Now That No One Looking
By Adam Kirsch
Now that no one looking at the night --
Sky blanked by leakage from electric lamps
And headlights prowling through the parking lot
Could recognize the Babylonian dance
That once held every gazer; now that spoons
And scales, and swordsmen battling with beasts
Have decomposed into a few stars strewn
Illegibly across an empty space,
Maybe the old unfalsifiable
Predictions and extrapolated spheres
No longer need to be an obstacle
To hearing what it is the stars declare:
That there are things created of a size
We can't and weren't meant to understand,
As fish know nothing of the sun that writes
Its bright glyphs on the black waves overhead.
I had a dentist appointment at noon -- semiannual checkup and cleaning -- which would have been fine except that they started with me more than twenty minutes late, and while the hygienist had me in the chair with a sharp object poking into my mouth, she started to go on about how she used to be an Obama supporter but this morning on the radio she heard that the current financial crisis is Bill Clinton's fault for allowing banks to invest in the stock market, so now she thinks Obama and McCain are just the same. Since I couldn't talk, I seriously thought about biting her.
Fortunately I had lunch plans with gblvr, who was also running late, so I stopped to get California Tortilla and we spent the afternoon watching late first season Torchwood, when the show did several very good episodes in a row. really started to get good. We also compared notes on Etsy shopping and she brought me a pair of autumn Green Man earrings, which seemed perfectly appropriate for the equinox. As did going to the Maryland Renaissance Festival last weekend:
In this style of jousting, points are scored for striking the breastplate of an opponent like this one. (sparowe will have to leave a comment with the technical details!)
Here is the best pic of her brother I could get while shooting into the sun on the Nikon point-and-shoot!
Henry the Vee and his men arrive at Calais -- which in this production is pronounced "Sa-lay-is" -- and have to stop to spit, as they do each time they hear the word "France."
Slash of Hack & Slash is practicing balancing on a ladder that's not leaning against anything for minutes at a time. He heard it was like balancing on stilts with your pants around your ankles, so here he is with his on display.
The Bee Folks, who sell honey and honeycomb products from candles to skin care, also have a working hive at the faire.
The Rogues perform on the Fortune Stage, because what's a Renaissance festival without Celtic music?
Where you end up if you don't behave in Revel Grove.
I don't love Heroes nearly enough to devote three hours of a TV premiere week to it, though we'll probably catch it when NBC reruns it over the weekend. Instead we watched The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I still think is a flawed show but has occasional delights like a hugely pregnant Busy Phillips with her belly uncovered and John Connor announcing that no child should have to grow up watching network television -- way to understand your own ickiness, FOX! But the collateral damage, while predictable, was upsetting, and Shirley Manson is painful to watch. Fortunately, after a break from TV while Adam practiced the violin, we got the Boston Legal season premiere.
The episode starts in classic BL style with "Over There" playing as Denny and Alan, in Coast Guard uniforms, approach a boat with about 100 women aboard in bikinis. "I'm the captain!" Denny reminds Alan crossly, but Alan takes charge, asking whether the women have a permit to assemble at sea and saying he'll need to inspect their flotation devices. In the time it takes him to say all this, Denny has already stripped to his underwear and gotten into a hot tub with lots of women and a cigar. "Semper Paratus -- Always Prepared," he reminds Alan, quoting the Coast Guard motto. Bwahahahaha!
Back at Crane, Poole & Schmidt, Bethany visits Alan, asking him to join her case by a family against Curtis Tobacco, whose lawyers dragged on discovery for so long that the doctor testifying for Bethany dropped dead after 13 depositions. Shirley says no one successfully sues a tobacco company and Carl forbids Alan to take the case...then assigns Katie and Jerry to help him, while Alan brings Denny on as well. But Alan is alarmed to find that the opposing counsel is ex-girlfriend Phoebe, who is vicious to the daughter of the man dead of lung cancer and who mocks Alan's inability to control his own emotions.
Denny is miserable because, in his words, nothing is up...his junk doesn't work, having failed him in the hot tub, and Shirley won't dress up as a cheerleader to try to cure him. When his phone rings in court, the ring tone is a woman having an orgasm. Phoebe is unsurprised by this and also unsurprised to find Alan flirting with Katie; when he tells her that she's changed, becoming cynical enough to represent big tobacco, she says he's changed even more, having lost his passion. In court, Jerry follows up emotional testimony by the dead man's daughter about her father's addiction and painful death, citing the death rates for smokers, the advertising targeted at teens and the horror of the profiteering at the expense of lives.
I love seeing Jerry so sharp, but he mostly has the chance to shine because Alan is distracted by Phoebe and by Denny's orgiastic ring tone. The two partners shout over each other, with Denny saying he's just trying to get an erection while Alan snaps that maybe it's the Mad Cow. Denny is horrified: "My penis has Alzheimer's!" And, horrified as well, Alan admits that he once suffered from erectile dysfunction too, with Phoebe, with whom he was in love but he couldn't handle it so he left her. Now Phoebe has become the kind of lawyer she once loathed, and Alan is left daydreaming about her -- hilariously, to Barry Manilow's "Trying To Get the Feeling Again," in a ballroom dance sequence in which Denny courts his Shirley doll while Alan spins across the courtroom with Phoebe a la lead-in series Dancing With the Stars.
In her closing, Phoebe insists that there's no real proof that tobacco killed the plaintiff's father, but Alan dissects the defense's case by talking about the tactics tobacco companies use to avoid culpability even as they increase advertising and additives to make cigarettes more addictive. Even Phoebe is moved; she tries to settle, but Bethany turns her down just as firmly as she turns down Denny's propositions. The plaintiff is awarded $600,000 in damages plus punitive damages of $213 million, which Phoebe says the defense will appeal, though she tells Alan privately that she doesn't do appellate work so someone else will take over the case. They say goodbye, and Alan and Denny -- having won such an enormous sum from the evil tobacco company -- retreat to the rooftop to smoke their cigars.
Alan admits that he misses cigarette breaks, when people from offices used to share their lives, and observes sadly that if he and Denny didn't both like smelly cancer sticks, they might never have gotten to know one another. He thanks Denny for being in his life and says, "I don't know what I'd do without you," but Denny is still fixated on his penis having Alzheimer's until he opens a gift from Shirley: it's the cheerleader outfit! Alan asks to see it, and, upon discovering that it's two pieces, says, "You take top, I'll take bottom!" Denny isn't sure he wants to share, but when Alan calls him selfish and cruel, he turns over the bottom, warning Alan not to ruin it. Alan dances with the skirt as Denny dances with the sweater.
And thus begins the final season of my very favorite crack on television. It looks like Clarence/Clarice and Lorraine are gone, and there's a new judge, which might mean the fantastic supporting cast of recurring judges may not be returning, which would be a bigger loss. But Alan and Denny, plus Shirley, plus Carl, are all present, and I'm really hoping David Kelley sneaks Brad and Denise and Tara and some of the others back in before the series is gone forever. Sigh.