Thursday, March 31, 2016

Poem for Thursday and WB Studio Tour

Whispering, then listening close (from The Poem of the Sufi Way)
By Umar Ibn al-Farid
Translated by Th. Emil Homerin

Whispering, then listening close
     from the vision of one
          casting away his all, instantly,
               out of an omnipotent hand.

Thus I read the knowledge of the scholars
     in a single word,
          and I reveal all the worlds to me
               with a simple glance.

I hear the many voices
     of those who pray in every tongue
          in a space of time
               shorter than a flash.

And I bring before me
     what before had been
          too far away to bear,
               in a blink of my eye.

I inhale the bouquet of gardens
     and the sweet scents clinging to the skirts
          of the four winds,
               in a simple breath.

I survey the far horizons round me
     in a momentary thought,
          and cross the seven heavens
               with a single step.


I'm having one of those weeks where I can't keep up with things because the weather is too nice and I keep having to be outside. I watched the Voyager episode I need to review this week ("Future's End Part One" -- one of my absolute favorites) but I didn't get much writing done because of bunnies and flowers, and I didn't fold any laundry but the towels. Paul had birthday coupons for both The Silver Diner and Best Buy, so we continued our week of Eating All The Things and bought a replacement mobile charger for the car since ours is apparently fried.

I almost feel guilty about how much I'm enjoying Arrow this season since I didn't like it during the seasons people I know thought it was good, but the episodes at the moment are more about the interesting women than the man-pain. As opposed to Nashville, where I hesitate to talk about man-pain since it's mostly boy-pain -- I keep waiting for the adults to act like adults but they're pretty much all stuck in adolescence, except Daphne who's stuck in childhood though she at least has the excuse of being a child. From our visit to the Warner Bros lot in L.A.:

The faux elevated train in front of "County General Hospital" that's often used in movies set in Chicago.

The courthouse facade was still decorated for Hail, Caesar! when we were visiting.

This interior scaffolding from a building in the part of "New York" being set up for Gilmore Girls filming appeared to have been used in this week's episode of Supergirl...

...and these stalactites were right outside the soundstage on which Supergirl is filmed, though the red light wasn't on when we went by.

Driving through the section where props and costumes are constructed, this was the best shot I could get of one of the lanterns from the stern of the Black Pearl.

Inside the extraordinary, massive prop warehouse, which goes many floors up -- we only saw a very small section.

Here I am in the prop warehouse with J.R. Ewing's tombstone from Dallas.

There were Batman v. Superman sets, props, and promos on display all over the lot. Here are the costumes worn by Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Henry Cavill as Clark Kent, and Antje Traue as Faora-Ul in prequel Man of Steel.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Poem for Wednesday and Sakura Weekend

Body Beautiful
By Dick Jones

I have become my bones.
I wear my skin
like a shield of leaves,
like wing cases. I am safe
here at my core.

My mother grooms herself.
She turns and turns before mirrors,
buffing the peach, the downy,
the over-ripe as if
you can hide behind beauty forever.

My father watches apples
falling in October. No-one
will gather them now.
He dreams the old dream
of fruit that lies unharvested.

My lover drinks. His eyes
burn at me across
the beaker’s rim. ‘What
is the nature of this journey
that she needs no flesh, no comfort?’

I have become my bones.
They are a cage for the dust
that is my element.
I diminish. It is cold
here at my core.


I had a very busy but nice Tuesday, lots of work but also lots of fun stuff. The weather continues to be gorgeous, we had several bunnies playing out among the tulips and hyacinths that are suddenly everywhere, and I got to have dinner with Karen, whom I met at Tara Thai and hung out with at Washingtonian -- I was mostly good in Charming Charlie and stayed away from the temptations of It'Sugar.

We watched this week's Tuesday superheroes -- we're back to too much Daisy on Agents of SHIELD though I mostly liked the writing this week, and The Flash flashback characters were nice to see but it feels like to soon. The James Corden Carpool Karaoke special was very fun but since it wasn't all new material, I wish he'd included "Somewhere After the Late Show." Cherry blossoms from the weekend:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Poem for Tuesday, Eye in the Sky, More Cherry Blossoms

Sakura Park
By Rachel Wetzsteon

The park admits the wind,
the petals lift and scatter

like versions of myself I was on the verge
of becoming; and ten years on

and ten blocks down I still can’t tell
whether this dispersal resembles

a fist unclenching or waving goodbye.
But the petals scatter faster,

seeking the rose, the cigarette vendor,
and at least I’ve got by pumping heart

some rules of conduct: refuse to choose
between turning pages and turning heads

though the stubborn dine alone. Get over
"getting over": dark clouds don’t fade

but drift with ever deeper colors.
Give up on rooted happiness

(the stolid trees on fire!) and sweet reprieve
(a poor park but my own) will follow.

There is still a chance the empty gazebo
will draw crowds from the greater world.

And meanwhile, meanwhile’s far from nothing:
the humming moment, the rustle of cherry trees.


Cheryl and I had vague plans to see Batman v. Superman together, but the weather was so gorgeous on Monday that Paul decided to take the afternoon off and we went back downtown to see the cherry blossoms under blue skies. It was much less crowded than Easter Sunday and the water levels were very high from the rain the night before, which also apparently signaled the trees to start losing their blossoms, because although the flowers were still very thick, there were also petals blowing everywhere! We saw birds and squirrels and a guy fishing, then throwing the bass back into the water. Security seemed high, with several military helicopters circling the Tidal Basin, and we must have returned to our car at L'Enfant Plaza at the perfect moment because a shooting at the Capitol caused the shutdown of many government buildings.

We ate lunch at a picnic table near the one we'd eaten at the day before, came home to feed the cats, then went to the mall where Eye in the Sky won our vote for movie we actually really wanted to see. It is excellent and devastating, not just because it's Alan Rickman's last live performance (Colin Firth produced). I'd had the impression that the film was about a military team trying to decide whether to carry out a drone strike without being sure that there were terrorists in the building, but it's actually much worse than that, and the performances (Rickman, Mirren, Abdi, dozens of others) are exceptional. I can't speak to the military realism of the details but it's very upsetting. Afterward we went to the new Korean BBOPQ in the mall eatery for dinner and had Cold Stone Batman ice cream for dessert. I liked the Flash-Supergirl crossover but Blindspot is not making total sense.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Poem for Monday and National Cherry Blossom Festival

Sakura Tanka
By Yosano Akiko
Translated by Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson

Kiyomizu Temple's
picturesque across Gion:
cherry blossoms in
moonlight, these passing faces,
every one so beautiful!

Where gentle spring winds
scatter pale cherry blossoms
near the pagoda,
on the wings of mourning doves
I shall write my poems.


We got up early on Easter Sunday to go downtown to see the cherry blossoms before everyone in the area who'd gone to church decided to head to the Tidal Basin too. It was overcast and cool, which may not be the most scenic way to see the blossoms but made it a pleasure to walk around from the Washington Monument past the Jefferson Memorial with a quick stop at the George Mason Memorial (being a Virginian, he gets more magnolias than cherry blossoms) and a visit to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial as we circled back toward the National Mall. We ate lunch at a picnic table while the early afternoon crowds began to swell.

As you can see, the tulips in the Flower Library were mostly in bloom, and there were daffodils, hyacinths, more tulips, and even some remaining snowdrops in flower beds in front of the Smithsonian museums and beside the George Washington Parkway, which also has redbuds in flower along the road. We were pretty tired when we got home in the late afternoon, after a stop at the food store, so we watched basketball (I suppose I'm rooting for Syracuse, though I don't care whether the eventual winner is Villanova as long as it's not UNC or Oklahoma) and this week's Madam Secretary (I'd vote for Elizabeth over all current candidates) and Elementary (ditto Joan).

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Poem for Sunday and Spring at Brookside

After the Winter
By Claude McKay

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves
    And against the morning’s white
The shivering birds beneath the eaves
    Have sheltered for the night,
We’ll turn our faces southward, love,
    Toward the summer isle
Where bamboos spire to shafted grove
    And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will seek the quiet hill
    Where towers the cotton tree,
And leaps the laughing crystal rill,
    And works the droning bee.
And we will build a cottage there
    Beside an open glade,
With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,
    And ferns that never fade.


Quickie because we're watching The Ten Commandments which ABC decided we needed before Easter even though Passover is nearly a month away. We picked up Adam and Christine and went to meet Paul's parents for lunch at Rasoi, since birthday celebrations should go on for at least half the weekend. Adam had homework to do in the afternoon, but we went with Clair and Cinda to Brookside Gardens, where there were cherry blossoms in bloom, daffodils all around the woods, and many frogs mating noisily!

We were still stuffed from lunch when we got home, so we kind of snacked instead of properly having dinner while we played with the cats and watched NCAA basketball (no regrets that Villanova beat Kansas, though if UNC wins the tournament, I reserve the right to take that back). Daniel went to his first caucus in Washington, which sounds like quite an experience -- I've always lived in primary states. Now I must go listen to Charlton Heston fulminate and try not secretly to root for Yul Brynner...

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Poem for Saturday, Sacred Ground, Man of Steel, Tillman Garden

Appellate Jurisdiction
By Marianne Moore

Fragments of sin are a part of me.
New brooms shall sweep clean the heart of me.
     Shall they? Shall they?

When this light life shall have passed away,
God shall redeem me, a castaway.
     Shall He? Shall He?


I accidentally overslept on account of being jetlagged and falling back asleep after a kitten woke me by nibbling on my leg at 5:30 in the morning. So I didn't finish a bunch of things I wanted to get done, including seeing what I could salvage from the laptop I need to replace and uploading photos, but I did finish my review of Voyager's "Sacred Ground", which was my must-complete job.

We picked up my parents and drove to College Park for a belated dinner for Paul's birthday with Adam and Christine at Plato's Diner. Then we came home, saw that Virginia was winning by double digits, and watched Man of Steel with Cheryl to get in the mood for Batman v. Superman (which I plan to see, #SadBenAffleck or no #SadBenAffleck). From the Tillman Water Reclamation Plant:

Friday, March 25, 2016

Poem for Friday and Kenwood Cherry Blossoms

The Rainbow
By Charlotte Richardson

Soft falls the shower, the thunders cease!
And see the messenger of peace
      Illumes the eastern skies;
Blest sign of firm unchanging love!
While others seek the cause to prove,
      That bids thy beauties rise.

My soul, content with humbler views,
Well pleased admires thy varied hues,
      And can with joy behold
Thy beauteous form, and wondering gaze
Enraptured on thy mingled rays
      Of purple, green, and gold.

Enough for me to deem divine
The hand that paints each glowing line;
      To think that thou art given
A transient gleam of that bright place
Where Beauty owns celestial grace,
      A faint display of Heaven!


Thursday was Paul's birthday! It started pretty low-key, since I had a dentist appointment before lunch, but we worked together in the afternoon -- at least, he worked in the same room as me while I watched "Sacred Ground," the Voyager episode I need to review this week -- and in the late afternoon we went to Kenwood, the high-end Bethesda neighborhood whose streets are lined with more than a thousand cherry trees, which are currently nearing peak just as the trees around the Tidal Basin downtown are doing. It's much less crowded in Kenwood and a pleasure to walk!

Since we had a coupon for a birthday meal, we went for dinner to Not Your Average Joe's, where we split the wonderful butternut squash flatbread with maple syrup, after which I had the even more fantastic almond crusted goat cheese salad with candied nuts and raspberries, half of which I couldn't finish, particularly since we also split the Peanut Butter Thing for dessert. We came home for the Maryland-Kansas game, which sadly the Terps did not win. At least Oregon (the team of Paul's youngest brother, whom we spoke to earlier) is about to knock Duke out as well!