Saturday, September 30, 2006

Poem for Saturday

Counting What the Cactus Contains
By Pattiann Rogers

Elf owl, cactus wren, fruit flies incubating
In the only womb they'll ever recognize.
Shadow for the sand rat, spines
And barbary ribs clenched with green wax.
Seven thousand thorns, each a water slide,
A wooden tongue licking the air dry.

Inside, early morning mist captured intact,
The taste of drizzle sucked
And sunsplit. Whistle
Of the red-tailed hawk at midnight, rush
Of the leaf-nosed bat, the soft slip
Of fog easing through sand held in tandem.

Counting, the vertigo of its attitudes
Across the evening; in the wood of its latticed bones--
The eye sockets of every saint of thirst;
In the gullet of each night-blooming flower--the crucifix
Of the arid.

In its core, a monastery of cells, a brotherhood
Of electrons, a column of expanding darkness
Where matter migrates and sparks whorl,
And travel has no direction, where distance
Bends backward over itself and the ascension
Of Venus, the stability of Polaris, are crucial.

The cactus, containing
Whatever can be said to be there,
Plus the measurable tremble of its association
With all those who have been counting.


Poem because, if the weather holds, we are going Saturday to Rock Creek Park day where we will see owls and hawks and a variety of reptiles at the talks there. It is so gorgeous out right now, cool and clear, but we are supposed to have rain moving in by late Saturday! We had major rainstorms last night which caused problems all over the region but my particular corner was spared, no power outages or I thought. Now I know that it is too dangerous for me to eat at one particular diner with , however; last time I did so, the wind knocked a lamppost down on my then-new van, and today, although there was almost no wind, a big tree came down across the major cross street from where I live, taking a bunch of electrical wires with it and causing a blackout of several hours while the power company untangled them, plus a traffic nightmare when I went to pick my son up from the bus! Though it could have been lots worse (and was last time, I am not really complaining), I am not sure it is safe for me to have lunch at that diner again!

Unfortunately my attempts to shoot the downed tree through the windshield while driving were hopeless, but this is what the traffic looked like for several miles down this two-lane road.

I did get the pleasure of seeing and and meeting , so it was a good lunch! Because of the lack of electricity, I did not finish all the work I intended to do this afternoon, though I did write a quick and thoroughly uninspired review of "For the World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched the Sky", which I just could not find anything exciting to say about. It's not a real stinker of an episode but I sometimes think those are easier to watch -- they have humor, even if it's not intentional! But in the evening I got Doctor Who back, so I have absolutely no complaints where science fiction television is concerned. It's not the same without Eccleston but it's also still enjoyable with Tennant, which is all I really care about. I am not going to talk much about it here because I got so fed up with all the people who'd already seen the episodes coming in and leaving little "just you wait" digs last time around -- unlike, say, Sharpe and Hornblower, where I always felt like I could talk in present time even though half the world got to the party before me -- but I am going to note a couple of favorite moments just for my own reference later.

Like the Doctor quoting Elton John's lyrics from The Lion King, with which we were singing along before he'd finished and identified the source, and then saying, "Very Arthur Dent"! I liked "The Christmas Invasion" better than "New Earth", which seemed choppier than most of last season's episodes and actually felt longer than the special. I'm ambivalent about the Doctor bringing down Harriet Jones, because I don't think her demonstrating Torchwood's capabilities was so utterly unforgivable given what she had just been through...though it did rather undercut the very best line, when she said to contact the US president and please use her exact words: "He's not my boss and he's certainly not turning this into a war." Whoo! My son and husband (and my husband's two brothers and their father) all have A+ blood, so that was a little freaky, which I guess was the intention because everyone knows someone with A+ blood. Oh and poor Mickey, doomed to keep losing Rose (yeah, yeah, until he doesn't, because someone is sure to go and say something like that), fighting battles against a possessed Christmas tree with a chair. The only line that really jumped out at me from "New Earth" was "There are better things to do today than dying," sort of an anti-Klingon attitude that makes me smile, but the horrible cat-nurses in the Vincentian headpieces and the tiresome Oldest Woman and the Matrix imagery didn't really excite me. I missed Eccleston more during that episode than the Christmas one.

: Broken
1. What's the last thing you broke?
An already cracked bowl in my kitchen sink.
2. What's the most expensive thing you've broken? The back of my car, when I thought the woman in the car behind it had gestured to show that she was waiting for my parking spot but she pulled forward right as I started to back out.
3. Do you consider yourself clumsy or graceful? Clumsy. Not horrible klutz, but certainly not graceful.
4. How much money do you have in your wallet right now? can vouch for this -- about fifty-five cents.
5. Someone asks for change while you're walking down the street -- what do you do? Usually give him or her some, if I have any on me. I keep meaning to compile a list of phone numbers of places that help the homeless/unemployed so I can give that to people along with change for the phone.

: The Boob Tube and You(Tube)
1. What TV show(s) do you find yourself watching the most?
Doctor Who now that it is back on! Over the course of the past couple of years, Smallville. Over the course of my life, the Star Treks.
2. What if any TV shows do you own on DVD? All of the original Star Trek, Space: 1999, Dawson's Creek, Sharpe and Horatio Hornblower if the latter two count. Five of six seasons of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, a couple of seasons of Smallville, The Simpsons, Monty Python's Flying Circus and various animated series belonging to my children; themed collections of The Next Generation plus the first and last seasons of Deep Space Nine; the first seasons of Boston Legal and Doctor Who awaiting more; the first season of The West Wing and a few random episodes recorded at home.
3. Can you name your favorite TV show theme song (I would encourage you to make a phone post and sing it to us)? I am not singing it but due to the nature of this journal I had probably better claim "The Love Boat" -- tempted though I am to say "Faith of the Heart" and listen to people cry! *g*
4. Have you ever been on TV and if so for what? I narrated portions of a BBC documentary on Mystical Washington, DC.
5. What is your favorite YouTube video (feel free to post a link)? My son's Bar Mitzvah slide show I suppose -- I haven't seen many! I was happy to find the original Pocahontas ending there.

: What five questions would characters in your fandom ask an advice columnist?
This has already been written so well that I shall simply link to Neelix's Online Advice Column!

Sending birthday wishes to my college roommate and pie to , and must go sleep!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Get Critical Update

TV Review: Star Trek's "For the World Is Hollow, And I Have Touched the Sky"

Poem for Friday

To Autumn
By William Blake

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stain'd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.

The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

The spirits of the air live in the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees."
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat,
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.


I've posted this one, before too, but as with Keats, there can never be too much Blake.

Coughed all night, felt like crap all morning, stayed in bed till 10. Realized that whatever is being done to the neighbors' house -- they moved two weeks ago and are apparently replacing everything, paint, floors, etc. before putting it on the market -- may be exacerbating my symptoms, since I still don't feel sick really; my sinuses are clear and my lungs, knock wood, seem to be as well, it's all a very dry, painful throat. Even my headache went away once the storm front hit. So I didn't get out much today except to the drugstore, where I forgot Nyquil! Is that one of the things whose ingredients are changing as of this weekend, or one of the ones that I'm going to have to sign an agreement when I purchase that I won't use it to make crystal meth?

Watching the news is just an exercise in stress, but I better not talk about it or I might be arrested by a secret military tribunal and tortured interrogated. Also I shouldn't take my kids shopping with me as there were two separate molestation incidents in big local chain stores. At least we get the Democrats' hilarious ads against Michael Steele, in which they explain that he may like puppies but he loves George Bush, with a picture of Bush and Steele with a big heart around them. Ah well, at least the Maryland senatorial candidates are not having one another's friends call the news to tell them which racial epithets they've each been heard using, which is what's going on in Virginia. (And, you know, I'd rather vote for a man who's pro-choice and pro-gay rights even if he's said stupid things about women in the past than a man who's been verbally respectful but has voted against women's rights!)

had a link to this column on fan fiction, criticism and the law in Henry Jenkins' blog and then pointed out that LJ has an RSS feed, . Sweet! I met him once when he was in DC doing research, after having known him (and debated with him quite fiercely) on the old ACAFEN-L mailing list, the Academic Study of Fandom.

Watched the season premiere of Smallville, which was not terribly impressive but did have several aspects that I liked a lot. Like that big hug between Martha and Lionel, my het OTP for the season. Like Clark and Lex flying through the air together and landing on the ground together (replayed in opening credits this season, no less!) in the most homoerotic shot EVER. And then the last scene between Clark and Lex -- oops, the little El and the big Z -- best summarized by : "Kneel before me! Suck my Kryptonian dick! Kiss my hand, you know you want to!" And then, as if that isn't enough, Jimmy Olsen -- about whom I had no real feelings as a romantic interest for Chloe, since it would make me happy if Clark and Chloe had their day to avoid any more of Kristin Kreuk's excruciating acting in scenes with Tom Welling -- shows up and not only has very nice chemistry with Chloe but is instantly hot for Clark! Suddenly he wants to be a MAN! There needs to be Clark/Chloe/Jimmy fic ASAP. Oh, and Lex can come too. Or he can walk in on Dad and Martha doing it...okay, I'll stop now. *g*

Also watched Shark, again was far more impressed with the acting than the dialogue, though was really only half paying attention as I had delightful Evil Distraction going on. The girl playing the daughter is pretty good but her scenes are pretty painful, and Woods can only do so much snarling and barking on the job. Trek news was more How Star Trek Changed the World, and we all watched "For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" so I can review it tomorrow...suggestions about anything nice to say besides how lovely Spock is letting McCoy know that he's worried about him will be gratefully accepted.

Glassblowing at the RenFaire. I love the way this photo came out even though the foreground's so overexposed; I expected either the glass or the blower to end up more blurred.

And look, I rule a planet. It's even the planet that rules over ME, since I'm a Sagittarius:

You Should Rule Jupiter

Huge and hot, Jupiter is a quickly turning planet with short days and intense gravity.

You are perfect to rule Jupiter, because you are both dominant and kind.

You have great strength and confidence, but you never abuse your power.

You are always right. Even if you make mistakes, you compensate for them... before anyone knows it.

Headstrong and ambitious, you always have a goal in mind. You are optimistic and believe thing things will always work out.

Will talk more about my poll tomorrow, but I'm curious: People who thought I had one true fandom, or even three to six main fandoms, which are they? (I consider original Trek, DS9, Voyager, Space: 1999, Smallville, LOTR, M&C and HP all to have been "my fandoms" and that's not even counting things like Equilibrium and lotrips, let alone things I have rarely written like POTC and The West Wing, and I always wonder what I sound fannish about to other people!)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poem for Thursday

To Autumn
By John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
  And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
    For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
  Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
    Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
  Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  Among the river sallows, borne aloft
    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


Another swiped from , which I have posted before, but there can never be too much Keats.

Over the church at the Renaissance Faire (where the "Crown Jewels" are kept), the leaves have begun to change.

I have little of note to report from Wednesday...the kids had a half-day of school so I spent it doing chores. First took younger son to violin, then picked up older son and took both kids to dentist...younger son had a loose tooth which the hygienist managed to wiggle free in the course of checking teeth, so I took them out for ice cream afterward (there's this new kind of fluoride that you can eat right after having painted on your teeth, though no hot foods or hard foods for several hours), then had to make a bunch of birthday-related stops to get a new Nintendo DS Mario game, some Pirates of the South China Seas cards, a new violin shoulder rest, milk and toilet paper (plus Cinnamon Toast Crunch and other things that mysteriously appeared in the cart)...anyway, you know how it is.

Kids managed to finish their homework by dinnertime, so after dinner we watched Die Hard 2, the only one of the trilogy I hadn't seen. I don't think it was as good as the first or third -- William Sadler doesn't have the same manic edge for Bruce Willis to work off of, and anyway they're not in direct conflict nearly enough, plus after the first and third movies I was expecting a plot twist that never came -- but my biggest issue, apart from the Pacific Bell telephones in Dulles Airport, was the idea that DC would get that much snow! Before Christmas, yet! And that there would be a big open field with a church that close to the airport, rather than the increasingly thick suburbs, though maybe at the time they made the movie there was slightly less congestion in the area. I was kind of fascinated by the things I noticed that I doubt I would have thought about before 9/11, like the way the plane from England blew up -- it looked fake because that wasn't a plane that had flown over the Atlantic, that was a plane with a full fuel tank. (Sloan from Section 31 killed Miles O'Brien! That amused me, since it wasn't like O'Brien was sleeping with Bashir in Die Harder they were playing characters with certain similarities to the ones they played on DS9.)

When that was over we flipped channels just in time for Barbara Walters interviewing Terri Irwin (Here is coverage of it if you missed it and want highlights). I felt very weird about is a woman who is very obviously grieving, sincerely devastated, and yet I also got the sense that she felt she had to do this for her family and her career, get out there and put herself in front of the cameras to make sure she and Bindi and Robert can keep doing what they'd been doing with Steve, and Barbara Walters pounced like a vulture to be the one to get that exclusive footage and ask Steve's friend what he saw on the videotape when Steve died. It was somehow distasteful and at the same time I can't disagree that it was probably what Steve would have wanted, publicity and donations for the animal park and the animals while the attention is there.

Trek news was yet another reveal-nothing interview about Bethesda Softworks' upcoming games and some blather about fan films -- Koenig got his fifteen minutes of New Voyages, now it's Takei's turn. My throat is still not right and it's still really irritating and weird, because I feel like there's no point in taking allergy medicine when I'm not actually congested. Shall go try to sleep it off.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

The White Tiger
By R.S. Thomas

It was beautiful as God
must be beautiful; glacial
eyes that had looked on
violence and come to terms

with it; a body too huge
and majestic for the cage in which
it had been put; up
and down in the shadow

of its own bulk it went,
lifting, as it turned,
the crumpled flower of its face
to look into my own

face without seeing me. It
was the colour of the moonlight
on snow and as quiet
as moonlight, but breathing

as you can imagine that
God breathes within the confines
of our definition of him, agonising
over immensities that will not return.


posted this for me here, and it is so very lovely I had to swipe it and repost it.

The ragweed is really irritating me this season in a very strange seems to be bypassing my sinuses, which are fine and not in the least congested, and giving me a very dry throat which is making me cough in a very dry way and it's very uncomfortable though my throat is not properly sore as with a cold! I keep feeling like I should be coughing something up, either post-nasal or from my lungs, but I am apparently not sick and this has been going on for three days's just this icky dry feeling in my throat that will not go away no matter what I gargle with. Bleh.

Had a relatively quiet day...wrote articles on Brent Spiner saying Star Trek is less important than saving the planet from Republicans and on John M. Ford's death, which is very sad, as I hadn't realized he was so ill for so long...his Star Trek novels were among my favorites but it was The Dragon Waiting, an alternate history of Europe that I read at the height of my interest in alternative Richard III stories to Shakespeare's (The Daughter of Time, The Sunne In Splendour), that I absolutely fell in love with. I must reread that before I go to Wales! Took younger son to and from Hebrew school and in between stopped at the card store to get older son Magic cards for his birthday...we meant to get Pirates of Davy Jones' Curse cards too, but never made it to the game store, which is further away.

Had birthday dinner with my parents, or more specifically my mother, since my father was playing tennis and apparently couldn't be arsed to skip the game...after all his insanity about how I'm going to "miss" my mother's birthday because I am unavailable for a potential family get-together several weeks afterward during spring break! Sigh. Son didn't mind, as he received all the Pendragon books he did not own previously and a red panda adoption certificate from the National Zoo (with a stuffed red panda, with which he is now sleeping despite being 13, which makes me smile). I had bought younger son a little plastic collectible cat for $1 in the card store, not wanting his nose to be out of joint over older son's birthday, which apparently pleased him so much that he was in a good mood all night, though he wants to go back tomorrow because apparently there is a cat named "Rosie" in the collection, which I did not see. Sometimes I manage to guess right! And late night of course was Boston Legal time, during the course of which I learned that Denny Crane would never date me...not that this is necessarily a bad thing.

The episode starts with Denny meeting the new lawyers on the show, whom he has trouble believing are going to be regulars since they didn't appear in the season premiere (he actually says this). He hits on the woman, Claire Simms, telling her that if she's a client, he'll get her off, and if she isn't, the offer still stands, which gives her an excuse to say Ew and Double Ew and proceed to be as bitchy as bitchy can be, which is really sort of understandable. She's an associate; Jeffrey Coho, played by the delightful Craig Bierko, is a new partner, which doesn't sit well with Denise at all since Shirley tells her that she won't make partner until she proves she deserves it.

It doesn't sit well with Brad either, who calls Jeffrey "New Guy" and informs him that at his old firm, all the women might have wanted to sleep with Jeffrey, but at Crane, Poole & Schmidt, Brad himself is that guy. "I can see that," Jeffrey says. "Even I want to sleep with you." When Brad asks whether he's gay, Jeffrey says no -- completely straight -- which just shows how good looking Brad is. Denise (whom Jeffrey calls "Drop Dead" since it was one of the first things she said to him) watches this entire exchange like she can't decide who to root for, which is kind of annoying because Brad is still totally in love with her and OMG she needs to realize...oops sorry. Anyway, no sooner has Jeffrey been read the rules of the firm ("we have a zero tolerance policy on sexual harrassment" hahahahahahahaha) than he gets a high-profile murder case, a judge who was also the wife of the judge played by Armin Shimerman last week. The client came straight to the lawyers before going to the police to admit he had sex with the victim hours before her murder. Even Jeffrey finds this suspicious, but he does a great job pulling the police bulldog off the very young client.

Meanwhile Alan and New Girl Claire are given a case representing a woman who says she was denied her right to maternity leave. When the woman comes in, it's immediately obvious that she's a transvestite, though Denny is still trying to figure this out while Alan is learning details like the fact that Clarice wanted to go overseas to adopt like Angelina Jolie. Claire is unimpressed by Barry Bonds in a frock; Clarice calls her ho, pointing out that her own dress is Dolce and Gabbana while the shoes are Prada. They call in Clarice's boss, who says that the real issue wasn't maternity leave but the fact that the Clarice is a distraction in the office who is constantly making jokes about her knockers like the ones she addressed to Denny (who was, indeed, checking them out) and worse, that Clarice uses the women's bathroom. He says he'd rehire her if she'll drop the comedy routine and use the men's room. When Alan and Claire (who's wearing a Yankees cap in Boston) go to visit Clarice to tell her this, the door is opened by a soft-spoken lookalike who claims to be her shy brother, Clarence, and they leave a message.

Denny has found a really hot girl via an internet dating site, but when he goes to meet her for their first date, he discovers that while she has the pretty face and knockers he saw in her online photo, she's perhaps three foot six. She's also a lawyer, and starstruck, saying that in law school she dreamed of going up against Denny Crane and now she's on a date with him, but she's uncomfortable doing all the talking. Denny announces that the problem is, she never indicated she was Jewish; not that he has anything against Jews, but what if they decided "to get married and have midgets of our own? I'd want to bring them up Christian." When she is furious at his obvious bias against little people, Denny blames the slip on his mad cow disease and says he loves twerps.

Back at the office, Denny tells Alan he's afraid this midget put a hex on him even though he liked her face and breasts, and Alan is forced to point out that the girl is RIGHT THERE in the room with them...Denny simply didn't look down (and the camera has been shooting them from the chest up, so it's a hilarious trick shot on the reveal). She produces a summons and complaint because he called her a midget in a crowded restaurant and his bigotry caused her emotional distress. "Next time you're on Larry King, you can explain why you hate dwarfs," she snaps. Denny says this is worse than a hex. (These two are totally made for each other, so I really hope they get over themselves...of course I am just saying this because the idea of Denny with a really short Jewish woman does something for me.)

So in the Real Case of the episode, Coho gets in the DA's face, takes photos of the autopsy, ingratiates himself with the kid's mother whom he suspects may be the real killer (she says that if an innocent person must go to jail, better her than her son), talks to a flaming neighbor who claims that the dead judge was obsessed with him but he's deeply Christian yet also a peeping tom and they mutually got off on his watching her have sex although her husband took out a restraining order against him. The kid, Scott, is arrested in a huge public spectacle and Jeffrey is furious, promising the DA that he will not only be in his face but up his ass for this since the entire jury pool has now been tainted. The judge is irate about cameras in the courtroom, threatens to lock up the media and sets bail $1 million. One of the assistant DAs slips Jeffrey a recording of one of Scott's private therapy sessions, passed on by a concerned doctor, in which Scott says he thought about killing the dead judge; Jeffrey wants it ruled inadmissible under doctor-patient privilege, but the judge says it's admissible if relevant and obtained by legal means, and also that Jeffrey should tell his client not to kill any more judges. Things don't look good for Scott.

Clarice storms into the office declaring that she prefers the women's room because it has "bidettes" as she pronounces it, which cracks Claire up. "You're a shy man who likes to hide behind a disguise. Admit I was right," she says. "Admit I was right when I called you a ho, ho!" retorts Clarice. But then Claire turns into a different person. She asks Clarence to take off the wig and explains that everyone has false public personalities, but for most people the distinctions are not as radical. "You are so successful as Clarice that it's not as fun being Clarence," she guesses. He says it's not that simple. He THINKS things as Clarice that he couldn't come up with as Clarence: "I think I'm even smarter as her." And here the show totally drops the ball, backing Claire's suggestion that it's all confidence from brain chemistry and the desire to live through a fictional character Clarence created, as if transvestitism is all about lack of confidence and wanting to be flamboyant. Claire demands to go out with Clarence as Clarence (platonically of course) and after some initial reservations -- he pretends to be his brother Clevant -- Clarence goes. So Claire comes off looking nicer and more sensitive than she can afford to be in the office, which is fine, but Clarice gets dismissed as a crutch rather than a valued and valuable aspect of who Clarence is, and I am really not comfortable with it.

In the end, as Denny and Alan smoke, Denny says that he considers himself a tolerant man and even thinks midgets are sexy -- he's always heard about munchin orgies, and how their libidos are out of whack so they can go like gerbils. Alan stares, saying he's just listening to the idle ramblings of a tolerant man. Denny's concerned because his spurned internet girlfriend is a tenacious litigator: "They call her the badger." Political correctness is out of control, he says, when he can no longer racially profile nor call a midget a midget. Alan says oh, no, things are spinning your way again: snap judgments are all the rage, the press has already convicted the kid charged with the judge's murder. And then there was the transvestite...well, Denny notes, tranvestites are a threat to national security. "There could be a Muslim underneath that mascara." Rather than taking this bait, Alan says he likes Claire, but Denny recalls that she called him gross. "I think she's attracted to me. These are exciting times at Crane, Poole & Schmidt. And to add to it all, I'm being sued by a killer dwarf."

I like having serial episodes, and it's probably necessary if Bierko's character is going to get any balance with the already established cast, and I like Jeffrey and Claire's interactions with people but I'm still worried about too little screen time for Brad and Denise in particular (Paul never gets enough screen time but I get the impression that's Rene Auberjonois' request), I'm not sure about playing Brad and Jeffrey off against each other with Denise in the mix trying to make partner, and I always wonder when the crack will go a little too far and won't redeem itself in the last minutes for me. It was a close thing this week; I'm not offended by the midget stuff but it seems mean-spirited so far, I don't know where this whole promiscuous judge thing is going (will be very annoyed if Armin killed her because she was sleeping around but I don't think the crazy kid did it and am not sure about the mother for whom he might be covering), and I hope that if Clarence is happy being Clarice, he can be Clarice happily! But I'm betting we don't see her again.

The toad we saw while leaving my parents' house earlier in the evening.

The stuffed red panda son got along with his adoption certificate and photo of the actual animal at the National Zoo.

And one of the horses from the Renaissance soon as he rode out, my son said, "THAT horse is a boy."

Half-day of school Wednesday. Kids have violin and dentist. Joy! And I have seen the photos from the Bar Mitzvah, which are finally up...I look so much like my father's mother in them that it freaks me out.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Poem for Tuesday

I am Like a Desert Owl, an Owl Among the Ruins
By Noelle Kocot

The alpha You. The omega You.
My grandmother’s ghost, its girlish snafu
Basking in the waters of urgency.

But I want the coolness of snow.
I want pairs of hands that speak to me cleanly,
Sutras to resuscitate what reigns

Over warped celluloid and heirlooms I can’t touch.
There are no family photographs.
Once I was ordinary.

I rattled around with arms, with legs,
With a damp remembering that served me well.
Then, a little sleep, a little slumber,

A little folding of the hands to rest.
I asked myself, don’t you just love it?
And then, why don’t you just love it?

And then, from what grace have I fallen?
Am I Sisyphus with his mute rock
Unsettling the topsoil, dissolved now

Into brandied battle shouts and pages that breathe like people?
There are hazards here, more so than before
The Furies struck and scarved the white night sifting

The bright waterlights blinking
And grieving over a mash of ice.
Like them, I wanted only to die, moon-dark, blessed,

Poised beneath the driest arrows of my suffering,
Far from the flocks of burning, singing gulls,
Face to face with the God of my childhood.


I have had a lovely day about which the only negative thing I can say is that I ate too much. came to visit and we had porn and pie, as promised! And Middle Eastern food, because it's a good idea to have some protein before pie (the kind in the porn doesn't count, heh). And we talked a lot and went to the Container Store and watched more porn.

Then hubby made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and we had more pie and I ate a whole pile of spicy little crackers while watching Heroes. Which I enjoyed in an X-Men kind of way, though I found it very slow to get started; it reminds me a little bit of Threshold, too, in the suggestions of overarching conspiracy, but that aspect of the series is more interesting than the immortal cheerleader. Ironically my favorite character is the one whose lines I missed most of because my son was talking to me about homework and I had to look at him and the dialogue was only in English in subtitles -- the Japanese guy who's into Star Trek and Backstreet Boys karaoke. I am curious how the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde woman is going to get away with killing her enemies, though -- won't it still be her fingerprints? I was otherwise occupied but I also half-watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which I didn't really enjoy -- I'm still not digging any of the female characters and, except for moments of slashiness, not really liking the guys either.

I did shriek happily when Matt said he had had great sex with the studio exec and that's why they were back, and I was glad Danny told the truth about his cocaine problem, but the minute he jumped into the "voluntary" right-in-the-middle-of-everything public prayer circle, I threw up. I hope everyone on the staff quits rather than having to put up with two bosses publicly supporting holier-than-thou Harriet Hayes' "if you don't let me proselytize in your face it just shows you don't respect my religion" bullshit...actually I just hope an anvil falls on her and gives her a sign to go back to The 700 Club, because or not even rooting for Jordan is going to keep me watching that show otherwise.

I didn't get going on work until late in the day and I postponed writing a Brent Spiner article so I could throw up a quickie about Scott Bakula appearing on The New Adventures of Old Christine (Scott not being nearly a compelling enough reason for me to watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus...I am not sure whether Sean Bean would be a compelling enough reason for me to watch Julia Louis-Dreyfus). But I did post my Alexander Siddig interview. made me extremely happy by bringing DS9 season one with her, so I watched bits of "Duet" and "In the Hands of the Prophets" and was very happy. Tomorrow I may watch the bits of "Dramatis Personae" where Kira hits on Dax. Am thinking I may need to own DS9 season two just for "Necessary Evil"...well, and the opening trilogy, and "Crossover"...

His Majesty King Henry VIII, whom I encountered on the way to the talk on the history of navigation. He did not ask me to marry him but he did agree to pose for a portrait.

The friendly king stopped to talk to small children, too.

Here is the Portuguese sailor demonstrating how knots were counted (not to scale or there would have been a lot more line to roll up afterward). He also helpfully explained how one could tell one's position using a quadrant because, since the Earth is the center of the universe and all the planets and stars move around it in fixed spheres, it is relatively easy to plot them.

A photo of Sir Henry Clifford taken while standing next to at the joust.

And here is Sir Henry leading Sir William and the others on a lap around the arena.

On Tuesday my son officially turns 13. I feel old. And sleepy. *g*

Monday, September 25, 2006

Get Critical Update

Interview: Alexander Siddig

Poem for Monday

A Midsummer Night's Dream Epilogue
By William Shakespeare

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.


Poem in honor of the RenFaire where we spent most of the day, getting up very early so we could be certain to arrive in time for the original Fight School, which we had not seen in three years. (It's still hilarious, and at one point when one of the performers was fake-dying and was in the process of announcing dramatically that he was slain, my younger son yelled, "SUCKER!" and the entire place including the guys onstage cracked up and the performer broke off his speech, saying he couldn't top that.) We also saw a very entertaining abbreviated Midsummer Night's Dream, an hour and fifteen minutes long, with some rather non-traditional interpretations (Bottom as a cross between Yosemite Sam and George W. Bush, Hippolyta as a middle-aged lusty wench who doesn't want to wait for the wedding night) and an absolutely hysterical production of "The Most Lamentable Comedy And Most Cruel Death of Pyramus & Thisby" in which "Thisby" prematurely popped one of her balloon-breasts embracing Pyramus and them couldn't get the sword to pop the other during her suicide scene.

We wanted to see the Squire of the Wire, but he wasn't performing where the schedule said he would be -- possibly because there were very strong winds whipping through the park by then, so wire-walking might have been dangerous for everyone. We saw the O'Danny Girls, whose show was said to be rated PG but I'd put it at more of an R, as most of the numbers were lewd versions of Irish classics and popular drinking songs -- hysterical, but I was hoping my kids didn't catch a lot of the lyrics! We saw a bit of the Rogues, the Human Chess Game and numerous guitar and dulcimer players. And of course we went to two jousts, though we missed the final one because after the wind it began to rain, and we decided we should get out while our luck held! So (whom I got to see very briefly, huzzah) must tell me how it went! I only took the little camera so my shoulders wouldn't give out from carrying a camera bag...

Pyramus and Thisbe explain to Theseus and Hippolyta that they're not quite dead yet.

Rule Number One: We always talk about fight school! Rule Number Two: You know more than you think you do! Rule Number Three: We are trained professionals!

On the jousting tournament grounds, Sir Henry Clifford demonstrates his skill with a sword...

...and on horseback. Which I watched while eating orange ices out of an actual half-orange, which made taking pictures a sticky affair. (Also had a smoked turkey leg and a lemon with a hollow peppermint stick straw stuck in it, which is one of the best things ever...)

Dancing round the Maypole, a bit off-season...maybe it was a Mabon-pole.

And at night I watched the Brotherhood season finale (it is such a relief to call it that, rather than just finale!) Which I enjoyed enormously, particularly the discovery that at Irish weddings just like Jewish Bar Mitzvahs, everyone is still stuck musically in the late 1970s, the height of American civilization. Also that Rose is a Jewish mother even if she's Irish ("Don't mind me, I don't mind sitting here alone...") The episode felt rushed and there was so much unresolved -- Pete sure cleans up nicely, but what the hell, he was only around for five seconds! And Judd is an asshole, but at least now we know the reason he speaks in overblown metaphors is supposed to be that he's losing it, not that he's written as a cliche. After being at the RenFaire I had to giggle at Eileen's belief that Tommy is like a medieval knight...she has the last line of the episode, "We have to talk," and for every way in which she's screwed up, there is so much he isn't telling her, just like his friend Declan and his wife who really wanted a medieval knight and found out that she just had a struggling cop. Considering how cynical this series has been all along about family, it was no surprise to discover that the bride didn't really want to be there!

Except for Michael...who for all his faults -- to quote Freddie speaking to Tommy, "Your brother's a pandemic. He's a Biblical plague. Flies, frogs, locusts and Michael Fucking Caffee...he's a plague and we've got to take care of him before he kills us all!" -- is the one person who DOES believe in family. Well, and Tommy, who tells Freddie that no matter what what Michael is, he's still Tommy's brother and if Freddie hurts him, Tommy will have his revenge. (Freddie says Tommy said he could break Michael's legs. Tommy says that offer expired. Freddy reminds Tommy he bribed a church for him and took fifteen thousand for himself. Ouch!) Tommy keeps discovering that he can't count on a single one of his so-called friends or political allies, but he can count on his brother who everyone says he has to get rid of. Michael says he'd cut off his hand or give Tommy all his money, but he can't leave home again -- "I'm not leaving again till I die" -- and it's heartbreaking because he means it, and even Mary Rose gets it. But Michael can't get a break; he tells Tommy to tell the prosecutors everything he knows, says he knows his return has been hard on Tommy, says it's okay if Tommy hates him...and they hug. And then Declan nearly kills Michael in his fury over having lost his wife and sold out his life for a family he's not part of. If this series had ended like that, I would seriously hate the producers, so they are just lucky I know we're getting more next year.

And now I must go, as I have pie and porn on the schedule for tomorrow!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Poem for Sunday

At Melville's Tomb
By Hart Crane

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men's bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death's bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides . . . High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Robert Pinsky describes the exchange of letters between Hart Crane and Harriet Monroe, editor of Poetry magazine (and a rival of Margaret Anderson and The Little Review, which published him without protesting that his phrases were lacking in meaning). Monroe, explains Pinsky, "had questioned some of his phrases as illogical or impossible...[Crane] argues for the idea that not everything needs to be explained or explicable."

In his letter Crane "proposes that bones, eroded to dice by the sea, might be washed up in fragments as an embassy -- mute representations of those nameless dead. He discusses the spiral calyx or cornucopia of the whirlpool left by a sinking ship, where parts of the wreckage appear as a sad bounty or hieroglyph. His careful sentences are studded with half-despairing asides reasserting that there are plenty of other overtones, undertones and implications that he is leaving out." Pinsky finds it "both sad and funny that the poem's subject is the way that important meanings -- such as those in the art of Herman Melville -- often come in remnants, shadows, extraordinary depths of intuition." He also finds the poem lucid: "In Crane's somberly ornamented tribute to his predecessor, Melville, human instruments of perception are effective but doomed by their limitations. The lifted eyes of religion, the sextant of navigation, Melville's genius: All are ways toward knowledge that contrive or discover meanings, despite their mortal limitations. In a word, they are tragic."

I've posted these pictures before, when I took them in 2004, but they were so appropriate with the poem that I decided to post them again. This is the Seamen's Bethel in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where Melville first heard stories about whaling from sailors staying at the nearby Mariner's Home.

Melville worshipped in the last pew on the first floor. When John Huston filmed Moby Dick, the movie showed a pulpit in the shape of a ship's prow, and the church was subsequently altered to incorporate that dramatic image.

Have survived Rosh Hashanah services. I must admit that spending this much time in this particular synagogue has precisely the opposite effect that I suspect it's supposed to: instead of feeling more pious I feel more distant and aggravated than ever. It's a good thing I don't believe in the God who doesn't inscribe people in the Book of Life for such heresy. The only moments I was at all moved were during the singing of "L'chi Lach" which has more to do with Debbie Friedman's beautiful melody than the idea that God promised to make a great nation of Abraham, which I don't believe, and during the Mourner's Kaddish, which has been said so many times in Jewish history on so many tragic occasions, including my own grandparents' funerals, that I can't help but be affected by it. As usual, the lobby was mobbed (and I got in trouble with an usher for typing on my PDA -- not because it is never allowed in the lobby which it usually is, but because it was YOM TOV when apparently the appropriate thing to do is what the women smushed in behind me were doing, namely insulting other women's dresses). I so do not connect to the Abraham and Isaac story -- can never decide who comes off worse, Abraham or God -- and although the sermon at the family service is always a story enacted by all the rabbis and cantors who are entertaining hams, it's all kind of distant...could be a public television Rosh Hashanah special.

However, I did have a very nice brunch with my parents who apparently have decided to drop the subject of where we should all go on vacation for my mother's birthday next spring...apparently my mother and father have somewhat different ideas about what she would like. (Father: *names Caribbean resort* Mother: *looks at him quizzically*) Heh. So instead we talked about the Boston Legal season premiere, new construction in Bethesda which has resulted in the closing of the excellent card store where we used to go kill time between brunch and services, and the truly superior food of the Original Pancake House, which was very crowded between the holiday and weekend crowds but where I had my once-a-year eggs benedict with turkey sausage and the kids had chocolate chip pancakes and apple cinnamon waffles respectively while husband had a veggie omelette and parents had crepes. Good food is a spiritual experience for me...I wish the same could be said for exercise, which only does anything for me when it's hiking the Blue Ridge or swimming in the Atlantic!

The icon is the fault of , who declared, "Sheppard is totally sleeping with everyone in the whole entire City. He's like the Aragorn of Atlantis." Which made me laugh for a good two minutes. Am somewhat traumatized about the four-legged chicken -- how close is Somerset to Three Mile Island? Am posting early because we are going, weather permitting, to the Maryland Renaissance Festival -- whee! , I will be looking for you! And Brotherhood season finale -- waah, but also yay!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Louise Fletcher Appreciation Page Update

New photos on the film festival page from the 10th Annual Palm Beach International Film Festival.

Poem for Saturday

Next Year
By Ehud Manor
Translated by Uri Cohen

Next year we will sit on the porch
And count the migrating birds.
Children on vacation will play catch
Between the house and the fields.
You will see, you will see
How good it will be
Next year.

Red grapes will ripen till the evening
And will be served chilled to the table.
Languid winds will carry to the crossroads
Old newspapers and a cloud.
You will see, you will see
How good it will be
Next year.

Next year we will spread out our hands
Towards the radiant light.
A white heron like a light will spread her wings
And within them the sun will rise.
You will see, you will see
How good it will be
Next year.


A couple of people asked about the music to which I set my son's Bar Mitzvah slide show -- that was a piano arrangement by Jon Simon, but the song is actually by Nurit Hirsch and it has lyrics. Here is a transliteration of the Hebrew. The last two lines of each verse repeat.

Bashana Haba'a
By Ehud Manor

Bashana haba'a neysheyv al hamirpeset
V'nispor tziporim nodedot
Yeladim bachufsha y'sachaku tofeset
Beyn habayit l'veyn hasadot
Od tireh, od tireh kama tov yih'yeh
Bashana, bashana haba'a

Anavim adumim yavshilu ad ha'erev
V'yugshu tzonenim lashulchan
V'ruchot r'dumim, yis'u al em haderech
Itonim y'shanim b'anan
Od tireh, od tireh kama tov yih'yeh
Bashana, bashana haba'a

Bashana haba'a nifros kapot yadayim
Mul ha’or hanigar halavan,
Anafa levana tifros ba'or k'nafayim
V'hashemesh tizrach b'tochan
Od tireh, od tireh kama tov yih'yeh
Bashana, bashana haba'a


Happy New Year, Happy Mabon and Happy Equinox, depending on your faith. I had a quiet day writing a review of "Day of the Dove" and the site columns, folding the laundry that didn't get finished yesterday and filling out a bunch of assorted forms that had to be taken care of. In the evening we had dinner at my parents' with old friends of theirs and their children and one grandchild; my younger son and the grandchild spent much of the evening down the basement picking out tunes on the piano, and I chatted with the oldest son (not married, though he and I were briefly "engaged" when we were children -- at least in my mind, since we carpooled to nursery school together) and ate lots of matzoh balls, gefilte fish, carrot souffle, latkes and too much else to list without embarrassment. Guess what the first thing my father said to me was, after hello? "Your sister can come on vacation with us next spring break! But you're going to England?" Graaaar, haven't we been THROUGH this already?

So, yeah, not precisely the most relaxing opening to the new year, and then we also got snapped at for not wanting to get to synagogue an entire hour early like we did last year, which requires standing around with very bored kids in a ridiculously crowded lobby which always leaves me swearing that I'll convert before I return to this synagogue. Sorry, Dad, but you are driving by yourself if you want to be there a freakin' hour early. (The plan is always that we go out to brunch together before services, which should be nice as there is a very good pancake house between our homes and shul, but not so much when father is already pacing two full hours before services start.) Man, I hate complaining about my parents this much but it feels like it's been endless, like I got no break after the Bar Mitzvah! We missed the new Meerkat Manor but watched several of the reruns, and I don't think younger son actually knew the difference. *g*

: Just the facts, ma'am
1. Where were you last night?
At home, watching Pride and Prejudice and doing stuff on the computer.
2. Did you speak with anyone? My husband, both my children and .
3. What were you wearing? A long sleeve tie-dye t-shirt and sweatpants.
4. What did you eat or drink? Chocolate fondue (chocolate left over from chocolate fountain at son's Bar Mitzvah) and tea.
5. Can anyone verify your whereabouts from midnight to 5am? I was in bed with my husband the entire time!

: Can be blamed completely on your friendly moderator's growly stomach
1. Given a choice, and imagining that money and time were no object, would you rather cook dinner, eat out or order in?
Eat out at someplace excellent but not a long schlep away.
2. What is the most elaborate meal you've ever prepared yourself or purchased at a restaurant? At my grandmother's 80th birthday party at an excellent restaurant in Chinatown at the intersection of Wall Street and The Bowery, we had course after course of dim sum. And on my honeymoon we had a fabulous meal at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. But I don't remember the details of either!
3. What food do you find yourself making and/or eating way too much? Anything involving chocolate and cheese.
4. What was your most disastrous cooking/eating out experience? Every time I have tried to cook anything that involved a stovetop it was a disaster. Eating out was probably the time a waiter spilled hot crab soup all over my younger son.
5. Would you rather cook for someone else or have them cook for you? Oh, VERY much the latter, unless the someone else likes macaroni and cheese out of the box, microwaved chicken nuggets, instant soup, etc.

: What are your five favorite action/fight scenes?
1. Kirk vs. Spock with the Lirpa
in "Amok Time" -- Star Trek
2. Battle of the Cross-Dressed Pillar-Climbing Concubines -- Mulan
3. Maximus vs. Commodus -- Gladiator
4. The Giant Hamster Wheel of Doom -- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
5. Hans Gruber vs. John McClane on the 31st floor of the Nakatomi Building -- Die Hard

totally made my evening with this Washington Post article, "Bosom Buddies, Redefined: On 'Boston Legal,' Denny & Alan Go Straight to the Heart of Male Bonding" which in addition to calling them "the best love story on television" and "the best example of postmodern, heterosexual man-love" compares Denny and Alan to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin! And Vorenus and Pullo from Rome! It's supposed to appear in the Sunday paper, so I will have an actual print copy and am hoping for illustrations (pink flamingos or at least facial masques at the spa -- I swiped the Shatner-cover Cigar Aficionado from the Marriott last weekend because the flamingo photo was in there as well as lots of Kirk and Spock!) In the late evening, in a fit of insanity, we watched Stargate Atlantis, the first of a two-parter whose backstory we know next to nothing about, which did not prevent us from enjoying it greatly because among the guest stars were Richard Dean Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Picardo, Beau Bridges and a woman we know we recognize but cannot figure out from where -- the one playing the Ancient. I know I'm supposed to be all about the McShep love, but I still find that Weir gets most of my attention, closely followed by Ronon. *g*

This is one of my favorite pieces of Israeli art...the cloud and Moses' cloak are made entirely of Hebrew letters, the story of the exodus from Egypt. The artist, Leon Azoulay, has created serigraphs containing the entirety of the Five Books of Moses in similar form, plus the Books of Psalms, Ruth, Esther and others.

I love the idea that letters are sacred, or, to quote Richard Zimler from The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, "Books are created from holy letters, just as angels are. An angel is nothing but a book given heavenly form." There, now I feel more spiritual. Besides, it is past the equinox now, and is a beautiful cool night and we have harvest candles burning and George Winston's Autumn on the stereo. Sometimes it doesn't take much.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Get Critical Update

TV Review: Star Trek's "Day of the Dove"

Poem for Friday

Giant Fungus
By Charles Harper Webb

     40-acre growth found in Michigan.
      — The Los Angeles Times

The sky is full of ruddy ducks
and widgeons, mockingbirds,
bees, bats, swallowtails,
dragonflies, and great horned owls.

The land below teems with elands
and kit foxes, badgers, aardvarks,
juniper, banana slugs, larch,
cactus, heather, humankind.

Under them, a dome of dirt.
Under that, the World's
Largest Living Thing spreads
like a hemorrhage poised

to paralyze the earth—like a tumor
ready to cause 9.0 convulsions,
or a brain dreaming this world
of crickets and dung beetles,

sculpins, Beethoven, coots,
Caligula, St. Augustine grass, Mister
Lincoln roses, passion fruit, wildebeests,
orioles like sunspots shooting high,

then dropping back to the green
arms of trees, their roots
sunk deep in the power
of things sleeping and unknown.


I didn't want to talk about possibly getting to do it until I had the interview in hand...but I have interviewed Alexander Siddig. *squees in most unprofessional, undignified fangirly manner* He said lovely things about playing an angel in The Nativity, being typecast because he's Muslim and working on 24, but I had been warned to ask about Star Trek as little as possible so I regret that there is no Q&A about Bashir/Garak or Bashir/O'Brien fan fiction. *g* And I should not talk about it too much until I get it written up for TrekToday -- probably Monday, I have to get through Rosh Hashanah this weekend -- but here is one of his more amusing responses:

     Me: I have to ask the inevitable: if J.J. Abrams called you about appearing in the upcoming Star Trek film, either as Bashir or as a new character, would you be interested?
     Sid: Next question please.

And that is my happy news for the day, which was otherwise quite low-key, involving exciting matters such as laundry and attempting to clean younger son's room (hahahahahaha). Trek news was a boring report on Star Trek: Online in which the producers actually said they were making progress -- which immediately triggered a pissed-off letter from a fan wanting to know why we have not covered every posted screencap from Star Trek: Legacy etc., and every interview in which the Mad Doc and Bethesda Softworks guys say the same exact thing nearly word-for-word to each publication. Then I also covered reviews of Shark with Jeri Ryan, which were generally so positive that after sitting through "Day of the Dove" to review Friday (concept intriguing if recycled, execution at times painful though hilarious), I decided to watch the pilot -- I'd been on the fence. I thought Woods was excellent, the girl playing his daughter was very good though she had incredibly hokey dialogue, Ryan was fine though her part was surprisingly small, the first case was a little Boston Legal-ish only more mean-spirited because Woods was prosecuting and they're always defending against obnoxious DAs, and all of the drama could use stronger writing. I will probably watch it next week.

In other entertaining outer space news, Yahoo! says that Mel Brooks is making a Spaceballs TV cartoon, which is an awesome idea though I wonder how dated it will seem, and AOL has a slide show of images from the Steve Irwin tribute. And speaking of AOL, which we have kept at the lowest possible rate so we can use it when we travel places without wireless -- I've used it in the UK and Canada with no problems as well as the middle of nowhere, Idaho -- is giving away Xdrive to members, so I said cool, it would be nice to have an online backup and tried to upload a few dozen MB of data. It crashed about 15 times. Is this typical of Xdrive, or does AOL have a really cheap version of it, or are new AOL users overloading the system, or does it just hate my writing?

Cinnamon is currently playing with the hackey sack that younger son left on the couch -- shoving it a few feet across the floor, pouncing on it, then racing away as if it had attacked her. This is quite amusing. Speaking of whom, it was pointed out to me by my son that I had posted photos of someone else's cat but had not posted photos of my cats recently, so here they are:

Cinnamon in a quilt.

Cinnamon in a laundry basket.

Rosie with one of younger son's stuffed cats.

Rosie smush-faced on a pillow.

Friday evening we are having Rosh Hashanah dinner with a big crowd at my mother's house. Hopefully the kids will not be too fried, as all they want to do is play the pirate stuff AdventureQuest put up this week in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Hope everyone has a lovely equinox, as I am not sure I will post again before it arrives!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Poem for Thursday

Family Reunion
By Jeredith Merrin

The divorced mother and her divorcing
daughter. The about-to-be ex-son-in-law
and the ex-husband's adopted son.
The divorcing daughter's child, who is

the step-nephew of the ex-husband's
adopted son. Everyone cordial:
the ex-husband's second wife
friendly to the first wife, warm

to the divorcing daughter's child's
great-grandmother, who was herself
long ago divorced. Everyone
grown used to the idea of divorce.

Almost everyone has separated
from the landscape of a childhood.
Collections of people in cities
are divorced from clean air and stars.

Toddlers in day care are parted
from working parents, schoolchildren
from the assumption of unbloodied
daylong safety. Old people die apart

from all they've gathered over time,
and in strange beds. Adults
grow estranged from a God
evidently divorced from History;

most are cut off from their own
histories, each of which waits
like a child left at day care.
What if you turned back for a moment

and put your arms around yours?
Yes, you might be late for work;
no, your history doesn't smell sweet
like a toddler's head. But look

at those small round wrists,
that short-legged, comical walk.
Caress your history--who else will?
Promise to come back later.

Pay attention when it asks you
simple questions: Where are we going?
Is it scary? What happened? Can
I have more now? Who is that?


I was awoken absurdly early, again, by jackhammers. Which were still working around 5 p.m. when got home from work. It was loud and annoying enough that I went out to do terribly fun things like buy younger son new pants for Rosh Hashanah since he somehow managed to rip his good dress pants sliding across the floor dancing at the Bar Mitzvah. To my regret, I remembered that the suit was bought at Hechts, and Hechts is now Macy's, and Macy's boys' dress pants are all nearly $40 and don't even match his suit which is a Van Heusen that apparently no one in the local malls carries anymore...having determined that I couldn't match the jacket and pants color exactly, I called my mother and asked whether taupe would go acceptably since not one store had a pair of gray slacks in his size, and she said it would be all right, so son is wearing a blue suit coat, taupe pants and a lighter blue shirt for the High Holy Days and that's that!

After school I did exciting things like taking younger son to violin, then picking up older son and going to pick up the replacement Kirby made by the woman who did our Bar Mitzvah centerpieces that he was heartbroken over when someone walked off with it. This one does not have a stick up its butt back to put in a decoration, but has a hook for the back so we can put it on his wall. Crisis averted. She has a 14-year-old Balinese cat with extremely beautiful blue eyes that younger son loves and asked to visit, so I took photos so he could see her whenever he wanted and hoped our cats would not be jealous. Of course, the beautiful blue eyes suffered from typical animal-eye flash problems:

And speaking of animals, I saved a few of the Steve Irwin tribute articles from this morning's Washington Post for posterity. They are here, here and here though I bet everyone's local paper had some version of these in much of the world today. We watched the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice early this evening on cable and really enjoyed it, though I don't think it's nearly as good as the miniseries; it's not the fault of the actors, all of whom I enjoyed (though I must admit that I suspect no Darcy will live up to Colin Firth's for me). Keira was very good in what was left of her role after all the cuts made to make a two-hour movie, while Donald Sutherland barely had enough screen time to get much sense of Mr. Bennett, and with the exception of Jane, the sisters were largely forgettable -- I wasn't even sure whether the girl who played Ada in Bleak House was supposed to be playing Lydia or Kitty until quite a ways into the movie. And Rupert Friend's Wickham was utterly forgettable, looked like an Orlando Bloom wannabe...ah well, I did like Tom Hollander's Collins and Judi Dench as always was wonderful -- I don't think they cut her part much!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Poem for Wednesday

By Wilfred Owen

Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After so many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.

There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There heaved a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping,
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.

And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
From the intruding lead, like ants on track.

Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking
Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High-pillowed on calm pillows of God's making,
Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead,
And these winds' scimitars,
-Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
Of finished fields, and wire-scrags rusty-old,
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold,
Than we who wake, and waking say Alas!


I spent a huge amount of this morning making a photo book for my younger son for Chanukah, full of photos of himself and penguins from our trip. I hadn't really intended to do this all today -- I have a Shutterfly coupon but it's good for a month -- but I was having fun writing captions and playing with layouts and backgrounds and stuff, and now I have a kick-ass penguin book and am contemplating making London and Yorkshire trip books and maybe some big generic cheesy thing for my parents. I have no patience for actual scrapbooking -- cutting and gluing and not being able to change my mind later doesn't really make me happy -- but I love doing electronic calendars and books and stuff.

Other than that, my afternoon was occupied by kids' homework, lecturing younger son's difficult best friend for writing his name in the newly-finished wet cement of the sidewalk in front of our house (was woken at some ridiculous hour by jackhammering to get old cement out) and writing some Star Trek news. Hey, locals: Broadcasting & Cable says we are getting the remastered Star Trek on WDCA (formerly UPN 20) which will air it Sundays at 2 p.m. -- DC was the last major market to be signed both in the top 10 and in the top 50. And very rich people can buy Gene Roddenberry's birthplace in El Paso or James Doohan's last house in the Seattle suburbs. Also, MooreRon fans: Mr. Galactica wrote an editorial on what Star Trek has meant to him ($$$$$$ oh yeah and ideology) in yesterday's New York Times.

Tonight's clouds post-sunset from in front of my house.

In the evening, after we had Ledo's Pizza for dinner because younger son's school was doing a fundraiser there, I spent far too much time in front of the TV. Into Thin Air was on, and I'd never watched it because I loved the book and it got such bad reviews, but there are people in the cast I like and I was kind of in a real-life disaster movie mood, if such a thing is possible. This actually played more like a horror movie, though, except in a horror movie, while you can make educated guesses about who is going to die based on how they act, you can't really know; in Into Thin Air I could name every person who was going to die, and even though I knew it was a dramatization and the actors were not the real people, it was still hard to watch. Not all that badly done -- Boukreev wasn't as much a villain as Krakauer made him in the book, and Fisher was a real hot dog, and Hall compromised his principles and paid dearly. I was sorry Ed Viesturs and the rescue of Beck Weathers wasn't included, because that's my favorite part of stories about those weeks on Everest, but maybe the producers figured that even people who hadn't read Into Thin Air would know about that from the Everest IMAX.

Well, then we watched the Steve Irwin tribute. I cried through the half of it when I wasn't laughing, because it was so warm and funny and Irwin was so unpretentious and willing to laugh at himself. There were a lot of people I utterly adored seeing -- Russell Crowe, David Wenham, Hugh Jackman, even Kevin Costner for whom I have a sad weakness -- and my kids liked The Wiggles guy. Irwin's father and best friend were heartbreaking. It was kind of shocking to see his daughter so upbeat, particularly since Terri didn't really participate; I keep wondering whether that kid is going to come to resent this world she's inheriting at such a young age after having her father taken from her. Despite being devastating the tribute was really positive, shamelessly cheesy with the flowers spelling "Crikey" and seemed very appropriately Steve Irwin to me. My kids were fairly chatty through the whole thing and I thought they were dealing with it at the sort of distance I generally feel when a celebrity dies, then younger son put his blanket over his head and cried inconsolably for several minutes at the end. I probably would have cried longer had Boston Legal's season premiere not been on immediately afterward, and who can cry when Jerry Espinson is being arrested for having a sex doll in his passenger seat in the carpool lane and attacks the police when they impound it?

I am still pretty uncomfortable with the whole host of social dysfunctionalities being attributed to Jerry as a result of Asperger's; his intimacy issues are a whole different kettle of fish, it isn't that he has tactile issues related to sensory integration disorder or some of the things that sometimes go along with autism. And, I mean, Alan has some similar issues, though they manifest in him having mindless sex with Marlene in a closet instead of being a middle-aged virgin. I am so relieved that Marlene is gone and Denise is back, I really thought at the end of last season that they might be setting up to have Marlene as the new shallow bitch and sending Denise off to marry Daniel! Though I am really relieved that that is not happening even with her remaining on the show, and I must admit that my favorite scene of the entire episode was when Brad went storming into her office miserable that she was collecting friends with benefits and marriage proposals at the same time, and Denise says, "I'm in love with a man who is dying, lucky lucky me...I don't want to love him but I do." She clearly doesn't like hurting Brad, and Brad is clearly hurting, and I want them to have consolation sex as soon as possible. Onscreen.

Shirley really has Daniel's number, though she defends him well anyway, and really Denise does too (I loved Shirley's line to the guy whose lung Daniel is trying to buy when he says he made it through the angry stages of grief to acceptance, and Shirley says the final stage is profiteering!) Meanwhile Alan is confessing his discomfort with Jerry's affair with a sex doll (when Alan says Jerry calls his doll "her" and treats it as a loved one, Jerry says Alan has just described every man's relationship with his car) and Denny confesses that he, too, has a doll...Shirley Schmidthole! "Here's the thing about rich people, Alan, we get whatever we want," announces Denny. Which as far as he's concerned should include droit de seigneur where Denise and her wedding are concerned. Daniel is asked in court whether rich folk play by different rules; he says "Same rules, more toys." The prosecution claims Daniel is trying not to play by the rules, and by compromising the fairness of the distribution of organs, he may make people less likely to become organ donors. Shirley counters that if we can sell our bodies for medical experiments or our eggs for infertility, why can't we trade in kidneys and lungs the way firefighters and police do for one another?

Meanwhile Alan gets Jerry to see his former sex therapist Joanna, who tells Jerry that his non-consummation with the doll just indicates that he wants intimacy more than sex. She suggests a session where they just lie in bed naked together and offers to hold him, but the cops burst in and arrest them. Alan's secretary goes to find Alan, assuming he's in the closet fucking Marlene, but when she opens the door she finds Denny with his Shirley doll! It doesn't take much for Alan to convince a judge (Armin Shimerman! who sadly is not in any scenes with Rene Auberjonois) that in a society that spends billions of dollars on sexual dysfunction pharmaceuticals, Jerry wasn't doing anything illegal, but when Alan tells Denny he feels so badly he got Jerry and Joanna both involved in a case that will probably make the evening news, Shirley comes storming in to ask Denny whether he really has a doll in her likeness. Denny insists that she should be flattered, "to be a sexual prop is every woman's dream." Upon seeing the doll, who is wearing the same outfit Shirley happens to be wearing that day in the office, Shirley says she feels degraded and humiliated. Denny, who declares innocently that he's just objectifying her for pleasure, asks if she's jealous of the doll.

During the cigar session at the end, Alan confesses to Denny that his mother wasn't a particularly doting woman but every fall before the school year began, she measured him for his pants hems with her hands on his leg and inseam. "You had a thing for your mother!" says Denny. Alan insists that it wasn't sexual, but her touch was loving and not only is this why he buys so many suits, he thinks it is indicative that he is starved for a little tenderness. Denny says, "Let me take you fishing again." God I love that -- not that it makes up for his revolting sexually harrassing misogynistic behavior, but both Shirley and Denise can wipe the floor with Denny so easily that I can't get offended on their behalf when they can't be arsed to get really offended themselves. But it ends on a rather somber note, Alan asking Denny if he ever gets lonely, Denny trying to duck the question, then lying and saying, no, you? And Alan says no as well, "guess we're both lucky that way." But Alan isn't smiling and there's none of the "we have each other" dialogue that usually occurs at such a moment. He could have gone over and snuggled Denny -- Denny wouldn't have minded, really!

I know I haven't been around on chat much. Having had enough wank of my own, am hiding from other people's wank. Much easier that way. Will try to get my shit back together soon.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Brief TV Squee

The Hollywood Reporter says that Showtime has picked up Brotherhood for a ten-episode second season. Whoo, even before they have DVD sales factored in! Now I just have to hope all the characters I like survive the season finale! *hopes for Michael*

ETA: Whoo again! "[Series creator Blake] Masters did say that all the main characters from this season will return for season two." --The Providence Journal

And on a less happy note, Steve Irwin's memorial service is on Animal Planet commercial-free at 9 p.m. EST.

Er, shiver me timbers! I am Navigatin' Glynnis Morgan according to that pirate name thing everyone is doing!

Poem for Tuesday

The Trailer Park
By Anne Simpson


Near the bridge in the trailer park,
a man sets up a tent, fumbling in the dark.
A woman unrolls the sleeping bag. They unzip,
shed themselves - a loosening shrug -
step inside each other. Breath:
fingering: blind:
quick. Body shudders,
stuns with its liquid, its cool -

they step back out. It's very still.
Breath after breath. One thing
draws another. Gently, so gently,
he puts his head against her ribs,
opening a shutter in her skin to look
inside: cathedrals of space, wandering
planets, aisle upon aisle
of stars. She summons all that's there.


Spent a quiet morning putting pages into my Book of Shadows, since my horoscope said I would have a spiritually rewarding day, and it was -- I decided it was silly to try to keep all the Jewitchery at the back instead of integrated among the Pagan stuff (some of which is Wiccan, some of which is not) so now it's much more reflective of how I do stuff and is a lot more useful for looking things up, like I will need to do in December since I volunteered to write the ritual for Yule (the light-centered holidays of midwinter being common to so many cultures that it's very easy to think of Yule and Chanukah jointly, whereas Samhain is harder to connect to mainstream Jewish tradition as I grew up with it).

As I predicted, the pavers did start bright and early and I was afraid to move the car from the spot I had on the street lest I should lose it, but as the day went on it became apparent that parking was not going to be a big crisis so we all went out when younger son had soccer practice (to Rite Aid, big excitement, but I found my drugstore Halloween Barbie so I am pleased). Trek news was a week-old interview with Majel Roddenberry about the meaning of Trek and a report on convention virgins including Mariette Hartley and Andrea Martin, plus some bullets, plus lots of e-mail about the latest flame war among webmasters which I am trying SO hard to stay out of but there's no way to be friendly to people who don't like each other without ALL of them assuming you're on someone's side other that their own, it seems!

Watched Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, enjoyed it for what it was -- as a longtime Saturday Night Live fan and West Wing fan, there were lots of moments that resonated with me...I really enjoyed the Network references, the cracks at network pandering to the FCC, the (sur)realism of Felicity Huffman playing herself and complaining about the bad parody of Desperate Housewives she was supposed to participate in, and the moments of slashiness between Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry. But I loathed the way both major female characters were written -- I like Amanda Peet, but the attempted balance of brilliant executive and Really I'm A Nice Person just wasn't working, and Sarah Paulson's character who has to get Jesus into every sentence but insists she's Not One Of Those Christians just made me cringe. We'll see how it is next week, I guess!

I forgot Heroes was on tonight so I missed the premiere -- was it good? Should I watch it on Yahoo, which has the entire episode for free? Monday Night Football was very slooow and we discovered that the episode of Futurama with most of the original Star Trek cast was on, so we watched that...I'd never seen it before and it was hilarious! Shatner and Nimoy all sniffly saying goodbye, even as heads! Nichols doing the Xena flip and cry! Two dozen jokes about episodes, my favorite being that the evil alien is another Trelane, except he's 34 and still living in his parents' basement! Hee!

I don't know what kind of anemone this is, as I failed to note the label on the tank at Congressional Aquarium. Waah!

Eel and a colorful fish emerging from an underwater "treasure chest." I like that the living creatures are so much more colorful than the treasure.

And another eel hiding among coral. I love how sneaky Slytherin they look.

Oh yeah, happy Talk Like A Pirate Day! Arrr!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Poem for Monday

To Demeter
By Maybury Fleming

Thou ever young! Persephone but gazes
  Upon thy face, and shows thee back thine own;
And every flock that on thy hillsides grazes,
  And every breeze from thy fair rivers blown,
  And all the nestlings from thy branches flown,
    Are eloquent in thy praises,
      Demeter, mother of truth.

Thy seasons of grief, thy winters white with snowing,
  More lovely make thy face, adorn thy head,
Add beauty to thy sweet eyes, ever glowing
  With love and strength and godhead; and thy tread
  Sweetens the earth; and all the gods are dead
    But thee,—thee only, strowing
      Ever the land with youth.

And all the dead gods are in thee united,
  Woman and girl and lover and friend and queen;
And this tame, time-worn world is full requited
  For that the Christ has cost us, and the teen
  Bred of swift time. And thy kissed palms between—
    Thy dear kissed hands—are righted
      The heart-knot and the ruth.


Ironically enough, after I babbled yesterday about Gl├╝ck's Persephone poem, we talked about her and Demeter at our Mabon ritual today, which was mostly about turning focus from the light to the dark and from the growth of summer to the harvest, though we also did a long house-blessing which required walking twice through every room in a three-story home chanting to drive out old vibes (spirits, impressions, whatever it is you believe lasts in houses after a set of owners leave) and charge it with positive energy, and that felt more like a spring cleaning than a settling in for winter. It was a long ritual, and while I was hoping to feel focused by trying to send energy to someone else and more connected spiritually than I am feeling at present about the various Jewish rituals of this season -- between rehearsals, our Bar Mitzvah, our friends' Bar Mitzvah and Rosh Hashanah next weekend, it'll be the most time I've spent in a synagogue in a month in my entire life -- I think I'm just plain ceremonied out, and need to lock myself in a room and light a candle on the actual equinox and just clear my head.

My parents took the kids to the pool, since it's the last weekend it was open for the season, and when I got back we had a quick dinner with them. Older son had had a meltdown upon discovering that his best friend already had plans for the day -- I think he's somewhat let down after last weekend and I know both kids are overtired from being up so late last night. We watched bits of the Redskins game, interrupted by me to watch Brotherhood, which was superb, if's so sad that for a show about a family whose very name is about the notion of family bonds, there are all these characters who think they're alone. I was actually kind of liking and feeling sorry for Tommy for much of this episode until he went and behaved like a total asshole at the end -- when he needs a thug, he calls Michael and lets Michael do what is necessary, no questions asked, but the moment he decides he doesn't need Michael anymore he says he wishes Michael had never come back. Who would have bailed out Rose if Michael hadn't been there, huh, Tommy?

And then there's Rose, who's impossible to feel sorry for when it's so apparent that what their father was hinting at was probably true, no matter how much of a bastard we're supposed to think he is for beating his current girlfriend: Rose was fucking the man who pulls the city's political strings, which is probably half of why Tommy is where he is (even though he was never her favorite son). I suppose it's not really Tommy's fault if he's corrupt -- with absolutely everyone around you corrupt it's hard to see how he could have gotten anywhere honestly -- it's the self-righteousness that's so hard to take. Whereas Michael, who makes me want to beat him senseless (sentencing 14-year-olds to death! throwing competitors off rooftops and driving Pete to drink by making him play assassin!) is also heartbreaking pulling a gun on Pete and crying because he doesn't want to shoot him, and taking crap from both his mother and his brother whose asses he has just pulled out of the fire by shoving his father -- the one family member who isn't ashamed of what Michael is -- out of all their lives.

We've been recording the episodes as Showtime airs them, and to my surprise they're advertising "season finale" rather than "series finale" for next week -- I had thought they'd only intended one season (and it makes me nervous, because I bet Jason Isaacs is a lot harder to lure back than any of the others given how much else he has going on in his career, so if they kill off a major character next week, Michael would seem to be the most likely candidate, which would upset me so much!) So do I buy the official DVDs when they come out next week, or do I assume that other than the podcasts and extras I've already downloaded from the web site, I already have whatever will be in the three-disc package already? I am torn!

Chocolate chip starfish. I thought Congressional Aquarium must have made up that name until I looked it up.

Ghost catfish. (I am not making up these names either! Look!)

I did not write down the name of this one but I assume it's a spider crab of some sort.

Maybe I will feel more soulful tomorrow, as my horoscope says: Today is bound to be quite the interesting day, as your blood is boiling with passion and your soul is brimming with spirituality. This means that any romantic encounter you have today is likely to be intense, to say the least. In fact, all events of the day are tinged with a sacred overlay. It's hard to take anything at face value, as every event seems significant in some way. This makes for an interesting, but rather intense, day. We have had to park our vehicles some distance from the house as they are repaving our cul-de-sac, meaning I will probably be awoken at some outrageously early hour (they said 6 a.m.) by the trucks, and this may go on all week, and I am afraid to drive anywhere for fear of having trouble parking when I get back!