The Minnesota dentist who killed Cecil the Lion broke something in me and I have questions.

I posted the following piece earlier today on my personal Facebook. After further thought, despite its disconnection from my usual subjects, I decided to bring it here. I am aware that I could lose readers over this, but I ask that if you are offended, will you take a moment to try to help me understand before you go?

Here’s what I wrote, words in italics were not in the original FB post:

“TLDR: Just a core-dump about the dentist who killed the lion.
Summary: Dentist = bad. Big-game hunting = bad. Middle class “normal” hunting = bad. Internet’s response = also bad.

Also, I’m probably going to regret posting this.

Is my [Facebook] feed especially thick with posts about the dentist who killed the lion, compared to yours? (Because I live in Minnesota, maybe?) Has this gone incredibly viral everywhere?

This thing is making me feel sick. I don’t appreciate sport hunting. I especially hate trophy hunting. I have an instant and immediate distrust of anyone who thinks killing animals is some kind of entertainment, or a way to prove prowess.

I eat meat. When it comes to killing for food, I lobby for comfortable, “natural,” humane living conditions and swift, efficient, painless kills. I do think that non-hunters / non-farmers / non-butchers (including me) have it too easy and are fortunate to live in a world where others are willing to harvest meat for us.

I think the dentist is a horrible person. I would never befriend someone like him, nor finance his hunts by patronizing his business.


I am disturbed by the internet’s response to his actions … or rather to him getting caught and outed for his actions. The collective is taking an awful lot of blood-thirsty glee in “hunting” him. His business, his name, his address and his telephone number have been widely distributed across the web. I keep seeing words like retribution, revenge, punishment, etc. The comments people are leaving for and about him are vicious.

How are we going to feel if someone kills him? And how do we feel right now about destroying his life? He has children and a wife. He must have friends. How is annihilating this one family making anything better?

What, exactly are we doing here? I think it’s likely that the guy didn’t know that he was going to shoot a beloved celebrity lion who was wearing a tracking collar … which is really the only reason we know what he’s done. I have to assume he thought this was a legal hunt … demented and sad, but legal. So in a weird way this was an accident.

Folks who focus on THAT part of this mess (the celebrity lion, the bad hunting practices, the missed shot) aren’t swaying any of the current or potential trophy hunters out there, because they all assume that they’d do it better.

When you take the bungling and the cheating out of the equation, and the sense of outrage that anyone dare be so self-indulgent as to spend $50,000 to shoot a rare animal in Africa, you are left with hunting vs non-hunting.

But most everyone who is commenting about this is very careful to draw a line of distinction between this $50,000 fiasco and “regular” hunting. That sets us up for a trophy-hunting vs meat-hunting showdown.

Here’s my problem: what meat-hunting is, for nearly all of middle class America, translates to this, “Of course I’ll eat it. And that makes it okay that what I really want is the thrill of the kill and a 10 point buck’s head in my living room.”

If you doubt me–if you think it’s about putting meat on the table–we could sit down and figure out the cost per pound of venison or bear, once licenses, and equipment are figured in.

I personally know people who hunt regularly. What they tell me is, “I love being outdoors and seeing the animals.”

Go outdoors then. Take a fucking camera.

[I apologize for the “fucking.” Not because I don’t swear like that, but because it injects more heat into my thoughts than I wanted to. I’m leaving it, though, because that IS what I said as I was figuring our what I wanted to say.]

Is it the camaraderie? Why can’t camping with your buddies be enough?

Is it the shooting? Why can’t that desire be satisfied by target-shooting, trap-shooting, trick-shooting?

Is it about running dogs (for bird hunting)? Why can’t that desire be satisfied by flyball trials, herding, agility coursing?

Is it about practicing and passing along survival skills that may become necessary if our society collapses? Do you understand that if our society collapses we’ll all be eating whatever we can catch and kill, with whatever tools we have at hand, and that it will have little to no relation to the kind of hunting that you do in season, with your guns and bows? [Fast birds, deer and bear are not likely to be options once the ammunition runs out.]

What I’m not hearing is an admission that there’s more to it. How much of the desire to hunt is about peer pressure, and tradition, and proving yourself? Why are you willing to yield to those kinds of pressure?

And if it’s not that stuff, than what is it inside you that wants to kill the animal personally?

That’s a serious question. I lack any desire to kill. To me, it’s a grim, unpleasant necessity sometimes. (Yes, I have intentionally killed small animals. I killed mice for snake food for some years. I’ve killed other animals to end their suffering.)

Hunting for anything other than needed food is pleasure hunting, just like what the dentist does. And I don’t get it.

If we are capable of hating this dentist so much, how is it that we regularly give Uncle Jack a pass for his annual deer hunting trip?

This is trivial, in some ways, compared to all the other ills of the world, except I have this creeping suspicion that it’s not. This overblown, sensational story is lightning in a bottle. This is about privilege and resentment. This is about the ability of a society to shape itself and to censure individuals who step out of line. This is about seeking understanding of the other side … or refusing to do that.

I’ve been trying to see and accept the other side my whole life. I have grown up in a state that approves of hunters. I have hunters in my family. I have friends who hunt.

I’m tired of the explanations for hunting that I’ve received.

What I see is a continuum that includes my duck hunting neighbors AND my lion-baiting neighbor. What is the difference? Why are we willing to crucify the dentist and accept the rest?”

PS: I was going to post some photos of hunters posing with their kills from Flickr’s Creative Commons, but doing that seems a little too similar to what the wider internet is doing to the dentist. My point would not have been to shame individuals, but to illustrate my biggest question to hunters:

Why are you smiling?

It’s a real question, not snark. I genuinely don’t understand.

And is there anything else you could do (like the activities I listed above) that could give you the positive feelings you get when you hunt? If so, why not do those things instead? 

Our distant future, glimpsed through a door.

Busy week. We’re all coming off the bustle of a holiday weekend and, as I mentioned on Monday, my husband’s car was rear-ended on Sunday afternoon. I haven’t had much time to go out looking for photographic opportunities, so I took a little time tonight to tweak an existing photo into an image suitable for postaweek.

It just so happens that I took a lucky photograph the night before this week’s photo prompt — “door” — was announced. It was a pretty boring shot in reality, but I’ve cropped it and played with some filters to make it look more like the way I perceived it when I was inspired to snap the pic.

come into the bar

I love being on the patio of a bar or coffee shop, and I don’t usually pay much attention to whatever might be going on in the building, but on this particular night a really good blues band was playing inside. I tried to sort of translate the auditory glow that was pouring out into the evening by making both a black & white version and a color-saturated version, then merging the two.


This bar is called Hoolihan’s, and it’s just a neighborhood joint, located a couple of blocks off the main drag that runs through a pretty, historic town. It’s a bit run-down, even a little dive-y. They serve a lot of beer, strong single-pour drinks, and overpriced Heggie’s pizza, which they bake in what amounts to a large toaster oven. Most nights there is a local band. The regulars are friendly, middle-aged working folks, many of whom live within walking distance of the pub.

The upper floor of the building is an apartment.

Someday, when my husband retires, we want to own, operate and live in a place just like it.

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Click here to visit the Post a Week home.

Here are some of my favorite entries for the Door prompt  from others:

(I’ll add more as I have time to browse, so feel free to check back.)

No Naked Visitors | no prostitutes at this address | (I sense a theme here … or maybe these are the ones that are catching my eye because it’s late and I’m tired) | where does this one go?Chitradurga Fort | Green Doors | the leper’s door | maybe I’d disappear if I stepped through it | Once There Was a Door | guess which city these doors are in | check out the light captured in the last one |  barn door | Abandoned and Forgotten | the window painter’s vana scary door in a hotel (!) |

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: July 6 – 12.

If you follow me on twitter or FB, you already know this, but I thought I’d share here anyway:

The Ogre-Mobile was rear-ended at speed on Sunday afternoon. My husband is all right; alas poor Yaris is not.

crash w

It’s likely to be a tough week as we deal with car juggling and repairs
… and I was already behind on stuff.
Plus, I’ve got a lot of grateful mucking to do on my beloved.
If you’re waiting on something from me, please forgive the additional delay.
Now back to your regular M & M Media post.


Creepy Doll | song by Jonathan Coulton | video by John Ink

This week I’m most intrigued by the song & video above.
(My Ogre was actually the one who found it and brought it to my attention.)
Beyond that I guess I’ll go with:

movie poster selfless



We have a quiet week this time around. Nothing caught my eye on Netflix or in Redbox. As always, you can check for items I’ve featured in recent weeks by visiting Macabre & Mysterious Media links.


Self/less (2015) PG-13

In general release on Friday, July 10th.
Ben Kinsley and Ryan Reynolds. This one looks good to me.
On IMDb here.

The Gallows (2015) R

In general release Friday, July 10th.
I’m so tired of just about everything I see in this trailer: urban legends, a teenage cast, found footage. Bleh.
On IMDb here.

I’m going to leave the following advice here until Inside Out leaves the theaters. It’s that good.


If you can, go when the theater has a mixed audience of adults (male & female) and kids. For more thoughts about this movie, visit its updated listing here.


No interesting premiers this week either. I told you it was quiet. I did take some time this weekend to watch last week’s premiers, Zoo and Humans. (You can check out my updated thoughts about these two shows and the movie, Max, here.)


Recent Macabre & Mysterious Media links here.

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. Good (or great) work that lives up to its potential.

The pond is a muse that saved my sanity.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge theme is “muse”.  To me, a muse is anything that inspires me to do or to feel or to be.

For the purposes of this postaweek, I decided to gather up some photographs of the pond behind our apartment building. These shots are each taken from basically the same vantage point, our balcony.

Our windows all face this pond, so it’s the first thing I see every morning when I wake up, it is present in my life as I go about my day, and its reflective surface often lulls me to sleep. Seeing it there, with all its changing moods, often inspires me to take a photo.

This, then, is a “do” muse … but it’s more than that.


The pond is also a “be” muse. It has helped me to be content as I adjusted to an entirely new lifestyle.

When my husband lost his job, at the tail end of the The Great Recession, we were forced to move from our little farm in the country to an apartment in a first-ring suburb of St. Paul. It was a terrible time, even though the decision was right for our family. I was particularly devastated by the thought of losing my daily interactions with the wildlife that regularly visited our property.

(Sometimes, those interactions were inside our house! We were victim to an annual invasion of mice in the fall, for example. At least field mice are cuter than regular house mice.)

We chose the building where we now live based on its affordability, its location, and its pet policy. (Our dog is 50+ pounds.) I’m sure we would have taken one of the units on the other side of the building (the side that overlooks the parking lot and a major freeway) but the only two-bedrooms available at the time were on the pond side.

Moving to this particular apartment was a practical choice, but it was also incredibly lucky.

When we were preparing to leave the house, it never occurred to me that there was a place, such as our current apartment, where I could learn to love all the perks of city life, while still having access to nature every day.

(And I don’t miss the mouse roommates at all.)


Our pond is shallow. It rises and falls from one year to the next, depending on weather. It’s a habitat for all sorts of critters. At first I thought it would host just waterfowl and mosquitoes, but a few days of observation revealed an intricate, well-populated ecosystem.

I saw muskrats, raccoon, turtles — even an occasional jumping fish. The waterfowl was so much more than I expected. Sure, there were “just” Canada geese and mallards, but there were also wood ducks, teals, egrets, bald eagles, and a great blue heron.

The first time I looked out at the far shore and saw a deer, I cried with gratitude. Later, when I saw a red fox playing along the bank, I laughed. Back on the farm, I would have had to worry about my chickens. Here, in the city, I can just enjoy the sight.

By the way, I honestly don’t have any still photos of the pond in the winter. (Most of you know how I feel about that horrible season.) I did find a short video, though:


This theme is fascinating to me, and I’d like to do at least a couple of different versions. It would be fun to create galleries that capture some of the muses that inspire me to write. I’d do at least one comprised of haunting images and another of bookish things.


My art is really writing, not photography, so — for the moment — I’d better get back to my book project. I need another thousand words before I sleep.

I'm part of Post A Week 2015

Click here to visit the Post a Week home.

Here are some of my favorite entries for the Muse prompt  from others:

(I’m still adding as I have time to browse the entries, so feel free to check back.)

Black Hills of South Dakota | The SunJakarta cityscape (esp. the storm shot) | It’s my Park! | Graves | As long as you keep that fire alive… | Weird is Beautiful | Emily, a guiding genius | many moods of a cute dog | buskers | looking up | a perfect shot of beach, sea and sky |

This Week in Macabre & Mysterious Media: June 28 – July 5


Johnny Cash & Joni Mitchell – The Long Black Veil

My most heartfelt recommendation this week:




A few favorites are LEAVING Netflix streaming soon, so catch them while you can:

Stephen King’s The Stand (1994) TV mini-series

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
This is a great (Gary Sinese) and terrible (Molly Ringwald) adaptation. I’ll recommend it, but I admit it’s mostly about nostalgia, and love for the book.
On IMDb here.

Also leaving, The Langoliers.

Natural Born Killers (1994) Director’s Cut NR

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
What a cast: Juliette Lewis, Woody Harrelson, Robert Downey Jr., Tommy Lee Jones. Written by Quentin Tarantino. A brutal movie, but a great one. (I have not seen the director’s cut, which is most likely MORE bloody and brutal than the theatrical release — though I’m hard pressed to imagine how.)
On IMDb here.

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) R

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
Another great cast: Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Meryl Streep.
On IMDb here.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) PG

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
I missed this completely when it came out, then forgot all about it. Is it worth a watch?
On IMDb here.

Mission Impossible – seasons 1-7 (1966-1973)

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
Well damn. I wish I’d realized this was available to me before it was too late to make any real headway.
On IMDb here.

Knight Rider – seasons 1-4 (1982 – 1986)

Leaving Netflix streaming on July 1st.
And the same goes for this one.
On IMDb here.

Clearly, I need to do some research into what’s already out there, when it comes to great old TV shows. (I sense a special edition of M&M Media in the near future.) And now for the recent releases:

Underworld (2003) R AND Underworld: Evolution (2006) R 

Underworld: Evolution becomes available on streaming on July 1st. Underworld is already there.
This is a great opportunity to see the first and second installments of the Underworld series. If I remember right, Underworld is a fun adventure movie–not great art, not great horror, but a fine way to spend a couple of hours. I’ll rewatch and, if I still like it, I’ll give the sequel a go.
On IMDb here.

Ascension (2014) TV mini-series

Available on Netflix now.
This was a three-night mini-series on SyFy, in December. I’m a sucker for a good period piece and the reviews look promising.
On IMDb here.

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) PG

Coming to Netflix on July 1st.
I can’t find a decent trailer, which does not bode well. Still, I think I liked this when it came out. I’m not going to give it a color rating yet, because I don’t really remember it. If I give it a go, I’ll come back to update my opinion.
On IMDb here.

This week, Redbox will be getting in a couple of things worth mentioning too:

Maggie (2015) R

(Click here for original listing w/ trailer.)
Available in Redbox on July 7th, but you can add it to your wishlist now.
It came and went so fast that I didn’t get a chance to see it in the theater. Now I’ve got it pre-reserved at Redbox. ‘Still looking forward to it.

The Houses October Built (2014) R

Already  available on Netflix streaming.
Coming to Redbox on June 30th.
Saw it. Eh. I liked the first third best, and the ending felt rushed. Neither as suspenseful (which would have been good) nor as gory (which would have been bad) as it could have been. Also, this is one of those movies where you end up thinking they are all idiots, who could have walked away at any time. I’ll add it as an alternate to the Halloween movie list, because it’s not horrible and it does capture something about Halloween. I will say that it made me realize I’m awfully trusting (too trusting?) when it comes to haunted attractions.
On IMDb here.



Terminator Genisys (2015) PG-13

In general release on Tuesday, June 30th.
Boy, this one cries out for a drive-in screening, doesn’t it?
On IMDb here.

Max (2015) PG

In general release already.
Here’s my complete outlier for the week. We saw the preview for Max while waiting for Inside Out to start. All three of us choked up. (The 19 year old boy, the Ogre and me.) Way to hit me in multiple tender spots, movie-maker-people. As soon as we all have a day off again, we’re going to see it. I will bring a purse full of Kleenex. Can someone reassure me that the dog doesn’t die? Please?

UPDATE: We teared up when we were supposed to, but we also laughed inappropriately at how bad parts of this movie were. My son suggested it would have been much better if they’d spent more time showing us the rehabilitation and adjustment of the war dog, and he’s 100% right. When it comes to the humans in the movie, there’s far too much stereotyping, troping, and character simplification going on. You kind of know a movie is pretty mediocre when a few lines, scattered through the film, strike you as REALLY good … compared to the rest. Save your theater money and wait for this to become available to you via a cheaper option.

SPOILER: Highlight here -> The dog does not die.
On IMDb here.

Speaking of movies that hit me right in the heart:


If you can, go when the theater has a mixed audience of adults (male & female) and kids. For more thoughts about this movie, visit its updated listing here.


Humans | AMC | Sundays | 9/8c | June 28th

This show premiered on SUNDAY the 28th. If you can’t On Demand it, you can watch it at AMC.
From IMDb:
“In a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a ‘Synth’ – a highly-developed robotic servant that’s so similar to a real human it’s transforming the way we live.”

I’m especially vulnerable to emotions inspired by the ethical problems inherent in A.I. (The movie did a number on me.) I just saw Ex Machina, though, and I liked that. Perhaps I’m too sensitive about the topic when it involves a child robot. I’ll absolutely give Humans a shot. I think shows like this can be a good way to get people thinking about, and talking about, the potential consequences of bringing artificial intelligence into the world.

UPDATE: I’m giving this a cautious green, but I reserve the right to change my mind after I see some more episodes. I like what actress Katherine Parkinson is doing with the role of Laura, the mother in a family that has just obtained its first synth. As usual, I hate the way the teenage children are presented as sullen and difficult … but it seems apparent that popular media in general is incapable of suggesting there is any other option, so I can’t hold that against this show … at least not too much.

Zoo | CBS | Tuesdays | 9/8c | June 30th

From IMDb:
“A young scientist searches to find out what’s causing a rash of violent animal attacks.”

From James Patterson. Hmm. Not sure about this. I hate seeing animals killed, even in fiction. I’ll probably give it a go, but I’m skeptical.

UPDATE: It actually started off better than I thought, then resorted to a typical sci-fi plot device, then bounced back from that … a little. I think it’s just going to drive me crazy as I’m compelled to think, over and over, “but that’s not even close to what an animal would do!” I’m going to give it another couple of episodes to see where it goes.


Recent Macabre & Mysterious Media links here.

The color of the title is keyed as follows:
Black = Have not yet experienced. I’m interested … or I think you’ll be interested.
Red = Have experienced. Not recommended. Worse than the reviews or buzz indicated.
Orange = Have experienced. Recommended, with reservations or cautions.
Green = Have experienced. Recommended. Good (or great) work that lives up to its potential.

A Roy G. Biv gallery, by the book.

The photo prompt for this week’s challenge became available last Friday. I wasn’t sure I’d participate because I was feeling under the weather.

But then: serendipity. On Sunday, Ogre and I stopped at the library to pick up a book he’d reserved. I decided I wanted to just browse the psychology section. I wasn’t thinking about the challenge at all when this book title popped out at me:

Sometimes the universe makes my life so easy.

All I had to do was go through my photographs to find the ones that most closely approximate the shades of Roy G. Biv — as illustrated by the book. (Yet I’m still posting it on the last possible day. Sheesh. It was a rough week.)

I'm part of Post A Week 2015

Click here to visit the Post a Week home.

Here are some of my favorite entries for the Roy G. Biv prompt  from others:

(I’m still adding as I find them, so feel free to check back.)

A Rainbow in Winter | Light as a Feather | wife at the end of the rainbow | Street Art [Rendition] | a setting sun in Scotland | wet tarmac | Peggy Lee sings a rainbow (must listen to song)Roy G Biv and his shy twin Vib G Yor | in black and white | a lovely misty spectrum | a crisp spectrum (love the oranges) | rainbow jello (and hair) | shop front | including fire & ice | just the ice, as prisms | in one shot, at Epcot | round rainbow through the trees (gorgeous) | hand-painted silk scarf | ghosting orb | inspiration for a rainbow of (unprintable) words | an ode to indigo |

Photographing memories, off-season and on.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably already know that I’ve been taking more photographs lately. (It’s easy to take a lot of pictures in the good seasons–any season except winter that is–because I actually go out and about instead of huddling like a post-apocalyptic survivor in my home.)

My new (nearly) daily practice makes me more aware of my surroundings and it entertains my muse. Some of the shots are artistic, some are just personally meaningful, but they all capture something about my life that I’d like to remember.

Today I started a Flickr album just for those pictures, because I realized they will get buried in my social media feeds and eventually disappear. I might do something with them here at the blog too, but for now–if you want to see them all in one place–feel free to pop over to my hauntingphotoaday album at Flickr.

I’ve been getting so much satisfaction from this practice that I’ve decided to plunge in just a little bit deeper, by starting to participate in the WordPress sponsored photo a week challenge, which you can read about here:

I'm part of Post A Week 2015

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“Off-Season” is this week’s photo prompt, which gives me a fine opportunity to embarrass myself. I would have liked to start off with something more like actual photography than the following very-snapshot-y pics, but you get what you get when you’re responding to a prompt.

When I was organizing photos last week, I came across one, taken back in April, in which I am giving the photographer (probably Ogre) The Look. It’s not one of my favorite photos of me, but it nails that particular expression we are all guilty of. It amused me, so I put it up on my personal Facebook page. Here it is:

The Look

Within seconds, I got this comment from a woman I went to high school with: “Is it still Christmas at your house?”

That’s when I saw, for the first time in months, that gold garland hanging on the wall. Oops.

Regular readers know that I’m not a fan of holidays (other than Halloween) and that our family doesn’t do much in the way of decorating for Christmas. This last Christmas, though, I got caught up in the holiday spirit and spent a whole day lining the ceiling in our living room with multi-colored “firefly” blinky lights and garland.

We fell in love with the way the lights reflected off the ceiling and made the room glow when all the lamps were turned off. After Christmas, we still wanted and needed the cheerful lights to get through the winter. So we left them up. When spring came, we discovered we STILL liked the way they looked at night, when we were curled up watching TV or working on our individual projects.

Now it’s summer, and they are still up.

off season

Last night, we noticed that one of the strings is dying. In the next couple of days, I will take them down, because there’s little more depressing than a half-dead string of twinkle lights. If they were still burning brightly, though, I wouldn’t touch them.

So how’s that for off-season?

Edit: I’m doing the neighborly thing and taking a peek at other participant’s responses. Here are some of my favorites:

Off course | And in walks …(An artistic) Christmas Lights in June | Doormats | California Polar Bear Plunge | Off-Season DQ | East Harlem | Long Beach Island in September (These remind me of NC.) | Last of the summer blooms | Chicken Season | Frost Rose | “A rose garden is a still, expectant place in England in late May.” | Lonely Sailor | Germany’s North CoastCougar feasting on carcass (reminds me of working at the wolf center) | TomatoesSummer Cabins, Closed for Winter | South England | Rain Gauge in the Sierra Nevada Foothills |

And the challenge led me to a blog that features “Life & Death in a Small Town (including cemetery photos.)


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