May
22nd
2017

Source: Forever Filly.  Note how they are framed in such a way that they appear as equal as possible.  Rarity is actually a lot taller than Sweetie, but this trick of the eye really drives the point home.

Filly Forever explores a very complex issue, and it tackles the subject matter so effectively that I can hardly contain my need to reflect upon it.  The lesson here is loud and clear, and easy to read, but the web of conclusions one can draw from based on one's personal experiences is near infinite.  I've been turning it over in my head for hours, and the themes just get richer the more I think about it.

This story captures the bittersweet anger and joy one feels watching those of a younger generation come of age.  It captures the rage, and frustration that the younger generation feels as they struggle to be taken seriously.  Most importantly, it captures the tension in between.

After hours of being treated like a foal, Sweetie Belle, in her frustration, snapped at Rarity, "You don't even know me anymore."

It's a devastating thing to have to say, and it's a devastating thing to have to hear, but it's true.

As an adult, I can think of a great many friends and relatives with whom I was very close during my childhood who don't know me at all these days.  I don't know them either.  It sucks and it hurts.

Preventing loved ones from drifting apart takes a surprising amount of work, and once you have drifted, reforging those bonds can be very difficult.  Add a generation gap, and it becomes even more complicated.  You go from dealing with each other as child-and-adult, to dealing with each other as adult-and-adult.  It's a tumultuous transition for everyone involved.  For starters, the need for new boundaries never becomes clear until they are broken, and until both parties can examine, and articulate the problem accurately, which takes rather a lot of trial and error.

It's frustrating.  It's painful.  Most of all, it's frightening.  You both need to work at it, and if you can't figure out how to grow together, you are doomed to grow apart.

Forever Filly tackled that problem head on.  The story itself is quite simple, but the complexity of this conflict lies in what we already know about the characters.

Let's start with Rarity.  She had, in past episodes, found Sweetie's childishness irritating when it got in the way of her work and her ambition.  In Sisterhooves Social, Rarity had had a lot of important work to do.  That work of hers got in the way of bonding with Sweetie, just as much as Sweetie Belle's presence got in the way of Rarity trying to meet her deadlines.  Sweetie Belle wanted to help, but she was just a kid, and her efforts just ended up getting herself underfoot (under hoof).

It's a scenario that most of us know very well from our own lives, in one form or another.

However, now, it's the total opposite.  Rarity finds herself at the top of the fashion world, having achieved most of her dreams and ambitions, but she misses her sister. v She yearns for the days when they had bonded together, and longs to spend uninterrupted time with her.  Sweetie, on the other hand, is now the one who has responsibilities to take care of.  She has become an entrepreneur in her own way, and doesn't have time to spend with her sister.

The scene where Rarity admires the wall of the crusader headquarters, and the photos of their satisfied "clients," is brief, but it tells us volumes about Sweetie - profound information.  It tells us exactly the type of pony that she is growing into.

They say that kids don't learn from what you tell them; they learn from what they observe.  In this moment, we see just how much of an influence Rarity has been on Sweetie's life.  The work ethic that Sweetie had despised in her sister as a child, has sunk in, and become her own, as she cultivates real responsibilities, and moves toward adulthood.

It's the sort of thing that's impossible to put into words, but when you see it, and really think about it, it shines a light on both characters - who they are - what they mean to each other.  There's a piece of Rarity that Sweetie will always take with her, and it will arm her throughout her life.  The problem is that Rarity can't see that.  She mistakes that genuine professionalism for flight and fancy - a quaint form of child's play.

That tiny moment not only captures so much about the characters, it conveys the very essence of the conflict at hand – the gap that needs to be bridged.

I could spend rather a lot of time pointing out parallels in the dynamic between the two sisters in this episode, and the dynamic that they had back in Sisterhooves Social.  It's certainly a topic worth discussing, as there are quite a lot of subtle differences in characterization that make this episode an elegantly told story.

However, I'm concerned more with the message than dissecting the narrative itself.

When Rarity realizes the error of her ways, she expresses her sorrow that "[She] didn't know that the last time [they] did those things would be the last time [they] did those things.

This line pretty much says it all: about growing up; about life; about the need to cherish every moment, while at the same time, not being afraid to let those moments go.  I personally didn't know that the last time that I pushed my youngest on the swingset would turn out to be my very last time doing that.  It was a day like any other.  I don't even remember anything about it right now because it was so very unremarkable.

I don't remember the very last time I helped with my kids' shoelaces either, nor the very last time my own mother needed to help me with mine.

There was no ceremony.  No grand announcement in either case.  It just sort of happened when no one was paying attention.

-Sprocket

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May
15th
2017

Raphael, Young Woman with a Unicorn, 1506.

The unicorn in this painting was painted over in the mid-17th century, and the iconography was totally replaced, but 20th century restorations revealed a truth that had been hidden for centuries - the first historical "little pony."

To learn more:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Woman_with_Unicorn

This has been a public service announcement from

- Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.   You can also follow on Heart Full of Pony On Tumblr.

Apr
28th
2017

The moral of this latest episode, "A Flurry of Emotions," is a simple one, but it's a lesson for the ages: always listen to Spike.

I, like a lot of people, really hated Spike when the show first started.  He was annoying, and weak – a carryover from the old "tag along wimpy kid" trope that defined the character back in prehistoric Equestria, G1.

Somewhere along the line, however, he went from being the butt of jokes, to being the sarcastic straight man - a voice of reason.  The "are you kidding me" looks that he throws have become not only a staple of his humor, and his character, but also a point of relatability.

At the very beginning of this episode, Spike tells Twilight Sparkle what the rest of us already know – that Twilight had already made a commitment to the hospital - that it would be irresponsible to take on more than the two of them could handle - that her overly ambitious plan of juggling these two very big responsibilities was going to blow up in their faces.

Of course, his advice is ignored, but throughout the episode, there he is anyway, right there beside Twilight Sparkle, for glory or for folly, because that is the nature of his relationship with Twilight.  He is Sam to her Frodo.  He'll follow her to the ends of the earth.

I don't think that's talked about quite enough.

Spike gets a bad rap because a great deal of his episodes tend to be subpar, (even if there are a few excellent ones).  However, Spike as a character, shines brightest in episodes that are not, in fact, his own.  Whatever other adventures, or hijinks might be going on, Spike is always there to re-organize the books after they get knocked off their shelves, or to clean up the castle after Luna-only-knows what happens to it.  He's always doing the actual hard work of friendship and companionship – the sort of unglamorous stuff that is seldom called attention to, in real life, or in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

In a show that exalts loyalty, and dedication, and friendship to the point of mysticism, Spike's unwavering devotion to Twilight is actually downplayed, taken for granted even.  Think about that for a minute.

"A Flurry of Emotions" is adorable for obvious reasons, but it's also powerful because of the final scene – a sort of addendum to the main plot.  Spike is there in the hospital with the sick kids, reading them a story, and they are loving it.

It's a simple tying up of loose ends, but it's beautiful because it captures everything low-key awesome about Spike.  He may have a few Crystal Empire moments in the sun now and again, but at the end of the day, Spike will always be the behind-the-scenes guy, doing the right thing while everyone else is out learning lessons, and fighting monsters.  There's something noble about that.

-Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.  You can also follow HFOP on Tumblr.

Apr
6th
2017


Recently, somepony asked for a recap of Seasons 4-6, so that they wouldn't be lost when Season 7 premieres two weeks from now. ( Just the basics, not every detail).  I decided to accept the challenge.  

Below is my crazy recap.  Writing It made me realize just how wild a ride this show has been - how far the characters have come - how insane it sounds when you rattle it off all at once.

It's been well over four years since Twilight Sparkle got her wings.   At this point, she's been a princess longer than she hasn't.  I am, of course tempted to get analytical as I write this - to talk about how the season that a person first discovers really impacts their perspective on the show - but that's not what this post is about.  I'm tempted to wax philosophical – to pick at themes that tickle my soul, and evaluate: the long character arcs; the long evolution of the shows' message, (from discovering friendship, to spreading the word of friendship, and all the different forms of altruism in between) - but I've already written about most of that in other posts.

Instead, I'm just going to get sentimental.

As someone who cares deeply about the show, and the universe, I, like many others, sometimes linger on details that don't quite sit right with me.  I try not to be negative, or to pick too many nits, but when you're actively in the middle of a season, and trying to guess its future course, there's rather a lot to obsess about.  Not every episode is going to be perfect, (or even every direction the show chooses to go in).  It's easy to get hung up on that.

The act of summarizing the major occurrences of a 78 episode arc, however, really put things in perspective for me.  It made me realize how insane this show is, and how much I love it, even after all these years.

So here goes the summary.  Let me know how I did!

*     *     *

The Elements of Harmony have taken a few different forms, the most recent of which, being a Cutie Map, which sends the Mane Six on missions to spread the ideals of friendship across the land.  It basically functions like a pager.

The map is in a castle where Twilight now resides, (still in Ponyville).  The old tree library exploded in a fight with an ancient demon from G1.  Her new digs were magically bestowed unto her after the Elements took on this new form.  So now she is the Princess of Friendship.  You heard that right.  The Princess of Friendship.

She has a pupil of her own, who is a reformed villainess - a powerful unicorn named Starlight Glimmer, who had created an egalitarian dystopian cult in the boonies of Equestria.  Glim had a change of heart, and now she's a super powerful dork who takes friendship lessons from Twilight.

Shining Armor and Cadence had an alicorn baby named Princess Flurry Heart, (who is being tutored / babysat by Starlight Glimmer's recently re-united childhood friend, Sunburst - also a dork - a very likable dork).

What else?

-Dash is a Wonderbolt.

-Daring Do is real.

-Spike is revered as a folk hero in the Crystal Empire.

-The Cutie Mark Crusaders got their cute marks (in helping other ponies solve their cutie mark problems).

-Rarity has boutiques all over the place.

-And Diamond Tiara, and Silver Spoon finally got over themselves.

We've seen Manehattan, Las Pegasus, the Dragonlands, Griffonstone, and Yak-Yakistan.

The changelings recently revolted against Queen Chrysalis when they learned that love can be reciprocated.  They're pastel rainbow-colored now.  Of course.  Why wouldn't they be?

And that's pretty much where the show left off.

*     *     *

Wow.  What a long, strange trip it's been.  And Celestia still hasn't gotten her own episode.

-Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.  You can also follow my essays on tumblr.

Jan
28th
2017

Source: Season 5, Episode 26.

I was just thinking about the season five finale.  Each alternate timeline showed us what would happen if a different villain hadn't been defeated.  In each one, there was some sort of major resistance.  During the fight against Sombra, Equestria essentially turned into WWII Britain, complete with giant battles, railroads to safety, and a society that has pointed every ounce of its industrial weight toward the war effort.  During the fight against the changelings, ponies took to the hills, and became merciless guerilla warriors - even Fluttershy.

Nightmare Moon, however, while clearly a tyrant, continued to command the loyalty of her subjects.  It's not a pleasant timeline.  Based on the fear, and exhaustion we see in those around her, one gets the impression that a single day of serving Nightmare Moon is like an entire chapter of The Devil Wears Prada.   Still, this segment stands out because there was no resistance movement (that we saw), and because main characters serve the villain.

Personally, I find it difficult to extract easy answers from the situation, since I think that I, personally, would fare very well in a Lunarchy.  If my job were to follow Nightmare Moon around and tell her how beautiful the night sky is, I would consider it a dream come true.  Especially if this were a world where I didn't know that there was such a thing as good Princess Luna.

However, my own admittedly ridiculous feelings aside, the episode itself raises questions about monarchism in Equestria.  Is princess worship a more deeply-ingrained value than friendship, (at least in a world before the Elements are rediscovered)?  Do ponies accept tyranny more readily from leaders that they perceive to be "of their tribe," than they would from foreign invaders with similar ambitions?  I think a lot of us do that very thing, so long as the societal infrastructure that we are accustomed to remains familiar.

I think the most important thing that we can take away from this segment is a lesson on the nature of ambition.  The two main characters that we see serving Nightmare Moon most directly are Rainbow Dash, and Rarity - easily the most ambitious ponies in the Mane Six.  Decorating for a princess – even an evil one – is a prestigious career move for Rarity; and Rainbow Dash has always endeavored to rise through the ranks - to become a prominent Wonderbolt - to prove herself.

In seeing Rainbow Dash serve Nightmare Moon with such ferocity, and Rarity serve her so tirelessly, there is an entire backstory – a whole elaborate lesson, right there in just a few short minutes.  What we are seeing is their virtues – parts of their very souls  – being twisted, and used against them.  Raritiy's generosity, and willingness to give of herself creatively - it ends up getting abused, until she is absolutely exhausted.  Rainbow is even worse.  Her loyalty, when misdirected, turns her into a savage attack dog.

There's so much to think about in what we saw of Nightmare Moon's Equestria  - who we are as individuals, what we have the capacity to become if we aren't careful, how troubled times can sculpt us.  I think the problem with a situation like this, is that nopony can prepare for it.  In real life, everyone has very specific ideas about what they would have done had they lived through INSERT HISTORICAL PERIOD HERE.  The fact of the matter is that none of us really know.

The paths before us are not straight lines.  The best that any of us can do is to follow our own hearts, and be sharply aware of the fact that they can be used against us.  Our ambitions can lead us to dark places.  Our virtues can betray us, if they are not guided by principle.

-Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.  You can also follow my essays on tumblr.

Jan
1st
2017

As 2016 winds to an end, I want to do something different.  Rather than reflect upon the show directly, I want to celebrate a very minor detail in pony apocrypha.  Last year, Hasbro released an album, "It's a Pony Kind of Christmas."  The songs on it have a wide range.  Some are quite beautifully scored, and some are tender, but for the most part, the appeal of the album is its whimsical nature – and unapologetic corniness.

One track on it, however, stands out above the others.  The Apple Family's version of Auld Lang Syne.  Like all the songs on the album, it's a classic tune with altered lyrics.  This version is about family.  Nostalgia. Tradition.  Solid subject matter for Applejack, for obvious reasons.  However, whoever put this song together snuck something else in there.  Something deeper.  "Days Gone By" is not just a generic song about family.  It captures something extremely specific.   It is all  about paying tribute to family members who aren't with us.

Have a look at the opening lines:

"When family cannot be here

Havin' journeyed far and wide

We sing a song to honor them

To remember days gone by."

The song doesn't say so directly, of course, but it really feels - to me at least – like Applejack is singing about her dead parents.  The specific words that were chosen are very reminiscent of the way one talks about one's ancestors, or the recently departed.  You don't "sing a song to honor" your cousin who couldn't make it to a New Year's eve party, no matter how much you love them.  That's how you celebrate those no longer with us.

The entire song lends itself to duel interpretation.  Even the lyrics put in there to be reassuring (that the song is about something other than honoring the dead) – come off as merely metaphorical.  The departed are not there because they are "journeying," or in later verses, "across seas far and wide."   These lyrics almost paint a picture of death as a sort of new beginning.  After all, the moral of the song is that those whom we love are still with us in spirit, and that the way to honor them is to tell stories of days gone by.

If you haven't heard the album, I would strongly recommend, at the very least, to give this song a listen.  Why?  Because 2016 sucked.

It was a year of tremendous loss – not just of the countless beloved celebrities - people who made remarkable contributions to the world – but on and intimate level too.  A lot of us lost loved ones.  Family members.  Pets.  You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody who doesn't, in some way, feel like this entire year is cursed.  It's even been a running gag all over the Internet that, this New Year's, rather than celebrating the birth of 2017, we will all be celebrating the death of 2016.

As cute as that sounds, I think we have an opportunity to make more of it than that.  Let's take this opportunity to honor those we have lost in 2016 - to celebrate their lives, and the many ways, however small, that our own lives were changed because of their contributions.  Let's celebrate that we are still here.

Even as we face what is sure to be a tumultuous and uncertain future, let us look to those who made a difference for us in our pasts, and with those memories, plant a seed of responsibility - a dedication to make a difference for others, and to live out the legacies of those we have lost.  I'm not talking about lame resolutions we all break two weeks into December.  I'm talking about a way of looking at the world - a way of looking at our heroes, and using them as a source of inspiration.

Few of us get memes made about us when we pass, nor are we talked about on television, but we can leave our own legacies behind through the people whose lives we touch - through lives well lead.  And while we're still here, let's look back at those who paved the way for us in our own lives, and raise our cider mugs high.

-Sprocket

SONG: DAYS GONE BY

"Our paths will cross again one day

In time to reunite

For family is always near

Even when the seas are wide

So take your cup and raise it high

Just as surely I'll do mine

And make a toast for family

And the tales of days gone by."

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.  You can also follow my essays on tumblr.

Dec
22nd
2016

Source: A Hearth's Warming Tail

One thing that has always impressed me about My Little Pony, is its mythology - not just the origin story of the princesses, (which I am completely obsessed with), but also its references, and its parallels to classic legends.  The show has introduced millions of children to the concepts of manticores, and hydras, and phœnices; it has, in its own way, retold the story of Icarus in Sonic Rainboom; and it's crafted mythos of its very own.

Now personally, I have been having trouble getting into the spirit of the holiday season lately.  The weather hasn't felt l like December; I have been getting sick on and off; and it's just been a stressful time all around.   Last night, I decided to re-watch a Hearth's Warming Tail.

It helped. It helped a lot.

When I watched the episode, it really got me thinking about the holidays, about our own folklore, and about Hearth's Warming in general as a concept.  December holidays, at their core, tend to be about light.  The sun, naturally, is winding down to its shortest days; we all get our first taste of the harsh winter to come; and in the middle of all that, just as the longest nights of the year hit, the holidays come along and give us something to look forward to – a bit of warmth.  Brightness.

What sets these holidays apart from other occasions throughout the year, is that there is an air of danger about them.  They not only celebrate light, but a specific idea - a light that is perpetually under attack.  From the various European celebrations of the death and rebirth of the Sun King, to Hanukkah's celebration of the miraculous eight days of lamp light that should never have been, to the Nativity story, and the uphill battle surrounding the circumstances of Jesus' birth - that danger is always there.  Even modern pop secular mythology emphasizes Christmas as a holiday that needs to be saved from some external threat, (be it a Grinch, a monster, or a claymation skeleton who just wanted to try something new).

The thing that stuck out to me when I rewatched A Hearth's Warming Tail was how it captured the fact that Hearth's Warming, too, was fundamentally in danger.  I have heard a few people criticize the episode for reusing the old Scrooge trope, (which has admittedly been done 1000 times).  However, what caught my attention was not the parallels to the original story, but the differences.  The past conveys a moment in time when Snowfall Frost hardened her heart to the holiday, just like the book; the present depicts an overly jubilant ghost, and a holiday party full of folks carrying on without her, just like in the book; but the future is really quite different.  There is no hoof that points at Snowfall Frost's grave. The future's ghost points to a wasteland of ice and snow – a world completely and totally destroyed.  It's a reality where that miraculous light - that brightness and warmth we look forward to in our December holidays – never triumphs over the darkness that attacks it.  Furthermore, the messenger is Princess Luna – one who, as we all know, has a history soaked in the conflict between day and night.

To me, this was the moment that solidified the episode – that further legitimized Hearth's Warming, and made it feel like a real holiday with rich traditions behind it, (even if the trope itself has been done before).  Whether consciously, or unconsciously, the show's creative staff tapped into something deep here - something powerful.

Yet, the message itself is still intimate, and simple.  One of the things that My Little Pony does best is infuse little things – basic virtues – with magic power, and great cosmic significance.  As Twilight suggests to Starlight, and as Pinkie Ghost flat out sings to Snowfall Frost, the real meaning of the holiday "is to be with your friends."  Your family.

No matter what tradition you celebrate, or what culture – no matter if your feelings toward the season are religious or secular, there's something we all have in common - the fact that the warmth and strength that our friends and family give to us is what gets us through dark times.

Wow.  They really, really, really should have aired this episode as a holiday special in December.

-Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.  You can also follow my essays on tumblr.

Nov
29th
2016

To all of you following Fallout: Equestria - Hooves of Fate, I have a brief announcement.  I am currently in the process of writing a short story that will be released here on FimFic fairly soon once I'm done ironing out all of the kinks.  It's a side story that follows one of Rose Petal's other visions.  It fits into the Fo:E universe, but doesn't have anything to do with the grand story arcs central to Hooves of Fate.

The vision itself will not have an established point in Rose's timeline, since when she actually has this dream isn't important at all.  

Why bother announcing this?  Well, because it's been a while since I've uploaded a chapter, and last time, I left you all with a pretty big cliffhanger.  (Sorry!)   When the new story comes out, I don't want anypony to think that I've put Hooves of Fate aside, or that this vignette somehow stole time away that could have been spent finishing Chapter 26.  It didn't.  Finding time to edit, and finding time to write are two entirely different things that don't really conflict with each other.

Also, I'm just plain excited about the story, and I want to share that excitement with all of you, who've invested so much time and energy into Rose Petal, just like I have.  

It's to be called Fallout: Equestria - HOOVES OF FATE : The Coming Storm, and I'm about 3/4 done.  I look forward to releasing it, and I look forward to hearing from you.

-Sprocket

Nov
23rd
2016

The theme of season six was "Explore Equestria," and the show made good on its promise.  It expanded on season five's goal of developing, and expanding exotic locations within the MLP universe.  We got to see the Dragonlands, and Pony Vegas.  We also got to see...wherever the heck the changelings live.

However, the one location that the show still hasn't explored at all is the homeland of one of the oldest races in the show - zebras.  (In my head, I call it "Zimbabneigh").

Well, I've been thinking.

Whenever people post about wanting the show to develop the zebra race more, they always say they want to see "Zecora's village."  A lot of us have some pretty fixed ideas about what the zebras are like, and naturally so.  But what if she doesn't have a village?  What if Zecora is a lone traditionalist living off the grid?

What if the zebras actually have teeming metropolises - a highly technologically advanced, space-faring civilization?  What if the tables were turned, and Twilight Sparkle, sent to Zimbabneigh by the Cutie Map, journeyed there, expecting to find huts, only to find out that she was the one considered primitive?

An episode about that could shatter the Mane Six's (and our) preconceived notions about Zecora's race, expand on the lessons of Bridle Gossip, and maybe even create some awareness.  

I thought about writing more on this subject - even drafted a few versions of this essay that involved long drawn out character analyses, theories about Equestrian anthropology (equology?), parallels to global politics, parallels to race politics, praise and analysis of Bridle Gossip's lessons;  etc., etc., etc.  

However, to be perfectly honest, it all sucked.

It came out totally forced, and what's worse, knowing that the essay wasn't working just drove me to pressure myself to try to force it some more - to get 'er done - to finish at any cost.   But there was literally no way to write a huge chunk of it without getting more political than I'd care to.

No matter what your political leanings are, we all need a place to put that stuff aside for a while, and no matter what I have to write in praise of Bridle Gossip's lesson, its beauty will always be its simplicity.   (You don't need me or anyone else to tell you what you already know).

It's really, really, really, really easy, as a content creator, to get swept up - to get excited about the next big idea - to write about the next unexplored angle, or a new and clever way to articulate things that everypony already instinctively knows.  It's easy to end up pressuring yourself - to get fixated on numbers rather than people.  

Personally, I set a goal of increasing my writing output, and frankly, it got to me - made me anxious - and, ironically made me un-good-er at writing.

Sometimes the most important thing you can do is to put all of that stupid arbitrary stuff aside - those little obsessions that feel so important  - those little goals that grant us self esteem points - and just remember your joy! Reflect on what drew you into this crazy fandom in the first place.  Pony should never, ever, ever feel like work.  The moral of the story is that space zebras are awesome.  

The thought of them makes me smile, and that's all that matters.    

-Sprocket

Please support Heart Full of Pony on Patreon.  You can also follow my essays on tumblr.

Nov
17th
2016

As a rule, I avoid discussing politics here, because that's not the point of this blog.  However, it is necessary at times to respond to tragedy.  In the wake of the election, extremists have been committing celebratory hate crimes, and many LGBTQ youths who were already at risk for suicide, have reported suicidal ideation, and even gone ahead and done the deed.

If you are feeling lost, and suicidal, I implore you to seek help.

Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255

Trans Crisis Hotline: 877-565-8860

LGBTQ + Hotline: 866-488-7386

Int'l: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

It may not seem this way, but there are millions of people in your corner.  It may feel like the end of the world - that hope is a million miles away - but there are people who care - people willing to help.  Shelters.  Hotlines.  Friends.

Please choose life.

-Sprocket

(No political debates on this thread, please).