Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fifth Saturday Fiction

Chapter 16. Santa Teresa, from the novel Boystown

By Ed Rogers

[The first-person narrator is James Hamilton, a Vietnam draft dodger and entrepreneur. In this chapter he’s flying with his friend Jay, who sometimes flies for the C.I.A., to pick up product and distribute cash. Previous excerpt, "The Hippie Experience," published here on March 15.]

Behind us the demons wrought hell on earth, but once again the jaws of death hadn’t closed fast enough. The night sky was clear and beautiful. I looked at Jay—his shirt was black from the sweat. My own shirt clung to me and sweat ran down my back, and the top of my jeans felt wet. “I’ll bet we lost ten pounds fighting that damn storm.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

What if today's papers and news stories read:
In Chiapas and Palestine armed soldiers threw down their arms, ripped off their uniforms and returned to their homes convinced they were wasting their time serving someone else's interests. Finding themselves unprotected para-military groups and assailants did the same in an unexpected act of self-esteem and love for humanity. There was confusion and bliss among many, the Zapatista and Palestinian people continued their daily work of reconstruction. Around the world belligerent armies follow the example, perplexed as to why they had waited so long when their heart was telling them all along what was the right thing to do.
    We can propose a vision, yes? –Francisco Javier Herrera Brambila

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thor's Day: Where the spirit lives

Bilingual dream work

By Ralph Earle

How we struggle to frame our dreams
in language not entirely familiar, dreams
of finding the way by car to the gathering,
or rolling secretly off a train
headed to the wrong town.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I amicably deal with my unbearable neighbors?

By Susan C. Price

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

My neighbors are making my life unbearable! They play loud music, especially on weekends, and they are always bar-b-cuing and the smoke comes over to my garden, making sitting outside very unpleasant. They are a young family with four children under 12. I know it’s hard keeping them all amused, but my husband and I are in our 60s and want a quieter life. We’ve already been there, done it, and wear the T-shirt, if you know what I mean!
    How can I approach the subject without causing an issue? We have been neighbors for five years, and up until the past summer we never had any cross words. –Neighbor

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 2

European Cityscape (detail)
Paintings out of longing

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The three paintings shown today are in the collections of the artist's grandson Stephen Denham & granddaughter Jo Condley Snyder. We thank them for permission to use them.
    Four paintings in the collections of granddaughter Dianne Condley Kapigian and great granddaughter Rayanne Kapigian were shown on July 15.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

My stepdad

By Susan C. Price

My stepdad, Lou, was dying. He had entered the Intensive Care Unit one day ago. His assigned nurse, Gene, was short, red-headed, and male. Dad and Gene appreciated each other’s sense of humor and for some reason, Gene had indicated he was gay. Lou had no problem with this. ( I was relieved. Dad’s supervision of African American’s in the war had left him uncharacteristically prejudiced.)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Review: The Assets (TV)

Not an asset to ABC

By Morris Dean

ABC started running its series The Assets early in January. My wife and I watched the first two episodes and loved the program, which is based on the career of CIA analyst Aldrich Ames and how he was identified as the mole who had sold lethal information to the Soviets in the 1980s. The CIA officers who encouraged and led the investigation, Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, wrote the book, Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames, on which the series is based.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: In praise of Augusts

Then & now

By James Knudsen

August is here! I suppose it’s everywhere else too, but here in the San Joaquin Valley it means we are enjoying the last days of summer and some of us are getting the new school year underway. I am currently in the second week of the Fall 2014 semester at Fresno City College. It wasn’t always this way.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Some more on Ferguson: "In Ferguson the violence of the state created the violence of the street." Excerpt:

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Thor's Day: Biblical guidance

One of the author's favorite scenes,
looking down from Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Thank you, Bible scholars

By Craig Johnson

I'm writing to thank Opinion Page Bible scholars for educating us regarding God's law. I share their wisdom with as many people as possible. For example, when someone defends the homosexual lifestyle, I remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly declares it an abomination. End of debate.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Why announce no column today?

Well, it's like this

By Morris Dean

A few days ago, I was talking with Susan C. Price about scheduling her upcoming "Ask Susan" columns, of which I have four ready to go. I told her I didn't have anything else for "Ask Wednesday" right now, so I guessed I'd just run those four starting today for four consecutive Wednesdays. No problem...except that I hated to just use 'em all up all that, especially since we don't have any additional questions in stock for her. (You could help with that, you know.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 4)

A miner's tale

By George Kountouris

[Sequel to "Down in the mines"]

[Foreword from Vic Midyett: We met George in his retail store in Coober Pedy, which he opens in the afternoons after spending the morning at his mine site. His wife and kids live in Adelaide, where they have another retail store. The Kountouris' website is called "Opal Now"; it is still under construction, with more product pictures coming soon.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Third Monday Musing


By Morris Dean

This column's regular host, Eric Meub, is taking a pause from musing. In the interim, we'll be using his Third Monday slot for whatever other musings might come along, keeping the slot readily available for Eric's brand of musings whenever he's ready to start again. We all look forward to his return.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Review: Labor Day

Love's labor not lost

By Morris Dean

"Labor Day" (2013, directed by Jason Reitman, starring Kate Winslet & Josh Brolin) afforded my wife and me a satisfying movie-watching experience for Friday night, courtesy of our local library.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Excerpts from Chapters 20-25 from the novel Death Mask

By Steve Glossin

[Bob Tilden and his old boss Bill Holden are in Saudi Arabia, on the trail of the mysterious, fabulously wealthy collector – The Egyptian – believed to have purchased relics stolen from the grave of Tupac Amaru, the Last Inca....]

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fish for Friday

Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 - August 11, 2014)
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The Daily Show website is doing a special on remembering Robin Williams, with a link to his recent appearances with Jon Stewart.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thor's Day: A love ethic in practice

Celebrating life by helping others

By Joel Kleinberg

Years ago I decided to make people's lives happier, not harder. So I decided I'd never write letters of complaint, but rather I'd write "the boss" only to compliment exceptional service. Here is one of many notes written over the years that can serve as a format for yours:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Donna Carney on dog rescue and transport

The Schnauzer contingent of the Carney Family
[click to enlarge]
Work from the heart

Edited by Morris Dean

Donna Carney and her husband have been helping with dog rescue in the area around Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they live, for the last couple of years. My wife and I learned about their work when we visited them in April – and were able to spend some happy time around their ménage of four miniature Schnauzers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 3)

Down in the mines

By Vic Midyett

[Sequel to "Looking around the town"]

We visited one of the opal mines that are open to the public. It wasn't in use anymore, but they try real hard to sell you the opals they have in their showroom. Their income depends on allowing tourists to wander around underground looking at all the corridors the miners made when hunting the gem.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Second Monday Music: An amateur opera

No, the reviewer, not the opera!

By Chuck Smythe

[Editor's Note: Chuck did say in his most recent character update: “Want an amateur opera review?”]

I recently attended a performance of The Marriage of Figaro at Colorado’s Central City Opera. This was, if I recall rightly, only about the eighth opera I’ve ever attended. I hope you will be entertained by the impressions of a neophyte. The location alone makes this an Experience. Central City was one of the richest of Colorado’s gold rush towns.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Review: A Most Wanted Man, Lucy, and Begin Again

2½ summer films worth seeing

By Jonathan Price

My last summer film review [July 20] apparently was a downer for some readers, who concluded I was turned off on the films I saw, and that none of them were worth seeing, which was not my point, but I’ll try not to be so opaque in this review of three films that opened recently, and each of which is definitely worth seeing, with some minor reservations about the third: A Most Wanted Man, Lucy, and Begin Again.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



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.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Robert Reich observes that what someone is paid has little or no relationship to what their work is worth to society: "Work and Worth." Excerpt:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thor's Day: A Christian-atheist conversation, Part 2

About Christianity’s non-“holy days”

By Kyle Garza & Morris Dean

[Sequel to “About animal rights]

Kyle: Morris, you claimed in this column on June 5 (“Value experience for its own sake: It’s an art”) that a second flaw of Christianity is that it devalues experience that doesn’t occur on the “holy days.” You wrote that it implicitly demotes days that aren’t sabbaths (or Saint’s days, or other religious holidays) to a lesser status.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I stop lying?

By Susan C. Price

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

I keep telling lies! I can’t help myself, I’ve always done it – even as a small boy. But now that I’m in my thirties it’s becoming a big problem!
    I lie about trivial things like how many sugars I’ve put in someone’s coffee, and I tell serious lies with regards to work, like having had an appointment with a client when I haven’t! It’s only a matter of time before I can’t cover my tracks and will be fired. I have changed jobs every two to three years because of this but I’ve now met a wonderful girl and want to settle down, get married, and have a family.
    So far I haven’t lied to her but I’m sure I will in time if I don’t get help. –Not Lying

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 2)

Looking around the town

By Vic Midyett

[Sequel to "The opal capital of the world"]

We began to explore and found an underground Greek Serbian orthodox church dug out by the Greek community many years ago, probably in the 1950s, and, as we were given to understand, mostly built by Italians. It is still an active church:

Monday, August 4, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

The Rogers, going with the odds
Sorry I left you believing Janie had Parkinson's Disease. We were told a couple of months ago by our neurologist in Costa Rica that she didn't have PD, and we wanted to wait until we saw our doctor in the States and she had an MRI before sharing that happy news.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Review: Winged Migration

In memoriam the birds that didn't made it

By Morris Dean

Our local public library system doesn't have the two Disneynature films The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (2008) or Wings of Life (2011), which I mentioned in my July 6 review of Earth and Oceans. But it does have the 2001 documentary Winged Migration (directed by Jacques Cluzaud, Michel Debats, and Jacques Perrin, having no affiliation with Disney), which showcases the immense journeys routinely made by birds during their migrations. And it's a beautiful, eerie film.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Visual images

How are they erotic?

By Susan C. Price

I don't personally see any of my drawings as erotic, they are just about the shapes and light and dark and what I can see. Well, when a model is facing their crotch to me, I draw what I can see. We rarely get male models, unfortunately.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In a fish last Friday, one of your writers was accurate in mentioning the problems that started in 1954 with the CIA engineered overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala. Referencing that one act, however, barely scratches the surface of what Americans have done to Central America over the decades. The excerpt linked to here from the book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit that Changed the World, by Dan Koeppel, references what American commerce and firepower began doing to the region more than 100 years ago.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 2

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

Little Johnny and his family were having Sunday dinner at his Grandmother's house. Everyone was seated around the table as the food was being served. When Little Johnny received his plate, he started eating right away. "Johnny! Please wait until we say our prayer," said his mother.
    "I don't need to," the boy replied.
    "Of course, you do" his mother insisted. "We always say a prayer before eating at our house."
    "That's at our house," Johnny explained. "But this is Grandma's house and she knows how to cook."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I approach my girlfriend about the weird sounds she makes in bed?

By Susan C. Price

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

I’ve been with my girlfriend for five months and love her to bits - apart for one issue that’s causing me grief: When we are in bed making love she makes weird sounds, one like a cat being strangled, and not quietly either!! The other night in the middle of sex I “lost my desire” because she was so loud and off-putting!
    As it’s so early in our relationship, I don’t know how to approach this without her feeling I’m criticizing her in bed. Help! What do I do! –Troubled Man

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Coober Pedy (Part 1)

The opal capital of the world

By Vic Midyett

My sister, Anita, was coming from Perth, Western Australia, to visit me and Shirley in South Australia, and we all wanted to see Coober Pedy, which is sometimes referred to as the "opal capital of the world" because of the quantity of precious opals that are mined there.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Review: Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book (novel)

It deserves a wide audience

By William Silveira

I much enjoyed reading Shirley Skufca Hickman’s latest novel, Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book, as I did her previously published novel, Sarah Darlin’, and Don’t Be Give Up, an autobiographical story of the author’s childhood in the then coal mining town of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: In memoriam Elaine Stritch

Wishing to be her

By James Knudsen

Lost in the media frenzy following the loss of Malaysian Airlines, Flight 17, was the news that the world of theatre had lost one of its true greats. Elaine Stritch died July 17, 2014 at her home in Birmingham, Michigan. She was 89.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

To understand the influx of children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, it helps to understand U.S. military, trade, and drug policies. News stories say the children are fleeing violence. What made those countries violent? The answers are complex, but we could start with the 1954 CIA-engineered coup of a democratically elected government in Guatemala. The dictatorship that followed received continued U.S. military funding even after it turned genocidal force against the rural Mayan population in the 1980s...."Our collective complicity."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thor's Day: Get ready to meet Jesus

We can make you look pretty

By Morris Dean

If you're an older Southerner (and spent much time in church those years ago), do you

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I tell if I’m gay, and can I change it?

By Susan C. Price

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

Please help! I am a 17-year-old girl and I think I’m gay. I have never felt comfortable with boys on the kissing front, but I get on great with them for sports, etc. My parents would have a fit if they thought I was gay. I’ve heard them say things about famous people who are gay, and it’s not good! How can I tell if I’m gay and can I change it? –Girl

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday Voice: In editorial cartoons

Drawing right conclusions

By Vernon Dewayne Voss

[Editor's Note: After I learned that my cousin Vern Voss has a trove of editorial cartoons, I asked to use some in our "Fish for Friday" column. Much of Vern's work is devoted to expressing his conservative political views and his reading of the Bible, so the ones shown here are more representative than the ones we felt comfortable selecting for fish....To be continued at the bottom...]

Monday, July 21, 2014

Third Monday Musing

Eric Meub is away
In retrospect

Edited by Morris Dean

Eric Meub is away on architectural assignment. It's a good occasion for us to catch up with his musings and return to any of his previous columns we may have missed or just wish to savor again:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Review: Five films for Summer

Across the genres:
from the mythical west to the dystopian future

By Jonathan Price

The films A Million Ways to Die in the West, Chef, Palo Alto, Locke, and The Rover represent ones I’ve seen within the last month, and they merit some attention, even if you decide not to see them. But each seems to represent a different genre, or a different tendency in filmmaking, and a different tendency of some creative people to move off in new directions, but most still remain disappointing in some way.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 1 from Fall in Love with an Orange Tree or a Book

By Shirley Skufca Hickman

Balancing on her ladder, seventeen-year-old Elena Hernandez clipped the stem of another orange and dropped it into the canvas bag slung across her body. Stopping to rest, she glanced past the orange grove to a cotton field and beyond to a grape vineyard bordered by valley oaks and eucalyptus trees. The merciless California sun beat down at midday, making her hot and uncomfortable.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The lead paragraph of the following story states that Raju's rescue is giving the world something to smile about: "Raju the Elephant Cries Tears of Joy While Being Rescued From 50 Years of Captivity." While I am glad, I'm more inclined to weep with Raju for the life he was forced to endure. Excerpt:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy humor 1

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

The preacher's 5-year-old daughter noticed that her father always paused and bowed his head for a moment before starting his sermon. One day, she asked him why.
    "Well, Honey," he began, proud that his daughter was so observant of his messages, "I'm asking the Lord to help me preach a good sermon."
    "How come He doesn't answer it?" she asked.

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Shelly Hall on the operation of local transit systems

Public systems need private help

Edited by Morris Dean

At our next-door neighbors’ first birthday party for their twin boys this spring, I was pleased to strike up a conversation with Shelly Hall, who is the Vice President for Safety and Security at the French-held company Veolia. In the United States, Veolia provides public transit management services to transit agencies. The company currently has over 70 contracts in the US and Canada.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 1

Painted from an unknown scene in an art book (8" x 10")
Paintings from life

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: Three of the paintings shown today are in the collection of the artist's granddaughter Dianne Condley Kapigian, and one is in her great granddaughter Rayanne Kapigian's collection. We thank mother & daughter for permission to use them.
    Mary Alice Condley was the eldest sister of the editor.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Second Monday Music: Movement in musical performance

More than meets the eye

By André Duvall

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the release by Virgin Records of Roy Orbison’s final album, Mystery Girl, which went public a few months after his death in December of 1988. He was first signed in Memphis, Tennessee by Sun Records, just a few minutes from where I live. Orbison’s voice is markedly different from most voices I have heard, lending a haunting and warm quality to his music. Elvis once said that Orbison’s voice was one of the most beautiful voices that he had ever heard. Others have described his voice as sounding otherworldly, operatic, and powerful.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



It’s nearly bedtime, but I’m seeing shapes
Beyond the window, on a hill of grapes.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fish for Friday

Pinus Gaudensis, Ponderosa Pine buds
(photo by Ed Schmahl)
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

What a beautiful display of mountain flowers, last night I watched Nature on TV; it is amazing how a variety of animals work together in large groups to protect themselves from predators.