Saturday, July 04, 2009

Fading away

Mom's favorite Campbell's soup was Chunky Vegetable Beef, a hearty concoction that was true to its name with hearty chunks of beef and vegetables in a thick beef broth, not quite beef stew, but the next step down. What she didn't realize is that the flavor was enhanced by wine, an ordinary wine to be sure, but wine all the same. It's a flavor I easily recognized and enjoyed on many occasions, but I should have kept the information to myself and not told Mom. She quit buying the soup.

I offered her a bowl when I made some the last time I visited. "No, it has alcohol in it."

"Mom, there's no alcohol in it."

"The label says it has wine. That's alcohol and I don't touch alcohol."

"The alcohol is burned off. All that's left is the flavor of the wine, an ordinary wine to be sure, but there's no alcohol."

"It says wine and that's enough for me. No, thank you."

Mom does not drink wine, or alcohol in any form, because of her religious beliefs. In fact, she won't patronize any restaurant or store or establishment where alcohol is available because someone from her church or someone who knows of her oft touted religious beliefs would see her going in or coming out and immediately assume she's after alcohol. The only concession she makes is the grocery store. "Well, I do have to eat. Don't I?" She sticks out her chest and her chin and defies anyone to to accuse her falsely. After all, she has no other choice. She could have her groceries delivered so she doesn't have to go into the store where they sell alcohol, but that would mean ten dollars less for junk food and jewelry.

I remember when Mom did drink, although she swears she just carried a drink around parties and didn't actually have any of it. She was just being sociable. I remember my parents' parties and I remember Mom with a drink in her hand, usually rum and Coke. I also remember how the level in her glass had a tendency to change frequently, from full to empty and back to full again. Must have been evaporation, although I doubt it. Panama is a rain forest and evaporation happens slowly, if at all. I even remember the night she stumbled into the bedroom and shut the curtain. Giggles and the rustle of clothing preceded a muffled thump as my parents fell onto the bed. It was shortly after that we found out she was pregnant.

There was alcohol in our house and lots of parties until we moved to North Olmsted and Mom started going to the Baptist church down the street. One day, the blue smoke that followed her everywhere ceased and she threw out a newly opened carton of Winstons. Alcohol was banned. Mom got religious and the smell of stale cigarettes slowly dissipated. I was fourteen at the time.

When we moved back to Columbus, Dad remodeled the basement and put a bar down in the family room. Drinks were served whenever Cal and Kay Kinsley came over, but Mom no longer carried a magical glass of rum and Coke. No liquor touched her lips again, except for the soup and that was only until I spilled the beans a couple decades later.

Mom stopped having fun when she gave up the cigarettes and alcohol and the cartload of cigarettes bought once a month at the commissary at Rickenbacker AFB was less full. Only Gram, Grandpa and Aunt Joan, my mother's family, still smoked. Dad had never been much of a smoker, having a cigarette only when there were parties, which became rare as hen's teeth. Eventually Dad gave in and followed Mom to church and the bar in the basement was cleaned out of alcohol.

When you get right down to it, I think Mom is afraid to enjoy herself. Her father was an alcoholic and drank away a considerable fortune before he came to his senses, all of which happened long before I was old enough to understand what was happening. Mom was afraid she'd become an alcoholic like Grandpa. Her brother, Bob, was well on his way to an alcoholic future until his six-year-old son, Mike, told him he couldn't wait to grow up and drink the same beer and smoke the same cigarettes that Daddy did. Uncle Bob didn't give up having a good time though; he just does it without the alcohol. Mom either won't or can't enjoy herself unless she's spending money and eating junk food, anything to replace what's gone from her life. She does, however, still cling to her narcotics for her pain and to be able to sleep, but that will doubtless never change. She has learned her limits and rations her medications, but not her spending or her junk foods.

That's the thing about people coming from families with addictions. They either follow the addiction, adding a few twists or substances of their own, or refuse to go near anything that makes them feel so good they might become addicted -- even love.

A friend told me a few years ago that he'd never tried alcohol or pot. "Why?" I asked him. "Because I might enjoy it."

The fear of enjoying anything too much is ever present and it extends to everything that end in a spiral into oblivion with a smile and the feeling of peace and joy running rampant. What they fail to realize is that such tight control is just as bad, if not worse, than giving in and giving up control. Unbending control strangles every aspect of life until all that is left is a joyless darkness that paints everything black. Losing control is an overriding fear and even the simple joy of falling in love and giving in to losing oneself in communion with another is terrifying. The answer for these control freaks is either abstinence or rationing.

How do you ration love? How do you ration the feeling of excitement at being with the one person that makes you feel as though you could fly? How do you measure out time when time has no meaning when you're together? You don't.

Instead, you keep putting off seeing or being with the person who makes you feel so good that you're willing to give up everything to be with them until the very thought of seeing them again fills you with fear. A couple of weeks becomes a month and the month stretches to three, four, five months. You're paralyzed by fear and you dare not let them know because you're afraid that the won't understand. You make excuses. You find other ways of keeping in touch without them knowing. And if they find out you've been watching from the shadows, you ration that as well.

How much time, how many kisses and caresses, how much physical contact does it take before feeling good is too good? How many minutes before the sense of falling into bliss is too strong to pull back? It's not narcotics or drugs or alcohol, it's love. There are worse things than being addicted to love, especially when it's not the idea of love but a person.

Living like that is emotional constipation and there's no emotional Ex-Lax to move things along. In essence, rationing love and joy becomes emotional castration. Live long enough like that, and your capacity to feel and give love diminishes, slowly at first and then more quickly. Any return of feeling is like being struck by lightning, an emotional shock to the system that overloads mind and heart, until the only answer is a new addiction, like jewelry and junk food or physical and mental exertion, anything to keep the mind occupied and the heart engaged only in mechanical mode pumping blood and keeping the body alive. It's no way to live because it's not living. It is merely existing.

Wouldn't it be better to burn out than fade away?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The long and short of it

I came to a screeching halt while reading Texas Heat by Debra White Smith. It happened several times during the course of the book, but when I hit one particular sentence I couldn't go on and packed it in for the night. Ms. White Smith has over fifty books in print and even she got it wrong. It could be because she likes the word and uses it frequently or maybe she didn't take the time to edit her work, but someone of the many people who read and edited the book from manuscript to printed stage should have caught it.

Page 138:"For some reason Charli Friedmont had dumped him for a looser."

For looser what? Bonds? Clothes? Grammatical senses?

The word is LOSE. There is no substitute and it's not a matter of mixing up tenses (past, present, future, future perfect, etc.) He didn't want to LOSE her.

So many people make the same mistake, but for some reason they always switch LOOSE with LOSE. It's a simple fix and doesn't need to be an issue. When editing, read your work out loud and you'll hear what's wrong when your eyes are glazed with lack of sleep and poring over printed page after printed page. Spell check won't find it because it's spelled right, so you'll have to be more careful about that.

LOSE is from the verb TO LOSE.

They LOSE.
We/They LOST.
You are going to LOSE all credibility if you keep misusing LOSE.

LOOSE has many grammatical jobs.

Your pants are so LOOSE you might LOSE them if you don't get a belt.
You're going to LOSE credibility as a writer if you let your hold on grammar get LOOSE.
She is going to LOSE that LOOSE tooth.
Let LOOSE of my arm or I'm going to LOSE my temper.

It's simple to see the difference and even simpler to hear it. If you're unsure, or just a lazy typer, read your sentences aloud and make sure you have the right number of Os in your words.

Lose and loose aren't the only ones to give some people problems. There are also CHOOSE and CHOSE. The difference here is that they are present and past tense of the same verb: TO CHOOSE.

I, you, we, they CHOOSE.
I, you, we, she, he, they CHOSE.
I, he, she was CHOSEN.
We, they, you were CHOSEN.

You CHOOSE to make mistakes, but I CHOSE to fix them.
I CHOOSE to write about grammar and I CHOSE these words because the are so often misused.

I wonder if the letter "O" is what gives people so much trouble and that's why they make mistakes. I don't think it's a mistake in spelling or typing, but a mistake in understanding, and possibly a pandemic case of laziness. Three words that sound alike and mean something different (homonyms) are: TO, TOO and TWO. A lot of people mix them up.

TO is a preposition, an adverb, a noun and is usually combined with other words as a verb.

I am going TO the store.
You are driving me TO drink.
Get this right or I'm taking you TO the woodshed.

TOO can be used as an adverb or adjective.

Are you TOO lazy or is it TOO hard to remember which word to use?
You are just TOO funny for words.
I want TO go on vacation, TOO.

Two can be an adjective, pronoun or noun.

I've just TWO words to say: bite me.
There are more than TWO ways to do this.
More than TWO mistakes were found.
She chose the TWO of cups.

Grammar isn't that difficult, most of the time, and it can be fun. Grammar is also your best friend if you want to be seen as an intelligent, well read, careful and often read author. It takes so little effort to do it right. So, when in doubt, read it out. Repeat after me. When in doubt, read it out. It takes less time than trying to find mistakes by reading and it's a lot more accurate. You're also less likely to miss something that will make your readers groan and throw your book across the room even when there's no spider or insect to be squashed.

Texas Heat has quite a few more problems hiding in the prose, but that's a subject for the review I'll write later. You can check out my reviews at The Celebrity Cafe (six years and counting) where I wax philosophic about grammar, tortured prose, plot and characterization.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Spiders and tarot

When I went to bed last night I noticed a spider on the ceiling above the bed, right above the pillows. I thought the spiders and I had an agreement. They can wander in any part of the house as long as they stay out of the bedroom.

I read for a while and hoped the spider would move on, but he stayed in the same position for a long time. I kept looking up to see if he'd moved, but he was still there. I wanted him to move on and he obviously waited for me to turn out the light so he could wander down onto the bed and across some part of my body so he could bite me. I didn't agree with his plans, so I gave him a choice. I sat up, pulled out my journal, did a little writing and then decided to pick up the tarot cards and see what inspiration they could give me -- about writing, not about the spider. In the spider's case I decided that if he hadn't moved by the time I finished I'd move him myself.

I shuffled the deck and pulled three cards; Two of Cups, Six of Swords and The Sun.

Photobucket Six of Swords The Sun

This is what the cards suggest to me.

There are two people in a relationship. They are in love and devoted to one another. Like the water that is the element of cups, things have not gone smoothly. There have been calm days and there have been days when things are turbulent and unsettled. Despite it all, they remain together. The Two of Cups reminds me of an old song: Drink to me only with thine eyes and I will pledge with mine. Or leave a kiss within a cup and I'll not ask for wine. (I always hear an Irish tenor when I think of that song.) These two lovers have traveled a difficult and stony road together and apart, but they keep coming back together. They are both wounded by the past and the scars are deep. Obstacles remain and are not easily removed. To remove all the obstacles at once would sink them; they are too deeply embedded. Until they reach the safety of the solid shore it would be dangerous to remove all the obstacles. They have moved through rough water and have reached calm waters where they can rest and reap the rewards of their trials. They are ready to stand together in the clear light of day where they can grow together and have their time in the sun, a time for passion and joy, a time to be together at last.

The Six of Swords suggests to me a time when thoughts have been cloaked, hidden from the light of day, but that time is nearly past. The Sun is the aggressive, powerful and passionate symbol of growth. Nothing is hidden any more. The light seeks out all the dark places, things left unseen and words left unsaid, shining a bright and powerful light on everything and everyone. No more secrets. No more hiding. Everything is clear and plain to be seen. Even behind shuttered windows and heavy drapes, the light breaks through the gloom and depression to light the darkness. It is a joyful time full of life and laughter and promises fulfilled.

These cards may suggest something else to you. Look at the images. Create your own story about what you see. What I see won't be what you see, just as any group of writers given the same theme or image will end up with different stories. Whatever you see in the cards, make it your own. Write it down. Keep it to yourself or share it, but give it a try.

Just like with the spider on the ceiling above my head last night, someone else would have responded in a different way than I did. Experience has a lot to do with why I don't want spiders in my bedroom but will tolerate them anywhere else in the house. A spider bit me in my sleep one night and I woke up with a swollen and hot arm. I ended up taking Benadryl because the swelling was getting worse and hot red streaks spun out like a spider web up and down my arm. The antihistamine took care of the swelling and the streaks and warmth, but it left a mark on my arm and in my mind.

I got up and got the broom, swept the spider off the ceiling and set him on the floor. He headed for another wall and started to climb toward the ceiling again. I decided he wasn't going to leave voluntarily so I cut his stay short -- permanently.

I like spiders. They keep the insect population in check. I don't like spiders in my bedroom. I won't tolerate them there. They can spin their webs anywhere else, roam freely about the rooms but they must stay out of my room or be evicted. I'm a tolerant person and I can take a lot. I can wait as long as it takes as long as there is some forward movement. If nothing happens, like the spider remaining motionless on the ceiling, then I will take action, giving a couple of chances to get moving again. If nothing happens or, worse yet, the same behavior is repeated, I'll end the stand-off. Life is about movement and growth, it's about change. I can handle change. I can even handle endings. I can't handle stagnation and I don't suffer fools -- or recalcitrant spiders. When nothing happens, I take matters into my own hands and make things happen and becomes a use it or lose it situation.

Sometimes people -- and spiders -- get hurt. That's the thing about life, it's often messy and painful, but eventually the sun comes up and life moves on. Only fools waste their lives expecting guarantees and waiting for the right time. Most of the time, the right time is the time when the first step is taken and is followed by another step and another and another and you end up wondering what took you so long and what there was to fear. The answer is usually nothing.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tech wars and terminators

It's actually nippy here today. Before anyone asks, yes, really nippy. I was forced to put on clothing before venturing into the cool confines of my living room. I turned off the fan and donned real clothing, instead of my usual morning uniform of over sized t-shirt or white cotton nightgown now wearing great splotches of black ink. I had an accident with the ink bottle when I filled my fountain pen last night while sitting on the bed. The great spill, as it will now be called, cost me half a bottle of Levenger's finest black ink and another shower, not to mention the damage to the sheet and my nightgown. I only have two nightgowns and that is why I am dressed before dawn instead of lounging around under the faux mink throw with my feet up. The other one is in the laundry that I didn't do over the weekend, along with my over sized t-shirts.

It's also frustrating here this morning. I have no Internet.

I called the phone company because the DSL was wonky yesterday and after a long menu of pushing buttons to respond to a menu-driven idiot system asking me to check the things I'd checked before I called, I finally spoke to a human being. After a few minutes and a couple of tests on the other end (I think they just put you on hold and go for coffee or a restroom break), the result was that I need a technician to come out today to check the wiring. I had this problem before and the guy told me he replaced the crumbling and aged wiring with all brand new, high tech wiring, but maybe he didn't. I suffered through four hours of no Internet access before calling my ISP and asking for a local dial-up number, configured the program, plugged in the phone wire and listened to the tinny sound of the modem dialing, rushing static and then voila! connection at 54 kbps. That's a far cry from the usual light speed. Nothing like crawling along at sub-light speeds. But I was connected and checked my email.

The real reason for going the dial-up route instead of waiting for a technician to show up between the hours of 8 and 12 today was because I needed to get my weekly reviews written and sent so I would get paid this week. With no guarantee my access would be fixed by 10 a.m., I needed to take care of things ahead of schedule, and I'm glad I did. Books read. Check. Reviews written. Check. Email written and reviews attached (I forget the attachment once in a while). Check. Email sent. Check. Done and done. Deadline met.

While I was online checking on some other necessary information, like funds available for paying bills and rent and buying food, I did a little research and reading and engaged in a little Live Journal badinage between one of my favorite LJ friends. He usually has something interesting to say and it often involves food and laughter. Last night was no exception. We talked of callused gun boats, the efficacy of large pink grapefruit to soften and remove said calluses and the farming of maggots for digesting dead flesh. You had to be there. Then I disconnected the dial-up and went to bed early with a book.

This morning, dressed and ready for a quick trip to the grocery store for breakfast foods, I decided to turn on the computer and check email, just to get it out of the way. As the modem began to do its little tonal dance, the line stutter-beeped. I had a voice mail message. Someone called when I was online last night. I unhooked the line, plugged it into the phone and dialed my voice mail. Two messages. The first was from the phone company. They canceled the technician this morning because the problem is an outage in the area. Well, duh! A computer generated phone call will let me know when the outage has been resolved. Oh, goody! It was their problem all along. I figured that out before I answered the 50 stupid questions about whether the modem was plugged in and the cables connected.

One thing I have noticed about technical support is they don't know much about technology and with their kind of support in my bra my boobs would be on the floor. The people usually speak English and reside within the confines of the continental United States, but their expertise is limited to their memorized spiel. Get them off track by asking a pertinent question and explaining that you did the things they're asking you to do before you called and they are completely lost and must go back to the beginning. I often wonder if they're not computer generated menus that just sound like real human beings because they sure don't act like rational, intelligent, tech-savvy people. If that's the current generation of artificial intelligence, I don't think Skynet is going to happen in our lifetime and no terminators will be striding across the landscape over our decomposing flesh and stripped skeletons any time soon.

Long story short: I still have no Internet without dial-up which ties up my phone so I won't know when the outage is fixed. At least I have access and I'm dressed and ready to go outside, get in my car and start driving until I find some quiet, secluded mountain valley to stop, get out and scream until my throat is bloody and my voice fails me. Life is good.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Traveling and domestic adventures

This weekend I was engrossed in one of the review books I received last week and now I want to read more of this particular author's work to see if it was a fluke or she really is that good. There's just something about a good story that spreads laughter and tears in equal measure in well paced and well written prose that gives me a really good reason to shirk my other weekend duties, like doing dishes and laundry and cleaning house, without a second thought. It's what I love most about books, stepping into a world that comes alive around me, especially when I'm in a bit of pain.

I have this tricky rib on the left side of my back that has a tendency to flip out of position and cause my shoulder blade to go wonky, which in turns affects all the muscles on the left side from my shoulder down to the elbow and from my spine to my armpit. Raising my left arm in some positions is painful and all the muscles cramp and spasm. It goes away in time and it finally popped late last night. But while things are out of whack, I like to find a good book to dive into and forget I'm in pain even when I breathe. I forgot about the pain enough that I could make falafel and knead dough to make pita bread yesterday so I could try falafel in pita pockets with homemade tzatziki sauce, which turned out to be not so difficult to make. Next time I think I'll try more cucumber and not so much raw garlic. Maybe I'll roast the garlic first and see what that does to the sauce. It was still good, but a little heavy on the raw garlic.

Kneading dough is what helped pop my shoulder blade and rib back into place so it's good for more than baking bread, which, btw, turned out very nicely.

Since I was traveling in London and Edinburgh over the weekend, I shall have to catch up on my chores this week. At least I don't have anything else scheduled, other than work and writing a couple of reviews, so I have plenty of time, unless of course I get caught up in the other books in the review box or writing a couple of stories that have germinated sufficiently to be committed to paper and grow into something publishable. I feel a little at loose ends right now as though becalmed in the Horse Latitudes waiting for the release of my novel. I still don't have a cover or release date -- that I know of -- and haven't received the final galleys, so I'm getting a bit antsy.

In the meantime, I have to take out the trash, shower, dress and get to work so I can afford this lavish lifestyle with its endless round of chores and muddling through the days and nights. At least it beats boredom.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The hidden secret of NIMH

The human brain is a marvelous organ capable of managing the universe of the body, but its capacity for memory and awareness is one of the more magical seeming functions. The world is filled with diversity and all it takes is the casual mention of an idea or an item and suddenly the world is filled with what was invisible before. For example: Let's say that someone shows a picture of a new car they want or just bought, a car you had previously never seen, suddenly everywhere you go the same car is driving ahead, beside or passing in front of you. Some are dusty and others look like they just drove off the showroom floor. They're everywhere. They didn't just appear; they have been there all the time. The only thing that changed was awareness.

The same is true of everything: stories, books and movie, for instance.

Cruising through the menu at Hulu yesterday, I came across an old favorite animated feature, The Secret of NIMH based on the book by Robert C. O'Brien Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I confess I enjoy animated films with a touch of magic and The Secret of NIMH is one of my favorites. The artistry and beauty of the film and the message of facing one's fears and helping one another is the main focus, right behind the cruelty to lab animals and the experiments of the National Institute of Mental Health that result in the mental and physical evolution of a group of rats and mice. There is another message that is integral to the book and the movie, that evolved rats should no longer live as animals stealing what they need from humans, an echo of which I've become more and more aware since reading Ayn Rand.

There are two factions within the rat community led by the aging Nicodemus. One faction wants to continue living beneath the rose bush in the Fitzgibbons' front yard and stealing what they need from the farmer, such as the electricity that powers and lights their underground world. The other faction wants to leave the rose bush and travel to Thorn Valley to found a farming colony and create their own world independent of humans. They wish to live as an evolving species and not as thieves.

I don't know if either Robert C. O'Brien or Don Bluth, the head animator of the film, realized what they were saying or how that central theme would echo through the intervening years, but the story still holds up. The concept is radical: producing what is needed versus stealing it from those already producing the necessities and luxuries needed. Sound familiar?

The one thought that continues to echo through my mind is that if sentient and evolving rats and mice could figure it out, why can't we?

There are disagreements among the rats of NIMH and none more vocal than Jenner. In the movie, Jenner engineers Nicodemus's death certain that if Nicodemus is gone the rest of the rats will follow him and continue to live by stealing electricity, food and supplies from farmer Fitzgibbons. In the book, Jenner leads seven of the rats on a hardware store raid and are presumed dead, prompting men from NIMH to bulldoze the rose bush to exterminate all the rats.

It isn't the clash between humans and rats that is so interesting, but the underlying theme that sentient and evolved animals like rats understand the need for self determination. The rats understand that they will be discovered if they remain dependent on the farmer and that the only ethical way to live is by producing their own food and necessities. It's a really simple equation, one my grandmother taught me. Determination + Work = Independence and Prosperity. I wonder even now, how the people in this country forgot that simple equation or if they never learned it.

In order to get jelly, we first had to grow and then harvest the grapes from the arbor in the back yard. Produce on the table came from the kitchen garden out back, which had to be tended, nurtured, weeded, watered, harvested and then preserved so we could have fresh corn, tomatoes and vegetables during the winter. It didn't meet all of our needs so my parents worked every day, and even worked a second job when what they earned wasn't enough. We all worked hard and for our efforts we earned a comfortable life. Everyone pitched in. Even as children, we learned how to tend the garden, harvest the produce and fruits that grew in our yard and preserve what we produced.

With the current economic picture, people are more interested in lining up for food stamps, Welfare and government grants instead of lining up for jobs. It shouldn't matter what the job is as long as it ends with a paycheck.

When I lived in Columbus, I saw people on the streets at on off- and on-ramps to the freeways with signs: Will work for food. When I stopped I offered them business cards for the local labor exchange and explained they would get paid at the end of the work day. As I drove away, I watched them either rip up the card or just toss it onto the ground. They didn't really want to work. They wanted a handout. A handout is so much easier and all it requires is standing around waiting.

I've known immigrants who crammed into small apartments and rooms and worked two and three jobs every day of the week to earn enough money to feed themselves and their families, saving a little of what they earned for the day when they could afford a place of their own. They didn't expect handouts; they were willing to work, and it didn't matter what the job was so long as there was a paycheck at the end of the week. There were always a few who would rather steal than earn a living, but they were in the minority. The job didn't matter and they often ended up with grunt work -- washing dishes, cleaning motels and hotels, making and serving food in fast food restaurants, digging ditches, mopping floors, picking produce, etc. The only thing that mattered was being independent and having a chance for a better life, one they didn't have in their home country. In the remaining spare time, they went to night school to learn the language and get an education so they could move on to a better job to earn more money.

With unemployment soaring to and past 10%, and that's only the unemployed who get benefits and haven't fallen through the bureaucratic cracks, more and more people are losing their jobs. Businesses are downsizing and moving their operations offshore to stay alive and compete. Crippling taxes and increased government oversights and regulations force more and more businesses to close. More people out of work means fewer people able to afford luxuries and cutting back on food, clothing and rent and that means more businesses folding or laying off more employees, and it just keeps getting worse. The current administration's response to the economic crisis is to print more money and hand out more food stamps and Welfare checks without facing the fact that they're stealing from the people who are still producing at an ever growing rate until the end result will be the strangulation of the remaining viable businesses as they struggle to meet payrolls and buy the raw and manufactured materials to continue producing. They too will be forced to downsize just to stay alive and that means more people out of work and on the public dole.

It's a vicious and vertiginous downward spiral with no Thorn Valley on the horizon, the effect of too many mouths sucking on the government teat. The government cow is rapidly running dry and the pasture is grazed nearly to the roots. It takes seed to grow more grass and time for the grass to grow, but none of that means anything when the cow is slaughtered to feed all those voracious mouths. In the end, the pasture grass will grow back, but there will be no cow to graze and produce milk. At least, there will be no more cattle to add greenhouse gases to the mix.

I doubt that Robert C. O'Brien or Don Bluth intended their story to be taken in this direction, but the theme is clear for anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the entitlement versus independent production debate. It's not the magic or the Frisbys need to move house that is at the center of The Secret of NIMH, but a group of rats aware that they need to be independent and produce what they need to live. It's amazing how much truth can be found in a children's book and a beautifully animated movie.