Monday, October 20, 2014


Somebody stole my Monday post--it was a good one, too. If you see it, please let me know.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Am I the Only One...

...who sees a problem here?

As you may have heard by now, super-famous author John Grisham did an interview with the British paper earlier this week in which he made some...interesting...statements (the interview will run on Saturday). Somehow in the course of the interview, they ended up on the topic of incarceration. And from there, they ended up on the topic of incarceration for people who download child pornography. In Grisham's view, the sentencing for people who do this are too high, and he points out instances where some people who were caught with child porn on their computers got heavier sentences than those who actually raped a child.

This is very touchy and sensitive stuff, and may well be a debate that needs to be had, but it's not what got me ratcheted up. During the interview, Grisham related the tale of an old law school buddy of his (it's not clear how long ago this happened, or how close Grisham is to this man at this point in time). His old buddy dowloaded pornography. Quote from Grisham:

"It was labelled 'sixteen year old wannabee hookers or something like that'. And it said '16-year-old girls'. So he went there. Downloaded some stuff."
Turns out Grisham's law school buddy got caught up in an FBI sting operation. He was arrested within a week and spent three year's in prison. The very next sentence in Grisham's interview?
"It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys."
Okay, hold on, I'm not sure I read that correctly. I must be wrong.

"It was stupid, but it wasn't 10-year-old boys."

OH, okay, then, sorry for the misunderstanding, off you go, sir. We can't give you your porn back, but don't worry about jail time. You were only looking at 16-year-old girls. If you had been looking at 10-year-old boys, however....

For the record, I think this is a case where what Grisham said and what Grisham meant are two different things. I don't think he's a man who gets his freak on by looking at child pornography (though I have to say one of the creepier passages in the interview came when described how a man might find his way into it, quite by accident, of course. It sounded a little too experiential, if you know what I mean, but then again that's what writers do: we make things sound and feel experiential.). But that statement...oh, that statement.

Two problems with that statement. First, is the sliding scale of age thing. We have laws that designate when someone is defined as being 'of age' for a whole lot of things: driving, voting, buying cold medicine, marriage, age of consent. You may not agree with these laws, but you damn well better obey them. As adults, we're supposed to look out for children, not look for them. We tend to react more viscerally to sex crimes in particular the younger the victim. Guess what? It's horrible no matter what the age.

Worse in my view is the girl/boy thing. Grisham seems to dismiss it as trivial. After all, his friend only had pictures of 16-year-old girls on his computer. This statement says to me that he views pornography,  as something normal--provided the subjects are female. The sad thing is, I think society backs him up. It's an idea that is reinforced all over, in the images we see on TV and in movies, on billboards and in magazines. The mainstream imagery that focuses on women's largely undressed bodies makes pornography more acceptable, something we just sort of shrug off. It's something we really need to change.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday Musing: A Quote

Last night, I found myself reading an old interview with John Irving (The World According to Garp, In One Person, and one of my all-time favorite books, A Prayer for Owen Meany), and he had this to say:

"Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep searching for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties."

That's terrific, isn't it? "Writing a novel is actually searching for victims." It calls up images of police dogs sniffing the woods, or firemen digging through rubble--not happy images, to be sure, but how many successful books are about happy people? While I certainly try to make things worse for my characters as my stories progress, I haven't ever quite thought of it this way before. Perhaps I need to keep this notion a little more front-and-center when I write.

What about you? Do you consider your characters as your victims? Please share.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Slightly Distracted

The Magpie has been in Japan for a month. Since arriving, she's experienced:

-One earthquake

-One volcano (no, she was not on the mountain)

-One typhoon (Phanfone, which dumped nearly 11" of rain on Tokyo last week)

And now, she's got this bearing down on her:

Here's a view taken from astronaut Reid Wiseman's Twitter feed:

 You can understand why I'm a little distracted right now.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Musical Monday: Squeeze

Reaching again back into the 80s vault. I've always liked this song. What surprised me is that it turned out to be Squeeze's highest-charting single in the United States, reaching #15 on the Billboard charts. I was sure that something like Tempted or Black Coffee in Bed would have hit higher on the charts; those songs were much more 'radio present' than this one, at least on the stations I listened to.

I watch a lot of these old videos (well, I don't really sit around watching them; I generally only search them out when a song pops into my head and I've really got to hear it, or I'm looking for a video for the blog) and I wonder if the artists were amused, embarrassed or annoyed at having to do the things they do in them. These guys look mostly amused.

Not much else to report from my little corner of the world here; the weekend was very busy and went by in a blink, leaving me feeling like I need a weekend! How's things by you all?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Unfocused Friday

On Wednesday I drove down into the foothills of the Catskills for a workshop. The drive was incredible. The day was mostly sunny and the foliage down there was slightly more peak than it is up here. The funny thing is that one of the workshop leaders was a man who works for the New York City Parks Department--we worked together on a project somewhere around 20 years ago when he worked in Prospect Park and I worked in Central Park! It's strange how paths sometimes cross and recross at unexpected times and places.

Yesterday I  took a walk at lunch and realized that, for all the griping we do about the weather, it's only fair to sing its praises once in a while. After almost two weeks of real crummy weather in early September (where I was forced to turn on the heat at one point), we've had a run of about 3 solid weeks of dry, mostly sunny days, and pleasant temperatures, day and night. I've had the window open at night, and my neighbor was out with the barbecue yesterday. The fall colors have been spectacular around here, and for that I am thankful.

It's not going to last, of course. A cold front is coming  through tonight, bringing a return to more seasonal temperatures (50s and low 60s by day, 30s and 40s at night), and the expected rain will probably knock down a lot of the foliage, but it's been a heck of a few weeks, and for that I am grateful.

That's all I've got to say today. How are YOU doing? Have a pleasant weekend, and thanks for stopping in.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Once More, The Chestnut

Hi, all, not much to say here today for a variety of reasons. This being the end of September, with summer officially over as of last week, I thought I'd break out a couple of quick pics from this morning. The American chestnut has survived the summer, and while it didn't do as well as I expected, it did pretty well considering the top 2/3 or more died. You can see from the pictures that we're starting to lose a little color from the leaves now; it's a little behind, considering we're rapidly coming into peak foliage season. Given the fact that it lives in a corrugated plastic tube (to keep it safe from browsing deer, rabbits, etc.), it may actually be a little warmer than the surroundings, and perhaps less stressed, competition wise.

And we'll add another view from another angle:

Not bad, eh? The new leader didn't put on a whole lot of length, maybe 4", but again, considering that I had this little tree written off at the end of May, it didn't do so badly, did it?

And now, one other shot that came out surprisingly well:

The picture is a little large for the frame, but I'm going to leave it for now.
The web is not particularly large, maybe 6 inches across or so. The spider is that little black dot in the almost center of the web. Quite a difference from the giant one we had on our garage at the end of August--the big ones all seemed to disappear when we had a couple of consecutive nights of temperatures in the mid-30s in early September.

Hope y'all had a nice weekend!