Preludes for Prepared Piano 7 )

Older son is home from Boston, along with numerous loads of laundry. Apparently he had a great time: got to tour the nanotech lab at M.I.T., study sea life at Woods Hole, go on a dinner cruise past Bunker Hill and the Constitution, buy a baseball cap at Faneuil Hall, work on Plimoth Plantation, visit the Mayflower (I am highly amused that he was in Plymouth on both sides of the Atlantic in the same month), visit the science center and aquarium and have donuts one morning for breakfast provided by his science teacher. He took several hundred photos and I may post some of them, as he did some awesome stuff and I am envious, as I have never been to M.I.T. or Woods Hole!

My day was not as exciting, though I did write a more-positive-than-expected review of Star Trek: The Next Generation's "The Battle" -- the one with the Ferengi who makes Picard hallucinate being on the Stargazer, which I sat through the first time wondering why in heck they hadn't made Riker the captain of the Enterprise. We had California Tortilla for dinner after the kids rejected our initial plan to take them to Red Lobster, because they had several days of catching up on video games to do (older son had not yet even seen his Pokemon Diamond game!) and Cal Tort was faster and closer to home. (Not to mention cheaper, and since they didn't care what they ate anyway, we figured we'd save the Red Lobster gift card -- which we got as a Christmas present from [ profile] apaulled's aunt and uncle -- until everyone is really in the mood.)

[ profile] fridayfiver: Get up, stand up! )
[ profile] thefridayfive: Favorites )
[ profile] fannish5: Cool gadgets )
[ profile] hp_fridayfive: Choose a character )

Dudley Castle )

For Saturday we are debating whether to go to Maryland Day at the University of Maryland, when all the departments have really cool displays and open houses, particularly the science and agriculture divisions, or whether to go to Shakespeare's birthday party at the Folger Library and then to the National Arboretum to see the azaleas. Oh, dilemma! None of us can decide which we want to do more!
Psalm Nine )

[ profile] perkypaduan came over with oranges and Volver, which I meant to see when it was in the theater but never quite made it. It was utterly fantastic...neither the genre I was expecting nor the twist I was expecting although I suspected the nature of the real crime from the beginning, which made it all the better. Penelope Cruz (whom I have resisted liking in recent years because of her association with that other Cruise -- everyone he touches turns loathsome for me) is both superb and unbelievably gorgeous...she has curves and doesn't try to look ridiculously young and is so much more beautiful than any of the 20somethings shoved on us in other films. I love, love this movie and will be watching it again very soon, though I almost wish there were one male character in the movie who wasn't worthless...this is very much a story about how women support each other because all the men in their lives let them down so badly.

I wrote an entertaining article on William Shatner's numerous upcoming appearances in which I learned not only that Shatner will appear on the reality show Fast Cars & Superstars, but that now links to slash art. With a Gorn, no less! Go Kirk! I also wrote a less entertaining article about all the money-making schemes surrounding sending Scotty's ashes into space, in which I tried to be nice but covering the post-death Doohan circus has not been pleasant. Had dinner with my parents, since we can't tomorrow -- we are going to pick up older son from school after his return from Boston, where apparently he has had a great time (based on the text messages I have received about buying baseball caps, visiting M.I.T., taking photos of the Mayflower, etc.), and my parents are going to New York to my brother-in-law's birthday party to which my sister did not invite me until today.

British Animals )

Watched Smallville, which I enjoyed more than perhaps any episode in the past two years...I don't care how hot Oliver is, I still love Clark and Lex together, and given that what first attracted me to the show was the metaphor of growing up superhero as a parallel for growing up gay, and later how the distraction of power is only a surface consolation when the person you love doesn't love you back, everything about this episode was right up my alley. Even Lana, for once. Spoilers. ) Also watched Shark, which was well-played but the plot was stolen right out of a case I'd read about, so I knew where it was going from the beginning. More spoilers. )
Psalm Three )

Yeah, officially sick of pollen season...quite literally, though the trees do look lovely. I've had a headache for three days now and I know it has nothing to do with what I'm eating, how much exercise I'm getting, etc. Had another quiet day with laundry, looking up deck and fence regulations for the neighborhood (which included a long walk around the back path looking at numerous decks and fences), covering Trek comics news and taking younger son to violin.

In the evening we went to the elementary school book fair -- probably my last elementary school book fair! -- where I bought a collection of poetry I had previously not heard of, This Same Sky, a collection of poems in translation about the human condition edited by Naomi Shihab Nye, though younger son did not want any books since he just got the latest Erin Hunter book (the book fair was several volumes behind). There was a picture book for very young children of the tortoise that adopted a hippo, even though they no longer share an enclosure (here is the blog about them and how they worried that as Owen grew, he would become a threat to Mzee).

British Birds )

In other animal news, I read that George Lucas and Mark Hamill are doing a Star Wars parody for Adult Swim, Robot Chicken: Star Wars, this proving that Lucas has learned nothing about poultry since Howard the Duck. And the Smithsonian is going to charge for admission to its butterfly pavilion, the first time it has ever charged for admission to a permanent attraction, which sucks. But Spinal Tap is reuniting to fight global warming, which rocks in several ways, and Mexico City is legalizing abortion right as our own Supreme Court is chipping away at Roe v. Wade. And on my local news, when they were covering the new Earth-like planet discovered 50 light years away, the science reporter said it would take hundreds of thousands of years to reach it, and the anchor responded, "That's only if Kirk and Scotty don't get the impulse engines fixed."
The Violins )

Quiet Tuesday...the pollen is really bothering me, so I tried sleeping late and taking drugs, but I think the only real help is when the flowers start dropping off. I was going to meet my mother for lunch, but then she remembered she was having a pedicure and couldn't get there till I needed to be home to retrieve younger son, who was most anxious for the school day to end because Erin Hunter's newest Warriors book was coming out, plus a manga about one of the cats. So we went to Barnes & Noble before Hebrew school, where I was excited because I thought I had found a new Rachel Pollack book on the Tarot on the bargain table, only to get home and discover that it's a book I already have with a different cover...oh well!

Wrote up an interview with Avery Brooks, who is always interesting -- he's recording an audio production of Roots, which he did not appear in, though he and Kate Mulgrew were both in the dreadful holiday TV movie Roots: The Gift which gives me horribly politically incorrect fantasies about Mirror Universe Janeway/Sisko (and Janeway/LaForge and Janeway/Tuvok...Roots: The Gift really has a dream cast for such a mediocre script). Speaking of politically incorrect Star Trek-related TV fantasies, Boston Legal went for utterly unrealistic social commentary but it was still fun to watch, and Denise and Brad are so adorable! Spoilers. )

Magical Animals )

I see that scientists have found kryptonite, though it isn't radioactive. And more importantly, Fairport Convention will play at the 2007 Herndon Festival on May 31st! Now Be Thankful!
From 'Venus and Adonis' )

I can't believe I missed the Bard's birthday! I didn't even think about it until I was writing an article about Patrick Stewart teaching at Oxford and it hit me that they picked Shakespeare's birthday for his first lecture. The Folger Shakespeare Library's annual celebration isn't until next weekend so I was all thrown off. (The other Trek article for the day was about how The Next Generation episode "The High Ground" has never been shown in the UK or Ireland because of Data's explanation that Ireland would reunify in the future after a terrorist attack, and it's being shown this week at a Belfast festival and is still causing controversy despite the huge shift in Irish politics since the episode was made -- I love it when Star Trek news is about something bigger than Star Trek.)

So we all know now I have psychotic dreams, right? Last night I dreamed that I was trying to clean the basement and pile things in the backyard, and ran out of room, and finally set fire to the pile in the yard because it was the only way to get rid of all the stuff, and the house caught fire and I was thinking this sucks but at least now I don't have to try to clean the basement. I woke up with a headache and in a bad mood but a sense of purpose, and instead of taking a walk in the morning I went outside and took down 90% of our ancient backyard fence, which I have never liked and wanted to get rid of ever since the kids were really little and I couldn't see them in the backyard over it. It really never occurred to me before that I could do this singlehandedly, but at this point the wood is so rotted that it came down really easily except the big posts.

Ironically, while I was doing this, my husband was finally (after only, oh, three years of nudging and getting some quotes myself) talking to people about repairing the deck and cracked front step which you can see in squirrel and chipmunk photos. Yep, going to cost as many thousand dollars as we feared...actually the deck is going to be less than our worst case scenarios and we can probably push it out a foot if we want, which we are debating, and we're trying to decide whether we need flagstones over the concrete in front. We are the opposite of handy around a house and garden and I imagine anyone who has known me a long time, like [ profile] vertigo66, is laughing uproariously at the image of me taking a fence down.

Arthurian Britain )

Am very happy to have Heroes back and after it we watched Boston Legal from two weeks ago so we'd be caught up for this week's episode, which was supposed to air last week but was pre-empted for one of the specials about Virginia Tech. I still love most of the actors on Heroes (even the people who play characters I really dislike, like Nathan Petrelli, are well-cast) but the mythology is getting convoluted enough to send up my warning feelers and when characters are quoting the tag line from The X-Files movie and borrowing rationales from The X-Men movie, it makes me a little nervous. As for Boston Legal, I see that I complained about Brad not having enough big scenes without full information! Spoilers. )
Fiddler Jones )

Older son left bright and early for his week-long field trip, so we were all up very early, and while younger son was at Hebrew school I took a long walk in the neighborhood. Then, after Hebrew school, we went to get Pokemon Diamond for older son and Pokemon Pearl for younger son (they've been saving and older son's one disappointment was not to be able to get it in time for the bus ride), and because we were up in Gaithersburg, we went looking for baby geese both at the lake at Rio and the one in Montgomery Village. We saw no actual goslings -- there were a couple of mother geese sitting on nests across the water from us, hissing, and numerous adult geese paired off in what appeared to be mating couples -- but we saw something even more interesting, a colony of great blue herons nesting on an island at Montgomery Village, all these enormous birds at the tops of these trees!

I ended up crashing hard for an hour in the late afternoon after getting all that sun, then woke up around dinnertime because younger son had a rehearsal for next weekend's violin recital in the evening. The entire concert is Vivaldi, with the younger students playing concertos and four of the older students each playing the solo parts of The Four Seasons. They are performing in a local parish, St. Jane Frances de Chantal, which has a gorgeous new church building less than seven years old. There were still Easter flowers around the altar and brilliant evening light streaming in through the stained glass. The acoustics are terrific and the kids really sounded great considering that this is the first time they have performed as a group; my son has practiced a couple of times with the violin teacher's daughter, who plays cello, and with the boy who has lessons right after his, but there were easily 30 kids playing the first concerto who didn't know one another.

I will eventually post local spring photos, but I cannot resist another few days of dwelling in Great Britain, so here is...

Caerphilly Castle )

We saw a huge bullfrog and many turtles sunning themselves in the lake too, which reminds me that my uncle sent me a link to the Great Turtle Race, where sponsor companies support Pacific leatherback turtles as they migrate from Costa Rica to the Galapagos Islands and people can cheer them on. I picked Freedom because I like the name (Yahoo's turtle is called Purple Lightning). I'd have rooted for the one sponsored by Drexel University, but it's apparently still lounging on the beach in Costa Rica!
The Fiddler of Dooney )

Since older son leaves early Sunday morning for his week-long school trip to New England, including a visit to M.I.T. and many of the Boston highlights we visited three years ago (younger son is quite envious about the aquarium, which has three kinds of penguins), we did mostly utilitarian things Saturday, like getting haircuts for everyone, doing a bit of shopping and washing, drying, sorting and folding lots of laundry. Younger son had soccer early in the morning while older son was working at Hebrew school, and in the afternoon we went for a hike at Meadowside Nature Center which was surprisingly crowded, as we had not anticipated all the Earth Day-related activities that might be going on. So it was not all that eventful a day, though quite lovely out, with temperatures in the 70s and trees in bloom all around where we were walking.

Had a bit of a headache when I woke up and on a lark checked the ingredients on the supposedly organic yogurt I ate yesterday, and it's got high fructose corn syrup in it! And the "pure vanilla extract" my husband uses in cookies also has corn syrup in it. I've been aware for a long time that we get corn fed to us in products we don't even think about, but since I've been reading labels it's been astounding to me: even powdered malt extract, which I thought by definition was germinated barley, has corn in it. I'm going to have to read the ingredients on every single thing we eat regularly; I don't live close enough to either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods to do all our shopping there, even if we could afford it.

Chepstow Castle )

Finally watched the "young Denny Crane" episode of Boston Legal, which I had missed while we were in England. It's definitely one of Shatner's best performances on the series and the impression is even greater given that the episode uses clips of him playing a lawyer in an episode of Westinghouse Studio One called "The Defender" that someone at ABC pulled out of a vault -- he's stuck with horrible cliched lines and overly dramatic music and he's still compelling in that bad old lawyer drama. Really, except for poor Brad who spends most of the episode stuck in a ventilation shaft, it's a great episode for everyone: Spoilers. )
Elegy for a Jet Pilot )

Not a great deal to report. Took an hour-long walk in the gorgeous late morning weather and looked at all the flowers in the neighborhood. Wrote a review of "Justice", the terrible Next Gen episode where Wesley Crusher is sentenced to die and Picard almost lets him, based on the world's most idiotic misreading of the Prime Directive. Had dinner with my parents, discussed the week's events, almost became irate when my father tried to blame ME for the fact that my sister is being totally unreasonable about celebrating my mother's birthday anywhere but the phenomenally expensive resort where she wants to go. Told him to deal with her himself. Watched the news, saw the NASA stuff, listened to Bush defend Gonzales, wanted to cry some more, switched over to coverage of Aishwarya Rai's wedding and then, to my astonishment, saw a report that the Catholic Church has declared that there is no Limbo. Wow! Am fascinated that a concept that has endured for so long can be swept away with one document.

[ profile] fridayfiver: Don't Let Your Life Pass You By )
[ profile] thefridayfive: Gender Stereotypes )
[ profile] fannish5: Canonical Romances )
[ profile] hp_fridayfive: Love Potions Etc. )

In Dartmoor National Park )
Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey )

Neither of our laptops allowed me to load LiveJournal or several other web sites until about five minutes ago. This meant in essence that I could not watch TV and use the computer at the same time, though for some reason my own computer never had a problem. Husband's initial helpful response was to spend all evening downloading Grateful Dead concerts...oh wait, he does that every evening. I was sure it must have something to do with the router and the way it communicates with the DNS servers, and since the modem is on top of his computer and I really can't do anything with it from here, and he had both laptops going simultaneously to feed his music fetish, I had to wait until he was ready to look at the sites I was telling him to look at to see if we could figure out how to fix it, which ultimately we did (it was the MTU setting -- don't ask me what it means, I just now know where it needs to be set).

Anyway, I couldn't watch Shark and was pretty distracted during Smallville...saw enough not to feel like I was missing much, even with Lynda Carter, even though it looked pretty Chloe-centric with minimal Lana except in her usual Bimbo In Distress role, which leads me to believe that maybe it is time just to give up. Spoilers. ) What else? Fun report on efforts to create a deflector shield to protect astronauts from radiation. Not all that exciting report on Grand Slam last weekend, of which my favorite tidbit was that Colm Meaney invited his television wife, Rosalind Chao, to his real-life wedding last month and that Marc Alaimo and Nana Visitor appeared onstage together for the first time ever (oh man would I have loved to see that -- when he and Louise Fletcher appeared together at Grand Slam, she got asked whether Marc was a good kisser and things went straight downhill from there in the best possible ways). I finally have a Facebook page. And I'm tired and drained from the events of the past few days, and worrying about older son's long field trip when a kid in his grade was just expelled for having a weapon and a hit list, so back to something spiritually uplifting...

Below Tintern Abbey )
Term )

Every time I looked at the news today, I felt sick. The Supreme Court butted into our reproductive rights and put women's lives and health at risk. NBC had a much clearer portrait of the Virginia Tech murderer in his own words and images. My older son's school was briefly on lockdown because a teacher had found a list of student names in a notebook labeled "Hit List" -- the student was quickly detained and the situation hopefully resolved, but not before the principal had sent out an e-mail informing parents of what was going on. It's exhausting to be this stressed out, and gives me a headache.

Fortunately [ profile] gblvr decided that we needed to celebrate the Birthday of the Davids (Hewlett and Tennant) and came over to share Chicken Out with ice cream and The Lake House, the latter because I have a secret thing for Keanu Reeves she has a secret thing for Sandra Bullock it was filmed in Chicago and made me nostalgic for living there, a block from the shore of Lake Michigan in Hyde Park. She also brought her laptop and SGA vids and now I have "Grace Kelly" stuck in my head. So it was a very nice afternoon when I wasn't looking at my own computer screen.

I did write about Abrams confirming Kirk's presence in Star Trek XI and Colm Meaney talking about A Moon for the Misbegotten, which ironically enough my son's violin teacher was talking about as well, having read conflicting reviews in The New Yorker and The New York Times. I really like my son's violin teacher as everything but my son's violin teacher: she's the only person I know in the neighborhood with whom I can discuss Eugene O'Neill, Gustav Dore, the environmental policies (or lack thereof) of the Bush administration and the county's arts funding, but she tends to be scattered during lessons, stopping to yell things to her kids or to be conversational, and my son really needs someone who will keep him focused. Sigh. They have a recital at a church next weekend and a rehearsal this weekend.

A Cheer-Up Penguin Photo Post )

Have just learned that Kristin says "one of the main four [Smallville] castmembers — Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, Allison Mack or Kristin Kreuk — will be killed off before the season is someone who is most definitely a fan favorite. And I think you're gonna freak." Am desperately hoping of the four that it's Lana (I think it's a pretty darned safe bet that it's not Clark). While I assume they could kill Lex in such a way that they could bring him back later as Completely Evil Lex, I doubt I'd bother to watch if they did, and there's no denying that Chloe's the most expendable canon-wise but is she "most definitely a fan favorite" the way Lex is? Ugh. Well, it was fun for awhile but as I learned from Voyager, X-Files and so many other shows, let them go before they become intolerable.

And have just heard on the news that the last two weeks in January were warmer than the past two weeks have been in the DC area. Weird spring.
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