Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spare and Off-Center

Of all the photos I took of my own city this weekend, this is my favorite. [Later: I ended up using this as my Christmas card.]




The Mississippi River
through the decorative iron bridge railing

Evening

Now Fidel has gone back to his one-year teaching gig (third grade) in Illinois, and I am recuperating from an overdose of company (we have entered the sociable sign of Sagittarius--a bit much for me) with a glass of Sangre de Toro this late afternoon, as we slip toward solstice.



Soo Line Building, November 29, 4:40 p.m.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My New Vid: Kirk/Spock + Book IV of the Aeneid

I swore I would get this Dido & Aeneas/Kirk & Spock parody mashup video done in time to clean my apartment before Fidel comes to stay over Thanksgiving, and I have! Finished, that is, not cleaned. Art before dust, I always say.

I was torn about what song to set this vid to--romantic or raunchy? I went with Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" because it throbs with ridiculous '80s sexual energy, which somehow felt fitting. (All sexuality is ridiculous, unless you're in the middle of it. And even then...)

Kirk/Spock: Virgil Says Relax

The still frame here ("they call it marriage") is a photo manipulation ("manip") of images from the episode "Plato's Stepchildren," by the excellent Mortmere.

[Later. I ended up posting 2 versions, the second set to "Nessun Dorma," for a very different feel.]


A picture's worth a mess of words, so I cut and cut and cut the text of my original Virgilian "Rude Person" slash story [links to the Fanlore wiki entry--"Rude Person" stories are literary riffs on a Kirk/Spock parody] to make the vid.
But here's the complete text of my mashup of The Aeneid, Book IV, and the Rude Person story, for posterity. The words are almost all Virgil's--though obviously not ones such as "Pon Farr"-- they're just not in his order.

Oh yeah, and I can't believe I did, but I threw away my translation of parts of the Aeneid I did in Latin class, so this is cobbled together from several different translations, including John Dryden's rhymed version.

Virgil: The Aeneid, Book IV
Translated for the 23rd Century


I. The Shuttle Crash

I sing of the arms of two men, who first entwined on alien shores, and how Pon Farr drove a Vulcan, noted for his Logic, to endure such pleasures, and his proud friend, who loved him above all others, to embrace his inflamed passions.

Captain Kirk and the loyal Vulcan Spock enter their proud vessel.
The craft flies with rapid force through heaven.
But a storm hurls the ship downward, towards a planet,
in foggy vapors bound, and lashed by winds.
They land where vast cliffs and twin crags loom in the sky--
under an overhang opposite is a cave, curtained with rock.

Disembarking, the brave Captain speaks,
“The ship is wrecked, and skies are hostile.”
Thunder rouses the heavens, and dark rain pours down.
Lost in obscure night, the men take shelter in the cave,
and stretch their storm-tossed bodies on the ground.

II. Pon Farr

Then Pon Farr seized the Vulcan and fed his veins a hidden flame.
Wounded by all-pow’rful love, his anxious mind recalls his Captain’s courage, and the noble body of his friend.
Sick with desire, the Vulcan ponders: “I know these traces
of the ancient fire, but truly I think that man’s majestic:
bold in mind and battle, with what grace he speaks.
Like ivory eggs held tight his buttocks seem to me!
He’s the only man who’s stirred my senses.
If my mind was not set, I might yield to this one temptation.
But rather let the ground rip before me, down to its dark abyss, before I violate Logic, or break its laws.”

He tries to stifle the pain deep in his heart, but what use is logic to the impassioned? Pon farr raises hopes in his mind, and weakens his sense of shame. Fettered in the chains of love, Spock burns.

III. Spock and Kirk Speak

Wretched, love-sick, with what words dare he tackle
the Captain? and how should he begin?

His lips unused to love, he begins to speak:
“Hear my misfortune, Jim: I’m driven by a savage longing.
It is in your power to grant solace for my swollen passion.
I beg for this favor: unless you grant it, I’ll repay all by dying.”

Yearning madly, he hangs on his captain’s reply.

As soon as the Captain saw his friend gripped by such heart-sickness, he thought, Though he is not pleasing to my eyes, yet he has touched my mind. In all my trusted secrets he has part.
I owe my life to his boundless favors. How can I scorn his offered bed?

Great-hearted Kirk spoke to the Vulcan:
“I’d be crazy to refuse such an offer, or to let you die.
Certainly take the prize, and quench your hunger.
But the truth’s not escaped me, you’ve always been suspicious of desire. Free your heart of fear, you’re my friend.
Follow up what you say with action. Do it.”
The virtuous captain finished speaking.

IV. Let Love Rule

Spock gladly obeyed his command at once, and let love rise.
Burning with passion, and the madness in their very bones,
they join themselves firmly (marvelous, but not to tell).

They trade roles, just as bees both receive the bounty of the fragrant fields, and swell the cells with liquid honey.
Trembling Earth below and Heavens above approve their union:
The tawny lion roars on mountain heights, and lightning flashes.
So their love is crowned with due delights.

V. The Jealous Doctor

Jealousy races at once between earth and sky:
Immediately she sets her course towards the Doctor
and inflames his mind with words and fuels his anger.

Now she fills the ears of the Doctor with this unwelcome news:
The Captain, a manly presence with whom the Doctor longed to unite, Now reclines all night with the Vulcan,
pressed close, the two abandoned to their pleasures.
With tears for such things, the jealous Doctor hurries
on wings to the planet’s shores.

VI. The Marriage

Meanwhile rosy morn rises up, and the chosen men appear:

The Vulcan first, blazing in green and gold,
His hair dressed with tender leaves, a purple scarf about his waist.
The Captain, the most handsome of all, joins hands with him.
His eyes starred with tawny jasper, hair gilded, so Kirk moves, like Apollo, beauty shining from his noble face.

Virtue has its rewards: the two make no secret of their love, they call it marriage.

The Doctor turns towards the lovers. Viewing these wonderful sights, amazed the doctor stands there, rapt, with fixed gaze.
Humbly, he thinks: Truly I arrive too late. The Captain’s master of what he takes. If such alien people inflame him, how can I begrudge his plans? Who would seek the breaking off of such a love?

Kindled by the glory of destiny, the party was eager to be gone in flight.
The Captain called the winds with the message: “Let us sail.”
So he spoke, and, while speaking, the three vanished, and melted into liquid air far from our sight.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Art History 101: Kirk's Classic Pose

[NB: Don't miss the fuss over the Gorn in Minnesota's political life, over at Momo's Lizard Voter! I hope Ben Stiller's paying attention.]

The contrast between the body language of the old and the new Captain Kirk was in the back of my mind as I rifled through thousands of ST screencaps for my Virgil vid.

Kirk (Shatner) rarely adopts the pose of that representative American male authority figure, the cop: legs spread, weight balanced squarely on two feet--so rarely, it is strikingly noticeable when he does. (E.g. right, in "Who Mourns for Adonais," where, interestingly, he is facing down a Greek god.)

More commonly, he stands contrapposto, or "counterpoise" : with his weight shifted onto one foot (below, left, from "The Devil in the Dark"). This pose is famous in Western art history, from the classical example of the Greek "Doryphoros," or "Spear Bearer" (below, center, made by Polykleitos in about 440 BCE) to Michelangelo's "David" (1504, below, far right).


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[Kirk in Art History, II, here.]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Catullus 16

"Kisses from Catullus" bead-and-wire necklace, by Lydia Gerbig-Fast, found at Bead Arts, and chosen with Lady Penelope in mind (because of the beading).

Really, why am I bothering with boring old Virgil?
The naughty boy of Roman poets, Catullus, is so much juicier!
As Wikipedia notes re Catullus 16: "Latin is an exact language for obscene acts," and Catullus pulled out all stops, as it were, in this Rude Person poem.

I have such fond memories of a college class in which we translated Catullus out loud, line-by-line. The teacher, who was rather a dear dumpling, tried to remain cool when we got to no. 16; but when someone asked him what "pedicabo" actually meant, he blushed furiously and gave a biologically correct reply, rather than a modern-day equivalent. (An insult, in this case, something like "I want to give it to you where the sun don't shine," to be euphemistic.)

Ever after, my Latin buddy Chuck and I used to greet each other on campus by calling out "pedicabo," hoping in our juvenile way that some Classicist was wandering by...

But of course, this is exactly why I'm using Virgil instead:
I'm going for parody, and sidling up to naughtiness is much funnier than openly declaring your intentions to insert Tab A into Slot B.

["Kisses from Catullus" earrings, right, by same artist as above.]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Virgil Says Relax

Finally a use for my Classics degree: making gay Star Trek porn out of Virgil!

[NB: OK, more like a bodice-ripping romance-novel parody, sorry if I disappoint...]



Pon Farr drives Spock to look lustfully upon...


McCoy is jealous, because Kirk is a manly man...


Virgil's lovers Dido and Aeneas come to an unhappy end, but not so my heroes.
Spock ends up happily...


Virgil's actually a bit of a prude who could stand to to relax his Roman rectitude.
For alternate inspiration, I'm listening to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax" repeatedly while I mash up our boys. I'm thinking it might even be a good soundtrack for the vid:
"Hit me with those laser beams!"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stella's Thanksgiving Yams

Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday, and a Spanish pal Bink and I met on Camino, Fidel, is coming to celebrate with us. I'm making Stella's Yams, which in the tradition of many Thanksgiving main-course dishes could just as well be a dessert.

Stella was a British journalist I knew in Chicago, who seemed to relish the most decadent Thanksgiving foods. You could easily adapt this recipe to be low-fat and all that, but that would be wrong. (It is, however, naturally gluten-free!)

Stella's Yams

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (1 8-oz. package) dried apricots
1/4 cup (1 stick) butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (+ 2 T cold water)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
2 16-oz. cans sweet potatoes, drained

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Chop apricots into large pieces.
3. Place apricots in small pan, and cover with water. Bring to boil, then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, until apricots are soft.
4. Drain apricots, saving 1 cup of the liquid.
5. Melt butter (on stove or in microwave). Stir lemon peel into butter.
6. Mix cornstarch with 2 T cold water. Add to 1 cup reserved liquid from apricots. Simmer 1-2 minutes on stove, until it thickens.
7. Stir cornstarch mix into to melted butter.
8. Mix dry ingredients (nuts, sugar, spices) together in a bowl.
9. Pour butter mix into dry ingredients. Mix well.
10. Gently fold the mix with the sweet potatoes. Pour into baking dish.
11. Bake 1 hour or so, until bubbly hot all the way through.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Think Galactically, Act Loquaciously

I. Samuel R. Delany

Momo informed me of Samuel R. Delany's free appearance at the Walker Art Center last weekend.

I've never read SRD's work, but he sounded interesting enough in himself to warrant going: a 67-year-old black "merrily promiscuous" gay sci-fi writer from New York City--especially interesting because the sci-fi genre is historically dominated by white males with the sexual imagination of straight teenage boys; by which I mean either more interested in silvery gadgets than in women, or interested in silvery women more as gadgets.

II. The Bookkeeping of My Mind

Furthermore, I saw going to a free talk at the Walker as an opportunity to adjust recent cost/value factors in my favor.

See, I had gone to see British film director Mike Leigh talk at the Walker last month, naively thinking it wouldn't cost more than $10.
Ha!
Not only was it $22, but the Walker official would not accept $21.75 cash, which was all I had in my pocket. The man next to me in line laughed, however, and donated $0.25 toward what he said was "a good cause," which he left unspecified. (Me? Mike Leigh? His eternal soul?)

Alas, that exchange turned out to be the best part of the evening. (I'll just say Leigh was surprisingly prickly and humourless, and leave it at that.)
So here was a chance to rearrange the bookkeeping of my mind, by reassigning $11 of the ticket price to the free talk. (Should that be $10.82?)

Now that I've seen Delaney, I am going further: In the ledger of my mind, I am recording the entire ticket price for his talk, because he was worth it.

III. Protect Your Time

Mostly Delany read from his work, which you can listen to--free--archived at channel.walkerart.org. But he also talked a little bit about his own life--a life he has tried to devote to his art. Not easy. For instance:

A woman in the row right behind me asked,
"How do you balance teaching and writing?"
(Delany has been teaching Creative Writing for 7 years at Temple U.)
"I don't," he answered. "It's not possible--if you figure out how, e-mail me"
Everyone laughed.

He talked some more to the audience about the irony of even being asked to teach writing, thus making your writing life impossible-- and then he said directly to the woman,
"My advice to you is get out of academe."
She replied, "I already have," and he congratulated her.


IV. Sexuality and the Freedom to Imagine

I started writing this post right after I saw SRD, and I meant to finish it, but I keep not getting around to it, so I'll cut to the end:
Here's a fantastic snippet about the life of the imagination--from An Interview with Samuel R. Delany, by Scott Westerfeld, in Nerve Magazine.
The topic is "the history of sex in sci-fi: Delany even talks about Kirk/Spock!
But it's far, far more than that--it's about how our stories liberate us from the shackles of thinking "that's impossible."

[Note of interest to Trekkies: Theodore Sturgeon, who wrote the story "The World Well Lost," which Delany talks about, also wrote the Star Trek episode "Amok Time".]

Samuel R. Delany: The pulp hero, though he may be a renegade, is a guy who doesn't feel. Anything. Ever. And for the adolescent male — pummeled by emotions left and right, whether arising from sexuality or resulting from his necessary encounters with authority — this hero is a blessing, a relief and a release. The world he lives in, where feelings are totally under control, looks to the adolescent boy like heaven! This hero's lack of feeling — like Star Trek's Spock — is what allows him to be a genius, or allows him to shoot the bad guys and/or aliens, without a quiver to his lip.
But what starts as a relief and a release, you eventually recognize as a distortion: it doesn't reflect the real world. Precisely what gave you a certain pleasure is also a restraint. Thomas Mann said that every philosophical position exists to correct the abuses of the previous one, often to the other extreme. You could make a reasonable argument that it is the alien Spock who carves out the space of desire that is eventually filled with sf's explicitly erotic characters — everyone from my own Kidd in Dhalgren to Maureen F. McHue's gay character, Zhang, in her extraordinary China Mountain Zhang, not to mention all the Kirk-slash-Spock fiction.

Scott Westerfeld: "Slash" fiction is surely the opposite extreme from the logical alien.

SD: Yes — Kirk-slash-Spock fiction, written by fans of Star Trek, is usually gay pornography in which Kirk and Spock and other members of the Enterprise crew get it on.

SW: So the emotionless, sexless pulp hero of the '30s personifies sf's celibate period. How did that come to an end?

SD: Take a story like "The World Well Lost," written by Theodore Sturgeon in 1950. Two alien lovers come to Earth, one larger than the other, and everyone assumes that they're male and female. The story is told from the point of view of two security men who guard their starship, themselves close friends. Eventually, the guards discover that the aliens are both male, and indeed are gay. They've taken flight from their home planet because of terrible homophobia there.
One guard, a typical 1950s Earth male, is disgusted by this and doesn't know what to do, he even suggests killing the aliens. But the other talks him out of it. At the end of the story, the first guard goes to sleep back in their quarters. His friend remains awake, looking at him, and we realize that he's in love with him.

I read it in an anthology when I was about fourteen or fifteen and broke out crying, exactly as I was supposed to. I was quite touched by it, and it certainly helped make it possible to talk about those things later on in my own work, like the gay, human characters in the story, "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones." Historically, I guess that's how science fiction works: you start by using aliens to think the unthinkable — and then, eventually, another writer, having grown a little more comfortable with the earlier notion, brings it into the human.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Take Me Out to Tea, Virgil

For Jen, who wisely reminds me, "fandom is something of a refuge" from our species behaving badly.
________________


["Virgil and Dante in Hell," right, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, (1850). Virgil's the one in laurels, Dante's in red.]

________________

"Everyone's so horrid today, Uncle Arthur. Let's go out to tea."

Little Minnie Beebe speaks these deathless lines to her uncle, the Reverend Mr. Beebe (Simon Callow), in the movie A Room with a View, and I am borrowing the sentiment, because indeed this evening everyone is being horrid. So much so I'm not even going to relate to you the intricacies of their horridness.
(I ascribe it to Scorpio lashing out its poisonous tail in spite as convivial Sagittarius hurries it on apace, out of its place in the Sun.)

In times like these, I am grateful that my passions--this year anyway--tend toward the utterly ridiculous, because I too could find it in myself to be perfectly horrid otherwise. After several unpleasantnesses tonight, however, instead I retreat in gratitude to my latest very silly thing: creating my own Rude Person Story.
(As I blogged a bit back, RPSs are Star Trek fan-fiction stories that send up fan-fiction stories, in dialect or in the style of a famous author.)

The central fanfic scenario that the RPSs mock--Kirk and Spock, after their shuttlecraft crashes on a lonely planet, shelter from a storm in a cave, Spock goes into heat, and intimate acts hitherto unknown between the friends ensue--reminded me right away of Queen Dido and Aeneas, the Trojan hero, in Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid, you'll recall, when the two are out hunting and a storm comes up and they take shelter in a cave and Dido is inflamed with lust and one thing leads to another.

I hear Virgil cry out to be transformed into Star Trek slash, and what better cause have I toward which to put my Classics degree than in answering that cry?
None! I tell you. I am barely gainfully employed otherwise. To spend fruitful hours searching the archives of Trekcore.com for screencaps fitting to illustrate such a story is my delight. As is the work of editing the verse of the master to fit the change in circumstances, gender, and technology the central characters find they have undergone.

It would not be so very difficult, except that I have made it so by pilfering several various translations for words that please me most, thus creating a pastiche that is not altogether flawless in its texture and will necessitate the work of further happy hours in endeavoring to smooth.

Be that as it may, here I present a portion of the tale, rendered into K/S:

"...But a storm plunges the craft downward, towards the shores of a planet,
in foggy vapors bound, and lashed by winds.
The Captain speaks, “The ship is wrecked, and skies are hostile.”
Thunder rouses the heavens, and dark rain pours down.
Lost in obscure night, the men take shelter in a cave.

"Pon Farr seized the Vulcan and fed his veins a hidden flame.
Wounded by all-pow’rful love, his anxious mind recalls his Captain’s courage,
and his noble Earthly face. Sick with desire, the Vulcan ponders ..."

Tea, vicar?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your Mom Was a Metrosexual

From Michelle Schwartz's Your Mom Had Groupies project, offering feminist parodies of the CC whisky ads ("Your Dad Wasn't a Metrosexual" etc.) I blogged about here and here a while back. She provides a template for you to make your own and posts contributions of others, such as "Your Mom Built Fighter Jets" and “Your Mom Was Your Dad”.

This one, which simply reverses the wording of a CC ad, was photoshopped by Trancer 21. [click to enlarge]


Photoshop---that's next on my list of Ways to Torment Myself on the Computer, now that I discovered today that, sure enough, I can download my film and edit on Bink's new Mac like a charm. It's sooooo easy, it left me slack jawed remembering how much I fretted over the past few weeks, thinking I was doing something wrong.

Yeah, I was doing something wrong--I was trying to open a can of pineapple with an oar.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Kirk, Open and Closed

For my own sanity, I've pledged to judge the forthcoming Star Trek XI on its own merits. I am breaking that pledge already.
From Entertainment Weekly's ST XI spread: "Kirk [Chris Pine] assumes the captain's chair."

Note Pine's spraddle.
(That's Karl Urban, right, striking a classic Bones pose.)

In contrast, one of the things I've always loved about Shatner's Kirk is how he sits like a girl (commonly, but here below in "Arena").
[Feb. 2011: I am not alone. Screencaps of Kirk's Crossed Legs from Zain666 of More Shat, Less Shame]
A brush of swish adds to the macho character's self-confidence and appeal. Spock registers it too: with his classic crossed-arms pose he maintains distance from his come-hither captain.


On another note, there's pleasure in hunting for your fun, like the delight of finding Kirk's trouser-split (below) in "The Savage Curtain."

An upside of 1960s TV-sponsors' sexual squeamishness (memos flew, reminding directors, "no open-mouth kisses") is that you had to hunt for your pleasure. Judging by the presentation of Uhura stripping down to her bra in the new ST XI trailer (online 11-17), we won't need to strain ourselves.

I am *not* arguing for the return of sexual repression! But there's a thrill in working to catch a glimpse of a treat, which is missing when the same tidbit is presented already unwrapped.

As Mark Simpson notes, "Maybe I’m an incurable romantic/ masochist, but I sometimes find myself missing the aching, blurry, long-shot tease of 1970s’ Old Spice masculinity. Because it never quite delivers, it never disappoints."

Or, as Spock says in "Amok Time," (by Theodore Sturgeon),
"You may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."

In keeping with the distance we've come since the 1960s, looks like the 2009 Star Trek is going to give us what we think we want: lots of close-up, unwrapped goodies, right on our laps.
That can be fun too, of course, and really, it's a win-win. If it disappoints, it'll afford me, at least, the pleasure of pointing out the superiority of Shatner & Co.
_________

POSTSCRIPT: Now I've seen the Star Trek reboot, and I didn't like it, but I give Pine credit for assuming the position, at the very end of the movie, when his Kirk becomes captain. Good one!

Official Star Trek XI Site

The movie trailer will be up Monday, Nov. 17, at noon (CST), on the official Paramount Star Trek XI site (www.startrekmovie.com).
As of today, the cool "Under Construction" teaser is still up--it shows the classic NC-1701 Enterprise being built.
Shivery.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Trailer for Star Trek XI !

OMG! Here's a bootleg version of the first Star Trek XI trailer, officially due to be released Monday (11-17).
I got it from Trekmovie.
[click on Trekmovie if this video is removed--they'll probably post another.
Sunday morning (11-16) update: well, this just proves Paramount can be on top of their copyright if they want to be--the lastest version on Trekmovie was also removed, as of this morning. So check again, but at any rate, the official version will be available online in 24 hours.]


star trek trailer from SPOCKBOY on Vimeo.

As I expected, the trailer is supercharged with emo-porn, not the gawky repression of old TV Trek that was so much fun to slash. This new Star Trek, with the young Kirk and Spock, won't be the ridiculous, emotionally stilted 1960s Trek I love. Per modern norms, we glimpse Uhura's underwear before the movie is even released. Certainly we can expect none of the old pleasures of "I'm-the-only-one-who-sees-his-angst". It'll all be on the surface, with arrows pointing the way.
But it looks like that surface will be an absolutely ripping place to be!

Hands for Orestes

Laura was over for dinner last night. Her double-jointed, wonderfully expressive hands are going to play Orestes' hands in my movie.


Technology-induced self-laceration aside, I am blissed out over my film project. The footage looks 100% like what it is: the work of a first-time filmmaker; editing on my computer is like trying to get an old, dozy dog to fetch a stick: it does it once, slowly, then lies down and looks at you woefully; and I put off shooting the sacrifice of Iphigenia so long that snow dusts the ground, which just doesn't read as Ancient Greece.

I don't care.

A few years ago, I dreamt I was dancing in the arms of a film director--an impressive old woman, charismatic in her easy self-assurance. She was nothing like how I normally feel. When I started working on this movie, that dream came back to me. Was I dancing with my future self?

Meanwhile, my film editing has encountered a new glitch: insufficient memory.
Not mine. Well, maybe that too, but that's not the problem here.
No, the movie that I thought would be 3-5 minutes is already 8 minutes, edited, and that's only half the story. A 15-minute movie is fine with me, but iMovies informs me I have no more room to add film clips.
Plus I've been having a ball putting together the Making Of/blooper reel, but of course there's no room for that either.

So, I am going to give up and admit my limitations. (Bonus: I can chalk this up as a sign of maturity). This old laptop isn't going to cut it.
In the fine old tradition of artists mooching off their friends, (e.g. Thoreau, one gathers, always showed up at the Emersons' just as Mrs. Emerson was serving dinner), I am taking my computer and my video camcorder over to Bink's this week, where I will download Orestes and the Fly onto her 2008 Mac, which is a desktop job just packed with lonely GBs waiting to be fulfilled.

Bink had volunteered this solution earlier, but I didn't want to bug her or go through the hassle of working in someone else's space. She swears she doesn't mind. Not only is she motivated by friendship, but of course her brilliant acting work as the Fly will not see the light of day if I can't edit the footage.
I will finish shooting the film and then do all the editing on Bink's computer.

Then I'll make another one, and it will be better. Or not. (Did Ed Wood's films ever get better?) At any rate, it will be my second film, and that will sound better.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Back to Editing

Erica as Hermes, on her way to deliver murdered Clytemnestra's peacock-feather spray to the Fly.

This is the last scene I've filmed for Orestes and the Fly so far, and I filmed it almost three weeks ago, before my computer troubles threw the brakes on.
No, that's not true.
*I* threw the brakes on--specifically, my anxieties did. I plain old freaked out that after being brave enough to get help solving my technology glitches, editing was still cumbersome and difficult. (Unfair! Frightening!) So I came to a full stop on all aspects of my movie, for almost a couple weeks.

Oh well. Back at it now and feeling the sweet relief that accompanies returning to a task you want to do, even though it's a pain. And the relief that, actually, some of the footage looks really good.
Plus, my head is still attached! which is not to be taken for granted.
Still, I'm glad I've told everyone this won't be done till spring.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kirk/Spock ...in Post-Modernese?...by Jane Austen?!


(The above is not a fan-produced parody caption. Spock actually speaks this line, as you may recall, in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. Or maybe you don't recall because this was the worst of the Star Trek TOS films and even if you are a Trekkie you maybe never bothered to watch it again after it was released in 1989.)

Mary Crawford, a Live Journal blogger I just stumbled upon, has helped me meet at least three days' worth of my laughter quota (30x/day) at once, with her post "Rude Person Stories".

In it she links to a series of old (1999) TOS fanfic parodies that tell the exact same Kirk/Spock story, but each time in a different dialogue, skewering, Mary says, "all those classic K/S stories where Kirk and Spock are in a cave and Spock goes into pon farr." *

["Pon farr" is when Vulcan males go into heat, and if they don't mate, they die. It's what comes over Spock, of course, in the ever popular episode "Amok Time."]
Pon farr is tailor-made for fanfic writers who want to get our two favorite male characters closer to each other than the original show ever intended, without having to worry about all that problematic authory stuff like motivation and character: just crash their shuttle on an unpopulated planet, provide a storm and a cave (it worked for Virgil), and strike the Vulcan with pon farr, and... What's his good friend gonna do? What can he do? Can't let him die, right?

So--this is the opening paragraph (they're only a few paragraphs long) of my favorite one--the version in academese, or post-modernese. (I think I like this one best because I used to be able to speak this language... so it's kind of nostalgic.)
"Unpacking Pon Farr: Kirk, Spock, and the image of the female void"
--By R. Person, PhD. [Brancher]

"The homoerotic subtext begins with the presentation of both males, Kirk and Spock, within an enclosed space: the shuttlecraft, redolent of the phallic when viewed from without, but from within clearly an example of womb symbolism. Consistent with the underlying structure of this narrative, this manifestation of the female self displays signs of breakdown -- de-construction, as it were -- and the male subjects are stranded on a planet."

Or maybe my favorite is "Crew Person", a send-up of Joseph Conrad, by Jane St Clair. A sample:

"Kirk and his mate Spock set out in their longboat (a small vessel of the sort called shuttlecraft in more familiar kingdoms), but a storm blew in suddenly, like the rising passion of a savage beast, and dashed their vessel on the strong stones that bring so many low. Still, they were men of the noble sort one sometimes encounters in far lands, and they swam, manfully, each helping the other until they fell upon the sands and lay against one another, heaving with each breath and holding each the other's body against the pounding, driving force of nature's fury."

There's even a Minnesotan version:
"Kirk and Spock Go Ice Fishing (Pon Farr in Minnesotan)" --by Jungle Kitty
It begins:
"Well, doncha know, Kirk and Spock were out for a Sunday drive in their new shuttlecraft, wearing' their good clothes, and gettin' pretty good mileage to boot. Just cruisin' along, not exceedin' the speed limit--they're good boys, ya know--when the durn thing breaks down."

I gather this all started in 1998 with a Yorkshire-dialect version, by Jess in England, who writes:
''Ah've 'eared as 'ow tha's aal interested in smutty stories abaht startrek written in diffrunt langwiches, like, and ah can see tha's 'ad none written in Yorkshire so 'eer goes. If tha's anything t'say abaht it, that'll be champion."
"Pon Farr wi'out a lass (K 'an S wi' mucky bits)".

Mary C. provides more links on Fanlore Wiki: Rude Person, with Appalachian, Marxist, Jane Austen-ese, and other versions.
Jane Austen?
Yes, indeed:
Uncouth Person
Logic and Lubricity, or, K/S as told by Jane Austen; with some less seemly parts.


"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Vulcan in possession of a standard-issue Shuttlecraft must be in want of a cave."

Judging by my laughter, maybe that's my favorite one...
_____________
* For a funny overview of what this type of story is like, try "The Big List of K/S Cliches", offered by Jungle Kitty's as a tongue-in-cheek (?) "public service" handy-dandy rating chart, for fanfic writers who want to monitor their cliche usage.
For instance, a writer gets 1 point if, in her story, is...
"Spock's voice described as
dark (or variations thereof such as mahogany, ebony or midnight)? (1 point for each)
rich?
smooth?
in other terms that could be ascribed to a good cup of coffee?"

And so forth.
_________
My  Rude Person story by Virgil

Movie Moments, 12: Girls Have Grit

Speaking of stories about growing up good, I was eight when True Grit came out in 1969. Loved it then, love it now.

Kim Darby plays Mattie Ross, a teenage girl in 1880, who is looking to hire a federal marshall with "true grit" to hunt down her father's murderer, intending to go along herself to see justice done. She settles on tough old Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne).

My favorite "movie moment" from the film:
Rooster Cogburn and La Boeuf (Glen Campbell) try to discourage Mattie from accompanying them on the manhunt by forbidding her and her horse to cross a wide river on the ferry with them.
So she rides her horse into the river and swims across.

Rooster watches, and says with admiration, "By God! She reminds me of me."


And so the story proves: they both have true grit. He calls her Little Sister.

It's odd that Kim Darby didn't go on to have a wonderful film career, because she truly is wonderful in this movie--she holds her own against John Wayne, some forty years and a world of fame her senior, in a role for which he won an Oscar.

Mattie Ross is a rare girl hero at the center of an adult film.
Another is Scout (Mary Badham, right, with Gregory Peck) in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), which I saw on TV about the same time I saw True Grit. My sister and I begged our parents to take us to buy overalls like Scout's the very next day, which they did.

I recognized in these characters some of the best of what it is to be female--someone smart and scrappy and splendid. And someone who can take a lot of guff for being herself in a world that wants girls to be silly and submissive and sweet. As John Wayne said in another movie, "Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness."
When it comes to apologizing for who you are, I agree. I've never been as unflinching as Mattie, but then, I'm not done yet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wrapping the Windows, Turning the Tables (+ Puppy Cam!)

Here I am performing one of the northland's Rituals of Winter, covering the windows with plastic to keep the wolves out.

I'm hearing from people who liked Old Yeller. Each to her own, and I don't want to pick on any books anyone loves.
But I guess I'm going to. [Option: skip this, and scroll to the end for a live streaming Puppy Cam link!]

Other people feel as I do, that these dead-pet stories violated us as children--especially the ones that that weren't stories at all, but sermons-in-disguise. These are the stories that manipulate feelings to teach a moral lesson, "for your own good."

Here's a test for authenticity:
Ask yourself if the same message about cruel necessity could be applied to the Donner Party. That is, swap "I had to kill my dog" with "I had to eat Dad." If the story still works, it's an honest story.

I. Belloc
Modern sermonizing stories are the inheritors of Victorian morally improving tales for children, deliciously mocked by Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) in his Cautionary Tales for Children. "Matilda; Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death" is a famous one, but ever better is Jim; Who ran away from his Nurse, and was eaten by a Lion.
Jim, as promised, runs away from his nurse...

He hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!

II. Gorey
My favorite table-turner, however, has got to be Edward Gorey.

Bink sent me these examples from Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies--an abcderian poem that dispatches little children in gruesome, nonsensical ways.


Why do these delight me?
I suppose because they playfully depict how life does not make moral sense: dreadful things happen all the time, to nobody's benefit. "Goodness"--loving kindness, courage, humor--has to be freestanding, despite the way life works, not because of it.

Most of Edward Gorey's books aren't for children.
My favorite children's books along these lines are Joan Aiken's Dido Twite series. (Gorey even illustrated some of them.) Starting with The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Aiken takes London urchin Dido through all sorts of nonsensical horrors. Dido is a brave girl with an inherent sense of compassion and justice, but the books are never preachy.

Alice in Wonderland is another favorite. Moral, what moral? Don't talk to rabbits?
Just like life. What moral tidiness is there to be found in Congo?



III. Puppies!
Oh, dear.
When I start mentioning Congo, I know I've slipped into the heart of darkness....

Let me pull back and offer you this live streaming link to real PUPPIES!!!
Puppy Cam: Shiba Inu Puppies in Real Time. (Shiba Inus are those orange foxy Japanese dogs.) Warning: They are lethally cute. They're sleeping fattly while making little squeaky snuffling noises as I post this.

Photo of Shiba Inu puppy from Drop That Sock.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Laugh 30 x/Day

Discussing Ol' Yeller (and Abraham & Isaac, in comments in last post) sure ain't gonna help me reach my goal of laughing thirty times a day.
(Or will it? I just snorted [this counts] at the incongruity as I wrote that sentence.)

I'm not really counting, but I like the suggestion to laugh 30x/day I found in Martha Beck's book The Joy Diet (nothing to do with weight loss, thank god).
I decided to start paying attention to what makes me laugh.
Yesterday I laughed a ton. I went to the Sunday night $1 improv performance at Dudley Riggs (best deal in town) and laughed at everything, even stuff I wouldn't laugh at if it were on-screen. Live comedy is great that way.

Plus I'm reading George Eliot's Middlemarch. I picked it up after writing about some of the influences on my life. I couldn't quite decide how it ranked on that score because I read it--one time--so long ago, I only remember remembering it, if you know what I mean. Rereading it, I'd say it was a huge influence--and I'd totally forgotten how wickedly funny Eliot is.

This made me laugh out loud at the coffee shop yesterday:

"Dorothea, with all her eagerness to know the truths of life, retained very childlike ideas about marriage. She felt sure she would have accepted... John Milton, when his blindness had come on; or any of the other great men whose odd habits it would have been glorious piety to endure; but an amiable handsome baronet, who said 'Exactly' to her remarks even when she expressed uncertainty, – how could he affect her as a lover? The really delightful marriage must be that where your husband was a sort of father, and could teach you even Hebrew, if you wished it."

Oh god! I laugh because the young Dorothea reminds me so much of the young me:
so in love with theory that she can't see her very own real desires.
It helps that I know that Eliot is going to snatch Dorothea from the monstrous jaws of her own self-- through the agency of Death and Will.
I haven't seen the film adaptation, but I approve of casting Rufus Sewell (left) as Will Ladislaw.

(Sewell as the narcissistic numbskull Seth Starkadder in Cold Comfort Farm goes far toward helping fulfill laughter quotas.)

For people who aren't such Dunderkopfs as Dorothea and me, Eliot provides plenty else to laugh at. Here's another quote:

"Women were expected to have weak opinions; but the great safeguard of society and domestic life was that opinions were not acted on. Sane people did what their neighbors did, so that if any lunatics were at large, one might know and avoid them."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Old Yeller" Is a Lie

I don't know why--maybe all this talk about the presidential puppy?--but this morning as I sat with my coffee and my prayer beads this came to me:

"The story of Old Yeller* is a lie:
You do not have to kill the thing you love to be a grown up."

Make of this what you will. I didn't think I thought that, but the amount this made me cry suggests I did.

_______________
* If you don't know Old Yeller, it's the children's book--and Disney movie--about a boy on the American frontier who has to, in the end, shoot his beloved yellow-colored dog, because the dog gets rabies and Pa is snake-bit or some such thing and can't do it. The underlying message is this act makes the boy a man. A Good Man.

Sort of as if John Wayne wrote "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" and your parents read it to you at bedtime.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Smokin' MButts




.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Mixed-species "mutt" Spock Leonard Nimoy quit smoking some fifteen-plus years ago. I don't know if Obama has quit (yet)?

I was sorry to read that Obama said his family can't get a "mutt like me" puppy because the eldest girl has allergies. They have to get a hypoallergenic dog. But wait... Many terriers are nonshedders and thus qualify.

Anyway, if I thought he'd actually get it, I'd send Obama this Spock lighter as an inauguration gift.

[Yes, Spock is photoshopped, but I have seen blooper reel footage of Nimoy smoking on the Star Trek set and it's very weird.]

Friday, November 7, 2008

III. Scorpios Talk

As I did with Gemini, I'm going to let some people born under the sign of Scorpio speak for themselves (mostly).

[Disclaimer. Sort of.]
But first I want to make clear I take astrology as art, like poetry, not as science. Through signs, symbols, and stories, it illuminates real human types; but you can find these types among people who have birthdays throughout the year.

Still, it does seem people born in the Northern Hemisphere while trees strip bare can be tinted with darkness. I am tempted to add, Who isn't? But that's just my Scorpio Rising talking.

I also want to say Scorpio has a rotten reputation, but it's one of my favorite signs because people with Scorpionic qualities don't bore you at dinner parties. Hurt you, maybe, but not bore you. Plus they smell ever so faintly of patchouli, myrrh, and ginger, so they stimulate the appetite(s).
I would risk the pain to meet every Scorpio on the list below, save one (you'll know who).

So, here are some qualities astrologers associate with Scorpio, illustrated with quotes from Scorpios. I tried to keep this list light, but the light kept bending.

Witty

"To put it rather bluntly, I am not the type who wants to go back to the land; I am the type who wants to go back to the hotel."
—Fran Lebowitz, born Oct. 27, 1950

and Determined.

"We don't know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it."
—Will Rogers, b. November 4, 1879

Forgive and Forget? Scorpio?

"In the Bible it says they asked Jesus how many times you should forgive, and he said 70 times 7. Well, I want you all to know that I'm keeping a chart."
—Hillary Clinton, October 26, 1947

"You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them."
—Albert Camus, November 7, 1913, Algerian-born French philosopher

One of the countries associated with Scorpio is Algeria. Syria is another. History suggests one not cross them.

Sex.

"I find it very difficult to draw a line between what's sex and what isn't. It can be very, very sexy to drive a car, and completely unsexy to flirt with someone at a bar."
—Bjork, 21 November 1965 (musician, actor in Dancer in the Dark)

"If the Soviet Union can give up the Brezhnev Doctrine for the Sinatra Doctrine, the United States can give up the James Monroe Doctrine for the Marilyn Monroe Doctrine: Let’s all go to bed wearing the perfume we like best." [1]
—Carlos Fuentes, November 11, 1928, Mexican writer

Scorpio's "mode" is Fixed. Its element is Water.
How do you fix water?


Freeze it.
Grace Kelly, b. November 12, 1929, To Catch a Thief.
Say no more.

Private.

“I want to be alone.”
—Greta Garbo

[OK, she was not a Scorpio, but this is such a quintessential Scorpio quote, I am going to borrow it.]

Intense. Even to the Point of Being Welsh.

"We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road. They get run over."
—Aneurin Bevan, 15 November 1897, Welsh Labour politician; Minister of Health in the 1940s

"When one burns one's bridges, what a very nice fire it makes."
—Dylan Thomas, 27 October 1914, Welsh poet

"I might run from her for a thousand years and she is still my baby child. Our love is so furious that we burn each other out."
—Richard Burton, 10 November 1925, Welsh actor

Happy? Scorpio?

"What do you take me for, an idiot?" [when asked if he was happy]
—Charles De Gaulle, 22 November 1890

Extreme.

"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. ...I couldn't help wondering what it would be like being burned alive along all your nerves."
—Sylvia Plath, October 27, 1932
(opening lines of The Bell Jar)

Transformation Through Suffering; or, Scorpios Do Not Play Pollyanna's "Glad Game"

I don't know if the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus was a Scorpio--he's called the Father of Tragedy, so he could have been-- but anyway, Robert F. Kennedy sure was (b. November 20, 1925), and he famously quoted Aeschylus in his announcement of the assassination of Martin Luther King (April 4, 1968):

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget

falls drop by drop upon the heart,

until, in our own despair,

against our will,

comes wisdom,

through the awful grace of God.
(—from the play Agamemnon 179-183)

Interestingly, RFK actually *misquoted* Edith Hamilton’s translation, changing “despite” to "despair"--a most Scorpionic mistake (if it was a mistake). RFK was himself assassinated two months later (June 6, 1968).

Controlling.

"Unfortunately my personal involvement in some of my projects is being misconstrued as high-handedness."
—Aishwarya Rai, 1 November 1973, Bollywood Queen

"If technique is of no interest to a writer, I doubt that the writer is an artist."
—Marianne Moore, November 15, 1887, poet

Purposeful.

"If women want any rights more than they's got, why don't they just take them, and not be talking about it."
—Sojourner Truth. Truth was born into slavery about 1797. I don't know why she's listed as Scorpio since her exact birthdate is unknown, but she fits in well with some other formidable Scorpio women, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815).

Truth Tellers.

"It has always been the prerogative of children and half-wits to point out that the emperor has no clothes. But the half-wit remains a half-wit, and the emperor remains an emperor."
Neil Gaiman, November 10, 1960, modern "rock star" of literature

"Power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and like the grave, cries, 'Give, give!'"
—Abigail Adams, November 11, 1744, (wedded, in one of the world's famous marriages, to fellow Scorpio John Adams, b. October 30, 1735)

"Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men."
—Jean Rostand, October 30, 1894, French biologist and philosopher

"What Is Truth?"

“It doesn't matter who my father was;
it matters who I remember he was”
—Anne Sexton, November 9, 1928

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be."
—Kurt Vonnegut, November 11, 1922

Investigators

"If we do not find anything very pleasant, at least we shall find something new."
—Voltaire (born François-Marie Arouet, 21 November 1694)

"Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere."
—Carl Sagan, November 9, 1934, astronomer, etc.

Hidden. Brilliant.

"We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity."
—Marie Skłodowska Curie, 7 November 1867
(the only person yet honored with Nobel Prizes in two different sciences)

Magical.

"People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it's simply necessary to love."
—Claude Monet, 14 November 1840, French impressionist

Scary.

"From the world of darkness I did loose demons and devils in the power of scorpions to torment."
—Charles Manson, November 12, 1934

Complex.

"An actress can only play a woman. I'm an actor, I can play anything."
—Whoopi Goldberg, November 13, 1955
[photographed, left, by Annie Leibovitz]

"There are some faults so nearly allied to excellence that we can scarce weed out the vice without eradicating the virtue."
—Oliver Goldsmith, born November 10, 1730 or 1728, writer

"Almost all crime is due to the repressed desire for aesthetic expression."
—Evelyn Waugh, 28 October 1903, writer

Drop Dead Gorgeous.

"There's no such thing as simple. Simple is hard."
—Martin Scorsese, November 17, 1942

"The quietness of his tone italicized the malice of his reply."
—Truman Capote [Sun in Libra, but this is a spot-on description of Scorpio.]

Acquainted with Suffering

"If people would forget about utopia! When rationalism destroyed heaven and decided to set it up here on earth, that most terrible of all goals entered human ambition. It was clear there’d be no end to what people would be made to suffer for it."
—Nadine Gordimer, 20 November 1923, (1991 Nobel Prize in Literature)

"Interesting."

"I just come and talk to the plants, really--very important to talk to them, they respond I find."

—Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, 14 November 1948

Always Interesting.

"If your morals make you dreary, depend on it, they are wrong."
—Robert Louis Stevenson, 13 November 1850

"Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar."
—Pablo Picasso, October 25, 1881

...and let's not overlook Adolphe Sax (November 6, 1814), Belgian inventor of the saxophone, who, his biographer says, "had exceptional gifts for the gentle art of making enemies."

________________________
Note: Without stretching a point, (e.g. Uhura singing "Beyond Antares" two posts below), I couldn't think of anything very Scorpionic in Star Trek, the Original Series, so I googled "Star Trek Scorpio." I found the article Blake's 7 vs. Star Trek and learned that the final ship in the dark, British sci-fi series Blake's 7 is named Scorpio. It is destroyed in the last episode, in which all the main characters are killed. So, that seems right.

Blake's 7, sometimes called "a poor man's Star Trek", is not available on DVD in the USA, but I look forward to watching a pirated version from a friend who will be in town this Christmas.

[1] Re The Sinatra Doctrine INTERVIEW WITH GENNADY GERASIMOV

From Demokratizatsiya: The Journal on post-Soviet Democratization, Spring 2005
by Arias-King, Fredo

The perpetually witty Gennady Gerasimov was the Soviet Union's foreign ministry spokesman during the 1989 revolutions in Eastern Europe, and he famously labeled Soviet policy toward those events the "Sinatra Doctrine."

Demokratizatsiya: Tell us how the whole "Sinatra Doctrine" business came about.

Gerasimov: A friend of mine, I guess it was a birthday or something, gave me this coffeetable book about Ol' Blue Eyes written by his daughter [Nancy Sinatra]. And only by chance, looking at the index, I found something which was a big surprise . . .

[Reading from book]

When the Kremlin announced that it would not object if Hungary left the Warsaw Pact or if East Germany reunited with West Germany, Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov appeared on a syndicated TV program and said, "Frank Sinatra had a very popular song, 'I Had It My Way.' So Hungary, Poland, every other country has its own way. They decided which road to take. It's their business. And we watch, watch closely, but do not interfere." He called the new policy "The Frank Sinatra Doctrine."
Said dad: "I'm honored to have my name associated with freedom of choice and people's dreams for a better life. I think it's marvelous."
Vice President Dan Quayle said the Bush administration was encouraged by Mr. Gerasimov's comment, adding, "We hope that perestroïka succeeds. But as they talk about the Frank Sinatra Doctrine, also remember the Nancy Sinatra doctrine in song- "These Boots Are Made for Walking.""

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I. In Dark, Sacred Scorpius, a Star Nursery

We are in the eighth astrological sign, Scorpio. Its astronomy is as complicated, fascinating, deep black and dark red as its psychology. So here're a couple posts about the region around its constellation, Scorpius,

Right now, in the region of Scorpius, stars are being born inside a dense cloud of molecular gas and dust, called Rho Ophiuchi.
This "star nursery" is just beyond the star Antares.


From Infrared Space Observatory ISO):
The Rho Ophiuchi Dark Cloud: The Star Nursery Closest to Earth--about 500 light years from Earth.

ISO explains what we see here:
"The scattered bright dots are new stars of moderate size, comparable in mass to the Sun. The bright fuzzy object, upwards and slightly to the right of centre, is a new massive star, much heavier than the Sun, still wrapped in the placental cloud from which it formed. A similar object appears partly veiled towards the bottom right of the picture. The conspicuous wisp right of centre is the interface betweeen the dense cloud and the general interstallar medium. In a dark region near the centre of the picture the dust is so dense that even an infrared telescope can look no further into the murk. The image is a colour composite of data taken at wavelengths of 7 and 15 microns of an area of sky approximately 0.75 x 0.75 degrees."

II. Scorpio: Royal Antares

Photo of the constellation Scorpius from All the Sky.

The site says:
The constellation is one of the brightest of the larger constellations.
That bright red star in the upper right is Alpha Scorpii, better known as Antares ("anti-Ares", or the "Rival of Mars").

Antares is one of the four Royal Stars of the ancients, along with Aldebaran, Regulus, and Fomalhaut. It glitters with an unusual metallic red while the entire region is bathed in a pale red nebula, lit from the same star.

Somewhat above Antares lies the famous star nursery around Rho Ophiuchi with its prominent absorption, emission, and reflection nebulae.

I know Antares from Star Trek.

Uhura sings "Beyond Antares" in "The Conscience of the King":

Music by Wilbur Hatch, lyrics by Gene L. Coon

Where my heart is
Where....the scented lunar flower is blooming
Somewhere, beyond the stars
Beyond Antares
I'll be back though it takes forever
Forever is just a day.

Even with warp speed, Antares is more than a day's travel from Earth.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The PEZidency

"All Presidents start out to run a crusade but after a couple of years they find they are running something less heroic and much more intractable: namely the presidency. The people are well cured by then of election fever, during which they think they are choosing Moses."
--Alistair Cooke

A couple years? I think the fever has come to cool faster since Mr. Cooke wrote that. At any rate, to mix metaphors, it's a sad day when we see our leaders' feet, even if we knew they were clay from the get-go.
It's soooooooo much nicer to discover our heroes' heads pop open to dispense candy!


This set is $23.99 + shipping from PEZ dot com, if you'd like to buy it for yourself... or for me. (I'd let you have the candy.)

New Star Trek merchandise, eh? Marketers must be counting on the Star Trek XI movie drumming up business before it's even released. (Need I say? May 8, 2009.)

High Hopes

Oops! There goes another rubber tree plant!

Rebecca gathered a few friends to celebrate election reults (or many of them, anyway), this morning over pumpkin pancakes, and I took the opportunity to pass along one of my surplus rubber tree plants.

(I didn't realize until I googled the lyrics just now that "High Hopes" was JFK's campaign song in 1960.
"Just what makes that little old ant
think he'll move a rubber tree plant?")

Sorry to say, though, the legality of Sister's and George Takei's California weddings (respectively, not to each other) is now in doubt. But we've got high hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

11:28 p.m. Well, Well,Well

Well, how about that. Sometimes destiny doesn't order the lobster.
My neighbors and I just toasted Obama's victory and admired his good acceptance speech calling for spirit, service, and sacrifice.

(Plus a puppy for his little girls!)

McCain impressed us with his gracious concession speech too. Well done.

Yes we can!


And to bed before midnight, even.

"What if this is the beginning..."

[More photos from Election Day in post below this one.]

Ami, manager of Bob's, is wearing a red bra and barrettes and star-spangled socks for Election Day today.

I asked her what she had to say on this historic day, and in her wholehearted response, she demonstrated what I like best about Obama:
the way people respond to him--full throttle--with faith, hope, and love in themselves, and in us, together.

Ami told me:

"I feel patriotic today. I'm so excited about the possibility of having someone in office who has something to do with me.

"I wrote down Obama's name four years ago when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention because he gave me goosebumps when he talked about not a white America, not a black America, one America... I got up and looked for a pen to write down his name, and then I looked up his speech and read it."

She continued, "I really feel that we can change the world. If Obama can get everyone on board, if people can really connect, things could come together... And maybe we won't be such a laughing stock to the rest of the world!

"Tonight I'm going to try not to watch MSNBC until 8 p.m. But I'm the geek who will stay up till 3 a.m. watching election results.

"I hope we can look back on this day in thirty years and say this is when things changed.
My teenage daughter told me two years ago,
'You know what would be really cool? Maybe for my high school graduation we could go to Washington, D.C., for Hillary Clinton's inauguration.'
Now she likes Barack--she's just pissed off that she can't vote because she won't be 18 until January.
Maybe my grandkids will ask me, 'Where were you on the day Obama was elected?' "

"Obama says we can change this country, we can change the world. And I believe we can.
Maybe it's being hopeful to a fantastical degree, but... what if this is the beginning of a new era?
I mean, maybe it'll just be politics as usual...

"...But it doesn't have to be."

Photos from Election Day Morning

FINALLY!!!
It's 9:43 a.m.
Here's what my Election Day has looked like so far:

1. 7: 34 a.m.
Making coffee to take with me while I stand in line to vote this morning.
The Nov. 1st Economist (pictured here) endorses Obama, saying:
"It's time. This cannot be another election where the choice is based merely on fear." [1]


2. 7:52 a.m. I walked to my polling place with my neighbor, who had already voted, and her dog Chloe.


3. My precinct is tiny (only about one thousand registered voters), so there were no lines.
I was voter #91 at 8:04 a.m.


4. But lines of voters from the neighboring precinct, which is huge, curved around the block to vote in the same building, entering through a different door.


5. Expecting long lines, the city has set up port-a-potties.


6. Esther and Cherise had brought their knitting. When I took their photo at 8:13, they'd been in line since 7:15 a.m.


7. Johnny Mathis is singing "Chances Are" when I walk into Bob's for coffee.

Heidi the barista takes a cigarette break.


8. The hand-painted Obama sign across the street from Bob's.
Bob's-regular Catherine tells me she's so tired of political ads she can't wait "to turn on the TV and see ads for Viagra and Metamucil again!"

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[1] The Economist endorsement of Obama continues:
"In terms of painting a brighter future for American and the world, Mr Obama has produced the more compelling and detailed portrait. He has campaigned with more style, intelligence and discipline than his opponent. Whether he can fulfill his immense potential remains to be seen. But Mr Obama deserves the presidency."