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Men and Escapism

I’m no child psychologist, but I do work in an office where an endless string of kids parade in and out, allowing me ample opportunity to observe behavior. We also have a big TV here playing cartoons half the day, which gives me a chance to glimpse commercials for children’s toys. I’m noticing a particular trend, which may be obvious but I’m only now really beginning to appreciate.

There is a difference between little boys and little girls. I have no idea how much this difference is actually biological or how much it is merely cultural. Like many “nature or nuture” issues, I suspect the answer is a complex combination of both. But look at the toys marketed to boys versus the toys marketed to girls. Yes, the boy-toys are in general related to conflict, war, and competition. And yes, the girl-toys are in general related to domestic, nurturing tasks. This says a lot about our perception of gender, of course, but I’m making a slightly different point today.

While both kinds of toys embrace …

The Ugly Princess

Once upon a time there lived a little princess who was very beautiful. She was so gentle and kind and gracious that she almost glowed. Everyone who saw her smiled and felt happier, and almost everybody loved her. The people of the kingdom loved her. The men and women who worked in the castle loved her. The knights and the soldiers and even the visitors from far away lands loved her. The king, her father, loved her most of all.

Every day she was told how beautiful she was.

“You are the prettiest little girl in the world,” the people of the kingdom said.

“The sweetest angel, and so very kind,” said the men and women who worked in the castle.

“A treasure above all others,” remarked the visitors from far away lands.

“My pride and joy, the most beautiful creature in the world,” said the king, her father, who loved her most of all, and the little girl would hug him and kiss him.

But the queen, her mother, said nothing. Nobody told the queen that she was pretty. Nobody called her an angel, or a t…

The Little Boy Who Wandered

Once upon a time there was a little boy who loved to wander. He would wander over the hills beyond the edge of the town, past the fields where the farmers were sweating under the sun, right to the edge of the mysterious forest. The little boy loved the sight of the forest, so green and dark. There were many adventures in there, the boy thought. There was magic and love and glory. He would walk along its edges, enjoying the forest smells, but he never would enter. That was forbidden. Oh, once or twice he took a few steps beyond the line of trees, into the outer edges of the dark wood, before running breathlessly back into the open air, giddy with excitement. But he could never go in properly and explore.

“That is not where you belong,” his mother said one day. “The wood is dangerous. No more wandering. One day soon you’ll be a man, and then you will work in the fields where you will sweat under the sun, like your father and his father before him. And then you will marry, and have a litt…

So Say We All....

The other day somebody suggested that the role of art during difficult times such as these is simply to be entertaining. During a recession, people don't want to consider weighty or grave matters, or to be confronted with intellectually or ethically challenging questions. They just want see a happy story with singing and dancing and forget about their troubles for a while. I understand where this line of thinking comes from.

But I don't see any reason why artistic work can't provide both entertaining escapism and still stimulate critical and analytical thought and energize deep human emotion. To prove this, I am going to give my best sales pitch for a TV show which I have, on occasion, found myself reluctant to talk about with my friends for fear of inviting their scorn.


Listen up, people. Battlestar Galactica might just be one of the best shows on TV right now. Yes, its on the Sci-Fi Channel. Yes, that means that is technically considered a science fiction program. And yes…

Oscar Wilde was the man!

"An aesthetic education, which humanizes people, is far more important even for politicians than an economic education, which does the opposite."

--From "The English Renaissance of Art"

The Blog is REBORN! .... AGAIN!

I always knew I'd be back one day, blog. I know I've been unfaithful to you, spending my time and energy on whatever mindless pursuits came my way, but deep down I knew that you were the only love for me. And so here I am. Begging you to take me back.

I promise to post on you more often. I promise to make those posts interesting, passionate, relevant. I promise to make you readable again.

Can you forgive me? I can't live without you, blog. Take me back, baby.

Please?