Of Wenches and Wyrmslayers

This post is about video games and women. I’ve played fantasy computer games since my dad brought home The Bard’s Tale II for the Apple IIGS. Computer roleplaying games have influenced my fiction in ways that range from my proclivity for epic scope to my use of strangeness and suspense. I am an educated woman who’s about to turn 44, and I give a lot of respect to video games. For the most part, in turn, I’ve enjoyed their growing respect for me. We’ve come a long way since the only woman in the video game was the princess whom Mario had to save. I could write a treatise here that touches on everyone from Samus to Lara Croft to Captain Shepherd. But I will settle it all on the fact that I play Bethesda’s Skyrim with a female protagonist, and that she slays dragons, and wins civil wars, and talks with gods, and is basically a badass whose fan-fiction journals have also generated more traffic on my blog than anything else I have ever written.

That said, I must confess that the fans of video games—the players like me—have a long way to go when it comes to women. I’m speaking broadly here. More and more gamers actually *are* women. (And granting the fact that women can make the worst misogynists of all, I’ll accept this as a net win.) But you don’t have to go far on gaming websites to find commentators who say that X female character is too athletic for their tastes, or that Y studio’s games have suffered now that they’ve brought in same-sex romance options. And then, Lord, there is the modding community. A mod, dearies, is a modification to a video game. It usually comes from the player base, where freelance programmers write little scripts that do everything from putting more clutter around a game’s town, to making whole worlds for others to play in. Mods are usually free; they have served as programming portfolios for many coders who have sought to break into the business; and in terms of games such as Minecraft and Skyrim they can proliferate to the tens of thousands, while achieving millions of downloads. When I write my little blog about Skyrim, I talk about my experience with mods. Yesterday, for instance, I found an orc, drunk and sobbing in a burned-out shack. He wondered if I could help him find his lost coin—which we eventually located in his pocket.

So I go hunting for these mods all the time. Some of them are as professional and thoughtful as any studio offering of interactive fiction. But it’s also here, on their download pages, that I want to get drunk and start sobbing too. This is what I found yesterday: Mod 1. Hairstyles! Hundreds of women’s styles to choose from. Dozens of styles for men. Mod. 2 Naughty Girls of Tamriel. Mod 3. High Heels for Vampires. Mod 4. Immersive Wenches. Mod 5. Harem. Mod 6. Spells to change bystanders’ hair. Mod 7. Spells to make people undress.

And this, dearies, is to say nothing of the body mods. I don’t think I would see as many breasts if I pursued a plastic surgeon’s job portfolio. I downloaded one very good body mod—something that made everybody in the game look more photorealistic. I used it to create the on-screen avatar of my female character. She had a stick neck and spindly arms. I upped the weight slider to give her some meat on her bones, and for the most part, the only thing that changed were her boobies. I picked something that looked mostly plausible. I logged into the game, and the women in the town had chests that ranged from noticeable, to opulent, to aggressive, to urban myth. This game takes place along some very steep mountains, and I don’t know how these ladies don’t daily tumble to their deaths.

I ripped out the mod. I found something else. And in my search, I did come across the Practical Female Armors mod, which replaces the bikini-style breastplate/platter with something that actually protects. And I also found a mod that allows women hips, and shoulders, and even a pot belly. (I tried to find the name for you, but my search results came back with Real Girls of Skyrim—and that was not, not what I was looking for.)

My point is that although sensible body mods are out there, they are literally hard to find. And although there exist tons of professional content from thoughtful artists, much of the fantasy about females is still very troubling. I understand that fantasy is the stock and trade of these games; it’s no accident that I partake of a hobby where I can depose an evil ruler, root out slavers, and stop an orc from crying. But I am also aware that in real life, I will not come across any situation where I’ll even have the option to shoot lightning from my fingertips, or play a manticore to sleep with my flute. And call me old fashioned, but I do worry about the fantasies that allow someone to force an impossibly buxom woman to take off her clothes.

Brilliance Requires Room for Light

This NYT article interviews David Dowling, who just published A Delicate Aggression: Savagery and Survival in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

https://www.nytimes.com/…/delicate-aggression-iowa-writers-…

This book, which I have not read, talks about the “delicate aggression” that inhabits the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Among other details, it mentions the anointing that has famously happened through Vonnegut’s parties, say, where handpicked students met with publishers. When I was there, 20 years ago, I didn’t see anything that strange. But I did have friends who joked about every student’s “seed,” from first to fiftieth.

I’m glad I went to Iowa. It’s where I learned that I didn’t know anything. It’s where I learned that the writing life would not be easy. And it’s ultimately the start of where I’d learn to define my vision by defending it. To that end, I discovered (later than I’d like) that I should not have listened to most of the people there. Nor should they have listened to me. The fact is that nobody really knew what anyone else was doing.

Because of the competition for anointment, we faced a lot of pressure to commit brilliance. And because we tried so hard to achieve that brilliance, we frequently confused it with the feat of pleasing our accepted authorities on brilliance. This led to some fairly regular imitation of those authorities. Those guys were artistic masters, and the tradition of emulating mastery is an important kind of study. But being what they were, these masters maybe knew something we couldn’t yet see: Producing brilliance and spotting brilliance are two very different gigs.

This, I think, is because brilliance is like love, in how it strikes where it pleases and in never exactly the same way twice. It’s because brilliance of the creative sort is typically something that nobody’s seen before. And in this way, brilliance, by definition, is blinding to anyone who’s at all close to it—until, in its completion, it has started to cool.

In a two-year grad program, somebody can finish writing a few short stories. A master can call them brilliant, and the master will probably be right. But as ongoing projects, brilliant novels are harder to spot. So, conversely, are all those little edges of brilliance, those things sticking out from the imitations, that are difficult to notice simply because they’re the color of light.

The workshop model—the cutting and the sanding—it doesn’t always serve this emerging brilliance. In fact, despite the care of its best masters, it can shave that brilliance clean off. And yet, at its best, the workshop can teach the writer to make room for the brilliance. It can invite brilliance by encouraging students to read anything that inspires; to build a calmer anticipation of brilliance by not playing student favorites; to acknowledge that brilliance can visit each of these incredibly-talented people, by incredibly-individual means, and that the rarity of brilliant art is directly related to the wisdom it takes to see that the brilliance has entered the room and that, for heaven’s sake, now’s the time to shut all the windows and doors. My best workshop teacher said it this way: “You never know what anybody’s going to produce.” My own advice is to avoid the traditions (literary and otherwise) that suggest, to those anybodies, all the things that they won’t.

I’ve begun to think that a writing workshop, as a metaphor, is all too bullish. It suggests rigid materials thrown together rather violently, as its tinkers strive to create something both beautiful and durable. My advice is to go outside that construct—to actually open the door. Look, then, at the tree that’s growing the actual material. Look: There’s the brilliance. It’s in the space between the branches.

Lewdness, Liberal Laughter, and the Rise of Trump

While I’ve been exercising, I’ve been watching old shows on Hulu. I started with David E. Kelley’s The Practice, and I’ve since moved onto its spinoff, Boston Legal (which I’ve barely started). As procedural dramas from the Bush era, these programs offer some interesting lessons in our cultural history. It is, for example, quite a corrective to see how *only compared to Trump* could the Dubya years present as the good old days. And within the framework of where we are now, it’s somewhat chilling to notice the sprouts of Trumpism in the material-witness detainments of post-9/11, the fearful embrace of torture, the opening of Guantanamo, and Bush’s penchant for setting up Protest Zones to corral his detractors.

So far, at least, I’ve drawn most of these parallels from The Practice. This is a show about scrappy defense attorneys who try to preserve their idealism (and their humanity) while defending some truly odious folks. But near the end of The Practice, comes along Alan Shore (played by James Spader), who, according to the New York Times is, “a lecherous, twisted antitrust lawyer with a breezy disregard for ethics.” That about sums him up. But he is also so broken, and so outrageous, and so backwardly noble, that he steals the show. In fact, he picks it right up, and carries it over to make the spin off, Boston Legal. This show, from what I can tell, is full of even more “lecherous, twisted antitrust lawyer[s] with a breezy disregard for ethics.” Chief among them is William Shatner’s character, Denny Crane, who openly hires women based on their looks, roots for the shooting of all “unAmerican” Americans, and yet somehow gets me all misty-eyed when he achieves his life dream of hiring a prostitute with a wooden leg. (“Made of solid ash. The same wood that Manny used to help break the curse in the World Series.”) Boston Legal is horrible and hysterical. And as with its earnest foils in The Practice, Kelley also usually lands its characters on the side of good (if not law). Part of the show’s own charm works as if Alan and Denny are two of hell’s oiliest imps who’ve been freed to commit as much mischief as possible, as long as it harms only the folks who truly have it coming. So, on my treadmill, I march and I cackle. And then, yesterday, Alan turned to an indignant law-abider, and said, “Deal with it.”

After that, I watched in silence for a while. I have to be careful here, because I’m well aware that Alan Shore is not Donald Trump. For one thing, he has more confidence, eloquence, and kindness than Donald Trump. But I do think that Alan, and Denny, and the rest of their in-your-face cuteness have helped to anticipate Donald Trump. This is Hollywood’s fault—not FOX News’s. And I certainly don’t lay the blame entirely on Boston Legal, but on the trope that it represents. Off the top of my head, I can think of House and The Shield, as other examples–with less-lecherous cohorts maybe springing from Simon Cowell and even Bart Simpson. Boston Legal aired on ABC—a studio so comparably liberal that around that same time, it had started its diversity flagship, Grey’s Anatomy. It was mainstream stuff. ABC and David E. Kelley made a trade—in fact, an Emmy-winning dramedy—on smug, sexually-harassing rudeness that is so defiant and so in-your-face, that bad guys get took by the own schemes, law-abiding guys shake their fists in frustration, and the audience laughs and laughs. Heck, the audience cheers. And in doing so, the audience of this show–and the others I mention–acquiesce to making folklore of “a lecherous, twisted” antihero “with a breezy disregard for ethics,” who dispenses with the so-called niceties and just gets the job done.

Boston Legal itself is not horribly conservative. In fact, it eventually won Kelley a Peabody for taking a stand against capital punishment. But in this early-2000s era of television, it didn’t need to be Republican. FOX fomented the propaganda. Reality TV started looking for its apprentices. Kelley wrote mostly for laughs, and cash, probably—and he got them both. But where The Practice highlighted how bad things were in the Bush era, Boston Legal (and programs like it) helped to enable how bad things were going to get. And, dearies, the fact is that we let it. By watching, we did. They say a person can laugh to kill the devil. But apparently, it can also let him in.

Assassin’s Screed

This is a post about video games. Specifically, it’s about Assassin’s Creed. I’m in the middle of AC Odyssey—which is to say I’ve played only 200 hours. Despite its unusual brutality, it’s kept me interested for the reasons that all AC games attract me—namely, locale and history. For those of you who don’t know the AC franchise, you play as a member of the ancient, worldwide Assassin sect (as opposed to the ancient, worldwide Templar sect). Your job is to dispatch targets who seek to destroy humankind. And (until recently*), you accrue serious penalties if you kill civilians. This is all standard video-game stuff. The difference is that the AC series devotes each entry to a historical place and time. And its developers pour near-excruciating effort into making its settings as accurate as possible. The games have toured Medici Italy, gaslight London, Peloponnesian-War-era Greece, and Revolutionary New England, just to name a few. I’ve visited 3D renditions of the House of Parliament, a Spartan trireme, and the Battle of Bunker Hill. I’ve been menaced by Jack the Ripper, I’ve lost a debate with Socrates, and I’ve helped Ben Franklin find lost pages of his Almanac. I’ve committed some killings along the way. (Alexander Graham Bell helped me develop a hook launcher, so I could better skulk along the London rooftops.) But what I remember most is how I’ve caught a glimpse of what it might have been like to cross the Atlantic in a British galleon, or fear a plague as it sweeps ancient Athens, or just watch the haze as it spread from the child-run factories along the Thames. I wouldn’t say that AC educates me. (While its settings strive for authenticity, the story itself can bend the facts.) But for a game series that’s all about killing, it sure brings history to life.

The trouble is that, for the most part, AC is really, really white. Or at least, it’s really, really western. (You get to play somebody who’s half Native American in Assassin’s Creed III–but you also help him participate in the American Revolution.) I think some smartphone spinoff once situated the player in India (during their colonial era). And last year did offer AC: Origins, which takes place in ancient Egypt. But the Egypt outing gets only half credit, because Egypt is so very part of the western canon. What I’d like to see next is something that shatters that canon. I want the rest of the world. Here are some ideas:

*The Empire of Ethiopia. (Coptic lore holds that Ethiopia holds the Ark of the Covenant.)
*Feudal Japan. (For extra spice, throw in the Mongols. And the oni.)
*Ivan the Terrible’s Russia. (You can make the case that Russia is European—but then you can also argue the reverse. And anyhow, those pesky Tatars were not. Plus: Baba Yaga.)
*Or, let’s play with anything having to do with Aztecs, Olmecs, Toltecs, Incas, or Mayans. (Picture it: Jaguars! Were-Jaguars! Ball games! Alien visitation! Chunchucmil! AND MOSTLY, regular people trying to resist invaders.)

Right? Shouldn’t these be some of the next steps? Or maybe I’m missing something. Where do you want to see Assassin’s Creed?

*The Greek iteration of AC is a straight-up bloodbath. I don’t know if this is because the series wants to let people depart from the stealth mechanics of the old games, or if, as the descendant of 300’s Leonides, you’re just supposed to be that Spartan. In any event, it’s nearly unavoidable to lay waste to some peasant grandma who’s decided that, despite the fact that you’re wearing Theseus’ actual breastplate, she needs to come at you with a broom.

Sunday Brunch

KV

I live in Iowa City, down the street from the Writers’ Workshop. We have a restaurant on Iowa Avenue that keeps this photo of Mr. Vonnegut on the wall. He has the writer’s mustache. He has the writer’s stare. Clearly, he didn’t have cats while he was here, or both his novel and that carpeting would be in shreds. He says, “Why are you eating in this restaurant, when you know what you should be writing instead?” He says, “Are you impressed with this picture, where I’m trailing my novel behind me like something that got stuck to my shoe?” He says, “I bet you’re surprised that Kurt Vonnegut wore such nicely-pressed shirts.” I dab my napkin and plunge my French press. I say that I read Slaughterhouse 5 in a lawn chair, in the middle of a fallow field, while a pheasant ogled from the ditch weed. “Ditch weed,” says Vonnegut. “You can’t smoke that shit.”  I tell him it was a high anyway. I tell him that sometimes, when I’m writing, I can grow my hair like that. He doesn’t change his expression. This is the look he gives me. He says, “Get back to work.”

MASH Epilogues Vol. 6

(These are my final thoughts on where the MASH characters ended up after the war.)

MAJ. MARGARET HOULIHAN

What we know: Belonging to the army all her life, Margaret decided that after the war, she’d take a post at a military hospital in the States.

What I think: By the mid 1950s, Margaret had become a senior member of the surgical nursing staff at Walter Reed, in Washington DC. She also sometimes worked as an instructor of trauma nursing at Johns Hopkins. The army had been good to her; it was her family business and it showed her things that most women of her generation didn’t get to see. But she knew she would never go overseas again—just as she knew she would she never marry again. (That dream she had in Korea, of the bloody wedding—it still haunted her.) From a more practical standpoint, her first marriage wasn’t so great. And she realized she didn’t ever want to take care of a man—much less at the expense of her own career.

She grew to consider Erin Hunnicutt as a godchild of sorts. She considered Col. Potter as a father, of sorts. She considered BJ as the kind of man she would marry, if she had to. And she considered Hawkeye as someone she occasionally needed. She came to visit him for the first time in the States, when he’d come to Boston while Daniel was sick. She traveled up to Boston again, after Daniel died. (This all started after Hawkeye had already made contact with Charles, and at first, Hawkeye didn’t mention Margaret to Charles at all. In fact, after a while, these were some of the occasions when Charles became his most tactful.) Margaret and Hawkeye didn’t mean to start a love affair. It happened after a Chinese dinner while Daniel was sick, and they barely spoke a word the whole night. In fact, over all the following years, they never had an actual romance. It was more of an immediate intimacy—a resonance—a meeting of their most vulnerable parts. Their reunions never lasted for more than a long weekend, but they recurred as a kind of longing. It was an homage, or an understanding. It was something that neither of them fully had with anyone else.

They talked about it once:

Hawkeye said, “Do you think we’ll keep doing this when we’re old and gray?”

“Ha,” said Margaret. “Not if I keep using Clairol.”

“But I don’t get it.”

“Get what?”

“This! Us! I’m already old and gray. But you could have anyone you wanted.”

“Huh.”

“Why me? Why us? Why six days out of the year?”

“Maybe I’m busy the rest.”

“Don’t tell me the other 359 are with Frank.”

“Perish the thought.”

“So?”

“You’re actually serious? I can’t believe that Hawkeye Pierce wants pillow talk.”

“Just a little pillow. To cushion your clusters.”

“Well, I guess that’s it, isn’t it?”

“What’s it?”

“If you must know–“

“What?”

“What I mean is that when we were over there, and while all of you were watching Radar grow up and making sure that our patients got a chance to grow up, that maybe I was growing up too.”

“Well if that’s the case, than that’s the nicest thing that ever came from a war.”

“I’m not saying that war does good things. It does awful, destructive things. I’m just saying that with all of you, and the nurses, it was one of the first places that I ever felt I had much of a family.”

“So, what, this is some kind of gratitude?”

“No. I didn’t say that. But if war becomes your household, maybe you can’t ever really leave the yard.”

 

COL. POTTER’S MEMORIAL

In the 1980s, Margaret was the one who told the others of Colonel Potter’s passing. By then, Radar was in his early fifties. (If you want a laugh, consider that he was old enough to date Blanche Devereaux.) The rest of the group had reached their sixties, except for Sidney, who was in his seventies.

Everyone attended the service, except Frank (who couldn’t get away) and Trapper (who didn’t know Potter). At the memorial, all the MASHers sat together in a Methodist church. From Potter’s family, to patients, to other co-workers, the sanctuary was packed. Everyone, except Margaret, wore civilian clothes. Mulcahy gave the homily for the service. Radar eulogized Potter with his line about being a man and being a father. Hawkeye gave a small speech, where he said that Potter was the kind of soldier who served in wars because although he hated them, he loved those who fought them even more. After the funeral, in the Potters’ backyard, Charles revealed that he had procured a bottle of brandy from 1952. In honor of the colonel’s WWI tontine, the comrades toasted him with it. And Charles himself finished the toast with, goodbye, farewell, and amen.

Radar’s son, Henry, had known the Potters from their occasional visits. He attended the funeral with his infant—Eva—who was Radar’s first grandchild.

In the Potters’ yard, everybody held this grand baby, except Hawkeye. “We wanted to name her Sophie,” said Henry, “but then we heard about the horse.”

“Better than Babette,” said Charles, “or she’d been named for a Guinea pig.”

“Hawk?” Radar stood before him. “You can hold her, if you want.”

Margaret touched BJ’s arm. Hawkeye sat with his hands on his knees. “No. I’m sorry. I can’t.”

Later that night, they played poker and croquet. Mildred and Klinger shared one of the colonel’s old cigars. Margaret and BJ had gone out, leaving Hawkeye to play cribbage with Mulcahy. Now they returned—and behind them, fresh from the airport, came Trapper John. Hawkeye sat. Trapper hugged Radar’s son.

“Great to meet you,” said Henry, “but I think you thought I was Dad.”

Trapper was jolly and sheepish. He embraced the right O’Reilly. Mulcahy, shaking Trapper’s hand, led him to Hawkeye. Sidney gave a half smile. Trapper stood. Hawkeye had him sit. Trapper put his hand on Hawkeye’s arm, and Hawkeye put his head in his own hands.

Near the end of the night, the group looked over Potter’s paintings. Among his newer ones (and there were dozens), he had a portrait of Klinger, Soon Lee, and their son (from twenty years ago); he had a watercolor of a Korean man in old military dress, astride Potter’s old horse; and he had a sketch of BJ holding a child, in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. The most recent paintings were some of the colonel’s very best—each of a horse, or studies of parts of a horse. Mildred said they depicted Sputnik, a neighbor’s Palomino down the road. Sidney said the brilliance wasn’t surprising, that studies in Alzheimer’s showed how a patient’s visual artistry became tremendously acute, as the patient began to paint things as if he were seeing them for the first time. One struck Charles especially, of the horse coming over a hill at morning.

After midnight, BJ, Margaret and Hawkeye took a taxi back to their hotel. They made arrangements to meet for breakfast. “And now,” said Hawkeye, “I have to tell you people what I learned tonight.”

“That Winchester bought that painting for $5000?” said BJ. “That’s what I learned tonight.”

“No—no. Better,” said Hawkeye. “Better. I learned that when it comes down to it, your best friends will help you keep all your other friends.”

Margaret said, “That’s because they love you.”

“Yeah.” He kissed her on the head. “Yeah, I think that’s why.”

MASH Epilogues Vol. 5

(These are my continuing thoughts of where the MASH characters ended up, after the war.)

MAJ. CHARLES EMERSON WINCHESTER III

What we know: After Korea, he became chief of thoracic surgery at Boston Mercy Hospital. The war, however, maimed music for him, as it always carried the reminder of the POW orchestra he directed before they were killed.

What I think: After the war, Charles enjoyed his Beacon Hill. Returning to status was its own homecoming—and he found, to his gratification, that being a veteran conferred an additional standing of its own. He had too much class, however, to trade on the latter. The war changed him—and he meant what he wrote to Margaret. In the late ‘50s, his sister, Honoria, introduced him to a friend who played low horn in the Boston Symphony. She laughed at the story of Charles’s military comrades flattening his French horn with a jeep. She reminded him that music could exist to express melancholy, and that this was a reason it should be treasured. Charles gave his love to it—and to her. They married two years later.

Charles’s wife—Marie—had a second cousin from Louisiana who served at the 4077th. He was the staff-sergeant, Rizzo. Charles did not find this a happy coincidence. As it happens, however, Rizzo had a nephew who attended medical school, and, in the 1980s, served for a year as a psychiatrist at Boston’s St. Eligius Hospital. Well into his retirement, Charles encountered this Dr. Beale at a symphony—and he found the resemblance to Rizzo far too unsettling.

Living in Boston, Charles was the closest MASHer to Hawkeye’s Crabapple Cove. In the mid 1950s, Hawkeye spent some time in Boston while his father (Daniel) was sick. Remembering Charles’s support during Daniel’s health crisis in Korea, Hawkeye met Charles a few times for dinner. Charles stayed grave and tactful.

A year later, after Daniel’s death, Hawkeye and Charles visited again. But without a crisis to discuss, the conversation strained. Hawkeye finally divulged that he was not practicing medicine. First it sounded as if Hawkeye had been too busy with his father’s care. Charles said that, whenever Hawkeye was ready, he could offer Hawkeye a job in Boston. But Hawkeye admitted that he couldn’t bring himself to practice surgery—that every operation brought him back to the war. Charles finally suggested that Hawkeye should write, that he could sit around in his purple bathrobe and rant for the good of all.

“I don’t know,” said Hawkeye. “I might be just too angry.”

“Pierce,” said Charles, “first drafts commonly bleed.”

 

CAPT. HAWKEYE PIERCE

What we know: Serving in Korea for longer than any physician at the 4077, Hawkeye could never escape the war. His sanity degraded as he refused to relinquish his humanity. He eventually spent time in a mental hospital after he inadvertently contributed to the death of a Korean baby. He was never the same afterwards. After the war, he returned to Crabapple Cove, to live near his father, Daniel.

What I think: The MASH books portray Hawkeye as practicing medicine in Maine, and eventually attracting his old Swamp-mates as partners. In the meantime, the books show how Hawkeye becomes more conservative as he ages. I don’t believe the television Hawkeye moved in either direction. After the war, he did return to Crabapple Cove. He slept. He drank. He took care of Daniel. He figured he would open a medical practice, but discovered he couldn’t. When he worked on children, he saw Korean villagers. When he worked on adults, he saw soldiers. He was unable to bring himself even to hold a baby.

He talked some to Sidney Freedman—not formally, and mostly at the urgings of BJ. Finally, Hawkeye told Sidney of Charles’s idea about writing.

“Well sure,” said Sidney. “Why not? You’ve got tons of great material.”

“Yeah,” said Hawkeye, “but I don’t know if I want to invite the whole world into Hawkeye’s Museum of Melancholy.”

“Well,” said Sidney, “so keep some back rooms for yourself. But, you know what my people say. Melancholy has a holy end.”

“They say that?”

“Or maybe I just say that. But they *could* say that.”

So Hawkeye wrote his memoirs. During the start of the Vietnam conflict, he also published anti-war letters in the Boston Globe. These attracted the attention of journalist, Aggie O’Shea. After she learned that Hawkeye has a manuscript, (and after she asked if BJ was still married) she put Hawkeye in touch with an editor friend at Random House. He published the book to some acclaim. Dick Cavett even hosted Hawkeye on his show. Hawkeye also embarked on a reading tour, visiting with the Potters in Hannibal, Margaret in DC, Charles in Boston, BJ in San Francisco, and Radar in Iowa City, (after Radar drove all the way from South Dakota).

“Radar!” he said. “You’ve got more money than Frank!”

“And I didn’t have to turn Republican neither.”

During all this publicity, Hawkeye remained charming, angry, and glib. Erin Hunnicutt adored him. But with the help of both BJ and Margaret, she saw Hawkeye as someone who gave enough of himself to his army tour that he never stopped fighting. “Not fighting Korea,” said BJ, “but War. And by that, I mean the horseman.”

Perhaps in ways at least equal to what she’d seen from her father and her male classmates, Erin fought for peace in the name of all potential Hawkeyes. In the meantime, Hawkeye intended to attack Frank “All Communism” Burns in the press. But when he discovered what Frank did for Erin, he relented, entirely.