Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thor's Day: Are you an atheist?

Do you believe in fewer gods than someone else?

By Morris Dean

The definition shown to the right probably should say believes "in fewer gods" rather than "in one fewer god," but never mind. It would appear, if we looked at it strictly logically, that the only person who isn't an atheist – aside from agnostics, of course – is the one who believes in more gods than anyone else.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ask Wednesday: James Knudsen on writing for Moristotle

Now it's 
Moristotle & Co.

Edited by Morris Dean

Towards the end of the year 2012, we approached James Knudsen about writing a guest article for what was then Moristotle, even possibly doing a regular feature for us. James is a stage actor well-versed in Shakespeare and a teacher of theater craft. The previous year, at our own high school reunion, which he and his sister attended with their father, who was a teacher of ours and is now an honorary member of our class, James mesmerized us by reciting as his parting gift Hamlet's uncle Claudius’s attempt to assuage his guilt [Hamlet III, iii].

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Rest in peace, Mike Nichols

A memory of an earlier time

By Bob Boldt
He brought fierce wit, caustic social commentary and wicked absurdity to classics such as The Graduate, The Birdcage, Angels in America, and, for the stage, Monty Python’s Spamalot, in a career that spanned six decades.
    His directorial golden touch led him to be one of only 12 people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and numerous Tony Awards.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Review: The Lives of Others

The music, the music!

By Bob Boldt

“I know of nothing better than the Appassionata and could listen to it every day. What astonishing, superhuman music! It always makes me proud, perhaps naively so, to think that people can work such miracles!” Wrinkling up his eyes, Lenin smiled rather sadly, adding: “But I can’t listen to music very often. It affects my nerves. I want to say sweet, silly things and pat the heads of people who, living in a filthy hell, can create such beauty. One can’t pat anyone on the head nowadays, they might bite your hand off. They ought to be beaten on the head, beaten mercilessly, although ideally we are against doing any violence to people. Hm – what a hellishly difficult job!” –Maxim Gorky’s anecdote about Lenin listening to Beethoven’s Appassionata

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 2. Miguel Castro Maximum Security Prison, from the novel Far Stone

By Steve Glossin

[Editor’s Note: The opening chapter of this unfinished novel was published here on January 16.]

The 2x3 meter cell was the prisoner’s private black abyss when he lay down and let his mind wander to other places and times...A smothering coffin when his rage over betrayal and failure made him want to scream and beat his fists against the walls – but never did.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fish for Friday

To help fight a proposal to list added sugar on food labels,
the cranberry industry over the summer enlisted
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and
then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

"Food industry waging a bitter battle over proposal on added-sugar labels." [Evan Halper, LA Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thor’s Day: A holy reminder

Thou shalt not ignore the evidence

By Bob Boldt

How hard it is to change a mind based on new evidence and a reassessment. The outrage over Ferguson police conduct is valid, but let’s be honest about who Michael Brown was. Months ago a couple of white, Liberal friends on Facebook defriended me when I suggested Brown might not be a very suitable candidate for the Gandhi award. More evidence now points to the fact that Brown was indeed a bully, a thief, a thug, and not an innocent trying to surrender (hands up!) to officer Wilson. Perhaps Brown was a product of the rampant hostility largely engendered by the Ferguson police’s brutality toward their community, but it still seems that Brown gave Wilson no out but to kill him. I think the Jonathan Capehart piece in The Washington Post (“‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie”) pretty well sums up my conclusions after reading the Justice Department’s 86-page memorandum “...regarding the criminal investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Can older men keep their sexual response up through technique & attitude adjustment?

By Susan C. Price

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

Susan, a couple of friends and I have shared with each other that our libidos have fallen off (we are all males, of similar "mature" ages). I raised this subject with them because my slightly older single sister said she is still "very sexually active," and she likes to brag about it. I made the mistake of telling her I'm not that interested in sex anymore, and she berated me with all these stories of affairs she has with men my age, and older. She went into graphic specifics of their sexual activities, implying that it is her techniques that are wildly "successful" in the act. When I tell her I don't believe it, she says the reason is my attitude, that I think of myself as old and past it.
    I have been thinking about what she told me, but I just don't know. My friends and I don't think that sexual activity and response are simply a matter of attitude or specific "techniques." One of them was familiar with your column and suggested I ask you to help us clarify.
                            –Mature Male

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Growing up in America

Arrival in New York Harbor

By Rolf Dumke

The sky and waters were calm on Saturday, June 7th, 1952, when the Liberty ship made a slow right-turn into the panoramic view of New York Harbor.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

Orwell rebooted

By Bob Boldt

Someone recently asked me what I thought about a statement attributed to persecuted whistleblower, Thomas Drake: “If everything is a target, there is no target.” I said I thought that what he was driving at was, the bigger the haystack the harder to find the needle. When you collect everything on everybody, the amount of data is so overwhelming that anything relevant is nearly impossible to find.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Review: Citizenfour

Friends and countrymen, give me your ear

By Bob Boldt

I have spent my life making documentary films. Some of my mentors, men I have worked for, like Denis Mitchell, are now appreciated only by film historians, while others, like Studs Terkel, are better known. For over half a century I have seen some of the most amazing technical and aesthetic innovations in the area of documentary film and video. I feel as if I have seen the industry move from the stone age of production technology to the digital space age in the span of one lifetime.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet

Will and testament

By Morris Dean
Time was, we carved the cello’s Venus mound,
Composed the music for the melody,
And aged the ocher wood to free the sound
To sing the cello’s heart from memory.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fish for Friday

Brown Bear, Katmai Wilderness,
Katmai National Park and Preserve,
[Image credits: Robert Amuroso]
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

4th & 5th of 18 Photos from The Smithsonian’s “Wilderness Forever” Photo Contest

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thor’s Day

Pentecost at Chimayó 
(a short story)

By Bob Boldt

[Foreword: Last Sunday I attended the Catholic mass memorial service for a dear friend, Tony Barnicle. As readers know, I am no fan of any organized religion. I attended the mass out of the deep love and respect I had for my old friend. I must confess to being deeply moved by nearly all forms of worship. I feel the psychic force present in all such events, be they Santeria drummings, Baptist revivals, or the Catholic mass. This service was no exception for me. About the time the communion was being served, something released a memory from three years ago when I attended another distant mass with Tony and his wife, in the Sanctuary of Chimayó in New Mexico. I subsequently described the experience in a short story. The communion liturgy last Sunday somehow brought back all the sensual experiences of that other special mass, in Chimayó.]

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About giving advice that a person can hear

Edited by Morris Dean

During the venerable run of your “Ask Susan” columns, whenever we have forwarded you a question, you have always seemed to rub your palms together in delight, often replying within only two or three days. Giving advice seems to be your métier, or calling. What do you think of that? Does it feel like a calling, or just what does it feel like to you?
    You should just know by now that i will resist any labeling whatsoever. Not my calling, just something you thought of (tho, weird, i was thinking of the same thing when you mentioned it) and i love doing it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

Midnight, our newest calf
Food & the farmer

By Bettina Sperry

“The food which was not, he causes to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of farmers as patient creators dependent on the sun, weather, and seasons. And so it is.
    I love the work I do on my farm. I love the horses and cows that I produce. It takes many months to achieve the goodness of a single calf or foal. One of the hardships of farming is recognizing the end result of farming livestock is often the production of food. When you love your cows and calves, or sheep and goats and chickens, this isn’t a lighthearted matter.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Second Monday Music

A performing-arts intensive at the American International School of Utah

By Christa Saeger

One of the things I do besides direct orchestras in the Department of Performing Arts at the American International School of Utah, in Murray, Utah, is to help out with performing arts “intensives” for its students each trimester.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Review: Calvary

Don't presume

By Morris Dean

St. Augustine wrote somewhere that the reader should not despair, for one of the two thieves [being crucified the same day as Jesus] was saved. Nor should the reader presume, for the other thief was damned.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thirst Satyrday for Eros (in fiction)

How the prairie got its prick
(a short story)

By Bob Boldt

“The construction of this tower and the surrounding office complex that houses the Nebraska State Capitol building was completed in 1932.”
    Vivian Albers’s voice was quiet and strong. Because of the anteroom’s acoustics, it was not necessary to project above a conversational level in order that the flock of high school sophomores could hear her. She continued, “Because of the 400-foot height of the tower, and the lack of any other competing landmark, it is not unusual for the tower to attract a large number of lightning hits, sometimes even in relatively clear weather. The architect, Bertram G. Goodhue, was a protégé of the eccentric inventor, Nicola Tesla, and was rumored to have been interested in his electrical experiments, especially those dealing with the storage and transmission of electromagnetic energy.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by 
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Pretty entertaining, some of the "art of snow" that people create in their front yards.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thor's Day: Verbicide

Aristotle (384–322 BC). Roman copy after
Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC
(alabaster mantle a modern addition)
A crime of rhetorical proportions

By Kyle Garza

The best defense against the whimsical rhetorical strategies of any good prosecuting attorney is a solid understanding of Aristotle’s three appeals of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. To Aristotle’s mind, these three are ultimately what lead to a listener’s persuasion in favor of a speaker’s position. While the ethos of a speaker rests entirely in his personal character, his pathos and logos are established through the words he employs in his rhetorical attempts to persuade his audience. In matters of persuasion, all winsome speakers must sway the hearts of their audience by using diction that will appeal to their emotions (pathos) and their logical thinking (logos).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Are copies of JT: Another Mighty Midyett actually available yet?

Yes! In several formats

By Morris Dean

You ask whether copies of JT: Another Mighty Midyett are actually available yet.
    Yes, they are! As of this week, you can order paperback copies directly from the publisher, Xulon Press.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 8


By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The artist seems to have given this painting to her sister Flo Elowee Story for her birthday, for on the back, in Flo's calligraphic hand, is penned:
June 14, 1997
From DEAR Mary
My Sister

Monday, March 2, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Our new calf, Midnight
Edited by 
Morris Dean

Bettina Sperry, calving
With all the snow and sub-zero temps, the days on Franklin Hill Farm have been spent ensuring that the newly arriving and newly born calf was greeted by the warmth of a cared-for mom. Beginning on Valentine's Day, I spent every morning and evening hauling water and hay to the cow. Finally, on Thursday, Feb. 19th, in single-digit temperatures, she calved her little one. Franklin Hill Farm has four more calves on the way in the coming few months. Our small business thrives.
Midnight with mom on their first winter walk together
    We spent a later weekend sending our first mare in for foaling, due on March 17. Updates soon to follow!
    As the year progresses, it'll get easier and easier. Next winter will be easier, too, as I now know how to prepare better. All this work keeps me healthy.
The Rogers, to a new house in two weeks
We were recently burgled for the second time since we have been in Costa Rica. We love where we are but it is too easy for people to come in from the jungle side without being seen. So we found a new house closer to town and will move in starting the 15th of March. We'll lose the view of our beautiful valley but we will be more secure.
    I had hated the idea of going into the big city of San Jose to apply for a new passport but to my surprise it was easy and faster here than in the States. In less than two weeks we had our new passports.
    That's about it from CR.
                                –Pura Vida
The Midyetts, visited from afar
    Having never seen the West, they crossed the desert and came to visit our fair city of Bunbury. Here are a few photos they took on the way here:
    It has been wonderful to catch up with them again. We shared many laughs together in Queensland and have been looking forward very much to seeing them again. BBQs are in order!
    Others who have also said they would visit us again here, but these folks are the first.
    They took better photos of their trip west than we did:

Abravanel Hall
Geoffrey Dean, around Salt Lake City
It has been a very mild winter in Salt Lake City, with no lasting snowfall at all. Well, maybe a little back in late December, but we weren’t here then, so it doesn’t count. Last week the un-wintry conditions made it easy to do a kind of alternative walking tour of the Temple Square area of the downtown. Armed with a cello, I set out from our apartment five blocks north of the Square and made my way to the Tabernacle, where I joined the Spivey Hall Children’s Choir (SHCC) from Atlanta in a lovely Spanish-style song by choral composer Joan Szymko. SHCC was in town to open the national convention of the American Choral Directors’ Association.
    From the Tabernacle, we walked a block and a half to the Salt Palace Convention Center to warm up for a repeat performance at Abravanel Hall, home of the Utah Symphony and named after the conductor [Maurice Abravanel, 1903-1993] who transformed a community orchestra into a full-time professional ensemble. It was an honor to work with a very talented and dedicated group of young vocalists and to experience the nurturing guidance and consummate musicianship of SHCC founding director Martha Shaw.
    On Friday, my walking tour continued as I walked four blocks east to the Utah State Capitol Building, constructed entirely of materials native to the state of Utah, to play at a benefit event for CMV [Cytomegalovirus] awareness. I just increased my own awareness of CMV by reading some information on the Mayo Clinic website, and encourage Moristotle & Co.’s readers to do the same: "Diseases and Conditions: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection."
André Duvall, around Memphis
Current reading: I've gradually acquired a collection of various biographies of many of the major composers. I've now decided to start delving into this section of my library a little at a time. I've started reading Chopin, The Reluctant Romantic, by Jeremy Siepmann. It looks to be a great read.
    New eats: This month, I discovered Lisa's Lunchbox, which in addition to featuring healthy homemade sandwiches and soups, serves a variety of delicious smoothies made from a base of almond milk, cashews, vanilla, and molasses.

    Music in Memphis: On the first day of February, I had the pleasure of hearing all six of Bach's cello suites, which I discussed in a Second Monday Music piece. On the final day of February, I attended a masterworks concert of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. It was a wonderful program consisting of a Mozart piano concerto, Variations on I Got Rhythm for piano and orchestra by George Gershwin, and Rachmaninoff's Symphonic dances. After intermission, the Memphis Symphony chorus provided a prelude to the dances with a surprise performance of selections from Vespers by Rachmaninoff, sung from the balcony while the rest of the hall sat in darkness.
Kyle Garza, on a break recently
Last week I was off work for winter break, so I was with my fiancé during her school days at CSU Northridge, usually sitting in the back of the room grading my students’ work. She is a mechanical engineering major, so I sat in on Differential Equations, Calculus 3, and some sort of computer programming class. I had absolutely no idea what was going on in the lectures (the lengthiest of them was three hours). I knew she was intelligent on the other side of the brain, but I didn’t know just how intelligent! She received several quizzes back on the first day I visited – all A’s. One of them was only three problems long, but it was several pages: mind-blowing to me.
    After her school days, we went apartment “shopping” for the first time. It’s looking like we’re just going to have to keep checking in on apartment complexes every month until something is open. We have until June to figure out a place that is closer to my work and her school, so I’m confident something will open within our budget.
    I also wrote my first essay of the new semester for my MA program, which will be published this Thursday on Moristotle & Co.
    I’m in a class studying contemporary cultural issues that often come up in Christian-atheist debates, like abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, and celibacy. It’s actually particularly interesting in one regard because my professor is Catholic and opposed to the use of contraceptives (as many Catholics are), whereas I’m of the mind that doesn’t see a problem with certain kinds of them. I’m feeling quite comfortable with this semester so far because I’ve studied all these issues on my own time, but now I’m just getting a great reading list added to my starting grounds.
"Christina of Sweden,"
by Jacob Ferdinand Voet
Chuck Smythe, in concert
I performed Bach's titanic Mass in B minor at the Boulder Bach Festival Friday and Saturday, and the Seicento Baroque Ensemble began its Concert Week Saturday, featuring music this coming weekend that was inspired and commissioned by Sweden's flamboyant mid-1600's Queen Christina.
    Then I'm heading to Guatemala to visit an old buddy who is a snowbird.
At the MMA's "Battle in the South," February 28
Allen Crowder, two for two
    Congratulations to Allen Crowder! As he told us he would last month, he had a kickboxing match on February 6 in New York City and an MMA fight on February 28 in Greenville, North Carolina, and "I feel more ready than ever." It seems to have paid off: he won both bouts in the first round.
    Allen was interviewed by MMA Mayhem Radio on February 27, the night before Saturday's contest:

So I'm 5-0 now MMA, and 1-0 Kickboxing. I got more beat up before Saturday's fight then I did during it. I was holding pads for a teammate and caught a knee to my nose and lip, and I hit my Sensei elbow while I was warming up, but the fight went well. My opponent [William "Mac Truck" Baptiste] tried to take me down to the ground (like I figured he would) but I stuffed it and took his back. Then I decided I wanted to move. I took side control and dropped some body shots, then some vicious elbows to his head, splitting his forehead open. The ref called the fight. William had to get 23 stitches, but as soon as he heals we are going to start training together to get ready for our next opponents.
Susan C. Price, in status quo
I do not seem to have any changes in my character.
Jim Rix, in memoriam
My not-so-much-older (12.5 months older) brother Dan died on February 11, of complications arising from a life-long low-carb, high-protein/fat diet coupled with blind-faith in physicians.
Morris Dean, fallen afoul
    I fell afoul of a norovirus (apparently) about eight days ago. To describe its symptoms would be to hazard the social offense of providing TMI (too much information). Let it suffice to say that the norovirus is sometimes known as "the winter vomiting bug" in the UK, and that it is perhaps the main reason that people who go on cruises end up wishing they hadn't gone.
    I probably got the virus either from something I ate on Saturday night (the 21st) or from shaking hands with someone (and failing to wash my hands well).
    The worst was over by Tuesday – well, by Sunday at 7 a.m., if you count the vomiting as the worst (which I personally do). The gaseous bloating on Monday night was the most painful, however. But the three-day progress of the malady did parallel a doctor's description of the symptoms as "starting high (in the stomach) and working their way through and out." But there I go, providing TMI.
    I was luckier than my friend who told me he had what he called "the ten day crap" over his birthday (in January) that was "the worst flu I can remember." And also luckier than what some friends of a friend experienced over Christmas and New Year, which "wiped them out for ten days! And both [of them] sheepishly told us they had not taken flu shots." I don't think flu is what I had.

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Review: American Sniper

Not in Eastwood’s cross-hairs – but still disappointed

By Bob Boldt

As for American Sniper (2014, directed by Clint Eastwood), if Clint was out to direct a propaganda film, he did a pretty hopeless job of it. There was little to recommend it even to the Tea Bag nation. He could learn a lot from ZD-30’s Kathryn Bigelow. Now, there is a true embodiment of a latter-day Leni Riefenstahl.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fourth Saturday’s Loneliest Liberal


By James Knudsen

Two-thousand fourteen ended with my siblings and me officially joining the ranks of the orphans following the passing of our dad Mo. I commemorated the event by changing the wallpaper on my smart phone to a very “Mad Men” shot of dad that was taken at a studio. This was replaced after a month with a picture of Dad and Mom which remains to this day.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by 
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Best road. Transfăgărășan, Romania:
    The Transfăgărășan or DN7C is the second-highest paved road in Romania. Built as a strategic military route, the 90 km of twists and turns run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu. The road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Piteşti.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thor's Day: Elvis's sign from God

So strange it must be real

By Jim Rix

It is commonly known that Elvis was a religious man. What is not well known is the roll Josef Stalin played in cementing Elvis’s faith. Here in performance by Al Stewart is the story, “so strange it must be real.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Does it help to pray for weather?

What do you think?

By Morris Dean

I turn the question back to you, because I don't really know, although I admit that I confidently assume it doesn't help to pray for weather. Do you pray for weather? Do you find it useful?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday Voice

Oliver Sacks
Thoughts upon hearing that Oliver Sacks will soon depart

By Bob Boldt

It was a dark and stormy night when I ventured out into one of the biggest blizzards of the young year 2007. My destination was the Lensic Theater, where one of their landmark discussions was being held by the Lannan Foundation. The night’s guest was Lawrence Weschler, who was hosted by Oliver Sacks.