June 2012

Musin’s and Thinkin’s

A Monthly Stroll Down Folksy Byways

with Jack Pendarvis

I was at a party with noted essayist Sven Birkerts when someone hunkered down in front of us at an especially low coffee table to grab a cracker and a bite of cheese.

“You don’t see people hunkering anymore,” said Sven Birkerts. “That’s what your next column should be about.”

“I am going to go you one better, Sven Birkerts,” I cried. “I am going to build a lifelike automaton whose only purpose will be to hunker down on the ground. That way the lost art of hunkering will never be forgotten.” Sven Birkerts seemed unconvinced. He stared morosely into his warm Hawaiian Punch. “This is within the realm of possibility,” I insisted. “We have the technology.”

“Pendarvis, you’re a madman,” joshed Sven Birkerts, but the bruising death grip he held on my arm and the pleading lack of joshery in his big, wet eyes lent a certain piquant air to the exchange.

I hastened to the lab and got to work right away on my hunkering prototype, the HunkerBot 2000. Soon it was hunkering almost as authentically as some old farmer you might spy picking butter beans on an old butter bean farm. In fact, one such local “son of the soil” took umbrage at the very idea of a machine that could hunker better than a man. Naturally I had taken to screaming about my accomplishments in the quaint and dusty country lanes while people were trying to sleep. And thus it came about that crusty Phineas Brown challenged HunkerBot 2000 to a hunkering contest.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Jack Pendarvis has written three books.

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