Friday, August 31, 2012

Placeholder for Friday

We had Adam's Back to School Night tonight so I am behind on everything. I spent most of the morning working on my TrekToday review for Friday, since I'm going to pick up Daniel for Labor Day weekend and Renfaires on Friday afternoon (probably in traffic). Paul was working from home, so we went out to lunch together at Lebanese Taverna -- I dragged him into Tiara Galleries for the Vera Bradley launch too, chatted with a friend from high school who works there, and bought one of the new bags which is the perfect size for a DSLR with telephoto lens, a Kindle, a mobile phone, and a wallet.

Then we came home, I took a walk, gave Adam our leftovers, took a shower, and went off to the high school for a somewhat chaotic back to school night which the principal actually tried to dismiss after the second-to-last class (not sure if she couldn't wait to get home to see Mitt Romney or the last Ravens preseason game). The teachers seemed fine; he likes the studio art and photo teachers from previous years, the world history and English teachers are both energetic young women, his math teacher is very mellow, and his Foundations of Technology teacher -- a required county course that nobody likes -- was an intern at the National Aquarium who rescues orphaned baby squirrels!

Stewart/Colbert are distracting me (I couldn't bear to watch Romney tell the same lies as Ryan) so I just have one photo, a leftover from Longwood Gardens' Munro light installation last month:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Poem for Thursday, Deer, A Dangerous Method

No Alternatives
By Rachel Barenblat

I don't want to write about the girl
    killed by an Israeli bulldozer while
        trying to protect a Palestinian home.

Don't want to write about mentioning it
    in casual conversation and finding myself
        weeping uncontrollably into my dishtowel.

Don't want to write how politics
    have infected every email list I'm on,
        how poets across the nation are arguing

whether those who voted Green
    in the year 2000 got us into this mess
        instead of debating the merits of form

and free verse like we used to. I thought
    those arguments were dull, repetitive, but
        today I'd pay to see my inbox overflowing

with impassioned pleas for a return
    to iambic pentameter, diatribes about
        how "women's poems" differ from whatever

the alternatives are. I don't know what
    the alternatives are. I keep lending out
        that article about healing through "dark" emotions,

the one that says anger and sorrow
    aren't the problem, the problem is
        when we stamp and tamp them down

so the pressure of our denial shapes
    the slicing stone-edges of despair, but
        I can't see the darkness around us lifting.

I've always said hopelessness
    isn't an option, if we don't believe
        in tikkun olam we might as well be dead, but

I don't know how to get through this.
    This is not a poem about "them" or what
        they're doing to "us," this is not a poem about

politics or regime change, this isn't even
    a poem about the horror of Iraqis hissing
        that the mothers of the American soldiers

will weep tears of blood, or the shame
    of Americans braying that those people
     are animals, not like us, don't respect life.

This is a poem about forestalling despair
    by taking a breath and diving as far as I can,
        wishing that I could surface in a kinder world.


From The Velveteen Rabbi, which totally resonated with me today. I could not watch any RNC coverage except on The Daily Show -- thank God for Jon Stewart, remarking on things like GOP attempts at banning all gun restrictions and banning women from combat because the battlefield is the one place women shouldn't have guns. I can't even talk about the anti-choice, homophobic, flat-out racist platform without wanting to smash someone's face in.

Adam had his first cross country meet of the year on Wednesday and did very well -- well enough to go to the invitational relays -- so that made it a good day, though it was otherwise pretty uneventful for me! Political coverage was literally making me nauseous at times so I stuck to news about rare sand cats born in Israel -- well, thanks to Daniel I did read Obama's Reddit AMA -- and did relaxing things like work and folding laundry! My favorite line of the day came from Futurama's season finale, in which a shot of the New Jersey Turnpike revealed a warning sign: "Highway Jammed with Broken Heroes On a Last Chance Power Drive"!

My laundry folding movie was A Dangerous Method, which I watched with trepidation because Cronenberg is sometimes so violent and misogynistic that I can't finish his films. This one was quite good, though Mortensen and Knightley both could have used a few more weeks working on their accents. I didn't know anything about Sabina Spielrein until I Googled her midway through the movie and it was worth watching just because I now know who this extraordinary woman was, though unsurprisingly the film treated her nearly as badly as Jung and Freud did (it sure sounds like they both stole her ideas and published them as their own).

I was surprised at how much I laughed -- at Jung thinking Freud is too fixated on sex and sexual terms and this causes rejection of his work by patients and doctors alike, at Spielrein saying "Suicide! Interplanetary travel!" when asked her career interests, at Freud smoking his cigar feverishly while listening to Jung talk about his sex dreams, at Jung being completely oblivious to his money and privilege, his first-class staterooms, the fact that he's Protestant whereas Freud is Jewish in a Vienna that holds Jews in suspicion.

But of course Cronenberg has to exploit Spielrein -- perhaps I should say Knightley, since it's her nipples on display -- presenting female sexual disorders as titillating and showing two orgasmic spanking scenes even while his characters are telling audiences to take female sexuality seriously. Jung lies to Freud about his affair with her, presents her as a hysteric, and when he is forced to confess the truth, Freud writes Spielrein a breezy "sorry" rather than considering the depth of damage that may have been done to her (the film's opinion is that being screwed by Jung is part of Spielrein's path to self-knowledge and therefore a good thing).

Some of this summer's deer in the neighborhood (photos taken with my mobile phone, excuse the quality please):

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Poem for Wednesday and Maryland Terrapins

How to See Deer
By Philip Booth

Forget roadside crossings.
Go nowhere with guns.
Go elsewhere your own way,

lonely and wanting. Or
stay and be early:
next to deep woods

inhabit old orchards.
All clearings promise.
Sunrise is good,

and fog before sun.
Expect nothing always;
find your luck slowly.

Wait out the windfall.
Take your good time
to learn to read ferns;

make like a turtle:
downhill toward slow water.
Instructed by heron,

drink the pure silence.
Be compassed by wind.
If you quiver like aspen

trust your quick nature:
let your ear teach you
which way to listen.

You've come to assume
protective color; now
colors reform to

new shapes in your eye.
You've learned by now
to wait without waiting;

as if it were dusk
look into light falling:
in deep relief

things even out. Be
careless of nothing. See
what you see.


It was a fairly quiet Tuesday, work and laundry and catching up on phone calls; Wednesday and Thursday involve carpools and the first cross country meet of the season and Back To School night, so those will be much more hectic. We did get to see Sean Bean's episode of Accused, "Tracie's Story," which is depressing but excellent and Bean is extraordinary -- not primarily as his transvestite persona but as the self-confessed most boring man in the world, the high school teacher who recites Wordsworth and Tennyson to disinterested students.

I have had a request for more Kermit the Frog pictures on Maryland's campus, though sadly I only know of one other than the one I posted the other day -- the Fear the Turtle statue made over to look like Kermit. Testudo himself has been around since 1932, when the football coach suggested the diamondback terrapin as the school's mascot, for which I will always be grateful. The original 1933 bronze terrapin sculpture may not be as glamorous as the Kermit bench but has been abducted by Johns Hopkins and UVA students and has many imitators:

The original Testudo has been filled with cement to avoid turtle-napping and now resides in front of McKeldin Library...

...while he has a newer twin in the Stamp Student Union. Both have had their noses rubbed for luck so many times that they're shiny.

The university commissioned "Fear the Turtle" statues for its anniversary for artists to decorate. This one is on the lower level of the student union...

...while this one is on the floor above, just inside the main entrance.

This very sparkly state pride turtle is inside the school of public health...

...and this super-shiny one is by the College Park Airport near the Aviation Museum.

Jim Henson was a Maryland alumnus, so there are several Kermits around campus, including this Fear the Turtle version.

The Terps mascot appears at sports events and student recruitment panels alike.

And here, in a mural from the now-closed California Tortilla on Route 1, is a very proud Testudo painting.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5x7 Folded Card

Classic Navy 5x7 folded card
Send custom cards from Shutterfly for St. Patrick's Day.
View the entire collection of cards.

Poem for Tuesday, County Fair, County Schools

By Paisley Rekdal

How horrible it is, how horrible
that Cronenberg film where Goldblum's trapped

with a fly inside his Material
Transformer: bits of the man emerging

gooey, many-eyed; bits of the fly
worrying that his agent's screwed him–

I almost flinch to see the body later
that's left its fly in the corner, I mean

the fly that's left its body, recalling too
that medieval nightmare, Resurrection,

in which each soul must scurry
to rejoin the plush interiors of its flesh,

pushing through, marrying indiscriminately
because Heaven won't take what's only half:

one soul blurring forever
into another body.

If we can't know the boundaries between ourselves
in life, what will they be in death,

corrupted steadily by maggot,
rain or superstition, by affection

that depends on memory to survive?
People should keep their hands to themselves

for the remainder of the flight: who needs
some stranger's waistline, joint

problems or insecurities? Darling,
what I love in you I pray will always stay

the hell away from me.


It was the first day of school for Adam (Daniel doesn't actually start classes till Wednesday). I was awoken early not only by son but by Cinnamon, who was distressed at all the furniture rearranging and people disappearing, so I am unfocused, and an overseas friend lost her mother, who was in her 90s and not well but still strong in memory and opinion and who had seen most of the last century, so I am sad. I don't have a lot to report for myself besides seeing my mom, local animals and boring chores.

Adam got home late after cross country, reasonably happy with his classes though annoyed by the county-required Foundations of Technology class which is reported to be horribly dull, and concerned about how much work Chinese will be this year (he's also taking AP World History and AP photo/studio art classes which are of course his favorites). He brought us lots of paperwork to sign. We watched this week's Warehouse 13, not my favorite story though I love the guest star. Here are a few more county fair animal photos; people in the Gulf, stay safe!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Poem for Monday and Dorm Decorating

Without Ceremony
By Catherine Pierce

Once, many skies ago, we drove across the ache
of Kansas straight to the base of a large mountain.
We were nearly engaged. We were close to knowing
each other. At the peak I couldn't breathe and I
was elated. A fear with a name and I named it. Hypoxia.
Asphyxia. Things we might call a daughter. Later,
we played on pinball machines from the '30s.
There was a natural soda spring. I still can't explain it.
Something else I loved. There were animals
that popped from the mountainsides, built of curled horns
and indifference. Our raft nearly wrapped
around a boulder. At the take-out point, I jumped in
and almost drowned from the weight of water
ballooning my jacket. I didn't drown. Neither
did you. I loved that, too. I learned that gin
comes from the juniper tree. Could we name
a daughter Juniper? There was an early evening the color
of whiskey, all the trees sending out their air
of clean and quiet, six hummingbirds spinning
their wings around us on our cabin porch. On a hike
too hard, lightning flashed. The ground growled.
Here, too, I thought we might die. Then we didn't.
That night the primavera had just been invented.
We were toasting syrah to luck and odds. Outside,
the night dropped its blanket of lake water.
But inside a fire burned. It was meant to be
rustic. It succeeded, or we let it. Something
always worried me, my fear a constant shark,
but there it stopped circling, grew feathers.
It nested in the rafters, suddenly a quiet starling.
One night we ate chili rellenos. One night we drove
far out. We were lost in a strange neighborhood.
Meteors blitzed over the dome of sky without ceremony.
You held my head in your hands. We stood there.
We stood and heard lowing. We stood and heard wind.


I had a very family-focused Sunday. We had brunch at my parents' house with most of my local extended family -- my cousins Stephanie, Gene, and Debbie, their cousins Jane and Bob, and Paul's parents, who are finally back from traveling all over the country visiting relatives. There was lots of food -- Adam, who was just back from running, ate some of everything, I think -- and I hadn't seen any of the extended family since spring, when we had two family funerals in a short time, so although my younger cousins were all back in school and couldn't be there, it was very nice to see everyone.

Then we came home, picked up Adam's friend who had agreed to help us carry heavy items in exchange for dinner, packed up the van, and took Daniel to College Park to move in for the fall semester. His roommate had arrived earlier in the day, so after we got everything upstairs in the intermittent rain -- not that I'm complaining, as one of the aforementioned younger cousins is trying to get out of New Orleans ahead of Isaac -- the guys got equipment to bunk the beds, moved around the desks, and started setting up their equally elaborate computer configurations. Only later did Daniel realize he forgot to pack his fall clothing.

As promised, we took Adam's friend to Plaza Azteca for dinner, where we had more food than we needed after brunch and saw a rainbow out the window while the storm cleared out. Having helped his brother, Adam rearranged his own bedroom furniture in preparation for starting school on Monday. We watched Puss In Boots, which was entertaining -- I liked it better than the last Shrek movie -- particularly the visuals (Vasquez Rocks! Bryce Canyon!) though I'd have appreciated slightly less stereotypical female characters or at least some explanation of everyone's accents!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Poem for Sunday and UMCP Campus

High Flight
By John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark, or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.


Rest in peace, Neil Armstrong.

While Adam was finishing his summer internship at Glen Echo, we took Daniel to College Park to pick up his keys and start moving his things into his dorm. His roommate won't arrive until tomorrow, and we're having a family gathering with my cousins in the morning, so we figured we'd leave the heavy lifting for tomorrow when Adam and a friend can help carry things. But we wanted to get the bed made and the bulky items stashed.

Adam's girlfriend, who has been out of town for a week, came over for dinner -- we brought in Vince & Dominic's pizza since Daniel has complained he can only get mediocre pizza in at school -- then we watched Tower Heist after going through a long list of On Demand movies to see if we could find something all four of us wanted to see. It was funnier than I expected from the reviews -- predictable, but well cast and the actors seemed to be having fun!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Poem for Saturday, National Aquarium, The Search, Henry V

Arcturus is his other name
By Emily Dickinson

Arcturus is his other name—
I'd rather call him Star.
It's very mean of Science
To go and interfere!

I slew a worm the other day—
A Savant passing by
Murmured Resurgam—Centipede!
Oh Lord—how frail are we!

I pull a flower from the woods—
A monster with a glass
Computes the stamens in a breath—
And has her in a class!

Whereas I took the Butterfly
Aforetime in my hat—
He sits erect in Cabinets—
The Clover bells forgot.

What once was Heaven is Zenith now—
Where I proposed to go
When Time's brief masquerade was done
Is mapped and charted too.

What if the poles should frisk about
And stand upon their heads!
I hope I'm ready for the worst—
Whatever prank betides!

Perhaps the Kingdom of Heaven's changed—
I hope the Children there
Won't be new fashioned when I come—
And laugh at me—and stare—

I hope the Father in the skies
Will lift his little girl—
Old fashioned—naught—everything—
Over the stile of Pearl.


Paul took Friday off from work so that we could go to Baltimore, whose Inner Harbor is currently encircled in fences for the Grand Prix next week. We went first to the Maryland Science Center to see the Beavers IMAX, which is excellent (and not about what you're hoping, as I told older son, hahaha) -- it follows a pair of young beavers as they build a dam and raise a family, filmed in Alberta in a gorgeous part of the Canadian Rockies. I did not realize that beavers were so chatty with one another, nor that they stayed active all winter. Then we went to Harborplace for lunch since older son has wanted Subway for two weeks, though we have offered him all sorts of more glamorous restaurants.

Then we walked around the harbor to the National Aquarium, where we met Hufflepants, since our main objective was to see the Wings in the Water exhibit before the aquarium tears it down to build a new reef exhibit. Sea turtle Calypso and the zebra sharks will be returning, and a couple of rays and bonnethead sharks have been moved into the big open ocean tank, but the rest of the rays and fish are being sent to other aquariums and it looks like the big open center of the aquarium will be gone, which makes me very sad. Divers were feeding the animals, so we got to see lots of sea turtle and ray antics, plus we went to visit the puffins when they were being fed as well.

We had dinner with my parents and reconnected with younger son who didn't go with us, since he had work in the morning, cross country in the afternoon, and driver's ed in the evening. I posted my review of both parts of DS9's "The Search" and we spent the evening watching The Hollow Crown's Henry V, just as well acted as the first three; the scenes that make the French out to be villainous have largely been trimmed, so Henry seems to have more of a moral dilemma about the ethics of warfare to secure a crown than in most productions I've seen. Again Hiddleston is terrific.