Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fifth Saturday Fiction

Prologue [“The President”] of the novel The Board

By Ed Rogers

[Editor's note: The novel rests on the premise that a Republican was elected in the 2008 presidential election.]

John Cahill stepped from the shelter of the hotel and was greeted by a splash of rain water from the street. It was cold in Washington that first January morning he visited the Capitol. The rain had not been anticipated, the weathermen had called for light snow. John was dressed for warmth, not wet. He pulled his collar up in an attempt to keep the rain off his neck. The cold wind was waking the giant—the city was shuddering and shaking, trying to forsake the night and prepare to do battle with the new day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

You said that you and your wife were trying to decide whether to participate in a trial program from Duke Energy whereby you might be able to reduce your energy costs by lowering the amount you use during peak demand periods, but you were having trouble figuring out whether it would be to your advantage. Perhaps you need to have a clearer understanding of the difference between kilowatts and kilowatt hours: "kW and kWh Explained." Their simple explanation is easy to understand. Most basically, "kWh is a measure of energy, whilst kW is a measure of power...."

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thor's Day: In case of emergency

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[Editor's Note: Denominations may matter when it comes to purchasing the right bra, but when it comes to practical emergencies, dogmatic responses rarely address the real problem.]

During an ecumenical assembly, a secretary rushed in shouting, “The building is on fire!”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

Should I not go to my daughter's wedding?

By Susan C. Price

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

My daughter, who is 26, is getting married next year and has just informed me that she wants her father to be there plus his partner whom he left me for! I’m not happy about this because I know she will expect me NOT to speak to them or sit near them, meaning I may not be on the table with the main wedding guests! I’m so upset I’m thinking of either not going or, if I do, not trying to contain my emotions! Her siblings have already told her they don’t wish to go to the wedding at all.
    I looked after our three children from the time they were 4, 6, and this daughter 8. Their father never paid any money towards them or saw them until this daughter got in touch with him several years ago. I’m heart-broken because it’s as if she is throwing in my face everything I did for her and all the sacrifices I made to put her through college, etc. I’ve tried speaking to her and explaining that I don’t think it’s a good idea for her father and his new partner to be there, but she just tells me that I’m an adult and need to deal with it! Her fiancé just shrugs and says it’s up to her. Please help! –Rosalind

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

Beejooly and Dad

By Vic Midyett

My parents arrived in India in 1950 as missionaries. I was born on the kitchen table soon after they arrived, and my sister, Anita, was born four years later. There were no paved roads where we were—only four-wheel-drive access.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks: Pammie Story #3


By Susan C. Price

[Sequel to “Setting the stage: Family life and quirks,” published on October 28]

Pam was always trying to connect with men, usually in the basest way possible. She would not have said, “I met a man and we had a fascinating argument about opera.” It would be, “I met a man and we had a fascinating argument about opera, then I gave him head. He said I was quite good at it. Well, I KNEW that!”

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Review: Pete Seeger in His Own Words (book review)

From the archive

By Tom Lowe

I saw Pete Seeger in concert once, over thirty years ago. If you’ve been to his concerts or seen him on TV, you’ve gotten the sense that Pete is a graceful, articulate communicator who respects his audience and seeks to expand their horizons. Coming from a family of folklorists and academic music teachers, he set out early in his performing career to educate as well as entertain. Most of his writing has been in song books and a column for Sing Out! Magazine, which gave a sense of his thinking, but didn’t reach the depth I wished for. Then I found a book to satisfy my desires.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: Fifty years later

JJK remembers JFK

By James [Jerome] Knudsen

For the past week this nation has been remembering, reliving, and rehashing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. We’ve heard from the usual suspects; people who were there in Dallas, or at the inauguration, or in the situation room during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The cable television world has been awash in docu-dramas and biography pieces, the latest conspiracy theories along with the old ones. I’m not interested in critiquing them, I don’t want to discuss the “what ifs” or shine a light on the dark, musty corners of castle Camelot. And with good reason, I wasn’t around back then. On that fateful day in Dallas that saw the end of the JFK era, the JJK era was still 474 days away. My perspective is that of one who has no memories of his own, only the memories of other people’s memories.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The first words I heard about JFK's death were "I'm glad they shot him"

By Paul Clark

It is Friday, November 22, and the radio crackles with stories about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy exactly 50 years ago today. Many stations are encouraging listeners to call in with their memories about where they were when they heard JFK was dead, and what they remember about the day and the era. Most remembrances are positive, thank goodness for that. I grew up in Southwest Virginia, at a time JFK was forcing public schools to finally desegregate. My first remembrances of JFK's death are unfortunately not positive ones.

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Memorial Limerick:
In fifty years I've forgotten a lot,
but one thing I've forgotten is not
    where I was when I heard
    the spirit-crushing word:
"No, no, no, no! The President's been shot!"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thor's Day: Rest for the weary

David Hayward goes by "the naked pastor"
Wake up! This isn't church!

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[Editor's Note: Sleeping during sermons must be a common occurrence, it's the subject of many jokes involving church. But a good proportion of church-goers are sleep-deprived people who'd do better to just sleep in on Sundays.]

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About why people reject global warming

By Susan C. Price

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

Why can’t more people believe in global warming, when it is so obvious to anyone with any intelligence? –Deborah

Truly a puzzlement (as the King says in “The King and I”). Fast thoughts:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Voice: The selling of America

The Trans-Pacific Partnership

By Ed Rogers

For too long the American people have gotten the short end of the stick. We have stood by as factory after factory closed their doors. We have watched as gas prices climb for no good reason. We have allowed corporations to run roughshod over our rights as citizens. They take the land for their benefit and when they have finished with it, they walk away. Left behind is a toxic wasteland. Few lawsuits have succeeded in the full cleanup of the toxicants. On the beaches along the Gulf Coast, tar balls still wash ashore. On the floor of the Gulf, there is a river of oil, which the oil companies tell us a micro-organism is supposed to be eating?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Third Monday Musing

Interior journeys: Reading stream of consciousness

By Eric Meub

[This is the first of Eric Meub's new monthly column.]

Why is Great Modern Literature at times so difficult to read? The challenges can range from elevated diction and obscure references to, occasionally, the total absence of a plot. My hardest struggle with the modern masterpieces, though, involved a narrative tool that’s known as interior monologue or stream of consciousness. This literary device locks the reader inside a character’s head: truly inside, with less of the “he thought…” or “it occurred to him…” of more conventional writing. In interior monologue, the reader listens to thoughts that play out in a fictional character’s consciousness in the order they occur. It’s sloppier than mind-reading and far more invasive. But the power of such a literary experience transcends our concepts of “a good read.”

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Review: The Silence

Lonely people

By Morris Dean

Fifteen minutes from the end of the 2010 German thriller, Das letzte Schweigen [The Silence], directed by Baran bo Odar, I asked my wife, "Do you think they might end up not solving this case? The retired police chief was right about the new chief—he's a dimwit."
    The film opens graphically with the rape and murder, 23 years ago, of an 11-year-old girl in a field not far from her home. She has been followed by two men in a red car—or, rather, followed by the driver, his passenger inertly going along for the ride, witnessing the crimes, and saying nothing. Who are these guys, what gives?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Third Saturday Fiction

Chapter 2. A High Price to Pay, from the novel The Killer

By Jackie Sims

[Sequel to “A killer is born”]

The thing about taking out a high-profile target on your first kill is you now have a reputation to uphold. Each kill has to be equal or higher. Sarah’s services were in demand and she and Afshan lived up to the rep they had started. Unfortunately, most of her targets had been middle-management types—the ones who carried out the orders. However, with her fourteen clean kills, she had earned the respect of the rebel commanders.
    That was why she was happy to take on the job of killing a cabinet minister.
    They were the ones who pass the orders down but never get their hands dirty. Those orders had taken a heavy toll on the rebel forces and she was being paid $5,000 to put a stop to at least one of them.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fish for Friday

Floral tile
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Reluctantly beginning to do my holiday gift shopping, I was relieved to read at the end of Susan Price's column this week that she has a virtual store. [Permanent links in sidebar; see "Blog Department Store."]

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thor's Day: Don't blow my cover

Mr. Bean at church (Rowan Atkinson)
Notes from a church closet

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[Editor's Note: After the previous column on overlooked opportunities afforded by boring sermons, someone sent me the jokes below who refused to identify him (or her) self, "because I don't want my family to find out I'm not a believer. They would disown me."]

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About the most important thing to leave behind

By Susan C. Price

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

What's the most important thing to leave behind at the end of life? –Claire

It’s best to assume you are leaving EVERYTHING behind. My advice is to plan to die on the day you spend or give away your last penny.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday Voice: The gun debate

Not that there’s a real conversation

By Tom Lowe

I’ve pretty much stayed out of the debate on guns that has taken place over the last year or so, suspecting that little impact on people’s reasoning was likely. Basically, I disagreed with the reasoning of all the positions articulated, that their frames of reference assumed a rationality I doubted existed; but I wasn’t clear why. The language of the Second Amendment seems clear [A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed], yet somehow the current dispute ignores the first half.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Second Monday Music: Boulder’s fall concert of Baroque music

Suitable for church

By Chuck Smythe

The fall concert season has struck, and with it the latest offering from the Seicento Baroque Ensemble. This is a group formed by Evanne Browne, kappellmeister of Boulder’s First United Methodist Church. She is a noted scholar of early music, and seems to know everyone in the field.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Review: Captain Phillips

A tale of two captains: An asymmetrical conflict

By Jonathan Price

The 2013 film Captain Phillips (directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Tom Hanks) is the story of two captains, but its title tells us nothing of the story, for most of us already know it, whether from reading the papers or seeing the previews, where everyman Hanks-Phillips eventually succeeds in defeating Somali pirates who are trying to take over his ship. Or so it would seem.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub



The altercation takes her by surprise:
same boy, same busy street, same tug-of-war
about authority. Today her eyes,
all by themselves it seems, have shut a door.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

How can you help an endangered species by killing one of its members?! "Texas Club Auctions Right to Hunt Endangered Rhino."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thor's Day: Boring sermons reconsidered

William Hogarth drawing
Opportunities in disguise

By Anonymous1,2,3

Edited by Morris Dean

[Editor's Note: You may consider church a waste of time, but boring sermons do provide an opportunity to think up religious jokes. At your next opportunity, consult your muse and take notes on the leaflet you were handed when you entered the sanctuary.]

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

About a friend who is always busy

By Susan C. Price

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

I have a friend who, whether she is working 10 hours a week, 30 hours a week, or not working at all, seems to always be busy, overworked, etc. It is hard to understand. –Kathleen

It is so nice that you keep trying to understand. This is what friends do for each other.
    Try these answers on for size:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tuesday Voice: Fired up

By Madison Kimrey

[Republished here with permission from Madison's blog, "Functional Human Being"]

I was so excited when I got invited to speak at Moral Monday in Alamance County [on October 28] . I was glad to have the opportunity to show other young people that if they pay attention and take action, they could make a difference.
    Having been to previous Moral Mondays in Raleigh, Asheville, Charlotte, and Greensboro, I sort of knew what to expect. What I didn't expect was for so many people to show up right in my own little hometown. There were over 500 people at the event. The main organizer, Noah Read of Burlington, did a fantastic job of arranging and publicizing the event along with the Alamance County NAACP.

Monday, November 4, 2013

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

Jack Cover feeling reborn
This late summer and early fall have been much better for me. I now have weekly infusions of Torisel, which seems to be keeping my cancer under control. Cam and I now go every Wednesday to Duke; if it's Wednesday, it's Duke day. I am past the hiccups and swollen legs (edema), but still have a little problem with balance.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Review: Trance

Tell me how it ends

By Morris Dean

I don't know how Trance ends. This slick, over-self-confident mistake of a film (2013, directed by Danny Boyle and starring James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, and Rosario Dawson) dissolved into incoherence minutes before I checked with my wife and we agreed it was hopeless. It started out with the heist of a twenty-or-so-million-dollar Goya painting, which the insider Simon (McAvoy) "lost" and couldn't remember where he'd put it because of being hit in the head by fellow art thief Franck (Cassel) during the robbery, leading to their engaging hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Dawson)....It wasn't long into the "therapy" that the plot melted all over the screen like...what? Scrambled eggs being heated on a cold grill?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

First Saturday as the World Turns

The 2014 election

By Ed Rogers

[This is the first of Ed Rogers's new monthly column.]

It would seem that for all practical purposes the “Tea Party” has shot itself in the foot—both feet to be correct. However, many things need to happen before you will be able to call the beast dead.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Your blog has frequently shined light on the predation of species, but usually occurring in Africa. What about Europe? What about its "tradition of often illegal songbird hunting, where small migrating birds are a delicacy? The glue and net traps all over the Mediterranean, France, and the Near East kill close to 30 million birds every year and threaten the survival of some kinds of birds," according to the documentary, Emptying the Skies, for which an "Elon professor wins award for first full-length documentary."