyes like crazy when what should have been a lasting conflict about loyalty and identity was wrapped up in a few seconds of a boy screaming "DAD!" and two guys bonding over saving him. I wasn't repelled by Dominic Monaghan and his moping over Claire's diary, though I wasn't impressed either, but he looked far more attractive to me than usual and I can easily explain why: it's because I think Ian Somerhalder is one of the least attractive men I have ever seen in or out of show business, and he makes every other man within ten miles look good.

I have no opinion on any of the women because none of them were onscreen for more than ten seconds at a time. My husband and I had an easier time predicting this plot than we did with The Incredibles even though we've never watched the show before, right down to him yelling "IT'S CLAIRE!" right before she walked out of the bushes at the end. I feel like I have not missed much and am now going back to my Lost-free existence quite comfortably.
Afterwards we watched The West Wing, not one of its better episodes, but still light years ahead of most of what's on television for both entertainment value and inspiring me to think. Even without getting to see my newfound Josh/Santos love, which along with Donna was missing for the entire episode, it left me feeling happy and energized and pissed as hell at the things not being done in the real world, but more on that later.

People in England who are fans of Star Trek and/or Dawson's Creek (I know you are reading this, you can't hide): Popbitch has cheap (£12.50) tickets to the new David Mamet play, A Life in The Theatre, starring Patrick Stewart and Joshua Jackson at Apollo Theatre; call 0870 890 1101 and say "Popbitch offer." Someone needs to go see this and report back to me, please.

And speaking of things fannish, David Yates...I know nothing about him. Recent interviews sound promising: he seems to be enthusiastic about Harry Potter, at least. But I read something terrifying in someone's journal, confirmed in an interview here, that David Thewlis had said he had a huge project in the works and might not be in the film of OOTP. Is this even POSSIBLE? Don't tell me they didn't make him sign an extension clause! If they make an OOTP with anyone else as Remus, my wrath will know no bounds. There shall be Cruciatus curses leveled at Warner Bros. and Imperius used on David himself. And I shall hiss at all the "Oh, but Jude Law/Ewan McGregor/Orlando Bloom should have played Lupin" fans forever.

A couple of personality quizzes, one Harry Potter-based with results that made me squee and squeak in the first two lines, and one that seems quite accurate...

You scored as Sirius Black. Your Alter Ego is Sirius Black. You are gifted wizard and loyal to your allegiance. However you can be a little arrogant and reckless at times.

Sirius Black


Draco Malfoy


Hermione Granger


Severus Snape


Harry Potter


Ron Weasley


Remus Lupin


Albus Dumbledore


Peter Pettigrew


Lord Voldemort


Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?
created with

You scored as Verbal/Linguistic. You have highly developed auditory skills, enjoy reading and writing and telling stories, and are good at getting your point across. You learn best by saying and hearing words. People like you include poets, authors, speakers, attorneys, politicians, lecturers and teachers.















The Rogers Indicator of Multiple Intelligences
created with

I do not want to think about the Bad Thing happening in my city tomorrow. If there were less snow and the kids had a full day of school, I would be thinking about going to the protest. Some unknown liberal group (I belong to several -- could have been Kerry campaign, ACLU, Billionaires for Bush, PFAW) -- left the greatest sales message ever on my answering machine: a fake recording of Bush thanking his fellow Americans and Jesus for giving him the divine right to do what he wishes and warning us not even to think about joining those anti-God activists who want to destroy America by insisting that we actually count the votes in Ohio, Nevada, Florida, etc. McPherson Square is sounding pretty good right now.

Snowy neighborhood scene at twilight today.