Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday Voice

What do Christmas and the New Year hold for those in the news?

By Jonathan Price

It seems now to be a tradition in the media to fill the airwaves and the newsprint with gifts to the rich and (in)famous and those who have been in the news over the last year, with odd or amusing tokens that comment on their performance or reward their perfidy, and take up space or time without expending a great deal of effort. Here are some further suggestions:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fifth Monday Fiction

Excerpt from the novel This Sweet Intercourse: Raymond in 4th grade

By Michael Hanson

[Editor's note: The prologue from the same novel appeared on August 17.]

The chemistry set came in a boxed metal container much like a small suitcase, hinges on one edge and a latch on the other. On one side of the case were ten small blue plastic bottles in which were kept the chemicals he’d use to conduct his experiments, and on the other were the tools he would need: four test tubes with an accompanying rack in which to stand them, along with a bristly brush for cleaning; a metal tonglike instrument used for gripping the test tubes; and even a small “Bunsen burner,” which was fun primarily because it legitimized his using matches.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sunday Review: The Place beyond the Pines

Where is that?

By Morris Dean

The phrase "the place beyond the pines" is the translation of the Iroquois term for Schenectady, NY, the locale for the 2012 movie The Place beyond the Pines (directed by Derek Cianfrance). The theme of the movie is compelling, and important: sons generally need to connect with their fathers. The movie tells the story of such a son in a poignant, memorable way...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: Successful time-management

It's a matter of how you define success

By James Knudsen

Saturday, December 21, 2013, at around 9:11 in the morning here on the West Coast, the earth began to rock back toward vertical on its way to the summer solstice six months from now. My time has begun. The time when the days get longer with every tick of the clock. Short days are for ants and I'm not an ant. I'm a grasshopper, I need the warm days of summer to properly fiddle away the time.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

There has been an epidemic of jacklighting near our house. We had several deer shot at night from early October through early December, but the shootings and gunfire in the dark suddenly stopped two weeks ago. It seems this may be because the jacklighter shot a deer too close to a house a couple of weeks ago, and was attacked by a local homeowner while he was dragging a deer to his truck. The jacklighter was apparently somewhat defenseless because he had left his gun in his truck and had his hands full dragging a small buck by its antlers. Except for a deer killing a jacklighter, how much more ironic can you get than that?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thor's Day: Spirits

By Morris Dean

It's thrilling to suppose spirits alive
    and circling us in rocks and stars and trees.
Poets have fancied clouds could not but thrive
    to see daffodils dancing in the breeze,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How do I get my neighbors to fix their wreck of a house?

By Susan C. Price

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

I live in a neighborhood of old craftsman homes. My next door neighbor’s house is a wreck, one side of the house doesn’t have siding or windows—only black paper shower curtains stapled over the window openings. They are a super sweet couple. My friend says I should call the city—but I don’t want to create trouble. Your thoughts? –Claire

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Jake

By Vic Midyett

During Prohibition in the United States, whisky was often called "jake," which was a slang term for Jamaica Ginger extract, often used for flavoring. A related term was "jake leg," referring to a paralysis caused by drinking improperly distilled or contaminated liquor.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks: Pammie Story #4

The End

By Susan C. Price

[Sequel to “Sex,” published on November 25]

I think of Nick’s final leaving of Pam in New York as the “tipping point,” where Pam’s brain’s capacity for somewhat healthy reinvention began to dissolve. She was furious, and her calls increased, but she seemed sort of like her usual self. Then she began seeking and taking on increasing strange-for-her jobs for which she was ill-equipped, perhaps in her haste born of her terror at not having enough income for the lifestyle she expected. “NEVER touch the Principal!!!” she repeated as her mantra, though she had inherited about 1/2 million at her parents’ death, and she eventually had both a small state pension and Social Security.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Review: Tolkien's books and Jackson's movies

Conflicts within and between them

By James T. Carney

I read Eric Meub’s excellent essay on Tom Bombadil [“Third Monday Musing: Remembering Tom Bombadil”] with great interest. I have never been that enthused about the Peter Jackson movies. I have no great problem with the fact that they drop out parts of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, because cuts are inevitable given the nature of movies, and particularly inevitable in the case of a three-volume work that is the first great epic since John Milton’s works.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Third Saturday Fiction

Slip Sliding Away (a short story)

By Steve Glossin

[The previous Farley story, "Walking the Dog," was published in October.]

Farley in his new maroon sweatpants glanced up at the avocado green neon sign above the weathered yellow door. Moe’s Irish Pub, between two large flashing shamrocks. Three weeks ago it was Moe’s Tex-Mex, with a couple of pulsating cactuses, and next month it would probably be a rice and noodle dive. Farley liked Big Moe’s philosophy, give’em what they want and if they don’t like it...give’em something else. A good thing Moe’s brother-in-law was in the neon sign business.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Another creator doing something special: "You've Never Seen Native America Like This." Excerpt:
[Photographer Matika Wilbur] is en route to the Southwest–stopping in Arizona and New Mexico–as part of a three-year project to photograph indigenous peoples from every federally recognized tribe in the United States."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thor's Day: A little skirmish over "the War on Christmas"

By Morris Dean

I hadn't thought much about "the War on Christmas" until I watched the Dec. 3 Daily Show with Jon Stewart, on which he had his usual infectious fun with..."the War on Christmas."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How does a family deal with dementia in a parent?

By Susan C. Price

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

My father remarried a family friend after the death of my mother. They moved nearby a few years ago to be nearer some of their children (three of Dad's one of Stepmom's). My stepmother is showing increasing signs of memory and dementia issues and has been seeing a physician for these problems. They are in their 80s and the toll on my father is showing in his physical health. How do I get my stepsister to take a more active role in caring for her mother to relieve my dad of some of the pressure? –Maggie

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Tuesday Voice: The one-tennial of their first flight

The "Flyer" lifted off level ground near
Big Kill Devil Hill at 10:35 a.m., Dec.
17, 1903 and flew 120 ft. in 12 secs.
East Carolina 1903

By André Duvall

Cushions of sand buffer
    trials of error and success
Open roads of wind propel
    tries at a new way to cruise

Monday, December 16, 2013

Third Monday Musing

Remembering Tom Bombadil

By Eric Meub

A recent weekend witnessed the opening of the second installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy: The Desolation of Smaug. While millions of us will watch the director continue to indulge his limitless thirst for vertigo, this is also an excellent time to muse upon those fragments of the J.R.R. Tolkien opus that have escaped such cinematic spectacle.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday Review: The East

A moral thriller

By Morris Dean

The East (2013, directed by Zal Batmanglij) has confirmed my sense that writer-actor Brit Marling is a person of interest. She not only co-wrote this film with the director, but also stars in it as Sarah, who joins a private "intelligence firm" and takes on the assignment to find and infiltrate an extreme activist group that seems intent on terrorizing certain corporations that are responsible for killing people and stripping the earth.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



She closed no doors at home. Sometimes they’d shout
at her, slammed by the wind: a single clap
of violent conclusion, like a trap
to seal her in a room. Or keep her out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fish for Friday (Tank #1)

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Whether the weather be fine,
or whether the weather be not,
whether the weather be cold
or whether the weather be hot,
we'll weather the weather
whatever the weather,
whether we like it or not.

Fish for Friday (Tank # 2)

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Limerick #2 of the Week:
So many fish this week! What can we do?
How would it like to go down with you
    if we broke them out
    into bass and trout
and presented them in Tanks 1 and 2?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thor's Day: What counts as evidence…

…for the resurrection of Jesus?

By Kyle Garza

Have you heard of the massive Olympic-class ship that sank in 1898? It was the largest vessel in the ocean at the time, described as virtually unsinkable. Unfortunately, it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean in the middle of April, and more than 1,500 of its passengers and crew lost their lives at sea.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I get a friend to repay money I lent him?

By Susan C. Price

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

I lent a friend that I have known since Kindergarden $7,000 and he said he would pay me back within 6 months. I see him quite often and although he never offers anything towards the debt, he always acknowledges he owes me. Imagine my surprise and anger to hear that he has got engaged with a huge rock for his fiancée, plus he is buying a condo!!
    I don’t want to go down the legal route if I can avoid it. I am fairly well off, but it’s a question of principle. How can I approach him without causing conflict, especially of the physical kind? –Penny

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Tadpole in winter

By Ed Rogers

[Sequel to “Tadpole Creek” and “The Mule Ride.”]

For Christmas I received a brand new B.F. Goodrich bicycle. It was red with white strips and the prettiest thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t wait to get it to my grandparents’ farm for Herbert and Willie to see. Nobody had plans to go out to the farm until that weekend. However, I became such a pain in the butt, my Aunt Thelma decided the farm would be good for her peace of mind. I loaded the bike in the trunk and off we went.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Second Monday Music: Absolute pitch

Not absolutely necessary!

By André Duvall

Absolute pitch is a person’s ability to identify a musical tone sounded to them without hearing a reference tone. There are various manifestations of absolute pitch (also commonly referred to as “perfect pitch”). It can be considered the ability of a person to sing a particular tone “pulled out of thin air,” without any prior sound given to them. Some who possess this trait can identify multiple tones sounded at once, in addition to single tones; I have met others who cannot identify isolated tones, but they can identify the key of a musical piece when hearing multiple tones in harmony and in succession. What advantages or disadvantages are there for a musician to have absolute pitch?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sunday Review: Movie 43

Do the ends justify it?

By Morris Dean

Its focus on scatological humor will prevent some viewers from watching some (or much, or maybe all) of Movie 43 (2013, numerous directors, most of whom seem to appear in the story they wrote). But it is FU-U-U-NNY!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

First Saturday as the World Turns

The Southern voter

By Ed Rogers

[The first of Ed Rogers's new monthly column appeared on November 2.]

Let’s face it, I’m a Democrat. My mother, father, and grandparents were Democrats. All the way back to the New Deal, the South was Democrat. It was the New Deal—or government if you will—that brought the South indoor plumbing so people no longer needed to rush across their yard to the outhouse. Because of the New Deal, or government, the South got electric lights and telephones.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Rumi is always good. But he was clearly a "day person"—unless he'd been drinking all night when he wrote it?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thor's Day: A parishioner's sense of humor


By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[Editor's Note: You know that intolerable sermons have touched a sore spot when parishioners take such pains as this—even if in fantasy—to ridicule the ministers who perpetrate them.]

A rich man had an irresistible proposal for his minister: "I want you and your wife to take a three-month trip to the Holy Land at my expense. When you come back, I'll have a surprise for you".

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Should I confess my secret?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have been with my partner for the last eight years. Three years ago, I lost both parents in a car crash. Soon after, I had two one-night stands. This was completely out of character and I have never done anything like it since. My partner makes me very happy, and I am eaten up with guilt. It is the only secret between us. Should I confess? –Nigel

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Tadpole Creek

By Ed Rogers

[Editor's Apology: We have already inadvertently published the story that should have followed today's. If you wish to read the two stories in their intended order, there's a link to the second story at the bottom.]

To a young boy, Tadpole Creek could become a world unto itself—full of adventure from early morning until late at night. The creek ran through my grandparents’ farm and through my young life.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Review: Arthur Newman


By Morris Dean

The movie Arthur Newman (2012, released theatrically in 2013, directed by Dante Ariola) isn't about Arthur Newman, except in the negative sense that the character it is about—failed professional golfer, father, and divorced husband Wallace Avery (played by Colin Firth)—can't be golf pro Arthur Newman.