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!
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!)
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!"
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 )
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 )
People in London -- please post two words ("I'm fine") if you can, in your own journal so everyone can see it. My good friend who writes for The Guardian is, thank god...I walked by that spot near Russell Square with her earlier this year.

I would have missed the latest excruciating misogynistic idiocy from Rick Santorum had it not been for [livejournal.com profile] vertigo66. How can this man's electorate not be ashamed to say they voted for this man?

Oh wait, wait, that's right, it's because of our CULTURE OF LIFE. So now the Republicans want to speed up the death penalty, possibly killing innocent people and certainly killing a disproportionate number of minorities and poor people. They're spearheaded by that hypocrite Senator Kyl, who has voted yes on all the anti-abortion bills and has a 0% rating from NARAL -- what a right-to-lifer, so long as you're a fetus and not a woman or a man who can't afford a lawyer.

Have I mentioned yet this month my utter lack of respect for the anti-choice, anti-human rights movement in the U.S.? And oh, yes, please unfriend me over that statement if it offends you, because I am sure that when I get going on Supreme Court appointees, it will only upset you further. This is the last time I am going to try to explain this. )

Quote my uncle sent me from last Sunday's Portland Oregonian: "Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives."

And what a fun time to be a journalist, with freedom of the press under unprecedented attack. Woodward and Bernstein would probably go to jail if they were investigating Watergate today. And the really scary thing is that Nixon's crimes don't even seem all that heinous compared to what's going on now.
The Hug )

That poem breaks me in different places every time I read it. Partly because I have no real desire to be twenty-two again and yet I know exactly what he means. Well, perhaps in terms of health and ease of losing weight I wouldn't mind being twenty-two...

I don't even know where today went. Kids were at a friend's house for four hours and I wish I could say that I got significant things accomplished while they were out, but I'm not entirely sure what I did, besides having a very nice lunch with [livejournal.com profile] gblvr. I wrote up a fairly interesting interview with Denise Crosby and tried to turn a nutty fan report on a Kate Mulgrew appearance into an article, though it wasn't easy to do without howling as the major focus of the report was Kate's response to innuendo about herself and Jeri Ryan. Somewhere I have a taped interview that could probably get me and Kate both in trouble if I ever published comments that we both agreed only after the fact were probably best left off the record...

Younger son is on a campaign to get a Nintendo DS for his birthday later this month. He has a Game Boy Advance and frankly I can't figure out what the real advantages of a DS are, other than having a stylus that I doubt he'd ever use and the ability to play a few more first-person-shooter games that I am positive he doesn't need. Are there any other parents out there with experience with both the Advance and DS who have advice in this regard? $100+ seems like a lot of money to me for a piece of equipment that seems rather redundant.

I would like to blame thank [livejournal.com profile] keelywolfe for this, which has been my family's soundtrack for the evening. It just figures that it's by the badger-badger people. Our other excitement for the evening was watching "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" which, like so many original Star Trek episodes, was even better than I remembered it. I wonder why I find "Mudd's Women" so intolerable when I like so many other episodes with elements that I should find painfully sexist, yet I can brush aside so much more easily? Even "That Which Survives" doesn't irritate me so much, since the women are programmed rather than real.

Tall Trees )
Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks )

Not much to report today. On top of lingering trip chaos, am having serious female TMI that necessitated two calls to the doctor, though she says I should just wait it out and see if it's as bad in a couple of days. So apart from bad cramping, attempts to feed, entertain and get children to do chores, dinner once again with parents since mother attempted to take children to the pool in the late afternoon for the 20 minutes between thunderstorms and offered leftovers, and an accidental rereading of much of Master and Commander in search of a quote for someone since LJ's memories were down most of the afternoon and evening, I did little worth mentioning. Though I do have to mention the astrologer who is suing NASA over the comet impact, claiming that the disorder this causes in the universe has cost her the equivalent of hundreds of millions in distress. Can I blame the stars being out of alignment for my off-cycle, extremely unpleasant time of month?

The rest of this post is in large part for [livejournal.com profile] ribby, since she claims nostalgia, and [livejournal.com profile] rinsbane, who should know what she is getting into when she goes to the Olympic Peninsula. Oh, and also for [livejournal.com profile] wolfma and [livejournal.com profile] mecurtin who seem to know far more about the natural world than I do and always tell me something interesting when I have a Stephen Maturin moment. I am confident that they at least will not say "ewww." *g*

Banana Slugs! )
The Road )

We had a family-focused Fourth of July, with everyone managing to sleep late (again) as we are not completely used to East Coast time, so that by the time we had brunch (eggs, pancakes, turkey sausage, etc.) it was really lunchtime and my parents were itching to come up with some group bonding activity, as we had nixed going downtown in the late afternoon for the fireworks upon learning that DC was planning to test its emergency evacuation routes after the show which we were certain would lead to chaos worse than the usual exodus. Instead we went to Batman Begins with my mother, though my father bailed at the last minute as he had someone coming out to try to fix his cable which had been down for a week since a short during a thunderstorm. I give it two thumbs way up on the acting -- even Katie Holmes wasn't bad -- and I liked the storyline, particularly the details on Bruce Wayne's childhood and all the added ninja training. But the action sequences near the end all dragged on a bit long for my taste, which is a criticism I have had of pretty much every major film I have seen this summer.

I know there is a myth that audiences must have explosions, flashing lights, new camera angles, stop-motion swordfights and car chases every three minutes or they become bored, but I hit a point where I no longer can tell or care who's who and what's happening -- we all know the hero is going to survive and the bad guy is going to fall, one way or another, whether it's Star Wars or Batman or Kingdom of Heaven or Cinderella Man. Last night I was up till all hours folding laundry and put on Close My Eyes, the Alan Rickman sibling incest movie (he is not one of the people committing incest unfortunately), which like so many non-mainstream movies has a choppy beginning, no pat resolution and no clear moralizing in the interim -- it wasn't even entirely clear that we were supposed to like any of the characters, nor dislike any of them, no matter what they said or did -- and it was so damn refreshing! It is also possible that I was distracted by a garrulous, self-absorbed Rickman and a fully frontally naked, very young Clive Owen, but Batman Begins had just as many attractive men (Christian Bale Liam Neeson Gary Oldman Rutger Hauer <3) and I managed to be bored during parts anyway.

Anyway, my father came out to meet us after the movie and we walked around the lake to the new restaurant with the fire pit and the wood grill. I was originally going to get seafood, but the smoke smelled so good that I ended up having wood-fired rotisserie chicken which was very good -- in fact everyone liked everything they got, from my son's salmon caesar salad to my husband's crab cakes to my father's burger. After dinner we needed to stretch our legs, so we went out to watch the geese -- the adolescents of a few weeks ago now have the full markings of adult Canadian geese, while among my favorite gaggle of eight, half are looking distinctly like Canadian geese as well while the other half are losing their yellow down and growing the white feathers of the very small group of domestic geese that lives in the lake. There were people paddle-boating and the fountains were on so it was a lovely walk.

Fireworks are not the same on television, but the advantage of watching them there was that we could switch from the pretty good DC show to the absolutely spectacular New York show just by turning from PBS to NBC -- this is a time when my father's plasma screen, great stereo and HDTV really made a difference. So we watched fireworks together, just not live ones! I wish I had been feeling more patriotic...every time I started to, they cut to a shot of the White House and there went that. The DC show had some good music from the National Symphony (though I could have done without the big Gloria Estefan celebration, but hey, Jimmy Smits -- hopefully our next president, at least on television, introduced her). The New York show felt more all-American for all its not trying so hard and despite the presence of Donald Trump.

Tomorrow [livejournal.com profile] apaulled goes back to work, older son's best friend returns from Canada and I must catch up on a hundred things. In that spirit, here are some photos of delays we encountered besides those having to do with United Airlines, most of which amused us at the time!

Travel Obstructions )
America )

I have still not worked my way to coherence but the suitcases are away, there have been six loads of laundries finished and folded, there is enough food for next week in the fridge and I have finished with the correspondence and bills that had to be attended to today. Also, I got to see [livejournal.com profile] twinkledru who came over to bring me Doctor Who! I have only seen the second episode, which was on the last night we were in England, but there were far too many other distractions while we were in Portsmouth for me to pay proper attention and ever since a friend wrote to me about the season finale I have been dying to watch it. So I am very excited, and all I had to offer her in return was William Shatner. *g*

I am sad that I finished Something Rotten on the plane and have no more Jasper Fforde to read. He pushed all my affectionate Stanley Fish-Robert Scholes buttons with this explanation, spoken by the protagonist, Thursday Next, to Hamlet (who in this book is out of the Shakespeare canon and living in the "real" world): "In all honesty the reader does most of the work...each interpretation of an event, setting or character is unique to each of those who read it because they clothe the author's description with the memory of their own experiences. Every character they read is actually a complex amalgam of people that they've met, read or seen before -- far more real than it can ever be just from the text on the page. Because every reader's experiences are different, each book is unique for each reader...I'd argue that every time a book is read by the same person it is different again -- because the reader's experiences have changed, or he is in a different frame of mind." Then there's the moment in The Well of Lost Plots where Fforde reveals that sea horses and platypuses are fictional -- "You don't think anything that weird could have evolved by chance, do you?" -- and the nursery rhyme characters on strike, using "You're talking complete Lear" as an insult -- "'King?' 'No, Edward.'" I so very much enjoyed that series!

Today none of us were up before 10:30 (most of us not before 11:30) and we mostly did chores, apart from a short hike at Huntley Meadows because we needed to get out of the house. There we saw three snakes, three deer, one heron, one barred owl, countless turtles, frogs and dragonflies and a variety of birds including Canadian geese and redwinged blackbirds. I took pictures with which I was very pleased, particularly the one of the owl in the dark woods, so I am going to do what I did when we got home from England and post photos from the Olympic Peninsula in installments with occasional interruptions. Now I am fried again and going to crash -- the headache I managed to stave off during two days of travel decided it had had enough with the sunlight glinting off the wetlands and is now demanding that I sleep. Still not sure what we're doing to celebrate the Fourth of July but it will not involve going downtown and fighting crowds at the National Mall. It is going to be a slow process catching up!

Summertime Wetlands )

Have a wonderful Fourth of July, everyone who is celebrating! If there seem to be few current reasons to feel patriotic, one can always reflect upon John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who died within hours of each other on July 4, 1826. I can think of a few contemporary politicians who would do well to spend the day reading their writings.
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