Sunday, January 31, 2016

Poem for Sunday and Brookside Winter

The Buffy Sestina
By Jason Schneiderman

(The First Episode of the New Season, Before the Opening Credits.)

Buffy is upstairs sharpening her large collection of stakes
when her mother comes upstairs and says, “Would it be bad,
just this once, not to go out staking vampires again tonight?”
After all—she had just defeated an apocalyptic force! Time
for a break? Buffy never has time for a break. Angel gone,
her stakes sharp, she kisses her mom and hops out the window

into the backyard. Buffy is familiar with this small window
at the beginning of every season (school year), when her stakes
are enough to fight her battles, and whatever the big coming
evil will be—it hasn’t started to build yet. What big bad
will it be this season? She pulls her coat against the night
and there’s Willow! Her best friend! She certainly has time

for Willow! They walk, explicate the summer, say, “Time
to go back to school.” Suddenly, a vampire seizes this window
of relaxed defenses, and grabs off-guard Willow. Oh this night-
ly threat! Willow screams and resists. Buffy turns, her stake
at the ready. “Meet my friend, Mr. Pointy!” she says. Bad
bloodsucker, he lets Willow go. He wants to fight. He goes

at Buffy with everything, and Buffy (blue coat, boots) comes
back at him hard. The fight is oddly even. For a long time
(40 seconds, say), he gets in good blows. He hurts her bad,
she looks finished. She isn’t getting back up again. A doe
leaps into the cemetery. All are distracted. Willow makes a stake
from a broken bench piece and the vampire tries to run into the night.

But Xander arrives, blocks the exit with his own stake. This night
is going terribly now (for the vampire)! The vampire goes
around to a crypt and tries to run inside, but it takes time
to pry open the gates. Too much time; Xander almost stakes
the vamp, but he stops to quip, and the effort goes bad.
The vampire throws him hard into the boarded-up window

of the crypt. Willow runs over, pulls a board from the window
for a new stake. Buffy’s back up. Oh, what a luxury this night
is! Forever to fight just one, lone vampire. Xander’s bad-
inage soundtracks the fight. Willow lunges and misses, coming
close, but too far left. Buffy kicks the vampire in face, stake
brandished. He goes down, and she’s on top of him this time.

Buffy stakes the vampire. He’s dust. Whew! Wait. Bad. Crypts
don’t have windows. The night is heavy and dark. That took a long time!
What’s coming begins to come. Let’s unboard that window.


I had a bunch of chores to get done on Saturday morning, but by Saturday afternoon, I absolutely had to get out of the house -- someplace I could take a real walk, not the circles we've been making in the half-plowed neighborhood where we haven't gotten mail for the past two days. So we went to Brookside Gardens, which has a spring display in the conservatory and snow all over the grounds. We enjoyed the flowers and we walked on the paved paths around the frozen ponds!

On the way home, we stopped to do some shopping (I found a copy of Nasar's A Beautiful Mind -- with Russell Crowe on the cover -- for 50 cents at the library donated books sale) and had dinner watching Live from the Red Carpet and the SAG Awards, where pretty much everything I wanted to happen happened (I'm rooting for The Big Short for best picture at the Oscars, but since SAG gives Ensemble Cast instead and Mad Max wasn't nominated, Spotlight is very deserving.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Poem for Saturday, Basics Part One, Our Brand Is Crisis, Brookside Butterflies

Winter Landscape, With Rooks
By Sylvia Plath

Water in the millrace, through a sluice of stone,
plunges headlong into that black pond
where, absurd and out-of-season, a single swan
floats chaste as snow, taunting the clouded mind
which hungers to haul the white reflection down.

The austere sun descends above the fen,
an orange cyclops-eye, scorning to look
longer on this landscape of chagrin;
feathered dark in thought, I stalk like a rook,
brooding as the winter night comes on.

Last summer's reeds are all engraved in ice
as is your image in my eye; dry frost
glazes the window of my hurt; what solace
can be struck from rock to make heart's waste
grow green again? Who'd walk in this bleak place?


It has been an upsetting week one way or another for almost everyone I know. Our longtime neighbor died Thursday morning after a brief struggle with cancer. He gave Adam his first job, gardening and working around the house (he and his wife run an AirBnb). Friday at least was fairly quiet, though we had a snow squall in the morning that made us nervous for the five or so minutes it was really coming down before it stopped just as abruptly.

I took a walk in the much colder air after the front came through, posted a review of Voyager's still-frustrating "Basics, Part One", had dinner with my parents, and watched Our Brand Is Crisis which is about as mediocre as its reviews suggest -- acting fine but screenplay all over the place, some parts too much exposition and some parts in desperate need of more explaining, not enough humor. From Brookside:

Friday, January 29, 2016

Poem for Friday and Botanic Garden Cacti

To the Saguaro Cactus Tree in the Desert Rain
By James Wright

I had no idea the elf owl
Crept into you in the secret
Of night.

I have torn myself out of many bitter places
In America, that seemed

Tall and green-rooted in mid-noon.
I wish I were the spare shadow
Of the roadrunner, I wish I were
The honest lover of the diamondback
And the tear the tarantula weeps.
I had no idea you were so tall
And blond in moonlight.
I got thirsty in the factories,
And I hated the brutal dry suns there,
So I quit.

You were the shadow
Of a hallway
In me.

I have never gone through that door,
But the elf owl’s face
Is inside me.

You are not one of the gods.
Your green arms lower and gather me.
I am an elf owl’s shadow, a secret
Member of your family.


It has been a shitty day. A friend died, and I heard about two other deaths involving people much too young, both friends of friends. Plus it was the 30th anniversary of the Challenger accident and I should not have watched news related to that. I'm trying to remember what happened besides -- I started working on a Voyager review, I went to get cat litter and stopped to get some comfort food for the family of the friend who died, I watched The 100 and Elementary. Oh, and we saw a bunny out in the snow, and I won tickets to an advance screening of Eddie the Eagle with Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton, both of which must be labeled bright spots. Cacti at the US Botanic Garden:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Poem for Thursday and Botanic Garden Trains

By Thomas Hood

There is a silence where hath been no sound,
   There is a silence where no sound may be,
   In the cold grave—under the deep deep sea,
Or in the wide desert where no life is found,
Which hath been mute, and still must sleep profound;
   No voice is hush’d—no life treads silently,
   But clouds and cloudy shadows wander free,
That never spoke, over the idle ground:
But in green ruins, in the desolate walls
   Of antique palaces, where Man hath been,
Though the dun fox, or wild hyena, calls,
   And owls, that flit continually between,
Shriek to the echo, and the low winds moan,
There the true Silence is, self-conscious and alone.


I got out of the house on Wednesday! In a car! On a road! Admittedly it was just to the food store, because we were out of bagels and dangerously low on milk and only had three varieties of cat food, but that's the furthest I'd been from the house since Friday when the snow started falling. We also took a longer walk than we've managed previous days this week, though the paths into the woods are still covered with snow and a lot of the sidewalks are blocked by giant mounds of snow that may still be there in March. Speaking of winter, here's the holiday train display at the US Botanic Gardens:

We caught up on Supergirl, which was so focused on man-pain that it really depressed me, and watched Arrow, which was focused on Felicity and therefore made me happy though I found it superficial and unrealistic. In other entertainment news, I expressed my disgust with the casting of Joseph Fiennes as Michael Jackson in strong enough terms to get me defriended by someone I've known on LiveJournal for years; apparently mentioning the existence of white privilege is the equivalent of calling someone a racist and James Bond must always be white. I stand by everything I said!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Poem for Wednesday and South Mountain Cows

The Cow
By Robert Louis Stevenson

The friendly cow all red and white,
I love with all my heart:
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.

She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day;

And blown by all the winds that pass
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.


Temperatures reached nearly 50 degrees on Tuesday, which mostly meant that the vehicles already dug out could drive on roads with fewer slippery spots than on Monday. The cars that were not dug out are nearly as stuck as they were after the storm ended, and the sidewalks are still surrounded by a foot and a half of snow on either side. If you're craving adventure or excitement, I had little of either, though I am now caught up on Arrow and The 100 (which I am so glad is back -- so many awesome women).

Our evening involved a walk and conversations with neighbors, spaghetti for dinner, Agent Carter, a kitten who knocked down a beaded Renfaire crown that has hung from my mirror for probably a decade then pretended that it decided to leap onto the floor of its own free will, and The Flash, which we were excited to find from last week on demand -- huzzah, Verizon finally has The CW shows! -- before seeing the new episode when it aired. The South Mountain Creamery cows and calves we saw earlier this month:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Poem for Tuesday, Macbeth, Shaun the Sheep, Snow Deer

Poem Excluding Fiction
By Noah Falck

We live in the most fortunate of times. And
who's to blame? Our moods like the four
seasons in a tinted window overlooking a
bank robbery. Everyone is raising children
on cable television, on leashes, on the slot
machines that have become our elegies. We
live other lives in high school, college, on the
porch reading the obituaries. Say I miss you
into the mirror while shaving, brushing teeth,
plucking something meant to grow forever.


I may eventually get more than an eighth of a mile away from my house, but Monday was not that day. We finished digging out the car, and I did laundry and folded it while watching the extremely enjoyable Shaun the Sheep, and in the evening we took a brief walk around the next cul-de-sac over to see if we could see any of the wildlife we'd spotted earlier from the kitchen windows (four deer, several squirrels, lots of birds, but the bunnies were all hiding). But that's as far away as I got.

We also watched the Fassbender-Cotillard Macbeth, which is excellent -- a few changes in the drama that I wasn't crazy about, but the acting is wonderful and the setting is interesting (not Glamis Castle but a very sparse structure before he's king). Forced to choose between Supergirl and The X-Files, I went with the latter and was not at all sorry -- I hadn't realized how much I'd missed it, crack government conspiracies and all. Spot the squirrel with the deer and the big snow drifts:

Monday, January 25, 2016

Poem for Monday, X-Files, Snowed In

Snow in the Suburbs
By Thomas Hardy

Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.

A sparrow enters the tree,
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eye
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.


My Sunday was about snow, football, and television, so I will be brief and boring. We had a lot of digging out to do, which was enlivened by getting to talk to a whole bunch of neighbors doing the same, but my back is sore and a lot is going to have to be dug again tomorrow because of where the plows pushed snow and how low the temperatures are tonight. I had no passionate feelings about the NFL championships games, but it's a pity Arizona didn't even seem to show up.

At least, because the score was so skewed, I was not at all sorry to switch over and watch Galavant, which did a Grease parody that was hilarious and brought back the unicorn, plus finally gave Isabella better lines, so that's all good. As for The X-Files, it is such a pleasure to see Mulder, Scully, and Skinner again, but the alien conspiracy theories seem so anachronistic and retro now that I snickered inappropriately a few times. Some pics of snow, cats, and me posing with both: