Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ask Wednesday: What happened yesterday that I have to ask myself today, What was it?

By Morris Dean

Absolutely not, in trestina

She answered questions for the interview
and was awaiting the termination
of a quick review by her company.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Christmas in July

"Santa Claus"
By Vic Midyett

To my American family and friends who have never heard of “Christmas in July,” I’ll explain it:

Australia, being in the Southern hemisphere, is now mid winter. While it isn’t very cold where we are in Northern Queensland, it is still an Aussie habit, for some, to celebrate Christmas in July because it’s cool. December is usually not just warm, but hot. The traditional food for the December Christmas is prawns (or shrimp), and an assortment of cold meats, or an outdoor BBQ in the shade.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Fifth Monday Fiction

Rwandan refugee camp in east Zaire
Chapter 1. A Killer Is Born, from the novel The Killer

By Jackie Sims

Sarah Goodly of Northern California came to Africa in order to help those that could not help themselves. The year was 1994, the country was Rwanda. The Hutu President had been murdered, and she and her friends were making plans to leave the country. They had got word at 9:00 pm the 6th of April that the plane carrying President Juvénal Habyarimana had been shot down by a surface-to-air missile over Rwanda's capital city of Kigali. The next day they heard reports of killings, which had began in the capital, and they knew it was time to leave the country.
    They were packed and ready to go by April 8th. There was a van, with driver, rented and on the way to pick them up at daybreak. At last they felt safe The five Peace Corp Volunteers gathered around the table on the porch one last time to share a bottle of wine and discuss the upcoming trip. The night had been calm, there was no breeze, and even the birds were quiet. The five felt comfortable and relaxed sitting around the porch drinking wine with old friends. They had even managed a laugh or two.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Review: Shakespeare—The King's Man

A Jacobean as well as an Elizabethan

By Morris Dean

Over the years, I'd dabbled in William Shakespeare (1564-1616), beginning I guess with Macbeth or The Merchant of Venus in one of Miss Lois Thompson's English classes in high school. And I seem to remember that a Shakespeare play was included in the first year's syllabus for reading groups of the Great Books of the Western World, which had been published only a few years before I entered high school. Mr. King assembled and led a reading group of six or eight high schoolers, of whom I was one. And, two or three years later, I signed on for a small part in a my residential college's production of The Tempest.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: It's the process

...not the product

By James Knudsen

Math is a funny thing. I have to look at it with a sense of humor to keep from crying. My grandfather, Dr. Vern Oliver Knudsen, PhD in physics, understood math. My father, Vern Oliver Morris Knudsen, BA in Greek, understood math to a lesser degree, but still well enough to negotiate the usual hurdles en route to his diploma. Not so me. The only reason I am able to put two diplomas on the wall...assuming I can find them, is because I discovered a loop-hole I could wriggle through in the form of Philosophy 9, Logic and Reasoning.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fish for Friday

[Anonymous items from the editor's correspondence]

On July 21 the Burlington[NC] Times-News printed a sample of replies from readers about the July 10 NY Times editorial titled "The Decline of North Carolina." Even readers in red Alamance County soundly approved the editorial: "What do you Say? Responses to editorial by the New York Times about North Carolina." Excerpt from one of the letters printed:

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thor's Day: Planning on dying?

Face the question and move on

By Morris Dean

My wife and I are planning to go on a big trip with a friend next year and, because I genuinely don't think I will ever want to do it again, I remarked, "It will be our last such trip."
    My wife, who seems to think that maybe she will want to do it again, said, "Are you planning to die after 2014?"
    Now, I am usually not very witty when it comes to interchanging with my wife—she out-guns me in the wit department. Witness the question just quoted: Am I planning to die after 2014?
    But on this occasion I think I did pretty well: I replied, "Well, if not before or during, then, of course, after."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Sharon MacMillan on both coasts

From here to there and back

By Morris Dean

Sharon MacMillan has, according to her current bio on the Internet Movie Database, "been writing and directing [stage plays] since her move to the East Coast in 2002." We're excited about the opportunity to hear from her.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Two fifths more of fiction

Fifth Saturdays & Mondays

By Morris Dean

Three days ago, on the Third Saturday of this month (July 20), we kicked off a new regular column devoted to fiction with the posthumous publication of Pam Palmer's entertaining story, "How our Thanksgiving goose got cooked." If you haven't read that yet, I urge you to treat yourself to it as soon as possible. We've asked Pam's friend Susan C. Price to please be on the lookout for other stories that Pam might have left behind.

Tuesday Voice: To There and Back Again: Part 1


By James T. Carney

With all due credit to Bilbo Baggins, the title "To There and Back Again" will work for most travelogues, of which I am creating another to deal with our epic 2004 journey to Central Europe—the first time I had been back since the Curtain fell. I even made it to Prague for a few hours in between airlines so to speak but I was not able to locate my 1967 digs, which were right next to a Russian Tank regimental headquarters. (I always figured the neighborhood was pretty safe.)
    This time my journey was to Ljublijana [Slovenia] (various spellings and pronunciations permissible), Budapest [Hungary], and Košice [Slovakia] (pronunciation), where I saw the rarest of all manufacturing operations—a USS steel mill that made money.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks: Pammie stories

Pyre for Pammie 3.17.10
By Susan C. Price

Pam was a friend of mine. We met in the early 1970s, working for the State of California reviewing welfare paperwork of the counties. In remembering how and why I was drawn to her, I’d say it was the level and tone of her intelligence, education, and ironic sense of humor (all of which matched mine). Also, I admired and envied her oh-so-chic personal style.
    Her life had many twists and turns, ups and downs, and geographic moves. We managed to stay friends for over 30 years. About 15 years ago, she had a falling out with a friend she had named as executor of her will, and substituted me. By the time she lost her mind, I was the only old friend still in touch, and willing and able to be her guardian as well as her executor. The following is the first in a series. Due to of some of the “Pammie Stories,” as we and she have always called them, they won’t all be published publicly.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Review: Orange Is the New Black (Netflix original series)

Why I'm looking forward to the next episode

By Morris Dean

In the ten days since Netflix's new original  series Orange Is the New Black premiered with all thirteen episodes of Season 1 ready for instant download, I've watched only four episodes. Unlike many other series I've enjoyed scarfing down in a few days, I've never watched more than one episode of Orange on the same day—each one is about 50 minutes long—and the first time I even watched two on consecutive days was Friday and last night.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Third Saturday Fiction

How our Thanksgiving goose got cooked

By Pam Palmer

“We should have roast goose for Thanksgiving,” Martin said.
    It was 1976 and David, my husband, and I had just bought a house across the street from our long-time friends, Martin and Joan. Two weeks after we moved into the house David left for a six-month stint on a research ship in the Antarctic. It would be my first Thanksgiving in my first house and I felt overwhelmed. Of course, I could go to my in-laws’ house but it was a long drive from Long Beach to Mission Viejo by myself. My parents were going to the desert so having dinner with them was not possible.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fish for Friday

Miss Liberty leads the people in Bulgaria
[Anonymous items from the editor's correspondence]

Thank you for noting the situation in Bulgaria two weeks ago. Another article of possible interest to your readers is this one about events on the 29th day of the protests: "First Clashes with Police in Bulgaria's Anti-Govt Protests." [More Bulgarians are coming out to protest in Sofia than North Carolinians are coming out in Raleigh; maybe we need a Miss Liberty?]

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thor's Day: Wrong number

By Morris Dean

My wife answered the phone when it rang the first time. Whoever it was, she didn't recognize them. "You have the wrong number...That's okay. No problem."
    It rang again within seconds. Without speaking, my wife hung up. "The same woman. She might be drunk."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Stone Arnold on coming across us

Looking to hang out

By Morris Dean

Today's interview was conducted by email chat, one question and answer at a time. [Our questions are in italics.]

Mr. Arnold—
    Call me Stone.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday Voice: To Mt. Mulligan

Mt. Mulligan up close
By Vic Midyett

My wife and I currently live in Queensland, in a very small community in the Atherton Table lands called Walkamin, at elevation about 1,650 ft. Walkamin has three streets of houses and a general store that sells gas and diesel and serves as a post office. The town's location is shown as a red square on this map of Australia:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Third Monday Random: Watergate, Lewinsky, NSA

Why do people care the least about what may affect them the most?

By motomynd

In 1974, Richard Nixon became the only U.S. President to resign while in office. As you probably know, this was because he and some of his staff were caught trying to cover up their involvement in a break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office complex. The bungled attempt at obtaining information to help Nixon’s re-election was as ridiculous as it was incompetent. Nixon had a sizeable lead in the polls over Democratic contender George McGovern, and he went on to win the election in a landslide.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Review: Quartet

Don't act your age

By Morris Dean

The title of Quartet—this glorious first directorial effort by Dustin Hoffman (2012), about not living your age any more than you would your street address—refers to two things: the Bella figlia dell'amore quartet of Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mississippi's “open carry” gun law: Two perspectives

[The first perspective is that of Contributing Editor Paul Clark, aka motomynd, the second that of Columnist Ed Rogers.]

A bold experiment in biology and sociology

By motomynd

The new “open carry” Mississippi gun law (mentioned in the correspondence in “Fish for Friday” on June 28), which seems designed to actively encourage Mississippians to carry guns with them at all times, has the potential to be a most interesting scientific experiment. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is a popular pro-gun talking point, so putting guns on as many hips as possible, where everyone can see them—and quickly reach them—seems a great way to find out if gun violence is indeed spurred by mindset, or by a proliferation of guns.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fish for Friday

Town of Hillsborough
[Anonymous items from the editor's correspondence]

My daughter, Jennifer Weaver, is running for Town Board of Hillsborough, NC. Wow!

Forget Town Board, Jenn—run for the NC House! We need you desperately!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thor's Day: A perk of clerical office

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet,
Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy
From Chapter 18 of Pride & Prejudice

By Jane Austen

[The Reverend Mr. Collins came up to Elizabeth at Mr. Bingley's ball at Netherfield]
and told her with great exultation that he had just been so fortunate as to make a most important discovery.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ask Wednesday: A victim of sexual abuse on coming forward

In your own time

By Morris Dean

Todd Starnes is one of those people who are just fun to listen to talk, whether to someone else or to you. In fact, I think that each of the several times I've run into Todd at the local fitness center, he was talking to someone else, and seeming not to be concerned that another person had just joined his audience.
    When I joined his conversation a couple of weeks ago, he was in the hot tub telling a woman about having been sexually abused as a child of eight to twelve by a brother in his early twenties....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Grand Canyon adventure—Part 3

Up and out

By James T. Carney

[Sequel to "In and about with people"]

The next morning we were up at 5:00 a.m. to have an early breakfast and hit the trail at 6:30 a.m. We crossed the second bridge over the Colorado and followed the river for about a mile and a half before turning inland and up on the Bright Angel Trail. Along here on the Bright Angel Trail there was a privy to which I availed myself (and recognized the onset of a large group of external hemorrhoids). There was also water at a couple of points along the trail. I could have made it easily without additional water but I did find that I used a great deal of water on this day as opposed to the other two. I had a water bottle that led to a tube attached to my jacket so I could suck water without stopping. This is something I will use on any future hiking trips.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Second Monday Music: Influential rhythms

The significance of musical entrainment

By André Duvall

[Adapted from a paper in the Psychology of Music]

We have all had the experience of listening to a piece of music, enjoying it, and finding ourselves tapping our feet to the beat, sometimes without consciously deciding to do so. Likewise, as we walk down the sidewalk at a comfortable pace, our arms naturally tend to sway in some form of regular motion directly related to the rhythmic motion of our legs. Musicians are aware of the importance during rehearsal and performance situations of synchronizing our internal rhythmic pulse with those of the conductor or other performers. All of these situations illustrate the concept of human rhythmic entrainment. While these examples may seem to be obvious everyday phenomena, the idea of entrainment has significant implications for understanding how humans experience music, and how music can influence human health.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Review: In Our Nature


By Morris Dean

My wife tends to be skeptical of the DVDs that I borrow from the library "on speculation"—I'll borrow anything the library has if it doesn't seem to be about chainsaw murders, doesn't seem to be a sci-fi, horror, or teen-romance movie, isn't animated or CGI-heavy, and isn't a smaltzy movie based on another Nicholas Sparks novel. If it meets this test, why not give it a try?
    True enough, a fair portion of these "spec borrows" are disappointments, which I usually recognize after a very few minutes. Sometimes, of course, we both watch the whole thing, and only then ask each other, "Why did we watch that?"
    So, my wife is skeptical for good reason. Before I put the DVD in Friday night for In Our Nature (2102, Brian Savelson), she made me read the blurb on the container to her:

Saturday, July 6, 2013

First Saturday Green 101: Trees, quail, mosquitoes, and neighbors talking loudly of porn

They’re all connected

By motomynd

When I bought the old farmhouse I grew up in 50 years previous, three dramatic changes jumped out at me when spring arrived and I aspired to spend most of my time outdoors. The neighbors who lived in the surrounding houses were much louder than those who were there when I was a child. There was a missing link in the bird population. Mosquitoes patrolled in Luftwaffe-worthy squadrons.
    The Washington, DC escapee within me lamented the changes but welcomed the space and relative quiet. The writer within me wondered if I should have instead returned to the cabin in the woods where I had lived before being briefly lured back to DC. The college-educated biologist still lurking somewhere deep within me wondered if the three were somehow connected.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fish for Friday

Gustave Whitehead (1874-1927)
[Anonymous items from the editor's correspondence]

Great, just great. The one thing North Carolina had to put it on the map, and now it may be going the way of Roanoke Island: "Spiteful Conn. Senate wipes Wright Brothers from history books." Take it back Connecticut, or all we have left is Bull Durham, the movie. Until the hapless NBA Carolina Bobcats reclaim their original Hornets name and streak to glory under the executive leadership of Michael Jordan...hahahahaha....

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thor's Day: Something to it?

The King of Spades?

By Ed Rogers

There has been much ado about religion on "Thor’s Day." While here and there I have added my two cents, I have tried to stay out of the sure thinking that goes on by those for and those against.
    Is there a God? The non-believers say NO. The true believers say YES. I say I don’t know.
    I do not believe there is a God as depicted by the Bible, but that does not exclude the possibility that there could be something out there or over there that could be called God.
    The sixties were a time not only of upheaval, but also of searching. Young people were looking for their own truth. Having been lied to most of their life, they turned to drugs, religious cults, Ouija Boards, mediation, Indian folklore, and psychic powers...At least, these are the ones I tried.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Where's that interview you transcribed from recording?

By Morris Dean

The interview I foresaw in trestina on June 19 simply could not be completed for today. I've been in Woodstock & Killington, Vermont and New Bedford, Massachusetts since Friday night, returning to North Carolina today.
    And I confirmed what I suspected: it takes a lot of time to transcribe natural, garrulous speech. I had less than fifteen minutes of material, but my subject spoke very fast and colloquially, and I wanted to capture his phrasing, so I was constantly having to go back to re-listen.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Grand Canyon adventure—Part 2

In and about with people

By James T. Carney

[Sequel to "Why the Grand Canyon?"]

Actually, one of the most interesting and enjoyable parts of the trip involved interacting with the other 16 people (including the two guides) in our group. I suspect that we had an unusual group in two respects. (1) These people were physically hardy—unlike me, they were all outdoorsmen (and women); and (2) they were extremely friendly and the group got along very well. There were two couples (one from Wisconsin and one from British Columbia), two groups of two friends (including John and myself), one aunt and the niece from Kilimanjaro, and six unattached individuals (although one, David, a North Jersey boy like myself, had left his wife up on the South Rim.) Some of them had done some training for the trip; many, however, were taking it in stride. One fellow traveler was Susan Wilson from Miami. She was a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve and a retired financial analyst for the DOD. I asked her how she had trained—Miami tending to be flatter than a pancake—and she said that she went up and down the stairs in her apartment building. That sounded even more boring than going up and down the Southside Heights.

Monday, July 1, 2013

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Paul Clark, aka motomynd, in growing family in North Carolina
In a bit of news that may be every bit as petty as it sounds, I am very pleased to announce that not only did my step-daughter not yet dethrone me as fastest half-miler in the family, but I almost had to carry her back from a trail run because I goaded her into a speed workout on hills. Next month we go back to track workouts and I am doomed, but this month age and guile again trump youth and superior athleticism.
    Oh, we did have additions to the family: The resident white-tail does that hang out in our backyards in NC and VA both gave birth to fawns in June and paraded them out for formal introductions.