Tuesday, October 25, 2016

To whomsoever it may pertain

By Moristotle

[Author’s Note: Yesterday, while writing the letter below, I had no thought of publishing it, but only of helping the person who had asked me to consider writing a needed letter of recommendation. However, my muse’s insistence this morning that I share it with everyone makes me think now that that was probably her idea all along.]

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal doesn’t read the New England Journal of Medicine

By James Knudsen

I am convinced a major reason for my sunny disposition, absent any mind-altering substances, is my ability to remain blissfully unaware of the grim realities that so many of my fellow humans are forced to confront daily.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Correspondence: Dressing up and down

Dolly Sisters 1923
Edited by Moristotle

The 1920s heralded an explosion of sexual freedom, female emancipation and decadent glamour – with clothes to match: “Fops and flappers: wild fashions of the 1920s – in pictures” [Guardian, October 18].

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


By Moristotle

When I prepared this morning to do my stretching exercises, I first lay quietly on my back and clasped my hands on my chest. Immediately came to mind an image of monastic life, of withdrawal from the hurly burly of life to a quiet sanctuary. As I enjoyed the peace of the moment, I discovered in my own respite a new sympathy for individuals who would seek such shelter. I was understanding for the first time that Wordsworth's "world too much with us; late and soon" had brought my own self to a point of wishing such quiet refuge as a monk.

Copyright © 2016 by Moristotle

Friday, October 14, 2016

Correspondence: Light & verity

Edited by Moristotle

[Editor’s Note: Two years ago today, we shared another photograph of my sister Mary Alice Condley’s painting, “Barn on a Bluff.” Today’s new photo was submitted by a loving niece of Mary’s.]

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Make your work-days into live-days

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
By W.M. Dean

[Editor’s Note: I discovered this nonstop writing exercise in my younger self’s pile of drafts recently (after installing the beautiful desk my former neighbor Bill Johnson gave me before leaving for Denver). The exercise paper is dated September 15, 1977. It offered good advice then, maybe even better advice now – our world seems to have sped up so much in the intervening almost 40 years….]

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Trump sex scandal & spirituality

Edited by Moristotle

Novelist blogger Peggy Payne pointed out yesterday something else that Donald Trump has sullied besides the level of our political debate. “Among his other sins, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is using a previously-respected political position to tar the reputation of the, at best, sacred and ecstatic act of sex.” (“Spirituality, Lust, Trump Sex Scandal,” Peggy Payne: Novels of Sex & Spirituality)

Monday, October 10, 2016

The hawk comes

By Dawn Burke

[Editor’s Note: “The hawk comes” is a line from Robert Penn Warren’s poem, “Evening Hawk.”]

On Saturday evening, October 1, about an hour and a half before sundown, I went out with my new camera, a Nikon D3200. My grandchildren Isaiah and Ale were already out there, playing, about 30 feet away from a tree close to our neighborhood playground. Suddenly they called to me loudly, pointing at the tree. When I realized that a hawk was perched on a low branch, I was amazed the kids hadn’t already scared it off. I immediately motioned to them to be quiet and not move!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

In Memoriam: Edward Albee

By Jonathan Price

Edward Albee died last month. It wasn’t exactly a surprise; he was 88 [March 12, 1928 – September 16, 2016]. But like many recent prominent deaths, it made me think. Edward Albee always made you think and feel. He was one of the great American playwrights of the twentieth century, and certainly by far the greatest of my contemporaries. Of course, no one can say such a thing for sure, since it is a matter of opinion – of many opinions over time. Nevertheless, in any week Broadway sports perhaps 30 plays or dramas, and then there is off-Broadway, which Albee helped to invent. Over the years, that’s a lot of plays, and the competition is intense. No one, I guess, sees all the plays, or reads all the plays. But Albee seems to me like a great pro golfer – Tiger Woods, or Jack Nicklaus. In a very competitive field, where audiences and critics are always demanding, he stands out.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Poetry & Portraits: Livia (a poem)

By Eric Meub


My Lares are Lorazepam and guilt,
my Cicero is Amy Vanderbilt,
but there’s no Seneca to set me free
from Greco-Roman grandiosity.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Correspondence: Tremors of the Trumpocollapse

Edited by Moristotle

Artemisia Gentileschi turned the horrors of her own life – repression, injustice, rape – into brutal biblical paintings that were also a war cry for oppressed women. Why has her extraordinary genius been overlooked? “More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil” [Jonathan Jones, Guardian, October 5]. Excerpt:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Concert Review: Synthesis in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach

By André Duvall

Johann Sebastian Bach’s legacy as one of the greatest composers of all time is firmly rooted in both the depth and the breadth of his work and musical influence. His ability to synthesize aspects of multifarious musical styles across Europe – with incredible mastery and imaginative development of musical counterpoint, harmony, and musical ideas – has continued to inspire and teach composers and musicians across centuries of changing styles and musical tastes. The vast treasure of documented examples of his mastery more than suffices to justify his widespread veneration, yet there are other aspects of Bach’s compositional mind and soul that further demonstrate the genius of this incredible artist.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Thunder Down Under: Seashells in sand

Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

You may recall that on our way back from the East coast of Australia, we spent a few weeks in the little towns along the Murray River. Australia’s longest. We joined the river in Northern Victoria and followed it west and south through the state of South Australia, where it emptied into the Southern Ocean. [See “The third largest navigable river in the world,” May 27, 2014.]

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Correspondence: Insanity & other maladies

Edited by Moristotle

We shouldn’t be focusing on and condemning Donald Trump. Sure, he’s a despicable man, out for himself and the public be damned, narcissistic, [racist,] misogynistic, bullying, fraudulent, a conman, inveterate liar, [cheat,] and fantasist. But he also appears to be clinically insane.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Adventures from Bulgaria: El Camino de Santiago, Part VII (final)

Still further!

By Valeria Idakieva

[Part VI, “Santiago on the horizon,” was published on July 27.]

Santiago de Compostela is a grand city. Last night I had time only to have a shower and dinner, but now it was time to see some of the city’s splendor. The pilgrims’ mass would be at noon, as it was every day in the Cathedral of Santiago, so I had the whole morning to wander through streets that manifested the strength and beauty of more than a thousand years of history. Only a few minor tasks awaited my attention, such as buying a train ticket to Madrid and printing out a confirmation letter from a hostel in Madrid where I had booked a bed, but these were not going to spoil my walk of pleasure.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Susan’s Stuff: thanks, Oscar

“thanks, Oscar” (detail)
with help from a family on vacation in farmland

By Susan C. Price

“thanks, Oscar” was born of a painting that was lifeless, and did not “work.” i placed a loosely painted version of a family-on-vacation-in-farmland photo on top of that and...agonized, painted, painted over, and voila!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Sustainable Agriculture in Native America

By Christopher-Joseph Ravnopolski-Dean

I have a profound interest in agriculture, and more precisely sustainable agriculture, which uses an ecological approach towards nature – instead of fighting nature, it follows it.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal: In rehearsal

Waiting for Lefty

By James Knudsen

This week marked the sixth week of instruction for this Fall 2016 semester. I have a typical load of classes, one beginning-acting and one theatre-appreciation course. But I’m also assisting in the production of this season’s first play, Waiting for Lefty, by Clifford Odets. My colleague Janine Christl is directing, and, since the start of rehearsals five weeks ago, I’ve been working with the ensemble and the featured actors to help them better understand the time period, 1935.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Correspondence: The world moves on

Edited by Moristotle

Pictures from the first week of the Oktoberfest in Munich. Thankfully without terrorist attacks: “Oktoberfest: the world's largest beer festival – in pictures” [Natasha Rees-Bloor, Guardian, September 20]. Excerpt:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Mary’s Voice: Posthumously speaking 12

Mountain chapel

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor’s Note: A few weeks ago, my sister Mary’s daughter, Karen Abbey, came across a photograph of yet another of her mother’s paintings. “I think the picture is one of her best!” Karen reports the following note on the back of the photo:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Mary’s Voice: Posthumously speaking 11

Country barn

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor’s Note: Another painting of Mary Alice Condley came to the attention recently of her daughter, Karen Abbey, whom her (and my) cousins Richard & Joyce Frost told they had a painting. “Mary gave Richard & me this barn painting years ago and it proudly hangs in our hallway.”

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fiction: Baby-sitter Saturday night (a short story)

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
By W.M. Dean

[Editor’s Note: I found this story last week when I was going through my files after installing a lovely desk given me by a friend, Bill Johnson, who just moved away. I’d like to dedicate its publication to him, to whom we owe the pleasure of two “Liam’s Wuff” stories.
    The baby-sitter rates from the 1970s haven’t been revised.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Correspondence: Under the influence

Edited by Moristotle

I drank beer last weekend with a guy in a red baseball cap. At some point, I asked him what he liked about Trump, and what the slogan on his cap meant to him. After as many beers as he had drunk, he was quite forthcoming:

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Boldt Words & Images: 9/11 (a poem)

By Bob Boldt

[Editor’s Note: Published on the 15th of the month in recognition of this September’s being the 15th anniversary of that 9/11.]

United Airlines Flight 175 passengers knew they were heading toward
meaning, madness, Mecca or mayhem, but they knew not which.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

West Coast Observer: Heads in the sand

Without water

By William Silveira

Trump blew into the City of Tulare on August 30 for a luncheon fund raiser at the home of Tulare Union High School classmate, Corky Anderson. Anderson owns and operates a wholesale pistachio nursery as well as owning his own pistachio groves. In attendance at the event were members of some of the Central Valley’s large agricultural enterprises, including Annette and Bob Smitcamp of Fresno and the owners of Harris Ranch. Also in attendance was our congressman, Devin Nunes, whom Trump invited along for the jet ride from San Francisco to Fresno. Trump purportedly picked up 1.3 million dollars from the event – not a bad haul for a 1.5 hour visit. The event was closed to the public – except for those who wanted to pay $25,000 for a private talk with Trump or $2,700 for lunch with about 250 other people.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

In Your Dreams: Dream music

By Geoffrey Dean

Last week, a student in a music class I teach mentioned the music of the 2001 Japanese anime film Spirited Away. I remembered that as I woke up today, with the feeling that I must listen to the film’s song, “One Summer’s Day.” When I discovered this song while in Osaka five years ago, I fell in love with the unabashedly sentimental music of Joe Hisaishi and the pure, heartfelt singing of Ayaka Hirahara. I hear this song with a nostalgia for something unreachable, far away:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Poetry & Portraits: Isaiah (a poem)

By Eric Meub


Align the avenues and sweep the streets!
Suburbia, so long neglected, greets
the tan Executive, his tailored Queen,
his stately Presidential limousine.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Correspondence: These are the times

True & faux

Edited by Moristotle

Trump continues to receive ill-deserved respect: “Donald Trump’s Campaign Stands By Embrace of Putin” [Jonathan Martin & Amy Chozick, NY Times, September 8]. Excerpt:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Outside the Box: One-size-fits-all creative expression

Thoughts on Schubert’s Sonata for Arpeggione

By Geoffrey Dean

Reading the description of the new “Outside the Box” column while listening to Franz Schubert’s Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano, I remembered my own dismay when studying this piece at what I took as Schubert’s inconsistencies. My “inside the box” thinking at the time was to try to minimize the variations in intervals, dynamics, articulation, rhythm found in Schubert’s score – to move toward standardization, so that each appearance of a given musical gesture would resemble every other as closely as possible. In pursuing this standardizing impulse, I was unwittingly following the example of a long line of music editors who had purged Schubert’s (and others’) works of their native quirkiness, putting them back into the box of one-size-fits-all creative expression as they confined them to the narrowly drawn parameters of “tasteful” interpretation.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Missionary Kid: Champion kite

By Vic Midyett

[Editor’s Note: Vic sent me this story recently with the comment:
For some reason, I got to thinking about my kite again yesterday, this time it was in light of “big or tall stature does not make you the best.”
    Tell me I shared this story with you a long time ago.
    And I happily replied: “If I told you that, I would not be telling you true.
    So here it is!
    Otherwise, the most recent of the Missionary Kid stories appeared on May 31 (“Rule Number One: Get in the house before dark”). I hope Vic keeps finding stories that he hasn’t shared with us yet.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

As the World Turns: A stranger in my own land, Part 1

What becoming an expat can be like

By Wally Tucker

[Editor’s Note: Wally’s account accompanies Ed Rogers’s piece yesterday in his As the World Turns column, “Going native.”]

I repatriated back to the USA in September 2000, leaving our apartment exactly six years to the day after my wife and our two young sons had arrived in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Six years and weeks earlier, we had packed 27 boxes and eight rolling duffels with everything we thought we needed and wanted for our new adventure abroad. Naively, we left behind a fully furnished home for rent. Don’t ever do that!

Monday, September 5, 2016

As the World Turns: Going native

By Ed Rogers

I can’t remember the first time I heard the term “going native.” I’m willing to bet it was in a movie, but I also heard it when I was in the Army. Soldiers who had spent too much time in-country found upon returning that they had a hard time being around their fellow soldiers. It was as though their common link had broken. I had a friend in the State of Washington who had been a Green Beret and done three tours in Nam. He once told me, “I don’t belong here.” I laughed and said something stupid like, “Hell man, this is your home.”

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Growing Up in America: American Movies in the 1950s (Part 3)

Hitchcock thrills with North by Northwest

By Rolf Dumke

Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderful film North by Northwest (1959) is my top American thriller. It mixes up the life of Roger Thornhill – a smug advertising executive and self-contained ladies’ man, only hounded by his overly protective mother – with the violent world of cold-war espionage and counter espionage. In the bar of the Plaza Hotel, Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) – decked out, as usual, in a well-fitting suit – is called to the telephone by a bellboy and becomes entangled by mistake in a net of spies and counterspies.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Correspondence: Origins

James W. Cronin at the University of Chicago,
where he taught physics, astronomy
and astrophysics
Of something rather than nothing, of life, of happiness…of the big lie

Edited by Moristotle

Interesting argument for why there is something: “James Cronin, Who Explained Why Matter Survived the Big Bang, Dies at 84” [Sam Roberts, NY Times, August 30]. Excerpt:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thunder Down Under: Disappearing boat reappears

Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

Shirley wanted to paint an older-style fishing boat. The painting I’m titling “Disappearing Boat Reappears” (15" x 20") has changed about ten times. The boat appeared, then disappeared and appeared again four of five times. The background kept changing too. At one point she got a wet rag and washed away most of the painting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

In Your Dreams: Escape to a parallel reality

By Sharon Stoner

This experience (I don’t call it a dream) occurred about twenty-five years ago, when I was in my early 40s and had lived in my own house in Tulare, California for about fifteen years. I experienced waking up in my house. I was hearing voices coming from the living room. When I got out of bed and put my feet on the floor, I noticed that it was a bare wooden floor, not carpeted as usual. As I moved toward the door, I realized that the room was larger, and it was decorated better. I was totally bewildered! I was in my own bedroom, in my own home, but it was different, and better.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Penny for Her Thoughts: In praise of immigrants

And we’re all immigrants

By Penelope Griffiths

I come from five generations of publicans [persons who own or manage a pub], midwives, and Tarot card readers. I can trace my ancestry on my father’s side as far back as the 13th Century and on my mother’s side to the 14th Century. Why am I writing this? Because having watched the ballyhoo and racist rants from Donald Trump, I feel it’s time for people to know, we are all immigrants!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Growing Up in America: American Movies in the 1950s (Part 2)

Billy Wilder, itchy and hot for Marilyn

By Rolf Dumke

The Seven Year Itch (1955). This film must have excited millions of adolescents and men in America and in the world in the last sixty years. It has an iconic scene etched in my memory. Marilyn Monroe is standing on an iron grate before a shop in New York City when a rumbling subway thrusts its way through the tunnel below, causing cool air to explode upward through the grate to swirl up her wide, white summer dress. She tries to push it down, to contain the swirling skirt and limit exposure of her thighs, smiling and giggling in delight, because the cool blast is so pleasant on a hot day.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal: Call the midwife

By James Knudsen

People of a certain age grew up learning that cats are finicky eaters. Morris the cat, the mascot of the 9 Lives cat food brand, presented the image of cats as creatures who play with yarn and children because stupid humans expect it. When summoned for dinner, Morris would be initially bored by the whole idea, but upon hearing that it was scrumptious 9 Lives Chicken Parts, well that’s another matter entirely.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Correspondence: In real life

Edited by Moristotle

Americans seriously disturbed by the theoretical possibility of an unimaginable Trump presidency have an alternative to sharing anti-Trump items on Facebook – they can share pro-Hillary items!: “Hillary Clinton Wants to Be Your Facebook Friend” [Emma Roller, NY Times, August 23]. Excerpt:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Boldt Words & Images: Welcome to ello.co/deboldt

By Bob Boldt

Edited by Moristotle

[Editor’s Note: Bob Boldt recently announced on Facebook that he had
just completed what is, so far, the most extensive visual record of my artistic output of the past half-century. The greater tolerance Ello.co provides for creative artistic expression (compared to repressive Facebook) has allowed me to publish some previously unseen work. I hope all my Facebook friends take time to view at least part of this collection. I hope you will comment on some of the items contained.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Interview: D. Michael Pain, novelist

And private investigator aka Mike Pain

Interviewed by Moristotle

I first learned of Mike Pain about 15 years ago when I was editing Jim Rix’s book Jingle Jangle, about his cousin Ray Krone, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit. Jim had hired private investigator Mike Pain to look into what had really happened in Phoenix, Arizona the night of December 28, 1991, when Kim Ancona had been raped and brutally murdered.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Outside the Box: From Sudoku to recreational mathematics

By Moristotle

Hardly anything calms me more than sitting down alone in a quiet place to solve a fresh Sudoku puzzle. At least, it calms me when I don’t screw up the puzzle. Let me recast the opening statement: Hardly anything calms me more than sitting down alone in a quiet place and flawlessly solving a Sudoku puzzle.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Susan’s Stuff: serious painter

“serious painter....” [detail]
the moral equivalent of an elegant math proof?

By Susan C. Price

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Growing Up in America: American Movies in the 1950s (Part 1)

America in 3‑D, shaken and stirred

By Rolf Dumke

It Came from Outer Space (1953). This was the first American film I saw with my friend Gene in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. We went because of Gene’s enthusiasm for the new 3-D film technology and my interest in Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I had just read, after my local librarian’s nudge to read Verne’s adventure stories rather than the Black Stallion girl’s books.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fiction: Parts II & III of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

The author in 1974, one of his many poses
By W.M. Dean

[Note: I am chagrined to have to report that, upon dipping into the remaining manuscript of this 1974 novel set in the 1970s of Watergate, I discovered only synopses for Part II & Part III – no further completed chapters. It appears that the writer I was 42 years ago only thought he had finished writing the novel – unless he did finish it but subsequently lost the remaining chapters in his move to North Carolina, or in his move from Chapel Hill to the temporary apartment in Durham before his possibly final relocation to Mebane. In any case, all I have at present to share as this final installment of The Unmaking of the President: A Bicentennial Entertainment is the synopses of Parts II & III. I somehow don’t think these chapters are ever going to be written.
    Links to all of the novel’s extant chapters are provided at the bottom.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Correspondence: With a religious cast

Edited by Moristotle

Roger Cohen at his best! Great picture and comments: “Olympians in Hijab and Bikini” [NY Times, August 11]. Excerpt:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

As the World Turns: My four years in Costa Rica (2012-2016)

And what I learned from them

By Ed Rogers

Let me start off by saying how much I love Costa Rica. The country and the people are like a part of me. But not everything is rosy. True, there are many up-sides to living there, but there is also a price to be paid. I will cover two of the down-sides in hopes it will help others not make the same mistakes I made.
    But first let me recap our adventure:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thunder Down Under: King’s Park & Botanic Garden

By Vic Midyett

I believe it was around 1898 when the Perth city forefathers decided not to allow development over the most scenic views of the city and Swan River, but leave it open to the public to enjoy. King’s Park & Botanic Garden covers almost 1,000 acres.
    As you enter at its main gates, you are majestically welcomed by well over 100 white gum trees (a variety of Eucalyptus), also referred to as Ghost Gum. Australian indigenous trees lose their bark every year during winter.