Friday, August 31, 2007

Get Critical Update

TV Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Symbiosis"

Poem for Friday

Great Sleeps I Have Known
By Robin Becker

Once in a cradle in Norway folded
like Odin's eight-legged horse Sleipnir
as a ship in full sail transported the dead to Valhalla

Once on a mountain in Taos after making love
in my thirties the decade of turquoise and silver

After your brother walked into the Atlantic
to scatter your mothers ashes his khakis soaked
to the knees his shirtsleeves blowing

At the top of the cottage in a thunderstorm
once or twice each summer covetous of my solitude

Immediately following lunch
against circadian rhythms, once
in a bunk bed in a dormitory in the White Mountains

Once in a hollow tree in Wyoming
A snow squall blew in the guide said tie up your horses

The last night in the Katmandu guest house
where I saw a bird fly from a monk's mouth
a consolidated sleep of East and West

Once on a horsehair mattress two feet thick
I woke up singing
as in the apocryphal story of my birth
at Temple University Hospital

On the mesa with the burrowing owls
on the mesa with the prairie dogs

Willing to be lucky
I ran the perimeter road in my sleep
entrained to the cycles of light and dark
Sometimes my dead sister visited my dreams

Once on the beach in New Jersey
after the turtles deposited their eggs
before my parents grew old, nocturnal


I had a really good lunch with at La Madeleine -- half a turkey sandwich on croissant, pasta salad, a cup of tomato bisque soup, and then she got too full to eat her chocolate cream puff so in the interests of being a good friend and preventing wastefulness I very graciously agreed to eat it for her. *g* It's hard for a day to improve after that, but we walked down to Toys R Us (no Titanic Barbie, sadly) and then went to look for book covers for our kids at A.C. Moore, where the Spookytown line of Halloween decorations are on sale this week, and I had to have the witches at the stone circle! I really need to put up shelves for my Halloween decorations; right now they get displayed on the countertop in the downstairs bathroom, which is silly.

Trek news was confirmation that Anton Yelchin will play Chekov, which is very cool as far as I'm concerned because he's the son of champion Soviet ice skaters who were denied a spot on the 1972 Olympic team because they're Jewish, so they emigrated to the US and he grew up here. Almost as cool, a rumor that Zoe Saldana aka Anamaria from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl may play Uhura, which would be awesome assuming they gave her more to do than open hailing frequencies. Apparently there's a rumor going around that the plot is a sort of variation on Della Van Hise's Killing Time (regrettably without all the K/S) in which adult Spock, played by Nimoy, must try to stop the Romulans from changing history by protecting young Kirk -- this would mean Nimoy had a big role in the movie, which I favor, but also means they could completely reboot canon, which I am not in favor of at all. So hopefully this is mostly incorrect.

This is usually Rosie's favorite position in which to spend the evening.

Unless there is something very exciting going on upstairs like laundry being folded, in which case she occasionally deigns to share the bed with Cinnamon.

But when she sees a katydid out the back window at night...

...or a cicada out the front window during the day... is necessary to sit by the window and glare and occasionally try to attack the glass.

I know I have already linked to one Onion article in the past week, and I very nearly linked to the one about the director who was, shockingly, staging The Merchant of Venice in Renaissance Italy, but this one, though old, made me howl so much that I have to share: "New Oliver Stone 9/11 Film Introduces 'Single Plane' Theory". Because sometimes you have to laugh so you don't cry, you know?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poem for Thursday

Preludes for Prepared Piano 3: Sonnet for Hank Cinq
By Estill Pollack

Falstaff to London—in a public street, the King tells him
never come within ten miles of me again.

Back in his lodgings, a blue glass lamp near the window—
when he came back, the light was on the floor,
the heavy glass lampshade shattered,
higher order objects distributed, but the light still glowing.

Another part of the field, mort de ma vie, all is confounded,
all our ranks broke. God let him live to see his greatness fail,
to teach others how they should prepare.

When swing was king, dreamsville galactic all night jam,
Hercules tattoo, hello kitty sound check…

English archers pouring arrows into
a number of recurring metaphors, irresponsible
wanton, transform.


Though I am always a bit sorry when summer vacation ends and the days start to get noticeably shorter, I am never sorry about the approach of autumn -- my favorite season -- and Halloween, my favorite holiday. (I like Purim a lot too, and it has a lot of similarities, but it's not like all my neighbors are celebrating it and there is something so much fun about so many people putting up Samhain decorations.) So I was having lunch at Lebanese Taverna with , and we discovered that in the empty Tower Records store, a Halloween Adventure place has opened, so of course I had to visit.

Big inflatable lawn decorations at Halloween Adventure.

Wouldn't you love to have one of these in your doorway?

Part of the inevitable Star Wars costume display.


...and masks...

...and pirate wench costumes!

Plus more pirate paraphernalia, cutlasses, hooks, eye patches and all the rest.

Wrote three relatively redundant TrekToday articles (more on "World Enough and Time," more on Zachary Quinto that's pretty much exactly the same article from two days earlier, more on Shatner being bummed about Trek XI) and the rest of my day was concerned with kids and animals. First Adam was looking at animal conservation web sites and I discovered that the Monterey Bay Aquarium now has a white shark being rehabilitated after being caught in a fishing net...I wish I could see it! Plus we watched two PBS shows, Masters of the Arctic Ice -- in which the researchers studied polar bears and put a crittercam on a seal and a narwhal to see how they survive under the polar ice -- and Emperors of the Ice, about penguins. The crittercam was put on a penguin named Rodney, named after Rodney Dangerfield, and apparently he got no respect because they put the crittercam on him and he looked quite aggrieved. But the show ended unhappily, with hundreds of penguins dead from an iceberg collision, so Adam was upset.

tagged me for the meme where you list seven things about yourself: List seven habits/quirks/facts about yourself. Tag seven people to do the same.

1. I have seen every episode of every Star Trek series, and until they became intolerably awful, I had read every one of Bantam, Ballantine and Pocket's Star Trek books.
2. I love salty stick pretzels with slightly burnt ends.
3. Before I had cats, I had parakeets.
4. I won a Jaws 3-D towel in a magazine contest that I later ruined in an incident involving chocolate mousse.
5. The only full sentence I can say in Yiddish is an insult involving bad words that my father's father taught me.
6. I can sing the entire score of Evita. Well, I know all the words, at least -- I would never claim that I can actually sing anything.
7. I have a huge collection of eraser animals. (Also Star Trek action figures, Barbie dolls, Tarot decks and many other things that have been well documented here already.)

I tag, hmm, I have no hope of remembering who already did this. Or whose journal is where these days. Who will forgive me for putting upon them? Umm, , , , , , , ?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Poem for Wednesday

Good News
By Linda Gregerson

The hobbled, the halt, the hasten-to-blame-it-on-
    crowd, the undermined and over-

their-heads, the hapless,
    the humbugs,
    the hassle-me-nots. The night

before the night my uncle Jens
    saw Jesus
    standing in the hayloft, he -

my uncle Jens, that is - considered
    cashing the whole
    thing in. Bettina gone

the way she had, the boys all gone
    to hell . . .
    The mild flat light of evening lay

like a balm on the fields. But for his heart
    no balm
    in sight. So Jens

gave all his money to the local charis-
    and in exchange his fellow faithful told him

to forgive himself. God's god-
    forsaken children
    all over the suburbs and the country-

side are dying in the service
    of a market
    share. Witness

the redhead I used to go to college with,
    who played
    the trombone and studied Kant and now

performs the laying on of hands somewhere
    in eastern
    Tennessee. Beneath her touch

quenched sight returns, the myelin sheath
    and lets the wheelchair rust, the cancerous

cat comes purring back to health.
    But Jens,
    whose otherworldliness imperfectly

cohered, took to driving his pickup
    off the road,
    in desultory fashion for the most part,

so that cousin Ollie's cornfield took
    the brunt
    of harm. The hens

ran loose. And Jens, who in his mother's arms
    had leapt
    for joy and in tow-headed youth had leapt
to favor in each tender heart, went weary
    to salvation.

Having learned from a well-meaning neighbor
    that death
    will not have her if Jesus

does first, my three-year-old daughter
    is scouring
    the visible world for a sign.

The other she's found in abundance -
    death on her
    dinnerplate, death in the grass -

and drawing just conclusions is beside herself
    with fear.
    "Most Englishmen,"

the Archbishop said smoothly, "are still residual
    We still need a clergy for funerals."

The televangelist's plexiglass pulpit,
    the crystal veil
    of his tears, assure us the soul is

transparent too. No stone can break
    nor scandal mar
    the radiant flow of video con-

version. Close now, closer
    than audio
    enhancement, the frictionless

story that washes us clean.
    Words dis-
    encumbered of contingency,

of history, of doubt. God's
    they swore, the old ones,

the believers, as now we swear by sex or shit.
    God's wounds,
    which failures of attention made.


I had kind of a lazy day. Was supposed to have lunch with , but we both agreed a bit before noon that we were too disorganized and postponed. Ran out to CVS and the Hallmark store to get birthday cards and other necessities (being Jewish, I certainly did not buy the Cauldron Trouble Ornament, I mean, I would never have a tree and I stopped collecting the Star Trek ornaments and oh look isn't that cute hanging over my computer?). Wrote an article on Kate Mulgrew's rave reviews in Iphigenia 2.0 which I would love to see and might even try to get up to New York to see if it was anyone other than, you know, Kate Mulgrew. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I got to write up a fun interview with Jonathan Frakes, who is always so lovely and unpretentious in interviews, and who is now living in Maine and teaching college film and is just very high on my "celebrities with their priorities straight" list.

My really fun article today was reviewing the Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough and Time" -- I can't link to the episode because the web site is currently having big problems, but they had sent me a review copy on DVD and the first amazing thing about it is that on DVD, this episode looks more professional than 3/4 of professional Star Trek. Whoever has been doing the crappy special effects for the Trek video games should hire this team. On top of that, it's a well-told story, absolute classic original Trek (derivative of several episodes but who cares, so were a lot of TNG and Voyager), with a lovely performance by George Takei and surprisingly good camera work including an overhead shot of the bridge. My kids, who quite often got bored particularly with the original series' third season, watched the entire thing quite enthusiastically. I'm really impressed.

The lighthouse of historic Lewes, Delaware...

...and the replica of it as one drives into the town (taken through the windshield, sorry about the blur).

Here is the long view of the horizon with the lighthouse along with a World War II defense tower, taken from the top of another tower.

And here is the Kalmar Nyckel berthed at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal Dock.

Summer vacation is over! I'm entitled to beach nostalgia. *g*

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Poem for Tuesday

In Time of 'The Breaking of Nations'
By Thomas Hardy


Only a man harrowing clods
  In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
  Half asleep as they stalk.


Only thin smoke without flame
  From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
  Though Dynasties pass.


Yonder a maid and her wight
  Come whispering by:
War's annals will cloud into night
  Ere their story die.


Another from Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, in which Robert Pinsky seeks a poet in English with a "melding of folk elements and formal sophistication, brooding fatalism and urbane consciousness" and chooses this 1915 poem. "A long perspective in time, but with vocal immediacy" -- that combination seems to characterize Hardy for Pinsky.

Am paying now for staying up so late last night, as I can barely keep my eyes open after my early-morning wake-up when the kids left to go back to school! They both came home in good moods; older son's best friend, who went to a different middle school, is now in the magnet high school with him so they get to ride the bus together, while younger son's fifth grade teacher finished her M.A. over the summer and is now teaching middle school -- she is his reading teacher, meaning he has her first period every day, which makes him quite happy. So that was good, and Alberto Gonzales putting America out of its collective misery (at least until Bush appoints some other corrupt crony) was also good.

The cats, however, had a difficult day, starting the evening before, when they discovered a pair of katydids in a mating dance on the kitchen window and spent half the night chittering and trying to bat at them, to no avail. Worse, the downstairs toilet died over the weekend and the plumber had to be summoned. The good news for me and the cats here is that the plumber is Irish, funny, a good samaritan (spent the past two weekends doing walking/biking events to raise money for MS) and a friend to cats (he currently has three unexpected kittens, if anyone in the area is looking!) but the bad news is that the cats were not allowed to drink out of the toilet even though he had both the lid and the tank open and it cost over $100 to rebuild everything in the tank.

In my excitement at seeing the Indigo Girls concert, I forgot to try to take photos of Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

The wooden building is the Filene Center, which burned down in 1982 (this is how DC-area priorities work: it was the same day Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, and guess which got the top headline on The Washington Post?) This is the audience on the lawn from the back of the orchestra.

These are the cookies that 's friend (I believe it was ) brought that just hypnotized me!

And here is a little birdie in the sun.

Gonzales was knocked out from being the top story here by problems with the Metro that kind of freak me out -- I feel safer flying than in underground tunnels -- and I swear Bush was hoping the pundits would be so busy salivating over Michael Vick that we wouldn't notice the Gonzales business anyway. Ah well, I have to be awake for the lunar eclipse Tuesday morning so I hope I get to enjoy it! Meanwhile, what is wrong with Semagic?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Lyrics for Monday

By Emily Saliers

There's a letter on the desktop
That I dug out of a drawer
The last truce we ever came to
In our adolescent war
And I start to feel the fever
From the warm air through the screen
You come regular like seasons
Shadowing my dreams

Well the Mississippi's mighty
But it starts in Minnesota
At a place that you could walk across
With five steps down
And I guess thats how you started
Like a pinprick to my heart
But at this point you rush right through me
And I start to drown

And there's not enough room
In this world for my pain
Signals cross and love gets lost
And time passed makes it plain
Of all my demon spirits
I need you the most
I'm in love with your ghost
I'm in love with your ghost

Dark and dangerous like a secret
That gets whispered in a hush
When I wake the things I dreamt about you
Last night make me blush
When you kiss me like a lover
Then you sting me like a viper
I go follow to the river
Play your memory like the piper

And I feel it like a sickness
How this love is killing me
But I'd walk into the fingers
Of your fire willingly
And dance the edge of sanity
I've never been this close
In love with your ghost

Unknowing captor
You'll never know how much you
Pierce my spirit
But I can't touch you
Can you hear it
A cry to be free
Oh I'm forever under lock and key
As you pass through me

Now I see your face before me
I would launch a thousand ships
To bring your heart back to my island
As the sand beneath me slips
As I burn up in your presence
And I know now how it feels
To be weakened like Achilles
With you always at my heels

This bitter pill I swallow
Is the silence that I keep
It poisons me, I can't swim free
The river is too deep
Though I'm baptized by your touch
I am no worse at most
In love with your ghost
You are shadowing my dreams
In love with your ghost


Very brief update as I had the unexpected delight of being invited by to go see the Indigo Girls at Wolf Trap! They were phenomenal as -- well, I can't say as always, because I haven't seen them in 15 years, but very much as I remember them from several concerts in Chicago from the early 1990s. Girlyman opened for them and they were fantastic too, plus they came on and did several songs with the Indigo Girls who did a bunch from the new album and a bunch from Nomads, Indians, Saints, -- they did "Ghost" and made me cry, then "Hand Me Downs," then "Watershed," then "Chickenman" all in a row! And "Closer To Fine" and "Galileo" at the end. I ran into a bunch of the women from my pagan circle and their families (in their Xena t-shirts, hee)! Am very content and very tired and the kids' first day of school kicks off in five hours and I hope is not nauseated from my singing -- it was the kind of concert where the performers dropped entire verses and had the house lights turned up so the crowd would sing along.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers onstage at Wolf Trap.

Amy is a producer for Girlyman, who opened for them.

They performed together late in the show...

...and a cappella at the start of the encore.

Here are Amy and Emily again at the end.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Poem for Sunday

A Later Day
By Kim Sowol
Translated by David McCann

What father and mother said you know
by heart, how Raising sons or daughters,
means looking forward
to the days to come.

Just so. And clearly,
all were born of two parents.
But my friend, what does this mean?
What will be taught, hands raised,
long from now by a generation
who grew up all together and learned it?
Never mind the days to come,
but raise sons and daughters
with a true heart until you grow old.


From Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World, where Robert Pinsky writes that Sowol, a Korean poet who died at 32 in 1934, "was a modernist influenced by Western poetry -- but a modernist who also incorporated many traditional techniques, images and forms from Korean folk poetry and folk song." This poem, Pinsky adds, "considers explicitly the relation between old ways and new generations...across the gulf between two languages and their cultures, as well as the gulf of many decades, the poem in translation has an engaging, good-humored fatalism. The severe limitations to what can be known or understood seem to be tempered by a modest reliance on the ancient, fundamental ways."

We had planned to go to the Maryland Renaissance Faire this Saturday, but the weather forecast was for a heat index of 105 followed by fierce thunderstorms, so we chickened out. Instead we had a relatively quiet morning involving exciting things like laundry, and then we went to see Hairspray. I adore the original movie with a passion, wrote a short paper on it in grad school, and had only heard the Broadway soundtrack once, so I wasn't positive that I would love the remake -- the musical seemed decent but possibly heavy-handed and it didn't have, you know, Sonny Bono or Debbie Harry or Divine. Well, I am pleased to report that I unconditionally love the remake, with the singular disappointment that there is no real John Travolta/Christopher Walken kissing. I forgive Travolta for Battlefield Earth and everything else -- he's wonderful, he dances and sings and is prettier than Divine in a dress (I really need to show my kids Grease and Grease 2 so they know where Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer came from). Plus Jerry Stiller's in there, just in a different role, and Queen Latifah is fantastic and really quite moving singing "I Know Where I've Been." And Allison Janney is always a delight and the kids are all cute.

But really nothing can top Travolta and Walken in stereotypical Carmen/Matador costumes waxing poetic about their wonderful love life. On the way home, we realized that our kids had never seen the original movie, so we put that on while I folded the last batch of laundry. And I still love it but they're like two different animals, or at least two different generations, and like Star Trek I see no reason to choose between them when I can watch both. I think the storyline in the musical is a tighter but since the events at Tilted Acres are based partly on events at Glen Echo Amusement Park near where I live, I'm sorry to lose that aspect. Even so, you can see the Domino Sugar Factory in the new movie and John Waters has a great cameo.

One of today's thunderstorms hit just as we left the movie theater. We were surprised to see dozens of birds fighting for space on a radio broadcast antenna on top of one of the taller buildings.

I would have thought birds would seek cover or stay away from anything that could conduct electricity!

Wood type: rosewood
Length: 11½ inches
Core: Phoenix Feather

get your own wand!

Rosewood wands are rare because these wands tend to be very picky. A Rosewood wand tends to choose one who has a deep inner peace or spirituality, which considering it excels at Love charms is probably a good thing. Rosewood wands are also good for healing magic as well. The Phoenix Feather comes from the tail feathers of a Phoenix, and is especially good with fire or defensive magic, as well as healing magic. This may be due largely to the healing properties Phoenixes have.

Thunderstorms cut off the Redskins/Ravens game and we're supposed toget more on Sunday. At least we have power! But I have no idea whatwe're doing...not the Faire, again, sadly!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Poem for Saturday

On Mother's Day
By Grace Paley

I went out walking
in the old neighborhood

Look! more trees on the block
forget-me-nots all around them
ivy   lantana shining
and geraniums in the window

Twenty years ago
it was believed that the roots of trees
would insert themselves into gas lines
then fall   poisoned   on houses and children

or tap the city’s water pipes   starved
for nitrogen   obstruct the sewers

In those days in the afternoon I floated
by ferry to Hoboken or Staten Island
then pushed the babies in their carriages
along the river wall   observing Manhattan
See Manhattan I cried   New York!
even at sunset it doesn’t shine
but stands in fire   charcoal to the waist

But this Sunday afternoon on Mother’s Day
I walked west   and came to Hudson Street   tricolored flags
were flying over old oak furniture for sale
brass bedsteads   copper pots and vases
by the pound from India

Suddenly before my eyes   twenty-two transvestites
in joyous parade stuffed pillows under
their lovely gowns
and entered a restaurant
under a sign which said   All Pregnant Mothers Free

I watched them place napkins over their bellies
and accept coffee and zabaglione

I am especially open to sadness and hilarity
since my father died as a child
one week ago in this his ninetieth year


Paley, who is probably better known for her short stories and peace activism than her poetry, died on Wednesday but the obituaries only started appearing this morning, like this one from The Los Angeles Times. The New York Times has one too.

This was the last day of summer vacation for my children, hard as that is to believe! They wanted to spend the morning playing video games, and since starting Monday they will only be allowed to do that on weekends, I figured I would let them. Meanwhile I worked on a review of "The Arsenal of Freedom", which plays better than its plot deserves thanks to the actors. Between getting people breakfast and lunch and doing laundry, I still wasn't finished when my father came to pick the kids up to take to the pool, so I finished that and wrote Site Columns and checked out the Star Trek: New Voyages episode "World Enough and Time" which on first glance looks fantastic. I must admit I was looking forward to this more than I am looking forward to Abrams' Star Trek, sadly enough.

Had dinner with my parents, who are going to the beach with my sister and her family in New Jersey next week...naturally, they decided to take their trip the week my kids went back to school, heh. Came home, watched Doctor Who's "Human Nature" which rocks like a rocking thing and I just hope the conclusion lives up to the first half of this two-parter. Half-watched Flash Gordon, which younger son has lots of female characters who all sort of look alike and rampant sexism blamed on Mongo's culture (given that that name is both racist and ridiculous, couldn't they have changed it? I hate even typing it).

Then discovered that Hair is on On Demand in widescreen and am in a state of bliss as I type this! I adore Beverly D'Angelo and John Savage and can sing along to every one of these songs, though I am really surprised that the musical with "Masturbation Can Be Fun" got only a PG rating...I don't want to have to explain to my kids why pederasty is in the same gleeful tune as fellatio. Even though this is such a '70s interpretation of the '60s musical, the scene at the end where the soldiers are marching in diagonal lines onto planes and then the shot resolves on the diagonal lines of graves at Arlington never fails to choke me up. (And since we just watched Hamlet yesterday, there's quite a lot of quoting that play in the lyrics.)

: Trust is what I'm offering
1. At the end of today, do you think you'll feel spent or refreshed?
Probably a bit of both, since I'm tired but it was a pretty good day.
2. Do you like back rubs? HELL YES. Especially special back rubs, right, ?
3. When did you last mislead someone? I told the survey people I'd do their next survey when I had absolutely no intention of following through. Was easier to get off the phone quickly.
4. What color are your eyes? Very dark brown.
5. Friday fill-in: Lastly, let me know ___. the ingredients in a Butterscotch Nipple.

: Imagine you are on your deathbed. Recommend to those who remain in your life...
1. One book to read.
Einstein's Dreams
2. One movie to watch. Joe vs. the Volcano
3. One food to eat. Nubian Chocolate Roll. You may thank my mother and for this:

From New York's Forum of the 12 Caesars Restaurant

Chocolate Roll:
3 eggs - separated
5 tb. sugar
3 tb. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground aniseed (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8" square pan, line with wax paper and grease. Beat egg yolks until light. Beat in sugar 1 tb at a time. Mixture should be very creamy. Stir in cocoa, vanilla, almond, cinnamon (& aniseed). Beat egg whites until they are stiff. Fold them into cocoa mixture. Spoon in pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until cake shrinks away from sides of pan. Cool 5 minutes. Remove cake from pan and peel off waxed paper. Bring two sides together and roll in a tea towel to form a roll. Set aside to cool.

Cocoa Whipped Cream Filling:
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
2 tb. cocoa
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients (don't whip) and chill an hour. Then whip. Spread half the filling in the middle of the cooled cake. Bring two sides together to form a roll. At serving time, cover the roll with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle top with 2 tb. chopped toasted pistachio nuts or chocolate chips or shaved chocolate.

4. One place to go. For Americans: Devil's Tower, Wyoming. For Europeans: Glastonbury Tor.
5. One life lesson to leave behind. Eat all the chocolate and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.

: What are your five favorite canonical friendships?
1. Kirk and Spock
, Star Trek.
2. Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, Master and Commander.
3. Denny Crane and Alan Shore, Boston Legal.
4. Benjamin Sisko and Kira Nerys, Deep Space Nine.
5. Xena and Gabrielle, Xena: Warrior Princess.

1. Who would you become for a day using Polyjuice Potion? Tonks. Then presumably I'd be a Metamorphmagus and could become other people if I felt like it.
2. Who would you like to have around if attacked by Death Eaters? Harry, who is the only person who has consistently saved people from Death Eaters.
3. Who would you spend a day at Hogsmeade with? McGonagall. We'd do cool stuff instead of shopping or sitting around having tea.
4. Who would be the person you'd like to give you a tour of Hogwarts? Dumbledore, who seems to know the castle better than anyone but Voldemort and I don't want the latter to give me a tour of anything.
5. At whose house would you like to spend the night? Lucius Malfoy's, of course. On a night when neither Voldemort nor his wife are in residence. Er, that is, I am sure he has many interesting wizarding world artifacts and besides, the mansion in Wiltshire is close enough to Stonehenge, Avebury and Glastonbury to reach any of them by broom before dark.

These ducklings were born at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair. There was a sign on the last day asking people interested in adopting them to inquire.

A prize-winning pig takes a drink from a hose in his stall.

I'm not clear on exactly how the cows are it just appearance and health, or do the judges actually drink their milk?

The thoroughbreds were mostly stabled with the police horses, but there was a miniature horse and her foal in the barn with the exotic farm animals.

And this is a dorky photo from the parking kids' dentist's son is the executive producer of this program so I was pleased to see the CW pushing it, and am doing my part to spread the word!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Get Critical Update

TV Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Arsenal of Freedom"

Poem for Friday

There is a willow grows aslant a brook
By William Shakespeare

There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men's fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.


Prettiest death scene ever described, by a narrator so unreliable that it astonishes me what percentage of artists, directors and writers have taken Gertrude at her word and portrayed Ophelia thus. There's a lost J.W. Waterhouse painting of Ophelia lying on a dry bank with her neck broken -- that's always rather what I assumed happened, a quick shove from one of the guards at the order of one of the royals, and then a pretty speech for Laertes whom you'd think would notice that anyone who observed his sister's calamity in such lovely detail could have rushed down to the river and pulled her out before she drowned. Was thinking about this because we all watched the Zeffirelli/Gibson Hamlet...Branagh's is too long, Hawke's didn't impress me, I don't have Kline's or Jacobi's and I really don't like Olivier's, plus Zeffirelli's is kind of perfect Hamlet Lite for boys who've never seen it before and like swordfighting and it has Glenn Close, who improves pretty much anything. Kids were entirely attentive, which was not the case during As You Like It.

In other news, came over shortly before my kids came home from their secondary school orientation days and we went to the mall for lunch (mobbed food court -- most of us had Thai, and we met my mother), plus stops in Hot Topic (buy one t-shirt, get one half off), Borders (for Erin Hunter's Firestar's Quest), the candy store (which and I had discovered carries British Cadbury, yay!) the watch kiosk (where boys could not make up their minds) and the toy store (where they made the talking parrot say "You're a loser" and other brilliant intellectual slogans). They both appear reasonably content with their schools, other than the fact that they are, you know, school. And in addition to writing two Trek newsbits, I lured onto Catbook so our cats could be friends, thus proving that I am a loser.

On the last day of the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, the bunnies that had not yet been sold were available for close-up adoration by prospective adopters.

Look at this face! Who could not want to bring that face home? (Well, besides my cats, the thought of whom was a useful deterrent.)

Lots of the bunnies that did not have "SOLD" stickers had reduced prices on their charts, as well as notes if they were gentle and would make good pets.

However, some of the rabbit breeders were clearly not in the pet business.

This is a chinchilla rabbit. It's as soft as you'd imagine from the name.

We were going to go to the Maryland RenFaire this weekend but it's supposed to be nearly 100 degrees on Saturday and to thunderstorm on Sunday, so now we are trying to figure out when we might possibly do it without wrecking the kids' Hebrew school schedules. Need new weekend plan or new weather report!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Poem for Thursday

Lonely Sits My Consciousness (Galmud Yoshev Sichli)
By Avraham Itzchak HaCohen Kook
Translated by Itzchak Marmorstein

Lonely sits my consciousness,
Bereaved of love,
Closed, oppressed is my understanding,
From the outside is fear.

The wounds of my soul are flowing,
Wellsprings, fountains of blood,
My suns are gloomy with clouds,
Shrouded, completely dark.

I am like a caged lion,
Roaring for mighty freedom,
Peirced, my blood destroyed,
My hope whispers a secret.


Not a very eventful Wednesday. Daniel went to play with his best friend, who is finally home from a summer in Bangladesh, while Adam's best friend spent the afternoon here at the request of his mother who had to take her two toddlers somewhere. So I wrote up a completely non-newsworthy bit on how there's now a photo of what might be interior art for the Star Trek HD-DVD set, if the leak is correct, plus yet another Zachary Quinto interview -- Heroes is going to be good next year, right, with him and Masa Oki returning and Dominic Keating and Kristin Bell coming aboard, and I'm not going to be totally freakin' sick of Zachary Quinto before the Star Trek movie opens? And I watched 3:10 To Yuma publicity and sighed and fantasized about what if Paramount had cast Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as Kirk and Spock, before remembering that that rumor is even beyond Paramount's PR department to make happen.

Watched the latter part of the Rangers' record-breaking humiliation of the Orioles, 30-3, a scoring feat not equaled in over a hundred years (the Chicago Cubs, who were then called the Colts, still hold the major league record for beating the Louisville Colonels 36-7 in 1897, but the Rangers' 30 runs set an American League record since the American League was not founded until 1901). It's bad enough to have this happen to my team, but to have this happen at the bats of George Bush's team, who were happily in last place, who got multiple hits off every starter and set team records for hits and had two grand slams...and they were LOSING 3-0 before scoring five runs in the fourth, then nine in the sixth and ten in the eighth...the best thing I can say about it is that at least the Orioles weren't in playoff contention and it didn't happen against the Yankees!

The R2-D2 mailbox in front of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (I did mention having bought myself a sheet of Star Wars stamps, didn't I?)

Because this is such a classy stadium, they have weiner races on the screen between innings. The hot dog wearing the mustard hat won this one. (Sometimes ketchup wins, but I have never seen relish win.)

This photo was taken on a day when the Orioles beat the division-leading Red Sox. I hope they remember this as they struggle to win the second half of the current miserable double-header.

On Thursday both my children have half-day mandatory orientations for middle and high school respectively. They are not at all pleased about this, but I'm afraid I am rather content that school is starting!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Russell Crowe Squee (With Gratuitous Christian Bale)

...shut up, it's been MONTHS since I've done one of these.

So I'm writing up Trek XI news for TrekToday, and IGN has a brief video clip of an interview with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale (sitting veryclosetogether) where the interviewer asks Russell if there's any truth to the rumor that he might be in the new Star Trek movie as the villain, and while Russell says -- looking quite disinterested -- "I haven't read anything yet," Christian pretends to whisper, "Klingon! Klingon!" It's here. (I think they should have Russell AND Christian; he'd be a great Vulcan or Romulan. The movie would be total crack but I won't care and would see it ten times!)

Poem for Wednesday

Cri de coeur
By C. Dale Young

The trees are dark and heavy, my love,
heavy with the sound of the locust—
the dead of summer has arrived.

The lane scripts its old questions
carefully down a canyon of trees.
Green, the sunlight shifts

and dims the credibility of things,
and then the pond is a field,
weedy and green, weedy;

the hospital, dirty squares of light
against a background of trees
dark with the sound of the locust.

Sleeping god in an age of plagues,
give us the chance to use the past tense.
Let us, with the charity of middle age, lie:

"Yes, it was all so beautiful..."


My children and I braved Staples for school supplies. The line was even longer than last year, though it moved somewhat more quickly than I was expecting...I got in line and sent each boy with his list to find what he needed, and I was at the cashier before Daniel finally tracked down dividers he deemed acceptable (he wanted black ones, not beige ones with rainbow tabs...I do not know what to make of this). We also stopped at Best Buy, where I discovered to my delight that both seasons of Dark Angel are on sale for $15.99, and since I had a gift certificate I now own the entire run of the show for almost nothing. Yay! The new Erin Hunter book came out today and I had planned to go get that for Adam, but he was fed up with shopping and very nearly threw a tantrum when I pointed out that we still needed to stop and get a 9 volt battery for the fire alarm so we didn't all end up dead, so we skipped the bookstore for another day.

Wrote a rather funny article about a health care company that thinks it's a good thing if they promise you the redshirt treatment, and tried to find news about Colm Meaney being cast in the US version of Life on Mars -- I love Meaney, but with two Irish actors in the lead roles, why don't they just show the BBC version on ABC? Spent the evening watching Branagh's As You Like It on HBO, which was well acted and visually interesting but full of the anachronisms you'd expect setting the play in 19th century Japan, which makes the setting pretty gimmicky -- it looks like an English fantasy of an Asian forest rather than an actual Asian forest. I like Bryce Dallas Howard but she's not remotely convincing as a boy -- even less than Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare In Love -- and Kevin Kline is rather wasted as Jaques, who despite getting to deliver the "All the world's a stage" soliloquy doesn't really let Kline show his range. Still, worth seeing, if only because it's hard to ruin that play with a halfway decent cast and David Oyelowo is extremely hot as well as a decent Orlando.

A demonstration of spinning and weaving in one of the crafts buildings at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.

There was a display of decorated toilets...I know not why, but I like the Spider-Man one.

View up the midway from the crossroads by the barns.

Always one of my favorite aspects of any amusement park, the haunted house.

When I was younger, these were my favorite part of the fair, but since I have had children something happened in my middle ear and I can't deal with them anymore except as a spectator!

The volunteer fire and rescue teams were there giving safety demonstrations and letting kids climb on the trucks.

This year's award-winning pumpkin.

It is important to know things like this about one's county!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Poem for Tuesday

The Architects of Time
By C. Dale Young

had grown to love absence,
and so, the lot had to be vacant
except for the lone tree.
The first, on arrival, would

throw his hands up, reaffirm
that with a gesture he could
return the leaves to the branches.
Another, tired from the journey,

would lie down
and, closing his eyes, hasten
the demise of the locusts.
It was always the same.

A week, a century, the empty lot.
The last architect, the great
philosopher, was late as usual—
when they talked about the end,

he would laugh and remind them
they were now at the mercy
of the scientists, without whom
the architects would cease to exist.


It was a lovely, cool, rainy Monday, and I spent most of it indoors with a lingering headache that was threatening to become a full-blown migraine as the weather front moved through, but apparently I got the combination of drugs and the timing right because it moved off by late afternoon, just as the thunderstorms moved in. The kids had summer homework to do and friends to play video games with this last week before school...Adam's best friend came over here and stayed for dinner, while Daniel's best friend, who has spent most of the summer visiting family in Bangladesh, and this morning he appeared on Runescape, so the boys were IMing for a while.

I managed to wring out enough news from that Kate Mulgrew interview to post an article, and then USA Today had a new interview with Zachary Quinto about Heroes and Star Trek. In the evening we all watched Pan's Labyrinth, which we never managed to see in the theater and is finally on Cinemax On Demand. Not sure I'd have watched when the kids were up if I'd seen it first -- the fascist violence is really awful, I'm glad I didn't see that on the big screen -- but they're familiar with other atrocities that happened to children during the same era in Europe and although they were definitely bothered by certain scenes and a bit confused about the ending, they liked the movie and I'd so much rather them see violence in a movie that's about something than most of the crap action stuff that's out there. The cinematography is as good as everyone said and the acting is exceptional. I'm so glad I convinced that we didn't need to watch pre-season Monday Night Football.

A little girl looks at two-day-old chicks at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.

This one is only a couple of hours out of the shell. It kept getting up, wobbling a few steps, then collapsing right back into this position.

Someone had hung up absolutely dreadful chicken jokes throughout the poultry barn.

"Why did the chicken cross the road? To prove to the possum that it could be done."

"Why did the Roman chicken cross the road? Because she was afraid someone would caesar."

I'm not sure whether the jokes were supposed to sell chickens or just draw attention to which ones had won ribbons.

Anyway, where else can you get a white silkie cock for $20? *snickering*

I see that the Queen of Mean has died and Michael Vick has agreed to a plea agreement. And Dean is now a Category 5 hurricane -- hope everyone in Mexico and Texas is somewhere safe!