Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Review: The Jesse Stone movies

Say it again, Jesse

By Morris Dean

If you look under Tom Selleck's filmography as a producer (IMDb), you'll see that he has eight "Jesse Stone" TV films to his credit—all based on Robert B. Parker's novels about the character. The first film, Stone Cold, came out in 2005, followed by the prequel Jesse Stone: Night Passage in 2006, which gave the back story to explain why Stone lost his job as homicide detective in Los Angeles and found his way to Paradise, Massachusetts, a small coastal town north of Boston.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The eyes, the eyes!

Ever watchful

By Morris Dean

The joy of the birds on our thistle feeder last Sunday compelled me to set up my digiscoping equipment for the first time in many weeks. These photos have not been cropped.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fish for Friday

If there were still any doubt aboute shifting balance of geopolitical power away from the U.S. and toward China and other countries, this settles it: "Snowden leaves Hong Kong, may be heading for Venezuela."
     Edward Snowden no doubt foresaw a tenuous and potentially short life anywhere that could be easily reached by the tentacles of U.S. "intelligence" efforts. I suspect he will wind up in Venezuela or someplace similar. At this point I compare Snowden more to the Rosenbergs and their A-bomb decision than to "the Pentagon papers" and similar. What the U.S. is doing with its world-wide computer hacking, while constantly griping about what the Chinese are doing, is basically the same as trying to prevent other countries from having nuclear power or nuclear armaments, while amassing enough weapons-grade plutonium in the U.S. to destroy the world several times over.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Thor's Day: Let's keep it simple

By Morris Dean

I was greatly affected by last week's column on finding our common ground, written by Paul Clark, aka motomynd. In a reply to his comment under that column that he was struck by the earnestness of those who took our recent survey on prayer, I commented: "I need to watch my own earnestness from time to time." And, in another comment I said, "I probably owe some people an apology for being overly earnest in trashing their beliefs and practices."
    I feel that those statements are so true.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Another blogger on his Bulgarian cultural websites

By Morris Dean

It recently came to my attention that my grandson maintains a couple of blogs on Bulgarian culture. He has generously agreed to be interviewed about them.
    Christopher-Joseph Ravnopolski-Dean is an American-Bulgarian. If he had been born in the United States and lived here, I’d have said “Bulgarian-American,” but he was born in Sofia and lives there. He recently completed his freshman year at the American University in Bulgaria, in Blagoevgrad (some photos of which were included in my June 12, 2011 post, “Bulgarian travelogue concluded”).
    Our questions are in italics.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Grand Canyon adventure—Part 1

Why the Grand Canyon?

By James T. Carney

Why the Grand Canyon? was a question I was asking myself resentfully on the morning of March 3, 2013 as I woke up constipated and filled with fear that I was embarked on an expedition that I was not up to. I remembered the wise words of my college roommate Mo’s invocation of Nancy Reagan’s “just say no” defense when I told him years ago about my concerns about making a trip to Italy with my son’s in-laws, who were going to spend half the time with their Italian relatives who spoke only Italian,which—contrary to my sister’s bold assertion that it was readily comprehensible to any Latin scholar—was unintelligible to me. I didn’t say no to that trip and I didn’t say no to the Grand Canyon either but at that particular moment I was heartily regretting not having learned from the prior experience. Sometimes the spirit of adventure gets the better of my normal, conservative, lawyerly self.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Self-portrait on green paper
Another granddaughter moment

By Susan C. Price

Our kids and the granddaughter live on a short, dead-end block. Perfect for small fry walking with grandma: no traffic concerns.
    Across the street lives a boy a few months older, Parker. For the first years, Parker and granddaughter played together daily. Mostly, they played well, but Parker was given to throwing things. Parker was the first to call me “grandma” he associated my grey hair with that title.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Review: Hysteria

Paroxysmal convulsions of delight

By Morris Dean

I wish that every review I ever wrote was of something as delightful as the 2011 British film, Hysteria, directed by Tanya Wexler and starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal, with Felicity Jones, Jonathan Pryce, and Rupert Everett in key supporting roles. It's not only a delight, it's also extremely informative. Did you know that the root of the word "hysteria" is the Greek word ὑστέρα ["hystera" = uterus]? Or that, in the late nineteenth century, about half the female population of England was considered to suffer from hysteria and that those who could afford to be treated by a physician would go in for more or less regular vulvar and clitoral massages to achieve relief through "paroxysmal convulsions"?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

Outrage called out

By James Knudsen

“Don’t get your panties in a twist!”
    We’ve all heard the expression. I must confess that only recently did I figure out about which axis the panties were twisting. Axis being the extent of my grasp of geometry, the math lesson ends here. I’m more concerned with the who, how, and why of all this knicker knotting, for I believe that regardless of how and why, there’s too much of it going on.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fish for Friday

The clown princes of the Monterey Bay, if you're on the peninsula stop by the Aquarium and say hello.

Heard on the radio: "In Britain a psychic just had to cancel a meeting 'due to unforeseen circumstances'."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thor's Day: Let's find our common ground

A non-traditional approach

By motomynd

This column’s June 6 survey, “Thor’s Day: How does belief in prayer affect how you regard the here and now?” was most thought-provoking.
    That people often live outside the official doctrine of the religion they claim to follow has to me always been the most baffling aspect of “organized” or “official” religions. It is like saying one is “anti-gun” while walking around armed. How someone can drink or use drugs, and say they are a devout member of a religion that is against both, just makes no sense. Ditto for adultery, lying, cheating, stealing, and on and on.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Ask Wednesday: What's in store?

In-person interviews, in trestina

By Morris Dean

Yesterday someone who has much to say
agreed to be interviewed, in person,
and I will record it all tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday Voice


By Susan C. Price

Last week, baby-sitting my 4½-year-old granddaughter, I saw a new photobook, with a picture on the cover of her standing next to a boy named Declan that she had mentioned pointedly before. “His family has a beach house!”

Monday, June 17, 2013

Third Monday Random

AARP member doing spot of must-reading
Bucket lists: Why?

By motomynd

This is ominous. I’m reading my daily news feed from adventure sports icon “Outside” and I notice a hyperlink down the left side of the screen from AARP. Outside Magazine was my gospel in an era when I wrote about, photographed, and competed in adventure sports for a living, and now its website is a good place for AARP to promote something? Ominous.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Review: Frances Ha

Indefinite self-definition

By Jonathan Price

Who or what is Frances Ha? That is the question Noah Baumbach’s recent film keeps asking and refusing to answer as its central character, Frances Halladay (Greta Gerwig, also its co-writer), moves through a recurring series of relationships and apartments trying to find her way mostly in New York City. And so the film is an attempt to define the amorphous group of young singles from, say, 22 to 30, who have graduated from college and have a series of friends and locations, but are essentially still in limbo or a second latency period.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Thor's Day follow-up: Where the "Kingdom of God" is

Deconstructing prayer in sestina

By Morris Dean

You said that talking with God is one-way1:
we can talk "to" God but can't talk "with" Him.
You told us that God is imaginary
and we are really talking to ourselves—
or "with," I suppose, if we should answer.
What, then, do you say about
fulfilled prayers?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thor's Day: Talking to God

Imaginary friend in sestina

By Morris Dean

For this I need someone to talk to, God.
I had a few imaginary friends
long ago—when I was an only child.
It was helpful to have someone to talk
to when no one else was there to tide me.
For what's up here, now, I have to have You.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Why so much sestina?

Psychiatry session in sestina

By Morris Dean

Doctor, Why do I so much sestina?
I think you like the poem's imposed order.
They're a lot like the Sudoku puzzles
in the morning paper. You like to piece
the numbers together and keep busy
and prove once again the solution's safe.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Things that go boom

By Ed Rogers

I am sure we have all had those times where we could do nothing but shake our head, and ask why the hell did I do that? I've had so many of those times I stopped asking.
    But there were a couple times that were both dumb and a little funny at the same time....

Monday, June 10, 2013

Second Monday Music: Sounds of the natural world


By André Duvall

Our world is filled with natural sounds. Inanimate nature has provided aural stimulation for humankind across the ages in the form of waterfalls, rain, thunder, wind, rustling leaves, and ocean waves. Collectively, these types of sounds are termed geophanies. Geophanies have the power to affect human emotions in various ways. The steady flow of a waterfall may calm one’s agitated nerves, a sudden clap of thunder on a dark night may frighten a child, and the sound of waves crashing on the beach may create nostalgia for one who used to live on the coast.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Review: Martin Amis reviewing Jane Austen

Two for one

By Morris Dean

Today it's two for one1, or one within another. Martin Amis's 2001 collection, The War against Cliché: Essays and Reviews, 1971-20002 is itself a two-for-one: writing that's just fun to read, plus a few dozen reviews of books that you might be glad to have read about and decide to read one or two, or a few.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Piedmont eye chart

Near and far in sestina

By Morris Dean

Questions have arisen about sunsets.
Why is one beautiful to me but plain
to the next person? Some want horizons
spread out under a big sky at a far
distance over vast space, but I want near
displays set against trees and local piedmont

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fish for Friday

The Chapel Hill Chancellor
Holden Thorp arrived at UNC five years ago, heralded on all sides as the ideal man to take the university to new levels. After three years of struggling with athletic violations of epidemic proportions, he leaves to become chancellor of a school one-third the size of UNC, and that rather conspicuously competes at a level where the school runs the athletics, not the other way around. "[Outgoing UNC Chancellor] Thorp proposes changes in athletic leadership at big time sports universities."

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Thor's Day: How does belief in prayer affect how you regard the here and now? [a survey]

Blatte's Fractals: Apophysis
By Morris Dean

In last week's column, I stated that
your doctor will almost surely nod and tell you it can't hurt to pray and have prayers said for you. So go ahead. And we won't object either. If it makes you feel better, where's the harm?
One reader took exception to the concluding question. While acknowledging that "there may not be any harm in prayer itself," he said that there is harm in prayer's "connection to religion," whose purpose, he said, is "to give people an 'out' when bad things happen in the real world." He said that having such an out encourages people "to take the real world less seriously than they should" because "there is a next world where things will be made right." He contended that if people took this world more seriously, and took better care of the world and of themselves here and now, maybe they wouldn't be needing a doctor—or prayer—in the first place.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ask Wednesday: What recent accomplishment has given you the most satisfaction?

By Morris Dean

Today's interview features a single question that I put to a number of people on Monday: Of everything you have done since Friday, what has given you the most satisfaction of accomplishment? And why?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Coyote Gulch

The author at work
By Chuck Smythe

As a certified geezer, I have accumulated several old backcountry buddies over the decades. Since the turn of the century, we’ve made an effort to get out together twice a year. This spring the company fit for service included Ed, who introduced me to climbing and XC [cross-country] skiing back in the 60’s, and Phil, Philosopher and Navy doctor from San Diego. And me. Our target was the lower Hole-In-The-Rock road, in the Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Monday, June 3, 2013

First Monday with Characters

The new Bay Bridge to San Francisco
from the upper floor of Tom's building
[Transamerica Pyramid far right]
Edited by Morris Dean

Tom Lowe, unmobile
This has been the Spring of my discontent. Back around Xmas I injured a toe while navigating my living space in the dark, and the recovery process, complicated by my diabetes, has gone very slowly. In the meantime I been wandering from doctors office to doctors office working out a strategy to solve this mess. Latest effort is physical therapy, followed by acupuncture to increase circulation when my doctor returns from China. After a couple of weeks the mix of techniques seem to easing the tightness and pain.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Review: Oblivion

Echoes of past and future

By Jonathan Price

Utopia is the name of a famous 16th century vision by Sir Thomas More that has given its name to visions of a different world. In More it is ironic, meaning literally “nowhere”; and it is a place where a seeming ideal state has hidden flaws, such as never fighting war itself, but encouraging war in its allies and subordinates. Samuel Butler echoed this thinking in his Erewhon, which is almost Nowhere spelled backwards.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

First Saturday Green 101: Goatsucker memories

The author during a pensive moment
behind bars on the Congo/Rwanda border
By motomynd

When I have time on a spring evening to take the old Honda Shadow for a spirited cruise on local country roads, there are two stops I always make on the way back home. One is for the way it looks, the other for the way it sounds.
    The first place has the most vivid sunsets I have been able to find in this part of central North Carolina. Having photographed sunsets in all 50 states and on four continents, I should have seen enough of them, but I’m still a sucker for even the lackluster ones we have in these parts.