The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Saturday


Homeland
By Adonis
Translated by Michael Beard and Adnan Haydar


To faces shrunk under a mask of sadness
I bow down. To the paths where I forgot my tears,
for a father who died green, like a cloud,
a sail still unfurled in his face,
I bow down. To a child who has been sold
so he might pray and shine shoes.
(All of us in my country, we pray. All of us shine shoes.)

And to rocks where my hunger engraved a message:
This rock is really rain rolling under my eyelids, it's lightning.
And I bow down to a house whose soil I carried with me
when I was lost. These all are my homeland. Not Damascus.

--------

We got up late and ate leftovers for brunch -- more Swedish meatballs, chicken, latkes, lingonberries, cheese, desserts, etc. Then we went to Gettysburg National Battlefield, to the new visitor center, where we had visited the museum when it first opened but hadn't seen any of the multimedia additions. We went to the movie A New Birth of Freedom, which is about the causes of the Civil War and the events leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg narrated by Morgan Freeman, then upstairs to the Cyclorama -- a massive painting of Pickett's Charge that makes a circle around the large gallery, with miniature cannons and trees in the foreground and a light and sound display to recreate the battle. After that, we took the kids to climb on the rocks at Devil's Den before we drove home for dinner with my parents.


The Gettysburg battlefield memorial for the 14th New York Irish Brigade, many of whom died at the Bloody Angle. I love the Celtic decorations but it's the mournful dog that makes this my favorite of the monuments.


An overlook set up on the hill at Devil's Den.


The tree at the top of the hill.


Little Round Top from the Slaughter Pen.


The Cyclorama portraying dawn at Gettysburg on July 3rd, 1863...


...and late in the afternoon, during the midst of the carnage.


A cornet in a display of battlefield instruments.


The Christmas tree near the entrance to the visitor center.
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After dinner (chicken soup, sweet and sour meatballs, chicken sausage, taquitos, mmm), I fought with my computer for a while and finally achieved a watchable copy of Doctor Who's "The Next Doctor." I really need to watch it again, but my first reaction is that while I liked it better than "Voyage of the Damned," I didn't like it as much as "The Runaway Bride" and not nearly as much as "The Christmas Invasion" -- yes, I have a bias toward Rose- and Donna-centered stories, but I also love Harriet Jones kicking arse, and in general I think the Doctor needs to spend more time around awesome women instead of alternately rescuing them, mourning them, or finding excuses to destroy them.

I doubt it will surprise anyone that Mercy Hartigan is one of my favorite women ever on this show or, well, a lot of others -- the evil Edith Keeler who looks like Glenn Close as the Marquise de Merteuil and is just totally hot, and I need to see everything else Dervla Kirwan has ever been in, any recs? I'm sure there is much squeeing over the slashy potential between the Doctor and Jackson, and I did have my moments of being entertained by that, but when the slashy bonding is so much at the expense of dead or absent women, it usually leaves me cold in the end -- "Hey, my wife is dead and your companion is gone, let's console each other, whoo!" If I wrote fic based on this ep, it would be to bring Hartigan back, have her spend thirty seconds lamenting her wicked ways, and send her off in the TARDIS. Possibly with Sarah Jane Smith.

I mean, fine, go ahead and blast me for not singing Rosita's praises for throwing a single punch, but she's hardly even a character -- more a broadly drawn type who takes orders from both Doctors after being saved by one, who proves her worth as a nursemaid by rescuing a bunch of dirty-faced Dickensian poppets, who has no will or agency of her own that we get to see in the midst of the "Doctor on high" worship (I HATED that line). Whereas Mercy is all agency and passion and power -- a woman who can't be absorbed by the Cybermen as Rose Tyler could, as Lisa could, as untold numbers of throwaway characters were -- how can the Doctor not adore her just for that, and want to save her just to understand how her mind works!

Hartigan's also very nearly more a caricature than a character, almost no backstory, no explanation of what happened to her at the hands of those snooty "charitable" men that made her hate them so much that she began to hate everything they touched, including the children, but I'm very willing to love her in spite of that. If we must be given half-formed women, please let more of them be so fierce and proud and independent. "I am new, the might of your technology combined with my imagination." Yes! Surely if he admired her mind so much he could have found a way to save her -- to use her guilt and horror to destroy the Cybermen without destroying her in the process. After all, Jackson's guilt and horror didn't destroy him in the end; I think we're supposed to think his runaway from reality made him stronger.

Wonderful nonsense, very silly, that's what Jackson said about the TARDIS and that's how I feel about the episode -- screeching fun when Jackson shows off his Tethered Aerial Release Developed In Style, though I was ready to dislike it just because he told Rosita to get back to the TARDIS on the grounds that breaking into a house is hardly work for a woman. I was so very relieved when we learned that THAT was never the Doctor. I guessed right away that he lost a child when the Doctor said that he his amnesia was self-triggered; there had already been talk about children being taken, and we all know from this series that losing the great love of one's life is not itself a good enough reason for a full nervous breakdown.

I really appreciated all the references to previous Doctors, the photo album of previous incarnations, the sonic screwdrivers, the attempts to use the fob watch to find a hidden Time Lord's memories. And I enjoyed the pace of the episode, the manic comic chase at the start, the sleigh ride while being pulled by the cyber-bear or whatever it was across the floor, the glaring, the snobbery of Jackson-Doctor (how come absorbing the Doctor from the infostamp didn't require that his brain be reset at the end so he didn't overheat like Donna? grrr, I'm still angry about that). Did the Doctor ever know how to use an infostamp as a weapon? He says, "Only the Doctor would think of that," yet so far as I can tell from the episode, Jackson came up with it from imagination rather than borrowed memories. And, as the Doctor says, he built a TARDIS, even if it's just (just!) a hot air balloon.

I know this is incoherent -- I jotted down largely incoherent notes like "Sorry but I'm totally rooting for the villainess" during her speech about her will being stronger than the Cybermen, but no exact lines, and I haven't read anyone else's comments because I wanted to get my own down first. Though I also wrote stuff like "She's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man" and "Iron Giant Cyberman blows up houses." And "Yet again the Doctor is Jesus for Christmas, who needs a Nativity!" I just don't have it in me anymore to sniffle when he gets going on how some of them find someone else and some of them forget him and in the end they break his heart. Been there, done that, this year and last and the year before, with Jack Harkness too, and all I can say is that that's the price for wanting to be messiahs, boys.

Thanks to esteven, the_reverand and half_elf_lost for the cards!
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