Friday, October 31, 2008

Poem for Halloween

Searching For Poe's Grave On Halloween, Baltimore, Maryland
By Jim Doss

The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and the other begins?
-- Edgar Allan Poe

Not here on Fayette Street
where the dull faces of commuters
stare back at us in their pilgrimage
to nowhere. Not on the sidewalk

where a dingy robin lies
like a broken doll, its missing eye
peering into the next world.
Not in the greasy smoke that braids

the air above Hardees with animal scents,
drifts into the blue haze of power plants.
Not in the used hypodermic needles
that gleam through a sewer grate,

or crushed cans of Colt 45 rusting by the curb.
Not in the red scrawl of graffiti on brick
row houses where home-boys lean
against the wall, peddle baggies of rock or weed

to walk-ups and drive-bys. Not in the purple
and black billboard advertising play by play
for the Ravens' games. "Perversity," Poe wrote,
"is one of the primitive impulses of the human heart."

In the end, he lay face-down in the gutter,
delirious with fever, poisoned by madness
and tainted alcohol, bribed to vote
under the names of dead men for shot after shot.

Now, his features carved in garish granite
come alive in stone. Sunlight reflects
off stained glass windows. Roots strain
to topple markers in their slow crawl through soil.

The path we've walked from his Amity Street
garret traces Poe's own footsteps
as he strolled with his pubescent cousin-wife
and her mother on their way to worship.

We read from Tales of Mystery and Imagination
into the sunset's orange glow, wait for his spirit
to rise through clay to accept our offerings--
this bottle of cognac, and a black rose.


Nothing to report from the morning besides laundry, running out for more laundry detergent, and being incredibly frustrated with trying to talk to people about this election -- the Obama campaign is recruiting Jews to call undecided Jews in swing states. While McCain apparently can be forgiven for associating with some of the most bigoted, narrow-minded anti-Semites on the planet, Obama apparently cannot be forgiven for having the middle name "Hussein." I am embarrassed that there can be such easy acceptance of statements made out of ignorance and fear -- someone even fed me the line about Obama not even really being American because no one can find his birth certificate. If the arguments were about the economy, even though I'd still disagree with McCain supporters, I'd be a lot less distressed.

On a much happier note, in preparation for Halloween, we carved our pumpkins! Our Targ cat Daisy helped.

All right, so "helped" might be a bit of a misstatement.

This is the "warty penguin" that we got at Jumbo's pumpkin patch. It had a very tough skin and was hard to carve.

And this is the big traditional jack-o-lantern pumpkin that we always intended to turn into an Obama logo pumpkin. (We take no credit for the design; you can download it from Yes We Carve. From what I understand on Twitter, half of the people I know online have identical pumpkins!)

Daisy was very eager to sniff the guts of the pumpkins, though she then made a face and walked away.

It is difficult to say whether she was impressed by the finished product; she was more interested in sniffing the by-then-toasted pumpkin seeds, which I must admit do smell very yummy.

Here are the completed jack-o-lanters -- Obama and "McCain"! (Although McCain never looks this sincerely cheerful, hee!)

I thought our neighbors' pumpkins were really cool until I discovered that they're reusable plastic from a craft store! Hah!

After carving pumpkins, we watched and greatly enjoyed this week's Smallville -- finally Jimmy is coming into his traditional role and Lois is being taken seriously as a reporter. Though I wish Lois didn't need to be rescued quite so often. And Oliver is back! Spoilers: I loved all the scenes with him and Clark -- the hilarious one on the plane in which Ollie tries to convince Clark that he'd rather have three girls than one Kal-El, when we all know better (and are proven right), then the one where he impersonates Superman, and the adorable final one in which Ollie admits he's happier wearing tights than being sleazy and recommends that Clark try a costume too. Oh, but Chloe! I guess she got more from Brainiac than brains...she's gone bad! Between having to lie to Jimmy and that horrible brain download, I fear things are not going to end well for her!

Then we all watched Next Gen's wonderful "Family" -- the one with Picard's brother, Worf's parents, and Wesley's dad -- which I must find time to review on Halloween! Which is here, yay! A blessed Samhain if this is a religious holiday for you, a happy festival if this is a cultural event where you live, and lots of sweets and treats if you just celebrate for fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Poem for Thursday

Sonnet 100
By Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke

In night when colors all to black are cast,
Distinction lost, or gone down with the light;
The eye a watch to inward senses placed,
Not seeing, yet still having powers of sight,

Gives vain alarums to the inward sense,
Where fear stirred up with witty tyranny,
Confounds all powers, and thorough self-offense,
Doth forge and raise impossibility:

Such as in thick depriving darknesses,
Proper reflections of the error be,
And images of self-confusednesses,
Which hurt imaginations only see;

And from this nothing seen, tells news of devils,
Which but expressions be of inward evils.


I had a very nice morning and early afternoon -- I met my oldest friend and her mom for lunch with me and my mom at Legal Seafood, so it was both good food (grilled swordfish and shrimp for me, mmmmm) and good company, though I am not sure I was successful in convincing my friend's mother to vote for Obama. Then I came home and tried to take Adam to his tennis lesson, but a new session started this week and although I had been under the impression from the instructor last week that they were going to give priority to kids already in the class, it was already full and they wouldn't let him sign up! Arrgh. Then I came home to the news that David Tennant is going to leave Doctor Who after the specials next year...something about which I am fairly ambivalent, as I thought I would never want to watch Eccleston's successor, so I am certainly willing to give Tennant's a chance, but my friends are in mourning.

A pair of grotesques on National Cathedral -- one of the stone carvers leering at the schoolgirls below while the Dean glares, aghast.

These two are a robot and a "camera" aimed at the Russian Embassy.

Monkey and goat grotesques.

Gargoyles "Balancing Act," an elephant balancing a book on his head -- and "Devilish Gardener."

Dove and owl grotesques.

Gargoyles "Tom, Tom the Piper's Son" (stealing a pig) and "Rabbit/Snake" (I think the snake is winning).

The Grandsons -- one with intact halo and toy wagon, the other with broken halo and stolen cookie jar.

The sculptor who was meant to carve grotesques on this gable died in a tragic accident. They have been left unadorned in honor of him.

Spent the evening watching Pushing Daisies -- look, I already know I'm voting for Obama, I've spent a lot of this week extolling his virtues and shooting down rumors to other local Jews -- the campaign has called me twice today to ask if I can do that on their phone banks, even though I already said I'd make calls to Jewish voters in Virginia and Ohio -- frankly, I needed a break from what is, at the core, still a political performance. Besides, Pushing Daisies may be gone before Bush is. This wasn't one of my favorites, though I adore Ned's twin geek brothers and I'm delighted for Emerson that he got a brief romance. I want Charlotte's aunts to appear more often! Still, what other show would have dialogue like, "Do you ever shiver when you pee? That's how I felt when he spoke." And then another character saying later that something would give her "the piss jitters." Hee!

I should say something about the Series, huh? How 'bout them Phillies? And then I did watch Obama, on Jon Stewart. "Will it annoy us, or will we like it?" Oh, thank you, Jon! Who also asked Obama whether he's an elitist Muslim terrorist-sympathizer socialist Marxist witch -- "If you do win, is that a mandate for socialism in this country?" And Obama saying his being on Stewart's program is further evidence of these tendencies, and claiming he's in therapy to make sure he can vote for himself, all the while getting policy points in between the humor...oh, well done.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Poem for Wednesday

My Song
By Rabindranath Tagore

This song of mine will wind its music around you,
my child, like the fond arms of love.

The song of mine will touch your forehead
like a kiss of blessing.

When you are alone it will sit by your side and
whisper in your ear, when you are in the crowd
it will fence you about with aloofness.

My song will be like a pair of wings to your dreams,
it will transport your heart to the verge of the unknown.

It will be like the faithful star overhead
when dark night is over your road.

My song will sit in the pupils of your eyes,
and will carry your sight into the heart of things.

And when my voice is silenced in death,
my song will speak in your living heart.


I don't have a lot to report from my Tuesday except that I have a new cousin, Brady Max, the son of my cousin Allison and her husband Justin, whom we saw last summer when we stayed at my Uncle Mickey's! It was a chilly, blustery morning with rain and winds so high that the power flickered and knocked out my internet several times. I took a walk to watch the leaves falling, in part out of fear that they'd get blown away too quickly -- I can't believe Halloween is three days away and the season will soon be over -- but there's still plenty of red and yellow out there, which hopefully will stick around till the weekend. Since my kids have no school on Monday for end-of-quarter teachers' meetings or Tuesday for Election Day, we have plans to go sightsee if the weather cooperates. Today Adam had Hebrew school and Daniel stayed late to work on a group project, so I had a quiet afternoon trying to type with a cat in my lap.

This is the one photo I got of the inside of National Cathedral, when we first arrived -- no photos are allowed during the services.

The cathedral is a beautiful Gothic building, but so clean that it's obviously not very old; clearly none of the rooms or corridors were ever lit by oil or candles.

A glimpse of the tower from the seventh floor windows.

The south entrance reminds me of the main entrance to Westminster Abbey.

Several beautiful rose windows adorn the building, like the Creation Rose Window over the entrance.

Unfortunately, this was the best photo I managed inside, without tripod or time to set up properly.

Here's the beautiful South Rose Window "The Church Triumphant."

And here's a view of one of the spires, so you can see that there are traditional angels and floral decorations as well as the modern gargoyles and grotesques.

Watched episodes three and four of Merlin with the family because all of us like it, though different aspects appeal to each of us...and how did I not realize that the new Bionic Woman was in it? For all the flaws of that show, I rather liked her. Also, I utterly adore Merlin, Arthur, and Uther (particularly the latter...poor Anthony Stewart Head). Then watched this week's Sarah Jane Adventures, not my favorite two-parter because the science is really, really ridiculous even by ridiculous science fiction standards, but I love that Clyde has a bigger role this season and I liked Luke's characterization in this arc.

Spoilers: My whole family likes SJA too, and while I sometimes think it's deliberately skewing a little young (what are they thinking, casting someone who looks like Rani but then writing her rather sweet and innocent), but I really enjoyed the "you don't need to be the center of the universe" theme of this one as well as the Mars candy joke. Plus I liked Sarah Jane saying that Luke IS the center of her universe -- better him than the Doctor, I can deal with maternal devotion so much better than Rose's style of romantic obsession -- and being different saving the world, when Luke is almost as much a metaphor for growing up gay as first-season Smallville's Clark Kent...all right, well, we already know I am eleven because I laugh at SNL bathroom jokes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Poem for Tuesday

By W.S. Merwin

Climbing in the mist I came to a terrace wall
and saw above it a small field of broad beans in flower
their white fragrance was flowing through the first light
of morning there a little way up the mountain
where I had made my way through the olive groves
and under the blossoming boughs of the almonds
above the old hut of the charcoal burner
where suddenly the scent of the bean flowers found me
and as I took the next step I heard
the creak of the harness and the mule's shod hooves
striking stones in the furrow and then the low voice
of the man talking softly praising the mule
as he walked behind through the cloud in his white shirt
along the row and between his own words
he was singing under his breath a few phrases
at a time of the same song singing it
to his mule it seemed as I listened
watching their breaths and not understanding a word


From this week's New Yorker.

I had a very quiet Monday with nothing of interest to report except that I've had nice long e-mail conversations with two people I lost touch with many years ago: my college roommate from France, who moved back there after a year in the U.S., and my first friend in Chicago, who had moved to China for many years. Plus I read the blog of my friend who's a major in the army and deploying soon to Baghdad. And I waited for LiveJournal to work for half the morning while the Halloween decorations were holding things up, and I burned a bunch of DVDs to clear up space on my hard drive, and I watched with amusement while three cats fought over who got the nice warm fishie cat bed. And I read more of my son's novel.

The Rattlesnake at National Cathedral. This and all the others in this entry are true gargoyles with water spouts.

The Pig on the Northwest Tower many stories below the tower where Darth Vader lives.

The Birdwatcher, named in honor and carved in the likeness of a patron who could often be found with binoculars in his hand.

The Frog, at the eighth bay of the South Nave just outside the gift shop.

The North Nave's Iguana, a native American animal.

This is Decay, the skeleton of a winged animal with a snake emerging from its skull like the Dark Mark.

The Missouri state bear with St. Louis's Gateway Arch.

The South Nave's Avian Gardener, created in honor of an English gardening enthusiast and bird watcher.

Sarah Connor was off this week for the World Series. We watched Heroes, which felt really long to me -- I kept thinking it was over and trying to put on Boston Legal. Spoilers: The episodes with Hiro and Ando as comic relief sometimes seem trivial, but I like them better than the episodes without any comic relief at all. I miss the grownup women of this show - Niki, Nana, and especially evil controlling Angela. I don't need another show about a cabal of evil controlling fathers, X-Files ran that into the ground and then some, and there are so many young blondes running around at this point that I wonder if they bred out brunettes (other than the needy psychotic murdering Latin American) when they started breeding heroes.

Then of course it was time for my favorite hour of TV while it lasts, which keeps finding new depths of utter rabid insanity to plumb. Spoilers: This week, Alan and Denny go to a dude ranch, Shirley is stuck representing Catherine Piper, and Katie tries to get Carl to loosen up. This episode is worth watching just to see what Alan and Denny wear on a Utah ranch -- denim shirts with big flowers embroidered on them, cowboy hats with light-up brims -- and for Denny's romantic scene with a sheep. Not to mention Denny's erection while sharing a tent with Alan, but more on that later.

Alan's vacation is almost ruined by the presence of Melvin the "this is gonna be a hoot" lawyer, who has apparently come alone to this ranch that other men pay a fortune with their friends to visit to be cowboys. One of those men, Ian, has a pretty wife, Irene, whom Denny hits on immediately in fairly insulting terms ("all the sheep were spoken for"). Ian is furious and the ranch owner tells Denny to behave or he'll send him packing. Alan wants to go home, particularly after being humiliated as a phony cowboy by Melvin while singing campfire songs (though as Alan rightly points out, the songs are as inauthentic for cowboys as he is). And Ian thinks Melvin is gay; the fact that they're from Massachusetts just clinches it.

Meanwhile, since Alan is away, Shirley visits Catherine in prison and learns that she has been arrested for arson and attempted murder, having tried to destroy the office of the doctor who prescribed a medication for dialysis-related anemia that nearly killed her. Shirley plans to plead temporary insanity, which has the advantage of very likely being true, though as she is explaining this to Carl, Jerry comes in dressed as Little Bo Peep. Turns out his calendar had Halloween on the wrong day. Jerry is devastated, thinking this will hurt his chances of making partner, and Katie is irritated at Carl for suggesting that the office is too grownup a place for something as juvenile as Halloween.

The details of Catherine's case aren't worth reiterating, since we've already had a case on this show about big pharmaceutical money and how it's bought doctors as well as the FDA and Congress; suffice to say that the doctor prescribed a drug produced by a company that was giving him a rebate, Catherine took it and had a heart attack, and when she recovered, she was so furious at having her life threatened by someone whom she had trusted that she set out to punish him. Shirley does a fine job asking the jury to put themselves in her place, imagining having a heart attack and thinking they're going to die on their own kitchen floors because their doctor wanted his rebate. Of course Catherine is found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, because this is Boston Legal.

Meanwhile Alan just wants a cigar, which the other cowboys for the week think may give them cancer. Sulking in the tent, he wants to go home, but Denny has bigger problems on his mind, quite literally: he has had an erection for more than four hours and wants Alan to take a look at it. Alan shrieks, Denny goes out to piss, sees a sheep and a crime very nearly occurs, but Alan talks Denny into coming back into the tent. And then a crime does occur: Denny sneaks out, seduces Irene while Ian is away, and is then trapped inside their tent when Ian stumbles in drunk and snuggles him. Alan comes in to help Denny sneak out, Irene comes in and screams, and in the morning, the dude ranch owner -- who is also a constable -- arrests Denny for adultery under Utah law, and Alan for aiding and abetting.

Katie keeps after Carl, asking him whether he was always proper and stuffy, which Carl resents -- he thinks he was quite the hipster in high school. Shirley tells Carl that she likes him as a fuddy-duddy -- if America elects John McCain, after all, we'll have a Fuddy-Duddy in Chief, Elmer Fuddy-Duddy -- but Carl wants to talk seriously both about his own mother's death from an untested ulcer drug and about the future of the firm, which he thinks is in big trouble for as long as they excuse Denny's behavior as all in good fun. Back in Utah, Alan wants to represent himself and starts ranting about how dare Utah prosecute just one side of an adultery case when they ignore polygamists; the judge tells him that he can't represent himself, so Melvin steps in, telling the judge that he doesn't like Alan or Denny much but after taking on the Supreme Court and winning, they're certain to walk all over Utah. The judge dismisses the charges and says that Alan and Denny are banned for life from the state. (Eh, gay marriage will probably never be legal there, anyway.)

Alan and Denny arrive home just in time to see Carl, Jerry, and Katie heading out to a Halloween party...Jerry still dressed as Bo Peep, Carl as a French maid, and Katie as a sheep. Denny promptly flings himself on Katie, whom Jerry and Carl valiantly defend, Jerry thwacking Denny with his Peep staff. On the balcony, Denny tells Alan he's glad they got to spend time together, though Alan protests that Denny only had eyes for the sheep, and demands a real vacation. They agree that they looked hot in their cowboy outfits, which Denny is still convinced Irene appreciated. Alan says Ian and Melvin will never have a best friend like Denny, saying they're blessed, which inspires Denny to apologize about the erection. Alan declares himself over it, still waxing rhapsodic, saying they're the best couple he knows. And they only get better, adds Denny as they poke their cigars high into the air over their mouths.

I feel so awful for Jennifer Hudson and her sister. I don't know anything about her personally, but the situation is so utterly horrific...what can anyone say, really?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Poem for Monday

The Lives of the Optimist
By Paul Guest

So the jonquils are fooled into flaming up
though it's January. The bricks soak
in heat like ruddy sponges.
Walking home, I hide
within whatever's radiant.
A bird whose name I've never bothered
to learn sings its farewell
to winter. It's January. Tomorrow
we'll grieve. Or the next
day, but not this thawed instant,
not in this false blush
of lilac. In my bones, the old scores
with the earth are laid to rest
and each dyspeptic grudge
blossoms into frantic, sweet, careening
love. In your bones,
the tidal hymns of blood.
This heedless smile once was yours.
So too my hands,
themselves fooled
by the tilt of the earth, the white face of a star.


Another from Poet's Choice in Sunday's Washington Post Book World," writes Mary Karr. "Guest's humor often disarms me before he ambushes me with longing. Losing a potential love makes his joy in a mid-January burst of spring both funny and sad in this wry poem...Guest's twisting syntax, his poetic phrasing -- 'tidal hymns of blood' -- and his wicked wit about 'each dyspeptic grudge' make more palatable the grief of the lost love. It's her face that blinks past us, I think, disappearing in the white face of a star.

When younger son got home from Hebrew school, DementorDelta came over for brunch which Paul made. Then we went downtown with the kids for the Gargoyle Tour at National Cathedral, which was a huge hit with everyone. Even the kids were completely engrossed, though it started with a lecture and slide show about the history of the cathedral and construction of the grotesques on the building. After circling the building looking for such figures as the rattlesnake, the leering workman, the spy camera, the good and wicked grandsons, and Darth Vader, we walked around a bit inside, but there was a service in progress, so although we managed to see the statues of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the Space Window, Woodrow Wilson's Grave, and the rose windows -- and to hear the wonderful organ -- we couldn't walk through the nave.

This is Pan the piper. While it might seem odd to have a Greek god on the side of a Christian church, it was donated in honor of the music programs at the cathedral.

I didn't know till today that the forms of the grotesques and gargoyles are supposed to be earthy to contrast with the angelic images inside; they aren't to ward away evil, because the church itself is supposed to do that. (Above, Gluttony, with double chins and fork in hand.)

The original dean didn't want gargoyles, thinking it would make the building seem too Victorian, but later deans decided that a Gothic cathedral should have gargoyles instead of just flowery spouts. (This is a cat and her kitten.)

True gargoyles are always drain spouts designed to carry water away from the roof and the limestone or sandstone that could be damaged by it. The other decorative protrusions are grotesques, which also help splash water away.

Darth Vader, for instance, is a grotesque. In fact, he was the third prize winner in a National Geographic Kids "Draw a Grotesque" contest and was carved to the winner's specifications. He can be found on the north side of the tower where the sun doesn't shine...the "dark side"!

Sorry the Darth Vader and raccoon images are a bit blurry, but this is to give some idea of how high up they're located...and I was shooting without a tripod.

In the quatrefoil behind this grotesque, you can see the mouth of a sea turtle gargoyle meant to represent endangered species. When the cathedral's construction began in 1907, environmentalist President Theodore Roosevelt was in attendance; it and was only just completed in 1990.

Our tour guide claimed that this donkey and elephant do not represent the Democrats and Republicans. We didn't believe him.

We stopped in both the main cathedral store, which is huge -- contains a bookstore, a Christmas store, and religious items from all over the world, from rosaries to Magen Davids to Buddhist prayer beads -- and the gardening-themed gift shop in the Herb Cottage. Then we came home and had cheesecake that DementorDelta brought! We weren't too hungry after she went home, so Paul made pumpkin peanut soup, figuring that wouldn't be too filling -- it was awesome though -- and in the evening we watched the first two episodes of Merlin, which younger son had seen a bit of and wanted to watch more. So it was a very lovely Sunday! And the Redskins won, though we weren't around to pay attention to the game! But is it very wrong that I want the Series to return to Tampa Bay mostly so I can see the ray tank again?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Poem for Sunday

User's Guide to Physical Debilitation
By Paul Guest

Should the painful condition of irreversible paralysis
last longer than forever or at least until
your death by bowling ball or illegal lawn dart
or the culture of death, which really has it out
for whoever has seen better days
but still enjoys bruising marathons of bird watching,
you, or your beleaguered caregiver
stirring dark witch's brews of resentment
inside what had been her happy life,
should turn to page seven where you can learn,
assuming higher cognitive functions
were not pureed by your selfish misfortune,
how to leave the house for the first time in two years.


"Real life has enough horror without adding ghouls and ghosts to the mix," writes Mary Karr in Poet's Choice in The Washington Post Book World. "Here's a scary fact you'll want to know about Paul Guest: At the age of 12, he was permanently paralyzed in a bike accident. That's the least interesting aspect of his work, but it did produce this startler," she adds. "It's both agonizing and funny for an invalid to joke about his 'bruising marathons of bird watching.'" The poem is from Guest's upcoming release from Ecco, My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge.

Our plan for Saturday was to go hike on Catoctin Mountain and visit some sites in Thurmont and Emmitsburg, but the weather forecast was for hard rain and high winds, so we figured it wasn't the best day for it. It was already raining by the time Daniel got back from volunteering at Hebrew school, and by the time we left the house, it was pouring. We stopped at Halloween Adventure because Adam had decided that he had to have a scythe to go with his Grim Reaper costume, then Daniel decided he needed one too -- I don't know how they think they are going to carry flashlights, candy bags, and scythes, but I guess that's not my problem -- then we went to get haircuts and stopped at CVS, Giant, and finally Blockbuster to rent Iron Man. So yeah, not a very exciting day!

This is Mount Vernon's gristmill, which is actually three miles south of the mansion. Washington used to own all the property between them, but now there are housing developments along Route 235 in the middle.

The site for the water-powered mill -- advertised the most authentically restored 18th-century mill in the country -- was chosen for the stream that feeds the 16-foot water wheel.

This is the only operating Oliver Evans Automated Milling System in the U.S. -- the third U.S. patent ever granted.

The miller explained how the valuable quartz millstones brought from France ground fine white flour.

Then he demonstrated how corn was ground using less expensive German millstones.

The wheel turns the stones, which grind the corn...

...using this mechanism to drive the mill.

And here is the cornmeal, some of which can be purchased in the gristmill's shop.

The rest of my family had seen Iron Man before, but I hadn't. I'm not the biggest fan of superhero/comic book adaptations in the first place, and nothing I'd heard about this one made me feel particularly enthusiastic. I really don't understand the Robert Downey Jr. adoration, I've found him adequate in everything I've seen him in but not particularly gifted, and the whole reformed-bad-boy thing leaves me cold. I'd have to say the same for Tony Stark. Adam said he thought Terence Howard would make a better Iron Man than Iron Man, and maybe he's right. Plus the first half hour of the film was so misogynistic that I almost stopped watching; as much as I dislike Gwyneth Paltrow and thinking it was her own fault for taking the role, I was cringing for her character.

I know several people who found the film charmingly slashy, but when men are bonding because every single woman they meet is scripted as a bimbo, a bitch, or both, it disgusts me much too much to find anything delightful about the male bonding. Then there's the science -- forget the icing problem, how did he avoid the bends? My kids wanted to watch the deleted scenes, and I am so sorry Jeff Bridges' New World Order speech was cut; if we're going to get vague, hypocritical messages about imperialist Americans (without the U.S. government actually being implicated because it's just a few evil extremist rogue capitalists), we deserve to get it wrapped in over-the-top political rhetoric.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Poem for Saturday

All Souls
By Edith Wharton


A thin moon faints in the sky o'erhead,
And dumb in the churchyard lie the dead.
Walk we not, Sweet, by garden ways,
Where the late rose hangs and the phlox delays,
But forth of the gate and down the road,
Past the church and the yews, to their dim abode.
For it's turn of the year and All Souls' night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.


Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope--
For the year's on the turn and it's All Souls' night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.


And where should a man bring his sweet to woo
But here, where such hundreds were lovers too?
Where lie the dead lips that thirst to kiss,
The empty hands that their fellows miss,
Where the maid and her lover, from sere to green,
Sleep bed by bed, with the worm between?
For it's turn of the year and All Souls' night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.


And now they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: "Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!"
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year's on the turn, and it's All Souls' night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.


Till they say, as they hear us--poor dead, poor dead!--
"Just an hour of this, and our age-long bed--
Just a thrill of the old remembered pains
To kindle a flame in our frozen veins,
A touch, and a sight, and a floating apart,
As the chill of dawn strikes each phantom heart--
For it's turn of the year and All Souls' night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight."


And where should the living feel alive
But here in this wan white humming hive,
As the moon wastes down, and the dawn turns cold,
And one by one they creep back to the fold?
And where should a man hold his mate and say:
"One more, one more, ere we go their way"?
For the year's on the turn, and it's All Souls' night,
When the living can learn by the churchyard light.


And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, wee too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it's All Souls' night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away. . .


Not a very eventful Friday. I spent the morning writing a review of "The Best of Both Worlds, Part Two", then picked up younger son from school to take him to the orthodontist. He is getting braces on his lower teeth next month to go with the ones on his upper teeth, and he is not happy about this. I had thought there was a Halloween store right near the orthodontist, but it turned out that there wasn't, so we stopped at the mall near our house on the way home to find him a mask for Halloween (he chose one of those all-fabric ones that makes it look like you don't have a face) and I went to get my free 2 oz. Bath & Body Works body lotion, only to discover that they're not carrying Brown Sugar and Fig -- that's the third scent in a row I really liked that they've stopped making, and I can't stand any of their new heavy florals. I need a new body lotion.

The young residents of Middletown, Maryland made fabric statues of helpful people around town for the Main Street Scarecrow Contest.

Here, for instance, is a first grade class impression of a policeman.

This is a nurse, in front of a historic bank building.

And this, apparently, is how teachers dress in Middletown.

Apparently the locals are also aided by a leprechaun...

...a giant spider, a Santa Claus...

...and what seems to be a flying bat-dog, which might not be an impossible sight in Middletown.

This is the garden behind the Snallygaster, an art and jewelry store in Middletown named for the half-bird, half-reptile dragon creature said to live in the mountains of Frederick County, Maryland.

The Friday Five: When did you last...
1. ...scrounge for change (couch, ashtray, etc) to make a purchase?
Our change is in a bank in the kitchen till we take it to the machine in the bank to be counted and deposited, so while I've grabbed a few quarters here and there for parking or a vending machine, I don't remember when I last scrounged.
2. ...visit a dentist? September 22nd.
3. ...make a needed change to your life? When I told TrekToday that I wasn't going to keep writing news last spring. Unfortunately, I don't have a job to replace it yet.
4. ...decide on a complete menu well in advance of the evening meal? When my husband was out of town this spring and I was solely responsible for dinner.
5. ...spend part of the day (other than daily hygiene) totally/mostly naked? Since my kids' rooms are right next door to mine, it's been a long time!

Fannish 5: Name five songs that should be in a musical episode of your fandom.
All fandom musicals should be like "Once More With Feeling," the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, where the songs were original and written for the characters. That said, since Hercules: The Legendary Journeys regularly made excellent use of pop hits and I mostly watched Dawson's Creek for the soundtrack, here is my October Project soundtrack for Harry Potter...
1. "See With Different Eyes"
2. "Always A Place"
3. "It Is Time"
4. "Dark Time"
5. "Return To Me"

Watched the second episode of Crusoe, which made me happy in a number of ways -- the biggest being that even though the IMDb claimed that Sean Bean only appeared in the first two episodes, shown together as the series premiere, he was in this week's episode too! Even if I only get ten seconds of him, it will make me very happy if he keeps appearing! "Sacrifice" is more Indiana Jones than Pirates of the Caribbean but still quite enjoyable, aware of the race and gender issues with the source material and apparently trying to compensate by having Friday be a feminist as well as a genius. ("These people knew things," says Crusoe admirably of the tomb-builders. "Like how to slaughter women," adds Friday. "Says the cannibal king," retorts Crusoe.)

Also watched Sanctuary, didn't like the haunted-house storyline very much but then I never do...the acting's been better than the writing every week I've seen the show, and this one was no exception. Also, some backstory that doesn't recycle stuff we already know would be appreciated. I'm hoping it gets better as it goes, since SGA and BSG are going away in the near future.