Monday, March 30, 2020

Rocky Road Is More than a Candy Bar (Excerpt 1 from an autobiography)

Chapter 3 opens: A new teacher’s first day

[Editor’s Note: Jim Rix has introduced us to the 4th volume of Shirley Skufca Hickman’s autobiography in his own autobiographical column, “My Life,” and William Silveira reviewed the book on March 18. So, today, we present an excerpt from the book, the opening of Chapter 3, in which the author describes the first day of her first week as a new high school teacher. The rest of the chapter will appear on Wednesday. And remember, if you know how to access Amazon.com, you can “look inside” the book there.]

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Bootleggers on the River after a Fresh Night Rain (a poem)

By Blake Adamson

Black sludge for water
Full of muck and that pond stink
The moon’s drenched in haze
Just after the rain
The woods are like pitch
And the going slow



Saturday, March 28, 2020

The Loneliest Liberal’s
new soubriquet

Acting Citizen:
What a privilege
to be just that


By James Knudsen

My January 2017 column announced that a “New sobriquet [was] acomin’.” The 3-year delay serves as further proof that when it comes to procrastination, I perform at an Olympic level.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Ghost Fish
(Part 5 of a Story for My Son)

Uncle Carl, age 93, after a recent trip
to Quebec, on what turned out to be our
last trip to the family “camp” (cabin,
we would call it here) at Tug Hill, NY.
He was still walking – carefully
– and casting a flyrod on this trip,
but he would die within two months
By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

It took me 40 years to realize that it wasn’t just a fish I was chasing, it was the life I had created in my mind that I would have lived if only: if only my family hadn’t moved south, if only I had lived closer to my aunt and uncle, if only I could have traded the really not too bad life I had grown up with in Virginia for the unproven but dreamed of much better life I might have had Upstate. By then, my father had been dead 20 years, my mother and my uncle Carl had died four years previous, and I had put my life and businesses on hold to assure that my ailing aunt died in her home, as I had promised Carl I would.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

West Coast Observer:
What’s in a name?

By William Silveira

Undergraduates in Yale College who were residing in residential Calhoun College in academic year 2016-2017 started residing in Hopper College the following year. They didn’t accomplish that by moving their stuff from one residential college to another, but by Yale University’s renaming Calhoun College (after John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, who served as the seventh vice president of the United States) to Hopper College (after Grace Murray Hopper, an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral).

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

My Life [6]

Getting Cousin Ray out of prison

By Jim Rix

Early in the 1990s, while SoftRix was taking off, we learned that a distant cousin of mine, Ray Krone, was on death row. My mother assured me he was innocent, and since she was an objective thinker, not subject to the whims of bias, I decided to look into it. I visited Ray and examined court records, soon becoming convinced that my mother was right. Ray was innocent and we provided significant assistance to secure his release. But, hey, I offered in Chapter 1 to practically give you a copy of my book about that. Go read it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Fiction: Drinking Kubulis
at the Dead Cat Café [11]

Click image for more posts
11. As he sipped his grapefruit and rum

[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual person, living, dead, or anywhere in between, is purely a figment of your own sick, twisted imagination. You really ought to seek professional help for that. Except for the cat, of course; that skin on the cover really is  t h e  Dead Cat, if that’s any consolation to you.]

Monday, March 23, 2020

Songs of an Irishman:
My Father’s Watch

By Michael McLoughlin

[Editor’s Note: With the publication of his story today, we welcome Michael McLoughlin as the latest columnist to join our staff. The story also launches his column, “Songs of an Irishman.” His entry in the sidebar tells us a bit about him. Thanks to Columnist Roger Owens for introducing Michael to us.]

About four or five years after my father passed away, my mother found a poem in the newspaper about how one’s name is passed on from father to son and we should keep our name clean and not let it fall into disgrace. She asked me to make an enlarged copy for her at work, which I did. I kept a copy myself and put it above my desk at work. I read it, and then just forgot about it, and it hung there among the many other items pinned to my board.

[Rave] Book Review:
The Time of the Canton

His father’s story

By Roger Owens

In his historically reconstructed story, The Time of the Canton: A Sea Story, Michael McLoughlin takes us on a journey through light and darkness, in the now nearly mythical age of the German U-Boat Wolf Packs of World War Two, which terrorized the sea lanes practically unopposed. Hundreds of ships, huge tonnages of supplies, along with thousands of crew and passengers, met a watery death at the Wolf Packs’ cruel hands.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Uncle Juan (a poem)

By Cory Adamson










Couldn’t keep his hands
off that one type of woman.
Gave his nephew a whole
colony of aunts. Revolution
was inevitable, and copper
headed Juan was overthrown.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Boldt Words & Images:
Vampires’ love

Greta Thunberg
A poem

By Bob Boldt

“If the Nuremberg laws were impartially enforced and applied, all thirteen US presidents since FDR should have been hung.” –Noam Chomsky






Friday, March 20, 2020

Ghost Fish
(Part 4 of a Story for My Son)

Sunset where Grindstone Creek flows into
Lake Ontario at Selkirk Shores State Park,
about 5 miles south of my family's old
NY farm. If you are going to waste
countless hours hopelessly casting a fly
to a wraith of a fish, the epic
sunsets are at least a wonderful reward.
By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

Back home in Virginia, after that first trip to Upstate New York, despondent over all I was missing by not being raised there, life was a slow burn. If we had a foot of snow, local people cowered; Upstate, my uncle called that “a skiff of snow, a dusting.” That was the life, I thought, especially in summer, when our front porch thermometer soared toward 95 degrees, and my uncle would confirm by letter that it was only 75 there.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sketches from the Twin Cities:
Apocalyptic Haikus

Series I

By Geoffrey Dean

The guillotine fell,
its severing slice precise –
fine execution


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Book Review: Rocky Road Is More Than a Candy Bar

The fourth volume of Shirley Skufca Hickman’s autobiography

By William Silveira

Rocky Road Is More Than a Candy Bar is the fourth volume of Shirley Skufca Hickman’s memoirs. The first volume started out in the small coal mining settlement of Crested Butte, Colorado, where she was born. She now takes us to her first job as a teacher after graduating from Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Fiction: Drinking Kubulis
at the Dead Cat Café [10]

Click image for more posts
10. Kirk had warned him

[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual person, living, dead, or anywhere in between, is purely a figment of your own sick, twisted imagination. You really ought to seek professional help for that. Except for the cat, of course; that skin on the cover really is  t h e  Dead Cat, if that’s any consolation to you.]

Monday, March 16, 2020

Two Is Enough:
A painting for a friend in Australia

Detail of “Benny”
A dog named Benny

Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

When Shirley visited Australia last year, she stayed for a few days with her friend Dr. Adele Thomas and Adeles husband Ely Lazar, a chiropractor, some of whose “Lifestyle Tips for Over 50s” columns on their “Passionate Retirees” website have been republished on Moristotle & Co.

Goines On: Heaven on earth

Click image for more vignettes
As Goines approached Walmart’s pharmacy entrance, he saw a couple of policemen talking to entering shoppers. As he got closer, he thought he recognized one of the officers: Officer Shell had been assigned eight or ten years ago to the housing development Goines lived in, under the town’s Community Oriented Policing (COP) program.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Monotonous Late Night Boredom
(a poem)

By Blake Adamson














I sit on my side of the bed and watch her
Watch her, watch her

She wears nothing but the fishnet stockings
Nothing, nothing


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Poetry & Portraits: Sundered

Drawing by Susan C. Price

Sundered
By Eric Meub

[Originally published on April 12, 2014]

High pressure system moving east: the road
continues, but the breakers bury it
beneath their backs, shrugging off a load
of splinters and a broken chariot.


Friday, March 13, 2020

Ghost Fish
(Part 3 of a Story for My Son)

Carl & Emma, in their 90s,
four decades after I met them
on my first trip to NY as a kid
By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

The day after I released the fish, we went to see my mother’s brother, Carl, and his wife, Emma.
    “So you’re the kid from down South who is using a Rebel lure to teach us how to fish, eh?”
    That was the introduction from my Uncle Carl, and I was swept away. He was a legend of an outdoorsman and a famed regional stone mason, yet he and my Aunt Emma were also well read and interested in just about everything. From the beginning I was in awe of them, of their combination of blue-collar livelihood and professorial intellects, and the constant humor.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Goines On: Health!

Click image for more vignettes
The checkout lines at Costco were several times longer than the Goineses had ever seen them, extending from a wraparound at the very back of the store down both aisles to the registers.
    Many shopping carts contained a huge bale of rolls of toilet paper. One woman said, “Workers in the paper industries are worried about the virus affecting their jobs.” She had two bales in her cart.

Fiction: Jaudon – An American Family (a novel) [40]

Click image for more of the saga
Chapter 40. Misjudged

Ricardo was waiting in Chicago to be picked up at the train station by his sister and José Jaudon. Ricardo’s attorney had prepared papers to challenge James Jaudon’s will. He was going after JJ Ranch, or three-quarters of it anyway. He hadn’t read the will, but if José and Jésus’ widow and son, Juan Martinez, were mentioned in the will, they would have been notified, and they had heard nothing.
    And then there was Sophie Davis; Ricardo was sure that Clara Davis would want her daughter to have what was due her. The big question, and the most important part of the puzzle, was José.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A caution about spam comments

Do not click on their links!

By Moristotle

Microsoft’s international take-down of the Necurs botnet, reported Tuesday in the NY Times, doesn’t seem to have solved the problem Moristotle & Co. have been having lately with spam comments trying to entice us to visit malicious websites.

My Life [5]

From contract programming to software ownership

By Jim Rix

When I began contract programming, around 1980, computer software lagged far behind computer hardware. Skilled programmers were consequently in high demand, and contract programming was quite lucrative. I contracted with companies like Advanced Micro Devices and Intel, two semiconductor manufacturers, as well as companies with federal aerospace contracts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Fiction: Drinking Kubulis
at the Dead Cat Café [9]

Click image for more posts
9. He slept so well in the island

[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual person, living, dead, or anywhere in between, is purely a figment of your own sick, twisted imagination. You really ought to seek professional help for that. Except for the cat, of course; that skin on the cover really is  t h e  Dead Cat, if that’s any consolation to you.]

Monday, March 9, 2020

Remembering Wally Dean
– 11 Years after We Said Good-bye

Wally, happy on New Year’s Day 2005,
on our back porch on Ironwood Drive
in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
By Moristotle

[Wally – officially Sir Walter Raleigh at the American Kennel Club – (May 19, 1996 to March 9, 2009) was about ten years old when I began blogging, so he never became as well-represented on Moristotle & Co. as Siegfried would become. In remembrance of Wally, I re-run the remembrance originally posted on March 17, 2009, which contained some tributes from staff members at the veterinary clinic that saw to Wally’s needs, including occasional kenneling.]

Aside from his human family, no one knew Wally better than the people at the vets. When I picked up his ashes last week, I was also given a card from the staff with these handwritten messages:

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Remembering Siegfried Dean
– a Year after We Said Good-bye

Siegfried’s special couch pose

By Moristotle

[In remembrance of our beloved canine family member Siegfried (January 24, 2009 – March 8, 2019) – and by “family” I refer to Moristotle & Co. as well as to myself and my wife – I re-run an item that was originally posted on February 10, 2010, “For Reina in Little Rock.”]

Prompted by a friend’s inquiry whether Siegfried not only looks like Wally [to be remembered in tomorrow’s posting] but also has a similar personality, I think this is a good place to report that Siegfried’s personality is actually a lot different from Wally’s. We suspect that he wasn’t well socialized during the seven weeks before he came to us (as we know for a fact Wally was), so he’s sort of fearful of noises, people he doesn’t know (or know well), and other non-human animals.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Boldt Words & Images: Pass Over

Meriwether Lewis
A poem

By Bob Boldt















The last of the Monarchs lights on my window sill,
his orange fluttering as futile a gesture of salvation
as my own. Now the Brazilian hurricanes will take it from here
no longer suffering any Butterfly Effect.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Ghost Fish
(Part 2 of a Story for My Son)

A scene a couple of miles from
where my family had a farm near Sandy Creek,
New York, before they moved to Virginia.
Even though I try not to, every time I look
at this photo I still resent that I was
raised 600 miles south of Beaver Meadow,
instead of less than 2 miles south of it.
By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

A couple of years after my family moved from Upstate New York to southwest Virginia, I was born. My first, most vivid memories of childhood were that something wasn’t right, that I didn’t fit. Summers were awful and winter was wonderful, the more snow the better; I was born in the South but I wasn’t of the South.
    On that first trip Upstate, at age 11, I found home. It was my mother’s first trip back since the move south; even at my young age I noticed her change, a sparkle came to her eye: she too was home. It was only for a week, but it changed us forever.

Goines On: Sanitization

Click image for more vignettes
Goines wore his red Top-Flite golfing cap to walk to the gym. What the hell, he hadn’t worn it for a while – because of its septic associations with Trump and MAGA.
    Not even halfway to the gym, however, he suddenly felt at risk, vulnerable. What if a “crazy” person with deadly tendencies should think the cap was a Trump cap and try to kill Goines as a symbolic act too hard to enact against Trump himself?

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Fiction: Jaudon – An American Family (a novel) [39]

Click image for more of the saga
Chapter 39. Time Flies

The oil fields kept coming, one after the other. In 1907 Piedras Pintas came in, then, at last, oil was hit in the Goose Lake fields. In 1908, Henry Ford’s first car, the “Model T,” came off his new assembly line. The gasoline engine was on the way to becoming king of the road. Almost overnight the streets of Houston had to contend with the honking of car horns. It would drive the price of oil even higher.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Fiction: Drinking Kubulis
at the Dead Cat Café [8]

Click image for more posts
8. It wasn’t until the tenth day

[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual person, living, dead, or anywhere in between, is purely a figment of your own sick, twisted imagination. You really ought to seek professional help for that. Except for the cat, of course; that skin on the cover really is  t h e  Dead Cat, if that’s any consolation to you.]

Monday, March 2, 2020

In Remembrance of Rolf Dumke

In gratitude for
“Growing Up in America”


By Moristotle

I learned yesterday from Rolf Dumke’s son Tristan that his father had passed away the day before. Rolf suffered cardiac arrest at home the preceding Tuesday and was immediately taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital, where doctors fought for his life for four days, to no avail.

Our Troubled Times

By Sharon Stoner

So, South Carolina likes Joe Biden. If the same contender won each pivotal state it would be much easier to choose the Democratic candidate than it seems destined to be.
    While Biden took South Carolina, I am not sure I will vote for him in Florida’s primary. However, he would be a good choice for the Democrats, better than Bernie Sanders would be at proposing a realistic agenda.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

All Over the Place:
How His Story Eliminated the Woman Who Gave Us King

For Women’s History Month

By Michael H. Brownstein




Once when I was teaching school,
the request was made of me to create
a lesson plan for American Women in History,
and I got right on it beginning
with famous women of color, but
too many took their fifteen minutes
and entered Jesse Jackson time.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

Boldt Words & Images:
Other Observations

A golden shovel poem1

By Bob Boldt

“Since we both share this accommodating hell, and because I know you, like so many others, will never leave, this flaming shade will gladly tell you his confession.”2

Friday, February 28, 2020

Ghost Fish
(Part 1 of a Story for my Son)

Full moon rising over the Salmon River,
less than 2 miles upstream from
where it pours into Lake Ontario
at Port Ontario, NY. This photo
was taken a few yards from where
I caught Ghost Fish – and Ghost Fish
hooked me – more than 40 years ago.
By Paul Clark (aka motomynd)

The dream always begins the same. The moon has risen barely above the horizon, turning the gently riffled current a soft, undulating gold. The fish materializes, wraithlike, mouth agape, moonlight reflecting from its broad sides; it appears huge and menacing as it surges through the shallow water directly at me.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Fiction: Jaudon – An American Family (a novel) [38]

Click image for more of the saga
Chapter 38. Oil Thieves

The moon had yet to come up and the night was so dark the men were falling over things on the ground. Mr. Tompson and his four armed men were moving into position for an all-night stakeout. They found a good spot among the girders of a well across from Claude’s capped wells.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

My Life [4]

I become a computer programmer

By Jim Rix

Following my stint as a high school mathematics teacher, I took a job at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, in Sunnyvale, and began a career in computer programming. After seven months at Lockheed, I was offered a better position at Tymshare, Inc., another computer company. Tymshare transferred me to Seattle, Washington. That lasted a few years, after which I was laid off and sold furniture for a while at Levitz Furniture. I don’t think I had realized how versatile I could be.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Fiction: Drinking Kubulis
at the Dead Cat Café [7]

Click image for more posts
7. When he first arrived, Ras

[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual person, living, dead, or anywhere in between, is purely a figment of your own sick, twisted imagination. You really ought to seek professional help for that. Except for the cat, of course; that skin on the cover really is  t h e  Dead Cat, if that’s any consolation to you.]

Monday, February 24, 2020

Roger’s Reality: Karma Kitty

The Faces of Jack

By Roger Owens

Mike and Bonnie have our cat, Jackie. Mike and Bonnie live over on the next street, and Jack has essentially moved to their house. It’s OK though, because he won’t stay home anymore anyway, and at one time we had their cat. Jackie Jack never really lived at any one place; he’s always been a vagabond.
    Maybe I should go back and start at the beginning.


Sunday, February 23, 2020

All Over the Place:
Reparations – Part 3 (2014-2016)

Because it never ends

By Michael H. Brownstein



Because America is not fair,
Because racism needs to stop,
Because ignorance has to end,
Because the police need to know their job,
Because we no longer can put up with bullies with guns.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Loneliest Liberal:
Misguided Paths

By James Knudsen

Do you remember electives? I recently learned that one of the community colleges I’m employed at has made the decision to implement a program that eliminates one of the most cherished aspects of community colleges.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Goines On: Without exclamation

Click image for more vignettes
Mrs. Goines said to Goines, “I saw you outside without a coat on.” It had frozen overnight, and the temperature was still in the 30s. It was Mrs. Goines’ way of reminding Goines he hadn’t followed one of her recommendations, which failing she seemed to him to take a bit too personally, almost as an affront.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Fiction: Jaudon – An American Family (a novel) [37]

Click image for more of the saga
Chapter 37. Here Today/ Gone Tomorrow

Claude’s move back to Houston had been a good one. Through the telephone service with his people in Beaumont, he was able to be close to the action at the same time. The new century was opening like a box of candy – one happy surprise after another. In 1901, Mckinley was assassinated. The Stock Market took a dive, as did oil stock, but with Teddy Roosevelt came a calming. Things were looking up for the country as a whole. But life will always throw you a curveball when you least expect it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Conformity and nonconformity

Food for thought

By Victor L. Midyett

My father gave me directives only. He rarely gave me food for thought. He brought me up in an atmosphere where everything was according to his “black or white.” My directive was always to follow what he said was “white,” or his way. Being by nature skeptical myself, I very early developed the attitude that in life very, very little is black or white. And what anyone tells me or directs me to do must be questioned.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Fiction: Drinking Kubulis
at the Dead Cat Café [6]

Click image for more posts
6. Tabitha Taft was sick

[This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any actual person, living, dead, or anywhere in between, is purely a figment of your own sick, twisted imagination. You really ought to seek professional help for that. Except for the cat, of course; that skin on the cover really is  t h e  Dead Cat, if that’s any consolation to you.]

Monday, February 17, 2020

Goines On: Relics

Click image for more vignettes
Goines thought he spotted a vacant handicap parking spot near the head of the row nearest Walmart’s grocery entrance. As he approached the spot, a huge rear-window version of the “JESUS SAVES” sign accosted him from a large dark vehicle in the top spot.
    Goines took a photo of the rear window, feeling strangely subversive, as though he were doing surveillance and being observed doing so, if not by a Walmart security camera then perhaps by a local police officer in the patrol car parked across the road alongside the store front between the two entrances.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

All Over the Place:
Reparations – Part 2

By Michael H. Brownstein











1898, election day, Wilmington, North Carolina,
the business elite include all races, all ethnicities,
lawyers and doctors, teachers and store owners,
no color boundaries, no issues with racism –
the city an integrated government duly elected –