Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Voice

A Thanksgiving dream

By Bob Boldt

I hope your Thanksgiving was better than mine.

I spent the awful occasion on licensed premises,
alone with a “Tyson Frozen Turkey Parts Dinner,”
“with added tryptophan”
and “no more than 20% additional sponsored contents.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fifth Monday Fiction

Elmer (short story)

By Bob Boldt

North and Clyborn subway stop, Chicago, 10 p.m., December third.
    With a blur of light, the northbound “A” train flashed past with a deafening roar, leaving only the torn wings of fluttering newspapers and an echoing silence in its wake. Far above, the ring of the signal heralding the arrival of the southbound “B” train echoed like a distant winning slot machine paying off.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

Sales contest of civilizations

By James Knudsen

Not long ago [June 27] I mentioned my time in the retail sales world. I didn’t like it. Besides retail sales, I had other customer service jobs following my four-year stint in the Marines, a job I liked slightly more than sales. Presently, we in the United States and other countries that we’ll just call, for the sake of simplicity, The Western World, are in a struggle with various groups that we’ll call, for the sake of simplicity, religious savages. The question is: How to deal with these individuals. The answer is one of my previous vocations.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.” [Arthur C. Brooks, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Special

How our Thanksgiving goose got cooked

By Pam Palmer

[Editor’s Note: Originally published on July 20, 2013 as a Third Saturday Fiction.]

“We should have roast goose for Thanksgiving,” Martin said.
    It was 1976 and David, my husband, and I had just bought a house across the street from our long-time friends, Martin and Joan. Two weeks after we moved into the house David left for a six-month stint on a research ship in the Antarctic. It would be my first Thanksgiving in my first house and I felt overwhelmed. Of course, I could go to my in-laws’ house but it was a long drive from Long Beach to Mission Viejo by myself. My parents were going to the desert so having dinner with them was not possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Voice: El Camino de Santiago, Part I

Challenge and reward

By Valeria Idakieva

[Editor’s note: The author frequently goes hiking or running in the mountains of her native Bulgaria.]

A lot has been said and written about the Camino de Santiago, because a stream of people of various nationalities pass along it. Like a powerful magnet, it attracts about 200,000 people each year. Is their objective to worship one of Jesus’s favorite disciples in his tomb and to obtain remission of sins? Are they drawn by the great cultural and artistic monuments that make the Santiago Route the “first European cultural itinerary” (as it was described in 1987 by the Council of Europe)? Or do they simply want to leave behind the habits and routines of their everyday life? Whatever the reason, visiting the route is a unique experience, a combination of challenge and reward that transforms everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Scarf it up

By Susan C. Price

A painting needn’t spend its life on walls. It can have a life on a silk scarf (and other clothing).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Doing Time (Chapter 12 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: From the September 2015 review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
The heinous deed that forms the axis of Rix’s tale takes place in Phoenix, Arizona,1991. A pretty barmaid is found virtually nude; beaten, bitten, and stabbed to death in the men’s room of her place of work. While the crime scene is littered with numerous examples of potential evidence, it is the actual bite marks on the victim’s body that become the central interest of the state. Prosecutors become convinced, based on forensic odontology, that the bite marks could only have come from a particular dart-throwing bar patron who was seen nuzzling with the deceased at a Christmas party prior to the killing. Ray Krone, the hapless young man whose teeth impressions seem to be a perfect match for the victim’s wounds, is arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die for the shocking crime.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 6. “Keeping up Appearances,” from The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Chapter 5. “Home Movies (Blue),” appeared last month.]

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fish for Friday

Cascading stairs at the Garden
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I just love your well-crafted poem about miss lanky legs [“Prize,” November 14]. My wife still recalls several years ago when a man did basically the same thing with her. He smiled as they passed and voiced how beautiful she looked. He didn’t stop, nor turn around. Just kept walking. It still brings her joy thinking about it. So pure and meaningful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thor’s Day: Delivery

Moristotle during Youie SummerYouie summer

By Morris Dean

[Originally published on July 3, 2006]

During weeks of manic inspiration in the summer of 1989, I received spiritual revelations so striking that I began to keep a journal to record them. Their significance seemed to demand that I share them with others. But a sad technical job at a large corporation felt at odds with that calling, leaving me only an hour or two out of each day at home with my wife to inscribe my insights.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Hey, Siri...? (humor)

What is your favorite question of all time?

[Editor's Note: “Even those who don’t own an iPhone or iPad know about Siri, Apple’s smart voice-powered assistant. Siri is supposed to do everything a personal assistant would – schedule dates, set reminders, find directions, send messages, or make calls. But what makes Siri different from traditional voice recognition software is its intelligence. You can ask Siri whatever you want and get a plausible answer. Many people find it amusing to ask Siri hilarious or provocative questions.” –From “50 Funny Questions to Ask Siri
    But today’s question we thought of ourselves. And we were disappointed that Siri gave the same answer to us that she – for us, Siri is female – gave to one of the 50 questions cited above.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Feel

Others can’t make us do it

By Vic Midyett

Others cannot make us feel – we allow that to happen to ourselves. This is a very difficult subject, but I am going to try to write about it simply.
    I just said it was a very difficult subject, but I wonder? Is it difficult because we make or assume it so? We even seem to be in the habit of looking to schools, authorities, and governments to fix our reaction/feeling issues for us. Surely the solution must be rooted in individual families – I suspect that good, solid parenting is the foundation.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

My grandmother’s house
(a short story)

By Bob Boldt
The movie never changes. It can’t change. Every time you see it – it seems different because you are different.
            –James Cole, from Terry Gilliam’s movie,
            Twelve Monkeys
The war with Germany was over. We had recently defeated Hitler and my dad was home from the European theater. His unit was not scheduled to go to the Pacific. I wasn’t sure what the name “theater” meant. When the Germans surrendered, I was in a theater, and after the man in the projection booth shouted out “Germany surrendered!” all the service men threw their hats in the air. I remembered the white screen with no film in the projector, the shadows of all those hats flying high in the air, and the happy whoops and hollers filling the theater. Soon after that my dad came home from the Navy.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Morris Dean

“Stately?” she quizzed my comment on her walk,
    her high-heeled shoes exalting shapely limbs
displayed in tights that summoned men to gawk
    and sing out something not for churchly hymns.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fish for Friday

The new economics of horse racing
are making an always-dangerous game even more so
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Bettina Sperry’s column this week reminded me of this March 2012 article from the NY Times: “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys” [Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, Dara L. Miles, & Griffin Palmer] Excerpt:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm: At the gate

Social sustainability and horse racing

By Bettina Sperry, with invited contributions from Steffanie Simpson

Horse racing is now facing major changes. Shrouded in a confusion of politics and economics at the state and local levels, the industry on a broader scale is taking a strong hit of national reform and proposed federal regulations through H.R. 3084, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015. H.R. 3084 The bill was introduced to establish national standards to improve the well-being of racehorses through the control of racing medications. H.R. 3084 is arguably well-supported through the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, comprised of such entities as the Breeder’s Cup, the Humane Society of the United States, the Jockey Club, and a host of others having a deep interest in the thoroughbred racehorse.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Second Monday Music: Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610

Claudio Monteverdi
by Bernardo Strozzi, c. 1630
Performed by the Seicento Baroque Ensemble

By Chuck Smythe

Five years ago, Evanne Browne, the music director at Boulder’s First Methodist Church, made a great leap of faith. Her chancel choir, augmented by ringers such as myself, were occasionally performing major works. She decided, at that time, to do Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. She is a specialist in early music and knew the piece to be fairly difficult, not least because it used musical styles strange to the modern singer. It also requires a full orchestra of 17th century instruments and a large corps of virtuoso vocal soloists. And it had never been done in Colorado before. Still, we did it, and it was a great hit.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Review: Leviathan

Biblical proportions

By Morris Dean

I can’t remember another Russian film I’ve seen recently, but if there are others of the caliber of Leviathan (2014, directed and co-written by Andrey Zvyagintsev), I would like to see them. The setting is the fictional Russian town Pribrezhny, for which serves the actual coastal town of Teriberka, whose shores are littered with the hulls of broken boats and the huge skeletal remains of a whale, which seems to be the symbolic touchstone of the film’s title. It might even be a reference to the whale in the Book of Jonah, because the film abounds in biblical and Orthodox Christian references: encounters with clergy of the Orthodox Church, a church ruin where teenagers gather to drink, away from their parents, and, especially, an explicit comparison of the central character, Kolya, to Job.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

First Saturday Growing Up in America

Trouble in Cleveland

By Rolf Dumke

[Sequel to “Chippewa on the Lake,” July 28]

The wind whipped over the frozen lake, creating innumerable ripples and swirls with the newly fallen snow. Long, white, fragile strings danced and curved over the dark blue ice, unwinding slowly on their path up to our shore, or, with a sudden jerk, disappeared and piled into the snow banks at the edge.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fish for Friday

Maremma sheepdogs of Middle Island, Australia
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Australia Deploys Sheepdogs to Help a Penguin Colony Back From the Brink.” [Austin Ramzy, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thor’s Day: Eroticism and its discontents

A response to last week’s column on pornography

By Bob Boldt

Moristotle asked me whether Kyle Garza, in his column last week, “Why Christians Aren’t Celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 Move,” left any room to distinguish pornography from erotica.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How can truth be both objective and subjective at the same time?

An approximate representation
That seems to be the only way it can be

By Morris Dean

A better way of asking the question might be: How can truth not be subjective for everyone, and how is objective truth even possible?
    Anyone’s perception of anything is his or her own perception. Objective truth depends on everyone involved’s agreeing on a procedure by which objective truth can be determined, or approximated as closely as possible – everyone may even agree that their procedure leaves room for doubt and revision. Science is that way, for example, and is stronger for it by forestalling the jumping to conclusions; everyone acknowledges that further information might change the consensus view.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Truth

It does not alter

By Vic Midyett

It escapes me who it was, but a famous person once said something like this: “Truth does not alter according to our desire or willingness to accept it.”
    A funny example (that I know to be true) is when a three-year-old girl had what she considered a terrifying experience with a medical nurse. Back then all the nurses wore white stockings. A short while later this little girl saw her first live chickens. What did they have if not white legs! She was absolutely terrified of chickens and saw no point in their existence.

Monday, November 2, 2015

First Monday with Characters

[From ozphoter.com]
Susan C. Price, recently in Italy
This was REQUESTED, so...if it’s not funny or interesting, blame the requestor :-) (Oh, and yes, i have a sort of shopping...interest / addiction / whatever. In the years when i was working it made sense, as i wore something different five days a week. i still have the appetite...but not the...oh, lets call it “need”…I buy things anyway...and...i’m working on it, so judge away...but don’t expect me to listen.)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fifth Saturday Fiction

The farm table (short short story)

By Bob Boldt

“The secrets in the world are infinite. The secrets in families are even vaster.” –Daniel Reeves

The mashed potatoes circled the table as slowly as a silent storm cloud. The only sound heard was the occasional click of the serving spoon on bowl or plate.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“My Dark California Dream” [Daniel Duane, NY Times] Excerpt:
Josh Churchman, a 63-year-old commercial fisherman who lives near Stinson in a legendary hippie hide-out called Bolinas, told me a story about sitting in his living room back in the early ’70s. A neighbor stopped by, offering to sell Mr. Churchman a nearby home for $20,000. “I had the money in cash, in the room, but I was building a new fishing boat so I turned him down,” Mr. Churchman says, in a California tale many times told. “In a single generation,” says Mr. Churchman, “my hometown went from where a guy like me could afford a home to ‘Not in your wildest dreams.’ ” As for the waters that gave Mr. Churchman a living, well, he hardly bothers fishing for salmon anymore, with the record low catch. [read more]

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thor’s Day: Why Christians aren’t celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 move

By Kyle  Garza

In case you didn’t already know, millions of Americans buy pornography subscriptions for their children every year, especially on Christmas or birthdays. No, they aren’t filling out the paperwork to have Playboy or Hustler delivered to their doorstep once a month in finely wrapped plastic. They are, however, buying them small handheld portals to pornography, like iPhones and iPads.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What might “experiencing something” be...

if that something isn’t really there?

By Morris Dean

Luminous shadow
spun of mind’s own filaments
enshrouds its temples

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Guilt

Both positive and negative

By Vic Midyett

In all things, including feelings and emotions, there is a negative and a positive. Consider guilt.
    At great risk to my longevity, I say that in American and Australian societies, with both of which I am familiar, the female gender uses guilt to such an extent from a very young age, it begs the question whether it’s genetic. Not that men don’t also use guilt, especially if their first answer to most requests is a stupidly blurted “no.” Bosses and leaders – political or otherwise – and religious organizations are masters at using guilt in manipulating people to achieve their objectives.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Relative Truth (Chapter 11 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor's Note: From the September 2015 review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
Jingle Jangle is a recounting of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Kim Ancona, plus the trial, conviction, appeal, retrial, upheld conviction, additional appeal, and subsequent overturned sentence and release of Ray Krone. The tale is told by Krone’s cousin, Jim Rix, a computer programmer and software developer turned chronicler of this fascinating foray into forensic sleuthing, questionable policing, dubious prosecution, alarming conviction, and incarceration of an innocent man.]

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I find this stately, unusual “music video” to be a beautiful version of the song featured in yesterday’s column [“You Raise Me Up,” 4:35].

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thor’s Day: On being raised up

By Vic Midyett

I’ve always felt some separation from the words of the duo Secret Garden’s song “You Raise Me Up,” whose refrain is, in Josh Groban’s version:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Can you hear the trees for the forest?

A delight of wearing hearing instruments while shaving

By Morris Dean

“Don’t take a shower with your new hearing aids,” I was counseled. I took the counsel so seriously that I would even remove the instruments before shaving, because before shaving I had always washed not only my face and neck, but also my forehead, the back of my neck, and behind my hears. Mustn’t douse those instruments!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Liam's Wuff

Members of the family

Edited by William A. Johnson

[Editor's Note: Liam’s most recent wuff appeared two weeks ago, on October 6.]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

Vagaries (a short story)

By Bob Boldt

The photograph, by French director Chris Marker (1921-2012), was the inspiration for my short story. The image begins Marker’s 1983 documentary, Sans Soleil [Sunless]:
The first image he told me about is an image of three children on a road in Iceland in 1965. He said that for him it was the image of happiness – and also that he had tried several times to link it to other images but it never worked. He wrote me, “One day I’ll have to put it all alone at the beginning of a film with a long piece of black leader. If they don’t see happiness in the picture, at least they’ll see the black.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Review: Beasts of No Nations

A thin line between innocence and evil

By Morris Dean

We almost didn’t watch it this evening: Beasts of No Nations (2015, directed and screenplay written by Cary Joji Fukunaga). The tagline on Netflix, which bought the film’s distribution rights for $12 million, described it:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 5. “Home Movies (Blue),” from The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Chapter 4. “The Game Plan,” appeared last month.]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fish for Friday

The Exxon Mobil Refinery in Torrance, California
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In case you haven’t seen this, the author also wrote Merchants of Doubt, a book-length version of the article: “Exxon’s Climate Concealment” [Naomi Oreskes, NY Times]. I haven’t been able to finish the book. Too depressing. The worst of it is that some apparently competent scientists became collaborators. I think that the most flagrant of the climate change deniers (those who know perfectly well they are lying) belong in prison. Excerpt:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thor's Day: On certain diatribes against religion

What might motivate them?

By Morris Dean

We wonder whether Christopher Hitchens’
myriad anti-religion bitchings –
    as well as Harris’s and Dawkins’ –
    are complaints against the stalkings
of certain evangelizing Christians?

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm: Women farmers

I am but one

By Bettina Sperry

As a woman who owns her own thoroughbred racehorse farm and raises a few head of cattle, I am always wondering how I’m doing – individually as a business and comparatively across the board. Not short of a strongly competitive nature, I look for ways to grow the farm business. How are my finances? What are my earnings per acre? How do my statistics stack against other farms? I don’t mind asking the hard questions, which include examining the farm’s efficiency and finding ways to leverage greater growth and income without necessarily creating a lot more work or putting the business at risk.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Monday Music: A lyrical inspiration

When a man loves a woman

By Morris Dean

Percy Sledge’s 1966 song, “When a Man Loves a Woman” has had a hold on me for weeks. The melody* has run through my mind so much, I’m wondering whether it’s more than a coincidence that the song came out the same year I met and married the woman who has been my wife for going-on 50 years. I figured I had to write another lyric for it. This is it:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Review: British and American productions of Shakespeare

A problem

By Rolf Dumke

In “Shakespeare in Modern English?” [New York Times, October 7], James Shapiro rightly discusses a main problem in both British and American Shakespeare productions, “that even the best directors and actors...too frequently offer up Shakespeare’s plays without themselves having firm enough grasp of what his words mean.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on July 12, 2014]


It’s nearly bedtime, but I’m seeing shapes
Beyond the window, on a hill of grapes.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“A New View of a Nebula Full of Newborn Stars.” [Sindya N. Bhanoo, NY Times] Excerpt:
A dazzling image of Messier 17, a reddish nebula 5,500 light-years from Earth, provides a detailed view of its newborn stars, gas clouds and dust. The gas in the nebula has a mass about 30,000 times that of the sun, astronomers estimate. The center of the nebula is home to more than 800 stars, and more are forming in the outer regions. The nebula is near the plane of the Milky Way, in the constellation Sagittarius, and is named after Charles Messier, who discovered it in 1764. The image was captured by a telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. [read more]

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thor’s Day: Let’s all just, like, love and be chill

By Morris Dean

I was stunned into recognition this week by an article in the New York Times about Ellen Page [“Ellen Page Goes Off-Script,” by Sam Anderson]. The following paragraphs are what did it. The article had just described an attempted conversation between Page, who is gay, and an evangelical Christian band called the Bontrager Family Singers — a family of 12 that had come to Des Moines to perform, that night, at [Ted] Cruz’s Rally for Religious Liberty:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Rachel Zamorski follow-up on selling real estate

It’s still about being of service

Interviewed by Morris Dean

We last spoke with Rachel Zamorski on May 8, 2013. Then a stay-at-home mom who found success selling residential real estate, Rachel’s outgoing personality and knowledge of the local market made her a favorite among area buyers and sellers. In August 2014 Rachel joined Keller Williams Realty and created the Rachel Z Team. Katie Burkholder, previously a top recruiter with a tech firm, joined her as a buyer’s agent, and in the last year production has increased 130%.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Liam's Wuff

Communicating with your dog

Edited by William A. Johnson

[Editor's Note: Liam is a 9-plus-year-old dog with three legs. In his interview on September 9, he answered questions posed by his dad, told us about his childhood, and provided some insights about life.
    Subsequently, he has received further inquiries about various important things. Today we share Liam’s views on the first topic.

Monday, October 5, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

William Silveira, by train and car
Marylin and I recently completed a 19-day trip into New Mexico and Arizona with a couple of friends. We spent some time in Santa Fe and Taos, and at Red River in New Mexico.