Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thor's Day: Get ready to meet Jesus

We can make you look pretty

By Morris Dean

If you're an older Southerner (and spent much time in church those years ago), do you

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I tell if I’m gay, and can I change it?

By Susan C. Price

[Questions are followed by answers and then, inevitably by DID expect that...didn’t you?]

Please help! I am a 17-year-old girl and I think I’m gay. I have never felt comfortable with boys on the kissing front, but I get on great with them for sports, etc. My parents would have a fit if they thought I was gay. I’ve heard them say things about famous people who are gay, and it’s not good! How can I tell if I’m gay and can I change it? –Girl

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Voice: In editorial cartoons

Drawing right conclusions

By Vernon Dewayne Voss

[Editor's Note: After I learned that my cousin Vern Voss has a trove of editorial cartoons, I asked to use some in our "Fish for Friday" column. Much of Vern's work is devoted to expressing his conservative political views and his reading of the Bible, so the ones shown here are more representative than the ones we felt comfortable selecting for fish....To be continued at the bottom...]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Third Monday Musing

Eric Meub is away
In retrospect

Edited by Morris Dean

Eric Meub is away on architectural assignment. It's a good occasion for us to catch up with his musings and return to any of his previous columns we may have missed or just wish to savor again:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Review: Five films for Summer

Across the genres:
from the mythical west to the dystopian future

By Jonathan Price

The films A Million Ways to Die in the West, Chef, Palo Alto, Locke, and The Rover represent ones I’ve seen within the last month, and they merit some attention, even if you decide not to see them. But each seems to represent a different genre, or a different tendency in filmmaking, and a different tendency of some creative people to move off in new directions, but most still remain disappointing in some way.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 1 from Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book

By Shirley Skufca Hickman

Balancing on her ladder, seventeen-year-old Elena Hernandez clipped the stem of another orange and dropped it into the canvas bag slung across her body. Stopping to rest, she glanced past the orange grove to a cotton field and beyond to a grape vineyard bordered by valley oaks and eucalyptus trees. The merciless California sun beat down at midday, making her hot and uncomfortable.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The lead paragraph of the following story states that Raju's rescue is giving the world something to smile about: "Raju the Elephant Cries Tears of Joy While Being Rescued From 50 Years of Captivity." While I am glad, I'm more inclined to weep with Raju for the life he was forced to endure. Excerpt:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 1

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

The preacher's 5-year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why.
    "Well, Honey," he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages, "I'm asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon."
    "How come He doesn't answer it?" she asked.

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Shelly Hall on the operation of local transit systems

Public systems need private help

Edited by Morris Dean

At our next-door neighbors’ first birthday party for their twin boys this spring, I was pleased to strike up a conversation with Shelly Hall, who is the Vice President for Safety and Security at the French-held company Veolia. In the United States, Veolia provides public transit management services to transit agencies. The company currently has over 70 contracts in the US and Canada.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking

Painted from an unknown scene in an art book (8" x 10")
Paintings from life

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: Three of the paintings shown today are in the collection of the artist's granddaughter Dianne Condley Kapigian, and one is in her great granddaughter Rayanne Kapigian's collection. We thank mother & daughter for permission to use them. Mary Alice Condley was my eldest sister.]

Monday, July 14, 2014

Second Monday Music: Movement in musical performance

More than meets the eye

By André Duvall

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the release by Virgin Records of Roy Orbison’s final album, Mystery Girl, which went public a few months after his death in December of 1988. He was first signed in Memphis, Tennessee by Sun Records, just a few minutes from where I live. Orbison’s voice is markedly different from most voices I have heard, lending a haunting and warm quality to his music. Elvis once said that Orbison’s voice was one of the most beautiful voices that he had ever heard. Others have described his voice as sounding otherworldly, operatic, and powerful.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



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

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fish for Friday

Pinus Gaudensis, Ponderosa Pine buds
(photo by Ed Schmahl)
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

What a beautiful display of mountain flowers, last night I watched Nature on TV; it is amazing how a variety of animals work together in large groups to protect themselves from predators.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thor's Day: A Christian-atheist conversation

About animal rights

By Morris Dean 
& Kyle Garza

Morris: In my Thor’s Day post of June 5 (“Value experience for its own sake: It’s an art”), I not only stated positively my view of the sacred art of living in a way that values life and respects one’s own and others’ experience for its own sake, but also outlined six areas in which I found the monotheistic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam wanting:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What's blooming in Columnist Chuck Smythe's Colorado?

Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa),
an endangered orchid
Glorious mountain flowers!

By Ed Schmahl

[Editor's Note: Ed Schmahl and Chuck Smythe have been hiking buddies since 1966. They've spent uncounted thousands of hours in the mountains of Colorado.]

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Roo Bars

How to kangaroo-proof your car

By Vic Midyett

Something I've never thought to explain to my wider audience is that you don't drive at night anywhere in Australia, except in cities. YOU JUST DON"T. There are more kangaroos in the country than there are people. The chance of hitting one with your car is high.

Monday, July 7, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

André Duvall, in accompaniment & solo
Last week, I performed with four other musicians in the second annual Peanut Butter & Jelly Concert for the Mid-South Food Bank, which services over thirty counties in West Tennessee and Northern Mississippi. We raised several pounds of non-perishable items, as well as a good supplement of cash donations, for the Food Bank. For the majority of the concert, I accompanied three of the performers, including soprano Kallen Esperian. Kallen is dearly loved in Memphis and is sort of our “home town” opera star, having performed in almost all the major opera houses in Europe and toured with Pavarotti many years ago, and we were very fortunate to have her come and support our efforts. I also played some solo works for piano and organ for this concert.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Review: Earth & Oceans

One thing we know

By Morris Dean

One thing about who we are we know: we evolved from the earliest life forms on Earth. We are, in the deepest sense, children of the Earth, and we are related to Earth's other children. For those interested in a highly readable book about how we know that, I recommend Richard Dawkins's The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

First Saturday Open

What the spammers are saying

By Morris Dean

Before we look at what the spammers are saying, I see that two of you have a hand raised.
    "What happened to Ed Rogers's column, First Saturday as the World Turns?"

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The peaceable Kingdom can be achieved it seems. The following narrative comes from Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, in Georgia:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thor's Day: Faith and more

By Morris Dean

Some newspapers have a section they call “Faith and More,”
where they stuff church stuff and words designed to shore
    their readers up
    and hand them a cup
of courage to believe all the things they believe about “Thor.”
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Comment box is located below

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday Voice

A day in Hahndorf

By Vic Midyett

Toward the end of June, Shirley & I took a day trip from Strathalbyn, South Australia to Hahndorf, the oldest German-settled town on the continent, they say, and completely dependent on tourism.
    Hahndorf has some awesome art galleries, which Shirley drooled over. We went from one to the other, passing a huge number of cafes and restaurants, all serving German food. Everything is on one very long street.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Fifth Monday Fiction

Excerpt from a novel in progress

By Michael Hanson

[Editor’s Note: Raymond is now 40, and he still refers to his mother as JP, which stands for Janie Poo.]

Though she’d sometimes make mention of the Big Guy, JP didn’t seem to buy into the conventional Catholic Creator she was raised to believe in, and although I never pressed for specifics on what that all-important word meant to her, how did she define it, I did ask her about Heaven and Hell (having been scared shitless ever since Sunday School): did she believe these existed as actual places the way we were taught? Her response confirmed how far she’d strayed from the Catholic course.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Review: Turn (TV series)

Strong and true

By Morris Dean

Yesterday I said to my wife, "I miss Anna Strong. I want Season 2 of AMC's Turn to be here already." Alas, it won't return until Spring 2015, according to AMC's website.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: Attending to detail

The color of blood

By James Knudsen

First, I’m going to tell you what I was going to write about. Then, I’m going to write about what I’m writing about.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Highly creative people tend to connect the dots.
    If there's one thing that distinguishes highly creative people from others, it's the ability to see possibilities where other don't – or, in other words, vision. Many great artists and writers have said that creativity is simply the ability to connect the dots that others might never think to connect.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thor's Day: Moral quandary


By Morris Dean

What a plight to be of the human race –
grabbing everything, claiming every place,
    eating all kinds of animal
    (no laws yet make it criminal) –
were I pig or cow instead, I'd have no face.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What other birds did the editor see at the beach?

By Morris Dean

First he shares some more photos of the Blue Martins and the Pelican at Carolina Beach (that is, in addition to those he displayed on June 15):

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tuesday Voice

Ocean lighthouse therapeutic painting plus (detail)
Therapeutic art is more

By Vic Midyett

My wife Shirley calls the painting shown below HER therapeutic painting. She started painting it well over a year ago. At first it was only clouds in vivid orange, red, pink, and white splashes, almost like an atomic explosion. Then it toned down a little, but still with dark, angry-looking clouds. She would put it away and go back to it over the months, changing its mood each time.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Adventures of the lab rat continue

By Susan C. Price

Alzheimer’s dementia has existed in my family, and in Mike’s. Both of our mothers died of it. My grandmother and my uncle as well (but NOT my aunt). No one has had early onset (before age 75) so it’s not super genetically linked. Who knows what my odds are...maybe 50%. Yet, I fear it. And, because I have yet to find a regular volunteer activity that “fits,” I have started to seek and join in any and all aging and dementia-related studies I can find. I am a lab rat.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Review: Rectify (TV series)

Southern gothic

By Morris Dean

Rectify's first season left his Georgia town asunder,
was releasing Daniel Holden from the pen a blunder?
    Some wanted to make him pay,
    others rushed to bar their way;
Season 2 started Friday – how much longer must we wonder?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Fact following fiction...sadly

By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

The Huffington Post article "Satao the Elephant Killed by Poachers in Kenya" tells of the tragic killing of Satao, half-brother of the allegedly fictional Mastodon, who was mentioned in the chapter from Poacher that was published here last August 31 ["The Melon Gambit," by motomynd (aka Paul Clark)].

Friday, June 20, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

A very few years ago most poacher patrols spent more time in villages educating locals about the importance of preserving wildlife to attract tourists, than they did in the bush actually hunting poachers. The poachers they did have to track down were more likely to be local villagers snaring "bush meat" to supplement the meager nutrition gleaned from their small farms, than hardcore professionals trying to make money from their efforts.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thor's Day: Faith in faith

Personal wish-fulfillment

By Morris Dean

When we believe in things that are but wraith
(resurrection, heaven), we must have faith in faith;
    with nothing to evidence
    our beliefs, we reference
our head's own wish-fulfilling lathe.
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Comment box is located below

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Vernon DeWayne Voss on killing cancer naturally

Even if the doctors consider it whacko

Edited by Morris Dean

My cousin DeWayne Voss was a boyhood friend. We played chess together, we boxed (although hitting each other in the head quickly lost its appear). We drew cartoons and made posters for church. He would invite a few children from the neighborhood and we would play tent revival – DeWayne taking the role of the preacher, of course. He was as gifted an orator as he was a cartoonist. (Some of his current cartoons are starting to appear in our "Fish for Friday" column.)
    I learned earlier this year that DeWayne, whom we now call Vern, has cancer, and several weeks ago he and I had a long telephone conversation from his home in Tucson, Arizona. What Vern told me was so remarkable, it seemed almost imperative that the story of his dealing with the situation be shared with others. We are grateful that he agreed to be interviewed. [Our questions are in italics.]

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tuesday Voice: A seventh red herring of the healthcare biz

A cartoon

By Jim Rix

After “Risk factors,” my previous red herring, was published, the editor suggested in retrospect that I might have used this cartoon, which he saw on his doctor’s bulletin board and thought sounded pretty healthy:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Third Monday Musing: Art and oblivion

By Eric Meub

Sister Susan finds these Musings difficult. She claims the fault is hers. That’s just her way of being gracious. I know my failings far too well to imagine that a turbo-charged conversationalist like Susan should find a properly constructed Musing difficult. So let us build a better Musing. Here are some suggestions:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Reviewer's day off

[Click to enlarge]
At the beach with my camera

By Morris Dean

The place was Carolina Beach, North Carolina. The Pelican shown to the right was lounging out near the boat dock on the marina inlet from the Intracoastal Waterway, and the Purple Martins shown below were at work feeding their young, or so I gathered.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



The king gave me protection, and the god
the body of an ad for underwear,
but on the docks of Troezen in a fraud
of both I tempted every sailor there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

As much credit as John F. Kennedy gets, he never understood the poor. Most of what he did he was forced to do in order to save face. Johnson came the closest to understanding and trying to help the poor, but he was such a contradiction it is hard to tell if he really understood or was just politically smart.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thor's Day: Faith's one big fear

By Morris Dean

A few people have quoted Mark 9:24 to me in an attempt to bolster their faith, or maybe just convince me that they are right to be concerned about losing their faith. I'm not sure which. Anyway, Mark 9:24 says [in the King James Version]:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What is the aging editor doing this week to keep his brain adroit and agile?

[Click to enlarge]
Harder than it looks

By Morris Dean

After considering learning Norwegian or taking up C# programming in web framework ASP.NET MVC5 using the Object-relational mapping technique Entity Framework 6 for SQL Server (Azure) databases, with the front end stack Knockout + jQuery + Underscore + Bootstrap 3 to try to qualify for a job opening in a Coy Lee Pittman startup company, he decided to try something really challenging and therapeutic – he'll master two-thumb typing on his Motorola Droid.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Why I paint

By Shirley Deane/Midyett

I paint because I must. Children are born with an innate desire to extend out into their world in different ways, like making mud pies. I started by taking different coloured leaves and little brown twigs and used them to make clothes. I lived in a fantasy-filled world, creating stories. I made up a language and produced little books filled with pictures and symbols.
    Things changed when I went to school. Not only did the teachers not like my endeavours, they wanted me to learn theirs, so I stopped.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Second Monday Music: Voices

Make or break

By Morris Dean

Sam as a kid sang sweeter than he spoke,
but after age thirteen, when his voice broke,
    no matter how he squeezed his throat,
    he couldn't croon a single note;
he could, though, squeak and squawk and screech and croak.

[Authorial Note: I drafted the limerick in a dream between approximately 3 & 4 a.m. on Tuesday, May 27, after which I abruptly woke up, seemingly worried that I wouldn't be able to remember it. After going over it a few times to try to make it stick, I proceeded to write a limerick commenting on what had happened. Unfortunately, I have no recollection of the second limerick.]
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Comment box is located below

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sunday Review: The Attack

A perfect life deconstructed

By Morris Dean

Spellbound last weekend, my wife and I watched The Attack (2012, written & directed by Ziad Doueiri), a film in Hebrew & Arabic with English subtitles.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

First Saturday as the World Turns

Education and hunger

By Ed Rogers

I believe, as we look ahead and see the road much shorter than the one behind us, we have moments where we reflect on where things went wrong. Everybody thinks that the movement in the sixties was about the Vietnam War, but that was only a part of it. There was a war on the poor even back then and many a debate centered around what we could do about the poor. While Nixon was bombing the hell out of Vietnam with operation Rolling Thunder, his "Re-elect the President" campaign was blaming those on welfare for pulling the economy down.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Given your digiscoping efforts, you seem to have an avid interest in birds, so I'm attaching a couple of photos to see if you can help ID this bird. They were taken with my handheld mini zoom camera yesterday evening. The photos are cropped, as the bird appears to be the size of a cardinal, or very possibly smaller, and it was singing in the tops of the tallest pine trees on our route.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thor's Day: Value experience for its own sake

It's an art

By Morris Dean

A passage in John E. Smith's study of The Spirit of American Philosophy recently brought me full-stop. It was like the birth of Minerva from my own skull.
    The passage was in Chapter IV, on the philosophy of John Dewey, and it was about Dewey's conception of art. It provided a formula or metaphor for me to express my own personal sense of the holy or sacred.