Friday, March 31, 2006

Poem for Saturday

Chorus from 'Atalanta in Calydon'
By A.C. Swinburne

Before the beginning of years,
    There came to the making of man
Time, with a gift of tears;
    Grief, with a glass that ran;
Pleasure, with pain for leaven;
    Summer, with flowers that fell;
Remembrance fallen from heaven,
    And madness risen from hell;
Strength without hands to smite;
    Love that endures for a breath;
Night, the shadow of light,
    And life, the shadow of death.
And the high gods took in hand
    Fire, and the falling of tears,
And a measure of sliding sand
    From under the feet of the years;
And froth and drift of the sea;
    And dust of the laboring earth;
And bodies of things to be
    In the houses of death and birth;
And wrought with weeping and laughter,
    And fashioned with loathing and love,
With life before and after,
    And death below and above,
For a day and a night and a morrow,
    That his strength might endure for a span,
With travail and heavy sorrow,
    The holy spirit of man.
From the winds of the north and the south,
    They gathered as unto strife;
They breathed upon his mouth,
    They filled his body with life;
Eyesight and speech they wrought
    For the veils of the soul therein,
A time for labor and thought,
    A time to serve and to sin;
They gave him light in his ways,
    And love, and a space for delight,
And beauty and length of days,
    And night, and sleep in the night.
His speech is a burning fire;
    With his lips he travaileth;
In his heart is a blind desire,
    In his eyes foreknowledge of death;
He weaves, and is clothed with derision;
    Sows, and he shall not reap;
His life is a watch or a vision
    Between a sleep and a sleep.


The kids had no school today but spent much of the afternoon at a friend's house (spending this lovely day mostly indoors playing video games, graaar), while I wrote a review of "The Trouble With Tribbles" (have I mentioned that you can download, for free, an Acrobat eBook of David Gerrold's The Making of 'The Trouble With Tribbles' here?) And I have apparently completely converted my children, because tonight after Shabbat dinner which we did ourselves as my parents were out, they wanted to watch "Descent"! So we have now watched all the TNG episodes I own on DVD -- the rest of the Borg set has Voyager episodes, and the Borg Voyager episodes are NOT my favorites as they all involve Seven of Nine. I see that I need to pull out our very old, very poor, off-the-TV videotapes. And while I'm in geek mode, I may as well say how much I am loving Doctor Who, though I am so frustrated "Aliens of London" ended with a cliffhanger!

Poor Rose -- home to see Mum after what she thinks is 12 hours but is actually 12 months. Mickey has been accused of murdering her, her mum won't believe anything she says about where she's been, and just when Rose is thinking that mum may be right that 900 years is one hell of an age gap, a spaceship with a loud horn flies overhead, crashes into Big Ben and lands in the Thames! (And there are lovely shots of Tower Bridge, the Gherkin, the Eye and all the lovely sites that made me nostalgic during Match Point and apparently show up in Basic Instinct II which not even David Thewlis can tempt me to see but I digress.) Apparently first contact is supposed to have the same effect in the Doctorverse as the Trekiverse, making the human race grow up. "You don't need me," the Doctor tells Rose, advising her to celebrate history and go spend some time with her mum. He gives her a TARDIS key just in case and promises to see her later. (And again, speaking of David Thewlis in a much more marginal fannish way, I love that someone has spray painted BAD WOLF on the side of the TARDIS.)

I am sure Brits get more out of the humor of the poor rural MP trying to get her hospital proposal before the PM, whom she doesn't realize has been abducted by Evil Aliens, but we still thought it was pretty funny. "By all the saints, get some perspective, woman!" shouts the acting PM, who is, of course, an Evil Alien in disguise -- they can be recognized by their uncontrolled flatulence (which amused my children greatly). The Doc gets himself at the head of the military team summoned when the "alien" in the morgue returns from the dead, but it turns out to be a modified pig, which the Doctor describes to Rose as a mermaid like the ones we saw at various nautical museums last summer at the beach...a head stuck in the wrong body, a fake. Meanwhile Rose, who is insisting to Mickey that the Doctor is not her boyfriend -- he's better than that -- uses the key the Doctor gave her to summon the TARDIS and drags her domestic problems onto the ship. Thanks to Rose's mum's police report, Rose and the Doctor are escorted to 10 Downing Street, though of course it's a trap, and Mum is visited by an alien disguised as an official, so they are all cornered by Evil Aliens when the Evil Aliens decide it's time to reveal their secret Evil Alien Plans and unzip their human skins to reveal that they look like Evil ETs with black Puss in Boots eyes and big claws!

Again, I love the interaction between the female characters -- how Rose instantly believes Harriet Jones and tries to help when the poor MP bursts into tears, and how real Rose and her mum's interaction is despite the absolute absurdity of the situation, with Rose missing and believed dead for months and then her mother unable to be grateful she's back until she's done screaming that Rose is a liar and probably a tramp! And Mickey doesn't do anything rash now that he knows the Doctor can get the sports channel to watch football. Doc's best line ever, so far: "Do you mind not farting?" And it's a CLIFFHANGER! Which would frustrate me, but having just rewatched the two Next Generation season-enders that left Picard with the Borg all summer, I suppose I can wait a week, especially since it's clear from the previews that the Doctor survives the alien electrocution effect.

: Perfect
1. Name one of your flaws:
Saying "yup" to my kids when I'm not really paying attention to what they're nattering on about because I'm distracted by something else.
2. Have you ever won first place? Yes. College writing contest. More than once, actually.
3. Who is the last person to make you smile? My son, two minutes ago when he explained that for his birthday he wanted to adopt one of the penguins at the Baltimore Zoo and get a stuffed penguin, certificate, photo of his penguin, etc.
4. Describe a time when you should have tried harder: When my friend Karen was dying of cystic fibrosis in Chicago and I was on vacation in Bar Harbor with my family, and I assumed there was just no way I could get there in time to see her. I could have -- it would have sabotaged the family vacation, which was what I was worried about, but I could have talked to her one last time.
5. What are you good at? Daydreaming. Appreciating art. Admiring the universe.

: The Boob Tube, The Silver Screen, & You
1. When you were little what was your favorite TV show?
Very little, Sesame Street; a little older, and for many, many years thereafter, Star Trek.
2. What was your favorite movie? The first one I ever obsessed over was Star Wars (which was then the one, the only, and had no subtitle). That came out when I was in fifth grade, I think? And before that it had been Singin' in the Rain.
3. What is your favorite TV show currently? Boston Legal.
4. What is the best movie you have seen so far this year? Brokeback Mountain.
5. If someone was going to make a movie or TV show about your life, who would play you and why? No one would ever make a movie or TV show about my life. No one famous is short enough to play me. Kristin Chenoweth might be close, but she'd have to become brunette and gain a bunch of weight and lose her ability to sing.

If Saturday is as gorgeous as today was, I expect to be out nearly all day at the Civil War reenactment and a park. And Sunday too -- we will brave the crowds to see the cherry blossoms! Hope everyone has a great weekend!

A nice happy spring photo from Boyd's Bear Country in Gettysburg -- the Watermelon Bear display.

Happy Birthday !!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poem for Friday

Done With
By Ann Stanford

My house is torn down--
Plaster sifting, the pillars broken,
Beams jagged, the wall crushed by the bulldozer.
The whole roof has fallen
On the hall and the kitchen
The bedrooms, the parlor.

They are trampling the garden--
My mother's lilac, my father's grapevine,
The freesias, the jonquils, the grasses.
Hot asphalt goes down
Over the torn stems, and hardens.

What will they do in springtime
Those bulbs and stems groping upward
That drown in earth under the paving,
Thick with sap, pale in the dark
As they try the unrolling of green.

May they double themselves
Pushing together up to the sunlight,
May they break through the seal stretched above them
Open and flower and cry we are living.


It's almost the weekend and it's almost the end of March and these both must be good things. I fought off a headache all day today -- I'm sure the pollen is largely responsible, it doesn't feel migraine-ish -- and am finally feeling clear-headed. Met spontaneously for lunch, which ended up being really nice even though it took the Corner Bakery half an hour to make two cold sandwiches and the manager griped at me when I went in to ask what was taking so long (one of the waitresses offered us free cookies as compensation but I am really unimpressed with the way the place is run). Then we went to Target and Barnes & Noble and now I have an earpiece so I can use my 600 whenever minutes without having to hold the phone up to my head. I tried to test the wi-fi on the phone in B&N but this one doesn't have a Starbucks, so it's on AT&T's network and it's not free! Still, I could surf B&N's web site really fast, so I am assuming it works. Must go to Borders (which sent me a 25% off coupon so I will be buying my next book there anyway) and test it there since the hot spot it T-Mobile's.

In the early evening younger son had soccer practice. I wrote a bunch of articles, reasonably interesting -- George Takei is speaking on GLBT tolerance at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, and Scott Bakula is still in DC doing Shenandoah at Ford's Theatre which I really wish I could afford to see on Good Friday, the night Lincoln was shot, since that is supposedly the best night to see the ghost. This weekend (weather cooperating) we are going to an American Revolution reenactment at Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, so it would only be appropriate to visit it on the day the school bearing his name plays in the Final Four. *waves to and smooches *

Tonight before watching "The Trouble With Tribbles," which of course we all enjoyed greatly, we watched the new unimproved Smallville where Lex hires mass murderers to fuck with Clark. In every sense of the word. My kids were embarrassed by the sex scene that was fortunately interrupted and so was I; something is wrong when someone burning down a warehouse with people in it bugs me less than gratuitous sex on a show. I mean, yay that Clark and Lana broke up Really For Real For Good this time (until sweeps month), but otherwise I enjoyed the Professor Fine-and-Lex parts of the episode much more than anything else. Even though I felt sorry for Simone and think it sucks that they killed her off so gratuitously, though I knew she was doomed when we found out she killed her father; on this show that was bound to be inexcusable, since it's Lionel's crime.

Okay, good points: Clark still has to be under mind control to be heterosexual. When he said he discovered from Simone that he really, truly does not want Lana, that's what I took it to mean, at least. Also, when Lex wants to know about Simone's progress and she says Lana won't be sending Clark any more Valentine cards, I expected current Lex to do a "YES!" because he wants Lana...but no, he blows off this information to demand to know what she knows about Clark! Simone says Clark is extraordinary kisser and Lex takes a long, deep breath before asking if there is more. He wants details about Clark in bed! But Simone says he's just what he looks like -- a farm boy -- and tells Lex to get out of her life. That was the moment at which I started to like her, so I knew right then that she was doomed.

But seriously, I can't enjoy Chloe when she runs around harping on how Clark needs to stay with Lana! Like, in five places this episode all she wanted to talk about was Lana, Lana, Lana! Which would be fine if she had a crush on Lana (though silly, when she could have a crush on Lois or even Martha), but since allegedly she has a crush on Clark...urgh. Okay, nice that she took out Martha when Martha was holding a gun on Lois but please, doesn't Lois ever get to use her kick-ass strength instead of being rescued by someone? And nice that she thought to bring the kryptonite to knock out Clark when he needed to be knocked out...for all his going on about how it's too dangerous to tell anyone his secret, Chloe is proof that he NEEDS to make sure someone he really trusts knows his secret, so that someone will be able to stop him when he gets under the influence of red kryptonite or mind control or whatever the next menace to come along might be.

If anyone needed proof that Clark and Lana do not belong together, Kristin Kreuk's apparent boredom while delivering the line, "I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that you don't love me," should be enough. I loved Martha suggesting that maybe Clark didn't want to tell her because maybe deep down he didn't think she was the one! Even if this goes against canon. Though then Martha had to deliver that bad line about how maybe he gave her reason to hate him and she hopes they don't all regret it. Bad foreshadowing anyone? Just like the ending when sinister Lex tells her not to feel stupid, she put her trust in the wrong person. I am kind of rooting for the X-Files rip-off black oil alien clones who look like James Marsters; at least he still has a sense of humor.

Ooh, but did you see that Michael Palin's book on his trek through India, Pakistan and China is about to become required reading in British high school geography classes? Monty Python teaches geography! "This graph represents one-quarter..."

Because I don't think I've ever posted a photo of Great Falls taken from between the towpath and Falls Island, before the bridge to Olmsted Island -- the whirlpool.

Kids have no school Friday and I have to write up my Tribbles review and do laundry. But Doctor Who is on at night!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Poem for Thursday

Viva Vox
By Doreen Gildroy

Every time I looked out the window,
there was a different kind of light.

I remember other things, of course
but it is the only thing
I felt in that blinding way.

In the pain, I said,
What is the happiness?

I've never been so pure,
I said...

felt it to open up —
the agony —
like the flower
precarious on the counter.


A poem about light because my day was made by a sunset, driving older son to his Bar Mitzvah tutoring -- the point right after the sun has actually crossed the horizon but it's being refracted, so that it looks three times its size and red and the clouds around it are every shade of red-orange-pink-purple. And although my street is still only half-flowered, as we only receive sun for part of the day, the streets between here and the Hebrew school are all lined with glorious blossoming trees. Not even sneezing can make me love this less -- I love the transitional seasons. And it's Rosh Chodesh, the new moon, the beginning of the Hebrew month of Nisan, so maybe I can declare the past month over! (Though with Jews like this, who needs enemies?) Kids are still in mourning for Aragorn and so am I, but hopefully things are calming down a little.

Not much news. Organized my camera cables. Wrote an article on John Billingsley based on one on a site in Australia, promptly got flamed by the writer who claimed that I had the site name wrong...if the site name is not what it says right there on the site with the article, how am I supposed to know that? Watched "I, Borg" with my kids, who apparently really liked "The Best of Both Worlds" and wanted more Next Gen! Who am I to deprive my children of Star Trek! Especially since tomorrow night we are watching "The Trouble With Tribbles" so I can review it and that's one of a handful of original series episodes they'd seen before I started reviewing; they've even seen "Trials and Tribbleations." Man, I'd forgotten how damn good the TNG Borg episodes were! And I answered lots and lots of comments. I know people are always saying that their friends lists rock, but my friends list really, really rocks. And I'm so sorry we all have so much of the same schtick going on. But I am really, really grateful for all the conversation and debate and shared interests. And I am sorry I am so freakin' behind!

Geese eating grass by the C&O Canal...

...and flying over the Potomac River.

Early morning tomorrow and younger son has soccer in the evening so no collapsing before reviewing. Has anyone here read Kate Mosse's Labyrinth? Is it good? Will I like it?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

The Song of 10
By Ellen Wehle

From the Romans' decem our decibels and decimal system, O tenfold
the sorrows of Israel, Decameron tales meant to be told over ten nights

in December, solstice month frozen in moondrifts of snow. Our fingers
and toes. Kingly ten-pointed stags reigning over Europe's greenwoods,

for miners a measure in tons of coal or type of tallow candle weighted
ten per pound, the legion poor mending by its light. What else is there

to say? Higher than nine. A number whose power is mighty to multiply,
comprising one and nil, wand and egg, gold spindle and heavenly wheel

of goddess Fate who turns time and tides; what our parents say summer
evenings, hearing our voices dart and flicker in neighboring yards before

we dance from them into darkness and love's rule ends -- I'll count to ten.


It's clear that I have whined beyond my allotment for this month, so I won't talk about my morning except to say that I downloaded all the manuals for my cameras from Nikon and Canon and put them in my MDA memory so that if I go out of town and have a camera question or problem, I will have the information right there without having to haul books along. Now I just need a downloadable guide to depth of field and things like that! Hubby sent me the news that Graceland has been designated a National Historic Landmark, just in time for our visit this summer, and my cousin sent photos of her baby who is now 8 months is really a shame that L.A. is so far away, though I have no desire to live there. Am amused about the Peep protest (bunnies being one thing, but people seem to be ignoring the "Happy Easter" sign aspect of the original display, though the protest seems civil and charming for once instead of the Christian Nation crap).

Kids had Hebrew in the afternoon, younger son still intermittently miserable, I spent a while rearranging the shelves our videotapes are on to make room for some DVDs (hubby not getting rid of VHS, mind you, just stacking it in all the corners of the basement), some laundry got put away. Where do people with multiple cameras keep all the USB cables, chargers, etc.? Seems silly to put it in camera bags when I don't want to schlep that stuff when I'm out of the house but I keep forgetting which cables go with which camera until I check the connectors. The piles of stuff next to my desk just keep growing and growing.

I have managed, finally, to get onto Paramount Home Video's reviewer list (only took me until the company was absorbed into CBS, heh) and they sent me the Borg Collective DVD set, so tonight we all watched both parts of "The Best of Both Worlds," which I haven't seen in I don't even know how long...might be nearly ten years. Video transfer isn't wonderful but oh, that episode hasn't aged at all. Peter David's New Frontier books are pretty much the last Trek novels that I follow -- I'm behind, but I love, love, love Shelby and it was so great to see her, and my recollection that she and Riker were really hot together remained true. After the demolished fleet shots during the Dominion War, the impact of Wolf 359 is not what it once was, but I remember when the episode was first shown and Shelby was watching the hulks float by in the graveyard, "The Tolstoy...the Kyushu...the Melbourne," how utterly chilling that was. Really, everyone is great in this episode -- Stewart, McFadden, definitely Frakes, and Deanna's "but how do you feel, Will" didn't bug me as much as it used to. I'm really glad they got married. Just about the only Trek couple who ended up the way I wanted them in the long run. Unless Shatner and Nimoy count. *snerk* Speaking of Shatner...Tuesday means Boston Legal, of course! Denny/Alan are the other "Trek" couple for whom I have plans, though I suspect they will be thwarted.

This week for instance Alan loses his mind a few times -- well, at least his command of language -- arguing a case about polluted ground water with a closing that degenerates into him talking about cheese. The doctor says he's suffering from acute anxiety, and when Alan tells Denny that he values his melancholy just like Abraham Lincoln and Lord Byron, Denny says that Alan's bucket is overflowing and he needs a vacation at Denny's spa. "I'm going to empty your bucket," Denny announces. Soon they're smoking cigars in a rose petal bath, then getting manicures and cucumber scrubs, and when Denny tries to help Alan relax, Alan takes his hand from the manicurist to hold Denny's hand, saying that it's almost as good as fishing. Alan then explains to the staring manicurist that Denny takes him nice places and buys him nice things and they like to dress up, to which Denny mutters, "Flamingoes." It's hard to tell whether he's blushing under the scrub.

Meanwhile Denise is arguing a criminal polygamy case against a man who's part of a committed trio with two women, one a homemaker, the other a working mom. The one who works testifies about how wonderful it is to have a wife who cooks for her and takes care of the children, to which the judge sighs that it sounds wonderful before the prosecutor objects. The other woman talks about how hard it is to raise children and how nice it is sometimes to send her husband to have sex with the other woman while she reads the paper and takes a bath. Denise argues that the anti-polygamy laws were written to protect women in an era when they depended on husbands for income and to stop elderly men from dividing up young girls among them, but now divorce is more disruptive to families, with which the clearly attracted though angry prosecutor agrees. In the closing, he insists that a billionaire could marry a hundred women and claim them as dependents without the law, doing the "family under assault" routine, while Denise insists that the good old days of one man, one woman also meant one race and putting this polygamist in jail would accomplish the very harm the anti-polygamy laws set out to prevent. She loses, but the prosecutor agrees not to seek jail time if the women will agree to divorces and living in sin, and then the prosecutor asks Denise out to dinner.

Meanwhile Brad has this week's serious case, as a friend from Annapolis is being sued by a woman whose son died after playing a video game made by his company. The child played for 36 hours straight while the mother was running around between two jobs and trying to sleep. It's a really big money case and Shirley and Paul are very happy Brad brought this business in to the firm, and the friend wants to settle in arbitration before going to court, but the mother insists that her son was physically addicted to this game and had a heart attack from his inability to stop playing it. Brad argues that all video games increase dopamine levels in the brain, it's the whole point of video games, and although he is uncomfortable with the fact that Chris wants to bury evidence about tests his company had done and didn't tell Brad that they had hired a psychiatrist to see if they could make the games more compulsive, he argues that he has a friend who's addicted to crystal meth and frankly he finds it insulting that someone would claim the urge to keep playing a video game is a true addiction. The prosecutor argues that lots of people died before someone finally found a cigarette company liable for making a product that is addictive and does kill, but Brad wins and when he tells the boy's mother that he's truly sorry, she says she's sure Brad will be sorry about the next one too.

And over at the spa, Alan and Denny are both attracted to the same woman but when Alan flirts with her, he loses his ability to form coherent sentences again. (She's reading The Da Vinci Code -- the film of which was advertised during this episode -- and Alan says Da Vince was brilliant enough in his own right without having had to be the Karl Rove of the 15th century, hahahaha.) Alone with Denny, who tells him that he should use his messed-up words to his advantage like Denny does, Alan tells Denny to put his narcissism aside for a moment and try to imagine what it's like for a person to be losing his mind. Then he apologizes, but Denny says that now he sees all this time when he thought Alan was empathizing, he was only sympathizing. He storms out (wearing the ugliest pink sweater EVER) to go get a massage, which Alan interrupts, lying on the floor to say that he has always empathized with Denny's Mad Cow. "In a seismic shift of character, I was momentarily thinking only of myself." Alan admits that he's terrified of being fired from the firm (he was hoping to ingratiate himself sexually with Shirley, but she rebufs him) and says he doesn't relish his freedom to walk away anymore. "I'd miss you, Denny." Denny calls him a liar, says Alan thinks he has to be around to protect Denny from himself and that's why he's suffering from anxiety, "you feel trapped and I'm the reason, Denny Crane has never needed anybody!" Alan insists that that is a tragedy for which he empathizes as well as sympathizes, but Denny tells him they shouldn't stay friends.

And to continue with the seismic shift department, Brad gets a visit from Paul, who congratulates him, then asks Brad to please stay away from Rachel. He knows that Brad is attached but explains that as part of the twelve-step program, people are supposed to focus on mending their lives rather than trying to build new relationships. "Don't make her more susceptible to returning to drugs. I am strongly suggesting that you stay away from her," Paul says. And Brad nods. Back at home, Alan goes out onto the balcony in a robe like the ones from the spa. Denny is already there. "So I worry about you a little; is that so bad?" demands Alan. "With my night terror, clown phobia and now word salad, you don't worry about me?" He warns Denny that they can't rely on the kindness of strangers, but Denny does not reply. Alan adds that he's only going to say this once, and he doesn't want to repeat it, but "I need friendship. I especially need this one." Then he realizes that Denny has his iPod buds in his ears and thinks he couldn't hear, though Denny says, "I heard every word. The thing isn't on." It comforts him that Alan needs his friendship, says Denny; "You got it." Alan is still afraid that he'll be fired and banned from premises, but Denny insists that Alan can come up the service elevator, for which he has a key.
In the end -- I am not making this up -- as Alan and Denny smoke, the camera pulls away and "Stand By Your Man" plays. ("Stand by your man/And tell the world you love him/Keep giving all the love you can...") Is it any wonder that this is my favorite show on TV?

Cardinal in tree with yellow flowers this weekend at Meadowside Nature Center.

Being unhappy is exhausting. I move more slowly, I think more slowly, I type more slowly...I seem to be behind on everything. Tomorrow I need to do something happy early in the day so there's some hope for later.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

By David Rivard

Let me sleep & then waken whenever life demands.
Let the dead baker of pies advise me —
he who was murdered by robbers
from a warrior clan gone bad —
his shift was long often but swift
his crust, the sugared slices of apples
stalks of rhubarb, all of it was quick
so if he says it is for the best
let me always be in touch with my loneliness
boots touching down on snow-covered paths
the clotted snow, sleet & ice like devil’s snot
anxiety in the elementary school parking lot
a lot in darkness, tangle of
softnesses in darkness, the dark in darkness
that crow queen appearing endlessly
beside a bank of violet crocuses.
Let her always be watching me from her position
by the geriatric center —
at all times worn wild
in her affection for my shyness.
Let me mingle my feathers with hers
let my breath stir against her beak, snockered.
Elsewise I would be as pleased
to be a jar of baby food if having been eaten from & cleaned
it were filled then by the sea.


One more by Rivard to go with the other two. I need to get one of his books. And while you're back here, gacked from :

Who are your Star Trek Slash parents? by jenniferlupin
Your Parents
Quiz created with MemeGen!

Had older son home from early this morning; hubby arrived before 9:30 and then had to do his morning phone conference from home, which was fine, then older son slept till nearly noon, woke up and drank a little lukewarm tea, at which point I discovered that we had no chicken noodle soup in the house and called hubby again to ask him to bring some home since son did not want to travel. Which is a bummer, because if I had traveled I could have deposited the two $40 rebate checks that arrived in the mail today when I was only supposed to get one. I figured it wouldn't hurt to wait a day, and then tonight I got both a phone call and e-mail from the company saying that the second check was a mistake, oops, invalid. In the meantime, I had finally also gotten the Ritz $50 gift card that was supposed to arrive a couple of weeks after my camera back in December, and since I had been in the house all day with sick older son and still-crying-every-hour younger son when he came home from school, I went out to the mall and bought the telephoto I have been coveting since I got my digital SLR. That extra $40 would have helped a lot.

In between, older son asked if we could watch Life of Brian, and how could I deny my sick child the opportunity to laugh himself silly? That is a movie that never gets old; even the opening credits never get old (the Roman Empire crumbling around religious iconography). "No one is to stone anyone until I blow this whistle!" "Do you find it wisible when I mention my fwiend Biggus Dickus?" "Yes! We are all individuals!" "Blessed is everyone who has a vested interest in the status quo!" I could go on and on and on. Evening was women's basketball, and although Maryland's men may have tanked weeks ago, the women are awesome! It's a very good year, locally.

And I'm still out of it and just no fun, stayed off IM most of the day and suspect I depressed everyone I talked to in the evening. Thanks so much everyone for the kind wishes about Aragorn; younger son in particular is still having a very hard time, and I feel like I haven't even started processing, really, since I've been dealing with the kids and their misery. I wrote three articles today (Bakula in Shenandoah, Ryan on Shark and Blalock in some movie filming in Calgary) after telling my editor I did not know if I could get any done, since son dozed morning and late afternoon and missed his extended fencing class, so maybe Tuesday I will take the camera with the new lens and the MDA to Great Falls, take some pictures and see whether I can beam an article about the decline and fall of the Star Trek franchise from the Potomac River overlook.

Speaking of Great Falls, here are some little flowers growing between the rocks of the bedrock terrace beside the bridges to the islands with the overlooks to the river and Virginia.

My horoscope for Tuesday: You are at a point of emotional climax right now. Things are coming to a critical point in which situations seem to first escalate and then suddenly collapse. Little issues in your relationships that you have failed to deal with openly are coming back to haunt you. It could be that someone is trying to cross you at this time, or maybe it just feels this way. Don't get overly paranoid. The whole world is not out to get you. Someone please remind me of this if it sounds like I need it later. *g*

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Poem for Monday

God the Broken Lock
By David Rivard

I've died enough by now I trust
just what's imperfect or ruined. I mean God,
God who is in the stop sign
asking to be shotgunned, the ocean that evaporates even
as we float. God the bent nail & broken lock,
and God the hangnail. The hangnail.
And a million others might be like me, our hopes
a kind of illegal entry, a belief in smashed windows,
every breakage
like breaking & entering into a concert hall,
the place my friend & I crawled into an air shaft, & later
fell asleep. After breakage
there is always sleep.
We woke to gospel hymns from the dressing room
below, songs commending
embrace to the fists, & return to the prodigal.
And hasn't my luck always been a shadow, stepping out, stretching?
I mean I trust what breaks.
A broken bone elicits condolence,
and the phone call sounds French if the transmission fritzes,
and our brains--our blessed, desirable brains--are composed
of infinitesimal magnets, millions of them
a billionth-of-a-milligram in weight, so
they make us knock our heads against hard walls.
When we pushed through the air vent,
the men singing seemed only a little surprised,
just slightly freaked,
three of them in black tuxes, & the fourth in red satin,
crimson, lit up like a furnace trimmed with paisley swirls,
the furnace of a planet, or of a fatalistic ocean liner
crisscrossing a planet we've not discovered yet,
a fire you might love to be thrown into.
That night they would perform the songs half
the country kept on its lips half of every day.
Songs mostly praising or lamenting or accusing some loved one
of some beautiful, horrendous betrayal or affection.
But dressing, between primping & joking about
their thinning afros, they sang of Jesus. Jesus,
who said, "Split a stick, & you shall find me inside."
It was the winter we put on asbestos gloves, & flameproof
stuck our hands in the fireplace, adjusting logs.
Jesus, we told them, left no proof of having sung a single note.
And that, said the lead singer, is why we are all sinners.
What he meant was
we are all like the saints on my neighbors' lawns--
whose plaster shoulders & noses,
chipped cloaks & tiaras, have to be bundled
in plastic sheets, each winter, blanketed
from the wind & the cold. That was what he meant,
though I couldn't know it then.


Another by David Rivard, the poet from yesterday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. This is why I love that column so much: I discover wonderful poets I'd never heard of.

It was not a really good day, as you've probably gathered. Yesterday evening I had noticed that Aragorn seemed pretty sluggish and hadn't eaten much all day -- he was not interested in a yogurt drop, which is unlike him -- and he was not sleeping in his usual spot in the corner even though the cage was cleaned a couple of days ago, which was more alarming, but he didn't seem to be giving us the in-pain look that Ham the hamster had in the hours before he died three years ago. When I checked on him after posting last night before going to bed, he wasn't moving but it was one in the morning so I tried not to worry about him. This morning he was stiff. I don't know exactly what happened -- what's odd is that Boromir sometimes scrapes his big belly on his wheel and then gnaws at his fur, making himself bleed, and he did this a couple of weeks ago so badly that I was afraid he would get an infection or that he had a tumor. But he seems all right now, though a little discombobulated; he and Aragorn usually slept in adjacent corners of their cages and got up and sniffed noses regularly and he's sort of sat sulking in his corner all day, not gnawing on cardboard or anything.

Older son did the brave face routine, but younger son (whose gerbil Aragorn technically was, though they both lived in the kitchen and we all took care of them equally) was absolutely disconsolate for a couple of hours. He refused to come outside at first when we held the gerbil funeral in the backyard and then lay on the floor crying and kicking and refusing to talk to anyone. When his grandparents arrived he was somewhat distracted, plus a friend of his stopped by and they discussed video games for a little while. But every few hours he would suddenly get quiet and then burst into tears. (Mother-in-law is knitting a stuffed penguin for younger son which was small consolation today, but she brought it to work on and show him the pieces.)

We went to Great Falls (the Maryland side, opposite the last set of pictures) to walk out to the islands, since it was a gorgeous day; there were geese pairs in the canal and many kayakers taking advantage of the relatively low water in the Potomac River, even the upper rapids where we have never seen people kayaking before. And I discovered that my cell phone can access Yahoo's sports pages from the C&O Canal towpath and get basketball scores. *g* Of course my in-laws insisted that we had to come home at halftime so we could watch the end of the UConn-GMU game, which was fantastic -- I know I have been complaining about the surfeit of basketball but really, that ending could not have been more exciting and it ended the way I wanted even though my father-in-law put his Huskies hat on top of the TV.

We were originally going to go out for Mexican food for hubby's birthday with his parents, but Rio Grande was mobbed so we ended up at Red Rock Canyon Grill, where I had a caesar salad with grilled salmon that was so good I hardly have words for it. (In-laws had crab cakes and said those were very good too -- must keep this in mind as they are a lot cheaper than many of the seafood restaurants, even though my hair now smells like pit fire; last time I had the chicken that's supposed to be their specialty but really good grilled fish is one of my favorite things.) We walked around the lake at Rio a bit, then came home, watched the aftermath of the Villanova game, had birthday cake and said goodbye to in-laws. And then we watched The West Wing, which is moving into its endgame. I read somewhere that the final episode leaps several years into the future, which bums me out -- I was hoping for a TV movie a couple years down the line set just about then -- but I have a new fantasy, given that I am assuming Leo can't become vice president if Santos wins, since John Spencer has died. I want Santos to beat Vinick, then make Vinick his Secretary of the Interior or something and make C.J. the VP.

I don't really see how Toby can NOT go to jail at this point without some major compromising of his principles. I believe him when he said he didn't get the information from David, CJ or Leo, but that narrows the list of suspects to...well, Bartlet, who MUST have had some idea what Toby would do with the information, and whose rant about how Toby isn't a hero from months ago seems rather disingenuous if he was in fact the source, or Abby who likely knows whatever Jed knows but I just can't see that happening after she's not been around all season, and I had thought maybe it was Andie based on some committee knowledge or something but evidently that's not the case. What am I missing? Toby really cracked me up with his plan to trick or treat as Julius Rosenberg and putting the Yankees cap on his happy Oriole fan children (sorry, Toby, but I am completely with Andie on this one), and he also broke my heart: I agree with Andie, his brother would want him to lie, and spare himself and his kids and the election. I can't even imagine where this is going to go.

The Bon Jovi stuff was fine until they ran the Sprint ad with Bon Jovi concert footage...then it just felt like cheap commercialism, and made me irritated with the Santos campaign. Matt plays clarinet! Hahahaha! Blow, Matt, blow...oops, actually that was the advice I wanted to give to Josh at the end when Matt had stormed off and was counting to ten to calm himself down. Yeah, I saw the preview, I know we're likely getting Josh/Donna at last and that's all to the good, but I really thought it would help everyone if instead of talking, Josh yanked Matt's trousers down and sucked him off first. I'm sure Helen would have understood. *snerk* Hey, she dressed her son as Harry Potter for Halloween!

Can't believe March will be over before the week is. Wow. I need a day to de-stress and decompress, and Monday night older son has a special two-hour fencing class so it probably will not be till, like, Friday...

RIP Aragorn

Aragorn 2003-2006

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Poem for Sunday

A Real, Right Thing
By David Rivard

Like a green ludicrous tow truck
with yellow stripes & naked chrome bulldog
atop the hood, my pleasure's obvious
watchful wary arrogant & pure
the smell of warm December early the sixth
day the city men come to the park
to gather leaves half-disintegrated
already compost, that smell
there for the asking, those leaves
a few the color of her skin
at the end of summer, sweet present
blown against my lips--
                                 Oh, that
was a good moment to be born in, serendipitous
for how the color set off her collarbone
like a silver belt buckle in a darkened church
and seeing her face then, so calm in sleep
I'll be in sympathy with a car alarm forever
so long as it never goes off again
and when I die finally it's certain the house flies
will love having this sick man around.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, which asks, "What might poetry have in common with NASCAR? The appeal of speed. And since the 'SC' in that acronym stands for 'Stock Car,' we can add the appeal of speed as a challenge met by ordinary means -- the stock material, though applied and transformed with extraordinary skills and resources." Pinsky compares Rivard's new book Sugartown to "the way a good mood and a good memory can make life seem rich and even death nearly acceptable." The poems move through familiar subject matter "with an exhilarating, smart pace of association and evocation. The speed of mind, compressing details and emotions, covering the maximum distance in the least time, gives this writing its thrill...the phrase 'naked chrome bulldog' is fun to say, but, as the ampersands imply, the poem has no intention of lingering on such moments. Decay, exemplified by the decomposing leaves, will not wait for extended, prosey musings or explanations. Decay as a reason to seize the day is one of the most traditional notions -- a stock idea. Rivard's quickness dramatizes the idea with a fresh urgency and also with fresh images. The idea of being in sympathy even with a car alarm recalls the giddiness of a lover in some Shakespeare comedy, and the afterthought 'so long as it never goes off again' has a Shakespearean light irony to it, expressed in an idiom as American and feisty as that Mack bulldog."

Older son worked in my mother's Hebrew school class as volunteer hours for school community service in the morning while I wrote Star Trek articles (Berman reflecting on Next Gen, Bakula getting good reviews in Shenandoah at Ford's Theatre here which I would love to see but can't really afford). Then we went hiking at Meadowside Nature Center and saw the animals and exhibits inside -- this county park has a constructed cave in one room that wraps around artificial stalagtites and stalagmites, a pond with fish and sometimes turtles, and a tunnel that leads out into an exhibit on old Muncaster Mill, which is now in ruins though the road which led to it still bears its name. There's another room with animals, though this is much smaller than it was the last time we visited; the park has decided to have only native species on display, so some of the snakes, the tarantula, the exotic lizards and other animals are now kept in the back for special events.

There are also several injured owls, hawks and other raptors both inside and out as well as a bald eagle which we could not approach in its large cage due to the outdoor construction. But we took a long walk by the creek and among the glacial boulders that are scattered throughout the park, though it started to drizzle several times and I did not take my camera out in the woods (the forecast originally threatened flurries but it was lovely high '50s, perfect hiking weather when it wasn't dripping). Afterward we came home, I played with my photos, the kids had a friend over, eventually we had dinner, and the NCAA tournament was on throughout. So a rather quiet but very nice Saturday. My husband's parents are coming Sunday after Hebrew school, but I'm not sure where we'll be allowed to go, since the UConn game is on in the afternoon and my father-in-law may insist on being near a television, certainly during the second half!

Suggestive caption notwithstanding, we watched this small woodpecker in our backyard for quite awhile (and the cats did too, making not-very-pleased noises at having it out of their reach). Does anyone know what kind it is? Thanks!

Lyrics for Saturday

What Do I Know
By Peter Mealy

She sat at the bar in her wedding dress,
Engaged in a drink and a cigarette.
Sad song on the radio,
She could have been the video.

Did you lose your nerve to say I do?
Or were you left in an empty pew?
Are you dressed up for Halloween?
Or is this your only dress that's clean?

What do I know, what did you say?
Did I hear you in the right way?
Let the lights dim and the sound die
Till we both see through the same eyes.

I pulled in the lot of a late night store,
A man in shadows by the door.
I smelled trouble, he smelled fear,
I locked my door, left the car in gear,

I said are you waiting for a ride
Or planning your next homicide?
Are you a cop out on the beat
Or one more victim of the street?

What do I know, what did you say?
Did I hear you in the right way?
Let the lights dim and the sound die
Till we both see through the same eyes.

We only see what's relevant,
Like the blind man and the elephant.
We search in the dark with just our hands,
Then our eyes met and we did a little dance.

We meet by chance, we meet by force,
We meet like pieces on a big chessboard,
Read each other, second guess,
Watch for signals, assume the rest,

But I see you like I see stars:
Brightest light in the darkest dark.
Mystery deep as the deepest stare,
And when I look up you're always there.

What do I know, what did you say?
Did I hear you in the right way?
Let the lights dim and the sound die.
Will we both see through the same eyes?
What do I know, what did you say, what do I know?


We went to see Laurie Rose Griffith & Peter Mealy, a local husband and wife folk-jazz duo, at the Old City Hall in Fairfax for a free concert for 's birthday, hence you get lyrics. Even though they had a song list, I requested "All Around the World" and they played it for me -- Turquoise Scarf Woman, as they addressed me -- I was wearing a scarf dyed for me a couple of years ago that I totally love. And they brought an upright bass to play "Anchor" which is probably my favorite of their songs (lyrics here, they didn't write that one and I wanted one of Peter's songs). I had a very nice day for my husband's birthday -- picked him up from work for lunch and we went to India Bistro, then I came home and finished my Star Trek review, took the kids to a friend's house and wrote the Site Columns, then we all had dinner with my parents and headed out to Virginia for the concert.

It was a very interesting night to be in Fairfax; we had a terrible time getting a parking spot and thought maybe the concert was going to be wildly more popular than we expected. Actually it had a tiny audience and we realized why from the noise coming from the bars across the street: George Mason was beating Wichita State at the time and everyone else in Fairfax was apparently in front of a television. (And Villanova was fighting it out in overtime, though that was of less interest locally!) I must say that there is something kind of nice about having an intimate concert while everyone else is getting drunk and watching basketball. And it's kind of nice that hubby chose to spend his birthday evening listening to folk music rather than watching basketball! Peter played a medley of songs in jazz guitar style from The Wizard of Oz that was extremely impressive even though I'm not a huge jazz guitar aficionado, and they did a bunch of torch songs and Laurie sang a stunning version of Nat King Cole's "Autumn Leaves." (Previous report here.)

: Black & White
1. When is the last time you became unraveled?
A couple of weeks ago when many family members were having crises.
2. What's the longest trip you've taken? Driving to California, then up to Seattle and home again the summer before last. Nearly a month in the van with my family.
3. Who is the biggest distraction in your life? My new toy with its portable internet connection. *g*
4. Do people notice you when you walk into a room? I doubt it. Sometimes if I am being loud.
5. Describe the last time you disappointed someone: My son, a few hours ago when I told him that he could not play his Nintendo DS even with the sound turned off at the concert even though it's a weekend night and he's usually entitled to video games then.

: Culture
1. Of the various cultures, ethnicities or nationalities you belong to, which most strongly do you consider yourself?
American. I mean, culturally I'm east coast liberal, ethnically I'm Ashkenazi Jewish, nationally I'm Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Hungarian and German, and if any of my ancestors had stayed in any of those places with their relatives, they'd have died in the same concentration camps, pogroms and ghettos and I would never have been born.
2. Is there a culture you cannot claim heritage from but which you feel quite close to? British-Celtic. Always have, from a very young age.
3. What's one language you wish you knew fluently? I wish what French and Hebrew I knew were fluent. Also Gaelic.
4. If you could move anywhere in the world and be guaranteed a job, etc., where would you go? London.
5. If you had a time machine, and could witness any one event without altering or disturbing it, what would you want to see? The Crucifixion and immediate aftermath.

So here is the review of "Wolf in the Fold" which is really not positive at all...this is one of those episodes I've felt like I was supposed to like because Piglet plays Mr. Hengist and it has pretty set decorations on Argelius and we find out that Scotty was an Aberdeen pub crawler, but really the misogyny makes my skin crawl and I think even "Spock's Brain" may have things to recommend it over this one in that regard. In much better science fiction news, Doctor Who, which we missed at 8 p.m., reran at midnight, with Simon Callow as Charles Dickens! (And given this show's occasionally Pythonesque sensibility, when the Doctor geeked out and said, "THE Charles Dickens?" I was expecting it to be followed by, "The famous Dutch author?") The Doctor claims to have been shooting for 1860 and hit 1869 by accident but he's pretty obviously there to save the world once they arrive. It's so delightfully camp X-Files with the flying ghost alien things -- not one of the serious scary conspiracy episodes but one of the ones where Mulder and Scully are laughing at their own jobs -- except that we hear about the time war, so obviously bad shit is going to start to happen.

I utterly adore the Doctor/Rose interaction ("The dead are walking! ...hi." "Hi.") and how easily Rose stands up to him despite how much she knows he knows. Also that she forms a real connection with another woman on very female-interest terms, something so painfully rare in science fiction, and her objection to letting the alien gas things cross over is purely out of concern for Gwyneth rather than any fear of alien gas things. (Doc: "I love a happy medium." Gaack!) And they're sitting in a pentacle when the beings cross over! Though it was too predictable they would turn out to be evil -- Satanic, even, which is a bit cheesier than I like -- I loved their explanation of the time war, "the whole universe convulsed," even if I don't get how the Doctor didn't suspect they were a threat to humanity. And if the aliens fed off the gases produced by corpses, how were they staying alive in live healthy humans? Okay, never mind, this show's not thoughtful exactly but very stylish. "We'll go down fighting together." "I'm so glad I met you." "Me too." And Dickens quoting Hamlet at the end, more things in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in the Doctor's philosophy!

This is here because, although I did not feel compelled to post it after having posted a Shel Silverstein poem not long ago, I cannot look at the calendar without reciting the one that goes, "No one's hangin' stockin's up, No one's bakin' pie, no one's lookin' up to see a new star in the sky. No one's talkin' brotherhood, no one's givin' gifts, and no one loves a Christmas tree on March the twenty-fifth." The ornament is scrimshaw from Scandinavia and has tall ships on it -- does anyone wonder why I love it?

To bed for of comments and stuff tomorrow! Hope the weather stays clear even if chilly!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poem for Friday

By Catherine Wing

One of the early outline drafts of the poem [Paradise Lost]
suggests that Milton was considering the alternative title
"Adam Unparadized."

                     — Kevin Jackson

In the beginning God, unaccompanied,
And unmanned, made light.
Adam as yet unimagined.

Then the world unwound
From heaven. The day unbuttoned
From the night. The sea unearthed

And the earth unfastened
The grass and the trees unhusked
Their seeds. Adam unhastened.

God created he him, Adam unfallen,
Unpinned from the ground.
Unhitched Adam. Adam unbound.

And in order that Eve could uncage,
Adam unribbed, and both undressed
And were unashamed.

But the serpent (more subtle), unheard
From until now, unlocked and unappled
Eve, and Adam unabled.

Then the unthorned got thorns
And the unthistled thistles, the earth
Untoiled until then.

Adam unparadized -- a song not
Unsung, of life's uneasying,
And Adam undone.


I had a nice morning working on a review and writing up news bullets, then met for lunch at the mall, where I indulged myself in this (because how can I resist a Brokeback Mountain t-shirt even if it's not official merchandise) and found an upright holster for my MDA -- actually designed for one of the Treo phones, but it fits very well, nice and snug, and it's a lot easier to get the phone out one-handed, plus I can get the charge/sync cable and earphones plugged in without elastic in the way! And I bought my husband a birthday card, since Friday is his birthday. (Actually two cards -- the kids are making their own, but I had to get one from the cats!)

Younger son started soccer practice tonight and we carpooled with another boy in the neighborhood, then realized we had nothing in the house for dinner and ended up running out. After dinner older son somehow stumbled across Titanic on HBO when he was supposed to be turning off the television after The Simpsons, and like dorks we sat down and watched the last hour even though we own it on DVD; I know it is popular to point out all the reasons people think that movie is overrated, but this is only the fourth or fifth time I've seen any part of it and I must admit that for me it gets better with every viewing, I think because I'm more sold on DiCaprio after Total Eclipse and The Aviator. His character suffers from the weakest dialogue by far -- did this movie win the screenplay Oscar in its hoard? Gah. The acting and cinematography make up for a great many sins.

At night after I posted a Vaughn Armstrong interview we all watched a bit of the world figure skating championships while I finished folding laundry, then "Wolf in the Fold" because that's the Star Trek episode for reviewing this week. (, of course I thought of you and had to fight off porny related thoughts. *veg*) I also worked on fic -- I wrote a tag on my handheld in a mall eatery, hee! -- and finally finished cropping Huntley Meadows pics from a couple of weeks ago. So a fairly productive day! And whoo, the end of that Texas-West Virginia game almost revives my interest in basketball, not to mention UCLA-Gonzaga! And Duke is GONE!

We are going to a concert for 's birthday so I will not be around in the evening, though I have a bunch of work to do first!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Poem for Thursday

The Well
By Pablo Neruda

At times you sink, you fall
into your hole of silence,
into your abyss of proud anger,
and you can scarcely
return, still bearing remnants
of what you found
in the depth of your existence.

My love, what do you find
in your closed well?
Seaweed, swamps, rocks?
What do you see with blind eyes,
bitter and wounded?

Darling, you will not find
in the well into which you fall
what I keep for you on the heights:
a bouquet of dewy jasmines,
a kiss deeper than your abyss.

Do not fear me, do not fall
into your rancor again.
Shake off my word that came to wound you
and let it fly through the open window.
It will return to wound
without your guiding it
since it was laden with a harsh instant
and that instant will be disarmed in my breast.


My day was about as hectic as I expected -- running kids around from school to dentist (where older son learned, to his distress, that he must have a tooth pulled in a couple of weeks) and then rushing to get older son to his Bar Mitzvah tutoring, which was complicated by the fact that he had lost the notebook in which all the stuff he was given at the first tutoring session had been put! I threatened him with no video games for the rest of the year if he did not find it. He got lucky in that his father, who had been apprised of the situation, found the notebook where it had either fallen or been stuffed between the couch and the end table. Graaaar.

The rest of my day was relatively unexciting (covering Shatner's 75th birthday and plans to release the Trek shows on bargain DVDs with no extras, making mac and cheese for dinner while hubby was picking up son from the Hebrew tutoring) until evening, when TV Land's night of specials made my week! First the TV Land Awards were on, which were far more fun than they should have been. I put it on to see the Dallas cast because I can't resist seeing Hagman and Gray together any chance I get (and Duffy and Tilton and the rest are just gravy), and they got the first big award of the night, with clips of the "Who Shot J.R." episode making me nostalgic for eighth grade when my French class put on a dramatization of "Qui a fusille J.R." with me playing Sue Ellen. But oh! Jonathan Kent singing The Dukes of Hazzard theme song! And then Joey Scarbury doing The Greatest American Hero and DONNY AND MARIE doing "Get Back, Honky Cat" on old tape and taking the stage! Donny is a grandfather and has five children, Marie has eight -- eee!

Shatner was there too, saying, "with all due humility, I'm wonderful. But enough about me until later," then introducing Batman (which turns 40 this year like Star Trek, though Star Trek got no airtime, I guess because TV Land does not run it). "You'd have to be a real joker not to love Batman," explained Shatner, introducing Adam West and Burt Ward, who announced that they would show off their incredible crime-fighting physiques, which are not, err, quite as trim as they were. Then they did a feature, Grey Anatomy, about all the older actors who'd played doctors -- Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was stuck in the elevator and Doc from The Love Boat was hitting on Hot Lips Houlihan!

I never really watched Good Times but the tribute was actually rather touching -- what it meant to black families. And there were other lovely moments like Kermit and Miss Piggy presenting an award about something they truly care about -- FOOD -- and an award to the best Oscar winner who started out in television, including Hilary Swank (who won), Jamie Foxx (in a dress) and George Clooney, who had the best hair ever on The Facts of Life! They finished with Diana Ross looking good and singing the theme from Mahogany but I was rooting for Sonny and Cher's reunion on Letterman (where they made me cry!) to win for musical moment on TV.

And after that, we watched Living in TV Land: William Shatner! Where I am not going to cut as a spoiler the fact that THEY SHAMELESSLY SLASHED KIRK AND SPOCK ALL OVER THE PLACE! Shatner talks about himself as a singer, asking, "Who does this guy think he is?" Then the special cuts to him forty years ago, "This is Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise," and then T.J. Hooker and Denny Crane introducing themselves. And then a cut to an interview with Leonard Nimoy saying, "I don't know if I would call Bill a singer." Would Nimoy call himself a singer? His "If I Had a Hammer" is more painful than Shatner's "Mr. Tambourine Man," which is really saying something! Though I prefer Shatner's more recent "You're Gonna Die" (there are clips of him performing from Has Been all over the special).

There are also awesome cameos, including one by the late John Spencer saying he's a fan of Shatner's and he wouldn't sing theme song of The West Wing at the Emmys the way Shatner sang the Star Trek theme song. Candice Bergen is all adoring of him reinventing himself -- I get the impression they had so much fun working on those Miss Congeniality films together. On the plane to a convention, Kate Mulgrew asks Shatner whether he thinks he might be stigmatized as Captain Kirk (clearly she feels stigmatized as Janeway despite all her "Blah blah I love Star Trek" stuff she spouts in front of partisan audiences). At the Las Vegas con, Shatner objects to the fact that Patrick Stewart gets louder applause, but the two appear genuinely to like each other which makes me so happy.

But the best Trekkie aspect of this special is that Shatner sings a LOVE SONG to Kirk/Spock. Okay, maybe the TV Land producers made it look that way, but he's singing, "Don't change because you think I might like that. I fell in love with you," while they are showing Kirk staring at Spock, then Shatner elbowing Nimoy. Later they show Nimoy on T.J. Hooker, and as Spock fighting with Kirk, while Shatner is singing, "I love what you wear because you're wearing it, I want you to be you..." Oh MAN I love Shatner! And, I mean, Brad Paisley and Mark Valley also have crushes on him, so I have nothing to apologize for. Even his son in law loves him! And Rene Auberjonois!

In other entertaining news, I am sure everyone who cares already saw this, but "Oldman Locked For Potter -- Finally!". And for the archaeology geek in me, "Ancient Sarcophagus Unearthed in Cyprus".

A little owl at the National Zoo.

Another very early morning tomorrow. I must get to bed. I didn't get any laundry folded and I don't even care! ETA for : The Shatner special reruns next Wednesday night at 10 p.m. Eastern time!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

Buddha In Glory
By Rainer Maria Rilke
Translated by Steven Mitchell

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.


I've had one of those vague weather headaches all day where I'm not sure how much is from the front coming through -- originally forecast to bring us lots of snow but all I saw here were a few flurries that didn't stick -- nor how much is from the pollen count which is rising despite the snow! Driving the kids to Hebrew school in the afternoon, there was white in the air, and at first I thought it was more snowflakes but it turned out to be petals from the white flowering trees that line that street. I had a fairly quiet morning: my trial of MacDrive ended at noon, so I had to get things transferred off the hard drive from my brother-in-law by then, and I didn't even get into the shower until after noon. Then I wrote articles on Grand Slam and Pocket Books' plans for Star Trek's 40th anniversary...lots of reissues of things I have owned for decades, lots of stuff I am not interested in reading, and then a few that I am: David R. George's Kirk/Spock/McCoy trilogy, Diane Duane's last Rihannsu book and Margaret Wander Bonanno's Christopher Pike novel.

Our local university channel had In the Steps of Shakespeare: London and Stratford on Avon on in the evening so I subjected my family to it, as the kids had finished their homework and were angling for computer games they don't get to play on school nights while there was (thankfully) no basketball. It wasn't terribly well filmed (cheap video) but there were many gorgeous shots of landmarks in London and around Shakespeare's home town, plus some discussion of the "who wrote the plays" controversy and Elizabeth I's taste in drama. Then, of course, we watched my Tuesday night usual, Boston Legal. The most entertaining story this week concerned a professor, Clifford, who is getting divorced and wants to keep his Victorian erotica collection so he can make it a legacy to the world in a museum. His ex-wife has part of it, he explains to Shirley -- books, pictures and machinery, the latter of particular interest as it was the beginning of the machine age, though Clifford considers the internet just porn.

Shirley says that if Clifford acquired the collection during his marriage, then Natalie is entitled to a portion of it, but he finds this unacceptable. Just then Natalie walks in with her lawyer...Ivan, Shirley's ex who got married a few episodes back. As Clifford explains that he wanted Shirley (to be his lawyer), Ivan adds that he wanted her too. Neither Natalie nor Clifford is willing to change lawyers. So Shirley and Ivan meet privately, where Ivan explains that his honeymoon was great...and he is having an affair. With Shirley. Surprised, Shirley says that so far it isn't good for her. Ivan insists that he's more emotionally involved with Shirley -- he's emotionally cheating on his wife -- and asks her to consider making it physical. She says, "Go home to your wife, Ivan." When Denny finds out, he tells Shirley that she's his girl, but advises her to go for it with Ivan, saying that either Ivan's wife won't find out (in which case Shirley will be fine) or will find out (in which case she'll have learned the truth about Ivan before he has an affair with some other woman). However, he thinks Shirley should consider having an affair with someone else, too. "Was that too subtle? I meant me!"

Meanwhile Denny discovers that Paul is busy taking care of Fiona and delegates the job of meeting with the building manager to Brad, but Brad doesn't offer a bribe nearly big enough to get the necessary maintenance taken care of. When Shirley asks Paul about his schedule, he explains that he is now acting as the single parent to a three year old and his priorities are different: "This firm doesn't seem so important." We know things have really changed when Denny announces that he has things under control and Paul should take all the time he needs, and Paul agrees. Of course things fall apart. Shirley visits Denny, who notes that she is panting and asks whether it's because of him. She says it is; she had to climb the stairs, because the elevator isn't working, because Paul didn't meet with the building manager to perform his usual magic. (Denny adds that he always climbs the stairs; "The elevator is for Democrats.") Things go from bad to worse and Denny finally shows up in Paul's office, holding letterhead that reads "Crane, Poole, Schmidt & Lewiston." He tells Paul that a simple "'Thank you, oh kind and benevolent leader' will suffice," and thinks Paul is trying to play hardball when Paul doesn't jump for joy, but Paul says it figures that this is what Denny thought he always wanted and he needs to rethink his priorities. He expects to be back when Rachel gets out of rehab but in the meantime Denny have to think before he talks for a change.

Ivan gets Natalie to agree to give up the entire erotica collection, including five volumes of The Pearl from which he reads aloud to Shirley while Clifford recites along with him, but Natalie will not give up the Hysteria Machine so it's off to court they go. The Hysteria Machine is a very early vibrator, which Clifford presents to the judge with an explanation of how it came to be developed as a cure for female ailments (i.e. unsatisfied arousal, which was associated with a "wandering womb" which is what hysteria literally means but they didn't explain all of this in the episode, I just happen to know a lot about the history of sexual medicine and vibrators *g*). The judge's expression when Clifford explains that a doctor invented it because his arm got tired "massaging" his female patients is priceless. Shirley asks Clifford whether he intends to donate this item to a museum, allowing everyone to get greater pleasure from it, and the judge agrees that Clifford seems to have more altruistic motives for wanting it than Natalie, who has a more specific personal motive, so Clifford wins the suit.

Then Natalie claims that the vibrator was stolen out of her car on her way to turn it over. Shirley insists on a police report. When Ivan points out his client could go to jail if the device is altruistically returned, she retorts that that's a tribute to the risks some people are willing to take for momentary pleasure. Ivan says this just proves they're all sexual animals and asks if she admires him for acting on his instincts, but Shirley again tells him to go back to his wife and suggests that he needs to grow up. "I love you Shirley," he says. She says, "I love you too." Of course Ivan retrieves the machine, which Shirley turns on to make sure it's the original. While they watch it heat up, Ivan tells her that he left his wife and asks if she'd like to see his attachments. No. Later Denny and Ivan face off in the hallway, with Denny sayig that they have something in common -- a hell of a woman -- and something else in common -- "We're both bleeding men." He then proceeds to develop a hilarious analogy about how the star of a show doesn't have just one leading lady, that's no way to hold viewer interest, next week someone else will be there. "You're not going to hurt her, Ivan." And Denny storms off.

While all this has been happening, Alan has been helping Catherine try to rescue a friend relegated to a horrible hospital by her court assigned guardian, who apparently makes a living off getting guardianship of elderly people without families, having them declared incompetent and selling off their property for his own gain. Alan has the guy tied up by thugs to show him how it feels to be helpless, then wrests guardianship of the woman from him. When he goes to meet Denny for drinks and cigars, Denny asks whose ass Alan kicked and why people don't use violence to solve problems more often: "Works every time." Alan says he's disturbed by his own appetite for the guardian guy's fear and says he wanted to do something more clever, a quick fix, a phone call. He wonders what he's turning into. "Denny Crane!" declares Denny Crane. "I think I'm still a long way from that," objects Alan, but Denny assures him, "Don't you worry. You'll get there."

Sorry if there are many typos in that, my headache has gone from mild to grinding while typing it up. I had better go to bed.

This Huntley Meadows Park snapper never surfaced.

These were therefore the best photos I could get!

Wednesday both kids have dentist appointments right after school, then older son has Hebrew tutoring, so I will be running around like a chicken without a head. Forgive me if I am slow to answer stuff! And it's William Shatner's 75th birthday, and his TV Land special is on tonight!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

Coffee & Dolls
By April Bernard

It was a storefront for a small-time numbers runner,
pretending to be some sort of grocery. Coffeemakers
and Bustello cans populated the shelves, sparsely.
Who was fooled. The boxes bleached in the sun,
the old guys sat inside on summer lawn chairs,
watching tv. The applause from the talk shows and game shows
washed out the propped-open door like distant rain.

It closed for a few months. The slick sedan disappeared.
One spring day, it reopened, and this time a sign
decorated the window: COFFEE & DOLLS.
Yarn-haired, gingham-dressed floppy dolls
lolled among the coffee cans. A mastiff puppy,
the size and shape of a tipped-over fire hydrant,
guarded as the sedan and the old guys returned.

I don't know about you, but I've been looking
for a narrative in which suffering makes sense.
I mean, the high wail of the woman holding her dead child,
the wail that filled the street. I mean the sudden
fatal blooms on golden skin. I mean the crack deaths,
I mean the ice-cream truck that cruised the alphabets
and sold crack to the same deedle-dee-dee tune as fudgsicles.
I mean the raw scabs of the beaten mastiff, and many other


Did some stuff this morning in preparation for 's birthday this Friday, which I wanted to get done Monday rather than Tuesday because we are supposed to have SNOW for part of the latter, then met and for lunch at a Red Robin, which I had never been to before and where I had a really yummy teriyaki chicken and pineapple sandwich that I am now craving more of. Must get some canned pineapple. Had to cover the Grand Slam convention (or rather the coverage of the Grand Slam convention, since obviously I didn't go). Every year it feels slightly more redundant.

Tonight older son had fencing, so we had dinner early, then watched the Digging for the Truth episode on Troy, "Of Gods and Warriors," which was neat -- they went to Greece and Turkey looking for evidence of the origins of the Trojan War and the backstory to The Iliad, and they explored Bronze Age ships pulled up from the sea (we saw one of those at Mystic Aquarium that Robert Ballard had excavated). The most interesting part was how much geography may have changed -- Ithaca likely not where it is now. And since we had The History Channel on anyway, we left on Deep Sea Detectives, which was doing "Blackbeard's Mystery Ship" -- what is believed to be the wreck of Queen Anne's Revenge off Beaufort, North Carolina. I want to go work for one of those historic shipwreck archaeology companies in the Outer Banks!

Spot the three pairs of turtles mating in this picture from Huntley Meadows Park.

Also, I am shouting out love to , , , and for assorted reasons -- they all know why.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Poem for Monday

By Algernon Charles Swinburne

Love's priestess, mad with pain and joy of song,
Song’s priestess, mad with joy and pain of love,
Name above all names that are lights above,
We have lov’d, prais’d, pitied, crown’d, and done thee wrong,
O thou past praise and pity; thou the sole
Utterly deathless, perfect only and whole
Immortal, body and soul.
For over all whom time hath overpast
The shadow of sleep inexorable is cast,
The implacable sweet shadow of perfect sleep
That gives not back what life gives death to keep;
Yea, all that liv’d and lov’d and sang and sinn’d
Are all borne down death’s cold, sweet, soundless wind
That blows all night and knows not whom its breath,
Darkling, may touch to death:
But one that wind hath touch’d and changed not,—one
Whose body and soul are parcel of the sun;
One that earth’s fire could burn not, nor the sea
Quench; nor might human doom take hold on thee;
All praise, all pity, all dreams have done thee wrong,
All love, with eyes love-blinded from above;
Song’s priestess, mad with joy and pain of love,
Love’s priestess, mad with pain and joy of song.

Hast thou none other answer then for me
Than the air may have of thee,
Or the earth’s warm woodlands girdling with green girth
Thy secret, sleepless, burning life on earth,
Or even the sea that once, being woman crown’d
And girt with fire and glory of anguish round,
Thou wert so fain to seek to, fain to crave
If she would hear thee and save
And give thee comfort of thy great green grave?
Because I have known thee always who thou art,
Thou knowest, have known thee to thy heart’s own heart,
Nor ever have given light ear to storied song
That did thy sweet name sweet unwitting wrong,
Nor ever have call’d thee nor would call for shame,
Thou knowest, but inly by thine only name,
Sappho—because I have known thee and lov’d, hast thou
None other answer now?
As brother and sister were we, child and bird,
Since thy first Lesbian word
Flam’d on me, and I knew not whence I knew,
This was the song that struck my whole soul through,
Pierced my keen spirit of sense with edge more keen,
Even when I knew not,—even ere sooth was seen,—
When thou wast but the tawny sweet wing’d thing
Whose cry was but of spring.


I know, I know, Swinburne and his lesbian fetish, but after posting Sappho yesterday I was in the mood for it. Anything that got lesbian poetry into the English literary canon has to be considered a good thing, anyway.

I had a very lovely, busy Sunday -- kids had Hebrew school in the morning, then I went to an Ostara celebration at 's house with where there was much discussion of Ishtar, pondering the cycle of death and rebirth, and eating of chocolate. I always walk out of the pagan group (where I know very few people well) feeling calm, energized and centered -- why have I never been to a Jewish ritual that made me feel that way? I know they must exist. I read Tel Shemesh and say, yes, that is the kind of Judaism I want to practice. I find it ironic that I can practice it with a group that calls itself the First Pagan Church but not in any organized Jewish group -- or even disorganized Jewish group -- I've ever been involved with off the internet. Even though I barely know most of these people I am really comfortable talking about very personal things like my belief system, which I have never had in a synagogue where I feel alienated from the very thing I'm supposed to be doing.

Then I came home, grabbed my family and went downtown to have dinner with and her family and many of her friends, including and I can't remember everyone else's LJ names so if you remembered mine and are reading this, please say hello! Amusingly, my friend Ruth from college and grad school (in Philadelphia and Chicago respectively) had written me last week to tell me she would be in town for a wedding in a couple of months and would like to get our families together, and it turns out that the couple who are getting married were at dinner tonight -- the groom is a friend of 's husband and the bride lived in 's dormitory, plus we worked on The Daily Pennsylvanian together though not on the same areas of the paper. Small world! Excellent Thai food, and then we came home for The West Wing, though we missed the first two minutes or so -- what happened to Vinick's hand?

I thought it was a great episode, definitely one of Smits, Alda and Silver's best, and I LOVE that evil Republican strategist woman whose name I cannot remember; that is, I loathe her, but she is very well played and has very interesting chemistry with both Vinick and Bruno. I am wondering why I always wanted to hit Amy with a brick for being shrill about things I basically believe in whereas when this woman is shrill, I find it an interesting commentary on the material she's tossing out there. I think they need to have her to be the mouthpiece of the ACTUAL Republican party as opposed to the ideal Republican party that Vinick represents (Federal government should have nothing to do with marriage law and Republicans running for office should not exploit right wing fanatical sentiment on this issue!) They could have Toby being the voice of practicality instead of idealism for once (man, he and Josh rock together) because the actual people running for office are talking principles.

Speaking of principles, I hate that Bruno can align himself with people who would get elected using homophobia as a platform point even if Vinick says no, and can use personal dirt to try to exploit Santos. "I can make you president." Who's not going to think about that, even if it's followed by "I work for you, I won't do anything you don't want, just think about what other secrets this guy might have." I love Vinick saying that finding out a candidate he believed in had an illegitimate child wouldn't affect his voting...if only Al Gore had thought like that, he'd have had a different campaign and we'd have had a different past five years. What's most interesting, though, is that I am not sure I believe Santos. I mean, on the one hand it would be like responsible Matt to do the right thing when his brother shirked it, but on the other hand, it's a perfect political excuse. I am sure the series isn't going to do anything with it because there's no time, but the possibilities certainly are interesting.

Remains of the Patowmack Canal between the ruins of Matildaville and the Potomac River gorge.

Great Falls high water marker. My younger son was born in mid-1996. The snow that shut down DC and resulted in the runoff that reached this height is the reason his year is so populous in the public schools. *g*

A close up of one of the little waterfalls that makes up the great falls, with very faint rainbow in the foreground.

And while you're back here, gacked from :

Введите текст на латинице

Must get up outrageously early as we want older son to have a cell phone, after his bus broke down twice last week, which requires a 7:30 a.m. parent meeting with his principal to assure her that he won't use it to sell drugs or anything. More tomorrow!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Poem for Sunday

It is you who must pursue the violet-scented Muse
By Sappho
Translation by Mary Maxwell

It is you who must pursue the violet-scented Muse with her gifts of beauty,
my young students, as well as continue to play a clear and melodious lyre.

I was lithesome once, but time and age have taken my body in their grasp,
and from glossy blackness my hair has been turned by them to brittle white.

Heavy my heart has become; my knees no longer can carry me; nor do I
dance as I did, in my once upon a time, as quick and supple as a fawn.

These things I bewail with every groaning breath, but what is there to do?
Agelessness is not a fate that comes to humans. Even, they say, the rosy arms

of goddess Dawn stretched to embrace handsome Tithonus. Madly
in love, she carried the virile young man all the way back to her home

at the edge of the world. Yet old age managed to get hold of him even there;
zealous, hoary-bearded Time finds even the bed partners of the immortals.


From Poet's Choice by Robert Pinsky in The Washington Post Book World, a new translation of the Sappho fragment published in the Times Literary Supplement last year (there are other translations here and here). "Sappho, who lived in the 7th century B.C., made poems that continue to influence Western love poetry," writes Pinsky. "Even the goddess of the dawn, that symbol of renewal, could not protect beautiful young Tithonus from the devastating effects of time. That this poem has survived so many dawns and outlived not only individuals but also languages and civilizations adds to its emotional force...every reader of this poem becomes one of Sappho's students. Those opening lines suggest how the lyre and the dance, all the arts of making beauty, are passed from generation to generation. In that process, the phrase 'it is you' is addressed to each new reader.

None of us managed to eat breakfast Saturday morning -- the kids were playing, was burning music, I was doing some computer stuff -- and at lunchtime we all decided we were in the mood for California Tortilla, which was fine since we had a pile of coupons for free food anyway. So we went out to lunch, then went to the Virginia side of Great Falls, where we hiked to Matildaville and out on the new overlooks, which are wheelchair-accessible and sturdier than the old wire fences that used to attempt unsuccessfully to keep people from climbing over onto the rocks -- which presents safety issues but more importantly puts at risk the ecosystem there, for the bedrock terrace hosts three plants that grow nowhere else in the world than the Potomac River gorge. (See, , you really should see this when you are in town!)

Great Falls of the Potomac seen from the Virginia side of the national park.

Some of the ruins of Matildaville -- named for the first wife of Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse" Harry Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee -- once a thriving town, now rubble in the woods around the remains of the Patowmack Canal.

This is a view of the Maryland side -- the platform from which I usually take photos of Great Falls, and the rapids below.

On the way home we picked up our minivan which had been getting serviced and grabbed some food and Irish Creme, which was still discounted for St. Patrick's Day. *g* There was a "sidewalk sale" going on in the local mini-mall where the liquor store is, with games for little kids and someone dressed up as a flamingo, where they were giving away promotional sunglasses, cup holders, highlighter pens and things like that. When we came home I was instructed to put a photo of penguins onto my MDA in case younger son got an overwhelming urge to look at penguins again while we were out of the house. I also wrote two quick articles on Scott Bakula (I really should see him in Shenandoah when it's at Ford's Theatre but its so expensive) and Trek fan films

I had to fold laundry -- lots, more than I could hope to get done during the half-hour Loreena McKennitt special that public access TV was rerunning -- so afterward I insisted that there had been enough basketball on in this house for a season and put on Patriot Games, which I had only seen once, in my early days of Sean Bean infatuation (I've been up and down enough on Harrison Ford over the years that I did not see several of his movies in the theater, including this one). I knew it would be fun seeing Sean, James Earl Jones and Patrick Bergin in this again, but I had forgotten that Samuel L. Jackson, David Threlfall and Alun Armstrong were in it and I had totally forgotten that Polly Walker played the kick-ass terrorist! I wasn't even aware of who she was until Dark Harbor though I'd seen her in Lorna Doone (again because of Sean) and A Dangerous Man, and I have been totally hot for her since Rome. The plot still has all kinds of silliness but Annapolis looked great, it was really fun to see Buckingham Palace and the plebes and the boat fight, and there was plenty of Clannad...I am so glad I got Patriot Games on DVD and now I need to watch the special features and see if Sean and Polly are on there!