Thursday, August 31, 2006

Poem for Thursday

By Paul Celan
Translated by Nikolai Popov and Heather McHugh

Evenings delve
into your eye. Lip-
picked syllables –
a lovely voiceless circle –
help the creeping star
into their ring. The stone, once
close to the temporal zones, now opens up:

my soul, you were
in the ether with all
the other
scattershot suns.


Am tired, grumpy and generally no fun tonight and have decided to blame my period, plus the fact that I have to get up very early tomorrow because has a very early meeting and then we have a Bar Mitzvah rehearsal in the evening. Tonight we had younger son's Back To School Night, which as usual was not terribly well-managed; there was a PTA meeting between the K-2 and 3-5 teacher meetings, which as usual ran long, then they tried to cram all the 5th grade parents into the media center, which was mobbed and about a hundred degrees just like the all-purpose room where the PTA meeting was. Three of the four 5th grade teachers look like they are about 18 years old. Son likes his teacher and she seems friendly and organized, but he is grumpy about being back in school and apparently told her he refuses to smile all year! His teacher last year was really wonderful with the unconventional types, so hopefully this one will appreciate him for who he is.

Son also had had a violin lesson earlier, so I was already tired from running around. Though I did have a very nice lunch with and ate lots of Indian food! I also received some SGA pimping and am finding that, like The X-Files, this is a show it may be better to get into ass-backward, reading fic before watching episodes!

A big crawling underwater hermit crab...

...and another at Mystic Aquarium...

...share this tank full of anemones, sea stars, sunflower stars, urchins and other tide pool visitors.

Here are poison dart frogs behind glass in the rainforest exhibit...

...and little frogs, some still with tails, outside in the wetlands.

And August is over. Seems incredible. Must get some sleep. Hope everyone is out of harm's way when the storms come up the coast! And hey, I have more Vox invites. Anyone need one?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

Rising Dust
By Margaret Avison

The physiologist says I am well over
half water.
I feel, look, solid; am
though leaky firm.
Yet I am composed
largely of water.
How the composer turned us out
this way, even the learned few do not
explain. That’s life.

And we’re in need of
more water, over and over, repeatedly
thirsty, and unclean.

The body of this earth
has water under it and
over, from
where the long winds sough
tirelessly over water, or shriek around
curved distances of ice.

Sky and earth invisibly
breathe skyfuls of
water, visible when it
finds its own level.

Even in me?
Kin to waterfalls
and glacial lakes and sloughs
and all that flows and surges,
yet I go steadily,
or without distillation climb at will
(until a dissolution
nobody anticipates).

I’m something else besides.
The biochemist does not
concern himself with this.
It too seems substance,
A vital bond threaded on an
as-if loom out there.
The strand within
thrums and shudders and twists.
It cleaves to this
colour or texture and
singles out to a rhythm
almost its own, again,
anticipating design.

But never any of us
physiologist or fisherman
or I
quite makes sense of it. We
find our own level

as prairie, auburn or
snow-streaming, sounds forever
the almost limitless.


Last night I was whining that I needed to go to Target to return stuff, and it turned out that had to go to Target to return stuff too, so we decided to meet for lunch and returning stuff! I had a reasonably successful day, too, as I found underwear at Kohl's that was a much better replacement for the underwear I was returning. My mother's new strategy is apparently to e-mail my husband with questions/advice and bypass me, so I only heard the discussion about food plans second-hand, which is fine with me. Now I realize I must buy some decent pantyhose.

When the kids got home, younger son told me that they had a writing assessment today and they were supposed to write about what they like about autumn. He wrote about an evil black leaf that wouldn't let bugs land on it and scared all the other leaves into falling off. I am not sure whether to praise his creativity or worry that his teacher will think he's a wise-ass, since I know some of the kids in his class undoubtedly used high school level adjectives to describe the colors of the leaves and stuff. *g* Speaking of younger son's interests, posted about And Tango Makes Three, a book about the New York gay penguins for children, and she posted some pictures from it here -- I must get this for our family! Also discovered the situation with wolves in Alaska, which is appalling.

The USS Enterprise! Which the Air & Space Museum has taken out of a speculative fiction gallery that used to have actual clips from "Where No Man Has Gone Before" and relegated to a place of honor in the gift shop. The good news is that this means it's much closer to eye level; the bad news is that it means it's behind glass and hard to get a good photo!

This is a Fokker D.VII from World War I. If you are not laughing hysterically at that name, you are obviously not a ten-year-old boy.

Also from the World War I Aviation exhibit, a replica of an Underground station entrance leading to a display on air raids. This made me nostalgic for London despite the circumstances.

And for , one more photo of Earhart's Vega with the side markings visible.

Wednesday I am finally seeing and after months of going without! Whoo!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Father-In-Law's Note...

...about the passing of Granny.

Dear Family & Friends,

Just a brief note to inform you that my mother Doris died at the age of 91 on August 23 in Bothell, WA, where she had lived for many years with my sister Jean. For several months she had suffered greatly from a deteriorating hip, but remained clear in her mind. She received wonderful care from the Evergreen Hospice during the last 6 weeks & died at an adult family home. Each of her 4 living children, a daughter-in- law, & 3 grandsons visited with her in recent months.

A Memorial Service celebrating her life & entrance into the new life God has prepared for her will be held on September 23 in Bothell, WA. Gifts in her memory may be sent to First Lutheran Church, Bothell or Evergreen Hospice, Kirkland.

I will miss Mom very much. Although saddened by her death, I have so many wonderful memories of her to celebrate. At her knee I first listened to Scripture & learned the Lord's Prayer. She was my 1st Sunday School teacher & was always there for me. I learned love & compassion from her which shaped my life & my ministry. She was there the evening that I was ordained & visited us at each of the congregations that I served. We are grateful that, since my retirement, we were able to spend so much time with her & to make a video with her of her life story. She enriched my life & the lives of many others who she touched along her life's journey. When we left her in May, she said: "If I don't see you again in this life, I'll see you in heaven." That was her faith & her spirit to the end.

"Peace eternal grant her, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her."

Love & peace.

Poem for Tuesday

By Suji Kwock Kim

for my grandmother

Crush my eyes, bitter grapes:
wring out the wine of seeing.

We tried to escape across the frozen Yalu, to Ch'ientao or Harbin.
I saw the Japanese soldiers shoot:

I saw men and women from our village blown to hieroglyphs of viscera,
engraving nothing.

River of never.
River the opposite of Lethe,

dividing those who lived from those who were killed:
why did I survive?

I wondered at each body with its separate skin, its separate suffering.
My childhood friend lay on the boot-blackened ice:

I touched his face with disbelief,
I tried to hold his hand but he snatched it away, as if he were ashamed of dying,

eye grown large with everything it saw, everyone who disappeared:
pupil of suffering.

Lonely O, blank of an eye
rolled back into its socket,

I was afraid to see you:
last thoughts, last dreams crawling through his skull like worms.


One more by Kwock Kim, this one a companion piece to "Occupation", very dark and vivid and powerful.

My children have started school for the year. They both came home in reasonably good moods, though younger son is unhappy that he is being forced to read three books a month in a genre not of his choosing (he wants all fantasy all the time, his teacher had historical fiction in mind for September). This year older son has a more balanced schedule; his middle school alternates hour and a half classes on odd and even days, and last year he had both gym and chorus on odd days while his even days were jam-packed with academic subjects, which I am convinced really worked against him in English since he had it after math, science and history. I remember how depressing first weeks were, and I remember how incredibly long each day seemed particularly in elementary school -- it felt like forever between the beginning and end of a school year, and I wish I understood how the time-sense evolves as we age because now time moves so quickly that I don't understand at all where it goes.

I had a relatively quiet day, caught up on chores, folded laundry, wrote articles on Kate Mulgrew pontificating on aging, vulnerability and striking a blow for women in Las Vegas (this from the woman who announced at her first convention that she was not a feminist), Leonard Nimoy saying he has casting approval for any new incarnations of Spock (fascinating if true, that he had that put in his contract - considering that he directed The Search For Spock and presumably cast that kid who didn't look like him), and the future release of the original Star Trek in high-def for syndication and DVD, which no sooner had I posted from one web site than another webmaster who has more than once written before to say "I knew that first!" wrote to tell me that the other web site only knew it from overhearing him talk about it at WorldCon. Reminds me of the times we've had people from actor web sites write to complain that they told the news sites we cited about the articles to which we linked, as if we could somehow magically know that. There are reasons we cover certain actors more often than others at TrekToday...

In the evening we somehow stumbled upon Batman and Robin on cable and watched the first half of it, mostly because of the Schwarzenegger and slash factors, and were enjoying it a lot until the endless motorcycle chase stuff. Wow, Batman and Robin are gay together! I mean, I knew that, but sometimes I forget how gay! At least until Uma and Alicia show up. I wanted to turn it off at that point anyway because In Good Company was on and that's been on my to-see list really since it was in the theater where I missed it, since I usually like Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson a lot. What a sweet boycrush story! I thoroughly appreciated Topher Grace's adoration of Dennis! He so only wanted to marry the daughter so he could be the son-in-law. It's not like he was as upset by the breakup as he was by Dennis being angry at him. And Dennis' misplaced jealousy, where he couldn't decide whether he was having a reverse Oedipal crisis over his daughter or wanted his protege all to himself, to such an extent that he got all distracted from his wife and her pregnancy...Marg Helgenberger was really not a good choice for that role, I didn't think, because she looks so plastic-surgery stretched to me, and I really didn't see Dennis being married to someone like that; they'd have done better with someone much more earthy. But I loved the movie, which was one where my kids initially rolled their eyes when they saw what was on TV, then sat down and started watching and requested to stay up to see the end, which amuses me. Now I really want that Iron & Wine song "The Trapeze Swinger" that they played over the closing credits, but freakin' iTunes will not allow downloading of any of the Iron & Wine music on the soundtrack -- you have to buy the whole album, and I already own the David Byrne and Peter Gabriel and other stuff I like from it!

I don't know whether I've ever blathered in this journal about how Amelia Earhart novels are a guilty pleasure of mine, particularly ones where she falls in love with Fred Noonan, for which I blame Rutger Hauer and Diane Keaton in The Final Flight, not to mention Voyager's "The 37s." I know it sucks that she is as famous for disappearing as she is for her achievements. But I would be remiss not to recommend I Was Amelia Earhart (upon which I once very loosely based a piece of Voyager fanfic that I am sure remembers all too well).

The above is Earhart's Lockheed Vega, sold to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia in June 1933 and displayed there until it was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in September 1966. You can see the manufacturer mark on the tail. Earhart flew this plane on several of her historic flights, transcontinentally and to Hawaii.

Here is a model of the Electra in which she and Fred Noonan disappeared during their attempt to fly around the world.

And this was Earhart's trophy chest.

Tuesday I have to go to Target and return the underwear I bought last weekend because one pair of panties shredded the first time I washed them, before I had even worn them because I always wash them first! Graar!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Poem for Monday

Monologue for an Onion
By Suji Kwock Kim

I don't mean to make you cry.
I mean nothing, but this has not kept you
From peeling away my body, layer by layer,

The tears clouding your eyes as the table fills
With husks, cut flesh, all the debris of pursuit.
Poor deluded human: you seek my heart.

Hunt all you want. Beneath each skin of mine
Lies another skin: I am pure onion--pure union
Of outside and in, surface and secret core.

Look at you, chopping and weeping. Idiot.
Is this the way you go through life, your mind
A stopless knife, driven by your fantasy of truth,

Of lasting union--slashing away skin after skin
From things, ruin and tears your only signs
Of progress? Enough is enough.

You must not grieve that the world is glimpsed
Through veils. How else can it be seen?
How will you rip away the veil of the eye, the veil

That you are, you who want to grasp the heart
Of things, hungry to know where meaning
Lies. Taste what you hold in your hands: onion-juice,

Yellow peels, my stinging shreds. You are the one
In pieces. Whatever you meant to love, in meaning to
You changed yourself: you are not who you are,

Your soul cut moment to moment by a blade
Of fresh desire, the ground sown with abandoned skins.
And at your inmost circle, what? A core that is

Not one. Poor fool, you are divided at the heart,
Lost in its maze of chambers, blood, and love,
A heart that will one day beat you to death.


Sunday we went downtown to the National Museum of American History, which is closing on September 5th for nearly two years for renovations. The most popular artifacts housed there, such as Kermit the Frog and Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, are moving across the Mall to the National Air and Space Museum, which we also visited. had not seen the fabulous Americans At War exhibit in American History, so we went through that, and we saw the doll's house and Muppets and the lunchbox collection and the Gunboat Philadelphia while around these, other exhibits were already boarded up.

I had realized that I had not been in Air and Space since just after I got a digital camera, when I took pictures of the kids (quite young) in front of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega, and I wanted to see the Enterprise (Captain Kirk's that is -- the orbiter shuttle Enterprise is at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia, which we have visited more recently). So we got ice cream and walked across the National Mall and went to see the aeronautical World War I exhibit and some of the historic planes and rockets, but along the way we made a terribly traumatic discovery!

Within a week of the International Astronomical Union declaring that Pluto is no longer a planet but merely one of a number of dwarf planets, the National Air and Space Museum has already pulled it from its position of glory in the planetary gallery with the awful "The Family of the Sun" song playing to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"!

The symbol for Pluto has already been removed from the entrance to the gallery...

...though it is still represented among the outer planets in this relative size display.

I suspect the big wall display on Uranus, Neptune and Pluto will undergo revision in the very near future. (Insert your own Uranus joke here -- my son did all afternoon.)

To further complicate matters, the museum has an outdoor display stretching up the Independence Avenue side of the National Mall, a scale model of the solar system with a ball-sized sun at the corner by the Air & Space Museum and Pluto as the furthest planet at the Smithsonian Castle.

People had left flowers and a condolence card, telling Pluto not to lose heart and that it has a strong spirit!

Watched the Emmys, originally to see whether William Shatner would win (he lost in the first ten minutes to Alan Alda, which I was really fine with since Alda lost to him last year and I loved The West Wing this season), and then I could have turned it off but I didn't...was curious to see whether Bleak House or Elizabeth I would dominate the miniseries category, and while I am thrilled that Jeremy Irons and Helen Mirren both won and I thought the performances in Elizabeth I were superb, Bleak House was a phenomenal adaptation and I was bummed it didn't take home awards. I see that Rome cleaned up the miniseries technical awards, which it deserved, but other than makeup, Bleak House was mostly overlooked.

Otherwise I was pleased for The Daily Show, amused by the Spelling tribute -- all of Charlie's Angels looked great, Joan Rivers should call their plastic surgeons especially Jaclyn Smith's since she seemed not to be over-hyped like Kate Jackson or over-sedated like Farrah Fawcett -- sorry Blythe Danner didn't get in her usual jabs at the Bush administration and apathetic about the main categories, though I might watch 24 next season after avoiding it since the first season just to see Alexander Siddig.

I was very happy that the Emmys ended on time (thank you, Annette, for keeping it short at the end there) so I could watch the 11 p.m. showing of Brotherhood since I am addicted. Can someone tell me why I am more annnoyed at Tommy for political shenanigans that may gain him power but are in fact for the good of his district than I am at Michael for killing three Russian mob creeps? Strange episode...I loved watching Michael not sure if he likes his old girlfriend being so aggressive and she cracked me up, though the whole masturbating in the car scene seemed quite gratuitous! On the other hand, I mean, if I was in a car with Jason Isaacs, I might have to get off too, so maybe I shouldn't talk. I mean, I almost exploded when he sucked off her finger when she asked if he wanted a taste...oops TMI!

Rose was quite entertaining manipulating everyone but I'm not quite sure what she has planned for Michael...I don't like the idea that she's just a meddlesome mother, I want her to have a grand scheme for the family and the Hill. And I totally love the idea of Pete and Eileen hanging out together, though for a minute before I realized Pete was just trying to make sure Michael was back for the surprise party, I thought he was jealous of Michael's girlfriend and let me tell you, THAT was a lovely thought! (Yes, do please tell me if you've seen fic anywhere!)

Monday my kids go back to school for the fall. I have no idea how this happened so fast!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Poem for Sunday

By Suji Kwock Kim

The soldiers
are hard at work
building a house.
They hammer
bodies into the earth
like nails,
they paint the walls
with blood.
Inside the doors
stay shut, locked
as eyes of stone.
Inside the stairs
feel slippery,
all flights go down.
There is no floor:
only a roof,
where ash is falling --
dark snow,
human snow,
thickly, mutely
Come, they say.
This house will
last forever.
You must occupy it.
And you, and you --
And you, and you --
Come, they say.
There is room
for everyone.


"The two senses of the word "occupy" dramatize a psychological conflict between the need to resist authority and the conflicting demand to give in, an inner struggle forced by the outer, violent conflict," writes Robert Pinsky in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Using words in law, in politics, in daily life, we keep some associations and discard others, depending on the context. On a form to fill out, 'occupation' means something like 'profession'...on the bathroom door, 'occupied' means that someone is in there. In conflicts between nations, 'occupied' means that alien forces are present and in make sense of the world, we disregard some shades of meaning and apply others." He notes that in the poem above, the building of a home and the Japanese invasion of Korea are a single occupation. "The invitation to enter an enduring house suggests the political rhetoric of the invaders. Or, do phrases such as 'This house will last forever' reflect the inner, defeated rationalization of the oppressed? Either way, the poem exposes the fearsome sort of language that works to justify brutality."

Last night I had two really stupid dreams! In the first one, a gossip magazine had written this nasty article about Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany, claiming that their marriage was all a publicity stunt. The writer claimed that when he interviewed them, everything was staged, even a phone call from Russell Crowe in the middle of dinner to impress him. So Paul and Jennifer decided they had to do some PR to fix their images, and I'm not sure exactly how but I won some contest to spend a day with them, where it was tacitly understood that I would then tell the magazine how wonderful they were. I was wary because of course I knew they were going to be on ridiculously good behavior, but since I like them as performers, I figured it was worth doing anyway, because it's not like I'd get to know the real Paul and Jennifer under some other circumstances.

So I went over to their place, which was decorated suspiciously like my sister's old house. Jennifer and Paul had recently had another baby who looked just like him -- reddish-blonde hair -- and when I got there, they were feeding him in their bed, which was enormous and fancy and I was surprised they were willing to risk getting baby cereal and baby puke on the comforter but I figured they could afford to have it cleaned. Paul was popping Cheerios in his mouth and generally goofing off to make the baby laugh and didn't seem at all concerned with impressing me. We ended up playing with the baby, who was a very happy just-crawling little monster, and their older children, and spent nearly the whole day talking about their kids and my kids and going to the park with everyone's kids and my husband. As we were leaving, I wondered whether they thought I was very boring since all we talked about was kids and not art or movies or anything, but I also figured they tried to steer the conversation that way so I'd say how family-oriented they were, so I wouldn't accuse them of having their celebrity friends call to impress us and anyway it wasn't like we were ever really going to be buddies anyway. And Jennifer was a good cook.

Then I dreamed that I was having lunch with and who were in grad school with me at the University of Chicago (the role of the latter, whom I have never met, was played in the dream by my college friend Sharon's roommate Laura, a smart and hot Latina, which I am not sure describes but it seems plausible enough). At the table next to us were two other people with whom I did not go to grad school either, but they are both academics I knew briefly in an older fandom and found to be hopelessly pretentious, for they always resorted to the language of literary theory to make arguments when someone else was making smarter points in common parlance. In the dream, they were having an incredibly snotty conversation and I was mocking them under my breath, but and refused to join in because they were afraid we'd be overheard and then the self-proclaimed BNFs, that is, the self-proclaimed big name academics, would try to rip us all new ones in Feminist Theory class later. I said I was already planning to drop out of grad school so I didn't really care.

It would have been very like certain people I knew at the U of C to tear someone a new asshole in theory-speak in Lauren Berlant's feminist theory class, and for Professor Berlant to support whoever could quote Kristeva the best, regardless of whether the argument actually made sense. But I suspect the latter dream was really about fandom, which I HAVE all but dropped out of...I dropped out of the fandom I shared with the snotty academics awhile ago, and am encountering so much crap in HP fandom that you've probably noticed I've not been doing much. Though what's the first dream about, if not fandom in some suspicion that Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany are really rather boringly domestic in real life or my wish for same? I am sure I dreamed it because I saw that Dark Water was on cable, briefly thought about watching it, and then went naaah, I don't love Jennifer enough to sit through that...and because of that article from a few weeks ago where that journalist savaged Russell Crowe!

So as you can see, Bar Mitzvah stress and the time of month is wreaking havoc with my psyche! But not as badly as my mother...after thinking we had the tables worked out, we had a conversation tonight in which she suggested at one point that I not sit with my best friends, who are coming in from out of town, at my own son's Bar Mitzvah to avoid messing up the table arrangements at which she has all of HER friends sitting as she insists they MUST be seated, with the people who don't like each other separated and the people who do like each other kept at the same tables because god forbid they should have to get up out of their seats to say hello to people they see all the damn time locally! She did not seem to understand why I found this outrageous on her part and got huffy. So we are having one table of ten, two tables of eight, one table of seven and three tables of six for the adults, which I think may look weird but it is so not my problem anymore!

Saturday we went to the Animal Planet Expo, which was in town at Ridge Road Recreational Park in Germantown and was much fun...lots and lots of the people who came brought their dogs, and younger son was interviewed for Chomp Chat on the Discovery Channel about our cats! There were lots of slides and moon bounces and stuff that my kids are a bit too old for, but they won foam alligators at one booth and we got to see tortoises, snakes, cockroaches, a butterfly garden and assorted other animals in the various tents, though we didn't go through the truck with the alligator and the exotic birds because there was such a long line. We needed to get to Target for the last minute school supplies we didn't know about till the schools actually sent list homes, and new pots since the handles have now fallen off of two of ours and lava lamps as prizes at the Bar Mitzvah and inanities like that. (Has anyone tried the new scented Downy detergents that smell like the fabric softeners? Am tempted to use the lavender vanilla on all the clothes but if it's too strong, I don't want to risk it!) From there we went and all got haircuts, even younger son who was strongly resisting but I convinced him to get it evened out in the back so it would hurt less to comb, and he did. At night older son had a meltdown, which I thought was about Granny and I still think is about Granny, but the ostensible reason was that he got new slippers and didn't want me to throw the old ones away. Kids!

Kids play with giant animal building blocks outside the Animal Planet Expo truck, which had an alligator, exotic birds and more.

And people brought their own pets to see the free biscuit vendors. Look at that face! Well, and the girl, too!

There were many, many people with dogs at the expo. That whole crowd is watching a demonstration with dogs in the middle.

See the hat that boy has on in the photo above? They were giving out these Meerkat Manor hats! (, I got one for you, and a fan, too. *g*)

Now this is how you bring your bird to an animal expo! In a backpack! I thought that was very cool.

The site of younger son's possible future fame! He talked about our cats on camera! And they gave him a t-shirt. I am sure it is cheap for them to get content at these expos by giving out shirts.

Sunday we are going to try to go to the National Museum of American History, which is closing in a week until 2008 for renovations. And I might watch the Emmys, or I might not bother!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Poem for Saturday

Now I Understand
By Linda Gregg

Something was pouring out. Filling the field
and making it vacant. A wind blowing them
sideways as they moved forward. The crying
as before. Suddenly I understood why they left
the empty bowls on the table, in the empty hut
overlooking the sea. And knew the meaning
of the heron breaking branches, spreading
his wings in order to rise up out of the dark
woods into the night sky. I understood about
the lovers and the river in January.
Heard the crying out as a battlement,
of greatness, and then the dying began.
The height of passion. Saw the breaking
of the moon and the shattering of the sun.
Believed in the miracle because of the half heard
and the other half seen. How they ranged
and how they fed. Let loose their cries.
One could call it the agony in the garden,
or the paradise, depending on whether
the joy was at the beginning, or after.


Was up late Thursday night with stressed out children and spent most of Friday trying to keep my eyes open properly (helped by too much chocolate, brought back by the kids and my in-laws from Hershey, helped, though will NOT help me get into dresses next month). Mother took older son to get his suit tailored while younger son had school open house and met his teacher for next year (the teacher his best friend had for fourth grade last year -- none of the fifth grade teachers from last year are teaching fifth grade this year, after two years in moldy portables they all refused, though the really good math teacher is teaching fifth grade math). Son's teacher is young, seems quite enthusiastic, and if she got along with his extremely hyper friend then I imagine they will do well together. After that, younger son was supposed to have a violin lesson at one, but the teacher had forgotten to put it on her schedule and was having an emergency session with a student she was tutoring for an audition for the county youth orchestra; she invited us to stay and listen, because this girl was really good, and then offered younger son a free lesson at 2:30 if we could come back, which we did.

Meanwhile I came home and wrote a review of "And the Children Shall Lead", whose sole virtue is that scene in the turbolift where Kirk cries and Spock gives him a comfort wank, err, professes true love...that is, you know, the scene where Kirk wails, "Spock! I'm losing my ability to act!" and Spock murmurs, "Jim. You never had any." Anyway, I talked about it in the review. *veg* Meanwhile mother had returned with older son and taken him back to her house, where father tried to talk him into going to the pool with him, but son had remembered that he had social studies as well as math homework from the summer that had to be finished for the first day of school, and on top of being upset about Granny was upset about feeling pressured to go to the pool when he knew he had work to do, so I took him home where he was actually happy to be doing math and left younger son with parents who took him to the pool. Then came home and we all had dinner together and finalized the table arrangements for the Bar Mitzvah, entirely peacefully I might add since it was obvious that there were no perfect solutions given the odd number of people we have coming. We are sitting with our friends rather than relatives, heh!

: I Won't Go
1. Who do you live with?
Husband, two children, two cats.
2. Do you like who you live with or do you want change? Like them all very much. Occasionally wish for a little more space.
3. Describe the ideal roommate: Fantastic conversationalist when I'm in the mood for conversation, perfect at reading moods and realizing when I want to be left alone, loves cleaning and spontaneously cleans up without interfering with any of my stuff I don't want touched.
4. How much sleep did you get last night? Six, seven hours maybe?
5. Where would you love to play hide-and-seek? Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef.

: Children's Books
1. What book or books were special to you in your childhood?
The big three in elementary school were Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series. Later on it was Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, Richard Bach's Illusions and Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Mists of Avalon.
2. What was particularly special or memorable about those books? In a sentence? *snorts* Most of my value system, my theology and my interests were shaped by and reflected in those books.
3. Have you re-read any of them as an adult? All of them. Some aloud to my children.
4. If so, were the books as good as you remembered them? The Fountainhead and Narnia have not held up as well as the others but they're still well worth reading.
5. What do you think about movies being made out of children's classics (like the Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of The Rings, etc.)? I don't ever think films are a definitive version of any books. That said, I fell in love with both LOTR and Harry Potter backwards, films-first, so I am all in favor of good film adaptations. I can't imagine anyone ever making A Wrinkle In Time in a way that would capture all the imaginative material in it, though -- it's a novel of ideas rather than a fantasy, and not very cinematic.

: What five pieces of advice would you give to characters in your fandom(s)?
1. To Boromir:
You're going to die. Shag Aragorn while you have the chance.
2. To Janeway: You're going to get home. Shag Chakotay while you have the chance.
3. To Kira: Damar's going to die. Shag him while you have the chance.
4. To Clark: Lana's so not worth this angst. Shag Lex while you have the chance.
5. To Duncan: You're going to live forever. Shag Methos as soon as you have the chance.

And gacked from :
Want to find out what pizza you and I can share? Put your name in the box next to mine and click the button to find out!

Rosie demonstrates the proper use for an empty backpack. No sooner had we gotten it home and placed it on the couch than this happened.

Cinnamon demonstrates the proper use for an empty children's shoe store bag. No sooner had we gotten it home and placed it on the floor than this happened.

Rosie demonstrates the proper use for an empty school supply box. No sooner had we gotten it home and placed it on the floor get the idea.

Saturday is Fall Haircut Day. Younger son has been informed that while he may keep his hair long, he must get it trimmed so it's even across the bottom for the Bar Mitzvah -- he is not happy about this but it's so knotty at the bottom that it's hard to brush and impossible to make look good. I am going to try to negotiate to get the really good hummus at the Middle Eastern place right near where we get haircuts. Shall also look in jewelry store with lots of pretty Jewish designs but since I bought this Tree of Life to wear with the new black dress, shall not be buying any!

Thanks for the condolences about 's grandmother. Everyone is still trying to get used to the idea, I think, that she's not around any more.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Get Critical Update

TV Review: Star Trek's "And the Children Shall Lead"

Poem for Friday

By Alicia Suskin Ostriker

            —for Elizabeth Bishop

Tuwee, calls a bird near the house,
Tuwee, cries another, downhill in the woods.
No wind, early September, beeches and pines,

Sumac aflame, tuwee, tuwee, a question and a faint
But definite response, tuwee, tuwee, as if engaged
In a conversation expected to continue all afternoon,

Where is?—I’m here?—an upward inflection in
Query and in response, a genetic libretto rehearsed
Tens of thousands of years beginning to leave its indelible trace,

Clawprint of language, ritual, dense winged seed,
Or as someone were slowly buttoning a shirt.
I am happy to lie in the grass and listen, as if at the dawn of reason,

To the clear communal command
That is flinging creaturely will into existence,
Designing itself to desire survival,

Liberty, companionship,
Then the bird near me, my bird, stops inquiring, while the other
Off in the woods continues calling faintly, but with that upward

Inflection, I’m here, I’m here,
I’m here, here, the call opens a path through boughs still clothed
By foliage, until it sounds like entreaty, like anxiety, like life

Imitating the pivotal move of Whitman’s "Out of the Cradle,"
Where the lovebird’s futile song to its absent mate teaches the child
Death—which the ocean also whispers—

Death, death, death it softly whispers,
Like an old crone bending aside over a cradle, Whitman says,
Or the like the teapot in Elizabeth Bishop’s grandmother’s kitchen,

Here at one end of the chain of being,
That whistles a song of presence and departure,
Creating comfort but also calling for tears.


My husband's grandmother died peacefully in her sleep this afternoon in Seattle with her eldest daughter at her side (husband's father is the first child; his only brother, a Vietnam vet, died several years ago of one of those cancers you pretty much only hear about veterans getting; the two youngest sisters live in northern California and Michigan respectively). Granny wanted to be cremated, so there is going to be a memorial service in Seattle in the middle of September and a burial service in Jamestown, New York sometime next year. I remember visiting the grave site because her late husband, my husband's grandfather, is buried there, and thinking how creepy it was that they already had her name carved beside his on the tombstone -- only the year was missing. My grandparents always intended to be buried next to each other but the stones weren't carved until they had been interred, though maybe it's different if you're Jewish because of the unveiling ceremony. Granny was a religious Christian, not happy about divorce, cohabitation and modern (im)morality but also extremely unhappy with current Republican policy and the focus on making money and persecuting gays instead of working for peace, feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

I'm sad, but in fairness to those who were really close to Granny -- she lived with Aunt Jean and Uncle Bob for more than 30 years, and was there while they were raising their two sons -- I only met her five or six times, at family weddings and reunions where we didn't spend much time alone talking. Husband's kind of quiet, but not as upset as he was when his grandfather died unexpectedly while I was pregnant with son #2 and there was no hope of getting to the funeral. Older son is very upset. Younger son is being kind of stoic about it. This is exactly the opposite of the way they reacted when the gerbils died. Oddly enough, we watched "And the Children Shall Lead" because I have to review it for TrekToday tomorrow, and although it is every bit as terrible an episode as I remember, the fact that it centers on how children grieve and how Spock throws around words like evil when they don't grieve seemed peculiarly relevant. Tomorrow was going to be a weird, stressful day anyway, as younger son has an open house at his school to meet his teacher, then a violin lesson, while my mother is taking older son to get his Bar Mitzvah suit tailored.

The meeting with the DJ went very well -- he's very open to whatever we want to do, has lots of enthusiasm, was great with the kids and had lots of ideas for games and stuff since we don't expect a huge amount of dancing ( and , you'll do "Y.M.C.A." with me, right? *g*) The only point on which I could see conflict brewing, once again, is that mother wants a hora for what she considers tradition's sake (this is Jewish American Bar Mitzvah tradition, not an innate part of the religious ceremony) while son adamantly does not want to have to dance or particularly to risk that someone is going to shove him in a chair and carry him around.

We also had another rehearsal at the temple with the rabbi, this one mostly to go over the blocking and timing for the service. The kids both chanted extremely well again, but we didn't have time to talk about the content of their speeches or anything like that. We did manage to ascertain that 1) the other child who will be B'nai Mitzvah with our son is the product of an interfaith marriage as well, and 2) both her mother and myself will be holding the Torah while the husbands give the speeches to the children, since the rabbi feels it would be inappropriate for the non-Jewish parents to pass the Torah to the children while the Jewish parents give the speeches. This is rather a relief, as I would much rather write the speech and not have to deliver it.

At the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, spoonbills...

...and storks.

Sex In Christ is my new favorite religion-on-crack web site. It's in a similar vein to Landover Baptist, though by definition more offensive, and it doesn't even try to interpret Scripture with any attention to its historic meaning, since you can't prove that the Bible condones anal sex even in Song of Solomon without some major revisionist readings.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Dear FDA, It's about damn time Thank you. If you're serious about wanting to help people avoid choosing to have abortions, it's a damn important first step to stop unwanted pregnancies from occurring in the first place.

Also, poor Pluto! Demoted after all these years!

ETA: And the hazards of traveling with a penis pump, because this cracked me up so much...

Poem for Thursday

By Constantine Cavafy
Translated by Rae Dalven

Like beautiful bodies of the dead, who had not grown old
when they shut them with tears, in a magnificent mausoleum,
with roses at the head and jasmine at the feet --
that is how desires look that have passed
without fulfillment; without one of them having achieved
a night of sensual delight, or a moonlit morn.


I believe I have found a dress for the Bar Mitzvah! Rather by accident, as it happens: I was meeting for lunch at a big shopping complex, got there a little on the early side, went into Kohl's without realizing they were having a one-day sale, found a petite skirt and top that's a little dressier than the very simple black dress I got in Pennsylvania (though I think I am going to keep that one for the High Holy Days and another Bar Mitzvah later in September). Also found this year's Target exclusive Halloween Barbie when and I wandered in there after having Mexican food, so it was quite a successful shopping afternoon. Wrote articles on the likely composer for Star Trek XI and Scott Bakula's appearance at the 40th anniversary Trek convention, drove up nearly to the county line to meet in-laws driving down from Pennsylvania to return our children. Had excellent Middle Eastern food, then had too much chocolate purchased by in-laws at the Hershey factory which they visited with the kids.

And learned that my husband's grandmother, his father's mother whose 90th birthday party we attended in Seattle last summer, is dying. They're holding out some hope that she may rally, but she has a pretty bad infection that apparently isn't responding to antibiotics and everything else is slowly shutting down under the painkillers that make it tolerable. 's younger brother and his family visited her last weekend and she barely recognized them; his cousin who was in our wedding party and his family visited two days ago and she wasn't responsive at all. My in-laws have various other stress -- my mother-in-law's brother has pancreatic cancer and isn't doing well -- and now they are trying to figure out how to juggle schedules for a possible funeral around Bar Mitzvah rehearsals. Granny wants to be cremated, so the funeral doesn't have to be on any particular schedule, and her ashes will be interred beside those of her husband in Jamestown, New York sometime next year when hopefully everyone will have had time to make travel plans. But this is really miserable for my father-in-law in particular and my husband, who are going to have this hanging over them all month even if she rallies temporarily -- it sounds like Granny herself is resigned, at nearly 92, as she told my mother-in-law when she last saw her earlier in the year that if she didn't see her in the fall, she would see her in Heaven. At least we were all there to see her last summer while she was still doing well, and all the kids will remember her that way.

Watched the penultimate episode of Brideshead Revisited. Howled when Julia explained that her father knew Charles was visiting because Charles seemed to have a passion for his children. Though I disliked Charles' shallow, appearance-based judgment of Cordelia, who serves mostly as a plot device in this bit to remind him that Sebastian, not Julia, was his original obsession (he says himself that he has Sebastian with him always now in Julia, though maybe it's the other way around and he had Julia always with him in Sebastian). Cordelia is the one of the four children who is actually doing something useful to others with her life, rather than living high as Bridey does, living in sin as Julia does or living on the verge of a nervous breakdown as Sebastian does...I really don't like these characters too terribly much when I think about it at all.

Deer wander freely all over Valley Forge National Park. We saw more than 20 the day we were there.

This snake was in the grass not five feet from the demonstration of Colonial weaponry.

Where there are oaks and other trees with acorns and nuts, there are always squirrels.

People ride horses in the park.

And, of course, there are commemorative horses like this one.

Tomorrow we're going (with my mother) to meet with the DJ to discuss what music son wants played at the Bar Mitzvah and what the order of events at the reception will be. Am hoping this will be relatively easy, as we have a rehearsal at the temple with the rabbi immediately afterward.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

By Rita Dove

She wanted a little room for thinking:
but she saw diapers steaming on the line,
a doll slumped behind the door.

So she lugged a chair behind the garage
to sit out the children's naps.

Sometimes there were things to watch --
the pinched armor of a vanished cricket,
a floating maple leaf. Other days
she stared until she was assured
when she closed her eyes
she'd see only her own vivid blood.

She had an hour, at best, before Liza appeared
pouting from the top of the stairs.
And just what was mother doing
out back with the field mice? Why,

building a palace. Later
that night when Thomas rolled over and
lurched into her, she would open her eyes
and think of the place that was hers
for an hour -- where
she was nothing,
pure nothing, in the middle of the day.


I had no internet for most of the day. Our router went out, and the new one is refusing to cooperate with the same computers that the old one did...right now, after many hours of futzing with the settings, it's working (*knocks wood*) with my computer and 's big one but not with the laptop, which means I can't work in the living room where I can also see the television, talk on the phone, look out the window, etc. I got no work done, didn't get out of the house in the afternoon because I was fighting with the connection, and am generally frustrated. My kids are coming back Wednesday night and I did not get one day of fun like I planned.

Speaking of my kids, though, they are camping with their grandparents near Hershey, Pennsylvania. Younger son called from a pay phone to tell me that he had found an injured butterfly and carried it around on his arm all day while they went hiking, and that when he put it on a leaf on a bush by the pool so he could go swimming, it eventually followed him inside and sat back on his arm, and it finally flew away in the evening when he put it on a different plant so he could eat dinner. He was all excited about this. I totally miss him when he is not here.

The tall ships of Mystic Seaport from the overlook on the highway, which I made my husband turn around to get to so I could take pictures.

Younger son's favorite store in the Olde Mistick Village shops. Not because he liked the clothes inside -- it was, in fact, closed -- but because of the penguin on the sign.

Ducks in the pond by the old sawmill.

In the parking lot, the Blue Peter, a 23-foot sloop built locally in 1942.

Across the parking lot, an old caboose and a bunch of chickens that started fighting when I walked over to take closer pictures.

And this is just here because I like the sign. I liked the store a lot, too, though I can't afford much scrimshaw!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

Two Poems
By Ogden Nash

Old Men

People expect old men to die.
They do not really mourn old men.
Old men are different. People look
At them with eyes that wonder when...
People watch with unshocked eyes;
But the old men know when an old man dies.

Which the Chicken, Which the Egg

He drinks because she scolds, he thinks;
She thinks she scolds because he drinks;
And neither will admit what's true,
That he's a sot and she's a shrew.


The latter poem exemplifies what Robert Pinsky calls "Nash's often repeated trick: two prolonged, wandering and often prosy lines creating a resourceful or outrageous couplet rhyme" in Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "As with rap music, the point is partly a joke on the English language, with its relative poverty of rhymes: The many different roots of our mongrel language -- Germanic, Norman French, Latin, other inventions and imports like 'barbecue' and 'googol' -- give it a rich vocabulary of synonyms but leave it with relatively few rhymes compared with Italian or French," Pinsky note. "Sometimes rap performance, like Nash's poetry, dramatizes the limits and resources of English in order to express a laughing frustration. But Nash's sensibility has a bleak, sour quality that is not the stuff of popular music."

"It might be natural to assume that Nash wrote [the top] lines as an oldster himself, maybe in a bout of old-age depression. But 'Old Men' appears in his first book, Hard Lines, published in 1931, when the author was 29 years old," Pinsky adds. However. "Which the Chicken, Which the Egg" is from The Old Dog Barks Backwards, published in 1972. "The mordant quality of these poems comes from their stoic determination not to be surprised by the worst in people, including the author. That biting, skeptical, even grouchy viewpoint is not the opposite or dark underside of Nash's gift for comedy. On the contrary, the way of writing fits the worldview: The comedy of moral imperfection goes with the formal joke of lines that break rules of measure and correctness to arrive at their rhyme."

Had a relatively quiet day. Had lunch with my husband at an Indian restaurant we'd never tried before, came home and rearranged all sorts of dorky things in my bedroom because I finally tracked down Romeo & Juliet Barbie & Ken really cheaply (after nearly a decade of looking) and had to shift all my dolls Aragorn & Arwen Barbie & Ken are more prominently displayed, too, and the Irish Legends which have cheap ugly boxes but are rather pretty dolls, and all the Halloween witches are in one place. I saw photos of this year's Target exclusive Halloween Barbie and she looks awesome! I hope I manage to find one in the store this year and don't have to resort to eBay!

Anyway, yeah, I said dorky things...I also split my Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter tags here because they'd become so massive (120+ each), gave Hanover a separate tag from Gettysburg, tagged all the Pattiann Rogers poems I could find because she's the one I end up pimping to people most often and since I had a Sharon Olds tag already I figured she could have one too...hey, if anyone has a favorite poet whose work you've actually bookmarked here and you want to create tags in this journal for that poet, please feel free, as I don't know where all the Whitman, Kenyon, Rilke, Neruda, etc. is! Shakespeare and Olds are the only ones I've tagged regularly!

Watched this week's Brotherhood a day late (and we figured out how to use Showtime On Demand to do it, and now we know they don't run previews for other shows over the closing credits so the episodes can be recorded uncluttered that way, yay!). This is all going to end very badly, I suspect: the brothers are not going to be smart enough to band together against common foes, for the pattern is a lot like Greek tragedy despite the modern vulgar dialogue. I thought I could not root for Michael at all after he had McGonagle (hahahaha, I never thought about that name before) break the projectionist's fingers, but then there was that whole "You're my friend and I love you!" scene after he caught Pete drinking and I totally forgave him...Tommy could have that kind of devotion if he'd give Michael a break, and it's not like his own hands are so clean. Overall I found it to be a terrific episode, if a little thematically heavy-handed...the restored movie theater showing How Green Was My Valley while Rose agitated for unionization at the show's equivalent of Wal-Mart and Tommy went around making compromises right and left while forgetting that the rule he applies so rigidly to his brother -- never, ever trust a mobster -- applies equally to every other mobster whose money and support he covets.

A lady of the court gives her hand to a Frenchman, thus breaking an Englishman's heart.

"The Bull" rides in, his horse leaping over the flames. He did a lot of the showier tricks on horseback in the joust, but the guy playing Sir Edward had to fall off his horse twice in the two jousts we saw, which I gather is something that takes enormous skill.

There are also excellent displays of skill with the longbow -- this archer was hitting targets from further than the length of a football field.

One of the armory shops is a pirate ship. This is very popular with my children despite the frustration of not being allowed to touch anything inside. (Since it was romance weekend and apparently we arrived at the right moment, my husband and his father were given tickets to get me and his mother little sword letter openers at this armory. Sweet!)

Of course it is always a pleasure to see a soldier of Gondor...

...or one of the Queen's Hounds, which are actually greyhounds rescued from tracks and various other places.

The Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire is always good for tricks with fire at the joust -- there are cannons, explosions and the like.

Tuesday I must decide whether it is worth buying Threshold on DVD or waiting to see whether Sci-Fi shows the episodes pretty complete, uncut and recordable. Do I want it badly enough to own? Nah, should save the money for Mission: Impossible!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Poem for Monday

Compliments of a Friend
By Ogden Nash

For every sin that I produce
Kind Me can find some soft excuse,
And when I blow a final gasket,
Who but Me will share my casket?
Beside us, Pythias and Damon
Were just two unacquainted laymen.
Sneer not, for if you answer true,
Don't you feel that way about You?


"The comic versifier Ogden Nash is remembered for a few short rhymes that, for some tastes, have become almost folkloric: 'Candy/ Is dandy/ But liquor/ Is quicker,'" writes Robert Pinsky in Sunday's Washington Post Book World in Poet's Choice. "The genial cleverness, even in these chestnuts, does not entirely conceal an interest in sex and in the inhibitions, obstacles or deceptions of courtship. As with other light entertainers, Nash's body of work reveals a certain edge and darkness. He was also a sophisticated writer, irritated by the immensely popular poet Edgar Guest of the generation before his all excellent comedy, Ogden Nash's verses, however charming, have a distinct unsettling element.

I spent another very lovely afternoon in an earlier century, this time the Civil War, where reenactors recreated the Battle of Hanover. Last time they did this, for maximum realism, they fought on the actual streets where the battle took place, but this was very difficult for people, horses and motorists alike, so this time they held it in a wooded field a couple of blocks away. My throat still feels funny from all the sulfur I inhaled -- the Confederates in particular really like to shoot and loaned one of the cannons to the Union so they could have a big-gun battle as well as the foot soldiers and cavalry! Oddly, since we were in Pennsylvania, the Confederate army and the wives and children traveling with it seemed much larger than that of the Union, and the festival shop had lots of t-shirts with things like "Born in the C.S.A." and "I'd rather be historically fair than politically correct."

The Confederate cannon fires...

...followed by gunfire from the cavalry.

Union soldiers return fire.

The Confederate Army reloads and regroups.

Here is General Stuart in his headquarters...

...and General Lee, visiting after the battle.

And this is a prototype Gatling Gun.

We all went out for ice cream, then and his father took the kids mini-golfing while I went shopping with his mother for shoes and a dress to wear to older son's Bar Mitzvah, because I was quite certain I could not handle this with my own mother and his mother is far more likely to judge a pair of $15-on-sale-at-Bon-Ton shoes unbiased without reacting to the fact that they're $15-on-sale-at-Bon-Ton shoes! (Patent leather, very pretty, low heel and comfortable with the latter being my top priority.) I got a dress which I am not positive is the dress -- it's pretty but straight black, and I don't know if I'm supposed to be more colorful, but I have another evening Bar Mitzvah two weeks after my son's and can wear it to that one. I will be so relieved on the day when it no longer matters what I am wearing!

My in-laws are taking the kids camping near Hershey for a couple of days, so and I came home alone after dinner and watched the Shatner roast, which was very funny even though they bleeped some of the best lines and cut others altogether! I don't care what Andy Dick was on (and boy was he on something): any man who reads his own K/S on national television (Spock fired his photon torpedoes in Kirk's wormhole) and claims to be their love child, Kock, is okay in my book. And I realize that Shatner/Nimoy is not Kirk/Spock, but "I love you like a brother" made my night anyway. George Takei took nearly as much ribbing as Shatner, though they cut the bukkake joke. Rene Auberjonois looked like he was having a great time, as did Mark Valley and Jeri Ryan; Nichelle Nichols looked very relaxed if sometimes a little bored; Carrie Fisher always looks fabulous to me.

Monday is going to be insane trying to cover the roast articles and keep up with the Vegas convention coverage -- I originally had plans for tomorrow for a fun day without kids around, but my co-conspirator can't make it so I guess I am going to be working, waah! Maybe I will actually get caught up on LJ for once.