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Wrapping Up, Maybe (Maybe Not)

Yeah, it's been a while since my last post... I phased out my "writing blog" (but not my writer's blog) figuring I really didn't need to have both.
I think my LJ, my oldest and much-loved blog will have to be next.  I just don't have the time, with the new magazine, etc., to keep up with Facebook, Twitter, and four or five blogs.  
But I may be back.  Who knows?
Since I phased out the writing blog, and my other's a bit too public to post something like this, here's a quote I read today from an NYT Magazine interview with Frederick Seidel.  What he said sort of summed up where I am now with that much-discussed matter of "finding one's voice" as a poet:

I asked Seidel if, looking back, he understood what was in the way of his getting back to poetry. Seidel didn’t hesitate:

“Cowardice.”

What was there to be afraid of?

“The expression of aspects of the self that you understand or, rather, that you fancy may not be attractively expressed or attractive once expressed.” He added: “Another way of talking about this is to talk about your becoming yourself: your finding who you are as a poet, finding what you sound like, finding your subjects that bring you out of you that are your subjects. It’s almost as if there’s a moment when you decide, Well, whatever the problem of writing this way, of writing these things, whatever the difficulty with presenting yourself this way . . . well, that’s it.

Snow Dogs...

(Well, Pomeranians are descended from
Norwegian elkhounds, so, somewhere in
their genome, they know their way around
snow...)










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Sunday...

... was the 12th anniversary of our first date, and thus our own personal (and less overbooked) Valentine's Day, and we spent it having an absolutely freaking delicious, (count them, including "compliments of the chef" interludes and palate-cleansing sorbets) seven-course meal, not to mention apertif, bottle of wine and complimentary champagne, at L'Auberge Chez Francois, which, as you can see, is a really cute little place, Alsatian-style inn near Great Falls, VA.  Merci encore, Kyber! (pronounced Key-BEAR, of course ;)







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40-second year in review

Well, not my year, in particular,
nor this year, in particular,
but this is pretty cool, see?

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I waited a day to rate this film on Facebook, so I wouldn't gush too much, but it's useless. Charlie Kaufman is an effing genius, and this one, his directorial debut, is also his best screenplay, IMO. And that's saying a lot, since two of his others are in my top five (I still haven't seen "Adaptation," shamefully, due to a slight aversion to Nicholas Cage, but I just bumped it up the Netflix queue.) This one I'm buying.
Like his others, it could probably bear dozens of viewings. The plot is typically recursive and labyrinthine, but the cerebral games seem more integrated and natural here, and this one just seems to delve even deeper into the heart of matters. No surprise there, since it's about death (or specifically, the sickness unto death, symbolized by the lead character's mysterious, progressive illness.)
A local reviewer said the "maudlin" plot could be summed up as "Life sucks, and then you die." First of all, I take issue with the term "maudlin." I dislike maudlin, and this isn't maudlin. I don't cry like a baby at self-indulgently morbid films. The characters here may be self-indulgent, but in the course of the film, they're stripped not only of their self-indulgence but their entire identities, not to mention every last illusion, and by the end are literally interchangeable -- not in the way a lot of film characters are interchangeable due to mediocre writing, but deliberately, and that's really the genius of this. You grow to love these flawed characters, and then you watch them disintegrate, in the way that all of us eventually will. It's not a bowl of cherries, but, like life, it's worth the trip.
I don't know how Charlie will top this one, but I'm looking forward to seeing him try. In fact, I'm counting on it.

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More Pumpkins...

... Smashing Pumpkins, that is, at Constitution Hall last night.

Yes, it's impossible to tell from these, but Billy Corgan was wearing a dress.

But it was a good show.  Contrary to a heckler's accusation at the end, they
(who's left of them -- the heckler also questioned the whereabouts of James Iha,
and Billy brought a random girl up on stage) but, yes, they can still rock it.

The oddest moment was hearing a song I hadn't listened to in over a decade -- 12 years,
13 years? -- but prior to that had played nonstop in my dorm room for a year -- and slowly
recognizing it as such... Really took me back for a sec...



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Treehouse & Glass Pumpkins

At Longwood Gardens on Saturday:




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I haven't been in the habit of writing about politics on this blog since I started my "current events"-themed blog, but it's pretty hard to avoid comment on the event that just transpired this week.  We have elected, by a clear majority, a Democratic president... and not just any Democratic president, but Senator Barack Obama, a young man, but a man who I predict will turn out to be one of the best American leaders of my lifetime (I was going to say "of this millennium," but that would have set the bar pretty low so far.)

I wanted to post that celebratory note on this blog partly in light of an entry I remember writing after the last presidential election in '04.  That November was kind of a low point for me in general.  I hated my job and was feeling generally aimless, and at some level I guess I blamed George Bush.  Now there's a lot one could have blamed George Bush for back then (even more so right now) but my job probably wasn't one of them.  Still, I took Kerry's unexpected loss personally, and was pretty bummed.  It seemed like we would be mired in Bush country indefinitely.  And although martial law was never declared (for a while there, we started to wonder), my fears weren't completely unfounded, because it did feel like forever.  The last four years have, for many people in this country, been a nightmare of extended tours in Iraq, deaths of loved ones over there, the loss of jobs and homes, and a bleak economic future.

I know that Barack Obama isn't our savior.  Neither was FDR or JFK (or Ronald Reagan, if you're of that persuasion.)  It wasn't so much what they themselves did, but what they inspired and brought out in the rest of us.  Sometimes hope is more than another four-letter word, and right now, it feels like more than just a flicker in the breeze.

Random Quote: Phillies Pitcher Brad Lidge

To a reporter, after winning the World Series:

"Forget all that other crap.  This is it." 

Go Phillies!

Ah, seeing the Phanatic frolic about on the field brings back fond memories of being physically pried off the poor mascot by his entourage when I was four or five, during one of his public appearances at a mall.  Well, I was four or five, and he was big, soft, and green!  Why does that sound dirty?  Get your mind out of the gutter.  The girl knows what she likes.

Horses and Maypoles (in October)

At a nearby state park, we exited the trail
in the wrong field and encountered some
horses who were quite friendly and even
tried to follow us back into the woods...






Autumn Maypole at the Renaissance Festival:




Wolf in Sheep's Clothing (puppy getting warm after his bath)





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