Monday, June 29, 2015

Fifth Monday Fiction: My misadventures with Ron Rudnick

A true story

By Bob Boldt

[The names have not been changed to protect the living or the dead.]

Some had started to believe that the fifth floor of our building was jinxed. Being an urban pioneer of sorts, I was one of the first to settle the unoccupied warehouse at 110 W. Kinzie in Chicago. This was in the late seventies, a decade before gentrification, in which the visionaries, artists, and assorted freaks who inhabited such seemingly unlikely urban spaces were inevitably turned out by landlords eager to “develop” the properties and raise the rent on the very occupants who had made the neighborhood hip and trendy by their presence.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Sugar and Hot Lips (Chapter 5 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: As the date of publication approached, billboards around Phoenix, Arizona started announcing the arrival of the book that would blow the cover off the Ray Krone case.]

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

In the end, which do I dislike more?

By James Knudsen

If I asked you to guess which of the following I dislike more, working in customer service or getting a colonoscopy, what would your answer be? We’ll get to my answer in the end – I mean, eventually.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

There's something Leonard Pitts, Jr. has never understood about the argument over global warming. "Pope Francis urges consensus on climate change." Excerpt:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thor's Day: Why not just leave it at "you believe or you don't"?

"The tradition of the West is embodied in the 
Great Conversation that began in the dawn 
of history and that continues to the present day."
Robert Maynard Hutchins
Beliefs matter, and detrimental beliefs need to be challenged

By Morris Dean

A kind, diplomatically worded comment on last week's Thor's Day column, "Why God just has to exist: There 'sproof!" gave me pause to consider. The comment was from my niece, Dawn Burke, who lives in Springdale, Arkansas. My wife and I visited Dawn and her family in January, less than four months before her mother my sister Flo passed away in nearby Bentonville. Dawn commented:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What does “Underthebelly” mean by his moniker?

Not what I thought

Edited by Morris Dean

One of our highly valued contributors and commentators sometimes comments as “Underthebelly.” Recently, in a public comment, I asked him whether we might do an interview on what that moniker suggests by way of its “connotations, allusions, [and] implications?” – and what he actually means by it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Voice: 50 years ago

An adventurous new life started

By William Silveira

Fifty years ago last Friday, Marylin and I were married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Visalia, California. We were married at 1:00 in the afternoon on a hot day (about 102° F.), much like today. In terms of Catholic practice, the wedding broke new ground. It was in the afternoon; previously, all weddings were scheduled in the morning. And we were permitted to have a lector to explain the Latin parts of the mass to the guests in attendance. The men in the wedding party wore white dinner jackets and the women were in formal attire.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Review: The Imitation Game

Barely an imitation

By Chuck Smythe

I finished watching The Imitation Game (2014, directed by Morten Tyldum) with mixed feelings. [The film is a biographical drama about mathematician Alan Turing and the World War II cracking of the Nazis’ Enigma code.]

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 1. “Downstairs at the White House,” from The Unmaking of the President: A Bicentennial Entertainment (a novel)

By W.M. Dean

[The Unmaking of the President is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Part I is titled, "The Unmaking of the Chief Aide," which begins with the quotation, “Fake it till you make it.”]

Friday, June 19, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Trump Jumps In. [Kathleen Hennessey, LA Times] The GOP presidential field has a CEO, a doctor, three senators and a senator-doctor. Now it has a reality TV star. Donald Trump says he's all in. He trashed just about everyone in a zinger-filled speech. Democrats are gleeful. Republicans aren't. With his billions and famous name, Trump could make the polling cut to reach the debate stage – and suck a lot of air out of the room. Excerpt:
Democrats leapt at the chance to use Trump as an excuse to tweak the other GOP candidates. His entry "adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward to hearing more about his ideas for the nation," the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thor's Day: Why God just has to exist

There 'sproof!

By Morris Dean

God just has to exist. Look at all the people who pray to Him, or say "God damnit" when they bang their thumb, or "Oh, God" when they're coming. There has to be God to hear and answer those prayers, to damn whatever He's called on to damn, to resonate with the pulse of the latest transcendent orgasm.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Should I get myself checked for STDs?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have been with my partner for eight years and we are due to be married within the next 12 months. The problem I have is that we got together young – I was 17 – and I’d had sexual partners before, but never got checked for STDs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Recent paintings by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Detail of painting at bottom
In the spirit

By Vic Midyett

The two of my wife's nature paintings are from photographs I took in the last couple of weeks of May. And the two paintings of a cat were commissioned by a lady who wanted one for herself and one for her son. Shirley is glad for me to share them, but painting is an incredibly private affair for Shirley.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on March 8, 2014]


That smile’s not just for anyone. You know
your falling houses, gingham dresses, To-
to too, with flowerbed discernments keen
enough to tell the good witch from the green.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by 
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The story ["So residieren Merkel und Obama"] may be in German, but the pictures of the Alpine area where the G7 are meeting in Bavaria's Schloss Elmau are in a language you can enjoy.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Thor’s Day: End time acoming

Alex Grey's "Gaia" (1989, oil on linen, 96"x144")
[See statement from Mr. Grey at bottom.]
The Destruction of Ilê Aiyê—the World Tree

By Bob Boldt

Since its sprout days,
its twig days,
it has rooted itself here,
on the edge of the abyss,
above the wide river,
shining like a tiny silver vein
in the deep chasm far below.
Miles across, its gnarled trunk is sinewed
and strong as the neck of a crone.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How many times has your heart beaten?

By Morris Dean

Over the past couple of months, I have noticed a significant increase in the odd chest "flutterings" that I reported in last September's "Characters" column. At that time, a two-week monitoring showed that I occasionally had a "premature ventricular contraction" (PVC), which prompted a skipped beat, and there were a few runs of rapid heart beats.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

Detail from bottom photo

Bettina Sperry

Several months ago I purchased five Pekin ducks and two mallards. I raised them in the kitchen for a short few weeks and then took them outside to finish their rearing. They were handled daily as they matured. As the Pekins turned from yellow to white, and the mallards gained their colors, they graced the creek in the pasture next to the house. Over time, as they grew, they wandered up and down the creek, swimming in the larger holes where they could.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Second Monday Music: Bulgaria intensive

AISU students travel abroad for music and other arts

Edited by Morris Dean

[Editor’s Note: In the March 9 edition of this column, Christa Saeger introduced us to two-week intensive programs for students at the American International School of Utah. The school’s latest performing-arts intensive involved a trip to Bulgaria. With permission, we’ve taken some excerpts from the blog “AISUBULGARIAINTENSIVE,” where participants recorded their impressions. Bloggers are identified by their initials.]

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Review: Doubt

In persona sororitas

By Bob Boldt

[Submitted to Bishop Emil Frank on November 13, in the year of our Lord 2013 by His obedient servant Sister James, Principal of The Sisters of Charity School of New York (Retired)]

Many years ago, an incident occurred that has weighed upon me ever since. I feel that I must reveal to you the personal conclusions I have arrived at, now that I am about to meet The Blessed Bridegroom.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

This summer, follow Osprey and Atlantic Puffin families right on your screen. Streaming from Maine, Audubon's live cameras are your window into the world of birds. You’ll see eggs hatch, chicks fledge, and surprise events along the way.
    Register for bird alerts, and you'll get updates when anything exciting happens in the nest.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Thor's Day: The need for Christian apologies

Jonathan 3:16

By Morris Dean

In a comment on May 21's column ("What's nihilistic about nihilism?"), I used the English word "apology" for the Latin "apologia" – a formal defense of one’s opinion – meaning it as a joke. It appears that my muse may have had something else in mind that I wasn't picking up on at the time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About ladies and aging and looks

By Susan C. Price

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

I’m a man of 66 and my girlfriend is 67 and looks a lot younger than she is. She is so beautiful, and I’m madly in love with her. We first met 38 years ago, but lost touch, then she tracked me down on Facebook a few years ago and we have been seeing each other for the past six months.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Ghostly sunset on the Australind estuary

Detail from photo at bottom
It's the rain

By Vic Midyett

So many of my sunset photos on the estuary have looked more or the less the same, but the view when it was raining about ten days ago gave me a chance to change all that.

Monday, June 1, 2015

First Monday with Characters: Tribute to Sgt. Pepper

Released 48 years ago today…

[Editor’s Note: In a departure from our usual “First Monday” column, today some of our characters express their personal tribute to the Beatles album that Time magazine declared “a historic departure in the progress of music’.” –Wikipedia]

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fifth Saturday Fiction

Chapter 5, Brenda and the File, 
from the novel 
Frank O’Hara – The Last PI

By D. Michael Pain

[In Chapter 3, published here on April 18, Frank O’Hara received a telephone call from a woman named Kim Dawson. The woman murdered in Chapter 1 was her friend Brenda, and Kim “knew some things” and was afraid on account of some files she had that Brenda had taken from work. Frank agreed to meet with Kim to look at the files.]

He straightened his red-and-blue striped tie and walked into the coffee shop. He saw her in her red sweater immediately and walked confidently to her booth. Making sure his shoulders were erect, he smiled and said, “Kim?”

Friday, May 29, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

"Jon Stewart, Iraq War Critic, Runs a Program That Helps Veterans Enter TV." [Dave Philipps, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Thor's Day: Reflections on Galileo's middle finger

Authority versus independent thinking

By Morris Dean

My wife often tells me about the books she is reading. Which means that she's telling me about a new book roughly every week. But she most recently spoke more often and more excitedly than usual about Alice Dreger's book, Galileo's Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science, and she devoured it in fewer days than usual, giving me too plenty of time to read it before the library wants it back.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Have you had a visitation of frogs?

Up against the garage door
In joy and sorrow

By Morris Dean

All of a sudden, about three weeks ago, we started to see a huge number (dozens? hundreds?) of tiny, dark frogs in our yard, right around the house, both front and back. When I say tiny, I mean on the order of half an inch long, nose to tail in squatting position.
    There's a drainage pound out back of our house, but frogs have commonly taken up residence in our yard, even in the gutters, although I can't tell you how they got up there.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 9

Hand tools

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Correction: The artist's granddaughter has informed us that her father doesn't think Mary did the shovel painting. (May 27)]

[Editor's Note: The artist's granddaughter Suzanne Dawn Condley recently brought to my attention that her father, my nephew Jeffrey Condley, Mary's second of two sons, has a number of his mother's paintings, several of which were done on hand tools – the first such paintings of hers that I was aware of.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Portraits of two youths abuilding

By Susan C. Price

The two paintings I'm speaking through today are from the Mirror, Mirror Project in Los Angeles, where artists meet and make portraits of young persons who are participating in a program called YouthBuild, in which they finish high school and learn the construction trade.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

A Shady Person (Chapter 4 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: Blurb from the dust jacket: “Jim Rix has written an astonishing memoir about his cousin Ray Krone’s wrongful conviction for a 1991 Arizona murder. Rix meticulously details every aspect of police corruption, prosecutorial misconduct, defense incompetence, expert witness tampering and jury shenanigans that led to Ray’s decade-long nightmare. But Rix doesn’t stop there. He dissects each problem, then with careful research explains how it is not an isolated incident but part of a larger pattern of problems in the criminal justice system. Rix’s wry humor and occasional sarcasm reveal the depths of his despair at realizing that the justice system, which he once trusted, is so deeply flawed. Scariest about this true story is that if Ray Krone, an honest, law-abiding person, could end up on Death Row, it could happen to anyone.”
        –Rachel King, author of
Don’t Kill in Our Names and
Capital Consequences, teaches legal writing
        at Howard University School of Law

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

Shakespeare says

By James Knudsen

Another semester has ended. The lightest of teaching loads, one class, one night a week. Drama 1, an overview of theatre, was all the public system of higher education could find for me this spring. I filled in at the local community college I attended decades earlier, but had never been employed at. The syllabus I taught from was the same one used department wide and different from what I normally teach at my usual gig at Fresno City College. And I’ll confess that I prefer to spend a bit more time on Shakespeare than we did in my recently ended section at the College of the Sequoias, Tulare Campus.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Have you ever wondered...what dogs do when they drink water?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thor's Day: What's nihilistic about nihilism?

The meanings of our lives

By Morris Dean

When my views were labeled "nihilistic" by a Christian last year, I couldn't think at the time how to respond. I'd never thought much about "nihilism," and I didn't really know what the label meant, or was supposed to imply.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Should I break up with my fiancé to be with the man I have butterflies for?

By Susan C. Price

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

I fell in love with someone but when he asked for my hand in marriage, my parents refused because he’s not educated like I am. He’s from a family my parents don’t get along with. I wanted to please them so I broke up with him, thinking I’d done the right thing.
    Then on a work trip, I met someone else and he seemed the sweetest guy on earth. He surprised me by coming to my home town and proposing. My parents liked him, and the way he asked me was so romantic it was hard to say no.
    Now, though, I can’t help thinking of the first guy. I talked to him on the phone and got butterflies when I heard his voice. I’ve never felt like this for my fiancé. Should I break up with him?
    One more thing. I come from a culture that forbids sex before marriage, and I’ve been intimate with my fiancé, which makes my decision even harder. –What Now?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Voice: In 4" × 4"

Sunrise detail
By Shirley Deane/Midyett

[Husband Vic Midyett's Note: Jake did both of these 4" × 4" paintings in about 10 minutes each, on May 5. You should recognize them from recent photos on the estuary: April 21; May 4.]

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Review: Before I Go to Sleep

You need to lose it before you watch this movie*

By Morris Dean

During lunch yesterday, I said to my wife, "I think I'll review that movie we watched last night."
    "What movie was that? I can't remember it."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Excerpt from
The Suicide Diary,
a novel

By Michael Hanson

[Editor’s Note: The narrator is a 27-year-old novelist whose girlfriend, Karla, has recently left him. He has decided he is going to commit suicide but will keep a diary of all that transpires prior to the precipitous act, identifying it as his new novel and leaving it for his editor to find.]

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Legendary dance choreographer Bill T. Jones and TED Fellows Joshua Roman and Somi didn't know exactly what was going to happen when they took the stage at TED2015. They just knew they wanted to offer the audience an opportunity to witness creative collaboration in action. The result: An improvised piece they call "The Red Circle and the Blue Curtain," so extraordinary it had to be shared [6:26]:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thor's Day: Glimpses of Jesus in Salt Lake City

The Beehive House, 67 E South Temple St
Why the tour was free

By Morris Dean

My wife and I returned to Salt Lake City on April 30, hoping this time to have no problems with that city's street nomenclature. I had its coordinate system securely installed in my head this time, the x-axis being South Temple and the y-axis Main, and my mind was clear this time that South Temple (and all streets named South or North) run east-west, not north-south, which I had been confused about last October and was forever spinning my head over ["How long does it take to become fluent in Salt Lake City's street nomenclature?," October 29, 2014].

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How do we all be good neighbors?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have a question regarding etiquette. I put a basketball goal up for my son in front of my house. Now my neighbor (who has lived here less than a month) has a son who is ALWAYS using it (when my children are not). He has never asked, nor his parents. Today, they are having a get together with about 10 people, and are outside in front of my house and their own. I had to wait for them to get from in front of my driveway to get in and they didn’t even bother speaking! How would you handle this? Am I being “unneighborly”? –Neighbor

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm


Bettina Sperry

It sets in when foaling and calving season is over. It is arguably one of the most restful and peaceful times of the year for me. Spending time watching the new babies grow consumes much of my attention.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Second Monday Music: Who is Storm Large?

Photo by John Rudoff (2014-02-14)
She's big

By Morris Dean

I had never heard of Storm Large until a friend in Oregon wrote me that she and her husband were going to a Storm Large concert for their wedding anniversary last week. It was performed with the Oregon Symphony in Portland on Friday, May 1, and was, my friend reported, heavily attended by people of all ages:

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Review: The Drop

They never saw him coming

By Morris Dean

The Drop (2014, directed by Michaël R. Roska) takes place in Brooklyn, and the title refers to the practice of organized criminals of depositing illegal takings in a designated bar for later pickup. The designated bar in this case is "Cousin Marv's," which used to actually belong to Marv (played by James Gandolfini in his last feature film). It belonged to him, that is, until some Chechen mobsters muscled him out. He just works there now, and Bob (played by Tom Hardy) is a bartender.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on February 8, 2014]


An unexpected gust puffs flames into
the candles, blowing suns across the glow
of water. Flashes let the waves slip through
like fabric over muscles in the flow.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

For the first time, the USDA has asked Americans to think about the environmental impact of the food we eat. Unsurprisingly, the cattle industry doesn't like it one bit.
    A diet heavy in red meat is unsustainable – and raising cows produces five times more greenhouse gasses than other animals raised for meat....