Monday, July 31, 2023

Greetings from Marymoor

On Sunday we had cooler, magnificent weather, so after a quiet morning during which I went through every box in the apartment looking for something I couldn't remember where I unpacked, we ate lunch and went to meet Daniel at Marymoor Park with the dogs (Cahaya was in L.A. for business, and now is meeting her sister to go to Disneyland). The herons have left the rookery, but we saw geese and ducks (more ducklings!) in the river and caught some Poliwags for Pokemon Community Day. 

We were thirsty when we left the park, so we took the dogs to Redmond Town Center and got bubble tea (well, Starbucks for Paul. Then Daniel went home to work on his house, since Cahaya is moving in officially next month, and we came home to feed the cats and eventually have dinner. Then because of Margot Robbie we watched Babylon, which is in some ways a better movie than I expected though in other ways is about a self-indulgent as most movies about Hollywood are even if they're dark. 

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Sunday, July 30, 2023

Greetings from the BAM Artsfair

This weekend is the Bellevue Art Museum's Artsfair, so we got out fairly early for a Saturday to make sure we could find parking by the mall. It was very fun -- there were actually two festival stages on either side of the mall, with the higher-end arts fair along one side and the whole first floor of one of the parking lots, the more local crafts fair facing Bellevue's business district. We only ended up buying tea and coasters, but we saw a lot of gorgeous glass and wood crafts, pottery, and jewelry, and we ended up having lunch at What the Pho in the mall. 

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We stopped at Trader Joe's and World Market, then we came back to our apartment complex, which was giving out popsicles and bubbles (for the children, but we got them anyway), walked on the dock from which we had a rare frog sighting (two frogs!) and saw a couple of families of ducklings, ate leftover Mediterranean food for dinner, watched some terrible baseball from the Orioles and Mariners both, and now I'm watching the Taylor Swift Reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix because somehow I've never watched it before -- I didn't really watch her before Folklore!

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Greetings from Heaven and Hell

I had a very nice Friday that started with chores, but then Daniel (whose team has the last Friday of every month off) came over for lunch -- Lebanese food from Tanoor, I had cheese fatayer, hummus, and lebneh -- and we Skyped my parents, after which he went to walk his dogs and we went to the post office and Safeway.

Then we came home for the remaining four hours of the second season of Good Omens. There were many things I liked about it and a few things I did not like, but overall -- and I wrote this in my notes at the end of the fourth episode, so not affected by the ending -- I never adored it the way I adored the first season. 


It started well -- let's be honest, naked Jon Hamm is always a good way to start a TV show -- and there were many laugh-out-loud moments for me. Feeding ducks frozen peas! "There are only three reasons you call me: You're bored, you need to tell someone about something clever you did before you pop, or something's wrong"! Jane Austen, Master Spy!

And most of the flashbacks worked for me, but -- okay, unpopular opinion -- I missed God! God in the first season seemed, well, wryly ineffable; sure, atrocious things happened last season that God either triggered or did nothing to stop, but we were led to believe that none of us really understood the Ineffable Plan, so there was lots of room for forgiveness.

This season I kept noting, "wow, Gaiman really hates God and the Bible"! There wasn't underlying love and forgiveness, and the hostility was all targeted at Heaven; Hell is a bunch of ill-behaved children doing the kind of stuff they do in Faust. All the real evil this season comes from Heaven. Aziraphale keeps working for them after Job?!

And my alarms went off a little upon discovering that people in Hell think Richard Curtis movies characterize human love. I dislike most of his romances and absolutely loathe Love, Actually -- warning, more unpopular opinions! I was never invested in Nina/Maggie the way I had been in Anathema/Pulsifer nor even Shadwell/Madame Tracy.

Bottom line, the Ineffable doesn't seem like it could possibly have an overarching good reason for anything this season; it's just mean and petty. So I was disappointed even before the Disappointing Thing. Though I enjoyed the Doctor Who references and snappy dialogue, there were fewer characters in whom I was emotionally invested -- I missed the children!

Of course I loved seeing Sheen and Tennant, who have better chemistry than just about any two performers I can think of (Hepburn and Tracy, Cooper and Gaga, Jackman and Reynolds), and they were glorious. There are screencaps from this that I will treasure. But getting to see their characters as angels together shows all the problems with rooting for an angel.

And because of all that, Aziraphale's decision in the end did not seem out of character to me. He's self-hating when he strays from what he thinks is right, and because the attachment between him and Crowley is what usually makes him think he's straying, it feels like that romance is being judged as worse than Gabriel running off with the Lord of the Flies.

It may not BE heterosexual vs homosexual, since they're angelic and demonic beings who may not even have genitalia, but visually it LOOKS heterosexual vs homosexual. All the main gay characters are single at the end of the season, while all the straight couples over both seasons appear to be living happily ever after. For me it really left a bad taste.

Here are some photos from the waterfront last weekend when we were hanging out before the concert, including some boats, some beach, the Seattle Wheel, some flowers, some jellyfish, and the spectacular weather we had that entire day:

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Friday, July 28, 2023

Poem for Thursday and Friendship Bracelets

A Green Thought
By Katharine Towers

Say instead it was an evening in head-high
bracken with its smell of dark and medicine.
Thinking green of the infecting fern

where you may crouch and not be known,
lodging your feet for good amid the stalks.
A bower is a dwelling place or once it was

a cage for pent-up singing birds.
Look down to see the warp and weft of root.
All the world is in these clutches.

Look up to clock the fern’s drab underneath
blotched with spores you mustn’t breathe.
Breathe in deep. There’s nowhere else to live.


My thrilling lunchtime activity for Thursday was returning to the medical building where I had my checkup yesterday for a mammogram. The facility houses an urgent care clinic, radiology, and several other specialties, and I haven't waited more than five minutes for anything whether it was a blood draw or a neuropathy check, which is very nice. It was otherwise a quiet day with a walk on the beach in warm, breezy weather -- we have new ducklings and last night we saw two nutria.  

Good Omens' second season was up by the time of my usual Thursday night chat group, so we all got off quickly to watch the first couple of episodes, which I loved but I want to wait till I see the whole thing to decide whether it lives up to the first season. What We Do in the Shadows was hilarious (Yiddish-speaking vampires!) I KNOW you're tired of hearing about Taylor Swift, but after I posted the Barbie shoe jewelry (which, yes, I made), I had a request to see the friendship bracelets:

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All of these were made by other people and traded to me, including the one with the 3D printed Taylor head!

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I made these Folklore/Evermore bracelets and traded them away!

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I made and kept this "Exile" bracelet because it makes me think of a Loki songvid!

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I was told that people bring their bracelets to concerts on carabiners so they don't have to wear 30 at a time, so here are many of the ones I brought to trade!

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These were both traded to me by people I met in Pioneer Square -- a "Long Live" bracelet with a dragon and a Reputation bracelet with beads made from the paper "newsprint" wrappers that came with Reputation merchandise!

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Here I am eating gelato and wearing bracelets that were at this point half mine, half traded -- several of the latter were later traded again!

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I made this one because the little theater mask (smiling on one side, frowning on the other) works whether "Getaway Car" makes you think of Tom Hiddleston or Karlie Kloss!

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Here I am in line. I loved that purple cat bracelet, which someone traded to me at the stadium, but a younger girl saw it and really wanted it, so I let her have it since I'd made...

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...tiger eye bracelets with silver cat beads because Taylor was in Cats and wrote the closing credits song with Andrew Lloyd Webber, and I kept the set!

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Poem for Wednesday and Barbie

Barbie Doll
By Marge Piercy

This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs.

She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,
abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.
She went to and fro apologizing.
Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs.

She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,
exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.
Her good nature wore out
like a fan belt.
So she cut off her nose and her legs
and offered them up.

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,
a turned-up putty nose,
dressed in a pink and white nightie.
Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.
Consummation at last.
To every woman a happy ending.


Good news, you don't have to hear about Taylor Swift today...because we went to see the Barbie movie! That was in the late afternoon after getting to talk to all three of my good high school friends in the morning, then a midday appointment with a new doctor at a practice that had come highly recommended. I really liked her, so of course she's stepping back at the end of the year to spend more time with her two children under five and specializing instead of seeing GP patients! So I either have to hope I like her replacement or go looking for yet another PCP elsewhere, sigh. This place does have excellent phlebotomists and nurses and very little wait time, so I'm inclined to think I want to stick with it. 

Paul and I went to Barbie near 5 p.m., so it wasn't crowded, which made me glad because I know someone who caught covid at the Taylor Swift concert despite the fact that the stadium and its ramps are fully outdoors. The movie is hilarious, full of fun nostalgia -- I knew people who owned a lot of the Barbie toys and outfits referenced -- and strong on the girl power, though it's very second- and third-wave feminist (not a lot of intersectionality despite Barbies of many ethnic appearances, and even narrator Helen Mirren made a snarky comment about how if beauty isn't supposed to be the most important thing, maybe Margot Robbie was the wrong casting). Here I am enjoying it in my Barbie shoe jewelry!

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Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Lyrics for Tuesday and Taylor Town

By Taylor Swift

How's one to know?
I'd meet you where the spirit meets the bones
In a faith-forgotten land
In from the snow
Your touch brought forth an incandescent glow
Tarnished but so grand

And the old widow goes to the stone every day
But I don't, I just sit here and wait
Grieving for the living

Oh, goddamn
My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand
Taking mine, but it's been promised to another
Oh, I can't
Stop you putting roots in my dreamland
My house of stone, your ivy grows
And now I'm covered in you

I wish to know
The fatal flaw that makes you long to be
Magnificently cursed
He's in the room
Your opal eyes are all I wish to see
He wants what's only yours

Oh, goddamn
My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand
Taking mine, but it's been promised to another
Oh, I can't
Stop you putting roots in my dreamland
My house of stone, your ivy grows
And now I'm covered

Clover blooms in the fields
Spring breaks loose, the time is near
What would he do if he found us out?
Crescent moon, coast is clear
Spring breaks loose, but so does fear
He's gonna burn this house to the ground

How's one to know?
I'd live and die for moments that we stole
On begged and borrowed time
So tell me to run
Or dare to sit and watch what we'll become
And drink my husband's wine

Oh, goddamn
My pain fits in the palm of your freezing hand
Taking mine, but it's been promised to another
Oh, I can't
Stop you putting roots in my dreamland
My house of stone, your ivy grows
And now I'm covered in you
And I'm covered in you

So yeah, it's a fire
It's a goddamn blaze in the dark
And you started it
You started it
So yeah, it's a war
It's the goddamn fight of my life
And you started it
You started it

Oh, I can't
Stop you putting roots in my dreamland
My house of stone, your ivy grows
And now I'm covered
In you


Tuesday was a pretty quiet day with gorgeous low-70s weather. I had a bunch of chores to do from having company and having done nothing productive all weekend, then we took a walk to the beach -- not a lot of people in the cooler weather, and there is yet another family of ducklings in the lake by the dock -- and discovered that there are ripe blackberries behind the kayak racks, so I went home to get a container and pick some along with a neighbor I met who did the same thing. They are delicious! My Voyager group watched the sixth episode of the third season of Picard, which I am really enjoying, to my surprise. 

Then we watched the Strange New Worlds-Lower Decks crossover, which is clever and hilarious -- tons of Star Trek in-jokes and some very Galaxy Quest moments -- and now we're watching the first episode of Special Ops: Lioness, which may be too violent for me no matter who's in the cast, though Saldana and De Oliveira are terrific. Part of the fun of seeing Taylor Swift was seeing the whole city get excited about Taylor Swift: the Space Needle put up oversized friendship bracelets, lots of restaurants had Swiftie special menu items and drinks, and we saw bracelet-making and decorated carts all around: 

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Greetings from Folklore

On Monday we had much-needed rain, quite hard at times -- we couldn't see the lake from our living room window -- though it was only drizzle when we walked to the beach and since we had a lot of chores left over from the weekend, it was all fine. And we watched Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, which was cute, and Miracle Workers, which was absolute crack. But what I want to talk about is Taylor Swift. If you're a Swiftie, you should stop reading this because either you know it already or you don't want to be spoiled before you see her in California (I assume there will be changes to the show before she takes it to Europe) and if you're not a Swiftie you should stop reading it because you won't be interested!

As I've said elsewhere, we parked mid-morning in one of the lots closer to T-Mobile Park before the Mariners-Blue Jays crowds arrived, and spent much of the day along the waterfront surrounded by a mix of Swifties and baseball fans. We arrived at Lumen Field by way of Pioneer Square, where we'd had Mod Pizza and gelato and traded friendship bracelets with people in a wide variety of Eras outfits. We traded some more in line waiting to get inside the stadium, which took a while but was better organized than the Mariners were a week earlier. It was very warm and sunny, so we were in no rush to get to our seats and got into the immense merch line which wrapped around the 300 level and gave us a nice view of the mountain. I didn't end up buying anything -- I was happy to keep bracelets as souvenirs.

I have only two complaints about the evening and one is that they ran out of vegan hot dogs, leaving very few choices for vegans who didn't want Pizza Hut. We heard Gracie Abrams while trying to track down the Tex-Mex place, whose lines were crazy, so I ended up having a Bavarian pretzel with cheese dip for dinner. Then we went to our seats to hear Haim, who are always great -- they did "Want You Back" and "Gasoline" -- wearing sunglasses because the sun was still over the stadium in a blindingly bright sky. It finally started to drop during the set change, when a "Bejeweled" interview with both Haim and Taylor was showing, and finally the Midnights clock appeared a few minutes earlier than we expected, before 8 p.m.

I should probably insert my history as a Taylor fan here. I've always been older than her main demographic and my kids weren't interested in her, so I was casually acquainted with her radio hits from her late country era and impressed enough to have bought all her albums from Red forward, but I wouldn't have said I was invested in her career and I knew little about her life (I read about who she was dating because I looked at news about Jake Gyllenhaal and Tom Hiddleston, not because I looked at news about her). Because potentially closeted celebrities and how they navigate the media are topics that interest me, I was aware of the rumors about her and Karlie Kloss and I occasionally glanced at the news stories, but I didn't go digging on Twitter for gossip.

I paid no serious attention to Taylor until Folklore, which blew me away -- specifically "The Last Great American Dynasty" which engages with so many songwriting traditions while at the same time making me question her insistence that this was her first non-autobiographical album because that song is at least as much about her as it is about Rebekah Harkness. It made me go back and listen to Reputation and Lover again -- no one will ever convince me that the latter wasn't intended as a coming-out album, and sorry but no way is "End Game" about Joe Alwyn, who didn't have big reputation and was never going to be a big conversation for anyone but her most die-hard fans, in fact I don't think that song is about a man at all any more than "Gorgeous" is. Okay, I'm out now as a Gaylor but I want to make clear that I don't actually care about Taylor Swift's personal life; it's the queer aesthetic in her songs and the coded messages that interest me. You could hear a hairpin drop, indeed.

So, back to the concert. Taylor said that she wrote in her diary after her last visit during the Reputation tour that Seattle was the best crowd she had ever played for, then she played the crowd, pointing at sections to shout and wave for her, before she launched into "The Man" (another coded song). She started with songs from Lover -- there were evangelical protestors outside the stadium while we were in line, announcing on a megaphone that we were all going to hell (Swifties gave them friendship bracelets) -- and everyone inside screamed "shade never made anybody less gay" loudly enough for them to hear. Insanely, she played (and danced, and marched all over the stage) 45 songs, supposedly for an all-time record crowd for Lumen Field of over 72,000 people, and the energy level was incredible, even higher than when I saw Paul McCartney, which was not a performance experience I had believed could be equaled.

All the Fearless songs were happy, delightful singalongs, some of the first songs I ever heard by Taylor so they all have many years of happy associations. She launched Evermore by bringing Haim back to perform "No Body, No Crime" with her, which nobody knew was going to happen so it was enormously enjoyable, and the stage visuals for the whole album are just stunning -- "Willow" in particular, a pagan fire festival that makes me think of Robin of Sherwood. I really loved seeing the Evermore and Folklore deep woods in the PNW, which Taylor said probably influenced the fantasy world she dreamed up during the pandemic for those albums (she said she wanted to imagine a life where she wasn't a lonely Millennial covered in cat hair). The Folklore cabin looked very much like the one from the Grammys and she performed both within and without, though of course my favorite number wasn't part of the teenage love story -- it was Taylor meeting and dancing with Rebekah Harkness while the screen shifted from the woods to the windswept coast.

Reputation also had fantastic onstage visuals (including Taylor's snake costume) and it was really fun to sing "Look What You Made Me Do" along with a huge crowd. We also got some (alleged) Kanye shade in "This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things" -- one of Taylor's surprise acoustic songs, which she said she'd never played that way before...there was a LOT of cackling after the line about forgiveness. (And yes, I know the theory that "Vigilante Shit" is about Taylor being Team Kim in the Kardashian-West divorce.) That wasn't a song I was really hoping for as one of the surprises (I reeeallly wanted "Exile" and am jealous the next night's crowd, which son's girlfriend was among, got "Message In a Bottle"), but I appreciate her wanting to explore her entire catalogue in different ways, and we also got "Everything Has Changed" from Red without Ed Sheeran, which she seemed concerned might upset people ("There’s not a special guest!") but I think she does the song fine without him.

Of anything in her pre-Folklore era, "Long Live" is the song that resonates most for me. I readily admit that this is partly because of some fandom-related songvids set to it (this is a Star Trek song and an Avengers song for me, deal with it), but I think everyone has some middle school or high school experience they can connect to it whether it's theater camp or chess club. People around me were crying while they sang along and it's impossible not to be moved by that. That was the highlight of the show for me, even more than the confetti and fireworks during "Bejeweled" and "Karma" (after the super-fun 1989 singalong of huge pop hits and the more complicated, darker Midnights songs that start the set. I did enjoy the fireworks but the launchers made it impossible to see the band from our seats in Lumen Field's end zone, so although they sounded great, I have no sense of how many musicians were playing on any given song.

I'm sure I left out a bunch of things, but I've been writing this for two hours so I'll just mention them later if I think of them! We saved the tabs for our LED bracelets so they still flash purple when we take the tabs out -- apparently they're programmed to keep the last command from the stadium after changing color and pattern throughout the concert. It's with my friendship bracelets, a lovely souvenir. Bottom line, I feel SO lucky that I managed to get tickets with a minimum of screaming at the computer during the Ticketmaster disaster, and I'm so glad that my niece Madeleine, who's always been a much more serious Taylor fan, wanted to travel up here from L.A. to go to the concert with me!

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