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Monday, October 18, 2021

10 Years Ago Today: It adds up

By Moristotle

[Originally published on October 18, 2011.]

Yesterday afternoon I mentioned to a friend who lives down the street that on Saturday, while waiting on our daughter and son-in-law’s boat at the Coyote Point Marina (until it was time to go to San Francisco International Airport for our overnight flight home), we watched The Sum of All Fears. It was the first, and we hope it won’t be the last, Tom Clancy movie with Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan (and Bridget Moynahan as the supposedly future Mrs. Jack Ryan; she’s Police Commissioner Frank Reagan’s daughter Erin in Blue Bloods).
    I got excited when my friend said there was a sequel.
    “Have you seen it yet?” I asked eagerly. “What’s its title?”
    “Haven’t seen it, but it’s called ‘The Fear of All Sums.’ For people with a math phobia.”
    Zing! My witty friend had me again, for the what-teenth time I’m unable to say.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

All Over the Place:
Sometimes She Wakes to War

By Michael H. Brownstein

Sometimes she wakes to war
thinking flares of thunder, echoes of lightning,
a grand thunderstorm rattling her windows,
a hurricane, wind swept and damp with sand

violent like the breaking of oyster shells under foot,
an earthquake and the wrinkling of mortar,
collision of brick, the heavy breathing of a survivor.
Then she remembers who she is.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Couple of Maroons:
A River Runs Through

Detail from
second photo
By Craig McCollum & Maik Strosahl

While Craig is working on an upcoming post, I am trying to beat our deadline before leaving for a family vacation, so I grabbed a couple of Craig’s photos and ran with it. —Maik
    A River Runs Through It was the last film in a theater that I went to with my father. And we didn’t really have a history of going to movies. When we were kids, I remember going to see Bambi when it came around in the ’70s. Then there was a carload night in the early ’80s with a double feature that included an updated Lone Ranger. I had to sleep through the second feature because by then I had a paper route and would have to wake up early to do the deliveries. That was it. Until 1992’s A River Runs Through It.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

439 Years Ago Today
was NOT October 14

Pope Gregory XIII
It was October 4
(by the Julian Calendar)

By Moristotle

Tomorrow will be the 439th birthday of the Gregorian Calendar, which was adopted in October 1582, in order to correct a problem with the Julian Calendar’s calculation of the average year as having 365.25 days.The Wikipedia entry on the Julian Calendar explains the problem:

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Meeting the Boss

By Maik Strosahl

Four stops. Just three deliveries and one pickup in Nebraska before heading for 34 hours with the family and starting it all over again on Monday. And it began as just another Saturday in the life of a Werner-dedicated driver working the Dollar General account, but somehow it became quite a memory.

Monday, October 11, 2021

From the Alwinac:
  Sounds of Bulgaria:
  The Music of Lazar Nikolov

[Click on image to
go directly to
the Alwinac’s home page
[The Alwinac blog is part of the schroeder170 project, honoring the life and musical career of cellist Alwin Schroeder (1855-1928) and exploring the history of cello playing in the US.]

It was a world beyond anything I had yet experienced or imagined. When I recall it, the sounds come back to me first. I hear the spontaneous burst of vibrant applause of the passengers around me, most of them returning to Bulgaria for the first time in many years, triggered by the bump of the wheels of that aging 747 touching down on the tarmac in Sofia thirty years ago. I hear the tra-ka-ta tra-ka-ta tra-ka-ta of the yellow trams rattling along the tracks, competing with birdsong in the center of Sofia as the day begins. I hear the rush of water as the fountains in front of the National Palace of Culture or the National Theatre or the National Bank begin to spray. And I hear people, people waiting in ill-defined lines to buy banitsa or pay bills, the phrase “tuk ne e Amerika” (here isn’t America) often catching my ear.
    There was music too. The resounding intonations of the priest and the harmonious hymns of the hidden balcony choir at the neighborhood church, the infinite repetitions of conscientious piano practicers wafting through open apartment windows, the pay-per-piece performances of street musicians ranging from fiddle players scraping folk tunes as their trained bears danced to classical musicians traversing concertos and chaconnes before heading to rehearsal at Bulgaria Hall. I never knew where or when I would run into a particular Bulgarian bagpipe player on the streets of Sofia, but he was out there most days throughout my 23 years there, improvising to the clanging accompaniment of his strategically-placed bell belt.
Read on….

Copyright © 2021 by Geoffrey Dean

Sunday, October 10, 2021

All Over the Place: My Resting Place among the Branches

By Michael H. Brownstein

This is the way of the seed of the locust,
the grass frog, the tiny peeper.

I built this room from ripped cedar shakes and cardboard,
soft adhesives, silver spun nails, crucifix screws

Light enters the room through tears in the netting,
disfigured branches, salt and weed.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Goines On: Raging

Click image for more vignettes
Goines’ bedtime thoughts for two nights were topsy-turvy and frustrating, owing mainly to his inability to hold intermediary thoughts in short-term memory.
    “Frustrating” hardly captured it. During the second night (after the incident of the empty sheriff’s car with its engine running) he groggily thought he had pieced together the characteristics of the 2200 bumped cycle, but he wasn’t sure, because it apparently wasn’t 40 years long (like the 2100 bump). 
    The morning after that second night, now awake and able to jot done stuff, he went over (and over) his nighttime finding for the 2200 bumped cycle and found that it was 28 years long, which seemed odd, because that was the same number of years as the standard 28-year cycle. Goines slogged on to the end of the 2001–2400 calendar period, taking notes as he went.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Goines On: Goines off and on

Click image for more vignettes
Goines was walking very slowly this morning. He had been moving very slowly since getting out of bed. Partly, he thought, it was because he had dropped one of the Goineses’ Villeroy & Boch saucers onto the floor the previous afternoon, and he worried about his grip. The saucer had just slipped from his hands while he was trying to serve Mrs. Goines her tea. He hadn’t dropped a dish of glass or ceramic onto the floor – that he could recall – and he didn’t want to do it again, anymore than he wanted to launch another coffee carafe to smithereens. He was moving very slowly.
    Goines was also tired from lying awake during the night trying to figure out the bump at the year 2200 for the 400-year cycle beginning with the year 2001.
    Even though Goines had, finally – he thought – figured the bump out during the night, he was still tired, very tired.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Goines On: 2021 or 2001?

Click image for more vignettes
Goines thought he should first explain to the prospective 12-year-old programming whiz that his personal mnemonic
        “Mi Ki Ko Ranch” rattles Miquel
had been chosen for practical reasons, because it represented Goines’ present year, 2021. The kid might think it made more sense for a program to use the year 2001 – it seemed cleaner somehow... unless he or she chose to use 2021 as a way of attributing Goines  which Goines would have to agree would be nice.
    Of course, the kid wouldn’t bother with the mnemonic to remember the day of the corresponding month in whatever year he or she chose to base the app on. The kid’s program would just save the string of numbers indicating the day of each month on which the first Sunday fell on. For 2021:
        3-7-7   4-2-6   4-1-5   3-7-5
        January 3, February 7, March 7, April 4, etc.
    For 2001: 
        7-4-4   1-6-3   1-5-2   7-4-2
        January 7, February 4, March 4, April 1, etc. 
    As it happened, the year 2001 had the same relative sequence, just different days. The sequence was “relative” in the sense that each day of the month for 2001 was shifted 3 days earlier (or 4 days later, arithmetically speaking) than for 2021. For example, 3 days sooner than January 3 would be January 0, or January 7; 3 days sooner than February 7 and March 7 would be February 4 and March 4.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Highways and Byways: Big Boy

My 50th Post

By Maik Strosahl

When I first started the Highways and Byways column, I was a bit worried I would not be able to keep up with the weekly schedule. I did miss one week, but have had fun working with all of the Moristotelians. For my 50th post, I am going to share something a bit different.
    I was relaxing with my wife one recent Monday afternoon, preparing to leave for another week behind the wheel of my truck, when she saw a notice that a special train was coming to Jefferson City. We checked the schedule and realized we could wait for the boys to get home from school and go down to where the the train would spend the night.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Reflections on a Hugging Sestina

Photo by @MichelleEvansArt
By André Duvall

[Note from Moristotle: When I asked André to please read and comment on a sestina I had written, his response was so thoughtful I asked him for permission to share his response publicly. The sestina appeared yesterdayI wrote it in September of last year, the same month André wrote his reflections, and I presented it to Dennis & Jan Huggins in October.]

I wanted to wait to comment on your sestina until after I had time to re-read it slowly and savor it. I do believe it “approaches perfection,” as you yourself felt. What a wonderful tribute to your friends – I feel the poem is successful on many levels:

Monday, October 4, 2021

Romance of the Huggins, in Sestina

they worked,
raised family,
By Moristotle

In gratitude to my neighbors and friends Dennis Huggins and his wife, Jan (née Mayberry) Huggins, for a handsome house-number sign they had made for my wife and me, I composed this sestina in September last year and presented it to them in recitation and by framed printed copy. The Huggins kindly gave me permission to post the sestina here.

It was of course his fam’ly, Dennis’s,
that gave his wife her surname. And so, Jan,
for better (not worse), is ‘Huggins’ in life.
Together they raised family, kept house,
retired together to almost daily walks
with their Betty Lou, who joined them in their garden.

Their hands together worked: In the garden
digging, hoeing, raking, tilling, Dennis
maybe more the heavy stuff. On their walks,
either’s hand holds leash of Betty Lou. Jan’s
hands may be the ones do most inside the house,
as they did with children too – such is life.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

All Over the Place: Trigonometry

From My Teaching Book

By Michael H. Brownstein

Today my fourth-grade class and I studied the cosine of an angle. I had recently won a grant to purchase very expensive trigonometry books. Didn’t know what to do with them. Fourth-grade teacher. So, I decided, Why not? I decided to work on a formula near the tome’s beginnings – cos (a) = a/h. Much to my amazement, the class stuck to it and tried and tried and helped each other and really worked their way through the problems.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Iceage (a novel):
Chapter 4. Russians’ Camp

A work in progress.
Chapters will be posted
as they are written.
While I was packing, Mary came into our quarters with Anna, who ran up and wrapped her arms around my leg. Coming nearer, Mary asked, “You going someplace?”
    I picked Anna up and gave her a kiss. “Go play now. Mama and daddy need to talk.” I placed her on the floor and she took off like a bullet to her room.
    Pushing two pairs of socks into the side pocket of my pack, I said, “I have to go to the Russians’ Camp. They killed one of our locals, and if I can’t work it out with them, there’ll be a war and we’ll be right in the middle of it.”

Friday, October 1, 2021

20 Octobers Ago: We Slept
with Windows Open (a poem)

“Alive, Alive!”
By Moristotle

[Written that October in 2001, originally published on July 3, 2006, without an image, a few weeks after the birth of Moristotle the blog. Reading it always rekindles in me the wondrous hum of the night it describes.]

We slept with windows open all the night
The day I sold or gave my books away.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Susan’s Stuff:
Mind, Memories & Hips

Detail from “Anxious Magpie”
By Moristotle

Hear this! “Mind, Memories & Hips,” a big art show of the work of Columnist Emeritus Susan C. Price, is underway through October 15 at The Artists’ Gallery (TAG), on Museum Row, at 5458 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. From TAG's website:
Susan Price paints with acrylic and oil sticks on paper and canvas. Her abstract forms come from a figurative base that may or may not be visible, letting the audience dictate the open interpretation. Her work has been featured in juried shows at Barnsdall Park, LA Municipal Gallery, Gallery 825, Laemmle Theaters, and different venues via Women Painters West.
    Price has studied art formally since 1963, at Pitzer College, UCLA, & UCLA Extension, with an emphasis on private workshops. She is involved as a member with Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825, Women Painters West, and FIG Gallery.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Highways and Byways:
The Pickle Bucket Drummer

By Maik Strosahl

Mom didn’t buy us clothing that had logos on them, but she knew I liked baseball at an early age and bought me a dark blue shirt with the shape of a man holding a bat to his shoulder, one word below spelling “Sox.” If she had realized that stood for the Chicago White Sox, I am sure it would have stayed on the store shelf.
    Dad wasn’t a fan of organized sports, so I didn’t get to go to my first MLB game until I was a teenager, and I didn’t get to choose the place, tagging along with friends to the friendly confines of the Northsiders.
    By the time I finally got to go to a White Sox game, it was in New Comiskey Park, opened in 1991.
    Baseball on the Southside of Chicago is more gritty. I remember parking on the west side of the railroad tracks and walking under the old bridge to the game, while unofficial vendors would try to sell you souvenirs, food, and beverages, and musicians would play for tips. Everything would echo under that bridge.
    I tried several times to write something about my favorite of these musicians, the pickle bucket drummers. It wasn’t until a couple years back, after reconnecting with a junior high friend and drummer, Jeff Dick, that I was able to make it work. I remember listening to the 40 rudiments of drumming on YouTube, just to find the drum strokes that captured the sounds I was hearing.
    I hope you can put yourself there on 35th Street, see the crowds excitedly heading to the game, and hear all the action from under that bridge as you read “The Pickle Bucket Drummer.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Correspondence: Sacrosanct ideas

And other questionable things

Edited by Moristotle

[Items of correspondence are not attributed; they remain anonymous. They have been chosen for their inherent interest as journalism, story, or provocative opinion, which may or may not be shared by the editor or other members of the staff of Moristotle & Co.]

You must read this – the obituary “John Shelby Spong, 90, Dies; Sought to Open Up the Episcopal Church” [NYT, September 19]. It says that “Spong called on Christians to reject sacrosanct ideas like Jesus’ virgin birth and the existence of heaven and hell.” Excerpts:
Through more than 25 books, as well as…Bishop Spong urged his church to reconcile with modernity, even if that meant setting aside supernatural ideas like Jesus’ resurrection….
    Bishop Spong became a national celebrity in the mid-1980s, when he began calling on the church to reconsider its position on gay rights. He urged his colleagues not only to accept openly gay clergy, but also to welcome openly gay and lesbian worshipers into their congregations and to bless same-sex unions....
    ...He taught that the Gospels should be considered artistic interpretations of Jesus’ life, not literal accounts of it, and he called on Christians to reject ideas, like original sin, that could not be explained by science....
    As a white progressive minister in the South during the civil rights era, he often found himself at odds with his community, especially when he insisted on preaching to Black congregations. He and his family faced regular threats and harassment, and he later claimed that the Ku Klux Klan of eastern North Carolina had labeled him their No. 1 enemy.
Well, if you ask me (and you didn’t), here are my two cents on the President’s speech last night [September 9]: 
    It was a hell of a good speech and about time. The funny thing is, right after the speech came the World News on ABC. David Muir covered the speech but added his own interpretation. He kept saying that Biden ordered most of this and most of that. 
    Biden never used the word “most.” He said flat out that if you wanted to work for the government you will get a shot or you will not work for the government. That includes anyone that gets money from Medicare; like hospitals and nursing homes.
    I don’t know how you feel about it, but the virus has cost me a year of life and now these [people, expletive deleted] that will not take a shot are costing me another. We have very few years to lose, and these two we’ll never get back. The schools in Desoto Co. [Mississippi] are opened back up for the 3rd time, still no mask mandate, so it will not be long till they close again. Stupidest [expletive deleted] people in this world.

Until now I hoped I was the only person with a Trumpist neighbor actually crazy enough to threaten to kill someone because they supported Biden. But I’m not: “Texas Man Arrested After Allegedly Killing Woman, Shooting Her Husband Because They Voted for Biden” [Ally Mauch, People Magazine, September 13]. Excerpt:
On Sept. 8, the El Paso Police Department SWAT team and detectives arrested Joseph Angel Alvarez — nearly a year after Georgette Kauffmann was killed and her husband Daniel Kaufmann’s was shot, police said in a press release issued last week. Alvarez, 38, is currently incarcerated at a county detention facility after his bail was set at $2 million for the murder of Georgette and $500,000 for the aggravated assault of Daniel.
    The couple was attacked in their El Paso home on Nov. 14 last year, one week after Biden was declared the winner over incumbent President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
This salute was posted on Nextdoor, a local site for lost animals and the like:
HATS OFF TO OFFICER BENNY. High speed chase this morning and he threw spike stripes out. Very Dangerous but to see officers in action is emotional for me. They try very hard and so many get a bad rap. I just want to thank all of our Southaven Police Officers!
The saluter forgot to add that the car ran into a pole after its tires blew: “Man charged after fleeing from officers with 6-year-old daughter in car, deputies say” [Newsbreak, September 15]. Thankfully no one was hurt. Excerpt:
Tuesday around 8:30 a.m., DeSoto County Sheriff’s Deputies said they attempted to stop a white Infiniti SUV on Church Road near Highway 51 in Southaven, Miss., for a traffic violation. The driver refused to stop and continued east on Church Road to Getwell. DCSD said the vehicle was known to flee from law enforcement and had done so several times recently.
    Southaven Police Officers put down stop sticks and blocked traffic to help keep the public safe. [They] used a tactical vehicle intervention to stop the SUV...the suspect’s vehicle caught fire...[They] rescued the suspect’s six-year-old daughter, who was in the vehicle during the pursuit.
Stupid people are everywhere apparently, not just where I live. Amazing that more people aren’t killed when idiots try to drive away from the police and ignite high-speed chases.
    With all the trackers and electronics on vehicles that show how it was being driven over a period of days, where it has been, etc, why isn’t there a remote, computer controlled kill switch? That way police could make a phone call, enter a code, and ZAP! the vehicle would be shut down. No heroics necessary, no innocent victims injured or killed.

Public health measures
to prevent the spread
of COVID-19 have
decreased RSV activity
Just when you think you can go back into the swimming pool, a turd floats pass: “A Deadly Virus Is Spiking In Mississippi, And It’s Not Covid” [Matt Lillywhite, Newsbreak, September 18]. Excerpt:
The CDC has issued a serious warning about a virus in Mississippi with similar symptoms to COVID-19. It’s known as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and luckily, hospitals in Mississippi are well-prepared to fight it.
    RSV, like Covid-19, is primarily spread by respiratory droplets caused by coughing or sneezing and direct contact with a contaminated surface. It’s also the leading cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under the age of one in Mississippi and several other states.
    RSV infections are most frequent in the United States during the autumn and winter. However, due to the deployment of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, RSV activity decreased substantially in 2020.
Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle

Monday, September 27, 2021

From the Alwinac:
  On This Day in 1891:
  Schroeder Arrives in the US

[Click on image to
go directly to
the Alwinac’s home page
[The Alwinac blog is part of the schroeder170 project, honoring the life and musical career of cellist Alwin Schroeder (1855-1928) and exploring the history of cello playing in the US.]

Listen to David Popper’s Adagio, Op. 65, No. 1, published in 1891 and dedicated to Alwin Schroeder

130 years ago [September 22], Alwin Schroeder and his family arrived in New York on the SS Aller from Bremen. In the passenger list, Schroeder is described as “artist of music.” The youngest of his three children was just 7 months old at the time. He and his family settled in at 8 Myrtle St. in Brookline, MA, renting a 600-square-foot house that still stands today.
    One of the questions I was asked by his relatives when visiting Alwin-related places in Germany was why Alwin Schroeder left Germany at all. I don’t think he really wanted to leave. If there had been a suitable position in Dresden or Berlin at the time, I am convinced that he would have stayed. As it was, he was likely more enticed by the idea of where he was going, by the thought of expanded professional horizons. Pianist Jan Ignace Paderewski, who came to the US for the first time that same year (1891), put it like this: “America, then as now, was a ‘promised land’ to all European artists, a land of fantastic and fabulous legend, with money and appreciation flowing out to meet the artist from the great and lively and generous American public.” (Paderewski, Memoirs, p. 188)
Read on….

Copyright © 2021 by Geoffrey Dean

Sunday, September 26, 2021

All Over the Place:
The Big Party

By Michael H. Brownstein

There was no elephant in the room,
only a pimple that just now sprouted
exactly one hour before the biggest party ever
and there it was in her mirror, big as her nose,
off to the right another face on her forehead,
so big she wanted to scream.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Acting Citizen: Auditioning (Part 1)

By James Knudsen

“Once more into the breach.”
    The famous words that propelled Henry’s forces against the walled town of Harfleur. This time it’s a far less heroic task, auditioning.
    In recent years, auditioning has become something I’m rarely asked to do. This has nothing to do with my fame, I have none. Nor my talent, I have only a little more of that. It is the result of the people casting shows knowing my work. The people involved with the group I auditioned for this past weekend may have seen my work, but their policy is, “everyone auditions.”

Friday, September 24, 2021

Roger’s Reality:
The Camper Saga, Part 2

By Roger Owens

So, when you buy a boat, or a camper, first you really check it out, figure out how things work, and then it’s time to try out your new toy. We called it a “shake-down cruise,” in keeping with the nautical theme. Cruises plural, rather. On three short trips we learned that the swaying of the trailer was a bit uncomfortable, between the wind and the big rigs blowing by the old farts doing 63 in the camper. We’re not in a hurry. I have driven many trailers, but none with this high of a profile. We call it being “under sail,” because, buddy, the wind and the truckers’ slipstreams are pushing you around like a sailboat whether you like it or not. Of all the crap we’ve packed, we sort out what we’ll really need and what we can ditch back at the house. Once home, I purchase a sway brace and install it on the trailer. It works. Lesson One learned.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Goines On: Ringing

Click image for more vignettes
Goines was late putting out bird seed one morning. He had maundered during breakfast, thinking dreamy apple thoughts, and missed the time by which he usually had their seed out.
    As he raised the silhouette shade over the door from the kitchen onto the back porch, he fantasized – he hoped – that some birds were watching, waiting until he brought out their treats. He hoped they now noticed the shade being raised and were beginning to announce the event. Goines imagined them tweeting, “He’s coming, he’s coming!” Did each species have its own sentinel?

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Highways and Byways:
The Prospector

By Maik Strosahl

Eureka! Since 1849, this word has appeared on the California seal. It comes from the Greek and means “I have found it.” For many years, the word was probably used to refer to the discovery of gold, but as many more followed the 49ers to the coast, it also came to mean they had found paradise: the land of the sun and endless beaches.
    Yet, today, even though the state is a leader in per capita income, it also has 13% of its population living in poverty and more homeless than the next three leading states combined.
    It seems that the heaven many thought they had found has lost its luster, yet there are still those who dream of finding a nugget and striking it rich, those who still keep searching for gold in them thar hills.

In the shadows of buildings
growing wild along Riverside,
the old man
scoops another pie tin
full of dust,
swirls it around,
eyes desperate
for a glint of hope.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Adventures from Bulgaria:
Gifts of Spring

By Valeria Idakieva

At the height of Summer, as the heat waves were roasting most of the greenery around us, I was reminiscing about the exquisite flowers, tender colours, and superb views that Spring was gifting us with in the higher mountains, where the heralds of Spring were following on the heels of the withdrawing snow and frost,

Monday, September 20, 2021

From “The Scratching Post”:

By Ken Marks

[Originally posted on The Scratching Post, September 18. Republished here by permission of the author.]

Mr. Dinkel taught me all about axioms in my high school geometry class. You begin with a set of self-evident truths – axioms – and from them you derive all the complex postulates of Euclidean geometry! I was astonished that so much knowledge could be derived simply by using logic.
    Much later it occurred to me that each person is a kind of Euclid. Each of us comes to see the world as a set of self-evident truths and, consciously or unconsciously, each of us extrapolates a worldview from them. The difference is only this: when Euclid stated that the shortest distance between two points on a flat surface is a straight line, he was irrefutably correct. Our axioms, however, are different. They are self-evident truths to each of us but not necessarily to our neighbors, who have their own sets of axioms. And here’s the fascinating bit: the lack of a consensus about personal axioms does nothing to weaken our convictions about their truth. That’s one of my axioms – what you might call a “meta-axiom.” It makes coexistence challenging.

[Read the whole thing on The Scratching Post.]

Copyright © 2021 by Ken Marks
Ken Marks was a contributing editor with Paul Clark & Tom Lowe when “Moristotle” became “Moristotle & Co.” A brilliant photographer, witty conversationalist, and elegant writer, Ken contributed photographs, essays, and commentaries from mid-2008 through 2012. Late in 2013, Ken birthed the blog The Scratching Post. He also posts albums of his photos on Flickr.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

All Over the Place:
The Bad Luck Child

By Michael H. Brownstein

did not know the scar was a charm grafted to the sole of his foot:
he did not die.
In time he met the mascara-faced man
and the woman with the tattooed smile.
He sampled war,
his day brightened with the first snow,
his scar changed color with the thaw,
but he could not understand its purple and green,
its red to yellow,
the fold of skin at his heel,
the fractures of bent toes and injured toenail.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

A Couple of Maroons:
Making a Big Splash

Detail from “Sun Glass”
By Craig McCollum & Maik Strosahl

[Editor’ Note: Today we launch a new column, under the byline of Columnist Maik Strosahl and his guest, Craig McCollum.]

This isn’t about me, Maik Strosahl.
    I was an awkward teen – I mean who wasn’t? But maybe I was a bit farther left field than most. I was the one who thought it would be funny for my friends and me to put Hostess wrapper characters in our Velcro wallets and flash them at people as if they were some special badge for a secret society. I was the one who wrote a satire called “The Cabbage Patch Massacre,” about a crazed German student who went around shredding 1982’s must-have Christmas present, making cole slaw and sauerkraut out of their stuffing. When that handwritten masterpiece got lost being passed around from student to student, I wrote the sequel. I encouraged a few brave classmates to stand on the street corner at lunch, pulling up our pantlegs to show passing cars our ankles, just trying to get reactions. And after reading the classic 1984, I decided it needed a sequel too, and created “1994,” where Big Momma was defeated by Veto Bomb Missiles – hidden in plain view as tubes of Aim toothpaste on billboards.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Goines On: The bumps

Click image for more vignettes
Over several days, Goines further cogitated the “bump problem” that arose when a 00 non-leap year came along and interrupted the standard 28-year cycle, with its pattern of 61-11-62-5 sub-cycles. He believed he could specify a pattern for the 400-year stretches as well, each one comprising three 00-years that aren’t leap years.
    He had already traced the 61-11-62-5 sub-cycles back to 1909, within 8 years of the 1900 non-leap year, and up to 2099, where the 61-11-62 portion of 28-year cycle butted up against the 2100 non-leap year. He now needed to examine that bump at 2100, and the bumps at 2200 & 2300 as well.
    By specifying how the 28-year cycles were interrupted at those bumps, he would have defined the 400-year pattern from 2021 through 2420, and it would repeat for 2421–2820, 2821–3220, and so on (for as long as Pope Gregory XIII’s calendar ruled).

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Night Climbing

By Maik Strosahl

Was trying to sleep through another “refer” night, pulling a temperature-controlled trailer across Missouri. I set up Netflix to play old Star Trek: Next Gen episodes to nod off, but I am still awake and contemplating a Dyson Sphere.
    Freeman Dyson (1923-2020) was a theoretical and mathematical physicist. At four, he is said to have been obsessed with calculating how many atoms there were in the sun. He took pride in going against conventional wisdom and felt that it was better for a prophet to be wrong than to be vague about his ideas. Today, his name is borne by several concepts, including the aforementioned Sphere, which is a theoretical way an advanced space-faring civilization could harness their nearest star for almost unlimited energy by enclosing it with an artificial structure. It was also a great way for the second Star Trek series to bring back James Doohan in his signature role.
    While looking up Dyson, I saw that he was also associated with the University of Cambridge tradition of Night Climbing, where students would scale the sides of buildings to wander the rooftops of the campus and city.
    So, here’s to the recently deceased contrarian and to a good night’s sleep now that my mind is no longer walking the rooftops.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

At Random: A Man Walked
into a Convenience Store

A dispatch from <br />the land of :<br />“Hell yeah! <br />We know how <br />to do stupid!”

By Paul Clark
(aka motomynd)

Over the years I’ve been called out by various Moristotle readers and writers because the stories I claim as factual accounts sometimes seem so far-fetched, people assume I must be embellishing, à la Hunter Thompson…or Fox “News.” When I try to explain that these stories are simply examples of the idiocy that swirled around me as I grew up in Southwest Virginia, and that I rediscovered when I moved back from the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area to SWVA, few seem to believe me.
    “How could such stupidity and absurdity possibly be real?” people ask.

Monday, September 13, 2021

From the Alwinac:
  Bel Canto Cello:
  Adrian Bradbury Plays
  Piatti’s Opera Fantasies

[Click on image to
go directly to
the Alwinac’s home page
[The Alwinac blog is part of the schroeder170 project, honoring the life and musical career of cellist Alwin Schroeder (1855-1928) and exploring the history of cello playing in the US.]

Bradbury and Davies perform Piatti’s Fantasy on Bellini's La Sonnambula.

British cellist Adrian Bradbury’s 2020 2-CD release of Alfredo Piatti: The Operatic Fantasies is a musical celebration of the greatest hits of Italian opera, as reimagined for the cello by one of the most outstanding virtuosos of the 19th century. A project backed by significant scholarship and consummate skill, it is also an illuminating document of Bradbury’s own journey with a previously-neglected part of Piatti’s compositional legacy, from Bradbury’s discovery of unpublished Piatti fantasies in the cellist-composer’s archive in his native Bergamo, Italy, through a decade-long process of learning, performing, and ultimately recording them.
Read on….

Copyright © 2021 by Geoffrey Dean

Sunday, September 12, 2021

All Over the Place:
After the Broke Hip Is Repaired

In the great lakes of injured bone,
a spinal tap      temperature      a reading of the pulse.
When he arrives from the water’s bottom to the light
Recovery      no pain      a stomach of animosity.
Laying in his bed, they welcome him back
warm water      salad      something soft to chew on.
He sighs. Pain tears away from its cocoon
blood work      pulse rate      temperature      blood pressure.
He refuses pain pills, calms himself, lets the wind outside in,
and when he falls asleep      a current of coolness,
grass carp darting to the side      pain sinking into mud.

Copyright © 2021 by Michael H. Brownstein
Michael H. Brownstein’s volumes of poetry, A Slipknot Into Somewhere Else and How Do We Create Love?, were published by Cholla Needles Press in 2018 & 2019, respectively.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Ray Just Being Ray (a poem)

By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

He stands on his back porch and stares,
crosses his arms, flexes his forearms, glares,
he shoots a finger, just before he turns away,
yet another day of Ray just being Ray.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Goines On: Not a rave review

Click image for more vignettes
Almost every week, Goines had been buying a carton of Envy apples at Costco so he and Mrs. Goines could enjoy slices of a deliciously flavorful apple for dessert following their usual dinner of peanut butter on toasted bread.
    But Costco had no Envy’s on their most recent shopping trip, and so, of the three sorts on display, he selected a carton of Rave’s, an apple he’d not heard of. He was setting the carton in his cart when a woman startled him by asking how Rave’s were, and it twisted open and one of the apples tumbled out. He told her he hadn’t tried them, but—

Thursday, September 9, 2021

From the Alwinac:
  Bel Canto Cellists in America:
  Gaetano Braga

[Click on image to
go directly to
the Alwinac’s home page
[The Alwinac blog is part of the schroeder170 project, honoring the life and musical career of cellist Alwin Schroeder (1855-1928) and exploring the history of cello playing in the US.]

Listen to Souvenir d’Amerique.

The Italian composer and cellist Gaetano Braga (1829-1907), wrote his earliest musical works in his early teens, while a student of Mercadante at the Conservatory of S. Pietro a Majella in Naples. His main cello teacher was Ciaudelli. In the two decades prior to his tour of the United States, Braga’s musical career developed along two parallel paths: as an opera composer, with productions in Naples, Vienna, Paris, and Milan, and as a leading cellist, with solo, chamber music, and orchestral performances across Europe. In London he acquired the 1731 Stradivarius cello known today as the “Braga” Strad, and in Paris he struck up a friendship with Rossini, performed with Liszt, Rubinstein, Bizet, Gounod, Saint-Saens, and Bottesini, and was also sought after as a voice teacher at the Theater Italien. Braga successfully applied the bel canto singing style to the cello, and considered “broad, impassioned, vibrant singing” an essential characteristic of truly beautiful cello playing, even in more technically demanding pieces. With cello compositions ranging from variations on opera themes to concertos, Braga is best remembered for his Angel’s Serenade, a song with cello or violin obbligato that is beautifully suited to solo performance on the cello.
Read on….

Copyright © 2021 by Geoffrey Dean

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Highways and Byways:
Someone Left the Door Open

By Maik Strosahl

From 2001-2008, I ran a newspaper distributorship northeast of Indianapolis. Many nights I had a route or two to deliver. I really did not enjoy the winters, but driving back-country roads was a great time to think and observe a normally unseen world.
    A few miles outside of Anderson, I came across an abandoned house that really connected with my soul. I returned during the daylight to take a closer look. Something about how the front door stood open hit me. You could see straight through the house and out a broken kitchen window. I remember sitting in the parking lot and just staring into the ruins of what once was some family’s home. I let my mind wander and create a tragic story. It felt so real, it actually brought me to tears.
    This poem was one of many written on the side of a random road, in between tossing copies of The Indianapolis Star into delivery tubes. In August, this piece and two others, “Fairmount” and “Disturbing the Pond,” were added to the Indiana Arts Commission’s Poetry Database called “INverse,” an archive preserving Indiana poetry for future generations of writers and readers. Now in the second year of adding poems, they have pieces from 73 poets. You can check out the site and 183 poems here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Side Story: Why not have leap years every 20 years, or 40, or whatever?

With apologies to the 1961 American
musical romantic drama directed by
Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins
Moristotle, your “Goines On: Before 1901, after 2099?” piece really did a thing on me yesterday. I would like to talk about it. —Paul Clark

Talk by Paul Clark

Monday, September 6, 2021

Goines On: Before 1901, after 2099?

Click image for more vignettes
Goines looked at his archives and discovered that he had years ago pieced together more about calendar recycling than he was currently re-piecing together. He had tackled the subject in some depth eight years earlier, even written a sestina about it for the Goineses’ 47th wedding anniversary.
    While he didn’t think he still had the brain power those earlier investigations required, he was pleased that he was managing to re-tool a thing or two for his “parlor trick.”
    The earlier Goines had avoided thinking about what to do to determine directly the day of the week that a year preceding 1901 or following 2099 began on, rather than just to total the day-shifts for regular and non-leap years and then divide by 7. He had written, “In order to use the template for periods involving a 00 year that is not a leap year [1900 & 2100], the appropriate regular-year calendar must be used for the 00 year itself, and the template must be shifted to apply to subsequent years.” The phrase “appropriate…calendar” signaled that the younger Goines had not developed the mnemonics for exploring the regions before or after the period 1901–2099.