by: Peter Bodo | October 10, 2006

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2006_10_10_deer Howdy, Tribe. Just back today from a truly glorious 3-day weekend at the farm in game-rich Andes.  There's nothing like a balmy October day when the mountains are ablaze with foliage, the sky is Great Plains blue and cloudless, and the air so still that it takes a falling maple leaf half-an-hour to hit the ground. We had three of those days this weekend, and aside from breaking a shear-bolt on the PTO of the Orange Blossom (my orange, 1953 Allis-Chalmers tractor), all was perfect in my world.

On Sunday morning, while driving to town (shear bolts!), a six-point whitetail buck bolted across the road, just in front of us - so close we could hear its hoofs clicking on the tarmac and see the muscles under its tawny coat rippling through the prism of dew still clinging to the clear, crisp air. The buck ducked under a strand of barbed wire, without missing stride, showing agility and reflexes that even Roger Federer would envy, combined with energy Rafael Nadal would be hard put to match. The whitetail buck and the ubiquitous sunfish (bluegill, sunny) are creatures of unparalleled, startling beauty; we take them for granted because, well, there are so many of them, and we're fickle that way.

I want to thank the indefatigable Steggy for keeping the home fires burning while I was away. Thanks to our Hillbilly Princess, the light is always on at home for the Tribe and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know that TW is here for you - even if one of y'all just got dumped by a boy/girlfriend, you flipped your pick-up on the interstate, or some ditto head at work got on your case. That's what family is for, right?

2006_10_10_fish For that same reason, I'm somewhat dismayed by reports of bitter or angry feelings by some Jet Boy fans over the treatment they get from Federer fans here. While it's true that we've been on a bit of a Federer run here, what with the RogBlog, and TMF's Most Excellent Japanese Adventure, I think the balance in the long term has been fair.

While it's beyond my rights (or desire) to stage-manage the Comments section, I also believe that we should be even more importrant to each other than any individual player is to us. I know I would hate to think that interest in TW fluctuates in direct proportion to the degree and kind of coverage I give to specific individuals. TW at its best is about the community of tennis fans, rather than the community of tennis pros - or even our individual icons or heroes.  Y'all are the equals of any player out there. We sit at a big dinner table together, feasting on the pro game and players. It's inevitable that we have food fights, and sometimes raucous dinner-table debates. I don't distinguish between functional and dysfunctional families; the adjectives are all extraneous, if handy.

Unless something shocking happens in pro tennis this week, we'll be doing a Talkback day on Friday. That means I'll throw a few subjects out there and we can all talk about them, probably in the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST time slot. Or you can just fire off questions having to do with anything in the game. We could also have a little fun and go with something like "Advice to the Lovelorn", in which you can seek the advice of the Tribe on any issue - your wayward forehand? Your wayward girlfriend?  Whether or not you should tell the grocery clerk that he gave you too much change. . . Post a comment if you think that would be fun.

I cruised through the "skinny/not skinny" discussion this morning, and was nagged for a while by a comment made by shoe-throwing feminist AmyLu (her trip from lurker to TW Elder was shorter than the one the infamous shoe took from her gentle little hand to the TV screen. BTW, we need to know what kind of shoe it was, and to find out if AmyLu will be willing to donate it to the TW Museum).

Anyway, she suggested (correct me if I'm wrong) that we view the weight debate (is "thin" desirable in women?) through the "feminist lens". I don't know if this is hair-splitting, but the phrase implies more wiggle-room and conditioned reaction that may actually exist; a lens is, after all, a filter of sorts. It seems to me that the thinness debate may have deeper, more intrinsic roots - an item in today's newspaper cites a study showing that when women are ovulating, they unconsciously tend to make themselves more attractive (choice of clothing, hair and make-up); this wasn't some study done on post-adolescent women who desire children, either. The subjects were college students.

So, if we view the obsession with being thin as an expression of hard-wired biology, rather than a response conditioned by social mores, the message may have less to do with vanity, images and social conditioning than population dynamics. Perhaps we're sending the collective, subconscious message: We don't need any more children, ladies. Put the brakes on the voluptuous, "maternal" instincts, and pronto!  Or perhaps that segment of our genetically-diverse population that eschews reproduction has emerged as dominant. Those would seem to be more pressing and intriguing developments than seeing the thinness quandry as "mere" social science.

There's a whiff of the apocalypse in all this, of course. But maybe I'm just thinking that way because the new Cormac McCarthy novel is out and, as I posted in an earlier Comments section, I think he's our greatest living writer. Patti Smith once said she even when she was feeling blue and suicidal, she figured life was worth living as long as there was a new Rolling Stones album forthcoming. That's roughly how I feel about McCarthy.

Anyway, I know y'all are eager to get back to the tennis. I'll be posting my ownFrankenplayer (see my DIY Champion post)  shortly!

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