Saturday, February 6, 2016

Growing Up in America

St. Paul’s and girls

By Rolf Dumke

[Links to previously published installments appear at the bottom.]

Notwithstanding environmental, social, and moral problems of life in and around our house in Linwood Avenue and E. 55th Street, I grew up attending a well-structured Lutheran school for the four years from 5th through 8th grades. St. Paul’s Lutheran Elementary School was located up on E. 55th, above Superior Avenue. I graduated with top grades and was awarded at our graduation ceremony the cherished blue letter P for top sportsman of the graduating class, making my parents proud.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Playboy puts on (some) clothes

Or it will in its March issue

By Morris Dean

A couple of posts we did on pornography and/or erotica late last year [Why Christians aren’t celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 move,” October 29, and “Eroticism and its discontents,” November 5] made extensive references to Playboy Magazine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

El Camino de Santiago, Part III

Legends and reality

By Valeria Idakieva

[Part II, “On the road again,” was published on January 5.]

I left the little farming village of Azofra early in the morning to head for Santo Domingo de la Calzada, named after Saint Dominic. The legends that surrounded the town were attracting me like a magnet.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Tom Cruise no sorry Ted Cruz

By Penelope Griffiths

So the Trump lost in Iowa.
    But he didn’t really think he would triumph in Iowa. He isn’t a total idiot but a shrewd businessman, and he always knew that his brash, outspoken persona would not appeal to the masses. In the other corner waited Ted Cruz, who is not that well known over the Pond – other than that he was born in Canada but is a U.S. citizen. Oh, and also that he thinks the whole of America is doomed like a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah if they don’t follow his “God.”

Why do owls bob their heads?

Answer from the National Audubon Society

Edited by Morris Dean

[Link to corrected.]

Ever wonder why owls bob their heads? Here’s a short video of an owl in action:

Monday, February 1, 2016

To dump or to trump

That is the question

By Penelope Griffiths

As I sit in my lounge watching my 55" HD, 3D TV, I could be on either side of the Pond but currently I am on the UK side with my jaw on the floor at the shenanigans of the U.S. presidential hopeless, Donald J. Trump.

Sunday, January 31, 2016


An invitation to recount our dreams here

By Bob Boldt

One of the ways many so-called primitive cultures strengthen their communal bonds is through the telling of dreams. I like to think of the diverse group of individuals involved in Moristotle & Co. as a kind of community, albeit a virtual one. Accordingly, it might be fun – and productive – for the members of this community to share some of their dreams. Consider this an invitation.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Let me help you with that

A short story

By Bob Boldt

“Let me help you with that,” he said as he fumbled for a match. The burning coal at the tip of her joint had disappeared. Lit again, she inhaled deeply. There was the customary silence while the smoke fed its precious cargo to waiting lungs. There was a brief choke followed by a cough followed by some of the unabsorbed smoke being expelled from her lungs. Ted stood up and held out his hand. “No,” she said. “I’ll just sit here. You know, I like to stay in my own head when I’m high.” She was seated on a large beach blanket, dressed only in a green, paisley spread.

Friday, January 29, 2016

What denomination did you say that was?

Church humor

By Steve Glossin

After church, an elderly woman approached the Priest. “Excuse me, Father, could you help me?”

Friday, January 22, 2016

Three paintings from the imagination of Shirley Deane/Midyett

“Boat on Lake” (detail)
Two boats & a flower

By Vic Midyett

Shirley painted “White Hibiscus” and “Boat on Lake” in December, both from her imagination:

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The position of the sun (a painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett)

Detail of photo from which
the painting was done
What’s right, what’s wrong?

By Vic Midyett

I just had to share this stunning painting of Shirley’s. It’s from a photo our oldest granddaughter took of her hubby and two sons on a beach in Washington state (see detail). The sun was absolutely in the wrong place, photographically, but Shirley got the effect and it turned out well, interesting and different, I thought.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Is vast inequality necessary?

Paul Krugman says no

By Rolf Dumke

Economist Paul Krugman’s January 15 piece in the NY Times, “Is Vast Inequality Necessary?” is a very readable argument explaining the rise of inequality in the US since the 1960s as a combination of forces:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Three paintings in three days by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Detail of third painting
Water & boats & trees

By Vic Midyett

Shirley did these three paintings in three days this week.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Three keys and the Mob

Apropos some fiction

By Ed Rogers

I have known some colorful characters in my life. I have written two novels based on some of them: Boystown and Boystown: The Return [which we plan to start serializing in the coming weeks –The Editor].
    The story below is all true, however. I have changed the names for reasons that should be apparent to everyone.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lost and found

A true story

By Christa  Saeger, as told to Geoffrey  Dean

Toward the end of the last scheduled class period a violist in the school orchestra comes in and tells me, I found a 100 dollars in the bathroom, and I’m like, OK, I’ll keep it with me in case anybody claims it.
    And so you know of course I can’t go around and ask if anybody lost a 100 dollars cuz everybody would claim it. So I planned to take it to the office first thing the next day.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Parquet (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub


I trailed through cavern after cavern hung
with clouds of crystal from a painted sky,
and gawked at fountains on the lawn, a young
suburban girl bewildered by Versailles.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Take a train across the USA for $213?

Some cautions

By Bob Boldt

Are you totally planning to see the USA by train for just $213?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Ask Susan

How can I make peace with death?

By Susan C. Price

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

God knows I have thought my fair share about death. My goal for many years was to make it past the age at which my father died. I hoped I would find relief in that, but I didn’t.
    Didn’t, that is, until a couple of months ago when I finally shared my fears with my husband as we were talking about my insomnia. I told him about my habit of “going dark,” going into the shadows during my most vulnerable nighttime hours to do battle with the thought of dying. My husband had no wise words to offer me, he just understood. Since that day, I no longer wake up every night and think about the end of my life.
    But I’m still looking for some “wise words” about this. Do you have any to offer me? –Seeker

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

El Camino de Santiago, Part II

On the road again

By Valeria Idakieva

[Part I, “Challenge and reward,” was published on November 24.]

It was in vain the previous night that I waited in an albergue in Pamplona for my delayed luggage – it arrived at 9:30 the next morning, which meant a late start for the day. At the sight of my backpack I breathed a sigh of relief, but one more surprise was in store for me. Not only was my luggage delayed but also my backpack was torn. Not surprisingly, I was furious. Still, I decided not to contact the airport any more. If I had tried to make a complaint, it would have cost me time, money, and emotions to go back to the airport and deal with the matter – and spoiled my Camino. So I resorted to saying “nice” things about the airline in a low voice.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Substantially right and wrong

A personal update

By Geoffrey Dean

Back in October I had been amused to hear my uncle, who owns a home in the nation’s most affluent zip code, characterize what I consider to be our very modest property in Salt Lake City as “a substantial piece of land.” I have since thought often about his assessment, and at times I have been inclined to agree with it. One such was following an early December day of unabated snowfall. Watching my neighbor with his snow shovel, conscientiously clearing a foot of snow from the “substantial” length of sidewalk on his corner lot, opposite ours, I had a terrible thought – what if his were not merely an act of good conscience, but actually one mandated by the city?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Growing Up in America

Cultural assimilation in Cleveland

By Rolf Dumke

[Links to previously published installments appear at the bottom.]

Linwood Avenue was unusual for many reasons. It was a lengthy street, running east from busy East 55th Street to East 65th, where the street stopped and skipped horizontally up to continue on another traverse parallel to the old segment of Linwood, and then stopped and skipped again. Linwood seemed undecided about its destination, a perturbing idea, presaging an uncertain future for many of its residents.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Did you do anything sexily spiritual at 12 last night?

Peggy Payne on that sort of thing

Noted by Morris Dean

With novelist Peggy Payne’s kind permission, we recommend her article, “The Sexy Spirituality of New Year’s Traditions,” published yesterday on her blog, Novels of Sex & Spirituality. Excerpt:

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bottom (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub

[Originally published on August 9, 2014]


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.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ask Nancy Walker Gemar about sports fanaticism

Can you explain it?

Interviewed by Morris Dean

[Interviewer’s Note: My friend Nancy Walker Gemar, whom I knew in high school as Nancy Walker and only recently got in touch with again, after 55 years, told me that she was in Chapel Hill for a Duke-UNC football game in 2009, when I was still working at UNC General Administration. She said that she and her friends whom she was visiting spent the next day touring the UNC campus and checking out the hot spots on Franklin Street.
    But she also wanted to see Duke University, so they went there “and the three of us went into the chapel. Tom refused to walk on the campus because of his overwhelming hatred for Duke! He sat in the car while Dianne and I checked out the campus. That’s what you call a ‘loyal son’!!”….

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Shots in the night

My friend Harvey’s Costa Rica tale

By Ed Rogers

Living in Costa Rica from the United States and having friends among Costa Ricans is not a common thing. The Costa Rican people are very friendly and most would bend over backwards to help you. However, they know that one day you will be going back to the States (and you know it too). So in some ways their (and our) minds protects us from the hurt of losing a close friend by not allowing us to get past a certain line toward closeness.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Christmas in Costa Rica

My personal update

By Ed Rogers

Janie and I had our Christmas yesterday. A total of 16 people came over for BBQ chicken, cornbread dressing, and all the stuff that goes with it. We had 12 yesterday afternoon and 4 at 7:30 last night. Our kitchen is a mess this morning but it was nice to have so many friends come and eat with us.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Loneliest Liberal’s Christmas magic

By James Knudsen

Nowhere on my resume has the title “journalist” ever been found. There have been half-hearted attempts, but this morning I finally put all arguments to rest. I am not a journalist, reporter, news anchor, or any other member of the Fourth Estate. Why? Because a responsible reporter would have at least made an attempt to confirm that Fox News is continuing its absurd, asinine, annual assault on the aural orifices known as the “War on Christmas.” There’s no war, but there is a disease that kills Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Summery Christmas

From Down Under

By Vic Midyett & Shirley Deane/Midyett

We would like to share with you a painting that Shirley did for our middle son, Ben, who provided a photograph of his niece and nephew taken on a beach south of Perth, Western Australia. Ben asked Shirley to do the painting as a Christmas gift for the children’s mother, Ben’s half-sister, who had taken the photograph and posted it on her Facebook page.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Light before Christmas

By James T. Carney

I am deeply religious and always feel faith most in the Christmas season. I am an Anglican, although I do not agree with the Church’s position on gays, but I think that the Anglicans in general are more right than the Episcopals. My parish is based in an old person’s home and we have services every Sunday in the chapel. Not having a building to worry about, and a part time priest – Father Paul – who makes $100 per year, means that our focus can be on evangelism and charity. In my old church – from which I was expelled by bell, book, and candle – everyone’s main focus was on the struggle to maintain the building – which was beautiful – but from my standpoint was a millstone around our necks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas In America

A tale

By Anonymous

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all the background checks, interviews, and testing were done, there were three finalists: two men and a woman.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Private Christmas

By Morris Dean 

The double spiral stairs at the Vatican Museum reminded me that my mother had a term for female genitalia that I had certainly not heard before when I was eight or nine, but neither have I heard it since. Mama’s term was “Christmas.”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Film Review: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Not so merry

By Morris Dean

Marilyn Monroe may have posed for a number of “Merry Christmas” photos, but she didn’t seem to have had many merry Christmases herself. Not to go by Lifetime’s four-hour miniseries, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, which was based on the NY Times best seller by J. Randy Taraborrelli.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chapter 7 of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Better to Serve You With, My Dear

By W.M. Dean

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Gunned down

An excerpt from a novel in progress

By Michael Hanson

[Editor’s Note: Raymond, age 40, recalls an event from his 27th year – the death of his best friend, Lauren, who was shot to death while on her morning jog. Our previous excerpt from this novel appeared on September 29.
    The rise of gun violence in America makes today’s piece eminently current, as incidents of gun violence are reported virtually every day, more people than ever must deal with the loss of family and friends, and politicians fervently debate what to do, or likely not.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Losing class

A recent publication of the Pew Research Center, “The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground” (December 9), might give us pause. Excerpt:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How well do you know holy scripture?

Take Nicholas Kristof’s quiz

By Morris Dean

In the context of Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from America, Nicholas Kristof, in his op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY Times, cherry-picked some quotations from holy texts to see how well we understand religion. I found the quiz fun, even if I didn’t answer all of its questions correctly. In fact, I missed the very first one:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Puzzle (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub


I read too much. My second husband used
to make inspections of my bedside drawer,
then catch me at the sink: You’re fifty-four
for God’s sake, Marianne, why start on Proust?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A gripping political & architectural contest in Munich

Gasteig Philharmonie [Source: Schlaier – own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]
What size breeches?

By Rolf Dumke

An architectural and political contest is gripping Munich. It concerns the location and design for a second concert hall for Munich’s homeless Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, under chief conductor Mariss Jansons. It is one of the top ten orchestras in the world, besides the number one in Munich, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Valery Gergiev and Zubin Mehta.

Monday, December 7, 2015


First Monday, as were

[Editor’s Note: My call for “character updates” went out to all of the blog’s staff members before I faced up to the fact that regularly scheduled columns weren’t working for me, and the call was graciously (if not habitually) answered by updates from a number of them. I trust that updates will continue to come in as our “characters” have something they want to share about themselves. We look forward to publishing these under their own bylines. To remind yourself who each character is, you may consult their blurbs in the sidebar. And remember that the link of each character’s name calls up all posts whose name they labeled.]

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Saturday to all the friends of Moristotle & Co.

From the editor:

In our new spirit of spontaneity and relaxation of the rules, we take this moment to greet everyone (from an iPhone without benefit of the formatting tools on a computer).

May you all have a creative and fulfilling day.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Moristotle & Co. abandons regular scheduling

Baldassare Peruzzi, “Muses Dancing with Apollo”
Our muses insisted

By Morris Dean

This week I notified the staff that it was no longer working for me to try to live up to the blog’s commitment to have regularly scheduled columns. I told them that I wanted to give up specifying the days of the week (or month) on which particular columns would appear, so that there would be no stated or implied commitment to publish anything on any given day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Voice

A Thanksgiving dream

By Bob Boldt

I hope your Thanksgiving was better than mine.

I spent the awful occasion on licensed premises,
alone with a “Tyson Frozen Turkey Parts Dinner,”
“with added tryptophan”
and “no more than 20% additional sponsored contents.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fifth Monday Fiction

Elmer (short story)

By Bob Boldt

North and Clyborn subway stop, Chicago, 10 p.m., December third.
    With a blur of light, the northbound “A” train flashed past with a deafening roar, leaving only the torn wings of fluttering newspapers and an echoing silence in its wake. Far above, the ring of the signal heralding the arrival of the southbound “B” train echoed like a distant winning slot machine paying off.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

Sales contest of civilizations

By James Knudsen

Not long ago [June 27] I mentioned my time in the retail sales world. I didn’t like it. Besides retail sales, I had other customer service jobs following my four-year stint in the Marines, a job I liked slightly more than sales. Presently, we in the United States and other countries that we’ll just call, for the sake of simplicity, The Western World, are in a struggle with various groups that we’ll call, for the sake of simplicity, religious savages. The question is: How to deal with these individuals. The answer is one of my previous vocations.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.” [Arthur C. Brooks, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Special

How our Thanksgiving goose got cooked

By Pam Palmer

[Editor’s Note: Originally published on July 20, 2013 as a Third Saturday Fiction.]

“We should have roast goose for Thanksgiving,” Martin said.
    It was 1976 and David, my husband, and I had just bought a house across the street from our long-time friends, Martin and Joan. Two weeks after we moved into the house David left for a six-month stint on a research ship in the Antarctic. It would be my first Thanksgiving in my first house and I felt overwhelmed. Of course, I could go to my in-laws’ house but it was a long drive from Long Beach to Mission Viejo by myself. My parents were going to the desert so having dinner with them was not possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Voice: El Camino de Santiago, Part I

Challenge and reward

By Valeria Idakieva

[Editor’s note: The author frequently goes hiking or running in the mountains of her native Bulgaria.]

A lot has been said and written about the Camino de Santiago, because a stream of people of various nationalities pass along it. Like a powerful magnet, it attracts about 200,000 people each year. Is their objective to worship one of Jesus’s favorite disciples in his tomb and to obtain remission of sins? Are they drawn by the great cultural and artistic monuments that make the Santiago Route the “first European cultural itinerary” (as it was described in 1987 by the Council of Europe)? Or do they simply want to leave behind the habits and routines of their everyday life? Whatever the reason, visiting the route is a unique experience, a combination of challenge and reward that transforms everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Scarf it up

By Susan C. Price

A painting needn’t spend its life on walls. It can have a life on a silk scarf (and other clothing).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Doing Time (Chapter 12 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: From the September 2015 review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
The heinous deed that forms the axis of Rix’s tale takes place in Phoenix, Arizona,1991. A pretty barmaid is found virtually nude; beaten, bitten, and stabbed to death in the men’s room of her place of work. While the crime scene is littered with numerous examples of potential evidence, it is the actual bite marks on the victim’s body that become the central interest of the state. Prosecutors become convinced, based on forensic odontology, that the bite marks could only have come from a particular dart-throwing bar patron who was seen nuzzling with the deceased at a Christmas party prior to the killing. Ray Krone, the hapless young man whose teeth impressions seem to be a perfect match for the victim’s wounds, is arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die for the shocking crime.