Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Poem for Tuesday, X-Men: Apocalypse, Annmarie Gardens

Tell all the truth but tell it slant
By Emily Dickinson

Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —


I'm typing this in Daniel's room where Adam is currently packing for his trip to Texas, where he'll spend two months at an REU at Texas State. Earlier today we went to Minerva with him and Christine, then went to see X-Men: Apocalypse, which I enjoyed though didn't adore -- it has some lovely elements (Quicksilver, hero worship of Mystique, Charles and Erik never shutting up about each other despite attempts to give each a gratuitous heterosexual love interest) but most of the female characters spent a ridiculous amount of time waiting for men to tell them what to do and some aspects of the plot are just silly. Still, it's a huge improvement on The Last Stand!

We had dinner with my parents so they could see Adam -- Mom had Memorial Day "USA" cake -- then we came home and, while Adam did laundry, we all watched Hail Caesar which is now On Demand. I thought it might seem less interesting on a second viewing but it's funnier and some aspects seem more on target than the first time, plus after having recently been at Vasquez Rocks and taken the Warner Bros Studio Tour, it was really fun to see so many of the locations used in the film (the WB courthouse was still dressed for this movie when we were out there). Now he is packing, so I am posting these photos of animals from Annmarie Garden's festival last summer, some real, some art!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Poem for Memorial Day, A Knight's Tale, Lewis Ginter Flowers

Dirge for Two Veterans
By Walt Whitman

   The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finished Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
   Down a new-made double grave.

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
   Immense and silent moon.

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-keyed bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they’re flooding,
   As with voices and with tears.

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
   Strikes me through and through.

   For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropped together,
   And the double grave awaits them.)

   Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o’er the pavement quite has faded,
   And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumined,
(‘Tis some mother’s large transparent face,
   In heaven brighter growing.)

   O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
   What I have I also give you.

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
   My heart gives you love.


We spent most of Sunday in Hanover with Paul's parents, having brought up traditional Memorial Day picnic food (meat and veggie hot dogs, potato and macaroni salad, fruit, blueberry pie). After eating, we Skyped or telephoned a bunch of relatives. Our niece Maddy, Paul's middle brother's daughter, is coming to stay with us in July, so we talked to her, and briefly to her dad and my parents and older son.

Son's girlfriend came over when we got home, arriving while we were watching the Memorial Day Concert on PBS. Afterward, having discovered that she had never seen A Knight's Tale, we watched that and it remains pretty thoroughly a delight even if seeing Heath Ledger will always make me a little bit sad. Here are some photos from Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens last year that I'm only just getting around to posting:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Poem for Sunday, Money Monster, Equilibrium, Brookside

You Make the Culture
By Amy King

The words became librarians, custodians of people
I looked for on the bridge.
I forgot my own face.
I read the book backwards, and
I painted your name in lace
(I drink only the milk of script as beer).
I dislocate all gallery aesthetics,
I carry keys for Baltimore and
Go where no one is my name.
I wish I could sculpt a healing street
from a blanket of guns. The way the sun drops
behind a one-armed cop & we default
to believing in voices. This is the trough of sleep
we draw from. Even gravity works at night.
If I pull your speech on the carpet of impossibility,
will you speak this immediate need for movement?
The immediate need of not drowning in public?
I will walk with the sharks of our pigments
if that’s what inconclusive data requires,
until we leave rooms that hold us apart.
What you see as a small minority, I see
as closer to liberatory. Nothing comes from the center
that doesn’t break most everything in parts.
I break bread with the handwriting of words.
Nothing of appearance is always an illusion.
Lend me your book when you finish
writing it. I’ll be the first to fill in its spaces.


Saturday was my father's birthday, so after a quiet morning of chores while Adam played tennis with him, we picked up my parents and went to see Money Monster. The events of the story become ludicrous in the last half hour, but it's well acted, Clooney and Roberts have terrific chemistry despite only appearing onscreen together in the first and last scenes, the direction and pacing are very engrossing, and there's a wide range of roles for women.

We took my parents to dinner at Not Your Average Joe's and went back to their house for the rest of the strawberry cake we had the night before. Then Christine, who is just home from the beach, met us at our house and we all watched Equilibrium since she hadn't seen it. As derivative and riddled with plot holes as it is, I never get tired of seeing Bale, Bean, Diggs, and Watson in it. Animals from Brookside Gardens a few weeks ago:

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Poem for Saturday, Carnival Interior, Blood Fever, Windtalkers, Pan

She Says
By Luci Tapahonso

The cool October night, and his tall gray hat
throws sharp shadows on the ground.
Somewhere west of the black volcanoes,
dogs are barking at something no one else can see.

His voice a white cloud,
plumes of chimney smoke suspended in the dark.

Later we are dancing in the living room,
his hand warm on the small of my back.
It is music that doesn’t change.

The ground outside is frozen,
trees glisten with moon frost.

The night is a careful abandonment of other voices,
his girlfriend’s outburst brimming at the edge of the morning,

and I think I have aged so.
His warm hands and my own laugh are all we share in this other life
strung together by missing years and dry desert evenings.

Tomorrow the thin ice on black weeds will shimmer in the sun,
and the horses wait for him.
At his house around noon, thin strands of icicles drop
to the ground in silence.

Early Saturday, the appaloosa runs free near Moenkopi.

The dog yips, yips alongside.


Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, very humid -- not my favorite weather, though at least it was bright out. I spent the morning finishing up a review of Voyager's "Blood Fever", then we all watched Pan because Adam hadn't seen it. Hugh Jackman is fun to watch but otherwise the movie is riddled with faults. On top of a horribly miscast Rooney Mara, the kid in the title role is better than the guy playing Hook!

We had dinner with my parents, then came home and watched Windtalkers, which has one of Nicolas Cage's best performances though it's a really hard movie to watch -- extremely violent and quite a few WWII cliches, not to mention the Hollywood trope of focusing on white characters in a movie that should center on people of color, but still worth watching. Here from the Arlington Arts Center is Scott Pennington's Carnival Interior:

Friday, May 27, 2016

Poem for Friday, Deadpool, Seven Foot Knoll Light

The Mystery
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

I was not; now I am—a few days hence
I shall not be; I fain would look before
And after, but can neither do; some Power
Or lack of power says “no” to all I would.
I stand upon a wide and sunless plain,
Nor chart nor steel to guide my steps aright.
Whene’er, o’ercoming fear, I dare to move,
I grope without direction and by chance.
Some feign to hear a voice and feel a hand
That draws them ever upward thro’ the gloom.
But I—I hear no voice and touch no hand,
Tho’ oft thro’ silence infinite I list,
And strain my hearing to supernal sounds;
Tho’ oft thro’ fateful darkness do I reach,
And stretch my hand to find that other hand.
I question of th’ eternal bending skies
That seem to neighbor with the novice earth;
But they roll on, and daily shut their eyes
On me, as I one day shall do on them,
And tell me not the secret that I ask.


After weeks of May being unseasonably cold, hot weather has arrived with a vengeance and on Thursday gave us a nearly 90 degree, code orange day. I spent a lot of it fighting with work -- I don't care how popular "Blood Fever" is with the P/T crowd, it's an atrocious episode that twice tries to justify sexual assault -- then Paul and I went to Kohl's to pick up the clothes I didn't buy yesterday because of their stupid coupon policy. They lost an additional $21 from me because I'd found a shirt I almost bought there for less online.

Adam had lunch with my mother and afternoon plans with friends, but he was here for dinner, and afterward we all watched Deadpool because he hadn't seen it although most of his friends had. Then he went to chat with Christine, who's at the beach, and we watched Orphan Black, which as always was engrossing and distressing and I can't even feel sorry for Rachel. Here are some older photos of Baltimore's Seven Foot Knoll Light, originally dating from 1855 and now in the Inner Harbor, including a view of Lady Maryland from an interior window:

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Poem for Thursday, Nashville, Lake Whetstone

Turtle, Swan
By Mark Doty

Because the road to our house
is a back road, meadowlands punctuated
by gravel quarry and lumberyard,
there are unexpected travelers
some nights on our way home from work.
Once, on the lawn of the Tool

and Die Company, a swan;
the word doesn't convey the shock
of the thing, white architecture
rippling like a pond's rain-pocked skin,
beak lifting to hiss at my approach.
Magisterial, set down in elegant authority,

he let us know exactly how close we might come.
After a week of long rains
that filled the marsh until it poured
across the road to make in low woods
a new heaven for toads,
a snapping turtle lumbered down the center

of the asphalt like an ambulatory helmet.
His long tail dragged, blunt head jutting out
of the lapidary prehistoric sleep of shell.
We'd have lifted him from the road
but thought he might bend his long neck back
to snap. I tried herding him; he rushed,

though we didn't think those blocky legs
could hurry-- then ambled back
to the center of the road, a target
for kids who'd delight in the crush
of something slow with the look
of primeval invulnerability. He turned

the blunt spear point of his jaws,
puffing his undermouth like a bullfrog,
and snapped at your shoe,
vising a beakful of-- thank God--
leather. You had to shake him loose. We left him
to his own devices, talked on the way home

of what must lead him to new marsh
or old home ground. The next day you saw,
one town over, remains of shell
in front of the little liquor store. I argued
it was too far from where we'd seen him,
too small to be his... though who could tell

what the day's heat might have taken
from his body. For days he became a stain,
a blotch that could have been merely
oil. I did not want to believe that
was what we saw alive in the firm center
of his authority and right

to walk the center of the road,
head up like a missionary moving certainly
into the country of his hopes.
In the movies in this small town
I stopped for popcorn while you went ahead
to claim seats. When I entered the cool dark

I saw straight couples everywhere,
no single silhouette who might be you.
I walked those two aisles too small
to lose anyone and thought of a book
I read in seventh grade, "Stranger Than Science,"
in which a man simply walked away,

at a picnic, and was,
in the act of striding forward
to examine a flower, gone.
By the time the previews ended
I was nearly in tears-- then realized
the head of one-half the couple in the first row

was only your leather jacket propped in the seat
that would be mine. I don't think I remember
anything of the first half of the movie.
I don't know what happened to the swan. I read
every week of some man's lover showing
the first symptoms, the night sweat

or casual flu, and then the wasting begins
and the disappearance a day at a time.
I don't know what happened to the swan;
I don't know if the stain on the street
was our turtle or some other. I don't know
where these things we meet and know briefly,

as well as we can or they will let us,
go. I only know that I do not want you
--you with your white and muscular wings
that rise and ripple beneath or above me,
your magnificent neck, eyes the deep mottled autumnal colors
of polished tortoise-- I do not want you ever to die.


It was actually hot on Wednesday! My morning was mostly work, which included watching Voyager's "Blood Fever" -- an episode a lot of people like because it gets Paris and Torres together, and I despise because I can't get past the casual date rape themes -- then after lunch Adam and I went to Kohl's and Target to get him bathing suits and stuff for his weeks working in Texas, though I have to go back to Kohl's to pick up the stuff there tomorrow because my %$@#& coupon isn't good until then.

Adam had plans with friends after dinner so we had our meatloaf and scalloped potatoes (two of his favorites) on the early side. Then he went out while we watched the Arrow season finale (too little Barrowman, too much violence) and the Nashville series finale (nearly every storyline wrapped up neatly, in most cases by vilifying one woman so another could have her redemption; the only storyline I cared about was Will's, and that, at least, ended well). Here's Lake Whetstone during gosling season:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Poem for Wednesday, Summery Canal, Pawn Sacrifice

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Exactly four different men have tried
to teach me how to play. I could never
tell the difference between a rook
or bishop, but I knew the horse meant

knight. And that made sense to me,
because a horse is night: soot-hoof
and nostril, dark as a sabled evening
with no stars, bats, or moon blooms.

It’s a night in Ohio where a man sleeps
alone one week and the next, the woman
he will eventually marry leans her body
into his for the first time, leans a kind

of faith, too—filled with white crickets
and bouquets of wild carrot. And
the months and the honeyed years
after that will make all the light

and dark squares feel like tiles
for a kitchen they can one day build
together. Every turn, every sacrificial
move—all the decoys, the castling,

the deflections—these will be both
riotous and unruly, the exact opposite
of what she thought she ever wanted
in the endgame of her days.


Wednesday actually felt like May! It was nearly 80 degrees and the sun was out all afternoon! I had a pretty dull morning doing work and sweeping all the wet leaves off the deck and front porch so they could get dry while Adam was out enjoying the weather with friends. But in the afternoon, when Paul had finished working, we all went to take a walk along the C&O Canal, where the snakes were hiding but the turtles, frogs, herons, and fish were not. Afterward we stopped at the Bethesda Co-op for fruit, sesame sticks, and goat cheese, then had Gorgonzola and garlic ravioli for dinner.

Then those of us who watch The Flash watched the season finale, which Adam tells me suggests that next season they'll be doing The Flashpoint Paradox, which I haven't seen but I hope it doesn't drag as long as the Zoom storyline has. Then we all watched Pawn Sacrifice, which is amazingly gripping -- I knew most of what was going to happen, and I know Fischer was mentally ill but still an awful person, and I found it utterly gripping anyway. My one complaint is that there's not enough explanation of just what was so radical about his chess-playing, which would be much more relevant than how he lost his virginity.