It Was Only A Kiss

In this excerpt from Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein ©1961, Jubal Harshaw asks why the girls so enjoy kissing Michael Valentine, “the man from mars”:

“Anne, tell me something. What’s so special about the way that lad kisses?”

Anne looked dreamy and dimpled. “You should have tried it when he invited you to.”

“I’m too old to change my ways. But I’m interested in everything about the boy. Is this actually something different, too?”

Anne pondered it. “Yes.”


“Mike gives a kiss his whole attention.”

“Oh, rats! I do myself. Or did.”

Anne shook her head. “No. Some men try to. I’ve been kissed by men who did a very good job of it indeed. But they don’t really give kissing a woman their whole attention. They can’t. No matter how hard they try, some parts of their minds are on something else. Missing the last bus, maybe– or how their chances are for making the gal– or their own techniques in kissing– or maybe worry about their jobs, or money, or will husband or papa or the neighbors catch on. Or something. Now Mike doesn’t have any technique… but when Mike kisses you he isn’t doing anything else. Not anything. You’re his whole universe for that moment… and the moment is eternal because he doesn’t have any plans and he isn’t going anywhere. Just kissing you.” She shivered. “A woman notices. It’s overwhelming.”


Practical Atheism

Excerpted from Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Solanus Casey by Michael H. Crosby O.E.M. Cap., © 2009:

Solanus Casey interpreted the conflicts of his time as grounded in theoretical or practical atheism. Theoretical atheism involved one’s denial of God’s existence; practical atheism stood for the lack of faith-in-action in people who embraced their culture’s patterns to the detriment of their professed beliefs.

I like the term “practical atheism.”

America abounds in obvious examples.

Tightening the Heartstrings

“What is it that makes you want to write songs? In a way you want to stretch yourself into other people’s hearts. You want to plant yourself there, or at least get a resonance, where other people become a bigger instrument than the one you’re playing. It becomes almost an obsession to touch other people. To write a song that is remembered and taken to heart is a connection, a touching of bases. A thread that runs through all of us. A stab to the heart. Sometimes I think songwriting is about tightening the heartstrings as much as possible without bringing on a heart attack.” ~Keith Richards, from his autobiography Life, © 2010

Trying To Say Things They Couldn’t Say

Excerpted from Keith Richards’ autobiography Life, ©2010:

I was taking in a lot of music then, without really knowing it. England was often under a fog, but there was a fog of words that settled between people too. One didn’t show emotions. One didn’t actually talk much at all. The talk was all around things, codes and euphemisms; some things couldn’t be said or even alluded to. It was a residue of the Victorians and all brilliantly portrayed in those black-and-white movies of the early ’60s– Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, This Sporting Life. And life was black-and-white; the Technicolor was just around the corner, but it wasn’t there yet in 1959. People really do want to touch each other, to the heart. That’s why you have music. If you can’t say it, sing it. Listen to the songs of the period. Heavily pointed and romantic, and trying to say things that they couldn’t say in prose or even on paper. Weather’s fine, 7:30 p.m., wind has died down, P.S. I love you.

I’m discovering, to my delight, that Keith Richards is not at all the man I thought he was.



“Beyond a critical point within a finite space, freedom diminishes as numbers increase. This is as true of humans in the finite space of a planetary ecosystem as it is of gas molecules in a sealed flask. The human question is not how many can possibly survive within the system, but what kind of existence is possible for those who do survive.”  ~Frank Herbert, in Dune

This thought makes me uncomfortable.

I Have Learned

“I have found that to be here and not anywhere else is the key to total concentration. By living in the present, I am in full contact with myself and my environment; my energy is not dissipated and is always available. In the present there are no regrets, as there must be when thinking of the past, and worrying about the future only dilutes our awareness of the present. I have learned to focus all of my concentration on each individual moment, whether it’s a voice on the other end of a phone line, a face looking at me from across a desk, that single eye of a camera, or that rose garden. There is only now, only this moment. There is nothing else. Nothing.”  ~Chuck Norris, from The Secret Power Within © 1996

I had mentioned to Mona that I liked Chuck Connors– The Rifleman, Branded— and she got her Chucks confused and got me a couple of books by Chuck Norris, the martial artist.

It was a happy accident.  Because of it, I’ve read his autobiography, Against All Odds, and the book I excerpted above, and enjoyed them both.

Even though we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, I think Chuck and I would get along fine if we ever meet.

…the delight on my father’s face.

In this excerpt from his autobiography, I Remember ©1991, Dan Rather shares a warm memory from his childhood:

Late one night when I was five or six years old and had long been put to bed, I woke up and heard music being played in the kitchen. This was unusual for such an advanced hour, so I got up, cracked my door open quietly, and peeked to see what was going on.

They didn’t see me, but I glimpsed what looked to me like a magical sight. I didn’t want to disrupt it. My parents were dancing.

They danced for a long time, maybe an hour, off an on, sometimes stopping to fine-tune the radio through the static, trying to bring in one of the outlaw stations across the Mexican border, the ones that carried slow and fast tunes. These outlets were also home to “Doc” John R. Brinkley, once candidate for governor of Kansas, who promised rejuvenation with a “goat gland” treatment that cost $750, which made us laugh our heads off. He was our Johnny Carson.

Doc Brinkley was not on the air that night, so Mother and Father danced through the static, ballads, and all other kinds of music, and they were plainly happier than I’d ever seen them. Mother hummed along much of the time and both were smiling a lot. It was especially sweet and remarkable to see the delight on my father’s face. The pressures of the workday had been lifted from his features; I remember that distinctly.