Thursday, May 26, 2016


“Peter,” a dream invention by the author

By Bob Boldt

[Editor’s Note: This post renews the author’s January 31 “Invitation to recount our dreams here,” which provoked a fair amount of commentary but has so far prompted no one else to recount a dream. The invitation still stands, and we hope that other dreamers will take us up on it soon.]

Since my January 31 dream post I have had an epiphany of sorts surrounding my dream life. As I may have mentioned somewhere, dreams are like a three-year-old, the more attention you give him, the more he will go to any length to keep that attention. Most people go through stages in their life, me included, when they say, “I can’t seem to remember my dreams at all. I’m just so busy.” At present I have found myself in a place controlled largely by me. If necessary, I can take as much time as I want to transcribe the longest dream. Since I have been doing this again, my dream life has expanded exponentially.
    The dream related below is of no special interest to anyone but me. I’m just presenting it as an interesting sequence of images that both you and I might find stimulating. It might also stimulate an interpretation or two. Often I have found that a symbol can be opaque in one person’ dream, but quite obvious in another’s.
    The dream related here also demonstrates another facet of dream analysis, the dreamer’s subjective background. In order to more fully understand a stranger’s dreams it is often necessary to have a little back-story on the dramatis personae.
    It is my belief that the various characters that appear in dreams often represent a whole panoply of bundled experiences and idée fixes that are relevant only to the dreamer and require a more detailed explanation if the dream is to be understood. This also applies to various famous personage, who I think may actually represent more archetypal modern figures. I find it interesting that The Dead quite often appear in my dreams. Often they have messages for me, warnings, or comments on my life and my history.

The Dream (dreamt on May 15, 2016). Tony Barnicle1, Tim Connors2, and I had retired to Tony’s apartment in downtown Manhattan. After dinner Tony planned to drive us to our classes at New York University. We had plans to enroll in courses in the English and the sociology departments. I decided to enroll only in the English course because I didn’t think I would have enough time to dedicate to the sociology course and because the sociology professor required that an extensive essay be included along with the application.
    The picture of the English professor on the syllabus looked like Honoré de Balzac. I just knew we would hit it off. I also knew I didn’t have the time to compose a proper essay. Tim had already written his and he asked me to review it and give him my critique. It consisted of three pages of small script in seemingly disconnected paragraphs. Try as I might, I couldn’t make sense of the writhing. I was not convinced that the fault was completely mine. I tried to cover my incomprehension with a comment praising his “Proustian digressions.”
    He seemed satisfied by my analysis. On the table were a half-dozen small tin medallions such as those that might be used by members Jewish or Roman Catholic religious orders, pilgrims, or the faithful. The inscription was too small for me to make out, because the dimensions were under one inch in size. The background of the inscription was a picture of a pre-industrial Dickensian London street, very crowded with oxcarts and carriages, and very squalid.
    On the wall behind the table was a large poster of the graphic done in a dark sepia tint. I told Tony I would not be needing a ride to sociology class because I had a lot of work to do on the computer and could I have his password?
    Tony’s apartment was on the lower floor of a sprawling apartment complex that fronted on the Hudson River. Stepping out onto the patio, one had a view of nearly the whole length of the waterfront. I commented on what a delight it must be to have such a vast patio.
    After they left, I spent some time in the apartment with Juliette Binoche and her infant son. The small child was an insatiably inquisitive creature who was always getting into things. I supervised his explorations of the apartment in his stroller, even though he had become invisible. It was interesting to watch the empty stroller navigating around the empty furniture, going through doorways, and out onto the patio, seemingly unoccupied.
    Part of the patio fronted on a large vacant lot growing wild prairie grasses. By means of reference points engraved into the stone face of one of the walls were markers that could be used like survey markers to determine where the location of the buried Treasure could be divined. Tony had provided me with a long tape ruler and a ball of string. I thought that he intended to use the string to draw a parabola around two locus points. I asked him if the Treasure might be located somewhere along that parabola. He denied the string would be used in such a way, and was not forthcoming with any further explanation.
    Around the edges of my visual field, dead movie stars began assembling for a shoot. I didn’t recognize many of them, because they were from the French film industry.

    I did recognize Jean-Louis Trintignant from A Man and a Woman (he’s still very much alive, by the way).
    Somehow Marlon Brando (his spirit body looked about 30 years old) had snuck onto the set.
    After the shoot, all of the actors bid adieu to Tony, who I was amazed to find out had actually been a cleverly disguised Orson Welles all the time. To some he simply said, “Farewell.” To a few others he responded with, “I look forward to working with you again.”
    I wondered what he would say to me. He simply said, “Pat is dead.” I realized to my horror he was referring to my dear friend, choreographer Pat Selby (who last I heard is still alive and well and living in Colorado). I burst into tears upon hearing the sad news.

  1. Tony Barnicle was my dear friend, elder counselor, and mentor who passed away a year ago. 
  2. Tim Connors was a reporter I worked with at WFLD-TV in 1966. We had a great many disagreements at the time as to the Vietnam War, marijuana, and alternative lifestyle issues. He was as straight as Johnny Carson.
[Author’s Note: If you found this dream interesting or provocative, wait till you see the next one. It’s about 9/11 and it’s something I’ll bet Rod Serling would have wished he had written it.]

Copyright © 2016 by Bob Boldt

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Missionary Kid

Tiger cub

By Vic Midyett

[Editor’s Mea Culpa: The author submitted today’s Missionary Kid story last year sometime, along with another story that together had lain forgotten until they came to our attention recently as a direct result of Bob Boldt’s “Happy Mother’s Day” post of May 9, which prompted Vic Midyett to submit a piece about his mother. In the course of looking for a photograph of Vic’s mother, which we thought could be found among his Missionary Kid stories, we came across the two forgotten stories. Vic’s tribute to his mother, “Mom’s last good-bye,” will be published on Sunday, and his other Missionary Kid story a week from today.]

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Movie Review: Nelson Algren: The End is Nothing, the Road is All

My lost Chicago: Reflections on the film

By Bob Boldt

Nelson Algren is regarded by some respected critics and authorities as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, certainly the greatest American writer. In spite of that, his career was dogged by censorship, slander, and worse of all, neglect. He was the quintessential modern, existential man, a mixture of light and dark. A devoted womanizer who seemed to be unable to sustain long-term relationships and an inveterate gambler, he wore his vices like badges of honor.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Chapter 11 of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Hush Money

By W.M. Dean

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

Friday, May 20, 2016

Life on Earth

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Today four Canada geese flew close overhead going northward honking to one another. My heart leapt up with joy to be a part of life on Earth that includes such creatures. I winced to remember that I am also a part of the race of creatures some of whom have spent thousands of hours interpreting something they call Scriptures in order to “prove” that the son of a god died to ensure that they could have everlasting life in some fantasyland beyond their fondest hopes. I had the feeling-thought that such animals as Canada geese are at least as noble as us humans, whose great intellects we use for foolishness as often as not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Some passing curiosities from Down Under

By Vic Midyett

Sunday, just before lunch time, the largest plane in the world landed at the Perth International airport, delivering a small generator weighing 117 metric tonnes for a coal mine South of here. It was the first time this plane has ever landed on Australian soil. The news reported that 25,000 people took up vantage points near the airport to watch it land. Ukrainian built, the airplane has a payload capacity of 240 metric tonnes, or 92 full-grown Asian elephants. Total take-off weight is 640 tonnes. [Read more about it: “Antonov An-225 Mriya: World’s largest plane touches down in Perth,” Rebecca Trigger, ABC News.]

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Wash (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub


Big downpour up the canyon fills these halls
in no time, flooding ten feet high in zones
like this, or more, then spilling waterfalls
from basin into basin as it hones
the red-rock, widening the canyon walls,
and carving picture windows in the stones.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Shakespeare & Co.

Photo by the editor, April 23
From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

[“Recent” is relative; some of these items arrived while my wife and I were in Paris celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary.]

Thursday, May 12, 2016

“Tea Cup Roses,” painted & sketched by Shirley Deane/Midyett

“Tea Cup Roses” (detail)
By Vic Midyett

We have a couple of rose bushes that produce delicate little roses. As buds they begin with a fresh, pastel pink, and as they mature and age they turn snow white, and don’t hold their shape real well. Reminds one of something else, huh?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

“Dead Calm Ocean,” painted by Shirley Deane/Midyett

“Dead Calm Ocean” (detail)
By Vic Midyett

We met a young couple (Mitch and Grace) in Southern Queensland a few years back, not long after we started our gray nomad journey around Australia. They showed up again in Northern Queensland, in Walkamin, where we spent a few months. These kids were insistent that we visit them in their little town on the Southern tip of Toora, Victoria, which we did, and met their whole family and had a wonderful, loving time.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mothers Day!

My mom as a teenager
By Bob Boldt

In honor of mothers, I thought I’d comment on the mothers in my life. The picture below is of me and my grandma – my dad’s mom. There was such an affinity we shared together, a bond. I recalled a line from a poem I had been writing, “I remember kissing my grandma when she was ten.”

Saturday, May 7, 2016


By Morris Dean

[Published originally on April 17, 2009.]

Funny thing. I don’t believe in god or heaven, but [on the morning of April 17, 2009] I was feeling so extraordinarily buoyant that, quite spontaneously, I exclaimed to my friend Jeff, “I feel so good—as though I’ve been apotheosized!” [The painting shown to the right is “The Apotheosis of St. Ignatius” by Giovanni Battista Baciccio (1639-1709). Ignatius is still, I suppose, believed by some to have been literally apotheosized after being killed by one or more lions for the entertainment of the citizens of Rome.]

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Compassion and justice

A teaching of Jesus & John

By Morris Dean

[Published originally on September 1, 2009.]

An email discussion I’ve been having about health care reform with a small circle of Yale classmates recently put me in mind of something I’d read about the political philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002). I’d read, perhaps in an obituary, that he held something like

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal

Where’s the bacon?

By James Knudsen

Finding the right metaphor can be tricky but I think I’ve got it this time: bacon. We’ll get back to that.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ask Susan

How can I get my family to stop punishing me?

By Susan C. Price

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

My sister and my fiancé had an affair that blew my family and my life into pieces. The two have both moved on with different partners now and life is great for them, but I’m still dealing with what happened. What I’m struggling with most is that it was my own sister who betrayed me, and we were always so close.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Chapter 10 of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
What the Man on the Street Said

By W.M. Dean

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

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Material body and immaterial soul

According to Christian belief

By Kyle Garza

In our postmodern materialist society, there seems to be an idea creeping steadily more prevalently into our culture that, as the field of neuroscience progresses, scientists will eventually “explain away” all that we once thought could only be attributed to the human soul. Eventually, some think, we’ll be able to say with empirically-based scientific observation and study that the physical human brain accounts for all of our experience in life, and that there is no reason to archaically believe in the existence of the human soul.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

El Camino de Santiago, Part IV

The Meseta

By Valeria Idakieva

[Part III, “Legends and reality,” was published on February 3.]

After the sweltering heat of the previous day, luckily a storm during the night lowered the temperature and cleared the air. So my first day on the Meseta – wide-open spaces with very little shade – started on a more cheerful note in the fresh air.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Futures (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub


We had then (still) tomorrow, Saarinen,
a Trans-World tapered, curled, stiletto heeled,
and Kahn. We thought we’d live without a Penn
Station (what a leveled playing field).

Friday, April 8, 2016

Bernie Sanders occupies Wall Street?

March for Bernie demonstrators
Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/
LightRocketv/Getty Images
From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Four fairly recent articles examine Occupy Wall Street, and three of them see strong affinities between the movement and Bernie Sanders:

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Duke University’s adjunct faculty members celebrate
From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

The days appear to be over when a university’s faculty runs the place of teaching, learning, and inquiry, and its administration supports them. “Duke’s Adjunct Faculty Uprising Is Just What Higher Ed Needs” [Bob Geary, Indy Weekly, March 30] Excerpt:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Meeting the Tjuntjuntjara community

Shirley Deane/Midyett and Elder Mr. Ned Grant
(photo by Graham Townley)
In honor of the Spinifex People

By Vic Midyett, in consultation with Shirley Deane/Midyett

[Author’s Note: Shirley has now done the work at the remote Spinifex Health Service center that we announced here on March 11, in “White butterfly...Aboriginal Australian symbolism.”
    In all Australian aboriginal cultures there are strict and definitive rules around what is “men’s business” and “women’s business.” I have written this article in the hope that we have been appropriately sensitive to all. We wish to acknowledge and honor the Spinifex People as the owners and custodians of their land.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fools Day

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Could this announcement be a joke for this special day? “Hull set for City of Culture mass nude photograph” [BBC News, May 30] Excerpt:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Boystown: The Return (a novel)

Foreword, Prolog, & Chapter 1

By Ed Rogers

[Boystown: The Return is the sequel to Boystown[: The Cocaine Highway], chapters of which have been excerpted on Moristotle & Co. Both books are now available on Amazon.]

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ask Susan

I wish my husband & I weren’t together – what should I do?

By Susan C. Price

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

I’ve been married for 26 years and have two teenage children. I haven’t been happy for a long time and my husband and I have not had sex for at least five years. I’ve been hoping he’ll get fed up and leave. Recently, I told him I wanted a divorce, but he accused me of being selfish and not thinking about our children – my elder is leaving home to go to college in September, though.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal

Obsessions, magnificent and mundane

By James Knudsen

Genius is not without its drawbacks. I write this as an assumption, not a statement of fact based on firsthand experience. Having avoided the genius gene generally, I come to my informed conclusion based on the historical record. Whether the genius in question was a person of the sciences or of the arts, being blessed with a gifted mind always seems to entail a concurrent trait or circumstance that, all things being equal, one would just as soon avoid. Michelangleo, an unquestioned genius with the hammer, chisel, and paintbrush, was nonetheless an unapologetic slob who ate merely for the sustenance it provided. Ponder that for a moment. Michelangleo, sitting on the scaffolding in the Sistine Chapel with his assistant and not caring for a moment whether his Subway sandwich was accompanied by Doritos of the Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch variety. A lengthy Wikipedia entry seems small compensation for such a shortcoming in the tastebuds.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Leaving Costa Rica

A personal update

By Ed Rogers

I have submitted many “character updates” from Costa Rica over the years. This one, I am sorry to say, will be my last from San Ramon.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Movie Review: He Who Must Die

A Greek Passion for Easter

By Bob Boldt

I hope this thumbnail review will pique your interest in a nearly forgotten film by one of the great directors of the 20th Century.
    If Christ, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were to return to earth, it is of little doubt that it would be necessary to kill him again. I am convinced that our own beloved leaders would be the ones to drive the first nail.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Chapter 9 of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
The Vice-President’s Plan Is Missing

By W.M. Dean

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Humanity and its discontents

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

News of Stephen Greenblatt’s having been awarded the Holberg Prize warmed my heart. Good on him!
    I’m happy too for what the award signals to the public at large about the value of the Humanities — in this time when the Humanities are coming under attack for allegedly not preparing students for employment. “Stephen Greenblatt Wins Holberg Prize” [Jennifer Schuessler, NY Times, March 11] Excerpt:

Monday, March 14, 2016

When dreams become nightmares

By Bob Boldt

It is sometimes advantageous to take the long view. “Te Deum” is a video I made during the Bush years, when it didn’t look like things could get much worse. Well, they did.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Book Review: Is Everybody Happy Now?

The second volume of Shirley Skufca Hickman’s autobiography

By William Silveira

Building on the success of the first volume of her autobiography, Don’t Be Give Up, author Shirley Skufca Hickman has published the second volume of her very well told life story, Is Everybody Happy Now?: Growing Up after World War II.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Fly (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub


She steps into the church, unprepared, underdressed,
just to shake off the downpour, the street noise defied
by a coffin-lid door slowly sealing inside
with the shadows her hurry to go un-confessed.

Friday, March 11, 2016

White butterfly, a painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

“White Butterfly” (5" x 7")
Aboriginal Australian symbolism

By Vic Midyett

In this latest painting of Shirley’s, she wanted the butterfly’s wings to be the focus of attention, so she purposely only hinted at the creature’s body. She did the painting for a couple of reasons: A story in our Cherokee heritage features a white butterfly. And she has a passionate interest in aboriginal Australians, in one of whose stories a butterfly plays an important symbolic role.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

What is really behind the Trump phenomenon?

By Bob Boldt

As early as 1968 I witnessed the death of Liberalism when I saw the Democrats ignore the strong voices of dissent against the Vietnam War and proceed with a war agenda that was as foolish as it was doomed. The irony of the situation was that the nominee that year, Hubert Humphrey, could have successfully come out against the very war the Johnson administration had been so vigorously losing. More bizarre still, President Johnson knew that Nixon and Kissinger could have well been charged with treason for their private negotiations with the South Vietnam delegation to the Paris peace talks [see “George Will Confirms Nixon's Vietnam Treason,” August 12, 2014].

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Ask Susan

How can I know she has given me a clear sign she wants to have sex?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have been dating a woman for about two months now. She is 57 and I am 68. She’s a lot of fun to be with and we always have a great time together. I think it could develop into a more serious long-term relationship.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Growing Up in America


By Rolf Dumke

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

In contrast to my usually detailed memories of childhood experiences, I have few memories of my life in St. Paul’s Lutheran School in the 5th and 6th grades, which were taught by a strict, small and mousy man who drilled his pupils in arithmetic.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Demigod for President?

Not just an analogy

By Morris Dean

Mitt Romney’s denunciation of Donald Trump on Thursday has provoked outrage among the candidate’s supporters. Yesterday Michael Barbaro, Ashley Parker, and Jonathan Martin, in their NY Times article “Rank and File Republicans Tell Party Elites: We’re Sticking With Donald Trump,” quoted Lola Butler, 71, a retiree from Mandeville, La., who voted for Mr. Romney in 2012:


From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Be sure to watch this on the largest computer screen you have (HD if possible). And have your sound turned on. The hummingbird doing rolls chasing a bee is not to be missed. Be sure and watch closely (around 2 min 40 sec) and check out the baby bat under its mother. See some of what goes on in the garden when you aren’t paying attention. Some of the finest photography you will ever see.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Link from the NY Times
From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

What an opening last night, if Rubio or Cruz or Kasich could have taken it without doing themselves in...“Clash of Republican Con Artists” [Paul Krugman, NY Times, March 4]. Excerpt:


From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

“Rare ‘superbloom’ blankets Death Valley in millions of yellow wildflowers” [Oliver Milman, Guardian, February 25] Excerpt:

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Andrew McDonald, a student
of High Sierra Workshops,
took this photo
From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

Great pictures of a magic transformation of the falls off El Capitan: “At Yosemite, a Waterfall Turns Into a Firefall” [Tatiana Schlossberg, NY Times, February 24]. Excerpt:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Falls and meadow, by Shirley Deane/Midyett

“Falls and Meadow” (detail)
From her imagination

By Vic Midyett

Shirley’s latest.
    I wasn’t certain she was finished with it yet. I thought she was, but she kept studying it, and that is sometimes an indication she’s about to change something. When I asked her, she said that the little additions she wanted to make would be small and probably wouldn’t be consciously noticed anyway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Celebrating Hieronymus Bosch

From recent correspondence

Edited by Morris Dean

The Hieronymus Bosch exhibition described in “Dutch museum achieves the impossible with new Hieronymus Bosch show” [Maev Kennedy, Guardian, October 21, 2015] opened on Monday last week, a 500-year anniversary celebration. Excerpt:

Monday, February 29, 2016

The importance of clean thoughts and good oral hygiene

A short story

By Bob Boldt

I was finally having that tooth drilled, the one that had been killing me for over a month now. Dr. Ralph was busy with the first stages of the excavation of the offending rear left molar.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Movie Review: The Martian

Hard Science Fiction

By Chuck Smythe

Once upon a time, there was Hard Science Fiction. It has deep roots, but the modern, genre paperback tradition started with the Greatest Generation. They came back from the war with heads full of The Bomb, computers, and rockets, and were an eager market for pulp science fiction. Quite a bit of this, of course, was formula adventure fiction tarted up with spaceships. Some of the most interesting examples, though, had scientifically literate authors, who were interested in exploring the possibilities, for better or worse, of all this new technology. This was Hard Science Fiction, and the best of it insisted on getting the science right.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Loneliest Liberal in Region VIII

It’s Hawaii!

By James Knudsen

For people of my generation, knowledge of our 50th state is based largely on Hawaii Five-O, Magnum, P.I. and the three-part episode of The Brady Bunch with a cursed tiki idol at the center of the storyline. None of these was much help during my recent five-day stay on Oahu as part of Fresno City College’s trip to the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for Region Eight. (I previously covered this topic in February 2013: “A piece of theatre’s pie.”)

Friday, February 26, 2016


Never a dull moment

By Vic Midyett

A trailer park we used in eastern Australia three years ago was on a septic system. For some reason, I just found myself thinking about the frogs that apparently lived in that septic system. The second day we were there, I remember very clearly, I did my morning constitution and flushed the toilet. I didn’t have my glasses on, but was amazed to see something black with long, spongy legs and feet clinging on for dear life to the inside of the bowl. Knowing better than to say something to my wife, Shirley, I said nothing instead.