The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

The Wife of the Mind
By Charles Harper Webb

Sharecroppers' child, she was more schooled
In slaughtering pigs and coaxing corn out of
The ground than in the laws of Math, the rules
Of Grammar. Seventeen, she fell in love
With the senior quarterback, and nearly
Married him, but—the wedding just a week
Away—drove her trousseau back to Penney's,
Then drove on past sagging fences, flooding creeks,
And country bars to huge Washington State,
Where, feeling like a hick, she studied French to compensate.

She graduated middle-of-her-class,
Managed a Senior Center while she flailed
Away at an M.A., from the morass
Of which a poet/rock-singer from Yale
Plucked her. He loved her practicality;
She adored his brilliance. Sex was great.
They married in a civil ceremony.
He played around, for which she berated
Herself, telling friends things were "hunky-dory."
Resentment grew... oh, you said "life"? That's another story.


It's interesting that Boston Legal had a storyline about how overextending public school teachers has caused all but the worst to quit the profession, because much of my day was occupied with one of the dregs that's left. I don't mean my son's classroom teacher, who has been very receptive to his needs; I no longer know how else to evaluate "good" teaching because we had a horrible experience with one of the alleged "best" teachers at the elementary school when my older son had her, yet I can say definitively that his current classroom teacher seems to appreciate his skills and keep him challenged and to cover the curriculum, though she isn't the teacher other parents seem to be nominating for awards. The teacher who is making our lives miserable apparently has authority issues (the classroom teacher as much as said so) but he's stuck with her for science once a week till the end of the school year and I have done everything I can to make her see reason, which only seems to be making things worse. It's like, given the teaching-to-the-test and local requirements and oversized classes and all the rest, the profession these days attracts only people who want power over kids instead of people who love teaching them.

Besides dealing with that, I had a reasonable day. Wrote yet another stupid article about what may or may not happen in Star Trek XI if William Shatner does or does not appear. Went shopping for a leather AmeriBag healthy back bag only to convince myself that I didn't want to spend that much for a purse. And delivered my Doctor Who season two DVD set, so I very happily watched "School Reunion" and "The Girl in the Fireplace" (the original plan was to watch with commentary on but then I just got in the mood to enjoy them unimpeded, so I did). Was interrupted by dinner and younger son's return from Hebrew school, plus was folding laundry all the while, but ended up with the entire family watching with me -- Russell T. Davies has converted all of us, it seems.

Anyway, back to Boston Legal...I never don't adore it, but some weeks it seems like it's trying so hard to be topical that it seems to be straining, and this was one of those weeks. Between the Homeland Security storyline, the peanut allergy in the classroom, Clarence's dating woes and Denise's dancing around Alan, Brad and Jeffrey, I was sort of tired out by the end of it. The Denny storyline is by far the most fun, since it's Denny and Alan together and involves one of the more idiotic aspects of life post-9/11, but procedurally it felt wrong to me...if Denny's the one suing, how come Alan delivers the closing as if he were the defense attorney rather than the plaintiff? It starts with Denny marching up to Alan and announcing, "I can't fly," to which Alan replies, "You're just discovering this?" Denny explains that according to Homeland Security records, he's a terrorist, and plans to get even by blowing up the people responsible or sleeping with their wives or daughters. Alan suggests instead doing what red-blooded Americans do at such a time: "We sue!"

Unfortunately Denny can't get Tom DeLay on the phone to speak in his behalf, so when Homeland Security shows up at the office for initial discussions, Paul is somewhat nervous about why. Turns out there's a Dennis Crane who has ties to Al Qaeda, so now anyone named Dennis Crane can't fly unless he gets on the federal anti-no-fly list, which can take weeks of waiting for approval. Not even Alan's pointing out that Denny is a red-blooded, pro-life, pro-death penalty Republican helps. "This is the price we pay to live in a free democratic society," says Homeland Security. So they go to court, where they get a sympathetic judge whom Denny likes from the moment she asks the government to get the first witness ass up there. Alan fills the courtroom with other people named Denny Crane who also can't fly -- and this is just in the Boston area, since they had to drive there -- to prove that the system isn't working, as it didn't pinpoint the people arrested in London last summer but is holding all these law-abiding citizens on the ground. He wants to know why he can fit thousands of songs on his personal iPod but the government can't straighten out its computer systems -- how come no geniuses like Steve Jobs work for Homeland Security, how come Haliburton made 10 billion so far from the war in Iraq, how dare the government say they can't fix this problem when it's clearly a matter of priorities.

Some of this closing makes more sense than the rest, but the judge finds for Denny, who is about to get on a plane to meet Bella in Hawaii when Bethany shows up asking for another chance. When Denny admits that he's off to have a fling with her mother, she tackles him furiously. Meanwhile Alan, who has been sniffing Denise for days, claiming he can smell sex on her, first with Brad, then with Jeffrey, propositions her and is surprised to find her receptive, not knowing that Denise has been told by Sally that Alan fears women who just want mindless predatory sex. As it happens, Sally was wrong in Denise's case, and she stumbles out of Alan's office dazed and disheveled after he refuses to be scared off. So now Alan knows about Denise and both Brad and Jeffrey, when she told them both it would be over if anyone finds out, and it looks like they're about to find out about each other...heh. Next week looks quite promising.

Shirley is trying a case with new associate Vanessa -- a teacher, Helen, who had a student die of a peanut allergy in her classroom from another student's illicit candy bar while she was on her cell phone trying to learn whether her father had survived surgery (which he did not). The wealthy parents aren't suing for money so much as to make an example of her negligence. The mother testifies that she met with the teacher, who knew the risks, and she trusted her to be vigilant. The teacher was trained in CPR and the use of an epi-pen and it took her maybe 20 seconds to notice the child in trouble. Shirley points out that with so many special needs students in schools, there are still not more school nurses, just teachers handed extra responsibilities so that they can't even be with their parents during major surgery. The jury finds for the teacher, unsurprisingly since it's not a very well-argued case against her; if the idea is to send a message about teacher negligence, they should have had statistics about how many children with allergies have actually died in classrooms and how most schools are equipped to deal with such allergies. Naturally the teacher announces that she's leaving the profession at the end, which felt to me a little like hitting us over the head.

The most fun stuff in the episode revolves around Clarence, who has come to work this time as "Oprah" and promised all the other lawyers' assistants cars. (Denny greets and gropes her.) When Claire demands a removal of the wig and to know what happened on the date with Sandy, "Oprah" turns the tables, asking why Claire dresses like she's so very uptight: "Have you been sexually assaulted?" Claire rolls her eyes and points out that on the real Oprah show, this is when they would cut to a commercial, and sure enough, Boston Legal does. When we get back to Claire, she explains that she was never assaulted but has been groped, and they are working in an office that's a spectacular boys' club where Alan is in Guinness Book of World Lechers and Denny will mount you if you turn your back. "Oprah" asks whether this is why a "balls-out kind of girl" like Claire dresses so conservatively, telling her she should be able to be soft or sexy if she wants. They make a deal: Claire will wear a low-cut red dress to the office, Clarence will show up as Clarence. When he does, he explains that Sandy didn't like him in a romantic sense and Claire assures him that there will be women who do. He's clearly hoping she's one of them.

Denny suggests that Alan come to Hawaii with him, but Alan doesn't want Bella's sloppy seconds and besides, he bets that now HE's on the no-fly list. Denny says he's grateful to Alan for defending him, but he thinks deep down that Americans need to sacrifice more for their country, since it doesn't do any good to sit back and criticize. Alan disagrees, reiterating his oft-stated opinion that the most patriotic thing you can do sometimes is to criticize -- liberty in this country was founded on that ideal, and he truly loves America. "How did dissent become some form of heresy?" Denny asks how Alan would fix things, which ends up including getting rid of stores that end in "-Mart" and stopping intolerance from being categorized as a family value, plus hiring geniuses rather than people with rich friends to do important jobs. Denny, however, would not change a thing because "this country works," despite flaws like making war under false pretenses. "Thats why I'm completely nuts about it." Alan toasts Denny Crane, who adds once again, "Completely nuts."

The ever-popular Nemo-and-Marlin clownfish among the anemones!

The gorgeous mandarin fish, one of my favorites in the anemone tank.

A little ray among the coral.

The Atlantic undersea wreck tank, complete with fish, coral and rusting ship parts.

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