By Brooks Haxton
Son of a Maori priestess and a Tasmanian pirate,
Brooks Haxton at two was thrown as a human sacrifice
from the gunwale of a careening brig into a typhoon.
Becalmed for forty days, the ship, with all his kin
on board, burst into sudden flame when struck
by an exploding meteorite. The poet, raised
by porpoises and marsupial wolves, grew to serve
as a young man at Gallipoli, where in a detachment
taking ninety-nine percent casualties he discovered the sestina
with its repeated end-words was especially suited
to his small vocabulary. For his Sestinas Under Fire
Haxton was awarded the Prix de Rome, the Croix de Guerre,
and Nobel Prizes in Literature, Physics, Medicine,
and several of the lesser categories. After brief stints
dancing for Diaghilev in Paris and acting under Stanislavski
in Moscow, he was sought out as a blues musician
by Charley Patton. Sick with fame and riches, he chose
anonymity as author of many of the great blues lyrics.
He was last seen over the Yazoo River east of Itta Bena,
borne in a silken hammock aloft by thousands
of ivory-billed woodpeckers. His poems now surface
through the mail with indecipherable postmarks,
in their folds fresh moultings of young ivory bills,
saffron dust, and legs of golden grasshoppers and bees.
I have nothing of interest to report from my morning -- worked on holiday card stuff, looked up a whole bunch of hacks for T-Mobile phones of which I ended up using only a couple, cleaned up after a cat with a very upset stomach -- I suspect she got into her friend's food -- read my camera manual. Nothing to put on the calendar.
We watched our usual Monday night lineup, most of which will be gone in a matter of weeks but only one show that I actually care about. Sarah Connor is irritating me. Lots of potentially interesting female characters but they can't seem to decide what to do with any of them, and lots of suggestions that the Wrong Kind of female influence could turn John from the man we all know he's supposed to be into the Wrong Kind of leader, though whether that's the fault of his mother, his girlfriend or one of the psycho time travelers, they haven't decided yet. Plus Ellison is still on about how Jesus saves -- "You want to start with commands, start with the first ten," he says of attempts to teach the mechanical John Henry morality, after discussing the Bible with one of his fellow duped Terminator-builders, because of course Christianity is the only moral system worth discussing, and historically has done so well avoiding wars and persecution.
Then there's Heroes...I was talking to an old friend yesterday, a professional science fiction writer, and was glad to hear him say that he could no longer keep track of who could take away powers or absorb other people's powers or how, because I'm more and more confused. I get that Mohinder has altered himself so much that his first thoughts are always selfish -- if Claire dies, he whines, there will be no hope for curing him, and this is the guy who once wanted the betterment of the human race and to save Molly at the cost of his own life if necessary. Mohinder should be the catalyst, it would make so much more sense in terms of what we know about his father's involvement and the attempts to save his sister, but it has to be all about a blonde, doesn't it? Though all the blondes end up working for Pa Petrelli in the end, aren't they? So even delightful surprises like Seth Green working in a comic store doesn't really redeem an episode for me. I howled when Hiro said, "The corn will keep on coming!" That could be the slogan of this episode, and this season!
As for Boston Legal...it made me cry. In a good way. Though I suspect the finale will be really, really hard to watch. At the start of the Thanksgiving episode, Edwin Poole's foster son tries to hold Shirley up at knifepoint, leading to a confrontation at Crane, Poole & Schmidt in which Schmidt tells Poole that the firm is bankrupt. Meanwhile Crane is telling Shore that he's having Thanksgiving with a friend whom Alan wouldn't like: "Technically, it would be Melvin Palmer." Alan doesn't think this is a hoot at all, but Denny says that he has no place else to go. Carl tries to comfort Shirley, telling her that they may not be canceled yet. When Edwin invites Shirley to his house for Thanksgiving, only to learn that she's hosting "a little thing at my house," he invites himself and his son...after which Shirley invites Katie, whose flight to London is a no-go, and Katie invites Jerry, and Alan and Denny invite themselves, and Denny invites Melvin.
The feast does not begin well. Alan offers to say grace, only to have Denny object because Alan doesn't believe in a Christian God and Denny won't have him praying to a Muslim God, which leads to an argument in which Edwin calls Denny a Jew-hater and Shirley has to beg everyone to stop fighting. Then Denny asks Edwin what little black kids like to eat, which sets Alan off about the racism not only at the table but in the firm, and when Alan cuts off Shirley's note of hope about Obama by citing the lack of black Senators, Shirley orders him to leave the house. The boy announces that he was thinking of taking a dump and asks where the bathroom is. "I love the holidays, that's what I love!" announces Melvin, though a moment later when Jerry makes a popping noise and Melvin threatens him, Shirley leaves the table, followed by Carl who consoles her in the kitchen and kisses her just as Denny walks in.
The afternoon gets worse. Edwin asks Jerry if he sucked face with Shirley, Melvin mocks him, Jerry shoves him, Alan tells Jerry that such behavior is not acceptable, Jerry admits privately to Alan that he thought he'd feel better about everything when he made partner but even Katie treats him like a chia pet. Overhearing, Katie says she feels belittled, to which Jerry retorts that he'll throw up if he gets one more maternal lecture from her. Meanwhile, in another room, Denny accuses Shirley of humiliating him on his birthday, which simply irritates Shirley -- Denny's birthday is in January -- until she realizes that Denny seriously doesn't know what day it is. Denny admits to Shirley and Alan that he's been getting confused, particularly when he gets upset. In the parlor, Edwin and Melvin are singing off-key at the piano.
Jerry sees Katie sitting outside and goes out to apologize, saying he never meant to trivialize their relationship or her feelings but he can't be objective because he's in love with her -- she's "the most incredible, generous, charitable, beautiful woman I have ever met." Katie can't decide how to respond to this and suggests couples therapy, which Jerry thinks is silly since they're not a couple, but Katie says they are, albeit a complicated one. They go inside for another attempt at dinner, where Denny asks Edwin why child services allowed him to take in a child when Edwin is mentally unbalanced? When Shirley requests that they change the subject, Edwin suggests bankruptcy, and amidst the ensuing shouts, as Carl is forced to admit to Denny and Alan that the firm is broke, Shirley confesses that she wanted a big, noisy dinner to distract her from thinking about the fact that this is her first Thanksgiving without her father, and it's hard to face the quiet. She goes off to be alone.
Two things have made Denny unhappy at that moment: that he wasn't told of the firm's financial troubles even though his name is on the door, and that Carl and Shirley are dating again. He asks Carl how serious they are, and when Alan says they all want to know, Carl shows them the engagement ring he bought and intended to present to Shirley during their intimate Thanksgiving dinner for two. Alan tells Carl that he should still propose -- "You obviously love her, you must feel confident that Shirley loves you" -- though it puts a damper on Alan's own conjugal prospects with Shirley, not to mention Denny's. When Shirley comes in and wants to know why everyone is standing around talking instead of eating, Denny says, "I'll do it," picks up the ring and says, "Will you marry Carl? He loves you. He wants to spend the rest of his life with you." Denny even offers to give her away. Once she understands that this isn't a bizarre prank, when Carl explains that he has never loved a woman the way he loves Shirley, she accepts the ring and pushes Denny aside to kiss Carl, saying she would love to marry him. Everyone applauds.
Though Shirley declares the day saved, insults still fly over dessert until Alan explains (in a speech that Denny compares to a closing) that he grew up in an estranged, unhappy family, and during the Thanksgivings he spent alone in his room, he imagined big noisy family dinners like this one. "Look what we've covered today: race, politics, God, marriage, love, death. What fun." He thanks Shirley for having them: "This is some family." They raise their glasses and Jerry suggests that everyone put something in his or her mouth so they can't talk any more. Yet they do make small talk, as "Our Love Is Here To Stay" plays nondiegetically.
On the balcony, Alan asks Denny if he's okay with Shirley marrying Carl and jokes that Shirley could be the love he never knew. "I'll tell it to you," promises Denny, "unless I forget it." He admits to being terrified of dying the way Shirley's father did, mindless in a hospital. "You won't, because I'll shoot you," says Alan. "I already bought the gun." Denny is touched, but Alan isn't really expecting to have to use it: "You have defied the odds your entire life, you'll continue to defy the odds," he assures Denny, saying that when everyone else is dead and buried, "you'll still be out there doing Priceline commercials." Denny wonders about the afterlife -- whether they'll get a bigger balcony, whether they'll be naked, and whether they'll be as they were in youth or as they were when they died -- to which Alan says that Denny will be as he was in the best of times here on Earth. Like right now, they agree, and each raises his glass to God: "Thanks." Oh man, I'm going to miss this show.