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Showing posts from August, 2011

Zoo Stories

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I have always been fascinated by zoos.Yes, I know that the current thinking is that the forced confinement of animals is a form of cruelty by one species on another, but I also know that many animals are vanishing from the shrinking wilderness and will die out without the efforts of zoos and similar institutions.In any event, I grew up enjoying zoos as a major entertainment in my life, and I don’t apologize for the love of animals that was fostered by this.

When I was in the first and second grades my family often made trips to the St. Louis Zoo (one of the best in the country), and when I was ten we lived within one block of the entrance to the San Antonio Zoo.I walked, alone or with my sister, over there five or six times every day during the summer of 1953, which sounds dangerous in 2011 but was perfectly safe in that very different era.These experiences sparked a life-long reading of books about zoos and animals, and made me a frequent zoo visitor wherever I have lived since.To nam…

The Magic and Power of a Wink

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You can't use it often, but if you choose your moment carefully, a wink is a powerful tool to have in your social repertoire.Why a wink?Because it's almost always unexpected, and, being so, causes a reaction.A wink at the absolutely right time can create magic.
When is it appropriate?Consider the following possibilities.

A.Seduction.Oscar Hammerstein wrote: "Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger across a crowded room, and somehow you know—you know even then—that somehow you'll see her again and again."He then advised "fly to her side and make her your own," but in a crowded room that's not always possible.If you have a tremendous attraction to another person, and—this is very important or you'll look like a fool—that attraction is mutual, a little smile and a deliberate wink can convey this message: "I'm interested in meeting you."Notice that I said a "deliberate wink."By that I mean that it must be an obvious wi…

Chaucer, The Miller's Tale, and Me

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To earn a degree in English at the University of Maryland (from which I graduated in 1965), one requirement was to take a "development of language" course (of which there were a number of possibilities).The majority of these sounded dreadful, judging from the catalogue descriptions ("Elements of Grammar," for example), but the course that caught my eye was "Chaucer in the Original English."Since Geoffrey Chaucer was born in 1343 (I was born in 1943, six hundred years later), his version of the English language is only a kissing cousin to modern English.The professor who taught the course (whose name, alas, I cannot recall) was a treasure: a true Chaucer enthusiast with a love of his subject, and an infectious way of reading the old English out loud with enthusiasm.On the first day of class he told the thirty or so students that we would take turns reading aloud from Chaucer's various works.The text was arranged so that on one page would be Chaucer'…

The Mack Problem: Saving My Parents' Marriage

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You can't use it often, but if you choose your moment carefully, a wink is a powerful tool to have in your social repertoire.Why a wink?Because it's almost always unexpected, and, being so, causes a reaction.A wink at the absolutely right time can create magic.
When is it appropriate?Consider the following possibilities.

A.Seduction.Oscar Hammerstein wrote: "Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger across a crowded room, and somehow you know—you know even then—that somehow you'll see her again and again."He then advised "fly to her side and make her your own," but in a crowded room that's not always possible.If you have a tremendous attraction to another person, and—this is very important or you'll look like a fool—that attraction is mutual, a little smile and a deliberate wink can convey this message: "I'm interested in meeting you."Notice that I said a "deliberate wink."By that I mean that it must be an obvious wi…

With Tim in San Francisco—1982/1983

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One of my very best friends is Tim Ihle, who was a law student in 1976 when I joined the Ohio State law faculty in January of that year as a Visiting Professor for the winter and spring quarters.Things had become heated at Indiana University Indianapolis Law School, which was my permanent home, where the previous December I'd made a motion to censure the Dean for outrageous conduct and then led the faculty, more or less en masse, into his office the next day to tell him he must resign.He declined.When I left the next month to be a visitor at Ohio State until the summer, I was certainly hoping they would make me a permanent offer.I was also, as explained in previous posts, exploring being a gay man for the first time. At the Columbus gay bars I, of course, encountered the OSU gay law students, and they were very helpful in teaching me the ways of the homosexual world as it existed in 1976.Tim was among this crowd, and we became fast friends for a number of reasons, especially inclu…

The Legacy of Homophobia

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Consider the Southern Senators in the middle of the last century who loudly opposed civil rights for all, using ugly terms for African Americans and their supporters.Did it occur to them that they were writing themselves into the history books as bigotry personified?In an unsuccessful efforts to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957, South Carolina's Senator Strom Thurmond led the longest filibuster in Senate history (among other things in his 24+ hour rant he read aloud every state's election law in alphabetical order and recited his grandmother's biscuit recipes), while failing to acknowledge he was the father of an illegitimate African American daughter. Would he and the others like him have cared that their names nowadays are synonymous with hypocrisy? 

There are penalties for bigotry, whether private or public, and eventually these people are an embarrassment to all who knew them or learn about them.The history books shame their legacy.


Now take the current crop of public …