four entirely unrelated items

October 12th, 2007 | Uncategorized

1. How ’bout that Doris Lessing?

2. Has anyone seen Amy Goodman lately? She seems to have Bell’s palsy. God, I worry about her. She works too hard. Though I once knew someone who developed this condition from riding her motorcycle without a helmet, so who knows?

3. Disappointed with my foliage time-lapse project, and unwilling to put in the necessary effort to do it properly, I undertook another leaf-related film yesterday. I shot the footage just at dusk in a rather melancholy light. Then set it to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem Spring and Fall: to a Young Child.

4. If you’re in NYC, there’s a release party for Juicy Mother 2 (Comix for Gender Pirates and Sexual Outlaws) at Bluestockings on Saturday night. Here’s more info.

102 Responses to “four entirely unrelated items”

  1. Ginjoint says:

    I was thrilled about Doris Lessing! Although I wonder why she said she wasn’t a feminist…I’m curious if she still feels that way. Of course, I’ve already started reading the inevitable backlash to her winning; wow, apparently there’s no sour grapes like those in the literary world.

    I’m sorry to say that I’m not familiar with Amy Goodman, though thanks to you, now I will be. I also have a great new bookmarked site. Your leaf film was quiet and soothing…

  2. NLC says:

    Yay Doris!!

    How ’bout that Al Gore (and the the IPCC)!

  3. Aunt Soozie says:

    Lovely film.
    Beautiful poem.
    Very Pentax K1000…no high tech required.

    I didn’t know Amy Goodman either. I have had lots of friends/family who had Bell’s Palsy. Sometimes the paralysis goes away completely and sometimes there’s permanent damage. It’s a wait and see kinda thing. It can be indicative of a larger health issue but is often isolated.

    I think doctors only speculate on cause in each case…it can be viral or from some other type of damage to the nerve. (Moms always say that you can get it from “a draft”…like sleeping with a fan in your face. Aunt Soozie never bought into that one.)

    Isn’t that a great photo of Doris Lessing sitting on her step with the reporters?

    I’m going to go see if I can find a little comic shop that has Juicy Mother 1 and 2. So as to avoid today’s responsibilities for just a moment or two longer…it’s only 9:30am.

  4. Ginjoint says:

    I just read that Lessing celebrated with a gin & tonic. I lurve her even more.

  5. falloch says:

    After at least a 20-year gap, I started to read the last 100 or so pages of the Four Gated City very early yesterday a.m. when I couldn’t sleep. The bit where Martha realises Lynda isn’t really mad, but is very finely-tuned into the universe, etc., and then the appendices which are communications from a post-nuclear apocalyptic world and people are learning to telepathically communicate. And then I switch on the radio to learn that Lessing has won! Spooky!

  6. Andrew B says:

    The July/August 2007 number of Poetry contains a parody called “Brush and Floss: To A Young Child” by someone named Joan Murray. (Who may be the hottest poet going right now for all I know — I’m not really much of a poetry fan.) The first two lines are, “Margaret, are you grieving/Since your gums are not yet teething?”. It gets better from there, concluding with “It is dentures man was born for”. Murray throws in acute accents at random, e.g. over the first “e” of “teeth”. It’s pretty funny. Unfortunately it’s not online. But it’s probably at your library.

    And speaking of GMH in DTWOF, there’s Ginger stuck in a traffic jam on her way to Barfalo Lake State in the pouring rain, and ‘No Worst, there is None’ comes on the radio. A classic.

  7. Dr. Empirical says:

    Auntie, your best bet for finding Juicy Mother in the Philly area is Fat Jack’s Comic Crypt on Sansom near 19th st. If they don’t have it, they’ll order it for you without looking at you like you have two heads. They’re the only comics specialty store I know that stocks Fun Home.

  8. Erica says:

    I love that Doris Lessing’s first response was, “Oh Christ! … I couldn’t care less.”

    She also said, “I’ve won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one, so I’m delighted to win them all, the whole lot, OK?” Lessing said, making her way through the crowd. “It’s a royal flush.”

    “I’m sure you’d like some uplifting remarks,” she added with a smile (from AM New York).

  9. Feminista says:

    I read The Golden Notebook in 1973 as a college senior. I’m happy she got the Nobel.

    Off topic,today is Dia de la Raza (the day the Indigenous people discovered the geographically-challenged Columbus). I mentioned that tidbit of revisionist history to my adult ed.basic ESL class last night,and they liked that interpretation. They’re all from Mexico so I do the class bilingually.

  10. ocd/twof says:

    Brush and Floss: To a Young Child

    Margaret, are you grieving
    Since your gums are not yet teething?
    Teeth, all the ones you lost, you
    Miss, especially those front two?
    Ah! as the mouth grows older
    It will earn a dental folder
    Year by year, nor shed a tear
    Though mounds of molars disappear;
    And yet your mouth will gape in fear.
    Oh the horror! child, the pain,
    Though dentists jab novocaine,
    Nor mouth knows, no nor gums, can say
    The last laugh of tooth decay:
    It is dentures man was born for,
    It’s your baby teeth you mourn for.

  11. spoil sport says:

    I am stuck on Four Gated City, it sits by my bed and gathers dust. Must finish it soon. I spent time in Zimbabwe, and the other US exchange students and I all past around Martha Quest books and The Grass is Singing.

  12. Lizen says:

    Did you mean the photo next to the Burma story? That’s an incredibly bad photo Katherine Redford (not Amy) and she and her husband are amazing people. They work with a group called EarthRights International and succeeded in helping villagers sue Chevron in American courts to holding them liable for the slavery, torture and killing of villagers moved out of the way of their pipeline. They won!

  13. JenK says:

    Something that popped into my mind, Alison – you’ve mentioned seeing Ginger, Lois, & Sparrow as Mind, Body, & Spirit. Seems to me that Stuart has aspects of the other three but is more balanced – he’s very grounded, very much “Earth” energy. Was that intentional?

  14. Jen says:

    Curious about Bells palsy from not wearing a helmet… BP is thought to be due to the herpes (coldsore) virus invading & demylinating the length of the facial and/ or trigeminal nerve. Cold air can stimulate herpes outbreaks; was it thought that the cold air rushing at a motorcylist brought it on? Or did she crash and the stress of injury bring it on? To bring it (awkwardly) back to art, this is the type of palsy that former PM of Canada, Jean Chretien had that made him talk out of the side of his mouth–a bad trait for politicians, a good trait for political cartoonists!

  15. Jen says:

    Oops–correction to above: the palsey is from demylination of the facial nerve (a motor nerve) and neuropathic pain is usually the trigeminal nerve (a sensory nerve)

  16. Riotllama says:

    Being in dental hygiene school at the moment, I am loving the poem and also wondering if perhaps Amy has had a dental procedure requiring local anaesthetic lately. If her dentist hit the nerve during his injection Bell’s Palsy (hopefully temporary) is a possible result.

  17. Jen says:

    Hey Riotlama, maybe you’d get a kick out of this t-shirt too:

  18. Anonymous says:

    amy goodman is worth knowing! check out wbai on weekdays 9 am n.y. time or her website

  19. Pam I says:

    Lessing is more: A couple of years ago she spoke at an Amnesty rally here in London. While most of the crowd queued up to meet the people off the telly, Lessing was left slightly alone. I went up to shake her hand and thank her for her writing. I was amazed to find I choked up and couldn’t speak, as if I had met George Harrison when I was 15 (I didn’t). She must have been a bit bemused by this rolling-eyed maniac, but shook my hand and thanked me for reading, nontheless.

    So you can shake the hand of one who has shaken the hand of Doris Lessing, Nobel Laureate. I’m vicariously famous.

  20. The Cat Pimp says:

    Thanks, Alison, for the poem and the little bit of leaf-peeping. I live 3000 miles away and do miss the turning of the leaves.

  21. a lurker says:

    woo-woo-thanks for mentioning doris lessing-I wouldn’t have found out otherwise, since I avoid the paper often. She is my favorite fiction writer of all time(this is obviously in a separate category from cartoonists, so I don’t feel guilty saying that here:)she is totally a right on woman! yay!
    I think she was burned by her early experiences with Communism as a political community/ideology and didn’t want to be allied with any more such communities, which might be why she said she wasn’t a feminist, for whoever asked-if you read the second volume of her autobiography she talks about her mixed response to the response to the Golden Notebook. I don’t think she intended to say that she was against women’s equality-her own life story would make that a pretty bizarre thing to say.

  22. anonymous coward says:

    About the film of trees turning color, there is a webcam pointed at a tree, the Anne Frank tree (the chestnut she used to look at while in hiding), 24/7. It’d still take the dedication of grabbing a photo at about the same time every day (every morning for Americans, actually). And then the trouble of making a slide show video of it. But at least it spares whoever might do this the trouble of having a camera in one spot for days on end (or setting it up daily).

    the webcam:

  23. Aunt Soozie says:

    I waited until 4:50pm then made the call…my mammogram is scheduled for Nov.10th. Anyone else been negligent like Shado and me? If so,c’mon…do it!

    Dr E., thanks for Philly comicbook acquisition advice!

  24. Ginjoint says:

    Atta girl, Aunt Soozie! It’s way, WAY better to catch anything early.

    About Lessing…the NYT article mentioned how she “abandoned” her first husband and two children. Yeouch. I certainly don’t know the whole story behind that, but I’m sure that feminism will be blamed for her actions. I wonder what happened to cause her to make such a drastic decision. I wonder where those children are now, and how they’re doing.

  25. Mothra in NYC says:


    Wish I could get to that Bluestockings party tonight (DTWOF ***AND*** Hothead Paysan? Does it get better than that?), but I have to be uptown singing opera, sorry.

    But next week, Oct. 20-21, brings something Alison might find either liberating or terrifying (given discussions online and at book signings about OCD and perfectionism in Fun Home and DTWOF): International 24 Hour Comics Day, during which graphic artists are dared to create a 24-page comic book in one 24-hour marathon.

    Info here:

    The idea was the brainchild of Scott McCloud, who is a significant innovator in the area of comic book writing and design.

    I do understand the drive of perfectionism (I’m a composer, so have to contend with it in the context of musical deadlines), and am always on the lookout for new ways to thwart that little demon. I have yet to come up with a musical analog to the 24-hour comic (24 measures of music is a little too short, and 24 minutes’ worth of music is waaaaay too long). I suspect, though, that any creative endeavor can be fit to some exercise that requires a person to create quickly and without harsh judgment on the product, simply flowing with the process.

    I wonder what Alison thinks of that? (And, FWIW, I loved the quickish sketches that were showing up on this site a while back … )

    That being said, I need to add that DTWOF is, in my opinion, perfect as is, even only once a month. I doubt any of this passionate fan base wants AB to change what she is doing; the details are so fabulous. I only offer the information about 24 Hour Comics Day because AB sometimes sounds … guilty? Defensive? … about the time needed to lavish all that care on the art. It’s great to have something that requires second and third looks to catch all the details, and I will continue to look forward to more. It’s worth the wait.

  26. Jeffster83 says:

    Ginjoint, I didn’t know that about Doris Lessing abandoning her children. You use the word drastic, which has no moral significance, to describe her action, and you seem to be withholding judgment until you find out more about it. You are probably right that many will blame feminism.

    A question, though, not just for you but for anyone who cares to answer: suppose it were David Lessing, famous Nobel-wining author who once abandoned a wife and two children. Would you be as willing to suspend judgment as you are for Doris? Or would you denounce him as a despicable rat bastard beneficiary of the patriarchy, who can easily dump his responsibilities just because the system allows him to?

    I hold that what’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose; that (along with a lot of other things) women will not be equal to men unless members of both sexes to the same standards of behavior. Society may dictate strict standards and accountability, or loose ones of slackerdom, but they must be the same for everyone.

  27. Colino says:

    Since the topic of time-lapse has kind of surfaced again, I can’t resist posting
    Automn and melancholy light could be a good angle too.

  28. kate says:

    alison, the poem with the pictures–beautiful. i forgot about hopkins’ poetry. i especially like the sound of the wind at the end. i am a bit sad that you’ve given up on the other project–you’re my only connection to vermont.

  29. Ginjoint says:

    Jeffster83, ah! You caught me. I almost addressed that very topic in my post, but I was simply too damned sleepy at the time and basically slacked off instead – I had very little sleep the night before. I just didn’t feel like writing that much. I was awake enough to choose my words carefully, though (“drastic”). Good catch. In answer to your question, though, had it been David Lessing, I probably would not have been too tired to ream him a new one.

    O.K., here goes…yes, I do have a problem with anyone who “abandons” (that’s NYT’s word, not mine…oh fuck, it’s probably mine too) their kids. I can certainly understand leaving a spouse or partner, but your kids? There’s divorce or separation, wherein you might not see the children nearly as often but still give emotional and financial support, and then there’s abandonment. I don’t know Lessing’s story and I can’t research it right now as I’ve got to get ready for work, but I wonder why the NYT chose that word.

    Yes, I know my feelings are judgmental. Speaking for myself only, my question is which bothers me more, a man or a woman leaving their children. More later?…..

  30. Aunt Soozie says:

    more unrelated.
    our local Hallmark Card store has a new line called (read in a whisper) “Journeys”. There was a divider labeled “coming out”…in front of it…a card with a tasteful rainbow on one side and a deeply felt subtle sentiment on the other…congratulating/supporting the intended recipient on coming out.
    I feel…uhm…bourgeoise? mundane? in a way I never quite have since, uhm, I came out…wow…
    think I’ll go shave my head and get a tattoo on it that says
    “lesbian before it was queer, queer before it was stylish”
    or “100% genuine ‘gina lover, not just a fad”
    or “I like equality but don’t wanna be your marketing target group”
    or “lesbian circa 1980…BHC* *before the Hallmark Card”
    I don’t know. maybe I’ll just go create a comic book in 24 hours…yeah…that’s the ticket.

  31. roz warren says:

    soozie —
    there is going to be a book party for jen camper’s new book at robins bookstore in philly on december first so if you haven’t bought the book, wait till then to buty it and jen will sign it for you! i’m going to be there and so is my pal mark (we met you at alison’s event at the philly free library) roz

  32. Deena in OR says:

    Aunt Soozie,

    I know…but in a way, isn’t that what we’ve been working for all along-to have our existence be as routine, and accepted, as a Hallmark card? So to speak…

    I’m reminded, somehow, of the brief period of time in which it was legal for gays and lesbians to marry in Portland. My housemate and I took the kids to the Japanese Gardens one Saturday, and there were at least 4 distinct wedding parties there. I felt as though I were a part of the norm, for a change. (Whoo-hoo! Under the 10 line limit!! )

  33. Aunt Soozie says:

    Yeah, Deena
    I was just being silly…it was weird though…so routine!
    And Roz…oh, I’m so disappointed. I’ll be out of town that weekend!

  34. Alex K says:

    @ Aunt Soozie: Ten years or so back I encountered a Hallmark card – “For a Wonderful Hairdresser at Christmas”. Complete with insert-folding-money flap, tastefully perforated to let the dead President peek through. I crisscrossed Manhattan buying as many as possible and then visited the bank for crisp one-dollar notes. My friends (yes all gay all male OF COURSE) luuurrrrved them. Sometimes the Zeitgeist means that you don’t have to bother any more – just don your inner tube and jump into the flow. “Nothin’ says lovin’ like a rainbow from the coven.” Just wait, it’ll be in next year’s racks.

    @AB: 1) How about that Doris Lessing… Meh. How about that Pearl Buck? No resonance for either of them, not with me. I accept this as a gap in my personal education and will go try DL again — but after my last attempt, thirty pages of “squirts” and “clefts” and an unread book given away, this time from the library and not out of pocket. Which, and in which order?

    @AB: 2) Synchronicity / serendipity — quoted Goldengrove to Hungarian friends this weekend, enjoying their autumn together with them in Koermend(mushrooms, apples, transience, and dearest of all to the Hungarian soul, sorrow in defeat).

  35. Pam I says:

    On Lessing and her children – I dont know the whole story but there’s an intervies in today’s Guardian where she says: ” Don’t forget I had a child through the early part of this.” One of the other most remarked-upon features of Lessing’s life is that[…] she is one of literature’s most famous bolters — something for which she has been given a hard time, for refusing to demonstrate insufficient breastbeating. “[…] my children were looked after by a second wife. They weren’t exactly abandoned on a doorstep.”

    Didn’t she feel terribly guilty? “No, you see, that is the difficult thing. Because if I hadn’t left I know what would have happened to me. I would have had a massive nervous breakdown and become an alcoholic. While it was a terrible thing to do, it was right to do it.

    But there is a sad irony in the fact that Lessing has spent the past few years caring for her middle-aged son by her second marriage, Peter, who lives in the adjoining flat. He has been very sick and in hospital a couple of times, and it has become increasingly difficult for her to find the time and energy to write.”,,2190345,00.html

  36. Pam I says:

    AlexK, I persisted to the end of The Cleft. I can only presume it was written as a wind-up to feminists and utopians of pre-history. And I enjoy calling great big hairy pompous men squirts. So much the right word.

  37. a lurker says:

    not to jump on a topic just cuz it concerns some one I admire a lot, but…I think abandonment is a strong word for what happened to doris lessing’s kids, and I think the reason that word is used (emotionally button pushing as it is) is BECAUSE of her refusal to breastbeat. As far as I can tell, she was married at a really young age, got divorced, felt strongly that the kids would be better off with her husband than with her, and therefore did not take them with her when she left. She did, in fact, see them and keep in touch with them UNTIL (and this is a point no one has brought up) she was stopped by their father because of her politics, which were very much maligned by the South African /British elite (he was a civil servant), largely due to what she had to say about the color bar.

    What her abandonment on her part amounted to, as far as I can see, is her decision that the kids would be better off with their father(and his second wife, who she knew and suspected he would marry when she left)-and what she’s saying in that quote is that she still thinks she was right, both to leave, and in thinking they would be better off. I don’t think that’s so crazy. I think there are times when particular mothers are not the best placed to raise their particular kids (having been brought up by a mother for whom I suspect that might have been the case, I have a strong feeling that Doris Lessing made the right, although unpopular, decision in this case). when her son by that marriage became an adult, they did develop a relationship, incidentally, although I don’t know about his sister.

    not to turn this into the doris lessing forum…DTWOF should win a nobel prize too!! I would nominate it if I was on the committee!

  38. a lurker says:

    also-I actually do think the same holds true for fathers, if they were to leave their kids in the same situation in which DL left hers(i.e., financially secure and well cared for, albeit not by herself). the whole story is really just not as sensational as the NYT would like to think.

  39. Duncan says:

    I’d say, with Lessing, to read her early fiction, up to *maybe* The Four-Gated City, and the two novels she wrote under the pseudonym Jane Somers; avoid her “space fiction” and the paranoid novels of the 90s like The Good Terrorist and The Fifth Child. I haven’t read anything of hers since then.

    As to whether she’s a feminist, well, try this:,,537292,00.html

    Pam I, Lessing wouldn’t appreciate your calling “great big hairy pompous men squirts”! That marks you as one of the crazy feminist man bashers who’ve made the male an endangerous species. 9-)

  40. Bridget says:

    Just want to say — I think its excellent that Doris Lessing won the Nobel prize for literature. You go, girl!!!

  41. pd says:

    Amy Goodman’s hour long news/interview program “Democracy Now” is carried weekdays on Link TV (, which can be seen on DirecTV channel 375.

  42. Silvio Soprani says:

    I probably should not join this discussion (of Doris Lessing’s “abandonment” of her children) but I can’t stop myself, even though I experience this as a hot-button issue.

    I think children perceive such a wide continuum of parental absence as “abandonment.” In my experience, children feel long-ranging pain in all these situations whether or not parents and their various local cultures perceive it that way. I will list them from the most “accepted” to the most reviled:

    –Being sent to daycare
    –Being sent to boarding school (as an American, my stereotype of this is British parents but I am sure it happens all over)
    –Mom and Dad divorce; kids live with mom. They miss Dad all their lives even though they visit him every other weekend
    –Mom and Dad divorce; kids live with dad. Similar.
    –Dad abandons Mom. Dad is the bad guy. (Even though Mom makes it as hard as possible for Dad to see kids because she disapproves of him.)
    –Mom abandons Dad. kids live with Dad. (Mom is a monster. Mom tries to involve herself in one way or another but feels like an alien because the whole idea of Mom leaving is so egregious.)
    –Mom and Mom (or Dad and Dad) split up. I have not developed a scenario for this one but I am sure it is similarly excruciating for all concerned.

    You might notice that all these judgments on my part are from the point of view of the adults. But from the kids’ point of view, their home life sucks, period.

    Margaret Mead left her daughter with a friend for virtually her whole childhood; she paid all the expenses and would roll into town about twice a year for a short visits.. Mead claimed to feel no guilt. She felt she had important work to do and took the trouble to arrange a comfortable and stable life for her daughter. Strangely enough (if we can believe her daughter’s memoir), the daughter grew up admiring and loving her mother, and does not seem to blame her. I suppose this is not so different from virtually every middle or upper class British (male) child in the last century who was sent away around age 6 or 7 to live in boarding schools, for their own good, to build up their network for their future careers.

    I forget the name of the American female comic–oh it was Norah Ephron– who said that if you give your kids the choice of whether they would rather have their mother ecstatically happy in Hawaii or suicidal in the next room, they will choose “suicidal in the next room” every time. Too true.

    I don’t know what Doris Lessing went through at the time she ceased living with her children, but I do know what it is like to have been a stay at home mother with no career, have a marriage end suddenly and in an extremely unsupportive manner. I know what it is like to have no family members living nearby while one’s husband has parents and a financial support system.

    Without money, everything becomes nearly impossible. The choice becomes do I impose on my friends with my 3 kids or do I leave them in a safe place (for them) and try to get my own situation more stable alone. Of course, by the time one’s situation is stable, it is quite difficult to get the kids back.

    Judges love that phrase, “in the best interests of the child.” What it means is “whatever situation they were in last.” Not “whatever new situation the fleeing parent can cobble together.”

    And the hardest part, I think, during divorce is that adults , and particularly women, try to stand up for themselves and get justice. But justice does not always co-incide with a situation that the kids feel comfortable with. They want you suicidal in the next room because that feels most familiar. It’s not right, but it is how they feel.

    In summary, divorce is hell. Who knows what Lessing went through. The hard part is taking the responsibility to live with it for the next 20 or 30 years. That’s what really takes it out of you.

    For years I would occasionally tell this story to someone in their 20s and the person would surprise me by admitting that they were the child of divorced parents (or an abandoning parent) and how it felt. In an instant they would change from a confidant to an accuser. (Not really, just in my troubled imagination.) Finally I had to admit to myself that being in survival mode often involves being unable to empathize with one’s child.

  43. Silvio Soprani says:

    p.s. I know after that long post I have used up my allotment for the next 6 weeks.

  44. Raffi says:

    Interesting that Hallmark has Coming Out cards yet refuse to give benefits for those with domestic partners unless it’s changed recently, but I doubt it.

  45. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’ve only read one of Lessing’s books. I don’t recall the title; Shakarta? Shikartis? something like that. It didn’t move me. I’ll try another if someone would like to recommend one.

    As for her feminism and her treatment of her children, I don’t have enough information to judge. The best people to ask whether it was a wise, necessary or even acceptable move would be the children. In the absence of information to the contrary, I’ll assume it’s none of my business.

  46. Aunt Soozie says:
    have you seen this?
    oy vay…she’s out of control.

  47. Susan Stinson says:

    The video of the leaves and Spring and Fall to a Young Child together just knock me out. I was reciting this poem to my niece at bed time a couple of weeks ago. She said, “Wow.”

  48. Ginjoint says:

    Thanks to Pam I and a lurker (give yourself a name, we’d love to get to know you!) for some background info. And to Silvio for telling us her story – that was brave. (Please, note, Silvio, that I did differentiate between divorce and abandonment.) Jeffster83’s question dealt, however, with how we view women versus men who abandon their families.

  49. Silvio Soprani says:

    Thanks. My point was that children don’t make a distinction between divorce and abandonment.
    But I agree, Jeffster83’s point lay in a different direction and it is a good question.

  50. Mark says:


    Hello from Kiev. Just a short note to say hello, and to express some mild disappointment. Ellen recently related to me your reference to my ex-girlfriend and ex-wife as “Russian mail order brides.” The fact that Ellen seemed to think that was perfectly OK was just one more reason for me to give up on any thoughts of a life with her. But passive acceptance of an ugly reference to people who don’t deserve being essentially labeled whore for the sin of falling in love with a dumb hick like me is still less offensive than actually expressing such views.

    I’d like to tell you, my “Russian mail order bride” is, yes, from a poor family in a Russian village. She also graduated at the top of her class, both in a top Russian university and from a top American law school. She also is a spectacularly successful corporate lawyer, a type of woman who never appears in your strip, populated as it is by edgy alt book store owners and edgy lit crit professors. She certainly is not a whore, as you infer. My ex-GF by the way, for all her faults, is an acclaimed translator and was Al Gore’s interpreter. Also not a cheap whore, notwithstanding your insinuation.

    When we were in law school, I was appalled at how many people, including feminists, called my ex-wife a “Russian mail order bride,” primarily because she has strong opinions and prefers universal ideals to feminism, and because people who hated me for my views (not so different from those of Tony Blair but expressed with sharper wit) found attacking her to be a more easy route than confronting me.

    In future, if you speak with any mutual acquaintances, I will ask you to refer to me directly as dumb hick, and to please leave my “Russian mail order brides” out of the conversation. They do not deserve your contempt.

  51. Maggie Jochild says:

    Silvio, just to pick up one thing in your excellent post (and not too long, of course, in my opinion):
    The point to shipping little English upper class boys to boarding school is to remove them from love and support so they can become the next generation of the ruling class. Same for American boys. The dissociation and viciousness of imperialism has to be taught by daily force — beatings, rape, near starvation, and a rigid hierarchy enforced by your peers. Otherwise, boys would hold onto their ethics and connection to other human beings. It’s a highly successful breeding ground for owning class pathology. It produced W.

  52. April says:

    Just to dampen the mood, I’d like to contribute how much I *abominate* Gerard Manley Hopkins. Pious shmaltz I had to learn in school, errgh… But I’m glad you all get such a buzz from him. I liked some of the other romantics, the pantheist ones.

    My GG had Bell’s palsy, proscribed lots of steroids for it so got all Cushingoid (bloated & puffy). Got better though. As a result there is a series of family photos where you can’t recognise her. Odd.

    Is this a worldwide endorsement of Doris Lessing? Mayhap I should make the attempt again. I am ashamed to say I couldn’t get into Virginia Wolff either, and I’m reasonably literary. Try, try again…

  53. ksbel6 says:

    As the child of a couple who divorced when I was 25, as opposed to when I was about 9 like they should have, I can say with conviction that not all children want their mother in the next room suicidal. I would have greatly preferred for them to divorce over the stress that occured over those 15 years.

  54. Pam I says:

    On Lessing, still – I tried the “pure” SF ones (Shikasta etc) and couldn’t get into them. The Golden Notebook was important in my 20’s, so I picked it up again recently but got bored with the characters. The form of that book was innovative then, with multiple strands and voices, I’ll have another go. The African novels I enjoyed. Lots of short stories. Things about cats. There’s also her Lit Crit which I’ve not read. I guess she won the Nobel partly because of this disparate range.
    There’s some very anti stuff on a lot of blogs about her, as Ginjoint said above. She is (or claims to be) gloriously oblivious to what people think of her, and has never played the literary/cocktail circuit game. Her denunciation of feminists came I think because we tried to claim her for the Golden Notebook, and she’s not a joiner. I think The Good Terrorist is really flawed politically, though it zips along, it reads like a book informed by being around the male left and getting burnt; though it really caught the mood of squatting communities and the rage about good housing going to rot, the parodies of socialist-worker type organising were cruel and inaccurate.
    For great feminist SF, give me Ursula LeGuin.
    That’s my 20 lines used.

  55. little gator says:

    Pam I-

    *I* didn’t meet George Harrison when *I* was 15! What an amazing coincidence!

  56. Pam I says:

    LG, but I did see the Beatles play live, twice. That impresses the young ones.
    Another Lessing – how did I forget – Love Again. On doing just that when you’re really old, at least 60 and more so (the age of the heroine meanders a bit in the book). There’s hope for me yet.

  57. Aunt Soozie says:
    This quiz is entitled: which of the dtwof are you?
    Don’t know how accurate it is but I tried it twice. The first time I scored as an even tie between Stuart and Lois. The second time I scored as Lois.
    I think I am sort of a combination of Lois and Stuart.

  58. Silvio Soprani says:

    Pam I,
    I have only read one (long) novel by Doris Lessing; I remember being totally grossed out by it. Is THE GOOD TERRORIST the one where the commune members live in a house with no toilet and they store all their “dung” up in the attic? Then there are endless pages where the narrator cleans out the attic. I just remember it being very grim.

    regarding Virginia Woolf, if you start with TO THE LIGHTHOUSE (which is quite accessible) and read a few of Leonard Woolf’s memoirs and perhaps an essay or two by Virginia, it will ease you into her style. I confess I still have not read most of her later books although I have read a lot about her life (which I think is more interesting than her books.) I still have not gotten over that damn nose they made Nicole Kidman wear in THE HOURS. She portrayed Virginia as a grim, humorless, despairing dishrag with NONE of the witty humor she is known for, and that nose was so untrue to how beautiful Virginia was in real life.(Well, I have only seen pictures, but they were beautiful.)

    ksbel6, thanks for your comment.

  59. mulieribus says:

    I get Sparrow on that quiz. I am so mot Sparrow. Just because I know what my rising and moon signs are. Harumph!

    Hopkins is my favorite poet. Thanks, Alison.

  60. Silvio Soprani says:

    Nice quiz, Aunt Soozie.
    How’s this for a weird hybrid? I am a combination of SPARROW and LOIS!

  61. Pam I says:

    Silvio, yes, that’s The Good Terrorist. Booker shortlisted in 1985, somehow DL had got access to leftish squats of the time as the detail is there, embedded in a truly daft fantasy of the anti-heroes bombing the Ritz. Two horrible lesbians are included. I read it for the recognition of lifestyles I’ve known, but with increasing fury at her contempt for the ideals that I value. She seemed to see inevitable links between radical critiques of the status quo, and turning to random violence. Odd for such an otherwise intelligent and informed writer. Maybe she had bills to pay.

  62. Silvio Soprani says:


    I read it around 1990. I truly do not remember any of the characters; just the horror of hauling pails of feces out of the attic.

    What I wonder is how a writer can live in that state of mind for the length of time it takes to write the book. (6 months? a year?) I have never written any fiction, but I imagine you have the company of those characters and their mindsets for the duration. Not for the squeamish.

  63. Pam I says:

    I’m 80% Mo. Not surprising when I picked Sydney in an earlier quiz re which character is most attractive. I’m doomed.

  64. Duncan says:

    Silvio, I liked your post. Thanks for saying those things.

    I read The Good Terrorist, and I don’t remember anything about it, least of all the feces in the attic. Personally, I suspect Lessing enjoyed wallowing in the shit. I could swear I read Love Again, but it doesn’t show up on my reading log. Maybe I checked it out of the library but never finished it. Meanwhile, I’m thinking about rereading The Wind Blows Away Her Words, her 1987 nonfiction book on the Afghan resistance, to see if her heroes were the Northern Alliance.

    On Lessing and feminism, Kate Millett records her meeting with Lessing in her memoir Flying. She says that Lessing praised Sexual Politics — “books like that change things,” DL insisted. If Lessing did indeed bash feminism for fear the feminists would somehow use her, I have no use for that kind of knee-jerk contrarianism. I’m not a joiner either, but I try not to let that affect my political opinions. (Like Paul Goodman, I’m all for community because it’s a human thing, only I always seem to be left out.)

    About Woolf, I’d recommend Orlando as a good place to begin; I think it’s the most readable of all her novels, and the most fun. But it’s also atypical, nothing else she wrote is like it. From there I’d go to Three Guineas, her really great, angry feminist essay (A Room of One’s Own is good, but too genteel to my mind). And after that, go back to her first novel, The Voyage Out, and work forward chronologically. (I agree about the film of The Hours, that it really did no justice to Woolf; but the book was little better.)

    Incidentally, I bought Juicy Mother at my local anarchist bookstore, and liked it well enough though it was uneven and I’d seen Alison’s contributions already. But Jennifer Camper’s piece on a Muslim lesbian was wonderful. (I also just read Samar Habib’s Female Homosexuality in the Middle East, Routledge 2007. It’s a bit disorganized, but still fascinating. Habib is a cute young (25) dyke, Palestinian/Lebanese/Australian — see her pic at — and she’s also just published a novel that doesn’t seem to be available in the US yet. I think she’s going to be someone to watch.) I’m going to have the store order Juicy Mother 2 for me soon.

  65. Feminista says:

    I’m Toni,with Stuart close behind.

    What was this other quiz you referred to,Pam?

  66. lil' suz says:

    luv the movie!i only wish I was deep enough to understand what the heck the poem means! besides that it was awsomely to go to bed early tonight! how medival is that?

  67. Aunt Soozie says:

    10:15pm on a school night is NOT early kiddo!
    (and I am NOT being Medieval! Get in bed!)

  68. Pam I says:

    Duncan, the advantage of the memory slipping with age as it fills up, is that you can read the same book twice and it still comes up fresh (but those stinking buckets won’t). (For those who haven’t read it, don’t panic, the earth-mother heroine makes a giant compost pit in the back yard and the shit disappears.)
    Feminista,it wasn’t a real quiz, that was my lazy english – we were just nominating our favourites, I can’t remember (!) who started it.

  69. lil' suz says:

    Ugh. Sometimes life is one big conspiracy!

  70. Kat says:

    recent studies suggest that kids tend to be better adjusted and happier with parents who are separate but still involved in the kids lives, rather than together but miserable and with anger and pain around them constantly.

  71. April says:

    Thanks for the Virginia advice, Silvio & Duncan. I actually did start with To The Lighthouse though, and found it very hard to get involved in. I tend to dip into Orlando randomly (as a result of which it reads like Slaughterhouse 5), and I enjoy the language but still can’t commit to sitting down with it. Nobody’s making Lessing seem that appealing either. I’m still happy over here in Margaret Attwood land.

    On another note, I’m dead against sticking with it for the sake of the kids. Parents who like each other are ideal, but parents who stay together on bad terms teach kids really crap conflict resolution scripts (speaking from bitter personal experience here). Five years between deciding it’s over and moving out is bad bad bad. I intend not to replicate that behaviour.

    Oh and I’m Stuart. Funny I would have pegged me as a Mo/Lois hybrid. If that’s not oxymoronic.

  72. Tone says:

    The authorship of Doris Lessing has meant so much to me and she definitely deserves the Nobel Prize! Reading her autobiography however, I did not find her as a particularly sympathetic person. Loving her work does not mean loving the person or the personal choices that person has done.

    I also find it interesting how children react to their parents behaviour, and have thought a lot about what determines the very different outcome of the seemingly same kind of parental behaviour. Is it generation, class or something different? Coming from the non-intellectual lower middle-class I have always been amazed over children who even as teenagers admired their own parents. In my youth I hated my parents like I thought everyone did. I find it particularly interesting how people like Lessing and e.g. Wilhelm Reich, who didn’t spare their critisism of their own parents ended up treating their own children in ways few would approve of. Still they seemed to get loyal and admiring children. I don’t know if that is the case with Lessing (if her children admires her), but it certainly was with Reich and many other left-wing activists. Where they just too authoritarian for any critisism, or did outweigh their “bad” behaviour by something that still made it possible to love and admire them?

  73. Silvio Sopprani says:

    Hello Duncan!

    What was I thinking? I meant to recommend THE VOYAGE OUT to April. It is WAY more accessible than TO THE LIGHTHOUSE. And I also recomend FLUSH (is that the title?) written from the perspective of a dog, but again, it is not characteristic of her work.

    When the 2nd Gulf War began, I immediately checked THREE GUINEAS out of the library. Isn’t that the collection that has the sentiment, “As a woman, I have no country”? [And WHY is it correct to put the question mark inside that quote when the quote is not a question. The question is mine! Okay, back to the topic…]

    Tone, I think you will find that often children need to have a parent they can admire so much that they are drawn to even a badly behaved parent.

    Everybody have a fine Monday!

  74. April says:

    Okay cheers Silvio I’ll give The Voyage Out a try. I’m sure there’s gold in them thar hills.

  75. Aunt Soozie says:

    Am I paranoid reading your conversation about parenting as it parallels my on-Alison’s-blog-you’re-up-too-late-get-off-the-computer conversation with my child? Hmmm…well, yeah but it’s nice that my daughter has taken an interest in exploring things that I’m interested in…and that she’s not yet at that everything you like is crap stage. In terms of a role model Alison Bechdel is smart, talented, funny, kind, concerned about the wider world, laughs at herself, grounded, generous, generous of spirit…she’s Stuart for gosh sakes! Not a bad choice, right?

  76. Rosa says:

    My parents didn’t separate til just before I started my senior year of high school, and I desperately wished they had done it years earlier. I wonder if younger kids think things would be better if their parents hadn’t divorced because they’re comparing what did happen to an imagined better future, instead of actually living through non-divorced parents feuding through the house for years.

  77. Andrew B says:

    Silvio, there are plenty of people who wish their folks had gotten divorced instead of forcing them to witness an angry, mutually destructive relationship. I hope as your kids get older that they will gain a better understanding of the compromises life forces on us.

    On the discussion of Lessing’s “abandonment”, somebody needs to make an obvious feminist point and it seem to have fallen through to me. Given the usual sexual division of labor, you cannot meaningfully compare male writers who leave their families to female writers who do the same. Men are usually able to stay within the family while retaining the time and freedom to do creative work. Their wives take care of the kids. For women it’s much harder. Very few men (practically none when Lessing was a young woman) are willing to be full time house husbands.

    The usual male responsibility — earning a living — does not present the same problems. For starters, a successful writer may be able to earn a living with his pen. But even if not, a disciplined writer can work 9 to 5 and then go home and write. (This applies to other creative activities, of course.) The same is not true of child care. Children require much more than 8 hours of care per day, and it cannot reliably be scheduled. Kids get sick when they’re sick, they get scared when they’re scared, they ask why the sky is blue when the question occurs to them, the big kid next door pushes them in the mud when he feels like it, etc. That’s why the concept of “quality time” is a crock. Child care requires an open-ended availability that is not compatible with the concentration required for creative work. Earning a living carries no such open-ended commitment.

    If this sounds like “A Room of One’s Own”, well, yeah. Woolf was exactly right about this. This observation does not answer every question that could be raised about parental responsibility, of course. But trying to address those questions without taking account of this will produce a grossly distorted picture with no serious application to reality.

    This is, incidentally, one of the themes of Fun Home. Think of Alison’s mother practicing the piano when Alison wants lunch.

  78. bean says:

    the world isn’t all even, and the idea that everyone should pretend like it is is kind of crazy to me. and very liberal, i.e. shortsighted.

    it means something REALLY different when a woman leaves her family than when a man does.


    and, on another subject: i have no idea what that mail order brides thing was about. all i can say about that is, it’s one thing to look at what women do to get by in the world, and a completely other thing to look at how men are able take advantage of women’s second class status.

  79. Silvio Soprani says:


    I think that mail order bride person wandered into the wrong room, kind of like Mr. Magoo. No matter what we do, I don’t think there was enough information available to unlock the mystery .

    Andrew, thanks, an interesting and relevant point about young Alison’s lunch.

    I think it is quite startling to be perfectly willing to make and have made what you call the “open ended committment” (you really understand this, don’t you?), and then have the desire to also be able to have some ownership of one’s own concentration held against one as conflicting with the committment to one’s children.. What I am trying to say is that no one blames or accuses men of being disloyal to their children because they leave the home daily and work uninterrupted at their work, but often people do blame and accuse women for the same need or desire, as if ONLY THE WOMAN is responsible for attention to the children.

    the odd thing is that I can testify that it is so easy to take on that guilt and believe inside that you should be with your child 24/7; that’s what I did for many years.

    But I know lots of perfectly good mothers who do leave the home each day and go to their job, and I know and they know that they are good mothers. I don’t even think children need to be with their mothers 24/7; 6 hours a day and the weekend are probably plenty. But it is such a slippery slope when you are home most of the time–you begin to believe that only you can do what you do.

    Guilt is like housework–it expands to fill the available time.

  80. VS says:

    I would also add that if Doris Lessing were David Lessing, no interviewers would be asking him if he felt guilty about “abandoning” his children. The topic would barely come up.

  81. April says:

    it seems to be the convention that women leave their _kids_, men leave their _spouses_ (whether or not kids are part of the equation). with men it’s a morally neutral life choice, women who act similarly are monsters. says a lot about what we think of marriage and family.

  82. Gil in mexico city says:

    Goodness! It seems I am MO!

  83. Silvio Soprani says:

    April: Exactly. Very succinctly put.

  84. Berkeley Expat says:

    Hey NLC!
    I was pretty thrilled to hear that the IPCC and Al got the Peace Prize. I read the IPCC reports as a hobby in grad school, and my current job requires me to read and interpret the IPCC reports for policymakers. Those folks have had a tough job, in maintaining their credibility through strict adherence to the principle of scientific objectivity, in the face of tremendous pressure and criticism from the fossil fuel industry-funded political machine. And Al has been taking serious flak from members of our country’s political opinion-makers elite (Rush Limbaugh, and other such of the mad dog forward fringe of the conservative punditry) since well before, “Earth in Balance.”

    It grieves me, though, that we Americans have to depend on the Europeans, e.g. the Nobel Committee, to take the lead in establishing the fact that climate change is a moral issue. What is wrong with us?


  85. Lizzie from London says:

    Pam put me onto this extremely long thread. Haven’t been here for a long time. Re DL I loved the Science fiction series (mostly ) except for the fourth one I think but then I love science fiction. No-one mentioned Mara and Dan (or Dan and Mara) which came out maybe ten years ago and is set far into the future about a mythic trek by a brother and sister through what used to be Africa. I can remember incidents from it still – struggling through parched landscapes, and finding odd artefacts from long gone civilisations. Wonderful. I think Love Again is not that good, But perhaps that’s just because I can’t bear to face the reality that the older woman seldom really gets the younger man (that’s older as in post-menopausal)

    Virginia Woolf – I started at 14 with The Waves. I guess I was just precocious. I might suggest starting with Mrs. Dalloway but I’d check if someone loves language and can handle fractured narrative first.

    As for Ursula le Guin in a book called A Fisherman of the Inland Sea there’s a wonderful story – the last of a sequence of three – called Another Story of A Fisherman of the Inland Sea which posits a society based on a four way marriage, i.e. two men, two women, women are partners, men are partners then there’s the relationship between the each man and woman. Of course in the book it’s all harmonious but still I found this an inspiring vision. The relationship between the women is the key one emotionally..

  86. Pam I says:

    I’m off to ebay to find those Ursula LeGuin’s I read 30+ years ago. The Left Hand of Darkness – a society of hermaphrodites with *interesting* erotic lives. The Dispossessed – exiles on the moon. The Earthsea books. She uses SF as a way to let minds do impossible things, rather than obsess with space hardware. And I just started on The Inland Sea, there’s syzygy, Liz.

    Ah – Samuel Delany – anyone?

  87. Silvio Soprani says:

    Pam I–
    I don’t know Samuel Delany but I will put him on my list on your recommendation.

    Ursula LeGuin–I started reading her in the 80s….YES, the Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. I have not read that much science fiction, but I felt very hopeful reading hers. And I loved how in the LHOD people changed their gender every 6 months. so the (male) General of the Army might, in six months, become pregnant and a mother. It was truly a society where everyone had empathy for all situations, having eventually lived through all of them (emotionally speaking.) Pam, I think you would have to say that these characters were SERIALLY hermaphoditic, because they took turns.

    On the strength of the previous discussions, I am now halfway through Doris Lessing’s THE GRASS IS SINGING. My goodness she has a way of cutting through to the truth. This book is SO MUCH BETTER than the one with the buckets of feces in the attic. (sorry to keep bringing that up; it won’t happen again.)

  88. April says:

    I imagine that buckets image is a difficult one to get away from, mentally. sheesh.

  89. Maggie Jochild says:

    Pam I, YES to Delany. And anything by Ursula K. Leguin. My favorite of hers, aside from LHOD and Dispossessed, is The Compass Rose, in particular because of two short stories in it: One about studying animal languages in the future and discovering the poetry of a worker ant who tries to develop an identity for herself separate from the mound, and the second about the group of Argentinian women who trek to the South Pole years before Amundsen and Scott but keep it quiet because it would upset their husbands.

    I’d recommend The Inland Whale, a collection of Yurok Indian stories gathered by Ursula’s mother, Theodora Kroeber, which has a rocking lesbian myth about Umai and the light at the edge of the ocean.

    Also, from early days of feminist sci-fi, The Female Man by Joanna Russ; The Kin of Ata are Waiting for You by Dorothy Bryant; and Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy.

    In more recent years, C.J. Cherry (sometimes spelled Cherryh) writes extraordinarily sophisticated sci-fi. Her fantasy sells just as big but I don’t like it. The sci-fi, however, is at the top of the game. Especially check out 40,000 in Gehenna or the five books of the Chanur series, about the Hani, a space-going matriarchal species — it’s deadly serious and, I think, an allegory about Native American response to European invasion of North America. Read the first page and you’ll drop the cat comedy preconception.

    Lastly — the late, great Octavia Butler. Especially Kindred and then her Xenogenesis trilogy, a sci-fi take on the human species’ equivalent of enduring The Middle Passage,

  90. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’ve always been fond of Ursula K. Leguin. Too many people think science fiction is all about ray guns and bug-eyed monsters. Science fiction is about IDEAS.

  91. Pam I says:

    I just remember a couple of S. Delany’s: The Ballad of Beta-2 (1965) and Babel-17 (1966). His characters cross species as well as genders, ie he was not hung up on the hardware, again like Le Guin. (Maybe because I was married for a while to an Asimov fan, I’m resistant to that techy SF. Very.) Delany’s a rare black gay SF-er, and was for a long time the partner of Marilyn Hacker, lesbian feminist poet. Beta-2 tells how a poet saves the universe. I’ll have to look up more recent stuff.

    And thanks Maggie for the list, it’s back to ebay. Can’t wait to retire and start actually reading these stacks. Sadly, can’t afford to…

  92. Dr. Empirical says:

    Gender switching and extreme body modification (e.g. having gills implanted for that island vacation) is a staple of John Varley’s science fiction.

    One interesting wrinkle was that a person’s sexual orientation could vary according to which gender they were wearing. Some were always hetero- attracted to people with the opposite equipment, some always liked men, or women.

    Of course, there are those who design their own gender-amalgam bodies, but they’re more rare in Varley’s fiction than I think they’d be if such alterations were available in real life.

  93. Silvio Soprani says:

    Dr. Empirical,

    I will have to read some John Varley.

    This business of modifying the body reminds me of William Gibson’s post-apocalyptic settings where the punks have their faces or their heads or their limbs modified; part functional; part cosmetic.

    A couple of episodes of the late great DARK ANGEL stole this concept but did it very well.

  94. Maggie Jochild says:

    Oh, Dark Angel! How I miss that show. Especially her kick-ass dyke roommate.

    I’m betting there’s a world of Firefly fans here as well.

  95. Maggie Jochild says:

    Delaney and MARILYN HACKER?!! Wow. Now that’s something to think over.

  96. Maggie Jochild says:

    One more recommend — Island in the Sea of Time, by S.M. Stirling. A cosmic disturbance sends Nantucket Island back in time 3000 years. Fairly standard time-travel/utopia rag, except the chief protagonist is an African-American Lesbian Coast Guard captain, who finds her true love in a pre-Celtic woman who lives in what will become the British Isles. They wind up with two daughters. And their relationship rings true. Way fun.

  97. dc says:

    Browsed through this thread, loved Lessing’s early work.

    Has anyone mentioned the Man Booker Prize?

    The winner was announced last night.It was won by Anne Enright, an Irish writer. She’s quite an amazing writer – quirky, incisive, caustic, funny, insightful and quite challenging to the male-centric viewpoint.

    I look forward to reading the prize-winning novel, The Gathering.

    Here’s a link to an interview with her, before she won:

  98. April says:

    Yes, Firefly is the most fantastic femslash entertainment ever. Plus that coastguard thing sounds great!

  99. Lizzie from London says:

    Ah – lots of writers I haven’t heard of for those moments in between ….. Thanks.

  100. Pam I says:

    One last link – Ursula Le Guin reviewing Jeanette Winterson’s Stone Gods in the Guardian this month:,,2174341,00.html
    Critically enthusiastic (or is that an oxymoron?).

  101. Duncan says:

    I third (or fourth or fifth) the recommendation of Delany, though if that image of feces bothers you, don’t read Delany’s The Mad Man. (And Delany and Hacker were married, not “partners.” They have a daughter, Iva, who’s an adult by now — they were very young when they married, in their late teens.)

    The reason I don’t like Lessing’s “space fiction” is that I love science fiction, and they’re a blot on the genre. “The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four, and Five” was the only one I found halfway readable; the others were mainly cant and preaching.

    Thanks for the link to LeGuin’s review of Winterson, Pam!

  102. Pam I says:

    I use “partners” as a non-specific catch-all. If we all use that all the time the whole discrimination thing is reduced (albeit only conceptually, not pension-wise). It also allows for eg non-cohabiting couples, or 4-way things a la Fisherman on Inland Sea.