Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

the recent beheading of another american in iraq made me wonder again why people who are about to be executed don't resist; criminals who are led into the death chamber, these poor souls in iraq.

it's not that i'm calling into question their courage. resisting would do nothing. but that it would do nothing is also the point: if compliance cannot conceivably effect an improvement in your circumstances, why not at least get in a shot at your killer(s)?

i remember ted kennedy saying once that he just hoped that if someone was going to try to assasinate him that the killer would do it from the front so that he could at least get a swing in at the guy.

obviously, there's something psychological going on here. is it that the fear of death is so overpowering and certain that you don't want to get yourself all worked up for nothing? or you can't move, a la deer-in-the-headlights, or that resisting might turn a swift, relatively painless death into a torturous one?

file this under the category of "easy for you to say" but you know that "the ultimate act of defiance" cartoon of the eagle swooping down on the field mouse and the field mouse giving the
eagle the finger? i'd like to think that if i knew that i was going to be beheaded and that it was being videotaped that i would act as the field mouse and fight back or utter an islamic curse, or say something like "you're just mad because i fucked your mother in the ass last night," or SOMETHING.

i hope i'd be a mouse and not a man.

-benjamin harris

take the university of pittsburgh "panthers" getting 7 at the university of connecticut "poodles."

-benjamin harris

-double-edged sword

-lion's share


Thursday, September 23, 2004


"bring on arsenal." that was the headline quote from manchester city manager kevin keegan on espn's soccernet today.

the article itself didn't have keegan uttering those words but if he did--or said anything close--then he is a fool for putting a bee in arsenal's bonnett.

the reason for keegan's bluster: a 7-1 pounding of poor barnsley in an fa cup match, preceeded by a 2-1 win at crystal palace, by far the most overmatched team in the premiership this year.

not exactly like consecutive squashings of man-u and chelsea.

arsenal just broke england's premiership record for consecutive matches without a loss. they are a well-coached, disciplined, talented and proud team.

man city (beloved by me though they are) is an overpaid, underperforming, weak-kneed bunch with a skittish goaltender and a manager who has never played, or coached, defense.

this is my "football" pick of the week. whereever you can find the line, whatever the line is, take arsenal to win.

-benjamin harris

Monday, September 20, 2004

i'm reading donald kuspit's new book "the end of art. i like kuspit a lot. i've read a couple of his books before this one.

you know that scene from the woody allen movie where he tries to pick up the girl who's staring at the painting on the wall in the museum? allen goes up to her and says, "what does it say to you?", and the girl replies with something like, "it speaks to me of the incredible blackness of the universe; of the void and man's insignificance in it." "whaddya doing friday night," allen asks. "committing suicide," the girl says.

that's a pretty good description of the art world--artists and critics--today. it is so dark and gloomy.

i don't mean by that art's subject matter. historically art's themes often have been about suffering and pain--the crucifiction, war, etc.--because art is so empathic and empathy means to experience what someone else is feeling and we often want others to feel the pain that we feel or see.

rather, what i mean is that art--artists and critics--is so negative and takes itself so seriously. "the end of art." how much more negative, how much more seriously can you take yourself as to proclaim that? "art after the end of art," by arthur danto and "art after the end of art and after," by joseph kosuth are two more very well-regarded books on art theory.

the end of art. really? is it that bad? kuspit is critical, bitterly so, of post-modern art. from what i can tell the post-modernists deserve to be flayed. but are frank stella, allan kaprow, cindy sherman and damien hirst, et al charlatans, who have always been charlatans? really, that's what kuspit says. have they succeeded in fooling most of the cognescenti most of the time?

from my job experience and belief system i can accept that there are people who are born charlatans. and those who are born saints; those who are born criminals, and those who are born leaders. but in my experience and belief system such people are exceedingly rare. most of us are a combination of all of those personalities, good and evil.

so it's hard for me to believe that all of those prominent contemporary artists, or "artists," had a charlatan personality type and decided that of all the snake oil that they could get by with selling that it was art that they chose.

i tend to think that they and the other post-modernists are as well-meaning and serious about trying to do good art as donald kuspit is trying to do good art criticism. their art is apparently not his art and my art may not be your art but to be so dismissive of an entire movement and of so many artists seems fishy.

for a very long time now art has been seen as searching for itself. there is no accepted way of doing art. the most fundamental issues about the field are open for debate: what is art, what is good art, how do we judge art. all of those questions are on the table and have been for 40-50 years.

it's very disconcerting. i have argued here previously that i do not think the art world is in "crisis", that just as it always has been, it is now the future of what society and other serious fields, like physics and philosophy, will become, that is decentralized, without a dominant "paradigm" to answer a priori those fundamental questions for us before we even start, but that's the hokum "theory" of a diletantte and sometimes however you answer or want to address those fundamental questions you just need to step back. and enjoy. enjoy art, and life. look at what's being made today under the guise of art and try it.

it seems to me that the bitter criticism in art today, and the categoricals used by kuspit and others are a mask for all this uncertainty.

anytime someone or something is characterized in terms a synonym for which would be "demonization," alarm bells go off in my head.

donald kuspit is critical, bitterly so, of the

it is not the dark subject matter

Friday, September 17, 2004


nebraska is a 4 point favorite to beat the university pittsburgh in a college tackle football game tomorrow. putting a 2 in front of the 4 would be closer to the truth.

empty your savings account and bet it all on "N."

-benjamin harris

Thursday, September 16, 2004

the excerpt from "remembrance of things past" in the preceding post is one of those rare "impressions" that will stay with me for the rest of my life, like when i first heard bach's brandenburgs, the first time i heard sarah vaughns singing, when i first tasted uesquebach scotch on my first night in cambridge at a restaurant in harvard square, when i had a particular cake with successive layers of chocolate, raspberries, and almonds at dinner at the rose inn in upstate new york one christmas vacation many years ago.

i read that excerpt this afternoon and immediately knew that i had to post it as one of the most profound things i'd ever read. although "remembrance" is a novel, that excerpt is philosophy. as i typed it a little while ago i was reminded, in its wisdom, economy and especially tone, of "desiderata,"--you know "go placidly...", etc.--that was so popular in the 1970's and was actually put to song. i'm sure "desiderata" is scoffed at by others and the comparison to proust considered outrageous but to this lump of mediocrity "desiderata" was beautiful, instructive and wise.

a more well-received comparison would be with marcus auerilius' "meditations." i remember prof michael sugrue's lecture on the "meditations" in one of the teaching company's tapes. he said that there has never been any book like it, so measured, reflective, spiritually generous, practical, instructive and wise, AND that was written by the most powerful man in the world at the time.

as it turns out, prof sugrue was also the teaching company's lecturer on "remembrance." he said that of all the world's literary masterpieces it is probably the least read. i am on page 924, and am less than one-third the way through it. that's undoubtedly the most important reason. too, proust wrote in hegelian-length sentences with so many clauses and parentheticals that you have to read many of the sentence three times, once straight through as you come onto it, another skipping the parentheticals so that you can get the primary import, and then again straight through.

third, it is a translation from the french. i have written here previously on the hazards of reading translations (see "lost in translation" from the summer of '03). there is just no way that something, especially a work of literature with its nuances of tone and emotion, can be translated with 100% fidelity into a different language even though the translation that i'm reading, by moncrieff and kilmartin is almost miraculous. now, i don't read french but i've read enough translated books to know, or at least sense, that this translation could not possibly have been done better.

fourth, however transcendent the message, a 3,000 page novel written by a "foreigner," and set in a foreign culture is a distancing piece of work. the places are not familiar, the names don't have familiar sounds, there is far less of the congruity of shared history and experience that reader and author have than in a work of american fiction.

finally, proust was just an odd guy, a confessed and obvious neurotic who literally saw nerve-fraying complexity in the physics of the kiss.

the mind tends to wander when reading this book.

but the mind wanders at its peril because there are so many, and so frequently occurring , passages of INSIGHT comparable to the excerpt that i posted, that you want to go back and re-read because of the chance that you glossed over something great.

there's no point in someone like me trying to sum up the novel, hell i'm only 1/3 of the way through it, and i won't be capable of doing that when i'm done either. even for sugrue, it must have been embarrasing for him to be given the job of summarizing the book in two 45 minute lectures.

but there are many passages similar to the above and most importantly for me personally "remembrance" has given me, in the section "swann in love," a start at understanding the great love of my life, and the loss of that love. as proust says at one point, sometimes when we understand something intellectually we can put it in a place in our brain that the rest of us is safe from. we can contain it.

i never went through anything as hard as i did last summer and fall in trying to understand my own situation and i failed. proust's section on charles swann's relationship with odette de crecy gave me an intellectual archetechtonicus to begin to understand it. an emotional and spiritual resolution may or may not follow. i always think about the writings of nietzsche, kirkegaard and proust on the seperation of intellect and soul and the impossiblity, sometimes, of understanding to overcome or salve an unwell soul.

but i've got 2,000 pages to go and proust has already given me reason to believe that "we must not repudiate" any of the "lives," however difficult, that we have lived because they are part of our individual journey, "proof that we have really lived," and in the end we may have "extracted something that transcends them."

-benjamin harris

" 'there is no man,' he began, 'however wise, who has not at some period of his youth said things, or lived a life, the memory of which is so unpleasant to him that he would gladly expunge it. and yet he ought not entirely to regret it, because he cannot be certain that he has indeed become a wise man--so far as it is possible for any of us to be wise--unless he has passed through all the fatuous or unwholesome incarnations by which that ultimate stage must be preceded. i know that there are young people, the sons and grandsons of dstinguished men, whose masters have instilled into them nobility of mind and moral refinement from their schooldays. they may perhaps have nothing to retract from their past lives; they could publish a signed account of everything they have ever said or done; but they are poor creatures, feeble descendants of doctrinaires, and their wisdom is negative and sterile. we do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world. the lives that you admire, the attitudes that seem noble to you, have not been shaped by a paterfamilias or a schoolmaster, they have sprung from very different beginnings, having been influenced by everything evil or commonplace that prevailed round about them. they represent a struggle and a victory. i can see that the picture of what we were at an earlier stage may not be recognisable and cannot, certainly, be pleasing to contemplate in later life. but we must not repudiate it, for it is a proof that we have really lived, that it is in accordance with the laws of life and of the mind that we have, from the common elements of life, of the life of studios, of artistic groups--assuming one is a painter--extracted something that transcends them.' "

-marcel proust, "remembrance of things past."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


'member that line from "as good as it gets?"

i have grown weary of shop-worn (there's another one) metaphors, so when i assume full dictatorial powers the following shall be banished from the language:

"Gordian knot."

"between a rock and a hard place."

"[(s)he took to it like a duck to water."


"landmark," as in "landmark decision" to describe an allegedly important ruling by the supremes.

"achilles heel."

"pandora's box."

"pyrric victory."


"landslide." some metaphors are almost exclusively context-specific. ever hear of a sports team winning in a "landslide?" why is it that ONLY in politics is a one-sided defeat described with use of this metaphor? see below.

it's hard to write, as i've discovered in the last 2 1/2 years here, and the use of such hackneyed language is just a crutch for us when we get lazy about writing. instead of trying to write something simply and clearly we lean on this crap. maybe we think it makes us sound smart but it really just makes us sound lazy and cliched.

(more to come)

Sunday, September 12, 2004



how 'bout dem wrinkled grapes! fresno state followed up their win at the university of washington with a 45-21 thrashing of kansas state in manhattan. the only downer there is that one of our beloved state schools was the victim, but ksu has had a lot of success the last good while. this win was good for underdogdom generally.

it was altogether a good saturday for underdogs in college tackle football. southern mississippi beat nebraska 21-17; TROY STATE, TROY FRIGGIN' STATE! BEAT THE RANKED MISSOURI "SHOW-ME'S" 24-14.

there was some cognitive dissonance a la fresno/ksu though in boise state's thumping of the "beavers" of oregon state 53-34 and mississippi state got killed by auburn 43-14.

other underdog losers were the new mexico state "deserts" in a 41-14 squeaker to cal and the washington state "apples" lost 20-12 to one of my most-hated "university ofs...", the colorado "rapists". but hey, you can't be an underdog without such depressing setbacks.

-benjamin harris

Friday, September 10, 2004


heard on npr a little while ago that the composer of that little jingle from 1971 died last week. his name was billy davis.

god, i hadn't thought of that song in so long. i've had "love will keep us together" get stuck in my head a few times since 1971 but not the coke song.

pop songs bring back memories of course. i don't know why that is exactly but we sometimes precisely associate them with an event, often a romance. such-and-such was "our song, "etc.

significantly this song brought back a mood, a happy, light mood that was in stark contrast to it's era. arthur danto has written that the 1970's were a cultural dark age, as dark as the 10th century. for all of us who came of age in that decade: ouch. but think about it; it's hard to argue with that. the 70's was the era of gerald ford, jimmy carter, disco, the captain and tenille, leisure suits, barry manilow, and baseball uniforms with shorts.

i have written here previously that of course what we mean by a cultural era of this decade or that decade is not defined by a 10-year span. the turbulent, violent 60's didn't begin in 1960. i would argue that they began on november 22, 1963 and lasted until nixon's resignation in 1974.

the goofball, culturally bankrupt 70's began then and lasted, probably till reagan's election with it's "it's morning in america" theme and the start of the "me decade."

"i'd like to buy the world a coke" therefore properly belongs to the sixties. it was a utopian song that went along with some of the utopian "philosophy" of the time, peace symbols, flowers in your hair and all that. in fact, it sounded like it was sung by peter, paul, and mary or the mammas and the pappas, two quintessentially sixties pop groups.

the npr report reminded me that that damn little song was sung ALL OVER THE WORLD. it really did have universal appeal. it made everybody sing and smile. it was also turned into a hit single, the references to coke being replaced by "to sing."

npr's classical music critic said that there are similarities between "coke" and beethoven's "ode to joy," now the anthem of the european union.

classical-pop similarities are always suspicious--you know, basketball to ballet--but in this case the comparison rang true. both "songs" are emotionally soaring. you FEEL joy when you hear "joy" just as we did everytime we heard "coke."

whoever-he-was also pointed out that there are structural similarities. the first "part"--i don't know what it's really called in music--in both pieces ends with a "musical question" that is "answered" in the second part. and of course the answer is a resounding affirmative: yes to joy, yes to happiness, yes to hope, yes to our dreams.

the npr guy also said that the lyrics to "joy" were taken from a poem by shiller, some of the lines of which, man's brotherhood for example, are extremely similar to those of "coke's" mankind "holding hands."

so here's to billy davis; he wrote something that lept the bounds of advertising into american popular culture and then soared over those bounds to all the civilizations of the world when that world looked like it could be blown up at any moment.

here's to billy davis. have a coke and a smile.

-benjamin harris

Thursday, September 09, 2004

the poor democrats, they just can't keep their feet out of their mouths on foreign policy, can they?

this is a little dated now but john kerry's grand canyon comment that he would still have voted to give the president authorization to use force in iraq reinforced (1) voters doubts about the demos ability to deal with f.p. issues, and (2) their doubts about kerry's alleged vacillation tendencies.

that is a rare thing, putting both feet in one's mouth at the same time.

the day kerry made the comment i saw my ex-wife at her house and said that i thought he had hurt himself. she is EXTREMELY partisan in this election and replied exasperatedly, "i don't know why, that's what he's been saying all along."


then i guess that i and about 50,000,000 other voters missed it. i and fifty million of my closest friends had thought we had heard kerry giving speech after speech for six months lambasting bush for the war.

kerry spent significant time in his convention speech trying to explain that the criticism of him, that his positions on issues are too "complex," was actually intellectual honesty and not triangulating vacillation. then he blows it at the grand canyon.

it's so frustrating because this needn't have happened. i don't know if kerry was playing to his base with his criticisms or what but he or someone in that campaign should have realized that the natural follow-up to those speeches was going to be "ok, so knowing what you know now, how would you have voted?"

kerry is a good man, the weightiest candidate on military matters that the demos have had in a long time. he voted for the force authorization resolution. he should have left it there and SHUT THE FUCK UP. he should have turned his focus onto economic issues, his, and the demos, natural strength.

the way for a democrat to beat bush this year is/was to be pretty quiet about f.p., say all the platitudinous things about "the war on terror" and COUNTERPUNCH when flight boy started making his comparisons to churchill.

here's complexity for kerry that even his complex intellect apparently can't grasp. most voters still view the decision to go to war as the right thing to do, even though they don't like the way the post-end-of-major-hostilities period went and the cost of the whole thing.

but iraq as an issue is pretty much dead. it's over. we've turned over authority to the iraqis and while voters don't like americans continually getting killed over there they accept that our presence there is needed and will be for some time.

now, since voters think all of those things, where exactly is the political opening for a candidate to criticize the war? IT ISN'T THERE!

the best thing for kerry to have done/do is to wait for bush to overplay his hand and then counterpunch. instead it was kerry who, for "complex" unknown reasons overplayed his hand.

now voters are left with these doubts about where kerry really stands and who he really is. they don't know if they can trust him with being commander in chief.

it's still early and kerry is a famously strong finisher and there apparently is going to be a shakeup in his campaign to develop a simple (i.e. not complex) message and stick with it. he can still pull this out but he's dug himself a hole and then stepped right into it.

the dumbass.

-benjamin harris

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


did you see that the fresno state raisins, or whatever they're called, beat no killed a "university of..." in this case washington? that's a two-fer. a state school wins and a "university of..." is beaten by them.

rutgers a woebegone "university of..." wannabe (full name is "rutgers, the state university of new jersey") beat michigan state. how embarassing for m.s.u.

i must drop idaho state from the list, it being pointed out to me that they don't even play div. IA tackle football. good-bye to the aryan nationists, and sorry.

why not auburn as a replacement for idaho state? they fit the bill in every way being the second school in alabama. because they are the most penalized program in college tackle football history. they've been put on probation something like 8 times. you just can't do that. a true second school accepts its caste but struggles nobly against it. it doesn't pay recruits.

-benjamin harris


Eva loved horses and could hitch up a horse to a buggy or a cart and drive as well as a boy. when she rode a horse she rode at a gallop. She had long wavy brown hair that hung to her waist, and when she rode she drew many admiring glances as she galloped along, her long hair flying. she became a teacher and taught in the garman school and at greenwich. she married hale mcanulty who became a very successful doctor with his office in nanty glo. their daughter, rhea married attorney john w. taylor and they lived in Ebensburg.

Ernest didn't like school but loved to read. He liked the outdoors, hunting and fishing, and he was an excellent ice-skater. he became the manager of a garage in emeigh. he married madge griffith. their daughter, June married James Mulvichill, children Dona, Leslie, Debbie, and Janet. The lived in Riverdale Maryland.

From the time he was a small child, Harry lugged around an old satchel and proclaimed himself a doctor. But, of course, even doctors if they are raised on a farm have to take their share of the farm work as did each of the boys. Harry was always a willing worker in anything he did. He, too, became a teacher before going to Medical College in Pittsburgh. After graduation he served two years as intern in St. John's Hospital in Pittsburgh. He married Velma Montgomery and located in Emeign. Later his office was in Barnesboro. He became a very successful surgeion and was chief of staff at the Miners Hospital in Spangler. He built a lovely red brick house where our old farmhouse had been and lived there until his death in 1960. This house is now owned by Dr. Peter Korch, a Barnesboro dentist.

In 1890, our new white house on the farm was built and the family moved in. Here, on August 13, 1890 I was born. I was a scrawny light-haired youngster, sucking my thumb and twisting my hair with the other hand. I loved school and learned many poems, many that I remember and can repeat today. I graduated from our two-year high school in the 1908 class. Our was the thrid class to be graduated from our new high school. By attending summer Teachers' Training School conducted in Barnesboro each summer by Professor C.B. DeLancey, I passed the Teachers' Examination and began teaching at eighteen in Susquehanna Township.

(to be continued)

Monday, September 06, 2004


The next day, I don't know if it was before or after court, I called Mary and asked her if she would come down to my office.

I always keep my door closed and a few moments later there was a soft knock. "Come in," I said and Mary opened the door and closed it behind her. My office was small and crowded. She took just a step inside. I came from around my desk and we kissed and embraced.

This time of course there was no hesitancy at the unknown, no anxiety that I had read the signs incorrectly. I began to take off her dress but she relieved me of the task.

One of the erotic things about Mary was her coolness in passion. When the rubicon had been crossed with my open-mouthed kiss on the back of her neck the previous day there was just a barely perceptible arch in her back in reaction. She betrayed nothing of what was happening to the person on the other end of the phone line and ended the call in the normal course, if as quickly as possible. It was not the Brad Pitt-I-forget-the-actress's-name scene in Thelma and Louise with bodies flying and furniture breaking.

So too this day in my office. As she undressed, there was a self-assuredness or certainly an unabashedness. I remember thinking on this occasion and others, in one of which we almost got caught having sex, that this imperturbability must have served her well in the crises that come with child-rearing.

I don't remember the details of her undressing, just the last one, where the last segment of garment was removed, in this case her pantyhose from her right foot. She dropped them to the floor. This was my first time seeing Mary's feet. They were nice, pedicured with red polish.

She stood now before me completely nude. I don't remember the exact next step but very shortly I removed everything from the top of my desk and laid her there. Although I had licked her vagina the previous day, this was the first time that it had been exposed as fully as it is when a woman is on her back with her legs spread.

Her vagina was beautiful. Larry Flint once said, in justification for his publications' crotch shots, that there is as much difference--I don't know if he said character--in a woman's vagina as in her face. It was one of Flint's typically outrageous statements and was taken as such but I believe that it is pretty nearly true.

There is such a proliferation of porn these days, in magazines and especially on the internet, that showing the vagina is hardly less shocking for a woman than showing her breasts was in Playboy's early days. Most famously, or notoriously, of course, was Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct.

Mary had an "innie." the lips of her vulva were not distended, everything was inside. It's not that one is preferable to another; some men attribute "outies" to older women who have had children. I'm sure there's some correlation there but I think the difference is as much in DNA as in "use" or trauma.

I found Mary's innie vagina very pretty and erotic, especially since it was completely shaved. Her clitoris was small. She was well-lubricated and had a very good scent.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote to his daughter imploring her on matters of hygiene to make sure that she did not give off "disgusting" odors. He clearly did not have vaginal smell in mind but for me especially, and I think for most men, a woman's smells must be clean.

Mary was clean. Her breath was clean, her vagina was clean and wonderfully musky. I performed oral sex on her eagerly and could have done it indefinitely, so do I enjoy it on any woman. I paused briefly to kiss her right foot and suck her toes. To my delight and relief, her feet too were perfectly clean.

I went back to performing oral sex on her but then she pulled my head up and said "come up here." we then had full sex together right on top of my desk.

Her vagina was lubricated and tight and Mary moaned quietly as I thrust. I held her right leg up by the ankle with my left hand. Her left leg drooped over the lip of my desk. Again I kissed and sucked her toes. "Do you know how long I've wanted you to do this," she said.

"Cum," she said in a way and with a look on her face that can only be called "imploring," as is so often used in descriptions like this, and I thrust a few more times and then did. We clenched briefly as I spasmed and then we decoupled. She quickly got up and used a paper towel to wipe away the leaking semen.

I felt awkward as she dressed, it taking a woman longer than a man, but again, everything she did, undressing, wiping herself, getting dressed again, she did with imperturbability.

I don't remember any more of the details except that she then left.

-benjamin harris

Before a trial starts the tension is great. In anticipation of the need, the mind enhances all the senses.

On the morning of the trial my sexual desire was therefore heightened. I knew that Mary would be in her office. After two decades of interacting as co-workers there had been, in the preceding year or two, an unmistakable, continuous and source-unknown attention, in that special way, that she had paid to me: compliments on my appearance, an occasional "Sexy! said to me.

I had never been aroused by her before but her attention made me aroused and made me see the sexually attractive things about her: he wonderful long legs, accentuated by her short skirts and high heels; her middle-of-the-back long brown hair.

So I reciprocated the attention. I would make it a point to stop by her office to make sure she saw me. I became bolder. I would play with her hair. I began to give her a "see you later" kiss on the lips when my brief visits ended. Occasionally during these brief kisses she'd cup the back of my head with her hand, not aggressively holding me there, but just adding to the physical contact.

A couple of times I had determined to make an overt sexual advance. I would hover in the area around her office waiting for "the right moment" but I lost my nerve.

On the morning of this trial I spontaneously decided to act. It was before 9 am. There would be few people about in her area of the office. I went up to her floor and cardswiped my way into her area. Her office was right around the corner.

I stepped into her doorway and she was at her desk on the phone. I walked behind her. She leaned back and I kissed her on the lips. I gathered a bunch of her hair in my hands. I kissed her on the nape of her neck. Then I opened my mouth on the back of her neck. Barely perceptibly her back straightened a little.

fAew moments later she finished her phone call. She stood up. We smiled nervously at each other. I stepped from behind her desk and went to close and lock her door.

I went back to her and we French-kissed. I open-mouth kissed the front of her neck. She held my head between her hands, her fingernails well-manicured and painted bright red, he wedding band on one hand, her engagement ring on the other.

I ran my hands briefly over her dress covering her breasts and then quickly down her torso to the hem of her dress. I lifted up the hem and rubbed her vagina through her pantyhose, white and a nice contrast to the red of her dress.

"Do you know how long I've wanted you to do this?," she said. Her pantyhose were tight around her middle. She had had two children and had some weight there. We disengaged momentarily while I struggled to get them below her crotch. When I had succeeded I put my hand down her panties and rubbed her vagina and clitoris and penetrated her with my finger.

"Umm, you shave your pussy," I said, surprised and more aroused. "umm-HMM," she said knowing the effect.

I took her pantyhose and panties off down to her knees and continued to rub her. I took her right breast out. It was large and full with none of the sagging that comes with child-weaning and aging. I sucked the nipple.

I went down between her legs with my mouth and licked her vagina.

Afraid that someone might come calling on her at any moment, I broke off, French-kissed her, sheepishly smiled and said "see you later" and left.

-Benjamin Harris
when my son was born i used to hold him and sing louis armstrong's "what a wonderful world" substituting "boy" for "world" in my elation.

he has always been my golden-haired golden boy and has the sweetest most kindly disposition.

but he's 15 now and for the last couple years dad has NOT been cool. attempts to engage him in conversation are met with monosyllabic grunts. his underperformance in school has us constantly at odds.

on thursday he broke a bone in his hand skateboarding. i took him to the emergency room at 9 pm and we left at 3 am. not a whole lot of bonding potential there. but a bonding experience it turned into.

i didn't have work on friday, my position was immutable, so i just made the most of it. in the waiting room a heavyset, big-bosomed woman waddled in. i leaned over and whispered to my son, "emergency breast reduction surgery." he cracked up.

i had brought some books and two decks of cards, a poker deck and an uno set we played those. in our late-night punch-drunkness we played a game where one of us had the poker deck and the other tried to guess which card was on the bottom. we went through the whole deck that way, card by card.

i swear, before i became too tired to concentrate, there were times when i just KNEW what card was next. in my first try i correctly guessed four of the 58 (two jokers), including two in a row. maybe that doestn't sound impressive but consider the odds. mind over matter maybe.

it wasn't my esp though that made the night. it was the fun we had together and my delight in seeing the innocent surprise in his face when the blind pig found the acorn, the serene goodness in his laugh when he "just missed" guessing the card correctly, e.g. guessing a five of diamonds when the card was a five of hearts.

we were shuttled from room to room as per medical school's "how to drive a patient nuts 101" procedure and ended up in examination room #3 for three hours. in addition to playing the guessing game we started playing with the medical equipment in there. they had one of those scopes that they use to look in your eyes and ears. we did that. the door to the room was open and he would reach for the scope or something else and then hear footsteps nearby and instantly get the "hand caught in the cookie jar" look on his face. i laughed hard and so did he. he's such a good young man that even something as innocuous as that stirs guilt that his personality can't hide.

we started to get destructive impulses as a guerilla tactic to get back at our captors. stck one of the ear probes in our anus and then put it back. more juvenile laughter.

there was a liquid soap dispenser by the door. i gave it a couple pumps and squirted it on the floor right at the entrance to the room. it was very slippery. we imagined the doctor coming in and slipping and falling on it. more laughter. but my good-hearted boy cleaned it up with a towel, afraid that the doctor might in fact slip on it.

they had given him an ice bag to put on his hand but the insulation prevented the thing from getting much below 50 degrees. we laughed at the absurdity of that.

as we were leaving the nurse asked us if we wanted a new ice bag. deadpan i said, "no, we're fine but that thing was great. it really helped." i caught my son's face in the reflection off the glass entryway. he was smiling, stifling a laugh and shaking his head at his dad's mischievevousness.

two days later we were in the car together and he said, "we had fun at the doctor's office." yes we did. that comment'll carry me through quite a few future bumps in the road.

-benjamin harris
bad, surprising (to me) for the democrats. two post-gop convention polls have bush up DOUBLE DIGITS. kerry got NO bounce out of the demos convention. i, and most of the cognescenti, chalked that up to the unusual extent to which voters had made up their minds this year. polarized electorate, etc. not so apparently.

heard on npr that every candidate who has led in the polls on labor day went on to win in november. but no candidate who had been the leading money-raiser in the year preceeding an election had ever lost his party's nomination. until howard dean this year. so this is not a "normal" year.

still, big meeting coming up in the kerry campaign supposedly leading to a "reorganization." after iowa kerry fired his campaign head and bought in bob shrum. although long a top strategist, shrum had never won the "big one," i think the nomination, not the presidency. so shrum maybe out.

-benjamin harris

i am getting hurricane fatigue

i am getting hurricane fatigue. frances made me tense and then petered out. now ivan is in the caribbean and could turn into a category 5. PLEASE go somewhere else.