By Campbell McGrath
Beauty of this world --
walked six miles along the beach,
Beauty of this world,
starlight on the salt meadow --
ah, the moon is full!
Beauty of this world
and the foghorn bemoaning
Another from Robert Pinsky's Poet's Choice column in Sunday's Washington Post Book World: "One kind of notebook entry McGrath makes is the haiku, and here, too, there is some self-directed kidding," Pinsky writes of McGrath's new Seven Notebooks.
I had a really fun Sunday planned. I was going to go with dementordelta to see treewishes, rubyrosered and gnomad and have lunch and talk fannish stuff. Then I was going to go to my oldest friend's annual Super Bowl party, complete with huge potluck mostly provided by her and dozens of desserts. Instead I spent Sunday mostly lying on my couch feeling horrible. When I felt well enough to get up, I carried laundry down two flights of stairs. It was not exactly the Super Bowl Sunday I had in mind.
It wasn't all a loss: on klia's recommendation, I watched The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which makes a really interesting counterpoint to Michael Collins and is a terrific movie in its own right. (It's on Starz On Demand for anyone who gets Starz on Comcast.) Someone had mentioned that she met an Irishman who felt that Michael Collins was a very Hollywood version of Irish history, which made me raise my eyebrows at the time because I don't think of Neil Jordan as a very Hollywood director at all; The Crying Game was probably his biggest hit and that has indie film written all over it, right down to sympathy for IRA terrorists whom at the time that was made were as stereotypical a villain in Hollywood as the Middle Eastern terrorists who supplanted them.
But watching The Wind That Shakes the Barley right afterward, which is a small family story rather than the big names of the Irish Civil War, it's a different feeling. It interested me how much The Wind That Shakes the Barley reminded me of American Civil War films -- themes of brother vs. brother, differences of uniform vs. differences of ideology -- and the imagery, despite the Irish setting, made me think more of films about the American Revolution than most films I've seen about Irish Republicanism which for so long ended up synonymous in film with the extremists of the IRA like Sean Bean's character in Patriot Games. (I need to rewatch Troubles, which I saw as much for Sean Bean as the storyline, which is also about Irish Nationalists around 1920.)
I think in part my preference for The Wind That Shakes the Barley reflects my bias for family drama over pseudo-biopic, but it was interesting to me that my son, who felt that the Republicans seemed despicable in Michael Collins, thought the British came off intolerably in Wind and the Treaty supporters only marginally better. In Michael Collins, the freedom fighters are made to look like, well, terrorists as I grew up conditioned to expect them to look; since my kids grew up after the 1990s peace agreements, they missed the decades of movies about renegade IRA but my son reacted just as negatively to the characterization of the Irish Republicans (were they calling themselves the IRA yet?) as he did to the murderers in Munich. Is it learning history or Hollywood shaping that reaction? I'm still unconvinced that Neil Jordan really counts as Hollywood -- I suppose he must compared to Ken Loach, but I think of him as an indie filmmaker who has occasionally accepted a studio project for the cash to do something like The Miracle.
Here, have a hibiscus from last spring.
Superbowl report: I was sort of secretly rooting for the Giants a bit, on the theory that they had nothing to lose and should have been able to go all-out; if they had lost 63-3, it would just have been a footnote in the Patriots' perfect season after they had a great Wild Card run. But it was kind of a messy long game and after a while I just wanted to see some kick-ass offense from either team instead of penalties and turnovers. The fourth quarter made up for everything: during those last 35 seconds I didn't even care who won, I figured that if Brady could bring the Patriots back at that point then he deserved the undefeated season, and if the Giants hung on then maybe it was karmic justice for the cheating scandal at the start of the season. What a great endgame -- best I ever remember in a Superbowl. I just kind of love seeing a wild card team (who are not the Raiders vs. the Redskins) step up like that.
Commercials: we loved the carrier pigeon delivery ad (giant birds always go over well here), the squirrel escaping from certain death courtesy Bridgestone Tires, and particularly the Sarah Connor Chronicles Terminator killing the Fox NFL robot. *g* On the down side, it was the year of the Bad Indian Stereotype in commercials, and how charming to know that cashews will make even ugly women with bad makeup attractive. I did read an article I liked in this morning's New York Times on athletes who've achieved perfection in their respective fields -- Nadia Comaneci, Bill Russell -- and I found out that speed skater Eric Heiden went to medical school after his Olympic run and became a surgeon. That's awesome.