Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday Review: Woman in Gold

The past revisited and restored?

By Jonathan Price

The 2015 film Woman in Gold (directed by Simon Curtis) is based on a true story and retells it with some detail, intelligence, and passion. At the center of the story is an actual portrait by an Austrian painter of the early twentieth century, Gustav Klimt, of a friend and patron, Adele Bloch-Bauer, surrounded by ornamentation in shimmering gold.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapters 2 & 3 from the novel Frank O’Hara – The Last PI

By D. Michael Pain

[Editor's Note: Chapter 1, published here on December 29, described the contract killing of an unidentified woman. In today’s excerpt we learn a bit about her and meet the novel’s eponymous hero.]

Chapter 2. Where’s Brenda? When Brenda failed to show for work the following morning her co-workers were a bit alarmed – it was not like her. She was never late and never missed work. After three hours, her close friend Kim tried calling her. First her home, and then her cell. No answer. She left messages. “Hey best friend, where are you?”

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

You know of the very serious drought that California is experiencing. It's in its 4th year. There's finger pointing all around and impending conservation rules on city dwellers that are even stricter than last year's. I don't expect this to accomplish much because most of the water used is by agriculture (80% of the consumption). Starting with my grandfather in 1903, my family has farmed in Tulare County, and I grew up on a farm. Water consumption in Tulare County occurs by drawing on the vast underground water table, which has been dropping at an alarming rate. Every western state but California has long since had laws in place regulating the practice of endlessly pumping from underground aquifers. Big Ag in California managed to shove aside even discussing the necessity to regulate.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thor’s Day: Autonomy and altruism

Valuing autonomy for the least of these

By Kyle Garza

The self-made man is the American hero, an icon of personal autonomy that overcomes every obstacle in his way and flourishes despite opposition. Thomas Edison was frowned upon by his teachers due to his wandering mind, Walt Disney was told he lacked creativity, Elvis was told he couldn’t sing, and Michael Jordan was once cut by his high school basketball team. Yet all were still given the opportunity to strive to make something of themselves: truly, the American dream fully realized.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What are you doing for your 49th wedding anniversary?

Photo taken by either Morris's best man, Jim Rix, or
Carolyn's matron of honor, Carole Sue Rix, Jim's wife
– it was a very small, elopement wedding
Thanks for asking

By Morris Dean

If your question was actually a subtle reminder to ensure that I remembered our anniversary, thanks. But I did remember, and my wife agreed to my suggestion that we go to the North Carolina Zoo. If we really go today – the weather forecast calls for rain – I'll update this post later to let you know how it was.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

A wonderful thing

By Bettina Sperry

The young man from the farm next door came over recently to ask me if I had a trail riding horse for his wife. I am sure at that moment I fell in love with the idea, too. Both he and his wife are nature-loving farmers, raised life-long on farms and in rural settings. I later convinced him that he needed two horses – one for his beautiful wife and one for him, so he can ride alongside her.
    I have a lot of love and appreciation for my Tennessee Walkers. They are healthy, well behaved, listen well, and are very affectionate souls. They are gentle and giving creatures. They would be moving to the farm next door, gifted to wonderful parents. And it took no time for the Walkers to fall in love with their new family.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Second Monday Music: Geology lesson

Courtesy a quick googling of the web
Edited by Morris Dean

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Review: Going Clear

An exposé

By Morris Dean

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015 documentary directed by Alex Gibney) aired on HBO on March 29, and my wife and I watched our recording of it this week. Wow was my reaction – and I'm not alone: according to Wikipedia, when the film was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the audience gave it a standing ovation ("unusual for a Sundance presentation").

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet

Vern Oliver Morris Knudsen
(July 12, 1927 - November 13, 2014)
Out of rich memory

By Morris Dean


Time was, this Morris touched and changed us all,
he listened and loved us, always handy,
he seemed to hold our fledgling souls in thrall,
he exposed us to writers in flagrante1,

he aroused our wits to the language game,
he'd laud our Capricorn, Familias,
or something else we didn't know its fame.
Morris fathered well: our four friends2 and us.

And very often now we think of him:
Casa Knudsen open for cheese and wine,
everyone bright and eager, in the trim,
"No leftovers!" And now, here at this shrine,

all's left us of our friend and mentor Mo:
many memories of riches he bestowed.

Until I saw this photo or Morris in James Knudsen's
memorial montage, I didn't know that Jude Law looks 
a lot like Morris looked in his youth. Jude is lucky.

  1. The first book Morris brought to my attention (in Latin I or II) was Nabokov's Lolita.
  2. Most of us whom Morris touched and changed know and are friends not only with Morris's two children but also with his two step-children. See James Knudsen's column "Mo...m," February 28.
Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Friday, April 10, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Victory: ruling protects whales, dolphins from Navy's war games. Whales, dolphins and other marine mammals in the Pacific just caught an important break: A Hawaii district court judge has ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service wrongly approved U.S. Navy testing and training activities that posed serious harm to sea animals.
    The Navy's use of explosives and sonar, along with vessel strikes, could result in thousands of animals suffering death or injuries over a five-year period -- potentially causing an estimated 9.6 million instances of harm.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thor's Day: Stop

...and flow

By Morris Dean

I take the day off. Or most of it.
    I sit still in a chair facing the window and observe what's happening in front of my mind. There is some component of "mine" in this awareness, but what of it is mine? I'm just looking, not forcing, not trying to guide.
    Birds alight and feed. Leaves of the maple shudder in the wind...the invisible wind.
    Colored patterns or remembered images flit across the mouth of a cave. I don't bring them up. I don't force them. They flow. I flow. What am I?

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ask Wednesday: James Knudsen on writing his monthly column

How do you do it?

Edited by Morris Dean

As we pointed out two weeks ago, in republishing our December 2012 interview of columnist James Knudsen, he has now written 28 “Loneliest Liberal” columns, all of which have been thoughtfully written and enjoyable to read. And he has submitted them with such regularity and punctuality that we have never had to bug him! It has been marvelous, actually. And finally we could stand it no longer. We had to ask him how he does it. [Our questions are in italics.]

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

My first hunting trip

By Vic Midyett

The only meat we ate in Assam, where I was born, was what Dad shot in the jungle. The reason no meat was available for purchase is that the locals were all Hindu by faith. They didn't eat meat. Many animals were sacred in their faith.
    Dad had a twelve gauge shotgun and a .30-06, and he would go hunting in the jungle once or twice a week. The jungle was about a ten-minute walk away through some rice paddies. Because the average annual rain fall was about 350 inches, it was an extremely dense jungle. One would walk about 20 feet into it, in some areas, and be required to turn on a flash light to see. Dad had a watchman by the name of Beejooly (who slept all night, but that was another Missionary Kid story) whom he took with him for security. Beejooly would cut a path with a machete when needed.

Monday, April 6, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Ralph Earle, his forthcoming book of poems
    From Melissa Hassard, Partner and Managing Editor, Sable Books:
I am delighted to announce that we are now taking reservations for the forthcoming chapbook from Ralph Earle, The Way the Rain Works, winner of the 2015 Sable Books February Chapbook Contest. If you’d like to reserve a copy of Ralph’s book, we’ll be glad to hold a copy for you.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Review: The two slaps

The Slap (TV series): Australian (2011) and American (2015)

By Morris Dean

The Australian and American TV series The Slap (2011 and 2015, respectively) are so similar, it's fun and interesting to watch them both and see how they're different. The opening episode of both series portrays a birthday party at which an adult male administers a sound smack to someone else's misbehaving child, and both series explore the aftermath of that slap, going on for a total of eight episodes, each told from the point of view of a different character. The story, in both series, includes a man's near fling with his children's babysitter, incriminating photographs taken at the birthday party by a teenage boy who's a friend of the babysitter, a family friend's becoming pregnant by a man half her age, a family feud, a court case, and threats of breakup in a couple of marriages and several friendships. The Australian series is set around Melbourne, the American around New York City.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thirst Satyrday for Eros (in fiction)

Marika (a short story)

By Bob Boldt

Richard met her in a bar on St Patty’s Day. He was drawn to her strong features and wild, glowing hair back lit by the red neon of the old Miller’s Beer sign over the crowded bar. She had to be 20 years his senior and yet his calculations were made irrelevant by her inviting smile and enticing eyes. This was definitely someone worth meeting.
    His striking features and dark hair made him a confident operator with the ladies. As he sided into the empty stool to her right he actually found his confidence strangely shaken and his voice devoid of its usual self-assured tone. “A-are you a-alone,” he stammered out as he fumbled for his lighter.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

There's something about awe. I experienced it this morning watching the finches. "An Upbeat Emotion That’s Surprisingly Good for You." [Gretchen Reynolds, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thor's Day: No polite way

The Church of the Skyhook
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a heavenly move

From Wikipedia

[Daniel C. Dennett, in Darwin's Dangerous Idea*] uses the term "skyhook" to describe a source of design complexity that does not build on lower, simpler layers – in simple terms, a miracle.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Voice

Lest we forget

By Vic Midyett

Saturday was Anzac Day. Anzac Day is the day to remember fallen soldiers and past wars. In Australia, it is more celebrated and honored than Australia Day. Every memorial everywhere in Australia, no matter how small the monument or the town, will have four soldiers or cadets standing at the north, south, east, and west corners of the memorial all night long, on guard until dawn facing away from the monument, with their heads bowed. Mostly silent, haunting dawn services will be held everywhere with a lone bugler or bagpiper playing as the first rays of the sun appear.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fifth Monday Fiction

Chapter 4. Set the Hook, from the novel Far Stone

By Steve Glossin

[Editor’s Note: Chapter 2 of this unfinished novel appeared on March 21.]

The prisoner opened his eyes when he heard the key inserted into the lock at the end of the hallway. The light switch made a clicking sound when it was flipped and a glow filtered through the door seems. He sat up and waited patiently as the booted footsteps approached his cell. The steel latch opened with a clang and reverberated through the cell block like a dropped guillotine. The prisoner stood and with both arms behind his back, limped toward the door and the beam of light that penetrated the room.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle (oops: Fifth Sunday)

The Snaggletooth Murder (Chapter 2 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: First, our apologies for failing to notice that last Sunday was the fourth Sunday of the month!
    Blurb from the dust jacket: “Jim Rix takes us on a remarkable journey inside an American tragedy. He helped win his cousin’s freedom from Death Row and now he documents the chain of errors that put him there. The story will chill your belief in the American justice system. With gripping details that can only come from one who has lived the horror, Rix makes us realize that one wrongful conviction is a tragedy for us all.”
        –Bill Kurtis, producer of the A&E programs

        Investigative Reports and Cold Case Files]

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

This isn’t my usual gig, this isn’t how I work, maybe I should have said “no”

By James Knudsen

“No” never entered my head. For a number of years I’ve known that someday, this task would fall to me. I’ve had plenty of time to prepare. Whether I’ve actually used that time is another matter. But Saturday, March 28, 2005 has arrived (as of publication). Today I am the master of ceremonies for my father’s memorial service. He’s been dead for four months and now it is time to provide some closure.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In 1998, says Monica Lewinsky, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Today, the kind of online public shaming she went through has become constant – and can turn deadly. In a brave talk, she takes a look at our “culture of humiliation,” in which online shame equals dollar signs, and demands a different way. TED Talk: "The Price of Shame" [22:26].

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thor's Day: Are you an atheist?

Do you believe in fewer gods than someone else?

By Morris Dean

The definition shown to the right probably should say believes "in fewer gods" rather than "in one fewer god," but never mind. It would appear, if we looked at it strictly logically, that the only person who isn't an atheist – aside from agnostics, of course – is the one who believes in more gods than anyone else.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Ask Wednesday: James Knudsen on writing for Moristotle

Now it's 
Moristotle & Co.

Edited by Morris Dean

Towards the end of the year 2012, we approached James Knudsen about writing a guest article for what was then Moristotle, even possibly doing a regular feature for us. James is a stage actor well-versed in Shakespeare and a teacher of theater craft. The previous year, at our own high school reunion, which he and his sister attended with their father, who was a teacher of ours and is now an honorary member of our class, James mesmerized us by reciting as his parting gift Hamlet's uncle Claudius’s attempt to assuage his guilt [Hamlet III, iii].

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Rest in peace, Mike Nichols

A memory of an earlier time

By Bob Boldt
He brought fierce wit, caustic social commentary and wicked absurdity to classics such as The Graduate, The Birdcage, Angels in America, and, for the stage, Monty Python’s Spamalot, in a career that spanned six decades.
    His directorial golden touch led him to be one of only 12 people to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and numerous Tony Awards.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Review: The Lives of Others

The music, the music!

By Bob Boldt

“I know of nothing better than the Appassionata and could listen to it every day. What astonishing, superhuman music! It always makes me proud, perhaps naively so, to think that people can work such miracles!” Wrinkling up his eyes, Lenin smiled rather sadly, adding: “But I can’t listen to music very often. It affects my nerves. I want to say sweet, silly things and pat the heads of people who, living in a filthy hell, can create such beauty. One can’t pat anyone on the head nowadays, they might bite your hand off. They ought to be beaten on the head, beaten mercilessly, although ideally we are against doing any violence to people. Hm – what a hellishly difficult job!” –Maxim Gorky’s anecdote about Lenin listening to Beethoven’s Appassionata

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 2. Miguel Castro Maximum Security Prison, from the novel Far Stone

By Steve Glossin

[Editor’s Note: The opening chapter of this unfinished novel was published here on January 16.]

The 2x3 meter cell was the prisoner’s private black abyss when he lay down and let his mind wander to other places and times...A smothering coffin when his rage over betrayal and failure made him want to scream and beat his fists against the walls – but never did.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fish for Friday

To help fight a proposal to list added sugar on food labels,
the cranberry industry over the summer enlisted
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and
then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick
Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

"Food industry waging a bitter battle over proposal on added-sugar labels." [Evan Halper, LA Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thor’s Day: A holy reminder

Thou shalt not ignore the evidence

By Bob Boldt

How hard it is to change a mind based on new evidence and a reassessment. The outrage over Ferguson police conduct is valid, but let’s be honest about who Michael Brown was. Months ago a couple of white, Liberal friends on Facebook defriended me when I suggested Brown might not be a very suitable candidate for the Gandhi award. More evidence now points to the fact that Brown was indeed a bully, a thief, a thug, and not an innocent trying to surrender (hands up!) to officer Wilson. Perhaps Brown was a product of the rampant hostility largely engendered by the Ferguson police’s brutality toward their community, but it still seems that Brown gave Wilson no out but to kill him. I think the Jonathan Capehart piece in The Washington Post (“‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ was built on a lie”) pretty well sums up my conclusions after reading the Justice Department’s 86-page memorandum “...regarding the criminal investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Can older men keep their sexual response up through technique & attitude adjustment?

By Susan C. Price

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

Susan, a couple of friends and I have shared with each other that our libidos have fallen off (we are all males, of similar "mature" ages). I raised this subject with them because my slightly older single sister said she is still "very sexually active," and she likes to brag about it. I made the mistake of telling her I'm not that interested in sex anymore, and she berated me with all these stories of affairs she has with men my age, and older. She went into graphic specifics of their sexual activities, implying that it is her techniques that are wildly "successful" in the act. When I tell her I don't believe it, she says the reason is my attitude, that I think of myself as old and past it.
    I have been thinking about what she told me, but I just don't know. My friends and I don't think that sexual activity and response are simply a matter of attitude or specific "techniques." One of them was familiar with your column and suggested I ask you to help us clarify.
                            –Mature Male

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Growing up in America

Arrival in New York Harbor

By Rolf Dumke

The sky and waters were calm on Saturday, June 7th, 1952, when the Liberty ship made a slow right-turn into the panoramic view of New York Harbor.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

Orwell rebooted

By Bob Boldt

Someone recently asked me what I thought about a statement attributed to persecuted whistleblower, Thomas Drake: “If everything is a target, there is no target.” I said I thought that what he was driving at was, the bigger the haystack the harder to find the needle. When you collect everything on everybody, the amount of data is so overwhelming that anything relevant is nearly impossible to find.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Review: Citizenfour

Friends and countrymen, give me your ear

By Bob Boldt

I have spent my life making documentary films. Some of my mentors, men I have worked for, like Denis Mitchell, are now appreciated only by film historians, while others, like Studs Terkel, are better known. For over half a century I have seen some of the most amazing technical and aesthetic innovations in the area of documentary film and video. I feel as if I have seen the industry move from the stone age of production technology to the digital space age in the span of one lifetime.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet

Will and testament

By Morris Dean
Time was, we carved the cello’s Venus mound,
Composed the music for the melody,
And aged the ocher wood to free the sound
To sing the cello’s heart from memory.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fish for Friday

Brown Bear, Katmai Wilderness,
Katmai National Park and Preserve,
[Image credits: Robert Amuroso]
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

4th & 5th of 18 Photos from The Smithsonian’s “Wilderness Forever” Photo Contest

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Thor’s Day

Pentecost at Chimayó 
(a short story)

By Bob Boldt

[Foreword: Last Sunday I attended the Catholic mass memorial service for a dear friend, Tony Barnicle. As readers know, I am no fan of any organized religion. I attended the mass out of the deep love and respect I had for my old friend. I must confess to being deeply moved by nearly all forms of worship. I feel the psychic force present in all such events, be they Santeria drummings, Baptist revivals, or the Catholic mass. This service was no exception for me. About the time the communion was being served, something released a memory from three years ago when I attended another distant mass with Tony and his wife, in the Sanctuary of Chimayó in New Mexico. I subsequently described the experience in a short story. The communion liturgy last Sunday somehow brought back all the sensual experiences of that other special mass, in Chimayó.]

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About giving advice that a person can hear

Edited by Morris Dean

During the venerable run of your “Ask Susan” columns, whenever we have forwarded you a question, you have always seemed to rub your palms together in delight, often replying within only two or three days. Giving advice seems to be your métier, or calling. What do you think of that? Does it feel like a calling, or just what does it feel like to you?
    You should just know by now that i will resist any labeling whatsoever. Not my calling, just something you thought of (tho, weird, i was thinking of the same thing when you mentioned it) and i love doing it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

Midnight, our newest calf
Food & the farmer

By Bettina Sperry

“The food which was not, he causes to be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of farmers as patient creators dependent on the sun, weather, and seasons. And so it is.
    I love the work I do on my farm. I love the horses and cows that I produce. It takes many months to achieve the goodness of a single calf or foal. One of the hardships of farming is recognizing the end result of farming livestock is often the production of food. When you love your cows and calves, or sheep and goats and chickens, this isn’t a lighthearted matter.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Second Monday Music

A performing-arts intensive at the American International School of Utah

By Christa Saeger

One of the things I do besides direct orchestras in the Department of Performing Arts at the American International School of Utah, in Murray, Utah, is to help out with performing arts “intensives” for its students each trimester.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday Review: Calvary

Don't presume

By Morris Dean

St. Augustine wrote somewhere that the reader should not despair, for one of the two thieves [being crucified the same day as Jesus] was saved. Nor should the reader presume, for the other thief was damned.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thirst Satyrday for Eros (in fiction)

How the prairie got its prick
(a short story)

By Bob Boldt

“The construction of this tower and the surrounding office complex that houses the Nebraska State Capitol building was completed in 1932.”
    Vivian Albers’s voice was quiet and strong. Because of the anteroom’s acoustics, it was not necessary to project above a conversational level in order that the flock of high school sophomores could hear her. She continued, “Because of the 400-foot height of the tower, and the lack of any other competing landmark, it is not unusual for the tower to attract a large number of lightning hits, sometimes even in relatively clear weather. The architect, Bertram G. Goodhue, was a protégé of the eccentric inventor, Nicola Tesla, and was rumored to have been interested in his electrical experiments, especially those dealing with the storage and transmission of electromagnetic energy.”

Friday, March 6, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by 
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Pretty entertaining, some of the "art of snow" that people create in their front yards.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Thor's Day: Verbicide

Aristotle (384–322 BC). Roman copy after
Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC
(alabaster mantle a modern addition)
A crime of rhetorical proportions

By Kyle Garza

The best defense against the whimsical rhetorical strategies of any good prosecuting attorney is a solid understanding of Aristotle’s three appeals of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. To Aristotle’s mind, these three are ultimately what lead to a listener’s persuasion in favor of a speaker’s position. While the ethos of a speaker rests entirely in his personal character, his pathos and logos are established through the words he employs in his rhetorical attempts to persuade his audience. In matters of persuasion, all winsome speakers must sway the hearts of their audience by using diction that will appeal to their emotions (pathos) and their logical thinking (logos).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Are copies of JT: Another Mighty Midyett actually available yet?

Yes! In several formats

By Morris Dean

You ask whether copies of JT: Another Mighty Midyett are actually available yet.
    Yes, they are! As of this week, you can order paperback copies directly from the publisher, Xulon Press.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 8


By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The artist seems to have given this painting to her sister Flo Elowee Story for her birthday, for on the back, in Flo's calligraphic hand, is penned:
June 14, 1997
From DEAR Mary
My Sister