Sunday, August 31, 2008

Poem for Sunday

By John Engman

    I wanted to be a rain salesman,
because rain makes the flowers grow,
but because of certain diversions and exhaustions,
certain limitations and refusals and runnings low,
because of chills and pressures, shaky prisms, big blows,
and apes climbing down from banana trees, and dinosaurs
weeping openly by glacial shores, and sunlight warming
the backsides of Adam and Eve in Eden...
                                        I am paid
to make the screen of my computer glow, radioactive
leakage bearing the song of the smart money muse:
this little bleep went to market, this little clunk has none.

    The woman who works the cubicle beside me has pretty knees
and smells of wild blossoms, but I am paid to work
my fingers up and down the keys, an almost sexy rhythm,
king of the chimpanzees picking fleas from his beloved.
I wanted to be a rain salesman , but that's a memory
I keep returning to my childhood for minor repairs:
the green sky cracking, then rain, and after,
those flowers growing faster than I can name them,
those flowers that fix me and and make me stare.

    I wanted to be a rain salesman,
carrying my satchel full of rain from door to door,
selling thunder, selling the way air feels after a downpour,
but there were no openings in the rain department,
and so they left me dying behind this desk-adding bleeps,
subtracting clunks-and I would give a bowl of wild blossoms,
some rain, and two shakes of my fist at the sky to be living.
Above my desk, lounging in a bed of brushstroke flowers,
a woman beckons from my cheap Modigliani print, and I know
by the way she gazes that she sees something beautiful
in me. She has green eyes. I am paid to ignore her.


"In prosperous America, the poet's economic reality usually involves working a crap job while scribbling nightly in a cheap apartment. Before my pal John Engman suffered a brain aneurysm in his 40s, he toiled in such obscurity," writes Mary Karr in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "He lived in Minnesota, bussed tables, did standup comedy for a while, taught a class or two at a local community center, but only published two 'Work,' his desire to be a 'rain salesman' suggests an obscure poet's longing to break free from selling his word processing skills and move toward the exalted skill of selling beauty to readers. We owe the construction of our cities and the frying of our burgers and the processing of our words to the efforts of unsung workers like Engman, who died in 1996."

The weather forecast this morning said that there might be storms in the afternoon, so although we had toyed with the idea of going to Solomon's or to the Maryland Renaissance Festival, we decided to postpone those plans and go downtown to the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress. The former has an exhibit closing soon on Arms and Armor in Shakespeare, which we figured would be fun to see before going to the Renfaire anyway. It wasn't a very large exhibit but there was some lovely stuff -- the Earl of Pembroke's suit of armor, a sword that had been underwater for 500 years after the siege of Castillon, a Native American staff -- plus there's a First Folio in a case in the same exhibition hall, and a new film about the library's preservation work.

A 1606 Danish publication of the treatise by celebrated sword master Salvator Fabris on the science of rapier combat.

The swept-hilt sword of a Munich town guard from ~1600, on loan from the Higgins Armory Museum in Massachusetts.

A buckler from the 1500s, probably made in Italy, similar in style to the ones worn by Englishmen over their belts for quick self-defense.

The aforementioned Earl of Pembroke's fashionable suit of armor.

A book with jousting instruction for exhibitions and against live opponents, published in Frankfurt in 1616.

From the theatre lobby, Michael Learned's costume from a 2003 Folger revival of Maxwell Anderson's 1930 play Elizabeth the Queen.

From the north facade of the library, a bas-relief panel by John Gregory depicting the central triangle of Hamlet...

...and another illustrating Bottom's adventure from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

The Library of Congress recently revamped its visitor center so that tourists as well as scholars can have access to some of its more interesting holdings. It has three fabulous exhibits right now: one on Thomas Jefferson's library, which became the foundation of the Library of Congress after the British burned the original congressional library, another on the creation of the United States through its documents, with rough drafts and letters about the Declaration of Independence and Constitution written by Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Mason, et al (you can see in their own handwriting the argument about whether to abolish slavery), and a third on exploring the Americas, with a fantastic early map exhibit, a collection of naturalist studies and a study of the effects on the people already here of the colonists and vice versa. There's also a wonderful side display on pirates and piracy and a display of maps of Drake's voyages.

I found a DVD copy of Paul Mazursky's Tempest with John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands in the Folger gift shop and intended to watch it in the evening, but Adam was working on a school project that he needed help putting together and by the time I sat down, it was after 10. So instead we watched the Clemson/Alabama game (well, some of us watched and some of us mostly ignored it), and I'm going to bed early so I can wake up early and get dressed for the Renfaire!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Poem for Saturday

In Santiago, Chile
By Nicanor Parra
Translated by Liz Werner

In Santiago, Chile
The days are interminably long:
Several eternities in a day.

Like the vendors of seaweed
Travelling on the backs of mules:
You yawn -- you yawn again.

Yet the weeks are short
The months go racing by
And the years have wings.


I spent lots of time Friday watching, reading and discussing the news (see previous post for details). The rest of my day wasn't all that eventful: I wrote a (short, uninspired, but fairly positive) review of Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Captain's Holiday", picked up Adam from school in the pouring rain, exchanged letters about Daniel's health class with his high school principal (likely conclusion: by the time we can get this resolved, it will be two weeks into the school year and not worth messing up his schedule), had dinner with my parents and found ancient treasures in the drawers in my old desk in my childhood the map of the world has changed in 30 years.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is in the news because it has a great white shark in its Outer Bay exhibit, which we saw when we were there in July. Here are some more photos from the aquarium, both inside the exhibits and from the balconies outside overlooking the water:

The Friday Five: How many times a day do you...
1. Brush your teeth?
Two, sometimes three.
2. Shower? Usually once.
3. Check your E-mail? Dozens.
4. Check LJ? Once or twice.
5. Eat? Three meals, usually a couple of munchies.

Fannish 5: Name 5 characters you think are often misunderstood by fans.
1. Rose Tyler
, Doctor Who.
2. Elizabeth Weir, Stargate: Atlantis.
3. Eowyn, The Lord of the Rings.
4. Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
5. Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek: Voyager.

Hope everyone in Gustav's path is getting safely to high ground!

Friday, August 29, 2008


I've been talking about Sarah Palin in everyone else's journal, so I may as well just post here instead of waiting till tonight. There seem to be two schools of thought concerning Palin: fear that she's going to be damaging to the Democrats, and WTF!!! I'm definitely more in the latter category, at least from a political standpoint. I'm always so ambivalent when a woman with whom I disagree deeply and profoundly on major issues achieves great success, because if female solidarity really did outweigh other considerations, then Hillary Clinton would have locked up the Democratic nomination early on and we'd be having very different discussions right now. But it doesn't -- certainly not within nations or political parties.

I don't think Palin will hurt Obama's chances at election for several reasons. The biggest is that I don't think she'll draw in significant crossover voting for McCain. Women aren't stupid; the ones who strongly disagreed with Obama's politics or who were only supporting the Democrats because of Hillary Clinton were already looking for reasons to vote for McCain. They could have rationalized a VP candidate like Joe Lieberman, who's pro-choice, or Mitt Romney, who has a moderate voting record despite recent suck-ups to the far right, or any of the hawks who like to claim Obama will be weak on foreign policy. The women who'll jump parties for Palin were already looking to jump, and the ones who've paid any attention to Obama's voting record on women's issues won't bond together in significant numbers for Palin; after all, they didn't for Clinton.

I'm alternately amused and appalled that after all his "not ready to lead" ads, McCain picked someone with so much less experience than Obama. Moderates who inclined toward Clinton because she had so much more experience and exposure than Obama are not going to look at Palin's record and come away feeling good, particularly on a ticket with someone McCain's age -- call me ageist if you wish, but McCain's already sounding as senile as Reagan at times, and the choice of VP matters increasingly with the likelihood that he or she will need to take over the presidency. If the Republicans continue to harp on Obama's "inexperience," they're going to look ridiculous. Biden's blandness as a speaker is going to help him in debates with Palin; instead of attacking or condescending and being accused of sexism, he can merely state the facts of his career in his usual egghead fashion and look vastly more qualified than she is.

I'm expecting not to be happy with the media coverage of Palin and I'm nervous about how the Democrats will deal with her; given how much sexist garbage was thrown at the more qualified Clinton, who didn't get saddled with the Mommy baggage because Chelsea's an adult now, I'm assuming that I'm going to have to grit my teeth through a lot of proclamations about women's obligations and emotions and all the usual misogyny. That said, I think it will work to Obama's benefit in two ways. He can solidify his appeal to women by condemning it. And the virulent anti-Hillary Republicans don't want a woman president, period. How much flat-out sexism have we heard from those heartland church-going working class people whom we've been told are the key to this election? They're not going to be any more enthusiastic about a Republican woman than a Democrat. They'll accuse McCain of pandering to feminists by not picking an old white guy the same way they make accusations of pandering to feminists when a woman who's completely qualified for a job gets it. I expect a lot of those people will stay home and sit out the election, which helps Obama.

I'm less afraid of Palin than I was of Lieberman or Romney. I don't think she helps McCain with a major demographic. He already had the pro-life vote. He already had the gun lobby. I don't see Hispanics abandoning Obama for a candidate from a state that's more than 80% white and less than 5% Hispanic, a state that has passed English-only laws that had to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Palin's Native American husband is not going to sway the vote of someone like Cecilia Fire Thunder of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who believes that anti-choice legislation violates Indian tribal sovereignty laws.

And Palin's choice to have a child with Down's Syndrome is not going to convince pro-choice women to admire her. Make no mistake, it was a choice -- she said in interviews that she and her husband researched the condition when they learned about it from prenatal testing -- and it's a choice that she now feels qualified to make for every woman in the U.S., regardless of the circumstances or condition of her pregnancy. As unfair as it may be to women, there's still a strong perception that the mother is or should be the primary caretaker of young children, though it's not limited to women; there were plenty of people who expressed reservations about John Edwards possibly becoming a single father as president when it was learned that his wife had untreatable cancer.

It would be hard enough to persuade a lot of older voters to pick a woman president who had two children under ten even without having a special needs child. Since Palin does have a special needs child, I think a lot of voters will assume there's no good way for her to balance the needs of the family and the needs of the country. Which is unfair to her and to all women, but since she supports anti-choice laws that will affect the lives of millions of other women, forcing them to have children they don't want without anything like Palin's support system to assist them, I can't really work up much sympathy.

So I'm actually relieved, even though I'm expecting to hear lots of depressing sexism as many Democrats and a subsection of unhappy Republicans start cutting Palin down. I don't think she's the best person for the job, and I don't think American women are stupid enough to support McCain just because he put her on his ticket.

Poem for Friday

The Guest House
By Jelaluddin Rumi
Translated by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


It was a dim, rainy Thursday here, as what was left of Hurricane Fay dripped on us all morning and afternoon while Gustav and Hanna moved closer to the south. Perkypaduan came over and we went to the mall together to look at naughty Hot Topic Halloween accessories (not very many available yet, but the young cashier was definitely into Perkypaduan, heh), then to check out walking shoes and Bath & Body Works, and finally to grab some Japanese food to go. We came back to my house, ate teriyaki and watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, having decided that we were in the mood for Alan Rickman since I had just seen Bottle Shock and she was going to see it after leaving. Adam got home and announced that he needed a five subject notebook for science, so we picked up Daniel as he was walking home and went first to CVS, then to Giant, both of which were pretty wiped out of school supplies but we managed to track one down.

Here are some more photos from Yellowstone National Park last July.

Belgian Pool.

A marmot in the Upper Geyser Basin.

Giant Geyser across a field of wildflowers.

Yellowstone Falls.

Emerald Pool.

Bison near the Midway Geyser Basin.

A field near the Old Faithful Inn.

We had a political evening: watched Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (the latter had Mike Huckabee on, whom I knew would get me fervently in the mood to listen to Obama), then took a break to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Captain's Holiday" (which I need to review tomorrow, and which I enjoyed a lot more than I expected), then watched the DNC film about Obama before he came out to speak. Adam asked the all-important question, "Does he have a cat?" And though I know from the news that he's been looking for a dog for his daughters, I did not know the answer, and in the course of research (answer: he does not), I found Cats For Obama, which made us all smile. So did Obama's speech; I'm not sure he can put any of those tax or fuel plans in place without a strongly sympathetic Congress and I don't think he can stop a lot of the money-wasting to which even many Democrats have contributed, but he's so strongly positive, not only on things like equal pay and gay rights and ending poverty, but also on international relations and people in general. I love listening to Obama's passion for what I used to think the U.S. would always stand for.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Poem for Thursday

Nocturne I
By W.S. Merwin

The stars emerge one
by one into the names
that were last found for them
far back in other
darkness no one remembers
by watchers whose own
names were forgotten
later in the dark
and as the night deepens
other lumens begin
to appear around them
as though they were shining
through the same instant
from a single depth of age
though the time between
each one of them
and its nearest neighbor
may include in its span
the whole moment of the earth
turning in a light
that is not its own
with the complete course
of life upon it
born to brief reflection
recognition and anguish
from one cell evolving
to remember daylight
laughter and distant music


This will be a rather cranky entry, I'm afraid. Some of you may recall my lengthy rant some months ago about the idiocy of public school health class requirements and scheduling. When we left things, the administration had promised to set things right for Daniel as soon as they were able, then everyone involved promptly went on vacation and never returned my calls. Fast forward to Daniel's first day of school, when -- big surprise -- he learned that he is scheduled to take health and not chamber choir, even though this may mean that he can't travel with the choir in the spring to the county and state performances and even though it means he has eight solid study courses. He is being a good sport about it -- he apparently had a good first day of school, despite not getting the calculus teacher he wanted -- but I am really furious.

Meanwhile, Adam has been complaining off and on for the past couple of days that one of his ears was bothering him, and this afternoon he came home saying that it hurt. I called the pediatrician, who said she could squeeze us in, so I was not really surprised (though also not really thrilled) to have to wait 45 minutes beyond the appointment time for her to tell us it looked like swimmer's ear, which we already suspected, and to prescribe antibiotic ear drops. What I wasn't expecting was for the pharmacy nearest my house first to put the doctor on hold for ten minutes, then to disconnect her after saying they would transfer her to the doctors-only line, and so on until nearly half an hour later, the nurse who took the phone from the doctor was able to call in the prescription. Then, two hours later when I went to pick it up, the pharmacy from which we have purchased untold dozens of medicines over the years announced that they didn't have our insurance information or address in the system, so I had to fill out paperwork and wait some more for them to adjust the price!

Speaking of waiting for things, here are some of the dozens of signs that lead the weary traveler to Wall Drug Store in South Dakota (all photos taken through the window, so sorry for splotches, discolorations and blur):

In the evening, after finishing their homework, the kids wanted to watch Jon Stewart's convention coverage, which I must admit was very funny. Then we left on Stephen Colbert, who was even funnier commenting on the Fox TV coverage ("When I make up words to put in Michelle Obama's mouth, I find what she says very offensive!"). Watched the highlights of Bill Clinton's speech -- thought it was great, he said all the things about Obama that the McCain people were insinuating Hillary must not believe because she didn't say -- and I liked seeing Biden's mom, though I really don't like speeches with chant-along sound bites, not that I will complain if Biden's help get Obama elected. If the voting public only wants sound bytes, I'm all for the Democrats coming up with good ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Poem for Wednesday

By Meghan O'Rourke

We had a drink and got in bed.
That's when the boat in my mouth set sail,
my fingers drifting in the shallows of your buzz cut.
And in the sound of your eye
a skiff coasted—boarding it
I found all the bric-a-brac of your attic gloom,
the knives from that other island trip,
the poison suckleroot lifted from God-knows-where.
O, all your ill-begotten loot—and yes, somewhere,
the words you never actually spoke,
the woven rope tethering
me to this rotting joint. Touch me,
and the boat and the city burn like whiskey
going down the throat. Or so it goes,
our love-wheedling myth, excessively baroque.


Adam started seventh grade on Tuesday morning in the middle school that I attended -- well, it was a junior high school then, but it's still a bit surreal for me that I have somehow subjected one of my kids to three years in that building. He didn't seem terribly unhappy last year, at least, which is about the best one can hope for at that age, I think. Daniel had the day off, as his entire high school building is used for freshman orientation, so I took him out for bagels (his request), then home where I folded laundry and we watched The Fellowship of the Ring, which has kind of been a tradition for him and me on sick days. It's been many months since I've seen it, long enough for me to have forgotten all the things that disappoint me in The Return of the King, and it made me unexpectedly happy. When Adam got home, I spent quite a bit of time looking around the house for school supplies that the school hadn't bothered to put on the summer school supply list sent home weeks ago, then finished sorting out the kids' clothes -- the giveaway pile being bigger than what either son is keeping.

The Renaissance Vaudeville team, Rick and Jan, juggle knives while balancing on boards and playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" on harmonicas, with their trained dogs looking on.

One of the dogs in action while a little girl volunteer from the audience holds a hoop for her.

Actors portray the shipwreck that starts off The Tempest.

A refugee from the Mud Show, where every Shakespearean drama has the same ending: everyone gets very dirty and lives happily ever after.

I saw Barely Balanced get into this position and I still have no idea how they did it.

The Royal Falconer persuades one of his birds to land on his hand.

Aboard the pirate ship, one of the armory's officers holds an auction for unclaimed swords.

And the Royal Heralds announce the court in the afternoon.

Adam's best friend brought over Superhero Movie, which the kids insisted on watching -- fortunately it's short, and silly, and once again I got evidence that I am twelve because even though I've seen it before, I was more in the mood for that than all-night DNC blather. While the kids were getting ready for bed, we put on Across the Universe, figuring it would probably be possible to listen without really paying attention to the plot, but there was actually lots more talk and less Beatles than I was expecting...and Bono and Eddie Izzard in awesome cameos, which I didn't know about! The woman playing the sort-of-Janis-Joplin character was terrific, too, though the psychidelic sequences got to be a little much after a while. It's no Hair, which is what it seems to want to be with Beatles tunes, but it's worth seeing once.

The movie ended just as Hillary was starting to speak at the convention, so we got to hear her. I expected that I might be completely out of the mood -- every time I checked my RSS news feeds today, it was all "disgruntled Hillary supporters say they won't vote for Barack" until I wanted to throw up -- but I really appreciated her speech, as bittersweet as it must have been for her to get such an ovation. I wonder whether the news is ever going to cover the crisis in Georgia; right now they've gotten past a bear cub in a tree and moved on to puppy mill rescues. And every time I read something like this, my affection for Harry Potter dies a little bit more.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Poem for Tuesday

The Lost Sister
By Meghan O'Rourke

She was a master of childhood, very green,
very given to play, very sleepy, very grit of gray.
I, I was a shadow in a tree for no one to see,
I was a piece of ice in a tidal sweep.
When she laughed the sea made order of disorder.
I was a shadow in a tree, a stain
along the thawing bough for no one to see.

In her life, the hours pass casually.
Snow continues to pile on snow,
the dust in the corners of the old farmhouse
grows like mice in the winter.
I, I was the snow that fell too soon,
before the ground had frozen enough to catch me
and make me stick.


Adam goes back to school in the morning -- the whole county goes back then, but Daniel's high school is entirely taken up with freshman orientation, so he doesn't have to be there till Wednesday -- meaning Monday was officially our last day of summer vacation. We went out for lunch after Adam "called" me, pretended to be his father and instructed me in faux bass voice to take the children to California Tortilla. *g* Then we stopped at the food store, because in addition to toilet paper, we were out of Cocoa Krispies. We drove by the pool on the way home and to my surprise it was open -- we'd thought it was weekends only starting today -- so the kids got to swim before working on their summer homework, book reports and long math review packets. I finished the laundry while they finished those.

Casey breathes fire during the Globe Theatre performance by Barely Balanced at the Pennsylvania RenFaire.

Cameron and Dreagn also juggled flaming torches over Casey while she swung around flaming maces.

The glassblowers work on a witch ball that has just come out of the fire.

The oven "explodes" at the Boarshead Inn in the middle of a brawl, causing people to fling themselves into the pool below.

Things are generally pretty dignified when the Ultimate Joust begins, but they never stay that way.

This year's story involves Sir Henry Lee marrying Lady Mary Hastings in secret and infuriating the Queen when Tsar Ivan wants Mary for his own. Ultimately Ivan demands that Mary burn at the stake, over Queen Elizabeth's objections!

Ivan's wicked, wicked knights unseat the English in the joust, but Henry rides in to rescue his love from the dreadful Muscovites. (Actually, according to the program, it's Sir Lukas most weekends, but Sir Lukas wasn't riding last Sunday.)

Naturally, the pyre gets lit anyway, so the Faire can have a giant bonfire before it concludes.

After dinner we watched No Reservations, which I didn't expect to interest the kids in the least -- it's also the last night of weekday video games for a long time -- but they both watched it. I've heard it's not nearly as good as the German film it's based on, but I enjoyed it anyway, though the resemblances to Ratatouille amused me, Catherine Zeta-Jones only spoke with a US accent about 2/3 of the time, and the family dynamics were a bit too Disney-perfect. The movie made me very hungry, which usually means a food movie did something right. *g* Then the kids went to bed -- school night hours -- and Paul and I watched Into the Unknown With Josh Bernstein on Discovery, in which they investigated whether there was a historical event upon which the story of Noah's Ark might have been based (conclusion: there's not much evidence for an ark with all the beasts of the world, but some evidence for the flood from the Epic of Gilgamesh where it was only the beasts of the field rescued from the flood).

I only watched the highlights of the Democratic convention, even Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama; there's only so much political blather I can take. That said, I don't know which pisses me off more: the fact that John McCain thinks women might be such idiots that we'd vote for him just because Obama rather than Clinton got the Democratic nomination, or that there seem to be women who are such idiots. The McCain campaign has found several to quote, and I uncharitably assume that they are bigoted and ignorant as well as just plain dumb. I also want to smack all the net-neutrality people who are now saying they won't vote for Obama because Biden voted in support of the telecom companies for protection on surveillance and against file sharing, though that's surely a much smaller number. Do they think John "No Civil Liberties" McCain will be friendly to their interests? I hate having to live in a country with leaders elected by tantrum-throwing brats!

Ah well, I see CERN is reenacting Angels and Demons and People is trying to queer Obama/Biden...there is entertainment in the news.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Poem for Monday

By Meghan O'Rourke

Bring me to your childhood room, where
the old captains never flinched, and push me to the floor.
The arrows of the Persians flew so thick
and came so fast they blotted out the sun.
All the better, the captains said; we will fight in the shade.
A far cry from the aunt's needlepoint by the door --
Bless this home and all who visit.
Downstairs the family sleeps like a tapestry;
the soldiers stood till noon, when the clouds parted
and sun drenched the battlefield.
Tiger shadows stripe our twisted legs, and even the books
seem to pull from the sight
of my being stitched to your sleeping limbs,
as if beyond the arrows of leaves
they spot a sun unhorsed from its chariot,
head to your breakable head, the shapes
across the pass at first indistinct,
then stiffened into bodies, limbs, thumbs.
One hand running over the bruised ridges of the wound,
the other tugging at the stiff black thread.


Another by O'Rourke's Halflife from Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World. "In 'Thermopylae' (literally 'hot gates'), we see a love affair during a visit to a childhood home. A scene of passion is jump-cut with the famous battle of Thermopylae, the Greeks' failed resistance against invading Persians," writes Mary Karr. "The inspiring Spartans probably knew they were doomed, but their sacrifice permitted Athenians to escape. In the poem's lovemaking scene, the speaker is subversively stitched to her lover (his bookshelves suggesting he reads ancient history), as they join the family tapestry. In the final two lines, the ridges actually exist inside the woman's body, and the stiff tapestry thread evokes painfully tugged hair. Such dense cosmology permits O'Rourke her rich, psychological textures."

I had a great day at the Renfaire with my family and DementorDelta! When we got there, we saw Barely Balanced's acrobatics, then had fish & chips at the place near the stage while Empty Hats was playing. Then we went to the Boarshead Brawl -- the point of which is always to throw drinks in people's faces, toss people out of second-story windows, knock people into the big tub and make bathroom jokes, so the kids love it. We saw the Renaissance Vaudeville team, which includes their dogs ("this is what you can do with a liberal arts degree") and stayed at the Endgame Stage for the abbreviated version of The Tempest. Miranda was portrayed as a giggly bimbo, which I could have lived with, but they cut both Caliban's "Be not afear'd; the isle is full of noises" and Prospero's "Our revels now are ended" speeches! Grrrr!

After the play, we walked a bit around the shops. At the mint, I had a coin made with the Chalice Well on one side and the Holy Grail on the other. We also stopped in the scriptorium/bookstore, several jewelry stores, the dragon hatchery (where they actually sell baby lizards), a couple of art galleries, the pirate ship armory and the glassworks. Late in the afternoon we went to see Barely Balanced's fire show at the Globe Theatre in which they not only perform acrobatics and juggling, but do so with knives and torches. Next on the schedule was the Ultimate Joust; with the theme this year being a visit to England by Ivan the Terrible and his knights, Russian villainy becomes the excuse for fighting and blowing things up. The Pennsylvania Faire has less serious jousting than its Maryland counterpart, but they always do a big bang at the finale and I really enjoyed seeing the number of women who ride as knights. Finally, we had dinner -- Spanish food (well, really Tex-Mex) for some of us, turkey legs and bread bowls for others. And we drove back to Maryland!

English and Muscovite knights clashed in the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire's jousting arena.

Before the competition, the queen greeted her loyal subjects.

Barely Balanced performed fabulous acrobatics during their morning show at the Boarshead Inn...

...and played with fire during their late show at the Globe Theatre.

This year the Faire includes demonstrations of falconry...

...and an abbreviated version of The Tempest in which both of these characters got their best speeches cut.

At the inn, Sir Robert Dudley and Sir Walter Raleigh managed to get a lot of people dunked.

And here are myself and DementorDelta looking perky in our bright wench garb.