Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Oval landscape

Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

This oval landscape captures a scene adjacent to a travel park we stayed in about three years ago while driving through South Australia, near the Murray River. It is about 15" across.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The astonishing appeal of candidate Trump

Personal factors reflected in many mirrors

By Moristotle

It appears certain now that Donald Trump wouldn’t have been elected President without help from Vladimir Putin of Russia and James B. Comey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But even without winning in the Electoral College, Trump would still have gotten many millions of votes. How was that possible?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 7

The Plane Ride

By Ed Rogers

Tom took back everything he said about Finland being no colder than New York. The sun wasn’t up yet. It was that time of morning when the light of day and the dark of night seemed to be fighting each other. The wind came out of the north and it felt, as they walked to the hangar, like a thousand daggers hitting them.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Sketches from Salt Lake: Diamond of light

Sunrise poem

By Geoffrey Dean

Diamond of light
Streaming through the attic,
Dancing with the dust.

Friday, May 19, 2017

West Coast Observer: Honoré de Balzac’s Unknown Masterpiece

The President and our Congressman

By William Silveira

Before his self-recusal from the Russian/Trump Campaign investigation, our California (22nd) District’s Congressman, Devin Nunes, head of the House Intelligence Committee, made a surreptitious trip to the White House (no doubt at the bidding of the President) to collect information on what he and the President seemed to think was the burning issue before the Committee – information leaks. He did this without informing members of his own Committee. When what was obvious all along became blindingly obvious (that Nunes could not impartially lead an investigation into the issue of Russian [read Putin] meddling in the 2016 presidential election on behalf of the Trump Campaign Committee), Nunes recused himself from the investigation.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 6

How Cold Is Too Cold?

By Ed Rogers

Tom caught a plane out of Atlanta into Seattle. From Seattle, he flew over the North Pole to Helsinki, Finland. It was the long way to Finland, but the only other flights going out of Atlanta to Finland stopped in New York. He wasn’t sure how they had found him in the little town of Milton. He had no doubt the New York airports would be covered – his friends in the SUV would be all over New York looking for him.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Sunflower

“Sunflower” (detail)
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

A friend gave us some sunflower seeds that she had had for years. No one thought they would grow, but out of the entire packet, one did. Shirley painted “Sunflower” just for this friend:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Correspondence: America has a tremendous fantastic president

By Moristotle

Who’s mutinying? I don’t see any impeachment quorum forming. “Trump’s Madness Invites Mutiny” [Charles M. Blow, NY Times, May 15]. Excerpt:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 5

In Drag

By Ed Rogers

Tom was trying to fight his way out of a fog. For some reason, his eyes wouldn’t open. Somewhere overhead he heard sirens, but he couldn’t seem to get the direction right. Suddenly, his eyes popped open as though he were waking from a bad dream. Pain shot through his head like a bolt of lightning. He could still hear the sirens – they were loud and close by. They seemed to be coming from somewhere up above him. He tried to move, but his feet weren’t working right. His head cleared enough for him to realize that half of his body was in the water, and he was lying on a muddy bank. Tom used the grass growing along the creek bank for a handhold. He slowly pulled himself, hand over hand, up the muddy slope, until he had made his way out of the creek and onto dry land once more.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Poetry & Portraits: Ode to a Department Store (a poem)

By Eric Meub


Discriminate, my child! Leave cheaper wares
to bargain-basement huntresses downstairs;
let Target’s multitudes stampede or graze;
let online shoppers stalk in negligees.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 4

The Brotherhood

By Ed Rogers

The Professor lived outside of a small town in Virginia called Milford. It was still early, and there was freeway most of the way, only two hundred miles. He should be able to make the drive in a little more than three hours; he would be there long before dark. He hoped he could put the story to bed before nightfall, and take a few days off before heading to Finland.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Floating on top

By Vic Midyett

Have you noticed that some folks go through life with little depth in their thinking? I have, at times, envied them. Their minds seem so much simpler than my more busy one, and seemingly less complicated. They appear to float on top of life.
    I have, however, made another observation about them. They do not seem to feel deeply about anything much. That is not to say they don’t feel emotional pain, because they do. Their comprehension of that pain, of its cause or roots, appears to be minimal. Their need to comprehend these things, even, appears to be minimal. But still, I tend to envy them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Sailing into Sunset

“Sailing into Sunset” [detail,
with the artist’s signature three birds
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

“Sailing into Sunset” is the largest painting Shirley has ever done, about 2' x 6'. The scene is near the point where the Swan River is joined by the Canning River in Perth, Western Australia (see the image below):

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 3

A Good Story and a Pretty Girl

By Ed Rogers

Trying to decide if he wanted to drive all the way back to Maryland and his house, Tom had made it as far as the “Lucky 7,” a local bar whose only costumers were the workers from the New Daily. The brick on the wall outside said the bar had been there since 1926. From the looks of the inside Tom was sure the brick was real.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Correspondence: Particulars

By Moristotle

Whichever constitutionally sanctioned body finally undertakes to remove Trump from office, whoever argues that he is insane might use these particulars as a prompt: “Way Too Many Trumps” [Gail Collins, NY Times, May 4]. Excerpt:

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Penny for Her Thoughts: What to take, what to let go

By Penelope Griffiths

What things should you, would you keep when downsizing from your home of 17 years to a small – much smaller – apartment?
    Sounds easy, really. Just take what you need or what fits.
    Well, aside from what furniture or clothes to take, it isn’t easy, as I found out and am indeed still finding out!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Chapter 2

A Reporter Is Born

By Ed Rogers

Tom had been riding high for the twenty-four hours after the paper hit the streets. The New Daily scooped everybody, including the FBI. Their online edition had over two million hits and was still climbing. It just didn’t get any better than that. Everybody wanted to buy him drinks and shake his hand. He was now like the star of a new hit movie, titled, “Cahill Done It.”

Friday, May 5, 2017

When Ruben & Juan are deported...

...economic & human misery follow

By Shirley Skufca Hickman

Lured by the offer of a good job and a better life, Ruben entered California from Mexico illegally to work as a farm laborer. He lived here for many years, married an American citizen, and they had a son. Eager to get a green card, he collected documentation showing he was a reliable and steady employee, had paid taxes, and had no police record. His son’s pediatrician even provided a letter describing what a good father he was.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Kimberly Vastness

“Kimberly Vastness”
(detail: Boab tree)
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

A friend of ours has been wanting a painting of Shirley’s for years and finally decided what its subject should be. She is from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and part Aboriginal.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fiction: Unwanted President. Prolog & Chapter 1

& Three Days After

By Ed Rogers


Two years after the election of Theodore Allen Benton to the White House the voters were having second thoughts. Not only were there no new jobs as promised, but under Benton more companies were moving overseas and getting larger tax breaks to help pay for the move. The wars in the Middle East were raging and instead of ending the wars, Benton had sent fifty thousand more troops. The economy, which had been growing at the time of the election, was now in a tailspin with no hope of its recovering.
    Yet, in spite of all that, his party had run away with the mid-term elections. For two years already, they had controlled the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the White House. And now they were set to do it for two more years.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Correspondence: Je suis avec vous

By Moristotle

Moristotle, that verse you wrote about Trump retreating “to private room to grab your pussy,” has anyone commented that the verse presumes the generalized reader, which includes men, to have a pussy?

Monday, May 1, 2017

For the fifth anniversary of my retirement

Why I decided to retire

By Moristotle

In the final hours of overnight between Thursday and Friday, the remnants of sleep inundated me with what felt like some hidden layers of past remembrances, with feelings of loss, of shortcoming, of empathy for a few people along the way.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Missionary Kid: Pugla Walla

(Bengali for crazy man)

By Vic Midyett

[Editor’s Note: After the author submitted the story published yesterday, “I do not know him...but I respect him,” which refers to the Pugla Walla in today’s story, we discovered that he had never submitted his “Missionary Kid” story about the original Pugla Walla. Here it is, at last. And may Vic discover a few other such stories he hasn’t submitted yet!]

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thunder Down Under: I do not know him...

…But I respect him

By Vic Midyett

A few years ago I wrote a story about a “Pugla Walla” (Bengali for crazy person) in the village near our home in India in the 50’s. The villagers protected, fed, and respected him even though he was not considered “mentally normal.” This is the Indian societal way – and specifically the way of the Hindu faith – of honoring and holding in reverence every living creature.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Correspondence: Extraphenomenal

By Moristotle

Could this be just another tall tale?: “Tall story? Men and women have grown taller over last century, study shows” [Nicola Davis, Guardian, July 2016]. Excerpt:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ayard in springtime

By Moristotle

“We can go abroad, or aloft, why not ayard?” –An old book of adverbs

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: Are you in Holosync?

By Bob Boldt

[Notice: This is in no way intended as a commercial for Centerpointe, Holosync, or Bill Harris.]

Fifteen years ago, Ex-Wife #1 sent me a packet of CD’s that introduced me to an interesting system of meditation called Holosync. The promise was that you would immediately begin to “meditate as deeply (actually more deeply) than an experienced Zen monk, literally at the touch of a button.” (No kidding.) The program promised to allow you to instantly begin achieving the kind of deep meditative states formerly achieved only by adepts after years of spiritual practice. That promise seemed too good to be true, and like most similar claims, that proved to be the case.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Today is Anzac Day

Lest we forget

By Vic Midyett

[Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published for Anzac Day in 2015.]

Saturday [in 2015] was Anzac Day. Anzac Day [today this year] 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.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!

If you were alive today....

By Moristotle

If you were alive today, William Shakespeare, how would you treat Donald Trump? Would you tend toward tragedy, or farce?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: Small change and big

It can’t be denied

By James Knudsen

This year has seen a number of changes, big and small. At the national level we are continuing to see changes as a new administration goes about trying to make a great nation great again...? At the local level, the City of Tulare saw the oldest of its three high schools officially retire its mascot and all references to the name “Redskins.”

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: When the stars begin to fall

Art Institute of Chicago, original building
By Bob Boldt

In 1962, I was attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. For 13 days that October, the world was poised on the brink of universal destruction over the Cuban Missile Crisis. I remember crossing Michigan Avenue on my way to class and noticing a construction crew pouring curbing at the corner of Michigan and Monroe Streets immediately north of the Art Institute. I wondered whether, before the concrete had set, we might all be dead. The fear and apprehension was just that immediate, just that concrete in everyone’s minds.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Annual Arts Festival in Fremantle

That’s Shirley facing the camera
By Vic Midyett

Fremantle has just had its annual Arts Festival. The streets were closed off to vehicle traffic, and people spilled out of micro breweries, cafes, etc. onto the streets.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Peonies in glory

By Moristotle

I photographed my wife’s peonies in our back yard a week ago today, on April 9:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Carlin did Moses, Dawkins, and me eight better

Richard Dawkins
Revising the Ten Commandments

By Moristotle

[Author’s Note: Originally published on July 8, 2008.]

When I took Richard Dawkins up on his suggestion in The God Delusion that the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament needed updating to align them with the advances mankind has made in understanding what’s what (and what ought to be what), I rather slavishly followed him in retaining the number 10 when I developed “My ‘New Ten Commandments’.” Of course, he was only following Moses, so why not?

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: Transformation (video)

By Bob Boldt

[Editor’s Note: The text of the author’s talk delivered on April 9 to his local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, in Jefferson, Missouri, was published on March 26.]

Monday, April 10, 2017

Roger’s Reality: Why do people think the way they do?

By Roger Owens

[Editor’s Note: Today’s post launches a new recurring column. Roger tells me that he “comes up with this type of thing fairly often, and when the time is right it’s like an itch, a need to get it down on paper (so to speak) before it slips through my fingers like the proverbial sands.” Sounds as though we might expect continuing such recurrences....]

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Parquet (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub

[Originally published on January 9, 2016]


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.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Correspondence: A few curious phenomena

By Moristotle

Will warmer weather bring the birds back earlier? That’s the question on many antsy birders’ minds. “How Different Spring Migrants Decide When to Head North” [Kenn Kaufman, Audobon, March 22]. Excerpt:

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

As the World Turns: It’s the end, my friend

By Ed Rogers

It was the summer of 2021 when the ice cap covering Greenland broke apart and slid into the ocean. The tidal wave was thirty feet high. It wiped out everything on the East Coast of North America, from Canada to South America. Millions died along the US coastline, and Florida was gone. Along the gulf, there were mass evacuations.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Remembering April 4, 2014

It started with “More about creativity”

By Moristotle

Thanks to Sharon Stoner for reminding us today, by commenting, of a “Fish for Friday” column published exactly three years ago today (when April 4 was a Friday). She made this comment:
I’ve often wondered if when I die will there be anyone left who knew me. Without friends all that is left is, alone!

Movie Review: The Most Hated Woman in America

Who is Madalyn Murray O’Hair

By Moristotle

Netflix’s latest streaming release, The Most Hated Woman in America, doesn’t flatter Madalyn Murray O’Hair, nor does it flatter the religious people who hated her for “standing up” (as she put it) for the First Amendment of the Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom, including freedom not only to believe, but also not to believe. Her lawsuit, Murray v. Curlett, led to the landmark 1963 Supreme Court ruling that ended official Bible-reading in American public schools.

Monday, April 3, 2017

In Your Dreams: For real

Accurate in detail  & intensely felt

By André Duvall

I can often recall many specific details about my dreams in the first few minutes upon awaking from them. In contrast, I have spoken with several people who say that they do not remember lots of details from their dreams, or who claim to not remember dreaming much at all. Perhaps their dreams do not cause them to awaken, and thus are forgotten entirely. I likely have many of those kinds of dreams as well, the memory of which is long lost in deep slumber earlier in the night. Yet, even though I can recall details of a dream quite well for a few precious minutes, if I do not record those details, the specifics of the dream often fall away, and I can recall only generalities later in the day.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Weddings and funerals

By Roger Owens

I spent a few days at my mother’s house last week, about an hour away in Melbourne, Florida, and I will spend a few more next week. Unfortunately, Mom fell and broke her arm and can’t be alone just yet, so myself and my brothers are taking turns staying over. Ironically enough, she fell at a reunion of the Harbor City Volunteer Ambulance Squad, which has been defunct for many years, but the house was full of people who have spent their lives caring for the sick and injured and carting them to the hospital, so at least they knew what to do.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

No fooling

Spring has sprung (in the Northern Hemisphere)

By Moristotle

In Your Dreams: Swan song

With a twist

By Moristotle

I had a fascinating dream this week, perfect for recounting on the first day of a new month.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Thunder Down Under: In a quiet place

“A Quiet Place” (detail)
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

After laying off painting for a couple of months following the holidays, Shirley is back, and finds herself in a quiet place.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: The Bronze Age of Comedy

Three golden anomalies

By Bob Boldt

Bert Kreischer (aka The Machine) is a comic I just discovered (I don’t get out much) who does his routine without his shirt covering his beer belly. In what I call “The Bronze Age of Comedy,” he now stands alone with my other two anomalies, Puddles Pity Party (Mike Geier) and Louis C.K. You can keep the tapes of all the MSC’s (mainstream comics) in the Carson vault awaiting the Alien Apocalypse: Colbert, Silverman, Fallon, Kimmel, etc. – boring. All the Progressive Left have to keep themselves amused are the hyperbolic Jimmy Dore and Lee Camp. (Also very boring.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Magic (a poem)

By Roger Owens

When the leaves on the trees
Will no longer support your weight

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Cyclone Debbie

Before U.S. news reports it

By Vic Midyett

Hurricanes are called cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere. As I write this [at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday in Western Australia, or 8:45 p.m. Monday, Eastern U.S.], Cyclone Debbie is wreaking havoc already on the East Coast of Australia. The eye is not due to enter the mainland until this afternoon [after midnight Monday, Eastern U.S.]. The East Coast of Australia is already getting 120 mile/hr winds and 8 inches/hr of rain. It is currently rated a Category 4 and expected to go higher. It is huge and very slow moving. Boats, roofs, etc. are already lost.