Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Review: How We Got to Now (TV) & 700 Sundays (theatre on HBO)

Strange fruit

By Morris Dean

I don't think I would ever have paired Steven Johnson's How We Got to Now & Billy Crystal's 700 Sundays for a joint review, but for each work's striking invocation of a 1939 song by Billie Holiday, each describing it as perhaps America's first protest song – or racial protest song at any rate. Pairing the two works seemed imperative. Then I realized that the works also have in common that they are theatrical one-man shows, and both are explicitly stories about getting to now.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Fifth Saturday Fiction

Reaching Out
(a short story), Part 1

By Steve Glossin

William ‘Bill’ Green placed his left mocha-brown penny loafer on the pavement of the M&P Furniture Emporium parking lot, then his right, and slid out of his maroon ’73 VW Beetle. He made clucking sounds with his tongue as he glanced around the vacant parking lot, then shook his head in disgust. The small islands of trash scattered over the recently painted lot were not there when he closed the previous evening.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Be careful how much nutmeg you use on your pumpkin pies tomorrow [yesterday now]: "A Warning on Nutmeg." Excerpt:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thor's Day: Thanksb’giving


By Morris Dean

A friend told me recently that he’s looking forward to Christmas, because he so much enjoys choosing the perfect gift to put under people’s trees – something that says “thank you” to each person in a way he or she can recognize and appreciate: giving as a way of saying thanks, or saying thanks by giving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What did Susan's column last week remind James T. Carney of?

Cigarette smoke was the only scent that bothered me

By James T. Carney

I thought that Susan’s suggestion to Angie that she have humorous signs alerting visitors to her office that she was allergic to perfumes made a lot of sense. The basic approach of appealing to people as opposed to ordering them is a more effective approach (despite the fact that having spent my career in US Steel, which was an organization to the right of the Prussian army, I had my own view of getting people moving).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Posthumously speaking 7

Detail from first painting below
Inspired by nature

By Mary Alice Condley (1925-2007)

[Editor's Note: The artist's son Tim and his wife Kerri own today's five paintings. Says Kerri, "Several years before Mary passed, Tim and I had moved into our new house on Woodpecker Drive in Oregon and we had no art or paintings for the walls. On a visit to California I mentioned this to Mary and she took me to the garage. I couldn't believe she had all those paintings in the freezer. I think I took every last one."
    A painting from the collection of the artist's granddaughter Dawn Stella Burke was shown on October 28. Twenty-two of Mary's paintings have now graced Moristotle & Co.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Personal grooming
in public

By Susan C. Price

Like PDA (personal display of affection), personal grooming in public (PGIP) is always fascinating to observe. Two recent examples.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fourth Sunday through Tom's Looking Glass

In appreciation of Tom Lowe

By Susan Werner

[Editor’s Note: The author submitted today's article under these words:
I am writing with appreciation of Tom Lowe, and his contributions to illustrating our activism for human rights at St. Mary’s Center in Oakland, California, a non-profit community of hope, healing, and justice serving extremely low-income preschoolers and seniors, with comprehensive services for seniors who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: About the Panhard

Dad's kind of car

By James Knudsen

“All that remains is the Panhard. But not for long. That is a story for next time...”
    Last month I ended my column with a sort of a cliff-hanger. I’d written about growing up in an ordinary town with unordinary cars, owned by an extraordinary father. I had planned to write about the final disposition of that vehicle, because it’s a good story. But the story became more complex and more completed. It recent days I’ve heard much, from many, about just how extraordinary he was. But first, let’s review that Panhard.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Today I awoke to the news of the death of Morris Knudsen (July 13, 1927 – November 13, 2014), educator, father, grandfather, and all-around conspicuous character from my home town.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thor's Day: Riding the graces

Not in this world

By Ralph Earle

No one who has gone there has complained.
It is simple and obvious. No one denies it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I protect myself from scents in an office environment?

By Susan C. Price

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

I have bad allergy problems. Some distinct scents (some sprays and some perfumes) can really cause trouble for me.
    Sometimes, some of the people who stop by my office are wearing a strong scent that makes me cough and have headaches.
    I like people and love them to stop by, but I may not be able to tolerate the perfume they wear. How should I shorten the conversation and let them know the problem (my problem) without hurting their feelings? –Angie

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Growing up in America

Two years at Shaw High

By Rolf Dumke

I often reflect on my first years in the United States after my family immigrated from bombed-out Germany in the early 50s. There were those wonderful first years in a middle-class neighborhood and school, after living in the rough Hugh District of Cleveland until the late 50s. Instead of returning to Germany, my parents used their hard-earned savings to buy a suburban house in East Cleveland, which allowed me two good years at Shaw High School.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Third Monday Musing

Speaking out

By Ed Rogers

I guess that seeing the world in a totally different light than the talking heads, and most people from my home state, I’m expected to keep quiet. However, I’m tired of hearing the same old crap and saying nothing.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Review: Fading Gigolo, Her, & Autumn Sonata

Love therapy

By Geoffrey Dean

Three films that I chose randomly at the local library for home viewing turned out to have several things in common. Each was written by its director, each features a small nucleus of interacting characters, and each treats a different form of what I would call “love therapy.” I’ll discuss them in the order I watched them:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
It doesn’t hurt to ask (a short story)

By W.M. Dean

The letter said they’d shipped it to her three weeks ago. Their records showed it had been delivered. Had she checked with her neighbors? UPS would leave an item next door if you weren’t home.
    She went to the Collinses next door on the left. Young Mrs. Collins worked in an office, but she was home now on maternity leave. It would be her first. She’d learn soon enough what it was like.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

My Gosh, this chalk artist is totally awesome and his talent is beyond anything that we see here.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thor's Day: Holy Humor 7

One establishment's recipe

By Anonymous

[Editor's Note: This photo of a church parking lot board was sent to us by one of our correspondents.]

Copyright © 2014 by Morris Dean

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ask Wednesday: What are your favorite passages from The Moral Landscape?

A few of many

By Morris Dean

The Moral Landscape is one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors – Sam Harris. He's been mentioned once or twice already on Moristotle & Co.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

Meant to be

By Bettina Sperry

[Editor's Note: Today's article inaugurates a new monthly column by the latest addition to our staff, and we're lucky to have her.]

When I was a child, I had a large playroom. The room was filled with toys, dolls, and stuffed animals. I’d put my stuffed animals in chairs around my little table where I would serve them an imaginary lunch and tea. Foretelling, perhaps.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Second Monday Music: Something special

U.S. cover
Beethoven's Archduke Trio

By Morris Dean

In Colm Tóibín's latest novel, Nora Webster, the title character pulls a new life together during the three years immediately following the death of her husband [Maurice] of twenty years. The perhaps most significant strand of her new life is her deeper discovery of music, beautifully told narratively as a series of accidents and benevolent interventions of friends and others who care about her, or take pity on a widow with children.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Review: Bears

Darn, those cubs are cute

By Morris Dean

Disneynature's most recent documentary film, Bears (April 2014, directed by Alastair Fothergill & Keith Scholey), seems to me marred by a cutesy narrative (supplied by the voice of John C. Reilly) that oohs and ahs over the antics of grizzly bear cubs Amber & Scout as though Reilly were their uncle competing with some other uncle. There's no doubt, though, that the cubs are cute. I can quote my unsentimental wife on that point; she meant it admiringly, and she doesn't like cutesy any more than I do.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on November 9, 2013]

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 7, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The Union of Concerned Scientists is teaming with the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a special national briefing for UCS supporters about efforts to tackle climate change and increase our country's use of clean, renewable energy like wind and solar.
    Briefing from the White House and EPA on Efforts to Address Climate Change
    Date: Monday, November 17
    Time: 5:15 p.m. EST

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thor's Day: Night's open door

And why not?

By Ralph Earle

On the edge of sleep
again the door opens, that door
through which light pours.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I deal with the stress of an annoying co-worker?

By Susan C. Price

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

I am a 42-year-old woman, who, until six months ago, was out of work for two years. For the past six months, I have been working in an office where I really enjoy my job and am getting on well.
    The problem is the co-worker I share an office with. She is in her 20s, is very loud, and, in my opinion, wears inappropriate clothes to the office – for example, shorts and T-shirts with no bra! Also, she wears very strong perfume that lingers everywhere! She has been here nearly two years, and my other colleagues have told me they too find her irritating and off-putting, which is why she had been in an office of her own until I arrived. The supervisor (male) just shrugs or laughs when we say anything.
    What can I do to ease the stress this situation is causing me! I really need this job and can’t risk being fired if I were to lose it with this office-mate. –Office Worker

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Missionary Kid

My schooling

By Vic Midyett

As I was born in India, the first language I spoke was Bengali, one of over 800 different languages and dialects in India. When it came time for me to start school, Mom and Dad taught me to speak English.
    My first three years of scholastic learning (kindergarten, first and second grades) was via the Calvert Correspondence System mailed to us from America. I was totally in love with Jill from “Jack and Jill” and adored “See Spot Run.”

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Edited by
Morris Dean

Rolf Dumke, greeting trick-or-treaters
On Halloween night, a couple dozen normal-looking neighborhood kids aged between four to fourteen rang our doorbell trick-or-treating. They were dressed nicely as devils and witches, with gargoyles’ faces or with store-bought plastic monster visages, some as cowboys or with other costume party uniforms that were handy, but out of place for Halloween.
    It shows that Halloween in Bavaria is still stuck in a quandary: is it a kind of costume party like carneval, or what?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Review: My Old Lady

Adultery, viager, and their discontents

By Jonathan Price

The French are reputed to say, perhaps thinking of Madame Bovary, that “without adultery there is no novel.” And of course adultery, both practical and literary, is not limited to the French. But there is a French setting for this film My Old Lady (2014) about, among other things, adultery. Israel Horowitz, after 18 years, has made a filmed version of his play, and taken it from its apartment confines and entrances and exits out onto the streets of Paris. And his work’s take on adultery is neither romantic nor particularly sympathetic and, in that way, is refreshing without quite being puritanical.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thirst Satyrday for Eros: Erotic complications of a polygamous household

A product of Wasatch Brewery
A view from Salt Lake City

By Morris Dean

[Like Wednesday's column about Salt Lake City's street nomenclature and yesterday's limerick, playing off "Deseret," today's column was conceived in Salt Lake City, during our visit to Temple Square and admiring the two principal houses lived in by Brigham Young (1801-1877).]

My father-in-law told my wife when she was young (and years before I met her) that in a hard-scrabble economy such as he had experienced in Indiana and Missouri during the Depression, a family needed lots of children to work on the farm.