The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Halloween

Shadow March
By Robert Louis Stevenson

All around the house is the jet-black night;
     It stares through the window-pane;
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,
     And it moves with the moving flame.

Now my little heart goes a beating like a drum,
     With the breath of the Bogies in my hair;
And all around the candle and the crooked shadows come,
     And go marching along up the stair.

The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,
     The shadow of the child that goes to bed--
All the wicked shadows coming tramp, tramp, tramp,
     With the black night overhead.


My terrifying activity for the day was cleaning everything out of the kids' bathroom. The stuff under the sink wasn't so bad, even though I discovered that we still had the nasal aspirator and rectal thermometer we'd bought when older son was an infant -- since the advent of the ear thermometer we've never gone looking for the latter, for which I am profoundly grateful -- and there were about nine bottles of shampoo that no one in the house remembered using, plus a miniature bottle of lotion that I bought to bring to I said, terrifying. Anyway, it's been thrown out, as have the toys that have been in the net in the tub for so long that I don't want to describe their condition. I did manage to save a miniature Marvin the Paranoid Android (and I don't want to know which of my kids brought him in the tub, nor why!)

Took younger son out to find a new mask and gloves because his penguin costume no longer fits, then drove him to Hebrew school, then wrote an article about Martian Child, in which the screenwriters made the protagonist, John Cusack's character straight -- now THIS pisses me off, considering that the character's homosexuality was critical to his sense of alienation in the novella, but I'm sure there are far fewer people who will get upset about this than about Harry Potter not being gay enough, and I'm sure legendary slash-hater David Gerrold can rationalize that maybe a contemptible female audience will appreciate the genius of his story if enough of them find John Cusack hot. (What, me, still irritated?) In the evening we carved our pumpkins:

Our targ did not wish to help us by eating the heart of our enemy...

...because she had spotted a moth outside the sliding glass doors and had to keep an eye on it!

So we had to scoop out the pumpkin seeds ourselves.

However, we managed to get all three jack-o-lanterns decorated and the seeds toasted (well, not the ones from the white pumpkin, which we discovered last year don't taste as good).

This is beeej's Halloween Barbie collection -- I have all of these dolls but they're still in boxes (here are some of them). I want to arrange mine like this!

A demon mermaid at the Halloween store.

And a lovely wall of artwork and decorations.

Please vote for Daisy in The 3rd Annual World's Coolest Dog & Cat Show!

After the kids finally went upstairs -- I can't say "to bed" since they proceeded to stall for nearly 45 minutes -- those of us over 14 watched Boston Legal, where Alan attempted to explain to Lorraine what happened to him at 14 that makes him so inept with her and Katie made me cry, and I was completely identifying with a woman I find horrifying and scary. But one at a the biggest case, a woman, Patrice Kelly (the fabulous Mare Winningham), comes to Alan to explain that her daughter was murdered, the killer was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity and she wants to kill him and get away with it for the exact same reason. Alan says he can't talk to her, as it would make him a conspirator. Fine, she says, I'm writing a novel, and lays out the same scenario: how would the protagonist pull it off? Alan says that on a positive note, she seems totally insane. He asks Denny whether he should report her to the police, but while he's still mulling, the woman shoots her daughter's killer in the head. She wants Alan to represent her.

Meanwhile, Katie and Jerry are called by Joseph Washington, who's in prison for driving to work. Since he's a registered sex offender, he's not allowed to drive on his restricted license to his job and he's been evicted from his home. Everyone from the arresting officer to the local priest have advised him to move away from nice white suburban Middletown. Jerry suggests challenging Megan's Law; Carl says that since they shouldn't be taking on any more pro bono work at all, they should be reasonable and try to talk to the woman who accused Joseph of rape when they were teenagers. So Katie goes to see the woman, who now works in a hospital and says she's tried to put those events behind her. Katie says gently that if the woman was raped, she's sure there's no way to put that behind her, ever, but if Joseph is telling the truth and the woman claimed it was rape only to avoid her father's threats, then she can really put it behind her by exonerating Joseph.

Alan's case first. In between sessions talking to Lorraine, doing exactly what Denny recommended and telling her his entire sexual history -- from the neighbor whom Lorraine resembles who pressured Alan into sex at age fourteen to his unaffectionate mother who used to turn him on measuring his inseam -- Alan takes orders from Patrice, who has already made provisions for her own bail money and who has very strong opinions on how the trial should be conducted, though Alan notes that she doesn't sound even remotely insane. Patrice insists that that's because God told her to kill her daughter's murderer. She asks him to waive reading of the charges and tells him to state the obvious: "He had it coming. I'd like you to be passionate about that." Though Alan is clearly rather horrified by her, he does as she asks and argues very convincingly that this is a grieving mother whose only daughter was brutally murdered, then watched the killer walk free on trumped-up insanity charges that didn't even send him to a hospital. The judge sets bail at a million dollars.

Afraid of looking like a rich white woman who bailed herself out, Patrice asks for a black attorney instead of Denny Crane whom she believes is the epitome of a gluttonous corporate image. Alan brings in Whitney, who thinks at first that Alan is hitting on her and tells him that he's too old and too fat, but puts Patrice in her place just as firmly when Patrice explains that she talked to the media at a Rod Stewart concert so that she would look empowered to the jury: Whitney snaps that empowerment's no defense for first degree murder and advises Patrice to keep talking to God, because they can make that work. Whitney isn't fazed by much -- when she walks in on Lorraine measuring Alan's inseam, giving Alan such a boner that he has to hold an office chair up in front of his crotch, she only shakes her head a bit. Maybe Crane, Poole and Schmidt is the right place for her after all.

Gwen Richards, the woman who accused Joseph Washington of rape and got him convicted, goes to court with Katie and Jerry and tearfully recants her testimony of years before, admitting that she lied to protect herself from her father. The outraged judge says he finds her disgusting, sending a man to prison for something he didn't do, leaving that conviction hanging over his head while he was being tried for murder. "I can't take back what I took from him," she weeps. "He did not rape me." The judge has her arrested and vacates the case against Joseph Washington, who is no longer a convicted sex offender, but the people in Middletown keep very politely telling him that he is not wanted there. Including the priest.

Jerry and Katie go out for a celebratory drink. In the middle of it, she gets a call: Joseph is dead. They go to ID the body, seeing that he was bludgeoned to death. Carl tries to distract them with a copyright case, sees that Katie is crying, and says, "Because of you, he died an innocent man. You gave him his name back and perhaps a little faith." But Katie still feels that Joseph died without a single person in the world giving a damn about him, and announces that she's doing to church. Which she does, with Jerry, in Middletown. She asks to speak in Joseph's memory, first saying that she'd heard Middletown was a kind town of tolerant people, asking where people from prison are expected to go, how they are expected to live, then apologizing for lecturing and asking them all to pray for him with her.

Before this devastating scene has quite faded, the camera cuts from the church balcony to Denny and Alan's balcony, where Denny advises Alan not to go with "God told me to shoot him" because that sounds more like the Devil and juries don't like Devils. Alan feels like the Devil anyway -- he doesn't believe his client is insane, this case is "as premeditated as can be" -- but Denny says the bastard DID have it coming and deep down even Alan knows it, even if Alan will never admit that in some cases he's for the death penalty: "The guy beat the girl to death! I'd have shot him in the balls first! An eye for an eye, boom, dead." Denny is convinced that not only Alan but God believes this.

Pondering the eye for an eye debate, Alan asks Denny if he heard that Joseph Washington was killed. "I used to think hope was something that belonged to everyone," Alan says. Denny says that hope springs a kernel, and when Alan tries to correct him, saying it's not an old farmer's saying but "hope springs eternal," he realizes that it didn't for Joseph Washington. Denny's still stuck on corn, which he feels the world has too much of, like suffering: "I think it is 'hope springs a kernel.'" Finally Alan agrees, "You may be right." They both smoke their cigars. I don't like Patrice at all, but I am totally identifying with her -- if someone killed someone close to me and walked out because his high-priced lawyers made a ridiculous claim work for a jury, the temptation to buy a gun and mete out justice would be pretty strong. Not the whole glorified vigilante thing like that Jodie Foster movie I won't see; just that one person. I'm rooting for Alan to make her plea work. This is one of my favorite Boston Legal episodes in a while and the new cast is growing on me.
Tags: cats

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