Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

February: Thinking of Flowers
By Jane Kenyon

Now wind torments the field,
turning the white surface back
on itself, back and back on itself,
like an animal licking a wound.

Nothing but white--the air, the light;
only one brown milkweed pod
bobbing in the gully, smallest
brown boat on the immense tide.

A single green sprouting thing
would restore me...

Then think of the tall delphinium,
swaying, or the bee when it comes
to the tongue of the burgundy lily.


...how did it get to be after midnight? I got up early. Had an early dentist appointment. Posted Sunday's articles before leaving now that the database is fixed. Waited for the hygienist, then the dentist after she cleaned my teeth, then went to Borders after leaving the dentist to get a couple of gifts. Discovered this, which is just my kind of dorky television-watching activity (I miss coloring books and am sometimes sorry I grew up...had a mandala coloring book for awhile but finished it years ago). Also discovered that the Suncoast in White Flint Mall is closing and has all used DVDs for 40% off marked prices, bought Highlander: Endgame for under $5. *points at with love*

Came home because the kids were out of school at 12:30, hung out with them, took them to the other local mall for Dippin' Dots because apparently they did not get enough at the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Expo on Sunday, hung out in the kids' play area talking to them about politics -- had brought younger son's friend who spends half his time at our house along, his father is military, had a very different perspective than my kids have -- particularly the older one who goes to middle school in a very liberal area, and has us as parents. It was very interesting.

Came back, finished transcribing Harve Bennett to post, chatted with , husband came home early for dinner because older son had fencing in the evening. While he was out, younger son took a bath and watched The Simpsons and I did lots and lots of tagging that I feel really good about, both in a "wow this writing is going well" sense and in a "wow this is hot" sense. *g* And now it's after midnight and I don't know how so much of the day got away from me! I owe about a thousand comments and a perusal of my flist. I would like to marry blame . Here is Remus a National Zoo wolf for her!

Happy Mardi Gras! So after years of making ancillary profits off The Da Vinci Code, which brought Holy Blood, Holy Grail (and The Woman With the Alabaster Jar and various other books) back onto bestseller lists, Baigent and Leigh have decided to sue Dan Brown? Should've thought of presenting your work as fiction rather than historical research, folks -- clearly lots more money to be made there! I don't understand the basis for a lawsuit about a novel based on nonfiction research at all. If I'm writing historical fiction about George Washington, do I have to pay every biographer whose book I cite in my bibliography? Either they made up the whole theory about Jesus out of their arses, as hundreds of churches have claimed, in which case they can argue plagiarism of the idea, or they wrote a historical study that Brown both cited and adapted, in which case I don't get the basis for a suit unless he took actual words from their research and put it in the mouths of his characters without having the character say, "As Baigent and Leigh wrote..." (And didn't Baigent and Leigh notice that The Black Chalice borrowed from them too? But wait, that book didn't make seventeen gazillion dollars so I guess they don't care!)

Celebrities need to stop dying. Octavia Butler, Dennis Weaver, Don Knotts, Darren McGavin. That's enough! And I need to find more articles about how chocolate can supposedly make us live longer. Because I refuse to believe in a benevolent universe where chocolate is bad for us. That is all.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Poem for Monday

Grecian Kindness
By John Wilmot

The utmost Grace the Greeks could shew,
  When to the Trojans they grew kind,
Was with their Arms to let 'em go,
  And leave their lingring Wives behind.
They beat the Men, and burnt the Town,
Then all the Baggage was their own.

There the kind Deity of Wine
  Kiss'd the soft wanton God of Love;
This clapp'd his Wings, that press'd his Vine,
  And their best Pow'rs united move.
While each brave Greek embrac'd his Punk,
Lull'd her asleep, and then grew drunk.


Also from Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Politicians use 'hero' as an approving label, but the word can mean superhuman...fascism is notoriously, grotesquely heroic. And Homer's warriors do not always behave in ways that make an alert reader wish to give them medals. The leering, brilliant hedonist John Wilmot (1647-1680), Earl of Rochester, knew that those Homeric heroes were not necessarily models of good conduct. Wilmot's poem takes the form of a mordant, funny debunking of Homer's noble Greeks and Romans. What's superhuman is Wilmot's cynicism, doled generously to husbands and wives, Greeks and Trojans, victors and vanquished."

Octavia Butler has died. This is devastating news, not only to me as a reader and fan but because the one academic article I published was on Butler, a chapter in Utopian and Science Fiction By Women: Worlds of Difference (I also wrote a chapter of my M.A. thesis on Butler and abortion politics). She wasn't very old -- under 60.

On the subject of criticism, here are my reviews for Heavy Words Lightly Thrown and Match Point -- if the latter sounds familiar it's because I posted the earliest draft of it here, right after I saw the movie. The rest of What's New is here.

Sunday we went to another of those nightmares known as a Bar-Bat Mitzvah Expo. (It was also a wedding expo but considering the number of people I know personally who I ran into there, whose kids are the same year as my older one, my sense of the crowd is that it was very Mitzvah-heavy.) By the time we left I would have accepted Kali as my personal Destroyer just to get out of this insanity. My kids are good kids -- somewhat materialistic as are nearly all Middle American born and raised kids I know, but the orgy of expectation and all the CRAP (even what was advertising itself as generosity -- pay someone a lot of money for centerpieces to be donated to hospitals and let them make a profit rather than doing it yourself) made me sick. Literally -- there was tons of free food, I had Dippin' Dots and marshmallows in chocolate fountains and I don't even remember what else and I left with indigestion, wanting nothing more than to have my son Bar Mitzvahed in front of his five best friends and the handful of families who are our good friends and none of my parents' friends or expectations. My in-laws would appreciate it anyway and so would everyone in my pagan circle.

I so desperately need a new synagogue and don't know how to break myself and my kids away from this nightmare when it's been consistent for them since early childhood. The thing is that I WANT them to grow up hating a lot of what this synagogue stands for, and noticing the hypocrisy of teaching anonymous tzedakah when we glorify the people who donate piles of money by putting their names on everything from the buildings to the bricks, and I don't know how to teach them to be Jewish in this environment where on a cultural, social and political basis I disagree with so much of what they are being told that it means.

Hmm, I see it is a night for short choppy paragraphs. I couldn't post anything at TrekToday all weekend as the database was screwed up; my editor is having online problems and apparently his domain is down since his mail is bouncing, and I don't know what I am supposed to do about this. Instead of worrying about it I watched the end of Bleak House, which was as wonderful as I expected; I knew most of what was going to happen and did not expect to feel so sorry for Sir Leicester, while I expected to be sorrier for Jarndyce (the chemistry between him and Esther seemed very toned down to me in this one and he gave the impression that he was having second thoughts, not about his feelings but about whether he even wanted a pale imitation of reciprocity which he must have guessed all along was all that she could ever offer him). Ada remains like an innocent child even after she is married and while she is trying to be hard with Esther and Jarndyce -- she's very well cast, it's hard to root against her but it's hard to root for Richard. And Woodcourt seems too good to be true. My kids have watched this entire series with the greatest interest, something I never expected, and summed it up as being about money as the root of all evil...now there's a good lesson! *g*

The komodo dragon for .

The naked mole rats for .

And a big starfish for .

Congratulations to Sweden on the hockey medal (my kids are more Swedish than any other single nationality) and I hope I didn't miss too much by missing the closing ceremonies. I had more to say but I am tired and have a dentist appointment in the morning...and then the kids have a half day of school, so I will be busy trying to catch up on work and dealing with them!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Poem for Sunday

The News
By J.D. McClatchy

By seven the old women were leaving
the cathedral's side door, behind them
Christ in a fringed paisley loincloth
and the flaring spray of gold and silver
votive hearts, hundreds of them,
like drops of blood shaken from his face,
and a handful of men were clustered
around the zocalo's only newsstand
to read about the government scandal
on the front page of the morning paper
hung up on a wire with clothespins,
beneath which, on the vendor's plastic table,
are stacked the rows of pornographic
comic books whose covers work
their variations on last night's fantasies.


I find it very amusing that, the same week sent me a McClatchy poem, Robert Pinsky printed one in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Hedonism and heroism correct one another," Pinsky notes. "Heroism reaches upward, ambitiously, toward being less like mere humans and a little more like gods; hedonism looks downward, desirously, toward animal satisfaction...McClatchy also ponders the comic and the heroic, high aspirations and base desires, wants and lacks, all stirred together." This is really extremely sexy. Guh!

The baby panda is bigger! And still sleeps a lot, up in a tree now! But we had a wonderful day at the zoo. We went to all the places we missed a couple of weeks ago: the Amazon exhibit, the invertebrates, the komodo dragons, the monkeys, the small mammals...plus the wolves were awake today, and there were ponies in what used to be the camel enclosure, and all four beavers were out again and proving once more why beavers do not rule the world! It was a gorgeous day, 40-50s while we were there so nice walking weather without freezing, and my glasses and camera steamed up in Amazonia and the butterfly garden. We ate at the Mane Restaurant and now I remember why bringing picnics is such a good idea. *g* Younger son was very disappointed that the newborn kiwi was not on display and rather resentful the pandas got all the attention but he did get a panda lunchbox as part of the kid's meal, which mollified him!

While Baby Bear sleeps...

...Papa Bear eats...

...and Mama Bear eats!

And Goldilocks can get her own little panda.

Jennifer Cutting told me yesterday that you can get Yorkshire Gold tea at this local import supermarket, Rodman's, so afterward -- since we had promised to stop at Toys R Us to see if they had baby Furbys for my son (they did not) and it's not much further up Randolph Road, we went to Rodman's where I found not only Yorkshire Gold but also Cadbury imported from the UK and real clotted cream and all kinds of Indian and Argentine food and it was wonderful! The Rodmans nearest where I live does not have nearly as much and now that I know this, I will have to make regular runs. It's right between where I live and where (whom I saw briefly at the zoo) lives, so I will just have to bring son over to see her and Georgie more often.

It was very late afternoon after we got home, we made tom ka gai with new ingredients for dinner, watched a little bit of Olympic hockey while doing laundry, and am not quite sure where the evening went. I know where the late night went -- I have just killed myself here for far after avoiding it for far too long -- isn't it amazing what writing crack suddenly makes more logical than it was not long before? And I hate it when fic makes me cry and cry. Though I am also impressed when it can do that. Sunday fortunately younger son has a youth group magic show after Hebrew school because I have to catch up on work! And we are going to a Bar Mitzvah expo. Hopefully there will be chocolate samples like at the last one. *G*

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Poem for Saturday

Nothing Ventured
By Kay Ryan

Nothing exists as a block
and cannot be parceled up.
So if nothing's ventured
it's not just talk;
it's the big wager.
Don't you wonder
how people think
the banks of space
and time don't matter?
How they'll drain
the big tanks down to
slime and salamanders
and want thanks?


I had a lovely day. Spent the morning writing the site columns for TrekToday and my "Journey To Babel" review. Ate lunch, then drove out to interview Jennifer Cutting in her home and studio, which has 19th century tall ship paintings on the wall and glass suncatchers making rainbows in the windows and as many CDs as we have, and she made me PG Tips tea so I was all warm and bouncy and happy. (Fileg, she remembers you and your place.) And I was a total fangirl and asked her to sign my New St. George CD. What the hell, I am sure Lisa Moscatiello could have warned her that I was a total fangirl if she did not suspect already. And I think it's a great interview, with lots of stuff about her personal journey to make Ocean -- I can't wait to write it up.

This is Jennifer on keyboards and Lisa on guitar being introduced when they performed with the Ocean Orchestra at Borders the night Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released. More pics here.

We had dinner with my parents and uncle, rushed because Paul had to be online to test some stuff with people from his company's Bangalore office. Came home and watched the figure skating exhibition...Cohen is just so much fun to watch when she isn't falling out of her triple-triple combinations, and I love that she performed to Barbra Streisand (I didn't even think about it before but of course with a name like Sasha Cohen she must be Jewish) and Arakawa performed beautifully...give the girl a gold medal and she skates like a gold medalist, even if I can't stand that music. We also saw the giant slalom in the snow, or tried to through the whiteness...I don't really understand how it is fair for some people to have gotten to ski while the skies were clear and other people had to fight through visibility so bad the camera couldn't track them and fluffy snow that must have been slowing them down. I don't ever remember blizzard conditions coming up before mid-event like that, though I am sure now someone will remind me of one!

Couldn't deal with the real news, again, so here is news I could deal with from my local station: fake penis problems and another evolutionary hole gets plugged, undoubtedly to the distress of proponents of Intelligent Design. Friday Fiver this week is an Oscar poll (not sure if we were supposed to vote for what we expected to win or what we wanted to win but in the case of Best Picture, the answer is the same anyway), and there is no new Fannish 5 as of this writing.

The Friday Five: Deep Thoughts
1. When does liking someone a lot become loving that person?
If there was an answer to this question, it would put poets, playwrights, novelists and advice columnists out of business.
2. Is there a job you would do for free, and is it your current job? I have done many jobs for free because I loved them...in freelance writing, there is a great deal that gets done for free because of a compulsion to write, though I am sure that if I were more rigorous about writing what would pay instead of what I want to write, I would have more money. I've had some luck with the Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow philosophy -- running a fan club for Kate Mulgrew got me my all-time favorite job, at AnotherUniverse.com -- but for the past many years, while I've had all the flexibility in hours I could want, I've been very poor!
3. What is one person/thing that inspired you to take action of some sort? I went to grad school because I wanted to be my freshman English professor. Not necessarily, I realized later, because I wanted to be AN English professor, but because I wanted to be just like her.
4. Though you might not believe in it, would you like fate to exist? Absolutely not. I despise the idea.
5. What's the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for you? Really understood, and told me so.


Gold Medal Winner in...


Doing the Robot while Skiing and/or Skating

'What rejected olympic sport would you win gold in?' at QuizGalaxy.com

Being Led Astray is the perfect way to end an evening. *smooches responsible party and wishes her a good trip* Tomorrow early we have tickets to see the baby panda again, so I will be at the zoo!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Poem for Friday

Sex Without Love
By Sharon Olds

How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other's bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away. How do they come to the
come to the come to the God come to the
still waters, and not love
the one who came there with them, light
rising slowly as steam off their joined
skin? These are the true religious,
the purists, the pros, the ones who will not
accept a false Messiah, love the
priest instead of the God. They do not
mistake the lover for their own pleasure,
they are like great runners: they know they are alone
with the road surface, the cold, the wind,
the fit of their shoes, their over-all cardio-
vascular health -- just factors, like the partner
in the bed, and not the truth, which is the
single body alone in the universe
against its own best time.


Torvill and Dean made me think of that poem. Which is not fair to them, but I was young and impressionable. Cohen got lucky to get what she got, I know, but she was so much more graceful than Kerrigan in getting it that I cannot hold it against her. It wasn't a superlative field at the top this Games -- well, I felt that way last Games, maybe I am just old -- and it might have been Kwan's turn had she been healthy, but Kwan has never been Yamaguchi for me and Yamaguchi has never been Witt (who admittedly is also not a fair comparison, as I am remembering how good she got after her win in '84 rather than how she skated on the night, which I scarcely remember). Remind me to write something some time on T&D, The London Times and RPF.

I didn't watch all the skaters anyway as I was watching "Journey To Babel" for reviewing. This led to some discussion of Legilimency vs. Vulcan mind melds and wicked RPing with the wonderful , whom I would worship like a fangirl if there was not already such a long queue to worship her. Now I am projecting Sarek and Amanda as Snape's parents, too, which is just insane.

Earlier brought yummy burritos over and we watched Mr. & Mrs. Smith because she had not seen it and wanted to. I actually might write up a review of it just because the Wealthy Suburbia Kills Marriage Especially For Women theme plays out in such interesting ways. Jane is always two steps ahead of John and can do everything he can do backward and in high heels. She knows Sexy Woman is as much a performance as Perfect Housewife -- and something easier to pull off with a team of assistants. John does not buy into his bitter friend's misogyny and looks for ways to undercut him even when he is, by macho standards, totally whipped in every regard. I need to meditate on this further because while there were a lot of things in this film that might have pushed my ranting feminist buttons in another movie, they did not in this one because of other things that mitigated them.

Star Trek news for the day was the upcoming Q DVD set (I have the book collecting the scripts for the episodes in the set but I don't have any TNG on DVD, maybe it's time) and the possible return of the Star Trek Communicator, which is one of those fannish things I don't get as you can get the same stuff online for free. I still have not transcribed interviews from the convention last weekend as I have had too much other work to do, and Friday I am interviewing Jennifer Cutting for GMR! At her studio! I am trying to keep my inner fan girl under control.

Two people tagged me last week for this meme and I don't even remember whom, so I feel badly! But here it is...the Guilty Pleasures Meme! Ground Rules: The first player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 Guilty Pleasures" and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their 5 Guilty Pleasures as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names. Mine:

  • 1. CHOCOLATE. Too damn much of it.
  • 2. Collecting decks of cards. For awhile it was only inexpensive tourist decks from zoos and gardens and stuff, and then it was only reproductions of historical decks and contemporary transformation decks. Now it's anything that strikes my fancy and that I can afford at the moment -- lighthouses, Elvis, funny cats.
  • 3. Dawson's Creek reruns. Because yes, I know how bad it is and between the soundtrack (even the replacement soundtrack on the DVDs) and the shots of the Outer Banks, I can't stop anyway.
  • 4. Going back to sleep for an hour on days when I don't have a lot of work after I've sent my kids to school.
  • 5. Amoral incestuous slash couples (Lionel/Lex, Lucius/Draco) and very occasional privately circulated RPS. Because thoughts are free. *g*

    Tag: I am so bad at singling people out! If you haven't done it, do it. Yes, all of you!

    Speaking of collecting cards, was given the Golden Tarot as a gift -- I had seen the cards online, where the deck had its genesis (the images are collaged from Medieval and Renaissance paintings) -- it is quite lovely and the little book about the artwork is fascinating.

    The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, built in 1787 on the site of the 1741 Conewago Chapel in Hanover, Pennsylvania. The land originally was given to Lord Baltimore, the Catholic leader of the Maryland colony, though the church later received a patent from the Penns. It's the first parish church in the Americas dedicated to the heart of Jesus and the oldest Catholic church building in the US built of stone.
  • Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Poem for Thursday

    By Michael Hoffman

    He went West, drifted
    through the Italo-Western desert,
    bluffs, razor-wire, Coppertone,
    to the paranoid steers' heads
    of Atlas' spread.
    He nosed along the wire,
    grazing beasts in their thousands,
    through to the sea.
    A peon took him to Atlas.
    They spoke under a greenback tree,
    the bark was singles, the leaves tens,
    the fruit hundreds. He didn't know
    where to look, the man-mountain
    or his millions. He blurted out
    his request, something to eat
    and a place to stay. "I'm the son
    of God. If you treat me real nice
    he'll pay you out.
    I may be just a kid,
    but I been in with some fellows
    I can tell you about." Atlas
    had been tipped off. Verbum sap.
    A guy shooting this kind of line
    about gods and great deeds
    was coming to get his tree.
    "Son, if your daddy's not
    who you say he is, and your deeds
    are nothing special, you in big trouble.
    Now get out of here, before
    I make you." Perseus talked back,
    pleaded with him, got fresh.
    He grabbed him by the scruff,
    lifted him clean off the ground,
    carried him straight-armed
    off his property like a kicking
    jackrabbit and dropped him.
    Red with snape and exertion,
    Perseus went for his big shooter,
    a museum piece, his grandmother's.
    He looked the other way,
    and let him have it, both barrels.
    Atlas stiffened and went all big on him,
    went slope, scree, treeline,
    col, ridge, dome, peak.
    It was really neat.


    Another poem for which you can thank -- I am sure it is both very wrong and shallow that in addition to the mythic references, it makes me think of Lucius and Draco Malfoy and Voldemort. *g*

    We got half an inch of snow this morning, mostly on trees and grass and rooftops, so the entire world was stunningly scenic before lunchtime. I stayed in and caught up on comments and work and stuff, finished the that I realized was due in less than a week, organized my photo books, resized some photos. Hubby had asked me to record The Man With One Red Shoe off cable in the afternoon and I left the TV on -- damn, I forgot how funny that movie is. Then older son wanted to be picked up early to work on his science fair project, which required lots of typing and cutting and pasting for the posterboard.

    So it was a relatively quiet evening, and when we got bored with the Olympics I pulled out my 1984 videotape Torvill and Dean: Path To Perfection which I am gratified to report that my entire family watched and enjoyed! Then we just spent two hours watching the best of Monty Python on public television, laughing hysterically -- how come the Ministry of Silly Walks, Spam and the communist quiz show on football never get old? Maybe because I could not deal with watching the news, again, this evening! (How not to be seen...don't stand up!)

    Another from the cemetery at Gettysburg.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Poem for Wednesday

    Apollo and Hyacinthus
    By J.D. McClatchy

    Guilt's dirty hands, memory's kitchen sink...
       It's bad faith makes immortal love.
          Take a closer look at Hyacinth.

    Dark bud-tight curls and poppy-seed stubble,
       The skin over his cheekbones pale as poison
          Slowly dripped from eye to eye,

    And a crotch that whispers its single secret
       Even from behind the waiter's apron.
          He's pouting now, staring at the traffic.

    Every year there's a new one at the bar
       Sprung from whatever nowhere -- the country,
          The islands, the middle west...

    The old man at the far corner table, decades ago
       Called by his critics 'the sun god
          Of our poetry', sits stirring

    A third coffee and an opening line,
       Something like So often you renew
    or You and I resemble

    Nothing else every other pair of lovers.

       The grease stain on his left sleeve
          Winks as the lights come on.

    He signals the boy and means to ask
       Under cover of settling the check
          If, with the usual understanding

    And for the same pleasures, he'd return again
       Tonight, after work, there was something
          He'd wanted to show the boy, a picture

    Of two sailors that if held upside down...
       It's then he notices the gold cufflinks
          The boy is wearing, the pair the poet's

    Friends had given him when his first book --
       That moist sheaf of stifled longings --
          Appeared in Alexandria.

    To have stolen from one who would give
       Anything: what better pretext
          To put an end to 'an arrangement'?

    The old man falls silent, gets up from his seat,
       Leaves a few coins on the table
          And walks out through his confusions,

    Homeward through the sidestreets, across the square,
       Up the fifty-two stone steps, up the years
          And back to his study, its iron cot.

    The heaving had stopped. The last sad strokes
       Of the town clock had rung: Anger was one,
          Humiliation the other.

    He sat there until dawn and wrote out the poem
       That has come to be in all the anthologies,
          The one you know, beginning

    You are my sorrow and my fault. The one that goes
       In all my songs, in my mind, in my mouth,
          The sighing still sounds of you.

    The one that ends with the boy -- the common,
       Adored, two-timing hustler -- turned
          Into a flower, the soft-fleshed lily

    But of a bruised purple that grief will come
       To scar with its initials AI, AI.
          O, the ache insists.


    sent me that poem (the old-fashioned way, via snail mail). Thank you so much, sweetie! And now I need to get that book!

    How come it always takes five times as much time to unpack as it does to pack, even if you only packed for two days? Spent much of the morning on laundry and organizational tasks like that. Went out to lunch with , narrowly avoided spending money in several stores (well, I did buy the 2006 page-a-day Star Trek calendar because I suck have bought it every year for the past at least ten -- how many years have they been publishing them? That long), came home with orange blossom eau de toilette and two Lindt chocolate balls. Ran around driving Hebrew school carpools.

    In between I wrote the three articles my site owner had apparently wanted me to do over the weekend, though I told him three times I was going to be out of town. Strangely, he knew I was going to be at Farpoint doing interviews but somehow missed the fact that I would be in Pennsylvania for the next two days, which I am quite sure I mentioned in the same notes. So I am undoubtedly going to have work dumped on me to compensate...ah well, I shall not rush to transcribe the interviews. But as a result of the three articles, I have not answered the pile of mail and comments left over from yesterday. (Am irritable at GMR too -- finished my Match Point review, and they still have my book review held over from a couple of weeks ago and did not rush to finish the Harry Potter essay book review.)

    Sasha Cohen really skated nicely but you all know I missed most of the women's short program, because of course I turned the Olympics off to watch Boston Legal. Which made me cry in two different storylines. I am so grateful they finally gave Rene Auberjonois a big story! And he was phenomenal -- very Odo-like in some ways, absolutely intransigent in his definition of justice and fairness until he realizes he'll have to sacrifice love for it (I was so hearing Odo from "Necessary Evil", at least). And then there was the Alzheimer's storyline, with the twist ending that shouldn't have been such a twist; Alan's look of betrayal when he realized what the husband and the nurse had done, not to the wife but to him as the lawyer, was extraordinary, this sudden subtle thing.

    He and Denny are heartbreaking together. "I'm tired of my Alzheimer's being a story point," Denny says. Alan says it isn't his story: "Imagine killing someone you love." Denny reminds Alan that he said he'd kill him, and how much do I love that they went from "someone you love" to that? And Alan says he's not sure he could do it. Then without transition, the switch to crack! Denny announces that it's all right if Alan can't kill him, Bev said she'd do it if the day came: she'll sit on him. Alan finds this amusing, and then just as quickly we're back to the heavy stuff: "That's what we did for my father. Morphine drip." Oh. At least we get a happy ending: "My day is coming Alan, we both know that," mourns Denny, to which Alan replies, "It's a long ways off, and in the meantime, live big, my friend, live big."

    Which Shirley doesn't quite do, but she's tempted. Tom Selleck as her ex-husband and first law partner! Who cheated on her on their honeymoon, she says, and caused all kinds of havoc in her life, and is now getting married again and wants her to be the best man. "I feel it deep down in my..." "...bone, I'm sure," she finishes for him, and has to point out best man doesn't give the groom away -- and besides, she's not a man. Which he knows oh so well. Of course, he wants her back. Just like Denny wants her back. Who wouldn't want her back! I need Paul to finish mourning for his wife and cement things with his daughter so he can realize he's in love with her...not that I have any objection of Shirley ends up with Denise, who she takes as her DATE to the rehearsal dinner!

    Really, I like Shirley and Denise together in the kind of mentor-protegee relationship I always wanted with older women like that, though if I were Denise I would decide no man could measure up to Shirley and give them up. *snerk* For that matter, I can't see how Ivan's fiancee did not dump him for Shirley, except that she would not have sung that godawful song from The Sound of Music in front of an audience, twice! She has the best line of this episode: "The heart wants what the heart wants...so long as his penis doesn't weigh in." Oh, and since the only way to stop her from giggling is to upset her, Shirley brings up Trent Lott, at which the woman grows somber...then asks if Shirley is one of those dreadful people who mocks the Administration. "I would never!" Shirley announces.
    I love that the show with my favorite slash couple on TV also has women characters I adore and Rene Auberjonois too. Tuesday nights are bliss.

    Statue of Abe Lincoln and contemporary passerby outside the Wills House in downtown Gettysburg. Lincoln stayed with David Wills from November 18-19th 1863, met then-Governor Curtin and rode on horseback up what is now the road separating the national battlefield visitor's center from the cemetery to deliver the Gettysburg Address, which he finished writing in this building -- now a Lincoln museum.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Poem for Tuesday

    The Lullaby of History
    By Kevin Boyle

    I put the bookmark in the page after Lincoln’s
    silence during the 1860 campaign, after no one
    in the Gulf States cast a single vote for him,
    then march off to the car, carseat in tow, drive on
    cruise, mainly, to the site in Durham where Sherman
    coaxed the Southern general — Johnston —
    to submit twice, sign twice. The six hundred thousand
    dead were like the shucks inside the reconstructed
    bed, the smoke the chimney slewed, the clayish mud.
    In the museum, name-tagged women watch our daughter,
    four months here, while we investigate the flags
    with gunshot holes, the uniforms with gunshot holes,
    the shells of the Union Army with three rings, the shells
    of the Confederate’s with two. We take our daughter
    to the filmstrip, where she sleeps through
    the stills of uniformed corpses in ditches and cries
    at war’s end, one flag for all these states. We ride,
    strapped, to the Greek restaurant known for its sauces
    and lamb, stroll inside the tobacco warehouse transformed
    into a mall, each glass pane so large a truck
    could drive through and pick up brightleaf to ship.
    They say this section profited when South met North
    and troops took in the smoke of this leaf, spreading
    by word of mouth the flavor, until the profits
    were so large owners began to donate. In the antique store
    we happen upon a map my father might love
    of Ireland before division, just as it appeared
    when he was born, the north a section, not another country,
    Ulster’s counties awash in the orange the mapmakers
    stained it. But we can’t commit to buy for this price,
    or prevent our daughter from falling asleep as we discuss
    facts the map makes clear: battles marked in bold,
    our side losing again and again, the Flight of the Earls,
    Vinegar Hill, the Battle of the Boyne, and we donate
    a moment during the drive home to feel
    the weight of the centuries’ dead, almost cry for all
    those men who gave their skin to the ground so young,
    so young brought their lips to earth and let their mouths
    cave in, accept the soil as their voice. We did not wake
    our girl through this. Let her sleep, we said.


    Home from Pennsylvania. We almost had an enormous disaster -- younger son's Nintendo DS went missing when we were ready to leave. We spent two hours tearing the house apart looking for it, and finally left without it, to sounds of sobbing. Got a call on the cell phone ten minutes down Route 16 -- father-in-law had discovered it in the lining of the recliner, where it had somehow migrated after falling into the reclining mechanism. After much maneuvering of the upholstery, he drove down to meet us at the edge of a manure factory and after near death by asphyxiation while waiting for him, all was well. (Until told younger son he had too many stuffed penguins on his bed and should move some, causing a new crisis, but that is a different story.)

    I owe lots of mail and comments and unpacking and stuff, but ended up spending too much time tonight here. Have no regrets whatsoever. Except that Snape doesn't want me. Photos to end President's Day weekend:

    Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address here, inside the cemetery at Gettysburg National Battlefield.

    And here is Lincoln's memorial...

    ...with part of the text of his speech.

    Ice dancing made me want to cry. Last Winter Olympics, we were in Los Angeles for my brother-in-law's wedding and I watched distracted at the houses of relatives and friends, only barely noting the new rules and the horror of music with lyrics, allowing people to do a lot of arm-waving while Sarah Brightman sang instead of actually having to interpret songs without words. I usually root for Israelis but what kind of idiots skate to "Bolero" in a post-T&D world? I'm happy for the Americans as they skated a very pretty program, and any couple who skates to Peter Gabriel's music for The Last Temptation of Christ gets two clicks for making my night. But wow, how we have fallen from the night Klimova and Ponomarenko skated that magnificent program to Bach.

    Oh yeah...happy 60th, Alan Rickman! *blows your candles*

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Poem for Monday

    The Otherness
    By Linda Gregg

    Of course there is the otherness,
    right away inside you when
    the doe steps carefully down
    the embankment. Then clatter
    of hoof and the dappled water
    with leaf shade. The otherness
    and the invisible until you came.


    Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "Here the jabber of consciousness is changed by perceiving something out of the ordinary. The otherness of the natural tableau is 'right away inside you': The poem notes the parts of that setting: the hoof, its clatter, the dappled water, the leaf shade. And that naming of parts makes the scene alive, inside the poet, the thing that was invisible before she came to apprehend it."

    We had a quiet Sunday morning -- in-laws went to church, we slept late and read the paper -- then had brunch and went to Gettysburg. It was so cold that we did almost no walking outdoors, just a bit around the cemetery; instead we watched the light show on the giant map showing the course of the battle, walked through the exhibits in the visitor center and drove around some of the areas with monuments. We had originally planned to do the driving tour of the battlefields with audiocassette, but that's two hours long, and after two hours in the visitor's center the kids were restless and we decided to save that for another cold or rainy day when we were up here. Instead we drove back slowly through Gettysburg itself, looking at the churches and buildings that were used as field hospitals and at David Wills' house, which is now a Lincoln museum, where Lincoln finished writing the Gettysburg Address.

    Cannons on the lower level of the Gettysburg National Battlefield Visitor's Center.

    The one in the middle is my favorite. What would make a cannon burst like this? I know a cannon can explode, but this midpoint melt? The sign didn't say.

    The chess set of the major general popularly credited with inventing baseball! (Slightly out of focus because I haven't figured out the behind-glass depth of field thing yet.)

    Watches found on the battlefield in the aftermath.

    My kids were somewhat crazed in the evening; younger son had gone to the park in the morning while walking the dog, but I think they both got too little exercise, and there were shrieking arguments about whether to play Monopoly, Uno or a train card game and with whom...I am not sure my in-laws want us back any time soon. *g* They have pretty much had it with watching the Olympics and I must admit that I am hitting that point too. Tonight it became official that I no longer care about ice dance; there were some pretty moves but none of the couples moved me, and a lot of it looked like more flamboyant pairs skating without the dramatic lifts. I don't know how much can be blamed on the new scoring system and how much on skaters who, while creative with their moves, didn't seem all that inspired by their own programs. Torino looked lovely with the snow coming down as the Italian team got their medals but when I discovered that Bleak House was on here at the same time as it is at home, I eagerly changed the channel.

    I am going to bawl next week at the conclusion, am I not? I was surprised that The Big Thing That Ended This Week's Episode happened this week instead of next -- I was expecting it to be part of the endgame -- but it still seems to late to help most of the people whose lives were being ruined and in order for either of my two favorite characters to have a happy ending, the other must get his or her heart broken! Woe! I am so bummed there is no more after the end...so, tell me, should I read the book? I have always been terrible with the 19th century British novel, the American Modernist novel was my thing, though I loved Great Expectations...I must admit that I enjoyed the film version of A Tale of Two Cities and the stage version of Nicholas Nickleby more than the books. And Bleak House looks terribly intimidatingly long. Is it the kind of thing you can pick up and put down?

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Poem for Sunday

    By Linda Gregg

    The woman walks up the mountain
    and then down. She wades into the sea
    and out. Walks to the well,
    pulls up a bucket of water
    and goes back into the house.
    She hangs wet clothes.
    Takes clothes back to fold them.
    Every evening she crochets
    from six until dark.
    Birds, flowers, stars. Her rabbit lives
    in an empty donkey pen. The sea is out
    there as far as the stars.
    Always quiet.
    No one there. She may not believe
    in anything. Not know
    what she is doing. Every morning
    she waters the geranium plant.
    And the leaves smell like lemons.


    From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World. He cites Wallace Stevens' "Poetry is a Destructive Force", saying that poetry "breaks and devours comforting sentiments, soothing language, elevated humbug, wishful thinking. It re-imagines in language what we are used to." In this poem, he adds, "The violence is figurative...it menaces or devours not flesh and blood but cozy preconceptions."

    Just a quick update as I am at my in-laws, having arrived late in the day after several chaotic but wonderful hours at Shore Leave -- I did not manage to find or any other familiar faces from here but I managed to do both interviews I had hoped for TrekToday, despite the fact that my schedule and the guests' had changed. I have interviewed Penny Johnson Jerald before but it is always such a thrill to interview an articulate, witty, passionate woman in person -- she is absolutely gorgeous in person and very vivacious, can go from Kasidy Yates to Sherry Palmer in seconds but she comes across as extremely nice, someone who wants to make sure that everyone else in the room is comfortable and enjoying the moment. Harve Bennett is just a totally fascinating man; we talked quite a bit about the Trek films and Starfleet Academy but also about his World War II and Korea experiences, things I had not known about him. I did not get any unexpected Shatner anecdotes but it is obvious that he has affection and respect for that entire cast.

    My husband took the kids to a nature center while I was interviewing, and by the time we met up we were all absolutely starving -- it was nearly 3 p.m. -- so we had a late lunch at Panera before coming to Hanover, meaning that we were not all that hungry for my father-in-law's birthday dinner. I was trying to keep up with RPG tags while being sociable and got really stressed out over a game disagreement, and am really, seriously wondering again whether I am cut out for this. It's hard to write a character who is isolated both by canon situation and by the choices you have felt that you had to make for him in the game to keep him in character, even if those choices by definition mean that you won't be interacting with certain characters and you will have a lot of tension with others. I know that most people are involved for the porn -- they've said as much -- and I wish I could let go of some of my sense of what's in character just in that regard. But most RPGs I have followed at all degenerated into crack in some spots and I wouldn't want this one to -- there is too much good writing.

    Dinner was excellent if more food than I needed, we watched some Olympics, I read the rest of Mr. Popper's Penguins aloud to younger son because he wanted to be read to (which I keep screwing up and calling Mr. Potter's Penguins now, due to evil influences, to my family's amusement). Father-in-law's 90-year-old other is having health issues -- she lives with his sister in Seattle -- they are discussing possible assisted living for her, so there is stress on both coasts and long late night birthday phone calls about the situation. She actually would prefer to move, being in a house now with too many stairs, and her daughter and son-in-law both work long hours which means that she is alone a lot of the time.

    Ginger, my in-laws' beagle, who wanted to sleep rather than be dragged outside at 11:30 in the 10-degree weather.

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    Poem for Saturday

    Proverbs 8
    Translated by Jill Hammer

    I am Wisdom! I live wisely...
    I am understanding. Courage is mine.
    Through me kings reign
    and rulers decree justice...
    Those who love me I love,
    and those who seek me will find me.

    The Eternal created me
    at the beginning of the path,
    the first of the ancient works.
    I was made in the distant past,
    before the beginning of the origins of earth…
    I was born before there were depths,
    before the springs of water,
    before the mountains were rooted.
    Before the hills I was born!

    I was next to the Eternal as a confidant,
    and I was a daily source of joy,
    playing to be seen at all times,
    playing with the world, the land,
    and humankind was my delight.

    Now, children, listen to me,
    for happy are those who keeps my ways...
    The one who finds me has found life
    and grace from the Eternal.
    Those who sin against me destroy their souls,
    and all who hate me love death.


    Quiet day. Wrote a review of "Metamorphosis", did some reading, had dinner with my parents and uncle. Got ready to go out of town, which meant four loads of laundry among other things. Folded it while watching Mr. & Mrs. Smith which was exactly as enjoyable as I expected -- I like both Brad and Angelina and they are walking proof that not all real life couples lack onscreen chemistry.

    "I can push the button any time." "You couldn't find the button with both hands and a map!" Mwahaha! And then "You expect me to roll over and play dead?" "You've been doing that for five years of marriage." "Six!" In general I liked the dialogue, which was actually snappier than a lot of more acclaimed serious films this year -- it's been a terrible year for screenplays, the actors are so often better than their material, and while Pitt gets a lot of flak for his limitations, he's quite good at taking mediocre writing and making it entertaining onscreen. I cannot resist a man who sings along to Air Supply! And I love that only she can drive the minivan, and that she's Jewish. "Happy endings are just stories that haven't finished yet." Mwahaha, I hope Brad and Angelina go the distance because I will be bummed if they have an ugly breakup after the children and the charity stuff and all that, no matter how much of it is stunts.

    : Cheney's Got a Gun
    1. Do you have good hand-eye coordination?
    Moderately good. My aim throwing and hitting a softball is fine, I just don't have the arm strength to put anything behind it.
    2. Have you ever held a gun? I shot BB guns at camp for years. Wasn't a bad shot with it.
    3. What do you think of toy guns? Won't let my kids have them. I think it's idiotic that we live in a country where when a kid gets shot because he was carrying a plastic toy rifle, we ban the plastic toy rifle rather than the real one the police thought he was carrying, but that's how it is. My kids can turn Legos and sticks into guns when they feel like it, though, despite being the child of a registered conscientious objector and having been kept away from violent cartoons as small children. I don't think toy guys make kids grow up violent; this entire culture contributes to that.
    4. When is the last time you asked for forgiveness? I don't remember. Certainly Yom Kippur.
    5. Your favorite Aerosmith song: "Walk This Way" I guess...really anything besides "Dream On" which I have despised for decades!

    : Time Capsules
    1. If you could go back and relive one moment or day from your life, without changing anything, what would you re-experience?
    My wedding.
    2. If you could witness a moment in history, again without changing anything, what would you want to see? The Sermon on the Mount, if it happened, and the audience reaction.
    3. If you could talk to a younger version of yourself, what age would you visit and what message would you give? Eighteen, and tell myself that the fact that I was in love with someone who shall remain nameless was a good thing, not a bad one.
    4. If you could choose one moment that would be guaranteed to happen in your future, what would it be and when would it happen? I wouldn't. I'm too superstitious to try to tempt fate that way.
    5. Pretend you left a time capsule for yourself 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years ago. You just opened it. What three things from your past are you now holding and what age were you when you buried them? See, this is why I am a pack rat...I HAVE pretty much all the objects from 20 years ago that I still want.

    I'm very sleepy and going to Farpoint on Saturday to interview Harve Bennett and Penny Johnson -- have no idea what to ask the former as he has been asked every Star Trek question under the sun already, can't wait to meet the latter (I interviewed her one before, over the telephone, but who could resist Sherry Palmer in person...Kasidy Yates I mean!) Will be at my in-laws the rest of the long weekend and likely not reachable except in the evenings. Have a great President's Day, people in the US!

    From the last Hanover trip, Ski Liberty seen from Gettysburg.

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    Poem for Friday

    The Steggie
    Traditional, Adapted By Jennifer Cutting

    Oh there was an old wifey at the top of yon hill
    And the green leaves so green-o
    She keeps her housey where you get your fill
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    She keeps her house o’ the Broadwood ale
    Green leaves so green-o
    And her bonny servant lassie for to carry it all
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    A bonny soldier laddie on the very next night
    And the green leaves so green-o
    She’s called for a beaker of the broadwood ale
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    He’s called for a beaker and called for another
    Green leaves so green-o
    And the soldier and the lassie they got bedded down together
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    She’s put her hand all on his leg
    (instrumental response)
    Saying fat as that like a hardwood peg
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    It is my steggie that I ride on
    (instrumental response)
    And my wallet is for keepin’ all my confidences in
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    And he’s put his hand all on her thigh
    (instrumental response)
    Saying fat as that like the tits on a swine
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    It is my wellie that I draw frae
    (instrumental response)
    You can water your steggie in it if you may
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    And what if my steggie it should fall in
    And the green leaves so green-o
    You can aye grab a hand on the breadth of the brim
    And you know very well what I mean-o

    He’s put in his steggie so plump and fat
    Green leaves so green-o
    And he’s pulled it out again like a half-drowned rat
    And you know very well what I mean-o


    Sorry about the bawdy lyrics. *g* Am just back from Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra which was minus Grace Griffith, who was at her sister's wedding, but which had a special treat -- Bob Hitchcock! Which means that, with Jennifer, Lisa Moscatiello and Rico Petruccelli already on the stage, we saw 4/5 of the original New St. George! (The tragicomic history of that very highly acclaimed US-British folk-rock group is here.) They did "The Steggie", "Our Captain Cried 'All Hands'", "The Mermaid"...a Breton version of "The Water Is Wide"...most of the songs on Ocean including "Forgiveness" which I have only heard Maddy Prior sing before, "The Sands of Time" which may still be the most beautiful song I have ever heard (I like Lisa's version better than Grace's, forgive me), "My Grief on the Sea", "Song for the Night Sea Journey" (the one based on "Jupiter" from Holst's The Planets)..."Venus"...several reels and hornpipes, bagpipe solos, some excellent guitar and bass solos...all in all a really lovely evening. (There is an interview with Cutting in last week's Washington Post if anyone else is geeking out as much as I am!)

    Instruments onstage before the concert at Blackrock Center for the Arts. Four people played three guitars, two bass guitars, two different mandolins, button accordion, bouzouki, keyboard, whistles...and that's not counting the the percussionist, fiddler (he brought two instruments) or three varieties of bagpipes played by the piper.

    Otherwise I spent my day trying to get organized so I could go out tonight -- parents babysat the kids, we ate in Germantown (soup and sandwiches, really good) so we could get good seats in the general admission theater. I was originally supposed to have lunch with but by the time we were both out of the shower, it was going to be late and hectic so we postponed. I wrote articles on Manny Coto and Chase Masterson yakking about how they want Star Trek fans to continue to spend money on their new projects remain faithful to the cause, and how Shatner will sing and show off on the debut of Living In TV Land.

    sent me an e-mail asking me to record Valmont on some very high-number cable channel. I have not watched that film in years, at least since I wrote an article on Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Dangerous Liaisons, Valmont and Cruel Intentions for GMR, and I couldn't remember how long it was, so I turned it on after about an hour to see how much was left. And I ended up totally riveted. This has never been my favorite adaptation of that source material, though really, I love the novel so much that not even Christopher Hampton's play really lived up to it for me (and sorry, Mr. Rickman, I didn't see it in London), and I have issues with all the variant endings.

    In the book it's impossible to know exactly what happens, because the entire novel is told in letters and the least-trustworthy narrator (the one who is always absolutely clueless) has the last word. Hampton's play assumed that the Marquise ended up fine but the shadow of the guillotine fell across the stage. His screenplay for Dangerous Liaisons assumed the Marquise was healthy but miserable and the other women suffered terrible fates. Cruel Intentions let the Tourvel character off the hook and Cecile to some extent, but not Merteuil. But Valmont lets all the women off the hook! Despite the fact that the movie bears the male protagonist's name, it's probably the most feminist version. There's no implication that he should have been saved by the love of a good woman or that he was brought down by a bad one. He makes his own bed. I don't think anyone can top Glenn Close's performance in Dangerous Liaisons but there's really a lot to love in Valmont.

    And Scott Hamilton, you have an Olympic gold medal for one reason only: because Brian Orser couldn't skate figures for crap. So despite being the first man to land a triple axel in Olympic competition, beating you soundly in the short and long program, he couldn't overcome his deficit from the earliest stages that Olympic skaters are no longer required to perform. So shut up already. Although if Dick Button is the alternative, never mind...I'd rather listen to you than him. Where is Brian Orser anyway? Can we have him as a commentator?

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Poem for Thursday

    To the Smell of Water
    By W.S. Merwin

    But is it really you
    behind the pretenses
    beyond dust and distances
    beneath the salt and the siren
    announcements and ancient
    impurities and decays
    that claim to be you

    we have thought we knew you
    emerging around us
    as we came to the lake
    and racing by us
    as we listened to the river
    and reminding us
    from the ends of the streets
    and waving across the boardwalk
    and along the sand
    and hovering above the clear glass

    as a child I ran to you
    with a pounding heart
    and out in the desert
    the camel turns to you
    and the rain at night
    falls through you

    yet it is said that none
    of the breaths that we
    believe to be you
    is really your own
    for you have none
    that is yours alone

    and what we take to be
    you is only
    what is told about you
    while you remain
    apart from it like our days
    our nights our years


    Wednesday I paid for having a life Tuesday by having to write hours' worth of news bullets plus an obit of Andreas Katsulas (who deserved better than two sources) and some schlock in which Bryan Singer says he might sorta be interested maybe in directing Trek XI if and when possibly there is another Trek movie...dragging stuff like that out into five paragraphs is sometimes harder than condensing a long interview. But in better news, I caught up on comments! Other than the ones I got tonight while watching "Metamorphosis" so I can review it Friday (I can't watch it tomorrow night, as we have tickets to see Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra), I have answered that whole massive backlog! Whoo! And I took a walk in the nearly 60-degree weather that has melted nearly all the snow already.

    Otherwise it was a quiet day...got quite a bit of writing done, technically finished Lupercalia fic in time for the holiday but it needs beta-ing before posting, updated my web pages, had a really fun plotty thread going in , read some more of that book of Harry Potter essays I am reviewing for GMR, ate way too much leftover Valentine's Day candy (I almost wrote Halloween, that should tell you something about what this holiday has turned into) and read half of Mr. Popper's Penguins aloud to younger son because he was in the mood for being read to, even though he is perfectly capable of reading the book himself. Haven't read it in years and was howling -- older son, who was depressed about something that happened in his Runescape game, was listening too and laughing. (I keep calling it Mr. Potter's Penguins and I keep calling Captain Cook "Captain Kirk" -- not sure if this is senility or too damn much time in fandom!)

    Does anyone know where I can find a downloadable/burn-able version of "Cheney's Got a Gun" as recorded by that Seattle deejay? There seem to be a couple of versions around but I heard that one on the radio -- the one with the lyrics about Cindy Sheehan and Scooter Libby -- and thought it was really well done. That is definitely a keeper.

    Today would have been my mother's mother's 100th birthday. (She kept working into her 80s, taking the subway from Brooklyn to Manhattan every day.) Here is a photo taken nearly that long ago of her with her mother. I am betting that I am not the only person on LiveJournal with a relative named Goldie Horowitz.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Poem for Wednesday

    The Thought-Fox
    By Ted Hughes

    I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
    Something else is alive
    Beside the clock’s loneliness
    And this blank page where my fingers move.

    Through the window I see no star:
    Something more near
    Though deeper within darkness
    Is entering the loneliness:

    Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
    A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
    Two eyes serve a movement, that now
    And again now, and now, and now

    Sets neat prints into the snow
    Between trees, and warily a lame
    Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
    Of a body that is bold to come

    Across clearings, an eye,
    A widening deepening greenness,
    Brilliantly, concentratedly,
    Coming about its own business

    Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
    It enters the dark hole of the head.
    The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
    The page is printed.


    My Valentine's Day was busy but fun. came home for lunch because we realized this was the only time we were likely to be alone most of the day -- he brought California Tortilla and Dove chocolate. Gave me a rather personal card that I shall not scan but it had a dirty joke with a reference to Master and Commander, heh. Also he made me one of his infamous mix CDs -- this one with sailing-themed songs to go with the joke in the card -- everything from The Love Boat theme to "Come Sail Away" to Christopher Cross to "Wooden Ships to Jimmy Buffett to the Grateful Dead to John Denver to "In the Navy." *g* And he got me Mr. & Mrs. Smith, mostly because I asked for it last weekend and he happened to be in Best Buy, I think! I got him a book of illustrations from Wagner's Ring and more chocolate.

    I worked in younger son's class at the party this afternoon, which was insane as all school parties are. I am not sure whether I have kept up with the Classroom Saga here -- the entire fourth and fifth grades are in portable classrooms at his school, and his has been infested with mold, and while thankfully he has not shown any allergy signs, his teacher and a couple of students have missed lots of days of school because their allergies are so aggravated...so they have moved into the reading specialist's classroom for the rest of the year, but the reading specialist has not moved her stuff out yet so they are completely smushed into half a room. It's completely insane and I would be bitching to the county, except that at this point I would rather them spend money on the middle schools which are also overcrowded, as I will soon have no child left in elementary school. This is the legacy of a governor who chose a football stadium to be used for eight games a year over our schools...see why I don't really give a shit whether the Ravens ever win?

    I rushed through two articles in the afternoon (even more on the upcoming Star Trek video game which I have written more stories about than any other topic since the beginning of the year, even Shatner and Stewart, and Robert Duncan McNeill directing some pilot), while burning CDs for family members since we had dinner with my parents and uncle. I had told mother to please not buy me candy since I feared, correctly, that I would already be getting more than I knew what to do with; she obeyed and gave me a pair of very pretty earrings instead, so I am quite happy. The kids have chocolate coming out their ears and younger son also brought home a Halloween-sized pile of loot from school!

    Watched the men's short program distracted waiting for Boston Legal, which I wouldn't miss for anything short of Torvill and Dean's miraculous return. There was a time when I would have commented passionately on each and every skating event, but I can't begin to fathom the new skating system and while I agree that the Chinese couple who won the silver in pairs were extremely brave and passionate, I don't understand how a routine with such a major bobble can finish in second place ahead of some extremely fine and clean performances...this year's pairs didn't impress me all that much to begin with, but I haven't passionately followed any of them so I didn't feel strongly, and it's the same with the men. And the women. And the ice dance, which stopped making any sense to me when, you know, actual dancing stopped rating in the program. I'm glad the Russian guy can do fifty revolutions in a single program and can I have John Curry and Toller Cranston back now? I am old, I guess.

    But BL! Cracks at Bush, DeLay and the Supreme Court this week! Once again a totally insane storyline (Bev's cat custody dispute) balanced out an interesting human interest and a passionate political storyline. I know I am always going on about Denny and Alan, with good reason, so may I just note for a moment that if Shatner and Spader left the show, I would still watch for Shirley and Denise? Both of whom I like separately, but I particularly like how often they are working together now -- how Shirley is mentoring Denise in a kind of tough-love style that seems very true to both their characters.

    It helps of course that Shirley and Denise had the case that of course was going to have me gnashing my teeth -- I felt badly for the little girl who couldn't smile, but at the same time, if one of my kids had a disability like that, I couldn't buy his way into an exclusive prep school, with or without a high-octane lawyer; she was a very wealthy and privileged pampered educated spoiled sad little girl, and while it's true that no amount of money can buy acceptance, very few kids feel truly accepted at her age...I sat and watched all the forms of torment fourth graders turn upon each other all afternoon, and one kid my son tells me is popular sat and cried over some crisis involving his ice cream. Sure, I'd do what her mother did if I could -- we'd all do whatever we thought was the best for our kids, I think -- but I didn't really warm to anyone involved in that story, though Alan was fun ranting about the snobs.

    This was of course a really small-time storyline next to the refusal of the Catholic doctor to administer emergency contraception to a rape victim who asked for it, and I was fuming and ranting. Shirley had another great closing but I was really angry she didn't press harder after the doctor shut her down with the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" quote (when someone cites Catholic history as a reason for denying a woman emergency contraception, I want to sit them down and make them read every volume on the Inquisition and the Crusades in print -- if you don't believe in emergency contraception, by all means don't take it, but go study my murdered ancestors before you start oppressing non-Catholics in this century in the name of Catholic history and the sanctity of life!) I LOVED the final scene, which starts with Denise and Shirley talking on one balcony about that thing that almost never happens on television even though the media is supposedly so outrageously liberal, according to the various "focus on the family" autocrats: "She's having an abortion while it's still legal." The alternative, points out Shirley, is likely a custody battle with your rapist. "It's always been about power."

    And she and Denise toast one another while one balcony over, Denny asks Alan to please shoot him if he is ever being kept alive by a machine. Alan says he'd pull the plug but that's not a good enough ending for Denny, who is not reassured by Alan's promise that someone in Boston surely wants to kill Denny badly enough to bring the gun. "I'd shoot you! I want to be shot by someone who cares for me!" Denny objects. "You Democrat! Protesting wars, banning guns...nobody would ever shoot anybody and then where would we be!" This after announcing that lawyers should just pretend they won cases because pretending he won worked for the president. And Spader using DeLay as an example of an overrated smile! Okay, so my very favorite moment was still Denny pulling a coin out of Alan's ear, trying to crack him up. Doesn't he realize that Alan's pupils were dilated and he couldn't smile or he'd have started hyperventilating? ...okay, okay, but it's true.

    These Valentine bags came home stuffed with little cards and lots of candy.

    Here's a game to pick up candy hearts with chopsticks -- first person to get all 20 into the container wins.

    Even the boys worked on the decorated containers, though the boys objected to the pink "LOVE" stickers.

    And what's a party without ice cream? (See what I mean about how overcrowded the classroom is right now?)

    Front of Valentine from younger son.

    Happy Lupercalia! I will see whether my lovely partner and I can provide werewolves before it is over. Meanwhile, The People Who Know Everything may want to note that despite their repeatedly Knowing Everything, The Leaky Cauldron says that Oldman STILL hasn't signed a contract for OOTP. Let's hope it's just a technicality and then The People Who Know Everything can say they told me so and I won't even care.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Poem for Tuesday

    Called Back
    By Michelle Mitchell-Foust

            580 Main, Amherst

    I understood
    those lines about birds.

    I heard your house
    from the other side,

    its ice dropping
    from the windows

    and thawing
    onto the slabs of ice

    already slipped
    off the porch.

    At the foot of
    the economy car,

    the pinecone thawed
    in my pocket, sister

    of the little ones
    at your grave.


    I smelled the sap
    on my hands

    before I saw it--
    black from the lining

    in my pocket--
    even the plant's fingers

    dozed off
    in the cold--

    the idols of thought
    frozen at the knob,

    and I asked you--to myself
    if we were relatives.


    For some, discipline
    is taking things away.

    For some, it's adding.
    Emily, I always add.

    Just like the man
    in your window,

    putting on his heavy coat.
    Your voice in his ear

    the frequency
    of the human heart.


    Oh your great heart-
    colored house lying still--

    oh your great green shutter
    hanging off its hinge

    at the wet window
    where a man puts on his coat.

    Like the air
    up under the coat,

    the famous trees
    cut loose

    in a gesture
    worthy of silence.


    Another by this poet now that I have discovered her. (We had the ice dropping from the windows today.) The way the word "grave" bursts in at the end of the first section and shatters the poem into a different one. Wow.

    Further proof that Intelligent Design is a stupid theory: menstrual cramps.

    Snow day today; kids did lots of sledding and snow fort building, I watched and took pictures from a distance to avoid snowballs. Younger son had a friend over most of the day because friend's mother had to take her newborn to the doctor for a bad rash, older son spent part of the day at a friend's after a war with me over the homework I made him finish first. Spent part of the morning taping chocolate hearts to younger son's class Valentines which he resisted addressing; then remembered that one child in his class has a peanut allergy and another has a lactose allergy, so had to go find safe popsicles for them. Wrote two of three articles, not by midnight GMT but given the amount of coming and going and the numbers of laundry generated by sledding children, was still impressed with myself.

    And for background fun while working, sons wanted to watch Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, younger son to see the whales, older son to see the nuclear wessels. Who am I to deny my children Star Trek, ever? "Double dumb-ass on you!" Meanwhile, look: even the baby panda likes snow!

    Last night's sunset as we drove to my parents' house.

    A view up my parents' street at twilight.

    One of my kids sleds down a hill while the other climbs up it.

    This last photo belongs to the Smithsonian from the link above, but I include it for posterity for the adorable factor.

    Secret admirers and ! Thank you for my chocolates and my roses! And , thank you for my books! Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Poem for Monday

    Us in the Dark Wandering Home
    By Michelle Mitchell-Foust

        Falcarragh, Ireland
            For Kevin and Pam

    I found the Aristotle paraphrases
    of Albertus Magnus, and the milky way
    was certainly full of stars. I couldn't stop
    reading the revision of Magnus saying the lunar
    rainbow appeared to him twice in one year,
    not the once-in-fifty-years of Aristotle.
    I have only seen the lunar rainbow once in a lifetime,
    over the high bog of an ancient gravesite
    lit by a ringed moon. The whole thing
    with a small rain.

    It was midnight and the arch was black
    and every color, and the new burros and sheep
    made such a racket instead of sleeping
    that we knew we were seeing something profound
    among the sock puppet headstones
    in the deep August light, us wondering whether
    the souls of the layers of the dead beneath us warmed
    to the rain under the phenomenon,
    us in the dark wandering home.


    Another from Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in Sunday's The Washington Post Book World. He calls this "a poem more candidly of wonder -- also in response to an unusual natural light, also urbane and learned, and also with a personal component -- [from] Imago Mundi, a recent book by the American poet Michelle Mitchell-Foust."

    We got nine inches of snow, all told, and woke to a gorgeous world iced in white. The sun came out for a while and melted some of it, then the sky clouded over and flurried for awhile, then the sun came out again in the evening...so now we have ice, power lines in trouble and school closed tomorrow because parts of the county have no electricity and plenty of traffic problems. My kids are not terribly devastated. *G* They went sledding first in the yard here, then behind my junior high school. In the late afternoon after I wrote the articles I didn't write yesterday, we went over to my parents' for dinner and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy which neither of my parents nor my uncle had ever seen. I know it's not faithful to the books but I still adore that movie. ("I could tell you the odds, but you won't like them.") Younger son sang "So Long And Thanks For All the Fish" and recited half the movie before it happened -- he adores this film.

    It's early Monday and I still haven't done the Friday Fives. this week is about what five villains have been so overused that I never want to see them again; I'm not sure whether this is about types or specific characters but as I don't read comic books or see all the movies based on them, which is where the overused-villain syndrome seems most acute, I can't really think of any (I mean, I'm certainly not sick of Cardassians or Napoleon). this week is about belief in God, whether good and evil exist, what forgiveness is and what I'd do if I played God. If I thought these questions could be answered seriously in the space of a nightly journal entry, I'd be very depressed. Which brings us to :

    1. Can you dance?
    Terribly, but does that really matter? I like to dance.
    2. Who is your current crush? Hah!
    3. Tell us about a dream you remember. The most recent one I remember in any detail was about my family going with my parents and my in-laws on a trip to Australia where my father was convinced we were going to be late for everything because of the time change and failure to set our watches correctly.
    4. Do you live with anyone, or do you live by yourself? Husband, two sons, two cats, two gerbils.
    5. When is the last time you bled from an injury? When I was viciously bitten by one of the aforementioned gerbils.

    To quote , "So, Vice President Cheney shot someone while hunting. Why couldn't it have been Scalia?" And on that bitchy note, I shall go to bed! Have a happy Tu B'Shvat. I don't suppose I will be planting any trees tomorrow, but they look very pretty with the snow on them.

    Saturday, February 11, 2006

    Poem for Saturday

    The Snow Man
    By Wallace Stevens

    One must have a mind of winter
    To regard the frost and the boughs
    Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

    And have been cold a long time
    To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
    The spruces rough in the distant glitter

    Of the January sun; and not to think
    Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
    In the sound of a few leaves,

    Which is the sound of the land
    Full of the same wind
    That is blowing in the same bare place

    For the listener, who listens in the snow,
    And, nothing himself, beholds
    Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


    A poem in honor of the weekend weather forecast. Okay, so it will be the February sun; we didn't have the junipers shagged with ice in January. Anything I need to do that involves driving on Saturday has to be completed by noon, it sounds like!

    Friday I had to write a review of "I, Mudd", an episode I love. Why was trying to review it like pulling teeth? I mean, it's funny! It's not offensive in the way that "Mudd's Women" is. It has some totally classic Kirk lines about Mudd's criminal history, the scene with Chekov and Uhura dancing while Scotty and McCoy fake playing musical instruments, the fake explosion, Spock saying "I love you; however, I hate you" to a pair of twin androids, and genuinely BITCHY Kirk snarking, "I am not programmed to respond in that area" to an android begging for his help. There's no real sci-fi, but that isn't a rarity for Star Trek. I could only squeeze out five mediocre paragraphs. My brain just would not come online.

    I blame Cinnamon, who decided to breep in my ear at five a.m. and I never properly fell back asleep since I had to get up early anyway. I spent most of the day at home, except for a long walk in the neighborhood in the gorgeous high-30s late morning, and dinner at my parents' with my uncle (mother's brother) who is visiting from New York and is the only member of my family who knows about this journal (not counting my husband and my kids, the latter of whom can't see flocked stuff). In between I did lots of tagging on and had a great time. And it was rather plotty gen, which is something I almost never write!

    At night we all watched the Olympic opening ceremonies, with varying degrees of distraction -- took all the scrolling snow emergency warnings to heart and ran out to the food store to make sure we didn't run out of milk or toilet paper, younger son read aloud to me from this book about penguins which he had gotten out of the library -- it has lots of illustrations and I would have quite enjoyed it had I not been trying to listen to the disco hits being played during the parade of nations. The host country definitely won the coolest coats contest and I loved both the design of the torch and the lighting ceremony, as well as the trapeze artists and the wall-climbers who made the dove pattern. Not too sure about the people dancing with the cows. *g* But they got Pavarotti to sing "Nessun Dorma" and while I don't think Peter Gabriel's will ever be the definitive "Imagine," I loved the choral arrangements.

    Pigeons sit on a rope near sunset on the USS Torsk at the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

    Can't South Dakota secede from the freakin' Union? It can take the national parks. Yes, I'm kidding, but only just barely. I'm very, very angry. And I'm so glad I did house-cleaning and pissed off the anti-choice bigots on my list last year so I don't have to read what they're saying now. If anyone has recently friended me, be warned that I have zero tolerance for the bloody lie that calls itself "pro-life," and simpering about how you're a nice, loving person while you're trying to shove your private convictions into the laws of the United States will only make me gag at your hypocrisy. Women die when we fail to support one another's legal reproductive choices, whether they're the choices we'd make personally or not. And I am really sick of having my religious beliefs spat upon by those who are certain that their beliefs are better.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    Poem for Friday

    It Was Raining In Delft
    By Peter Gizzi

    A cornerstone. Marble pilings. Curbstones and brick.
    I saw rooftops. The sun after a rain shower.
    Liz, there are children in clumsy jackets. Cobblestones
             and the sun now in a curbside pool.
    I will call in an hour where you are sleeping. I’ve been walking
             for 7 hrs on yr name day.
    Dead, I am calling you now.
    There are colonnades. Yellow wrappers in the square.
    Just what you’d suspect: a market with flowers and matrons,
    Beauty walks this world. It ages everything.
    I am far and I am an animal and I am just another I-am poem,
             a we-see poem, a they-love poem.
    The green. All the different windows.
    There is so much stone here. And grass. So beautiful each
             translucent electric blade.
    And the noise. Cheers folding into traffic. These things.
             Things that have been already said many times:
    leaf, zipper, sparrow, lintel, scarf, window shade.


    Am writing this while listening to the opening song from Caddyshack so if I get silly, that's why. *G* "You were in the war?" "Ah. No. Homo. All better now, though." Had a very nice day -- lunch with birthday girl in Gaithersburg, where The Walnut Tree is regrettably going out of business, but fortunately selling all their jewelry at 25% off (and my favorite American Tarot artist, Kris Waldherr, will be reading and signing there on Saturday at 1 p.m., though we are supposed to be blanketed in snow by then!) and I bought rings and ate Japanese food, then walked over to Whole Foods, which had enough samples that I could have eaten lunch just circling the store three times swiping cheese, fruit and gingerbread as I passed. Tomorrow I have to live on tea and yogurt to make up for all the sodium I had today but I am not sorry!

    Spent the afternoon with my lovely children trying to get them to do their homework despite whatever new thing AdventureQuest had, recorded Chinatown without being able to watch it because no way was that going on with kids in the house. After dinner we watched Smallville, which I really did not like much -- I don't like the ghost horror movie cliches upon which it was based. And once again Clark had to show up even though it was to be nearly useless when the women could have rescued themselves! Why did Clark have to be involved -- since we knew there was Kryptonite already, why not have him fall down in the doorway and let Chloe and Lois do it all? I liked seeing a Chloe-centric episode that did not center on Clark in any way, but except for the ending, it didn't really center on her either...she was possessed so much of the time.

    At least this week she didn't have to parrot a television commercial though. It took me until this article to remember why I didn't want talk about last week's Smallville right after it was on -- I was so mad about the product placement crap. I was embarrassed for Allison Mack and for the show. Anyway, tonight's episode was worth watching for 1) Lovely Lionel comforting Martha, again -- he needs to do that in much closer proximity, without so many clothes in the way -- and 2) "A close friend, someone you trust more than anyone in the world...it's hard to see them like this." Oh, Lex, the guilt trip! You just can't let go of the love!

    One last photo from the National Aquarium: Spirit swims upside down in the dolphin tank with her squeaky frog on her belly.

    I know I had stuff to say -- and I talked about the tomb found in the Valley of the Kings and my cousin and I talked about Heath Ledger's house in Australia being for sale in case we decide to run away from the United States and mysteriously come into several million dollars and Libby told us what we already knew. But I have to get up very, very early tomorrow since has a very early meeting, so I shall catch up then.

    And from Caddyshack: "Doody! Doody!" "I almost got head from Amelia Earhart!" "That must be the tea!" I am ten!

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Poem for Thursday

    Poems, Potatoes
    By Sylvia Plath

    The word, defining, muzzles; the drawn line
    Ousts mistier peers and thrives, murderous,
    In establishments which imagined lines

    Can only haunt. Sturdy as potatoes,
    Stones, without conscience, word and line endure,
    Given an inch. Not that they're gross (although

    Afterthought often would have them alter
    To delicacy, to poise) but that they
    Shortchange me continuously: whether

    More or other, they still dissatisfy.
    Unpoemed, unpictured, the potato
    Bunches its knobby browns on a vastly
    Superior page; the blunt stone also.h received
    and renders nothing back.


    Am half-asleep after Grammy show that seemed endless but at least it seemed like lots of music performances this year and almost no awards...I felt like they cut it down to ten televised awards and performing spots for everyone the major labels are pushing. (How Kelly Clarkson beat Bonnie Raitt is something no one will ever, ever, ever be able to explain to me, so I will just take it as yet another sign of the apocalypse.) McCartney looked good, Bono still loves the sound of his own voice, I love Faith Hill even if she is shamelessly pop, my son was thrilled Green Day won. I must admit that I prefer the Oscars, Tonys and Emmys.

    This morning my husband discovered that Ian McKellen's Richard III was on, and I meant only to record it but I ended up watching it while I was doing chores...then I went out to lunch with and the aforementioned , who asked me to record Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which we don't actually own on DVD. So I made watch it with me, and oh, that movie has not dated AT ALL and is still SO GOOD and I was reciting along with all the good lines, which are far too many to list here, and I got all choked up at the end even though I have 1) seen it 30 times and 2) know what happens in the sequel! Shatner gives a really lovely performance -- I'd forgotten about the scene with McCoy and the glasses, and the one with Scotty's nephew in sickbay -- and it was so poignant to see Carol and David, both of whom are played by actors no longer with us.

    And then, in the evening, after writing a funnier than it should have been TrekToday article on a British guy who rebuilt his flat to look like the interior of a starship but is now broke, we stumbled across To Catch a Thief. Grace Kelly is one of my favorite guilty pleasures -- quite possibly the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, even though she has the whole stereotypically blonde Irish Catholic aristicratic royalty thing going and you'd think after I griped about this in King Kong I should have more politically correct attractions or something. Heh. Anyway, that movie holds up magnificently too. "Do you want a leg or a breast?" "You make the choice."

    Yeah, it was a pop culture indulgence kind of day. Oops. *g*

    Sharks in the great circular Open Ocean tank at the National Aquarium. In the water below the tank you can make out rays in the Wings in the Water pool, where there are also small sharks and a sea turtle.