By Sharon Olds
Sometimes I can almost see, around our heads,
Like gnats around a streetlight in summer,
The children we could have,
The glimmer of them.
Sometimes I feel them waiting, dozing
In some antechamber - servants, half-
Listening for the bell.
Sometimes I see them lying like love letters
In the Dead Letter Office
And sometimes, like tonight, by some black
Second sight I can feel just one of them
Standing on the edge of a cliff by the sea
In the dark, stretching its arms out
Desperately to me.
The charm of snow days is definitely wearing off. My kids are actually getting a week-long mid-semester break...since they were sent home Tuesday afternoon, they have not been back at school, will be off again Friday, and since Monday is a holiday, they won't be back till next Tuesday (no word yet on when class Valentine's Day parties will be rescheduled or where stale candy should be stored). I therefore have very little to report that is not goofy news, like Jason Isaacs with a beard discussing Pinter, Lucius Malfoy as "unalloyed Nazi evil" and how he wants to be invited to a celebrity tennis tournament so he can play with Alan Rickman (*dies and wants pictures*), or my Star Trek stories for the day which consisted of J.J. Abrams almost certainly not directing Trek XI, unless he does, because he's going to make a Stephen King miniseries, or movie, depending on budget, if he directs that, and Patrick Stewart announcing that he is not an ingrate -- just a snob!
TV Thursday night included The Prisoner, since we got Star Trek out of the way Wednesday...there are many aspects I love about this show, specifically the paranoia and the contrast between the pretty Village and the totalitarian City Hall, but the sexual politics really irritate me...I realize that it is a product of its era, but it's not far off The Avengers which is vastly more enlightened. At least The Prisoner does have that excuse, though...Smallville has none! Once again we got endless Lana, not nearly enough Lex and absolutely no Lois or Lionel, waah! It was worth sitting through the episode only for the Chloe revelations...I would so love it if in this version of the comics universe she turned out to be Supergirl or something. (They better not kill her off as a gratuitous meteor freak like she's so afraid of or I will be irate!) The plot is reasonably engaging but so predictable...of course Tobias was working for someone who was working for Lex, of course Lex lied to Lana (and vowed truth on the soul of an unborn child that I am increasingly doubting is his, rather than an experiment).
You know what drives me most nuts about Lana? For all previous seasons they wrote her as an idiot, with everyone's abilities staring her in the face but her unable to see them. This season, however, she ISN'T blind. She's a lot less dense than Jimmy, in some ways; she's finally catching on about Clark, and every time Lex lies to her, she can smell the bullshit. But she keeps CHOOSING to believe Lex. It's not that Lex makes sense right now and Clark doesn't...she's on to Clark's secret, she wants to protect Clark's secret, and still she's planning to marry Lex and will let him get away with promising to love, protect and lock her away. She's so gutless! Whereas Chloe begs Clark to burn a hole in her skin to remove a tracking device, and even though she cries when she realizes she may belong to the Wall of Weird she has always researched, she is still strong and smart enough to tell Clark what's going on. Oh Lex, you bastard, watching that footage of her being tested! I'm so glad Ollie helped Tobias so he'll never be beholden to anyone at Luthercorp!
Shark was considerably more engaging...also somewhat predictable, but because it's topical. I suspect there may be gay protestors, same as just about every movie and TV episode where a gay person turns out to be a murderer (I see letters all the time about CSI episodes at CSI Files), but this episode isn't about any link between homosexuality and psychosis. It's about the social pathology of the closet, and more importantly the types of exchanges power-hungry men -- gay and straight -- make for prestige and admiration. In Bennett's case, since he's a more extreme model of a Ted Haggard figure, he lives a lie and kills to protect the image he has built. Whereas in Stark's case, he is closer to pathological...incapable of turning off the public persona that makes him a good lawyer when dealing with criminality on either side of the law long enough to deal with what's going on with his own family or lack thereof.
Julie, his daughter, who chose to live with him because otherwise she would have no relationship at all with her father, is in over her head growing up in so many ways, and Stark is actively not dealing with it...dismissing a boyfriend when he gets her in trouble without focusing on the reasons she cheated in school, hiring a bodyguard then firing the bodyguard when her crush on him becomes clear without talking to her about it...Stark deals well with Jessica and the women in his office because the relationships are defined by their jobs -- he can flirt and snap at people within that framework -- but he obviously has no skills for dealing with people beyond that. There's quite a bit of indictment of Stark in this episode where he's getting a far more conservative man, a judge, condemned. "Winning is first, revenge a close second"? What kind of a philosophy of life is that?
Stark is great with the one-liners -- Bennett says he better be prepared to kill the king, Stark says Elvis said that to the Beatles and ended up in Vegas in sequined jumpsuit -- but he doesn't address the conundrum at the heart of the episode, which is the question of how far beyond the canon of ethics one can go while still being able to claim to do it for the public good. The judge with the hidden life seems truly to believe that he did everything for the good of his constituents, from hiding his life to a ruthless belief in a system that punishes those who deserve it -- "those who deserve it" being those who did not cut deals with powerful judges, apparently -- but everyone in Stark's office warns him about ethical manipulations from the D.A. on down (and next week apparently it catches up with him).
No, Stark wouldn't murder someone just to protect his position, but he would have killed the serial killer with his bare hands and called that justice. He's surrounded by people not far off...Harris thought he was doing the ethical thing planting evidence to protect the judge from what he had believed to be a killing committed in fury over a wife's murder. Bennett thinks that being trapped in a lie for years should justify adultery and murder. Bennett also has the chutzpah to accuse Stark of homophobia when he's disgusted by this, but Stark has the chutzpah to be self-righteous...he comes home confident that his daughter will be there waiting, while she's getting arrested for drunk driving. ("You don't know me," the line from that Augustana song, "Boston," is playing in the background.)
A pile of degus...
...and another of acouchis.
A chevrotain, or mouse deer.
In the summer, the golden lion tamarins live outdoors in the trees, but in the winter they move into the Small Mammal House to keep warm.