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Ringing
By Naomi Shihab Nye


A baby, I stood in my crib to hear
the dingy-ding of a vegetable truck approaching.

When I was bigger, my mom took me out to the street
to meet the man who rang the bell and he tossed me a tangerine...

...the first thing I ever caught. I thought
he was a magic man.

My mom said there used to be milk trucks too. She said,
Look hard, he'll be gone soon. And she was right. He disappeared.

Now when I hear an ice-cream truck chiming its bells, I fly.
Even if I'm not hungry--just to watch it pass.

Mailmen with their chime of dogs barking
up and down the street are magic too.

They are all bringers.
I want to be a bringer.

I want to drive a truck full of eggplants down the smallest street.
I want to be someone making music with my coming.

--------

I had another quiet day...the sore in my mouth is better but my stomach was off, maybe because I ate so erratically yesterday, and I ended up doing stupid lie-around-the-house things like putting my own photos in my MySpace layouts. Wrote three silly Star Trek articles -- Walter Koenig on how he hopes Chekov has a bigger part this time around, Kate Mulgrew on how so many actresses are self-absorbed, they think about things like Lincoln's assassination only in terms of how it impacts them (*snickers and refrains from comments*), Roy Jenson dying and, despite being a World War II veteran, a professional football player and a longtime actor, being remembered most of all for reading the Sacred Text of E Plebnista. Took younger son to Hebrew school and stopped in to see the mobile he helped buy for the youth lounge, started cooking dinner which my husband finished in between rides to and from soccer practice, waved to older son in passing as he was walking home while I was carpooling. And I witnessed a domestic crisis:


Sometimes cats are threatened by other cats, or insects, or roaming shoelaces...


...and sometimes cats are threatened by inanimate objects whose passivity belies their innate menace.


When that happens, there is nothing to be done but to POUNCE.


Enjoyed reading about the brightest supernova on record, and scientists worrying about what will happen when a huge star closer to Earth explodes -- I always find it rather hopeful to think that human life on Earth may be destroyed by natural processes rather than because humans wreck the environment or launch nuclear missiles, as warped as that sounds. The local news was horrific -- a kid killed in a freak accident when a soccer goalpost fell on him -- so I barely paid attention to the Fort Dix situation or the Queen's departure. But I did really enjoy Boston Legal, which this week decided to take on Guantanamo and torture, in between bouts of Shirley warning Jerry not to make any moves on Denny's boyfriend. My love for this show knows no bounds even when it is total screeching crack, but when it hits on something serious, it's even better.

The crack arc this week is one that has serious ramifications and backstory: Jerry wants to come back to Crane, Poole and Schmidt, because, as he explains to Shirley, even though he was ostracized while he was there, he hates having to be cruel and competitive as a trial lawyer and misses the camaraderie of the office. She initially scoffs, but Jerry points out that the office is the opposite of impersonal: everyone knows everyone's business, from Denise and Brad's baby to the transvestite and the girl who loves him, and Shirley -- who is considering rehiring a man who held a knife to her throat -- is the definition of compassion. Shirley gets trembly-lipped, says that Jerry has made his case very well and promises to see if she can convince the partners to lose their minds as well. However, Jerry needs to convince Denny, who is passionately protective of Alan -- and as Shirley points out, Denny doesn't like to share what's his or even what's not his (i.e. Shirley herself).

Alan and Denny take on a client who was arrested for suspected ties to Al Qaeda, held and Guantanamo and tortured for two years before being released. He's a British citizen, which to Denny means a Commie, a humanitarian aid worker in Afghanistan, and Alan is explaining that the case will be impossible when Denny's proclamation that human rights are so yesterday persuades Alan that it's worth attempting anyway. Bernadette Peters plays the judge, who warns Alan not to make sexual advances she tends to accept them (and suggests that he drop his pants in her chambers, which causes him to have to leave with a pillow over his crotch). Alan is still trying to make a go of it with Gloria -- he steals roses from her office so he can present them to her -- but when he mentions that he finds the older woman rather attractive, she becomes so huffy that he resorts to asking Denny for dating advice, which leads to Denny explaining that women want to be lied to (something with which the judge regrettably agrees, but I think it's obvious that this woman has self-esteem issues about her looks from several episodes back and not to be taken as a blanket statement).

Denny is having a rough time: not only does he have to contend with Jerry competing with Alan's affections but Alan is having sleepovers with Glorian instead of him, and he says a woman knows these things, though Alan points out that Denny is not a woman. Denny calls Alan fickle -- he recalls that Alan once loved George Bush -- and Alan says that Bush could probably be straightened out if they took him fishing, since even he's smart enough to outsmart a salmon. Huffily Denny says, "I don't want you sleeping with that woman or attacking my country." However, he talks to the media about Alan's case, noting that in no country but the U S of A can you challenge the government, unless you have Arab blood.

Their client says that he was never shown evidence indicating that he had ties to Al Quada or the Taliban, never allowed a lawyer, and not allowed to object when he was beaten, deprived of sleep and sexually humiliated. Mitch Pileggi, playing opposing counsel (whoo!), asks whether the charitable organization he worked with ever cooperated with the Taliban or Al Quada, which the client thought was possible -- their goal was to distribute food to hungry children -- he believes he was turned in by Afghans promised large sums of money by the US government for betraying anyone they could claim was connected to Al Qaeda, and now the US is treating people as guilty until they can prove themselves innocent. Privately Denny tells Alan that he's going to lose, because no one cares about torture and lack of due process since 9/11 -- he doesn't care about a bunch of people in a third world country and that sexy, nasty judge won't either.

An army colonel testifies that the US government sometimes needs to screen and release people to keep the public safe, and Alan's client was not cooperative -- he proclaims that there has not been another attack since the Patriot Act and the American people should be grateful instead of screaming about human rights, plus Guantanamo protects troops and the government can't afford the time or money to let every disgruntled detainee sue. Alan notes that they've conveniently arranged things so that neither the Geneva Convention nor the Constitution protects the detainees -- they're enemy combatants, denied the rights of both citizens and foreign prisoners.

In his closing, Alan says that he's quitting because a lawyer should put his country before his client and the judge should dismiss the suit. After all, not just the executive branch but all of Congress agrees -- Hillary and Barack included, plus Joe Biden who wants to be mentioned so people know he's running -- none of them care if an innocent man got duct taped and sexually violated. He shouldn't have been over there providing aid in first place! Accused of not taking the case seriously, he notes that we all have more important things to think about, like starving actresses with drug problems, and if the Constitution and the law have become meaningless, well, we're at war.

Denny misses this delightful summation (and fuck is Alan right about Hillary, Barack, et al) because he is trying to get the judge to look at him...ultimately he drops his pants while congratulating her when she denies the government's motion to dismiss, saying that the court has a duty to step in when civil liberties are violated. But he doesn't trust that Jerry has no designs on Alan until Jerry agrees to let Denny spend time with his inflatable girlfriend, which leads to Denny promising to welcome him back -- a decision Shirley believes will benefit the firm until she and Paul see Jerry coming by with the Shirley doll to deliver to Denny.

On the balcony with Alan, who is exhausted from trying to figure out what Gloria wants, Denny explains that things are by definition harder with women because of female hormones, which is why a woman can never be president. Even if Hillary wouldn't cry, Guantanamo is still her fault: Bill wouldn't have lied to the public about cheating if he hadn't been afraid of Hillary, which led to his impeachment, which is why Gore didn't win, which is why Bush is in the White House. Just as Denny reaches full rant mode about the evils of women, he glances down to see Bethany, who turns and storms off. "You can't live with them and you can't take them quail hunting," Denny explains regretfully.

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