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Fear )

I have had a perfectly lovely evening at a Harry Potter party at which I did not get a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. *g* I've had the book on order from Amazon since the week they started taking pre-orders; I'm supposed to get it tomorrow and if I don't, I get it for free, so I get to go to bed at a reasonable hour. But when we found out that Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra was giving a free concert at Borders in Silver Spring, how could we not go? We thought at first that it was just Jennifer and Grace Griffith, then the newspaper said that some of her band would be there, and when we arrived we discovered that the entire group plus Lisa Moscatiello were all performing. They did most of the songs they performed when we saw them last weekend -- now that I have albums with both Lisa and Grace singing "The Sands of Time" individually, I can say that there is nothing lovelier in the world than listening to them harmonize on it.

Okay, so I keep talking about this song -- you can hear a bit of it at Amazon.com (Grace Griffith's solo version too, here), and tonight while snapping photos I could not resist hitting the Quicktime button and recording a few seconds. So here live in motion are Jennifer on keyboards, Lisa on main vocals and Grace on harmony along with the rest of the Ocean Orchestra at YouSendIt, a .MOV file, 10MB. The album is on iTunes as well as Amazon.com and I cannot recommend it highly enough. There are a lot of references to magic in the lyrics so it was quite appropriate for a Harry Potter fest, and the kids were dancing to the raunchy tunes!

Anyway, we stuck around Borders for over an hour because they were supposed to have an uplink to a feed of Rowling reading from HBP -- Silver Spring was one of only three Borders in the US to have such footage -- but they couldn't get their video working, and the kids were tired and cranky, and finally we bowed to pressure and left. (Besides, if I'd stayed at that point, I would have gotten in line and bought the book, stayed up all night reading and then had to return it after getting my Amazon.com copies. *g*) But it was a lot of fun to be at the party where they were doing face painting and sorting kids into Hogwarts houses and having magicians walk around doing tricks. I had not been in this area of Silver Spring since it was entirely rebuilt, though I have no excuses because the new AFI Silver movie theater is around the corner. Before going to Borders for the concert we walked down the main street where there are now a dozen restaurants, and we discovered that there was a Phillips Seafood so we all had crab soup and crab cakes for dinner (very reasonably priced as it was counter-style rather than with servers). So it was a lovely evening all around and I couldn't care that I haven't started HP yet!

Incidentally, MD area folkies, Jennifer, Grace and some of the band are playing at the Borders in Hagerstown tomorrow afternoon -- info on Jennifer's web site. Summer in DC is such a fantastic time for free concerts, not even counting the ones at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival -- I just found out that Great Big Sea is coming to Wolf Trap along with Saw Doctors the week we will be in Delaware! *wails* And Colin Hay will be at the Birchmere that week, too! Ah well, maybe I can see Wolfstone at the Birchmere at the end of August. And we are seeing October Project in Virginia next weekend so I really have nothing to complain about! Next weekend we have also discovered that the HMS Bounty will be in Baltimore, so you can bet we will be there as well.

Here is my not-very-inspired review of "Miri" for TrekToday, with which I struggled so much that I had to cancel lunch with [livejournal.com profile] beeej to finish it and it is a wonder she is still speaking to me because that's the second time this week. I owe her sex a very nice restaurant meal!


Bookstore Concert and Harry Potter Party )
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From 'Dracula' Chapter 3 )

I know, it's not poetry. But I was in a Dracula mood and a Whitby mood, and it's a nice mood-setter excuse to post the following photos. I would link to previous photos of Whitby if LiveJournal's memories were ever working -- they say they're off at peak periods but mine haven't worked for two days. (ETA: here, here and here.)


Whitby Abbey and Parish Church )


At lunchtime today I picked up [livejournal.com profile] apaulled from the office and we went to Noon Tunes at the Gaithersburg City Hall Pavilion to see Peter Mealy & Laurie Rose Griffith -- she who featured at least by name in my stupid Harry Potter dream of the other night. (Note: she does vaguely resemble my neighbor Alyson.) They played many favorites, including some Dylan, some Paul Simon and some Dave Matthews in addition to their own songs, and they were very friendly when I walked up to them during the break and requested one of their songs. I think they were happy someone had actually come to see them rather than simply turning up to eat outside the City Hall building on an afternoon that turned gorgeous despite the threat of rain -- we got that later -- and there are always many day care groups that traipse through on the way to the enormous nearby playground, not really listening and doing lots of running around, as today the girls were practicing cartwheels while the boys were doing armpit farts.

Peter and Laurie have traveled extensively since their last album all over Asia and Africa, and their new album has some wonderful material on it including their recording of Guardabarranco's "El Salvador" and the entertaining marriage song "Hard Times in the Middle" -- it's entertaining to hear a married couple sing wittily about marital discord. But I must recommend that Master and Commander fans go look in paricular at the lyrics to "All Around the World" (the song I requested), "Vaya Con Dios" and especially "Anchor", because they all struck me in different ways as Jack/Stephen songs -- the latter is particularly lovely and poignant and sent me straight to Mahon in the HMS Surprise era.

Afterwards I picked up the kids from camp, wrote up the Emmy nominations as they pertained to Star Trek and watched "Miri" for reviewing tomorrow -- it holds up pretty well but I am not really sure what I want to say about it in the context of the series overall. I will have to do a rush job anyway, as I am meeting [livejournal.com profile] beeej for lunch, then picking up my kids and going straight to a local Borders where Jennifer Cutting and Grace Griffith are performing...I love summer so much, with all the free folk music! We figure it will be mobbed with people getting in line early to pick up their copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I find it ironic that I will be in a bookstore tomorrow but will not be waiting around until midnight for that but cannot give up the opportunity to hear Grace sing "The Sands of Time" live. The kids just wanted assurances that we would stay for the beginning of the party, free food and possible prizes.

There's one more thing I wanted to say about Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince before reading it which perhaps explains my trepidation both about the book and about talking about it with other fans. It's about Sirius. ) And hey, did you read about the 'Tatooine planet' astronomers discovered? To think everyone laughed at Lucas for the humanoids with the double suns! Hey, vegetarians and vegans in L.A.: Madeleine Bistro is my brother-in-law's restaurant that just opened, go read the reviews and check it out -- he did all the cooking for his wedding and the food was beyond phenomenal. And now I must go watch the end of Restoration and finish getting my David Thewlis fix, even though a cast this good and cinematography this pretty really deserved a better screenplay.
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Eminent Victorians )

As I explained earlier to [livejournal.com profile] rosedemon, I am very boring tonight and this post will mostly consist of, "Took son to orthodontist, wrote article on Jeri Ryan, watched Troy on HBO." Cat has new medicine which hopefully will make her feel more like eating. Son had orthodontist appointment with no major revelations as no changes can be made in the braces until his upper incisors come all the way in. Kids are loving camp, which is nice because it's sports and chess (they have science and arts & crafts but the kids have not wanted to do either) and my parents seemed to feel that they needed to go to far more expensive camp for gifted children or something, but they have gone to this camp for three years now, where they play soccer half the day and get plenty of exercise and like the counselors (who are mostly University of Maryland students) and get along with the other kids without much competition, and I remember snark and bitchiness from most of my summer camp experiences and just do not see the need to subject them to four weeks of that in an increasingly short summer.

So I think I am taking a break from LJ this weekend. I don't want to read my friends list beginning midnight GMT because there is no way I am going to have The Book read over the weekend -- I have too many other things to do, both things that are obligations and things I want to do, and I don't particularly want to rush through it just so I can avoid running into "OH MY GOD ____ DIES" or even "OH MY GOD THAT THING THAT HAPPENS ON PAGE ___!" which will drive me nuts just knowing there's something specific to anticipate. And I don't want to post about how I feel before or as I read even in a purely subjective, spoiler-free sense, because I am quite tired of being told all the reasons my opinions are unfair, invalid, thick-headed, conservative, radical, misogynistic, feminist, homophobic, heterophobic, anti-Christian, anti-pagan, too literal, too subjective, too personal, too vulgar, too snobby, etc. It doesn't really bother me when the subject is political, because political debate is vital to free thought and action and I learn so much from people even when I disagree with them (unless the subject is legal reproductive choice but we've been over that ground). But when it comes to things that should be fun, diverting or entertaining? If Harry Potter matters to me because I saw a character who was a gay role model to me, and if I say it will bug me a lot of this character stops serving that function, then I don't really care if you think I am being unfair, invalid, thick-headed, conservative, radical, misogynistic, feminist, homophobic, heterophobic, anti-Christian, anti-pagan, too literal, too subjective, too personal, too vulgar, too snobby, etc.

Sigh. I am so attached to my current interpretation/rationalization of Snape and I'm sure he's about to get drastically revised. And I am insanely attached to my Lupin. I've been thinking a lot about why GOF struck me as a disappointment overall and why OOTP turned me into a serious fan, and it all comes down to those two characters -- oh, there are issues in the writing where I could pick out spots in GOF that I think are very badly edited and spots in OOTP that I think are rather brilliant, but bottom line it's never been about Harry for me. I perked up watching the first movie when Rickman swooped in and reading to my son when Lupin came on the scene, and my reading ever since has been strongly focused around them -- even my pro-Sirius bias had to do with Lupin. And his role in OOTP went beyond my expectations, and that really excited me, but I am not expecting anything similar in HBP, and while I agree that "my" Snape would not be nearly as interesting a dramatic foil for Harry as a more sinister Snape, I really enjoy the morally ambiguous line he has trod thus far and don't see how that can continue going into the end of the series. I believe it is fair to say that I am not a true Harry Potter fan, and next time I get attached to characters they should be fully my own so I can do what I want with them (I say this every single time I fall into a fandom). So there.


A massive stone on Ruby Beach that looks so much like a totem pole to me -- I can see faces in two different places!
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Missing Dates )

Yeah, everyone thinks I'm wrong about something so I'm just not going to talk about anything of substance because my cat is sick again and I am stressed out and really not in the mood for arguing. Did you know that Patrick Stewart is 65 today? And Karuna Arts has purple rose fabric star skirts and tops on sale. Most importantly, iTunes has Elton John's "One More Arrow" as a single, which is very important as my vinyl copy of Too Low For Zero has vanished somewhere in our basement and we don't have that one on CD, since "I'm Still Standing" and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" are on the greatest hits collection. iTunes also has Jennifer Cutting's Ocean, the album I have been babbling about for the past few days that "The Sands of Time" is on -- don't take my word for it, go read The Digital Folk Life's review.

I need to do a quick grovel to [livejournal.com profile] melina123, who transferred a few beloved videotapes to DVD for me awhile ago because I was terrified that something would happen to my tapes and none of them are available on commercial DVD. Tonight I had a huge craving to watch The Miracle, the movie Neil Jordan made before The Crying Game about life, jazz, art, sex and improv -- a movie that never dimishes no matter how many times it gets rewatched. It's about these two bored teenagers in an Irish seacoast town who entertain each other by making up stories about all the people they know, and a crazy summer when a circus and a mysterious woman (played by my longtime lust object Beverly D'Angelo) come to town and make them both decide to grow up.


Tacoma Glass )


ETA: Here is a link to images of the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Yes, it's the same artist who did all the glasswork on the footbridge: Dale Chihuly, who has an extensive description of the Tacoma bridge and its construction here (thanks, [livejournal.com profile] cionaudha!)
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From 'Jubilate Agno' )

The kids started camp and came home sunburnt and happy, I wrote two articles, total porn for [livejournal.com profile] rinsbane's birthday and most of my trip report and photo captions, we all watched I, Robot which was much better than I'd heard and very entertaining to watch with the kids the week after we saw "What are Little Girls Made Of?" as there are so many identical themes. Otherwise my day was taken up with listening obsessively to "The Sands of Time" and doing chores. This week everything sounds like a Remus/Sirius song to me -- I think I am trying to brace myself in case Rowling does something awful to Snape and I need to go hide somewhere and regroup for awhile. If she kills Snape or Lupin off, I will forgive her, but if she does anything cringe-worthy to Snape or turns Lupin definitively heterosexual then I will be most unhappy.

Trek news: The Trouble With Tribbles is newly available as a free eBook. I have never nor will I ever forgive Gerrold for his contemptuousness toward slash -- it isn't as if his work isn't just this side of fanfic, utterly derivative of Heinlein in places -- but it's entertaining to read his account of the filming of the episode and what the cast and crew were like, particularly since it's free. [livejournal.com profile] apaulled came home today with Like, Omigod! The '80s Pop Culture Box (Totally) so we have been indulging in listening to Reaganomics-era crap this evening.

In other news, I hope everyone got out of the path of the hurricane, the National Zoo has a baby panda, it figures George Bush would use a tragedy in Europe as an excuse to promote his own agenda and man, now that the notes are out there although I have serious issues with the treatment of the journalists involved, I hope Karl Rove goes down over Valerie Plame -- boy do his excuses sound like splitting hairs over the difference between having sexual relations and having oral sex a la Clinton only with much, much greater consequences. (I don't think we can split hairs over who is a "real" investigative journalist versus someone with a bias -- every single reporter has some sort of bias, as do the publications they work for, and denying them freedom to protect their sources only makes it more likely that we will have no attempt at objective investigative journalism, only reiteration of previously established ideological positions.)


"Huh? No, I didn't dig that hole! I have been lying here ASLEEP, I tell you! I am innocent!"
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Stanza )

The score for Sunday was Orioles 4, Red Sox 1 (sorry, [livejournal.com profile] all_ahoo *g*). We went with my parents, in-laws and children to the game in Baltimore, where I regret to say that more than half the party were rooting for Boston, since my in-laws are from there, my father will root for whoever has the best chance of beating the Yankees in the East and my older son had been convinced by his grandfathers to follow their lead. This left my mother -- who cannot tell the Red Sox from the White Sox -- my younger son and me to root for the Orioles, who thankfully did not disappoint. And it is hard to come away from Camden Yards disappointed anyway because they have very good crab cakes.

Our original plan was to walk around the harbor and go out for seafood afterward, but it was a very quick game, the kids wanted some down time before camp this week, my in-laws were tired after three days of them visiting, my father's sciatica was bothering him and none of us were very hungry after the stadium food. So instead we came home with my parents, who took the kids to the pool for awhile, then we had pizza. This evening I have been trying to catch up on articles, comments and e-mails, to mixed success! But at least I have sent back all the betas I promised. The kids start camp Monday so hopefully I will be more organized this week!


Camden Yards Record Attendance )
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Study )

I had a perfectly enjoyable child-free Saturday, since my kids are with my in-laws in Pennsylvania and we are not getting them back until we all meet at the Orioles game on Sunday. We went to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, which is across the way from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception so we went there too. The Cultural Center has Marc Chagall's 1957 Bible Series on display, 105 etchings by Chagall (whom the receptionist described to us as a "Jewish gentleman," presuming we were Catholic) based on events and scenes in the Torah and prophetic books of the Bible; a set of pages from the 15th century Borso d'Este illluminated Bible; and a permanent exhibit on the Jewish temples that stood on the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (interestingly, American Catholic rhetoric is just as biased if not more so than Jewish rhetoric on the region: for instance, the exhibit claims that "hovels" were torn down where they were blocking views of the Western Wall, rather than that Muslim homes were destroyed, though the press is fond of blaming Israeli Jews for those sorts of statements). There was also a display of holy cards from the sublime to delightfully cheesy baseball-card type images of saints.

The first time I was ever in the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, I was taking summer theater classes for high school students at adjacent Catholic University's drama department. It was by far the biggest church that I had ever entered and I was absolutely awed. Now I am struck by how much smaller and more modern it seems compared to St. Paul's, Durham Cathedral and York Minster in England, but it is still a magnificent building. There were many candles lit for the victims in London and people crying in the shrines to the various aspects of the Lady. I am incapable of walking into a Catholic church without a deep sense of ambivalence, even a contemporary American one (it was dedicated in 1959) -- the bookstore has a big display of the virulently anti-Semitic book that was Mel Gibson's primary source for The Passion of the Christ, and it felt very strange to be inside a church the same week a leading cardinal declared that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith. This is one of those weeks where I want to take all organized religion and give it to the monkeys -- between allegations of Fundamentalist coercion in the Air Force and signs of religious incompatibility all over the globe causing brutality, it seems worse than useless to me.

Fortunately I had a lovely, relaxing evening of dinner involving crabmeat at Legal Seafood followed by hippie pagan folk music by Jennifer Cutting's Ocean Orchestra, who were playing with Grace Griffith and Lisa Moscatiello at the Lubber Run Amphitheatre in Arlington, Virginia. They call themselves "Celtic music for ancient moderns" and their material includes many of the songs Cutting and Moscatiello sang together when they were in The New St. George as well as a number of absolutely gorgeous "new" (since they're mostly hundreds of years old) songs and arrangements. In addition to "The Mermaid", "Our Captain Cried All Hands" and various other sea-themed folk songs, they did a version of The Shocking Blue's "Venus" which believe me you have never heard until you've heard it with bagpipes, button accordion, pennywhistle and bouzouki. Traditionalists may not approve of their new CD Ocean as it contains arrangements incorporating electric keyboard and bass, a full drum kit and synthesizer sounds, but it's absolutely gorgeous music and quite inspiring to me. Why do hymns feel so different to me performed by a folk group than in a church?

Stupid fannish thought for the day -- okay, actually stupidest thought for the day among many: Someone should do a Snape songvid to Madonna's "Live To Tell." On which subject I would like to announce that I am writing The Sappiest Snape/Lupin Story Ever. I feel that I am entitled, as it is possible after Saturday that I will never write another Snape/Lupin story nor ever want to. If I am wrong about that, I will issue a formal apology in the form of serious snark. *g* In other entertainment news, Michelle Forbes as Commander Cain justifies to myself my ongoing disinterest in watching the new BSG, because while I love Forbes, Lloyd Bridges OWNS that role and I loathe the idea of it "reimagined"! And may I just say that the previews for that new show Prison Break make it look great; I hope it's as good as its trailer.


Faith and Art )


And yeah, I am totally behind on work and particularly correspondence and comments...[livejournal.com profile] robinwest, I swear I have not forgotten you! Next week my children are in camp and I promise to be better. Hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend!
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The Expiration )

I spent much of the day watching movies and yakking with [livejournal.com profile] perkypaduan, who brought me a DVD of Stories of Lost Souls which has short films starring James Gandolfini, Cate Blanchett, Michael Gambon, Hugh Jackman (directed by his wife), Paul Bettany, Keira Knightley, Billy Boyd and I forget who else but they were great casts and mostly interesting stories, kind of funky (the promo said like The Twilight Zone but they weren't supernatural per se). We had McDonalds fruit and walnut salads for lunch and I am glad to report that they are quite good for when you need a quick fix and are not stopping to get a better variety of fruit and nuts. I am still not feeling well due to excessive female TMI and waking up has been a chore this week...I have gotten much too little exercise but I am just not feeling great.

In the evening I wrote up "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", then we watched the second half of Pride and Prejudice. I stand by my opinion that the miniseries is extremely well done and highly enjoyable, but I was conscious that I was enjoying the performances of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth more than I was actually infatuated with Elizabeth and Darcy, two characters whom I fear will never properly grow on me after all this time. (And may I just add that I never saw the Austen-O'Brian comparisons in terms of writing style? Call this blasphemous but I like O'Brian much better.) It's really a fantastic cast in all the parts, and I finally figured out that the youngest sister was played by Horatio Hornblower's wife (am I the only person who rather likes and feels sorry for Maria -- she has few chances for happiness in life, and anyway she has to share him with Pellew and Bush *g*).

I don't actually have any deep thoughts to share on P&P, being such an Austen dilettante and having studiously avoided her wherever possible in college and grad school -- I'm not sure I even finished Emma -- but I have warm feelings stemming from the fact that my best friend at the University of Chicago, who died of cystic fibrosis several years ago and several years before she completed her degree, was my first friend with a serious crush on Colin Firth and actually forwarded me some P&P fan fiction because she knew I read fanfic and figured that, if nothing else, might convert me. Karen, wherever you are, I'm thinking of you.

[livejournal.com profile] fridayfiver: 7/7 )
[livejournal.com profile] fannish5: What 5 fannish places (real or fictional) would you like to visit? )


Water, Water Everywhere )
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Age Moves )

I'm exhausted just from watching the news today so I can only imagine how people more directly affected by it or living closer to some of the events must feel. Had the kids home in the morning, tried to work around them -- not very successfully -- then my in-laws came down, we all went for kabobs for dinner and they took the kids back to Pennsylvania with them, so [livejournal.com profile] apaulled and I watched the first half of the BBC-A&E Pride and Prejudice miniseries which I have been putting off for years because I resented the book so very much, first in high school and then in college. And I am still unable to get quite past the inherent class snobbery and liking Elizabeth's younger sisters much better than her, but I really like Jennifer Ehle, and am completely infatuated with the music and the dancing, and Colin Firth has finally, finally made me understand what people see in Darcy; I still don't like him exactly but what an utter doofus, sabotaging himself at every turn! In some twisted way he reminds me of Snape. I can see that after resisting him, too, for so long, I am going to be infected with Firth-love and have to sit through both Bridget Jones movies (particularly now that I have gotten over my dislike of Renee Zellwegger, courtesy Cinderella Man and the far greater odiousness of certain other overhyped actresses). I will probably have more to say on the miniseries itself after watching the second half, but I am very grateful to Alan Rickman and The Barchester Chronicles convincing me that I really ought to give the Beeb P&P a chance. And also to Bride and Prejudice, out on DVD this week, for making me realize that there are aspects of the story I like in spite of myself so long as they're presented as inherently over-the-top rather than in the deadly serious context of lit crit.

Since I missed doing them last week and it's Friday again already:
[livejournal.com profile] thefridayfive: Photos )
[livejournal.com profile] fannish5: Movies )


Purple Mountains' Majesty )

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