Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

Moving Day
By Stephen Burt

Scraps and small reminders said the scissors to the shelf
Why do I feel empty said the oven to itself
Some of us are hungry said can opener to tin
Tell me said the radio how much you want to win
And take us along when you go.

All the way from Thailand said the topmost row of cans
Rise and turn around again explained the standing fan
None of us are broken said the tumblers to the towel
Scratch me up or polish me said bannister to dowel
And take us along when you go.

When they come to get you said a carton to its box
Count your lucky hours said a doorjamb to its locks
Will she will he will she sang the plumbing to the void
Did you mean to build me will I ever be destroyed

Carpet said to ceiling Can I offer any more
Nothing I can give you said the lintel to the door
You always overlook me said the baseboard to the stair
Board game valise said the attic and a folding chair
And take us along when you go.


For you, , though it came from Sunday's Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Burt's wit and powers of invention are on full display in 'Moving Day,'" writes Robert Pinsky, though "he keeps his sentences direct and his images homely...the penetrating, subtle plainness of language, like the distinct, skillful rhyming, harks back to the time of Dowland," the Renaissance composer who set poems to music also discussed in this week's column.

Also for since she likes to cook, though I posted it in to share: Chocolate Tort With Pistachio Cream, a recipe from George Washington's era sent to me by one of the chefs at Mount Vernon after we tried samples of it at the colonial fair last fall and it was one of the best tasting desserts ever. So are Lindt's chocolate covered marzipan balls, which and I were given samples of at lunchtime after eating with -- somehow in my rush to the mint and raspberry truffles, I had missed the fact that Lindt made chocolate covered marzipan, which is one of my and my father-in-law's favorite things. Ahh, chocolate joy!

TrekToday, The Trek Nation, Get Desperate and CSI Files have all moved to a new server which already seems to be moving faster than the old server, and there are better spam filters on the mail which has made my Thunderbird very happy, not to mention my clicking finger that was always sending the junk to the trash! I wrote articles on Patrick Stewart maybe possibly being done with science fiction until the next time, Rick Berman acknowledging that DS9 was the best non-Roddenberrian idea he ever had, and Jolene Blalock's Slow Burn with Ray Liotta being picked up by Lionsgate, all of which was reasonably fun to write about. In other online news I am trying to break up my tags that have so many entries they go to day view -- I think 100 is the cutoff though it may be 120 -- starting with sports and politics. I'm only halfway through the latter but I think I got most of the 2004 election stuff.

Tonight we watched the NOVA special on Mount Kilimanjaro and its melting glaciers (on a related note, I hear Mount St. Helens blew off steam today), then we watched the fourth and fifth episodes of Brideshead Revisited. I'm not really happy with how thoroughly Lady Marchmain is reviled; sure, she's a poster child for passive-aggressive and trying to meddle with her children, but at least she's there instead of running away to Italy with a mistress and she's completely up front about what she wants for herself and for them...she may play at niceness when she has selfish ends, but she doesn't make any pretense about what she would like everyone to do, and given that Sebastian is a second son and not in line to inherit anyway, it would be nice if he had some sort of plan to do something with his life, even if it's to be a decadent aristocrat. I am a lot happier when it's suggested that his alcoholism and his father's is a disease instead of a character flaw, too, which is something that even Charles (who is still insanely in love with him -- he hardly seems aware in these two episodes that Julia is alive except when she can help him with Sebastian) tends to do.

Parrots rescued by the Wilson Parrot Foundation will pose with visitors for a small donation (or for $10 you can have two parrots on each arm and a parrot on your head!)

Because the Jamestown exhibits apparently had exclusive rights to use the waterfront, the parrot rescue people had set up at the Torpedo Factory, which meant that there were not fantastic views like this one with ships in the background at the 2004 Waterfront Festival...

Or this one from the 2005 Waterfront Festival...

But hey, as long as there are birds somewhere, people are happy and the foundation raises money!

So I am caught up on Trek news, laundry, Bar Mitzvah scheduling and GMR articles but now I am behind on LJ comments! Soon! *wails*

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

By Walt Whitman

I was asking for something specific and perfect for my city,
Whereupon lo! upsprang the aboriginal name.

Now I see what there is in a name, a word, liquid, sane,
    unruly, musical, self-sufficient,
I see that the word of my city is that word from of old,
Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays,
Rich, hemm'd thick all around with sailships and
    steamships, an island sixteen miles long, solid-founded,
Numberless crowded streets, high growths of iron, slender,
    strong, light, splendidly uprising toward clear skies,
Tides swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown,
The flowing sea-currents, the little islands, larger adjoining
    islands, the heights, the villas,
The countless masts, the white shore-steamers, the lighters,
    the ferry-boats, the black sea-steamers well-model'd,
The down-town streets, the jobbers' houses of business, the
    houses of business of the ship-merchants and money-
    brokers, the river-streets,
Immigrants arriving, fifteen or twenty thousand in a week,
The carts hauling goods, the manly race of drivers of horses,
    the brown-faced sailors,
The summer air, the bright sun shining, and the sailing
    clouds aloft,
The winter snows, the sleigh-bells, the broken ice in the
    river, passing along up or down with the flood-tide or
The mechanics of the city, the masters, well-form'd,
    beautiful-faced, looking you straight in the eyes,
Trottoirs throng'd, vehicles, Broadway, the women, the
    shops and shows,
A million people--manners free and superb--open voices--
    hospitality--the most courageous and friendly young
City of hurried and sparkling waters! city of spires and masts!
City nested in bays! my city!


For the past several days the news has been nearly ten degrees off in predicting the temperature every day...Sunday at the ball game we were not expecting to melt in the parking lot, and Monday it was over 90 degrees in Alexandria even by the water! We had a nice day anyway, though we did not end up going aboard the replica of the Godspeed, one of the three ships that came from England to establish the Jamestown colony in 1607; the lines were over two and a half hours long in the blazing sun, and since we are planning to go to Jamestown and Yorktown next spring, and since there are replicas of the Susan Constant and Discovery in Jamestown right now, and a new Discovery is being built in Maine to sail next year for the anniversary, we figure we will go on the Godspeed there if we can't go aboard in a couple of weeks when it's in Baltimore along with the HMS Northumberland.

There's a traveling fair of sorts traveling with the Godspeed on Virginia's 400th birthday and the plans for celebration in the different counties, so we went to lots of exhibits and displays and made a tile to be part of the giant American flag made of individual family tiles in Jamestown next May. There were also historical children's games, demonstrations of historical crafts and cooking, and a number of computerized and interactive activities -- the most curious of which was an exhibit about great Americans, which included people like Steve Jobs (we're betting that Apple is a sponsor of the exhibit) and various Chrysler and Ford chairmen as well as the person who pioneered stem cell research, but not some of what seem to me to be really obvious big name choices. They'd gone out of their way to seek diversity -- Maria Tallchief, Irving Berlin, Jim Thorpe, Rosa Parks -- but there were a lot of commercial interests represented. Naturally the maritime exhibits were my favorites, but the kids liked a lot of them and given the heat I was impressed they paid attention for as long as they did.

After walking along the river, we ended up in the Torpedo Factory -- once what the name states, now an artists' studio -- where we looked at metal sculpture and decorative arts as well as the torpedo museum, and discovered that the parrot rescue people who are always at the waterfront festival were near the building, so we went to see the birds, and then we walked up King Street to the visitor's center in Ramsay House and stopped in some of the stores -- there's a great boutique with cat-themed souvenirs and a tobacconist which is also a Scottish importer where one can find, in addition to tartans and coats of arms, things like shortbread, imported Cadbury and Runrig CDs.

In the evening, since we had spent much of the day in one of his chosen cities, we watched the History Channel special on Washington the Warrior ("America's First Action Hero"), which was interesting if a lot of the same material from the special last year on Washington's career during the French and Indian War...I did not realize that he had been present when his stepdaughter died, and when the professors started going on about what an extraordinary thing it was that he had turned down an offer of a crown, I wondered just how lucky we all got that he had no children of his own. If he had had a son, given the pressures of the time, would he have felt obligated to try to establish a dynasty for his own children's sake even if he thought it was a bad idea for the nation? Things worked out really well, I think, that he became the father of our country rather than a biological father.

The replica of the Godspeed docked in the Potomac River at Alexandria, Virginia.

The ship is traveling with a tent fair from all over Virginia and the UK near Greenwich where the original Godspeed launched, showing what colonial life was like and encouraging tourism for Virginia's 400th birthday.

Here is the Godspeed from another angle, with the Potomac Belle riverboat visible behind the gazebos.

Since the Godspeed is a working vessel with a full time crew living aboard, the areas belowdecks contain more modern amenities than the original Godspeed, so there is an exhibit in a tent replicating some aspects of the deck where the immigrants lived during the voyage. (The reenactors have a lot more personal space than the passengers would have enjoyed!)

There are also assorted exhibits on colonial life. Here is a demonstration of how coffee beans, nuts and chocolate were crushed for cooking. There were samples. *g*

I did have one crisis. It seems that I got something on the sensor for my camera -- there is a smudge that shows up in the upper left corner on all my photos, whether I am using the macro lens or the telephoto so I know it's not the lens. I called Ritz Camera but they said that they'd have to ship it to Nikon, as they won't mess with it for fear of breaking it. Does anyone have any suggestions? I am not sending my camera to Nikon for six weeks when we are going on a long vacation in four weeks!

And I have discovered L'Occitane en Provence's Neroli perfume. I MUST HAVE THIS. They had samples in my local store but none in stock and all they have on the web is quite expensive! I don't suppose anyone knows a similarly wonderful less expensive alternative?

I got very little work done this weekend due to the holiday and all the running around...must catch up tomorrow!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Poem for Monday

Spring Offensive
By Wilfred Owen

Halted against the shade of a last hill
They fed, and eased of pack-loads, were at ease;
And leaning on the nearest chest or knees,
Carelessly slept. But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.
Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge;
And though the summer oozed into their veins
Like an injected drug for their bodies' pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent ridge of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky's mysterious glass.

Hour after hour they ponder the warm field
And the far valley behind, where the buttercups
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up;
When even the little brambles would not yield
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing arms.
They breathe like trees unstirred.

Till like a cold gust thrills the little word
At which each body and its soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste,-
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun,-
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.

So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; earth set sudden cups
In thousands for their blood; and the green slope
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.

Of them who running on that last high place
Breasted the surf of bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell's upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world's verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.

But what say such as from existence' brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink,
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames-
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder-
Why speak not they of comrades that went under?


It is never a bad afternoon at the ballpark when your team wins 10-4 with multiple home runs, some by the same batter. The Dodgers' pitchers were not having a good day at all, but the Nationals' Nick Johnson had a good game by anyone's reckoning -- two home runs, so much for his slump -- plus Alfonso Soriano got a homer and Ramon Ortiz, who earned the win, got a hit and turned it into two bases on an error. Everything after the third inning was anticlimactic -- the Nats got five runs -- and one of the relief pitchers hit two batters and walked in a run, and we were trying to figure out when Nomar Garciaparra ended up on the Dodgers since we thought he was on the Cubs.

Of course, since we were at a ball game (with my parents, it being my father's birthday -- he was grumpy about that, and about having a head cold), we ate lots of hot dogs and chicken fingers and french fries and peanuts and ice cream and crap, so we weren't all that hungry for dinner and ended up ordering a pizza back at my parents' house. had made my father a white chocolate and strawberry cake, two of his favorite things, so he was quite pleased about that. Plus they have a new deck set with reclining chairs and a big glass table and umbrella so they were happy to be able to show that off. And there is a nest full of baby birds in the awning between the house and the garage and I got great photos of them! My parents are likely not to be around for Father's Day, as it's on their 45th wedding anniversary and they are talking about going out of town, so this was kind of the big dad celebration.

When we finally came home, we put on the national capitol Memorial Day concert which had caused traffic getting to the stadium to be an unmitigated nightmare, as most major routes into DC from the GW Parkway were closed...I expected to find it entirely odious, not only because there were some singers in the lineup I really don't like (though seeing Jonathan Kent singing was really fun -- John Schneider has a definitely Shatneresque quality about him!) And when Colin Powell showed up and they spotted John Roberts in the audience, I rolled my eyes and said yup, this'll be the great Republican Party self-congratulatory veteran-fest. Maybe that's what the producers intended, but it sure didn't play that way...there was a strong "what the hell are our sons and daughters still doing in Iraq" vibe through the entire production, and Dianne Wiest had me sobbing when she read the story of the woman whose son was planning to be a pediatrician, who died with a group of his National Guard buddies. (I also never knew Charles Durning's devastating, to have survived a POW camp only to learn that he'd been declared dead and his wife had remarried.) Anyway, there seemed to be an emphasis on the reasons for previous wars, how senseless this one feels and the need to bring the soldiers home. Made it worth sitting through some of the country music that is not my thing.

told me to post the baby birds but since it is Memorial Day (and now I am singing the TOFOG song with that title -- Russell Crowe's mother's father was a filmmaker during WWII), and since I went to the baseball game, I will start and end with a couple more photos from Arlington National Cemetery and include Ortiz pitching and the birds peeking:

World War II veterans and an honor guard salute as Taps is played at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

Baby Birds

Monday we are going to see the new replica Godspeed docked in Alexandria!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Poem for Sunday

Fine Knacks for Ladies
Adapted by John Dowland

Fine knacks for ladies, cheap, choice, brave and new!
Good pennyworths! but money cannot move.
I keep a fair but for the fair to view;
A beggar may be liberal of love.
Though all my wares be trash, the heart is true.

Great gifts are guiles and look for gifts again;
My trifles come as treasures from the mind.
It is a precious jewel to be plain;
Sometimes in shell the Orient's pearls we find.
Of others take a sheaf, of me a grain.

Within this pack pins, points, laces and gloves,
And diverse toys fitting a country fair.
But in my heart, where duty serves and loves,
Turtles and twins, court's brood, a heavenly pair.
Happy the heart that thinks of no removes!


Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World notes that the poem above is anonymous, set to music by John Dowland, who lived from 1563 to 1626. "Just saying the poem aloud creates a kind of tune," Pinsky states. "The unknown a sincere plainness for his ways of writing and courting. Cunning as well as tuneful, the poem is a rather fancy assertion of being straightforward or unadorned. Writing a poem that imitates the call of a street vendor is a paradoxically elaborate way of suggesting that the 'wares' offered are unpretentious and truehearted...hard for any turtledove to resist this dazzling assertion of simplicity. A 'sheaf' of others -- a sheaf of pages or of wheat-stalks -- equals one grain of this peddler's wares.

Saturday we went to the International Spy Museum, which is housed in a building more than 100 years old in a neighborhood undergoing rapid restoration, and which we had never visited before. It's a fantastic museum with kids -- we were there with five in all, ranging from three to twelve, and although the youngest got restless in the historic section of the exhibit (no computers to play with there), the older kids were completely absorbed, particularly in the early part where you pick the identity of a spy, memorize details and then put them into a computer for a "mission." There's also a climbing-and-crawling through ducts exercise, a bunch of computerized activities like identifying a suspected spy from surveillance video and picking equipment for an infiltration, and there are a great many neat things to look at -- some of our favorites in the main exhibit hall were James Bond's Aston Martin, a piece of fabric modeled on Elizabeth I's dress from the Rainbow Portrait with eyes and ears embroidered on it, an umbrella with a firearm hidden in the handle that's a copy of one used for an assassination and a display on whether Bacon or Marlowe wrote Shakespeare using modern cryptography to look for clues (conclusion: no).

My kids' single favorite item was probably the doggie doo camera -- a miniature camera hidden in a pile of dried poop, on the theory that no one would pick it up to examine it. There is a traveling exhibit on "Spy Treasures of Hollywood" that has Diana Rigg's leather pants from The Avengers (I think I may have scandalized my friend from Chicago when I said I wanted to get into Emma Peel's pants, heh), some TV Mission: Impossible props like Barbara Bain's fake ID photos, a whole bunch of James Bond items including shoes that demonstrate that much as I don't like Sean Connery, the man has HUGE feet, and some Austin Powers stuff that the kids appreciated, not having seen most of the movies and TV shows there. They were a little interested in the Mata Hari sex-spying but much more interested in the use of pigeons for surveillance! And they had these little light-up glitter lamps with the museum logo for $8 and it is making my desk a happy place. Regrettably, there were no photos allowed in the exhibits, but here are a few from around the museum:

The Warder Building, one of several connected historic buildings that house the International Spy Museum.

T-shirt from the gift shop that son found most appropriate. (He actually once claimed that he "lost" his report card when he tripped and dropped it in a storm drain!)

A few blocks away, the FBI Building. *cue X-Files theme, which reminds me of the time I called for an article for with the words, "I'm calling from AnotherUniverse..." only to be told in an exasperated voice that the FBI did not really have a paranormal division*

Our kids and our friends' kids putting their hands in the fountain at the Sculpture Garden next to the National Gallery of Art, just before the little boy in red fell in -- fortunately his parents had brought a change of clothes.

Tonight we discovered that The Terminator was on and even though it is R-rated (for bloodiness, the F word and Linda Hamilton's breasts), we let the kids watch it because they know so much about the Governator that we figured they were entitled to know where he came from. I think of that analytically as a pretty good movie but I had forgotten just how much I love it. Makes me want to reread Constance Penley's essay on the film's use of the word "motherfucker" and how the primal scene plays out as a form of utopian thinking. *G* The kids greatly enjoyed the movie and now I must track down not only Judgment Day, which in some ways I think is better than the first -- I recall feeling that it was more feminist, with Sarah being much more in control of her own destiny -- but Rise of the Machines, which I have never seen. Oh, Arnold, why couldn't you have stayed in Hollywood? The Running Man and Total Recall are among my favorite guilty pleasures!

Sunday is my father's birthday and we are going to the Nationals-Dodgers game. The Dodgers (Brooklyn, not L.A.) were his childhood team so I am not even sure who he's rooting for. I am rooting for the Nationals to justify all the money DC is spending on them by winning!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Poem for Saturday

From A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V Scene 1
By William Shakespeare

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!


The Shakespeare is because my older son is reading A Midsummer Night's Dream in school, so we watched the Michael Hoffman film...because with Kevin Kline, Rupert Everett, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci, David Strathairn, Anna Friel, Bernard Hill, Sam Rockwell, and naked Dominic West and Christian Bale, plus cinematography that makes reference to many famous Pre-Raphaelite and Neoclassical paintings, what's not to like, even if it does have Calista Flockhart struggling to make her dialogue sound natural? It was a pretty quiet day; wrote reviews of The Da Vinci Code for GMR and "By Any Other Name" for TrekToday, had a long conversation with my mistress slave , had dinner with my parents at Amici Miei (excellent salmon ravioli). Got a whole pile of brochures on travel in Wales and now can't decide whether I want to go to Paris or southwest Britain next spring. Does anyone have any United frequent flyer miles they no longer want/need? *g*

: Buy Me A Drink
1. Where did you grow up?
In the suburbs outside Washington, DC.
2. Have you ever been to Indiana? Several times, though besides one night in Indianapolis before a Colts-Redskins game, I don't know that I've ever slept in Indiana; we lived in Chicago for four years and would take day trips.
3. Describe yourself at age 18: Geek. Well, thinner geek than I am now.
4. How do you deal with pain? Seek medication if it's physical pain and cry if it's emotional pain. (I have never experienced the sort of "good pain" that supposedly releases endorphins, or I would be a lot better about exercising.)
5. When is the last time you screwed up? According to my son, five minutes ago when I told him he was not allowed to play video games even though it's the weekend because he got in trouble at soccer practice yesterday.

: Honey, I’m Home!
1. How many places have you lived in your life?
Childhood in two different DC suburbs, college in Philadelphia, grad school in Chicago, now back in the DC suburbs.
2. Which was your favorite and why and what street was it on? It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite, as they were such different times in my life; I have happy memories from all of them. I suppose my favorite view was the lake out my window on Lake Shore Drive in Hyde Park, Chicago.
3. If you could live anywhere for the rest of your life, where would it be? In the Cotswolds.
4. What would your ideal home have in it? My husband, my kids till they're of college age, cats, parakeets, gerbils, plants taken care of by someone other than me, great big windows, candles, a view of some body of water, big comfy couches, lots and lots of bookcases with lots and lots of books, more than one really awesome computer, the bathtub from the Prefects' Bathroom at Hogwarts.
5. Can you describe your current crib? Total disaster area mess with lots of junk I love.

Test scores are in: Northeast still has dumbest drivers! DC finished second to last in the nation! "Approximately one in three drivers said they usually do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. At least one out of five drivers did not know that pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way." Well, I could have told them that this is true in DC, but sheesh, I was hoping that maybe people were just jerks and not entirely ignorant! Graar!

At lunch with , and my kids...

...geese in the water...

...and coming ashore...

...and being generally adorable.

Saturday an old friend from both college and grad school is in town from Chicago so we are all taking our kids to the Spy Museum! Will not be around much!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Poem for Friday

Alfonso Street
By Eugene Gloria

In Sariaya, Quezon Province, where
my father's people live, bananas and
mangoes in colored cellophane adorn
windowsills like gaudy evening wear.
In Botong's pastorals, a fluvial fiesta
litters Laguna de Bay with lighted
tiny boats like a fleet of candled hopefuls.

Elsewhere, a nervous boy measures his week
with good days and bad days like innocents
walking on pavements wary of cracks.
In Caracas, a swarm of bees attacks a boy.
His dog shields his body with its own.
The boy lives; the dog dies shortly after.

On Alfonso Street, a kid I knew,
is paraded on a wooden wagon
with a matronly woman at the lead.
My metal trucks with missing wheels,
he once coveted. Stateside toys in chipped
reds and blues I got secondhand
from the children of American GIs.
His cart with wooden wheels, and rings
round his eyes, are gray as metal spokes.
What good are busted trucks to him
whose brand name toys are always new?
Fiesta prince with a shuttlecock crown,
fellow heir of bad blood.

In the kingdom of children where
we conjure angels from rain, a boy's
will could spin and hitch the earth.
Here my wheel-less truck remains.
An ashen kid, gray and gilded
is trundled by his mom in evening wear.


Have spent all evening working on a Stupid Thing so this will be a short entry. Not that much to report anyway; the highlight of my day was lunch with at the Corner Bakery nearest the baby geese, which we went to see. (They are still adorable.) Stopped at Target to get bleach, discovered that all bathing suits were on sale, bought one for the beach next month since last year I had only one that fit and got tired of doing laundry twice a day. Watched "By Any Other Name" to review Friday; unlike "Patterns of Force" last week which did not hold up as well as I remembered, this one held up better, even if it is rather silly.

Am very pleased Helena Bonham Carter is playing Bellatrix in OOTP onscreen! And very pleased chocolate may boost brain power! And pleased beyond words because told me about the BritSuperstore which ships chocolate covered Kendal Mint Cakes to the US! Trek news today was Nimoy donating money for modern art and Shatner being Shatner; what more can anyone ask of him, really? So between all this and Enron convictions, a good day!

Why we still have not repaired the top front step...

...there are TWO chipmunks living under it!

Though we did not realize that until today when we spotted them both outside the storm door at once (sorry about the glare and my pink shirt reflected in the glass).

And who can resist that face? Not I.

And while you're back here, gacked from :

In the dark ages, how would cruisedirector die?

You would run off of a poorly-lit cliff while in pursuit of your secret lover. Cliffs were even more of a hazard back in the day, you know.
'How would you die in the dark ages?' at

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Kenneth Lay and Enron


That is all.

*goes to lunch to celebrate with *

Poem for Thursday

By Joy Harjo

I must keep from breaking into the story by force
for if I do I will find myself with a war club in my hand
and the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,
your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity
and from each drop of blood
springs up sons and daughters, trees,
a mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north
not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.
Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have
broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand
before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter
of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war
and desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

and made songs of the blood, the marrow.


My day was cut in half by younger son's orthodontist appointment (at which, of course, he needed brackets reglued), so this is probably going to be a dorky disjointed entry. I spent the morning alternately squeeing and seething in jealousy with my good friend in London who's a critic for The Guardian, who got taken to opening night of Sunday in the Park With George in the West End by another theatre critic and was sitting three seats over from Patrick Stewart and two rows up from Alan Rickman! This seems terribly unfair to me, who dished out good money to see Bernadette Peters on Broadway. I don't see why I couldn't have been her date, other than being on the wrong continent and the probability that I would have embarrassed her by squeeing aloud. Which I am also doing over the fact that Jason Isaacs and Viggo Mortensen will both be in the film production of Good (will Jason be playing a Jew or a Nazi this time?) and Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams are both going to be in the Bob Dylan biopic with Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Moore and Richard Gere. (It was another slow Trek news day...yet more blather about who is joining J.J. Abrams on the Trek XI production team and yet more inventions credited to or paralleled with Star Trek tech.)

In the evening we all accompanied older son to his Bar Mitzvah tutoring, which only lasts a half-hour, so then we could go to younger son's school book fair being held at the local Barnes & Noble since there is no room in the school itself for a Scholastic book fair since all the portables have been shut due to mold issues. I behaved and did not buy anything, mostly because I have a pile of books both for fun and for review sitting next to my desk...Cooper's Victory, Sierra's Secret Supper, the new C.S. Lewis biography, Wilcox's Why Buffy Matters, Gunn Allen's Pocahontas, Wicker's Not In Kansas Anymore, Steinke's Holy Skirts, and the awesome book that comes with The Fairytale Tarot with some stories I don't know...oh and speaking of Tarot, Kris Waldherr and Lisa Hunt, who do some of my favorite contemporary Goddess art, have put together a web site,, which has free readings using their own spreads and decks. They are working on a book together, and since I love both Waldherr's Book of Goddesses and Hunt's Celestial Goddesses, I am looking forward to this.

Ironically enough, there was a special on Arlington National Cemetery on National Geographic on public television (it's on again several more times in the DC area if anyone is interested, Arlington: Field of Honor). I learned from it that John F. Kennedy was impressed to realize when he visited the cemetery that Memorial Bridge was built where it was specifically to form a link between Robert E. Lee's property and the Lincoln Memorial, as seen in the photo below. When JFK was assassinated, his brother Robert requested that he be buried at the foot of the hill on which Arlington House stands, so JFK is directly in line between the Confederate general and the Union president. RFK is buried on the same hillside a few yards away.

The graves of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis and the eternal flame. Their son Patrick, who was born and died while Kennedy was in the White House, and a daughter who was stillborn are also buried there. (Sorry about the angle, there were a lot of people -- this was the most crowded spot at the cemetery.)

The platform across from JFK's grave overlooking Washington, DC.

The view from the hill above the JFK gravesite, from the front porch of Arlington House, looking over the bridge at the Lincoln Memorial (the Washington Monument, Capitol Building and Library of Congress are to the right).

Robert Francis Kennedy's grave on the hillside beneath Arlington House.

How is it possible not only that there are still basketball playoffs going on, but that they aren't even in the finals yet? And how it it possible that Dick Cheney STILL has not been indicted for anything?!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

The Bearhug
By Nick Laird

It’s not as if I’m intending on spending the rest of my life
doing this:
besuited, rebooted, filing to work, this poem a fishbone in
my briefcase.
The scaffolding clinging St Paul’s is less urban ivy than
skin, peeling off.

A singular sprinkler shaking his head spits at the newsprint
of birdshit.
It’s going unread: Gooseberry Poptarts, stale wheaten
bread, Nutella and toothpaste.
An open-armed crane turns to embrace the aeroplanes
passing above.

I hadn’t the foggiest notion. Imagine: me, munching
cardboard and rubbish,
but that’s just what they meant when they said, Come in,
you’re dead-beat,
take the weight off your paws, you’re a big weary grizzly
with a hook through his mouth,

here, have some of this love.


The big activity of my day was rearranging CDs because I couldn't get to a Loreena McKennitt CD when I wanted it, even though it was actually on the big CD rack in alphabetical order with the rest of her CDs; the lower shelves are unnavigable at this point due to husband's pack rat music-collecting tendencies, so I yanked what I wanted to move to higher shelves, then had to repack the lower shelves, and one of the shelves collapsed off its dowels and had to be remounted, and things just generally went downhill from there. So, yeah, there went the morning. Then I had lunch with at Tara Thai and we walked around the lake to see the baby geese (two families munching the grass by the hotels and then another family I did not see with my kids over the weekend with two tiny little fluffy babies).

When I came home to get my kids, I decided I needed to make my own Celtic Woman II CD with Loreena and Enya and Maire and Méav and a little gratuitous Lisa Moscatiello because it's not her fault that she was born Italian-American. Then I remembered that I never burned the Annie Haslam song Jennifer Cutting wrote for a charity fundraiser for local hunger and did that, and by the time I was done playing with music I realized I had better write my Trek news or I wouldn't get it done, so I did that (slooow news day -- Sternbach talking about starship design and couple in Alaska who named their son James Tiberius Kirk). And then it was practically dinnertime.

As for where the evening went, there were books to be returned at the library and then books on travel in France to be flipped through and older son had to read all the Star Trek cartoons from Bloom County aloud and younger son was making penguin puppets for a drama show at school where they picked five student plays out of everyone's to do and his was one of the five (and, naturally, is about penguins!). got me the first season of Boston Legal on DVD, which pleases me greatly! And at Best Buy, so it came with the bonus disc with the last four episodes of The Practice with Shatner! And that is about all the excitement!

The United States Marine Corps War Memorial...

...aka Iwo Jima.

Here, with Rosslyn, Virginia in the background.

And here facing the park from the rear.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

A Boat Is a Lever
By Ralph Burns

    --after Simone Weil

After my student went to the doctor to
Check out the rash speckling his
Right hand and found out he had
Leukemia, that the cancer had spread
Into his lungs, then where did he go?
I've called his number several times.
Flat-bottom boats light in water.
Brown brack and mud smell,
Stumps like chewed-off candles,
Cypress knees, knock and small
Talk floating over water, a motor
Chuffing off, a small blue cloud of excess
Gasoline spreads an ugly
Rainbow on tan water. Every
Thing rests on its proposition
Including smooth isobars along the bay.
Since collective thought cannot exist
As thought it passes into things.
Chemo takes a few gray hairs. Mustard
Cruises the bloodstream under a blizzard
Of white cells. Subdued by the arbitrary,
Suspended, the one in the boat still needs
To row it -- to direct the muscles, to
Maintain equilibrium with air
And water. If water is waveless
Then the boat reads by leading marks.
There is nothing more beautiful
Than a boat.


Weird Monday. Younger son's school had no electricity in the morning, they sent an e-mail to parents in case people were trying to call the school and unable to get through, promised to bring in bag lunches if they couldn't serve the school lunches, I stayed home in case they decided to shut the building but they got power back a little after eleven. Older son went to the health room with an upset stomach and called to ask to be picked up from the bus stop after deciding he could make it through the school day, then announced that it was from the pulled pork sandwich he had yesterday because he is convinced that hamburgers and indeed all beef upsets his stomach...I haven't eaten beef or pork in many years and find it interesting that he is turning against it even though he likes it. He was all right by the time he had to go to fencing this evening.

Trek news today was Alexander Siddig joining a production of the Nativity with Shohreh Aghdashloo and Keisha Castle-Hughes, meaning that the main cast is more Muslim than Christian, which pleases me for some reason (Castle-Hughes is playing the Virgin Mary as an impoverished 15-year-old), and Jeri Ryan and James Woods hyping their new show Shark which is co-executive produced by a guy I went to elementary school with. At night I had loads of laundry to fold so we watched War of the Worlds, which was on Cinemax, as none of us had seen it. I had relatively low expectations and I must say that the film lived down to them.

War of the Worlds won't make my top 20 Spielberg list and may actually finish second-to-last, because I don't think I could dislike a Spielberg movie more than Hook. (I haven't seen Munich yet but am willing to bet I will think it's a better film.) It isn't just Tom Cruise, who gives a decent performance given the screenplay (though I thought he was better in Spielberg's Minority Report). It's that the 9/11 visual analogies didn't really work for me and I couldn't really figure out a point to such a film if not that, the paranoia, the losing-everything terror; it didn't do simple us-them hatemongering because a lot of the humans behaved almost as badly as the aliens, but it's still pretty dark and cynical -- there were an awful lot of 9/11 stories about people helping and saving total strangers.

Arlington House, the home Confederate General Robert E. Lee shared with his wife Mary Custis who had inherited it as a relative of George Washington, in whose honor it was built.

Lee wrote his resignation letter from the US army here before the Civil War.

His family lost the property during the war, when it was used as a site from which to fortify Washington, DC defenses.

Lee and Custis' son was later paid for the property, which was already being used as a military cemetery.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Poem for Monday

The American Flag
By Joseph Rodman Drake

When Freedom from her mountain height
  Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
  And set the stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
And striped its pure celestial white
With streakings of the morning light;
Then from his mansion in the sun
She called her eagle bearer down,
And gave into his mighty hand
The symbol of her chosen land.

Majestic monarch of the cloud,
  Who rear'st aloft thy regal form,
To hear the tempest trumpings loud
And see the lightning lances driven,
  When strive the warriors of the storm,
And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven,
Child of the sun! to thee 't is given
  To guard the banner of the free,
To hover in the sulphur smoke,
To ward away the battle stroke,
And bid its blendings shine afar,
Like rainbows on the cloud of war,
  The harbingers of victory!

Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly,
The sign of hope and triumph high,
When speaks the signal trumpet tone,
And the long line comes gleaming on.
Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet,
Has dimmed the glistening bayonet,
Each soldier eye shall brightly turn
To where thy sky-born glories burn,
And, as his springing steps advance,
Catch war and vengeance from the glance.
And when the cannon-mouthings loud
Heave in wild wreaths the battle shroud,
And gory sabres rise and fall
Like shoots of flame on midnight's pall;
  Then shall thy meteor glances glow,
And cowering foes shall shrink beneath
  Each gallant arm that strikes below
That lovely messenger of death.

Flag of the seas! on ocean wave
Thy stars shall glitter o'er the brave;
When death, careering on the gale,
Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail,
And frighted waves rush wildly back
Before the broadside's reeling rack,
Each dying wanderer of the sea
Shall look at once to heaven and thee,
And smile to see thy splendors fly
In triumph o'er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart's hope and home!
  By angel hands to valor given;
Thy stars have lit the welkin dome,
  And all thy hues were born in heaven.
Forever float that standard sheet!
  Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
With Freedom's soil beneath our feet,
  And Freedom's banner streaming o'er us?


I was out pretty much all day Sunday after posting some little bitty Star Trek news, on a lovely partly overcast day when we had intended to make a brief stop at Arlington National Cemetery on the way to the Smithsonian, but ended up very happy to be outdoors and spending the entire afternoon at Arlington and the Marine Corps War Memorial (better known as the Iwo Jima Memorial). I haven't been to the cemetery in easily 25 years -- I was trying to guess the last time by remembering dates, but all I can say for sure is that it was before the Challenger exploded and long before Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was buried next to her first husband. I'd never been inside Arlington House, Robert E. Lee and Mary Custis' home originally built as a memorial to her ancestor George Washington, nor obviously had I seen the Challenger and Columbia memorials. And I'd actually never visited Iwo Jima, though I'd seen it from the highway. Though there were tour buses and clusters of people around Kennedy's grave, it wasn't very crowded, which I assume will be very different next weekend when there will be an American flag on every soldier's grave.

The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Memorial for the crew of the space shuttle Challenger.

Remember the Maine...the mast of the USS Maine, here as a monument to the crew which died near Havana when she sank.

An obelisk marking a grave with the more familiar obelisk of the Washington Monument in the distance.

An officer on the way to a gathering of World War II veterans at the amphitheatre.

We were taken out to dinner at Red Rock Canyon Grill by my father (who had come with us to Arlington, my mother having been at my sister's in New York). I had the excellent salmon Caesar salad, as did younger son, and we saw the baby geese from a distance across the lake. This evening we had a serious disagreement with our new router, which after many hours of struggling offline is still not working the way it's supposed to -- we had to route it through the old router, which only has two working ports out of four -- hence the new router -- but when we plug the new one in directly it can't find the IP address or internet connection and we don't understand why (am leaving it to to figure out as I doubt I have even explained what the problem was adequately, but it involved a lot of plugging and unplugging the cable modem from different computers and the same with both the old and new router!) So I've been mostly offline and will catch up later.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Poem for Sunday

Touch Me
By Stanley Kunitz

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
                  and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, another appreciation of Kunitz, here is the final poem in his Collected Poems (first published in 1995). Robert Pinsky recalls Kunitz as "determined to live, to fight death to the last millimeter, to endure. That force of will underlies the baroque formality of his early poems, the plainness of poems such as 'Touch Me,' his ambitious and meticulous gardening, his fostering of younger poets -- all driven by a tremendous loyalty to life."

Despite absolutely gorgeous weather, I spent the better part of Saturday indoors watching things, broken up by a couple of long walks. We went to see The Da Vinci Code, which (in opposition to most reviewers, it seems) I really liked. It's not a perfect movie but then it wasn't a perfect book. Some of the complaints a lot of critics had didn't make much sense to me and made me nervous, like all the griping that there was no sexual chemistry between Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon and Audrey Tautou's Sophie Neveu; I was afraid the filmmakers had written a gratuitous romance between the two of them and was much more afraid of that than I was of a lack of romance, and was pleasantly relieved to discover that no such romance had been added! In general I agree with everyone who thought Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Paul Bettany were more compelling (and playing more compelling characters) than Hanks or Tautou, the latter of whom suffered in particular because Ron Howard is just incapable of letting a woman be just as smart and independent (or at least interdependent) as a man, but other than some snips in the story necessary to stop the film from getting too long and a couple of flashbacks that seemed a little History Channel, I thought it was a very fair adaptation of the novel and a fun souvenir of many years as a fan of the conspiracy theory theology of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. (I'm reviewing the film for GMR, so I won't say too much about it now!)

Since we were at the complex where the goslings we first saw the weekend of Revenge of the Sith grew up last spring, we walked around the lake to see this year's goslings (and a couple of the ones from last year, now adult geese but their markings are unmistakable since they're pretty clearly a hybrid of a Canadian goose and a domestic one):

Across from the rental paddleboats, the hotel and the restaurants, goslings and their parents.

Because is there anything cuter (besides penguins, kittens, banana slugs and other things of which my son reminded me)?

They do a fine job of keeping the lawn trimmed, too.

This is how close the highway is to the far side of the lake at the complex!

Then we came home, I wrote a few articles, and we took the kids for a walk in the neighborhood since we'd spent so much of the afternoon sitting. (Younger son had had soccer in the morning -- his team lost again but at least they scored some goals this week!) At 8 we discovered that Meet the Fockers was on, and we figured we'd watch it since we had not seen it. I am not a big Ben Stiller fan but that movie is hilarious! I could have watched it for Barbra Streisand and Dustin Hoffman alone, but I liked everyone in it -- Robert De Niro, Blythe Danner whom I normally resent just for being the odious and overrated Gwyneth Paltrow's mother, Teri Polo who will forever be Helen Santos to me now. My kids kept saying "that's just wrong!" about things, particularly Barbra the sex therapist and Bobby with the fake breasts so he could "nurse" his grandson, but we all laughed a lot and again I must wonder exactly what critics expect when they pan a film like ain't Life of Brian but then what else is?

Maybe I am just easy, though really I hate most commercial comedies and action films. (Though I love epics...I have now seen Kingdom of Heaven three times and while I stand by everything negative I said about the screenplay and directing the first time, I have enjoyed it every time.) Oh, we got a preview today for Miami Vice...if I start to sound like I am developing a crush on Colin Farrell, please remind me that I already have one imaginary boyfriend who throws telephones and is trouble enough, or make me sit through Alexander again which I am pretty sure could cure me of attachment to anything and anyone in the film, even Val Kilmer and Angelina Jolie!

I'm always ambivalent about horse racing, because I know what they do to those horses -- drugs, whipping, painful training -- but it's still so exciting to watch the horses run that I try to block those things out during the Triple Crown races. Today I got a reminder of everything despictable about the sport. My younger son -- who did not even watch the race -- heard on the news that the horse might have broken his leg and then acted the way he did when the gerbils died, putting his blankie over his head and squeaking, very upset. They took Barbaro to my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, for surgery and I am really hoping he pulls through. I am sure as hell not watching the Belmont.

Sunday we have to replace our router which is on the fritz. Then we are going downtown to Arlington Cemetery because the kids have never been there and to the National Museum of American History to see the Central American Traditions Festival and the Jim Henson exhibit. And then we are having dinner with my father, so I will not be around much!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Poem for Saturday

A View of the Sea
By J. D. McClatchy

The argument had smouldered for a week,
Long enough for the fine points of fire,
Banked from the start against self-righteousness,
To have blurred in the pale ash of recrimination.
I couldn't tell which wound would be the deeper —
To stay on, behind the slammed door,
Forcing you to listen to me talk about it
With others, or to leave you altogether.
What caused the argument — another crumpled
Piece of paper with a phone number on it —
Felt at last as lost as all the bright
Beginnings, years back. And then...
                                                        And then
You were standing at the sink with your back to me
And must have sensed me there behind you, watching.
Suddenly you turned around and I saw in your eyes
What all along had been the reason I loved you
And had come to this moment when I would be forced
To choose but could not because of what I had seen,
As when the master of the tea ceremony,
Determined to embody his ideal,
Had constructed a room of such simplicity
That only a decade of deliberating its angles
And details was in the end required of him,
A wooden floor so delicately joined
That birds still seemed to sing in its branches,
Three salmon-dyed silken cushions
On which the painted quince petals trembled,
A pilled iron kettle disguised as a sea urchin,
Each cup the echo of cloud on wave,
And on the long low wall, a swirling mural
Of war lords and misty philosophers,
The Ten Most Famous Men in the World,
Floating at its center the gold-leafed emperor . . .
Who, rumors having reached the court,
Was invited to come approve the great design,
But when he saw himself as merely one
Of ten, declared that because the master's
Insult was exceeded only by his skill
He would be allowed to take his own life
And have a month to plan the suicide.
The master bowed, the emperor withdrew.
At the month's end, two aged monks
Received the same letter from their old friend,
The master, who had now built his final teahouse —
An improvisation, a thing of boards and cloth
On the mountain in the province of their childhood —
Inviting them for one last cup together.
The monks too wanted nothing more,
The sadness of losing their friend to his ancestors
Eased by the ordinariness of his request.
But they were feeble and could not make the climb.
Again the master wrote, begging them
To visit — he was determined to die the very day
They came and in their company, and besides,
He reminded them, from the mountain they would have
A view of the sea, its round immensity
The soul's own, they could never elsewhere command.
The two monks paused. Their duty to a friend
Was one thing, but to have at last a view of the sea,
A wish since each had been a boy bent
Over pictures of its moonswept midnight blue . . . .
So they agreed and undertook the difficult journey,
Sheer rock, sharp sun, shallow breaths until
They reached the top. The master was waiting for them,
The idea of leaving life already in his looks,
A resignation half solemn, half smiling.
He led them past a sapling plum he noted
Would lean in the wind a hundred years hence.
A small ridge still blocked the sea, but the master
Reassured them it would be theirs, a memory
To return with like no other, and soon, soon.
They came to his simple house, a single room,
But surrounded by stunted pines and thick hedges
They could not see beyond. Patience was urged.
Inside, they were welcomed with the usual silences,
With traditional bows and ritual embraces.
At the far end of the room, the two cups of water
On the floor, the master explained, were for them
To purify their mouths with before the tea was served.
They were next told to lie on their bellies and inch
Towards the cups, ensuring a proper humiliation.
The monks protested — they had come to see their friend
Through to the end, to see his soul released,
Poured like water into water — and where, after all,
Was the unmatched view he had promised them?
They would, he countered, all have what they wished
If they yielded as they must to this ceremony.
The master waited. The monks slowly, painfully
Got to their knees, then to the straw mat,
Their arms outspread as they had been instructed,
And like crippled beggars made their way across
The floor, their eyes closed in shame, until
They reached the cups. With their lips they tipped
The rims back so the water ran over their tongues.
Now, the master whispered, now look up.
They opened their eyes. They raised their heads a little.
And when they did, they saw a small oblong
Cut into the wall, and beyond that another
Cut through the hedge, and beyond that was what
They had waited for all their lives, a sight
So sublimely composed — three distant islands
Darkly shimmering on boundlessness —
That in the end they saw themselves there,
In their discomfort, in a small opening,
In a long-planned accidental moment,
In their rapture and their loss, in a view of the sea.


Had a quiet morning writing a review of "Patterns of Force", which I had thought of as a middling to decent episode but which really did not hold up under scrutiny; there are some marvelous slashy moments between Kirk and Spock particularly in prison that makes watching worthwhile, but the Nazi storyline struck me as really stupid, even worse than Enterprise's much-derided "Storm Front" (at least it wasn't a human teacher who recreated fascism on another planet there!) Also wrote the site columns and caught up on some correspondence. The instant I got my kids home, they wanted to sign up to become members at Club Penguin so they could get some special item or other, and after much telephone negotiation with their father, I had to convince PayPal that yes, I really wanted to pay the same site twice for two different accounts.

: iKnow
What songs would you play to match these situations?
1. At a sporting event:
"Centerfield" if it's baseball, "We Are the Champions" if it's basketball and "I'm Goin' Down" if it's football.
2. At a party/social event: Any and all disco. Disco can break any ice.
3. Utterly depressed: Sarah McLachlan if I want to mope, Madonna if I want to get over myself.
4. Driving in a car: Classic rock or '80s depending on whether it's traffic or moving.
5. Feeling lustful: Something without lyrics with a real thrumming beat.

: Rain
1. What type of mood are you generally in on a rainy day?
Depends on whether it's the first in three weeks or the third in a row. I love right when it starts thunderstorming but many solid gray soaked days depress me.
2. What are your favorite things to do when the weather is gloomy? Watch movies, read by candlelight, make out in front of the fireplace.
3. Have you ever been kissed in the rain? Yes.
4. After the rain stops, do you continue what you were doing, or do you run outside to do something else? Depends on what I was doing and how much I was enjoying it. Often I'm outside in the rain anyway, like last weekend in the gardens.
5. What is your favorite drink/food to have when it's raining outside? Hot chocolate if it's cold, chocolate milk if it's hot, chocolate bars if there's one available.

In the evening I got to meet ! Whom I may have scared away with the aforementioned children who were even louder than usual and with my ship geekery, since we went to the Inner Harbor for dinner, having forgotten that Baltimore would be hopping with people in town for the Preakness this weekend. (At least the Orioles were in DC for the Beltway series against the Nationals!) The USS Constellation was having its annual fundraising bash and had a live band that could be heard around the harbor, where there was a clown doing tricks and a bunch of people from Energizer (which must be sponsoring the race) giving out foam bunny ears -- I wish I'd taken a picture of all the people walking around with rabbit ears on! There was a huge inflatable Energizer Bunny, too, in front of the hot air balloons which I assume are going to the race. We had dinner at Capitol City Brewing Company, which continues to have very good, not terribly expensive salmon, and walked around looking at the dinner cruise ships and ducks in the harbor.

Hot air balloons being prepared for the Preakness Stakes celebration.

The USS Constellation and Pride of Baltimore II with the festival tent on the dock between them.

The Black-Eyed Susan, a 150-passenger riverboat that usually docks in Fells Point but was visiting the harbor by the Maryland Science Center, where the balloons were being set up.

The Giant Energizer Bunny of Doom!

Blurry photo due to it being twilight and me lacking a tripod, but I just love that tuxedo balloon!

And home before midnight for Doctor Who! I was not happy to see the Slitheen back, as I found "Aliens of London" and "World War Three" passably amusing but nowhere near as great as "Dalek," "Father's Day," "The Doctor Dances," etc. I was very pleasantly surprised. It starts amusingly enough with Jack and Mickey trying to figure out who's what -- Mickey says it's not so bad having Rose hang out with the guy with the big ears, but he's not sure about Jack -- and after ascertaining that the Doctor, Jack and Rose all think they're very clever, he asks the Doctor (who still calls him Ricky) why he doesn't think the police box is suspicious since no one uses them anymore, which is a good question. He also asks Jack what he thinks he's captain of, the innuendo squad? And later the Doctor calls him "Mickey the Idiot" since he almost lets Margaret-Slitheen escape, even though the Doctor can stop her anyway. Not very friendly! Unlike the female bonding, where the Slitheen sincerely seems to feel something for the pregnant woman she doesn't want to kill, though the Doctor is right that the pregnant woman is the one who allows Margaret-Slitheen to live with herself as she kills thousands.

There are lots of other funny moments, like Jack (on whom I have a raging crush, which I am sure is no surprise whatsoever to anyone) asking the Doctor for orders only to be told to use his own plan, Margaret climbing out the window to flee from the Doctor and ranting that no one in London cares if she's building a nuclear power plant that could destroy the world becuase no one in London would notice if Cardiff or the southwest coast fell into the sea, Jack creaming his pants over the design for the equipment to harness the power of the rift...then it turns serious very effectively, with Margaret-Slitheen exponentially increasing her campaign to avoid going home and getting executed, asking the Doctor to take her to a favorite restaurant and wondering if he can take supper with a creature he's about to kill.

All through the episode I kept thinking about how the skin she was wearing wasn't even her own and wondering why in hell he trusted her or felt sorry for her at all, given the things she had done, and then Margaret totally nailed it, realizing that only a killer would understand why sometimes you have to let one go. This is all playing out against Rose and Mickey's rather trivial yet heartfelt romantic woes (and Noel Clarke is really terrific) and the rift opening, with the Doctor telling Jack to protect Rose from Margaret even if it risks the entire planet. Lovely moment, that, and when Jack watches the Doctor watching Rose walk away with Mickey, though Margaret getting to live her entire life over again seems a little hokey to me...sure, she might have been a better person if she'd been raised right, but that doesn't change the hundreds she killed and the billions she was prepared to kill. I'm a little ambivalent about the ambivalent ending. I guess we're supposed to think about the Doctor the same way when we find out the things he's done, rather like Methos from Highlander.

On Saturday younger son has soccer early, then we are all going to The Da Vinci Code. Am not expecting great things, will be perfectly content with reasonably interesting things!