Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal: Call the midwife

By James Knudsen

People of a certain age grew up learning that cats are finicky eaters. Morris the cat, the mascot of the 9 Lives cat food brand, presented the image of cats as creatures who play with yarn and children because stupid humans expect it. When summoned for dinner, Morris would be initially bored by the whole idea, but upon hearing that it was scrumptious 9 Lives Chicken Parts, well that’s another matter entirely.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Correspondence: In real life

Edited by Moristotle

Americans seriously disturbed by the theoretical possibility of an unimaginable Trump presidency have an alternative to sharing anti-Trump items on Facebook – they can share pro-Hillary items!: “Hillary Clinton Wants to Be Your Facebook Friend” [Emma Roller, NY Times, August 23]. Excerpt:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Boldt Words & Images: Welcome to

By Bob Boldt

Edited by Moristotle

[Editor’s Note: Bob Boldt recently announced on Facebook that he had
just completed what is, so far, the most extensive visual record of my artistic output of the past half-century. The greater tolerance provides for creative artistic expression (compared to repressive Facebook) has allowed me to publish some previously unseen work. I hope all my Facebook friends take time to view at least part of this collection. I hope you will comment on some of the items contained.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Interview: D. Michael Pain, novelist

And private investigator aka Mike Pain

Interviewed by Moristotle

I first learned of Mike Pain about 15 years ago when I was editing Jim Rix’s book Jingle Jangle, about his cousin Ray Krone, who was convicted and sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit. Jim had hired private investigator Mike Pain to look into what had really happened in Phoenix, Arizona the night of December 28, 1991, when Kim Ancona had been raped and brutally murdered.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Outside the Box: From Sudoku to recreational mathematics

By Moristotle

Hardly anything calms me more than sitting down alone in a quiet place to solve a fresh Sudoku puzzle. At least, it calms me when I don’t screw up the puzzle. Let me recast the opening statement: Hardly anything calms me more than sitting down alone in a quiet place and flawlessly solving a Sudoku puzzle.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Susan’s Stuff: serious painter

“serious painter....” [detail]
the moral equivalent of an elegant math proof?

By Susan C. Price

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Growing Up in America: American Movies in the 1950s (Part 1)

America in 3‑D, shaken and stirred

By Rolf Dumke

It Came from Outer Space (1953). This was the first American film I saw with my friend Gene in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square. We went because of Gene’s enthusiasm for the new 3-D film technology and my interest in Jules Verne’s novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I had just read, after my local librarian’s nudge to read Verne’s adventure stories rather than the Black Stallion girl’s books.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fiction: Parts II & III of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

The author in 1974, one of his many poses
By W.M. Dean

[Note: I am chagrined to have to report that, upon dipping into the remaining manuscript of this 1974 novel set in the 1970s of Watergate, I discovered only synopses for Part II & Part III – no further completed chapters. It appears that the writer I was 42 years ago only thought he had finished writing the novel – unless he did finish it but subsequently lost the remaining chapters in his move to North Carolina, or in his move from Chapel Hill to the temporary apartment in Durham before his possibly final relocation to Mebane. In any case, all I have at present to share as this final installment of The Unmaking of the President: A Bicentennial Entertainment is the synopses of Parts II & III. I somehow don’t think these chapters are ever going to be written.
    Links to all of the novel’s extant chapters are provided at the bottom.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Correspondence: With a religious cast

Edited by Moristotle

Roger Cohen at his best! Great picture and comments: “Olympians in Hijab and Bikini” [NY Times, August 11]. Excerpt:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

As the World Turns: My four years in Costa Rica (2012-2016)

And what I learned from them

By Ed Rogers

Let me start off by saying how much I love Costa Rica. The country and the people are like a part of me. But not everything is rosy. True, there are many up-sides to living there, but there is also a price to be paid. I will cover two of the down-sides in hopes it will help others not make the same mistakes I made.
    But first let me recap our adventure:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thunder Down Under: King’s Park & Botanic Garden

By Vic Midyett

I believe it was around 1898 when the Perth city forefathers decided not to allow development over the most scenic views of the city and Swan River, but leave it open to the public to enjoy. King’s Park & Botanic Garden covers almost 1,000 acres.
    As you enter at its main gates, you are majestically welcomed by well over 100 white gum trees (a variety of Eucalyptus), also referred to as Ghost Gum. Australian indigenous trees lose their bark every year during winter.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Review: Family Is Forever: High School 1950-1954

The third volume of Shirley Skufca Hickman’s autobiography

By William Silveira

On July 25, my wife, Marylin, and I drove to Porterville to join Joe and Shirley Hickman for lunch. I had taken a speech class from Shirley in my junior year at Tulare Union High School (1958-1959). Shirley had just graduated from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado, and this teaching assignment in Tulare, California was her first.

Monday, August 15, 2016

As the World Turns: A fool and his wall

By Ed Rogers

A wall is built to keep something or someone out. It is supposed to make the builder of the wall feel safe. In most cases, it does just that – until the wall is breached for the first time. The fear of being unprotected is overwhelming at that point. It is more intense even than before the wall was built, because there is no backup plan. Once your wall is breached, your faith in it will never be the same. Your only choice or hope is to find a bigger and better wall – right?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Growing Up in America: American movies in the 1950s


By Rolf Dumke

Movies in the 1950s were an intoxicating and disturbing experience for an immigrant boy. They exposed the psychic underbelly of an America disturbed by Freud, sex, women, and crime; troubled by the Cold War struggle between patriotic Americans and communist traitors; haunted by Ray Bradbury’s and Orson Welles’s impending attacks by aliens from outer space; and unbalanced by the drama in American high schools that created or cemented social barriers, allocating dramatically different life chances among its students.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Poetry & Portraits: Sondheim (a poem)

By Eric Meub


Has no one seen? Has no one yet been told
      a star is being born in me at last?
Who grouses I’m too old, that I’m a mold
      from which one character alone is cast?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Correspondence: From scientific research

Edited by Moristotle

Interesting combination of technology and art : “Finding Degas’s Lost Portrait with a Particle Accelerator” [Steph Yin, NY Times, August 4]. Excerpt:

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Succulent succulent

With gratitude for my gardening wife

By Moristotle

Don't ask me what the succulent’s Latin name is – I haven’t asked my wife yet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Movie Review: Gladiator

Finding Elysium

By Kyle Garza

Since its introduction to the big screen in the year 2000, Gladiator has met heavy-handed criticism from Christian film critics, largely because of its “gratuitous” violence. I argue, however, that the violence in Gladiator is always purposeful, serving the greater purpose of characterizing the virtues in its combatant protagonist, Maximus Decimus Meridius. Upon a first viewing, Maximus’s story seems to be yet another tale of vengeance and gore that encourages our desire to see wicked villains slain. With a little more reflection, though, we can discover that Gladiator has much more to say about love and service, and in fact uses Maximus to discourage bloodlust and carnage as mere means of entertainment.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Preliminary response to the reader survey

How to follow us by email

By Moristotle

Thank everyone who has already taken the survey [“SURVEY: Tell us how you read & comment on Moristotle & Co.”], which will continue for a few more days.

Monday, August 8, 2016

In Your Dreams: Attend your own funeral

And who was that prostitute?

By Moristotle

The first dream (night of August 3-4). Because my funeral was scheduled to commence in a couple of hours (around 1 p.m.), and I was on the program to perform a classical piano selection for it, we (that is, my over-the-shoulder assistant – or perhaps my manager – and I) had to decide whether I knew the music well enough to do it. We judged that I didn’t, so we decided that we would play a recording of the music and I would sit at the piano and play along with it – sort of finger-syncing.
    We had to get to the venue in time for me to retrieve the sheet music. We arrived – it didn’t seem to be a church (“thank God!”) – but I dilly-dallied the time away and, seconds away from whenI was scheduled to start, I had not yet assembled the sheet music I was to “play” from.
    I woke up.

Considerations. Well, the first point has to be that I was supposedly attending my own funeral. If it was someone else’s funeral, I failed to comprehend that, and I did have the sense as the dream went along that it was my funeral, and this didn’t seem strange to me or my assistant manager.
    The second point is that I can’t play anything on a piano, let alone classical music. And not only could I not play such music, neither could I convincingly “finger-sync” doing so.
    A perhaps obvious “meaning” of the dream might be that I have been ill-prepared to live my life, I have not known its “music” but have only gone through the motions of living, so that being alive at my own funeral isn’t strange – I have been dead the whole time anyway. And my being in no hurry to find the sheet music suggests that I have not applied myself to finding the music of living my life.
    All of which seems absurd somehow, and singularly off the mark. Perhaps nothing more is “meant” than that I have some second-thoughts about the actual music that has been my life’s soundtrack?
    Was the only constructive thing I did in the entire dream…to wake up? And is my task now simply to consider what other kinds of music I might pursue?
    One thing strikes me about my life: I work hard, and I am future-oriented in planning projects I need to get done, whether to get through a day or a week of home life or to publish whichever of Moristotle & Co.’s recurring columns have recently accrued. All of these activities are enjoyable, but....Could they be more enjoyable if I could “be present” more in the moment of doing them, and less “in the future” planning my next move?

The second dream (night of August 5-6). I was sitting in an upholstered chair in a sort of student center (a busy, crowded, large, public sort of room, anyway), with a fair amount of my “stuff” lying in the seat on other side of me. A woman I recognized from about 40 years earlier at IBM rushed up, desperately in need of using the toilet, which my upholstered chair in the crowded public space had suddenly become (or been revealed to be, although it still looked like an ordinary upholstered chair with a fairly wide and deep seat). There was no question that, of course, I would get up and let her “use the toilet.”
    Nothing else passed between us; we didn’t say hello or anything else. I simply stood up and gathered my stuff, which mainly included several lemons and several limes. I stuffed as many as I could into my pockets and carried the rest away in my hands.
    I didn’t watch her “go to the toilet.”
    In the next scene I was reconnoitering with my team of detectives in another area of the “center” - it seems we were there investigating something, although I can’t remember whether I had a sense of this as I was sitting in the upholstered chair. One of my colleagues asked, “Who was that prostitute?”
    Without hesitation I said the name of the woman who had asked to “use the toilet” and told them what years she had worked at IBM. My colleagues were amazed that I knew her and even knew “all about her.”
    I didn’t question the term “prostitute,” although had never been a prostitute to my knowledge.
    And then I woke up.

Considerations. I don’t think I’d dreamed about the woman in many years, and I can’t remember when I ever did, although I suppose I must have. The most striking thing about this dream (even more striking than the strange “toilet chair”) is that this person showed up in it. And I suppose that the dream’s “meaning” must somehow involve her identity and be centered on the fact that the chair I was sitting in was the one that she wanted to use, not someone else’s – couldn’t all of the chairs in the large room have had the same property? (This question didn’t come up in the dream.)
    And what about those lemons & limes? Why citrus fruits? Vitamin C? The colors – bright green & yellow? Beats me.
    Or could “prostitute” be my psyche’s assessment of my dealings with the woman, and the dream’s message be that I have now evacuated all its remains?

Copyright © 2016 by Moristotle

Sunday, August 7, 2016

West Coast Observer: Great divides

In California & beyond

By William Silveira

I have agreed to become a commentator for Moristotle & Co. I hope that what I have to say does not prove to be too soporific to the blog’s readers. And I hope that I will have the inspiration to say something of interest at least once a month.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Boldt Words & Images: On the 71st anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

A meditation in five acts

By Bob Boldt
“My God, what have we done?”
–Bob Lewis, the Enola Gay co-pilot
Act One: Video selections from Alain Resnais’ 1959 film, Hiroshima Mon Amour (French), with music by Giovanni Fusco and George Delerue 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Correspondence: Nightmares

“The Nightmare,” by Henry Fuseli
Edited by Moristotle

I had an election nightmare last night . It was November 8, 2016, and recent polls showed that American voters preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, 67% to 29%, with 4% undecided.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sketches from Salt Lake: The Farmers Market

By Geoffrey Dean

Two weekends ago, we made our first visit of 2016 to the SLC Farmers Market. Now in its 25th year, the market brings local farmers, craftspeople, and their customers each Saturday to Pioneer Park in downtown SLC. This time we parked on 200 W, passing the hundred-year-old Broadway Hotel on 300 S (also known as, you guessed it, Broadway) on our way to the northeast corner of the park.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Correspondence: America’s new Manchurian candidate

Edited by Moristotle

Too bad you didn’t have this photo of “Trumpet Mouth” on Sunday (“Tricker Tweeter”), from “A cesspool with teeth…AKA Donald Trump’s mouth…” [Pouring My Mouth Out, July 31]

Monday, August 1, 2016

Movie Review: Genius

Who is the genius?

By Jonathan Price

Genius is a movie you’re likely to miss, but shouldn’t. In our little burg it got two stars out of four, an invitation to skip it, and ran for perhaps one week at the local art theatre downtown. It was previewed in advance a number of times, but apparently never made it out of its dim downtown venue, and may have been seen by 300 people – perhaps – in a metropolitan area of one million.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Correspondence: Tricker tweeter

Edited by Moristotle

A significant number of your staff seem to fear the possibility that Trumpet Mouth might be elected [“Do you have a fear for the future? What is it?”]. I really don’t think that’s a realistic fear, given the stark choice between a competent, accomplished, dedicated, tested public servant and the egomaniacal disaster that is Donald Trump, of whom a prominent New Yorker last week said he knows a con when he sees one.

Friday, July 29, 2016

SURVEY: Tell us how you read & comment on Moristotle & Co.

To help us improve

By Moristotle

As a follow-up to yesterday’s announcement and our invitation for readers to join our community, we have designed a survey to collect reader feedback on your practice of reading & commenting on Moristotle & Co.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

We are bringing back named recurring columns

Starting in August

By Moristotle

[Note: I’ve decided to refer to myself as “Moristotle.” That is, after all, who I am.]

We have decided to return to naming recurring columns in the sidebar*. The reason is simple: a number of members of the staff confessed that they needed recurring columns to motivate them to write more things for the blog. And they cited a need for encouragement from me (some called it nagging) to get with it and submit something!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

El Camino de Santiago, Part VI

Santiago on the horizon

By Valeria Idakieva

[Part V, “Mountain relief from the sweltering plain,” was published on July 12.]

A beautiful morning in the mountains invited me to savor the picturesque route.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Fear for family and motherhood

My greatest fear for the future

By Christa Dean

Just when, exactly, do you become a mother? Is it the moment you get that first positive pregnancy test? The moment of conception? When you hear the little one’s heartbeat or when you hold him or her in your arms for the first time?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Do you have a fear for the future? What is it?

Sharing our fears with others

Edited by Morris Dean

We recently asked the members of the staff of Moristotle & Co. whether they had a fear for the future, and, if so, what was it? Today we are sharing the responses we received.
    But we are also asking readers the same questions. And we hope that you will take the time to tell us. We wonder, for example, to what extent your fears are like ours. Please let us know.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Fear in time

Be here now

By Bob Boldt

Thinking about fear brings a whole series of ideas and impressions to mind. I invite you to follow me through the following disjointed ramblings. Because many critics have abused my writings, I do have a great fear that you may get lost or mistake my meaning.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal: Primates in a panic

Scenes actual or created

By James Knudsen

For anyone who is interested, I still have two kittens available for adoption. They’re up to date on their shots, recently “altered,” playful, affectionate, and best of all, free. Cats have always been in the background of my life. As a child, my bedroom (and box-spring mattress) served as the nursery to a litter of four kittens. As an adult, cats with names like Jimmy, Mo, Gypsy, and Prince have been in my home or the homes of significant others.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Animals, funsters, and a certain impaler

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Wonderful nature pictures on! But lots of them so only watch when you have lots of time.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sad but uplifted

Richard Francis Burton,
by Rischgitz, 1864
Not that Richard Burton

By Morris Dean & Bob Boldt

Yesterday’sSad like Jesus” revealed some of the consolations offered me following the short-lived publication, on July 3, of “Misunderstood, disrespected, resented: A meditation on Jesus: Glad, mad, and sad.”
    Another interchange provided much-needed comic relief:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sad like Jesus

Christ as the Man of Sorrows
by Luis de Morales
A meditation

By Morris Dean

Last month some “communication problems” (let’s call them) put me in touch with a feeling of over fifty years ago, when I identified with Jesus as the “man of sorrows.” An image also returned to me, or at least I assumed it was the private picture of Jesus I had in my head then.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Welcome Valeria Idakieva to the staff

By Morris Dean

With pleasure, we announce that Valeria Idakieva, the author of a series of articles about her trek across northern Spain along the El Camino de Santiago, has accepted our invitation to join our staff as a columnist. We have added an entry for her in the sidebar. Welcome, Valeria!

Monday, July 18, 2016

The RNC kicks off, and more

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Voters are about to be given the deciding say on the question whether Donald Trump’s ways make him a winner. Ironically, it is possible that a majority of voters will have been persuaded to say “yes” by the fact that Trump is not in prison for any of his many frauds, and he has, after all, apparently won the Republican Party’s nomination.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Frank O’Hara - The Last PI

Now available in paperback

By Morris Dean

D. Michael Pain’s novel, Frank O’Hara - The Last PI, has just been published in paperback and is available from Amazon. It is based imaginatively on Mike’s own professional experiences as a private investigator.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chapter 13 of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Farm

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Links to earlier chapters are provided at the bottom.]

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

El Camino de Santiago, Part V

Mountain relief from the sweltering plain

By Valeria Idakieva

[Part IV, “The Meseta,” was published on April 12.]

Early in the morning after the day dedicated to sightseeing in the glorious city of Leon, I said goodbye and buen camino to Bill, who had been walking with me for a few days and decided to walk a bit more slowly and then travel to Portugal where he was going to join a group from the USA.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Reminiscences of Canada’s National Parks in the Rockies

Achingly beautiful

By William Silveira

On June 1, my wife Marylin and I departed from Fresno for Toronto, Ontario to begin a 14-day “Canadian Train Odyssey.” I had been going to post a running account along the way from hotel computers, but when we arrived at Jasper, in the Canadian Rockies, I got locked out of my e-mail and left a crucial piece of paper by the hotel computer in my exasperation. So all I have now are these reminiscences.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Collection (a poem)

By Eric Meub


e.e. cummings would have understood
Melissa’s rubber stamps as but a game
To fix one’s typographic neighborhood.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bread & chocolate

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Today is World Chocolate Day. This Cadbury’s ad has been on TV a lot here. Nice music!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Another outing Down Under

Lunch at the fishing harbor

By Vic Midyett

Yesterday Shirley and I drove to an area of Fremantle that several years ago had some good restaurants. It’s where the Canning River and the Swan River meet. Sadly, high rise apartments and cycle tracks [bicycle lanes] had been built there, now eliminating what used to be good eating and good views.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bye, bye, Boris & others

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Funny article on Boris Johnson as Blackadder’s dashing Lord Flashheart. Lots of good links that explain the social interactions of the British conservative grandees. It reads like the introduction to an Ian McEwan novel that, like Amsterdam or Saturday, makes fun of the English upper class. “Bye bye, Boris, the man who wouldn’t clear up his own mess” [Marina Hyde, Guardian, June 30] Excerpt:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A winter’s day in Fremantle

Small town in the city

By Vic Midyett

Yesterday morning was a rather warm winter’s day in Fremantle, Western Australia – in the high 60’s F – and it had been raining off and on and cloudy for several days, so Shirley and I went into the city just to goof around in the sun.