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News from the Front



A conversation I had this morning with my sister stationed in Iraq.


Her: Hey little brother.

Me: Oh, hey sis! How's it going?

Her: Good. I got your package.

(I laugh) Me: Including the birthday card?

Her: Yes. I laughed. Good timing too, since it arrived today.

Me: Oh, yeah. Happy birthday. You 40 yet?

Her: 36.

Me: Close enough.

Her: Well, Mom tells me you were moving to Texas.

Me: Aigh! For crying out loud, I'm not moving to Texas.

Her: I'm just repeating what I've been told. She said you were looking at schools out there.

Me: Yeah, two years ago, when I got my degree and suddenly realized I was an adult.

Her: I thought you went last week.

Me: I did, but it wasn't to find a grad school. It was for gay sex. (True, as far as it goes).

Her: You went all the way to Texas for a booty call?

Me: What can I say? I have simple needs.

Her: You are as bad as your sister.

Me: Sisters. You're the one that told me at 13 that Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.


This tour of duty is a lot harder on her than the last was, as bad as the last got towards the end. The birthday card I sent her was a more sentimental one, saying on the front something along the lines of "Happy birthday sister. Though we may not have always gotten along over the years, I've always thought you were pretty special...." Inside the card it said something goopy, but I crossed that out and wrote "Just don't ask what kind of special. Here's a hint, it involves short buses."


On the heels of last week, I picked up the rest of Tanya Huff's "Smoke" trilogy. I like them quite a bit, not least of which because the main character is a 24-year-old gay man with a finely honed sense of the ridiculous. Admittedly, they aren't as funny as her "Keeper" novels, but how can I not like a story with lines such as "Given his adversarial relationship with the police, Tony still wasn't sure why he'd told Jack and his partner Geetha Danvers the truth about what happened in the house....Maybe he'd hoped it keep them from hanging around and scowling suspiciously at all and sundry. It had worked on Constable Danvers, not that she'd been the scowling and suspicious sort to begin with, but it'd done sweet f**K all to get Jack Elson out of his life." Taken as a whole, it brought to mind a distinction between male and female heroes in fantasy works. Properly speaking, the hero's journey ends when he has found his place in the world and earned the recognition of his people. A heroine's journey ends when she's married, or at least coupled. A bit sexist, but generally true, as far as stories go. Since Tony spends part in all three novels playing at various times the damsel in distress, the noble warrior, and the world-wise wizard, it is perhaps unsurprising that Ms. Huff doesn't let the story end until Tony gets both his recognition and his man.


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