Monday, June 26, 2017

Three Years Ago Today

Moral quandary: Omnivorous

By Moristotle

[Originally published on June 26, 2014, not one word different.]

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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 27 & 28

Jac Truborn
& The Surf Is Up

By Ed Rogers

Chapter 27. Jac Truborn

Jac Truborn had been the first person Rubin thought about calling for help. If anyone could help Rubin it would be Jac. Jac was one of the wealthiest men in the world, and he thought Thad Johnson was the greatest thing to happen in America since white bread. He was a good friend of Rubin and his family, and Rubin was one of the true friends Jac had in the world.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: The Liberal Gun Club takes on the NRA

Man bites dog

By James Knudsen

The standard for selecting which stories to follow in news reporting goes something like this: “Dog bites man,” not a story. “Man bites dog,” a story. Recently I was involved in an event that falls under the latter.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 26

Not Everybody Is a VIP

By Ed Rogers

The cab pulled up to the Hilton and Rubin got out. The sidewalk was still wet from the shower that had passed over New York during the morning rush hour. The doorman called the bellman to get Rubin’s bags, and then opened the door for him and signaled the concierge. “You may go right up to the suite, Mr. Johnson, there will be no need to check in at the desk.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Three Years Ago Today

A Christian-atheist conversation, Part 1: About animal rights

By Morris Dean 
& Kyle Garza

[Originally published on June 22, 2014, not one word different.]

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, June 21, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 25

The Brother

By Ed Rogers

Rubin Johnson was two years older than Thad and had been the workhorse of the family. Rubin was named after a very close friend of their father’s, Rubin Goldberg, who became a mentor to his namesake. From the elder Goldberg Rubin had received, along with the name, the wisdom, and the need to work hard at whatever project he took on. Unlike Thad, who had had a very easy time in school, Rubin pushed himself to be the best in every class he took.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Six Years Ago Today

A matter of conscience

By Moristotle

[Originally published on June 20, 2011, not one word different.]

My opposition to eating animals probably doesn’t rest “on moral grounds“ but might be more appropriately termed “a matter of conscience.” Opposition on moral grounds seems to imply that I would condemn as immoral anyone who doesn’t oppose eating animals, and I don’t do that.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 24

At the White House

By Ed Rogers

The President of Russia, Victor Putin, was waiting to be shown into the Oval Office to meet with the President of the United States. It was a long flight from Russia and Putin was a little tired, but the message he had for the new President was too important to wait. Time was short and events had a way of running over a person who moved too slowly.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 23

SEAL Team 5

By Ed Rogers

SEAL Team 5 boarded the plane that would fly them to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. There they would undertake special training for a top-secret mission. The only thing the men knew for sure was it would more than likely be somewhere in the Middle East.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Five Years Ago Today

The hawk was about 250 feet away
[Click to enlarge]
Hawk calls

By Moristotle

[Originally published on June 16, 2012, not one word different.]

I had some excitement yesterday clicking the shutter continually as fast as my Coolpix would allow (approximately every two seconds). At any moment I knew the hawk (it might have been a Cooper’s Hawk, or Chicken Hawk) might spot prey and swoop off the limb...and the camera might record it!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 21 & 22

A New Port
& Sister, Sister?

By Ed Rogers

Chapter 21. A New Port

The sun was coming up and its warm rays bathed Tom’s body. Much renewed, he watched the new morning breaking through the big oak tree in the back yard.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Five Years Ago Today

Getting to know the devil

By Moristotle

[Originally published on June 14, 2012, not one word different.]

I completed one of those political questionnaires yesterday that, besides seeking numbers to rank election issues, seeks to gauge how likely it is that you might donate money to the party. To a direct question whether I’ll donate, I checked the “no” box and found myself explaining, “I don’t have money to waste on stupid political money wars.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 19 & 20

Just Another Day
& A New Plan

By Ed Rogers

Chapter 19. Just Another Day

It was eleven-thirty on a cold, rainy Tuesday morning. Spring was around the corner, but today it was just nasty. Ted was waiting in his car by the curb. He hadn’t told Tom he was picking him up, so he had to keep an eye out for him. He was in the hospital’s pick-up and drop-off zone, so all Ted could do was wait for him to come out.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ten Years Later

Divine aporia

By Moristotle

[Originally published on June 12, 2007, not one word different.]

I have long regretted that I didn’t study much classical rhetoric in college. My knowledge of technical terms in poetics and prosody has barely kept me afloat as I’ve tried to tread water reading literary essays and criticism. So my interest was piqued last October when a young Hollywood screenwriter [JD Payne] suggested I look at M. H. Abrams’s Glossary of Literary Terms. And I’ve since discovered Chapel Hill’s own English Professor William Harmon’s Handbook to Literature. Not bedside reading for everyone, but I delight in both books.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapters 17 & 18

Oh! The Pain
& The Bug-Out

By Ed Rogers

Chapter 17. Oh! The Pain

Tom got some meat and bread and sat down to watch TV. Halfway through his sandwich, his eyes became heavy and he lay out on the couch with his head on the arm. He was awakened from his nap by a loud voice.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

For fans of artist Susan C. Price

Two paintings in gallery show this summer

By Moristotle

Our talented friend & former contributing editor, artist Susan C. Price, is now a member of the First Independent Gallery (FIG), at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California. She will have two paintings in a group show there this summer, opening two weeks from today (on June 24):

Poetry & Portraits: Mystic

By Eric Meub


It’s simpler than you think. A note will cup
the monastery bell, and birds fly up
as if the vault they soared before was but
a painted blue above a virgin, shut

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 16

The Truth Is Known

By Ed Rogers

Jake took Tom into a room off the main hall. It was very Vietnamese in its decor – bamboo was everywhere. Two fans came down from the tall ceiling. Jake said something in Vietnamese into the speaker on the desk and motioned Tom to sit down in one of the chairs placed around a low table. Tom admired the table’s beautiful hand-carving, from what appeared to be one piece of wood – murals of Vietnamese farm life inlaid with jade and ivory.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Adventures from Bulgaria: Questions without answers

Adventures from Bulgaria: Questions without answers

By Valeria Idakieva

In the beginning of April, after I had lost a friend in February, and my friend Dimitrinka, who had joined my adventures in the Rila Mountain (“In the Rila Mountains with a 70+”), suffered a stroke in March and was struggling for her life in hospital, I felt I was stifling in the city.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 15

The City of Drugs

By Ed Rogers

Tom woke to the sound of trucks and people working. Once more, it was taking him time to find his bearings. He hoped that after a while the shock of waking up in a strange bed would go away.
    He sat up and was amazed at how his midsection no longer pained him. The way he had been beaten up lately, he didn’t know how he was able to move.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Sophie & Amelia

Photo of scene depicted in painting
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

Shirley awoke one morning recently with a strong urge to do a painting of our neighbors’ daughters, using a photo their mother had taken of a favorite place of theirs [photo on right]. Sophie is 3 and Amelia is 5. Without mentioning her project to the girls or their mother, Shirley worked on the 5" x 7" painting for two days before surprising them by offering it as a gift.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 14

Mary Cahill

By Ed Rogers

When Mary arrived at Hans and Gert Duman’s house in Germany, they were surprised but happy to see her. In fact, Gert was beside herself with joy at seeing Mary again. Mary had met the Dumans at the start of her European trip. The three of them were part of a tour group that was traveling to five countries in thirty days. Before the tour was over, Mary had left the group and headed to Finland, leaving a very sad Gert.

Trump is beset upon

And Chelsea Clinton objects

By Tom Harley

Chelsea Clinton tweeted about the woman holding aloft the bloody severed mock head of the President. “This is vile and wrong. It is never funny to joke about killing a President,” she said. Her star rose several notches in my eyes. After all, if anyone should be excused for wanting Trump’s head on a platter, it is she, daughter of the woman who went down in a contest deemed crooked.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sketches from Salt Lake: From the day you were born

Reading to Vera

By Geoffrey Dean

Even before our daughter, Vera, was born, my wife and I starting frequenting the children’s section of the main branch of the wonderful Salt Lake City Library and scouring the Internet to reconnect with some of the books that we remembered from our own early days.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 13


By Ed Rogers

Stepen Kabak and his people were at last finished with Warring and Mrs. Cahill. What a mess that turned out to be. Stepen could not understand why “The big fuss.” The American President was dead. They had a new President. The world did not end. None of it was worth Karl’s life. The Americans made far too much out of the death of one of their leaders. In Russia, most of the time, it was a good thing, and they celebrated.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Seeking natural connections in New York City

By André Duvall

In April, I visited New York City for the first time. I traveled with an older friend, a former mentor/professor who lived in Manhattan as a young man and had returned to the city for visits many times over the years. In the five days I had available, I chose to tour museums and skyscrapers, experience cuisines of various ethnicities, observe the architecture of different neighborhoods, attend a concert, seek out nature/green spaces, and spend part of a day with a good friend of mine from Memphis who is currently living in Brooklyn.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 12

The Separation

By Ed Rogers

Unable to sleep, Tom woke Mary at five the next morning, and by the time Stepen came banging on their door at six, they were dressed and ready to go. Mary had been crying off and on for the whole hour, and as they walked down the hall, she held onto Tom’s waist with both apprehension and determination. Saying goodbye to Mary was one of the hardest things Tom could think of doing. In his heart, he knew Stepen was right; they would be after him, not Mary. That still didn’t make it any easier.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Limestone rock wall

Limestone rock wall (Detail #1)
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

This abstract-looking painting is actually a realistic interpretation of a limestone rock wall at the sight of the oldest jail in Western Australia, in Fremantle, where we live. It closed only as recently as 1992. It was built by Australia’s first convicts to house them and others afterwards, for whom its condition was notoriously disgusting.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 11

Stepen Kabak

By Ed Rogers

The black sedan pulled into the alley behind the hotel where Mary and Tom had stayed the night before. Two men got out of the front, and one opened a rear door. The man who got out of the back seat was shorter than the other two men, but there was an air about him that let you know he wasn’t someone to be disregarded. Just looking into his cold, unemotional eyes had made many a man wet himself.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Correspondence: Fanfare without Trumpets

By Moristotle

Oh my! This is good stuff! “We Aren’t Built to Live in the Moment” [Martin E. P. Seligman & John Tierney, NY Times, May 19]. The “mental health field” has been broken for so long. If this methodology is perceived well and expanded, it just might be what changes “the field” to actually being effective. Excerpt:

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 10

Bad Guys Everywhere

By Ed Rogers

Tom stepped out into the cold morning air to find that the wind was no longer blowing and the snow had stopped, but there was still a chill coming out of the north. That time of the year, that close to the North Pole, the sun never really came up. It just went from being very dark to being a little light.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: Trump at the dinner table

Business as usual

By James Knudsen

We are currently in the midst of the latest drama to come out of the Trump White House. It is alleged that President Trump asked then-FBI Chief James Comey to “let go” of the Russia investigation. I offer the following explanation of the thinking – er, the mindset – behind that statement. I’m not making an apology and I’m not excusing a President seeking to make an uncomfortable situation go away. My only hope is to illuminate.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 9

First Love

By Ed Rogers

They moved quietly down the dark, cold hall. They stepped ever so lightly. The thought of confronting some Russian they might awaken wasn’t very appetizing. Expecting the toilet from hell, Tom and Mary held their breath as they stepped into the bathroom and found the light. To their surprise, it was very clean and with a nice big bathtub and small hot-water heater on the wall above the faucets.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ten Years Ago Today

By Lucas van Valckenborch –
Grandes énigmes de l'humanité -
éditions Larousse, Public Domain
Our own Tower of….

By Moristotle

[Originally published on May 25, 2007, not one word different.]

The original world envisioned in Genesis Chapter 11 “had one language and one speech” [Verse 1] and “the people [were] one” [Verse 6]. The Tower of Babel, far from being a tower of babble, was built as a monument to that unity – as a bulwark, somehow, to protect it:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 8

A Cold Day in Russia

By Ed Rogers

Mary and Tom were taken through two doors and seated in chairs and their hoods were removed. From behind a table, two bright lights shone on their faces. All they could see of the man across from them were his feet under the table.
    “Welcome to Russia, Mrs. Cahill, Mr. Warring. Just what do you think I can help you with, my American friends?”

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Oval landscape

Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

This oval landscape captures a scene adjacent to a travel park we stayed in about three years ago while driving through South Australia, near the Murray River. It is about 15" across.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The astonishing appeal of candidate Trump

Personal factors reflected in many mirrors

By Moristotle

It appears certain now that Donald Trump wouldn’t have been elected President without help from Vladimir Putin of Russia and James B. Comey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But even without winning in the Electoral College, Trump would still have gotten many millions of votes. How was that possible?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 7

The Plane Ride

By Ed Rogers

Tom took back everything he said about Finland being no colder than New York. The sun wasn’t up yet. It was that time of morning when the light of day and the dark of night seemed to be fighting each other. The wind came out of the north and it felt, as they walked to the hangar, like a thousand daggers hitting them.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sketches from Salt Lake: Diamond of light

Sunrise poem

By Geoffrey Dean

Diamond of light
Streaming through the attic,
Dancing with the dust.

Friday, May 19, 2017

West Coast Observer: Honoré de Balzac’s Unknown Masterpiece

The President and our Congressman

By William Silveira

Before his self-recusal from the Russian/Trump Campaign investigation, our California (22nd) District’s Congressman, Devin Nunes, head of the House Intelligence Committee, made a surreptitious trip to the White House (no doubt at the bidding of the President) to collect information on what he and the President seemed to think was the burning issue before the Committee – information leaks. He did this without informing members of his own Committee. When what was obvious all along became blindingly obvious (that Nunes could not impartially lead an investigation into the issue of Russian [read Putin] meddling in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of the Trump Campaign Committee), Nunes recused himself from the investigation.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 6

How Cold Is Too Cold?

By Ed Rogers

Tom caught a plane out of Atlanta into Seattle. From Seattle, he flew over the North Pole to Helsinki, Finland. It was the long way to Finland, but the only other flights going out of Atlanta to Finland stopped in New York. He wasn’t sure how they had found him in the little town of Milton. He had no doubt the New York airports would be covered – his friends in the SUV would be all over New York looking for him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Sunflower

“Sunflower” (detail)
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

A friend gave us some sunflower seeds that she had had for years. No one thought they would grow, but out of the entire packet, one did. Shirley painted “Sunflower” just for this friend:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Correspondence: America has a tremendous fantastic president

By Moristotle

Who’s mutinying? I don’t see any impeachment quorum forming. “Trump’s Madness Invites Mutiny” [Charles M. Blow, NY Times, May 15]. Excerpt:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 5

In Drag

By Ed Rogers

Tom was trying to fight his way out of a fog. For some reason, his eyes wouldn’t open. Somewhere overhead he heard sirens, but he couldn’t seem to get the direction right. Suddenly, his eyes popped open as though he were waking from a bad dream. Pain shot through his head like a bolt of lightning. He could still hear the sirens – they were loud and close by. They seemed to be coming from somewhere up above him. He tried to move, but his feet weren’t working right. His head cleared enough for him to realize that half of his body was in the water, and he was lying on a muddy bank. Tom used the grass growing along the creek bank for a handhold. He slowly pulled himself, hand over hand, up the muddy slope, until he had made his way out of the creek and onto dry land once more.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Poetry & Portraits: Ode to a Department Store

By Eric Meub


Discriminate, my child! Leave cheaper wares
to bargain-basement huntresses downstairs;
let Target’s multitudes stampede or graze;
let online shoppers stalk in negligees.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 4

The Brotherhood

By Ed Rogers

The Professor lived outside of a small town in Virginia called Milford. It was still early, and there was freeway most of the way, only two hundred miles. He should be able to make the drive in a little more than three hours; he would be there long before dark. He hoped he could put the story to bed before nightfall, and take a few days off before heading to Finland.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Floating on top

By Vic Midyett

Have you noticed that some folks go through life with little depth in their thinking? I have, at times, envied them. Their minds seem so much simpler than my more busy one, and seemingly less complicated. They appear to float on top of life.
    I have, however, made another observation about them. They do not seem to feel deeply about anything much. That is not to say they don’t feel emotional pain, because they do. Their comprehension of that pain, of its cause or roots, appears to be minimal. Their need to comprehend these things, even, appears to be minimal. But still, I tend to envy them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Sailing into Sunset

“Sailing into Sunset” [detail,
with the artist’s signature three birds
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

“Sailing into Sunset” is the largest painting Shirley has ever done, about 2' x 6'. The scene is near the point where the Swan River is joined by the Canning River in Perth, Western Australia (see the image below):

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 3

A Good Story and a Pretty Girl

By Ed Rogers

Trying to decide if he wanted to drive all the way back to Maryland and his house, Tom had made it as far as the “Lucky 7,” a local bar whose only costumers were the workers from the New Daily. The brick on the wall outside said the bar had been there since 1926. From the looks of the inside Tom was sure the brick was real.