Saturday, September 20, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 22. The High Country, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[James Hamilton has had to abandon his business and flee Mexico to avoid being killed by a Colombian drug cartel. Previous excerpt, "Santa Teresa," published here on August 30.]

Northern California is not like any other part of the state. I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge about six in the morning, a light fog hung over the water. As usual, there was a chill in the air, but fortunately, I wore my full leathers. Most of the traffic came across the bridge from the north at that time of day. The line of cars looked like ants as they broke from the darkness of the tunnel into the gray morning light. Each little soldier, sadly in search of a dream that required them to spend eight hours locked in an office. Then at the end of the day they would make the drive back across the bridge and start over tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fish for Friday

[Click to read text]
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

And in the beginning, and in times since, Americans have always created a god who suits their purposes: "5 ways America changed God." Excerpt:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 4

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

During these serious and troubled times, people of all faiths should remember these four great religious truths:
  1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God's Chosen People.
  2. Jews do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
  3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.
  4. Baptists do not recognize each other at the liquor store.
Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Faces of Berkeley Politics 2014

By Tom Lowe

For my latest photo project, I took my camera to the Kriss Worthington campaign kickoff on Berkeley's City Hall steps.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on October 8, 2013]

The raven’s more than hoarse by now, he’s dead
of boredom. Duncan’s come again, fifth time,
and I’ve put fresh sheets on the sofabed
for Mac and me, sleepwalking past our prime.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fish for Friday

Eyjafjallajökull - a "little" volcano - erupting in 2010
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Travel Planning: "Just To Let You All Know...." Excerpt:
... since it's gotten about zero coverage (it gets almost no hits on Google News)....
    It's a beautiful day here in Iceland. The weather is crisp. Clear skies over almost the whole country. Light breezes. Potential erupting globally-super-dangerous volcano. Chirping birds. The usual
    Oh, did I bury the lead that a globally-super-dangerous volcano might be getting ready to go off? Um, yeah, you might want to watch this one just in case....

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 3

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

When my daughter, Kelli, said her bedtime prayers, she would bless every family member, every friend, and every animal (current and past). For several weeks, after we had finished the nightly prayer, Kelli would say, "And all girls."
    This soon became part of her nightly routine, to include this closing. My curiosity got the best of me and I asked her, "Kelli, why do you always add the part about all girls?"
    Her response: "Because everybody always finish their prayers by saying 'All men'!"

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

I've moved on, but how can I get her to move on?

By Susan C. Price

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

My boyfriend cheated on me with a girl who lives near him. At first he denied it, but she somehow got my name and cell phone number and contacted me to expose him. I finished with him immediately but he is still contacting me and begging me to take him back. He says he is really sorry and won't do it again, but I've decided to go my own way without him.
    The problem is that the girl is still contacting me with abusive messages and calls. I don't want to get into a fight with her because I've moved on. But what should I do? I can't change my number, I use it for work. –Moved On

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 3

Still life with onions (detail)
Paintings from love of light

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The two paintings shown today are in the collection of the editor, the artist's only brother.
    Three paintings in the collections of the artist's grandson Stephen Denham & granddaughter Jo Condley Snyder were shown on August 26.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Second Monday Music: The marvel who was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Two anecdotes

Edited by Morris Dean

[The following anecdotes I found in a short search of the World-Wide Web.]

Mozart's young memory:
Part of the service used in the Pope's chapel at Rome is sacredly guarded and kept with great care in the archives of the chapel. Any singer found tampering with this Miserere of Allegri, or giving a note of it to an outsider, would be visited by excommunication. Only three copies of this service have ever been sent out. One was for the Emperor Leopold, another to the King of Portugal, and the third to the celebrated musician, Padre Martini.
    But there was one copy that was made without the Pope's orders, and not by a member of the choir either.
    When Mozart was taken to Rome in his youth, by his father, he went to the service at St. Peter's and heard the service in all its impressiveness. Mozart, senior, could hardly arouse the lad from his fascination with the music, when the time came to leave the cathedral.
    That night after they had retired and the father slept, the boy stealthily arose and by the bright light of the Italian moon, wrote out the whole of that sacredly guarded Miserere. The Pope's locks, bars, and excommunications gave no safety against a memory like Mozart's. [Web source]

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Understanding Eros

...merits ardent investigation

By Jim Rix

It’s been awhile since I studied the Greek gods, but here’s what I remember about them in relation to Eros (the God of Love and Sexual Desire). Eros is the son of Aphrodite (the Goddess of Love, Beauty, Sexuality, Pleasure, Procreation, etc.), who was born when Cronus (a first-generation Titan) cut off Uranus (the God of the Sky’s) balls and threw them into the sea, out of which Aphrodite arose from Aphros (the God of Sea Foam). (Those ancient Greeks had a God for everything.)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Know this from Campbell:
Jesus, for example, can be regarded as a man who by dint of austerities and meditation attained wisdom; or on the other hand, one may believe that a god descended and took upon himself the enactment of a human career. The first view would lead one to imitate the master literally, in order to break through, in the same way as he, to the transcendent, redemptive experience. But the second states that the hero is rather a symbol to be contemplated rather than an example to be literally followed. The divine being is a revelation of the omnipotent Self, which dwells within us all. The contemplation of the life thus should be undertaken as a meditation on one's own immanent divinity, not as a prelude to precise imitation, the lesson being not "Do thus and be good," but "Know this and be God." –Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (p. 275, revised 3rd edition, New World Library; p.319, 2nd edition, Princeton/Bollingen paperback)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thor's Day: A new proof for the non-divinity of Jesus or the errancy of the Bible

One or the other

By Morris Dean

On a walk this morning, on the day of my writing this (August 3), I realized that the second installment of "Christian-atheist conversation: About Christianity’s non-'holy days'" [published on August 7] revealed a new proof for the non-divinity of Jesus or the errancy of the Bible, one or the other. Here's how it goes:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Who's asking?

By Morris Dean

As far as I can remember, I didn't wonder as a child why there was something rather than nothing, and I don't remember hearing anyone voice the question. I believe I came upon it for the first time at age 19, in a book by German philosopher Martin HeideggerIntroduction to Metaphysics (from a 1935 lecture).

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Esperance, Western Australia

Watching it all from our place

By Vic Midyett

On our way from South Australia back to our home base of Bunbury, Western Australia, after three years away as "gray nomads," Shirley & I stopped at Esperance for a few days.

Monday, September 1, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

James Knudsen, in the garden
You're probably thinking, “enough with the bugs already!” But, this fellow... fella, I suspect it's a she, charmed me. She has made her home in the patch of mint off the back porch that has been there since my youth. And if you're wondering about the orientation of the picture, that's how I snapped it. Praying mantis' seem to enjoy hanging around upside down. They really do move in a three-dimensional way, forward/back, right/left, up/down. At some point this mantis decided, via her well-developed, binocular, stereoscopic vision, that I was nothing to be concerned about and started cleaning her forelimbs. That's what the camera has captured here.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fifth Saturday Fiction

Chapter 16. Santa Teresa, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[The first-person narrator is James Hamilton, a Vietnam draft dodger and entrepreneur. In this chapter he’s flying with his friend Jay, who sometimes flies for the C.I.A., to pick up product and distribute cash. Previous excerpt, "The Hippie Experience," published here on March 15.]

Behind us the demons wrought hell on earth, but once again the jaws of death hadn’t closed fast enough. The night sky was clear and beautiful. I looked at Jay—his shirt was black from the sweat. My own shirt clung to me and sweat ran down my back, and the top of my jeans felt wet. “I’ll bet we lost ten pounds fighting that damn storm.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

What if today's papers and news stories read:
In Chiapas and Palestine armed soldiers threw down their arms, ripped off their uniforms and returned to their homes convinced they were wasting their time serving someone else's interests. Finding themselves unprotected para-military groups and assailants did the same in an unexpected act of self-esteem and love for humanity. There was confusion and bliss among many, the Zapatista and Palestinian people continued their daily work of reconstruction. Around the world belligerent armies follow the example, perplexed as to why they had waited so long when their heart was telling them all along what was the right thing to do.
    We can propose a vision, yes? –Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thor's Day: Where the spirit lives

Bilingual dream work

By Ralph Earle

How we struggle to frame our dreams
in language not entirely familiar, dreams
of finding the way by car to the gathering,
or rolling secretly off a train
headed to the wrong town.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I amicably deal with my unbearable neighbors?

By Susan C. Price

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

My neighbors are making my life unbearable! They play loud music, especially on weekends, and they are always bar-b-cuing and the smoke comes over to my garden, making sitting outside very unpleasant. They are a young family with four children under 12. I know it’s hard keeping them all amused, but my husband and I are in our 60s and want a quieter life. We’ve already been there, done it, and wear the T-shirt, if you know what I mean!
    How can I approach the subject without causing an issue? We have been neighbors for five years, and up until the past summer we never had any cross words. –Neighbor

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 2

European Cityscape (detail)
Paintings out of longing

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The three paintings shown today are in the collections of the artist's grandson Stephen Denham & granddaughter Jo Condley Snyder. We thank them for permission to use them.
    Four paintings in the collections of granddaughter Dianne Condley Kapigian and great granddaughter Rayanne Kapigian were shown on July 15.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

My stepdad

By Susan C. Price

My stepdad, Lou, was dying. He had entered the Intensive Care Unit one day ago. His assigned nurse, Gene, was short, red-headed, and male. Dad and Gene appreciated each other’s sense of humor and for some reason, Gene had indicated he was gay. Lou had no problem with this. ( I was relieved. Dad’s supervision of African American’s in the war had left him uncharacteristically prejudiced.)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Review: The Assets (TV)

Not an asset to ABC

By Morris Dean

ABC started running its series The Assets early in January. My wife and I watched the first two episodes and loved the program, which is based on the career of CIA analyst Aldrich Ames and how he was identified as the mole who had sold lethal information to the Soviets in the 1980s. The CIA officers who encouraged and led the investigation, Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, wrote the book, Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames, on which the series is based.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: In praise of Augusts

Then & now

By James Knudsen

August is here! I suppose it’s everywhere else too, but here in the San Joaquin Valley it means we are enjoying the last days of summer and some of us are getting the new school year underway. I am currently in the second week of the Fall 2014 semester at Fresno City College. It wasn’t always this way.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Some more on Ferguson: "In Ferguson the violence of the state created the violence of the street." Excerpt:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thor's Day: Biblical guidance

One of the author's favorite scenes,
looking down from Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Thank you, Bible scholars

By Craig Johnson

I'm writing to thank Opinion Page Bible scholars for educating us regarding God's law. I share their wisdom with as many people as possible. For example, when someone defends the homosexual lifestyle, I remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly declares it an abomination. End of debate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Why announce no column today?

Well, it's like this

By Morris Dean

A few days ago, I was talking with Susan C. Price about scheduling her upcoming "Ask Susan" columns, of which I have four ready to go. I told her I didn't have anything else for "Ask Wednesday" right now, so I guessed I'd just run those four starting today for four consecutive Wednesdays. No problem...except that I hated to just use 'em all up all that, especially since we don't have any additional questions in stock for her. (You could help with that, you know.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 4)

A miner's tale

By George Kountouris

[Sequel to "Down in the mines"]

[Foreword from Vic Midyett: We met George in his retail store in Coober Pedy, which he opens in the afternoons after spending the morning at his mine site. His wife and kids live in Adelaide, where they have another retail store. The Kountouris' website is called "Opal Now"; it is still under construction, with more product pictures coming soon.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Third Monday Musing


By Morris Dean

This column's regular host, Eric Meub, is taking a pause from musing. In the interim, we'll be using his Third Monday slot for whatever other musings might come along, keeping the slot readily available for Eric's brand of musings whenever he's ready to start again. We all look forward to his return.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Review: Labor Day

Love's labor not lost

By Morris Dean

"Labor Day" (2013, directed by Jason Reitman, starring Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin) afforded my wife and me a satisfying movie-watching experience for Friday night, courtesy of our local library.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Excerpts from Chapters 20-25 from the novel Death Mask

By Steve Glossin

[Bob Tilden and his old boss Bill Holden are in Saudi Arabia, on the trail of the mysterious, fabulously wealthy collector – The Egyptian – believed to have purchased relics stolen from the grave of Tupac Amaru, the Last Inca....]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fish for Friday

Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014)
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The Daily Show website is doing a special on remembering Robin Williams, with a link to his recent appearances with Jon Stewart.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thor's Day: A love ethic in practice

Celebrating life by helping others

By Joel Kleinberg

Years ago I decided to make people's lives happier, not harder. So I decided I'd never write letters of complaint, but rather I'd write "the boss" only to compliment exceptional service. Here is one of many notes written over the years that can serve as a format for yours:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Donna Carney on dog rescue and transport

The Schnauzer contingent of the Carney Family
[click to enlarge]
Work from the heart

Edited by Morris Dean

Donna Carney and her husband have been helping with dog rescue in the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they live, for the last couple of years. My wife and I learned about their work when we visited them in April – and were able to spend some happy time around their ménage of four miniature Schnauzers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 3)

Down in the mines

By Vic Midyett

[Sequel to "Looking around the town"]

We visited one of the opal mines that are open to the public. It wasn't in use anymore, but they try real hard to sell you the opals they have in their showroom. Their income depends on allowing tourists to wander around underground looking at all the corridors the miners made when hunting the gem.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Second Monday Music: An amateur opera

No, the reviewer, not the opera!

By Chuck Smythe

[Editor's Note: Chuck did say in his most recent character update: “Want an amateur opera review?”]

I recently attended a performance of The Marriage of Figaro at Colorado’s Central City Opera. This was, if I recall rightly, only about the eighth opera I’ve ever attended. I hope you will be entertained by the impressions of a neophyte. The location alone makes this an Experience. Central City was one of the richest of Colorado’s gold rush towns.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Review: A Most Wanted Man, Lucy, and Begin Again

2½ summer films worth seeing

By Jonathan Price

My last summer film review [July 20] apparently was a downer for some readers, who concluded I was turned off on the films I saw, and that none of them were worth seeing, which was not my point, but I’ll try not to be so opaque in this review of three films that opened recently, and each of which is definitely worth seeing, with some minor reservations about the third: A Most Wanted Man, Lucy, and Begin Again.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



Why bother getting out of bed? It’s not
As if we’re here in season: covered pool
And lounge chairs stacked like firewood as a rule.
I say resort, you think forsaken spot.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Robert Reich observes that what someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society: "Work and Worth." Excerpt:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thor's Day: A Christian-atheist conversation, Part 2

About Christianity’s non-“holy days”

By Kyle Garza & Morris Dean

[Sequel to “About animal rights]

Kyle: Morris, you claimed in this column on June 5 (“Value experience for its own sake: It’s an art”) that a second flaw of Christianity is that it devalues experience that doesn’t occur on the “holy days.” You wrote that it implicitly demotes days that aren’t sabbaths (or Saint’s days, or other religious holidays) to a lesser status.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I stop lying?

By Susan C. Price

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

I keep telling lies! I can’t help myself, I’ve always done it – even as a small boy. But now that I’m in my thirties it’s becoming a big problem!
    I lie about trivial things like how many sugars I’ve put in someone’s coffee, and I tell serious lies with regards to work, like having had an appointment with a client when I haven’t! It’s only a matter of time before I can’t cover my tracks and will be fired. I have changed jobs every two to three years because of this but I’ve now met a wonderful girl and want to settle down, get married, and have a family.
    So far I haven’t lied to her but I’m sure I will in time if I don’t get help. –Not Lying

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 2)

Looking around the town

By Vic Midyett

[Sequel to "The opal capital of the world"]

We began to explore and found an underground Greek Serbian orthodox church dug out by the Greek community many years ago, probably in the 1950s, and, as we were given to understand, mostly built by Italians. It is still an active church:

Monday, August 4, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

The Rogers, going with the odds
Sorry I left you believing Janie had Parkinson's Disease. We were told a couple of months ago by our neurologist in Costa Rica that she didn't have PD, and we wanted to wait until we saw our doctor in the States and she had an MRI before sharing that happy news.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Review: Winged Migration

In memoriam the birds that didn't made it

By Morris Dean

Our local public library system doesn't have the two Disneynature films The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (2008) or Wings of Life (2011), which I mentioned in my July 6 review of Earth and Oceans. But it does have the 2001 documentary Winged Migration (directed by Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats, and Jacques Perrin, having no affiliation with Disney), which showcases the immense journeys routinely made by birds during their migrations. And it's a beautiful, eerie film.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Visual images

How are they erotic?

By Susan C. Price

I don't personally see any of my drawings as erotic, they are just about the shapes and light and dark and what I can see. Well, when a model is facing their crotch to me, I draw what I can see. We rarely get male models, unfortunately.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In a fish last Friday, one of your writers was accurate in mentioning the problems that started in 1954 with the CIA engineered overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala. Referencing that one act, however, barely scratches the surface of what Americans have done to Central America over the decades. The excerpt linked to here from the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, by Dan Koeppel, references what American commerce and firepower began doing to the region more than 100 years ago.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 2

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

Little Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his Grandmother's house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When Little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away. "Johnny! Please wait until we say our prayer," said his mother.
    "I don't need to," the boy replied.
    "Of course, you do" his mother insisted. "We always say a prayer before eating at our house."
    "That's at our house," Johnny explained. "But this is Grandma's house and she knows how to cook."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I approach my girlfriend about the weird sounds she makes in bed?

By Susan C. Price

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

I’ve been with my girlfriend for five months and love her to bits - apart for one issue that’s causing me grief: When we are in bed making love she makes weird sounds, one like a cat being strangled, and not quietly either!! The other night in the middle of sex I “lost my desire” because she was so loud and off-putting!
    As it’s so early in our relationship, I don’t know how to approach this without her feeling I’m criticizing her in bed. Help! What do I do! –Troubled Man

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 1)

The opal capital of the world

By Vic Midyett

My sister, Anita, was coming from Perth, Western Australia, to visit me and Shirley in South Australia, and we all wanted to see Coober Pedy, which is sometimes referred to as the "opal capital of the world" because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there.

Monday, July 28, 2014