Driven by a Strange Desire
By Mónica de la Torre
I. Before Breakfast
When the sun turns gray and I become tired
of looking at your many-colored shoes
I will give you balloons for all the holes
we speak too much to fill. Who believes
in air, nowadays? Or do you prefer tea
with the dried fruit I will have to throw out
the window of your room? Because I want
this to stop I want this to stop I want this
II. Towards Moorish Spain
To kill the dragons is a different thing
in my family there are only lizards.
In Sevilla -- never famous for its lamps --
a dissected crocodile hangs from a roof.
The reptile, the Crown’s Byzantine gift. Its teeth
suspended in the air of the cathedral.
I stole a pair of shoes; but didn't run far
from the orchard where water had women's scent.
Thirst is not fear, thirst is not green, but has wings
like dragons, or airplanes. As oranges
in Sevilla, driven by a strange desire
to stay where they are. Floating. Suspended.
III. Towards Virgo
The Milky Way is not only expanding;
the Bang is not only a Bang. It is drifting
and being pulled away from, let’s say, something.
Because dark matter is ninety nine of what
there is and visible matter is so small
it clusters together and forms a Great Wall.
China and Spain and my eyes reading the paper.
We are still together, are we not, wondering if.
I had a really quiet Tuesday. Reorganized a section of one of my web pages that had desperately needed it for a year. Wrote three articles (latest on Stewart saying he's not doing more Trek if asked after saying he'd do more Trek if asked, latest on Scotty memorials in Aberdeen and latest on Stargate movie possibilities). Read spoilers for the Veronica Mars season finale and realized I had not watched enough of this season to have any idea/opinion whether the revelations made sense or not. Younger son's school was doing a fundraiser with the local Baja Fresh, so on ride home from Hebrew school we picked up tacos and quesadillas but concluded that for the money we like California Tortilla better. I folded four loads of laundry while watching Much Ado About Nothing (the Branagh-Thompson version) on cable, younger son paid more attention than older son but mostly because it was Gilderoy Lockhart and Sibyll Trelawney plus the guy from The Matrix (in one of the worst performances ever, though admittedly it's a thankless character). I had forgotten that Phyllida Law, Emma's mother, played Ursula, so having just watched The Winter Guest, it was very nice to see her.
Am snorting about greedy West Wing actors ruining a retrospective for all of us...I respect that they think NBC should pay them for a fair day's work and did not always, but let's be real, this was not being done as a big moneymaker for the network, it was being done for the fans. Imagine if Trek actors had acted like this back in the day when no one had real money to use to try to get them to keep the franchise alive! This is as petty as any of Shatner's more egotistical tantrum-throwing routines. I thought Allison Janney was bigger than this. Also, legal BitTorrent movies that can't be burned to DVD...what is the point? I haven't been watching illegal Doctor Who BitTorrents because I can't stand watching for an hour on my computer screen...no way am I going to pay for a two-hour movie I can't watch on my television!
Boston Legal had very little crack tonight...well, okay, arguably it had enormous crack in some of the things Denny Crane said in the courtroom during his Global Gag Rule case, but there was no really comic storyline unless the guy suing the online dating site that lets people find out who they don't want to go out with counts. There's a distinct misogynistic edge to Alan's taunting of new bitchy lawyer Marlene (even though Marlene is hardly making a case for sisterly feeling when she starts sabotaging Denise's cases) that repels me from Alan in a way it might not have so much from Denny, because I'll excuse Denny as a dirty and sometimes senile old man, but it's just plain repugnant from Alan who can plead neither intimidation nor direct competition.
Much as I liked listening to Denny's stepson Donny make the anti-Global Gag Rule arguments, it was a tough case and Alan made a tough argument in the closing. From a legal standpoint, it's interesting that the woman who lost her newborn sued the US government for withdrawing its aid, rather than the clinic in her own country for having failed to provide proper care...I am in no way supporting either the gag rule itself or the logic by which it was applied here, based on a misreading of a poster, but to sue the United States government for failing to support a clinic in a foreign country really does open up questions like whether someone in Haiti can sue the US because the US government reallocated funds it would otherwise have sent to help hurricane victims in the Caribbean to help hurricane victims here. It's the idea that because support was given at one point, there is an obligation to provide the same level of aid at all times, in this isolated situation where we don't hear whether or what Nepal is doing to help women like the one in this case in need of medical treatment...is the US demanding as a condition for aid that the clinics provide pregnant women with prenatal counseling and nourishment, for instance? There's no discussion of who is accountable for how the dollars are used so long as they're not used to discuss abortion. Because of time constraints, it's all posed in very black-and-white terms, when the legal issues are surely a much bigger mess and even Denny can't remember the terms he means.
I like that they did this case on this show anyway, to present the arguments about the funding issues related to the gag rule and the fact that shutting down clinics causes more abortions rather than less because people have no access to family planning. It's probably to Kelley's advantage that he gets in all the anti-Bush administration digs as an aside, when ultimately, as Alan says, the case is not about abortion rights but aid and restitution dollars, and is decided on those grounds. (It's so typical that someone from the Bush Administration would take "women have a right to protect their bodies" as a pro-abortion statement rather than the sort of simple, absolute logic they accept as canon when the issue is men and their right to protect themselves by owning guns.) But the scenario seems contrived from the setup. The state of gynecological and obstetric medicine in much of the world and some parts of the US is appalling, and the truth of the matter is that funds for poor women are getting slashed apart from birth control and abortion politics; women's health in terms of everything from prescription coverage to preventive mammography to prenatal care has been kicked aside in general by this administration. I'd love to know if people here in the US can sue the government if family members get breast cancer that could have been prevented if the government made screenings available, or if women can sue if they miscarry or have infants with birth defects because they couldn't afford proper prenatal care and it wasn't provided under any federal health care system because all our money went to Iraq.
Donny vs. Denny certainly had its moments on the personal level ("I never stopped being your fake father, son"), and I think Denny's right that Alan is jealous of his stepson -- Alan wouldn't have stooped so low as, "You don't have a son," otherwise. Denny marches around in different red, white & blue ties and blusters a lot, but ultimately realizes that even with Team USA on his side, he needs Alan to close the deal -- "friend helping friend." And Alan does it, though we don't ever really get to hear what he thinks about the ideological issues in the case...whether he believes in his closing or just believes it'll win the case and allow Denny to keep his unbroken streak. (Donny's closing is pretty terrible, saying the case is not about freedom of speech or health care but about hypocrisy...if we could sue the US government for hypocrisy, every one of us could be rich!)
So, on The Squid storyline...well, this also feels contrived and in an even worse way than the other, since there's substance behind the debate there. Melissa identifies The Squid as the only animal that can kill a shark and doesn't want Marlene to get "her Alan," though clearly "her Alan" feels like meddling with Marlene for reasons that are not clear (it's definitely not attraction -- he knows what a selfish, vicious bitch she is almost from the get-go). Shirley, too, knows that a squid is the only thing that can kill a shark, but when Denise calls Marlene manipulative, Shirley points out that Denise is as well, trying to manipulate her friendship to do something about Marlene. She says Denise has a bright future at the firm "but let me put this as gently as I can: Toughen up." When someone is sabotaging a settlement and butting into other people's cases? How is this risk-taking good for the firm as a whole, just so Marlene can get a few thousand dollars more here or there in a settlement? It all seems stupid, and Shirley isn't stupid.
We end with Alan announcing that he resents that people have to take sides, be a red state or blue state. Which is close to real life when it's about a bitch at a law firm, but what seems to get lost in all this is that when it comes to something like a woman's right to choose, what is all fun theory to debate for Alan is a matter of life and death for women. It's all very well to play "I'm okay, you're okay" when the body in question is not your own and Alan's pity for the woman here seems as contrived as the rest, sympathy not empathy as Denny said to him once. It's just really not a satisfying episode in any way, despite some funny lines here and there. (I am babbling incoherently so I will stop, and I reserve the right to attempt to say all this more clearly when I am more awake.)
Oh, and in the evening we saw our first tent caterpillar of the season. This is a cause for great joy for my kids and great woe for the gardeners in our neighborhood. Fortunately our yard is such a disaster that nothing can scare us.
Blue jay at the National Zoo on Saturday.