Friday, December 28, 2012

Shakespeare, the Aenead, and Drop Dead Diva

you know how your mind jumps from irrelevant place to place sometimes, and how sometimes, rarely, you see the connections?  so here's one of those,  having to do with a few of my various worlds.

  on dec. 26 i saw the metropolitan opera production of 'les troyans.'  this is berlioz's take on the fall of troy, essentially 2 operas [nearly 6 hours altogether], and it's amazing on several levels. if you like opera at all and get a chance, see it; it will surely be in their filmed series, which makes it available far beyond new york.  the first opera is the fall of troy itself, seen through the story of the tragic prophet cassandra, who is doomed to see the future and never be believed.  deborah voigt is the cassandra, and is wonderful.

but it's the second that carries me away--the remaining trojans, led by the hero aeneas, land on carthage, which is ruled by one of mythology's grandest heroines, dido.  berlioz himself adored the aenead [or so the program notes tell me], and he follows the story essentially accurately, though with some changes.  susan graham is utterly amazing in what must be a draining role.

this led my mind logically enough to the aeneid itself, which i am lucky enough to be able to teach once a year.  on a purely emotional level, i like it far better than the odyssey and far-far better than the iliad. i like aeneus, and respect him; i dislike and enjoy odyesseus.  i always think odysseus would be fun to chat with at the local bar, over an apple-tini or two.  and then keep the hell out of his way. but aeneas, he's a good guy. and of course i adore dido.  dido, if you read the text closely, never veers totally away from her political life and convictions, and her suicide is so perfect a combination of both that part of her, and the raging, abandoned and passionate lover that she becomes once she meets aeneas.  it's extraordinary.  these 2 are to me the most interesting and moving of all the classic mythological lovers, because they are bound by more than the passion itself.  they share a similarity of experience which, even without interfering goddesses, would draw them to each other--each has fled with followers to create a new land. no one could understand either of them as they can each other. and those same similarities are what force aeneas to abandon her, and drive her to suicide cursing him.

and as i think about them, and how much fun it will be to teach them, and how they are my favorite of classical lovers, i think, well, yes--tragic lovers.  comedy lovers, however, have their own place in my heart, and that belongs utterly to beatrice and benedick in shakespeare's much ado about nothing. for different reasons, these two are also utterly matched, which rarely happens in shakespeare's comedies. beatrice and benedick are equally smart, witty, self-deceiving, blustering, and finally, gorgeously sincere.  benedick combines a rare combination of classic masculine traits with a simple willingness to accept beatrice's judgement about his friend claudio and, at her request, because she herself cannot challenge claudio to a dual ['if i were a man i would eat his heart in the marketplace,' she cries], challenges claudio on her behalf, fully aware that he will be killing his best friend.  beatrice, realizing her love for benedick, admits that love to him, but never loses  focus on the wrong done her cousin. these are characters that belong together, and, since it's a comedy, can end up happily together.

and so from the sublime to the ...certainly not ridiculous, but definitely less sublime... TV dramedy, drop dead diva.  It has run for four seasons, and for reasons unclear to fans, head writer, and actors, Lifetime network refuses to either renew or drop it, which has pissed me off endlessly.  There are many reasons i love this show, in spite of some of its failings, chief of which is its social importance. Its heroine is a shallow wannabe model who, at her death, finds herself replaced on earth in the fat body of a brilliant lawyer, retaining the purely brain aspects of the lawyer's body, though not her personal memory.  the heroine never forgets her glamorous background, and struts and flirts like the slim model she once was.  a fat and sexy heroine is wonderful.  they have taken on other issues.

 within the existing four seasons, jane has remained in love with the handsome, sweet boyfriend of her model life, and much of her angst has been that she can't tell him who she really is. though he is fond of her, he has no attraction to his fat colleague.  then she hooked up with an eccentric judge.  fans of the show are sharply divided over grayson [the old boyfriend, finally becoming interested in jane] and owen [the judge].  i have been interested in my own reaction; a fairly strong attachment to the jane/owen match.  i had thought that was mainly because of the superb actor who plays the judge, and who, though pleasant looking, isn't model-handsome. [note: i have no objection to handsome models; my father was one].  i am part of a fan-page group on facebook, and this past week in new york, on the same day i saw les troyens, i also met in person one of my pals from the group, and had a great time with her.  so both were close to my mind after the trip. and that's how i got to the string of thoughts that began with the opera.  owen and jane are  a lot like beatrice and benedick.  they are simply right together, with similiarities and interesting contrasts that have yet to be explored.  matching jane and grayson now would be like having beatrice fall in love with Claudio, or at least the nice duke.

somehow, this all seems logical to me.   the possibility that it may be simply loony to get from les troyans to drop dead diva via the aenead and much ado about nothing has occurred to me. but then, it's my blog and i can try if i want to...

and so, happy new year to one and all.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Friday, December 14, 2012

Mass Murder and the Mind

not surprisingly, facebook today is full of anguished observations about the elementary school murders in connecticut.  mostly i read people calling for gun control.  and i'm with them.  these kids were murdered with weapons nobody needs for hunting or self-defense.

but we all know, i think, that better gun  control laws won't stop these things from happening--witness the similar killings of schoolchildren in china with axes and other accessible items whose purposes aren't to kill, but which can certainly do so.

social change on a large scale might help. but what change, and how to effect it?

 one thing apart from the killings themselves, i find alarming: several posts referred to the problem of "mental illness," which causes people to become killers.  i would certainly admit that anyone who commits this sort of murder is crazy.  but the reverse isn't true: not everyone who is crazy commits murder.  yes, i know, 'crazy' is a bad word.  but it is large enough to encompass many different, severe forms of mental illness, and we know it's used routinely to describe mental illness.  and 'mental illness' is the expression being used.

what i fear is the prejudice against people with mental illness that has always been part of our culture and that often still rears its head when society becomes fearful in the wake of large crime.  i'm not afraid for myself--my own form of 'mental illness' is very mild, and often in the mental-health world not even described as illness.  I'm clinically depressed.  but the veiled attacks on mental illness do hit home.  

i don't have the beginnings of an answer besides gun control, and since many of these sorts of murder are committed by students in the school, some sort of process that would sort out the truly potentially dangerous kids early enough to get them help.

but my fear is that this is simply part of human nature, from the beginings of history on.  read the Iliad--  the great joy of killing in war, the very detailed, sensual descriptions of individual killings.  read about the inquisition.  read simply the stories of less dramatic but pretty awful murders in any culture and any era.  maybe if ours were not a violence-glorifying culture, both on a media level and on a political level, it would help.  maybe if it weren't essential for our culture to have class systems that require some people to feel hatred of themselves and others, we would lessen mass killings of every sort.  but please don't blame the mentally ill, who are more likely to be victims of violence than its perpetrators.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The FIrst of December

when it's an early snow, blanketing
branch tops, and a few
small clusters
of bright yellow leaves

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Faith, Depression, Loss, and So It Goes

i have a dear online friend whom i knew a few years ago as a student, and adored.  we've since become close, in the way electronic media  sometimes fosters closeness---personal in a very public context.  it's odd, but it happens sometimes.

She's in her young 40s, old enough to have been through a lot good and a lot bad in life; she is  a reader, a thinker, and a born-again christian.  she writes GOD in capital letters, and this matters.  GOD is her foundation, and holds her up through some rough times, including what i read as close to clinical depression [that's how i read it, b/c it sounds so much like mine].  she is enormously busy, accomplishing a lot, including the raising of 2 toddlers; going to school; volunteer fire fighting; monthly military duty; extra readings of 'great thinkers' christian and otherwise; and is about to enter a course to become a paramedic.  i know i've left out a lot of what she does.

her politics simply bewilder me, as i think mine to hers, b/c they seem to come from the same gut place; a loathing of people hurting people.  she agrees with most of the extreme right wing.  she wants to help homosexuals and women who have abortions b/c she truly believes they are ipso facto  harming themselves and possibly others.  i wince, but i can't wince her away, b/c she is good, she is a loving, special, caring human being.

i have other born-again friends who don't like abortion or homosexuality, as personal life decisions or life paths, but whom i have seen fight hard against institutions that try to fire or discriminate against such people.  it might be interesting to see jen and della in a discussion about god; they are close in ways, far apart in others.

but what they both have, that i can neither borrow, absorb, nor grasp, is FAITH. again the capital letters, this time mine, not theirs.  i have lower case faith, it flows throughout and around me, and sometimes outside of me and sometimes back in.  it is part of my being, but i think not my foundation.  it's quasi-buddhist as much as anything, but not even that close to a religion.  maybe unitarian. or universalist.  sometimes it comes from my soul, but more from my brain.  sometimes, though rarely, it  allows me visions that help me grapple with pain or crisis.  mostly though, such visions come not at times of extremity, but at times of relative neutrality.  and visions may be the wrong word--more like a knowing, whether visual or sensual or not, through my whole being.

a couple of times, many years ago, such a knowing came to me in the elevator as i was leaving work to meet my  boyfriend. i'm not fond of elevators; it's not where i'd place a sense of eternity.  but i knew, in whatever block of time [which was irrelevant] i knew, that this instant in the elevator had always been, would always be, that it was existence.   a year or so later in that same elevator i literally, visually, saw myself there, as i had been in the first experience, again with no surprise.

but my visions, my knowings, have nothing to do with god or the rules of the bible or anything else. they simply are.  meditation might tell me more, but meditation makes me nervous and brings on anxiety i leave them to come when they choose.

they give me much understanding, but they give me nothing when i'm in the midst of depression.  and this is where i envy jen.  not that i believe for an instant that her depressions are less deep or less painful than mine.  but her GOD really is a foundation that holds her together.  my sort of faith--a combination of the visions and knowings and a large intellectual conviction that what is has always been and will always be in various permutations-- don't come together to rescue me; the dark thick core of dull pain lets nothing good into it, however well i function on the surface.   the core gets more or less thicker or thinner, but its power never lessens.  i think a strong, defined faith might help melt it.

but the trouble is that faith, though not only belief, requires belief. you can't just pick it up at a boutique or a thrift store.  if it's peripatetic and wispy, like mine is, it's useful at other times--but not these.  what i don't believe i can't have faith  in.  i wish i could borrow my friends' faiths, as i might a scarf on a winter night, to return when the storm is over.  but it isn't mine.  I love aspects of it: the baby born again each year to bring innocence into the world; the sorrowing mother who expands her sorrow not only to her son's unavoidable death, but to all of us lesser humans who suffer.  it's all a beautiful mythology.

so the pills are working now; i've stopped wishing to be dead, am able to write, am miles from happy but at least not all about the thick black core that knows it will get me later.

there is a gorgeous saying coming, i think, from christianity----lord, i believe; help my unbelief.  but my 'lord' wears  no face, is intangible; i need to find it different ways than my friends do, and these ways i think will not come through either the pain of depression or the muting of tranquilizers.  sometimes, in good times, i think it has found me---and maybe that's all i really need.

 &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&p.s., a day later.

Looking over this last post,  pretty much one draft, i found a few typos--easy enough to fix-- but also a couple of things worth clarifying that i don't want to add to a piece already written and read. as my friend jim pointed out, all christianity isn't born-again. i add this not as a judgement but simply a fact.  and beyond that, not all faith, or FAITH, are christian.  [i have been lucky enough to have had several muslim students in my classes over the years, and even luckier to have had some good personal conversations with a few of them about religion and its place in their lives. few of  my jewish friends are observant, but certainly judaism has a deep, ancient tradition of religious beliefs that manifest in their own sometimes cohesive, sometimes contradictory forms of faith. and those are only the abrahamic religions.  i grew up catholic, which for better or worse formed  the basis of my own sense of what religious belief is about.

and also, though i recognize myself in others' descriptions of depression, i can speak knowledgeably only about my own. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012


well, it might be interesting as an episode of the coyly named tv drama covert affairs, but only if the liaison led to the murder of other government agents and annie got to solve the crime.  it's almost certainly interesting to general patraeus' wife, and she should probably divorce him.  beyond that, who cares?  the only possibility legitimate reason to force him out of his job-- potential blackmail-- is lost once we all know.

i believe if you're in a traditional marriage, or any other relationship in which sexual exclusivity is part of the understanding, you should be sexually exclusive.  i also believe it's personal business.  i thought that way years ago when i learned more details about my president's orgasmic fluids than i could possibly find interesting.  i would watch the news, push the mute button[i think we had mute buttons back then], and decide that if hilary wanted  me to know what i thought about it all i'd be glad to tell her when she called me--i'd even offer her my couch for a few nights if she left him.  i will extend the same offer to mrs. patraeus now.  otherwise, it's none of my business. or the cia's, or the fbi's.  can't these people find more interesting things to investigate? isn't that what they're paid for?   i must admit to enjoying a politician's humiliation when he's publicly been trying to dictate the sexual morality of the rest of us.  but otherwise--spare me. spare our tax dollars, which can be used for a lot more important things than dumping adulterers from high-profile government jobs. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Not So 'Elementary,' My Dear Watson

Elementary, cbs's recent new detective show, purports to be a modernized Sherlock Holmes.  it's not.  or at least, it's no more so than dozens of shows over the years, in which a super-smart sleuth with a less-smart assistant solves crimes, explaining to his chum how he figured it all out.  the problem is that if its title is based on a famous holmes phrase and its characters are named sherlock holmes and doctor watson, you expect more.

i doubt that anyone could really do a modernized holmes [there's a british version, which i haven't seen, set in the 1940s, and maybe it works. i''m skeptical though].  it's so very late victorian/ early edwardian british that other eras and cultures are bound to clash.  if you do try it, it seems that it should have some real relation to the original. arthur conan doyles's holmes is total elegance and intellect; watson total admiration and respect.  but a watson as insecure failure is ludicrous.  even more lludicrous is holmes as scruffy, openly rude, and given to temper tantrums.  the original holmes is a snob, whose rudeness is presented in upper-class wit.  and the gender switch seems pointless, except to add to the reminder that this isn't victorian england.

jonny lee miller is fine for what he does, but what he does isn't holmes.  it's not a bad show for what it is. i think that how much a viewer likes this kind of crime-stopper show will always depend on their response to the main character. i'm not especially drawn to this guy, so it wouldn't be a favorite of mine in any case. but it's certainly watchable, and i can see where others would find him more appealing than i do. it's a good time-slot, 10-11, and when i get back from work thursday nights i like to watch it. if only it wouldn't pretend to be what it isn't.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Handel's'Gender-Bender Opera

opera is a peculiar genre, full of sexist stereotypes, but almost forced to create a fair number of strong women for the variety of voices. beginning as a form long after shakespeare and the keep-the-women-off-the-stage rules [at least in england], it incorporated women amply from the start.  indeed, where classical and early renaissance theatre had boy actors to play women, opera has often incorporated 'pants roles'--women singing young men.  [they also had the horrific habit of keeping some boy singers' voices high by castrating them;  today's equivalent of the castrati are the increasingly popular counter-tenors--tenors who have trained their singing voices to reach pitches equivelant to to those of female contraltos].  interesting, these voices are rarely used to convey women, and in early opera especially, counter-tenors often play virile, win-the-gal heroes.

last week i saw a handel comedy, 'partenope,' that seemed to me to have even more than the usual share of gender-bending, and it made for some interesting vocal and theatrical effects.  partenope [a soprano] is the queen of naples, in love with arsace, visiting prince of corinth.  she is also enjoying the attentions of her loyal ally prince armindo of rhodes. both men are sung by countertenors. they are joined in their passion by king emilio of cumae [tenor], with whom she also flirts, but ultimately rejects. he decides then to become worthy of her love by invading and conquering her country.  why he thinks the way to a queen's heart is to decimate her country, i'm not quite sure, but he does and storms out at the end of act 1, vowing to conquer her heart and country in one grand gesture.  add to the mix another fellow, a foreigner who swears allegiance to the queen and buckles the swash with the best of them. the hitch is, he's not a 'he' at all, but rather arcase's abandoned love, rosmira, determined to be revenged on him.  her voice is a deep contralto that at times can still be beautifully lyrical.  in the production i saw at boston baroque last week, she was sung by kirsten solleck, who was the most effectively androgynous looking pants-role singer i've even seen.  so we had at times, the rare and lovely sound of a contralto and 2 countertenors singing together.

then, in the 2nd act, flirty-cutey partenope decides to lead her own troops into battle, actually fighting with her men.  so in a sense, we have for a while two 'men' who are really women. by the end, she is sobered a bit by the war, in spite of her triumph, but definitely back to girly-girl.  oh well, can't have everything.

Friday, October 19, 2012

''Dickens' Women"

a very brief note, all i have time or energy for at the moment.  miriam margolyes, an actor much better known in england than the US, has recently finished a british tour of her one'-woman show, dicken's women.  she began her US tour here in boston for one night on wednesday. it wasn't well publicized, and i was lucky that a friend of mine knew about it. it was....pick your superlative--splendid, brilliant, grab-your belly funny and then painfully touching.  i so nearly didn't see it, and it is so fine, i wanted anyone who might be interested to be aware, if it does come to your area. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Whistle Blowers and Condoms, and a Young Man in Prison

given my current depression--lessening now, thank heaven!--i have deliberately not been watching conventions [what! they're nominating mitt romney?] or debates, and read about them only as much as i feel i need to. sad obama apparently blew it last week, glad biden did well this week.  but i'm trying, till i feel stronger, to avoid politics.

 sometimes, though, you can't avoid it.  glancing through the metro news a few weeks ago [ like to read the astrology page at night to find out what i did that day] i came across a reminder of a long-lasting, still upsetting situation: the attempt to get wikileaks founder julian assange kicked out of every country till he ends up extradited to the US, where he'll be at best imprisoned for years, at worst, executed.

i am even angrier at the use of the anti-rape legislation of sweden.  while anti-abortion politicians in the US are trying to convince us that rape is confined to attacks in alleys from demonic strangers, the anti-assange crew is trying to convince us the sweden's idiosyncratic inclusion of sex without condoms in their definition of rape is valid in the rest of the world.   in two separate reported incidents, assange was involved in consensual sex with adult women, and his condom broke. he didn't immediately stop the intercourse, and both women reported this to the police. neither claims to have been in any way coerced into the sex itself.  need i point out that once sex has begun it's pretty ...involving?...and your mind isn't necessarily working at its most logical.  he should have stopped, yeah. could he have stopped? maybe.  a sexologist could probably tell you.  maybe he's just a sleaze.  sweden deserves much praise for its serious attention to abuse of women, but they may want to consider some of their definitions of sexual abuse.

if he really had raped these women, frankly i'd be glad for the pursuit he's gone through, even knowing that it had nothing to do with the rapes and everything to do with the fact that he's revealed secrets to the people of countries whose politicians would rather the public didn't know.  but using a highly questionable definition of rape is something else.  If anyone really considers him some sort of sexual predator, flood the internet with warnings not to date this guy.  and then start investigating all the swedes whose condoms have broken.  better yet, include the swedish definition of 'rape' in our own laws, and start investigating american men.  one wonders how that would affect the demographics of american prisons.

meanwhile, almost ignored by the US press, a young army private has lived in a series of American prisons for the past four years, some appallingly brutal, because he got hold of and sent to wikileaks a large number of classified documents.  among liberals and leftists, bradley manning has been seen as the daniel ellsburg of our era.  various processes leading up to trial have taken place, with manning still ensconced in prison for being a whistle blower.  he may well end up spending the rest of his life incarcerated. maybe some truly dangerous information is getting out.  but i'm  more concerned about the rights of the public to be informed about where its tax money is going, what toxins are being used in wars declared and undeclared, and many other things we don't think about because we don't know about. and i don't believe either assange or bradley is as dangerous to our country as any of the conservative politicians dedicated to keeping the poor ever poorer and enlarging the population in poverty, in constricting women's rights to control their reproduction decisions, and in destroying the environment for the benefit of big business.  let's investigate their sexual habits: i'm betting we could find a few busted condoms in their backgrounds.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Summer's Original TV Series

farewell to summer, and all its glories! for tv lovers, one of those glories has been evenings  relaxing in front of a tube mercifully spouting not only reruns [which have themselves long since morphed into year-round options], but, on the cable channels, new, summer-only series.  we've gotten some wonderful summer dramas in the past few years--though these can be as shaky as network regular season shows.  I miss several of these series, especially those permanently gone: there was  'In Plain Sight,' which seemed to me to have potential for two or three more seasons, but ended last year, and especially the brilliant 'Saving Grace,' which broke through numerous taboos to create a gorgeous vehicle for holly hunter but which lasted only  2 1/2 years, ending in 2010. the odd thing about the latter loss is that the show's ratings were good; TNT cancelled it because it had poor international sales and dvd sales.  the last season had some awful writing, but that was pretty clearly because they knew it wasn't being renewed, and weren't bothering to keep up the consistent intelligence and sophistication of the first two seasons.  'Saving Grace,' if you don't remember, was about a hard living, heavy drinking, promiscuous cop who was provided with a quirky guardian angel.  In spite of sounding like a Touched by an Angel' spinoff, this was one of the most serious, thought-provoking, daring shows i've ever seen on tv.  when it touched on spirituality--as it did surprisingly often--it was with complexity, intelligence, warmth, and a refreshing lack of sentimentality. mostly, it was a crime procedural, set in the grim surroundings of  Oklahoma City in the years following the bombing of the federal building. hunter was magnificent in it, as was leon rippy, who played the scruffy, beer-guzzling, overweight good-ol'-boy angel out to save her from damning herself.

                                             drop dead diva

which actually wasn't what i started out to write about, since it's been gone for 2 years.  but it leads to the first of the three i most miss, now that this summer is over.  The girl-and-her-guardian-angel theme had reemerged in 2009, while grace was still going strong.  Given that this is hardly a common tv  premise, its existence was surprising in itself.  what is even more surprising is that the two shows had almost nothing in common, except for strong heroines and usually fine writing.  Diva which has just finished its 4th season, is a dramady whose characters fall comfortably within the parameters of early 21th century conventions.  its heroine isn't averse to the ocassional love affair, but she's hardly promiscuous, and the viewer certainly never gets the impression that jane, unlike grace [who finds multiple uses for her handcuffs], is especially  kinky.  jane's problem, as i discussed in an earlier post, is simply that she died briefly and returned in another dead woman's seriously zaftig body. even jane's guardian angels are less complex, and God is rarely mentioned. but the shows certainly have shared one unfortunate quality. the last episode we saw of either show was lousy.

with 'grace,' it's clear that this was because of quick and probably indifferent writing, leaving us with its heroine dead in the process of saving humanity, and with myriad inconsistencies.  lord knows why season 4 of 'diva' ended so badly.  it wasn't trying for closure, but for cliff-hanging. but it really stunk.  it was entitled 'jane's getting married,' and previous adverrtising promised us that jane was indeed getting married in the season finale, but boy would we be surprised by the show anyway.  fans were having a lively time speculating that she would end  up marrying not owen, her fiance, but grayson, her old boyfriend, whom she had yearned after from the season's beginning.  or maybe she and owen would flee their big wedding and elope.   well, the big surprise was that the promos were deceiving us: jane didn't get married to anyone, though she was about to. all wedding-gowned, in the moments before the ceremony, jane and grayson kissed, which owen saw and promptly died of a heart attack.  since we knew he had a potentially fatal heart condition,  much as i love the character of owen, i might be able to forgive that part of the plot by itself. but it was worse.  the soul of the original jane had been hanging out in the anteroom of heaven [which looks a giant sauna room about to go out of business].  one wonders why she didn't just go into heaven, which i understand from my catholic schoolgirl days is supposed to be a cool place. but we are told that she chose to stay in the sauna room to watch how the new jane has lived the jane-life. and she doesn't like it. hence she's been waiting for a body to inhabit so she can go and get even, and poor owen's death provides one. this is a tad confusing; we know from episode 2 that old jane is unhappy with new jane's life; surely in the intervening years numerous people have died while old jane moped in the chill waiting room.

  the original deb-in-jane's-body story was fine to set the premise of the show, but it was enough.  increasing heaven-to-earth traffic just looks silly--will we end up with a series about wholesome zombies?  this is further confused by publicity that has promised a contnuation of the grayson-owen rivalry for the love of deb-jane.  one of the things we've been wondering about on the fan page [yes, friends, karen is on a fan-page now--2 , actually,  if you must know] is how the fact that owen is now old-jane will affect that rivalry. if he makes a pass at deb-jane, does that constitute a peculiar form of masturbation? if he doesn't, what does that mean for the great rivalry?  if owen-turned-old-jane now exists only to torment her,  where does that leave grayson?  true, it will give a splendid actor a chance to play a very challenging role [for that matter it's been fun seeing elliott play both janes,with very different affects].  but i do hope they don't keep that up too long; it will get very old very quickly.

that's if they keep it up at all.  the real cliffhanger here turns out not to be the plot, but the show itself. so far, it's not clear whether or not lifetime is renewing diva, though they have announced the renewal of at least one of its other shows.  if nothing else, this has kept our fan pages buzzing. it seems hard to imagine that with its great ratings we could lose the show.  nor does one poorly-written and -conceived episode suggest the fate of "saving grace'; that finale tied up loose ends, however badly. this just opened up a new bunch of even looser ends.  it would be a pity to lose diva. diva may lack the depth of saving grace, but it has been moving, comical, and at core socially responsible: in a tv universe defined by mega- thin women, brooke elliiott's flirty, self-confident jane has been a breath of  continually fresh air.

                                 the closer

One compelling subtheme of diva has been the ironic double love story.  Deb is not allowed [for some unclear reason] to tell anyone who she truly is, including grayson, with whom she works in the law firm.  so being with him daily, she yearns hopelessly for him.  he, at the same time, is deeply mourning the woman he believes to be dead: deb herself.  so although not a love story, the show has love as a strong subtheme.  So, actually, does the closer, though of a very different sort.  true, our heroine, brenda, falls in love with and marries a nice fbi agent, but there's nothing especially compelling about that story.  in this show the important love is neither sexual  nor romantic.  but it is wonderfully moving and effective.  our hero, brenda leigh johnson, is a 30-something cop with a genius for getting confessions out of guilty criminals, thus closing the case.  so she is put in charge of  the Priority Homicide team, a small brotherhood of policemen who have worked together for years, have a strong cameraderie, and are not interested in being ordered around by a newcomer--especially not a female one. the guys themselves are a fairly diverse crew--from 20-something sergeant gabriel to the cantankerous, no-one's-making- me-retire Lieutenant Provenza [played the the marvelous g.w. bailey];  one is black, one asian-american, one hispanic.  each uses his background in their crime work when it's called for.  their temperaments vary from cynical to passionate to gently idealistic.  but they have years of shared experience behind them, and it becomes clear from the start that their newest shared experience is a hearty dislike of brenda.  it doesn't help that this is los angeles, and brenda is from georgia, her style a perfect steel-magnolia sugary and sarcastic sweetness [one of her leitmotifs is an exaggeratedly polite 'thank you so much.']  within the first two seasons, they all come around when they realize both brenda's skill and her strong loyalty to the men under her command, and the affection and mutual respect becomes central.

brenda hereself is quirky and eccentric.  she hides a drawerful of candy, which she feels ashamed of but which provides her outlet when a case or a personal problem is getting to her.  she is a bit clumsy.  her genius and her commitment to the law are always stronger, however, and as she and the team grow together her essential warmth becomes far more evident.

the show began in 2005, and kept its great ratings, but kyra sedgewick  has decided to move on.  with plenty of preparation time, the show moved gracefully into a smooth finale.  the producers had decided to try and keep the rest of the cast together, with a few concept changes, into a follow-up show, in which the division becomes the larger Major Crimes Division.  Replacing the irreplaceable brenda leigh is another woman, a character who had been integrated into closer in the last seasons.  captain raydar [mary mcdonnell] is also a tough woman, whose style is different from brenda's and who has been brenda's enemy turned supporter.  the problem with the new Major Crimes is that it is inevitably a repetition of the closer, however much it claims not to be.  we even start again with the crew's hostility to the new boss, though this time they don't object to her gender, and even have a new female cop in their division.  but mcdonnell, a fine actor in her own right, isn't different enough from sedgewick to make this work.  the producers were in a bind: if the new leader were male, they would surely be accused of sexism.  still, to change the dynamics enough to avoid being brenda-light, they could have made other choices. what about an older woman--think kathy bates in the sadly short-lived Harry's Law?  or even hire a problematic male, and put more women into the crew itself.  the man could, for example, be clearly gay, and talk comfortably about his husband.  there is some precedent now for gay characters in tv; yet most of our detective friends from the closer would probably be different shades of homophobic. or someone overtly vulgar--leon rippy, late of saving grace, would be a great type. in any case, Major Crimes'  few episodes have been okay, but not much more.  maybe by next season, it will have grown into its own identity and become more intriguing. But i think closer fans will always miss brenda leigh.


the new kid on the block this summer has been Perception, which has already been renewed for a second season.  this is a thoroughly fascinating procedural.  it raised, for me at least, two major questions. how would star eric mccormack work as a character dramatically different from his charming, wittily sophisticated gay Will of Will and Grace fame? and how would audiences react to this character? Dr. Daniel Pierce is paranoid schizophrenic  who is also a brilliant neuroscience professor frequently recruited by the FBI. He has a brilliant understanding of the human mind, which his own disease has actually heightened.  when he remains on his medication, he usually functions well.  when he's off the meds, he has fairly constant hallucinations. but while he is tormented by his illness, he actually cherishes part of it. many of the hallucinations are useful aspects of his own unconscious, which help him work out cases.  a long, friendly chat with joan of arc, for example, reveals the motive of a killer.  he's fine with that, and doesn't realize until mid-conversation that she isn't really there. 'wait a minute, why am i talking to joan of arc?' he suddenly asks her.  'okay, so you're an hallucination. so you think...?'  but his hallucinations aren't all joan of arc, and none of them make sense to other people, who see him walking along the campus comfortably chatting with someone who isn't there.  he is lonely and isolated, afraid to risk friendships with people who might themselves be hallucinations, or, being real, are likely to be alienated by his craziness.  the people he usually does see are his teaching assistant, a perennial student whose real job is baby-sitting pierce; and his former student, an fbi agent who has recruited him.  then there's his best friend, natalie, who spends a lot of time hanging out with him: we realize, though he doesn't until the season finale, that she is the strongest of his hallucinations, invented by his mind from a woman he has seen only once in his life.

i was a bit reluctant even to watch the show at first: fortunately, i'm no schizophrenic, but i am a chronic depressive, and was in the midst of a nasty, prolonged episode when the show began.  i wasn't quite sure how i'd handle something not exactly close to home, but not totally foreign either.  it turned out harmless and possibly helpful; if dr. pierce could restrain his craziness enough to be an excellent and coherent teacher, i could certainly function with my own much  smaller problem.  i could even convince myself briefly that i too was a genius. [only briefly, alas; i never lose that much touch with reality]. and there is an honesty in the program that neither glamorizes nor degrades mental illness and that i think is protective to shaky viewers.  the exaggerations are those of all crime procedurals, or for that matter of any tv or or other fictional formulas--but it is never with the character's condition. it's very well done, and mccormack has certainly proved himself as talented a dramatic actor as a comic one.  I'm glad to know that this show, at least, will return to us next summer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Poem from Way When

it's been a while since i've posted; there are things i want to write about: some tv shows, and the aenead , in particular, but it's being a difficult time to think things through clearly.  i've been going through a long medium-strength depression that creates in its kinder moments a  numbing lethargy.  at the same time, the stars must be up to something unpleasant, because in very different ways many of the people i care most for are also going through varieties of unhappiness.  i keep remembering the words of a poem i wrote many many years ago, but one i've always cherished. so i've been searching for wherever i keep old, pre-computer poems, with no luck.  still, i've got it pretty clear in my  mind, though this may be more of a rewrite than i'd intended. but it may have meaning to some of you, so here it is.


It's a dull thing, courage.
Its myth shines, like bette
davis in the last scene of dark victory,
denying herself the comfort of her old dog's love
walking to death radiant as a sunlamp.
Its reality is different.
Courage whines and snivels, it huddles in dark corners, crying,
begging for help.
It takes whatever it can get.
Infrequently, it glows.
But its essence is the essence of the eagle's flight
and the worm's slow crawl.  For us it is, simply,
the most efficient way 
to move.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


i wrote here last may about drop dead diva, before the new season began. now the season is about to end, and there is no certainty that it will  be renewed.  it would be a pity to lose, not only because it was already a good show, but because this year it included a new character, briefly introduced at the end of last season but far more integrated into this year's shows.

for those who don't know DDD, a brief recap. when it began 5 years ago, it had a fairly novel premise. on the same day, two women are killed in different circumstances.  due to a mixup in heaven, one of them, deb, was not fated  to die, but her body is presumably too messed up to return her to, so she ends up in the body of the other woman, jane.  deb has been a narcissistic young wanna-be model; jane is a brilliant, somewhat drab  lawyer in her mid-30s.  jane is pretty, but fat, and when deb comes out of her coma she is less thrilled to be alive than horrified by her new body.  her guardian angel joins her to set up the rules, one of which is no one is to know that she's deb in jane's body [heaven, presumably, can't handle bad press.] but by the time he lets her in on this, she has already told her good-hearted but bubble-brained best friend, stacy.

jane has worked in a law firm whose other employees include deb's fiance, grayson. so part of the ongoing tsuris is that while grayson mourns his lost love, jane/deb mourns  her loss of grayson, who can never be told the truth.

the show has always been one of those on-the-edge dramadies--serious, but with a touch of humor about itself.  for me, and i think many other fans, the major joy has been that rarity, a fat heroine.  brooke eliot has been close to perfect in the role.  having always been thin and gorgeous, the new 'jane' simply doesn't know how to be an appropriate fat girl.  she sashays everywhere , flirts outrageously, and flips her hair around like a shampoo-commercial model.  luckily, jane's brain being part of her body, this newly blended woman has all of jane's legal knowledge [though none of her personal memory] and the savvy to recreate what she doesn't remember.  watching her morph into the hybrid jane has been one of the most charming experiences over the months of the show. the fact that it takes grayson 3 seasons [within what we assume to be the fictional time frame of a year or 2] before he recognizes aspects of deb in jane has been telling.  nothing about this fat woman with so much of deb's personality ever seems to remind him of his beloved fiance.  he was in love with a gorgeous babe, not an intelligent woman. it's only at the end of season 3, last summer,  that he begins to get a glimmer of something going on.  significantly, he kisses stacy, because she reminds him so much of deb. stacy starts to tell him the truth, finally supplying the hint that will start him looking at his pal jane differently.

stacy has been a great, if sometimes annoying character.  she is completely golden-hearted and loving, and nearly completely stupid. so she is always a present reminder that deb has been lucky in her peculiar re-incarnation.  it has caused deb to grow emotionally and intellectually, while continuing to appreciate the kind of savvy and idiosyncrasy of the untutored model.  the casting, in fact, has been wonderful all along, including that of  the boyish guardian angel, sent to watch over 'deb' but falling in love with stacy. [they've just dumped the character this season, replacing him with a meaner, more macho angel--possibly to give us a better foil for jane's defiance of anyone who tries to tell her what to do.]

all this has been grand. and then--enter owen.  introduced at the end of last season as a colorful and somewhat arrogant judge who takes a fancy to jane when she defies him in court, owen has created possibly more potential than the show can handle.  they have chosen the perfect actor for him, in a fairly surprising way.  everyone on the show is standardly gorgeous, even fred-the-angel, except for jane herself. Lex Medlin is appealing looking, much in the mold of john goodman.  he's a bit stocky, and not especially handsome, and owen dresses in outfits that suggest a fairly indifferent approach to fashion. he's neither suave nor stylish, in many ways less of a storybook character than any of the others.  and yet in a sense he's the most romantic character the show has yet had--a funky prince charming who matter-of-factly sweeps jane off her feet.  when he is at the airport on his way to a year's training for the america's cup, a lifelong dream, and sees that she's there too on her way to a couple of weeks in italy, he blithely shows  up in her airplane, and as she stammers about the america's cup, he just shrugs and says he can always sit on a boat but may never again have the chance to show her around italy.  she acts pleased; he acts pleased that she's pleased, and the whole thing takes place so smoothly that it takes a moment for the viewer to grasp that he's just given up a lifetime dream to spend two weeks with her.  pure, high-level romance, presented as a likable gesture of affection.  and we know that he is totally besotted with her.

 this is decent writing and directing, but above all it's medlin's acting.  he has an expressiveness of voice and especially of facial and bodily carriage that is remarkable. much of their love affair is reflected in his face.  from the very beginning, when he matter-of-factly tells jane from the bench that he has reserved a table for them at a local restaurant, hr reflects combinations of emotion. in this scene his casual bravado suggests a genuine interest in jane, a genuine self-confidence, and a slight, nearly imperceptible turn of  the lines between his eyebrows that suggest a  fear she might turn him down.  much later down the line, as the now-engaged couple are house-hunting, jane expresses her  appreciation of a house's big back yard, which she says will be perfect for a swing set for the kids. owen flashes in a minisecond a look that shows surprise [they had evidently not discussed this aspect of marriage], joy at the realization, and pure shining love for jane. the awkwardness of his proposal to jane is wonderful, and slightly underplayed: they had earlier talked about the institution of marriage, which jane cherishes  and he finds intrusive in a relationship.  his proposal reflects his willingness to do anything to please jane and to keep her with him, and at the same time a tiny hint of the fact that it isn't what he would have chosen on his own.   there are dozens of such textured emotions in owen's face throughout the episodes.

as i said, the problem with the owen character is that the show may have to heighten its own standards to embody what he, in combination with jane, has to offer it.  their relationship has bumps, but they are solved with the surface ease of an old love boat episode.  given the seriousness of his intellect, owen is not a character who would shrug off his beliefs against marriage in a brief time.  it's an interesting idea, rarely dealt with in tv fictions, and  worthy of characters who are both loving and reasonable enough to talk it over, get to the depths of each other's feelings, make decisions that involve an awareness of compromise. when, soon after he preposes, he suffers a near-fatal heart attack and decides he can't marry jane after all because of what it would do to her if he died from the next one, it's as though his earlier dislkie of marriage never happened. he tells her he has changed becasue of his near death, she says all the right but non-profound things about being lucky to have each other as long as they can, and he changes his mind.  yet here is a woman who herslf has nearly died, must have some deep sesne of her own about mortality, and has as well the intelligence to know that there aren't just the choices of marry soon or break up.all this rich human stuff, could make some great episodes, maybe even a full season of seeing their relationship deepen while working out its dynamic.  and none of that would take away from the rest of the things on the show that are fun and funny.

there is finally the puzzle of their physical relationship.  like all melodrama and most  comedy,  much of being in love in DDD is expressed in the sudden, mouthn-working, hip -grabbing kiss.  indeed jane's trip to italy takes place becasus she has seen such a kiss between stacy and grayson, and misunderstood it, not only running off  just when grayson is beginning to realize the similarities between her character and deb's, but also sharing the information with guardian angel fred, who is in love with stacy  and who now runs off back to the afterlife to escape his pain.  yet as she and owen clearly become closer, with stacy helpfully discussing with jane whether owen's interest is in 'dating' or being 'just friends', the Kiss, of any sort, barely materializes.  they do hold hands, they laugh and smile and delight in each other's company; they 'have chemestry.' to some extent, this is a welcome releif from the obligatory mouth guzzling body clutching boy-this-is-serious kiss.  reading owen's eyes, and to some extent jane's, is nice for a change.  but there are  moments one starts to wonder if they should just get adopted by the same parents.  this has been mentioned by fans on the various cyber venues--the show's face book page, the actors' facebook pages and tweet pages, Lifetime's own show gossip pages. i loved the deeply felt though highly inelegant post by one fan, discussing the scene when jane convinces the post-heart attack owen that they can and should be together, and he reacts with relief and excitement and puts the discarded engagement ring back on her hand. "He should have been kissing the crap out of  her!' wrote the disgruntled fan. indeed he should.

ah well, the season finale is sept. 9--the wedding day of jane and owen--and whatever cliffs that keeps us haning from, we can hope for a deeper and juiciier expansion of jane and own next summer.......

Friday, August 31, 2012

RIP to a Feminist Hero :Shulamith Firestone

for those of us in the 'second wave' of feminism,  shulamith firestone's 1970  'dialectic of sex' was crucial. bringing a deep knowledge of marxism to her feminist analysis, she forced her readers to think, to question, to analyze ideas sometimes terrifying in their intellectual scope. she was a fearless writer and thinker, and like all visionaries she was mocked as much as admired.  her book came out at the same time as the first of actor shirley maclaine's charming memoirs, and i remember vividly the anger i felt at the highly reputable book critic of the NY Times, who thought it would be amusing to compare the two books. maclaine gave a lovely picture of a liberated life that she and her husband lived, raising their daughter in both america and japan, he explained, while firestone gave ponderous theories of collective child care.  he seemed to find nothing ludicrous in comparing the tale of a rich and famous couple with a look at the lives of parents who were lucky if they could both feed and clothe their kids.   it was a bit like comparing garrison keeler to karl marx, but after all, this was just female stuff.  
over the years, more and more feminist analysis was produced, some as good as firestone's, most at least worthy of reading.  and as with all visionary works, some of firestone's visions collided with the specifics of later history.  some didn't.  some of our history has yet to catch up with her thinking.  

she never had a happy life, to my knowledge, and certainly not an easy one.  she died fairly young, at 67,  after bouts with various illnesses.  we were lucky to have her as long as we did.

anyone younger who is interested in feminism and in real feminist theory should read her; all these years later, there are still few among  us with the courage to explore the unknown frontiers of her theory. sad that she's gone, and i hope there is peace after this life and that she has found it.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Friends

look at them! look!  cries the invisible child, shrill-voiced, agonized.  the woman is startled. this is not how the invisible child acts. what's wrong? she asks, but her friend just points to the wall. look at them! she repeats.

the woman looks and sees only a dull-brick building with gray windows.  in one of the windows is a thin plant, probably plastic.  the wall reeks of neglect--weeds climb up, vining where they can, passing indifferently over the lowest of the filthy windows.  no sign of people or pets. the building isn't even interesting enough to be ugly, and its degeneration doesn't speak of lives once lived and faded away, of human history abandoned.  the woman can think of no reason to look at it with pain or pleasure or even conscious indifference. finally she asks irritably, what am i supposed to be seeing?

they're separated! they can't even see each other any more!   all the world's sadness moans through the invisible voice--gloom, loneliness, the rack of the world pulling self from self.

and still the woman cannot see. what? what? she keeps asking echoes of the unseen grief.

the plant, whispers the child.  look at the plant!

the woman looks to the one living window. the plant, she now sees, is not plastic; the leaves are simply dulled with neglect. the dirt she cannot see has dried out.  yes, the plant, it seems to be dying, she says tentatively.

of course it's dying, the child cries, anger and anguish blending  jaggedly. they took its soul away!  she points to the twisting leaves below. vaguely the woman remembers the last time she passed this wall.  the weeds were lush, they covered everything, reaching nearly to the roof.  someone had cut them down and now, again ignored, they were tortuously climbing back up.  but they were no longer higher than the windows.

they were friends, the invisible child says sorrowfully, hopelessly.  the weed grew just up to the middle of the window and stayed there, while the others grew higher.  the weed and the plant were together, always together. no one bothered with them, weeds or people.

a worker in overalls walks by, and the woman talks to him.  does he work in this building?  oh no ma'am, he laughs. no one works there, not in all the years i've been here. old wreck of a building, not much left of it..  they'll be tearing it down soon, build a parking lot.

but the plant in the window, who owns it?

nobody. it just stays there. it'll go down with the building. smiles, nods, moves on.

but the weeds? she wants to ask.  what will they do with the weeds? no point; the man has gone and the question is foolish anyway.

oh don't worry about the weeds, the bitter invisible voice hisses. they won't die. people think they kill weeds, but they never really do. you'll see when it's a parking lot--you'll see the weeds sneak back, cracking through the stupid cement. the weeds will come home. but the friends won't be together, ever again.

and she's gone. the woman stands trembling. she watches the no-longer-there building, the blind emptiness around her.  the weeds will come back, they always do, she repeats to herself.  the invisible child will show up again, she always does.  the friends, she prays, will somehow reconfigure.   she leaves the path and walks toward the traffic, the crowds, the fast food chains, the lottery office.  she can't remember why she was on the alley road to begin with. maybe to say goodbye to a drying dying plant she'd never met, to a weed hopelessly climbing. there is a bus stop on the corner; she walks toward it gratefully.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Charismatic Catholic

when i was a catholic high-school kid, circa 1960, one of our religion assignments was to watch Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's weekly 1/2 hour television show.  since i obeyed it, we must have had to write reports or in some way prove our assignment was done.  i remember hating it.  later i recall being told that bishop sheen was charismatic;  recently i've seen a clip of one of the shows, and now i can understand the description.  i certainly didn't perceive any charisma at the time. he was boring, even with those fiery eyes, and he didn't even have any dancers or jugglers like ed sullivan did. ed sullivan i liked.

released from the odious obligation by graduation, i never expected i would willingly watch a religion  show again. then a few years ago, as i was channel-surfing, i came across pastor melissa. i watched, mesmerized, and soon became at least semi-addicted to pastor scott. she preached in a mega-church, and she was a fascinating variation on the snippets of mega-church shows i'd caught in previous channel surfs. to begin with, she is a stunningly gorgeous woman. and though she dressed in severe, alsmost nun-like black blouse and skirt-or-pants  outfit,  clerical collar the only exception to the blackness of the outfit, she had beautiful, flowing, waist-length hair.  that anomaly was itself glaring; the other thing i liked was the fact that i never understood what she was talking about.  other preachers on tv harangued about sin and hell, the usual stuff, and i'd had plenty of that with bishop sheen. but pastor scott was pure exegesis: she strode purposefully from  book stand to whiteboard, which was already covered with combinations of greek and roman alphabet words, which she dissected furiously with encirclings and arrows, explaining that while this word has been translated as 'fire,' in the original language it really meant 'heat'--or stuff to that effect.  nothing about birth control or abortion or homosexuality or sins of the flesh.  so nothing for me to get pissed at.  eventually i googled [as one  always does] and she turned out to be quite a character. she had been in the sex industry--hooker or stripper, i don't remember which--and went to church one day, where she heard a sermon from the elderly, brilliant pastor scott, and found salvation.  she and the pastor were eventually married, she studied and became a pastor herself, and at her husband's death took over his ministry.  posts about her were either worshipful ['she saved my soul and i've never had an unhappy day since'] or blisteringly bitter.  her husband had been accused of being a major con artist, and she, it was averred, had followed in his footsteps.

i have no idea which version was the truth, and i realize that for believers that matters a lot. as an unbeliever, however, i found her great fun.  eventually i deserted her--or maybe her show was cancelled--and felt no further desire to pursue televangelism.

recently, however, i have been called back to the tv faith.  there is a local [boston-area] catholic station, and one of its shows is called 'going my way.'  true to the inspiration for its title, it is wholesome enough to make 'leave it to beaver' seem raunchy.  yet its host is a priest i really do find charismatic.  father chris hickey loves what he's doing, and it shows.  he's having fun.  his charm is exactly the reverse of the eloquently melodramatic bishop sheen's. he has a distinct new england accent, and he is genuinely folksy.  not 'gee golly whiz' folksy, but the real thing.  he has a sort of sidekick, father paul rouse, who plays the piano.

and here's the thing. the first bit of the show is always an interview with a priest or nun or active layperson doing some church work in the community. honesty compels me to admit i've never watched this part of the show, but i will. i owe it to father chris. because in the second half, father chris and his guest sing. [hence father paul and the piano].  and what they sing is the upbeat music of the 30s and 40, and probably the 20s. the american songbook.  his voice is pleasant, if not outstanding, and father paul's piano playing is the perfect accompaniment.  sometimes the guest can't really carry a tune.  but the guest always picks up father chris's enthusiasm, and what is lacking in professionalism is made up by the sheer fun they're having.  father chris can carry off a love song with no hint of sensuality but a strong hint of love.  he may be the happiest ham in show biz.    he seems to be totally sincere.  i get the sense of a man who is in love with himself because he's in love with everybody in the world.

i don't know what his theology is, and maybe that's why i manage to avoid the first part of the show.  if he opposes birth control or gay marriage or obama's health plan, i don't want to know it.  all i want is to accept his invitation to 'sing along at home.'  i hope he wouldn't mind knowing he makes a pagan ex-catholic enjoy life just a little bit more.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Willful Hallucinations in the Hearing-Test Room

they sit you in a little peagreen room while a lady in the next room pushes computer commands that make beeps and when you hear a beep you push the button on a little black gizmo they give you. nothing is in the room, no pictures on walls, no calendars, no water cooler.  nothing to look at while you wait for beeps and buttons, except the door. It has a silver dark handle that’s held there by a couple of screwed-in circles on the top and bottom, and so you watch the screwed-in circles and the handle while you listen for beeps. the

bottom circle has screws on each side and a semicircle with little triangles on its edges which make it look like a cat face and i like beep watching  it, it’s more of a kitten face really and i’d like to pet it but i know  beep i should stay in the chair listening for beeps so  just watch the cat face and beep  then see a little mouth mark where she can beep purr from.  i don’t

 like the beep top circle which has no ears and isn’t a cat but a beep bigger creature with a terrible terrible beep beak that reaches down to the kitten’s head and beep i beep beep can’t warn the kitten she doesn’t know the beast will catch her in its beep beak and break her and how beep beep can beep i help her i can’t and there’s the last beep and then the lady in the other room says I can go home now. I want to tell her about the cat and the big beast but I know she won’t believe me, and I don’t believe me. still I yank the beak hard when i go out & hope I’ve injured it and i whisper goodbye to the cat , it’s

 like a hearing version of the eye chart when you read the lowest line, except i don’t hear things when get my eyes examined, which is good because who wants to listen to a cat scream and the sound of the monster-beak biting into its head?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

12th Night

glancing at my blog and saw i had something in 'draft', and this was it.  i must have planned to come back to it later in the week, and forgot it.  but '12th night' should never be forgotten....and this will do as it is;  i'm sure i'll have more to say about it in the future.....

april '12...tonight is my last Literary Foundations class of the term, and as always, the final work discussed is 'twelfth night.'  in my reckless youth, i beleived 'much ado' was shakespeare's best play, but after years of teaching 'twelfth night,'  nothing will ever convince me that it is possilbe for anything to be  better than this utterly exquisite play.  it's a heartache of a play, brilliant comedy though it is.  its very title is a giveaway:  though Pepys and others have grumbled that the plot has nothing to do with that  holiday, it totally mirrors it.  we've had our weeks of fun and joy, of romance and resurrection,  of seas that swallow souls up and then gently push them to shore unscathed. this is now ending.  so let's have this one more happy game, because tomorrow death and pain will be waiting for us,with no miracles but life itself, and that not guaranteed.  feste the clown--tragic by the very nature of his profession--jokes with maria about death: 'he that is well hanged in this world need fear no colors.' when maria asks why, feste replies that 'he shall see none to fear.'' 'a good lenten answer,' retorts maria. a good lenten play; fun is everywhere, but tomorrow reality takes over once more.

Being Stars

    posted on susan love's fb page--and scientifically true........