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Thursday, October 9th, 2003

Time Event
12:50p
Catching Up
It’s been rather busy the last couple of weeks: let’s see.

On the 12th of September, I was depositing my paycheck at our credit union when I noticed a poster for sale of a 1997 Mercury Sable station wagon, good mileage and good price. The credit union occasionally has vehicles that have been ‘surrendered’ on a loan default, and this was a model we had been looking at as a possible replacement for my ’91 which now had 220,000 miles on it. I checked out the car and found it was an acceptable color, a nice teal green. (Georgie has the right to veto cars that are white or silver, as being unsafe for visibility in winter, or beige, as being boring.) I test drove it that Saturday morning, and found it good. We went in to the CU office on Monday and put down a payment to hold it while we shuffled funds to buy it. The ’91 was donated to charity. I would have felt bad giving or selling it to someone since I’m pretty sure whatever goes wrong with it next will be disastrously expensive if not dangerous, but the place we gave it to is an auto-mechanic training program, and they’ll take it apart an put it together again before they turn it loose on anyone else--. The wagon is very nice, and now I can do things like haul home a hunk of plywood from Menard’s again.

September 23rd was the Burrahobbits meeting, and we kept with the September Celtic theme, as the reading here was the Tain Bo Cualinge. We compared and contrasted a number of translations, including that of Lady Gregory, and the recent on by Thomas Kinsella. We also had cakes (including apple spice cupcakes by Georgie) to celebrate the eve of Bilbo’s birthday, which is of course Sept. 24, our reckoning.

September 29th is Michaelmas (the feast of St. Michael), and we got together for dinner at the residence of Tim Kozinski and Shelia Haberland for the annual dinner of lucky goose (it is lucky for you to eat goose on Michaelmas—not so lucky for the goose.) I brought wine and Georgie brought pies for dessert, both of which were well received. Tim prepared goose en croute as an appetizer, and the main dish of roast pork, both of which were excellent. The luck of the goose has stood by us well in the past, we shall see how effaceous it is this year. At any rate, we had a lovely dinner with good company.

October 4 was this month’s Bardic dinner—early this month due to other conflicts. Once a year we do a communal play reading instead of an individual reading, and this year’s play was the classic American comedy, “Arsenic and Old Lace.” We had great fun with the reading, despite the fact that many of us had to double roles. Georgie read Abby Brewster, Megan Barrowsby was Martha Brewster, I doubled the Brewster brothers Jonathan and Teddy, Bob Seidl read Mortimer Brewster, and Lily Sullivan was our Elaine. New York 30’s was the food theme, and we had standing rib roast will all the accouterments, with New York style cheesecake for dessert.

October 5, we drove to Spring Green for the closing performance of the season, “The Tempest.” It was a lovely day for a drive, and the gradually warming temperatures meant that with preparation we were able to endure the outdoor performance in comfort. This was an excellent production of Shakespeare’s last play, with some new ideas in it. Jonathan Gillard Daly was a very vigorous and worldly Prospero, much different from the withdrawn and mystical character frequently seen. He has learned to use his magic as a survival tool, instead of the monkish study which lost him his dukedom. If Daly’s performance had a flaw, it is in his lack of vocal variety. Prospero has a number of lengthy declamations, beginning with his exposition to Miranda in the second scene, and some of these got monotonous after a while. Most of the other characters were unremarkable, but both Ariel (Colleen Madden) and Caliban (Christopher Marshall) were scene-stealers in their own ways. Madden’s Ariel was subtly unhuman, not the flitting sprite commonly seen, and clever amplification of her good voice made her singing magic very effective. Caliban was a more human and more wretched creature, and seemed rather informed by the “Lord of the Rings” Gollum, with his emphasis on cringing and bootlicking rather than feral savagery.

October 6th was our 19th wedding anniversary. (It never seems to have been that long!) In the earlier part of the day we closed refinancing of our home mortgage so save ourselves a bit of money each month. In the evening we celebrated with dinner at Sanford, still Milwaukee’s finest restaurant. I had the seasonal mushroom special, which consisted of a mushroom and barley appetizer, tempura mushroom with broth, pheasant and wild mushroom “cobbler,” and “truffle” ice cram with spice cake. Georgie had the rabbit loin appetizer, followed by grilled elk, and tart cherry clafoutis for dessert. It was all wonderful! After dinner, we went to the Ashram meeting and found the topic of the night had been postponed by the low turnout, and just settled into an evening of chat.

October 7, we made time to run out to a movie, the first one in weeks. We chose to see “Secondhand Lions,” which we can heartily recommend. Robert Duvall and Michael Caine are fun to watch (although I don’t quite buy Caine as a Texan) and Hailey Joel Osment gives a fine performance as the boy fobbed off on his two eccentric and mysterious great-uncles. It is a very entertaining plot, enlivened by the old men’s reminiscences of their fabulous past which keeps it from being a mere sentimental story. Go and see it.
12:53p
Rant
I'm getting more fed up with the current administration by the day. Watching them crab around trying to re-justify the invasion of Iraq in light of the weapons inspectors' interim report is just sickening. Ashcroft's insistence that all Federal prosecutors issue maximum charges is frightening and unreasonable. The leak of the CIA analyst's name just stinks: it gives me bad flashbacks to the 'govermment by news leak' that was a common feature of the Reagan and Bush I aministrations, along with the petty vengefulness that was a hallmark of the Nixon regime. I also have a sneaking suspicion that 'espionage' charges against arabic speaking chaplains and translators at Guantanamo will turn out to be a witch hunt on the lines of the Wen Ho Lee Los Alamos fiasco.

I suppose it should be disturbing to see signs of cracking in our government, but I rejoice to see it aas a sign that chickens may be coming home to roost. The CIA's insistence on investigation of the leak is widely seen as the career intelligence and diplomatic community striking back at rutless political manipulation of their work. (And I wonder if Ashcroft will indeed pursue "to the hilt" policy against whomever is found responsible?) Rumsfeld being edged out of Iraq affairs and his reaction to it is another sign of internal dissention that I hope bodes ill for a second term.

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