By Richard Wilbur
O Egypt, Egypt—so the great lament
Of thrice-great Hermes went—
Nothing of thy religion shall remain
Save fables, which thy children shall disdain.
His grieving eye foresaw
The world’s bright fabric overthrown
Which married star to stone
And charged all things with awe.
And what, in that dismantled world, could be
More fabulous than he?
Had he existed? Was he but a name
Tacked on to forgeries which pressed the claim
Of every ancient quack—
That one could from a smoky cell
By talisman or spell
Coerce the Zodiac?
Still, still we summon him at midnight hour
To Milton’s pensive tower,
And hear him tell again how, then and now,
Creation is a house of mirrors, how
Each herb that sips the dew
Dazzles the eye with many small
Reflections of the All—
Which, after all, is true.
From this week's New Yorker. The contrast between this and Hermes in the Futurama movie discussed below is really rather hilarious.
My kids are off this week, so I am not getting a great deal accomplished besides a load of laundry here and there. We went to Bagel City for lunch -- we had bagels in the house, but no lox spread, which had to be remedied -- then went to Barnes & Noble and Best Buy because everyone had gift cards and a wish list for them. Adam wanted the new Warriors manga book, Daniel wanted the Futurama movie Bender's Big Score, I wanted a desk calendar that could be hung on a wall -- those new deluxe Page-a-Day calendars can't, which makes them useless to me, and I'm still irritated that there's no Audubon Page-a-Day calendar this year. I am making do with the Irish countryside. *g*
When Paul got home, he suggested going to see the winter light show at Seneca Creek State Park on the theory that it was less likely to be crowded Monday and Tuesday than Wednesday and Friday. We ate dinner first, since it had only just gotten dark, then drove to Gaithersburg and got to see all the new displays (more penguins, reindeer, Santa) on a very clear dark night, unlike last year's overcast evening without the sharp reflections in the lake -- we had a lovely view of Venus over the light-swans in the water.
We watched Bender's Big Score late in the afternoon, which has some fabulous cameos (Al Gore, Sarah Silverman) and an amusing storyline about internet scams, but Bender's Game, which we watched after we got back from Seneca Creek, is an instant classic that I wanted to watch again the second it was over. It's a parody of pretty much all the sci-fi/fantasy that the series didn't get around to skewering while it was on the air, mostly centered on The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix, but with plenty of Disney and Star Trek and Star Wars thrown in, plus dozens of other franchises.
The line that made me laugh the most was George Takei's to Scott Bakula during a gratuitous redneck spaceship race, in which their ships look like the Excelsior and the NX-01 respectively: "Way to kill the franchise, Bakula!" And, later, a fake narrator intoning, "In the end it was not guns or bombs that vanquished the aliens, but the humblest of God's creatures...Tyrannosaurus Rex." Farnsworth explains the fantasy universe in which the characters gets trapped as, "Instead of science, we believe in crazy hocus pocs. It's like Kansas." Plus he tells the three idiot sons of the villainess, "Knowing you three are of the same genus makes me ashamed to call myself 'homo.'" Plus Nurse Ratchet makes a return appearance, and there's an ent, and Morks, and in the Dungeons and Dragons-type AU in which the characters get trapped for much of the episode, Hermes becomes the centaur Hermaphrodite, Amy is Queen of the Water Nymphos, and "Frydo" is Gollum with a dodecahedral die he calls the dodecalicious. Oh, and there's gratuitous hot girl-on girl-action. *g*