Monday, August 3, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Edited by
Morris Dean

James Knudsen, from the 4th row
Among my many, hidden treasures – some hidden so well that I can’t find them, is a collection of old concert T-shirts from the 1980’s. As a teen-ager I made several trips to Fresno’s Selland Arena to see the headliners of the day; Cheap Trick, Van Halen, and The Scorpions were some of the acts I was lucky enough to see. And if my budget allowed, I would purchase a T-shirt that I would proudly wear to school the next day, and it would declare, “Yeah, I was there!”

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Review: The Crimson Field (TV serial)

Acting commendations

By Morris Dean

I dutifully watched UNC TV's June 21 – July 26 airing of The Crimson Field, BBC One's 2014 6-part drama about the lives of medics and patients at a World War I field hospital in France. More impressive to me than any of its story lines about the well-worked Great War are the commanding performances of three of the show's actors playing nurses. Creating memorable characters are: Oona Chaplin as Kitty Trevelyan, Alice St. Clair as Flora Marshall, and Kerry Fox as Sister Margaret Quayle.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

First Saturday Bimonthly: The yes tendency

Charles Dickens's Uriah Heep
symbolizes the internal yes-man
Confirmation bias

By Morris Dean

If you watch police procedurals on television, the chances are excellent that you've seen several in which the police are portrayed as quickly settling on one suspect and ignoring the rest.
    Confirmation bias is the tendency to seek information that validates your existing beliefs, or to interpret, favor, or recall information in a way that does so. The tendency is stronger for emotional issues and deeply held beliefs. It reenforces confidence in your existing beliefs and can even help you maintain them in the face of contrary evidence.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Fish for Friday

Infinite staircase by artist Olafur Eliasson,
at the KPMG building in Munich, Germany
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Thinking outside the box. Two of your feet – preferably on opposite sides of your body – must remain outside the box at all times.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Thor's Day: Alternative terms for "atheist" and "theist"

From "Can an Atheist Be a Fundamentalist?" by Anthony Grayling

Edited by Morris Dean

[British moral philosopher Anthony Grayling's essay is the 46th selection in Christopher Hitchens's 2007 book, The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever. In the course of answering the question, "Can an atheist be a fundamentalist?" Grayling proposes more appropriate terms for "atheist" and "theist."]

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

What can I do about this copycat?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have a friend who copies every move I make, yet she criticizes me to my face and to others.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Growing up in America

Into America’s interior

By Rolf Dumke

[Sequel to “Arrival in New York Harbor,” March 17]

Through the Susquehanna wilderness. The growling diesel engines in the front of our passenger train could be heard during every second long bend of the majestic river, which I only recently identified as the Susquehanna.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks


By Susan C. Price

After seeing the whole show, I am happy I managed to get selected. Much very good work.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Brady Material (Chapter 6 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor's Note: Opening paragraphs of the review by Daniel L. Kaplan, Assistant Federal Public Defender in the District of Arizona, published in The Federal Lawyer, February 2009:
We all should have a cousin like Jim Rix. Better yet, we should have a justice system that is too reliable to convict an innocent man of murder twice. Failing that, a cousin like Jim Rix can be quite handy.
    Rix didn't think much of it when his mother casually said, to him, “You have a cousin on death row, and he's innocent.” But Rix was curious and wrote to his cousin, Ray Krone. In response Rix received Krone's facially compelling account of having been wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. Krone's case quickly turned into a sort of hobby for Jim Rix – although using the word “hobby” here is a bit like using it to describe Lance Armstrong’s cycling.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

What’s an American car?

By James Knudsen

Many years ago, when the American automobile industry was in trouble, I found myself thinking about what constituted an “American” car and, more importantly, did anyone still want to buy one? I’m still pondering that question.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Fish for Friday

Mutually surprised?
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Albert Einstein: Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thor's Day: On the Church's repositories of learning

Portrait of Thomas Cromwell,
by Hans Holbein the Younger
From Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel

By Morris Dean

After enjoying PBS's Masterpiece Wolf Hall, which was based on the first two novels of Hilary Mantel's trilogy1 about Thomas Cromwell's rise to power in the court of Henry VIII, I started reading the first novel, Wolf Hall, in which I came upon an interesting statement by the fictional Cromwell bearing on the value of the Church's "repositories of learning."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What would you do?

By Morris Dean

You've just filled up your gas tank at a service station. As you tear off your receipt to leave, you hear someone say, "Can you help us?"

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Portrait of a dog, by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Friend of a friend

By Vic Midyett

Shirley has made it known at the church we attend that she paints pet portraits. She suggests that people whose pet's portrait she paints donate $20 to the church.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

The Grand Inquisitor: 
Loosely adapted from The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

By Bob Boldt

[This piece was written in October 2004 near the conclusion of the career of John Ashcroft. I live in Missouri, where our now ex-Attorney General’s strong imperial convictions, corruption, and even stronger religious fanaticism are legend.
    I am a believer in the concept of eternal recurrence. I have said elsewhere that I am certain that if Christ were to return to this sad world ruled by an empire that could teach even the Romans a thing or two about brutality and iron-fisted control of subject peoples, he would certainly be re-crucified.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

The book and its movie

By Morris Dean

In Chapter 10 of what was until recently Harper Lee’s only novel (1960), Atticus Finch tells his 12-year-old son Jem that “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” and the seriousness of this injunction is emphasized by the next sentence:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 2. “Making It Happen,” 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. Chapter 1. “Downstairs at the White House,” appeared last month.]

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

"The Art of Birds, Revealed Through an Altered Reality." [Becky Harlan, National Geographic] Excerpt:
At first glance, these birds wowed me. A few seconds later I started to wonder, Are they real?
    Well … yes. And no.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thor’s Day: The monks’ bell

A prose poem

By Bob Boldt

At the first ringing of the bell, a dozen pair of feet stir and seek the cold monastic floor. Pious eyes blink away the sand of dreams and awaken as tired muscles address the lifting and donning of coarse cloth cowls. The windows of the cells alight as candles press against the morning night.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Too much & too little

By Susan C. Price

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

I like having sex, but don’t want it to go on for hours at a time, which my boyfriend does. I would like us to climax at about the same time, but he likes me to have four orgasms before he has one – and he can only do that by pleasuring himself.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

Looking back (and forward)

By Bettina Sperry

The end of July marks a complete year of my life lived on this heavenly farm. The breathtaking beauty of this land ever captures my heart, a feeling that is renewed daily. It is hard to wake up every day and not appreciate the pastures, streams, and mountains that surround my life. The year has not been without its extreme hard work, and I am just beginning to see the change that my presence here brings forth. This farm is so beautiful it is difficult to not revisit the past so as to envision the lives of those present on this farm long before my arrival. I seem to think equally forward to those who will care for it long after I am gone, as if I am contributing to their dream, as well.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Review: Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, “In the Waiting Room”

Experience of individuation

By Bob Boldt

I find Elizabeth Bishop’s “In the Waiting Room” [text provided below] to be a wondrous, amazing poem for many reasons. First I enjoy narrative poetry—poems that tell a story. I especially enjoy this aspect in nearly all of Bishop’s work that I have read. One of the things I most admire is her ability to express in familiar terms the sometimes intangible experiences that occur. Often her poems express commonplace, banal experiences we all share but expressed with such perception, eloquence, and insight that we understand things in a new, deeply moving way. Other times she may choose as the subject of her poems a thing that is not all that accessible or easily comprehensible, as in “In the Waiting Room.”

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on April 12, 2014]


High pressure system moving east: the road
continues, but the breakers bury it
beneath their backs, shrugging off a load
of splinters and a broken chariot.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

"For astronomer, an insect is as worthy of observation as the cosmos" [Susan Gonzalez, Yale News] Excerpt:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Thor's Day: Natural morality

More thoughts of 
Frans de Waal

By Morris Dean

Yesterday’s post on “reading monkeys” introduced Frans de Waal. We’re pleased today to share a few more quotes from this Dutch primatologist and ethologist, borrowed from Wikipedia & Wikiquotes:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What did Darwin say to read monkeys for?

...a modern continuation
of Darwin’s “M” project
[About  Frans de Waal2]
Edited by Morris Dean

On page 128 of Charles Darwin’s notebook “M” [of “metaphysical” considerations], Darwin wrote in the summer of 1838, when he had already formulated the thesis of common descent but not yet the mechanism of natural selection1:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday Voice: From Mission Hills, San Diego

Testimonial litter

By James Knudsen

The earth's surface is littered with mankind's attempts at immortality – the pyramids of Egypt and Central America, The Great Wall, 2,867,737 TAD on Ms. Pac-Man. Having spent most of June in the Mission Hills area of San Diego, I've discovered another archaeological testament to our constant quest to leave our mark in the universe.

Monday, July 6, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Susan C. Price, in juried art show
i have been working (not hard, just now and then ) on seeing if "fine" art (really, i cannot think of my work as fine...seems a silly term to me in this context...maybe ...interesting, bright...but not, fine) can "work" for me. By "work," i think i mean acclaim, notice, and cash. My brother claims it's just acclaim and notice...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Fish for Friday

Nanosecond photograph
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

You will like this snippet, Morris, from the June 14 NY Times Book Review section, "By the Book," featuring Judd Apatow, and you will wickedly choose to include it as a fish next Friday. Apatow is asked several questions about books, including this question: "Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn't?"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thor's Day: Gone to meet Jesus

In Memoriam Vernon DeWayne Voss

By Morris Dean

Two weeks ago today – that is, on Thor’s Day – my cousin Vernon DeWayne Voss passed away, in Tucson, Arizona. It was June 18, the week after he and his doctor decided to discontinue chemotherapy, and the day after he entered hospice. Some of you will remember him from June 18 last year’s Wednesday Voice interview (“Vernon DeWayne Voss on killing cancer naturally”), or from his own July 22 Tuesday Voice column, “In editorial cartoons: Drawing right conclusions,” featuring a few of his political and religious cartoons.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Which man, or neither?

By Susan C. Price

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

I am in a five-year relationship with someone – we are best friends, childhood sweethearts and ridiculously well-matched. It has honestly been such a perfect relationship.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 10

Morro Rock

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The artist's daughter, Karen Abbey, recently brought to my attention that her oldest son, Mark Denham, has his grandmother's painting of Morro Rock, near where Karen and her husband Cliff lived for many years, in and around Morro Bay, California. The rock is a 581-foot volcanic plug located just offshore from Morro Bay, at the entrance to Morro Bay Harbor.

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