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         Figures materialized from the dense greenery that lined the sides of the highway. Before Chess even realized what was happening, they were surrounded by six men, all pointing firearms at them. As the girls moved close to him, Chess touched their arms protectively. But he knew all they could really do was wait to find out what their attackers wanted.
         Curtly, one of the men said, “You will come with us.”
         Their belongings were searched, but Sariel’s knife and the link-phones were the only things seized. Chess clutched his backpack nervously when it was shoved back into his arms, and wondered if he would ever get the link-phone returned -- or if they would even get out of there alive.
         Obediently, they plodded off the road and into a pathless area that was thick with trees and underbrush. As they waded along, Chess tried to feel hopeful that they had not been robbed or killed outright. This seemed to be an organized group, perhaps living in this area. He held Ileana’s gaze for a moment. And then, suddenly, the nearly impenetrable woods gave way to a bright, sunny clearing.
         As Chess’s eyes adjusted to the new level of light, he found himself staring at a strange object nearby. It was a piece of machinery, about the height of a man. Actually, it looked like a windmill, and it was turning rapidly in the slight breeze. Confused, he blinked at it, and then he followed the others.
         They made their way easily now, down gravel paths, past more machinery, alongside gardens that were neatly plotted out and growing vigorously, and past numerous people. The people stopped what they were doing and squinted curiously, but without any sign of fear, as the party went by. Chess noticed that he saw mostly women, and that they all wore some fashion of cloths on their heads, even in the heat of the afternoon. He exchanged another glance with Ileana as they approached some low buildings. Bidden by the men, they entered one of the buildings and sat on the floor.
         Next to Chess, Sariel muttered softly, “Men are dominant here.”
         Chess looked at her in surprise. “So, what’s new about that?” he whispered.
         “She’s right,” Ileana hissed at him, quickly, because men were crowding into the cramped interior. “You must do the talking here.” She glanced at Sariel. “Ask for their chief.”
         “Great,” Chess groaned under his breath. He had really been hoping to allow Ileana to do the talking. Heart pounding, he stood and said, in a loud voice, “I insist on speaking to your leader.”
         “I am he,” a voice replied, and a nondescript middle-aged man stepped out in front of Chess.
         “Hello.” Chess nodded at the man, and tried to control the wavering of his voice. If the girls were correct in their assessment of the disposition of the village, then he did not dare look to either one of them for help. He would have to manage this on his own. And how, exactly, was he supposed to explain why they had found him wandering in the wilderness with two girls? He took a deep breath, introduced himself, and then gestured toward Sariel. “This is my wife. And this…” he indicated Ileana with a tip of his head, “is my sister. We are on our way to our family’s village.”
         The leader shook his head slowly. “We know of no other villages around here.”
         “We still have a ways to travel,” Chess answered, hoping he would not be asked where they had come from. Looking around the room, he saw only men, frowning at him with suspicion. But outside, through the windows, he saw women crowded around and peering in. And, among them, one elderly man with a piercing stare. Chess’s attention snapped back to the leader as the man spoke again.
         “We have heard stories of witchcraft around here,” the leader growled unexpectedly. “There are strange stories around, now. Tales about followers of false gods, and a man who can call on demons, and who can disappear at will.” He glanced toward one of the other men, who nodded at him. “Evil is close around us out here,” he stated, taking a step toward Chess. “But we will protect our own.”
         Chess swallowed hard and tried to keep his gaze level. “We have heard no such stories.” He attempted to shrug casually. “No one has bothered us… except for you.”
         Another man leaned in and spoke quietly to the chief, but the chief shook his head. “Food will be brought,” he told Chess. “You must wait here. We will decide what to do with you.”

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Political Influence

Charles Nelson Reilly sold his toe nail clippings as a potent aphrodisiac
He ran a four minute mile blindfolded with an engine block strapped to his back
He could eat more frozen waffles than any other man I know
Once he fell off the Chrysler building and he barely even stubbed his toe
Had a tiny little scratch on his toe, Didn't even hurt
- CNR by Weird Al Yankovic

         Another obvious influencer of the character Isaac Dale is Jon Stewart’s near-partner, Stephen Colbert, host of the Colbert report. Like Stewart, Colbert uses humor to bring political issues to the forefront of his audience’s interest, but he also employs another strategy. Besides just talking about issues, he has a tendency toward action, and the things he chooses to do are calculated to illustrate vividly exactly what is wrong with the things that he is doing. For example:
Colbert is using his faux bid for the White House to draw attention to new campaign finance laws that allow unnamed donors to pour unlimited funds into super PACs, which can spend that money to support political candidates as long as they do not directly coordinate with a candidate.
- Colbert Explains (Faux) Presidential Run to ABC News (15 January 2012)

         But there are others, perhaps more worthy of note. In an early blog I mentioned Bassem Youssef, who is sometimes called “the Jon Stewart of Egypt.” Truly right in the middle of political activism and revolutionary fervor, Youssef has recently been strong-armed by Egypt’s current government into discontinuing his show. And there is another, more historical figure, also...

Ninja warrior, master of disguise; He could melt your brain with his laser-beam eyes
He had his very own line at the DMV; He made sweet, sweet love to a manatee
Oh yeah, that was something to see, I tell ya...
- CNR by Weird Al Yankovic



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