Friday, July 30, 2004

Travel Notice

Today, I leave Texas in the dust. In a little while I'll be soaring high above her, winging my way home to the heartland.

I won't be doing any mid-air posting and my blogging could remain light the next couple of days as I get settled in the new place. Just to let you know.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

It's Good to Be Anorexic

That's the opinion of women who run pro-anorexia Web sites.

This article describes these women this way:

"Meet the newest breed of anorexics. They think rail-thin Mary-Kate Olsen didn't need treatment for her eating disorder, that most people are 'fat blobs on legs' and that shunning food to the point of emaciation is a 'lifestyle choice' to be admired."

To be young and female in a post-sexual-revolution world is to run a serious risk of hating yourself. Of course, the causes of eating disorders can be complex, but there's no denying they take place in a cultural context where young woman are taught to see their bodies as mere commodities on the sexual market. When she is told subtly from childhood that promiscuity is normal and healthy, it's easy for a young woman who doesn't get propositioned endlessly to see herself as undesirable. When the sexual marketplace is open 24 hours, you always have to look your best.

Today's young women are living in a sexual environment they did not create. It was handed to them by a previous generation hellbent on overturning the traditional sexual order. Being born into the revolution, and therefore having no choice about whether to participate in it, can certainly leave anyone feeling out of control. The sense of defenselessness is only heightened in a culture where young men are trained to be relentlessly on the hunt for sexual conquest. Eating disorders are understandable because they offer a feeling of control over at least part of a woman's life in a culture sexual chaos.

Here's an article about the same phenomenon in Canada.

Thanks to CPYU for the link.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Teen Girls Buying Bigger Breasts

The numbers of plastic surgeries are up around the country. Going under the knife has grown increasingly legitimate, no doubt in part, due to reality shows like "The Swan" and "Extreme Makeover."

Liposuction and breast work are the most popular procedures. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports operations to enlarge dissatisifying bosoms are now common among teenage girls(registration may be required).

If you're wondering how they pay for the work, the story has an answer. At least in some cases,: "Teenage girls sometimes even get improved cleavage as high school graduation gifts," it says.

I don't know exactly what to think of this. On one hand, we all use technology to improve and maintain our appearance to some degree. What is the difference, in principle, between using, say, teeth whitening strips and getting breast implants? Both are ways of changing our looks to be more satisfying to us and more attractive to others. Obviously, breast implants require more expense and trouble than teeth whitening or eyebrow waxing, but that is merely a matter of degree. I don't see a substantial difference in principle.

At the same time, two quotes from the story really bother me and reveal a deeper problem.

First, this one: "Teenagers 'look at their body like a fixer-upper in real estate,' said Nili Sachs, a Minneapolis psychotherapist who specializes in women's body image. 'You buy it cheap, fix it up and put it on the market.' "

One result of growing up in the aftermath of the sexual revolution is that people believe the body is a commodity, like a house, to be marketed and eventually sold for the highest return. When young women adopt this view, we are bound to see a whole slew of emotional and physical problems manifested in their lives. Many young women in our culture struggle with depression, feelings of inferiority, cutting, eating disorders and on and on. In large part, these troubles are the price society pays for the sexual license the revolution demanded.

It is a truism of post-revolution culture that our bodies belong to us as individuals alone. However, the body, like the whole person, only finds it purpose in the context of relationships. That many young women see their bodies almost entirely from an individualistic framework and not as the vehicles with which they locate themselves in webs of social relationships is clear from this startling fact: "One-third to two-thirds of women with implants have insufficient milk for breast-feeding, the agency says. And small amounts of silicone may pass from implant shells into breast milk, possibly affecting a nursing infant."

When young women trade away the ability to nurture safely a new life for cosmetic enhancements, they give up a greater fulfillment for a lesser one. That we have taught them to do so is a tragedy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Meaningful Moment

On the bus tonight, I saw an old lady. Her gray hair was pulled up in a bun. Gaps showed in her mouth where some of her teeth used to be. She had an air of being a little senile or otherwise out of it. Being "out of it" is par for the course the crowd who regularly rides the bus around here so, she didn't stand out.

A Hispanic woman was sitting next to her. A child, maybe about two, slept on the Hispanic woman's lap, his dark head resting against her chest.

The old woman leaned over and looked at him. She smiled.

"You're going to be a lawyer someday," I think she said.

Then, she smiled again, at the boy then his mother. "Or maybe," she went on, "a financial banker." She paused.

She concluded by saying, "Or maybe a pastor of a nice church." Then, she put her gnarled hand on the side of the Hispanic woman's face. "And grow up to take care of Momma."

Senile or not, she captured the frailty of our hopes and saw the potential in this child in a way many never will.

New Reality Network to Air

Still chagrined about missing that episode of "America's Wildest Police Videos?" Worry no more. You may yet get your chance. Fox Networks Group has announced its plan to launch a 24-hour all reality channel in 2005. The network will air original programming as well as revisiting some of Fox's big reality hits like The Simple Life, Joe Millionaire and Celebrity Boxing.

Reality programs are now the Britney Spears of television in some circles.It's become cool to snear at them and pretend you never liked them in the first place. It's looks, however, as if Fox is betting there is still a substantial audience out there for whom too much reality is never enough.

Plastic Surgery: In the Pits

Some cosmetic surgeons are taking a shot at using two well-known treatments for new purposes. First, collagen injections, long a way for Hollywood starlets to thicken their lips and get that perfect pout, are now being used for women's feet. The plumped-up soles help the ladies stay comfortable in heels longer, USA Today reports.

Recently, the FDA approved the use of Botox to reduce underarm sweating. Ostensibly, this treatment is meant for people with medical conditions entailing "excessive sweating," but it won't be long until being persperation free will be a new status symbol.

Another Thought about Dating, the Internet and Honesty

During the discussion I describe below, I asked the mostly young, mostly single people in the room, why there was such a stigma against using Internet dating sites.

"Because it makes you seem desperate," was the overwhelming reply.

It amazes me anyone ever gets married.

Perhaps this is most prevelant in the Evangelical subculture, though I suspect some aspect of this phenomena cuts across society. Some single people want very badly to get married, yet most punish with rejection anyone who fails to conceal that fact convincingly.

People who conceal the desire to be married are seen as normal while someone who admits it, who wants to be a good spouse, and is doing everything possible, like using an Internet dating service, to meet someone they can love and serve in the context of marriage is seen as "desperate" and therefore undesirable.

Wouldn't this all be easier if we could own our desires and be a little more frank about them?

Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places?

I got into a debate with a colleague today over the kind of people who look for mates through online services like

She had a friend who dated a few men whom she met through a Web based dating service which does not do the kind of extensive screening eHarmony does. Her friend didn't like any of these guys. They were, my colleague said, introverted and nervous. Based on her friend’s experience, the women I was debating drew a generalization about the faults of Internet matching services. "Frankly, I think they attract cowardly men," she said. Later, she withdrew that statement.

That's good, because her original proclamation was wrong for several reasons.

First, being nervous or introverted doesn't make a man a coward. I'm willing to go on record saying 100 per cent of people who use Internet dating services have some anxieties about the opposite sex. I'm even willing to grant that meeting women through the Internet might be easier than approaching women at a bar, a party, or at church for men who are especially anxious.

That's a long way from being a coward. A coward lets his fears dictate his choices. A man who is terrified of approaching women for dates, but does it still, is being brave, even if he meets those women through the Internet.

What was most offensive in my colleague's original categorization was the implication that men who fail to master the nuances of middle class social expectations sufficiently enough to be considered "normal" are unworthy of a woman's love and probably incapable of loving a wife. Nothing precludes a man who is nervous, shy, or awkward from also being supportive, compassionate and wise, all qualities that make for a good husband.

It's quite possible a man might be nervous around women because he values and respects them. The chauvinist and the womanizer are never anxious because they think so little of females.

Of course, a man can be nervous in these situations because he's had damaging experiences with women. Perhaps past rejection has left him wary. That this damage can't be seen by some young women for what it is, a temporary condition love can heal, is evidence of how little they have thought through the qualities that make a good mate.

What do you think? Who's right here? Guys, would you/have you used an Internet dating service? Does using one make you a coward? Ladies, would meeting a guy through on of these services color your feelings about him? How so?

Dorr reviews Tony Hendra

Tony Hendra, probably best known for playing Ian Faith, the band's befuddled manager, in "This is Spinal Tap," recently released a memoir called "Father Joe: The Man who Saved My Soul." The book recalls his long relationship with a monk who influenced him deeply.

I heard Hendra interviewed several weeks ago on NPR. I thought then I'd probably like the book. I still haven't read it, but Greg Dorr has. He hated it.

Rocco DiSpirito's Restaurant Woes

I think the Mrs. and I saw every epsiode of the mediocre reality series "The Restaurant." Purportedly about the struggles of opening a restaurant in New York, the show was mostly immature Manhattanites whining about work and trying to hook up with each other. As you might imagine, the program lacked the drama crucial to a really gripping story.

Turns out, the real drama is taking place in court right now. Apparently, it's unclear who really owns the restaurant. Rocco DiSpirito, the celebrity chef whose personality and star-power, was the foundation of the series claims he owns 50 per cent of the business. Others say he doesn't.

The restaurant's other financial backers want to put it on the market. But, Rocco's people claim he can make it profitable if he can just hang on to it.

The risk of losing his restaurant is bad enough, but even worse, Dispirito's former manager says one of the restaurant's investors, Jeffrey Chodorow, was mean to Rocco's mom.

The story says, "Lon Rosen, a Los Angeles Dodgers executive who was DiSpirito's personal manager when Rocco's opened, said that despite DiSpirito's dedication to the venture Chodorow treated him 'horribly' and 'inhumanely.' Rosen also accused Chodorow of being beastly to the chef's 79-year-old mother, making her weep by saying nasty things to her about her son while she worked 14 hours a day making meatballs and doing other chores at the restaurant."

How terrible!! There's just no excuse for being mean to Momma!!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Sex Workers Cater to Democrats

By the end of this week's Democrat convention liberal's plans for unseating President Bush in November will be well laid, and many of the delegates will be too apparently.

Reuter's reports prostitutes from around the country are swarming Beantown to find some randy left-winger looking to blow a wad-of cash, I mean.

The story quotes Robyn Few, who runs the Sex Workers Outreach Project, an advocacy group, saying ""Every convention brings in more people, and women fly in from all over the country to work it. There will be girls from California and from the South in Boston this week. I hope a lot of women make a lot of money and make a lot of men really happy."

Also according to the story, strip club owners are pumping up their staffs for some extra action this week by adding more dancers to their establishment's rosters.

The Dems don't want the influence of working girls to sully their reputations though: "'This really is a G-rated event,' said DNC spokeswoman Mariellen Burns."

Of course, one wonders if maybe, in this case, that G is short for G-string.

New Pierce Pettis Record

I just received an advance copy of the new Pierce Pettis record called "Great Big World." It's scheduled to be officially released August 3.

I really like his musc and having met him briefly a couple of times, I can say he seems like a real upstanding guy. His last record, "State of Grace", was amazing. By far the best he'd done up to that time. I was hoping the new album would build on the power of the last one.

I'm about halfway through my first listen. I have to say it doesn't seem to have the same spirit and energy as "State of Grace." I'm afraid I don't like it as well. We'll see, maybe it will grow on me.

Bad Writing Winner

Phil at Brandywine Books has a post pointing out the winner of this year's Bulwer-Lytton contest for bad writing run by the English Department at San Jose State University .

The contest is named after19th century writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton, who opened his 1830 novel, "Paul Clifford", with this sentence: ""It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

The contest asks participants to submit a single terrible sentence and judges then pick the best of the worst.

This year's winner is a 42-year-old softeware developer named Dave Zobel.

This garbled prose nabbed him the grand prize.

""She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight ... summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail ... though the term 'love affair' now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism ... not unlike 'sand vein,' which is after all an intestine, not a vein ... and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand ... and that brought her back to Ramon."

If you want to enter, the deadline is in mid-April, so start cranking out those stinkers!

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Book Report

Book sales are down and from that fact market analysts conclude so is the amount of time people spend reading. That may not be true, though.

The story quotes someone specualting one reason is all the other activities competing for our time. One reason my book reading is less than I would like it to be is that I spend time reading blogs instead. I suspect this is true for others as well.

What the story doesn't mention is whether email and now blogs have increased the amount of time the average person spends writing, producing not just consuming written content.

The demise of the book has been predicted for years, now there seems to be some evidence for it. Oddly enough, the art of compostion seems to be undergoing a renaissance in some corners.

What do you think? Are books done for?

Summer Movie Roundup

Variety's Peter Bart offers an informative look at the summer's boxoffice winners and losers today. The most intriguing sentence was this one;

"And, yes, the Internet geeks weren't genuflecting either over 'I, Robot' or 'Catwoman' (negative geek-buzz always makes the studios nervous), but the Will Smith movie at least opened big-time at $52.2 million."

By "Internet geek," I assume Bart means bloggers who write about movies. He finishes the article by mentioning "The Passion of the Christ" and "Fahrenheit 9/11" as the summer's two real success stories. Coincidentally, both these films had generated a susbstantial blogosphere buzz in the months before they opened. Does it surprise anyone "The Terminal" or "Sleepover" failed to inspre that kind of energy?

The role of bloggers in determining which movies make it big is going to grow and I expect Hollywood will sooner or later have to take note. It's no coincedence the both POTC and F9/11 were the big spring/summer hits. These movies deal with big questions; ones on which people hold definite opinions. Thus, they appeal to bloggers who love discussing meaty topics.

If Hollywood does come to realize the importance of appealing to the blogosphere, maybe we'll see more serious work and a little less "Starsky & Hutch."

A Short Hair Piece

I've been trying something for the last month I've never done before: growing a beard. Well, it's a goatee actually.

I know we're a decade past grunge, but I still see goatees around so I thought I'd go for it.

At first, it was thin and the hair was bristly. When I rubbed my face, it would scratch my fingers. About half way into the process, I nearly gave up and took a razor to it. It was heavy and dark on the sides, but barely grown in on the top of my chin. I thought it made me look like I needed to wash my face more than anything.

That was a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad I left it. It's filled in much better now. Just today, I noticed it's smooth and soft to the touch. What happened?

Have those of you with beards experienced this abrubt transition? Ladies, I guess that question excludes you (at least I hope it does), but you surely know some furry faced fellas. I'm wondering, are you fans of the look or not?

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Title Change

I've changed the title of this blog. I like it better now. We'll see if it sticks.

Bourne Supremacy Review

Saw the “Bourne Supremacy”“Bourne Supremacy” tonight and, you know, I love a great action movie as much as the next guy. Unfortunately, "great action movie" is not a category into which the newest installment in the Bourne series falls.

The first Bourne vehicle was a serviceable, if generic, thriller given some spice by its "who-is-he?" plot device. The second is full of fast paced action including one of the most elaborate car chase scenes I've ever scene. The editing in said car scene is so quick some shots lasting no more than half a second) it's impossible to tell what's going on.

Maybe the filmmakers wanted to keep things rolling so we wouldn't notice the absence of any cohesive story. The film has a happy ending. The bad guys all get carted away which is fine, but I always enjoy a movie so much more when I know who the antagonist is and have even the slightest inkling into his motivations for, say, trying to off the good guy.

The Bourne Supremacy is what audiences expect to find at the movies in the summer, loud, easy, and full of spectacle. Still, there's a difference between fluff that's good and junk fluff. I would have expected the movie's makers to have known the difference.

Comments Comment

I just realized Blogger's comment feature had been set to exclude anyone but other Blogger users from commenting here. I've changed that.

It looks as if anyone may now post comments, but only other Blogger users will get links etc. If you're not a Blogger registered user, you can post "anonymously." If you do, leave your name and URL in the text of the comment and I'll try to visit your site.

Rodeo Kids

Did you know some Texas rodeos include an event where young children, four, five or six years old, ride a bucking, twisting sheep? I saw it in the movie. The kids, with their little hands burrowed tightly into the rough wool, hang on for dear life. Texans call the event "Mutton Bustin'."

Have you ever heard of, or seen, such a thing?

Of Texas and the Shadowlands

This morning, I saw Texas: The Big Picture. It was a forty-minute meditation on Texas culture, history, and style.

Full of soaring panoramas and stirring music, the film portrayed an idealistic vision of Texas. In the on-screen Texas, people were content. They suffered no real hardship. The movie gave me not so much Texas as it is, but as we all wish it were.

Like so much good art, it offers a theology lesson.

The Texas portrayed in the film, was not the Texas I've experienced. In the films Texas there was no heat, no dust, no traffic. The discrepancy between the filmic Texas and the experienced Texas is not a problem when we understand the role of art.

Art sometimes re-presents to us reality shaped by the soul. This movie's Texas was a product of longing as much as of geography.

Think of it this way. Everybody's uncomfortable in this world. The world, as we live in it, is full of sin and suffering in every shade between annoying and devastating. The whole creation, including Texas, groans beneath the burden.

We pine instead for another world whose reality fulfills our desires, where dignity trumps greed, and life and love have no end. That's the kind of Texas I saw this morning, an image of what such a place might look like. The final renewal of Texas and every other thing is the promise of Scripture, the dearest hope of the Christian.

Ultimately, that Texas, the one to come, is the real Texas because it is never-ending. All the gleaming Dallas skyscrapers, all the smoky Austin clubs, all the rolling hills and parched, dusty deserts are but shadows, cryptic hints of what lies ahead. The artist, at his best, is one who helps us peer past the shadows to catch even a glimpse of the real thing and in doing so affirms our hopes.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Age Differences

At dinner tonight, someone brought up how much age differences between members of a couple bother her. She thinks it's "gross" if an older man is married to or dating a younger woman and vice versa. Disparities of more than twelve years really bother her. She's OK with anything less.

The Mrs. is six and a half years younger than I. Usually, I don't even notice it. About the only time I do is when she talks about toys or television from her adolescence and I realize I was in college when the things she recalls were popular.

The aversion to big age differences between a man and his wife is a modern phenomenon, I suspect. Think about Jane Austen. Emma is in her late teens or, at most, very early twenties when she marries Mr. Knightley who resides somewhere in the neighborhood of 40.

I don’t see this as a moral issue, but an issue of prudence. So long as both parties are adults, I see no moral problem, but whether getting involved with someone significantly older or younger is wise has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. That said, I'd be a little suspicious of a guy in his fifties who routinely dated dewy-eyed twenty-somethings. Marriage and family, I would guess, would not be what he's looking for. I could be wrong, though.

What do you think? How big an age difference is too big? Does it matter? At what point, if ever, does it get "gross"?

Britney Spears: Wedding Invite For Sell

I've been a pretty faithful Britney blogger, chronicling what has become a painful and humiliating flame-out.

First, there was the quickie wedding fiasco. The groom in that debacle recently described his sexual escapades with the Britster on the evening of their wedding to an European newspaper. She must be so proud.

Then, there was a new flop album followed by a bloated summer tour, also a flop.

The only thing keeping Brit from falling of the cultural map completely is the massive publicity machine pushing her. No one on the street cares. Britney managed to alienate her audience by continuing to pour on more of the same overt sexuality long after her fans were satisfied.

She missed a crucial move out of the Madonna playbook. The Material Girl would have sensed people tiring of her trampy persona and started showing up modestly and glamorously attired. Christina Aguilera got the message. In some recent photos, ol' Xtina looks downright prim.

Now, on the heels of her recently announced engagement to Kevin Federline, a man whose second child (neither with Britney) was born this week, comes the latest rumor in the ongoing saga of Brit's self destruction. It appears she is looking at offers to televise her November nuptials as well as auctioning off the photo rights. I would advise her to think again about televising the wedding. Keeping the affair private would save her the humiliation of being a ratings bomb. I would tell her to wait two years, then sell the rights to televise the divorce. That, I bet, people would watch.

Rabbit Redux-Donnie Darko Re-released

One of the best films I've seen in the last few years is being re-released today with an additional 20 minutes of footage.

Donnie Darko is an exploration of the nature of time, moral responsibilty and perception. There's also a creepy rabbit. If you haven't seen it,do.

Whenever filmmakers start tinkering with a movie, adding footage and effects, there's a chance they will muck the thing up. In this case, that would be a real tragedy.

UPDATE: Christianity Today has an interesting article up about some young people's response to DD.

Blog Title

I'm feeling ambivalent about this blog's title. Look for it to change as soon as I think if something better. Meanwhile, I'm open to your suggestions. Any ideas?

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Houston, We Have an Artist

I remember staying up late at night as a teenager to watch "Night Flight" on the USA Network. That's where I had my first encounter with Laurie Anderson, the long-time avant guard musician and multi-media artist. I always thought she seemed distant. There was something cold about her music and performances. Frankly, she seemed a little spacey.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who thought so. Anderson is now finishing up a two year stint as artist-in-residence at NASA.

When her gig at the space agency is up later this year, she's planning a big tour.

Napoleon Dynamite Review

Went to see Napoleon Dynamite a week ago. It's gotten mixed reviews, but seems well on its way to gathering a cult following. The day before I saw it, I overheard two guys on the sidewalk talking about it. There was an ad in the local paper hawking tickets for a Napoleon Dynamite party.

The tale of a nerdy high school kid, the movie avoids the cliches of High School movies by playing everything deadpan. The main characters, Napoleon and his friend Pedro, never show much emotion. It's hard to tell if they are stupid, stoned or just emotionally void.

Deadpan can go too far. By playing every scene with no feeling, the actors gave me little to care about. No feeling on the screen, I guess, no feeling in the audience.

The film's partial redemption is its weirdness. The movie plays like a blend of "Welcome to the Dollhouse", "Gummo" and "Ferris Bueller." I'd never seen anything quite like it.

The plot, spare though it is, is one of triumph. The story is the familiar High School yarn about the nerd who overcomes the cool kids and his own insecurities to finally make a real human connection. Napoleon matures, but to see it you have to watch closely. The story unfolds without all the normal cues as to how the viewer should feel, no soaring music at the nerd's moment of glory, no humilation for the cool jock.

In spite of its faults Napoleon Dynamite is worth seeing if you're prepared for a movie that's quiet, a little strange, a little demanding and, if nothing else, surprisingly original.


If you like High School flicks, here's one I think is vastly under-rarted.

Funny Girl

There's someone I want you to meet. She's got a great personality. No, that doesn't mean what you think it means.

Her name is Jen O'Callaghan. She is a former colleague of mine and a humor writer. As far as I know, she's yet to jump fully on the blog bandwagon. You can, however, read her columns online. She publishes on Thursday. Unfortunately, this week's column is very Seacoast New Hampshire focused. So, on the off chance you don't live in Portsmouth, Dover or Rochester, I'm linking to a column from a couple of weeks ago, one of her best.

Go on, give her a shot. Whadda ya got to lose?

Beautiful Creatures

This entry was originally posted Friday June 25, 2004

Last night was another Thursday at another bar.

This time there was a reggae band. They were quite obviously a New Hampshire reggae band. Every member was white.

They played outside on a concrete patio. They played loud. I could feel my organs quiver with every whack of the bass strings.

Soon two young women came in. They were very young indeed, barely 21, I would guess.

They slinked between the green plastic lawn furniture already crowded with guests well on their way to afternoon inebriation. Both wore the now familiar regulation hot girl uniform, all flip-flops and halter tops.

A stop at the bar got them started and they settled into chairs well away from the band. The cigs, Marlboro lights, came out immediately and their faces soon faded behind clouds of cool smoke.

Their beer and tobacco may have been light, but clearly their hearts were not.

Every trick they had learned for conjuring the desire of others had been exercised to perfection. Now, they waited to see if their magic was strong enough. They kicked back to drink, their eyes still scanning the area, anxious to know where the approval, the validation of the allure they labored to emit, would come from.

In spite of their efforts, there remained something hard and unattractive about them. Their faces were joyless and angry. Their smiles were tinged with sneers. Every movement seemed to communicate a history of disappointment as if each hope denied had settled deep into the flesh they willingly displayed. Their sadness was muscular and tough.

Their habits of using every available tool to attract attention while simutaneously erecting bulwarks to repel it made them the kind of contradictions some men can’t resist.

I went back inside to spend a few hours losing at pool. On my way out, I crossed the patio again. I noticed they were sitting at a table surrounded by men. Their charms must weild some power. One of the women was arching her back over the top of her chair, the top of her blonde head hanging pointed toward the concrete. She was whooping and clapping.

The drive home took me through the woods. A few minutes from my destination, I saw a dark shape lumbering across the road. I hit the brakes. The tires screeched. The sudden stop threw me against the shoulder belt. Outside, the light from the headlamps blurred with smoke as the car filled with the hot stench of burning rubber.

Only as the thing disappeared beneath my bumper could I discern what it was. As it vanished from view I could make out the dense forest of quills atop a porcupine’s back.

I bear a great fondness for those sticky critters. I saw one up close for the first time earlier this year at a small private zoo. They are much more common in the New England woods than in Indiana where I lived for many years.

At the zoo, I stood a long time, transfixed by the porcupine who sat on his shelter holding a small piece of fruit in one paw, munching away at it. He looked like a silent, tiny man in a very large, rough coat. He seemed so human my heart went out.

Now, stalled in the dark, I prepared to put the car in reverse to reveal, I was sure, one of these animals sprawled in a bloody pile. I imagined it contorting in agony as I stood helplessly by, unable to get close to it because of its sharp defenses, unsure of what to do with it even if I could have drawn near.

The porcupine’s life was not to be demanded of it this night however. As I reached for the gear shift, motion to the left caught my eye. I saw the prickly beast waddling back to the woods whence he came, unscathed.

I can't help but think how like that porcupine the two young women at the bar really were.

Their vulnerability in spite of obvious armor inspires great sympathy, compassion that hurts. Both were driven by their hungers into a night full of grave dangers that, though well prepared to counter, they likely didn't fully understand, let alone have the capacity to control. Both were prepared to be hunted while seeking whatever sustenance they could forage.

The women’s destiny is unknown. I can only hope that at the end of the night they, like the porcupine whose life I nearly snuffed, staggered home, unfulfilled certainly, but safe nonetheless.

Lost a Blog

I used to have a blog. It was a good blog. Now, that blog is gone.

I'm planning to move my favorite posts from that blog here. So, a few of my next posts won't be entirely fresh, but that's ok. They'll keep

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